Monday, March 30, 2009


Life is full of it. Whether you're a writer or not.

Main focus right now came from a quick comment on Charlie's blog, Approaching Utopia. Mentioning that I had nixed my prologue but after my first readers major confusion, I added it back in. (All the questions my reader had, were answered in the prologue..) Charlie replied to my comment, mentioning a post by Nathan Bransford that had just been posted, I hadn't seen it yet. It's about prologues. You can find it here, if you don't already read his blog.

Besides not knowing whether I should keep my prologue in or find a way to make the first chapter explain stuff without over loading it, I am uncertain about writing in general. Really the publication side of it. Should I try to get an agent? Should I submit directly to publishers that accept unsolicited stuff? I know self-publishing wouldn't work for me, I might sell a few copies to friends and family but it would probably stop there.

Once I'm happy with my current novel(it's a fantasy), and am sending out queries and such, should I keep writing in the same genre? I know it is generally not a good idea to switch genres as a never published writer, but I have been ironing out an idea for a sci-fi novel. In case my fantasy novel sells, should I shelf that idea and write another fantasy? But then, it may not sell and I may have better luck with sci-fi.

As a general rule, I do my best to avoid the 'what-if' game. Not working so well today. For now, I'm going to keep my prologue and attack it with the scissors. I know I can make it more to the point.

Question: Do you read prologues? Do you think they should only be used in certain genres or in certain cases?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Eyes Wide Open

Editing sure is an adventure. First I'm changing tense, that is always fun. Second, I'm combining almost every other chapter so far. I'm up to the original chapter five, it is now part of chapter three. I'm cutting a lot out of the beginning, I went a little backstory and info dump heavy. Backstory or back story? One spellchecker likes backstory, the other back story. Google was no help either. Anyone know?

I also don't think I'll be participating full force in NaNoWriMo this year. So much of my editing is due to the craziness of NaNo and the fight to get as many words as possible. I have added so many contractions to dialogue, it's crazy. I'll definitely be participating, I'll just be focused on writing well, rather than getting as many words as possible no matter what it takes. It's just not worth it on the editing end. :D A little extra time when writing, will save me so much more time when editing.

I'm sure I'm not the only writer out there that has learned things the hard way. It really is different on this side of the novel though. It's like once you finally stop being a teenager and realize that you really don't know everything. It took me until 20 to really get that. Figures it would take me until now to realize how much work a novel really is. Now being two and a half years after I decided to write a novel. (I'm 22 now...not a fan of counting half years in age anymore though. hehe.)

I have honestly fallen in love the site Forward Motion. It's an awesome site for writers. It's a huge site at first glance, takes a bit to get used to, but I'm loving it.

As I'm planning my next novel, I'm looking at it with a whole different perspective. I am still looking forward to it with excitement, just with a realistic view. I'm not going to let it take me two years to finish the first draft this time. Once I start writing it, I'll have a deadline set. Self-imposed deadlines do not usually work for me, the key is for me to tell as many people as possible about the deadline. Some of my friends actually find some kind of joy in tormenting me when the deadline is looming and I'm behind. hehe. It gives me the boost I need to finish though.

Deadlines, good or bad for you? Any little gems of knowledge you've learned as your writing adventure has progressed?

And I promise, eventually I will get the hang of writing posts that stick to some central thought rather than bouncing all over the place. Maybe. I'll try, we'll see. :)


Edited: My NaNoEdMo progress? 29 hours. 21 hours left and 5 days. Basically 4 hours a day if I want to get my 50 hours. Might happen. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oh My! A Post!

Even with my lack of regular posting, this was a long dry streak for me...I apologize.

Updates on me. NaNoEdMo hours sit at 31 hrs and 15mins.

Chapter wise I am done with my prologue and chapter one. I'm almost done with the new chapter two. (It's the new chapter two because the original got combined with chapter one.) I'm calling all of them my second draft. It's awesome to say that. Second draft. I never thought the first draft would end.

I did start a post about past versus present tense, but after doing some research into the topic I saw how heated the debate can get. I doubt it would get like that here, but I'd rather avoid it then risk it. I like to keep my stress to a minimum.

The main reason for my silence is that I went back to fix my prologue and it practically consumed me until I got it right. Okay not really the main reason, but at least the last week's worth of a reason. :D I just get distracted easily and don't realize how long since the last time I posted is. I think I'm going to shoot for at least one post a week. I'm not great with routine type things, but I think it'll be good for me to give it an honest try.

For my next project, I'm at the outlining stage. This time around I'm trying Lazette Gifford's phase method. She details it out in her article It's Just a Phase.

On a life note, new neighbors are moving in upstairs. It's been a noisy two days so far. I'm hoping they are all done moving furniture in and rearranging it. Normally you don't hear much from the neighbors here, but heavy furniture hitting the floor really makes a bang.

How are you all doing? (Or in my new Texas twang, Hower all ya'll doin?)


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Done the page edits!

Or line edits. Whatever I'm calling them today. I finished the last page at 9:43pm, central time, on March 11th. I couldn't sleep so I decided to start the task of imputing the changes into the Word document. It's been so long since I started that I felt I've been away from the beginning of the novel long enough.

It took me almost 30 minutes to be happy with the first two pages. Well. The first two pages after I finally decided to nix the prologue as it added nothing to the story and was only there to show off the backstory I had written. Didn't delete it completely, just out of the second draft file. I am an avid saver. Even if I'm deleting a sentence, it gets copy-pasted unless I know I have it saved elsewhere. Now that I'm working on the second draft, I don't have to copy-paste, everything is perfectly preserved in the first draft file.

I really do think I am going about this in the most difficult manner possible, but it is what is working for me. Next time I'm ready to edit a novel, I'm sure I'll try something else. It will help that I am a much better writer than I was when I started writing the first novel. Seeing how many careless mistakes I made really taught me a lot. And I learned that spelling out all words simply for NaNoWriMo word count really is NOT worth it later. I don't think I used a single contraction in the section from NaNoWriMo.

Overall, I am happy with how the editing process has gone so far. I only found one minor plot hole. I managed to find all the big ones while I was still writing. Okay, two plot holes. One minor and one just silly. My characters were last seen at point A heading for point B. The next time we see them, they are on their way to point E with no explanation as to how they ended up going that way. I knew why, but I kinda, sorta forgot to tell the readers that.

I also discovered I overuse the word 'quickly'. At least in my mind it is overused. I wouldn't see it for pages, then I'd use it five times on one page. It's my crutch word.

I am wondering about tense in novel writing. This one is a fantasy novel, so I'm thinking past is the best. I know, I've already written it, why am I asking about tense? Because I wrote it in present tense and am now switching it to past as I type up the fixes. I write all my stories in present. I see the story in my head as if it is really happening right now. So that's how I write it. I don't like reading present tense. 'said' disappears on the page a lot easier than 'says' does to me. Of course I still have time to change my mind as I've only managed to type in three pages worth of corrections.

What do you think? Do you like writing past or present? Which do you write in? Does genre really matter? I honestly want to go to the library now and pull random books off the shelves and see which one wins. I believe past is the 'standard' of novels, but I'm not really sure. I'm still a newbie in terms of the novel writing world.

Have a good day, (and I actually mean that!),

P.S. I totally don't mind if anyone notices typos or other errors and wants to point them out to me. I'm notoriously bad at actually noticing errors on screen.

Friday, March 6, 2009

45 pages to go

I am literally 45 pages away from being done with the line edit. I'm so ecstatic I'm at a loss for words. These last two weeks have really been wonderful writing wise for me.

Now I'm just wondering if typing up the fixes is going to end up taking longer than I think it should. I'll find out. Hopefully starting on Tuesday. :D


Monday, March 2, 2009


My editing is going well. I'm line editing still. I'm on page 220 out of 398. Once I'm done procrastinating here, I'll be getting back to work. I tried to do the evaluate the scenes thing first, but I couldn't stand passing over stuff I know needed to be fixed. So I'm line editing, making notes about the scenes and chapters as I go. It's working for me.

I sit down to work and time just flies by. I seem to do around 10 pages a time before my mind has me look up, check the clock or check what page I'm on. It's nice. Before I'd be checking the clock every single page. Once I'm done the line editing I'll be typing it all up. Making changes with the scenes as noted, so far I only have one new scene to write, the rest either need to be rearranged or multiples turned into one.

Then I haven't decided, but I think I'll be printing it out again to give it another read through. At that point I think I'll also be willing to send it out to my first readers. And the first chapters to Critters. I like editing. It just is a lot more work than I thought. I didn't believe people that first drafts are really bad. Haha.

I'm trying to finalize an outline for my next project. It's not going well. I just switched which story I'm going to work on too. The one I wanted to work on is just not inspiring to me right now. The other one is. EIM. haha. That's what I label the pages about it as. Entry Into Madness is it's title. I started working on it forever ago. Then Ivory (the one I'm editing) took over and it got forgotten. Then the idea for the other one hit(that one's Atlantis Found) and I forgot about EIM altogether. I found the notebook I started working on it in. That's when I decided to switch my writing focus to it.

I use too many 'then's. And 'so'. But I've gotten good about editing that out.

Back to work for me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cheesecake (Mini)

I give in to my food cravings way too easily sometimes. I wanted cheesecake. First I tried making little mini ones, in my head that meant I'd be able to eat them sooner, even though all cheesecake needs to season at least overnight. Yeah. Then just yesterday I made a normal one. I forgot to take pictures as I was making the big one, so I just have a final product shot of that one. I've got step by step of the mini ones though. What isn't included is my mad dash to the store because I was out of muffin tins. The one thing I always have a ton of.

This recipe is a product of my brain and reading tons of different cheesecake recipes.

First the crust. I use my blender to make the crumbs. I used half graham crackers, half vanilla wafers. This recipe makes way more than is needed for the mini cheesecakes, I actually ended up using the rest of it for the big cheesecake. Ran a little short on the crust for the big one, so that crust is thin. This recipe can be used for the big one's crust or for the minis. I'm going to double the cheesecake mix for the minis, that will use up all the crust.

2 cups cookie crumbs, I did 1 of graham crackers, 1 of vanilla wafers.
1/4 cup of normal white sugar
6 Tablespoons to 1 stick of butter, melted.
1 tsp. cinnamon. This isn't necessary, but I like it. :)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all the ingredients together. I mix all the dry first then add the butter, the 6 tablespoons first, adding more if needed. It really depends, you need the crumbs to stick together a little, be able to form into the pan basically. I use a fork to mix the butter in.

For mini cakes:
Line a normal muffin tin with the muffin cups, I used the foil ones with a paper liner, they worked perfect for this. If you are one of the lucky ones, with a mini cheesecake pan, feel free to use that, I don't have one. I'm guessing you would grease it like a normal springform pan. Spoon a soup spoonful into each muffin tin. Oh. This will make 24 minis. So two of the 12 muffin tins. (You know, I bet you could use the giant muffin tins too, just would have to increase the cook time.) Set aside till you're done the batter. (No baking of the crust needed.)

For the batter for the minis:
2 8oz packs of cream cheese, (two boxes) softened. Just pull them out of the fridge before you even start the crust and it should be good by the time you get to it. Unless your kitchen is exceptionally chilly.
1/2 cup of normal white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Cream the sugar and cheese together, then mix in the eggs and vanilla. Mix it just until it is all combined, you don't want to sit there and stir it for an extra 5 minutes just because you can. Cheesecake batter is picky. I just used a spoon for this batter. Didn't pull out the mixer until the big cheesecake. Now you'll want to spoon the batter into the muffin tins evenly, using again, a soup spoon. I'd suggest starting with just a little in each, then going back over to make sure they are all as even as possible. As you can see, I ran out of batter. :)

Bake them in the oven for 12-14 minutes, it took the full 14 in my oven. You want the centers to be a little wiggly still, but just a tiny bit.

This is how they look right out of the oven. You want to let them cool in the pan a minute or two, then pull them out and put them on a wire rack. Then into the fridge they should go, overnight is best. But I think if you made these first thing the morning they'd be good for dessert.

This is how they look on my plate. I didn't wait, I ate some right away, when they were still warm. I was not impressed. Cheesecake really does need to sit. The next day, my friend was over and we tried them. These are so delicious. They really are worth the wait. You can top them with practically anything. The favorite for me is strawberries. Sadly I cannot get decent fresh ones down here. You can use frozen fruit, pie fillings, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, the limit really is your imagination. I'm quite happy eating it plain until I get some good strawberries. When I have fresh strawberries I slice them up and put them in a bowl with about 2 teaspoons of sugar and let them sit. They get super juicy and delicious.

For the big cheesecake. You need a lot more stuff. Mine failed rather wonderfully. So I'll not be posting the recipe I used. I'll be tweaking it and trying again sometime soon. I can't stand when a recipe doesn't work, I have to fix it and try again. :)
How did it fail? First I messed up the crust by only using what I had leftover from the mini ones, rather than making more. So the crust is very thin. Second, the cooking instructions with this recipe are faulty. The cheesecake didn't cook enough. I was trusting, the middle was still wobbly,but it was supposed to be. I made it yesterday, today, the middle isn't right. It's super creamy, like the texture of coolwhip. The edge is nice and cakey though. The thirdly, it calls for almond extract. I figured I'd give it a try. I don't really like it, but with everything else that went wrong with this cheesecake, I'm not ruling it out forever, I'm just shelving the idea of almond extract instead of vanilla in a cheesecake for a while.
I am giving the cheesecake another day to season. Hopefully this recipe just takes longer to season then most. Who knows. We'll find out. Right now I am not expecting it to change much, but it may.

Enjoy the minis! You can cut the recipe in half to make just 12 of them. Depends on what you're making them for and how many people will want them. Two a person seems to be the magic number with these ones.