Thursday, November 8, 2012

Family Pedigrees for Book Plots

I described in my Trails and Rails blog entry titled "Start At the Beginning" how I used pedigrees charts to help me plot the families in each of the three novels. Even though I have my timeline, I still needed the visual to get me past the writer's block that developed. I fell in love with the characters and plot of book 2, Wyoming Promise, FIRST and had trouble developing all the characters and plot for the first novel, Nebraska Sunrise. (See the blog for my new historical western romance series by clicking on the tab Trails and Rails located at the top of this blog.)

I decided against using my Legacy database program I use for my own family history research and which I have used for my multi-generational series. I started with my word program, using the vertical bars and underscore keys to make connections. A lot of work, but it looked like this:
Family pedigree developed in Word

It was a hassle, especially keeping everything lined up and tabbing to get the form formatted. Actually it was not too bad until a child from each family decided to get married. Then again, isn't that what romance is all about?

Fine, but for putting together a pedigree chart by hand, I decided I needed to do the hourglass/butterfly design, and the size and nature of the Word characters did not cooperate too well with that venture.                                                            
Same family pedigree on a spreadsheet

So, copied and pasted what I had into a spreadsheet program, moved the information in the cells around and came up with this.

Instead of vertical bar marks, I used the cell outline feature that is part of my Windows 7 Excel program.

I like it better because it more clearly shows the marriage between the two families.
Next, I copied and pasted this family pedigree from the spreadsheet program into a Word document....
And I ended up with this.

IMHO, much better!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Aurora Redress Rewrite Finished

Of course, anyone who understands anything about writing a novel understands that "finished writing," or in this case, "finished rewriting" only means that I finished the rough draft. The bazillions of content edits and copy edits are still to come. But, once I do the first pass-through with the spell and grammar checker, it is ready for my beta readers.

I thought this was going to be a small novel word-count wise. Last time I worked on Aurora Redress, the novel stood at 73,800. Today, I fleshed out a few sections more, more notably I introduced one of my key theories behind how people get from one time and place to another. I wrote 3,400 words all in one day today for a total novel length of 77,200. Not bad.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Broke Through Chapter Six

Whoo-Hoo! Between the triple-digit heat hovering between 104 and 108 degrees and Chapter Six of Aurora Redress acting as a writer's block, I have not accomplished much on my novel. But today, I woke up cool and relaxed, the outside temperature never reached over 99 degrees, the inside stayed cool and comfortable and I wrote over 2500 words, including completing Chapter Six and fine-tuning some other chapters.

I am now into the portion of the book that I wrote earlier as part of Aurora Rescue, but pulled out due length. However, because I pulled bits and pieces of some of these chapters out of my original manuscript to round out and complete the first novel, I need to make sure that what is left in Aurora Redress flows and has no gaping holes.

I will soon get this next portion out to my test readers for their input and editing. (Hint! Hint! I am waiting for your feedback on the first section, readers.) However, except for a few short breaks, I have been writing for ten hours. I am calling it a day. A good one, but over as far as writing goes!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rats! Gotta Rewrite 'Cause They Won't Buy It

I just can't do it. I have a really good story with Family Secrets, but there is one element that I am now convinced just will not work for most readers. I came to this insightful conclusion after reading yet another book written by a combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The memoir is titled The Blue Cascade by Marine veteran, Mike Scotti. The language and the emotions shared by the author are raw, but real. Many of his statements express his frustration over how the press has romanticized the war and the returning warriors. We American citizens not only do not comprehend what they have been through or how it has impacted their lives, we do not really want to. For the majority of us, while our military are in combat risking life and limb and regularly witnessing scenes of horror, for us at home, life goes on as if there is no war. We do not care how difficult it is for our returning service personnel to return and adjust to civilian life, especially for those in the national guard and reserves and their families. Because of their unique position of dual civilian/military employment, they have fewer options when they return from combat, especially if they are unable to return to their civilian jobs.

Although the author is not shy about expressing the desires of many of his fellow Marines to find women and get laid, he states that in the Corps, adultery is strongly frowned upon. I don't know if the same thing is true for the Army, but I have read where studies show that the divorce rate in military families is lower than that of the general population.

I finally acknowledged the feeling that I have tried to rationalize away for several months. Casting Jennie's husband as  a combat veteran who is unfaithful and demanding a divorce just does not work. Many readers, as well as agents and publishers, will not response favorably to that negative portrayal of an active-duty soldier, even if there are those instances where scenes like the ones I described in this novel do happen. As much as I would like to offer moral support to those military wives who find themselves dealing with difficult marital problems with their combat veteran husbands, the Gerald character as written would be too unpopular. The readers, the agents and the publishers -- they just ain't gonna buy it.

So, Rats! Here I have been sending out queries, and here I am struggling to do the final-final fine-tuning copy editing of the last half of the manuscript, and here I now need to do a rewrite of Gerald's character. I can put him in another traveling occupation where I know a lot of adultery takes place and where his occupation by itself will not make him a sympathetic character when he is behaving like a jerk.

Unfortunately, I need the modern combat warrior connection to make the Mike in Vietnam scenes work the way I want them too. Maybe Jennie needs to have an older brother deployed to Afghanistan. Maybe a twin? I will need to think on that, but I need to do so quickly.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

This Side of the Moon

I finished typing into the computer my short story collection that I actually wrote twenty-five years ago and titled "Mom and Walt Stories." It was on my computer at that time--something before Windows 95--but I did not keep the file updated as I bought newer technology and programs. So, using my dot-matrix (How old is that?) print-out, I input it again.

 My stepfather, Walt, once worked for NASA during the heyday of space exploration, so I changed the title to This Side of the Moon. Since 2013 would be the 50th anniversary of their marriage if they both were still living, I decided publishing this piece now would be a fitting tribute to them. I have dedicated it to my mother and stepfather as well as my brother, Bob, since they are all now on the other side of the moon.

At 5,000 plus words, this is a humorous short-short, not even a novella, but something I hope people will find entertaining and reminiscent of society in late sixties, early seventies. Although I have used a certain amount of literary license, the incidences are based on actual events that I either witnessed or that were told to me by my mother. In other words, who could make this stuff up?

To give a hint of the contents, the chapter titles are as follows:
1.  List-less
2.  Snakebite Business
3.  The Late Great Vitamin E
4.  Butt You Never Say...
5.  Gut-less
6.  Anniversaries

I plan to publish it soon. First, I need to decide if I want to try to add artwork--probably black on white line drawings if I do. Before I do that, I need to work out how that would look in ebook format on Kindles, Nooks, smartphones, etc.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Edits for Ebooks

There is that old saying that you can pay a little now, or you can pay a lot later.

I just put my novel, Aurora Rescue, back on Amazon as an ebook. I signed up for their lending service, so I will wait 90 days before I submit it to other ebook sources.

I have noticed that when I read a lot of ebooks, the formatting is less than wonderful. I suspect part of the reason is because of quirks in the auto-format process in MS Word. Note in the sample above (I put this on edit view that allows me to see all the symbols), that there are several paragraphs. Some of them have a little arrow before the sentence starts (see green arrows), which is accomplished by manually striking the Tab key, and some have no arrows (see red arrows) which is a result of the automatic formatting. I suspect that when ebook paragraphs start flush left instead of being indented, it is because the digital file that was submitted included many or all "auto-formatted" paragraphs. Therefore, the spaces before the start of the new paragraphs are not picked up when the manuscript file is converted to an ebook file.

I know for Aurora Rescue, I went through the entire manuscript before I submitted to be sure each paragraph had the little black arrow in front. I also tried to remove any spaces after the closing punctuation of a sentence. (See the orange arrow for an example of a space after the quote marks.)

The above sample is from my newer novel, Family Secrets. Even though it is not being prepared for an ebook yet, I am making an effort as I go to be sure all the formatting is uniform. I am hoping that by "paying a little now," I will have a clean, well-formatted manuscript when I am finished. It will save me some time so I do not have to "pay a lot later" when I get down to my final editing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Aurora Rescue Now Published

Aurora Rescue has now been published in traditional book format. It is already available on Amazon. It will soon be available at bookstores and on other online retailers.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Contractions.......Or Not

While editing Aurora Rescue, the first novel I completed, I noticed something very interesting. I did not miss the contractions.

To give a little bit of history, when I first started this novel, I received input from both my granddaughter and her mother. The one plea from my daughter-in-law was to please use good grammar. So, even though I have a lot of dialect for some of my period characters, for my main characters, I did my best to avoid contractions.

Contractions are how many of us talk, although regionally, we do not use the same contractions. Contractions are a good way of reducing the number of words for a militant publisher that insists that a manuscript be limited to a certain length based on word count. But, I realized as I edited this book for the umpteenth time that, whether reading it quietly or speaking it out loud, I did not miss the contractions. My brain must have registered the contractions that I normally would have spoken. I was very comfortable with the "will not" instead of the "won't" and "cannot" instead of the "can't."

Now that I re-read Family Secrets, I see that I used a lot of contractions in the dialogue. After all, I have been living in California's central valley most of my adult life and my characters are from the same region. I know how we talk. However, based on the lessons learned from editing Aurora Rescue, I am going back and reviewing Family Secrets to see if I can get rid of some of the contractions.

I will deal with the word count police later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Civil War Study

I have been reading books from the Civil War era that I believe will be very helpful to me as I write Armitage, even though the bulk of the historical portion of this novel will be set in the Reconstruction period.

Killing Lincoln written by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard dealt mostly with the events surrounding the death of President Lincoln, but the first section also described in detail the final battles of the war that lead up to General Lee surrendering to General Grant. It also brought out the point that Lincoln demanded lenient terms for the surrender. His goal was to heal the woulds of war and reunite the nation.

They Met at Shiloh was a novel written by Phillip Bryant who has been a Civil War re-enactor for about 20 years. It centers on four characters, two from the North and two from the South, all of whom fought in different units during the battle at Shiloh, and all of whom came in contact with each other in one way or another before this battle was over. This book is very detailed, as I am sure all the Civil War battles that are re-enacted are, and I found the detail about the uniforms, the terminology, the logistics and the tactics very interesting.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Dry Writing Day

No, I am not referring to the weather when I say today was a dry writing day. I am referring to the writing reality that not all days as an author may be spent indulging in the wonderfully creative process of putting words on paper to create a great story. And, since I am one writer who loves to research, a "dry" writing day does not refer to that either.

Today was dictionary and style manual day.

These four books are sitting beside me today. I usually use the online dictionary when I am in the process of writing. However, when the computer is off, and I need a quick look-up of a word, this is my standard go-to book. I have owned this Webster's Standard American Style Manual for years. (You can tell by the price--I doubt I can find a style manual for that price nowadays.) A lot of people, including many family history writers, like the Chicago style manual, which I found and used online when I was taking law classes. But, this book, for a quick look-up, works well.

The Basic Usage, Vocabulary, and Composition book, copyrighted in 1975, I have had since my early days enrolled in the "Writer's Digest Book Club" (not sure if that is the proper usage -- have not looked it up yet) has some good information. However, today, after I stalled as long as I could, I got busy reading through The Elements of Grammar. It is not exciting reading, but, I must admit, it was more interesting than I thought it would be. You can see in my picture I have my little homemade tabs and my highlighter to draw attention to elements of grammar to which I probably will want to refer in the future.

I know I won't do it, but it would not hurt me to read through this book about every 2-3 months, just to refresh myself on all that good grammar usage that sometimes stumps me when I am in the process of putting words on paper. After all, certain usages just are not comfortable to me, and I have to look them up every time. One, for example, is that it is not intuitive to me to ALWAYS put a period inside of quote marks, even for "short phrases." Yet, there it is on page 103. Why is it that I can only put the end-of-sentence punctuation outside the quote marks when "it is a question"? Or, for some reason, it's okay if it is "an exclamation point"!

Don't ask me. I just pack plenty of water and chocolate and buckle down to double-check all that dry style and usage business when I am in the final stages of editing one of my books.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Missed the Mark?

          I hate it when I have completed a great story, which is my humble opinion about my novel, Family Secrets, only to feel like I have missed the mark.
          I am referring particularly to my antagonist, Gerald, my heroine Jennie's unfaithful husband who is deployed to Afghanistan. The focus of this novel is on Jennie ferreting out the secrets in the lives of her mother and maternal grandparents and using the lessons of their experiences to help her work through her own challenges. One of her challenges is her husband.
          However, in the process of developing Grandpa Mike's character, I not only drew upon my own husband's Vietnam War experiences, I did some research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as it applies to Vietnam War veterans. Some of my more current sources also covered the challenges of combat stress, PTSD and concussion, or mild Traumatic Brain Injury, as it applies to those returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
          That brings me back to Gerald in Family Secrets. He is an unsympathetic character by reason of his poor choices made prior to his most recent deployment to the war zone. However, the more I learn about the challenges facing our most recent returning combat veterans, the more I wish I had written a book with a focus on them. Greater understanding needs to be shared, not only with the nature of combat stress, but also the challenges of those family members left behind. What can veterans and their family expect, and how do those families adjust to and work together with the returning combat veteran to help everyone in the family return to the normalcy of civilian life?
          I have decided to bring this subject a little more in focus in future books in the GOLDEN OAKS series.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Off to First Publisher

Family Secrets was submitted to the first publisher on my list this past Wednesday. We will see what happens. I am not working on any additional submissions until next week because it is time for me to catch up on everyday life.

During the editing process -- oh, how I dread the editing process -- I worked 12-14 hour days. This was after I already had someone edit the manuscript. Unfortunately, I rewrote some sections and reworded a lot of sentences, so there were still many opportunities for editing.

Part of my issue is, I like sentences with dashes, such as the one above. That is pretty much a no-no. Yet, I like the cadence with the dashes better than using the separation with commas. Especially when I am writing in a first-person voice, I want to emphasize the choppy way some people talk. Dashes do it for me better than using the plain ol' comma we use to separate phrases in a complex sentence.

My editing teeth-grinders:

1. I was surprised how many times I left out the comma or question mark to finish a dialog sentence enclosed in quote marks. It was probably caused by earlier edits to that sentence. I just hope I caught them all.

2. I do my best to choose last names for my characters that do not end with the letter "s" because I always get confused with how to handle the plural and the possessive. Even as I read how to do it in the style manual, I get confused. Is it Jones's? Jones'? Then, when there two Joneses......

3. The proper usage of affect and effect always gets me, even when I have the dictionary open to the definitions as I write. I will figure it out, then when I read over the sentence later, I am still not sure I got it right.

4. The lie/lay and laid/layed/lain usage is always a quandary for me. I avoid those words like the plague when I can.

Other than that, I am pretty good at grammar. When I am editing, I still need to print out my manuscript in order to catch a lot of errors. But, for good, bad or whatever, the manuscript is on its way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Installed Legacy

Remember I mentioned a few days ago that Old Toshiba had a "spa treatment" where she was reformatted and restored? I reinstalled most of my programs, except I put my Legacy database on New Toshiba since that is the computer I have decided to use for researching my family history.

As I made a correction to a family member in Family Secrets as part of the editing process, I realized I need to install Legacy on Old Toshiba also. What better place to keep track of a cast of characters for a family saga-type novel series than on a database designed for organizing families? Not only that, Legacy Deluxe has research suggestion capabilities based on the dates and localities of the family members entered. What better tool to use to figure out what documents are available in different scenarios as I develop the story lines for my characters?

Now that Legacy is installed, the Graves and Carpenter family database has been updated, I can return to my editing Family Secrets.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Robyn's New Author Photo

Did I mention I was in Yosemite National Park last month?

In December and January, my husband must have taken 40-50 shots of me. I was looking for something I could submit as an author photograph. We tried in the house and outside (keep in mind, in the winter there is very little in bloom or in leaf, for that matter). Even the trusty dwarf orange tree as a backdrop yielded nothing interesting.

On the holiday weekend, my husband and I decided to go to Yosemite for a day trip. If I had planned on trying for some pictures up there, I probably would have worn something different. On a whim, as we neared the entrance to the park, we pulled into a scenic view parking area and I started posing for the camera.

We ended up taking pictures in various locations through the park, including the spot by the Merced River which I featured in my last blog post. The three shots I ended up liking the best were all taken with this backdrop. To get it, I stood on the concrete bench in front of the little chapel in Yosemite Valley while my intrepid photographer laid flat on the ice-encrusted grass. (There has been very little snow in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains this year, but, after all, this was January)

After sleeping on it for several weeks, this is the pose I selected. It has a bit of an artsy look to it, not as much shadow on my face as my other pose I liked well, and I do not look quite as old as the ice age glacier-cut cliffs behind me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Computer Years Like Dog Years?

Merced River in January 2012 exiting Yosemite Park

Old Toshiba is all rejuvenated after a day at the "spa", but the "spa attendant" is exhausted. It is a lot of work doing all the backing-up of files, the reformat and restore and adding back programs.

Then there are the updates. Old Toshiba was bought in 2005, which means that with my conservative (cheap), non-cutting edge approach to computer purchases, Old Toshiba was on her way to being a discontinued model when I bought her. Even though she was brand-new, she is still seven years old today. Do you have any idea how many updates there are on everything for a seven year-old computer? I do.

The question is, are computer years like dog years--one year equals seven years in a human? Or, is the ratio one year in computer life is the same as ten human years? I know a computer is obsolete the moment it hits the marketplace, but I mean, how many years of functional use can we expect from a computer?

Old Toshiba was reinstalled with Internet Explorer 6. We are now on EI9. I could not install my anti-virus suite until I updated to a later version. First, I had to install Firefox so I could install the anti-virus so I could update EI, which, because this is an XP, meant EI8.

For my wallpaper, I decided to use a snapshot I took up in Yosemite National Park last month.

At least all my old software programs that do not work well on New Toshiba still work great on Old Toshiba.

Yesterday was not a total loss as a writing work day. Between all the installs, updates and reboots, I worked on New Toshiba researching marketing strategies for writers and potential publishers and agents.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Please Hold for Old Toshiba's Spa Day

Old Toshiba, my writing computer is getting too s - l - o - w. This is also the computer on which I do a lot of my online research. When I try to boot up the machine, bring up my emails, delete emails, check my financial sites, move from one website to another and back again, it is taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R. As in, my programs are starting to lock up and not respond more and more. Yes, I have firewalls and keep my anti-virus updated, but either nasty electronic critters have still managed to get in, or my poor ROM memory has developed too many connections to sort through.

So, no, this is not the same deal as my "Ghost Riders in the Sky" computer crash two years ago. I was researching ghost towns in Colorado back then, and in the process of trying to go back a few pages, then when that did not work, go to the home page, the machine locked up on me while "Ghost Riders in the Sky" blared out of my speakers full volume. Now, I like "Ghost Riders in the Sky", but not minute after minute at that decibel range. After searching vainly for the volume control, which was also locked up, I did the only sensible thing. I pulled the plug.

That was the wrong move. After letting Old Toshiba settle down for several seconds, I tried to reboot. Old Toshiba went into the continual boot-up loop and could go no further.

Thankfully, in that instance, about a month prior, I had suspected my poor Old Toshiba was getting ready to die on me. I bought New Toshiba. (Very original names, yes? My cars I name based on make and model, my cats I tend to name based on physical characteristics, so what do you expect when it comes to computers?) I was not sure of the cause of the impending death of Old Toshiba back then. Was it due to the motherboard burning out? (been there, done that on another computer) Was it due to too many food crumbs under the keys as I researched and wrote Aurora Rescue 12-14 hours some days, eating as I worked? Anyway, I saw it coming, and decided it was my work on Old Toshiba that needed the rescue. So, about a month before "the crash", I backed up everything. During the next month, anything of current value was backed up into my Dropbox file.

Old Toshiba was not dead. She just needed a day at the spa -- aka -- the old reformat with recovery disks.

So, here we are today. Even though I am in the middle of preparing the manuscript of Family Secrets to be sent off, I decided Old Toshiba needs another day at the spa. The last two days I have spent consolidating and deleting unnecessary files, saving emails I still want, saving my Favorites and Bookmarks on a word document (all organized and consolidated), backing up everything in more than one place and  sending all my current work to my Dropbox file. I am ready for reformat and recovery.

Why don't I just use New Toshiba? I use the new one for a lot of things, including managing business activities. But, Old Toshiba has a better touch on both the keyboard and the touch-pad (mouse), which is better for lots of writing and online research.

Please hold while Old Toshiba renews herself so she is ready for my next novel, Armitage.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

So I Can't Count....

I know when I finished writing Family Secrets that I said the word count was at a little over 86,000 words.

I cut and trimmed, and checked again, only to discover once I put it all together that I was at over 88,000 words. I forgot to add in the word count for this prologue I wrote that I am really pleased with.

I know I said no epilogue. Even my proof-reader agreed. Where I wrote "The End" on the manuscript, she changed it to "To Be Continued...."

But, I did get this great brainstorm for a prologue. It introduced Mike earlier in the book instead of his voice suddenly showing up in Chapter 11. I tweaked my last chapter -- my non-epilogue --  so that it and the prologue are like two book ends holding the middle chapters together.

I missed the contest deadline I was shooting for. It was still open last night, but by tonight, the contest had reached its maximum number of allowed entries. Oh, well. Shooting for the contest gave me the goal and motivation to write those last almost 40,000 words within the last four weeks, get my manuscript proof-read and corrections made.

I still would like to cut my novel to around 85,000 words. Time to prep this baby for finding a publisher.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Family Secrets is fini -- finished -- done -- The End.

A little over 86,000 words, so along with all the usual editing and proof-reading, I need to trim some fat. Still, moving right along.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Family Secrets Countdown

Jan 23rd - wrote 6706 words
Jan 24th - wrote 3395 words
Jan 25th - wrote 1651 words
Jan 26th - wrote 2868 words
Total for four days - 14,620 words
Total word count for Family Secrets so far - 78,156
Chapters remaining to be written:  1
Moving right along. After that last chapter is written, then it is on to the editing, proof-reading and all that other good stuff that is involved in trying to get a novel sold.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Engineer Battalion (Const) in Vietnam War

This weekend I did a lot of Vietnam War research, particularly regarding the engineer battalions that were sent over there and the projects they worked on. I have my husband's stories for my novel, Family Secrets, but I wanted to flesh them out a little by getting the "bigger picture".

Served in U.S. Army Co. D 84th Engineer Battalion (Construction) 1967-68
Actually, what prompted me is I ran across the coffee can in which my husband had stored his original DD-214, patches and ribbons from his army service. My husband is not a coffee-drinker. But, coffee cans are among his all-time favorite containers for storing items, especially in his shop, which is where I found this little jewel.

Unfortunately, you can see from the back of his DD-214 (which I used as the backdrop) and some of the ribbons, not all his war memorabilia stored well in the coffee can.

It was interesting to learn more about engineers, the role they play in the military in general, and about his unit in particular during the Vietnam War. I will eventually mount these items in a shadow box for display in my living room along with the framed memorabilia I have from my father's WWII experience. But for now -- well -- except for the DD-214 that is in a plastic sleeve, they are still in that coffee can (in the house, not the shop).

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Today was not a writing day -- it was a Daughters of Utah Pioneers day -- but I managed to get in some writing.

I wrote the final chapter of the book. It's a shorty. No, I am not finished with the book, yet. I still have four heavy-duty chapters to go. I wrote the conclusion now because I want see where each of my three story lines need to end up.

My Webster's Desk Dictionary defines epilogue as it applies to a written work (as opposed to a speech) as follows: 1. a concluding part added to a literary work.

I often read novels with epilogues. An epilogue may tell the consequences of the main story either in the time period immediately following the end, or it may tell what happens decades later. It's kind of like, the story is over now, folks, but just so we don't leave you hanging, we'll tell you how things turned out for the characters in the long run.

The last chapter I just wrote is not an epilogue. There are no concluding parts to add so the reader knows what happened to the characters after the story is over because this novel is only a segment of a larger story. Therefore, for my final chapter, I only needed to tie up a few loose ends.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Three Thousand Words

I wrote about three thousand words today, plus I edited a bunch more. Let me assure you, that is a lot of words for one day.

The big Vietnam chapter is complete. I was happy to get that one put together. Of course, I still need to sleep on it and edit it.

All in all, it has been a good day. I still feel like I am writing mode, so I probably am not finished yet.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Title Shuffle

Not only am I willing to shuffle the chapters around if I decide it will help the story flow better, I am not above shuffling around titles.

GOFTS is going to be plain ol' GOFT. These ladies are not really a society, just a group of friends. At best, they are a club. So, I am taking the "S" off the title of this group and adding it to.....

Family Secrets. I have been fighting the urge to change the name of this novel from a singular "secret" to the plural for quite some time. I finally decided to listen to my subconscious on this one. There is the one big secret, but it is surrounded by other little secrets which, as they are revealed, help Jennie deal with her personal issue that she is keeping secret as much as possible.

The third title shuffle is the name of the series. This was the Jennie Graves series. Instead, they are going to be the Golden Oaks series. Yes, I intend to keep Jennie and her family among the predominant cast of characters in future books. However, I think by shifting the focus of the series to the community, I can broaden the options for future books.

After all, the GOFT ladies (or "goofy ladies", as their family members like to tease them) are an interesting bunch. Each of them is unique. Focusing on one or the other of the members of this group occasionally could keep future plots interesting.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chapter Shuffle

Today is writing day #4 since the conclusion of my FamilySearch mission.

Reworked another Christy Chapter in Family Secret -- just have the final Christy chapter to do.

Reworked one of the Carp in Vietnam vignettes. In a flash of creative inspiration I made it its own chapter and placed it earlier in the book.

I reshuffled the order of my chapters. It is good to have a general outline from the beginning, but I experience no guilt about being flexible when, as the story progresses, I decide changes need to be made.

Almost time to send a section of chapters to my beta readers.

Five more full chapters and two partials and I am finished writing Family Secret.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Changing Christy's Voice

Yesterday was my last day on the FamilySearch mission. Today was my first day on my writing schedule. Time to finish my novel, Family Secret.

I put in six hours total -- so far -- not including the half-hour break to unpack my new Brother PQ 1500S sewing-quilting machine (I love PayPal and their six months, no interest program. I love that I was able to find a quilting machine that did not cost more than my car.). That was enough to totally distract me from my writing for the day, but I did not allow it to happen. (Major victory!)

I set aside the chapter on Carp's Vietnam experience to work on Christy's story.Christy's story I wrote from beginning to end at the start of Family Secret. Since then, I have chopped her story up into five chapters.

The other issue is, I had not found my voice in this novel at the time I started writing Family Secret. The first several chapters I wrote in both first-person and third-person in order to see how I wanted the story to flow. Since then, I have decided that Jennie's voice -- the present-day voice -- will be in third-person. My historical voices are in first-person. Today, I converted a chapter of Christy's story from third-person to first-person, plus did some heavy rewriting. I have not looked at this part of the novel for at least nine month, so it needed it.

Lesson for today:  Try to figure out what voice to use in my novels BEFORE I get too far into the writing thereof. It is a mess to try to catch all the third-person language and change it at this point in time. And, as I read over some former chapters where I already made the conversion and did the proof-reading, I can see that it will take even more heavy-duty proof-reading to catch everything before I am finished.