Mar 31, 2014

Macropterous Monday

macropterous ~ having large wings or fins

For those of you who missed Friday's post, scroll down! I finally launched An Elemental Water, Book III of the Ardraci Elementals. By scrolling down you will see my awesome cover (thank you Jamie!), and not only can you read the blurb that'll go on the back cover, I also posted an excerpt from the book itself.

My chicken tortellini soup turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. Actually, the hubby liked it more than I did, but he likes tortellini anything. :-)

After the full gamut of weather last week (snow, rain, wind, sun, bitter cold) we're supposed to settle in to above freezing temperatures and sun this week. I've heard this before so I'll believe it when I see it.

While I can't say that last week was totally bad, I will say I spend a lot of time on crochet therapy. I started a scrap afghan a couple of weeks ago to use up all the odds and ends of yarn left from various projects (like the catghan was supposed to be). This one is in just plain old granny squares so it's going fairly quickly. I'm going to alternate 12 inch squares with groups of four 6 inch squares. So far I have all of the big squares done and over half of the smaller ones. And I'm playing it smart this time - I'm tucking the ends in as I finish each square. Did I mention the large squares have five colours and the small ones three? I'll post a picture when I'm done. :-)

This week . . . I have one more read through on a story I'm editing before sending it back to its author. It's always so much more fun editing for other people than for myself. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that with someone else I'm only suggesting changes, while when I do it for myself I actually have to make the changes.

I had a couple of really good ideas to include in Lucky Dog, one of which will set up the ending so it's not so much of a cliff hanger, yet you'll want to read the next Moonstone Chronicle to find out what happens next. We haven't heard the last of Prince King Ewan, and he'll be getting his comeuppance.

One of these ideas included the possibility of one of the characters having their hands cut off, so when I was out for lunch with a writing friend who also happens to be a nurse, I was grilling her about how quickly someone would bleed out from something like that and different ways to ensure the person lived. We didn't start grossing out the people around us until we started discussing using maggots as a way to help keep the wounds clean (they'd eat the dead tissue). Then my friend grossed me out by describing the case of a woman with a severe head trauma who actually did end up with maggots in the wound. :-)

I read through a stand alone novel I'd like to finish . . . the first 150 pages were pretty good, the remaining 65 pages . . . not so much. The scary part is, it's already at over 70,000 words and there's a lot more that needs to be added.

I think we all need to keep our fingers crossed that winter is gone for good. Maybe bowing our heads and saying a little prayer couldn't hurt either. My little ducky friends are back and they have nowhere to swim. ;-)

Mar 28, 2014

Happy Launch Day!

I am pleased and proud to announce the release of An Elemental Water, book III of the Ardraci Elementals.

Yes, I know that I mentioned this in the post below, but that was my reading post and a book launch deserves a post of its own. So here it is. :-)

This book was almost two years in the making. It took 89 weeks to write it - one episode a week, serialized on my blog in draft form. Then the editing process took another few months. At one point I thought it would be the story that never ends. But here we are at last, and I like to think it was worth the wait.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

A secret lab.

A forbidden love.

An experiment out of control . . .

For Kairavini, the only life he's ever known has been within the walls of the compound; the only goal to be found a worthy participant in the Program. But all that changes the night he breaks into the records room seeking illicit information, and instead finds a guard named Taja, who teaches him the difference between breeding and making love.

Taja Windsinger is working undercover for the Ardraci Black Ops. Her mission is to gather intel on Dr. Uri Arjun so that his genetic experiments can be stopped and he can be brought to justice. Instead she finds Kairavini, the man she was destined to be with. But even if they can overcome her prejudices and his conditioning, there's still a perilous journey through an active volcano and a devastating tsunami to face. Can love truly conquer all?


Do you know what today is?

Shocked at the sound of his sister's voice in his head, Ravi stopped pacing. Of all the times she could have contacted him, this was the worst possible.

It's the anniversary of our birth, she continued. We were born nineteen years ago. I have been researching birth customs of other cultures and some celebrate this day every year. They call it a birth day.

A birth day? What a strange thing to celebrate. Birth is a natural biological function.
Ravi was just grateful that she didn't pick up on what was really on his mind.

Part of the celebration is the giving of gifts and the eating of cake. And you'll never guess what they put on the cake.

What do they put on the cake?
Ravi asked, humoring her.

Wax candles. They light the candles and the one who's birth day it is blows out the flames. Isn't that the oddest thing you've ever heard of?

I wonder why they do it.

I don't know. Perhaps their eyesight is very dim and they need the extra light to see.

But then why blow them out again?

A sigh filled his mind. I don't know.

She paused for so long he thought she'd wandered off, so when she spoke again he gave a start of surprise. You don't need to work so hard shielding your mind from me. I know what you'll be doing in a little while.

You do?
He wanted to sink right through the stone floor.

There's nothing to be embarrassed about, it's what we were bred to do. It's perfectly natural.

Ravi resumed his pacing. That's just the problem. I don't feel like it's natural at all. It's unnatural for two people who've never met to do something so intimate together. At least it looks pretty intimate - you do it without any clothing, and there's naked flesh touching naked flesh, and--


He winced as Nereida's mind-voice cut him off in mid-babble.

You have to move past this, Ravi. I've never heard of anyone refusing to do their duty but I'm sure the punishment would be terrible.

I'm not intending to refuse,
he replied. I just wish I could get it over with.

If you don't relax, you may not be able to do your duty.

Oh, thank you, that makes me feel so much better.

I'm serious Ravi, you have to relax. It's not as bad as you're making it out to be.

And how would you know?

The voice in his mind went silent. Ravi stopped pacing again.

We're nineteen years old, you said. The breeding age for females was lowered to eighteen. You've already done this, haven't you?

Still, Nereida was silent.

If it's not so bad, then why didn't you tell me?

*~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

You can get your copy for the introductory price of $1.99. This price is only good until the end of April, so pick your copy up today at one of the following locations:
Brazen Snake Books

What I'm Reading

I actually did make a bit more of an effort to squeeze some reading in last week. It was still a little bit here and there, but I'm making progress. :-)

Electronic Books

The electronic reading was kind of a bust. I did not fire up George even once last week. I'm sorry George! I promise I'll do better next week, really I will. :-)

So . . . there was no progress on The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian, or Mr. Love by Sally Mason, or Dark Love by Claudy Conn.

I did manage to download a few more free books though.

For those of you on a limited (or like me, non-existent) budget, I highly recommend Pixel of Ink where they feature a daily selection of free or bargain books from Amazon.

Tree Books

I finished The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance and it's made me very sad because I want to read more time travel romance. :-( Twenty stories and each one very different, which is a feat in itself. There were a couple of them I'm sure I've read elsewhere, but that's not surprising in a book this size. If you like time travel and you like romance, go buy this book. You won't be disappointed.

I didn't get back to Hunting the Corrigan's Blood by Holly Lisle. Actually, I seem to have misplaced it. I'm sure it's in one of my stacks of books somewhere, I just have to find it. :-)


And I finished Sword and Sorceress III. Again, this makes me sad. But at least with this one being a series of anthologies I can start reading Sword and Sorceress IV next.

Shameless Plug

Woot! *throws confetti in the air* I'm pleased to announce that after two years in the making, An Elemental Water, Book III of the Ardraci Elementals, is now available for sale!

You may purchase it from Smashwords right now, and later today it will be available through other e-distributers as well. Remember, I write these posts the night before and the other links were not available at the time. In fact, if you're reading this message then you're an early bird. I'll be deleting this once the other links go live. ;-)

At any rate, the introduction price for the e-book is $1.99, but only until the end of April. On May 1 the price will go up to $2.99.

Mar 26, 2014

Wildcard Wednesday
What’s Your Point of View?

Previous articles in this series: Finding Ideas; Finding Time; Pantser Vs. Plotter; Chacters;

We're making progress! You have your idea, or at least a few suggestions on where to find one, you've carved out the time to write, you've figured out whether you're a pantser or a plotter, and you've created at least one character to tell your story. Now you have to decide what point of view, or POV, you want to write from.

"Writers are gods. We get to create entire worlds, populate them, and even, as in some sort of novelistic Götterdämmerung, destroy them. Of course, writers can do this in any viewpoint, but omniscient point of view adds another layer to the process." - Nancy Kress

Point of view (POV) is the position from which the story is presented, the way the author allows the reader to "see" and "hear" what's going on. It determines the amount and kind of information the reader will be given. It is the lens through which the reader can see the world of the novel they’re reading.

First Person POV

First person point of view is probably the most natural voice to use because you use it all the time in your everyday life. Whenever you tell somebody about something that happened to you, you use the "I" of the first person.

The advantage of this point of view is that you get to hear the thoughts of the narrator and see the world of the story through his or her eyes. However, as readers, we share all the limitations of the narrator. We can only see and hear what they experience.

The narrator of a first-person story is a character within the story and therefore limited in understanding. He or she might be an observer who happens to see the events of the story, a minor character in the action, or even a protagonist.

While I quite enjoy a story written in the first person, I feel it makes the story more immediate, there are a lot of readers out there who feel otherwise. I don't know why this is, but I know people who don't care how good the book is or who's written it, they will not buy it if it's written in first person.

Second Person POV

Second person POV is the most difficult POV to write from and is seldom used. In this POV the author speaks directly to the reader using “you”. In essence, the author invents a fictional character and then invites the reader to become that character.

Here’s an illustration:
You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy. You are at a nightclub talking to a girl with a shaved head. From Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney.

The author who uses this POV has made a daring choice, probably with a specific purpose in mind. Second person POV is meant to draw the reader into the story, almost making the reader a participant in the action.

Just as there are those who don't enjoy first person, I tend to avoid stories written in the second person POV. They just seem a little off to me. There was a story I read many years ago called Joni, it was in a science fiction/fantasy anthology and I can't for the life of me remember who wrote it, nor can I remember the name of the anthology, but the story stuck with me because I found the POV off-putting.

Third Person POV

Third-person point of view has the reader looking through a window at the story. The author uses "he," "she," or "it” and is narrating the story. There are three types of third person POV: omniscient, limited omniscient, and dramatic.

In the omniscient POV the narrator can home-in on a scene and on the viewpoint character in particular, showing us the events through the character's eyes and letting us hear their thoughts. We are told everything about the story, including the thoughts and feelings of all the characters, and even information that none of the characters know.

In limited omniscient, we are told the thoughts and feelings of only one character (rarely more than two characters). We do not know what is in the minds of other characters.

With the dramatic POV, we are told only what happens and what is said; we do not know any thoughts or feelings of the characters. It is called "dramatic" because it includes the words and actions, just as though you were observing a play or film.

Epistolary POV

In epistolary novels, the entire story is told in the form of letters, written from one or more of the characters to other characters. Their greatest strength is the strong sense of realism that they create.

These days letters have unfortunately gone out of fashion - both in the real world and in fiction - but it is possible to put a modern twist on the concept by substituting e-mails, or even text messages for letters.

So Which POV Is Best?

Most fiction writing comes down to two choices for POV: first and third. The chances are that you could write two versions of a novel - one in first person, the other in third person - and both would turn out fine, just differently. I have even read novels using both points of view, but these were by well established authors. Check out Charles de Lint or Maeve Binchy for examples of these.

If you’re not sure what POV to use, try them all. If it works, it works. And if it doesn't, you can always reshape it into a more traditional form later. The great thing about writing a novel is you can always change your mind.

For more help with this, try the following links:
What Point of View Should You Use, by Writer's Digest
Point of View, by About dot com
First, Second, and Third Person, by Grammar Girl
Two Heads Aren't Always Better Than One, by Robert J. Sawyer

Mar 24, 2014

Muscicapine Monday

muscicapine ~ of, like or pertaining to flycatchers and related birds

So . . . it's late Sunday night as I'm writing this, and I gotta say I'm not feeling at all well. And the worst part is, I'm pretty sure this is a self-inflicted illness.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll know that I've been trying to eat healthier the last few months. One of the down sides of healthier eating is that your body can no longer handle it when you eat crap - as I did tonight. I indulged in a bowlful of this generic party mix, and my stomach is rebelling. Serves me right. ;-)

But I've also got something sinus-y going on, and that does not serve me right. I think the super-mega-death-cold-from-hell is trying to make a come back and I want nothing to do with it.

Spring has finally sprung . . . or so they tell me. There's still a lot of snow on the ground and Saturday morning I woke up to a winter wonderland again. The sun melted it away over the course of the day, but still . . .

I finally had my "writing away from home" day. A friend and I took our lap tops to McDonalds for lunch. It wasn't the best venue or time of day for writing, but I did manage to get some words in, so it's all good. :-)

This week is supposed to be sunny, for the most part, although still cold, and I'm going to try walking to the coffee shop to get some writing in.

I was actually at the coffee shop Thursday night for a poetry reading. One of the poets had a double bass playing in the background and it was really cool. It put me in mind of the Beat scene of the 50's and 60's (at least what I've seen of them in old movies), and I had to suppress the urge to snap my fingers at the end.

I got the baby quilt I was working on for my daughter's friend finished, but I forgot to take a picture of it. It's a shame really because it turned out really nice and there's not one machine stitch on it. I also finished a couple of 12 inch squares and one 6 inch square on the scrap afghan I'm crocheting, and even managed to get some reading in.

This week my main focus will be the final polish to An Elemental Water. If you haven't seen the cover Jamie DeBree did for me, then just scroll down a bit for Friday's post. It's there towards the end. Didn't she do an amazing job? She's a woman of many talents. :-)

The hubby's on board with the whole healthier eating thing, so once a week we've been having homemade soup for supper. There's some debate about this just being an excuse to have homemade bread to go with it, but it's still a darn sight better for us than say fish and chips. In any case, I don't make a habit of sharing recipes usually, but this one is too good to keep to myself:

Slow Cooker Ground Beef Lasagna Soup
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
10 3/4 oz. tomato soup, canned, condensed
14.5 oz. tomatoes, canned, petite diced
15 oz. tomato sauce, canned
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 beef bouillon cubes
4 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. parsley
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 oz. Ricotta Cheese
8 uncooked lasagna noodles, broken into small pieces
12 oz. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Combine onions, tomato soup, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and place in the slow cooker. Add all of the spices and bouillon cubes. Add water and spread your broken uncooked lasagna noodle pieces all around. Crumble raw ground beef over top.
Cover. Cook on Low for 7-8 hours or on High for 4-5 hours.
Approximately half hour or so before done, stir in the Ricotta cheese.
Serve with shredded Mozzarella Cheese on top and savor the taste!

Trust me, it is absolutely yummy!

This week I'm experimenting with a tortellini chicken soup. I'll let you know how it turns out. ;-)

Mar 21, 2014

What I'm Reading

I actually did make a bit more of an effort to squeeze some reading in last week. It was more a little bit here and there, but it was still better than I've been doing lately. :-)

Electronic Books

I did managed to read a bit more of The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian. It would have been more but I had to go do something else and never got back to it.

Did not get back to Mr. Love by Sally Mason, but I read a little bit more of Dark Love by Claudy Conn while I was waiting for a poetry reading to start. I'm still not very far into it, but I like what I've read so far.

And oops! I was mistaken last week when I said Hidden Gems, by Deborah Lean wasn't available yet. It's been out for a while, so go click on the link to get your copy today.

Tree Books

I'm about halfway through The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance. A couple of the stories seemed a little familiar to me, but with the number of anthologies I have, it's not surprising it included stories that are featured elsewhere.

I also read another couple of chapters of Hunting the Corrigan's Blood by Holly Lisle. Not only is it science fiction, it's a crime drama/mystery as well. The best of both worlds.


I'm just about finished with Sword and Sorceress III and not a bad story in the bunch, which is nothing less than I expect from a series edited by the late Marion Zimmer Bradley. While it's sad I'm close to being done, I'm happy I'll be able to start the next one in the series soon. :-)

Shameless Plug

Drumroll please . . . I'm happy to announce that An Elemental Water , Book III of the Ardraci Elementals series will be coming soon to an e-store near you. Just waiting for my editor/proof reader to get back to me before I make the final changes. Of course it might help her move faster if I wasn't making her do the cover for it too. Want a peak? Here it is:

Awesome, isn't it? She's a woman of many talents. :-)

Mar 19, 2014

Wildcard Wednesday
Characterize This!

Previous articles in this series: Finding Ideas; Finding Time; Pantser Vs. Plotter

So . . . you have an idea, you've carved out the time to write, and you've figured out whether you're a pantser or a plotter. The next step in our Wildcard series about writing is character.

No matter how good your story idea might be, you’re not going to get very far without a character, preferably a strong one (maybe more), to implement it. What’s interesting in a story is only interesting because we care about the characters and what happens to them. We want to follow their lives as events unfold.

I try to build a full personality for each of our cartoon characters - to make them personalities.
~ Walt Disney

A flat, or two-dimensional character is defined by a single quality without much individualizing detail. A round character is a complex individual that is not easily defined. It is the flat character whom you must avoid at all costs.

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.
~ Ernest Hemingway

Characters’ lives, just like our own, are multi-facetted with a wealth of detail. You, as the writer, must select the details that reveal the greatest possible information about the character, and details that have the greatest possible connection between the characters’ lives and the readers’.

Every human being has hundreds of separate people living under his skin. The talent of a writer is his ability to give them their separate names, identities, personalities and have them relate to other characters living with him.
~ Mel Brooks

It is the connection the reader feels with the characters in your story that is going to keep them reading. They need to know what happens next. They need to care about what happens to your characters.

If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats.
~ Richard Bach

Place your character on a path with something at stake, with something to do, to achieve, to learn and to change. Put obstacles in his path to make the journey interesting. These obstacles could be physical or they might be psychological. He not only needs a goal, he needs something that might prevent him from attaining that goal.

I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.
~ Tennessee Williams

Readers love a vulnerable hero who must overcome his own weaknesses and temptations; one who comes to realize that they’re sorry, they’re penitent, they’re full of remorse, at least in the context of the story at hand. This is something the reader can empathize with. We’re all human, we’ve all been there.

I start drawing, and eventually the characters involve themselves in a situation. Then in the end, I go back and try to cut out most of the preachments.
~ Theodor Geisel

Your goal as a writer is to create a character that manipulates the reader's empathy to the point where the reader forgets the character is fictional. Once you reach this stage, don't be surprised if the character appears to take on a life of his own. By all means, give your characters all the freedom they need to be believable, but don't let them take over to the point where they compromise the story line. A good tale is a balance between story and character.

The more gifted and talkative one's characters are, the greater the chances of their resembling the author in tone or tint of mind.
~ Vladimir Nabokov

For more insights into creating characters, try one of the following links:
Characterization series, from StoryFix
Creating Fictional Characters, from Novel-Writing-Help
Characterization 101 - How to Create Memorable Characters
Creating an Original Character, from the Fantasy Art Resource Project

Mar 17, 2014

Murdrum Monday

murdrum ~ killing of a human being in a secret manner

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Are you wearing green today? I most certainly am. :-)

St. Paddy's Day has always been one of my favourite holidays. Maybe it has something to do with all that green after the bleakness of winter. To help celebrate, I've posted a short story I wrote a while back about a leprechaun. You can find it HERE.

It was a pretty mediocre week last week, but it took a real nose dive towards the end. My mood just tanked, and all I wanted to do was nap.

I'm sure a lot of it had to do with the weather - it's been up and down like a yo-yo. We had one absolutely gorgeous day where I didn't even put a coat on to take the recycling out, and the next day the temperature had dropped, the wind picked up, and it was snowing like crazy. Some days it just doesn't pay to chew through the restraints. ;-)

I'm more determined than ever to find a place away from home to write a couple of times a week, so I did a little scouting around. One place I overlooked previously was our local mall . . . or what's left of it.

Target took over Zellers, which was one of the anchor stores, and opted to close it down. Not only did we lose a great department store, we lost the only place left to eat in the mall (no, I do not count the "ready-to-go" counter in the grocery store at the other end of the mall as a place to eat). Even the coffee shop is no longer there. Which makes me wonder why they have so many wonderful little seating areas scattered throughout the mall.

There are comfy chairs grouped around coffee tables, as well as tables with the chairs attached to them like you'd find in a food court. Lots of seating to choose from. It's much quieter than say, McDonalds, because let's face it, it's a small mall and there's a lot of empty store fronts. There are nice, clean washrooms, although I'd have to bring a thermos of tea and a lunch if I was staying for any length of time.

It's something to consider. The bonus when the weather becomes hot and sticky in the summer will be that it's fully air conditioned too.

But it was the weekend that has me believing that March just isn't my month. First there was the baby blanket I've been knitting. It's about sixteen inches in length, and the pattern is off by extra stitches. Again. So . . . the baby it was for will be getting a quilt instead.

Yesterday I got all domestic and started a batch of shamrock cookies, and couldn't find my cookie cutter. Then I decided to do some vacuuming and the hose on the vacuum cleaner fell off. And THEN, I'd forgotten to take the ham we were having for supper out of the freezer, so I tried microwaving it for about 15-20 minutes first. The casserole dish it was in was piping hot and it was well done on the top, but I still couldn't get the carving fork through it because it was still frozen inside.

Definitely not one of my better weeks. This week can only be better, right? *knock wood*

Only three days left until spring!

Mar 14, 2014

What I'm Reading

My reading for last week started out strong, but then kind of fizzled out. I keep saying I'm going to start making more time to read . . . one of these days I might actually do it. :-)

Electronic Books

Did not get back to The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian, nor Mr. Love by Sally Mason, nor Dark Love by Claudy Conn.

In fact, the only time I turned George on was to load my copy of Jasmine Betrayal, by Jamie DeBree onto him.

That's not to say I didn't do any electronic reading last week, just not on my Kindle. I read Hidden Gems and Hiding From the Night, by my friend Deborah Lean in e-form on my lap top. They're both crime drama/mysteries with a dash of romance thrown in. To be perfectly honest, crime drama is not in my top ten list of things to read, but these both were great reads. I might have to revisit my list.

And in case you were wondering, the reason there are no links for them is because they're not published yet. But trust me, as soon as they're available, I'll let you know. ;-)

Tree Books

Still haven't got back into The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance yet, which is odd because I really like both anthologies and time travel romance.

I did, however, read another couple of chapters of Hunting the Corrigan's Blood by Holly Lisle. It's been a while since I read any science fiction and it's a nice change.


I'm about three quarters of the way through Sword and Sorceress III and still thoroughly enjoying it. The last story I read was by Mercedes Lackey, and was the first story in the Tarma and Kethry series, one of my favourites.

A friend of mine gave me a bag of books yesterday and I've added them to the pile. I really do have to start reading more. The unread pile is going to start rivaling the read pile soon!

Mar 12, 2014

Wildcard Wednesday
Outlines and Pantsers and Plots, Oh My!

Previous articles in this series: Finding Ideas; Finding Time;

You’ve got your idea and you've figured out where to find the time to write; now you need to decide whether you’re a plotter or a pantser.

Some writers come up with their idea and simply sit down and start writing. They have no idea what’s going to happen until they write it. These writers, who write by the seat of their pants, are known as “Pantsers.”

Being a pantser allows you far greater creative expression. If you don’t know where the plot is going, then the reader won’t either, which can result in an exciting story. It’s more interesting to work on the story and you’re able to push through to the end easily.

The downside of being a pantser is revisions. Plot holes and inconsistencies are harder to fix because the bulk of the novel has already been written. Revisions can become tedious and problematic.

On the other side of the coin we have writers who outline, or plot, their entire novel before getting down to the serious business of writing. They have detailed character sketches and reams of notes and know exactly where the story is going – it’s right there in front of them on paper. These writers are called “Plotters.”

Because plotters write detailed outlines before fleshing out their writing, they can often catch, and correct, inconsistencies and plot holes before they start writing. It’s certainly easier to make changes to an outline than to the finished novel. Many plotters depend on the outline to control the pacing, action, and suspense of their story. Scenes can be switched, or added, or deleted with ease. Another benefit is the outline can be used to help write the synopsis when the novel is finished.

The downside of being a plotter is that it can hamper the creativity and enjoyment of writing. The middle of the novel can bring on a decrease of motivation. You can start to lose interest because there’s nothing surprising about it. Being restricted by a specific series of events can be intimidating.

An outline is basically a blueprint of what’s going to happen in your story. For plotters, there are many methods of outlining to choose from.

Point-Form – Write down a point form list of everything you want to have happen in your novel. Once you’ve finished, go through and assign a priority number so you know what order they should be in.

Index Cards – Colour coded index cards are a great way to keep track of your characters and what their motivations are. Jot down brief descriptions of your scenes and keep adding cards until you can’t think of any more. Organize your cards in the order you want the scenes to occur in.

Post-It – Write your scenes on Post-It Notes and stick them to a piece of Bristol board or even your wall. You can change the order, add, or remove them. Colour code them so that each kind of scene has a different colour. This way you’ll know at a glance if you have too much or too little action, description, or suspense.

Spreadsheets – A spreadsheet can hold a vast amount of information. You can list all your characters and their information; make notes about plot points; and move scenes around with ease. If you want to use a lot of detail, you can even do a spreadsheet for each chapter.

“W” Folder – For this you need a file folder and a pen. Open the folder up and write a giant W on it, with one V on each side of the fold. Your story starts at the top of the first V and your initial crisis at the bottom. The middle point is where some of the problems may be resolved. The bottom of the second V is where the darkest crisis takes place and the top of the last leg is the resolution. Notes and other scenes can be penciled in between.

For more information, try checking out one of these links:

The Snowflake Method
Writer's Digest Novel Idea Summary Sheet
Novel Outlining 101, by Lynn Viehl
Plot Diagram
Outline Your Novel in 30 Minutes, by Alicia Rasley

Mar 10, 2014

Monogoneutic Monday

monogoneutic ~ having only a single brood or litter

I had a busy week last week. That's not to say I got a lot done, I was just busy. ;-)

Monday was kind of a lost day. I was feeling a little off so I picked up the book I'd started on the weekend and didn't put it down again until I was done. Tuesday we had a blizzard and I spent the afternoon helping a friend set up her new lap top. I have to say I don't think much of Windows 8, although I'm sure it's something I could get used to with time. Fortunately, it's my friend who needs to get used to it, not me. :-)

Wednesday I drove the kid to Oakville for a job interview. Thursday I got lots of work done in my office. I've gone through some sort of weird transition where I'm getting my best writing done in the mornings instead of the afternoon or evening, so I've been starting to get up a little earlier. Friday the kid and I were off to Newmarket for another interview, but this time the wait was going to be considerably longer so we made a pit stop in Bowmanville to pick up a friend for me to hang out with.

The weekend was mostly domestic stuff - nothing too exciting, although I did make a lemon cheesecake on Sunday that is to die for. I've never tried lemon in a cheesecake before, and I must say I'll be trying it again. I think it's my new favourite. Definitely lighter tasting than my old stand by, peanut butter cheesecake.

I'd really like at least a couple of days this week to be a repeat of Thursday, as in getting lots of work done. This might be a good week to try writing in the coffee shop - I don't really have anything else on the go or any place else I need to be.

The weather's been kind of up and down lately - one day mild, the next day cold, one day sunny, the next overcast - and this week looks like it'll be more of the same. Aside from not knowing from one day to the next what to wear, this kind of weather gives me headaches. I had to restock my Advil.

Only ten days left until spring!

Mar 7, 2014

What I'm Reading

Remember how last week I said it was feast or famine with me? Well Monday was certainly a feast day.

Once again I was idly checking out the books in the bookcase in the guest room and I came across an old favourite, Merlin's Keep by Madeleine Brent. I read a couple of chapters on the weekend, and then Monday I plunked myself down in my chair and didn't stop reading until it was done. It's one of those books that's hard to categorize - part historical, part adventure . . . with a dash of romance and a hint of the occult.

Electronic Books

Read another chapter of The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian, which is not as much as I would have liked, but it's better than nothing.

I have not yet returned to Mr. Love by Sally Mason - maybe this week.

I had some time on my hands while I was waiting for my daughter who was on a job interview, so I read an erotic short story on my Kindle that I can't remember the name of and promptly lost when I went out of it. *sigh* And then I started reading Dark Love by Claudy Conn. It's free on Amazon right now if you want to check it out yourself.

Tree Books

It was out of sight, out of mind as far as The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance - Twenty Stories of Timeless True Love went. I was reading it at lunch one day and left it on the table, and then it got gathered up with some other stuff and I forgot all about it.

The same can't be said for Hunting the Corrigan's Blood by Holly Lisle. This one I just never got back to for some reason.


I'm over halfway through Sword and Sorceress III and thoroughly enjoying it. Every story so far has been a winner, which you don't usually find in an anthology.

Shameless Plugs

Be sure to check out this new release from my friend Jamie DeBree, Jasmine Betrayal, part of her BeauTEAful Summer series.

Genevieve Morano owes just fifty dollars to the leinholder of the diner her father left her. It seems like a paltry amount, but when a strange northerner shows up late one night, she realizes the situation is much more complex, and she'll have to rely on the handsome yet secretive stranger if she wants to survive.

Max Westlake owes Pete Morano, and the only way he can pay it off after Pete's death is to protect Pete's daughter from the man hell-bent on taking her inheritance away. But when she finds out why he's working so hard to help her, the betrayal might just be too much for her to forgive...

It's got action, it's got suspense, it's got sizzling romance. What more could you ask for? Get your copy today!

Mar 5, 2014

Wildcard Wednesday
If I Could Save Time In A Bottle . . .

Previous articles in this series: Finding Ideas

Last week we explored where to find ideas to jump-start your writing, now we need to find the time to write. Time is limited, and for most people, the demands on their time are unlimited. Even when there’s not a day job, there are still friends and family and numerous other obligations vying for your attention.

If you have a lot of demands on your time, it’s actually helpful to establish a regular time each day to write. Get up early and write before anyone else is up, take a notepad with you to lunch, or stop off at a coffee shop on your way home from work. Students often have time on their hands between classes. Stay-at-home parents can write during nap time. Your schedule may evolve as your life changes, but most people get more done if they have a regular writing time.

Find the best time of day for you to write. It’s a combination of when you are most alert and when you have free time. Pick that time and write. Shut off distractions. Don’t answer the phone, don’t come to the door. For as little or as much time as you are writing, do only that.

Take a look at your life and see where all your time is going. Cut back on some of the less important tasks or, if you have a family, start delegating. Watch two hours of TV instead of four. Go out twice a week instead of every night. Decide that you aren’t going to bring your work home. Make some sacrifices. Decide that your writing is worth it.

Most people don’t make writing a high enough priority. They intend to write, but end up running errands or whatever. These activities are nothing more than excuses not to write. Turn that around. Make writing an excuse not to do other things.

While it’s important to write every day, don't let yourself become obsessed in the beginning, especially if you’re the kind of person who tends to throw themselves into new projects only have their interest wane after a few weeks. Write for your hour or two and then continue with your daily routine. Remember that you're in it for the long haul. Your mind needs time to replenish itself so don’t be afraid to take the occasional break.

Support yourself in as many ways as possible. Writing isn’t easy. Books on writing can help, as does having a specific place to write. Join a writer’s group or on-line writer’s community. Associating with a few people who share your interests and struggles helps motivate and sustain you.

Writing is not for everyone. You may want to write, but maybe the desire isn’t enough to keep you from doing more entertaining or pressing activities. If you keep trying, and failing, to make the time to write, then maybe writing’s not for you. Don’t feel guilty about letting it go, perhaps it will become more meaningful to you at another point in your life. When it is important enough to you to make some sacrifices, you’ll be able to make them. Until then, adjust to the fact that writing is something you like, but not necessarily enough to be a writer.

If you're still feeling the time crunch, you might find one of the following articles useful:
Finding Time to Write, by Moira Allen
Five Tips for Finding Writing Time, by Michael Stelzner
Finding Time to Write
How To Find Time to Write, by Melissa Tydell
4 Tips For Making Time to Write, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

And now I'll leave you with a little inspiration. :-D

Mar 3, 2014

Microcalorimeter Monday

microcalorimeter ~ instrument for measuring tiny quantities of heat

You know, as much as I take real pride in being a true winter's child, enough is enough. I'm tired of the cold and snow. Spring can come any time now - really it can. We're back in the sub-zero temperatures and we got more snow over the weekend.

This prolonged winter is making me tired and cranky, and I'm running low on extra strength Advil for my headaches. Someone was telling me that it's not supposed to start warming up until the end of April, but I refuse to believe it.

But at least the kid will be nice and warm - I finally finished her afghan.

I also finally finished a couple of sewing projects that have been hanging over my head. Nice to get them out of the way. And I decided it's not the sewing I dislike so much, it's my sewing machine. I think it senses my dislike and that's why it acts up so much. And just when I thought it was safe to put it away for awhile, I got a request for a baby quilt. The baby was born last week so it'll be a rush job on the quilt.

The kid's appointment in Oakville was put off until this week, but the good news is that I don't have to get up at the crack of dark to take her. This one is an afternoon appointment. And she has another one on Friday, but this one is close to where a friend of mine lives so I can sneak in a visit while I wait. Good stuff.

Jeez, I'm thinking back to last week and what I did, and nothing's coming to mind. I only did what writing I had to for blog posting, and you may have noticed I was pretty late with the chapter for Earth again. I did edit a story, but not my own . . . The afghan didn't take me all week to finish, it was done by Wednesday or Thursday . . .

Thursday I went out for lunch with a friend and then afterwards I helped her pick out a new lap top. It's always fun spending other people's money. This week I'm going to help her set it up and then we talked about parking our butts in a local coffee shop once a week to write to see if that helps motivate us - she's hitting a bit of a dry spell too.

Now that I've got all those non-writing projects out of the way, I'm really hoping I'll find a little more energy for the writing projects.

And I can take heart in the fact that there's only seventeen days left until spring!