Tag Archives: Writing Exercises

It’s my website’s second anniversary! Yay!

It’s my website’s second anniversary!


Wow.  Two years already.  Where has the time gone?  Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask for anything crazy like you guys writing a story with me, because a bunch of you are still doing that! (If anyone wants to join up, we’ve always happy to see new writers. Click here to join.)

Anyway… For this anniversary I’m setting a challenge for MYSELF instead.  I feel really behind now, because I took nearly two months to write a query and synopsis for Fire in the Woods.

Did you hear that??? TWO MONTHS.  I still want to smack myself in the head.

**That’s crazy**

It’s two months of trying to control my creative juices, and keeping down the new story idea that crept into my head. (I admit I did take two days to outline the idea so it would stop screaming at me to be written.)

Today, I am sitting down for the first time in months and digging back in to the work in progress that I had put on hiatus.  Optimal Red is a Dystopian novel for the New Adult market.  It is a Prequel to “Last Winter Red”, my first-ever published story in the “Make Believe” Anthology from last year.

Yep. I’m excited too.

I’m starting today with 14,000 already written words, and giving myself a challenge to finish the first draft by mid to late September.  It’s going to be tight, because Paper Wishes releases in three weeks (and yes, I am doing a full blog tour to support my baby – Cover should be ready soon!)

I still have final sign-offs to do on The First Day of the New Tomorrow (Which will release in September)  and a blog tour for that baby as well.  Yep, Mommy’s going to be busy.

But nothing will keep me from writing this time.  It’s what we do, right?  Although I’m incredibly anal and have plotted out how many words I need to write, and on which days… I look forward to getting back into my world, and my writing routine.  I missed it.

Who else out there needs a little kick in the butt to finish????

Race ya to the finish line!

Ready.  Set.  Go!

Happy writing!



Have you ever lost interest in something you were writing?

I’m in a little bit of a rut.  I know I can easily write 1000 words a day (I only have about an hour a day to write) but for the past few days, I just can’t seem to do it.

For some of the time, it is because my thoughts keep straying to a different story that I want to write.  I KNOW that if I followed my muse I’d be spitting out 1000+ words an hour.  But if I did that, I know I probably would never get back to what I’m writing.

Is there anything wrong with what I’m writing?  No.  It’s just not “calling to me”—You know what I mean?

The funny thing is, I am around the bend of the “rising action” and I am staring my climax in the face.  Just two more scenes until I start blowing things up. Oh, Yes! This one will make the Little Blue Lady from Mars very happy!  It will make me happy… but I’m just “bored” in the process of getting there.

Is my story boring?  I don’t think so (of course no one has read more than the first 500 words during Sunday Snippets.)

I know, I know… set it aside for a while and follow my muse… but I can’t.  I’m writing to a deadline again.  I have only a few more weeks to finish, go to beta, revise and submit… and I’d like to give myself a little extra time in case they ask for a re-write before the deadline.


I think part of it is that I can’t motivate myself to start, and once I get the motivation, I only have about 25 minutes of writing time left… so I dump about 450 words on the page and then have to stop.  If I had more time in a sitting, I would probably be able to keep going.  I guess that’s the sob story of everyone with a full time job, and a part time job plus a family to take care of.

So what about you guys?  Have you ever tired of something you were writing when you were so close to the “good part?”


The allure of the blank page

When my writing partner contacted me about the publisher anthology that lead to my “Writing to a Deadline” piece, all she knew was that it had to be a happy ending, and it could be no more than 10,000 words.

I stewed on this idea over a weekend, and came up with something that I believed would both cover the publisher’s tendency to reach for manuscripts with a romantic element, but also cradled my fascination with blowing things to bits.  I started mapping out that scenario in my head, and actually liked it.

Then the details came in for the anthology, and I realized I needed to totally scrap my idea. No explosions for me.  😦

I’m actually glad this happened though, because this story idea that I came up with has been calling me since the final edits of LAST WINTER RED.  (Which will be published in the Make Believe Anthology later this year)

I started writing out a summary-outline, and as I brought depth to the characters and the plot, I realized that 10,000 words never would have done this new idea justice.

I think the explosions alone might encompass 5,000 words

Don’t worry, I’ll try to control myself—there’s just a lot of pent-up artillery in my mind screaming to jump out and detonate!

So, I am half-way through the outline/summary of my next novel, and I am dreaming of that blank page.

After the pressure of Writing to a Deadline, I am looking forward to a slow, steady, enjoyable writing experience… and all the explosions I want.

I am moving through the outlining process with a smile on my face, developing the story as a summary, and dreaming up the scenarios that will lead up to that massive exploding climax.

Now that I know outlining works for me, I am not looking at it as a chore.  It is part of my creative process.

Ah…. The allure of the blank page.  It’s been a long time since I’ve looked so forward to starting something new.

Has anyone else exploded something started something new lately?

Guest Post: Writing Inspiration and Creativity By Kristin Battestella

Writing is youth.  It isn’t outside the box.  Stop thinking about all that advice that says break the rules, twist the genre, create something no one has ever created before!  Get rid of all those ultimatums in your head and actually do it.  Open that Toy Box!

Writing in many ways is play-acting.  You are creating an imaginative world. Even if you describe a real world setting that you know intimately,  one must put a spin on the senses, invoke feelings, and let strangers reading your books know what it is like to be here or there ten, fifty, one hundred years from now.  How can you do that if you simply sit at your desk, K-cups, internet and all? Even when writing a completely serious decidedly non-childlike manuscript, you should behave in a child like manner during the initial writing composition.  Return to your youthful memories, sense of wonder, and life altering experiences to make your paper world come to life.

Does your character hate au gratin potatoes and fish sticks because you yourself had horrible experiences with gross cheese clumps and limp, pasty fish?  Write it down!  It’s not dumb.  Never think anything you write is too dumb.  So long as it says something important about the character’s mind and personality or motivations in your text, any quirk or mannerism that creates a fully developed person and reader embodiment is a good thing!

And speaking of embodiment, how can you expect readers to inhabit your work if you don’t do so yourself?  I’m not saying you have to kill someone for your horror or sleep with many people for your erotica, but finding ways to experience the times, places, thoughts, and feelings of your characters and manuscript environment should be paramount.  How do you know if your character hates corsets unless you try one on yourself?  Maybe she-or he!- actually finds them quite comfortable because you went to a fancy lingerie store and got fitted yourself.  And hey, check out those adult shops to spice up that erotica or use Weird NJ as your roadmap to creepy or notorious places.  And what do you do with all these newfound experiences of yours? Write them down!

It’s all fine and dandy to write with a quill on antique paper as your players may have done. Dress up like them before the pc, even!  Don’t scoff. Just ask yourself, ‘Why not?’ Try wearing a wig in your character’s style to the grocery store and see what happens.  Do your neighbors already think you’re a whirlwind of fun? Or will you surprise someone, maybe even yourself?

Use the physical freedoms and whimsy already about you to free your mind and imagination.  After a seemingly drastic character embodiment experiment, it becomes easier to find your story sources in everyday things.  Can you fit in your kitchen in a hoop skirt? Would your glamorous blonde ever do the laundry?  Open yourself to creative foreplay and experiences for a magical writing experience!



Writer’s Retreat. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

When I signed up for my writer’s retreat, I was looking forward to a weekend away from the chaos of my life.

I had a vision of a sleepy little cabin and absolute quiet, with 7 others as focused as I was.

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

My husband warned me, “There’s probably going to be alcohol.”

“No,” I said.  “These are grown women, not a bunch of kids.  We are all going there to write.”

He smiled and shook his head.  Geez, I hate it when he’s right.

When I got there, I went to the kitchen to put my stuff in the refrigerator, and found the table covered with enough liquor to fuel a small public bar.  Ummm… there are only eight of us, right?

There were a few other people there, and they were chatting.  That’s okay.  We were getting to know each other.  But of course, they would eventually stop to write, right?  Ugh.  No.

Eventually I left, and went to my room to try to write.  It was too uncomfortable, though.  So I went back to the kitchen and set up at the table, cranking my headphones to drown them out.

“It’s okay,”  I thought.  “Tomorrow, everyone will have this out of their system, and they will start writing.

Imagine my surprise when they started pouring alcohol into their orange juice at breakfast.

Thank goodness, someone thought up “quiet time.”  They set up an alarm clock and no one could talk for hour stints.  My problem is that I just get going by the time the hour is up.  If I had more silence, I would be flying.

In truth, I think only one other person there was as devoted to writing as I was.  Two were half-devoted.  Two more were kind-of interested in writing, and two people were only there to socialize and drink.  One of which I don’t even think turned on her computer.

Not quite the creative atmosphere my naïve little mind had hoped for.

The good thing was, I completed my first draft.  The bad thing was, I only completed my first draft.  I was hoping to get a few edits in as well.

I am looking at this as a learning experience.

#1 Ask questions first.  See what other’s hopes for the retreat are.  If everyone isn’t on the same page, you might not be happy with the results.

#2 Don’t go into an unknown situation with goals that you HAVE TO achieve.  The Unknowns will drag you down.

Now, honestly, this is completely my fault for not knowing
what I was getting into.  This retreat happens twice a year.  This is just what they do.  No harm, no foul.  It was just not what I expected.

Would I go again?  Yes, probably, but I wouldn’t want to work on something important that I was up against a deadline with, because there was not as much writing time as I’d hoped for.

I might also watch to see who else is going, depending on how much work I really wanted to get done.

I mean, I like these people.  They are nice, we had a good time.    The problem is that I was there to write… and some people were there for different reasons.

My mistake…

Writing to a Deadline Part 3: “I got something… now what?”

“I got something… Now what?”

If you’re just hopping into the insanity that is my writing life, check out Parts #1 and #2 or this won’t make sense.

So, I have a main character.  I know who she is.  I’ve written two pages.  She meets a little girl and a dog.

 I stop myself.

Learn from your mistakes, Jennifer.  You need more than this.  You only have two months to write and polish this story for submission.  There is no room for error.  You need an outline.  You need absolute direction and form.  No room for straying.

Was I stuck?  No.  Two drives alone in the car gave me four more characters.  I have their wants, needs, and desires set in my mind.  I know how they will react when meeting my main character.  I know what is going to happen.  I know how it will end.  It wasn’t on paper, but I had an outline.

I went back and looked at the first two pages.  Wow.  They were beautifully written.  Probably the cleanest first draft I’ve ever done.

Too bad they didn’t work anymore.

I took a few key descriptive sentences I liked, and set the rest aside to start over.

In the back of my mind I knew everyone else was three weeks ahead of me.  But I knew where I was going now.  I had focus.

I knew how the story started.  I knew all five character’s motivations.  I knew the plot, and I knew the ending.  In fact, I could picture it.  The publisher gave it to me— it was that odd picture that I could not find a story in three weeks ago.  Funny how that happens, huh?

So, I knew where I was going… Now, I just needed to bring my characters there.

10,000 words writing to a deadline… outside the comfort zone of my genre.

This is the real world.  Here we go.

In the immortal world of Crush the Turtle:   “Let’s see what Little Dude can do.”


Here is an interesting article on finding time to write by Sandra Madeira  My writing notebook I love the idea of seeing how many hours are in the day, and what time you have to write and when.  For some … Continue reading

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