2015 Goals: July Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

I finished drafting the new beginning and it’s looking good! However, during the read-through (to check for consistency with the new beginning) I hit a snag in the epilogue. Grrrr!

The snag is not a new thing. My editor saw the same snag and I though I had worked it out, but during the re-read, I realized there was still a giant pothole right at the end of the book.

The good news is I figured it out. Thanks to progress made on mapping out ideas for Lineage, the solution was right under my nose. I’m now in the process of filling in the pothole with a small rewrite.

2. Start writing Lineage.

This is probably where the most exciting things happened this month. Re-reading The Muse got my characters talking – I think they’re getting anxious for their story to continue!!

For the first time I got a very clear visual of how the opening scene is going to play out. I could hear my characters speaking to one another and I got a nice start for dialogue going in my notes.

Filling the epilogue pothole got me thinking about a new character which will be introduced in Lineage. His backstory is starting to come come together and so is a little plot twist that took me by surprise. Writing this guy is going to be fun!

3. Submit poetry.

Once again, I participated in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest. As always, I find the prompts challenging and the community inspiring.

I also completed another month of National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page. July prompts all started with the letter S and were very diverse. I fell behind a bit while on vacation, but I still managed to compete the   month with at least one haiku a day.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

I took a little breather this month and I’m not sorry! While on vacation, I focused on gathering inspiration rather than acting on it. I took pictures, breathed in experiences, and choose to be in the moment. When I came home, everything started coming into focus for Lineage – it’s very exciting!

5. Be flexible.

Oregon and Indiana had much to offer on the inspiration front. I’m busy sorting through photographs of everything from nature scenes to cityscapes. Can’t wait to see the words they inspire.

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015

2015 Goals: June Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

Chapter 1 has officially been deleted! I am now in the final stage of restructuring Chapter 2 as the new beginning. The trick was keeping in mind the list of things agents hate to see in an opening chapter, (see Killing Chapter 1). The more I mulled over this list, the more I realized it applies not only to agents, but readers as well.

Gone are all the references to weather descriptions, the sky, and a main character waking up. With the new beginning, the reader is dropped right in the middle of the main character’s life. Bit by bit, her story comes into focus without any sort of an information dump. I’m liking the breadcrumb approach a lot more and I think this set up allows my main character’s personality to take center stage.

Next on the agenda is doing another read through to make sure the rest of the novel is not impacted by the deletion of Chapter 1. I’ve got to dig through each section to ensure there are no references to anything that was mentioned in the old beginning. There are a few things I’m already aware of from memory and I’m sure I’ll find more!

A writer’s work is never done!

2. Start writing Lineage.

My muse is starting to talk for this project. I’m anxious to see where she takes me.

3. Submit poetry.

Once again, I participated in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest. As always, I find the prompts challenging and the community inspiring.

I also completed another month of National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page. June prompts all started with the letter R and were quite challenging. Still, I managed to write one or two haikus each day.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

Free time in the summer can be a blessing for a writer, but also an invitation to distraction. There are always so many things I want to do! Luckily, I was able to find a nice balance between writing and other projects each day.

5. Be flexible.

My journal is coming with me to the wilds of Oregon this week. I’m anxious to see what will inspire me.

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015

Where to Write?

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When I started writing seven years ago, it was easy to find a place to write. There were four bookstores within a 10 mile radius of my house, all of which had coffee shops with free Wi-Fi. It was a writer’s paradise with unlimited space and inspiration.

Being a coffee shop writer, I loved having the ability to change my atmosphere by simply choosing a different freeway exit. Each coffee shop had it’s own feel and I could choose which one fit what I was going to write that day.

Over the last few years, my options have dwindled considerably. First, Borders went out of business, taking with it two of my writing locations in one shot. Then, back in December 2014, a Barnes and Noble disappeared from the radar. There goes favorite writing spot #3.

Only one writing spot has managed to survive and I’m lucky that it happens to be my favorite. But here’s the thing – even my favorite spot can get stale after a long stretch without a break. Without a change of scenery, inspiration and motivation runs dry.  I see the same people every day (although I love the people that work in my favorite spot) and see the same things.

Sameness brings a certain level of comfort (which I often enjoy), but I’m starting to get antsy and even bored. Writers need spark and I am seriously in danger of losing my spark. I’ve tried writing at home, but there is so much distraction thanks to one husband, five furkids, and the TV. I need to be out and about with endless background activity and conversations to wake up my muse.

There is a nice little Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf nearby and I am starting to explore it’s possibility as a new writing spot. The only issue I’m having has to do with the coffee. It’s good, but it’s not my muse juice. I may have to experiment with the menu to see if there’s some magic elixir hiding somewhere in the latte options.

I live in a city that has almost no stand alone coffee shops. Maybe its because I live in a desert where cold smoothies are the thing or maybe there simply isn’t a coffee culture. Almost everywhere I’ve been from Europe to Asia, I’ve always been able to find a coffee shop. I’ve written in coffee shops in London, Killarney, Florence, and Shanghai, which makes it even more baffling to me that I can’t find a decent coffee shop/writing spot where I live.

Part of my writing goals for the summer includes scoping out new writing spots. I don’t want my favorite (and last bastion) to become that blah spot I once liked, so I have to find some new places to put into rotation. Hopefully, there is a magic spot or two waiting to be discovered!

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Where do you write? I’m open to all possible ideas!

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c.b.w. 2015

2015 Goals: May Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

I didn’t get to work on this goal as much as I would have liked. The day job always gets a little crazy during the month of May and makes some pretty intense demands on my time. On top of that, my portfolio submission for National Board Certification was due during May as well. Instead of focusing my energy on fiction writing, I had to direct my attention to professional, analytical non-fiction writing. My muse was not happy, but we got the job done.

With the arrival of summer comes huge amounts of free time that I will be devoting to restructuring Chapter 2 of The Muse,  (see Killing Chapter 1).

p.s. As this post goes live, I’ll be taking a Content Knowledge test for National Board Certification. Ahhhhh! Wish me luck!

2. Start writing Lineage.

I’m getting ready to blow the dust off of my notes as the above mentioned free time will be utilized for this project as well.

3. Submit poetry.

Once again, I participated in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest. Every Wednesday, prompts are posted with an invitation to submit poetry in the comments. I was late a few times, but I managed to submit a poem every week.

I also completed another month of National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page. May’s prompts were particularly challenging as each prompt started with the letter  “Q.” Despite the difficulty, I managed to crank out 46 haikus.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

National Board Certification severely encroached on my creative writing time, but I never totally lost focus.

5. Be flexible.

While I’ve made plans for my upcoming free time, I’m also making room for inspiration and exploration through travel. Towards the end of June, I’m heading Portland, Oregon for a change of scenery. We’ll see where it leads ….

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

Killing Chapter 1

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My decision to cut the entire first chapter for The Muse came when I realized I had started my novel with just about every single thing most agents hate to see in an opening chapter. After reading multiple articles and long lists of tweets from agents, a definitive list of things agents hate in an opening chapter began to emerge:

  • Too much backstory
  • Describing the weather
  • Describing the sky
  • Main character waking up
  • Prologues

It’s funny how you think you are not doing these things as you write, re-write, and edit. Even after multiple rejections, I still believed I had a strong opening. However, once I compared the list to my novel, I realized I had committed every novel sin except for the prologue.

Then, I visited the YA section of my bookshelf and started scanning through all the first chapters of my favorite books. Keeping the list in mind, it was easy to see what they were doing right and what I was doing wrong. A change needed to be made and it needed to be big.

editwars2 I pulled up my manuscript on my Kindle Fire and read the first chapter multiple times. The biggest issues were backstory and weather description. Luckily, the solution for backstory was easy. I could track each segment of backstory to another section of the novel, so I truly did not need it in the first chapter.

As for weather description, the foreshadowing was nice, but not entirely necessary. With these two elements eliminated, there wasn’t much left of Chapter 1. Hmmmm . . . that got me thinking,  why don’t I just delete the whole thing?

Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as just hitting the delete button. When I scrolled down into Chapter 2, it was promising in that as the new start, the reader is dropped right into the story. However, Chapter 2 begins with the main character waking up. Ahhhh! Another thing on the hate list. Two paragraphs down, a sky description shows up! Yet, another thing on the hate list!

Before total panic set in, it became clear that both issues can be easily fixed. A sentence here and a slight deletion there should clear up the hate list issues, while also transitioning Chapter 2 as the new beginning to The Muse.

I guess we’ll see how it goes!

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c.b.w. 2015