Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Writing Wednesday--Beginnings

So, last week I had a wacky word.  Today I'm doing a Writing Prompt.  I think as a writer, that the beginning is probably one of the trickiest spots in the story to write.

Found this cool meme on Google and just had to share it with you.  Thank you!
One of the things I've learned in creative writing back in college was to start somewhere else.  I've done this in different projects or book series even.  I had a hard time reading Magic Kingdom of Landover: For Sale, Sold! by Terry Brooks when I first picked it up.  But I really wanted to read the series because the stories sounded so intriguing, so I started with the second book in the series, The Black Unicorn and after that, I was hooked.  After I had read the entire series, I went back and read the first book which made the others make more sense and I was able to understand more of the characters and such. (Sidenote: my favorite book in that series is Wizard at Large, it makes me laugh and has the right amount of adventure going on in it featuring a couple of the side characters more as the main characters.  It's awesome.)

But what if you don't want to start somewhere else?  What if you have the compulsive need to start at the beginning?  I have this problem as well.  Just remember though, if you write the beginning very first to ignore it until the story is FINISHED!  Don't go back or you will forever be stuck in the "editing/rewriting first chapter" loop.  I got caught in that loop when I went to do my first rewrite/revisions on my very first finished novel.  And I'm still caught in it.

One of my favorite things to think about with beginnings is: first impressions make the grade.  When you are wanting a reader to read your story, how is that beginning going to impress them to keep them going in your story?  Does it start in media res (i.e. in the middle of some kind of action)?  Does it have catchy wording to hook you in the first two or three lines?  Or does it have a lure of some other kind that makes you wonder where it will go next?

I just listened to the Writing Excuses podcast episode on Beginnings--Writing Excuses-Beginnings Episode Link--and during this episode, it was really nice to hear what people are looking for in a beginning.  The first one I mentioned--the book starting in media res and they use this in the episode is James Bond beginnings.  It starts off with him in action on some sort of assignment.  You're hooked immediately because you are pulled in by the action and the suspense of who might die in the beginning or who will they introduce as a villain the James Bond beginning.  It's awesome right?

If you want to start in media res, go for it.  It doesn't have to be a big huge action scene like James Bond though.  Start in the action that you feel is best, no matter how small it may be.  I really liked how they also used the beginning of Cinder by Marissa Meyer (remember my short and sweet review?)  as a in media res example.  She's doing something small, but it's revealing something about her character as well which is what your readers learn in an in media res beginning.

The second one that I mentioned is just hooking the reader in the first two or three lines.  The first book that came to my mind in this is The Martian by Andy Weir.  I'll let you look up the first lines.  Man, when I read those, I laughed out loud and said, "Oh dear, where is this book going?"  I'm hooked right from the first lines.  The other that a lot of people might think of that is engaging in the first few lines is A Tale of Two Cities.  You know, the "It was the best of the times, it was the worst of times..." sentence which I believe is also one of the longest, or the longest, first sentence ever written, but also one of the most captivating.

The last one I mentioned is a lure that is intriguing and wants to make you read more.  When I think of one like this, I think of The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  (Love the book and the movie!)  Also The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.  I mean, you start reading The Book Thief and you are immediately wondering who the heck the narrator is!  Took me just a bit to figure it out, but if you haven't read it, I won't spoil it for you, unless you've seen the movie, then it's already spoiled.  However, those are two books with beginnings that make you go, "Hmmmm....I wonder where this is going.  I need to know more."

So, for this week, I am going to give you a writing prompt challenge on beginnings.  Here it is:  I want you to write the beginning of your story.  However, do it three times.  Once in media res, once with only a couple hook lines, and once more luring your reader in with intrigue.  It shouldn't take more than a page for the first and last one, but the hook lines should only be two or maybe even three lines long.  I'll do this too and report back next Wednesday on how it went.

Get out there, get reading and get writing!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Friday, Monday, & Tuesday in One!

So, I had Challenge Fridays that I wanted to start.  Sorry I didn't post that day.  It was my oldest's 10th birthday party and there was a lot of last minute stuff left to do for it, so I was super busy handling mom/hostess duties for 10-10 year old girls!  Wow and it was a wonderful party and I'm glad that everyone had a blast.

In that light, I did not get my own challenge finished, although it has been on my mind a lot.  I don't want to disappoint in my own beginnings of Challenge Fridays! I really want to practice setting a goal on one day and reporting on it the next week.  So, this week, I am going to finish those hooded towels and also get studying my physics for my new story idea I'm working on.

And sorry I missed yesterday's post.  One of the very first friends I made after I moved from Utah to Illinois passed away Sunday evening after battling a very rare form of cancer.  It's very sad.  I have had friends pass away before, been to their funerals and such, but I didn't really do much grieving for them.  For her though, I have thought about her every day.  I have been praying for her husband and three children that she has left behind, and I am grateful that I got to know her, even if it was for a short time after I moved here (her family moved to Missouri after about a year of me and my family moving to Illinois).  I remember us talking about her daughter being a lefty because I'm a lefty and how to teach her to write and other things since my friend and her husband were both right-handed.  I remember carving pumpkins with her family and going to the pumpkin patch with them during our first Halloween in Illinois.  I also remember that about a week before they moved away she called me and wanted to go to lunch and go shopping with me before they moved.  She will be missed by all those that she came across in her life, but she will also be remembered.

So for my Book Tour Tuesday, I actually don't have one.  Although I want to talk about a book that I wish I had read and think will now after seeing the movie.  I watched the movie, The Fault in Our Stars, last night which is based off the book by John Green.  It's about a girl, Hazel, who has thyroid cancer that has spread and she has a hard time breathing because her lungs aren't strong enough and keep filling with fluid.  But it's not just about her.  It's about her journey with a boy she meets at a support group named, Augustus Waters.  He, too, is a cancer patient, but unlike her, he has the most positive, upbeat soul that is grateful for every day he is alive.  The relationship that builds between the girl (Hazel) and Augustus is amazing!  They find the support, love, and friendship they both needed in their lives through the story.  I cried, I laughed through the movie and I kept thinking about my friend and her family.  I pray that one day the cure to cure all cancers will be here and it will just be something we talk about in history class, like small pox.  I pray that all of my readers with family members fighting this awful disease know how much I admire their strength to endure such a hardship (the one who is sick and the family members helping out as well).  I will definitely be picking this book up in the future to read!

In the meantime,

Get out there, get reading and get writing!

P.S.  If you did a Challenge Friday, feel free to share what challenge you picked and if or how you plan to accomplish it and how it made you feel finishing a project or writing goal.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Story Share Update

Last week I told you about my new story idea that I needed to learn physics for.  Yeah, I haven't cracked open any of the physics books I checked out from the library just yet.  I think I'm just too scared to do it.  I'm not good at math, or understanding fierce math like some of the theory's have you look at.  But all in all, I think it's a good thing to keep learning something new every day!

And because I am not good at math or physics really, here is a meme that fits this to a "T" for how I feel about it sometimes.

The basic knowledge I have a physics isn't hard for me.  It's when I want to understand more of the "timey wimey wibbly wobbly stuff" that goes straight over my head and out the window to the neighbors yard.  Don't get me wrong, I find science very fascinating.  But I'm more into earth sciences, meteorology, archaeology...not physics--although it has some stuff that makes it really cool.

Well, it's short and sweet today.  I am definitely going to try to read some of these physics books for a bit this next week so I can get a handle on what I'm looking at for my new story idea.  Even if it makes me cry and goes straight over my head way too much.

Get out there, get reading, and get writing!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wacky Word Wednesday

So, I decided I would do a Wacky Word Wednesday today.  Today's word is....


Yeah, so I had no idea this word existed.  It's meaning is: The fear of running out of reading material.

Um, so this is super interesting that there is an actual fear of running out of reading material.  Luckily, for you and for me, we know that there will always be reading material available as long as writers keep on writing.

Sadly, my word count for this week is pretty much nil, so I may end up with this abibliophobia because then I wouldn't have anything to read in order to edit!  There is a good reason though and it's because I am working on my oldest's birthday party stuff this week.  So I don't have to worry about running out of reading material at all since I have left four books sitting on my nightstand and about twelve at least on my Kindle.  I know I will always have reading material, and I sure hope you all never stop reading either!

Get out there, get reading and get writing!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Book Tour Tuesday--Dangerous by Shannon Hale

This week's Book Tour Tuesday is, Dangerous by Shannon Hale.  This book seriously is one you will not put down once you pick it up.  It is that good and fast of a read.

It's about a girl, Maisie, who is accepted into a astronaut boot camp with a lot of other smart kids.  When a group of the kids at this NASA-style boot camp gets the opportunity to see something out of this world, things change for Maisie.  She is now part of a group of kids that have the opportunity to save the world, but it isn't easy.

Through this story, it is fast paced to begin with.  I was captured with the character of Maisie from the beginning.  She is a very intelligent girl who decides to write an essay for a contest that is on the back of a cereal box.  After being accepted, she is just like anyone else who would win a contest to a NASA-style boot camp, excited and unsure about the adventure before her.

I love every aspect of this story.  I love love love the characters!  I love the character growth and depth, and Shannon Hale does a great job in her details.  Not too much and not too little.  Just enough to make you believe you are reading an action/science fiction movie.  It only took me about three days (without kids, it would be about one full day) to read this book.  I am very grateful to my friend who recommended the story to me one day and said I just had to read it.  That's what I recommend to you today.  GO READ THIS!  It's great for pre-teens who have read The Hunger Games, Cinder, or anything else in this genre.

Shannon Hale easily became one of my all-time favorite authors through this story.  I can't wait to read more by her and await eagerly to see what Shannon has next up her sleeve to capture us all.

Get out there, get reading (especially this book!) and get writing!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Mayhem this Week

My week is uber busy.  My oldest has a birthday party this week I have to prep, and which part of includes a scavenger hunt as part of the festivities.

It will be all good though.  I mean, even though I haven't written anything for my new story yet, I still have the physics books to look through, and other books to just relax and read for now.

Today though, I wanted to talk about the mayhem in my life and why I have a love/hate relationship with it.

For the past three years, I have been doing online school through BYU-Idaho.  Sadly, it's only been one or two classes per semester.  This makes for getting a degree very long winded.  I already have an Associates Degree, but it's something that will get me nowhere since it's in General Academics.  However, I love school.  I really do.  But it's so much harder online than it is actually going to a lecture class for me.  In my online classes, you have to read the lectures and they aren't the most fun things to read most days.  Plus, with the past two years, I have been doing one class a semester because of my feisty child.  As an infant, she wouldn't sleep very well unless she was held.  Now as a toddler, she is better at sleeping, but the homework load is still just as big and keeps me up all night instead of on the computer every second of every day.  Because of this crazy mayhem, I decided I'm dropping my schooling for now.  I wish I could finish, I really do.  I really recommend you finish your degrees!  But for now, I am a mom wanting to become a published author some day.  And being a mom gives me the greatest mayhem ever--my children.

So, that was my hate side relationship of mayhem in my life.  Online schooling: really cool, great for stay at home moms, yet takes twice as much time as originally planned.

My love side relationship of mayhem in my life is my family.  I love spending time with my family.  I'm trying to get to know my kids again since the online schooling made it so that I could count on one hand things I actually remember doing with the kids while I was in school for the past couple semesters.

I really do love my family and they come first in my life.  My days are filled with diaper changes, floors covered in toys of all kinds, and food crumbs all over the house.  It took me a while, but I'm more okay with having a messy house now than I was a year ago.  I used to think that my living room needed to stay clean all day long to impress those that may stop by.  Now I don't care what people think of me when they stop by and I have crayons, toy animals, puzzle pieces, and superheroes scattered around on the floor.  It makes me happy to see my children be happy.  And even though their mayhem is the kind that I love, it can still drive me crazy.  But it's the kind of crazy I don't try to second guess whereas school was.

To make things easier in my life, I am going to drop online schooling and be a mom wanting to be a published author.  I will write when I can, I will blog still, and I will read.

So, make sure when you are writing, to put the first things first in your life.  If you have a family, stop typing and go attend to them.  Get to know them.  Remember that all the actual real-life experience you have helps you give that to your reader later on.  The feelings and reactions to the mayhem in our lives, both the good and bad mayhem, make you a better writer when you tap into it.

Get out there, get reading, and get writing!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Challenge Fridays

Don't you love Fridays?  I normally do.  Unless I have kids soccer games at 9 am on Saturday, which since it's soccer season, I do.  Luckily it's the last day of soccer for the Spring season until the Fall season begins in September.

So, for Fridays, I think I'm going to initiate the Challenge Friday.  It will be a writing prompt, learning about something new, or just challenging yourself to something you don't normally do.  Work on it over the weekend, then if you want, let me know in the comments on the next week what you worked on.  Every week I'm hoping you'll share your challenge in the comments below so that it gives others ideas and we can be supportive of each other even though we may be states apart.

For this Challenge Friday, I am going to challenge myself to learn how to make hooded towels for my kids.  My kids needed new hooded towels since their current ones are too small for them now.  I decided I would make some.  I have everything, I just am always afraid that I will mess up so big that I can't recover from it.  I've done it before, and plus, I have a sewing machine that hates me most of the time.

I'll try to post pictures of the finished product next Friday and talk about working through it.  I believe as a writer, if you want to be a good writer, you have to be able to face challenges head-on, even if you think it will blow up royally in your face.  Whether we get Writer's Block, or are just trying to learn how our character will face a challenge they are faced with, we need to know how we react in situations that challenge us.  Challenges make us stronger, more fierce, and more ready to face the day ahead.

Get out there, get reading, and get writing!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New Story Share

For Thursday, I wanted to make sure you saw what I was working on.  I'll be secret about it for now mostly, but I will tell you that I'm really excited about this one.  It's like a version of Evil Doctor Who.

So, I went to the library yesterday and checked out books on physics and time travel and Albert Einstein (Theory of Relativity stuff).  I'm a little daunted by it all, but before I can really dive into my science of my story, I have to learn some of this stuff.  I love it when stories are inventive and creative, but I also love it when it's mixed with proper science and math.  It has to make sense in order for it to be believable and grab the reader's attention.

If all I said was that I'm writing a story on time travel, but I didn't care about the science of it all, how would that make my story exciting at all?  Having a basis for where your story pieces come from can help your reader become more engaged in the story itself.

Get out there, get reading and get writing!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Writing Excuses

Here's the deal.  Wednesdays I thought I was going to make a "Wacky Word Wednesday" or writing prompt day.  But I'm having a hard time coming up with anything for it right now.  So, I'm going to tell you about my favorite podcast in the world!  Probably the only one I listen to or have really listened to ever, but it's my favorite.

It's called; Writing Excuses.  Here's the link to the website:

Anyway, it's a few authors telling us all about writing.  They are fun to listen to and funny.  It makes learning about the craft of writing FUN!  Learning about something isn't always fun, but if you love doing something, you have to learn the fundamentals and nitty gritty stuff about it.

Example: I like soccer.  I hated practicing and doing drills, but it's what made me better in the game.  It's what made me faster, more alert, and able to work with my team.  If you can't get through the nitty gritty's of learning about writing, you're not going to get very far and no one will want to work with you.

That's why I recommend listening to and even trying out the writing prompts from Writing Excuses.  One of the authors, Brandon Sanderson, is also a professor of creative writing at Brigham Young University.  His class is a master class in novel writing.  You have to submit your writing to his class in order to get into it in the first place.  Lucky for us who don't go to BYU or live in Provo, Utah, or even can't afford writing courses right now, a lot of the classes you can catch on Youtube here.

He's the author who has written many of his own best selling novels, but was also slated to finish out Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.

There it is.  Go check out Writing Excuses.  It's on Itunes for free, or you can listen to the podcasts on the website as well.  They aren't very long.  I think the longest one was 30 minutes and I listen to them while I fold laundry on laundry days.

Get out there, get reading, get writing!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Tour Tuesday

So, as I was thinking on what I would do for each day of the week, one thought came into my mind.  Why shouldn't I review a book each week?  Even if it isn't a newly published book, getting the recommendation is always a great start to learning about an author and what kinds of books they write.

Now, I will hopefully be able to get some authors interviewed in the future for Book Tour Tuesdays, but for now I will put up a book review, or even have guest posts for book reviews in case I'm too slow in my reading.

For this week, I have chosen to review Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Marissa Meyer Website

This book at first glance was certainly intriguing to me.  And I saw this book first on before it's release as a recommended new author read for me. (Back in 2012)

I'll admit, I wasn't super excited when I started to read this story about Cinder, but as I kept going, it got better and better.  The characters were lovable and despicable.  The science fiction base of it all was fun, and even the idea of what the future of the world could be was fun to read.  And by the way, if you want to know my favorite character in the book.  Her name is Iko and she's a robot. Finally at the end, I couldn't put it down! I had to force myself to put it down a couple of times because I realized it was past midnight and I had to get up early the next day.  In the end, I had to get the next book and I've already started to read it. Scarlet is its title, and I can't wait to finish it so I can read the third book of this series which is The Lunar Chronicles.

If you want more detail into the story, I'm not going to give much away.  Although, I found out some of it to be predictable, but was still fun to read.  Hopefully you'll check it out at your local library or purchase it for your collection.  It's a great, clean read, so it's wonderful for preteen readers as well as any other Young Adult genre fan.  Also, if you like fairy tale stories, you'll like this Dystopian/science fiction version of fairy tales.

Go out there and get reading and get writing!

Monday, June 8, 2015

It's Been Too Long...Again

So, I've been inactive for this last little bit because my hubby and I took our family on a camping trip for a few days.  We had no cell service (or very little service), and it made it so that we had to talk to each other and spend time together.  Which was AWESOME!

Anyway, I've been thinking about how to organize my days of the week for the blog.  I won't be posting on Saturdays and Sundays because it's the weekend and I'm usually busy.  But I will try to have postings for Monday through Friday the best I can.  I'm a one blogger show and fitting everything in every day of the week isn't easy for me.  I'm horribly at time management, but somehow I'm going to figure it out and get into gear and do it.

Speaking of time management, that's one thing that I've seen in a lot of author blogs when they answer the question: How do you find the time to write?

Well, the answer they all give is: You just do it.  The Podcast show, Writing Excuses, talks about this too.  They call it: BIC HOK.  "Butt in Chair.  Hands on Keyboard."  Even if you don't write anything but the same word over and over again for ten minutes, you're writing.  You're getting those gears working in your brain.

It's like exercising.  You just have to do it to stay healthy and your skills will improve, and your stories will get better, and you will just feel better.  But with everything, the starting of it can be easy.  You just have to keep going through the rut time to make any progress at all.  I've seen amazing things to those who keep going when they've gone through a rut.  I am not one of those right now in my life.  I am kind of in a rut, but kind of not.  I need my exercise, both physically and intellectually in my writing.

So random thought here and it should go with what I'm talking about in finding the time to write.

I started training for a 5k about three weeks ago.  This 5k is in August.  After week 1 of training, I injured myself pretty good after my 4th training run.  It sucks.  It sucks so bad.  Because of my injury, I have lost about two weeks in my training.  I mostly go do the runs when my hubby is home so I can take the dog with me, and not have to push a stroller.  So I find the time to do the runs.  Because of my injury, I've been having to do some leg strengthening exercises and they hurt to do them, but I know if I keep going, I will get better and be able to finish training and keep on running further than a 5k run is and push past that rut and succeed.  First I need some tools though.  I will need a knee strap for both knees now, new running shoes, and if I can: new running clothes (just to make me feel good about myself and be more comfortable).  Oh, and an armband for my phone to sit in during the runs.

Writing is very similar.  I see Writer's Block, what we think of as Writer's Block, as an injury of some sort.  Maybe we burned ourselves out in researching our story instead of writing it.  Maybe we started self-criticizing ourselves for the story before it was finished, or maybe we were so excited about our story we told our closest friends, allies and family about it but some were critical of it and said it wouldn't  happen, thus lowering your self esteem in the ways of writing an actual story.

So, go start again.  Find the time to the write.  Get the right tools.  Go buy some books on writing.  Take a creative writing course.  Check out books that will be in your genre.  Check out new and upcoming authors and what is making their story a hit on the NYT bestselling list or on Amazon's bestselling list.  I have even found the researching agents and publishers when I get in a writing rut, or just don't feel like it gives me the motivation to complete it.  Find friends, allies, and family members who will support you and help you with reading your story, and will help you edit. Don't forget though, you still have a lot of editing to do when you finish that first draft.

While I figure out what each day will look like on this blog on writing.  Go out there.  Read a book.  Do a writing prompt.  Listen to a podcast on writing.  Find a writing group.  When you get the right tools you need for the exercise, you will be able to get through your rut easier, and find that your outcome will be greater than you expected it will be.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I'm Back!

It's been an incredibly hard hurdle to get back into writing.  I had my third child in October 2013.  I was even on bed rest near the end of my pregnancy because the baby just decided it would be time to come at 30 weeks instead of full-term.  Luckily I didn't have a preemie.  I also was in online school and being a mom all from the couch.  Even after having #3, I did a lot of parenting of the older two from the couch because of breastfeeding, and the fact that #3 didn't like being put down...AT ALL!

Anyway, after a few grueling semesters, being a parent, and supporting my husband through his crazy new work schedule after being promoted, and a billion new story ideas, I am diving back into writing.

Now, I saw a wonderful blog with keys to submitting a query to have your own story read by a publisher or an agent.  In it, there was one thing that stuck out in my mind that is so true these days: KNOW HOW TO USE TECHNOLOGY!  People who you want to represent you as an agent, or to publish your story want to know if you're connected with anyone out there in the cyber world.  They want to see you for you and how you are with others online because, let's face it, it's truly a techno world these days.  Some days I feel like Skynet will take over and we'll be nothing but worthless shells whose stories are left on pages for the robots to read on their own.  Then again, because of technology, there are wonderful things about it (like connecting with you), and there are things that can cause problems in actual real life relationships.

So, for now, I will leave you the link for the page I read by Sherry Ficklin about submitting your stories to be published, and I will come back later to chat!

Get out there and do some writing!

Surviving the Slush Pile by Sherry Ficklin