Author Archives: CLW

Happy Memorial Day!

Thanks to all who served–both veterans and their families.


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Three Things Thursday



I’ve been complaining of how hard of a life I’m having lately. I keep waking up sobbing and that sets my days off for deep sadness. Keep having the nightmares.  I think those are tied closely to my anxiety because of the way I feel when I’m waking. I’ve tried turning things over to God, have let many things go, have chewed my nails off. Nothing seems to help.

This happens in life. We know this. And when you’re a writer (or anyone for that matter) you need support. People who sorta know what you’re going through, pull their part of the weight, listen to you, request to read your work, say, “I’ll pray for you.”

I may have already said this, but as forgetful as I am, I can’t remember (I feel I may have).


Thank you Cheryl and Brenda.

Every week–early–these two beautiful, busy, kind, good and caring women send a hint for Thursday.

I’m not so sure I’ve told you what a relief it is not having to worry about posting a couple days a week. You all have helped me so much.

You always send your posts. Many times you check in on me.

Your comments are always excellent and I learn from them each week.

Everyone should have the Brendas and the Cheryls in their lives. And we each need to be aware when we should be a Brenda or a Cheryl, too.



Our trip to “see family” in Alabama will close this coming week. My husband’s family has always had what they call “Sloppy Luck.” To explain: Herb’s brother was coming to their sister’s house to celebrate Mother’s Day with their 88-year-old mother who lives with sister and her husband. His vehicle broke down on one of the major BUSY thoroughfares in Birmingham. A nephew happened to be going in the opposite direction — 8 lanes away — yet managed to turn around and go help him push the car off to the side. Another relative happened to have a tow truck available, and went and picked up the car later. We were already at “Mom’s,” so Herb went to pick his brother up — easy to find because he was only about 2 stop lights away from the motel we’re staying in. “Arnold Sloppy Luck” at work.
While we’ve been here Herb’s sister, a yoga instructor, has had her rotator cuff (which was operated on just before we arrived) checked out: it’s doing well. The power went out at sister’s place a couple of night’s later, and the power company couldn’t find where the fix was needed. Sister knew, directed them, and the power was restored in the middle of the night. Before morning, Mom got out of bed, fell and broke her leg: AFTER the power was restored, so they were able to find and get medical help out there and transport her to a hospital — without the power restored, it would have been SO much more difficult. Plus, we’ve been here to visit Mom, give rides & support to brother, support family, instead of being thousands of miles away. “Arnold Sloppy Luck” again.
You probably can’t use their “Arnold Sloppy Luck,” (maybe they’ve already got the name as a franchise of some kind), but why not “Johnson Sloppy Luck,” “Weinstein Sloppy Luck,” or “Bronsen Sloppy Luck” in your story? What “Happy Coincidences” might spark up a scene, a character, an event? And HOW do you keep it from seeming all TOO coincidental?
This is the way life IS in the Arnold family !
Earlier this week, a friend and I had a “spirited debate” about whether a story was plot-driven or character-driven. 

My opinion (or, you might say, the correct opinion, hee hee) was that it was plot-driven when it should have been character-driven. Events happened to the character that forced him to react in the only way anyone would. Yes, many acts required intelligence, bravery, and an ability to deceive. But the character never grew or changed. Even the romance developed as a natural consequence to the plot, and the main character never showed any real emotion or desire to be in the relationship.
It isn’t enough to focus your entire story on the actions of one character. The story needs to follow the inner growth of the character, the character should not simply change because of external influences. Do not allow your character to be a Mr. Potato Head, with the outside emotions changing but nothing happening at the core.


Filed under Depression, Plot, three thing thursday, writing process

After a Week of

really rude people, surprises that were hurtful, and dumb stuff, it’s nice to fall in my novel and  enjoy it.

I love to write. Mostly. I don’t love writing middles. But I love ends.

I especially love to have written.


And to see my book in print.

A box of ARCs of NEVER SAID arrived on Friday.


There’s something lovely about slipping into my own made up worlds.

And into other people’s, too.


A dearest friend told me she had only one book left in her because she’s teaching.

Only one left.

No! I said. Stop teaching.

Just write.


My note today is this–YOU have something to say. There are PEOPLE who need to hear what you have to say. Stop waiting around. Stop giving excuses.


Write that mid grade.

That picture book.

Your YA.


Write instead of TV. Get up an hour earlier. Stop running three miles sooner.
Give us your book. Because someone, like me, needs it.


Someone needs YOUR book.


Filed under CLW, Life

So Last Night

Ann Dee and I went to dinner with a bunch of amazing women and while we were there I said, “I think our book is almost done.”

And Ann Dee said, “No it isn’t.”

And I said, “You don’t think so?”

And she said, “No, I don’t.”

And I said, “Yes it is.”

And she shook her head and the people who were listening to us looked at us like, “Are they gonna fight?”
We weren’t. ‘Cause Ann Dee would win.


This conversation shows you how you can work on the same project, for the same amount of time, reading the same words, and see something differently.

“It’s about family,” I said.

“It’s a mystery,” Ann Dee said.

“There’s a sorta mystery in it.”

“You keep saying it’s about fathers.”

“It is.”



In a little bit, I’ll write the next section of our book about families. Before the book comes out, Ann Dee and I will come up with a less-than-25-word explanation of the novel. It may or may not include fathers and a mystery.


As you work with your partner–don’t worry.

Write with faith.

Push yourself.

Do things you would never do on your own.

Love it.

Hate it.

Just do it.


If anyone has written with someone this week, please feel free to talk about it here.

We wanna know if YOU know what you’re writing.


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Three Things Thursday

The weather out here in California has been so beautiful lately…Not too hot, not too cold, and of course, no rain–ever. 

When I was younger, my mom would always push me to go outside at times like this. For me, of course, that meant finding a comfy spot outside to read a book.
Now I’ve discovered that having an occasional day to write outside can also help. Take a break from the computer. Grab an actual pen and pad of paper and just write. It can break up the monotony, and it always helps me focus on sense of place. Inside, all my senses are dulled, but outside, everything comes alive again.
Write to Done, an online blog about — well, blogging, often — put one up on Monday about improving your writing skills by traveling. As I am now “on vacation” in Alabama I thought I’d mention the idea here. Travel gets you out of your rut, gives you a chance to get some distance from your everyday experience with a new perspective. Almost anything can work: a change of address, a vacation, a day trip  And what if you only took the day trip to a place you’ve never been n your own home town? Still can’t “afford” it? How about spending some time in the library reading about some place you’ve always wanted to go, looking at pictures?
The first time I came to Alabama three years ago, I experienced breakfast at a Waffle House. A PECAN Waffle!  Scrumptious! Needless to say, we’ve already been twice during this trip. Still scrumptious! But I’m also noticing the people. The “family” working there. On the crowded Sunday Mother’s Day breakfast crew, the job of two men was to keep on cookin'; another one gathered all the sales slips and called out the orders –as they came in— to  the cooks who were ready to handle the next order. One fellow kept drying the knives, forks and spoons hot out of the washer. This well-oiled machine seated the waiting crowd efficiently, quickly, and took orders as soon as the customers had time to decide — and while they sipped on their first cup-a-joe! Another guy handled the cash as each party prepared to leave. ALL the workers were friendly, to each other, and to customers. Numerous asked if we “had everything” we needed as they buzzed past. This was a small, narrow diner with AT LEAST 11 workers working in harmony AND with a jaunty, jovial air about them. It was THE place to be on that wonderful day.
And it gave me a new appreciation for working together, living together, getting along, and making the trip FUN as it progressed. How can that NOT affect the way I feel, act, write, think and appreciate today and EVERY day for some time to come?
Where/when are you “going” next — and how will it inform your writing?
You’re worried as you work with your writing partner:
1. She’s leading you in a way you didn’t expect. Should you follow?
2. He’s making your character seem a little silly or angry even. You don’t want that.
3. You can’t force the story to go the way you want because whenever your partner steers the car, you start going east instead of west.
4. Your partner doesn’t ‘get’ your character.
5. You don’t ‘get’ your partner’s character.
6. Now you don’t ‘get’ your own character.
7. Your partner isn’t picking up the clues you’re leaving behind.
8.  His clues are weird.
I remembering reading King’s On Writing and when he discovered the importance of blood in his novel Carrie. He’d left so many bloody hand prints (his own) that when he went to rewrite he emphasized the natural place his storytelling had taken him.
This is going to be the biggest clue I can give you as you write with your friend. Trust her and yourself and this odd process.
One of the funnest parts of writing with Ann Dee was when I allowed myself to just experiment. If she mentioned screaming at my character’s house, I got to decide if it was a man or woman screaming. Or a kid. It could have been a kid. (It was a bird.) Ann Dee was great at leaving cliff hangers for me to leap from.
About three or four short chapters in, Ann Dee said, “What are we doing? I say she hates dogs, you have her with dogs. I say there’s screaming, you don’t mention in. You said they’re making out and I said there was only a hug.”
This trip is one about you both steering. No one can force the story. If either writer does, you may end up with one unhappy person. Or you may end up with two people struggling for control.
Then you’ll have two stories that won’t work together and you won’t succeed.
Look for the odd clues left behind by your partner. How can you change it up from what she might have meant? Can you make that clue your own? Twist tears out of it? Laughter?
Understand that much of the worries you have will be taken care of in revision. And when the book is done, Like Stephen King, you’ll see what you set up that you didn’t realize you had. In our books it was fathers. I knew my character’s was sick and Ann Dee’s was absent. But then there was one that was dead and a couple others I didn’t even see until I read through the novel.
Ann Dee probably knew.
She’s smart that way.
So–to answer the statements above–trust yourself. Trust your partner. Trust the process.
Talk to each other.
Have fun.

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Kyra Leigh, Queen Bee

I’m sorry I’ve been so worthless at the blog.

I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe.

I don’t even have time to write.

How do people manage their time so amazingly, when others {like me} can hardly do what they’re doing as is?
My new promotion at work is kicking the hell out of me. The hours are insane, almost every week I work overtime, and by the time I get home I’m so exhausted I can’t even finish an episode of Chopped.

I’m such a bad pretend writer,

So I would love some advice.

How do you guys handle your time? Where do you fit your writing goals in?

Please share!

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Filed under CLW, Kyra, Life

Writing as a Team

So here’s how Ann Dee and I wrote our first draft.



We were very, very organized. We met together for several hours, plotted carefully, wrote everything down. We kept a log of words, characters, events and both knew where the story was set so well we could see Riverside, Florida, in our heads like a picture. We knew (after our hours planning) the beginning, the middle and the end of the novel. We’ve had to do few corrections because of this.

Lies! Lies, lies, lies!

I never know anything about a book when I start writing. In fact, when I begin any novel, I’m feeling my way along, listening to the character, seeing if I’m interested in stalking her for 250 pages.

It was no different in this book with Ann Dee.

In fact, we started out writing a dystopian–each writing just one section (all about food, mind you). Then Ann Dee, who was uncomfortable with the topic because of world events, set the idea aside and started something new. (I think we’ll write that other book at some point. The idea is dark and different for both of us and we’ve decided we want to write the thing we aren’t as comfortable with when we write together. But we might not. Who knows?)

That first chapter came from her and I had to decide if I took the novel from where Ann Dee ended or if I backed up in time a little. Howq was I going to tell my character’s story when the novel wasn’t–at this moment–about my character at all?

Writing with Ann Dee gave me permission to push my character, push the situation she was in. As I wrote, as we wrote, we discovered so much. Daddies–all kinds of daddies–good, dead, dying, crummy. All kinds of mommas–neglectful, fat, liars, the kind that ignore problems and grandchildren, the kind that dote. Two lonely preteens who need someone and happen to find the wacky kid next door. Girls who search for mysteries and solve problems they didn’t even know were there or didn’t even know they had the strength to solve.

I lead the novel in one direction, and during our first gentle rewrite decided (after talking to Ann Dee), that direction had to change. We made the book more mid grade by cutting out that plot point and now, in this last rewrite we’ll make the book solidly middle grade.

What I’m saying, I guess, is that YOU decide how you want to write with your partner. However, I’d make sure that you and the person you write with are equally balanced. This isn’t a “I got an idea for a book, why don’t you write it,” kind of deal. You each need to carry the weight of the book. That’s what I found so cool. When we finished that first draft I was surprised we’d written 50,000 + words because the weight was equally distributed between us.

Ann Dee did worry a little more than I did. In fact, when we got through with the book I was like, “Let’s send this off to my agent for a read-thru!”

Ann Dee blanched. “Now?”

“Sure, why not.”

“It’s not ready.”

“I know, but it’s close.”

“But . . . it has plot problems.”

“Who needs a plot? We have these two great characters.”


So now you and your writing partner will work on your ideas. Will you plan heavily or just follow along and see what’s gonna happen? What are each of your strengths? Do you both love to write? Both write often? What is your partnership goal for this week? Ann Dee and I can’t wait to find out.



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Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Exercises, Plot, Revision, Voice