Taking Chances


Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.
– William Faulkner

Taking chances.  How many times do you begin something then give up? Mr. Faulkner was right. It may be bad.  But you have a starting point. It can be improved upon, fixed, tweaked, torn apart and redone. That sounds a lot like writing a novel.  And since he was an author, I’m sure that’s what he meant in the quote.

If you feel your first draft is your best, you’re wrong. It’s just the beginning. When you finish your book, the feeling of euphoria envelops you. You deserve to feel that way. You are done. You’ve accomplished a mighty task.

Now walk away. Don’t do anything to this manuscript. Wait a week or two. Then start to read it again. Hopefully you’ll realize it’s just a first draft, a stepping stone to something better.

When I first started writing, I felt as if my book needed to be sent out into the world immediately.  After looking back on some of that work—Ugh! I can’t believe I felt that way. I now read my story at least three times before I have anyone look at it. That can take time, and in this day and age, a lot of us don’t have the patience for that. But if you want something to be good, I think patience needs to be added to your list.

Take chances.

Scary? Yep.

Exhilarating? Sometimes.

Unsure? Always.

But if you don’t take that first step, you’ll never know. You know the old saying, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”. So go ahead. Take that chance. You may be one day closer to something good.


Edits and Craft Shows

Craft Show (8)

I’m in the middle of edits for my new book. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. I learn so much with each new editor. I always feel I finally have the editing process mastered. But, I don’t. (A side note to authors: No matter how you publish your book, you need a good editor!) Thankfully my publisher provides them and I am so grateful for that.

I know I write for only a small group of readers, and question why I keep doing it. Well, I do know why, I can’t stop writing. But sometimes it feels like a thankless job.

A few weeks ago, I set up shop at a craft fair. Before the doors opened, a young girl, who seemed to be about fifteen, strolled down the aisle. She stopped in front of my table and studied the books. She told me she loved to read and might come back and read mine. I thanked her and smiled while inwardly did a happy dance.

Fifteen minutes later she came back and asked if she could read some of the book. I told her to go for it. I sat and watched her read, set the book down and walk away. The earlier dance party in my head melted away.

Next thing I knew, she was back. Money in hand, she bought the first book of the series. She said if she liked it, she’d come back for the other two. She was a fast reader she informed me. Again, I nodded and smiled, but inside my heart raced. My mind was all over the place, “What if she doesn’t like it? Please like it. How long did she say it takes her to read a book?”

She helped her mom at a table further down the row. My niece, who kindly volunteered to sit at the table with me, spotted her reading. I couldn’t look. “Is she still reading?” I’d ask every now and then. “She has her head down, so yeah,” was the answer.

It was sweaty palms time. Would she be back? Would she buy the next two? I didn’t care about the money. I wanted her to like the book. Halfway through the craft fair, the girl made her next appearance. “I finished,” she said.

Heart pounding, I wanted to grab her and say, “Tell me everything! What did you like?” My niece calmly asked, “Who was your favorite character?” “Lindsey,” she replied. “Oh, interesting choice,” my niece answered.

Lindsey is my main character’s best friend. She is a good choice. Strong, determined, loyal.

Again, she walked away. My heart was now in my throat. Five minutes later, she was back, money in hand. “I want to buy the other two books.” The happy dance was back. She liked it. She really liked it.

We had a good conversation. I feel I can add her to my tens of fans. (That’s not a typo.) So thank you, fifteen year old girl from the craft fair. I will continue to write and hope someday more readers like you will find my books

How Do You Spell Wi-Fi?


So many new vocabulary words in our language! The one I’ve seen spelled many different ways is Wi Fi. I’ve also seen Wifi, Wi-Fi, and wifi. Which is it? Spell check on Word tells me Wi-Fi (it’s on spell check already?)  Or maybe it doesn’t matter. My head is spinning!

As an author you always want to spell correctly. Readers notice misspellings and other grammatical errors which can interfere with their reading. Editors are always on the lookout, but some spellings can even slip by them.

With all these new words, it’s sometimes hard to find the correct way to spell them. One of them is apps. Should the word be capitalized? Google is always capital, right? So if I use it in a story, I have to say–He Googled it?

Tweeting and trending, hash tag and instagram are already part of our everyday vocabulary. They even made their way into the nightly news.

Who would have thought just a few years ago these words would be part of our daily lives. I try to keep up. I really do. I may even use some of them in my stories. But please, make up your mind on the spellings!

It seems to be the way of the future. New words, multiple spellings. Maybe spelling won’t matter anymore. I hope not. I’m still old school that way.

Summer Writing Series: Be Your Own Editor


Refresh your skills! Think you remember what you learned in grade school? High school? Think again. Does a comma need to be placed before “and” or “but”? Quotation marks or Italics for songs, names, titles?

One of the first things I realized after writing my first book, I wasn’t a good editor. I set out to fix that problem right away.

I know Word is very good at recognizing spelling errors, incomplete sentences and capitals. If you use a homonym (similar words like too, to, two) it won’t pick up on those mistakes. Only rely on Word as your first line of defense.

Use names sparingly when characters speak to each other. I learned that from my publisher. Think of how you talk. Do you repeat your friend’s name over and over again? Read your dialogue aloud. Does the wording sound realistic?

Read other blogs about editing. You can learn so much. I recently read a post that discussed the word “it”. The topic “What is it?” was the only thing discussed. Reading through my stories, I found many times I could have used a better word or rephrased so that word wasn’t used. “It” was easy to use; formulating a new sentence was harder. After trying it, I liked it much better. Oops! I just used that word…twice in that sentence! Sometimes it’s okay to do so, but let’s try again. How about this:

After trying it, I liked it much better. That was my original sentence.

Changed to:

After experimenting with a few sentences, I liked the new statement much better. This new sentence took away any question of what I was trying to say.

I could bore you about hyphens and numbers and a list of grammar lessons, but they are easy to look up. Don’t guess, double-check is my suggestion. (And after reading that back, a new slogan has been born.)

My last word of advice is to wait a few weeks after finishing a new manuscript. Look at the words with a fresh eye. If you begin to reread as soon as you finish, you’re too close to the story. You’ll miss mistakes.

Remember, you are the alpha reader of your story. You should enlist beta readers after you feel you’ve done your best. You don’t have to hire someone. There are groups who exchange services, family members and friends may volunteer. Be open to constructive criticism because in the end, you want your book to be error free and ready to be released to the world.


Summer Writing Series: Change is Good


Today my guest is Donna Driver, a Fire and Ice young adult author. I’m sure every writer can agree that we hope for someone to quote us or think our writing stands out from the rest! Thank goodness for editors and authors who listen to them. Kudos to Donna! As writers we have to be open to suggestions, revisions and anything else that will make our writing better. I really enjoyed this post. Hope you do, too.

A Great 1st Line (For Chapter Two) – by D. G. Driver

“No good calls ever came at two o’clock in the morning. Only ones that wipe out any hope of having a normal day. On this particular morning, it wiped out hope of anything ever being “normal” again.”

This was supposed to be the opening line of my novel Cry of the Sea. I was so proud of it. So proud! Yes, I envisioned its brilliance being quoted as one of the great opening lines of YA literature at many a writer’s conference for years to come. I loved it so much that no matter what I felt about the rest of the chapter, I was determined to keep that first line.

Why was I so sure? Or stubborn? I have attended so many writing workshops and read so many books and articles about the craft of writing novels. Several things have been drummed into my head. “Have a great opening line.” “Hook your reader from the first moment.” “Start where the action is.” “Start your novel where the protagonist’s life changes from its normal routine.” “Start on the day that is different.” And my favorite? “Get to the main point of the plot before page 30.”

So, I had this idea for a story about a girl who discovers mermaids caught in an oil spill. Based on everything I’ve learned, that meant she had to find the mermaids before page thirty. I also felt strongly that the story needed to start in the moments just before finding those mermaids. How best to do this? I thought it would be exciting to have her wake up to the alarming news of the oil spill and have her rushing out the door with her environmentalist father to get to the beach.

There were some problems with my idea. I had to somehow very quickly introduce my main character and her father, their relationship, and the reason they were going to an oil spill. There was a lot of information to share to have the story make any sense. I thought I’d be clever and get some of that out with a little flashback to the night before in order to explain a few things. Only, that flashback grew from a few paragraphs to a dozen pages before coming back to the big rush to the beach. More important writing advice haunted me: “Don’t have a big flashback in the opening chapter.”  “Don’t info dump.” “Show don’t tell.”

Oh, poo on all of that.  I had an awesome opening line!  It had to stay this way.

Well… I sent my first chapter to a few agents and editors. No one sent me back praise for my glorious first line. No one requested more pages either. I grew frustrated. Yet, I didn’t revise. I’d already revised the book over and over, and I didn’t know how to do it again. Not without ruining my opening line. The writing advice I knew conflicted in my brain.

Bless the team at Fire and Ice, though. They stumbled past my opening chapter and read on to find the story that followed it.  They offered to publish the book and sent Megan Orsini, my editor, to help me out. Her very first note to me:

“I think the flashback in the opening chapter is too long. I forgot it was a flashback. Why don’t you make that the opening chapter and put the phone call and oil spill scene in chapter two.”

But… but… That would put my opening line in chapter two.  Do you hear me whining?

I knew Megan was right, and I followed her advice. I wound up completely rewriting the whole opening to my book. With her guidance, I actually revised the opening chapter six times and the first page an additional two after that. Now my opening line is: “You ready to see how the next big change in your life is going to look?” as asked by June’s father. No, this won’t put me in any lists of great opening lines, but it works. The book works better too.  And guess what? We still meet mermaids on page 22.  Yay!

So, friends, what I’ve learned: don’t marry your words and do trust your editor. With a sly wink, however, I’m happy to announce that a woman who recently reviewed Cry of the Sea on her blog included a quote from my book. Which of my words did she use?  My opening line – of Chapter Two.

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Find Donna here:

Fire and Ice YA

Website: www.dgdriver.com




Summer Writing Series: It’s All in the Mind


Summer Writing Series continues! I am excited at the response I’ve had from my author friends and can’t wait to share them with you. There are so many eclectic ideas and writers. I want to introduce you to another YA author from Fire and Ice—Erin Elliot.

Erin is a girl after my own heart. She had me at…the idea for her book started in her head. I can identify with that and how a story unfolds in the mind. There are many ways to write a story and that is just one of them. Read on to find out about how another young adult author, Erin Elliot, writes her novels.

My Writing Process

Until the last year, I didn’t have an answer for this. Sure, I had always wanted to be a writer and until I actually started the process, I thought it was something that was easily accomplished, but I found out just how wrong I was. It all starts with an idea. For me, I work out that idea in my head. I decide what I want to name my main characters, what I want the title to be, and how ultimately, I would like the book to end. Then the fun part, or the most nerve-wracking part for me, begins. Some people have trouble motivating their self to write on a daily basis until their story is done. Me, I have trouble making myself take breaks, especially when my characters are screaming at me, begging me to write their stories down. This is the part that weighs the most heavily on my mind and I literally feel like my brain is trying to implode. You know that feeling when you’re taking a test, that’s what it feels like for me only ten times worse. It’s both a horrible and wonderful feeling, which consumes my life until I get the story all down.

Then comes the various stages of editing. For me, this part isn’t quite as tedious, but it is time consuming. In my case, I revise my story, have my oldest son look at it and give me his opinion, and then I revise it again. I also have beta readers look at it and give me input on what needs to be changed and what is working really well. Basically, I’m cleaning it up to show off to the huge world of publishing. Getting into the publishing companies or literary agencies is a whole other story and one that takes a great deal of time. My best advice to this point is believe in yourself, believe in your story, and don’t give up.

Once, my book has been contracted, I begin working on the next story idea until my book is ready to go through the final editing process. I learned through my first round of edits, that this can be very personal and sometimes very painful. It’s not easy to let someone else read your work and at the same time, tear it apart in order to make it the very best that it can be. It’s a necessary evil and it helps to keep an open mind as well as a good working relationship with your editor and proofer. They mean well and they want your story to sell, too.

When I first stepped foot into the world of writing I, like so many people, thought it would be a simple process, without hardly any work involved. Since becoming engrossed in this world, I have learned quite the opposite holds true. Writing books is a difficult and extraordinarily personal event. You put your heart and soul into a book for the world to read. It is time consuming as well as thought consuming. Is it something that I love? Yes, writing books has become a passion and I encourage everyone who has the courage to write, to do so. The rewards far outweigh the amount of work that goes into it.

Erin has just released the first book of her series. Find her here:

Fire and Ice Young Adult Books


Edits…Editing…Where does it all end?



I’m in the middle of edits for my second book. Since I don’t drink coffee or smoke cigarettes I can’t paint you a picture of my desk filled with those things. No coffee rings or a collection of half-filled mugs surround me. A cup of tea is more my style.

Writing is a lonely job, but when I start edits, it feels like someone else is now involved in my story. First instinct is to say, “How dare you?”  After careful consideration some suggestions make sense.

Writing is subjective. What one person loves, another may not. I recently had an author friend get a not-so-great review. She sent me an email to cry on my shoulder. She was hurt. We, authors, are sensitive souls and want everyone to love our work.

I read the review, and because it wasn’t about my book, I tried to find the positives…like in editing. There were a few comments that could be turned around into constructive criticism but I came to the conclusion the book wasn’t for this particular reader. It wasn’t her cup of tea. The author’s book has 20 other good reviews, so again, it’s subjective.

Editing has a place in all our lives. Sometimes we need someone to point out mistakes and we need to fix them. Sometimes, not. I think it’s how we go about it that makes the difference.

Funny how doing a simple thing like editing can make you start thinking about life in general. How you treat people. Is it okay to edit them? Sure, as long as we accept some editing in our own lives. It’s just how you go about it.

The next time you want to write an unkind review or critique a friend’s choices or give an opinion, you may want to edit that comment before it gets put out there in the world. It’s all in the way you say it. Look for the positive. You may make someone’s day.