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I’m passionate about literature for young people. I love books that portray diverse experiences and cultures. I’ll be sharing my novel writing process, news from the publishing industry, books and authors, and other posts.
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1. Novel Wisdom (22)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

Last week, I finished this YA novel that touched a nerve with me. Bullying is taken on a whole other level with social media and technology, but the root of bullying hasn’t changed. Growing up working-class, I had several girls in my neighborhood who hated me for the basic reason that I loved books and got good grades. They tormented me all through middle school. It was an awful time. I became a different person as a defense mechanism and it took some years to find my way back to the girl I actually wanted to be. I was one of the luckier ones who had the support of a family who loved me and convinced me that I could have a better life. Now when I look back at those girls, I know it really wasn’t me that they hated.

From Lila, the aunt of Piddy, the narrator of the novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

MegMedina

You know where this Yaqui girl is going to be in a few years if she doesn’t change? She’ll still be there — same as always in her old neighborhood — a nobody with nothing. And guess what? That’s her worst fear. And who knows? Maybe that’s what she’ll deserve for being a punk and making people feel bad just because she could.

But you? You’re different. You’re going to be better than that, and that’s what kills her, Piddy. That’s what makes her burn with hate. She can already see you’re winning. You’re going to get an education and use your brain.

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2. Off the Grid Benefits

It’s been awhile since my last post. Hope everything is OK with everyone!

I’ve slowly managed my way back to civilization and “real world” life. Last month, I spent a week in the Caribbean and I must say it was the best thing I could have done for myself.

I was off the grid too. No access to my phone. No access to social media. It forced me to enjoy right what was in front of me.

I also didn’t do any writing. Usually when I take off and travel, it usually involves some type of writing – working or revising a current WIP but this time I literally did nothing but relax, read, and enjoyed the ocean, the sun, and the sand.

Being of the off the grid has benefits. Here were some of mine:

  • You can bring focus back to yourself. Self-care is something we don’t do enough of and having limited access to the outside world allowed me to access and remember all the simple things I love that bring me joy.
  • You can get back in touch with nature’s beauty. Just the simple things like the frosted wave caps of the ocean, the melody of a tropical bird, or even the sun baked warmth of the sand was a natural endorphin that gave me calm and peace.
  • You can practice the art of doing nothing. Everyone has a “to-do” list. It’s always “Go, Go, Go!” Sitting and doing nothing usually makes me feel guilty. But in reality it was a small gift that I gave to myself.

I know that not everyone can take off for a week and chill in the Caribbean but there are some small things everyone can do to take time off the grid. Maybe take a day and not use any smartphones or social media. Take pleasure in staying in your pajamas and sleeping in for as long as you want. Reserve a day to have a binge-watch party or read that book you’ve been trying to complete in snippets. Go to the park and have a picnic with no timeline of how long you stay.

Or make it a daily practice. Get up an hour early when the house is quiet or stay up a little later at night when everyone is asleep. Or for the busy person whose schedule is overflowing, how about just 10 minutes in nature? Put your bare feet in grass, close your eyes to the sun, and take a deep breath?

Have any of you been off the grid? Do any of you incorporate it in your life as a practice? I would love to hear about it!

3 Comments on Off the Grid Benefits, last added: 4/10/2014
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3. Vacation TBR List

My vacation starts tomorrow!

I’ll be spending some time off the grid in the Caribbean for awhile. I’m taking LOTS of books with me to-be-read (TBR). Not sure if I’ll be able to read all of them between relaxing and being fabulous. Ha.

I don’t know about you but there are SO. MANY. BOOKS. I want to read. For this trip, I have a sort of science fiction theme going but I also have some fun fiction, craft, and memoir in the mix as well.

Here’s what I plan on taking with me on my trip:

VacationTBRList_Small

In the After by Demitria Lunetta
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler
The Martian by Andy Weir
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
Conversations with Octavia Butler edited by Conseula Francis
The Awesome Girl’s Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men by Ernessa T. Carter
The Authentic Swing by Steven Pressfield

Read any good books lately? Let me know about them so when I get back I can add them to my already growing, leaning tower of TBR books!

2 Comments on Vacation TBR List, last added: 3/14/2014
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4. When Goals Fall Apart

This is the time of year when goals die.

Remember all those goals you set for yourself? What you planned on that bright and shiny January day when all things were hopeful and everything could be accomplished?

It’s now March and usually two scenarios are unfolding:

Scenario 1: You’re striving toward your goals and making great progress. You may even finish all your goals ahead of schedule. You’re officially kicking 2014′s ass.

Scenario 2: You’ve fallen off the wagon with your newly formed habits and now are having second thoughts about your goals. You’re getting behind schedule. 2014 is easily kicking your ass.

So let’s not talk about Scenario 1.

You’ve fallen off the wagon. You haven’t been consistent. You want to ditch all your goals and chill. All symptoms that your resolve and discipline are wearing off.

If you’re feeling this way, you’re right on schedule. This is usually the time of year when it happens. There are many reasons. I’ll share a few of mine:

  1. These goals require hard work and sacrifice — what the hell was I thinking?
  2. Overwhelmed with competing goals — I should take a nap and let my subconscious choose.
  3. These goals gotta be perfect — I want everything to be flawless and it kinda isn’t. Dammit.
  4. Fear of failure — if I stop trying to reach my goals I’m technically a quitter and not a loser.
  5. Coldest. Winter. Ever.

The good news is that it’s not too late for me and it’s not too late for you.

You can dust yourself off and get back on track. If you’ve swayed away from any new-formed habits or haven’t been working on your goals — don’t beat yourself up about it.

If your goals are falling apart, it may be time to get realistic — take a step back and reassess what you need to do.

Ask yourself this important question: Can I accomplish all my goals in 2014?

If your goals are reachable, make an effort to keep striving but realize you may fall off the wagon again. New habits are especially slippery and when you find yourself slacking off — start back up again. You may also have to dig deeper on why you’re not actually making an effort to make a goal happen. Is it fear of failure? Trying to be perfect? More than likely it’s psychological. Be honest with yourself and take it on a day by day basis.

If your goals are too over the top, scale back and break down into smaller milestones. Can you *really* write 1500 words a day? Is 500 words a better fit for you? Maybe take the word count totally out of the equation. How about writing for an hour or 30 minutes a day? You’ll be more motivated by the success of finishing manageable tasks instead of being overwhelmed and giving up.

How do you keep your goals from falling apart? Are you still on track for your 2014 goals?

7 Comments on When Goals Fall Apart, last added: 3/5/2014
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5. Drafting a Scene

Ugh. I absolutely hate writing draft. There’s nothing worse than facing a blank sheet of paper or a blank screen. For this current revision, I have 16 new scenes to write and I’m halfway done. My goal is to finish them all before the end of this month. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to my word count goal of 20K new words.

Recently on Twitter I came across a great craft article, How to get a scene from Brain to Paper by the author Kat Zhang on how she creates her scenes from scratch. It was very interesting and helpful and got me to think about how my own approach works.

Here are the steps — not necessarily done in this order — but mainly the different stages of what happens when I’m drafting a scene.

  • Word Vomit. This is usually when my Pomodoro Method helps a lot. I’m an outliner so I already have an idea of what the scene is about so I just write sort of a “stream of consciousness” on the page for a certain amount of time. No checking for misspelled words. No seeing if it makes sense. It’s all about getting words down on the page.
  • Dialogue. If I’m lucky, some of the word vomit makes sense and I start adding the dialogue of my characters if this is not a solo scene. If it’s a solo scene, I usually skip this step.
  • Action. I put in what the characters are doing when they’re speaking or when they are moving about in the scene. Good verbs usually are being identified at this point but usually what happens is that I just highlight the loser verbs to come back later and fix.
  • Character Motivation and Observation. I sprinkle in the motivations of the characters or what they observe about other characters or the setting of the scene. Things I usually ask my characters: What do you want in this scene? How do you feel about what is happening? What is your strategy and how are you going about it? They usually don’t answer me but sometimes when they do, I write it down.
  • Description. Ugh, not very good at description. This is where I struggle the most. I usually try and place the scene and maybe put in sentences to give the reader an idea of place. I may also put in character descriptions of clothes or hair – but only if it makes sense for the scene. Usually what happens is that description reads like a weather report or real estate copy and I have to come back later and fix.
  • Notes. I write notes about what else I want for the scene. I may revisit the next day but if I’m writing a lot of draft scenes, I usually stop at this surface level and come back later because other scenes may ultimately influence what happens and I tend to revise scenes in a group.

What about you? How do you write your draft? Do you edit as you go along? Do you “add-on” stuff in separate passes? Or do you wait until you revise?

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6. Novel Wisdom (21)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

As a writer, I’m always compelled by words — how they are constructed, how they emit emotion, and how they can reveal universal truths. Words
are the energy for which we create our novels.

I love when reading a novel how this is conveyed in a literal sense as in one of my favorite quotes about words in Novel Widsom (12).

I just finished a gem of a book that I found during my last library bookshelf browse. It’s a book that I’ve had on my TBR list for a while. I’m so glad that I was finally able to read it. Ari’s ache of loneliness and his journey to understand his place in the universe is palpable on the pages. And I also loved what he had to say about words.

From Ari, the narrator of the novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

AristotleDante
“Words could be like food – they felt like something in your mouth. They tasted like something.”

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7. Lessons from a Writing Routine

The one major thing I’ve learned in the last 18 months?

If you don’t prioritize it or wait until you “feel like it” — a novel can flounder and gather dust. And once you do start back writing, it will take you FOREVER to get back into your novel’s world.

This is what happened to me.

I was the type of writer who binged. I would write a lot of stuff in a flurry and then not write for a few days or weeks. Or months.

My goal was to revise my novel to get it ready for submission and in the last 18 months that has not worked for me. Instead, it’s only brought doubt, resentment and a little shame.

With my software geek responsibilities of running a huge project, working 14-hour days, my daily 2-hour commute, and just basic life happening — it simply wasn’t working.

I fought this realization for 18 months.

I knew that something had to change. What’s that saying? Doing the same thing over and over again and thinking you’re going to get a different result? Yep, they call that insanity. I finally came to the conclusion that my current strategy wasn’t working.

Last Fall, I decided that I had to create a morning routine. And I hated this because I’m a “night” person. This current novel and its subsequent drafts were written either on weekend binges or between the hours of 10pm and 2am.

So I created a morning writing routine: Every weekday I got up at 5:30 am and focused on my novel until 7:30 am.

I hated it.

But then I started going to bed at a decent hour. I also started to make progress. I was getting back into my novel’s world. I also felt better about doing something “just for me” for a change.

By the time my “real” day started, I didn’t resent what I had to do because I had already did the one thing I loved the most: Worked on my novel.

That was my major lesson: You must get a routine if you want to finish your novel. Here are some other things I learned:

  • Respect your Time: Find a block of time that you can work on your novel without interruption. Spoiler Alert: It’s going to be first thing in the morning.
  • Get Focused: During your writing time, find a tool that can help you focus. A lot of my writer friends use Freedom. I personally like using the Pomodoro Technique.
  • Be Realistic: Set goals for your session and be realistic on what you can accomplish. I write in scenes. So if the only thing I do is write or revise a scene, then I’m happy. Remember little steps bring big rewards over time.
  • Jump Back In: One day you will not get up or something will happen and you won’t be able to have your morning routine. Let it go. Start again the next day.
  • Reward Yourself: Keep a record of your routine. For me, if I do my morning routine for a full week with success, I give myself a little gift. Either a beauty product, flowers, or a nice dessert.

Writers, do you have a routine? What have you learned to keep it going? I would love to hear about it. :)

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8. Doing Less (And More) in 2014

We’re officially two weeks in to 2014…every one still doing OK?

I must admit taking half of December off did a lot for my mental health. 2013 was a mixture of highs and lows — mostly lows on the writing side since I didn’t achieve the goal I wanted to most — novel submission. But it’s pointless to dwell on this and instead move forward and continue on the journey.

I’ve overhauled my website during my break — unfortunately learning more about HTML5 and CSS3 than I ever wanted — but it’s times like these where being a software geek has its merits. So the Musings of a Novelista theme is gone and replaced with a clean and simple design.

I know this time of year lots of people think about the goals that they want to achieve but for me it’s not so much goals I want to accomplish but a better way of living and thinking to help me become a better writer. So I need to drop some detrimental things and replace them with beneficial ones.

In 2014, I’m doing less of…

  • Working 14 hour days
  • Stressing out about the future
  • Comparing myself to other people
  • Trying to be perfect in everything
  • Thinking publication is the answer
  • Saying “Yes” to things that bring no value

In 2014, I’m doing more of…

  • Saying “No” as a complete sentence
  • Living in the moment
  • Relaxing and taking time out for myself
  • Connecting with writer friends
  • Taking quarterly vacations
  • Writing from the heart

I know that we’re only two weeks in but I hope that 2014 gives you whatever you’re seeking. Stumbles and obstacles will happen but just brush yourself off and start back again.

If you a have a 2014 less/more list, I would love to hear about it. :)

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9. Guest Post: Finding Inspiration Through Quotes

Today Nutshell is sharing this fabulous guest post as part of her Story Sprouts Blog Tour. Enjoy!

The road to publication is paved with detours, roadblocks and bad weather. It’s enough to discourage any one. This is why it’s important for writers to keep on finding things that inspire them to keep pushing onward. These sources of inspiration can include the family members and friends who cheer us on as we trudge along; mentors who appear in our life and show us hidden paths or share helpful traveling tips; and small treasures we discover on our trek: stories that inspire us and nuggets of wisdom that change us forever.

Sometimes we find these treasures while we’re watching a movie — maybe it’s a line of dialogue that sticks in our minds and makes us think. Often we find it while we’re reading blogs or books. And it’s important that we write these down or find a way to remember the lessons they share.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to do just that. This year, whenever I encounter a great quote I plan to write them down. I’ve already set aside a small notebook just for this purpose. And if I happen to find these gems while browsing online, I plan to copy them onto my Evernote page so I can refer to them anytime.

Most of the quotes which inspire me to push on are quotes by authors, or quotes about writing in general. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels a certain way about writing, and that the authors I admire have taken the same journey I’m taking now. Reading these quotes reminds me that I am not traveling this road alone; that no matter how difficult the journey appears, it is not an impossible one; and that the people who reach their destination are the people who never give up.

I’d like to share some of my favorite writing quotes with you. I hope they inspire you to keep on walking this writing path, despite the detours, road blocks and occasional thunderstorm.

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. ~Vita Sackville-West

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it. ~Jules Renard

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury

Thanks for having me on your blog, Karen!

byline with storysprouts

STORY SPROUTS: CBW-LA WRITING DAY EXERCISES & ANTHOLOGY 2013

story sprouts book cover

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: CBW-LA Publications (October 18, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0989878791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0989878791
  • Edited by: Alana Garrigues, Nutschell Anne Windsor
  • 19 Authors
  • 38 Combined Anthology Entries
  • 6-hour Workshop
  • 10 Writing Exercises
  • Dozens of Photo, Character and Conflict Prompts

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Learn more about Story Sprouts

Join the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles

ANTHOLOGY BLURB

What happens when linguistic lovers and tale tellers workshop together? Inspiration. Wonder. Discovery. Growth. Magic.

Brave and talented, the writers featured in this anthology took on the challenge of dedicating one day to the raw and creative process of writing.
A rare view into the building blocks of composition, Story Sprouts is made up of nearly 40 works of poetry and prose from 19 published and aspiring children’s book authors.

This compilation includes all of the anthology writing exercises and prompts, along with tips, techniques and free online writing resources to help writers improve their craft.

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10. 2013 Fall TBR List

The software release is done. Yay! I’m slowly regaining back some of my sanity. Double-yay! My character is waking me up from sleep and talking to me again — which sounds crazy but you writers know that this is EXCELLENT news! Ha.

Fall is my favorite season. There’s so much to love. Especially all of the books. Here some recent and upcoming releases that I have on my To-Be-Read (TBR) List:

Fall2013

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer
The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Steifvater (9/17)
Season of the Witch by Mariah Fredericks (10/8)

How about you? Things going well with everyone? What books are you looking forward to reading this Fall?

6 Comments on 2013 Fall TBR List, last added: 9/11/2013
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11. Verb Collection

If you’re like me when you’re revising, you’re finding some really lame versions of constantly using weak verbs. Probably a lot of walking, looking or staring.

I have my beloved The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale but I’m finding that collecting verbs from novels put the word in context. You can see how the author is using the verb for effect and then you can take that same verb and use it in your own unique way.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and I’m loving the verbs I’ve been adding to my collection. Using a strong verb makes your character come alive on the page. Less passive and more active.

Do you have any word special word collections? What’s your process of revising for stronger verbs?

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12. How Many Keystrokes Do You Have Left?

I found out about this website called Keys Left, which calculates how many keystrokes you have left before you die.

Ha. Kind of morbid but cool to see what you could possibly do with the keystrokes you have left.

So after putting in my data for the calculation, I found out what my keystrokes can accomplish:

216,575,993 Keystrokes Left
1,546,971 Tweets Left
72 Novels Left
433 Computer Programs Left
21,657 Love Letters Left

Or

1,082,879 Emails to your boss left (this made me laugh — dude sometimes this feels like it could come true)

And this is just based on spending 4 hours a day typing at full speed. Of course for my 72 novels — this doesn’t count for revision — but when you put it in that kind of perspective — still cool.

Check out the Keys Left website and let me know how many keystrokes you have left and what you could possibly do with them. I would love to know! :)

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13. The Power of Empathy

As writers, we want readers to have empathy for our characters. We want readers to ache in their pain and revel in their victories.

One of my favorite TED talks is by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In The Danger of a Single Story, the novelist warns that if we only hear a single story of a group, we will only see that representation, which can lead to misunderstanding and misconceptions.

The power of empathy is important in writing our novels but also in our life. There are still many misconceptions of race, gender, sexual orientation — to lump a group into a single story — looking but not seeing that each person is an individual with her own powerful story.

This is why it is important to have diverse stories that allow readers to see a character’s interior landscape and understand that she is more than the color of her skin, her gender, or who she loves. Stories that allow readers to see that we are more alike than we are different.

It is easy to disconnect from someone who is different — especially when you have heard a single story — it is easy to look but not see that person.

This is the power of empathy — when you can understand and feel the pain, disappointment, fear, love, happiness and joy of another person — she is no longer different from you. She is no longer an unconnected stranger.

My hope is that we can break past the misconception that there is only one story to tell and we seek out the many stories that need to be heard.

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14. Horsehead Nebula

As some of you already know, I kinda have a geek love for space and astronomy, so sometimes I veer off-topic on the blog.

The Horsehead Nebula has always intrigued me. This particular image has enhanced coloring and extra bling to bring out its beauty.

horsehead

The nebula gets its namesake because the swirling clouds resemble a horse’s head. Also known as Barnard 33, this nebula is part of the constellation Orion and is approximately 1500 light years from Earth.

Shakira the Shih Tzu Update: For those of you who are wondering about the family dog and her recent surgery — she had her final post-op checkup yesterday and has been cleared. Yay! When Shakira was first admitted for emergency surgery, she was wearing a feather on right ear — a fashion statement for sure. Ha. To celebrate her successful journey back to health, the vets presented her with a present — a feather to put on her fur! It was very sweet of them. We are so grateful to everyone at the University of GA Veterinary School for saving Shakira’s life. :)

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15. Novel Wisdom (19)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

This post actually comes from a memoir. As many of you already know, I love inspiration and I tend to bend toward the brighter side of things. But sometimes real life happens and you can find yourself in a cloud of disappointment. This is why I love this quote as a reminder and I wanted to share it with all of you.


Me&Mom&Me
From her memoir Me & Mom & Me by Maya Angelou, when she realizes the gift of writing down her blessings:

“After that exercise, the ship of my life might or might not be sailing on calm seas. The challenging days of my existence might or might not be bright or promising. From that encounter on, whether my days are stormy or sunny and if my nights are glorious or lonely, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If pessimism insists on occupying my thoughts, I remember there is always tomorrow.”

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16. Plot Grids

If you were reading any of my tweets or viewing my Instagram pictures this past weekend, you know that I was hard at work integrating a new plot twist into my novel.

The ending of my current novel project has always haunted me. I’ve revised it several times and it never felt right. A couple of weeks ago I had an A-ha Moment and figured out how it could work — but it involved a huge plot twist that I would have to incorporate throughout the whole novel. Even though I knew it would cause me headaches and some rewriting, it was the right thing to do. It just felt right. A kind of writer’s intuition.

At this point, I had all of my scenes in chapters, so I revisited the spreadsheet of my novel and plugged away at incorporating elements of the new plot twist, which included moving scenes around, writing scene revision notes, and creating a list of new scenes.

But I found myself juggling papers and switching back and forth with my computer screen. It was making me batty so I decided that I would create a plot grid on the wall in my office.

I got the idea from Christina Farley. She has a fabulous blog post and YouTube video on how she creates her plot grid. There are many ways to do one. The main benefit is viewing your whole novel at a glance.

Being a plot chick, my grid is based on the 3-Act structure. I love author Alexandra Sokoloff’s Story Element Checklist, which uses screenwriting structure and tailors it to novels. But even if you just break your story down into 3 parts — beginning, middle, and end — that will work as well.

NovelPlotGrid

Here’s a quick summary of my plot grid:

  • For each of Act in my novel (I have my Act 2 broken down into two parts), I put a sticky note that represents one chapter with a sentence describing the scene(s). Sticky notes allow you to move things around easily. I used a specific color for each Act in the novel.
  • For the inciting incident, sequence climaxes, midpoint, novel climax, and resolution, I use purple sticky notes so I could easily identify these important chapters and how they are spaced out.
  • Now I can see at a glance how to better work in my plot twist and change things around if needed. It also lets me see my characters and settings to determine if the frequency works too. There are many ways to utilize a plot grid.

    6 Comments on Plot Grids, last added: 1/30/2013
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    17. 2013 Winter TBR List

    One of the things I want to improve on this year is to read more books. Having a stack of books is always a good problem to have wouldn’t you say? :)

    Here are some recent and upcoming releases that I’ve added to my 2013 Winter To-Be-Read (TBR) list:

    Winter2013TBRList

    Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
    Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
    The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington
    Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (2/5/2013)
    Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (2/15/2013)
    Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2/26/20103)

    How about you? What books are you looking forward to reading during the cold months?

    6 Comments on 2013 Winter TBR List, last added: 1/23/2013
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    18. Novel Wisdom (16)

    This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

    It’s been many years since I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I remember the movie vaguely. I’ve been listening to the audiobook narrated by the fabulous Claire Danes. She does an excellent job portraying Offred.

    There was a quote about betrayal that resonated because of my current novel project — since betrayal is one of the major themes. But during my Tuesday morning commute, I heard one that spoke more to me personally and I wanted to share it with you.

    The quote has a different context — fighting against the Republic of Gilead — but I believe it can also be transferred to any kind of resistance you may be fighting in your life.

    HandmaidsTale
    From Offred, the narrator of the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood:

    “I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.”

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    19. Novel Wisdom (15)

    This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

    This past Thanksgiving weekend, I had the chance to touch base with family and loved ones. We all had lots to be thankful for and I loved hearing about all of the blessings but something troubled me. I also heard about things that could have gone better — things that slipped through cracks or maybe plans that didn’t turn out well. Plaintive whispers of disappointment. This is why when I was reading this novel over the long weekend that this quote stood out for me.

    For those family members and loved ones, do NOT give up. Keep trying.

    From Karou, one of the main characters in the YA fantasy novel by Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor:

    “A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.”

    5 Comments on Novel Wisdom (15), last added: 11/30/2012
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    20. Wednesday Writer’s Workspace

    Today I’m the feature on the fabulous series Wednesday Writer’s Workspace. I love reading this series on The Writing Nut blog. Nutschell always has excellent posts on the writing process and other peeks into her life.

    So if you want to see what my writing workspace looks like and who some of my favorite authors are, you can go over and visit Nutschell’s blog.

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    21. Southern Thanksgiving

    I’ve packed my bags and I’m on my way to the family compound. :) I’m so looking forward to spending time with family and loved ones and RELAXING.

    That’s the key word: RELAX.

    It’s been a very busy few weeks and I’m so excited to put my feet up on the ottoman and read some of the books on my TBR list. No Black Friday shopping for me.

    For those of you in the United States, you already know we have an upcoming special holiday. THANKSGIVING! I loooooooovvvvve this holiday. With the huge extended family I have there is always some serious yummy food to eat.

    This year we decided to go house hopping to visit the relatives so we’re keeping it low key but here’s what on our menu — southern style:

    • Turkey
    • Cornbread dressing
    • Collard Greens
    • Creamed Corn
    • Potato Salad
    • Squash Casserole
    • Deviled Eggs
    • Sweet Potato Souffle

    So that’s what we’re eating tomorrow. I can’t wait!

    I hope all of you have (or had) a fabulous Thanksgiving. Remember all of the things you are thankful for and be grateful and blessed. :)

    Also pace yourself with all the good food — use small plates! — and take a walk after dinner too. Ha, ha.

    4 Comments on Southern Thanksgiving, last added: 11/30/2012
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    22. Novel Wisdom (14)

    This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about life paths. I feel like I’m at a crossroads and my next choice will be an important one. This is one of the reasons I love this quote from this phenomenal author.

    From Gordy the class genius to Junior the protagonist in YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie:

    “If you’re good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can’t be wrong.”

    5 Comments on Novel Wisdom (14), last added: 11/30/2012
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    23. Tumblr and Pinterest for Writers

    WritingInspirationHeader

    As most of you who read the blog, you know how much I love writing inspiration. Here are few Tumblr and Pinterest favorites that I follow:

    Tumblr

    Pinterest

    What are some of your favorite Tumblrs? What are some of your favorites on Pinterest? I would love to discover some new ones. :)

    5 Comments on Tumblr and Pinterest for Writers, last added: 1/21/2013
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    24. My Four Words for 2013

    Another year has dawned upon us. It’s 2013 and a new start.

    For those of you who have been following my blog for awhile, you know that I have a core set four words that I use to center my life. But I think for 2013, I’m going to also focus on a specific set of words to help me reach my goals.

    • Balance. I will be on a high-profile software project for most of the year. When I first found out, I wasn’t that happy about it. I knew it would only mean less time for writing. So instead of me being resentful, I will use this opportunity to implement balance and find a place for writing in my life. My goal is to find that balance until I decide on a job that can better complement my writing.
    • Focus. Guess what I learned in 2012? Multitasking is a myth. So I want to try to focus on one thing at a time. Prioritize and learn to give my true attention to the task in front of me. It won’t be easy but I think I will get more accomplished this way.
    • Depth. I was very happy when I finished my novel project last year. A miracle considering my limited time. My goal was to start the submission process, but in my heart I know the novel still isn’t ready. So before I can truly move on to the next project, I need to add more depth to this novel. The good news is that I know what must be done.
    • Forgiveness. This is the most important word of all. Even with all the preparation and good intentions, things will fall apart this year. I plan to forgive myself when things don’t work out instead of beating myself up when things slip. I will forgive myself because I’m only human and I’m doing the best that I can with what I have.

    The year is new and limitless. Anything can happen. What are your plans for 2013?

    5 Comments on My Four Words for 2013, last added: 1/21/2013
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    25. 2012 Favorite Picks

    Blog Hiatus: This is my last post for 2012 and I’ll be returning on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013. But you can always chat with me on Twitter. For those of you who celebrate during this time of year, have a fabulous holiday season. I hope all of you have a safe and happy New Year!

    Whew, 2012 was such a *busy* year. I didn’t get as much reading done as I wanted. I still have so much to read on my Kindle plus I have many books stacked in a TBR pile. I’m looking forward to spending my December nights by the fireplace getting lost in novels.

    Fortunately, I did read some great books this year. These are just a few of my favorites that I wanted to share with you.

    Favorite Fiction Picks

    A Million Suns by Beth Revis
    Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
    Cinder by Marissa Meyer
    The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
    Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
    This is Not a Test by Courntey Summers

    Favorite Craft Picks

    Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod
    The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson
    Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
    Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
    Wired for Story by Lisa Cron
    Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass

    What were some of your favorite reads in 2012?

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