Fond Farewell

June 11, 2008 at 11:21 am | Posted in Bria, life, writing | 10 Comments

When I graduated from college and then later repeated the event with grad school, one thing stood out in my head, one question echoed both times.WHAT DO I DO NOW?

Not that I was directionless or jobless or ambitionless or any other -less you want to throw out there, but time-wise I was shocked at how much time opened up from clearing out something I loved.

And boy, did I love school. I’m one of those lifetime learners people either completely identify with or think are nuts. But, even with the classes, commuting and commitment ending with the diploma handoff, the drive to fill that time was still there. Read! Write! Study! are difficult habits to break.

And so, while writing my last blog entry for Purple Hearts, I’m walking away with some amazing things.

The habit of regular research: The publishing industry is a complex and ever changing world. Working with Jessica has been an amazing, eye opening experience. I know few people who not only grasp the information and intricacies of the publishing world, but hold them and balance that knowledge in their heads for further dissemination.

The habit of balance: Meg has shown me that sometimes, REALLY, saying ‘when’ is important. Sometimes just knowing we can say ‘when’ give us the freedom to follow what we want and combine it with what we need.

The habit of reaching out: I have been amazed and humbled by the people who have been guest bloggers, commenters, blog-rollers, subscribers and drop-by visitors of the Purple Hearts. I have learned more through things people said in passing here – that to them may have been common sense – than to a lot of craft books I’ve read.

And so, as I take these new habits and apply them to my writing life, I know that this year of blogging has created a new writing me. A great thing to walk away with.

Thank you so much to everyone who has, on some level, been a Heartlette and participated in our merry little blog.

Check in over at my page where I’ll be occasionally updating with Things I Learn, Authors I Love and * hopefully* someday The Big News: HERE.

Good Luck to everyone. Don’t forget to keep writing because that’s what will get us there.


Second Book Stall-out

June 4, 2008 at 9:19 am | Posted in Bria, editing, Fast Draft, inspiration, writing | 3 Comments

Every once in awhile we all have an “ah-ha” moment. I’m always jealous of writers who seem to get at least one big thing from every book, every speaker, ever workshop. Often, I feel my head nodding in agreement without the actual big moment coming. Lots of little, ‘yup. I got that’s’ but not a lot of epiphanies.

So, here I am, stalled out on the second book, and looking for an epiphany. A big AH-HA to get me moving again, when ironically enough, a discussion starts on the diva board last evening about first book fear.

I didn’t have that. I had no idea about all the ‘rules’ I was supposed to be following until the story was on the page. It was poorly written, but had great a great story and characters I connected with.

It took 5 weeks to write.

It took almost a year to re-write and edit.

Book two is obviously a completely different story (literally and figuratively) – I couldn’t grasp a strong desire to start book two.

Until last weeks blog.

Looking at the first pages of the first draft of my first manuscript truly opened my eyes. It was horrible. It didn’t flow, had errors all over the place, the world rules were in consistent, my sentence structure was blah, etc.

Book one, my beloved book one, was horrible.

Suddenly my metaphorical eyes opened. I could write horrible.

You see, all this time I thought I needed to write book two to the standard I had attempted to edit book one to. That is not going to happen because that took ten months.

We all repeat it again and again, but it’s apparently my turn to mis-quote the words of La Nora. “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank one.”

And so, Fast Draft is alive and well again. I’m FDing book two as we speak. It has its own challenges.

I’m doing less writing straight through because of chapters moved from the end of book one to the middle of book two. I’m having to go ‘back in time’ in a way to when my characters were younger, less evolved than where those moved chapters left them. I’m fighting against shifting directions because I like some of those moved chapters so much.

But still, I’m writing. I’m getting my 20 pages a day down and moving toward an extremely bad fast draft.

Just like book one.

Hearing the truth – Writing is Re-Writing – and knowing the truth are two different things, but it’s an ah-ha moment I won’t forget when it’s time to write book four. Or book five. Or. . .you get the point.
So, set aside your doubts, insecurities, annoyances and Go Write.

A Year’s Worth of Learning

May 28, 2008 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Bria, dialogue, editing, format, self-editing, Tina Ferraro, writing | 9 Comments

Somewhere — under the bed, behind a bookshelf, on a flash drive at the back of a drawer — you have the first draft of your first manuscript. Go pull it out.

No. Seriously. Go Pull It Out.

OK — If you’ve been following the Purple Hearts, you know I only began writing (again since college) a little over a year ago. Every time I turn around I feel as if I’m learning something new. I’m currently taking Margie Lawson’s ‘Deep EDITing’ course. Run as fast as you can to go take that class! Self-Editing is vital to success.

So, in an effort to see what I’ve learned, I pulled the first 10 pages of my first draft of my first manuscript. Pull yours out and let’s see, shall we?

1. OPENING: Amazingly enough, I started in the correct place – go me! Not as impressive, I opened in the wrong POV. I started in the POV of a secondary character watching the MC as a boy. It makes sense in a lot of ways BUT, it creates an incorrect view of who the story will be following and will easily confuse the reader.
2. POV: Since we’re talking POV, let’s look at that. Two Word: Headhopping (yes, I know that’s 1 word, but it’s a shout out to our girl Tina Ferraro!) I got dizzy following it. I’ve since learned how to pick out scene POV, stay consistent, and transition to the next one.
3. FORMATING: You’re supposed to format these in a specific way? Font? Margins? Spacing? WOW! What looked easy to read a year ago now looks like a train wreck of ink on paper. If you’re looking to see how to set up proper formatting, we did a post on it HERE.

4. TELLING: Surprisingly enough, this wasn’t as horrible as I expected. The opposite was actually true in many places – showing where I should have been telling. Sometimes, you need to just place a one line tell in there to keep the pace, flow and cadence of your story moving. I’ve learned a lot about how to balance that.
5. VAGUE: Just because something is clear to me, doesn’t mean it’s clear on the page. I’ve gotten a lot better at spotting those, at being a reader separate from myself as a writer when looking at my stuff.
6. PUNCTUATION: It’s true. Bad punctuation does distract from the story – no matter how good it is. Dialogue punctuation seems to be a specific problem the more people’s stuff I CP. HERE is a post on how to properly punctuate dialogue.
7. SENTENCE STRUCTURE: Often when trying to get the story on the page, my first attempt looks like this:

Brennid VERB. . . . He VERB. . . .DISCRIPTIVE SENTENCE. . .He VERB. . .She VERB. . .They VERB. . .

How boring! I had to move things around, shake them up and often make passive statements active. A great way to see your structure is to find replace your main characters’ names and “he” and “she” so they’re a bright, bold color. How many kick off a sentence? 


8. PASSIVE: Speaking of passive sentences – Not only does making your sentences active make the reader more involved and the pace quicker but it also forces a hard look at sentence structure.

So, that’s my first year Big Learnings. How about you? What’s changed in your writing this year.

Let us know so we can learn it too!


List of Lists for Writers

May 21, 2008 at 9:08 am | Posted in Bria, inspiration, motivation, writing | 5 Comments

I love lists. I love lists ALMOST as much as spreadsheets. And so, since lists are amazing, here is a List of Lists for Writers.

If you aren’t a member of, get in there. It lets you choose what themed pages you jump through and allows you to find things you never would have seen if you were just randomly searching.

Get ready to start bookmarking these!

19 Posts Writers Shouldn’t Ignore: Sharon at ‘Get Paid to Write’ put together a list of sites to help you promote your writing and yourself.

Techniques for Creative Thinking: Collectively, there are several hundred techniques published in books by Michael Michalko, Andy Van Gundy, James Higgins, Dilip Mukerjea and others. Techniques are like tools in a workshop, with different tools for different parts of the creative process. For example, there are techniques for defining a problem, exploring attributes of a problem, generating alternatives, visual explorations, metaphors, analogies, and evaluating and implementing ideas. HERE is a small selection of techniques.

The Top 5 FREE Software Programs Every Writer Should Have put together this great list. I’ll admit, not the techno person I wish I was, but THIS sure helped me find what I need.

150 Resources to Help You Write Better – This is from OEDb (Online Education Database) I managed to kill an amount of time which shall not be admitted here with this website. I also sucked in a large number of the FlanTastics. It’s worth checking out.

Top Read Writing Information Article Listing: From ‘Writing Information’ – 100 must read articles for writers. Their tagline is “Articles To Hone Your Writing Skills To Perfection!” And they’re right!

List of Proofreaders Marks – Confused by what some of those little squiggles mean? Clear it all up HERE with the visual, the example and the explanation.

Top 10 Grammar Myths: One of my favorite sources, Grammar Girl, did a great Top 10 list. Check it out HERE.

Commonly Overused Words – When I was in fourth grade I had a teacher who took away the words ‘good’ and ‘nice’ from our vocabulary. We couldn’t write them. We couldn’t say them. We couldn’t think them (I’m pretty sure she knew when we broke this rule too.) So, I’m thinking of taking away a new word a week. This list should help – challenge your vocabulary with the list and its suggested replacement words HERE.

The Writinghood has a list of websites dedicated to words HERE: For the Love of Words: Seven Wonderful Websites Where Words Matter

Need resources for proper grammatical usage, citation formats, or paper writing. Check out Internet Public Library’s HERE.

Inkalicious does a “Writer’s Cheat Sheet” with lots of great boiled down summaries HERE.

Every tried journaling and not been able to get into it? Here’s Litemind’s 13 Tools to Making Journaling Work for You.

Every day a new reason to write/edit/live the dream. Start on Day One HERE and see where your at on Day 100.

50+ Open Courseware Writing Classes from the World’s Leading Universities —- Free learning! Enough said.

In the spirit of the list of lists, here is a post called DON’T (a list) at one of my favorite blogs, Ask Daphne. Before you write that query letter, check it out HERE.

Hope you found the list-list helpful. Do you have a favorite? Post it in our comments section! And then, Go Write


Inspiration to Write

May 7, 2008 at 11:54 am | Posted in Bria, inspiration, writing | 4 Comments
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Inspiration is a funny thing.


It comes at weird times in different ways and surprising avenues. Sometimes just hearing or thinking about things outside your normal scope of interest can spur a inspired moment.


Here are some things that have inspired me in the last week:


Marissa Doyle’s first book, Bewitching Season, came out – it’s a fun read with character’s you’ll fall in love with. Don’t believe me? Go check out her character being interviewed at NineteenTeen for a chance to win a copy.





Marley Gibson’s first two books came out this week and seeing her joy – as well as getting to share it – at her book launch party was so inspiring!


My CP while looking at Markbearer came back this week to tell me how much she enjoyed reading it. My CP is asking for book two!


My characters have been driving me crazy. They want their stories told now! And hearing the questions people are asking about the next book, does this happen, is that person good or bad, will these two end up together. . . Is definitely inspiring!


StumbleUpon is a new toy for me. Sanroe was kind enough to kick off the Purple Heart’s summary page and now I’m addicted to clicking the next button to see what’s out there. I’ve found title generators, fun writing prompts, industry information, and other author’s sharing their stories – all these make me want to set pen to paper.


Other writers – I was lucky enough to hear Diana Groe (Emily Bryan) speak last night. She was witty, intelligent and informative. I’ve gone to hunt down another one of her books already. She told a great story about Staying Published – it really pushed me to keep moving forward.


Classes and Classmates – I’m taking Margie Lawson’s online class on Deep EDITing and highly recommend it. But one of the most inspiring moments so far was when Margie quoted classmate Nancy Haddock’s next book as an example. WOW! To get your book quoted in a class as a strong example of great craft – not to mention being in the class when it happened.  Plus, I was even more excited knowing that Nancy was blogging for us this month too!


Spring (or summer or fall or winter) – While fall will always be my favorite season, any time the weather changes seems to be a kick in the butt for me – Each season a earthy-makeover for the landscape around us.


So, find something this week that makes you look at your writing with new eyes, excited and inspired and then, Go Write

A Writer’s Cautionary Tale

April 30, 2008 at 9:54 am | Posted in agents/ editors, Bria, career, writing | 8 Comments


Since I began writing I’ve heard the horror stories.


I sent in a query and never heard back.

Such and Such agent/editor has had my partial for nine months and still nothing.

She asked for sample pages and responded eleven months later.


So, when I sent out my query and thought “I’ll have a week of and then can start a slow read of my manuscript to take care of all the little stuff,” I didn’t think this would be a problem.


Then it began – the request for partials came any where from one hour and forty-eight minutes to not yet (two weeks later and only on the snail-mail queries.)


I’ll admit it. I’m shocked. I had been programmed to believe that the publish industry moves like molasses from start to finish. Apparently, it starts like shooting the rapids and slows to a meandering river.


And then the real shocker – A request for a Full (note the capitalization)


Now, with all the little things to do, I’ve canceled every other aspect of my life I could: Dinners with friends, hearing speakers, going to the movies, reading.


It’s amazing how long the ‘little things’ take. Sure, each one really does take just a second or two, but how many are there? Are you sure you got them all? Did changing one make you go back to adjust another?


So, take this as a cautionary tale. Polishing should be done before Querying. I know they say that, and we all think — “But I’m going to have weeks, maybe months, before I hear back from anyone.”


Don’t do it.


Learn from me.


And Go Write,


Writing as a Career

April 23, 2008 at 11:58 am | Posted in Bria, career, writing | 2 Comments

Just like any career, a writing career should have certain parameters. And, also like any other career, starts out as a job.

Let’s take a look:

JOB DESCRIPTION: A standard job description has a list of duties, hours worked, who you report to, and who your “customers” are.

For example: Author: Works a set standard of 2 hour a day minimum, seven days a week. Her duties include: writing, editing, researching, synopsizing, querying, critiquing for CP, weekly CP meeting and other duties as needed. Author is her own boss as well has having a dotted-line reporting to CP.

MANAGER: The person you report to.

For example: Author reports to self to hit self designated goals with dotted-line reporting to CP to hit group goals and to be accountable for self-outlined goals.

Future supervisors: Agent and Editor.

BENEFITS: Forms of payment, monetary and otherwise.

For example: Author receives 2 Starbucks Venti Black Iced Teas for every week she completes her hours. At the end of project deadlines, there will be a large bonus as ascribed at the beginning of the project if target dates are hit.

VACATION: Time off from work.

For example: Between each large deadline, author receives one week off time (ie post-Fast Drafting, post-Revisions, post-polish, etc.)
Vacation time must be planned in advance.

SICK TIME & PERSONAL TIME: Unforeseen time when work hours are missed. This is at the discretion of your manager.

PERKS AND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES: The company shall set aside $30 weekly for the author to pursue learning and professional opportunities.

Remember, like any job you need to like what you do and dedicate yourself to your tasks. Treating your writing as a job is the only way to make it a career. Act professionally, plan strategically and know where your going.

But most importantly, Go Write.

Critique Partners and the CP Visit

April 16, 2008 at 8:56 am | Posted in Bria, editing, friendship, writing | Leave a comment
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Check out Jessica’s post below on her conference experience. I’d like to second everything she said.

After the conference, my is-adorable Critique Partner stuck around for a few days to pound through some pages. It’s the first time we’ve done this and we learned a lot about structuring our visits. Here’s the Top Ten List we came up with at 1am.

  1. You never need as much junk food as you think you do when you’re standing in the grocery story
  2. Sometimes, not having the Internet is a very good thing
  3. Sometimes, not having the Internet is an absolutely horrible thing
  4. Goals. Goals. Goals.
  5. Sleep is completely overrated
  6. Sleep is your friend, try to get more of it
  7. When having to do the dreaded synopsis, having your CP sitting across the table from you waiting to see it forces you to stop crying and write the darn thing
  8. If you aren’t agreeing on a critique point, often getting away from it can make you see what your CP is trying to tell you – She’s often right, that’s why she’s your CP
  9. Don’t tie your visits around another big event – the conference she came for was great, but we focused so much of our energy on it that we were too beat to get everything out of our visit we would have liked
  10. Critique Partners are a unique relationship. I have amazing women who crit my stuff online and also my week-by-week CP, Ann. If you’re not building these relationships, get out there and do it. They are invaluable. We both agree, we learn as much working on the other person’s stuff as we do our own.

Now, stop thinking about visits and meetings and conferences, and Go Write!

A Writer’s Glossary of Terms

April 9, 2008 at 9:51 am | Posted in Bria, writing | 2 Comments

Often in the comments or in the writer’s forum I’m in, newer writers as about the meaning of words or acronyms. For example, when I started writing a more experienced writer told me “show don’t tell me what’s going on.” I thought she wanted me to send her the actual pages so she could look at them. Yeah. I’ve learned a lot.

Here are some of the things that caught me up when I started writing. I’d love to hear some stories from you as well!

ARC – “Advanced Readers Copies” are an early printing of your book typically sent to reviewers and booksellers.

CP – “Critique Partner” – Read my post HERE on setting up that relationship so it will be successful

Dialogue Tag – These show the reader who’s speaking. There are two types, speaker attribution tags (Bria said) and action/beat tags (Bria rolled her eyes)

Genre Fiction – Specific type of novel (Mystery, Romance, Fantasy, etc)

MS – “Manuscript”

Partial – Typically a synopsis and three chapters (although this can vary by requester)

Plagiarism – Because apparently this needs to be addressed lately. If you didn’t write it and you use it without credit, that’s plagiarism. Period.

POV – “Point of View” dictates who is telling the story and how. Writing On The Wall did a great break down blog on this HERE

Query – A one page letter asking an editor or agent if they would be interested in your project

RUE – “Resist the Urge to Explain” – if you’re seeing this, you’re reader is telling you they g

SASE – “Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope” – When sending a query, partial, submission to an editor or agent, always include a SASE and ensure that it has enough postage for the return mailing

Series / Line – Sometimes it’s just better to point the way. Kate Elliot has a great post on classifying series HERE

Show V Tell – If you’re hearing this a lot, you’re most likely trying to tell the reader how your character feels instead of showing the reaction. The very impressive Maria V Snyder has a clear discussion of it HERE

Single Title – A book that stands alone and is not part of a series

Sub-genre – A further division of a genre. For example, if you’re reading a romance set in a historical time period, it’s a Historical Romance. Set in the early American west, it’s a Western Romance, and so on

Synopsis – A brief overview of your story that highlights key plot elements, emotional development, conflict and outcome

WIP – “Work In Progress” – Whatever project you’re working on that isn’t complete

Hope that helps some of our newer readers. I’m sure everyone has a different ‘what they wish they had known’ story, feel free to add them in the comments.

Then, Go Write,

Words That Get In The Way

April 2, 2008 at 11:41 am | Posted in Bria, editing, writing | 3 Comments
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Being able to tell a great story is only part of succeeding as an author. It’s those pesky words and mechanics that get in the way. Here’s a quick run down of some of the most common word errors.

Don’t be that guy.

In to/Into AND Onto/On to – Into/Onto are prepositions, so they need an object.  For example: Into the house, Onto the table, Into the car. . .

Tina Blue has a great example of how to keep them straight. Just remember these two examples:

1. She turned her paper in to the teacher.
2. She turned her paper into the teacher. POOF – Her paper is now a teacher!

Its/It’s AND Who’s/Whose –  I struggled with this one when I was young. Which word gets the apostrophe? In both cases it’s the contraction – remember, the apostrophe replaces the missing letters. IT’S it’s.

Affect/Effect – Affect: To influence. Effect: A result. Check out Grammar Girl for great guidelines.

Farther/Further – Farther is a distance. Further is a greater degree.
She drove farther to get here than I did. This matter will take further investigation.

Who/That – Remember, a person is a “who” – Jessica, who is on the blog with me, writes great posts.

Often a mistake commonly made is writing how we speak. For example: could of, should of, would of. These should actually be could/would/should have.  “I should have checked my spelling before handing in my paper.”

A typical new writer mistake are homonyms, words that sound alike but are spelled different and have different meanings. When I’m writing on auto-pilot, my biggest homonym error is Thrown/Throne. My hero is not going to claim his ‘thrown’ – no matter how many times I type it.  Check out Alan Cooper’s “All About Homonyms” page – he has an amazing list!

So there are the basic mistakes I struggled with when I began writing. Let’s hear yores – I mean yours.


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