Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Notes from a reformed pantser…sort of.

From Google (thewritepractice.com/plotters-pantsers):   A pantser is someone who, “flies by the seat of their pants,” meaning they don't plan out anything, or plan very little. Some people, like me, call themselves “plantsers,” which means they're in a little of both. In reality, most people are plantsers, but some tend to lean heavily to one side.

From the Urban dictionary online:  Pantser: A NaNoWriMo term that means that you 'fly by the seat of your pants' when you are writing your novel. You have nothing but the absolute basics planned out for your novel. This outlook towards writing is often opposed by the 'planner', who knows exactly what is going to happen, when it will happen, and where it will happen. There is often enmity between the two types of writers.

From www.nownovel.com/blog/plotter-even-youre-pantserPlotters tend to plan out the story in extensive outlines before they even begin the writing process.

I often get asked what I am as a writer. Am I a pantser or a plotter when it comes to writing my stories? My biggest answer thus far has been I am a pantser, plain and simple, BUT with one caveat, I do know where my story will end. I’ve always held to the notion that I am 90% pantser and 10% plotter, with the 10% being a simple map of where I am going to end up at.

As an author, I love listening to the characters and where they want to go with the story. I’ve heard other writers say this is much like “channeling” for lack of a better definition. The story and the characters lead you organically how they want things to happen with a little planning on your part. Other characters will “show up” when they are needed.

A good example of this was with my first novel Elemental Awakening. I knew the gist and ending of the story, but as I began to write, a main character, Raze, showed up without any planning on my part. He had a definite “voice” and a fully developed idea of who he was. It shocked me when he casually wandered onto the page. He ended up being the main driving force behind what was happening to the main character.

My story planning evolved a little on my fourth book when I decided I’d like to plan the “character” arcs of those in Torn, The Shilund Saga, book 2. I sat down with index cards and wrote each character’s name on it and what was going to happen to each of them. Then I sat down and began the journey with them. Still, the characters told the story and I simply listened.

I liked the index cards so much, I went with the idea on a bigger scale and bought presentation "post it notes" paper with smaller sizes and stuck the large sheet on my wall. I put the list of the characters on it and then used smaller post it’s to put the main character arcs and plot points down on the paper. This guided the entire process on my fifth book, The Dawning of Scarlett.

My crazy wall

Another thing I did that helped my writing immensely, is I purchased “Scrivener” to help me keep my notes and character’s organized and even transposed some of what was on my board into Scrivener to assist with writing when I wasn’t at home and couldn’t just turn my eyes to look at the major plot points.

Now, I’ve started Redemption, book 3 of The Shilund Saga and I thought I’d try the “snowflake method” of outlining. I had my goal word count, coupled with my character arcs and set about to outline the entire book. I was actually surprised at how much I was able to put down and surpassed my 50 chapter goal and outlined through 69. It felt epic. So I’m starting the writing and we shall see how it goes. I wasn’t so stringent in my outlining that I haven’t allowed for characters to decide to “pop” in like Raze did. But I at least have more of a detailed road map of the story. This is a first for me.

I sat down with my writing group over the weekend and was discussing this very issue and was told by one of my writing friends they are a “hard core” outliner. I was fascinated. So I asked what they do when the story organically wants to go in another direction. They told me they then go back and adjust their outline to account for the change of direction. Ah, so not as hardcore as they thought. They agreed that sometimes an outline changes when a character wants to go another way.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I agree with the notion that thewritingpractice.com posted with their definitions that most writers are “plantsers” and tend to like one way more than another, ie more of the pantser way or the plotter way.

I’ll let you know how this goes.  I might be converted to lean more towards the plotting way of a plantser.

Happy writing!!

Good additional reading:

If you want to know more about Scrivener

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

What? Me? A full time writer? Yep.

I am now a full time writer.  Woohoo!!  I have been working towards this goal for three years and now I sit, computer at hand, ready to conquer the world of Young Adult/New Adult fiction. 


Okay granted, it’s pretty early on. But still.  I feel a little frenetic and lost in figuring out how to approach this.  What’s that you say?  I simply need to write?  Well, not so fast. 

Even though I’m an adult, I am still learning the lesson about other people’s lives and way they approach things is not necessarily how I have to.  Sounds like a pretty easy thing to get, but I have to keep relearning it every day.

Initially coming into this full time writing gig, I was thinking I’d have this set schedule of half day of writing and half day of editing just like one of my favorite authors.  Day one was my first attempt at it, but I have to admit I felt like an abject failure.  I found I’d write for an hour and then need to focus somewhere else for a moment to give my brain a break.   Then I’d want to chide myself for not remaining steadfastly focused.

On day two I decided to try again and about midway through I flung off my self imposed expectations and just do what felt right.  The writing felt easier and cleaner and quiet honestly, I felt as if I could breathe.    I listened to where my thoughts wanted to go.  If I was going along and I wanted to say stop for a second and check my phone, I did.  I know that sounds silly that I had to give myself permission to do that, but I living under a demand to simply write and not allow anything in there that wasn’t…well…writing.   

Admittedly I have a touch of OCD. If I think too hard and long on something I need to shift to something else to allow for a break.  Maybe I’m normal that way, maybe I’m not, but this shifting didn’t fit into my mold of what it is to be a full time writer.  The author whose scheduled I had initially crafted my own from is incredibly focused and has been doing this full time for many years.  It is a rhythm that works for her.  She may have developed that schedule after many trials and errors, but the bottom line is that it’s hers.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be mine.

It’s funny, but I find that my ridged expectation of my writing schedule was exactly the opposite of what I eventually did when I decided to quit to write full time.  I had felt a call to write full time, but I had some authors who openly chided me and told me that I should wait until I was moderately successful, because that is how they did it. If I didn’t do it their way I would be surely to fail.  That really scared the ever-living crap out of me.  Another writer told me that they only way they succeeded was they simply quit their traditional job and wrote, wrote, wrote until they were successful.  I was in a war zone between the “don’t do it” to the “throw caution to the wind” parties.   Eventually I had to decide to do what was right for me and no one else.  I had to quit listening to both camps and be who I am. 

Therefore, that is what I am going to do from here on in with my approach to my time.  I’m going to do my schedule in a way that feels right to me and only me.  For those of you who email me and ask how you should do it, I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that.  Eventually you will find your own approach because there is no right or wrong way. 

Wish me luck, throw a penny into a well for me or say a prayer.  I think I’m going to need it.

Monday, November 24, 2014


So, I sit here on my bed with various pages and notes wrapped around me like a border.  I tend to collect scraps of paper and business cards like some people collect socks.  My problem is that I have a hard time trying to organize them most days.  It's not until I succumb to the absolute need to make sense out of all the story ideas and random thoughts that I clean up the clutter.

Add to that I am once again in the throws of NaNoWriMo.  And yeah, okay, it’s November 24th and I’m only 17,655 words into what should be a 50,000 word plus story in 6 days, but hey no pressure.  Honestly, I don’t think I’m going to make it through NaNoWriMo this year.  It is disappointing, but the reasons are good. 

The main reason is the world building for the story that I started for NaNoWriMo.  I’m writing a Sci-Fi YA romance/adventure and I have to make sure I understand the rules for the world, I’m building or the writing just won't stand up.    If I can’t wrap my mind around the rules, how can I expect a reader to get it and to follow along?  So today I did nothing but make sure I understood all the parameters for each character and their respective arcs, along with what make their world unique.

The other reason is that I just re-released a book and am trying to edit two others.  Last year I didn’t have that problem and so NaNoWriMo was a lot easier to win. 

The bottom line is that I’m okay with no winning this year.  Mainly because I think I really got the lessons last year from competing in it.  One, you learn that you can complete a first draft fairly quickly.  Two, you are a better writer than you give yourself credit for.  And third, you learn to embrace your inner writer.  NaNoWriMo is a wonderful experience and one I wouldn’t trade for the world.  But for this year, I’m okay with the possibility of not winning. 

What about you? 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Queen City Indie Con 2014

This past weekend, I attended my first ever convention as an author. I've come away feeling a little invigorated and a little overwhelmed.  Why you ask?  I'll get to that.

Queen City Indie Con has come and gone.  I learned a lot, met a lot of great fans, sold some books and signed, signed, signed!  But that was the point, right?

Day 1 - October 24, 2014

The event was held in Memorial Hall in the "Over the Rhine" area of Cincinnati.  The historic hall is beautifully maintained and was the perfect setting for great discussions on how to be better at the craft of storytelling.

I was excited and nervous as I sat there and watched all the other indie authors and some readers fill the hall and sit down.  It was awesome to think I was among other writers! Other people who were working equally as hard as me to get their books out and to make a name for themselves.  I tried to remain calm and composed, but it was hard.

Abbi Glines

The main speaker to open the convention was Abbi Glines (http://www.abbiglines.com).  I loved her!  She opened her talk with a short video that featured a few friends of hers, such as Jennifer Armentrout, EL James, Gena Showalter and a few more, who discussed how they got into the crazy world of writing.

Abbi shared about the challenges of starting as a stay at home mom to eventually making it to published author.  I loved hearing about her journey.

Then it was all about the panels, and what great panels they were.
Jayne Rylon, MR Polish, Josh Owens and Tonya Kappes

Sara Celi, LP Dover, Wendy Owens, Samantha Young and Georgia Cates

Chanda Hahn, AnnaLisa Grant, Josh Owens, Jayne Rylon and Robyn Peterman

Michele G. Miller, Amy Bartol, Denise Grover Swank and Tonya Kappes

MR Polish, Aleatha Romig,  Amy Evans, Abbi Glines and Tara Sizec

The closing speaker was Samantha Young.  When I spoke with her later, she explained how nervous she was, but you couldn't tell it.  She inspired me with the story of her journey and how after self publishing 10 books she finally got her first traditional publishing contract with Penquin.   She took us down the differences of being a self published author to the traditional signed one.

Day 2 - Let the fun begin!

Abbi Glines
The VIP signing was scheduled at 1:30.  So before the doors opened, Sara Shirley and I went to get a few pics with the authors that were there. We became fangirls over some really great writers.


Sara Shirley, Amy Bartol and me

 I absolutely loved Amy Bartol! She was so gracious to me and Sara Shirley. After we asked for a picture with her, she wanted to see our tables and get signed swag from us! She took the time to encourage us as writers and even celebrated my first signing as an author.

Amy was the bomb! I will forever be a fan of her.
Sara Shirley, Samantha Young and myself.

Chandra Hahn

Me, Tara Sizec, Georgia Cates and Sara Shirley

The doors opened at 1:30 for VIPs and the main part of the signing was from 2:00 to 5:30.

My assistant, Tonia Keigley and I, ready for the fun

I'm ready to sign!

Later in the evening, the awards ceremony was held.  Tiaras were handed out to the lucky winners!

All in all, I had an awesome time!  Nothing like rubbing shoulders with other new writers and learning from the seasoned ones.  At the beginning of this post, I stated I came away feeling a little invigorated and a little overwhelmed.   The invigorated part I just explained, but the overwhelming part was just realizing the commitment and hard work it takes to make it in this field.  You have to be consistent and focused.  But in the end, it does pay off.  You need to learn your craft, build your readership and then in turn, help those that are just starting off.

I can't wait for next year!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Special Guest - Sherrie Henry

Big thank you to Jennifer for letting me on her blog today.

A Wolf’s Bane
Can a human and a werewolf overcome obvious obstacles to be together? Romy and Kai have been hiding their affair from Kai’s clan; it’s not only that Romy is human, but she’s also much older than Kai. Will Kai’s obligation to his clan and tradition tear them apart?

Kai, the eldest and only son and heir to the family’s clan, has fallen for the forbidden, Romy, a human. His father has plans for the clan that doesn’t involve Kai mating a human; these plans drive them apart. But can they ignore their feelings and buck tradition? Will Kai’s decision lead to his death?

Sherrie Henry

Born and raised in Southern Indiana, this Hoosier transplanted herself to the Windy City after graduate school. Her passion is teaching, with writing come a close second and gaining momentum. She currently teaches College of DuPage as an adjunct professor in the physical education department and runs a martial arts studio in Naperville, IL. She holds the rank of 3rd Dan in the United States Hapkido Federation.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy 4th

Hello again!  I hope if you are in the US that your 4th of July was a great one.  Mine has been fantastic!  Nothing like celebrating our birth as a country.

The Sentinel’s Insurgency is currently in the editing phases with the publisher.  I hope to soon have a release date for it.   It’s been pretty exciting going through the editing process and the cover design.  I cannot wait until you’ll be able to see the finished product. 

The Hardship is moving along with a new executive producer being brought on board.  I met with both executive producers last month and I’m excited to see the enthusiasm for my script!   The biggest challenge thus far for this independent production company is funding.  But I know the hurdle with be jumped soon. 

The Veiled is completed and with my beta readers for suggestion.  So far, I’ve received some great comments, like “I love it!”

And finally, an author has interviewed me by the name of Johanna Rae.  Please check it out, http://www.johannamrae.blogspot.co.nz/

Happy reading and love to you all!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Excerpt from "The Veiled" (c) 2013 Jennifer Osborn

Gazing to look out the window, he could see the sun filtering through the trees in sharp rays.  Their golden light breaking the darkness apart.  As he studies the dust dancing in the light, a feral face appeared before him, gazing at him with a snarl.

Jack recoiled back so quickly that he landed with a thud on his backside.  With a delft quickness, the creature was inside the cabin and on top of Jack, pounding him into the floor.  Jack responded by swinging up to the figure and striking it in its face hard.  That succeeded in momentarily stunning it.   His eyes were exactly like Serena’s, only his irises were a mint green.

Jack could see it was a Shilund, like Serena, but decidedly male.  His canines were bigger, and his body was all muscled and stern.  The male growled at Jack and pulled back to strike again, when suddenly his weight was off of Jack.  It was a blur of movement as the Shilund male was thrown across the room, and a rumble echoed off the walls.

Jack looked up to see Serena standing in front of him in a protective stance, bearing her fangs to the male laying across the room.   She was impressiveand scary.  Jack stood up, only to be held back by Serena.

“Remain still!” she ordered and Jack nodded okay.

The male was up in a moment, his chest heaving with anger.

“What is this?”  The male demanded through gritted teeth.  “You have a human here!”

“This does not concern you Rafhey!”  Serena spat, holding her stance before Jack.

“I can-“ Jack began.

“Quiet!” Serena screamed.

Okay, so he’d try to keep his mouth shut.

“Doesn’t concern me?  Are you crazy Serena!”  Rafhey began to pace slightly.  “You have this human here with you.  You are breaking the law!”

“No one needs to know this,” Serena began, “you can turn and leave exactly as you came.” She indicated the door with an incline of her head.

The room became quiet, only the heavy panting of Serena and Rafhey.  Jack could hear his own heart beat in his ears.

Rafhey took a step forward, and Jack found himself attempting to get in front of Serena and pull her behind him.  Whatever was going to happen, he didn’t want her hurt.  Not for anything.

Serena frustrated pulled Jack back and whinnied, “Stop that! He won’t hurt me!”

Jack tried not to be moved, but Serena pulled him easily behind her.  Man was she strong.

Rafhey moved another step closer and threatened, “Baden will rain down hell on this place knowing a human is herealive.   You know the law.  This will not pass.”

“Baden need not know.”  Serena walked closer to Rafhey, “You can keep this to yourself.  The human is only here long enough to heal and leave.”

Rafhey looked Jack up and down disdainfully, “He looks well enough now.  Are you sure it was only to let him heal? “

Serena seemed taken back.  “Of course that is all.  Why else would I allow a human here?”

“I don’t know Serena.  You tell me?”   His fierce eyes glowed suspicion.

Cue the jeopardy music.  Neither party moved, but seemed to stare each other down, each poised for conflict.

Rafhey shifted slightly, his hand moving toward the inside of his robe, slowly revealing a gleaming blade.

Her movement was so fast; Jack could not track it.  One moment Serena was with him, and the next she had Rafhey against the wall holding him by his throat, his legs dangling in mid air.  The blade dropped harmlessly to the ground.

The noise coming from her was animalistic and low.

“You. Will. Not. Touch. Him.” The menace was clear.  Serena pushed Rafhey further up the wall, waiting for him to respond.   He could only manage to scratch at her hand to loosen it, but was unsuccessful.

Rafhey struggled, his voice a whisper. “—Let….me….go.”

Serena continued to growl as she held him, squeezing her hand tighter, which only succeeded in sending a panicked look on Rafhey’s face as all air was completely cut off.   He began to lose consciousness.

“Serena!” Jack shouted, hoping to catch her attention.  He didn’t want to see her kill him, even though he could care less for Rafhey.  This was all about Serena.

Serena’s eyes flickered toward Jack's direction in acknowledgement of her name, and she released Rafhey.  He landed in a tangled mess.

Rafhey struggled for breath, pulling in the air as deeply as he could through coughs.  Grasping onto his throat, he glared up at Serena.

Serena squatted down in front of him and spoke between clenched teeth.  “Get out of my house.   And if you breathe a word of this to anyone, I will gut you.  Do you understand?”

Rafhey stared at her, still attempting to breathe.  He made no attempt to answer her.

Serena grabbed the blade from the floor and held it to his throat.  Rafhey froze.

“I asked, do you understand?” She glared at him unflinchingly.

“Yes.” He whispered.

“Good.”  She replied as she stood and dropped the blade at his feet.  “Now get out.”

Rafhey gathered himself, weaving like a drunk and paused at the front door.  “One day Serena, you will answer for this.  Mark my words.”

Her only response was to snarl again at him as she stood in front of Jack to protect him.  Rafhey reluctantly turned and disappeared into the golden sunlight streaming in through the door.

Jack felt himself relax, and he sat back on the bed.  What had just happened here?  He couldn’t figure out why this Rafhey character was so on edge, like someone had just peed in his Wheaties.