Thursday, September 30, 2010

Everybody this is...

In a continuation from last Friday's compelling characters blogfest, I thought I'd expand a little more on something that has taken me a while to learn.

Introducing too many characters too soon.

Lots of times my soccer team is short players, so we call people from other teams to come sub for us. They usually arrive at the field an apprehensive face as they scan the groups of people looking for the team of strangers they're going to play with. Sometimes they know one or two people on the team, sometimes they don't know anyone.

After they get ready and put on a jersey, we introduce them to the team.

"Everyone, this is Victoria."

Then I introduce everyone to Victoria. It's hard to remember 12 names, especially when they're all wearing the same jersey and have ponytails. To make it even harder, put them on a field and see how well they do at remembering names when they're trying to kick a ball.

The same can be said when introducing characters. Sure you, as the author, knows who everyone is, but the reader is like the new player coming to the team. If you through a bunch of names at them, mixed in with action, they'll have a hard time keeping it all straight.

Take a look at your first chapter and get rid of everyone whose not vital to the plot. I did this and I have to say, my first chapter is much better.

For those who are keeping track of your writing, remember Friday's the last day. I know I plan on picking it up tomorrow, but that's more because I don't work.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Something has to give

I've decided that I wear too many hats. (Actually, I don't wear any hats, because I get hat head and frankly who wants that).

But figuratively speaking:

I have my mom hat.
I have my wife hat.
I have my daughter hat.
I have my sister hat.
I have my work hat.
I have my church hat.
I have my soccer hat.
I have my writing hat.

That's way too many. Since I can't give up my family, church or writing (still thinking about the work hat), I'm going to stop being so involved in soccer. I've been on the board as VP for ten years and I think it's time to focus that energy on making my writing hat bigger. Of course, no one knows this yet. You're the first. Hopefully it goes over well.

How about you do you have any hats you want to give up?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let the counting begin

If you are one of the 17 people who signed up to keep track of how much time you spend writing or editing, today is the day. If you want to join there's still room. Just go here. I've extended the deadline date, thanks to Ali for the heads up. I'm new with this linky tool thing.

I think this will be interesting, because now I'll be accountable for my time. Although, I know I won't get much writing done on Monday or Thursday this week. I'm hoping to make up the time on Tuesday and Friday and maybe a little bit on Wednesday.

Keep track and let everyone know how you're doing each day, or save it all until next week. If you can only keep track on one day then do that.

It will be interesting to see if keeping track motivates us to choose writing over other things that might waste our time (TV, internet, etc)

Good luck to those who are participating.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to compell - let me count the ways.

It's blogfest time and today it's all about writing compelling characters. I feel a little intimated to write this post, because frankly I'm still learning, but here's what I've read from a great book. The First Five pages by Noah Lukeman

Characterization Issues:
1) Using stock, cliche or overly exotic names. No John Smiths or Raylazan
2) Introducing too many characters at once (this is something I've been guilty of)
3) Confusion over who the protagonist is.
4) Generic character descriptions.
5) Having an unsympathetic protagonist.

Here's how to fix those problems:
1) Research names, look to mythology, look at the meaning of names.
2) Have patience - learn to stagger your character's entrances.
3) It's hard to enter a new world, give the reader a friend, a guide, someone to follow.
4) Make the character unusual looking, describe different body parts. Notice your characters cheeks, complexion, posture, aspect.
5) Remember what might be interesting to you, might not interest others.

To me writing compelling characters means that the reader has someone to relate to, someone to route for, someone whose just a little extraordinary. Readers want someone who captivates them, whether they be the hero or the villain.

I'm looking forward to reading other posts on this subject.

Remember Monday is the start of another blog week, but if you can only do it for one day that's okay. It's all about seeing how much time we really spend writing.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Three years ago my husband had an idea. If you climb 10 mountains in 30 days you'd lose 30 pounds. So in July 2007, we tried.

We picked 10 mountains. Every three days we would leave early in the morning and come back before the kids got up (I didn't work then). While I climbed the mountains, I wrote down everything I ate. Every single calorie.

I got to the point where I knew I had only so many calories I could consume in a day, so I started being really picky about what I ate. Did I want quality (chocolate) or quantity (cucumbers and tomatoes - they're very low in calories)?

This is a lot like writing, we have to choose what we do with our time. Choose if we'll spend it watching TV, surfing the net, exercising, spending time with our family, writing. It's all about balance. Figuring out what's the best use of our time. Sometimes sitting on the TV watching a show I enjoy at the end of a long day is what I need. We just need to choose.

That is what's next week is about. It's not about writing a lot, but choosing to spend our time wisely, even if that means not writing at all.

BTW, we only climbed 5 mountains, because my husband's knee gave out, but I did lose 15 pounds.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blogfest for Real

On Friday I had an idea for a blogfest and now I want to make it official.

Starting Monday, September 27th, you write down every minute you spend writing or editing everyday until Friday, October 1st.

On Monday, October 4th post your results, or you can keep everyone update to date daily if you'd like.

My intention was not to get people to write more, but to see how much time we actually spend and see if everyday we can increase it. Not to the point where it takes over our lives, but to the point where we feel is manageable in our lives.

Maybe it will also show where we are wasting time. Watching TV, twitter, facebook, internet, blogging (although I do think that not all time is wasted there).

Anyway Ali Cross even did an awesome icon for it, which is totally awesome.

I know some of you said count me in on Friday, but here is the official sign up.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blogfest Idea

So in responding to the comments on my last post, I got a brilliant idea. Are you ready, because it doesn't happen very often.

What if we actually kept track of how much time we spend writing. (Some of you might already do that - which is great, but I don't) I don't mean sitting in front of the computer reading blogs, checking facebook, or browsing twitter, but actual writing.

That means you would have to keep track. Write down every minute or hour you spend writing or editing. Starting on Monday, September 27 and ending on Friday, October 2. Not even a full week. Five days.

Don't be all Nanoy with it, just write normal. If you miss a day that's fine. I would like see how much time people average.

Anybody else want to join me. If so, spread the word. We'll see how much time we can log writing that week.

When I’m 64

Last weekend, me and my husband (or is it my husband and I), went to the mountains. We climbed another small mountain, hiked to the bottom of a waterfall, and went mountain biking, just your typical romantic weekend. Before we left to go back to normal life, we decided to go check out some rock climbing routes nearby.

As we walked along the road, the mountain we climbed last year loomed beside us. It's big and has a flat front (see photo). Apparently, you can rock climb up the face, and it's something my husband has always wanted to do, but he told me he never would.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I'll never be good enough. It takes time to be able to climb at that level and at 43, I'm running out of it. I'd have to go climb every weekend in the summer and go to the indoor centers in the winter. I don't have the time or the body to do that." (Sorry hubby for revealing your age)

Do you ever feel like this with writing? You'll never get a book published. There isn't enough time to hone your skills.

Between working, family, and keeping up with other responsibilities, sometimes I feel like there's not much time to write effectively or go to conferences, or take classes, or even read a book on writing. Today, I work all day (I'm writing this during my break). From work I go straight to a parent meeting with my sons volleyball team. Go home, pick up younger son take him to basketball. Go home get older son, take him to basketball. Take younger son home. Go to my soccer practice. I will get home at 10pm tonight. Now today's not totally typical, but pretty close. It's a repeat from Tuesday and yesterday I took son to volleyball right after work and got home at 8:30pm too tired to do anything. (Ranting is now done)

The good news about writng, is that unlike rock climbing or soccer or anything active, there isn't a small window of opportunity. You can write until you're 64 or later.

Really, it comes down to patience. I know, sometimes that word is like a swear word to writers, but it's true. My life will change. Kids will stop playing sports. I'll hurt my knee again and be done playing soccer. Kids will leave home and that's when I'll have so much time I won't know what to do with myself.

So just remember when you're feeling frustrated with your lack of time, you really still have lots of it. Unless you're 63.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This is the contest of all contests, and you all probably already know about it.

Signed books, ARCs and critiques.

Go to Elana's blog to see how you can win these fabulous prizes.

Also WriteOnCon is having an online chat with professionals

When: Monday, September 27. 7:00 PM EDT.
Where: WriteOnCon site.
Who: Literary agents Jessica Sinsheimer and Roseanne Wells

I'm so excited about this because I was on holidays during their WriteOnCon conference this summer.

Go check everything out and yes I do realize by telling you, I have less of a chance to win.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Aiming below

For those who are new, last September my indoor soccer team got promoted to the top division in Classsics division (which means we're over 35). We had a hard season. Lost most of our games (all but 2) and got scored on a lot. Even though we didn't finish last, I thought for sure the league would put us down a division for the 2010-2011 season, but they didn't.

So faced with another abysmal season, our team started brainstorming our options. We could face another hard season and this time finish last, we could request to go in the bottom open division, or we could quit. I'm glad to say that no one wanted to quit, but the prospect of another hard season didn't sit well with us. So me and my co-manager of the team wrote the board a letter stating their own rules and how they didn't follow them. I must say it was one of my best letters. My husband even said it was well written and that's something coming from him.

We waited a week before I finally got a call saying they were putting us back down a division. Jubilation ensued.

Part of me wonders if we should have tried more to rise to the challenge of competing in that division. Did we sell ourselves short?

Do you ever feel like that with writing? You finish a scene. You think it's good. Maybe it could be better, but you don't know how, so you leave it. Are we selling ourselves short, when we should be trying harder to reach a higher level of writing?

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another year, another mountain

For those new to my blog, my family has a goal of climbing a mountain every summer. We’ve done eight so far. They’ve ranged from moderate to difficult, but not too difficult as my youngest is only eight. For the most part they’ve taken us at least three hours to do, sometimes longer depending on the complaining.

This summer we have procrastinated our climb, which we have also done in the past, but this year the weather has not cooperated.

We went out to the mountains on Monday to our designated mountain to find the top covered in snow, so we went to plan B and discovered snow at the trail head, so we went to our plan C.

Mesa Butte is a mountain, albeit a small mountain.

It only took us an hour to go up and back and was more like climbing up a large hill.

We’ll try to do another mountain if the weather warms up, but so far it’s not looking good. So in order to keep the tradition alive, we’re counting this mountain and really it still had a great view.

Sometimes going to Plan C isn’t so bad.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Being easily offended

When I was a young woman, around fourteen, my youth group was asked to sing a song at an event. I can't even remember what for now, but I do remember the lady who taught us the song. We were at her house learning different parts, you know, alto, soprano and we came to a hard section. I tried over and over again to get it right, but finally the lady told me to just mouth the words at that part.

After that I never tried to learn to sing or do anything musical. Over the years I have regretted letting that woman have so much power over my decision. I wished I would have tried to sing better or learn to play the piano.

The same thing happened when I took a writing course, the instructor gave me an incredibly harsh critique. I'm sorry to say that I put the writing away for a while and once again gave all of the power in regards to my writing over to this lady.

I'm glad this time that I eventually persevered and have written two books, and although they aren't published, I'm definitely headed in the right direction.

So even though being critiqued on our work is a part of being a writer, don't let any critiques get you so down that you quit like I did with music. Keep on writing and learning and reading and don't give up on what you want.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Need a Geeky Name

For another project I've been thinking about I need a real good geeky girls name.

I have three and sorry if any of these are your name.


Which one exudes the most geekiness, or do you have any others?

BTW, two days into September and I haven't boughten anything new. Yeah, go me.

Also I was going to add a picture of a geeky girl and I typed in geeky girl into Google images and it came up with a bunch of girls dressed in sexy geeky costumes and Princess Leia from Return of the Jedi. Go figure.