Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Revis and Research Placement

What's Up Wednesday is a blog hop created by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay connected and encouraged.  Click here to find out more!

What I'm Reading:  Um... this is embarrassing, but still A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis.  Heavens, have I been reading this thing for like a month now?  In my defense, it is really long, and it is only just now getting interesting!  Ha!

What I'm Writing:

The Bootlegger's Letters:
I had some tricky scenes to write this week, as my MC is actually in the process of making her moonshine.   I had to keep double checking my research and solving all kinds of time-period problems, but I think I might have managed something plausible.   Incidentally, I totally know how to make booze now, so maybe we should have a party...
Goal for next week... Let's get this puppy to 30K.  Oh wait, is Christmas in there somewhere?  Well, that might not happen, but I like to aim high.

What Works for Me:
This is probably so dumb that all of you thought of it a million years ago, but I have started cutting and pasting the relevant research for the scene right into the "notes" part of the Scivener scene.  That way I don't have to flip back and forth between the "research" and the scene.  Plus I can never find anything in the research file anyway, and usually have to re-look it up, which wastes time, so this is a much better system for me.  Duh, right?

What Else is Going On:
Tonight I get to go out with some of my best girls and stuff our faces with cheese and chocolate at The Melting Pot!  I am pretty dang excited about it.  Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Million Suns and Santa

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a writerly blog hop started by Erin Funk and Jamie Marrow.  Find out more here.

What I'm Reading:  Still trudging through A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis.  Hasn't picked up much since last week, I am sorry to say.  And I am still reading my CP's Contemp YA.  Good stuff there.

What I'm Writing:  I managed to bang out a few more scenes in my WIP which is called THE BOOTLEGGER'S LETTERS.  I am almost to 20K again- which is where I was when I hacked out the boy POV chapters!  But it is going much better now.  My goal for the next week would be to add another 6K.

What Works for Me:  I recently took an online class from the University of Iowa called "How Writers Write Fiction".  That particular class wasn't all that amazing, but I'd love to take another one- with specific aspects of writing covered.  Has anyone taken one that they found very helpful?  Preferably FREE???

What Else is Going on:  We are in full swing Christmas mode around here.  I took the kiddos to see Santa this week.  They were so cute.  It's always a huge curveball what they ask Santa for, though.  This year my daughter wanted a cookbook and a REAL MasterChef Junior apron.  My son asked for a snowman.  I don't really know what to do with that.  Lol.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Starting from Scratch (almost)

Welcome to What's Up Wednesday, a blog hop created by Erin Funk and Jaimie Morrow.  You can read all about it here!

What I've Been Reading:  I have been reading my CP's manuscript lately, and I am really enjoying her edits.  And in my spare time I have been reading A MILLION SUNS, which I am actually having a hard time getting into.  It is the sequel to ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, which I thought was awesome, so I am going to press on.

What I've Been Writing:  Well, that is the real question.  My WIP and I had a bit of a stand off.  I was trying to do DPOV, and found myself hating every blasted page.  I finally thrust it at my CP 20K words in, and she confirmed what I already knew.  His chapters were blah, her chapters were amaze balls.  That may not be a direct quote.  Anyway, I had to basically cut my word count in half by carefully removing his scenes, and then I had to re-write a few important scenes in my girl's perspective but I think it was well worth it.  The chapters flow now, and the voice is spot on, if I do say so myself.  And the best part is... I am not dreading heading to my computer each day.

What works for Me:  This month, just allowing myself to get behind in my word count goal, but to hopefully end up with a better product when I'm finished.  When it's not working, you know.  You feel it.  I'm not talking about that self doubt that we all have mid-way through our manuscripts (you know what I'm talking about, right?  Right?)  I mean serious THIS IS NOT WORKING feelings.  You gotta listen to those.  If it's not fun to write it, it's not gonna be fun to read it.

What Else is Happening:  I am still deep in the query trenches for my first novel COMMITTED.  I have had lots of interest, but I am still in waiting limbo.  Dear Agent, wherever you are, I AM WAITING FOR YOU AND I ALREADY LOVE YOU.  Love, ME

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conference and Computer

Technically, today is Tuesday, but I wanted to make sure I didn't miss another What's Up Wednesday!  WUW is a blog hop for writers created by Jaimi and Erin.  Visit this page for more information and to find out how you can play along!
What I'm Reading:  I just finished THE HATE LIST by Jennifer Brown, a YA author who I just met at SCBWI conference.  Jennifer taught several of the sessions and she was brilliant and practical.  It's also cool that she lives right by me.

What I'm Writing:  My YA HIST is going SLOW.  I keep telling myself it's because I know more now  but it might just be because I didn't sign up for Nano!   I decided I wanted my word count goal for this one to be closer to 70K, so I am giving myself to the end of December.  Right now I am at 20K, so I better pick up the pace!

What Works for Me:  I'll tell ya what works for me... MY NEW MACBOOK AIR!  It is a dream, people.  A beautiful, shiny, silver dream.  It's lightening on it's feet, and my fingers fly across the keys.  Compared to my old laptop... You have no idea.  One time it took me forty minutes just to open Scrivner on that beast.  So I am loving my new equipment.  What shall I name her?

What Else I've Been Up To:  As mentioned above, I got to go to SCBWI conference in Kansas.  It was so amazing and inspiring.  When I think back at going to conference last year, I can be really proud of all the writing progress I have made!  I felt like a real author this time around!

What's up with you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rum Runners and Morgue Visits

Hello friends!  Let's play a little game of "What's Up Wednesday"!  WUW is a blog hop created by Jaime and Erin to help writers connect.  Click here to see how you can join in the fun.

What I'm Reading:  I just started BLACK DUCK by Janet Taylor Lisle. It is about a rum runner's boat during prohibition.  My "research reads" pile is slowly getting smaller.

What I'm Writing:  Still researching for my YA Hist Fic.  My outline is coming along nicely, and I have found answers to some of my pressing questions.

What Works for Me:  Field Trips!  Nothing inspires me more than visiting an actual setting in my work.    Midway through my first draft of COMMITTED (a YA Hist Thriller that takes place in an asylum) I took a little trip to a real asylum turned museum.  It was fascinating, and I got to add lots to juicy details and sensory images to my WIP.

PS- the weird look on my face is due to the fact that I was ALL ALONE in the morgue when my phone decided to do this weird malfunction with all the blurry orbs flying around everywhere... I snapped my selfie and got the heck out of there!

What Else is Going on:  My husband whisked the kids away to visit his parents last weekend, so I got three whole days to myself!  You would think I would have been really productive and gotten a bunch of stuff done, but really I did this:

My sister-in-law and I, goofing off.

PS- I realize that I have been the world's worst comment-backer, so if you comment this week I swear that I will reply!  Cross my heart!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hello Friends!  Welcome to another addition of "What's Up Wednesday," our friendly neighborhood blog hop.  Creators Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk have information on their blogs about how you can join in the fun!

What I'm Reading:  I just finished VIXEN by Jillian Larkin.  While I enjoyed the period details and the plot, I found some of the slang a little overused, and I didn't think there was enough distinction between the three girls who were the main characters.  
Next on my Prohibition Reading List is LUCK OF THE BUTTONS by Anne Ylvisaker.
It is MG, and I have only gotten to the second chapter so far but I am loving the main character and the storytelling.

What I am Writing:  Still researching and outlining for my next project.  Sigh.  I miss drafting.  But I know if I don't do this front-end work I would just stare blankly at a blinking cursor during writing time, and that isn't any fun either.

What Works for Me:  I tried something new this time around that I thought I would share with you guys.  I wanted to get a firm grip on my MC girl's personality, mostly because it is quite different from my own.  She is scientific and logical, yet not afraid to break rules.  She is shy a lot of the time, and enjoys time alone.  I wanted to know what other kinds of personality traits often accompany these, and so I took a free personality quiz online as my character.  It was fun answering the questions for Amelia, and it made me think hard about what choices she would make in different situations.  At the end, the site gave me a whole slew of information about this type of personality in relationships, in stress, etc.  I liked it so much I did it again as my boy MC.  There are a lot of these tests out there, but here is the one I used.

What Else is Going On:  We took our Camper (named Lennie) and our two children on the last camping trip of the season last weekend.  The kids had a great time riding bikes and fishing.  I have often wondered (while packing for days for a one night camping trip) what is the magic of camping?  I think the reason we love it is because it forces us to stay in close quarters for several hours at a time!  No phones, no computers, no TVs (ok, we do have a TV in the camper, but we rarely use it.)  Good old Family Time with a capital FT!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Flappers and Campers

Hello, Wednesday Warriors, and welcome to What's Up Wednesday, a writerly blog hop hosted by Erin Funk and Jaime Morrow.  Visit their blogs to find out how you can play along!

What I'm Reading:  I am trying to read through a huge stack of comps for my November WIP, and the one I am currently devouring is VIXEN by Jillian Larken.   I love it when historical fiction can be cool and edgy and relevant to today's readers like this one.  Hopefully my own will turn out that way as well.  Which brings me to...

What Am I Writing:  I am currently outlining for my Nano project.  It is a fun YA set during prohibition, called THE BOOTLEGGER'S LETTERS.

What Works for Me:  This is probably not that helpful of a tip, but right now I am querying my YA Historical Thriller COMMITTED, and of course you have to keep track of who has received all those brilliant letters.  I personally like to hand-write out the agent's name, agency, date, and response in one spiral notebook.  That way I don't have to open up a spreadsheet file or any of that nonsense.  Something about handwriting that big "R" after each agent's name makes you feel like you are really accomplishing something, right?

What Else is Happening:
Getting ready to go on our last camping trip of the season this weekend.  Can't wait for snuggles and S'mores with these guys!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bootlegging and Outlining

What's Up Wednesday time!  For more information about this blog hop created by Jaime and Erin visit their blogs.  It just a fun way for writers to stay connected!

What I'm Reading:  I am about half way through MOONSHINER's GOLD by John R. Erickson .  I am trying to read a bunch of books set during prohibition before I start my nano project.  Even though the story is not close to mine, I think it's a good way to get those kind of voices in your head.

What I'm Writing:  I am outling my nano project which I think I have titled THE BOOTLEGGER'S LETTERS.  The hook is "Breaking Bad meets You've Got Mail set in the Prohibition".  My word count goal is 70K for this one, as it is YA, and I am a little bit intimidated by that number.  That's a lot of scenes folks!  I am not one of those people who "overwrites" and has to cut my word count by half.  Not. At. All.  So this will be a challenge for me.  I also joined an online modern day moonshiner's forum this week with a profile and everything hoping to meet some "expert consultants".  The things we do as research...

What Works for Me:  I am trying a new thing with my outline this time where I include a column in the spreadsheet for Conflict and Goodies.  Conflict is exactly how it sounds.  I want to make sure there is tension in every scene.  Goodies are just the little bits that make a scene exciting to read (and write).  I want to make sure there is something interesting and fun or exciting in every scene as well.

What Else I've Been Up To:  I had a near nervous breakdown with my two year old this week and after throwing a teensy tiny fit to my husband, I convinced him that Mama needs a break.  Two mornings a week of Parents Day Out?  Yes please!  I am so excited!  I will actually get to go to the dentist, or go get my eyebrows waxed.  I love my son, but gosh it will be great to drop him off!  LOL

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

FANGIRL's Biggest Fangirl

Hello, My Wednesday Writerly Friends!  It's time for another episode of "What's Up Wednesday", the blog hop that keeps us writers connected.  To find out more, or to see how you can play along, check out Jaime's Blog.

What I'm Reading:  I am about halfway through with Rainbow Rowell's FANGIRL.  I am probably the only YA writer in the world that hasn't read this one, am I not?  Well I am loving it.  Rowell nails voice.  Period.  Her characters pop off the page when they talk, and I dig that.

What I'm Writing:  More queries for COMMITTED this week, and even a few requests (YAY!)  I am almost done with third-round edits of my MG Sci-Fi story, UNDER THE BLUE, and I am getting ready to pass it on to Betas.  And I have started researching for Nano in November.  I will give you more details on that when I have them.  Haha.

NEW QUESTION:  What Works for Me:  Well, I have written four novels now, and my method has definitely evolved.  In my first attempted I believe I googled "How to Write a Novel" and found beat sheets.  Those might work well for other people, but I had trouble getting from beat to beat.  In my next attempt, I made an outline which I ran out of about 20K into the story... ooops.  Had to improvise after that.  By my third book I at least knew that my average scene length was 1,500 words and that I could comfortably write that in one setting.  So that gave me a better idea of how many scenes I needed.  How long are your scenes usually?  Is there an industry standard?

What Else is Going On:  My two year old is driving me up a wall.  One minute he is ridiculously cute, the next minute I want to beat him within an inch of his life.  Someone please tell me that a disobedient/defiant child can grow into a healthy member of society?!?  I need success stories in the comments.  Like, "My child was horrible, but then he turned four and started to listen to everything I said..."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

With a Pitch-Pitch Here and a Pitch-Pitch There...

It's what day of the week now?  Wednesday you say?  Well then, it's time for... "What's up Wednesday," a blog hop for cool writers such as myself.  If you want to know more about WUW or how you can join in the fun visit Jaime Morrow's blog.

What I'm Reading:  I am about half way through ABOVEWORLD by Jenn Reece.  I found it on a list of MG Sci-Fi, and I may end up using it as a comp for UNDER THE BLUE.  Does anyone have any other good recommendation for a middle grade sci-fi story?

What I'm Writing:  A whole lot of query letters!  It is actually making my brain hurt a little.  Especially the right side, which longs to write something more creative than "I look forward to hearing from you."

What's Inspiring Me Right Now:  I got really nice comments from my non-mentors for Pitch Wars, and they all pretty much said to just keep going.  Which I plan on doing.  I also got two requests from PitMad yesterday, so fingers crossed!

What Else is Going On:  My Kindergartener has lost two teeth in the last two weeks!  Tooth fairy has been working overtime!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Up To My Elbows in Edits

Hey Everyone!  I just realized (with a jolt) that it was once again Wednesday, and I have been missing in action for the last couple of weeks from our friendly neighborhood blog hop!  What's Up Wednesday is a fun way for authors to connect.  Find out more on Jaime Morrow's blog.

What I'm Reading:  I just finished UNGIFTED by Gordon Korman, and I loved his MG voice.  I thought the plot was clever and the characters were fun. Some of the Goodreads reviews said that they felt like gifted students were being stereotyped in this book (no social skills,  Starwars fans, etc.) , so that is something to consider, but overall, I really liked it.

What I'm Writing:  I am deep in the editing trenches for the next couple of months y'all.  I have three manuscripts that need work, so that is what I'm writing.  Not very exciting, I know...

What's Inspiring Me:  I have really enjoyed the twitter community and support surrounding Pitch Wars.  For me, it's a little bit like buying a lottery ticket.  Your chances of actually winning aren't that great, but the weeks of dreaming are worth the price of the ticket.  I did get pages requested from one of my mentors, so I consider that a win already.  At least it means my query and first chapter aren't total crap, right?  Not so inspiring is Writeoncon for me right now.  I have had some comments that were a little harsh, I feel.  But I guess all of that helps me get better, right?  

What Else is Going On:  My daughter started Kindergarten, and so far she is loving it.  I miss her during the day, but not as much as my two year old son does.  The two of us have had a lot of one on one time lately, so that is good.

Hope you all have been keeping busy!  Let me know what you've been up to!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Revisions and... More revisions

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a blog hop sponsored by Jaime and Erin.  You can look here for more information and how to play along.

What I'm Reading: I just picked up GUY IN REAL LIFE by Steve Brezenoff at the library, but I haven't even cracked the cover yet.  I'll let you know what I think later. Here is the the Goodreads blub:

It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.
But they don't.
This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other's lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn't belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren't in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends-and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all.

UPDATE:  I actually DID start reading this yesterday and it is pretty much ELANOR and PARK meets READY PLAYER ONE, two books I adore, so I am pretty into this one!

What I'm Writing:  Hopefully this category will be pretty boring for a while because I finished my draft of MARTY PERKINS (my Mary Poppins remake), and I have two (okay three) other drafts that need serious editing, so that will be my mantra for the next several months.  Although, I do know what I want to write next and it will be hard to resist...

What's Inspiring Me:  PITCH WARS!!!! Oh my gracious, if God would smile on me and have one of these amazing mentors choose my manuscript to critique I would SMILE SO HARD.  And jump up and down!  Maybe even pee my pants a little, who knows?    

What Else is Going On:  My teeny tiny baby daughter is starting Kindergarten in just a few short days!  Mom is not okay with this.  Not okay at all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Paper Towns and Parent Trips

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a blog hop sponsored by Jaime and Erin.  You can look here for more information and how to play along.

What I'm Reading:  I just finished the brilliant John Green's Paper Towns and I loved it.  But is it just me or were the two MC's in Paper Towns exactly like the two MCs in Looking for Alaska?  The whole time I was reading I was just like: 1- Mysterious wild girl 2- Sort of nerdy boy who is way less cool than her but obviously in love with her.  3- They go on adventures and she makes him be brave 4.  She dies (or almost dies, whatevs).  So while I loved the book, I felt like it was pretty dang similar.  I will say I liked Paper Towns better, and I will totally see the movie when it comes out!

What I'm Writing-  I am rounding the last lap of Camp Nanowrimo and at the time of this blog draft I was up to 46K of my 50K goal.  Beings that I still have two nap times and one library session to finish I think I am in good shape.  This is my MG Mary Poppins retelling, where Mary is actually Marty, a manny with tattoos and an attitude.  This project has been completely different from anything else that I have ever written, but wait, I say that every time!  Maybe I should pick a genre and go with it, eh?

What's Inspiring Me:  My son is the potty training champion of the world all of a sudden.  We have had several good days in a row where I have had to clean up nary a puddle or a turd.  Woo Hoo!

What Else is Going On:  I'll tell ya what else- my hubs and I are headed to Eureka Springs, AR this weekend for some kid-free fun!  I plan on zip-lining, taking a train tour and possibly a ghost tour!  But let's be serious.... I mostly just want to eat and sleep in!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

F-Bombs and Tinkled Shoes

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a weekly blog hop sponsored by Jamie.  Check out her blog for more details and how you can play along.

What I'm Reading:  I just finished TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz.  It is about a quasi gay merman and some magic fish.  I loved the premise, and I read the thing in just a few short days, but I only gave it three stars on Goodreads.  Why only three, you ask?  Excessive use of the f-word.  I know that this makes me sound like an old fuddy-duddy and a goody-two-shoes and all other sorts of hyphenated insults, but Oh. My. Word.  F-bombs on every page.  Sometimes twice in a sentence.  I totally get how using profanity is a part of writing voice, and it's not like none of my characters cuss, but I found it distracting enough here that it pulled me out of the story.  What do you think about excessive use of swearing in YA?  And what is excessive?

What I'm Writing:  I am still plugging away at my Mary Poppins remake, and I am just past 35K.  It has been rough trying to get writing time in since we have had house guests NON STOP this month, so I will probably need to get a few trips to the library in to finish my 50K by the end of the month.

What is Inspiring Me:  My daughter, who is five, carries around a little notebook and a pen and says that she is an "Are-fur" like Mommy!  Love, love, love this girl.  I can't believe she will be starting kindergarten in just a few short weeks!

What Else is Going On:  We are still in potty training hell.  Took my kids bowling today and my son peed in the rental shoes.  Sigh.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Partial Request and a Pantless Sucess

Woops, I missed a few Wednesday in there!  It's time for a What's Up Wednesday update!  WUW is a blog hop sponsored by Jaime.  You can get all the details and find out how you can play along by stopping by her blog.
What I'm Reading:  I just finished IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma.  It took me a few chapters to really get into it, but it turned out to be a delightfully creepy and very well written read.  The relationship between the sisters, Ruby and Chloe was what really got me hooked.

What I'm Writing:  What I'm writing is a sh#t-ton of words!  LOL.  Am I allowed to say that?  I am particiapting in my third Nanowrimo, and so that is the main reason I have miss the last few updates, because all my writing time is going to drafting my new WIP.  It has been a lot of fun so far!  I am writing a MG humor, a retelling of Mary Poppins.

What's Inspiring Me:  My CP Jennie.  She is killing it on the word count lately, and I can tell she is really loving her WIP.  Also, I got my first partial request this last weekend, so that was pretty exciting.  Opened an email expecting a rejection and BAM, they want more.  Pretty cool.

What Else is Going On:  My family has entered the seventh circle of hell other wise known as POTTY TRAINING.  My two and a half year old son has been running around pantsless and adorable for the last three days, and he is acutally doing really well.  As long as he is naked.  If you put underware on him, bad things happen.   My friends say this is great progress, but I have to wonnder if you can really consider your kid potty trained if they can't wear pants or leave the house.  Hmmm.  Hope you all have a great week!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

UNSOULED in The Fountain City

Is it Wednesday again?!?  That means it's time for WUW!  What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime and  Erin Funk, to help connect writers on this writing journey. Visit their blogs for more information!

WHAT I'M READING:  This week I finished Neal Shusterman's UNSOULED, the third book in the Unwind Series.  It is a major testament to this series that even though I read books one and two a LONG time ago, I still remembered the main characters and most of what was going on.  I can't wait to read book four, which comes out soon.  Or maybe it's already out, but the dang library didn't have it yet.  Neal's acknowledgments hinted at movies to come, which would make me pretty excited.  

WHAT I'M WRITING:  Banging out that rough draft for THE WAR IN CABIN 12.  I actually got away to the library last night and got 3,000 words further down the road.  I am getting close to the end, so hopefully I can type THE END pretty soon.

WHAT'S INSPIRING ME RIGHT NOW:  Tonight I get to go see THE FAULT IN OUR STARS on the big screen with some good friends.  I know, I know, I am probably the only card-carrying John Green Fangirl that hasn't seen it yet, but I was waiting for a few people to read the book first.  Which they didn't.  Cause that's how book clubs go.  Can you imagine writing a book that gets made into a movie?!?  How amazing would that be!

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO:  Well the float trip last weekend was amazing.  At least the parts I can remember.  Probably shouldn't be saying that since I am supposed to be a YA Author.  Sorry future publicist.  And this weekend I get to see two of my besties from high school who have since moved to California and Colorado respectively.   I feel a lot of pressure to hype up Kansas City to these girls...  BBQ and Boulevard it is!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

French Kissing and River Floating

Hey Writers and Readers!  Hope you had another productive week out there in aspiring author land!  This is another fantastic addition of Niki's "What's up Wednesday", a blog hop sponsored by Jaime and Erin.  You can find out exactly what it is and how you can join by checking out Jaime's blog here.

What I'm Reading:  I just finished ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins.  I know, I know, what took me so long, right?  I am not usually big into contemporary YA (I love me some Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Paranormal, etc.) but man oh man the voice on this one was right on.  The only reason I didn't give it five stars on Goodreads instead of four was that I didn't like the message that was subtly portrayed that if you are in love with someone you can't help but make out with them.  Sorry teens, but that isn't how life works.  Sometimes you have to control yourself even if you are SUPER in love.  I am the romance killer and make-out party pooper.  But other than that, I loved it.

What I'm Writing:  I am still plugging away at my camp story (which is contemp YA despite what I said above, lol).  Not sure that  I am going to have a complete first draft by the end of June like I had hoped, though.  I still have about 20-30K to write, and my sessions have been sporadic at best lately.  Maybe I can work in some library nights next week to try and knock some of that out?  I'd like to have it tucked away in a drawer with a big bow on top before I start my next project (Camp Nano in July).

What's Inspiring Me Right Now:  Um, has anyone else been binge watching  season two of Orange is the New Black???  Cause I have.  Even though the setting of my book is summer camp and not prison, I have been stealing some fun character traits from our girls in orange.  Also, I learn so much about prison from that show...

What Else Is Going On:  The only other thing that has been on my brain this week is FLOAT TRIP!!!  My husband and I get to spend this weekend leisurely floating down the Niangua River, drinking lots of "adult beverages" and having a crazy fun, kid-free weekend!  YAY!  I can't wait to drop those little angles off with the grandparents and meet up with some of our zany friends.

So that was my week!  What have you been up to?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rain Rain, Stay Away!

Hey all you What's Up Wednesday Writers!  I thought I might hop on board this gravy train, and try and keep myself on schedule for blogging!  If you want more info about WUW, check out Jaime's blog.   So here goes...

WHAT I'M READING:   I just started reading GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE PEOPLE TAKER, it is a creepy/funny MG with amazing personality.  I sometimes sit the fence on whether I would like to write YA or MG.  

WHAT I'M WRITING:  I recently picked up a half finished attempt at a YA camp story, that is entitled THE WAR IN CABIN 12.  Rereading it made me chuckle, so I am currently trying to finish it up.  Had a few plotting problems this week that resulted in me taking naps instead of writing.  Oops.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW:  We finally have some sunshine here in KC, after a few days of rain.  I am much more energized when it is sunny outside.  

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO:  My son, Roman, just turned two AND A HALF.  Every time another half year goes by, I am always shocked.  We are deep in the middle of the terrible twos around here, but that's okay.  Sometimes I have to laugh at my son so that I don't throttle him, ya know?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Book Signing

I went to the Epic Reads "Dark Days Tour" on Monday night!  It featured five different YA authors who have written darker themed books.  COMMITTED would have fit right in!  The authors answered some questions on a panel about their writing process, so it was fascinating for me as an aspiring author.  It seems ridiculous that anyone would stand in line for my autograph, but who knows?  This is me with Danielle Page, the author of DOROTHY MUST DIE, a fun retelling of THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Wow, April just flew by, and I am now the proud author of a new completed rough draft!  Sadly, it still doesn't have a title, but perhaps something will come to me during the revisions.  This one was a MG adventure, and I am really loving writing for that age group.  Maybe I have found my niche.

I got my comments back from my faithful Beta Readers, and they have been very helpful.  I am currently going through COMMITTED another time, to get it really polished up and hopefully ready to submit soon.

So now the big question is... What to write next???  I am in the brainstorming phase, and have been batting around a couple of ideas, but haven't firmly settled on anything yet.    Writers group is tonight, though, and my CP Jennie is always good for bouncing ideas around!

My goals for this month:  Finish revisions of COMMITTED and settle on an idea for book #3!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Five Things Your Beta Readers Should Know

I put my baby MS into the hands of Beta readers last week, and here is the letter that I sent them with the completed document!

Welcome Beta Readers!

First of all, THANK YOU so much for volunteering (?) to help me with this project.  Your love and support mean so much to me!  Here are a couple of things I wanted to share with you about being a Beta Reader:

1.        Please keep in mind that this my first attempt at a novel.  I am SO aware that it is not J.K.  Rowlings quality, and what I would HATE is if you were reading the thing thinking “Oh, that poor girl.  She thinks she is gonna get this piece of crap published.”  Ha!  Even though this is my first novel and hopefully not up to the same standard as things I will write later, I think it is important for me to go through the entire editing process, to make it the very best piece of crap that I can write, and to practice the whole procedure of submitting my work.  Practice makes less crappy crap.
2.       I NEED YOU.  I have read this thing so many times, my brain literally is fixing the mistakes as I read, so they are really hard to catch.  I also need a month away from this book so I can look at it with fresh eyes in May.
3.       So what is your job then?  Well first of all, you are not “line editors”.  You don’t need to read super slowly, checking and rechecking for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes.  Is that a dangling participle???  That being said, if you do catch some of that when reading, please do comment.  But your number one job is to read like a reader- for fun, and to tell me what you like and don’t like about the book.  The MORE SPECIFIC THE COMMENTS THE BETTER.  For example, highlighting a sentence and saying “This sentence sucks,”  doesn't help me very much.  More helpful comments would include:
1.        This sentence is too choppy, or too long.
2.       I am confused, had to reread.
3.       Would this character really say that?
4.       Is this possible in 1933 (when the book takes place)
5.       I feel like she would be more freaked out by this.
6.       I am not feeling the love between these characters.
7.       You already talked about that earlier.
8.       Find a better description.
9.       This scene would have been better earlier or later in the book.
10.    I want  to know more about…
Obviously, these are just suggestions, and I would love to hear anything and everything you have to say, but please do not feel like you have to BLOW SMOKE UP MY BUTT.  If you tell me it’s the best book you have ever read based on the first page I am gonna pretty much disregard the rest of your comments.
4.        Shortcuts:  You can highlight words that are used too frequently.  Sometimes I use the same words over and over and it would be great to pick different words.

If a sentence would be better without a word or phrase, just comment “nix” for me to take it out.
5.        Google Docs- Probably should have started with this one, but if you don’t have a way to view Google Docs you are out of luck.  It would be crazy expensive to make hard copies for all of you, and I would have to sludge through all seven copies to see your comments when editing.  On google docs, your comments will all be together, and you will be able to see each others comments.  If you disagree with someone please do so respectfully.  So COMMITTED will be uploaded for your viewing pleasure by April 1, and I would like for you to be done reading and commenting by May 1.  It is a pretty short book comparatively speaking, so I think you should be able to do it.  I WILL NOT LOOK AT ANY OF THE COMMENTS UNTIL MAY 1, because, like I said, my brain needs a break, so don’t expect any kind of reply from me until after then.  You can always text me if you have a comment that you would like me to read immediately, like “OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!”

Thanks again, and I hope you don’t think I am a dark and twisty sociopath after reading this.
Love, NIKI

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I think I have carpel tunnel syndrome.   I have been typing my fingers into little nubs this last week and here is why:  I decided to give myself a little challenge.  A deadline.   Nothing like putting your feet to the fire!  By the end of this month (less than a week!!!) I want to have Committed ready for Beta readers.  My writing partner and I have been working double time to make that happen.  And my goal for April is to have a rough draft of my untitled MG adventure completed.  I am going to be participating in Camp Nanowrimo,  an online word count challenge,  which should help to keep me on track.  I am hoping to come back to Committed in May with fresh eyes and reader comments and be able to complete the final round of revisions by the summer.  Ready,  set, go!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I just finished reading "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" by Laini Taylor and I could not put it down!  Reading excellent books in your genre is an education for aspiring writers like me, and here's why this one was so inspiring...

1.  The plot arc on this baby was excellent.   There was never a dull moment and new information was revealed at a very satisfying rate.  The stakes were high for the heroine and as a reader we felt the crunch!

2.  The world building was well done.  This is a story that makes you think about something you think you know about in a new way!  How's that for a terrible sentence?  But I love a book that can turn a legend on its head, and this book does that really well.

3.  The characters were well developed and loveable (who doesn't love star crossed lovers?).  They were so engaging in fact that I actually cried at the end.   At the dinner table,  in front of my whole family (because I couldn't put the thing down to eat!). 

So I gave "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" five stars on goodreads,  and I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy!  I wonder what it would be like to write something that makes a complete stranger cry at the dinner table?!?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Going Places

What's a writer to do when inspiration is thin?  Go someplace new!  This weekend my hubby and I got to go on a romantic date night and we rather spontaneously decided to visit The Fantastic Caverns, in Springfield, MO, on the way.  
This is one of the largest caverns in the world and it is full of history.  My mind was whirling with possibilities!  There's nothing like stepping into a place that has barely changed in hundreds of years to get you inspired!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Three Ways to Make Yourself a Writer

To become a writer is easy.  All you have to do is...WRITE!  But there are some things that you can do to get yourself motivated to dust off the laptop and start plotting.  Here are three suggestions.

1.  Have a designated writing time and stick to it.  Every weekday, from 1-3 pm you will find me pecking away at my laptop.  The dishes might be piled in the sink, the laundry is surely a mountain in the hallway, but I have decided to treat writing like a job, so it takes priority.  And low and behold those other things manage to get done one way or another.  Maybe all you can allot for your writing is thirty minutes in the mornings, or an hour before bed, but if you set that time aside as sacred writing time, you will be amazed at how much you can actually accomplish!

2.  Create an Office.  It doesn't have to be a traditional office, but it should have everything you need to write, a place to put your coffee, and no beds or chores in sight.  I write in my living room, in a cozy leather chair, with my coffee sitting haphazardly in the drawer of the china cabinet within arms reach.  From this luxurious vantage, I can't see the kitchen (a bio hazard) or my laundry pile (Everest).  And most importantly, it is far, far away from my bed, which calls to me like a sea full of sirens.

3.  If you don't know what to write, write anyway.  Here's the thing, you are not going to wake up each and every morning, brimming with inspiration and ideas.  You just have to jump in and start writing sans muse at times.  But a funny thing will happen if you just make yourself start typing... You will probably put together some words.  And those words tend to run together into sentences, Before you know it you have a whole page full of something (sometimes its totally crap, I'm not gonna lie.)   Writing time is never wasted time, and who knows, your next best seller might appear in the midst of those uninspired words!

So go get writing!  I'll go do the same!