Friday, October 31, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place every November.  It is a challenge to yourself to write 50,000 words in the month.  It is also a great community that is there to support you with reaching your daily word count and ending the month as a winner of NaNoWriMo.  You can connect online or meet locals in your area for write-ins and support.

For me NaNo is kicking off this Friday at midnight with a write in.  I did not make the write in last year because it was on Thursday and I have a job that expects me to show up and be safe and productive on Friday.  This year after taking my kids trick or treating I will be heading to meet my local group and start my novel.

Last year was the first year I participated.  Last year I learned that there are many, MANY people who actually plan out their whole novel. They have outlines, written scenes, character descriptions, plot and an ending.  These people are called planners.  Everyone I met in my local group were planners.

I found this approach amazing.  Which is when I learned that I am a pantster.  As in fly by the seat of my pants.  Doing all that work before starting seems a bit like cheating. I sit down on November 1 and see where my muse takes me.  I generally start with a character and as the characters start growing and rounding out they take the story to its conclusion.

I was talking with an author from my writing group today and I think I am going to re-write the first novel I wrote.  I am amazed at how much my writing has improved since I started writing a couple of years ago.  I think I may even write it from the first person perspective instead of third.  Every time I edit the book I just fix some of the grammar but I think scrapping it and starting over will give me the novel I am hoping for.  It has received praise so far and I like the characters and the story but I know it can be so much better.

My writing group friend asked if that was okay, using a work that has already been written?  I am not going to edit the story.  I am not even going to look at it again.  I am going to use the characters and the plot.  That is sort of like being a planner for this time out.  I am still a pantster at heart.

Who out there is joining me in NaNoWriMo?  Are you a planner or a pantster?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Write Like...

I recently found a website that analyzes your writing and compares it to a famous author.  That sounded like fun.  So I gave it a whirl.

I decided to try the story I have on Wattpad.  It said:
I write like Gertrude Stein
Here is the link to the story:

I was pretty impressed with that comparison.  Then I thought about how much my writing has changed and wondered if my writing style was consistent across my works.

Then I wanted to check my very first novel.  The results:
I write like William Shakespeare

Okay, so my first book is like Shakespeare and my latest is Stein so what about my sophomore work.
I write like David Foster Wallace

I belong to a wonderful writing group (CBW-LA) and we published an anthology (Story Sprouts) on voice this year and I had to write a story about a ship wreck.  This is not a normal topic for me so I was interested to see what writer this work would be similar to.  The answer was:
I write like Ursula K. Le Guin
Here is the link to the anthology:

If you want to check out your writing style you can follow the link below
I Write Like:

What's next for me?  Well I don't know the last two author's works so it is time to do some research and read some of their books.  Maybe brush up on my Stein as well.  I was really hoping for Steinbeck so I will keep trying with some of my other work.

Please share your results.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why is it...

When I have to travel I get lofty ideas of all that I can accomplish.
I won't have children to take care of, no dogs to take care of, no long commute to work.  Of course I will use that time to exercise.  How great to have a gym and a pool.

If I am going to be away for more than a couple of days I think this is a great way to get a habit started.  I some how never start my new better for my health habits on these trips.

At night I will be by myself, no feeling guilty about writing instead of spending time with my husband.

Yet somehow the sneakers stay in the suitcase.  My writing sits fallow.  Why is that?

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Why is it that parents continue to believe their children should be obedient, like the family dog?  Has their ever been a child who has truly been obedient? And if so would you really want them to be?

There are times I am one of these deluded parents and I really wish they would be.  This is generally after a long day when I have a headache, or when I know they are about to say something embarrassing in front of a business associate, our priest, or their teacher.

My children NEVER take any answer I give them as final that they don't want to hear.  What is really great for their future but right now can wear my patience so thin that the curse words or the desire to run away are just about to break through is their belief that it is not okay to take no for an answer. Somewhere along the line that was beaten out of me and I am ready to give up much more quickly than I should.

Another trait that both my children have is that they problem solve.  They do not whine or beg instead they throw out alternative options and answers to whatever they think are my arguments against what they want. Are you not letting me to play with my friend because you don't want to drive me there?  Well don't worry, I can ride my bike.  Maybe you are saying no because you think it's a bad time?  I spoke with them on Friday and they assured me that today would be a great day to get together.  I have all my homework done.  If I'm not playing with my friend I will ask to watch TV and you don't want me doing that.

I'm amazed at their tenacity and the solutions they come up with.  These skills that they seem to innately posses will be such an asset to them as adults.  I keep that in mind when I am straining to keep my patience under their barrage of answer changing options.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Personality Traits

I am reading "The American Heiress" by Daisy Goodwin.  Her main character, Cora is very well developed and even though I still have half the book to go, I know that her overriding personality trait is going to get her in trouble.  There is another character already scheming to use it against her and the situation where it will come to play is set.

I took a break from the book, letting the unraveling wait, and re-read my manuscript to see if my characters were so tangible and so well formed.  Unfortunately I couldn't do it.  My characters are so real in my head, I have lived with them so long that I cannot process only what is on the page and tell if that is enough to build them fully in someone else's head as well.

My husband doesn't read my work unless I really badger and beg.  Which is too bad as he is an excellent critic and very well read.

I need to outsource my Beta reading to others but it is hard to ask them to read your work in progress too many times. Plus if they read it as much as you have they get weary of it too.

The only way I can think to try and get a fresh perspective is to walk away from it and work on something else and then come back and try again to read it and see if the characters are fully formed. Sadly that hasn't worked for me to date because I have lived with these characters so intimately I don't forget anything about them.  My muscle memory of them is too strong.

Does anyone have any tricks or techniques they use to get a fresh, "outside" perspective on their work themselves?  Do you have to keep finding new Beta readers to achieve this goal?  If so how do you find a large, trustworthy supply of Beta readers?

I look forward to your comments and assistance.

Happy writing,

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Best Vacation with Dogs Ever! Quail Lodge and Golf Club - Carmel, CA

Carmel, California was never on my radar as a family vacation destination.  We only had a three day weekend but because we had the whole family, including our dogs, we drove up.  The drive took up a lot of the time and I would fly next time if we only have a three day weekend again.

We have never been to anyplace that was so welcoming of dogs.  The city of Carmel and the Quail Lodge and Golf Club were incredibly dog friendly.  The hotel was our first stop.  We checked in and were given a bag for each dog.  The bag contained a blanket, a collapsible dog bowl, a stuffed quail, and doggie bags with a flashlight on the holder.  We were also given a card for the hotel's dog liaison.  Amazing.  The dogs were welcome every where around the hotel and at all the outside eating areas.

The next day we went into Carmel.  I picked up a free map of the city and the map showed all the places where dogs were welcome. We started at the beautiful beach.  There was a huge sand dune that my kids and dogs loved running up and down.

After a fun morning at the beach I took the kids to the Monterey Aquarium. It is a great aquarium. I was surprised how much my kids enjoyed all the interactive parts of the exhibits.  I was there to see the actual sea creatures but my kids loved the computers, and other hands-on parts of the exhibits. I would give yourself at least two hours to explore the Aquarium.  I don't think you could see it all in less time.

While we were enjoying the Aquarium my husband was enjoying a round of golf at the Quail Lodge. The restaurant at the club even has a dog night every Wednesday.  On Wednesday evenings they have drink specials on Greyhound and other drinks with dog names and on appetizers; and of course dogs are welcome.

We returned to our spacious hotel room after a full day of activities.  One of which was spending almost an hour walking around an amazing candy store near the aquarium.  While my kids attacked their candy, which I had lugged around in my purse for hours, and watched TV my husband and I sat out on our private patio overlooking the golf course and relaxed with a glass of wine.

The hotel room had a large footprint with a vaulted ceiling, mini fridge, skylight, large bathroom and closet, with an inviting window seat.  We never felt cramped and thanks to two comfy chairs and a table we did not have to sit on the bed for everything- as is the case in may hotel rooms.

The hotel staff were always friendly and helpful.  The hotel had a lot of amenities and lovely grounds to walk around.  We took advantage of the pool and bocce ball.  Since I had forgotten my sneakers I didn't get to use the gym, which looked first class as I passed it on the way to the pool.

I would whole heartedly recommend a stay at the Quail Lodge, especially if you are looking to spend quality time with your loved ones, including those of the four legged variety.