Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a wonderful, productive, happy, healthy 2011. 


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Finding Balance in My Life

Taking the Holidays off from blogging to regroup and find a better balance in my life.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you!

2011 Update:  Sometimes, I need to just take a break.  My WiP has been read in its entirety by a Beta reader, and chapter 1 has been edited by an English-teacher friend.  And there it sits.  It's starting to call to me.

Yes, my day-job has been overwhelming at times.  Yes, I have two teenagers in the house.  Yes, I feel like I hardly see my DH.  And yes, my new year's resolution diet has already failed.  My QChord spends most of its time in the case.... 

I did discover that my iPad fits on the book-rack of my exercise bike and I can do all my Internet stuff while pedaling.  It is just a bit of a challenge to type and pedal at the same time.

In the meantime, I've had a new dishwasher on order since Feb 18th.   Wouldn't you know it, my current dishwasher finally did croak over a week ago.  Believe me, I will KISS my new DW when it finally arrives and is installed.  (Long story as to why it's not here yet...which will remain untold).

Anyway, the first two months of 2011 have zoomed by, hardly with any notice.  Hoping to at least grab hold of the caboose and jump on the train soon.  I have a book to edit.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Top Five Things I Love About Christmas

It's less than two weeks until Christmas, so I thought I'd try to narrow down my likes to a "Top Five."  Here they are, in no particular order.

-- I set up a hand-crafted, ceramic manger scene that my wonderful Mother-in-law gave us when we bought our first house.
-- My family has the opportunity to be helpful Christmas Angels.
-- We sing Christmas Hymns at Church, which are some of my favorite carols.
-- For a season, we focus on the miracle of His birth, rejoycing in beginnings, right on into the New Year.
-- We get to visit with my Dear Hubby's family and extended family, and of course eat wonderful food.

What are your favorite things about Christmas?  (or any other holidays!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Those three letters in the YA genre?

Hey, y'all!  Kiersten White has a great discussion going on her blog on this topic.  Check it out!  I posted my comments on her blog.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Luke 2: 1-20

Yet another heart-warming set of verses that speak for themselves. Enjoy!

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Age of the Main Character

How old is the MC in your YA book? Mine is currently 17 years old and I'm being directed to make her younger. I think I can rewrite to make her 15 years old. Your thoughts on this would be really helpful!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Season's Greetings

'Tis the season. 

Hanukkah starts early this year, at sundown on December 1st.  This is also the start of the 25 days of Christmas countdown, and 26 days to Kwanzaa.

A blessed Holiday season to everyone.  Stay warm and safe.  Look to your family and friends.  Celebrate The Light.  Live life to the fullest!

Top Five - a Poem of Novels

I read about doing this on Jen Daiker's unedited blog.  So, in no particular order, here is my Poem of Novels.

I'm an Undomestic Goddess
who fights a War of the Worlds
while Dracula rises up
during a total Eclipse
and says Remember Me.

Four of the five are e-books, so I can't share a pretty picture of books stacked up, all dog-eared from reading.  I wonder if e-readers can track how many times we've read a particular book?  

The Waiting

I'm sure that I'm not alone in saying that there's a certain amount of unbounded excitement when anticipating the return of a copy of my novel with comments. It's such a great feeling to know that my words have reached out to touch someone and perhaps make their life a little bit better because of it.

And I just wrote an entire paragraph without a single comma! Yea me!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my blog acquaintances, friends, and family. I'm sending out a prayer, too, for our servicemen and servicewomen to protect them and their families.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Isaiah 40:27-31

This one just spoke to me, reachingly, longingly.

27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Back up and about

Thank you for the get-well wishes! There seems to be an extremely virulent cold going around locally. Starts with a sore throat, then progresses to a very stuffy nose, and then to a cough. Takes about a week or so to get over it.

My NaNoReMo work, for all my best-made plans, isn't following the timeline that I wanted. Guess it's time to revise the timeline a little bit. I took a year off of song-writing and guitar in order to write my novel, thinking crazily that I'd have an agent and a publisher by the end of the year. My fingers are itching to get back to my guitar strings!

There must be a way to split time between music and sci-fi. There just has to be.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Briefest of Brief

I'm getting over a bad cold, so need to go get my rest.

Some good news--I have another Beta reader.  Looking forward to hearing her feedback in a few days.  :-)

Today marks the 1/2-way point for National Novel Writers (Readers/Revisions) Month.  Go NaNoWriMo!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Psalms 6

This one seems appropriate today because I found out that I have arthritis about 20 years early. All the more reason to take up calm hobbies, like writing novels and doing yoga.

1 O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how long?
4 Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
6 I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.
9 The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.
10 Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brain Block -- How Do I Get Past It?

It's been 3 days since I've worked on editing my book.  I'm struggling with what additional obstacles I can add to the story but still keep it PG-rated.

Yes, I have storyboard-ish notecards where I can just "choose one" and then write about it.

Yes, I have a good plotline (at least that's what my Beta readers said), but just not enough of a build to the climax of the story.

Ideas, O' blog-buddies?  How do you handle editing where you must add sub-plots?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Proverbs 27:1

I wonder if this scripture helped lead to the saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Proverbs 27:1
aBoast not thyself of to bmorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Strangest Rejection Letter I've Ever Received

I've truly only just begun querying, if I look at the "big picture."  Today's shocker was totally unexpected.  I received a long-awaited query response, but it definitely was not what I was expecting. 

The note read, in part: "Thank you for your note.  I am no longer an agent...and will now be working in...  If you'd like to submit to another agent..., please visit our website for a list of agents and our submission guidelines.."

The first thing on my mind was a blog-buddy who was repped by this agent.  Thankfully, I read a post where another agent at the same literary agency picked up representation.  Whew!

That's kinda like when a favorite teacher retires, or goes off to jail, as my 4th-grade teacher did, mid-year.  Seeing how hurt I was, my parents allowed me to write a letter to this teacher and read his remorseful response. 

An agent's quitting is similar to a breach of writer/reader trust, as was so dutifully discussed on another blog-buddy's blog this week. 

In the end, though, after combing through my emotions like curly hair on a humid day, I have to wish this agent the best for himself and his family.

I thought about the chosen and unexpected career changes that I've made, too.  Technician to trainer, to process writer, to project manager, to program manager.  And also, poet to actress, singer to musician, reader to writer.  And single to married to mother.

We change and grow throughout our lives.  We, for the most part, can only choose how we ourselves will act and react.  Circle of life, yeah.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How many hours writing each day?

I've learned that everyone either won't admit their favorite writing snacks (see previous post), or that we're all too busy to blog this week.

So, let's try another.  How many hours do you spend writing each day?  Not staring out the window, not doing research; actually putting fingers to keys, or pen to paper.  Just writing.

I must admit, I'm still in sporadic mode, due to a more-than-full-time job, a husband, sons, and volunteer work at my church.   Also, some nights, like tonight, fibromyalgia pain just conquers me. 

When I really, really sit down to write, 1-2 hours is about all my fingers can handle.  After that, my brain feels kinda fuzzy, too.  Like a favorite sweater just out of the dryer.  A good feeling of accomplishment that I just have to wear while it's still warm.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What's your favorite writing snack?

What's your favorite snack when you're writing?

Mine is peppermint tic tacs.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Psalm 23

One of my favorite Psalms.

 Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Top Five Procrastinations

For Top Five this week, I decided that it would be a really great idea to get my procrastinations down in writing, so that I can be sure to not commit to them. I typically don't do the tasks that I put down on paper, unless I'm forced to do them.

So, with that logic, typing out my procrastinations must drain them of their power. I'm gearing up for NaNoReMo, starting on Monday. I'm giving myself one month to turn 29,000 words into 50,000 words or more!

With no further introduction, here are my top five procrastinations, in no particular order.

--I'm too (tired/hungry/frazzled)!
--The (insert room or item here) needs (cleaning/folding/fixing).
--It's too noisy!
--I have to finsh X Project or Y task for work.
--My (pet, child, Dear Hubby) wants to play.

Hmmm, maybe I won't ignore Dear Hubby on that last one. ;-)

Are you ready for November?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Hi, I'm taking a blog-cation this week.  Have a great week and see (some of) y'all for NaNoReMo next week!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Proverbs 3:5-8

This week's selection is beautiful, and speaks for itself.

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Little-known Talents

We all have our little-known talents, the ones that we keep mostly to ourselves and never ever share, unless hard-pressed to tell. Sometimes these talents are unexpected gifts, and sometimes we work very hard at them. Today's the day to share those talents, tell the world, or at least the dozen or so readers of my blog.

My unexpected gift talent: curly hair. My hair was wavy until I had my sons. Now it's curly. In rainy weather, it's frizzy. The up-side is that my hair is never, ever flat.

My talent that took many years of practice: veggie stir-fry. I can chop and fry up a yummy set of veggies. Took years to develop good knife skills, and years longer to not over-season the mix. Today's lunch was a stir-fry in light olive oil of portabella mushrooms, yellow peppers, celery, and carrot, seasoned with lite soy sauce and ume plum vinegar, and finished with sliced garlic, sliced green olives, and fresh lime juice, all served over a bed of baby field greens.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I've Been Shot!

Yes, I received my flu shot today. Have you gotten yours?

Also, since I have asthma, I get the pneumonia vaccine every five years. Guess what? Today, I won the prize. My right shoulder is hurting, too. A shot in each arm. Don't know how I'm ever going to get to sleep tonight.

In other news... Who's doing either NaNoWriMo, NaNoReMo, or NaNoReaMo? That's writing, revising, and reading in November. I think the only officially-recognized activity is writing a novel in a month. It has it's own website and local groups, too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course. Kiersten White's blog entry today reminded me of how hard we work to write and rewrite and rewrite just one book. And we do this over and over again. Kiersten asks about how we do it.

I know that writing isn't easy for me--I'm not an English major and I haven't written stories my entire life. I dream them, but write them down? Only in poetry and songs. Until now, that is.

Another way to look at this... My family and I have read our entire set of scriptures, at about 5 pages a sitting. Amazing, isn't it? One small bite at a time, we've accomplished more reading of the Holy Word than many people do in a lifetime. Now that our dear children are a little older, we read a little less and discuss a little more.

This is a good pattern for revisions. Write a little less and discuss or listen, more. I want the essence of the main character to speak through me. I want to hear the river from far off, as was discussed in Bryan Russell's blog post:

I want to close in on the river, zero in on the dragonfly, and make ripples in the stream, feeling the water move gently through my fingers. I need to tune my listening ear, and send that through my fingers to the keyboard.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stretch Goals

Last week, I set a goal for myself to query one agent per day.  That lasted precisely 4 days.   (In case anyone's wondering, yes, I did receive a rejection...haven't heard from the rest, yet).

Agent #5 asks for complicated details...I just can't whip this one together, nor do I want to.  Based on the feedback from lots of folks at the First 250 Words blogfest (Thank you Elle Strauss), I need to rewrite the beginning just a little.

So...there will be a slight delay on Agent Query #5, while I do a minor rewrite of the first 10 pages, and also shrink the synopsis into a single page.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Proverbs 19:22

This one is food for thought, to ponder and understand.

The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

When I read this verse, I think of the qualities of a liar, and also the many possible qualities of one who considers himself to be poor. If a man is full of kindness, that man should never be poor in spirit or alone in the world.

First 250 Words Blogfest

My contribution to Elle Strauss' first 250 words blogfest...has been removed for revisions.  Thank you for your input, everyone!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Top Five - Things I Collect

We all collect something. Here are the top five things that I collect, in no particular order.

-- Pens, Pencils, Highlighter Pens. My fave pencil has pre-sharpened push-up lead, and smells like fruit and vanilla.

-- Ology Books. Egyptology, Monsterology, Alienology, etc. These are super-cool books with lots of flaps to lift, pockets of stuff, stories.

-- Sparklies! (Need I say more?)

-- Twilight Saga Movie Books. These are a great "making of" memoir.

-- Quick & Easy Recipes. Never enough hours in the day!

What things do you collect?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just an Ordinary Day

Just an Ordinary Day

Just an ordinary day, she says,
as she looks at stacks of dishes,
picturing feather-soft pillows beckoning.

A crisis-free day so rarely occurs,
in the life of a mother, wife,
co-worker, daughter, and friend.

Dishes washed, she sighs,
at the quiet house, all asleep,
at the end of this ordinary day.

Copyright 2010 by Michelle Sue Vann
permission granted to link or reprint,
as long as credit is given to the author.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have you got your copy?

Latest additions to my library that I'm looking forward to reading:

The Scorch Trials, which is the sequel to James Dashner's The Maze Runner.  This is an upper-middle-grade save-the-world story with a twist.  (not to give the plot away).  Not for the faint of stomach.

Scumble, which is the companion book to Ingrid Law's Savvy.  This is a young middle-grade fantasy that shows key interpersonal relationships. 

War of the Worlds interactive iPAD storybook app, presented by Smashing Ideas, Inc.  I read about this in USA Today and just had to give it a try!  I haven't read WotW yet, anyways.  It was on my list of must-read someday.  I look forward to being amazed at the awesomeness of an interactive book.

These should keep me busy for awhile!

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm So Brave That...

...I sent a query to an agent who is on vacation! Imagine that?

Truly, I'm thinking about all the revisions I could make to bring my book up to YA status, and I keep thinking about my 8-year-old beta reader who absolutely loves my book, and wouldn't be allowed to read it if I went with YA themes.

Somehow, I just can't disappoint her, yet, so I'm going to try to find an agent who'll rep a Middle Grade fantasy sci-fi.

Would appreciate suggestions on agents to query, even if it's just to tally-up my rejections for a month or two. :O}

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Proverbs 6:16-19

I'm choosing these verses in Proverbs as an example of how not to be. We should be just the opposite, but wouldn't it be interesting to start a fictional character on this path and see what happens to her as she learns the errors of her ways?

16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

My Badge of Honor

I'm wearing my first rejection as a badge of honor. I feel like I've passed through a doorway that was previously closed to me.

I have choices now. I choose to do a commercialized rewrite of my story and to bring it up to par with the expectations of a YA novel. More at stake, more romance, more conflict, more competition, just more. I have a lot of personal experiences to pull from, come to think of it. :-)

It's a whole new ballgame, baby!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Top Five - Things That I do to Procrastinate

I am a professional procrastinator. Here are my top five reasons (excuses!)to not do anything, in no particular order:

--I have to work / do something else first
--My (blank) hurts
--I'm too tired
--(favorite show) is on TV
--It's too noisy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Write a Synopsis

What? You believed the title line of this post? Truly, I haven't written one since I wrote my last book report in about 9th grade. Yes, I am an engineer, not an English major. Please forgive my misuse of all past-tense verbs...there appears to be several past-tenses in English that I never studied. I go with what sounds right, which is probably wrong, but I digress.

Synopsis! That's what I was talking about.

For Book One, I finally figured out that I should write my first pass through the synopsis "in character," to retain the flavor of the story. I could downgrade to 3rd-person later, if needed.

The advice that I've read in the blogs for how to write a synopsis, is to craft a mid-level, blow-by-blow account of the story, leaving out characters who are not critical to the plot-lines. This should be 2-3 pages, either single-spaced or double-spaced, depending on the recipient's preference. It should have some of the flavor of the story, but should not be literary (overly prettied-up). It should flow when read aloud. It should be able to be extracted to a dust-cover. It should include the ending, hiding nothing.

Did I get that right? For those of you with experience in writing a synopsis, is there anything else that I should include or not include?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ode to Fair Weather

Sunny sky, smiling at me,
Beckoning me to
leave my desk, and
run, as fast as I can.

Outside, away from
keyboards and
towards fresh air
and sunlight.

Monday, October 4, 2010

General impressions of Author panel

Following Saturday's author panel, I'm left with general impressions, rather than distinct memories. Here are some that stuck in my rather permeable mind.

There are many different approaches to writing, almost as varied as the snacks that we eat while writing. My snack is peppermint tictacs, by the way.

There are differing book lengths, starting at about 50,000 words.

Fantasy elements are only consistent within the same author's books. Each author creates their own world.

Some authors focus more on romance, and others focus on non-romantic interpersonal relationships.

Even published authors struggle sometimes.

The multi-book series is very popular right now. I liked learning that one!

The road to publication differs, too.

Some authors struggled for years before getting published.

Authors are very giving, sharing, kind people.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Psalms 118:24

 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Austin Teen Book Festival

Something happened today that I never expected. I heard several published authors answer questions in a panel discussion. Words cannot express my joy!

More on this next week.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Eureka! and Top Five--Things to do while traveling

The lightbulb finally clicked!!!  I figured out the backstory behind a complex plot point in Book Two.   Let the mountains shout for joy! 

For those lonely folks on book tour, outside of your fabulous meet-n-greets, book signings, and pre-arranged meals, I'm listing my top five favorite things to do when traveling without my family.  Here they are, in no particular order:

-- Get extra sleep

-- Take a long bath without interruptions!

-- Hold the TV controller to surf channels (or not surf, your choice)

-- Phone friends or family without interruptions (on your side, at least)

-- Sleep in the middle of the bed.  Yes, the middle!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Back to Where I Began

When I began my writing journey, I had only a story idea and a single reference book, "The Basic Formulas of Fiction," by Foster-Harris.  I also acquired his follow-up book, "The Basic Patterns of Plot."  Both are still available for re-sale at my favorite .com bookstore.

What I truly need to do, is re-read Foster-Harris' books, picking up check-points for editing. 

One question in my mind, though, is does the main character, or a supporting character, always have to be in some sort of personal, physical peril at some point in the story?  I prefer emotional twists and turns to physical peril, myself. 

I'm finding that I have used primarily the subjective view, and worked in the objective view, as needed.  The verbs could probably be scrubbed to add more color, and depending on whether the book ends up MG or YA, I will need to tailor or add additional thematic elements, and another 5,000 to 20,000 words. 

I feel like I'm in a "holding pattern," because I can't proceed past chapter 2 of book 2, until I have a definite answer on the genre. 

At least I can continue my research, so that I'm well-prepared to pick up my iPad and type, when the time comes!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Need Help!!! Character Development Worksheet

I found a great character development chart at The only trouble is that it's five pages long!!!

My challenge to you, dear readers, is to please take a look at the character development chart and tell me what you think are the five most important attributes to note about each character.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Yup, it's Monday

Ok, so I'm really fortunate to work with people from all over the world!!! Wouldn't trade it. Just sometimes, I'd like a little more sleep, because things always seem to be more impossoble when I'm sleepy. Especially writing.

Please excuse the lack of a blog post for today. I'll try again tomorrow!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Ruth 1:16-17

This is one of my favorite princess scriptures. By princess, I mean someone with true, unselfish compassion and charity:

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

Share a Talent--Life in a Day

Just sharing the wierdness that I contributed to the great YouTube social experiment, "Life in a Day."

The audio starts several seconds in. Yes, that's me talking without a script!

If the link doesn't work, search YouTube for insightme86.

Friday, September 24, 2010

An Ode, to Commas

Comma, why do you torment me so,
Jumping merrily through my paragraphs,
Leaving seemingly random footprints?

Comma, you challenge me,
To sleeplessness,
While trying to make sense,
Of your purpose and placement.

Comma, you pause for breath,
At some of the least opportune,
Leaving me helpless, in your wake.

Comma, show me the true path,
The one path,
That leads to correct placement,
And meaning.

Comma, skip most lightly
Through my writing,
And send me on
My merry way.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Umpteenth read!

Yes, I'm reading my book again! I'm only writing what I want to read, so why shouldn't I read it? :-)

Seriously, though, I've noticed that the book "reads easier" starting about half-way through. This may be partly due to the original draft being written in present tense for the first 11 chapters, and partly due to writing skill and comfort level increasing as I kept on writing.

Finding my writing voice has definitely been a journey! My only question now to myself, since my iPad won't give me the answer, is whether the next edit should focus the book more towards Middle-grade readers, or YA readers? At this moment in time, I don't have the expertise to make that decision myself.

No matter how many blogs I read, or how many red pens I wield, I'm not a trained editor, (at least not yet!).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Have you ever had one of those days where you wanted to go back to sleep? A do-over?

Today wasn't quite one of those days, but I am really, really sleepy. There's pretty much only one true cure for sleepiness.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top Five Reasons Why I Love Living "Out in the Country"

Here are my top five reasons why I love living "out in the country," in no particular order.

- I can play music and movies as loudly as I want to
- My dear hubby can drive a tractor for hours (He loves to drive anything with wheels!)
- There aren't daily fights in the hallways at school
- We can have friends over to shoot fireworks on the 4th of July
- We have a really big garden in the summer

It was really difficult to narrow this list down to five!

Monday, September 20, 2010


This is definitely different from book one! I've chosen to reveal a key secret in Chapter 2 and another in Chapter 3. It is from these secrets, that the challenges of this book evolve.

Knowledge can be both a blessing and a bit of...well not quite a curse, but more like something that can weigh heavily on your mind and drive you to make choices that you might not otherwise ever have to make.

I remember in college when I was having difficulty in the Electrical Engineering program. Physics and differential equations just weren't my thing, but I really loved electronics labs. So, I changed my major to Electronics Engineering Technology, unaware that my dream job at N.A.S.A. just went away. Yes, it's true. N.A.S.A. didn't recognize my ET degree. I was pretty crushed when I found that out, let me tell you!

But as with most doors closing, I found a window. One of my ET classes was an introduction to Telecommunications course. I loved it so much that I chose to add an emphasis in Telecommunications to my degree. Guess what? I'm now working for one of the largest Telecom companies in the world, and have been since 1995, if you count mergers and acquisitions. The learnings from college helped me gain knowledge as I applied these learnings to my job. If I hadn't changed my major from EE to ET, I would have had a completely different life than I do now.

And so it is, too, with the main character, Hallyn, in Book 2. She'll have a difficult choice to make in Chapter 3, that will change her life forever.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Psalms 30: 4-5

4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?

5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

In all I say and do, I choose to put my trust in my Heavenly Father.

Share a Talent - more on songcrafting

This one is a crossover song that I wrote. A crossover song means that it crosses genres, in this case, Christian rock, and popular music.

If the link doesn't work, just search on insightme86 in YouTube.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Feature Friday - Middle Grade v. Young Adult

Today's Feature Friday is sharing a link to a great discussion on Hannah Moskowitz' blog. (language warning on the comments)

Hannah discusses something that I couldn't quite grasp. What really is the difference between the themes in a young adult book versus the themes in a middle-grade book? Personally, other than boyfriend-girlfriend stuff, I couldn't have told you the difference.

I truly believe the lines between MG and YA are blurring somewhat, though, because a current best-seller has both types of storylines that Hanna mentions in it. Yes, Kiersten White, that's your book. Yay!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Need feedback on my Bio

OK, tonight was a busy one! Typed out all of Book Two Chapter One and also drafted my Bio. Need some feedback, please!

Michelle Sue Vann entered life in a little town known as Las Vegas. Her childhood years took her to the mountain regions of the Pacific Northwest, where her first paying job was repairing and shelving books in a used-book store. A college degree in Engineering Technology with an emphasis in Telecommunications prepared her to live in the present world and to dream of the future. Michelle's imagination has been running non-stop since childhood, though only recently has she started writing fiction. Interstellar Creations is the first of many books.

Thank you!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ode to Fingernails

O' fingernails, how I miss thee.  Beautiful talons that perfectly matched my long fingers, but got in the way of touch-typing!  With a clip-click-clip, you disappeared this morning.  Two weeks of growing and you were you are gone gone gone, until I finish with Book Two and some probable edits/revisions/expansions on Book One.  (*sigh*)

On a writing note, I wish I'd heard the tip about reading a book out loud to make revisions!  I think it's a really good one!  Not sure how my family will feel about that, because I get grief enough from them when I have to practice a song for choir, audition, or performance!  I can't imagine what they'll think about hearing 150 pages read out loud!  (At least it won't be as repetitive as practicing a song!)

Anyway, on with Book Two.  I've figured out my opening and how to get into obstacle #1.  The first chapters should go pretty quickly as the pictures form in my head.  It's funny how I have to see it before I can write it, because it's just the opposite for my business writing.  In business writing, I write, rearrange, revise...but it's first on paper (no pretty pictures in my head)! 

If you've read this far, I have a challenge for you!  Type with your opposite thumb (or a different finger) on the space-bar.  See how your thoughts come out differently when you have to slow down and really THINK about what you're typing!  It's pretty cool.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book two title and research

For Book One, my title was aleady selected, with the website names reserved before I even put one word to paper. Book two's title is proving to be rather elusive. I could do a play on words, selecting something that rhymes with Interstellar Creations, or I could simply name the book, Interstellar Creations Book Two: (book title goes here).

Haven't decided which I like better. So, instead of writing, tonight I did a little research reading. My research reading is titled, "Podkayne of Mars.". It's a coming-of-age young adult science fiction book by Robert Heinlein, copuright 1963. "Poddy" may have inspired other authors and script-writers to write stronger female charaters. It's this strength of conviction that I truly want to capture in Book Two.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Manic Monday - Choosing the plotlines for book two

I'm finding that I have enough minor plotlines to fill several books. That's probably good news for anyone but a novice writer!!!

All of my possible possible major and minor plotlines are being written onto notecards so that I can arrange them in any order that might make sense.

From what I'm reading out in Internet author discussions, I also need to start my character notebook, so that I can keep names and physical characteristics consistent from book to book.

So, the essence of this Manic Monday is a push to develop the plot arcs for books two and three.

The only challenge is that my target audience may change, based on what any potential editor might want. My current book draft is for the 8-12 year-old advanced readers, but could be expanded and enhanced for the next level of reader. Not sure if I should target books 2 and 3 for Young Adults (YA)?

Decisions, Decisions.

Late-night update: Major plot-lines are now identified for books 2 and 3, with oodles of minor plotlines to choose from. Using index cards worked out pretty well!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Psalm 23

Folks, I keep the Sabbath on Sunday with my family. For those reading my blog, I'd like to share a scripture with you each week on Saturday. Today's Psalm is in tribute to those who have lost or given their lives since 9/11.

Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Share a Talent Saturday - song crafting

Today is my first Share a Talent Saturday! I'd like for this to be a forum where we share a poem or a link to a song or video. Keep it clean, please. This is a family-friendly blog.

To kick things off, I'm sharing a song that I co-wrote. Yes, that is me singing. Read the lyrics and sing along with me!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Feature Friday - Michelle Vann

Today is my first Feature Friday, and to kick this off in style (!) I've decided to profile myself.

I was born in the Southwest, grew up in the Pacific Northwest, graduated from college in the wonderful state where I now reside, and also worked in the Midwest and Southeast. I have family in the Northeast, so I have seen a lot of this great nation!

I'm happily married and have two children in middle school (Jr High).

My day job keeps me very busy, working from my home office.

One thing to share is that my hair color and hair style change almost as often as my moods!

I live with my family, an inside cat, and an outside dog. We keep a coop of hens for farm-fresh eggs.

I'm currently serving as a chorister, or music leader, at Church.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Top Five Movies

Episode #2 of my Top Five is pretty easy. These are the Top Five Movies that I like on September 9th, 2010. The list could change next week! Here they are, again in no particular order:

--The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010), for showing humor and style in life-threatening situations.
--Knowing, for a mystery full of twists and turns that kept surprising me through the entire movie.
--Twilight Saga: Eclipse, for some great guy/guy dialog that doesn't include bloodshed.
--Another Cinderella Story, Dancing Ever After, because my secret love is princess movies, and what is better than to have one with song, dance, and comedy!
--How to Train Your Dragon, for showing that a geeky nerd can rise to the occasion and become a hero.

To be one of my favorites, I look for good casting, directing, cinematography, special effects, and actors/actresses who can really play off of each other and take risks, rather than just reciting dialogue... Waiting for 3 of these to be released on DVD!!!

What are your top 5 movies today, and why?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First list of Top Fives! Favorite books!

In a spur-of-the-moment decision, I'm starting a list of my Top Fives. Why, Top Fives? This is to avoid some of the rather lame comments in a top ten... Also, there's always more than five, so I can present my select favorites, rather than reaching to fill out a top ten.

Make sense? Good! Here we go! Since this is a writer's blog, I'm starting with my...

Top Five favorite books, in no particular order:
-- My Side of the Mountain, for training me to live in the wilderness, if I ever need to do that.
-- Jane Eyre, for one of the greatest mystery / romances, ever!
-- Anything by Jane Austen, for teaching me about how people really communicate, even if the words are unspoken.
-- The Twilight Saga, for showing me that my family will survive without me if I escape for days into a fantasy.
-- Young adult sci-fi by Robert Heinlein, for teaching me about other political possibilities, and for teaching me about how various people act in extreme situations.

What are your Top Five books, and why?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Patience. I know that I do not have enough of it. I know that the Lord grants us an infinite amount of it.

Time passes ever so slowly while waiting for THE WORD on my first query.

I've decided to not send my question yet.... I want to give it a couple more days. Not that I expect to hear back so soon, but that I don't want to seem pushy and impatient.

And the rain from TS Hermine comes pouring down!

9/14/2010 follow-up

I sent my question on 9/13 and received an answer on 9/14. How totally awesome is that?!?! Love this publisher already!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Learning about the business

Today, I spent several hours reading through Nathan Bransford's wonderful blog. It's chock-full of great information about how to be a good author.

This is soo much more than just writing and sharing. It's a multi-step process with no definite timeline. Not something a Program Manager like me really wants to hear!!!

We are where we are, though, and I'll make the best of it.

One thing I'm still a little confused about is the role of the Agent/Editor, when it's a single person. I'll send an e-mail over to the good folks at.... to learn more.

In other news, I had a great holiday weekend with my right thumb (read, space-bar thumb) in a brace due to tendonitis! Yes, I'm typing this post using my left thumb on the space-bar. So frustrating! No, this wasn't due to my book-writing. That draft was finished over a month ago.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A great read!

I just devoured Paranormalcy in one sitting. What a great read!!!

There were plot twists and turns that even I did not expect. Nicely done, Kiersten White!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Query #1

Query #1 is on its way--via snail-mail of all things. :-)

I hope to hear back in 2-3 months. This down-time will give me a chance to put the timeline, or arc, onto paper, as well as my ideas for other books.

And, believe it or not, after trying another file format, I finally got my book loaded onto my e-book reader. Voila! I'm published!!! (If only to myself...)

The working title of my book is "Interstellar Creations"

Christine graduated from High School with big dreams. While on her way from a small town in Texas to New York City, she's swept into an even bigger adventure!

New Earth in the year 2420 is not quite what we imagined it would be. Hallyn Christine and her assistant dog, Molly, have been brought forward in time, from the year 2010, to assist Interstellar Creations, Inc. with a critical task. Humanity's future depends on her success.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Draft 3 is complete!

After 20 months of effort, my book is finally ready to send out for queries!!!


Truthfully, I haven't quite wrapped my mind fully around this fact.

Milestone #2 will be met on-time!!! My personal goal is to send out my book draft no later than the end of August.

Much to do yet, tonight, in formatting and forms-filling-out.

Hi ho, hi's off to work I go!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Feedback and Editing

Feedback was requested and received.

I'm not as thick-skinned as I hoped I would be.

Final revisions are in progress this weekend.

Still on track for sending out my query letters by August 31st!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How to start a story

A friend today asked me for the basics of how I got started with my story. I'd like to share my answer so that I don't forget:

Regarding writing a book, I've trained for years as a technical writer, but happened upon a guideline for fiction writing that intrigued me.

My "bible" for fiction writing is actually a couple of really old books that you can still purchase used on
"The Basic Formulas of Fiction, revised edition" by Foster-Harris, copyright 1947 and 1960
and, "The Basic Patterns of Plot" also by Foster-Harris, copyright 1959

I did some research into the genre by reading a few of the more well-accepted adult books, picking out what I liked and finding flaws to avoid. You can read summaries in my blog.

My first draft through, I put place-holders or guesses for researched detail, which I picked up on my second draft. That way, I didn't "get stuck" anywhere. I had more fun doing the research, too, because there wasn't pressure to complete it in order to progress with the story. On the first draft, too, descriptions and conversations were pretty sketchy, for the most part. My goal was to "speed through" the writing to see where the story would lead. I always had the end in mind, but didn't know how I'd get from A to Z exactly.

One of the key things to remember in fiction writing, is to always "ghost in" an item before you actually need it, because nothing appears out of thin air. I can't use a hammer if the reader didn't know that I had a hammer, or hadn't heard about a tool-box several pages or chapters prior to actually needing to use it.

Another key point is that paragraphs aren't always broken at logical breaks, but where they best "lead" the reader to the next paragraph. Helps with flow.

Choose a voice (think, verb tense), and see if it works. My first draft, I changed voices about 10 chapters in and had to do a lot of re-writing on the second draft.

Remember that your protagonist has both strengths and key flaws that must be overcome. These could be physical or emotional in appearance.

As Foster-Harris teaches, don't over-plan your story. Just let it flow. I'll also add, let it sit sometimes for a day or two to ponder what comes next or what needs to be done differently.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Can I Fly

Yes, I took that leap off of a narrow ledge into the waiting clouds below. Sure hope I remembered to bring a parachute!

Seriously, after reviewing comments from my son, my book is out out for review by two (yes, only two!) wonderful families who have daughters.

I've written a girls' book, and I'm OK with that.

My next task is to draft a query letter to try to find an agent! It's a little difficult because my story doesn't cleanly fit the classic plot model.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Second draft is done!!! Complete!!! Ready for me to load into an e-book reader as a .pdf file and experience it.

As long as I don't find any major flaws, and only spelling problems, I will add page breaks on the chapters, and print out review copies over the weekend.

Can't wait!!!

Just not tonight. I'm exhausted, but a good exhausted!!! It's been ten long months of research and writing. It's been 19 months since I first had a dream that I actually saw the ending to, which gave me the idea for this story.

I'm so thankful for my family for allowing me to take this journey.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's Not for me to Judge

With only three chapters remaining to be re-written, my alter-ego is kicking in.

"What if it's not good enough?"

"What if no-one likes the story?"

"What if I don't find an agent?"

And then I realized, that this is not for me to judge. My job is just to put the creativity out there. My job is to gain the best feedback possible.

My job is to listen.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Am I imagining things?

Am I imagining things, or is this real? Do I truly only have 11 chapters waiting to be re-written? Yes!

In small steps, most goals become possible. Like reading the Bible cover-to-cover, or learning to play an instrument.

So, too, is this book. I don't really know why I feel driven to complete it. Writing is difficult for me, especially verb tenses.

This weekend is exciting because the characters are starting to come alive, with hopes and dreams, and challenges of their own.

Well, time to get back to writing!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chapter 15 is done!

Yes, the first week of my lead character's life in her new world has been drafted into my iPad! I'm at about 60 pages of 8-1/2 by 11 paper. Fifteen chapters down, thirteen (or more!) to go.

On the good-news front, I've been given guidelines from people at my work for marketing my book, about what I can and cannot say, in relation to my company. So, in a few weeks, I'll be trying to find a literary agent. That's a mouthful! I'll say it again, literary agent! Literary agent!

Also in a few weeks, I'll be printing out copies for my reviewers. Learned a hard lesson from an author who lost almost an entire book by sending it out for review via e-mail. The reviewer then sent it to friends for input, and one of these friends, or friends of friends, published it on the Internet. My review copies will have the reviewer's name in the footer of each printed page. Problem solved.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Too tired to dance!

I'm too tired to dance! The hands are strong, but sore from exertion. The brain is unwilling to adjust to a different rhythm from that of my keyboard. The heart is busy celebrating the half-way point of my book re-write. The back is trying not to hunch over. The legs are like rubber, and somewhat glued to the pillow that sits atop my chair. Surprisingly, the feet are somewhat willing, but one is broken, and sits in a brace and a walking boot.

Yes, I'm too tired to dance, so my celebration of being half-way through my re-write is a quiet one. A simple stretching of my hands towards the heavens. I am indeed thankful!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thank You!!!

I'm so sorry for ignoring my blog followers! What would I do without you, my friends?

That was definitely a rhetorical question because I know that without all the support and encouragement that I could not write! It was really humbling to see the great kindness I received when reading a couple of snippets from chapter 1 on talent night at Church.

I thank our Heavenly Father for sending me the dreams and ideas that have become my first draft, and for giving me the strength and courage to continue writing.

I'd personally like to thank Apple for this amazing iPad on which I'm composing my second draft. My iPad and I are working on the rewrite of chapter 6 (of 28), by the way!!!

Still on track to complete 2nd draft by the end of August.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chapter 3

Working on broadening my perspective a bit. Chapter 3 is where We meet several additional characters. I need to be able to present each with a distinctive personality and speaking pattern. This is taking much longer than I thought. I need to be more observant!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spring Fever, Part Two

Seems to me like I would have found a cure by now, but alas...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spring fever!

It must be Spring fever because the last thing that seems attractive to me is spending additional hours chained to a desk when I could be outside!

I've never really had Spring fever before, or at least not that I've noticed.

There must be a cure!

There she sat, no food, no water, chained by the ankles to her desk. The chapters almost rewrote themselves, with the words flying onto the pages. Thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds, and colors all melded together into one cohesive whole....

Yeah, I wish! M.u.s.t. F.i.n.d. A. C.u.r.e.....

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Decisions Decisions

OK, so I did a little research online and found out that for a work of fiction, it's supposed to be "complete" before seeking an agent.

I have only 2 out of 28 chapters re-written ....  *sigh*

Maybe if I ask a few more people I'll get a different answer.  :-)

In the meantime, this week I will do better at making time to write, and less time procrastinating on the other things that I know that I need to get done.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The iPad is AWESOME!!!

To quote Steve Jobs, "It just works." Yes, the iPad is an awesome tool, and when paired with the docking station keyboard, typing is smooth and very very fast.

I still need one more app, though--the one for Blogger. :-) So, I'm typing this update from a trusty PC.

Back to the real reason I'm writing today. Chapters 1-2 are in "completed draft" form!!! At a little under 2,000 words, I can estimate that my finished book will be around 30,000 words, which is respectable for a first attempt.

The only question that I have in my mind is whether I should start shopping for an agent today, or if I should wait until I have more of the second draft completed?

Maybe I'll ask someone who's a published author, and I can also check a few discussion boards.

No time like the present!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Slight change of plans

This may sound strange, but.... I never felt comfortable with my laptop, even though I wrote the entire first draft on it. I have no idea why it didn't feel right.

So, I decided to change tactics. I have a new tool and it's running Pages, not Word or Works.

Looking forward to starting Draft #2!

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Not Half Bad

...considering that I had mono when I started writing it. Need to fix some of the flow and some of the character names. Flashback memories need to be added. Some forshadowing (foreshadowing?) needs to be added, so that the climax of the story flows better.

As a 100-page outline, it's pretty good. The basic plot and sub-plots flow well, and it's (in my opinion) a very good story.

What can make the tedious job of an entire re-write seem more fun? Maybe some rewards--non-food, of course.

One thing that I need to work on is what comes before and after the story. Partly, in case I decide to write a prequel and a sequel, and partly so that the characters all seem more real.

Per Foster-Harris, I need to add "movement and feeling." I also need to add "tags" that distinguish both appearances and mannerisms, force and resistance.

So, I'll be putting in a lot of desk-time over the next several weeks. Am I ready?

Friday, March 19, 2010

They asked for a sequel!!

Well, this is some good news! Not only do my kiddos like my book, they want me to write a SEQUEL!!! How cool is that?!?!

The most difficult step comes next. I actually have to read my first draft myself, and plan out the revision. Maybe this comes easily for some people, but re-writes have not been my strong point.

In the business world, I'm always trying to remember the rules and find less confrontational language. In the sci-fi author world, I'm wondering if I need to follow any rules other than those outlined by Foster-Harris?

Probably not!

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's finally in print!

Yes, my book is finally in print. One draft copy, courtesy of my home printer. It's an eerie feeling to see almost 10,000 words all in one place and know that I wrote them.

The good news is that it's Spring Break and my two reviewers are now available. The scary part is, of course, what if they don't like the story?

I'll tell them not to tell me if they don't like it... just to tell me what needs to be added or changed. After they're finished reading and writing their remarks, we'll discuss and plan out the revision. And then the work begins again! Somehow, I thought that writing should be easy.

Oh, hey, I did just finish reading a really great book! It's called "The Christ Report" and is the story of a journalist at the end of his life who needs to believe, and an innkeeper 2,000 years earlier who needs to be believed. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sometimes I'm wrong

Sometimes I'm wrong. Rarely do I feel the need to trashcan a book or movie. With The Abyss, immediately after I finished watching the director's cut, I tossed it. The language was horrid! Bring on the mystery, blood and guts, and even some mild suspense, but boy 'o boy, if you can't find better words than swear words, you need to think harder!!! And, by the way, this was a James Cameron movie, both written and directed by him. I haven't seen Avatar. Hope he's learned to keep the language clean. I don't remember this problem with Titanic. Guess I'll need to re-watch that one, too. (Now it's research!).

Stepping off my tree-stump now... :-)

Friday, March 5, 2010

I finished the first draft!!!!

After a marathon four hours of writing, the first draft is finally complete! Whoop!!! At almost 20,000 words, it's far short of novel-length, so I shall treat it as a detailed outline with 50% of my writing complete.

After my key editors take first read through, the summer will be for rewriting before my more professional editors receive a copy. Of course, before I send out any query letters, I have to get legal approval from my company. One of the great responsibilities of working for a large coporation is complaince with the code of business conduct, which colors many aspects of my life.

So, what can a sleepy, overworked author do to celebrate? Snuggle with my hubby and watch a movie or two, of course! one of my favorites was hollering to me from the bin at the grocery store--'The Abyss' in an extended version that I've never seen. Should be cool!!!

One other item to note: Thank you to my first blog follower! One of my greatest and best friends of all time.

So little to do and so much time... Reverse that!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Time passes quickly

Time, it passes quickly when we have much to do that is fun. It passes even more quickly when there are chores undone...

My excuse this week for not writing is that I had a cake pan and a skillet that I just could not get washed. So, the way I'm going to finish the last 2.5 chapters of this book is to keep up with the dishes! Sounds simple enough, eh?

In my story, the key decision-maker has entered the scene and a gift of the heroine's choosing has been offered. What will she choose and how will the gift will be granted? Some surprises await this writer who will try harder to get the dishes washed!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Getting to the exciting parts of the story

Hey, it's been a long road over the past year. The story is almost to the point where I remember in my dream. January 2009, I dreamed of the middle and end of a fantastic story. The skill lies in finding a character upon which to base the story, because I dreamed my dream in first-person, and my life is certainly not interesting enough!

Maybe that will change, when I become a published author?

Anyway, chapter 22 is now drafted, and there are only about 4 more chapters to write. I'm getting excited about finishing this first draft. Can't wait to read it end-to-end!

These last 4 chapters will be great. Fashion, travel, excitement, and a nice conclusion to my tale.

It's been so fun writing a book that I would want to read. It's fun, it's clean, and it makes me appreciate my values.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Two-thirds through the book

Hey, another day to celebrate! Just finished writing chapter 17 and I only have eight more chapters planned. So, doing some quick math, my almost-12,000 words mean that the first draft is two-thirds complete.

Sad, that I'm only at 12,000 words and a I need at least 50,000 words to call it a novel? I'm not. There's still a lot of dialog, flashbacks, and backstory missing. As I re-write, this will be added.

Have you ever noticed how your writing style changes depending on what other books you've read recently? I'm currently reading "Jane Eyre" for about the 4th or 5th time in my life. It's an amazing piece of literature because the descriptions are so vivid and, in places, the narrative actually addresses the reader directly, which is just soo cool!

My batteries are charged, and I'm ready to be in the home-stretch with this book. Still to be written are some discoveries, some sci-fi action-adventure, and of course, a nice resolution or end to my tale. I can't wait to read the rest of my book, and so I hope that when it's finished, many more people feel that way, too!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chapter 15 - Celebrating 10,000 Words

Changing verb tenses must have been the key that unlocked the door to my brain, because I just passed the 10,000-word mark!

OK, teachers and professors, I'm sorry that I complained every time I had to write a 500-word essay or a 10-page paper. Truly, I am.

Thinking back on history, my papers were written on notebook paper, then laboriously typed onto a computer that looked like it was stored in a sewing-machine case, with a 5-1/4-inch floppy drive.

In college, either the papers were typed on this same old PC, or coded in TeX on a mainframe, or formatted on the early MAC PCs.

In my professional career, most e-mails run as short as possible, and white-papers are only occasionally drafted.

This books is something new and special to me. It will take a rewrite or two to get to the level needed to send it out for queries. Still a mystery to me where I will send this book, or if I should even try to send short stories to magazines to get published first? The good news is that I know a published author or two and maybe can get some advice, when I'm ready.

In the meantime, I'll be writing away. Only about 9 chapters left to write in the fist draft. Counting down!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Verb 'tensory' experiences

OK, so I'm writing my book in the first-person, as instructed in the guidebook. Suddenly, I come to the realization that maybe the verb-tense that I've chosen doesn't flow quite right. And I'm on CHAPTER 11!!!

I've been writing in first-person, present-tense, which goes something like this:
"I walk into the room and pick up the book. Opening the book, I quickly turn to page 10 and begin to read."

When all along, I probably should have been writing like this:
"I walked into the room and picked up the book. Opening the book, I quickly turned to page 10 and began to read."

Which version feels better to you, I ask? Well, I checked two of my favorite books, "My Side of the Mountain" and the "Twilight" series, and discovered these authors work with the second method.

So, in the middle of Chapter 11, I'll be making the switch on verb tenses, and will see how it feels to me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chapter 9 - I know a secret

"I know a secret and I'm not telling!"

Did you ever hear this when you were growing up? I know that I did. The sounds eminated from my own mouth, more often than not.

One secret has been revealed and more are still hiding. The mystery is building.

Wonder what will happen as I pick back up with the "book writing channel" tomorrow?

Stay tuned...!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chapter 8

Tonight I'm celebrating!!! Just passed the 5,000-word mark. Whoop!!!!

My book is at its unofficial 1/2-way point of the first draft. I just wrote a party scene with some dragons in it. (Bet you're curious how I managed to work dragons into the book!)

We're about to enter another key revelation chapter, or is it the creation of a major problem? Stay tuned and I'll find out tomorrow as I come back to write yet another chapter.

My new and very selfish goal is to complete the first rough draft prior to Spring Break, so that my two biggest fans can read and comment before I re-write.

In other notes, attended my first diabetes support group meeting tonight. Was diagnosed in January. Glad to not be alone as I learn new ways to live. The best parts about my new life are that I get to eat carbs! Yay! And I get to snack before I exercise, and I can use my glucose meter to figure out if I'm really hungry or just stressing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Off Topic - Illness and procrastination

You take a nap and sleep just a little too long. Fuzziness colors the rest of your evening.

Someone asked me today how it feels to have mononucleosis (yet again!), and that is how I described it. I'm one of the unlucky few who gets this more than once. Most people, it's once-and-done, like chicken pox. :-)

Anyway, my sleepiness has been my excuse to not write. Any excuse to not work; I can think about work for hours!

Tonight I completed chapter 6, and the book is at about 3800 words. I don't know why the obsession with word-count, but someone thinks it's important, so I'm keeping a running tally. My first pass through the book will be around 10,000 words.

OK, now for something witty. I'm so sleepy that I can't remember my character's names! I'm so sleepy that I have to re-read the chapters to remember where I left off writing. I'm so sleepy that I forget what I planned to write and only remember it later. I'm so sleepy that

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Moving right along

Moving right along. Off-worlders, time travel, and a mystery. All the makings of a good Sci-fi story.

Word count is currently at 3300+ and I'm writing the second section of the book. A lot of dialog and descriptions will be added on susequent passes through the book, so the word count will go up (a lot!).

Without giving too much away, the heroine of my story is currently on the afternoon of her first day on New Earth. She's awakened from a nap by a soft rap on the door, followed by the incessant ringing of the doorbell...

The current plan is to zoom through the first pass of book-writing, so that I can print it out for review/comments by my expert editors, aka my sons, who read a lot of young adult fiction--their favorite is dragons. Lots of dragons! My story has no dragons (yet). Maybe I should add a small dragon just to make them happy? I wonder what color my dragon could be? Seriously, though, do I need a dragon?