Donna Reads: The Nine Month Plan


In The Nine Month Plan by Wendy Markham, Nina Chickalini has long dreamed of getting away. After her mother’s death years ago in childbirth, she put her dreams of seeing the world on hold to be mother to her younger siblings. She also works full shifts helping her father in the family pizza parlor. With her youngest brother about to graduate from high school and her other brother due to return from college and take his place in the family business, Nina finally thinks she will be free to pursue her plans. Nina has already raised a family and has no plans to marry or have a family of her own.

Nina’s best friend is her next door neighbor, Joey Materi. Nina and Joey have a great relationship. They laugh and joke like best friends often do. The interplay between the two characters made up some of the best parts in the book. Joey has been unlucky in love, and he feels more than ready to meet the girl of his dreams and settle down. He’s ready to be a father. Joey has been a good friend to the Chickalini family, bailing them out financially and more years before when Nina’s father had a heart attack and was unable to work. Nina feels indebted to Joey. When Joey jokingly suggests that Nina have a baby for him, Nina after consideration, agrees. Will Nina have the baby and leave, giving Joey the greatest gift of all, or will Nina have a change of heart?

I haven’t read a simple romance novel in quite some time. This story was cute, and I plowed through it in one day. I found it while home recuperating from a surgical procedure, and once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. I read several reviews where readers complained about the author’s use of present tense. That didn’t bother me at all. I was so wrapped up in the story itself I didn’t care what tense it was written in. I enjoyed the story and would recommend it. The author has written other stories about the Chickalini family, and I have already purchased those. If you want a simple romance that will make you smile, try this one. 

Back to the Drawing Board

baseballI’ve begun again. I recently decided to experiment and write an alternate chapter in my book-writing efforts. I wrote it from my hero’s point of view, and wow, what a difference that has made! I think what I’m writing is better from his point of view. One chapter in his voice has since grown into two. I’ve been alternating POV from heroine to hero. I’m not sure if the final version will stay that way, but I’m having fun with it at present.

My hero has long been my favorite character. He’s a High School pitcher. I keep writing because he calls to me. He’s the character I care the most about, and he’s the character I take the most care with. He’s the character I can’t forget. I have his personality firmly established and I’m fleshing out what drives him. It’s interesting that looking at my fictional world through his eyes is also making me write better lines and situations for my heroine.

I’ve set aside the massive tome I was working on because it never seemed to end. It had a loose plot, but it wandered and was definitely more than one story. I’ve opened a whole new project in Scrivener, my writing software. I’ve been incorporating in parts and pieces of the chapters from my first effort, and the characters and places remain the same.

I’m enjoying building the hero’s world.  He was more two dimensional in my previous effort. Now he has a rich history and world of his own. He has a rowdy group of buddies that have been fun to write about, too. I’ve even enjoyed writing about his classic car.

Most romantic novels are written with female protagonists and from a female’s perspective. We get to hear her innermost thoughts. She drives the major plot lines. There aren’t too many stories written from a guy’s viewpoint. I know Meyer (Twilight) and James (Fifty Shades) have tried it recently. I hear their efforts weren’t very good. I’m hoping mine is better. My hero is not a wimp like Edward Cullen nor is he a sociopath like Christian Grey.

I think one of the reasons why the male character is easier for me to write is because I live with men. It’s also been a good forty years since I was a teenaged girl. I have more recent experience with teenaged boys. I know how they think and how they feel.

I’m not abandoning my original work. It will get used. I’m just making the beginning part of it better. I know now that it takes a man to do that.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

I Just Don’t Know Yet

manuscriptHow much is too much? I continue to write on in my draft of a novel. I love every minute of writing it. It’s not perfect, and it may never see the light of day. I may be the only one who every reads it. I just don’t know yet. My characters are still talking to me and telling me to write more. I am obsessed with them.

So I continue to write – usually at noon and at night, sometimes in the middle of the night. I almost always write something every day. I put it aside a few weeks ago while I read novels instead of writing one, and I missed it! It was good to take a break from it for a bit, but the characters kept talking to me. I couldn’t wait to get back to them.

I’m up to 262,000+ words. They’re not all good words so don’t let that number startle you. The story hasn’t reached its conclusion yet. It’s had lots of things happen in it. It has lots more to come. Ideas occur to me, and I add them. How do I know when to stop? I just don’t know yet. I’ve just been going with the flow and letting it go on and on until I reach the point where I’m either bored with it, tired of it, or it reaches its logical conclusion. I know it needs massive editing, but I don’t want to do that until I reach my quit point. It also needs someone kind to read it when I’m ready so they can tell me if it’s any good or not. I just don’t know yet.

I think my effort runs on and on because I never could work from an outline. I always found an outline to be too restricting. If I try to work from one, I never stick to it. At some point, when I get all my ideas out, I will probably go back and do a reverse outline and structure the story I’ve got to fit the outline so that the book has a beginning, a middle and an ending.

Who knows? Maybe this isn’t a novel. Maybe it’s two. Maybe it’s just an exercise in creative writing. Whatever it is, it’s been good for me and I don’t regret all the time I’ve spent on it. It’s been a confidence booster. I’ve enjoyed creating characters that feel like real people to me. They are funny with unique personalities of their own.

I don’t think this is going to be the next great American novel. That’s okay. Heck, I’d be satisfied with publishing a trashy romance novel. What I have so far is part romance, part ghost story, part Young Adult and part erotic novel. Will all those genres remain in the final version? I just don’t know that yet either.

Prior to this novel and this set of characters, I made several starts and stops and attempts at writing a book. Nothing ever worked. They were childish and trite. Even the children’s book I wrote starring a squirrel, as the main character, didn’t work. I got quite a bit of that one written before I got tired of it. For some reason, the characters I’m writing about now stuck. I kept going. Does that mean something? I just don’t know yet.

Image courtesy of Pinterest


In Search of A Hero

This August will mark three years that I’ve been blogging. The recent break that I’ve taken from my blogs has been the longest non-posting period for me in all that time. I’m still writing, but I’m writing outside of the blogging forum.

As most know, I decided to continue the story and some of the characters that I began in my short stories that I wrote for the A-Z Blogging Challenge. I enjoyed writing about Annelise so much that I wanted to write more about her life. When my story opens, she’s 17 years old, and she’s still hanging out with her best friend, Zoe.

It’s weird when someone asks me what I’m writing that I have a hard time articulating the concept. I’m almost afraid to tell for fear that I’ll spoil it or lose what I’m writing. I have 31 chapters and 92,438 words so far. The story hasn’t really come to its end so I’m letting it meander where it will. I plan to just go with it and write, write, write and worry about editing and shaping it later. There is a lot that will be edited out and possibly be used in another book some day. I don’t consider any of it a waste of time. It will get used somewhere. Even if it doesn’t, I had the joy of getting it out onto the page.

baseballWhat began as a story with a teenaged girl as the protagonist has somehow changed along the way. She’s still the main character, but the hero is the character who keeps me writing. How about that picture, huh?  No, he’s not exactly what my hero looks like, but he’s certainly inspirational! Yes, it’s a love story, but it’s obvious pretty early on that he’s in love with her and has been for a while. It’s a young adult type story, but it’s not all that either. It has a ghost in it, but I haven’t really decided where I’m going with that part of the story either.

One of my biggest concerns is that what I’ve got so far isn’t G-rated. There’s swearing and sex, and while I’m not embarrassed about what I’ve written, I worry about how it might be taken by some who are not as open-minded as I am. It remains to be seen what might get edited or softened in the final version. I could always use a penname, I suppose, but I can decide that later, too. It’s not ready for anyone else to read it yet, but I look forward to that day.

I am a member of a writer’s group and they do regular critique sessions. For the recent critique they had they were asking that the writer give up the rights to the written piece so that it could be published in a group anthology. I don’t have that much written work ready yet, and I’m certainly not surrendering any parts of my “baby” and losing my hold over it.

I haven’t felt this alive in quite some time. I love writing. Even if it never goes anywhere at all, it’s been good for my confidence level and good for me. I hope this feeling never ends.