vanessamac: (Books)
2013-06-04 05:25 am

My long list of loves.

Recently I reviewed all of my story and novel notes.

Wow, there's PAGES of that stuff, all valuable in some way or form. I'm a copious idea jotter, note taker, and quote collector. I've got my ear, mind and eye scanning the world on all frequencies for something that sparks a scene or inspires a character or solidifies a plot.

I'm in a slightly dreaded place right now: too many ideas, not enough time.

But, if I had all the time in the world to write, wouldn't that burn me out?

I don't know. I've never had that experience.

But while walking down memory lane—I've been writing on these stories for YEARS—I got nostalgic for my old relationships with these characters. For me, I usually come up with a character first, and then the plot develops around them. There is Nash, the boy who has a dark secret but always shows a brilliant grin. Or Mrsharra, who doesn't want to disappoint her tribe, but so terribly wants to live a life outside of the planned box. Or Baron Leopold von Baden, the flesh golem who rises in challenge against a most righteous God and finds love in the most unexpected place: a twenty-something college student. Or Margery, an old woman long secluded, who has had her glass house broken by a unwitting trespasser. And of course Nekoka, my cliché cat-girl computer psychic who doesn't march to any drummer.

These and more, I love them. They are, each and every one of them, a part of me. I want their stories to be told, I want people to get to know them, understand them, love them as I do.

I have another fifteen minutes until class. I better get writing.
vanessamac: (Quill)
2013-04-12 09:49 am
Entry tags:

May be Habit Forming

And sometimes that's an okay thing. Like brushing your teeth, or changing your car oil on a regular schedule, or watering that unidentified potted plant that seems to suck the water down like a camel at an oasis stop.

Not all habit forming activities are bad. And writing daily is one of the good ones.

I think it is possibly the single most important tenet to live by for a writer:

Write Daily

The pros all tell you to do it. The amateurs tell you to do it. The agents tell you to do it. And once you start doing it, your own writing pixie tells you it's exactly what you need.

It's not an easy habit to start if you've a busy life. I've a full time job and a set of demanding hobbies. With the energy of that desert crossing camel a day before his oasis, I would come home from work, click on the laptop and stare, eyes blurry, at the last thing I'd written. About twenty minutes of skimming the zone, I'd finally realize what planet I was on and take off from my last line.

Not so efficient for me.

There's a trick to forming this habit

Fish in the Right Pond

When I was but a wee lass, I used to fish. Some lakes had bass. Some lakes had perch. Some lakes had bluegill. Some had all three, others had none. It's important to find your pond.

What do I mean?

Not every hour is your hour. For me, writing after a full day at the office was as fruitful as milking a chicken. My brain was already on Swiss cheese mode and all I really wanted to do was go for a run, surf the net and eat dinner.

So, I began to experiment with what time my brain felt the most creative and the most fresh. I've friends that write at 2 in the morning and go on these stampedes until noon the next day and then crash until 2 am and start it all over. I can't do that (remember, day job), but I wondered how the quiet hours of night/morning would work for me.

I set my alarm for 5 a.m.

That first week it pretty much sucked. Not the writing, but the waking up. I was a get-up-30-minutes-before-commute kinda woman. Then it got easier, and at times, the words just flowed. Now, I get up at 5, make tea, start up the writing beast and sit down to an hour of writing every workday morning.

I never considered myself a morning person, but my creative pixie just loves it. Sadist.

Either the Light of Day, or the Dark of Night

So, don't excuse yourself with "I've no time to write every day." If you want to improve yourself, you've got to. If you want to finish that novel, you've got to. The trick is to carve out that slice of time where you are your most efficient. Maybe you're a 5 a.m. person, or a 2 a.m. person, or someone who can slap together some great prose during your lunch break. Experiment. Find your pixie time and dance with her in the hours that you can.
vanessamac: (Books)
2013-03-21 08:08 pm
Entry tags:

Flying Elephant Short Story Prize

Here's another interesting short story contest, with the theme of And We Were Hungry For Nature. That's something I can agree with.

The Flying Elephants Short Story Prize

No length restrictions, but longer manuscripts (8,000–10,000 words) or shorter manuscripts (less than 2,000 words) will have to be truly exceptional to be shortlisted.

Prizes: 1st: $2,000; 2nd-4th: $1,000. Winners and 8 runners-up receive publication.

Deadline: April 30, 2013

Fees: None
vanessamac: (Default)
2013-03-20 05:38 am
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Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to Fillory We Go!

The Magician King
By Lev Grossman

Who doesn't wish Fillory was real? Or Hogwarts? Or Narnia?

The Magicians and the Magician King bring magic to life in a way day dreamers, young and old, hope for. Quentin Coldwater is just like you, or me, well, not really, he's a genius. But he's a dreamer, as those enmeshed in fantasy often are. As a child he was captivated by Fillory novels, as we were captivated by Narnia, or Hogwarts. For Quintin, though, magic was real, and he was able to become a magician.

The rest of us are lucky to get a three day weekend here and there and maybe a Christmas ham.

here be spoilers )
vanessamac: (Me - Top of the World)
2013-03-13 07:06 pm
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Reading through Awaken - Horror novel Rough Draft

So, my horror novel, Awaken, is done baking and now I'm reading through the rough draft. The first fourth of it is pretty polished, then I went through a NaNo frenzy on finishing it, got 50,000 rough (aka badly formed) words on it, then finished the entire novel in February.

Now, after letting it sit, I'm reading through it as my cats battle for my attention.

Looking forward to polishing this one up! I love the characters and I love my world. I'll have to write more about it here.
vanessamac: (Default)
2013-03-06 06:06 pm
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Biblical Locust Swarm Strikes Egypt

God, or maybe Mother Nature, has thrown down a plague upon northern Africa and the Middle East. Should the area expect nine other plagues to follow?

Watch the little guys blacken the sky.

I saw locust in Costa Rica back in 2000. They were length of my palm (photo from Now imagine, millions of those hand-sized beasties descending upon your town, your home… your person. It's enough to give you the heebie-jeebies.

My cats used to eat grasshoppers. I wonder how they'd choke down one of these.

Since I'd written a novel set in Egypt, I like to keep my eye on the area. For my intrepid adventurer Jeannette, it wasn't locusts but beetles that sent her over the edge into paralyzed EWW!!! I've never been to Egypt. I want to go to Egypt. But I think I'll wait until the other nine have gone through their paces.

Want to follow the locust swarm? Food and Drug Administration of the United Nations has set up Locust Watch.
vanessamac: (Default)
2013-03-06 05:42 am

Free Ebook

A writer acquaintance of mine just posted this:

A Christian Inspirational book I co-authored with Janice Seney is free on Kindle this week. This is my first non-fiction so I'm really excited. You don't have to own a kindle to read it. I'd love to have you review it, but every download helps. I'd love to give away 1,000 books this week, so between now and Friday please go here: and take advantage of this opportunity. Feel free to share this link with your network and help me get to 1,000 downloads.
vanessamac: (Me - Top of the World)
2013-03-05 06:37 am
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Three Great Lies

Found a neat little gadget online. Pulp-O-Mizer. So many gadgets, so little surf time. This one lets you create your own sci-fi pulp novel cover. Though my story isn't sci-fi, I did attempt to create one for Three Great Lies: An Egyptian Fairytale—my completed literary-fantasy novel that I’m currently shopping out. In the novel, Jeannette is a laboratory scientist, so I figured this woman with the Florence flask was the closest I could get. I just wish I had a tomb in the background, or the Nile.

Three Great Lies – She fell down a TOMB into a world of UNKNOWABLE danger!

(note: this is in no way an official cover, this is just for fun.)

Give it a shot! I'd love to see your covers.
vanessamac: (Default)
2013-03-03 10:38 am


Just started a facebook account for those interested in following that. Vanessa MacLellan on facebook. Easy enough to find, I think.
vanessamac: (Default)
2013-03-03 08:19 am
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Critique Groups Open for Membership

Both of my critique groups are now open for membership. Both of these groups are open to serious individuals who are willing to submit regularly and critique regularly

Westside Writers is for those in the Hillsboro/Beaverton area.

PDX Wordwranglers is located in Vancouver, WA, and also opened to new membership.

PDX Wordwranglers meets every three weeks on a Wednesday evening at Clark College, in Vancouver, WA. We submit our pieces (limit to 4000 words) a week prior, then we edit the pieces on paper or online and discuss the pieces in a round robin affair.

I do require pretty regular attendance and you must critique everyone's work, you don't get to pick and choose.

If you're interested, please submit a writing sample and some background on your writing experience and where you want to go with your writing to
vanessamac: (Book bunny)
2013-02-09 12:21 pm

Seeded: Dark and Stormy Night

I'm pleased to introduce you to Nekoka and Jenni from my Seeded series.

“It was a dark and stormy night,” Nekoka said with some relish, dipping her voice into something dark and ominous.

From the kitchen nook, Jenni looked up from her paperwork out through the French doors and into the sunny, spring morning. A bird twittered as it hopped through the lawn. She immediately went back to her paperwork.

“And the Jabberwacky oozed up from the kitchen drain, slurping its amorphous form over the lip of the sink and landing onto the tiled floor with a schloop.” Nekoka smacked her lips on the ‘p’.

“Jabberwocky.” Jenni scribbled something with her pen.

Nekoka turned away from the bright morning to look at her friend, eyes narrowed. “The Jabberwacky,” she stressed, “slid across the tiles towards the unsuspecting woman…”

Jenni’s pen kept dancing over the page.

Nekoka pursed her lips, drawing them down into a little frown. With her gaze on Jenni, she pulled herself to her full five feet two inch height, until one of her shoulders dipped. Kind of wilted. Next her chest began dripping down her front like a scoop of ice cream down the side of its cone on a spring day such as this. Jenni didn’t look up. Nekoka’s face took on the melted look next, a wax statue left out in the Arizona sun. In a fluid motion, her entire body lost its form and succumbed to disintegration. Her lips remained intact, though, as she spoke her final words, “And the Jabberwacky sought out its prey, smothering the woman as she thrashed, struggling for her life as the Jabberwacky sucked out her very soul through her pores.”

Nekoka dribbled to the floor into a puddle, its green surface reflecting the incandescent lighting from above. The mass of goo undulated its way under the desk and began sliding up Jenni’s bare feet.

Jenni brushed at it with her foot.

The ooze climbed up her thigh.

Jenni set down the pen, pushed her chair back and stared at the animate clump of goo that had reached her lap. She sighed.

“Fine. I’ll finish the paperwork later.”

A flat face surfaced within the puddle. It smiled.

“Brat.” Jenni patted the ooze, then stood, waiting for the slime to disengage her legs, and walked to the French doors. “Come on, Jabberwacky.” Jenni stepped out into the bright day and behind her, Nekoka, now normal in form, followed.
vanessamac: (Me - Top of the World)
2013-02-09 12:15 pm
Entry tags:

Seeded - My Super Hero series


It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of dedication. For some of us, it's a second job that pays little to nothing. But we do it because it's a love.

I've 'won' NaNoWriMo eight times. That means I've got eight rough drafts lying around. One of them, a more recent creation, is Three Great Lies: An Egyptian Fairytale. I've set this novel free, afloat on the contrails of a regular stream of query letters. The second, Awaken [lead me to death], is on the spinners wheel, still being formed, molded to send thrills and chills down people's spines. I've just completed the rough draft and now the real work comes.

Another of my NaNoWriMo roughs, a mere 50,000 word skeleton for a larger beast, is the Seeded series. Seeded is set in a near future world where people have developed and grown a 'Seed' within their bodies, that somehow allows them to break physics in amazing ways. It's a superhero series, though few of my characters want to be heroes.

At the core of the story are two best friends: Nekoka and Jenni. Nekoka is a computer telekinetic with an affinity for cats (including alterforming into them) and no respect for authority, and Jenni is a vanilla flavored telepath with a heavy hand in a bar brawl, not that she would ever brawl for brawling's sake.

There's a large cast of characters for this series and I think this is a great opportunity to explore them for myself, and for those interested in the world. These are more like free writes, and sometimes I might give a character a power that's just too much for the book, so don't consider this total canon.

It will take a little time to get my Seeded novel polished and in the can, but I'd like to introduce you to Nekoka and Jenni so maybe you can learn to love them as I have.
vanessamac: (Default)
2013-02-09 12:04 pm
Entry tags:

rough draft finished

So, one more rough draft primed and ready to go.

The horror novel is done. Lots of edits to be made, but all in all the skeleton and some of the sinew is all mapped out.

My intention is to let it sit for a month, then come back for the hack/slash editing. My first 5ish chapters are pretty good/polished, but even those have to be updated for things I've put in later in the book.

This one is exciting, heart-breaking, and full of mystery.

I can't wait!
vanessamac: (Default)
2013-01-18 07:34 am

Thank you - Reading at Rain or Shine

Thanks to everyone who showed at my and Sonja Thomas' reading at Rain or Shine Cafe. It was a lot of fun to read part of Three Great Lies and my short story Infallible Universal Order.

Your support is HUGELY appreciated.
vanessamac: (Default)
2013-01-12 08:30 am
Entry tags:

Perfect by Kaleb Lynn Thomas

My critique group co-member has been posting one of his stories, free, online.

Set in a future time when our planet has changed, information and its dissemination are controlled by De Authoriteit of the Industrial Confederation. Luis and Avinashika find themselves on an adventure thanks to their mutual friend Willem. As their world changes, can they adapt to new circumstances and learn to live, love, and survive in their new environment?

Perfect by Kaleb Lynn Thomas

I really enjoy how Kaleb sticks these characters in this situation, especially Luis, that he just can't control anymore. It's a roller coaster he can't jump off and you really worry about him and feel sorry for him, because based on one knee-jerk decision his entire life has changed. Great stuff.
vanessamac: by miyukiutada (Leaf)
2012-12-31 01:20 pm

The Year is Dead, Long Live the Year

Every year I truly appreciate the New Year’s season. I’m the kind of brain that needs a clean slate, a tabula rasa, a reboot. It’s just how I’m wired. It gives me an opportunity to look forward from point X in time and realize that the future is what is happening, not the past. That the future is attainable, time can be used for productive things, filled with fun things, and opportunity is just right there.

2012 was a fairly good year for me. I found an amazing guy. I birded my heart out (78 Lifers). I polished up a novel (Three Great Lies) and have begun to shop it out. I got my first publishing credit for a short story (Infallible Universal Order). I spent a week in Arizona, a week in Glacier National Park, and a week in North Carolina: all amazingly fun and good trips. I still have my job, my car works, my health is good, my neighbors have been quiet and I adopted a new cat. I was able to save up a good ‘emergency’ fund.

I didn’t do much athletically and have gotten a bit weak. I feel distanced from my family. Spiritually, I haven’t done much growing. But if you balance those scales, I think the good really outweighs the bad. Though, adopting the new cat could go on either side of the scales. My furniture is paying the ultimate price, anyway.

This year, as always, I have new goals.

  1. I want to be more active in my spiritual growth.

  2. I plan on submitting my novel to 5 different agents/editors/contests a month. I would also like to keep writing short stories and submitting those for publication to earn more publishing credits.

  3. Complete my First Draft of Awaken by the Summer Solstice

That’s it. I would like to do lots of backpacking this summer since I now have a complete set of gear. *happy dance* I plan on doing a birding Big Day once a month for Clark County. I will still run and dance, but without any grander goals than physical activity. These are all secondary to my main goal. My plan to become a published novelist.

I hope that each and every one of you have met something of your goals for 2012 and have had moments of joy, success and pleasure.

Good Luck in 2013!!
vanessamac: (Me - Top of the World)
2012-12-14 02:31 pm

Infallible Universal Order Published and Reading

I’m excited to be able to post a link to Bohemia Magazine, available to read online for free. My story, Infallible Universal Order, is presented on page 20. My old penname is used (Meridian), so don’t let that throw you.
In a fight for the future of God and the universal order, two factions of angels war. Born from prophecy, the battle takes more than its due, and both champions fall. A story of forbidden love encompassed in 1,300 words.

This is my first professional publication.

I am going to be reading this story, and an excerpt of the novel I’m currently shopping out (Three Great Lies), at Portland’s Rain or Shine Café on Thursday, January 17th at 6:30 pm. My friend Sonja Thomas is reading with me and her writing is amazing!

This is a first step on a long, exciting journey. I hope you enjoy the story.
vanessamac: (NaNo)
2012-12-07 01:09 pm
Entry tags:

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

We must receive your Contest entry between January 14, 2013 at 12:00:01 a.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) and January 27, 2013 at 11:59:59 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time). The contest is limited to 10,000 Entries, and we will stop accepting Entries after we have received 10,000 Entries. Each Entry must include one of the following genre selections and will be categorized accordingly for judging throughout the Contest:

a. General Fiction

b. Mystery/Thriller

c. Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror

d. Romance

e. Young Adult Fiction

Entries may be edited until the above stated entry deadline or until a category has reached the maximum number of allowed entries, whichever first occurs. You must register at to enter the Contest. Once you have registered, follow the instructions on the entry form and upload: (1) the complete version of your manuscript that is between 50,000 and 150,000 words ("Manuscript"); (2) up to the first 5,000 words, but not less than 3,000 words, of your Manuscript, excluding any table of contents, foreword, and acknowledgments ("Excerpt"); (3) a pitch of your Manuscript consisting of up to 300 words ("Pitch"); and (4) the personal information required on the entry form. (1-4 collectively, an "Entry"). We will not review any Entry that does not comply with these Official Rules. Entries for General Fiction must have an accompanying genre selection.
vanessamac: (NaNo)
2012-11-30 10:52 am

NaNoWriMo Day 30 - 2012 Complete!

Day: 30
Total words: 50,318

I'm done with NaNoWriMo for 2012. Two years ago I said I'd probably never do this again, but really, it chugs me along on novel writing. The deadline, the camaraderie, it keeps me going. The novel itself is 97,000 words so far and the ending is near. This is my 8th complete NaNoWriMo! Lots of rough drafts out there.

Anyway, good luck to those still aiming for the wordcount. I'm done with the wordcount but still writing away. Going to try to do this crazy pace until my rough draft is finished.
vanessamac: (Default)
2012-11-18 12:13 pm

Writing on Rainy Days

It's the perfect day for writing.

A little cold, a little drizzly. When the weekend weather is dreary, I find I get my best writing done. It's an all day affair for me this weekend. Get up, check my FB and journal, read a little of whatever novel or writing book I'm reading at the time, and set down to the novel with a cup of tea and a warm kitty for the lap.

On these days I love the story. I love the characters. I can take my time and really explore them. I don't feel rushed to get out my words, but I know I can enjoy the narration. Feel the characters' reactions. Understand their motivation.

I think these are the most valuable writing days for me. Maybe that's one reason NaNoWriMo is set in November.

I'm unsure if I'll have the rough draft finished by the end of the month; only 12 more days to go. But I do know I'll meet my word count. It's not really a challenge I'm worried about.

I wish every morning could be like this. Not necessarily the weather, but the feeling. The ability to sit down and face my novel without rushing to do it before I go to the office. Someday.

I just have to decide it to be so.