Friday, December 19, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "A New Planet"

Happy Friday, folks! Hopefully many of you will get a chance to take a little break in the upcoming weeks. (I am using all of my PTO to take two days off so I can go back to Iowa! I think I must be crazy.) In any case, #FFF will be on a little break, but will be back in 2015 for more flashes of SFF for your weekend enjoyment.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I Wanna Be A Novelist! (Throwback Thursday)

Okay, I'm not saying that this is going to be a regular thing, but I kinda had fun doing Throwback Thursday last week. So I decided to dig back into my archives for a prose sample. I like to see how far I've come over the past 14 years! Because, yes, this excerpt is from my very first novel that I ever wrote, when I was 13 years old. I don't think I knew the term "infodump" yet...
Richare and his wife, Gracia, lived together not far from where Rialana and Fred lived. Renla, Rialana’s sister, lived by Richare and Gracia. All of them were telepaths, and very nice people besides. Neither Fred nor Gracia were telekinetics, but that wasn’t unusual. Very few telkins (The common word for telekinetics. All of the Touched abilities had shortened names like that, which confused me for a while at first.) lived at Land’s Point. Of the two hundred Touched that lived at Land’s Points, there were 50 telkins, 42 telehealers, 26 telelemens (fire, earth, or ice), 18 telemeteors, 16 teleblocks, 4 telempaths, and 4 teleseers, and the other 40 were telpats only. It was rumored that once teleherins had existed, a twisted Touched ability that gave the power to completely control the bodies of others. Although it was just a rumor, it sent shivers down everyone’s spine to think of what a terrible power that would be.
This is from the second chapter of my first novel (not novel 1, which is actually the third novel I wrote, confusingly), and I think this is actually a product of an edit/partial re-write I did in high school. So I somehow read this at least twice and thought it was okay!

After a brutal writing sample like that, I think I'll play it safe with the photo. Throwing it all the way back to Baby!Nora, who was totes adorbs. This is, appropriately, a December picture. The kitten's name was Russia, and she grew up alongside me for many happy years.

I don't think she was stealing my soul, here...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Virtue of Vice

Sitting down to write a blog post today, I had to blink at my screen and figure out what I wanted to write. Not because I didn’t have anything to say—on the contrary, I feel like I have too much! First, there’s a list of “Blog Post Ideas” on my Todoist for those times that I can’t come up with anything. Second, there’s the fact that I just finished editing Novel 7. Third, there’s finding out, 5 months into my boyfriend’s deployment, that it’s getting extended. Fourth, there’s the holidays coming up. Fifth—well, okay, you get the idea. I have a few things on my mind!

So I’m going to say screw all that and write a totally different post. Just something that I’ve been musing on lately.

We are subjected to a constant bombardment of advice and exhortations regarding our health. Exercise 30 minutes a day! Eat your weight in vegetables every week! Don’t drink! Okay, drink a glass of red wine, but other than that, don’t drink! Don’t slouch! Don’t sit! Don’t sleep too much or too little! And each of us, according to our ways, either ignores this or strives for it or, most likely, a little of both.

But what are we really chasing? A few extra years of life in some distant future? Looking better naked? Perhaps even, somewhat sheepishly, happiness? I don’t know. Somehow it’s all just considered self-evident. You should do this, because it’s good for you. The definition of “good” is left as an exercise for the reader.

Which brings us to me. I’d imagine that I am somewhat of a health professional’s dream. I do not smoke. I do not drink (usually—every couple of months, maybe). I do not consume caffeine. I exercise regularly. I count calories and watch what I eat. I floss and mouthwash every night and use an electric toothbrush twice a day. I take walking breaks during the day at work. I get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I rarely wear makeup or use heat on my hair and wash my face twice a day and use anti-wrinkle cream at night.

But at some point, I began to wonder, why? This was brought to a point yesterday when I had a dental checkup and they found two cavities. Not me! I am diligent about my oral hygiene! They smiled and said it could be worse, and I made an appointment to give up my MLK day to fillings. And as I lay in bed last night, trying to fall asleep when I wasn’t particularly tired so that I could ensure I got my 8 hours, I wondered why I bother.

I am not, it must be said, a particularly happy person. Many of the things I listed above I do to help self-treat my depression, but it doesn’t really seem to be working. I don’t particularly want to live a long life, as the idea of 60 vs 63 more years seems small and, in either case, exhausting. Sure I want to be physically fit, but the world doesn’t end if I don’t maintain my 18.5 BMI. Maybe, just maybe, I would be a little happier if I let loose a little. If I stocked my fridge with wine or stayed up until 1 AM or drank my coffee caffeinated.

Maybe. But…I don’t really want to. So for now I’ll keep being my boring self. But because that’s me, not because I’m following someone else’s dictates. I like the way my mouth feels after a good flossing, whether or not I still end up with cavities.

And as much as we all receive life and health advice, so do writers receive writing advice. Constantly. Conflictingly. Write every day! Outline! Don’t outline! Butt in chair! Character worksheets! Discovery writing! You could go crazy trying to follow it all. So don’t! Find the pieces that work for you, but don’t be afraid to mix a little vice into your virtue. Maybe you write only one day a week, but it’s better writing than you’d produce every day. Maybe you make half an outline but pants the rest. At the end of the day, following all of the writing advice isn’t going to make you happy/a perfect writer/published/whatever. So you do you, writers. You do you.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I'm No Poet (Throwback Thursday)

In honor of Throwback Thursday (or #TBT, for you young hip folks out there), I decided to dig into the wasteland that is my “Archived Projects” folder. I unearthed this gem, dating back to a period in my life when I believed that all serious writers should write poetry. Erm, yeah. I don’t even like reading poetry! And “serious writer”—ha, that’s a label I don’t even want anymore (I’ve heard it comes with mandatory elbow patches and a penchant for cigarillos).

In any case, at least it’s good for a chuckle. I present to you the poetry stylings of HighSchool!Nora (not entirely sure, but I think I was 16):


Monotonous tick,
Somniferous tock.
I lay awake listening
To the click of the clock.

Hum of the crickets,
Chirp of the birds.
I lay awake listening
To a song without words.

Creak of the mattress,
Squeak of the sheets.
I lay awake listening
To the night’s restless beats.

And just to ensure the humiliation is total, an accompanying picture of the poet:

Okay, this is probably the least embarrassing photo of me at 16 in existence. I’m easing myself in to this…

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mugs, Mugs, Mugs!

Okay, it felt so good to get my last confession off my chest that I have to go again. Yes, my friends, it is time for me to stand up and say: I LOVE MUGS!

They are beautiful containers designed for hot beverages, what isn't there to love? If you're really feeling fancy, they can even be used to make cakes! They look great on shelves, make great souvenirs, but yet are still so practical. Plus I feel extra writerly when I have a mug on my desk. No, I don't think I'm ashamed of my mug collection one bit.

So I will shout it from the rooftops--or at least YouTube!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Getting Real

It was a pretty normal Thursday morning. I texted my boyfriend, “I don’t even believe in souls but I think mine is dying”. It did even occur to me how melodramatic that sounded until after I sent it. I wasn’t trying to be a sad rag or a drama queen. I was just trying to express how I felt in that moment to the person that cares the most about those feelings.

It bothered me, that message. I began to think more seriously about the number that my doctor had given me, for self-referral to a therapist. We’d made light of it in her office, my insistence that my bunnies and my running were more than enough to stave off the mild bouts of depression I was sometimes bothered with. But maybe I wasn’t holding up as well as I thought.

I decided to do a self test on Psychology Today, just to see. As I was taking the test, I found myself thinking “Well, yeah, I feel sad a lot and everything sucks and I get anxious, that’s all normal. I don’t have any of these real symptoms like hearing voices, uncontrollable urges, panic attacks, etc.” It wasn’t until I was almost done that it occurred to me—maybe these things that I think are so fucking normal, that they are pointless to try to fix because I’m not really unwell, maybe other people out there would look at those items and think they are just as outlandish as the others. Maybe not everyone feels the way I do. So maybe I would call that number, later, in some future version of me that could actually pick up the phone and make that step.

When my boyfriend managed to call me that afternoon (a rare and wonderful occurrence as he is on deployment), I ended up lying on the floor of my living room, sobbing. About nothing, really, just an overwhelming agony at the fact of living my life. I was so ashamed. I felt like—feel like—I am falling to pieces. The black hole that sometimes resides in my chest has taken up a residence there so permanent that I’m not sure—that I would really be me without it there.

But enough is enough. I picked up the phone. It was terrifying, honestly. I almost hung up on the receptionist multiple times, just backed out and wanted to say “No, this is all a mistake, I just need to try harder to smile and focus on the positives in my life and I’m wasting your time because I’m just lazy,” but I didn’t. I stayed on the line. I have an appointment next week. I’m terrified to go, but I’m even more terrified to keep going on like this.

(Note: I wrote this post--or a version of it--originally for myself as a journal entry. I decided to post it here in case my experience can help anyone else. I know that many creative types struggle with issues like this, and I do believe there is hope for us all!)

Monday, November 10, 2014

One Third NaNo Check-in

Since today is a nice even number, thanks to our decimal system, as well as a nice even fraction of the month, I thought it a great time to check in on that frantic writing beast that is NaNoWriMo.

This is a pretty critical time in the life of a NaNoer. There are three main possibilities of where you are at, and I’ll look at each of those and the way forward.

1. You’re behind (<16,667 words). This may range from lagging a bit (say, 15kish) to “oh gods what am I doing” (say, 0) or anywhere in between. You’re probably frustrated about being behind. You thought you were going to slay the great NaNo beast, and instead it’s kind of kicking your ass. You may be thinking about giving up—you may have given up already! But in any case, things are not hopeless! Even if you are in our “oh gods” category, you could hit 50k by writing 2,500 words a day from here on out. That is completely doable. Besides, chances are you’ve written more than zero words, so 2,500 per day is the absolute, worst case scenario. Now let’s say that you’re in the lagging category, sitting right around 15k words. This could be a potentially more dangerous zone, believe it or not. You’re only 1 day of words behind. There is absolutely plenty of time to catch up—and you know it. So stop telling yourself that you’ll catch up later. Remember, the end of November tends to be busier than the beginning for a lot of people. Catch up now. No more excuses, you are within striking range!

2. You’re right on track (16,000-17,000 words). Good job! You likely have a schedule and a plan and are sticking to it. Maybe you hit exactly 1,667 every day and are chugging along. Maybe you’re a bit more erratic, but every few days you make sure you hit that goal line. Maybe you just had one really good day on November 1! In any case, you’re on track. Keep doing what you’re doing, but beware of burnout. You haven’t left yourself any margin, so you need to be good about sticking to your plan/schedule. But don’t worry too much, pat yourself on the back, and keeping NaNoing strong.

3. You’re ahead (>16,667 words). Congratulations! You’ve been a whirlwind of writing for the past 10 days. Maybe you want to finish early enough to enjoy Thankgsiving pie in peace. Maybe your personal goal is >50k. Maybe you’re just so in love with your new novel that it demands to be written and you must comply. You probably don’t need much advice, but I’ll just caution you against resting on your laurels. Building up a buffer so that you can enjoy a weekend off is great, but when that weekend stretches to 2 weeks…just remember, you haven’t won until 50k! (I mean, officially. I think anyone who participates has won!)

So there we have it. No matter if you’ve written 0 words or 49,999 words, your November writing adventure can end in that elusive win—or not. It’s up to you, and I have full faith!

 As a bonus, here is a pep talk I made a couple years ago, in case that sort of thing helps you. Happy NaNoing!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Am I Good Enough? How Do I Know?

I don’t think artists and writers are, in general, known for being completely calm, level-headed, secure people. Stereotype it may be, but I sure live up to the idea of a writer whose confidence varies wildly, rising to euphoric heights before crashing down so low I just want to curl up in a ball and moan “Whyyyy did I think I could do this??”

And I’m in the latter phase right now.

Editing for novel 7 has been slow. And not just slow but excruciating. Completing even a single scene, which may involve as few as 100 new words and some minor information dropped or a twirl of description added, seems like a gargantuan effort of will. I look at my list of revision notes and wonder why I so blithely dashed off notes to myself about entire new worlds and scenes to populate. And most of all, I look at the manuscript that I once loved and I think—I can’t do this. I don’t have what it takes.

It’s not just this revision or this manuscript or this moment in time, either. It’s the long slog of an unpublished writer. I read constantly about the hundreds of rejections that published authors had to overcome. I know about the endless rounds of querying and the “it just takes one yes!” mantra. So I, like many others, chin up and soldier forward, in search of that elusive agent, that elusive contract, the elusive dream of my book on a shelf for readers to enjoy.

But how do you know if you’re on the “hundreds of rejections before I found my agent” path or the “hundreds of rejections followed by hundreds more” path? Basically, how do you know if you’re actually good enough?

For a lot of people—myself included—this is a large part of the draw of trad publishing. I don’t think I could deal with the soul-crushing defeat of self-publishing and then no one reading it. It would be the end of my writerly aspirations, the humiliating squeak with which my unborn career dies. So I churn out query letters, I read books on craft, I write as much as I can, I read books on editing, I revise my writing, I get betas, I seek feedback, more query letters, endless lists of agents and the frissons of hope at every agent email that lands in my inbox. My turn could be coming.

Or maybe it’s not. There are a million wannabe writers out there, and while it’s nice to believe that none of them have mastered craft and storytelling and grammar like I have, while it’s nice to think none of them know how to follow submission guidelines, that we’re all just grinding out against the faceless wall of “no response means no” until we catch a break that is akin to winning the lottery. But the fact is that there are writers getting signed and published every day—and I’m not one of them. I’m in the slush pile with hundreds and thousands of other writers who are every bit as talented as I am and more.

So how do I know? How do I know if it’s delusion on my part? How do I know if the problem is my query letter or my first page or my first chapter or the whole manuscript or every manuscript I write?

I don’t know. I guess I just have to keep going until I find myself curled up in a ball, moaning, and don’t know how to get up anymore.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!!

It's that magical time on Friday, but instead of a video, I am offering good wishes for a wonderful holiday and a magical weekend (or vice versa!).
Whatever your Halloween plans are (mine include turning out all the lights, ice cream, and a good book), I hope you enjoy them. Enjoy your last night of freedom pre-NaNo and the fact that it's basically a holiday dedicated to candy--I'll take all your Smarties, if you're one of those. =P

Happy Halloween! May your night be spooky and delicious and your morning be lazy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In a Month?!?

As the leaves change and the weather cools—at least in theory, somewhere, because it’s sunny and upper 70s here in my paradisiacal home!—there are a lot of big events coming up. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Veteran’s Day, etc. etc. But one that looms large in the writing world is not just a special day or religious event (well, maybe the latter!), it’s an entire month dedicated to consistent and/or feverish writing. Yes, my friends, I am speaking of the dreaded/anticipated NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know, NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) is a time when writers pledge to produce 50,000 new words during the month of November.

There are a lot of diverse opinions out there about the benefit, utility, and enjoyability of NaNoWriMo, and I won’t go into those here. If you’re not interested in NaNoWriMo, just know you are not alone and have a nice day. =) If you are interested, keep reading! (For the record, I myself am not doing NaNoWriMo this year. For one, it has never helped me produce usable work, and for two, I need to be editing not drafting right now.)

NaNoWriMo can be intimidating, especially for a first timer. A first draft in just a month?? Please. Don’t I have like, a life? (Answer: Not during NaNo!) So let me offer a little advice, heavily grained with salt since I am a multiple-time participant and zero-time winner.

1.       Don’t switch it up TOO much. NaNo is great for shaking you out of a rut or bringing new ideas to fruition. It can be a great time to play around with new formats, new plots, new genres even! But if you take on too much—remember, you are writing 50k words, which is a challenge on its own!—you can face disappointment, burnout, and failure. If you’re going to try a new genre, maybe use your favorite and most comfortable POV/tense. If you’re going to experiment with a new format (e.g. an epistolary), maybe stick to your normal genre. And this is a big one—I really really don’t recommend switching up the base of your routine. I, for example, am an outliner. And probably much farther to the outline side than most people. Last year I decided to pants NaNo! Because NaNo is fun and I wanted to try something new! Yeah. It didn’t work. My plot went nowhere, I fizzled out after 12k words or so, and it soured me on an idea I’d been wanting to write for years. So. Change up some things, but don’t change up everything!
2.       Don’t get lost in the community. Writing is often a solitary, lonely pursuit. One of the great things about NaNo is the amazing sense of community. You can see it on Twitter, on the NaNo forums, and anywhere else writers like to congregate. You can find write-ins where you actually write in person with other real live writers! (I’ve never done one but always wanted to.) Gaining access to a new network, making new writing friends, and expanding your circle can all be great benefits of NaNo. But they aren’t the heart of it. So enjoy the forums, offer condolences and support and ideas and receive them in return, tweet your heart out, but do that after writing, not instead of it!
3.       Do celebrate your milestones. I know I just said that the heart of NaNo is to write 50k words, which is true. But 50k is a hell of a lot for most people to write in a month. Maybe you only get 25k. “Only,” I should say, because 25k is awesome. Is it more than you would have written otherwise? If so, pat yourself on the back, admire all those new words, and don’t get down on yourself.
4.       Don’t rush. Okay this one is not quite NaNo, but more post-NaNo. NaNo can be a time of great productivity. You can get so excited about your shiny new manuscript that you forget an important fact—publishing is a long, slow process. Writing a first draft in a month is a great way to shorten that timeline (it would take me about 4-5 months to write 50k on average when working on a first draft), but it’s still only a first draft! For one thing, 50k is generally too short to be pitched as a novel. For another, you just wrote that in a caffeine-fueled haze of inspiration and determination—you aren’t going to see it clearly. Set it aside, work on something new, and make sure you do your due diligence in revising before you even start thinking about agents (or small presses or self-pubbing)!
5.       Do remember the other 11 months. As stated, publishing is a long, slow process. If you write a 50k rough draft during NaNoWriMo, then pat yourself on the back, put up a winner’s badge, and sit back to enjoy some time off until the next NaNoWriMo…well, you’re not going to get anything but a pile of rough drafts. If that’s what you want, then great! Seriously, writing for yourself is awesome and I commend it. But I think most of us have goals of publishing and an audience, and that is going to take more than 30 days of feverish writing a year. So if you’re getting so burned out by NaNo that it’s going to wipe out the next several months of writing for you, don’t be afraid to take a deep breath, set it aside, and do what is right for you! 

Some NaNoWriMo resources:
  • Special Scrivener offer: Get a free trial version of Scrivener until Dec 7 (longer than the normal 30 day trial). If you win NaNo, you can purchase for 50% off—even if you don't win, you can still get it 20% off. Lots of writers swear by Scrivener!
  • It's not too late to plan your novel! I love Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method. It's a great place to start, and it can help you have a rough outline ready in only a couple hours.
  • There are a lot of word count apps out there, but I happen to love good old Excel. There are lots of great spreadsheets out there (just Google "NaNoWriMo spreadsheet"—easy to update to 2014 as well), but one of my favorites is this one made by NaNoWriMo user jodotha. Or you can make your own!
  • If you're more of an analog type, try this printable calendar. There is something deeply satisfying about taking a marker and crossing out boxes as you go!
  • One Page Per Day is exactly what its title promises. You can sign in with your Google or Twitter account and receive reminders to do your daily page. If you get intimidated by blank Word docs, this could be a great tool for you to break it down into manageable chunks.
  • When/if you get stuck, Plinky offers prompts to get those creative juices flowing.
These are just a few of the many tools out there that can help you get through NaNoWriMo. But the writing itself is still on you! Luckily, I know you can do it—or at least enjoy trying.

Good luck!

Friday, October 24, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "Mind Over Matter"

We made it! Friday at last. Let's celebrate by kicking back and traveling to the future! Join me for a quick trip away from the here and now.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, October 17, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "Misty Morning"

I would not have believed that the only posts for weeks in a row would be #FlashFridayFootage! Phew, I need to get some of my other ideas down on paper (er, screen?). But in the meantime, it is Friday, so here's another #FlashFridayFootage!

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, October 10, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "The Danger of Sleeping with Gods"

Woohoo, I am not-sick enough to make a video! Cold from hell really laid me out last week (and is still persistently lingering, awesomely), so I am glad to finally get a new #FlashFridayFootage up.

And in case you want to read some of my flash fiction stories (including both #FlashFridayFootage stories and other brand new ones!), you can check out my work over at Wattpad. I'll be posting new stuff every Saturday!

Also, on a fun with numbers note, I post #FlashFridayFootage at 10:10 AM on Fridays. And today is 10/10! So it's extra special!

So without further ado, here is "The Danger of Sleeping with Gods"!

Have a great (and safe) weekend!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September 2014 Wrap-Up

October already?!

I can almost believe it, actually, since I was back in my hometown last weekend and saw the fall foliage. Amazing how much of a difference that can make in seeing time pass! San Diego truly is the endless summer, which can make the months and years bleed together. Not that I mind! But it was nice to see the leaves going out in a blaze of glory.

Anyway, aside from traveling to Iowa for a dear friend's wedding, what did September hold for me? Well, my birthday for one. And another month away from my boyfriend, for another. And a wee bit of writing! A rather mixed month, all in all. I only got down 1374 new words over 5 writing days (so 25 non-writing days).

Wordcount goal: 49.1%
Non-writing days goal: 88%
Agents queried: 0
Rejections received: 3 forms, 1 closed due to no response

I didn't quite hit my wordcount goals, but I did hit more of my intangible goals. I finished the readthrough of novel 7, although the plethora of post-it notes has not yet made it into a coherent revision plan. I wrote 3 flash stores and one longer story (though it bordered on flash as well). Not prolific, but not bad for someone struggling to adapt to a new job and an entirely new lifestyle. I certainly won't hold it against myself!

As October dawns, I have big plans. BIG BIG plans that I won't go into here. But suffice to say that I am becoming even more serious about my writing career (something that is already my number 2 priority). More about that later. As for writing goals--I want to continue to produce my weekly flash stories (expect to see a new #FlashFridayFootage this week!), so I plan on 4 in October. I'd like to do at least 1 longer story for an anthology I have in mind. And I am going to attack the second draft of novel 7! The revision plan should be drawn up by the end of this week, and revisions will commence immediately. I am still SO excited about this novel and cannot wait for someone besides me to read it--so I need to get it written!

Because novel 7 is a bit stunted in its current form (barely over 40k words), I'll be adding a LOT. I hope to finish the revision by the end of November (no NaNoWriMo for me this year, sadly), and I need to get to at least 65k. Which means I better get close to 13k down this month. That sounds like a lot now that I write it out...

Anyway, between all of that, I am looking at a wordcount goal of 14,300 words! That would be a productive but not record-breaking month for me, so I think it is completely possible. That works out to less than 500 words a day! I could do that on my lunch break. So my goal is 14,300 words with no more than 10 non-writing days.

Bring on the pumpkin spice and the writing! Let's do this, October!

Friday, September 12, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "Sisyphean Hopes"

Friday again?! For a week that consisted of some tough days, it went by really fast! Hopefully it'll slow down for me to enjoy the weekend. But before that, take 2 minutes to escape this world with some flash fiction as part of my #FlashFridayFootage project!

Have a good weekend!

Friday, September 5, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "Transformation"

Hello, it's been a few weeks since you've been able to see my ridiculous face and hear a story! That's what I get for moving and starting a new job at the same time--not to mention lots of writing and bunny care and now training for a race. Phew! Even a 2 minute video is hard to do with all that. But I'm finally settling in, and #FlashFridayFootage is here for the long haul!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

August 2014 Wrap-Up

Only a couple days behind!

August was A Month. I don't quite have words to describe the whirlwind of emotions and ideas and everything. There will probably be a very introspective post next week--breaking the chain of all my previous light-hearted posts...

But for today, let's talk August numbers!

I knew August was going to be low-key after my crazy productivity in June and July. I did achieve my goal of finishing novel 7's first draft! It's a short lil thing, only 42k, but it's there for me to work on now. I intended to fill my "cooling off" period by writing shorts and editing novel 6. I did do some editing, but no shorts, and there just wasn't a lot of new words in August. But that's okay! Not every month needs to be a 25k month. Especially not ones where I am moving apartments and starting a new job at the same time. Plus traveling. And, you know, life.

Between all that, I came up with 8165 new words over 9 writing days (so 22 non-writing days).

Wordcount goal: 85.1%
Non-writing days goal: 31.8%
Agents queried: 9

Contests entered: 1
Rejections received: 3 forms, 1 personalized, 5 closed due to no response

All in all, I am happy with August. Did I meet my metrics goals? No. But that was more because my metrics weren't set right than anything else. I did spend plenty of time working on my writing, editing and reading about the writing craft and submitting to #PitchWars and all that good stuff. I'm headed into September with my head held high!

So what does September hold? Editing, mostly! Yay! I have already broken out the purple pen and the post-its, and novel 6 will yield to my crushingly awesome editorial skills. My goal is to have my quick read through and notes done and my revision pass in hand by the end of the month. That may not sound like a lot, but it most definitely is! I would still like to do some work on short fiction, so I hope to write one flash fiction story a week (I have to for #FlashFridayFootage!) and one longer short story over the course of the month. Which means I would need at the very least 2800 words, so goal is set! I would say I could do that in 8 writing days, so let's put the non-writing days goal at no more than 22. Again, this doesn't sound like a lot (because it's not!), because the focus is editing, which I don't have metrics for. Mostly becayse I'm not sure how to enter blood, sweat, and tears into Excel.

And on I go!

I'm just glad my kitchen doesn't look like this anymore!

Monday, August 18, 2014

All About Nora: A #PitchWars Mentee Bio!


I wasn't going to do one of these, but then I wanted to procrastinate, so here we are.

My name is Nora, and I am a pre-published author. I am currently sitting on my couch in pajamas eating iced animal crackers and watching HGTV. And that right there pretty much sums me up. It's noon and I pretty much look like this:

I am creeping closer to 30 than 20 (when the hell did that happen?). In fact, I'll be ticking another notch on September 7th—I will be accepting early gifts on September 3rd in the form of mentor picks!

Oh, and I should probably mention that I'm 6'4". But since this is the internet, don't worry, you won't have to have me looming over you! And nope, I don't play basketball/volleyball/whatever. I am determinedly uncoordinated!

So, what else about me? I was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Iowa, but I escaped the Midwest via the Navy. I went to college at the Naval Academy in Maryland where I got a B.S. in Astrophysics with a minor in Spanish. After that, I spent the last five years in the Navy. Luckily I was able to get four of those years in San Diego, where I stayed after getting out in June. Among all of these upheavals, moves, underways, and duty days, my writing has remained a constant.

I write science fiction and fantasy. I blame my parents! My dad started reading The Hobbit aloud to me when I was little, and I haven't looked back since. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Heinlein, Asimov, Ender's Game, Star Wars, Doctor Who...well, you get the idea. Magic? Space? Lasers? Give me it ALLLLLLLL!

The manuscript I submitted for #PitchWars, Anna's Stars, is the fourth full novel I have written. I love Anna, I love science fiction, and I love my kickass story! The book deals a lot with grief and loss, seasoned with galactic politics, Imperial machinations, and space adventuring. I can't wait for one of the mentors to fall in love with Anna and her story, too!

Well, that's me! Check out some of the other mentee bios over at the Contestant Hop!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression, Suicide, and Other Happy Thoughts

Yesterday I was scrolling through the New Posts tab over at AbsoluteWrite when I saw a post titled "Robin Williams Dead at 63". I couldn't believe it. I went straight to Twitter and it was the top trending topic—RIP Robin Williams. Dead from apparent suicide by hanging.

I spent much of the afternoon watching YouTube clips. Particularly one of my favorite Disney songs ever, made brilliant by the comedic stylings of the incomparable Mr. Williams.

How I learned what baklava was.

And as I started thinking about my blog post today, I thought that I should write about suicide. I should write about depression. I should try to share what it is like to be mired in an endless stream of self-recrimination. How it feels to want desperately to die and to hate yourself for not being brave enough to do it. How it feels when someone you love and care about is gone because of it. The dread that comes along with knowing someone close to you is struggling with that burden and you can't help it or lift it. The days when getting out of bed seems pointless, when sitting at a red light you plead with the universe to send an out-of-control semi crashing into your car. When a challenge as small as choosing what to wear can seem overwhelmingly huge. The ways you deal with it and the ways you don't because it can't truly be dealt with. Wondering if other people are as fucked up as you but only feeling worse when you realize many are.


I can't do it. I can't bring myself to truly sit down and write about my own struggles and the struggles I have witnessed in others. Instead I will point you to PostSecret, a site that has helped me connect with the humanity in those around me. To the Suicide Hotline who once fielded a call from me that helped pull me back, though it lasted no more than 30 seconds and they never had a chance to say much at all. To this touching post by David Wong that discusses the pain in comedy. And leave you with this amazing poem by Walt Whitman, made so famous by Robin Williams.

O Me! O Life!

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Friday, August 8, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "Emily and Brody"

TGIFFF! Because #FlashFridayFootage is clearly the highlight of Friday.

Thanks to the wonders of post scheduling and Tweetdeck, I am currently somewhere high above the United States on my way to Chicago for a bachelorette party—but you can be enjoying my reading of the flash science fiction story "Emily and Brody."

Have an excellent weekend!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Writing for Publication? Or Myself?

There has been a blog post making the rounds among writers on Twitter* recently. It is an excellent post by Amy Trueblood called "What If You Never Get Published?". Go on and read it, I'll wait.

Okay, so reading her post got me thinking (again). Writing is a lot of work. I spend hours and hours on it every week—and even more hours thinking/worrying about it. There is a lot of stress and heartache in the constant rejection, the struggle to find an audience, to connect with an agent or an editor or whatever stage you're at. That step of getting a novel published is a huge one. There are many, many of us trying to get past it. Some of us never will.

So is it worth it? Is the intrinsic reward of creation and writing enough to keep me putting in the hours, editing and refining and crying and polishing and writing and going back to edit again? I want to say yes. I want to say that I'll keep at it until I'm old and gray (at least, grayer than I already am!). After all, the difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is persistence.

But for me, writing isn't just about creation. It's about sharing. It's about people reading what I write. Without readers, my books are just hunks of dead trees or fleeting pixels. So if I can't succeed in getting my writing to readers (via being published), at some point it would not be worth it to me anymore.

What is that point? I don't know. It's been over thirteen years of noveling, and I'm only going stronger than ever. I don't see myself quitting in the foreseeable future. In fact, I have plans for my writing that span many years. I already have four completed, edited, unpublished manuscripts, and I know how to "let go" of a project that isn't working. But at some point, I may have to admit that my entire writing career is a project that needs to be let go.

So for me, the answer is that I write for both myself and for the goal of publication. If I didn't have that goal, I don't think I would be driven to work as hard as I do on my writing. That dream keeps me going. One day I may have to set that dream aside, to go into the graveyard of dreams alongside my ballet career and my winning lottery ticket. But that's okay. Life is, as they say, a journey.

*On a side note, I have been following more and more writers and agents lately. Writing is taking over my feed! (Usually it is a mash of personal, fitness, science, writing, and politics people that I follow, and I try not to let any aspect dominate.) It's awesome to have so much support and information, to see people struggling or triumphing with the same challenges that I face. But it's also a little daunting. I am one of many, many, many pre-published authors out there, and it's a tiny pond we're swimming in.

Friday, August 1, 2014

July 2014 Wrap-Up (Post #100!)

Update: I just remembered that this was 100th post! I was going to do something special, but this is what I did instead. Yay for the longevity of my writing blog, and here's to another 100 posts! :cheers:

First off, let me say that I know it's Friday, but there isn't a #FlashFridayFootage this week. With my parents in town plus 3 job interviews and trying to get writing done, I didn't have a chance to make a video! But rest assured, it will be back in full swing next Friday!

Now, for July: WOOOOO!

Yup, July was as great as June. Better than June. It was thoroughly awesome and everything I had hoped it would be when I did my June wrap-up. That is not a very common occurrence, so I am fully enjoying the feeling.

Remember how June was my most productive month ever at 15,385? Well, let's just say that record no longer stands. In July I wrote 24,172 words with 8 non-writing days.

Most of those went towards novel 7 (which is turning out to be more like novella 1). I am still having so much fun with this project and think it definitely has amazing potential. Usually at this point I am already hating what I am writing, so it's refreshing to still be excited about it!

As for novel 6, it hasn't had quite such a good run of it. I spent most of the month trying to re-work the query to get my response percentage up, and I'm still not quite happy with it. I submitted to the #NewAgent contest run by Michelle Hauck and had great fun, even if mine didn't make it past the screening. I gathered some new beta feedback, and am ready to push forward with another round of queries as well as #PitchWars in August! Lots of great stuff to look forward to.

Wordcount goal: 104.0%
Non-writing days goal: 125%
Agents queried: 1
Rejections received: 10 forms, 8 closed due to no response

I honestly never knew I could write almost 25k words in a month. It would have been even more, but the first week of July was my boyfriend's last week prior to deployment, and this past week with all the other non-writing stuff it has been a little hectic. A reminder of what it is going to be like when I go back to a full time day job, but hopefully I can still find the energy and motivation to keep trucking with my writing goals. I have accomplished so much over the past 2 months, I don't want to stop now!

So for August, my goal is to finish this first draft of novel 7. Since it is painfully short so far, I estimate another 7000 words should do it. Then I'll let it sit until September. I also want to write some short stories as well as do a light revision of novel 6 before #PitchWars (which starts on August 18!). I have some ideas about novel 8, but I don't think that is going to be an August project for me. Between novel 6 and novel 7, plus toying with resurrecting novel 1, I do not need to add another project right now!

Since I will be doing a bit less original writing in August, I've revised my wordcount goals downwards. However I do still intend to be spending an equivalent amount of time, if not more, working on writing. I should really come up with some metric for editing/revisions. What can I say, I am just a metric-motivated person! So in the first week or two, while I'm finishing novel 7's draft, I'll still aim for 750 words a day. Once that wraps up, it'll drop down to 100 words per day. That puts me at a total goal of 9,600 words! Since I plan to be doing lots of writing work, I'll set my non-writing days goal at 7. One week off throughout the month should be easily doable.

With a good June and July under my belt, I am feeling more and more like a "real" writer and very ready to improve my craft and move to the next level!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

More Writing Music!

I have written before about my writing music—or the lack thereof. I don't listen to music while I write. I'm the kind of person who is compelled to sing along to every song, so it would be a bit of a distraction from the whole actually writing thing. But there are songs that I listen to when I am not writing that inspire me. The one I talked about previously, Jordin Sparks's "One Step at a Time", is still my number one for that. But it's an older song, so I pretty much only hear it when iTunes pulls it up randomly.

There is a song currently getting a lot of radio time (yes, I listen to top 40 radio, not ashamed) that just thrills my writing sense all the way down to my fingertips: "Am I Wrong" by Nico & Vinz.

For one thing, the song is catchy as hell. Lots of "ooh oooh ooh" that are fun to croon. For another, the song was inspired by their own dreams of becoming successful artists (clearly, they were not wrong). As a pre-published author, who hasn't struggled with that question? All of the time, the effort, the tears, the rejections, the heartache—is it all just going to go down the drain?

My favorite line in the song is "I ain't tryin' to do what everybody else doing, just cause everybody doing what they all do." Sometimes it can feel like the world is overrun with wannabe novelists. It is daunting and overwhelming, to see myself as one of a faceless horde, yammering at agents and publishers. But I'm not doing what everybody else is. My books are my own. They could not have been written by anyone else, they would not exist without me. I do have something unique and wonderful to offer, and I am not wrong!

That's just how I feel.

Friday, July 25, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "Selma 39"

It can't be Friday already?!

Being currently unemployed, I have lost all concept of days of the week. Time might be passing in some weird alternate dimension for all I know. But the computer says it is Friday, so that means it's time for #FlashFridayFootage! Woohoo!


Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Frustration of Feedback

As my querying goes south, I've been trying to gather more feedback to figure out where I might be going wrong. Looking for new betas for my manuscripts. Sending my query letter through an intensive critiquing over at Absolute Write. Getting books on revising and editing to warm up for my next revision.

Ah, feedback.

It's a double-edged sword, isn't it? As a writer, I want people to read my work. I don't write for myself (I mean I do, in the general sense, but for me the purpose of any specific work is to be read). Knowing how real, actual readers respond to the work is invaluable. But at this stage, the work isn't perfected, at least as much as any finally released product will be. There's so much wrong with it, and it can be hard to show that to another person. What if they think I'm a bad writer forever? Not to mention that hearing harsh criticisms of something that has been the result of months, even years, of work can be difficult.

I have a pretty thick skin. I definitely fall more on the "all the feedback!" side of the spectrum. I want to know where my manuscript falls down. I need the perspective that I can never have as the author. I have no problem sending my manuscript out there to betas or others.

Then the first response comes in. Sure, there's a lot of problems they've found. But it starts to give me an idea of what I need to work on. The manuscript starts to feel fixable.

Then the second response comes in. And, wtf, it's completely different!

Everyone has different preferences in a story. Some people will identify with characters and some won't. The feedback can be all over the place. It can be enough to make the manuscript seem an irredeemable mess. If everyone finds a different problem, that means there are infinite problems!! 

Okay, deep breath.

The great thing about readers is that they are all different. There is no universally beloved book—no, really, not a single one. Gathering a wide range of feedback is excellent, but a manuscript could be crippled by trying to cater to everyone one of them. Just got to take the advice that resonates, fix the unintentional mistakes, look for common issues. And remember: in the end, it's your book. Take what you can use from the feedback, but write the book you want to write!

This is for the guy whose name is an instant touchstone for "brilliant author." And not by some illiterate schmoe.

(PS, if anyone is interested in reading a YA fantasy or adult SF...)

Friday, July 18, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "The Ferry"

I am so excited for WEEK TWO of my new series #FlashFridayFootage.

I'll be honest, guys: I am not a video editor. I know, I know, it doesn't show at all, right? Ha! In any case, I appreciate your patience as I work out some of the kinks with recording videos. And just keep in mind that a little cheesiness is classic SFF!

This week's story is called "The Ferry." Take it away, Nora!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Need Help: Blank Notebooks Edition

I have a confession, internet. I have an obsession with blank notebooks. I cannot resist their siren call. I stop at the notebooks aisle in Target just to flip through them. It's not just fancy notebooks, either! A simple one subject Mead can tempt me to plunk down my credit card. Not that I can say no to the thick-paged, leather journals either!

I don't know quite how to explain it. I haven't written anything significant in longhand since the first draft of novel 1 (about four years ago). I journal on a very sporadic basis. I could easily get by with one or two notebooks, but I have far, far more than that...

When I decided to write this post, I spent maybe 5 minutes collecting notebooks. This is what I found in that space of time (it's definitely not all of them):

A spiral of spiral bounds!

Do I use these notebooks? Ummmm...well...okay, there's maybe 50 pages in use between all of them. Whenever I buy a notebook I try to come up with a use for it. Sometimes I will actually use it for that. Usually that lasts about a week and then it is relegated to a dusty shelf or storage bin. Or the floor of my office, which I swear I am going to clean soon (probably when I move next month).

Let's take a quick tour of a few selected notebooks, shall we?

The red marker was the only one I had. Ugh. Clash.

This notebook, as it is so helpfully labeled, is part of my unofficial studies of philosophy. This is a subject that has always interested me—probably not surprising considering my father is a philosophy professor. He bought me Sophie's World when I was in 5th grade, and to this day it is one of my favorite books. I've probably read it at least five times. So anyway, this notebook was for my thoughts while reading Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers, a 203-page book I bought five (?) years ago, of which I am on page 21. Similarly, I have used 20 pages of this 3-subject notebook. I swear, I am going to get back to this! Someday...

Oooh, another spiral!

This is a sketchbook. I bought it early in 2013 to create a record/motivation of my weight loss. At the time I was 155 lbs (up from a low of 149) and worried about the gain. I used 5 pages in the book and my weight is currently 160 lbs. Oops.

Told you I couldn't resist Meads.

This notebook was purchased over five years ago to be my at-work notebook. However, the tag did not come off the front very easily, as you can see. So it got relegated to scrap paper. Over half the pages have been torn out over the years, and I haven't used it in gods know how long, but I still keep it under my end table. Just in case.

I feel daydreamy just looking at it!

This is one of those notebooks that I bought solely because it was cute, while insisting that I was going to use it to jot down writing ideas. (I have a whole other writing notebook that isn't even in the stack above, by the way.) I have used exactly 1 page since I bought it over a year ago. But it's still damn cute!

Orange is my favorite color, if the blog theme doesn't give it away.

This is my hard copy journal. I have had this since the beginning of 2012, and well, that bookmark should tell you just how much I've used it. Although the times I have, it has been very therapeutic! Speaking of which, I really need to journal. Maybe tomorrow.


This is an example of actually needing and using a notebook! I bought this cutie specifically for the purpose of doing problem sets/exams from my actuary textbooks. I used an entire other notebook and this one is 3/4 full. Of course I stopped studying for an actuary career (no jobs in my geographic location), but I can't get rid of the notebook. You never know when it'll come in handy again!

So, there we have it. A small sampling of my deep and abiding love for blank notebooks. You might think that, being aware of the problem, I would be able to resist the lure. HA. Just today I was flipping through some blanks at Target, and I think I know which one I'm going to get next!

And don't even get me started on pens...

Friday, July 11, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage is Here!! "The Launch"


The moment we've all been waiting for: #FlashFridayFootage has gone LIVE!

Every Friday, enjoy a quick dose of science fiction/fantasy in the form of an author (me!) reading original, never-before-published flash fiction stories. The stories are all less than 500 words, and the videos will be less than 2 minutes (approximately—don't mind the extra :20 on this one!). I hope it will be a great start to your weekend.

This week's story is "The Launch." I admit to choosing this one for the fact that it is the launch of FFF!

Enjoy the very first one:

I really hate the thumbnails YouTube comes up with...

Monday, July 7, 2014

An Ode to My Support Staff

I wanted to write about something a little bit different today.

Writing is a very solitary endeavor. Only room for one butt in the chair and one set of hands on the keyboard, after all. Ideas spring into my head from nowhere and everywhere, and they are scribbled on scrap paper or jotted into my notebooks or typed into random Word files. Some are not written down until they are ready to come together into something new. Some never leave my head at all. This is all an individual effort.

But no man is an island, as much as I sometimes try to be. So today I want to write about someone who is indirectly indispensable to my writing process. Especially because this week he is leaving on deployment, and I don't even know what I am going to do!

His name is Jon.

Jon and I went on our first date November 26, 2011 if you ask me. If you ask him, it was the 25th. Depends on whether you want to count a certain tennis match. Anyway, it's been a while!

I don't remember when I first told him about my writing. It was within the first six months or so. Now, my writing is not a secret. I am not ashamed of my writing (obviously, hence the public blog about it!), and I will usually discuss it with just about anyone. But it is very personal for me. I don't typically bring it up unless asked, and I don't usually describe it in much detail. So it was just incredible how he always made me feel comfortable about being open with him and how supportive he has been.

He has read manuscripts that no one but myself has ever seen. He will listen to me bitch and moan about the publishing process. When I don't feel like writing, he encourages me to give it a shot anyway. He is unbelievably supportive, and I think sometimes he has more confidence that I am going to "make it" than I do. (It probably helps that he is not as familiar with the crushingly depressing statistics and process of actually doing that.) He understands when I just have to disappear into my office for a couple hours. He lifts me up when I am dejected and sick of rejection without acting like everything is sugar drops and gum balls.

I could be a writer without my boyfriend. But I am so glad I don't have to be! Thanks, boobear, I love you!!

Now there's a damn cute couple! ;)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 2014 Wrap-Up

It's been a while since I've done a monthly summary post. When I'm not producing a new MS, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. But since I started a new novel this month, well, here I go!

June was a great month for me in writing. I wrote what I felt to be a kick-ass query. I participated in and "won" #SFFpit. I sent out a ton of queries. I had a plot idea, outlined it, and started writing novel 7. I joined the amazing Absolute Write forums. Being without a day job is undoubtedly good news for my writing. It really makes me want to be able to pursue being a novelist full time. Alas, I don't have the savings for that. So the job hunt continues.

I didn't set any concrete goals for June, except to start the querying process, but if I had I think I would have met them all! Here are the nuts and bolts of June 2014:

Words written: 15,385 (!)*
Non-writing days: 16
Agents queried: 33
Rejections received: 8 forms, 1 from a partial request
Publishers queried: 2
Rejections received: 1 personalized

*This makes June 2014 the most productive month I have ever had for wordcount. At least going back to the inception of my tracker spreadsheet, 2011. That includes an attempt at NaNoWriMo!

With such an excellent June on the books, I just know July is going to be even better. Those June words mostly resulted from a 14 day writing streak on novel 7. I've blogged before about the importance of momentum, and I clearly have it. The streak was broken due to a Disneyland trip yesterday, but tonight it begins again!

So, the goal for July is 750 words a day, for a daunting total of 23,250 words. Also no more than 10 non-writing days! I think that is completely achievable. We'll see!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sometimes the Magic Works

It has never been a secret that I want to be a writer, so it is totally normal that I received Terry Brooks's Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life for Christmas sometime in high school. (The book was published in 2003, so probably my junior year.) I read the book a couple times, but this is not going to be a review of that book. Mostly because I don't remember it well enough to say much about it! (The thing that sticks out most is him saying that lounging by the pool with a drink is working for a writer mulling over ideas. I think of that almost every time I go to laze outside!)

But the title of the book, ah now there is something. That has been popping into my head all week. Why? Because it's true. Sometimes the magic works! And it is amazing.

Writing is not an easy business. I've never heard of anyone say otherwise. There are days—and months and years—where it can be incredibly frustrating. I don't even want to go in to how many times I have been checking my email, refreshing my QueryTracker list for new comments, stalking agents on Twitter hoping to glean a hint of where they are at with queries, checking my email again, etc... Rejections mount up. Ideas dry up. Words refuse to come. We wonder why we ever wanted to do this at all, and we think about giving up.

But then! There are the times that we write and write. That what we are writing may not be earth-shatteringly great, but it's pretty damn good. It's a book that I want to be written just so I can read it already. Words pour forth, scenes flow, a book comes together almost as we envision. It makes almost everything else worthwhile, to be caught up in the creation of an entirely new thing that has never existed before. It can't really be predicted or pinned down or explained completely. We take it when we can get it.

Sometimes the magic works.

I still have the book! It sits on my shelf between Theodore Rex and Service Etiquette. And don't judge my messy office!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Every Writer's Most and Least Favorite Part*

*Note: I have no idea if other writers feel the same way, the title just sounds better that way!

There are a lot of things I love about writing. The way I can send myself anywhere in space and time and universe. When my characters come to life and make me laugh or cry. That moment when I look up and realize two hours have flown by while I was engrossed.

There are a lot of things I hate about writing. The crushing feeling that my writing is not good enough. The hopeless mountain of rejections. When my characters refuse to do anything believable and creak across my landscape as cardboard cutouts. That moment when I look up and realize it's been two hours and I still haven't written a damn thing.

But one of the things I both love and hate is that first step. The beginning.

A moment of sheer terror and joy.

You've created in your mind this wonderful novel that you are going to write. You've plotted and planned it out (if you're like me!). It is going to be funny and heartbreaking and speak to our inner fears of loss and the pointlessness of life and the meaning of home and family. In your mind, it is an unputdownable masterpiece. The possibilities are endless!

Unfortunately, one of those possibilities is that what you write will in no way live up to what you've envisioned. For me, the doubt can creep in almost immediately. "That's a terrible first sentence. Where's the hook?!" you might wail. You picture a legion of readers being bored by the first paragraph and putting your book back on the shelf (but wait, that's assuming that it doesn't go straight to the circular file of every agent, editor, or publisher that looks at it!). The first scene is limp. The second is too short. You're giving too much detail, you're not giving enough.

It's maddening. While the page is blank, it could become anything. And you're so excited to start crafting, but once the page begins to fill up, reality sinks in.

But the best solution is to just push through! I'm not one who believes in the Total Shit First Draft, but I also don't believe that the work is set in stone from the first keystroke. Write something decent now, get it down there, and polish into the beauty it could be later.

I am onto the third chapter of my new novel (novel 7, it shall be known), whose very beginning is pictured above. It is still an exciting ride and I hope it remains so until the end!