2015: Best Year Ever?

It’s New Year’s Eve. This time tomorrow, we will be at the start of a brand new year. Can you believe it? 2015 is almost gone, never to be seen again.

I hope your year was filled with all things that were good. I know mine was.

From start to finish, my 2015 was a lesson in changing and learning and growing. On a big picture level, there are a few things that stand out:

I wrote. A lot. Like, a lot, a lot.

At the beginning of the year, I attended a writing conference put on by the fabulous Capital City Writers Association, called Write on the Red Cedar. It was, hands down, the best conference I have ever been to. I paid extra for a workshop with Donald Maass, and, OMG guys, I learned so much. I went in to the workshop with my completed NaNoWriMo novel (the sequel to the one I had finished the year before), and when I left, I had a plan for rewriting the entire last half. That workshop was a game changer for the way I write.

As a side note, the CCWA is doing another conference in January, and this year's headliner is Bob Mayer. Interested? Ya better hurry. They're almost sold out!

So, I rewrote the last half of that book and turned it in to my wonderful writing group. The verdict? It was a solid first draft with minimal issues. The entire experience—writing that book, attending the conference, rewriting half of the book—guys, it changed me. As I’ve mentioned before, I spent a LONG time working on one book. Over and over and over and…well, you get the picture. I wrote that book so many times. I was stuck in a loop. When I decided to write something new last November, I had no idea how it was going to change me.

In about March, armed with notes from my writing group for revisions, I cracked open my manuscript, ready to revise. Only…I couldn’t. Because I had learned so much about writing and about my abilities as a writer, I knew I had to go back. I had to go back to that FIRST book. If I was going to present the two novels I had written as a series, then I had to rewrite book one. It didn’t match the tone, the voice, the everything of book two. So, with a sharp edge of hesitance, of nervousness, I rewrote book one. 

In July, I had MAJOR SURGERY!!!!! My gallbladder had been trying to kill me for a while and so I finally got that sucker yanked out. Life has been much less painful since.

I finished my rewrite somewhere around mid-August, and threw the whole thing to my writing group. At this point, it wasn’t even a rewrite. It was an entirely new book. The character names were the only constants between the new and old. And it was the right decision. My group loved it—of course, there were suggestions to make it better, but overall…I couldn’t have asked for a better critique.

From September to October, while putting together a plan of action for revisions, I went back to school. I finished one class before I decided that now was not the right time. I was finally onto something with my writing, I was excited, passionate, confident about it for the first time in forever, and I didn’t want to split my time between writing and school. It was a hard decision to make, because I don’t have much left for my Bachelor’s degree, and we all know writing ain’t a logical career choice (at least if you’re looking to quit your day job). But in the end, I had to follow my heart, and my heart was with the writing. It always has been.

So, I withdrew from school. One of these days, I’ll get back to it, finish up that degree. Hopefully by then, I’ll have a few published books under my belt.

Also in October, I took my first solo trip. I flew to New Jersey to spend a week with my best and oldest friend and her family. Jersey was beautiful, her boys were beautiful, and I finally got to see the ocean! 

It was a wonderful trip, and it gave me a confidence I needed to know that I COULD travel solo. Because that is a huge dream of mine: to hop on a plane aimed for Europe and see everything on my own. Now I know that I don’t suck at traveling.

In November, I started a new book. I didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo, but I got damn close. And by the end of the month, I had 42k’s worth of a new draft I was excited and passionate about. The third book in my series was well on its way.

Not to mention, my writing lobster and I rang in the end of NaNoWriMo the best way possible—in a cabin in the woods, no wifi for miles. It was gorgeous and inspiring. It has since been decided that this must become a tradition.

Now, at the end of December, the end of 2015, I have not added to my NaNo word count. Instead, I’ve spent the month rearranging what I wrote in November. Once I’ve got everything in its place, I’ll finish writing the book (even though I don’t have an outline, so I don’t know how it all ends), and then I’ll move on to revisions—for all three books. Because that’s not crazy or anything…

So…yeah. That was my year in a nutshell. 2015 just might be my most favorite year so far. 2016 is going to give it a run for its money, though. Which, let’s be honest, is a good place to be in.

Stay tuned for a “things I’m going to do in 2016” post.

How was your 2015? Do you have any big plans for 2016?

Crazy Little Thing Called Life

Life is crazy, you guys. Everything can change from day to day to day. The last year and a half of my life should have taught me that. Even still, I find myself being surprised by how much can change.

If this sounds ominous, it's not meant to. These most recent changes are all good ones, I swear.

First up, I withdrew from school. I'm only nine classes away from my Bachelor's degree, but throughout my first class, I found myself overwhelmed and unenthusiastic. I didn't want to take the class, and there were a billion things I could have been doing instead. And then the wheels started turning:

"Why am I doing this?"

"Do I really need this degree?"

"Do I want to put myself even further into debt for a degree I might not even need?"

"Why am I putting so much time and energy into this when I could be writing?"

It was the last question that struck me the hardest. I know I've mentioned a lot just how much writing I've been getting done lately, how much better that writing has gotten. How I feel like something has finally clicked into place. Did I really want to shove all that aside for something that didn't make me nearly as happy as the writing?

The answer: not even a little bit.

So, I withdrew from school.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't questioning myself. Years of hard work, student loans galore, only 9 classes to go. Why not just finish? Why put something as LOGICAL as school aside to focus on something as ILLOGICAL as writing? Shouldn't I be a grown up and make the responsible decision?

I can always re-enroll later. There is no guarantee that the writing will come as smoothly at a later time. The muse is a fickle bitch. I...I don't know. I have to take some more time with the words. Finish the last book in my first series, clean them all up. I just have to.

There are a couple more big decisions that I've made recently, but I'm not quite ready to talk about them yet. Hint: they're both big and scary and exhilarating and (hopefully) awesome.

To be continued...

The Balancing Act

Last month, I picked up where I left off about a year and a half ago--I went back to school. Now, if you're sensing some bitterness there, you'd be right.

My dilemma is this: I've been writing a lot over the last year. I have discovered my voice as a writer, and I have decided on a career path for these book babies. School throws a wrench in these plans. When I'm writing, I'm thinking about homework. When I'm doing homework, I want to be working on my book. And when I'm doing neither, when I'm hanging out with friends or just relaxing, I keep thinking I should be doing something else. Cue deep breaths.

Part of me wants to say eff it and focus on the writing, but the years and student loans I've put into school would be for nothing. I've only got ten classes left for my Bachelor's. Ten classes. It'd be silly to not finish, right?

So now I'm left trying to balance my newfound fire for writing with classes that I don't particularly want to take. Throw in a full-time job, my awesome friends and a new relationship with a pretty rad dude, and I've got a lot on my plate.

So, how do I balance it?

I have no idea.

As if I don't already have enough on my plate, I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I'm going to write the third book in my first series. I'm super excited about this book. It's going to be a blast to write. That is, if I don't let everything else eat my soul.

So, how about you? How do you balance writing with a life full of other things? Any tips or tricks for me? I suck at balance.

Plotter Panic

I’m a plotter.

A hardcore, need-to-know-every-detail, plotter.

As evidenced by the 27,000-word outline I wrote for my current work-in-progress.

Yep. 27,000 words.

So, imagine my borderline panic when I started writing the book and the opening scene was not as outlined. Borderline panic turned to full-on Omigod, what am I doing? when, scene by scene, chapter after chapter, everything was coming out new.

“Why did I spend so long outlining?” I asked myself. “Why didn’t I just start writing the damn book?”

At some point, about twenty thousand words in, I reached a point where I was like, “Okay. All right. I can do this.”

Which, given my obsessive plotting tendencies, is a big deal.

I fought the urge to stop writing, go back, re-outline, and I just kept going. Something inside me shifted, and I just relaxed into the writing. Clearly, these characters were going to tell this story the way that they saw fit. Who was I to interfere?

And you know what? So far, so good. I’ve got about three or four chapters left to write, and a new ending in mind. We shall see how it holds up…

The lesson here? Relax. At least, for me. I was so uptight about my outline, so stressed when it wasn’t working, when the story kept changing. The moment I let it go (Let it go! Let it go! Ahem…sorry.) was the moment I learned to trust my writerly instincts.

Does this mean I’m going to be a Pantser from now on? Hell no! Going into a story with absolutely no clue what’s going to happen freaks me out, even if what I plan on happening changes. But I have learned to roll with the punches. That’s a valuable lesson for someone like me.

What about you? Are you a Plotter? Pantser? Somewhere in between?


I've been calling my next WIP a rewrite.

It's a book I've written and rewritten so many times over the last almost decade of my life. The story has changed, the characters have morphed into different versions of themselves, the story has taken on many different forms. At its core, though, it's always been the same story: girl leaves boy, girl wants boy back, boy is engaged to another girl. *cue super-hot best man*

Well...that plot has been discarded.

No longer is this version a "rewrite."

It's a brand-spanking-new book.

The bones are similar to the thousand previous drafts: Character names (though they've all got new last names), the town and its residents, a few of the events. But everything else? Oh, so different.

As I was writing my last book for NaNoWriMo last year, I discovered something about myself. I was funny. I liked my characters to be funny. Not so much on the angst. Every version of the first book was laden with angst. They were all angst cookies frosted with the gallons of tears my characters cried.

Well, no more.

My hero has made the biggest transformation. In every draft, he's been this sexy, brooding guy with a Mysterious Past and a perma-smirk. Basically, he was this guy:

Hot, right? Of course he's hot! That's Ian Smolderhotter. Hold on...I've lost my train of thought...

Oh, yeah. Out with the Ian, in with a new face. No longer is my Jack a broody, moody, smirky, too-serious dude. Nope. He's lighter now. Funny. And so adorable (still sexy, though. Don't worry). Still, I know what you're thinking. HOW COULD YOU REPLACE IAN SOMERHALDER WITH SOME NEW DUDE? DON'T YOU KNOW HOW HOT HE IS?

I DO know how hot he is. He's just not JACK, people! I'm gonna need you to calm down.

Are we calm now? Okay.

My new Jack looks a lot like this guy:

Look at that smile! Doesn't he look all kinds of charming and adorable, all while still being super sexy? I told you not to worry. Also, I'm pretty sure that Mr. Smolderhotter will get his book. I'm thinking Jack has a hot older brother...

So, yeah. Lots of changes with this book. I am no longer thinking of it as a "rewrite." This is an all new book. And I am so ridiculously excited to start writing it!

Ten Months Sober

So, this is a writing blog. I rarely, if ever, get any sort of personal. Briefly, last September, I mentioned my life, and how much things had changed. Today, I want to talk more about that.

This time last year, things were wildly different. I was on the verge of quitting the job I'd been at for 8 years to take a brand new job, about to celebrate 7 years with someone I loved very much. Of course, there are no relationships without struggles, and a couple weeks after our anniversary, the struggles broke us.

And...well, I've been picking up the pieces ever since.

Little by little, I've been rebuilding my life. True, it's taking a lot longer than I wanted it to, but I've been told I'm too hard on myself.

I've been finding the good, though, amid the absolute devastation. I have found a group of friends who love and accept me just the way I am. They don't tell me I'm awesome and stroke my ego 24/7. If I need to hear something, even if I don't WANT to, they'll say it. Everyone should have friends like these people.

I've also been rediscovering myself. In a relationship, it's easy to lose yourself. It's easy to bend and twist and compromise yourself to be what you think the other person wants you to be, until at some point you look in the mirror and you're not sure you recognize the reflection. I'd spent so long trying to be this idealized version of myself that it was almost like I didn't exist.

Over the last ten months, I've gotten to know myself again. And you know what? I like me. I'm lighter and sillier than the woman I was within the walls of that relationship. I'm trying new things and going new places and learning to be independent. I've spent hours watching Supernatural and Friends and Gilmore Girls and Audrey Hepburn movies. I've had Ben & Jerry's for dinner one night, and then pizza for dinner the next twelve nights (all while losing over 40 lbs). I've hung out with my fabulous friends until the wee hours. I've spent entire days cuddling with my puppies and dancing to Taylor Swift. I have met new people, experienced new things, and I've found a confidence that had all but disappeared. I've started planning a life that is all mine. A life of love and laughter and travel and pizza and words and puppy cuddles and Dean Winchester (if only on my TV screen). I've learned that not only am I capable of being alone, I actually LIKE it.

And you know what else I've been doing? Writing. So much writing.

I went from rewriting the same novel for damn near 8 years, over and over and over, to finishing that novel and then whipping through an all new one. One that came so fast and easy to me, and that turned out so well that I'm astounded. I fell in love with writing again. I found my voice - did you know that's not just something people say? All those years I struggled with that one book? I have pinpointed why it wouldn't work. It was too serious. The follow-up book managed to be lighter, funnier, in spite of the heavy issues my characters are dealing with. I am confident that I can rework that first book and turn it into exactly what I've wanted it to be.

So, yeah. I got hurt. I got hurt in ways that left me shaken and doubtful of my worth as a human being. I felt crazy and confused and scared and stupid and alone. Some days, I thought I wouldn't survive the pain, thought I couldn't pick myself up and go on living. But here I am, almost a year later, still standing. And more than that, I'm stronger than before. Life is weird that way. Just when you think you can't make it, there are a million reasons why you can. One person can't - and shouldn't - be your everything. And it's okay to let go of the past and move on with your life.

As Taylor Swift sings in the song that has become my constant soundtrack, "The rain came pouring down, when I was drowning, that's when I could finally breathe."

And, I'm happy to report, that I am breathing just fine.

IWSG: Don't Stop Believing

The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writers Support Group Be sure to stop by and lend your support to the other writers participating!

I decided to go back to Book #1 for yet another rewrite. I am plagued with the idea that maybe I'm wasting my time.

I finished a book I love a couple months ago. I wrote it with such ease and I love the finished product. It needs some work, of course, but overall, I feel like it was a huge victory for me. It was the first NEW book I wrote in years, and it felt liberating and amazing.

Why, then, would I go back to the book I've been writing for upwards of 8 years, on and off? The book that has caused me so much stress and anger and frustration and pain? The book that has seen at least 10 different rewrites and is STILL not all it could be?

It's a waste of time, right?

But the thing is...I can't give up on it. With my newest book, I learned things about myself. I learned to be a better writer, a more confident writer. I believe I can finally give the characters in that first book the story they deserve. And, in the words of the incomparable Journey, "Don't Stop Believing."

So, back to the drawing board, I go.

Will this be the time that I finally get it right?

What about you? Have you ever worked on the same project for years and years? How did it turn out? Do you ever feel like you should just give it up?

How YOU Doin, 2015?

Okay, okay. So it's been over four months since my last post. I am KILLING this blogging thing. KILLING. IT.

In all reality, I've spent the better part of my time since late-October...WRITING.

I completed NaNoWriMo with just over 53k words, then continued to work on my novel for the next couple months. I typed the words The End in mid-January, then attended a fantastic writing workshop with Donald Maass, which spurred ALL THE EPIPHANIES. I rewrote the last half of my book, then turned it in to my fabulous writing group. From the moment I turned it in to the morning of the meeting, I felt like I was going to throw up or die or both.

I couldn't have asked for a better meeting, though. I got great feedback, and a relatively short revision list for my book baby.

You guys, I am so, so proud of this book. After spending the better part of 8 years writing and rewriting my last book, I wasn't sure going into NaNoWriMo if I could write something new. But I wrote the hell out of this new book, and you know what? It's so much better than the other one. I have really found my voice as a writer, and I've learned and grown so much. This new book...it's me. The last book, I spent years and years trying to figure out WHO I was, what I wanted the book to be, what I could and couldn't say...and so on.

Once I hit my stride, the words wouldn't stop coming. I laughed, I cried, I had an absolute blast writing that book.

And now...well, now I'm going back to the first one.

I know, I know. Sounds silly, right? Why go back to the book I'd spent year after torturous year writing after discovering a new confidence with a new book?

Well, the thing is, I believe in the characters in the first book. I love them. I love the story. I want to give them the book they deserve. And I believe I can do that now. Now that I've figured out how I work, how to be free with my words and not allow self-doubt to censor me, I really believe I can make this book what it was meant to be.

Outlining has proven to be a bitch, though.

The thing I'm struggling with is this: there is a lot to be loved in the original draft. And there are ideas a-plenty to improve it. So, I'm trying to find the balance between the old and new. And let me tell you...it's not easy.

But I've got a self-imposed deadline. I want to have this new version completed by the first week of May. That gives me...two months?

Shit. I'd better get cracking.

PS: How ADORABLE is my new header? My wonderfully amazing best friend and writing lobster, Christina made it for me. She rocks, eh?

NaNoWriMo 2014

While I take a break from the completed draft of a novel I've worked on for years, I've decided to start something new. And what better time to do that than in November?

For those who may not know, November is National Novel Writing Month. Basically, the crazy writers of the world attempt to write 50k words in 30 days. It's insane, infuriating and sort of awesome, and I can't wait to give it a go. This year, unlike the past few times I've participated, I'm not aiming to hit the 50k goal. I really just want a solid start on my next novel. And NaNoWriMo provides just the inspiration and motivation I need to do that.

My next novel stars Cat, the sassy, scene-stealing best friend of my last main character. I've been working on the outline for the last couple weeks and I am stoked to get started!

To get into the story, I've been listening to a playlist of songs that remind me of my characters and spending way too much time on Pinterest. I love that I get to call this stuff "research." I mean, look at all the pretty!

The soundtrack for this novel has been completely different from my last one. Lighter, sexier. These two songs specifically have been on repeat:

I really feel like Cat's story is going to be so different from Tierney's, and I'm looking forward to the challenge. It will be a nice break before I start revising Tierney.

How about you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How has your writing been going? Isn't Jared Padelecki pretty?

Strong, Even When It Hurts


Six months since my last post.

What have I been up to?

Well, life is kind of crazy these days. I'm single for the first time in seven years, I moved, started a new job, got a new car...you name it, it's different.

Basically, I've spent the last few months trying to get my feet back on the ground. I'm not quite there yet, but each day I'm getting a little closer.

On the writing front, I'm only two chapters away from The End. Which is another thing that's freaking me out. I've been working on this particular novel for so many years. Once I reach the end, once I go through the revision process, I have to say goodbye to this story, these characters. Yet another change in my life. While it's a good one, it still makes me nervous.

And excited.

My next novel is already forming in my head. My main character whispering sometimes, screaming at others, trying to get me to write her story. I need to finish my current one first, but the prospect of a shiny new novel is thrilling.

But I have to finish this one first. So close, yet so far away. I had the ending all mapped out, but about halfway through the novel, my main character changed the course of the story. Now, I'm struggling to nail down how it all ends. Happily Ever After sounds easy enough, right?

I'll get there, ladies and gents. One word, one step, one day at a time...

IWSG: How Long is Too Long?

The first Wednesday of every month is reserved for Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group (unless I forget). In these posts, I write about my insecurities as a writer. Make sure to check out all the wonderful bloggers participating!

I have this app on my phone called Timehop. Basically, it scours the internet each day for things you've posted on the same date in previous years. It's kind of cool and mostly I enjoy the look back (especially today's update from last year: "Dropped off the last rent check today. Can't wait to make that first mortgage payment!). But lately, I've been getting updates like:

"Finished Chapter 17 today! Onto the next chapter."


"I rewrote my outline. Now, maybe I'll finish this thing by the end of March!"

The problem with those updates? They're from 2 & 3 years ago, and are about the same book I'm working on now -- which, for the record, I had been working on sporadically for at least 4 years prior. Actually, now that I think of it, in April, it will be 7 years with Dana, and I was definitely working on this novel when we met. You guys, that's a LONG time.

So, my question for today is: How long is too long to work on the same project?

When should you decide it's just not gonna work and set it aside? When do you start on something new?

Now, I'm not completely bummed that I'm still working on the same book, because in the last year or so I have made leaps and bounds with it. This is the best it's ever been. It's finally becoming what I have wanted it to be from day one.

But those Timehop updates, they do make me wonder. What might I have accomplished if I'd let this book go?

What are your thoughts? How long have you been working on your current WIP? When should you give it up and move on?

The Movie Bloghop

What's this? Two blog posts in one week? I must be ill, right?

Nah. I just stumbled across this very cool bloghop this morning and, even though it is happening RIGHT NOW, I couldn't resist. It's just too fun.

The Movie Bloghop, hosted by Kyra Lennon at Write Here, Write Now and Rachel Schieffelbein at Writing on the Wall, is just what it sounds like. You write a post about who you'd cast in the movie version of your current Work-in-Progress. Awesome, right?

My current WIP is about Tierney, a late-20-something woman who finds out her ex-fiance is marrying someone else. Well, what's a girl to do but get him back, right? Only she didn't count on the sexy best man standing in her way.

The lead role of Tierney is played to perfection by the lovely Katharine McPhee:

Jack, the too-sexy and all-knowing best man, is Ian Somerhalder AKA OMG THE HOTTEST GUY EVER!:

Wes, Tierney's ex-fiance and all-around good (though slightly boring) guy, is James Van Der Beek:

Wes's fiancee, Sam, the bubbly, perfect blonde, is Kellie Pickler:

There you have it. The cast of beautiful people that are playing out this story in my head -- er, on the big screen.

As for the music, this is a vital part of my process. I will listen to the same song on repeat until I finish writing a particular scene. I've got a huge playlist, but I'll narrow it down to a couple, just for you.

Run - Matt Nathanson, Jennifer Nettles

I Hate You, Don't Leave Me - Demi Lovato

Had It All - Katharine McPhee

Come Clean - Tristan Prettyman

Make sure you check out the other posts in this bloghop. How can you resist? It's such a fun idea!

So, who would you cast in a movie version of YOUR WIP?

Winter, Puppies and Rewrites, Oh My!

I know that when I have the urge to start all my blog posts with, "I know it's been a while, but I'm still alive,"it means that I suck at this blogging thing. THIS time, though, I have good excuses...er...reasons.

I have been writing. A lot.

Okay, currently, I'm stalled on Chapter Seventeen, but I've written a metric crap ton of words since the last post. Granted, around 85% of those words are collecting dust in a file titled "Misc. Pieces," but I wrote 'em, dammit!

I probably would be much further along, but this happened:

Meet Luca, the newest member of our family. She's a Jack Russell mix that we adopted from our local Humane Society about a month ago. Don't let that sweet face fool you. Satan lives inside that pup.

Ever since we brought her home, my writing time has become wrangling the puppy, making sure she doesn't poo on the rug or torture the cats too much, time (let it be known that I have failed at one or more of those things on a many occasions. Potty training a puppy in the winter is HARD!).

Things are getting easier now that we've adjusted to basically having a toddler running through the house. Let me tell you, it doesn't matter just HOW clean you think your house is, a puppy will set you straight in a heartbeat. I don't even know where she finds the things she chews on!

On the writing front, now that I've adjusted to the pup, I have written two chapters and rewritten the same chapter about five times. I'm tackling that chapter again this afternoon before I head to work and crossing my fingers that this is it. Wish me luck.

I've also submitted five chapters to my writing group for our next meeting. The other ladies are otherwise occupied with various writing tasks (and making lots of progress!), so I'm the only one turning in pages this month. It's sort of nerve wracking to have all the attention on me and what may or may not be some good shit. Even so, I'm looking forward to their thoughts. I'm actually very excited about some of those chapters.

I think I'm onto something good with this story, after a bajillion years writing it. It feels good. Really good. And scary as hell.

Anyway, how have YOU been? Getting lots of writing done? Are you surviving this horrible winter?

Out of the Slump

It's been two months since my last post. I'm a bad, bad blogger.

Life has been hectic, as usual, and I was in a writing slump for a long time. Now, I'm back to my story and my life has settled down.

I met with an academic advisor last week and found out that I have everything I need for my General Associate's Degree. Not only that, but the following day I was informed that I only need eleven classes for my Bachelor's in Professional Communications.

Eleven classes. That's, like, three semesters. About a year or so and I'll be finished with school. How awesome is that?

An added bonus was that the classes I was signed up for this semester were extras -- I didn't need them for my degrees. So, I was able to withdraw from them and now I have a semester off. The timing couldn't be better, as I have wanted to do nothing but write for the last month or so.

The slump I mentioned earlier had gone on for months. I was halfway through Chapter 6 and I'd stalled. I went on my dream vacation (I'm writing a couple posts about how magical THAT was. Look for them soon) and couldn't write a word when I came back. From the end of September to mid-January, I was a writer who didn't write. And I was miserable.

Then, suddenly, I had a breakthrough. I don't know exactly what caused it, but one day I finished Chapter 6 and I didn't stop. I haven't stopped. I'm now about halfway done with Chapter 16, and I'm feeling good about things. So, yeah. This unexpected semester off from school is a blessing. Maybe I'll actually finish this draft by Spring.

That about wraps up the last couple months of my life. How have yours been? Productive? Are you staying warm in this horrible winter?

If not, here's a teaser picture from my vacation. Nothing like a little Italian sunshine to warm you right up!

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Time Flies When You're...Doing Nothing

It has occurred to me that I have terrible time-management skills. I should be able to get much more done than I do, and yet here I am, a mountain of homework to finish, a To-Be-Read list that is taking over my office, a novel I haven't touched in months, and a blog that is coated in cobwebs and feeling neglected. Not to mention the laundry that needs folding, the floors that need sweeping and mopping, the dishes that need washing, the hair that needs dying and the waistline that needs trimming.

So, what am I doing with all my time? Aside from the full-time job, I have no idea. A lot of Facebook and Candy Crush, for starters. Throw in some staring into space, watching random TV shows, and multiple trips to the kitchen for snacks, and that about sums up every single time I sit down at my computer to get something done. Every free moment I have is filled with good intentions. "I've got an hour before I have to leave for work. I should write the rest of this chapter," or "An entire afternoon to myself? Time to catch up on that homework!"

And yet, all those hours slip away with nothing to show for them.

Part of the problem is, I can't seem to focus on one thing for longer than ten minutes before I move onto Facebook or the kitchen. I blame the Internet for that. It seems I am always, always distracted by All The Things!

What is a girl to do?

Buckle down and get shit done, that's what.

It has become clear to me that I need to sit down and budget out my time each week. I need to figure out the best way to be productive with that time. I need to suddenly become an uber-organized person.

That's like asking for a miracle, eh?

How about you? How to you stay motivated and focused? Do you have any time management tips? If so, I'm all ears!

IWSG - The Trouble with Dreams

This post is in participation with the Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts the first Wednesday of every month. Check it out!

I've always been a writer. From the moment I picked up a pencil and could scrawl words on paper, I've been making up stories. I didn't get serious about it until I was about seventeen. That's when I made my very first attempt at a novel (which will NEVER see the light of day). Since then, I have written five full novels and two half-started attempts. Most of this will never be read by another living soul -- heck, I probably won't even look at some of it. I've learned a lot along the way, and, despite all the hard work and frustration, I've managed to hold on to my love of words.

Publication has always been in the back of my mind. Even if I just wrote the first novel for fun, I wrote the second (and third, and fourth...) with the idea that someday I'd be published. When you're seventeen, a little ole thing like publication doesn't seem like that big a deal. It doesn't seem so hard. But once you grow up, when you start to research the big, bad world of publishing, well...it's an icy cold wake-up call.

But we keep on writing. We keep on dreaming. We push and we strive.





Even when we have people doubting us. Even when we doubt ourselves. When the writing sucks or the words won't come and we're crying ourselves to sleep. We keep on imagining our names on shiny new covers or bestseller lists. We think about "the call." We go to school and work our day jobs and take care of our families. We seek out careers that will allow us to pursue our dreams.

We are troopers.

Don't get me wrong, I love all this about being a writer. I love knowing I'm not alone in this impossible dream. I love having an entire community full of supportive, wonderful people who understand exactly what I'm going through. I wouldn't want to be anything other than a writer for all this alone.

But I'm struggling. We all are, I know. It's the impossibility of this dream that keeps my feet on the ground, even while my head is in the clouds. I've got to keep a tight grip on reality. And this presents a problem.

I want to write. That's all I want to do. I want to type my days away. But a girl's got to eat. Bills have to be paid. And my job is barely cutting it. And so I'm going to school to further my education and get a better job. But what kind of job is there for someone who has never wanted anything but to write for a living?

What about you? Do you feel the pressure of the real world trying to smother The Dream? How do you keep going? What do YOU do for a living?

Words to Live By

I adore Kristan Higgins. Her novels are funny, quirky, sweet and heartwarming. Her interactions with her readers on Facebook and Twitter are genuine and amusing. She's just all around spectacular.

Well, today, someone on Twitter shared a Youtube video of Kristan's Luncheon Presentation at the Romance Writers of America conference. Once I finished watching it...well, I just loved Kristan even more.

This is a must-watch for all romance authors. Make that all WRITERS. Kristan's got some great things to say about persevering and rejection and what our books mean to the world. This speech is inspiring beyond words.

Just...watch it. And, you're welcome.

Under the Influence

This post is for The Insecure Writer's Support Group, which posts the first Wednesday of each month.

So, the week before last, I finished reading a Young Adult dystopian series with mixed feelings. I loved the writing style, but felt let down by the ending. Usually, my favorite part of finishing a book is deciding which book to read next, and so I turned to my shelves (and my Nook) with excitement.

And I searched. And searched. And searched.

I could not make up my mind.

Should I read another YA book?

Should I read a Romance?

I felt burned by my latest endeavor into YA, and so all the books calling my name from THAT genre were being ignored. And it'd been too long since I'd read a Romance novel, which is usually my genre of choice.

So what was keeping me from scooping up one of those pretty books?


It has always been a struggle for me. Whatever I'm reading at the time somehow seeps into my own work. Not intentionally, but the influence is clear.

I've finally been on a roll with my WIP. Rumor has it, I've finally found my "Voice." So, I was worried that if I indulged in my beloved Romance genre (which is what I'm writing), that progress would somehow be compromised. The style of the author I'd chosen would take over my own style.

I finally decided to risk it and chose an author I'd never read. I've only written about a thousand words since then, but the me-ness still seems to be intact.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you worry that what you're reading will influence your own work? How to you keep this from happening? Read any good books lately?

Part of the Process

A few days ago, I sat down at my desk determined to write. Get that damn Chapter Four revised once and for all. Write an all new Chapter Five. Get Words Down.

What I did instead could easily be called procrastination by some. I prefer to call it Part of the Process.

I spent the next forty-five minutes Googling pictures of my characters and various elements of the story. Then, I downloaded a simple collage program and proceeded to mesh all these pictures together in pictorial representations of my story.

Here are the results:

If you're curious about the cast, they are:
Katharine McPhee as Tierney
Ian Somerhalder as Jack
Paul Walker as Wes
Julianne Hough as Sam
Isla Fisher as Macy

Though I didn't get any words written that day, I did end up with a clearer view of the story I've been trying to tell and its characters.

So, tell me: what's YOUR process? Have you tried collage before? Was this pure procrastination? Isn't Ian Somerhalder dreamy?

IWSG - Losing It

Today's post is brought to you by the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Ever since the semester from hell ended, I've been trying to jump back into my novel. I'd neglected it for months and months, due to pieces of my soul being consumed by the evil Math, and so I was excited to dive in and pick up where I left off.

Only I couldn't.

I tried reading through the previous chapters.

I tried writing journal entries from the POV of my main character.

I tried free writing, hand writing, typing away on the computer.

I tried everything I could think of. But nothing was working.

And so I began to worry. Have I lost it? Am I no longer a writer? WHAT DO I DO NOW????

It's a terrifying thought, losing my ability to write. Writing is My Thing. It's what I love to do. So I've been fighting for it. I've been mapping out new ideas and rearranging the scenes in my outline. Anything to get the juices flowing again. So far, nothing has worked super well, but I think I'm getting there.

Or, at least, I hope I am.

So, what about you? Have you ever felt like you lost your writing? What did you do to get it back? And how evil is Math, anyway?