Hook ‘Em and Hang ‘Em

Thanks again to everyone who came to my panel at the League of Utah Writers conference today. I hope you all make great beginnings and endings and get those books sold!

Here is a link to the PowerPoint I had up on the screen. Feel free to ask me any questions as you go along. Remember, odds are you’ve already written a great beginning line. You just may need to dig down in your paragraphs a little.

Hook ‘Em PowerPoint

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What’s Up Wednesday: Sep 5

Oh hi blog world!

So I’m a bit out of practice when it comes to this whole blogging thing. But here’s what I’ve been up to since we last spoke:

1. Still not dead. Yep, alive and kicking

2. I finished a major rewrite of a YA Thriller that takes place in Tokyo. My writer’s group’s frequent feedback was it wasn’t following enough of a thriller track and after some hard looks I had to agree with them. So I pondered and pondered for months. Part of my process is basic outlining, because then I know where the paths lead and if that’s the path I want to take or not. I feel like it’s a combo between plotting and pantsing.

It didn’t turn out exactly the way I had thought, which was fun. And I ended up creating a new character because of it, but I think it made sense. Plus I seem to have a habit of creating characters and then not really using them, but in this draft I brought an underutilized character to the forefront. I understand the appeal in imagining you can get it right the first time, but when you realize that writing is a journey and rewrites are going to happen if you want a good story, you sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Well, okay, most of it. There are those moments where you want to pull your hair out because the rewrite still needs some tweaks. But overall, worthwhile.

3. Finished a short article for a magazine. Another writer friend of mine said she thought it was the best thing I’d ever written. I’m going to submit it to the magazine this week and see what happens. Fingers crossed. And of course I’ll keep you updated.

4. The hubs and I are trying something called My Miracle Tea which is supposed to be like a major detoxifier. What does that mean? You get to poop, a lot. But it’s supposed to help with your liver and kidneys which, if too junked up, may contribute to stomach weight gain. We both feel like our stomachs could use a little extra help. I’ll let you know more about that as we go along. Why did I even get on this tea in the first place?

5. Foot zoning! It sounds like witch doctoring, but I feel like it’s legit. What is it? Someone gives you what is likely the most painful foot massage of your life and is able to tell you what’s going on in your body. I might still be skeptical of that much, except she knew stuff I hadn’t even mentioned. But to add to that, I also went to see a hormone specialist and they pointed out and recommended the same things.

Now granted, I’ve only been one time, so I can’t attest to the validity of all of it. But the friend who recommended me has personal stories of migraines going away after drinking teas this lady recommended, as well as discovering the lactose intolerance of a kid that doctors hadn’t pointed to. You can still skeptic away if you want, but I’m keeping an open mind after hearing and experiencing all of that. Besides, I’m more of the homeopathic mind when it comes to health these days.

That is NOT to say I think all pharma is bad. Some people really do need the medications they are on. Are we overprescribed in general? I think so. But does that mean all pharma is bad. Nope.

And that about covers it. I’m letting the rewrite of item 2 get cold before editing it. So in the meantime I’m kicking around another idea. I don’t know if you’d call it urban fantasy. Or steampunk futuristic, but it’s more of a middle grade story. And it’s weird. But I’m really liking it.

Okay, that’s what’s up with me? What’s up with you?

Not Dead!

Hello blog world! As it turns out I wasn’t face down in a ditch. Or dragged into the sewers with IT. Or blew a secret ninja mission and ended up in North Korean prison.

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Yeah, glad I’m not there.

No folks, I’m alive and kicking. But it has been a busy (glances at the last post entry date) uh, yikes, three years. Really?! Three years? Sheesh. Okay, so yeah, a lot going on.

What Have I Been Up To?

Welp, a lot, actually. Let’s see, 2015. Wasn’t the best of years. But it did end on a higher note. My sweet mom was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2010. The decline was steady, but tolerable. But from about Christmas 2014 to June 2015 things really took a nosedive into bad.

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Mom in her twenties

I know there are a lot of strong feelings about this subject, but after she grew really bad we decided to put her in a care facility. I used to judge people who seemingly “dumped” relatives into facilities, but now I definitely don’t. It’s a painful decision, but often it can be the right one. My dad, as the caretaker, was looking worse and worse and his health instantly improved once we moved her. Plus, she didn’t look at him as the warden, but as her husband again.

From there things got progressively worse until she fell and broke her hip and it only took a few days from there until she passed. A line from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events came to mind over the next several weeks:

If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels; and if you haven’t, you cannot possibly imagine it.

How true that is. I’d lost friends and grandparents, but never someone seemingly before their time who was that close to me. The only thing that kept me going, and keeps me going, is knowing she’s not suffering. Do I wish she was still here? Absolutely! But would I bring her back in that state? Absolutely not. I can’t say after three years that it doesn’t still hurt, but it does get a little easier to bear.

Along with this I had a cyst I wasn’t sure whether it was cancerous (it wasn’t, thankfully), lost my job, and endured several months of unemployment.

BUT! My Dad and I were going to be the only ones around for Christmas and rather than sit at home missing my mom, we thought we’d do something amazing. We headed out to New York City. I’d been several times before. My dad went once when he was 18, but that was a looooong time ago, so some of the city felt new to him. And we had a blast. Plus the weather was unusually warm, so we didn’t have to trudge through the infamous New York slush.

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Rockefeller Plaza was PACKED! But worth it.

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Row80 January 21st

Okay, finally back in the game. Seriously, I can say thanks enough to Row80 for existing to keep me on task for accomplishing things. I think I would fall into super lazy mode otherwise. I think it’s just this time of the year. Too cold to ride my bike and skiing is snow dependent. 😉

THE GOALS

I haven’t yet stated my Row80 goals, so here they be, whether overly ambitious or not, I’m still gonna give it a go.

Outline the rest of Codename Clemmings. I need to turn this novelette into a novel. I think it has great potential, but originally I only saw it as a novelette, so it’s been doing nothing after 5 chapters. I’ve had some vague ideas, but I haven’t really put in the effort. Time to make it so.

Finish “The Fire in Fiction” and read two fiction books.  I don’t know why TFIF just wasn’t happening for me, but that’s what another Row80 is for. I also have a few unread books on my Kindle for the fiction option I should be able to cram in. Last time I got three fiction books in with a goal of one, so certainly I can make two.

Write Codename Clemmings. I want to get a first draft off. Preferably a semi-edited draft, but a full draft in some form. I think this is possible considering I’ve already got the first 5 chapters and this is a YA.

Do writing exercises at least once a week. I got a few writing exercises from a forum at a conference and I believe they’ve already strengthened my writing with what little I’ve used them. I want every story I write to be even better than the last one and I want my skill to continuously improve. I never want to become one of those writers that gets lazy just because they’ve made it. I want my readers to keep coming back because they know I’m putting in my best efforts for them and for it to show. That takes practice. So writing exercises. Once a week. Yep.

BONUS GOALS: # 1 Get five chapters in to my Codename BFF project. If I’m hoping to accomplish the above goals, this may not be possible, but that’s why they’re BONUS goals. 😉

#2 Plot out a screenplay. This is really shooting for the moon here, but just a plot session might be possible. I did major in film in school and this short series project keeps coming to my mind. Plus I have friends in the independent biz and if it turns out clever I might be able to get them interested. But can’t do any of that without getting the idea out first, right?

Okay, go ambition, go! Still, remembering what I accomplished last session I think many of these things are possible. How are you coming on your goals already? Or have you also just started with new ones?