Sunday, December 30, 2012

Writing for the reader AND me

I like suspense. I like approachable, compassionate characters. I like relationships that are believable and ones that I want to continue to learn about even after I finish reading a book. I know I've read a great book when I'm yearning for what happens next. Having said all that, I need to keep myself on track with what I enjoy, with what appeals to me as a reader. For example, when I kept hearing friends and acquaintances talk about the "Fifty Shades Trilogy" I got it in my head that all readers wanted to read about sex. This led Kody to climb into bed with a character and I did my best to describe the scene. That is soooooo not me. I get embarrassed even saying the word sex, and then I think about my mom and grandma reading the book and it makes me feel sick inside. I don't know why I am the way I am, but that's just me. As I start back to work on book #3, I'll be sure to reread the explicit scene. Work is still delayed though. My kids need to show me something every other minute...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Beginning again

The holidays are almost over and life will soon get back to normal. I'm pretty relieved I have to say. I've hardly written a word for about two weeks because of my preoccupation with shopping, baking, and spending time with the family. It'll take a bit to get back in the groove, but I'm hoping to cruise right along to the end. Book #3 is at the turning point, the point where questions will begin to be resolved. Plus, with two more favorable reviews of "Missing Maggie" I have more incentive to keep going. Yes, sales are slow, but when I hear or read about someone enjoying my stories, I can't help but smile. I love to entertain. I love that others find what I do enjoyable. Now all I have to do is get my butt out of bed tomorrow morning and get things started!

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Davidson Christmas Letter

After I wrote yesterday's blog post, I got right to work on our family Christmas letter. It's a bit cheesy, but I couldn't get myself to write the token form letter. The photo cards printed last night so envelopes will be in the mail this afternoon to all our friends and family. Whether or not they arrive in time for Christmas is sketchy, but at least the task is off my conscience. Enjoy!

            “I didn’t eat them, Mom. Why do you always blame me?” asked Jax, a 12-year-old who loved eating sweets, especially his mom’s chocolate chip cookies.
            “Koy, did you eat them?” Mom asked. “Koy? Will you stop moving for a second and answer me?”
            “I didn’t eat them either, Mom,” Koy answered while stacking the couch cushions to jump on them for the hundredth time that night.
            “Well, I’d ask Ilsa if it were a bag of chips. She would never eat a plate full of cookies.”
            Mom was perplexed. She had helped her kids set out the plate of cookies for Santa and they mysteriously disappeared while she was in the basement for a brief moment with her sports-fanatic husband watching yet another college football game. He didn’t eat the cookies.
            “That dog must have done it,” Mom said, searching for the family’s adorable, yet constantly hungry black lab named Jem. “Jem, did you eat Santa’s cookies?” Jem wagged her tail, but was too lazy to lift her head.
            Mom walked back downstairs to ask the kids one more time where they thought the cookies might have gone.
            “Maybe I farted on them and they turned into the air,” Koy said with a devilish grin.
            “Maybe Jax and Koy ate them all and just aren’t telling you the truth. You should ground them,” Ilsa said, smiling. She made it her goal in life to get her brothers in trouble.
            “Mom, I didn’t eat the cookies and I have no idea what might have happened to them,” Jax said, irritated by Mom’s incessant questioning.  
            Completely annoyed with her family, Mom went to her room and turned on the Food Network channel. She muttered to herself, “Well, I didn’t eat the stinkin’ cookies.”
             Later that night when the kids were all snug in their beds with visions of iPods, iPads, and other electronic devices dancing in their heads, Mom and Dad heard noises coming from downstairs.
            Dad said, “It’s probably Ilsa trying to peek at her presents.”
            “I don’t think so. Let’s go check it out,” Mom urged.
            Mom and Dad wrapped up in their bathrobes and walked downstairs, passing Jem who figured they had everything under control. The noise had stopped before they hit the second set of stairs. The lights on the Christmas tree were shining bright.
            “I know I unplugged those lights,” Mom said.
            Dad stepped farther into the room and lifted the empty cookie plate from the coffee table.
            “The kids refilled that plate. How could they disappear again?” Mom wondered.
            Dad shrugged his shoulders and set the plate down. Mom gazed at the Christmas tree and noticed a small, handwritten note under it. The note read:

You bake such delicious cookies that I had to stop by twice. Thank you. Please hug and kiss your children every day and tell them that you love them more times than they think is necessary.
Peace on Earth and Merry Christmas, Santa
            Mom and Dad looked at each other in disbelief. Neither was sure how the note got under the tree, but both knew that the message sent was one they could live by. They hugged, said “I love you” and hustled back to bed, promising to hug and kiss their children first thing in the morning. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Christmas Letter

Since the birth of my oldest son, who is now 12, I have written a Christmas letter. It's usually the type of letter that tells friends and family we don't see all that often what our family has been up to. The past few years I've gone outside the box a bit. I wrote a poem, quoted the kids, and then made the kids create original artwork. The artwork isn't going to happen this year -- they've all ready nixed that idea. The letter is on the verge of not happening either. I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't know why I can't write the letter. Well, part of the reason is because now I feel like I have to top the creativity of the last two years. Everyone was so impressed and since I'm claiming to be a writer, I have to make it good. Just like everything  else in the writing world, I have to make it unique. I have to make it stand out.

I do have one idea...a short story with my family as the characters. My only worry is that our recipients will be overwhelmed at receiving a 1-2 page letter filled with words and not pictures. It might get lost in the shuffle. Either way, this letter (if it even gets done) isn't going out before Christmas. Fa la la la la!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Synopsis complete

I wrote a 744-word synopsis for an approximately 72,000-word novel. Not an easy task, but it wasn't as hard as I envisioned. I wrote it in about an hour and then I have been revisiting it over the last several days. Yesterday, I sent out a few emails only to be halted by one company's request for a 500-word synopsis. I would have to take out two entire paragraphs. It doesn't seem right.

I've all ready received four or five rejections. I'm not too fazed by them, although I have to admit that every time I check my email I'm hoping to find that one agent asking for more information. It could happen. Until I get this agent search out of my system, I've stopped writing my next book. I'm too distracted. Christmas doesn't help matters any either. I'll update you on the status of book #3 very soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Writing a synopsis

As if writing a query letter isn't bad enough, I need to write a 1-2 page synopsis detailing the beginning, middle, and end of Sincerely, sad dad. I'm referring to the Writer's Market and Writer's Digest for help. They have articles outlining the basic approach to writing the synopsis, along with tips on what not to do. I think writing the plot will be semi-easy, but I'm concerned with not being able to get my voice or writing style into it. Kody can't have a sassy conversation with her best friend, Kendall, in the synopsis. My sad dad can't relay how disturbed he feels over losing his beautiful, young daughter. Mrs. Lopez and Kody's other clients can't shine through for a little comic relief. I'll have to keep reminding myself, "Just the basics, Jen, but make it sparkle."

My plan is to outline the book's main events and then add the personality later. I won't get off my butt until it's done! That's a lie. It's Christmas time and I'm not ready! I'll sit until the urge to knock items off my to-do list becomes too much, which hopefully isn't before noon.

One last thing, I lowered the price of the paperback for Sincerely, sad dad to $8.99. It is available at that price at this site: In 3-5 business days, Amazon will show that price as well. Hopefully it's in time for you to save a few bucks if you're interested in giving a new book for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My search for an agent

I decided over the weekend to try my hand at seeking the representation of a literary agent for Sincerely, sad dad. Sales are not what they were for Missing Maggie so I'm thinking I need to change things up a bit. The task is daunting to say the least. There are about a gazillion agents out there ready to send me that auto-reply e-mail saying, "Thanks, but no thanks." My first rejection came today only 25 minutes after I clicked Send. Impressive. She knew right away my work wasn't for her. Ugh.

I seriously need to change my attitude. 'Tis the season, for crying out loud! Okay, so here's what's really going to happen. I'm going to get an e-mail tomorrow (it's my birthday so it's the perfect day for great news) from an agent who can't wait to send me a three-book deal, and wants to give me a $10,000 advance. I'm not greedy. Ten thousand sounds delightful. I'll call my husband at work and he'll shout for joy. We'll go out for dinner at a pizza place because I LOVE pizza. To top it off, my kids will go the entire night without picking a fight with each other. Oh, yeah. I am totally buying a lottery ticket too. 12/12/12. Book deal or not, I'm bound to be a winner!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Giving to those that have it all

We all have those people in our lives, the ones that can buy whatever it is they want. These individuals are extremely difficult to buy Christmas gifts for. My husband and I usually settle on buying something edible. It might be wine, a box of chocolates, or that big, fat cheesecake we sometimes get a craving for. I'm hoping others in my same predicament think to buy books for their loved ones. I'll sometimes buy books or other conversation starter items. One year I even bought a box of cards essentially called conversation starters. They were intended to strike up a discussion between the young and old, drawing the perspective of both. I've thought about buying them for our family, but then dashed the idea because when else during the day would I get the chance to be completely frustrated when no one liked or ate a meal I prepared. I prefer to be angry at most meals. It's been so long I don't know any different actually. Um...I'm not sure where this is going....fa la la la la!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Even the big authors make mistakes

I've read and heard several complaints about how self-published books are filled with grammar mistakes and more. Having just finished reading Stephen King's Mile 81, it seems that even the big authors make  mistakes. This boggles me actually. Where was his editor on this one? How could someone of his caliber put something out to the public with such glaring mistakes? I counted at least seven and the book, according to my Nook, is only 52 pages long. Now, just because he made those errors, it doesn't make it okay. I still strive to do the very best I can every day. It's a battle, I tell you. BUT, it does make me feel a tad bit better knowing that the best have flaws too. After all, he is human. His stories freak me out, but he is still human.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book fair time

I'm spending much of this week at my kids' school book fair where I'm surrounded by catchy titles and bright colors. I can't forget to mention the oodles and oodles of Star Wars books available in all shapes and sizes (And I thought I was tired of all the vampire books!). It's endearing to watch the little ones get excited about books and reading. Their eyes light up when they spy their favorite television or book characters adorning the shiny covers. They grab their friend by the shirtsleeve and say, "You have to read this one. It is soooo good." Then there are the quiet kids who snag a book and try to read the whole thing before they have to get back to class. Part of my job is to take care of the kids' purchases, but the other part is to share my love for books. I hope they can feel my love.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Words of encouragement

Nice words. Kind words. Thoughtful words. I love words of encouragement. It doesn't matter if you're writing a book, refinishing a piece of furniture, or training for a marathon, certain words and phrases lift your spirits and keep you moving in the right direction. Whenever a reader tells me they loved my first two books and then ask when the next one is going to be ready, it warms my heart. It makes me want to continue to write my stories. It makes me want to strive to do better. I also try to do the same in return. I'll throw out a compliment here or there. I'll tell someone how wonderful they are at something. It especially works on my kids who because of my over-the-top encouragement do not lack self-confidence in the least bit. They pretty much think they are the most awesome people around. Sure, someone is bound to knock them down, but I would be willing to bet a better person will be standing by to pick them back up. So go ahead and dish out a few compliments. Make someone's day.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My first selling experience, cont'd

After selling two books by about 10:30 yesterday morning, the rest of the day went rather slow. No more sales. I talked to a handful of interested readers. The show was over three hours earlier than expected because fewer dance teams signed up to compete. The upside was that I won the vendor raffle and took home a $50 gift card that covered the cost off being there. Was it worth my time? Yes. It gave me that first selling experience and pushed me out of my comfort zone. Would I do it again? Probably. It wasn't much of an expense, some people saw my name, and the entrance fee went to the dance organization my daughter attends. Do I wish it had produced more of a buzz? Heck, yeah. I wished the whole place had bought a copy, but like the first woman who stopped by, my books aren't for everyone. Next on my to-do list: find another venue to sell the remaining books. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My first selling experience

10:15 I'm here. People are all around, mostly parents with their little ones in tutus and other colorful dance attire. My heart is racing. One woman picked up a book and said, "Nah." I smiled. My books certainly aren't for everyone. I have six more hours of being bold. It's exhausting. Plus, I stayed up too late last night playing Bunco with a great group of women. Lots of laughs, which helped me not worry about today.

What are my expectations for today? Pass out all 100 postcards I had printed. Even if I don't sell a single book, people will see my name and the titles of my books. This event won't be a total loss if that's all I accomplish. The day will be a complete success if I sell just a few books.

10:25 Not to brag or anything, but I just sold my first book!!!!!!
10:30 I sold one more. I'll let you know how the rest of my day goes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Honing my craft

I picked up a few books on writing last week at the library. That's not why I went there, but that's beside the point. Okay, I went there to look up agent names to try that avenue once again. I've yet to do anything with the few names I found. I can't get it out of my head that it's a complete waste of my time. Also, writing those query letters is a daunting task. I'd rather write a 100,000-word novel than a one-page document describing my 100,000-word novel. Doesn't sound easy, does it? Back to the books about writing. I'm currently reading, "Words Fail Me," by Patricia T. O'Conner. The book doesn't necessarily tell me anything new, but it contains a lot of helpful reminders. It contains examples of good and bad writing, a list of words that take up space rather than add meaning, and tips on how to organize my thoughts. I also like that she thinks everyone has the potential to be a good writer if they put enough time and energy into it. Like anything else in life, it's all what you make of it. I thoroughly hate cliches, but it is what it is. Ha!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Be Dazzled

Be Dazzled is the name of the event I'll be selling books at this coming Sunday. It's a dance team competition at the high school in Byron, MN. I'll be in the hallway or entryway with the other mom's hoping to strike it rich with their home-based businesses. It should be interesting. I'm hoping some parents can't tolerate watching one more dance team so they'll buy my book for something to do. I've been a "dance mom" for almost eight years now so I know what it's like to watch a couple hundred ballerinas leap across the stage. It can drive you a little crazy after a while. If you're in the area, feel free to stop by! I'll be the one not trying to make you skinny or environmentally savvy. I just want to share my stories with you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

He almost did it again

My son almost did it again. His assignment last night for social studies was to interview two adults about their jobs and the responsibilities that went along with them. The evening started the way a similar conversation did four years ago, a conversation that was published in Rochester Women magazine. Four years ago I hadn't started writing books yet so in his eyes I was "just a stay-at-home mom." It hurt to hear him say I didn't do anything and that I didn't have a job. I got past it...sort of. To hear him say that writing wasn't a real job about killed me last night. I work way too hard to be told that. Just because I don't have publishers knocking down my door and I don't make double digits each month doesn't mean writing isn't a job. Anyway, he redeemed himself later saying that since James Patterson was a popular writer it must be okay. Whatever. I put on my fake smile and answered his questions. He, being a pretty good writer himself, used words and phrases to make my "job" sound more exciting. Obviously, I have some issues with my status in life for whatever reason. It's on my list of things to work on.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My solitary life

I like my peace and quiet, don't get me wrong, but after a few days of just me and my netbook, I get a little crazy. I start looking around at all the things that are wrong with the house, the dog, my nose. I'll even talk to the dog. She just looks at me lazily from her spot on the couch though. I'll periodically yell at the cats for dropping dead rodents on the deck outside our back door. I'd wave to the mailman if I thought he'd wave back. Focus, Jen, focus. Write your book. Write your stinkin' book! Writing a book is not as easy as you might think. You spend your days making up weird scenarios between people that have conversations in your head. MY HEAD IS FILLED WITH IMAGINARY PEOPLE HAVING CONVERSATIONS. Oh, my. Maybe I should get some fresh air.

Friday, November 2, 2012

My first booth

On November 18th at the Byron, MN high school I signed up to have my first vendor booth. How exciting, huh?! Sure, it doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but to me it's another social engagement to peddle my wares. That doesn't come along every day, you know. I actually don't even know if I've been accepted so I should really keep my excitement to a minimum. Although, the poster I had made came in the mail last week and it doesn't look too shabby. Yesterday, I placed an order for books. Today, I had my hair cut and colored. She even colored my eyebrows, which is a first for me. I kind of like it. Oh, and a week or so ago I received the postcard advertisements I'll be passing out. As far as I can tell I have everything covered. All I'll need that day is a dazzling smile and some courage.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New sales milestone

At some point in the last two days, I surpassed selling 2000 copies of Missing Maggie. Not bad for one year of sales! It's not like I have anything to compare it to. I have no idea what other self-published authors sell during a year's time. Regardless, at this point in my career, every book sold is still exciting and my emotions still rise and fall with the change in the Amazon rankings.

Thinking of anniversaries, today is the day I met my husband 20 years ago. I can't even believe it. I've been with him more years now than not. Looking back on that Halloween night, I see him with his baseball player buddies. He had longer hair, a devilish smile, and a cocky attitude. At 18, I'm not sure which of those characteristics drew me toward him. At 39 (he's a tad bit older than me), his hair is shorter, his smile is genuine, and he cares more about the people around him than himself  at times. How did I get so lucky? Who knew that on that night I had met the man I'd spend the rest of my life with? I love you, Davey.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kody's Halloween story

Kody Burkoff, ghostwriter and main character of my books, is having her own Halloween fun in book #3. It's so fitting that I'm starting the week writing about this. Being that she's a single lady, you'd think I'd have her go to a costume party where she finds another Mr. Wrong, but that isn't how it goes. She actually does her best friend, Kendall, a favor by babysitting so that Kendall and her husband can have a well-deserved night out. Having had a few too many drinks, Kendall decides to repay her friend by bringing home a surprise. You will never guess WHO she brings home. I giggle every time I think about writing the scenario. It still isn't quite clear in my head how it will all play out. Is Kody excited, shocked, angry? Is he sober enough, willing? If you've read my other two books, you know I like to break up the drama with some lighter stuff. This will definitely be light with some zing to it. I'm not talking Shades of Gray, which I haven't read yet, but it will get a bit steamy. I briefly mentioned him in the last two books. Who do you think it is?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A change of heart

I'm having a change of heart with the plot of book #3. I thought I had it all figured out months ago, but now that I'm a quarter of the way through writing it, I'm having second thoughts. I'm questioning whether or not my main character would actually do what I had planned for her. That's the funny thing about creating characters, at least for me anyway. They don't always turn out the way I plan. I like the character the way she is and I believe that with her I've created some great themes. The problem is that the way she is currently written, she doesn't fit my plot. What does a writer do when that happens? She changes the plot I guess! So much for making a plan and an outline before I began writing. That's a little frustrating, but I'm sure I'll get over it. Not all of it has to go, fortunately. With that said, I have a lot of work ahead of me and there's no time like the present.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Like Water for Chocolate

"Like Water for Chocolate" is another one of my favorite reads so I'm alternating between reading that and "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography." These books are so different in every way that it won't be a problem getting the two mixed up. "Dakota" is pretty serious and really makes me reflect on the world I grew up in. I'm reminded of the bond I share with other Dakotans having endured countless snowstorms with white-out conditions and preferring a less crowded existence over big city life. I'm certainly enjoying the book much more now that I'm older. In college, I had no appreciation for the land and its people and I didn't want to share similarities. Now, I'm proud to say I'm from the region.

"Like Water for Chocolate" is a tall tale of sorts that requires you to open your imagination. It's fun, silly, yet incredibly endearing. I've only just begun again, but knowing all that lies within keeps me turning the pages. It reminds me of one of my favorite movies too and not just because of the title. The movie is "Chocolate" with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche. The book and movie have similar characteristics and if you haven't read or seen either, I highly encourage you to do so.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rereading "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography"

Last night I started rereading a professor's favorite book, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, by Kathleen Norris. I read it my junior or senior year of college and was not impressed. It wasn't her writing that didn't impress me, it was the content. Ms. Norris praises Dakota, which is the term she uses to refer to both North and South Dakota. Having lived on the prairie my entire life, I did not see the beauty of the land or its people. I was young and ready to seek another geography, another way of life. I thought beauty was everywhere but in Dakota.

It's interesting that I've held on to the book for this long. It's remained in my travels since college because I knew it was a book I wanted to get back to one day. It was a book I knew I had to grow into. I still remember the day I told my professor my thoughts. He didn't argue with me, but like all other books "I just didn't get," he tried to convince me of its worth. The combination of his excitement and my determination to see the beauty that I had lived in for the first twenty-one years of my life must be the reason for me keeping it.

I barely made it through the first chapter last night, only because I was tired, so I'll let you know how it goes. I'm hoping to finish the book appreciating the place of my childhood. I'm hoping that its place on my shelf has been earned.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

They're in the mail

The paperback copies of Sincerely, sad dad are in the mail, or will be very shortly, to the Goodreads Giveaway winners. I drove to the post office yesterday not remembering it was Columbus Day. That was a bummer. I'm pretty nervous about sending out copies to those five winners. I'm nervous that they won't like it and then they'll post their reviews online and then everyone will read them and then no one else will want to read my book and then I'll feel devastated and then I'll question my abilities AGAIN and then I'll get so annoyed with myself for having to go through these same emotions every time I pass out a copy. Whew! Sometimes it isn't easy being me. I can be so hard on myself. But then there's the positive me...what if all five readers simply adore the book and they all have a thousand close friends whom they pass the title on to and then those friends download the book, one of those friends being Oprah, yes Oprah, and she gushes over it and can't wait to get her hands on me so that she can tell the whole world that they should read my book and then I'm flown to the Caribbean because that's where she's vacationing and she feels that the interview will go better if the ocean breezes are wafting over my face and so we have a wonderful interview, I hug her goodbye, and await the phone calls and emails from other authors like James Patterson and Sandra Brown congratulating me. Whew! That would be awesome!

Friday, October 5, 2012

So many books to read

I've perused a lot of book sites lately making lists of the latest books I want to read. There are so many! It's this time of year when many authors publish their latest works, except for maybe James Patterson who can't decide which month is best so he publishes one each month. He still boggles me. Is he some kind of robot? I'd like to meet him some day to hear his secret to success.

Anyway, I added many new books to my goodreads account so that I don't forget the titles when I'm ready. Before reading my last couple of books, I was focusing on MN authors and before that I read several of the books purchased by customers that bought my books. Now, I'm not sure which path to take. I might read some popular authors and really try to dissect their stories to discover what makes them so great to so many readers. Is it the suspense? Is it the characterization? Is it the pace of the story? Is it the jaw-dropping action? It sounds like a daunting task, but one that I'll hopefully enjoy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Finding an agent

After listening to MN author, Julie Kramer, speak last week, the thought of finding a literary agent has again entered my mind. I tried briefly before self-publishing Missing Maggie, but it was a pretty weak attempt. I've learned a lot since then. I've learned how to go about finding agent names, which is to look at books comparable to mine and read the author's acknowledgment page. Most authors name and thank their agents. This will be a very time consuming task and one that I don't necessarily look forward to. It takes away from my writing time, which is a bummer. If I had an agent though, I'd have more time to write and spend less time fretting about how to promote my books.

Speaking of promoting, my Goodreads giveaway ended on 9/30 and five readers were chosen to receive paperback copies of Sincerely, sad dad. My box of books shipped yesterday so the copies should be in their hands early next week. I can only hope their reviews aren't too harsh. I'm very nervous about that.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Witty dialogue

Writing witty dialogue is so fun to do! In book #3 I introduce Kody's brother, Justin. He and Kody have a typical brother/sister relationship except theirs is a little more immature. Justin reminds me of Stifler, who is an obnoxious character from the American Pie movies. Justin has a good heart and intends well when it comes to his family and friends, but he is not beneath pulling disgusting pranks. I can't help but laugh at one scene I wrote recently. My oldest son also helps me develop Justin's character. Disgusting pranks are not beneath him either. This morning the Burkoff siblings were at it again. Justin called to inform Kody that something was up with their parents. I didn't get too far in the scene before the rest of my family starting waking up and making noise. I'm thinking about posting a scene from book #3 once and awhile. It can't hurt. Or maybe it can. Oh, the dilemmas!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Minnesota Author: Julie Kramer

Last night I went to listen to a fellow MN author give a talk at the library at University Center Rochester. With approximately thirty to forty people in the room, it was an intimate setting for Ms. Kramer to share her publishing story and speak about her five books, the newest being Shunning Sarah. She started off the night by explaining her theory on the saying, "Truth is stranger than fiction." Having been a TV news producer for twenty years, she's seen it all and swears that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. She urged fellow writers not to worry if a plot is too outlandish, claiming that if you write it well enough, the reader will believe anything. She then reminded us of the true story of the crazy female astronaut who wore a diaper while driving cross country to save time on her travels to commit murder. Point taken.

I was frustrated to hear that Ms. Kramer was accepted by the first agent she contacted. That certainly doesn't happen everyday. When asked if there were plans to make any of her books into movies, she said no and thought that perhaps her stories would make a better TV series. She also mentioned that most books don't make it to the big screen, and that the fame and popularity of The Help doesn't happen but once a decade. Kathryn Stockett's success makes me incredibly jealous as well. What an amazing writer!

I came away from the night still believing that I, too, have a chance to succeed as a writer. I'll just keep plugging away, trying to improve my craft and tell the best story I can. As the saying goes, "Anything is possible."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Demons and vampires

How much longer will this last? Why the obsession with demons and vampires? I just don't get it. I was scrolling through the list of book giveaways on and was amazed at the amount of new books in that genre. It seems to me that the market is saturated with those types of books. But maybe readers can't get enough of them. I'm not much of a fantasy reader so it's hard for me to comprehend the draw toward this fantasy world. Is it the method at which the victim is stalked that's exciting or is it the possibility that the victim overcomes the predator? Or is it just the mad passion between the demon or vampire and the human? Since the Fifty Shades books are popular now, my guess is it's the passion. I'm not sure I'll read those books either. Maybe I should just to see her recipe for success, although I think I already know what it is. Unfortunately, I have too much Norwegian in my blood to be that kind of a writer.

Reminder: Only five days left to enter the book giveaway on for Sincerely, sad dad.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Riding the wave

I'm trying not to take it personally, but the recent book sales slump also has me slumping. The real problem is that I don't know how to fix it or if it is even something I can fix. My sister tried convincing me that September was slow in her field too because of school starting. I guess I can believe that since my own house is busy with school and sports. I still have time to read though! My husband keeps telling me that things will get better. We takes turns boosting each other up because things aren't always wonderful in education either. Even with their kind words, I'm thinking of new ways to market the books. My inner saleswoman wants to be bold and boisterous. She wants to walk up to complete strangers and hand them a business card. She wants to email and Facebook popular community members and ask them to take a chance on someone new to the field. Maybe if I drink more coffee that woman will come out of her shell. Who am I kidding? A bottle of Jack is more like it. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Talking it out

I was able to work out a few kinks in my writing the last few days. Book #3 is no longer on the naughty list. Whew! Things were not looking good for a while. I sent my mom the first two chapters to get her opinion on what I should do and she liked what I had written, but suggested a few changes. I agreed to the changes and finally feel good about the direction I'll be going.

I also filled her in on the rest of the plot. In relaying to her the storyline, I realized a few parts of the story were a bit over the top. Some areas needed to be toned down to be believable. Since my imagination often gets carried away and needs to be pulled in from time to time, it was helpful to talk out the plot and the characters. We came up with some better ways of doing things to help with the suspense and to continue one or two characters forward. I will still need her help with the ending. I'd like to prolong it this time. Not too much, just enough to slow the pace a tad. Improvement from one book to the next is my ultimate goal.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A new beginning

Book #3 is my evil nemesis. After having written nearly 12,000 words, I've decided that the beginning needs a major overhaul. I currently have three different options for the book beginning. Unfortunately, the one I like best does not fit in very well with the rest of the character development I've already created. What to do. Quite the dilemma. I'm hoping that when I open the file in just a moment that it will all become clear to me which direction I should go. However, it might still appear muddled with no direct path lighting the way. Hmm. I'm almost afraid to get started. The good thing I guess is that I'm only 12,000 words in and not almost finished. I have plenty of time to make things work since I plan to self-publish it next May or June. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's OK to be the first one

It's OK to be the first reviewer for Sincerely, sad dad. Being first is the best! When you're first in line you get the best seat, the closest parking spot, or the cheesiest piece of pizza. How about when you're first at crossing the finish line? Hey, that feels mighty good. Or for all you Minnesotans, how does it feel when you catch that first fish of the season? It probably feels just as good as getting the first pedicure of the summer. Being first is awesome!

(Hint: I need someone to post the first review of Sincerely, sad dad. No pressure.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Character strengths

I've written a few times about character flaws and how it is the flaws that make a character unique. They are what make us all unique. However, it occurred to me while developing a character recently that it is also a character's strengths that set her or him apart from the crowd. I'm always so focused on defining the weaknesses in a character that I forget to balance things out by giving them some strengths. Or maybe it's just human nature to find the flaws first. I bet it takes you twice as long to name your own strengths than weaknesses. Sad, isn't it? But characters in fiction are supposed to have bigger-than-life flaws, making you really glad you aren't them. I can't help but think of the latest action movies. Can you imagine putting yourself in some of those predicaments? Not me. I sort of like my boring life. Sort of. Some days though I think it might be cool to be visited by an old friend that is certain I hold the key to some huge secret that will save the world from its doom at nightfall. Okay, so maybe that's taking it a bit far, but you know what I mean. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Making some progress - finally

Yesterday was a good day. I put everything else out of my mind and sat down and wrote just over 1500 words. Yippee! It was spring the last time I did that. The story flowed from my fingertips and the characters revealed themselves. One character even turned out to be completely different than how I envisioned him. That happened sometimes. When I start developing one character, I don't always get it right in my notes how the other one will react. My natural instincts take over defending the weaker one. I figure we could all use a defender from time to time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A rough start

I'm already starting chapter five of my third book and it still doesn't feel quite right, which tells me something needs fixing. I'm just now introducing Kody's main client so the story is finally getting interesting to me. That's not good if the author isn't interested in her own book until chapter five. In Sincerely, sad dad I introduce Kody's main client right away and I think it immediately draws the reader in. I'll have to rethink this third book. A reader needs to be hooked within the first couple of pages and I doubt anyone is going to stick around until chapter five when things get interesting. My plan is to keep writing and when the story is basically writing itself I'll go back to the beginning and decide what to do. This is one of those cases when time is the only solution.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The last weekend of summer

I have to say that I'm ready for summer to be over. For one thing, our air conditioner broke and we don't plan on fixing it until next summer. Some fall-type weather would be nice about now. Another reason is that the kids will all be occupied with their sports and school and be on a "regular" schedule. This will hopefully make me get on a regular writing schedule. I'm having a hard time getting started with book #3. It's all outlined and ready to go. All I have to do is sit my butt down for longer than five minutes and "get after it" as my husband would say. It is so hard to write when the weather is perfect though. Maybe I have writer's block. That might be it. Or maybe it hasn't been that long since I finished writing Sincerely, sad dad. That can't be it because other authors like James Patterson somehow pump out like twelve books a year, or so it seems. Oh, well. This too shall pass. I only hope it passes quickly. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Release: Sincerely, sad dad

I'm ready. It's ready. Sincerely, sad dad is yours for the taking! The book is available as a paperback or you can download a digital copy for your ereader. You can even download a sample of it at any of the sites listed on my website,, which includes Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Book Description:
With a growing compulsion to kill, one mourning father fights the urge to seek revenge on his daughter's killer by asking Kody Burkoff, a small-town ghostwriter, to help him create a memoir filled with wonderful memories from the years he spent with his daughter before her untimely death the summer after she graduated from high school. Kody, who feels impelled to help every lost soul who enters her life, agrees to help this sad dad knowing that she'll either come out of the ordeal a celebrated hero or an accomplice to a murder. Can Kody save the lives of the boy deemed a murderer and the father facing a lifetime of regret?

Check out the book and share the news with your friends and family. All of your support is greatly appreciated. And, as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Send me an email or find me on Facebook or Goodreads. Or better yet, write a review.

Happy reading!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Nervous energy

Once again I'm feeling that nervous energy that comes with sharing what I've written with the world. Part of me wants to run and hide in fear that no one will enjoy the story as much as I do. The other part of me wants to run screaming down the street telling everyone to get a copy. Releasing a book is scary. You're basically opening yourself up for criticism to anyone willing to give it. So far, I've received only a few bad ratings and reviews for Missing Maggie. It usually takes me a couple of days to get over them. I'll read the author's critique or stare at the single star and brainstorm every reason I can think of as to why they didn't enjoy the book. Eventually, I get over it. Eventually, I move on.

With the release of Sincerely, sad dad next Tuesday, I'm hoping for an even better reaction from readers. I've been told it's better than Missing Maggie. I can't say whether I like it better or not. I loved Daniel and his twisted love story. I loved building Kody into who she is today. I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Character flaws

When thinking about character development, I pay special attention to the flaws. I mean, it's the flaws that make a person who he or she is. What is a perfect person anyway? Is it the person with the least amount of flaws? We all know "those people." They appear to have it together all the time. They're dressed in the latest fashion. Their hair and makeup are perfect. Their kids are star athletes and at the top of their class. I could go on and on. I can only believe (or hope) that at home they are a complete wreck. That's terrible to say, but come on, nobody is that perfect. They just try harder than the rest of us to hide their flaws. Anyway, flaws are what set us apart from the rest. Would my husband be more perfect without his one hairy arm, or would my daughter be even more adorable if she was less of a bear in the morning? I can't leave my boys out. Would my oldest be an even better son if he didn't have to be told to blow his nose instead of wipe the snot on his shirt? Would my youngest son be more lovable if he didn't make weird noises at all hours of the day? Ok, I feel better having covered the family. Since this is my blog, I won't be documenting any of my flaws. Actually, I write about my flaws in my books. I'm just not going to tell you which ones are mine!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Being annoying paid off

My instinct was right. I knew the cover image for Sincerely, sad dad could look better than when I had it printed the first time. As much as I beat myself up over making last minute changes, it totally paid off. I received the second printed copy yesterday and it looks amazing! I couldn't be happier. I don't know what the hell I did to it the first time, but I must have learned a few things while I was messing around with the software. The other change to the cover is using gray instead of black across the top and bottom. It looks a little softer and I think fits the mood of the story better. Now all I need to do is update my website and various other locations and I'll be all set. Hooray for being annoying!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I'm so annoying

I'm completely annoyed with myself. I can't leave well enough alone. I'm "fixing" something that doesn't necessarily need to be fixed, or does it? That's my problem. I received the paperback version of Sincerely, sad dad and am not completely happy with how it looks printed. I know it's all my fault. The software I used to create the cover is completely over my head so I resized and scaled the hell out of the photo. Sorry, Paul. Yesterday, I submitted another cover, which is only slightly different, to see if I could fix the clarity of the image. Now, I'm second guessing my actions. I mean, it is a bit late to be making this type of change. I'll hopefully receive the paperback in a couple of days and prove myself wrong, and then be happy with the original cover. I love it online, which is most important since 90% of my sales are for ereaders. Besides this drama I'm creating for myself, everything is looking good. I'm ready to click the buttons to publish. It's time to get started on book #3!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Making lists

Since choosing a release date for Sincerely, sad dad, I've been making lots of lists. There are so many things to do at this point in the process! Fortunately, I kept a journal of how the last book release worked so I've been paging through that to keep me on track. I'm doing pretty good so far. The manuscript file is almost ready for the Nook and Kindle. I haven't even started getting it ready for the other ereaders. That takes a bit more time and a lot of patience. It brings me back to my tech writing days of troubleshooting html and other types of files. As for marketing, I'm once again unsure of what to do. I'll print some business cards, inundate people on Facebook, and...and...I'm not sure what else. Well, I do plan on passing out more books this time so that's different. More thought will have to go into this area. If anyone out there has some low-cost marketing ideas, I'm all ears!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My photo shoot

Last night, our family went out to take mom's picture for her new book. Sounds like a good time, right? Actually, it was kind of weird. I put on the new shirt I bought for the occasion, along with a necklace from my daughter's collection of hand-me-down jewelry, and we hit the public bike trail near our house. It was me all dolled up surrounded by a bunch of sweaty runners and bikers. I can only imagine what they must have been thinking.

My husband, from only a few feet away, took several pictures while I moved this way and that just like I've seen on America's Top Model. It's way harder than it looks! In some photos, my eyes were half open. In others, my hair was already getting poofy. Plus, can we talk about the mosquitoes? Good grief! We all ran back to the van after the final location, with the final shots being of my two youngest kids. They had to have their time too.

We got back home and I uploaded the photos onto the computer. I was disturbed. Did I really look like that? Was my chin getting broader? My eyelids lower? UGH!!!! I stepped away for a moment and pouted. I eventually went back to the computer and saw that there were a few photos that might work if I cropped them and enhanced them a bit. Long story short, I now have an author photo that will last me until the next book release.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sincerely, sad dad - available 8/28/12

Sincerely, sad dad will be available online where books are sold on August 28, 2012. Man, it feels good to finally share the news! I've been keeping the title and book description a secret for about a month now. It's hard keeping secrets! I can't wait for people to start reading it. My reviewers have all said it's better than Missing Maggie. They said it in a good way, that I've come a long way as a writer. I feel like the story is better too. I really tried to concentrate on the elements I was lacking in Missing Maggie. It's not perfect by any means, but it's a step in the right direction, and it was certainly easier to write for whatever reason. There are many reasons behind that actually. Number one being that I feel confident that I can tell a good story. Not everyone is going to like it, but I'm okay with that. Pleasing everyone was a big concern for me before self-publishing the first book. I must have been such a drag to be around at the time. I'm not a drag this time. This time I have pure excitement running through my veins. The excitement of the unknown, not knowing if the second book will draw even more readers. Anyway, check out my website for more details on Sincerely, sad dad.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New goal: Book #2 by Labor Day

Why wait? I've had it in my head that I need to wait until October to self-publish book #2, but the manuscript is ready and the cover is about ready. Why wait? I see no reason any longer. My new goal is to get this thing out there before Labor Day weekend. Sales for Missing Maggie are the best they've ever been so I'm hoping those new readers will like one or the other, or both. The publishing process takes some time so I'll need to order my proof copy by the end of next week I figure. Also, it takes weeks to have it available in the iStore. Getting a copy for the Nook isn't real pressing since I might sell one a month through that channel. My head is spinning with everything that needs to get done, but sometimes it's better to work under pressure. Although, it isn't like I'll get fired if I miss my deadline. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cover time

I just received some photo options from photographer, Paul Pluskwik, to adorn the cover of book #2, which will be ready to preview in the very near future. Paul has an amazing eye for capturing images that tell a story all by themselves. I love that! I'm sticking with the northern Minnesota theme because I think nature shots leave a lot to the imagination. For Missing Maggie, I considered staging a whole scene of people. I even went to another friend who is a photographer with the idea. I ended up changing my mind because ultimately I'd rather let the reader conjure up his or her own images. I generally don't like reading books with pictures of people on them. I want to be the one who develops the character. I want to pick the characteristics of the man or woman that is leading me through a story. Don't you?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Status update

Book #2:
I've chosen a title. The cover is in the works. I hope to have a preview of the cover, along with the book description, on my website by mid August.

I printed the manuscript one more time this weekend so that I can read it AGAIN for grammatical errors. I hope not to find any, but I doubt that will be the case. I have a feeling no matter how many times I read it, there will always be something I can improve.

Book #3:
The summary is pretty much complete. I'm currently working on the outline. I like to map out the chapters before I start writing. I tend to stray from the summary and outline, but a writer always needs something to start with. My approach with Missing Maggie was different, but it took me about three years to complete. I don't intend to spend that much time on this book or any other book in the future. My goal is to publish book #3 next March. That's a very ambitious goal and only time will tell if I'm able to stay on schedule.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The best place to find interesting characters

They aren't main character material by any means, but some of the people that attend small town street dances deserve a mention. I went to one over the 4th of July and had a blast. The music was decent and the beer was cheap. From afar, I met tambourine lady and balding mullet man. They stood out from the crowd, what can I say. Tambourine lady danced alone for two hours before the firehouse garage filled up with patrons. Balding mullet man was running the sound board for the band so the back of his head was directly in front of us for hours. Tonight we're heading out again and I can't wait to see who shows up. Will the anorexic woman come with her five children in tow? Will the guy wearing rainbow suspenders make an appearance? What a great subplot for Kody and Kendall. Yes, they will be attending a street dance in an upcoming book!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Feeling scattered

Ever get the feeling that you're running around with your head cut off? There are plenty of things I need to do, but it seems none of them are getting accomplished. I've been sleeping in, which is bad business for a person like me, forgetting to make to-do lists on my never-ending supply of sticky notes, and wandering around aimlessly worrying about everything that needs to get done. As with the rest of the world, there's always something else that comes before that other something, and then there's the offspring with their demands. What's up with that? Back in my day kids found things to do on their own. Just kidding. I'm sure I followed my mom around the house asking for food and telling her how bored I was. With that in mind, today I'll walk a little faster so they can't catch me and make a list of things that won't get done.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A woman raised by apes?

I tried several times to get interested in Origin, a book that has been on my shelf for years. The book's description sounded interesting enough and it's by an author I'm not familiar with so I thought I'd finally open it up. I tried and tried and tried. Here's what got me every time: the main character was raised by apes. I'm not even joking. There's no way I could pull that off. My main focus in my writing is believability, and asking my readers to engage in a woman that was raised in the rain forest doesn't seem possible. Before deciding to quit the book, I went to Goodreads to read some reviews and was surprised to see that many people enjoyed the story. There were some, like myself, who questioned what the author was thinking. Needless to say, I won't be recommending this book. Apes? Really?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

In with the new, out with the old?

I love creating new characters. I love creating a ficticious life for them to be a part of. It gets my creativity flowing and life is good. However, my husband insists that readers want to hear how characters from the previous books turn out. He is suggesting that I continue to tell their stories. For me, that isn't always easy. First off, I'm about sick of some of the characters I've created after reading the book for the eight hundredth time. Second, I find it difficult to continue a character's story after a certain point. Does everything work out for them and they live happily ever after? Is that what the reader is looking for, some sort of closure? Does the character suffer from more sadness and betrayal and need to be talked off the ledge once again? At some point, if a character can't buck up, I'd want to just push them over that ledge and be done with her or him. Is that too cruel?

I will say that I did extend a few characters from book #1 to book #2 - Nancy being one of them. I'm struggling with the idea of pushing some characters from #2 to #3. I have some new characters already formed and if I string along the old ones that might make for a confusing book with too many characters to keep track of. Maybe I'll take a poll once book #2 is published to see if anyone is interested in hearing more about a particular character's story.

If you're reading this, who do you want to hear more about from Missing Maggie?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The beginning of a new novel

It's hard to know where to begin a story. Do I start by telling the reader something quirky about a character? Do I start in the middle of an action scene? Do I set the scene first and then dive in from there? Books I've read about writing typically say to start with some sort of rising action. They say you only have a few pages, maybe even a few paragraphs, to hook your reader. It makes sense. A reader can download a sample of a book and know within a few pages whether they want to spend money on the piece of literature. So, the beginning is crucial. It is your first impression and it better be good. Hence, starting a new book takes a lot of consideration. I don't know how many times I rewrote the first chapters of my other two books until I felt satisfied. Each word had to be scrutinized. Each character description had to be just right. Each line of dialogue needed to reach out and grab the reader. Now, I just need to do that again. I need the reader to hang on and enjoy the ride with me.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Well deserved break

I'm taking a break from taking a break during this hot 4th of July week. The sun is a beautiful sight, but this chick has had enough. While gathered with family and friends, we've camped, swam, and laughed until we had nothing left in us. Today, we'll take time to recover in the air conditioning until the fun starts all over again. Is it possible to have too much fun?

As for writing, my printed copy of book #2 sits in a pile on the counter waiting to be edited. It's been moved several times, never out of sight though. I keep it out in plain view as a reminder that there is still more work to be done. There is always more work to be done.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Editing is not one of my favorite things to do, but it's probably the most important step in the writing process. I'm reading book #2 AGAIN and this time I'm looking at the sentence structure only. I'm making sure my word choices are consistent and my verbs are all correctly congugated. I'm removing extra spaces that somehow snuck into the paragraphs and I'm looking up words in the dictionary to verify my use is correct. Everyone thinks that English majors are grammar freaks that can pick apart a sentence and tell you all their fancy names. That isn't me. I studied English for the literature, the beautiful flow of words on a page. Hopefully when I'm finished with this book, it will be cleaner than Missing Maggie. I plan on editing it two more times---I'm determined to get it right.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My son is writing

I've always known he was a good writer, but I just didn't think he would sit down to type on the computer without an assignment prompting him. The other day though, my 11-year-old typed out 1000 words. This is summer vacation, mind you! I thought I might burst into tears.There he was sitting on the couch, netbook on his lap, and get this, THE TV WASN'T ON. Shocking. Is it possible he's even tired of watching that hunk of junk?

I haven't read his story yet because I'm afraid I'll say something to make him stop. Moms have a way of doing that you know. They butt in when they shouldn't but they can't help themselves. It is so hard to keep our mouths shut! I can only hope that he continues with his story and turns it into something wonderful. Maybe he'll even let me post it here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It was too much

A scene in book #2 that was meant to give more insight into my main character, Kody Burkoff, was too much for my draft readers. Not a one of them liked the scene the way it was written. Their main complaint was that it seemed uncharacteristic of Kody. I've read those same pages about a billion times trying to justify to myself that Kody would indeed react the way it's currently written. I've been incredibly stubborn about making changes---until yesterday. I deleted all the disruptive description I used and ramped up the emotion. I think I was looking to shock the reader, but it backfired on me. I was portraying Kody in a negative way. It didn't go over so well. This just goes to show how important it is to ask for early feedback.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Too many characters?

In the feedback I received on the draft copy of book #2, a couple readers commented that I introduced too many characters early on. I hadn't noticed that until I printed out the TOC that I use to keep track of what's going on in the story. They're right. I do introduce quite a few and can see how they might get confused. Some of the characters are new and some of them are from Missing Maggie. I've been studying the TOC trying to come up with ways to move characters around, but I'm afraid that I'll mess up the timing and the flow of the rest of the story. The movement of chapters and characters has to be strategically planned out. I'm at a standstill right now. It looks like it's another issue I'll have to sit on for a few more days.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A realist and a dreamer

Yesterday when I admitted to wanting the cover of a local magazine, I couldn't help but be reminded of the differences between my husband and I. He has always been shooting for me to get the cover of Oprah. You see, he's the dreamer. He sees my name in headlines and at the top of the best seller's lists. He buys a lottery ticket and envisions winning millions. He sees our oldest son playing professional sports with us travelling the country in our RV watching every game.

I, on the other hand, am a realist. I just want to get on a list, any list. I never buy a lottery ticket because I know I won't win. I hope my son goes to college and includes me in his life. Listing it off like this makes me sound really boring. But I can't imagine life if we were both dreamers. We'd be in serious trouble. We'd also have a lot of fun.

Here's to my fun, dreamy husband on our 14th anniversary! I love you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

1000 copies sold!

I did it! I reached my original goal of selling 1000 copies of Missing Maggie. Back in October of last year, I honestly thought 1000 was quite a stretch. The pessimist in me figured once my friends and family had told a few of their friends, the cycle would stop there. No sirree! Sales are better than ever and I feel even more confident about my new career because book #2 is looking mighty fine.

Included with my goal of selling 1000 copies was to somehow make the cover of Rochester Women magazine. I realize that it's a pretty lofty goal since there are probably several women writers in the area who have reached the same milestone. I just think it would be cool since this is the magazine that lit the fire in me to take a chance at writing. I'll at least make an attempt by sending an email or two and see what happens. You never know unless you try, right?

Thank you, readers, for your support of Missing Maggie and your support of me. It is greatly appreciated.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer writing

School is out and summer has officially begun, which means a lot of great things. It means staying up late having fun with friends and family, making s'mores around the campfire, swimming at the lake, taking a trip or two, and relaxing in the sun wishing it will never end. However, summer also means having less time to write. I can't blame it all on my kids, although I try my best, but I find it incredibly difficult to sit down on the hard chairs at the kitchen table while the sights and sounds of summer are right outside my window. It's so much easier to write when snow blankets the ground and the temperature is below 40 degrees.

With my current writing and self-publishing goals, I'll have to make time somehow. I'll have to excuse myself to the library on rainy days when my husband is home, or strategically schedule simultaneous play dates for the kids and lock myself in the smelly basement without any windows. Actually, ripping that damn carpet out is at the top of my to-do list so eventually it will make for the perfect little hideout. Continuing to get up early is always a great option too. Eh, I'm not going to stress it too much. I'm having way too much fun with this book to slack off now.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Loving the feedback

The feedback I'm receiving on the draft of book #2 is exactly what I was looking for. My readers took their time and have pointed out grammatical errors along with errors in thought. They've brought up points I never considered. They've also brought up points that I had hoped I covered well enough. I've had to put a lot of thought into some of their suggestions. I'm taking it slow though. Much like coming up with a new plot, I'm writing down ideas and then stepping away. I hope to have a complete manuscript ready by the end of July. At that time, I'll put my editor's cap on. It isn't the best way to go, but it's what's going to have to happen.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Remember the audience

When brainstorming ideas for the next book I find myself going off in all sorts of directions, which is good, but I must also keep my audience in mind. I need to think about the readers that loved Missing Maggie and why they loved it. I need to pay attention to which characters they were drawn to and which parts of the plot they found less appealing. These readers are the ones that will most likely buy the next book, and in turn, tell their friends and family. If I stray too far from my original work, I fear I'll lose the small group of readers that are interested in my writing. With this being said, I'm rethinking Kody's next major client, Evelyn. I can still use her and I think I'm on the right path, but I'll tone down a few of her quirky traits. She will be as real as your next door neighbor.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sometimes it's best to step away

The last few days I've been brainstorming different plots for my next book and have learned that I work best in short spurts. I'll type out an idea and then wander around the house, possibly clean something, although I've gotten to where I'm just not all that particular anymore. When I sit back down, I'll write down another spin on what I previously wrote. I'll step away. I waste a lot of time this way, but for some reason if I sit for too long thinking about things, I'll start thinking about things I don't need to think about. Not what I want to do. My mornings alone are numbered as it is. In less than two weeks, the little creatures I created will be milling around the house complaining that we have no food and that they're bored. I swear they wake up bored. I wish I remember feeling that way when I was their age. Now I'm just an "old woman" as they like to say. Grrr!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I've almost got it

I think I might have the main character for my next book! I was originally wanting to write a book with Nancy, the ex-Las Vegas stripper, as the lead character because she is such a woman of mystery, and because she was a favorite character of the Minneapolis book club I met with. However, I've been struggling to come up with a good plot for her to lead. All the ones that pop into my head have been done before. Nancy might need more time before she's ready to unveil a few secrets.

This other character, Evelyn, is going to be interesting to say the least. I'll need to hash out my plan with my husband or mom before I go any further. Sometimes my ideas need a little tweaking. And even though I may not always take their advice, I love the creativity that is spawned from the conversation. Who wants to talk about reality when the mind is able to create great fiction?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Writing styles

I'm reading Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich and am in awe of the thought that was put into each and every sentence. This book isn't your typical quick read for a captivating story. It is instead one you must take your time with to grab each little detail the author has so delicately included. I've read several of Erdrich's books because my English professor at NDSU was a huge fan of hers. I think he even wrote papers about her work. That is how amazing this author is. I have a long way to go before someone can study my writing. Like I tell my husband, I'm a surface-level type person. I'm way too laid back to have such depth, which is good and bad.

Erdrich, like Kent Haruf, the author of Plainsong, doesn't use quotation marks in her dialogue. This ommitance gives the words on the page a more poetic feel. If you're wondering, it isn't confusing to read either. It's important for writers to read as much as they can, and in my opinion, reading books outside of one's genre is very beneficial. I'm not writing with Erdrich quality quite yet, but you never know what the future might hold.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

First reader comments are in

I received my first comments on the draft copy of book #2 from a friend yesterday. For the most part, he seemed to enjoy the story and was satisfied with the ending. He had one issue with Kody's response, or lack of response, to an issue, which didn't really surprise me because while writing that part I wondered the same thing. I apparently thought I could get away with it. I'll be interested to hear if the other readers feel the same way. If this review is anything like Missing Maggie, the readers will have a lot of the same comments. However, this time it will be even more interesting to compare the male vs female aspect. I'm not sure it will really make a difference, but we'll see.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Social media

I didn't quite make it up Monday morning since we didn't get home from the final ballet recital until almost ten o'clock. So, here I am Tuesday morning moderately updating the Facebook pages I created and my Goodreads author page. I didn't do much because I really don't know what to write. I don't want to bombard my Facebook friends with status updates like I was doing for awhile. I don't want to just post random thoughts for all to see either. That's what this blog is for! Tomorrow morning I'll stick to book stuff to work on, especially the dreaded book description. Oh, my mom has started writing her portion of the Christmas book. I'm very proud of her. Now, I just have to figure out where Kody and I fit in.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I'm awake, so...

Since I'm naturally awake at 5:15 every morning now, I miss having something to write about. This break I'm on isn't all it's cracked up to be. I honestly enjoy writing so when I have nothing to write about I'm kind of bored. Instead of enjoying a hot cup of coffee alone with my computer, I'm instead being irritated by the cats wanting breakfast, and then lately a woodpecker has decided to peck at the siding of our house right outside our window. I hate waking up angry. I'm a much nicer person when I wake up on my own and have at least a half hour before anyone else talks to me. Sooooo, starting next week I'm going to work on my Facebook pages, website, a book description, a summary for book #3, and possibly a summary for a Christmas book my mom wants her and I to co-write. This last item intrigues me and I'll elaborate on it further once we are able to discuss more of the details. This weekend is probably out since my Mother's Day will be spent watching and chaperoning ballet. Who would have thought I'd give birth to a little ballerina!

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A book description

The hardest part of finishing up a novel is writing a five or six sentence paragraph about that novel. I struggled for weeks to get the wording just right for the book description for Missing Maggie. I'd honestly almost rather write another book. How can I put everything that happens in the story in one paragraph? How can I get the attention of as many readers as possible from the words I choose for the back of the book? It's stressful, I tell you. One word can turn some readers away. One word can hook them immediately. During my break from the story, I'm going to slowly work on this small masterpiece. I have other writing plans for the break too. I hope to share those very soon.

Friday, May 4, 2012

It's all coming together

My select group of readers have signed on to the challenge of reading and critiquing book #2. I'm so excited they are willing to do this. I'm essentially asking them to go to bed with a book and a red pen. I also love the fact that, like last time, my group is pretty diverse. However, regardless of age, sex, and reading preferences, my readers for "Missing Maggie" picked up on a lot of the same things. When reworking the story I chose to work on those areas first. I'm expecting similar results with this book. That reminds me, I really need to pick a title for this one. It's getting old calling it book #2 all the time. That is going to have to wait though. While the book is in other reader's hands, I'm taking a much needed break from the story.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Things are heating up

As I read book #2 for the second time in about a month, events and conversations are running together. So much so that I don't know if some scenes and conversations are repeating or if they are spanned far enough apart to make sense. I've also noticed how "spicy" this book is in comparison to "Missing Maggie." I allude to lovemaking in "Missing Maggie," but in this second book, Kody and her clients are much more open with what happens when the lights go out. I can't tell you why I chose to write this way, although one reason might be because a friend of mine asked me why Kevin and Kody never kissed. I didn't have an answer for her. Shortly after, it dawned on me that women love a little romance, even a little sex, in their reading. It spices things up. It also keeps the reader on his/her toes. I strive to entertain so hopefully you all will be happy with the changes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A true passion

I've known for a long time that writing was a passion of mine. How do I know, you ask? Well, it might be because it simply makes me happy to tell a story that others will enjoy. It might also be because I find a character's reality more exciting than my own at times. Or it just might be that I feel like I've accomplished something at the end of the day when I am able to type a page or two of text. Before I started writing, I felt like I was missing something. I didn't see how I was contributing to society by writing user manuals for computers. Sure, some people needed those instructions and it made their day just a little bit better knowing that cable A went into port B. However, I would hear stories from my husband and other teacher friends about how they were impacting kids' lives on a daily basis. They went home every night knowing that the effort they put in at school benefited a child's life. I don't have what it takes to be a teacher, but like them, I wanted to create an impact too. Now, a writer doesn't impact a person the same way a teacher does, but I believe the stories they tell result in some sort of reaction from the reader. By creating characters that people can relate to, writers can help individuals break away from their own reality and help them express themselves through laughter or tears. By writing with emotion, writers elicit emotion, which is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The latest stats

As of today I've sold about 730 copies of "Missing Maggie." It's safe to say that 90% of those sales are on the Kindle. I rarely sell a Nook copy. My husband, the numbers guy, figures I sell on average four copies a day, which is amazing considering that I was happy with only a few sales a week back in October. Since I completely rely on word-of-mouth marketing, I'm very happy with the outcome so far. Your comments are what sell my books. They are what keep my new career alive so I appreciate all of you that have taken the time to write a review or click on a rating.

Book #2 is still on schedule. I just finished inputting my first edits from the paper copy. The next step is to print it and do it all over again. This time I'm hoping the story flows better and the conversations aren't cut too short. I could tell I was anxious to move ahead in certain spots.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I miss my Percy

I fell asleep last night listening to the dishwasher and my husband's louder than normal breathing. He was obviously exhausted from his day. I also fell asleep with tears in my eyes. I miss her. I miss my feline friend of 19 years who passed away just over a week ago. I miss how she'd sit on my chest while I tried reading a book at night, and how she'd wake me in the middle of the night to be let outside when the weather was warm enough. I even miss the sound of her hacking up hairballs early in the morning, knowing that I'd have to watch my step when I crawled out of bed. I simply miss seeing her. I miss knowing she's around. She was always around. She was a part of my life before my husband and kids. Her and I shared an apartment in college. She had a way of putting a smile on my face when I was sure the world was going to end. You all might think I'm a crazy cat lady for feeling this way, but she meant a lot to me and she always will.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Show, don't tell

One of the most important things to remember when creating a fictional character is to show, not tell, the reader how a character reacts in certain situations. You can tell your reader the character was sad after her cat died, but if you create dialogue or a setting to go along with the character's emotions, it is much more effective. I have this character, Sam, in my second book that I'm trying to portray as an egotistical jerk. This is just a cover though because he's really a sensitive guy dealing with some issues. I realized during my review that I wasn't quite pulling off his split personality so I added some more dialogue during his first appearance. Kody wasn't in the least bit impressed with him, which was my goal.

On a related note, I was looking through my son's grammer book and was pleasantly surprised to see that it included a small section on this exact topic. I think it is awesome that this is being taught at such an early age.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Another fast and furious ending

I finished editing my first draft early last week. (My life was put on hold for about a week since the whole family was home for spring break.) The ending of book #2 is currently way better than the beginning. It's another page-turner I tell you. I've decided that I'm an impatient writer because it pains me to draw out the ending when I'm so excited to share it with the reader. I don't want anyone to have to wait. I know I'd rather go to sleep knowing how a story unfolds. I hate when I get to the end of a book and have to continue to wait for something exciting to happen. It's the worst when nothing happens. You mean to tell me I read the whole stinkin' book and that's how the author thought it should end? I feel cheated when that happens. I feel angry. This is totally going off topic, but after I raved about "Plainsong" I was slightly disappointed with the ending. I can't decide if it was because it didn't end how I wanted it to or if I wanted to hear more about each of the characters. It was still a good book either way.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

This blog isn't meant to be a book review site, but I'm completely into Plainsong by Kent Haruf that I thought I'd say a few words as to why I like it so much. First of all, Haruf does a tremendous job of developing his characters. They are interesting and real, which is very appealing to me. They are also in different stages of their lives so we hear of their separate struggles, although ultimately their struggles aren't all that different from one another. Lonlieness seems to be a common thread. Even surrounded by the people we love, we can still feel alone at times.

Haruf's writing style is also unique from most authors. The book doesn't include a single set of quotation marks while there is dialogue throughout. Many sentences are actually four or five sentences connected together by "and." I certainly couldn't get away with that. It works for him though. The flow and pace of the story is slow and steady, which is a good thing. I haven't been bored yet. I am incredibly curious to see how all the characters come together. I love stories that wrap everything up nice and neat so hopefully that is the case for this story.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What's the point?

I'm completely irritated with life right now so this post will be anything but positive. We all have those days, right? We wonder what the point is. We wonder if what we are doing is really worth while. For me, it's my writing. Is it good enough? Is it a complete waste of my time? Should I go out and get a real job to help out with the wants and needs of our family? I'm sure I'll get past all this anger I have inside me eventually. It doesn't help that my sister baled on me as a running partner. Or than my calves are growing to the size of my thighs, while my chest is diminishing. A trip to VS's might be in my future. How about that I still had to tell my 11-year-old to blow his nose this morning because there was a stream of clear snot running down his face? Does anyone besides me know how to change a roll of toilet paper? Hey, I'll take the dog for a walk for the 10,000th time. I'll also sweep up the mounds of dog hair she leaves behind on a daily basis. Grrrrr. I could go on and on, but I think I'll stop so that I can get some work done. As angry as I am, there is still that tiny part of me that believes I'll one day be the author people will be talking about.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My tiny bubble

Driving my husband to the airport yesterday, it was made clear to me what a tiny bubble I've been living in lately. He wanted to talk about the latest headlines, mostly tragedies, of course, and I had no idea what he was talking about. I spend half of my day making things up, while the other half is spent wrestling with the little monster that gets off the school bus at noon each day. Current events aren't on my agenda. If it doesn't have to do with our kids, his job, or my writing I tune it out. The world might explode tomorrow and I wouldn't know it until, well, I don't know quite how I'd know besides the obvious. Don't get me wrong, I like my little bubble. It's simple and spontaneous, yet predictable.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Writing styles

I'm currently reading a book by Jonathan Kellerman and am paying close attention to his writing style, which I'm learning is very different from my own. He tends to use shorter sentences. He also adds in commas where I wouldn't, although, I'm the first to admit I use them more often than I think I should. He writes with the main character speaking in the first person while the chapters dedicated to the other characters are in the third person. In Missing Maggie, Kody is in first person, but so are Daniel and Kevin when we hear from them. That might be something I should rethink. Kellerman draws the mystery out by involving a lot of different characters, which I suppose you need when it involves detectives looking for a murderer. My plot line in Missing Maggie was slow to begin with, but then ended in a whirlwind. Kellerman has obviously had more practice with pacing. I'm not finished with the book yet so I'll be interested to see how it ends. Does he use an epilogue like I prefer so that everything gets wrapped up all nice and neat, or does he simply solve the crime and keep us wondering if the main character gets back together with his ex? 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Making progress

I finally got past the first few pages of my first draft, which is still unnamed by the way. It wasn't fun and I can barely read the original print, but I think what I've done so far will make for a better book. Like I mentioned in my last post, half of the text will be moved elsewhere so I have some empty space to fill. I can only assume more rearranging will be necessary and everything will fall into place. I've also found a few conversations that need to be prolonged. As I was reading, I wondered why Kody didn't ask her clients more questions. She was being too brief, which led me to question the relevance of their words.

I'm only a quarter of the way through my draft and it's already the 15th of March. If I'm going to meet my deadline of May 1st for a reader-ready copy, I'm going to have to hustle. This summer weather isn't helping matters. I find myself spring cleaning, playing outside with my son, and running on the trails when I should be picking up my red pen. I can't possibly get up any earlier so I'll have to come up with another plan. Hmmmmmm.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The first few pages

So far I've destroyed the first few pages of my first draft. The red pen has bled all over it and I've determined that half of the text needs to be moved elsewhere. In my head I'm thinking, "Show, don't tell." I'm also thinking about how I can grab the reader's attention within the first few paragraphs. Then, it's important to me to show the reader some of the elements he or she will experience throughout the length of the book. I'm feeling overwhelmed....

Friday, March 9, 2012

MSP book club

I had another fabulous time with a book club last night. This time I was in Minneapolis near the Mall of America. The ladies were welcoming, easy to talk to, and felt comfortable voicing their opinions, all of which were very positive. I think I even came back to Rochester with an idea for book #3. Nancy might have to reveal some secrets. Hmmm...I wonder what those will be.

I must confess, I never tire of talking about "Missing Maggie" and the various characters that live in Kody's world. This surprises me a little because I'm not necessarily the most chatty of people. I tend to be a better listener. However, the passion I feel for writing brings me right out of my shell, almost to the point where I wonder if I talk too much.

Thanks for a wonderful evening, ladies, and thanks for inviting me to join along in your discussion.

Monday, March 5, 2012

First draft complete

I should be ecstatic right now, jumping for joy, buying a round of drinks somewhere fancy to celebrate the completion of not one, but two novels. I hate to say it, but it feels rather anticlimactic.The only explanation I can come up with is that I know how much work I have yet to put into it to get it ready for publication. The first draft is a mere 20% of the final product in my eyes. And if it's anything like last time, I'll rewrite the story more than a dozen times, questioning the quality of my work every step of the way. We are all our worst critic!

Next step: Print it out, buy a new red pen, and bleed all over the paper. Sounds like fun, huh?

Next goal: By May 1st, be ready to pass out copies of the book to a small group of readers for their input.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Finishing book #2 this weekend

Okay, so it's only the first draft that I'll be finished with, but this is HUGE! I have my husband to thank since he is taking himself and the kids away to visit grandma and grandpa. I'll have the entire weekend to myself, with the exception of all the stinkin' animals that also live here, to write, write, write. My husband left town with the kids a few times when I was finishing Missing Maggie and it was a tremendous help. Even with a "finished" product, I am no way near being finished. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I'm right on track to self-publish again in October.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Chopped" for writers

What if there was a "Chopped" television show for writers? In case you aren't a fan of the The Food Network, "Chopped" is an hour-long reality show where four chefs compete to win $10,000. After three courses, with one chef being cut after each, the winner is announced. To make it even more challenging, the chefs must create their plate using the specific ingredients given to them. So here's what I'm thinking, let's have four writers compete for some money. During each round, writers are given a topic  to write about during a set amount of time. The writer with the worst essay gets the boot. I don't know who the judges should be. They could either be English professors or avid readers. My vote is for the reader. Anyone else up for a battle?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rochester's Book Babes

My afternoon with the "Book Babes" was grand. We shared a fabulous meal, which included ribs and a chocolate torte with fresh raspberries, and had great conversation. I have to admit I was nervous before I left my house, but once I got to our meeting place, that all went away. I mean, what's to be nervous about? I was joining a group of women to talk about books. I love talking about books! It was a little different being that it was my book, but a book all the same. The "Babes" asked me a few questions about how Missing Maggie and the character of Kody came to be. I asked them a few questions about what they liked and what they thought I might do better in the next book. After we said our good-byes I drove straight to a coffee shop and jotted down several pages of notes in my writing journal. I took mental notes during our conversation that I didn't want to forget.
  • Create better transitions when changing narrators
  • Create believable characters for a believable plot
  • Create well-rounded characters that are satisfying to the reader
  • Find an editor to catch my grammar mistakes
I have to say my first experience of joining a book club was a positive one. I can't wait for the next one. Thanks, ladies!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book clubs - gotta love them

To date, I've been asked to join two book clubs in their discussion of Missing Maggie. On President's Day, I'll be joining the Rochester Book Babes, which I'm very excited about. It's a lunch meeting with drinks. Bonus! The other date I have scheduled is in early March with an old friend who lives in the Minneapolis area. I'm so very appreciative that both groups chose my book as their monthly selection, and then that they want me to join in on the fun. I'm not real sure what to expect, but it will be a learning experience to say the least. Hopefully my being there won't hinder anyone from giving me some constructive criticism. These meetings are opportunities to grow.

Please let me know if your book club is interested. I'd love to join you!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's all about love

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd post a paragraph from "Missing Maggie" that explains some of Kody Burkoff's views on love.

The thought of never wanting to be away from someone, of having another human being totally consume you until they are all that you can think about. That’s what I’ve been striving for. That’s what love should feel like. It shouldn’t be some mediocre feeling you have when someone walks into the room. The feeling of love should be dynamic. Sparks should fly just like in the cartoons. Your heart should enlarge to three times its size and beat outside of your body. You should be able to stand up on the couch at the Oprah show and proclaim your love for that one special person. Come on, don’t tell me you didn’t think what Tom Cruise did was just a little bit adorable. That’s what it’s all about, folks. It’s all about love.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The great ones...

Last night I was asked whether or not I thought the great authors from generations past purposely included literary elements in their works, specifically symbolism and theme. I asked myself that same question just a few days ago when I chose a word to describe something. I can't think of either the word or the something at the moment. Regardless, I told my friend that I did believe those writers thought about those elements while they wrote, and that they took tremendous effort in picking words to represent the story they were telling. In college, I had an entirely different mindset. I thought the English professors made all that stuff up. For what reason, I don't know, but I just knew that the author never intended to provoke that much thought into the color red, for instance. Maybe some day I'll try to write with deeper meaning. Maybe some day I'll write a novel for college students to ponder. Or maybe I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and hope for the best.

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's a marathon, not a sprint

I've had time to calm down after my little panic attack the other day. It seems that I briefly lost sight of the fact that selling a self-published book without any sort of marketing strategy (money) was like a marathon, not a sprint. I had a lot of issues going on that day too, none of which you want to hear about. It's just so hard to be patient some days, especially when my emotions are running hot and cold. Most days I feel like a little kid in December waiting for jolly ol' Saint Nick to bring gifts. The other days I feel like Debbie Downer from an old Saturday Night Live skit. I don't think medication is the answer. The only reasonable answer I can come up with is to keep writing. So that I shall do.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A big fat zero

It's been almost two months since I've had to record a zero for a single day's sales and I have to admit it's sent me into a bit of a panic. Is this the end of the line for my writing career? Is this a sign that I should take up knitting or something else crafty to finish off my years? Drastic thinking, I know. I've also considered that Amazon is having problems, perhaps their systems are bogged down by the number of sales my book is really producing. Hee hee! Wishful thinking. The optimist in me is telling me that it was one day of bad sales and things are bound to pick up. I won't reveal what the pessimist is saying because she's lost her privilege to speak.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Phone a friend

This past Saturday I spent several hours in the library typing away on book #2. I spent half of my time in the children's section, which is weird because I was escaping my children, but at the same time that's where I felt the most comfortable. I had to make a move upstairs though when the woman behind me started teaching the bible to a student. No whispering for her. So annoying. Anyway, while I was hard at work, I found the need to text my husband for some help. Kody did something bad and thought she'd feel better if someone other than herself called her names. Who's better at name calling than my kids? My assumption was correct because my husband and two boys came up with more synonyms for idiot than I really needed. I was such a proud mother and wife. It's always nice to know that they're there for me when I need the hard questions answered!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some of my favorite reads

Some books stick with you. You gain something by reading them. For whatever reason, I thoroughly enjoyed the following books and their titles have stuck with me.

Rainwater by Sandra Brown
The Yellow Wallpaper (short story) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson
The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A Painted House by John Grisham
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Love by Toni Morrison
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What happens next?

I've created a love triangle for my main character, Kody Burkoff, and can't decide who should win her heart. Is it the guy from high school who moved back home or the man from her not so distant past? From what I've read and from talking with other writers, I've learned that many writers create a very detailed outline of the entire novel they are about to write before sitting down to type out chapter one. There must be some writers like me though who type out a somewhat sketchy outline of the general premise before diving right in. In some aspects it would be nice to know what I'm going to write on any given day, however, I think what I enjoy most about writing is how unpredictable it can be. I like not knowing how Kody will react to certain events. I like brainstorming with my husband to create those often off-the-wall events. Life can be so predictable at times that it's nice to have this outlet to create whatever I want. Now, if I only knew what I wanted.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hunger Games

I loved it! I've been so against reading "The Hunger Games" for some reason, but with my 11-year-old son having finished all three of the books with rave reviews, I figured it was time to give it a try. I'm really glad I did too. The characters were believable, the plot was incredibly creative, and I didn't want to stop reading. Even though I dedicate a lot of time to writing, I also know how important it is to keep reading, especially books that have been on the best seller's list for over a year. With this one, I learned how important it is to set the scene. I can picture in my head what the forest looked like in the Hunger Games. I can see Rue swinging through the trees. I can envision the cave where Peeta and Katniss recuperated from their injuries. This is one quality I hope to bring to my writing as well.