Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Halfway Celebration

Celebration Time! I’m halfway through the first draft of the Screwing Up Time sequel.
Writing this novel is going quickly—it’s as if the story is writing itself. Because I’m a “pantser,” sometimes the writing is slow because I’m not sure what is going to happen. But so far when I finish a scene, the next scene is waiting to be written.

My family has caught my excitement, and occasionally I catch my kids standing behind me and reading over my shoulder. Then I banish them. When I read it to them for the first time, I want the story to be fresh. Right now I hope to have the first draft finished by mid to late October. I’ll do a first edit right away, and hopefully will send it to beta readers (people—usually writers—who read early drafts and give feedback about what needs to be fixed) by Thanksgiving. If all goes well, maybe the sequel will be out by spring. If not, it should be out by early summer. I’ll keep you posted. 

Here's a photo of me, hard at work. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


(First off, let me say that I'm so sorry I forgot to post yesterday. I try to post every Tuesday, but I just didn't get around to it. Classes, work, and sickness consumed my mind. Here's what I was supposed to post.)

People frequently ask if I base my characters on real people, events, or places. The answer is no. (Even though I have a cool t-shirt that says, "Watch Out Or You Might End Up In My Next Novel.") However, that doesn't mean I don't draw from my personal experiences. For example, in Screwing Up Time, Mark lives in North Haven, Connecticut, which is a real place. For seven years, I lived in the neighboring town of Hamden. I draw from my experiences there when I put in details about the weather, the names of streets, etc. So if you went to North Haven, you could find Ridge Road where Mark used to run to keep in shape. But the characters aren't people I know. Though Mark's personality is an amalgam of two young men I know--but they won't sue. :) I've never based a character's personality on a living person, mostly because the characters I write about are fully formed once they come to me. And, in fact, even with Mark, it was more like I recognized who he was rather than who I planned he would be.

And I like to include real objects like my poison ring and the very cool yellow Solstice that I see driving the streets of Chattanooga. One of my sons is getting a birthday present (sorry he's birthday's tomorrow and I can't spoil his fun and tell you what it is) that I'd love to include in a book, but it probably won't be this sequel.

And this morning I found a beautiful creature that I'm going to include. Sadly, she'll have only a small role. But now you'll have something to look forward to. Here's a picture of her.

 She lives right outside our front door. And though you can't see it in the photo, she has a snack wound in silk underneath her belly.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sequel Excerpt

The first draft of the sequel to Screwing Up Time is one third done. (Imagine me throwing confetti.) In honor of that milestone, I’ve decided to post a very short excerpt. I can’t promise that this passage will actually make it into the final version of the novel, but I thought you might enjoy it. Don’t worry, there aren’t any spoilers.

            Murgatroid was long gone when the guard woke up. He sat up, rubbed his head, and looked for me. I waved and hoped revenge wasn’t high on his to-do list—having a clay pot shattered on the back of your head probably packed a nasty headache. I wished I could give him some ibuprophen. Instead, I poured him a goblet of wine.
            By the time Peter came back, the guard was sitting in the chair by the door.
            “Yo, Pete,” I said when he walked in. “I’m getting a little tired of hanging out here waiting for whatever it is you want to spring on me.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Photos of Bodiam Castle

Screwing Up Time is set in several locations. One of them in North Haven, CT, near where my family and I lived for seven years. The other location is a bit more exotic for Americans. It’s Bodiam Castle. And yes, Bodiam Castle is a real place. If you’d like to look at some photos of what the castle looks like today. Click here. And it will take you to a National Trust photo gallery of Bodiam Castle. These are some of the things Mark and Brian would have seen when they visited the castle. I hope you enjoy the photos.

BTW, for those of you who are regular readers of this blog. My plan is to post every Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Plotter or Pantser

People often ask how writers come up with their stories. Most writers fall into one of two categories: Plotters or Pantsers. (Though many writers are combinations of both.)  A plotter is someone who sits down and writes out the plot of a novel before they begin writing. Some writers plot everything—every plot twist, every scene.  Other writers are “pantsers” because they write from the seat of their pants with almost no idea of what’s going to happen.

I’m a pantser. I sit down to write the story and have no idea where it’s going. I rely on my characters to tell the story to me. In that way, my writing the novel isn’t that much different than the way a reader experiences it when he or she reads it.

For me, “the unknown” is the scary-thrilling rush that comes as I write. It’s kind of like being on a rollercoaster while wearing a blindfold.

For example, I’m working on a sequel to Screwing Up Time—I’m about a quarter of the way into the story, and I ran into a conundrum. Kate, Brian, and Granddad are all in different places. Eventually, they need to get to Mark and Miranda who are in trouble and need all the help they can get.

I knew how Granddad would get there. But I had no idea how Kate would get there or what her role would be in the action. Then, the answer came to me. Kate would act according to her personality, and she’s not one to sit back and wait for things to happen.

I’d love to tell you what Kate’s decided to do, but I don’t want to spoil any of the book. So you’ll just have to wait because I want you to experience the rush of discovering the story just like I do (although without all the nastiness of editing and proofreading—the real downside of being an author).