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!