Sunday, June 30, 2013


Today is a very special day on my blog. Today I get to host debut author, Irene Rose and her CHARCOAL AND HOT CHOCOLATE blog tour.

The concept for this story is near and dear to my heart because I began college as an Art major. I spent many hours swooning over the hot, brooding, artsy, hipsters. #yum

And CHARCOAL AND HOT CHOCOLATE sounds like so much yum. Check out this blurb:

College life is a breath of fresh air for 20 year old Ellie Baylor, a painfully shy but beautiful art major. She has her canvas and charcoal and that's more than enough. Her choice to go to school far from home and the watchful eye of her strict parents seems like the perfect thing for smooth sailing into an easy life. But when River Daniels, a charming artist with eyes the color of hot chocolate, asks her to join him in a project for class, Ellie may get more than just an A. She might find out how to live.

Sounds amazeballs, right? Here are the links to purchase your very own steamy copy:
Amazon, B&N, Kobo

This is the first New Adult novel by Irene Rose (aka Angie Black, the prolific twitter goddess). If twitter is any indication then CHARCOAL AND HOT CHOCOLATE is the first of many stories we can expect from Angie/Irene.

Have you read CHARCOAL? Did you love it?
Have you read any other romances you’ve adored? Share your rec’s here:

Friday, June 28, 2013

I Can Haz Productivity: June 2013 month in review

Before we party for the 4th of July I thought I'd take a moment to review my activity this month. June has been a whirlwind in more ways than one.

There was my big, bad parole from my corporate day job and all of that it entails (celebrations, cry-fests, meetings with mentors, networking, networking, and more networking). All of that snowballed into interviews and temporary job offers which was exciting, if not a little dizzying.

From there we had the widely celebrated DOMA decision bringing equality to more Americans. *throws unicorns and cupcakes*

But that’s not all, folks. There’s more!(said in manner of infomercial sales person)

June saw the epic debut of #MSWL (manuscript wish list). I got sucked into reading more tweets in 24 hours than ever while #MSWL was live. If you missed it, check it out here. Agents and Editors spewed their wish list deets in an easily searchable, readable, format. I found several Agents that seemed to be a great fit for my work. *fingers crossed*

But all of this amazing activity took time away from writing. Which is okay, I learned the hard way (last month) not to set a goal of 1k a day. *coughs* My chops aren’t that good…yet. Instead I set my go-to goal of 300 words a day.

Sadly, I did not hit my 300 words-a-day goal.

I’ve got words on the page which is what matters. I’m still struggling to wrap up my SF-R WIP. It’s the transition from middle to end that I just can’t get right….I see many hours of research in my future.

The month of June was rocky but I was able to write. The resulting productivity is as follows:

16 blog posts, including:
2 reviews
2 author interviews
2 posts on goals - hahaha
4 novels read

For a grand total of 4,471 words. Not bad, not bad at all. And even better, this brings my total ‘tracked’ word count for the year to 31,654!

Check out how I did in May, April, and March.

I’m still feeling out what my true ‘reach’ goal should be. 1k is too big and 300k might be too low. I feel like I was way busier with ‘stuff’ in May and still managed to kick out a ton of words. Then there’s June and I’m less busy with ‘stuff’ and more busy with ‘feels’ and I barely produce at all (relatively speaking).

How do you determine you daily word goals?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fave Fictional Crushes

There are a lot of awesome themes in YA lit: identity, sexuality, friendship, family, love. One of my favorite elements of YA are the heartthrob, dreamboat, boys. *swoons* Here are 4 of my Fave Fictional Boytoys. (Warning: swooning likely ahead)

1. Cricket Bell from Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. Here’s a pic that pretty well captures the Cricket-ness I adore:

He’s patient, good, gorgeous, and did I say patient? I think one of the best things about Cricket is that he is so patient with Lola. He’s willing to wait for her *sigh*

Here’s a quote:

“I know you aren’t perfect. But its a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.”
- Stephanie Perkins, Lola and the Boy Next Door

*Swoons* with a capital S.

2. Kaidan Rowe from the Sweet Evil series by Wendy Higgins. This is how I imagine him. Isn’t he dreamy:

He’s a bad boy to the bone – he’s part demon. He’s sexy, British, and devious. He may be part demon but his heart is all good. The war of good and evil within Kaidan makes him complex and sympathetic.

Here’s a quote:

“I felt you come alive when we kissed, and I know you’re afraid of that. Afraid to
unleash that other side of yourself. ”
― Wendy Higgins, Sweet Evil

3. Dean from Dracian Legacy by Priya Kanaparti. And this is how I imagine him to look:

Now Dean is not my typical crush. He’s not outwardly sensitive or sweet. No. Dean is outwardly rough and has a low tolerance for girls who feel sorry for themselves. I like Dean because he drives the women around him to be better, stronger, and more confident.

4. Elias from One by Leigh Ann Kopans. Eyes, feast on this (a nearly perfect photo of my brain’s rendering of Elias):

Elias shares a lot of characteristics with my usual crush type: he’s kind, sensitive, caring, and all around good. He openly loves his family (which is cute in teens and especially teen boys). Elias is also like Dean in that he drives his leading lady to be better and stronger. He’s a dreamboat.

Who is your favorite fictional crush?

Want more gushing over fictional heartthrobs? Check out these links:
Fictional Crushes and what they say about us

Biggest Fictional Crushes of All Time

5 Fictional Boys I Wish Were Real

Monday, June 24, 2013

Maven Blog Tour - Warning Girl Cooties

Today I’m pleased to have a guest: Starla Huchton. You may remember when I we revealed the cover for her most recent novel: Maven.

She’s back for the Maven blog tour and has agreed to an interview. But before I pester her with questions lets learn more about Maven.

Maven is Starla’s NA Science Fiction Romance available for purchase here, here, and here.

Check out the blurb:

How far would you go for love?

Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.

Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.

Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?

Sounds cool, right? So now on to the part where I bombard the wonderful, talented, gorgeous Starla Huchton with questions.

1. So Starla, Maven is the first book in your SciFi-Romance series: Endure. And during my research I discovered Maven is not the only SciFi novel you’ve written. In fact, you’ve won awards for your previous SciFi works. So tell me, why SciFi?

SH: Well, to be honest, Science Fiction was not my first love when it came to the books I read when I was younger. I read some, but found so much of it to be dry expositions on technology with any lack of character depth. I was a fantasy girl for the most part, though there were some SciFi stories that drew me in (notably the Dune series and ALL of Douglas Adams’s writing). In my writing it was a strangely natural progression. The first novel I ever completed was a Fantasy novel. My second project came along about two years later, at which point I had discovered Steampunk and fell in love. It was sort of a gateway drug, if you will. Master of Myth (Antigone’s Wrath #1) was an experiment. It has a definite fantasy thread (the magical energy of aether), which is a huge part of the story, but when you’re talking about true Steampunk, you’re talking guns, gears, goggles, and gizmos. That required research, mostly because I knew very little about any of it. Once I got started, though, I found I really, really enjoyed it! Strange for someone who’s a graphic designer, writer, musician, and voice artist (all the artsy fartsy stuff) who’s stayed far, far away from anything related to math (and, somewhat by extension, science, because OMG MATH). Researching for my writing became a bit of an addiction, actually. The further I go, the more I am driven to get it right. What I’ve discovered, much more so in Maven than in the Steampunk, is how fascinating the science of all this stuff is. Ever heard the word supercavitation? I hadn’t, but once I knew what it was and what it looked like… *sigh* be still my geeky little heart. I’m discovering this new (for me) excitement about science (still so weird to see me saying that!), and my hope is that my books share a bit of that with others that never gave it much thought before. (Now go Google supercavitation and tell me that’s not cool!)

2. I can relate to so much of that (OMG MATH #yuck and NERD RESEARCH #joy). I have to ask, as a veteran SciFi-Fantasy (SFF) author what do you think about the recent hoopla in the bloggosphere about Romance destroying the purity of SFF?

SH: Oh, honey. How much time you got? ;)

This supposed “purity” of SFF is such a silly concept to me. Science Fiction and Fantasy have ALWAYS been the domains of those who wanted to push the envelope. Whether that was to talk about taboo cultural/racial/societal issues or to completely reinvent the world, that’s what SFF was all about! It’s supposed to be something new or different. That’s what it’s FOR… at least, it used to be. That is to say, IT CAN BE EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING. SFF “purists” have gotten so caught up in the tropes and rules they defined for themselves (not outsiders, the actual SFF community did this) that they’ve forgotten the beauty of these genres. I don’t give one whiff about Author X’s portrayal of Faster Than Light travel versus Author Y’s take. They’re so caught up in arguing these fine points no one cares about that they’re turning their novels into doctoral dissertations instead of enjoyable stories.

So why can’t I have a little action with my “action”? Why can’t I throw a little smexy on that science? I, and others like me, have been doing this (some for years and years), not because some crusty old white dude from the 1960s heyday of pulp novels says we can, but because I (we) say, WHY NOT?

The issue goes much deeper than that (OMG GIRL COOTIES!), but let’s move on for the moment.

3. Eeew, cooties. LOL. Some fairly prominent writers and bloggers have spoken out about sexism and misogyny in the SFF realm. What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you feel sexism in SFF is an issue?

SH: It is ALWAYS an issue. Not only in SFF, but since that’s what you’re asking about specifically, we’ll go there with it.

What people like Ann Aguirre have spoken about is so sadly common. If you write, you’re an author. If you write and happen to have girl parts, you’re a FEMALE author. We’re spoken about and written about as though we’re a minority, and yet women are 51% of the ENTIRE WORLD POPULATION. “Author” is, by default, engrained in our heads as “male”. And yet, just in looking at my Twitter stream, where I see bloggers, agents, editors, authors… the majority of them are female. Yet I still hear them classified as “Lady Agent”, “Female Blogger”, etc, constantly, as though this somehow has some bearing on how well they do their job or how competent they are in regards to books. My ability to pull off a chainmail bikini has ZERO impact on the words I put on the page, yet the Miss America standard still applies. Who cares what she says if she can’t rock the swimsuit competition?

I’m going to make it a point to start calling them Male Authors and Boy Writers (making sure to put a nice sarcastic slant on the first word) from now on. If they can give me a qualifier, they should expect the same.

In the words of Eve Ensler, “I LOVE BEING A GIRL”. Also: RAWR.

4. Rawr indeed. I think we see a bit of that Girl Power in Maven. The Protag, Dr. Lydia Ashley, is a young, successful woman in a field full of men. Tell me, is any part of Maven autobiographical?

SH: Hmm. Tricky question. I think every author imbues a bit of themselves in their characters to some extent. Honestly, I’m as much Daniel as I am Lydia. I have those same impulsive emotional moments he does, yet I can be every bit the pragmatist Lydia is.

Speaking specifically to Lydia, though, I don’t know how autobiographical I would consider that character. I actually had a semi-lucid dream about someone leaving a Maven review that said I didn’t adequately address the gender discrimination issue specifically where the military was concerned (these are my worries, lol). At least for that much, I can speak to why I wrote Lydia and the story the way I did.

I spent over five years in the United States Navy. Never once was I harassed on the job or treated differently because I was female. Now, off hours might be a little different story, but in the way that a college class is different from what goes on at the bar on Saturday night. I did my job, I was smart and competent (I actually ran the base print shop when we were out someone to fill a senior leadership position for a six-month period… I was twenty-two), and conducted myself the way any professional person would. I was never met with anything but respect and attentiveness when I addressed those in command or those I supervised. As that was my own personal experience, that probably leaked into Maven more than a little. Sure, the military isn’t perfect, and I wasn’t in a stressful combat situation, but I spoke to what I know and what I continue to know, as my husband is a Naval Officer now.

Also, Maven is set forty years in the future. I might be too optimistic here, but I hold out hope that things will get better as far as gender issues go.

5. Wow, I have to say thank you for your service. And you’ve been great sport so far. One last question: If you could go out for one wild night of drinking with any fictional character, who would it be? (And BTW, there is not chance of a hangover the next day)

SH: Well, that’s not a question I expected after all that heaviness! But, I think I have an answer that might be as unexpected.

See, when I go out drinking, I do one of two things: One, I tend to fall into really deep, heavy conversations with one person or a very small group of people. We divulge secrets. We psychoanalyze and advise one another. We give and gain insights. We also get stupid, crazy sloshed in the process. It’s AWESOME. For this, I would request the presence of one Edmund Dantes from the Count of Monte Cristo. An odd choice, you say? No way. That’s one of my favorite books EVAR and I want to know all of Edmund’s secrets!

The second type of drinking I do sees me breaking into song, be it at karaoke or someone whipping out a guitar, or just because I AM THAT DRUNK. If you’re gonna do a thing, do it all the way! And for that, I’m jumping over to anime! I’ll need Seiya, Taiki, and Yaten (the Starlights) from Sailor Moon STARS as backup! Male or female form, who cares! Sing yer hearts out and help me take the stage! It’ll also be AWESOME. (And most everyone goes: Who what now??? I am SUCH a dork. LMAO)

OMG, I love those answers. I'm a huge fan of the Count of Monte Cristo and a complete fangirl for Sailor Moon. I would totally crash that party! Thanks again for swinging by the Blog and congratulations on the release of Maven.

No blog tour is complete without a raffle.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find out more about Starla and her books on her website, Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter.

Author Bio:

Starla Huchton released her first novel, The Dreamer's Thread, as a full cast podcast production beginning in August 2009. Her first foray went on to become a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. Since her debut, Starla's voice has appeared in other podcasts including The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, The Drabblecast, and Erotica a la Carte. She is also a voice talent for Darkfire Productions, and narrates several of their projects, including The Emperor's Edge series, This Path We Share, and others. Her writing has appeared in the Erotica a la Carte podcast, a short story for The Gearheart (earning her a third Parsec nomination), and an episode of the Tales from the Archives podcast (the companion to Tee Morris and Philippa Balantine's Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series), which garnered her a second finalist badge from the 2012 Parsec Awards. Her second novel, a Steampunk adventure entitled Master of Myth, was the first place winner in the Fantasy/Science Fiction category of The Sandy Writing Contest held annually by the Crested Butte Writers Conference. Maven is her third completed novel and the first in a planned series of four, being released under the name S. A. Huchton.

After completing her degree in Graphic Arts, Starla opened up shop as a freelance graphic designer focusing on creating beautiful book covers for independent authors and publishers. She currently lives in Virginia where she trains her three Minions and military husband.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: ONE by Leigh Ann Kopan

I’m sure you’ve heard of ONE by Leigh Ann Kopans. Her book, and journey to publication, has made some waves throughout the twitterverse. I’ve been a long time follower of Leigh Ann and was really looking forward to ONE, her debut YA SciFi/Paranormal Romance Adventure of Awesome. Think X-Men, but cooler and more vulnerable.

Here’s a brief summary of the plot. Don’t worry, No SPOILERS here. I wouldn’t do that to you. This is taken from the blurb:

When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.

I know you totally want to buy it after that awesome blurb, right? Here are the links you need to make ONE yours: Amazon, Barnes & Nobel.

The book is a fun, fast read. I loved Merrin and Elias. When I started reading ONE I couldn’t stop. I think I finished this book in less than 20 hrs. So when I say it’s fun, I mean it.

Aside from a few minor plot inconsistencies (the Hub is underground but the dome for the Arena opens to the air? Is that an inconsistency? It just got my brain bubbling.) it was Amazeballs. I’m hungry for TWO which isn’t scheduled to drop until Oct. Sheesh. This wait might kill me. If only I had the super power of Waiting Patiently for Awesome Books….but I don’t. So until I meet my ‘Elias’ I’m going to be pacing, impatiently waiting for TWO.

Four out of five kitties for ONE by Leigh Ann Kopans.

Have you read ONE? What did you think?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Avoiding Neckbeards - aka setting new goals

Now that I find myself paroled from Corporate America I have a lot more time on my hands. Time for reading, writing, and blogging. I can no longer use the go-to excuse:

But time can also be a problem. A person can literally drown in too much free time. I’ve seen it. Not pretty. See neckbeard below:

I'm about two days away from being that guy. So I feel like it’s time for a new set of writing goals. Call these short term goals – since the length of my parole is undetermined. And I think it’s important to articulate the non-writing goals along with the writing goals. Why not? Right?

New Short Term Goals:

1. Wake up at a decent time – no sleeping in

2. Work out regularly (it always sparks ideas). I’m thinking running, or Zumba, or something

3. Write 5 days a week for 4 weeks

4. Spend time at the pool, because, you know, who doesn’t want to spend time at the pool?

5. Post three blogs a week

6. Clean one item (floors, counters, bathroom, etc) in the house every other day

7. Finish draft of WIP

8. Read, read, read

9. Go to bed at a decent time each night – no staying up too late to finish goal 5, 7, or 8

I’m sure I’m going to miss a few of these goals. I'm going to go ahead and say the chores goal is a long shot. Unless there are cute kittens available to assist.

Anyone who diets knows that there are days when your resolve crumbles and you just pig out on chocolate and potato chips (wait, chocolate covered potato chips sound really good right now. Are those a thing?).

Losing your willpower for one day, or even a few days, doesn’t have to derail your goals. I mean you wouldn’t get rid of your car if it got one flat tire.

The point of setting goals is to whisper the ideas out loud. Document them. When you breathe life into them they gain momentum and momentum is a powerful thing.

What do you do to gain momentum?

Need more on how our Day Jobs can make us better writers?

Check out this post about taking criticism.

Or this post on Stability and Creativity.

Or this post on Discipline - you gotta have it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Paroled From Corporate America - part 2 dealing with disappointment

At its heart, disappointment is a big, itchy symptom of change. If you missed my earlier post on disappointment/change, check it out here.

Like a festering, oozing case of poison ivy, change is uncomfortable. Usually because we didn’t want it in the first place or didn’t see it coming. If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’m about to begin a parole from my Day Job (aka, I got laid off).

And as fun and shiny as a lot of time off sounds it tastes bittersweet.

With any change there are three stages:

At first I thought I was still firmly entrenched in the disorientation phase. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bitter or disoriented. But I realized that I’ve actually been on a rollercoaster speeding through all three phases. It’s like a ride that has a busted lap bar and I’m stuck repeating it over, and over, and over again until maintenance can bust me out.

Luckily, I’m not too far gone to realize this life lesson has some real parallels to publishing.

Whether it’s a query letter that fails to find its audience or a published authors’ newest MS that fails to earn a book contract – writers get ‘fired’ a lot. I think it comes with the territory of playing in the subjective, entertainment space. Of course, it's not all bad, as Jess so eloquently states below:

Anyway: Let’s dissect my termination experience to see what gems we can take away.

Disorientation: Some things don’t work out the way we want them to. Or throw ‘want’ out the flipping window. Sometimes life surprises us and things don’t work out the way we ever imagined. It sucks but you wake up each day, get dressed, and keep breathing. At least I do.

Reorientation: This is flight or fight. I generally opt for fight but you may feel differently. I’m currently dipping my toe into these waters.

Maybe a small voice in your head is telling you to give up? Fight it. Don’t let the nay-sayers win. Lack of confidence is common in the artist community, see Natalie Whipple’s recent post on the subject here.

Reorientation is all about digging into your reservoir of amazeballs determination. It’s all about pulling yourself out of the vat of self-pity in which you’ve been wallowing. But that’s not to say I haven't had a good cry (or two three four five...) during the reorientation phase.

Oh, I cry. A. LOT.

But I do it at home, where no one is watching.

I feel the feels and then I move on.

This, my friends, brings us to the final stage of coping with change: Commitment.

Through all of my days on the DJ and query trenches I’ve learned there is only one thing we can control, and I’ll give you a guess what it is (hint: It’s not the agent or editor reading your query – I’ve already tried my mind control techniques to no avail).

The only thing we can control is us. Our attitude. Our drive. Our will to never give up. That’s the one thing we can control and we must. It’s our true north. It’s our compass that will lead us out of disorientation and back into the world. We must be the masters of our spirit because if we let ‘them’ beat us down and push us around we wilt away to nothing. At least I do.

I can’t tolerate long in a place where my voice is not heard.

So the more I write about publishing and the more I throw myself into this field I see that this life, writing, is really self employment. And that’s true whether you go trad pub or indie pub. You control your fate, to a certain extent, because you control your attitude.

This situation is entirely within your control – because you are the situation. You decide how you’ll face today, and tomorrow, and the next day. You decide which fork to take in a yellow wood.

Commit to it. And yes change is hard, but it’s your move. What will it be?

Need more on how our Day Jobs can make us better writers?

Check out this post about taking criticism.

Or this post on Stability and Creativity.

Or this post on Discipline - you gotta have it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Writing Goals - are you flatlining?

Have your efforts flatlined?

And no, I don't mean that awesome old movie where Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, and Keifer go crazy and push the envelope of 'near' death experiences. Although, I did love that movie when I was a kid.

I can't believe it's already June. June means more than conferences, sunshine, and vacation. It means we are half way through 2013. Woo hoo!!*blows horn* *throws cupcakes* *releases unicorns*

It also means it's time to look back at our list of goals to determine where we are and what our next steps should be.

This year I have 10 writing goals. Probably not a lot compared to some of my super-human-multi-tasking, writerly friends but still. It's a start.

Here's where I am so far:

1. Finish Draft 10 of WIP (Done, 1.27.13)

2. Query WIP beginning in April (Done - Started and stopped...but definitely started in April)

3. Finish Nano Project between April - July (underway...)

4. Build twitter network to 300 followers (Done, 5.21.13)

5. Join the LitReactor community (Done, 1.25.13)

6. Take a writing class (Done - Litreactor YA class, Feb)

7. Join a professional writers group (Money is tight so this might be tough)

8. Attend a conference?? Scary one (Booked RWA 2013!! - Eek!)

9. Enter 2 contests - fun goal (1st contest entered in May. One down, one to go: *Update* second contest entered in July! woo hoo!)

10. Blog regularly - at least once a month (underway...)

6 of my 10 writing goals are already complete. That's pretty awesome if you ask me. A lot of momentum. Which is what happens when you write things down. (Funny how that works - right?)

As far as next steps? I think I'm going to keep pushing forward. And who knows, I might even add a goal or two before the year is out.

Where are you? Are you tracking progress towards completing your writing goals?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Life of a Writer: Dealing with Disappointment

If you follow this blog you know I’ve been running a series of posts about how your Day Job, or DJ as I call it, can make you a better writer. So far we’ve covered everything from how your DJ can inspire you to build complex worlds to how the DJ can reinforce the discipline needed to actually finish that gawd-dernd-draft.

But today I’m not talking about something so pretty. There are some dark and dirty things the DJ can teach you. I need to talk about something very real, and a little emotional.


As writers disappointment or rejection lurks around every corner and plot turn. Some might say this industry is cruel but I think it’s clever, really. I mean writers as a general rule are a sensitive lot. Forcing us to go through the publishing equivalent of the Hunger Games for the top prize of an Agent or book contract will certainly weed out the disappointment-adverse writers leaving more Agent’s for the rest of us.

What better way to prepare for the barrage of disappointment waiting for you in the pub world than a trusty ol’ DJ? The DJ is also ripe with disappointment. DJ disappointment comes in all shapes and sizes:

Maybe a coworker throws you under the bus during a big meeting. Maybe your office manager replaced the coffee with hot tar from the parking lot. Maybe that masterpiece of a spreadsheet you worked on for three hours vanishes without a prayer’s chance in hell of getting recovered.

Whether you’re getting a crappy review from an absentee boss, losing the big account to a competitor, or getting laid off, the DJ is a great place to hone the skill of recovering from disappointment.

A thick skin and stubborn, ‘never-give-up’ attitude can take you far in life.

Do you have a thick skin? How did you get the ‘never-give-up’ attitude?

Want to read more about Disappointment? Try this post by FinerMinds.

Need more on how our Day Jobs can make us better writers?

Check out this post about taking criticism.

Or this post on Stability and Creativity.

Or this post on Discipline - you gotta have it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hitting the Write Note

Music is inspiring. It energizes us, moves us, and gets our creative juices flowing.

I recently had the pleasure of doing a guest post on The Writer Diaries blog about music as inspiration. If you don’t know The Writer Diaries you should check it out here.

One song recently tapped into my well of my creative juices (okay, that sounds gross but you know what I mean):

Title: Radioactive
By: Imagine Dragons

I was driving home from work and this song came on the radio. I got chills. The constant parade of shitty Day Job thoughts derailed. My mind jumped to my YA SciFi in which medical science has advanced enough to transplant human consciousness from one living body to another. There are *HUGE* transformations that take place in my characters’ world and, as you can imagine, some of them are down right dark.

The tone of Radioactive is similar. It’s dark and it’s angsty. The subject matter deals heavily with transformation.

Here are some of the lyrics:

I'm waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I'm breathing in the chemicals

I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive

I envisioned my character sitting up, after having just had a procedure completed, and hearing this song as she walks to the mirror to inspect her newly modified body for the first time. I got shuddered. Chills. Big time.

I don’t even remember how I got home that day. I remember driving and I remember the song coming on while I was trapped in a traffic jam. And then I was home. Transported or distracted…either way, I was home and typing my newest scene all because of a song.

What songs have inspired your work?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

WTF doesn't mean Wire Tap Freelancers - or does it?

I’m very disturbed by all the scandal surrounding the wire taps on journalists lately. If you haven’t heard about it (were you living under a rock?) check out your trusted internet news outlet for more details. I'm not hear to discuss the details, so here's my one sentence, high level overview:

Allegedly, the American government violated individual liberty by tapping the phones and emails of journalists.

Who know’s if it was legal or illegal. I’ll leave that to be answered by people much smarter than me.

What worries me is how these taps seem to violate the sanctity of journalism. I’m sure you’re laughing at me now. You’re thinking ‘the media is as corrupt as politicians.’ And maybe you’re right about the media machine. But I have to believe there are individuals who pursue journalism for pure reasons: for the love of writing and for the passion to bring information to the people.

In school I studied English literature. We had classes in journalism but not a formal program. My outlet for journalistic interests was the school paper. I joined and eventually took a turn as Editor-in-Chief. Well, my two BFF’s at the time and I shared the title. So I guess we were Editors-in-Chief.

Covering campus events was a challenge and a privilege. I helped to cover student government events, social events, theater, sports, and even guest-speakers who came to our little town. The biggest guest speaker I covered was former Pakistani Prime Minister, since assassinated, Benazir Bhutto.

I always got a thrill out of seeing my by line. But I wrote for reasons other than my ego. I wrote because I believed in it. I saw reporters as the eyes and ears of every man – charged with capturing as much, as honestly, as possible – because an individual cannot be everywhere. I believed giving the information the people was important. I believed asking questions about the world around us was even more important.

And this is what journalism means to me: sharing information and critical thinking. One of the pinnacles of journalism is the anonymity of sources. If reporters roll on their sources less people will be willing to blow the whistle.

Will the scandal over wire taps on journalists phones serve to further erode the public’s faith in journalism? How will this impact the future generation of journalists?

I don’t claim to know the answers here. Regardless of the answer, I believe it’s important to ask the question.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Who Still Needs a Security Blanket? This Girl.

I have this sweatshirt. It’s ugly and old and definitely stained. It’s faded and dated and is generally thought to be hideous.

So of course I freaking love this sweatshirt. Check it out:

I first came across it when I was house-sitting for my in-laws. The sweatshirt was hanging in my father-in-law’s (FiL’s) closet. I totally couldn't resist making fun of it. Because, come on, it’s a sweatshirt from the eighties with geese on it. And it was apparently worthy of a hanger. Which is saying a lot because, frankly, not everything is worthy of a hanger. Some clothes deserve to be hidden in the dark recesses of a dresser.

Weeks went by and I totally forgot about the ancient sweatshirt until I was at my in-law’s and was terribly sick. I had a fever and chills and was miserable. I asked for a sweatshirt, something I could just wear for the car ride back to our house, because I was so flipping cold. My FiL went immediately to his closet and offered me, none other than, The Goose sweatshirt.

I didn’t laugh or snub it. I was thankful to have it and I pulled the old, baggy thing on immediately. I feel asleep with my arms and legs tucked inside The Goose sweatshirt.

I had every intention of washing the thing and returning it the next day. What reason would I have for keeping something like this? I couldn’t wear it to the office on caj Friday. But I was still feeling crappy the next day so I wore the sweatshirt while I vegged on the couch.

When I started to feel better I tossed The Goose in the laundry pile. It was clean but I couldn’t part with it. I kept it tucked safely in my closet. When I was sad, I wore The Goose, when I was PMSing I wore The Goose, when I was sick I wore The Goose.

I love this silly thing and all is right with the world. The Goose comforts me and I care for The Goose. Yin and Yang. The circle of life and all that stuff.

Then last week happened. I had a terrible week. My boss gave me terrible news:

I’m getting laid off.

I got angry. I yelled. I pouted. And I may have thrown a bit of fit. So, naturally, I needed the The Goose.

But it was no where to be found. The Goose was gone. I looked in the dirty laundry. I dug through my winter clothes. I even took my dresser drawers out and dumped them on the floor.

No Goose.

And I cried. I cried a lot.

Sure, life at work was in the pooper. Sure, my WIP has stalled. But the icing on the cake was NO GOOSE.

My hubby and sister got together and tried to find it. Luckily, after days of searching, my husband found my sweet Goose sweatshirt crammed between the wall and my dresser.

I was so happy to get my Goose back. See:

Now, making decisions about my Day Job and my WIP seem a little less scary. Welcome back Goose.

Do you have a ‘Goose’ of your own?

Need more on how our Day Jobs can make us better writers?

Check out this post about taking criticism.

Or this post on Stability and Creativity.

Or this post on Discipline - you gotta have it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

You gotta have it: Discipline

When you tell people you are a writer they generally react one of two ways: either they perk up and ask if you’ve published anything (believing that publishing is a giant cash cow) or they recoil from you like your disease is contagious.

Some people think writers/artists are worthless and lazy. We all live with our parents or leech off our spouses. We’re dirty because we never shower or take care of our selves. We're willing to just let the world run right over us like this cat:

Most people think we’re all maniacal drug addicts or alcoholics and if you get too close to us our disease of creativity may just spread. And with every stereo type there is likely some truth to those about writers. Well, except the contagious thing.

And although there is a stigma on those who choose creativity as a career it seems self pub or indie pub writers get it the worst.

But we can all agree that writer stereotypes are not universally true. Even though I’ve been known to skip a shower on days when I’m on a roll. I mean, yeah, who’s going to see/smell me when I look like this:

Well, other than my husband. But he’s stuck with me. For better or writer worse., right?

All that aside, I’d argue that the successful artists (however you define success) are anything but lazy.

The hottest buzzword around the pub industry is ‘writer entrepreneur’ implying that a writer is actually a self-employed, small business owner. They are the CEO, CFO, COO, CIO, and VIP of Marketing. They are labor and management. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like a TON of hard work.

Avid tweeter Leigh Ann Kopans, author of the upcoming self pub’d ONE, has recently caused some waves with her posts about the work and cost that goes into launching in the self pub world. I think she later redacted her posts because I cannot find them now - but if you read them you know, they were very detailed.

Ultimately, I see hard work and discipline everyday in the pub world. These are skills, people. Hard work and discipline are learned behaviors. Sometimes these skills are handed down from their parents or pounded into us by teachers and coaches. But where we really polish our discipline is at the Day Job, or DJ as I call it.

It takes discipline to do just about anything DJ related because, let’s face it, most of us hate our DJ’s. It takes discipline to go to work, let alone actually do work. It’s easy to hate the DJ and view it as an obstacle to further chasing our dreams of becoming pub’d writers. But while we trudge through the frustration, challenges, and rigor of the DJ we are honing the ability to work hard, manage conflicting priorities, push through obstacles, and overcome.

Writers of all kinds (pre pub, self pub, small press pub, trad pub) need discipline to make it in this industry. Let’s hear it for the Day Job for helping us along our journey.

How has discipline helped you along the path to publication?

If you liked this post check out these Day Job posts:

Day Job - Stability

Day Job - Villains

Monday, June 3, 2013

More Writing Advice You Should Read

Want more advice from crazy talented writers? Then check out this super-awesome 'HOW TO' list for advice on everything from 'How to be a Full Time Writer' to 'How to Plot a Novel.'

1. How to Abolish Adverbs from Melissa Donovan

2. How to be a Full Time Writer *Best Advice Ever* from the hilarious Chuck Wendig

3. How to Write a Log Line from Stavros Halvatzis

4. How to get the Most Out of Your CP's by Lynda R Young

5. How to Reach Your Word Count by BR Myers

6. How to Write a Novel from Nathan Bransford

7. How to Format Your MS from Nathan Bransford

8. How to Find an Agent from Nathan Bransford

9. How to Become an Agent by Joanna Volpe

10. How to Write a Query Letter from Nathan Bransford

11. How to Plot a Novel insight from Aimee Salter

12. How to Change Showing into Telling by Jessica Bell from Writer Unboxed

13. How to Fix Pacing Problems by Janice Hardy

14. How to Fix the Dreaded Info Dump by Amber A Bardan, Jami Gold

I've read every single article linked above. This advice has helped me prepare my WIP for the next step in my writing journey: Taking the Query Plunge. My next two posts will include advice on query letters and the dreaded synopsis.

What HOW-TO advice have you found helpful?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Guest Post: Song for a Scene

I'm thrilled to have a guest appearance on The Writer Diaries. It's my first guest post with them and I'm such a fan of their site.

The Writer Diaries is an awesome blog where writers can finally post all those things no one ever talks about *makes shifty eyes*. That, and a ton of other helpful stuff for writers. Check it out here.

Today, my post is about music as inspiration for fiction.

When I write I usually listen to soundtracks without lyrics via Spotify or Google Music. I don’t know which side of the ‘Music or Lyrics’ debate you are on but I, personally, loved Drew Barrymore in that movie. Super cute. And I’m with her – a lyrics girl. I love smart, meaningful lyrics that make me think.

Every now and again I’ll hear a song that amps me up. A song that gets my fingers twitching and my heart racing...

Check out the full post here.
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