Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mental Plotting

Soon I will start my next novel. But not yet. First I had to recover from a bad cold that hit me out of nowhere. (The cough is nearly gone now.) And this weekend I'm moving back into my basement office, which my third son recently vacated. He still lives at home, but he moved to a different part of the house. I have missed my office!

So when I'm sette led I plan to sit down and write a new novel that has nothing to do with Joshua Adams and his family. My new protagonist is Nina Weston. She's tough and determined and I'm looking forward to working with her.

But not yet. I never start a new novel after Tuesday because the weekend comes too soon and I get very little writing done when my kids and husband are home on the weekend. So far now I'm busy plotting away.

Nina already has a story. In fact, I already wrote it once, two years ago, as my NaNo contribution. But she's grown quite a bit in the last two years and many parts of the old story simply don't fit any more. I can see her now. At night while drifting off to sleep I write whole paragraphs in my head. I'm almost ready.

On Monday I'm going to the eye doctor for the first time in about seven years. It probably is time for a new pair of glasses. But on Tuesday I will sit at my laptop and begin to paint Nina's life on the pages.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Another Book Finished. . .well, almost

It's been a long time. I keep trying to become more regular around here. One day I'll make it.

About three weeks ago I completed writing and revising my latest book, Silence. It still needs to be read by the editor and I know there will be changes. In fact, sometimes during the day I think of something I should have included. But my publisher warned me not to touch the manuscript until the editor has had a go at it. So I'm behaving myself.

I do have another project in the works. Last night, as I drifted off, I wrote the first couple of pages in my head. But I woke up with a bad head cold and I'm in no shape to tackle a new novel right now. Give me a few more days. After my sinuses open up and my cough abates, there will still be time.

Writing is harder these days because I'm obsessed with the 2008 presidential race. I'm deeply disappointed in the recent VP pick--she's speaking now as I type. Not impressed. I plan to vote for the other guy. The one with the funny name. The one who will work to reform the policies of the last eight years and rebuild our economy, among other things.

So that's where I am these days. I hope it won't be too much longer before I get back here with an update.

Friday, August 01, 2008


I'm back, and this time I hope to be more consistent. Tomorrow is my birthday so I thought it would be a good time to resume.

The last time I wrote, I think I was working on Silence. I still am. I finished the first draft and have gone through some revisions so I was ready to call it finished, or at least ready for the editor. But during a recent rereading I hit a snag.

Something happened in real life that related strongly to my story. The solution in the story was neat and tidy but the real life results were painful. I looked at the ending of Silence and realized I wasn't finished at all.

First I changed the ending. But I reached a dead end. That's when I knew I would have to go back to the beginning to make my new ending work. So that's where I am. I have a good 200 pages or more before I approach the ending, and I'm busy building up to that point.

I hope that, when I get there, the ending will work. This is the problem, of course, with writing by the seat of one's pants.

But I still think it's more fun that way.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Time to Read

I meant to post earlier this week, but it's been busy. This was the week of the Kentucky presidential primary and I spent the first two days canvassing for the candidate of my choice.

I've spent the last two days reading about politics. Today the blogs and websites were full of controversy. I actually became tense at times. Then I went to my candidate's blog to read more hopeful posts. That helped.

There is a time for everything, they say. For the last few weeks it has been my time to write. Now it's time for me to read. Articles, essays, blog comments, and the occasional novel. As long as words are involved, it's bound to be stimulating.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fighting the Addiction

Today was my third full day without writing. Oh, I penned some emails and, of course, I'm posting here. But that's been it. No characters. No plots. No thinking about clever ways to turn a phrase.

I miss it.

After putting my family (and my body) through marathon writing sessions during the last month (on one day I wrote 30 pages) I certainly need the break. But I don't think I can go cold turkey.

I've had a plot in mind for some time now. I even wrote a couple of pages. Tonight I opened the file. Now I've begun thinking about where I can go with this.

I won't do any marathon sessions--at least not until I'm further along in the book. But I can't just stop writing. It's not natural.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Out of Focus

As I mentioned yesterday, I have spent quite a bit of time working on my next book. For weeks I did little else. My to-do list lengthened (mental list, that is--I was too busy to actually write anything down) and my house got messier. On some nights I didn't go to sleep until 3 a.m., especially toward the end when I was sure "today would be the day" and I would finish. My characters generally had other ideas, dragging me deeper into a never-ending story (which did finally end) that began to resemble the Democratic party's primary race.

Yesterday I took a well-deserved rest. Today, I thought, I would wake up and tackle life. That is, until I opened my eyes. I was more tired than I had expected and the sky was a dismal gray. So I slumped through the day, catching up on emails and reading nearly every post in the CNN blogs.

I thought I would get back to life tomorrow, running long-postponed errands and jumping into spring cleaning, but they're predicting rain all day. Not only rain, but thunderstorms. We know that April showers bring May flowers and Mayflowers bring Pilgrims. The question in Kentucky these days is, What do May showers bring?

I crave sunshine. Really, I can't go long without it. That's a major reason why we moved to Kentucky. They say this weather is unusual--just like the countless snow days this winter. That doesn't encourage me.

This is the grayest May I've ever seen. While I was obsessed with writing my book, I could try to ignore the gloomy weather. But now what do I do?

Tomorrow I'll keep reading emails (I fell very far behind) and watch my soap. I'll try to do something productive. But I'm tempted to reopen the file of my book and start reading from the beginning again. I lived with these characters so long. I miss them. And even when something sad happens, it's better than looking out at the gloomy gray sky.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm Back!

First, I need to apologize for being gone so long. Back in March, when I last posted, I said I would be back much sooner. But for the last five weeks I've been snowed under.

What was I doing? Frolicking in Florida? Watching the soaps? Eating bon bons?

Of course not. (Though frolicking in Florida does sound nice.) I was writing.

And, as of last night, I have completed a new book. Silence, the final book in the Echoes Series, is done. And I'm relieved.

Today I didn't frolic but I did take time to do not much of anything. In the morning I napped and read. In the afternoon I caught the latest installment of my favorite soap (I've watched it off and on since college) and then put in a Fred Astaire/Audrey Hepburn movie. It's been nice.

Tomorrow I'll have to get back to work--starting with my desk. I haven't flipped the page on my planner since April 23. And my planner is under a pile of mail and snack wrappers. I'll unpack my suitcase--from my trip in March--and do some laundry. I'll rejoin the human race.

My manuscript weighed in, finally, at 450 pages. You know how a 30 minute sitcom becomes a two-hour series finale. It's kind of like that. Later I'll drop a few clues (maybe).

I am back. I plan to post here regularly now, insha Allah. If I slip up, feel free to call me on it.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, March 31, 2008

How is everyone?

I stopped writing for a couple of reasons. One, I often felt that I was writing into a void. Two, my internet program was giving me so much trouble that I couldn't make any changes to the blog without losing my internet access.

My son solved my internet problem a couple of weeks ago. And I've heard from some readers who said they missed my posts. That was all I needed.

I'm out of town now. Insha Allah, I'll be back home this weekend. Tune in for a new update.

And thanks for the encouragement!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Back to Writing

Are you writing?

So am I. Silence is shaping up. This book is taking longer than any other and I hope that means it will be better. Of course, that remains to be seen.

Oops, was I plagiarizing? I'm thankful writers aren't held to the same standards as politicians because there really is nothing new under the sun (oops, I did it again!).

Monday, February 04, 2008

Choosing Wisely

I've decided to depart from my usual discussion of reading and writing. There is a book review, sort of, in my message today. But my concentration is on the man who wrote the book.

Tomorrow millions of Americans will go to the polls or caucuses and vote for a Democratic presidential candidate. Unfortunately I won't be among them--our primary isn't held until May--but I will be watching closely to see what happens, especially in my home state of Missouri.

I'm doing what I can to make sure voters know about Barack Obama. He's more than a few nice slogans and campaign rallies. Much more.

I just finished reading Obama's first book, Dreams From My Father. He wrote that book when he was in his 30s and already by then he had vast experiences that prepared him for leadership.

Most people know that Obama attended school in Indonesia when he was young. I've always laughed at the concerns about the 'madrassah'--the main reason being that Indonesia is very secular and even their Islamic schools would be considered liberal compared to Islamic schools elsewhere. I've been to Indonesia and visited Islamic schools.What Obama did learn was that people can live vastly different lives and still have the same basic concerns. That lesson was reinforced by the time he's spent in Kenya with his relatives. Unlike other politicians, Barack Obama didn't travel to Indonesia and Kenya as a foreign dignitary, being greeted by the leaders in ritual ceremony. He lived among the people. He knows how people live in different parts of the world.

After eight years of "with us or against us," don't you think it's time for a leader who seeks negotiation over confrontation, someone who understands that people are people whether they live in brick mansions or grass huts?

And don't you think it's time for a leader who reaches across boundary lines of race, ethnicity, and party politics? We've had enough division in this country these last few years. How much more partisanship can we sustain?

I've read Senator Obama's policy statements and listened closely as he's outlined his positions in speeches. He provides a balanced approach--health care that is provided but not mandated, international relations that start with negotiation while leaving force as an option, economic solutions that start from the bottom down instead of the top up. (We've done that for 28 years and it still hasn't worked.)

Yes, he provides excitement and that's great. As a former social studies teacher I think it's wonderful that young people are buying back into the democratic process. He also provides hope. Most importantly, he will come to the White House with well-developed plans to raise this nation from the depths and help us reach our potential.

For all these reasons and more, I hope and pray that Barack Obama is the next president of the United States.

Monday, January 28, 2008


First, I'm sorry for my own silence on this blog. Sometimes I simply don't know what to say. I thought a vacation might help.

I am working on Silence, the final book in the Echoes Series. So far, I've written three or four different versions of this book and I'm still not quite satisfied. I'm working on Silence.6 now. It's coming along. I'm trying to keep my own opinions out of the book and let the characters tell me where to go. Trying to force the plot doesn't work for me.

I do think this latest version is the one you'll read. The others may pop up sometime, somewhere as short stories or novels with other characters. I like the ideas and I've saved them. They don't fit the Joshua Adams family, however.

In my last post I mentioned death. I know for certain one character who will die. I can go ahead and say that I won't kill Joshua. I thought about it but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I have been working with Joshua since 2002 and he's nearly a member of my family. When the series is done, I know I'll miss him.

Maybe that's why it's taking me so long to complete Silence. It's like sending a kid off to school the first time.

Be sure that I am working to make Silence worthy of my readers and good enough to carry the Echoes Series distinction.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What Do You Think About. . .

For the next few posts, I plan to ask you, the reader, what you think about decisions writers make.

My first question is: What do you think about the death of a favorite character?

This has been a topic of discussion on a couple of my writers' groups. Among the writers I know, there are different opinions. Some fear they will lose readers by killing a main or a favorite character. Others contend that death is part of life and our work should reflect that.

Imagine that you're reading a book and everything is going well. You like the style and you can identify, especially, with one of the characters. Now imagine that character dying--maybe from an illness or from an accident. How do you feel? Will you keep reading? Will you read the next book that writer produces or will you turn to more pleasant stories?

Some of my characters have died throughout Echoes Series books. The first death, in Echoes, was very hard to me to write and I actually mourned that character for sometime afterward.

I have been considering killing off a well-loved character. I've planned his/her (I won't give it away) death a few times but the story becomes bogged down. Maybe he/she shouldn't die.

What do you think about that?

Monday, January 07, 2008


I'm sure we all have plans. I hope 2008 will be a better year, for me personally as well as for others. I have the feeling it will be, though only Allah knows.

In March, if everything goes according to schedule, my publisher will be releasing the next book in the Echoes Series. Ripples, the fourth book in the series, is primarily about the next generation. Brad, Chris, and Isaiah are older. Their children are marrying and having children. And it's time for three of those children to take center stage.

The main characters of Ripples are Brad's son Kyle, Chris's son Isaiah, and Joshua's daughter Jennifer. They're all near the same age and have had similar experiences while growing up but young adulthood presents a special challenge to each of them.

Kyle must deal with limitations and loss. Isaiah confronts his father in a battle of faith and will. Jennifer navigates the challenges of a multi-cultural marriage and struggles to define herself.

In 2008 I also plan to attend more book fairs and Islamic conferences, insha Allah. Maybe I'll see you at one of them!