Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hello, 2010

2010 is here! (By the way, do you guys say twenty-ten or two-thousand ten? Just wondering...)

Here are my goals for this year!

1 Write everyday
Last year one of my goals was to 'write more'. Yeah. Vague, I know. Since I have accomplished that (and because vagueness doesn't help the accomplishment of goals) this year I want to write steadily. Ideally, I will be writing 1K/day everyday. But things could come up, and that may be difficult to stick to, so my goal is to write everyday. If all I can manage is a paragraph, then good, at least I got that paragraph. If I can get a chapter or two in, even better. I just want to keep writing.

2 Blog several times per week
My posting habits are sporadic and spotty at best, so this coming year I want to blog more. Why? I'll claim that it's a wonderful way to keep in touch with the publishing world and network with other aspiring authors. But really, it's a fun way to procrastinate. Also, I love reading all of your comments! I'm going to try to comment more on other's blogs, because I'm not very good at that. I do read all the blogs I follow everyday in my Google Reader. I mean, I do follow 150+ blogs, so on any given day there's upwards of 70 new posts. Yikes! But I love staying in the loop of things. I can't promise daily blogs (I don't have that many interesting things to say!) But I will try to post at least 2 times a week.

3 Set monthly goals
Each month I'm going to set word count and story progress goals for myself. I'll do this at the beginning of the month after reviewing my word count and progress from the previous month so each set of goals is customized by how much work I am willing/able to do at that particular time. This adds two posts per month to my 'blog more' goal: the monthly goals at the beginning of the month, and the wrap up at the end of the month. (Yay, blog filler!)

4 Finish Blood Ties and two other drafts
This should not be that hard. Blood Ties only has 10-15K left, so finishing it up (when I get around to it, anyway) will not take that long. I was going to aim for Blood Ties plus three or four drafts, but two drafts will be challenging yet totally attainable. Plus, it's always awesome to exceed the goals you set for yourself, so if I do manage to write three or four drafts, I'll just be that much happier.

5 Revise two manuscripts
Because I'm planning to finish three drafts, I'd like to set another goal to revise/edit/polish two of those drafts. I'd like to query a project (most likely BT) by spring.

6 Reading Challenges and Book Reviews
I signed up for several reading challenges this year (check the sidebar) and I would like to complete them! I'll be posting reviews of some (but not all) of the books. Most likely when a book is extremely awesome, depressingly horrid, or if I have nothing else to say. (Woo, more blog filler!)

7 The usuals
Eat less crappy food, spend less money on frivolous unnecessary things, (thankfully books do not fall under this category!) exercise more, (or, you know, at all) read more, keep the apartment cleaner (my boyfriend requested this one of me) and finally, I'd like to save more money for the future.

Woo. That's a lot! I'm gonna be busy.

Next week I will be posting my January goals, the best books I read in 2009 and the ones I'm most looking forward to in 2010, Hunger Game theories and why I am Team Peeta all the way, and I'll be participating in the No Kiss Blogfest!

See ya next year :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009: The End

Hello all! I hope your holidays went well!

Did you guys know my blog is a year old? Wow. A whole year of blogging. Though the good posts didn't really start until January-- there are only two posts from the year 2008. One is poetry (Ack.) The other is me claiming that winter had frozen my brain, hence I could not write.

How far I've come. :)

The following is a semi-coherent list of things I've done in 2009.

* Made a vague resolution to "write more"
* Entered a query contest for 140 characters or less on agent Colleen Lindsay's blog. I entered the log line for Untouched, which at that point was only an outline. I didn't win, but I did get an honorable mention. Awesome!
* Got my first follower! (Then followed my own blog so I had two followers)
* Wrote about 15K on Untouched

* Set goals for myself (among them the very helpful 1K/day goal)
* Wrote a couple posts on how I brainstorm ideas
* Turned twenty-one!
* Joined Critique Circle
* Got to 38K on Untouched

* Posted about books influencing writing, random story ideas I had, what is "hookable", and accidental themes (among other things)
* Broke 50K on Untouched

* Posted about #amazonfail, what is appropriate for YA, how badly I was failing at my 1K/day goal (5K in a month), how to write in an active voice, plus several excerpts from Untouched

* Started off the month with something new-- an excerpt from what soon became known as "Burn". I've tweaked it a bit, but to this day it is still one of my favorite pieces of my own writing
* Posted about titles, writing epiphany, ending your novel, how I need my muse to hold my hand, hated Untouched, loved Untouched, hated Untouched again, wrote about outlining
* Got Untouched up to 69K

* Finished Untouched!
* Talked about queries, betas, and how I imagined my characters would look

* Jumped between projects because I didn't know what to write after finishing Untouched
* Started querying

* Queried more
* Still couldn't settle on just one idea
* Wrote about the different types of stories

* Started thinking about NaNoWriMo
* Researched questions to ask when you get THE CALL
* Sent out the last batch of queries (to which I'm still receiving responses)
* Posted about log lines and how much of your novel you should share online
* Wrote up a 7K word phase outline for a project known as The Temper

* Came up with my NaNo idea
* Decided I wanted to write a perfect first draft (HA!)
* Reached my 100th blog post!
* Wrote about the price wars between amazon and wal-mart, recreated some book covers for a contest, and set some really crazy goals for the month of November
* Started a new project (Blood Ties) and broke 40K by the end of the month

* Went insane
* Wrote 20K on Blood Ties
* Wrote 50K on Plural of Love, then deleted about 30K
* Won NaNoWriMo!
* Signed up for some reading challenges for 2010
* Tried Unplug Week, didn't like it. I'm addicted to the internet.

* Was burned out from writing. Took a break.
* Wrote up a nice long post on my outline process
* Participated in National Kissing Blogfest Day
* Did a lot of Real Life stuff (work, family, holidays)
* Realized I wasn't going to finish a second novel by the end of the year. Moped. Stopped working on Plural and Blood Ties to pick up an old project (Temper)

Wow. What a year!

Now, to wrap it all up, I leave you with my projects and their word counts!

Untouched @ 74,588 (Complete)
Blood Ties @ 61,295
Plural of Love @ 21,467
First Breath @ 15,798
Awakening @ 13,019
Temper @ 10,691
Wanted @ 10,005
After Life @ 9,844
Burn @ 2,809
Into The Sunrise @ 2,609
Kai of Chaos @ 2,258
Identity Crisis @ 2,121

(Note: Not all of these words were written in 2009. But most of them were. Also, I'm leaving out a ton of story beginnings/scraps that have word counts under 1K.)

Coming up next: Goals for 2010! See you soon!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Underneath The Mistletoe

Today is Official Kissing Blogfest Day! Yay! Kissing!

So here is my excerpt, from my WiP Blood Ties...

* * * * * * * * * *

I nod and give him a small smile. Yes, I will dance with Tristan. I will allow myself this moment.

I stand and give in to the dance, to Tristan. He pulls me and spins me and twirls me as the music swells all around us. And it works. It calms me down. It's like I'm back home, in the classroom, desks pushed to the wall, while Tristan teaches me how to dance. Then the music slows and he stops twirling me so far away. He pulls me closer, so we're pressed together, his arms wrapped tightly around my waist, and my arms draping over his shoulders. And then he catches my eye, and the moment is just perfect.

Before I know what's happening, his lips are pressed against mine. I've never kissed a boy before, so I didn't know what to expect. But I didn't expect this. This floating feeling like the butterflies in my stomach have taken to the air and I'm flying up into the sky with them. But that's not what surprises me most. What surprises me most is how I respond. Because I don't hesitate to kiss him right back. Tangling my fingers in his hair. Crushing my lips to his. And pulling him closer; as close as he can get. Because if I let him go, if he lets me go, I'm not sure what would happen. Maybe I would float away.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still To Come (Also, Linkspam)

An overwhelming majority of you guys want posts on writing process and revision process. So I will happily oblige, but not until January. Come January, I'll start a series of posts that detail my writing process from idea to query. Fun stuff.

As for the rest of December, I'm planning a 2009 wrap up post, and a 2010 goals post.

So stay tuned!

For now, I will leave you with some fantastic writerly links. Enjoy!

* * * * * * * * * *

I'm sure everyone knows about the Kindle. But did you guys know offers several books for FREE on the Kindle? Cool, huh. Well, if you have a kindle. Then they offered a FREE Kindle on PC download. Awesome. I tried it, and I think it's great. They offer a lot of classics for FREE (Pride and Prejudice, A Christmas Carol, Little Women) and every now and then they offer other bestsellers for FREE (Maximum Ride 1, My Soul To Lose, [the prologue to Rachel Vincent's My Soul To Take] and Fireflies in December [Which was sooo good!])

If you've never heard of Dr. Wicked's Writing Lab, check that out. It will help you write. Or else.

This site is great for story starters and ideas and prompts and whatnot.

Casting the Bones has lots of fiction writing tips and tricks, and plenty of helpful articles (Leaving Out The Parts People Skip, Writing Query Letters That Work, When Will I Be On Oprah).

Television tropes and idioms (plotting info!)

Need a random/crazy/magical/spooky item? Search the basement.

Need an apocalypse? Go here.

Want a cool writing prompt site? Go here.

Need inspiration? Wanna hear about how hard writing is? Desperate for some writing advice? Quotes about writing is the place to go.

* * * * * * * * * *

All right! Well, I hope you are all thoroughly entertained. I'll be back sometime next week with end-of-year type posts. Catch you later!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In Which I Pretend I'm J.K. Rowling

Heya! So yesterday in the comments Vicky S. asked me how I outline.

*Cracks knuckles* Okay. Hold on tight.

First, I start with my story idea. Whether that is sparked by a character, a world, a scene, a line of dialogue or a theme, I always start with plot basics. I'll be using a well known book to demonstrate how I outline, so you can get a sense of how much detail I write in the outline, and what the outcome is once I type it up. So, for demonstration purposes, I'm going to pretend I wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. *Grins*

I start with a sketchy chapter by chapter outline that might look something like this:

1. Intro Dursleys, weird occurrences, late at night, baby Harry defeated Vold., left on doorstep
2. 10 yrs. later, cousin's Bday, go to zoo, talk to snake/free snake
3. Uncle mad, letter arrives for Harry, uncle freaks! More letters, family runs from letters
4. Hagrid shows up, tells Harry about Hogwarts, Harry learns the truth about parents
5. Harry goes to Diagon Alley, bank, Hagrid gets package, meet Draco, gets Hedwig, gets a wand

So that's just the first five chapters, but I do one line summaries of each chapter for the whole story. Usually my chapters are long (+4K words) so I plan 15-20 chapters. Sometimes chapters get combined, or divided in half.

Once I have my whole story outlined, I read through it and play the whole thing out in my head, adding notes and details. Using the above example, I might brainstorm what the "weird occurrences" in chapter one are. In this case they are: owls behaving oddly, "fireworks", cat reading map, people dressed funny, etc. I would also work out how the uncle attempts to run from letters: boarding up mail slot, going to a hotel, boating to tiny shack on island.

When I feel like I have a solid basic outline I decide on character names, if I haven't already. If I have a clear image of the opening chapter, then I jump right in, without brainstorming much more. Otherwise I embellish a bit more. When I reach a chapter that hasn't been marinating in my brain very long, I do a detailed chapter outline, like so:

5. Harry wakes up in shack, thinks maybe it was a dream, Hagrid is there! Hagrid takes Harry to shore, explaining about Ministry of Magic, goblins, etc. Harry looks at list of supplies for school, lots of books, robes, wand, cauldron, and more. Go to Diagon Alley, meet Prof. Quirrell. First stop bank, Harry gets gold, Hagrid gets package for Hogwarts. Robe fitting, meet Draco, Draco is a snobby punk. Hagrid explains Quidditch, gives Harry owl. Wands next, Harry's wand and Vold's wand connected. Harry goes home back to Dursleys until school starts.

If I ever get blocked, or don't know what to do I'll write out a very detailed chapter/scene synopsis, similar to phase outlining. In phase outlining you write a sentence (less than 30 words) then expand it into about 250 words.

Here's an example using something I actually wrote, so I can put the whole text:

First, the phase:

Elle approaches window, peeks through, realizes the window has a magic barrier around it, wonders how to disarm it. (19 words)

Then, the text:

I squeeze between the house and the shop to its left. The space is barely large enough for my scrawny self to fit, but I manage. I slide along between the buildings until I come to a window I can peek through. Not a single light is on, but I can tell from the array of furniture that this window leads to the living room. When I take a moment to listen carefully I notice a slight humming noise. Instinctively, I lean back from the window. It's protected by something.

I reach into my pocket and pull out a small handful of ordinary pebbles. Then I toss them, one at a time, ever so softly, at the window. They never hit the glass; they rebound off an invisible force field with a crack and a hiss. After putting the remaining stones back into my pocket I stop to think. How do I disarm this?

I can't imagine that the charm to disable this is very complex. Theoretically speaking, this house should be one of the safest in all of Darkon's middle class district. Right in the center of the city, surrounded by merchant shops-- who would try to steal from them? I don't know as much about the city's laws as I should, but if the cost for being outside past curfew is paid in fingers, then I suppose the punishment for stealing might be paid in arms. You'd never steal again. As if you could. (250 words)

Phase outlining is my favorite form of outlining. You work out the whole story ahead of time, and when you draft instead of wondering "what happens next?" you can spend more time focusing on prose and sentence structure. Not only does it help you work out any plot problems ahead of time, but because you're not worrying about going in the wrong direction, you can focus on choosing the right words, which results in a much more polished first draft.

Read more about phase outlining here: It's Just a Phase.

My advice? Research different methods of outlining. Try different methods of outlining. Try writing without an outline. Play around with different techniques until you find the right one for you.

Also, I know many of you are in the revision process right now (what with NaNo being over and all that) so here's another link I found very helpful: One-Pass Manuscript Revision. I like this technique because I feel that it goes well with phase outlining. A one-pass revision isn't going to work if you need to restructure the whole story and change several major elements, but if the plot is pretty solid from start to finish, and you can be brutal with the chopping of words, then give it a try.

If you want to kind of outline, but also want to write on the fly, try writing down the following before you begin (From One-Pass Revision by Holly Lisle):

*Write down your theme in fifteen words or less. Some of my regular themes are Love Conquers Evil, God Is A Good Guy with Bad PR, Self-Sacrifice Is the Highest Form of Love, and The Individual Can Change the World.

*If you have sub-themes and know what they are, write them down too. I usually have one theme and from three to six sub-themes, depending on the length and complexity of the project. You may have more or less.

*Write down what the book is about in twenty-five words or less. This is not as impossible as it sounds – the micro-summary for the 375,000 word Secret Text Trilogy was “Werewolf Romeo and Juliet versus Renaissance Godfather in the jungle, with magic.” Twelve words.

*Write down a one-line story arc for the book’s main character. The story arc for Kait Galweigh in the Secret Text Trilogy is “Kait battles her own nature, magic, her family’s enemies, and resurrected wizards from her world’s past, finds unlikely love, and at terrible cost, saves her world.”

*Write down the main characters, and a paragraph of no more than about 250 words describing the story, sort of like the blurb on the back of a paperback.

If you keep these in mind while you write, your ms will be more unified, and it will be easier to determine if each scene adds to story/setting/character/theme.

* * * * * * * * * *

Woo! So there you have it! This is a very long post on how I outline. Be sure to check out the links, and if you're interested, check out some writing forums. No doubt you'll find plenty of advice on outlining (some bad, some good, some crazy, I'm sure).


Do you outline? How?

If you're an "on the fly" writer, what is your writing process like? (I just can't wrap my head around it! I'm an obsessive note-taker!)

Would you ever try Phase Outlining? What about a One-Pass Revision?

Also, if you have any questions for me, feel free to ask! :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo: WIN??

Yes. NaNoWriMo was a win. In some ways.

First, it was a technical NaNoWriMo win-- I wrote 50K words on a new project for November. It was also a win because they were good words. I read through what I have on Plural and I find myself enjoying it, even though I know it needs some work. (For starters, the first 1/4 is in past tense, the rest written in present.) It was a win because it was good writing practice. It was a win because I kept up a nice writing pace.

Now the non-win part.

The whole second half-- seriously, twenty-five thousand words-- needs to be scrapped. OUCH. Some of the scenes, some of the dialogue may be recycled-- but not in this story. Halfway through I changed direction, and started writing something else. So there may be some usable scraps in there, but not much.

So at the end of the month, instead of having 50K words of crap writing I have 25K words of not-crap writing and the clear direction of where to take this story. This is pretty good. Though I am setting what's left of Plural aside for right now. I learned that I really do best when writing only project at a time. Juggling stories, characters, voices, etc. didn't work out so well for me. I could do it, but it was harder to get into the right mood for each separate WiP. I found my self thinking in Elle's voice, when I should have been focusing on Claire's, and vice versa. It's crazy enough that I already have voices in my head, I don't need them fighting for attention.

I've also come to the realization that I should always, always, outline. Writing on the fly works for me for the first part of the story-- but after that I need to step away, review what I've written and determine where it's going. Plus, I really like outlining. It's fun. And even though I outline, the story always ends up surprising me along the way.

So. That's the result of my NaNoWriMo attempt.

Did you win? What do you consider a "win"?

Peace and Reese's Pieces,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

2010 Debut Author Challenge

This is my favorite challenge: reading books by debut authors in 2010!

Find out more about the 2010 Debut Author Challenge!

My list:
1. Stephanie Perkins (Ana and the French Kiss)
2. Caitlin Kittredge (The Witch's Alphabet)
3. Rachel Hawkins (Hex Hall)
4. Kiersten White (Paranormalcy)
5. Andrea Cremer (Nightshade)
6. Heidi R. Kling (Sea)
7. Carrie Vaughn (Voices of Dragons)
8. Kristin Walker (A Match Made in High School)
9. Leah Cypess (Mistwood)
10. Shaun David Hutchinson (The Deathday Letter)
11. Chelsea M. Campbell (The Rise of Renegade X)
12. Alexandra Bracken (Brightly Woven)
13. Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall)
14. Jennifer Hubbard (The Secret Year)
15. Suzanne Young (The Naughty List)
16. Bree Despain (The Dark Divine)
17. Kimberly Derting (The Body Finder)

Awesome Author Reading Challenge

The goal of this challenge is to read books by authors you've heard are great, but have not yet read.

Find out more about the Awesome Author Challenge!

I'm participating in the Over Achieving bracket by reading more than 10 authors.

My list:
1. Sarah Dessen
2. Maureen Johnson (Suite Scarlett 1/19)
3. Jackson Pearce (Sisters Red 5/28)
4. Melissa Marr
5. Chuck Palahniuk
6. Charlaine Harris
7. R.A. Salvatore (Homeland 4/3)
8. Laini Taylor (Lips Touch 7/27)
9. David Levithan
10. Jane Austen
11. Neil Gaiman
12. Richelle Mead
13. Courtney Summers (Cracked Up To Be 2/9)
14. Justine Larbalestier (Liar 1/7)
15. Aprilynne Pike (Wings 1/1)

100 Books In 2010

I've decided to go book crazy in 2010 by participating in a few reading challenges. First up: 100 books in 2010.

Find out more about the 100+ book challenge!

My list:
1. Wings - Aprilynne Pike - 1/1
2. Liar - Justine Larbalestier - 1/7
3. The Secret Year - Jennifer Hubbard - 1/9
4. Powerless - Matthew Cody - 1/15
5. The Dark Divine - Bree Despain - 1/16
6. Suite Scarlett - Maureen Johnson - 1/19
7. The Host - Stephenie Meyer - 1/26
8. Devilish - Maureen Johnson - 1/31
9. Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld - 2/7
10. Cracked Up To Be - Courtney Summers - 2/9
11. Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver - 2/12
12. An Abundance of Katherines - John Green - 2/16
13. The Naughty List - Suzanne Young - 2/17
14. A Match Made in High School - Kristin Walker - 2/19
15. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld - 2/26
16. Pretties - Scott Westerfeld - 2/27
17. Specials - Scott Westerfeld - 2/28
18. Heist Society - Ally Carter - 3/10
19. The Body Finder - Kimberly Derting - 3/18
20. Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling - 3/24
21. Voices of Dragons - Carrie Vaughn - 3/31
22. Homeland - R.A. Salvatore - 4/3
23. Mistwood - Leah Cypess - 4/6
24. Spells - Aprilynne Pike - 4/10
25. Hex Hall - Rachel Hawkins - 4/14
26. Pretties - Scott Westerfeld - 5/20
27. Sisters Red - Jackson Pearce -5/28
28. As You Wish - Jackson Pearce- 5/31
29. Harry Potter & Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling - 6/4
30. Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - S. Meyer - 6/9
31. Harry Potter & Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling - 6/10
32. Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready - 6/12
33. Harry Potter & Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling - 6/14
34. Rise of Renegade X - Chelsea M. Campbell - 6/22
35. Harry Potter & Order of Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
36. Harry Potter & Half Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
37. Harry Potter & Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rolwing
38. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
39. Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver
40. Nightshade - Andrea Cramer - 7/17
41. White Cat - Holly Black - 7/18
42. Lips Touch Three Times - Laini Taylor
43. A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
44. The Deathday Letter - Shaun David Hutchinson
45. Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
46. Rebel Angels - Libba Bray
47. Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan
48. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
49. Soulless - Gail Carriger - 8/16
50. The Season - Sarah MacLean
51. Candor - Pam Bachorz
52. Mockingjay - Collins - 8/25
53. Mockingjay (again) - Collins - 8/26
54. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
55. Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
56. Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson
57. The Ruby in the Smoke - Phillip Pulman
58. Will Grayson, Will Grayson - Levithan and Green
59. Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
60. Matched - Ally Condie
61. Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver
62. City Under the Sand
63. The Forest for the Trees

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Coming Up On The Final Stretch

Hello everyone, I'm back!

Woo, and I'm very glad I unplugged last week, I don't think I would have been able to catch up without it.

Blood Ties @ 64,011 (I slacked a bit on this one, but I needed to focus on Plural for NaNo)
Plural @ 43,886 (So close!)

And here we are. The last days of NaNoWriMo, the whirlwind of coffee and writing that has taken over my November.

Now. The bad news.

I messed up on Plural. Badly.

Yes, yes, I know, it's okay to mess up, it's okay if your rough draft is crap, that's the point of NaNo. But that's not how I messed up.

At about 25K words, I took a wrong turn, and it changed the whole story, and not in a good way. The only way to fix it is to re-write the whole last half. Which sucks, I know. I'm going to finish my wrong-turned story as is, then after I've had a break from it I'm going to jump back in and figure out how to fix this thing.

I'm disappointed that the whole last half is probably going to be deleted, but hey, at least I wrote it. It's not total crap writing, it was good practice, it's just total crap plotting. See, I wrote in a scene which triggered a chain of events which dragged the plot down one of those sketchy dead end alleys with no streetlights and, you know, there's rumors that it's haunted, and maybe that's true, or maybe that's just a hobo hiding in the shadows screaming like that. You don't know. But you definitely don't want to walk down that alley on a dark night by yourself. Because you will get stabbed-- be it by a ghost or a crazy hobo. It makes little difference when you're bleeding to death next to a Dumpster which smells of rotting flesh and stale alcohol.

Hm. Well. That was an interesting tangent I went off on there. Anyway, you get my point, I'm sure. No? My point is that my story got stabbed to death by the ghost of a hobo in a creepy dead end alleyway. Poor story.

Anyway, I don't regret writing it, even if most of it will be scrapped. It was practice. Practice is good. And now I need to write 6K more words of practice to get to that 50K goal.

Have I learned a lesson? Yes.

I am an Outliner. This is very obvious now. I like outlining, it's one of my favorite parts of the writing process. So from now on, I will (probably) outline all the time (most likely).

So, I still have lots of blog posts to catch up on. (Sorry I can't comment on all of your posts, I follow over 100 blogs!) But let me know how your week was!

How was your third week of NaNo-ing?
Do you think you'll win?

Monday, November 16, 2009


I'm still behind on both Plural and Blood Ties. It's so bad, I'm not even going to post word counts. (It's actually not that bad, I'm just tired and can't be bothered to open the docs to check out the count.)

Sooo, this is just a quick post to say that I'm taking a break from blogging this week. I thought I'd give Unplug Week a try. (Unplug Week occurs the 3rd week of every month, and all you do is unplug your internet and focus more on writing! Easy peasy.)

I'm not completely unplugging, I'll still be checking my email and updating my NaNo stats, but I'm cutting myself off from the internet and all it's procrastination temptations!


See you next Monday :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Days 11,12,13 (The Catch Up Edition)

Hey guys! I'm not dead! I've just been playing catch up the last few days, because I fell far, far, behind. (Like, 10K total behind. Yeouch.)


Blood Ties @ 58K
Plural @ 20K

I'm still a bit behind on Plural (as of the 13th I should be at 21,667) but that's small beans. I'm so not out of the race.

Here's how I screwed up, then fixed things:

Day 10, was already behind. See last post.

Day 11, had a crazy busy day at work because it was Veterans Day. Did not write at all. Fell way behind.

Day 12, wrote 5K on Blood Ties, caught myself up there. Did not touch Plural. Fell super duper behind.

Day 13, pulled an all nighter and got sort of caught up on Plural. I still have no doubt that I will reach 50K by the end of the month, even if I'm a bit behind on count/day at the moment.

The plan for Day 14 (technically, today)
Get to 60K on Blood Ties
Get to 23,334 on Plural

The plan for Day 15+

Coffee now, please and thank-you.

Hope your weekend is full of writing and fun!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Day 10

Blood Ties still at 53,816. Should be at 55,234. (Short 1,418 words.)
Plural at 16,674. All caught up!

So, day ten was a continuation of fail-ness. I didn't write on Blood Ties at all, I worked all day, and I have work early tomorrow, so I can't stay up late catching up. It's cool. I have Thursday and Friday off, Blood Ties will definitely get there.

Truth is, I have been prioritizing Plural. Not just because I like it better, (this week) but because I want to 'win' NaNoWriMo. Plural is really my focus this month, Blood Ties is the side project. Though my goal was to finish them both in November, I'm not sure I'll be able to do it. Not because I'll slack on my 2.7K/day writing goals, but because both books are turning out to be longer than I expected. Blood Ties is looking to be about 80K, and Plural is getting longer with every scene I write. Instead of being a little 50K novel, it turned into a 60K novel. After tonight it's looking to be at least 70K. 1/3 of the way done? I don't think so!

It will probably take most of December to wrap them both up. That's okay. Three completed drafts for 2009 is awesome. Especially since the first one took nearly six months to finish!

My goals for 2010 are much higher. I'll go into detail later.

For now, I need sleep.

Later, gators

Monday, November 9, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Day 9

Blood Ties @ 53,816 (Short 418 words)
Plural @ 14,680 (Short 320 words)

Day 9
Kat Fail #1

Okay, so it's not a huge fail. I wrote about 600 on BT and about 1300 on Plural. 2K is by no means an epic fail. But I still fell short of my goals. So it's a little fail. I'll have to make up the words I'm short tomorrow. It's not so very bad. I can do it. Probably.

The lame part is that this is the beginning of my work week, which means less time for writing. Plus, I'm all frazzled after work. It takes me a while to shift focus in my mind. I'll get it though. If I don't make up the words tomorrow, they will continue to roll over (like cell phone minutes except scary. "BLARG I AM TUESDAY'S MISSING WORDS, COMING TO HAUNT YOU ALL DAY FRIDAY RAWRRR!!!")

I don't think I'm doing too bad though. I'm not getting all down on myself or being exceptionally hard, which is a good thing. In the past when I got behind on my word goals it was a reason to give up. "I'll never make it up, anyway. There's no point in trying. Might as well quit." That's a horrible attitude to have. I'm glad I'm (kinda) over it. At least, this time I'm not feeling that way. Yay, me!

Well, have a good Tuesday guys! Keep up on your word goals, but don't be too hard on yourself if you fall short. Just think of all you've accomplished so far. It's worth it. Trust me.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Day 8

Blood Ties @ 53,234
Plural @ 13,420

I just want to take a moment to thank all my blog readers and especially those who comment. You guys are great! Your words are so encouraging, and I'm so glad you take the time out of your lives to send some good thoughts my way. Thanks for cheering me on :)

Word counts still going strong. This is good.

I've reconciled my issues with Blood Ties. We're speaking again. The story will come around, learn to behave. I have faith in that. The last chapter I wrote just needs some work. Lots of work.

Plural is actually getting really good. It's turning into a book I didn't expect. My MC is about to sneak out of her house to join a group of people who are painting an epic battle of unicorns vs. dinosaurs on a billboard hanging over the most heavily trafficked part of town. Good times.

Well, I must go hunting for food now. Hope your weekend was awesome!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Day 7

Blood Ties @ 52,180
Plural of Love @ 12,172

Something weird has happened.

First, I made a big change to Plural of Love. I started writing in present tense. And-- WOW!-- I like it sooo much better. Huge, huge, huge improvement. I have yet to go back and change the early chapters from past to present tense, but that's not what NaNo is about, so I'll hold off on that until revisions.

I never would have guessed that such a little tweak-- changing tenses-- could make such a big difference. I should know better, really. Blood Ties started out in third person past tense. I wrote about one chapter, then discarded it because it was crap. A couple months later I was free writing in my notebook and I re-wrote a possible beginning to the story. In first person present tense. It was soooo much better. So I took it from there, and a month later, the story is almost complete.

Except... Now I'm falling out of love with the story.

I thought it was soooo good. I loved it. But now I've written in a HUGE twist, and I'm not sure I like what's happening to the story. I'm not sure what's going on with my characters. Why are they being such brats? Up until now, the written words and the story ideal floating around in my head matched. They flowed together. But now the written story is transforming into something ugly and it doesn't match the beautiful story idea in my head. And I can't help but feel like I'm messing it all up. GRRRR!!!!!!

It's not the twist itself. The twist was the whole basis for the story. And really, I don't know which direction to take my characters in without this twist. There is no story without this event. This event makes the book. So I must be doing something wrong. But what? How do I fix this???

Perhaps I only have enough story-love for one WiP at a time. Maybe that's my problem.

Either way, I'm going to keep writing both. I have to. I have to push through the horrible writing, the lines I hate, the characters doing things I don't want them to do.

Because I can change something they say. I can re-write their actions. I can tweak, and re-arrange the story once it's all down.

But I can't do anything if they don't do anything.

So they have to keep doing things that make me cringe.

And I have to keep putting words on that page.

So I will.

Friday, November 6, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Day 6

Blood Ties @ 51,156
Plural of Love @ 10,212

Day six and my writing goals are starting to get to me. 1.7K a day on Plural plus 1K a day on Blood Ties. Nearly three thousand words a day, every day. And I planned to do this for a month? WHAT WAS I THINKING?

I don't want to lessen my goals, but I do want to tune my focus. Because, hey, if I finish Blood Ties, then that's 1K less words/day. So. I have the next two days off. If I put all my attention into finishing Blood Ties, I may be able to do it. Or at least, I'll make a rather large dent in the story, and I can have a bit of free time again.

Mmmm, free time. What's that like?

How was week one of NaNoWriMo for you guys? Did you meet all your goals? I hope so!

Oh, and the person who found my blog by Googling "NaNoWriMo fed up already" I feel your pain. Plural of Love is grinding on my last nerve. I keep yelling at the screen, "I hate you, Story. You plague me!" But then I grit my teeth and I write through it and by the time I finish and re-read what I've written my anger has channeled my words into something halfway decent and I do not want to delete it all, burn my notebooks and put a fist through my computer screen. I just kind of enjoy daydreaming about doing all that.

Still, though, something about Plural is not just clicking with me. I'm not in love with the story. It just sort of pisses me off. Constantly. And I don't know why. I've never felt this way about a story before. I wonder what it is.

Anyway, have a good weekend!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Day 5

Blood Ties @ 50,032
Plural of Love @ 8,442

Weeee! I've broken fifty thousand words with Blood Ties! This makes me very happy.

Also, I sent the first ten chapters (I just finished chapter 11) to my critique partner and she liked it! Woo hoo! It's not total crap! Plus, I wrote about four thousand words today! Yay! Time to celebrate by eating and showering!

This post is rather bland. Here's some filler! I mean, an excerpt!

* * * * * * * * * *

Since it took me all of five minutes to get ready, it's still dark outside and Tristan's not yet here. It's not snowing anymore, though from the waist high drifts it looks like it went all night. I decide to climb a tree and wait for him. Up in the branches I find a comfortable place to settle, free from leaves poking me in the eye and sticks stabbing my back. I watch the sun rise over the mountains and I wait.

He arrives right on time, the sun is still dragging itself over the horizon. He stands at the cave entrance, his breath making little clouds as he exhales, arms crossed, waiting for me. He doesn't notice my footprints. Doesn't see me hiding, a patch of brown high up in the snow covered branches. I smile to myself and make him wait for a couple minutes before I swing out of the tree, abruptly dropping myself into a large pile of snow right beside him.

He shouts and falls backward, burying himself in slush and getting drenched in the process. His attempt to give me a scornful look only makes me laugh, and then he's gathering handfuls of snow, packing it together in a big, fluffy ball. He hurls it my way, but I'm too quick. I have more practice dodging things that could hurt me. So I duck out of the way and his snowball flies over my head and explodes against a tree.

I pop my head back up. “Good morning, Tristan,” I say through another laugh.

“Is it?” he grumbles. But I can see he's trying hard not to smile. And this makes me happy. This right here, right now. Laughing, smiling, playing. Like we're friends. I mean, I suppose we are friends, now. And I think I kind of like that.

“Ready to get started?” I ask casually, like we're not about to plot a murder.

“Sure thing,” he replies in the same tone.

* * * * * * * * * *

Weeeee! Hope your NaNo-ing is going well!

<3 Kat

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Day 4

Blood Ties @ 48,111
Plural @ 6,790

Wow, BT is almost at 50K! That's awesome. It's just past halfway done, so it is looking to be a longish novel. I'll have to edit it down in revisions, as my goal is somewhere between 75-80K.

Plural is going okay. It's certainly... interesting. It too is looking like it's going to be longer than I originally planned. We shall see.

Not much to say today. I have tomorrow off, and my goal is to break 50K with BT so perhaps I'll have something exciting to share then! For tonight I will give you a picture of my workspace from Day 3. I bought a 105 piece bag of candy the day before Halloween. I'm impressed it lasted three days. I'm also impressed I'm not in a sugar coma right now.

(Yes, those are all empty wrappers.)

(Yes, I need to clean up a bit. Hey, gimme a break. I'm doing NaNoWriMo not NaHoCleMo!)

(Yes, that orange and white thing is a stuffed puppy balancing the last Hershey bar on her nose. That's Cat. She's my muse. I'll talk about her in a future post, tomorrow maybe.)

(Yes, I ate the last Hershey bar after I took the photo.)

(It was indeed delicious.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Day 3

Blood Ties @ 47,096
Plural @ 5,322

So I'm still going strong. Meeting all my goals. Writing very late at night seems to be working well for me. I'll probably get way ahead once I have a day off and I can spend all afternoon in front of the computer.

I've decided that I'm going to write 1K/day for Blood Ties no matter what. So if I write 3K one day, I don't get to take two days off or anything, I still have to write 1K EVERY DAY. Words written on Plural, however, will carry over. So if I write a lot one day, I can have a day off.

Not much more to say for the day, so here's a teaser from Plural for your enjoyment. I'm kind of digging Claire's voice.

* * * * * * * * * *

Mom took Dad's hand in hers and gave me her serious face. “Claire, we think you should see Dr. Lavender again.”

“You're kidding.” My jaw almost crashed to the table. Dr. Lavender was the eccentric shrink my parents sent me to when they were “separating”. Of course, they were only “separated” for a month. They got into a big fight then swore up and down that divorce was the only answer. They dated other people just enough to make one another jealous. Then they got back together. Had a big ceremony where they re-did their wedding vows. Then they blew half my college fund on a second honeymoon so they could “reconnect” while I was stuck home babysitting my seven-year-old sister Maddie.

Anyway, because their “separation” was undoubtedly hard on me, they threw me into group therapy with Dr. Lavender, who I strongly suspected was not even a real doctor. Or, you know, she was the kind of “real” doctor in the same way the dude dressed as Elvis who married people at a drive-thru in Vegas was a “real” priest.

“I do NOT want to talk to that woman again!” I said, clenching my fists into balls as though that would prove I was a grown-up and in control of my emotions.

* * * * * * * * * *

Well, that is all I have for you today! Have a good night!

Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Day 2

Blood Ties @ 46,165
Plural @ 3,582

I actually did all my writing between midnight and 4AM today. Which was nice, because I slept til noon and worked til 7:30PM. Also, since my writing goals were already met for the day I didn't have to worry or stress about where I would find time to write. I plan to spend the rest of the evening relaxing with my boyfriend, then when he goes to sleep, I'll start writing again. I like writing at late at night. Everything is nice and quiet. Peaceful.

Plural is going a little better. This is the first story I've ever attempted to write without an outline, I just a vague idea of what I want to happen. Already it's surprising me. I thought the main character's parents were going to have minimal face time, but no, they want their time in the spotlight. And at first I thought the MC had an older brother who was a total slacker. But no again! Turns out my MC wants a little ten-year-old sister who loves soccer.

Still, I don't know how I feel about Plural. Usually when I read back a scene I can tell if it's good or bad or needs work. I've learned to look at it objectively. But that's really, really hard to do with this story for some reason. Which is pretty weird considering how detached I feel from it. I should be completely objective! But when I re-read it I can't tell if it's good or bad.

Blood Ties is still going good. I'm writing the buildup to the HUGE twist.I'm not sure how readers will take it, because I want it to be an OMG! surprise, but not a what-the-heck-where-did-that-come-from? surprise. Mostly I worry that the little hints sprinkled throughout make it obvious, and not a surprise at all. We shall see. I have one awesome beta reader (Hi Ina!) but I'd like a couple different opinions, so when I'm finished I'll try to find someone else I can bribe with candy--- I MEAN SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO READ MY BOOK BECAUSE THEY LIKE THE PREMISE AND THAT IS ALL.

So that's how I spent my second day of NaNoWriMo. How did you guys do? Ahead of your goals? Falling behind? Stress eating left over candy?


Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Day 1

So, today was the first day of NaNoWriMo!

How'd you guys do?

Me? I made both my word count goals for the day, so that's good.

Blood Ties is at 45,121
Plural of Love is at 2,023

I have to admit, it was hard getting into Plural of Love, even just to get out that first 2K. Beginnings are usually easy for me. I have a great idea, a great opening, so I go for it and start writing... then three chapters later, my first draft isn't perfect and that irks me. And then I have this new, shiny idea... You get the picture.

Anyway, I'm not sure why Plural is so hard to get into. Possibly because I don't really know the characters. It's the least outlined story I've ever done. I mean, two pages in I had to break and search online to find a last name for my MC. A last name! The whole month of October I should have been outlining. But noooo, Blood Ties decided to get all interesting and stuff. Jerk.

Also, Blood Ties is present tense. And I'm loving it. And apparently so used to it because I'm finding it nearly impossible to stick to past tense with Plural. I might change tenses if I get fed up enough.

Was it always so hard to write past tense? No, Untouched is past tense. It was easy then. What the heck happened? I don't even know.

So here's the first chapter of Plural of Love. It's super short. I was really mad at it while writing, though after reading it a couple times, it gets my seal of approval. But barely-- it's still on probation. I'm keeping an eye on you, Plural...

* * * * *

Chapter One:
In Which (Possibly) I Attempt Suicide

It all started on the day I nearly died. He almost died that day, too, but that's another story. That was also where the similarities of our matching near-deaths ended. He carved the word 'free' into his wrist with a jagged piece of glass. I was hit by a train.

This is what happened: I stopped my car on the railroad track and just sat there. Staring at the train. Watching it chug along. Closer, closer, closer. Just in time, I pressed the gas pedal and shot forward to avoid the train colliding with the driver side door. The trunk was not so lucky. The train smashed into the back left bumper and sent me careening into the street where the car flipped. Twice.

I remember three things. First, watching the train screech to a halt some hundred yards down the track. Second, I distinctly remember the sirens. They filled the air ominously, hauntingly. I couldn't tell from which direction they came. Everywhere, it seemed. And lastly, right before passing out, I remember staring through the crushed glass windshield as an orange autumn leaf fluttered to the ground and landed right out of reach. Then I closed my eyes and everything was gone.

* * * * *


I do like the chapter titles I'm going with. I've never named my chapters before, it's always been chapter one, chapter two, etc. They're fun to come up with.

Fellow NaNoers, how was your first day? Or, if you're from the future, how's the second day treating you? Meeting all your goals I hope!

By the way, you can find me here. Be my writing buddy!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

In Which I Plan To Go Crazy

BT at 43,388. Looks like I've slowed down a bit after that two day word purge.

(The fact that 3K in two days is "slowing down" pleases me greatly. I don't always write like this. Actually, this is the first time I've ever written like this. Ever. I like it.)

ALSO: Don't forget to enter contest! There's only, like, six entries, and SOMEONE is going to win a free, new, shiny, word-filled, (insert adjective here) BOOK! It could be you. Or you. But you'll never get it if you don't enter. Ends tonight at midnight, California time.

Fun fact: Only Honolulu and Alaska are in later time zones than mine. Us folks here in California are going to be some of the last writers jumping in on the midnight NaNo train. Our friends down under in Australia are already counting down the final hours. How's the future over there, guys??

Anyway. I had a point. I swear.


The other day I offered up my dilemma in the hopes of getting some advice, and you guys gave me some good ideas. The general gist was: Don't ditch BT. Finish it first, or maybe, possibly, work on both. One especially cool idea was to use a different font/text color to help my subconscious get in the proper mode for each story. Love that idea! Totally doing that, as I've decided to work on both. (Since I didn't finish BT before Nov 1, which was secretly my goal behind that crazy word purge the other day. But, alas, BT decided to change up on me and grew another 20K at least in length. Crazy story! Why can't you just stick to your outline?!)

So. My goal is to finish both in the month of November. See, I've written nearly 44K on BT in just over a month, and I slacked off a lot. So I don't think accomplishing 50K will be too insanely difficult. My issue (possibly because I'm OCD) is that I don't want to split up the 50K between the two. I don't want them to share word goals. They are completely different projects! They can't touch! Like my mashed potatoes and veggies on my dinner plate. They can't touch either. That'd be gross. (That's mostly an exaggeration to make a point. I don't eat veggies.)

Anyway. I've had a lot of coffee. Yeah, it's midnight. Whatever.

I want to do NaNoWriMo in the classic way. I don't want to break "rules" by using the month to write 50K on BT (or whatever finishes it off. Looking like at least another 40K, which worries me, because anything over 80K is pushing it lengthwise for a YA novel.) So here's what I'm gonna do:

I'm going to do The Plural of Love for NaNoWriMo. Not writing a word before. Setting word goals of 1.7K/day to reach the 50K mark. Completely separate from BT. Though I'm still going to be working on BT, with a goal of 1K/day. 2.7K/day isn't so bad. I've been averaging that lately, and hey, some people keep that pace all year long.

Hopefully that'll make it so I have BT and Plural at least almost finished by Dec. 1. I plan to use December to finish them up. Then I'll set one aside and start editing the other for querying. Okay. That's it. That's my plan. Please feel free to tell me I'm crazy now.

Though, hey, if I like the 2.7K/day thing, I might go ahead and join the Milwordy crew. A year of writing crazily. 83K--more or less a novel--per month. Impressive. Scary. I like it.

So what does your writing plan look like for the next month or two? Or year, if you plan that far ahead? Do you have a writing plan/goals?

Please share, I eat this stuff up. It replaces the veggies in my diet.

Love and caffeine,

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thirty Thousand Words

BT word count at: 30,586

(Also, don't forget to enter my contest! You can win a brand new book! Yummy!)

Woo! 10K words in a week. I'm on a roll. But, alas, I am now conflicted. Torn.

Blood Ties is getting good. Like, really plot-tastic must-turn-the-page-and-keep-going good.

Like in The Hunger Games, when Peeta is giving his interview, and he drops that bomb right at the end of the chapter and you just HAVE to turn the page. There's no possible way you can just bookmark it there for the night. No matter how many times I read that book, when Peeta says that line I find myself squealing and flipping that page as fast as I can without tearing it out. Yes, even though I know exactly what happens next. Yes, even though I've read it enough times to quote exactly what happens next. It's just that good.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent there. Team Peeta.

Anyway, moving on...

Right. Blood Ties is getting to the must-keep-reading part. Which, if you can tell by my progress, is also the must-keep-writing part.

So what's the problem?


There's this other novel, the one I planned to write for NaNo, called the Plural of Love. And it's there, hanging over my shoulder, watching me type BT, and wondering when it gets its turn.

"November," I tell it. "In November I'll set Blood Ties aside and write you. Just calm the crap down until then." (Yes, I often talk to my stories. Yes, they also talk back. Sometimes rudely.)

But here's the thing: I want to keep writing Blood Ties. I want to finish it. I'm shoulder deep in the story now, and if I put it aside I fear I'll lose a lot of the fire for this story. I feel like the voice will suffer. I fear that I'll come back to it in Dec and be like "This sucks" and ditch it.

But PoL is a good story, too. I have a bunch of scenes and dialogue floating around in my mind. I don't want to set that one aside either. And I really do want to participate in NaNo-- 50K in a month. I'd like to say I won.

I don't know if I can juggle both. Very different characters. Very different voices. And I need to be in very different mind states to write "in the right mood" for each story.

So what do I do? This isn't rhetorical, by the way. Seriously, what the heck should I do?

Have you ever been in a similar situation? How did you decide between two stories when you really wanted to work on both?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Twenty Thousand Words

WiP Blood Ties at 20,011 words!

I can't tell you guys how happy I am to reach this milestone for Blood Ties. I remember when I hit 20K on Untouched-- that's where my writing flow really picked up. 20K is serious business. It's not something I'm just tooling around on anymore. It's starting to represent actual story!

I'm projecting Blood Ties to be about 80K. That's the goal, but I'm starting to think I'll end up with a good chunk more. Good? Bad? I'm undecided as of yet. Right now I'm viewing it that I'm about 1/4th of the way through. Maybe I can get another 20K before NaNoWriMo, that way I'll be about half done when I pick it back up in December. That would be lovely.

Soooo, now I'm going to share a little excerpt from Blood Ties. In this scene Elle is talking to her younger brother, Ash, before she infiltrates a very dangerous city in disguise.

* * * * * * * * * * *

We are hidden in a dry creek bed which runs parallel to the road leading into the city. I'm losing patience, getting more and more frustrated by the second. Ash is going to get me killed, I can just feel it. And now I have a headache. Great. I rub my temples and seethe quietly for a moment, then I clasp my hands together and practically beg.

“Ash, just stay here,” I plead. “I've let you come with me--”

“Yeah, but you've argued against it the whole time.”

I tip my head back and groan. “I should have jinxed you back at camp.”

He laughs and I jump up to cover his mouth. We're awfully close to the road, anyone passing by could hear us through the underbrush.

“Please. Ash. Just promise me. Stay here until I return. If I'm not back by nightfall... well, go back to camp. Warn the others. If I don't come back it's probably best that everyone clears out. Move on.”

Finally, miraculously, Ash nods his head. He hears me. He understands how dangerous this really is. “Okay,” he says. “I'll stay here. I'll climb up a tree or something and play lookout.”

“Thank you.” I sigh with relief.

“But if you're not back here by nightfall,” he pulls the string on the crossbow, readying the weapon, “I'm coming in after you.”

“Ash...” I start, but when I see the glint in his eyes I stop and bite my lip. At once I can picture Ash attempting to infiltrate the city-- trying to find me, trying to save me. They'd kill him instantly. A chill creeps up my spine, and I can't shake it off. I don't want him to think about doing this, but I can't blame him. I'd do the exact same thing in his position.

“Fine,” I snarl at him. I'm not mad at him, not really. I draw on my rage over what King Rayne has driven this family to. It's better than bursting into tears, which, honestly, is exactly what I want to do right now.

“Fine,” he replies, just as hard. Then he climbs out of the creek bed and disappears in the trees.

I take a moment to compose myself. Make sure my hair is free of leaves. My bag is secure. My boots aren't covered in dirt. When I'm all set I turn toward the trees, and hope he is close enough to hear me. I whisper, “Bye, Ash. I'll be back soon. I love you.”

A few seconds pass, then the trees whisper back. “I love you, too.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Friday, October 16, 2009

Alternative Options

Not doing NaNoWriMo next month? Try one of these! (From 101 Reasons to Stop Writing)

* NaProMo
National Procrastination Month is by far the largest community challenge project, with participants throughout the world (though most participants don’t even bother signing up). All you have to do is put off whatever you can put off, until at least the beginning of December. It’s also the oldest community challenge, predating NaNoWriMo by millennia. In fact, recorded history began when an ancient participant failed the challenge.

* NaMoGroMo
National Moustache Growing Month, otherwise known as Movember, challenges participants to let the mo gro. Women are encouraged to participate.

* NaNoMoMo
National No Moustache Month challenges the partners of NaMoGroMo participants to convince them to shave the mo.

* NaNaGaMo
National Navel Gazing Month invites participants to ponder, mull, ruminate or philosophise over an existential, theoretical or theological question, for the entire month. Extra points are given if the participant:
o Achieves nothing else in the month, except basic maintenance of their earthly vessel
o Is able to convince someone else to take care of the basic maintenance of their earthly vessel
o Frequently refers to the work of an earlier philosopher they’ve read
o Frequently refers to the work of an earlier philosopher they haven’t read
o Spends the month arguing the same point with the same person, to no conclusion
o Ends the month with exactly the same opinion

* NaPerMeMo
National Perpetuate a Meme Month invites participants to spread Internet memes, via blogs, emails, IMs, and particularly by describing them to others in person. Extra points are given if:
o The meme is more than a year old
o The participant doesn’t check other sources to see if the meme is pure bullshit
o The participant creates their own derivative example of an existing meme (such as their own Lolcatz photo, or Demotivator)

* NaTeYoFriYoPlaMo
National Tell Your Friends Your Plans Month is very popular amongst young people, especially college students. Participants are encouraged to tell their friends what they plan to achieve in in the short and long term. Extra points are awarded if the plans require extraordinary serendipity, divine intervention, or a suspension of the fundamental laws of the universe. Bonus points are awarded for returning participants if they haven’t achieved any of their plans from the previous year, and if they have all new plans this year.

* NaWhiAboDePubMo
National Whine About the Death of Publishing Month encourages participants to engage in lengthy discussions about how publishing is going to hell in a handbasket, and to make predictions about when the industry will collapse and society will abandon reading altogether. Now in its 400th year! Extra points are given if the participant:
o Uses the example of a bestselling book they think is bad as evidence that human civilisation is on the verge of self-destruction
o Uses their own failure as a writer as evidence that the publishing industry doesn’t know literature from a pile of manure wrapped in a tabloid
o Fails to see the irony in their refusal to buy any more books until the industry lifts its game

* InIOToLiAmAgMo
International It’s Ok To Like Americans Again Month launched only this year – November 4, to be exact – and already it has millions of signups worldwide. Participants are encouraged to openly discuss American politics without shaking their heads in disbelief, to see American movies, read American books and listen to American music without feeling ashamed, and to give American tourists the opportunity to prove themselves to be boorish assholes, instead of simply assuming it.

* NaNaNaNa-NaNa-NaMo
National Sing Along Without Knowing the Words Month – If you get through an entire song without anyone noticing, you win. You’ve been participating for years.

* NaIDoThiThaFuMo
National I Don’t Think That’s Funny Month challenges participants to write to so-called satirists and comedians, and explain exactly why their brand of humor is wrong, illogical, unacceptable, dangerous to children and generally devoid of value or place in civilized society. Extra points are given if the participant:
o demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the concept of satire or comedy
o reacts as if the piece was intended seriously, and refuses to back down when they discover it wasn’t
o insists that the benchmark for publication should be whether the participant thinks it’s funny
o insists that satire is only clever or funny when it’s obvious or clearly labeled that it’s satire
o insists that anyone who finds humor in the piece must be just as mentally retarded as the author
o gives examples of other satirists or comedians they do understand in order to prove that the author isn’t funny
o attempts to give their own examples of what satire or comedy really is in order to prove that the author isn’t funny
o uses the word “sorry” sarcastically
o claims to support the right to free speech while insisting that the author must voluntarily relinquish this right
o threatens an organized boycott amongst the seven people they know
o threatens physical violence upon the author, should they happen to wander into the participant’s basement
o Complains anonymously, especially if doing so in a blog or forum the author will surely never read

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

NaNoWriMo: The Plural of Love

Sooo I was going to do pirates. I was set on it. But then I got this idea... what if a girl fell in love with a boy with multiple identity disorder? What would happen when he switched into an alter identity? Would she love him, too? How would she deal with his changes? Could she deal?

I posted a thread in the NaNo forums (Which, even if you aren't doing NaNo, is the greatest place to chat with other writers, and do research for things you might not be able to find elsewhere). Anyway, the thread I created got some great feedback, and I started researching online, and went to the library, and not only is dissociative identity disorder (DID) really fascinating, but I think it will make a very nice character driven novel.

So here's my log line:

After a (possible) suicide attempt, sixteen-year-old Clare meets a boy with dissociative identity disorder in therapy and falls in love with him... and several of his alter identities.

And here is the little banner I made for my signature on the NaNo forums:

I haven't created the word doc for it yet, but I'll admit, I do have a lot of scenes and dialogue already scribbled down in short hand notes. And I came up with the first paragraph in my head a couple days ago, so when Nathan's 1st paragraph contest arose I couldn't resist.

(Also, side note, to GhostFolk who saw my paragraph entry and liked it so much they felt the need to click over to my blog and tell me on my last blog post-- you totally made my day :D )

Anyway, my point is head over to Nathan's blog and enter an opening paragraph from your favorite WIP. You've got nothing to lose, and you can win an ARC of The Secret Year and a signed bookmark! Oh, yeah, you also get Nathan to critique a partial or query, but you know, whatever. Oh, and he did totally end up repping the winner of the paragraph contest last year. But, BOOKMARK!!

Okay. I'm done now. That is all.

Thank you and goodnight!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Perfect First Draft

Okay, so I have a problem. I want my first draft to be perfect. I don't want to do revisions, I don't want to chop away my precious darling words, and I don't want to rewrite the opening chapter five hundred thousand billion times.

Is that too much to ask for?

Um, yes.

And because of my insane obsession with writing a perfect first draft, my writing has been non existent lately. You know, because if I don't write then it's not crap. Um. If I don't write then it's not NOTHING because it's NOTHING. Sigh.

I'm having mucho issues turning off my inner editor (sometimes outer editor when I yell/cry/sing to the computer screen.) This does not bode well for NaNoWriMo. (Which, side note: I totally got another wicked awesome idea for and now I'm debating between pirates, punk rock hitch hikers and a girl falling in love with one of the personalities of a boy with dissociative identity disorder.)

Anyways, I've had far too much caffeine today (or possibly not enough) and I'm not quite getting to my point. (And you guys are probably getting tired of all the parenthetical statements. I kinda like them. I don't use them in my writing too much though... perhaps I should...) I digress.

I'm going to start keeping track of my word count again! Jeez, it took the whole post for me to say that? Yes, yes, at the beginning of my posts I will now be adding word count and maybe some other tidbits. Maybe a line or two as an excerpt.

So. Conclusion.

I want a perfect first draft. (Yeah, right.)

I need to tell my brain to shut up when I'm writing. (Er, kinda.)

I'm going to start posting word count. Maybe I'll be more inspired to write because then I can show you guys how well I'm coming along! (Or maybe I will never blog again because my manuscript ate my soul.)

Word count currently at: 14,470.

Today's goal: 17K

Okay. Time to write.



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Corn Dogs and Coffee and Writing Update

I had a corn dog and three cups of coffee for breakfast today. I am such a grownup.

Writing update!

I'm still querying Untouched. Right now I have 3 partials, 1 full, and about 10 queries awaiting responses. I don't think I'll send out anymore queries for a while. If the ones already sent out receive negative responses then I will probably just pull Untouched from submissions. I'll put it aside for a while and then tackle it later to see what sort of revisions/rewriting it needs to get picked up.

The Temper is completely outlined. I wrote a very detailed synopsis-esque draft of about 7K words, then I wrote the first 1K words. Then, honestly, I think I got a little bored of it. It's a really fun story, but alas-- there's a fatal flaw to my obsessive outlining. There are no surprises. Sigh. I will go back to Temper eventually, it's a solid story. But the detached 3rd person makes it harder for me to get into it. I never realized how much I like to write in 1st person until I tried to write in 3rd.

I am working on another project! If you follow me on Twitter you've seen that I've been tearing through this first draft. I started writing on the 24th and got in 1K. On the 26th I wrote about 3K. And yesterday I wrote another 3K. I'm putting myself through what I call NaNoWriMo boot camp. I'm trying to write at least 1K/day (back to my old goal) in preparation for the 1.7K/day NaNo goal.

Needless to say, it's going well! This is a story idea I had a while back about a magic dystopia. It's fun! It's also something new for me: I'm writing in present tense. I used to hate present tense. It just bugged me. And then I read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire and I started working on this project and now... well, I totally love first person present tense.

And I think I've narrowed down my choices for my NaNo WiP. See, Sarah and I are going to make the pirate-fantasy genre the next big thing. Forget vamps. Swashbuckling is way cooler than blood sucking.

I still need to do some serious outlining, but it's basically a pirate-y version of Bonnie and Clyde. Except Pirate-Clyde betrays Pirate-Bonnie and sets her up to take the fall for their crimes. Pirate-Bonnie escapes (barely) and disguises herself to join a rival pirate crew in her quest for vengeance. But it would be a whole lot easier if there wasn't a million dollar bounty on her head. And if the leader of the rival pirate crew wasn't so frustratingly attractive. Sigh. Swashbuckling romance on the high seas... does it get any better?

Anyhoo, that's what I've been working on lately.

What writing project are you currently working on or planning to work on soon?


...A scary idea just popped into my head: vampire pirates. I'm not even going to elaborate, I'll just let your imaginations go to work.

(No, I'm not going to write about vampire pirates.)

(UPDATE: Wow, Beth! I thought I was being ridiculous!)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Getting Ready

I just signed up for NaNoWriMo this year!

For those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is, November is National Novel Writing Month, and the goal is to write 50K words in 30 days. Math wise that works out to about 1667 words per day. Productive! Learn more, sign up, etc. here.

This is my first year attempting NaNo, and I'm not sure I'll win, but I'm going to really try. I've already warned my boyfriend that I'm going to spend November strung out on caffeine and glued to my computer. He shrugged and said he didn't think he'd notice a difference. I'm not sure what I want to write yet (y'all know I have plenty of ideas) so I'll probably end up with one of many projects I have outlined but not yet started. The possibilities are endless!

My user name on is kat-tastic, so if you've signed up feel free to contact me over there! We can brave the quest together!

Questions for you!
Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?
Are you going to this year?
Do you have any idea what you're going to write?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Untouched Scrap

Just something I was tooling around with, narrative writing in Gwen's voice. I felt the need to post, I've been rather quiet lately. :)

* * * * * * * * *

When I was human I dreamed of falling in love.

When I was human I dreamed of a lot of things.

Dead girls don't get second chances.

Or so I thought.

The line keeps blurring between dead and alive, human and not. I don't feel dead, but at the same time I know I am not human. The constant pulling, wrenching, tugging at my soul reminds me of that.

I am just a girl, yet so much more.

I am an angel of death.
A reaper of souls.
Obligated. Bound. Immortal.

They gave me the choice: peace of death or this tortured life.

I chose James.
I chose love.

And now I live my tortured life, with my tortured soul, and a boy whose skin tests my will.

Dead girls don't get second chances.

But I never had a chance to begin with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


So lately I've been wondering what happens next. I have one partial and two fulls out with agents right now, but that's the furthest I've gone in this publishing industry so far. It wasn't until very recently (this morning) that I actually started to think: hey, someone might actually want to rep my book. That's pretty cool.

Then I freaked out. Because what if I received The Call and I wasn't prepared? What if I came off as a bumbling clueless idiot-author on the phone because I didn't know what questions to ask?

So I spent the afternoon researching.

Questions to ask a literary agent before accepting representation:
(Compiled from lists on agent Kristin Nelson's blog Pub Rants and agent Rachelle Gardner's blog Rants and Ramblings)


What are the terms of the representation being offered? Is there a time limit? Is it for one book, or is it open ended?

If we agree to work together, what will happen next? What's the expected process?

Do you use a written author-agent agreement?

What happens if either one of us wants to end the relationship?

If the agent/client relationship is terminated, what is the policy for any unsold rights in the works the agent has represented?

Do you handle film rights, foreign rights, audio rights? Or do you have a co-agent that handles these?

Do you work with a publicist? How involved in marketing will you be with this project?


How do you keep clients informed about your activities on client’s behalf?

Do you prefer phone or email, or are they both okay?

How often do you want the client to check in?

What are your typical business hours?

Do you let me know where and when you submit my work?

Do you forward rejection letters to the me?

What happens when you are sick or on vacation?

Do you consult with clients on all offers from publishers? Do you make any decisions on behalf of client?


What is your percentage?

Do I receive payments directly from the publisher, or do payments go through you first?

How long after you receive advances and royalties will you send them to me?

Do you charge any fees for mailing, copies, faxes, phone calls or anything else?


What do you think are the strengths/challenges in regards to this project?

How close is my book to being ready for submission? Will there be a lot of editing and rewriting first?

How involved are you in the editing process, and how long does it take you to edit a project?

When will you start submitting to publishers? When will you stop submitting? How aggressively will you submit?

Do you have any publishers/editors in mind that you think would be appropriate for my book?


How do you prefer to handle future projects? Should I run ideas by you first or can I simply write?

Do you help with career planning? What kind of career guidance do you offer?

How do you feel about authors switching genres?

What if you don't like my next book and you don't want to handle it? What happens then?

* * * * * * * * * *

As we all know (because we are very smart, well researched aspiring authors, right?) you should always research the agent before accepting any offers. I left out some questions relating to how many years the agent has been in business and what the agent's recent sales were, because the answers to those questions are very easy to find online. AgentQuery, Publishers Marketplace,, the agency website (if they have one) are all great places to check out when searching for agent info.

It is also recommended that you ask the agent for the phone number/contact info on some of their clients. Give one of their clients a call, ask about how they like working with the agent, the agent's strengths/weaknesses, etc.

And since we are professional and polite aspiring authors, we all know that you shouldn't squeal into the phone and shout "YES YES YES I ACCEPT". You want to let the agent know that you will consider their offer, and then you immediately alert any other agents with your work that you have received an offer of rep, and could they please review your work and let you know their decision within a week or so.

Then you do a happy dance.

Have a good evening!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Sharing is Caring

First off, I'm really hyped up right now, and my Starbucks double shot energy drink is only partially responsible. I've been sending off my queries in batches, about 10 at a time, spaced about 3 weeks apart. And yes, I still have pending queries from round 1 & 2. About 20 total, but they're only at 4 weeks, and most agents say 4-8 weeks, so I'm not stressing.

So I sent off Round 3 Friday evening, and yesterday I received a request for a full! Woo hoo, of course I was super excited, especially because I had included sample pages with the query, so the agent saw my opening pages and LIKED THEM AND WANTED MORE.

I opened my mail today and I had another request. Also for a full. Also from a query which included the first five pages. Needless to say, I'm very excited right now. I'm going to (1) finish this post, (2) do a quick read-through, then I'm (3) sending 'em off! Then I'll (4) promptly freak out. But it's very important I do these steps in that particular order. Very important.

Moving on, today's topic: Sharing your work. How much do you share? Do you post full chapters on your blog? Do you put your entire story up for critique on a public critique group like Critique Circle? Or are you all about keeping your work private? You don't speak of the plot at all, you don't post excerpts, heck you don't even share the title or character names because you fear someone else might snatch them up.

Me? I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I'll gladly tell you my title (UNTOUCHED) because I love it. I'll tell you my character names, the basic plot, and I'll post excerpts (not a lot, and nothing too spoiler-y, but cruise through my blog posts and you'll come across quite a few excerpts.)

See, I'm a big believer in the uniqueness of individuals and that everyone has a unique perception. I've posted my query on here before, and I've posted query/pitches for projects that I've barely started. But no, I'm not so worried about someone stealing my idea. Because so many aspects of it are uniquely mine, that no one else would ever come up with. And I keep those private.

I actually have a theory, but I don't think it would ever be tested because it would involve a lot of work. But I believe that two people could take the exact same query and write two completely totally different novels based off said somewhat-specific query.

Last week I posted a query/pitch of my latest idea The Temper. But I'm not worried about someone stealing my plot or my idea, because I left out all the funniest, best, cutest parts. I left out all the unique little twists. I left out all the parts that make it mine.

Those are the parts that I will not share. Generialities? Sure, I'll give you generalities up the wazoo. But not the specifics. The specifics are where the magic is. And the magic is all mine. :)

* * * * * * * * * *

Questions for you!

How much do you share?

Do you ever worry about people stealing your ideas/title/names/plot?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Temper Teaser Time

My latest WiP is coming along pretty well. It took me two days to write the 7K word skeleton synopsis. (Okay, two days with like eight in between. When I write, I write.)

So each chapter has about a 500 word synopsis already written out, and the plan was to write whatever scenes called to me and plug them into the appropriate place. I could write a scene from chapter 3 one day, then the next day write a scene from chapter 12. Whatever my random little heart desired.

Today I started writing-- actually writing, not just loose, ill-written synopsis-ing.

Naturally, I started at the very beginning.

Ha ha ha, guess the chronological writer in me wins this round. I'm still very happy with what I've done. The entire story is mapped out beautifully, and, though I probably will write chronologically for the most part, if I ever get stuck I will be able to skip a scene or a chapter then come back to it.

Guess it's more of my obsessive need to plot and plan and outline that drove me to do this, rather than my desire to write randomly. I am really obsessive about plotting and outlining. I don't know how you jump-right-in writers do it!

Anyhoo, I thought I'd post the opening pages I wrote today.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Temper

Connor Thomas had a sinking feeling in his stomach that confirmed his worries. He knew the sidekick audition was a bad idea, but still he sat, in the waiting room of Hero Headquarters Inc., patiently waiting for his name to be called. He pulled the lavender sheet of paper from his pocket and unfolded it, smoothing it out with both hands. The poster was heavily wrinkled, soft and faded from being read and re-read.

At the top of the page there was a photo of legendary superhero Captain Power, pointing with one arm and flexing with the other. Below, in large black letters, it read:

...To be my new sidekick!
Hero Headquarters will be holding auditions to find Captain Power a new sidekick.
Have an ability? Want to save the world?
Come by the office this Friday and show us what you've got!

Connor read the words for the hundredth time then crumbled the paper and shoved it back into his pocket with a sigh. This was by far the worst idea he'd ever had. Not that he could take full credit for what was sure to be a humiliating experience. His brother, Sinker, had really been the one who pushed him into it.

“We're broke,” Sinker had declared over dinner earlier that week.

Connor shoved a bread roll into his mouth and shrugged one shoulder. “So?” He chewed and swallowed, then continued, “We'll cut back on some things-- like cable.”

“I already canceled the cable and sold the TV last week. It's still not enough.”

Connor twisted around and saw that the TV was indeed missing from the stand in the living room. “Oh.” It was all he could think of to say. Sinker loved television, if he'd sold their TV it could only mean that things were really getting bad.

Sinker shook his head. “I'm not making enough money at Hero's.” Sinker was the assistant manager at Hero's Supply Shack, a little store in the center of town. “We're running out of money fast, little bro. It's only a matter of time before we lose the apartment.”

“Well, what can I do? I'm mowing lawns every weekend but grass only grows so fast.”

“You could get a different job.”

Connor sighed. “Where? I won't be sixteen for months, no one will hire me.”

It was then that Sinker pulled the audition poster from inside his jacket. “There's no age requirement to be a sidekick.” He pushed the paper across the table toward Connor.

Connor took one look at the poster and the smiling, flexing picture of Captain Power. “No way. I'll get a real job when I turn sixteen.”

“We won't make it until then. Sidekicks are paid really well in this town, you know, and they get all sorts of benefits. Abilities that are actually useful are rare. You could do this.”

Connor groaned. “You have an ability, why don't you do it?”

“You know why. Besides, my ability is hardly useful. Just go to the audition. Try. If you don't get it, we'll figure something out. But you can at least try.”

“This is a horrible idea,” Connor replied, but he'd picked up the poster and put it in his pocket.

And now, in the lobby of Hero Headquarters, Connor was more certain than ever that he was making a huge mistake. Especially when he looked at the competition.

He tried not to stare at the other auditioning sidekicks, but it was difficult-- they were an odd group. The girl sitting across from him was chewing her fingernails down to the bone then regrowing them back, only to begin all over again. And the man in the far corner had stretched his neck out long like elastic so he could read a poster on the other side of the room. Then there was the little boy sitting by the door, whose tongue shot two feet into the air to catch a fly that had somehow found its way into the building.

Connor sighed, he was clearly surrounded by freaks. Not that he wasn't a freak, but at least he hid it much better than the others.

At that moment, the door swung open, and the receptionist stepped into the room. Glancing at her clipboard, she lifted her head and looked around the room with a huge, fake smile. “Mr. Connor Thomas, we are ready for you now.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Questions for you:

Are you a chronological writer, or a jump-right-in writer?

How much (or how little) do you plan before writing? Do you know what happens in the end, or do you not even know what happens in chapter two?

Peace and Reese's Pieces,

(P.S. Wanna win a copy of Catching Fire? Check out the contest!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Log Lines

Heya blogger friends!

Y'all know what a log line is? A log line is a brief summary, often providing both a synopsis of plot, and an emotional "hook" to stimulate interest. Technically a log line is used for television programs and movies, but it can also apply to novels. It's that one sentence pitch that we try to whittle our entire 80K novel down to.

Condensing your story into a single sentence can really help you wrap your head around your novel, and it gives you the building block to writing a cohesive query that gets to the point. A log line usually states:

Who the protagonist is
Who/what the antagonist/antagonistic force is
The basic conflict
What is at stake

The log line for my novel Untouched is:

A dying girl, coerced into acting as grim reaper for a second chance at life, falls in love with the boy she was sent to kill.

Protagonist: a dying girl
Antagonistic force: death
Basic conflict: forbidden love (she's so not supposed to fall in love with this boy!)
What is at stake: life and love

I'm definitely an outliner, I plan my novel from beginning to end before I start (or at least before I get very far in). And figuring out the log line is one of the first steps I take. Since my muse never shuts up with the ideas, I have tons of story ideas, and some are no more than log lines.

Kai Of Chaos
With the help of a half-mad semi-psychic girl, a boy possessed by a demon of chaos embarks on an adventure to rid the monster from his body.

Emo Girl
A girl with empathic powers starts feeling murders and cannot rest until the killer is caught.

A moral bounty hunter who refuses to kill becomes the bounty and must prove his innocence as he flees from pursuers who have no such scruples.

* * * * * * * * * *

Questions for you:

What's the log line for your current WiP?

Do you find it easy or hard to summarize your novel in just one sentence?

Can you come up with a log line for a well known movie/book?


A girl falls in love with a "vegetarian" vampire who finds her blood especially appealing.

Wizard Of Oz
Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again. (Attributed to Richard Polito of the Marin Independent Journal, who writes humorously sarcastic briefs for the paper's daily TV listings)

* * * * * * * * * *

Check out edittorrent for more info on log lines and some great examples.


Monday, August 31, 2009

A Plethora Of Stories

A phone rings.
Then what happens?

-someone answers the phone
-someone answers the phone then immediately hangs up
-someone answers the phone and the caller hangs up
-the phone goes unanswered
-the caller hangs up before the phone is answered
-the ringing phone wakes someone
-the ringing phone startles someone into dropping something
-an alien doesn't know what that strange ringing sound is and zaps the phone with its laser beam (...wait, what?)

Okay, so I'm sure you get my point. A seemingly insignificant event-- a ringing phone-- can lead to millions of possible stories. Or can it?

How many stories do you think there are in the world? Billions? Trillions? An infinite amount?

Maybe. But some sources say there is only one story:

Exposition - Rising Action - Climax - Falling Action - Denouement

Some, like Forrester Harris, argue that there are three types of stories:

1. Type A, happy ending
This pattern results when the central character makes a sacrifice (a decision that seems logically "wrong") for the sake of another.

2. Type B, unhappy ending
This pattern follows when the central character does what seems logically "right" and thus fails to make the needed sacrifice.

3.Type C,’ the literary plot
"In which, no matter whether we start from the happy or the unhappy fork, proceeding backwards we arrive inevitably at the question, where we stop to wail."
This pattern requires more explanation. In short, the "literary plot" is one that does not hinge upon decision, but fate; in it, the critical event takes place at the beginning of the story rather than the end. What follows from that event is inevitable, often tragedy. (This in fact coincides with the classical Greek notion of tragedy, which is that such events are fated and inexorable.)

In grade school English class, we are taught that there are seven basic stories:

1. person vs. nature
2. person vs. person
3. person vs. the environment
4. person vs. machines/technology
5. person vs. the supernatural
6. person vs. self
7. person vs. god/religion

Christopher Booker’s theory is that all stories, whether it’s Cinderella or Lord of the Rings can essentially be boiled down to seven (different) basic elements:

1. Overcoming the monster
2. Rags to Riches
3. The Quest
4. Voyage and Return
5. Comedy
6. Tragedy
7. Rebirth

Ronald Tobias claims that there are twenty basic plots, that can then be divided into two smaller categories as "plots of the mind" and "plots of the body". Plots of the body are action oriented, not necessarily signifying anything. Plots of the mind are more cerebral and often involve "searching for some kind of meaning".

The twenty basic plots:

1. Quest
2. Adventure
3. Pursuit
4. Rescue
5. Escape
6. Revenge
7. The Riddle
8. Rivalry
9. Underdog
10. Temptation
11. Metamorphosis
12. Transformation
13. Maturation
14. Love
15. Forbidden Love
16. Sacrifice
17. Discovery
18. Wretched Excess
19. Ascension
20. Descension

And then (because twenty is apparently not enough) Georges Polti claims to be trying to reconstruct the 36 plots that Goethe alleges someone named [Carlo] Gozzi came up with:

1. Supplication (in which the Supplicant must beg something from Power in authority)
2. Deliverance
3. Crime Pursued by Vengeance
4. Vengeance taken for kindred upon kindred
5. Pursuit
6. Disaster
7. Falling Prey to Cruelty of Misfortune
8. Revolt
9. Daring Enterprise
10. Abduction
11. The Enigma (temptation or a riddle)
12. Obtaining
13. Enmity of Kinsmen
14. Rivalry of Kinsmen
15. Murderous Adultery
16. Madness
17. Fatal Imprudence
18. Involuntary Crimes of Love (example: discovery that one has married one’s mother, sister, etc.)
19. Slaying of a Kinsman Unrecognized
20. Self-Sacrificing for an Ideal
21. Self-Sacrifice for Kindred
22. All Sacrificed for Passion
23. Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones
24. Rivalry of Superior and Inferior
25. Adultery
26. Crimes of Love
27. Discovery of the Dishonor of a Loved One
28. Obstacles to Love
29. An Enemy Loved
30. Ambition
31. Conflict with a God
32. Mistaken Jealousy
33. Erroneous Judgement
34. Remorse
35. Recovery of a Lost One
36. Loss of Loved Ones.

Wow, now there's a list!

(Sources, for the link-clickers and the curious: The Straight Dope, Internet Public Library, Only Dead Fish)

My questions for you:

How many stories do YOU think there are?
And where does your current project fall on the preceding lists?

See you tomorrow!