Category Archives: I’m a writer too

All I want for Christmas…

merry everything card

I’ve been told I can be *challenging* to buy for. Ahem. Friends, family, and Secret Santa coworkers  keep asking me what tangible, miscellaneous stuff I want for Christmas, but honestly, I have everything I need. I’m saving for a new camera and a vacation or two, and I have more than enough stuff. And my pat reply of “world peace and a winning lottery ticket” seems to drift further from the realm of possibility each passing day.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few real Christmas wishes…

Wish #1:  I want my son to get into the Engineering/Tech Magnet School of his dreams. The school is beyond amazing, and my bright yet easily bored son could take classes that make him salivate—coding, web & game design, Lego robotics, and so many more. The kid was so awe-struck when we toured the school I thought he’d blow like one of those baking soda and vinegar volcanoes. (They don’t do cheesy science projects like that at this school. Think rockets, forensics, and green architecture.) The place even has an official Minecraft club. Middle school is hard enough, and this school could give him what he needs to survive thrive.

He has the grades, test scores, aptitude, and desire to excel there—but none of that matters. It’s a lottery to get in. Pure. Damned. Luck. Letters will be mailed January 6th—please, oh please Santa, let us receive a “congratulations!” note.

Wish #2:  An agent would be lovely, Santa dear. I’ve been a very good girl this year. But, see, I don’t want just an agent, I want the right agent. When I first began this quest, I assumed I’d be thrilled with any NY agent who showed an interest. But now I’ve come to realize the agent hunt is a lot like online dating. I need to examine out each perspective agent’s profile, and dig deep into what she loves/loathes/makes her tick. We’re talking long-term relationship, here. We need to mesh in just the right way, to appreciate the other’s sense of humor, work ethic, and values. We need to feel comfortable communicating the good and the bad, to not be quick to judge, and to listen with an open mind. Oh yeah, and she has to get my stuff.

I found my true love years ago. I believe my agent match is out there somewhere.
::waving hand:: Here I am!

Wish #3:  Time. (Cue Culture Club or Bangles ear worm…now.) This is a gift I can partially grant myself. Wake an hour earlier each morning. Step away from the internet. I’m lucky enough to have an office with a door. I need to go in there and shut that door more often and not let myself feel guilty about the laundry or the cat puke or what’s for dinner hours from now. I must stop worrying and planning so much about WHAT IF’S and just DO IT. I can’t make time, but if I search hard enough, I can find that elusive little bugger.

Best writer's gift ever--the Gift of TIme. Thanks to the always clever Debbie Ridpath OhiThanks to the always clever Debbie Ridpath Ohi for this *perfect* gift idea. If you visit her site you can download a high-resolution version to print out and give to the writer in your life. Or just forward this idea to a loved one for a subtle hint at what you really want for Christmas and beyond.


How about you? Have any holiday wishes grand or small?

Presenting Three Minus One: Parents’ Stories of Love and Loss

I’m published. No, it’s not my women’s fiction novel…yet... I’m honored to have When Grace is Gone included in the anthology Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss.

The loss of a child is unlike any other—a devastating blow that sends out a shockwave of pain and guilt that begins with the parents and reverberates through their entire community. Yet the majority of those who suffer such a loss, especially mothers, often do so in silence, convinced that their grief is theirs to bear alone. Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss , edited by Sean Hanish and Brooke Warner, changes all that by allowing parents who have lost their children to stillbirth, miscarriage, and neonatal death speak out through raw essays, exquisite poems, beautiful paintings, and stunning photography—and break this poisonous silence one and for all.

Inspired by the film RETURN TO ZERO—the first Hollywood film to tackle the taboo subject of stillbirth—Three Minus One is a poignant, inspiring anthology that offers much-needed insight into the unique, shattering, and life-changing experience of losing a child.

In her poem “Executioner,” Heather Bell relates the difficulty of performing even the most mundane of tasks—a trip to the grocery store—after losing her baby: “And the baby is dead but / we need lettuce in the house, maybe some bread / for morning toast so I am at the store touching the potatoes at the spine, / the slim wrist of carrot,” the poem begins. In her essay “The Almost-Fives,” Abbie L. Smith tells of the nauseating envy she feels at seeing an acquaintance’s daughter—a child who was born just weeks before Smith’s son was stillborn. “They don’t know what that child does to me . . . and let’s not forget the effect of her mother, who has, for nearly five years, gone on to enjoy what I have lost,” she writes.

In his own story, meanwhile, co-editor Hanish describes how he’s tried to recall what he did in the moments after his wife called to tell him that his unborn son was gone—has tried to piece it into a coherent narrative—but hasn’t been able to. “You can’t glue the broken glass back together as it’s breaking,” he explains.

Groundbreaking and revelatory, Three Minus One is a soul-baring journey through love and loss—and a ray of hope for the many parents out there in search of answers, understanding, and healing.


While most of you may be more familiar with my wittier attempts at fiction, this is my heart laid bare…and barren.

My book arrived Thursday afternoon, minutes before I had to leave for work. I had just enough time to rip open the manilla envelope, trace my fingers across the cover, and flip to find my pages inside. I hadn’t let myself believe story had actually been selected, that I was to be included in such a powerful collection, until I actually saw my words in print.

They were there—just below my name.  Each and every raw word.

grace is gone snap

Years after my last miscarriage, the things I’d never been able to say to others, to communicate properly—the devastation, the anger, and the guilt—had poured out of me in a torrent for no particular reason that I could discern except that it was a beautiful Sunday morning and I was finally okay with my life and it was time to let it all go.

Once the words had been freed, my soul felt pounds lighter, as if the story formed a paper lantern encouraging the spirits to drift towards the heavens—gone but never forgotten.

I posted the first version of When Grace is Gone on my blog back in 2011, and later on Blog Her.  I was overwhelmed—no stunned—by the touching comments left and connection so many readers felt. I wasn’t alone. Others had been through this. Some were still mired in heartbreak. Some, like me,  had waded through the devastation and made it to shore.


I can’t “review” this book.  Ithree minus one quotet’s haunting and heartbreakingly beautiful. The amazing pieces I’ve read so far made me set down the book and dig out the tissues. But if you’ve been through loss or miscarriage, this book may be for you. If someone you know is piecing themselves back together after shattering, this book may be for them. If you want to know what your friends or loved ones endured but just couldn’t express, this may be for you.

I know how much this mean to the writers. These aren’t just stories, they are slivers of broken hearts, and the struggles to mend them.

I’d like to thank each and every contributor for allowing us a window into their soul.

May peace be with you all.

Now, buy the book, y’all.


Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss

About the movie RETURN TO ZERO:

Based on the true story from writer, director and producer Sean Hanish’s own personal experiences, Return to Zero follows the story of Maggie (Minne Driver) and Aaron (Paul Adelstein) who are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first child. Just a few weeks before their son’s due date, Maggie and Aaron receive devastating news a heartbeat is no longer detectable in the womb.
As the couple attempt to go on with their lives, they quickly discover they cannot escape their grief and their relationship is forever changed by their loss. With infidelity and separation at their heels, Maggie discovers she is pregnant again, and the two must reunite to face another turbulent and terrifying pregnancy that tests their strength and love. The film, starring Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Minnie Driver, Paul Adelstein, Alfred Molina,  and Connie Nielsen, debuts on Lifetime Saturday, May 17, at 8pm ET/PT.



Three Minus One

I’ve Entered the Fight—errr—SUBMISSION Club

A few readers have noticed that I haven’t been writing about . . . well, writing lately. Yes, life is busy (you know how long it took to make all that Minecraft Halloween/birthday stuff?) but trust me, I’ve been 95% in writing mode.

Technically, in submission mode.

Yup, I’ve tossed my baby out there. I’ve entered the Fight Club.


Wait, that still sounds like something from Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s not. I swear.

For those not in the business, once a writer has slaved over every single comma, dash, and precious word in their manuscript, they submit it to agents, who then submit it to publishers. Someday. Maybe.

A super-quick rundown of the submission process:

  1. Finish the damn book. Perfect the damn book. Love it as much as a child.
  2. Write a query letter—250 titillating words that must tempt an agent into requesting more of your work. This can take weeks months and dozens of revisions.
  3. Write the book synopsis. This means taking those 100,000 words (400 pages) you ever so carefully arranged and condense them down to 3-5 pages. You must include the entire plot, all major conflicts, characters, personality, oh, and if you can write it so it conveys the tone of your novel,  that would be great as well.   …weeks later…   Now, slash it down to a one page version, too.
  4. Carefully research literary agents. Scour writer’s forums. Winnow down the list of thousands of agents to a few hundred who actually seek your genre. Check agency websites, pour over agent blogs, Google interviews, follow twitter feeds. Make pretty, color-coded spreadsheets.
  5. Decide which agents you will query first. Decide how many you will query at a time. Study their individual submission guidelines. Yes, it’s different for every single one. Adjust your query letter, synopsis, bio, and sample chapters accordingly. Follow every single direction. If you don’t, you will be rejected. Immediately.
  6. Once you have that submission package PERFECT—you must hit SEND.  I tend to hover over the button for a half-hour, then go check everything for the tenth time. PRESS SEND. (My heart is racing just writing about this moment. For real.)
  7. Wait.
  8. Wait.
  9. Wait.
  10. Check email every 5 minutes.
  11. Wait.
  12. Wait.
  13. This waiting can go on forever. Okay, not forever, but most agents say they respond in between 4 – 12 weeks. Some respond only if interested.
  14. Wait.
  15. Deal with rejections. (Kathryn Stockett’s bestseller The Help—60 rejections. I know many writers who have kept going after hundreds. It happens to even the best of books and writers.)
  16. Wait.
  17. And then—open an email from an agent requesting more pages!!!!!  They might ask for a partial manuscript or a full (whoohoo!) or anywhere in between. Do a Snoopy Dance.
  18. Repeat steps 6 – 15.
  19. Keep going. Go back to step 5. Repeat.
  20. Achieve goal. *The goal is to acquire an agent, who will then sell your book to a publisher. This entire process can take years. That’s just how it goes. (So please stop asking me if my book will be in the bookstore by Christmas.) You have to want it. You have to be brave. You have to be slightly crazy.*

Okay, so that wasn’t so super-quick, but when you wonder if I chow on bon bons while watching HGTV all day, the answer is a resounding NO.  (::sigh:: Sometimes I DO watch HGTV. It keeps me company.)

That’s what’s going on in my world. But I can’t really blog about it.

the first rule of Submission Club

Agents are pretty smart and savvy cookies. Agents read blogs. Agents check out social media. They know their way around Google. One does not want to upset, confuse, or irritate said agents. That means querying writers must keep their mouths shut and fingers still—at least in reference to discussing/ranting about the trials and tribulations of the querying process.

In addition, other writer friends read blogs/follow us on social media, and no one likes a braggart. Or someone constantly whining about rejection.

A few stats for your reading pleasure~

Literary Agent Carly Watters kindly posted her 2012 query stats on her blog:

Queries received: Approximately 6,000

Partial manuscript requests: 189 (She looked at a lot of partials because she was building her list. Anything that she thought had potential to be a fit she requested.)

Full manuscript requests: 30

New clients from the slush pile: 7 (That’s a lot. She won’t be signing that many this coming year.)

Kristen Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency (and the fab Pub Rants Blog)  posted her astounding 2012 stats as well:

32,000+ or some big number…
estimated number of queries read and responded to. Down from last year as they closed queries in the month of December.

full manuscripts requested and read (up from 69 last year).

number of new clients

That’s 16 new people signed. Out of 32,000+. Yeah. I’m not even going to work those percentages.

Sooo, dear friends and family, there will be times when I feel like I’ve had the snot beat out me as the rejections roll in (if only it was by someone as hot as Brad Pitt), and there will be moments when I’m riding on an adrenalin high after a win (a.k.a. an agent request). I’m not showing signs of bipolar disorder. I don’t need prescription medication.

Let the nail biting begin. Wait. I don’t bite my nails. Maybe I should start. I don’t smoke. I don’t run. I eat chocolate. I do yoga sometimes. Send chocolate and yoga studio memberships, please. And wine! I’ll just be hanging out here nibbling dark chocolate and chugging sipping chardonnay while getting on my om.

yoga wine chocolate

And plotting my next book.


If you’d like to see a humorous run-down, check this out on Writer’s Relief:

The Submission Process, In Reaction GIFs

Deciding your work is ready for the world to see:









Currently. The end-of-summer edition.

 florida keys, hammock, dolphins


I’m in a very rare and tough position—I’ve started two books, and I can’t seem to get into either of them. I’ve halfheartedly read the first chapters of AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED twice. Though Khaled Hosseini’s two previous novels left me breathless with their dangerous beauty, I just can’t make the leap into this one. I’ve also picked up one of my favorite women’s fiction author’s summer release, and I seem to be reading it in a daze. I feel horribly guilty. I want to shout to the books and their authors, “It’s not you, it’s ME!” 

I have a list waiting on my kindle, but nothing is grabbing me. Between books is a dangerous time for me. Need help.

Listening to

Ear worm time!


I’ve been singing this song from Grease 2 all morning, now you can, too.

Today is Kiddo’s first day of 4th grade. {gulp} How is this possible? Although he is always up by seven, this morning I had to drag him from between the sheets—literally. I’m not ready for the end of playtime, relaxing, and pressure-free afternoons. I’m not ready to face the homework melt-downs, the drama, the tween angst. Fingers crossed this year will start better than last year. {If you want a clue what I’m talking about, check out my post THE BIGGER HE GETS, THE HARDER I FALL, now up at Kludgy Mom’s Best of the Bonfire series. And vote for me. Please?}

Thinking about

My manuscript’s next step. I’d still love some more beta readers {hint, hint} but I’m not sure how much more I can do with it. Is it ready? Is it good enough? I’m somehow desperate to start the eternally painful querying process and prepping for the requisite months (or years) of nail-biting and rejection. But I don’t think my query letter is perfect. Yes, it must be perfect. Yes, this is an impossible feat. I’m trying to convince myself to cool my heels a bit longer so I can take a Submissions that Sell online class. Patience, right?


Game of Thrones (season 1). I cannot read epic fantasy, but the hubby is in love with acclaimed series. Since a fanatical fantasy lover and fellow book nerd assured me that this TV series is actually almost as good as the books, I’ve been watching, immersing myself in this mythical world. Season 1 has proved that there’s no way I could have read the immense tombs, but I still love a great fantasy movie or TV series. Season 2 DVDs are already waiting by the TV.

At least now I get all the GOT & George R.R. Martin memes going around.

Bummed out on

My eyes. To celebrate my latest birthday, I bought my first pair of reading glasses. Granted, they are weak ones from the dollar store, but I own my first pair of glasses. I feel old. My days are spent immersed in words—on paper, my kindle, or the computer screen—and when they are blurry, my life seems unclear. Night driving and overall brightness have also bothered me lately, and I know I must get my vision checked out. I’m not sure if I’m embarrassed or proud to admit I’ve never had my eyes examined as an adult. Probably the former. Promise not to laugh if I’m caught wearing big honking frames in a few days.


My end-of summer memories. We took our first vacation in AGES. Though hubby has lived in Florida since he was a toddler, he’d never made it down to the Keys. Thanks to some amazing friends (with a timeshare—the BEST kind of friends to have) we spent four nights in paradise. By day we explored pristine beaches, meandered through a sweltering Key West, and glided through turquoise waters. We rented a boat and everyone (even the five-year-old) snorkeled along a shallow coral reef. We surprised a sea turtle, watched a hammerhead chase a stingray in the shallows (I was in the water on the other side of a tiny shoal), and delighted as a pod of curious dolphins surrounded our boat.

Dreamy days followed by stunning tropical sunsets and wonderful company. Perfect.

marathon sunset boat

How’s your summer finishing up?

Should Authors Write Book Reviews or Stick with Book Promotion?

Last week, Kirsten Lamb (leader of the #WANA Writer’s Tribe and author of  #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer) stirred up some controversy in the writer-sphere. Her blog, a wealth of writerly words of wisdom, is one of the first I read daily (and if your a writer, you should read it, too). Like most of her readers, I’m an aspiring novelist, and her post made me wonder if by posting book reviews I’ve written myself into a corner.

 The Three NEVERs of Social Media (for writers) via Kristen Lamb

1. Never be nasty in a blog comment.  Agree. Unless the blogger is an ass-hat writing about raping and pillaging as a hobby or something else ridiculously offensive.

2. Never be nasty on twitter. Yes. Though I’d never intentionally be nasty to another tweeter, I should cut down my snarky commentaries about celebs and politicians (unless they fall into the “fair game” category). Maybe even then.

3. Never write a bad book review.  Yeah, but…  What constitutes a “bad” review?

“This doesn’t apply to book bloggers and book reviewers. That’s your job and we love that you give us guidance on what to read. But, as authors? I believe in what Candace Havens calls Writer Karma. If I can’t give a book a five-star rave review? I just don’t review it. Again, publishing is a small world and we all need each other. The world is already out to throw us under a bus. We need each other to keep from turning into cutters.”

What if someone is a book blogger AND an aspiring author? 

How many books truly worthy of a five-star review are out there? Reviewers seem to base their star ratings on a sliding scale. Some dole out stars like cheap Halloween candy, whereas I hoard my fives. In my imagined ratings scale, a three-star is book good, not amazing, but decent read if you happen upon it. A four-star is excellent, a book I recommend. A five-star is blow-me-out-of-my-chair, go buy this in hardback NOW, then pass it along to all of your friends and family.

I read many good books, even more excellent novels I’d wholeheartedly recommend for others read, but very few works that take my breath away.

So, should I only review those few? Are my expectations too high?  Should I revise my ratings scale? Or is that shifting from a review to book promotion? 

On my blog, I refuse to give star ratings. I prefer to discuss what I loved about the book. By highlighting the positives—the way the author wove subplots, developed character, or uniquely captured ideas that resonate— potential readers can decide if this book is for them. Most books I review are character, not plot driven, and sometimes I explain what drove me nuts about a particular character. But nicely. Subjectively. It’s just my opinion. And infuriating characters are often a part of a damn good (four or five-star) novel. Anyone who’s a member of a book club knows how amazing books often open our minds to different ideas and occasionally heated debate. Passion leaves an impression.

In the comments of Kristen’s follow-up post Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews many commentators discussed correcting grammar and critiquing technical issues “so the author could learn from their mistakes.”  Whoa. Stop the presses. Publishing critiques?

A BOOK REVIEW and a BOOK CRITIQUE are not synonymous.

A CRITIQUE should be done before a book is published, in private, so the author may find issues within a manuscript before publication. Here’s where one can point out homophones and misplaces commas, plot holes or factual errors. It can also be used in the classroom (and many English Lit majors spent years dissecting everything from Shakespeare to Shel Silverstein). Trust me. My work in progress is in the process of being critiqued shredded so I can piece it back together. I invite knowledgeable readers/writers to constructively dissect it so it can improve. Without claws and in private, please.

Reading through her post’s comments I was shocked how many writer/readers have sent emails to authors gigging them on grammar. I could never EVER imagine sending an author a note of criticism, constructive or not, about what I disliked about their published work. Some authors wrote how this skewed their heart. Others said they appreciated the constructive criticism.

A BOOK REVIEW is an impartial commentary, written so that others can decide if they would like to read the book. Reviews should be written from a reader’s POV, not a writer’s. It should be helpful, mentioning a plot summary and character sketches. It should discuss setting, themes, readability, and memorable scenes. It should explain who the book would appeal to and why. It can discuss issues that might have rubbed the reviewer the wrong way. But it should be cruelty-free.

And it should be honest. If a reviewer gushes about every single book, their credibility evaporates.


Some book blogs and reviewers primarily promote books. Now, in today’s world where authors (even traditionally published) are often responsible for 100% of their own book promotion, they NEED people to write about their books. If no one is reviewing them, posting about them, or singing their praises over their social media networks, no one will know their baby is “out there” in the seemingly infinite book market. But a book promotion post is often not a review—it may be a summary, book blurbs, author Q&A, or funny antidote. Many times, the blogger may not have even read the book. And it’s overwhelmingly positive. That’s all good, so long as readers understand it for what it is.

Again, authors desperately need straight book promotion. And they need reviews, good reviews, with at least four to five stars to get anywhere with Amazon’s ever-fluctuating algorithms. Reviews help sell books. Writer’s need to eat.

And maybe, in this touchy world of book reviews, Kristen is suggesting authors (published & non-published) become more promoters than reviewers?  Writers have vast and enduring memories. Friends can be hard to come by, and enemies hard to shake. So why make any? We’re all in this together, right?

Then there’s the whole issue with karma…

Kristen spurned so much discussion with these posts, she kept the dialog open with a third installment, Is It FAIR for Authors to Review Other Authors? Do We Ruin the Magic?  If you’re a writer or a book reviewer, these posts and their comments (each as over a hundred) will get you thinking. Even though I didn’t agree with the whole “Only Five-Star” bit in the first of the series, I loved the dialog these posts stirred up.

I won’t be writing any more negative reviews. (I think I’ve only written one, as I had to express my disbelief about the Fifty Shades phenomena. Oh wait—I didn’t care for Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy either. Both authors made enough moula that I don’t believe my rant hurt their sales much.)  I’ve received many books from publishers which I’ve declined to review. If I couldn’t say anything nice, I chose to say nothing at all.  But I think I must review more than just the lofty five-star works. There are too many authors out there who deserve praise and publicity … and hopefully a few more sales.

What do you want to learn from a book review?

Should authors review books?

Do you write reviews or base you book buying on reviews? 

photo credit: orangeacid via photopin cc

Launching from the Depths

If anyone is still out there…I’m still here.

 I haven’t been posting much lately. My brain has been fried nightly grading standardized student MATH exams. Did I mention I hate math. Grading 500 4-part algebra/trig/geometry problems an hour has been penance for every wrong I’ve ever committed or considered. The quality of work truly made me fear for the students of this generation. No, I cannot reveal which state’s horrible exam I graded, but if your kid is in summer school or flunked a grade becasue of me, I’m sorry.

Wait. I’m not at all sorry. If I marked it wrong, it was WRONG and the kid needs to learn. Ack, the guilt.

But it was a temporary paycheck. 

And lately, I’ve been in dire need of some cashflow. Would you believe that being an unpublished aspiring novelist doesn’t pay well?

Recently I’ve felt as if the Fates have been messing with me. Everything is breaking down. Dear family friends passed away. The car brain (and several other cranky parts) fizzled out. Our main a/c broke again and must be replaced. The kiddo’s tween hormones and attitude kicked in. So it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise that my blood pressure spiked higher than an obese senior’s with a 50-year smoking habit, right? Even though I’m thin. I eat my veggies. I do yoga for cripes sake.

Too much.

So I set my writing and blogging aside in a sudden reprioritizing of my life. I ignored social media, my immense list of unread blog posts, and my floundering manuscript.

Well, after I tidied that manuscript up for a contest.

The contest’s word limit was a scant 4,500. My first two chapters weighed in at about 7,500. Crap. I whittled and slashed and sometimes squeezed my eyes shut as I hit delete repeteadly. But I nitpiked that sucker down. 

Then I discovered the place in hell they save for those crafting that nasty little Two Page Synopsis. (For those not in the industry, imagine condensing a 100k novel into 450 words including all relevant characters, plot, subplots, tone, voice, everything.)

While the pictures in my office to get me in the mood all look like this:

I may as well have been staring at this:

Christ In Limbo by Hieronymus Bosch, 1575. Image:


But I did it. I submitted my chopped 4,500 first chapters and my synopsis. (Which never would have made any sense without the brilliant guidance of my critique partner–thank you!!)


I won.

Someone besides me (after a few glasses of wine) thinks my manuscript is not total crap.

Sometimes that’s all a girl needs to get back in the game. 

{If you happen to follow this link you’ll find the first duly edited version of my entry. Edited once because, as stated before, I hacked the hell out of my first two chapters to fit it into the wordcount. And twice because it’s a Christian affiliated website, and my characters tend to swear. So no, my Ivy doesn’t say “Cuss” — some situations call for the f-bomb.} 

10 thing to do today besides work on my query letter

 photo Banging-head-on-desk.gif

1. Practice drawing the perfect heart across my draft with a red pen. Switch to blue pen. Draw stars instead.

2. Search for a ‘real’ job because there is no way I’m ever going to sell this book. Build frustration level—I’m not even qualified to be a lingerie maid or sign spinner.

3. Contemplate a bike ride. Obsessively check the radar and decide the possiblility of a shower makes this a bad idea. Decide it takes too much effort to pump up my bike tires anyway.

4. Clean out every closet in the house. Oh, crap — did that last week.  Kitchen cupbords?

5. Stalk agents on Twitter.

6. Ooohh, maybe I should bake something. For my family. There should be thousands of ideas on Pinterest…

7. Organize my notes from my first writer’s conference last weekend. Search for all the speakers on Twitter. And Facecbook. Hell, maybe they’re on Pinterest and have a great cookie recipe listed. Check.

8. Nap. Working this night temp job is killing me. I’ll feel refreshed and ready to write after a nap.

9. Check the garden. Maybe another tomato ripened since earlier this morning. I’ll bet my zucchini has grown a tenth of an inch already. I should investigate.

10. Reread every blog post related to writing queries. Imagine Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, and Jane Friedman are my BFFs. Lurk through hopeless writers forums for snippets of wisdom and success stories. Disconnect internet and stare at blank page.


Now What—>Writing Goals

You know you’re a WRITER when you can’t leave the house without a notebook.
You know you’re a BLOGGER when you must take a photo to prove it.

I’ve neglected my writing, pushing my dreams and ambitions aside as I dealt with my paralyzing fear of failing and the messiness of my everyday life. So many (imaginary) roadblocks kept going up before me: back to school, conferences, surgeries, illness. I’ll get back to it after . . . it’s after. Now what?

Pin It

I will rebuild my optimism muscle. I finished my $hitty first draft TEN months ago, yet I’m still floundering. Because I allow myself to flounder, I don’t hold myself accountable, I give in to my doubts.  As Carleen Brice wrote on Writer Unboxed, “The stronger my optimism muscle gets, the more I write, and the stronger I become as a writer.” Rehab can strengthen even the most weakened parts of us. While my hubby rehabs his knee, I will rehab my optimism. I can do this.

I will still the voices in my head and burst the unsaid speech bubbles hovering over my doubting friends and family. I will banish the “You’re STILL not done?” The “but you don’t have a real job—what do you do all day?” The “if you were any good you would be finished/agented/published/rich and famous already”. 

Pin It

“Find what it is you are meant to do and what you are deeply passionate about, and allow that to flow through you. Don’t resist or fight it. You know you are in your sweet spot when whatever you’re doing gives you energy instead of depleting it.”

~Oprah Winfrey

I will hit that sweet spot more frequently. I’m at my best after I’ve completed a scene that flows like a Class VI rapid. The story pulls me along in its current, makes my heart race, my stomach lurch with anticipation, and joyful laughter break free. I spend hours smiling afterwards—hours!—and I laugh, gasp, or shed a tear each time I reread that piece of work. I’ve brought words to life, and I feel blissfully alive. That’s my sweet spot.

I will learn to live more in the moment, but make most of the moments I dedicate to my craft. Far too often I waste time worrying, planning, overcompensating for my doubts instead of appreciating the joys, the LIFE going on around me. I must dive in and play the water, savor the glass of wine, tickle my son until he bursts, LIVE. And when it’s time to work GET IT DONE.

I will organize and find balance between writing, blogging, and social media.  My recent experience at my first blogging conference flooded me with almost too much information, too many ideas. I can’t do it all. I must prioritize, organize, and be efficient. The notion of “be everywhere, do everything” doesn’t work for all of us, especially when we should be buried deep in our writing cave. Set times for social media and blogging (with a timer if necessary).  Block it during writing time. Schedule tweets, blog posts, and Facebook updates.  Write a blog post in an hour, not half a day. Be efficient.

I will make use of every moment. Too often I make excuses: I only have an hour until my son comes home, until dinner, until an appointment—not enough time to immerse myself into my manuscript. Books are written in these stolen moments. Just do it. I will learn to make better use of my early morning and evening time.

 I will make time for creativity and daydreams (as they are the things books are made of) but I will put my fingers to the keyboard and type.

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I will finish my edits and rewrites. I will have my manuscript ready for querying by the New Year. Just over a year ago I wrote my November Manifesto proclaiming I would finish my first draft by the end of the month. I finished ten days later. It’s all about the goals. I will get this shit done.

**Sorry WOE: I totally forgot about my 300 word limit until I went to link up. The first 300 can be JustBeEough’s. The second half is all yours.


BlogHer & RWAs ~ both, either, neither?

If somehow you missed bumping into a shy redhead at BlogHer this year in New York City — well, that’s because I wasn’t there.

Somehow, I also missed the Romance Writers of America Conference (RWAs) in Anaheim. 

With all the gorgeous pics of beautiful (inside and out) writers and  bloggers having a blast, I felt like I needed a pic up too. This photo isn’t beautiful, and it’s from 2010, but I was at the RWAs. Though I didn’t attend the full conference, I did get to meet some of my favorite writers — Jane Porter, Mary Kay Andrews, Meg Cabot, Nora Roberts {though I can’t read her books. . .shhh!} You can read about my experience here.   As I mingled and wandered amongst hundreds of published authors I vowed I would attend the full conference soon. Apparently, just not this year.

Instead, this is how I spent that weekend. Somehow someone (I shall not name names) left the water on while working on our master bedroom shower. Water permeated the drywall and flooded under half the bedroom suite’s floor. Which I installed two years ago. By hand. After the plumbers and drying crew left, I spent the weekend ripping up my floor (while some kind volunteers ripped out the vanity) and redoing the whole damn thing. I lost my ability to write for two weeks as the only words I conjured were far too vulgar to put in print (and certainly not original).

And while I would have LOVED to have loaded my arms with goodie bags, hobnobbed with celebs, and met about 5,000 of my best blog friends IRL last weekend (not to mention learning so damn much about blogging my head would’ve probably exploded — that must be why they all hit the parties afterwards). . .

I  wish I was going to BlogHer '12 

I chose not to steal any of the thousands of images of my 
wannabe friends living it up and bonding in the Big Apple 
(because that’s just not how I roll).

. . . Instead I nursed my poor kiddo through his third oral surgery. {I refuse to post an actual picture of his mouth. I can’t look at it for more than a few seconds, and if I released the image into the blogosphere he’d probably sue me when he turned of age. Look at this model. It’s much prettier.}

I totally stole this image from an orthodontics website. 
If you want to see the myriad of medieval torture devices that may be in your kids’ futures, click here.

Yes, those are exposed teeth way below the gum-line attached to braces by dangling gold chains. My kid will be sporting some REAL mouth bling at back-to-school time (unlike fake-out Ryan Lochte — dude, I totally do not get it).

When I calmed down and forced myself to think about which event I regretted missing the most, I realized it was the RWAs. Don’t get me wrong, I’d nearly give my left breast to go to BlogHer, but I’ve realized I will never make my living as a professional blogger. Free wine, books, and toothbrushes — heck yeah — but I won’t be funding kiddo’s college fund with my blogging proceeds.

But it’s not just about the money. (Although making some money someday from my writing would be the cat’s pajamas.) It’s about my passion for writing, my need to give life to my stories, and my goal of publishing my freaking novel. To reach these goals and live the life I dream about, I must hone my craft and mingle with other writers. I’m dying to hear about their struggles and  successes, to soak up every blurb of advice they may offer. I need to familiarize myself with the dirty details of the publishing industry if I ever want to find an agent or sell a book. I need pay my RWA membership so I can feel like a real writer who deserves to be there.

So while I’d still LOVE to see the bloggers, writers, humorists, and culinary divas I read each day and feel as if I already know at BlogHer 13  . . .

My goal is set: I will attend RWAs next year in Atlanta. Time to start saving, keep writing, finish editing, and kick my life into gear.

Romance Writers of America®
33rd Annual Conference
Atlanta Marriott® Marquis
Atlanta, Georgia
July 17-21, 2013

Join more than 2,100 published and aspiring romance writers, editors, agents, and other industry professionals in Atlanta, GA. Conference attendees will enhance their writing and knowledge of the ins and outs of publishing at more than 100 workshops; get the inside track at panels and round-tables featuring publishing professionals; schedule a one-on-one pitch meeting with an acquiring editor or literary agent; attend parties and network with the stars of romance fiction; and be a part of RWA’s “Readers for Life” charity book signing. And let’s not forget the 2013 RITA®  and Golden Heart® Awards.
Registration for RWA2013 will open in late January 2013.

Who’s coming with me?
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Be gentle, it’s my first time

 I sent off the first chapters of my manuscript for critique last week. Old friends and fellow writers held my temperamental, sometimes ugly baby at their mercy. To critique. To read. To shred into 90,000 rough pieces.

Except for the few brief snippets I’ve posted here, no one had read any of it yet. Not even my Hubby. {To be fair, I know he’d just say, “It’s great.” Though the sentiment may keep me from going all medieval, it isn’t particularly helpful in developing the work.}

Now they have.

Three different people with three vastly different opinions.  No one told me to toss it into the grill and use it for fuel for my 4th of July barbeque. Not one said I should wipe it from my hard drive and fill the memory space with ALF reruns instead.

But I have quite a bit of work to do to whip these words into shape.  I’ll be hiding in the depths of my manuscript for a while if you need to find me.


Blogger/Writer Tip:

Thanks to the helpful and generous writers at Writer Unboxed I’ve discovered an amazing tool for all bloggers and writers: Paste in your text (it seems to handle at least a couple thousand words in one bite) and it spits out a list of issues you may want to check.

The program highlights all of these issues in your text enabling you check them, change them, or curse yourself for having so many sentences that end in a preposition.  Though it cannot totally replace a thorough proofread, it certainly helps to pick out things your eyes may glaze over.  And it’s free. Check it out.