Saturday, March 26, 2011

I'm Back in the Wagon Again

Yippie ki-yay, I'm back to writing my YA! 
(Historical Fiction w / a twist of fantasy)

I'm proud to announce that I've climbed back in the wagon again. It must have been all of the hemming and hawing I've been doing! I know my family is fed up with hearing about this story. "Would you just finish already!"

After posting about using Alpha readers, my creative juices were tapped, and the ideas started flowing.

I opened the document, wrote an alternate beginning, one that is action-packed, and one where my mc hits the ground running. I cut out a ton of back story in the alternate. I saved both, and I will share them with my select readers.

I scrolled down to page 197, and I stared at the cursor blinking next to the 80,152nd word. I went back two pages to bring myself back up to speed.

It's time to strap the yoke on the ole' team of oxen, hook em' to the wagon, and let her roll!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When a Novel's Prescription Calls for an Alpha Reader

Diagnosis: My manuscript has the I'm-stuck bug.

Here are the culture samples in a petri dish:

It all began with a novel (pun intended) idea.
Two years ago, on a road trip west of the Pecos River, in the middle of the scorching Chihuahuan Desert, I set out to research information for a completely different book idea. I was going to write the next big YA paranormal literary wonder.

Except when I walked into the Sul Ross museum, merely to gather historical facts about mercury mines in the area, I was captivated by the historical ambiance of west Texas.

I'd wondered off from my chaperoning hubby, and ended up inside a well-preserved pioneer chuck wagon. I spent the next two hours *hearing* the story of a young woman on a wagon journey westward. No, there wasn't a tour guide in the wagon. I was alone. Well, all alone, except for the voices in my head.

This young woman was seventeen, and she shared with me the joys and hardships of her journeying pioneer life, including Native Americans (mostly good experiences, despite what I'd been taught in history books), starvation and dehydration threats, the heroic Buffalo Soldiers, outlaws, the joys of family gatherings around a campfire, love, loss, friendship & new beginnings.

It was a whirlwind of information; I could barely keep up with my pencil and notebook. I witnessed scenes, met characters, and felt their emotions. It was one of those, "Oh my!" moments I'd always heard authors and writers talk about.

We spent ten history-packed days in west Texas. When we left Alpine, I knew how my book would begin, progress and end. I immediately began writing on the ten hour drive home. I wrote feverishly for one and a half years, and then, BAM! I stopped, just like that. I'd run into a brick wall--some sort of funky writer's block.

I'd worked my tail off to carry a storyline, and an elaborate group of characters along the lower Old San Antonio road by wagon (and my keyboard). I'd landed the main characters on the other side of the story's climax, and then, something interesting happened.

It wasn't that I didn't like my story, but the characters began to do as they pleased. I was no longer content with the outcome of the story, nor did I want the story to come to an end. My remedy for the I'm stuck-bug, was to close the document. It's been 6 months since I last worked on the book.

I expressed my concerns on the wonderful online community of She Writes last week, and a fellow writer suggested I pick a couple of well-trusted Alpha Readers. I think it may be what a novel doctor would prescribe.

I opened the 80,000-word document last week, and decided it was time to treat the symptoms. I've chosen one Alpha reader so far (although, she hasn't a clue, yet!) and I may ask one more to go through the pages for story readability. Does it flow? Make sense? Are there big holes in the plot arc? Is there a plot arc? Are my characters believable, genuine and likable? Does the reader have an emotional connection with characters? Is there rising and falling action? Does it keep the reader turning the page? Is the voice authentic?

I'll take the prescribed dose of a couple of good Alpha readers, and I'll finish the manuscript. I've got bestseller lists to make, right?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Written Word vs. Canine Companion

From my daily dose of

This ever happen to you? I'm sure my day is coming. My new German Shep, Glen Ellen, has to nuzzle, lick, and mouth everything that's mine.

I make sure now, when I leave the house, my eyeglasses are out of her paw's reach, my notebooks are safely tucked in the desk drawers, and the top of my desk is free and clear of cluttered notes. 

I returned home one afternoon last week to find all the contents, previously arranged on my desk, littered about the floor. Glen Ellen looked at me, wagging her tail, "Mommy's home, my mommy's home!"

I didn't want to admit that my sweet, loyal girl would do such a monstruous thing! However, staring me in the face, were numerous Glen Ellen nose smudges on the window above my desk.

One day, she'll catch me unprepared, and feast upon my words. My only hope is that I have the work saved on a computer somewhere. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hey, All You Janet Evanovich Fans...

(Thanks to J.E.'s website for this image.

Get ready fans, empty your bladders, decide if you're for Morelli or Ranger, and hold on tight for the movie we've all been waiting for! On June 3, 2011, One for the Money will be released in theaters.

I, for one, (no pun intended) can't wait! Check out Janet E.'s link: about the movie release.

If you've never read One for the Money, go out today, buy it, and read it! It is steamy, laugh-out-loud (and wet-your-pants) funny, a quick-paced read, and you'll fall in love with Stephanie and her hilarious, unfortunate-at-times life. I was hooked from the first page--my nose was stuck permanently inside the book until it was finished. Lucky for me, I didn't discover the series until the first 3 were out, so I was able to book it (sorry, again. I really am not trying to pun this post.) to the store and snatch up the next two.

I'm waiting on spiny sticker burrs for Smokin' Seventeen. Yes, they go that high. For me, they just keep getting more delicious by the book.

Join me for the wait, and let me know who your favorite character is! Mine is Grandma Mazur. Here is a quote from J.E.'s website about G. Mazur:

Grandma Mazur - Stephanie's doorknob-kneed, ancient, yet spry grandmother. Notable quote: "I shot that sucker right in the gumpy."

Grandma's appetite for hanging out at the funeral parlor is what I love most about her! Well, that and...oh, forget it, I'll let you read for yourself.

And, for the record, I can't decide who I have more of a hankering for, Joe Morelli or Ranger...they're both super, great characters, each with their own unique badness (in a good sort of way) and appeal. Who's your favorite?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I Heart Blogger

At this very moment, I'm on my knees, worshiping the folks at Blogger. (No, I'm not being paid for this!) I'm just a blogger who successfully transferred my writing blog from another blogging site, with only a click of a few keys.

I manage another Blogger page for my yoga business, and Blogger is extremely user friendly (my opinion, of course). 

I've fretted over the past couple of weeks at the thought of switching my writing blog over to Blogger. I found the other site confusing and difficult to manage. I've never claimed to be a web princess.

Trust me when I say this, anyone can do it.

If you'd like instructions on how to transfer your current blog (and all your posts and info) to Blogger, google "how to transfer *****blog to Blogger," yes, it's that simple. 

*I'd post the link to the instructions, however, it mentions the other company's name. I'd be happy to try and help via email.

Good luck!