Category Archives: Writing

Time to Throw in the Towel

Standard

White_FlagI’ve been working on the second book of a planned three-part trilogy for a while—it seems like years, but it’s been just a few months. Time has been dragging because the book has been progressing poorly.

Sometimes I think all my books progress poorly, but this one really has hit Olympian heights of lousy progression. Everything is bad. My outline refuses to come together, and no matter how I approach it, I can’t seem to fill the holes. My writing is flat. To look at my story notes, you’d think I have enough good, strong conflict, but it isn’t working. I have a cute opening scene that I like a lot, but it doesn’t reflect the rest of the book or sufficiently introduce the story questions. If I cut that, I’ll be cutting the best thing in the book. I want to just keep writing—get that first draft done!—and so far, that’s been my path. I’ve got almost 45,000 words now, and I hate it. Nobody wants to read this mess, including me.

So now what?

I see that I have three options, and two of those are related. The first option is, just keep going. Paste on my monitor all the book-finishing-affirmations from Nora Roberts that I can find (You can’t fix a blank page! Put your butt in the chair and write!) and just Get. It. Done. Quality comes with revisions, so get that first draft out of the way. Nora never gave up on a book, and I won’t either! GO!

The second option is, set it aside. For some reason, the story gods are capricious right now. It’s okay to obey them. Work on something else. Finish that. Then come back. Nobody says you have to get to Point B by climbing over the mountain and through the thistle patch when the paved road is right over there. By the time you get back to your story, that mountain will be leveled and the thistle patch paved over. A lot of writers jump from story to story, and it hasn’t seemed to hurt their overall output any.

The third option is, just forget about it. There’s too many stories out there waiting to be told. Even I, who brag that I have only one idea at a time, have several things I could be working on instead. I don’t have to bang my head against a stone wall. I wanted a trilogy? Forget it. A standalone works fine, too.

So what am I going to do? I don’t mind working hard, and writing is full of frustrations. I get that. But when a story isn’t panning out, it might be time to give it a rest. We’ll see how it goes in the next couple of weeks… 

 

 

 

Is It Better To Be Brave Than Kind?

Standard

Does art imitate life? Over at Eight Ladies, Jilly reports on a study that shows what men and women really want when they go online to date.

Eight Ladies Writing

Is It Better To Be Brave Than Kind?Women prefer bravery, courage and a willingness to take risks rather than kindness and altruism in their partners.

Do you agree?

The above statement is a direct quote from an academic paper about online dating, written by Professor Khalid Khan of Barts and the London School of Medicine and Sameer Chaudhry of the University of North Texas, published in the Journal of Evidence Based Medicine. I read about the paper in an article online this week and thought it sounded like story gold, so I took a closer look.

The paper’s stated objective is: to determine, for people seeking a date online, what activities and behaviours have an effect on the chances of converting electronic communication into a face-to-face meeting.

Or to paraphrase, how to win at online dating.

And since success at the preliminary stages of online dating is all about establishing a character

View original post 366 more words

Friday Writing Sprints—Let’s Dance!

Standard

How creative are you feeling? Try this writing exercise. Elizabeth has picked out a few words that are united around a dance theme for you to write a short passage about. Use the exercise to jump-start your writing day, or just try it for fun.

Eight Ladies Writing

International_Dance_DayHappy (almost) Friday.

I’ve spent the afternoon listening to the soundtrack and brainstorming ideas for my contemporary romance that has been sitting fallow for weeks.  Thought I’d take a break and put all that creative energy to use with some Random Word Improv.

Care to join me?

Whether you wrote a lot, a little, or none at all this week, a few minutes of Improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page.  Feel free to put on your own soundtrack to get you in the mood.

All right, let’s get started. 

View original post 144 more words

Write Your Novel in a Year

Standard

Have you always wanted to write a novel but couldn’t get started? Michille over at Eight Ladies Writing has been following the Writers Write blog for weekly goal setting, tips, encouragement, and hacks. See for yourself.

Eight Ladies Writing

medium_Writers_WriteWriters Write is one of my favorite writer blogs. They are running a series right now called Write Your Novel in a Year (Anthony Ehlers is the blogger of this series). There is a new post every week and they are up to week 14. It’s set up with goals, breaking it down, time lock, quick hacks, and finishes with a quote. Each week, the post has information and suggestions under each of these topics. I am looking forward to the next in the series.

View original post 475 more words

Diary of a Writing Workshop Dropout

Standard
Diary of a Writing Workshop Dropout

Have you ever signed up for a workshop to discover you didn’t have the time, energy, thoughts, or ambition to complete it? Here’s Nancy’s story, over at Eight Ladies

Eight Ladies Writing

Sometime in January: Dear Diary, today I got an email notice that Donald Maas, author of one of my go-to writing texts, Writing the 21st Century Novel, is giving an online workshop in March. I want to take this class. I have no time for this class. I am crazy to even think I should consider this class. I WANT TO TAKE THIS CLASS. I cannot take this class.

Sometime in February: Dear Diary, I just signed up for Donald Maas’s online class.

March 11: Dear Diary, today I got an email reminder about an online writing class. Apparently, in a moment of abject denial about the reality of my life, I thought I could handle a class. While working 80-hour work weeks. Was I drunk?

March 15: Dear Diary, my online class started yesterday, and the first assignment – to write a blurb for a WIP – is due…

View original post 486 more words

Let’s hear it for the girls

Standard

Catas-TrophyToday I found a fun and inspiring story about publishing, and I always like those. It’s about a book. Here’s the opening:

“Miss Peacock felt the warm tears welling up in her eyes…. It had been Miss Peacock’s lifelong ambition to hoist the trophy aloft with two victorious arms. Apart from basketball, Miss Peacock’s two more modest pastimes were knitting and the regular manufacturing and drinking of hot chocolate in the staff canteen.”

Thus begins The Catas-Trophy, a 140-page mystery about the theft of a prestigious basketball trophy from a school in London. The author(s): 29 girls, students in Class 5 at the Teresian School in Donnybrook, Co Dublin, ages 11-12. Each student wrote and illustrated a chapter.

Caoimhe Ní Fhaoláin, the girls’ teacher, assigned the project to develop the students’ writing and teamwork skills. The girls voted regularly to decide the direction the story should take.

“It was a great lesson in diplomacy,” said Ní Fhaoláin. “They worked together to develop the characters and ensure that the plots are flawless throughout.” The students were responsible for the front and back cover design and illustration, blurb, and title.

Printed volumes of The Catas-Trophy are sold locally, and it’s also available on Amazon. Proceeds go to the Irish Cancer Society and Down Syndrome Ireland. Because that’s how the girls voted to do it.

So, excuses for not writing and publishing, anyone? I didn’t think so.

 

Flash fiction challenge: The car chase

Standard

Chuck Wendig issued a flash fiction challenge: write a car chase in 2,000 words. I’m cheating a bit, because while my antagonist leads the chase in a car, the scene is about the chaser, not the chasee. And the chaser is a food truck. But, hey. There’s a car in there. Somewhere. Comments welcome!

When the Eklunds broke away from the race and sped across town, Karen Renfrew turned from the orange and blue paisley–painted, Indian-themed food truck and stared as the small cavalcade—the electric sports cars driven by the investors, and then the electric support vehicle—bashed their way through the traffic cones that marked the route and peeled off in the wrong direction.

“Well, that’s really weird,” she said to Uncle Boo-boo, who had taken her to his sister’s startup food truck and was introducing her to the tasty miracle that was chicken tikka masala. “Why are those cars going off the track? Why is Phoebe following them?”

“Perhaps it is secret CIA business!” Uncle Boo-boo said, beaming.

“What are you talking about?” Sanjay asked, sticking his head out of the food truck’s order window. “What CIA business? What’s Phoebe up to now?”

“We don’t know!” Karen said, frowning after the cars. “It’s very odd.”

“I think it’s secret CIA business!” Uncle Boo-boo said.

“Maybe we should follow them,” Sanjay said. “Phoebe has a exhibited a distressing habit of taking risks. Perhaps she could use our help.”

“An excellent suggestion!” Uncle Boo-boo said. “Let’s go!” He unhooked the chalkboard menu that hung from the side of the truck and stashed it on the counter. Sanjay disappeared inside, and in seconds, a cloud of black smoke erupted from the tailpipe as the truck roared to life.

“We’re chasing them in the food truck?” Karen didn’t think they could catch them in the food truck. Or even keep them in sight, no matter how bright those ghastly yellow cars were and how tall the cones stood out on the vehicles’ roofs.

“With what else do we have to chase them? By all means, in the food truck!” Uncle Boo-boo clipped the menu securely to the counter and then nudged her toward a small door in the side of the truck. “You do not see any other vehicles here, do you? The food truck is what we have. The food truck is what we’ll take.”

Karen heard a shout from inside the truck, and a skinny teenaged boy started slamming down the window covers. In seconds, the truck was secured and ready to go.

“No time to lose!” Uncle Boo-boo beamed and opened the side door.

In for a penny, Karen thought, and tripped up the steps in her killer heels. At the top she bumped into the teenager. “Oh, sorry!” she said.

“This is the nephew of my nephew Sanjay,” Uncle Boo-boo said. “Justin.”

“Justin?” The teenager, a beautiful younger replica of Sanjay with dark brown, almond-shaped eyes, dark hair, and pants at least four sizes too big, shrugged.

“Don’t ask me.”

“Better sit!” Sanjay yelled from the driver’s seat. He ground the gears into first and stepped on the gas. The truck was heavy and slow, but even so, the lurch sent Karen flying into Uncle Boo-boo.

“Here, we have seats in the back,” he said, holding onto her firmly. “With belts. Better than an airplane.”

They staggered to the back of the truck, where Uncle Boo-boo pulled down a jump seat for the two of them, and Justin braced himself in a crevice between two built-in cupboards.

“Hang on!” Uncle Boo-boo called gaily as Sanjay ground the gears into second and the truck lurched again. Uncle Boo-boo grabbed Karen’s leg for emphasis, which was a lot less irritating than she thought it would be. She looked into his twinkling eyes and smiled.

“Where are we going?” she asked. “Can we still see them?”

“We will catch them,” Sanjay called, glaring into the traffic, his eyes focused on the road. “They will not get away.” With one hand on the wheel, he dug his phone out of his pocket, and hit the speed dial.

“Phoebe!” he said. “What are you doing?” He listened for a minute, swerving around traffic with one hand, leaning on the horn when he had to. “We’re right behind you! Alert the hotel!” He disconnected and shoved the phone back in his pocket.

“The Swedish-Korean terrorists are making their move!” he said to his passengers. “We have to step on it!”

“Terrorists?” Karen said. “What terrorists? I never heard anything about terrorists.” She’d never really been positive that Phoebe had worked for the CIA. Her daughter just seemed to have a boring desk job at some gray agency in Washington where she sat all day and pushed paper around. She was a spy? When did that happen? And—chasing after terrorists like this, somebody was bound to get hurt.

“The Swedish-Koreans! I told you! They have guns! They are on the move! We must stop them!” Sanjay stamped on the accelerator. Hungry pedestrians, seeing the food truck barreling down the street, tried to flag him down, but he gestured wildly to get them to move out of the way. Then he turned on the truck’s exterior speakers and hit a button. Music from a Bollywood musical blared out into the Las Vegas desert.

“Ah,” Uncle Boo-boo said. “That is Lat Lag Gayee. Very nice tune.”

“What?” Karen said, hanging on to Uncle Boo-boo for dear life as Sanjay careened around a corner.

“From Race 2,” Uncle Boo-boo said, holding Karen firmly. “Not my favorite film, but I do like the music, don’t you?”

“Ah, sure,” Karen said. The truck sped down the street, music streaming out to the public. Several other vehicles honked. Sanjay honked back. From her position on the jump seat, Karen could see only a tiny sliver of the front-facing windshield. Buildings sped by, but she had a hard time orienting herself to where they were. And then Sanjay slammed on the brakes, and they all lurched forward.

“We’re here!” Sanjay threw open the driver-side door and leaped out of the truck. Uncle Boo-boo helped Karen to her feet and she, feeling unexpectedly hampered by her stilettos, followed him out the side door, gratefully taking his helpful hand. Justin jumped down and hiked up his pants with one hand after he landed. Karen looked up at the imposing façade of the Desert Dunes casino and the yellow electric SUV parked in front. What was Phoebe doing here? What was happening?

“Hey!” the liveried valet parking guy said. “You can’t park here!”

“CIA!” Sanjay flashed his food vendor’s permit for less than a second.

The valet parking guy grabbed Uncle Boo-boo’s arm. “Stop right there!”

“They’re with me,” Sanjay said. “National security!”

“At least turn off that music!”

“CIA!” Uncle Boo-boo said, shaking his arm loose and flashing his realtor’s license. “It’s most urgent.”

“I’m the cocktail waitress,” Karen said, wondering if the valet parking guy might actually hold her back. She thought that might be a good idea. He was kind of cute, and her feet were killing her. When she’d accepted the date with Uncle Boo-boo to see the race, she hadn’t expected to do so much running herself.

“Hey! Wait!” The valet guy said, but Sanjay ran to the revolving doors without looking back. Uncle Boo-boo towed Karen, who tripped along as fast as she could, and Justin slouched behind.

“We’re in,” Sanjay said, looking around the lobby for Phoebe, or alternatively, any sign of trouble. “Now let’s go save us a Secretary of State.”