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My writing process [Mar. 25th, 2014|09:31 am]

A method I have finally learned that works just about every time for my writing process:

1. Seven point outline (Note: list influences, authors “conversing” with this piece, and other inspirations. May or may not include what I’ve been reading lately and lingering memories/life experiences)

2. First draft journeying through the loose outline. This draft will be different from the outline, perhaps significantly

3. Verbal summary of the story to a neutral listener. Afterward, reflect by listing literary devices and anything I was using to show increasing tension or were allegories for the emotion of the story. If necessary, re-write seven point outline.

4. Note how the summary is different from the actual first draft. What did I mean to put in there that I didn’t actually put on the page? What are the top three things my summary told me should be emphasized in my revision?

5. Second draft incorporating what the summary envisioned

6. Send to beta reader for response

7. Pick and choose from beta reader what’s going to strengthen the story without losing the story’s heart. Review Langenberg’s Rules to Live By and judge if story fulfills the first 8 rules.

8. Third draft, rewriting the ending and pushing it further

9. Send to same beta reader for review

10. Fourth draft, incorporating final thoughts from beta reader on transformation of story. Clean up devices. Resist temptation to break story by overwriting the ending too far, or backtrack from caving in to this temptation

11. Send fourth draft to tertiary reader for thoughts

12. Fifth draft incorporating thoughts of the tertiary reader

13. Submit for publication

Optional pre-action: Watch a movie and incorporate the film’s feel into the outline and first draft, or use the energy the movie engendered to inspire writing something completely different. Complete first draft in one sitting

Optional drafting action: Gather other writers for a write-in during revision drafting phases to ensure it gets done

Temptations to resist: Staring at page. Fiddling with word choice for a long time without making substantive changes. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop. Don’t stop, ever.

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Everything you never wanted to know about me... [Nov. 5th, 2012|03:47 pm]
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Seriously, stay inside. [Oct. 6th, 2012|02:42 pm]
     If you're reading this, stay inside. Lock your doors. Get a hatchet.

     I got up early this morning for tai chi--I had a great workout, except I kept forgetting Embrace Tiger Return to Mountain. The birds got my car yesterday, just coated it--I should have realized the crow crap was a sign. By the second sign--other trash-eating animals--I started to get suspicious. Raccoons usually wander lazily across suburban streets here in Ames. I'm usually your slow-down-and-stop type when I see an animal in distress--but this raccoon was hobbling forward, both forelimbs stretched out, tummy distended, and half its head missing. It climbed out of a Wendy's dumpster and I swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid the little guy. It was in a disturbed state of mind I found myself at Tornado Carwash.

     "Man, the birds really got you," the attendant said.

     "What?" I was busy looking back at Mr. Raccoon, who was chewing on the head of a road-kill squirrel.

     "The birds, ma'am. It's red. And kind of slimy."

     "What?" I asked him again. Then I took a minute to examine the red blotches. There were no raspberry seeds. It looked like the crows had eaten jelly. It reminded me of a photo the cops showed during a road safety seminar at my high school--a biker with his head cracked open across the pavement. Gruesome bloody brains.


     I paid for the bug-remover pretreat and thought about the crows and the raccoons all the way through the automated brush-cycles. I thought it was my imagination--I mean, I've jogged 80 miles on the Zombies, Run game I discovered it in July--I was probably just grasping at straws. Every time the game says "Zombies Detected" I jump and look behind me, watching for the shambling hoard to come out from between a couple of duplexes. They were never there….until now.

     I got home from the carwash and popped inside to check on hubby and roommate. They listened to my crows and raccoon story and shrugged.

     "You've been playing too much of that game," my husband said.

     "I'm telling you, that raccoon was freakshow."

     "Maybe it was rabies," our roommate chimed in. She's moving away--this is her last weekend in our spare room--and we're prepping for a big party for her tomorrow. Chili's in the crock pot and we have the grill on the deck for steaks. The fridge is full of beer and dip.

     "I doubt it." The problem nagged the back of my mind, but when hubby suggested sushi, we all piled in the car.

     Our favorite sushi place was deserted.

     "Where is everyone?" I asked the friendly Malaysian maître-d, Yudah.

     "Lunch special is usually very popular. Haven't seen anyone today. Half of my staff hasn't shown up."

     "I'm telling you. Zombies."

     They laughed at me. After way too much nigiri, we headed for home again.

     "Look, there's one of those raccoons!" I slowed way down, and we all hung out of the windows to look at it. It moved stutter-stop toward the car, just like the last one had, arms outstretched, tongue lolling out of its mouth.

     "That's…not right." It came right up to the car and started reaching for husband, who rolled up his window.

     "It's so cute!" My roommate's adorable--she's always wanted the Disney princess power where you sing and animals just come to you. I rolled up her window for her, just as the thing climbed the side of the car and started prying at her door handle.

     That's when I laid on the gas. The thing dropped off after a couple of blocks, but there were more of those raccoons wandering around. I pulled into the drive, and there were loads of crows in the trees lining the drive. Like they knew my car had just been washed.

     "Wait," I told my passengers. I honked the horn. They didn't move. Two of them pooped red jelly onto the pavement.

     "What's wrong with them?" My husband stared up at their beady eyes. Every one of them, there must have been forty or so, were tracking our movements inside the car.

     I gave him a significant look.

     "No way. Let's run for it."

     "Hold on." I thought for a second. If this really was some kind of zombie virus effecting the garbage and carrion-eating animals, I didn't have enough gas to get out of here. We had to get in the house and lock ourselves in until this was over.

     I laid on the horn again, and didn't let up. Our neighbor finally opened his door--the one who's asked us to chop down our trees since the day we moved in. He doesn't like the cottonwood fibers in his immaculate lawn. Every crow switched from us to the swinging of his door.

     They launched into the air, one great blood-thirsty shadow.

     "Run!" I flung open the door and sprinted up the walk. My roommate had her keys ready and we swung the door shut behind us.

     I don't know if my neighbor made it. And I don't know if you, dear reader, are having the same trouble we are here in the Midwest, but don't go outside.


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Make up words. [Jul. 8th, 2012|06:37 pm]
"Farlowsnipe!" He shivered mouthily and scriped the flower nigh. "Qoth I prim your speem." He breathed deep. Aspirational divination. "This snipe has mythed into me," he crismed. "And revealed the inner spirals of the vast army depthness of the helvens." Saying so, he clinched the snipe to his bustoms, and rowled playfully in the gressy cowls. Alas, he crushed his snipe into shattering mushapes, and lost the brief glimpsum once opened for him like yon veritus revolving vulva.

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Warbreaker, with apologies to Pat Benatar [May. 11th, 2012|04:56 pm]
Brandon Sanderson. You are awesome...

Your words are like a tidal wave, spinning in my head
Flooring me with laughter, sarcasm boldly said
You’re the right kind of writer, to release epic fantasy
The invincible author, and you know that you were born to be
You wrote Warbreaker
Peacemaker, Blusheweaver
Don’t you mess around with me!
You wrote Warbreaker
Peacemaker, Blushweaver
Don’t you mess around - no no no!

Your words have set my soul on fire, burnin out of control
You taught me the ways of Awakening, now its taking its toll
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Fun with writing prompts [May. 8th, 2012|02:15 pm]

For neat ideas you can pick from quickly for a group 30-minute write-in, I like: http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

For standalone individual ideas with a lot of verity, try (30 minute sprint): http://www.sfwa.org/2011/03/guest-post-an-infinite-supply-of-writing-prompts/

For super short quick flash fun (10-15 minute warm up sprint), go with: http://www.typetrigger.com/

If you want to do something that changes partway through, have everyone pick the same random generator to start with. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes. When it goes off, have everyone click on a different generator they have to add to the story. Do this three times, writing for a total of about (20 mintues). Then read together and giggle. http://random-generator.com

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Free until April 13: Tales from the Crimson Pact [Apr. 10th, 2012|01:53 pm]

Four tales from The Crimson Pact Vol 1 are free until April 13


Tales From The Crimson Pact

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How I Write with a 40+hr Job [Mar. 27th, 2012|01:11 pm]
[Current Mood |rushedrushed]

Here’s an answer for other MFA students on our Facebook group. The “Tips” are at the end. Hope they help you with your creative dreams!

The post:

I wrote my family and told them I was going to be "busy" until 2013 (graduation). I have no kids, an introvert husband, and understanding friends who are more or less surviving without me at the moment. We have a family Christmas Tree farm, and they’ve been understanding about me writing at each family gathering. They’ve also been scheduling big farm projects on weekends AFTER I have a packet due, so I’m less stressed about the time commitment (this weekend we’ll plant 800 pine seedlings, exciting! I’ve been given permission to experiment with pumpkin farming, but I’m waiting until 2013 :D)

I work full time in administration at a college, an 8-5 desk job, though I often give presentations and administer classes online and in person. Last semester, and two years previous, I taught creative writing “on the side” for the honors department, but it was just too much—I didn’t volunteer for those extra activities this semester. Despite frequent presentations and pressures, I try to work on drafting during daily lunch breaks and try to be militant about leaving work right at 5.

When I get home, I try to work in exercise and dinner and then draft until bedtime, but sometimes my brain is too tired, so I work on reading my annotation material instead. I love it when I have an annotation “book on tape” because I can listen to and from work and while cooking dinner/cleaning, but I find I don’t bond as well with the book when I’m hearing, not reading. Last fall I tried getting up two hours before work for writing, and that was murder (5 am is not a real time. It is a pretend time, during which I'm still sleeping, even if I went to bed at 9 and am moving around my house, drinking coffee, and poking my keyboard, I’m just not mentally there).

I make up for this bigtime on weekends, sometimes I write all day (I managed over 20 hours of drafting this last weekend, woo hoo). I usually organize at least one 3-hour write-in with students at the college student union on Saturday or Sunday, and broadcast this so others online can join in (four or five 30-minute writing sprints). I'm also part of a critique group that meets once a month, so sometimes they have first crack at a draft before my mentor sees it.

It's really hard to balance my academic job, because I could always be grading homework or helping students with something, but my bosses are trying to reduce my teaching load over the next year so it's less tempting for me to fritter away night and weekend hours helping students via email or over our course management software.

I figure this is all preparing me for the discipline I’ll need to continue a 40+hr job after I graduate and still create short stories and novels.


1. Writing with other writers

Even when I’m tired and brain-dead, declaring a goal and hammering away at it in 30 minute sprints, then having to report if I met that goal, will get me drafting again. Awesome amazing wonderful things happy when I social-write, so I intend to continue to arrange these for the rest of my life.

2. Keeping the thread alive

Man, writing for lunch break is essential for me. It keeps me excited about the story and when I’m struggling, the problem churns away in the back of my mind all day. I often have epiphanies in the shower or mid-conversation with someone else. OH! There’s another important thing—telling my friends about my story/characters and problems I’m having. Their suggestions might not fit, but talking it out often helps me figure out what to do next. Something else GREAT for this is www.750words.com It’s an awesome place where I feel like I can free-write without having to watch out for typos or grammar. I can just play until I figure out what to do next.

3. Meditation

My boss got me into qigong Chinese meditation, and it’s amazing. I’ve got a 30 minute MP3 file that guides me through the breathing and I use this as a transition activity. Sometimes, investing 30 minutes in meditation can produce two hours of fantastic creativity writing time in otherwise “dead” hours of evening after dinner.

Also, I have insomnia and often have anxiety dreams that wake me up. I put my headphones on and do qigong and almost always am back asleep after one or two repeats. I think meditation is saving my life! I’ve also found I require less sleep when I’m meditating—30 minutes of meditation can replace an hour of sleep for me.

4. Body and mind

Eating right, sleeping enough, and exercising seems impossible when I’m stressed (I’m totally a stress eater). However, this state of health is as vital to my success as actually putting words on the page. I constantly struggle to eat healthy food, sleep enough, and squeeze in some minimal exercise each day. Man, this is hard. Especially for wookies (6’1”, 225 lbs).

5. Limiting the interwebs

I know. Duh. But I still find myself dinking around on Facebook or with my email, even when I’m not surfing for surfing’s sake. When I notice that “I’ll just look this up quick” has turned into screwing around, I try to close everything and set a timer for a 30 minute sprint, where I’m not allowed to ALT-TAB out of word. My macbook air has a great feature where I can maximize the screen and the Dock holding Google Chrome won’t even come up at the bottom—this reminds me I’m supposed to be writing (dammit) not screwing around online. Still, this is almost as hard as the “take care of my body” tip.

Anyway, that’s how I survive a 40+hr a week job and still manage to produce piles of writing, read my annotation homework, and get my packets sent off on time.

EDIT ONE YEAR LATER: I'm checking in one year later--all of this is still true, except I've lost 15 pounds and added yoga to my daily attempts at exercise. I stopped using 750 words and just freewrite in a new Word document. A classmate started a Daily Writing Challenge spreadsheet where participants earn points by not breaking a writing chain. I've been doing this every day since January and it really helps! I'm making a lot of progress.

I still use my friends to help me talk through plot problems--I've just sold another story. I've forgotten how vital it is for me to arrange group writing. I think I'll get back into that--it will probably encourage more words out of me on weekends.

Meditation continues to save my life. http://www.springforestqigong.com/

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Where’s Karen? 2012-2013 Cons/Travel: Let’s meet up! [Mar. 19th, 2012|09:19 am]

Date 2012

May 18-20

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live!

Kansas City, MO


May 24-29

Wakonse Conference on College Teaching

Stony Lake, MI


July 6-16

Stonecoast MFA Residency

Brunswick, ME


August 16-19

GenCon Indy

Indianapolis, IN


August 30-September 3

World Science Fiction Convention

Chicago, IL


November 1-4

World Fantasy Convention

Toronto, ON Canada


Date 2013


January 4-14

Stonecoast MFA Residency

Brunswick, ME


May 23-28

Wakonse Conference on College Teaching

Stony Lake, MI


July 12-22

Stonecoast MFA Graduation

Brunswick, ME


August 15-18

GenCon Indy

Indianapolis, IN


August 29-September 2

World Science Fiction Convention

San Antonio, TX


October 31-November 3

World Fantasy Convention

Brighton, England



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New fiction “The Scarlet Cloak” appearing in The Crimson Pact 3 [Mar. 15th, 2012|08:45 am]

I am extremely excited to announce “The Scarlet Cloak,” short fiction by me telling the demon version of Little Red Riding Hood, will appear in The Crimson Pact Volume 3 anthology edited by Paul Genesse.


You’ll be able to purchase your copy in late March via http://www.thecrimsonpact.com/

or via Amazon.com


or via iTunes

(here’s a link to The Crimson Pact Volume 1 Anthology: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-crimson-pact/id430260902?mt=11)

The Crimson Pact was created to stop the Demons of Rusted Vale from corrupting and destroying their world. Manipulated to allow evil to spread throughout the multiverse , the remaining men and women of the Pact continue to sacrifice their lives to corral these wicked creatures. These are their stories of triumph and defeat.

Contributors to The Crimson Pact anthology series include New York Times Bestselling author and Campbell award nominee, Larry Correia, and many familiar and up-and-coming urban fantasy, steampunk, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy writers.

Stories appearing in The Crimson Pact Volume 3 include:

“Son of Fire, Son of Thunder” by Larry Correia and Steven Diamond

“Whispers in the Code” by Patrick M. Tracy

“The Ronin’s Mark” by Donald Darling

“Stumble and Fall” by Isaac Bell

“Singe, Smolder, Torch, Whither” by Eric Bosarge

“The Jar of Needs” by Patrick M. Tracy (flash fiction)

“Monsters on the Trail” by Patrick Tomlinson

“David in Disguise” by Kelly Swails

“Fallout from My Former Life” by Valerie Dircks

“The Recruit” by Craig Nybo

“Fight” by EA Younker

“The Third Eye” by Chanté McCoy

“A Contract Between Thieves” by Stephanie M. Lorée

“Shen Lhamo’s Daughter” by Lucy Curtis

“The Scarlet Cloak” by Karen Bovenmyer


Crimson Pact 3Flyer_img_1[5]

Daniel Alonso

Isaac Bell

Donald J. Bingle

Elaine Blose

Rebecca L. Brown

Richard Lee Byers

Larry Correia

Lucy Curtis

Steven Diamond

Valerie Dircks

Paul Genesse

Alex Haig

D. Robert Hamm

Sarah Hans

Jess Hartley

Adam Israel

Sarah Kanning

Chante McCoy

K.E. McGee

Nayad A. Monroe

Daniel Myers

Suzzanne Myers

Craig Nybo

Chris Pierson

Garrett Piglia

Lon Prater

T.S. Rhodes

Elizabeth Shack

Lester Smith

Kelly Swails

Justin Swapp

Patrick Tomlinson

Patrick M. Tracy

Kathy Watness

Barbara J. Webb

Gloria Weber

EA Younker

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