Prepping for Battle

I’ve done NaNoWriMo technically twice, but last year I did not truly participate due to my mother-in-law passing away on November 2nd. However, last year I did do writing prep in October, and if you are curious about previous blogs, click here for a list of them. I won in 2014, but I wound up completely scrapping my project half way through (20ish thousand words) and starting over.  In the end I wrote over 50k, but I only kept about 30k.  Sad days.

This year, I’m hoping not to do any of that craziness. I’m going to start working on my story now, and it is a project I started earlier this year.  A friend has been helping with some research, I have pinterest board, and for the first time ever, I’ve almost completely plotted out a story.

So when prepping for battle, be aware that nothing goes as planned. Some people may argue that since I scrapped what I had and restarted, I may not have won in 2014. To me, I did. I wrote all of that, even if I went crazy, switched perspectives, added characters, and completely rewrote what I had to the point of adding new scenes and a new narrative. Not at all what I planned.  If you cannot tell, I do not usually plan much.

This year, I hope to change that. The story I wrote in 2014, actually came from a short story I wrote about Dragons, and a dragon ride (the first in centuries).  The short story was great. I pantsed it and went on with the story. I decided instead of third I wanted to do first. I fleshed the story out so much more.  Then after NaNo, when I was trying to finish it, I hit a wall.  A friend read it, and reported to me that I had no real villain. Oops. I had been so focused on the character, and the war, that I did not think about the fact that I needed something more central to focus on. I still love that story, but I’ve put it aside for now. Once again, I’m going to have to rework what I have and I just need a break.

So pantsing may work for some people, but right now I need a story I’ve planned. Enter “We Witches Three.”  I’ve planned and plotted and am researching. I’ve started the beginning of it. I know where I want to go.  I’m going to hash out what I have tonight, and really start reexamaning. I had meant to all this craziness starting in October, and really get used to writing every day again. Starting a new job in August, with this being one of two of my busiest months of the year, made things hectic.  Why can’t Nano be in like July?  There are hardly any kids here in July…

So are you a pantser or a plotter or both? I’d be interested in hearing your tales!

(Side note – I submitted a new book review last night for “The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter.” 2.5/5 – I will link it when it is published.)



Throwback Thursday: Writing

Hello my friends! So I said I would do this two weeks ago, and I don’t think I did it last week. I wrote this my freshmen year in college… almost 8 years ago. It won first place in the short story writing contest at my college. So, here is an excerpt from an award winning short story of mine…

Vertical Suicide

Lives are spent learning who we are inside: what makes us tick, what triggers our anger and our tears.  As children we play, never worrying about reality until an event happens that brings that elusive thing crashing down upon our heads.  In that one moment we are forced to grow up, to change, and to truly learn who we are.

For most, we learn something new all the time.  It is impossible to know yourself completely, our environment changes too often for us to stay the same.   The search is never-ending, it will continue until the day we die.  Inside we struggle with ourselves, asking questions like “Why do I feel this way”, “Why can’t I do what I want”, and “Why can’t I change myself?”

Life is hard, a proven fact everyone knows.  From the single parent with three children working two jobs, from a homeless man on the street begging for your change, to the CEO of a company worrying he might cost someone a million dollars.  No matter what position you hold in society it never changes. Masks are worn every day, a smile when you want to cry, an “okay” when you want to scream.

My story is like everyone else’s. Except for one thing.  I have decided to tell mine. As people say, bravery isn’t the absence of fear; it is taking control of the fear itself.  I can’t run any longer.  There is no escaping the truth I see inside myself, no absolution in lying. Nothing can change my past and my choices, and until the day I admit them, there is no finding out who I am.


            Rain fell in a heavy mist, coating the ground, the very air around me.  I twirled in that mist, feeling it on my face, my skin, the gentle caresses of nature.  My mind was on all the things that had happened.  From waking up that morning to seeing my boyfriend at school, everything was running through my head.  The day had been lovely, and I was returning home.  Walking up to the door, I heard screaming; furious shouting that seemed to make the world cave in, my happy day fading away till I was once again a hollow shell.  Sitting down on the step, the rain continued to fall, but now I no longer delighted in its caresses.  I simply wanted it to wash me away.

A few hours later, my mother noticed I was out there.  She said not a word, just opened the door as I walked in.  Neither one spoke to me, I simply walked to my room, and shut the door.  I did not know if the fighting would start again.  Usually it did.  So my defenses went up, the music blared, and my mind absorbed itself into another reality, a fantasy someone wrote for me to get lost in.

Sure enough, the fighting began again.  Something as simple as the remote being lost started it this time.  I wondered if the neighbors could hear it.  If the careful pretense my parents tried to keep up in town really fooled everyone.  In this day and age when people avoided the truth like poison I was almost sure no one saw the glances, heard the screams.

My fantasy world collapsed, that night, and as I had on so many others I cried myself to sleep; knowing I would wake up in the morning pretending nothing was wrong at home.  Tears stained my pillow, and the blankets wrapped around me, a false security.

The next day in psychology we learned about certain mental disorders, and things people do to themselves to stop pain.  I had heard about cutting but never really absorbed the true meaning of it.  That night as I walked through the back door to avoid my parents yelling in the living room, I realized how much I truly wondered if it worked.

A bathroom holds so many dangerous items; it wasn’t hard finding a sharp blade.  The razor slid across my wrist, a horizontal streak of red that slowly dripped down my arm.  The mirror stared back at me, and I could see the lies of my face.  The blonde hair that hung almost to my waist, the brown eyes that spoke of sorrows no one ever looked close enough to see, and the smile on my face.  The smile I showed everyone who looked at me, saying, “I’m fine.  Just fine.”

Even as the thoughts that I was crazy drifted through my brain, I could imagine the hurt in my heart, the scars it held, bled through that cut.  Soon I moved to the left arm, cutting it the same way.  I sat there watching the little amount of blood drain from the cuts.  Eventually I heard the yelling quiet, I drifted back into the world, and wiping up the blood, erased all evidence from that place.

My mother was asleep in her room, avoiding matters that pressed all around her.  The bills lay on the table unopened and unpaid till the last minute, and my father slept on the recliner. A wall was built around each one of us, separating our feelings and hiding our pain. I didn’t try to wake one of them up, I didn’t try to tell them how I felt. I simply dealt, and so I entered my room, to cry myself into another oblivion.

The next day I woke up hoping to start fresh, a new day, a new life.  Dressing I noticed the angry red welts on my wrists, and with a change of plan I grabbed a long sleeved shirt.  The hiding began that day, and slowly I sank even further.

On my way to school, I thought about what was happening.  I swore to never cut my wrist again.  I pulled into the school parking lot, and there was Derek.  He was leaning against his car, waiting for me.  I smiled, even though I was overwhelmed with fear.

What if he noticed the cut on my wrist?  I hoped he wouldn’t.  I didn’t know how to explain it otherwise.  As the car came to a stop, I fiddled with getting my backpack.  Finally, I gave up stalling, and got out.

“Hey.” He said in a slow drawl.

I smiled, while pulling down the sleeves of my shirt.  Thankfully it was a little big on me and the sleeves could cover my hands.  “Hi”

Derek wrapped his arm around me.  As we walked into school I noticed people staring.  We were more of the popular crowd.  Neither of us was the best looking at the school, but both of us were noticed.  Derek was one of the few happy things in my life lately.

I shook my head, trying to erase the thoughts from my mind.  We headed to our first class, English.  I talked to all my friends like nothing had changed last night.  So as the day went on, even though I kept the sleeves pulled down, I didn’t think about it.

My last class of the day was psychology.  We were still covering depression.  I kept my hands under the desk, and fidgeted the entire time.

Finally the bell rang and I was able to escape.  I met Derek by the car.

“Hey, Sarah, do you want to go to the park?”

I thought about it.  I really didn’t want to go home.  So, I agreed.

The park was a known place for making-out.  All the couples went there, even during the day.  The cops turned a blind eye till about midnight.

A few hours later, after we had gone to the pizza place for food, he took me back to the high school, so I could get my car and drive home.

We kissed goodbye, and as I drove off, tears began sliding down my face.  I didn’t understand what I was feeling.  Even though I had been sure to hide the cut all day, I wished someone had noticed.  That someone had seen what I had done to myself, and explained my own emotions to me.

Arriving home, I still knew nothing.  Confused, and hurt, I walked through my back door into the middle of a fight.  I managed to hold myself together, till I entered the bathroom.  Once I shut the door, I stated bawling.


            I could talk about that day, about all the other days that followed.  How I pretended to care that the most popular girl in school was sleeping around with a bunch of guys, or that perhaps another had breast implants.  About how all the days at school were filled with meaningless rumors and endless battles to be the most popular.  Nothing changed there, and nothing changed at home. I came back to that… place every night.  My heart wasn’t there.  My home wasn’t in that house.  Every night I cut my wrists, and my thighs, every night I watched the blood that kept me alive in that miserable place pour from those self inflicted cuts.

My boyfriend, he never noticed.  That I wore long sleeves, that there was liquid foundation and powder on my wrists to help cover the scars.  Months after I made that first cut, and still no one noticed.  No one knew, and I played the game.  A game I hated.  Eventually he noticed I didn’t talk anymore about school, I didn’t attend all the sporting events.

When he did start to question what was wrong with me, when he finally noticed what was wrong with me, I ran.  I told him he didn’t know me, and never had.  That was it, my one chance perhaps of resurfacing and I severed it.


            The hot water fell on my skin, turning once pale flesh, angry and red.  Tears poured from my eyes like rain during a thunderstorm.  I simply stood there, wishing the world would go away; wishing that I just could wake up tomorrow and everything be different.

Slowly sinking to the floor, my hair hanging wet in front my eyes, the pain rattling my heart and seeping though my bones.  Fake was something no one should be.  Yet here I was, no one knew the real me… I didn’t even know who I was anymore.

The tears slowed, as a razor drew down my arm, vertically… the way to kill.  Pain I controlled, pain I could endure.  And as my heart poured onto the shower floor, I simply lived in that moment, the moment of my death.

(Promise the full story ends on a happy note)

Writing Habits Tag

This tag comes from Amanda McCormick!

Writer Habits

Where do you like to write:

I have talked about this on a previous post.  I generally write in my bed or on my couch because I have to watch my son.  I do write at work sometimes at lunch, and I have fond hopes of one day actually writing at my desk at home…

What program do you like to write with:

I write with Word. I love Scrivener, but I didn’t buy it last year, and I’m waiting to win Nano and hoping to get it this year.

What is your current writing project:

Oh my. Well, my blog is always an ongoing project.  I have my “Fated Destiny” story about a dragon rider (fantasy) that I hoping to one day complete. I’m currently working on what I have – it’s all printed out. I hope to edit it and go back and fix some large issues I have with it so I can keep the story going.  My current project for Camp Nano and Nano is “We Witches Three,” my new novel about… three witches!

Have you ever finished a novel? If so, when and what was it about?

No. Sadly. Lots of short stories.

What was the last project you completed:

Do essays for school count? My current issue is that I haven’t finish a novel.  I write many short stories though. Essays projects. Book reviews.

Do you snack when you write:

Ha.  Yeah. Way too much.  I love sour gummy things.  Or gummy worms (my current obsession is the all berry bag), as well as the gummy Sour Patch Watermelons. Oh how I love those.  There is always chocolate. I usually drink tea or coffee.

When is your favorite time to write:

My favorite time to write is when its raining. Sounds odd, but I love the sound of storms.  I sometimes play storm soundtracks to write otherwise.  I came up for my entire premise of “Fated Destiny” driving home during a storm one day, which started out life as a 17 page short story.  Other than that – early in the morning or late at night.

What music do you listen to when you write:

I have a playlist of music on youtube that is Celtic and instrumental. Storm soundtracks. And currently my new obsession is “Light of the Seven” from Game of Thrones.

How long have you been writing, and what inspired you – basically, why do you keep this habit of writing up:

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. My first real short story that I remember was for our portfolio in fifth grade and it was about everything coming to life when we left school. And the Pencil and Pen got married.  I love writing.  It helps in large part with complicated emotions.  My drama/English teacher in high school said that her best writers always had complicated pasts, things to deal with/not an easy childhood.  I can say that’s true for me as least. I love creating, and these ideas are in my head anyways. Might as well use them.

I tag Monica Spees (if you get tired of this just tell me) and any of my author friends who are reading this!

Camp NaNoWriMo Begins

It has begun! Camp NaNoWriMo begins! I am working on my new novel, We Witches Three, with a goal of 20,000.

I have not entered in all my data for last month for my various blogs and such so I won’t be sharing total word count for June until tomorrow.

I am off to great start for camp with 1000 words though, so yay!

I have new fantastic writing music: The Light of the Seven.

Dear me, it is glorious. If any of you watch Game of Thrones you probably know what I am talking about. And let me say, the finale for Season Six was amazing. And this song. Oh this song.

So it’s my new jam.

Night folks!

A Letter to George RR Martin

To George RR Martin,

I just watched the season finale of Game of Thrones. I am in awe, and in love, and possibly hate you with a tiny piece of my heart. I am everything that a fan of such a fandom can be.  You have created this world, this amazing place, and you have shared it with us. And for that, I am thankful.  They always say that many read as an escape. Escaping to your world, while dangerous if real, is truly wonderful.

I recently read several posts about you asking Stephen King about how on earth he manages to write so many books.  Facing backlash from not being able to finish “The Winds of Winter” on time, I know that you have dealt with your fair share of crazy, upset fans.  Who knows what people have said to you.  Lord knows we aspiring writers have often heard the advice of “Writers write. Pick a time. Sit down. Write words, rather they be good or bad.”  I’ve lived on the quote that for us writing is breathing.  And it’s often true.

And other times writing is not as easy as breathing. It can be hard, and painful, and I just plain stop.  I have an unfinished novel. I’ve been working on it for four years.  It is probably not even half way done, as I rewrote the whole dadgum thing after changing the viewpoint. Then I realized it had a fatal flaw, and just completely stopped early this year. Recently I dreamed up another novel, actually fully plotted this one out, wrote about 5000 words and hit a brick wall. I feel as if I need more research. I am unsure if my characters have enough “voice.” I remember the B’s and C’s I received in creative writing classes in college, and the times I did not win contests.  All of that overshadows everything good thing I have heard about my writing.  And that does not even matter, as much.  My self-doubt wins for the day.  And the writing waits.

You asked Stephen King if he never had a bad day, a day where he felt he had no talent, and thought maybe you screwed up and should have been a plumber or something.  All I can say is, I am so glad you did not.  You have given your readers (and/or watchers) an amazing gift in this world you have created.  Whatever demons you have battled to get this far, thank you for winning those fights.  Thank you for the rewrites, for the tweaks, and the words and the hours you have spent writing.

But more than anything else, thank you for showing me that you can be successful without writing every day.  I have tried to do this. I have tried to push myself through bad days and just get words on paper.  It is not how I function, apparently. I lay here, trying to sleep before getting up early to go to work, and I failed. Because I was thinking of that episode. I was thinking of your books.  I remembered that conversation.  And I finally realized that maybe I do not have to push myself the way I have been over the past year. Oh yes, it would be wonderful if every day I could sit down at a certain time and just write.  I am not, however, financially able to be a full time writer. I have nothing published.  I must work. I actually love my work. I have a husband and a toddler.  Life happens.  I’m tired of feeling guilty because I just could not write that day.  Or that I chose snuggling with my son over writing on my laptop. That I may not have the talent necessary to call myself a “writer” or an “author.”

I am tired of feeling like I must not be a writer because I cannot write every day.  You, sir, are an aspiring writer of unfinished novel’s dream come true.  Thank you for writing when you can. Thank you for pushing past your fears, and giving us this world that you dreamed, that you created, that you labor over.  Spend the days enjoying your fame, and talking to fans. Ignore the haters.  Write when you can, and as a reader of your books I do hope as often and quick as you can.

But as writer who finds it often times hard to write, Thank You for being honest about your process.  Thank you for not bowing down to deadlines and standards and common practice and churning books out like butter. I feel that they would not be what we wanted, anyways.  As you say, they would not be the best you could make them.  It may have been easier for you as a writer, and me as a reader, to be able to write every day and get them published.

Good luck writing,

A Writer Who Knows Nothing

Oh The Treasures We Find…

So, I’m on a mission to get rid of stuff.  As I have way too much stuff. So does my husband, but he is a pack rat (I see most of his stuff staying) but I’m hoping to at least get it more organized and hidden in the back of our attic.

Going through a tote we took out of storage, I found these. Oh my.  From essays in high school, to all my poems, short stories and who knows what else.

This could get interesting.  As I’m trying to post more, my new idea is to do “Throwback Thursday” but with pieces of my writing.

Now you have that to look forward to 😛

Now to go back to the piles of crap to sort. Wish me luck!

Writing Prompt Wednesday

So, I am going to try to start doing a Writing Prompt post every Wednesday. Wish me luck.

This week’s prompt:

We all have trouble writing villains.  The one thing I have heard authors say the most often, and readers, about their favorite villains, or how they write them is that they must understand their villains motives – and that the villain cannot be purely evil.  They have shades of grey – sometimes they think what they are doing is the right thing. Or they think that it is an ends to a greater means, etc. etc.

Think of someone whom you dislike. And write a story from what you think is their point of view. Shoot for 500 words and see where you wind up! Something to write about the villain doing may be someone completely opposite decision wise from what you would do.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

Writing – Keeping up with goals

Hello guys!

I think I was a bit exhausted after the A-Z challenge. I’ve barely blogged this month, so sorry about that. I shall now go back to at least once a week. Also, I should have about five book reviews to post soon.

I’d really like feedback: What would you like to see on here? What would you like to be different? I’m thinking of doing Wednesday Word Prompts.

In other news, and on to the title of this blog post, sometimes in writing it is hard to keep up with goals. I know I talked about this off and on, and in my last post. However, it is very relevant to what is going on with my writing.

Have you ever had a moment where you question whether you can call yourself a writer?  If its been a bit since you’ve written anything, if you cannot seem to finish something, or if you just write in spurts, and then stop, then pick it back up?  When you look at others, people writing thousands of words a day, or people with finished unpublished novels or published novels, it may be hard to look at what you do and think you are the same.

Here’s my logic.  I am a writer.  I write, and whether or not I measure up to some crazy goal (even if I set it myself) does not change that.  I have a couple of friends who write thousands of words a day. But everyone’s life is different, and I think that can be important to note.  I have a toddler, I get migraines, I have a husband, and a house and yard to take care of, cleaning to do, a full time job, and I’m job hunting.  Oh, and I also write book reviews for two newspapers, this blog and do other work such as tutoring. To say I have a busy schedule is sometimes an understatement.

Don’t get me wrong. I have time to write, at least most days.  I have time to write when I choose not to write. I’m trying to change that.  As you know I’m working on a new novel, and its going well. I have not actually written words on the novel in the past few days. I stopped. Why? Because, I stopped.  I made the choice to stop and work on my characters a bit. I felt that I needed to develop them a bit more in my head, so that I could really get their personalities onto paper.  I’m working on character descriptions and things like that.  I hope to be back to writing on the novel, at least a little, tonight. So I’m still working on something, even if I’m not getting two thousand words onto the story a day. Quality is important to me too, not just quantity. I don’t want to force the words onto the paper, if I think taking a make is more beneficial (just like my current long planned break for my other novel).

I think sometimes its important to stop and look at what you need. What do you think your story needs? Are you overstressed? Take a break.  Does the messiness of your house make you so stressed you want to hide in a corner? Clean.  Spend some time with your loved ones. That story inside of you is important.  It is important to your soul to breathe those words onto paper and help it come to live. And of course, we all hope to be the next new author making their debut. But you cannot get there at all without self-care.

So remember you. As I said last time – you know what works for you. Pushing yourself is fine. Burning yourself out is not.

So good luck and fair fortunes, and till next time, happy writing!

Writing: When To Know Yourself

For all of us, word count goals are important.  For writers who have deadlines, they mean something different.  To a struggling writer, trying to get back to writing everyday, they mean quite a lot.  We all have goals we wish to met, whether it be on a blog, writing a novel, or over several different projects.

I’ve heard many different types of advice from successful writers, bloggers, and people working their way to do so.  Hosting panels for SOKY Bookfest, this is often a common question.  Usually the answer is to writer every day.  I support that.

The past few years, I’ve been trying to write more.  It’s been a struggle. I wrote nonstop in high school (and before). It was usually short stories/poems/papers.  In college I was a creative writing major.  I changed my last year to a literature major. Due to certain issues, I was just kind of … burnt out on my writing.

I had a short story I had written for my advanced fiction class that my classmates loved. I still have their reviewed copies. One friend in the class even drew a dragon and other things on it to go along with it. She was a wonderful artist.  I still never was given an A on it, and it kind of upset me.  However, a year out, I decided I really wanted to work on it. I started turning it into a novel. The problem was, I realize now, that to go from short story to novel, you really have to plan. I did not do that. I just started writing all crazy like.

When I came to nano, I worked on the plot a bit. Realized it would sound much better in first person, and rewrote the entire thing, adding in a bit here and there.  I kept trying to write on it, but at this point I had a tiny child, was in grad school full time, and working and dealing with lots of life craziness/sadness.  Writing came to a halt.  Then, going back over the story with my friend Nick, he told me I was missing a real … evil I suppose you could say. I had this looming war but nothing concrete. And it was true. That was my problem. I had no idea where I wanted to go. We worked something out, largely thanks to his idea. However, I really need to go almost back to the start and rework quite a bit of things.

I decided to write only 250 words a day. 1000, a common goal for many, was just often to much for me many nights. Half the time I fall asleep with my toddler at 10.  The goal itself was stressing me out. Amanda suggested the 250. It was a good start.  I also did the alphabet series on my blog, and determined to post once a week on it. I’ve been pretty good about this (and thanks to all you guys reading!).

Back to work count, and the point of all this explanation.  As a writer, you will be bombarded with advice.  Everyone has something different works for them.  For instance, in my last panel the six authors talked about pantsing or plotting.  Some of them did a mixture of both, one did a general outline and went with what came, and one guy literally laid out the entire timeline of several books in a giant timeline on his wall. I mean, a super detailed one. We all started in amazement at him.  Many of us mentioned that we are not capable of that.

You really have to know you, as a writer, and what you are capable of. Set goals for yourself. If they are not working, lower them. If it feels like too much pressure, change them. When you find that you are meeting them consistently, raise them.  This way you are still challenging yourself, but you are not feeling so pressure from the get go that you are sabotaging yourself.

Finally, realize that sometimes you just are not going to meet those goals.  Or that something else may be more important.  Don’t go too long without trying to jump back into it however, because that’s just as bad.

What inspired this is that I started a new novel last Saturday. On time of outlining the entire thing, knowing several characters, and my main story-line/opposition, I wrote 1000 that first night, and the next two. Three nights in a row I wrote 1000 words. I had decided that as my goal every day.  Last night, it didn’t happen. I didn’t feel good. I was exhausted.  I tried to write, and I hated what I was putting on paper. I wrote about 400 words, and called it quits. I needed to work on my characters, I decided before I kept writing, and I did not have the energy left to devote to it then (also I’m directing a play that is this Thursday. It’s zapping a lot from me). I wrote, and that was important. But I didn’t push myself too far past my limits, because that can be just as bad as not writing at all.

We all have to take nights off. Don’t be afraid to admit it.

Good night guys, I’m going to go work on my characters.  Happy writing!

Word Count for the Month of April

Hello everything!

So, I’m hoping April showers will bring May Flowers… but for now, it’s the last day of April, and I’m looking at my writing totals.

I’m ecstatic. I wrote 14,348 words this month. I have no idea when the last time I wrote that much was.  Probably in undergrad with all my papers.

The best part? I’ve started a new novel. One of my goals is still to finish my novel-in-the-works, Fated Destiny. However, I need to sit and study that and possibly rewrite much after finally figuring out some points that had me stuck.  I think I’m saving that for NaNoWriMo.

The other day I had an idea about witches.. and started working on it. I shared it with my friend Nick who is most awesome at helping me plot. He has wonderful ideas. And he ran with it. Gave me super ideas. Then I went and used a plotting worksheet and wrote and wrote. An entire plot. I was so super happy.

Then I pinned all the pins on witchcraft.

And then I started to write. Wrote over 1000 words before collapsing into sleep, and I just wrote over 1000 more tonight.

Wish me all the luck. Maybe if you guys want I’ll share snippets as I go. I also plan to blog weekly on my word count and where I’m at plot point wise.  I plan 1000 words a night. Maybe if I can do this, I can have a whole novel in three months.

Wish me luck!