October 31, 2011


Now that we're back home and things can settle down, I've found I really missed writing every day. And since I've been feverishly sewing Halloween costumes this morning, I haven't been able to really get back into it yet. But since my 19-month-old is down for a nap, I'll have a little while to get some kind of writing done (fingers crossed), so a blog post it is.

And with that intro, I'll tell you how I write with two kids at home: I don't write nearly as much as I'd like (big surprise). But that's because being a mother comes first. Always. Being a mother is the best, hardest, most exhausting, most rewarding, most aggravating, most love-filled job in the world. There are times I want to pull my hair out, lock myself in my room, and just be alone for an hour. But that's just not going to happen, especially since my four-year-old stopped napping quite a bit ago. So while my little one is napping, I've been trying to teach my oldest that that time is sacred. It's my writing time.

Then I go into frantic fingers mode. I try to get as much done as I can during those precious moments. And bless my oldest, she generally does a pretty good job playing by herself during that time. But sometimes she won't be put off, and so we have fun together. I figure writing can wait until later because being a mommy is the most important thing I can be doing right now.

So I take whatever snippets of writing time I can get. I focus on nap time especially, but I'll squeeze in a minute here and there while my girls are playing nicely together (and wish my hardest that it doesn't end in a fight). It's not ideal. I'd love an entire day away where I can do nothing but write. But I wouldn't trade being their mother for anything.

And I know it's worth it when my four-year-old says, "I want to be a mommy just like you."

October 21, 2011

Emotional Truth

One of the things I learned in my English classes at BYU that's really stuck with me is about emotional truth. Stories are just that: stories, and their name implies fiction. But if you fill stories with emotional truth, those things we all feel because we're human and we live in real life, then stories will feel true, even if they're about dragons or dystopian societies, and we will be able to relate to them.

Writing is my escape from real life, my creative outlet to stay sane and stave off the mommy-brain-rot. I thrive when I dream up new places and new plots. But real life hit us hard this week when we learned my husband's dear father passed away.

I'm sad. Sad for my husband who won't get to hug his father again, and sad for my mother-in-law, and sad for my two girls who won't get to know their grandpa better, and sad I won't get to see this man that always had a smile and a kind word for me. Right now I'm just trying to take care of the hearts of the people I've been entrusted with. I know we will all see him again, after our turn in this wonderful life is done, but until then, it hurts and it feels too enormous to bear.

I've lost people I've loved before, but after the ache eases and lets go just a little bit, every day is easier to fall back into and resume those patterns that define our lives. It's not that we've forgotten the pain of loss, but a new sorrow is always a shock. I never want to forget that feeling, so I can appreciate life just a little bit more. We can't know how happy we've been until we know how sad we can feel.

That's as emotionally true as it gets.

October 14, 2011

Writing the First Draft

Several people have asked me how I write a first draft. And so in honor of finishing the first draft of my new project, I shall tell you all. Don't get too excited though, it's not a magical formula. It has changed a bit every time I've embarked on a new novel. I think every story is different, and so needs to be treated differently.

While writing my first novel (you know, the horrible one no one has read, the one no one will ever read, the one I think I've lost thank goodness), I used an outline. And I clung to that outline for dear life. It was my life line while writing that novel, and I can definitely say the story suffered because of it. There was no creative give or take. It was the outline or nothing.

From that experience, I decided to write Dragon Sister without an outline. I knew what the beginning was, what the ending was, and then the middle was a nebulous haze that I solidified as I wrote. It was refreshing and fun to write it that way, just the words spilling out as fast as my fingers could go. But it did require quite a bit of reworking...okay, a lot of reworking...to get the flow of the story where it needed to be.

Then onto The Burn. That novel was interesting to write because I had an outline created for me. Since it's inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's A Little Mermaid, the main plot points are there: Terra comes from the bottom of the ocean, she goes up on land, she falls in love, etc. (I don't want to put too many spoilers since it's still such a new book, but if you're familiar with the original fairytale, you'll know those plot points, and the ick factor involved in a couple of them) And so I had that basic skeleton for the story, and I added the flesh to it. But the final version is very different from that initial draft. The initial draft was boring. But I think the process of rewriting should be its own post.

And now my new project. I liked the way The Burn came together with having the main plot points and then rounding out the story. So that's what I did with my current novel, and it's been a lot of fun working with it that way, tweaking the basic outline along the way. It was a good way to get the story arc put together and not meander in the middle.

And that's how I've done a first draft. Like I said, no magic formula. I've changed it up for every novel. For me, the most important part of a first draft is to get the words out. All the perfectionism and beautiful language and story tweaking can come later. And you know what? It's been a blast every single time.

October 05, 2011

Something to Be Proud Of

I write clean reads, and I'm not apologetic about it. It's one of the reasons I decided to be an indie author. I wanted absolute control over that aspect of my writing.

As my small collection of novels grows on my shelf, I love knowing that my girls can look at the covers, and as they learn how much fun this reading thing is, that they'll be able to read them some day, and I won't worry about it. There's nothing in there I'm afraid for them to read.

There are so many books on the market today that just aren't appropriate for kids to be reading. It's a miniscule ripple in a great big pond I'm making, but at least the option is out there for kids or parents who are looking for books that don't have profanity and don't have sexual references. Because really, does that stuff need to be in there? I don't think so.