Saturday, November 16, 2013

Writing a Novel: It Takes A Village

So, this happened last weekend:

Which quickly led to this:

So I haven't had much time to focus on editing my second Love Inspired Suspense. It's due December, but only needs a fresh proof read, so some time away might not be a bad thing. 
Instead, I've been sitting with a pencil and a notepad and brainstorming scenes for my next full length novel. 

This is how my brain interprets the structure of a novel into something that encompasses the amount of chapters I need.

I got it from a combination of Susan May Warren's Deep and Wide, and Save the Cat.

After structure, I decided to see how far I could get with a scene by scene/chapter by chapter outline that I stuck to poster paper. I used sticky tack so I can move the scenes around later, or put fresh ones in.
Here's what it looks like:

But that's where I hit a snag. I need to create a whole town (population two hundred), and not just with normal people you find everywhere. Interesting people. Quirky, unique people with colorful pasts. I have maybe a dozen or so already, but some extras would add fun stuff to my novel.
I don't need all two hundred, but I'm planning three full novels and two novellas so a decent handful of characters would make it so I'm not just hanging out with the same people for four hundred thousand words...and my readers aren't either.

So here it is.
Comment below to be immortalized in a fictional world:

What is your name?
How did you end up in Witness Protection?
What famous person do you most closely resemble?
Tell me something about your personality/an overriding attitude/your strongest attribute?

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's Official!

So I spent the morning updating my website, which always makes me want to poke myself in the eye with something sharp. 

How was your Monday morning?

Anyway, I loaded the details of my TWO 2014 Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense books, Double Agent and The Final Curtain. Check them out!

I also put up the back cover copy/blurbs for the full length Inspy Romantic Suspense that I'm hoping to release January 31st, along with the e-book short prequel. I can't WAIT to show you the covers my fab cover designer, Kristine McCord is making for me. Seriously, they are BEYOND cool. I took one look and said, "That looks like a Dee Henderson novel!"

So, all in all, the coffee pot is empty and it's raining outside, but I'm a happy girl. *smile*

How about you? Any news? Prayer requests?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why NaNoWriMo Works

I remember back in high school my maths teacher always said, "Break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks."

For some reason that's always stuck with me, and I've found it's true for writing. Or any big task. Undertaking small portions of it over time help you not get swamped by the magnitude. Because, let's face it, a hundred thousand word book, or seventy-five, or fifty-six is big enough without it all having to make sense, flow, have heart, change people's lives and be compelling.

So let's throw all the fear and doubt out the window and just go for it--which is why I love NaNo. If you sign up (which I did last year with My Book Therapy) on their official website there's such a sense of community you get encouragement and a whole squad of cheerleaders for a month of intensive writing.

Here's my top three reasons why it works:

1. 1667 words per day is manageable, even if you have a life. I don't, but you might.

2. It's only 30 days, which is how long it takes to make an activity into a habit. Presto-changeo, you're a regular writer!

3. At the end, you get to say, "I did it!" Last year my sister and her husband visited from England for a week in the middle of November. A whole week where I wrote ZERO, which means the last week of the month I doubled up every day so I could make it to, THE END. It's a great feeling.

Try it. The worst that can happen is you only get to thirty thousand words in November, or twenty, or fifteen. But hey, that's more than you have now.
And even though my editor hated like, the WHOLE of act two and I had to rewrite 30k of a 56k word novel, I don't regret it. Switching off your inner editor and worst book reviewer ever who hates your guts while you pound out a first draft...worth it.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What Isn't Quantifiable

Recently I read an agency blog where one of the agents put out a call for submissions of a particular genre. What caught my eye was the need to include your number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends and blog page views.

Now I understand the need for social media influence and for agents to know you're active and you have the potential to grow your contacts into a tribe of influencers. That's not where I'm going.

I want to talk about that point we all reach (hello, brand new blog readers) where we realize no one is listening to us. We have to prove ourselves in this new world of branding and platforms and no one except those people with a million followers seem to know what that is, or how on earth to go about it.

We get mired in the NUMBERS. As though our worth is something that can be quantified. As though this:

or this:

or this:

will tell you anything about my worth as a human being.

So if that's you today, I'd like to share these verses with you:
For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery]. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand. When I awoke, [could I count to the end] I would still be with You.
(From Psalm 139)

I chose the amplified version, because I love how it likens the way we are made in our mother's womb to embroidery. On the back side the threads will look like a mass of tangles, cut-off ends and mis-matched threads, but on the front side the Maker is creating something beautiful. 

That's your worth. And mine. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Why I Decided To Start A Daydream Journal...

I'm what they call a "late bloomer". I probably read maybe a dozen books between age 10 and age 25, but I lived in my head used to daydream a lot, making up story-lines for shows I watched and stuff like that. Then someone told me I was a writer...

But I'm not a creative person. Even though I sing and play guitar and write novels...I know, right? Go figure. 

Anyway, I got some notebooks last week. I LOVE blank notebooks. They're so nice and crisp and beautiful and...ahem. Since I needed something to justify the purchase, I got the idea of starting a daydream journal with the thought that if I can clear out my head, then more stuff will filter up from the depths of my subconscious. 

Can't hurt, right?

The only downside is the idea of free writing. What if I get it wrong? If I'm not doing it right, how will I know?? Because while being creative should probably look something like this:

 My brain is happier when things look like this:

Okay, not blank more like orderly. Neat. Precise. 
Yes, I'm one of those know, the ones who outline. Shh...don't tell anyone. It'll be our secret.

Notes, files (I use OneNote, which satisfies my need for everything to be in order and I love it), charts, flowcharts. I'm excited for my next novel, to do a STORYBOARD. And when I rewrite, I use a lot of 3x5 cards. I like when they're blank and all in a stack.

But in the meantime I'm doing this:

Exercising parts of my brain that don't like to be tapped into, clearing out all the fuss and noise so that new fuss and noise can rise up. Who knows? Maybe I'll spark something and ideas will pour forth like a font of chocolate. (What? It's my metaphor.)

I'm also writing in FIRST PERSON. Which if you were in my crit group, would make you clutch your stomach muscles for relief as you roared in laughter. (Quit it.) But I decided it was my brain, and writing that way was probably the quickest shortcut to what my daydream me was feeling, and I didn't have to fuss with "showing". Otherwise, you know, I'd be doing it wrong and all.

Next time I'll be talking about HOW you do a daydream journal. In case you need a checklist, like me. 
So check back soon and I'll let you know how it's going. 
How about you, do you journal? Have you found it helped your writing to flow easier?
I'd love to know.

Lisa Phillips is a wife, the mom of a first grader ballerina princess and a 2yo future MMA fighter. Her first novel DOUBLE AGENT will be released from Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense in 2014. Sign up for the newsletter at the top of this page, or go to 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Official: Book Title!

Huge thanks to the scores of Facebook friends who suggested titles for my first Love Inspired Suspense. After I sent my editor all 33 (I'm sure she appreciated that!)...they decided on Double Agent. I'm super happy, because that was my absolute favorite out of the list. 

So here it is:

My first book, which will be releasing in 2014 will be titled, Double Agent.
Thanks for stopping by!

Lisa Phillips is the uncoordinated mother of a ballerina princess and a little boy who thinks shirts are optional. In her spare time she moonlights as an inspy romantic suspense author, combining life and death stakes with eternal ones. Her first book is coming in 2014!