Fess Up Friday: The Brrpocalypse is upon us

I got nothing done this week. Well, I got nothing writing-related done this week. Instead I had a visit from my mom, a morning of “rolling” blackouts*, and now – to top it all off – there’s this layer of white stuff on the ground that has the entire city fascinated and also completely shut down**.

*There was absolutely nothing rolling about them, at least at my house. The power was out from around 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. It came back on about every hour to every hour and a half for about 10 minutes at a time. And of course I didn’t have either my phone or computer charged the night before. Thank goodness for Kindle.

**Midwesterners and East coasters please feel free to have a good laugh. Less than an inch of snow and Austin has cancelled school, closed city and state offices, and everyone is being urged to stay inside. We southerners are no match for the Brrpocalypse.

I’ll admit, when I first saw the forecast for a high of twentysomething this week, I did a happy dance. Finally, I would have an excuse to stay in my pajamas and at my computer. No grocery store runs. No feeling guilty for Southerner's Enjoyment of Snowmissing the gym. Twenty four to forty-eight hours of uninterrupted revision time. Except that my uninterrupted writing time started with a blackout. And seriously, the six hours I spent with intermittent electricity, racing to the coffeemaker, getting cars out of the garage, turning up the heater in hopes it will get above 60 in the house, really killed the desire to work. It did not, however, kill the desire to drink wine and watch Legally Blonde.

Basically, I went from day one excitement level to day four in the span of about eight hours. I am not meant to live in cold weather places.

So despite there being a layer of this so-called snow on the ground, today I’m making it a point to get back into revision shape. And to get out of my pajamas. I hope to bring you better news next week.

‘Fess Up Friday: Week Four

Well, it’s over for me. I finished National Novel Writing Month this morning with 50,362 words. Whew. And YAY!

Week four was quite the rollercoaster. As I mentioned, I started the week ahead by two days’ worth of word count. I did a little bit of writing on both Tuesday and Wednesday, but because of the holiday and company arriving, I didn’t get in more than 300 words at either session. Which meant I needed to write about 1,000 words on Thursday, or Thanksgiving Day to us in the States.

Do I even need to tell you how much that didn’t happen? I’m not sure any power under the sun could have actually gotten me out of the craziness that was hosting 12 people for Thanksgiving dinner and made me sit at the computer and write. My day in the kitchen started at seven in the morning and wrapped up around five. In between the cooking, there was visiting and eating and watching the most adorable 20 month old dance around our living room. In short, it was an excellent holiday and so I didn’t feel too bad about falling behind on my word count.

But fall behind I did and I spent Friday and Saturday playing catch up with word count. By Friday night I was just ready to be done with the draft and so I buckled down on Saturday morning and again in the evening, determined to finish by the end of the weekend. In all my writing time this month, I think that’s when my internal editor turned off completely. And I mean completely. Not only would I type a sentence that would ordinarily make me cringe and completely ignore it, I pretty much stopped using the delete key all together, which led to some very questionable spelling and punctuation. Ah well, I’m not sure my last scene will survive the revision process, so I’m okay with leaving it as the mess it is.

It’s too soon for me to really reflect on this NaNoWriMo as a whole, so instead I’m going to do a celebratory chair dance  (whoop whoop! raise the roof!) and wish all my fellow NaNoWriMo participants the best of luck in the next three days. I hope you meet the goals you set out to accomplish and I hope you learned something about your writing process along the way.


Fess Up Friday: Week Two

As of this blog post I have 20,508 words toward my NaNoWriMo draft.

Not shabby, but as I told a friend over wine and pizza last night, it’s sort of lost it’s thrill. The first year, every round number was a milestone – 5,000 (longer than the short stories I used to write), 10,000… by 20,000 I was practically doing handstands. This year it’s a little harder to get excited about. For one thing, I need to be more ahead than I am. I’m roughly 500 words ahead of schedule. If feel like I need at least three days worth of words if I’m going to get through holiday travel. Blargh.

For another thing, I’m officially past the shiny new beginning and into the doldrums of the middle. I’ve lost my sight for what’s going to happen next. I’ve lost my enthusiasm.  In short, and to borrow from John Green’s pep talk, I’m drinking from a giant bowl of suck.

I so need Jillian Michaels right now.

Anyway, not much else to report. Even my reading and viewing habits have fallen by the wayside. I haven’t read anything this week, but I did re-watch the first season of Slings & Arrows, which if you haven’t seen, you should. So funny. So like theater life. Also, makes me fall so much in love with Hamlet. Seriously. Consider it writerly research and check it out.

Happy Writing.

‘Fess Up Friday: Surprises

As of this morning, the word count on the draft I’m writing for NaNoWriMo is 8,691. I’m not quite done writing for the day, but there you go.

As expected, I’ve been NaNo-ing I mean, engaging in the narcissistic commerce of writing all week long, with very little narcissistic commerce of revising to speak of. (Thanks to you, Ms. Miller, I have finally learned to spell narcissism correctly.)

Since there’s already enough negative NaNoWriMo energy going around the blogosphere these days, let’s talk about some of the great things NaNo has done, yes? There are many benefits to NaNoWriMo including encouraging discipline, getting a first draft out of it, bringing together a community to cheer you on. As for me, the biggest benefit of NaNoWriMo this week is that it has shed some light on my process as a writer.

I mentioned in a previous entry that I had two ideas I was kicking around for NaNo: one that was just a seed of an idea and one that was more fleshed out. I went with the seed. It just felt right. Now, rewind to earlier this year. My SCBWI chapter had a run of talks about scene and structure and there was a lot of talk about the benefits of plotting out your novel before you write it. (For a crash course in plotting, check out Hélène Boudreau’s blog, “Plotting… OCD Style

So, on the heels of all this great advice, I decided I was going to write my next novel outline style. I took a week and mapped out the entire thing. I made chapter summaries;I had an inciting incident, and plot points 1, 2, and 3; I knew the ending. I sat down to start writing and made it through the first chapter before taking a couple of days off. I wasn’t feeling it. I started it up again, trying to cheer myself on with the reminder that I already had a climax and an ending. I wrote a couple of scenes into chapter two and was just done. Between the move and everything else, I never went back to the project.

And now I know why. I like surprises. I like fly by the seat of my pants drafting. I like to follow my characters through twists and turns . It’s happened to me every day this week. Just as I think about moving my characters from Place A to Place B, one of my characters picks up her backpack and takes off to Place M. And suddenly a whole other piece of her world opens up. It’s kind of awesome.

(Not that I’m knocking the outline, by any means. Novels need structure and writers need to impose structure on their novels. I just find that it’s a more useful tool in revising than drafting.)

I suspect I’ve always known this, I just lost a little confidence in my process. The unknown can be scary, but for me it works. I’d like to write another thousand words today. Just this morning, my protagonist decided to cut school, outran the security guard, jumped in her truck and high-tailed it out of town. I can’t wait to find out where she’s going.


Paper Towns by John Green


Still with the Rock Band mania here. The Clash at Gallifrey is about to start our regional tour!

‘Fess Up Friday

It’s been a busy week. Actually, it’s still a busy week and I’m writing this in between my volunteer gig and making a mad dash to an afternoon happy hour (priorities, people!) and I don’t even have the time to come up with a sub-title for today’s ‘fess up.

Revision continued this week. I noticed today when I checked my to-do list that I’d anticipated editing up to chapter 10 this week. Ha. Hahahaha. How does that saying go? I love deadlines. I love the noise they make as they go flying by? I didn’t make it to chapter 10 this week and considering that the revision project is a total of 17 chapters, I think I was setting my expectations a little high thinking I’d be done with it in a week.

Actually, I got through chapter five this week. That sounds way more impressive than it actually is since the first five chapters are pretty darn finished. They still need polishing, of course, but I’ve yet to encounter any place within those chapters that is obviously missing a scene or something.

Which brings me to chapter six, which is obviously missing a scene. Ugh. There’s definitely something missing just after the ending of chapter five and the beginning of chapter six just isn’t cutting it. So I spent a good deal of this week trying to figure out what will go there. And of course, patching a hole in a manuscript is not like patching a hole in a pair of jeans. You can’t just cover it up and then have it be “fixed.” If you do it that way, it will always stand out. (Hm… maybe it is like patching a pair of jeans.) No, changing chapter six is going to change everything after that. I’m practically sewing a new pair of jeans.

Or, I’m just being overdramatic.

Anyway, as I’m sure you’re sick of me telling you, NaNoWriMo starts next week. I have no idea what to expect yet when it comes to blog posting, but I’m pretty sure you won’t hear from me again until mid-week at the earliest. Good luck to my fellow NaNo’ers! I can’t wait to hear about your progress.

Now for the fun stuff.


  • Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
  • Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
  • Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Nothing. Hubs and I have been playing Rock Band 3 pretty much non-stop. We are awesomely nerdy.

‘Fess Up Friday: In the Land of Maybe

Well, now. THIS is what a week is supposed to be like. I finally kicked the cold/allergy/alien infection or whatever it was that kept me down for the last couple of weeks and got back to work. Since then work has been divided into two distinct categories: revision and maybe.

The revision is pretty straight forward, though very slow going. After I finished the second draft of Prodigal back in May, I printed out a copy, put it in a three-ring binder and let it rest for a couple of months. This week I pulled it off the shelf and began reading it just as I would any other book, but with a pen in hand. I covered about half the book, spending quite a bit of time making notes as vague as “put more stuff here” and as specific as changing language and rewriting entire pages. I think I’ll call this the hard copy phase of my revision process.

I realize it would be way more efficient to pull up the document and do all this revising on the computer, but I seem to work better off a hard copy. For one thing, it helps me turn on editor brain. I’ve trained myself to have writer brain in front of a blank page on the computer screen and I don’t want to confuse the two. Also, I find it’s better to let my proposed revisions marinate before making them permanent. I’ve learned this one the hard way, but that’s another story for another time.

The other thing I’ve been dealing with is the approach of NaNoWriMo. I’m doing it for the third year and possibly against my better judgment. Unfortunately, I’ve been wrestling with which idea to work on in the allotted month. There are two contenders: both contemporary YA pieces. One has been floating around in my head for about a year now and exists in snippets of freewriting here and there in my notebooks. The other appeared within the last few months and has no plot to speak of and several significant characters are missing names. I’m not even sure of what it’s about, though I am exploring that in my morning pages.

Anyway, all this thinking means that when wasn’t revising this week, was in the land of maybe. The land of maybe (apologies to Russell T. Davies) is that happy place where the ideas are flowing, but have not yet wilted by having to commit them to paper. It’s a lovely place to be because it means you can zone out in front of the back window with an apple slice at your lips until your husband comes along and asks what exactly you’ve been doing, staring into space for the last ten minutes, and then you get to say, “writing.” In the land of maybe, anything is possible. Your hero can be a magician or a ninja. Or both! Your characters are alive and real and not marred by the inconsistencies between chapter 2 and 12. And you are the Best Writer Ever. As I said, great place to be, but you can’t live there and I’ve only got another week before I have to start making some very real decisions, starting with which idea to work on.

So that’s what a semi-productive week looks like around here. Now for the obligatory media consumption:

The Astonishing X-Men Omnibus by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont


(Yeah, there’s a theme. When I get hooked on a topic, I get hooked bad. Playing in a different genre sandbox than what I’m currently writing in is also a little helpful.)

‘Fess Up Friday: The FAIL week

Well, that didn’t go well.

Remember last Friday when I was all, “Tra-la, tra-la! I’m feeling better and birds are singing and sickness will not get me down?” Well, I spoke too soon. Friday was fine. Great, in fact. On Saturday, I felt like I’d been trampled by a herd of elephants in my sleep and the feeling did not go away until Wednesday afternoon. Whatever it was that I got last week was not through with me yet.

So I guess I answered my own question. Yes, writers take sick days. I ended up taking a sick week, since the minute I actually started feeling better, I had to run all the errands and work on all the paying assignments I’d put off since Saturday, including a critique of a fantasy piece that has me all excited for my crit partner. Work on my own projects definitely fell by the wayside, but I took a lot of heart in a comment Adina West left last week about how watching a good film or two counts as inspiration for later writing. This is so true. I draw a lot of inspiration from films and television shows. To me, a well-told story is a well-told story; it doesn’t matter if I read it or watch it. It even makes me a little sad when people, especially other writers scoff at television as if it were a lesser medium. I feel sad for everything they’ve missed out on: The Wire, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, just about anything written by Joss Whedon…

What tv shows, movies, or other forms of media inspire you? Comics? Art? Puppets?

And on that note, I managed to do a lot of reading and watching television this week. Here’s what I


  • The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson
  • The Wishbones, Tom Perotta
  • Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto, Eric Luper


  • 30 Rock, Season 4 (Yeah, the entire thing. I mentioned I was sick, right?)
  • Friday Night Lights, Eps. 4×1 – 4×6

And a reminder for any of you Austin (or nearby) types out there that might be reading this. The Texas Book Festival is this weekend at the Capitol. The author list is pretty amazing: Laurie Halse Anderson, Scott Westerfield, Holly Black, Justin Cronin, Varian Johnson, and well, too many to name. I plan to be out there for as long as my health holds up. You can follow me on Twitter for updates.

Happy Writing!


‘Fess Up Friday: The sick day edition

‘Fess Up Friday coming up just as soon as I . . . a – A – ACH-OO!

The week started out productively enough. I restarted this blog, I did some work on my work-in-progress, I finished up a couple of critiques, and I read like a fiend. By Wednesday I was happily trucking along, making big plans for the rest of the week. I could easily churn out another 1,000 words on my WIP. I could finally sit down and polish my query. But then on Wednesday night, I was sniffling and coughing. By Thursday afternoon, I was zombiefied and wondering, do writers get sick days?

I’ve always wondered this. At my corporate job, it wasn’t even a question. If I felt bad or the least bit contagious, I’d call in, maybe check my email, and spend the rest of the day recuperating on the couch with my kitties and a healthy dose of reality television. It’s a sick day, right? It’s meant to be spent vegging out and melting your brain. But since I quit corporate to write full time, I don’t know how to handle these days, as evidenced by the crushing guilt I felt flipping between Netflixed episodes of 30 Rock and Arrested Development. (Okay, maybe the guilt wasn’t crushing, but every once in a while I definitely felt like I should be writing.) At the same time, my brain was definitely switched to Off. Reading didn’t hold my concentration and my one attempt at the WIP resulted in just moving a couple of articles around.

I’m curious about how other writers handle sick days. Do you write through the headache/fever/cold? Do you try to do something productive but not taxing, like visit blogs or do agent research? Do you just scrap it all and set up shop in front of the television?

For the record, I’m feeling better today. Definitely closer to 60% human, I’d say. Unfortunately, I lost a morning to de-germifying the sheets and house even though Hubs seems to have it, too. I see more Lysol in my future, I’m sure.


Okay, now for the fun stuff.  It’s Friday, what is Chicklit…


  • Room by Emma Donoghue
  • Bras & Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski
  • After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy


  • Mad Men, “Hands and Knees”
  • American Teen
  • The Greatest
  • Iron Man 2


Happy Writing!