Monday, April 4, 2016


Hear ye! Hear ye!

Yeah, I know. I've been neglecting this blog lately. I've been neglecting my writing as well. My head has not been in the writing game lately. At least, not as much as it should have been. I've been meeting weekly with my writer friends but haven't been doing much else besides writing on the beauty blog. 

That's all about to change - I hope.

The announcement is that I finally signed up on WordPress and have just published the first post. The page is called pennywritesdotcom and you can follow that link if you'd like to see the new blog. There's not really all that much to see there yet. I still have a lot to learn about working with WordPress. I've heard good and bad things but it was pretty simple to set up the page and get the first post up. 

I also have an email to go with it - 

I don't have any plans to close down this page but probably won't update it as often as I'm hoping to the WordPress page. 

Basically, it's time to stop thinking about what needs done and start doing the work. Time to stop sitting back and wishing this or that would take place and take the action necessary to see that it does take place. 

I always knew I'd have to make the transition and frankly, I have no idea why I've been dragging my feet. I know I needed the time off to get centered once again. Unfortunately, I'm still little off center and that may or may not change depending on how you look at it. I've always been a little off center all my life but I've never considered it a bad thing. Living life sometimes requires being a little off center. Otherwise, all the bad things that happen might just overwhelm me. 

And this is not what I intended to write when I started this post.

The page is still quite blank other than the necessary links and, of course, that first post. I'll be looking into how to personalize it, although I do like the clean look of it as it is right now so I may leave it this way for the time being. Maybe a picture of me or something. Time will tell. 

For now, I'm just getting used to the idea that I've actually taken this step. Hopefully, it's just the first of many.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On Writing Hangovers and Inspiration

Is there such a thing as a writing hangover?

That's just about the only way to describe how I felt yesterday after spending several hours Sunday with my writer's group, writing. In fact, all the extended writing time meant I actually had to plug in the laptop before it died on me. My phone as well since I was using it for writing music. 

As a result of all that good writing time, I went to bed exhausted then got up with a horrible headache yesterday and it pretty much stayed with me all day despite the Advil influx. Feeling much better today, though.

I did make some serious headway in the rewriting of the current project. Writer's group liked the new scenes I've written for the first quarter and gave me ideas on a few changes that I had already been considering. I've also made the decision to put back some scenes from the middle part that I had previously removed. A few changes will have to be inserted since one of the characters introduced in those scenes has now become part of the heroine's intro.

Now that I know the difference between revisions and editing, I don't feel so bad that I'm making major changes in the beginning of the story. That's what revision is all about. Taking the first, rough draft and making it make sense. Don't know if you've  noticed or not but when you're flying through that first draft, the ideas come so fast and furious that sometimes what you end up with isn't as coherent as it seemed to be as you wrote it.

That's what happens to me. In the effort to not backtrack during draft mode (a thing I don't always manage to resist, by the way), parts of the story tend to shift in ways that require changes in previous scenes. Ideally, those changes shouldn't be too major but rarely do things come up to ideal standards with the barely controlled chaos that comes with writing a first draft - of anything.

While I'm not sure there is such a thing as a writing hangover, I do know that it is entirely possible to be writing for so long that it all suddenly becomes muddled in the head and you really do have to walk away from it for a time before you can go back to it. Getting a fresh perspective is key to getting on with it. 

Then there is the other thing that happens when I've finished one scene and am ready to begin the next one. Unless I've already been mulling a scene over in my head for a day or two, I'm usually sitting there, staring at the screen with nothing in mind. I know where I've been and where I'm headed but for some reason can seem to find the right path to getting there. That's probably where an outline would help, huh? I've always been a pantser but lately have come to see the value of even the roughest outline. 

I suppose what I do in my head for a few days before writing the scene could be called mental outlining. It used to be that if I had an idea and didn't get it down in some way, it became lost in almost the next minute. Not so much anymore. Now I seem to be able to keep that idea rolling around in my mind long enough that by the time I do put words on the screen, very little if any of it is lost. The writing flows almost too easily. My fingers have a hard time keeping up with my mind. That's when writing is fun.

I've probably mentioned this before but part of my writing process when I'm stuck is to play a game on my computer. That keeps the non-creative side of my brain occupied while the creative side works out the scene for me. Did that yesterday and came up with a name for a new character. 

I'm sitting here today, watching the picture screen saver on the big computer while I write this blog post on my laptop. I have now seen a picture that sparked an idea for a new story using the character name I came up with yesterday. I am now considering and planning another story using the same galaxy I've created for my current project. 

I already knew this current project would lead to at least one other book, possibly even a series. There's so much to the main storyline that it could take several books to resolve. Series do seem to be popular. I know I enjoy reading a series since I get to spend more time with characters I've come to love while getting to meet new characters. I'm hoping readers of my stories will feel the same way.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Yes. I'm Still Here.

And still writing. Just not on the same project.

Unfortunately, I became overwhelmed and once again, decided to put that particular project on the back burner. It's one that I've played around with since 1995, has gone through several plot changes and at this point, I'm afraid it's just too big of a hot mess to ever see the light of day. I still love the characters as well as the basic story behind them but I just don't have the energy to work on it any longer with no perceivable progress toward publication.

Instead, I picked up a smaller project that's only gone through a couple of drafts and very few plot changes. My writer's group has read this one and given it a thorough critique so I have some good feedback to work with. Plus, after an extended conversation about a particular plot point that wasn't working, I have come up with a better plot point and am now writing some new scenes. Not many new scenes. Just enough to get the story back on track and eliminate that one, troublesome area. 

Since I've never actually been in this part of the writing process, I'm also reading some books and articles on revising to help me determine whether or not I'm doing it right. Even as I write that, the question comes to mind, "Is there a right way to revise a draft?"

As it turns out, there might be.

When writing a first draft, there are many ways to accomplish the same task. A writer can fully outline the story before ever beginning to write. Or a writer can just sit down and start writing and let the story dictate how it will go. A writer can also do a little of both, which is where I tend to fall, I think. 

With revisions, from what I'm reading, there actually is a best practices process. 

A first read through, just to find possible plot issues and where continuity isn't all it could be. Not to fix those problems right then and there but to note them so that they can be addressed in the next step, which is going through the notes and actually fixing the problems. A manuscript can go through a cycle of drafting and revising several times before it goes on to the next step.

Then you have editing, which is more the process of looking for misspellings, punctuation issues, and grammar. Then a final read through looking for anything else that might need to be fixed, that final polish. Of course, there may be other steps in the process that a writer can take to make sure the manuscript is in the best possible shape. These are just the basics that I've come across in my reading.

Now, whether that first read through is done by the writer or by an editor or a writer's group, that's up to the writer, I guess. For me, I haven't actually done the first read through. That was done by my writer's group since I don't have an editor. They took turns reading the same copy so that I had both of their notes in the same place without having to shuffle papers around. 

I had used this particular project to take some writing courses and had written extra material, mostly backstory, which I really liked and thought I might be able to incorporate somehow. My thought was to use the backstory as the opening scenes. After reading through the draft with the backstory included, the decision was made to not do that. They liked the original opening scene more. Of course, as of this writing, that opening scene needed to change in order to resolve that troublesome plot point I mentioned earlier. 

I can still incorporate backstory and have done so but in a way that, I hope, doesn't feel too much like an info dump. I'll be reading these opening scenes to the group today so I'll have some immediate feedback to work with. I like the opening scenes. I like the way they now flow together but I'd still like the feedback, even if it's negative.

So revision hell is still my world right now. It's just not as hellish as it has been. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Spoilers Abound! But Not In This Post.

So, the new Star Wars movie is out. Have you seen it yet? I haven't. I have, however, seen enough previews to figure a couple of things out that have since been confirmed by other spoiler-type people. Don't worry.  I have no plans to share.

At this point, if you have not yet seen the movie and do not want to see any spoilers, might I suggest refraining from viewing any type of social media whatsoever? Like the title says, spoilers doth abound and there are really mean people who are getting off on spreading those spoilers everywhere they can. As for me, I don't mind knowing some things ahead of time. I like to figure things out, especially when I question certain motives. And if I keep on going, I'll give it away so I'd better quit right here.

What I really want to discuss is old versus new with relation to Star Wars and the previously in place extended universe.

I was one of those people who waited anxiously for the next Star Wars book to hit the shelves. Hundreds of thousands of words have been written within what was once known at the EU. There was much to love and much that I just couldn't get past. Still, when I'd first heard that Mr. Abrams has tossed the EU in its entirety to make his movie, I'll admit. I was pissed. 

Then it dawned on me that while the good went bye-bye, so did the bad. In fact, there is one book that I just can't read to the end because of what happens. There's also an element of Luke Skywalker's life that never did set too well with me. Now that The Force Awakens has arrived, all of that has been declared invalid. Am I glad? Yes and no, but mostly yes. It did take some time for me to come around but I am now looking forward to seeing The Force Awakens.

Still, I feel for all of the authors who wrote within the previous Star Wars Extended Universe. All that work now pretty much tossed in the trash. Still good for a read, but little more than fan fiction now. Yeah, I'd probably be a tad put off by that. Of course, those writers will still receive royalties for their work, which may or may not now be in the spotlight thanks to the new movie coming out. 

There were a lot of good stories written back then. I can remember becoming lost in those stories, even the ones I wasn't particularly thrilled with - except for the one that I still can't finish. Maybe now that things have changed, I can get through it. 

However, from what I'm told by a friend who saw it yesterday, if you haven't read the books, you won't miss anything. The new movie takes off in a new direction and despite knowing how things used to be, I'm happy to follow to see where Mr. Abrams is going with this new thing.

My own writing journey began with a Star Wars fan fiction piece. I got tired of waiting for someone else to write the story where Luke finds his own love so I decided I'd write it myself. Over the years, when I needed to just write and not worry about characterization, I always turned to my old friends, Han, Luke, and Leia. With them, I could just concentrate on the story and let the characters fend for themselves. Probably one reason why my stories are plot driven instead of character driven. 

It's also one reason why some of the revisions to my current manuscript include some character development. As one beta reader said, the character needs to be present. Maybe not speaking but at least reacting to what's being said. Minor issue, possibly, but still one that needs to be addressed.

So that's my plan for the next few weeks. Work on revisions to a completed manuscript so that my beta readers can look that one over for more detailed revisions and final polishing. Well, the final decision to let it go and move on.

To put my own spin on a famous quote, a project is never finished so much as it is abandoned. Hoping to abandon my own current project in a couple of months. Need to get that Amazon library started.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

There's Always Next Year

Nope. Not winning NANOWRIMO this year. Didn't even make it to 10,000 words. Kind of hard to feel motivated to write when you've got flu-like symptoms and feel like a wet dishrag for half the month. But there will be next year and I'll be ready.

I did get blog posts written for the beauty blog. If I counted those, I probably did get past 10,000 words but definitely didn't make 50,000. 

Being sick has also gotten my sleep schedule way off. The only way to live through it was to sleep through the morning. Lots of sleep helped but now I'm left with the habit of sleeping the morning away. Things are slowly working back toward normal but since my writing stride has been in the morning since I've been off work, I really  need my mornings back.

I do feel like I've been in limbo this month - more so than the entire last year. Limbo isn't a very nice place and it gets boring. Hopefully, I've had my major yuck for the rest of the year and can now enjoy the Christmas season.

It's raining as I write this. And yes, I am crazy but I would love to see some snow right now. We did have a bit of the white stuff a week or so ago but it wasn't enough. I need that full blanket at least once. 

But back to the subject - aside from illness, I think there's another reason I didn't make the 50,000 word goal. I didn't take the time to plan what I was going to write. Since I hadn't planned to do NANO this year, no surprise there. Last year, I planned for NANO. I developed the story idea and was ready to write the scenes as soon as November 1st arrived. That's what I plan to do for next year. In fact, I'm going to start planning right now.

I am currently working on the first book in a trilogy, which means I will need to plan books 2 and 3 right alongside writing book 1. At this point, I have kind of put aside plans to do copywriting so I can concentrate on getting the first book out. 

I have set goals again, the first one being that book 1 of the trilogy will be a completed draft by the end of the year. One of my writing buddies and I worked it out last Wednesday when we met. I timed myself for one hour to see how many words I can crank out in an hour. We came up with an hourly goal with the idea that I'll be writing 4 hours a day. 

Haven't made the 4 hour a day goal yet, what with Thanksgiving last week and Black Friday and well, just getting myself back into the habit of daily writing. But this is the first day of a new month and with 31 days, if I can stick with 1500 an hour for 4 hours per day, even if I take weekends off, I'll have a 144,000-word draft completed by New Years Eve. 

Now, I know that sound ambitious but my true word count goal for the month is only 75,000 to 100,000. After all, every writer knows that just because you can write 1500 words in a one-hour sprint, doesn't mean you can maintain that speed over several hours of writing time. I will be happy if I can average 3000 to 4000 words in a 4 hour writing period. 

What I'm looking for now is that passive income that can be achieved by having something out there on Amazon. In fact, I've set a goal to have two books up on Amazon by Memorial Day. I already have a first draft ready for revisions, which means for the first quarter of 2016, I'll be in revision hell with two books.

Once I have the end of year goals met, I'll take a look at both projects, decide how much work will actually be involved and then possibly adjust that publishing goal. 

Meantime, I will still need some kind of income. Savings only goes so far, you know. I have come across a copywriting job that I find I truly enjoy. Product description. After all, that's what I do on the beauty blog. Why not get paid for it? 

December is going to be a busy month writing-wise, especially if you count all of the blog posts I've got planned for the beauty blog. I'll update here as I can but if you don't hear from me for the rest of the month, you can assume I'm writing up a storm.

Either that or I've crawled back into bed to hibernate for the month. Nah. I'd get too hot and too bored. Better to do the writing thing instead.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

It's That Time Of Year....Again

It's happened already. The "Happy Holidays!" versus "Merry Christmas!"

Yesterday, at the coffee shop, the individual behind the counter wished me "Happy Holidays!"  My response?  "You, too!"

Now, I have been heard to say and have fully intended to respond with a firm and possibly partially judgemental, "Merry Christmas." Trouble is, it wasn't Christmas yet, despite what retailers would have you think as of well before Halloween (don't get me started on that one or we'll be here all day).  Wasn't really even Thanksgiving yet - one more subject that I'll feel the need to expand upon at some point in time. I mean, to whom or what are you giving thanks, anyway? Think about it. Really think about it. We'll get back to this a little later.

Anyway, I didn't give my response any thought until just a few minutes ago. The "You, too!" just kind of came out automatically, as it does whenever someone says, "Have a nice day!" Don't judge. We all do it at some point. It's become the standard response to any well wishes, hasn't it? A little too standard but, again, another subject for further exploration at a later time.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have no problem with this current practice. Well, I don't anymore. I did at first. How dare you take away the holiday I celebrate? What's wrong with you? Forget the religious component, "Merry Christmas!" is tradition and you should never go messing around with tradition. Besides, a certain name is part of the name of the day. What are you gonna do? Change the name of the day? You can't. It's tradition. So there. It offends me that you are offended by me wishing you a "Merry Christmas!"

And I could go on. In fact, at one time, I probably would have. This year, however, if someone wants to wish me "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" I'm not going to publically chastise them for doing so. After all, "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" were being used long before it became politically correct to do so.

It has also occurred to me that the individual behind the counter has probably been forbidden by their employer to even mention Christmas in polite company. After all, the employer is in it to make money and doesn't want to take the chance of offending someone who might object to being wished a "Merry Christmas!" We are supposed to be the melting pot of civilization here in North America and just because someone is in the USA doesn't mean they share the same political or religious views, morals or otherwise. And we don't want to go around offending people left and right, now do we? Um, no pun intended there.

So, this year and following, I have decided that I'll let go of my offense that someone might be offended if I wish them "Merry Christmas!", respond in kind and get on with my merry little life. 

Who cares if I'm wished "Happy Holidays" and not "Merry Christmas!"? Doesn't matter in the least. I know what holidays I acknowledge this time of year and they are multiple - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  Which means, to wish me happy multiple holidays is, in fact, the correct greeting. 

Now, about Thanksgiving.  If you are in the USA, or even if you're not, to whom or what are you giving thanks today?

Monday, November 2, 2015


Holy NANOWRIMO, Batman! It's that time again. 

And now I have my post title running through my head to the Howdy Doody theme. OY! Stop that!

I hadn't intended to participate this year but got guilted into it - by myself, which is truly sad but what can you do?

Not sure how this will all work considering I'm taking another copywriting course through the rest of the year. This one has actual homework to go with it so I'm gonna be a real busy girl for the next two months. 

Still dragging me feet putting meself out there for jobs, though. It's a confidence thing and this course should help with that. Just sent in my first assignment and waiting on pins and needles for the result. I procrastinated so long that I only gave myself a couple of days to get it done. But get it done, I did and I think it was pretty good for a start. 

I'll be able to use my homework in my writing sample portfolio so I'll have something to showcase when I finally get out there. It's either this or the cube farm and time is quickly running out for that decision. Although, now I'm thinking that even if I do have to get another cube job, it won't be for nearly as long as the last one. And it will give me some breathing room while I work on both writing gigs.

Meanwhile, I've been slacking in the writing department. One reason I jumped on the NANOWRIMO bandwagon. At least this way I'll write something every day even if I don't come up a winner this year. But I probably will. It would be a real let down if I don't have that new banner to display up there at the top. 

I do have a competitive streak. Now if I could just use that competitive streak to get out there and find me some copywriting clients, I'd be in business - finally.