06 November 2019

The Thing I Said I Wouldn't Do...

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


Before I get to my nonsense, I think I'll start with this month's optional question, which is: 

What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

I feel like I've researched a lot of questionable things for different stories. I think I've mentioned before how I know way too much about age of consent laws, so that's definitely up there. Recently, I started some research for a story that included googling "can you break someone's hand by squeezing it" and "is strangling someone considered attempted murder?" (Turns out it's not, BTW, and the way I picture it happening in the story will only be a misdemeanor, which surprised me).  I've also got a new story idea that I know will require lots of things that will probably get me on some watch list, including bombs/explosions, computer hacking, bullet wounds, and methods of torture. Should be a fun time! 

So if you follow any of my Twitter or Instagram posts, this won't be a surprise, but remember my last blog post, where I said I came up with a new story idea? A sexy fluff idea? And I gave a very vague statement about not even considering doing NaNoWriMo for it? 

Well, PLOT TWIST! I changed my mind at the last minute, decided to write the damn thing for NaNo, and I'm already over 10,000 words in. I...don't know how this happened. Oh, right! Because I'm crazy. But! I am not insecure!

There is so much about writing this story that is so refreshing. First of all, it's a MUCH lighter story than what I'm used to writing (sexy fluff, after all). Plus, it's a first draft, so the usual pressure I put on myself to make everything perfect isn't there. If it sucks...who cares?? Just keep writing! Plus long rambling sentences and endless dialogue are welcome for NaNo since you want to get to those 50,000 words! 

And so far, I've been beating the daily word goal EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's so weird but I love it. Ok, I know I need to get back to UL and tackle Chapter 28 (the second to last chapter!) but I'm taking a break from it while I do NaNo. I thought of it this way: usually it takes me months to do a chapter rewrite. And I spend a lot of that time not doing any writing at all. So I figured, what will it hurt to take one month off, and also potentially write an entire novel in that time? 

I also got ANOTHER story idea, most likely for my potential pen name, from a dream of all places. Right now I'm calling it Sexy Fluff #2, although it involves a lot more action, whereas SF #1 is a pretty straightforward romance. I so don't need it right now because I have to finish UL of course, and then I'll have Sexy Fluff #1 to edit/rewrite once NaNo is over. It's a long line of ideas. I guess I'll just take them one at a time. 

21 October 2019

A Very Good Bad Idea

So...I got this crazy idea...

It all started when I finished Chapter 27. [Holds for applause]. Yes, finally! But I'll talk about that more another time. Once I finished the chapter, I wanted to give myself a break by writing something fun and easy. Now, I don't know if it was because of the book I just finished reading, or knowing what I have to write for the next chapter (and I need some no pressure practice), or just because this idea was in my head, I decided to write some SEXY FLUFF.

You know sexy fluff, right? Just something that's like, cute lovey dovey with a moderate amount of sex and a dash of angst. I don't read a lot of romance novels, but the ones I typically read are like this. The thing I started writing actually happens between Books 2 & 3 in my series, and no one will ever read it besides me, so I could just do whatever I want with it.

But I realized something as I was writing. The words were flowing rather easily. Now, I wasn't trying very hard to make the words perfect like I usually do, but I was writing PAGES. And so fast! I was just staring at the screen wondering, what is this sorcery??

My story ideas are usually ridiculously complicated. UL has taken me over 8 years and I'm still not done. Even Shiny New Story, while a lot lighter than UL, is still pretty complicated. Since the fluff was coming along at such a rapid pace, I wondered, am I doing this all wrong? Should I just be writing sexy fluff all the time??

That's when the idea hit. What if I *did* try writing sexy fluff? It's not my usual style, but I could totally do it. And I would have fun doing it. I even thought, hey, what if I wrote my fluff under a pen name?? Then my super complicated novels could be under my real name. And since it was a Saturday night, I was home alone, and I'd had a few cocktails...naturally I started researching romance novel tropes and brainstorming my pen name.

Half of my brain was like, I AM SO DOING THIS, while the other half said, PUMP THE BRAKES, SISTER. But I could not shake off this idea of, what if I could bust out sexy fluff novel after sexy fluff novel and ACTUALLY MAKE MONEY DOING IT?? The only downside being, for the love of God and all that is holy, I really need to finish Uneven Lines. I can't be distracted by all the shiny.

But then I thought, what if I just spent one day a week working on fluff? Or, I could use it for those times I'm feeling blocked, or just feeling depressed because the writing isn't happening. Maybe the fluff could fuel my work on UL when it's stalled (as it typically is). I even came up with an idea for a book! (Eeek!) I liked the idea of enemies to lovers, so my brain just kept thinking and thinking and suddenly I've got a full fledged plot, about a couple of former high school rivals who then become work rivals years later which naturally leads to sexytimes. And now I can't stop thinking about it *facepalm*.

I know I shouldn't do this, but part of me thinks it's a good idea. If I can find the right balance between these projects, anyway, where I'm still devoting most of my time to UL. Part of me just wants to see how fast I could bust out a fluff novel (don't NaNo @ me).

So...will I do it? I don't know. I'll probably write this first fluff story at some point, at least. But like SNS, I'm putting it on a back burner. Or, more accurately, in a glass case labeled TO BE USED IN CASE OF WRITER'S BLOCK.

BTW, I decided for my pen name I would use initials. My middle name is Anne, but for some reason I didn't want to use S.A. So I thought of S.J. (I got that exactly where you think I got it). Then I started thinking about a fake last name. First I thought of S.J. Adams, which gave me a chuckle. But then I thought of S.J. Gray, which sounds totally fake but I also like. Feel free to vote or suggest something new! Or talk me out of it!!!

07 October 2019

In the Pie of the Beholder

If you're like me (crazy), you like to sneak symbolism and themes and all that literary nonsense (that you swore writers never did on purpose when you read Lord of the Flies in sophomore year) into your books. You think it gives your story more depth, and gives the reader more to think about. Or you just worry your book would be a massive trash pile without it. Either way, is it possible to have too much symbolism? When is enough enough?

Ok, so A LOT of tiny little details in UL are totally planned. I've got symbolism, parallel lines, parallel characters. You name it, I probably have it. So when I come across something that doesn't have some sort of double meaning, I wonder if it should.

Chapter 1 ends with Jordan eating an entire pie in one sitting. I have no worries about the act itself, it really works, it has different layers and whatnot. The thing that keeps nagging at my brain is the type of pie. This is some serious literature here, right?? When the type of pie you wrote doesn't feel quite right...

Ok, so since the dawn of time, aka, when I started writing this book, the pie in question has ALWAYS been key lime. HOWEVER...I had absolutely no reason for making it a key lime pie. There is no double meaning, no symbolism. If I ever publish this book and someone asked me, "why key lime??" I wouldn't have an answer. So I wonder if I should have a more symbolic flavor of pie (words I didn't ever think I'd be saying).

I've thought of a few. There's cherry, which could totally have some sexual symbolism (I think...?). Plus red is a color I use symbolically throughout the book, so diving into a cherry pie and making a mess of it would seem more meaningful.

Then there's apple pie. My obvious thought is the whole apple/forbidden fruit idea, which would totally work in the book itself. But I also know I'm throwing in a lot of Garden of Eden themed symbols in Book 3, so this could also connect to that.

But then I also wonder...does it really matter? Should I just keep it key lime because that's what it's always been? Or because I already have enough symbolism in my book? Do I really need ANOTHER THING??? I also think eating a whole key lime pie in one sitting would be way more doable than an apple or cherry pie, but I also don't have a teenage boy's metabolism.

So what do you think? Does the pie really matter? Or am I overthinking this way too much? Or are you all just hungry now??

02 October 2019

Let Crappy First Drafts Lie

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


Well, another month has passed and where am I on my third draft progress? Err...about the same place I was last month. Ok, ok, not exactly the same place! For my last IWSG post, I said I had written 3 pages for Chapter 27. So, good news...I currently just went onto page 11! So, obviously, words are happening. Just very slowly. And we will ignore my concerns that this chapter is turning out way too long and I'll probably have to split it but that will leave me with 30 chapters and I need them to be UNEVEN, hello??? *deep breath* Yes, ignoring that for now. 

I know one of the big reasons this chapter is taking forever is the fact that I don't often make myself just sit there and write it. Especially on a work day, I just kinda want to sit there watching TV and go to bed early. But another problem is that when I actually do sit down to write, I find it very difficult to actually get the words out. I know it's because I want those words to be perfect, and sometimes it's just hard to make it that way. Probably the worst thing I do is that I won't even write a sentence down until it's perfect in my head. So when perfection isn't happening, words aren't happening, either. 

But I think something kinda clicked. At one point while working on 27, I said to myself, "UGH. This feels so first drafty." Then I realized...well, it basically IS a first draft. While I'm working on the third draft of the novel as a whole, almost everything I've written past Chapter 19 has been brand spankin' new. Not rewritten, like everything before it, but completely new stuff that never even happened in the first two drafts. So the words I'm writing right now are essentially a first draft. And can you make a first draft perfect? HELL NO!

It's difficult to part with that idea of finishing this draft and basically having it ready to go, but I think if I keep clinging to it, I'll never even get to the end. I just have to put the words down and if they're kinda crappy, just let it be. I can always go back and fix it. I just have to look at everything before Chapter 19 to see how great things can turn out if you just keep working at it. But you can't fix what isn't there. And trying to make it perfect before it's written will just lead to a whole lot more waiting. 

So I'm plowing through this chapter. Even if I think some moments are illogical. If I think two characters should have gone deeper with a certain conversation but can't quite figure that out right now. If some moments were too drawn out, but others were rushed. I may not know how to fix certain things, but I'll at least know what needs to be fixed. And maybe some time and distance will make the figuring out much easier.

23 September 2019

Think, Think, Think

Being a writer means you spend a lot of time thinking. That kind of goes without saying. The stories and all the words that go into them come straight from our brains. Sometimes you're lucky enough to have the ideas and words flow so fast and easily that it doesn't feel like you're thinking much at all. Other times, it's not so easy. Sometimes, you have to do a whole lot of thinking. 


That's pretty much where I am right now. Ok, I still haven't finished Chapter 27 yet, but I'm chipping away at it. The major thinking I need to do there is just find the right words. I already know every scene and event that needs to happen. But once I get done with this chapter, that's when things will get tricky. 

I'm in this weird predicament where I do know what needs to happen, but at the same time, I feel like I don't. I haven't quite figured out how to get my characters there to make it a satisfying ending. And I know I can't draw out the story any longer, either, because it will start to get boring and lose the momentum of the last few chapters. The end is so close, and yet still feels so far away. 

So what's my strategy to figure it all out? Think. A lot. 

Maybe thinking about something in order to figure it out is a bit obvious. But it feels like the only thing I can do. I want to spend as much time as possible just considering everything. I think one of my problems with the ending is that I have always pictured it the same way. For years. So I'm trying to get out of that corner, start going about it a different way. It helps that the events leading up to it are a lot different than previous drafts. I've already come up with a few little tweaks that I never would have even considered when writing the first draft, so I think it helps to keep an open mind. 

I just feel like the ending is missing something. Some type of punch-the-reader-in-the-face type moment. There is going to be a bit of a reveal because my MC has been hiding things even from the reader, but that part still doesn't feel like it's quite strong enough to me. There needs to be something else. Maybe he realizes something about himself that he never considered. Maybe both characters are finally confronted not only with the lies they tell each other, but the ones they tell themselves. 

I think I'm slowly getting there. I try to indulge every thought that crosses my mind, see where it takes me. Even if it doesn't work out, at least I've ruled something out, and who knows? Maybe a bad idea could trigger a good one. You never know what you could figure out if just let the thoughts flow.

16 September 2019

Doing More Stuff

Do not attempt to adjust your screens! I am really writing a non-IWSG post! For the first time in...exactly a year! Yup, September 17 of last year was the last time I wrote a regular blog post. Not the same date, but the exact same Monday. That's actually just a weird coincidence, because this blog post wasn't even a thought in my head until yesterday afternoon. Well, because I've been doing a bit of thinking...

I realized I don't really do enough stuff. Writing, you say? Well, yes, but you already knew that. But, I mean, online stuff. Blogging and networking and such. I have my toes in the water but I feel like I've fizzled out. I used to blog three times a week! Well, I don't think I had a job when I did that. But like I said above, my only posts are for IWSG. But blogging isn't the only thing. So I'm trying to come up with some ideas to get me out there more, doing more stuff! And maybe the stuff will fuel the writing, and vice versa.

1. Blogging

Obviously! Or this post wouldn't exist. I'd really like to get back to posting something every Monday. I think I've stopped not only because of motivation, but because I don't feel like I have any good ideas to write about. But I want to start paying attention to any thought that pops in my head. If I think it'll make for a halfway decent post, I will write it immediately!

I also don't visit other blogs enough. Like writing my own posts, I only visit others on IWSG day. I usually feel out of the loop with other bloggers' news, blog tours, book releases, etc. I have no idea what's going on! And if I can hop on some blog tours, that covers writing my own posts, too! Two birds, one stone, people.

I could also possibly let Jordan write his monthly posts again?? That would be fun. I may change when they happen, since I found whenever the first Monday of the month was the same week as the first Wednesday (IWSG day), I got less traffic, which was disheartening. Maybe the last Monday of the month? There could be overlap there but I think it happens less often. I'll figure it out. Now I just have to wake up Jordan and convince him to do it...

2. Twitter/Instagram 

Twitter drives me nuts sometimes because I have about 2,800 followers but I feel like I get hardly any interactions. So I think two main things need to happen--I need to tweet more, especially writing related stuff, and I need to interact more with others' tweets. Hopefully if I just keep putting myself out there more, it'll start to come back.

Instagram is a little more tricky, because I feel like I don't have a lot of things to post. I can only post so many pictures of my cat, right? So maybe with this, I need to do some more research first about what other writers tend to post, and start figuring out what I can do. For now, I'll just continue with the cat.

Ok, I thought I had more major things but maybe that's it? Of course, those aren't the only things I want to accomplish...

Frightening tasks that I may or may not attempt in a more distant future:

- writing book reviews and posting them on Amazon and Goodreads
- trying to get some of my poetry published/write more poems
- try to write a short story or two (yeah right, they'll just turn into more novels)
- figure out the whole Goodreads Author thing. It looks tricky. Especially since I've only been published in anthologies.
- find more anthologies/contests to submit to
- set up an Amazon author page (I've been putting this off forever)
- updating my LinkedIn page and trying to get some actual writing jobs!!

Since blogging is one of my major goals, and this blog post is now DONE, I guess I'm off to a good start? But I should probably get back to actual writing now...

04 September 2019

I'll Figure It Out Eventually

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


What am I insecure about this month? Well, probably the fact that I haven't been doing much writing. At all. For those of you keeping score at home, I'm still on Chapter 27. I don't know what is so difficult about it. It's not really difficult at all. I know exactly what needs to happen. I even made an outline for it! And I'm a die-hard pantser, so you can imagine how difficult that was for me. It's just, for some reason, actually sitting down and making myself write just isn't happening. 

I guess I can't be too hard on myself because I have *occasionally* gotten some words down. I've got 3 pages done on Chapter 27, which is something, at least, but I don't feel like I've gotten very far with it. I think it's going to be a very long chapter. I'll get through one chunk of it and then get stuck, and just stay stuck for days. 

I've been working on Shiny New Story a bit as well, which I swear will get a title someday, especially since it's not really new anymore, but is still very shiny. Sometimes I like to dive into that when I'm feeling blocked, to try and get the creative juices flowing a bit. It helps to work on something that's a first draft and I don't have to think so much about getting all the words perfect. I just wish it would lead me back to my main project. 

Something I'm not insecure about? The aha moments! One of my favorite things about writing is figuring things out. When you have a problem that you can't see your way out of and eventually it comes to you. I was working on Shiny's first chapter and I was trying to create this suspense between my two main characters, like you think they're just friends and there's a reveal where you realize they're actually a couple (which is probably silly because the blurb would totally give that away, but I digress...). My problem was that I was starting the chapter with the characters not seeing each other for a week. Wouldn't they immediately run into each other's arms and start smooching? That sort of killed my suspense. But since the scene took place on a farm, I had one character working on something, and figured out...his hands could be dirty! The character has to wash up first, which gives time for the two characters to talk before anything romantic happens. It was such a simple idea but I think it really made the scene work the way I wanted. 

I love those moments because it makes me think I'll always be able to figure things out eventually, no matter how impossible they may seem. I just would like that to be sooner rather than later when it comes to the rest of Uneven Lines. Please?? I'm talking to you, brain. 

Here's some really good news! I'm on vacation starting this Friday for a week and a half. Another vacation?? you're probably asking. Yeah, I took a lot of time off this year because I always have way too many hours accumulated by the end of the year. But anyway, that is lots and lots and lots of writing time! I'm hoping it'll be like my boot camp for Chapter 26 back in June, where I just spent all day every day (mostly) working on it. Maybe I could even...dare I say...finish the whole third draft? No way, right???

07 August 2019

Full of Surprises

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


I'm on vacation from work so that means I can visit many many blogs today at a reasonable hour. It also means I'm going to actually try to get some writing done. I mean, yesterday was my lazy recovery day and today is blogging day, so...


I'm still working on Chapter 27. Actually, I haven't been working on it much at all. I don't know the exact reason. I just haven't felt like it. Maybe writing Chapter 26 took a lot out of me, but I think it's been way too long for that to still be an excuse. I guess I'm just having a motivation problem. I know everything that needs to happen in this chapter, so it's not like I have anything to figure out. I just have to actually make with the words.

Well, since I'm not at work this week, I can't use being tired as an excuse. Bring on the words!

Onto this month's optional question: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

Uhh, literally everything? Seriously, go tell my teenage self about the story I'm writing. She'll think you're crazy, and she'll wonder where the vampires are.

Sometimes I'm surprised by random lines, like there's no way I could have come up with them on my own (because Jordan is writing the book, not me, duh). There's one in particular that always comes to mind, but it involves a bad word. Well, ok. I took "whatever floats your boat" but replaced "boat" with a male body part. One of the many lines that I didn't write. And yes, I know that makes it not rhyme anymore. It still works, trust me.

My biggest surprise is actually my entire idea for Book 3. It involves something that I swore would never happen. I'm so secretive about it, which I know is silly since I haven't even published Book 1, but I am keeping this concept locked up in my brain. I did tell my husband, but he probably forgot. When I first got the idea, I thought, wait, this wasn't supposed to happen. But the more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with the idea.

So if I ever finish this book, maybe someday I'll get to that surprise book idea.

03 July 2019

Country Music, Chest Hair, & Cupcakes

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


Someone please tell me how it's July already! And how I'm still not done with this book! I am making progress, though. I finished Chapter 26! I had a staycation at the beginning of June and spent every single day (mostly) working on it all day long (mostly). Boy was it difficult! I had two super intense scenes in the same chapter because that's the kind of masochist I am. But it's done! And it's not terrible! I think? It has some killer lines. I think it has the most important line in the book. And I gave it to Jordan's mom of all people! She doesn't deserve it! She's terrible! Oh well...

So I'm winding down with this book. Too bad the ending is the hardest part to write. I'm trying not to force it, just let the ideas come to me in their own time. I know everything that has to happen in Chapter 27 so once I actually sit down and WORK ON IT it'll get done pretty quickly. I wish I could be on vacation all the time (you know, as long as I was getting paid). I think I will end up having 29 chapters. I wanted to push it to 30 to have a nice even number, but as my husband pointed out to me, the word UNEVEN is in the damn title of the book *facepalm*. Plus 29 feels like such an uncomfortable number to me. It's perfect! 

Anyhoo, moving on to this month's optional question: What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

Oh! This is a fun one! So I pretty much have nothing in common with Jordan. Maybe that's why I like writing him so much. We really are polar opposites. But in a book where pretty much everything has some sort of hidden or symbolic meaning, I've found that Jordan has a few random dislikes just because they're things I dislike, like country music and chest hair. I just don't like these things. I couldn't force Jordan to like them. I'm sure there are other things that I dislike that Jordan could like or dislike, but these were the only ones that came up in the story. 

My second most important character, Tom, bakes a lot, which is definitely something I like to do. This may be a chicken and egg situation, though. I did take a cake decorating course when I was 13 so I've always been interested in baking, but my signature nowadays is definitely cupcakes. But I only got obsessed with making cupcakes after writing about a cupcake that Tom brings Jordan in Chapter 3. So being obsessed with cupcakes is just because I'm obsessed with my own book...

One of the things I would love for someone to ask me if this book is ever published and anyone actually reads it, is "are you more like Jordan or Tom?" To which I would say, "lol I'm Eric." Eric is Jordan's best friend and is a shy nervous wreck. I don't think I'm exactly like him, but I'm definitely most like him. Another thing I think we have in common is being really passionate about something (for Eric, it's music) but being terrified to share it with the world or even people we know. 

Oddly enough, it's Jordan who gets Eric out of his shell and showing off his talent. Hopefully he'll do the same for me. You know...if we can FINISH THE BOOK! He's a good friend (when he wants to be) but he's a terrible muse. Don't tell him I said that...

05 June 2019

Feeling Out an Ending

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


This month, I'm also a co-host (what what!). I haven't done it in so long and it's so much easier than it used to be! But I'm psychotic and since I don't have work today I want to visit as many blogs on the list as I can! Be sure to check out the other co-hosts: Diane BurtonKim LajevardiSylvia NeyJennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte

This months optional question is: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

Well, ever since Jordan sunk his claws in me (sorry not sorry), all of my other story ideas have also been LGBT. Although it hasn't been a lot of ideas, honestly (Shiny New Story and Shiny New Story: Fantasy Edition are pretty much it). Jordan hogs all of the attention. I've always gotten more attached to a character or a particular story idea than a genre. And it usually takes me a loooooooooooong time to finish! Don't ask about the fantasy novel I started when I was 14, rewrote twice, worked on several sequels & prequels, and then gave up on.

Jordan wants me to say that HE is my favorite genre ever. He's not wrong.

Anyhoo, moving on...

I am slowly, slowly chipping away at Chapter 26. It's ok that it's taking a while, really, because it's a very complicated chapter. I think even after I finish it, I'll have to give it some time and go back through it again. Maybe after the whole book is done. But since this is basically a brand new scene, I don't really expect to get it perfectly polished like I've done with the earlier chapters in the book. 

Well, once 26 is done, I know exactly what happens next in the story. Woohoo! I'm wrapping up my second subplot in Chapter 27. It may run into 28 as well. I'll see when I get there how long it is and if it needs to be broken up. So then all that's left to do is to end the main plot! 

Oh, if only that were easy. I've always known the ending to my book, and I feel like it's the right ending to the story, but I think I have a hard time explaining *why* it's the right ending. I mean, it's not exactly an ending that readers would want. I don't think that makes for a bad ending, though. As long as it feels right for the story, it should work, even if it's disappointing. Right? Maybe disappointing isn't the right word. I think it's a realistic ending. 

Basically, I can think of two ideal outcomes for my characters' relationship, being either they break if off before something extreme happens, or they stay together forever. I find the first idea boring, and the second one very unrealistic. The ending that actually happens isn't something I can see anyone rooting for, but I think it feels right for these characters. But I also worry if the ending I chose is predictable. There are a few mini twists here and there leading up to it, but I don't think anyone will be extremely surprised that it turns out this way. 

I don't know, maybe it all depends on how good of a job I do writing it. If it feels right, and I can pull it off in the right way, then ultimately it'll be the right ending. 

Oh, well, I guess I will cross that bridge when I come to it. I've still got a little ways to go. I think finishing this book will feel super weird, actually, since I've been working on it FOREVER. I won't know what to do with myself. 

How do you know when an ending is right? 

01 May 2019

Character Motivations

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


Hey, did you know that writing a novel can be super complicated? Crazy, right?? 

For those of you keeping score at home, I did finish Chapter 25 (including the music playing scene I was struggling with! I think it came out pretty amusing). Now onto Chapter 26, which can only be described as a DOOZY. Basically, I'm wrapping up a subplot with a big fight scene (verbal, not physical), immediately followed by something HUGE in the main plot. And since it takes place back to back on the same night, I'll want to keep it in the same chapter (unless it feels like it's going to be 20 pages long or something).

But while it's pretty heavy on the surface, there is also A LOT going on underneath. Since I write in first person, it's easy to convey what my main character is thinking, as well as what he's actually saying. Which is good in this particular chapter, the first half of which is a big fight with his mother, because he can't actually say the real reason that he's angry with her, because it would give away a huge secret. He shows his real anger but basically has to create a cover story for having it.

Seems complicated enough, right? But that's not actually what I'm struggling with. The trickier part is figuring out what's going on with the other character, Jordan's mom. I think she's an interesting character because while most of the time she seems terrible, she does have her motherly moments. So the thing I need to figure out is her motivation in this scene. Basically, she did a thing that really really upsets Jordan. But the bigger question is why did she do it? It seems like she's trying to punish Jordan, but is that because it's the right thing to do as a mom, or because she's actually trying to hurt him (did I mention her terribleness?)?

Phew. Ok. I know I'm super vague about this, but the main point is that character motivations can be hella complicated. Especially when you aren't in that character's head. Sometimes you have to take a moment to actually jump into their head and figure out what's going on in there. I can't really guess at her motivation to make this scene work, even if Jordan is guessing the whole time. I have to know, even if that means also creating his mom's ENTIRE BACKSTORY (that I totally thought I didn't need to figure out until Book 2. Darn.). Because some of her motivations go back to when he was born.

I think it's even more complicated, because the more I think about it, the more I realize the answer to what her motivations are is that it's both things. On some level, she does hate Jordan, she wants to hurt him simply for existing. But there's also some motherly instinct in there, too. I think the biggest part of this scene is getting her to admit the worst part of her motivation. That is what's going to hurt the most and make Jordan run off and lead to the next HUGE SCENE which I will not be telling you about. *insert evil laugh*

I don't know if any of that made any sense at all since I'm the only person who knows what's going on in my book. But basically, character motivations can be tricky. But they can also be complex. Sometimes a character may not even understand why they're doing something, or they just don't want to admit it to themselves.

Do you like complex characters? Can a character have conflicting motivations?

03 April 2019

Can This Book Write Itself Already??

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


Here we are again! I think I've gotten into the habit of checking in with these posts on where I am with my third draft of Uneven Lines. Last month I was on Chapter 24. Things went a little differently  than I expected because I was creating a GIANT subplot chapter, which I wasn't really comfortable with. I only have a few super long chapters in the book and they're really only that way because they take place over the course of one day. I decided to break up this chapter by scenes.

So, suddenly Chapter 24 was magically done! And I'm almost done with 25. I literally just have one snippet of a scene to finish. I think I'm struggling with it because it involves my characters playing music, which I always find very awkward . But, you know, my characters decided to be musicians, what can I do? Luckily there isn't a lot of it in this book and I don't really have to worry about it until the sequels. But for those I'll probably have to write some original song lyrics and holy crap I am not looking forward to that.

I think I have an idea of at least some dialogue to finish this scene. Basically, Jordan has a new friend Madison over (they're plotting a master scheme, as one does), and knowing his friend Eric has a crush on her, tells him to bring his guitar over and they play a few songs (possibly some horribly cliched ones). And then it goes something like this:

Madison: Can't you play something from this decade?
Eric: If you don't like The Beatles, you're not human.
Jordan: True, but I'm more of a Stones guy.
Eric: You know, I could tell that about you.
Madison: CAN'T I JUST LIKE TAYLOR SWIFT??
Jordan: .....
Eric: ......
Jordan: I also like Taylor Swift...

Or something like that? I dunno, I'll figure it out. I always do. Even if it takes me days. Or weeks. Or months. Or years. I'm not even kidding, sadly...

Anyhoo, the IWSG's optional question for this month is: If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)

You mean besides the aforementioned scene? Can I pick the whole rest of the book? It's not a lot, actually. No, wait! I pick the sex scene. I've already written that like three different times and I'm still convinced I'll never get it right. But I think maybe I can't picture it properly because I'm making so many changes to the end that I'm just not there yet. I have to get there before I can see it.

If I could wish the rest of this book done, I definitely would. Especially the parts I don't have figured out AT ALL. I'm definitely not an outliner, but this is basically what I have left after I finish 25:

- Wrap up Subplot #1
- MAJOR MAIN PLOT EVENT
- something something
- Wrap up Subplot #2
- something something
- something
- SEX SCENE
- Last chapter/denouement type deal

Yeah, wishing for all those something somethings to write themselves. And the sex scene. And the last bit. Because I think the very very end of the book kind of has to point to what exactly I was trying to say through the whole novel. And I feel like I got it horribly wrong in all my previous drafts. I *think* I'm still keeping the last two lines intact, and those should help me figure it out because I've always felt like they say a lot.

I think all I can do at this point is take it one step at a time. So I should probably get back to that music playing scene...

06 March 2019

Random Editing

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I'm really quite terrible keeping up with blogging lately. I've only done IWSG posts for months. I don't know, I think partly it's a motivation thing, or it's an idea thing (or lack thereof, I should say). I don't want to stop blogging but I don't feel that drive to do it like I used to. It could just be that I want to focus on my book and can't give my attention back to blogging until it's done. That sounds like the best reason, right? I'll go with that.

This month's optional question is: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

This is actually a tricky question for me! Not because it's hard to choose, but because I don't really give myself a choice. I always write in first person, so I'm always writing from the point of view of the protagonist. And it's been quite a long time since I've written a story with a typical villain, too. So I guess I choose the protagonist because that's the character whose head I want to be in, because it's his/her story to tell. I'm sure writing villains is fun, but I just haven't come up with a story where I needed to write from that perspective.

On the other hand, Jordan is a bit of an antihero, I suppose, so maybe I get the best of both worlds. Or maybe I just like really flawed characters...

Every month I feel like I make just a little bit more progress to update on. Last month I was on Chapter 23 and this month I'm on...Chapter 24! I'm actually more than halfway through it, so it may even be done by the time you read this post (fingers crossed!).

I've recently realized that while I'm working a lot on the book and trying to finish it, what I'm really doing is revising. I've been calling it editing this whole time but I'm a big fat liar because I'M GOING TO HAVE TO GO BACK AND EDIT THIS THING WHEN I'M DONE. Ok, ok, it's not a HUGE project like this whole third draft has been. But I still need to go through and edit my overused words and whatnot. And let's not forget SHOW DON'T TELL. I have mixed feelings about that rule. Ok, so, Jordan thinks A LOT and over-analyzes everything, so yeah, there's a lot of telling. But I do need to make sure the spots that NEED to be showing are actually doing so.

But what I have been doing to kind of keep the daunting task of editing from being too scary is keeping track of the little things I think of along the way to go back and change. The random or weird things. The things I think back on wondering why the hell I did that.

So, of course, I've started a list! Which is equal parts useful and ridiculous. Hopefully some of these will make sense out of context, or at least be good for a chuckle:

Random Things to Edit

  • Find another word for “gorgeous” to describe Tom in Chapter One. We all know that’s Jordan’s word. 
  • Are we really supposed to believe that Tom whisks egg whites by hand for the soufflĂ© but then busts out a hand mixer to make cookies??
  • I think the “tell me you'd rather have just my lips” line in Chapter 22 would be more powerful if Tom just came out with it instead of Jordan asking it - shows desperation
  • Make sure Eric calls Jordan by his first name at least once and never by his last name
  • The “I think it’s just two” line in Chapter 7 is probably a hitting-the-reader-over-the-head-with-a-cast-iron-skillet kind of moment 
  • Possibly add more math stuff and also more cannibalistic undertones
  • Be consistent with Jordan's present tense thoughts--italicized or no? I’d rather have them not italicized even if that’s an editor’s nightmare but either way, make sure it’s consistent 
  • Make sure Brian's name is never typed as Brain...especially because he doesn't have one...

And that's it *so far*. I'm sure other ideas will hit me in the head as I go back through the story. That's after I finish the third draft. Which I'm still working on. And should probably get back to...

06 February 2019

Cookies and Cupcakes and Cake! Oh My!

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Well, another month has gone by and....well, I actually haven't accomplished that much. Last month I was on Chapter 22 of my third draft and this month I'm on (drum roll please).....Chapter 23! Woooo...hoo? At least it's something, right? A few weeks ago I thought I'd finished 23 but decided it needed one more scene to break up all my subplot nonsense. Since this was a brand new scene that I had no idea what to do with when I started, I'm still working on figuring it out.

But since that's pretty much all I've got going on with writing insecurities, I thought I'd tackle the IWSG's option question this month, which is: Besides writing what other creative outlets do you have?

Writing has always been my thing since I was little, and while I have attempted other outlets throughout my life (there was that guitar I bought but never learned to play), the thing that pops into my mind is BAKING!

I've always liked baking. I took a cake decorating class when I was thirteen, so you'll never ever see me slapping frosting on a cupcake with a butter knife. I like to try new things and pretty much any time my family gets together my niece expects me to bring something (but she doesn't like cheesecake! I can't even...).

But I won't bore you with the details. Here's some pictures to get you drooling instead!

There are cookies...



Brownies...



Cake...


And my specialty...CUPCAKES!




There are a lot of baked goods in Uneven Lines, too, so I guess I merged my creative outlets! Those pink cupcakes where actually inspired by a scene. There's also a scene where one character makes chocolate souffle, which I've never tried (just watched several Youtube videos about making them). I'll let my characters be more adventurous. 

02 January 2019

To Pitch or Not to Pitch?

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It's a new year and I've decided for once to not make any concrete goals. It never goes well. I did, however, finally accomplish my goal of watching 100 movies I've never seen before (see the list here) in 2018. For books I made it to 68/100, which is the closest I've ever gotten. I won't be trying it again this year, but I definitely want to accomplish it someday.

But onto the new year! One of the first things I wanted to do was take part in the IWSG's Twitter Pitch on January 15. Like, I took the day off from work and everything (I'm about to max out on my PTO hours so it was a good excuse to take a day), and I've always wanted to do it. But I don't know if I'll actually be ready in time.

So I've come up with a few questions to ask myself in the next two weeks in order to decide if I should pitch or not, starting with:

Did I finish the book?

Kind of the most important one. As of writing this post, I'm working on Chapter 22 of the third draft. I think there will be 26 or 27 chapters when I finally finish. If I can really motivate myself and not slack off watching too much TV or something, I think it's possible to finish in time. But honestly, if I'm only one or two chapters away from finishing, I may pitch anyway (please tell me if this is a horrible idea). Only time will tell.

Can I pick an age group?

I know I've talked about this many times before, but I still haven't quite figured it out. Genre is easier because I'd go with contemporary. But age group? Errrrrrr still deciding. I've always leaned toward Adult, even though my main character is 15, because it's not exactly a book I would want younger readers reading. But it could also be New Adult? Maybe? In my two sequel ideas my MC is 20 and 22. Those ideas feel more like NA.

Remember when I said this book is unsellable??? *sigh*

Can I actually sum up my book in a tweet?

This is a tricky one because I have a serious problem summarizing my book, particularly in a way to make it sound appealing. Remind me to never ever write about a taboo relationship ever again please. I know a lot of people in Twitter pitch parties use comp titles as well, and I don't have any of those, at least not contemporary ones. I've always called it Lolita meets the Catcher in the Rye, but am I allowed to do that? Those books are old and very good. Kinda feels pretentious. I have no idea.

Can I write a query letter?

On the off chance that one of my tweets gets liked by an agent or publisher, hey guess what the next step is??? And I do not have a query letter ready. I've tried writing one before and it did not go well (let's not talk about that again...). And if I'm spending all this time trying just to finish the novel, I probably won't get a query letter done in time as well. I try to justify this to myself by saying I could spend the next day or two AFTER the Twitter pitch doing this, but that probably won't go well for me.

And that's about it. I feel like the odds are against me! But I guess I'll just keep chugging along trying to finish the book and figure everything else out.

Are you participating in #IWSGpit? Am I completely insane???