Friday, December 31, 2010

Killing Me Softly

     I recently stayed up late watching a movie. A young father had just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, and brought his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with him. He wound up killing his pregnant wife and two of his three children. I would have turned off the movie except for a little girl. His youngest was spared because of her gentle, kind spirit that reached her crazed father in the midst of his killing spree.

     He took her and fled. For months they traveled throughout the upper plains states. Throughout the movie I was drawn in by her character. She was totally committed to her father with unconditional love. Each scene moved closer to redemption, the silver lining, the rebuilding after the storm. I endured the awful things that happened in the movie for the happy ending.

     In the last minute of the movie, just when it was supposed to happen, out of nowhere a car sped through a residential intersection, hit the little girl at 40mph and killed her. I was devastated! Crushed! Left with a void of hopelessness. Anger. Disjointedness.

     I'll admit that was an unexpected plot twist. I didn't see it coming any more than the little girl did. I jumped straight out of my recliner chair at the instant of impact. But then the movie ended and I was left with a gut-wrenching sorrow that kept me up all night and unable to truly function the next day.

     I vow from this moment to NEVER kill my readers softly by writing a character they will fall deeply for, care about and grow attached to, only to have them witness them being suddenly killed by a speeding car at the moment of Happily Ever After. I will not commit that crime against my readers. I care too much about them. About you. About the power of hope.



Monday, December 27, 2010


Well, NaNoWriMo didn't turn out the way I planned. I got off to a GREAT start but my move got in the way. Thankfully, I'm all settled in. This week I'm plotting out my next year. I've learned that if I don't set goals and a specific action plan to reach those goals, I wind up not accomplishing much through the year. I meander through 365 days with not much to show for it on December 31st.

This year has been a year of amazing transition for me. I'm not as far as I expected to be in my writing. That's why I'm working right now to set specific goals. You should too. I normally set goals in four areas:

1) My relationship with my Lord.
2) My physical fitness.
3) My contribution to the world in which I live.
4) My writing.

Want to look back this time next year and feel that sense of satisfaction and fulfillment? Then take some time between now and New Year's Day to give it some serious thought. Don't brush over it. Think it out. Then plan it out. Sure, there will be bumps in the road and you may have to adjust your plan but you'll be surprised what you'll be able to accomplish.

Happy  (and wildly productive)New Year!

Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo and the Suicide Note

Today I'm halfway through NaNoWriMo and I'm NOT halfway through my word count. Characters are prickly. My plot is more windy than a mountain road. And then there was the suicide note inside my netbook.

I ran to Barnes and Noble Cafe since there are portraits of Kipling, Steinbeck, Eliot and Whitman. Surrounded by all those authors, how could I not be inspired, right? I ordered my oatmeal raisin cookie and Diet Pepsi (don't even think about commenting) and snatched up a table.

That's when I found it. The suicide note. Right inside my netbook, laying on the keyboard. The small, yellow handwritten note: "I know I'll never replace Belle in your life so I won't even try. I know your heart belongs to Belle. When she is healed and returns to you, I'll just end our relationship forever."

I would have called 911. After all, shouldn't someone be saved? Then it hit me. I was the one who wrote the note. Oh, and that's supposed to make me feel better?! It didn't help that Elvis' Hunka Hunka Burning Love was blasting through the PA system in the Cafe. It was immediately followed by, "I'm caught in a trap, I can't walk out, because I love you too much baby..."

Ok, I know I really needed to call the cops but I had things to do. I still had two bites of cookie left and my diet pepsi was only half gone. Not to mention I had to write a blog. SInce I'm pretty new to this  blogging thing I'm not sure whether I could write blogs in jail so I disengaged the "emergency 911" status on my phone and sat back in the seat.

People were beginning to stare because they could not see the humor in my suicide note. Particularly when I sputtered through tears of laughter, "It's a suicide note!"

After the manager and a couple of workers came to my table to see if they needed to call the guys in the white coats, I showed them the note. I resisted the urge to get an endless supply of oatmeal raisins and my sudsy soda by promising to not kill myself in their store. Umm... but that's a different story. File that one away for when I'm really, really hungry.

The funny, hysterical note was from me. This morning I was prepared to ship my netbook temporarily to a friend whose computer is sickly. I thought I was being comical and knew they'd get a kick out of the note. At the last minute we didn't ship it so I decided to take it to lunch.

The joke was on me. That's soooo like my NaNoWriMo characters. Always playing tricks. Hopefully, they'll let me back into Barnes and Noble at some point. No NaNo word count in B&N for me today!

Write on,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Day ten of NaNoWriMo. Frankly, I'm ecstatic that I have over 13,000 words down on electronic paper. Behind the mark a bit but hey, it's only words right?The day started with the voices in my head taking an oath of silence. Seriously? On day ten?

You know how we hate silence and feel the need to fill it with something. Oh, I know. Editing! Ya know, I really didn't like the way the dialog flowed in scene three. And really, that plot twist should come in Act two or the story will arc to soon. Oh, and I'm telling way more than showing. Where's my red pencil?

Today, not even half way through NaNo, I had the irresistible urge to go back and edit. Change this. Rewrite that. It was all-consuming. Three times today I drafted an email to my writing partners and asked, "are you sure I'm not supposed to edit? Won't that eventually harm my baby?" And, three times I looked at my reflection in my computer monitor, took a deep breath and said, "Reebs, it's NaNoWriMo, not your publisher. Delete the emails and give it a rest."

I've learned so much about me over these last ten days. I'd like to share a few.

1) One, I could easily NOT write any day of the week. It's easy for me to say, "not tonight honey, I have a headache." My word count cowers in the corner, totally rejected.

2) I also learned I'm a much better story teller than story show-er. Why'd they put that in the rules of novel writing anyway?! Oh I know! I could make my hero a story teller! Umm... that would be NO! Oh well, I'll have a lot of fun in rewrites, which brings me to the final thing.

3) I realized that NaNoWriMo is forcing me to keep my story moving forward. I'll finish my "telling"-albeit with intermittent really bad dialog- and have a great working foundation upon which to build a great story.

If you're a fellow WriMo, please step away from the editing. You'll be glad you did!

Remember the words of one of my favorite authors, Terri Blackstock:

Don't get it right. Get it written!

Write on,

Monday, November 8, 2010


No more blank screen. Lots of words on the page. 12,000+ after 7 days! Not bad... well, at least the word count is where it should be.

I've had a blast, keeping that number in my head while I pound the keys of my own NaNoWriMo work in progress. I realized a couple of things:

1) It helps to just get it out of my head and onto the paper. Terri Blackstock was absolutely right when she said, "don't get it right, get it written!"

2) As I write, I think of all kinds of ideas that will enhance what I thought was a great plot.

3) It's hard to resist the urge to go back and edit. But after seven days of not allowing myself to go backward, I think I've gotten the hang of it.

If you haven't signed up for NaNoWriMo, consider it. It's a lot of fun. I'm met a lot of people. Very supportive folks who, like me, are watching those word counts and creating an exciting first draft.

Act one is in the history books.

The plot thickens.....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


That's what my computer screamed at me yesterday morning. You know, November 1st, the beginning of NaNoWriMo. I'd prepared. Studied. Prayed and even had a great story in my head.

I packed up my laptop and headed to Panera. Hemingway, Dickens, Hitchcock all wrote from Panera, right? I bought my bagel, filled my cup with Diet Pepsi, sat at my netbook and... and... umm...

Who even knew computers could talk?! Actually yell... and laugh, mock and otherwise taunt me. Blank computer screens have to be the worst form of torture for a writer. Worse than forcing a Texas gal to eat sushi or wear a cocktail dress.

I would have given up, chunked my computer in the river and gone back to bed but I heard a voice inside me. Terri Blackstock, best selling author was shouting, "Don't get it right. Get It Written!"

Oh yeah, that's right! My first draft is allowed to royally suck lemons. 2239 words came yesterday to start my NaNoWriMo word count. Not too bad for the first day jitters.

Day one of NaNoWriMo is now history. So is my blank screen paranoia. I'll never go back to my first time again. My first day is gone. Today is a new day. I must write today while it is, well, today.

More words... meaningful words all strung together in a way it makes readers want to read them. That's writing!

Courageously I sit at my computer screen and wait for the voices inside my head to dictate what I write. Day 2 is here!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


As a beautiful sunny day dawns on Central Florida, I'm too excited to sleep. Just two days 'til NaNoWriMo begins. For hours now I've been sitting at my desk, listening to the voices inside my head.

Long Journey Home begins on Monday! I have a great support team. The MyBookTherapy dear friends. We laugh together, plot together, gently prot each other to keep moving forward... We laugh alot, pray without ceasing. The editor in the group pounted out to me that "All Y'all' isn't a plural pronoun. Who knew?!

Is there a story in you just itching to get out? To grace the world with it's message? Then WRITE IT! Have a dream to walk into your favorite local bookstore and see your novel sitting center isle? Good.

Now Hear This!!!!! Your dream is too important to remain unlived. Join groups to support you in your quest. Write. Daily. No matter how blocked your writer mind is. Even when the voices in your head are telling you to put your pencil down.

Sign up for NaNoWriMo at

Hey, it's only writing 50,000 in 30 day. Piece of cake, right?

Want more fun and support? Join Susan May Warren's MyBookTherapy Voices Forum. We're having a NaNoWriMo Celebration!!! Join now!

Want to follow my progress on NaNoWriMo? I'm docrjhoffman.

Follow my blog for regular updates on Long Journey Home!

Monday, October 25, 2010


COMMITMENT! To writing. To sitting down at the computer every day and pounding the keys to form some meaningful story. I committed to all the citizens of Cyberkingdom that I was going to write 50,00+ words in 30 days. Piece of cake, right?

My computer screen taunts me...ummm... mainly because it's blank. My brain kicks off random thoughts that don't make sense. I put on brown shoes this morning instead of black. Ok, the last one is expected since I'm colorblind but you get my drift.

Then, out of nowhere a story comes. It builds in my spirit. Characters jump right out of my mind and into the room. They tell me about themselves. The good, the bad and the unbelievable. They spill out from the depths of their souls to an audience of one.

I suddenly realize hours have passed without notice. It's dark outside. Sunday football games have come and gone on TV and I don't even know who won. Did I eat dinner?

NaNoWriMo. The month of the novel. It's definitely going to be a wild ride! Follow me as I create Long Journey Home.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Today I start developing a new book. A new journey. The Long Journey Home. Dr. Autumn Hunter is the attending ER physician at the county hospital of a seaside town in Florida. She's loved by the community, her patients and coworkers. But tragedy strikes Grady Memorial Hospital. Autumn is shot in the parking garage by gangbangers. Her fiance is killed.

The events that follow chase Autumn away from the hospital she loves in a quest to find where she truly belongs: in the Appalachians among the mountain people. This will be Autumn's journey...her Long Journey Home!

Follow me during November as I write this book for NaNoWriMo!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.
William Shakespeare

I live in Florida. You know, the umm... Sunshine State. Whoever named it was never here during the summer. The bright sunshine that greets the morning also stokes the fires in the atmosphere. You can actually watch as the storm clouds brew until, right on cue in mid-afternoon, Floridians (and all those poor, unsuspecting tourists) fall prey to a monsoon gully washer!

Experienced Floridians have learned to divide their daily plans into three parts: BS, DS and AS... before, during or after the daily storm. It's the most productive way to get through the day. I laugh on Labor Day when the local weatherman warns, "plan do your outdoor grilling at 9am". No fooling!

When I'm sitting in my car being caught out in the torrential downpour, I'm reminded of my writing journey. When I least expect it, storm clouds of doubt pop out of nowhere during my writing day and rain on my parade. They dump a deluge of negative thoughts right onto my manuscript. My confidence is soaked to the bone. The writer in me becomes a wrinkled old prune from prolonged exposure to the storm of doubt.

It won't take a person long to realize that as quickly as Florida summer storms hit and blast a hole in the sunny day, the menacing clouds gallop over the horizon and disappear. They're just... gone! Such is it with the storms of doubt. They are strong when they come. Just like tourists driving on the interstates in Florida, sometimes you have to find a place to pull over and park until it passes.

 It will pass. It always does. Ride out the storm of doubt and then get back about writing your prose. It's what we do. We're writers. Storms and all...

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Ok, I'll admit it. I was a late bloomer when it comes to taking advantage of all the social media. Nothing but hype, I say! Coming from Texas, I'd rather clog than blog. Tweet is something birds do. Facebook is the mugshot on the book cover and My Space is...well... my PRIVATE space where I retreat and don't invite others into. Yes, I rebelled. Refused. Rebutted. What happened to the good ole days when once a month we all got together in the town square to swap howdies and exciting stories?!

Finally I made the leap, albeit kicking and screaming, into the twenty-first century of social connecting media. It dawned on me (yeah, I know... I'm a little slow) that I can encourage an endless number of people throughout the world to live their dreams and follow their hearts! You mean the very thing that I tried desperately to escape is the vehicle that enables me to do what I was created to do? Really? Uhh... didn't see that coming!

I was born to encourage and write. Thanks for being there to listen, to take my encouragement. Just like me, you have to live your dream. And you also will have to try new things that are unnatural to you. Go ahead. Give it a whirl. You never know what exciting places it will take you to.

Until next time, remember your dream is too important to remain unlived!