Keep on keeping on.

I've been trying to figure out what readers really want to see on my blog. I doubt most of you really care about my struggles to deal with software or computer issues. I suspect only a handful of you care about my writing process, and I KNOW there are lots of blogs out there with more helpful advice for writers than this one. So really, what is it that you guys visit my blog for? I'd love to know so I can provide something interesting for you to read. I need some direction. Tell me what you'd like to see.

Since I'm here, I'll share a bit of what's new in my life.

Professional: I'm a full time writer now. Well, as full time as a person can be with 3 small children, 2 dogs, 3 cats, a husband, and too many hobbies.

Health: I've lost about 15 pounds in the past 6 months and have never felt better. If you'd like more details, let me know!

Family: We had our third child (our second daughter) in August 2013. She's currently teething and cranky. Our eldest child (our son) is going to start 4K in September.

Pets: We're holding steady at two dogs (Dogues de Bordeaux) and three cats (all rescues).

Writing: I'm currently working on edits for Letting GoAlaskan Hope, and an unnamed novel. I also have several ideas I'm mulling over.

An update on some projects...

Alaskan Hope has been sent off to the editor. I'm sure she'll have a ton of suggestions for me, but at least I'm moving forward with it. Letting Go finally resembles a cohesive novel. I had a lot of trouble getting it to work the way I wanted it to, but I think I'm there with it. Again, much work needed, but the hardest part is done. My editor intends to start working on that the first week of January.

Now, I'm trying to decide where to go next. I have signed up for NaNoWriMo. I have a very rough idea to work with. But I'm excited about it.

That leaves me roughly a week to find something else to do with my time. I'm not sure what that's going to be. There's plenty of chores I've neglected which I could do, but... I think I'll look over my list of writing projects and see if any of them speak to me. I'm sure I have something in the trunk-o-writing-junk that can be salvaged.

A general update on... things

I see it's been nearly a month since I posted anything. Well, you probably didn't know, but I've been hiding out in the mountains of northern Idaho, near a historic silver mining town, gathering berries and story ideas, while avoiding the people who wish me dead. No, seriously, I'm still where I always am, doing what I always do. I've just being some prioritizing. In case you didn't know, I'm currently awaiting the arrival of my third child, who is due to arrive almost any day. My belly makes it hard to use the laptop (my lap seems to be missing). And it's uncomfortable to sit for any length of time at my desk to use the external keyboard.

I also have returned to work after six months of being laid off due to lack of work. While it's the same position I held before, with the same company, some things have changed in the six months, which leaves me struggling to do some things that used to be simple. It's good to learn new things though.

Other than that, there's not much worth discussing from my personal life.

If you're curious about the progress of my writing (and really, why else would you read my blog), I have been plugging away at my revisions on Alaskan Hope. I have also shared it with a couple of friends who are telling me all that's wrong with it. They think they're hurting my feelings, but I LOVE all the information and feed back they've given me so far. (Thanks Jennifer and Shelia! You ladies ROCK!)

And now, this is where I admit the truth. I'm so far behind my self-imposed deadlines, I don't have any idea when it'll be available. Right now, I'm forcing myself to focus on making it as wonderful as possible instead of being done as quickly as possible.

Please be patient. I honestly believe it will be worth the wait and will be much better than my previous books.

Alaskan Hope Update

cover design_Alaskan HopeAfter much deliberation and procrastination, I'm writing this post to let you know that work on Alaskan Hope is going to be postponed. I've struggled with the story from the first day I started working on it, and to be completely honest, I'm just not enjoying the story at all. I've tried to get myself excited about it in a variety of ways, including having the immensely talented Lori Gnahn create a cover for it (isn't it gorgeous?). I've told myself I can't work on anything else until I get Alaskan Hope done. And I've pretty much beaten myself up daily for not being interested in working on it.

It's not just a case of startitis (starting many projects and not finishing them), there's something fundamentally wrong with what I have completed so far on the manuscript and I can't figure out what it is. So, rather than push through and write 65,000 words of a story I don't love, I'm just going to set it aside for an undetermined amount of time.

When it does get completed, you'll be much happier with the story than if I did it now. I will be much happier with it if I wait until I figure out what I don't like about it.

I'm currently working on a rough draft that may or may not ever amount to anything. It's my project for this month's Book-in-a-Week challenge. (So far I've completed 40 pages of my 100 page goal.) When I'm done with this week, I'm going to sort through some of my other projects and see what's floated to the top of the pond. I have a few different stories that I'm contemplating revising. I suspect one of those will be the next to be available.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding.

I'm a top ten producer for Book In a Week

I finished September's Book in a week Challenge about a week ago, but haven't had a chance to share my results because I've been so busy. Since I'm sure you're all dying to know how I did, here ya go. I managed to finish 70.5 pages in one week. I'm pretty impressed with myself. Granted, the seventy pages aren't all that great. It's very, very, rough draft material, but it's more material than I had at the end of August.

For the first five days, I focused on Alaskan Hope. I estimate that I completed 55-60 pages for that rough draft. I assume that makes anyone waiting for a sequel to Alaskan Healing happy.

The last two days, I focused on the yet-unnamed-hockey novel. While 15 pages isn't a lot, it's, again, fifteen more pages than I had for it in August.

How did I write 70.5 pages in 7 days? I made myself do it. There were a few days that I wrote absolutely nothing, but I made up for it on the other days. I set the goal for myself and told everyone that it was my goal. I'm stubborn. I didn't want to tell anyone I failed. So, in the end, I spent a LOT of time over the weekend, doing nothing but writing.

Once I got the kids to sleep, I stayed up waaaay too late, writing as much as I could so I'd achieve my goal. And I did. With 20.5 extra pages.

If you think 70.5 pages in a week is a lot, I have to tell you, I was the 10th top producer for the month. That means nine people wrote more than I did. Some of them were in the 200+ page range. I don't want to sound like I'm bitter, but I speculate those people don't have two small children running around, plus a dead website during the week.

I doubt I'll ever be the top producer for Book in a Week, but I'm definitely going to try to stay in the top ten each time I participate. It's a good way to push myself to achieve bigger and better things.

Time to write

Once I have my idea and an outline, I start writing. I've used different software for my rough drafts, but I essentially do it the same way no matter what software I use. Often, I don't write my novels chronologically. I just pick something from my outline that I feel like writing and I write. When I run out of ideas for that scene, I pick another one and I write it. Sometimes when I'm writing, I think of another scene or occurrence that I want to include. I continue in this way until all of my listed scenes are written.

Then I let the story sit for a bit and go back to read through my list of scenes. When I did this with Alaskan Hope, I realized I just have one plot line. It's boring; you don't learn anything about any of the supporting characters and there's only one problem the main characters are trying to solve. It's repetitive. No one wants to read 200 pages about a pair of characters trying to overcome one problem.

I moped. For twenty-four hours, I beat myself up about how awful this idea was and how no one would be interested in reading it. I had to do something to make the story entertaining. I found myself back at the pre-writing stage, brainstorming ideas that I could use to add depth and interest to my story (aka "how to make my characters suffer").

After deciding what "problems" my characters would have to solve, I then made lists of the steps in each of those problems. I've interspersed those "plot points" into my original outline and will be writing those scenes. So while I said the rough draft was done, it's currently only about half done.

Starting Monday, I'm participating in September's Book-in-a-week challenge. My goal is 50 pages of rough draft. That will be about a third of the remaining scenes I need to write for Alaskan Hope.

Idea creation

I've used different methods of coming up with ideas over the years. When I used to write every day, and had lots of story ideas, most of my ideas came from my dreams. I'd wake up and wonder, "What happened to that guy/girl/dog who chased me through the corn field/pushed me down the stairs/joined me in the shower?" So I'd write what I remembered of the dream then just write whatever came to me. I was just writing the story so I could learn what happened. I enjoyed this method as it was fun for me to learn the story as I went along. However, it wasn't very organized. Sometimes I'd end up with an entire notebook full of words, but it didn't have a plot or any real point. However, I learned more about my characters and if I really wanted to, I could consider those stories prewriting now and pick the kernels from the chaff and outline it into novels. I started Alaskan Healing for a class I was taking online with the wonderful Loree Lough in 2006. It was the night before the class started and I was supposed to have an idea to work with. I'd procrastinated and procrastinated some more, thinking, "Damn. I hope an idea shows up otherwise this class is going to be a waste of money."

Grumbling about my muse's refusal to cooperate, I sat my butt on the couch to watch tv with my husband, he flipped the channel to Deadliest Catch and I said to myself, "I wonder why there aren't any women on any of the boats."

Aha! I had my idea. Thank you, Ms. Muse.

I wrote the rough draft of the hockey novel I am currently revising (no title so far) during National Novel Writing Month in 2006. I followed part of the Snowflake Novel Writing Method, but the initial idea came from watching too much hockey. (Blasphemy! There is no such thing as too much hockey!)

In August (2012), when I finally started working on Alaskan Hope (the next Alaskan Healing novel), I wasn't sure what I wanted to write. I had a good idea who my characters were going to be, but not what they were going to do. I used Freemind mind mapping software to get a bunch of ideas on paper/screen and sorted through those ideas to find the main "what happens to them" of the story.

 

There have been other various ideas between the hockey novel and Alaskan Hope, but I don't know that they'll ever amount to anything, so I didn't mention them in this post.