Wednesday, September 15, 2010


finished Chapter 32!: 66,730 word count

Writing Tip: transition.
Effie has been under the barrage of several conflicting emotions as she talks to Old One. Quite suddenly she wants to change the subject and she says:
"Is Orli better this morning?"
But the shift is too sudden. The reader might get whiplash. So, I put an action tag before the dialog line.

Fleeing the emotions that confused her, she sought another subject. “Is Orli better this morning?”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back on Track Again

chapter 31; 64,919 word count

Writing Tip: I'm not one to say that you have to eliminate all -ly words, but it is good to limit them.

No words came from His mouth, but still she heard Him gently command.
No word came from His mouth, but still she heard His gentle command.

How easy was that!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back on Track

Starting Chapter 32; 64,813 word count

I guess it is pretty obvious that I have been under the weather. Puniness comes at the most inconvenient times. I wonder if I could truly be allergic to the last third of any book I am writing, or I'm a hypochoncriac. Or perhaps, I don't eat and sleep as i should and my body gets out of whack.

Writing Tip: Take care of yourself! You can't think creatively when all you want to do is sleep and drink something very hot for your throat and then something very cold for your throat.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Naming Characters

This is a great place to find names:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


finished chapter 28; 58,543 word count

Writing Tip: a string of words ending in -ing really messes with the rhythm of a sentence. I even try not to have two in a row.
Example from today's writing:
"Are you proposing organizing the little band?"
"Are you proposing to organize the little band?"

Friday, August 13, 2010

think, thank, thunk

Finished chapter 25; 51817 word count

Writing Tip: Occasionally similar words will show up in a sentence and although they are not incorrect, they have an awkward sound to them. (One of the reasons for reading your work aloud.)

Original: He didn't want her to think he thought she was oddly dressed.

He didn’t need her to misconstrue his opinion. Effie wore odd combinations, but she managed to look comfortable, not self-conscious.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Writing Tools

Finished chapter 23, 47,714 word count

Writing Tip: I use YWriter5. You can get a free download from
Here are some of the features as listed on the website:
"Organise your novel using a 'project'.
Add chapters to the project.
Add scenes, characters, items and locations.
Display the word count for every file in the project, along with a total.
Saves a log file every day, showing words per file and the total. (Tracks your progress)
Saves automatic backups at user-specified intervals.
Allows multiple scenes within chapters
Viewpoint character, goal, conflict and outcome fields for each scene.
Multiple characters per scene.
Storyboard view, a visual layout of your work.
Re-order scenes within chapters.
Drag and drop of chapters, scenes, characters, items and locations.
Automatic chapter renumbering. "
The reason it is so valuable to me is my many weird names need a central place of registry, so when I'm writing chapter 23, I can go back a find out how to spell that thingymajiggy I mentioned in chapter 3. Today I couldn't remember the name of a village. I am so glad I did't have to look through pages of manuscript.

Do you have a program you use? How about sharing what it is and why you like it?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Getting rid of "wases"

Polished Ch. 18; 38,570 word count; Yeah! passed 200th page in the manuscript.

Writing Tip: You don't have to get rid of all wases, but too many wases on a page of your manuscript hurts the narrative. Wases can be used more in dialogue, because that's the way people talk. If you have wases in your narrative and your dialogue, your reader can become over-wased quickly. And it is so hard to get rid of them. (If it is hard to get rid of them, and your rearranged sentence is twisted beyond comprehension, just leave the was in.)

The square of cloth he wanted to use was in the breast pocket of his jacket, which hung on the back of a chair clear across the kitchen.

To fix, pick a different subject and give him something to do with the original subject.
Original subject: square
Original verb: was
Revised subject: he
Revised verb: tucked

He’d tucked the square of cloth he wanted to use in the breast pocket of his jacket, which hung on the back of a chair clear across the kitchen.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Checking Facts

finished ch 18; 35,545 word count

Writing Tip: In today's chapter, one of the characters fell on a sharp object. I had the poor thing suffering from a severed artery. After some consideration, I realized that wouldn't do. She'd bleed out before I could get her help. And severed is a pretty strong word, implying completely cut through. So I deleted and changed it to nicked an artery. Still very bloody, but fixable with what the other character had at his disposal.
Think through the consequences of injuries and make the scenario from start to finish plausible.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Finished chapter 17; 33,391 word count
Writers Tip: Celebrate! Writing can be lonesome, discouraging, frustrating, and non-profitable, to name just a few of the negatives that authors put up with. It is important to celebrate, enjoy each turn of phrase that is particularly appropos. Celebrate the end of a chapter. Some days you may have to celebrate the end of a paragraph. Celebrate when you character displays amazing insight, fortitude, intelliect, or discernment. Celebrate rejection letters that are from a real person, not just a copied check list that indicates your work does not fit their current needs.

Today I am celebrating being one-third done. I passed the 33,333 word in chapter 17.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Loooooooong sentences!

Finished CH. 16; 31,375 word count

Writing Tip: I have a rule of thumb. If a sentence spills over to three lines of manuscript, it is too long. (I use Courier New because I can read it comfortably. For those who use Times New Roman, which is all scrunched up, you would have to make that all of two lines.)
From today's chapter:

Bealomondore and Efficinderpart poured over the journals the next morning, while they waited for Laddin to come back with news of a house that might supply their daggart-making needs.

The fix is almost too simple and requires one less word a period and a capital, not at all arduous labor:
Bealomondore and Efficinderpart poured over the journals the next morning. They waited for Laddin to come back with news of a house that might supply their daggart-making needs.

One of the things I'm fond of is having my manuscript read aloud so I can hear it. Those long sentences require readers with great lung power. Even when read silently those whopping long sentences tax the brain. Most readers read to relax. So be easy on those who pick up your book and chop the behemoth wordage into easy chunks to conquer.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lay, Lie

Finished 15; 29,218 word count.

Writing Tip: I had this sentence in my chapter.
“If he’s going to go to sleep, he has to lay down. Make him lay down.”
There was a green squiggly under the first lay, so I changed it to lie, and my computer was happy. Then I came to the second lay and saw no green squiggly. What's the difference? I confess that lie and lay, set and sit challenge me. I finally got a hold of set and sit, but lie and lay? Oh brother, can I rewrite the sentence so I'm not using either?
Here are two sites that help with this kind of problem: English Plus
and Grammar Girl, Quick and Dirty Tips
English Plus says: Lay is something you do to something else. It is a transitive verb. My characters are going to make him lay down, so I guess that qualifie. Although I might argue that it is the verb make that is transitive. In the long run, I don't know for sure, and that makes me very grateful for copy editors who understand this sort of thing.

PS The consensus of my writing friends is that the second lay should be lie as well.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Repetition, good or bad?

finished 14, which was a really fun chapter; 27,346 word count

Writing Tip: In this chapter I had one character echo what was said by another character in a previous chapter. In the first, Bealomondore asked, "Do you know what I would like to do?" In this chapter, Efficinderpart asks the same exact question. Why does this work? These two characters are becoming friends. The repetition of the question establishes that they are beginning to feel a connection, they can banter, one recognizes the other will see this as an "inside" joke.

Repetition of a preposition idea:
The book landed flat and poofed the old flour up into the air.
Not good.

Repetition of a word:
He crouched as he approached the door. Effie also stooped as came to the door. Tak and Airon stayed at the back door and kept their eyes on the alley. Bealomondore manipulated the large dead bolt.

He crouched as he approached the door. Effie also stooped as she joined him. Tak and Airon stayed at the back and kept their eyes on the alley. Bealomondore manipulated the large dead bolt.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

And . . .

One of the worst things that can happen to an author is the incomplete thought that often comes up in conversation with a new acquaintance and then gets interrupted.
Friend: Let me introduce you to Donita K. Paul, she goes to our church and writes dragon books.
Strange look comes over new acquaintance's face. Could be interpreted as "I've never seen her in church." or "Aren't dragons evil?" or "Where have I heard that name?" Just a strange look that makes the author feel unsettled.
Friend: My teen loves her books, and I confess, I read them too and sent them to my Dad to read."
NA: another strange look.
Friend: We have them in the church library. DragonSpell, DragonQuest, DragonThis, DragonThat.
NA: nods in recognition. "Yes, I've read some of those."
Now the subject changes. Topic of books drops like a lead balloon. Did NA like the books? Did she burn them as sacrilege in her barbeque pit? Maybe her teen saw her reading one and confiscated it. We can always hope for that one. Maybe her teen wrote a scathing review anonymously on Let's not hope for that one.
My plea: If you tell an author you read her book, please say it with a smile so if your conversation gets interrupted, the author walks away with the hope that you liked her work.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It, that, them, and so on

finished Chapter 13; 24,810 word count

Writing Tip: Avoid indiscriminate pronouns. These are place holders for better nouns most of the time. This principle should be used in the same way that the admonition not to use -ly words is used. In other words, know the rule, follow it mostly, but don't go quackers trying to avoid them.
Example from today's writing:
“Every minor dragon collects information from the people around them. They collect songs as well as musical history. You might have heard the other verses, and they were buried in your brain. In that case, she dug them out. Or she recognized something she had learned somewhere else and remembered it.”

“Every minor dragon collects information from the people around them. Singing dragons collect songs as well as musical history. You might have heard the other verses, and the lyrics were buried in your brain. In that case, she dug the words out. Or she recognized something she had learned somewhere else and mined the information she had stored.”

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Promise

Finished 12 and started 13; 22,937 word count

Writing Tip: I dropped a figurative time bomb on the reader. Bealomondore is talking to Effie:

" . . . And Lady Peg gave me a word to describe liars who mean no harm.”
“Liars that mean no harm?”
“When you meet Lady Peg, you will understand. She has a very unique perception of the world.”

Now that is an intriguing comment, meant to arouse the reader's curiosity. But the conversation goes off on a tangent (an important tangent. Never wasite dialog on the inane.) Several pages later, the riddle is explained. The original tease was a promise to the reader. I, as the author, have made a non-verbal agreement to answer the questions that the teaser raised in the reader's mind. If I do not fulfil the promise, then I have broken something precious between author and reader. If this happens often, the reader will not be interested in the next book. She has learned that reading my work results in a multitude of minor irritations. Who wants to spend time with someone who constantly disappoints.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Finished 11; 21,153 word count

Writing Tip: My particular goof ups saw the light of day in today's writing. The thing with typos is that each writer has his/her own list of frequent foul-ups. Mine are our for out, and for an, and of for off or off for of. And you know spell checker doesn't catch that kind of error. But if you know your particular foibles, you are more likely to catch them on the re-read. And if you read a scene several days later, you are even more likely to see them.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Learning Opp

Check out his website:

Author of legal suspense and How-to books on the craft of writing. Jim is one of my favorite speakers. I have learned so much from his lectures. And now there is a chance for you to benefit from his teaching, too.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ellipsis or Emdash

finished chapter 10; 19,279 word count

Writing tip: Ellipsis are those three little periods that take he place of words. To make them space out when you are using word, you must type space period space period space period, or the dots scrunch up when you hit the space bar after the last period. I don't like mine scrunched up.
Emdash is a dash that is as wide as the letter m. Endash is the one that is as wide as the letter n.
Endashes are also called hyphens. And Emdash is used in dialogue when the person speaking is cut off. And abrupt ending in other words.
Ellipsis are used when the person's speech trails off.
I didn't use any emdashes today, but I did use ellipses.


“Is she . . .?’

She nodded. “Did you know they have . . .accidents?”

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Finally finished Ch 9; 17,160 word count

Writing Tip: I don't really believe in writer's block. I get stuck, but I tend to think it is because of character flaws. Not the characters in my book, but flaws in me. Procrastination, laziness, distractibility, aversion to work. Anyway, when I do find myself wasting time and not "getting on with it," I close my eyes and watch the scene in my mind as if it were a movie. That usually gets me revved up again.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Just Talking

Finished Chapter 9; 16,140 word count

Writing Tip: In Donald Maass's book Fire in Fiction, he talks abou clean, precise dialog that is stripped of attributes and action tags. Sometimes this is a very effective way to deliver conversation between two characters.
Example from Dragons of the Watch:

Bealomondore shook his head, agreeing.
“How old are they?” asked Effie. “Do you know?”
“They are all six, every last one of them.”
“So someone has been feeding them for six years.”
“I have found documents in the library, written by hand, probably by Old One. Rumbard City is under some kind of wizardry.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Point of View

Started chapter 8; 14,053

Writing tip: POV is Point of View. This means that everything in the scene is presented by the POV character and anything the POV C cannot see or experience cannot be used. If another character is hidden, perhaps eavesdropping on the conversation, the POV C does not point him out. Unless, of course, he discovers him.
Here is a POV adjustment in editing today's work.
He reached to open the lid and laughed again when Efficinderpart peered over the tumanhofer's shoulder while the goat tried to push between him and the box.

He reached to open the lid and laughed again when Efficinderpart peered over his shoulder while the goat tried to push between him and the box.

Bealomondore (the "he" in this sentence and also the POV C) would not think about his shoulder as the tumanhofer's shoulder. He would think of it as his shoulder.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Action Tags

finished Ch. 7; 12,875 word count

Writing Tip: We use action tags to give rhythm to dialogue. The tags can slow the rhythm or speed it up. In the original writing, I used asked and said, which are almost invisible to the reader. The brain registers the word and the meaning, but doesn't conjure up an image like another word, say, "hollyhocks." (he said, she said, he asked, she asked are called dialog tags or attributions)

Effie asked, “Is it safe?”
“Yes, they’ve gone for noonmeal," said Bealomondore. "Hand me the goat."

But when the author wants the reader to visualize, some cues are needed. These cues or action tags also help creat the pace and rhythm. The best way to catch this and pinpoint a need is to read aloud. I read everything aloud or have it read to me.

Revised lines: Effie grabbed his coat sleeve. “Is it safe?”
“Yes, they’ve gone for noonmeal.” He went over the edge and disappeared. She heard a thud and this his voice. “Hand me the goat.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Started to . . . Really?

Finished Chapter 6; 11,284 word count

Writing Tip: This time the answer is "Yes. Really."

“Let’s go.” Bealomondore started to climb out of the drawer.
Effie grabbed his coat sleeve. “Is it safe?”

Started to and began to should only be used when the action will be disrupted.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Emote, Not You, But Your Character

Finished Chapter 5; 10,335 word count

Writing tip: I editing this chapter I had to tackle pacing. In two places I hurried: the intro and the concluding paragraphs. In the opening, I went back and tapped into Effie's emotions to satisfy the reader's need to identify with what is going on. And lo and behold, the problem at the end was also skimming over my main character's reaction her plight. Remember emotion!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Alas, Alack, Summer is Too Full and Too Short

Finished chapter 5: 9,405 word count

Now I have to get cracking. It is the middle of June. How'd that happen?

Writing Tip: Don't procrastinate. Don't visit a relative for a month. Don't get vertigo (This is a truely nauseating affliction.). Don't play or have fun in the sun.

Another Tip: I almost ended this chapter with my heroine making herself comfortable and going to sleep. Then I remembered authors should never end a chapter with everyone asleep unless there is a monster around to possibly disturb them and the reader knows this. So I made it morning and allowed her to wake up and get ready for the adventure ahead.
The reason we do this is so the reader, who is reading in bed, will not feel contented, turn out the light, and got to sleep too.
So now you know. Author deliberately try to keep their readers up unti the wee, small hours of the morning.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Finished chapter 4; 7,337 word count

Writing Tip: Varying the sentence structure keeps the reader interested and awake. Awake is very important. I do have a book by my bed that I read when I can't go to sleep. It cures insomnia.
Syntax (from American Heritage dictionary): The pattern of formation of sentences or phrases in a language.

Syntax has a great deal to do with your writing "voice."

Hemingway is never mistaken for William Faulkner because his syntax defined a different voice.

Example of varying syntax from Dragons of the Watch:
When she looked again, she saw that the eyes no longer blazed at her. The expression on the dragon's face was cold and unfeeling.

Better: The blazing eyes, on second examination, appeared glazed over, cold and unfeeling.

Best: On second examination, the blazing eyes appeared glazed over, cold and unfeeling.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Aha! parallel construction

Working on chapter four; 6018 word count

Writing tip: Parallel construction just means that like verbs must be presented in like manner.

Example: A little breeze kicked up, and the mist swirled and eddied, clearing in some patches and stretched thin across others.

A little breeze kicked up, and the mist swirled and eddied, clearing in some patches and stretching thin across others.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tighten. . . Tighter! . . . Got it!

Almost finished with ch. 3; word count - 5,273

Writing Tip: Sometimes you want your work to feel loose, casual, meandering. Gentle words drifting around the point of view character's perception of the situation accentuates the readers' interpretation.
However, more often than we like, our writing benefits from precise execution of plot, setting, and character with fewer, straightforward words.

So we rewrite for tightness:
Effie placed a hand on her stomach that felt hollow.
Effie placed a hand on her hollow stomach.

Effie searched through the mess the ranger had made when he ransacked the house. While her hands worked to uncover the map, her mouth muttered descriptive words of the rogue ranger.
Effie searched the ransacked house. Outrage fueled her frenzied search. Epitaphs against the rogue ranger released her steaming frustration.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Read Aloud

I plotted and didn't get much written. One sentence is all I produced and that defines "didn't get much written."

Writing Tip: Actually, I worked on an article to submit to a homeschooling magazine. The article is on the importance of reading aloud to emergent readers. The sound of story is very important in developing that part of the brain that craves reading.

And that brings us to this writing tip. Not only do I read my chapters aloud, I have them read aloud to me. Hearing your story reveals two important things. The author hears mistakes in vocabulary, grammar, and syntax easier than when reading the material silently.
Second, the cadence of the language is more apparent. People say that "the narrative flows." This is akin to that nebulous thing people call "The Author's Voice." Largo, allegretto, messo di voce, and crescendo all describe dynamics and tempo for music. The dynamics and tempo of a written piece are important in the delivery of story. This integral part of emphasizing mood in your writing is there in print, but more easily recognized, and thereafter, fine-tuned when you hear the words.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Okay, all right, alright

Finished Chapter 2; 4,121 word count

Writing Tip: Which word is correct for your story? Okay? All right? Alright?
I have no idea when people started saying okay. I could look it up, but never have because I use it in contemporary and not in historical. My fantasies tend to take place in a pre-industrial society, so I don't use okay in my fantasy character's speech.
There are dictionaries that tell you when a word began to pop up in a culture. So if you are writing a historical, check to see if words (not just okay) were being used back in the time which is part of the setting of your story..

Alright is colloquial and is okay for use in informal speech because we speak with less formality in most situations. The visual alright cues the reader of the relaxed nature of the interchange.

I can't bring myself to use alright, even in speech. Just fussy, I guess.

All right should be used at all times in narrative. (That's the bit between the bits of dialogue.)

Now how do you feel about the distinctions between the three words? Are you okay with this? Does it seem all right? "Alright, I guess you're good to go."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Language vs. Words

Still on chapter 2

Writing Tip: As in most things in our lives, our writing must be balanced. The difference between journalistic writing and purple prose needs to be understood. Neither is suitable for storytelling. One is too stark, the other is too extravagant.
Words lined up to convey meaning is where we start, but the simple sentence is just the jumping off point. When creating literature, we stretch and create language expressive of mood and emotion. Language can compel change. Language can assuage guilt. Language can motivate or release an individual from striving, giving peace.
Language lifts the story rather than just relays the facts. Many people will tell you that the mastery of language is the accomplishment that infuses the narrative with voice.

Language that reveals life, truth, and beauty moves an ordinary piece of writing to classic stature.
Literature that sheds light on life exposes the relationship between the comparatively small package of one man's experience to the vast "big picture" of the universe.
Literature that simplifies a universal truth expands the understanding of the reader.
Literature that clarifies beauty amplifies what can be seen to what can be felt.

Words can convey a set of facts, but language interprets facts and raises the reader's awareness. Language speaks to the soul as well as the intellect.

And in the end, language that brings the reader to the point of sharing in the common experience of mankind (themes like love, hate, loss, faith, innocence and the loss of innocence) has a unique role in reminding God's creation that there is something beyond the here and now.

The story is important. The theme is important. The expression of your Christian worldview is important. Expressed in mere words, your rhetoric falls flat. Painted with the brush of masterful language, your message has wings.

"Press on."
Philippians chapter three

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The $365 Writing Tip

finished editing Chapter One of Dragons of the Watch. Plowing into Ch 2

Writing Tip: Some time ago, I went to a writers conference. It was a good writing conference, but honestly only one thing stood out as something new and startling in the realm of improving my craft. So I call this tip my $365 writing tip. That was the price of the conference.

We were going through a critique, and the instructor noticed a grammar error on one of the submissions. The sentence was something like this:

She ran through the underbrush avoiding the thickest tangle of vines that would trip her.

That sentence needs a comma. Where? Look for the first -ing word.


What does the phrase beginning with avoiding modify? As it stands, avoiding modifies underbrush. Now here comes the $365 writing tip. I hope you have two thumbs, because you need them. Taking your thumbs and placing the left thumb before underbrush and the right thumb after avoiding, read what is in between. Between your two tumbs is "underbrush avoiding." Does it make sense? No. So you have to put a comma there. The comma signals the reader to apply this modifying phrase to a noun further back in the sentence, usually the subject. The sentence makes sense if "She" is the one "avoiding."

New sentence:

She saw him struggle to hold on with the rope slipping through his hands.

One thumb in front of rope and the other behind slipping.

rope slipping

Does the author really mean to say the rope is slipping through his hands? Yes! no comma!
If the words are meant to go together then don't separate them with a comma.

He ran into the station hoping to find one more person to help rescue the boy.

Thumbs in place?
Is the station hoping, or the subject "He" hoping? Building and hoping don't go together so separate them with a comma.

Several years later this thumb trick is the only thing I remember clearly about what I learned. I don't often forget the comma when it is needed, and I rarely put it in when the comma is not needed. I still think the writing tip was overpriced.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More "seemed to"

finished edits on Two Tickets for a Christmas Ball. Working on chapter two of Dragons of the Watch

Writing Tips: If used in moderation, "seemed to" can be used in first person. But avoid using it because it is really telling.
He seemed dislike the flavor of the pudding.


He put a big spoonful of Granny's bread pudding in his mouth. His eyes popped, his mouth screwed into a funny-looking twist, and tears flowed down his cheeks. Someone should have told him about the jalapenos.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Started to . . . Really?

Still working on edits for Two Tickets to a Christmas Ball.

Writing tips: started to, began to, seemed to are all over used.
With started to and began to, you are implying that the action will be stopped.
He started to wash the car, but a a cloudburst put a stop to that.
If the action is not going to be interrupted then use the subject and the past tense of the verb.
He washed the car. The day was sunny and perfect.

Example: He began to explain why he was late, but his date shut the door in his face.
He explained why he was late and his date understood his dilemma.

Seemed to. Really? He seemed to grow in appreciation of the arts.
Well, did he, or didn't he?

She seemed to understand what had held him up.
Did she, or didn't she?

He seemed to be listening to her theory about microbionic soil, but then he poured his coffee into a bush.
The last one is acceptable, but don't pour your leftover coffee on plants. It will seem to kill them and they will begin to rot.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Just as I got started on Dragons of the Watch, I got the edits for Two Tickets to a Christmas Ball and Dragons of the Valley back from the editor. That means you go line by line and approve or disapprove of changes made. (Usually the changes are minor like caps and punctuation.) and there are some places where you actually re-write a paragraph or sentence for clarity. I always know what I mean, but sometimes the reader doesn't.

Writing tip: Avoid there is, there was, there were at the beginning of a sentence in your narrative. You can let them ride in dialogue, because people talk like that. But outside of dialogue, using there+to be verb is lazy writing.

Most often this blunder occurs in description:

There was a flowerpot teetering on the windowsill .

A flowerpot teetered on the windowsill.

There was a curl dangling over one ear.

A curl dangled over one ear.

There was an old sofa in the room, centered against the opposite wall.

Centered against the opposite wall, a sofa squatted as if it had been mashed into the floor by a hundred elephants.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Beginning of a Novel

finished chapter one; 1,806 word count

Writing Tip: I feel good. I finished the first chapter. I've introduced one of my main characters and her sidekick. I've established her "normal" world. I've indicated her immediate desire. And I've plopped in the inciting incident.
I probably should go back and put in a little more description of the characters.
I feel like saying check, check, check, check, and oops. But the oops doesn't bother me much. It's fixable. And now, NOW, I am excited about this adventure.

Monday, March 22, 2010


The new book, Dragons of the Watch, has a goat in it. So how much do I know about goats. On a scale of one to ten, a low three. So I went to the Internet and read. Then I went to You Tube and watched goats. My next plan is to find the teen I know who raises pygmy goats and see if I can visit. I love this kind of research.

Friday, March 19, 2010

On to the next book

This next book is Dragons of the Watch. I've started, but I only have around 500 words written.
I have to praise my crit group for keeping me from embarrassing myself. In the first few page they read, they called my attention to two names I'd chosen. In my ignorance, I didn't realize one was a euphemism of a cuss word and the other was slang for a sexual term. Oh dear, I am truly a sheltered grandma.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Where did it go?

Last week I worked through my edit notes and made changes in my .doc. This morning I opened it and started reading. No changes. Hmmm? Okay, now I remember. I made a new file so I could keep the original to compare with the edited version. Where is it? Nowhere!
Thankfully, I just got an online back up program that will allow me to pick a day and restore that version. Ummm. What was the name of that program? Oh yeah! History. I pull down the history thingie and look through the websites I visited last week. There it is! I click. This is the sign up page. I've already signed up. How do I get to the page that isn't a sign up page? Found it. "My account." Phew! Email address; that's easy. Password? Um? probably used the bank password. Nope. maybe used the shopping password. Nope. Probably used my oldest password because I haven't used it for a while. Nope. Where's the button that says click here if you've forgotten your password? Don't see it. Where's support? Ahhhhhh. Ohhhhhh. You have to access your account before you can get into support. maybe I used one of the passwords backward. Aha! Thirty minutes later. Found this, which led to that. That is undecipherable. Found another this, and it also led to that. That still makes no sense. Found it! Found it! Found it! Won't open. Found support. Support leads to an endless scrolldown of FAQs and outlined step by step procedures, none of which sounds any more comprehensible than instructions for assembling an electric train set. Joy! Joy! Joy! found email to support. phrased question. Erased question. I sound like an idiot. Rephrased question. Erased question. I sound like someone trying to sound like he or she knows something when he or she does not. Rephrased question. pushed send before chance to erase was taken. now I am going to go look for our puppy we got for Christmas. Oh where oh where has my little dog gone. Oh where oh where can she be? Unless she'd been sucked into cyberspace and is residing in the computer, I'll find her.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Now What?

When you are first writing to get published, the answer to this question is to send the manuscript off to likely publishers, then dive into your next project.

Fortunately, my next projects are lined up for me. I am doing an edit on Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball which is due to come out Oct. 10th. I suppose I should write about this process. There are many times when writing tips should come up naturally.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Done! Done! Happy Dance! Done!

Ch 54 and epilogue done!!!; 93,890

Writers Tip: It is a good idea to put a manuscript away for a week to a month after completion, then take it out and read through with fresh eyes. Don't be alarmed when you first finish. Often your impression at the end of the long haul is that this is the worst thing you have ever written. After a break, you can be more objective.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Remaining in the Scene

Finished 52: 91,990 word count

Writing Tip: Remember what the other players are doing. In this scene characters A and B are headed into a dangerous situation. Lots of action is going on around them. This is the battle. So, I have to get A and B from point one to point two without taking them out of the scene and setting them back down where I want them. They still have to be a part of the ongoing action. So, as they skulk along, they overhear enemy chatter, they watch a dragon fight in the sky, and they aid a fight going on by snatching a weapon from the bad guys, and eventually get to point two. Lots of fun, not boring, and feels realistic.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Finished 51, started 52; 89,825 word count

Writing Tip: Remember these characters are not real people! I'm writing the battle scene and it is so very, very hard. Why? Because I don't want anyone to get hurt.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rewriting for imagery

Finished Ch. 50; 88,423 word count

Writing Tip: Evolution of a sentence:

The dark night whispered with chilly breezes.
Chilly breezes whispered in the dark night.
Chilly breezes whispered among the nearby bushes.
Chilly breezes whispered among huddled bushes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Creative Paragraphing

finished CH 49 again; word count 87,042

Writing Tip: In fiction, we can get away with re-writing some of the rules, some of the time. Not all the time, even though poet e.e. cummings did banish capital letters in his work. Sentence fragments are something that fiction writers can get away with. Again! only if they don't over do it.
So what is creative paragraphing? You may have already picked up the idea that it is breaking some rule. Right! To add emphasis, the sentences are listed instead of running along back to back.
This is The Grawl thinking:

So where were the statues? Where was their protector? The castle? The island? The mine?

But this is the same stream of questions in creative paragraphing:

So where were the statues? Where was their protector?
The castle?
The island?
The mine?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Short Sentences, Short Chapters

Finished 49; 86,925 word count

Writing Tip: Fast action scene=short, clipped sentences with simple language. This syntax moves the reader forward in the same staccato rhythm of a boxing match. As I come to the climax of the book, I find myself with short chapters as well. In this instance, the brevity of the chapters, the short accounts of where the main characters are and the direction they are going lends an urgency to the writing.
Boy, I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Prepositional Phrases Proliferating - No! No!

finished chapter 48; 85,597 word count

Writing Tip: When I present myself with a string of prepositional phrases, I know it is time to reword.

She tasted the breeze as well as luxuriated in the brush of warm wisps of breath on her skin.

Four prepositional phrases in a row are too many. Three is pushing the limit. This is the way I rewrote the sentence:

She tasted the breeze as well as luxuriated in the brush of warm breath-like wisps on her skin.

All on its own, it looks a little like purple prose, but since it is in Hollee's POV and she is rather flamboyant, it works.

Purple prose = overdone style, usually in descriptions.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whoopee! Fight Scene

Finished 47; 84,090 word count

Writing Tip: First, when writing a fight scene, don't have too many participants. In a battle scene you can say the flank took a hit, but that means all the men in the flank are counted as one person.
In a fight scene you have to stage the people in your mind and have your hero tackle one person at a time. Or two in quick succession. But don't, don't, don't have the hero all over the place. You have to move him through his offense and defense with precision.
Also it is handy if your foes are named. Named foes don't have to be labeled the burly man, the thin man, or the redhead. After you've said the thin man did this and the thin man did that, then the thin man did this and then the thin man did that, you and your reader are going to wish the thin man had a name.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sustaining Creativity

Finished Ch 46; 82,270

Writing Tip: Two readers have asked basically the same question. One wanted to know how I kept going and didn't get stopped by writer's block. The other wants to know how I keep the creative spark going page after page.
The answer is in how much you've invested in the story. The best books come out of an author's obsession with the characters and their "what ifs." Life can be awkward when a story has a hold of you. But without that compelling curiosity to find out what happens next, how your characters are going to react, and if the poor hero is going to make it through his/her next personal challenge, you might as well hang up your hat, or in this case, your keyboard.

So when a period of non-productivity raises its ugly head, focus on your characters. Eat with them, go shopping with them, drive the car with them, until you are forced to go to the computer and confine their activities to the printed page.


Writing Tip: Sometimes "the" is not needed.
I'm not really done for today so I am not going to list chapter and word count. But a reader note brought my attention to this passage, and I saw another edit. In the end, my editor has to take the manuscript away from me, or I would tweak forever.

In this sentence:

Tipper gasped as the pain shot from her foot, up her shin, and beyond her knee.

we can take out the "the."
And have:
Tipper gasped as pain shot from her foot, up her shin, and beyond her knee.

I like the second version a lot better.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What's up?

finished Ch. 45; 80,603 word count

Writing Tip: This was a hard chapter, and I know why. Every scene should move the protagonist toward or away from a goal, or the scene should reveal character development. This chapter was weak in those areas. Chapters with strong ties to progress frustration, or character are much easier to write, but this is a necessary chapter and had to be written.
Why is it necessary? Because it is one of those chapters that covers what someone is doing even though what they are doing isn't that riveting. But if you don't let the reader know what this character is doing, the reader is going to be saying, "Yeah, but what about so and so? What's up with him?"
So, since I had to write about what Tipper is doing while the war is going on, I decided to put her in some danger, demonstrate what the advancing forces were like, and put in a humorous defense. I admit, that Tipper's character didn't grow. She didn't move towards any goal except to stay alive, and that is always a worthwhile goal. And the plot did not make any leaps forward. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Show don't tell in dialogue

Finished chapter 44; 79,102 word count

Writing Tip: You don't have to say that the character speaking is embarrassed. You can add a couple of words and say it in the spoken dialogue.

“The main point of your father’s message is that he is proud of you.

Well now then, the main point of your father’s message is that he is proud of you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Implying Culture

Finished Ch. 43; 76,620 word count
broke 400 pages and 75K Hurray!

Writing Tip: Part of developing a world is establishing the culture of the society there. You could say, visiting with this dragon would require certain protocol. Because of his age and position among his fellow dragons, your character needs to dress well, speak in very polite terms, don't whistle, don't hiccup and giggle at the same time, for this is considered to be very rude.
That is telling, not showing.
So how do you imply what is correct behavior?
In this chapter, I had Fenworth instructing Hollee on how to behave while she was talking about something all together different. Other times you might have an outsider watching and reporting the ceremony. You could have someone do everything wrong and another person constantly correcting the first. make it fun instead of an information dump.

Friday, January 8, 2010

First sentence

finished Ch. 42; 74,968 word count

Writing Tip: It is important in a novel, a scene, a chapter to establish who, where, and mood. So as close to the first sentence as you can manage, tell the reader the setting and characters present and the mood of the passage.

Hollee hummed a sprightly tune as she followed Wizard Fenworth through the long tunnel that took them from the statue site to the surface.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More on Names

finished chapter 41; 73,090 word count

Writing Tip: How does one find names, or create names for characters and locations? I have several methods.
Phone book. I open the directory to a page and look for long names. Then I separate two or three into lists of syllables. I scramble the syllables and put them back together until I find a combination I like.
I do the same with names in a friend's family.
I take off the first letter of a friend's name and use what is left.
I do a modified pig latin thing with friends' names. For villains, I use celebrities I am NOT fond of.
I look up meanings in the website that gives you the word (like light) in dozens of languages.
I call my language professor friend and ask him to think up a cool name for something. That's how I got Wulder, which is an anglo-saxon word used for God. Actually it is only part of the word.
I had a friend who worked at Compassion bring me a list of names of children around the world. That's how I got kimen.
The one thing I avoid like the plague is alphabet soup names. Things like A'argriotisdaree'motarbtusnottabyph. Even my tumanhofer names are pronouncable by standard phonic rules.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

They have got to have NAMES!

Finished chapter 39; 69,767 word count.

Writing tip: In the last chapter I had some minor players come on the scene with the purpose of transferring some important information to the villains, so they could act upon it and cause my good guys a lot of trouble. I didn't name them for they truly are very minor charactors. But as I entered into the next chapter and it was time for them to speak, I ran into a problem. The first man spoke, then the younger man spoke, then the first man spoke again, then the character who wasn't speaking moved to another spot and in the end, I just couldn't handle these nameless folks properly. So I gave them short names so that I could keep track of them and so could the readers.
Often the cab driver can just be the cab driver. Or the cowboy is the cowboy. Or the cop is the cop. No names need to be introduced as these people are going to walk onto the set, do their duty, and depart. But once in a while the scene calls for multiple bit players to have labels, and names are the handiest form of label to use.