Hans Zimmer Is My Soundtrack

I’ve said in the past that I don’t listen to music when I write or edit, unless it’s relaxing instrumental music.

Welp…I’ve changed my mind.

The last few days I’ve been listening to my Hans Zimmer channel on Pandora, and it’s epic to say the least!

If you don’t know who Hans Zimmer is, go check him out. He’s easily one of my favorite movie composers ever! It’s a pretty even tie between him and Howard Shore and John Williams.

Since the book I’m working on is fantasy, the music he writes is so inspiring and dramatic. It makes for interesting editing and writing times. And since it’s all instrumental, mostly from movie soundtracks, I don’t get distracted like I do with regular songs. Bonus!

Here’s a selection of some beauteous Hans Zimmer.

What music do you like to listen to when writing/editing? Does it help put you in the right mood? Does it inspire you? Or do you get distracted by music like I often do because it’s just so amazing?

Happy writing!

“What’s the point of getting up in the morning unless you’re gonna have an adventure? As the moments of our life are ticking away you have to be aware that it needs to be an adventure.” ― Hans Zimmer
“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” ― Victor Hugo

“Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.” ― Anonymous

The 777 Challenge


Ha! Do you like my joke?

My most humble thanks to Caroline Peckham for nominating me to participate in this challenge. Her blog is awesome-sauce and I comment on there all the time because of her inventive posts and faboo ideas! Go check her out!

The concept behind this challenge is to share a tidbit from a WIP. I think any WIP will do, but since I have so many of them, I thought I’d share from my most worked-on piece that is about ready to be sent to agents.

The Rules:

– Go to page 7 of any WIP

– Scroll down to line 7

– Share the next 7 sentences in a blog post.

– After the excerpt tag 7 other writers to continue the challenge.

(Wouldn’t that make it the 7777 challenge? Meh. What do I know?)

Here’s the excerpt from my MG fantasy novel (first in a series):

Iphigenia opened her mouth, but Wilfrid clamped a hand over it. “Shut up, you two!”

The Colonel’s long-dead heart beat faster and faster. He wanted to rage at them to stop bickering when Ava was in danger!

“Ladies, please,” Gaspar said.

Iphigenia pushed Wilfrid’s hand off her mouth and scowled at Tess. She opened her mouth to speak, but the Colonel flew back down and interrupted.

I’m literally LOLing right now because this excerpt tells you absolutely nothing about the plot of the story. BAHAHA!!! You’re introduced to six characters in seven sentences. Confused yet? Hehe!! It’s much clearer in the book.

Now, I’m supposed to nominate seven others, but I’ve read many people’s WIPs and I know many of my bloggy friends have done this challenge already and I can’t keep straight whose done what, so…

I nominate everybody!!! (I’m such a rule-breaker).

I just love reading tidbits from people’s lovely and amazing creative minds, so if you have WIP with seven pages completed, let’s see a few sentences!

Happy writing, everyone!

“Turning a manuscript into a book is easy; getting the manuscript ready to become a book is hard.”
― A.P. Fuchs

“When you write a manuscript, it feels like being in a relationship with someone. You’ll hate it, get bored with it, be pissed of, like you just want to break up. But, just like any relationship, you will fall in love again and again, like you don’t want to lose it.”
― Alvi Syahrin

and so on”
― Katerina Stoykova Klemer

What’s So Wrong With Allegory?

May I ask what in the heck is so wrong with allegory? I feel like it’s a bad word nowadays in the publishing world. Oh, no! There’s an allegory! Keep away!

I’ve known for some time that there’s a certain prejudice against allegory. Apparently, writers are not allowed to teach any morals or lessons when writing. They’re only supposed to write to tell a story.

While I agree that storytelling, alone, should be the basis for writing, I have absolutely no problem with allegory. I think that hidden meanings and subtexts and morals should be explored. Not trodden on like it was a piece of trash.

Am I too upset about this? Probably. But I’ll warn you right now, my writing is allegorical. It almost always has a hidden meaning or is metaphorical or teaches a lesson.

Part of what got me on this rant is watching this documentary about J.R.R. Tolkien. For those of you who’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know he’s one of my favorite authors, not just for the stories he wrote, but in how influential he’s been for me as a writer.

So when one of his sons and a couple professors began talking about how Tolkien intended no allegory in his writings, and then proceeded to speak as if allegory was a terrible thing, I got a little het up.

Tolkien speaks of allegory as if the author is trying to force his opinions down your throat. Really? I didn’t know allegory could be so… violent. Are writers, if they use allegory, attempting to dominate you by their own opinions? Aren’t people able enough to make their own choices (whether or not they agree with the author’s intentions)?

I think every book has allegory of some kind. Intentional or not. Even in my own writings, I see allegory where I never intended it to be.

I understand Tolkien’s opinion about allegory, but I can’t say I agree with his rather pessimistic view on it.

What do you think? Am I wrong? Are you pro- or anti-allegory? Do enjoy reading or writing allegory, or do you avoid it like the plague? I’m hoping for a good debate on this one.

Happy writing!

“I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history – true or feigned– with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

“The two things that came out clearly were the sense of reality in the background and the mythical value: the essence of myth being that it should have no taint of allegory to the maker and yet should suggestincipient allegories to the reader.
[C.S. Lewis writes to J.R.R. Tolkien on December 7, 1929]”
― C.S. Lewis
“No story can be devised by the wit of man which cannot be interpreted allegorically by the wit of some other man.”
― C.S. LewisOn Stories: And Other Essays on Literature

Breaking the Rule of Three

Three is a big deal. The number, that is. Have you ever noticed? Especially in literary undertakings.

The Rule of Three is actually a writing principle, did you know that? Not just for characters, but also in phrases. E.G. “Go, Team, Go!” It’s also a memorization rule. Research shows people tend to remember things better if they come in groups of three. It’s also true in syntax, or sentence structure.

The Rule of Three is well documented. Let’s take a peek at some famous examples of the power of three in literature, recent and long past.

1. Harry Potter. Obvious for today’s society. Three main characters. Harry, Ron, and Hermione. It just works. And there are numerous secondary character threesomes.

2. The Hunger Games. Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. At times, Gale flickers out and other people replace him to complete the triad, but it’s still valid.

3. Twilight (blech). I despise Twilight, but it still follows the Rule of Three. Bella, Edward, and Jacob.

4. A Christmas Carol. Scrooge is visited by three spirits. Just enough. Not too many, not too few.

5. The Three Little Pigs. It’s all in the name.

6. Macbeth. There are three witches. They meet three times. They say things in three. (See what I did there? The Rule of Three in repetitive sentences).

7. The Three Musketeers. I know, I know. Technically, there are four, but the for the purposes of this list, it reinforces my point.

Well, what happens if you break that rule? Are you banned to the literary rubbish bin for all eternity? Are you black-listed from agents and publishers?

I sure hope not. Because I’ve done it.

I’m breaking the Rule of Three.

You heard me. In my MG fantasy books, there is one main character and three other secondary main characters, if that makes sense. Which means, for me, it’s the Rule of Four.

Although there is something inherently pleasing about the number three, it just isn’t always possible. Believe me, I tried to find ways around the four characters, but there wasn’t one. I’d have to completely gut the book to make it work. And honestly, I like the group of four characters. They’re all so different and bring unique traits to the story that it’d be like cutting off one of my limbs. Of which I have FOUR! Ha!

What do you all think of the Rule of Three? Is it a hard and fast rule for you? Can you think of any other examples? Do you follow the Rule of Three, or are you a rebel, like me?

Happy writing!

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” W. Somerset Maugham

Harry Potter World Trip


It happened! I got to go to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Florida last week! Yeek!!

It was awesome, no doubt about it, and there just wasn’t enough time to see every little thing. I fully intend to go back again someday in the future.

Just look at that castle! A perfect recreation of Hogwarts from the movies, and it’s so interactive while you’re waiting in line.

If you don’t want spoilers for the theme park, stop reading here and just enjoy the pictures instead.

First, when my friend and I checked into our hotel, I was delighted to see it was designed to be completely 1960s. Look at the room!


Neat, huh? I thought so.

And here’s my bed.


I thought the colors and artwork and decor was fabulous. And our view wasn’t too bad, either!


That’s a lazy river pool down there, and if you look closely across the pool, you can see another wing of the hotel and a little of what it looked like from the outside. I didn’t take a picture of it, but you could also see the top of Hogwarts from just outside the door of my hotel.

I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as I’d intended because I just wanted to soak it all in.

Since my friend and I stayed at a Universal hotel (for much less than you’d expect), we got into the park an hour early. We were walking through Diagon Alley at 7:00 in the morning! Yikes! But totally worth it. Here’s the first shot of Diagon Alley in the early morning hours.


I wasn’t expecting the dragon on top, but it was pretty cool, and you’ll see why in a minute.

We immediately raced to Gringotts because that was the newest ride. We stood in line for about an hour, only to have it announced that something was wrong with the ride. BOO!!! However, they gave us one-time-only fast-passes to use later that day, so we came back a few hours later and got to skip the line.

BEST RIDE EVER! Seriously, it was my favorite ride of the day. So interactive and a ton of fun.

Here’s some more Diagon Alley.

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.


The hole in the brick wall behind The Leaky Cauldron.


Another shot of Gringotts.


Just another cool Diagon Alley pic. We also went to Knockturn Alley, but it was too dark (as it should be) to take pictures.


And the awesome-sauce-ness of Gringotts:


The dragon breathes smoke!! Sweet!

Many of the shops were similar in appearance, so I didn’t snap pics of them all.

Once we were done looking around there, we headed to Hogsmeade via the Hogwarts Express. At platform 9 3/4.


Every single thing there is interactive, including when you wait in line and are on the train. So much to see and do, that you’re not really bored waiting for so long.

There are LOTS of animatronic robots of all sorts of HP characters, as well as visuals and interactive images of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

So, here I was! And yes, there is a way to take a pic as if you’re going through an actual wall to get to the platform. But the line was moving and I didn’t get a chance. Oh, well. Next time! 🙂


And there she is! The Hogwarts Express!


And the first picture of Hogsmeade Village:




Before you ask… YES. I did get a butterbeer. And it was delicious! Beyond tasty. Yum!!

And here’s Honeydukes. I didn’t buy anything there because I was so full after lunch. But it was awesome seeing all the things in the books and movies for sale right in front of me.


And again, here is the castle:


This ride was fun, but man, did it make me feel queasy. And I have a super solid stomach on rides, but this made me feel a bit sick afterwards. It was a ton of fun, though. All of the rides were. I can honestly say there wasn’t one thing I saw or experienced that didn’t 100% live up to my expectations.

After a morning/early afternoon of rides and such, my friend and I shopped for a bit. I could have done some SERIOUS damage there, but I didn’t check any luggage on the airplane, so anything I bought had to fit into my carry-on.

I won’t go into everything I bought, but the thing I love the most is the wand. Of course. 🙂

Here it is:


Sorry for the poor quality. I know it’s far away and dark. You can look it up online once you find out which one it is.

Can any of you guess whose this is? Hmm???

I’ll give you three guesses.

No. It’s not Harry’s.

No. It’s not Hermione’s.

No. It’s not Ron’s. Or Dumbledore’s. Or Voldemort’s. Or Ginny’s. Or Sirius’s.

Any other guesses???

All right. I’ll tell you.

It’s Mad-Eye’s!!!

Yep! I loved it so much, and it’s actually the heaviest wand they sell. The lovely witch who sold it to me said “Even a muggle like yourself could do magic with this thing.”

Ha! They were all so into their roles. Loved it.

Mad-Eye is one of my very favorite characters. I was bummed they didn’t sell Hagrid’s pink umbrella wand, because if they had, that’d be the one I’d have bought.

So, there you have it. A wonderful trip to HP World. It was a fabulous day and an experience I’ll never forget.

I can’t wait to go back!

Happy writing!

“I would like to be remembered as someone who did they best she could with the talent she had.” ~ J.K. Rowling

“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” ~ J.K. Rowling

“Secretly we’re all a little more absurd than we make ourselves out to be.” ~ J.K. Rowling

Title Options

Hello, all!

What a C-R-A-Z-Y month this has been! I’ve worked more and been busier this past month than any other month I can remember. Yeesh!

But now I’m on vacation until next week. Actually, I just returned from Florida where I went to Universal Studios and saw the AMAZING Harry Potter parks. Don’t worry, I’ll post pictures and do a separate post about that, but I had no time while there to update you all. Yes, I DID buy a wand, but you’ll have to wait until that post to find out whose it was. I don’t think any of you would expect me to buy the one I did.

Since returning yesterday from Florida, I’ve been trying to get back into my writing. Aside from blogging infrequently, I haven’t been able to write a thing the last two months because of how busy I’ve been. And it has almost brought me to tears. I wake up in the morning so inspired and energized to write, but by the time I get home from work 12 hours later, my brain is mush, and I have not the energy or wherewithal to get any writing done.

I’m hoping this week I’ll be able to get a significant chunk completed on the latest rewrite of my first book. I plan to begin sending it out again to agents at the beginning of the year. And I’ve been thinking about changing the title to the series.

You can see from the sidebar that the current series title is The Phantom Apprentice.

While that has been its title for many years, I’m wondering if something else might be better. I refer you to this post, and this one, to get an idea of what my books are about so you can help me decide if I should change my title.

Which title of the ones listed below is more entrancing, appealing, curious, etc? Could you tell me why?

I appreciate any and all suggestions and votes. It is extremely helpful to have other writers’ opinions on this. Because you’re also readers and know what readers will read. Right? 🙂

Choices for Series Titles:

1. The Phantom Apprentice

2. Secrets of the Setaparts

3. The Last Setapart

4. Tales of the Last Setapart

5. The Phantom League

Choices for Book One Titles:

1. Book of the Scribes

2. The Restoration of Ava Monaghan

Thoughts? I honestly am not a huge fan of any of them, but we’re our own worst critics, so what do I know?

Oh! Just FYI, I will be returning to my series on the Science of Injury over the next few days, after this post and the one about Harry Potter world.

Thanks for all your input! I need the help, clearly!

Happy writing!

“I thought about TimeBlaze. We should…shorten the titles. The titles are getting long. More colons than a proctologist.”
― D.C. PiersonThe Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To

“The intellectual mind judges a book after having read it.
A fool’s mind judges a book by its title.”
― Ellen J. Barrier

Revised… Again!

Child Fatigue

Hello, all!

Whew! Sorry, again, for being gone so long from the blogosphere. This week is the last for a while that includes 60-70+ working hours, so I’m hoping to resume regular posts next week.

Miraculously, amidst all the insanity of work, I was able to get a substantial rewrite done Friday through Sunday. I do not have any time any other days of the week, so I crammed about two weeks worth of rewrites into three days.

I thought I had finished my first book, but every few weeks I get a good idea for a revision or a rewrite.

The latest one came about a week ago, and it nagged me all week until I sat down to write.

Within the span of three days, I completely rewrote, from scratch, the first 40 pages (about 12,000 words) of my first book. It was exhilarating, but exhausting, and I was even more tired when I woke up and had to go to work today.

Since I don’t yet have an agent or publishing deal, I can revise all I want, but I was hoping not to do any more major rewrites/revisions until I got an editor.

However, every time I take a step back from it for a few weeks/month, I come back at it with fresh eyes for all the mistakes, inconsistencies, or lack of word-magic.

Does that happen with the rest of you? I spent almost ten years finishing the first book while planning the seven book series it’s a part of, but I still find things I want to change. No matter how much I love my book, I know I’ll never be 100% happy with it. But every rewrite gets me closer to what I’ve imagined for the series.

I’m so glad I took time away from the book. (This is probably the fourth or fifth revision/rewrite). I can’t afford to hire an editor, so all of my revisions are based on feedback from my beta readers. (Who are not always the most helpful).

I’m happy to say that book two in the series is coming along nicely, with much more word-magic than book one (another reason I’m rewriting portions of it).

While I continue to revise my manuscript, I’m curious what the rest of you are working on since I’ve been hit-or-miss for the last few weeks with my blogging and such.

I can’t wait to hear what you’re up to! So spill!

Happy writing!


“The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in.”
― Henry Green

“I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”
― Don Roff