Last week’s post on piano-playing and success is still swirling around in my brain.

How many hobbies have I had?

  • Piano
  • Jewelry-making
  • Tennis
  • Rock-climbing
  • Painting
  • Fortune-telling (I was nine. My “crystal ball” was a marble.)
  • Embroidery and sewing

I’m certain I’ve forgotten some.

Writing used to be a hobby. Now I try to think of it as work, although that’s difficult when nobody’s ever paid me for it (a short story will be published and paid for soon, though!)

In looking over that list, I feel the familiar itch. Most of the supplies and gear necessary for those hobbies are in closets or the garage or the Love Shack (aka Writing Studio aka Guest Room). With enough time on my hands, I could create a new bracelet, or force my feet into the toe-bending climbing shoes. With the exception of fortune-telling, each of those hobbies are things I’d love to do, right at this moment.

But I had to make some choices, because I was dabbling. Dabbling in so many things meant I wasn’t getting good at any of them, and remember, writing used to be a hobby. I felt like if I wanted to be good at something, I had to sacrifice some of those other things, because I just don’t have the time to be good at all of them. It’s not possible – at least  not for me, not right now.

I chose writing. Maybe once Maverick starts school, or maybe even before that, I’ll find some time and energy for one or two of those other things. I mean, I wish, I hope it can be that way. Can I do them all? I don’t know the answer to that question. Because I still want to be a good mom and a good wife and while I don’t need to excel in each of those hobbies, some of them aren’t as much fun if I totally suck.

Is the choice really: dabble in many, or excel in a select few? Anybody want to weigh in with some advice?


Last week’s whiny and meandering post had a lot to do with a writing funk I’ve been in. There’s so much I want to do and so little time, blah blah blah, and I found myself paralyzed. This week, however, I FOUND THE SOLUTION! (Repeat that with manic abandon. Go on, do it, you’ll feel good.)

Ever-Suffering Writer Mama: [on the phone with Homes] I did it! I FOUND THE SOLUTION!

Homes: To what?

ESWM: To my malaaaaaise. I FOUND THE SOLUTION!

Homes: By the tone of your voice, I can only guess the solution was crack.

ESWM: Hahahahaha! No! The solution is…


ESWM: [sighs] The solution is a LIST!

And Homes, bless him, didn’t even snark. He just said: Huh. It’s been awhile since you used a list.

Because he knows me.

Why did neither of us think of this? Whenever I’m bummed or in a funk, all I’ve got to do is write up a list of tasks (writing-, housework-, or exercise-related) and start working on them. As soon as I cross off the first item, it’s like MAGIC. I feel accomplished, productive, and a hundred times more beautiful.

Because I’d been paralyzed and listless (haha! Get it? That was totally an accident) and focusless in writing, I made a list of writing tasks. And because everyone else is doing NaNoWriMo but I don’t even want to try, I’m doing my own version: NaNoWhateverMo. Each of the tasks is fiction-related, some of it drafting, some of it craft-learning, and a lot of it revising. I get to work on two different projects. The tasks are small enough that I can finish them in an hour or less.

NaNoWhateverMo: Thirty Fiction Tasks in Thirty Days

  1. Do GMC (Goal-Motivation-Conflict) for TR
  2. Do plot points for TR
  3. Re-map ATRS with index cards (um, already started this one. It takes WAY longer than an hour. Days.)
  4. Write synopsis of TR
  5. Rewrite opening of ATRS
  6. Maass workbook exercise on character for TR
  7. Freewrite how to make big moments bigger for ATRS
  8. Rewrite a big moment for ATRS
  9. Maass workbook exercise for ATRS
  10.  Rewrite another big moment for ATRS
  11. Write scene for TR
  12. Write scene for TR
  13. 3 pages freewriting on TR
  14. Put new structure for ATRS in Scrivener
  15. Write new scene for ATRS
  16. Brainstorm new ATRS ending ideas
  17. Rewrite a big moment in ATRS
  18. Maass workbook exercise for ATRS
  19. Maass workbook exercise for TR
  20. Write scene for TR
  21. Write scene for TR
  22. Scene/character chart for Jameson
  23. Read how-to chapter on synopses
  24. Write ATRS synopsis
  25. Write new ATRS scene
  26. Write scene for TR
  27. Maass workbook exercise for TR
  28. Write scene for TR
  29. Rewrite a big moment in ATRS
  30. Add Maass exercise stuff to ATRS Scrivener file

I’ll try to post progress on Twitter…but notice social networking is NOT on the list. With limited time, we’ve got to prioritize, and writing wins. Anyone else skittish about NaNoWriMo and wanting to commit to something a little less intense?

Silver by Talia Vance

Disclaimer: Yes, I am friends with the author. Guess what – it’s still an awesome book!

The set-up: Brianna has always been invisible and has a pretty compelling scientific theory as to why: bum pheromones. She tests this theory on her crush, Blake, who has been introduced to her at least six times and never remembers her.

Main character’s goals: At first, Brianna just wants to be seen. Then, as her heritage is slowly revealed to her, she wouldn’t mind going back to hiding. That wouldn’t make for a very good story, though – Brianna  is way too cool to sit back and let things go on without her. She – and Blake – are in the middle of a centuries-old feud, and when you toss in immortals with medieval weaponry, I’d say survival is her main goal.

My reaction: Sexy. This is the best kind of paranormal romance – a unique, killer concept mixed with the kind of love (and make-out sessions) that sweep you off your feet.

Also, the dialogue and the action just…flow. It’s fast-paced, and hilariously funny at times, and has tons of heart.

Of interest to writers: The tension! Silver‘s got it. Even my second time reading this book, it was still a page-turner. Also, study those one-liners – both the ones in dialogue, and in Brianna’s thoughts. Donald Maass advises writers to have their characters say things we wish we could say, and I totally wish I had Brianna’s wit. Great lines…I’m not sure if I can improve my own one-liners by studying Talia’s, but at least I smile while I’m studying.

And next time I need to write an action scene? I’m looking to this book for some good models.

Bottom line: Refreshing yet hot at the same time.

To visit Talia Vance’s website, click here.

Reminds me of: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Spunky, powerful heroine and awesome action.


It’s a good time to think about what makes me love a book. This week I’ve been outlining Books 2 and 3. And rather than flounder around with a weak story and later have to mold it into something respectable, I’d rather create a solid outline, with a solid, surprising, wonderful story. Then when I revise, all I’ll have to tackle are line edits.

Because it’s that easy!

Okay, not really. But I’d like it to be slightly easier, so I’m working on a wish list of what I’d like to see in these books. As I outline, I refer to the wish list. Some parts of the wish list are specific: “A. worried that R. loves someone else.” Others are less specific: “Major supporting character dies here in valiant act.” And others are even less specific (that is, general): “Need cool setting.”

But, just in working with the general, here’s what I like to see in books (with select YA titles as examples):

  • humor (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan,Wisdom’s Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock)
  • gorgeous prose (The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, Gilt by Katherine Longshore, If I Stay by Gayle Forman)
  • strong voice (Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly)
  • tension (The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins)
  • intriguing premise (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray)
  • unique setting (Feed by M. T. Anderson, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher)

How about I just buy extra copies of all those books, tear out the pages, turn the ceiling fan on really really high, then collect the pages and staple them together into a new book?

Because it’s that easy!

Friday Four – Ghost Blog Edition

1. This has become a ghost blog. Or it’s felt like that the past week, anyway. I didn’t consciously set out to ignore the internet and get so behind on everything, but it happened. I’m getting a little burnt out, I think (obviously: I’m too lazy to do a full Friday Five, so I’m abbreviating it to Friday Four). Not to mention, as soon as I sit down to do anything, I feel an overwhelming urge to take a nap.

2. That said, posts will probably be a little random (or not at all) over the next couple of months. You know, because of the BABY. He’s not out yet, but there isn’t much room left for him to grow in there. My skin is stretched to the breaking point, belly button is in a freakish flat-nearly-an-outtie stage. Maverick’s head is down, locked & loaded, ready to go. With so little time left, I want to focus on the more important things, like visiting with friends and family, reading lots of stories to Z, and revising my manuscript for the eleventeen-hundredth time. Oh, and napping.

3. The show “Hoarders” is really effing with my nesting instincts. I don’t usually watch reality television of any kind, but for some reason I find myself repeatedly sucked in by “Hoarders,” often when Homes isn’t around to make snarky comments about my viewing habits. It’s really hard to want to collect things for Maverick, and revel in the onesies I so cleverly/tightfistedly/hoardingly saved from when Z was a baby, when I see mentally ill people making similar decisions about tax books from 1998 and bags full of unworn clothing and five-year-old containers of yogurt. I’m compensating by throwing out old magazines, but I usually flip through them first, which puts me into another, yes, NAP.

4. Maggie tagged me with this Lucky 7 Meme, and it sounded like fun.

Open your novel-in-progress and do the following:

  • Go to page 77.
  • Go to line 7.
  • Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs as they are written.
  • Tag 7 new authors. [I’m not doing this step, because I’m a (lazy) jerk. But if you’re a writer, feel free to  post your lines in the comments below. Or if you prefer, put them in a blog post of your own and link to it in the comments.]

Here are some lines from my newest work-in-progress:

After we find my van and Kyle finds my keys in my purse and gets me settled in the passenger’s seat, I chatter to him the whole way to my house. I have no idea what I’m talking about, but he’s a really good listener.

“Is your mom or dad home?” he asks.

“Yeah, my mom.”

“Will she be mad that you’re sloshed?”

“Nope.” [In the interest of parallelism, I very much wish this excerpt ended in the word Nap. “Nope” is close, but not quite it, so I will just have to cheat.] Nap.