Monday, December 22, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa...whatever the hell you celebrate, make it a good one!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Just say YES!

There is an emotional upheaval that happens when you receive a list of edits from your Beta Reader/Agent/Editor.

First Reaction: No, no way. What is she thinking? I can't make these changes. That will alter the ENTIRE story. Does she even get me and my work? No, just no.

Then you walk away.

And you do something else for a few days. Bake cookies, ride a bike, watch a movie, have game night with friends...anything but writing. And while you're playing Scrabble, those editorial suggestions are brewing in your head. You're pulling apart the pieces of your story, updating names, changing settings and you're seeing how you CAN turn your contemporary romance into an historical romance and write it from your secondary character's POV. Because making edits is problem solving. And my favorite part about writing is solving problems.

So I end up making the changes, and for the most part, when I'm done, I love my manuscript 100 times more. I know this for a fact. So I'd like to say I've found a way to eliminate the grumbling, complaining, swearing phase out of the editing process, but I haven't. I still need that. But what I have done is left myself open to, "yes."

You want me to take the sci-fi element out of my thriller? Sure!
I should cut the love triangle? Why not?
You want me to write this in third person? You know, I was thinking about doing that myself.

No matter what the change is I say, "Yes." Because at least then I'll try it. Sometimes I'll rewrite a few pages in third person and see right away that it isn't working. But I wouldn't have known that if I'd said, "No," right away. I can always go back to the original if I don't like something. That's why everyone uses that annoying track changes feature.

For a writing exercise, give it a shot. Take the most eye-roll inducing, annoying suggestion you've ever gotten on a manuscript and make it. Even if it turns out terribly, it could be good for a laugh.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bad Surprises

Lately, I've been reading a lot of YA mysteries, and I've been finding them to be a little unsettling. The big reveals are coming across like a train wreck in the middle of the ocean. Yes, I know you want to surprise your readers, but you also don't want to subject them to an alien invasion in the middle of a historical romance. (Unless you've touted your novel as historical science fiction, which would be really cool.)

Let me try to explain using the greatest story of all time...the Star Wars saga. (I'm going to assume you've seen the movies, and if you haven't, go watch them now. I'll wait.)

The Star Wars franchise has perhaps one of the biggest reveals in movie history. Do you remember that moment when you found out Darth Vader was actually Luke's father? My mouth dropped all the way into my lap, but when I thought back to previous scenes, I said to myself, "Wow, I can totally see it." 

  • In the vague way Obie Wan and Yoda spoke about Luke's father and how Darth Vader killed him
  • How Darth Vader and Luke always seemed to sense when the other was near
  • Why Luke had such strong Jedi powers
All the evidence was right there, hiding under my nose. We'll done, Mr. Lucas!

Now, on the flip side, here are examples of bad surprises:

  • Ann has been acting completely normal, then we find out she was date-raped last weekend.
  • Sue has her list of suspects narrowed down to the janitor, her next door neighbor and her ex-boyfriend when we find out the killer was actually a girl from another town, someone we've never met who has no reason to kill the victim.
  • Carol is an ordinary girl in an ordinary town recovering from bulimia when we find out she is actually a robot.

Wow, these are all pretty shocking scenarios, and the reason they are shocking is because they are unexpected. But not in good this-just-got-really-intense way, more-so in a this-is-completely-unbelievable way.

We want to see Ann unravel and then we want to wonder why. If she went from party girl to shy girl or quit cheer to hang with the stoners, our curiosity would be piqued. We would still be surprised to find out she was date-raped, but it would flow seamlessly into the story.

For Sue, when she finds out the murderer is no one she ever suspected, we feel as duped as she does. Yes, it's possible that the victim was killed by some illogical psycho stranger, but it's not very likely.

And Carol, well, she just needs to figure out what kind of story she's in, a contemporary coming of age or a paranormal romance. When I sit down to read a book, I want to know what I'm reading. I don't want it to switch in the middle.

Good writing is making the unbelievable, believable. And for me, a lot of this happens during the editing phase. In my first draft, I have the path laid, where I want my characters to go and what I want them to say and do. When I go through it the second or third (or eighth) time, I make sure that I've given my characters reasoning for their actions, and I drop in subtle little clues to my big reveal. I want my readers to go, "No way!" and then, "But I can totally see it."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My life as a smoker

I started smoking when I was fifteen. It was my cousin who gave me my first cigarette. She was about a half-year younger than me, but totally rebellious with this devil-may-care attitude that I envied. The kind of girl parents would call, "a bad influence." As a follow-all-the-rules straight A student who was a founding member of the "nerd herd" I wanted to see how the other half lived. So I said, "What the hell?" for the first time in my life, pinched the cigarette in my fingers, and took a long drawl.

It was a Virginia Slim, the old lady of cigarettes, that she had stolen from her mom. As you might suspect, it tasted like the inside of a chimney, and sent me into a gut-roiling coughing fit. But there was something else as I was bent over my knees retching, a sort of euphoria, the nicotine buzz that made me light-headed and tingly. It sent me and my cousin into fits of giggles. We rolled back and forth on my grandmother's guest bed laughing, and for the rest of that family vacation, my cousin and I would sneak away when ever we could to have a couple of drags of a cigarette and then revel in that post-smoke haze.

I thought when I got home, I would return to my non-smoker, rule-following, nerd herd status, that the deviation I'd taken from normalcy had only been a part of the trip, something I'd left behind the moment I stepped onto the plane. But when I told my best friend about the tingling, light-headed, first smoke experience, she wanted to try it too.

We shoplifted a back of Marlboro menthols from the gas station. As my friend hacked and coughed and choked after her first drawl, I took another one, already immune to the burn, like I had been smoking for years instead of a few stolen cigarettes over a week.

When the school year started, I was still smoking, and the first time I went to sneak a smoke between classes behind the 300 building, I found I was not alone. There was a club I'd never known existed, a magical place where everyone came together. Jocks, cheerleaders, stoners, the punk kids, the theatre kids, the art kids...people who did not associate in real life. But here, huddled in the shadows, watching for spying teachers, we were all bonded together as one thing...Smokers.

With the glowing end of a Marlboro pinched between my fingers, I had bought myself passage into a new identity. I was no longer the straight-A semi-friendless nerd. I was that smart girl who smoked cigarettes and listened to punk rock. That girl was much cooler. That girl went to parties and dated boys. That girl was popular. And I had my dear, sweet cigarettes to thank.

I continued smoking into college. Practically everyone smoked in college, even people who had previously glared down upon smokers, calling it "a disgusting habit." The moment you turn eighteen, you do two things: you buy a pack of a cigarettes and a lottery ticket. Because you can. My sophomore year roommate and I would lie awake in our twin beds at night, talking about guys while the glow of our two cigarettes filled the dark room. Our dorm room smelled like a dive bar on a Saturday morning, and we didn't care. Truthfully, the stale smoke covered the odor of moldy cheese and dirty socks.

When I turned twenty-one, the smoking got worse. This was before bars and clubs had banned smoking, and it was before smart phones. When your girlfriend left you alone to go to the bathroom, you couldn't keep yourself occupied with Candy Crush while you waited; you smoked. And the more you drank, the more you smoked.

At the beginning of the night I'd go out with a full pack of cigarettes and come home with one lone smoke rattling around in an almost empty box. Truthfully, I would have smoked that one too, but I had enough willpower to save it. Because I knew the moment I woke up the next day, my body would start aching for its next cigarette and I'd be too sick to go out and get more.

When bars did ban smoking, I was almost grateful. I wasn't sure my lungs or my wallet could take the chain smoking anymore, and I was tired of waking up the next morning with ashtray smelling hair. The smokers were part of a secret club again. Not the ones who hid behind a building, but the ones who stood in front of the bar, sucking down nicotine. We even had our own hand signal. Two fingers pressed to your lips in a tight V was the international sign for, "Wanna have a smoke?"

At first it was a large group, maybe ten, twenty people outside, all laughing, all drunk. Strangers could meet strangers with an easy conversation starter. "Do you have a light?" or "Can I bum a smoke?" A few years later there were only a handful of us. A few years after that I found myself alone, my hood pulled over my head while I shivered in the misty, dreary thirty degree weather feeding my addiction while I sadly watched my friends laughing and drinking inside, toasty and warm.

I was still in the club, but it wasn't the cool club anymore.

I remember when I was sixteen and my parents caught my smoking. My dad said one thing to me that stuck, "You'll always be a slave to them. For the rest of your life, every minute of every day you'll be thinking 'when can I get my next cigarette.'" I laughed it off at the time, but sometime in my early thirties, I realized he was right.

I made a couple of sad attempts at quitting. They lasted days, sometimes hours and then I wouldn't try again for years. I had in my closet Chantix, nicorette, e-cigarettes...every tool known to mankind to help you quit smoking, and they sat there collecting dust. I always had an excuse like, "I can't possibly go to that party and not smoke," or "I'm just so crazy right now, I can't handle the stress." True, those were genuine concerns, but those weren't my worst fear. I was afraid to quit smoking because I was afraid of losing my identity. For almost 20 years, all of my adult life, I'd been a smoker. Who was I without the cigarettes?

I had heard that quitting before you're thirty-five greatly reduces your risk of cancer so I had set that as my goal, but even as I neared the deadline I knew I could push it if I needed to. Was thirty-six really that different from thirty-five?

It was two things that really pushed me to the edge. One, my son. He has asthma and my smoking around him was not helping, and two, while I was on maternity leave, I watched daytime TV, and at the time they were running the most terrifying anti-smoking commercials I had ever seen. I keep meaning to thank someone for those. They literally saved my life.

When I set out to quit, I never really set out to quit. I was only going to switch to the e-cigarettes. I had a couple of long-time heavy smoking friends who had done it so I thought, why not give it a shot? The e-cigarettes were nowhere near as satisfying as the real thing, but they showed me one, extremely valuable thing. I could survive without cigarettes. And if I could survive with a paltry, plastic substitute, maybe I could break-up with nicotine for good.

Gradually I eliminated the e-cigarette from my life, but I occasionally snuck a real cigarette here and there when I was really anxious or out drinking. Other days I crawled into bed hours early, avoiding the cravings by sleeping through them. December of last year I was at a party and pretty drunk and itching for a cigarette. It had been months since I'd had one. I thought, what could it hurt? Excited for it, I lit the end and took a long drawl. I almost gagged. It was disgusting.

That was my very last cigarette.

For the longest time I'd kept an emergency pack in a drawer, untouched but still there, like a crutch. I came home from that party, took the pack out of the drawer and tossed it in the trash. I was no longer a smoker.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Do not use these phrases

One of the most cliche phrases that I absolutely loathe is "think outside of the box." I am sure at one time, it was the newest, most-fabulous way to say someone was a creative thinker...about 100 years ago. Today, though, it's an oxy-moron. Because anyone who is saying, "think outside of the box," is clearly not.

In marketing, vague, meaningless phrases crop up often. In fact, I've posted about this disease before. It's a brutal misuse of the English language to fill a page full of words that mean absolutely nothing. I think that's why writers, who are used to using lots of words to describe something, fall victim to cliches when asked to summarize their 300 page epic into two paragraphs for a query, or even worse, a couple of sentences for a logline. "His world turned upside-down," might seems like an exciting way to describe your hero's conflict but it really isn't.

Let's take a look.

When a young farmer on a remote planet gets a secret message from a princess in danger, his entire world turns upside-down.


When a young farmer on a remote planet gets a secret message from a princess in danger, he's drawn into a rescue mission that kills his family and thrusts him toward his destiny of becoming a Jedi Knight. He is the last of the Jedi, and the only one who can save the galaxy from the clutches of the evil Darth Vader, the man who killed his father.

See! More details = more excitement.

If you see these phrases in your query, immediately change them

  • world turned upside-down
  • everything changed
  • more than she bargained for
  • a journey of discovery
  • uncovered secrets

Basically anything that can be replaced with more details, because we want to know...

  • HOW the world turned upside-down?
  • WHAT changed?
  • WHAT was more than she bargained for?
  • WHAT happens on this journey? WHAT did your character discover?
  • WHAT secrets?

It's like when you're watching an infomercial and they say, "This product will change your life and save you hours of time!" The first question that crops up in my mind is, "How is a one-shot kumquat slicer really going to change my life?" If you want to sell it to me, you have to tell me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Internet Etiquette

Let's talk for a second about Internet etiquette. This discussion is inspired by an author who got a bad review on one of her books and then proceeded to hunt down the reviewer and stalk her at her home and job.

That's not OK, and in some states, may actually be considered illegal.

I want to start by giving you all the best piece of advice I have ever gotten in my entire life.

There is nothing you can do about other people; you can only choose how you react to them.

Got that? In case you didn't, I'm going to say it again.


This means...
You are not going to change someone's mind by insulting them.
You are not going to get an apology by attacking them.
You are not going to make them a better person by confronting them.

You are only going to make yourself more upset.

If you find yourself the subject of Internet harassment, or a bad review, here is what you should do:
  • Ignore it.
  • Delete the comment (if you can)
  • Block the user (if you can)
  • And if you find yourself really festering about it, take a self-imposed Internet breather. Life's too short. Do you really want to waste it fighting with someone you've never met?

You can also try one of my other techniques that I talked about here. Be empathetic. Maybe the Internet troll is just having a bad day. Haven't you ever had one of those?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I'm older than the Internet

Yes, it's true. I'm older than the Internet. I remember my mom typing my sister's reports on an electric typewriter at our kitchen table. I remember our first computer, the glorious Commodore64, and the black and white dot matrix printer we used with it to make birthday banners in as little time as two hours. I remember when the Internet first arrived, and we received dozens of those AOL start-up CD's in the mail, the promise of dreams that later became coasters.

I remember spending hours after school in online chat rooms with my beloved cat on my lap while I repeatedly asked strangers, "a/s/l." And I'll never forget that horrible beeping, grinding noise that came with connecting to the Internet through your phone line.

I remember these things, but now that I can access anything from anywhere on a magic device I keep in my purse, it's hard to remember what it was actually like to live before the smartphone. I especially have a hard time remembering good things about it. I mean, how did we survive without being able to solve disputes about which actress was in which movie without IMDB to help us?

But when I think back to the dark ages of my cell phone-less, high-speed lacking life, I go all the way way back to high school, and there are a few bright sides to the under-connected that I'm sad future generations are going to miss.

Hand-Written Notes
My best friend and I used to spend hours crafting notes to one another, written in code or sometimes hand-drawn comics making fun of girls we despised or boys we liked. We would sneak in illustrated private jokes too, like the mystery of the severed cat leg stuck to the pavement outside of our neighborhood. What happened to the rest of the cat? With note-writing replaced by the more convenient texting, who has time to draw sketches of 3-legged cats nowadays?

Prank Calls
Who remembers Crank Yankers? Do teens even bother with prank calls anymore? Can you even get away with it with caller ID? It seems like all of the bullying takes place on Facebook now, but in my day if we wanted to harass someone after school, we had to call them on the phone.

Yes, it was still anonymous (we didn't have caller ID way back when), but there was always the risk of voice recognition even when you were using a spot-on French accent. And since the gag was running live, you had to be quick. No time to sit and ponder your response before you typed it, and the where-should-I-deliver-your-200-pizzas bit just doesn't have the same punch in an email as it does on the phone.

Okay, I'm a mom, and when my son is old enough to go out on his own I am going to be tracking him online like a celebrity stalker. It's going to be awesome for me, and it's going to suck for him.

In addition to never wearing a seatbelt or a bike helmet, I was also free the moment I stepped outside. The only rules: call when you get there and let me know when you're coming back. So I would get to my friend's house, call, tell my mom I would be home by 12 and then my friends and I would go wherever and do whatever with whomever without anyone policing us.

Granted, this arrangement did get me into trouble occasionally, grounded for the better part of a summer, but looking back, I wouldn't have changed a thing. There is a feeling I'm afraid my son isn't ever going to experience, and that's the feeling of complete and utter independence. I was free. My parents didn't know where I was, or who I was with. I was just having fun, doing what I wanted to do and I wasn't going to get caught with pictures on the Internet later. I always think, "How do kids get away with anything these days?" Or in other words, how can they find out what kind of person they're supposed to be if no one gives them the chance to explore it on their own?

So at great risk of sounding like a crotchety old lady, those are the things I miss about the dark ages. But what about you, any readers who remember the archaic life before Google, what do you think we've lost in the age of technology that today's kids will never know?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On Self Editing

It's hard. It's really, really hard. I'm in the midst of something new. I poured out a first draft of 83,000 words. Parts of it are good. Parts of it are not so good. I went through and started re-working the most troublesome areas and still wasn't happy with it.

When I tracked down the culprit, I found it right at the beginning. I'd done what I criticize other writers for doing all the time. I'd started in the wrong spot and loaded the beginning up with backstory, which was leaving the rest of my story pretty bland. I'm a firm believer in that you need a solid base if you want a strong story, which means I have to start almost from scratch (at least there's a little framework to guide me this time.)

Before I started deleting out mass amounts of text though, a tiny thought crept into my brain, "maybe I can let it slide for now, send it out to a few Beta readers and see what they think." I've already been working on this one for months, and I've set myself some pretty firm deadlines. But I couldn't do it. I personally get hives if anything leaves my laptop that I'm not psyched to share, and I try not to burden my Beta readers with multiple drafts. I trust my internal editor when she says something's wrong, even when she says, "This needs a complete rewrite." (Although there might have been some cursing involved)

I've seen some work from Beta readers with comments woven into the text, "Do you think this is too much?" And every time I  answer, "yes." They're not posing those questions because they think they can slip something by, they're asking because good writers always question their work, and unfortunately the validity of their own opinion.

And sometimes my own characters try to tell me something's wrong.

"I didn't know why I was acting this way. It wasn't like me." If my character can't explain her actions, then maybe I shouldn't be making her do them.

I feel like there are lots of little signs we give ourselves, flags we wave to say, "Hey, this isn't working," and we let them slide because we don't trust ourselves, or we're so close to the story we can't make them out anymore. Which is why self-editing is so hard. So I'll ask you, how do you self-edit? Are you able to listen to your own gut, or do you need a second opinion? How do you take your work from good to great?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: Girl on a Wire

Rating: 3 out of 5 kitties

Jules Maroni is one of the Amazing Maronis, a family of circus folk whose own small circus is failing. To bring them into the spotlight, she pushes them into joining the Cirque American where they come face to face with family rivals, the Flying Garcias. At Cirque American, the past comes back to haunt her, and Jules and her newfound crush, Remy Garcia have to uncover the secrets of the ancient feud if they want to end it.

I don't exactly know how to describe this except that it needed to be much muchier. The description sounded incredible: mystery, acrobatics, magic. I was hoping for something more along the lines of The Night Circus, and instead got something kind of blah.

I was wary from the beginning, with the dreaded prologue that every literary agent says never to use. For good reason. It was all backstory. History was piled onto me, and then somehow we end up rushed into the circus and dancing in the muscular arms of Remy. Surprise. Surprise. What happens next is a lackluster romance in which I have no idea why either character likes the other one except that their parents might be kind of mad if they were dating, they are both attractive, and they are the same age.

The "threat" is kind of the same. Nothing really happens to Jules so the stakes aren't running real high, and I didn't love any of the characters enough to care that much anyway. Then, around page 250, we go from 0 to 60 in a few pages. The mystery picks up from there and I was definitely intrigued enough to keep reading, but I had to slog through 250 pages of nothing to get there. I never got hooked on the romance. There just wasn't enough passion or tension or emotion or anything. It was sort of like be together, not be together, whatever. *Shrug.*

While I was reading I tried to pinpoint why this was falling flat, and I think it was because there was a lot of "telling." At the beginning of each chapter Jules tells us what happened in a one or two page summary that sounds much the same. She tells us the history of her family. She tells us she likes Remy but we don't really see it through action. But then there were parts that shone, like when Jules mounts the wire for her first outdoor walk, because it was described with feeling and tension.

What I did like about this throughout was the voice. Jules is a stubborn, focused, quippy girl with her eyes set on stardom. The author also did her research on wire walkers and circus life, and the way Jules relates this information to us felt authentic, not like a regurgitated lecture. 

It's frustrating because I know I would have really really liked this is if was just a bit more. Even the ending came off a little Scooby-Doo-esque. I wouldn't shy anyone away from reading this, but I don't know that I would recommend it either.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: City of Heavenly Fire

Ah, the long-awaited conclusion the the Mortal Instruments series, which I almost didn't read except it has such wonderful reviews and one of my friends suggested it. I was kind of over the whole series with the last book. It's not that I still totally don't think Cassandra Clare is a wonderful writer, and that the characters are well-developed and unique and that the Shadowhunter world is vibrant and full of's just that it's too much. It's like when a television series hangs on for too long and the cute kids are old now and they desperately throw in new, younger characters to keep it alive and then we start heading toward spin offs. CoHF was that. Exactly that.

I just re-read the book synopsis, and truth be told, that's maybe one-third of it. There is a one-hundred page end battle and then an eighty page epilogue that I mostly skimmed through. About forty-seven people narrate this story, and most segments were obvious set-up for other novels or unnecessary backstory from other Shadowhunter novels. We also have a lot of characters passing out, another situation that prevents Jace and Clary from having sex, and countless drawn out soliloquys.

"By the time we found you, you'd already broken free on your own. So what it showed you, that wasn't what you want...but it wasn't what you want, not really. So you woke up."

How many times do we have to say the same thing? And this is only one example of many, many speeches like that. What CoHF still had, what made me fall in love with the other Mortal Instruments books, was Cassandra's classic blend of humor, adventure and was just suffocating under a lot of politics and useless drama. I certainly wouldn't shy anyone away from reading this. Overall it's a good conclusion to the series. Just be prepared to do your own editing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What's that smell

One of my first critique partners left a very simple comment that has stuck with me ever since, "What does it smell like?" Good question. What does it smell like? I often read scenes where a picture is painted describing the color of the walls, the feel of the upholstery, the glisten of sweaty muscles, the sounds of screaming, and the taste of someone's tongue...which is all great, but the picture is incomplete. We're forgetting about smell.

Smell is an incredibly important sense too because it's commonly linked with memories and emotion. When I walk by someone wearing Ponds cream, I think of my mother. Moldy basement? I remember my summers spent at my Great Aunt's house in Tennessee. Drakkar Noir? Horrible flashbacks to the elevator in my sophomore dorm.

Take this scene:
When I stepped into the living room, I was reminded of my Grandma's house. There was plastic sheeting on the floral sofa and mounds of cat hair tangled in the threadbare rug. 

Now let's add this:
When I stepped into the living room, I was reminded of my Grandma's house. There was plastic sheeting on the floral sofa and mounds of cat hair tangled in the threadbare rug. All of it complemented by the burning stench of cat pee.

We move from being a little itchy and uncomfortable to running from the room with our hand over our mouth.

But let's talk a little bit more about smells and using the right smells. The one above works because 1, we're trying to make an unsightly environment and 2, even if you haven't smelled cat pee, you've smelled pee, and you know it stinks.

Let's change our scene to something nice.
When I stepped into the living room, I was reminded of my Grandma's house. There was an overstuffed floral sofa with a sleeping cat nestled in the cushions and the smell of warm, chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. 

Now I want to live there, curl up next to the cat, and eat warm, chocolate chip cookies. But let's change it one more time.

One more time.
When I stepped into the living room, I was reminded of my Grandma's house. There was an overstuffed floral sofa with a sleeping cat nestled in the cushions and the smell of snozzberries in the air.

What are snozzberries? What do they smell like? Are they bitter? Sweet? Does this turn our cozy couch into something yucky or keep it nice?

So many times I'm reading books where a room or person smells like lemongrass or honeysuckle or some other plant I can't immediately identify with so it doesn't really resonate with me except to say, "it smelled like flowers." And then I wonder why I'd want to go out with a guy who smelled so flowery. Flowers are a lazy way of adding scents, and using rare or indistinguishable scents don't help paint your picture.

Just for fun, let's change it again.
When I stepped into the living room, I was reminded of my Grandma's house. There was an overstuffed floral sofa with a sleeping cat nestled in the cushions, and the smell of gunpowder in the air.

WHAT?!? What's going on here? Who decorates like Grandma and smells like gunpowder? Why did the MC's Grandma's house smell like gunpowder? Are we looking at secret, old lady spies? Or just hardcore members of the NRA? Not only does this scent add flavor to the scene; it adds intrigue.

Now I think you're ready to start smelling things up on your own. Talk a walk through your latest work in progress and stop at each scene. Once you're there, ask yourself the burning question, "What does it smell like?"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

If people acted like cats

If any of you own cats, this video is HILARIOUS! Enjoy.

Monday, June 23, 2014

How to Write a Book

One of my author friends says she gets a lot of emails, "How do I write a book?" Her answer, and I agree, "You sit down and write it." Because if you're looking for something more; you need to ask a more specific question. Like...

Q: How do I write a young adult novel?
A: Open a blank Word Document and start writing about vampires with chiseled jaws and fantastic hair.

Q: How do I write a children's book?
A: Put together pairs of rhyming words and match them with pictures of kittens.

Q: How do I write a memoir?
A: You don't. Trust me when I say your life is not that exciting.

But all kidding aside (or some kidding aside) I'm going to do my best to answer this question using my own personal experiences.*

Step 1: The Concept
Before you can write anything, you need to have something to write about. You need an idea, but more than that, you need a concept. It's true what they say, "Ideas are a dime a dozen." Everyone has them, what you need is a plot to go with it, what agents often call, "the hook."

A futuristic world where children are put into an arena to fight to the death is an idea. The story is about a girl who volunteers to fight to save her sister, and while she is fighting, she becomes an unwilling leader of a rebellion. That's something to write about.

Step 2: The Players
Okay, you've got your idea. You've fleshed out a concept. Now you've got to pick your players. This girl who's the center of your story...what does she look like? How old is she? What's her temperament? Who are her friends? Boyfriend? Family? What are they like? Who is going to tell your story? God? The girl? Her mother? Before you sit down to write, you need to make these decisions. I find it helpful to come up with some backstory for my main characters. Whether it makes it into the final manuscript or not; it helps me make decisions later, about how my characters will act and what they will say.

Step 3: The Path
Once I have an idea and some characters in mind, I start plotting. I'm not an outliner, but before I sit down at my computer, I spend some time thinking about how things are going to go. Where do I want to start my story? Where am I going to end my story? What are some key plot points along the way? How is my main character going to change throughout the novel?

Step 4: Read
I know I'm writing a YA dystopia in a first person POV. So now I pick up or re-read every YA dystopia I have that's written in first person POV. And while I'm reading, I mark places where I like or didn't like what was done. But you know what? My story has some romance in it too. So I'll read a couple of romance novels too and see how that author made us fall in love.

We learn from other writers, and one day, writers might be learning from you. I feel like newbie writers always want to skip this step, afraid they'll end up copying someone, or they're deluded into thinking they don't need help. But you do. You really, really do.

Set 5: Sit Your Ass Down and Write
You've got the basic pieces you need to write a novel, but the thing will never come together until you actually write it. A lot reveals itself in writing. Since I don't create an outline, there are often holes in my plot and characters that I patch when I let my players take over the page. In black and white, I can see what's working and what isn't, and many, many times, I'll write 100 pages only to scrap them and start from scratch at the top of a blank page.

And here's where we really separate the men from the boys. (or the women from the girls)

If I had a dollar for every time I was at a party and overhead someone say, "I should really write a book," I would be writing this post from the deck of my yacht. Because anyone can talk about writing a book. It takes patience, dedication, and hard work to actually write one. So for anyone who's done that, Bravo! Whether you're published or pre-published that is a huge deal.

For everyone else who's just in the talking about it stage (which I did for about 2 or 3 years, fyi.) Read. Keep your eyes and ears open for that hook, and then sit down and write it.

*This is my own personal process. This is not by any means the only way to write a book, just something to help people who might not know where to begin. If you have anything to add, please put it in the comments.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Making the Switch to Digital Books

I think I've done it. I think I've finally become a convert to the digital book age. For a long while I hovered over the line, appreciating paper books for their cover design and for having something to hold in my hand after shelling out $10. But now, my stack of paper books in my TBR pile is remaining stagnant, while I rip through digital books one after the other.

Here's why I made the switch.

1. I read on my phone. I don't have to remember to bring a book with me because my phone is always there, like the fifth limb I never wanted. And if I finish a book, a new one is just waiting for me to download it.

2. Price. If you wait for book deals, you can get digital copies for less than $2.

3. Books are big. One of the paper books I have sitting on my shelf is GONE by Michael Grant. Every time I see it, I want to read it, but then I notice how thick it is and my mind mentally starts adding up the hours I'll have to invest in it. What if I hate it? And how the hell am I supposed to fit that in my purse with all my other crap? Digital books aren't as daunting, and they certainly weigh less.

4. Annotating. I always feel like a criminal when I make notes in a paper book, but with digital books, I can make all the notes I want and delete them without leaving a mark.

5. Sequels. When I read PRETTY LITTLE LIARS by Sara Shepard, the end left me with such a hunger for more, I had to immediately read the sequel. Now, I could have rushed to my local bookstore, hope they had #2 in stock, shelled out the $10, drove home and started reading it OR I could click two buttons and have it in front of me in 10 seconds. I'm impatient. I chose the digital download.

Of course there are exceptions. Graphic novels need to be on paper, along with my son's picture books. He likes to have something to hold, pages to turn. And when I have the chance to get a signed hardcover, I'm doing it.

But what about you? What do you prefer? And who is a fan of Audio books? I've had yet to cross that bridge. Are they incredible? I want to know.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Real Problem with Dystopias

I recently read this post about the problem with dystopias. I'm not trying to pick on her or start an Internet battle, I'm just providing a counterpoint. I see this a lot on Goodreads, Amazon, book review sites, articles, blogs, etc...where people dislike a dystopian novel because they find aspects of it "unbelievable."

Well, of course they do. It's fantasy. It's not intended to be real, so I think the real problem here is that the people who nitpick the validity of a dystopian society just don't get the genre.

Obviously, no one really thinks that society will put children into a fight to the death, or that one day we'll be eating ground up people, or that a virus will turn humanity into flesh-eating monsters. Dystopias aren't meant to be realistic, they are meant to magnify a problem of today by putting it far into the future and making it into the worst case scenario. It's a practice of exploration. A satire of sorts.

Americans today watch a ridiculous amount of reality television. Amazing Race, Survivor, Fear Factor...those are all shows that place people into exciting and dangerous situations, and while the contestants struggle to find food, or transportation, or chow down on a scorpion, we're sitting on our couches, munching popcorn, with our eyes glued to the television. How could this possibly get worse? Oh I know, make it a show about children trying to kill one another. What happens then? You can find out in the Hunger Games.

Or 1984. One of my favorite dystopias, which was the focus of the article above and is often said to be true to today. Obviously not all of it is, and Mr. Orwell did not intend it to be. It was inspired by the Tehran Conference. But take a look at some of his ideas in the novel: people subjected to constant advertising, a shrinking middle class, being constantly watched by the, hello, Patriot Act.

Granted, this post is completely biased. I love dystopias. I love to read them, write them, and watch them. That's kind of why I'm writing this. It hurts me when I see bad reviews for books I loved simply because the reader found it, "unbelievable." It's fine if you didn't love the plot, or the characters, or the writing, but don't hate it because you can't stretch your imagination.

To you I say, "Give dystopias another chance," and quit trying to look at them as fortune telling. They're not. They're science-fiction. If you can allow for fairies and vampires and aliens, then try to make room for dictators who watch your every move.

*getting off soapbox now*

Monday, May 12, 2014

Writing Exercise: Explaining Bad Behavior

I wanted to share a quick writing exercise with you that everyone can do most of the time. Living in Rhode Island, a place where driving borders on anarchy, I frequently get the opportunity to stretch my character development skills and keep myself from launching into road rage.

When someone cuts me off, or runs a red light, or tries to change lanes into me, or cuts across three lanes of traffic to make a freeway exit, instead of cursing and honking, I make up a story as to why they might be driving so badly.

Maybe the woman driving the BMW, weaving in and out of traffic, just remembered she left the stove on. This is the third time she's done it this month. Not to mention yesterday when she left the garage door open, or Thursday, when she forgot to clean up the orange juice she spilled and came home to a swarm of ants on her kitchen floor. She just can't seem to get her head together since her father died, and if she doesn't get home before her husband to turn off the oven, assuming her house isn't already on fire, she'll get a bruise on her ribs to match the one already on her arm.

See? Not only have I exercised my creative muscles, now I feel bad for that woman, and I'm rooting for her to get green lights all the way home instead of shaking my fist out the window.

And you don't have to wait until someone blows through a stop sign in front of you to do this. You can do it for the anonymous commenter who leaves a nasty message on your blog, or the woman in the grocery store who cuts in front of you in line, the man who blatantly slams the door in front of you even though your arms are loaded with bags.

Just take a second, breathe, and try to come up with an explanation for why he might have done that.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What is Feminism?

Did you guys see what Divergent star and soon-to-be the Fault in Our Stars star Shailene Woodley said about feminism?

Oy vey.

"I don't consider myself a feminist because I love men, and I think the idea of 'raise women to power, take the men away from the power' is never going to work out because you need balance."

Although Shailene has excellent taste in movies, she has no idea what she's talking about.

From Wikipedia: Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women.[1][2] This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.[3]

Feminism isn't about dragging men down. It's about bringing women up, to, um, reach a state of equality. All I can do is sit here and shake my head and hope young ladies do not use Ms. Woodley as their source for information about women's rights...or fashion.

Monday, May 5, 2014

My Agent Wishlist

I know we're not supposed to talk about submitting, and I won't really, I'll only say that it's a trying process for the somewhat sensitive and deranged creative types. To keep myself sane, I remind myself that publishing is subjective. What's right for one isn't right for another. So I started thinking about what I would want to find in my slush pile if I were an agent. And a lot of people will be glad that I am not an agent.

Rachel Menard - Literary Agent with Completely Made-Up Agency

Rachel Menard received her degree in marketing from Arizona State in 2001 and after a decade-long career in web marketing and product design, published her first YA novel, MY FIRST NOVEL, which went onto great success in Japan. She joined the Completely Made-Up Agency in January of 2014 and is actively building her client list.

She is looking for young adult paranormal romance, thriller and speculative fiction with strong heroines who have a great voice. She is not looking for girls who constantly find themselves in peril and need to be rescued. She does not want heroines who are gorgeous, but don't seem to know it. She wants characters who are gray, not good or bad, not smart or foolish, but a little bit of both, characters who are REAL.

If there is a romance, no love-at-first-sight or borderline abusive boyfriends. Love triangles are acceptable as long as the feelings aren't forced. Do not bother submitting epic fantasy, dystopia, vampires, werewolves, vampires, angels, or fairies. She is looking for new. If your book fits into these very limited categories, you may email her your query.

That's my agent wish list. What would yours be?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Realistic Couponing - Steals and Deals

Below is a list of my favorite steals, deals, tips and tricks. Things might vary by your location, but I think for the most part, you should be able to grab these savings and avoid these missteps.

Proctor & Gamble
I had no idea how many P&G products I used already until I started clipping coupons. Iams, Tampax, Always, Oil of Olay, Puffs Plus, Tide, Bounce...just to name a few, and there is ALWAYS a discount on P&G products, which means for over thirty years I was an idiot paying full price for these things.

P&G sends out their own coupon flyer in the Sunday paper about once a month. ie, once their coupons expire, there is a break of about a week, and then you'll get a new one. So never buy a P&G product at full retail. The stores usually match their discounts to this flyer, so the day the P&G flyer comes out, CVS will mark down their Tampax and their Tide.

My grocery store also does deals like, buy $20 worth of P&G products, save $5 instantly. (this is after coupons) I do this deal all the time. Before going to the store, I take my store flyer and my coupons and figure out how to get $20.01 of P&G products after coupons, and then BAM! get the $5 off. I usually walk out of the store with $30 worth of goods for $15.01. That's a 50% discount, kids. You can't pass that up.

Target does a lot of these deals where if you buy X amount of goods, you get a gift card. This is another evil marketing scheme to get you back into the store so you make more impulse purchases and spend even more money! Muwahahaha!

You can avoid this though, because most cashiers are very nice people who will let you split your order. With order 1, you buy what you need to get the gift card. Order 2, you use the gift card right then to pay for the rest of your things. It avoids a follow-up trip to the store where you'll get suckered into buying that adorable dress for only $18.99!

Target also offers their own in-store coupons which can be paired with manufacturer coupons for even more savings. (read the fine print) The other day I bought diapers. They were on sale. You bought 2, you got a $10 gift card. I had a $2 off Target coupon and a $2 off manufacturer coupon. When all was said and done, I saved $9 off regular retail on each pack. Not too shabby.

I also use the Cartwheel App and have a Target Red Card for additional savings. You can even use your Red Card at the in-store Starbuck's to save 5% on your coffee!

You can make out like a bandit at CVS, but it requires more work. They do a lot of buy X of this product get $2 in CVS extra bucks! Which is like the Target gift cards, another evil marketing ploy. At my CVS, they will not let me split the order, so I have to come back. Granted, there isn't as much tempting impulse buy fodder there, but there is always some.

The best CVS deals are when an item is discounted, you have a coupon, and CVS is offering the Extra bucks. They also have store coupons that can be paired with manufacturer coupons. I can usually print these from the kiosk right when I enter the store. Additionally, I read an article once (and can't remember the source) that said beauty products, medicine and health products are always cheaper at the pharmacy versus the grocery store. I'm not sure if that's true, but I have gotten some major deals on vitamins (Centrum and One a Day always have coupons) and cough medicine.

Yes, you can get some major savings at Kohl's, but they have their own evil marketing ploy. They mark everything double and then slash it by 50%. ie. They mark an item $10, say it's 50% off making it $5. However, at Walmart, that item is just $5. It gives you a false sense that you're saving all this money when you're not. The best way to avoid this it to know your prices.

Like in my first blog post, I said my best deal on a 12-pack of soda was $2.50. Make note of your best deals and never pay more than that for an item. Knowing the lowest price value of things can help you spot better deals.

Quick Tips

  • Before you buy anything online, Google, "Coupon Code for ENTER RETAILER HERE." 90% of the time, something comes up and works.
  • Mark in your calendar when rare or hot coupons expire so you don't miss using them. I'll often hold coupons to wait for a sale, but if one doesn't come up before the expiration date, I'll use it anyway.
  • Restaurants that always have coupons: Friendly's, LongHorn, Chuck E. Cheese, Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King, Subway, Outback...don't eat at any of these places without a discount!
  • Retailers and manufacturers discount things seasonally, which means cough medicine and vitamins are discounted during flu season, paper plates and mustard are discounted during BBQ season, and baking ingredients are discounted during holiday season. Stock up on these things during their season to avoid buying them in the off times.

To close, I am posting a photo of my stockpile (part of it) I am very proud of this, and if a zombie apocalypse ever happens, I will be stocked with non-perishable goods for at least a few months. So not only am I saving money, I am insuring my survival.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Realistic Couponing - Your first best friend, the Coupons

Here we are, finally at the stage of cutting coupons. Do you realize it took us three posts to get here? That's because couponing isn't just about the coupons, although it's a lot about the coupons, which is why they are your first best friend.

Let's start. First off, buy a newspaper. The Sunday paper. In Rhode Island, it's $3.50, and we get it delivered so it's waiting on my doorstep first thing in the morning. I get up like a kid on Christmas and say to my husband, "It's coupon day!" while I squeal and jump up and down because not only is there a coupon flyer in there, the Sunday paper has every store ad imaginable, so you can seek out other timely deals. Definitely worth the $3.50 and easy enough to monetize. If you can save $4.00 a week with coupons (which you can), you've made a $.50 profit. It's a no-brainer.

We also get a coupon flyer in the mail on Wednesdays. In case you're wondering, the coupons are different, so you need them both. Once you have your coupon flyers, you sit down and you clip them. You cut everything, except for the things you definitely won't use, like diapers if you don't have a baby. This is REALISTIC couponing, not extreme couponing. But, do hang onto those flyers because I belong to an online coupon group and sometimes people will ask to trade their cat food coupons for your diaper coupons, so you can get more of what you need.

My third coupon resource is I usually go here after I've made my list in the previous blog post and matched up my coupons. I use it to fill in the gaps where I might be buying a sale item but one without a coupon. And obviously, while I'm on there, I find other coupons that are worth printing and clipping.

Once you have your coupons clipped, you need to organize them. Here is a photo of my coupon envelope.

I have it labeled in order of the way things appear in my store. New coupons in the front of the section, older ones in the back so it's easy to clear out the expired ones. It's also small enough to tuck in my purse so I can keep it with me and never miss any deals. You can buy one of these at the dollar store.

After a few months of coupon clipping, you will begin to learn which items always have a coupon and which items rarely have coupons. This helps you  manage your stockpile, and when you have enough of those frequent coupon items, you can trade those coupons for some of the rarer ones.

Since I started couponing, I save on average $2400 a year on groceries, and I have more food and better food than I did before. That's a car payment, folks. Or a vacation for my family, and that doesn't include what I save elsewhere: on clothes, eating out, entertainment...because I don't pay full price for ANYTHING. Inspired yet?

Next week I'll post a list of some of my favorite deals and steals.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Realistic Couponing - The Weekly Flyer, Your Second Best Friend

Who's your first best friend? Your G.D. coupons that's who! But we're not there yet. Oh no. You can't jump into the pool without taking your clothes off first, or in this case, without making a grocery list.

Remember last week's post? You are no longer brand loyal. You are loyal to cheap products, and you find cheap products in your weekly flyer.

Your weekly flyer is your instruction manual. If the shit you want is not in it, or you don't have a coupon for it, then you're not buying it. Understand? As a couponer you NEVER pay full price for ANYTHING! That's for suckers.

Now, how I like to start is by grabbing a pen and just taking a first pass at the ad. I circle products that I like. I circle products that are a super good deal, things I'm running low on, and things I'm pretty sure I have a coupon for. Once I have all of my items circled, I go through my coupons and start matching things up. The goal is to find what I call the trifecta.

1. Product is a favorite
2. Product is on sale

When that happens, you've struck savings gold. When you have a trifecta, you buy as many of that item as you can.

Here's where the naysayers say, "I don't have time for that shit."

Yes, you do.

Admittedly, going through the weekly ad and making my list is where I spend the bulk of my couponing time. I would say this takes roughly an hour to an hour and a half a week. But let me tell you where it saves time.

Let's go back, to when I was a full-price paying fool. I used to go to the store, 2 maybe 3 times a week to pick things up because I was buying them on-demand, as in I bought things as we needed them. Not only was I paying more for these items, but every time I went to the store, I was buying extra impulse items.

From America's Cheapest Family:

"Shoppers making a ‘quick trip' to the store to pick up a few specific items usually purchase 54 percent more than they planned."

"Forty-seven percent of shoppers go to the store three or four times each week."

"Consumers graze at the grocery store, with impulse buys making up between 50.8 and 67.7 percent of total purchase."

As a marketer, I rub my hands together and make a cruel evil laugh. This is exactly what we want. We spend tons of money to get you into stores as much as possible so you will buy more of our frivolous things. And it works! Muwahahaha.

Because you think it's easier and quicker to just run by the store and pick up a few things, but it isn't.

Trust me. I live in the tiniest state in the union, where everything is literally 2 minutes away, and I would say by the time I get in my car, drive to the store, get out of the car, go into the store, wander around buying extra stuff I don't need, pay for it, get back into the car, drive home...I've spent 30 minutes. 30 minutes, 3 times a week is an hour and a half. Compared to the one hour a week I spend at the store now, I'm saving 30 minutes a week, and yes, I still make impulse purchases, but I only do it once.

Here's another time saver. Meal planning. The worst thing about cooking meals is figuring out what the hell to cook. Now it's easy. I look through the ad, I see asparagus is on sale, I circle it, and then I go online and find a recipe that uses asparagus. I make sure the recipe has other ingredients on sale or thing from my wares, and then it's decided. That's what we're having this week.

And for those of you who say, "You can't eat healthy when you coupon." That's B.S. I'm a vegetarian. My family eats tons of fresh vegetables and organic foods. I probably eat healthier than some of the non-couponers out there and still pay less.

So next week, get ready to talk about the gold. The coupons!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Realistic Couponing - Step 1: Changing your mindset

I love saving money. If I could steal a slogan for myself from a tire store, it would be name brand at discount prices. Couponing makes good sense, apart from the extremists who buy rooms full of cat food and have no cats. I think that's just silly. But when my friends come over and see my shelf full of detergent, they always say, "I should start couponing, but I don't really have the time." or "I don't know where to start." or "You can't get good deals on good food." To which I say BLASPHEMY! All those things are untrue, which is why I am adding this to my blog, because let's face it, a writer's life doesn't pay that much.

Step 1 - Changing your mind set
To start your savings, throw brand loyalty right out the window. You are now loyal to the products that are the cheapest. You are no longer buying Coca Cola. You are buying soda. You are no longer buying Pantene ProV you are buying shampoo. Understand? The benefit of this is you get to try new products, and some of them you might like better than the ones you used to buy. Others, not so much. And this my friends, is why we stockpile.

If you really have to have your Coke, wait for it to become the cheapest soda, and then buy the maximum the store will allow. The next day, go back and do it again and the next, until the sale ends, or you have amassed enough Coke to carry you to the next sale.

Now this is where the coupon naysayers will say, "But I don't have room to store it."

Of course you do.

Your rent. Your mortgage. These are bills that will not change. (unless you refinance, take on a roommate, whatever, but for the most part, they are static.) So let's say your rent is $1000 a month, and in your apartment, you have two closets that roughly make-up 5% of the living space. You are paying $50 a month for those closets. Now what is on the bottom of those closets? Junk? Old clothes? Do you really want to pay $50 a month to keep old clothes around? Because that's exactly what you're doing.

Now as I said, there is nothing you can do about getting that $50 back, unless you sublet your closets to very small people, but you can make better use of it. The best deal I've gotten on soda is 4 12-packs for $10. Regular price for soda is at least $4.00 per 12-pack, so...

Sale Sodas = $2.50/12-pack or $.21/soda
Full Price Sodas = $4/12-pack or $.33/soda
Savings: $1.50 or $.12/soda

If you buy 34 12-packs of soda at the sale price, you have saved $51.00. If you can fit those in the bottom of your closets, you've just made those closets profitable. Got it? Take a second look around your house. Now do you have some extra space?

If maximizing living space isn't doing it for you, think about this. You and I drink the same exact soda, but mine is $.12 less. Every delicious ounce you drink is a penny more than mine, and I didn't do anything special to get it. I haven't spent any extra time. Haven't clipped a coupon, I just bought more when it was on sale.

That should get you started. Next, we'll talk about the weekly flyer: the couponer's second best friend.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

First Date

Below is a sample of work from my latest MS, featuring a scene from my characters' first date.

“They should have like a training academy for Stormtroopers, to teach them how to shoot. I mean they can’t hit a rebel standing four feet in front of them,” I say before I pluck another cheese fry from the plate.
“It could be low visibility because of the helmets, or maybe a flaw in the cloning process that decreases hand-eye coordination,” Nathan says.
“Okay, but even so, that makes them shitty soldiers, right?”
“Beggars can’t be choosers. If the Empire wants quality fighters they need to offer a more comprehensive benefits package.”
I laugh. “I can’t believe we’re talking about this right now.”
“Me either.” He leans across the table. “If this is a dream, which I’m starting to think it is, you’re wearing a gold bikini under that dress.”
I slide my sleeve to the side and show him my black bra strap. “Nope, sorry.”
“Damn.” He sits back. “I’d have better chances if this were a dream.” He folds his arms behind his head, and I get another glimpse of his secret muscle as his shirt pulls tight across his biceps. His chances aren’t that bad now...except there is one thing still bothering me.
“Nathan,” I say. “I know I used my honest answer question already, but can I ask you something else and will you promise to tell the truth?”
“Yes.” He looks me hard in the eye. “I have a lightsaber at home but it was a gift, I swear.”
I give him a courtesy smile. “This is why I can’t trust your answers, because you make everything a joke.”

What do you think? Would you go out with Nathan again?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Writing Goals

Somehow in my writing journey, I switched from being a writer to an editor. I used to love to sit at my desk with a beer and spit out words for hours on end. Now, even if I do this, I immediately have to go back and edit, which means it takes forever for me to actually get to the end of a story, and sometimes, if things don't go well, I just abandon it.

I've decided to switch things up, and set myself some writing goals. I have 2000 words a day or 14,000 a week. I try to sit down every day and write 2000 words, but when that doesn't happen (because it rarely does) I'm caught on Sunday afternoon having to crank out 6000 words to reach my weekly goal.

How's it going? Pretty darn good. It's been 3 weeks and 2 days and I am on track with 46,000 words of mostly garbage, probably a few good nuggets in there that I'll pick out in the second round. If I keep on track, I'll have my first draft completed in a couple of weeks. Yay!

So how about you guys, do you have writing goals? And if so, what's your number? Do you feel that number makes for good progress?

If my writing regime continues to work out, I might consider changing my pantster status.