Friday, October 30, 2009


Before I head off to Boston for the weekend (to end the most wonderful month of October) I wanted to send my best wishes to all of you participating in NaNoWriMo!

I had a goal of finishing my first draft by Oct. 1st and setting it aside in order to have some fun writing out an idea that's been marinating for a while during NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, I still haven't finished that dreaded draft and I booked a trip to Provence for 8 days instead! :-)

I must say stuffing my face with wine, baguettes, and cheese sounds like a better way to spend the month but, er, uh, I's awesome to write a novel in 30 days! Woohoo!

I hope that any of you who actually read this blog (Who are you anyway? Does anybody read this?) will let me know all about your experience writing this month. I love the idea of a writing frenzy and WOW WOW WOW to writing frenzies that last entire month.

God speed!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest

Anyone writing a Young Adult novel should check out the YA Novel Discovery Contest:

Serendipity Literary Agency, in collaboration with Sourcebooks and Gotham Writers' Workshop, is hosting its first Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition for a chance to win a one-on-one consultation with one of New York's leading YA literary agents! If you've written a novel for young adults—or have an idea for one that you would like to write—we invite you to enter our contest. Simply submit only an enticing title along with the first 250 words from the opening of your original YA novel. There's no entry fee or purchase requirement.

Despite the fact that I'm not even finished with the first draft of my novel, I am seriously thinking about writing another one! Which is rather silly. But I'm doing it anyway. And because it's a YA novel, I'm toying with the idea of entering this contest. It would be very amusing for me (not to mention highly unlikely) to win it because it rewards you with a full manuscript critique. Being that I have no manuscript, it would be a rather difficult prize to redeem. lol. And yet, I am tempted anyway.

Good luck to those who enter! May you have a better idea of what you're doing than I do! ;-)

Monday, October 26, 2009


I decided not to write at all last week. I spent the week travelling for work, celebrating my birthday, entertaining out of town guests, and hanging out with my parents. Some free moments were spent at the gym, catching up on episodes of Top Chef and Brothers and Sisters, and riding the Gears and Grubs ride on a beautiful fall day.

In the back of my head, there was a constant, nagging, anxious feeling. Because time spent doing all of that meant time spent not writing

(I apologize in advance for the whining that is about to ensue...)

This is something I have experienced for the past 8 years. After I graduated college, I decided to take the time to focus on my writing and worked on my MFA at Boston University. This was a time dedicated completely to writing what I wanted, when I wanted. But it always meant that, if I wasn't writing, I really should have been. And this is a feeling that has prevailed since then.

When I completed my MFA, I tucked a lot of work into a drawer. I needed to find a job and I did not know how to find a job writing. I worked in television production and soon found myself working full time at a design and animation house where I worked with a lot of creative people and spent 0% of the time doing anything creative myself. I just 'made sure' of things. Made sure we had shooting locations, a cast, a crew. Made sure we were stocked with tissues, ink cartridges, and pens.

As soon as I started to feel unhappy there, I went back to writing at night and on the weekends (I am not a morning person :-). I wrote short stories and tried to get them published. In that time, I got one writing gig. I wrote a piece for a travel website and got paid $75. It was the first time I had ever been paid to write anything. I was given another 'assignment' and I had no motivation to do it. I made a conscious decision not to write that article and, to this day, I'm not sure why.

Soon after that, I got my current job working at a toy company. The job description had the words 'writer', 'write', and 'writing' in it, and that was my only criteria. Now, I spend 30% of my job writing, and 70% of it 'making sure' of things. At the time, it was a step up.

Exactly one year ago, I decided to write a novel. Turns out, when you have a limited amount of time to write, those hours count more than anything. These are also the hours I need to eat, sleep, exercise, and enjoy myself. But it means that every hour I spend doing those things, is an hour spent not writing. And I think about that every time I partake in another activity. It's a dull ache and it squirms around asking: why aren't you writing?

I don't like that feeling. How can you go through life feeling that way?

But it means I'm at another crossroads. The 30/70 ratio is just not enough. How do you make it so that the day job is 100% about 'making sure' your writing and nothing else? I wish I knew.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh boy!

Guess what? I am the proud owner of a snuggie!
I think I made my feelings about snuggies quite clear here.

Cheers! I am classy and I wear a snuggie.

Come my people. Come to the land of the snuggie.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Triple Bypass

 So here's a question, what happens when what your writing needs major surgery? I'm not talkin' an appendectomy. I'm talkin' triple bypass. Total lobotomy.

I woke up this morning completely distressed. As I near the end of my first draft, I realize that that the math I so proudly spoke of isn't exactly adding up. I want to write more words, but I'm completely lost. Things that happened earlier should be happening now. Things I have yet to write should have happened ages ago. Character arcs have nasty right angles in them, some of them fall off like an undecided rainbow. Relationships are not making sense. Ways I thought this novel should end suddenly make zero sense with all that's come before.

I'm not happy about this. I like to write with a linear path in mind. But I woke up this morning with the realization that this simply may not be possible. And it nearly sent me running for the hills.

I wanted to do something unthinkable: not finish. [gasp]

I can think of a thousand reasons why that would be a good idea. I'm not going to throw in the towel but, seriously, it would be a lot easier that way.

So, I'm asking you: What do you do when your novel needs to go in for surgery?
I need action verbs, people. I need strategery.

Why do I feel like I should do something with flashcards? Is there a flashcard method to this? Should I be going to the library and pulling an all-nighter? Echinacea? I've never done anything like this before. What happens when you enter crisis mode?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tuesday Books for Writers! My Life In France

My Life In France
by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme
Especially read this if you're writing:
A memoir
A biography
About travelling
About food
A cookbook

I found this to be a difficult book to do a Tuesday Books for Writer's post. It's a genre I don't normally read. And as I read it, I wonder how to describe the narration. When trying to describe the writing, I automatically look to the writer. But, while this story is told from Julia Child's point of view, it was technically completed after her death by Alex Prud'homme. Of course, it's based on extensive research, conversations, interviews, and letters with Child herself. But for some reason, I can't get past the fact that someone other than Julia would write something trying to sound like Julia.

Despite this weirdo struggle of mine, the book is absolutely fascinating. I do feel that Julia is telling me her story and I am eating it right up-- no pun intended.
But in sitting down to write this post, I really had to ask myself: why is this book good for fiction writers? Is it even any good for someone not writing a memoir? The prose isn't anything special. The timeline is linear, but I often feel that transitions are rough. I often question why one particular anecdote is told in light of the actual plot and I fail to see a lot of connections between the two. And yet, the anecdotes are what make it interesting. The 'characters' are wonderful, but are often not elaborated upon enough. So, what can a fiction writer take from this besides a factual account of Julia Child's life? Beyond Julia being an inspirational person in general, what should you take from this book?
I thought really hard about this one. And it turns out, I was thinking much too much. It's right there in the title. My Life In France! The spirit of a place! The spirit of a particular person in that place! It is captured magnificently in this book. After reading this, if you don't immediately want to book a trip to Paris, drink every glass of wine that Julia sipped, eat at every restaurant Julia sat in, meet every delightful person Julia met in France, well, I'd wonder a little bit about you. As with everything about Julia Child, her enthusiasm and passion for life, particularly the one she led in France, simply leaps off of the page.
And so I realized, wherever my protagonist may be, I better let them experience it to the fullest. Even if they hate where they are. The things they see and do always have to reflect that. My readers should want to spit out every sip of wine my main character takes if she hates the restaurant (I'm really digging the wine analogy)
So, if you're a fiction writer- still read this book! Julia Child is a fascinating and inspiring person, and she really knows how to let a place become a character.
Thank you Julia! Thank you Alex Prud'homme! Especially because you have an apostrophe in your name. That's pretty kewl.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ahead of myself

If I only have 63,000 words for a 75,000 word goal....Of a FIRST draft....that needs ridiculous amounts of work once it's completed.... Can someone tell me why I am planning a 2nd novel? Somebody slap me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Word Dump

This morning on the New York City subway Tyler mentioned that he read my October post. He asked: Did you refer to our hike as glorious?

Why, indeed I did. I also used the adjectives: lovely, fabulous (2X), and wonderful. Not my finest word choices but, well, there they went. From the brain to the page in a glorious, fabulous, wonderful word dump.

In one of my writing workshops, one of the writers in my class was really concentrating on voice at the moment we were workshopping. She was worried about the narrative voice and admitted to letting other things slide. I remember the instructor encouraging her: That's fine. I mean, you can't do everything all at once. That really hit me. No, you can't. You can't do everything.

For my first draft, I have concentrated on moving plot forward and developing character and place. This means, I've let a lot of other things slide. I've had some back-story fall to the waste-side, I've practically ignored the concept of time all together, I've severely limited scenes that require in- depth research, and I've let my prose become a virtual word dump. I can't stand the idea of belabouring over one measly word. I just don't have the stamina right now. I also don't have time for dialogue stamps (is there an official name for this?). I'm not interested in bemoaning quietly or anything like that. He said. She said. Works for now.

This means that my sentences are currently adjective-less or they resort to something ridiculous like glorious. I think I've also used the word ridiculous A LOT. In fact, that may be my crutch word. Lots of strange things happen in my novel and there's only so many times you can refer to it as ridiculous without it becoming ridiculous.

It should be noted, I don't like to work this way. I have never word-dumped like this in my life. I used to not be able to move to the next sentence without the previous one being absolutely perfect. And, you know what? When I got to the end, I still had to edit. It was painful. Taking on this novel, I worked like that for the first few chapters, but as things progressed, I realized the entire beginning is going to have to change anyway so I'm not going to sit there and waste time over the perfect word. Not now. Not just yet.

I just have to keep reminding myself, and it does take reminding, (especially after I frown over using the word ridiculous for the millionth time) that you can't do everything.

Monday, October 5, 2009


In case you didn't know it... October is here! I know I'm 5 days late with my announcement, but hopefully you didn't suffer alone in the dark thinking it was September 35th.

October excites me for several reasons:

1. The leaves change color.
2. The sky is bluer.
3. The sun is brighter.
4. You get to dress up in costume and eat candy.
5. It is my birthday month (yes, I get a whole month)

It makes me want to pick apples off of trees, frolic through fields of pumpkins, take hay rides, drink cider, go hiking, go biking, and just get it all in before it gets damp and cold and evil come December.

Yesterday I went for a glorious hike in Cold Spring, NY where I saw a lot of earthworms and a tiny snake. This coming weekend I celebrate Jessie and Stephen's engagement in the lovely Washington DC. And the rest of the month I have all kinds of activities involving Tyler's family visiting, my fabulous Boston friends hitting up the BK, and general raucousness throughout this fabulous time of year.

October is particularly exciting because of some other birthdays:

My wonderful friend Lynn, who will always be 7 days older than me no matter what.

And my Dad, who will always remain 32 years older than me but born 7 days later.

I like the to be sandwiched in the middle, just like a Libra should be, balanced and fair.

Happy October everyone!