Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Author Anna Kittrell, The Commandment

Allow me to introduce you to my friend and author, Anna Kittrell, and her newest novel, The Commandment, releasing August 24, 2018.

Anna was kind enough to answer a few questions related to her writing process for us.  I find it very interesting and enlightening to learn of authors’ writing process.

Her bio, a free excerpt, and information about The Commandment follow.

Here are the questions and Anna’s answers.  Enjoy!


  1. Do you have any interesting writing quirks you’d like to share?

When writing, I strive to communicate the thoughts and emotions of my characters in original ways. To make sure the facial expressions and actions are clearly conveyed to the reader, I often make faces in the mirror and act out physical movements. A few things I’ve acted out are: locking my hands behind my back while pretending I’m tied to a chair, pushing my head into a laundry basket while imagining I’m drowning in a fish tank, and rolling around on the floor, pantomiming a scuffle. I’m sure I look ridiculous! But it helps me come up with new ways to say the same old thing. It also helps me get inside the character’s skin, which enables me to breathe a little extra life into the story.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing this book?

I learned SO MANY things while writing this book! For example, Lukas Stone, the hero of the story, is fearful of heights, yet owns a hot-air balloon (that he’s never been in.) In my research, I learned that throwing out sand bags is no longer the way to lift a hot air balloon. Instead of helium, like they used in the old days, today a propane burner is used to keep the balloon in the air. Blasting heated propane into the envelope causes it to rise. To land, the pilot opens a valve on top of the envelope, allowing the hot air to escape for a controlled descent.  Another cool thing I learned was that some types of cactus juice produce a numbing sensation…which was PERFECT for creating the serums in The Commandment.

  1. Can you tell us about your heroine?

My heroine’s name is Briar Lee, she’s a few weeks from turning eighteen—and I really like her. She’s been under house arrest since the age of seven. Because of her functioning Agathi—aka God Zones—the government fears she will spiritually contaminate society, and therefore won’t allow her to venture from home.

Currently, Briar resides at a Nevada-based medical laboratory over a thousand miles away from her Oklahoma residence. She didn’t choose to live here, and definitely wouldn’t be there if she had a choice. Due to her functioning God Zones, she was flown to the lab to be a human test subject for Lukas Stone’s groundbreaking abstergent—a brain injection that dissolves the area of the mind that houses all thoughts and emotions connected with God.

Something people may not know about Briar is that she loves to cosplay! For those unfamiliar with the term, cosplay is dressing up in costume to represent comic book heroes, cartoon characters, or anyone or anything else that appeals to you. Briar plans to work with children after earning her degree in child psychology. Cosplay is a fantastic way to connect with kids. Plus it’s just plain FUN!

Briar has overcome many obstacles in her young life. Some of her trials have included being on house arrest since age seven, enduring the death of her courageous grandmother and the suicide of her father, being flown over a thousand miles from home to become a laboratory test subject, being drugged, kidnapped, and  imprisoned in a medical chamber of horrors, and having holes drilled into her skull and needles plunged into her brain.

It’s safe to say the poor girl is in desperate need of a Knight in Shining Armor! Despite his clinical, emotionless upbringing, Lukas Stone was able to fill that role by tuning into that still small voice that resides in the soul. His ability to choose “right,” even when everyone else insists it’s wrong, makes him a hero.

Upon meeting Lukas, Briar’s first thought was that he was a handsome guy. Her second thought was that he wasn’t rowing with both oars—or in his case, flying with both wings. For goodness sakes, the man owns a hot air balloon, but is afraid of heights! In turn, Lukas thought Briar was a silly small town girl, warped by a functioning God Zone.  It took some time for each of them to see past the surface, into one another’s hearts, and then, finally, into one another’s souls. Now Briar knows there isn’t a more beautiful place to be than by his side, and she’s pretty sure he feels the same about her. To believers, “till death do us part,” doesn’t really mean death—or parting. Lukas and Briar will spend eternity together. That realization makes their love even stronger.


Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim. She has written for as long as she can remember, and still has many of her tattered creations—stories she used to sell on the playground for a dime, written on notebook paper. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

Read on to find out more about the book and to read a free excerpt:

Author: Anna Kittrell

Title: The Commandment

Genre: Christian Futuristic Scifi

Publisher: Pelican Book Group

Imprint: Prism Book Group


Ten years ago, Briar’s body rejected a government mandated vaccine known as SAP (Serum to Advance Progressivism), formulated to erase God from the mind. Briar was seven years old. She’s been on house arrest ever since.

Now, just weeks from becoming a legal adult, Briar remains non-responsive to her mandatory SAP injections. Along with her rapidly approaching eighteenth birthday looms a grim reality: by order of the Commandment, adulthood means institutionalization for those resistant to SAP.

In a matter of days, Briar will become a permanent resident of the ARC—a facility shrouded in dark rumors of torture, experimentation, and death. Her only alternative is to accept a last minute ultimatum to become a laboratory test subject for a new God-dissolving serum.

With a decade of solitude behind her and a lifetime of confinement before her—what does she have to lose? Except maybe her soul.


“It’s late September, not the middle of July,” Briar’s mother said, blotting her forehead as she clipped down the walkway toward the car. “Seems Mother Nature didn’t get the memo.”

“Can I drive?” Briar jogged to the driver’s side.

“We’ve already discussed this. You’re not allowed behind the wheel until that thing comes off your leg.” Her mother nodded toward the clunky black box strapped around Briar’s ankle.

The infamous ankle monitor—aka life destroyer. Briar’s electronic prison guard since age seven.

“But that’s so ridiculous. What am I going to do, pick up a bunch of other unlevels and start a crusade? Come on, please? Just to the clinic. They’ll never know.”

“Don’t argue, just get in.” She aimed the key fob at the car.

“You know, Mom, if you had a cuffphone, like the rest of the population, you wouldn’t need that old fob. The car would sense you coming and the door would pop open on its own.”

Briar drudged around to the passenger side and climbed in, the headachy sweet scent of floral air freshener hitting her between the eyes.

Her mom slid behind the wheel and clicked her seatbelt. “Buckle up,” she said, double-glancing at her daughter. “What on earth is that on your head?”

“You noticed?” Briar pulled the seatbelt over her shoulder and snapped it, catching a section of long blue hair in the clasp. “I was chatting with Mouse online, trying to cheer him up.” She plucked the wig from her head, freed the strands from the buckle, and pushed the wig into her bag, causing her furry keychain to fall out onto her lap.

“He was sad about losing his dad.”

The little boy’s face had crumpled as he’d told her he wanted his dad back. She’d known how to make him feel better but had swallowed the comforting Bible verse on her tongue—one of many her grandmother had taught her as a child—and put on the silly wig instead. Blue hair was acceptable. Reciting scripture would get her arrested. Sharing Christian faith was illegal by law of The Commandment. The crime carried an even stiffer penalty than skipping a SAP injection or disabling a fleshcard.

Not that either of those things meant anything to Briar. Her body repeatedly rejected the Serum to Accelerate Progressivism, meaning she had no need for the under-the-skin device that kept track of SAP levels in the brain. Her body’s intolerance of SAP was the reason she couldn’t take a walk around the neighborhood, or drive—or do anything that made life worth living.

Buy Links:



Barnes and Noble:

Contact Links:

Website:          annakittrellauthor (

The Commandment Trailer:

Author Facebook Page:

The Commandment FB Page:

Amazon Author Page:  


P.S. — I can hardly wait to have the book arrive in my purchased book collection.


Baby Step Writing to Giant Leap with Story Notes


Wildfire Notes - Typed First Draft

Did you manage any progress on your writing yesterday?

My baby step wasn’t on my novel per se, but it involved putting words on paper. AKA writing. An upcoming contest I want to enter has a deadline of Feb. 1, and I can send several entries in different categories for one entry fee. So I took time yesterday to type a first draft from notes of a personal experience from this past summer while caretaking my elderly parents … evacuating them from a wildfire area.

Double-spaced, the piece measures nine pages long, about 2200 words. The sketchy notes I typed from were four sides in a spiral, handwritten, large loopy writing, not tight, small, condensed.

What this taught me?

Wow! A big aha moment.

Lesson learned — If I have notes, even sketchy notes, know where the story is going, and fill in more of the details as I type, I can produce more pages in a short time than I ever dreamed possible for me to accomplish.

I didn’t exactly time how long, but I know it couldn’t have been more than two or three hours tops.

Like I said earlier. Just WOW! A big aha moment for me.

Never have I produced so much writing in such a short time frame. Yes, of course, I’d written using notes before, but not in this manner, not so precisely.  I WILL try this technique again. 


What about you? Have you learned anything from taking baby steps toward your writing dream?

Please share. I’d love to hear from you.

With heart from the heartland ….



Create The Write Habit

Even though 2012 has already begun, it’s not too late to begin work to create the write habit, a writing habit.

Writing is one facet of a writer’s life, our complex lives, and as such, should be incorporated into our daily lives without a second thought. Just like bathing, combing our hair, making the bed, eating meals, and brushing our teeth.

We still have fifteen days left in January.  I’d like to challenge those writers struggling to find time for writing in their busy lives to take at least one baby step daily toward your writing dream. Make writing a daily habit. I’ve often heard that doing something for twenty-one days in a row creates a habit. Let’s work to create the writing habit as a part of our everyday lives. Start today.

City Reservoir

Today’s weather was a surprise of warmth, low seventies. So I drove to the local reservoir with a spiral notebook and pen in hand.  I spent a couple of hours with nature … and a writing friend. I wrote phrases about the environment that included the senses —
what I heard, saw, smelled, tasted, and felt (physically and emotionally).

I thought about my current work in progress, a YA novel, while doing laundry this morning and changing the sheets, mindless repetitive work, that left my mind ample opportunity to wander.  New ideas — possibilities for my story — popped into my head, so I quickly jotted them down before I forgot them. Details from a news story last night and repeated this morning stuck like magnetic filings in my mind and swirled with my story ideas, yielding ideas and situations for a sequel to the novel I’m currently working on. I jotted those notes, too, and quickly researched the topic on the Internet, copied URLs, printed xps files, and bought and downloaded a book on the topic for my e-reader.  All saved for easy access later.

Each of these actions individually comprise baby steps, but clumped together add up to more.

I dare you to accept the challenge to build a daily writing habit. <VBG>


How do you build and strengthen your writing habit?  What small step or steps are you taking that move you closer to your writing dream?

Share your techniques, your baby steps, and how you’re building your daily writing habit.  I want to know.




November Reflections

November has been a month for lots of new happenings. 

I learned many new things.  I learned how to maneuver around GoDaddy and set up my hosting account.  I took an online webpage class and learned basic HTML, how to read the code in a barebones webpage, sizing images, and a little about CSS.  I learned how to work the basics of WordPress.  I learned how to upgrade installed programs on my hosting account. 

Learning how to do these things as babysteps adds to my confidence and courage to try new things outside my comfort zone.  This also helps with writing, because an author learns these basic skills to help stretch the writing muscles, to keep the new work fresh, and to progress as a writer.

And I was on the go.  I traveled to the Arkansas Crater of Diamonds and visited the Oklahoma Runestone near Heavener.  I went to Oklahoma City and Wichita Falls, Texas.  I spent Thanksgiving with family and friends, shopped a little, watched the OU/OSU football game and parts of the Missouri/Kansas game, because it was on while I volunteered as Santa’s helper.  I toured the Christmas lights display at Ardmore, OK, where the lights are visible to motorists on I-35.

It’s so much fun to view the holiday season through the eyes of children, as if one is seeing the sights for the very first time — Christmas lights, Christmas displays, Christmas movies.  Remember those first times.  Recapture the joy, the awe, the excitement … the miracles of life and the always changing seasons. 

Give thanks for the little things, so many others have much less.  Find happiness and contentment in what you have.  Gratitude. 

Have you written today?  Think you have nothing to say or nothing to write?  Try making lists.  Select a topic.  List twenty-five items or more in five minutes or less.  How many lists can you create?


Have you always known you’d be a writer?

No.  I never had any idea I would be a writer.  I thought writers were a special breed.  I didn’t know ordinary people like myself could be a writer.  

Like many young girls, I had a locking diary — that small book with two pages per week; I think it was.  The narrow-lined paper had at most three to five lines per daily entry.  I’d write entries as soon as I received the diary — usually at Christmas — writing as small as I could to get as many words as possible in the minute space.  But by the end of January, or before, the diary would be long forgotten and misplaced.

Then when I was in sixth grade, everyday after lunch, while we worked on writing our spelling words ten times each and copying the definitions from the dictionary, my teacher would read us a chapter from a Nancy Drew mystery.  That’s when I fell in love with books.  I simply couldn’t get enough of Nancy Drew and her adventures.  I found myself so engrossed in the stories that I’d forget to do my spelling assignment.  Thank you, Mr. Engler, for introducing me to the wonderful world of books!

That summer my Mom took us to the library nearly every week.  I remember checking out nearly a dozen books each time.  I spent that summer reading and reading and reading.  By the time seventh grade started, I had an inkling to write a novel, as did my friend Karyn Cross.  I remember writing the whole first chapter, by hand, of course, and in my best handwriting.  Sometime that same year that, too, fell to the wayside.

In ninth-grade English, the teacher assigned the class to write a report about an “important” invention.  I don’t know why, but for some reason I decided to write from the viewpoint of a safety pin.  After I read my report aloud, the boy sitting across the aisle from me smirked and commented that the topic was supposed to be an “important” invention.  I remember the teacher championing me, telling the boy that for a girl, the safety pin was an “important” invention.  That teacher was the first to comment on my writing.  I believe her name was Mrs. Chastain.

I never thought about writing again for at least five years, or reading.  Then one day I decided to go to the library and check out an armload of books and began reading voraciously.  But it was another fifteen years before I ever thought about writing again.

The inner urgings grew stronger and stronger until one day I decided to put words to paper.  But by then, I’d committed to my college education.  So I assuaged the writing bug by reading about writing until I finished my Master’s degree. 

During those last few months, I heard of a local writing group.   It took a while for me to summon enough courage to attend that very first meeting, but I did.  The month following college graduation, I began writing, and within a year attended my very first writers’ conference where I met more real writers.  I joined distant groups and networked with them in monthly meetings.  Then I gathered my courage again, stepped out of my comfort zone, and entered the Internet community.

Wow!  The writing life was not so lonely anymore.  There were lots of others just like me on the writing path.  We shared common hopes, common dreams, and common disappointments, but we were also there to support each other along the way.

So that’s how I came to the writing life and began walking the writing path.  It wasn’t because I’d always known I’d be a writer.  I was led here by a Higher Creative Power filling me with irresistible inner urgings to take action.  So if I can be a writer, you can be a writer, too.  Follow your heart.


Taking Time to Write

Writers are all always constantly busy.  We’re always short on time.  We’re always struggling for writing time and lamenting that we don’t get enough.  The key is to TAKE or MAKE writing time.  Make writing a priority.  Then let life flow around writing, rather than the writing flowing around everything else in life.  Try it.  You might like it.


Granted, it’s much easier said than done.  Been there, done that.  But … what might happen if you wrote for only fifteen minutes?  How long does it take you to be absorbed into the creatuve zone?  Might you become absorbed in your story, forget about not having time, and continue longer than the originally planned fifteen minutes?  Consider giving it a try.


I sometimes use a writing prompt to get started.  Do you use writing prompts?  How do you use writing prompts?  


Can you imagine your character in a situation and wonder how the character will react to get out of that situation, or a difficult situation?  Do you explore character emotions and wonder what happened for the character to feel the emotion?  Do you wonder what might happen if your character made this decision rather than that other decision? 


What is your favorite writing prompt?  Write about your thoughts on writing prompts or about what type of writing prompt you might use to jumpstart your daily writing stint.


Take time to write today … if only for a short while.



Welcome to my new Internet home.  The current economy has prompted me to step out of my comfort zone.  To stretch my confidence and risk failure.  I’ve jumped into the World Wide Web with my first website.


Tada!  This is it.


So far I’m paddling in the deep waters with more knowledgeable and more experienced persons.  Yet I’m managing to keep my head above water.  Even if sputtering at times.  By trying and trying, again and again, I’ve finally succeeded in setting up my own hosting account and WordPress on Windows with GoDaddy.  I’m not saying it was easy, but I did it!


I think positive and tell myself I can do this.  I will succeed.


Affirmations can and will help.  I have the intelligence to decipher the oceans of help documents — one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time.


It’s all in the babysteps.  Babysteps will take me where I want to go.


I can do anything for fifteen minutes. 


Skills I’ve acquired in novel writing, I apply to other areas in life — positive thinking, affirmations, perseverance, persistence, determination.  They serve me well.


Thank you for stopping by.  Drop back whenever you can.  Observe my wanderings and wonderings, successes and failures, along the writing path — all learning experiences in life and fuel for writing.


So Many Books to Read; So Little Time to Read

Wow! There are so many good books out there to read that I find many books I want to read, but feel I have so little time to read them all. However, when I look back at what I’ve read this summer–read the past six weeks–I see that I’ve made a dent in my TBR (To Be Read) stack, rather stacks. Yes, plural. And the stacks continue to grow as I find more books I want to read. But if I don’t start, I’ll never finish. So this is where I started this summer.

I read Linda Howard’s Dream Man, Susan Andersen’s Obsessed, Heather Graham’s Ghost Walk, all adult books.

Then I signed up for the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institutes to study writing with Sharon Darrow in a workshop called “Becoming the Author: Writing for Children and Young Adults.” So I ordered and read her books–Old Thunder and Miss Raney, Through the Tempests Dark and Wild, Trash, and The Painters of Lexieville. Wow! Talk about voice! The last two, the young adult books, showed me life as I’d never really thought about it. I found the books very interesting and powerful. I’ll never think of the name Patricia the same as I did before without remembering Pert’s mother calling her Pertricia. Wonderful!

After reading those, I delved into action adventure novels and read Meredith Fletcher’s work — Double-Cross, Look-Alike, and her contributions to two anthologies Upgrade in Smokescreen and The Get-Away Girl in Femme Fatale. Really fast reads with strong characters.

Following those, I read Xxx, a novelization by Mel Odom and decided to read more of his work. So currently, I’m reading Mel Odom’s Paid in Blood. See picture above. I’m halfway through the book. It, too, is a fast read. I’m amazed at the skillful weaving of the multiple viewpoints and the individual story lines. There’s never a boring part. I love the “little” bullets of narrative info. Quick in and quick out keeps the pacing moving. And each scene’s end is a grabber. Talk about not being able to put the book down. Mel sure makes it tough on a reader … hard to put the book down to go to bed at night, but even tougher to get up the next morning if the reader stays up late reading. Reads like this sure make me want to retire from the work force so I can read all day and night.

Next on my TBR stack will be two more Mel Odom books, Angel “Image” and Snowday, a young adult novel.

For now, ready or not, I’ve got to get back to the day job of being an elementary teacher. Duty calls!


Yikes! Life’s Busy

Yikes! Life’s busy. I’ve been so busy that it’s been nearly five weeks since I posted to the blog.

During that time I’ve — rewritten parts of my novel and developed a new story for a novel, created a soothing getaway for my writing muse on my back patio – complete with fountain, swing, plants – flowering and non-flowering, bird feeder, miniature bird bath, and inanimate yard critters. In the front yard, I’ve hung pots of petunias, a bird feeder, and set up a birdbath I can view from the bench on my front porch.

I’ve also vacationed in San Antonio, Texas, at Sea World and the River Walk, where I took loads of pictures.

I’ve hosted a weekend Plotting Party for one of my RWA chapters, which was fabulous. Here we are after dinner Friday evening.

Yesterday I drove to a nearby metro area where I bought a brand new notebook computer for my birthday. I didn’t want to order off the Internet and wait nearly two weeks for it.

Now, I’m charging into my writing to add a layer that will round out my flat characters and strengthen the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine.

Have a great day! And think of your intention to write today. Focus on that intention. Then take action. Write on!


Life’s A Whirl

This week has started in a whirl.  I’m spinning, meeting myself coming and going, not to mention dog paddling with all the new experiences life brings as a writer — like blogging. 

Monday one of my best friends — Di — and I went to lunch and then spent the afternoon planning an upcoming Plotting Party for one of our writing groups.  You know who you are.  I’m excited!

Tuesday we went to lunch again — wow! lunch with a friend two days in a row — Iife doesn’t get any better than this!  Afterward we visited some of the local nurseries — garden type, planning little getaways of our own as close as our own backyard patios to pamper our writing muses.

Oh, yes!  Life does get better.  Tuesday evening my other best friend — Burna — popped to town, so we talked writing business for a while then twirled off for dinner.  From there I barely had time enough to turn around and head straight to writing critique meeting.

Today, Wednesday, starts with a couple of spins and a twirl to the local day spa for a massage.  Thursday I’ll go teach a writing friend a couple of new tricks on her computer and what I’ve learned about how to blog. Whew!  Life’s a whirl.

Life is good!  Life as a writer is also tough, I tell you.  You may not believe me, but I still have to “make” time to sit down and type or handwrite words on the page one word at a time.  Yeah, I haven’t yet learned/mastered how to type or handwrite words concurrently.  To be a writer, one must write.  So I’ll keep spinning and twirling.  Life is all about balance even if life is a whirl!  (-: