Blowing Up Excuses

Journal of a Would-Be Novelist

This is the year I WILL get this project finished. I have worked on the craft of writing…read, wrote, learned, repeat, revamped, revised, despaired, repeat…. and I have a working game plan including self-talk, journaling, having measurable steps, etc.

Not sure if this is 100 percent good as it can be a diversion but I found Flip Board {please read dangerous}. I started a Writing and Inspiration Magazine by flipping interesting and educational articles on the subject of, yes you guessed it. Here’s the link:

If you are struggling (or flying) with a project–please by all means chime in the comment section. I’d love to see where you are in this year’s project. And as always, Happy Writing!


Update: waiting for feedback from beta readers and working on query letter. -May 10 2016
10-22-2015- Realizing there will be another draft – So here at almost 46 percent through this draft. Getting it tied together as neatly as possible with comments throughout draft for changes and you know what, this is okay, as long as I keep going. 


October 11, 2015 – Playing with the “Sand” – So I’ve heard that a first draft is creating the sand to put in the sandbox so you can build beautiful castles. I am firmly in the middle of this revision at 41 percent of my word count (let’s see if it doesn’t go over the wordcount) and busy centering into the POV character, what IS happening and what NEEDS to happen to forward the story. Do they jive? 

10/5/2015 KEEP PUSHING – I am revising in one of the spots that gave me a head-ache the first time I was plotting it. Only because several storylines are going on at the same time and its so easily snarled. It’s less unruly working it this time through. I’m glad I made myself sit and work because today my thoughts were “this is so hard.”    

 September 15, 2015 – Know Your Story – Well, it’s been awhile since I posted to the blog but I’ve been plugging away on the revisions to the completed first draft. At 16 percent… Anyway knowing your story is crucial to deepen and tighten and allowing your readers to follow along. Having fun as I coldly and meticulously revise!

July 5, 2015 – Untying the Uncertainty – It’s been a while since I have felt such a freezing into writer’s block. I’m at 83 percent of Act 3 and part of the problem is I’m not sure all that is happening but I have an idea where I need to go. Reading “Structure Versus Story” has made me want to embrace my organic storytelling more but it has been a stumbling block for me returning to the beginning again and again… So I was wavering should I return to an earlier time to get more of a feel where I’m going or keep plugging away to get wordcount. I tried to keep plugging away and it was fail, fail, fail… So into my notebook I went with shorthand notes where I was, what was happening, how my characters were feeling, what questions hadn’t been addressed yet, noting the places that needed to be worked on and with this the wall fell and I got over 1200 words in the manuscript in the space of an hour and a half. Best part I still have an open door to return …. This technique is a tried and true for me. 
6/19/2015 -Sometimes to Go Backwards is to go Forwards. – Looking at my three POV threads and dealing with an all familiar snarl so I sat down and worked very organically with what I knew was going on. It lead me to the now obvious what was missing and got me again passed the potential Writer’s Block that wanted to spring out. Got my word count in plus I have material in reserve for the next day or two.    
One of my posts didn’t publish

6/7/2015 Somethings Get Easier – Well, I’m happy to report that getting 500 words at a clip is getting easier. I have a few ideas brewing before I sit down to write and I just let loose. I like the processes I have with capturing character insights and notes for things that need to be considered and/or added foreshadowed. Almost at 3/5 way of Act III. And how’s this for math…[Act 1 – 25% + Act II – 50% + 3/5 of 1/4 = 90 percent.  

6/5/2015 – What am I missing? So I got my word count in and I’m a fat half done with Act III but I’m looking at what I have so I have a better idea what I’m missing. I’ve gone through to make sure I have all my “Index cards” filled out. Its a cool app that from what I’ve read is similar to some of what Scrivener offers. Deadline is up in a 46 days and I think I’ll make it. I’ll just have to decide how I’m deadlining the revisions.

6/2/2015 – Tipped Over half way on Act III. So another aprox. 19.5k words more and this draft is completed. I’m working on the minute details with the climax. There is a lot going on but it would easier to write if I know what exactly is going on when. It’s coming. Brainstorming and sifting until it feels “true.” I’ve learned sometimes backing away and proceeding from a different angle sometimes helps. Its a mixed bag of excitement and frustration, anticipation and fear….but it’s coming.



5/18/2015 – It really is Jiggly Jello! –  Working on the end and keeping a close eye on the through line. Had an A-HA moment today…and thankfully not too late (as in I figured it out before I wrote a pale substitute).  Playing ‘what-if’ and “crank up the heat” and it’s getting kind of clear some of the scenes need to be rearranged a bit. Got the word count in today and I am switching to pre-writing and more importantly right now…. time-lining the ending scenes so they 1) make sense 2) work and 3) provide a satisfying conclusion. 


 May 13, 2015 – The Wall – Spent a few days mulling….as nothing was gellin! Did pre-writing and broke through, so I have the rough “floorplan” of the several scenes as I work on Act III and now catching up on my word count. Still not behind but I want to regain more of the “slushroom.”



May 7, 2015  Routine.   It’s interesting to see that it’s writing time, I have a word count, I pick one of the scenes I need to write, don’t think about it to much except write some of the most pertinent questions to answer while I write and I just go. Though I have to admit I wonder how writing coherently happened before cut and paste. I layer a lot as I write. Write, hesitate…add the seed idea of what I’m going for and continue writing, ephipany happens, go back, replace placeholder seed with more meat and story…repeat and rinse.       



5/4/1015 – Just Keep Swimming…   Got over 1k words in today. Focused on one particular scene I’ve been working off and on for about two weeks and it’s fairly solid. Also did bits and pieces in both the latter half of Act II but most of it was in Act III…. There’s a bunch more to do but I’m still decent on the timeline to get this part of the project done. I am so looking forward when I can get to the “read with the notebook” and clean it up.  


April 29, 2015 Stop and Go – 

So here I am at the climax, unsnarling and figuring out all the wrap-ups. Exciting yes, but not at a place that it’s easy to just sit down and right hot. More like pre-write construct the parameters, reacquaint the action and write hot for a few paragraphs until I hit the wall, return to the pre-write/notes drawing board, follow another pre-write thread, and follow that down… write hot, layer a passage…note  what’s happening elsewhere, where are the intersections….[sigh]… it’s coming.  Facing hard question about character, particularly villain motives……. does it make sense or is it just convenient for me…etc.  I’m glad I have the electronic cards {like Scrivener but they don’t have that as an app yet} so I can keep my scenes and notes pretty organized.  Still on track with deadline to get to the end …. and then its  letting it sit for a week… then reading the whole thing with a notebook. 


 April 23,  2015  – Beginning To the End 

So its time to crank on Act III. I am still working on a few connectors for the middle but that work, while necessary, isn’t what’s going to count in the daily word count. Currently I need 369 a day in Act III. Exciting and a little overwhelming. So…here we go. 



April 14, 2015- Tisn’t enough – So I am 17 words from the 40k goal for Act 2B but it isn’t all done yet so I suppose what I need to do is figure out what absolutely needs to be in scene wise – write them rough …if need be … and start working on Act 3.  Currently I need just under 350 words per day to keep my deadline for this segment of the project but that’s Act 3 not the extra wc for this section that I am getting ready to move pass…for a bit. There are times it just seems like too much, too much! But all there is to it is breathe and write.  Nothing fancy or magical just breathe and write.



April 5, 2015  – Happy Easter!   Also hills and valleys. —- It is interesting to see the proccess. After having such an easy  writing time for a few days I hit bottom and it was a strugle to continue.  Shift gears and try to find ways around the big ugly wall. I worked on backstory, character interviews, what-if scenerios, rinse and repeat. I started digging more into the love interest’s MMM (Magic Mirror Moment) which was something I picked up from a  James Scott Bell book ( a way to write from the middle which is where I’m at). I have all  the “candy bar” moments…its just threading my way to them and feeling it ring true.  So I know i cannot add anything new at this point but work with what I have, look for connectors between the story threads, make things unfold naturally, watch the plot twists, know what’s changed to make the evlolution happen, stay true to the story’s spine aka throughline and the theme. And important “don’t worry if it’s not perfect…that’s what edits are for.”  Anyway, I have four rough partial scenes written this morning so I know I have my word count in plus have some to catch up with what I missed. I was significantly  cutting into my wriggle room. Let’s see if I can regain the buffer.  Anyway, currently I need a minimum of 374 words per day.   


March 26, 2015 – Magic.  It is such a great feeling when a scene flutters almost effortlessly through your fingers and you feel like you are inside the skin of your character.  Got to remember the fun for on the more challenging days.


March 24 – Chug, Chug, Chug.  I find that I have a pattern established — which is fantastic — I have time set for prewriting and then during scheduled writing time I am not hemming-hawing so much but more ‘plunge in and just write.’ I’m using my writing coping skills such as “it doesn’t have to be perfect…just get it down, I can perfect it as I go.  I have several scene ideas in jello-form from the story outline. I see the deadline moving closer but it seems quite achievable as long I keep doing what I’m doing. [combine both act word counts and I need minimum 368 per day, more of course, better, get ahead of the game with the next stage]



March 17 – Scrapes and Pieces.  Currently if I get 380 words daily I keep my word count for a July 21 deadline.  I’m personally trying to get at least 500 in a day which will have me done just under 3 months aand then I can use the surplus days for giving the first heavy edit for the second half of the book. Lesson boys and girls? Never go back to the safety of the beginning of the book before you get to the end because it keeps you tied within your nice comfort zone.. Sure have a means to keep change ideas but resist. RESIST going back. Anyway, I’m in unexplored lands and writing is hard so I ended up working on three diifferent scenes today, bouncing between them to make my word count and I can’t wait till I have another segment of quiet time (hopefully tonight) to look over what’s happening with my characters in theses scenes and get some prewriting down so tomorrow I can hit the ground running. 

March 16, 2015 – Here we go.  Getting closer … step by step. 

March 3, 2015 – Focus   I took a couple days off over the weekend to spend with some of my younger family members and this included taking them to one of the museums in Philly. But I’m working on catching back up with my word count. I’m still ahead of the game according to my July 22 deadline but I want to keep what I capturned so … I had a challenging time getting my wordcount in today.  I finally started doing the free association of what a character is feeling to get going and it was helpful because I have three places I need to work on. Wen’s ploy…Mathias’ quest and Aunia’s search.  I have some prewriting in for “blocking” per se. 

Snapshoot of Act 2B

Snapshot of Act 3

 February 26, 2015 – Fuel the Fire
So I started writing today in a frustrated with the world mentality and pulled up a scene where my protag is frustrated with the world and the scene flowed out of my fingertips. I found already being in the flow it wasn’t difficult to move to another scene and to keep working. I have another 2k added to the manuscript.  I also figure I need to do decide what exactly I want to accomplish in the scene I’m struggling with to see if they (it) are/is forwarding the story or if the internal and sometimes quiet story critic knows something I don’t.  Oh, the layers in the scene. 

 February 23 2015 – Hills and Valleys
I’m noticing a trend. Nice flow…everything gelling followed by total lack of inspiration  and staring at the screen.  I took yesterday off other than a little note taking. I started today with note taking. Revised a scene, followed by a journal exercise for POV love interest  and lo and behold inspiration. I also dug through some old outline notes. I have about five scenes I am working on. Most of them are in at least a rough rough incarnation and I’m locking down connectors so I have some stuff to work on and some other stuff I have a back burner on for information.   I’m looking to minimize the “I’m not sure what to work on next” blues.  Got my word count in. 

February 20, – 2A
Act 2a almost all done save the smoothing out. Next hammering 2B.

February 16, 2015 – Siri to the rescue
500 words added in the WIP today but I found out how wonderful Siri is while grabbing a shower and having a serious brainstorming session. Lean out, tap the iPhone for Siri, say “Add note” and start talking. I ended up solving a big part of one of the story questions I’ve had for months along with fleshing out several layers of the climax. I just finished putting all those notes in order and I feel like my head is spinning. I think I’m going to call it a night and start on it again tomorrow.

February 15, 2105 – Less snarl-age…yes!
WC for WIP is over 123,000. It feels good to have things flow again. Act 2A is becoming much less snarled and confusing. Yes! And ideas for gelling the gaps Act 2B and the climax are in the works. I’ve read if you keep showing up and writing then the muse will eventually show up too.







February 11, 2015 – ugh
I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. Yesterday I was feeling inspired and unstoppable. What I have done today: I have a few scenes I’ve pulled out to work on and I’ve got a little added to several before I felt like I’m slamming into the wall. Not enough on anything to really count it as real WC for my WIP.

I did revamp one scene and it reads so much better. But I figure I’ve worked for almost 2 hours today on this and I’m busy yawning. I just can’t seem to hold the story threads. They seem extra slippery tonight. I think I’ll pack it and think about going to bed a little earlier. Pick it back up tomorrow.

-On the upside, I did write a blog entry for the GLVWG conference blog and published it. 

 February 10, 2015
My word count is close to 117k. I bumped the wc for my wip from 120k to 160k so I have 40k in ACT 1, 2A, 2B and 3 respectively. (I have more than 100 percent in Act 1 and 2A) I got 800 words in today, close to 3k yesterday, 2.5k day before that so I’m getting there. Of course when everything is in I will have a lot of cutting to do but I figure until its all in … I am only guessing at what is superfluous for drawing the story forward.

I have been clinging to the adage “Finish what you start” but I find I’m getting excited about this project again. 

 February 3, 2015
1,000 more words in the manuscript…. I am at 40 percent for Act 2B. Act 1 and Act 2A are technically at 100 percent but there is tweak-age that needs to happen. It’s coming though….



January 26, 2015
I have most of Act 2A slid over into the word count however there are a few gaps from my third POV character. Regarding word count, I have 100 percent…of course, there is significant rewrites needed but the draft is there. As I progress I need to continually keep my throughline in sight so I stay on the path and not get lost in the middle of the “woods.” It’s exciting and scary and ….whew… here I go.

Here’s where I am:

Word count in the manuscript

Word count in the manuscript

Progress in Act 2A

Progress in Act 2A

Progress in Act 2B

Progress in Act 2B



January 18, 2015
Busy busy day. Got more of the conference blog done and all of last year’s conference interviews slid over to the new blog. One article for the Confed household written and sent and I slid two prev scenes over for word count. Tomorrow I HAVE to do new verbage on the manuscript, get 6 emails out and the questions for one interview done.

I’m at 58.9 percent now on the manuscript.


 January 17, 2015 – The heat is on
Swamped with extra work since I last posted. Created a new blog for the GLVWG “Write Stuff” conference because the six-year old one got hacked. That is sooo aggravating! Created a short blog post for it. Need to research for interviews for agents for said blog and have been researching for good questions. Mulling idea for article for Confed newsletter which I need to do tomorrow but I’ve also have been working on manuscript too. (Also had a near migraine so I took a long break today)

Near bedtime so I’m not posting the updated pics of progress but suffice to say I am at 52.55 percent at wc for entire manuscript and I have been sliding prev. wc for the first half of Act 2 (it’s at 11.74 percent). My one POV character thread is pretty chaotic here. I keep reminding myself to just get through. Then I know what I need to keep, get rid of and enhance.

January 15, 2014 – Draft ACT 1 all counted!
I didn’t get a lot of new words in the manuscript today but I did get a bit of pre-writing in, got a blog entry posted, slid two previous scenes making all of ACT 1 now counted. I also started researching for some agent interviews that I will be doing for the GLVWG “Write Stuff” conference.

Here’s where I am:

Current manuscript word count

Current manuscript word count

Act 1 word count

Act 1 word count

January 14, 2014 – Stop and Stare
One article I recently read was about how one writer produced a workable draft in four months by taking his writing in hour chunks. He said he would either be typing or staring at the screen for ONE hour before he would take a break. He, unlike what I’m doing, did it three sessions in the morning and three in the afternoon.

I take an hour chunk right after work, walk over the library and write until Andy is done with work, then I do a little more after the second grader is in bed. So, anyway, I pulled up my problematic scene…revised the last few paragaraphs I had worked on yesterday and stared at the screen for awhile.

I am happy to report I did NOT yield to the temptation to pull up FaceBook or check email or any other distractions but sat there staring at the screen.  You know, slowly the words started coming again. Hallelujah! I did a quick Goal-Obstacle-Situation (GOS) and emotional temp for my POV character along with a quick GOS and emotional temp for the secondaries and more words came. Hey, writers write. 🙂

Same as yesterday I ended up cleaning up extra verbage.

Then after supper I jumped back on the writing and slid a previous scene Act 1 scene over. I AM over the 40k words for Act 1 but I already know that when I get back to revisions on Act 1 there quite a bit that will clipped.

Here is where I am now:

word count for manuscript

word count for manuscript

word count for Act 1

word count for Act 1

January 13, 2015 – Just Pound the Keys
I read somewhere that if you keep showing up for writing and even if you pound on the keys “the cat is bad” over and over or something equally horrific eventually the muse will get the hint you’re serious and will show up. My thoughts? Be nice.  Here’s to hoping. So…I pull up the scene I’m currently working on during my scheduled writing time. It’s the scene that’s giving me fits. I’m looking at and it feels like I’m facing an immovable wall.  I decide..’ok, I’ll just tweak this paragraph’ and then..’ok I’ll just write whatever, it’ll probably suck but let’s see what happens.’ Guess what? Yes!  Lo and behold the door opens and behind it is my muse. She’s a bit stuffy and proper but she takes my hand anyway and I’m busy plugging away…you know that feeling being in the flow… I get the alarm (aka..the phone call ‘hey I’m on my way to get you’) and it startled me.

I did weed out some early verbage and I slid over an earlier scene which is earmarked for considerable revisions but I want to get to that after I get to the end of this draft.

Here is where I am currently.

Word Count for Manuscript

Word Count for Manuscript

progress on Act 1

progress on Act 1

January 12, 2015 – There’s Many Ways to Get to Sweden but is Sweden where you want to go?

I spent several hours shoring up storylines, sprinkling through scenes, getting a good feel for one thread but it seems for every question I answer three more questions rear their heads. Talk about being face-to-face with the overwhelming beast.  Yes, I know I sometimes go in too deep and it bogs me down. And yes, I have no issue making life difficult for my character but jeez,,, Sometimes I can’t see the solutions. They ARE no where in sight — which means I’m looking to where I need them to go and try to thread through.  And the reminder…keep the ending in sight. Misdirection is fine but eventually all the cards need to be on the table.

So on this Parliament scene…intrigue, romance, intrigue, politics…  I’m letting my current scene mull as I boil down all the essentials, see if it makes sense but I’ve also pulled the earlier draft and notes for another scene so I can bounce to it when the first one is exhausting me.  It’s getting closer…

So I’ve written maybe 700 words or more. It’s in snippets but I’ve put the verbage in the appropriate index cards so I can work without going “Arrggh where is it?”   I also slid two previous scenes over.

Anyway….Here is the latest:


Word count for the story


Word count for First Act

January 11, 2015 – A Villian’s Perspective.

Still waiting for the flu to go away. I spent the day unsnarling an antagonist’s timeline, made a lot of notes, got good backstory to sprinkle in and spent time bouncing ideas with of a military strategic nature with Andy. I enjoyed spending time in the other world creating. It was necessary. And tomorrow I’ll be getting back to daily wc.

 January 10, 2015 – Unsnarl it OR chop it out

I’m feeling a little better today. Just really tired {seems  weird with all the sleep I’ve been getting} I think I can actually enjoy a cup of coffee for the first time in days.  I will be missing Kingdom 12th Night which would have been a beautiful pagentry of medieval fineness….garb, food, schtick…  I did get a few low impact domestic choirs done (run the dishwasher, load the washer) and next after this update is going to be some serious writing time.

I figured out an individualized knot which needs untangled as it runs through all the POV characters arcs if it’s leveraged properly OR I need to decide to get rid of it.  And I don’t think ‘get rid of it’ is the right answer for this one so it’s plow ahead (which includes wriggling into an antagonist’s skin), get my wc in and slide a few scenes over.


January 9, 2015 – Can prompt this

Yes, it’s the flu. Four naps later and feeling miserable I did get some pre-writing in. I think sometimes I miss the internal movie that just plays and I take notes but this method while wonderful doesn’t always work. {difference between a hobbyist and a writer – a writer writes no matter what}. I need think I’ll notebook 10 minutes after coming up with my top 3 prompts. That should get me in a good place tomorrow to pick up. And I can slide at least one previous scene over. Here’s where things are looking so far:



January 8, 2015  – Get with the Beat

Well, the day before yesterday I did get my goal plan reached Unfortunately, yesterday I came down with the flu. I hate being sick. Not that anybody really enjoys it… Or at least I don’t think they do.  So yesterday was a bad day. I’m still sick today but after sleeping the entire morning away I’m starting to feel a little bit human.

So, action plan today along with musings…
I think I found the problem with the scene I am currently working on and I am going to use a music metaphor. {musings}
—- A story and it’s beat really is like listening to music. A story’s beat can make it enticing or not. I think my internal story teller was cringing at the choppy measure. Staccato is fine, a pause is fine, but utter chaos (without reason) … there has to be a beat and a flow.

So new wc on scene I’m working on (438) and slid one or two scenes over.


anuary 6, 2015 – Just Keep Swimmin’

Last few days have been the blissful…’I’m excited to have a game plan” phase but today I’ve had to force myself to the keypad. I’m tired — didn’t sleep well last night and the creative juices feel fairly dry, however this is what I’m going to do minimally:

– I have near 1/2 new wc daily goal in so I WILL flesh out more what’s happening/what I want to accomplish in the scene I’m working on to get a better day to tomorrow. {I’ve noticed this part generally flows better when I use regular ole pen and paper. }

– Slide over another scene or two previously written to the rest of today’s wc in. I AM NOT going to revise Act 1 again UNTIL I get to the end. Period.

I did also start wc for Act 1. I figure wc for this segment should be 40k or that’s what I’m starting with.

This is where I currently am:



Jan 5, 2015 – How Many Bricks?
Well, I lost yesterday’s journal [need to hit the ‘update’ button] but at least it wasn’t the manuscript. Made yesterday’s and the day before’s wc by using prev. wc. I had a Winter Gather to go to and running the event. Wish there had been a better opportunity to fence.

I need to break down how many words per act so structurally I’m looking at where I should be in addition to pure content. Today’s wc IS new and with some prev mixed because I’m revamping this scene.

I am taking the advice of leaving something to write about when exiting the scene and I have the “overhearing” and then “enter one of the bad guys” subplots coming up…. plus I can go backwards to redo the “Practice Yard” scene.

BTW – I revamped the deadline from 300 to 200 days. I may end up revamping it again. Here’s a snapshoot for now.


Jan 3, 2015 – Who’s Snarl is this Anyway?

{Start with rant/self-talk} Focus. Make it worse for the protag {variety of craft tips}. Focus.

Problem? I’ve got a snarled plot ball. I’ve been bogged down with the “Do I need this thread? Where does it lead? AAaaargh….Do I need this thread?”

Basically, starting a series as a first book… energetic, huge undertaking…and a HUGE what was I thinking? These threads do  interconnect… but the problem is I don’t see all the ends and I get lost at times in my book bible.

Anyway, I have been working with an index card app which is helping and I JUST pulled a wordcounter app which gives gold stars when you make your daily goal. I don’t know why gold stars motivate me like they do…maybe it’s a leftover from grade school, who knows.  I have deadline set for Oct 29, 2015 and it says I have to do 375 words a day to attain it… of course, there’s word count in what I’ve already have but I’ll slide it in as I work. Enjoying the process so far and been productive… so this has ended up being a good day. Let’s see how it goes.

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