Weekend Writing Warriors – 5/24/14

wewriwa_square_2Welcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! Happy Memorial Day! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’ve been revising my New Adult steampunk romance, STEAM ME UP RAWLEY, so I thought I’d share. This is the first scene in the hero’s POV and he’s just landed in the backyard of the heroine’s home in a hot air balloon. She’s standing in front of him and it picks up a little after where I left off last time:

With the tropical sun bearing down and over-saturating all the colors, everything was utterly alien. Like the landscape was rubbed raw, exposed, and he stood there, exposed with it, almost embarrassed on its behalf. He couldn’t help but contrast it to the comforting textures, colors and smells of the stone-bordered fields of his home in Devonshire. The air here was so thick with humidity, he could taste the green of the leaves, the reds of the blooms. And most of all, his gaze returning to the lady before him, he could taste the brightness, the energy, of her, like all her curves and the froths and swoops of her pale green dress were a confection.

Egad, the heat must be getting to him. He was positively gushing poetic folderol. This wasn’t him. Not him at all.

I welcome all comments, even constructive crits. To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Writing Warriors – 5/11/14

www_bannerWelcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! Happy Mother’s Day to those moms visiting! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’ve been revising my New Adult steampunk romance, STEAM ME UP RAWLEY, so I thought I’d share. This is the first scene in the hero’s POV and he’s just landed in the backyard of the heroine’s home in a hot air balloon. She’s standing in front of him and he’s just finished an inner monologue of three sentences basically saying his goal had been to get bathed and settled:

Especially before he met the daughter of the house.

Now his feet wouldn’t move.

And he had the strangest sensation as he stared at the vision before him—part of him still felt like he was in the air, his whole body vibrating from the engine, but another part felt completely and irrevocably and inexplicably fixed in position as if his feet had always been planted there before her.

His heart, already galloping from the touch-and-go flight, stilled as if taking a deep breath, and then sped up again as if it had run the whole way from Plymouth, England.

At first all he’d seen was hair—dark and curly and wild—though disguised in a fetching and demure pile on her head. It gave all the appearance of barely constrained energy, as if all he need do was pop the hat off her head for it to come alive in his hands.

But it was her eyes that had him imitating a tree trunk, vibrating in place. Cinnamon-colored and flecked with gold, they sparked with intelligence and humor.

I welcome all comments, even constructive crits. To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

I’ll be hanging out Friday and Saturday for the RT Book Convention, though not officially. Let me know if you’ll be there too!

I’ve gone Primal! Documenting my new Paleo/Primal Lifestyle

ImageI’m keeping this blog purely as my writer’s blog, but I thought I’d do a post to share what’s going on with me writing-wise and health-wise and give you a link to where I’ll be microblogging about my Primal lifestyle in case you’re interested.

I thought October I’d be using to brainstorm and plot a new novel for NaNoWriMo, but my agent nixed that. She doesn’t want me scattering my focus. Since I sent STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY out to my trusty Beta readers in the beginning of the month, it means I have nothing writing-wise to work on until that feedback comes in (next week for the last of it) and I can start revising it again. Luckily, this corresponded with my commitment to change my unhealthy eating habits. Since I’d reached a certain age, I’d started carrying an extra twenty pounds, but in this last year I added another ten, and my eating habits were getting horrible (sometimes having mini chocolate donuts, diet soda and popcorn for lunch).

After seeing pictures of myself at Dragoncon I finally had enough (it also didn’t help that none of my summer clothes fit me anymore), so I did a Master Cleanse diet. I’ve done them three times before in the past, and they always helped me kick my unhealthy eating and also drop 8-12 pounds. Also I normally only did it for 10 days. This time I did it for 18 days. I lost 12 pounds and about 5 inches off my waist! But normally you gain about half of it back, but I immediately switched to eating Primal/Paleo and I haven’t gained any of it back. I’ve now ended my third week eating Primal/Paleo.

Not having writing obligations has meant that I’ve been able to put my obsessive personality on learning the intricacies of eating and living this way, and use the time to learn and develop habits and shortcuts so that hopefully when I pick up writing again, it’ll integrate smoothly back into my life.

What is Primal?

primalIt’s a version of the Paleo Diet/Lifestyle, coined by Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple. Paleo is eating clean foods that don’t have any chemicals, preservatives or even additives like corn or soy. It also cuts out all grains. Primal is a little laxer, in that if you’ve done a 30-day strict elimination Paleo diet and then slowly add back some things like cheese or milk and it doesn’t bother you, then you can eat it (in moderation, i.e. it belongs in the tippy top of the eating pyramid). But it still needs to be clean, so my cheese is made from raw milk, as I have no problem with it. However, when I tried to add beer back into my diet (I love beer!) boy did it mess with my innards! So I’m going to have to learn to like red wine. Or try some gluten-free beer…

Anyway, if you’re interested in any of this, I started a tumblr blog, Primal FTW, so you can follow me there as I won’t be posting about it anymore on this blog.

What’s up with y’all? Have you started any new good habits?

Weekend Writing Warriors – 10/20/13

www_bannerWelcome to Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’ve been revising my New Adult steampunk romance, STEAM ME UP RAWLEY, so I thought I’d share and give the next eight sentences following last week’s where the heroine (Adele) is at a fancy outdoor party, talking to her pet monkey and Claire (the hostess) catches her and orders her to make note of a delicacy she got from out West. The first to speak is Adele in response:

Adele gritted her teeth. “I’ll be sure to do so.”

“See that you do.”

Adele wanted to roll her eyes, but the years of training in comportment held sway, so she imagined Loki doing so. Big deal. So Claire’s family was able to conduct trade with The West. The flaunting of wealth was nothing new, though given their politics and position in society, it was surprising they associated with the lawless and free-thinking West. Ever since the Late Great Unpleasantness, the political and economic polarity had shifted from North vs. South, to an East vs. West alignment.

I welcome all comments, even constructive crits. To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

I’m looking for Beta readers for this story, so let me know if you’re interested!

Weekend Writing Warriors – 10/13/13

www_bannerWelcome to Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’ve been revising my New Adult steampunk romance, STEAM ME UP RAWLEY, so I thought I’d share and give the next eight sentences following last week’s where the heroine (Adele) is at a fancy outdoor party, talking to her pet monkey and Claire catches her:

Claire raised her chin and eyed Loki. “Here’s a list of the guests. I’d appreciate it if you talked to all of them. Make sure to include the full menu. No one else has served individual servings of Charlotte Russe in champagne glasses.” She fingered her diamond bracelet. “The cherries were imported from the new state of Washington.” The last said with a bit of smugness.

I welcome all comments, even constructive crits. To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

I’m looking for Beta readers for this story, so let me know if you’re interested!

Weekend Writing Warriors – 10/6/13

www_bannerWelcome to Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’ve been revising my New Adult steampunk romance, STEAM ME UP RAWLEY, so I thought I’d share and give the next eight sentences following last week’s where the heroine (Adele) is at a fancy outdoor party, talking to her pet monkey and Claire catches her. Adele has just asked her how she’s liking her party:

Claire stepped forward, her genetically modified parakeet on her shoulder exactly matching the brown locks of her elaborate hairdo. “It’s all right,” she replied in a voice that said it was anything but—after all, she mustn’t look too pleased. From between Claire’s shoulder blades, a lightweight brass bar curved up and outward, topped by a frilly parasol in the same shade as her dress: mustard yellow. So, Claire had adopted the latest fad—typical. A slight hum sounded as the parasol shifted to block the sun.

Adele would never go under the knife for such frivolous enhancements, even if it was how her father made his living. Who cared about keeping up with Claire’s ilk? Adele never had much interest in hobnobbing with Mobile’s best families, though the four tattoos vertically aligned on her neck, each denoting her grandparents’ families, would place her at such a party even without her official role here as the society reporter.

I welcome all comments, even constructive crits. To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

I’m looking for Beta readers for this story, so let me know if you’re interested!

Weekend Writing Warriors – 9/29/13

www_bannerWelcome to Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’ve been revising my New Adult steampunk romance, STEAM ME UP RAWLEY, so I thought I’d share and give the next eight sentences following last week’s (which was the beginning) where the heroine is at a fancy outdoor party, talking to her pet monkey and a woman catches her.

Adele spun around, Loki deftly remaining on her shoulder. “Claire, how are you? Enjoying your party?” As the Mobile Register’s society reporter, Adele was there to cover Claire Chastang’s tiresome gathering.

Oh, how to describe the party’s hostess? Without sounding scornful? What Adele wanted to write for her society column would not do:

Miss Claire was resplendent (resplendently tacky) in her tailored aerophane silk day dress, sporting lace trim and silk flowers reminiscent of an explosion at a haberdasher’s.

I welcome all comments, even constructive crits. To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention earlier that I’m looking for Beta readers for this story, so let me know if you’re interested!

Weekend Writing Warriors – 9/22/13

www_bannerEgad, I haven’t done one of these in seven months! I’ve missed it! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’ve been revising my New Adult steampunk romance, STEAM ME UP RAWLEY, so I thought I’d just start with the first eight sentences.

Early May, 1890, Mobile, Alabama Second Age of Pax Lincolnia “Put that down, Loki.” Adele darted a glance around the outdoor party at Chastang House and replaced the doily on the lawn table, only a tad wrinkled from her monkey’s fist. She smoothed it out. If she could just get through this affair without her normally well-behaved monkey pulling a stunt, she’d appreciate it, thank you very much. “You need to—” “Talking to your monkey, Adele?” asked a feminine voice behind her. “How quaint.”

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

Ack! I have a plot hole! Techniques to Solve in an Early Stage

download (5)So, last time I truly posted, I was taking a blogging hiatus to work on the sequel to MUST LOVE BREECHES. I’ve since then finished the first draft and have been working on high-level revisions since. I love plot and am a nerd about finding different ways to tackle looking at it. I definitely needed to find a different way to handle this one, because it had problems, and I knew it.

The biggest problem? I knew the ending before I ever started writing it, so my plot points just before the big Crisis were pushed to make this crisis happen. Result? It lacked believability and motivation. So much so, readers would’ve likely thrown the book at the wall.

Also, some of my major plot points were tied with the specific time period and I wanted to make sure the history was sound.

The first thing I did was make a spreadsheet with my scenes and it helped me a little–I saw gaps and plugged in new rows for scenes that needed to be there. When I thought I had it figured out, I transferred it to a Word Document that I created, where I just gave summaries of what happens in each chapter, a Chapter Outline. This I sent to one Welsh historian and a couple of Beta readers. Because of the possible plot problems, I didn’t want to wait until I had a readable full-length draft. I got great feedback and took that and revised the Outline again and sent it to a couple of other historians who helped me shore up the historical plot points.

But the Crisis? Yep, everyone came back and said it didn’t work–wasn’t believable. But it was the one thing in my whole plot I couldn’t throw out–it was the image I had in my head when I first started noodling this WIP around for possibilities and I also knew it was a strong image. So, it had to stay.

Back to the drawing board. I really worried each time I sat down to try to solve this that I wouldn’t figure it out. I felt like I was so close but couldn’t quite get there.

I could also tell that the Outline, while it helped as an instrument to gain feedback from others in an early stage, wasn’t helpful to me to try to make sense of it; I couldn’t play with it. Then I remembered my plotting board and fondness for stickies that I’ve used on other WIPS, so pulled it out and went to town.

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It helped me a little, some of the smaller plot issues I was able to see and fix by adding new stickies and moving others around. But the Black Moment leading up to the Crisis was still a problem. So I went to my trusty Beta partner Jami Gold and sent her my bulleted list of events leading up to the Crisis and she came back with a wonderful idea for the motivation, but also helped me look at the Black Moment I had and came up with some other suggestions for how to have it play out. This got my mental juices unblocked and at the plotting board I began making stickies, rearranging scenes, and then also saw how I could tie her idea in with the Antagonist and pull it all together. I also then saw that having a change of location helped raise the tension and stakes. I was then able to see how the heroine’s personality could be tweaked to make it even more impactful. Excited, I typed up version 3 of my Chapter Outline and sent it to Jami and some new victims for feedback.

But I can feel it–I can feel the story works now. My gut wasn’t wrong when I finished that first draft, and I’m so glad I listened to it and found a way to get valuable input in such an early stage. I really dreaded revising this WIP with my gut feeling that way, worried that I’d go to all this trouble revising and polishing and then have my gut proved right when Beta feedback came back and pointed out the plot problems. Now I feel much more confident going into actual revisions; the framework for the story is much more solid. Now I can work on all the other fun stuff I like to do during revisions and get this revised and polished. Now, hopefully, my Beta readers will be able to help see smaller issues instead of pointing out big macro issues that should’ve been firmed up before I ever got to that stage.

I also liked working with an outline and fiddling with it, not touching my prose at all. It was much easier to see, without running the risk of overreading the WIP too early.

So, to distill this for others that might be in the same boat (I’m a “plantser” –someone who does some pre-plotting but pantses the rest of the first draft):

  • Take your first draft and make a chapter outline. Mine came out to ten pages.
  • Just like in the Beta stage, get a variety of folks to look at it. I had historians who knew nothing about the writing craft, as well as others who did. Evaluate their comments just like you would on a full manuscript. See a pattern? You have a problem.
  • Fiddle and revise. Go back to any tools you’ve used in the past to help you look at your manuscript differently (for me it was the plotting board)
  • Get someone who is deeply familiar with plotting and structure, and that you trust to be honest with you, to take a look at it

How have you handled plot problems in the past? Have you also pulled in outside eyes at this early stage? Has it helped you? What techniques have you used to look at your plot in a high-level way?

DISCLAIMER: I don’t watch Dr. Who, so I have no idea if the image I used is a fair assessment of that episode, but I thought it seemed appropriate to the post to illustrate a problem common to many writers when working out their plot. Plus, appropriately enough, it deals with time travel ;)

Weekend Writing Warriors – 2/10/13

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where we post eight sentences from one of our works. I’m picking up exactly where I left off last week with meta fiction romance, NOT ANOTHER DARCY. This was my NaNo project for this past November, and the heroine has to deal with literary characters that come to life at her independent bookstore. Last week was the opening eight sentences and Mr. Darcy from the latter half of Pride & Prejudice showed up. She wasn’t very pleased to see another one.

This is still a rough draft. But here’s the next eight sentences:

But as a Handler in the Literary Reclamation League, it was her duty to take whomever popped into existence, train them, give them new identities and find work for them. The Darcys, she usually shipped off to Jane Austen sites in England as tour guides.

She faced her newest challenge, who gazed around her bookstore with a look of confusion, the poor guy. Thank god her employee Chris wasn’t due to work until noon. “Hang on there one sec, Mr. Darcy, and I’ll be right with you.”

She hustled to the front door of her bookstore and flipped the sign to “Closed,” and threw the bolt lock. From a pocket near the door, she pulled out and hung her pre-made sign for such emergencies: “Closed for twenty minutes. Grabbing coffee.”

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by! I’m going to try and be better today with visiting–I had out of town guests for Mardi Gras. It’s the final week, so today’s also a big day, but hopefully I’ll make the rounds this morning before the first parade rolls.