Friday, November 30, 2007

You'd better Belize it!

Tomorrow, JP and I head out for our first big vacation in two years. Yep, this time tomorrow we'll be in Belize! Scuba diving, reading, lounging, sleeping, editing, writing, drinking, eating, relaxing -- for a whole week!!!!! I can't wait! My bags are packed, I'm checked in online, passports are in my purse, and I have a fresh ARC of Mark Henry's Happy Hour of the Damned for entertainment.

Have I mentioned that I can't wait?! And that our resort's name is Xanadu?

Ahhhhhhh.... bliss...

I've already written my Tuesday Maven post on the myths we create that keep us from writing, don't miss it!

Happy writing everyone!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why aren't we writing?

What do we do when we're not writing? I just read a post by Michelle Rowan ( - Tues Nov. 27, 2007 -- I couldn't figure how to permalink) about the excuses we make not to write. She cites laziness and fear. As I said in the comments, when I got to the end of her post I wanted to shout out "Amen Sister!!" She totally nails it: what really stops us from writing? If writing is what we really want, why do we let anything stand in the way?

Back when JP and I decided to really go after our dreams of writing, we made some big changes in our life. The biggest is that we stopped watching a lot of TV (thank goodness for the DVR -- the biggest friend a writer can have!). Growing up, the default in the evening was always TV. Come home from school/work, eat dinner, watch the shows. At first, it was hard to give this up, but now I can honestly say I don't miss it. These days, we come home from work, eat, maybe watch one show, and then it's into the living room to sit in front of the fire and write.

Only, I haven't been writing. I've been doing other stuff. Reading, blogging, blog-hopping, etc. All things that I can honestly say do help me in my writing life, but still, not writing. A while back a few writers had a discussion on one of my loops about what "counts" as work when writing. I argued that it's like billing time as a lawyer: if I'd bill the client for that work, then it counts as "writing" even if it isn't technically writing. So doing research counts. Editing counts. Blogging counts. All of these things are geared towards my career. On the other hand, reading blogs is like reading trade magazines -- helpful but not billable. Same with fiddling with the blogger template for the 100th time.

I've been spending a lot of time recently (since April when I wrote The End) doing stuff that I think counts towards writing, but isn't writing. Most of it has to be done (editing, keeping up with industry trends) but a lot of it I use as an excuse. I'll spend 2 hours on the internet catching up with writers, writing life, etc., and feel like I've accomplished something. But have I really? Don't get me wrong, I lurve the internet community and I'm not about to give it up, but what does it help me to read a discussion between two strangers on AbsoluteWrite about some obscure writing craft tidbit that doesn't affect me?

I think I'm getting off on a tangent here... I think what struck me most about Michelle's post was the fact that so many people out there really want to write and to be writers, but who don't actually write. It's like dieting -- so many people want to lose weight and get in shape but just... don't. The difference is that it's easy to delude yourself into thinking that you're "writing" or working on a "writing career" but it's really hard to delude yourself into thinking that you're eating healthy when you've got a candy bar in your fist.

If we know what we want, what is stopping us? Why aren't we just sitting down and writing every day (probably the same reason that I'm not on the elliptical runner every day :) Why isn't it a given like brushing our teeth, going to work, taking out the trash. Actually, why isn't it something that we're craving to do every day -- why aren't we coming home from work, changing into comfy pants and shouting "Finally! Time to write! I'm so excited!"

What do you think keeps us from writing if that's what we really want?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday Maven

Today I'm over at the Manuscript Mavens discussing POV and author voice (and trying to figure out how to untwine the two). Come join us! Oh, and if it seems like I've been a bit quiet around here, blogger has been mad at me and refuses to let me comment :(

Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks

I have much to be thankful for over the past year. In thinking about it all this week, I think what I'm most thankful for is friends and family to share everything with. People say that writing is a solitary life, but I've found it to be just the opposite. I've met amazing and supportive people in the past year who have totally enriched my writing experience. These friends are always there to give advice, to listen to my fears and vents and questions, and just to gab about life and writing and everything in between. I'm so thankful for the online writing community and everyone who has accepted me with open arms.

I'm also thankful for my family who I think screamed louder than I did when they found out I'd sold my book. Who continue to ask questions about it and who are such big supporters. Who sat down and read my book even though zombies and YA isn't quite their thing. And who will plot with me :)

I'm thankful for my agent and editor who constantly blow my mind with their support and thoughtfulness. They really are amazing and I'm loving every minute of it.

I'm thankful for my new job, for finding that day job in the practice of law I've always wanted. Everyone I work for is so nice and helpful and friendly. I love feeling like a part of this team!

And of course, I'm thankful for JP. There are so many moments in life that I get to share with him.

I could go on... but I think there are some leftovers that need devouring :) So thanks to all of you for being a part of my community and for reading and commenting and supporting. Y'all make it all so worth-wile!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday Maven

Today I'm posting over at the Manuscript Mavens chatting about plotting boards and how I always fail at them. Come joine me!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Four Years

Today is JP's and I four year anniversary; as of today, JP and I have been dating for four years. We met in law school. In fact, we emailed before law school when people were looking to set up carpools and we lived in the same apartment complex. Then I was at the pool one day and he sat down and we spent a long time talking about writing and cats and being from South Carolina and all sorts of other things.

It was one of those conversations where it was way too easy to feel like you'd known the other person for years and consequently you felt like you could spill all your secrets. Law school being what it was at the time, we never spent a lot of time together after that. He was dating someone, I needed to get to know myself better, etc etc.

Then, during our second year I wrote an article for the law school newspaper. It just so happened that he was the editor of the section I was writing for. We started emailing and one day (I remember this SO SO clearly) I was standing in the library when I got an email from him and it cracked me up. I couldn't stop laughing. I'd sit down, do work, and then end up going back to check the email again just to get a good chuckle.

You know how sometimes someone does something that makes you look at them in a new light? Well, that's what that email was. Suddenly, I saw JP all over again. I started flirting (and boy are there some funny stories about that) and eventually we got together (more funny stories about that).

Growing up, even though I was an avid reader of romance novels and a romance writer myself, I'm not sure I really truly believed in true love. I certainly always believed that in real life, you settled.

JP has proved me wrong. Four years later he's my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my editor and he still cracks me up every day. And he's a damn good writer :) I am a lucky lucky woman. Thanks JP!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm a Maven now! & Agent/Author Communication

Hey y'all! Sorry for the late announcement, but surprise -- I'm a the newest member of the Manuscript Mavens!! You can read my first post (as an official Maven) introducing myself a little, here.

Today over on Fangs, Fur & Fey, Caitlin Kittridge has a great post up about talking to agents at all stages of the relationship. You know, when to follow up on partials, fulls, etc. I think it's a great post (though I think you should give an agent at least a week to get back to you when you let them know you have another offer of representation).

As I posted in the comments, I think the biggest key to a good agent/author relationship is communication. I'm not sure how my agent would feel about me comparing him to my boyfriend, but there is one rule that holds true in both dating and agent/author relationships: no one but you knows what you're thinking/expecting and it isn't fair to expect things from significant others/agents if you haven't told them you're expecting things.

Seriously, apply this rule to all areas of your life. I know, I know, most of us grew up on romance novels where the hero always knew what the heroine needed and just gave it to her without her having to ask. We all saw the Sex in the City episode where the ring Aiden picked out for Carrie was a test of how well he knew her. See, we all have these unspoken expectations. And it isn't fair to get mad at people because they don't know about those expectations. And just sometimes, we use these expectations of tests (if he really loved me he'd know that I liked my eggs sunny side up and not scrambled) and that's really not fair (unless you've really clearly expressed your egg preference and even then, that's not really a measure of love).

I hear stories of so many authors who are terrified of their agents. Who refuse to call, refuse to follow up, refuse to tell an agent how they feel or what they need. Now, I'm not advising that you go to your agent with a list of demands or that you shed tears next time you're on the phone. But if something bothers you, bring it up in a professional manner. Let them know what will help you be better at your job and figure out a mutual way of working together that will get the job done.

At the same time, be willing to listen to what the agent says will help them work. If you want a quick turnaround on a proposal, ask the agent if they can tell you when they'll be able to read it and then work towards that deadline. But hold up your end of the bargain and turn that proposal in on time.

Bottom line (and I know I've said this before) an agent/author relationship is a business relationship and should be approached professionally. But it often turns into so much more and you have to figure out a way to make it work for both of you. And the best way to do that is to communicate and express your expectations and come up with a way of satisfying both of you.

Of course, lots of things are easier said than done, but it's something to think about at least :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Contract! (part the second)

Yes, we all knew I'd be a big dork and wait to take a picture while I signed the contract. Thus, without further ado, here you have it:

It was a surreal and wonderful and amazing moment, seeing my name on a Random House contract.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekend Goals

This weekend, I edit.

Of course, I was up early and what have I done for the last hour? Blog hop. Post on writing forums. Seriously, how do I kick this addiction?!?

Oh, and for those of you who like sports, ESPN College Game day will be coming to you live from my college -- Williams!! Today we play our big rivals (we lovingly refer to them as The Defectors).

Go Ephs!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


So, my agent sent me my final contract today. I read it through, still mongo impressed by all of it (he did a fab job negotiating). All day I was thinking about how I was going to print it out and bring it home to sign and then just as I was leaving work I thought "oh, need to remember to print contract to take with me," but then thought, "why would I do that when I'd just need to bring it back to mail? I'll just print it tomorrow and send it straight off."

Forgetting that I wanted a picture of me signing the contract. It just feels like one of those milestones, you know? And I'd feel like a dork asking someone at work to take the picture... So do I put off sending the contract back just to get the photo op? Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Where things stand

Why is it that I have fantastic ideas of blog posts all day and then I get home, sit down at the computer for some hard core procrastination and I come up with nothing? I really want to write about how I came up with the idea of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and all about writing it, but I'm so tired right now I don't want to make it sound all boring and dull.* So, I'll hold off on that story for now...

Instead, you get a nice, boring update :) So... where are things now, you ask? I got an email from suber-uber agent Jim McCarthy today with a draft of the contract with Random House. What an amazing experience to open that up and see my name up there. And I still find it strange that no one is talking about book two. I'm sure we'll get there soon enough (and I already have an idea for what I want to write and another idea in case they don't like that one). So in my contract it's just "Untitled Book 2." And I feel like it's this pink elephant in the room cause... uh... they paid good money for that book and they know nothing about it. I try not to think about this, though, because I don't want to freak myself out.

I turn in edits to my editor, who really is super fun and enthusiastic and so amazingly great to work with, on Monday. According to her, we'll do a few back and forths and then it will hopefully go into copy-editing in mid-December so that it can come out in Spring 2009. If we miss the December deadline (and technically, my contract deadline is after that) then it's summer 2009 for us. But we're both really excited about it coming out in the Spring so I plan to do my part to make it so.

I was floored when my editor got me her editorial suggestions -- get this -- two days after the book sold. Super quick!! I'd heard so many horror stories about the editorial letter: pages and pages of single space issues to deal with. I'd heard of writers adding 20k words, adding new characters and sub-plots. My letter was like a dream! Only 6 points along the "give us more information about X" lines and to add more physical description (which I already knew was a weakness). I'm sure I'll have killer letters in my future, but so far things have been great. Of course, we'll see if I was able to address all the concerns once my editor gets a chance to read the new draft :)

So that's where things stand now. Just in case you were interested in what happens after the call. Now that I know the contract will be signed this year I'm busy planning ways to spend my advance (all on perfectly legal business related deductible items, of course). I found out that they'll want my author photo around February soooo... looks like I'll have to power up the old elliptical runner that we haven't used since we bought the house even though it takes up a good chunk of our den (lets hope it still works!).

JP has declared it NaStoWriMo -- National Story Writing Month -- and has pledged to write 25k words of short stories. He's doing awesome so far (though he's too lazy to use a word count meter) so go over and nag him/cheer him on. Seriously, comment on his blog and demand word count accountability!!

* Plus, I started Jennifer Lynn-Barnes' book Golden and want to get back to it!!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Changes 'Round here

As you can see, the blog looks different. That's because I updated it to the new google blogger easy to fix stuff template. See, most of the lists, colors, etc., were things that I'd gone in and coded by hand. I'm not good at coding. So with the update went my colors. At least I was able to save some of my lists!

The main reason I did this is so that it will be much easier to add links, books read, etc. I'll tinker in the code and get it looking all purty again soon, no worries. So for now, please pardon the dust. It was a rash decision made in the throes of procrastination :)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Weekend Goals! (updates in red)

For long time readers, you will remember that I used to use this blog as a quasi accountability system. I'd post my goals at the beginning of the weekend and then whether I'd met them or not, hoping that y'all would chastize me for falling short.

Well, it's time to start that up again! So, without further ado -- the weekend goals:
  1. the most uber important, if I get this goal none of the others matter: finish editing The Forest of Hands and Teeth (I'm so used to typing FHT or WIP that I forget I can actually type the title now - yay!!). I want to send this sucker to my editor on Monday! Still working on it...
  2. clean house; done (ish... well at least some of it is done)
  3. spray porch down; forgot about water restrictions - no spraying for us!
  4. take down AND put away Halloween decorations; JP took care of this -- he rocks!
  5. write blog posts;
  • read (doing some fun reading in anticipation of perhaps fun new project!). this was the easiest goal to meet!
  • I'd really like to participate in NaNo, but we all know the rules: FHT comes first. So I don't get to start NaNo until FHT is edited. Sigh...

    So what did I spend my morning doing? Reading this rant (and all 300+ comments!). What am I doing right now? Waiting for JP to finish editing a story so we can go drink Pumpkin beer. Natch, they were out of Pumpkin beer. Sigh. Off to a wondrous start, eh?

    Oh, and happy wedding day Diana and SB!!!