I’ve sent my novel (ok, “novella” right now) out to some friends and family for alpha reading. It’s both exciting and nerve wracking, because I’ve never written something this length before. For me, short story plots are easier than this novella plot ever was, despite how long I’ve had the concept brewing in my head.

Now I’m new at this, but apparently alpha readers are there to tell you what parts of your story suck. All first drafts suck (even the big-shot authors know this), but it’s hard to tell where it sucks. You have to know what’s wrong to know how to make it right, and that’s difficult when you’re as close to your work as I am. You either see it all as crap, or you love your baby so much that you can’t bear to change anything.

I’ve heard mixed things about alpha readers. I’ve heard that it’s better to use people that you know will give you honest feedback, but some people seem to doubt that just friends and family will do. I guess other authors are where it’s at? I don’t know. All I know is I was uncomfortable asking strangers to read what I’ve written so far.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that, with the feedback I get, I’ll be able to see areas where I can improve on character and plot development, story, description, etc. I’ve been trying to read it myself through the view of a reader (and not the author), but my stupid tablet keeps shutting itself off and I lose my place. If I read it on my computer, I’ll be tempted to revise as I go, so I don’t want to do that. Until I get a chance to sit down and read it in one sitting (likely this weekend, we’ll see), I’ll have to try to be patient. I’m making notes as I go and as I get feedback, so hopefully when I hear back from everyone I can dive right in and start back.

Fingers crossed!

Getting the right fit

I’ve been slacking in a few of my New Year’s resolutions  🙁  I told myself I’d lose weight, and instead I’ve gained a bunch. This morning I did a few short exercises to get started on losing the extra muffin top, but I have a long way to go still.

On the plus side, my rheumatoid arthritis seems to be getting better under control. Less pain, and I can actually bend over and touch my toes for the first time in practically ever. Who knew that arthritis would end up making me more flexible lol

Should have planned ahead

Low battery warning on my tablet = no more book reading during my lunch break.

I am staying at the office for lunch today & decided to bring my tablet so I could read my book. I know, I should leave it alone for a while and then look at it with fresh eyes, but I couldn’t resist.

To prevent myself from revising as I go,  I opened the file in an app that doesn’t allow me to make changes. I’m trying to read it through the eyes of, well, a reader. So far I’ve seen a few areas that need some tweaking, but overall it’s coming across as something I would read if the book had been given to me.

Hopefully the couple of people who have been given copies to alpha read will like it. It’s hard putting your work out there when you’re new at it, but it’s also necessary.

Once I’ve gotten feedback I’ll go back to revise and tweak the things I’ve noticed (& the things pointed out to me). I’ll need editors along the way, but one step at a time.

Drawn to it


It may not be the most refined of sketches, but here I’ve roughly drawn out one of the scenes from the novel/novella I wrote. I need to work on making my figures more dynamic. The female isn’t too bad, but the male looks very flat 🙁

I guess for now, while I’m taking a break from the book, I can practice drawing more.

The end (of the first draft) is nigh

I’m getting so close. I can almost see it: the end of my first draft.

Okay, I admit, it’s raw. Very raw. And I know there will be quite a lot of revision ahead of me. Still, I’ve reached a crucial turning point in the story that is leading me to the climax. I will be so relieved to have this first draft done and be able to say I stuck it through at least this far. I’m determined to go all the way to eventual publication, but I’m not deluding myself into thinking that one or two revisions will get it to that point.

Once this is done, I’m not sure I know what to do next. Read something for fun? Draw more? Focus on improving with the polymer clay? There are so many choices, and I’ve been plugging away almost exclusively on the novel for months now. Sure, I’ve been working on other projects here and there, but my main obsession has been this book.

Will it be just the first novel I write and not the only one? Who knows. I do have the faintest hints of another idea in my head, but not enough to form even a rough outline yet.

I can’t decide how I want to celebrate when I finish!

Cold Hands, Dead Heart–Flash Fiction Friday

Cold Hands, Dead Heart

AJ Mullican

Tim and Alice walked hand in hand on the snow covered ice, enjoying each other’s warmth. They’d been dating for a few weeks now, so everything seemed fresh and new and beautiful in their eyes.

Hesitant at first, Alice had been afraid to walk on the frozen lake, but Tim assured her that this far into winter it would be perfectly safe. He’d played hockey with his friends on this very lake just before the snowfall. If the lake could take the weight of Tim and his friends, it could surely hold Alice’s weight.

Once they reached the middle of the lake, Tim took Alice’s hands into his and looked deep into her eyes.

“Do you trust me, Alice?” he asked.

She smiled with a flush to her cheeks that had nothing to do with the cold. “Of course, Timmy,” she said.

“Good.” He cupped her rosy cheeks in his hands. “I want you to close your eyes, and don’t open them until I say to. I have a surprise for you.”

Alice laughed and put her hands over her eyes. She tried to stay perfectly still as she heard Tim brushing snow off of the ice. After several minutes, she heard his boots crunching on the snow outside the area he’d cleared. “Okay, you can open them.”

She peeked through her fingers, then took her hands away as she saw what he’d done. Tim had cleared a perfect heart shape in the snow, with her in the center. “Oh, Timmy, it’s beautiful!” she said.

“I wanted to do something special for you,” he said, grinning from ear to ear. The blush spread further, warming Alice’s face. “Look down again.”

She did as she was told, and when she saw what was beneath the ice she screamed.

“I really like you, Alice,” he said as she trembled at the sight, “so I thought it was time you met my mother.”

Floating under the ice, features frozen in a mirror of Alice’s own terror, was a beautiful young woman.

The ice began to crack beneath Alice’s feet. She tried to step out of the heart, but each movement caused the ice to splinter faster. Tim’s smile widened and he held his arms wide open. “Alice, this is my mother, Catherine.

“I think you two are going to get along great.”

I need GPS

I tried to go back to my novel this morning, but I’m having trouble figuring out where to go next.

Scratch that: I know where to go, but not how to get there. I don’t want to reveal the main character’s plan too soon, but how to get from idea to implementation? Therein lies the rub.

I’m trying to work out this Rubik’s cube in my head but so far I’m stuck…again. Giving myself a few days away from it didn’t work this time. I may have to get out the ol’ pen & paper and scribble a few possible scenes until I find the road I’m looking for. Driving blind, as it were.

When I get off work I guess it’ll be time to put the pedal to the metal (have I run this metaphor into the ground yet? Lol) and find my way to the end of the road.

“I’m just tired”

Why did I put that in quotes? Well, think about it: how often are you really tired when you say this?

I know that, for myself, most of the time “I’m just tired” (usually in response to a question like “Are you ok?”) is code for “I’m feeling sad or #depressed or lonely and you probably wouldn’t want to hear me gripe about my problems, so I’ll tell you something that will make you think it will be ok and you won’t have to feel awkward or worse, obligated to try to cheer me up.” Granted, sometimes I really am tired, but being sad or depressed or lonely can siphon your energy to the point where no matter how much sleep you get, you’re tired.

Not that I don’t appreciate it when people ask if I’m ok. That means someone cares. I just don’t want to unnecessarily burden someone with my personal problems by saying, “Well, I’m really depressed lately. I don’t know why; I don’t have a reason. I’m just really sad all the time and I’m barely holding it together.” Who wants to hear that? So I say I’m tired.

For someone with #mentalillness, like #depression or #bipolardisorder, it can be tough to talk about what’s bothering you. You feel like people without mental illness won’t “get” it, or you worry that they’ll judge you for being overly emotional about what, to them, are trivial things.

I’m not saying that if you hear me say “I’m just tired” that I want you to try to cheer me up. I’m not saying that everyone who says they’re “just tired” is really undergoing some sort of deep emotional hardship. I’m simply saying that the next time you hear “I’m just tired,” think about what that really means and understand that there may be something more than lack of sleep bothering them. We don’t necessarily want attention.

We’re just so tired of being “tired.”

Curse the histamines

As if a depressive episode wasn’t bad enough, now my sinuses have decided to attack on a different front.

No real writing done the past couple of days, and no arts since Sunday. 🙁

Hopefully once I get to work I get busy enough to forget one or both of my maladies.