This Writers Life: New Teenage Driver

0c93fcd0e1d1772ad9501c3dd39b4c6cSo, this week I have been a little distracted. Why, may you ask? Well, I spent the week running around getting everything needed so that my daughter could get her drivers license. Which she did, yesterday.

I am both proud and a little scared.

She got her learners permit. She took all the classes online, then took the test online, so all we had to do was go pick up her license. She was excited, I was excited for her. This is a big milestone in a kids life. It’s that first taste of freedom, of being a little grown up and no longer a kid.

I, on the other hand, am scared out of my mind. Now, don’t get me wrong, she so far has been a decent driver. While I am worried about her, as she is a brand new driver with no real experience, I am more worried about everyone else on the road.

Where we live, as I’m sure every where else, no one seems to know how to use their blinkers, no one is paying attention, if they need to turn they do so at the last possible second slamming on their brakes to do it. It scares me behind the wheel, I can only imagine what will happen with her.

On a different note though, and I know every parent feels this way and says this and it’s a little cliche, I don’t feel like I’m old enough to be here yet. I’m really not sure how this all got here so dang fast. Is she really old enough to be driving?

I remember a moment, when she was maybe two, if even two. She used to go on walks with her ‘Tapah’ (cause she couldn’t say grandpa yet and the name stuck this whole time). He would put her in her stroller, put the leash on Buddy, and they would head out the door. She loved it.

Well, one time she saw him put the leash on Buddy, but he hadn’t put her in her stroller. She ran to her stroller and started freaking out. It was put up against the wall with a chair in front of it. She couldn’t get it out. She was pulling on it, and crying, and looking back and forth between the stroller and the door. She thought her tapah was leaving her behind. It was sad and funny at the same time.

Now, he did end up taking her that day, but the point of that story is that I remember it like it was yesterday. Like it just happened. But here we are and she is getting her drivers license.

I know that when I was younger my mother used to tell me to cherish everything, because time moves so fast. “In the blink of an eye you’ll turn around and she will be heading off to college.” Oh how true those words are. It feels like all I did was blink.

I know, cliche. But it turns out, it’s very true.

So here is to all you parents, who have watched your kids grow, awed at their triumphs, cried for their pain, and just couldn’t believe how fast time was moving. And to you parents who may just be starting out, it will go by in the blink of an eye.

Monday Motivation & Humor

Good Monday morning everyone.

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I know I did. Over the weekend I worked on my current WIP putting it down on a story board, worked on the outline, picked up a new book I have been waiting on and can’t wait to start reading it, and binged watched some Gilmore Girls to remember what all happened before the brand new episodes debut on Netfix.

So a productive and happy weekend. Now, on to the week. Here are the funny reading and writing memes, and some motivation writing memes I found over the weekend.

Wednesday Writing Tips: 5 tips when finding a Critique Partner

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So as writers, we always hear “Find a Critique Partner.” Though, when you hear that, it tends to not go hand in hand with what to look for in one, and what a good one is. As a writer we know these are important, and if you are just starting out, you may not have any idea of what to look for exactly.

So here are 5 things to look for and consider when trying to find a critique partner.

  1. Someone at about or above your writing level.

Let me expand on that. You need to find someone that is at or above your writing level. As with anything, this is how you improve. Once you are comfortable with your writing, then yes, take on a critique partner who may be a little behind you, and mentor them. But when you are just starting out, you want to find someone that is able to help you move forward in your abilities.

 

  1. Someone who has experience with critiquing.

You want to find someone who has experience critiquing. The reason is you want them to have that eye. Read like a critique-r (I made up a word, oops), not just a reader. They should be looking at sentence structure, pacing, grammatical errors, spelling errors, plot holes, etc. Someone who may not be experienced in critiquing may not be looking for these things. So make sure you find someone with experience.

 

  1. Someone who is familiar with the genre you’re writing in.

You want to find someone who is familiar with the genre you’re writing in because each genre has its own rules to follow. Bah, rules, I know. But it’s true. Each genre has some very specific readers. They are used to the pacing, the plot points, and can pick up on when something is amiss. Someone familiar with your genre will know these things, and will look for them, both consciously and subconsciously.

 

  1. Someone who is willing to give you more than “This was good” for a critique.

Critiques are important. They help us grow in our craft. So you need to find someone who is willing to give you more than a few words in critique. “This was good” doesn’t help you grow. But say, “This line here flowed a little awkwardly, I think it could sound better if…” and so on. You want someone who can comment on the flow of the manuscript, and make suggestions when they say something isn’t working.

 

  1. Finally, pass it on.

Don’t go into a critiquing situation not expecting to critique in return. That is selfish. There is a reason they call it Partners. Swap chapter for chapter or a few chapters at a time, whatever works for the two of you. And give a critique that you would like to get in return. This is just good sense.

Also by pass it on, offer to be a critique partner to someone just starting out. We all start somewhere, we all need that one person to step in and say “Hey, I’ll help” whether we want to admit it or not. Trust me, I am the queen of not asking for help.

 

So there you have it. 5 things to look for when looking for a critique partner.  Do you have anything to add to it? I would love to hear it!

Monday Motivation & Humor

Good Monday Morning!

Boy am I glad to be back to my regular schedule. I’m so used to my routine, that the fact that last week threw me off was stressing me out.

I hope that everyone had a great weekend and is looking forward to the week ahead.

Here are the funny and sometimes motivational images I found over the weekend.

This Writers Life: Civic Duty

shutterstock_380003077I know that last week I said I was back, and I really truly meant it. I know I missed Monday and Wednesday, and I have a good reason. Have you ever been summoned for Jury Duty? That’s exactly what happened to me this week.

I had never been summoned for Jury Duty before. I didn’t really want to go, since I had just started my new job, but I didn’t have a choice. So, I went. Bright and early Tuesday Morning, I was to be at the court house at 7:30am.

When I arrived there was at least 70 other people there as well. I thought that the odds were looking pretty good that I wouldn’t be chosen. We were there all day, split into different panels, answering questions, and waiting, a lot of waiting. Finally, for those of us that hadn’t already been dismissed from duty, we were told to return the next day at 9:00am. There were 17 of us at that point.

Still liking my odds, since they only needed 7 jurors, I didn’t complain too much. Not at all out loud, just in my head, and then to my husband and anyone who would listen when I got home. So, I returned the next day and this time we were to be asked questions by the two sets of attorneys in the case the jury was needed for.

They walked us into the court room and immediately I recognized the prosecuting attorney. I knew him, worked with him; I should not be on this jury. The Judge then asked if any of us knew the prosecuting attorneys, through occupation or personal, and I immediately raised my hand. I explained to the Judge that I knew him and had worked with him for several years.

I was not dismissed at that point like I thought I would be. The Judge thanked me for my honesty and then both sets of attorneys started their questioning of the panel to determine the final 7 jurors. When the questions ended, they lead all of us back out into the hall while the Judge and Attorneys discussed who would be the final jurors.

While in the hall I thought for sure I would not be picked. How could they fairly try a case with me on the jury? That would be a conflict of interest. I was certain that the defense attorney would ask for my removal, as it might jeopardize her case with a juror who knew the opposing counsel.

We were in the hall for about 20 min before they called us back in. Then, they called my name. “This is it, this is where they tell me I’m dismissed and my services are no longer needed.” That’s what went through my head since I was the first called.

“Please have a seat in the juror box seat 1.”

What? Really? You can’t be serious. I’m sure that’s exactly what was on my face when I heard the Judge tell me to have a seat in the Jury Box.

Still, I did as instructed while they called six more names. Once done they told everyone else they were dismissed. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. How and why did they choose me as a juror? Especially given the fact that I knew the attorney and had worked with him at another firm this can’t be right. But, it was, I was, and the trial was to be that day.

So the trial began. We heard witness statements, audio evidence, and from the defendant. We were given instructions and sent into the Jury room. We didn’t take long, it was a simple case. All of us were in agreement from the moment we walked into that room. We discussed, agreed, and flipped the light to let them know we had reached a verdict.

We were brought back out to the jury box and handed over the verdict. It was read, there were tears, and we were thanked and dismissed to go home. In the end, I’m still in shock that they kept me on the jury. Though, it didn’t harm the defense’s case, seeing as they won.

All in all though, it wasn’t a bad experience. There was a lot of waiting, sure, but it was still interesting. I was even given a little pin as a thank you from the court. I wouldn’t want to do it again, but I am glad I had the experience.

How about you all? Have you ever had jury duty? Were you picked to sit on a jury? How was your experience? And, what are your thoughts on them keeping my on the jury, even though there could have been a conflict of interest, or even bias (there wasn’t, but there could have been if I were someone else)?

Wednesday Writing Tips: Outlining your Novel

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So if you’ve read through my posts, you will notice that I am a big proponent of outlining. To me it’s helpful and necessary. Now, there are some writers who are pantsers, which is who write by the seat of their pants. If that’s you, that’s ok; Find what works for you and go for it.

For me however, outlining is my saving grace. Your outline can be as detailed or minimal as you want it to be. Today, I’m going to share what I do to outline.

An outline helps me stay focused on where the story is going, and various sub-plots that are running through the story. This way I don’t have to go back and reread 100 pages to remember when Mr. Yellow hair looked at Ms. Teal for the first time. Obviously, that’s made up, but you get my point.

Now, let’s get to outlining.

First you start with your story idea. Today, I’m going to make one up.

Story Idea: What if electricity had never been harnessed for use.

Where do I go from here? I find my MC. In this case, it’s a 19 year old girl named Cassidy (for now).

What’s her goal? To save her tribe.

From who? Whoever is killing each tribe one by one.

How does it end? She finds out it’s the Council killing off the tribes to eradicate magic from the land.

AND we have a story. I know my beginning and I know my ending. On to the outline.

Some people stop here for their outline. Not wanting to be boxed in by details. That’s ok too. If you know where you’re headed with your story, you can write until you get there. I prefer a little more details in my outline.

Now, I use an excel spreadsheet. (I can hear you cringing; it’s really not that bad.) Here is what mine looks like. I save this spreadsheet as a template and use it for each story idea. If I can’t complete the outline, I don’t write the story. The reason for that is twofold. One, the story idea may not be big enough to carry a full novel, and two, I may need to research a little more before attempting the story further.

If you get stuck, don’t worry. Research is your friend, and can help you through.

Outline

Yours doesn’t have to look like mine; this is just what works for me. As you can see, I use the three act structure, and then include the points that need to be hit and at what time. This ensures my pacing stays on track. You can also see I have a word count goal. This I change with each story. The template is set up for Nano. Which is 50k words in a month. You can adjust as you need.

Now once I have my template open, I hash out the details. Where the story starts, each incident that needs to occur to move the story forward, and fill in the ending. From there I fill in all missing places. The way my template is set up is each chapter is its own scene. You can adjust if you have more than one scene in a chapter.

I tend to get very detailed here. That’s not to say I follow it to the letter when I sit down to write, but it is a great guide as to where I’m going. By using this I know whose POV the story is through at each moment, I know when the tension needs to rise and when it needs to fall, and I know where all my storylines are at any given moment.

With all this it helps with consistency and ensuring there are not any glaring plot holes. When you view your story through the outline and get a big picture of it as a whole, any missing pieces tend to stick out, and you can adjust before you’re 35k words in and have to delete back to chapter 3 to fix it. (I’ve done this.)

Also by outlining, you will have less editing to do when the story is complete. That’s not to say you won’t have any, because you will, but you won’t have as many in the form of pacing and plot pitfalls.

Once I have completed my outline, I turn to world building and character development. This is to fill in any and all places so that I can describe them and the story doesn’t feel flat. After that, it’s time to start writing.

So there you go, how I outline. Feel free to use my template if you like. I created it after studying various other story outlines and found this is what works best for me. Now, how about you? Do you have any advice about how you outline? I’m always open to hearing it.

Happy Outlining!

Monday Motivation and Humor

Good Monday Morning. I would like to start with an apology. I missed last week, entirely. No excuses but, I started a new job. Which in turn made me leave my house every morning at 6:45am and not get home till around 7:00pm. Needless to say, my first week, between the new job and working on my manuscript, left me beat.

I neglected the blog.

But, I am back, now that I have become used to the routine and know what my schedule will be. So let’s start this week on a funny and possibly motivational tone. Here are the memes I found over the weekend.

I hope everyone has a great week.