Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Because I just saw the movie "Austenland"....

What'd you get? :)

I got:

You are Marianne Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! You are impulsive, romantic, impatient, and perhaps a bit too brutally honest. You enjoy romantic poetry and novels, and play the pianoforte beautifully. To boot, your singing voice is captivating. You feel deeply, and love passionately.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Who is up for some writing prompts?? I love writing prompts - sometimes I find ways to work them into my WIP, sometimes I just write and enjoy a little break from my WIP, sometimes it just gives me an idea for the future that I file away. :)

#1 - Write about a girl who has never cooked a meal in her life suddenly in charge of her family's Thanksgiving dinner. Why is she sudden in charge of it? What will she make? Or will she just call in takeout?

#2 - Write about a mix up on an airplane or at an airport. Maybe it's two people's luggage gets switched, maybe there's a mix up with a taxi service or with a rental car company. Depending on the genre you like to write, how could this be either a mystery, romance or comedy?

#3 - As quickly as you can and without thinking too much about it, finish the following sentence:

"As long as I live, I will never forget the day I..."

:) Have fun!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

What Thomas the Train Taught Me About Writing...

Okay, maybe by now you're thinking I've just watched one too many pre-k movies. But today I went to a "Day out with Thomas" event with my boys. From the moment we got into the shuttle to take us to the "real" Thomas train who was hooked up to the front of a real train, it was like we were being taken to Disneyland. There was magic! There was suspension of disbelief! The shuttle was filled with kids, mostly boys, under the age of five. You could practically feel the anticipation. As we drove down the road, our driver pointed to the left. "There's Thomas! Can you see him?"

Everyone looked.

Then there were gasps. My three year old looked. Looked up at his dad. Looked again. Finally looked at me so I could see the expression I'd known I'd see there. Disbelief and delight, all mixed.

The character he loved so much was real.

We took pictures with Thomas once we got to where he was. We took a ride in one of the passenger cars (which, if you're a Thomas fan, were not actually Annie and Clarabel, but we called them that anyway...). We played all kinds of games, shopped in the gift shop, and met Sir Topham Hatt (who is the superintendent of the railway, in case you don't have kids. Or you have girls. Haha.).

The only thing that could have made it better is if it were on the Island of Sodor itself, a made-up place that I would totally go to for vacation if it was real. Seriously. Watch the intro to a Thomas movie. It has mountains, beaches, and trees where the birds sing! Anyway...

My point here is to watch the details in your stories. It was SO fun to see Thomas today, because he's the main character in the movies. And he almost seems real! Especially if you're three. But if it was just Thomas, kids wouldn't love the show so much. The other characters are believable and multi-dimensional too. And the setting, like I said, is phenomenal. Yeah, they had to make up their own island to make it so epic, but still.

So make sure in your stories that it's not just your main character who shines, but ALL of your characters, all of the places in your story. Make them REAL to us. Make them real to you first.

I told my husband the other day that my character's favorite flower is bird of paradise. That's not what she'd say if asked. She'd say daisies or roses. Something safe and expected. But deep in her heart, she's a bird of paradise type of girl.

My husband raised his eyebrows, said if I was thinking of stuff like that, maybe Norah was becoming too real. To which I said "Isn't that the point? If she's not real to me, how can she be real to them?"

So which do you need more work on--secondary characters? Or setting?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Have you ever researched filmmaking for storywriting?

I have several friends going into that industry and its fascinating. I've also heard its awesome information to incorporate, even when you plan to stick to novel writing. If you get bored or ever feel like you're hearing the same ol' craft talks over and over, you might consider branching out in that regard and taking a class or attending a conference for screenwriters. I know the ACFW conferences lately have been offering at least one class in that direction and everyone always raves over it :)

Just an idea for your Wednesday!

I personally love watching movies - especially romantic comedies or chick flicks - and picturing it as a novel instead. Seeing if it would work or not, what I would change, delete or add to put it into book form, etc. Its a fun exercise and a great excuse to watch a movie and veg ;)

What do you think?

Monday, October 21, 2013

The best is yet to come

I love writing series. I love getting to know the characters for more than just one book.

But I also always struggle with how to end the first and second book of the series. The options for an open-ended ending are endless!

(Good grief. Lots of E-N-D in that sentence!)

Let's look at a few of them, shall we?

1. The Cliffhanger

Probably the most loved by writers and most hated by readers. As a writer, it can be fun because there aren't really any rules. You can end right in the middle of an action scene - the gun is cocked, the hero is ducking, there is NO WAY OUT - and you can just frivolously type the words "The End". The reader, on the other hand, will then hate you forever because they've invested a few days into this novel and now they don't know what happens next for the foreseeable future.

This method is frequently used in sitcoms on TV to hold the viewers' interest through the off season.

2. The Question

This is one where you look at the book series like a bunch of threads. The threads that make up the first book are tied up, but the big threads - character development, long range storylines - are still open. What will happen to the characters next? This typical leaves a more satisfied reader because they have answers to their original questions in the book (what is going to happen with this problem in her life? What will the answer be to that mystery he is working on?) but it still leaves enough curiosity that they want to get the next book and keep reading (will they end up with the person I hope they end up with?).

This particular method is a favorite of mystery writers everywhere.

3. The Unattached

I have read a lot of stories like this where it technically is a series but in name or author only. There's really nothing connecting the books other than the time period, the series name or maybe the family tree (book one is about the grandmother, book two is about the mother, book three is about the daughter, for example). This "series" is really just three separate stories and there are little - if any - connecting storylines through the books. The reader usually ends up treating these as individual stories.

I've seen this also where the books are about a sibling group and each book focuses on one of the siblings. The supporting characters are the same in all the books, so you have a sense of a continuing thread through the books, but you could still theoretically read them out of order and have a pretty good sense of what is going on.

So, series writers out there... what is your favorite method when it comes to writing series? And what is your favorite one to read??

Friday, October 18, 2013

How Do I Plot My Stories?

Let me count the ways.

1. I use Scrivener, and line up the notecards neatly.

2. I handwrite things on index cards and shuffle them around as needed.

3. I put ideas in list form on blank computer paper.

4. I type out ideas in Microsoft word.

5. I talk to myself out loud when I'm driving.

6. I pester my husband and tell him my plot while he's watching TV.

7. I use sticky notes. Real or on the computer.

So one of my writer friends mentioned that she feels like she should know "how" she plots stories on the book she's working on now, which is her seventh. And it got me thinking. I don't think I ever plot two stories the same way. I don't even plot one the same way all the way through.

ADD? What? Hey, look, there's something shiny!

Haha. Yeah. Okay, I'm back. Anyway, I can't decide if this plotting-technique-jumping is good or bad. On one hand, I'm never bored with how I plot. On the other, it'd be so fun to have a system, you know? I'm all about systems. Maybe to an unhealthy degree. =)

I'm still thinking.

How about y'all? Do you plot every story the same? What works for you? Are you one of those people who will write as many books as Gilbert Morris (anyone read the House of Winslow series back in the day?) and plot them all the same way? Or do you think you'll always like variety in your plotting techniques?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A little bit of randomness, a little dash of 'sup?

Hey Scribblers!

Sorry this post is so late in the day. This week has been beyond hectic and I thought it was Monday all week, to the point of sending the wrong lunch to my daughter's school. (chicken nugget fiasco, in other words - don't ask)

I just wanted to stop in and say HEY and I'M HERE and STILL UNDER DEADLINE and JUST KEEP SWIMMING and other means of encouragement directed toward myself and you alike ;)

Let's do a check in post today. How is everyone doing on their goals? What's next on your list? Do you need inspiration? Motivation? Prayer? A kick in the rear? We're here for you guys and good for all of the above :)

We're also always taking questions or topic suggestions from you guys! So hit us up if you need help figuring out something crafty or want to better understand a certain element of the industry. If we don't know, we can probably find out :)

And because it's late and I'm on too much caffeine, here's a fun question for the night.

Of the following choices, if you HAD to pick one - which would you rather?

(A) Never write again
(B) Never read again
(C) Never sing again
(D) Never see again
(E) Never eat chocolate again
(F) Never go shopping again

And why? GO :)

(If I had to pick, I'd pick E. I know that's a shock. But the others are too vital! Singing draws me closer to Jesus these days, and fights of the lies from the enemy. Seeing, well - yeah. I like driving my new car so there's that. Writing and reading????? Can't give that up!! And shopping, well, can I just say SHOES? Holla!!)  :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Personality Fun

So I may be just a tiny bit obsessed with personality tests. I blame it on my personality. I like to know everything about people and how they work so I can pay attention to their emotions. Or something. =) But seriously, I love them, and I think everyone else should too.

Have you used personality tests for your characters before? I sat down to take the Myers Briggs (my favorite!) test for one of my characters the other day and my husband was so disturbed. Haha. He's normal, so the idea that I was taking a test for a made-up person, worse yet, someone I made up and should know, was too much for him to handle. ;)

So going around facebook there's been a list of animals that match all 16 types of the Myers Briggs test. This is a quick, pretty well done way to see which type someone is, SO I wanted to make sure y'all had all seen it so you can use it for your characters and see why they are the way they are. You can check it out here.

Also, this is a good place to take the test if you want the "official" (ahem, as official as you can get for free...) answers, and then go back to check the animal list.

If you already know your heroine's personality well, what about your hero? Your antagonist? Knowing more about them, being able to ask WHY even more (and sometimes get answers!) can only help. Have fun! And let us know--what type is your current main character? Are they the same as you? Similar? Wildly different?

Also, brief character/author similarity trivia: I once wrote a character who HATED coffee. She only drank tea. Crazy, right?

So take the test, look at the descriptions! What do you think?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cough, cough, hack, hack

Ah friends. I am sick.

And yet, the joy of my job is that I work from home. And while I ADORE working from home 99.7% of the time, that 0.3% that I'm sick, I hate it.

Because sadly, there are no sick days for a writer. Or a mom, but that's a WHOLE other blog that would likely involve a pretty significant chunk dedicated to an ode about sleeping in on Saturdays. ;) (P.S. It's worth the sleep deprivation.)

I've got a book releasing tomorrow (YAY!), a bunch of interviews this week and a lot of things scheduled that just keep piling up with or without my doctor's note. So, I'm sucking it up (while shoving a cough drop in my mouth so I can suck it up without flagging a coughing fit), getting myself up and dressed and trying not to complain while I give my little disclaimers to the poor interviewers on the phone who are probably convinced they are going to contract my cough and subsequent laryngitis through the phone.

I am letting myself have a brief break from the novella I'm working on though. I'm not Wonder Woman or anything.

So. That's what I've got going on. And I want to hear from YOU now. What are you up to? What are you needing or wanting to know about the writing process - whether it's how to write a first chapter or how to write back a potential agent?

Have a lovely night! Here's to hoping for a congestion-free day for us all tomorrow. :)