The Trials of Writing the Next Book

Jul 23, 2013

Thank you all so much to people who donated and spread the word about my sister and her family after their house fire! They received so much help in so many forms, and their family is doing well. Human beings are amazing!

In writing news, I'm working on a new book. And I swear, it's going to kill me. Every book I write is a new challenge in some way. I've developed strengths from working on previous books, and those are being applied-- but I'm also hoping to develop new strengths writing the current book, which means trying things I've never done before.

If I wrote by hand, this whole page would be
crossed out... source
That makes it hard. But you know what else makes it hard? WRITING THAT DAG-GONE FIRST DRAFT. Even the parts that should be easy now because, heck, you wrote some pretty decent characters with one pretty twisty plot before-- well, those parts are not easy. Not in a first draft.

Because you forget. You've spent so much time revising and editing and cutting and adding and tweaking your last book to get it oh-so-close-to-perfect, that you forget how much you DON'T KNOW in the first draft. In my last book, I made all sorts of tweaks to bring out a strong voice for my character.

But this one? I'm getting super frustrated because the voice is bland and boring and isn't actually a voice at all as much as me just hammering out words that create a decent sentence. And then I get frustrated that I'm frustrated, because how can I know my character's voice when I haven't even written her yet? I haven't created those moments where I find out who she is.

It takes a few drafts, at least for me, to find those things out.

And you know what? That's okay. I have to just keep repeating the mantra: First drafts suck and that's okay, just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing writing writing...

But you know what I love about writing that next book? All the excitement of discovering those little things about a new story that you KNOW are going to make it great. In a few drafts.

So, my friends, what trials do you face when writing a new book? And I'm curious, what are you writing now? My new book is a fantasy with magic based on labyrinths and combat styles from India, with an African culture flare. What's yours?

A Personal Tragedy: Asking for help after my sister's house fire

Jul 11, 2013

This morning, I woke up to news I'm still trying to process. My sister Kylee and her family lost their home to a fire last night. The fire started in the garage, and my sister was able to dash into the house and get her baby out before it spread. Her husband also escaped uninjured, and we are all incredibly grateful they are all safe.

Kylee and me at our other sister's wedding.
The garage was gutted, and a portion of the house destroyed. What wasn't burned was melted from the heat, or severely smoke-damaged. Basically, they lost everything, or close to it. And now I'm asking for your help. If you can donate money or items, or even just spread the word, it would go a long way to helping Kylee, Joey, and baby Jakob get their feet under them.

I started a fundraising page, so if you're inclined to donate, you can do that here.

If you have items you'd be willing to donate, you can find a list of what they need and how to contact me on the same website. (Or you can just email me.)

If you can even just tweet a link to this post, or blog or Facebook about it to spread the word, that would help so much.

The fire damage
When we told my 3-year-old son that his aunt's house had burned down, he said, "I can fix her house! I'm good at fixing things!" I know the writing community is also so good at "fixing things." I hate to ask for things, but Kylee is my sister, and I love her dearly, so now I'm asking for your help. Because she desperately needs it.

Thank you so much, my friends.

Defining your Physical Space to Promote Creativity-- The Feng Shui of Writing

Jul 1, 2013

Okay, so I actually know next to nothing about Feng Shui. But when I was at the LDStorymakers conference in May, Sandra Tayler did a whole class on structuring your life to promote creativity. One thing in particular stuck out to me: your physical space.

See, I don't have an office. Or a desk. Or even a little nook to do my writing. I have...wherever I take my laptop. A corner of the couch or the kitchen table usually is what I get, and it works. But sometimes, I really, REALLY wish I had an actual, dedicated space for writing. Somewhere that is just for that, where I can escape just a bit from the rest of life and focus on the lives I'm creating with words.

In her class, Sandra pointed out that you DO need some kind of space that is completely dedicated to your writing. That physical space is like a trigger to your brain: "It's writing time now." So what's a writer to do when you don't have a room just for writing? need a space. That doesn't necessarily mean a room. Or a nook or desk or whatever. Your writing space can be encapsulated in something as small as-- get this-- a laptop.

It's writing time! And cute baby time! (My baby's
cuter. Just sayin'.) source
One of Sandra's ideas was to have something you could (literally or figuratively) open and close. This idea works really well for me. When my laptop is open, it's writing time. When it's closed, it's mommy time. Of course, this doesn't always work perfectly. I still mess around on the internet when the laptop's open, and I have writing ideas while I'm mommy-ing that I jot down so I can play with them later when it's writing time again.

In general, though, my laptop is MY SPACE. I even "decorate" it, putting up rotating background pictures that relate to my current project. It's helped a lot to keep me focused so I don't start feeling frazzled. It really has started to "train my brain" to write when the computer is open, and it's like the whole writing section of my brain opens along with my laptop!

So, my friends, what is your space? Is it dedicated to your writing? And how's writing and life going for ya'll since I've been MIA for a while?

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