Thursday, October 31, 2013

Surviving NaNoWriMo

Yep. It's another post on NaNoWriMo. But read it. I talk about coffee. And monkeys. What's NaNoWriMo you ask?

It's National Novel Writing Month. Yep. Write a book in a month. Can't be done you say? You'd be right and you'd be wrong. Let's talk about how to survive and if writing a book in a month is a thing that exists in our dimension.

First - survival tips.

1. Stock up on paper plates, plastic forks and food your children can nuke in the microwave. Ain't nobody got time for cooking big meals during NaNo. If there was ever a time to be #WorldsOkayestMom, Nano is it.

2. Pack up the guilt for later. Let's face it, guilt is going to eat at you this month. (Which is crazy, but that's how we're wired. It's science.) I need to be fixing food. I need to eat food. I need to eat food that isn't spray cheese from a can. I need to be cleaning the house. I need to leave the house. I need to shower and brush my hair before I get mistaken for an extra on The Walking Dead.
Just save up all that guilt you'll be feeling for when your children and significant other really need it, your Christmas shopping trip. NaNo basically guarantees everyone in your orbit a very happy present-getting experience.

3. Buy snacks. Buy coffee. Buy alcohol of choice and have them on hand. NaNo is fickle. Some days, all the words happen. Others, everything you type makes the monkey in the corner typing Hamlet look like a damn genius. Wait...you can see that monkey in the corner right? And there will come a moment when you think, will eating this entire box of Goldfish really help me write words? Yes. Yes, it will.

4. Don't worry about editing. That comes later. Look, some of the trouble with writing a book in a month, especially if you're not a fast writer, is that a lot of what you type is crap. But that's what a first draft is for, right? So don't worry if you write a chapter like this:

Mary Sue went to the store. She bought eggs, milk, oil, flour, frosting, a cake mix, vanilla and a brand, new pan. Mary Sue was going to make a cake. She had never made a cake before. She was going to make it for her boyfriend. She was worried he might not like her after. And then she walked to her car. And then she turned the key. Suddenly, it started. She began to drive the car. When Mary Sue got home, unloaded her groceries, put them all away and called her boyfriend, Steve, whose blue eyes were the color of the crayon that was called blue, she started to feel depressed when he said he wasn't coming over.

Wowser. That is some purely horrible stuff right there. Just think of your first draft as a really extensive outline. Save the editing for later, you know, after you've had sleep and food with nutrients in it.

5. Drink water. You'd think this one would be obvious, but you know what water does? Hydrates you. You know what hydrated people do? Pee. You know what insane people trying to write a book in a month don't like to do? Stop and take pee breaks. But drink the water anyway. De-hydration is bad.

6. Don't change the tense/POV/genre/category in the middle of the month. There's a time and a place for this malarkey. And it might be the right choice, but not during NaNo. That's what revisions are for.

7. Don't waste time researching. Can't write a section without it? Skip it or make something up, put stars on each side, and fix it later. Or write something spectacular like *here is the part about the thing that is the plot of this book and needs all the research but it's freaking NaNo and I can't do it now*.

8. Don't quit! (But I'm behind and everyone else is writing so much and I suck and I'll never make it and BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.) You know what? That's an excuse. It's your fear. Stop it. Stop it right now. So you write 40K, 10K, 5K ...who cares. You sat down with a community of writers and made a commitment to your story, your writing, to something you value. THEN YOU ALREADY WON! NaNo is about so much more than making the 50K goal. It's about building habits, community, support, learning to say, "No. I'm sorry. I can't do that now. I have to write." NaNo is your first taste of writing on a deadline. NaNo is your chance to get your story out you've been too scared to write. It breaks down to 1667 a day to make 50K in 30 days. You can totally do that. Will you have to turn off the internet some days? Yes. Will you have to DVR The Vampire Diaries? Definitely. Will the next season of TV you have queued on NetFlix have to be a December treat? Without a doubt. But think about it, you'll have the basis for a manuscript, a book, YOUR book. Don't pass that up.

9. Get the word ONLY out of your vocab. It's overused anyway, it needs a vacation.
But I only wrote 150 that sprint.
But I only wrote 500 today.
But I only have 10K so far.
SEE NUMBER 8.
Only? Really? You only wrote 150? That's 150 more than the person who decided they weren't going to NaNo at all. That's 150 more than the person who is sitting there too scared to write a word. THAT'S 150 MORE THAN YOU HAD AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SPRINT. Think about it...why would you say ONLY?

10. Coffee. I can't stress this one enough. Coffee is the fruit of the gods. Coffee is magic writer's brew. Coffee makes the world go around. Coffee turns into words. IT'S LIQUID GOLD, PEOPLE!

So you can write 50K (or more) in a month. So yes, it can be done. But is it a book?

NO.

IT'S NOT.

After NaNo is really when you write the book. You take your precious words, your story and polish it. You take a lump of coal and squeeze it so hard, a diamond pops out. Here's how:

Revision.
Revision.
Revision.
Have your CP's read it.
Take feedback and listen.
Get rid of all the parts that are passive, that don't move the story forward, that mean nothing to anyone but you and one guy in Antarctica named Fred you dated in college because the book is an homage to him even though he gave up the written word ten years ago and now only speaks to penguins.  Seriously. No, I'm serious. Delete.
Possibly more revision.

Writing a book is a process, so while I believe in NaNo and I love it and I do a "NaNo" about four times a year, you didn't write a book. You wrote a story that needs love and tending and lots of really hard, damn tiring work before that story is a book. So don't get your big, crazy pants on and send it to agents on December 1. They don't like that and you might burn a really good story that if queried at the right time(read: when it's ready) could get you a deal but queried in "WTF is this state of madness?" condition is an automatic rejection.

So work hard this month. Write your novel. But remember, you'll be spending months with this story once it's on the page. So take a breath, realize there's no such thing as fail, and let's simply write some words together.

Now...where's my coffee? Oh, I left it with the monkey in the corner.





Good luck and have a great NaNoWriMo!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jen McLaughlin: OUT OF LINE

Check out this interview I did with Jen over at The Writer Diaries!

Who to Watch For: Jen McLaughlin, author of OUT OF LINE

Today we have a two-fer for you. An author interview and a review of her great book, OUT OF LINE. It's New Adult, sexy, and has a great story. It's the first in a trilogy and the second, OUT OF TIME is out December 17th. Basically, I'm saying as soon as you finish the interview, run out and read the first one in time for book two.

Our Guest is Jen McLaughlin.





First up - the interview.




Tell us a bit about you.
Well, I’m the New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Jen McLaughlin (otherwise known as Diane Alberts, who writes Adult Romance) and I live in Pennsylvania. I’ve been married for over eleven years, and we have four children!
 Tell us about your book.
Out Of Line came to me one day, and it wouldn’t leave me alone until I finished it. Right away, I had this vision not only for the book, but for where I wanted the entire series to go. It was all crystal clear from the beginning, and it’s been quite a ride!
  
      What inspired you to write Out of Line? I know this is a trilogy. Any hints as to where it might go?
Nothing in particular. I just got the first scene in my head, and I sat down to write. I wasn’t sure I could do New Adult, since I’d never done it before, but the idea wouldn’t leave me alone. And once I started…I couldn’t stop!
And, as far as hints…not every book in the series is as light as Out Of Line. That’s the most I’ll say. ;)
(Interviewer note: I know some things about the upcoming books...and you're going to want to read them!)
Do you have a process you follow when you write? Any funny quirks?
Hmm. I have a huge whiteboard where I write out plot points and character arcs. Then I kind of just sit down and let the words come. It’s weird how it works that way! Also? I need coffee. I can’t write without it.
      What brought you to your decisions about your publishing path?
I like doing books with both a publisher and on my own. Certain books fit better with one or the other, so I think it’s great to keep an open mind about either venture. I’m open to pretty much anything…if it’s right for the book! You just have to go with your gut. Luckily, I have a fabulous team behind me, led by my super-agent Louise Fury, so I know that no matter what I choose, I’ll be okay.
How has the experience been?
Amazing! I learn something new every day! And with Out Of Line, it’s been great being the one “in charge” of all the art/editors/formatters. I’m kind of a control freak at times, so it’s nice! LOL!
Do you use music when you write? Any one song sum up a character or this story for you?
Yes, absolutely. I have a “Maroon 5” Pandora station, and it plays the same songs every day. It’s kind of my writing music, and I need it! And “Better than Me” by Hinder sums up Finn, and “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis is Carrie, I’d say.
(Interviewer note: I agree with those songs. They're perfect.)
How long did it take you to write this book?
Three weeks! It wouldn’t leave me alone! Then there was a bunch of editing, of course, but from start to finish of rough draft? Three weeks. Maybe a little less.
  
      Why and when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Um…I think I was, like, seven. I wrote a poem for my mom and signed it, then told her to save it because it would be worth money some day when I was a famous author. I think I was…thirteen? Maybe? LOL
  
      How is it being a published author? Different, same, more/less pressure?
I feel a bit more pressure to make everyone happy, but besides that…it’s all good! I love being a writer, and I love doing what I do. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to do so.
Five Fun Facts
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite movie: Phantom of the Opera
Pets (how many, names): Dog (Joey), cat (Gavroche), Senegal parrot (Kiwi), and a bunch of fish in my husband’s salt water tank.
Lucky number: 6
Best fortune cookie you’ve gotten (or make one up for us!): You shall be successful.
 Thanks for visiting with us! I loved your book and can't wait for the second! 
Find all things Jen/Diane at:
Twitter            Website         Jen's Books        Diane's Books         


Jen McLaughlin is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She writes steamy, bestselling New Adult books for the young and young at heart. Her first release, Out Of Line, came out September 10, 2013. It hit both lists within the first week of release. She also writes bestselling Contemporary Romance under the pen name Diane Alberts. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.
 Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, a cat, and a Senegal parrot. In the rare moments when she’s not writing, she can usually be found hunched over one knitting project or another. Her goal is to write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.
 I highly recommend this series. I read the entire book in one sitting...the first time. I've had multiple reads of this book and it keeps getting better. I can't wait for the second one, and since I know what's coming, I'm looking most forward to the third. You can find it here.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Balancing Act

A while back I asked people for topics to blog about it. This was hands down the number one suggestion: How do you balance a writing career when you already have a career or family(or both)?

And I'll be honest, I put this post off hoping the answer would come to me in some brilliant form. I'd be able to sit down at the computer and pour out wisdom and writers everywhere would weep in joy now that the mystery was finally solved.

Of course, that didn't happen.

But while I waiting, I did all the things I normally do and a few new things:
I volunteered.
Girl Scouts.
I taught dance and theater.
I had and dealt with a huge family crisis.
Wanted to crawl under the blankets and never come out. 
Had a second crisis for my kid.
Got strong and found myself. 
Fell down and got hurt.
I was a mother.
I was a wife.
I was a chef, baker, chauffeur, nurse, psychiatrist, maid, math maven, English professor, French student, and a damn good cuddler.
I built a website.
I edited.
I blogged.
I read.
I wrote words.

I even managed a little time for working out and sleeping. Sound familiar?

But now that I look at that list and realize all that happened in the last two weeks I can't help but think, how?


Two things. Neither are glamorous or mind-blowing. Neither will win me the genius cap. Neither are rocket science.

1. Organization.
2. Discipline.

Yep. That's my big secret. And maybe it helps that I'm mildly OCD, I don't know. But I will tell you, I have everything written in a planner. My blog posts, my 'regular' stuff, I even write my meals in there so that one, I remember and two, I can mark them off my list. And yes, I put my writing and revision times on there. I list my editing clients and work schedule. I put in workout, time with kids, make Sunday treat. And I happily put in the word read on there.

But even though my calendar is beautiful and a rainbow of Sharpies and highlighters of which only I know the code, it takes more than writing it down. And it has its drawbacks when I'm super busy, because it leaves little time for spontaneity or crisis. But without a plan, I flounder. I know it's different for everyone, but if I have all the things to do and no plan to get them done, I usually do none of it. I look around and think, "Where do I start? Oh, watching a movie is a good place to start."

Which brings us to number two. All the organization in the world will only get you so far. You have to have the discipline to follow through and stick to the schedule you've set.

And right now, I know you're thinking, but I just don't have the time!

Fair. And I hear you. But let me ask you a question. If you did have time, would you use it to write or would you take that extra time and do other things with it? If you didn't have to balance another career, would you take the 8-5 slot you work now and devote it to your writing? Or would you do all the other things and still complain at the end of the day you didn't have time?

I think the biggest decision you have to make is that your writing is real to you. That your writing is worth it. That it IS going to be your career. Then once you make that decision, it will become important enough to make time for.

And that's the key, and maybe the wisdom did come pouring out just then. Decide to put your writing on your priority list and you'll find time to make it a priority. So i guess it's not so much a balance as putting it on the scale to begin with.

So this week, give yourself an hour each day. Even if only ten words come, it's okay. But, and here's the lesson I think we could all learn, don't talk yourself out of the value of your words. If you want it, make time. Work for it. If the story is inside you, it's worth hearing. So make time to tell it to the world.

See you Monday!

Obligatory hot guy pic:



Monday, October 7, 2013

Writing Under the Influence: Sex and the City

Today's influence post is all about relationships. And there is nothing stronger about Sex and the City than the relationships. Friends, girlfriends, significant others, family, and most importantly, the one with yourself.

I didn't watch SATC while it aired. I was a late-comer to the party. But I can only here so much talk of "You're a Carrie" and Manolo Blahniks before I have to see what's happening.

So the year after it went off the air, I bought Season one. I soon turned into a junkie. I would power through an entire season and call my husband to sweet-talk him into picking up the next one on his way home from work. I couldn't get enough.

And while I loved that it took place in my favorite place on Earth, NYC, and I did love Carrie Bradshaw and her closet of shoes, that wasn't what held me. Here was a show with four, strong female leads, and while yes, their conversations and most of the plots revolved around dating and men, that wasn't the backbone. No matter what, it came back to the friendships and bonds between these four women, with or without the guys.

In a show built on the premise of dating in New York, there's a whole lot of non-dating and other factors that go into it. Not one of them falls into insta-love. They make bad, realistic choices. they live unbelievable lives that most can only dream about. They are four, very different characters and tropey, perhaps, but it works.

Carrie - She's a bit cynical but still has hope. She smokes, she drinks, she makes a bunch of really bad choices. But she's a writer (love!) and in the end, her hope pays off. Her friends hold her up through all of it, and even when she's completely unlikable and the worst version of herself, they love her anyway.

Samantha - She has sex like a man. With who she wants. When she wants. And she refuses to be forced into a mold. Ironically, she has one of the longest relationships on the show. And she feels the societal prejudice sting of her actions, but even then, she holds true to herself. And though she doesn't agree with her friends on most things and they don't always see her point of view, they have no one in their corner who loves them more.

Miranda - She's a woman in a man's world. A successful lawyer happy on her own, Miranda has a hard time balancing the want for a man vs. her need to be independent. Eventually, after a long, tortuous and bumpy road, she finds just that with love, work and family. Even if it is in Brooklyn.

Charlotte - Char's the romantic. She's always looking for Mr. Right, not willing to settle for anything less. She ends up finding love where she least expects it. She looked where she thought where she would find it, not where it really was. She's the most childlike and the most grown-up of them all.

#1 - Don't make your characters one-dimensional.
What they all share in common is how smart and strong they are. The number one thing I take from this show is that while there characters are brilliant and self-reliant, they need each other and still make dumb mistakes. I mean, they make crash-and-burn mistakes.

And it's okay. They aren't that typical "I'm strong-chip-on-my-shoulder-I-can-do-it" sort of women I'm tending to find in fiction today. To be strong doesn't mean you have to be a bitch or sleep around or bea ll about women-power. It simply means, you're strong.

Being a smart character doesn't mean they're perfect. Smart people still make mistakes. And really big ones some times. And it's okay.

How to use it -
I think it's important to learn the difference. Character can be extremes, but most are complex, like real people. Of course your characters are fiction, but if they aren't real, readers can't connect.

#2 - Not every relation is about love, even the romantic ones.

This is huge, especially as a romance writer. But if you write MG, YA, or whatever, the personal relationships between your characters can make or break your story. Nothing irriates me more than two people get in a relationship and then everything is perfect.

Yeah. No. Love is perfect. Until he leaves the seat up. Until she uses the last of the toilet paper. Until he drinks the last cup of coffee. Until he finds out she snores like a freight train. SATC excels at looking at these little things and how couples have to deal and make them work. And sometimes they don't because those little things can become really big.

But on the other side, how really big things can be dealt with and while trying, can end things or make them stronger.

The same for the friendships on the show. And the family relationships. There's death, love, break-ups, make-ups, lies, truths, deceit and complete in-your-face there for you. Just like life. And I adore it.

How to use it -
Put depth in the relationships. It matters. A lot of times what people see as a one-dimensional character is actually not the character, but how they interact with others. This is important. Make a note.


That was a short list today. But they are two huge things. And while I love the show for it's humor and heartbreak, Cosmos and Manolos, Big and Aiden, ridiculous and real, it really all comes down to the sotry of four best friends who can make it through anything.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Cover reveal: The Best Laid Plans by Tamara Mataya

You guys! My beautiful CP and a blow-your-mind writer Tamara Mataya is revealing her cover today for the first in her three book series with Swoon Romance, The Best Laid Plans.

Here's Tamara. Pretty little thing, no?




Tamara Mataya is currently a librarian; she lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that she suspects they only hired her so it would be less creepy. Now she’s armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. She’s also a musician with synaesthesia – which isn't an issue until someone plays a wrong note, which makes her want to squirm inside out. It makes for a good live show.

She's hella talented, too!

Here's the book.

Jayne Griffin isn’t looking for Mr. Right. She’s looking for Mr. RTFN and a toe-curling good time. She’s got the brains, the powerful job as a futures broker, and thanks to a makeover and a thin book of dating advice, the confidence to turn any man’s head.
               
Malcolm Black notices his high school crush, Jayne, from the stage of her company’s work party.
His adolescent feelings for her died beneath months of abuse at the hands of bullies. Abuse that was Jayne’s fault. Though this scorching hot studio musician is unrecognizable as the band geek he used to be, the hurt still lives inside him, and he hatches a plan: Seduce Jayne into falling in love with him, and then shatter her heart.
               
The white-hot chemistry between them is a pleasant surprise. It all goes so smoothly until feelings start to develop... and that invitation to their ten year high school reunion lands in their inboxes. 

Jayne wants the perfect lover. Malcolm wants revenge. But you know what they say about The Best Laid Plans...

Coming November 12th 2013 from Swoon Romance

And here's the gorgeous, is-it-hot-in-here cover



Find THE BEST LAID PLANS and Tamara Here:

The Best Laid Plans on Goodreads:

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Under the Influence - Writer Spotlight: Sarah Blair

As part of my Writing Under The Influence series, I'm going to focus a spotlight on some fiercely talented individuals. The writers you'll meet influence and inspire me daily. And by influence I mean keep me toeing the line toward my goal.

Our first interviewee is my very first Critique Partner, and coincidentally, my other half. She's my writing soul mate and the peas to my carrots.


I could go on, but I'll let her to you in her own words. So, without further ado, here's Sarah Blair!!!


1.Tell us a bit about you.

Haha, I always feel like a weirdo talking about myself. I don't know what y'all are interested in knowing. I'm a Southern girl living in California with my family. I'm surrounded by men: a husband, a baby boy, and a boy dog. They are all so wonderful and I wouldn't trade them for anything, but sometimes I wish I had another female around so we could braid each other's hair and sing along with Mary Poppins or something. Oh, and I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor's in Creative Writing. So, I guess I kinda know how to write and stuff. I don't know how to do math at all. Don't ask me to build a bridge or anything.
 
2. Tell us about your book.
Oh, man. THAT question. The one that makes any writer freeze up at dinner parties and the biggest reason I avoided telling anyone I wrote for a very long time. THE SHIFTING DARKNESS is an Urban Fantasy about a young woman named Sidney Lake who is a supernatural investigator in New York City. It also explores the ideas of science and magic, and the blurred line between the two. (Angi note - It's so, so good. You should be sad you haven't read it yet.)
 
3. What inspired you to write THE SHIFTING DARKNESS?
I don't know that any specific thing inspired me to write it, except I do remember exactly where I was when I met Sidney. I was upstairs, a newlywed in a brand new home with very little furniture, and she just walked into my head, flashed a badge and said, "What have we got?" I kind of sat up and was like, "Ummm. I dunno... but how about we find out?" And everything else sort of tumbled out after that.
 
4. Do you have a process you follow when you write? Any funny quirks?
Not since I became a mommy. There's no such thing a process with a toddler around. As far as plotting goes, I'm a total pantser. At least with this book. Once I finished the first draft, I vowed to never go back and rewrite/edit further than one chapter behind what I'm currently working on. It took me about three years of writing and rewriting to get halfway through TSD before I realized that backtracking every time I sat down to write wasn't productive. After I forced myself to keep moving forward I finished in about three months.

Another thing I learned during the process was that I can't listen to music while I write. Most of my scenes didn't feel cohesive enough, there wasn't a flow to them (another reason for all the rewriting), and I finally figured out it was because I would choose a different song for each chapter and write the feeling of that song. It kind of felt like compiling a mix tape. There was a similar theme, but it wasn't meshing the way I wanted it to. Now I write to the ambient sound of the dishwasher, or Baby Einstein. I also have an ambient sound of a clothes dryer on iTunes. I get most of my really good stuff written to that. 
 
5. What brought you to your decisions about looking for an agent as your path to publishing?
Mostly it was because I know myself well enough to understand how easily I let myself off the hook on things. If no one else is involved in the process then it takes me forever to accomplish anything. I need to have that pressure in order to focus and stay on track. I need to have someone else saying, "This is the next step. This is the next deadline." Beta readers and CPs are AMAZING and I adore mine, but I need that higher level of feedback and direction that an agent and professional editor provide. Some people do great on their own and I think that's so awesome! I'm just not that type of person. I get a lot more accomplished with outside guidance. 
 
6. How has the experience been?
Long. And that's no one's fault but my own. Once I finished that first draft I put it away like I was supposed to, but I never had the first clue about beta readers or CPs. I was barely even on Twitter yet. I nitpicked and thought it was ready to start querying, but looking back on it now it was nowhere near ready, LOL! The first agent I ever queried requested a full and I had heart palpitations because I was expecting nothing more than a form rejection. Then my ego kicked in and I was like OH YEAH! I'M A PRODIGY THIS NEVER HAPPENS FIRST QUERY BABY! 
But no. 
They read it and said it didn't fit their list. Which, really is the best first rejection you could ask for, right? I was disappointed, but by no means discouraged.
So a couple of months later, I went to the Writer's Digest Conference and pitched live. HA! Yeah, I happened to be several weeks pregnant at the time and had morning sickness like crazy. I'm seriously surprised I didn't puke on any agents. 

They were all so nice! It was an extremely valuable experience, because it taught me that agents are people too. They don't just sit around using kittens to play air hockey on their lunch breaks, and reject people for funsies while they pig out on macarons. 

I got a lot of valuable feedback from the agents I pitched to, so I chose to revise based on that. It was a good choice, because that landed me an R&R which I'm almost finished with, so we'll see what happens. It's been quite a process, but with every process certain things have to happen in a particular order so I wouldn't trade my path for anything. As far as I'm concerned it's all unfolding the way it needs to in order for me to get where I need to be.
 
7. Any one song sum up a character or this story for you? 
I can't really think of any one song that sums up the book as a whole, but I have a couple of songs that I feel sort of remind me of certain characters. Like Sidney's theme is kind of White Zombie's "More Human Than Human" because... well... I could tell you the reason but then I'd spoil everything ;)

8. How long did it take you to write this book?
When Sidney walked into my head, I wrote the first chapter, but then I put it away for a long time. Years, actually. I was working on some stuff with vampires in it, and then I realized everybody was sick of vampires, so I decided to bring Sidney out and see what happened. From that point, it took a little over three years from beginning to end. 
 
9. Why and when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
The short story is that I got to college and realized I wouldn't have to take any math classes if I majored in Creative Writing. So, that's what I did. My original goal was to be a Forensic Anthropologist like Scully, but that required Organic Chemistry and filling out reports and who wants to do something boring like that when you can make up much more exciting stories about the same thing?

The long story is that I liked writing ever since the third grade when we had an assignment to write a story (I think mine was about a unicorn and a slide, and my teacher said that dialogue shouldn't have "Like" in it all the time because that might be how people talk but nobody wants to read it.) I was always better at writing and reading than math, and I'm an Aries who likes being good at things, so it was kind of a logical choice to make. 

Lois Lowry was also a huge inspiration. I'll never forget reading the end of THE GIVER and thinking... "That's the end? People can end a book like that? That's allowed? Well... maybe I could do that." It's still one of my favorite books of all time. I refuse to read the other books in the series because that ending is so perfect. There's something wonderful and beautiful about not knowing what really happens. The spring right before I graduated from UT Lois Lowry came to the Tennessee Theater. My mom and I went, and I got my copy of THE GIVER signed and got to tell her how much she inspired me. It was a really nice moment for me, but come to think of it she looked kind of confused. The words inside my head sounded really profound, but they very well could have been nothing more than ALASDUFOIREHTJKANERTWEOFGHDILSDFJA!!!!!!!!!!! 
 
10. How is it being on an R&R? Different, same, more/less pressure?
It's been incredible and terrifying. The notes I'm working from are incredible, and completely nail all the spots I tried to sail through or didn't quite have figured out. I feel like it's really helped me get down into the nitty gritty bits of the characters and really draw out some amazing stuff. It's made such a huge difference in how I see not only my book, but my CPs writing as well. It's taught me how to really get in and tear stuff apart. What I was doing before was NOT really revising, but I didn't know any better! I've learned so, so, so much from this. I'm really grateful for the opportunity.

That being said, Oh Lord, IT IS SO MUCH PRESSURE! Because as far as I know, it's a yes, and it's all up to me to screw it up. What if I change too much? What if I don't change enough? What if I take too long? What if I send too soon? What if I cut something the agent liked a lot? What if... what if... what if... 
And Twitter totally doesn't help on this front. All I see are these people landing agents and getting calls set up two days after they send out their MS, and that hasn't happened for me. Not even close. It makes me feel like such a loser. It makes me question if I'm really good enough, or if this agent just feels sorry for me and only offered to help as a goodwill charity project or something.


 

Five Fun Facts
Favorite food: Spaghetti with meat sauce and shaker cheese.
Favorite movie: Sense and Sensibility (The Ang Lee version with Emma Thompson) and Snatch.
Pets(how many, names): Java the chihuahua
Lucky number: 8
Best fortune cookie you’ve gotten (or make one up for us!): Hahaha, we bought some Rated X fortune cookies in Chinatown when we lived in NYC and surprised my Sister In Law. I can't remember what any of them said, but they were nasty and hilarious.

Isn't she fantastic?? Now remember, while you'll falling in love with her and that adorable smile, I introduced you. Thanks for stopping by the blog, Sarah!

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