Monday, December 10, 2012

Dictation Software.. the good, the bad, and the kinda embarrassing...

Okay, so this is more of a ramble than a legitimate post... I shouldn't even admit this, but here it goes:

I have been using Nuance Dragon dictation software, off and on for about two years now.  I love it.  It really helps with those high word count days.  You know, when your brain is jazzed and you just want to fly through the story while its fresh and exciting?!

That is the UP side... I would just slip into that headset, and daydream out loud... and the words would just appear on paper as if my Muse were taking notes FOR me!


Here's the catch... my Muse stinks at grammar, and don't even get me started on the run on sentences! I'm not talking normal run on sentences, either. (my weakness, as it is!)  I'm saying that there is not a coma or period in that entire manuscript that I didn't SAY.  Literally.  I have to say "period".

You CAN get down the bulk of your story fast this way... but if you just plow through with the dictation software, never proofreading at the end of days work... be ready to spend some time on extensive edits.

I'm not saying edit as you go. Not at all... Unless you're Dean Koontz... that will put your story in some serious peril. 

I just mean, if you are going to use some dictation software... the very best way to do it, is to dictate, then correct the typos and punctuation THAT DAY.  This is not editing, per se... this is an investment in your future sanity.

Otherwise, the mistakes can all start to blur together.  It can knock some of the wind out of you, for sure.


I love my dictation software... I'm just saying... use with caution. ;)

Nano's over... now what?

... more of the same, my friends.

We write.

What? You've finished your draft? Hooray!

Now we edit!!



A writer's work is never done.

Now, I have had a hard time switching from not judgemental writer, to hyper-analytical editor... so I'm just going to tell you ... I don't have the answers... BUT.. I know a few writers that have a pretty good idea!!  Most of them are in my Blog Roll or they have commented on some previous posts. *you guys are freakin awesome!*

 But one of them wrote a little mini-book on the process. 

Well, she actually talks about the WHOLE process.  So, While I don't have a lot to say here, as I am up to my eyeballs in editing my novel, myself... I will refer you to her!

I have mentioned her a few times in the past... but this book is pure gold!

I am a mix of discovery writer AND outliner to some degree, still experimenting to find my way.  But along my journey I have realized that, like most OCD's, I value efficiency.

I am not enjoying my writing time, unless I feel productive.  This sometimes means more than just a high word count... I want quality AND quantity.  I want less revisions, less time discovery writing, and less time straight up outlining, and MORE time with my story. 

In a nutshell. I don't want to waste time, just because I have it. I want every minute to count.  Unrealistic, maybe. But a girl can dream. :)  *that's what writers do, after all* 

Enough of my late night rant... ENJOY!

Happy writing, friends!!


The author of 2k to 10k: Rachel Aaron's blot is

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Where there's smoke...

So, it's day eleven of NaNoWriMo 2012:
 my word count should be no less than 18,337 words for the month.  It currently stands at 17,894.  Not too shabby, considering that I've missed three whole days of writing due to work! (I caught up on Friday, thanks to my NaNoBuddy Suzanne's #6kFriday idea.)

I'm in that place where tons of other story ideas are trying to lure me from my current WIP... this in nothing new.  If you have read some of my past posts, you know that my brain loves throwing me shiny new ideas at the absolute height of my current project just to thwart my efforts. *My subconscious is diabolical*

So, I usually give in to the Siren Call of the new idea... this is why I have sooo many novels in my office that are currently unfinished stacks of paper waiting for my return (it's like Misfit Island in there! I feel so guilty), but this NaNoWriMo, I asked myself...


Why do I feel compelled to set aside (essentially abandon), my beloved characters and their story after we have been through so much together, only to start fresh with strange (albeit mysterious and intriguing) new characters?

What is happening in my WIP that would make it so easy for me to set it down? 

Have I grown so attached to them, that I stopped creating the essential conflict inherent in good fiction simply because I don't want them to suffer?

I think I have.

I need to blow some shit up.

I'm off to wreak havoc on characters that I love... this is gonna hurt.

 How about a little Gasoline as an incendiary to this writing challenge:

How about you guys?  Blown anything up lately?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo - November 2012

It's NaNo time, boys and girls!

Time to turn off those TV's, and focus every spare ounce of your energy and creativity into that ever growing WIP!

A season of too much pizza, coffee, and pixie-stix overload!
 (I don't know about you guys, but by week three of last NaNo season, I had developed a pretty significant eye twitch.)

My NaNoNovel is in the suspense genre (of course), so I spent the last month plotting and planning... to the great concern of those around me. :)  Fortunately, my husband finds it cute when I plot murder and mayhem.

What genre are you guys writing?

I am going to be checking in on facebook daily, and on the blog weekly! 

To all my friends participating in this fun, and challenging event:

Happy writing!


Monday, October 15, 2012

EMS: Those pesky little details...

I love crime dramas, mysteries, thrillers, and psychological suspense.  It's my thing.  I like crime shows and novels, and have a passion for writing in this genre... I just am fascinated by it all.

When I decided that I wanted to be a writer, the advice given to me was "go live a lot, so you have something to write about".  That made enough sense to me.  I felt like I wasn't qualified to write what I wanted... like I would make a fool of myself if I tried to write an entire book as green as I was at writing, hell, at life itself!

I thought that some knowledge would just come with age, but if I wanted to get to the heart of the human experience (where I believe most good fiction focuses), I needed to put myself in a position to live there.  Immerse myself in it. 

In public service, Police, Fire, and EMS workers routinely encounter people on what is often the worst moments of their lives.  We see their births, their pain, and sometimes their final moments in this world. 

There is a toll that this takes on even the hardest of the hard.  Emotions are bottled, and humor deflects reality.  For some the outlet is working in the garage, or helping a neighbor with siding.  For others it is watching  a sad show or movie that gives you an excuse to cry without being questioned about why.

Not everyday is a life changing event, however, and (though I do not, by any means, want to downplay the emotional toll that this job comes with) some of the most challenging and frustrating and COMMON struggles faced by these individuals often get overlooked in fiction.

The devil is in the details, my friends.  So I made a little list... sort of a writer's guide to emergency response situations.   (I also would like to point out, that no two cities/counties are the same... there will always be slight differences from one jurisdiction/coverage area to another. Heck, sometimes partners don't even do things the same... but that's another post altogether.)

The quick and dirty on 911:

  • Split level houses are EMS hell.  You would not believe the sheer number of people who put bed-ridden grandma in an upstairs back bedroom.  Really.

  • Just because you can walk to the stretcher, doesn't mean you should.  If a patient weighs over 300lbs, and the stretcher weighs 100lbs... and the EMT weighs 150lbs... well... they don't lift themselves.  In these cases, the best thing to do is a side to side transfer.  Pull the patient over from their bed to the stretcher using the fitted sheet underneath.  You will not have to lower the stretcher nearly as far, or lift it as far.  If the patient is upstairs in bed... you're gonna need back up.  Call dispatch and ask for 'lift assist'. 

  • Even in some hospitals and or doctors offices, most elevators were not made with stretchers in mind.  No joke.  EMS personnel often has to struggle with 'breaking down' the cot and juggling monitors, oxygen cylinders, and other medical gear, just to fit in an elevator to get to a patient- and if they need a back board, this is not an option. *grrr*  In hospitals, crews often have to hike across the building to get to 'special equiptment' elevators. (for this, there are not words.)

  • Sometimes there is no street sign, no numerics on the mail box, or on really bad days, that road just isn't on the map.  GPS is not accurate enough for 911's, and in most places not allowed.

  • I don't care how many times you've seen it on ER... Asystole (flatline) is not a shockable cardiac rhythm.  Asystole = Dead.

  • The stereotypes on TV about Firefighters/EMT/Paramedics are tired and untrue.  They portray the women in only one light, and the men are all sluts... sure there are some, but they are just like everyone else- individuals.  Not all gambling addict, alcoholics with commitment issues.  Not self destructive due to major life traumas... just... no.  For the most part, they are pranksters with a jovial (if not crude) sense of humor.  They are just normal people.

  •  Dead bodies do not look easily identifiable in most cases.  (unless in is very recent) Of all the shows out there, Bones is the most accurate.  In a matter of days, people 'melt' into carpet... just be careful kneeling next to the victim... I've done that... dude. :(  Water makes it worse.  I won't go into much detail here, just email me if you have questions.  Just know, its messy.  The smell singes your nose hairs and stays with you for hours.  PD/Sheriffs Dept, take care of evidence while EMS stand by, Coroner does his/her thing, then once Coroner is finished, they all help load victim, together as a team, blocking the inevitable hoards of onlookers from view. 

  • Inmates in prison (at least in my state) do not wear orange scrubs and canvas shoes until they leave the prison grounds.  They wear bland tan, or navy, or gray until the squad is called and they need transported to a hospital or are doing trustee work off prison property. Then they are "dressed out" in neon orange with bold black lettering.   Even if the patient is hemorraging, you must wait at the 'sally-port' for the guards the vest, lock&load, and the 'chase vehicle' (a prison vehicle with armed guard) to be ready to follow the ambulance to the ER. Armed to the teeth.

  • Cars do not yield most of the time.  While they are supposed to pull to the right,  some pull to the left, and more often than not, they just slam on their brakes and stay in the middle.  People who are jamming on their radios usually don't even hear us and then nearly wreck when they happen to see the lights in their rear view.

  • When you have a code (cardiac arrest) you need a jump kit (an 80lb bag containing airway kit, trauma kit, portable suction, the medic kit (IV supplies, etc.), cardiac monitor/defibrillator, Oxygen cylinder, back board and straps (solid surface for CPR), the stretcher... dude, it gets heavy.  Try huffing it back to the squad  from gen pop in the middle of a prison hall while bagging and doing chest compressions whilst carrying 160lbs of gear, as inmates call out various critics of your derriere.

  • There is a lot of paper work... for everything.  A morning truck check out, a morning drug check out, run reports in triplicate for every run (aka: trip, or call), a run report and refusal form for every trip in which the patient declined/didn't need to go to ER... just.... everything, incident reports for unusual occurrences/events.

So, this is a list of just some of the everyday crap...  details that could add a little spice to a situation in your fiction... I hope someone finds this useful!  

Happy writing!  To those of you participating in NaNoWriMo with me this year, GOOD LUCK!!!

P.S.  you know that episode of Law & Order: SVU were Stabler's pregnant wife was in a MVA, and Benson was the only one who could fit in the crumpled car so the Firefighter/medic walked her through how to start and IV... THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN.  Thus, the importance of research... I lost a lot of respect for the writers of L&A that day.  It would have taken them ten minutes to call and ask someone how to write that accurately.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Accidental Critic

I have heard it said that when you are a writer, some of the magic of reading gets lost in all that internal editing that we train ourselves to do in the background. 

We deconstruct our favorite novels in an attempt to see why they work, counting POV changes, etc.

I heard it, but never really thought that it applied to me.  I can pick up any good book, and within seconds am happy lost in its depths, the critical editor in me curls up in her comfy chair right along with me.

Or so I thought.

As it turns out (according to my husband), my deconstruction occurs on in a different arena.  My television.

I am told that I cannot sit through a single episode of Bones, or Criminal Minds, or Dexter, or any such show, without turning it into a brainstorming style discussion about plot devices and character and pacing... you get what I'm saying.

I turn each episode into a writing class.

I had no idea... but apparently I've been doing it for years.  LOL!

My poor husband!

Do you guys ever find yourselves turning your favorite shows into lively discussions?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Dresden Files

I don't usually blog about television, but I am just gonna pop in to say that thanks to a weird mini-series on Netflix, I have found that I love The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

I was taking a day off of... well... everything, and I was surfing the Netflix when I stumbled upon the mini series.  I watched it all in two days. 



I then began to listen to the Audible audiobook series of The Dresden Files narrated by James Marsters (Spike, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).  


I am not going to give any spoilers here, but you guys... read/listen/watch.  Its really good. :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Satisfying Endings.

What makes the best endings in my opinion?

In a word:  Resonance.

I want to come up for air from amid those final pages gasping and reeling from the emotional impact of an ending so powerful, that I need to sit in my overstuffed chair holding the book and just basking in the post-read glow.

hmmm... is that too much? *sorry*

I want to feel giddy with the symmetry and structure of the perfectly executed plot timing.

I want emotional payoff.

I want to have never in a million years have seen that coming, but once I get there, I can't see it working out any other way.

And as a writer, I want to know how to do this. ;)

 I have been studying this topic, having just started the revision process on my own WIP, and here is what I have come up with thus far:   (only time and you guys with tell if I am on the right track.)

 All of the loose ends (plot threads) must tie up, and the two main characters (not necessarily lovers) must reconcile from a conflict, while solving the big problem, and inflicting poetic justice upon the villain, which simultaneously addresses the main characters internal conflict...and all of these things must happen very close together, but in a natural and believable way. 

That's it?

No prob.

LOL!  I have a bit of a headache just looking at that paragraph.

*rolls up sleeves* 

Wish me luck, you guys!

Some of my favorite super-satisfying endings:
(sorry, I had to make #1 a movie...
 the ending was that good!)

5. The Host by Stephanie Meyer

4. Bag of Bones by Stephen King

3. The Taking by Dean Koontz

2. Duma Key by Stephen King

1. Se7en by Andrew Kevin Walker

p.s. sorry if I wrongly led you to believe that I had some kind of formula or quick fix for endings... the truth is...there isn't one...but it sure is fun to dream about, huh?!


p.p.s here is an awesome set of audio pod casts about endings by some people who are super good at them:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Human kindness

One day, while I was still working at my horrific clinic job and commuting seventeen hours a week to and from work, I drove up on a pick-up truck that had slammed into the big concrete wall on the Interstate ramp.

I pulled over, and grabbed my stethoscope and bag, and ran (carefully) to the truck.  There were already several bystanders off on the emergency shoulder, and I arrived at the same time as another EMT who had been on his way to work. 

The truck doors were locked and the solitary driver was unresponsive, so a by-stander, a very nice business man in a tie, used a tool from his vehicle to bust out the back window for the younger and more flexible EMT to crawl through and unlock the door for a much less versatile me.

While my fellow EMT and I were in the truck with the unresponsive driver, a concerned young couple stood by the passenger door near me relaying between me and the 9 1 1 dispatcher.

 Another middle aged man in Carharts and work boots moved our cars for the fire dept. ambulance to park safely and directed traffic away from us to make the dangerous situation a tiny bit less dangerous (for us in the truck, I did fear a bit for him, but when I asked him to be careful, he simple smiled and winked. lol)

The fire dept. for that township arrived swiftly, taking over patient care and we all nodded and smiled.  We went our separate ways without another word. (except the good Samaritan business man who broke out the window for us, he gave a fire man his business card to pay for damages! How friggin sweet!)

The point is this.  Those people were all  busy, but when they saw a stranger in need, they jumped at the opportunity to be there, even though it was a rather dangerous Interstate ramp during rush hour.  I teared up a tiny bit on my drive home.  Those people were amazing everyday heroes.  I realized as I was driving home that they were like a Stephen King cast of characters, from Mile 81, or The Mist. 

That is something that I love in his fiction.  That human compassion. 

Not many of us get to experience that in our day-to-day lives on a big scale (thank God, because it usually is in a time of crisis), and I think fiction is a great place to  get that kind of connection. 

I love when characters in books make us tear up over simple heroic acts of human kindness.  It is inspiring and heartwarming.  It makes us want to be the kind of people who do those extraordinary kinds of things. :)

I'm really behind in my NaNoWriMo-ing in this week #3, so I have to go write... a lot... but that was on my mind this morning when I woke up, and I wanted you guys to know that Ohio has some really awesome people. 

I don't know who any of you are, but if you read this by chance... I was really proud of you all.

Norah Jones - I Think It's Gonna Rain Today

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August Camp NaNoWriMo Wk#2 (Brain Drain)

The side effect of writing all summer at a NaNoWriMo pace, is that I seem to have very little juice left when it comes to interesting blog posts. 

So, I shall blog about recharging between writing sessions.

Sometimes writing is so much fun, when I'm really synced up with my story and characters... but other times... it can feel like someone is inserting a 14 gauge needle attached to a 60cc syringe and forcibly extracting the story from my brain.  (too graphic? sorry.)

On the occasion when I walk away psyched and all amped up by my work, it is very easy to resume my writing the next day... but what about those other times?  How do we recharge?

Well, honestly... I don't have a consistent answer to that question... yet.

I have been avoiding the television.  I find that it makes it too difficult to say engaged in my story when the going gets tough, if I have all those other story lines floating around... not to mention the time drain.

I will free up an extra hour or so before bed, and try to just listen to my story soundtrack and just think about what has happened in my WIP.  Replay some of my favorite, or key moments and then spin off them into some new scenes.   If it works, then I have a direction to start in ... and sometimes that take on a life of its own once my fingers start typing. 

That is one thing about writing that I am still in awe of:  the way your brain seemingly switches over to a secret compartment once your fingers begin typing a scene.  It's like 'Whoa! Where did that come from?'

What are some ways that you guys recharge between tough writing sessions?  I'm all about trying new things here... anything. :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August Camp NaNoWriMo!

Once again, it is time for Camp NaNoWriMo!

I've been busy working on my world building over the summer, and after June's NaNoWriMo, and the month I've had to polish that off- I am happy to say, that my setting and characters are pretty well established to be able to pick up where I left off over the next 31 days. :)

My plan is to take the world and characters from June and push them farther... to a new breaking point... and beyond.

Hopefully most of them will survive, but given that it is a continuation/sequel to my prior WIP, I can't say much more.  *no spoilers* ;)

Happy Writing!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What I've learned this year...

Things that I have learned about myself this year as a writer:

  1.  I like to plow through the first draft at warp speed with minimal planning. I need momentum ( the product of the mass and velocity of an object: p = mv ) to keep going.  I can't write everyday feeling like I'm at square one. The bigger and faster the MS, the easier it comes.
  2.  I need an idea strong enough to carry a story, and just enough characters to start.  The rest falls into place as I go.
  3. If I'm bored while writing, I'm writing it wrong. Delete and try again.
  4. I like to sit and play out the scenes in my head, and get a feel for them before I begin typing (or dictating) them.  I play them in my mind, and hear the characters dialogue, it seems to come more naturally this way. After I have that scene, the typing flies by. I feel happiest with the scenes that I wrote this way.
  5. I must love my main characters.
  6. I must understand my antagonist(s), and empathize with how they came to be on that path.
  7. I must love something about each scene, or it needs deleted or changed.
  8.  I can't watch television while first drafting... unless a character on the show/movie, reminds me of one of my characters in my WIP. *then it's research ;)*
  9. I like all types of books, and I want my MS to be a complex blend of genres. Life is not one genre at a time.
  10. I can not read while first drafting.  It pulls me out of my story.
  11. I love word sprints. :)
  12. It usually takes me about a third of the MS to get my characters right.  I cast my MC twice, my villain four times, and my female lead three times.  But when its right... it makes all the difference. 
  13. "Casting" my characters is when I find their voice, mannerisms, and behavior tendencies.
  14. Chemistry is so very important. 
  15. It must not be forced, it must be fluent.
  16. I can not write in public places. I always find myself more engaged in the  people around me, than my story.
  17. Don't write for the market, write what you are personally passionate about.  Marketing is for later, not for composition. I feel it stifles originality and voice.
  18. A character picture (usually an actor), a soundtrack that reminds you of your WIP's tone, and just typing/writing that first sentence is usually all it takes to break through inhibitions.  The first sentence is always the hardest one.  Just type anything.
  19. Coffee helps.
  20. Daily goals, no matter how small are important.
  21. A friend to keep you on track and encouraged is priceless.
  22. It's not how complicated and elaborate your plot is, it's how you unfold the story.  Anticipation is thrilling.
  23. Make the reader want it before they realize its what you're doing.
  24. Everyone likes surprises.
  25. Very few things are more satisfying than completing a manuscript.
  26. Few things are more dis-satisfying than not writing.
  27. I like lists. :)
These are just some of the things I have realized about my own ever-changing writing quirks. What are some of your writing habits/preferences?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Wrapping up the first draft...

I am so excited to announce that the first draft of my WIP is complete!

*huge sigh of contentment*

I am going to go back and fill in some of the bigger plot holes, and then set it aside in three weeks to write the sequels first draft during NaNoWriMo 2.0.

So excited!

I'm not sure what happened, but somewhere along the way, my characters (who are completely different people now, from when we set out on the first page of this book, btw!) really worked some magic on me and I'm totally in love with this story, so much so, that I have turned it into a series in my head (something that I had never been interested in writing.) I don't want to leave my world or my characters just yet, so I'm going to let it ride. :)

There is something liberating about the knowledge that you don't have to fit everything into one book that is the end-all-be-all for your beloved characters lives... that there is more that this book for them. 

I wish I had done this sooner. (oh well :)

I'd better get back to work, if I'm gonna be ready for Aug 1st!

Have a great weekend, you guys!! :D

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Post- NaNoWriMo update...

Well, I did it.  I finally finished a NaNoWriMo! :D 

I'm so excited, but I don't have time to stop and celebrate... this story isn't done.  I have a feeling it's going to be a few more weeks of 2k/day writing to have the complete first draft. 

I'm hoping... planning on finishing up with this books first draft just in time to start the sequel on Aug. 1, for Camp NaNoWriMo 2.0!  

By the time I finish the first draft of the sequel, the original novel should have set long enough for editing. :)

As busy as I've been with this work load and writing schedule, as well as regular summer festivities, and that pesky gardening, I hope you all forgive me for not commenting on your blogs as much as I would like!  I am still reading on the go! And loving all your wonderful posts!

Wish me luck, you guys!  And heres a rough clip from my current WIP, just for fun. :D

Melissa woke with a start.  The clock on the night side table read 3:20am.  He left arm  found Jimmy's pillow empty, as it did every night for the last month, bringing her fully  awake.  
 She wasn't sure what exactly had woke her, but found herself being cautious and very quite as she made her way down the stairs.  
 She couldn't shake that feeling of unease.  The front door was locked, the dead bolt engaged.  Brushing aside the curtain, she peered out the side window to see the patrol car still sitting across the street. As much is it irritated her that Evan was the one who ordered them there, it did make her feel a little bit better.

She had never lived alone before, and was starting to consider maybe she should get a pet. There was no telling how long Jimmy was gonna be in the institution, and she desperately needed another personality around the place. The loneliness was palpable.

 When she walked into the kitchen she froze midstride gripping the counter next to her tightly, her eyes wide staring at the floor, but it wasn't what she saw that set her nerves on edge. It was what she smelled. 

P.S. sorry about the formatting... I'm having all kinds of trouble getting Blogger to work right. :(

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dog-gone Ninjas! A mid- NaNoWriMo -recap...

It all started innocently enough, here ----->
In my (almost finished) office.

June NaNoWriMo!

Sounds harmless enough... even fun!
I had a great starting point for my nano novel, and plenty of coffee and diet sodas on hand.

I was psyched!

Even my boxer, Abby, was supper excited!
  She grabbed her favorite snuggie and
 was right there, by my side!

 <------------- (see the excitement in her eyes?!)

 She's the best writing buddy.
  Always there to keep me company. :)

  But, my lil' guys quickly tired of the long hours spend in front of the keyboard.
They lost interest in curling up by my side while I gave all of my attention to my WIP.

So they went to the fence, to consult with the nefarious, yet brilliant, chihuahua next door.


<-------- (this is Gee)

Gee, advised them that if they wanted to end this silly NaNoNinny business, they would need the white ninja dogs.

 (this female warrior ninja princess dog, requests to remain nameless) ---->

<----------(This is Bob)

 Together, the nefarious chihuahua, my dogs, and the white ninja mercenaries, conspired to end the NaNoNinniness that prevented the nerdy humans from playing with them in their free time rather than tapping on those annoying clicky-pad-things.
The dog ninjas took out the power to my house! I was left completely defenseless with no way to charge my laptop, cell phone (for those all important Twitter updates), or even my wi-fi! *gasp*

But, alas!  I was able to overcome the obstacles thrown in my path by the EvIL bi-lingual chihuahua, and defeat the mercenary white doggy-ninjas thanks to my husbands very thoughtful gift:

<-- An Inverter for my car. :)

With the mobile power originally given to me in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse, I was able to generate enough power to run all necessary writing implements!

June NaNoWriMo was saved!

And I would like to point out, how very "Camp NaNoWriMo"  this writing environment was! LOL -------->

(Despite the scary shot gun casings that I found on my adventure into the woods.  It lended to a great scene in my WIP)

With their plot to destroy June NaNoWriMo thwarted, the puppies collapsed in defeat. (also, they were put in a time out for being naughty, but they asked me to leave that part out.)

 Mean while, I did fall a teensey bit behind schedule due to the mis-adventures of the unsupportive, yet very loving poochies.   So, I scribbled furiously away into the wee hours of the night to keep up my word count.

Thus far, I have managed to evade the still-on going attempts to derail my nano-ness from said four legged fiends... I remain optimistic, and we have compromised... as long as they are touching me, my laptop is okay...
                                                                 ...... for now.....

Copyright © 2012 Funny Cute Pics

Saturday, June 9, 2012

"Casey's Theory About Earworms".

(as advertised on Twitter) LOL

When I first started developing my story idea, I was listening to Lungs by Florence and the Machine, that song ‘The Hardest of Hearts’.

It was such a touching song, to such a strange beat that the contradiction stuck with me. (I mean literally, sang it for days)

I had a dream a few nights later about two characters, stuck in a situation based on the lyrics of that song.

The softest of kisses will melt the hardest of hearts, as the lyrics say. I had two, very different characters, from two very different worlds… and there was no way that the conditions were right for them to like each other, let alone, fall for each other. It just wouldn’t happen.

Then, of course, I thought… what would MAKE it happen? What set of circumstances would have to occur, for that to happen?

I was stuck. My brain hit a wall, and I didn’t know how to move forward. This story was not unique. It had actually been done to death. I didn’t have a single original thing to say. So, I shelved it.

…or so I thought…

The next couple of days, I had a completely different song stuck in my head. I don’t usually listen to the radio much (at least I didn’t, until this theory) and I didn’t even realized that I knew this song, but 30 Seconds to Mars’s song ‘The Kill’ was really stuck in there! I could not get it out!

At first, I hated it… then I liked it… then I realized: my subconscious is helping me with my dead end story idea!

I got excited when the new angle to my story started dancing around in my head. This time, from the antagonist’s POV. I had my entire antagonist’s side of the story top to bottom in rough cut!

So, though, I didn’t have an outline (cuz my dog ate it), I just did that scene snap shot for each day, I knew where my story was going to end up. I was going to try to ‘let it breath’ as they say. Try to work through the growing pains. *I’m still experimenting with what works for me.*

I had my protagonist and their whole story complete with goals/motivations, character arc, etc.

I had my antagonist and their whole story complete with goals/motivations, character arc, etc.

But… (here-in, usually lies my problem) blending all my worlds and situations into a seamless and engaging tale of suspense? hmmm… there’s that wall again.

Enter earworm #3.

‘Too Cold for Angels to Fly’ by Ed Sheeran. Boom.

So, here it is… my theory on earworms:

Our subconscious minds are so much smarter at deconstruction, resolution, and general story excavation than our conscious minds ever could be. To that end, if I haven’t heard a song in a week, and currently am struggling to move forward with a storyline, and that long absent song is suddenly all over me… listen up folks… cuz your subconscious mind is leaving you clues that your conscious mind might be missing!

If you subscribe to Stephen King’s idea that stories are ‘found things’ waiting to be unearthed… this might be for you. :)

I feel that our subconscious minds speak to us in our dreams, but when we are open to the signs... our super smart sides are leaving us clues everywhere!

Have you ever noticed that the very best ideas seemingly pop into our conscious minds out of nowhere while we are keeping the clumsy, pushy part of our brain too busy to get in the way? (driving, hiking, cleaning... etc.)

My theory is that our subconscious minds use association... I'm certainly not saying that your MC needs to get his credit report if you're singing about that waiter/pirate/guitarist... (Stephen and Jennifer ;) I'm just saying if there is something you need in a story... those little things that our subconscious minds do... those are the first place I would look. You never know... maybe your MC's identity was stolen and he is about to be framed for a crime he didn't commit. ;)

*Without going back and cheating... quick! Tell me how many times I said subconscious in this post!! Haha!*

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Then & Now

I have noticed more and more, in the last year especially, that my approach to writing scenes has evolved quite a bit.  For instance, in 2003, if I were to have an idea or a starting point, I would write that scene, then sit and ponder what that character would do next... literally.  Would they go home?  Yes.  Okay, so write about them at home. 

Can we say boring?  I was so ... step-by-step/ paint-by-number back then.  I remember it was so frustrating.  I would read these books and love them, but just couldn't break them down and see how they ticked. 

Then I started studying both fiction and non-fiction about how to write fiction.  I started reading interviews with authors.  Maybe the very biggest thing that I did since 2008 to train my mind how to construct tension was I began to listen to and stopped reading about how to write, and started actually writing more.

I am currently on day two of and my 1,667 words per day is going swimmingly.  But I'm noticing that as I approach a scene that just last year would have made me sweat a little, I simply said to myself...

I want to show that the husband feels at home in the hospital, it's his safe place.  I want to show that this patients wife is frustrated, but determined to not let that control her behavior.  She is a problem solver.   She keeps her struggles private.  I want her and the doctor to disagree about treatment, and she must find a way to understand why the doctor doesn't think she is good for her husbands rehab at this point.  what does she do?
I basically have a clear goal.  This is how my character is.  This is what I want to show you.  This is both to build my plot up, and reveal my characters to you, the reader.  Everything has a purpose.  Everything lends to character, plot, tension/conflict, setting, and eventually theme.... naturally, not with a gun to the head. :) 

I just wanted to share that.  It is a milestone for me, and I just today realized that I've reached it!

Yay, Me!! :D 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo is here!

I have a confession to make.  I now have a full time job on top of my full time writing.  I didn't want to do it... but alas... the bills must get paid, and I have grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle... and food. ;)

I work in emergency medicine.  There.  I said it. 

Okay, moving on... I am SO EXCITED for Camp NaNoWriMo this June!!!! I am all set up on my page, my NaNo coffee mug is ordered, and have my camping buddy Suzanne in my 'cabin'.

Life is good. 

So, here is a sneak peek at my novel for this NaNo season:

Title: The Closing

After her husband takes a bullet to the head in the line of duty, Melissa begins feeling like someone is watching her. No one can tell her what he was investigating, or why he was in that abandoned house, not his partner, or even her husband.

The doctors are calling it Traumatic Brain Injury. They say that he may, or may not recover. He may or may not spend the rest of his life the mental age of six years old.

With the unknown closing in on her, Melissa has no choice but to fight back on her own terms to save her husband... and her life.


Melissa Briggs pulled into the parking lot of the Weston Psychiatric Hospital in her beige Honda Civic.  Putting the car into park. She sat there with her hand frozen on the gear shifter.  One deep breath, then another… and another.  You can do this.  Stop thinking and just get moving. She scolded herself as another wave of nervous nausea hit her.  She took a sip of coffee, and digging around in her purse, produced a tube of waterproof mascara.  Pulling down the visor mirror, she touched up her makeup, and lip gloss.  Inspecting her reflection, she thought that she almost looked normal, except for that hint of swelling around the eyes and nose.  The tell tale signs of a late night crying session.  Crap. She slammed the visor up, and put on her Jackie-O sunglasses.  Grabbing her bag, she stepped out of the safety that her little car provided.  She smoothed her blouse, and worried for the hundredth time that jeans were not an appropriate choice to see your husband for the first time in two weeks.  Too late now, just stop thinking about it. 

Monday, May 28, 2012


Hey! I haven't vanished... just and unexpected and very temporary UnPlugging. 


I shall return next weekend.  I hope everyone has had a great holiday weekend! 

Happy writing friends!  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Siren calls...

In Greek mythology, the Sirens (Greek singular: Σειρήν Seirēn; Greek plural: Σειρῆνες Seirēnes) were dangerous creatures, portrayed as femme fatales who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.

I have been dealing with some of that yucky real world stress this week.  *bleh*

You know how that stuff goes for a writer buried in a WIP... at least for me... it goes something like this:

1. I fight off the stress with the initial "I can't deal with this right now, I have to write".

2. The stress refuses to be ignored, growing until it can no longer be called stress, but is now "that ugly thing that resides where my sweet temperament once lived".

3. I go days with out being able to write, but given the surreal state of my surroundings during these times, I don't even realize that much time has passed, until it's too late.

4. My characters seem a bit stale and distant.  They are angry that I have abandoned them, and are giving me the silent treatment.

5. I beg them to forgive me, reliving all those fun times we had together... while I convince my husband that it's not Schizophrenia, and it's normal for writers to talk to their characters. ;)

6.  My characters do not soften at my pathetic plea for mercy, instead, other characters that were listening in on these one sided conversations from the outerlands of my imagination, have entered and offered me comfort in a new story.  They are tempting and seducing me with bits of dialogue, and touching moments with unexpected joys and sorrows.  They make me want to explore this new world.  They make me want to forget the commitment to my current WIP, and I feel wrong about it... but the enticing world is right there... waiting...

It never fails. 

I will finish my current WIP.

I will ignore the Siren call of the next project.

I hope she waits for me.

How do you deal with the Siren call of the next great idea?  Do you stop what you are working on and write what you are feeling?  Or do you power through... after all, it is a job... right?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

From my crazy playlist...

A few weeks ago, I posted on my facebook page:

"I have been having trouble with character shifts, like POV.. I couldn't go from one characters voice to the other very easily...they are such drastically different people.

Solution: different play list for each main character.

I know ...what you're thinking...major time waster, right?

 On the contrary... if you have a feel for your character...just use ... poof! ready made soundtracks!

It has really helped me today!"
I would like to update that: 

LOUD music, I find, not only helps me to get into the tone of my WIP...but,I am staring to notice that if I pick the right play list for the scene that I'm working on, and really crank it in my ear buds (disclaimer: loud music may be harmful to your hearing;) it has a bonus of really shutting up my internal critic. :D
So... for this weekends blog post, I'm sharing some of my favorite and most ECLECTIC music choices for my writing ...

V'WALAH! *theatrical gesture* ;D

The Knux - Bang!Bang!Bang!

Florence +The Machine - My boy build coffins

Joshua Radin - No Envy, No Fear

Thirty Seconds To Mars - The Kill
(of course! LOL)

The Pierces - Got a Secret

Lykke Li - I'm Good, I'm Gone

Teddybears - Cobrastyle

Florence + The Machine - Bird Song

Club Foot - Kasabian

Beggar's Prayer - Emiliana Torrini

Yes, this is a very weird mix... I know... but I have different playlists for each of my characters since they are such different people. :) and I pulled a little bit from each. I hope you enjoy!

How do you pick your playlists?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Light layers... and a stiff drink.

First of all, let me begin this post by stating the obvious:
  I am still experimenting to find my most efficient writing system.  I have been writing for a long time, and have studied it for years... but I still feel like I can do better.  What I mean is... I still get way bogged down by all that story.

I have heard a lot of other writers talking about how they “write in layers”, and I thought that just wasn’t for me. I never was able to really do it.

I have been reading several different writer’s blogs over the last year, and they all do things a little bit differently… but the one thing that they all seem to agree on is layering… so, I’m finally giving it a try.

Wow.  Where to start?

When I thought of writing in layers, I thought that I would be layering the actual manuscript, (during the draft and composition phase), and that just seemed too confusing to keep all that straight. A novel is a HUGE undertaking, and to keep my notes and all the chapters straight is so overwhelming that more days than not, I’m a tiny bit frazzled. (hence my obsession with organizing.  Some days, it felt like all I could do was shuffle things around!)

If I’m being honest here, I will tell you that most of the (many) novels that I’ve started, were not finished because I simply got my plot lines “tangled up” (in the words of the great Stephen King.) I was hopelessly ensnared in a web of story that was too big for me to get my own head around and I simply wanted to start fresh with my shiny new idea and forget about the wretched thing!
So now that I have reached the dreaded point in my current WIP where I am, once again, getting my plot lines crossed... I tried something new (at least to me).  I broke my plot lines down,  as they are thus far… and ran through each thread top to bottom, looking for weak spots. I did this one at a time.

Then, I broke it down by character. From each character’s POV, each plot line… top to bottom… so far so good. I even saw a few neat new bits I could add just looking from a different POV.

So this is what I’m trying…

I know my ending… I know what has happened thus far, and what needs to happen 'tomorrow'. I don’t have a total story outline, so I am half outlining, and half discovery writing. So to try writing in layers, I am using the daily scene snapshots to log each days writing on a separate document, they fall together just like an outline so that I can see them all in order, or if I need to switch them around, and build off of them. 


It still amazes me, how one day I feel like my WIP is going fantastic, and the next, I feel like I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing even after years of practice and study.

This is that part where writers tend to feel like they are "playing writer", I suppose. :)

I shall power through!  Today I shall write 10k!!!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Negative Habit

[neg-uh-tiv] adjective, noun, adverb, verb, neg·a·tived, neg·a·tiv·ing, interjection
1.expressing or containing negation or denial: a negative response to the question.
2.refusing consent, as to a proposal: a negative reply to my request.
3.expressing refusal to do something: He maintained a negative attitude about cooperating.
4.prohibitory, as a command or order.
5.characterized by the absence of distinguishing or marked qualities or features; lacking positive attributes ( opposed to positive): a dull, lifeless, negative character

I am not a naturally laid-back person... I have to work at it. I know this seems like a paradox, but I tend to care about things a tad too much. What can I say, I'm a very passionate person. :)

I truly believe that negativity and complaining (constantly) are toxic to the body and mind, as well as addictive.

I strive for positive thoughts. After could always be worse, and you should count your blessings and be grateful. I try to keep my complaining to a minimum.

Don't get me wrong... I believe a good vent every now and then is very healthy... but I try to vent responsibly. No one likes that friend who still "vents" about the wrong that was suffered upon them last year.

I know this doesn't seem like a post about writing, but I truly believe that you need to have a positive outlook to be able to think creatively. Negative thought is very habit forming (not to mention, contagious), and if you are exposed to it on a regular basis, even if you try to stay positive, that negativity will seep in.

Once that negativity is in there... your confidence, energy, and even your characters suffer!

I never realized how common place it is, (at least in my neck of the woods), for these seemingly innocent little complaints, or negative thoughts to be used as the main structure of "small talk" until recently. It is simply terrible how many times I find myself in one of these conversations!

This is the stuff that blocks creativity, and I am actively trying to break this "Negativity Habit".

So the question is this: how do you block negativity from your day to day life when it is the socially accepted form of communication?  How do you keep a positive friendship with a negative friend?

Is this why writers tend to be hermit-ish? LOL!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Scouting for footholds...

I have never been one of those writers who can just sit down and write. You know who I mean, those people who “think with their fingers”, the free writers… I can’t even stand to just sit and type what I’m thinking!

If I were to get up each morning and sit down at my keyboard and free write for ten minutes, it might go something like this:
I have no real idea what to write today, but I’m going to sit my butt down here and type about my book until I get good and warmed up, even if.. I think I forgot to press the BREW button on the coffee pot, damn it… well… too late now, I set my egg timer already. It’s much too soon in the day to break my own rules. Speaking of egg timers, eggs sound really good right now… hmm.. I think that last thing I had to eat was that chicken snack wrap yesterday afternoon… that’s probably not very healthy. If I don’t eat better I’m gonna screw up my metabolism, at least that’s what mom tells me… speaking of mom, I should call her… I haven’t talked to her in a while… Maybe I’ll ask her to lunch this week. Maybe I’ll invite her to that new Cajun… crap! Write ABOUT THE BOOK, CASEY! Okay, about the book, the booookkk… soooo I’m thinking about maybe having my main character… oh you know what I think my villain maybe … um… suddenly there is an asteroid plummeting from the sky!!!
That is ten minutes of my life that I will never get back.

I think Ernest Hemingway said it best, in his quote:
“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

If I’m expecting to climb Mount Manuscript, I’m going to bring my climbing gear, and I am not going to start climbing until I scout out my footholds. That is my route to the top. :) Especially as a newer “climber”, being less experienced, I don’t trust myself to go wandering around on that mountain side with out getting completely lost.

I usually have a "scene snapshot", that consists of about a sentence description of what comes next:


Its one line, shortened as much as possible, just enough to remind me what direction/emotion my story is heading in this next bit.  I write this line at the top of that days composition note book page (I keep a fresh composition notebook journal for each project.) and then I mull it over as I wait to fall asleep.  If I have any additional thoughts about the scene, any ah-hah! moments if you will... I jot them quickly on the comp page below the scene snapshot. 

I have been doing this for a little while now, and I really has doubled my productivity! I am happier with my writing day, and enjoying it much more.  I wake up excited to get to the WIP that I have been gearing up for all night! 

I would like to point out, that this is not the same as an outline, but it has some of the same benefits. :) It is, quite possibly, the best of both worlds... a harmony of outlined preparation, with discovery writing fun!


If you like this way of writing, I recommend reading Rachel Aaron's Pretentious Title (she has many of these styles in her toolbox, plus her blog is fun to read.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Its official...

Okay, friends... I did it!  I took my husbands name. :) 

I am Casey L. Clark.

Currently my URL is

Since caseylclark.blogspot is taken, I have to put some thought into my new URL... I'll keep you guys posted on this, but for now, I'll just leave it as is. :)

I must admit, it wasn't an easy decision.  I have been Casey L. Conley for 31 years.  It was a bitter-sweet moment, when I hit delete on the Conley in my profile. 
I am happy, and excited for this new part of my life to begin, so I felt a tiny bit silly at being sad over changing my Twitter handle!

 *I know, right?*

I think we all have those moments, those little things that make us nostalgic. 

Exciting changes are happening, my friends!  In the last year I have undergone some major life shifts!  I have to say, its been a wild ride... but now I'm am so excited to settle into my new life (and a little peace and quiet!).

Its gonna be good. :)

p.s.  I have been a terrible blogger, with everything going on... but I shall do better! promise!!! :D

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What's in a name?

So, as some of you know... I just got married. *happy dance* 


I am in the process of taking my husbands name, do I change my public name? 

If I want to write under my legal name I should change everything now, before it is too complicated and I have contracts, etc... right? 

I have heard other authors talk about legal ramifications of using a different name for publication, when you switch publishing houses for whatever reason... not that I foresee this as an issue, but I do want to be smart about these things.

I would like to use my married name, Casey Clark. (the literary world loves Clarks :) *plus it has a Stan Lee style alliteration to it, much like my maiden name, only better!*

Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I’m pretty sure this is normal…


So, as I have mentioned before, I recently quit my job.  I am dedicating myself to my writing full-time.  *yay!*

So far, it has been two weeks.

I’ve scrubbed every inch of my house, cleaned out all of the closets, stocked the pantry cupboards and fridge, washed the dishes (countless times), made a few dozen pots of coffee… pretty much I’ve caught up on everything… except writing. 

*bangs forehead on desk*

My self-preservation/self-sabotage reflex is strong.  I poured every ounce of myself into my writing with my free time while I was burning the candle at both ends.  Now it seems that with a lack of “schedule pressure”, there is a lack of motivation. (and not a small amount of pointless fear mingled with my excitement).  To this I say: time to just do it.

No planning, or overthinking. 

This is the time to just get in the routine of writing.  Just sit at my computer everyday, even if I don’t keep what I write, I need to reconnect with that part of myself that withered during these last four months. 

And if the last two weeks have taught me anything, it’s that I need to do it FIRST THING! I get side tracked soo easy! *the other morning I went into my study, turned on my computer, and then went to make coffee while it was booting up, no problem, right? WRONG!  I wound up washing the dishes while I was waiting for the coffee, then proceeded to mop the kitchen while it cooled, and I was in full domestic scrub mode by 9am!* :)

So to all you writers out there that have gone through this rough patch… any advise or tips?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I hate laundry.

I missed yesterdays blog post.  I'm sorry.  Unexpected occurrences disrupted my day.  I have decided to do what all you smart blogger's that I follow seem to do... write my posts in advance.  :)

Sadly, I have a slight adjustment period from quitting my job to regaining my writing mo'jo.  Part of this is the realization that I have let my housekeeping obligations slip more than I am comfortable with, so I shall have to push this weeks blogging back.
I shall return on Saturday!
 (unless there is a laundry avalanche! If you don't hear from me in a week, send help!)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kiss kiss, bang bang

One of my favorite things in fiction as both a reader, and a writer:   Genre Blending!

We all like characters that we can relate to.  That being said, none of us fit into a tidy little box, like "action", "comedy", or "romance" (thank God).

Life is big.  And messy.  And chaotic.

Sometimes we fall in love, and then get hit by a car, and while heavily medicated we see dead people. 

It happens.

I am not speaking from personal experience here, I'm just sayin. ;)

I do have to make a distinction, however, because there is genre blending, and then there is cut and paste plotting.  I don't know if someone out there has taken the term cut and paste plotting for another definition, but what I'm talking about here is the difference between a great read, and a cheesy romance novel with adventure thrown in just to make the sex hotter.  *tsk tsk*

We have all read that book, or seen that movie that we are really into, and then all of the sudden, the characters switch gears with a big "reveal" and now we are reading/watching a completely different story!  Like the writer got bored halfway through, but didn't want to revise so they just kept plugging away, or wanted all of the elements of action and romance, but just didn't know how to marry the two.  I have done this.  No one will ever read it, but I have.  I learned a lot from it, and I want to be better than that, so I expect better when I read/watch. (examples are: Hitchcock, A Killer's Kiss

I think some episodes of Writing Excuses call this "breaking promises to your readers". 

I want to be put into the middle of a very tense situation.  I want to believe the danger, to worry about the relationship, and wonder at the unexplainable phone call from the deceased man. And I want it all to fit together.

I want the story to be pure story, fresh from Once Upon A Time And Place... to be so real to my characters that it feels like I'm there. (examples: The Taking by Dean Koontz, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, and Night Visions by Thomas Fahy, just to name a few.)

I have over the years come to realize that this can be a bit tricky.  I used to look at my favorites, like Bag Of Bones, and think that I could just put events in the story and it would work. (ah, to be young)
Now I understand that these things must connect... and often in more ways than one.

They must start at the top, even in subtle ways, everything is there, then as we weave our tale, the different aspects and genres become more prominent at varying times throughout our story.  Until eventually they all tie together in a tight little bow at the base of our climactic scene, leaving us satisfied with the strength of the weave, and no loose ends to tug at, save one... will there be another book? I want more!

Side Notes:

For a fun POV on genre blending, check out Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 7: Genre Blending

My favorite example of a tighly woven short story is Pop Art by Joe Hill, found in his anthology 20th Century Ghosts.  I had such an emotional range in the twenty minutes that story took me to read, that I was grinning like a fool while sitting all by myself thinking, "I will never be able to write this well!" You MUST read this story! :) *click here to get a copy from B&N for 99cents*

As per usual, this post is packed with links, happy surfing!

Grounding the reader using "The Pyramid of Abstraction"

In my geekery on writing education, I have stumbled upon a concept introduced in both of these sources by Brandon Sanderson (whom I have ...