Category Archives: Writing

Writing Stats, Part 1

We’re halfway through 2015 and it’s been a pretty amazing year so far–full of family, and friends, and writing. A LOT of writing. Because I’m really proud of myself (and Christie Yant’s amazing google workbook Tools for Writers makes it easy to keep track), I’m going to share my stats with you. This is going to look like bragging, and maybe it is. I’ve worked hard for these achievements. Will you celebrate them with me?

102,633 – new words written.

14,253 – most words written in 1 week.

0 – fewest words written in 1 week (I have a few of those actually).

1 – novel drafted and revised once.

4 – new short stories drafted and revised and on submission.

40 – days spent revising not adding any new words.

About 90,000 words of that are the first and second drafts of the novel I’m working on, the rest were all done for the short stories. I’m probably most proud of those 40 days spent revising and nothing else. Those were hard days, and I have a lot more of them ahead of me.

For the rest of the year, I don’t have any wordcount goals. It’d be nice to get another 100,000 written, but I doubt that will happen. I leave for my first summer at Hollins in 2 weeks, and then when I get back I’m going to be focused on readjusting to everyday life, work starting back up, and completing this novel. So for the 2nd half of 2015 my writing goals are pretty simple:

* Survive School

* Finish Novel

* Query

I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, today is national donut day and I’m headed out to celebrate.

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Lady Cintron and the Bull

“Lady Cintron and the Bull” is live over at Every Day Fiction today! It’s a strange, dual POV, flash fiction, cyberpunk story featuring virtual reality, sibling rivalry, moral superiority, and bullfighting.

My favorite part of it is possibly the avatar ‘Lady Cintron,’ named for Conchita Cintrón–a famous female bullfighter.

A minor warning for the sensitive among us: it has a bit of violence.

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Interview at Flash Fiction Chronicles

Aliza Greenblatt over at Flash Fiction Chronicles recently interviewed me about “Remnants of a Quilter’s Memory,” because it was Every Day Fiction’s highest-rated story for June! In case you’re interested, here it is.

The whole process of publishing this story with EDF has been really lovely.

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Writing Assistant Monday: Home Again

Donna helps me critique the first 15-pages of a fellow middle grade author's manuscript.

Donna helps me critique the first 15-pages of a fellow middle grade author’s manuscript.

I’m back in New Jersey, happy to be reunited with Kyle and the cats.

This Saturday is my first event with SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), an organization I joined in January. I’m super looking forward to meeting other authors in the area and sitting in on panels that are all about the sort of writing I’m doing. I’ll also be meeting editors and agents, which I’m terribly nervous about. I just keep telling myself that they’re normal people–they put on their pants one leg at a time like the rest of us (unless we have the aid of a dresser during a quick change, of course).



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Writing Assistant Monday & Some News

First with the news: I sold a story! “Remnants of a Quilter’s Memory” is not science fiction or children’s fiction of any sort. It’s a very small 500 word piece about a family’s struggle with dementia, and it’s very close to my heart for a whole lotta reasons. It’ll be live at Every Day Fiction on June 22, so check it out if you’re interested.


Task mistress.

This will be my last writing assistant Monday post with featuring these furry faces for at least the next three weeks, because I’m headed home to Michigan! The plan is to help Mutti with the store (specifically sprucing up the window displays).

I’m also planning on finishing up the first (very rough) draft of my middle grade novel, relaxing and playing with my nephew who is just growing up too fast.


Assisting writers is hard.

I also hope to get some reading done…


How many books do you take on your 3-week vacation?

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Writer’s Blog Tour: Four* Questions

I was recently tagged in a writing blog tour by A.T. Greenblatt. Check out her answers, and click through some of her links to see how other writers have answered these same 4 questions.

Bonus: If you read to the end, there’s a writing assistant picture. If you cheat and scroll to the end: well, I’ll never actually know, will I?

What am I working on? 

I’m currently working on making my short story, “The Rum Cake Runner,” into a middle grade novel. I’m about 3/4 of the way through the first, very rough draft, and hope to finish and send it out to first readers in the next few weeks.

How does my work differ from others in the genre? 

I tend to enjoy writing only slightly speculative fiction, focusing on everyday, normal interactions. I like my science fiction and fantasy to flavor and inform my fictional worlds, but not be the main focus. In the SFF community, this doesn’t seem to be in vogue currently, though it’s common in middle grade/young adult lit. So I suppose whether or not it differs depends on where I’m lumped!

Why do I write what I do? 

I enjoy writing MG/YA I think because that’s when I really, truly fell in love with reading. As a young girl in a small community, books let me travel outside of my family, state, country, world. They taught me about myself and, by taking me into perspectives that were so different than my own, they taught me compassion for the Other. And they were fun!

I want to recreate those same sorts of experiences for readers–young and old.

How does my writing process work?

If only I knew!

I tend to know at least my beginning and ending, and if I can, I outline the middle.

In the current WIP, I have a pretty specific outline that I’m following, and I add scenes and chapters here and there as necessary. I have to say, it’s worked really well. I’m writing quickly. I know where I’m going next. I kind of love it!

The blank page is the hardest part for me, so my first draft of things are very, very badly done. I won’t let anyone see them, ever. But once they’re done, I edit to a point that I think they can be read by someone else and send it out to first readers. From there I revise again, and maybe send it out again if I don’t think I’ve nailed the story. After that next revision, I’ll start sending it out to markets or let it sit in a (virtual) drawer for awhile until I know how I feel about it.

*And an added question of my own: What’re you currently reading?

In my newest, never-ending quest to read ALL THE MIDDLE GRADES, I’m about to start Claire Legrand’s The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. Have you read it?



Ta da! That’s it. I’m tagging fellow former bootcamper and current YA-novel-in-progress-ess, Julie Whipple.

Caveat: I had been dragging my feet on this little project for a few days, because I don’t have a lot of writer friends that I speak with regularly, especially of the blogging variety. So if you’re a writer friend and you’d like to participate, drop me a note? I’ll gladly tag you.


Now…as promised:

Cat face!

Cat face!

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Sculpting Inspiration

As a follow up to my last post on inspiration, I wanted to set up for everyone just how I’m inspired.

One of the other little trips Kyle set up in the last couple weeks was a trip to a local Sculpture Garden. Calling it a garden, really, is misleading. We should call it a Sculpture Farm. It’s huge.

I took pictures of many of the sculptures that really spoke to me and I’d like to walk you through a couple story ideas that came to me.


If there’s not a love triangle here, then I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. But maybe to twist the story and give it a little more depth, one of the love interests could be the forgotten maid in the background? Or perhaps the lack of interest in the nude woman is what’s interesting — after all, neither man seems to be paying her the slightest bit of attention.


This has to be the setting for an ancient fantasty– a springtime witch ritual, yeah? Or perhaps a fable about some wanton young women turned to stone by their Deity after committing some sort of crime (like dancing naked in the moonlight?).


This was called the 9 muses (or something like that). All of the muses were half-formed, misshapen. The poetry you could write about how beauty, like creativity, so easily slips through your fingers (especially when you try to hard to shape it to what you want it to be). It cracks. Misforms. Elludes you entirely. 


This guy has to be the star of some comic science fiction space journey. He’s a brilliant alien, capable of going in all sorts of directions. I rather think that the place he came from had significantly less gravity than we do– otherwise, how would you move all those limbs with any sort of grace?


And we’re back to the maid of the first image. She really struck me for some reason. Not because she’s particularly beautiful. I think because I love how stagnant and still and picturesque the scene around her is. I love the algae growing on her hem, the leaves sitting in the water. I think this could make a really lovely literary story about beauty and how it doesn’t necessarily always mean perfection, but sometimes just means…rightness.

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Oaks as Inspiration

The last couple of weeks have been busy. My mind’s been full of work and I’ve been cranky. My free time has been at a minimum, but the time I did have (especially the daylight hours), I wanted to use. So Kyle scheduled two tiny trips for me, to places I hadn’t really been.

One was to a little park about 20 minutes away. And by little park, I mean, little. It’s just a corner lot with a pavilion, a small water feature and a pathway lined in trees. The park is dedicated to a local, long-term park service officer, a lover of oak trees. All the trees along the park’s small pathway are oaks of varying sorts, and at each new tree on the path is a little plaque which tells you what type of oak it is and shows you what the acorn and a leaf looks like, to scale.


Isn’t it great?

The thing I’ve really loved about focusing on my writing this last year is how it’s helped me focus on the world around me so much more. I see things more. Once I started looking for inspiration, I found story ideas everywhere. Everywhere.

And more than just story ideas. Beauty. Perfect beauty. Pristine beauty. Decaying beauty. And I am so glad I started looking.




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Writing Assistant Monday: Reading Edition

Donna Reading Asst


It’s almost November, and for those of us who write, that means the annual National Novel Writing Month is (almost) upon us.


My confession: I have participated in NaNoWriMo twice before, and I have lost both times. “Winning” just means (just!) completing 50,000 words in a single long story between November 1 and November 30. That’s only 1666.67 words/day for 30 days. Doable. Exhausting, but manageable. And yet, I’ve never managed.

And this year, I’m not even trying.

Instead, my goal is to begin revisions on the YA novel I finished up this summer. It’s rough. It’s really rough. And November is shaping up to be an extremely busy month. But I’ve been dragging my feet on this massive project for 4 or so months now, and it’s time.

So this weekend I printed it out and I started reading. Donna helped me (above). I have 3 more days to finish skimming through the roughest 70,000 words I’ve ever put together. Then I’ll start cutting and rebuilding. Shaping. A LOT of rewriting. Mostly rewriting in fact.

My goal is to complete the next draft by the end of the month — to get it to a stage where it’s ready for it’s first round of readers. And it’s a pretty lofty goal, but I think I’ll manage. I think.

I think.

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