Friday, August 16, 2013

U of Spark, Moving Sale!

Okay, not really. There's no sale. But there is a address:

Those Kennedy Women 

U of Spark, aka Cupcake, aka Muse and Musing (!) will now be a part of Those Kennedy Women. In my last post here I wrote about what I wished I blogged more about...which got me all excited for re-launching Those Kennedy Women, which we did. But then the reality hit me.

Bonk! Boiinnnng! Crash!

I couldn't manage two blogs successfully before, how would I/we do it now? I decided to concentrate on one blog--with, hopefully, all the good stuff in one place! So, for now, no new content here, but new stuff over at tKw. Really, truly hope you join us there!

Everything in one neat-o package. Hope you join us there.

Friday, July 26, 2013

#blogitjuly What Do You Wish You Blogged More About? And City or Country?

Are you kidding?
I'm just so flipping happy I've blogged more than once this bloggity month-o-July!

But, seriously folks, my plan is to make a plan. I've changed the name of my blog to reflect what it is I want to do/write...I think.

I'm hoping U of Spark will be about creativity and hilarity--I'm sure there will be more, um, concrete things, actually there is one. Maybe two. Possibly three.

I'll be using Pinterest, yes Pinterest!
A Life More Pinteresting! Will showcase all those cool pins in action--do they work? Are they awesome? Will you feel totally cool and creative/organized/gorgeous/culinary when you try them? I'll be answering those burning questions
I Am Not Even Kidding... will highlight the weird and wonderful of life! True.
ArtBee <3/ My Place 2 Create is a work in progress--I've written about this before:
"...some kind of art space(s) for at risk kids and young adults--a safe place to come together, create art whether that's painting, poetry, photography, mixed media, quilting, handcrafting--anything. A place to create and heal."
But, since I can't create a physical space (yet) I want to do something online--I just need to figure it out--which is cool, because we can figure it out together.

August 1st seems an auspicious date for the beginning of this new adventure--it is my Mom's 91st birthday.
If that's not auspicious, I don't know what is! And, well, it gives me some time...not much, but some.

We'll also be re-launching Those Kennedy Women on August 1st...cuz it's my Mom's b i r t h d a y (how many times do I have to explain this?) and she's the original "Kennedy" woman (at least in our family)!

It might seem counter-intuitive to launch them both on the same day, but...I don't care!

"...Do or do not. There is no try." Yoda.
So, see, I'm just going to do.

Now, onto the next question: city person or country person? I absolutely need both in my life. I love the country--wide open spaces, nature abounding, it! But I also know I adore being close to shops and restaurants--and people.

So, where do I live? The suburbs, which is the worst of both!

What do you wish you blogged more about--or other people blogged more about? And are you a city person or a country person?

Monday, July 15, 2013

#blogitjuly Mash-Up Mania (Due To Laziness!)

How do you think you will fare in the zombie apocalypse?

Since I am the hero of my own story, I'd like to think I'd fare pretty well--sure there'd be terror, nightmarish situations, and probably no more Peppermint Bon-Bon ice cream and I have no athletic ability or McGuyver-like skills, yet I'm sure I'd survive in a mobile hold-out with all my loved ones.

What are 3 of your favorite love songs?

At Last, by Etta James
You and I, by Lady Gaga
Everlong, by Foo Fighters
This list can change without notification and sometimes includes, but is not limited to:
Born To Run, by Bruce Springsteen
Roll To Me, by Del Amitri
Fall At Your Feet, by Crowded House...

What is your last meal?

Lobster with drawn butter
Baked Sweet Potato with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon
mushrooms fried with butter, garlic and parmesan cheese
Chopped Salad from Gino's in Chicago
Apple Pie (warmed) with cinnamon ice cream
Cabernet Sauvignon
Coffee (the best coffee) with whipping cream

What do you do when you need to unplug, de-stress and stop thinking about the world?


Thursday, July 11, 2013

#blogitjuly Tell Us A Story

I'm going to cheat for this episode of Blog It July...I'm just going to tell you the start of a story.

Mr. Smyth had the job of driving me to my new school and residence. My foster parents said I should feel lucky, not about Mr. Smyth, with his rickety oldhorse cart, but about the opportunity to attend this school. I felt anything but lucky at this moment, as I clutched the invitation – sweat and fear ruining it for any keepsake – and wondered, for the hundredth time, why they would want me.
We left behind a bustling thoroughfare and turned onto a desolate lane. Mr. Smyth slowed the horse to a stop at the only drive I saw, an enormous wrought iron gate barring the way.
I considered this closed gate and looked back at the equally closed Mr. Smyth, he nearly smiled, but instead reached behind the bench, grabbed my bag and heaved it. I watched its graceful arc and hard landing at the gates. A good aim, that Mr. Smyth, I thought as I continued to sit and fidget with my skirts and invitation.
            “Well…” he said. “What are you waiting for, a hand down? Get off girl.”
            “It does not look as if anyone’s expecting me,” I craned my head and looked down the long drive and then back at Mr. Smyth.
            He raised an eyebrow in my direction. “Has anyone ever expected the likes of you?”
            Oh. I thought not. An examination of my own life never led to good. “Thank you for,” the right word eluded me, “escorting me, Mr. Smyth—” he interrupted with a guffaw. “I’ll be going now.” I hazarded a smile, he did not reciprocate.
            Lifting my skirts, I hopped down from the cart. Mr. Smyth did not wait to see if I could get in the gates, he barely looked to see if I landed.
            Beyond the gate and down the drive was an imposing stone structure – some might call it a mansion if they didn’t know its purpose. Or name. Not that either was advertised:
            Miss Carmella’s School for Exceptional Girls and Above Average Boys

            That much I did know. I searched the gate for a bell, or lever, or even small hidden doorway, finding none of those things, I resigned myself to simply waiting, something that could be considered almost a luxury at the Theatre. Then the rain began.

This is (possibly) the opening to a YA steampunkish/paranormaly romance (yay!):
Goddess In The Mechanica
I'm at a little over 26,000 words, rough, rough, rough draft. There's a cool school, mythological DNA alchemy, a mechanical spider, Airpirates of the Mississippi (!), and a mad scientist. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

#blogitjuly ...WORD

What is your word for the year (a word that keeps popping up, something that you want to work on, something to inspire or direct you…)? Why did you choose it?

My first word (because, I can't have just one) is:

*here's where I learned the most about it But after I first read it, I saw it in lots of other places, blogs, tweets etc. The funny thing is I was always worried that I had too many passions.
making jewelry
making crafts
(If I owned a cool camera, photography would probably be in there as well.)

And then I heard (through Heather Wambach ) the word:



A most beautiful word! Every time I see it or say it I want to turn into a fairy godmother and burst into song:

 skip to the 5 minute mark!

Possibilitarian makes me all tingly and anticipatory and expectational. Greatly Expectational.

I think I'm starting to work toward this idea of possible things, just the fact that I'm a part of Blog It July is huge--huge, I tell you. I have "put myself out there" more times this year by creating jewelry and crafts and giving them to people and by submitting fiction (and getting some great rejections!). Next up, accomplishment aprons!

Now, all I need is a kick-ass camera and I'll be golden.

What's your word?



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

#blogitjuly What Is The Oddest Thing You Have Seen In Real Life?

I'm fairly certain I've seen some pretty odd things, but this is the first thing that sprang (this choice of word is pretty darn funny):

Okay, my best friend Jeanne and I were out partying and dancing and partying and um, doing all kinds of legal things. It was late but we weren't tired so we decided to get donuts or bagels or something and go to the lake and watch the sunrise. This was a LONG time ago. L.O.N.G. Time ago. Like pre-history. Okay?

So we do this. We buy the food we go to the lake we lay a blanket on the ground and we wait for the sun to rise and we chat. And then a guy walks by and plops himself down behind us on our blanket. Weird, right? Well, we're in a love-thy-neighbor kind of mood and simply smile at him and turn back to watch the sunrise.

And then out of the corner of my eye I see him doing something with his hand--I forgot to tell you he had one of those knife holsters on his belt with a KNIFE in the holster*.

*(I know "holster" is the wrong word for it, but it's what I've got for a descriptive and you'll have to live with it).

Okay--so there's a knife and he's doing something with his hand. And I start to think to myself, "Self, he's behind you and he has a knife and even though you love everyone, he might not love you...and he's doing something with his hand."

So, I turn around, aaaannnddd it's not the knife he has in his hand it's his PENIS!!!

I am not even kidding.

So I do the smart thing, I jump up and say in one of those quiet yell(y) shaming voices, "PUT that thing back in your pants and get OUT of here!" Pointing emphatically in the direction of "out."

Jeanne looks around with a "what?" nearly out of her mouth when she sees the offending appendage and then she herself jumps up. We gather our things shake out the blanket and storm off, but I'm happy in the knowledge that the knife wielding masturbator has been thwarted. I know he wasn't actually wielding the knife, but he could have been--it was a possibility.

My best friend and I made it home safely and it wasn't until the next day (well, technically it was already the next day, but you know what I mean) that I realized yelling at him was either the smartest thing I could have done or the most incredibly stupid thing in the whole wide world I could have done!

But it sure did make a good story.

What's the oddest thing you've seen?

Monday, July 8, 2013

#blogitjuly What Does Your Ideal Cabin Look Like?

Owning a cabin feels right. It feels as if it's already a reality.

Alas, it's not a reality.

However, I used to spend many a summer day and night and day, etc. at The Andersons' cabin on Lake Minnetonka back in the day. I think that's why it feels right. This was back before Lake Minnetonka was a party lake and before the shore was peppered with monster mansions.

The Anderson cabin was the perfect size, a living room dining area and open(ish) kitchen on one side with three bedrooms on the other. A cool stairway leading to a loft area (at one point we had a rope swing attached to the beams--I am not even kidding)--two bunks on either side of the room open to the living room below. My friend and I almost always chose to sleep in the loft. When we were older we'd sleep on the sail boat, sometimes taking it to one of the Islands first, anchoring it offshore and spending the night there.

So I guess my ideal cabin entails more than just a cabin, but it will have to be:

Warm and inviting with enough room to invite people to spend the night but small enough to be cozy (and easy to clean), on the water and close to a charming town.

That's not too much to ask is it?

What's yours look like?

Friday, July 5, 2013

#blogitjuly What Is Your Favorite Card Game?

Day 5 (super, duper late)

The first thing that came to mind is Speed. My youngest and I play this, sometimes for an entire evening! Let's see if I can explain it:

Shuffle the cards
It's sort of one of those sneaky games where you forget how to play it until the cards are in front of you. It's like a double secret card game!

Let's see...
I think there's three piles in the middle of the table with...some cards in each pile--oh. This is ridiculous! It's my favorite card game and I can't explain it!

Okay, back from Youtube.
Deal twenty cards each. In the middle of table are two piles with six cards in each, top card from each pile taken off top to center so you have:

5 cards 1 card 1 card. 5 cards, plus both players have their stock of twenty.
Two middle cards are flipped simultaneously (you can play onto either one) going in ascending or descending order--ace, king, queen or ace, two, three. You can also duplicate the card, so if a three is thrown and you have 2 threes--you can throw them both on the other three.

There is much screaming and bashing of teeth whilst playing.

Also, if you get stuck--no one can play a card, you then flip the next two cards from the pile of five, etc, etc, etc.

I know I've explained it horribly (it's really late and I met a friend for dinner and I had two cosmos) and I should have put up a link to a youtube video, but you guys are smart, right?

It really is fun. So what's your fave card game?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

#blogitjuly What Do You Like About America? (Being awesome doesn't count)

Blog it July Day 4

I love the idea of America.

I love that during the last election the line wound around inside the building (as if we were outlining the interior walls) all the way outside the building. People chatted with each other. My husband had gone earlier than me, so when he was done he hung out in the line and had everyone laughing around us.

So, of course, I posted that on Facebook:
  1. Voted. I walk into our poling place and there's my husband...about 100 people waiting behind him, I almost cut in line, then thought better of it. After he was done voting, he hung out with me for awhile, did a bit of a comedy routine, got everyone laughing and then left.

    Gotta love democracy!

    I love that, usually, we can come together in times of crisis and help each other.
    I love that once in awhile the SCOTUS does the right thing (goodbye DOMA).

    And I love Baseball:

America is like a child, sometimes she disappoints me, or doesn't do the right (what I think is right) thing--but I love her no matter what.

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

#blogitjuly Day Three...Dunh, Dunh, DUNH

Assuming there is intelligent life in the universe, how do you think we will connect with them, if and when we do (invasion, violence, surrender, peace etc.)

This is an awesome question, especially since I'm reading Richard Yancey's The 5th Wave. OH. My. Fracking. (Auto correct made "fracking" far king, which is kind of cool). GAWD.

It is not pretty. But it is sooooo good! So, it's kind of skewed my view of alien encounters.

But, I'll try to answer this with my own mind and not that of a corrupted alien brain.

Sometimes the people I meet make me think aliens are already here, you know the ones, the ones that make you go, "hmm." Aliens are here and they are posing as pubescent 13 year olds, because, seriously, have you talked to a kid lately? 

Okay, I'm joking, I've owned several 13 year olds and they eventually grow out of it.

I actually have high hopes for a good encounter with intelligent life, but have you seen District 9? We're assholes! So, I don't know. I want it to be good and joyful and love each other and learn from each other...but then we have a lot of growing to do before they get here.

I wrote a short story, a long, long time ago, but it was before computers were invented--fine, they were invented, but hardly anyone owned one. Anyway, I don't know where it is, if I ever find it and feel the need to be ridiculed, I'll post it.

So, what do you think? E.T. or Falling Skies?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

#blogitjuly WHAT DO YOU GEEK?

Day 2 #blogitjuly...Write. Sew. Drink. Repeat
What do I geek? I don't nerd out over things, wait...yes I do. I like to think I have some level of sophistication, but then I realize that's so damn boring--I can fake sophistication if I have to, why should I live it? So, without further ado, let the geek-o-meter start:

This is me
Geeking on Battlestar Galactica. Frack Yeah! I have taught the 14 year old to use the word "frack" in all possible scenarios. I am a goodly(ish) mother.

(steampunk) je t'aime!

Also this.
Hello (bad) Angel, Hello (good or bad) Spike.

(steampunk) je t'adore!

This too.
I wish I had this show when I was 16 years old. Just sayin'

(steampunk) le vagues son tres forte!* 

My heart breaks

Okay, enough with the tough chicks. Sheesh! Also, I geek on writers, I've been known to squeal with delight when I get an author's new book, especially in a series. I know I'll forget someone, but I hold in geeky adoration:
Patricia Briggs
Kiersten White
Veronica Roth
Suzanne Collins
Joe Hill (Locke & Key)
Laurell K Hamilton (the first 8 Anita Blake's are genius)
J.K. Rowling
Charlaine Harris
Lisa Kleypas (I once met her and spontaneously combusted into a fan girl--I hugged her.)
I have way more authors, but I'm tired and feeling a bit lazy.



Renaissance Festivals too.
I geek, therefor I am.

*the waves are very strong. You'd be surprised how often you need to say this!
What do you geek?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Blog it July! What do you want to be remembered for?

My husband talks about this a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. He seems to be concerned that he'll never be a James Taylor, remembered for iconic music or an Albert Einstein remembered for genius and beauty--and even though he talks about it (a lot) I never really thought about it specifically. And I guess, when I think of being remembered, I think of my family and friends.

How would they remember me?

This is what I care about. What do I want to be remembered for by the people who matter most to me?

I want to be remembered for being the best me I could be. For laughing too loud and making other people laugh too loud. For not succumbing to suffering when faced with immeasurable sadness. For loving life. For having style (whether I do or not, I want people to remember me for that), for listening, for loving them.

Now, if I were to consider people I don't know, well, I'd like to be remembered for writing a heartbreaking work of staggering genius,, that's not right, there is no staggering genius dying to be let out of my noggin. And I don't actually write heartbreaking anything.

There is, however, some paranormalish teen romantical stuff that likes to come out to play. So, you know, it might be cool to be remembered for writing pretty darn okay books...that were made into kick-ass movies, that made people laugh and made me incredibly rich.

Okay. My dream after (or while) writing pretty darn okay books is to develop some kind of art space(s) for at risk kids and young adults--a safe place to come together, create art whether that's painting, poetry, photography, mixed media, quilting, handcrafting--anything. A place to create and heal. That would be cool to accomplish (and be remembered for).

And I think my family and friends would agree.

Apparently, I lied. I guess I have thought about this!

So...what about you, what do you want to be remembered for?

Here's a link to the creator/dreamer-upper of Blog It July, Heather Wambach at Write.Sew.Drink.Repeat


Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Check-in With my Brain (ROW80)

What I don’t know (a sampling)

I don’t know How many angels can dance on my pin head
I don’t know what easy as pie means. Does it mean, as easy as making pie? Because, that is not easy—unless you cheat and buy a frozen crust and canned fruit filling.
Now, eating pie? That is easy. Maybe the saying should be:
Easy as eating pie.

I don’t know how to let the bright shiny things be. Just let them be!

I don’t know how to express my love for and stupidity about Quantum Physics and String Theory including other universes
I don’t know where the show “Firefly” could have gone if not cancelled. OKAY, they gave me “Serenity” but, come-on!

What I do know (a sampling)

I do know when I write, I write, which in turn makes me write more.
I do know every time I send something out I am braver and braver (also willing to take more risks—because they’re really not risks since I’m not published yet!)
I do know when I feel a part of a community and with some healthy competition I write more.
I do know that I can write whatever the hell I want and if I want to write a Steampunked mythological zombie-fied automaton novel of revenge, I fricken can! Or, you know, a romance is good too.

Monday, March 4, 2013

ROW 80, cha-cha-cha

Feeling much better about a lot of things. Seem to have a handle on my goals, here's the scoop:

Edited 5 pages a day--check! 

Extra special stuff:
I've joined a health challenge with a group of co-workers, point based. Lots of "healthy" competition ;).
Every day I wear my pedometer and I try to do two cardio things--walking and riding the stationary, ice skating and get the picture.

And because I love to see our team in the top three, I like to add big numbers! Yesterday I broke 20k steps on my pedometer and walked (ran for a micro-second) at the activity center for an hour (yay!) while my youngest had baseball practice.

How's everyone else doing?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Row 80 Check-in, Late Again!

I blew right past last Sunday's check-in and now I'm late for Wednesday's.

Clearly, something's wrong. With me. ::sigh::

I was doing pretty good through Sunday too, really should have posted on a high note.
Last week, I did get three hours butt in chair--with some good advancement in the editing/rewriting.
Then, kaplouey!!!

I'm changing my goals...again. 

There's a part of me that is so disappointed in myself, for not rocking this last goal, for changing my goals again, for so many things... luckily, there is a louder, bossier part of me that says, "who gives a rat's ass? Do, what you have to do. And if that means changing your flipping goal every check-in, so be it!"

Without further ado, my new and improved goals:
(Got this from Chuck Wendig's terrible minds kick butt blog)
Edit 5 pages a day
If writing is needed--added scene, expand a scene, write 350 words a day

Minimum of 22 minutes a day of one of the following:
Brisk walk
Ice Skate
Stationary bike

Here I go again...I'm off to check on all of you.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Lost Check-In

Holy lost check-in Batman! I completely forgot to post (or check-in with other ROWers) on Sunday!

What is up with that?

I don’t know.

Last check-in I decided I needed to change, re-word and re-imagine my goals. Here’s what I came up with:


Not on Facebook, not on Twitter, not on Pinterest

Working on manuscript—some manuscript lurve

I did get some work done this past week, got a couple scenes fleshed out, but I know I can do more. If I just stay in my chair.
Hope everyone had a more productive week than I did! Tell me about it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hello Wednesday!

Well now it's Thursday...nearly Friday!

Wrote three more pages so far this week. Think I have to re-write my goals, I'm making that one of my goals for the rest of this week: rewrite goals!

That. Is about it.


I'm in the middle of another change. At the beginning of last year I had a huge change--I was promoted and moved to a new library. Writing it makes it sound insignificant, but it wasn't. I had been at my old library for 15 years, I had connections with the patrons and the staff was my family.

Now I've made new connections and I love my "new", of course, I am gearing up for another change. I've been asked to supervise (circulation staff) two smaller libraries (I co-supervise at a large library right now). So, now two more libraries to get to know, staff and patrons alike.

I am bittersweet. It feels as if I have just found my land legs and now it's back to sea. But I am always up for a challenge and I know how lucky I am to have work--especially work I enjoy. I hope to be able to focus on writing again. Soon.

How's everyone else doing?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Hi Rowers!

A (short) List of Awesome:
Made dinner with youngest, in which a bacon weave was involved!

Filmed dog and youngest in popcorn catching contest!

Having a weird time, pulling the proverbial teeth to get anything written. I have a you-know-what storm of happening right now, but I don't think that's it.

I was thinking about this as I folded some laundry--some good ideas can come whilst folding boxers--my characters came to mind and how they might feel about me NOT writing.

Which is when I started asking them questions...
Look, I know that sounds flaky, but it happened, and I went with it.

Here's what they said:
Me: So...what are you guys doing?
Van: What are we doing? What are you doing? Seems like a whole lot of nothing.
Eva: That's harsh. You don't have to be mean Van. Although, he kind of has a point.
Me: Okay, okay I know what you mean. I can't seem to get back in the story.
Eva: What helped you before?
Van: I hope it was the sex.
Eva: Oh, you!
Me: He's kind of right, when I made the big push to finish a lot of it was sex.
Van: Yes!
Me: But I think more than anything I love the banter.
Eva: Yes, I love it too. Never thought I was one for bantering, but he just brings it out in me.
Van: Really, I'd never guess.
Eva: There you have it, and that's why I have to say it to her.
Van: Touche.
Me: Ha! Okay, maybe I can do this now.
Van: Well, I hope so, I really want to get back to the...banter.
Eva: too!

And then I wrote, now this was pretty late, and I only wrote one page, but it was one page that wasn't written before!

I realized how much I miss these characters, and I want to make their story as rich as I can. So, I'm doing it for them. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

18 THINGS (You Should Know About Writing)

Addensum: Hi ROWers! My check-in is after Jamie's great post

I am so happy to have Jamie Ayres here today with her fabulous self talking about 18 should know about writing, to coincide with her 18 Things YA book release! And now, here she is:

18 Things

You Should Know About Writing
1.      Agents/Editors say give us the stakes first. The Hunger Games is a great example. *Spoiler Alert* Prim gets picked at the reaping, Katniss takes her place. The author doesn't start at the moment her name gets called. It starts the day of the reaping so we have a few pages to get familiar with Katniss, know what the Hunger Games are, know the odds of her getting picked and how she protected her sister so Prim’s name is only in the drawing once. This makes the moment when Prim’s name gets called even more powerful, in a way it wouldn't have if we didn't know the circumstances leading up to that event.

2.      Create characters that are interesting, though they don’t need to be likable  They should be compelling and inspire the reader to want to read more. The hero/heroine should be identifiable from secondary characters. Secondary characters shouldn’t take over the story.

3.      Know your characters. Do they have any quirks? Words they use too much? Imagine their personalities and spread their voice throughout the whole thing, so it’s really them when they ‘speak.’ Use a plotting table to help you organize your characters and their scenes, here's one in this post!

4.      Dialogue should always serve a purpose. Every quote should move the story along, show character, or share new information. Also, be a conversationalist. Noah Lukeman, author of The First Five Pages, states: “The most common malady is use of dialogue to convey backstory. The solution is to follow this rule: Dialogue should not be used to state things both characters already know, that is, one character should not remind the other character of something. It is an obvious ploy, intended only for the reader.” (page 94) In summary, no dialogue information dumps!

5.      Avoid dialogue tags. Always avoid things like responded, assessed, confirmed, and whatever else there is. He said/she said. Those tags disappear in the prose and make writing flow.

6.      Know the difference between beats and tags. Tags are said, asked, etc  Beats are actions identifying the speaker without needing to use a tag. With tags, you want to keep it simple. Use said most of the time, unless you want to show something in the voice or tone, but even then, use it carefully. Things like smile shouldn't be used as a tag. You can’t smile a word. Actions like smiling, sighing, pacing, are beats. Here’s the difference: “I love you,” she said. TAG. She looked down and sighed. “I love you.” BEAT. When using a beat, there’s no need to use a tag. Pick one.

7.      Avoid impossible simultaneous actions: Closing the door, she hugged him. As written, this is impossible. If she’s closing the door, she can’t hug someone at the same time. In that use, use either “and” or “then.”

8.      SNT (Show, Not Tell). Think of Twilight. We are in Bella’s head, LIVING each moment as she experiences it. The action is ACTIVE, not passive. Many writers make the mistake of telling the story rather than showing it. This happened, then this happened, then this happened. Find all the was/had/have/were and delete them to avoid passive sentences. Ex: He was walking. Change to: He jogged/strolled/paced/ambled.

9.      Each scene needs a beginning, middle, and end. It needs a purpose, it needs to do more than establish tension, and it needs some sort of resolution. It really should end on a hook that makes the reader want to read more. Don’t just blend scenes together with time passing in between, with no clear purpose or impact. Show the character’s journey, their pain, and their triumph. Make them as memorable as can be.

10.  In Techniques of the Selling Writer, writing guru Dwight V. Swain teaches us to spotlight three things: desire, danger, decision. Someone wants to attain or retain something. Something else threatens his chances of doing so. He decides to fight the threat. The thing Character wants, the danger threatening fulfillment of his desires, and the decision he makes, determine what specific readers will enjoy the story. You have to give your reader a reason to worry.

11.  Don’t take on too many things in one novel. If there’s too many storylines and minor storylines, it could cause the main story to not be developed fully. The beauty of fictional novels is you can always have sequels!

12.  Write with all the senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. The Bookshelf Muse is a great resource for this!

13.  Use Adjectives sparingly. Especially avoid redundant modifiers: small puppies, yellow daffodils, cheerful smiles. Instead, choose adjectives that are unique and add comprehension.

14.  Avoid adverbs. Constance Hale notes in her book, Sin and Syntax, “Adverbs are crashers in the syntax house party. More often than not, they should be deleted when they sneak in the back door.”Most over-used adverb intensifiers: absolutely, definitely, particularly, actually, basically, decidedly, quite, very, really, totally, madly, dearly, utterly, absolutely, completely, mainly, usually, too.

15.  Avoid the Preach ‘N’ Teach mentality. People read fiction as an escape, so don’t try to shove a lesson down their throats.

16.  Do a Find on the word ‘that’ in your manuscript and remove any unnecessary usage. Read the sentence without ‘that’ and if it still makes sense, delete ‘that.’’

17.  Don’t head-hop. Stay in one character’s POV (point of view) within a scene. Also, make sure you use only information the narrator can know.

18.  Don’t bog your story down with backstory/flashbacks, which are often frowned upon. The main problem with backstory/flashbacks is there isn't a lot of action. They’re fine for a change of pace, but they shouldn't be the vehicle for the entire novel.

*What about you? Is there anything else I should’ve included in my list of 18 Things? Keep in mind agents/editors get HUNDREDS, yes, hundreds of queries every week. Your work can’t be good. It needs to be flippin’ fantastic to stand out. The competition is fierce, and there is no room for error.

Okay, enough said. Feel free to throw darts at my image now out of frustration (believe me, been there, done that, still not through learning yet).
Hope we can still be friendsJ

~Jamie Ayres 
 Jamie Ayres writes young adult paranormal love stories by night and teaches young adults as a public school teacher by day. She lives in southwest Florida with her husband and two daughters. 18 Things is her debut novel. Visit her website at
18 Things is available here:
Add 18 Things to your TBR list!

ROW80 check-in:
List of Awesome
Jamie Ayres doing a guest post here!
My youngest turned 14
I've finally cracked the no research thing and have some cool stuff
Well into writing (yes, I know, starting isn't completing) the next big scene that's missing.
Short check-in. Hope everyone is doing Awesome!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sunday, Sunday... or Monday

Quick and dirty...and, um, late check-in.

Finally started to do some research, yay!
Did not write a new scene, boo!
Sponsorship, yay!
Life balance/order, yay-ish! This is not so cut and dry--have some soul-searching on this, but feeling confident.

Have been busy getting a guest post together from the lovely and talented Jamie Ayres

Her new YA 18 Things is released and we're celebrating! She'll be here tomorrow Tuesday February, 5th! With a cool 18 Things You Should Know as a Writer post. Check it out tomorrow!

Off to check-up on how you all are doing!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I adore that Pep Talk! My youngest showed it to us this week--one of his teachers had shown it to him. This is the kind of thing that should go viral!

I have done not a thing since Sunday, Wednesday always catches me unaware, which is why last week I didn't even catch it that Kait hadn't posted a check-in...and, to be honest, mid-week is usually too frantic for me. But I thought I'd give it a go.

I have two goals: write a scene a week and research one item from my manuscript list.
I think I need to add sponsor goals--mainly because I'm pretty good at those!
Plus, I had a hard realization that I need to be a much better planner--I'm pretty well organized with most things, but sometimes I equate talking about something as doing it!

New list

Write one new scene OR an hour of revisions a week (this still seems very small, but I don't want to scare my muse)

Research one item from the manuscript list a week (really! What is keeping me from doing this?)

Show up as a sponsor (which I have, thank goodness) and be myself. Both of which I want to continue doing.

Be accountable. In my personal and professional life. This one is harder to quantify...I need to come up with a system: a calendar or white board or reminder list, I don't know. If anyone has any brilliant  ideas or apps for that, would you let me know? I can remember things like, put more money in my
son's school lunch account, but not that my hair appt. is two days from now.

How's everyone else doing?

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Okay, totally stealing, er, borrowing this from Karen Rought


I know! Right?

Because, sometimes I think our brains latch on to lists of SUCKAGENESS too easily, and we need to stop that. 

Right now.
This minute, this second! 

In fact, not only do I want a list of awesome, I want a box of awesome as well. And, why not? Then, if suckageness scrapes at my door, I can simply look in my box of awesome and be reminded of the pure joy and awesomeness of life.

  1. I won an hour of creativity coaching from the awesome Jennifer Blanchard
  2. Started watching Downton Abbey! I know. What took me so long?
  3. Jamie Ayres is going to visit my blog on Feb. 5th! We'll be celebrating her new release YA 18 Things Jamie's going to be writing about 18 Things You Should Know About Writing--can't wait!
  4. Found out my 20,000th day of my life will be August 28th of this year. Seems preeeetttty important. It also happens to be my mom-in-law's birthday. Here's the calculator 20,000 Days
  5. I get to see the best sunrises driving my youngest to school.
I'm stopping there, for my actual check-in.
I had changed my goals to two simple things:

Write one scene a week Done! Yay!

Research one item a week (from list for manuscript) I didn't do this! And it surprises me, because, usually I'm all over research. So, I will do this today. 

I didn't realize how hard it would be to make actual changes--adding new scenes, etc. to my draft! It was easy to write: this is needed here, more description here, deeper POV etc. but to open the manuscript and start typing was something else entirely.

Inertia had won.

Now, it feels as if I've cracked through something--one thing Jennifer said was: the time is going to pass anyway, you may as well work on something. And I know this! I just didn't think about it in regards to my writing!

Small wins are still wins.

So, how are you doing? Any awesome things for you? Any small wins?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Just Happened?

So, if my goals had been to get my house sparkling and organized, groceries bought, some meals made and in the freezer and every bit of laundry done, I would have nailed them.

Yay! For my house and family
Boo...For my writing.

And, even though those things needed to be done, preeeetty sure it was resistance nudging me to do them. I was too busy to write, couldn't possibly sit down for a second, I had things to do!

Important things.
Things that have nothing to do with my dreams.

Well, that's not fair to my family. I love having a welcoming home, home-cooked meals (most of which are prepared by my husband) and organized closets--and I love doing these things for and with my family.

I also like being a well rounded, well read,  creative doer. And that's for my family too.
Because, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

I'm recommitting to my goals (re-wording them as well).

  • write one new scene a week
  • research one item a week (from list for WIP)

That's it. For writing. I have some other goals for other creative endeavors, but these will come first.
Hope everyone else is having a productive ROW!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


There is a moment of clarity as your car careens sideways across a street that is now a skating rink, right before it jack-rabbits up the curb scooping out snow and packing it in around itself:

Huh, you say to your brain, I have no control!

The next thought is...well, maybe we'll leave that one alone. Suffice it to say, no one was hurt, I met a lovely woman (whose yard my car landed in), I was not the first car in her back yard...nor the last, I had a nice chat (really!) with a city salt/plow driver, he was kind enough to take three passes with the salt truck on that crazy iced-up curve, and I got to stay in my car as the tow truck driver winched my car out and then dragged it out--it was fun. Really.

Life is like this.

And sometimes writing feels this way too. Which isn't altogether a bad thing. When we take our feet off the brakes of our imagination, brainstorms, first draft or fifth, we can end up in unexpected places!

Now, on to my check-in for ROW 80 

First basic pass on manuscript: complete 
Had to add this next step: 
Second pass, making extensive notes in notebook--which big scenes need to be added, what new research is needed, where to really deepen POV: more than halfway

What I'm loving the most about this process (a process I put off and off and off because I didn't know how to start) is I'm finally seeing the book and how it will/could look. I've been writing this book forever--constantly setting it in a corner for unruly behavior and then picking it back up again a year later. I love it that now I can see its potential.

Can't wait to see how everyone else is doing...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Row80 Goals and Check-In

Really boring title, sorry!

Haven't posted my goals, yikes!

short term:
Finish making notes for last 40 pages of manuscript
Should be done today!
long term:
Deep edits for entire manuscript:

1.Write new scenes--filling in holes and deepening plot
2.Heighten description--5 senses
3.Deepen POVs and or fix--get inside their head
4.Write 250 words a day and/or 1 hour of manuscript work a day

So, what's gonna help me get there?
I have examples of deep point of view (I literally need these as eyeball/brain receptor reminders) printed out.
Keep learning! Review notes from workshops, read etc.
Keep to my schedule (w/in reason)

Since I just posted my goals, my check-in is more how I came to ROW80 again. I haven't done ROW for a year--still saw the facebook updates, but didn't commit. I've declared 2013 as the year I publish, so...I thought, I can't just sit around and wait for it to fall in my lap--well, I could, but that would be sad.

Jumping in with both feet, recommitting to ROW80 as a participant and a sponsor!

How are you doing?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Okay, Okay, Okay.

2013 is absolutely the year I'm published. Got it? Good.

This is not so much a resolution as it is a realization--and the realization is:

If this is what you want to be doing, than why the hell are you not doing it? Every. Single. Day.



So here I am letting it be known that I am serious, so there. 2013. I am so not kidding.
I'll be joining the fab writers of A Round Of Words in 80 Days starting Monday January 7th, I didn't join in  the fun of ROW80 much last year, pretty half-assed--not this year though, this year I am in full-assed! I'll even be sponsoring this go around.
take the ROW 80 pledge here

I'll have my goals figured out next time, but for now, I'm very happy with the big one:

Published in 2013!