Current Vexation: Language? Culture? World-building is going splat.


One of the key things on my task list this week has been world-building–specifically culture building–for the novel that I’m planning, A Terrible Thing to Waste. I spent the month of May working on my characters and I had a lot of fun thinking about who they are and what makes them tick. Thinking deeply about their relationships has already given me a few ideas for plot points and conflicts. I know that I’m going to have a lot of fun bringing those characters to life.

I’m having a little trouble with the world that they live in, though. I’m finding myself wondering if I’ve created something problematic. I have a theme and a message that I want to get across, and I want to make sure that the nuance of the message is not lost in a poorly developed world–specifically the relationships between governments that I want and need to create.

I knew that I was going to run into a snag when I started doing this novel planning. I’m grateful for the challenge. I’d much rather figure this out now than get half way through the manuscript to come the conclusion that everything I’ve worked on is problematic, convoluted, and unworkable. Then again, I’m now at a lose of where to go and how to proceed.

As I’ve written before, I’m a big fan of Holly Lisle and her clinics. Her How to Build a Culture clinic has been helpful to me in the past, so I thought that I’d go back to it for some pointers. She strongly suggests thinking about language first and then figuring out the rest of culture from that. Language, she writes, is the soul of a people. She’s right. I totally agree. But I’m not a fantasy writer, really, though the novel that I’m writing takes place in a world and time of my creation. I’m not trying to write another LOTR. I don’t want a new alphabet and junk. I’m thinking about how I can choose specific words to have powerful meaning, giving a dialect and rhythm to the world that I’m creating without having to start from scratch.

So that’s a frustration at the moment.

There is also a greater problem: I want to think that the project of creating a whole new world will be fun, daring, adventurous. However, I’m finding myself resisting it. I’m worried about cliche, being trite, being boring. I’m trying to think of a way to write a world that is enduring–one that is interesting enough to revisit over multiple books. My logistical mind is stifling my whimsical and creative mind and I don’t know what to do. This works well with flash fictions and short stories (my logistical mind loves parameters) but not so much with novel planning and writing. I must break the barriers I’m putting up for myself!

I’m trying to dedicate June to world-building so I can give myself the entire month of July for plotting. August 1st is my start date. I want to start getting words on that pretty digital paper. Hopefully, after a writing free weekend (shocker!), I’ll have found inspiration and a tool to break the barriers. Though, I must say, it isn’t inspiration that’s holding me back–I’m getting little pops from the Muse seemingly every day–it’s the editor and critic in me that won’t let me move forward…

I hope that your writing this week has been barrier-free! Here’s to a productive end to the week!

Took Mother’s Day Off? Back To the Grind, Ya’ll!


Last week was a ridiculous week. This week is an opportunity for redemption. I took the weekend off from writing (but not brainstorming! I have some great ideas!), so there are no excuses for this week!

Let’s go to the task list:

1. Aside from the 3 progress report posts, write 2 blog posts about my writing and who I am writing for.

2. Write a 1000 word Flash Fiction for this week’s challenge. My rolls: Weird Western and Haunted House. I have such a great idea for this!  Post fiction by noon on Friday.

3. Work on Escort Mission and start another work, 6:45. 

4. Polish current edit in progress: Never a Day Quiet. Already got some great critiques for this.

5. Work on Haley, a secondary character in my novel, A Terrible Thing to Waste. Post excerpts (along with the other excerpts from previous weeks) on Sunday.

6. Critique at least 3 other short stories in the forums of my two writing communities this week.


My goodness. Why do I already feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew?

Aim for the stars, land on the moon. But really go for the stars. Let’s see how much we can do this week!

Happy Monday and Happy Writing, friends!

An accomplished Week!


Happy Friday fellow writers and potential readers! How did you fare this week? I’m feeling pretty accomplished this week! Let’s observe the task list:


  1. 3 blog posts this week

Alright, this was a cheat. Clearly I’m going to write three posts a week. Won’t put this on my task lists anymore. 🙂 It feels good to cross one off, though!

  1. Finish a first draft of Escort Mission and post excerpts by Friday.

Ok, only half crossing off this one. I really like this story and I’m about half-way through. There is a lot of potential here, but I’m noooottt quuuiiiittteee finished. I have posted an excerpt on my here, so I’m partially done, but I can’t totally take this one off of the list.

  1. Work on my second character for A Terrible Thing to Waste:. Post excerpt of first-person interview by Friday.

I done the work for my character this week, but I’ve decided that I have is a little too raw for publishing on the internet. So I’m going to write a publishable “Character Introduction” for him to post on the web. Something to entice without giving stuff away! Hope to have this done by the end of the weekend.

  1. Seek feedback for current edit-in-progress project, Never a Day Quiet. Post small excerpt (I’m polishing this for submission, so I don’t want to publish too much here).

Feedback sought but not received. Hopefully I’ll get the notes that i need next week. I DID, however, post an excerpt here.

  1. Find some inspiration for this week’s Short Story Saturday (a sequel to Escort Missionperhaps?) Post teaser/inspiration sentence by Friday.

I THOUGHT that I was going to draw inspiration from Escort Mission, and while I’m inspired, I am not fully inspired to write a sequel for it yet (because it’s not finished! Duh!!). The Good news is that Chuck Wendig, on his fantastic blog, has posted a Flash Fiction challenge that looks awesome. The sentence that I’m choosing: “When does the family document the thunder?” 


Another week is done, and many words have been written. I’ve taken a few more steps toward my goals and I’m feeling really great about it!

I hope that you, too, are feeling accomplished and hopeful on this Friday! I look forward to starting another week with you again on Monday!

Character Development: My novel Project of the Week


I have had a surprisingly productive writing week! I have outlined the compelling needs of all of the characters for my novel, A Terrible Thing to Waste, and I have also done a lot of exercises around finding their individual voices. I was very worried that I was going to write characters with the same voice and world view, but I was incredibly mistaken. Each of these people have different important stakes in this world, they have a lot to win and lose, and they have a lot to say about it!

There is still a lot to do–I’m not trying to create a Bible for each of them,but I am certainly working on backstory and other features that will make these characters more human and interesting. Indeed, I’m trying to make three-dimensional characters, and that is a lot of work! But I have made a lot of progress, and I am thinking that this time next week, I’ll be able to leave character development and move on to formal culture and world building. I’m feeling on track for my August 1st date to start writing. I might even to, at this rate, get to start early! We’ll see, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Today, aside from continued character building, I’m working on me and my writer’s goals. There are goals that I have as a writer, and goals that I have for engaging with my readers (established and potential), so I am doing some platform building. I look forward to doing that work as well!

And in the midst of all of the work that I’ve been doing, my Muse gave me a tidbit today that will either turn into a great short story or possibly a full fledged novel. I’m not quite sure, but it’s got a lot of potential. I’ll share details on Friday!

How is your week progressing? Stay productive out there!

Weekly Planner: Crawling Back From the Week From Hell


I live in the northern suburbs of Boston, so next week was more than a little intense. Add that to flying solo with the 2 toddlers while the husband was away on business, and you have a recipe for disaster!

So, basically, I wrote a total of 3 paragraphs last week.

But we’re back on it this week. I wrote the beginnings of a great short story on Saturday, I’m editing a short story that I wrote a few weeks ago, I have a lot more character development to do this week, and I’m doing a lot of reading on platform building. I lost a week of my writing life last week, and now I’ve got a lot of work to do.

What I’m Doing This Week: 

  1. Editing a short story that I’m polishing for submission: Never A Day Quiet
  2. Finishing a short story that I started on Saturday: Laundry on the Line (working title) 
  3. Doing intense character development (using the Holly Lisle  Create a Character Clinic) for the protagonist of my novel, A Terrible Thing to Waste.  I hope to have him fully formed this week.
  4. Reading more about website/twitter/tumblr use by authors and building a stronger platform.

That is a lot going on, and I have plenty of things to do with Ursa Major and Ursa Minor this week! Did I mention that I’m taking two classes on EdX that I’m utterly behind on? There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

But it’s Monday. The week is fresh, the air is clean, the spirit is high. So we’re going to get it all done!

What’s on your plate this week?

Progress report on Wednesday!