Saturday, October 31, 2009

I DID IT!!!!

The first draft of The Unlikely One is finished.

Coming in at 59,197 words, it has room to shrink.

As all my stories do!

I'm a little numb right now. Pleasantly content with my accomplishment, but not over-enthusiastic at all. Maybe finishing a story on Halloween night, in the midst of tricker treaters can't compete with the fun of gifting scarecrows, pirates, spidermen, and prisoners with chips and various sugary treats. Or maybe I'm just exhausted, and know this isn't the end of working with Fiona and Carter.

In any case, The Unlikely One will rest in a safe place on my hard drive, and backup version too, until after NaNoWriMo, when I'll come back to it for its first round of many revisions. That leaves me a month to sharpen those editing knives.

So thankful for the gift of a new story to span the break between first draft and edits. Can't wait to get started on The Innkeeper's Christmas tomorrow. [Rubbing hands together in anticipation.]

What about you? How do you honestly feel when you finish that first draft? Is it different with each story? Is it bitter sweet?

Surrendering to Him,


p.s. These are the carvings my daughters did this year. The top one is a horse head. She drew it freehand and carved it wonderfully, I think. I'm so impressed!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Love Is...

Gross at times.

With Halloween tomorrow, I thought I'd gross you all out. Refrain from reading on if you have a weak stomach. I won't be hurt. Promise! But before you leave, Happy Halloween!

Okay, on with Love is Gross at times. Remember back to the love is... feline friends battlefield post? Well, since then, I was given the illustrious job by my veterinarian to collect a fecal sample from each of the new members of our family. Wouldn't want any parasites hanging around down there, now would we? Oh joy!

Grossness, grossness, grossness, is more like it.

You wouldn't think it would be that difficult to carry out those orders since Noelle and Emma are indoor cats and do their business in a litter box, would you? Besides the grossness part, I mean. But, in reality, I still haven't figured out which cat does which style of doodoo in their shared litter box, and I need to put Noelle's sample in her labelled bottle, and Emma's in her own labelled bottle. These cats seem to have scheduled their business dropping into the middle of the night, leaving me without an opportunity to tell which does what. And I'm sorry doc, but I'm not staying up all night to man the litter box and figure it out. Though, since I paid for these expensive tests already, perhaps I should.

Now, if we're to be honest, it's not only loving other species that qualifies for the gross factor in loving, though, is it? I can think of many festering soars through the years that I've choked back bile over in the process of nursing my little one's flesh back to health. That's all a part of loving. The bad with the good. And we won't mention the hours of clean-up we've partaken in due to the spattering remnants of flu, will we?

Oops, sorry, guess I just did.

Loving is sometimes gross, but I'm glad God gave me the ability to do all these things for those He has blessed me with. We really do get our strength from Him!! Praise God.

And since it is Halloween tomorrow, just to introduce our loved ones to a little of the grossness factor we've been dealt through the years and continue to so graciously deal with, I say we brew our families a pot of eyeball chili, tarantula biscuits complete with olive eyes, and mummy hot dogs for dinner tomorrow night.

And make them stomach it all!


So, what's your typical Halloween feast? Recipes welcome.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Nasty Side of Revisions/Edits

My number one beef with revisions/edits for an unpubbed writer is that they...


Seriously, if you're a pubbed author, the edits come to an end when the deadline arrives, but if you're like me, unpubbed, there is always time for one more round of oh, I'll just try it from this angle instead, or, oh, now I just learned this, so lets get back in there and incorporate that somehow in this older story, too. Or, oh, I learned this new wonderful word, it's such a strong adjective and I remember in such-a-such-a-story this happened and I just have to replace that dull adjective with this one now. And of course, once you get in and make that one change, you start cooing and ooing over your old baby from start to finish again, making just one more round of revisions that magically morphs into several more.

And if you've set that story aside for months, even a year, think how much you learned through those craft books and at conferences to start the whole rewriting process again. It's like that song:

This is the song that never ends,
it just goes on and on my friends,
Just when you think you have reached the end,
the song begins again.

This is the job that never ends,
it just goes on and on my writing friends,
Just when you think your story sparkles bright, you discover something new,
and the edits begin all over again.

My second hate of rewrites/revisions/edits, is the initial overwhelming feeling that paralyzes me. Do you ever experience that? It's like you're trapped in a shed with knives hanging on every wall and a tornado comes smashing and howling in your direction. You curl up in a little ball, and start praying for God to just take you now before you feel the stabbing pain of each of those sharp, sharp daggers flying straight toward you. There are just too many for little weak you to conquer and heal over. It'd be better just to die of a heart attack, or bleed to death given the circumstances ... than bear the long, painful, tedious recovery ahead.

And thirdly, and I'll stop here, since I'm getting depressed, is that you go cross-eyed with the repetitive process of reading and re-reading as you layer in your revisions and make sure your I's are dotted and your T's are crossed, and your Was's are no more.

Taking a deep sigh here.

Boy, am I glad NaNoWriMo is just ahead. I'm wrapping this current ms first draft up by Saturday at midnight, then I'm packing it away in a box, and delving into another exciting first draft. And for one whole month, I will not think of revising any of my previously written stories. I will not allow myself to think of fresh new wording for any of those stories, period. I will just dance in the glory of first draft writing, denying all that is to come.

Thanks for listening to my rant. Got anything to add to my list of horrors? Halloween is coming, after all. This is when the ugly masks are allowed to come out and play.

P.S. I have an article posted on Writers' Rest today regarding my Monday night experience at a Writers' Collective. Would love to see you over there, too!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, October 26, 2009

I Have A Love Hate Relationship With...

...Revisions and Rewrites.

First the Pros. I love getting into revisions and rewrites because:

  • They always result in a much smoother piece of literature.
  • Critique partners offer enormous insight and I want to incorporate many of their suggestions to make the story come alive.
  • Lost or dropped threads need a second, third, or fourth chance at getting found and being carried throughout the novel.
  • The only way I ever come close to writing concisely is by axing in the revision and rewrite stage.
  • Important layers that I never thought to put in initially shine bright in the revision stage.
  • Scene transitioning gets a nice finishing polish.
  • And, characterization and setting details get fine tuned and overhauled to perfection here.

Those are my top reasons for loving the revision and rewrite stage. Are yours similar, or different? Please, do tell. What do you concentrate on during the revision stage of writing? Do you revise in layers, or are you more the salad-bowl type, mix in a multitude of upgrades all at once?

On Wednesday, we'll take a look at the hate side. Hint: When an overwhelming destructive feeling attacks every ounce of your confidence and drive, how do you overcome it and write on?

Surrendering to Him,


P.S. My laptop is back from the doctor, all fixed, and my data unaffected. Just cost me a little stress and a cheque I hadn't budgeted for. Praise God for small mercies!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Love Is...


I was blown away with all the support and encouragement I received with respect to my earlier post this week. So I'm dedicating this Friday Love Is... to all you wonderful blogging friends--my encouragement cyber angels--without you guys, rebounding wouldn't have been near as easy.

Isn't it amazing that technology can allow us to encourage and love via cyber space? It is a blessing for sure.

Even though it can fail us, at times, too, like when viruses or worms can work their evil way through it into our computers. Like what happened to me. My laptop is still at the doctors, by the way. So I still don't know how much damage my laptop will be permanently inflicted with through this. But onward I go, with all your encouragement, I'm still getting word count in, and enjoying planning of a new story for NaNoWriMo. Life is good. Writing never stalled for me.

May you all be blessed with cyber angels of encouragement when you most need them, just as I have been this past week. Thank you all!

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Birthday Celebrations!

October 22nd marks two special birthdays in my family. Two individuals who are very dear to me, so I had to give them a little tribute by posting birthday wishes for them today. (Maybe they'll stop by and actually see it, too!)

Mom and Hubby (Phil)!!!

I hope you have the best tasting cake and ice cream today, and blessings fall like confetti on each of you, too!

And the girls would hate me if I didn't include them in on this little tribute, so...

We love you both loads and loads, Nana/Mom and Fazoo (Dad)/Handsome!

Eileen, Alisha, Sabrina, and Cassandra!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What A Day!!

Sorry, I had originally planned to discuss edits, rewrites, and revisions today, but with the Tuesday I had, my mind and emotions are set in another direction.

That, being one of absolute frenzy!

Up, down, and everywhere in between. You name it, Tuesday brought it on for this fake-highlighted blond. (And for the record, that's a google photo, not actually of me, though a good likeness.)

Shall I share details? Then, if you should have a similar day soon, you'll know that you're not alone. Right? I'd be more than willing to commiserate with you all, if that should happen, though I really hope it doesn't to you, too.

First, I got in a good word count, that is until... For now, I'll log that under the ups! Wait to see how it changes later.

Then, I received my first agent rejection.

"Although your concept is very appealing, we had problems with the opening of the story and the actual writing itself. This is still a rough draft and just isn't ready for submission to publishers yet. I am sure you will continue to learn, grow, and master the craft of fiction and eventually you'll be in print."

I so appreciate the gentle honesty given to me, but after six years of working on this manuscript, it does hurt, a little. What's worse, is that this very same manuscript is sitting in my dream editor's slush pile, and I wish I could just go and pluck it out so that she can at least see that pile reduced by one, without wasting any of her hard-pressed-for time. The fact that I can't retract it, quite honesty puts me in the dumps.

But onward with the day I go. Putting in a couple more pages of my w.i.p., until...

Oh, I'm so amazingly angry at this one.

My laptop gets infected with some evil worm that slows everything down to not a snail's pace, but far worse, and relentlessly keeps delivering these stupid virus alert pop ups. LIKE I'M NOT AWARE OF THIS ALREADY!!!!!

The tongue lashing I wish I could direct at the delinquent who gets his/her kicks out of sending infectious diseases through the web is like none I've ever delivered before. Trust me. I asked hubby if the turd would get prison time when caught. Man, he deserves it!!!

So, I hard shutdown my lappy, resolved that my incompetence isn't going to fix this monstrous beggar when I have to go anyway to pick up my kids for optometrists appointments looming.

What have we got score wise so far? One up, two downs, with the downs plummeting at rapid speed, I might add.

On to optometrist journey. One of my dear daughters loses her permission note and is down with a cold so she's dragging her size nine feet, and saunters into the van ten minutes late only to announce that I need to go with her to sign out now. Hello! That's what cell phones are for. Couldn't she have phoned me from her locker to at least cut off 5 minutes of our being late for said appointment? Total frustration has set in cold and hard by now as I think of all my precious stories being eaten by a worm on my laptop, when I've stupidly not saved them on a memory stick lately.

But why should I care, really? They're poorly written anyway, as I just learned hours before.

While waiting for my three daughters appointments, I miraculously pick up pen and notepad and start sketching out a not-too-flimsy story line and character history for NaNoWriMo. Considering I'm a no-good writer, the fact that I'm still acting like one at all so soon after the wake-up rejection, truly amazes me. And thankfully, the Optometrist keeps me on this roll of amazement by offering good news. No added expense of new glasses this time around. Yes! Another jump up, but since I'd fallen so far, I still have a long way to climb.

Dear hubby arrives home earlier than expected. Love it when that happens, especially when there's a worm I'm too weak to battle. I'm inching my way up the dark abyss. Strong, brave, smart hubby is home, hope lathers on.

And as I sign off tonight (using our uninfected, safe family laptop that jumps cursors more than a hungry cat meows) my hero continues to attempt to chop and mutilate that worm, but as we all know, worms have a way of reviving themselves...

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, October 19, 2009

First Drafts

With November being only a couple weeks away, many writers are preparing for NaNoWriMo.
Two years ago, I met the 50,000 words while taking the challenge, but last year I didn't even come close. I'm not sure why that is, but I suspect it was because my heart wasn't into it last year.

What I love, though, about NaNoWriMo is the opportunity to run with a first draft in a single wonderful swoop of a month. There is nothing better than getting a full story down in a relatively short period of time. It does mean doing some preparation, though, to make it really happen.

If you're a SOTP writer, you basically prepare your story in your head. You feel your main characters out. You figure out the main plot points and a few twists that you want to incorporate. And you know your story setting.

If you're a Planner/plotster writer, then you are probably filling pages of a binder with research notes, a full character sketch of each of your main characters at least, a detailed plot layout, and you might even have some pictures in that wonderful resource binder too. You may even go as far as a scene by scene layout. Oh, imagine how easy writing a full novel in one month would be with all that preparation. I'd be in my glory. But, unfortunately, I'm more of a SOTP type writer which leads to endless rewrites, I'm discovering. (More about that on Wednesday.)

So, if you're joining in on the NaNoWriMo challenge in a couple weeks, what are you doing now to give yourself the best chance at meeting your goal? If you're not taking the challenge, what other goal are you going to give yourself for the month of November in the writing arena of your life?

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, October 16, 2009

Love Is...

A Battlefield.

Katie, thanks for this!! (For those who didn't notice, last week, Katie mentioned that my Love Is... Friday's always have her singing Love is A Battlefield.)

And some days it sure seems like one, doesn't it? I'm deviating from the romantic relationships in our lives with this post, though even they can seem like a battlefield at times too, but this week has posed a different kind of war zone for my family and I find myself relying on unconditional love to get me through.

Now, first, let me define my definition of unconditional love. It's loving even before you achieve any measure of bonding. It's loving despite anything, and I do mean, anything, because that's what makes the world a happier place!

Well, this week, my family, which is mainly me since I'm the one home alone all day, each day, has been working on integrating these two little rescued bundles

Noelle a.k.a. Bella & Emma

with these two well-established, well-loved, and very set-in-their-ways furs

Tucker & Tippy

As a result, there has been a lot of hissing, spine curling, spitting, barking, and chasing going on around our home. And all in the midst of my annual juicing. Oh what amazing fun! So, yes, love is a battlefield quite literally in our household as of late, and it's only love that is getting me through it!!

And praise God, it seems to be working. There are far longer cease fires between the open fires as the days pass by and so far no eyeballs have been plucked out, either. All's good when the animals still have their sight, even if their brains seem to be MIA!

So when was the last time you were involved in a battlefield? Did you have fun making up, or in our case, celebrating (what we hope to be doing soon with our integrated pets--oh, please Lord, let it be soon!)? And what did you learn from the whole experience? A better understanding of a loved one? Patience? How to use earplugs? That perseverance pays off? Oh, the list could go on and on...

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Doctor Appointments Anyone?

This week and next pose several trips to doctor's offices for my family--me being the chauffeur. It made me think, since life is full of these mundane chores, why don't we see them as scenes in many novels?

Think about it, the tension is there, at least it is with my girls. With the exception of optometrist appointments, my girls stress endlessly over dental and family practitioner visits. Sitcoms do whole episodes on one visit to either of these lovely establishments, so the needed conflict and tension is definitely doable. So why don't we write these into our stories for authenticity of our characters being living, breathing creatures, and as a source of entertainment value as well?

I don't have the answers, I'm just wondering, as it seems to me it's been a very long time since I read such a scene, but I've certainly seen a lot of them on t.v. Just for the fun of it, I think I'm going to write one into my current w.i.p. and see just how entertaining I can make that loooooong waiting room scene with screaming babies, and old people nodding off with their heads bobbing, seeking a non-existent resting place, and youth fidgeting in those plastic-covered seats, and oh, don't forget the coughing, sputtering, blowing-their-nose clients only too happy to converse with you while you all crowd in the waiting room...waiting!

Just a thought, as my head feels as though it's about to explode on this chilly fall day.

What normally mundane living experience have you exaggerated beyond experience in your w.i.p. lately? Let's have fun sharing how we made them entertaining.

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm busy whipping up pies and stuffing a turkey, but I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Whether you're Canadian or not, may today bring you much fodder for your seasonal stories! And I don't mean the conflict matter, but rather the resolution kind. Blessing to you all!

Surrendering to Him,

P.S. We got our first frost last night. I feel strangely exhilarated by it! Perhaps we'll turn the fireplace on tonight and curl up to a good movie, or even better, a great book! Care to join me?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Love Is...

Praying Together.

Many of my blog readers are Christian and might question the challenge in my putting this one out there because it's just always been done. But honestly, for this homegrown Christian, praying with others, even my husband, does not come naturally. You know the sufferer-in-silence type (not to do a recap on Twilight, but I love that phrase), well, I'm that too, but I'm also the pray-in-solitude type.

I'm sure I drive God to roll His eyes more than a dozen times in any given day with all my silent solitude prayers. I do hound Him a lot, but I figure, He's God, He can shut me out whenever He wants to, so I'll just keep talking, and when He has a minute, maybe He'll tune in to my frequency for a few seconds now and then, and the chances are pretty good that I'll be lifting something in prayer during those moments. But to pray out loud (with the exception of Grace before meals)with another person listening in, yes, even if that person is my amazing hubby, makes me tense inside and out. It is NOT NATURAL for me. Even though it should be!

There is a reason why I do so many revisions/edits on my manuscripts. It takes me forever to get to the point and find just the right words to convey that message, and I'm no different in prayer. To share a prayer with another, for me, is like letting them see my rough drafts that ramble, stumble, falter, and just plain stink. But I know that God hears prayers all the more that are lifted in numbers, and spilling your heart out to God with a loved one listening in and raising those same joys, concerns, requests, etc. is a gift that God wants each of us to receive and use.

So, if you're in the habit of praying aloud with your loved ones, awesome, keep doing it! But I will challenge you with this: Is there a care or concern that you've been hording in your solitude prayers? Might you be ready to receive the gift of sharing it with your loved one while raising it to our Heavenly Father?

Now, if you're like me, and just plain articulating a prayer vocally in the presence of your loved one is a growing experience, I challenge you to grab a few moments with him/her and just do it. Start a new and improved way of praying! The blessed rewards are sure to surprise us, not only in our relationship with our loved one, but in our faith journey as well.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Professional Editors--My Take

First off, I have hired a few professional editors through the years, but never for a full manuscript edit, so what my take is, is based on partial submissions only thus far. If I can ever afford to have a full manuscript edited, I'll be sure to update you all on any of my changing views.

From my experiences so far with freelance professional editors, though, I do have some benefits to share. And my number one benefit is:

1) Continuity: In the average critique group you send out a given number of pages at a time to go the rounds. Usually it amounts to a chapter or two at a time and then you have a couple weeks laps before your turn comes around to send in the next few pages for critiquing. You can imagine that in that interim time, each partner has viewed several other partial manuscripts of totally different stories if you're a member of a group, so the continuity of yours is definitely broken to an extend. This has it's benefits for a line-by-line type critique/edit, or for micro tension spotting, etc., but it has its drawbacks for a good picture of the overall flow and ebb of the manuscript. Do all those nibbling questions you posed in the early part of the manuscript really get answered, or at least tied up satisfactorily? If you're depending on your crit. partners to answer that, you probably shouldn't. Too much time lapses between the starting and finishing chapters of any given novel, with too many other stories interrupting the read in your usual critique group.

But, with professional editors, you generally send the whole manuscript, or at least a larger portion than would normally be submitted in a single critique group round, and thus you have far more continuity type edits being observed and checked.

2) They're professionals!!! Yes, most freelance editors are either editors for publishing houses, or have been at one point, or are published and presumably know what the market is looking for and what a well written book looks like, or they just have that highly intelligent editor's eye that we as writers who are way too close to our story need.

Are there dud freelance editors out there? Sure there are, but do your homework (get references), shop around, ask for a free sample edit, and pick yours with care, so that you do gain from the experience. And there is much to be gained!

3) An Unbiased Opinion and Direction: If you've done your homework and picked a reputable editor (and they aren't your best friend), and you're paying them for sound advice and direction then you'll likely get exactly that. And that means no tap dancing around, no spine bending, no praise when it isn't warranted, and most importantly, a fresh set of eyes on your manuscript with a good set of fingers that can articulate in writing what you need to fix in your ms. to make it sing!!

Critique partners can lose their toughness from time to time, and so a weak chapter can slip by them in an off week, but when a professional is being paid, they don't want to be associated with a weak manuscript, they want to be the source of making it better! In turn, they'll attract more business, right!

So that's my take on hiring professional freelance editors. But I will also say this, a good freelance editor will tell you upfront when your work is not yet ready for their eyes--when there is just too much still needing to be learned and applied before their efforts are worth both of your time and especially your money. Don't jump into hiring a freelance editor too early. Be sure your work is showing much promise first. Now a mentor or writing coach is a whole other story on that subject, though. They can be beneficial at any stage in the writing journey.

What about you? Do you have any concerns or further benefits to add to this list regarding freelance editors?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, October 5, 2009

Benefits of Critique Partners/Groups

After a long break, I'm excited that my critique group, The Pearl Girls, are getting back into the swing of critiquing. It got me thinking about what I've missed.

1) Their stories, and the unique voice that each of them has.

2) Mini-brainstorming--When it's not your own story, brainstorming is all the more fun. When a section's pace is lagging, or conflict seems to be weak, that's when critique partners tend to pull out their brainstorming hats and offer ideas in those cute little comment boxes. I love receiving them from my critique partners, because often they are the answer to prayers.

3) Grammar guru. I'm bad with grammar, but one of my critique partners is the master. Thanks Patti!

4) Keeping a schedule. By making rounds of submissions, we know when our own fifteen pages need to be ready.

5) Growing as a writer. Through editing other's work you do hone your craft, just as much probably as you do by receiving constructive criticism from those who may be eons beyond you in this journey. Seeing what works and how it works is as educational as learning how to fix your own writing. And by looking at in small sections, you have the opportunity to do some dissecting and really see how it works.

6) Sharing the struggle. Writing is a solitary endeavor by large, but when you work with a critique group, friendships form, and they form with people of like minds and like understanding. It's a gift!

There are many more benefits to having a critique partner/group to work with, but what about hiring a professional editor? Is there value in that? I'll talk more about professional edits on Wednesday.

If you're a member of a critique group, what is the greatest benefit you receive from yours? If you don't have a critique partner or group, are you hoping that changes soon, or is writing solo the best way for you?

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, October 2, 2009

Love Is...

Something Unexpected.

I think it's time for something unexpected to happen for my dear hubby. Hmmmm. What haven't I done, in oh, I don't know, at least fifteen years?

Oh, oh, I've got it. For me, that would be a candlelight dinner with fine red wine, and grilled steak to perfection. (Good thing I thought of this before the snow starts a blowing.)

What about you? What do you know that your hubby or significant other would love that you haven't done in ages? Could you try doing it this week?

Surrendering to Him,