Tag Archives: Alexandra Sokoloff

Where Is This Story Going?

I am struggling with my outline. To be honest I can’t even say I’ve made it to the outlining stage. I keep trying to come up with plausible plot points and when I think I’ve got it, something jumps out at me that doesn’t make sense. I hope to be able to start actually writing my first draft this week.

So far, I have my major character profiles completed and I am very close to having the plot points where I want them. I need them as guideposts to finish outlining the story. If I could nail the plot points I think I have enough scenes for the first act so plan to start writing and plotting the final acts as I go.

I worked on it most of the day today and think I am so close. Just a little more and it will be there. How do you start out your stories? Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? Do you know your characters or discover them as you go?

The other issue I constantly deal with is using my time wisely. I realized that I had to change something to make time to write. Getting home late wasn’t working. By the end of the day, I didn’t have enough energy to think about writing and too often found myself vegging out on the sofa after supper until time for bed. So I have committed to going to bed earlier and getting up at 5:00 to write. It gives me an hour and a half to myself before I have to start the day and I think I like it. The time change was a little difficult but I set my clocks back and went to bed early anyway. I will get this figured out so that by my next post I can start reporting word count for the first draft. It will happen.
What have I been reading? Alexandra Sokoloff‘s ‘Unseen’. And I’m liking it. So far it is a great ghost story. It has a good amount of creepy factor that and characters I care about .Love the premise. It kind of makes me think if Shirley Jackson’s stories. If you like a good ghost story, I highly recommend this one.

How is my weight loss going? Slowly but steadily in the right direction. So far 8 lbs. I have been wanting to snack a little more than I should and I didn’t work out much last week but I did buy a new Zumba CD for my Wii. Will be adding that to my routine this week.



Posted by on March 11, 2012 in Writing a Novel


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Baby Steps…

I find that as I get older it takes me longer to do things, with work and my other activities it cuts into my actual writing time. Because of some health concerns, I have had to look at losing weight and getting more fit. I have made getting fit a priority whether I wanted to or not. I am working on finding a balance between fitness and writing that will enable me to succeed at both. I have learned to say no to some foods and I am learning to say no to things that are keeping me from my writing goals.

Here are some of the things I do that feed my desire to write:

  • I belong to a couple different writers’ groups and have for a while. I think meeting regularly with writers gives me the outlet I need to want to continue. I watch their success and it feeds my desire to succeed. Two of our members, who write as a team, had their first book published, ‘Desperate Housedogs’. It is the first of four that they sold and the second will be coming out some time soon. It is titled ‘Get Fluffy’. You need to check them out.
  • I am critiquing with another member of IRN and that has helped feed my desire to write. My critique partner Kelly writes so well, it truly is a pleasure to read her stuff. The story I am currently reading has been chosen as a finalist in a writing contest from an RWA chapter in Texas. I am looking forward to seeing her win.
  • The one thing I am doing as part of Iowa Romance Authors is a weekly post to the members to motivate and encourage. It is just a small piece and doesn’t take long. I do well with deadlines so this is a good fit. I know they expect it from me and I hate disappointing people. Now if I could only get that attitude with my own writing.
  • I have a 40 minute commute daily for work and have been listening to the Craft CD’s from RWA as I drive. If you have ever been thinking about joining the organization, these alone are worth it.  This week I listened to Suzanne Brockman and Lee Child do a workshop. They discussed how to draw both male and female readers. Sounded like Lee had a good time with the mostly female audience, he had some great ideas. It was really entertaining. Another one was with Alexandra Sokoloff. She is a Hollywood screenwriter turned novelist. She had some great suggestions for the planning process.

A few things I have given up:

  • Last year I served on the Iowa Romance Novelist’s board as Treasurer and Secretary of the local Sister’s in Crime chapter. Granted it wasn’t real time consuming but it was two more items on my ever growing to do list. I decided to step back from board activities this year to focus more on my own work.
  • I use rewards for my weight loss. When I reach 5, 10, 15, 20 pounds lost, I plan to reward myself. I am doing the same thing with writing. Television is a reward. I will not watch garbage just to avoid writing. I am not a saint; there are some shows I really love. Have not become a fan of Downton Abbey yet but I might down the road. There are so many bad shows on television I have turned to Netflix. I order the DVD’s and then I can watch exactly what I want to watch, when I want to watch it. That is the trick. That little DVD can sit there forever until I’ve written what I need to write for the day. Then I can reward myself with an episode of ‘Supernatural’, ‘Haven’, or whatever older series I’m currently trying to catch up on.
  • Books – I confess, I am a bibliophile, I love books. I use them as rewards for both weight loss and writing. I save buying them until I have earned them.

I admit I get discouraged because I wish I had longer periods of time to sit down and actually write but in reality I don’t. I have to learn to be happy with the 10-20 minutes at a time I get most days and just push forward instead of thinking it’s not worth the effort. Anything in the right direction should be worth it.

Writing is more than sitting down typing words. Even when I am not actually writing, I am usually thinking about the story as I go about my everyday business. That can pull me into the story when I do find the time.

I have continued to work out the details of my story and characters and though it’s not exactly the story I thought it was with the first scene that came to me, I think it’s a better story for having taken the time to let everything percolate. It’s like digging for stuff in the sand at the beach, most of the time you will get someone else’s smashed pop can or cigarette butt but occasionally you find a sea shell or a sand dollar, or if you’re lucky the diamond ring someone lost 50 years ago. I think I’ve let it stew long enough. This is the week that I will get back to my novel. I just have to have guts enough to write a crappy first draft to get it done.

I keep working toward my weight loss goals and feel I’ve met with some success. My goal is 1.5 lbs. a week. So far I am down 6 in 4 weeks. They may be baby steps but they are in the right direction. I will use that attitude toward my writing goal.  Baby steps can get me to The End.

What keeps you motivated to write when you can’t sit down for long periods of time each day?



Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Writing a Novel


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Gathering My Books for Winter

I feel like one of those little squirrels you see this time of year, hopping all over the yard gathering nuts, cheeks puffed out, storing them away for winter. I haven’t been gathering nuts but I have been picking up books for the snowy Iowa winter ahead.

We have an annual community book sale in my area that is so huge, they hold it at our state fairgrounds. Writer friends have driven to Des Moines from Omaha to check it out. It starts on Friday evening and runs through Monday. It used to run for two weekends in a row but the past few years they cut back to one and added Monday. The first night there is an entrance fee but for the remainder of the time, it’s free.

I happened to have both Saturday and Sunday off this week. Saturday I skimmed the long rows of novels and mysteries and felt pretty good when I walked out with – ‘In the Tenth House, by Laura Deitz – a Tarot mystery, ‘The Unseen’ by Alexandra Sokoloff, and ‘The Novelist’ by Angela Hunt. I read Tarot so was intrigued by that. I have always wanted to read Alexandra Sokoloff and was pulled in by ‘The Novelist’ because it was about writers. I spent $19.00.

I thought I was done until this morning I was playing around on the computer and joined a few groups on yahoo. One was a readers group that reads women mystery authors. They sent the reading list for the rest of this year. For October they are reading ‘ Episode of the Wandering Knife’ by Mary Roberts Rinehart, November – ‘An Expert in Murder’ by Nicole Upson and for December – ‘Beautiful Lies’ by Lisa Unger. Because they were not books I chose to read, I decided to check out the library first. The only book they had was Lisa Unger’s.


So I trekked on back to the book sale at the fairgrounds and started searching the tables of books again. Didn’t find any of the three I needed but I did find four more books I had to have. ‘The Witch of Blackbird Pond’ by Elizabeth George Speare, ‘Writers of the Purple Sage’ by Barbara Burnett Smith, ‘Murder on the Ghost Walk’ by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter, and ‘All Hallows Evil’ by Valerie Wolzien. In case you couldn’t tell, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and yes I do dress up, when I get a chance. For those four books, I spent $3.75. Sunday is half price. Monday they knock it down to 75% off but alas, they will be closing about the time I get off from work. If any of my local friends have any of the books from my reading list and wouldn’t mind loaning them, please let me know. I plan to check 1/2 Price Books on Tuesday.

What are your reading habits? Just curious.



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