March Madness

I'm excited to be hosting March Madness every Saturday this month! I'll also be giving away some fab YA books! All you have to do is follow and post at each site this month for a chance to win some amazing prizes!

First, let's go over the prizes:

We have some truly awesome prizes up for grabs this year! We will start by giving away a prize to one person who comments below with their goals within the next 24 hours!

Here are the prizes that are up for grabs (these are in no particular order and have been donated by my generous co-hosts for this event!):

First Five Pages Critique (Courtesy of Angelina Hansen - International)

First Five Pages OR Query Critique (Courtesy of Denise Jaden International)

Query Critique (Courtesy of Kelsey Macke - International)

First Chapter Critique (Courtesy of Kelsey Macke - International)

First Chapter Critique (Courtesy of L.S. Taylor - International)

Bookish Jewelry (Courtesy of Mary Ann Scott - US mailing only)

Writer's Emergency Kit (A surprise pack of writerly goodness! - Courtesy of Shari Green - International)

IF I TELL by Janet Gurtler (Courtesy of Angelina Hansen - US mailing only)

DARKBEAST by Morgan Keyes (Courtesy of L.S. Taylor - US/Canada mailing only)

Books courtesy of Kim Baccelia (US mailing only):

TEAM HUMAN by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
TIME BETWEEN US by Tamara Ireland Stone
FATHOMLESS by Jackson Pearce
CITY OF LOST SOULS by Cassandra Clare
THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas
SPARK/STORM by Brigid Kammerer
INSIGNIA by S.J. Kincaid
OUTPOST by Ann Agguire

Books courtesy of Denise Jaden (US mailing only):

HOW I LOST YOU (SIGNED ARC!) by Janet Gurtler
SEVER (ARC) by Lauren DeStefano
RUSH (ARC) by Eve Silver
IN TOO DEEP (ARC) by Coert Voorhees
BROTHER, BROTHER (ARC) by Clay Carmichael
RIPTIDE (ARC) by Lindsey Scheibe
ALSO KNOWN AS... (ARC) by Robin Benway
FOREVERMORE (ARC) by Cindy Miles

The places to visit:

The following will be the check-in points for the month of March. We plan to have check-in posts up and running by 9AM PST (noon EST) each day.

Mondays – LS Taylor will host at
Tuesdays – Shari Green will host at
Wednesdays – Angelina Hansen will host at
Thursdays – Mary Ann Scott will host at

Fridays – Denise Jaden will host at
Saturdays – Kim Baccelia will host at

Sundays – Kelsey Macke will host at

**It's still not too late to go to Denise Jaden's blog and post your goals for this month!!!

This last week we had a major headache. We found out that our drainage pipes in the backyard were filled with disgusting tree roots that ended up blocking the water from draining out. Instead the water backed up and seeped inside our office. Here's a photo of one of the broken pipes. Next to it are tree roots. Disgusting, huh?

This is where the drain over flowed:

And where it came in:

After the plumber came out he asked, "Did you guys ever clean out your pipes?"

I'm like, "Uh, you mean we're supposed to do that?"

So long story short, because the pipes weren't cleaned out we had major issues that ended up costing $$$$.

So what does this all have to do with March madness? I thought I'd compare how a revision can also be blocked. How often do you have a spot or two in your revision that just doesn't go anywhere and you have to go in and 'clean' it out in order for the story to move again?

Plumber taking out the broken pipes:

I think revising can be like the plumber's tools: you need to go in and find what the problem with your story is--why it's 'stuck' and then you can cut out that piece. This might mean, like in my case with my own revision, a major rewrite. Or maybe it needs just a little 'maintenance' by going in and tightening some places that need it. Like maybe using different words choices, different POV, different tense, or a number of other things. I do know one thing--after you do take the time and effort to do your revision? Your story will flow much better. You'll find that gem that's been hidden. Also I'm a huge believer in critique groups. Sometimes it takes another eye or two to help point out what your story might need.

My question for today's March Madness post is what have you done when you find your story is 'stuck' or doesn't flow as well as it should? Does the writing 'back up' and not go anywhere? What tools do you use to help?

Going back to our pipe 'issue':

After all this mess with our backyard, we're going to have another plumber come out and replace all the drainage pipes. Plus, we're very lucky it didn't involve the sewage pipes or that would have been a totally different mess!


Jennifer said…
I used to try to plow through the "back ups," and I'd sit for hours writing and rewriting a scene. Usually I ended up deleting it the next time I opened my MS because it still didn't work.

Now I try to walk away and since I'm not stressing so much, a solution will pop into my head when I'm brushing my teeth or falling asleep.
PatEsden said…
Great post.

I'm working at the paragraph, sentence and word level right now and this same idea holds true. I messed and messed and messed with one paragraph earlier this week. It wasn't until I started fresh that all the nasty little problems vanished and things started working. And it was amazing how one small fix, made so many things work better as well.

Good luck with the pipes in the future. I had the same issue, but because we hadn't had our septic pumped in a long time.
Candilynn Fite said…
You're so right. The two compare nicely. The output of our words must flow in a clear, concise way, otherwise confusion and clogged thoughts flood the story. Sometimes it's as easy as removing a word or sentence here or there, but other times, we have to rework the entire sentence, graph or scene. I've never compared myself as a writer to a plumber before, but it makes sense, and it's our job to fix the issues. I also agree critiques are so beneficial. They can help us point out the clogged areas, especially if we're too close to the problem. Great points, Kim!
Kim Baccellia said…

I've done that very same thing! I used to sit and rewrite a scene and not move on but only later have to delete it as it still didn't work.

Very true about sometimes you need to just walk away from it for a while. For me, running sometimes helps. I've gotten so many ideas from running/power walking.

Thanks for posting!
Kim Baccellia said…

So true! Joyce Sweeney, a YA writing mentor and author, told me sometimes it helps to just start over fresh. Yes, it can be scary but sometimes that will make all the difference!

Thanks for posting!
Kim Baccellia said…

Last week I was totally stressing and so worried we had a slab leak. Also it didn't help that our homeowner's insurance said they don't cover this problem as it's considered the homeowner's responsibility or a 'maintenance' issue. Then it got me thinking, as I watched the plumber digging out the broken parts that were blocking the flow of ground water. This could be like our own revisions. And you should have seen those tree roots. So disgusting. I thought they could very well be like those words or even scenes that just are taking over the pacing/flow of a story.

Your comments are so true!

Thanks for posting!
Kim Clarke said…
I've also tried to power through a block only to have to cut the resultant writing later. I think there's still value in sticking with the routine, even if the work I produce isn't the best, but I have to remember to be ruthless when I'm looking over it later.

For me, nothing works as well as getting out of the house and taking a walk. I think what you said, Kim, about "walking away from it" is totally spot on! I just need to do it literally.
Liz Mertz said…
I am enjoying the plumbing analogies.

My husband is an amateur plumber when it comes to taking care of our small cabin. Last year after a hard freeze he had to fix several leaks. Once the obvious big break was fixed, water could flow to places where smaller cracks and broken seals needed attention. I am at that point in this revision, too, working on the obvious breaks and then tracking down the "leaks" that result further along in the story.

I hope your water and your words flow freely now and for a long time to come.

Hope your plumbing is flowing much smoother these days. And your writing too.

I've unblocked many a manuscript, usually by cutting out great swaths of wordage. I'll go through the offending chapters and keep only those paragraphs that I think I'll find some use for in the new version. Then I'll start the scene from scratch and paste in old pieces when applicable. Like plumbing, it's super messy.
Unknown said…
When I get stuck in a situation like that, I like to write a detailed outline of everything I've already written - often going over that can help me figure out plotting or pacing issues.

I don't know how to make that a plumbing analogy, though. :-)

(I'm JoyMC, but it's going to call me Unknown, because I cannot figure out how to link my Google account properly for blog posts.)
Kim Baccellia said…
Kim Clarke,

Yes, I totally agree. It is hard to do this daily and I admit some days are better than others. Like today for example. I just didn't want to get out of bed! But once I do get out, it helps so much!

Thanks for posting!
Kim Baccellia said…

Ooh, so nice to have a plumber for a husband! Yes, it's those little 'cracks' in our story that can throw us off. But once we go back in and 'fit' them, it does make the story flow so much nicer!

Thanks again for posting!
Kim Baccellia said…

I've heard that you can also put the 'offending chapters' in a different color font and then come back to it later. I did that for Nanowrimo as it got so frustrating to keep cutting away and not getting my word count in. But for doing a revision, I'll like you, it's sometimes better just to start over from scratch. Scary, yes. But sometimes worth it in long run!

Thanks for posting!
Kim Baccellia said…

I'm thinking of post-its on my white board in the writing loft. I usually have my current story outlined there and if I'm having problems, I'll go back and put sticky notes detailing those chapters.

I guess that could be when the plumber puts this camera feed down the pipe to see where's the blockage. The plumber did that with us and it was fascinating to see where the tree roots were cutting into the pipe. With that knowledge, plumber 'knew' what to do, like cut out the broken parts and repair with newer ones.

Thanks again for posting! Not sure why it's hard to post here! Sorry! I ended up coming here after I had so many problems with LJ with people trying to post and also getting mega spam. Such a pain!
When I get stuck, it usually means there's something I'm emotionally attached to that doesn't suit the story. I have to let it go. . .
Gina Miel Heron said…
I'm sitting here stuck at this very moment, in the middle of Chapter 4 of my revision (aka rewrite). I finally just put in "and then this happens" and skipped ahead to a new POV, because I just can't anymore. Here's hoping I remember to go back to it :).
Kim Baccellia said…

Try putting that part in another color font. It really does help later on when you have to go back to it!
Kim Baccellia said…

Same here. That happened to me with EARRINGS OF IXTUMEA and one of my characters Abish. She ended up 'taking' over my storyline so much that it wasn't Lupe's story anymore. So what did I do? I killed her off! Maybe you don't have to be that extreme but sometimes you really do need to just let it go.
Shari Green said…
When I have a section that really seems "plugged up", I usually just cut out the whole thing -- start again with fresh pipes, so to speak, LOL. But sometimes I can't even identify the true blockage, and then there's nothing like a good critique partner!
Jean said…
I make a lot of mess while writing, big tangles of plot. Walking away, going to a favorite cafe with only blank paper and writing down the bones helps me 'clean out' the metaphorical pipes. What I remember is often more critical than what's on the page.
Jean said…
Arcghh! Just lost my deep and thoughtful comment.
Here's a shallow and short version:
I leave it alone, take a walk to a favorite cafe and sit down there with blank paper and write the things that I remember being important. The longer the time away, the cleaner the 'pipes'.
Kim Baccellia said…

Me too. I'm so lucky to have some fab critique buds that can look over my revision with fresh eyes and give me suggestions on what I can do to unblock those passages!

Thanks for stopping by!
Kim Baccellia said…

Ooh, so true. Love this! I used to do this very same thing when I was a teacher. I'd go to the Burger King across the street and just write the old fashion way: on paper! Most of what I wrote ended up in my story.

Thanks for coming by!
Chris said…
I love the idea of putting the "offending" sections in a different color font. I'll be sure to do that.

I just finished a spec script for a writing fellowship and wish I had kept the scenes and dialogue I had cut, so I'll make sure I keep a discard file from now on.

Just made goals tonight, so not much to check in with.

Glad to be here and have the support. I think sometimes I drive my writing partner nuts. (Should we figure out our MC's last name first or write the first scene? Wait, what color is his shirt? :-) )
I am right there with most on the walking away, for the most part. I find myself getting frustrated when I get stuck and I want to enjoy the writing not despise it! I have got stuck and unsure of how to continue. In my case I found my problem to be that I was unsure of how my supporting character would act. I had a perfectly clear and wonderful idea of how she "should" be in terms of how my novel is going, but I was stuck at weather or not how I wanted her to be matched correctly with how she should actually be. (She is a psychiatrist, I am attempting for her to sound authentic). Long story long, I found the unclogging of my metaphorical pipes to be in research... lots of research. The library was, and is, my best friend. I have also been attempting to read a lot of novels that gear towards the same issue driven plot as what I am working towards. I find a lot of inspiration and motivation to write while I am reading other authors work, and sometimes when I am just totally stuck I get extremely unmotivated. Finding that again helps me to get back to it, with excitement, and that defiantly helps when I am feeling horribly blocked and down in the dumps. .... that and it gives me a wonderful excuse to spend my days reading wonderful books :-)
L.S. Taylor said…
I find myself unconsciously procrastinating when I'm blocked. It's not intentional, it just happens, and it's only a long while later that I realize that I'm procrastinating because I'm blocked.

How do I fix this? Well, I find working on another writing project really really helps. And sometimes I'm blocked because I need to take a break, to help my thoughts re-order themselves into something cohesive. I read a book or watch TV. Very useful, that.
Alex Villasante said…
I think i am doomed to be one day late (and probably a dollar short) this entire March Madness month. BUT! I do want to chime in on revision because it's what I'm working with right now. If I have a scene or section that is giving me trouble I open up a new document and start that section fresh. If it doesn't work the way I want to I haven't tinkered with the 'source' and don't have to worry. If it does work, I can easily weave it into the existing manuscript. I find this makes me less nervous about 'ripping stuff up' If the blockage is REALLY bad I draw a picture of the scene. Or I write a scene that I know won't be in the book. This can help take the pressure off.
I have felt your pain, Kim. Both on the writing front and the plumbing front.

When I get stuck, I try to find something that will let me think sideways. It could be searching Amazon for something to add to my wish list, going for a walk (which is tougher these days since I'm back to working full time), or cleaning. If I can focus myself elsewhere just enough, but not too much, I often find an answer.

When all else fails, I go over some brevious chapters and revise myself into a running backing up to get some running momentum.

Kim Baccellia said…

LOL on the whole MG thing. I swear sometimes I can spend tons of time on wondering what their last names and even first name should be! I've also been known to persue Pinterest and check out all the photos, trying to see if I can see my characters there!

Thanks for commenting!
Kim Baccellia said…

Ooh, great points! Love the research idea. Originally my current revision was going to take place in a domed society so I did tons of research on this. Then editors/agents told me my story was too similar to all the submissions they'd been getting. I admit, I was really depressed. So I figured to go another angle which meant more research! This revision has taken tons of revising.

I love the library. Great source of materials!

Thanks for posting!
Kim Baccellia said…

Yep. Ditto that. Sometimes when I'm 'blocked' in my writing, I just need a little break. One week I went on a Roswell TV series break which helped so much with researching romantic tension between characters. Or I'll just read a book that I don't have to review. That helps tons too!

Thanks for posting!
Kim Baccellia said…

Thanks for joining us! You'll find this community is so supportive and encouraging!

Ooh, love your idea of writing a scene in a different folder and then later coming back to it. Great idea!
Kim Baccellia said…
Mary Ann,

Ooh, yes, so true. When I was working full time I tried to make a 'date' to go to a yoga class at least once a week. This helped with not only getting over any kind of 'blockage' but also did wonders with calming me down. **I do admit I have the stereotypical red-hair temper.

Or even if that's hard, I try not to schedule anything on Sunday except church. I try to go on a family walk or just do something that has nothing to do with things on my to do list.

Thanks for posting!

Popular posts from this blog

Fun Post on Egyptian Goddess Hathor

Cybils' Five-12/1/17

Cybils' Five-12-22-17