Category Archives: new wip

Mapping It Out


This is the cover of the notebook I’m currently filling with info and scenes from my wip. I thought it was funny and quite appropriate 🙂

I haven’t started my voice journal yet, because I’ve been too busy. Yes, same old story, right? WRONG!!!

I have been too busy with research and notes and little bits of info about this world, which then led me into even more uncovering like an unraveling sweater. I’m finally making some headway with this story and it’s bliss. Yeah!

I realized that I needed to understand things a bit better before I jumped in. This has been an excuse for procrastination in the past, but this time it really was legit. I’m getting excited again. I love this part and am glad I am finally making it home again where I can dive into this new world.

Part of the issue before was that I didn’t understand what I was working with. I have only written one other book and although it was fantasy and there was another world, per se, I didn’t have to invent too much. The North Pole had existed in my head since I can remember and I took what I’d read in books or seen in movies and kept what I liked, discarded what I didn’t and let my imagination fill in the rest.

This new book, is similar in some respects, but it has taken a bit to get my head around the natural disasters that would reshape the world as we know it and what that meant in how I would go about telling this story. I’m starting to make sense of it and the new world and my story are beginning to take shape.

I’ve been scared that the story is too similar in some ways to another popular YA book and that fear was keeping me from moving forward. I think this weekend I was able to find a way to make it my own. I know that my story is very different and I owe it to myself to write it.

I found an awesome list of world building questions online here. Most of them don’t relate to my story, but I thought it was an awesome resource that I wanted to pass along.

I’m going to start the voice journal today. I read that it works best when written free-form in five to ten minute bursts. I can manage that.

What other character or world building techniques have you used? What works best for you?

Good Advice


I honestly can’t remember how I first found out about YA author Jackson Pearce, but I have been a fan of her blog for quite some time. I hadn’t been by in a while, but decided to check it out after class this evening. She had a wonderful video about how to write a book that I thought I would pass along. Most of the advice is common sense or obvious, some might say, but I thought it was well done nonetheless.

She talks about writing books one word at a time and starting now. I am driving myself crazy because I don’t know all the particulars from point A to point Z in my wip. Interesting enough, that has been driving me crazy in my own life as well…it always is. I try to orchestrate every little detail but that’s not how life, or writing works.

Yes, I can slave over an outline until I figure out every twist and turn, but what I’ve learned in the past is that really amazing characters worth writing about will take my hand and lead me down the alley to a better story than the one I had planned on. Needing to know or control all of it is really just another procrastination at this point.

Tonight in class during a break, I starting writing notes about the story. I started getting frustrated by not having the answers…so I started writing questions. I have an entire page of questions – big ones and little ones. Amazingly, just the act of asking those questions freed something up and I was given some thing to work with.

E.L. Doctorow said, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” In other words, start now. Be willing to write crap. Revise and do it again, every day!

Here’s the link to the video as well for good measure! Happy writing 🙂

Oh it’s Magic


I have a distinct feeling that I am being led to incorporate magical realism in my current wip. I’m a bit daunted by this, but excited to try it as well. I’ve been doing more research. I’ve been exploring ways to unlock this writing style and genre within my own writing. I am excited by the possibilities. I’m going to do as much reading as possible this week and then take what I learn back to my story.

Wish me luck.

Writing Stuff



So, I tried the tarot card plan for story writing and although I came up with some really rich characters and an interesting plot, I actually made a lot of extra work for myself when I really wanted an easy and fun way to jump into a story. It was a great exercise, but next time I think I will maybe pull one card and let the story start from that. I ended up pulling 10 cards for a really complicated spread and although it was fun to go through the cards and see the arc unfold – it ended up being too much.

As a YA author, I have been a big fan of Ann Brashares. I loved the Traveling Pants books, My Name is Memory is awesome and the Last Summer of You and Me is one of my favorite books. I found out yesterday that she will be at a local bookstore for a reading/signing at the end of the month. I have wanted to hear her speak for quite some time, so I’m super stoked.

I have been absorbed in some summer reading this week as well. I’m reading the latest Ann Brashares book Sisterhood Everlasting. It is good, but sad and real. Which is fine. I am breezing through it quickly. I also am excited to read The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees. I have loved the book Little Women since I was young and I am very inspired and fascinated by Louisa May Alcott. I am often upset when someone publishes famous diaries and letters. It feels like such a betrayal of trust. It is interesting to read, I’ll give you that, but I would die to have my diaries and letters published after my death. I love that Louisa was concerned about this as well and burned letters to keep her privacy. It also serves as a rich environment for a love affair that she wanted to hide…Even though it’s an imagining, I am really excited to read it!

I also feel like I’m slowly working through my blocks in the wip that has been giving me trouble. I thought that working through some small unrelated stories would help me get back into it, but I think that might be making it worse. I’m still thinking about the story and the characters all the time, so I think that doing some exercises within the confines of the story would be more helpful.

I’m going to try to do some scene exercises tomorrow. I know that it is the story I want to tell right now and I need to find a way to turn off my sensor and just lay some track. I used to think that revision was the hardest part of being a writer, but right now, the first draft seems to be my nemesis.

Not for long…

Filling the Well


Inspiration is everywhere.

This is true if we are willing to be observant and listen. Listen to the world around us. Listen to  ourselves. I’ve been outlining a new story that is based on a snippet of conversation I overheard in a hospital waiting room two years ago. I have embellished it and changed most of the elements, but that first nugget of an interesting idea came from eavesdropping.

Right now, I’m finding inspiration in a handful of books that I’m reading as well. I’ve blogged about this before, but reading great writing inspires me to want to write more and write better. I’ve never really been someone who read multiple books at once, but I’m enjoying three different books right now. They are diverse stories and I’m being inspired by them all.

Julia Cameron writes of “Filing the Well”. She believes that writing morning pages, walking and going on artist dates helps to fill the creative well within us that allows us to access ideas and create. I think this is a wonderful way to actively engage in being inspired.

I’m hoping to go to a local music showcase next week and I know that will lead to inspiration as well.

Inspiration is everywhere. We just have to open our eyes and hearts.

Be A Channel


I have had the song What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye in my head all day today. I recently say a playlist segment on Nightline with Smoky Robinson and he was talking about how when Marvin was recording this album, he told him that he wasn’t writing it, that God was. Smoky talked about how the music from this album is even more relevant today and I have to agree. Maybe Marvin was right. Maybe he was channeling something bigger than himself, something so universal that it would still be poignant all these years later.

Julia Cameron, who has written many wonderful books on creativity, speaks of being an open channel as an artist. Puccini felt that Madame Butterfly was dictated to him by God. Robert Jackson said of his music, “Once I realized it wasn’t ‘my music’, once I realized I was essentially a straw, I began to play very beautiful music – but it’s not ‘mine’ it’s God’s.”

Art opens the door to inspiration. Art open the door to the divine. The act of creating something is a spiritual act. Julia Cameron has a sign at her desk that reads, “Ok, Universe. You take care of the quality. I’ll take care of the quantity.” As she says, when she writes, she lets God or the Great Author work through her. She is a channel.

I have often had these channel experiences as a songwriter, but not in a really long time. For the first time in over a year – I was a channel again yesterday. It felt so good to be overcome by inspiration and know that I was being led to exact right words and the perfect phrase. The lyrics are universal and personal. I needed to express a piece of my soul, but didn’t know how. I was open to the images and words as they came through.

I have been wanting to break out of this block with my writing and I think focusing on being a channel will get my ego out of the way and let the divine step in. If it worked for Marvin Gaye and Julia Cameron, then it just might work for me too.

This is Just a Mess


I have spent the better part of the weekend trying to clean up the mess that is my life at the moment. That sounds more ominous than it really is. I have been drowning in school work, resumes, cover letters and laundry – I worked super hard this weekend and still have an insane amount of work to do.

Today, I finished my laundry, read for class and reorganized my room. Well…started to reorganize. I still have quite a bit to do tomorrow, but I’m glad that I put a dent in it today. I have been putting off this reorganization project for over a month and it was getting a bit out of control.

I am extremely organized in most areas of my life, but I seem to let my living area go as I try to accomplish everything else. If I worked on it in little bits every week, I wouldn’t need this reorganization. Hopefully this time I will learn my lesson.

My wip’s are also very messy at the moment. I have been flying without a net with both stories and seem to have created quite a mess. I tried to jump into the story and go with it, but I don’t think I’m a writer who can follow the story as it unfolds without any parameters. Unfortunately, I seem to have pulled at a tiny string and now the whole sweater is unraveling…

I will work hard the next couple of days to finish my big living space reorganization and then I will focus those spring cleaning energies on my manuscripts. I need to reorganize a better working outline and get on the road again with my characters.

Sometimes you have to stop, clean up and start again.

And the Winner Is…


I woke up this morning with a horrible stomach ache and have spent most of the day throwing up. I must have caught some kiddo germs at school last week  – yuck. Needless to say, I haven’t gotten much accomplished today. I did get some writing done and I’ve watched a ton of episodes of one of my all time favorite t.v. shows, My So-Called Life.

I’ve been watching the Golden Globes tonight and I have to admit, as embarrassing as it is, I always think about what I would say if I ever found my name called at one of these events. My imaginary speech changes a bit from year to year, depending on what fantasy award I’m winning. I think it’s kind of silly too, but for years a big award on t.v. epitomized what I thought success would look like.

Don’t get me wrong. A big deal award like an Oscar or a Grammy would be amazing and I wouldn’t turn it down, but over the last year my success meter has been shifted.

These days success looks like a class of fourth graders who can’t wait to talk with me about writing. Or seeing my e-book on major bookseller websites. Writing every day for two weeks is a great realistic success that I won’t get any fancy awards for, but it feels like a Golden Globe to me.

I haven’t written consistently in almost a year. I’ve written some, yes, but mainly in short bursts of inspiration followed by extra long periods of frustration and blank pages. A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to commit to writing every day, but this time I didn’t put any expectations on it. I’m shooting for about 20 minutes a day, however yesterday I only wrote a paragraph and never got back to it. I wasn’t upset though because at least I wrote a paragraph. Even one new word would have been a success.

I’m not sure how long it will take to finish this book with this new writing goal, but I do know for sure that it will get written.

Maybe some day I will find myself in a fabulous ball gown dripping with diamonds walking up to stage to accept an award. Maybe I won’t. But either way I’m glad that I found a way to shift my perspective on success. Who knows what successes I might have waiting for me. I just have to keep telling the story and watch my own story unfold.

Historical Fiction Aspirations


I finished reading Water for Elephants yesterday and I really enjoyed it. I liked the story and delighted in learning the history as well. I’ve been planning to write historical fiction of my own for a while and this book got me all juiced up again. A little too juiced up, because I now want to abandon my current project. I won’t, but it’s tempting.

In the meantime, I can focus on the research that I need in order to be ready to jump in when this current project is finished. I’d love to launch right in, but that lack of foresight is what’s clogging things up in my current project. I started it for NaNoWriMo so I didn’t do much planning. It wasn’t a problem for the first 15, 000 words but now I’m running into road blocks. I know I need to step back and sort the story out before  I proceed.

I hated history until my senior year of high school. One of my favorite teachers, Mr. Melbach finally made history interesting to me. He opened me up to a whole new world, so to speak. He also taught us history through literature which appealed to my love of reading. I realized that if the story was engaging enough, I could savor the history lesson too.

During the last semester of my bachelor degree I needed one more class to graduate. I decided to take an Irish in America class on a whim. My ancestors are Irish and I thought it would be interesting. It was one of the best classes I have ever taken. I learned a ton about my heritage and I met Jim Walsh. Jim is an incredible teacher, but he also became my friend. Jim introduced me to what he calls, “History from Below”. The idea is that the real history is the people’s history and that is rarely what we read about in text books.

I am a member of a local acting troupe that Jim started called The Romero Troupe. I have been honored to be a part of this group and learn history from below with these amazing people. You can see more info about the troupe here if you’re interested.

Being in Jim’s class and working with The Romero Troupe has led me to a love affair with history. It adds such a rich background for storytelling. I read that Sara Gruen found the inspiration for Water for Elephants from a picture of traveling circuses that ran with an article in the Chicago Tribune.  I also have been inspired by pictures for some of my stories. I think looking at historical photographs will play into my research for the next book too.

Do you like historical fiction? If so, what’s the best historical fiction book you’ve read?

I love you, Fall!


I have been waiting patiently for fall, but to no avail. For weeks, the leaves held their green ground and the temperature stayed up in the high 80’s, reminiscent of early summer. I went to California for one of my best friend’s wedding and came back to Denver to find fall had decided to come after all. The temperature finally dropped a bit this week and the world around me takes my breath away.  I’ve always wanted to see New York in autumn, but I’d reckon Colorado’s fall display would rival most.

Even though fall represents dying, I’ve never felt it to be a negative season. On the contrary, I find autumn to be a time of renewal and transformation. There’s a bite to the air tonight and it’s so close to Halloween – fall will be out and winter will be in before I know it. In the meantime, I’m reveling in the wonder of my favorite time of year.

I’m also planning and plotting for another Nanowrimo month. I feel bad adding a new story when I’m still plugging away at The Lost, but it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the Nanorwrimo fun. I am, however, making a daily work count committment to The Lost to help prove my devotion  – even if I am already starting to feel like a cheater…