Writing Journal

As some of you know, both Kat and I are aspiring authors. We have both been on a writing journey, trying to find a few stolen hours in our busy week to put down words that will hopefully turn into meaningful stories. We spend countless hours doing research, developing our characters and creating strong plots. While we attempt to write our stories, we hit roadblocks along the way making the journey challenging. But, like anything you love, we somehow find the time to work on our craft.

This page will chart our progress while we plug away on our novels - a writing journal. Kat and I are at different stages in our writing and even though we both write woman's fiction, our writing styles are certainly different.

I started my novel writing before Kat, and the fact that I am fifteen years older (and that closer to losing my mind), I am a little further ahead than she is. My children are a little older and a little less needy (many nights having to scavenge for their dinner while I am in "the zone") than Kat's. If needed, I can disappear somewhere in the house to write - Kat cannot.

Why did I start writing? I once heard an interview with Stephenie Meyer, who wrote the Twilight series. She said she really never aspired to become a writer, but one night the story came to her in a dream and so, she wrote it, and the rest is history. I thought it was incredible that she could just dream up a story like that - a rarity really. But, the same thing happened to me. I was never a huge reader, and I certainly wasn't a writer, yet a story came to me in a dream and I just started writing it. Once I started writing, I couldn't stop and for the first time, I found something that I was truly passionate about. I haven't finished the first story I dreamed up - it was put on the backburner while I decided to challenge myself to write an entire novel in November (it's called NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month). I accomplished my goal, writing 50,000 words in one month. Two weeks later, I wrote THE END. I was hooked and realized, I couldn't imagine doing anything else more rewarding as a future career.

What am I working on now? After I had completed my novel, I had a lot of revisions. NaNoWriMo allowed me the push I needed to get the bones down in print, but I needed to supply the additional layers that make a book come to life. I am extremely fortunate to belong to a read and critique group, led by a published author and editor. In addition to the leader, there are seven other writers who submit their work. While it can get time-consuming to critique about 100 pages every week, it has also been the most valuable tool in becoming a better writer. My R&C group helped me see the problems in my story, and I worked on fixing them (over and over again). It's taken a long time, but after two rounds of content editing and three full revisions, it is ready to test the "agent waters." Since its completion, I have started a new novel while I send out query letters to agents.
My hope is to update this page regularly. Not only is this to serve as a record of my (and Kat's) progress, but to also allow others to learn from our successes and failures (hopefully there will be more successes than failures on this journey).

Monday, November 9, 2015

It's NaNoWriMo month which stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is the month when many writers, seasoned and unseasoned, published and unpublished, take on the challenge of writing an entire novel in one month (or at least 50,000 words of it). It's a challenge to push writers to simply write rather than ponder, plan and procrastinate.

Last year I took up the challenge with a story already in my head and ready to come out. I was in the middle of writing a different story, but I put it on hold to start and finish the other one. I averaged about 2,200 words per day, sometimes more, sometimes less, but I always set aside time to write and complete my goals for the week. At the end of the month, I had written over 50,000 words and one week later, I wrote "The End," completing an entire novel in about five weeks. The completed novel is just under 80,000 words and after many revisions, is just about ready for agent representation - if I'm fortunate to find someone as passionate about the story as I am.

This year, I have taken up the challenge once again, with a story I started a few months ago. I felt this was the push I needed to get the bones down, but this time, time is not on my side. I am greatly behind on my word count and looking at my calendar only makes me worry I won't have the time needed to get to 50,000 words before the end of the month.

I am not a quitter, never have been. If someone tells me I can't do something, I am instantly ready to prove them wrong. I will keep writing, pushing through the obstacles that may find their way in my path. Sometimes challenges may seem impossible, but we never know what we are capable of unless we try! Happy NaNoWriMo!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Well, NaNoWriMo came and went without so much as a wave. With all I had going on during the month of November, it was impossible to write my 50,000 words. I got a little over 8.000 out of my head and into my computer and still have a long journey ahead before I complete this new story. Now, it's almost the end of January, and I still haven't made much progress. 

I am finding other tasks overtaking me these days. My house is always disorganized, causing me to either spend too much time looking for something or, more recently, tearing things apart and throwing away excess. I can't stand clutter because it not only makes a mess of my house but also my mind. 

So, here I am, spending the time I should be writing, cleaning. I'm not just cleaning, though, I'm purging, and it feels freeing. Each time I clean out a drawer or basket, I feel just a little bit lighter and happier. On a positive note, cleaning gives me time to work on character development as well as conjure up what I can throw at my protagonist next. There is NO idle time in my head!

Wednesday, June 1

Wow, five months and not one writing journal entry. I have been writing, honest! I finished revising my first novel, changing it from first to third person, which took longer than I had anticipated. In addition, I have finished the first act of my second novel with the goal to finish the first draft by the end of the summer. I find it difficult to juggle my writing with other life commitments, but writing is what consumes my mind most of the day. Whatever I am doing or wherever I am, I am thinking of my stories. 

My struggle with my current story is planning the second act. It's always the middle of the story that stumps me at first. How do I continue to move the story forward? What scenes will help that happen? How many rocks can I throw at my protagonist and what will the rocks do to get her to where I need her for act 3? Yesterday a scene I was writing turned out completely different than I had intended. Basically, my character took control of the scene and after I wrote it, I thought, "I didn't see that coming, huh." I love this about writing! Quite frankly, I think all writers are scams! They don't write the book, the characters do! No matter how much I plan the story ahead of time, the moment I put my fingers on the computer keys, the characters take over. I'm pretty certain, my struggle with the second act will be short lived once the characters decide they're ready to move on.

As for the first novel - it's done and waiting for an agent to love it as much as I do. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Well, I have completed another 1/4 of the current story I am writing which gets me to the half-way point. It's just the bones, so I'm not going to fret about the missing meat of the story--that will come later. I also gave a nudge to an agent who has had the full manuscript of my first book since March. Now my fingers begin to sweat, and my stomach aches each time I hear the ping of my email inbox. Rejection is never easy, but I'm ready for whatever her decision is (although hearing that she loves it and wants to represent me would be the most amazing words to read, it rarely ends that way, and I must be prepared). 

For those of you who don't write and are unfamiliar with the process of getting a book published, let me just say, the next time you go into a bookstore, know that almost every book you gaze upon took a long journey to get there. For established writers, it's easier. But for newbies like me, it could be years before my story ever makes it on a book shelf. Self-publishing is an option, but I am a lover of tradition and would prefer to have an agent who can work with me to make what I love into a career. It's a dream I won't give up on and a dream I work towards every day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I'm 2/3rds of the way through the story now and feeling pretty confident in how it's playing out. I received a thumbs up from an editor who reviewed the first fifteen pages and said it was pretty much ready (except for the fact that I hadn't finished it yet!). It's validation from an editor or a group of writers that keeps me plugging away, hoping that once it's done, someone will want to sell it and many will want to read it.

I'm very proud of Kat for receiving an award for her submission at the Southern California Writer's Conference. It's so wonderful to be recognized for the hours we sit, plan, type and question what in the hell we're doing. 

Writing is an isolating job that brings me back to my days as an introvert. It was often easier to make up characters in my head who I wanted to be friends with than go on a futile search and find that no one could compare to those I had created. I still find myself creating those friends as well as enemies I want to victor over. It's the one place where I feel I have control. Well, at least until the character becomes more than the words on the page - that's when they tell the rest of the story.

As for the nudge to the agent--crickets. I sent a new nudge today, but it's time to move on.

February 1, 2018

Ha! I haven't updated this in over a year and I'm not much further than I was the last time I posted. I'm certainly getting closer but I feel like I'm in a never-ending marathon. It doesn't help that I am revising as I go - mostly because I belong to a read and critique group that tells me what works and what doesn't and then I "fix" things while creating new problems in its wake. I'm also not as disciplined and can go for days without sitting my butt in the chair and writing. Instead, I let the story run through my head in the hopes that, at some point, it will make its way to my computer. 

The other story, SHOES ON THE STAIRS, is complete but needs another overhaul that I'm not sure I'm ready for. I like the way it's written now, but an editor recommended some significant changes that may change the theme of the book. It's a tough decision and an even tougher writing journey when you already love what is on the page.

The good news is that I have my first published story coming out in Chicken Soup for the Soul - Miracles and More! I'm so excited to be part of such a wonderful publication. It was such a thrill to hear they had selected my story for their book - my first published story and a boost to my writing. Persistence, practice and a dash of patience will hopefully pay off. For now, just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing...

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