Sunday, October 26, 2014

Getting Ready For PiBoIdMo!

I wanted to prepare myself for the onslaught of ideas that'll be running through my head...I hope...during PiBoIdMo in November.  I love using Scrivener, so I decided I would set it up for the month.  I took screen shots along the way to show you what I plan on doing.  If you use Scrivener, I hope you find it helpful!

1: I opened up my trusty Scrivener and selected a new fiction novel file:


2: You now have a new novel ready to change to your tastes.  I named the overall PiBoIdMo14 to keep it separate from all the other PiBoIdMos I plan on doing over the years to come (this year is my first!!).  On the right, I have the Status bar open, but I ended up changing nothing from it.  For the Label menu, I will have everything set-up as an Idea, but will also change the status of each idea as they get turned into the various stages of picture book manuscripts.
    On the left, I removed 'Novel Format', 'Chapter' folder, 'Characters', 'Places', 'Front Matter', but kept the 'Template Sheets' in case I wanted to use them to help develop any characters.


3: I then changed 'Manuscript' (on the left menu) to PiBoIdMo14 and added ten new documents which I then labeled as Idea 1 through Idea 10.  I also changed the Label on the right for each to Idea.


4: Next up was adding the basic outline for my ideas that I try to follow to each notecard.


5: From there, I will fill in the notecards for each Idea as I go (please note the story listed is not based on a true story...except that when my wife goes away, I love to torture her by using her favorite mug- a Thumper mug- and texting her the picture).


6: Then, when I click on Idea 1 (or whichever card it is on) I will begin the manuscript.  On the right side I will be able to see the noted from the notecard for that idea.  I'll also change the title of the card from Idea 1 to a possible title for the story.


7: This has nothing to do with Scrivener, but I also will be carrying a pocket sized writing journal with me to jot notes in during the month.  I usually don't carry it with me (except in my messenger bag to work), but I probably will this month.  If something comes up when I don't have it, I'll type something into my phone, or record a video of myself talking about my idea.

That's it!  That's what I plan on doing.  I hope you found it helpful- even if it's just one thing from the overall process I plan on using this year!

Happy Writing!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Look to your right! No no...on the screen...

Yeah, that's right- I changed my plans for NaNoWriMo for November.  My heart isn't into getting back to writing the fantasy novels and novellas I had planned on writing.   I eventually will, but not yet.

I've really been enjoying writing children's picture book manuscripts and attempting to find an agent and publisher.

Enter PiBoIdMo.

That's PIcture BOok IDea MOnth.

The goal?  Well, if you looked to your right (again!  on the screen people!), you'd see this neat little picture -------------------------->
and you might have figured it out: To come up with 30 legitimate picture book ideas to slowly turn into picture book manuscripts over the next year.

The thought of doing National Novel Writing Month just did not appeal to me as much as I thought it would.  It wasn't the work, 50,000 words in 30 days, it was the outcome.  The thought of having a novel, or the start of one, did not appeal as much as coming up with 30 picture book manuscript ideas.  My heart just wasn't into it and you HAVE to follow your heart.

So?  That's what I'm going to do- what I know I really want to do and what will make me happy: coming up with picture book manuscript ideas that, someday, kids will enjoy reading, and parents will enjoy reading to their kids.

Good luck to all the participants!

If you're interested, click the banner on the right side of this blog, it's linked to an official organizer of PiBoIdMo, http://taralazar.com/

Enjoy! And follow along, I plan on blogging about my progress as I go.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Part of my writing process

I've been thinking more and more about my writing process.  I've gone through different processes for different manuscripts and for different types of books (kid vs. adult).  This post will focus on how I wrote a couple of my picture book manuscripts (PB MS).  The images you see below are from a few different kid's stories.
An idea, turns into notes/ beats (even a bad drawing to inspire you) 
Fro there, turn the notes into a manuscript
Then, type onto your computer- I love Scrivener!!!
Next? After editing on the computer, print and edit/ revise more.

After the last image, I just make the changes in Scrivener.  Does that mean it's done?  No, not quite.  I go over some stories several times.  I also send them out to a critique group and also on-line (well, that group you only send the first 250 words- you're on your own for the rest!).

That's my basic writing process!  Hopefully I'll get picked up soon and be able to share this (or something like it ) with schools and libraries, too!!  Well, other than my own :)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I met R.A. Salvatore!!

He's a big guy! Former hockey player,
boxer and bouncer.
Okay, about one hundred close friends of mine and I met R.A. Salvatore.  He was speaking and The Towne Book Center in Collegeville, PA this past Monday night, September 29th.  When I saw this past summer he was going to be at the book store, I became instantly excited.  When I got home, I told my wife I was going to be there, no matter what.  R.A. Salvatore is the fantasy author of my absolute favorite series of books chronicling the life of Drizzt Do'Urden and his companions, Regis, Breunor, Cattie Brie, Wulfgar and many other memorable characters here and there through out the 23? 24? book series.
signing at

R.A. told many interesting stories throughout the hour he talked.  He gave us some background info and told about where he is now in his writing for about 10-15 minutes, then went into some questions and answers.  What's coming up?  Well, definitely one more in the series, possibly two, but he didn't give anything definite about that.  During the Q&A he answered a question I had been wondering that someone else asked: Why the time jump?  The series hopped ahead 100 years, and left Drizzt alone- all his companions dead by battle or age.  Well, that's what Wizards of the Coast wanted (they own/run Dungeons and Dragons, the realm R.A. writes in), so he had to.

He talked about his writing process a bit.  He'll write at his computer while listening to instrumental music (I don't recall specifically to), and does his best work on a plane.  He said he hates flying and popping on his headphones, opening up his laptop and putting himself in another place helps the flights go by quickly.

He talked about how playing dungeons and dragons has influenced him in his writing and how a couple of the characters he played for longer periods of time became characters in his stories- Cadderly and an annoying character who's name eludes me (I should've jotted down some notes...).  Drizzt was never a character of his- one many of us there thought was one of his.

I waited, geekily excited,
to see my favorite author
Then came the signing.  I had gotten there early enough (I work nearby) to be the 7th person in line.  About a week before the signing, I searched the house for my R.A. Salvatore books, but didn't find any.  That's when I realized I had checked every book of his that I read (about 27-28 total) from the library (well, my mom was a librarian- as is my mother-in-law, so what do you expect?).  I ended up buying my all time favorite Drizzt story, the one that led me to R.A. Salvatore and his books, The Lone Drow, as well as his newest one, The Rise of the King, book two of the Companions Codex.

Signing The Lone Drow
When it was my turn, Kit, from the Towne Bookstore, introduced me as Erik Ammon, author of a self-published children's book (woohoo!) and will be talking with a writing group at the Towne Bookstore in October.  R.A. smiled and said he loves self-publishing (which he talked about doing during the Q&A) and said he'll always write since he can always self-publish his work.  He said he loves the freedom to be able to be in complete control of the project, which I readily agreed with.  I would have loved to talk more with him, but there were 90+ people behind me.




I got my books signed, shook hands, got a quick picture and practically skipped back to my car.

If you get a chance to see R.A. Salvatore speak, if he's within a couple hours of you, GO!  He was very funny, friendly, and informative.

Have you ever met your favorite author??  Who was it?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

YOU by Caroline Kepnes Book Review

First, I'd like to mention that I got this book as a Klout perk.  All views are my own...

But I also don't think I'd review a book I didn't like.  If I don't like a book, I won't finish it.  With that said, here's my review!  Oh, there may be spoilers...but nothing major...

YOU is a creepy thriller written from Joe's point of view.  The target of his sociopathic obsession, Beck, is written in second person- meaning YOU, the reader, are Beck.  It was this point of view that caught my interest first.  I'd never read a book like this since ye ole choose your own adventure fantasy books from the 80's that I read from time to time.  This was not a choose your own adventure by the least.

Joe falls for Beck (you) as soon as she walks into the bookstore he works at.  They flirt and he ends up with her name and address (credit card transaction).  The creepiness also started in this first chapter.  The second chapter begins with him telling about how much he's learned about you because he's been sitting outside your apartment watching you.

The creepiness gets creepier from there...some examples?  Sure!

Joe wants to have you all to himself and will not let anything, or anyone, get in the way.  He mentions briefly how he's killed at least one person in the past who was in his was of an obsession that didn't work out.

He steals your phone from you and you just go get another.  He reads your e-mails, both incoming and outgoing, he reads your tweets, your Facebook, everything about you.  Here and there he slips, but you never catch on.

The story evolves, deepens as he goes after anyone he perceives as in his way- friends, ex's, therapist, etc..  He does everything he can to be near you- he watches you through your windows, finds a way to get to your therapist, follows you to parties (you don't know he's there, though) and weekends away.  He even hires you at the bookstore he manages.

The story kept me interested all the way to the end, to the final confrontation...

I highly recommend this story.  I absolutely loved it!!