Summer Grillin’

Tofu GrillinLast fall, for hubby’s birthday, I bought him a grill. We moved into our house last August, so this is the first time we’ve been able to have a grill. And this summer that thing has paid off. We used it last night, when my in-laws came over for a cookout, and tonight we’re making teriyaki tofu and vegetable kabobs.

It’s just one of the many things that has changed since we became homeowners. We lived in our apartment for eight years and never grilled once, although there were a few grills and picnic areas in our complex. Now, we grill at least once a week. I think this might be the third time this week, actually.

Do you grill? If so, what are some of your favorite things to make?

ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Wrote 6,187 words in White Wolf, Red Cloak, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. That one is finished and I’m about to send it to my critique partners. I’m a little behind on where I want to be in terms of weekly word counts, but I’m still finishing projects, so that’s something.

Reading: Read Her Wicked Wolf by Kendra Leigh Castle, which was fantastic, and am currently reading A Little Night Muse by Jessa Slade, which I’m enjoying so far.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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In which I embrace my night-owl nature

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve started writing at night. I used to write in the afternoon, and I was managing somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 words a day. Not bad. But I wanted to aim higher.

Since I’m naturally a night person, and since I can’t fall asleep until 3 a.m. anyway, I decided to make better use of my time and try writing during those hours. Instead of, you know, binge-watching Murder, She Wrote.

So for the past couple weeks, after hubby goes to bed (he’s a morning person and a nine-to-five guy), I pull out my laptop, settle in, and get to work.

My daily word count has increased from 1,500 to 2,500. And this week I’ve been pushing 3,000 words a day. I’ve only written two days this week so far, and my word count for those two days is higher than some of my previous weekly word counts.

This is still a new experiment, but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results. And, an added benefit, I’m feeling more confident (because I’m getting more words on the page) and less anxious (because those thoughts that kept me up at night are swept aside by the writing process).

Lastly, an ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Wrote 5,570 words in Goblins and Grimoires and 807 words in a new story, tentatively titled Silver Waters, a retelling of The Frog Prince. Total words so far this week: 6,377.

Reading: Finished reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. Loved it. It completely changed the way I think about my work. I wish I’d read it years ago. If you’re a fiction writer, I recommend it. During my fiction reading time, I’m still making my way through two short-story anthologies, Once Upon a Curse and The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2. I’m also reading a novel, Twilight Guardians by Maggie Shayne, because I needed a longer work for some variety.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? What’s your best time to write? When are you most productive?

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Midweek ROW80 check-in

ROW80Logocopy45. That’s how many pages of notes I’ve taken so far on my WIP “Made of Shadows.” The good news is that the manuscript won’t be a total rewrite. The beginning is more than a little rocky, but toward the middle a lot of what I’ve written has already been revised several times and needs only minor edits. There are still some unanswered questions, a few plot holes to fill in, but most of the writing is solid. I’m currently about 85 percent of the way through the read-through, according to my Kindle. I hope to finish it tomorrow.

It’s interesting to read through a story I wrote several years ago and see how far my writing has come. There are mistakes I made then that I wouldn’t make now—overusing a character’s name when a pronoun would suffice, awkward wording that today I would’ve caught as soon as it was on the page, etc.

My goal for this story is to start submitting it to contests later this year, so at least the first part of my summer will be spent on revisions. I’m still aiming to have a couple of stories query-ready by the end of the year, even though I’m still debating whether I want to self-publish my shorter works. I’m leaning toward yes, but I haven’t decided yet. I’m toying with the idea of a hybrid path—try to get my longer works traditionally published and self-publish the shorter stuff. So I have that decision to make in the coming months.

We’ve completed the home inspection for the townhouse we’re buying, so this summer will be a full one, first getting the apartment ready for new tenants, and then making the townhouse livable. Next week I might pause in writing in order to do a massive cleaning/organizing of the apartment so we can start looking for someone to take over our lease. And then, at some point amid the chaos of moving, I’ll need to start prepping for the class I’ll be teaching in the fall.

What about you? What are your summer plans? Have you ever picked up an older WIP after setting it aside for a while?

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

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Sunday ROW80 check-in: Savoring spring

The warm weather is finally here, meaning I can drink my morning coffee out on the balcony. Yay! And my plants are doing well so far. The basil sprouts just poked their tiny heads out of the soil this week, and the peas are really taking off. The pepper plant appears to be thriving—my first attempt at growing bell peppers, though other types have done well in containers for me before. And then there’s the geranium in the photo, of course—those are notoriously hardy.

My balcony garden spring 2015

Decluttering madness continued this week, although not at the same pace as before. I have a ton of stuff to take to Goodwill, and I still have another closet to go through. But I’m more organized than I’ve been in a long time, and I feel a sense of relief at simply owning less. Now that most of the decluttering is done, I’m on to a serious spring cleaning of the apartment—getting the carpets professionally scrubbed, cleaning the windows and wiping down the windowsills, etc.—wiping away the cobwebs of winter and letting the fresh air in.

On the writing front, draft three of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic” is off to beta readers. That was this week’s big task—doing yet another read-through and cleaning up the draft so it was as error-free as possible before sending it out. I didn’t wait my usual six weeks before the read-through, since I was mostly checking for typos and inconsistencies. With beta readers, I want them to be focused on connecting with the characters, examining the plot, etc.—not getting bogged down in typos and weird word echoes. So that story is cleaned up, sent out, and out of my hands for the time being.

In the upcoming week, I plan to do a read-through of my novel “Made of Shadows” and begin revisions. I have a sneaking suspicion it might need a page-one rewrite, since it’s the first adult paranormal I ever wrote, but I’ll make that call after the read-through.

I haven’t been doing as well with my social media goals as I would like. I’ve started using Pinterest regularly, but I need to remember to check in on Facebook and Twitter every day. And I’ve only been blogging once a week; I’d like to get that back up to twice.

What about you? How are your goals, writing or otherwise, coming along? If you’ve planted a garden this year, how are your plants doing?

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Sunday ROW80 check-in: Decluttering Madness

As far as writing goes, April was a slow month. I did finish the third draft of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic,” though, so it wasn’t a total loss. I’d like to clean that one up and send it to beta readers so they can read it while I work on “Made of Shadows.”

April might have been slow for writing, but decluttering went extremely well. I’ve lost count, but I’ve gotten rid of well over 100 magazines and literally thousands of papers—in addition to a bunch of random items I just wasn’t using anymore. My office has never been so organized. I feel so much lighter now that I’m not bogged down by all of those pieces of paper and random items that were no longer useful. Trips to the recycling center and to Goodwill are definitely in order. I still have more to do, but I’m off to a strong start.

I’m glad I started on the decluttering process, because there’s a strong possibility that hubby and I will be moving to a new place this summer. Having less to pack and lug around will be wonderful. It also looks like I might be teaching in the fall, so I have that to plan for. A lot happened in April–thus my previous post on “distractions.”

Hopefully in May I can kick my writing in high gear and dig into these revisions on “Made of Shadows.” My goal is to have two or three query-ready drafts completed by the end of the year. I’m working toward that goal.

What about you? How are your goals, writing or otherwise, coming along? Have you started spring cleaning? Do you ever go on a decluttering spree? I’d love to hear from you!

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

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Sunday ROW80 check-in

The past week was fairly productive. I revised 11 chapters in my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic,” so the third draft is officially finished. I need to do a read-through and fix any typos, and then it’s off to beta readers. I’m also making progress on the decluttering front, getting rid of a minimum of 10 items a day—more on some days. I also became addicted to Pinterest, but that’s another story. 🙂

I’ve decided to take a couple days off in between writing projects to focus on something else. So now that this third draft is done, I’m going to take some time off to do some organizing and decluttering and maybe some other apartment maintenance stuff. Then on Wednesday I’ll move on to revising my novel “Made of Shadows.”

Sunday ROW80 check-in:

Writing Goals

1.) Finish a third draft of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” Finished!

2.) Finish a fourth draft of “Made of Shadows.” On hold.

3.) Finish a draft of another story, to be determined. On hold.

4.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. No progress to report.

5.) Do morning pages daily, Monday-Friday. Three of five.

Social Media Goals

1.) Check in on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest daily, Monday-Friday. Four of five.

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met.

3.) Comment on three-five blogs daily, Monday-Thursday. Three of four.

A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? Are you in spring cleaning mode yet? How are your goals, writing or otherwise, coming along?

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ROW80 Round 2 Goals

ROW80LogocopyI’m actually a few days late in getting this post up, but here are my goals for the second round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life. This round will be all about finishing drafts and trying to get some of my work ready for submitting later this year.

Writing Goals

1.) Finish a third draft of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” (In progress)

2.) Finish a fourth draft of “Made of Shadows.”

3.) Finish a draft of another story, to be determined.

4.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing.

5.) Do morning pages daily, Monday-Friday.

Social Media Goals

1.) Check in on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest daily, Monday-Friday.

2.) Blog twice a week.

3.) Comment on three-five blogs daily, Monday-Thursday.

What are your goals for this round? Have you started your spring cleaning yet? Are the daffodils blooming where you live?

ROW80 is a blog hop. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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WIPpet Wednesday: Prince Neal

It’s time for another installment of WIPpet Wednesday, the blog hop that gives writers a chance to share excerpts from their works in progress. The only stipulation is that the post must somehow relate to the date. Click here to cheer on fellow WIPpeteers.

I’m keeping it short this week. Here’s today’s math: 1+1=2. Here are two paragraphs from “Be True.” Prince Neal has found himself torn out of his world and pulled into ours thanks to a spell with unexpected consequences.

It was cold. That was Neal’s first thought as he woke up. Snow flakes drifted gently down, covering his chain-mail and the sleeves of his black tunic.

He was sitting on a bench in a grassy area surrounded by black roads and strange-looking buildings with large windows.

Midweek ROW80 check-in

Writing goals

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Wrote 2,873 words in “Be True.”

2.) Read four books on the craft/business of writing. 3/4. No progress. I’m thinking of revising this down to three books instead of four to give myself more time to focus on the new-adult workshop I’m taking this month.

3.) Do morning pages in journal Monday-Friday. On track to meet this goal.

Social media goals

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for Wednesday, not for Monday or Tuesday.

2.) Blog twice a week. On track to meet this goal.

3.) Comment on three-five blog posts daily, Monday-Thursday. Goal not met.

***

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Sunday ROW80 check-in

photo from Dreamstime.com

photo from Dreamstime.com

I’m ready for spring—ready to go hiking, to play tennis, to attend outdoor concerts and spend my mornings writing in the sunshine. I’m planning to grow geraniums and basil, among other things, in the small container garden on my balcony. I’m ready for fresh air, green leaves, and summer thunderstorms, ready for bare feet and iced tea and trips to the farmers market.

What about you? Are you looking forward to spring? What’s your favorite part of the season?

Lastly, a Sunday ROW80 check-in…

Writing goals

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Revised one chapter in “Called by Magic.” Wrote a plot outline for “Be true.” Wrote 1,722 words in “Be True.”

2.) Read four books on the craft/business of writing. 3/4. Started rereading “Plot and Structure” by James Scott Bell.

3.) Do morning pages in journal Monday-Friday. 4/5.

Social media goals

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for every day except Monday and Wednesday.

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met.

3.) Comment on three-five blog posts daily, Monday-Thursday. Met for Tuesday and Thursday, not for Monday or Wednesday.

***

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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WIPpet Wednesday: The will-o’-the-wisp

After giving it some thought, I decided to do a page-one rewrite of my manuscript “Stolen by Magic.” And I’m glad I did. When I wrote the first draft, the writing was painful at times. I’m really enjoying this draft, though. Now that I know the basics of the plot, I’m concentrating on world-building and character development in this draft. And I’m excited to see where the story is heading and to watch my characters grow.

For those who aren’t familiar, WIPpet Wednesday, hosted by author K.L. Schwengel, offers writers a chance to share excerpts from their works in progress (WIPs). The only catch is that the snippet must have something to do with the day’s date. Click here to read more writers’ WIPpets.

Here’s an excerpt from the second draft of “Stolen by Magic”—11 paragraphs for today’s date. Laurel has just found herself drawn into what she suspects is the faerie realm. She sees a light shining in the middle of the forest.

Something caught my eye, a flicker of light, yellowish green in the deepening night. Darkness was falling quickly. Maybe I’d spotted the lantern of a traveler on the nearby path.

Cautiously I stepped onto the path and tiptoed toward the light, the soft earth blanketing my bare feet. I came around a turn, and there it was, shining ahead of me.

It was beautiful, a sphere of light, more enchanting than anything I’d ever seen. It began to move, and I instinctively followed. Now that I’d spotted it, all I knew was that I couldn’t let it disappear. I needed that light more than I’d ever needed anything.

The earth was a soft carpet for my naked feet. The orb moved with a gentle buzz like the movement of a hummingbird’s wings, through the wood, guiding me off the path. Vaguely, I wondered if straying from the path was a wise idea, but the thought vanished as quickly as it had come. I knew only one thing for certain: I couldn’t let that light, with its warm glow, out of my sight. Its steady hum was like the most beautiful music I’d ever heard, like a flute’s song, lovely and simple.

It led me deeper and deeper into the wood. I knew now I’d never find my way out, but I didn’t care. All I cared about was the light, calling to me with its brightness, vivid and clear and perfect. Nothing had ever been so perfect.

The trees grew more tightly together. Brambles clawed and clung to the denim of my jeans. One snagged a hole in my white t-shirt. I didn’t care about my clothes, or the rocks digging into my feet. Just as long as the light didn’t leave my side, I was safe. I could tolerate anything.

A smell reached my nostrils, something sulfuric like rotten eggs. The ground became soggy, the trees less majestic and more straggly. We were in a swamp. Some part of my mind wondered if it was safe, if I should be here, but I dismissed it immediately. The orb wouldn’t lead me someplace unsafe. There was no danger here.

It led me on a path through the swampy waters, colored a pea-soup green. The odor was awful, but I could tolerate anything with the light to guide me. A wide swath of mud covered the path, but there was no way around. I went straight through it.

My feet stuck, sucked into the mud. I tried to pull them out, but the harder I fought, the deeper I sunk. Soon I was mired in up to my ankles, and sinking quickly. I called out. Surely the light would—

Darkness fell. The light was gone.

“No!” the scream left my lips.

A midweek ROW80 check-in…

Writing goals

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Wrote 2,956 words in “Stolen by Magic.”

2.) Read four books on the craft/business of writing. 2/4. Continued reading “Beginnings, Middles, and Ends” by Nancy Kress.

Social media goals

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. On track to meet this goal.

2.) Blog twice a week. On track to meet this goal.

3.) Comment on three-five blog posts daily, Monday-Thursday. On track to meet this goal.

Life goals

1.) Do yoga or tai chi or meditate three times per week. 1/3.

2.) Do morning pages in journal Monday-Friday. On track to meet this goal.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? Do you enjoy writing second drafts? Have you ever struggled with a first draft of a story only to realize the story needs a page-one rewrite? Did you feel better while writing that second draft, or was it harder?

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