…eDitIng…editing…Editing

So, I’ve started working on my manuscript after taking about a year off and I can’t believe the changes that are taking place already. That’s what always gets me about the editing process. No matter how good I think the plot is or how perfect the characters are, once an ms has been sitting long enough, the flaws become obvious.

**It also helps to have a supportive writing group.**

I’ve been doing a general read through, with the occassional change, and I’m about 100 pages in. That’s when one simple plot change caused a total–possible–rewrite of the rest of the ms. It equates to one drop of water causing a tsunami a hundred miles away. Totally not what I expected when I decided to make one of my character’s days a little more difficult.

Will it be worth it? Yes, probably, so long as I am open to more feedback from my writing group. I think they’ll be able to confirm if I’m on the right track.

There’s no bones about it, make sure you take a good long break from your writing project. A long gap will allow the characters to leave your head for a bit. I find that when I come back, I don’t hear the characters the way they were originally, but instead, I hear them as they really are. And I see them as an impassive reader.

I’ll give you a clue as to how my ms is changing: I basically took a strong supporting character and gave her an illness induced by a brief but difficult stint in prison. This illness–and recovery therefrom–should provide good material and tension for the rest of the story. Now I have to write about seeking treatment, recovery, and her support network. I will need to address her mobility and general physical weakness, all while her brain retains full function. How she gets around, who protects her, how she can further contribute to the plot without being a blite on the other characters and without making the reader feel like she’s weak. I think it’ll be a fun–albiet–daunting challenge.

And thus, you have my blog’s namesake: Endless Edits, the way I feel about the writing process simply because find the fin is as illussive as a green Easter egg in a lush meadow.

Happy writing! editing! Feel free to leave a comment.

Writing Update: Positive Breakthrough

Good morning,

If you’ve been a long time follower of this blog then you probably know that I’ve been pretty absent for the last year and a half following my son’s cancer diagnosis. If you’re new, then consider yourself caught up. If you’d like more details you can check here for an earlier post.

In the last two weeks I’ve had a major break through in terms of my mental state. I think I’ve finally allowed myself to enjoy life again. So, what this means is that the writing bug is back and I’m not too terrified to open up my old ms and get back to work.

Prior to covid and my son’s diagnosis, I was working on a science fiction novel. I was a pretty solid 2/3 way through a total rewrite. So now the plan is read through, remind myself of my darling characters, figure out the remainder of the plot, then move forward and hopefully finish the draft altogether.

Thank you to those of you who have been around a while. I appreciate your support.

And for anyone who may be new, here area a few photos to give you a quick introduction to my busy life:

the first time I acclimated new fish for the fish tank by myself
my two briards, Picard and Brew
Butternut the chewer of plastics and terror to paper products
what a family outing regularly looks like

An Update

Good morning! It’s been 8 months since I last posted. Things have been busy, but I think we’re moving forward and not spending too much time looking back. Last year was hard, most of this year has been hard, so in the words of Jimmy Buffet:

“…yesterday’s over my shoulder
So I can’t look back for too long
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me
And I know that I just can’t go wrong”

Jimmy has gotten me through a lot this year (hence the tropical vibes of my homepage photo), so don’t be surprised if I reference his wise words a little more often.

So, I’ve started a new blog, one that addresses some of the things I’ve experienced since becoming the mother of a child with cancer. The blog is another WordPress blog and it’s called: From T-Ball to T-Cell ALL. On that blog I plan on delving into my family’s experiences and giving advice where I can. I hope you will pop over to check it out. The vibe of the blog is positive. I hope to keep things overall lighthearted, though I’m sure there will be emotional segments.

In addition to the new blog, I’m working on some fall-themed haiku. I can’t possibly know if I’m any good at them, but I enjoy writing them and I have dappled over the last few years. I think I’ll close out this post with something seasonal, but before I get to that, I’ll tell you that my kids are doing pretty good. My son is in a stage of treatment called General Maintenance, and both he and his sister can go to school in person this year. We are all thrilled to get some separation. The kids were sent home March of 2020 because of Covid and we’ve been together ever sense. You do the math. That’s a long time.

1st of school

My dog is doing great! He’s a real big boy now, 81 lbs.

you can see more pics of him on Instagram #picardthebriard

Well, I think that about wraps things up for now. My intention is to get back to this blog more often too. So cross your fingers, say a prayer, don’t walk under any ladders, and hope that I can.

So, in closing, here’s a little haiku for you:

Acorns on the ground

Dry leaves red, yellow, and brown

Green and yellow gourds

Where I’ve Been. What I’m Doing.

I haven’t made a blog post since last January. Well, 2020 took me for a loop and I never did get my legs back.

My family’s life, like so many, was changed drastically by the quarantine edict which passed last March. School closed. My free time all but evaporated.

Then, on June 9, one day before quarantine ended, my son was diagnosed with Leukemia.

My world was upended.

We left the ER and were immediately admitted to the PICU were my son underwent 3 days of dialysis, numerous procedures involving IVs and the incertion of a PICC line into his forearm.

We spent a total of 7 days in the hospital immediately following his diagnosis. I don’t think I ate more than a few meals. I only got about 2-4 hours of sleep every night. I had a panic attack in the hospital. That week was probably the most traumatic of my life. I had a whole new world of terminology to learn, procedures to allow, and fear to manage.

We were racing about 100 miles an hour, just trying to save my son. He was considered critial when he was admitted. His white blood cell count numbered above 300,000, and I believe, he was only a week or two away from dying of Leukemia. Leukemia is one of those fast moving cancers. Patients–if left untreated–usually only survive 4-6 months. He had already been exhibiting symptoms for 2+ months–it just took us a long time to get the doctors to take us seriously.

The good news: the survival rate of children under 10 with Leukemia T-Cell ALL is 95%. My son is doing well, responding well, and we are marching towards our main goal–our milestone in treatment–Maintenance. Once we hit Maintenance, life will start to look normal again–over time. But baby steps. Small steps towards his being able to act and play like a kid again.

So, I haven’t blogged. I haven’t tweeted. I poke around Instagram a few times a week. I am not writing much and haven’t written more than a handful of times over the last 6 months. But with 2021, I’d like to get back to writing. My goal will be 20 minutes per session, 2-3 days per week. If I can accomplish that, I will be in a good place to pick things up maybe over the summer.

I do not plan on blogging until then, but if you’d like to keep in touch, you can follow me on Instagram. I post there a couple times per month. By Fall, I plan on getting back to my old ways, with a focus on my writing passion including all the things I have dropped this year: short stories and my scifi ms.

So, please don’t unfollow my blog. I will be back. I will have more to share. I just have to focus on my family right now.

Santa visited us at our home this year since we couldn’t go to him.

I hope you all have a happy new year and a prosperous 2021!

Sustaining First Person

Well, I obviously didn’t make my blog post for December, but I’m catching up here after the new year.

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So here are my notes on sustaining 1st person, taken from a panel at the October session of James River Writer’s Conference.

Some basic things to remember when writing in 1st person:

  • Everything is a thought–unless it’s dialogue–so you don’t need to say I thought…
    • Because everything is from 1 person’s perspective, don’t stack multiple POVs on top of one another. If you’re writing with multiple 1st perspectives, separate each POV with a chapter or with a visual break in the body of the page.
  • Maintain balance when revealing information to the reader–sometimes witholding info is just as powerful.
    • I think this means don’t info dump or spend too much time in your character’s head. That is the most common mistake writers make when writing in 1st person. Despite everything being from one character’s POV, we don’t need to bog down the pace of the story with minutia.
  • We still need your characters physical reactions to situations.
    • Tell us about the sweat trickling down her neck, or the way his skin crawls everytime she walks into the room. Give us viseral responses and paint the picture.
      • Stay in character. Everyone views things in their own way. Personalities and experiences flavor the way we experience life and should do the same for your characters.
  • The reader should be able to open the book to any page and know whose POV it is (this is only an issue if you have more than one).
  • The plot still has to hit the beats of your genre–avid reading in your genre will help you do this.

 

Quotes from the panelists:

“Voice is far more important than grammatical correctness.” Kat Spears

“Be true to the character’s voice, but communicate clearly.” Padma Venkatramen

 

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I write a lot from the 1st person POV. I feel it gives me more control over what’s being revealed to the reader. I also like how someone’s perspective may alter what’s being seen and experienced. If I have a character who is jaded, their reactions will be different than a person who is optimistic or jolly.

I also like how writing in 1st person flavors the story’s overall voice. I can be spunky or quirky, or if I’m writing from an alien’s perspective, I can articulate their misunderstandings of the basic human experience.

So what POV do you write in? Do you switch POVs for different projects? Leave a comment or word of advice. We’re all in this writing thing together!

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Writing and Living

Alright, so a new post is loooooong overdue.

I have been shamefully absent from the blog over the summer and also took a hefty break from Twitter.

So…update:

  • I’m working on draft 2 of my scifi wip. I’m part of a writing group now, so I’m getting steady feedback which has made the revision stage almost a dream–almost because I’d love to wake up and just have my ms be flawless–but I know that’ll only happen if I pour a few more buckets of sweat and tears into it.

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Story Binder

  • This summer my family and I got a new dog, a Briard puppy. He takes up a lot of time, but I’m actually starting to get in shape again–bonus exercise for me!

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Picard the Briard

  • I’m still reading the same book I was at least 4 months ago.
  • I’m still on Instagram and Twitter, though you may find me frequent Instagram more often.
  • And I’ve decided to give myself a break when I need it. Over the past several years, I have put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to get published as well as finish a novel. Well, the news is I’m burnt out. Being a mom, pet owner, wife, daughter, sister, writer, photographer, crafter, traveler…something’s gotta give. Sometimes it’s my writing, sometimes it’s the dishes. It just depends on where I’m at mentally.

But I’m trying to get back in the blogging saddle. I attended the James River Writer’s Conference back in October and have some useful writing tips I’d like to share. So look forward to maybe a once-per-month post. If I can commit to that, maybe I’ll increase my posting.

This summer I started reading The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig. (This is not the book I’ve been laboring over for months and months, although I haven’t finished this one either). He said something in there that moved me into action, both as a parent, a human, a writer.

“You can practice what you do. You practice it by writing, by reading, by living a life worth writing about…”

I used to be so worked up about how many words I was putting down per day, how many tweets I posted per week, how many blog posts I was getting up per month, but the truth is…my life is not better spent counting words at a desk. I want to travel, go to movies, play with my kids and my puppy–now large puppy.

 

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I am writing and will continue to write, but now with a realistic and healthy perspective.

Drop by next month for a helpful post on sustaining 1st person.

 

 

Alien Inspiration

Holy Moly it’s been a busy few months!

I decided back in March I would write a novel in 90 days. That would be 1,000 words per day for 3 months. What an undertaking!

I assumed my novel project would total between 80k-90k, leaving me some wiggle-room for the days I was too busy to write. Well, it turned out the first draft is around 75,000 words. A little on the short side, but manageable.

As a writer, I lean more towards less wordage than more, so as my writing group gets back and my editor gives me her notes, I’ll be able to fill in those areas I see clearly in my mind, but have not detailed enough in the ms. My weak points are describing the details of a setting–leaving room for expansion in a short ms.

I’m really looking forward to polishing this ms in record time–as in by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!

So, while I’ve been writing my brains out, feeling exhausted and sometimes overwhelmed, I’ve been finding inspiration for my aliens in the new spring blooms. I don’t know about you guys, but colors really get my creative juices flowing. There’s just something about the vibrant reds and subtle purples that brings my mind back to my ms and gets me thinking about alien life.

What inspires your world and characters? Do you take hints from nature, or are you more into urban influences?

I think I’m going to use the color palette of flowers to influence the skin tones and perhaps wardrobe of alien characters–hmmmm, really something I’d love to develope a story/inspiration board for.

That brings me up to some fun summer plans! With the 1st draft awaiting feedback, I’m planning on taking the time to ultra-organize myself for the Fall–when serious editing commences.

Over the summer I am going to print out my outline and character sheets—detailing everything I can so when I need to reference random character something-or-other, all I have to do is look at my sheet to see their eye color, temperament, etc.–and keep the sheets in a binder with a few inspiration pics and possibly a homemade cover.

I want some inspiration sheets to keep the overall vibe of the story in the forefront of my mind.

I haven’t done this with any of my projects before, so I’m really excited to see how it goes–and if it saves me any time because I’ll hopefully have lots of story info at my fingertips instead of scouring my ms looking for minor details.

How do you manage your novel projects? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment or word of advice! We’re all in this writing thing together.

I became a Writer when…

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I saw this on the internet and it just made me chuckle.

Before I was a writer, I was a day dreamer. With a boring work life, my mind often drifted off into unchartered worlds and built up people and places that I’d never seen. Not the best thing to do while on the job, but it didn’t affect my overall performance.

When I started writing, I found for the first time in my adult life, that I could focus on the people and activities around me. Because my creativity was being written down, and not imprisoned anymore, I didn’t get submerged into it. I could actually go out and appreciate the things I was doing and the people I was with.

That’s how I knew I was a writer. Because my life improved the moment I started to do it.

So, tell me. How did you know you wanted to be a writer?