Monday, October 31, 2011

Light Bulb

I like pen and paper better than my Mac. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my laptop. It took me literally 49 years to get one. Yeah, yeah, yeah...slight exaggeration to point out that owning aMacBook Air is a dream come true.

That being said, I still can't live without the feel and look of pen on paper. And I think that's what's been slogging me down with all this synopsis writing rigamarole (isn't that a fun word?). The creative process doesn't work as well for me by simply typing words. I need to draw out a plot. Literally. Draw.

Seeing a story in picture form, at least it's bare elements, makes much more sense in my head than seeing it typed out. I'm not talking sketch worthy art pieces or even little stick figures. Just the act of drawing a mountain shape on a paper and organizing major plot points on that line gets the ol' juices flowing.

Writer takeaway value of the day...get out your Crayolas. It's okay if you need to color to get a story right. I just gave myself permission, so here's yours. Go for it.

And if you'd like me to post your picture, send it to me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fresh Batteries

After spending my entire writing time yesterday slogging through a synopsis for book 2 in my series and coming away with a lame-oh story idea, I was pretty depressed about the whole situation. Not blow-my-brains-out kind of depressed, but certainly eat-a-quart-of-Ben-and-Jerry's kind of down. Writing is sure fattening.

Anyhoo, today I met for a few hours with an author buddy of mine, superstar Julie Klassen, and in two hours we not only came up with a completely new story, but sketched out book 3 as well. Whewie! I feel completely energized!

So to celebrate, I had a large piece of chocolate cake.

Yeah...writing is sure fattening.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hear That?


Word Count: 0

Sentence of the Day:

As you can see, the count of shame is still at zero. I've got my first book all mapped out and ready to write but I'm forcing myself, no matter the shame, to wait to start writing it until I've mapped out the other 2. So my goal for today is to get one of those done. Can I do that all in 1 day? Beats me.

Never fear though. If you listen real hard, I'll murmur yet another tidbit from The Plot Whisperer...

"You have written some fine prose. You feel good about your characters. The exotic world is unique and the dramatic action exciting. Now it is time to explore what your story is saying.

When it comes to understanding the thematic significance of your story, be patient and allow the deeper meaning of your story to evolve naturally from the story itself. Every day, stand back from your plot planner and concentrate on the whole story."

The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson
pg. 59

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Nope, I'm not speaking in tongues. That's writer speak for National Novel Writing Month and November is the month. I'm considering doing it this year...if I can figure out which novel to work on. With 3 different projects all floating around in my noodle, it will be tough to decide which to devote an entire month to.

If you've got a story running laps in your brain, here's the link for the challenge:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nix the Loud Mouths


Word Count: 0

Sentence of the Day:

I must admit, it is a little depressing to continue writing zero for a word count. Note to self: Lay off the cold medications and start writing!

On the up side, though, I finished mapping out a synopsis for book 1 in the Bow Street Runner trilogy yesterday. That's got to count for something. Maybe I should add a Thinking Really Hard category.

Anyhoo, here's another tidbit from The Plot Whisperer...

Don't tell a character's backstory until the readers have had a chance to know him.

Just as when you meet someone for the first time, begin by showing the character on his best behavior. Show off his strengths. Hint at his weaknesses and flaws, but keep them in the background. This gives the reader time to get to know and like the protagonist. As the reader becomes comfortable with the character, he is more apt to endure the protagonist's flaws.

Yeah, who likes a loud mouth that only talks about themselves when you first meet them?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Plot Whispering


Word Count: 0

Sentence of the Day:

Yeah, still at a big fat zero, and probably will be for at least another week or possibly two. Coming up with story ideas isn't that hard. It's the ironing out of details that wrinkles my brain. So my goal by the end of this week is to have 2 separate trilogies mapped out (already had a start on one of them from a year ago). We'll see if that happens.

To spur me on, however, I read a book over the weekend. The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Alderson. A few takeaways:

- A story is about a character transforming her weaknesses into strengths.

- Writing is a process. Get the words down. Later you can go back and be brilliant.

- The beginning of any entertaining and well-crafted story foreshadows where the character will be at the end.

- A villain is always an antagonist, but not all antagonists are villains.

Good fodder for thought, especially when thinking out a synopsis.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Partners in Crime

Yesterday I was a bit locked up and didn't have time to write a thing. I've run away to Iowa for a long unleashed weekend and ended up in the Squirrel Cage Jail. I'm not exactly sure what a squirrel cage looks like, but this place was like a 3-story hamster wheel turned on its side. Built in the 1880's, the place housed prisoners in spoke like rooms of the cage.The jailer turned a crank which spun the whole cell block so that only 1 cell faced the door at a time. Great way to prevent mass exodus escapes. Horrible fate if a fire were to break out.

So what in the world does this have to do with writing a novel (the one I should be working on instead of playing with wild abandon)?

Not only am I gaining valuable historical insight, which is my chosen genre, but I'm here with my writing partner in crime...

Krazy Kelly Klepfer.

KK and I started a novel writing adventure about 5 years ago called Out of the Frying Pan. It's a zany adventure with two old women in a retirement community. Not historical, but definitely hysterical.

I'll get back on track next week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I wasn't even sure what the surprise was going to be today, but God sure pulled off a whopper on my behalf. So here's my news of the day...

I got an agent. After languishing on desk after desk, someone finally yanked me out of the slush pile. I expect you'll be seeing my name in the #1 slot on the New York Times Bestseller list any day now.

Okay, so maybe not. But perhaps if I schedule another surprise day...who knows?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blogdom's Not So Scary

Day 2

Word Count: 0

Sentence of the Day:

You'll notice my word count is still at zero. Yep. Still haven't officially started chapter 1. I did, however, get my back cover copy written and half the synopsis.

My new dapper hero is Nicholas Brentwood. Haven't figured out what he looks like yet, but you can bet he's drop-dead hunka-hunka. He's got a past as treacherous as the gin-crazed streets of 18th century London, but never fear...he's God's man now and a lawman to boot.

Hayley Sedgwick, however, is a whole different animal. She's a spoiled rich girl who's daddy is up to no good. But as long as he supplies her every need, she doesn't care a flying fat rat what he does.

Life will get interesting when Brentwood is assigned as her bodyguard, eh?

So that's where I'm at. Tune in tomorrow for more of the saga. Wait a minute. I teach tomorrow. Writing time might be a little scrunched. Hmm.

Tune in tomorrow for a whole new segment: Surprise of the Day. Not sure what that is yet, but hey...that's what surprises are all about.

One last thing. I see the potential for boatloads of bantering with my commenters, so feel free to comment away. I'll answer you back, sometimes promptly, always irreverently.

Monday, October 17, 2011!

I know. I know. I said I'd never blog. Everybody and their dog has a blog, so what in the world could I possibly have to say that anyone would be interested in reading? Is it seriously crucial information to know that I ate frozen pizza for din din last night or that my dachsund threw up on the rug?

That being said, here I am. Which begs the question...what's the point of Writer Off The Leash?

I'm embarking on a journey and this is my travel journel. Here I will share my thoughts, experiences, and gut reactions from start to finish of a novel.

If you're a wannabe author interested in the process, or merely a curious onlooker that loves gawking at train wrecks, this is the place for you. Hang on to your hats. Here we go.


Word Count: 0

Sentence of the Day:

Established a blog site. Obviously you've found it. Can't figure out how to customize the stupid background. Note to self: corner a teenager today and have them change it for me.

Today my plan is to come up with some kind of story line. A synopsis, so to speak. My research assets to date are Viking era, medieval, and Regency. I figure I'll stick with one of those so this go-around I don't have to recreate the wheel. Since medievals and Vikings are tough-if-not-impossible to sell, I'll pick door number two: Regency.

Interests: Bow Street Runners, tunnels beneath London, indentured servants, Bethlem Royal Hospital (Bedlam), Newgate/Bridewell, Tiburn jails

Being that I've just used up an hour of my time figuring how to get this far on the blog, that's enough for today.
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