Monday, February 2, 2015

On failing #nanowrimo

I've had a couple months to think about this now so here goes...

This is the untold story. The one no one talks about. All through October, it's nothing but "Didn't such and such published author write XXX during nano?" It's all sunshine and rainbows until November ninth rolls around and many people lose steam and try to forget their infant novel was ever conceived.

This was my fifth year doing Nanowrimo and the first year I failed (meaning I didn't reach the 50,000-word mark). I actually only made it to word number 10,463. EPIC #FAIL. Or was it? These are the reasons I failed and I'm totally ok with it:

1. I love my 10,463 words
I adore my characters, I love where my story is heading and nano gave me the jumpstart I needed to get the ball rolling. I have over 10,000 words I didn't have before. So there!

2. I wasn't done plotting
Let's face it, part of the reason I stopped is because my outline wasn't complete. I need direction before I can get more words on the page or my story will be shot and possibly unrepairable. I'm not really into writing words just to write them. I need to know where I'm going.

3. I had a 2-month-old baby
This sounds like an excuse, but it's more of just a reality check. Having a newborn makes time management tough. My daughter needed me to bond more than I needed to write a book. She'll never be 2 months old again and I have no regrets.

Basically, I might have failed at Nanowrimo, but I'm not a failure. I didn't just slack off. The timing wasn't right this year. If it wasn't your year either, it's ok. It really is. It wasn't as if I didn't accomplish anything. I wrote some words, got inspired and I'll be back when I'm ready. And I'm 100% ok with that.

Did you ever try and fail Nanowrimo?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Ever curious about how other writers come up with their masterpieces? My favorite quotation on that topic is:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
― W. Somerset Maugham

So true! Everyone I've met has a different method—and that's a-ok. For this blog tour, I answered four questions about my individual process...

1. What am I working on? 
Right now I’m revising a Young Adult contemporary romantic comedy. I’m also plotting a contemporary New Adult novel that I hope to write during Nanowrimo this fall, which is loosely based on His Girl Friday, a screwball comedy from the 1940s.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
Contemporary works seem to be really popular right now. My work is different in that it has a screwball element not common to contemporary YA romances. Farcical situations, mistaken identities and Shakespearean-inspired situations are all fair game!

3. Why do you write what you do? 
I’ve tried writing many genres, but I feel like YA contemporary romantic comedy fits me the best. I think what writers read a lot of tends to influence the output. In other words, “you are what you read.” I’ve always loved Shakespeare and P.G. Wodehouse, which are big influences in my genre. Some of my favorite films, such as Only You, Addicted to Love and Bringing Up Baby share this element as well. Plus, I read a lot of YA. Basically, I had no choice!

4. How does my writing process work? 
In mysterious ways! I don’t feel like I’m totally in control of my process. Characters seem to name themselves, for example. I’m neither a plotter or a pantster. Basically, I write a very long skeleton draft that could include dialogue and full scenes, yet is sparse in other places. I use this draft as a road map to write the real draft.

A huge thank you to Matt Wilbur who invited me to be a part of this tour! You can visit his blog at: Compare and contrast the different methods and follow the wormhole through this tour to other writer's blogs.

This is the part where I was supposed to pass the baton to three other writers. Unfortunately, everyone I asked had already done this or was too booked to participate. But if you want to join in, go for it! Or comment! I'd love to hear how other writers tick.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blogging hiatus & other news

So the reason I haven't been blogging is...


I've been puking! Yay!

In other words, I'm PREGNANT. Due September 10. I've had terrible morning sickness, but I'm coming out of it and I'm energized and ready to pick up my favorite manuscript and start some deep revisions. Which will probably take me a year, but that's ok. This industry is slow, right? I already fit in.

Where am I getting all this new inspiration? I attended the Big Sur Writing Workshop this past weekend. I highly recommend it. I went in trying to figure out which manuscript I should focus on and came out confident in which one has the most potential.

If you've never heard of the conference, I highly suggest you consider it. It is run by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and is typically held twice a year. Writers get to bounce their first pages off agents, published authors and editors. It is a great place to find critique partners and learn about the publishing industry. Very helpful! Most of the info is on their site, but email me if you want the scoop from a writer's perspective.

So, without further ado, I give you my birth announcement (my 7-year old son's vlog).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Nanowrimo prepping

It's that season again! Time to prep for one of my favorite months of the year...November and Nanowrimo. This will be my fourth year participating. Part of the annual ritual is the preparation time. Here's what I'm doing to gear up...

1. Setting up my desk area
As you can see, my new desk is right next to my bed, which should make it easier to roll out and write at 5:30 a.m. every day. I will need to get my electric blanket handy because it's freezing that early in the morning here right now.

2. Creating a playlist
Music is essential for motivation throughout the process. I like to set up a list of new songs to help me get a fresh start. Here's what I've got on tap so far:

2013 Nanowrimo Playlist >>

3. Scammed my husband into cleaning my laptop screen
It was gross...and now it's not! Yay for husband. He hates Nanowrimo and November, but he did his part by cleaning the screen. That will be the end of his contribution. Oh well.

4. Purchased tea!
Caffeine is essential. I stocked up on English Breakfast from Taylors of Harrogate.

I'm doing a complete rewrite of my Nanowrimo from 2011 so the plot is pretty much there. Otherwise, I would be doing a lot of plotting right now too.

Here's my profile if you want to be my buddy:

So...what am I forgetting? What are you doing to prepare for November 1?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

WriteOnCon at your own pace

If you were working full time/on vacation/forgot and didn't attend WriteOnCon this week and now you're feeling like you missed out, DON'T. The beautiful thing about WriteOnCon is not all the benefits require real-time attendance.

If you missed it, why not experience the content at your own pace? (Don't know what I'm talking about? Click here.)

Google+ Hangouts
This year, WriteOnCon had several Google Hangout sessions with agents and editors critiquing queries, pitches and first pages. While you can no longer submit your content for possible critique, as soon as the Google Hangout is over, it becomes a full YouTube video. You can watch the entire presentation from the beginning, pause it--and even fast forward if need be. Check them out:

Twitter Pitches with Literary Agents Danielle Smith and Tamar Rydzinski 
This video is split into two halves:
  • Danielle Smith is looking for picture books, chapter books & middle grade
  • Tamar Rydzinski is looking for almost anything except paranormal and holocaust
Twitter Pitches with Literary Agents Mackenzie Brady and Duvall Osteen
Both agents are looking for YA, specifically: realistic (contemporary), mystery/thriller, issue-driven and non-fiction

Twitter Pitches with Literary Agents Suzie Townsend and Kathleen Ortiz
They are looking for anything from middle grade to new adult.

Twitter Pitches with Spencer Hill Press editors Danielle Ellison and Patricia Riley
These editors want YA, anything realistic (contemporary) and/or speculative fiction.

First Page Feedback with Literary Agent Marietta Zacker
This agent is all things kids lit!

The best thing about these sessions is that you can get a an idea of individual agent tastes. If you have one of these agents on your query list, you'll want to listen in, real time or not!

Live chats
There were also some live chats with agents and editors that you can replay and read at your own pace. Just click on the links and scroll.

Live Chat with Editors Andrew Harwell, Sarah Dotts Barley and Agent Lindsay Ribar

Live Chat with Agents Sarah la Polla, Katie Grimm, Brooks Sherman and Victoria Marini

This is just the beginning of the content available. View all content here for the 2013 WriteOnCon. You can also dip into the archives for previous years: 2012, 2011, 2010. Just keep in mind that information about trends may be dated.

Tip! If you missed out on your chance to ask an agent a question, keep an eye out for agents using the #askagent hashtag on Twitter. This goes on all year round!

The forums
The forums are definitely the most important part of the real-time WriteOnCon experience. You can post your query, first 250 words and first five pages and gain peer critiques. If you missed it, browse through the forums and read the comments left by ninja agents (literary agents who went under cover and made comments/made MS requests). And be sure to participate next year, since you can post whenever you have time and don't necessarily have to be active during the day if you have other obligations.

Tip! If you need help with your query, you may also try submitting to Query Shark

So that's it! Don't miss out on this great content. Take it in at your own pace. All the Google Hangout videos above can also be found on my YouTube playlist, YouTube Writing Resources.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sunshine Awards!

Sunshine Award
I was so honored to be nominated for a Sunshine Award by the one and only Tina Moss. I met Tina at #writersroad chat and she is awesome, awesome, awesome! She's a very talented writer, gives great advice and...well...just look at her ninja pic on her recent post...epic!

Check out Tina's blog here, and follow her on Twitter: @Tina_Moss


When you receive an award, you are asked to do a few things...

  1. Post the Sunshine Award logo you see at the top.
  2. Accept the nomination and link back to the nominator.
  3. Answer the questions below.
  4. Nominate 10 other blogs and inform them of the nomination.

  1. My favorite color: Orange
  2. My favorite animal: Hands down, no question, baby elephants.
  3. My favorite number: 5. It's simple, vital, yet odd. 
  4. My favorite non-alcoholic beverage: Green tea
  5. My favorite alcoholic beverage: I've never had one! I know, I'm a weirdo.
  6. Facebook or Twitter: I've heard it said that Facebook is for interacting with your friends and Twitter is for interacting with the people who should be your friends. So true. Twitter!
  7. My passions: Reading, writing, and clearly, teetotaling.
  8. Giving or receiving: Giving! I don't like being the center of attention. 
  9. My favorite city: Savannah, Georgia. The most aesthetically pleasing city I've ever visited! Check out those live oak trees in the picture below of Forsyth Park. They look like they are reaching out to grab my son.
Forsyth Park

10. My favorite TV shows: At the moment? Heart of Dixie! I've also been known to obsess over Vampire Diaries, Dexter, any singing competition show and HGTV.

Now it's my turn to nominate some writing buddies for the Sunshine Award! I'm proud to nominate the following peeps. I encourage all y'all to follow the following:

  1. Renee DeAngelo (@reneedeangelo4)
  2. Lorna Suzuki (@LornaSuzuki)
  3. Beth Hull (@tbethhull)
  4. Poppy Williams (@mspoppy)
  5. Jaime Morrow (@MorrowJaime)
  6. LK Gardner-Griffie (@lkgg)
  7. Elodie (@commutinggirl)
  8. Ami Hendrickson (@MuseInks)
  9. Alex Brown (@gravity_fail09)
  10. Jamie Grey (@Jamie_Grey)
Want to participate in the Sunshine Awards? Feel free to grab the pic and start your own round.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Geek Girl's Guide to Jane Austen

A Geek Girl's Guide to Jane Austen

In 2009, I spent the year listening to classical music and reading nothing but Jane Austen. I was obsessed! And I didn't just read Austen novels; I geeked out on everything Austen or Austen related. Since that time, Jane Austen's stories have gotten more and more popular. The fact that we can relate to her work even today speaks to the timeless nature of her storytelling. So without further ado, the geek girl's guide to everything Jane Austen!


Read the novel
I've read Persuasion nine times. It's my favorite Jane Austen's novel, and I feel the most overlooked. It's all about second chances, following your heart and forgiveness.
Read Persuasion free on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out
  • Retelling: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
    This is a young adult sci-fi retelling of Persuasion. Does it get better than that? I haven't read it yet, but I've heard great things.

Read the novel
Perhaps the most popular and iconic of Jane Austen's novels, this novel was once titled First Impressions. The main characters, Darcy and Elizabeth both must overcome their pride and rethink their prejudice in order to find love. Read Pride and Prejudice free on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out
There are countless ways to geek out on P&P, so I'm only going to list my faves. 
  • Comic book: What? I just found this. What? Awesome.
My eat-sleep-austen mug!

Read the novel
This is one of Austen's earlier novels and I think it kind of shows. It's not my favorite, but the villains carry this book. They are so manipulative! Read Northanger Abbey free on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out

Gothic novels: Ok, this is when my true geek nature really comes out. To get a full understanding of Northanger Abbey, it helps to read gothic novels from the times (the characters in the book are engrossed with them). I really like the idea of reading the book the characters are reading. If you want to read along with the characters in this Austen classic, check out The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe.


Read the novel
I found Emma to be the most fun and lighthearted of all Austen's novels. Matchmaking goes wrong and I found myself laughing out loud several times.
Read Emma for free on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out
  • Gothic novel: One of the characters in this book, Harriet Smith, recommends a book to her suitor. But it's a real book so you can read it too. If you want to try, check out The Romance of the Forest, by Ann Radcliffe.

Read the novel
This is my least favorite Austen novel. It's dark and the main character's situation is so dire and depressing. Even when it ended, I wasn't happy. BUT...plenty of people feel differently so don't take my word for it. Read Mansfield Park on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out
I personally didn't geek out that much on this book since I didn't love it. But, here's some options.
  • Film adaptations: I watched two film versions, from 2007 & 1999. Both were ok.
  • The play: Some of the characters in the book perform the play Lovers' Vows. I might be worth tracking down. It was a controversial play in the book and it would be interesting to see why.

Read the novel
Jane Austen died before completing this novel, but that doesn't mean it didn't leave its mark. Hypochondriacs in a small beach town are hard to forget!

Geek out
  • Completion stories: An unfinished novel is like a choose your own adventure novel. I love reading these completion stories just to see how different they are:

    Sanditon: Jane Austen's Last Novel Completed
    This is my favorite completion. I've actually read it several times and highly recommend it!

    Jane Austen's Charlotte
    This is terrible! But I still enjoyed reading another version.

    That's all I've read so far, but there are several others detailed here.
  • Welcome to Sanditon: The next YouTube series by the makers of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries will be based on Sanditon and some of the storyline to be crowd sourced! (May 2013)

Read the novel

I can't believe I almost forgot tel. I even named my husband's car Willoughby! Read Sense and Sensibility on Project Gutenberg >

Geek out

The musical: The 1995 film is great, of course, but did you know there's now a musical? Yes, that's right and it's playing in my city! I'm sure if it's good, it will start making the rounds.


This is definitely not the extend of my geekery, but this post can only be so long. Here's the best of the rest...

The Jane Austen Fight Club
This does not get old. May be the best video ever!

Lady Susan
This is my favorite of Austen's lesser works. It's a story told in the form of letters. Lady Susan is a recent widow scheming for husbands for herself and her daughter.

The Letters
I'm not huge on biographies, so I haven't read one, but I did get into Austen's letters briefly. If you watch the film, Becoming Jane (I have mixed feelings about it), there are some allusions to the fact that there may be some semi-autobiographical aspects to her stories. Also, they're free for perusal on Project Gutenberg!

And that's it! Intense, right? Do you have anything to add to my geek list?