Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Quantity Mid-Week

I've officially typed up all the pages I had stored from the last writing challenge (and a few new ideas in between). Well, all the usable ones anyway. Some I'm not sure if they'll end up on the cutting room floor or if they'll be nurtured into beautiful, angsty scenes, but for now they stay. Tomorrow I can get back to the business of writing fresh pages.

Do you remember that my goal for my February Austin RWA meeting was to have a completed rough draft of Danger? I'm eager to find out how far I'll actually get with it. By no means do I expect to have the completed rough draft. After all, the meeting is just under 2 weeks away and I've only got 75 pages. But at the same time, I think I can seriously be at least halfway done. Don't you?

Anyway, my goal for the March meeting will be the same again- to have the completed first draft of Danger. The difference is I'll expect more out of myself and my manuscript. No, I won't expect perfection. (I'm crazy, not stupid) But I do expect to have a lot more depth to it than it would have had if I'd finished it for the February meeting. I'll have 3 extra weeks to complete it so I should be able to delve more into my characters and their dilemmas. Then I can join the ranks of the querying, contest entering, revising, hope-to-be-published-sooner-rather-than-later group!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I Wouldn't Call It Cheating...Exactly

I haven't done much on the "quantity" plan so far this week. Every time I try I end up not liking what I put on paper. Today, in the classroom, I found one of my notebooks from my 100 words a day for 100 days challenge. Some of the scenes in there that have to do with Danger are REALLY bad. Some don't fit where the story has gone. And some are just right. So, rather than beat myself up about not producing and take on the guilt Monika is forcing on me (just kidding), I decided to type up some of those pages and tweak them as I write. The pages may not be brand new today, but they were new back then and they fit the story now. I'm increasing my page count and the quality of my story. In the end, that's what matters.

In other news, my event that got switched from the back end of the book to being the 1st turning point has now gone back. Actually, it's leading up to the Big Black Moment, the most critical point of the story. It feels better there and what I have in its place at the 1st turning point is much better for character development. (OH! In my 100/100 notes, I also found the plotted turning points for this story, the list I thought I'd lost quite a while ago amid many tears and great wails! What? You didn't hear me crying at the top of my lungs back in November???)

As for the progress meter, I'll update later on in the week...when I've made some progress.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jurus Interruptus

I went to work this morning as an ESL Coordinator. I spent 2 1/2 hours focusing entirely on my ESL aspect of my job. I LOVED it. Then I went downtown for jury duty. I spent 6 1/2 hours waiting to be told I didn't have to serve. This was my first time ever in a courtroom and what a fascinating experience! I thought I'd be able to write some during breaks and while I waited for my ride, but I didn't. The few phrases I jotted down were crap, so I stopped and I read instead. Hopefully tomorrow I'll move that progress meter!

In other news, my CP sent me 1/2 of my 1st chapter back with comments already. Thankfully they're easy fixes! I asked her to specifically make sure my characters' goals, motivations and internal conflicts worked. Regardless of what she finds, I KNOW I'm getting better. Hopefully she'll agree!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Quality Vs Quantity

As you can see from my new progress meter, I've made a little bit of progress this weekend. Not much, but that's okay. This weekend has been and will continue to be about quality pages. I've been tightening the first chapter, reorganizing the 2nd and 3rd chapters and plotting what comes next. I told my CP my goal was to send her the rough draft of the 1st chapter by Sunday night. That's going to happen. I want to start sending this to contests soon so I needed to concentrate on that opening.

Monday through Friday of this next week is going to be about quantity. Yes, my CP may get my 1st chapter back to me sometime in those five days, but I'm not going to worry about it. At the beginning of January, I'd decided to write the rough draft of this book in 4-6 weeks. I'm behind on that goal, but I still intend to finish it in the next 4-6 weeks. So this week I'm not going to stress over finding the right word, or putting my scenes in the right order, or putting in more description. I'm just going to write whatever comes to mind, whatever my hero and heroine dictate to me.

It's another new approach to my writing and I'm looking forward to the journey! As usual, you'll hear all about it during the week. Then next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I can once again turn to quality.

For those of you who write, have you found the perfect writing process for yourself yet or are you constantly trying new approaches?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Will Wonders Never Cease?

Bright and early, close to noon, here I am. Do you see what's new on the sidebar? Over there? Do you? Yes, the computer challenged lassie here managed to put in the progress meter from Writertopia. I'm so excited! I've admired the meter on other people's blogs, but didn't think it was something I could do. I surprised myself!

Okay, now that I can see the progress, I'm sooooo excited to get to work today. Yes I realize the day is technically half over, but I've only been up for less than 2 hours! My day has just begun. And now I'm off to make a cup of tea and then start working on my masterpiece!

Friday, January 25, 2008


I didn't know I had it in me! I was lying in bed, thinking about my manuscript and where I was going with it tomorrow when all of a sudden, a rogue piece of the puzzle fell into place! I've been able to "walk away" both physically and mentally from my story these last few days, but I honestly thought it was due to working for other people: students, co-workers, my writing friends I'm critiquing. ALAS, that wasn't it at all! Something wasn't working. I had all the pieces, but the puzzle wouldn't take shape. Since my 1st turning point has turned out to be some event I thought would originally come toward the end of the book, I was trying to force other pieces in the wrong places. For those of you who don't write, I won't go into the details. Just know this. I can move on, I've listened to my hero and he's happy with the string of events as I'm planning. The first 50-60 pages of the book no longer feel contrived. It flows naturally! Okay, I need to go back to bed. More on this stroke of brilliance tomorrow. Plus, I'll let you know if it's working!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


See, I'm so worn out I can't even come up with a more special title for this post! Actually, I'm not that worn out. I'm just keeping busy. I've been critiquing for my friend Jenna again and I'm so excited about this book. I also met a new friend through my Austin RWA chapter. Jess Dawson. Check her site out! She writes military suspense stories, so I offered to critique her book too.

As you can guess, I haven't been spending much time on my own masterpiece. Although I'm making use of those free minutes (in between lunch and recess, just before our school morning meeting begins, while we're all outside for pick-up, on commercials when I'm watching TV) and I've worked out some great scenes this way. Yay! I'm learning a new trick! Hopefully I'll become a master at writing in spare moments. I'll let you know.

I'm hoping to get at least an hour in tonight on Danger, but Jenna's story comes first. She's shaping it up to send in after a full request! I have given myself a new goal, though. I want to start entering contests again with Danger ASAP, so my goal is to have the 1st chapter off to Jenna no later than February 1. That way I can get it back from her, revise it, send it to her for a second read and then revise yet again before I send it out for its first contest. Oh! Then I also have that critique from Jordan Dane that I won back in November at my Austin RWA meeting. Hopefully she'll have the time in February to give me some awesome feedback.

The day job is stressing me out, but I'm really not letting it overtake my life. Teaching is only one part of who I am. I REALLY have to remember that. I'm doing the best I can and that's all anyone can ask. I have to go to work over the weekend (rather than stay until 6 or 7 tomorrow night), but I'm also scheduling some quality time with my hero and heroine. They deserve to be heard and I'm pretty sure someone will be interested in their story.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Tragic Loss

I was devastated when I heard that Heath Ledger died today. It still feels unreal. He had so much talent and so much going for him. I first saw him when he did a TV show called Roar one summer season. It was about Ireland during the time of the Romans. I think I read somewhere that he was only 19 when they were filming it. I've loved watching him since. I will miss him and mourn for all he still could have been.

Heath Ledger

Monday, January 21, 2008


14 pages since Thursday! To some of you it may not seem like much, but I've also been visiting with the niece and nephew and reading Suz Brockmann. So I'm EXTREMELY happy with my progress! Plus, I sketched out the next chapter (yeah, I gave myself permission NOT to write chronologically and now I'm doing it!) and the characters are steering me in a direction I hadn't thought about for this early in the story, but I'm excited to see where it goes.

My Austin RWA chapter has had some awesome news lately. Heather Foeh and Michelle McGinnis got picked to do a workshop at Nationals about setting up a web presence. They previewed the presentation for us and it was awesome. Also, Emily McKay and Robyn DeHart are presenting a workshop called Bigger than Botox (about revisions) and one with Pam Morsi called Writing in the Pressure Cooker. Then, Sherry Thomas (whose first book comes out in March) got a starred review from Publisher's Weekly. Also, Tracy Wolff received a 2-book contract from NAL and Robyn got a 3 book contract from Grand Central. Last, but certainly not least, Kit Frazier was in Southern Living Magazine as one of the Writing Stars of Texas! Woohoo, ladies! Congrats all around! I'm so thrilled to be a part of this splendid organization!

Update 8:50: 20 total pages for the weekend at this point! I'm following my hero and it's turning out to be quite a tense, action-packed ride so far!
Update 11:35: I had to take a break to watch Medium, but then I got back to work. Three more pages, some new ideas and a killer place to start tomorrow. What could be better?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Muse Returns!

Just a quick update for you. Since I decided to follow my heart and mind, I've been able to throw several pages into the manuscript. Since Thursday I've added 7! And the cooler thing is I'm getting scenes, dialogue and actions that directly relate back to the characters' internal conflicts. Wow! They make the story so much richer! Who knew writing could be this much fun again?! You'll get more details throughout the weekend. Gotta go strike while the iron is hot, as they say!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A New Hypothesis

I've learned a valuable lesson about myself as a writer so far in January 2008. I can't start a story on page one and write to the end. I'm pretty sure it's not possible for me. Yes, I have to plot and know what's happening at the turning points. Yes, I need to know my character arcs BEFORE I reach the end. But where is it written that I MUST start on page one and write the pages consecutively? I tried this one time "back in the day" and I got bored by page 25. I've been writing from page one with Danger and I'm stalled on page 23.

Yet, I've been jotting down notes at all hours of the days and nights on various other parts of the book.

Only now do I realize this idea of writing consecutively from page one is what's been stopping me over the last few days from working ferociously on this manuscript even though I love it. I've always claimed to be a "pantser", one who writes a story by the seat of her pants instead of using an outline, plot or any kind of notes. I've always loved writing scenes as they come to my head, trying to connect them to the story and weaving them all into an un-put-downable book. I'm going back to that method. That's what works for me. That's where the magic of the story happens. It's where my muse and my brain feel free. As we are often told in this business, we need to find what method works for us.

But it's important to remember this is a BUSINESS. So, I'm also going to combine my "write whatever scene I want" method with an approach that will be good for business. This manuscript is the first one I did serious plotting for BEFORE the writing began. I uncovered the internal conflicts of each character, decided what changes they need to go through and have examined what their worst fear is. I've also figured out how I can use those elements to make a killer Big Black Moment and an unforgettable ending. So starting tomorrow and throughout my 3 day weekend, I'll take my outline and write whatever my characters want to tell me. I'll keep the conflicts (internal and external) in mind as I create the scenes that will make an impact with my readers. Maybe then the magic and the muse will break free again. Now is the time to test my new theory. I'll keep you updated throughout the testing phase.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reunited...Maybe Not

Today I managed to get about 3 pages written. Nothing on those 3 pages had anything to do with the hero and heroine knowing each other before. So I'm thinking maybe they didn't know each other. The hero and heroine haven't sent me any other "We knew each other when..." vibes, so I'm going with my original idea instead.

As for conditioning myself to write during shorter chunks of time, I'm getting there. Today I took my mini-notepad and wrote during my lunch/recess time at school. It didn't feel like much, but I got 1 1/2 typed pages out of it! Kelly said it takes 3 weeks for something to become a habit. I think I'm still on week 2. I really do want to learn this behavior. Of course, I'm still thinking of spending a couple of HUGE chunks of time on the book this weekend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rollin' Along

Hi, hi! All is well here. Busy, busy with the day job, but I'm finding a way to deal with it. I finished critiquing the first two parts of my CP's historical. She is AWESOME! Jenna Stuart. She'll be on the shelves one day. No doubt about it! Remember the name. I've been exercising and I'm becoming quite the little health nut! But I feel so good! As for the book, weeeeeeeellllll, let's just say that's not going as fast as I'd like. I'm still making slow progress, but I want it all and I want it now!



I do have one question for you. I'm not a big fan of books where the hero and heroine knew each other before the start of the book. (Although, one of my all-time favorite books, Perfectly Saucy by Emily McKay is one of those. Plus, I'm excited to read Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas. So I do like some books where the hero and heroine already know each other.) Anyway, as I was driving today from one campus to the other, my hero insisted that he and the heroine knew each other before, when she was in high school. Then my heroine piped in and let me know she really had a thing for him back then. I personally didn't ever want to write a story like that, but it appears the story is writing itself! I have no choice but to follow. So my question is how do you feel about books with heroes and heroines who were first loves or at least used to know each other? How popular is this "hook" and am I the only one not jumping on the bandwagon? (Well, I guess I am jumping on board now that my hero and heroine have demanded I do so!) Come on, people. Share with me!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Quickie For You

I'm taking more control over things and not freaking out so much. I lost 5lbs last week. Yay me! I'm almost done with what my CP has given me and it reads like a published book so I'm really reading mostly instead of critiquing. My characters and I have met again tonight and we're excited about where we're going tomorrow. I'm trying really hard to condition myself to write or even jot notes whenever I have a spare moment. I think by the end of this week I should be conditioned (or on my way to being conditioned) to writing in short bursts of time as well as the big chunks. Yay! Oh, and since we have Martin Luther King Jr. Day off next Monday, I've officially decided to spend the ENTIRE day on Dance Away, Danger! For now, though, I need to get some beauty sleep. Catch you tomorrow! Have a great Monday!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bourne Again

I'm back! It's amazing what watching one of your favorite characters will do for you. I'm in the middle of cleaning house, taking down the Christmas ornaments and about to put another Bourne DVD in to keep me company. I'm psyched about my story still and I'm going to try to write tonight. NO! I WILL write tonight. I figure I'm getting enough exercise packing and moving boxes today so I'm skipping the gym. Will start again with that next week for sure. I got through the first section of my CP's work so I'm making progress on that. I'm ever so grateful to Suzanne McMinn for her blog post from yesterday. It helped put me in the right direction of taking control of my life again and not settling for being overloaded. If you have time, you should check her out! I've got to get back to work, but you have a great Saturday and I'll catch you later!

Friday, January 11, 2008


I'm not much in the mood to be pleasant, so I'll keep this short. Work is so hectic already I have to go in this weekend. I'm still not done unpacking from Christmas vacation. I'm already behind on my "Book in 5 weeks" plan. The car came back to me today, but there's still something wrong with it. It's just not pressing. However, the bill was high enough for me to seriously consider NOT going to San Francisco for RWA Nationals. Tonight I'm going to take the Christmas tree down, continue critiquing for my amazing CP and maybe, hopefully, get some quality time with my manuscript. If all else fails, I'll pop in a Bourne DVD for some inspiration!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


The day job is in full swing again and it is mind-sucking. The kids are all right, there are just a kazillion other things to take care of and no time to do it! Still fighting for writing time, thinking of a plan for that. (Will share later.) Starting back on the diet and exercise. Got my Ausin RWA meeting tonight and some critiquing to do. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Gettin' To Work

OMG! I'm so excited about this new manuscript! It is going to be AWESOME! I just have to find the time to work on it. But I'm taking an online class through Celtic Hearts and the instructor (Lori Wilde) is excellent at motivating us. Today I'm putting this out here for everyone to see, to hold me accountable. With the new year comes a new strategy for my writing. I've plotted a lot of my story already, gotten to know the hero and heroine quite a bit and I'm pretty sure I know who the villain is. So in 5 weeks, on Tuesday, February 12th, I will have the rough draft of this novel done. It's a tall order, but one I'm excited to complete. I'm hoping to learn a lot more about my writing process and my strengths during this time. In addition to this rough draft, I also intend to critique for my friend Jenna, take care of myself and get some exercise, take time to be a reader too and also deal with the craziness of the day job. I'm working on a schedule. Like I said, it's all a big commitment, but I think the Lexi Connor of 2008 is ready for it!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I Made Lemonade

A few years ago my family and friends decided no one wanted to travel with me. Every single flight I took had something go wrong. Mechanical breakdowns, missed/ cancelled connections, busted or missing luggage, weather delays. But that only lasted for 2 years. Then things got better...or so I thought.

You may or may not recall my 23 hour adventure getting to Dublin last summer (June 10th, to be exact). Then I had some issues when I flew back from RI at the end of the summer. I don't think I had any problems on the way to my cousin's wedding in October (or maybe I blocked out the memory!). But the Lexi Connor Travel Curse is back with a vengeance.

I got to the airport yesterday to come back to Austin and immediately they told me my flight had been cancelled. They rebooked me on a different one that would get me into Austin earlier. Cool, I thought. When I got to that gate, they were already boarding. We stopped in Baltimore to drop off some and pick up other passengers. While waiting for people to find their seats and get settled, I heard, "Would passengers Connor and Richards please come to the front of the cabin." I walked up front and the airline guy said, "I have to pull you off this flight. We're over the weight limit."

I said, "I know I gained some weight over the holidays but not enough to crash a plane."

He smiled, but he still took me off the plane. I figured it had to be because we were the last passengers added to that flight. They still had to ask for 2 other volunteers. My luggage went on to Austin. Passenger Richards was shoved off to another flight. The volunteers got their travel vouchers and connections. I got, "I can't get you into Austin until tomorrow." This is at about 5:30 last night. Instead, I received a voucher for a room at a nearby hotel and boarding passes for a 7 am flight to Houston and a 10 am flight to Austin.

Keep in mind, I wasn't really bothered about the inconvenience. I mean, really. What would be the point of getting worked up about it?

So, I got to the hotel, wandered around a bit and decided to have some dinner. While eating at the bar, I found out they had live music on Fridays and a band with quite a local following. So I stayed. I started talking to people, laughing, drinking and dancing until the bar closed! It was AWESOME!!!

I went to bed about 1, 1:30, got the alarm to go off at 4:30, got a wake-up call at 5 and the shuttle came for me at 5:30. At the airport, I went straight to security since I didn't have bags to check (they went to Austin yesterday, remember?) and I already had my boarding passes, I ate breakfast and slept on the plane. When I walked in the house at 11:45 this morning, it was 25 hours since I walked out of my mom's condo.

So now I'm home, a little richer (emotionally, not financially) for the experience and ready to get back to work. Well, okay. Maybe tomorrow. Tonight I might relax, read and watch TV. (I got all 3 Bourne movies for Christmas!) What've you got planned for the rest of this weekend?