Category Archives: Time and Space

Look! New writing corner!


Look! New writing corner! For Christmas, my mom got me a fantastic stand-up/sit-down desk and now I have this amazing writing nook in my room. I’m in love. ???

Via:: Tumblr to WordPress

Now I start reminding myself what it’s like to write.


Notebook and Netbook (c) Dmitri Popov

This month has essentially disappeared on me. I don’t know what happened or where it went. Most of it seems to have been eaten up by my day job and the rest of it consumed by sleep. I suppose. There’s really no other explanation.

What this also means is that I’ve hardly done any writing this month. I’ve done a couple rounds of edits on Sing Sweet Nightingale, but as far as actual writing goes… Maybe a couple thousand words? In the entire month? For me that’s the lowest word count in a month since… Well, since I started really working on the first draft of SSN. I’m not a firm believer in the “You must write every single day” law (I mean, come on. Everyone needs a break). HOWEVER, habits help a lot. Keeping yourself in the habit of writing makes it easier to slip in and out of that strange space in your head where dreamdemons walk right next to the heroine of a contemporary romance while they both watch a mage from a desert island train with a sword. Or is that just my head?

Whatever the case, I have to find that creative space again because I have revisions. Revisions on a fantasy project that will involve a lot of writing. New material and revamping current pages. Shifting interactions and deepening motivations and bringing to light all the strange facets of this world that popped into my head one day.

Want to know more about what I’m working on? Well, Maria from I Believe in Story recently asked me that very question. Visit her blog to see her Behind the Scenes post and get a little bit more about my fantasy, currently titled The Trial. Title totally subject to change, by the way. In fact, I will be SHOCKED if the book is published under that name. SHOCKED I TELL YOU. Because it sucks. But, for now, there’s Maria’s post and this fun little piece from the newly written beginning of the book. 😀

The wind shifts and I freeze, breathing deep. Tachi and I are protected by an outcropping of sandstone, so I don’t have to worry about a predator catching our scent. The chill in the air and the heavy scent of salt and brine is far more treacherous right now. We’re too far inland for the smell of the ocean to be this strong. The sun is too strong for the wind to carry even the slightest bite. It smells like a storm. A strong storm. And it’s the wrong season for a storm.

Shifting my weight and ignoring the sharp rock cutting into my bare feet, I look for a handhold that will get me to the top of this ledge. From that height, I should have a view straight over the plains and out to the ocean. I should be able to see if I’m right.

“What are you doing?” Tachi whispers. When I glance down, his eyes flick toward the south where we are supposed to rendezvous with the rest of our training group. “Sabre, we’ll be put to work in the underground farms if we go off task again.”

“So don’t follow me.”

That’s all for now, lovelies! I’m diving back into the desert with my deadly characters. 😀

Writing, professionalism, and qualifications.

Yesterday, I hovered somewhere between amused and annoyed as Twitter reacted to a post (2-5-14: Sorry… post no longer exists) on the Horror Writers of America’s (HWA) LA site titled Ten Questions To Know If You’re A Pro.

Originally, I found the site from a link by John Scalzi along with the comment that he answered no to almost every one of the questions on this list. Intrigued, I took a look for myself. The article itself was a tad off-putting, but not extreme. Then I saw the questions. Honestly, when I read them I kind of thought it was a joke. For reference, I put my answers in brackets.

1. Is your home/work place messy because that time you’d put into cleaning it is better spent writing? [Uh, no? Once my house hits a degree of messiness above mildly disorganized, I clean. no matter what deadline I’m on]

2. Do you routinely turn down evenings out with friends because you need to be home writing instead? [No. Partially because most of my friends live in other parts of the country so they don’t offer nights out all too often for me to turn down, but the answer would remain the same anyway. You won’t have friends soon enough if you never see them]

3. Do you turn off the television in order to write? [TV, yes. But I have to have something in the background. If I’m at home it’s either a movie or music. If I’m out in the world the white noise of conversation around me is enough]

4. Would you rather receive useful criticism than praise? [Yes. This is definitely part of treating your writing professionally]

5. Do you plan vacations around writing opportunities (either research or networking potential)? [No! That is NOT the point of a VACATION]

6. Would you rather be chatting about the business of writing with another writer than exchanging small talk with a good friend? [Nope. I often chat about writing with my friends because they ask how things are going, but I’m equally interested in what’s going on in their non-writing lives]

7. Have you ever taken a day job that paid less money because it would give you more time/energy/material to write? [I haven’t been faced with this choice yet, but depending on the circumstances I might say yes. Especially right now when I have so many writing projects in the works]

8. Are you willing to give up the nice home you know you could have if you devoted that time you spend writing to a more lucrative career? [Really? Way to assume that a) my writing won’t be successful or lucrative and b) that I have an alternative career option that would be better for me. I don’t. It’s not like I can just fall back on my law degree to make money. I don’t have one]

9. Have you done all these things for at least five years? [Uh, yeah? I’ve held all these views for the past five years]

10. Are you willing to live knowing that you will likely never meet your ambitions, but you hold to those ambitions nonetheless? [What?! Look, it’s one thing to continuously give yourself new goals and dreams as you achieve your ambitions, but to live doubting on your own ability to meet ANY of your ambitions? What kind of life is that? Why would anyone want to live like that?!]

If you answer yes to every one of those questions, chances aren’t that your a professional writer. Chances are that you’re on the verge of being committed by concerned family and friends. Or the police are about to bust through your door and find a dark, dingy apartment full of newspaper clippings and scary ramblings pinned to the walls like wallpaper.

Author Brian Keene has already done an in depth discussion of the article on HWA and I suggest reading his post to make yourself feel better about what it means to be a professional. But I do have my own little bit of opinion to tag on to this conversation.

If you want to be a writer, you have to treat your writing professionally. There’s no doubt about that. You have to network and promote and write when you’d rather be doing almost anything else. To make a career out of telling stories, you have to do all of those things. However, never, ever get so sucked into writing that the rest of your life disappears. What are you writing about if not life? If you disappear into your writing cave from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, you’ll wring yourself dry within a year. Being professional means meeting your deadlines, producing quality work, being considerate to other writers, and collecting money in some form for the books/stories/articles/scripts you create. That’s it. Everything you do in between doesn’t count when asked “Are you a professional writer?”

One of things I love about writing is that there AREN’T RULES. Sure there are grammar rules and storytelling rules and whatever. I’m not talking about that. What I mean is that there aren’t rules for how you have to work to make this writing thing happen. Want to only write one book a year and write it only on the weekends? Go for it. Want to produce three novels, four novellas, and a screen play in twelve months? More power to you if you can manage it without cracking. Enjoy writing while playing Disney movies on loop in the background? Great! Or do you prefer writing with pen and paper in the middle of a forest with not another human in sight? That works too.

One of the fabulous things about this industry is that the HOW doesn’t matter. What you do in between book releases DOESN’T MATTER. The fact that you have book releases? That’s what counts. The only qualification you need to meet to be considered professional is your work. Everything else is meaningless.

/end rant/

Not letting the stress get to you.

Don’t stress is simple, good advice. It’s also really hard to follow.

Frustrated (c) Charlie Balch

Letting things roll off my back is something I learned to do the hard way. I used to stress about everything until I reached the point where I just couldn’t handle that anymore. Looking back from that moment, I finally saw that none of those little things I’d worried myself to death over really mattered. I’d freaked myself out over nothing. A lot.

What I learned to do is pick a handful of things that are important–really, actually important. Everything else can come or go as it pleases.

Except, sometimes, it doesn’t work like that.

Sometimes, if enough little stuff clogs up your life at once you can start to freak out because all you can see if e never-ending line of things you have to do or things about to go wrong.

I had one of those moments yesterday. It wasn’t a ton of fun–I definitely could have done without it–but with a night of sleep I’m a little calmer today. But still, knowing I need to just let things unfold and actually doing it is… hard. The next few months are so jam-packed it seems like the only way to make everything work out the way I want it to is to give up sleep completely. And since that’s not happening (I am an awful person when running on too little sleep), I have to decide whether or not I can live with letting my work in certain areas slide.

Whatever happens, it’ll definitely be an interesting couple of months. Let’s hope I make it to May with sanity intact!

NaNoWriteNoMore or How November Took Over My Life.

Eating My Own Words (c) Ry Young

This is where I should be in my NaNo count: 23,333

This is where I am in my NaNo count: 11,983

This is what my brain is currently doing: ksufgh sahgakj.dbh

Looking back at last year, I honestly have no idea how I managed to write an entire book in a month. And not a 50,000 word book. The first version of Sing, Sweet Nightingale clocked in around 106,000 words. Where did I find the time? I don’t remember sleeping much that month, so that might be it. I also didn’t travel at all, so that helped.

It’s not like I don’t have ideas. I have full outlines for all three projects I’m working on this month (and let’s pause for a moment to appreciate the absolute oddity of that occurrence… me? Outlines? What?). I know where the stories are going and every time I sit down to write words appear. They may not flow like Niagara Falls onto the page, but they at least trickle like a creek. There’s forward movement every time and that’s the important part because I could be stalled completely and I’m not. Yay for that, at least.

Can I still catch up to the goal and at least hit 50,000 by the end of the month? Yes, I think I can. But it won’t be easy. Things keep seem to pop up that eat away at writing time. Things like deadlines and day jobs and holidays. But life will always do this to us, so I look at it as a challenge. If I want to be able to call writing my day job one day, I need to be able to make it work despite what life throws at me or what distractions pop up. Even despite Pinterest. (But, speaking of, I’m totally in love with my boards right now and you should absolutely go check them out here.)

So, November, I will take your challenge. And I’ll beat it. Because I’m a writer and nothing can change that now.

At this time last year I was…

Agenda 3 (c) Dragan Rusov

For some reason it hit me yesterday that a year has passed.

“Well, of course it has,” you say. “Technically a year has passed every single day.”

True, but it’s more significant this month, at least to me. This is National Novel Writing Month and this is the month where everything started changing for the better very quickly in my life.

Quickly is a relative word, especially when we’re talking about writing and the publication process, but looking back I have to admit that everything did happen very fast. “How so?” you ask. To illustrate, here’s a recap of my year from November 2011 to November 2012:

November 2011: Begin writing novel version of Sing, Sweet Nightingale for NaNoWriMo
December 2011: Go back through SSN and make significant changes because, you know, first drafts and all.
January 2012: Frantically try to polish first 30 pages to submit to writing contests; squeeze in under the deadline of said contests and then try to forget I entered them
February 2012: Begin planning trip to BEA in NYC
March 2012: Find out SSN is a finalist in one of the previously mentioned contests
April 2012: Finalize plans for BEA 2012
May 2012: My birthday! Also, I find out SSN won the Marlene Award!
June 2012: Attend BEA. Crash a party at Lani Woodland’s insistence. Meet Danielle and Patricia. Send Danielle and Patricia my book. Have first Skype call with Danielle and Patricia about possible revisions.
July 2012: SSN officially becomes a future publication from Spencer Hill Press!
August 2012: Get so-called preliminary edit instructions that somehow turn into a rewrite project. Spend month stressing.
September 2012: See August
October 2012: Send SSN revision off to betas and CPs. Breathe sigh of relief. Later this month, spend ten hours in one week on Skype with Lani plotting books 2 and 3. Even later this month, do more tweaks on SSN and send book plus new outlines plus notes plus other random goodies to Danielle and Patricia
November 2012: Send EVEN MORE goodies to Danielle and Patricia. Wait with barely concealed anticipation/eagerness/terror/etc. for scheduled editorial Skype chat. Also, begin NaNo, this time working on three projects at once including the as yet untitled Dream War Saga Book 2.

That has been my writing-related year. I did other things too–finish first drafts of two different contemporary YA projects I really love, write a short story in TDWS universe, connect with the amazing Twitterverse of writerly people, and other things I can’t even think of right now–but the timeline above are my big moments and why realizing a year has passed since last November is a nostalgic moment for me. November is also the home of Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday!), so I wanted to take this time to have a gratefulness moment. Sometimes it may feel like the ultimate goal (holding a physical copy of my book) is so far away, but at least the end is finally in sight. I’m working with editors I adore and I have a support network who is amazing. All-in-all, this past year has been very good for me. I’m even on track to knock out most of my New Years Resolutions! 2012 was great, 2013 will be even better, and I have high hopes that 2014 will be a banner year!

Don’t forget to enjoy the moment you’re in. You never know when you’ll suddenly be standing a year in the future going, “Wow. Remember when…?”

Why I’ve been MIA this week.

Rosebud (c) Petria Follett

I come bearing a flower to apologize for my absence this week! I knew going into it that October was going to be insanely busy, but now that I’m in the middle of the mess, I can see I underestimated the time crunch of my schedule. Just to give you an idea, October is the busiest month of the year at my day job and I’m also:

– editing a book for a friend that clocks in around 148,000 words (it’s a sci-fi epic).

– drafting a book with Lani.

– plotting books two and three of The Dream War Saga.

– costume shopping for the Hunger Games production I’m trying to put together.

– attending a baby shower and an out-of-town wedding.

I will definitely check in when brain power and time allow, but until the beginning of November the posts may be a little more sporadic than usual. On the plus side, it seems like summer is finally loosening it’s grip on South Florida! Today was the first time I drove with my windows down since about the middle of May. Here’s hoping it stays cool for the rest of the month! 😀

Enjoy October, lovelies!

The internet is not your private diary, kay?

Tooootally meant to post earlier than this but… obviously that didn’t happen. I’m here now, though! So let’s see if i can get my thoughts together enough for an actual post.

Black Notebook With Pencil (c) Typofi

With a few things I’ve read online recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about posting and the internet and people. Not necessarily in that order. This is partially because of two articles, one, of course, from

The Cracked article is actually about why you shouldn’t post embarrassing pictures of your friends online, but in my experience people don’t need their friends’ help to embarrass themselves. A lot of people do it on their own and post things in public I wouldn’t even share with my closest friends. All I can ask myself is, WHY?!

I am naturally shy, so maybe that’s one of the reasons over-sharing on the internet has never appealed to me, but I seriously question some people’s sobriety when I read or see things online. Yes, I know being an idiot or embarrassing yourself can get your internet fame, but is it really worth it? Even after you take something down, once it’s posted, it’s out there. Maybe someone saved it to their computer. Maybe Google archived it. You never know when that picture or video or story you thought was long gone suddenly comes back to bite you. And that’s a threat that won’t disappear until something like Revolution happens.

Celebrities and other public figures have to be even more careful than the general public. Just look what happened when poor Prince Harry let his guard–and his pants–down for a while. Even though it may not feel like it sometimes (like when you’ve been locked in your office drafting for six months), authors are public figures. We gather fans and people listen to what we have to say. This means you have to think about what you post online and make sure most people are going to read it the way you meant it to he heard. The internet isn’t always the best place for sarcasm, especially if you can’t remember some jokes don’t translate well without inflection. Sometimes, though, it’s not a joke. Sometimes authors can inadvertently (I’m giving the benefit of the doubt here) start a war just by talking.

A friend of mine sent me a link to a post by a blogger and book reviewer named Corey Ann. This post (which is kinda long) details an entire series of events that blew my mind. What happened here is the exact thing I’m talking about above, something everyone in the public eye has to watch out for. Basically, Corey Ann got caught in a flame war between various factions surrounding author Emily Giffin. Whether or not she meant them to be, Emily made some comments that, ON THE INTERNET (please note the emphasis), came off in a very negative way. Maybe she was joking. Maybe she didn’t think about how the lack of tone would translate. Maybe she meant exactly what she said. I don’t know. All I know is that inadvertently or on purpose she ended up siccing her fans on Corey Ann and another reviewer. Things got so out of control Corey Ann actually received threatening PHONE CALLS. Which means people tracked her down in person to yell at her. That is crossing the line so far you’re not even in the same county as the line anymore.

The point is, things like this can happen. In an age where all it takes is a couple of tweets or status updates to start a riot, you have to be EXTRA SUPER DUPER CAREFUL about everything you post online. The internet is a tool. Use it like one. And also, no matter how private your privacy settings, don’t count on privacy. The next generation of hackers is always smarter than the last and you never know when something meant for your eyes only ends up being public fodder. Basically, just try to remember the internet is not your diary, kay? That’s what bookstores sell journals for.

Decisions, choices, and sacrifices.

There May Be Trouble Ahead 2 (c) B Cleary

There is no right way to get where you want to go. At least, not when we’re speaking metaphorically. There are methods that make the most logical sense, but there’s always at least one story about someone who went in the complete opposite (and seemingly roundabout) direction and ended up being wildly successful. The point is, you have to find the path that works for you.

This is good, general advice for life, but right now I’m thinking about it more in the context of writing and the choices writers have to make early in their careers. Most authors will warn you not to quite your day job too early, but what about switching jobs? Cutting back? Giving yourself something with fewer hours and less stress and making do with less money for a while? That’s what I’m considering right now. Cause, in the end, being happy is a lot more important than extra money, yes? Plus, I’m counting on the possibility that one day what makes me happy will be bringing in my extra money. 😉

The delusions of a part-time writer.

Typing Text by (c) Francisco Farias Jr

I have three jobs. Yes, three.

One is a full-time 8-5, Monday-Friday deal. This is what pays my bills and keeps me fed. It’s tangentially related to my chosen career path and gives me experience I could use to get a job in the fiction publishing world.

The second is part-time and doesn’t pay me a lot, but it’s something I’d do for free anyway. I teach dance classes–mostly modern, jazz, and lyrical although I am teaching an intermediate tap class this year. I spend my time here because of the physical benefits and because choreographing serves as another creative outlet. Which brings me to job number three.

I write. This job hasn’t paid me much of anything (yet), but I do it because I love it. I love creating stories and figuring out how to get these characters who start talking to me from where they are to where they need to be. Writing is the only job I’ve held for more than two years and it’s the only thing I can see myself doing in the future. But it doesn’t support me yet, and that’s a problem. Because I really wish it did.

Most weeknights, I try to get at least an hour of writing time in in-between dinner and things like laundry, cleaning, and whatever social occasions pop up.  On the weekends, however, I do everything in my power to make sure I don’t have to leave the house so I can lock myself in my writer’s cave. I get to delve into whatever world I’m working on for two whole days and I get to take breaks whenever my mind demands them. Basically, I get to work entirely on a schedule set by me and I get to pretend I can keep doing this every day of the week.

But then my alarm goes off Monday morning and that delusion vanishes. I go back to my 8-5 and work on very non-creative things until the next weekend rolls around.

Why am I writing about this? Because for some reason the shattering of the delusion was especially disappointing this weekend and I woke up late this morning and the week seems off to a shaky start. I’m also writing this as a reminder to all of the aspiring authors out there: very rarely is there a switch where one day you’re working three jobs and the next you’re a full-time writer. Selling your first book won’t necessarily do it (unless you somehow strike a Meyer-esque deal) and sometimes selling your third won’t do it. But slowly, over time, if you write well enough and publish often enough, you can get to the point where your only task every day is to sit down in front of the computer (or your notebook) and string words together in meaningful ways. It’s a dream, but it’s an attainable one. So keep pushing forward and we’ll get there eventually.