The Math in Writing


One way I use math in writing is to determine pacing and plotting. I don’t want to use up all my planned plot points too quickly…or have them all at the end in a big dump. I know I’m at the end of Act I right now. I know what my midpoint action will be, and where in the word count it will fall. I can figure out how much narrative and how much action comes between now (18,000 words) and then (35,000 words).


When Life Steals Your Words

This week has been full of good things, but also some inconveniences. We’ve had a lot of fun with our homeschool co-op (hiking, visiting Fellows Riverside Gardens, learning about recycling with the Green Team…), but I also battled a bad round of allergy yuck over the weekend and it followed me into the week. I do think our hike at the Lily Pond on Tuesday helped my body recover.

This weekend, I’m traveling to St. Louis for a cousin’s wedding. I’ve had so much to do to get ready for the trip, that I barely squeezed in writing a chapter of THE MYSTERY OF DOGWOOD CROSS.  It took the better part of a day to squeeze out 1800 words. Usually it takes about two hours to do it.

I got it done, though. I sent it to my friends who edit (one does macro/storyline edits, one does grammar checks, both hound me on fluidity and catch typos and I love them dearly for being brutal with my writing).  I got my edits back.  They both said the chapter was good, it was fine, but…it wasn’t my best.

Which I knew.

And I don’t want to publish something for the sake of publishing.

There will be no new chapter this weekend, even though I’d planned it. I’d WRITTEN it. But I don’t want to do my readers a disservice. And even talking about the failings of what I HAD written, I was able to come up with better ideas, ones that thrill me.

Hopefully, the joy will be passed on with whatever I come up with instead.


Storybird Tip: Hard Returns from Word into Longform Books

I have loved my experience with Storybird so far.

I have, however, hit a snafu when posting chapters into the new longform books. I tend to write in Word (when I’m on my MacBook) or Pages (when I’m on my iPad). I also tend to do it in traditional manuscript format, like this:


ImageRight now, when I copy all and paste into the longform chapter generator, it holds my hard return, but there’s no extra line spacing between paragraphs. I’ve had to go back and add in extra hard returns at the end of each paragraph. Not a big deal at all, and I’ve been able to catch some typos that way!  But at the same time, I have missed a few breaks that were supposed to be in there. I can go back and edit them, but the story has to go through moderation again, which delays the publication process.

So I tried something crazy. So, so crazy, y’all.

I opened up the chapter I wanted to publish next, in Word.

I went to Find/Replace.

And in the box, I did this crazy, crazy thing:


Yep. I replaced all ^p (which is how Word reads paragraph breaks in code) to ^p^p and it added that second return that I needed. Then I could copy and paste directly into the longform editor and voilà! No missed paragraph breaks!

So crazy, amirite?

Anyway, I hope this helps other Storybirdies who write in Word! I suppose I should get back to work on Chapter Six, huh? Oh, and yes, that first image the very beginning of the chapter. 😉

Quiet times in quiet nooks

It’s a quiet morning here, with a chapter that needs written and then a trip to the library planned this afternoon, where I’ll work on streamlining the school year for our portfolio. I’m excited for this next week because it’s a lot of time at home, punctuated with time with friends. With all the travel we’ve done (and it picks up again next weekend!), it’s so good to have quiet times in quiet nooks, like this one:

Storybird Longform Launch / The Mystery of Dogwood Cross


ImageI’ve been closed-mouthed about something awesome for months and months now, but I can finally share! My novel, THE MYSTERY OF DOGWOOD CROSS, is part of Storybird’s longform novel launch. Step for step, it’s been the coolest experience. Highlights include:


* working with a genius like Molly O’Neill (look her up, you’ll see what I mean) (!!!!) (still get excited, yep!)
* having Ingvard the Terrible come on board to create the most perfect illustrations possible for the book, I love it all, you don’t even know!
* finding out which other authors were involved with their own books (I fangirl these people! I have their books on my shelves and/or have been following them for years!)
* being able to write the kind of book I searched for and devoured as a kid
* having direct access to the great feedback that’s already come in from the early readers
* watching some of the great things about traditional publishing stick, but reinventing the wheel for today’s social media-inclined roadways
* not having to worry about V while she creates and reads other users’ stories — the site is extremely good about protecting kids and their information
* being able to experiment with serialization, just like I’ve wanted to do for years now (right now I’m posting a new chapter once weekly, but have the freedom to post more often if I desire!)



For more info about the new Creative Partners program and Longform books, check the link.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

I’ve written books with strained relationships between moms and their teenage girls before, but what I love about my current project is the easy relationship between my protagonist and her mom. They don’t look like one another, they don’t have to carve out “quality time”, and even though her mom is working while they’re on their summer adventure, she knows she has someone in her corner.

I have that in my mom. We’re hardly the same person, even though we share similar interests (books, writing, history, travel), but I know without a doubt that she loves me and would do anything for me (as she would for any of her kids). I try to repay that by being EASY. Easy to be around, easy to please, etc.  It’s wonderful, seeing my daughter who is stepping into tweendom, honoring me in similar ways. I love spending time with her, even though we’re very different people. Sure, we have our moments (we’re both definitely fallible humans), but she’s easily one of my favorite people.

I wanted to capture some of that good relationship, and my hopes for our future, in this book. And so far, I’m pleased with the results.