dolphins, mermaids, & ampersands

“When this is done, I’m going to go swimming and relax. Become a dolphin.” –me

“Or a mermaid?” –Rachel

“Or that. But dolphins just seem happier.” –me

These conversations happen during NaNoWriMo time.

I really hate first drafts. Sometimes I just want to print it all out and burn it, but how will that help me finish the draft? Everything just seems so broken and messy. I haven’t written something entirely from scratch in years. It’s hard to keep going when you don’t know what’s going to happen next!

Today I procrastinated by learning to draw ampersands. I still have practice to do, but you can tell I’m running out of interesting ways to avoid this manuscript, and I just need to finish it.

But I’m so close to the goal. I upped it from 50k to 80k, and I’m at 72k.

So. Close.

I will have a sequel this year.

And I will also master the ampersand. && (Every writer should know how to draw an ampersand.)

downtown at sunset, it was a glorious view

downtown at sunset, it was a glorious view


doodling ampersands

doodling ampersands

writing process blog hop — rewriting


Kate tagged me to do the writing process blog hop (and I’m terribly late!) We write a blog post about our writing process, and tag three friends to participate, telling of theirs.

My writing process has morphed over the years. I try different things, but in the end, it’s become a routine I can’t escape:

  • write
  • procrastinate
  • write a bit more
  • get distracted with another project
  • two months later, complete draft
  • ignore draft for a year
  • start new version of story
  • repeat first three steps
  • find perfect scene that motivates me to finish second draft
  • finish draft
  • begin editing a year later
  • possibly repeat entire process

* Sometimes NaNoWriMo speeds me up. That doesn’t count here.

I don’t have a long, elaborate story for my writing process because it’s never adhered to any rules. When my Muse does turn up, he gives hard jobs to do. I’m not sure which one of us is to blame for the rewrites. Do Muses tell you to rewrite a story, or is that a human thing?

I’m always rewriting, coming up with several different versions before I’m happy. A few friends have read them all (every version!) and I’m so grateful–Dissonance would not be coherent without them cheering me on!

I alternate between keyboards, my iPad, and writing by hand. The words I write in a notebook tend to be the ones I keep. At some point I’m going to write a book by hand, just to see how it goes.

Eventually, you learn to stop editing a chapter and let someone else–but not without battling that rewrite instinct! It’s all worth it, though, when I find out someone loved a chapter. That means my time has not been wasted, and I start all over again.

I’m sure in ten years this process will have changed. That’s how art is, never the same, with no formula.

Now I tag Kristia, Monique, J.N. Cahill, and Heather! Can’t wait to hear about your writing processes!

WIPpet Wednesday — birthdays and maps

I was tagged to do a My Writing Process blog post, but I’m incredibly late. I promise it’ll be up soon. I’ve had a crazy weekend!

WIPpet Wednesday is a link-up where every Wednesday, you share an excerpt from your WIP that’s somehow related to the day. My little brother turns 17 today. Since I can’t think of any birthday parties in Dissonance or Elegy, I’ll just snatch an excerpt from chapter 17. Read the other awesome entries here! Thanks to K.L. Schwengel for hosting!

In chapter 17 of Dissonance, Allie’s snooping around someone’s house, where she finds a map of a place difficult to believe in–but impossible to deny. (Every time I read this manuscript, I have to smother my inner editor. I can’t wait to have a professional editor help. But then, this novel will never be perfect to me!)


“The gray is land we lost. Red line indicates a border nobody can cross.”

“How big is it?”

“Naramea is as big as your imagination.” Julian sounded dead serious. Allie wished he was mocking her, but couldn’t be in denial anymore. Everything he told her was impossible but true. “The white is only what’s been charted.”

She finally asked the obvious question. “How do you get there?”

“There are several ways to get there. Staying is a different matter. We’re actually in Bonifay right now, but only until we leave the property.”

Allie found Bonifay on the map. “I…don’t understand.”

“I don’t expect you to yet,” he said gently. “You asked and I answered.”

She opened her mouth and then closed it again.

He ran a sleepy hand through his hair. “Allie, why don’t you come outside with me? Maybe it’ll make sense then.”

“Outside with the things?”

Julian smiled. “Even if they did bite, I wouldn’t let them hurt you.”

(She’s right in being wary to go outside. Muses have strange things in their backyards.)

What happens when we read poetry?

Originally posted on

In an ode to the art of odes, poetry critic Stephen Burt demonstrates through lyrical explication that the practice of poetry is tied to being human. Says Burt, “The patterns in poems show us not just what somebody thought or what someone did or what happened, but what it was like to be a person like that — to be so anxious, so lonely, so inquisitive, so goofy, so preposterous, so brave.” It is, Burt suggests, our ability to imagine the hypothetical that makes poetry work.

But in so many ways poetry is the opposite of work: It can’t apply force or move matter; it can only be, on a page. Indeed, the act of reading a poem is often singularly sedentary, requiring the reader to concentrate fully in a giant arm chair, intently focused. As Auden is oft quoted as saying, “Poetry makes nothing happen.”

The line, from his poem “In…

View original 217 more words

WIPpet Wednesday — what’s a Muse?

Since meeting Kate I’ve found all this cool stuff to do with my blog. Like change the blog title. And contemplate the malice of Muses. And WIPpet Wednesday, hosted by K.L. Schwengel. It’s where you share an excerpt from your current WIP that’s somehow related to the day, so since it’s 7/16, I’ll share 7 lines of chapter 16.

(Okay, it’s actually 10 lines in Scrivener so the excerpt will actually end on a satisfying note. I’m too picky.)


Here’s the linkup if you want to join!



The next question seemed ridiculously overdue. “What’s a Muse?”

“We are servants to music. We bring song to others, delivering beauty to the world. But we must humble ourselves as servants, nothing more. If we become too proud, art will die out.”

“What do you mean, art will die out?”

“Anyone can play a record when they want to hear a song. We’re the ones who wait till it desires to come. Then, when the song finally comes to us…” He made a subtle gesture with his hand, letting go of an invisible load Allie pictured vanishing into thin air. “We give it to someone else.”

*hits Publish and turns off the computer to resist editing impulse*

some research in

Publishing takes a long time. You’ll likely spend many months–perhaps even a year or two–writing your novel. It may take many more months for you to market and sell your work. Then your novel will wait its turn (the publisher has a business plan for what will get published when) to reach bookstore shelves. Then the process repeats itself as you write your next work. There are really no overnight successes–writing careers form over years, sometimes decades.
–Todd A. Stone, Novelist’s Boot Camp

(Maybe it used to take a long time.)

The more I read that paragraph, the more certain I am that I could never count on this path again. It’s just a matter of logic: If I know there’s something else I can do, and all it takes is more dedication and work–if I remember that traditional is no longer a guarantee–I’m not going to choose the long way in anymore. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve chosen an ‘easier path.’

Most bias against self-publishing is due to those who don’t work hard. We see people who don’t proofread their stories, nor do they promote them, leaving a story to float around Amazon for eternity. Unfortunately the world tends to generalize because of them.

But for every hundred people like this, you’ll find ten indie authors who are really putting the effort necessary to make their writing shine like it deserves.

On top of that, said Solomon, “publishers are doing less for what they get. There are still important things they do – a traditional publisher can edit, copy edit, design, market, promote, make your book better, deal with foreign sales. With ebooks, though, publishers’ costs are less, so authors should get a better share. They do not have to produce, distribute or warehouse physical copies. Even on traditional books, publishers’ production costs have gone down but authors have not benefited from these costs savings. And, increasingly authors are being asked to do a lot of marketing and promotion themselves.”

The Guardian: Traditional publishing is ‘no longer fair or sustainable’, says Society of Authors

Since indie publishing is every bit a business as traditional, I’ve been researching. I have plenty of time between now and December to at least get the shadow of an idea what’s coming up.

Every article I’ve found doing my research helps make up my mind. And while I know these facts won’t make the journey simpler, it helps me have no regrets about the choice I made. Going traditional doesn’t guarantee success, or a simple path. I don’t want my life to pass me by while I wait for someone to tell me my book is good. I don’t need a thousand fans–just a few readers will do.

The purpose of writing, for me, has always been to have a career. To connect with readers, to share what I hope are books of escape and hope, and to grow into a more seasoned and skilled author, so I can better serve my readers. But when my books never reach the hands of those readers, it’s less of a career I’m making and more of a dusty library for no one.

Publisher’s Weekly, My Self-Publishing Journey: On Becoming an Indie Author

It’s necessary to prepare for any outcome. If I choose to go traditional, it could be years before I have an outcome at all. I have too many stories to tell, and choose not to wait six years. If I only get ten reviews for each book, I’ll say each one was earned with hard work, and I’ll appreciate even constructive criticism.

This choice is a huge step away from any comfort zone, because I’ll be doing more work than just writing. But I have never been happier than I am now, with this decision, taking the steps to my goal and waiting. It’s a different kind of wait, because I know something’s coming. 

None of this is going to be easy. Whether you go indie or traditional, it really depends on your choices–before and after the book is out. It’s up to you–what you want from your career and books, how long you’re willing to wait for other people to read the story you love, etc.

I’ve found that after so many rewrites, recovering from Carpal Tunnel surgeries, a year querying and waiting, I’m not a patient person. A few people have read my book, and not all of them have finished it–but knowing it’s out there, alive, in peoples’ hands is far better than waiting while it sits in some agent’s inbox.

Not everyone’s going to be like me, and I’d be worried if you were. By all means, make the decision that suits you–but at this point I wouldn’t go back to Plan A. It just seems like a long wait for something that, if I can work hard enough, I’ll have right now.

Think about the options, but please don’t think with bias. I’ve met wonderful people who’ve taken the indie route and done brilliantly. Even though I can’t say for sure how I’ll do, I’m going to give it my best shot; already I’ve had sleepless nights researching to ensure it. This isn’t a game, it’s not a shortcut, you shouldn’t just hit publish.

Writing is a job, and I find it endearing to see people taking matters into their own hands. I won’t wait six years to call myself an author when I have a book right now. Thanks for joining me this far, and I hope you’ll come back to cheer me on when things get really hard!

aren’t all Muses mean?

Aren’t all Muses mean?

My conversations with Kate usually result in some kind of inspiration. Last time, it provided me with an epic new blog title. Baiting a Musetrap was her idea. Now she’s given me food for thought and helped make the second installment of my series more interesting.

You know, when all is said and done, I can’t really say honestly that my Muse characters–even the kind ones–are really any different from our own mean Muses who vanish and give us Writer’s Block.

In fact, none of my Muse characters like to stay in one place long. Many try to be different because it’s the right thing to do, but it doesn’t come naturally. It seems to me that no Muse would ever stay in the same place for long. It’s not that they’re mean.

Usually, we’re the problem. Is the problem really our Muse’s wandering nature, or our own stubborn refusal to obey? If we stopped criticizing ourselves, would they come around longer?

Maybe our personalities make it impossible for Muses to be nice. Maybe they only seem mean because we demand more from them. Maybe we don’t see their kindness because we keep them around for the wrong reasons.

It gave me food for thought.

Oh, I do love world-building.

And Camp NaNo just got far more interesting.

The Alchemist


Two days ago I finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I think it was a beautiful book, and was surprised it has so many bad reviews on Goodreads.

I want to share a passage I thought simply lovely:

“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

The book has mixed reviews, but I found it lovely–quick read, worth every second.

Maybe I’m just not picky enough. I wasn’t annoyed by the allusions to The Bible and the Arabian Nights type setting. I thought it made the book refreshing and different. Only the romance towards the end bothered me a little, because the shepherd boy always seemed very young to my reader’s eye; he just seems so naive during the story that I can’t see romance. But that’s all right–it isn’t the point of the story. There’s a lot more to The Alchemist than romance.

I just don’t see what these reviewers found that irritated them so much. Maybe it’ll be different when I read it a second time.

But I would read this book again, and yes, I recommend it. There’s a reason it’s so popular; for all the haters, I also know many people who like it. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you thought!

what I really do…


Maybe I should stop procrastinating. I’d feel better.

For Camp NaNo, I’m half writing, half editing Elegy, the sequel to Dissonance. I’m so glad to see my writing’s improved–I’ve deleted far less in Elegy than I did back when I was still rewriting Dissonance.

Also, I’m really confused. Nobody seems to know what dissonance means, or how to pronounce it. I know the general rule is to use a title that’ll draw in everyone. It’d make me sad to change my book title, but this summer is one of hard choices.

I’m just disappointed so few people seem to know this really cool word. I’ll think on it.

Finally, I’m reviving my vampire book. I want to see if I can write those characters from four years ago, make them 3D. I really miss those people. (And vampires.) It was a pretty cool plot to begin with, so with experience, could I make it better?

All this to keep procrastinating the one project that really matters right now.

  • I always seem to be 5 books behind in my Goodreads reading challenge, no matter what.
  • I can’t wait to introduce my illustrator. There’s no feeling quite like seeing scenes on paper, the vision of someone else who read it.
  • And my beta makes some pretty epic comments when she edits. I’m going to publish some in a blog post. Because it’s awesome. :-)

This summer is running all over the place. I know it’s headed somewhere but I’m just scrambling to catch up. I can’t wait to read this blog post once I’m there!