Happy Holidays & U Got the Look Meme

Neve_em_folhas_de_Chamaecyparis_pisifera_01Winter break is here just in time for the first snow! My kids woke up bright and early, and were out sledding at 7 a.m. The wind made it colder, so we didn’t stay out long, but we had a blast.

I’m taking a break from social media and will return with a regular post on January 10, 2013.

For today, I’m participating in Elise Fallson’s “U Got The Look” meme in which Melissa Maygrove inadvertently tagged me.

The rules are simple: Track down the word “look” in your current Work-In-Progress (WIP) and post the surrounding paragraphs, and then tag 5 other people with the meme.

WIP titleBlink
Genre: Paranormal
Category: Young Adult
Orientation:  This is the point where Lexi’s world begins to spin out of control. One minute, she’s at a client’s house preparing to walk their dogs; the next, she wakes up in the hospital and something’s different.

“I’ve been here for two days?” There went Lexi’s perfect attendance record. Worse, two days were plenty of time for rumors to ruin what little social status she had. “How did I end up here?”

Mom tightened her hold on Lexi’s hand. “Mrs. Anderson said soon after she answered the door you blanched. Before she had a chance to offer you a seat, you passed out. Peanut cushioned your fall.”

“She okay?” If Lexi had hurt the Great Dane, she’d never forgive herself.

“She’s fine, it’s you we’re concerned about.” When Dad gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze, his fingertips curled around to her back.

The touch stung, like a fresh sunburn. She shifted away and the heat subsided. As Dad studied her, his lips twitched to the side the way they did whenever something bothered him, and he was strategizing the best way to broach the topic.

Oh, no. What if she was sick? “Is it skin cancer? A tumor?”

“Carolyn, will you get Lexi a cup of ice?” he asked Mom.

Must be something terminal. Her eyes blurred again.

“Sure. I’ll find the doctor, too.” Mom squeezed her hand before she left.

“What do you remember?” Dad whispered in an urgent tone.

“Peanut and Blue meeting me at the front door.” She balanced the lavender towel on the bedrail.

“What else?” The bed dipped where he sat.

“Why are you whispering?”

“Just answer the question.”

“I had this stabbing pain in my temples.” She touched the left one. “Made me nauseous and dizzy. After a blinding white light, everything turned cold. Freezing cold. Then, I woke up here.” Struggling to recall more brought a rush of pressure to her eyes and made them feel like they were about to pop out of her head. Her heart monitor beeped a fast pace, until Dad clicked mute again. “Am I sick?”

He shook his head. “This can’t be right.”

“What’s going on?”

“I hope I’m wrong. For your sake.”

“You’re freaking me out!”

He glanced at the open door where footsteps clacked up and down the hall. “Let me see your right shoulder.”

The IV catheter pulled when she reached out. She winced and tugged the gown to the side. Dad leaned forward. She knew the exact moment he spotted what he was looking for. His eyes bulged and his face paled.

“What is it?” She angled her head, struggling to see. Her fingertips probed at her shoulder. She jerked her hand back when she brushed an area where it felt like someone had snuffed a cigarette. “What the hell?”

“Oh God, Lexi. This isn’t supposed to happen to you.”

“What’s not supposed to happen to me?”

Footsteps in the hall grew closer.

“Don’t let Mom see.” He straightened the material and stood before he whispered, “I’ll explain everything later.”

“Why can’t you just explain now?”


As for the tagging of five people, I’m feeling generous. If you took the time to stop by my blog and want to participate in this meme, please considered yourself tagged!

Are you planning to join the party? Please let me know in the comments below so I can stop by and read a sample of your WiP.

Thanks, once again, for visiting. I wish you all happy holidays!

Blogfest Today: Catch Me If You Can

Kristina Fugate is hosting the Catch Me If You Can blogfest today! The idea behind this blogfest is to answer the question, “Does my WIP catch people’s attention right away?” Participants post up to 550 words from the beginning of their WIP, and then visit other participants’ blogs as well. Click the button above for to sign up and find out about the prize.

I hope you enjoy the opening to my YA paranormal BLINK. I am way open to feedback. So, whether you like it or not, please leave a comment. Thanks!

***********Based on feedback, I will change the opening paragraph.**********
Suggestions welcomed.

April 22, 2009

Lexi Ripley listened to 80’s music when she killed. She wasn’t always a killer or a fan of 80’s music, but when her Uncle Lucas disappeared, everything changed. Especially her. After endless hours with the Golden Peak Search Team, Lexi needed a return to normal or in her case, time with her favorite dog-walking clients. Peanut, the Anderson’s great dane, greeted her at the door. Blue licked her ankles until she scooped up the chihuahua. Dizziness made her sway when she straightened. Peanut edged closer, both dogs whined.

“Oh, you guys. I’ve only been gone three days.”

“Lexi? That you?” Mrs. Anderson asked.

“Yeah.” The dizziness grew heavy, promising another headache. They’d been happening a lot lately.

Mrs. Anderson peeked from the kitchen. “Didn’t expect you ‘til Monday.”

“I need a break from my time off. Mind if I walk the ddd—” Pain trapped her in a white abyss of agony, yanked her right out of reality into a dream world. Mrs. Anderson’s muffled voice hovered near, but the soft whisper of wind pushed it away. Lexi stood on mountain land. Where am I? How’d I get here? Paw prints four times bigger than Peanut’s pockmarked the blanket of snow. A bear? No, something bigger. More menacing.

“Lexi, can you hear me?” Her dad’s voice floated next to her.

Blush-tinted mounds surrounded her on all sides. The possibility of what lie under those human-shaped piles and what stained the snow beneath in fading shades of red made her queasy. She focused on the crisp air and its chilling caress, instead. Were people supposed to get goose bumps in dreams?

“Lexi, open your eyes, Honey.”

She wanted to answer him, but curiosity anchored her on the mountain. She sensed the area, the tracks, and the heaps of snow were more than hallucinations, but that didn’t make sense. Normal people don’t have visions. Behind her, the sun sank below the horizon. She rubbed her hands together to warm her numb fingertips.

“Alexandra?” Her dad sounded scared now.

Big snowflakes swirled on the icy breath of wind. It burned her cheeks and stung her eyes, making her squint. Snow crunched under her feet and lightened the mounds to a pale pink. The tracks darted from one snowy mound to the next. When the distance between the piles grew, so did the paw prints, as if the creature started running. Lexi jogged between trees whose branches drooped under the weight of snow.

Twilight sank into a bluish nighttime glow. The full moon lit her path until she reached a massive pine tree, which towered over her. She knew it’d be in there, the creature she tracked. The creature with feet four times bigger than Peanut’s. A dangerous thing. Her skin prickled. She should go, follow the sound of her dad’s voice to safety.

A frigid wind swooped down, stole her breath. She fought not to lick her chapped lips as she shoved her hair out of her face. The tracks doubled over each other like the creature had paced there. Lexi rounded the pine, searching for a spot big enough to squeeze under the branches, but stopped at a huge patch of ground edged with splotches of red. Blood. Lexi covered her gasp. Did she seriously want to follow a bleeding animal under a tree? She took a step back, yet still studied the paw prints. Something didn’t look right. Human footprints, not animal, led from the patch to the tree.

Thanks for reading! If you have a lengthy critique please email it to me at: writesbymoonlight at gmail dot com


Ever Wonder About Word Count?

I’m such a goal orientated person. I love to make lists and spreadsheets to track projects. It’s only natural I would want to track the word count in my WIP Blink. But what does the current word count mean for the overall manuscript? I have an outline and a rough idea of how many chapter the finished book will have, but what I really wanted to know was how the actual writing impacted my word count goal.  Which made wonder, what is my word count goal?

Word count expectations vary by target market and genre. What are they? I found my answers in Chuck Sambuchino’s post Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books: The Definitive Post on the Guide to Literary Agents (GLA) blog. I encourage you to visit his site for word count information for your genre. For YA Sambuchino says, “Perhaps more than any other, YA is the one category where word count is very flexible. For starters, 55,000 – 69,999 is a great range.” Even within YA, the word count varies by genre. Sambuchino gives examples of when a higher word count might be acceptable, and just how low might be pushing it.

Now I have my word count goal plugged into a spreadsheet, which may sound very boring, but the Type A side of my personality is thrilled to know Blink is 13% -15% complete. The writer in me, however, wants me to end this post and get back to work!

Page Count Increasing

This writing out of order thing has it’s benefits. First, I’m not spending much time on description because by the time people get to the middle/end of the book they will already know so many things. It has also forced me to really know my characters and be familiar with the setting. I think this will help when I’m writing the opening scenes.

So far I have 20 pages. Not sure how many chapters yet, because I’m just focusing on writing the scenes for now. I’ll break them on cliffhangers when I’m finished. For now, I’m enjoying the dynamics between Lexi, her best friend, and one of her fellow members of the Hunter Brotherhood.

Halloween Anthology Coming Out Soon!

Cover art by Robyn Miley

My writer’s group, Novel Clique, and I have finally finished editing October Nightmares and Dreams for the Midwest Children’s Authors Guild. It features 14 children’s/YA short stories and 2 poems. My YA short story Blink, about the only female werewolf Huntress, will appear in the anthology.

Here’s a sneak peek at the back cover blurb:

Beware, Halloween is upon us. Soon, handkerchiefs may come to life and ghosts may appear to hinder or help. You may hear the eerie quiet of an orange grove and the rustling and moaning of a cornfield. Watch for stingy tricksters on the prowl and double-crossing siblings and friends who scatter at the first sign of trouble. Meet monsters that lurk on bedroom doors, hide inside closets, perch on porches, and linger in the mountains. If you’re brave enough, face your worst nightmare in a dark forest.

 Then, tell yourself it’s only Halloween. October Nightmares and Dreams presents a collection of stories and poems for children and young adults. Within these pages, you take a spooky journey through the stories and poems by authors of the Midwest Children’s Authors Guild.

For a sneak peek at Blink click here and scroll down.

Progress on Blink

It feels like it took forever to make it through Chapter 3 of the You Can Write A Novel Kit , but I made writing progress in other areas. I’ve completed two short stories, one is scheduled for release in the October Nightmares and Dreams anthology written by members of the Midwest Children’s Authors Guild and the other has been submitted to Pill Hill Press for consideration.

In Chapter 3: Build A Framework for Your Novel’s Pieces, I created an outline from start to finished. Smith offers step by step guidance to help writers draft strong beginnings, middles and ends. I like how he explains what each section needs and then gives two to three examples to demonstrate it. Using his method, I have identified scenes that directly impact the climax as well as major scenes that move the story line, complicate the problem, develop characters and/or set up other scenes.

This process worked so well that I was tempted to stray from the book and jump straight to writing. I’m glad I didn’t and it appears I’m not the only one who gets bitten by the writing bug at this phase. Smith warns writers not to write major scenes at this point, because they may fizzle later. So, I was thrilled when I saw the title for the next chapter.

Chapter 4: Writer Your Novel: Putting Together The Pieces. I’m so ready for this chapter and as always will post my progress.

Dots Connected

I’ve finally connected the dots from the opening scene of Blink to the climatic scene. It feels like it’s taken a while, but during this time, I’ve completed two short stories and have even submitted on for publication. I also made significant revision to the short story based on character in Blink.

Next, I’ll layout the scenes in sequence and then identify the pivotal complication scenes. This is getting exciting!