Monday, January 30, 2012

Storyboarding a Novel

For Book 3 of the Tales of Gymandrol series, I decided to try "storyboarding." This is a technique most often used by screenwriters, movie people, etc. I had heard of an author using it and...light bulb! Why not try it for writing a novel?

What I've done with THE SEVENTH BLESSING and THE HIDDEN BLESSING is a mix of writing in a journal and typing on my laptop. If I'm away from home without the laptop, I use my journal. I LOVE writing, especially with fine tip pens. (I have one that is .38! Can you believe that?) Yup, the little things make me happy.

So, what did I need for the storyboarding? A poster board (had one!) and lots of Post-it notes (check!). Unfortunately, I did not have all of one color. This greatly distressed the freaky organized person that I am. Why did I have to mix blue and orange Post-its? *sigh* Moving on. I started writing major plot points that knew that I wanted to hit in the story. I wrote what I had already written down in the rough draft and then looked over my outline. (Yes, I'm an outliner. I makes my brain happy.) I kept writing short sentences on the Post-its and throwing them at the poster board. After I had about five, I would stick them to the board. "Does that make sense? Am I alternated points of view enough? Um. No. I need a bit more of Donovan in between these two scenes of Holly." Pick up and move Post-its. "Yes. Okay...nail it down." Put numbers at the top of Post-its that I know won't change. Repeat over and over until board is filled/all major plot points have been hit. 

Large view of my desk with the storyboard of epic proportions

Starting with "1"

I obviously get inspired and write "OH!" and use lots of exclamation points.

Red was for the things I needed to check out.

And more notes...

I really needed to do this. I had a character who is...well, I don't want to give any spoilers. Let's just say that I didn't know how he would end up doing what he does. I have Point A and Point C. I needed the Point B. I was able to get there! I'm sure Chris thought I was losing my mind as I stared at the bookshelves, thinking about possibilities. Actually, he did wave his hand in front of my eyes and ask, "Sweetie? Are you there?" And I had to explain about my brain popping out all these ideas. And finally, "Yes! Got it! Awesome." And I scribbled it down.

So what happens next? I started from the very beginning of my story. (I've written 50 pages so far - 21,000 words.) I combed through it, making sure what I had written jived with my new storyboard ideas. That took a while but it was totally worth it. I ended up adding more characters (who are SO cute!) and changing a few scenes. Not spelling everything out. Not showing who the real villain is. All that good stuff. I really like the way "Holly's story" is shaping up. It will eventually have a real name. That's next.

It'll be THE ______________ BLESSING. ;)

Happy writing! (and storyboarding!)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Month of Letters

I SO love this challenge! I love getting *real* mail and sending it as well. I have so much pretty stationary that I never get to use. Well, here's my chance! It's the "Month of Letters" challenge. There's a link to the side of my blog but I'll include the link here as well (click on the image to the side). If you would like to be pen pals, let me know! I promise I'm not a creeper. :)

Happy (letter) writing!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

THIS made my day!!

THIS just happened. I opened up my email and...


Dear Melissa,

This Spring (before 4/1) you will be contacted by a MeeGenius editor who will assist you in getting your manuscript ready for production. Once the manuscript has been edited and finalized, you will be paired up with the MeeGenius illustrator who best suits your style, and your manuscript will become a reality.

We are so thrilled at the number of wonderful submissions we received, and glad you were one of the entries! We'll speak with you this spring about launching your book on MeeGenius!

Look forward to working with you,
The MeeGenius Team
©2012 MeeGenius, Inc | 10001

And like this:


My legs were shaking and I almost starting crying. But I was in public and my boys were with me. And I didn't have any tissues. So I held it in. Now I can squeal! *runs around screaming*

Book Three Writing Playlist

When I'm writing, I need to listen to music. It helps my brain somehow. So, if you want to know what I'm listening to, here you go!

Book Three Writing Playlist by Melissa Buell on Grooveshark

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On My Bookshelf: Middle Grade Edition

I know many bloggers have a "In My Mailbox" vlog but I decided instead to do an "On My Bookshelf" vlog. I LOVE middle grade books. And I owe a lot of them. So, here I am talking about them. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Social Networking Sites

I read an awesome article lately about social networking sites. Basically, it said to make sure you're on EVERYTHING. Because you never know where your readers might be. Are they on Twitter? Get a Twitter account. And use it. ;)  Are they on Facebook? Post regularly on FB. Do you have a Youtube channel? Make one. How 'bout Tumblr? Flickr? Photobucket? etc. etc. etc.

I went down the list and was happy about what I already had. I tweet regularly and connect with other writers and readers. I use Facebook frequently. I blog several times a week. I've heard of Tumblr and I actually signed up for it 6 months ago...and never used it. I signed back in today and then had to read a "wikihow" page about the best way to use Tumblr. Because I really didn't know what to do with it. Some sites are easier to navigate than others.

I made my first "vlog" (video log) and posted in on my Youtube channel. Once I figure out how to edit in an efficient manner (as in, not taking a hour or two), I'll be able to make the vlogs a bit more concentrated. And edit out my weird comments. Unless people like to see me in my unbridled nerdiness.

How do you use social networking sites? Do you have fun? That's one of my main goals. If it isn't fun, it's likely that it won't be used effectively or often.

Happy networking!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What's a beta? (Not a fish!)

I've talked about sending my books out to "betas" before. If you've been scratching your head, thinking, "Why is she sending out a story to a FISH?!" Ha. No, a "beta" refers to a "beta reader" as in one of those test people who...tests...things. Like computer programs. Or books!

I have a handful of close friends who love to read and give great feedback on my stories. They've read Book One and Book Two which I SO SO SO appreciate. I need to make sure that what I said in Book One carries over to Book Two. That things make sense. That characters are true to what I've written before. That I don't have any plot holes. All those things that readers will catch if you mess up.

If you are a writer and DON'T have a beta reader or a critique partner, I'd ask you, "Why not??" I know that it's scary to put yourself out there by letting someone else read what you've labored over. But if you can't let a friend read it, how are you going to let the public at large read it????

There a LOTS of places to find a critique partner (CP). Look online or ask a friend that reads the genre that you write in. Be open to hearing criticism about your story.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book 3 Updates/Conundrums

I know some of you are scratching your heads thinking, "Book THREE? What about Book Two?!" Rest assured, faithful followers, Book Two is totally done. :)  It's been written, revised, edited, revised, edited, beaten the tar out of it, restuffed with awesomeness (hopefully!), and waiting to be put into the bookish format it needs to be in to print properly. Cover art is being worked on right now, yay!!! to Matt Maniscalco for that.

So...Book Three. Yes, I'm already writing the third book. I've been writing it for a while but had to put it aside to do the edits, etc. for Book Two. And now I'm stuck. No, not writer's block. I know where the story is going, I have the plot outlined, all that good stuff is in hand. The thing I'm "stuck" with is my main guy. I knew I had trouble with him when I couldn't even remember his name! I've given him three names, apparently. None really seemed to encapsulate who he IS. And I need for a name to do that. I finally figured out the reason I couldn't give him a name was because I didn't know him yet. I know Holly, my main girl character. I've been in her head for MONTHS. I know why she does what she does. I know her family background. I know her issues with impulse control. I know why she's so amazing at archery.

*Le sigh* I don't know Duncan/Donovan/Corbin in this way. I need to make a back story for him. The one I have is way too simple and boring. I need to give him some drama, some tragedy, some pizzazle. And that's where I'm stuck. I've been making notes in my head as I go through the day. "Oh! Maybe his mother is dead and that's why he..." "Maybe he had an older brother die and that's why..." and on and on and on.

That's what is taking up my time lately. I hope to give him a personality (AND a name!!) and then I'll let y'all know how that works out. ;)

Happy writing!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Goals for 2012

I'm a list maker. An organizer. A person who has to keep my little ducks in a row. So I have to make goals and lists. 'Cuz if I don't, I'd probably implode. And who wants that?

Writing goals, personal goals, traveling goals. That's pretty much what everything can be summed up into.

Writing Goals
-Finishing Book Three in 'The Tales of Gymandrol" series. (It's due in April.)
-Finishing the three other works-in-progress (WIP) that I currently have.

Personal Goals
-Keeping my house organized, despite my kids' best efforts to make it a shrine for toys. ;)
-Go to the gym more often but pacing myself so I don't get worse instead of better.
-Get my camera fixed so it takes better pictures.
-Work on the various craft projects I have started. (See? I need a deadline to get them done! And a person to give them to in order to motivate me!)
-Finish the watercolor picture that I started last year.

Traveling Goals
-Attend Book Expo America (BEA) in NYC this June. (It will be awesome!!)
-Attend several other writer conferences this year, particularly SCBWI conferences. (I haven't seen some of my peeps since last year!)
-Go camping in Yosemite with my family this summer. I've never been to Yosemite but I've always wanted to see the amazing landscape for myself. And take lots and lots of photos.

As I make more goals for myself, I might share them on here. I suppose it depends on what they are and if y'all are interested in knowing about them. :)

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Book Challenges

I've never really done "reading challenges" before last year. I just read whatever books I want to read. :) But, I joined and they had a "challenge" button asking how many books I would read that year. I guessed about 100.

I enjoyed the challenge and reading other book bloggers different challenges. I decided to find a few different challenges at the beginning of this year and join in!

So far I have:

2012 Fairy Tale Challenge

I'm doing the "happily ever after" level (Level 4).  :)  
"Read/watch any combination of original tales, modern tales, or films, resulting in 12 total selections."  

I'm attempting to do the Historical Fiction challenge from Historical Tapestry. (I love historical fiction but I've read so many books that it'll be hard to find something I haven't read yet that I want to read.)

I'm going with "Daring and Curious: 5 books" right now.

BOOKS I'VE READ (so far)
1.) "I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend" by Cora Harrison

I'm trying to find a "Classics" challenge. I found a challenge!

I'm challenging myself to read those classics that (for some reason) we never read in school. I know that I want to read a few books that I've had on my bookshelf for a very long time. (Last year I finally read The Great Gatsby and The Count of Monte Cristo!)

I'll do Level Two: 4-6 books

MY LIST TO READ (so far)
-A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
-Alice in Wonderland

Contemporary Reading Challenge


I do read a lot of YA contemps so this will be pretty easy.
I'm going to do the second option - "mix it up" with different genres in YA contemp.
Books - 10 (at least!)

1.) Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen
2.) What Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen


Eclectic Reader Challenge

I love the idea of this challenge!

Choose a book in each genre. Pretty easy, right? But we don't normally like to move out of our "norm" in reading. (And in life, too.)


  1. Literary Fiction
  2. Crime/Mystery Fiction -- "Stork Raving Mad" by Donna Andrews
  3. Romantic Fiction -- 
  4. Historical Fiction
  5. Young Adult -- "I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend" by Cora Harrison
  6. Fantasy
  7. Science Fiction
  8. Non Fiction
  9. Horror
  10. Thriller /Suspense
  11. Classic
  12. Your favourite genre