Wednesday, April 29, 2009


'Bout to start working on Untouched. Promise. Just wanted to post a quick excerpt.

After they spend the day in the park, Gwen takes off, wanting to clear her head and get a clear perspective on their complicated relationship. She ends up visiting her grave- the perfect place to contemplate life and death after the fact. But James is afraid she might not come back, and he'll never get the chance to tell her how he really feels. So of course he tracks her down...

My eyes were closed when I felt the pull of his soul, he was in the graveyard. Of course he'd found me- it was something he'd spent most of life practicing. I didn't look up as he walked toward my grave, instead I reached for the gloves laying on the grass next to me and slid my hands back into them. He stopped at the foot of my grave, and I lifted my eyes to look at him.

He was wearing the same clothes he had worn yesterday, the same clothes he had slept in. He held a large bouquet of white lilies with one hand. Without a breeze his tangled hair fell flat against his cheeks, surrounding his face. His eyes were dark and somber, but he didn't look at me.

“I almost found you.” He kept his eyes locked on my tombstone. He wasn't speaking to me, his words were directed at my grave. I didn't dare to breathe.

“Your mom saw me in the hospital lobby the morning you died. I thought I'd finally found you, I brought you flowers. White lilies.” He leaned forward and laid the bouquet across the fresh dirt. “They were always your favorite. I didn't know you were already dead, and I didn't know that lilies were associated with death. They made your mother cry.

“And I felt so guilty. Not just for that, but because I had failed you. I was too late, I didn't get to you in time. I guess I did want to be a hero, I wanted to save you. I was convinced that you were waiting for me, and if only I could find you, I could help you. It kept me going. Hope kept me searching for you, for all these years.”

I barely noticed the tears that blurred my vision, dripping down my cheeks and falling to the grass. He turned his gaze toward me, and his expression softened.

“Without you... I feel purposeless. I'm not good at anything. I don't have any skills or talents or aspirations. But you made me a better person. At best I'm average, mediocre, but you made me amazing. And I thought if I could save you, my life would be worth something. Without you I'm nothing.”

“I'm no good for you,” I choked out between sobs.

He took a step forward and crouched down in front of me, moving his face closer to mine. “You're the only good thing about me.” He retracted his hand into the sleeve of his jacket and used the material to carefully wipe the tears from my cheeks.

“Gwen, loving you is the only thing I'm good at.”

Save Me!

Untouched is untouched. Haha, but really not so funny. I haven't written in like two days, but I have been outlining, and working with some ideas on how to vamp up the middle section of the book which has lots of romance, but little plot progression. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. The changes I've come up with are major, so again it's something I'll wait to hear back from the betas about. (Look at me, talking about betas when the dang ms isn't even finished yet. For shame.)

So, I don't know about you guys, but I'm super paranoid about losing what I've written. Because of this I end up saving after every other paragraph or so, unless I'm really on a roll. My entire writing folder- WIPs, ideas, orphan beginnings, random short stories- everything is saved on a one gig USB drive. When I want to write, I pop the USB drive into my computer and type away.

But like I said, I'm super paranoid about losing what I've written, so not only do I have my writing folder saved on my working USB drive, but I have a backup USB drive that I update every couple of weeks. And of course I have the whole folder saved on my desktop computer. And my laptop. I don't update those very often, but if some sort of tragedy happens and I loose my main USB drive, I'll have most of my work saved somewhere else, and I'll be able to reconstruct it. That's the plan, anyway.

So how do you save your precious work? Right on the computer with no backups? Or do you put my paranoia to shame?

P.S. Oh, and apparently commenting on my blog was corrupted with the makeover. Thanks Lady Glam for the email filling me in! I was so sad that no one commented about how pretty my blog was- turns out they couldn't!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Calm Before The Storm

Untouched word count at 57,800.

The current chapter I'm working on has been the hardest to write thus far. I don't know why, but I can't help but worry that what I'm writing is crap, which is why it's so difficult to get out. I'm trying not to go back and edit everything around, but I know that during revisions this part is going to be tricky.

I feel like there's a lull in the plot line, but I also feel like it's a necessary lull, the calm before the storm. Don't get me wrong- the events that happen here are still important to the story, there is still relationship drama, and plenty of character defining moments. But the story does slow down a bit. The MC is tricked into a false calm, thinking everything is going to be "la la la happy ending" when BAM! her world starts falling apart again. I think the reader needs to be brought along on that ride as well, but I'm not sure how it will play out. But that's what beta readers are for, right?

Do you have a "calm before the storm" in your story? How do you handle the lull in the plot line and still keep the story interesting and engaging?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mortality's A Drag

Untouched word count at 55K.

Which means I haven't written my 1K/day goal since April 6th, two weeks ago. TWO WEEKS! Ugh, how shameful! Not to mention that Untouched hit 50K March 16th. Double ugh!

I don't have a good excuse for the latter half of March, but I have been pretty sick these last two weeks. Turns out sinus infections are not good for writing. And it turns out sinus infections can spread to your lungs, causing a nasty case of bronchitis. Which can then trigger your previously latent asthma. Overall, not fun!

But I finally went to the doctor. It took me awhile to be sure I was really sick- I didn't want to go to the hospital for the sniffles. So now I'm loaded up on antibiotics, medicated cough syrup and an inhaler. And I'm feeling much better!

So hopefully Untouched will get some more love in these coming weeks. I have big plans for the direction of the story line, and I really want to finish up draft #1 so I can have the base of the story all written out. Then comes the fun stuff- revisions and layers and edits- oh my!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stay Active

I found a very helpful reference on writing and composition entitled The Elements of Composition, by William Strunk Jr, and I thought I'd share! One subject that Strunk covers is using an active voice as opposed to a passive voice. As writers we are told to do this all the time, and I know I sometimes have some trouble trying to keep up with that. Hope this helps anyone else struggling with a passive voice!

* * * * * * * * * *

Use the active voice.

The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive:

I shall always remember my first visit to Boston.

This is much better than

My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.

The latter sentence is less direct, less bold, and less concise. If the writer tries to make it more concise by omitting "by me,"

My first visit to Boston will always be remembered,

it becomes indefinite: is it the writer, or some person undisclosed, or the world at large, that will always remember this visit?

This rule does not, of course, mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice, which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary.

The dramatists of the Restoration are little esteemed to-day.
Modern readers have little esteem for the dramatists of the Restoration.

The first would be the right form in a paragraph on the dramatists of the Restoration; the second, in a paragraph on the tastes of modern readers. The need of making a particular word the subject of the sentence will often, as in these examples, determine which voice is to be used.

The habitual use of the active voice, however, makes for forcible writing. This is true not only in narrative principally concerned with action, but in writing of any kind. Many a tame sentence of description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as there is, or could be heard.

There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground.

Dead leaves covered the ground.

The sound of the falls could still be heard.

The sound of the falls still reached our ears.

The reason that he left college was that his health became impaired.

Failing health compelled him to leave college.

It was not long before he was very sorry that he had said what he had.

He soon repented his words.

As a rule, avoid making one passive depend directly upon another.

A common fault is to use as the subject of a passive construction a noun which expresses the entire action, leaving to the verb no function beyond that of completing the sentence.

A survey of this region was made in 1900.

This region was surveyed in 1900.

Mobilization of the army was rapidly carried out.

The army was rapidly mobilized.

Confirmation of these reports cannot be obtained.

These reports cannot be confirmed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Everyone Loves Vampires


I'm hella jealous.

Twilight author Stephenie Meyer continues to dominate USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list. Sales of her novels accounted for about 16% of all book sales tracked by the list in the first quarter of 2009.

16% of ALL BOOK SALES. Wow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

From The Tangles of My Heart

Romantic relationships are so fun to write, but also very difficult. How do you find that perfect balance of fairy tale romance and believability?

I'm trying to make sure the romance between my characters is perfect- charming, sweet, heartwarming, funny, endearing, and most importantly BELIEVABLE. I read through my WIP obsessively to make sure the relationship between my characters seems real. And I totally believe that they're falling in love-- but does it translate through to the reader? Of course I can see them in love, in my mind they've always been in love.

Anyhoo, here's another rough draft excerpt from Untouched. I like posting these little romantic scenes (like Gwen and James' almost-kiss). They're fun to write and read, and they don't give too much of the story away. :P

* * * * * * * * * *

He sped toward me, and I braced myself. I let out a squeal when he picked me up, throwing me over his shoulder this time, his arms wrapped around my legs to hold me up.

“Why do you do that?” I asked, my hair tangling around me as all the blood rushed to my head.

“Because it's fun,” he replied, and I couldn't argue.

“I feel like you're a caveman, dragging me back to your cave.”

He laughed as he leaned over and guided my feet to the ground. “No cave,” he insisted. “Just swings.”

I smiled at James before jumping onto a swing. He walked behind me and started to gently push me back and forth. The sun was disappearing behind the horizon, and the shadows swallowed up any leftover warmth. James' hands were hot against my back as he pushed me higher and higher. I found myself holding my breath each time I swung forward and waited, suspended in air, to swing back, where James' hands would be on me once again.

When I was swinging high James stopped pushing me and sat on the swing beside me. He pumped his legs, and within moments he was going much higher than I was. I slowed as I watched him, and my feet dragged across the wood chips, bringing me to a stand still. James was still going higher, and every time he swung backwards the whole swing set jumped under his weight.

“Be careful!” I said, no longer able to contain my silent worry.

He laughed. “I am being careful. See this-” he grasped the metal chains and pulled himself upright, standing straight on the swing “-would be dangerous.”

“You're going to kill yourself up there!”

He waited until he was at the highest point before pushing himself away from the swing in midair. My heart skipped a beat. He flew for just a second, then plummeted to the ground and landed by sliding across the wood chips. He jumped to his feet and walked back to me, grinning like the fool he was.

“Now why would I do that when I could simply kiss your lips and die a much sweeter death?” His tone was light, but his eyes sparkled. He grabbed the chains of my swing and started twisting me around.

I rolled my eyes, though I couldn't stop my heart from quickening. “Don't say things like that,” I scolded. “Besides, when did you become such a romantic?”

For just a moment his eyes clouded over with sadness. But then he smiled. “When I was naïve enough to believe I could still save you.”

“I'm not savable James.”

“Then I guess I'm still naïve.” He twisted my swing around one last time so I was facing him, then he stopped winding me up.

“I get it,” I told him. “You want to be the hero- save the day, save the girl.”

“Maybe,” he shrugged. “But you gave up your life to save mine, so who really has a hero complex?”

I stuck out my tongue at him. “Sounds more like I'm a martyr than a hero, which is why I don't think I'm savable. You can't rescue me from myself.”

He held my gaze for a moment before letting go of the chains and stepping back. I spun in tight, quick circles, screaming as James and the park whirled around me. When I stopped spinning I looked up at James. His expression was serious as he stepped closer to me and tilted his head down. My heartbeat turned into a hum as I stared back, hanging onto the silence of his look.

“Gwen, I...” he started, but for some reason he couldn't finish. We stared at each other quietly. Something about that moment seemed so fragile, and I was afraid to move or speak or breathe and disrupt whatever was happening between us.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Age Appropriate

Untouched at 54K, getting back into it!

Young Adult is a very flexible genre, and lately I've been wondering what defines a novel as Young Adult. Most importantly, what is age appropriate for YA.

When it comes to YA, generally I think teens, age 13-18. I think PG-13 in terms of content. And I think of young adult struggles- falling in love for the first time, growing up, becoming adults, finding your place in the world, etc.

I've been told in critiques for Untouched that Gwen's voice seems too mature for young adult, but I also believe that many people underestimate teenagers, and don't give them enough credit. Untouched may not be very young sounding, but it certainly deals with what I think is a YA topic- growing up and leaving your childhood behind.

So is it still YA? What is too mature for YA? What are the parameters?

Is getting married and having a baby too mature for YA? Maybe. To some people it is, which may explain part of the conflict over Breaking Dawn. Twilight was certainly YA, but the protagonist matured and so did the content. So why do we still consider it YA?

Novel series can and do mature, and I've been trying to pinpoint what causes this. When I think of the first Harry Potter, I think MG. But in my opinion the final Potter book was definitely YA. At what point did the series transform from MG to YA? In book four when Cedric dies? Or maybe when Dumbledore dies? Or maybe it's not a particular event, maybe the conflicts that Harry has to deal with just evolve and mature as he does.

All the fourteen year-olds that picked up Twilight in 2005 when it first came out aged with the series, and by the time Breaking Dawn was released they were seventeen, and (hopefully) able to recognize and compare their own life decisions and choices with Bella's. But what about all the tweens that picked up the series after it got big and are reading about situations they have no life experience to compare to? Mature teenagers have a better chance at recognizing the flaws in Bella and Edward's relationship, and at realizing the consequences of her decisions. Younger minded readers (because it's not necessarily about age) don't recognize what is wrong there, because they don't have fully formed opinions of right and wrong when it comes that situation.

And no, I don't think Meyer made a mistake. She wrote the story she wanted to write-- isn't that the advice given to aspiring authors? Write the story you want to write? From the beginning Meyer decided there would be a baby involved in Edward and Bella's story, which is one reason I'm not convinced she deserves all the backlash on Breaking Dawn. The ending of the series was thought up and written out before Twilight became big. Stephenie just wrote her story- she never knew it would take the world by storm.

(Not that Twilight doesn't have other problems, but that's one reason I don't hate on Bella for being a Mary Sue: Meyer never imagined that Bella would become a role model for so many young girls. Meyer simply created a character- a foolish, whiny teenager. Bella is a normal girl, not a hero, and she ends up with everything she ever wanted. No wonder teens want to be her. But enough about Twilight.)

My point is this, if YA spans across adolescence, what topics are off limits? What is age appropiate?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Have Nothing Interesting To Say

Which is why I haven't posted anything lately.

I've been writing- sort of. Untouched is only at 53K, it's hard to get back into the swing of things after taking my break to enjoy the weather.

Hopefully I have something witty to say soon.

Erm, yeah. Hopefully.


Here's an excerpt! Gwen's touch will kill James, and it's getting more and more difficult to fight her attraction to him. But maybe she ought to be fighting harder- especially when losing this dangerous game results in James' death...

* * * * *

He caught me staring at him, and he moved another half-step toward me. Our bodies were inches apart, and our faces even closer. I could feel the heat from his breath as he exhaled, keeping his eyes focused intently on mine.

“I'm not sure I can stay away from you,” I whispered. There was no need for us to be quiet, but the intimacy of the dim room made that moment feel so private, and those words were meant only for James.

“Then don't leave. Stay with me,” he said, lowering his face toward mine, our noses almost touching.

But that wasn't what I meant.

I was trying to tell him that I was loosing my battle of will. I was trying to warn him. I wasn't sure I could stop myself from touching him, from leaning forward and meeting his lips with my own.

My heart pounded against my chest as I inhaled, breathing in the warm scent of his skin. I inched my toes closer, and the space between us became smaller, and smaller and then suddenly it was far too small to be safe. With a soft sigh I tilted my face toward his.

I closed my eyes