Deep Word-Love

I’m happy to report I’m  near the end of my second novel’s first draft, so I have a few thoughts to share. Very few. This draft has eaten my brain.

Could this brain deadness be the fault of summer?  Perhaps the magnificent canopy of trees cocooning our house, the sprawl of emerald-green grass surrounding us, and the flowers –  Impatiens, valerian, clementis, petunias, lettuce – have lured me away. Nah. I just can’t concentrate.

Like other writers, I’m yearning for the early days when I began writing. What the hell happened to the intense focus, enthusiasm, and reckless confidence pouring through me with my first novel? It certainly wasn’t the best novel ever written, but it was my baby. It was like falling in love. Caribbean 2That deep Caribbean aqua word-love during which you cannot think of anything but the evolution of your characters and their world. The glow of their existence bathes you like a warm ocean on a brilliant day. Wow. There is nothing like it.

Then the second novel arrives. Premature and squalling, it struggles from birth. Where did all that languorous “I could spend my life with you, beautiful words” go?

The reasons writing flounders are as myriad as the stars, but my specific one is: time taken to write a first draft.

Stephen King says:

“Get the first draft done quickly. I believe the first draft of a book – even a long one – should take no more than three months…Any longer and – for me at least – the story begins to take on an odd foreign feel, like a dispatch from the Romanian Department of Public Affairs, or something broadcast on high-band shortwave during a period of severe sunspot activity.”radio distortion

Exactly what happened to me. I took too long with first draft and I lost focus. Period.

After you experience the deep aqua kind of love in your writing, you anticipate it the second time. But, in my experience, true love doesn’t work that way. The real thing takes work, just as the best writing you can do takes planning and discipline, serious plodding – even when the thrill is temporarily gone.

There are moments when I see my POV character and her lover waving to me from the bridge of their starship as they float away into the cosmos. I yell, “Wait, I’m not done with you yet,” to which they reply,” Tough, sh*t. We can’t wait around here forever.”

How long does your first draft take or does it matter?



Photo credit: Nick Kenrick . / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Photo credit: Topyti / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) 


File of Someday

Funny how it happens, this fixation with a scene, a line, or a word.Sunflowers3

I first noticed it when I was painting Sunflowers in Cobalt.

In the upper left corner of the painting were a few square inches of sublime perfection.The oil paint meshed with the canvas in such a smooth and graceful way, the colors blended into the beauty of a sunset, and the eye of the beholder immediately ground to a halt on this spot. Suddenly, the rest of the painting, the gorgeous vase and buttery yellow flowers were an after thought instead of the focus. Under Photoshop’s mighty microscope of save-for-web you can see where I feathered my gorgeous brush strokes away. I hated doing that, but it was necessary.

The same thing happens with writing, doesn’t it? Now that I’m working on my latest novel, I’m on the lookout for the fixation pitfall traps. In my first novel I forced myself to sacrifice a great scene, the poker game, for the sake of the plot. It was a wonderful moment between my characters with high-stakes, daring innuendos, and sexual tension. But, it just didn’t move the story along, so it had to go.

Later, I did realize one thing. There’s no reason I can’t use that concept, with its playful mayhem, in a sequel or a completely different book. So, it waits, filed under someday. My characters knew how great it was and, someday when I’m writing along, minding my own business, they’ll remind me the card game has found its niche.

(I did sell Sunflowers in Cobalt. Sometimes it pays not to get too attached).

Which one of your scenes fascinated you beyond reason? What convinced you to delete it?

Painting by Me.

A2Z Envy

As promised here’s a brief update on my writing progress.Lies-and-Legends-Time-for-w

After more stalling, I’ve returned to my languishing first draft. My muse, I’m happy to say, is lurking in the room, sending actual ideas my way. I’ve plunged my characters into danger and death, dilemmas of the heart, and plain old-fashioned chaos. They’ll need to be fearless every time they get a chance.

Word count is 37,000+.

Also, to all of you out there doing A2Z, I envy you. Time management is a problem for me, but next year I’ll start working on the challenge a month ahead.

bokeh-kiss_l      More next week.

Happy Kindle Accident

Welcome to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, brain child of Alex J. Cavanaugh. Join us at this link.

kindleMy Kindle, The Fabulous Time Waster, Decimator of Concentration, Piddler Away of Hours, and Anti-butt-in-chair device, has lost its network connectivety. Boom! Gone! No more Netflix with its sexy serial killers and drug slinging high school chemistry teachers. Of course, sooner or later I’ll have to restart my router or figure this out, but I’m not going to do that for a while.

This is a sign. Time to create.

I have written but not enough. I have searched for the illusive middle of my novel but not consistently. I have not been reading enough. I have been, you guessed it, spellbound by other people’s stuff. It is so easy to be entertained and so addictive.

All this adds up to more insecurity about writing and results in worrying and obsessing – my favorite pastime:)baby-black-hole-nasa-chandra-06-15-11

Have you had to detox yourself from the black hole of your devices? How did that work for you?

4 Good Legs

gallows humor


humor that treats serious, frightening, or painful subject matter in a light or satirical way

The last six months I’ve learned a lot about the expression gallows humor.

Honestly, I used to cringe when I heard folks joke about disability, disease, or disaster. It took me a while to understand this dubious humor was a way of whistling in the dark, of making the inconceivable manageable. (Of course, I’m not talking about sick or cruel comments.)
My dog Abbie and I are disabled. My problem is temporary, but hers is not. My current pain is intermittent, and her initial pain was incredible. I still have my leg, and hers is gone forever. blue-rng-paw-print-th
Recently, I took Abbie for a walk – for the first time since last November. My husband watched us from the window, ready to rush to our aid if necessary. When we hobbled in, he was smiling. When I asked him why, he said, “Woman with cane walks three-legged dog. Between you two, you have four good legs.”
I burst out laughing and kept laughing the rest of the night. The relief was amazing. Suddenly, my problem was moving into perspective. Finally, after months of suffering, I began to understand how lucky I am and how courageous our beautiful dog is. She sets an amazing example for everyone, and I can only attempt to emulate her good nature.
So, in spite of hardships, keep your head up, wag your tail, and lick someone’s face every time you get a chance!
How do you keep your sense of humor in tough times?
Photo by Foter
Art by Clkr

Bad Ass Writing Blunders

Creating my first novel, Learning Levitation, was a fascinating process and a hell of a lot of work.

Writing Lies and Legends will be different. Sure, unknown BABs await but, honestly, I can’t wait to get started. My new characters are knocking at the door. I have exciting things in store for them – and I know they have secrets and wonders to show me, too.

I did learn a lot,  and I’d like to share it with you in only 500 + words.

Write a synopsis first unless you want to make up the story as you go along. For a disorganized thinker like me panstering just won’t work. Because I didn’t know to write the synopsis first, I fell into the following pits of festering words:frustration-was-threesixtyfive-day-244-8_l

1. Bad Ass Blunder numero uno: Leaving major elements out of your plot. In the heat of writing things get lost. It wasn’t until my beta readers were half way through LL that I realized  I’d omitted crucial information about challenges facing the characters. So, paste the following sentence on your monitor: MY NOVEL IS ABOUT — YOU FILL IN THE REST.

2. Make a second sentence for the theme. Your novel isn’t limited to action, love story, and fascinating off world concepts. It needs a message, and if it doesn’t have one, get one.

3.  Don’t make your chapters separate files. What bonehead would do that, you ask. See me blushing? If you’re using Word, you can start and finish your book in one ginormous file. (In the old days one big file in Word would crash your computer.) This way  you always know how many words you have at any moment.

4. Which brings us to word count. Decide total count first. I’ve decided to estimate chapter word count also. Anal but necessary for me.

5. All of the steps above prevent a truly terrifying problem. I ended up with 120,000 words, too much for a first novel. I had to cut over 18,000 words. Yikes. I took out some great scenes which, btw, I will resurrect in my second novel.

6. How long is the story time span? My action took place over six months – ok for Game of Thrones but way too long for an adventure/romance novel. This time ten days max.

7. Plan your scenes carefully. Again, this may be too rigid for some writers, but precision keeps me writing.

9. If you are (like me) a careless typist, a lousy speller, and somewhat lacking in punctuation skills, proofread each chapter as you go. You’ll have to do it again when your book is completed, but this extra bit of effort will keep you from banging your head against the keyboard later. thinking-in-mirror-image

10. Spend serious time on character sketches. I knew my characters well, but my readers didn’t. My people turned out one-dimensional, and I had to tweak them until they screamed for mercy. I’m using Five pages per character, but worth the work.

Does this sound like the accumulated knowledge of a complete revision of a completed novel? It is. Thanks to Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel course, I made it!

stars-thWhat have you learned writing your novel? Are you ready to start another one?

Photos from

Writing under the Super Moon

Finally, I thought of something. My next novel? I hope so.super-moon-2012-mount-hamilton-california_l At this point, I’ll take any idea I can get.

My surly muse touched me briefly and ran like hell. In the last two days, I’ve named my two main players and character sketched them using Scrivener. No mean accomplishment for an Insecure Writer and Scrivener fumbler.

The happiest person in this scenario is my patient husband who listens to my endless rants and wails about the wax and wane of creativity. Our literary strength ebbs and flows, whether we like it or not. I’m coming to grips with that now – sort of.

fly-me-to-the-supermoon-500th-photo_lSo, in the light of the Super Moon, I tentatively begin the insane dance of writing a novel again. I’ve posted my What I Learned Writing my First Novel paragraph near the monitor,  and I’m armed with the Mistakes I Won’t Make Again list.

What’s on your second novel list?

photos from


I wish there were more letters in the alphabet. A to Z  Blogging Challenge keep me writing every day. It gave me a chance to flex my wings, and I want to keep the momentum.

So, my gentle goals for May, 2013 are as follows: the-rise-my-new-flickr-friend-camera-truth_l

1. I will blog once a week, Sunday night.

2. Nightly, I’ll continue working on first chapters for several novel ideas (just to see if anything grabs me), and I’ll be more open to panster style. Maybe a rigid outline isn’t what I need now. Luring my muse out of hiding is crucial and, if I have to give up obsessive control of my words to find him again, I’ll do it!

3. I’ll search for more firsthand information and advice from published authors. So far, two wonderful ladies, Tina and Gayle, have shared their experiences on the way to the published land. Nothing takes the place of the thoughts of those who did it. (I’ll add their last names and book titles when I get permission from these great gals.)

4. Two queries a week will leave this house, no matter what. It surprises me how difficult it is to push the button on your query letter or print out the packet for snail mail agents.  Arrgh!

5. My quest for information about the pros and cons of self-publishing continues.

6. Daily, I’ll send thoughts of thanks to my husband, Rick, my great fan, Georgie, my beta reader, and Lynette, my critique partner, for their honest, intelligent feedback.

And, I haven’t forgotten that Spring is coming, and I’ll be outside, getting dirty, planting, or just basking in the beautiful Colorado sun.

So, what are your gentle goals for May?

Photo credit: gmayster01 on & off … / / CC BY-NC-ND


Reaching the zenith of this challenge has been a great experience! Thanks to all who read my posts!

zenith-2_lI’ve learned so much about the wide, wide blog universe. It amazed me with its vast content, its unique variety, and its articulate members. It is the combined intelligence of our species, no doubt about it.

So, now what? I started this challenge wondering if I was going to continue writing. I had finished my novel, and I was sending out query letters but, during all the uproar, my faithless muse wandered away. Good news, though.  I’m still writing. And, while that bad muse of mine remains illusive, I have seen him peeking out at me during the last twenty-six posts.

Thanks for the inspiration, everyone! Will I see you next April 1st? stars-th

Photo credit: aldoaldoz / / CC BY-NC-SA

Plenum Pursuit

P – Tonight Rick came up with a p-word for the blog. (Back and forth word suggestions have become quite a game for us now. In spite of his claims to the contrary, he has a great vocabulary.) His first word was plenum. A plenum is a heating and air-conditioning term for a chamber intended to contain, in this case, air.

Funny thing about this word game. First words out of our mouths tend to be things that are really important in our lives. (So be forewarned if you play it with your family!) A plenum is part of Rick’s work, just as a keyboard or a pen is part of ours. Creativity isn’t restricted to the written word or the brush stroke. 11970909911651569759jcartier_Pencil_svg_thumbI think many people are intimidated by traditionally creative folks. But, imagination and skill isn’t unique to artists or writers. Maybe this is stating the obvious, but it’s important acknowledge the facets of talent existing all around us, talents often hidden and usually ignored. Watching my husband create a web of sheet metal ductwork for an entire house is amazing. With his fine-honed craft and training he’s warmed hundreds and hundreds of homes over the last forty-one years. No small talent.

The next time you’re watching carpenters or nurses or anyone who makes our modern lives possible, think about creativity. The world vibrates with it, and we can see it everywhere – if we choose to look.

stars-thWhat talented person in your life needs a compliment?

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