Tag Archives: novel

NaNo, NaNo…

The first full week is here. crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbHow’s everyone doing? So far, I’ve done better than I anticipated. We’ll see if I can keep it up. I’ve followed some of the NaNo chatter, from ‘I’m getting nowhere,’ to ‘Yeah me, got 2,600 words today.’ One list I follow on Facebook has a Google doc where everyone can upload their goals and how they did toward them each day. There is a lot of support out there for this event. Whether you’re struggling or just want some interaction through the experience check out other NaNo competitors and embrace a little socialization. 🙂

Love this piece of advice on writing a novel from Brian Klems:

Stop trying.

Your novel needs less “trying” and more “doing” from you. Like Yoda said, Do or do not. There is no try.



Filed under Writing

What’s Up, Wednesday?

ButtonSmallNoBorderWhat am I reading? (Yes, I’m avoiding writing for the moment) I’m reading Her Last Breath by Linda Carillo. I finished Heather Gudenkauf’s One Breath Away, and it was amazing. It looks like I have a thing for books with breath in the title, doesn’t it?

Now, about last week’s goal on the Ready. Set. Write Challenge… I’m happy to report that I completed the three chapter revisions that I needed to do this week in spite of an amazing number of interruptions. They were hard-fought for but completed, and it allows me to move on to the next section. YEAH!!! Phew.

My goal for this next week is more complicated. (Cause why not, right?) I want to complete three more chapter rewrites AND complete another section of my series bible. I completed a section this last week, and it wasn’t even on my goal list. 🙂 Yeah, me! We’re not going to think about all the company here this week or our boys coming this weekend…nope, not going there. I will get these things done even if it’s 2 a.m. Where there’s a will…

At the end of the week, I may look like this:



How did you do this week?


Filed under Writing

Random Acts of Kindness


***This post is part of the Random Acts of Kindness Blogfest by Wayman Publishing, May 27 – 31, 2013. Visit the blogfest for free downloads of ebooks, including Open Doors: Fractured Fairy Tales.***

Not only is this a great opportunity for us to focus on the positive in a world increasingly concentrated on the negative, but it is important that we are all aware of the importance of keeping the kindness going. Check out E.C. Stilson’s blog and the other blogs participating and sign up to share random acts of kindness yourself.

Like many people, I’ve had many occasions where someone caught me off guard. It can take a lot of different forms. For instance, when I was raising small children and living paycheck to paycheck, and I wanted to write but had nothing but paper to do it on. It didn’t deter me. I had a complete novel on legal pads when my parents showed up at my door one afternoon with my first word processor, brand new and all mine. It wasn’t my birthday or a holiday. It was a random act. Not only was it a perfect gift, but it was a validation of who I was. My folks were saying they believed in me. I cried.

At an awards ceremony, my students stunned me by turning the tables and presenting me with bouquets of flowers and thanks before they moved to the high school. The flowers died, but the hugs and validation of their thank you’s did not. They graduated this year. I drove across the state of Kansas to attend their grad parties. I love them. I cried.

Like most teachers I have received many gifts over the years. However, some stick out as particularly awesome because they were perfectly geared to me. One student found a first edition of Huckleberry Finn, knowing I was a Twain fan, he brought it to me with a touching inscription inside. Another student donated money to a homeless shelter in my name. When I found out I was moving, a student brought a flower bouquet to my home so I would know she was going to miss me. Yeah, I cried.

It really isn’t what people do. It’s the fact that they care enough to do it. And it can be something simple and small. It can be unexpected in source or object. The only thing that doesn’t change is the importance of keeping the kindness going. We are all in this walk through life together. If we aren’t there for each other, it’s a much sadder journey.

Other Random Kindness Bloggers:

EC Stilson

Dena Netherton

Mayor of Crazyville

Katherine Valdez

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Filed under The Life, Writing

Introducing Jennifer McMurrain

Quail Crossings

Quail Crossings

I first met Jennifer at the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI) conference in Oklahoma City. High energy and excitement, she was a boon to my veteran (code for older person) spirit. Her writing is reminiscent of another time and place providing the reader with a journey through time. I asked Jennifer a few questions to help you get to know her and her work.

How would you describe Quail Crossings to someone who has not read your work?

Quail Crossings is a story of an unlikely family coming together during the harsh reality of the Great Depression. Dovie Grant has just lost her husband and only child in a car accident, leaving her alone with her father on their farm, Quail Crossings. Since he’s getting older, he needs some help on the farm and hires an 18-year-old boy who’s caring for his three siblings. This does not make Dovie happy. She’s trying to deal with her grief and doesn’t want these children running around. It doesn’t help that there’s a 14-year-old girl who doesn’t want to be there either, so she gets into all kinds of trouble trying to get her brother fired. During Black Sunday, the worst dust storm this country has ever known, they must come together to find one of their own or risk losing her forever.

How would you describe your writing style?

I would describe my writing style as laid back and character driven. I never sit down expecting to write the next great American novel. I’m never going to string eloquent words together to impress you with my vocabulary and use of meter. I just want to tell you a great story, one that makes you love my characters and keep turning the pages, because you have to know what’s gonna happen next. I want you to laugh with them, cry with them and rejoice with them.

What are you reading now?

Right now I am reading Beauty Queens by Libba Bray which is making me snort laugh and A Matter of Trust by Sherrilyn Polf, who is an excellent author and a good friend of mine.

Who designs your covers?

The fantastic Linda Boulanger from TreasureLine Publishing designed the cover for Quail Crossings. But I am fortunate to have a talented sister, Brandy Walker, from Sister Sparrow Graphic Designs who will be doing my future covers. She’s already designed for three of my short stories, Thesis Revised, Emma’s Walk, and Footprints in the Snow, which you can get for free on www.smashwords.com. Brandy is so talented, I would recommend her even if she weren’t my sister. Her work speaks for itself.

Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about your first job, the inspiration for your writing, any fun details that would enliven your page.

Good to Know Fact #1 – Every novel has a “muse” song. My stories don’t fully come alive until I find a song that sums it up for me. The minute I hear that song the book becomes a movie preview in my head, which tells me the tone and voice needed to make it a successful piece of work. Every night before I write, I close my eyes and listen to that song. I cannot begin until I know what the muse song is.

 Good to Know Fact #2 – I am a trained snake/alligator wrangler. I’m no Crocodile Hunter, but with the correct tools I can remove a venomous snake and/or alligator from your house. This is not something I do often because as clumsy as I am, I’m pretty sure I’d end up on YouTube getting my hand bit off or taking a snake bite to the nose.

Good to Know Fact #3 – I am fascinated by cryptozoology, the study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals (example, Big Foot) usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence. Had I known such a thing existed in college I would’ve majored in it. Instead, I’m about 12 hours short of a Wildlife Biology degree, opting for a Bachelors in Applied Arts and Science in order to finish quickly before a move. As much as I love cryptozoology, I’m pretty sure I’d wet my pants and run screaming from the forest if I ever ran into a creature such as Big Foot.

Advice for other writers?

Get your butt in the chair. It’s as simple as that. You want to write, then you HAVE to write. You can’t talk about it, read about it, think about it… you have to do it. Even if you think it stinks, keep writing. Writing is like every other profession, the more you do, the better you’ll become.

What is your next novel project?

My next novel is a paranormal romance entitled, Winter Song. It actually won 1st place at the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. contest in 2011 in contemporary romance. Should be out in the spring (fingers crossed).

One common piece of advice for writer’s is write what you know. Writers are all over the map on it. Where do you stand on this one?

As much as I agree you have to have some knowledge of what you’re writing, you can always research and learn it. I guess what I’m trying to say is you don’t have to have lived it to know it, if that makes sense. I didn’t grow up during the Great Depression. I have never known what it’s like to feel poor or hungry. But I wrote about it after interviewing people who did and hopefully, I did their experiences justice.

That being said, when it comes to emotion, if you’ve lived through that particular emotion, for example, grief, it’s a lot easier to write it. I think it makes for a stronger response from your reader.

So a little of both, I guess. But never let lack of “experience” stop you from getting in the chair and writing. If I only wrote what I “know” they wouldn’t be very interesting books.


Filed under Writing

NaNoWriMo – Good Luck to All

Writers across the net are gearing up for the annual writing fest known as National Novel Writing Month in which the goal is to complete a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s an amazing journey undertaken by many every year. Last year our writer’s group got involved for the first time, officially. (We’d done our own version during a less busy time of the year) For me, it is a one-time experience. I loved doing and being able to say I produced 50,000 words in 30 days but frankly, they were worth little, and I developed some horrid habits in my need to reach the word count. Passive structure provides a higher word count…just saying.

People participate every year successfully so this is definitely a good event but like everything, it isn’t for everyone. The process for writers differs and some of us cannot survive under the pressure cooker of NaNoWriMo. I wrote my YA in six weeks. It wasn’t perfect, but it had a solid plot. What I wrote in 30 days was a mess, wandering all over the place because I didn’t have time to stop and assess it. Like most people, I had a job and a family. I also had a sick father so maybe my mind didn’t cope with that 30 day game as well. At any rate, I’m excited for the people participating this year. It is a great feeling to meet that deadline and receive that, “You did it!”

Good luck to all!

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Post Conference High

There is nothing like a writer’s conference to give a writer a natural high. Spending time with writers and agents in an arena where it’s all right to discuss nothing but writing and writing related things is as good as it gets for us. I don’t have to defend my interest in a random person in a restaurant. My fascination with the way someone walks or the conversation at the table next to us (as interesting to me as the one at my own) is acceptable to everyone else in the conference world. They get it. I don’t get weird looks. No one calls men in white coats to bring jackets or nurses with medication to make me catatonic. My particular weirdness lets me fit in with everyone else. Phew!

OWFI is an awesome conference which is why we attend every year. It offers so many opportunities to attendees. The contests, the presenters, the agents, editors, publishers, authors, and the importance of opportunities to pitch to those publishing officials cannot be underestimated. This conference is a win for Novel Clique every year. This year was a blast. We enjoyed time with agents; Louise Fury, Jessica Sinsheimer, and Emmanuelle Morgen, at a buzz session on Friday night. We were also lucky enough to pitch to these ladies who made that nerve-wracking experience so easy and pleasant. It was an excellent adventure that I recommend to every writer truly seeking publication.

What conferences do you attend? What is it about them that gets your writer’s juices flowing?


Filed under The Life, Writer's Conferences