Monday, January 31, 2011

A Busy Muse

Last week I was revisiting a WIP from the summer for some editing.  It is a stand alone sequel to Quest of the Heart (aka Sleeping Handsome).  Saturday morning after I was up and about, my muse dumped a new version of Quest into my mind that will fit much better with this sequel and the others that are floating in my mind.

So, this week finds me writing at least 2 (hopefully 3) chapters of The Ruby Dagger (the weekly chapter exchange project I am working on), as well as getting out this newest version of Quest.

How are things going with you?  Have you completed a WIP only to find a new way to tell the story that starts it closer to the action?  (Mine now starts with the important incident in the first chapter, and will be geared more towards YA than MG-- which is where I needed to go).  Hope your muse is being good to you!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Recipe Friday!

Today's recipe is for a southern dish my husband had at the racetrack in Richmond.  When he came home and told me about "Bologna Burgers" I thought he was crazy.  Then I made one and well... we have them occasionally now.

Bologna Burgers
Bologna slices (1 per each person)- sliced about 1/4-1/2 inch thick
Sliced cheese (I use provolone, but any will work)
Onion sliced
Hard rolls (we get the from a local bakery, but any will work)

In a skillet, cook up your onion (this is optional).  Heat a skillet or frying pan (I use a flat cast iron griddle) and place your bologna slices on.  Turn after a minute or so.  Cut open roll, lay a slice of cheese on each side.  Place bologna and onions on.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I like quotations.  I even have a "Quote of the Day" app on my Google home page.  Some make me laugh, some make me cry, and some make me think. 

Over the last week, I've been watching Criminal Minds (Tivo is a wonderful thing!)  and I've noticed they say a quotation at the beginning of each episode and another at the end.  The quotes usually set up the problem and then are are comment on the resolution. Some are quotes I've heard before, others are new.

Some of my favorite authors put quotes in the opening pages of their books-- a nice set up for what I'm about to read.

What about you?  Are you searching out the perfect quote to put in the front of you book?  Do quotes inspire you?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WCC Wednesday

Thanks for the helpful comments yesterday.  My opinion is you should always have someone who has read your work tell you if it is similar to another author, as they are much more objective about your writing than you are.  I'll let you know in the future what I've decided to do in the query letter.

On to today's post.

Over the weekend I sat down and did some plotting for my current WIP The Ruby Dagger.  I have a hard time writing without any plan of where I am going.  I will say I made it 6 chapters without an outline, but I hit a wall and needed the guidance the loose frame I created will give me.  I know where I am going, but haven't sat down to write out the scenes yet.  Work and life have been keeping me busy this week.  I will get to them in the next few days, though!

Trisha is continuing on with her WIP's and I am enjoying reading her writing and learning from her as I read.

Fiona has listened to our comments (we're doing a weekly internet chat with Trisha and my friend Jackie) and is considering how to adapt them into her WIP.

I've let the ball drop again with Katie.  I missed last weeks chapters, but hope to get two out to her this week.

How are your WIP's coming along?  Are you making progress?  Is life interfering with you?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Welcome! And a Question for You.

Welcome to those of you who are new here, and welcome back to those who've been here for awhile.

This weekend I read a MG book I had gotten out of the library with the intent to see if I could compare my writing to this author's in my query letter.  I read the first few chapters, then skimmed through to the end.  What I found was interesting.  What I read reminded me of an earlier version of my WIP, where I had started too far in the past.

Since then, I've moved my beginning closer to the end (the closest I could without using too many flashbacks.)  I like where I've taken my WIP to, and am pleased with what I've accomplished on my edits.

So, here's my question.  I don't intend to say my WIP is like "SUCH AND SUCH" by "SO AND SO", because it really isn't.  But, would it be a fair comparison to say those who enjoyed "SUCH AND SUCH" by "SO AND SO" would enjoy my WIP as they are similar in theme (both deal with fairytales)?

I'm curious to hear your replies.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Super Bowl XLV

Well, it's official- the Green Bay Packers will be playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Superbowl in two weeks.  (I attribute it to my wearing the black and gold of the Pittsburgh Penguins last weekend and of the Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend to support my husbands team.  I'm sure he would have worn a combination of blue and white to support my Colts had they made it this far, and his team hadn't!)

After watching the playoff games where the scores were either very close, or very far apart, I am hoping for a good, close game.  I want to see good effort from the players and good officiating.

We'll be watching at home with friends, rooting for Pittsburgh (go AFC!) .  How about you?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Recipe Friday!

This week at work we had a visit from  Daisy selling Girl Scout Cookies (Insert shameless plug here :) ) I bought 4 boxes (1 of the new fruit ones, 1 of the peanut butter chocolate ones, and 2 thin mints--notice I have no idea what the names really are!)

So, what does buying cookies have to do with recipes?  Well, we were talking about what we do with thin mints. You know- eat them straight out of the box, or put them in the freezer and pull them out on those hot summer days.

Then, and idea came to mind.  We have ice cream novelties called Flying Saucers (you may have them too, but might call them something else!).  They are cookies (usually chocolate, or chocolate chip) with ice cream between them.  Why not take thin mints and sandwich ice cream between them for Mini-Flying Saucers?

So, here is my suggestion for Mini-Flying Saucers.

Thin mints (or Grasshoppers, or other chocolate mint cookie- or any cookie, really!)
Ice cream (I was thinking vanilla, or chocolate, or even mint chip (if you want super minty!))
Small scoop (melon baller) or spoon

Scoop ice cream onto a cookie.  Place another cookie on top an squish together.  Keep frozen until ready to eat.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I recently entered a critique contest.  After I received the comments I talked about them with one of my trusted beta's  and a good friend who's familiar with my WIP.  It took a question from my beta reader to really make me question my sanity?

Did I know what the person who was reading my work wrote?  The answer, I'm ashamed to say, was no.  I really knew nothing about the person-- had just entered to get another perspective on my work.

I realized after answering this question that I was the one who dropped the ball.  If I was sending my MS to an agent, I would research and send it to someone who represents MG Fantasy, not Adult Sci-fi.

Now, the comments weren't horrible, and a few of them were quite valid (and I have made some corrections based on them).  But, I would have been better served to know ahead of time more about the person and their writing.

Have you ever just sent work out to be read without knowing anything about the reader?  Did you learn anything from the comments you received?  Would you do it again, or would you take the time to learn more about the person first?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WCC Wednesday

First- I have to give a thank you to my husband for suggesting yesterday's blog topic-- Thanks Honey!

This week, has been an interesting one.  I've been working on a new WIP that my readers have been reading, and three of us have done an on-line chat on the weekend-- kind of like a writer's group, but on-line.

The good news was my critique partners like my new WIP, and Trisha told me it starts in a good place-- as close to the end as possible.  I am writing this one as it comes- no outline to speak of, and my characters are only loosely based on the sketches I made for NaNo.

Trisha has been doing an amazing job of juggling several WIPs.  I am always amazed by her talent.  I have learned so much about writing just from reading her work, and the comments she has made on mine.

Fiona is working through another round of edits, and we have been discussing things to improve her story.  Looking at it now (after reading the entire work) I can see places I missed commenting on in the beginning that would have helped her more.  I realize it is my own growth in writing that is helping me see this now, and wish I could have been of more help to her a few months ago.

I've been working through Katie's WIP, and am pleased to say I have gotten a few chapters back to her.  She has been very understanding, and I appreciate it.  We have talked at length about word choices and making sure your scenes move your story along.

How have your WIPs been going?  Have you had to make major revisions?  Started a new writing group?  Gained a new critique partner?  Have you seen changes in your critiquing as your writing skill has grown?  What do you know now that you didn't a month ago?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Yesterday morning, I woke up to the radio announcer telling me it was 0 degrees outside (that's Fahrenheit for my Canadian friends.)  So, I snuggled under the warm blankets for a bit more before shuffling out to the kitchen.

As I looked outside at the two maple trees between my house and my neighbors, I realized it looked cold.  The sky was perfectly clear, not a cloud to be seen.  The trees were facing where the sun was rising, and looked like dark shadows.  The snow glistened white in the morning light.  It was the type of scene where you knew if a person was standing there, their breath would hover around them in a white cloud.

What does the weather look like where you are?

Monday, January 17, 2011

To cut or not to cut!

So you've spent weeks and months slaving over your WIP, tightening up your writing, removing all the unnecessary words.  Then you send it out to your beta readers and they say..."I think it would be better if you took this out."

Your heart thumps in your chest as you think of the long hours you spent slaving over the keyboard to get that section just right.  You brain yells, "No!  I can't take that out.  It's too important.  I need it."

Then you take a breath, and you read through the section, and you think about it, and you realize your beta reader is right.  It would be better without that section.  It slows down the pace, it's too much backstory, it has no further development.  So you take it out and you tweak what is there, and your work is better for it.

That was me this weekend.  At first I tried to write into the scene to make it more interesting, more important.  Then, as I was folding clothes, I realized the pacing was off.  I had wanted to leave the scenes in to show the passage of time, but that was easily done with a few well placed words.  I ended up cutting almost 2000 words, but in the end it is for the best.

How about you?  Have you hesitated on cutting a section, even if it would improve your work?  Did you give in to that knee jerk reaction of, "I can't!  I put too much time into that!"?  If you had to cut a huge section again, would you?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Recipe Friday!

Last weekend I noticed I had some mushrooms in the fridge that needed to be used up, so I decided to make soup with them.  This recipe yielded me 2 servings of soup.  It is on the thin side, but I will give you some ways to thicken it up, if you want it thicker.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 pkg mushrooms, sliced or chopped into smaller pieces (I think I had about 8 oz)
1 pkg beef stock (16 oz) or 2 beef bullion cubes and 2 cups of water (I used the bullion, but have used stock before)

1-2 cups half  'n' half (or cream, or milk)
Romano or Asiago cheese

In a sauce pan heat up the beef stock (or the bullion) and add the mushrooms.  Add the half 'n' half and bring to a boil.  Grate in cheese as desired.  (I probably put in a 1/4 to a 1/2 cup using some of each of the cheeses.)  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

If you want a thicker soup, you can cook it longer to boil off the liquid, or reduce the water you add for the bullion.  You could also add flour or cornstarch to thicken the soup.  (I'd start at a teaspoon and increase as necessary.  Be careful not to add to much as it can change the taste of the soup.)

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It was a cold and snowy day!

It's cold and snowy here, but that's January in New York for you.  This week has gone by quite quickly.  I started back with my walking (a bit more consistently) and am doing the 100 push-up routine.  (I am at level one, and resort to girlie push-ups as I do not have the ability yet to do normal ones-- my goal is to be able to do at least 1 real push up by the time I'm done with this routine.)

I worked on my query letter following the worksheets from Elana Johnson.  They are a great help, so if you are having problems, be sure to check out her book From the Query to the Call.  It's a great resource.  Trisha and I exchanged comments on it last night, and I have some more work to do, but I feel like I am getting closer.

For those of you who might have missed it, WriteOnCon is having a chat Monday, January 24 at 5 PM.  Holly McGhee, Elena Mechlin, and Joan Slattery of Pippin Properties, Inc. will be there to discuss query writing do’s and dont’s and what they’re looking for!  Hope to see you there!

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WCC Wednesday

Today I am sending a special Thank You to Elana Johnson for the book she wrote, From the Query to the Call.  You can download it for free from her website.  I read through it last night, and have already seen areas of my query letter that can be improved from her advice.

 Now onto my regularly scheduled post!

I have been working on my NaNo project and reworking it.  So far this week, most of my writing has been in my head.  Work and life have been quite busy, so getting my thoughts onto paper has been a challenge.  I was able to get three chapters done and off to my critique partners over the weekend, so here's hoping I can get my next three done before this weekend.  I am working this version as a panster, and I find myself second guessing a lot.  I enjoy seeing where my characters are taking me, but I had to rein them in as they wanted to rush some things I think need to wait to play out.

Trisha sent of the first chapter of a new work for me to look at (one she's co-authoring which I think is soooo cool!)  She is quite a talented author, and I can't wait to read the edits she has been working on for her agent.

Fiona is tweaking her WIP and will be sending me more as soon as she has it ready.

Katie and I have been talking about some changes for her WIP, and I am still getting back to her with edits on the remainder of what I have.

How are your WIP's going?  Are you panster-ing it?  Or, do you have a detailed plot summary you are following?  What are the pros and cons you've found for your writing style?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

That Dreaded Query

After writing and editing and tweaking some more, it is now time for me to tackle that dreaded query.  Why dreaded, you ask?  Because it's that one chance you have to WOW the agent of your dreams.  The one chance to say, "Hey!  You really want to read this!"  And you only have one page to do it in. One page to sum up the 40,000 (or more, if you write YA or Adult fiction.)

I've ready many samples at Query Shark, and had a round of critics done on a former query at Writer's Digest's Query Critique.  I read a book over the weekend, and I've read interviews with agents about the subject.  And what have I found?  There are a wide variety of things that make a query work and that make it go straight to the slush pile.  What works for one query may not work for another.

So, what's a writer to do?  Well, I am writing mine out, tweaking it, sharing it with my beta readers, tweaking it again, until it shines and conveys my story to the best of my abilities.

How about you?  Do you dread writing the query or look forward to it introducing you to that perfect agent?
What key have you found for writing your query?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hodge Podge

Well, it's official, pending a physical and a drug test (I am certain I can pass both), I have a new job!  I have been doing this job since Thanksgiving week (with the exception of 1 day a week), so it won't be a big change to my schedule as it was then.  I think I have found a way to juggle my working, my family, and my writing--so, if I don't get a post up in the morning, this is why!

My team went out in the first round of the playoffs-- oh well, there's always next year.  I didn't think they were going to make it into the playoffs in the first place.

Last week, I was at Trisha's blog and saw her post on the Comment Challenge.  If you haven't seen it yet, check it out!  (My current count as of Sunday afternoon was 5 comments for Friday and Saturday combined.  I obviously have some catching up to do!)

I did some reading over the weekend on Query Letters, and am doing some research on Middle Grade fiction.  I am hoping to be querying again in the next few weeks.  Expect to see some posts on these topics in the near future!

Hope you all have a Happy Monday!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Recipe Friday!

Did you ever go to your cupboard intending to make one dish, only to find you didn't have all the ingredients you needed?  That was me yesterday.  I had the pasta happily boiling on the stove, the cans of tuna ready to go in, the frozen peas waiting to cook, but when I looked in the cupboard for the cream of mushroom soup to combine it all, the cupboard was bare!

Have no fear, the fridge yielded cheddar cheese and half 'n' half, so all was well with the world, and my Cheesy Tuna Casserole was born.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Cheesy Tuna Casserole
Cook your pasta and drain (I used about  half a box of Barilla's Fusilli).  In same pot, add about 1 cup (more if you use more pasta) half 'n' half and about 1-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (I used about 1/4 of a 2 lb bag of shredded cheese), stirring until melted.  Drain two cans of tuna and add to cheese mixture.  Mix pasta into cheese mixture.  (You can add peas if you want, we had them on the side and they were scrumptious!)


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Change of plans

Well, there I was, working away at editing my NaNo project and  fixing the flat/missing characters, fleshing out the scenes, when Fiona tells me to consider trying MG (middle grade) instead of YA (young adult).  I think about it, and think about it, and push it aside.  I continue to work in the middle of my first two chapters, rewording and cutting things out while my mind keeps telling me how I should start my story.  And my mind (or muse, as I later found out) keeps saying, "What you have is good, but what I want you to do is better!"

Then, last night as I was laying in bed, drifting off to sleep, my muse taunted me again with the opening words, then it pulled back to show me the 14 year old girl hearing them said.

So, today I wrote the opening words my muse insisted on, and continued on with this now younger MC.  My entire thoughts on the story have been tossed aside for something that seems better- something I am excited about writing.  I have no idea where this Moira (that's my MC's name) is taking me, but I've already learned some new things about her.  In this world of knights, kings, and magic, I found a young girl who is special.  I'm still working out why she's special, and what that means to those around her, but I am excited to go on this journey with her. And isn't that what it's all about???

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

WCC Wednesday

With the holidays the last two weeks, I have gotten very little writing done.  I am working on The Ruby Dagger (my NaNo project).  I still need to get to the end, but first needed to repair some out of character issues and flesh out a few characters a bit more to make their roles more believable.  I am having a hard time getting into the mood to do this work though,  Part of me wishes it was already done so I can finish telling the tale, but another part of me knows I need to get the foundation right so the rest of the story will stand.  In the end, it is a draft, and I will finish it.  Hopefully sooner than later!

Trisha is working away on her WIP, and I am anxiously awaiting another installment.  Fiona has wrapped up her WIP, and I am waiting for new work from her.  Katie is still waiting for me to get back to her on the end of her WIP.  I sent out another chapter to her last night, so I am making progress.

How are your works going?  Have you hit a rough spot?  Lost your way?  Did a turn down a side street lead you to a dead end?  Maybe there's a trap door waiting there for you.  Or a door with a secret knock.  You never know what you might find in a dark alley!  Hmmm- maybe that's the answer!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Where, oh where, has my walking gone???

Well, we're four days into the New Year, and I'm already behind in the exercise department.  I was cutting myself some slack for the first (it was a holiday, after all) and the second, as I was still getting over a cold, but I fully intended to get up early and walk yesterday.

However, I could tell Hubby hadn't turned on the heater to warm up the back porch for me before he left for work (and I completely understand his reasoning why), and the bed was so cozy, so needless to say, no walking occurred.  Not a problem, I'd just walk at night.  Oh, but I needed a haircut (I really did- it hadn't been cut since before Thanksgiving!)  Well, there was only one girl working at the place we went, and while she did a good job, it took a lot longer than I was used to.  So, walking didn't happen.

But, it will.  I will get back on that treadmill and walk and walk and... Well, you get the idea!

How are your goals going?  Have you given up some (it's OK- I understand if you have!)  Are you revising some?  Adding new ones?  Share below!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Well, it's official.  The holidays are finally over in our house.  Yesterday we took the tree down, with the help of our neighbor.  The living room looks much different now.  I always forget how much space things take up!

Now, for the next few weeks, I'll be finding the things we forgot to put away (like the poinsettia sun catcher hanging in my kitchen window!).  Oh, well.  That's the way it goes!

Hope you all had fantastic holidays and are off to a good start with your new year!