Monday, November 30, 2009

Get over to Angela's The Bookshelf Muse now! Contest ends tomorrow. :)

Make me worry. Ramp up the tension.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful, family filled Thanksgiving. With a lot of pie too. *Robyn rubs her tummy*

As I work on my new WIP, I am thinking about tension. Or specifically, how to RAMP it up and make the reader worry about the MC. If there is no tension, you have a lackluster, dreary story. Last week over at The Literary Lab Davin talked about Activation Energy. I asked him if you need a hook on every paragraph. This was his response: "I think you need a new hook every time you've made a jump that lets readers off of the last hook. Sections of books have moments of introduction and then moments of tension. Whenever you get past a moment of tension, I think you need a new hook, whether that be from paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence, or chapter to chapter. For me, some books are so exciting throughout, that I'd say the writer only needed the one initial hook in the beginning."

I had read that writers needed at least a hook on every paragraph. So my next question to Davin was this. Are tension and a hook the same? Here is his answer: "I see hooks as the beginning of the tension. They start of a tense scene by snagging you with some little detail or question that you want answered. So, a hook creates tension, but not all tension will work as a hook." Pretty good stuff, huh?

I think my tension and/or hooks are becoming more clear, because for one thing my antagonist doesn't really think what he's doing is wrong, which makes him really threatening.:) I have given the MC (poor guy) as much trouble as I can possibly give him. I've figured out that the more trouble I give poor, poor Michael, the more my readers will cheer for him. Needless to say, the guy is having a rough go of it right about now. Even I feel sorry for the guy. But! He will win in the end...maybe.:)

How are your MC's managing? :) How are you at ramping up the tension in your story? Do you give your MC almost more than he/she can handle? What is your take on the two questions I had for Davin? Thanks for reading. :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm taking a break from Wish I Knew Wednesday. I'll get back to that next week.

What are you thankful for? First of all, I'm thankful for my savior. Without him my life would be nothing. I'm thankful for the hubby(most of the time):) and for my kids. I'm thankful that Christopher is alive and they are trying to discover what is wrong with him. I'm thankful God still gives miracles, I'm looking for miracles with Christopher everyday and everyday they happen.

I'm thankful for my animals and that my horse just got a clean bill of health! WOOHOO! The vet can't understand it. He was so sure she'd have to be put down. But I can. I sent loving health wishes to Zelda and she fought to get better. Of course God worked another miracle too. And even though my sweet, sweet Blue wasn't to be saved, and my heart is still broken, I know he's waiting on me at Rainbow Bridge. Right Scott?

I'm thankful for all of you! My blogging pals who understand me, because they feel my pain when the writing isn't going as I know it should. Y'all have been there and done that and you know how I feel.

I'm thankful for my home-school(most days) and everyone's health. Here's to love and health and wonderful news for all of us,SOON! :) Oh and lots of pumpkin pie. I mean gobs and gobs of it. See you on Monday. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tight writing

As I try to get back to work on my novel. (I took off after the death of my beloved cat Blue.) It occurs to me that I want my story to have one important ingredient. Tight writing. And to have tight writing I have to have powerful verbs. Who could ask for anything more? Except genuine sounding characters, fantastic dialogue and killer hooks.

GORSH.(Yeah, that's my Goofy voice.) Is that all? Um, well, throw in some rich detail (keep it short if writing MG.) and a fast paced plot. Anything more?

Writing five words in place of ten words.

The all important sub-plot. This has to be executed properly. No getting off course.

Hmmm, what about that (UGH) punctuation thang? And grammar too. Double UGH!

Gee! Does that about cover it? Is that what Mr. Shaw meant when he said, "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."

So that's where the blood that falls onto my computer keyboard comes from. I get it now. OOPS! I forgot one important detail. Words that will make your story fall flat. Just, it, some and my personal darling word that always makes me fall flat on my behind, was.

Well, glad that is settled. Guess I'd better get back to it. Breathe deep, Robyn.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thin Characterizations

Thank you to everyone who helped me in my sadness before unplug week. You'll never know how comforting it felt. Hearing you talk about your precious animals that you had lost and knowing I wasn't alone. I really appreciate all of your comments.

We've all probably made this mistake before in our writing lives.

Goody two shoes is my hero for this post. You know him right? He's my goody-goody hero and he has NO faults. He's almost robot like. Goody is just about the MOST boring hero you've ever read about.

Top that with ol' Villainous Villain. He's too unbelievably rotten. Not one good thing about Villainous. He has only one personality trait and it's BAD. He hates his granny! Need I say more?

A story using these two characters would make the story, *YAWN*, mind-numbing to say the least. The hero needs some weaknesses to make he/she more human. The villain needs some redeeming qualities added to his/her character to make him more convincing.

It turns out that Goody makes hasty decisions. Hmmm, I can do a lot with that and still have him as my hero. *thinking cap goes on*

Villainous buys all the names on the angel tree at Christmas. WHOA! He's not all bad after all. Hmmm, this means he actually has a positive quality or two. And as it turns out, he loves his granny.:) *thinking cap flashes*

Now I have a story to write. My characters are becoming balanced and more real.

Have you ever realized that your characters weren't true? That they were artificial and flat? :)

And before unplug week I was honored to receive two blogging awards from two SUPER BLOGGER PALS. Maria surprised me with Loyal friend and visitor award. Thank you so much Maria! I really appreciate this award. Maria is always praying for my family and especially my son. Her blog is very inspiring.

I want to pass it on to a few blogging buddies that ALWAYS comment and always have something great to say.

My great pal Tricia who ALWAYS has thought provoking posts. How DOES she do that?? She also had been instrumental in making me feel good when reading her comments about my son and his hospital trips. BUT. She doesn't think this cowgirl can ride in heels. PSHAW Tricia!

BJ another great pal who never fails to have the right things to say and has a MIGHTY pretty pic now too. You go girl!

And that little lady who is eatin' for two, Linda Kage. She is always coming by and sharing what she knows and she knows a lot. After all, her book comes out in Feb. 2010. Plus she gets a baby too. Dang it! Life can't get much better Linda.

And to Kristi. That girl hasn't been blogging long and look at all the pals she's made. Someday I'll say, "I knew her when." :)

And this award from Cindy. Who by the way, gave this to me on a day when sorrow visited me and still hasn't let go. She made me smile on that day. Thank you Cindy.

So I am passing this on to my pal who along with Cindy and so many of you pray when I take my son on the many hospital visits that we journey on. Susan. Her blog is the BEST! She has taught me so much.

To Dani for ALWAYS being there and sending me so many warm hugs. Her blog is always filled with wonderful advice. She's moving right now and I miss her terribly. And how is she going without internet? YIKES!

Susan, Cindy, Danyelle, Tricia, BJ, Maria,Linda, Kristi, and ALL OF MY BLOGGING PALS have taught me so much on this road I'm driving down. I feel like I'm gonna make it because of y'all! Yeah!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Unplug week

I'm unplugging tomorrow. Are you? I'll see you next week.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Cat Named Blue

A cat Named Blue is a picture book that I wrote to honor this cat. Blue. He died yesterday on my anniversary. My heart has broken and I have cried my eyes out. You see this cat is without a doubt the sweetest little guy in the world. My picture book about him came about because some strange dog had chased him up one of our
trees. Blue couldn't get down. For two weeks he stayed in the tree. We called the fire department and they laughed. "We don't really get cats out of trees," they said. He finally came down on his own. And a picture book story was born.

Ivy took the pics of the ol' guy

wearing female doll clothing just
a couple weeks ago. Blue didn't mind. He loved her. She could do anything to him. She loved him, too. We all did.

Over the weekend I noticed he was having trouble breathing. He seemed pretty sick and his back leg was dragging. The vet kept him and on Tuesday when Gene called from Chapel Hill he said that Blue was doing much better. "You can bring him home tomorrow." Wednesday when I called to ask what time I could come, the vet told me I couldn't. That Blue had taken a turn for the worse. He finally came home yesterday. His final resting place is out back by the bridge. He loved to sun on the bridge. It was Blue's favorite place. I say all that and show you these pictures so that he can bring a smile to your face as he always did to ours. Thanks for reading my final tribute to A Cat Named Blue.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do you rush your writing?

Do you speed through your first draft? I use to think the faster I can get this done, the faster my dream will come true. So I must write fast. I reasoned that all published authors must write that way too.



Fast(no pun intended)forward to the here and now. I realize that FAST is definitely good for some things like finishing my exercising--fast. But not good for other things like writing. Writing must be done at its own speed. It must be done like good food is eaten--slowly. To taste good wine, I want to savor it. To make my writing the kind of writing that I want my readers to savor, it must be done with the utmost care.


I want to choose my words carefully. I want to pick my setting with care. I want my verbs to be vivid. I want my book to be read. By others. That they bought at a bookstore. With my name on the spine.

How about you? :)

Oh and today is my anniversary. HE BETTER BE PLANNING ON DINNER--OUT TOMORROW NIGHT. That's all I can say about the matter. I think he knows that too. I've left hints for the past month. In passing conversation, "Gene, you remember the last time we went to the Olive Garden?" Over the phone, "I just saw the funniest Olive Garden commercial." I mean, how funny can an Olive Garden commercial be, anyway? So I think he gets it! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans' Day

My family has a lot of veterans in it so I wanted to say, "HAPPY VETERANS' DAY." Without them where would this country be?

Wish I Knew Wednesday

I'm joining my pal Tess in posting little tidbits of information that I have learned along this journey that we are all on. She uh, said I could. You too. Join us. :)


I GOTTA HAVE A PLAN ! If I don't, this isn't going to work. And by that I mean, a plan for time to write.

And I realize that a lot of you already know this. But I didn't. As a matter of fact, I've just figured this out in the last couple of months. When I first started on this road I thought, This will be a breeze. I'll write a book, snag an agent, pick up a publisher along the way and presto! I'm published. UH, YEAH! Right.

And to top it off, FIVE years later, ol' Robyn is still singing the, "I wanna be published" blues. PLUS.

I didn't have a plan about time. My most important commodity.


I must've thought there was going to be hours and hours available to me.


So I now have that plan. Two days a week in the afternoon when I do NOTHING but write. Nothing stops me from that time. No kids, no nothing. I schedule hospital visits, etc. around my writing time. No nothing on those two days, but my writing. The hubby doesn't call home at those times. The phone is unplugged. I visit blogs in the mornings on those days. And it is working. I get more writing done in those two days than I did in a weeks time before my epiphany. Now I know that I don't have a job. Well technically I do. I teach.


Have a plan. It's a good thing. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chapel Hill

Gone to the hospital today. I'll visit with you as soon as I can get over to my coffee shop. :)

In the meantime...check out Jeannie's blog today! Hmmm, wonder who's story that is. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Strong Protag, sure. What about the antag?

Every where I go I read the following: Create a strong, well-defined protagonist. Well, what about the antagonist? Do you need to worry about making he/she well-defined, strong, likable? I say YES! In my last novel the mountains, weather, and the animals were my antagonist. So I didn't think much about whether the antag was well done or not. I knew it was, just because it was the out of doors. I mean they're lost in the Blue Ridge mountains.

But with my new WIP, I have discovered a secret. Not really a secret, most of you have probably thought about this. The antag needs to be just as well-defined as the protag. Sometimes even more. I am making the antagonist in my new story a man that NO ONE would ever suspect of committing the deed. And I think it's making a GREAT read. I'm excited to tear into it every day. I'm writing a mystery. The mystery isn't MG either. It's YA and centers around a murder.

So how are you dealing with your ULTIMATE bad guy or girl? Weigh in, I want to read your thoughts on this.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Check this out!

Things Are Not Always What They Seem

Taken from Elizabeth Mahlou's blog with her permission. If you don't visit her, please do. :)

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem."

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, "How could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him," he accused. "The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die."

"Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."

Friday, November 6, 2009


Before I start my babbling, I want to thank you guys for your support through what we've been going through with Christopher. It's NOT his heart! So that is wonderful. And we are very thankful. But. It's back to the drawing board. Big time tests on his brain are scheduled. I'll let you know. We go Tuesday, but I'm sure they will schedule the tests, etc. and we'll be doing this through the end of the year. ICK!

What hurdles do you have in your writing life? Do you find yourself jumping them with ease? Or slamming into them, BAM?

Mine include, spreading myself way too thin, which also means hospital visits, home-school, family time and with six kids that can be time consuming, me time (which I don't really have these days. No quiet time can be an annoying little obstacle in itself. A writer needs QUIET! A writer needs good lighting. A writer definitely needs to put a NO DISTRACTIONS sign on the door. And ding, ding, ding!

The biggest obstacle of all? Ourselves. We need to set aside time each day to write. And if you can't write everyday, then set aside time each week and write. More on this next Wednesday when I post, Wish I Knew Wednesday.

Do writers need some idea in their head of a set time that they want to be finished with a story? Completely finished? YES!! Also, we need to write without that inner editor visiting. Just write. Take breaks if time permits. Stretch, take a walk, which could bring inspiration and look for the sunny side of life. :) I know that sounds corny, but it really works.

Stay positive! (Which I know I've had a problem doing a few days ago.) Stay confident! A lot of this is common sense, but I think sometimes we forget. We get caught up in life. We push the writing aside saying, "I'll write tomorrow." Tomorrow may never come. And yes that song from Annie is now etched in my brain. I can't get it out. :) *she shakes her head, hoping it will fall out her ear*

Any tips or obstacles I've forgotten? If so, leave 'em here. Have a productive, upbeat day. :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We're at the Cardiologist today

I will stop by to visit everyone as soon as I have a chance. They are keeping us very busy with testing, so it might be later on today or tonight. I hope everyone has a wonderful day. :) But...

I have often wondered about this approach. Click here to read the answer. No time? I'll tell you then. :) Yes! It says that readers who view sample book chapters online are more likely to purchase the book. It also says that women spend nearly 70 percent more time browsing books online than men do. Say what? :) What say you my writerly man blogging friends? :) My writerly women blogging friends? I'd say that I agree with that statement unless it's
Scott or Davin or any other writerly men. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Taking Chances

I never knew I was so brave. :) Writers take a lot of chances. "Necessity is the mother of taking chances" Mark Twain got it right. Writers have a lot of decisions to make while writing a book. Playin' it safe doesn't apply. We put ourselves out there. When we actually get the courage to let others read our babies we are taking chances. What if they don't like it? I can't tell you how many times I have thought that. Even still today I think it. I wonder what my crit partner will say about it. And Beth is a SUPER crit partner who is super encouraging. I love you Beth!!But still, we wonder.

Now I'm taking chances again. I'm querying. And asking the same questions. What if? What if? I knew I had a plan. A plan to write a book, get an agent, and then sit back drinking pina coladas while riding my horses. Nix the drinking while on one of my horses. Not a smart thing to do. New plan. Drinking pina coladas from my boat! Much better. I'll have someone drive the boat too. :)

I've decided to put those questions out of my head. After this past weekend, I've exchanged those questions for POSITIVE thinking. Now I ask why not? Why not? Why can't I have a driver for my boat and drink pina coladas till I ...? And why shouldn't I get an agent that sells my book and the one after that and the one after that? It's all good. As long as I keep the negativity out of my head and heart.

What about you? Have you dumped the negative thoughts and realized the chances you are taking will work out eventually? Do you know how brave you are? :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Building a writing career

First off, thank you so much to everyone who commented yesterday on my writing issues to share that they have had some of the same issues. And for all of the support you threw my way. Let me just say that, "YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!!!!"

This is a quote from James Michener that I really love. I thought it appropriate given my weekend. I must remember this is one big reason why I do this:

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” :)

I have always wanted a writing career. I decided that (for sure) on this past Sunday. After my near-death experience.> (Because I nearly deleted all my stories.) I really, really want this. It's my dream job. :) Now, there are some things that I know I have to do in order to have my dream job. I have to write and write well. I have to read and read a lot. I don't want to lose sight of who I am. I want my voice to shine through. Sometimes we can read so much that we might start to sound like a lot of different authors all mixed together. The structure and language seems like it came from another book. I read somewhere to consider your favorite sentences in the book as the first ones to lose.

Also, writers write for the readers. You've heard that before. If my writing sounds sparkling and clear to me, I have to wonder about it. I take a cold, hard look at it. Because even though it sounds and reads great to me, I want my readers to be able to hear the creek flowing and the owls hooting.

I'm in this for the long haul. Writing is much harder to do than it sounds. I know it isn't easy. Believe me, I know that. I'm prepared for the ups and downs. But I want it. I can taste it. I can feel it. I wanna BE it. An author.

How about you? Can you taste it? Do you have anything to add to my list of things that I need to do in order to see my dream fulfilled? :)

Monday, November 2, 2009


That is what I said to myself on Saturday. On Saturday, I really believed I would never write another word. I totally considered chucking it all. I said, "I shall delete all of my stories. All of my picture books, my novel that I agonized over for the longest time. I was ready to chuck it all. I had cried, said a bad word or three (to myself of course, and I nevah evah say those words)and literally just wanted to crawl under the bed and say, "GO AWAY WORLD!" I knew that I suck at doing this and I just didn't want any part of it anymore. I just wanted my life to go back to before I started writing. Except keep my friends, my blogging pals, but I couldn't see spending all of this time on something that I suck at.

Fast forward to yesterday. The flowers weren't exactly blooming again, but I did notice a faint and I do mean faint tinge of hope that I didn't suck at writing. But how would I know? I mean, if I'd been lying to myself about my writing skills all these many years then who's to say I wasn't doing it again. I evidently had become very adept at being untruthful about this very subject.

I examined my motives. They were harmless enough. I didn't want riches(thank goodness), I just loved writing. I examined my work ethic and discovered that I loved working hard at writing. I realized a hunger burned inside of me. I found that I was focused too. So why then did my writing suck?

I came to a conclusion that I need to share with all of you. My pals in the blogosphere. My writing on Saturday probably sucked(I deleted it) but my writing in general is great, most of the time. But get this. You have to write badly to get better. The key here is you have to stick with it, just like you have to stick with anything you do in life. You keep growing because you keep learning.

Practice makes perfect? Yep. The old adage is true. AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH! You mean mom was right all along? Yikes!

So I will remember this the next time I feel like dumping it all again. Or will I? :) Thanks for listening. :) Er...I mean reading.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Need dialogue explained in a sweet way?

Here's the link. It is the blog of my pal Ann Victor. Those of you who don't know her should. She lives in South Africa. Go visit. You'll be glad you did.