30 April 2014

Z is for Zoning Out

Woo, we made it! It's the last post of the A to Z Challenge! I'll admit that coming up with an idea for Z wasn't easy. I didn't have some grand finale planned for my last A to Z post. But then I realized there is something I do that is a central part of my writing process. And that is zoning out.

I'm sure when most people zone out, their minds go completely blank. I guess if that's true, then I've never really zoned out at all. Really, it's impossible to turn my brain off completely, even when I'm trying to fall asleep. There are always thoughts running through my mind. Most of the time, those thoughts are about the fictional characters I've created and their lives.

Since I was eight years old, I've always pictured stories in my head. I make up other people and the things they go through, then eventually write those stories down. I really have never been able to understand how everyone doesn't do this. So when I zone out, I'm not thinking of nothing. I'm thinking of people, places, situations, even worlds--all things that I've created.

I love to picture scenes from my stories in my head before I write them down. It's a bit of a rush to mold every aspect, every character and what they're doing, figuring everything out so that it's perfect before I actually put it into words. I picture these scenes over and over again until they drive me absolutely nuts and I just have to write them down. Once they're written, though, I have a hard time picturing them with the same clarity and passion that I did before. But that's what rereading is for, I guess--making sure the words match the scene I saw in my head, and then getting to read that scene over and over again.

So I guess I could say that zoning out is a part of my writing process. It's basically how I brainstorm. Plus, it's a great way to kill some time. :)

29 April 2014

Y is for Yikes!

I honestly had no idea what to blog about today. I did not get enough sleep but I just had to get up to watch the Tony nominations. And I really want to get back to writing. It was really frustrating to have to stop myself and go to bed last night. But, you know, you can't write if you can't keep your eyes open!

Since I'm nearing the end of my second draft, I gave the last few chapters of the first draft a reread yesterday morning to see what was left, and it was kind of scary. I think there's still a lot of work to do. The end is way too rushed. The second to last chapter was just a bunch of short scenes trying to wrap up all the loose ends before the last chapter. I was cringing while I read it. It's frustrating because every moment is necessary, but I don't see how I can stretch out each part to make it more meaningful.

And do not even get me started on the sex scene. Ok, maybe it's too late. I knew this would be a hard scene to write and I knew it still needed a lot of work. It's not really the physical aspects that bother me so much. It's more about the mood, the emotions in the narrative. It's all off. I feel like I need to either rip the whole scene apart or just start over completely. Which is also scary.

So yes, there aren't a lot of chapters left to rewrite. But there is still a LOT of work to do.

28 April 2014

X is for X Marks the Spot

I honestly couldn't come up with a good post for the letter X. I mean, come on, X? There aren't a lot of words that start with X. But as I was brainstorming, this phrase stuck in my mind, mostly because I've reached another point in my WIP where something BIG happens (and not something upsetting like in the infamous Chapter 17). Due to a rather impulsive (and sexy) moment, the whole dynamic of my characters' relationship is forced to change. This change moves the story forward, because such a dramatic moment can't go unnoticed. Things have to change, and eventually this leads to a breaking point.

So my X isn't just about my sexy scene (Aw, really? Darn.). It's about reaching the ending. I think it's going to happen a lot sooner than I initially thought, especially if I keep up the momentum I've had for the past few days. It's kind of bittersweet, because I really really want to finish, but that also means that I'm done writing. I love my book, so I'm not sure how I feel about this. Of course, I'll never really be done. Once the second draft is complete, there will be more edits (although I'm hoping not a complete rewrite again), agent research, queries, waiting, rejections, and hopefully at the end of that agonizing journey, I'll be published. Then that starts a whole different sort of journey.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself. Right now, I just have to go write this sexy scene. Yay!

26 April 2014

W is for Writing (Duh)

W is for writing, because that's what I'm doing. Right now. I've got such a good momentum going lately that I don't even really want to interrupt it with this blog post. But it had to be done. I know it's late, but I worked all day and the coffee is just starting to kick in. I'll be spending the rest of the night writing, hopefully finishing Chapter 18 and then some. It's very exciting.

Oh, by the way, one of my coworkers/readers came up to me at work last night and screamed, "WHAT DID YOU DO?!"  I guess Chapter 17 was a bit upsetting. Mission accomplished. ;)

25 April 2014

V is for Victory

I did it. I made it through Chapter 17, aka Brian's birthday party. This is my twist chapter. This is when shit. goes. down. I feel I came up with an accurate description of how a reader would react while reading this chapter:

Hmm, boring party.
Wait, what?
No. He can’t. Seriously? No no no. HE CAN’T.
YAY! He didn’t!
WAIT. REALLY? Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod! I don’t know how I feel about this! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
*throws computer against wall…except probably not, because it’s a computer…*

Or at least I hope that's how they react. Really, I was just having fun. But if they don't react this way, then I haven't done my job. Only time will tell. Having this sort of reaction would be another victory. It would mean that the readers are invested in the story, that they care what happens to the characters. Isn't that the whole point of having someone read your story? You don't want them to feel nothing. 

The fact that I got through Chapter 17 means that I actually rewrote two chapters yesterday. It was a big accomplishment. I noticed something interesting, as well while I was writing. Even though it's my book, and I knew exactly what was going to happen, my heart was pounding the whole time while I was writing, like the suspense was too much. I hope this means I did a good job. 

I seriously want someone to come up to me and say, "I hate you," after reading this chapter. I can't wait. Yesterday turned out to be a great day. Writing gives me that feeling that nothing else can. I'm happiest when I'm writing. I can't wait for the day when it's all I do. 

On a not so victorious note, I did not get around to 30 blogs yesterday. I ended up leaving 6 comments, but followed a bunch of new blogs to check out later. It seemed that no amount of coffee could wake me up yesterday and I only got my writing momentum much later in the day. See, this is why I don't make specific goals for myself, because I never reach them! Oh well, it's another day! 

24 April 2014

U is for Undertaking

Today is my only day off, so the word of the day is undertaking because of the very long list of goals that I will be attempting. I probably won't get everything done, but hey, the first one on the list is writing this blog post. Check!

I've been way too lazy all morning so I feel like I've already wasted too much time. But first I need coffee. Then I'm going to try to get this chapter done and send it off to my readers. I made a little more progress yesterday but still wasn't able to finish it. I want to get to the next chapter because I think I can rewrite it in about five seconds.

I want to visit a lot of blogs today, too. My plan is to leave a comment on 30 blogs. I've got a notebook open to make tally marks. Then I have some errands to run, too. Blech. But mostly today will be filled with writing. So off I go!

Side note: I almost posted this with the "T" badge instead of the "U." I think I'll finish my coffee before doing anything else...

23 April 2014

T is for Twists

Yesterday I talked about how I was having trouble writing the current chapter of my second draft. I wrote a page yesterday and I'm feeling much more inspired today, so hopefully I'll get the whole chapter done. The thing I love about blogging about these sort of problems is the comments and advice I get from other writers. Two of the comments on yesterday's blog really struck me, so I had to take a moment and actually consider it. They were asking if I needed this chapter at all. Since the next chapter, the one I was actually looking forward to, was so much more interesting, did I need this in between chapter at all?

My first response was, "of course I need it!" Immediately followed by, "wait...do I?" I was wondering if this chapter was one of those completely self-indulgent ones whose important points could probably be summed up in a few sentences. But then I really thought about it. I realized this chapter was necessary, and for a few different reasons. There is some important information about one character that is revealed in this chapter, as well as some symbolism being established that I continue throughout the book. There doesn't really seem to be another place in the novel to place this information.

The main reason, however, that this chapter exists, is to fool the reader. I realized the reason I'm so excited for the next chapter is that there is a big twist at the end--something the reader is never going to see coming. And that twist shatters the world that my characters have created. You know if something seems too good to be true, it probably is? That's basically what I'm doing with this current chapter. By the end, things seem perfect. My characters are happy. You'd probably be convinced that they've fallen in love at this point, even though they can't admit it. So the characters (and the readers) won't expect things to completely fall apart in the next chapter.

So maybe I'm just dying to get to the twist, but it can only be a twist if you don't see it coming.

22 April 2014

S is for Stalling

I'm having one of those problems again. I have no desire to work on the current chapter of my second draft. It's frustrating because I really want to work on the chapter after it, since it involves several shocking moments and will be really exciting to edit. I know I could just skip ahead, but since I'm sending my book chapter by chapter to my readers, I feel like I have to edit in order. So I'm stalling.

Really, I'm just not doing anything. Every day feels the same. Get up, eat something, blog, get ready for work, work, go home, go to bed. That's it. No time for anything else. I really, really, really want to finish the second draft before I leave my job, since some of my coworkers are reading it and I'd like to get some reactions. But usually whatever free moment I have is spent being exhausted. I just don't feel like writing.

The thing is, if I get past this chapter and write the next one, I don't think it will take me long to finish the book. After this turning point, there are only a few major moments before the end. There's not a lot of major editing I have to do, as far as rearranging scenes or making plot changes. It's mostly just word for word rewriting, which really won't be so hard.

I'm thinking of taking my writing with me to work today, since I'm working a position where I'm pretty sure I'll have some down time. I was kicking myself last night for not bringing a notebook since it was a lot slower than I thought it would be. And hopefully I'll get through this chapter. Otherwise I'll just keep stalling.

21 April 2014

R is for Reading

Like most writers, I love to read. Writing and reading pretty much go hand in hand. My problem is that I never seem to read all that much anymore. Every year I make a goal to read 100 books, and every year I fail. I never even come close. This year I've only read two books so far. Two! It's pathetic!

Like everything else, my problem is time. I don't have all that much of it, so whatever free time I have left after work and well, life, I try to spend that writing (try being the main word there). But I also know that when I do find time to read, it makes me want to write more. It's so much easier to get inspired when you're reading regularly. So while I try to use my time to write, I know it also suffers because I never read anymore. So basically, I can't win.

So I'm really looking forward to having more free time. I miss reading. I don't even know who my favorite authors are anymore. If someone asked me what kind of books I like to read, I wouldn't even know how to answer. I really would love to read anything I could get my hands on at this point. I do love my Kindle ever since I got it, and I bought a bunch of books written by my blogger buddies, but I still haven't gotten around to reading them. I think I'll start slow right now. I'd like to devote just a half an hour a day to reading. We'll see how it goes.

How is everyone else doing? Do you feel reading fuels your writing? What books are you reading right now? I'd love some recommendations.

19 April 2014

Q is for Questioning (with an excerpt!)

Ok, I have to admit this post is kind of a cop out, because hey, guess what! I'm on another double today! *headdesk* But it also occurs to me that I've never ever shared an excerpt from my WIP, Uneven Lines, so it seemed like a good day to do so. You know, since it's already written...

If you want to get to know someone, the easiest way to do so is to ask them questions. You can find out where they came from, what sort of things they like to do, etc. Some people are shy and aren't always going to willingly give up that information, so you have to dig deep to get it out of them. This sort of questioning is a central part in the first few chapters of my book. When Jordan first meets Tom, he wants to get to know him, but it isn't easy. Tom is shy, and since it is actually his job to tutor Jordan in geometry, he likes to keep the focus on that. Of course, this isn't good enough for Jordan, so he starts asking questions. Lots of them. All the time. He asks so many questions that Tom can't possibly ignore all of them. So each answer is like a tiny little victory.

But anyway, to the scene! I like this one because it shows a few sides to Jordan--he's crafty but he's also still a typical teenage boy who zones out and fantasizes. As far as the questioning goes, he's able to find out something about Tom that he's been dying to ask, but is able to do so without being too obvious. My favorite part, though, is the very last line, and it's probably my favorite chapter ending in the whole book.

So here is the scene from the second chapter. There is a very brief sexual reference at the end, but like I said, he's a typical teenage boy *wink wink*

            Figuring out the volume of a sphere is in no way necessary to life. I’m sorry, it just isn’t. The only spheres I was interested in were Tom’s eyes. I was trying to name their exact shade. If I dug out my biggest box of crayons, I wouldn’t have found a match—not sky blue, not cornflower. I mean, they were blue, like, gorgeous blue, but sort of clear, almost. Like Caribbean waters. I just hoped he would actually think I was paying attention since I was staring at him.
            “Jordan? Are you listening at all?”
            “Huh?” I shook my head. I had been zoning out a bit more than I thought. I glanced down at the notebook in front of me. “Where were we?”
            “Where were you?”
            I guessed my daydreaming had been more than obvious. I shrugged. “Swimming.”
            He just blinked those blue eyes a few times. I should have said drowning. “Oh, ok, swimming. In February?”
            “I was thinking of someplace tropical.” I yawned and stretched my arms above my head.
            Tom sighed. “Well, we’ve got five minutes left. You can do one more problem.”
            Always with the freaking math, this one. I groaned, throwing my pencil onto the table. “Seriously? Can’t we just call it a day?” Not that I wanted him to leave or anything. But if I came up with a good question I could get him talking for those five minutes. He frowned, so I sighed. “Come on, this is pointless. You could be baking something delicious right now instead of staring at circles.”
            He just stared at me, completely serious. “They’re spheres. They’re three-dimensional.”
            “So’s a cake.”
            I rolled my eyes. “How does this crap not bore you to death? It’s ok, you can go. Don’t you have a girlfriend to go see or something?”
            He chuckled and shook his head. “No.”
            I picked up my pencil and tapped it against the table. I had a thought, and I tried to fight it off, but I just couldn’t help myself. I mean, I had no proof. Not even the tiniest shred. God, I just wanted it to be true. “Oh, I get it. Boyfriend?”
            His entire body jumped as he looked back at me. “What? No.” He looked down at the table, quickly scribbling, but his flushed cheeks said it all.
            I dropped my pencil on the floor and fumbled around like an idiot to get it back. I sat back up, trying to keep calm. Didn’t want to start drooling or anything. “So, um…what was that formula?”
            I was so excited that night that I couldn’t get to sleep. You know, until I rubbed one out and slipped into a coma. But before that, I had a million thoughts going through my mind. This little sliver of information was my greatest victory yet. I just didn’t know what to do with it. Just because he was gay didn’t mean I was going to get anything out of him. Not that I wanted anything. Or did I? I kept telling myself that it didn’t matter because there was no possible way he could ever want me.
            Then again, I always liked a challenge. 

18 April 2014

P is for Poetry

One of the things I never seem to have time (or inspiration) for is writing poetry. For a long time during college I had given up on writing fiction, after two fiction writing classes proved disappointing. But in those classes, you could only write short stories, and if you read my N post the other day, you can imagine how well that went for me. So after two semesters of fiction, I decided to try poetry instead. And I loved it. I'd written poetry before, most of it in high school, most of it more awful than you can imagine. But I was older and wiser now, so I had more things to write about and more perspective to write them well.

I thought poetry was my calling, as I kept taking classes up until my last semester at college. In my final semester, I had the option to create a thesis project in order to obtain a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) instead of a BA. I chose to write a poetry portfolio. The other options included writing a novel or a collection of short stories, but poetry had been my thing for so long that it seemed like the natural choice. I had developed a certain voice in my poetry, one that was distinctly mine, with a feminine edge and a good amount of sarcasm. It was always easy to write poetry because I was usually writing as myself.

I also decided in my last semester to try one more fiction class, which was either the greatest or worst decision ever. The first short story I came up with eventually turned into the novel I've been working on for the last three years. I don't think I would go back and change my mind if I could, because I really believe this particular story is my calling, but it's been a rough journey. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stuck completely with poetry. Where would I be in my life right now? I suppose it doesn't matter, especially because I feel everything happens for a reason.

One of my biggest regrets, however, is that I never write poetry anymore. It was easy to come up with ideas when I was in college and forced to hand in a new poem every two weeks. Now I'm so focused on my novel that it's hard to come up with poems. Even when I do get an idea, I never actually write it down. It just kind of floats to the back of my mind. I know if I had more time, I would be able to focus on poetry more, not just writing new poems but finding places to publish my old ones. Because it kind of breaks my heart that I'm not really a poet anymore.

I was going to share a poem, but I couldn't find one I liked enough! They all need a lot of work...

17 April 2014

O is for Opposites

When you're crafting the characters in your stories, do they tend to turn out like yourself or other people you know? Is your main character a modified version of yourself? Or are you complete opposites?

In the case of my book, I could not be more different than my main character. Jordan is outgoing, charismatic, never afraid to speak his mind. He can come up with a snarky comeback with a snap of his finger. As for me, the person actually coming up with those comebacks, well, I have to stare at the computer screen for a few minutes before every line is perfectly crafted. I'm ridiculously shy, introverted, and I stumble with words when I talk to people. It's a lot different when I can hide behind my fictional characters.

I'm sure I'm not the only writer who feels that they live through their characters. Your characters can be nothing like you or they can have things in common with you. I think either way, writing from these points of view can be therapeutic. If your main character is your exact opposite, then it's a lot of fun to pretend to be him. It's fun to write your characters doing or saying things that you never would. On the other side, if your characters are like you, that can help these characters be more realistic. You could also have your stories reflect real life, use your own experiences to fuel how these characters react in certain situations.

As for me, I'm most like one of the minor characters, Eric, who ends up being Jordan's best friend by the end of the book. The subplot of the book is actually a bit reflective of some things that happened to me in high school. I can simultaneously use my experiences to make the story richer, and use the story to work through any unresolved feelings. Of course, you always want the story itself to be your main focus. Don't get too caught up in your own issues to forget that these are fictional characters.

Honestly, though, I have more fun writing as Jordan than any other character I've ever created, and I'm sure the fact that we're so different has a lot to do with it. I guess even when it comes to writers and their characters, opposites do attract.

16 April 2014

N is for Novelitis (Plus Giveaway Winners!)

I've talked about the "curse of the novel" before (back when I had about five followers so I'm sure no one read it), but since I've put a name to it, I thought I'd go a little bit more in depth. I have novelitis. I can only write novels.

I'm sure this seems a little silly. I've talked about writing poetry before, and I've only finished writing two novels, but that doesn't even begin to cover all of the ideas, snippets, and partially written drafts that I've worked on. The problem I have with actually finishing novels is a topic for another today. My problem is ideas.

Both of the novel I've finished started out as short stories. By the time I finished each short story, I realized there was something else there. I could keep going with the story, or in the case of my current WIP, stretch it out so the plot wasn't so rushed. Basically, I've come to realize that I am incapable of writing a short story. Any time I come up with a good idea, it's always too big for the short story format. I just can't reign it in.

Now this isn't always a bad thing. My current story really does work better as a novel than a short story. But it can be a bit frustrating to set out writing a short story, and then realize that there's a LOT more work to do. Writing a novel takes a lot of time and energy, and you have to commit to it.

Maybe I'm cursed, or maybe I just think too big. Either way, the struggle continues. Maybe someday I'll write an actual short story.

And now for the fun part! Thanks to everyone who participated in my 100 Followers Giveaway! I'm at 97 now (getting there, getting there). So now it's time to announce my two winners. The winner of the $25 Amazon Gift Card is (insert drum roll here...) Anna Cade! And the notebook and pen goes to...Leandra Wallace! Yay! Congrats to the winners! I'll be emailing you so you can claim your prizes!

This was a lot of fun. I'll have to come up with more giveaways in the future. :)

15 April 2014

M is for Moving On

Thanks to everyone who entered my 100 Blog Followers Giveaway! I'll be announcing the winners tomorrow. Still only at 95 followers, but I just realized the A to Z Challenge is only half over! Yikes!

So I think I've finally made a decision about my life. My last day of work is going to be June 3rd. I haven't told my boss yet since I think it's too soon, maybe sometime in May. I wanted to give myself a little more time to earn just a bit more money, so I'm not diving into my savings right away once I'm jobless. My fiance and I are going on a trip to Las Vegas on the 5th so I figured that was a good time to leave. So I'll quit my job and immediately go on vacation! And no, we're not getting married there...

It's a really, really long time coming. When I went back to work after my staycation and still felt burnt out and miserable, I knew I really couldn't do it anymore. My job is sucking the life out of me. If I'm in a position where I can afford to give it up, then I really think I have to.

I still want to finish my second draft before I leave my job, which honestly, is probably the main reason I'm giving myself almost two more months. I have a lot of planning to do, but I'm really looking forward to being able to focus on my writing and looking for a job that is something I actually want to do.

14 April 2014

L is for Love (A Four Letter Word)

Ok, I'm making this a quick one because I'm on a ridiculous twelve hour double today. Yes, on a Monday. Who the hell has to work doubles on a Monday?? Well, me, apparently.

I know today's post is about "love," but it's also about language. When people ask me if my book is a romance, I always hesitate to say yes. While there are some romantic elements, the plot is a bit more complicated than one you might usually find in a romance novel. So the word "love" isn't something I like to carelessly throw around in the book. That's why I only use it once. I call it one of my curse words.

My characters are in a situation where if they were to fall in love with each other, they could never say it. My narrator certainly isn't someone who would ever admit to being in love, partly because he's too young but also too jaded and cynical. He has no use for love. Both characters are so flawed that even if they had love, they could never make it last. They both know this, so they can never acknowledge it.

So keeping this in mind, I've been a bit sneaky in the writing process. It's not something everyone is going to notice, but if anyone does, that one use of the word "love" is going to punch them in the face. Sometimes you use the word "love" more casually, like, "for the love of God," or, "I loved that pizza!"  I don't even do this. I'll do a search on each chapter to make sure I didn't accidentally let the word slip.

I'm perfectly fine dropping swears here and there throughout my book, but if "love," pops up, well, then we've got a problem!

Today's the last day to enter my giveaway! You could win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or some awesome writing tools. Ends tonight at midnight and I'll announce the winners on Wednesday!

12 April 2014

K is for Kissing

I've only written two complete novels in my life (the first one three times, don't even get me started...), and even though they are very different stories, I tend to notice certain similarities between them. Like how I always find a way to get my MC's parent(s) out of the picture so they can pretty much do whatever they want. The biggest similarity in both, though, is that kissing happens. A lot.

My first novel was a fantasy about immortal beings who drew the life force out of their victims by kissing them. Sometimes I over-analyze this concept since I was fourteen when I came up with it and had never been kissed. Maybe I was fascinated by the idea. It did make writing kissing scenes a bit difficult since I really had no idea what it was like. But since it was a fantasy and there were more important things to focus on than the kiss itself, it made it a bit easier.

Fun fact, that is somewhat pathetic but you'll probably "awwww" for days over it: I didn't get my first kiss until I was twenty, and the person I had it with is now my fiance. I've never kissed anyone else.

So anyway, onto my current WIP. Since my characters are in a relationship where they can't have sex (one is 15 and the other is 28), but they're still attracted to each other, they end up kissing a lot. Like seriously, all the time. There's usually at least a short kissing scene in each chapter. The issue I find myself having is to keep each new scene interesting without it just being a repeat of the last one. I mean, there's only so many ways you can describe a kiss, right?

I think the trick is to mix it up a bit. Sometimes I'll write a page long make out scene, other times just a sentence or two to imply that it happened. Sometimes you want to give the reader what they want, other times you'll want to drive them nuts waiting for more. Luckily for me, a major part of the story is that the physical relationship progresses very slowly and methodically, so that, for example, the first tongue slip is a huge deal. So anything even slightly different from the last kissing scene is worth mentioning.

It's not all physical, either. You'll want to get into the character's head, too, examine how they're feeling while the kissing is happening. First kiss scenes can be particularly fun, if not also terrifying. That's where the thought process is going to be most important. The characters will probably be nervous and excited. And a first kiss isn't always perfect, either. Just do whatever works for your story and characters. If it needs to be sloppy and disappointing to create just a little more conflict, or to let down your character's expectations, then that's ok. But it's ok if it needs to be perfect, too. That earth shattering, heart stopping first kiss will always be fun to read about.

Don't forget about my 100 Blog Followers Giveaway! Ends Monday night! Super easy to enter and you could win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!!

11 April 2014

J is for Judgment

I worry about a lot of things, especially now that people are actually reading my second draft. You know, people besides my fiance who just says everything is wonderful. I worry about being judged, and for a lot of different reasons.

I worry about people judging the story as a whole. Either saying it's not good enough or it's too messed up for people to like. I worry that people don't see the story or the characters the way I see them. And if that's the case, then maybe they're right to judge me because I haven't done a good enough job writing to get my point across.

I worry about people judging my writing style. Maybe they don't like the voice, and I've worked so hard to craft it into something distinguishable. Maybe they don't like the use of swearing, although I've tried to tone it down to where it's realistic and not unnecessary. Maybe they don't like when I start a sentence with a conjunction. But I can't help myself! Whoops...Maybe they don't like my excessive use of dialogue. Maybe they don't believe my characters could be real people.

Maybe they'll judge my book as being something superficial when I was going for something deeper. Maybe they'll miss all the intricacies. I can't be there to point every tiny detail out. Maybe they just won't get it.

Ok, maybe I should have saved this post for the "P" day for Paranoia...but anyway, just some things to get all flustered about for no reason. On with the rest of the day.

There's still time to enter my 100 followers giveaway! (93...getting there!) You could win a $25 Amazon gift card or some writing goodies. It's not just for new followers--if you've been here all along, you can enter, too!

10 April 2014

I is for Inventing

You may not think of writers as being inventors, but really, that's exactly what we are. Sometimes we're just inventing a simple story, other times an entire universe. Even though it's all in our heads (or on paper, once it's written), there's a lot of work that goes into it.

If you read a fantasy or a sci-fi novel, you can understand how much work went into inventing the world of that story. I used to write fantasy (and probably will again) and I feel like I only scratched the surface on developing the world in which my characters lived. You can have fantasy elements in the real world, or you can completely create your own universe. Either way, there is a lot of work involved. While fantasy gives you a bit more room to do what you want, it still has to make sense. Once you create the world, you have to stick to the rules of that world, or the reader is going to notice. If you're writing a vampire story, and suddenly you feel the need for a dragon to show up, you'd better sure that all of these creatures can exist within the same universe. Nothing can be random and there has to be a reason for every choice you make in the story.

If you're writing any genre of realistic fiction, it's less about the world the characters live in and more about the story itself. You have to be sure any interaction with the outside world makes sense, like researching your setting, making sure the way your characters talk is actually realistic. If your characters go to a real place, then you're not going to be able to fool anyone who's actually been there. As for the story itself, it has to make sense, too. You want to make sure the characters act in a way that's realistic. You're not inventing a a whole universe, but the tiny little world that your characters live in. A lot of stories are character driven, and in this case, your characters are going to be your most important inventions.

I think most writers understand that when they get the first spark of a story idea, there's going to be a lot of work involved with getting that story written. You have to invent characters, situations, and sometimes, an entire world. Of course, it's not all work. It can be a lot of fun, too. :)

09 April 2014

H is for HELL NO

Sorry, everyone, but this post is a total cop out. I have strep throat. I'm going to spend the day in bed with some Popsicles, Gatorade, and penicillin.

If you didn't check out my post from yesterday, you totally should! You could win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or a Moleskine notebook and disposable fountain pen, all just for following my blog!

Hopefully I'll be back with a real post tomorrow. Or I could stand for "Infection..."

08 April 2014

G is for Giveaway!

I'm so excited about today's post, because I'm doing my very first giveaway!!

I was at 79 blog followers when the A to Z Challenge began. I noticed how quickly that number started to rise, and realized that I was very close to reaching 100 followers, and probably would before the challenge ends. So what better way to celebrate than to thank you guys for following? A giveaway!!!

I've got two prizes, first a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Second is a Moleskine notebook and a Varsity disposable fountain pen (faux fountain pen...get it?!). Just like mine (the picture below is of mine, you'll get brand spanking new ones). Basically all you have to do is follow my blog! If you're stopping in for the first time or you've been following me forever, you can enter. You can get bonus entries by leaving a comment on this post, following me on Twitter, tweeting about the giveaway, and answering a trivia question. It's pretty easy to find, but I have edited my "About Me" section so that it's not TOO easy for you ;)

The giveaway will run until midnight next Monday and I'll announce the winners on April 16. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

07 April 2014

F is for Foster (Or, Maiden Names & Pen Names)

Most of my coworkers call me by my last name, Foster. Actually, my boss will scream it at me whenever he sees me. On the rare occasions when he's called me by my first name (like, literally once or twice), I had to point it out--"You just called me Sarah." "What?! I did?" Despite all this, I never really thought about my last name being part of my identity, that is, until I got engaged. Now, I get asked all the time, "What's your new last name gonna be???"

Well, here's the thing. I'm not entirely sure if I'm going to change it. And it has nothing to do with some sort of feminist viewpoint or anything. Part of me just doesn't find it necessary. I've spent 26 years with this name, why change it now? I don't think taking my husband's last name would create a stronger connection with him. It feels more like changing a part of my identity just because people expect me to.

Honestly, though, part of my decision has to do with my writing. Now, obviously I haven't published anything yet, but I also haven't done any wedding planning yet either. And I always thought that if I published anything before I got married, I wouldn't change my last name. Of course, this isn't going to be the only deciding factor, but if it does happen, it could be a big one.

Which leads me to pen names. If I really wanted to, I could publish my book under any name I choose, or any variation on my own name. For a long time, I thought I'd include my middle initial, but I think I've moved past that desire. And replaced it with slightly rational fear. At least, I think it's rational. See, sometimes I worry that if the first book I publish is gay fiction, then my publisher is going to make me change my name, maybe make me use initials to hide my identity as a woman. Which I absolutely can't stand. I know I'm probably way over-thinking things, as well as getting way ahead of myself (how about I finish writing the book first, right?). But it's not like I never thought about it.

Considering the fact that writing involves pretending to be someone else a lot, I really just want to be myself. I don't want to have to hide behind my book or my husband's last name. I want to do things my way. And an identity is something that only I can create.

05 April 2014

E is for Editing

E is for Editing. Because that's what I'm doing. Or trying to do. Because I'm really tired. I worked all day. I have to work tomorrow. I have to get up at 6. I might just go to bed right now. Or if I'm lucky I'll get through one scene. I'm not sure my brain is working properly, though. I mean, I can't even write a good blog post. Is anybody else really glad to not have to blog tomorrow?

Oh, by the way, I have no idea what my F post will be yet, but my G post is going to be pretty awesome. You should come back and see it. Just sayin'.

04 April 2014

D is for Danger

When you're writing a book, you want to keep the tension as high as you possibly can. You don't want the reader to get bored. This doesn't necessarily mean that every moment needs to be a nail biting, on the edge of your seat sort of scene. There doesn't need to be a disaster on every other page. But the threat of a disaster could keep things interesting.

Since my novel is about the relationship between a 15-year-old and a 28-year-old, obviously there's a lot of danger involved. My characters know that their relationship has to be a complete secret, and that if anyone found out it would be disastrous. That thought process is certainly present in the book, but it's not at the forefront. The lives these characters lead allow them to be isolated without much threat of getting caught. Honestly, having my characters get caught has never been an option. It’s the obvious route to take. And I don’t want my book to end up like an episode of Law & Order. It's just not the story that I'm trying to tell. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be the occasional brush with danger.

There are times when the danger is going to be more obvious. When the killer is inside the house. When there's a high speed car chase. Or in my book, when Jordan's mother comes home unexpectedly. Those are the easy times to maintain tension. The reader is already going to be nervous, hoping everything turns out ok for your characters. It's when you have moments between these sort of crucial scenes where tension can be a bit tricky.

I had a good learning experience when I wrote the first draft of my novel. There's one particular scene about halfway through the book where Jordan is sitting at the lunch table at school with his friends, secretly texting with Tom about their upcoming weekend together. Really, I hadn't thought the scene through beyond their conversation, and the fact that I need to occasionally throw in scenes with Jordan's friends to move the subplot. So it was his friend Brian who chimed in, asking who Jordan was texting. At first, I wrote the next line as:

                "Your mother," I said quickly, shoving the phone back into my pocket.

I realized the problem immediately. With the phone in his pocket, the evidence disappears. Where does the scene go from here? Just boring lunchtime banter. I had to think about how this scene was going to work as a whole. Why have the texting conversation while Jordan is at lunch? It could have just as easily happened when he got home from school. The conversation and the setting had to compliment each other. So there had to be some sort of reaction. I rewrote the line as: 

               "Your mother," I said quickly, placing my phone down on the table in front of me. 

It was such a subtle change but it did so much for the scene. Now the phone is out in the open, and Brian is able to grab it and look at it before Jordan can stop him. Instead of being a boring, useless scene, now there's a hint of danger. Jordan has to get his phone back before Brian sees too much and come up with an explanation for what he does see. The whole scenario gets him thinking how he needs to be more careful, how maybe maintaining a secret relationship isn't as easy as he thought. 

Without the danger, this scene would have been really boring. It might have been cut entirely when I wrote the second draft. But because of one tiny little change, there is tension and suspense, even if just for a moment. Danger doesn't always have to be life or death. Sometimes it can be subtle, moving the plot from one scene to another. Even if it's overcome quickly, hopefully the readers will still have that one moment when they're holding their breath.  

03 April 2014

C is for Cupcake

In the past few years, I've created a Valentine's Day tradition that will probably last the rest of my life. And it's all my book's fault.

Food plays a huge role in my book. In the first chapter, Jordan shows a certain level of disdain for everything he's forced to eat, that is, until Tom walks into his life holding a key lime pie. Part of the relationship my characters create revolves around food, and there are plenty of scenes with food descriptions. The idea of hunger has a more symbolic use, besides just being actually hungry for food, but hungry for the things you desire and life in general. But that sort of hunger can be revealing, and that's exactly what Jordan is afraid of.

So there's a cupcake scene. It's in the third chapter and it's probably one of my favorite scenes in the whole book. I do have a lot of fun writing in depth food descriptions, which this scene obviously has. But it's also a very revealing scene. There's an unspoken attraction between my characters and even though they can't acknowledge it, they're both very much aware that it exists. The tension gets to be so much that actually eating this cupcake is almost a sexual experience.

But anyway, onto the actual cupcake! I've made them twice, because why not? I honestly don't remember how I came up with the idea for this scene, or even the flavor of the cupcake. But since in the book, Tom makes these cupcakes for Valentine's Day, I've started making them, too. This year I brought them to work and they were a big hit. The cake is vanilla with just a hint of lemon, with raspberry filling and raspberry buttercream. I'm honestly not that great of a baker, but they get better each time I make them. Someday they'll be perfect.

And, no, I did not create the recipes myself. My fictional characters can be that good, but not me. So since I should give credit where credit's due, and because you totally want to make them, check out the recipes for the Vanilla CupcakesRaspberry Filling, and Raspberry Buttercream.

02 April 2014

B is for a Blue Binder

All right! *cracks knuckles* I'm going to attempt to combine my A to Z Challenge post with my IWSG post. If you haven't heard of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, check out Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog to learn more. Here goes!


I went into a Staples recently, spent about five seconds in one aisle, then walked out empty handed. I had one of those paranoid moments when I was afraid the staff would think I stole something. But that's a different kind of insecurity, I suppose. The kind of insecurity I was really feeling at the moment was a sort of desperate need for perfection. Or maybe I was just being really picky.

Ok, ok, I'll explain. I was looking for a binder. But not just any binder. I need a binder in which to put the second draft of my novel. I haven't printed any of my revisions yet, and I like having a hard copy as well as a digital one. But this is my life's work, my masterpiece--it can't just go anywhere!

I've mentioned before that my novel has colors. You know, like a sports team or a school would. My high school's colors were black and teal, college was purple and gold. Well, my book is gray and blue. I don't know when it happened, exactly. I just started associating each color with one of my main characters, and then I started wearing these colors together a lot, and it just kind of stuck. I could go into extensive details about why I chose these particular colors, but that's probably a story for another day.

I have my first draft printed and stored in a gray binder. It took me forever to find the perfect one, and had to buy it online, actually. See, I knew that it just had to be gray, that putting my book in some random colored binder would be a violation to myself, my muse, and the universe. It just wouldn't have felt right. And so for my second draft, of course it has to be blue. But the right kind of blue. One that I haven't been able to find yet.

Ok, this is about more than just a binder, really. It's not even about seeking perfection like you would when you actually write your book. It's more about balance. I do believe that everything happens for a reason and that the universe has a plan for everyone. Oddly enough, I'm pretty sure I've figured most of that plan out. I may be right or I may be completely nuts, only time will tell. But in the meantime, I have to do what feels right. If I stuck my second draft in a pink binder, it would make me cringe every time I picked it up. Does that make me insecure? Probably.

Anyone else picky about where you store your hard copies? Figure out the universe's plan for you yet? Or do you think I'm crazy?

01 April 2014

A is for Adventure

Actually, today I want to talk about three adventures--one I'm starting right now, one I've been on for what feels like forever, and one that I'm planning for the near future.

I think choosing to be a writer, or even just writing a particular story, is like embarking on an adventure. You have to prepare yourself, plan things out. It takes a lot of commitment and a lot of work. You might encounter obstacles along the way that you didn't expect. But you learn to work past them. I think the only difference with writing is that sometimes it's hard to know when the adventure is over. 

Obviously today is the first day for the A to Z Challenge. Most of you would probably agree that this is a sort of adventure. Not only do we have to blog for 26 days, but have each post correspond with that day's letter. Some people have even committed to themes, although I chose not to take that route. I figured all of my blog posts are usually about writing in some way, anyway. Or maybe I just ran out of time to come up with something more specific. But anyway! I've made the commitment. I haven't done all that much planning. Sometimes it will be difficult. But mostly it will be fun, and hopefully I'll get to connect with a lot more writers and bloggers in the process. 

I've been on another writing adventure for quite some time. I've been working on my current WIP in one form or another for over three years. It started as a short story for a college class, and that could have been the end of it. I could have edited it, maybe tried sending it to a literary magazine. But I made a different choice. I thought there was a lot more there beneath the surface, so I decided instead to adapt the story into a novel. That took a lot of work. At times it was exhilarating, at other times frustrating. Life got in the way, lack of inspiration, dealing with anxiety and depression. It's taken me a lot longer to get where I am, but I think the momentum has picked up recently. It took me about two and a half years to write the first draft, but the second draft is coming along a lot faster. Maybe fixing the novel's problems is easier than figuring out what happens in the first place. But this adventure still seems never-ending. Once the second draft is done, then there's querying, agents, hopefully a book deal. And it won't end there, either. It's scary, but I'm looking forward to it. 

And then there's this new adventure I'm planning. I'm hoping within the next two months to quit my job and try writing full time. This is beyond scary. But I think it's time to do it. There are a few things I have to get in order before leaving my job, but I'm hoping to be out of there by June. If I could devote all of my time to writing, then I could get so much more done, instead of just struggling day to day to get out a paragraph because I'm too tired or have no time. I really need to do what's best for me at this point, and staying at a job I hate just because I'm used to it and it feels safe isn't the right choice anymore. 

Well, those are my adventures for the moment. What sort of adventures are you embarking on? Looking forward to meeting some new people through the A to Z challenge!