Monday, December 28, 2009

Giving It Away

So I didn't exactly grow the 'ol bank account in 2009 with my writing. I'm trying to remain optimistic -- my first release wasn't until October. My little gems only had a couple of months to sell themselves. Will 2010 be any better? Dunno.

I'd like to be noble and say "Ah, well I'm not doing it for the money. This is a personal journey and a means of expressing my creativity." 

The second part of that statement is a true statement. I would write and create artwork -- and have for years -- with no other eyes but mine, no other readers but a sister and a friend or two. But as for the first part of the above quote, I'm sorry to say, it's not true. I'm putting myself out there for the money. It's a lot of work to toil over the manuscripts and sweat through the sometimes painful editing process. For that, I'd like to make a buck.

This year I earned just under $400 from my illustrations and writing. *sigh*. It's a punch in the stomach, but in order to liberate myself from any yoke of discouragement, I'll look on the bright side and figure it's $400 I didn't have last year this time. (???) 

To further my personal petting, I'm going to give it all away. The Salvation Army is a most worthy organization and very visible this time of year with the red kettles. I'll write a check to them today. Perhaps in 2010, I'll ask Bill Gates for advice on what to do with my millions.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Scrivener to the Rescue

As promised, I spent the week investigating tools to keep me organized as I write.  Keep the focus. Well, low and behold, I found a software program designed for just that. I downloaded a trial version of Scrivener and have been playing with it all week. I’ll dedicate this blog to sharing some observations. 

Bottom line first? I like it. My WIP is currently at 40,000, intended for about 50,000. I entered all my info into Scrivener and used it in place of Word to continue with the final chapters. Here are some observations of this experience.

The bulletin board is awesome. I can “post” note cards with all my chapter notes and color code them based on whatever category I choose. I chose to make the thumbtacks a different color for whatever POV I was in. Then I put “stamps” on for the heat level of a chapter.

The word processing is about the same as Word, only not quite as smooth. I figured when the story is written, I will do the final formatting and such in Word.

It has a word usage feature. You can scan each chapter to see which words you use A LOT. I did one chapter and it found the word “like” twenty seven times. Yikes…

It has an outliner, but honestly, I did not use it much. I like the bulletin board. It’s visual and so am I.

So does it make you a better writer? No. If you write lousy opening the software, you’ll write lousy closing it. It does nothing to help flesh out character arcs or plot. But it’s not designed for that. It has tremendous value in keeping your details organized and before your eyes. Don’t remember what points you brought up in chapter six? It’s right in front of you on the BB.

I haven’t decided if I will buy it. There are other software packages that might be better, and I will probably give them a quick spin. But I give this one a thumbs up. It does exactly what I have tediously done in an Excel spreadsheet, only with fun colors and a make-believe bulletin board.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Loss of a Cat

I love cats. I have three -- one new little kitten that sniffs my eyes at three in the morning. So when I sat down for a final read on my latest work before submitting it to the Gods, I was crestfallen to realize -- I lost my cat.

About mid-point in the story, my heroine gets a kitten. A nice little side story to peel back layers of her character. But somewhere in the next few chapters, the cat disappears. Whoops. ROOKIE MISTAKE! 

Derr. So I've spent a few days trying to squeeze a cat into scenes where he really doesn't fit. [Don't worry -- I  had the good sense not to include him the sex scenes. He's sleeping or mousing or otherwise occupied at those times]

In Ring Around the Sun, Teal's husky becomes a big part of the story, and it was fun to write him in. Heck, I even made him the hero in the end. With my little gray cat? Hmm. I sure as heck don't want to bring a downer on the story and have him hit by a bus, but I have to say, I'm learning a lesson. Keep track of your pets. In life and in writing!


Monday, November 9, 2009


This weekend I bumped into my sister in the mall parking lot. An odd chance meeting, but my town is not that big. Her car was loaded with "junk" she was taking to the second hand store. By the time we parted company, most of the items from her car were transferred to mine. I chastised myself all the way home. 

Did I really need that puzzle? It had a Dutch windmill. That blouse that she never wore because it made her look pregnant? Nope.

When I got home, I looked around my house and did a one-minute inventory of my shelves and closets. I'm a clutter bug. Once a year or so I do a big sweep and clear out a truck load of things that never made it out of the closet. That faux-pregnancy blouse will probably go at that time.

This post has nothing to do with my writing. Or maybe it does. I saw a sign once that said, if a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what does a completely empty desk say? I think my life is cluttered because I am constantly gathering data. I am creative and see potential in everything. 

My next story is about a Dutch woman trying to fool everyone into believing she was pregnant when in fact....

Thursday, October 29, 2009


What an amazing feeling. . . people will read words that I wrote. Some will be titillated, some will be bored. Heck, some will be offended. I play with the idea that literature is freedom of speech. It's fiction and I made up every word. Over 70,000 of them, strung together into a fictional tale. And to think there is a handful of totally new people walking around in the world that I molded and crafted. Metaphorically of course. Makes me realize how important it is to give them some depth. To extend the metaphor, a weakly created character is like a two-dimensional paper doll. She can't survive in a 3D world. 

Here's to Jessy Tanner, my newest 3D friend. 
ANIMALS, available from Loose-Id. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Starting OVER

Starting over is never easy. My original blog was eaten by cyber space. But I will look on the bright side and look for fresh ideas and ways to make this one better. I remain miffed that kicked my site to the curb and offered no support. But hey…are those flowers?

Do I Need a Bad Guy?

So I have these three characters, and they are all significant. A hero, a heroine    and an antagonist. As I move along in my writing, I find that I’m developing a big  crush on my antagonist. Now we can analyze till the cows come home what this  says about my psychological balance – or imbalance – but what does it mean for  my story?

Can everybody in the story have a happy ending? Is that just a little to warm and  fuzzy? I don’t want this guy to crash and burn. In fact I want him to get lucky. I  might even pull a switcheroo and hook him up with the heroine for a quick fling.

I know – my story, and if it is well written then no harm no fowl. I’m trying to  think of the last book I read where everybody takes the high road. Even Dickens  had Uriah Heep to dump on in the end.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Depth of Voice

Huh? What exactly does that mean? Funny, but I can only come up with what it doesn’t mean.

It’s not making every one in the story a baritone.

It’s not blathering on and on with backstory. You may achieve depth of story – but that is a tightrope of another kind.

It’s not opening the lid on your characters head and sharing every stinking synapse that fires. I’ve gone down that road and ended with a chapter of giant yawns.

So…? I’ve gone to my humble library shelf of “you can write a novel!” references. No glossary definition. Is this like snapping a picture of sunbeams after a rainbow? If it happens, it’s beautiful. But you’re as surprised as anyone when it does.

Is it like a runner’s high? You’ve heard other people get them, but for you, it remains a myth. 

Here’s a shot. Depth of voice means getting into your characters head to reveal pertinent observations about the current setting/situation. It’s controlled wading into murky waters. Watch your step cuz you can’t see the bottom, but step carefully and your toes will gather enough data to keep you going.

Yes, it’s sunbeams after a rainbow. I know when I’ve captured a rich, creative, dynamic snapshot. The scene pops. But I also know when I’ve captured a surficial image of a pretty landscape. Nice, but not on fire. Now if can only figure out the literary “camera settings” to capture the first one every time.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Performance Anxiety?

I’ve observed the parallels between writing and painting. For me, it seems the processes are darn near identical. But now I am feeling the secondary ripple of similarity and I don’t like it. 

I remain humble in my writing accomplishments, and probably will until I see my name on a bestseller list. But here I sit with two books pending release, and I am terrified to write another word. Holy cow, is that like the torments of a visual artist? Yes. 

I remember a landscape I painted – it hangs in my sister’s hall. Everything worked in that painting. The lighting, the textures, the mood, my technique. I received a tiny bit of acclaim (local – all local, perhaps so local as to be largely in my head…) but I couldn’t paint anything for months after that. And it’s not like I didn’t pick up the brushes. I made valiant attempts. But everything looked drab and lacking. 

Now I sit with my computer on my lap and pound out pages. The words reread like the ramblings of an idiot. Or they sound technical, like someone afraid to dig deep. 

Here’s another parallel. When I was in junior high I tried vaulting. Ya know, like in gymnastics? I ran and pounced and flew over the horse like a champ. I was good. The next day in school, everyone high-fived me and the hallway talk was all about the new fabulous vaulter. 

You guessed it. The next gymnastics practice I sucked. Couldn’t vault to save my life. 

Is there a pill for this? Is this classic performance anxiety? Clearly I am prone to it – whatever it is. Help!