The Flow of Life, the Flow of Story Structure

Before I begin this post, I’d like to announce that I’ll soon be releasing the 2nd edition of Unison that will include a lexicon, cast sheet and behind the scenes look at what inspired me to write this novel.

Life has been very busy as of late. In addition to my writing, I homeschool and have become a soccer mom, girl scout mom and dance class mom. All the running around stressed me out a little, and I grounded myself with mindful awareness meditation. Little did I know that I was about to enter the ordeal stage of the hero’s journey when I was reminded how there are people who will attack you for reasons you may never know. It happened three times in one week! I didn’t respond to these people as I didn’t want to be pulled into their drama, which is what they subconsciously crave. Instead, I offered the individuals who challenged me love and kindness. I meditated until I felt it sincerely in my heart. By not reacting to the negativity, I uncover  lessons I need to learn, and I emerge stronger and more resolute that I’m on the right path. It never ceases to amaze me how negative people can help us grow positively! To quote the message my Higher Self sent me while meditating:

“It’s not about being right or wrong.  It’s all about the experience.”

That one little message from my meditation has saved me so many times and continues to help me grow. It’s the only way to live a happy and fulfilling life. It’s also something I teach my children. There will always be nasty and vindictive people in the world, and you’ll come out on top if you handle it with grace. You do that by continuing to do what you’re doing. If you’re on the right path, no one can knock you off of it, even with a mack truck!

Now on to the writing stuff!

Throughout these last few difficult weeks, I continued with my editing of The Sixth, which is the second book in the Spheral Series.  As with all my other novels, I plotted it using the hero’s journey and then fine tuned it with Dramatica, which helps me to detect plot holes, even before I begin writing.  The main reason I appreciate Dramatica is it presents the story as a grand argument. It taps into my inner-geek. I find that the emotional hero’s journey, and the intellectual Dramatica have almost a yin-yang quality when used together.  Interestingly, I was focusing on the ordeal stage of the hero’s journey for my story. Talk about synchronicity!

When Art Imitates Life

The ordeal is the eighth plot point in the hero’s journey. Ideally, it should fall at the halfway point of a novel. For some reason, which I’ve yet to figure out, this plot point always gives me the most trouble and is typically the last one to come together for me. And it usually does so when I edit. As I’m an organic writer, I don’t like to force a scene. I know that it will come to me when it’s ready to reveal itself. I was also reserved to the possibility that this story might not need a physical life/death ordeal. I had accomplished that symbolically and emotionally. In Unison, the shift was similar. My protagonist’s old way of thinking was forced out by a revelation that revealed a hidden aspect of himself. However, The Sixth is more of a straight-forward adventure. My intuition told me I needed a more active scene.

Before I went to bed, I’d asked for an ordeal scene to come to me.  I knew where it would most likely happen and envisioned the scene as I’d written it. Moments later, it expanded and played out before me, without words. (Verbal cues typically come to me in the morning, when I’m first waking up).  The next morning I wrote the scene while I sipped my morning Starbucks coffee. I’ll just state here that Stephen King was spot on when he said that if you have a great scene, you don’t have to write it down because you won’t forget it. Phrases are entirely different. I write them down as soon as they come to me.

I was a truly happy writer after I’d completed the scene. It added more intensity, deepened the characterization and foreshadowed the return of the elixir, the last plot point, in part three.

The best stories have constant motion. They keep moving even during lulls, and the goal should always be obvious, even when it isn’t outwardly mentioned. My writer’s intuition has strengthened to the point where I can tell when something is missing. Understanding structure keeps me from having to do many rewrites and gives me the confidence to know my story works before I write the first draft.

Love and light,


Spiritual Objectivism – Part 3

In my last post, I formed a connection between spirituality and objectivism linked together by morality that’s natural to humans. And I want to focus this post on the aspect of reality as my take on it permeates in all my writing.

 “Reality exists as an objective absolute. That man’s mind reason is his means of perceiving it. And that man needs a rational morality.” Ayn Rand

 This is where I slightly splinter off with Rand. I hold a view similar to Robert Anton Wilson:

“Humans live through their myths and only endure their realities.”

When I first read Robert Anton Wilson, I resonated with his writing, but I was still tethered to my self-perceived reality…although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. After I detached from the collectively agreed upon notion of reality, I resonated to the truth behind his words. I don’t view reality as an absolute. I see it as highly subjective. What we all see and experience collectively is the reality we’ve all agreed upon. That doesn’t make it true. Therefore, I don’t view perceived reality as absolute, and I don’t make absolute judgements based on that which isn’t absolute.

“We did not fall because of a moral error; we fell because of an intellectual error: that of taking the phenomenal world as real.” Phillip K. Dick

All my stories are written from a non-absolutist stance. I’m about as non-absolutist as they come! While plots resolve, I find there’s always an unidentifiable beyond. I suppose I’m fascinated with storytelling because I see so many potentials, and writing fiction is my way of discovering one possibility at a time. Life has certainly become more interesting after I detached from ideology.

Mix Ayn Rand with Socrates and what do you get?

Ayn rand stated that the base of knowledge stems from three axioms:

1. We exist

2. We are conscious

3. Identity

I veer off at number three, which isn’t surprising as Ayn Rand was an atheist, and I’m not. Atheism is as absolute a term to me as believers of any religion.

“There is no complete theory of anything.” Robert Anton Wilson 

Total knowledge is impossible. Socrates realized the only advantage he had over most people was that he was aware of his own ignorance. And that’s immediately what I thought of when the following message came to me while meditating:

“It’s not about being right or wrong.  It’s all about the experience.”

I’ve previously mentioned the above message in posts. But this one simple phrase is what made me detach from all forms of ideology. What I view as existence is going through life experiencing it through the senses. Labels and identities can limit our experiences when we attach to what the identity represents. This was demonstrated by Ayn Rand who was a victim of her own philosophy when she became a cult-like figure. That was bound to happen because of her attachment to her own identity. Still, her philosophy is conducive to a free society where people are free to express themselves as individuals.

“Groups are grammatical fictions; only individuals exist, and each individual is different.” Robert Anton Wilson

Objectivism stands the test of time and should be taught in school, but society today shuns individualism in favor of the collective. We’re turning into the Borg, and I don’t say that to be funny. In order to grow, we must be able to think for ourselves and not be dictated to by bureaucracies and despots.

 There is no absolute knowing in an observable reality. I can only go by experiences as they occur. And since experiences aren’t static, it doesn’t make sense to me to attach to an ideology. Circumstances change, events happen, and opinions shift, especially when we gain knowledge. This is all very positive to me as I’ve been more creative since detaching from all forms of ideology. There’s no belief system within me that I must defend or argue over, so I find I’m more open to differing opinions I would have either tuned out or refused to hear. I could’ve never written Unison with any residual dogma as I held nothing sacred. I see the Spheral Series as my personal evolution. My protagonists tend to evolve to a higher level than me. I suppose that’s my way of challenging myself to keep growing.

Tune in next week for my next installment on a subject that’s taking on a life of its own.

Love and light,


Part 1  Part 2  

Bullies and Creativity

This post was inspired by a recent Ground Zero Podcast from January 31st. It focused on transhumanism, a topic that frightens me as we’re mentally and spiritually not ready for this type of advancement. If you’re interested to listen to this podcast, click here.

During the course of the podcast, the host, Clyde Lewis, mentioned how bullies “create creative people by making them introverted.” He pondered over if we were to stop bullying, would that make creative people more rare? I’m not sure about that as not all creative people are or were bullied, but being bullied can certainly draw out your creativity.


As an introvert, I personally don’t see introversion as a result of bullying; it’s more of a character trait. We introverts tend to exist more in our heads. I recall when the bullying first started for me. It was mostly over my Greek nationality and that I sucked my  thumb. I didn’t stop until I was twelve! I did this because I existed in my head. My thumb would enter my mouth while I was daydreaming, and I wasn’t aware of what I was consciously doing. So, I was an introvert before the bullying began.

I lost my fluency in Greek as a result of the racism I had to endure. For a time, I was ashamed of being Greek and stopped speaking the language. I was made to feel like there was something wrong with me. The neighborhood kids asked me if I was Catholic or Jewish, as if they were the only two religions in existence. When I responded “Greek Orthodox,” I was made to feel like the Greek Freak they called me.  The bullying was so severe and unrelenting I developed complex PTSD symptoms.  School became my prison from which I couldn’t escape.

It’s hard to describe what it feels like to have a flashback, but a present situation can trigger a past event, and it will literally feel like I’m reliving the experience. I’ll even feel the same emotions I felt on the day the memory was formed. Through the years, I’ve learned to cope with my flashbacks by practicing meditation.  By confronting all my painful experiences, I’ve desensitized myself to many of my hurts, but there are so many; I still have flashbacks. They’re easy to deal with now as I don’t engage with them anymore; I know they’re nothing more than phantoms from the past and have nothing to do with my present life. By practicing mindfulness meditation, I’m able to distinguish them apart from my present-day experiences. When a flashback occurs, I allow myself to feel the feelings associated with the memory, but I don’t attach to the experience.  I bathe myself in white light and forgive the person  imprinted into my brain. It was awareness combined with forgiveness that gave me back control of my life.


I’ve often mentioned to my family how my difficult childhood led to my creativity, which is why I never whine about my past. I even celebrate it because it made me take chances, and I became more resilient.  I developed a strong drive to excel beyond the negative programming of my early years. It’s this drive that got me through one of the best colleges for Jazz at the time, all the way up to my publication of my first novel. In the early years, it had to do with having to prove to everyone that I was more than the Greek Freak I was viewed as, but now it’s more only proving it to myself.

“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to to dance better than myself.” Mikhail Baryshnikov

Reflecting  over my life, I’ve had many exciting experiences and lived in different places like in Germany and New Zealand. My life literally became an adventure novel once I dropped out of high school. For me, the social stigma of dropping out was the key to my freedom. I was out of jail, and from that moment, I started to live. I also left with a wealth of inspiration, feelings and experiences to draw upon, both in my music, art and writing. Which leads me to my next point:

Being bullied turned me into an artist. 

  • More times spent alone, I learned to introspect about life and the Universe.
  •  I became sensitive to the hardships in life.
  • I became sensitive to others who are having a difficult time
  • I expressed myself through music and writing to release my loneliness and depression.
  • I learned to appreciate life.


I recall having the opportunity to pick on a girl in high school. I had only to gaze upon her face to connect to her, and I immediately stopped myself. My short career as a bully ended after one comment. Upon reflection, I was able to see how bullies were born, first hand. I decided not to pass the pain to someone else. I also realized the school playground is a microcosm of children who never truly grow up. In fact, I’ve noticed adults are even more cliquish than children. This was a shocking revelation to me. The setting changes, but the pain is still passed along by those who don’t take time to introspect. Is it any wonder the world is a mess?


I can think of three instances when I was bullied as an adult. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I find adult bullying more harmful in that it can make us give up our dreams if we don’t fight back.

I was preparing a big band chart for my jazz arranging class in my senior year. It was from an original of mine, which will be in my book, Beyond Omega’s Sunrise. I was up for three days straight getting it all down on very large manuscript paper. The lead sheets that I was to give to each player I notated in Encore,music software. The technology was fairly new, and I was eager to play around with it.

After I inputed all the parts into my computer, I played back the music using the midi instruments, and I was pleased with the job I had done. I was eager to show it to my teacher, who had it in his mind that singers had no business arranging music. That was the attitude I was forced to deal with since my first day in his class. (One of the pianists told me he made the comment while I was in the bathroom.) I printed out the lead sheets and presented them to the big band. When they began to play, I thought I was going to faint. I forgot to transpose the horn section! As a cacophony of horrors spilled out from the saxophones, trumpets and trombones, my teacher stood there and had them play through the whole thing. I managed to stay strong and not cry, but that was the most humiliating experience I ever went through. All the hard work I did on my song was never heard because I forgot to push a few buttons on my computer.  I performed the song during my recital, but I was so traumatized, my performance lacked verve because by then, I didn’t want to sing jazz anymore.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t aware that I was bullied. When I recounted the experience to my husband, he brought it up, and I was shocked that I never realized it. Because of my teacher’s negative view on singers, I put a lot of stress on myself to prove him wrong that  it ended up having the same effect.

I gave up jazz after I left school, and now I know it was because I let that one teacher make me forget all the great things that happened to me during my college experience. Soon after that, I started my own original music project. While I enjoyed it, my passion never reawakened to the same degree as it was while I was in college.


My next two bouts with a bullies came when I began writing screenplays. I got a scathing review by someone at Triggerstreet who went on to rip apart everything about my work. He told me I didn’t know the first thing about story structure and that I meandered too much. The criticism was harsh in that  the reviewer went on to attack the idea of my story as well.  I completely dismissed all the positive reviews that came before it and decided to give up writing. All this happened while my father-in-law was visiting. When he returned home, he sent me a quote by Jack Welch:

“Control your own destiny or someone else will.”

After I read those words,  I snapped out of my self-pity and became angry with myself for allowing someone else to make me give up my dream of becoming a writer. I then introspected over why one comment affected me so strongly. After some searching, I realized my knowledge of the weaknesses in my writing were pulled  to the surface by the critic. I then had the idea to get rid of those weaknesses, so I’d never be controlled like that again.

I took a screenwriting class with a very good teacher whose classes helped me hone in on story structure, dialogue and subtext. I still use these skills in my novel writing, and I would like to recommend the teacher now, but he’s also bully with some serious coping issues. He didn’t handle stress well at all. When I had a conference call with him, he mentioned he was on the phone all day, and I could hear he was on edge. He eventually snapped over something that he completely misunderstood and took out of context. I remained calm during his tirade against me, and he ended up calming down himself; however, after that conversation, I knew I had outgrown him.  I didn’t give up on writing because I understood what happened had nothing to do with me. And I don’t think he’s a bad person.  I detected a kind heart in him, but he just had trouble coping.  In the end, it was his bullying that eventually led to my writing novels.  I thank him for that.


We can either allow bullies to defeat us, as my experience with my college professor. Contrarily, we can use them to catapult ourselves forward, like my screenwriting teacher who gave me a taste of Hollywood. I didn’t want all that stress, so I started writing novels. And I should add here there is a lot of stress involved with being an indie author, but that’s a different topic, which I may write about in the future. Regardless, I see it as positive stress in that it leads to personal satisfaction and growth. If a screenwriting gig comes out from my novels, that would be great. However, I’m not that desperate to tolerate abuse over it and will only work with people who are more in control over their emotions!

My teacher’s bullying forced a positive reaction out of me.

I could either give up, or push forward, and that’s what I did. To be a successful writer—and I don’t mean by making money or having fame. I define success by accomplishment, by bringing to life a piece of art, any art, that gives you the feeling that you’ve climbed the tallest mountain. There is no feeling on the world like this, and it makes me want to continue writing and exploring my artistic abilities.

This is my personal recipe for writing success:

  • Learn the craft of writing  through school, books, or a combination of both.
  • Hone in on your weaknesses and make them your strengths.
  • Read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction
  • Be as non-judgemental as you can in life.  It not only makes you more compassionate, but it also allows you to observe the mechanics of behavior in people. This will help you create the most realistic characters and situations.
  • Appreciate being by yourself so you can tap into your inspiration.
  • Don’t work out of the need of having to prove something to anyone else but yourself.
  • Write the best story that you can, irrespective of what you feel others will think about it.
  • Champion your work and honor your accomplishments. Writing a novel is difficult. The fact that you did it demonstrates a strong will. That is definitely something worthy of honor.

By doing all the above, after I typed the words the end in Unison, I knew I wrote a book that’s worthy of being read. I never felt that way before with anything else I wrote.  With my first book, I was tethered to my desk in the attic. I didn’t enjoy the writing process at all. I always had this dark cloud looming over me, and after I finished writing, I told myself I’d never write another book again.  Flash forward to today, and I love writing.

Celebrate your talent, and never let anyone else hold you back from it.

Love and light,


Falling In Love With Omniscient Narration

As I’m now going through my official edit of Sunrise, I’m falling in love with omniscient narration. While I was writing the first draft, I had some ambivalence because of my decision to go with a named narrator. I reflected on a previous post I’d written about the subject. My initial worry was about pulling the reader out of the story. However, I now hold a different view as I’m reading through the manuscript. 


The narration has a mystical quality to it, and this was the effect I wanted. When I analyzed what made it so—even as the dark events began to play out, I realized it was the narrator that added this otherworldly, ethereal quality. It was through this acknowledgement that I started to understand the dynamics of using an omniscient voice. I pondered over why it had fallen out of favor. I’ve read hostile remarks and some people even  refuse to read any book that has an omniscient narrator. I was concerned that I’d limit my readership by using the voice and even considered switching the P.O.V. But then I remembered the reason I write…to tell a story the best way that I can. If I limited myself because of some dogmatic comments, I’d fail on both measures. The type of readers for my books would be those who  are interested in the story, irrespective of what voice I choose to tell it.  If I can pull that off,  I’ll be a very happy author.

If I could take a stance for something in writing, omniscient narration would be my cause. 

Narration is dependent on the type of story you want to tell. As a writer, I don’t want to limit myself to one type of narration.  I prefer to tell the story in the way it presents itself to me.  For Sunrise, I chose omniscient voice for two reasons:

I have a large ensemble. While Unison also has a large cast, Sunrise is different in that there are several main characters. While I could’ve used a close third and broken up each thread by chapter, I wouldn’t have been able to dig deep into the characters as intimately as I could in first person. By using one consistent voice, I was able to tie the characters together with one view point.

With close third, my book would’ve ended up being over 1000 pages. Yikes! With omniscient voice, I was easily able to change perspectives within the same scene, and I even kept that at a minimum. At present, Sunrise is at 90,000 words—up from 86,000 words at the start of my edit.  As  I started off as screenwriter and outline, my writing is usually very terse. I project I’ll end up with a 100,000 word novel. My first draft of Unison moved from 93,000 words to almost 137,000 words! So I’m the type of writer who always ends up adding. 


I can understand how a beginning author would be guilty of head hopping with this voice.  However, if the narration is focused and well thought out,  it shouldn’t confuse the reader. Learning the craft of screenwriting helped sharpen my writing, and I recommend it to all writers who want to sharpen their dialogue, description and point of view. When writing a screenplay, you learn how to view each scene through the lens of a camera. And because thoughts aren’t part of the story, you have to rely on the description and dialogue to get your point across.  When I write a novel, I think of each scene exactly the same way, and it makes it easier to detect when I mess up my point of view.  A screenplay also makes a great outline in which to base your novel!


The other main problem with omniscient voice is giving away too much information. How I avoided this was by focusing on what I wanted each scene to accomplish and what I wanted to remain secret until the reveal. I did spot one area where I said too much about the antagonist, and I removed it. The trick is knowing that although an omniscient narrator knows all; he, she or it is also a storyteller who wants to keep the reader guessing and not confuse them with too much details or cause them to shut the book because they already figured out the ending.  


When I first wrote the ending for Sunrise, I realized it was going to be difficult to pull off. I toyed with the idea of switching to a close third voice. I’m so glad I stuck to my instincts. Now that I’m sculpting my story, I can see the beauty of allowing it to tell itself. I see storytelling as an organic process.  It sometimes freaks me out when I get ideas that challenge me by pushing me out of my comfort zone, but after I’m finished I realize all the effort was worth it. This is why I write…to challenge myself. Without that feeling, writing would cease to satisfy me.


As a newbie I read every article I could find on this P.O.V. I thought I’d end with some lessons I learned during the process.  

  • Know who or what is narrating—even if the narrator is neutral. The viewpoint must remain consistent throughout the story, or it will confuse the reader and possibly enter head-hopping territory. 
  • Be clear on why the narrator is telling this story. As opposed to using a close third, what is the importance of having a seeing all narrator?  I found this question to be important because it allowed me to see what motivated the narrator. This demonstrated a personal stake in the story…even though the narrator wasn’t in the story. 
  • What is the tone of the narration? Is it humorous, serious, a combination of both? This also adds more personality, consistency and flavor to the narration.

  • Reveal only whats important to the scene. Sometimes it’s okay to tease the reader, but ensure when you do that, you don’t give too much plot away.  Ask yourself what parts of your story do you want to surprise your readers and go back in your manuscript to ensure you haven’t tipped them off.

The thing that helped me most was to read and analyze books with omniscient narration as I was writing my first draft.  I learned what worked and what pulled me out of the story.  

Well, that’s all for now. I have to get back to my editing.  And as a reminder, if you appreciate visionary fiction, please visit the Visionary Fiction Alliance for interviews, book excerpts and all things visionary.

Synchronicity in Writing and the Great Hen Escapade

I was working on a scene about how our silence keeps us prisoner, and as this is my final edit before publication, I scrutinized a passage and concluded my protagonist, Damon, came off a bit preachy. By grounding his dialogue to his own experiences, the scene packed a more powerful punch. As I don’t want to give the plot away, I’ll only mention that I use a dungeon symbolically throughout the book as a metaphor.  The context related to how some people voluntarily imprison themselves by handing over the key to their oppressors. The key symbolizes fear and how oppressors are given permission to draw it out of their victims as a method of control.

Fast-forward to lunchtime. I went downstairs to eat, and my daughters excitedly told me the hens escaped from the coop. My landlord keeps ten hens for eggs, and the girls have grown fond of them. Apparently, the hens figured out how to open the gate and liberated themselves. With the help of my husband, my daughters proceeded to chased the hens until they were able to lead them back to the coop. During the whole debacle, the cleverest of the hens, managed to make her escape. I cheered when I heard about it.

Being a writer, the slapstick scene played in my head. Imagining my girls running after hens made me laugh, and I wondered why my husband didn’t get out my Iflip and film this screwball moment. As my eldest daughter recounted the event,  my attention went outside, where lo and behold,  a hen was flying outside of the cage.

My husband and youngest daughter ran out to lead her back inside. Meanwhile, I expressed to my eldest how if it were me who saw the hens escape, I probably would’ve turned a blind eye and let them on their way. Much as I don’t judge people for caging hens, I don’t judge a hen’s decision to escape from her prison. If I sound like I’m personifying the situation, that could very well be true. I recently completed my first draft of Forever Valley, in which a hen is one of the main characters. I know what happened will eventually end up in my book.

Coincidence or   synchronicity ushered into my consciousness from the Divine?

I see it as the latter because incidents like this happen too often for me to discount it as mere coincidence.

While the outside chase continued, I recounted to my eldest how the scene I worked on moments before paralleled the hens’ ordeal. My sweet nine-year-old then went on to say, “That’s so weird. It happened at the same time. Just as you were writing about it, we were outside getting the hens back inside.”

“Weird, indeed,” I said as my youngest daughter entered and told me the hen I saw was the one that escaped. They managed to get the hen back in her cage.

I had an eerie feeling as I recounted Damon’s message over how we willingly enslave ourselves by giving the key to our oppressors.  The closing of our real life escapade ended with the hen giving up her own freedom voluntarily.

“She came back because she missed her friends,” my youngest surmised.

She was probably right—that and along with a free meal.  I’ve come to see hens as very social and affectionate. Here, in Hawaii, we have ferrel hens, and the escaped hen would’ve been all right on the outside, but she decided to return to the place where she was most familiar. This was another aspect of the scene I was focusing on; some of us become imprisoned by the comfort of familiarity and security. Of course, that’s not necessarily bad; however, with the wrong person, religion or political ideology it most certainly can be viewed as a weakness and used against us. In the case of the hen, one of her friends ended up on someone’s plate during a Thanksgiving dinner. I leave it up to you to decide whether or not the hen should’ve stayed away.

When synchronous moments in writing happen to me, I ruminate over what I’m supposed to take from the experience.

Did what happen justify or challenge an opinion I hold  dear to me?

 Did it lead me to accept there are some aspects of the human condition that still have a long way to go before evolving…and the changes that will move us forward will happen long after I die?

That last one is the most difficult for me to ponder over, and I’m glad I have my writing to help me express my frustrations. Writing visionary fiction helps me view stories through a holistic and positive lens. In the process of healing my ideal version of the world, I heal myself.

Choreographing A Scene

I had a very creative week. As with many of my story breakthroughs, it happened at the gym, while running on the treadmill. I knew when I posed my story question, by the time my workout was over, I’d have my answer, but not necessarily to the question I asked. When it comes to tapping into the right brain, scenes typically appear out of order. I view the first draft as a puzzle, except I have no idea how many pieces exist until after I write, “The End.”

I put on the dance music playlist on my Ipod, started running, and asked my right brain to  show me a strong climax for Forever Valley.  I’ve done this several times before but was shown answers to different parts of my story; however, several days ago, I got what I asked for.  When I left the gym, I ran to my car, got out a pen from the glove box and wrote out the climax, which also included the completion of the character arcs. Now that’s a productive run!

The three questions I ask before I begin the scene choreography:

What characters are in the scene?

Where are they?

What’s the scene goal?

To get the best possible scene, I have to envision it first. I do this by running through it in pictures.  There can be no trace of language for this to work. It’s like watching a silent movie, and I formulate no opinions or judgements during the transmission. That’s left brain banter, and it’s a big no no when engaged in right brain work. I continue observing until something pops out at me. Once that happens, I begin to analyze the scene, interpreting what and why it’s happening.

What do the characters say?

How do they react?

I continue the analysis until the language syncs with the visuals.  This works so well, I never fear writer’s block or running out of ideas. With a strong visual, it’s hard not to come up with a strong scene.  The difficulty—for me, at least—is finding the most accurate words to describe it. That takes a lot more effort from me than scene creation.

For anyone interested, here is my method of tapping into the right brain.

  • Find a place or situation where you can disappear into your story world.    Working out, running, walking, taking a bath and lying down listening to music are some ways I connect to my right brain.
  • Pose the three questions, but do it without expecting answer to the questions you asked. Expectations are like a roadblock to the right brain.  Get rid of them, and you’re right brain will throw out some amazing ideas for other scenes in  your story.
  • Place your characters in the proper setting and watch them react, without any hint of language or judgements. There is no such thing as a stupid idea in this exercise.  Unlike real life, stupid oftentimes leads to brilliance in the right brain. Just keep watching stupid until it evolves into a brilliant scene. Being able to tap into the right brain at will makes writing entertaining and fast. Please let me know if this works for you. I always love to hear successful writer stories.

Love and light,


Final Is Never Final When it Comes to Writing

It’s now November 2012, and I still haven’t published Unison. I was aiming for an October release, but after three read-throughs of my proof, I found places for improvement.  My fourth proof is to be my final,  as I’ll be now scanning for typos. I’m ready to say goodbye to this book and move on.  I had some issues with Create Space as they sent me a proof of my old file. I’ve been on the phone with them for the last couple of days, and I’m happy with the way the situation was handled. They’re dealing with a new system which led to some confusion. These things happen, and I’ll still use their service as the interior book design they did is beautiful.

I got my edit back from Jessie’s Song, and I’ve been busy this month making improvements to some excellent suggestions made by Erica Orloff of Editing For Authors. I can’t highly recommend them enough. Thanks to Erica’s attention to detail, I’ve been able to elevate both my novels. Even the smallest suggestions she made led to deeper insights. For Unison, I used only their proofreading service, but after all the time I spent cleaning up the inconsistencies, I found their comprehensive edit service to be invaluable and time-saving.  I’m using this for Jessie’s Song, and it does help speed up the process.

My experience with publishing, thus far, has shown me I need to slow down my production line because of the proofing process which takes much longer than editing. From uploading to publication, I’m seeing that I’ll need at least four months before my book goes live. If I can keep up that pace, I should be able to publish three books by next December. We’ll see!

Lessons Learned During The Proofing.

  • When you get your first proof, assume it’s not ready for publication. All the story problems you thought were solved, weren’t. Changed character names which you thought you cleaned up are still there.  Which leads me to..
  • Get a professional edit. Proofreading isn’t enough. No matter how thorough you think you’ve been, a good editor will definitely find something you’ve overlooked. As objective as I am about my writing, another set of eyes is even more so.
  • If, Like me, you opted for only a professional proofread, assume the second proof that comes to you, is still not finished. After cleaning up the first proof, more inconsistancies will stand out.
  • In the third proof,  the awkward sentences will stand out more. This was my toughest edit as I kept working on these trouble spots until they no longer stood out.
  • The fourth proof, will strictly be my looking for typos,  and I’ll have another reader helping out.

The proofing stage has been the most challenging for me. It makes writing the first draft seem easier. This brings me to my current manuscript, Forever Valley. I put it on hold until this Monday. By then, I’ll have Jessie’s Song back for another edit. Afterwards, I’ll upload it to Create Space and start the four-month process in December.

I’ve learned patience through this whole ordeal, and the invaluable service a good editor provides. I’m already noticing less stress with Jessie’s Song because of this. With time, also comes experience as well. I always keep that in the back of my mind. Through all these trials, I’ve become a better writer and publisher. Furthermore, by accepting that mistakes will be made, both by myself and those I work with, I’m able to keep a level head and enjoy my writing. This is what I love to do, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.

Love and light,


Maintaining a Writing Schedule During a Move

It’s been a while since I posted as we we were getting ready for a big move. During all the craziness of making plane reservations, hiring movers, making hotel reservations and packing, I’ve also been busy reading the proof of Unison, going through the remarks my editor made on Jessie’s Song, and working on my manuscript, Forever Valley.  I also recently wrote an article for the Visionary Fiction Alliance about the Babylon 5 series. You can check it out here.  I’ve pushed myself hard this month and what’s amazing to me is that I managed to maintain my writing schedule…even though we’re still in between addresses. Am I nuts to do all this?  Most people might think so, but for me, my writing is what keeps me sane, along with mindful awareness meditation.

The room here is small and my daughters are loud, so when I work on my manuscript, I either go to a cafe or one of the libraries here.  I homeschool my daughters, and I bring them along when they need computer time. I enjoy discovering libraries in  new locations, and so far, my favorite one on Maui is the Wailuku branch.  The building was constructed in 1928 and is beautifully restored. It’s a pleasure to work on my Macbook in this classic environment. Perhaps the inspiration I capture here will lead me to write a classic of my own!

I’m hoping to approve Unison for publication this month. For the fourth pass, I’m going to have my husband read it to pick up errors I missed the last time through. If it’s one lesson I’ve learned through my publication experience is that it takes a lot of energy, persistence and patience to do it all on your own. Through this process, I’ve developed a deeper respect and admiration for indie authors and am honored to be part of such an impassioned group. I don’t regret my decision to go indie…even as I’m tempted to throw my book against the wall out of frustration! With my short attention span I  rarely watch the same movie or read the same book more than once and forget about me sitting in a movie theater! By that description alone, I’m sure most of you can see I’ve passed my threshold of patience long ago. So when someone tells you you’ll be sick and tired of your novel by the time it’s ready for publication, they’re not exaggerating.

This move has added to my stress level. Today, I’m typing on my new wicker desk, and yesterday I got over-emotional over a refrigerator. I meditated to calm myself from getting worked up over something so non-sensical and unimportant. I then had  a good laugh at myself when I  reflected back on the day’s events. If it’s one thing I learned during my spiritual practice is that the Universe has a sense of humor, and most of the times I get the joke and laugh along.

Writing also helps calm me. No matter how stressed I get, each time I sit down to work, everything that aggravated me disappears, which is why I see writing as another form of meditation.

Regarding the tedium of proofreading, what keeps me going is this simple truth:  no matter what you do in life, there will always be several aspects of your work that’s undesirable. If you manage to get through them, the reward will be the output of your  hard work and dedication. It’ll make you relate to this quote I’m ending with:

“When the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It’s one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period.”  Nicholas Sparks

Beware. Brainstorming Can Be Dangerous!

I’m not the type of writer who can spend hours typing away on my laptop. I  break up my writing into short sessions scattered throughout the day. Yesterday I decided to go for a run in the mid-afternoon to develop a scene for Forever Valley. I choreograph and play back all my scenes away from my desk as I’m able to tap into my right brain easier. Running, hitting the weights, lying down and listening to music and even taking a bath have led to big breakthroughs for me.

Towards the last stretch of my run, I came up with a great scene, and as I was putting it together, I took a tumble over a speed bump. Some kind people offered assistance, and after I told them I was okay, I returned home, nursed my scrapes and typed out half the scene. I then took a break to perform my motherly duties, and I finished my final session late last night bringing the word count up to 21,500 words.

More news: I sent off Jessie’s Song to get edited.  Whenever I send my work out to get read, I get this feeling like I’m not finished. As this happened with everything I’ve written, I understand that no matter what I write, it will never be perfect, but I know I let it evolve into the best story it could be.

Characters Write Themselves When They’re Free

I started working on my fourth novel, On The Farm.  The  antagonist’s personality came to me three days ago. I wanted to know why he would work against his own growth, and once I figured it out, I was ready to begin writing the story…twenty days ahead of schedule!

When I realized what motivated me to begin this new project, I knew I had a topic for my next blog. I find I write the best story when my characters are real enough to take over. I’m not implying chaos over here. Structure is very important to me, and I learned it via my screenwriting experience.  It taught me how to plot effectively and make every scene count. I use the techniques in my novels because it keeps my acts clearly defined, cinematic and razor sharp. Some writers will tell you that structure leads to formulaic writing, and from my own experience, I find that declaration erroneous and harmful advice to those who are just starting out in their writing. How we write depends on how our brains process information.

Some of us can write without an outline, but not me. Because I’m right brain dominant, I need to see the whole picture for it to make sense and to get that, “Eureka, this is it!” feeling about my story. This gives my first draft more direction, but it doesn’t mean I won’t make changes as I go along. What remains is the structure that keeps me grounded to the story and prevents me from going off in irrelevant directions.  This makes my editing job a lot easier.

Before I learned structure, I meandered in my writing, A LOT. And the criticism I received about my work was all about how my story didn’t have well defined acts. Once I learned  various forms of structure, I began to see how a story flowed and how when I got everything right, it worked better.

Books that resonate most with me have both a well-developed plot and strong characters.  Stories heavy on plot and light on character don’t hold my interest, which is why I toil, with great effort, on my own characters.  The stronger they are, the more they take the lead and that’s what I count on.

Outlining prevents chaos, so we can let go and enjoy the ride.

I like outlining my stories because it reinforces the structure.  The reason structure in  our writing works so well is because we live in a structured environment, which means, by default, so do our characters. Even stories where societies fall apart, like in “Mad Max,” develop hierarchal systems. Try as we might, we can’t get away from structure.    Everything around us is structured.  We can either lead boring and predictable lives, or exciting lives, depending on our personalities.  Same thing goes for our characters, which are extensions of our personalities brought on by our imagination. When we let our characters take over we free our imagination, which is far more interesting than when we hold it back because we want to control everything.

It’s all about the characters

A strong structure and accompanying outline gave my characters more freedom to challenge my pre-determined plot points. If my foundation is solid, my characters will either head towards the story goal or attempt to stop it from happening. Their motivations are clearly related to what’s happening in the story, meaning when Fox leads Ram outside the farm for the first time, they don’t head off to the mall to play video games! Their reaction is always within the proper context. With a clear story goal, they can’t take me out of the plot. They can throw me past my comfort zone, add a twist that will take me a while to think through, or re-write a character’s association with another character, but the change is usually for the best. In Sunrise, my last novel I completed, I explained how one of the characters rewrote the conflict of my story. It was better than what I had, but because the character was strong, she led me down a different path, and  I never looked back. In the middle of writing this blog, my protagonist in Jessie’s Song, did something that surprised me.  It ended up increasing the dramatic tension.

On the contrary, if during the outlining stage my characters are screaming for a different outcome, and that outcome is better than my own, I’ll go ahead and tweak the last act to accommodate them. I do what’s right for the story, and I find if I keep that intention, I have a stronger and more emotionally satisfying read.

Writers as actors

To write a great character I have to become the character as I’m writing. I have to experience her emotions, cry when she does, laugh at what she finds amusing, and be scared when she feels threatened. If I don’t feel any emotions, then I know she’s a flat character. I’ll work on  a scene until I get the appropriate reaction.

My writing routine evolved into an organic  practice in that I let the story flow where it must be without forcing it into what I want. It’s very Tao-like and it’s as pure as storytelling gets to me. This is why I enjoy the process so much. I never know what to expect, and this  leads to suspenseful and exciting storytelling.

What gets you excited about telling stories?

Love and light,