Don’t Wait Until The New Year

After the Christmas presents and cookie eating is over many of us will hunker down and create a list of things we want to accomplish over the New Year. Be it a level of weigh we’d like to slim down to, a mountain we’d like to climb, walking every day or… maybe even write a novel.

Indeed it is refreshing when another year comes off the books and there is a chance to start again. However, most of you know these goals sputter and fade within a few weeks — if they get started at all. The reason for this post today is because I was doing something all writers and goal makers do from time to time – telling myself the perfect time to write is just around the corner. I have done this again and again before realizing I’m going nowhere.

I have excuses a plenty. My daughter is just getting used to sleeping through the night and wakes up crying, sometimes for hours, before settling down again. Three naps of two hours does not help. My work picks up this time of year, and I detest getting up and rushing to the computer screen, and my family and I are just plain busy.

There, I’ve got them out.  I’m done complaining. I’m writing.



Holiday Reads

Christmas TreeAs we approach the holiday season I start to think of books. Books that I would like to read which remind me of this time of year.

My ideal time for reading would be late at night, snow is on the ground, all is quiet in the house and the room is solely illuminated by the lights of the Christmas tree. I remember doing this while I was young and still enjoy it now, only I drink coffee.

While I peruse my bookshelves I am reminded of several books that I would consider “Christmas reads”. Either because they are popular this time of year or because reading them gives me a sense of the season. My scant list is below. Please feel free to add your own favorite holiday reads in the comment section below.

  1. A Christmas Carol – The season just does not seem complete without Marley’s ghost, Ebenezer Scrooge and the lot. I try to read this every year. It’s only a hundred pages or so.
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia (NOT the films) – Winter is a constant in Narnia when Peter, Edmond, Susan, and Lucy step through the wardrobe. The world is
    Marley's Ghost
    Marley was dead to begin with…

    never the same. I am starting with book one of the seven book children series in hopes of finishing by the New Year. Short and entertaining, a classic already.

  3. Luke chapter 2 – from the Bible. I remember my grandmother would recite this from memory just before we opened presents to remember why we celebrate this day and why it is important. I plan to do the same for my children keeping her tradition alive.
  4. Frankenstein – I know this looks like a typo. This is a Christmas list right? The myth is that Mary Shelley wrote this while cooped up as a vicious storm blew outside. Also, the book starts in the far north, during winter on a sailing vessel.  For some strange reason I am reminded of Christmas.
  5. Anything Dickens really – this is broad but my favorites this time of year are, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield.

My list is short, but this time of the year tends to be busy and I have to sneak in what I can. How about you? What do you like to read this time of year?



What Would Make You Interested In Attending a Writer’s Conference?

On February 8th 2013 two of my writers friends and I are launching Jot a mini writer’s conference. I have a fifteen minute segment as a speaker to address the attendees. I wasn’t sure what I was going to discuss. I have been writing for a while and have learned many tips along the way.

So, in my search of a topic I decided to talk about things I wish I knew before I started writing. Things like – the longer the novel the more likely it will not be published, don’t waste time on silly things like font or spacing or page format, writing is best done alone but you need other writers for accountability, and so on.

I’m still debating the topic and wanted to reach out to my audience here and ask what they would like to hear about if they attended. Also, if you have attended writing conferences before, why did you attend? What did you learn there and why would you go again?

Please fill out the poll below or suggest one in a comment.

I appreciate your feedback.

Happy writing,



Tips for Editing Your Fiction Novel

Editing can be an intimidating process. After months or years of slaving over your novel, going back through it again (at least for me) can be debilitating. I think the hardest part of writing is that you learn so much through the process of a draft that by the time you are done and go back to view the beginning, it can be unsatisfying. Not because the novel was unfinished, but because I’ve come to realize it is only a small percentage of the work that lay ahead in the wild dream of publication.

So here I am carefully editing like one would analyze a game of Jenga. There are parts that are poor and plot points that need to be removed. The key is knowing which ones to remove. If I kill one which zigzags through my story like a stray bottle rocket, I lose the continuity of the others. And if these unnecessary plot points are not cleanly removed, they will sit like a resplendent spiral staircase to nowhere. Oh the joy!

To get through this editing crucible I’ve developed a plan. Though it has been a slower process than I expected, I am gaining traction. 402px-Jenga_distorted I hope these tips will assist in editing more efficiently to help you get through the rewriting blues.

  1. Write a list of your plot points. Find out which ones are maintained through the book and which ones you no longer need and cut them out. If needed, sprinkle them in so they stay fresh in the readers mind.
  2. Look at each chapter and make sure it is necessary.  A beautiful snowy vale or slow walk on the beach has to mean something, it cannot a spectacularly scene of literary drivel and not advance the plot.
  3. If you have not already done so make a list of characters and be sure they behave how you intended them to behave. Keep them in character. Don’t have the villain help someone up or notice a sunset, unless that fits, etc.

Now, you have three large chunks evaluated: Plot, Chapters, Characters. So,

  1. Review each paragraph. Make sure they can be understood by themselves. Especially watch the pronouns in scenes where multiple characters appear.
  2. Examine your work for repetitive phrases. See if you have said “Oh my!” a hundred times. Or perhaps you use Verily, or the same descriptions, rewrite or cut them out.
  3. Grammar. I left this for last – intentionally. If I focus on this as I edit I loose… well – focus. I’m not an accomplished multi-tasker. It is best for me to print off my chapters, double spaced, and find a quiet place to read them aloud. I take my time to try and catch any and every mistake. Also, if it is helpful, keep a grammar book nearby. The book will help with coma usage, which or that, and other common misuses.

Lastly, don’t worry about font or page numbers. Most of the technical things are left to the publisher’s discretion. Also, you’ll just end up reformatting anyway because each agent/publisher/acquisitions editor will have their own submissions process and guidelines.

Keep Writing.