In the fall of 2011 while I was waiting on confirmation that BIG IN JAPAN would be picked up for publication, I joined the rest of the writing world in the ritual known as NaNoWriMo. It’s a weird word, one reminiscent of a bad rhino joke or something Mork From Ork would say, but it’s actually National Novel Writing Month, and it happens every November. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in a month. And it’s a biggie. Lots of people try. Some succeed. Some crash and burn after three days of enthusiasm. I’ve been in both of those groups.
The “right” way to go about NaNo-ing is to plan ahead by creating an outline. To know what the story will be. Get that outline done, and the use it as a guide through the writing process.
Another way is to be what writers refer to as being a “pantser.” No, not some juvenile joke (although in my case, that could be what the end result would be termed as: a juvenile joke.) It comes from the term “writing by the seat of the pants.”
I’ve always been an outliner. Ever since the days I spent at high school with “the Jeans” as my brilliant but firm English teachers (Jean Roylance and Jean Workman, both incredible teachers and women), outlining has been the way it’s done.
However, that rotten November I got my “Idea for NaNo” late on the night of Halloween. It poured into my head like liquid gold. It was the-best-idea-ever and I couldn’t wait to get writing. Who needed an outline? I was full sails ahead, writing this thing like a maniac. Stuff kept popping up and surprising me (like a motorcycle at the bottom of the
NaNo ended, and I had to set it aside. I signed BIG IN JAPAN for publication, Christmastime happened (always a little distracting as the mother of five kids), and I finally had a chance to come back and finish the-best-idea-ever story in February. I remember that joyous moment typing “The End,” and thinking it was so close to being ready to foist on the world.
Now, two years and 5 serious edits past that, I am realizing today that this thing needs more than a tune-up. It probably needs a total overhaul. Possibly a rewrite from the ground up. I’ll have to set aside all that delicious prose I thought was the best-prose-ever, and recreate it with a little. more. control. And perhaps a plot. Or possibly some structure. I tried to wrangle it into submission in these past five revamps, but without that outlined structure, it won’t be wrangled. Okay, maybe I can lift some sections that are still okay, but I’ve got to let a lot of it go.
Man, I tell you. I’m never doing THAT again. If you’re a pantser, I don’t know how you do it. Since I’m an outliner, I’d better behave like one.
P.S. I still am in love with the story and think it’s the best-idea-ever. I’d better shape it up so it’s also the best book for that idea so the readers can agree and not say, “Great idea, but the book was a total misfire.” That’d be so sad.
My dear friend Teri Harman writes a witch trilogy that will enchant you. The second installment, BLACK MOON, is coming soon, and if you click here, you can see the cover reveal! Also, you can enter to win a drawing for a signed hardcover of book one, BLOOD MOON.
Can I just say here, that Teri is amazing. She often appears on television talking about books. She’s incredibly well read. And she’s a beautiful writer. Find her and follow her on Twitter and her Facebook page. All her posts are great content!
OKAY, NOW! Go check out her cover reveal!
The Brothers Washburn, whose excellent YA horror novel PITCH GREEN scared the heck out of me last year, have a new entry coming out in the campfire story chill-inducement genre: MOJAVE GREEN.
I don’t know much about the plot of this little baby, but I do know Pitch Green told the story of a creepy creature that ate children and lived in a “haunted” house in a small
Here’s Berk on the left, Andy in green on the right. These guys, in my opinion, are the kings of the campfire ghost story.
And, drumroll please…. The cover of MOJAVE GREEN.
We’ll be seeing and reading a sniveling over this book later this year over at Chez
I just returned night before last from the annual ANWA Conference in
Other great stuff happened besides the weather, though. A New York Times Bestselling author was there. So was her husband (who was presenting a class on contract law ins and outs for authors) who has a really fun middle grade book of his own. There were two USA Today Bestselling authors as well, giving us their wisdom. Lots of award winners, as well as top-notch teachers.
The organizers brought in agents from
One of the little sweet moments for me was during a class taught by Heather B. Moore, USA Today Bestselling Author (click on the link to learn how they did it) and ingenious writer and businesswoman. She was teaching about co-authoring, the ins and outs and ups and downs of it, as well as how to do it right. One on of her slides discussing author collaborative projects was a picture of the cover of my upcoming book IMMERSED, as an example of what kinds of things can be done. Cool. Made me feel kinda special.
Other classes included “How to Write Cinematically” by Adam Sidwell; “The Hero’s Journey” by Annette Lyon; the contracts class by Kenny Pike; short story writing; a time-saving tips class by Dierdre Eden; lots more that I thoroughly enjoyed. Oh, yeah, a panel discussion from the editors and agents. Good stuff. And a great and inspiring keynote by Sarah Eden, as well as a bookstore where I spent way too much money but don’t regret a single purchase, and a costume ball.
My favorite thing by far was getting to see the good women and men I have met through writing circles, hear about their lives, their triumphs and tragedies. I wish I could have spent more time visiting with each of them, and I guess that’s what I look forward to most if I ever make it to heaven. It’ll be good conversations with people I love at leisure.
So…over all…! Good times! Put it on your calendar for next year. They already announced that the keynote speaker will be BRANDON MULL. Yes, ladies and gents. Brandon Mull. We shall be learning from the best yet again.
I’m delighted to have been included in a collaborative series of clean romance novels debuting this spring. It’s called the “Ripple Effect Romance” series. The idea is that in each book, a character from the next makes an appearance. They’re tied together, but only loosely, like a ripple in a pond. Mine, IMMERSED, is #6 of six, and so is the final ripple. Ha! It just now occurred to me that my title is pretty appropriate. As a kid I was an obsessive rock-skipper, and as all rock skippers know, each skip creates a new series of ripples, but the final conclusion is always that the rock sinks. Hence, immersed.
Oh, forgive me.
Anyhow, the books are really shaping up nicely. All the other authors are also published and have great books. Each of us has a different style of writing, but you can count on all the books to be clean–and good love stories. And well edited! They’ll be available both in print version, as well as e-book version. The covers, which were designed by Rachael Anderson, are so cute. Love them. I’d post them all, but I don’t have them all individually right this second. (I’ll post them separately as they come out, for sure.) I wanted to give you some, though, so you’d get an idea of the theme. They’re cute, right? Rachael’s talented.
Here’s the timeline for the releases:
Home Matters, by Julie Ford: March 10
Silver Linings, by Kaylee Lenkersdorfer: March 24
Righting a Wrong, by Rachael Anderson: April 7
Lost & Found, by Karey White: April 21
Second Chances 101, by Donna K. Weaver: May 5
Immersed, by Jennifer Griffith : May 19
I don’t know the plots of everyone’s books yet, but here’s a little blurb of IMMERSED. (I need to polish this up. Taking suggestions.)
Lisette Pannebaker speaks five languages. Now she has a brilliant business plan—personal language immersion! Clients can hire her to shadow them and speak all day in any language they need to learn for business or travel—whatever.
But there’s a major hitch: she’s far too pretty. Clients with less than honorable intentions sign up just to have Lisette at their side.
Solution? A make-under. Way under.
It works like a charm. None of her male clients show her the least bit of interest. Until suddenly she wants one to: Erik.
Erik Gunnarsson. He’s charming, kind, smart—everything she’s looked for. Lisette is tempted to shed her disguise, even though he seems to have a secret, even though she swore she’d never date a client, even if it means jeopardizing her career.
I’m excited about how these are shaping up. It’s been fun. Can’t wait for everyone to get a chance to read them!
This all started because of a dream I had.
In 2006, I had a book published by Spring Creek Book Company. As all traditionally published authors know, the publisher gets the say in the cover and the title of the book. Mine was called A Little Sisterly Advice. It’s the story of Julia Cronquist, a college freshman, and her heart rending crush on a guy she sees on campus but doesn’t have the nerve to meet. She’s got a lot going for her, but she doesn’t know it, and she gets some dubious advice about guys from her popular older sister, Bianca. Following that advice garners Julia trouble and hilarity.
In its day the book sold well. In facttttt, it was briefly #1 on the Deseret Book bestselling list. And on days when I feel like a writing schlump, I have the screenshot printout to remind myself of that.
Anyway, on Saturday morning I woke up, and I remembered my dream, that I’d renamed that book and put a new cover on it. And that the title was Hopeless Crush, which was pretty close to what I wanted to name the manuscript originally. (I also had some other, really stupid ideas for titles, which I won’t regale you with now. You’re welcome.)
So, even though I should probably have spent more time mulling and considering it, I just bombed ahead, found a cover shot I liked, got some feedback from Ginny, my redheaded niece (to whom the book is dedicated), some help from some awesome friends in my ANWA writers group (thanks, ladies!) and from Dave, a.k.a. the Wizard, and designed the dang thing. Because the text had been professionally edited when originally published, at least I didn’t have to sweat that, though.
After a late night fighting with the details on Monday, I finally triumphed over technology, and it’s up and available on Kindle! Yay! Here’s the cover design. Do you like it?
Maybe you or a teenager in your life would enjoy reading this fun, coming of age book. It’s light fiction, just escapist. DO NOT assume this will change your life. It is not the Great American Novel. It’s titled “Hopeless Crush,” for heaven’s sake. But, here it is for your consideration. And, can I ask a favor? Will you spread the word about it?
Oh, and important note! It’s still the same book as before, so if you were one of the kind, wonderful people who read it back in 2006, THANK YOU! And don’t feel obligated to read this again. Haw.
Oh, and another thing–here’s the blurb.
Nothing is going like Julia Cronquist planned. She was going to go to Julliard. She was going to have a glamorous life as a musician. She was going to live on the East Coast. But no. Now her parents have up and moved her family to Nowhere, and she has just watched her dreams evaporate.
Still, she’s got pluck, and she’s going to make the best of her freshman year at
So, Christmas spending was wild and crazy. I needed to bounce back from that, but then my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer sort of broke its neck, and my ice maker in my fridge went seriously berserk. We’re talking a frozen waterfall–almost something I can imagine Sting writing lyrics about, with a dead salmon in it, but in this case, a dead pile of pork shoulder steaks with a “Reduced for Quick Sale” sticker on it.
When I was trying to get presents together for the kids last month, I went to the local appliance store to see if they had a refrigerator box I could turn into a playhouse for my 9 year-old daughter, and happened to momentarily have my eyes pop out of my head at the price tags. Have you seen how much fridges cost these days? Holy smokes. It jarred me–because before the frozen waterfall we’d been enjoying bad times with that appliance (and not enjoying them very much)* for about 5 years, with a persistent leak of water at the back of the fridge I’d been catching at first with one Tupperware bowl, that had grown to four Tupperware containers collecting as much as a gallon of water a day.
And $1700 for a new one wasn’t going to work for me. To make matters worse, $1700 for a new one hadn’t worked for anyone else, either, so I couldn’t make the playhouse. Bummer. Maybe the Easter Bunny will bring the kids one.
Anyway, the ice floe was bad, but then with my trusty Kitchen-Aid going wrong (it just bent its little head down too far and ended up scraping metal tool against metal bowl and making every single thing I made taste like metal), it felt like the Appliance-Ruining-Elves were working overtime here. (Come on, I know you secretly believe in these. They come to your house too. And they never break just one thing at a time, right?) Replacing the Kitchen-Aid wasn’t even on the radar screen of possibilities. We’d just have to do without homemade rolls for a few months or years.
But, by the grace of Heaven, I was blessed to marry a brilliant man. Despite his juris doctor degree from Georgetown, he’s no intellectual slouch. (Obligatory lawyer joke.) He knows his way around an owner’s manual and a you-tube “fix it yourself” video. For his New Year’s Day vacation, he disassembled the entire freezer, chipped about 40 pounds of ice out of it, replaced the faulty ice maker, realized it didn’t fully solve the problem, disassembled it again, and fixed the mega-drip in the back of the fridge. Then yesterday, he got out his trusty screwdriver set and repaired my poor, ailing mixer in a jiffer.
How can I resist him? He not only acts as beta reader for my light hearted romance novels, as well as my muse, but he also saves us about $2000 by just figuring stuff out so we don’t have to buy new stuff.
I’m a lucky girl.
My husband’s aunt passed away a week ago. She’d been ill with brain cancer for nearly three years, and had suffered greatly in the past few months, and so we’d had time to prepare ourselves. But I don’t think you’re ever fully prepared, even if you’d prayed for that person’s release and wished for their suffering to be brought to a peaceful close, which his aunt’s finally were, blessedly.
So we attended the funeral on Saturday. I love a good funeral. There was lovely music. Words of faith and encouragement were offered. Our beliefs about this life and what happens next in her eternal journey and God’s plan for His children were expounded on beautifully. The life of a truly good woman was celebrated by her children and husband. She lived for others, a quiet and service-filled life, and her life touched mine. I knew she loved me, and I was just a niece-in-law. But she treated me like gold.
And it made me think. I thought about how much of a better aunt I’d like to be to my own nieces and nephews. They mean so much to me. There are some who live close, and others who live thousands of miles away. But while I listened to the reminiscences of her life, I determined I’m going to do more to show my love for them. It of course made me want to be more generous with my time and my service to the neighbors around me, take more interest in their lives, give more unstintingly of my love.
Because that’s just it–when it all comes down to it, the thing that matters most is this: how well we love.