Monday, December 10, 2012

New Blog Over at WordPress

Hi everyone,
I'm sorry for not posting for awhile. I've been working on a project.
(Well, several projects, but one that directly affects this blog.)

I have a new blog!
If you still want to follow me and read my posts, head over to

It's a blog that's less about writing and more about life, but I still plan to talk about writing every now and then. If for nothing else, add it to your RSS reader for the free pop-up card templates I'm working on.

So far, I've posted about pop-up cards, writing, a halloween flash fiction post, and will soon be posting about Rwanda.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April has come

As many of you probably know by now, April is Poetry month!
I'll attempt to write a poem a day during this month, and I'll share my favorites on this blog.

Since I'm starting a little late, I have some catching up to do.

Off to see if I can find some inspiration in the refrigerator! (Lunch time) :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

6 ways to combat lies about reading

Reading is Like Eating Vegetables

I talked with a friend recently who showed me her writing. When I asked her how much she read, she said that she's not really a reader and finding time to read is difficult.

I totally understand that excuse, having once been in that mindset myself. Writing is just putting words onto a computer, right? So why do I need to read? Wouldn't reading take time away from my writing?

The truth is, reading is what helps fuel the fire of inspiration. A lot of writers wait for inspiration to strike before writing. I know that if you want to make it as a professional writer, you can't wait for inspiration. But you can give yourself more inspiration by reading.

Excuses I used to have against reading:
1. It takes too much time, and I'd rather be writing.
2. There aren't any books I want to read. That's why I'm a writer: I'm writing the book that I want to read.
3. There's no way to know if a book will be worth my time or not.
4. Subconsciously: Any book I read that's good only makes me jealous.
5. Books are too expensive and/or heavy.

I made my New Year's resolution to read at least two books per month, if not more. It is now the beginning of March and I'm happy to say I have kept to that resolution. (I hope soon to increase my reading to one book per week.)

Reading more has made an incredible difference. I was lacking voice and had no idea how to teach myself that. But now after reading a few different authors and recognizing their different voices, I've begun to cultivate a voice of my own.

Voice is one of those tricky things in writing that's hard to define, nearly impossible to teach, and will make or break a book. If writing was a religion, voice would be the straight and narrow path that few find which leads to everlasting writing.

So if voice is so important and so difficult to learn, and reading teaches us about voice, why are there so many excuses against taking the time to read?

Here are some things I've found help me combat the stubborn lies about reading that keep me from enjoying fabulous books:

1. Reading a book will ALWAYS be worth my time.

2. Reading doesn't actually take all that long. Even if I only spend five minutes per day (you can find five minutes to read, can't you?), it's worth it.

3. Books don't have to be expensive or heavy. There are Libraries, eBooks which are cheaper (and more portable), and secondhand book stores. I tend to browse bookstores for ideas of what to read and of what's current, then go to the Library or secondhand stores to actually buy the books (or see if they're cheaper online).

4. If I really don't have time to read at all, then I need to get audiobooks. I can at least listen in the car on my way to and from work. 

5. If I feel jealous or spiteful towards a book because it's better than my own writing, then that's actually a good thing. It means I'm expanding my horizons, making myself uncomfortable, and getting a bigger perspective on how good writing can actually be. Reading raises the bar of what I expect from my own writing.

6. If I don't read, my writing dies. And I don't want that to happen, right?

For awhile I set an alarm on my phone to go off every evening, reminding me to take at least ten minutes to read. Whatever I was in the middle of, I'd stop and take ten minutes. If after ten minutes I still wasn't in the mood to read, I would stop and continue what I had been doing. More often, though, I was able to keep reading and voila! I had just found time in my day to read a chapter or two.

The truth is, if something is important enough in my life, I will make time for it. If writing is really important to me, then I will make time for the things that support my writing lifestyle, like reading.

Monday, December 12, 2011

This past week has been a lot of firsts for me...

First flat tire
First time eating at Five Guys restaurant (most awesome burger place ever!)
First time seeing Muppets Christmas Carol
First time editing a first draft from a printed version

I've had first drafts before. I can thank five years of doing NaNoWriMo for that. But this is the draft that has gone further than all other drafts, and so I feel it's a new level of editing for me. It's also the largest first draft I've ever written, which makes the task that much more exciting and daunting.

I outlined this novel for a long time and planned out every process of how I was going to write it. And the planning worked well. But now I'm realizing I have not planned out a single bit of how I'm going to go about making it better.

After doing some research online and listening to some friends' advice, here's my battle plan:

1. Read through casually without making any editing marks, but take notes on my most common mistakes.
2. Come up with a way to remedy those mistakes and write the second draft focusing only on those.

Do any of my readers have experience with editing first drafts? Got any advice for me?

I'll let you know how it goes. Also, even though some people might argue that editing manuscripts is the same on a computer screen as it is on the printed page, if nothing else having my entire novel printed out somehow seems empowering. The words are there, unchangeable. My story is now permanent. Looking at printed pages also enables me to make notes with fancy calligraphy pens. That's something you can't do on a computer screen.

Jo's Finished Manuscript
(This scene from Little Women is what I've always dreamed my manuscript would look like one day)

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'd like the feeling in my bum back, please...

It's been five days after the end of NaNoWriMo, and I think I'm just now recovering. It sure was one exciting month.

There were really two goals I was aiming for: 80k words and finishing the actual story line. I didn't make the second one. There are still three chapters at the end of my plot line that are only outline stubs. I hope to fix that in the coming weeks.

But the first one, I definitely made that goal.

On the last day, I managed to set a new personal record for how many words I have written in a day, at 18,216. That was done at the fabulous write-in at Dunn Bros coffee house in Eden Prairie. It was a LOT of sitting still while drinking caffeine, and having word wars every half hour, and writing straight for about six hours without stopping. In the craziness of it, I didn't bother to switch scenes at all. My characters ended up in a subterranean secret labyrinth navigating their way through using an audio-guided tour that says things like "This tunnel was dug in 1872 just before the Steamclot mining company went bankrupt. Please move to the left to avoid being impaled."
I also made up a mythical creature and put it in the labyrinth, because all labyrinths should have some kind of mythical creature stalking them, right?

Though it gets wacky at times, I am so happy about my book. And proud that I pushed myself this year to go above and beyond what I thought I could do.

My final word count? 102,173!

Thank you to everyone who has cheered me on, supported me this past month while I let things like housekeeping and phone calls slip away from me. This was very important to me and you all got that. I thank you very much for the freedom to do what I love to do with complete abandon one month out of the year. It's not everyone who gets to do that, and YOU made it possible!

Congratulations to all NaNoWriMo participants and winners! Remember, if you didn't make the word count you were hoping for, at least you wrote more words because of NaNo than you otherwise would have written, and that makes you awesome. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Battle plan for the last two days:

1. Fill in the missing parts on my outline.
2. Write like crazy and see if I can still make 100k.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Only 3 days left!!!

NaNoWriMo is nearing its end. I had hoped to post more in the past week, but I decided it was much more important to focus on my writing.
As a result, I wrote 10,000 words in one day!!! That was fun. And exhausting.

Up until now, my experimental method of outlining has proved to be incredibly helpful. But I wimped out on the last part of it, and it's not as detailed as I would like it to be. As I've been used to for the entire month. I'm finding that I'm having to make new decisions after all about how certain things are going to fit into the plot, and how they're going to happen. It's really slowing me down.

I now sit at 80,000 and am hoping to reach 100,000 still before midnight on Wednesday. Meaning I will have to write 6,667 words each day. I think I can do it, but even still, wish me luck!