Saturday, December 26, 2009

Writing Goals for 2010

Only five days left until 2010. This year was a great year for me and I feel blessed to have an agent and three completed manuscripts. (The latest one is in living in Editville right now.) It's easy to forget the little things like:

  • Having a functional laptop (even though writing Bachelors and Broomsticks resulted in a broken 4 key... Don't ask.)
  • Having an understanding family that allows me to lose my mind in the worlds I create
  • How good it feels to read a great book by other authors and get lost in its world

My goals for 2010:

  1. I will write 4 manuscripts in 2010.
  2. I will sell my first manuscript in 2010. (Optimism = Yay)
  3. I will complete 3 novellas. (I have two unfinished ones. *sigh*)
  4. I will harness and understand my process of writing. (Yes, it took me a year to figure out I'm not the write everyday type of gal. I need to live with it.)
  5. I will break my previous record of 8,000 Words in one day and will knock out 10K in a day.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Creating a Word Notebook - Day 1

Happy Holidays! A few more days until Christmas!

Based on Bria Quinlan's motivating blog entry, I've decided to create my own Word Notebook. Most of the time, I use 1000 Verbs to Write By via Deanna Carlyle. But now I'm biting the bullet to use the notebook to see how it will improve my work.

Phase 1: Overused words hunt
Using a demo of heal-a-doc

OK, so I ran the demo and now I have a list of my overused words. A few of them I expected to see while some other ones reflected the popular crutch words I used at the time.

Manuscript #1 (Top 5)
1. Really
2. Very
3. Issues
4. Whatever
5. Beeline

Manuscript #2 (Top 5)
1. Really (I'm sensing a pattern here. LOL)
2. Suddenly
3. Very
4. Whatever
5. 24/7

Manuscript #3 (Top 5)
1. Really
2. Whatever
3. Focused
4. Suddenly
5. Issues

I think I really use the word really too much. I mean really, the word is a junk adverb but hey sometimes I need to get a point across and really fits... Ok, point made. Point learned.

OK, in a few days I will tackle the next step in building the notebook--searching my favorite books for new verbs, nouns, and phrases. (I hate such pleasurable research.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Agent Day Thanks Jim

Kody Keplinger is celebrating today as Agent Appreciation Day with a post about how she appreciates her agent. In honor of today, I thought I would include other posts I find and a shout out to the agent in my corner: Jim McCarthy. Here are the top 3 reasons I think he's a huge can of awesome.

3. The man has the speed of a cheetah. Jim's incredibly fast and responds to my emails and concerns quickly and efficiently. I sometimes wonder if I wasn't the only one surgically attached to the computer. *sigh* I'm not alone. He isn't on twitter (not that I know of) but he does blog though with D&G. Thank you Jim for reading my manuscript so quickly and offering to represent me.

2. Jim has a fabulous critical eye. During revisions Jim caught quite a few holes that slipped past my critique partners. He helped me polish my manuscript to make it even shiner. Thanks Jim! (He even found the humorous stuff funny.)

1. He remains calm when I hit the panic button. I'm in the middle of submissions and Jim's the calm cucumber as I ramble on about the stresses of submissions. I can almost imagine him typing the email with a smile. Thanks Jim for enduring my emails. =) From your other clients I know you do such a fine job and I wanted to say thank you today for your hard work. It is appreciated.

You can find a long list of shout outs on Lisa and Laura's blog for their agent Catherine Drayton.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Building Ideas Box

I am an idea factory. (That shouldn't be confused with title factory cause I suck at those.) When I should be working on my current WIP ideas are brewing like steaming coffee in my gray matter. Before I would stow them away for a rainy day when I would remember to scrawl them down on a piece of paper. But then the piece of paper would get lost in the office of doom and then I can't find it anymore. (Currently happening right now for an old idea. *sigh*)

I thought I'd divulge how my conveyor belt of ideas are currently built, stored, and then packaged for potential pick up by my writing shopping cart. (Cue the 1950s shopper music.)

1. Idea Pops Into Head - This most often happens while I am driving, changing a diaper, or taking a walk. My best ideas have come while driving. Thank goodness only one idea came during a diaper change.

2. Let the Idea Roll Around - Ideas are a dime a dozen so it really helps to let it go crazy after it pops in. I don't really start thinking about the black moment or the plot. Most ideas start with an event or a crazy character. Most of the time my ideas start with either.

3. Store the Darn Thing - Before I used paper for my ideas. I even had a notebook. But now I'm snazzy and use Google Docs. Why Google Docs? Well, they provide a central location for me to access my ideas from anywhere. Hey, I'm in Borders and I get a cool plot point for one of my ideas--then I add the note to my Google Doc for that idea.

4. Organizing Ideas - Once my idea is jotted down into a new Google document, I expand out from my initial paragraph. I use LOCK plot builder from James Scott Bell's book Plot & Structure. Basically LOCK includes the Lead, Objective, Conflict, and Knockout. As I build my idea I fill in these portions. From the LOCK, I am able to add in plot points, the black moment, and other goodies to torture the protagonists.

5. Add in Sugar, Spice, and Conflict - By this point, the idea is packaged and ready to turn into a story if I wanted. But most of the time I'm not ready so I add in bits of scenes if they pop into my head. Most of the time if I get a scene it has an expiration date in my head. If I let it sit too long I'll forget so I simply type into the idea document I've created.

Yes, I'm not ashamed to say I came up with another idea after I wrote this post.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Great Book - Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

It's been a while since I consumed a book and read it quickly. Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth was such a book. I knew it ensnared me in its web when I misplaced the book and search fifteen minutes for it. Most of time I would've simply picked up another book to read but I couldn't wait to see what happened so I searched the house for it.

I highly recommend the book for adults. It may be YA but the book was entertaining and quite wonderful with its zombieness. (This is my first YA book in years. I normally do not read the genre unless the book hooks me in.) Now I understand why the book has done well and my agent sold it. Fabulous book! I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Writing and Music

Music is one of those mediums that helps drive my writing. Whether I am working on something dark or light, I prefer to have music in place to help set the mood. Not to say I haven't written in silence, but if I have my heroine and hero beating up bad guys I most certainly wouldn't use some let's-hold-hands-and-make-world-a-better-place music. Now my tastes are eclectic. At first, I always listened to R&B or even rap. But college and a cousin with an undying love for Prince (if you don't know about the great purple one...I'm so sorry. Cue the tears and a single dove released.) revealed a vast library of music I hadn't heard before. In particular Stevie Wonder and P-funk. I was like Flashlight, Brickhouse. Whoa! Bootay Shake!

But well, when it came to writing, I found that I couldn't work with my standard set of music. For me, certain music evoked emotions within me that compelled me to write scenes. And well Rumpshaker from Wreckx N Effects from high school doesn't give me those write romance/urban fantasy/ummm whatever genre feeling. And well, I write paranormal, so I need that creepy, dark stuff, or I need that light quirky stuff I heard in college like Blue's Traveler's Run Around. One of my favorites--I love her music, is Me'shell Ndegéocello. Her music has such feeling and I feel compelled to write. And thus the music does its job. Sometimes I don't feel like writing, but all it takes is the right song at the right time and I feel something that makes my fingers want to get the scene out. Even if its a song I would not listen to while in the car, if it has that "vibe", I'm more than willing to listen to it to fall into the moment. =)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nano Down the Draino

Well, my Nanowrimo has not gone well. I'm officially out on submission and my mind is in lalaland doing a strange dance. I've gone back to my third book and I would love to knock it out by the end of the month. (Yeah right.)

At this point I've made little progress. I wish I was much farther along by now:

Shawntelle's Third Book:
Novel Progress

It doesn't help that I work more now than I used to. As an independent developer I work as often as I have work. And of course I have plenty to do during the day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Confessions from a Reality TV Junkie

Would everyone in the room who is addicted to reality television raise their hand.

*Raises hand*

If you are a reality television watcher like myself you love to watch the train wrecks as they happen. As a writer, reality TV for me is the ultimate idea generator. In the past I've watched:

  • The Millionaire Matchmaker
  • Flipping Out
  • How Clean is Your House
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • Project Runway
  • So You Think You Can Dance
  • Real Housewives of [Fill in the City - Atlanta, Orange County, New Jersey, you get the drift]
  • American Idol
  • Punk'd
  • The Biggest Loser
  • Moment of Truth (OMG, the word work train wreck is not good enough for this one...)
  • Trading Spouses
  • Nanny 911
  • Tabitha's Salon Takeover (Luv this show!)

I'm leaving out classics like Jerry Springer and Maury Povich (the real who's my baby-daddy show). To be honest, I couldn't get into Survivor or Dancing with the Stars. I tried, but it wasn't entertaining to me. I guess they didn't have enough of that hot mess factor I was looking for. :D

So what have these shows taught me? That if I can't think of unique characters for my books, then these places are filled to the hilt with ideas for me to tap, flip in a bowl, and slap in pan to sizzle into something interesting. Take the chef from Hell's Kitchen for example, he is a potty mouth chef from England. He treats the other chefs like crap, but I love to watch this show. (As well as the F Word on the BBC. Another BBC America addict here.) With all those personalities trying to cook a risotto properly there's bound to be a scene hiding in there somewhere to twist with a paranormal idea. Either with a loud mouth contestant or one who seems to have poor fashion sense.

So grab that remote folks and pull out that research paper. You can find plenty of what-if scenarios to utilize in your manuscript.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 1 of Nanowrimo

Well, its the morning of day 1 and I've survived October. My agent approved my edits yesterday. Woo hoo! So I should be heading toward the rolling plains of Submissionville soon enough. For my nano novel titled, Seduced (that is the shortened name), I have already conquered 650 words. *pumps fist* Of course, it was midnight and I had the likelihood of typing out "Work makes Jack a dull boy." about fifty times. But after a quick look see I have determined I wrote coherent words with dialog.

For my third book, which I still plan to continue working with I reached this far:

Shawntelle's Third Book:
Novel Progress

Not bad, actually. I wanted to be at 50%, but 10% off is not a failure. I may be able to reach 75% by the end of nano. I didn't want to edit two books at once, but in the future that may happen so it may be for the best.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Four Days Until Nano

Well, my progress for Nano has gone much better than my current WIP. LOL As if last night, this is where I stand with my third book:

Shawntelle's Third Book: (AKA Get the Darn Thing 50% done Before Nano, Please!)
Novel Progress

I've followed Lynn Viehl's notebook and I have completed several pages of the Novel Notebook. I've also written a synopsis. A few books ago, I hated the darn thing, but with time they're not so bad anymore. Romance has a distinct formula and armed with GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict) for each character the synopsis flows out much faster. Of course, my synopsis is under review this week since I may have weak points and I may have to hash out the messy middle to toss in a subplot or two to hold the thing up with toothpicks.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nano Preparation

Thanks to the fabulous author, Lynn Viehl, I will be even more prepared for Nano next week. I plan to complete my first contemporary for the monthly write vest. Lynn posted a link to her Novel Notebook, a scrib document full of great details for a writer to fill out regarding their characters, settings, and plot.

If you want to be my writing buddy during nanowrimo I am listed over there as Shawntelle. (Yes, how original.) I'll have to post how much I followed Lynn's notebook and how useful I found it. I had planned to write a synopsis this week, but using the notebook should make that painful exercise less agonizing.

I'm continuing my sprints during the day to see how much of my third book I can knock out before Nano. Right now, I am 32% done. I'd love to have the book 75% or more done by next Saturday. Even if I wrote 5K per day I still wouldn't finish. But with a month off after the first draft, I would be fresh and ready to edit and complete my first werewolf book.

Shawntelle's Third Book:
Novel Progress

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lovely Wordle Cloud for My Witch Book

I wasted some perfectly valuable time to create a word cloud for my witch book. (I don't use Memoirs of a Witch Matchmaker anymore since it will be changed before submission to editors.) So here it is in all its shiny glory:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Planning for Nanowrimo

Well, a little over 15 days to go until Nanowrimo is here! Getting excited about participating in my first. I jumped back into writing at the end of Nano so I missed it last year. It's amazing how a year has passed and I've written two books and one of them secured an agent. I got my editorial notes last week from him and sent in the finished material already. (I think the speedy work was due to performing line edits before I did the editorial work. After going line by line for a few weeks I knew my book inside and out.)

I've brainstormed with the super plotter Amanda Berry to determine the topic for my 50K. I still will have to keep up with my other work, but 1100 a day to me is not much when I usually aim for 2500 or more when I am in the zone. I am doing a contemporary, my first, so I needed to use her plotting mojo to get the initial ideas out. I am a plotter who is a panster for the individual scenes. When I know where I'm going to write a lot faster and simply connect the dots. Of course, if my characters decide to do something different based on their personality I allow the flexibility to let that happen.

Today I need to get back into writing my third book, whether its the dark paranormal one or the light one. Either way, I want to get this book halfway done before Nanowrimo starts.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Right now my writing is pretty slow. Other than being sick a few times this month, the engine is slowly revving up. I'm still waiting on revisions from my agent. Until then I'm plowing away with my current WIP, another paranormal chick lit book. I had a dark paranormal that I was working on, but I pushed that to the side to concentrate on the area that I will submit soon with.

I'm also distracted by my first book when is begging to be edited. I'm currently at the half way point and the rest of the words used to frighten me. That was a few months ago. By this point I am so ready for the darn thing to be rewritten.

Focus is not high right now. I could use a shot or two of the stuff. If you have some be sure to pass it along.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jumping Back on the Saddle

When I get back into a project I jump into the water head first and fast. I write, write, and write until I am done. But this time things are different. I have an agent and well that means book number two will go through the trials of preparation for submission. I hope I can stay on my A game focus on the task at hand.

For me there is this hunger to make progress. To see myself at 25K words. Then a few days later I keep thinking, it sure would be nice to be at 35K. And on and on I drive myself until I usually hit a wall. That's when I use my trusty friend Write or Die. I write in sprints, but even I have my days where I cannot plow ahead with coherent words. Most of the time I do not want to wait for a good day to move on. Usually I force myself into Write or Die and I use the environment to get the words out. I know the plot of the story, I just need that Jimmy Neutron moment where a flash of light in the gray matter upstairs sends me into a writing frenzy. Write or Die does that. I've heard many friends say working under the gun doesn't work for them, but for me its the opposite. When I am stuck I love the virtual slap on the hands I get from Write or Die. Matter of fact a small percentage of Memoirs was written using Write or Die. Other portions somehow came out in the parking lot of the local grocery store... It's amazing how things work out when its time to start writing.

Well, time to finish my third book. The Mad Typist is back.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I have an agent!

After a safari through the jungles of queryland I have news:

Shawntelle Madison is represented by Jim McCarthy of the Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

I just realized I never posted this... Shows how busy I am working.

Monday, August 24, 2009

When the Muse Heads Elsewhere

Right now I am sort of in semi-down time. I finished my second book at the beginning of July and then I started a new one at the end of that month. But after forty or so pages I have slowed to a crawl. It's not as if I don't know what should happen in the story, I wrote a synopsis for the thing. The main issue is that the hunger is not there. My muse has run off with another writer and she hasn't been back for a while. But I am ok with that actually. This break is good and allows me to read books I enjoy and relax. When I am renewed, she'll be back. ;)

I have waited like this before between my first book and my second. The hunger to write will come again and the scenes will start running through my head waiting to be written. In essence, what I'm saying is that the rush to write everyday is not necessary for everyone. (Many authors swear by their 250 words a day.) Some folks like myself take mini-breaks, then we write, write, write until our house looks crazy and we start walking around stuttering, "Must write... Kids? Oh, they're somewhere in the house. They have food... I think."

Whatever type of writer you are, I hope that when the Muse does come back you have a computer setup and waiting.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Queritis - Signs and Symptoms

I have several friends right now in the trenches of sending out/receiving queries. They all have this rampant disorder called Queritis.

Queritis - An unfortunate disorder where the patient exhibits a strong need to click the refresh button to see if a query response/partial/full response has been received. Patient twitches once in awhile and continues to talk about how agent/editor is torturing them with the delay.

Recommendations for the cure:
  • Chocolate (in large quantities if necessary)
  • Start writing the next book while mumbling how much you hate to wait
  • Start a hobby like gardening
  • Spring cleaning... in the fall
  • Lament to others with the disorder (they'll pat you and say, "There, there." After they twitch a few times.
  • Take a walk outside to brainstorm or enjoy the weather
  • Cheesy movies where the hero/heroine wins out in the end (even better if the movie ends with the result of a positive email or phone call)

If you have this disorder (I bet you checked your email real quick after you read this...) welcome to the club. Come drink the koolaid with the rest of us. Personally, in the beginning I have a vast amount of patience, but once the partials and fulls go out all bets are off. I wonder, ummm, have they read it yet? Do they like it? I have work to do during the day, but the email is there and once an email hits my box I think is there a reply? Nope, very likely spam asking me if I want viagra or some other obscure pharmaceutical advertisement. Waiting is hard after all the writing and editing you have done. But all in all, if it took you months/years to write, a few more months won't kill you. It'll only make you more patient and happy when a positive turn does come around the corner. And that's what writing has taught me: patience. (And how to check my email in the most obscure places.)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Once Upon a Crime Blog - Celebrates One Year

A fellow Romance Diva, Jennifer Bianco, is celebrating the success of one year at her blog, Once Upon A Crime. Congrats to Jennifer Bianco, Jennifer McKenzie, Cynthia Justlin, and KH Singletary for their achievement. You go girls!

They are holding a contest:

To celebrate OUAC’s one-year anniversary, we are giving away some awesome prizes this month.

  • A first 3-chapter critique by moi (Jennifer Bianco) — any genre but historical please
  • A 3-chapter critique by GH finalist, Cynthia Justlin — any genre but erotica
  • A $15 B&N gift card donated by Lisa St. James
  • Mystery Romance Book Bundle:

Trouble in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon
I Shot You Babe by Leslie Langtry
Gotcha! by Christie Craig

  • Romantic Suspense Book Bundle:

Beneath Bone Lake by Colleen Thompson
Killer Charms by Marianne Stillings
Sudden Death by Allison Brennan

Pretty Awesome, right?!

So how do you win? It’s simple.

  1. Each prize will be up for grabs for a week.
  2. During that week, blog about our contest, our site or any of our posts on your blog with a link leading back to Once Upon A Crime (dot net, not dot com)
  3. Leave a comment on our blog (in our prize post) with the link to your blog post
  4. At the end of that week, we’ll pick a winner and post it on our blog. Easy peasy!

Let’s get this started. Whoo hoo!

The first prize up for grabs is a first 3-chapter crit by me. (That just means the first 3 chapters as opposed to 3 chapters in the middle of your ms.) While I prefer chick lit, women’s fiction, suspense, horror or mysteries, I’ll crit anything but historicals, please. :)

Now, just post about our contest, our site or anything about us that leads your readers back to our site and leave that link below in our comment section. I’ll pick a lucky winner next Monday, the 10th. I’ll consider any comments received by Monday morning or when I put up a new post.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Working with Multiple WIPs

My crit partner had an interesting post today: Sarah Bromley. Her blog question related to focus on projects. She discussed how she is a multitasker who goes with her gut. She enjoys working on a projects that draws her in and drives the writing process. If the project isn't moving forward she shifts to something else. (And I have actually witnessed this first hand.) =) But all in all it occurs for the better. I notice that when she hungry for a story she creates a work of art. As writers we move where the wind blows us.

I, on the other hand, tend to have multiple ideas, but I pick one and stick to it. I thirst for the finish line for that one project. If I get hung up, I take a brief break and wait for the Muse to stop riding around town with another author. (I think I'm the person she states that writes very fast. When the scenes come I let them go or I tend to forget them. Which drives me nuts... I want to be done. I need to be done. Because editing for me takes a little while.)

Either way, I think as a writer you need to find something that makes you want to write. That makes you want to finish a great story for others to read. (Or it could be a story for you as well.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Still Alive - Research and Writing

OK, in the post RWA Nationals haze I've forgotten to post. Quite easy actually.

Last night I did some research with authors Cole Gibsen and Sarah Bromley. We shot some guns! Woo hoo! And anyway it was all ahem, research. Yes indeed it was. In my new WIP my character is traumatized by a gunshot wound. So she remembers the gun and thus I needed to fire shot guns, hand guns, etc. All in the name of research. Yeah, I think I didn't sound convincing either.

Right now I am working on my new work in progress. I'm calling it Inner Vision for now. I think it may evolve into Dark Visions. But well I'm horrible at titles so it may change...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shelli Stevens - Take Me

I read the first couple of pages of this book on and loved it. I can't wait until it comes out. The words drew me in! I had a chance to meet her at RWA Nationals at the literacy signing and she is so nice!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Early Morning Writing

The pace of my writing for my second book has crept to a crawl. As to why, I'm not totally sure. Maybe I needed more of a break after the first one. Gone are the days of writing 2000 per day. At this point I feel proud to make it over a thousand. I've switched things up and that helps. Instead of writing at the kitchen table or in the living room I now write early in the morning when my kiddos are sleeping. The distractions are gone and I can focus on the text at hand.

My goal is to complete the book before RWA Nationals and I think I shouldn't have a problem.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Experiment - Dictating my Words

My word count lately has been quite low. I am switching things up a bit by dictating my words into Microsoft Word. I wonder if it will be faster or slower, but either way, the key is to be productive and make some progress on my WIP.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Mad Typist Challenge - 5000 Words

Well, it appears my application is approved. I don't feel any different though. :D

Perhaps my breakfast may be tastier now that I am PRO for RWA.

Well, I am going for it again. I was a few bucks short of 4000 words last time. I'm going for it again today. It would be nice to get a generous bump up in the word count of my book.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

PRO Application Gathering Dust

There are certain things I tend to procrastinate with. My PRO application for RWA is one of them. I am determined before this day is over to send that puppy out. The paper is filled out and the package is ready. I have a partial due to be mailed by Monday, but I see no reason why I can't mail it today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Balancing Day Job and Writing

As I continue to write I find it hard to pull myself away from my current work in progress to work on my day job. I've always told my friends that working on my writing is much more enjoyable than working on code. Creating a world with its respective characters is much more fulfilling than analyzing a coding project and setting it into motion. It's not as if I don't like web design or programming anymore, it's just that those things may not be where my true passion lies.

I think the main problem lies in that both activities involve long hours in front of the computer. After a while my eyes go loco and an eye strain headache attacks like a circling vulture.

I remember the days in college where I could sit for 10 plus hours in front of the computer and not blink. I used to play StarCraft for hours and hours. Those days are long gone. (And replaced by work, writing, and kids) Now I have to enforce breaks to make sure I can work productively throughout the day. There are various applications out there that track computer time. I may need to use them again.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

WisRWA Fab 5 Finalist in Paranormal

I learned on Tuesday I finaled in the Paranormal category for the Wisconsin RWA's Fab 5 contest. I have a great opportunity for THE PAINTED SPELLCASTER to be seen by Latoya Smith with Grand Central Publishing.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mad Typist Challenge - 5000 Words

I told myself I would complete 1000 words per day for my new WIP, THE MEMOIRS OF A WITCH MATCHMAKER. Over the past week or two I have taken a break from writing to work my primary job. Today is the day I catch up and knock out 5000 words. The most of done is 3000 so here goes nothing.

10:00 am | 1000 words
1:00 pm | 2500 words
10:00 pm | 3980 words

That's it! Operating system is shutting down. I almost made it!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Journey

I actually have two other blogs where I barely remember to post. Most of the time I am now writing/working on web projects/taking care of my family. It's a hard job.

My first novel, THE PAINTED SPELLCASTER, started in November and after a mad rush of writing and editing (eating was optional during the time) I completed it in January. I'm at the point now where the writing bug has bitten me, (I used to write when I was younger in middle school), and now I have no choice but to get the new story out.