Tag Archives: writing

Top 5 Worst Ways to Open Your Novel

Writing that first line is hard. There’s all that pressure to hook the reader and rules on what not to do. Of course, I wasn’t familiar with these rules when I started my novel so, in addition to sharing the top five worst ways to start your novel, I’ll provide examples of how I’ve committed each of these sins in early drafts of my current WIP Pup.

1. Don’t start with your characters waking up!

EXAMPLE: The alarmed sounded and I smacked the snooze button before pulling my comforter over my head and returning to my dream—something about bunnies. Or was it sheep? I don’t know. I can never remember my dreams.

WHY THIS SUCKS: No one wants to read about someone getting up, making their coffee and starting their day. Alfred Hitchcock said, “drama is life with the boring parts cut out.” Get to the action already! Unless your character is waking up and realizing that they’ve turned into a giant cockroach as in Kafka’s The Metamorphoses, no one will want to read about it.

Continue reading Top 5 Worst Ways to Open Your Novel


Writing Challenge Accepted! Turning a Random Group of Words Into a Story

You may have noticed that I’ve had a bit of a blogging hiatus. After Camp Nanowrimo I needed a blogging/writing break to focus on my family.  I missed blogging and writing but the longer I spent away, the more anxiety I felt about trying to catch up.  The thought of returning to my routine seemed overwhelming. What I really needed was a push and thankfully my writing buddy Brianne (itlookseasyinthemovies) has given me just the kick in the pants I needed. Brianne issued me a writing challenge from her new blog It’s This or Grad School. She wrote:

I propose we assign each other writing prompts on alternating weeks. Responses will be limited to between 500-750 words, and will in no way require perfection, complete plots, or literary merit. It will require creativity, a response within a week, and a reciprocating word prompt throw-down.

Sounds easy enough. Here is the challenge:

I can’t listen to Train’s song Hey Soul Sister without remembering those improvisation games where you have to use a random mash of words to create something new. So thank Train for the following words to include in your story – stains, moonbeam, mister, soul sister, game show, untrimmed, virgin, thug, lobe, and stereo.

Okay, this won’t be easy, but I think I can do this.

tumblr_n39tffHOEd1sej561o3_400I call this experiment:

Piercing Reality

Go to the party she said. It’ll be fun she said. And it was fun when it was all prank calling boys and eating junk food. No one ever warned me that all that fun comes at a price and so here I sit, quaking in my Hello Kitty pajama pants while the girl with the hippy name I can’t remember presses an ice-cube against my virgin ear lobe.

“This numbs it so you won’t feel a thing,” Rainbow or Moonbeam or whatever-the-hell-her-name-is says.

But why? I want to ask. Sure, I get that all the other girls have pierced ears and we’re bonding and calling each other Soul Sisters, but now that I’m sitting here wincing as I wait for the needle to be shoved through my flesh. Ridiculous. At what point in the history of womanhood did we decide that piercing holes in our bodies was an attractive prospect? Did someone just stand up out of the blue sometime after the wheel was invented and before bras were burned and say, “you’ll never believe the crazy idea I cooked up today.” And how did this catch on? There had to have been blood, pain, possibly stains on their cute buckled pilgrim shoes or togas or whatever they wore then. I doubt it was pretty. Yet somehow this barbaric tradition has prevailed and become so fashionable that my mother, who tells me that I’m too young for R-rated movies, managed to convince me that amateur slumber party ear piercing is a normal right of passage? This isn’t fun. I feel like I’m on one of those game shows like Fear Factor or Survivor.

Bad train of thought. I need to focus on something else. I try to avert my eyes from my impending doom but looking proves difficult when I have to keep my head still. Instead, I look down at my untrimmed toenails. I don’t know how I ever let them get so out of control. They’re gross. Like Sasquatch gross. Seriously, what does a  girl got to do to get her hands on a pair of clippers. Wait, no. You know what? I don’t care. My toes are in their natural, untouched state. Cry freedom, toenails! You will not be cut down. Not today. Not by me. In fact, starting today I will abstain from all unnecessary body modification. People aren’t born with toenail clippers, toothbrushes and jewelry. Those are society’s tools. The Man’s tools. I don’t need to listen to The Man. In fact, I’m going to find this Man and I’m going to walk right up to him, look him in the eye and say, Hey mister


“You okay?” Moonbeam asks and I put my hand to my ear. I don’t know what I expected. A gushing wound maybe, but it hardly seems like it’s bleeding at all. Damn, I’m tough– like Wolverine tough. Thug life, yo.


NEXT CHALLENGE: Okay, I did it. It wasn’t pretty, but I used all the words so now on to Brianne’s challenge. Feel free to join us in our challenges if they sound fun to you. My challenge for Brianne is for her to rewrite a scene from her current work-in-progress from the point-of-view of an opposing character and post it in her blog response. Any 500-700 word section will do. Have fun!

I’m a Gollum and Why It’s Okay To Phantom Menace When You Meant To Empire

I feel like Gollum. I haven’t been getting out much on account of Camp NaNoWriMo, so I’m all pale and my hair is stringy, my only company during the day is my hobbit-sized son and I’m OBSESSED with my precious. Not the one ring to rule them all, but my novel. All the time I devote to thinking on, talking about and, of course, writing my novel, is making me crazy.


Which is fine by me. See having a creative brain can feel like insanity. It is crazy to have make-believe people and imaginary worlds in your head and the longer we fight to lock them away or ignore them, the harder those characters and ideas fight to get out. I’m treating my particular case with heavy doses of writing. I pour all of my crazy out on the page, so that my brain can have a break from the constant hammering of ideas. It’s like popping in a cough drop to cure a sore throat. It does nothing to cure the overall condition, but it does offer some blessed, albeit temporary relief.

But none of that explains why I haven’t posted anything in over a week. I’m behind on my goal and I had a few days there where I struggled to find the words. See writing is also communication and the challenge is to take these amazing movies that we see in our heads and describe them in such a way that others can see them. This is a great plan in theory, but when I’m writing my rough draft this is rarely the case. I envision Empire Strikes Back, but I end up writing Phantom Menace.

Now when this happens, I’m tempted to throw my computer against a wall and call it a day but, while that would feel amazing, that is not how novels get written. Also, eventually the crazy of creativity will return and then it’s back to square one. No, the only real solution is to let your Empire Strikes Back be Phantom Menace. Let it be crap.

I get to the point eventually where I just throw it all out there. As Hemingway put it, bleed. Naturally this can be painful, particularly when I read through what I’ve written. I cope by leaving comments for Future Hayley like “make this suck less.” And sometimes I will write a paragraph from a new angle to see if second take is better, but I don’t delete anything.

As mentioned, writer me is nuts and what Present Hayley thinks is crap, Future Hayley might appreciate. And there is nothing worse than knowing you’ve already written the perfect words to describe something and those words are gone because Past You was a jerk and deleted them.

So, I hope this ranty rant is of the sense-making variety and if you don’t hear from me much this month or I don’t post anything for awhile, check the Misty Mountains.

Total Words Written in July: 14,788
Goal for this point: 18,387
Manuscript total: 82,101

How I feel about writing today

Now I want to hear from you! How is your writing (or reading) going? Rate it either Phantom Menace (sucktastic), Empire (you seek Muppet guidance), Jedi (fun and space bears) or A New Hope (ALL OF THE AWESOME).

Being a Unicorn Chest-Burster and Getting Out the Words

I swore I wouldn’t let it happen to me. I told myself that I would stay the course, but I gave in. I socialized. Don’t be social, kids. Writing a novel in a month and interacting with other humans in a face-to-face capacity does not a novel make. (See that? Even my sentences are all wonky now.)

What happened was that I took a day off for the 4th of July and then that turned into a couple more days because I had company in town and then my kid had all these needs that required parenting and then before you know it, I was behind over 5,000 words.

If I had efficient time management skills, I could have done the parenting, socializing and the writing. I have heard of mythical creatures that can accomplish this task (I’m pretty sure unicorns can), but I’m not too worried. I’ve written more than 5,000 words in a day before and I’m sure I can catch up if I get started tonight.

I have a good feeling about this. Today I took time for myself and read, watched some vlogs, and listened to music from the playlist I created for my novel. That was just what I needed. A Vlog Brothers video I watched today reminded me how lucky we are to have the time and freedom to write and how awesome it is that we have stories in our heads and the ability to write them down.

I’m feel inspired and I’m confident that I will catch up. Like ALL OF THE WORDS are going to erupt from me like the chest burster from Alien or Spaceballs! I’m just gonna word explosion all over the place so you might want to duck and run for cover or else you’re gonna get words all over you. Or maybe the words will just do a song and dance number and be on their way. You never can tell.

Total Words Written in July: 3,104
Goal for this point: 8,709
Manuscript total: 70,428
How I feel about writing today:

Now I want to hear from you! How is your writing going and when you fall behind what gets you amped to get back on track?

The Mega-Awesome Super Inspiring Voltron Award

I have been very fortunate as of late to be nominated for not one but three ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Awards.’ Of which I have procrastinated responding to…until now (yes, you are supposed to read that last part in the Christian Bale Batman voice. You know me so well.) Instead of responding to each of these awesome awards individually, I will combine them and make THE MEGA-AWESOME SUPER INSPIRING VOLTRON AWARD. If you’re too young for the Voltron reference, think Power Rangers.


Let’s begin. So first off, a HUGE thank you to the amazing bloggers that nominated me Serins Sphere, Shannon A. Thompson, and Callum McLaughlin. Serins and Callum are two amazing authors in the making. They write fiction and poetry. Shannon is the published author of Minutes Before Sunset. All three of these amazing bloggers post content that you need to read and follow and comment on regularly. Seriously, what have you been doing with your life. If you’re not already, you should go and visit their pages now, stalk them and return to share all their secrets with me.

Go on. This post will still be here when you get back. I can wait.

*Some time later…*

Yay! You’re back! I missed you! Now where were we? Ah yes, THE MEGA-AWESOME SUPER INSPIRING VOLTRON AWARD! But first before we dive into this wacky barrel of fun, the rules. You didn’t think we were going to just jump into this thing all willy nilly did you? For the record I am neither willy or nilly or Milly Vanilli (I seriously need to come up with some references from this decade).

The Rules (They’re really more like guidelines. You don’t even have to follow them. I won’t tell anyone)

  1. Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you.
  2. List the rules and display the award.
  3. Share seven facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you. (I made a special one just for you!)

Now I’m supposed to list 7 facts about myself. Here goes!

  1. I met my best friend 17 years ago in high school. She was crying in a bathroom stall because a friend of hers bailed on her. I told her she could come hang out with me is she wanted to and we’ve been friends ever since.
  2. I love horror movies!
  3. I’m a military brat.
  4. I call my son Bean, sometimes Bean Machine.
  5. I was named after actress Hayley Mills. My mother narrowed it down to the name of the actress or the name of the character she played, Pollyanna. I’m glad she went with the actress’s name.
  6. My favorite movie is True Romance.
  7. The first books I ever fangirled over were the Beatrix Potter books when I was really little.

That was tough! Glad I did these all together because there is no way I could have come up with 21 facts about myself. Now for the fun part, I get to nominate 15 blogs that have inspired me. I’m sure I will inevitably nominate someone who has already received the award. In any case, there is no pressure to accept the award or if you’ve already received a Very Inspiring Blogger award, yoink the MEGA AWESOME SUPER INSPIRING VOLTRON AWARD for a little extra bling for your blog.

very-inspiring-blogger-award (1)

Here are my nominees:

  1. She Reads She Blogs: Jackie hosts the best book giveaways and I love her reviews. Her reaction gifs at the end of her reviews are hilarious and were the inspiration for my “how I feel about writing” gifs at the end of my nano posts.
  2. Caught Read Handed: Stefani has amazing productivity. On of top reading and creating great content for her page, she also contributes reviews to WatchPlayRead and, if I remember correctly, is starting two new jobs.
  3. Confessions of a Book Geek: Rachel hosts fantastic giveaways, reads a ton and posts great content. I can always count on her to introduce me to great new books!
  4. Coffee. Write. Repeat: Victoria’s dedication and passion for writing is always inspiring.
  5. Natacha Guyot: One of my favorite science fiction bloggers. She posts about great topics and shares my love of Buffy. She’s also a very supportive blogger and always leaves great comments.
  6. PERMASHIFT: Sierra is hilarious. She tells it how it is and her posts are always entertaining and insightful.
  7. Sarah J. Carlson: I love how cultured Sarah is. Her blog has introduced me to new parts of the world. She is always on the move and seeking adventure.
  8. booknerderie: I love her book reviews. Short, sweet and funny. She also has already met her goal of reading 100 books this year!
  9. Kathryn St. John-Shin: Kathryn juggles a busy life but she remains dedicated to her pursuits as a mother, writer and fitness instructor.
  10. The Crazy Nerds: I love Christian’s comics and his productivity amazes me! He is also very well-read and always has interesting things to say.
  11. A Writer’s Life for Me: Miska released not one but three novels this year! Amazing!
  12. A Well-Read Woman: April is my go-to source for women’s fiction. She always has fantastic recommendations!
  13. Winter Bayne: One of the most supportive and active members of the WordPress community you will ever meet and a very dedicated and productive writer.
  14. Callum McLaughlin: So Callum nominated me but he is truly one of the most inspiring bloggers I know so I’m nominating him back! (Take that Callum). He’s already received this award and for good reason: he is incredibly passionate about writing and you can’t help but feel inspired to write all the words after reading his posts.
  15. Often Clueless, Always Shoeless: Olivia’s posts are always fun and exciting. This month she has challenged herself to write one short story a day: creative and awesome!

There! I did it! Wow, that was a long post. If you’ve made it to the end, huge thanks to you! *blog five*

Becoming a Vampire and Writing While the World Sleeps

Camp NaNoWriMo has turned me into a vampire.

Okay, it’s not as bad as that. I mean, hey, at least I don’t sparkle. What nano has done though is messed with my sleeping schedule so that I am now staying up all night and sleeping through the better part of the day.


It all started the first night of nano, I put my writing off until 2am and then wrote until 5am (by Hayley logic the day is not over until I’ve slept. Yes, I know. There is a fly in my logic ointment). So, then I slept in late. I won’t say how late but let’s just say I would not have been able to order from the McDonald’s breakfast menu. Then I did normal Hayley day stuff which includes cleaning, playing with the kiddo and dancing around the house singing “Rump Shaker”…forget that last part. Of course, I procrastinated again and then at 2am writing happened.

A lot of writing actually, I not only met yesterday’s goal of 1,935 words total, I almost met today’s goal as well. I ended up writing 2,782 words, putting me at 70,095 total for my manuscript.

Surprisingly, I cranked these words out within a couple hours. I think this was in part because there is a huge reveal about one of the characters in the scene I was writing, so I had a lot of exposition to cover.

Still, I was surprised. That’s much more than I usually write in a day never-the-less two hours. I sort of sat there for a moment thinking, “well, that was weird” then went to bed.

So, now I’m left with two problems. One: I need to get back onto people waking hours before someone comes to stake me or some high school kid falls in love with me. This could be difficult because I do tend to enjoy writing at night. I like the quiet but I’m also missing out on fun daytime activities. Ugh am I going to have to give myself a bedtime?

Two: I’ve written about 70,000 words and I’m only halfway through act two. I’ve been developing this book for six years now and writing it since last November. Is this book ever going to end? Am I going to be writing this book when I’m a crazy old cat lady? I am still hoping my goal of 30,000 words for the month will be enough to finally finish this novel. If not, the good news is that I’m over my word count so I guess if I finish early, I can just keep writing (and now I’m hearing Dory from “Finding Nemo” in my head. I am going crazy).

Total Words Written in July: 2,782
Goal for this point: 1,935
Manuscript total: 70,095
How I feel about writing today:

Now I want to hear from you! What time of day (or night?) do you get most of your writing done?