Monthly Archives: March 2014

chocolate and sweat pants

Sometimes I wish people would pay me to do things like see how long I can wear sweat pants. 

Or see how long I can live on chocolate and popcorn.

Or see how long I can waste time not writing books.

But no one is paying me to do those things, thank goodness. And I am trying my hardest to do the opposite–wear real clothes, eat vegetables and maybe write a book.

Today was a step in the right direction. I did wear sweat pants all day. I also found a chocolate egg under my bed BUT I read through my entire WIP which has now hit the 40,000 word mark. 

Forty thousand words! And I’m not even close to being done! This is a big deal for me because my first book was about three words and my second was five. My third is a few more. Like twenty. I’m not trying to write more words, by the way, it just keeps happening.

So this is exciting.

But there are problems.

Problem #1: I don’t know what should happen next and everything I try feels wrong.

Problem #2: I think maybe I just need to mess around in the 40,000 words I already have to figure out what needs to happen in the last fourth of the book but then I’m worried I’ll mess around too much and make things worse.

Problem #3: I have a sinking feeling that besides the ending, the whole book needs something more. A new layer. Or a few new layers. And in order to do that, I’m going to have to tear the whole thing apart, throw things out, move other things around, all to make room for some new elements that might not work. 

Problem #4: I may be lazy. Because I don’t want to do it.

Tomorrow my goal is to mess things up.

I may start a new document so it doesn’t feel as painful.

Where are you in your WIP?  

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Air, Water, Fire, and Earth – by Debbie Nance

One of the gals in my upcoming WIFYR novel workshop introduced our group to a beauty expert, Carol Tuttle, who has a program called Dressing Your Truth to help women define their beauty as each fits into one of four categories corresponding to nature. The gal who told us about this idea, uses the definitions from DYT when writing character descriptions to make her characters realistic. I thought it sounded like an interesting concept so signed up at to learn about the four types of beauty.

It’s always fun to do this stuff, right? BTW, are you a personality color red, yellow, blue or white? (I think those were the choices.) And/or are you a spring, summer, winter, or fall person for clothing color choices? This kind of thing is all over FB right now, which cartoon character are you, which Jane Austin character are you, which fantasy character are you, etc. Lots of fun!

Anyway, the first thing I learned was that DYT is based on the four elements of air, water, fire, and earth. And the beauty expert people are completely serious. They dole out the information in small amounts to ensure each reader takes the time to figure out where her beauty within comes from. I’m sure this is or could be helpful information for many people. I’m just not one who spends much time on studying the outfits I wear each day or doing my makeup, etc.—maybe I should be, maybe I will be after I finally watch all the videos.

Well, I watched the first video and when I realized I couldn’t access more info until they sent me the next video the following day, I didn’t check my email from DYT again until I knew I’d have a few. I found out that makes me a type 3—simply because I skipped to the section to determine what type I was. Type 3’s want results and can be pushy—sounds like me, huh?!

Anyway, if you’re interested, check it out. If you’re like me and can’t watch all the videos then here’s the short version:

Words that describe each dominant Type in human nature
Type 1 Air: random, disconnected, buoyant, crisp, free, fresh, bright, brilliant, upbeat
Type 2 Water: soft, connected, subtle, relaxed, blended, comfortable, elegant, muted
Type 3 Fire: angular, substantial, sure, textured, rich, dynamic, swift, irregular
Type 4 Earth: bold, clean, regal, simple, precise, structured, clear, reflective, high-contrast, keen

More descriptions: According to DYT, applying the energy of the 4 Types to water, and this is what you’ll see…
Type 1 Air: bubbling, boiling, evaporating, moving upward and outward
Type 2 Water: connected, flowing river, running smoothly, moving steadily
Type 3 Fire: pushing forcefully, like a faucet or waterfall, moving forward
Type 4 Earth: standing still like an ice cube or reflecting pond, with little movement

According to DYT, we are what Type we are and we can’t and shouldn’t try to change. We should just realize what our strength are, and go from there so that our inner beauty can really shine. What do you think of this concept?

Does this help you when thinking about describing a certain character in your novel?

What Type are you?

Do you think most successful writers are one particular Type?

And P.S. I got TW revised and sent a query yesterday!


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Three Things Thursday

from Brenda Bensch

Keep your platform visible, suggests Chuck Sambuchino, author of Create Your Writer Platform (available at Writer’s Digest Books):

Now that you’ve contacted an editor, an agent, a publicist, fans, or wherever you are in this crazy world of working to get published and READ, you need to do a few more “chores”: create, and keep an active website; check your email (and other contact spots like Twitter, etc.) briefly, but DAILY; make your contact info easy to find, but difficult for spammers (i.e., spell out your email address, etc.); even if you have an agent and/or a publicist, list YOUR information too so people can contact you when time is short or they have questions that can’t wait.
from Cheryl Van Eck
Today I want to talk about the dreaded “passive voice.”

We all know it’s evil. And yet we all do it. Why?

It’s because we have trouble knowing when a sentence is passive and when it’s not. Here’s a simple rule:

If you can insert the words “by zombies” after the verb, it’s passive.

Easy, right? Let’s look at an example:

“She was attacked by zombies.”

Bor-ing! This should be intense, terrifying, but…it’s boring. So to fix it, we try to add one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad adverbs.

“She was attacked viciously by zombies.”

But guess what? It’s still a bad sentence. Now try this:

“Zombies attacked her.”

You can see the blood and guts all over! When you get rid of the passive voice, you stop sounding like a textbook and start sounding like a writer. The passive voice forces the reader to process the words, and an active voice lets the words paint a picture.  

Now it’s time for you to throw out all your passive voice sentences. Add “by zombies” to the end of all your sentences, and leave us a comment of the funniest one you find!

from Carol

What is your favorite book for kids or teens?


What about the novel you’re writing?

Does it have any of the whys you answered for your fave read?

How can you improve your novel–looking at that favorite book–so that your book takes on some of those qualities.

I am not suggesting you steal anything from that pubbed inspiration. But, is it style? Voice? Subject matter? The way you feel when you read it?

How can you add those bits to make your novel a favorite for others?

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On Runny Noses

Right now, for the briefest of moments, my two younger sons are playing with blocks. Quietly. One building. The other taking blocks out and putting them back in.

I think: I want to write something beautiful every day. I want to sit and think and read and ponder and write.

I think: These children fill up my days.

I think: Can I do both?

I have been trying for many years. Sometimes I tell myself, you have not really been trying. You are  lazy. You watch TV when you have spare time in the evenings rather than doing research. You eat chocolate and read rather than figure out what it means to plot. You vacuum badly and pretend like you’re cleaning the kitchen when you could be working on a first draft. You sit in the bathtub and cry about your fat when you should be make revision notes.

I am hard on myself. Or I am lazy. I don’t know which one.

My dear friend gave me Ann Patchett’s writing memoir How to Have a Happy Marriage. In one essay, Ms. Patchett says:

Knowing that I wanted to write made my existence feel purposeful and gave me a sense of priorities as I was growing up. Did I want to get a big job and make a lot of money? No. I wanted to be a writer, and writes were poor. Did I want to get married, have children, live in a nice house? No again; by the time I was in middle school I’d figured out that a low overhead and few dependents would increase my time to work. While I thought I might publish something someday, I was sure that very few people, and maybe no one at all would read what I wrote. By ninth grade I was drawing from the Kafka model: obscurity during life with the chance of being discovered after death.

I think about this. I wanted to be a writer when I was young. I told people in elementary school that this was my destiny. I wrote stories, I won a few contests, I even got to spend an entire day with Dean Hughes (along with fifty other kids). I wanted to be a writer. But I never thought I’d have to give up other things in order for this to happen. Things like getting married, having children, maybe even publishing. Being a writer to me meant telling stories. I always wanted to tell stories. Could I have children and tell stories?

Now the two are fighting. The baby one (eleven months) keeps putting his head on the two year old (almost three) and the two year old thinks it’s funny and wraps baby’s head into a headlock. I say: Stop. He giggles. The baby cries.

So I can’t finish my thought. I can’t keep writing because the baby is crying. I think I am neglecting my children. I also think I am neglecting my house. My husband. My toes. My garden. My car. My scriptures. My whole world just so that I can spend time in make believe worlds.

But I don’t want to give it up. Does this mean I’ll never be a great mother and I’ll never be a great writer? Do I have to give up one, to be the other?

I guess I’ll never find out.

There will always be chapters to write and there will always be noses to wipe. And despite how slow and messy they are, I hope I never have to stop doing either one.


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