Monday, November 30, 2015


I am going to lose NaNoWriMo this year.

It kind of kills me because this November is the first November in more than a decade where I haven't been working a soul-sucking, 60-hours-a-week job that severely hinders my ability to write.

Nope, it turns out that I can do that all on my very own.

But, to be fair, I did start four days late and then had to take a few days off in the middle of the month, so is it any wonder that I'm in a 14,000-word hole?

Probably not. Maybe. I don't know.

But, on the bright side (a place in which I don't spend nearly enough time, I know), I did manage to write 36,000 words in Full Circle—otherwise known as Book Three in my fantasy series, or the novel I wasn't going to start until sometime in 2016—and I may even not delete some of them when it comes time to look at it again.

Most of it, though, I think is destined for the Deleted Scene file, as it shows just how unorganized I've been with this project thus far. I attempted to plot out at least a bit of it—the broad strokes, at the very least—but I don't have the handle on the story that I need to have.

My plotting efforts

The problem is that I'm still clinging to the way that Full Circle was supposed to go, based on the way that Second Nature was supposed to end...and didn't. There was a ripple effect that I haven't seen the end of yet. Or, you know, accepted, apparently.

But it's okay. There's bound to be something worth salvaging in that 36,000 words (I have yet to scrap an entire NaNo project), even if it's ultimately decided that the story needs to go in the complete opposite direction as it's going now.

Which probably won't happen. (She says like she actually has any idea at all. Which she does not.)

But it's okay. Even if I couldn't pull out a win, I'm glad to have done it.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this month? If so, how'd you do?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Writing A Memoir

Today, My Pet Blog is in the hands of author Mark Koopmans and his brand new release Revival—The Donald Braswell Story.

Take it away, Mark!


Ending the second week of the REVIVAL – The Donald Braswell Story Tour, I’m delighted to stop by and bother the sweet MJ, who asked for none of this on Friday the 13th (but is a sucker for a bald guy shaking a cup and pleading for a book…(Thank you, thank you, I’ll let myself out…)

MJ asked about the challenges—and perks—of writing a memoir.

Probably the hardest part, for me, in the whole process was “learning” Donald’s voice. We held dozens of in-person, or over-the-phone interviews, but it was the hours and hours of recorded interviews that I leaned on to become skilled at Donald’s “isms.”

(During the first draft, there was a lot of email back-and-forth as I figured out, for example, that “y’all” isn’t actually used in every second sentence as spoken by native Texans!)

Another challenge was simply finding the time to get together. Both of us had “regular” jobs, so our meetings were sometimes confirmed the night before.

One reason why it was so important to me to meet (rather than an easy phone call and simpler email) was I preferred to watch Donald’s body language as he spoke. (Even if I didn’t need the info for the particular section of the book, it did show me how Donald liked to sit, stand, drive, talk, gesture, etc.

Probably the best perk of the whole project was when Donald would belt out a tune or a line to show me exactly what he meant, or how it was supposed to sound.

The man has a deep pair of lungs, people!

Ever dealt with (overcome) long-distance writing with a partner/subject?

Thanks, MJ, for having me (us!) over today and I wish everyone reading a great weekend.

On Monday, I’ll be back, and this time Yolanda Renee is interested in some general memoir tips.

Five years removed from his 1990 Juilliard graduation, Donald Braswell is set to be “the next Pavarotti.” Braswell’s successful career ends, however, not with a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall, but alone, lying in a dirty ditch.

Following the hit-and-run accident that steals his voice and future, the “Texas Tenor” struggles with
depression and despair—until the night his daughter, Aria, is born. Understanding this new and
immediate life change, Braswell fights to relearn how to speak, sing—and share this gift of second chances with others.

Working as a plasterer, a car salesman, and many jobs in-between, it takes thirteen years—and a musical miracle—for Braswell to battle back and sing on a professional stage. His dreams and ambitions collide with a tired and angry crowd when he auditions for America’s Got Talent. For his family, his faith and his entire future, can the Rocky Balboa of the operatic world find the courage and strength to win just one more fight?

Where To Find Revival—The Donald Braswell Story


Pen-L Publishing
Barnes & Noble


 ● Kindle
● Nook
● iTunes
● Kobo

About The Authors:

Mark Koopmans is originally from Ireland. After working in Holland, Spain, France and England, he won his U.S. “Green Card” in 1994, and is an American by choice since 2003. Koopmans began his writing career with a feature for a regional magazine in California. Since then, he’s worked as a staff writer for newspapers in Florida and Texas. Koopmans is also a proficient blogger and is working on his next book, a novel. Koopmans lives in Virginia and is a married, stay-at-home dad to three active boys under the age of nine. He writes at night.

Find his blog at

Donald Braswell II is an American actor, classical crossover tenor and composer. Braswell was on a fast track to become an internationally acclaimed opera singer when he suffered a car accident in 1995 that made him unable to speak for almost two years. After that, he lived a quiet life outside of the spotlight until his appearance on the 2008 season of America’s Got Talent where he was a Top 5 finalist, which gave him another chance at a career in entertainment. Since then, he has entertained audiences both internationally as well as shore to shore in the United States in concerts, television appearances, inspirational speaking and radio. He boasts an international fan club with fans from over 25 countries.

Find him at


● GRAND PRIZE (2 winners): Donald Braswell to sing (Happy Birthday/Anniversary) via
Skype or phone call. (A unique gift idea!)
● 1ST PLACE PRIZE: Signed Donald Braswell CD/REVIVAL book combo
● 2nd, 3rd and 4th PLACE PRIZES: Signed copies of REVIVAL (by Donald and Mark)
● 5th, 6th and 7th PLACE PRIZES: Signed copies of Donald Braswell CDs
● 8th, 9th, and 10th PLACE PRIZES: Signed Donald Braswell 8x10 picture

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 9, 2015

Come on, Get Happy

Before I get into today's sure-to-be-riveting post, I want to give a shout-out to my brother. Today is his birthday, and I hope he has the best birthday ever. He's a terrific guy, and without him, I wouldn't be telling you what I'm going to tell you in this post.



Sometime before the Great Canine Stomach Surgery of 2015, I did something that I, quite honestly, thought I might never, ever, do.

I finished Second Nature.

So you might be wondering why you're only hearing about this now. Why there wasn't a post on this blog filled with some choice Happy Dance gifs like these:

Aaaaaand maybe just one more because I can never resist the urge to use it whenever it fits...

Doing posts filled with Happy Dance gifs has become my habit/tradition upon the completion of a WIP. Well, all right, so maybe 'habit/tradition' is too strong a word/phrase. I mean, I did do it that one time that I actually manged to finish a WIP—because that really has happened only one magical time—but I didn't do that post this time. So maybe it's not a habit or a tradition or anything else.

But, whatever it should be called, I didn't do it this time.

Because here's the thing...When it comes to finishing this monster novel of mine (and at 325,000 words, it really is a monster), I'm feeling more like this:

Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe I'm just sad. Maybe both.

Or maybe I'm just not happy with how it turned out.

I mean, I know it's the third one. The other two may be contributing factors, but the truth is that I am not happy with how it turned out. There were some twists (well, maybe not 'twists', per say, but unplanned alterations to the original plans, at the very least) that came out that I'm not convinced (despite the best efforts of my brave, brave brother) that I...I don't even know. I just think I screwed it up.

Now, if I came on this blog and said how pleased I was with my work, you'd be running to escape the invasion of the body snatchers or whatever, because me being hyper critical of all I do (and don't do...*coughcough* exercise *coughcough*) is just what I do, along with being sarcastic and worshiping at the altar of Joss Whedon.

But I did the Happy Dance post before, so even if I maybe wasn't particularly pleased with what I had written (I honestly don't remember if I was, but I'm guessing not because I'm still me, after all), I was pleased to have done the writing. I was pleased to have finished the WIP.

This time...not so much.

And it's kind of stupid, too, to feel like this, given that the manuscript in question is still a first draft. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be good. It just has to be done, and that I did.

Now it's sitting in a drawer (not, like, literally or anything) where it will remain until I decide to look at it again. A month, at least. Probably two. Maybe three. Maybe I'll never look at it again. 

Probably not that one.

Time away between drafts is always a good thing, I think. It allows one to look at a story with fresh eyes, and I know in the past when I have done this, it becomes much clearer what needs to be altered or cut in the next draft. It is my hope that time away will not only give me those vital fresh eyes, but will also help get me to that Happy Dance place (I don't know why I keep capitalizing 'Happy Dance', by the way. It just happens.).

I want this story to be good. Better than good, even. Or, as good as I can make it, perhaps. It contains my absolute favorite character, and I want to do her story justice.

So that's what I'm doing. Waiting. Patiently, as only I can.

So, that's gonna do it for me today. What's going on in your corner of the Internet?