Thursday, February 28, 2013


Pessimism ALERT!
I sometimes find it difficult not to become bogged down with my own feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. The moment I began writing LitD, I said to myself, "This is for me, and if nothing comes of it, well, that's okay too.  It will be a great journey."  That is still true, but now that I've completed my first draft and am very slowly crawling through a meticulous edit of my manuscript, I sometimes feel discouraged.

Writing LitD has been a rather manic experience.  There are times when I have the utmost confidence in what I write and other times where I can't help but second guess myself.  There are times when I am confident there is a market for my novel and other times when I doubt the market can hold any more dystopian YA fiction.  I don't want my novel to be just another book with fangs (like what happened after the Twilight craze).

After reading a very expressive post from the Crowe's Nest, I think I've come to a conclusion about part of what causes my mania.  I knew I was doing it, but I didn't fully acknowledge it.

I compare myself too much to other successful writers.  Fact:  I sit with copies of my well-loved novels next to me when I write.  They are a constant reminder of what I am not.  They are a constant reminder of what I long to become, of what I will become.

Long term goals:
A.) To become a successful writer.
B.) To become published.

Short term goal:
A.) To get through the second draft.

So what I am currently doing to achieve my goals?
I'm working to put together a panel of students who will read my manuscript and offer me feedback.  It will be a wonderful (albeit scary) experience to hear from my target audience.  Thank you, already, for those of you who have volunteered.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Setting and the Society

A century ago, a series of explosions in the Industrial Center plummeted the surrounding towns and cities into darkness.  Chemicals were released into the atmosphere and mass deaths were reported.  Out of the havoc, a new government was formed.  The Society's sole goal was to regulate the people in an attempt to prevent another series of explosions of such magnitude and devastation.  One hundred years later, the Society has succeeded.  Crime is abolished.  Sickness is rare.  There is no hunger, no poverty, no disease.  The industry, education, and individuality of the people are strictly monitored, and order is preserved.  The people are uniformed.  Ordinances and curfews are maintained.

Such is the world in which Celia lives.

In the beginning of the novel, Celia returns to school just in time for the students to give the Word of Honor.  I knew that the Society would require students to pledge themselves to its service.  After the Explosion, the Society certainly wouldn't want to do away with such formal traditions as the Pledge of Allegiance.  They would want to taper it, though.  They would want to form it to suit their own needs.  Our own Pledge is far too nice and leaves too much room for individuality for the Society.  I wanted to make the Word of Honor as realistic as I possibly could, but it also needed to reflect the type of government they established.

Therefore, I decided to do a little research.  I thought that other countries' pledges would inspire me to write something creative but realistic.  Using my trusty internet browser, I searched for other countries' pledges.  I was amazed when the only thing I could discover was from the Philippines.  Many countries have an oath people who want to become citizens must take, but as far as an every-day-before-school-we-recite-this?  I couldn't find anything.  That was my history lesson for the day.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Writing Celia

LitD began as a vivid dream I had when I was very, albeit temporarily, sick.  Some of my own situation bled into the dream, which was where the initial ideas of the Society and (especially) the Woods occured.  I don't want to give the impression that LitD is  based on my dream; only that my dream was the inspiration for it.  If I had simply recorded my dream, LitD wouldn't be complete unless I included the iridescent truffle-smelling pigs.  I hate to disappoint, but there are no glow-in-the-dark neon swine in LitD.  Sorry.  Yeah, I'm a little disappointed about that, too.

Last night was the first time I revisited Chapter One after writing it in December.  LitD began as an idea, without character or depth, just a driving force.  When I started writing, I needed to develop Celia before I could propel her into this world I created.  Having completed my first draft of LitD, I now know exactly who Celia is.  She's no longer a vessel for the plot but her own person.  And that's good, because when I read for pleasure, I read for characters.  Don't get me wrong; I love a good plot (and LitD has one, even if I do say so myself).  But a good character - that's a beautiful thing!  This is why Jane Eyre is so fascinating.  Let's face it, the second third of Bronte's novel isn't exactly riveting but it's all Jane.  Tess?  Despite everything he does to push her over the edge, Hardy must be in love with her.  I loved Tess of the D'Urbervilles because of Tess.  I needed to love Celia, too.  

She grew on me as I wrote her and deleted her and wrote her and deleted her...again.  The fact that Celia took Art I as a senior in high school because she couldn't fit more core academics into her schedule?  Delete.  It's not important.  I mean, it is, because it's who Celia is and it's part of her past, but it's not because in the grand scheme of things, no one cares.  Twenty years down the road will anyone care if you took Art I in high school?  Probably not. (Just for the record, I admire the arts and all things art.)

So this was how I wrote Celia.  Because LitD started with a dream, I had merely vague impressions of who Celia would be.  I knew what needed to happen to her and  I knew what I wanted her to be, but I didn't know who she would be.  The very rough draft of my first chapter was more a list of all things Celia than an actual story.  It was *not* something that would impress agents or readers.  I stripped 3,000 words describing Celia from my first chapter.  3,000 words.  That's a lot of Celia.

Now, without me telling you boring details of how she lost her first kitten (that wasn't in there, by the way), the first chapter will allow Celia to stand out in her own right, as her own person.  I don't have to tell you about Celia's past and preferences.  She'll tell you herself.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Drum roll please!

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to present you with the moment I've been waiting for.

The first draft of LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS is complete!

Now before I upload any pictures of me doing my happy dance, dressed in my pjs as I am, I want to first express how completely satisfying it is to finish something.  Let me take that back.  LitD is not finished, only the first draft is.  But let's face it.  That's exciting!  That's confetti cannon exciting!  I'm excited!  Can you tell I'm excited?  I'm so excited that I'm overusing the word excited and actually using excitedmation points!!!!  (I know that's not a word.)

So, at this point, I'm at 86,400 words.  I have 71 files marking the progression of my manuscript saved on my computer and uploaded to the cloud.  There's a lot of editing I will do before I even consider submitting it for publication.  I can already think of two discrepancies in the plot, and I'm too excited  right now to go back and fix them.

Until tomorrow....HAPPY DANCE!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Excitement vs Fear -- Round 1

Excitement versus Fear -- Round One!
In a battle of epic proportions, who will win? or something something cliche blah blah blah

I read somewhere that without publication, writing for yourself is just that--writing for yourself.  When I write for myself, it doesn't matter if I fail.  No one will know.  Hell, I don't even need to know.  I can lull myself to thinking I'm perfect, and I can go on ahead in my little bubble believing I'm a superstar.  I rock my own world.

Soon--not today, but soon--I will have to finally face my fears and insecurities.  I will reach that point when I must allow others to read my manuscript.  Now, at 84,000 words, the end of the first draft of LitD is near.  (Very near.  As in only-two-or-three-thousand-words-more near.)

Part of me is very excited to turn back to page one.  Part of me is very scared to turn back to page one.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Computers and showers

I've decided I need a computer in the shower.

My daughter is not yet two, and like all children and cats, she is insanely jealous anytime I try to do anything that doesn't directly involve her.  That little girl must be stuck to her mamma's hip at all times.  So, when she was playing quietly by herself today, I decided that I might sneak in some writing.  With the stealth of a ninja, I turned on my trusty laptop and opened "Celia Mayflower.docx."  Two seconds later, Hazel was clinging to my shirt, whining "lap! lap!"  She took my laptop's place on my  (sorry, I couldn't resist.)  Five minutes later, she determined she could play by herself.  When the laptop came out again, she returned (along with our kitten).  Laptop closed.  Lap free.  Laptop open.  Cat and kid.  Needless to say, Celia didn't discover what was in the subbasement of the industrial building until nap time.

In the evening, when I decided to take my shower, my daughter, faithful as ever, just *had* to be in the bathroom with me.  She played with her duckies on the tub while I washed.  It was the first baby-free time all day where she wasn't attached to me when I tried to do something.  Now, if I can somehow manage to bring my laptop into the shower with me, I may be all set.

Monday, February 18, 2013


When I was little, my father owned a book of diseases.  I don't know why he had it, especially since it would not help him with the farm.  It contained no advice on caring for sick goats or ridding the land of jimsonweed.  The dark black and white pictures were grotesquely fascinating.

Cliches are my anthrax.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Least Favorite Things

One of my least favorite things about writing is being too tired to write.

I have little fondness for history.  My husband, whose degrees are both in history, understands this.  From time to time, he'll manage to offer me some excitement for a particular piece about which he is passionate, but that doesn't happen often.  Usually, I use him as more of a walking encyclopedia.  When miscellaneous questions cross my mind, I ask him about them.  He's generally pretty tolerant of my "What's the difference between socialism and communism?" and "Why did the Twenties roar?" questions.

This morning, when I couldn't sleep and had been lying in bed for quite some time, I asked him what the government would do if someone kidnapped the president.  He's not generally what one would call a 'morning person,' but start him off with a history question and that's better than caffeine   As far as he knows, such a precedent has not before been set.  He explained how events of that nature would probably occur internally, instead of one country actually abducting another's leader.  I was not content.  "What would be a country's motive for kidnapping someone's president?  They wouldn't do it just for resources, would they?"   He humored me and my questions with the patience only a teacher can muster.  He hasn't read a word of LitD, but he knew why I asked my questions.  Smart man.

All day long, as I busied myself with turning my husband's office into more of a bedroom for our toddler (For the past year, she has shared her room with him.  Now, as she's nearly two, and I've already caught her trying to crawl out of her crib, I've determined it will only be a matter of time before she manages it.  Then, my husband's computer will no longer be safe from her prying fingers.), I passed the idea through my head.  I needed to make this work.  Finally, I think I have it.  Now, I'm too exhausted to make much of it.

If anything, tonight will be akin to many of my most recent nights.  I will sleep soundly until 3 am, then wake up to too many ideas.  Well, here's to 3 am writing!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Couple Thoughts

Thought #1
The most recent lines in LitD I enjoy are:

"He thought for a moment you were going to kill him."
"I thought for a moment I might."

Thought #2
LitD has taught me at least one thing about myself.  You decide what that thing is.

As in many stories, there is a love interest.  When I reached the point where the two characters finally kiss, I found myself unreasonably uncomfortable and voyeuristic.  I wanted to yell at myself, "Seriously?!  These are fictional characters! They don't get privacy."  But here I am feeling as if I'm watching something I shouldn't be.  It's no wonder why, when I see couples making out in the hallway at school, I look the other way and quicken my pace.  I am not one of those teachers who interrupts them.  I'm far too embarrassed.

Update -- February 18, 2013
I just discovered how easy it is for me to write about the handling of firearms.  How strange it is that I cannot write about intimacy, but when it comes to writing about loading and shooting a gun I'm all over it.


So here we go...

In the end of December 2012, I was very sick with something that may or may not have been the flu.  The doctor said it was 'viral,' which probably meant, 'I have no clue what's wrong.'  It hurt terribly to do simple things, such as move my eyeballs.  I don't exaggerate.  After taking nearly a week off from work (unheard of) and spending six days in bed, I had a dream.  Shortly after Christmas, I described the dream to my youngest sister.  She simply told me, "That would make a good book."  And so, LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS was born.

The novel became my New Year's Resolution.  I said to myself, "I will write you because you are creative, and you are fun, and you are not mathematics."  One thing you should know about me is that I love mathematics, both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees are in mathematics, and I teach high school mathematics.  However, my Bachelor's in also in English, a major that has sorely been overlooked since May, 2006 when I graduated.  I also said to myself, "You haven't done an ounce of anything for yourself since your daughter was born, and it wouldn't kill you to do something for yourself once in a while."  So every night I made myself work on LitD, even if I was too tired to do much other than change a word or punctuation mark.  I started to set myself little goals such as, "100 words tonight" or "jot down that idea."  These little goals turned into, "62,000 words by Sunday" and now "finish first draft by mid-March."  Now, I have 69,003 words written, and I anticipate that I will finish it by mid-March, if only because I set that as my goal.

LitD has turned into an obsession.  I don't mean one of those unhealthy, stalker kind of obsessions.  I mean the kind of obsession where I think about it while I'm showering, driving to work, cooking dinner, and sleeping.  I even have to rewind my audiobooks during my commute to work because I space out and forget to listen to them.  Okay, maybe it's a little like a stalker.  But I'm happy, and my dishes still get cleaned, and I make lunch for my husband every night,  read to my daughter every day, and still manage rocking lesson plans (statistics is very fun to teach, by the way) 80% of the time.

A week ago, I discovered that the completion of my novel might actually happen.  I mean, I might actually finish it.  Wow.  The idea hit me hard.  I have now begun some research into what I need to do to make publishing it happen.  Hence, this blog was born.  I read something somewhere about how I need a platform, and while I have no clue how to create one, how to manage one, or any of that stuff, this is what I'll do.  There is nothing like jumping into something feet first.