About Me

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May - 2016: Upcoming, I'll be participating in Desert Sleuth's Donald Maass Workshop. I'm afraid it sold out months ago, but if you have questions, contact me.

Apr - 2016: A 2nd Kami Short will release in the Malice Domestic anthology in Bethesda MD. I'll also be moderating a panel with authors Karen Pullen, Sue Cox, and Gretchen Archer. Don't miss the fun! I'll have special edition signed copies of the 1st Kami Short from the SinC - Desert Sleuth anthology to hand out for free.

Apr - 2016: An adult short story, Big Horn Mountain Carnivores, was selected as the adult category winner in the Tempe Community Writing Contest loosely associated with Arizona State University! The e- & print release where I read a portion of the story was the greatest fun. Thank you everyone who came by! Free download here (scroll to bottom): 

Aug - 2015: Politics of Chaos was released at an event attended by the awesome NYTimes best-selling author Sara Paretsky! Also, a flash fiction entitled, "Lightning" was 3rd runner up in the national 2015 Writers Police Academy's contest.

July - 2015: NYC FBI headquarters. Many thrilling authors were there, the presentations were fantastic, and the experience was a solid 15 on a 10 point scale. Thank you to the International Thriller Writers for inviting me. Thank you to the men and women of the FBI.

MAY - 2015: The Poisoned Pen submitted Chaos Theory for the 2015 Edgar's young adult novel award. Please note that submission is NOT a nomination. Still, it is an exciting development.

MAR - 2015:Tucson Festival of Books booksigning! Great time by all.

FEB - 2015: CHAOS THEORY, released by The Poisoned Pencil, an imprint of The Poisoned Pen Press - one of the nation's largest publishers of hard-back mysteries.

MAR - 2013: Meg was honored to receive a year long mentorship from author Jan Blazanin through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - Iowa. Ms. Blazanin praised Meg's multiple characters' distinct and age appropriate voices.

Her writing blog is located at megevonne.blogspot.com contains reviews and writing craft tools.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Writing Systems: What Works for Me

I've been asked how I organize my research and my work. Here is the short answer, and who would ever want the long answer? LOL

Plain old word doc by chapter here and extensive excel sheets: for characters, for chapters names, for scene goals (reason for being there), for color highlighting the rating tension level of scenes (to assure that it is ever ratcheting up as the book progresses), for color highlighting tension type such as action, sexual, etc within scenes to make sure they balance nicely, and for word count by chapter, by section, and total for entire work.

I keep image files: of characters, of locations, of maps, of research type photos such as weapons or costumes. I keep excel sheets with web addresses for my research sites.

I keep a 'to do' list while re-reading or editing--so I don't waste creative juices editing when the muse is speaking into my ear. I can then go back and fix what I had found objectionable when my mind wants to wear the editor's cap.

I work off flash drives, which are effective and easy, but I keep one steno pad (or more) for every manuscript where I doodle and work out complicated world info. I fanatically back up on two separate computers as well.

I never begin a second full draft edit without first using shrunken manuscript concept to find white space, then dialog vs description, then dialog without good physical action, then I fix that first. This is followed by searches for every 'ly' adverb, for most, always, just, seems etc and the infamous 'said'. (Seriously have you heard an Audible book that has a gazillion 'said' after 'said' after 'said'--give my ears and my intelligence a break folks. If you didn't show me who that character speaking is through action and that character's voice--you already lost me!) Shrunken manuscript is crucial. I keep everything. That helps me cut my babies. They are there if I change my mind.

I believe that the Google cloud will be my final home, but for now--I don't have the hard control I want to have on the editing process there.

Some downsides: Once I compile it into the single manuscript after I've gone through several drafts--life gets complicated. As I set up pages for agents, I can't keep from tweaking, and those tweaks don't always make it back into the original manuscript. (Not sure they should--often times the tweaks are god-awful mistakes.) Problem is that I start to get confused on which is the most recent vetted pages and are they in the single manuscript or not? I don't know if other writer programs would solve that or not. Generally those are e-mails that I save, so they are located on a whole different platform.

I keep everything, labeling chapters 01.23 (Chapter 1, rewrite 23 etc) for example. And yes, that is a 23. I begin every writing session re-reading and editing the last scene, then move on to 'get-her-done' writing. If it takes a week to get that scene right, I can have seven versions before I ever begin real editing. FYI, that next scene is firm in my mind: who, what, when, why, how, emotions & conflicts of each character set, etc.

I tried Scriver beta, but it was more complex than what I use. I don't like to fight a system while I'm writing. Also, my Toshiba has a cool bulletin board that is excellent, but over time the short cuts can get lost and I have to relocate and reattach--especially when I do my year end back up into a safe deposit box. That bulletin board though gives me one central location to easily click back and forth. My bulletin board has over six projects, and two of those are series. Proof that the visual nature of a bulletin board is invaluable for organization.

Bottom line? Your system shouldn't fight with how you write from day one through publication date. If you obsess with systems, you'll never get to the real work and fun of simply writing. Systems can be a safe haven for procrastinators. Are you a writer or a procrastinator? Speaking of procrastination, just how much of your precious writing time are you blogging, facebooking, tweeting, e-mailing? How much true writing time have you lost? If you haven't figured it out by seeing how infrequently I blog, you can take that as a positive sign my WiP is gripping me tightly.

Just write and your system will evolve by your third manuscript. It will be perfected by your eighth!

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