A PerNoWriMo Update and Tidbit

I’m still meeting my goals on my rebuild of Death Out of Time. And the revised story line is coming together, especially with the help and insights of two of my earlier readers. So today’s post is a snippet of what I’ve written recently. Will this clip make the final story? Probably. Will the wording or details change? Absolutely. But this is a chance for you to see my “work in progress” in its initial stages.


Madeleine decided to stop for a late lunch before driving home. The State Capitol was just a block away, and she had a number of fast food restaurants to choose from. She grabbed a salad at one and took a seat by the window. The skies had finally cleared as the hurricane moved north and further out to sea. But the heat and humidity had returned with a vengeance.

She paused in mid-bite as a familiar face approached on the sidewalk. Jenna, in a smart suit, was coming from the direction of the Capitol. The urge to bend over as if she had dropped something overcame her. But she was only halfway down when she heard the tap on the window.

Damn, she thought, straightening to see Jenna smiling and waving. She waved back, hoping the reporter was on her way to an assignment. Instead, Jenna came in and said, “What a small world. Let me grab a drink and join you.”

“So what brings you to Richmond?” Madeleine asked when Jenna sat down.

“I got to cover a special legislative session today. The regular guy’s on vacation this week.”

“That means another story for you?”

“Yep, and it beats the hell out of my usual assignments.”

Madeleine stared at the menu board above the counter and drew a slow, measured breath. “I suppose most people find politics more interesting than archaeology.”

Jenna put a hand to her lips. “Oh, shoot, I’m so sorry. That came out all wrong. Covering your work isn’t one of those usual jobs at all.”

“That’s nice to hear.”

“Madeleine, I’m really sorry. I know I’ve gotten off on the wrong foot with you. My mom’s always said my mouth rushes ahead while my brain’s still getting into gear.”

Jenna leaned forward. “It’s just that I really like your brother, and I’d like us to be friends, too.”

Madeleine took a bite of her salad and chewed it slowly, pulling her own thoughts together before she spoke.


So, I’m slogging forward — to what I hope will be the right story. “Time” will tell.

How’s NaNoWriMo going for those of you who are participating?

And now to close with one from the “Ouch Files.” Have you ever been one of dozens of people to comment on a post—and, upon revisiting it, then realized you’re the only one not to get a reply? Ouch.

52 thoughts on “A PerNoWriMo Update and Tidbit

    • I toyed with the idea of using a passage filled with notes like “More Here” or “Foster shows impatience.” But that might’ve been too distracting. ;) We’ll see how this goes. Maybe my blog is the only place anyone will ever see my stories. Or maybe they’ll be published. Unfortunately, I can’t travel in time to find out! :)

  1. Ouch! Yes, I have seen that the blog host didn’t comment on my comment before. It is a major snub. I totally understand it when there are hundreds of comments on a blog. But when you can count the comments on your hands and you still don’t get a reply, it stings. This was a fun scene to read. I love the part where she’s trying to lean down not to be seen. I could see myself so doing that to avoid an unwanted conversation. Good work, Jacqueline.

    • It’s happened a few times, and it does sting when I see that everyone else before and after got a reply. Logic says the blogger just missed it. But the first-day-of-high-school me (who’s never graduated to adulthood) thinks I did something to fall out of favor. Best not to think about it too much, and it is comforting to hear other bloggers have suffered it, too.

      Thanks so much for the kind words on this draft scene. I really hope I’ve found the right story this time. I hope the wedding plans are falling into place!

      • They’re falling all right. The days keep ticking by and nothing I do is stopping the day from approaching. I actually have only tomorrow left to get ready…and it is full to the brim of stuff to do. But (cross my fingers) I think we’re all going to make it through this.

  2. JM, love it! So Madeleine isn’t too pleased with her brother and Jenna being a couple? Great scene and would love to know what happens next.

    I’ve had that happen — my comment being the only one not answered or acknowledged. I try not to let it sting, but it does. Who knows why? I respond to comments via email while others respond directly from their dashboard. Maybe yours was way down the line and the blogger didn’t see it. That’s what I try to tell myself when it happens! Or maybe it’s me. ;) Feels like high school sometimes, huh?

    • Thanks, Brigitte! One of my (many) biggest fears is that I can write individual scenes that are entertaining and hold a reader’s interest but can’t put enough of them together in a way that will make a good novel from beginning to end. So we’ll see what the betas say when I’ve wrapped up this rebuild. If it still isn’t working, then I might have to reconsider what I write from here on out. Maybe short Meghan stories would be best suited to me.

      High school is the perfect analogy for that “ouch” file. Adult me reasons the bloggers (it’s happened on several occasions) just missed my comment, even though they replied to all the others both above and below mine. First-day-of-high-school me feels like she’s fallen out of grace with her friends and is being ostracized. Sigh. Why couldn’t that me have grown up to be more resilient?! ;)

      • I know what you mean, JM about the scenes. Plenty of mine — when I’ve shown them to people — they are entertaining as you say. But put together as a book? Would it still be?

        Adult, smadult. Nice is nice, whether we’re in high school or not. Ignoring a comment is just, well, rude. I don’t understand it. But what do I know? It’s a GOOD thing you’re sensitive to that. Not a bad thing. Trust me, I have felt that ostracized thing too and it doesn’t feel good, whether you 9 or 90. No reason for it. I’ll stop now.

        btw, you’ll always get a reply from me and if I don’t reply back, you BETTER call me on it because it truly was an oversight, never a snub. :)

        • You are great at making people feel better, Brigitte! :) It’s been a tough few days—not because a blogger didn’t reply to my comment! But that insecure me has been running wild for a couple of days now, and I need to find a way to corral her and let grown-up me run the show again. ;)

  3. That last line is perfect! Perfect. Says so much
    Glad you are making progress – no time to fret over comment responses: you’ve got a book to finish! That’s what’s important…besides they were just in awe of your comment and timid to reply..then the tornado came and it was all “Dorothy and Toto, too” time…hey it could be….might as well believe that!

    • Thanks, Mouse. :) I wish I would’ve thought to ask readers what images of the two women this scene raises. I know it’s not much to go on, but it would be interesting to see what kind of range of answers I would get.

      Bridget captured my feelings on those non-replies perfectly with the high school comment. First-day-of-high-school me is all too alive and well, all these years later. She’s never graduated to adulthood. Sometimes logical adult me wins the day. Others, not so much!

  4. Nice bit–that short excerpt says a lot about Madeleine and Jenna’s relationship. I’d like my writing to be as crisp yet rich as yours. You’re one of my models now.

    As for comments not replied to–yes, it’s happened. I assume the blogger has a schedule for responding and if I’m late to the game, I may have missed the window. What does sting for me is when I regularly read and comment on someone’s blog and never get a visit to mine in return. It wouldn’t even have to be each time but an occasional drop-in and comment would be nice. But then, I remind myself that everyone has their priorities and preferences and time is valuable, so I get over it.

    • Thank you for the compliment, Jagoda! As you’ve seen from my other WIP, though, not all of my writing is this concise. And I worry that while some individual scenes pass muster, I’ll never be able to put enough of them together to successfully carry a reader’s interest through an entire novel.

      I’m afraid first-day-of-high-school me has never learned how to get over things easily. Usually, I keep her at bay. There are situations, though, where she gains a foothold, and it takes some time to push her back down. She’s been running rampant for a couple of days now, and I hope she’ll tire herself out in the next few.

      I’ve had a similar experience as you describe with some bloggers. After a while, I tend to stop commenting on their posts. As you say, they don’t have to “like” or comment on all of mine. But once in a while would be appreciated.

  5. Glad to hear you’re making good progress. Enjoyed reading a snippet of it. As for the comment thing, that’s happened to me on a couple occasions. The sensible part of me knows the blogger just didn’t see it, but the insecure child in me worries that I’m not liked; I’m annoying, stupid, boring… Ah, yes, I’m a grown woman. ;)

    • Thanks, Carrie. :) I set some pretty low goals for this month so that I could meet them. But after so much time spent banging my head against the desk this year, I thought baby steps were best. I need to get back in the habit of writing something nearly every day, even if just a couple hundred words, to get myself back into writing shape.

      Brigitte nailed it with the high school analogy. Grown-up me knows the non-replies weren’t intentional, even when everyone else before and after got a reply. But first-day-of-high-school me thinks I did something to tick off the bloggers and they don’t like me anymore. I really wish she could’ve graduated with the rest of me…. ;)

      • I think what happens is that if someone uses the notification window on their site, it only lists the last 9 interactions. If there are more than 9, you have to enter the notifications page to see them all. If they don’t do that, then they’ll miss any comments that came before. At least I think that’s it…

          • I usually always reply from my notification tab. Occasionally from my comment page. But I find it too slow to do so from the post page. I think it’s my theme.

            • That’s odd. I’d really expect better from a premium theme. But I have noticed when I “reply to a reply” on your blog, the page jumps around before settling down to the comment box. I wonder if anyone else has run into that?

              • Yes, that’s exactly what it does. It jumps around. Honestly, I’m not too thrilled with my theme and probably won’t bother with a premium one again. I just wanted something a little different, but it wasn’t worth the $60.

  6. Sounds good! And this is a great example of showing and not telling. This shows so much about their relationship without bringing thoughts into it or making it all too obvious. Now I really want to know what she’s going to say next to this irritating reporter. :)

    • I think I need to paste your comment someplace where I can see it every day from my desk—I believe you’re the first person to ever say I did a good job of showing and not telling! Maybe I am learning from earlier mistakes. ;) I really wish now that I’d asked readers what image they had of the two women after reading this brief clip. The replies might have been “all over the board,” but it would be fun to see who came close to what I see in my head.

      And the character of Jenna in no way reflects my views on reporters or the field of journalism. She’s simply a character fulfilling a role in the story! :)

      • Hahhah – showing and not telling is a tough one for me too but I could picture everything perfectly – the attempt at ducking down, the excited rap on the window, and their facial expressions. I think you’ve done it! I’m used to people avoiding or not liking reporters anyway. You could always turn the whole cliché around and have her turn out to be a great person (if you haven’t already, that is)! :)

  7. I really like the scene. There’s something about your writing that instills confidence in me as the reader, a kind of unassuming authority, hard to describe. And yes, the no-reply thing is bad – if my comment is in the middle and everyone else’s around are replied to, then I mostly lean towards thinking that they missed it (and try to ignore the niggling worry that they’re deliberately ignoring me!). I’ve missed comments on my blog before and then spot them later. What bothers me more is if the blogger has very few comments and they have clearly been selective about which ones they reply to. I do think its rude to not reply. If someone has 100s of comments every time then ok, but if they only have a few then I do take offense if they’ve replied to others and not mine! And if it happens more than once I probably won’t go back. It particularly stings if I’ve made the effort to say nice supportive things and they don’t acknowledge it, ya know!

    • Hmm, I’d love for some of that reader confidence to translate to writer’s confidence. I could use a good shot of that. ;) The final story line elements aren’t coming together as smoothly as I hoped, so I’m worrying that I’m not as far along as I’d thought.

      Yeah, when really popular bloggers get hundreds of comments, it’s easy to see how one could get missed. Or if someone routinely replies to only some comments on any given post. But when the numbers are more manageable, it does stick out to the one(s) who got left behind. There’s a saying something like, “once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, but three times is a pattern.” And I’ve now encountered a couple of “twices.” I might be switching to simple “likes” on those blogs (because I still do like them). Maybe that will satisfy first-day-of-high-school me who insists on feeling like she’s been kicked out of the clique and will never have a date for the prom….? ;)

      • One thing that helps me cope with the rejection ;) is to try and accept that maybe some people just view blog commenting in a different way to us – we consider it a courtesy (at the very least) to reply to everyone who has taken the trouble to comment on our blog, and so we feel a bit slighted if we are not extended the same courtesy on other blogs. However, maybe some people aren’t bothered if their comment doesn’t get a reply elsewhere, and so it doesn’t occur to them that some people might be offended if their comment isn’t replied to on theirs. Maybe they don’t think of the courtesy aspect, they just see it that they will reply if they have something interesting to say in reply, otherwise, no biggee. There are some times though where I really can’t rationalise it like that – someone once recommended a particular cookery blog to me, and I went over and left a really jolly comment, making it clear it was my first visit, like “X recommended your blog to me, so I thought I’d come and check it out, your recipes look great, I definitely want to try this one” or something. She only received two other comments on that post, and she replied to both of those (who were clearly people she interracted with regularly from the tone), but not mine, wouldn’t you think she’s want to say something welcoming? I gave her the benefit of the doubt though as she’d been recommended, and commented on another post a week or so later, and again, she didn’t reply but replied to some others. So I didn’t go back again. That kind of thing I really don’t understand.

        • Oh, that experience with the recommended cookery blog would be off-putting. I would think people would like to encourage more readers to interact, but maybe that’s just me. Maybe some people prefer a smaller cohort for their comments. In all likelihood, the repeated non-replies I’ve received recently are probably unintentional. But if they happen a third time, then I’ll probably stop commenting on those posts, even if I keep reading them.

  8. Glad you’re making good progress JM. From this scene, I see Jenna as young, impulsive and though she’s ambitious, I hold out hope that she’s not ambitious in a ruthless way, but that she’s basically good-hearted. I see Madeline as a little older, no-nonsense and successful but maybe a little insecure. I do make an effort to comment and like and it does take a lot of time to keep up with all the blogs I’m following, so yes, it does smart a little if there’s no acknowledgement. I think and hope I’ve replied to every comment I’ve had (though not always straight away), so hope I haven’t ever done the same to anyone!

    • You are very perceptive about these characters, Andrea! And just maybe that means I’ve done a good job of showing what they’re like without telling. Now to just carry that through another 80,000 words or so….

      Commenting does take time and effort, and I appreciate it greatly when readers comment on my posts. That’s why I’ve always aimed to reply to everyone. Of course, if we have “nested” comments, I often let them have the last word, but I hope I’ve always replied to at least the opening round. It’s been an oversight if I’ve missed anyone!

  9. I enjoyed that scene. I feel I know a lot more about both characters from their conversation.
    As for not getting a response from someone who responds to comments, if it happens once I assume it’s an oversight.

    • Thanks, Clowie! One of these days I should probably share a clip that actually addresses the time travel element of the story, though. ;)

      Definitely a non-response on one post is an oversight as you say. I’ve just run into a couple of instances where it’s happened more than once, so part of me wonders if I’ve accidentally offended the blogger. I certainly hope not, but I know how easy it is for words to be misconstrued—especially written ones when we can’t see the writer’s facial expressions or body language.

  10. Thanks for sharing your writing! I love that scene and it wants me to know more about the characters. About the brother, about Jenna whose interest in Madeleine seems so selfish, and about their lives in general. You nailed it with their dialog – nice short sentences, to the point, just the way people talk in real life.
    As for blog comments, I concur what people have said above. I do think writers have such busy lives, maybe some of the rudeness is just an oversight or forgetfulness. Not sure though. As for myself, I may have to change my settings, because I don’t get notified when I get a comment to a comment. That leaves me having to scroll through all the post comments until I find mine. On a busy blog like yours that does take time. I have to look into solving this.

    • Thank you for the kind words, Helga! It’s been a rough few days on several fronts, including the writing. There are some points to the story that haven’t fallen into place and others that are still missing. But my goals for the month aren’t limited to word counts—they include hammering out more of the details, and they are coming together, even though it might not feel that way at times.

      When a blogger doesn’t reply to one of my comments, I put it down to oversight. I’ve had a couple recently, though, where it’s happened a second time. And so I wonder if I might have somehow said something to offend the bloggers. I certainly hope not!

      No notifications when someone replies to your comments? That would get difficult! I follow a few self-hosted bloggers, and I have to remember to revisit some of them to see the reply. I’ve relied on the “orange notification thingy,” but Carrie above noted that it only shows the 9 most recent comments. So it’s possible to miss them if we’re busy commenting on a variety of posts. There’s always a glitch with technology somewhere, isn’t there? :)

  11. LOL. I have often wondered if the blogger did it intentionally or mistakenly. If I notice a clear pattern of snubbiness, I consider taking my comments elsewhere. :) Cool excerpt. I really don’t like Jenna but I don’t think I’m supposed to. ;)

    • As I just said to Sheila and gingerfightback, I can’t give too much away! Madeleine does have some issues with Jenna, but even if Jenna isn’t necessarily a “good friend” type of character, she would have to have some redeeming features!

      As for non-replies on my comments on someone’s post, I’ll probably go with a “third time’s the charm” philosophy. Or, in this case, the “kiss of death.” ;) If I really enjoy the blog, I’ll still read, but I may cut back to likes, and as you say, take my comments elsewhere. ;)

  12. I like the interaction between Jenna and Madeline; I think it is very realistic and I like how you kept out of Maddie’s head to explain why she felt the need to duck out of sight. In just the next bit, we figure out that there is some tension there. You did the same thing using dialogue to get Maddie’s reaction on Jenna’s remark about her usual assignments. Nice job!

    Gosh, now you have made me nervous. Immediately I began to panic that I might have missed a comment on my blog or over at Limebird! Not that I thought I was the culprit in your particular situation, but I have such a guilty conscience that I automatically thought I might have done that to someone unwittingly.

    I think that most bloggers try really hard to reply to all comments, and you can usually tell if a blogger isn’t keen on replying to comments after a few posts. If this particular blogger seems to always reply to comments, then I think give him/her the benefit of the doubt. It was probably an innocent mistake.

    I know that sometimes when a whole bunch come in at once, and I’m in a rush, I have scrolled too fast and inadvertently skipped someone. I would like to think that I have always caught myself. I would also like to think I have never, ever missed a comment in all of my 2 years of blogging. But I can’t be 100% confident. Mistakes happen. So, I’ll just say now — if I ever missed a comment of yours I am so sorry!! :)

    • Kate, I think you are far too conscientious a soul to miss someone’s comment! :) You have never missed a reply to me or, I would bet, anyone else! What made me mention this was a couple of instances where twice the bloggers had not replied to me, but had to everyone else around me. And that got me wondering if I had said something that inadvertently caused offense. In reality, it was probably just two oversights instead of one. But if it happens a third time, then I’ll probably refrain from further comments and switch to likes.

      This is a so-far “mini-scene” that I think does what a good scene should do. The struggle now is to carry that through every scene in the story. I still have a great fear that I can write a few of these for a story but won’t be able to put enough of them together for a full novel—that I’ll end up with a bunch of filler around them that falls flat. I can truly be my worst enemy at times. We’ll see what happens as I plug away with this rebuild.

  13. JM, like Kate, I immediately thought it must of been me. And to be honest, for the first few months of blogging I didn’t reply to all comments at all. I didn’t realize it was the proper etiquette. I was shy, I didn’t always know what to say or felt that my reply would be lame. Over time I’ve realized the least I can do is acknowledge a comment.

    Your scene is outstanding! The descriptions were great, definitely showed so much. I can learn from this snippet! Like others have said you did an excellent job at keeping us out of Madeleine’s head yet letting us see what was going on. Oh do I want to know what she is going to say next!! :) Great job!

    It is so brave of you to share a draft scene! I give you a LOT of credit. You should feel so good about all the positive feedback you’ve received and if I can just add to it by saying I can’t wait to read the whole story!!! :)

    • No worries, Arlene, you’re not one of them! And I wouldn’t have thought twice about the incidents if they were new bloggers. But they weren’t. So I’m figuring I either ticked them off unintentionally, or they’ve lost interest in my blog and so maybe aren’t replying to my comments anymore on theirs. But I’m not a “quid pro quo” blogger, so I’ll still read their posts—just maybe moving to likes instead of comments.

      Thank you for the kind words on this scene! I’ve been hoping I’m doing better with this draft, and maybe this is a sign that I’m finally getting the hang of “show don’t tell.” But boy will it be hard to do throughout the entire story! I tend to enjoy being in characters’ heads, but it’s obviously been a problem in my earlier stories. So changing that is a major requirement of these rebuilds.

      I don’t know if was so much bravery as looking for an “easy” post to write, but sure, let’s go with bravery! Yeah, that’s the ticket! :) Have a great weekend, and I hope you get to spend some quality time with your writing!

  14. (Apologies for commenting so late – I was off doing family stuff last week and missed this one when it popped up in my inbox on Wednesday morning.)

    While the conversation above is a reasonably standard one between two women of (slightly?) clashing ideals, I really like the little bump at the end about Madeleine’s brother. I’m also really curious how this relates to science fiction, as this snippet feels more drama, right now. Of course, drama and characterization provide the focal points of any story, science fiction or otherwise, even I know that. But, this tidbit makes me even more intrigued to learn what pushes Madeleine past the boundaries of what Jenna might call a more mundane world. ;)

    I think replies are unique to each blogger. Some reply – or try to reply – to everything, while others seem to reply only to those messages that pique interest or discussion, while still others almost never reply at all. Personally, I try to reply to every comment, though I do know that some comments, especially those on older posts, can get lost in the back-and-forth. (I really hope I did not commit this personal sin of ignoring you! If it was me, please let me know. I’d hate to lose one of my most insightful and friendly commenters because I was being absent-minded!)

    I have a Gmail account, and Gmail will stack messages from the same sender. In the case of comments on my blog, each one will appear as coming from a generic WordPress Blog sender, not the individual. If a string of comments happens at once, Gmail is not always smart enough to adequately differentiate them (or, maybe I’m not smart enough to pay proper attention). For a blog where there are 40 or 50 comments, it’s probably just an oversight on the author’s part, since you’ve always got good and interesting things to say in your comments. :)

  15. At this point in the story, Madeleine knows that she’s dealing with time travelers, which, understandably, demands her attention. And yet, she’s hiding this knowledge from everyone around her. So to have a reporter showing up to do a series of stories on her excavations for the local paper is not making her happy. Especially when the reporter also seems very interested in Madeleine’s brother. And there are reasons for Madeleine to question Jenna’s motives.

    This story may not be the “typical” variety of time travel sci-fi that readers are used to. (Well, none of my stories may be what people are used to. ;) ) I think I bring more of an anthropological perspective to them, like Ursula K. LeGuin would do. Not that I’m comparing my writing to hers! So even though this might be classified as something like science fiction>time travel>mystery, there might be what readers would consider “cross genre” elements. So I can see where this particular scene might also fit in with “chick lit” or a mainstream story. But I think in the context of the sci-fi story Death Out of Time, it will also make sense.

    In these particular cases, I’m thinking the bloggers possibly missed my comments but also may have specifically not replied. (Because they normally would have and it’s happened twice.) So maybe I said something that inadvertently ticked them off, or they’ve decided my blog no longer interests them. We’ll see. If it happens again, well, as I mentioned above, “third time’s the charm/kiss of death.” ;) As long as I still enjoy their posts, I can always leave likes.

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  17. I love when your share scenes from your books–the dialogue and character reactions are so “real life.” Who hasn’t tried to bend over or turn around quickly in a crowd hoping to avoid saying hello? LOL! And then to have Madeleine get stuck with the broad…well that’s just perfect!

    • When I look back at my writing since I began in 2009, I really think my dialogue has shown the greatest improvement. And maybe my final stories will be dialogue-heavy compared to other books. But as long as the dialogue moves the story forward, gives the reader needed information, and keeps him/her engaged, is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.

      And to have a reader think I’ve captured real life with my words? Absolutely priceless! :D

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