Music Monday - A Writing Sample

The following is an excerpt from a lyric war I did based on the following:
"I'm in love with my own sins." (The American Suitehearts – Fall Out Boy)


When I do it, I know it’s wrong. But I love it.
I love it. I hate it. But sometimes, I think a bigger part of me loves it.
My hand, wrapped around the knife, clenches tighter. I’ve been told all my life it’s a sin to hurt myself. My body is supposed to be “a temple.” I’m not supposed to mutilate it. Slice it. Cut it.
But I do it anyway.
The door is locked. I lean against it, knees curled up to my chest. My arm trembles. It’s not the first time I’ll do it, and it won’t be the last. This should feel normal by now. I should be able to just do it. Don’t think. Just do. Think later.
I tell myself I’ll stop when I want to. Every day that passes is deemed the day I’ll finally not do it. But there’s no other way to take away the pain. As the world destroys me, I need to destroy something. And the only thing I can actually destroy is myself.
My eyes close. Metal against flesh. Just a little less space and they’ll meet. And since I’ve done this so many times before, this time, I won’t feel a thing.
The blade sinks into my arm.
I was wrong.
I still feel something.


I took this piece of writing and modified it to put it into my novel in verse, Indelible. As an example of what can be inspired, changed, or modified from a lyric war, I've put a sample below.

Fun Friday: Wheel of Emotions

Human emotions are complicated. We're not limited to just happiness or sadness, because there are also different aspects of emotion within the main branches we have. Unfortunately, I don't know where exactly this chart is from, but I take no credit for it. However, I do think it's cool and wanted to share it.

Truth Thursday: A Break from Hashtags (Writing Sequels)

Writing is much harder than it sounds. An infinite number of problems can find ways to present themselves in a manuscript. After hours of working on deleting typos and editing out words that occur too frequently, a second or third glance will still reveal problems that were previously overlooked. To produce a good piece of writing takes patience, time, and a lot of red pens that end up thrown away not because they get lost, but because they run out of ink.

A few weeks ago, I got bored in class, so I wrote out a scene I planned for a sequel to a novel I started and finished three years ago. The scene continued and developed into a chapter, which spawned another chapter, which in turn spawned even more chapters. (They multiply like rabbits, I swear.) Now I have more than 10 chapters of a new novel staring at me. On one hand, I'm excited because it's fun figuring out where my characters have gone in their time away from me, what they're up to, and seeing how they've developed differently. However, I can't seem to turn off the editor in my brain that complains that I'm not watching out for repeated words, that the character development feels unnatural at times, and that new characters that I've added are shallow and not fleshed out even though I've already written twenty thousand words of the novel. In fact, I'm afraid that I've been wasting words instead of making sure each of them is precious.

This is not a unique problem. Many writers are afraid of writing sequels because they fear it won't be as good as the original. (We hear people talk about how movie sequels aren't as good as their originals sometimes, and we fear the same thing for our precious babies, our novels.) In fact, I don't know if I'll ever publish this sequel that I'm writing. When it's complete, I'll have to evaluate it and see if it detracts from the story it's a sequel to, if the quality measures up. To do that, however, I have to actually finish writing the novel, which will be the hard part.

See, being a writer is tough. But being a writer is immensely rewarding as well. So wherever it takes me and whatever I do with it, this is what I'll do for now. I'll let the words flow out of me, and when the reservoir runs dry because the novel is done, I'll put it aside for a time. Then I'll pull it back out and make my decision then.

It'll be months before this happens, so don't expect to hear about my decision soon. But once again, writing requires patience, time, and many red pens. And I'm ready to supply all three.

Wacky Wednesday: Literary Rambles

Looking for agents, or looking to publish? Do you wonder where you can find information on various agents, what they represent, and if they are currently open to accepting queries? Well, if that's you, then hop on over to Literary Rambles!

Literary Rambles is extremely helpful for filtering (for example, you can choose to filter agents by genre) and for checking that agents represent your genre before you query them. For example, if an agent is only interested in paranormal and fantasy novels, my realistic fiction, character-driven novel would receive an immediate pass 99.9% of the time. (There are rare cases when companies or agents will be interested in a project they normally don't represent, but this is rare, and I would advise against it. No need to build a bad rep in the publishing world before you even start publishing.)

With this site, I advise that if it's been a while since an agent has updated whether he or she is accepting queries that you do some research before querying. It will make you look much more professional, and that means you're more likely to get your manuscript looked at and possibly a publishing deal.

Happy agent hunting, and I hope this site is as useful for you as it has been for me!

Toolbox Tuesday: Writing About Dogs

Three years ago, I adopted my dear dog, Waffles, from an animal shelter. Life has never quite been the same since.

I didn't realize what it's like to own a dog and the joys of being around one until I got one myself. Now, this cutie pie has me inserting dogs into my own writing so my characters can have the joy of being a dog owner as well.

There are so many important details when it comes to writing about dogs, but I'll try to touch on the points that are most important.
  • Any dog owner should know that if your dog happens to get off its leash and is running away from you that running towards your dog is the worst thing you can do. If your dog is normal, it will think you are chasing it and continue running. This would be especially unfortunate if there is an incoming car. The right thing to do is to yell your dog's name and run in the opposite direction. Dogs in their loyalty will bolt after you, which is how you catch a runaway dog. (I mention this because I read a story once where a girl ran after her dog and facepalmed because I know this fact about them. For example, I wouldn't try to write about cats without talking to someone who owns one, so it's best to research an animal before writing about it and its behavior.)
  • When dogs meet each other, they can become fast friends and play with each other, hate each other on the spot, or take a few meetings to warm up to each other. This depends on each dog's personality, how they feel about other dogs, and general friendliness. For example, Waffles loves humans, but he'll bark at any other dog he sees in the park when I walk him (hence why I often take really weird routes to avoid them). However, he has managed to make friends with a select few dogs. Most likely, dogs will either growl at each other and act like they're going to tear each other's faces off, or they'll play with each other. As long as neither reaction is constantly written, dogs meeting each other should come off realistically.
  • Dogs will come greet you at the door unless they're really sick, they're extremely tired, or had surgery. They generally also respond to the word "walk" once they learn it (although I've heard of a dog who hated walks and would hide when the leash came out), the doorbell, knocking noises, and can be taught to go to certain family members or look for people they haven't seen in a long time. My family likes to ask Waffles where I am (since I'm in college), which often results in him sneaking into my room or sitting in front of my door.
  • Opposite of what you might think, smaller dogs (like mine) are more likely to bark at other dogs than big dogs are. Small dogs tend to think they're bigger than they are, and may also feel threatened by the presence of other dogs. 
  • If they want to be petted, dogs can be very persistent. Half the time when I sit down to write, Waffles will nudge my hand (my right hand, too!) to ask me to pet him.
  • Dogs like to have their own space sometimes. Waffles likes to crawl under my bed, there's a green rug in my room that he likes to lay on, and a corner in the living room blocked off by couches and a table that he often crawls into. Dogs do like to be around humans, but they also like to have their alone time.
  • Dogs are incredibly smart. They can sense when someone has been physically injured, when someone is sad, and when you are about to leave the house and lock him in his crate for the whole day. They will be sensitive to injured people (for example, not jumping into your arms if your arms are hurt), look at you with their huge eyes when they're sad, and when you let your dog outside to do his business before you leave, if he knows you're going to be gone for a long time, he may hide or refuse to come in.
  • Some people keep their dogs outside (usually large dogs only), some lock their dogs in a cage-like box (we call it the crate) when they have to leave the house, some people have certain restrictions for where their dogs are allowed to go (may be limited to downstairs, tile only, etc.), and some people really don't care and let their dogs sleep in their beds. Waffles' privileges got extended, but he hasn't gotten the right to sleep on my bed yet. (I'm working on it though.)
Hope this has been helpful and insightful. Do your characters have pets? Share about your writing below!

Music Monday: The Prompts Continue

Once again, please let me know if a prompt inspires you, or if you know of a really inspiring song that you want to share with others!

Otherwise, you'll be subjected to continuing to receive lyric prompts out of my limited pool of knowledge.

1. You're like my first bad habit, how am I gonna give you up? (First Bad Habit - Vanessa Hudgens)
2. Don't tell me who I should be, and don't try to tell me what's right for me. (Shut Up - Simple Plan)
3. So please let me be free from you. Please, let me be free, I can't face the truth. (Pretend - Secondhand Serenade)

Enjoy the prompts, enjoy the songs, and happy Monday!

Fun Friday: Thought-Provoking Picture

I found this quote to be very profound, and the imagery powerful and thought-provoking. What are your thoughts?

Truth Thursday: The Hashtags continue

More hashtags, because they happen to be fun and hopefully give everyone a good laugh or two.

#Writerblessing: Just reached 100 followers on my Facebook page and 100 followers on Twitter! Looking forward to meeting new readers and fans. #writerblessing #authorfun #notpopularyet #butiwillgetthere

#Writerproblems: Trying to choose between reading and writing is a constant dilemma. #writerproblems #theyrebothfun #manyincompleteonbothcounts

Hope you enjoyed this installment of #writerblessings and #writerproblems, and feel free to share your own!

Wacky Wednesday: #Pitmad

#Pitmad is a wonderful way to meet fellow writers, get attention from publication companies and agents, and in general, to have a good time. This is a contest that happens at least twice a year, if not more often. I participated in several #Pitmad contests before landing a publication deal from the one I participated in on January 8, 2014. It is important to note that this is for completed, polished manuscripts only.

The rules are as follows.

  • The tweet must be 140 characters or less, including the #Pitmad hashtag and the genre.
  • #YA = Young Adult, #A = Adult, #MG = Middle Grade, #NA = New Adult, #PB = Picture Book, and #NF = Non-Fiction. Make sure to include the genre! Some agents will choose to filter by genre, and you don't want to miss out on being chosen because you left this part out.
  • The contest runs from 8AM to 8PM EST.
  • If your tweet is favorited by an agent, go to their twitter feed and find their submission guidelines and submit your manuscript!
  • DO NOT FAVORITE IF YOU ARE NOT AN AGENT. You will disappoint fellow contesters because they'll think you're an agent. RETWEET instead if you are not an agent to support others.
  • Only tweet twice per hour per manuscript. Otherwise, you will spam the feed and annoy people, which you do not want to do in the publishing business.
That's it! The upcoming #Pitmad is going to be on March 25! I won't be participating this round because I've already got my publishing deal, but best of luck to the other aspiring authors out there!

Also, if you're going to participate, I HIGHLY recommend you write your query letter and synopsis beforehand. Chances are you'll be asked for one of, if not both of them, and you want to send your emails out as soon as possible so you'll hear back faster and your pitch is fresh on the agent/publishing company's mind!

Read more here on Brenda Drake's website. (She's one of the hosts. Send her love!)

Toolbox Tuesday: Kill Talking Heads Syndrome

*Adapted from when I blogged for The Sleepless Writers

Congrats! You’ve just finished your novel. Now, you have to edit it. Kill talking heads syndrome, show instead of tell, work out plot holes—the works. Where to begin? Fortunately, I have a little acronym that is going to be very useful for eliminating talking heads syndrome and helps writers show more instead of tell in their writing.

Here is a little sample of writing that is going to need some major editing:

            “Dance with me.”

            “You mean slow dance? With our bodies pressed close to each other and everything?”

Music Monday: Continuing the Lyric War Prompts

Hopefully, these posts are inspiring your writing, as well as introducing you to new music! Without further ado, I shall present some more lyric prompts.

1. I'm no one special, just another wide-eyed girl who's desperately in love with you. (Superstar - Taylor Swift)
2. I'd rather be anywhere else, anywhere else, anywhere else but here. (Anywhere Else But Here - Simple Plan)
3. I'm putting my defenses up, 'cause I don't want to fall in love. If I ever did that, I think I'd have a heart attack. (Heart Attack - Demi Lovato)

Enjoy, and happy new Monday!

Fun Friday: Wordle!

Wordle is a fun site someone created, where you can paste an amount of text and see art made from it. The largest words are often used, while the smaller ones do appear, but less frequently. For example, this is a Wordle of my blog.

There are lots of different patterns that can come about from using Wordle! This is a Wordle of Second Chance, my novel that will be published in July.

I even did another Wordle of the same text!

So if you have a little time on your hands and are curious about what words you often use as well as want to have something pretty and creative to show for it, well, here you go!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Truth Thursday: More Hashtags

It has occurred to me that I don't often talk about the blessings of being a writer. I have more Writer Problems hashtags that I've written than I can count at this point, so forgive me for the recycling that is going to happen. Feel free to mention hashtags of your own for the collection!

#Writerblessing: I learned to type more than 100 WPM because of typing up all my novels. #writerblessing #nolife #muchfun

#Writerproblems: That derpy moment when I realize I made a lifeguard character mention that he can't swim. #writerproblems #quickfix #whew #hecanswimnow

That's it for this week! Tune in next time for more fun.

Wacky Wednesday: Featuring Story Analyzer (Free editing help!)

Story Analyzer was created by my friend Shiraz. It's free and helps a lot with cleaning up writing. There are a variety of issues you can ask the Story Analyzer to help you look for, such as repeated dialogue tags, phrase summary, and other stats. I've used this before to look for words that I tend to overuse, to rephrase sentences to not all start with the same word, and have used it for all sorts of other general editing purposes. Again, it's free and it's extremely useful, so why not give it a shot? You'll be glad you did!

If you have a good experience with the Story Analyzer, be sure to leave a note of thanks, and feel free to comment below with questions, remarks, and other various comments.

Toolbox Tuesday: Editing Advice, Part 1

*Adapted from when I blogged for The Sleepless Writers

These are some of my pet peeves that are easily avoidable if you know what they are.

Overuse of semicolons, poor usage of semicolons, improper semicolon usages, etc.
Especially in dialogue, it’s very rare for someone to talk normally with semicolons. People don’t say “I went to the store; I got bread.” They’d probably say something more along the lines of “I went to the store and got bread” or “I went to the store to get bread.” Having a semicolon here flows unnaturally and can be reworked in order to make the dialogue sound more realistic.
The truth is, very few people actually know how to use semicolons properly, and this is probably due to the fact that they don't show up frequently. Even avid readers don’t come across semicolons often. In first person especially, semicolons can sound very weird in narration. For third person novels, semicolons can appear more frequently without seeming out of place. Use semicolons if you want to, but make sure you're using them properly, first off, and also make sure that it's appropriate for the voice you're speaking with. 

Characters describing themselves
When you run your hand through your hair, do you think to yourself, “I run my hand through my black hair”? No. So why do characters get to do that?
The above isn't so terrible, but I personally don’t think it’s necessary for readers to immediately know a main character’s description because you’re seeing the world through the MC’s eyes anyway.  That, however, is just a personal opinion. What I just absolutely cannot stand is something like the following paragraph:
“I have blond hair. I have blue eyes. I am 5’4 and I weigh 120 pounds. I have two brothers and a dog.”
Yada yada yada. Please do not do that. Readers will get bored. They don’t care to read all of that information stacked together. The same thing goes for when another character is introduced. Especially if the MC already knows the characters, you should feed readers information a bit at a time. As characters talk, maybe their eyes meet. That’s a good time to mention a character’s eyes. Maybe a character plays with their hair. Good time to mention hair color.
For those who do want their main character’s description worked into narration, there are ways to go around this. Typically I use other characters to describe the main character. Some character makes a comment about the MC’s eyes. If the MC’s hair is messy, someone else can remark that it’s a black or brown or blond mess of a bird’s nest or something similar. Be creative when describing characters. (Try not to use a character standing in front of a mirror if possible because it’s done a lot, but it’s not the end of the world if this really happens to fit into the story.)

Terrible beginnings
There are two that I see overused and that I highly dislike.
Terrible Beginning 1: Character moves to a new town
Countless books have started off like this. Characters moving to new towns wouldn’t be so annoying if it wasn’t so overdone and if main characters weren’t so whiny about moving. Can this beginning be done well? Yes. Is it? Not often. My recommendation is to try to avoid this beginning but, if it’s necessary, edit it so it’s not like every other story where a character moves.
Terrible Beginning 2: Character wakes up and takes 2000 words to get out of the house. (Basically, completely useless details.)
Beginnings of stories are very important. They set the mood and the scene. If a character takes too long getting out of bed, dressing, showering, only to go to school, I’m probably going to put the book down. Please start the story where it actually begins. It’s okay to have a story start when the character is already at school. Save the condensed version of the wake up story for later in the book for after I’m hopefully already marathoning through it.

Nondescriptive descriptions
“She gave me a casual look.”
“She was pretty.”
“He was hot.”
What do these statements tell me? Really, nothing. What does the “casual look” look like? Often times everyone’s casual look is just a little different. “She was pretty” doesn’t tell me what the girl looks like, her facial expression, if she’s standing straight or slumping, any of that. It just gives a really general statement. Same with “He was hot.” Besides, people’s general perception of beauty and hotness are quite different. And there’s more to people than just how supposedly pretty or hot they are.

If any of the above is in your writing
Don’t panic. I make myself mad with my own pet peeves sometimes. It’s understandable that sometimes some of the above is unavoidable. However, a piece of writing with everything mentioned above in it could probably use a little work. Control + F is your friend. Use it. Look for repeated words, words that don’t really describe, whatever you think you should look for. Mechanics are not the most important thing in writing, but they are certainly useful to helping readers understand what you’re trying to say.

Music Monday: Additional Lyric Prompts

As per what should hopefully be tradition each Monday from last week on, here are three quick writing prompts from songs that I happen to enjoy.

1. All this money can't buy me a time machine. (The One Who Got Away - Katy Perry)
2. When you get what you want but not what you need. (Fix You - Cold Play)
3. I must confess that I feel like a monster. (Monster - Skillet)

As mentioned last time, please send anything inspired by these lyric prompts my way if you happen to come up with something interesting, whether it be flash fiction or an entire novel. I'd love to see how this music can inspire you! If nothing, at least you have three new songs to look up.

Fun Friday: The Different Types of Rock Climbing

Fun Friday is literally random. I hope you're prepared.

For those of you who haven't heard, I injured myself rock climbing last Friday. (Which was not such a fun Friday for me.) When telling people about my injury (popped neck, right side is stiff, wrists a bit weird, soft spot in spine), they ask me, "Weren't you wearing a harness?" So this post is to clear something up about rock climbing.

There are several types of climbing. My personal preference is rope climbing because I find it's safer, I have more endurance, and I can get back on the wall if I fall off. This is the type of climbing that involves a harness and the use of a previously attached rope, requiring a belay partner. (Belaying is using the rope to make sure that if the other person falls that no dying is involved.)

When I fell, I was bouldering. Bouldering does not require the use of a harness; in fact, using the harness will probably get in the way. The routes are typically shorter and if you fall off, you have to start over. Knowing how to fall properly is key to bouldering safely. While reaching for the last hold, one of my hands found the top but then slipped, and I landed on my back with my head on the protective mat and the rest of my body on the ground. Needless to say, I am currently in pain, but alive and thankful. Some gyms will pad the entire floor, while some will only have mats. The ones that only have mats are more dangerous, and typically I climb at a gym that's entirely padded. Due to my recent injury, I will probably avoid the bouldering side for a while after my recovery.

The third type of climbing that I'm aware of is called lead climbing. This is very dangerous if you're not careful, because the other person's life is literally in your hands. If you don't know much about rock climbing, I would advise against trying to write characters who lead climb, because it's a complicated process and it will most likely not read realistically to people who actually rock climb.

Hope this post was informational, and remember, if you rock climb, prepare a mat for the likelihood that you'll fall, because it's better to have one there and not need it than to not have one there when you do.

Truth Thursday: Introducing the Writer Blessing and Writer Problems Hashtag

If you're a writer, then you understand that writer problems are a real thing. This will be used to talk about both the joys and pains of writing: hopefully one of each every week. I've been posting the #writerproblems tag with Facebook and Twitter status updates, but people seem to enjoy them so much that I decided to bring them here.

#Writerblessing: When I handed in my first newspaper article, the editors were impressed because I could use commas. Thanks, dead characters. #writerblessing

#Writerproblems: Looking up concussions and earthquakes is one of the most normal things I've done as a writer. #writerproblems #nospoilers #atleasthesalive

Look out for my next bout of snark!

Wacky Wednesday: Pitch Madness

Wacky Wednesday is for featuring different authors, websites, and other resources that may be useful. It may also be used to highlight a book I particularly enjoy.

Today's Wacky Wednesday is an event highlight! I found my publishing company through participating in Pitch Madness. I participated in the Twitter version, but for those who are interested in catching agents' attention, this event is for you!

For the original post and information, click here. This is the gist of Pitch Madness as I understand it:

  • Happens biannually (March and September)
  • Writers submit a 35-word pitch and the first 250 words of their manuscript
  • 60 entries are chosen to go on to the next round
This event is happening next on March 10, so if you have something that's ready for submission, give it a shot! Best of luck to you if you enter. Do not submit incomplete or unpolished work! Agents will not take kindly to it, and your fellow writers who are ready may not get a well-deserved spot.

Usually a twitter pitch contest will soon follow this, so don't worry if you don't get in! Besides, querying is about trying, trying, and trying again. I'll try to spotlight it when I know the date.

Toolbox Tuesday: Putting Songs or Lyrics Into Your Novel

*Adapted from when I blogged for The Sleepless Writers

Ever tried to write a song and put it into a book? Sometimes it can be a little difficult to make it work, mostly because as an author it’s not possible to let readers actually hear a character singing their song. However, there are still some things a writer should keep in mind if they’re inserting lyrics into a book, especially for writers who may not have much musical experience.

  • Try to put a tune to it if possible. Even if it’s not going to appear anywhere, there are readers out there who are musicians, and they can pick up on awkward sounding lines if they’re in a novel.
  • Try several different synonyms for words and see which one fits your song best. Sometimes “kind” will work better than “nice” in certain songs, and vice-versa.
  • Try to get people to help you improve your song. However, there might be some advice that should not be taken. This can typically be judged based on how many people say the same thing about a song.
  • Try to sing the song you’ve written. This is one of the best ways to tell if it makes sense or not musically and lyrically.

  • Don’t have a million and one stanzas. While a song is quite like a poem, too many verses and too many lyrics might do better as a character’s poem instead of a song.
  • Don’t have a million and one lines in one stanza. Musically it feels and reads very unrealistically. Quatrains (four-line stanzas) are often a good way to go. Anywhere from about 4-8 at the very most lines per stanza will do nicely.
  • Don’t focus so much on rhyming that it takes away from the overall meaning of a song. Rhyming is nice, but it is not necessary.
  • Don’t be afraid to try songwriting just because you don’t normally play music! However, also don’t be afraid of asking a friend who knows a lot about music to help you out. Just make sure this friend will be honest with you about your lyrics and their quality.

Please keep in mind all these are suggestions and not necessarily imperative to making a song. Just a few tips from someone who’s been writing songs for a while and occasionally inserting them into novels.

Music Monday: Introducing Lyric Wars

*Adapted from when I blogged for The Sleepless Writers

For those who have never heard of it, I would like to introduce a concept called “lyric wars.” A lot of writers I know already participate in a game called “word wars,” where a certain time is set (i.e. from :10-:20 of whatever hour it is, as a lot of us are in different time zones) and whoever is participating writes for that amount of time straight. In this example, everyone would write for ten minutes, then post what they wrote and get feedback from the other writers. Lyric wars are different in that one person will first choose several different songs as prompts. Those participating typically vote on which prompt they want to write, and then they all write a scene inspired by those lyrics for 5 or 10 minutes. (I typically go for 5 for lyric wars.)
Why are lyric wars so awesome? My August NaNo novel was inspired by a random lyric war. Intending for it to just be a short story, I tried to expand on the 100 words I wrote in those 5 minutes. Then those 100 words became 1000, then 2000, and then before I knew it, I was writing a novel instead of a short story for an anthology. Point is, unexpected things can happen from lyric wars. So give them a shot! The possibilities are endless.

I plan to regularly post three lyric prompts every Monday. Please tell me stories of what happens with these prompts! The goal is to inspire others. (I'm happy to look over anything you might write based off them.)

Prompts for this week:

1. Your love is where I'm falling, but please don't catch me. (Catch Me - Demi Lovato)
2. It's like the world's closing around us and we're doing just fine. (No Distance - Jason Chen)
3. Every time I fight, the scars are gonna heal, but they're never gonna go away. (No Love - Simple Plan)

Enjoy, and happy writing!