Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Five

1. Today is the fourth snow day for my kids this week. I feel like we've had our Spring Break in January and frankly it isn't as fun as I wanted it to be. Plus I'm going a bit crazy with the kids home for so long without having anything really scheduled. Tuesday was crazy with nothing for them to do. The last two days were fine because they were able to play in the snow and go sledding, but today it's going to all melt and just be a muddy mess. Everyone's getting a bit stir crazy.

2. I'm itching to write. It's what I've been focusing on and thinking about nonstop for the last few days. It's great to have this feeling again. Last year was so focused on revisions. And I didn't have the same creative juices flowing. This year I really just want to create, create, create.

3. Lately, I've been very focused on being grateful for the things that I have. I feel blessed in so many different ways. We don't have as much as some people, but I feel like our needs are taken care of, and that we are able to take care of our kids. I am grateful for what we do have.

4.  My kids are really into Minecraft right now. All three of them, but especially Caleb. He gets on with friends, and is Skyping and Twitching the entire time he plays. He is loud and exuberant when he plays, and I am not always thrilled about it. The last four days and he has played a lot more than normal.

5. I've found a great tool that is helping me cook more at home--one of my goals for the new year. I like it because I choose the recipes I want to cook and it puts together a grocery list. You should check out Plan to Eat if you want a tool that makes this easier for you overall.

That's it! Everyone have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dreams and Writing

Last night I dreamed that I was writing down some really great scenes in my book. I could picture the dialogue, the back and forth and I was falling a bit more in love with Steven, my male main character. Yeah. It was great. I had detailed scenes that helped move the plot forward. And it's been niggling along in the back of my mind all day.

Of course I can't remember what the ideas were or what actually happened in the scenes. That never happens. I used to keep a notebook next to my bed where I'd attempt to scribble in the dark to get down the ideas. Last night I never even got to the point of waking to get them down.

However, dreams do help me with my writing. The premise for Lexy came from a dream that I can still remember vividly. Selena came from a dream (an idea that I still want to revisit--I really want to understand this female terrorist that is playing in my head).

I haven't dreamed like this in awhile, and so it is exciting to be doing that again. And all I've wanted to do today is still away for a few hours to write. But my kids are home with a snow day, and I took them to the park to go sledding instead. I'm happy to do it. This is the first time they've ever really been sledding in actual snow and not down ice. But now that I'm home, all I want to do is sneak away to type out my story.

Do dreams help you in your writing?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Books I Love: Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally

This is a great story about a girl who loves horses and wants a chance at a better life. Her father has just taken a new job at a different racing farm, and she is meeting a lot of different people, which is causing her to question what she wants, and how big she can dream. 

It's a really interesting story. I love the characters that are in this book, especially Savannah. If you have read any of the other books by Miranda Kenneally, then you will be familiar with the area. In the other books the main characters are all about the same age, meaning they went to high school together. This book takes place a few years later, but there are some brief appearances (just glimpses) of those characters. I really like it when authors do that.

Overall I really like the writing style in Miranda Kenneally's books. The characters are always trying to figure out when and how they fit in. I've been a big fan since I read Catching Jordan, when it first came out. She is a great contemporary author and definitely worth checking out.

Have you read her books? What do you think?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Six

1. It's cold here. I am sure that is much colder in other parts of the country, but walking on the floor downstairs almost makes me want to put on socks. My toes are freezing, and we can't seem to keep the downstairs very warm, which is why I am currently spending my time upstairs. It is much too warm up here since all the heat rises. (Don't worry our thermostat is set at a modest 68 degrees.) It's just that there is about a ten degree difference between the two floors right now.

2. This post is two days later than I planned. Still I want to post, so I'm going for it, even with a book post for tomorrow. I've sat down to write this post several times and I have been distracted. I guess I have writer's block on this post.

3. The last week was busy since both of my boys turned a year older. It is a little crazy to have two birthdays just six days a part, but we have combined celebrations in the past. Since the boys are about two years apart, they usually get the same types of gifts. It meant that we got two new bikes this year. They are happy, but it's been way too cold to ride right now.

4. One of the themes I have been thinking about with my story with Aimee is the ability to forgive yourself for mistakes. Aimee's boyfriend commits suicide, but he wasn't only her boyfriend, he was her best friend from the time she was little. She's all wrapped up in what she did and didn't do, and isn't able to let go and forgive him and herself. The book isn't religious in theme, but I think being able to let go and move forward is an important part of life.

5. I read online about a family that in situated a study hall for their kids. At first I scoffed at this idea. I don't like a lot of structure, and I want homework to become as independent as possible. But we have issues with kids starting too late. I don't do math very well after 9:00 at night. So we are doing it. No television, games or devices between 6:30 and 8:30, with the parents available to help if needed. I'll let you know how it went next week.

6. I need to do yoga. My back and hips have been bothering me lately. This is the only thing I know that can deal with it, but I'm still not totally motivated to get it done. Hope you have a great week!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Are You Writing Alone?

In one of my manuscripts, I am attempting to write it in first person past tense. however, I continually slip up and write it in first person present. In my head, I want it to be told in first person past. So after every writing session, I go back and change the verb tenses throughout the story. I sent a chapter out to my critique group, and mentioned this. One of them wrote back, and asked, "why don't you just write it in present tense?"

And wow! Why don't I? Why was I fighting so much to pigeon hole the story into the tense, when for some reason it clearly wants to be told in first person present (except for flashback scenes). Suddenly the entire writing process seems a whole lot easier.

I also recently got feedback on Lexy, which is out on submission to agents, and I realized that my first chapter isn't as strong as the rest of my novel. I rewrote it after I finished the novel, and it starts in a better place, but I haven't poured over it the way I did the rest of the novel. I am in the process of tightening it up. Little things, not huge, but I think they will help immensely.

While most of your writing is done alone, it is important to reach out to others during the process for critiques, for editing, for a new perspective. Although this is an occupation or a hobby that is mostly solitaire, it is important to be open to feedback, to be willing to change.

How do you reach out to others for help in your writing?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Books I Love: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

As I thought about the first book I would share that I really liked, Jennifer Echols came to mind. I actually really enjoy all of her young adult books. She has a great writing voice, and I buy them the day that they come out. Her adult books are a little more adult. I've enjoyed all her books since I found her, but I think my favorite on the ones that she calls her dramas. I love Going Too Far, Forget You  and  Such a Rush

Dirty Little Secrets is the story of a girl whose sister got picked up by a record label and she got left behind. It talks about her coping with this and how her family has treated her as a result. Of course there is a cute boy involved throughout the book. 

It's a great read. The think I love about Jennifer Echols is I love her voice as she writes. I like that she isn't afraid to look at deeper issues, and explore pain, but at the same time I love that things work out in the end. She's got lighter stories, and then heavier ones (like the ones I listed above). 

Have you read anything by her? What do you think?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Five

1. I am not a morning person. I have never been one that does well without sleep. In high school and most of college, I went to bed around 10:00 (well except for the weekends). Then I met my husband who is a night person and I adjusted my schedule. Now I work and think best between 10:00 pm and 1:00 am. However, this year my daughter started middle school and schools starts at 7:30. It's killing me. I'm finding that I have to go to bed earlier, and I'm losing some of my creative time. Maybe I need to switch to being a morning person. Is that even possible?  Anyway, the kids get the first two days off of school next week, and I've been chanting to myself for the last few days, just a few days until I have four days to sleep in. Four whole days!

2. This week I have been rereading books by some authors. I am a rereader, and I probably do about fifty percent of my reading as rereading. It goes in phases too. I love revisiting stories and characters that are powerful and meaningful and seeing what makes a story really work for someone.

3. I have started on a new manuscript in the last month or so. It will go by the name of Aimee--since I name my stories after the main characters. Aimee is a contemporary YA. Something I haven't done before and technically could also be named Steve, since I am attempting to narrate from both perspectives. We will see how it goes. But I really like the two characters. It's a fun story.

4. The weather has been crazy in my part of the country. We were affected by that freezing polar vortex and got down to 9 degrees (quite a feat in the South), but then we were in the 70s the Saturday after that (5 days later). I think people tend to get the sniffles more with all the fluctuations.

5. I'm really struggling to come up with a number five today. It's an early release day, which means my kids are getting home three hours earlier than normal from school. It should be a good day overall. Have a happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Goals for the New Year

Yes, I know it is actually January 15th, which means the month is half over and I know that it seems silly to write down goals and resolutions for the new year now. The truth is that even though I haven't written anything down yet, I have been thinking a lot about the different goals that I want to set in regards to writing. So without any further ado and no more excuses here they are.

  1. Write every single day. The last year I got out of this habit, which made it a lot harder to actually write when I sat down and tried to do it. The times that I am best at writing and when things come the easiest are when I am doing it consistently. 
  2. Aim for a chapter a day. This might sound extreme, and I'm definitely not there yet, but when I get going and I'm in the rhythm, I know I can hit this goal. It's something I am working toward achieving by the end of the year.
  3. I have three novels planned out and ready to write, and I want to write them all this year.
  4. Revising--I want to get much better at revising.
  5. I want to start posting regularly on the blog again. So I was thinking of choosing one book I love each week to mention, and then do a craft post and a Friday Five. I think I can handle three posts a week. (I reserve the right to change this if it gets to be too much. I'm thinking new book on Monday, craft/writing post on Wednesday and Friday Five.)
That basically sums up my goals. Let me know about yours! See you on Friday!