Layla Bunch

May 12, 2016

Six years ago I saw a homeless woman standing on a street corner in Woodland Hills. I gave her some change. I saw her again a few days later, started to imagine her story, how she came to be in such a predicament. Then I wondered what would happen if I invited her into my home. I didn’t take her home, and in fact I never saw her again, but that short encounter started me on a creative journey that resulted in a novel, Layla Bunch,  that is nearing the final stages preparatory to publication. Right now the manuscript is in the hands of Renni Brown who is a well-known editor. She’ll provide a developmental edit that will look for inconsistencies, structural issues, character weaknesses.

In the meantime, I am nearly halfway through a first draft of the next book in the series, Jimmy Wicky, featuring the same characters introduced  in Layla Bunch. Toni Lopopolo, literary agent, will try to execute a two to three book publishing contract.

So, to all the people who’ve asked me, “Where do you get your ideas?” now you know how Layla Bunch was born. If you’re a writer, asking ‘what if’ questions can be one of the best ways to ignite the story spark.

So wish me luck,


Categories: Tuesday - Writing.

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Some Tools for Writers

January 23, 2012

A writer needs all the help she can get, so here’s a few suggestions from my own tool box.

1. Scrivener is software I use to manage my writing projects. It’s a UK   product and was developed for the MAC. They recently added PC’s to their   universe. You can purchase for either computer type at They   have a 30 day free trial. It helps to tame the beast when trying to revise. I won’t go into details, go check it out.

2. The Internet Writing Workshop is   a listserve managed by some people at Penn State. It is one of Writer’s Digest   101 Best Web Sites for writers. I don’t know if there is any association   with the school, but I have made many good writing contacts through this site.   You can submit an entire ms one chapter at a time. Some of the critters   are published authors.

3. You Write On is based in   the UK. You can submit the first 7 K words of your ms. For every critique you   give, you will receive a critique in return. Assignments are done randomly.   When you are critiqued, your ms is graded in 8 categories from Characters,   Pace, Story, Language, Voice, Dialogue to Theme and Setting. After your ms receives 8 critiques (I don’t know why everything is in eights) it is ranked   with all the other ms on the site (hundreds & hundreds). Every month the   top rated submissions receive a critique from an editor at Orion or   Random House. You can read all the critiques by these professional editors and   learn quite a bit.


Categories: Tuesday - Writing.


November 11, 2011

What am I doing blogging when this is National Novel Writing Month? For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is almost self-descriptive. A whole bunch of writers, new and experienced, attempt to complete the first draft of a novel in November. I think if you finish on time, and upload 50K words, you get a tee shirt.

Obviously everyone isn’t going through writer hell just for a tee shirt. It’s just a great way to power through a story. Because it’s fast tracked, your subconscious is given free reign and your inner editor doesn’t have time to build massive walls out of writer’s blocks.

In this, my maiden voyage, I’m fortunate to have a co-pilot (we’ll refer to her as G) to act as some wind beneath my wings. Plenty of nights I have stayed past quitting time at my computer simply because I didn’t want to  try and sleep with G in the lead, word count wise. Today is the 11th day of NaNoWriMo and I’m pleased to report I’ve banked 21K toward a novel entitled Far Enough. It started out as a character driven story of a young alcoholic girl who hits an elderly man with her jeep and runs away.

Now, the characters have hijacked the story line and introduced a mystery element. But I’m still going to stick with my projected ending no matter what they say.


Categories: Tuesday - Writing.

Beat Sheet or Scene List

July 27, 2011

No matter what you call it, beat sheet or scene list, it’s  a wonderful tool to structure a manuscript. I’ve read three books on writing in the last two weeks. All three suggest the writer create a list of scenes or ‘beats’ for everything that drives the story forward. I finished a 68 scene list for my woman’s fiction, Layla Bunch. It’s very visual and colorful and it fits on one page (the print is a size 8 font, and it’s just large enough to read without a magnifying glass). The colors come in because I made each plot line in the book a different color.There’s room for time/date, the mood of the scene, and a separate color column designating acts 1,2, or 3.

You might think it’s confining and cramps creative flow, but it does the opposite. I can see the scenes in my mind, and if I need to switch them around, it’s an easy cut and paste of a single line. The book is so clear in my mind, I know that the draft I am writing will be much the better for this bit of planning. It won’t prevent me from going off on a left field creative jaunt, but I’ll be able to assess the damage/value of that deviation pretty handily.

Don’t be afraid to mess around a bit with your creative paradigm. Every writer must find that creative sweet spot somewhere between total creative anarchy and anal obsessive planning.

If you write, how do you manage the process?


Categories: Tuesday - Writing.

A Writer’s Room

July 21, 2011

The room I write in is a spare bedroom converted to a ‘writer’s room’. If I’m an example of any other writers, it is a constant battle to keep this space orderly. It’s true much is stored on computer files, but there are printouts of chapters or entire manuscripts, journals filled with observations, yellow pads of notes, index cards of scenes, books on craft, magazines on craft, rejection slips, etc. I spend most of my waking hours in this room. It is the place I go to upon awakening, the place I leave from to go to bed. If it were not orderly, I would be frustrated, because the creative process is disorderly enough.

Anyone who has ever written a novel knows that it is a multi-headed hydra that must be wrestled to the ground over and over again. It slips from your grasp and if you don’t live in an orderly world and can call on the aids you have developed to maintain that order, it will be hard to pin the hydra and announce some sort of victory.


Categories: Tuesday - Writing.

Can you Write More Than One Book at a Time?

July 6, 2011

It’s probably not a great idea, but I found that when one book seems to be dragging its feet, it is helpful to have another WIP on which to focus  attention. Then, when I go back, I seem to have caught my breath and can move ahead with renewed energy. All the while I’ve been away from book #1, my subconscious mind is still trying to break the impasse. Never fails to work.

One must show a little restraint however. It’s tempting to pick up a new idea, or a new character and run with it. Everything seems shiny and new. There are no loose plot threads, the characters haven’t taken over the insane asylum yet,  and no pesky critique partners have had an opportunity to tell you  ‘the sky is falling’.

So, I’m working on the first book in a series of three, an urban fantasy entitled The Energy Collector, and a woman’s fiction work called Layla Bunch. They are as different as night and day. Maybe the only reason working on two pieces at once works  for me is that they are two different genres, and different markets. Also, the urban fantasy  has been edited and re-edited, with a first draft completed for the second book  in the series ,  and  35,000 word of a the first draft completed for the third book in the series. Layla Bunch is still in first draft status with only 10,000 words. So they are differentiated by where the two books stand in the creative process. I just re-read this paragraph. I’m really working on four novels at once, aren’t I? Now that’s crazy. Do you think I am a little ADHD?

Each writer must come up with their own work patter/process. No cookie cutter options when it comes to creativity. No wrong or right, either. So, strike out on your own and develop a methodology that works for you so you can write the best novel possible. Geez Sharon, four books?


Categories: Tuesday - Writing.

What I Learned by Admitting I’m a Dummy

June 28, 2011

I learned a lot this week by reading my Writing for Dummies book. Maybe the most important thing that I learned is that writing a novel is very formulaic. The rules are strict, but talented writers bend, break and ignore them all the time, but if you’re fairly new at the game, or if you have more than 100 rejection slips papering the walls of your writing area, maybe you need to understand the rules and formulas.

If you don’t write, or read, but watch drama on TV, here’s an interesting bit of insight I can share. Most stories are built around a three act structure.

Act 1 – The first quarter of book or TV show where you set up the background, ends with a major disaster. This is where the main character commits.
Act 2 –  The second and third quarters of the book or TV show, deals with the main character trying to achieve her goal while running into one road block after another, with each quarter ending with an even worse disaster
 Act 3 –The last quarter ties up all the  lost ends and includes the climax  (resolution). Did the main character win or lose, or maybe neither?

The novel I’m working on right now is in the women’s fiction genre and is titled Layla Bunch. The other skill a writer must master is the art of boiling a complex story down into a single sentence of 25 words or less. At first that seems impossible. But I managed a 17 word description of Layla Bunch. What do you think?

An ailing widow takes in a homeless woman who suffers from memory loss due to a traumatic past.

Does it make you want to read the book?


Categories: Tuesday - Writing.