Wednesday, January 27, 2016

First Drafts...

Image result for ugly monster

I recently completed the first draft of my new book, Paper White. Currently, it sits in the virtual world of my hard drive, waiting until I return to begin another pass and another and another. Drafts are much like layers, each one covering a different aspect of the story, or character, or arc, or... well you get the picture.

The first draft is a whirlwind of writing. For me, it amounts to nothing more than getting the story on paper. (I'm a plotter so I know where my story is going all the time, but sometimes these characters get a mind of their own and wander off on rabbit trails. Some rabbit trails are worth heading down, while others are worthless and take away from the story.) First drafts are notoriously messy creatures. They aren't pretty. They are raw and ugly, but the story is there, somewhere in the muck, we just need to mold it. (That's where the second, third, and fourth drafts come in. Only after that, can we start talking about the nitty gritty editing.)

Image result for rabbit trailAfter my first draft, the story needs to sit for a few days if not weeks. This allows my brain to disengage and be more objective with the story. I've lived in this world for the past few months. I've dreamed of this world. My thoughts need time to separate. Paper White will hang out in her little bit of  virtual space for at least a week, who knows, maybe two.

During that week, I actually try not to think much about the story. I usually plot out a new tale, read, blog or think. Us writers do a lot of thinking.

But inevitably, an issue or hole about the story will reveal itself, and I'll jot it down for when I'm ready to start the next step.

Next week, I'm diving back into Paper's world to begin my second draft.  Paper has spina bifida, and I'll be spending quite a bit of time making sure I get that aspect of her life right. I also know that I want to change some things at the beginning of the story so that they jive with the end.

When I first started writing, I so enjoyed the first draft stage. I dreaded the  second drafts, revision, editing stages. But then something flipped in my head, I realized the story improved with each pass. Soon, a beautiful book unfolds as all the different puzzle pieces fit into perfect place.

So, the question for the week... What is your favorite writing phase? Plotting, drafting, revising, editing, etc? 

Bible Verse for the week - 
Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourself - Romans 12:10

Monday, January 18, 2016

Print Release of The Last Stored!!

Tomorrow's the BIG day. Tomorrow, The Last Stored will be available in print!

To commemorate this momentous moment, I thought it might be fun to answer some questions I've received in the past few months.
  1. When is the best time for you to write? I use to say the mornings, until I realized that I actually needed that time to drift into it. I am not one to just pick right up where I left off. My brain needs time to anchor itself into my make believe world. Music helps a great deal to draw me in. So, to answer the question, from, 11am - 2pm is the optimal time for me to write. 
  2. How often do you write? I try to write every day... Not going to lie, some days it's easier than others. Sometimes being a mom takes priority over my craft, but I don't feel guilty when that happens. I just remember this time is for memories. I won't ever get it back.
  3. What advice would you give aspiring writers? Read lots, write lots, keep a childlike sense of wonder, don't take yourself too seriously, and develop a super thick skin.  
  4. How do you handle writer's block? I never much thought about writer's block, and I scoffed when people said they did, but, bam, it hit me in the head this past summer. I couldn't get my story to go, I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels. I'd write a paragraph only to erase it because it was bunk. I finally figured it out. For me, writer's block is losing the passion for the story. I ended up shelving that book, and started on, The In-Betweens. Now, I'm almost done with it. Just a few more chapters, and I'll have finished the rough draft. Occasionally, I'll hear the one I shelved call to me. Who knows, I might pick it up again and give it a look. Like life, finding the right passion says so much for our drive and determination. 
  5. Was any part of THE LAST STORED based on your own experiences? The idea of THE LAST STORED came to me after the loss of my own father. I wanted to explore a daughter's love for her parentsand the pain of losing a loved one. (How does one get through the day when they are stuck in routine and grief?) My parents gave me a great gift by allowing me to grow up in the woods. My imagination was a dear friend to me, and they cultivated it. Even now if I'm anxious, I'll set myself in that forest, inside my head of course. I can hear the creek bubbling by, smell the moss and black earth, feel the sunlight through the woven canopy. So yeah, when I speak of a forest, it is from my own memories.
  6. Do you let family and friends read your draft? A big fat YES! At first I hid my writing away. I guess I wasn't quite ready to share. But one day I allowed my husband and oldest daughter to read my work. Then I got brave and asked a friend if she'd be willing to give it a look.
    I still remember the first night I gave it to her. I lay in bed fretting about it. I just knew she would tell me it was rank. She didn't, and her encouragement gave me the strength I needed. BUT, my husband is by far my best cheerleader. Often times I'll bounce stuff off of him while other times I just watch his reaction. Now, I can't imagine him not reading my work.
  7. What inspired you to become an author? My dad. He was such a voracious reader. We had a room in our Kentucky home that was supposed to be used for toys, the toy room we called it, instead it housed my father's extensive collection of sci-fi books. That, and I also never stopped pretending. Stories always seem to rattle around in my head.

At its heart THE LAST STORED is a love story which crosses worlds. Love caused her parents to hide her on earth and love makes a boy leave everything behind to bring her home.

For those who have read that book, I say to you:

After the sudden death of her parents, making it through the day is a struggle for Amber. In the midst of her grief, an exquisite bird perches on her garden fence and shows her visions of a vivid landscape and a dark lord slouching upon a throne. She thinks the visions are tied to her sorrow. But when a boy flies through her kitchen window to tell her she’s the Last Stored, she wonders if she’s just lost her mind.

Cree of Din is tasked with one job: Bring Amber home. For seven years, Cree has trained as her protector and it is the ultimate responsibility. Failure means Amber’s certain death, and that’s not an option for Cree – especially since he’s falling in love with her.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Winter -

My office window looks out onto a gnarled dogwood. From it, time hangs on its branches. I can tell the seasons with just a glance. In spring, buds pop open, covering the tree in a blanket of pink, in summer, emerald foliage waves to me, and in fall, it parades a coat of rubies. Today snow rests on its limbs, and a biting wind blows through it. Low telephone wires hang just above. Occasionally, a squirrel scurries across. I spend half my day staring through those limbs into the gray sky, dreaming. I'm not going to lie, it’s a pretty good gig. God has given me a good life. I am truly blessed.
On days like these, a peaceful happiness rests in my spirit. Magic lingers just beneath the snow like a frozen friend. The crunch of my boots on the deck, makes me remember something, but I can't quite remember what. I think it's a whole bunch of things like: laughter, sizzling water on our potbellied stove, numb fingers, my dog's wet fur, the smell of frying potatoes as mom stands at the stove, my brother recounting the Sword of Shannara to me and my cousins, and my dad chopping wood. Maybe it's all of these things which brings me joy, I really can't say, but winter makes me warm with its flood of memories.

Image result for snowFor me this season holds promise of things to come like none other. It is quiet and dark, and while some people hate it, this season comforts me. In its quiet solitude I find peace, a time of reflection. This is my time to write - to lay out all those memories and share them with those who will listen.

Soon the days will lengthen and people will awaken from their restful slumber. The dogwood will spring with life, but for now, I’m going to relish this time and listen for the laughter of memories.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Resolution - 2016


Say it again, it's fun.

Image result for resolutions
Okay, so I'm a few days behind for New Year's Resolutions.

By the way I love the word resolutions. It's kind of fun to say, resolution. I also love the meanings of words so I thought I'd share googles definition:
plural noun: resolutions
  1. 1.
    a firm decision to do or not to do something.
    "she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more"
  2. 2.
    the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
    "the peaceful resolution of all disputes"
    synonyms:solution to, answer to, end to, ending to, settlement of, conclusion to
    Asatisfactory solution of the problem"

I started my list the last week of December. This would surely give me enough time to whip up some love-erly (yeah, I made up that word) goals. I blinked at the white screen on my computer trying to formulate the perfect list. The list that will make me a better person. I stared a long, long time. Visions of a tranquil forest wafted into my mind. I sat on a mossy rock, my feet skimmed the surface of a bubbling creek. The smell of pure oxygen filled my lungs. A bluebird alighted on a twisted branch. The bird spread out its wings and there, tattooed on the feathers, my resolutions. I just need to get closer to see them. With silent steps I hoped over stone and root. I held my breath. I  squinted; I could almost make out the words.

Then a sound pierced the scene and the dream collapsed. I cringed hoping I actually didn't hear what I knew to be the most dreaded sound on the planet...

A cat throwing up.

Yeah, so much for a perfect list.

We've all been there, trying to find the right key to unlock our hidden potential. Let's face it, it comes down to actual work, nothing magical about that... or is it? I, after all, do live in my own little fantasy land. If I didn't, I wouldn't be a writer.

So with tongue firmly protruding out of my mouth I go to work, after cleaning up the cat throw-up of course.

I broke my resolutions into three parts - Personal, Family, and Writing

And since I think being accountable sharpens iron, I'm sharing mine with you!


  • Start my day off with prayer and Bible reading.
  • Pray specifically.
  • Start eating right. (Lose a few pounds. This time I mean it!!)
  • Memorize one bible verse a week.
  • Plan my week out every Sunday.
  • Read 24 books.
  • Find one thing to be grateful for daily and write it on my calendar.
  • Praise God for his goodness every single day.

  • Teach my daughter to sew
  • Date night with the hubs every two weeks
  • Help my son find a small group he could fit into.
  • Turn off the TV/put down the phone and play games.
  • Pray that our oldest daughter would find a job after graduating from college.
  • Edify each member (stop the nagging)!!
  • Think before I speak - my opinion isn't always necessary (bawhahah this one made me laugh).
  • Finish first draft of the In-Between by February 1st.
  • Finish second draft by February 14th.
  • Finish editing by end of February.
  • One blog post a week.
  • Write new book by November (including drafts and edits).
  • Don't compare myself to others, keep your head down and do the work.
  • Attend a Writing Convention/Conference.
  • Become an Intern with an Agent (I think I may have this one... soon!)
  • Learn more and more about my craft. (To be stagnate is to die.)

 But I didn't stop there.

Each of those goals is broken down further - either assigning a set in stone date (using my radio voice for that one) or a week by week plan on how I'm to achieve that!  

For this week, I have a bible verse, a book, a journal/calendar to write my praises/prayer requests in, and a menu.

So what are your resolutions? Plans? Goals? Share away, so we can cheer each other on!!