24 May 2017

BEES! (Or, Stupid or Symbolic?)

I hate hate hate all my characters they're terrible they're always doing things that make no sense.

*heavy sigh*

I'm sure I'm not the only writer who's gotten a weird idea during the early stages of a novel. One of the things you should figure out before you start writing are character traits. You'll probably decide on what the character looks like, their hobbies, family members, job, etc. But what details actually should go in the story? And why?

This is what I'm dealing with. The good thing about working on Book 3 while still not even being done with Book 1 is that I have a lot of time to iron out all the kinks. I may get an idea for 3 and I can spend a lot of time figuring out if it'll work or not. But sometimes I get hit with an idea, and I don't know if it's any good. I don't know if it serves a purpose.

So a lot of my brainstorming comes from running endless conversations in my head. I just have my characters talk and talk and talk and if they actually say something good, I write it down. I was picturing two characters on a date and trying to get into some deep conversation (one was very reluctant--GUESS WHO). But then the other character had an interesting response to a question about fears:

          “What are you afraid of?”
          “You mean besides this conversation? Commitment, probably.”
          “That’s not exactly a secret.”
          “Why, what are you afraid of?”



At first I was like, huh? Then I just thought it was kinda funny and cute. One character talks about being afraid of commitment, then the other says bees. It was good for a chuckle. But then I started thinking about it. Why bees???

I sort of went with the thought process, and thought, well, maybe he's afraid of bees because he's allergic to them. That's a good reason, right? Ok, but why exactly is this important to the story? Is it just something to make him seem vulnerable? Will bees ever show up in the story? Does it somehow parallel the fact that another character puts honey in his tea?

I have no freaking clue. I'm at that weird limbo phase where I'm trying to decide if I should run with it and figure it out, or just cut the idea completely. I can't remember ever reading about a character with an allergy, so I'm not sure what exactly it should be doing for the story. But I think that everything in a story should have a purpose, right? If I mention a bee allergy, don't I have to sting him by the end of the novel? (CHEKHOV'S BEES???) Or can it be something more symbolic?

I guess I'll just put the bees on my to-figure-out list.

Ever had an idea and weren't sure if it would work? Know any characters with an allergy?

22 May 2017


So it's Monday which means I'm back to work (say it isn't so!) and the staycation is over. I thought I'd check in with what I accomplished (or didn't accomplish...). My initial goal was to get 11 chapter edits done for Uneven Lines and get to the last 3rd of the book where I'll start completely rewriting.

Did that happen? Of course not. Who do you think you're dealing with here? I don't always make goals, but when I do, they're ridiculous and unobtainable. That doesn't mean I got nothing done, either. I got....some stuff done. Which I'll take as a win because I don't usually get any writing done on days I work.

Editing is not easy, either. You have to figure out what's wrong with the words in front of you and find ways to make it better. Sometimes a scene or a chapter took a lot longer than I thought it would to get through. But the awesome thing is that when I do figure something out, I instantly know when it's the right choice for the book. I think I've just been with this story for so long, I know exactly what it needs. Eventually, of course.

One great thing about working on editing so much is that I got so many blog post ideas! Which I will be utilizing in the coming weeks.

Another thing I had to this past week was finish up the blog tour for the Hero Lost anthology. Before we started, I volunteered to organize the whole thing and do all the communication and setting up the posts. I think this was equal parts wanting to help and really, just being a control freak. I think if you've got too many people working on the same thing, it can get confusing and go very slowly. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know! It was definitely a lot of hard work reaching out to everyone and getting everything we needed. Some people were instantly cooperative and others just completely ignored me for some reason. Oh well! I could write more on it but I think that would be in bad taste. I'm just going to let go and thank the universe that it's over, because I'm exhausted. I'm swimming in interview questions and links and HTML code. The last post is on Wednesday and it's already sent out so YAY!

So, without any further psychotic rambling, drum roll please...


Chapters Edited: 3
So, not 11. But still probably way more than I would have gotten done if I was working. Got through Chapters 8, 9, and 10.
New Words Written for UL: 1,893
The three chapters I edited initially had 6,698 words altogether, and now have 8,478. So that means I'm adding a lot as I edit/rewrite, and considering all of my "more" notes, that's a good thing! I also just wrote a random 113 word snippet for waaaaaaaaay later in the book (hooray for ideas!).
Other New Words Written: 3,031
Literally all in Book 3. Most of it at the very very end of the book (I make so much sense!). Also some of an epilogue that I probably won't even use.
Days Spent Complaining About How Hot it Was: 2 
It was in the freaking 90s and we don't have an air conditioner (yet) so there.

Gizmo spent the hot days on the floor where it was cooler :(
New Blog Post Ideas: 6 
Emails Sent: 16 (Honestly, I thought it was more)
Blog Tours Finished: 1 (wooooooohoooooooooooo)

17 May 2017

I'm Writing the Wrong Book!

So I'm on day three of my staycation. Which means I still have four more after today. I feel like I'm not being as productive as I wanted to be, but I guess being lazy for a couple days is to be expected. Sometimes you just need to wind down when you get a break from work.

But that doesn't mean I'm not getting any writing done. Because I am. I finished the edit of Chapter 8 last night. I can't really call that too much of a victory because it's probably the easiest chapter in the whole book to edit. But progress is progress, right?

Well...some progress can be distracting. I have been getting some work done. A decent amount, actually. Not ridiculous, but not minuscule, either. The only problem is that it's not UL I'm working on. It's the still and probably forever unnamed Book 3.

I just can't help myself, really. I went to a friend's wedding on Saturday and I got this idea for a scene at a wedding and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I just had to get the idea down before it disappeared. On Monday night I wrote almost three pages of this scene. It's a bit heartbreaking and I absolutely love it.

So you'd think I'd stop after the scene was done, right? Haha, WRONG. I kept going. I've written a few tidbits for the last chapter of this book before, and I just kept going with it for a bit. But it's not my fault! Sometimes I get slammed with inspiration at the worst times--like when I'm trying to sleep. Like yesterday morning when this little gem popped into my brain:

Notice the 5:00 AM, please. Yes, on my vacation. When I should be sleeping. And do you think I come up with these psychotic lines on my own? Because I don't. They just pop randomly into my head out of nowhere. My muse is real, people. And he's a jerk.

I feel like I can't ignore the inspiration just because it's not the book I want or should be working on. So I should be working on the first book but I can't stop thoughts from the last chapter of the last book (when I haven't even written most of THAT book, either). It doesn't make any sense!

I should ignore it, right? Or maybe create some kind of reward system. Like, finish editing a chapter, let myself write nonsense for a half hour. Something like that. I really don't think the staycation goal of ELEVEN CHAPTER EDITS is going to happen at this point. And I know I should be glad to spend every day writing, which I am. But I really want to get this novel done--the first one. So badly. It's just going so slowly. Distractions don't help! I mean, at least I'm not getting distracted by a different series and different characters (I see you waiting patiently, Shiny New Story), but still.

I just can't help it. Sometimes I have to write what's in my head. Even if it's the wrong book.

15 May 2017

Why I Write from Male Perspectives

I'm continuing with the random ideas that pop in my head because of my short story, "The Last Dragon," in the brand spankin' new IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. But today's topic isn't just about that story. It's about a lot of my stories, at least the ones I've been writing for the past few years. Because they have something in common:

Male protagonists. It seems that every story I come up with is told from a male POV. The fact that these protagonists are also the narrators of their stories probably has more to do with me being more comfortable with first person. It just feels more personal to me; I can dive in more with the characters and really tell what they're experiencing and feeling.

But why the male POVs? Because I'm a girl, some people may think it's weird. They may even think the story is told by a female character until they get some kind of clue that it's not (which I try to do as soon as possible). But first, I think we have to go back in time.

I've come up with a lot of story ideas since I first started writing, but I haven't necessarily committed to writing all of them. One story idea in particular stands out from my earlier writing, though, and that was from a female POV. It was a YA fantasy, with a bit of a Twilight feel, but before Twilight was even a thing (so clearly I was ahead of my time...). I wrote it three times. I really was committed to it. I thought it was my book. But I was 14 when I started. Not everyone is a perfect writer when they're 14. Eventually I abandoned the book. Maybe I'll come back to it someday, maybe not.

But do I think I only wrote a book from a girl's POV because I was supposed to? Because that would be expected? I'm not so sure. I don't think it would have occurred to me at 14 to write as a different gender. I just wasn't experienced enough as a writer to tackle something like that. And I've always believed that my characters speak to me. The protagonist for this story was named Amber, and this was her story. It couldn't be told from someone else's POV. I did have prequel and sequel ideas, some dual-POV ideas with her and her love interest, Drew, but I never got them done.

So I think it's all up to my characters. The idea for Uneven Lines started as a concept, with no concrete characters in mind. I hadn't decided on their genders yet. It really could have gone in so many different directions. But then a few hours later, as I was sitting in my fiction writing class, basically Jordan appeared to me, said something along the lines of, "I'm here, bitch. Here's your story." And the rest was history.

Since then, all of my stories have been from male POVs. Again, I haven't written all of those ideas. But how does this relate to "The Last Dragon"? The protagonist and narrator, Raynor, is a 17-year-old boy. Why was this story from his POV? I could have told it from his sister's POV, or even the actual lost hero, although the story would have been significantly different. I think I chose Raynor because he has the most doubt. His sister Illy is too sure of herself, too confident. I thought the story would be more interesting from his POV. I think he had more to learn, more to discover about himself.

So I don't really know if I've actually answered the question of why I write from male perspectives. I guess it's just that those are the characters who speak to me. They're the ones who want their stories told. And I always listen to my characters.

I think with female characters, I just say, "go forth and kick ass." I'm more protective of my male characters (yes, even Jordan. You haven't seen my outline for Book 2...). They're more troubled. They have more complicated stories to tell. Looking back now, I think Amber was a flat character. Too much of a damsel in distress. I think Illy in "The Last Dragon" is the kind of female character I'd want to write. So maybe I'll change things up at some point. It all just depends on what characters pop up in my head.

12 May 2017

The Ridiculous Staycation Goal

I know, I know, I said I'd post on Wednesday and I'm posting on a Friday. Hey, it's my blog, I can do what I want! *cough*

I mostly wanted to post this today because I have a better post for Monday. And I just came up with this idea so I wanted to write it down before I came to my senses changed my mind.

So starting on Monday, I will be off work for a week. And I'm not going anywhere. Or doing anything. Except seeing my husband's best friend in a play on Thursday night. That is literally the only thing I have planned. So what does this mean?

IT'S WRITING TIME. Wait. I mean, IT'S EDITING TIME. Ok, so not as fun. But still happening!

I've been stuck in Chapter 7 land for weeks, I think. I'm not sure anymore. I should have been done with it a while ago. But guess what? I FINISHED IT YESTERDAY! It's basically a miracle. But now that I got it done, I want to keep going. And I'm not going to stop. Which is why I came up with the ridiculous goal.

I want to get through editing Chapter 18 before the end of my vacation. 

Why Chapter 18? Because it's the beginning of the end! Well, ok. It's the end of the just editing phase. Because I have to completely rewrite the last third of the book. And after Chapter 18, all bets are off. I have no idea what's going to happen. Ok, some idea. But it's going to be tough to get through and figure out.

Everything before the end of Chapter 18 will be a lot easier to edit than everything I have to rewrite after it. But at the pace I'm going, it'll take me another three years just to get there. So I want to take this week to get through the editing, then worry about the rewriting later. That's eleven chapters to get through. ELEVEN. If you didn't already know I was nuts, I think you know now.

Is this crazy? Yes? Will I accomplish it? Probably not. But I'm still going to try and see how far I can get. And if I get a few ideas for that last third, I'll still call it a win.

Do you make crazy goals for yourself? Have you ever accomplished them?

08 May 2017

Girls Who Kick Butt

I'm thinking about switching up my blog schedule this month, maybe even posting more often! We'll see. For Mondays, I want to dive a little deeper into my story "The Last Dragon," from the IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. Then if I have some other writing related nonsense (like if I ever finish Chapter 7 of UL...), I'll post something on Wednesdays. But you know what happens when I promise things...

Anyway! Today I'm going to talk about one of my favorite characters. Well, ok, there are really only three characters in "The Last Dragon," so calling one of them "one of my favorites" would seem a bit strange. I love them all, and for different reasons. But the character who's definitely the coolest? In my opinion, at least, it's the MC's twin sister, Irillya. Why? Well, she kicks butt. Ok, maybe not literally. But she's definitely a strong female character.

Even though the story is told from Raynor's point of view, and revolves around the search for their uncle Mikah, there would be no story without Irillya, or Illy, as she's called throughout the story. I have a feeling she actually dislikes her nickname, or at least the fact that it gives her a softer, childlike side that she'd rather not acknowledge. She's tough as nails. She knows what she has to do and she gets it done. Or at least, tries to. Sometimes the way isn't always so clear. But since she has a goal, she knows she has to accomplish it, no matter what.

Illy is Gifted--meaning she has a special power. Her power is seeing visions of the future. In this world, being Gifted is more of a curse than a blessing. But that just gives her more motivation once she has a vision of her uncle fighting a great battle. She knows she has to find him and convince him to fight, even though she's never met him and has no idea how he'll respond. He did disappear, after all. She doesn't know if he still wants to be the hero he once was.

So Illy and her brother Raynor go on their journey, because she wasn't going to take no for an answer. Illy is always seen as the stronger twin. Raynor reflects on how he wishes he had his sister's confidence and strength. The only reason he feels protective of her is because being Gifted is so dangerous. Illy isn't exactly someone who wants to be protected, but the twins are close and they take care of each other.

For reasons that are spoilerific, Illy unfortunately becomes a bit of a damsel in distress, but literally only for half a second. And she's saved by her brother, not some knight in shining armor. She would probably laugh at one of those. She quickly brushes off any trauma she may have faced and is ready to kick butt again. When the final battle approaches, she may not be able to physically take part in it, but her confidence is what fuels her brother and uncle to know that they can face it. So maybe Illy is more of an unsung hero than a lost one.

Do you have a favorite butt-kicking female character? 

Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

03 May 2017

Rewriting, Research, and a Release!

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? So, so, so much. How can I fit it all in one post?? I probably can't. Plus I do kinda want to answer this month's question. Well, I guess I'll just dive in. 

The editing front! Still not done with Chapter 7. I think I'll spend the rest of my life on it, actually. And there is SOOOOOO much dialogue but I think it works for this particular scene. My characters are basically creating a kind of verbal contract, so...they kinda have to talk to each other. I'm actually adding so much more than was in the previous drafts, which is a good thing, because I know this scene was always rushed before. I just wish I could reach the end of it. 

Now for this month's question, which is: What's the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for a story?

I like this question a lot, but I've had a hard time coming up with just one thing that was really weird or really cool. So...I made a list, of course! I didn't think writing a piece of fiction would require SO. MUCH. RESEARCH. But it does! All the little things you need to check out seem to add up over time!

So here are some of the things I've had to research while writing UL. 

- Setting related stuff: streets, landmarks, subway stations, apartment price ranges, THOSE DAMN WINDOWS.
- MATH! (I hate math). I’ve watched YouTube videos on geometric proofs. That scene turned out awesome so it was totally worth it. I also have a geometry textbook.
- Some unsavory things I won't mention here. (Well, you see, I don't have...never mind.)
- FOOD. So much food! Different recipes. How to make fresh pasta. One time I made chocolate chip cookies and then took notes while I ate them. Some of those descriptions are in the book.
- Probably one of the weirdest things I know from writing this book is about age of consent. It goes by state and is from 16-18 (17 in NY where my story takes place). I don't need to know this for real life. It's creepy that I know it. But what can you do? I did need to know it for the story.

And of course, I can't forget the Chapter 3 Valentine's Day cupcakes. Extremely important research, here, people. Very scientific stuff. 


And now for something completely different...

In case you missed it (you probably didn't), yesterday the IWSG Anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life was released! Woo hoo! I'm honored to be a part of this great group of authors. Plus, now after my years of insecure ramblings, you actually get to read something I wrote! Something I actually finished! Something the muse says he "let me" write (because it wasn't about him!). 

Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

01 May 2017

Jordan Takes Over: Character Nicknames

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

So, things are a little different today because I have AN INTRUDER on my post. And you thought I was greedy. But I think you guys like our witty banter or something, so without any further BS...Miss Writer Lady!

What'd I miss???

STAHP. What are we doing here, anyway? I haven't had a cup of tea yet. You know what, never mind the tea, I'm going back to bed.

Nice try! We're going to have some fun with character names today. Or more specifically, character nicknames! And not the ones that you would actually use in a story. Because if any other writers out there are like me...


*glares* Anyway...you may refer to your own characters with nicknames that you would never actually use in a story. Whether because you love them so much you create gooey sappy nicknames, or you hate them so much you commonly refer to them as something that probably shouldn't be uttered in front of children. So we're gonna have some fun today and go through the characters in Jordan's series and maybe some extra characters will manage to sneak in as well.

Not likely. Why do I have to be here, exactly?

Because I'm guessing you have nicknames for these characters that are probably a bit different than mine...so let's start!

They don't even know who these people are...


Jordan (!)

*rolls eyes* I don't have a nickname for myself. That would be weird
Ok, I get another! Bane of my existence! SASSAFRASS. 
Please stop.


You whore! We don't talk about him!
He's the second most important character in the book; you had to have seen this coming. 
I want out!
Ugh...I think I frequently called him loser. Or like, math geek. Psycho baker! That was a good one. Can we make cookies?

Allison (Mom)

I don't think your readers will appreciate the words I use for her.
You just called me a whore. 
I would never be that nice to her.


Light of my life.


Um...yeah, that's accurate. 


I thought that was me?
YOU'RE BOTH HAGS. You can be Queen Hag and she can be Princess Hag.



Sticks! *air drums*
Joe...I mean, Max...I mean, Seth! Seth! He finally has a name! I never thought it would happen.




I still say you just change it to Voldemort. It'll save time. 


A red-haired, blue-eyed, demon child sent straight from hell to torture me.
I thought you adored her.
I do. She's my entire world.


The guy I wasn't supposed to know about.
Same. Characters are always doing things they're not supposed to be doing. Like existing. 



That stupid beefed-up queen???
*laughing hysterically* I just wanted to include him so you would say that. 


More like sleeping.

Raynor from "The Last Dragon" 

Ray Ray!
Fire boy.

Jason from Shiny New Story

Just J. 
He's not that bad. He has a troubled past!
He needs a personality makeover. I'll fix that.
He's not gonna sleep with you. He's in a committed relationship. 
Hey! Did I say I was gonna seduce him? I have various means of persuasion. *cracks knuckles*

Eli from Shiny New Story

My widdle Eli cuddlekins omg I wanna pinch his cheeks.
Calm down, woman! You have a problem. Plus he’s 18, not an infant.
*sticks out tongue* 

Ok, time to wrap this up.
I'm sure we've lost everybody by now. 
I guess we could go make those cookies. 
I'm not gonna make out with you while they bake, though. 
Well that's a relief. 

JP & SF <3

Do you give your characters nicknames that aren't actually in the story?