Category Archives: Book planning

Thoughts about works in progress and how they develop. Back stories that may be interesting to the readers and some of the character development.

Winner! And Moving On…


It’s official.  I can now say that I am a NaNoWriMo winner and that feels awesome!   Being able to write over 65,000 words in less than a month is an eye-opening experience for a writer who’s done it for the first time.  What it tells me, as a writer, is that I can get those words out there so that the first draft is complete and editing can begin.

The next phase of NaNo is to edit the words in December with an eye to publishing in the spring.  There’s still a lot of work to be done though.  Just writing the first draft isn’t enough to have a novel ready to go.  It needs to be rewritten in places, polished, some more research done, but I feel pretty confident about the book I’ve just completed.

 New Project

The Alcazar at Grenada, Spain. Isn’t this a beautiful backdrop for a romantically suspenseful novel?

At any rate, I am moving on and stepping away a little from both the October and NaNo novels to begin work on another two novels.  The first is one I outlined years ago after a trip to Spain and I wanted to incorporate the beautiful Spanish setting as well as the trips to Morocco and Portugal into the story.  It’s a suspense romance novel along the lines of the type that Mary Stewart wrote.  I loved her books. If I am going to write romance, then I want it to be in the paranormal suspense romance or just plain suspense romance genres.  So far, I don’t have a title, working or otherwise, for this novel so it is the Spanish story for now.

The second one is the one I first started to write about March of this year and didn’t get very far before the sci-fi fantasy one took over.  So that story, which is the one that is moving forward right now, is a young adult urban fantasy called “Dew Dropping Hour” and is set in Ireland.  Parts of the British Isles have always had a magical feel for me and the mythology of the islands have such enchantment that this is another planned series of books that really excites me.  I believe, at this time, that the series will be three books, but it could go to four.  It just depends on how it actually plays out while I’m writing it.  The overall series is called “The Isles of Magic”.


For some reason, I have a really hard time coming up with titles for my books.  I had a working title for the novel I am currently typing in from the hard copy that I had of it, but I don’t like it.  It doesn’t really serve the book well, so I am hoping to get an inspiration somewhere along the line as I’m writing it.

Sometimes I find the title in song lyrics or poetry and sometimes they just pop up when I’m writing.  For instance, the title of the YA, “Dew Dropping Hour” is from a poem by William Butler Yeats. But if something doesn’t present itself, it becomes a real struggle to find something that ties in, but doesn’t sound milquetoast.

Do you encounter a problem with coming up with good, enticing titles for your books or stories?  Let me know.

Log Lines and Half-Way Through NaNo

Cover for my 2014 NaNo novel. Cover Design: Claimyourself


“A freaky ability causes a young singer to question her sanity, her faith and her willingness to embrace a new dimension to her talent.”

My potential log line for “Funeral Singer: A Song for Marielle”

 Log Lines and Elevator Pitches

 Log lines are something that have carried over from screenwriting to novel writing.  It’s the one or two line tease that attempts to summarize what the heart of the story is and tempt the reader or movie-goer to learn more.

In writing, it’s called the elevator pitch.  You have a few seconds on an elevator to tell a potential publisher, agent or reader something about your story that might entice them before they get off the elevator.  So you hope that you can say something that will pique their interest and persuade them to want to know more about your story.

They aren’t that easy to write but they do force you, as a writer, to think about the essence of your story.  What is it you are really exploring in the book and what is the conflict or potential growth for your main character?

So, I ask, would that log line intrigue you enough to want to know more?

 Mid-Way on NaNo And Almost A Win

 Here we are at mid-November and I have experienced the pure rush of NaNaWriMo and almost won.  I say almost because all that remains now is to validate my word count, which I can’t do until November 20 when the official web site makes the counter available.  Unofficially, I reached my goal on November 10 and I completed the first draft of my novel on November 14 at 57,003 words.

Oddly, there’s been a sense of let-down the first couple of days after the novel was completed.  I feel I should still be writing and I know there are places where additional scenes are needed, secondary characters need to be brought in more and more tension built in the book.  In short, I have the basic story down, but the part that makes it an entertaining read still needs to be fleshed out, so I know there’s a lot to be done in the first edit.  I’ve never written a book this way until the last novel I did just before NaNo and this one.

The one I did in October was one-third of the way written, from when I started in April, and had been in my mind for over three years, so I had a really strong sense of that novel.  Going into NaNo with a new novel that I had outlined at the end of October and had only loosely conceived in the past year meant that I hadn’t had as much time to think about the characters or the plot.

One of the reasons I tend to write much slower normally is that I am still thinking a lot about the characters, who they are and how they react and that can be time consuming.  So, the first draft has forced some of the characters to come out without as much definition as I think they need.  Or I am just being critical of a project that I haven’t really had time to step away from before critiquing what I’ve done.

 Please keep following my blog to see how this all plays out and what I think later on after I’ve had time away from this project and go back in for the first edit.  Also, please feel free to comment, either here on my blog or on my Facebook page.

10 Writing Tips I’ve Discovered


One week from today is November 1, the start of the NaNoWriMo event, so it is exciting and still a little scary. As I posted to Facebook, I just completed over 50,000 words on my current work-in-progress, “O’Ceagan’s Legacy”  in 23 days and I am only two chapters away now from completing it. I am targeting the end of this weekend to try to wrap up the first draft. So I feel pretty good about that. Apart from wanting to get the book completed before I start on the new book on November 1, I wanted to see if I could write at the pace it would take for NaNo. Now I have proven to myself that I can do it. But here’s 10 other things I learned while doing this:


Set aside the time to write in the morning or early afternoon and stick to it. Plan on additional writing in the late afternoon or evening. I even try to write for a short while after I turn off the TV set at night. After a couple of weeks, you’re beginning to get conditioned to this. It is sort of like training for a marathon, but not as physically tiring. You make up for it in mental exhaustion.


Having a plan is really important for me. How do the pantsers do it? I like having an outline and knowing where my story is going and how it is going to get there. Not that I don’t have detours along the route and sometimes we go to an entirely different place than I planned, but that’s all right.


Scrivener has been an amazing tool with the notes and scene planning and I wonder how I managed without it before. Oh, yes, I had those stacks of index cards with scribbled notes that I kept shuffling around. That worked well… not! So easy to adjust the scenes and move them around with this program.


Take breaks while writing. Get up and move around, shake out the tension in your shoulders and put the book out of your mind for a little while. I like to play a video game for about 30 minutes to distract me and let my subconscious work.


Don’t stop to edit. I’ve heard this from many people and it is something I have to work on. I still see the red squiggles under misspelled words and go back to correct them. So you noticed that you used the same word in the second sentence that you used in the first. Let it go. You’ll correct it in the next draft.


Yes, this section really sucks and it feels flat, but once again, the story is the important thing now. The art of the words comes with subsequent drafts.


Holy cow! Is that a plot hole or what? Well, yes, your spaceship just flew through it, but make a note and you’ll fix it on the rewrite. This kind of includes things like this is more technical that I actually know, but research on those troublesome items can also come with the second draft.


Never mind that your main character thinks she suckered you in. You want to hear from your characters, as many as possible, because the mind works in a very strange way and those character viewpoints help you make the whole darn thing work. If you can hear and see them, then your story is coming alive and writing goes much more smoothly.


Stumped with something in the story and nothing is coming to mind to put on the paper? It’s not really writer’s block, not when you know what has to happen. I have two options to get around this.

• One is to write a different scene, either the next one or one in a different part of the story. Often other scenes are clearer in my mind, so skipping to one is a quick way to get the brain going again.  It sometimes helps to work out the details for the scene I’m having trouble with.

• This other technique has worked for me for many years. Pick up a pen and paper and write it out in longhand.  Because I did technical writing as well as article writing for many years, I tend to engage the logical side of the brain more when I’m on the computer. But I started writing stories as a child and I wrote them out on paper before I typed them with a typewriter. When you have to keep typing the whole book over for edits, you do tend to edit when typing. So, it seems that picking up the pen signals the creative side of my brain that we can relax and let the ideas flow.


Take time to pet the cats and don’t get too upset with them when they decide that you’ve typed enough and the keyboard is in the way of their grooming on your lap. This is really important, especially to the cats. They help you to relax and sometimes that helps bring the story out. Besides if you ignore them, they will simply lie on your keyboard and put all kinds of unwanted cat words into the book… or worse.

These techniques may not work for everyone, but if the last 24 days have been an example for me, then they may be keys to my success next month. I am certainly hoping that’s the case.

Got some other tips for NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments. I need all the help I can get!

Character Building and Inspiration

Monument at Lady of the Snows Catholic Cemetery, Reno NV -Photo by R. Averett

A little under two weeks until the start of NaNoWriMo on November 1st and novel prep is underway.  I will be writing the first book in, what I plan to be a series, called Funeral Singer: A Song for Marielle.  It’s a paranormal mystery, think a Ghost Whisperer type of story.  I am so excited about writing this story and I have the plot worked out, although stories do tend to take side excursions on me as I am writing.


This past week was spent with the characters more and getting the background for them worked out.  I am still adding to them, but most of them have names and histories and are beginning to “come to life” in my brain.  You know you’re succeeding when they start talking to you.  I think I am getting close to at least my main character speaking up.  That’s always a fun time in the writing process.

Even though my NaNo Reno group met on Friday to work on plot and characters, we didn’t really plot much or do much character building, but did get better acquainted and talked quite a bit about writing.  Two of us had signed up for the webinar on using Scrivener for NaNo that was presented by  author Joanna Penn and Joseph Michael, who offers training on the program.  I have been using the program about a month now and absolutely love it for any writing project.  But this webinar showed us quite a few tricks and learning how Joanna has used it during NaNoWriMo was a bonus.  So, we talked a little about the cool features in the program and how much more there is to learn about it.


Grave monument at Old Hillside Cemetery, Reno NV – Photo by R. Averett

Yesterday, I went out with the roomie looking for a little inspiration in, of all places, cemeteries.  I also wanted to get a renewed sense of the feeling in the mausoleums, chapels and along the rows of graves, new and old.  As I was taking a few photos, I had the feeling that I was intruding at times.  I found myself offering prayers and well wishes to any ghosts that might still haunt these areas.

I went to the Old Hillside Cemetery near the University of Nevada Reno campus.  Graves in it date back to the Civil War era, but it is a sad-looking place.  Fences surround the various sections of it to prevent vandalism.  Oddly, there were a few newer-looking gravestones for very old graves so the families of these people are trying to maintain those graves.  I’ve heard that there are some who wish to move the graves to a new location so that this area might be used for student housing.  Stories relate that there are at least two ghosts who haunt this graveyard and possibly more.  I am not prone to seeing ghosts, but there are times that I do feel a presence.  I also believe that moving the grave will not move the ghost with it.

One of the cemeteries was the Catholic one at the north of town. I stood among the graves of the innocents, the babies that had died, some not even one day old and yet offerings of flowers showed that they were still remembered and loved.  One grave of a 12-year-old girl, who died several years ago, had a freshly carved pumpkin and autumn flowers on it.  Very touching.  I want to remember all of this when I begin writing my book in November.