Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon

It only happens once in a blue moon...

It seems like a lot of impossible things have been happening lately. And the new year seems to hold even more whispers of impossibilities about to come true. So, the fact that this new year will be rung in with a blue moon seems extra fitting.

According to CNN:

It happens only once in a blue moon -- and scientists say a blue moon is exactly what we'll see in the skies this New Year's Eve.

Don't expect an azure glow over our lunar satellite, however. The term "blue moon" simply refers to the second full moon in a calendar month, something that hasn't happened on a New Year's Eve for nearly 20 years, NASA says.

So, after the big ball in NY drops, make sure to take a peek outside and check out that rare blue moon!

The Best of the Last Decade

In the last decade, I got...
  1. ...a high school diploma.
  2. ...a B.A. in English Education.
  3. ...a Masters degree in English Literature.
  4. ...a career as a teacher.
  5. ...a house.
  6. ...a dog.
  7. ...a husband.
  8. ...a lot of travels around the world.
  9. ...a book written. And then ten more.
  10. ...a literary agent!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why I Live Blog

The husband was bored yesterday.

Which is why I do my live-blogging when he's otherwise occupied, such as on the guy's poker night.

"Whatcha doing?" he asked around 7.

"Revising," I said. "Go away."

He came back in an hour.

"Whatcha doing now?" he asked.

"Revising," I said. "Go away some more."

"That's not revising. That's blogging."

"I'm live-blogging my revisions."

"Looks like you're wasting time."

And I can see how he thinks that--I actually do spend a bit of time setting up the live-blog post, and going back to update it.


I actually get more done in revisions when I live-blog this way.

It's because my greatest distraction when working on a manuscript--especially when working on a part of the manuscript that I despise, like revisions--is the internet. It's right there, on the same computer I'm working on. Perhaps because I'm of the Google Generation, or perhaps just because I have the attention span of a flea, I'm used to working with 5 or 10 tabs in Firefox open. I check my email, and in between emails refresh Twitter, and while I'm waiting for an @ reply on Twitter, I open up Google Reader and start checking on blogs I follow, and while I wait for comment boxes on the blogs I follow to open, I hop over to Etsy and browse the soap stores.

Likewise, unless I'm really focused on writing, I'll write a few pages, then skim over to iTunes, then click to my notes folder, and, eventually, I end up on the internet and before I know it, I've wasted a ton of time.

I started live-blogging on a whim, but I've really found it helpful because it reminds me that I shouldn't be on the internet (ironically enough) and that I should be accountable. Recording how much time I work and how much time I goof off reminds me not to goof off every time I write that time stamp in.

And it's fun! Your comments keep me going! :)

So, how do you avoid distractions and stay on track?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Live-Blogging Revisions, Round 1

I know this will take more than one round. I'm actually planning on it. I just hope that I can fit my revisions into two rounds!

These revisions are somewhat different from any other revisions I've ever done before, namely because these are revisions suggested by an agent. So, as opposed to suggestions from beta readers or critique groups, these revisions are very specific (which I'm hoping means they are easier).

Here are my goals:
  1. DONE Revise the pitches I wrote last live-blogging sessions, as well as fix a few grammatical errors in the shortened (and much improved) synopses
  2. DONE  Develop my setting more: specifically, give clearer descriptions of the size of the space ship and the number of people on board
  3. DONE  Change some details with the main characters' parents' background to coincide with plans for sequels
  4. DONE...or, actually, I decided it would be best to leave her a bit ambiguous. But I did add one clue with her. Develop a minor character a tiny bit more, as she'll play a more important role in sequels
  5. DONE Add a few details and clues in a scene that will be layered in for the sake of the sequels
  6. DONE Change a bit about the ending, making it a tad more open ended (for the sake of a you see a pattern here?)
  7. DONE  Add a clue about a sequel in an early scene
  8. DONE Alter the ages of a few characters to make them closer in age to the main character (which sounds easy, but will actually pose a bit of a continuity challenge that I'll have to keep tabs on)
That's it. Eight specific things to change, with a clear idea of how to change each one. I'm pretty interested in seeing how long it takes me to do all this, so I'm live blogging again!

Start: 6:51pm...

6:56: Realize that if I'm actually going to do this thing, I'm going to need to turn off Prince Caspian. *sigh*

  1. Revise the pitches I wrote last live-blogging sessions, as well as fix a few grammatical errors in the shortened (and much improved) synopses
 That didn't take long...but all I had to do was put the paper corrections I'd already made into the computer. But all the files are saved and logged away, ready to be emailed to my agent. OMG IT IS STILL REALLY COOL TO BE ABLE TO SAY THAT, MY AGENT.

7:18: I keep checking Gmail, Twitter, and RallyStorm, hoping to find an excuse for a distraction. Not good. Bad author, bad!

7:20: OMG an email! *trots away to read it* (and it's not spam!)

7:24: My other bad distracting habit: hand lotion. I use it *constantly* to avoid doing real work.

7:50: The email was (ironically) about revisions. Also, I started a Google chat about revisions. So, technically, I'm still on topic, yes?

8:01: I have the document loaded on my computer, that counts right?

8:08: I'm tweaking the formatting, surely that counts, right?

8:41: Completely deleted all the formatting. On purpose. Because I did it wrong. Then I redid it. Back to the way it was originally. Also, I changed one sentence. That counts, right?

8:57: Done with chatting, done with emailing, done with interwebs. Time to buckle down properly. *checks list above* OK, I did this:
          7. Add a clue about a sequel in an early scene

Current goal:  3. Change some details with the main characters' parents' background to coincide with plans for sequels

9:22: 3. Change some details with the main characters' parents' background to coincide with plans for sequels

9:30: Added a few sentences throughout mentioning the number of people on board the ship (352).

10:12: Still working on making sure the character age changes flow continuously. I knew there'd be some continuity problems with that one.

10:20: Taking a break...

11:02: In reading over my goal of changing the ages and making sure the continuity problems were fixed...I'm calling that one done. I think I've got it covered. But I plan on waiting for tonight and working on all the rest of the edits, then printing it out and doing one last check for that. I think it is done and ready, but this one has so many little details in the ages that I'm going to have to read through the whole manuscript to make sure I've correctly fixed it.

11:03: Back into the fray...

11:44: I...whoa. I've finished everything but changing the end. Of course, I may need to go back and do more, but I'll wait until I print to make sure the check list is truly done. But, actually, it does seem mostly done. I guess all I need to do now is tackle that end...

11:50: Wow. I really don't want to touch that end. I've just gone through the whole lit of email, twitter, facebook, rallystorm *again*...but fortunately (or not) no one's talking to me now. Guess that means I really do need to go back and look at that end.

11:51: (this will make so much more sense when the book is published and you have a chance to read it, but I just want to put this out there: I love Chapter 53.)

12:01: Must look up pictures of embryos and fetuses. Yes it's relevant. Leave me alone :P

12:03: EW EW EW EW!!! Anti-abortion pics are gross!!!!!

12:04: OK, got my info. Back to work on the end.

12:20: Ummmmm....I think I might be done. Maybe. There was a lot of back and forth and reading and re-reading, but in the end, I added a paragraph. One. And I think that fixed it. Hmm. I'll finish for now, and re-read it later just to make sure.

The End!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Live-Blogging Christmas Style

I got the husband a zombie board game. This one. And although he wanted to have a guy's night in on Christmas day, I made him wait until December 26th before doing one.

Now he's in the kitchen with his friends, and they're all massacreing little plastic zombies or some such, and I'm locked away in my office/bedroom in order to write.

Unlike other live-blogging writing experiences, this one is different. First, I'm awake and hopped up on the energy drinks (I had no idea that the husband gave me drinks with espresso in them. I thought they were regular hot chocolates, not super-hot choc.) Second: I don't have a clear goal.

Or, rather, I have several goals.
  1. Revise manuscript to fit ideas for sequels
  2. Shorten and tighten synopses for sequels
  3. Write taglines for all three books in trilogy
(PS: Did I tell you that my little book is now a trilogy. Cause it is. HOW COOL IS THAT?!)

I think I'm going to tackle my last goal first. Taglines. That's something I usually struggle with, but fortunately, I've just finished reading a wonderful post by Janice Hardy, author of THE SHIFTER (which is, btw, the best MG fantasy I've read in a looooong time).  The whole article is a wealth of information on preparing to market a book (really worth your time), but here's what Janice says about taglines:
Taglines are a great thing to have, as they capture attention and can pique interest. We all know we have to be able to talk about our books in one sentence, but also look for ways that you can promote the book the same way movies do.
So, my goal is to create simple, short sentences about each of my three books that really grab the attention of the reader. This will be the taglines I display on my website, the ones I can use to market the books in other media, such as bookmarks or business cards, etc.

So no pressure. *snort*

It's 9:31PM. Let the live-blogging begin.

10:39PM: Taglines done! Holy crap, it took me over an hour to write three super-short phrases. *whew!* least I have something to show for it.
Book 1: No hope. No one to trust. And no way out. Amy and Elder are supposed to be among the first people to visit a new planet, but with a murderer on board their ship, they may never make it.

Book 2: A new planet. A new chance. But Amy and Elder can only get there if they make their enemy their friend, and find out which friend is their enemy.

Book 3: The ship's landed. The colony's settled. But Amy and Elder discover the real danger wasn't in getting to the new planet. It's surviving it.
My goal with these taglines was to create something short and punchy that showed, primarily, the conflict of the story. The entire time, I had Janice Hardy's post on taglines showing in another window of my screen. Really--she's brilliant.

OK: on to Goal 2--shortening and tightening my synopses. Can you tell which goal I am most reluctant to tackle?

(OK, actually, I'm going to Twitter a bit. Why lie?) 

10:46: Tweeting done. 

PS: PLEASE feel free to critique my taglines. They seem a bit off here, all in a row. I've worked on them too long for now...I'm going to work on the synopses first, and then come back to them.

10:48: The new plan: Pair each tagline with a pitch paragraph and a shortened synopsis. Cut each synopsis (currently around 8 pages) to no more than five pages. And...go!

11:07: I have successfully copied and pasted the original query into a new document. Not much of an accomplishment. Then I got distracted. MUST FOCUS.

11:24: Wrote second pitch. Not sure how much I like it... will attempt third pitch before working on the second one more.

11:45: I decided I couldn't work without cleaning my room. Cleaned room. Still can't work.

11:46: So, yanno how there was all these post-Christmas sales? We bought a pack of sea-salted dark chocolate...and OMG IT IS SO GOOD NOM NOM NOM.

11:52: *dies of sugary-salty awesome*

12:15: Oh, lordy, I don't think I can let myself be distracted any more. *sigh* OK, back to work.

12:19: I wrote a paragraph. Surely that merits a visit to Regretsy.

12:23: Ok, ok, OK. I will just get back to work.

12:29: I just realized. I've finished the short pitches, and the log lines. And, uh. That means I have to do the work I *really* don't wanna do! WAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

12:42: How did it get to be 12:42 and all I've done is open the documents?

12:58: I am fading fast. Need a kick in the pants...or need to give up and go to sleep...

1:13: How can two super-large energy drinks fail me so quickly? UGH!

1:46: Successfully revamped original book 1 synopsis to fit new plot ideas. Also cut down Book 2 synopsis to four pages. This means all the synopses are four pages...except Book 3--which is achingly still at 8ish. Cut cut cut cut cut.

1:54: I DON'T WANNA CUT!!!!!!!!!!!

2:35: omg this one is going to kill me tell my family i loved them don't wait for me just save yourselves.

2:47: Have cut 8ish pages down to 6ish. 

3:00 AM: Have cut it down to 5ish pages...and must give up here. All in all, though, I count tonight as a success! 

3:16: Just kidding! I couldn't quit...and was able to cut down that last synop to 4 pages. YAY!!!!!!!

Best. Christmas. EVAR.

This has, truly, been my best Christmas ever. It tops the Christmas when my parents gave me bunny rabbits for presents (really. They bite and pee and poo way too much). It even tops the Christmas the year we went to Disney World when I was three (especially as I was three and don't remember it that well).

This has, hands down, been the best Christmas. And it's all because of that awesome piece of paper with my name on it and an agent's signature on the bottom.

But Christmas isn't Christmas when it's just one person. The best Christmases are the Christmases shared--and it has been simply wonderful sharing Christmas with you all.

YOU have been the big shiny bow on my Christmas.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My First Agented Interview!

My interview with Query Tracker on how I landed my agent is online now! Click here if you'd like to see the query I sent to Merrilee Heifetz, know my timeline on writing and querying, and see how many queries I sent out.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Linkspam!

Most of you are off enjoying the holidays--but I'm still working :( Today's the last day of school, though!

Before the new year begins, I thought I'd leave you with a few good posts I've been reserving for awhile now, waiting to build up a proper linkspam. I, er, had more links than I'd originally thought I had, but this is going to be my last post until after the holidays, so you'll have plenty of time to peruse and clickity click.

Merry Christmas!

On Writing: Before the Sale/Agent

On Writing: After the Sale/Agent

  •  Kim Pauley did a post on how much money writers really make, and Genreality had a more detailed post on the subject dealing with one NY Times bestselling author's paycheck. 
  • Janice Hardy is giving a lot of details about what to do after the agent, which I'm finding fascinating. Also: details on writing sequels
  • If you missed it, Laura and Lisa hosted agent appreciation day! (And speaking of, Shannon had one of the best stories of signing with her agent. Also: Bria recently signed with her agent, and I have loved her "After the Yes" posts. Also, also: an interview about being agented that's quite well done here.)
  • Kate Schaffer Testerman on what to expect of your agent. (Moonrat did it first.) Speaking of, Becky Levine's How I Got My Agent story.

On Editors and Publishers

On Other
  • Query Tracker is now offering easier to use writing networks--if you're not a member yet, this is just one more reason to join (for free).
  • All you multi-cultural writers out there: Into the Wardrobe recently launched Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind, a blog dedicated to Asian literature.

Fun Stuff!

Self Publishing and How (not) to Do It

  • Agent Rachelle Gardner gives what I think is the best reasoning on why self publishing does NOT work for fiction writers. If you're a fiction writer who's ever considered self publishing, be sure to check this out first. 
  • If you STILL don't believe me, then read this article, too, about the self-publishing statistics (statistics on cold hard cash, y'all). 
  • And then if your STILL STILL not convinced, then read this, too.
  • And, although I'm adamantly against self publishing fiction works, I'm still open to e-books, and this article was quite informative.
On Controversy
  • Censorship sucks. Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth) explains why.
  • I wanted to feature this in more detail (and I still might, but lord knows when). Anyway, Steph posted a FANTASTIC article on whether or not modern YA belongs in classrooms. (For the record: my opinion is YES.)
  • It is my goal in life to get a book review like this. But hopefully never one like this.

Books I Want to Read:

...and finally, two Merry Christmas links! (Both courtesy of Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Music Monday My Thank You Speech

Do you know how hard it is to find a music video by a band that existed before music videos? Darn hard, that's how. Still, when I started writing my Music Monday Thank You post, I knew the perfect song to go with the post. So, here's your music video thing.

I get by with a little help from my friends...
  • Thank you, Robyn, for helping me develop the story as I wrote it. I know I had an easier time of revisions because I wrote the first draft with your comments and critiques to guide me.
  • Thank you, Tricia, for being one of the very first people to read this blog, and for always, without fail, saying the things that gave me confidence as well as pushed me to be better.
  • Thank you, Heather, for offering to be my crit buddy, giving me the chance to read your work, and for giving me meticulous, spot-on critiques that made me want to bang my head into the wall because you were always right (and I mean that in a good way).
  • Thank you, Christy, for being willing to drop everything to help a friend, for reading my work even though I was always slower with yours and I always seemed to dump it on you at the most inconvenient times!
  • Thank you, Chris, for helping me to cut my excessive words and focus on the story. I cannot see the forest for the trees without you!
  • Thank you, Erin, for never letting me think negatively, and for being brutally honest. I enjoy being a masochist in your presence.
  • Thank you, Elana, for letting me spill my crazy on you all last week!
  • Thank you, Mom and Poppa, even though you probably won't read this because you think blogs are weird and have no idea why I would ever write anything personal on the web we didn't raise you like that you be careful now are you still eating all your vegetables it wouldn't kill you to wash those dishes with hotter water i don't think that car is safe you better go pump some more air in those tires and put on a sweater it's cold, oh, and we love you. I love you, too.
  • Thank you, husband, for buying me flowers when the writing goes bad, and buying me more when I sign with an agent.
  • ...and thank you, dear blog readers, for making me smile every time I see your comments. A writer just wants her words read, after all.
Writing is a solitary act. It has to be. But that doesn't mean the writer is solitary, and I know I, personally, am better when I get by with a little (a lot of) help from my friends.

So, who would you like to thank for all the support? Go show 'em you care--either here, or on your own blog! Bet you make someone smile.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Celebration Contest

Do you hear that? That really high pitched constant tone that is reverberating throughout your neighborhood since last night? Listen hard.

Yeah. That's me, still squeeing since yesterday. I'm getting a little hoarse!

First: Thank you all so much for the nice compliments you gave me! Next time I ever feel any shade of blue, I am opening up that post and reading all your wonderful congratulations. I read each and every single one of them, and I treasure them all. Truly. Y'all are awesome and make this whole adventure so much more fun.

OK, let's give away stuff!

Those of you who have been hanging around this blog for a bit know that I'm fascinated by inspiration. I love hearing about how writers come up with new ideas for stories.

In my own writing, I've been inspired by dreams, artwork, childhood memories, and life experiences. And stories. Other stories inspire me--either by making me wonder new "what-if" scenarios, or challenging me to write better than I did before.

With this most recent work of mine, I was inspired by several works of literature and one spectacular movie. The full story is on my website, but here's a quick run-down. (And for those of you with short attention spans: there will be a test later. A multiple choice test, along the lines of "which of these works do you want me to send you for being awesome?")

See, I never set out to write a science fiction/mystery/romance. Never. But I listen to inspiration...

First, I read THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner. I won't ruin the story for you, but the unreliable narrator in that story is really a starting point for my own. I love how Turner tricked the reader, and I wanted to do something twisty like that. So, the voice of my main characters evolved from that idea.

Later, I found Mary Pearson's THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX. What I loved about this novel was the way the story focused more on the characters than on the science behind the plot. This was the first time I seriously considered writing a science fiction--her plot was so smooth without going into depth on the science side of it that I couldn't help but start to consider the possibility of using science in my own work, too.

When I read Jeanne du Prau's THE CITY OF EMBER, though, I really started to think of a plot to surround my twisty characters in a scientific setting. The idea of a contained mystery has always intrigued me since my early Agatha Christie days, and somehow the combination of these three books really sparked the idea that became central to my book: a twisty, unreliable narrator; a science fiction light on science; and a contained mystery.

Of course, a writer needs more than an idea. I credit Robin McKinley's THE HERO AND THE CROWN for teaching me what good writing was when I was a wee little thing. That one scene, just at the end of the first part, when Tor and her father find Aerin...that, to me, is the greatest writing of any fictional scene ever written, and the emotional impact of that scene is the one I strive for every time I write.

And while I think the books I mentioned above gave me a firm setting in the plot, protagonists, voice, and twist, I have to give credit to the Joss Whedon movie SERENITY for giving me the idea of the ideal antagonist. I knew I didn't want another Voldemort, another unspeakable evil. I find evil you can almost sympathize with so much more intriguing, don't you?

Finally, I have to give a shout-out to Orson Scott Card's ENDER'S GAME. I read it once, as a kid, and it's one of those books that stick with me. So, while I always told myself I couldn't write a science fiction for kids, there was always a little voice inside me that said "What about Ender?"

So there you have it. While not everything I write has such a direct path back to the books and movies I've read, I can safely link my YA science fiction directly back to these works. Not that I mimicked them, but that I learned from them, or developed new ideas based on what I read. That, to me, is the purpose of reading as a writer.

Now that I have an agent, I want to honor these works that taught me so very much. In order to do that, I'd like to share them with you all! Below is an entry form for a contest I'm going to be holding from now until the New Year. You can select any of the books (or movie) listed above--or, if you don't share my tastes, you can just get a $10 Amazon (or IndieBound or Borders or WalMart or whatever) giftcard and buy whatever it is that you want most or didn't get for the holidays.

Entry is easy! Just tell me in the form (not the comments section here) which book you want. There are lots of ways to get extra entries, too--I really want to spread the word. And if you'd like to join my mailing list, I promise not to spam you, and you'll be my bff.

I am selecting 3 winners for this contest. But, if I get more than 300 followers on this blog, then I'll give one very special surprise not listed here to one of the 300 followers. For every 25 additional followers, I'll give away another prize--so if I get 325 followers, I'm giving away 5 prizes, with 350, I'm giving away six, and so on.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A (not so) Modest Announcment

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a writing buddy. The topic of agents came up. She asked if I had any interested agents yet (she knew I was querying), and I mentioned that a few agents were reading.

"You have to let me know if anything happens," she said.

"If I get an offer, you'll hear me screaming from here," I said.

Well, apparently I don't scream loud enough.



I HAVE AN AGENT!!!!!!!!!!!

I am pleased (thrilled, amazed, overjoyed) to announce that I am being represented by none other than Merrilee Heifetz of Writers House.




<---That's the agency that has MY work!!! MINE! (And it's flipping awesome, too. Have you read about the history of the house?)

*happy sigh of total joy*

Those of you who know me, know I've been trying for awhile to snag an agent. This past week has been one of total AWESOME as I not only got my dream agent, but found out that my dream agent actually likes these little stories I keep writing.

This was, as you can tell, a momentous day. I came prepared.

This is my grandmother's table that I inherited after she died.
I think she'd think it was cool that I signed my agent contract on it.

So, I set the table. First, my black portfolio that I keep my writing stuff in (including my lucky Chinese fortune cookie fortunes). My phone--which has been called from NEW YORK. The flowers my husband bought me cause he's cool like that. Oh, and see that box of pens?

Yeah. I totally bought some pens just for the contract signing.

And then...


Hey, did you see that blue striped box on the table? Yeah, the husband bought me a present. Cause he's totally cool like that.

A new keyboard and mouse so I can write my next agented works in style.
I told you he was cool like that.


Stay tuned! I express my squee-inducing joy in the form of contests, and will be holding a pretty awesome one starting tomorrow!!

And hey: faithful blog readers--thanks for the support, love, and reader community you've provided me over the years. You all mean a lot, and it's the best feeling in the world to know that I've got people to share my joy with. You ROCK. Yes, YOU.

Soon, my precious, soon.

I don't mean to be a tease.

(OK, a little, I do.)

But I'm not ready to announce the huge amazing wonderful stupendous news...


Soon. VERY soon.

But I've got to get things signed before I can announce anything... 

(PS: news comes with a contest! For books! And movies! And a special surprise! So if you're not a follower yet, it would behoove you to be one before the news announcement....)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's Almost Over...

but not yet! If you haven't, go donate to Tu Publishing! They're SO CLOSE!!

Update: They made it! Tu Publishing is officially funded and will be accepting author submissions in January!

I Will Placate You With Cuteness and Kittens

Yeah, I'm totally a tease. There's some BIG HUGE MAJOR AMAZING AWESOME news coming soon--Monday (but quite probably very late Monday)...and I've been teasing you for a week.

In order to placate you, I give you: the cutest kitten EVAR.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We Meet Again, Fortune Cookie

Can you tell that I've not had much time to cook supper lately? The fall-to meal has been Chinese. And while I have some serious decisions to be making in the very near future, I think I'm starting to narrow down my choices nicely. I felt a little like the universe agreed with me when I got this in my cookie tonight:

Of course, my husband had the exact same fortune in his cookie, so I can only assume that either 1) We're both about to succeed, 2) the universe really REALLY wants me to get the message, or 3) the fortune cookie people are just laughing at us.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Today in Class: Not Available

Okay, so this actually happened yesterday, and it wasn't for a class but for a club instead. So, basically, the title is mostly lies.

As some of you know, I not only teach World Lit in high school, but I also advise the Creative Writing Club--a group of teens who want to become writers or poets in the future that meets weekly to discuss their own and others' works. One thing I've started doing recently is coordinating Skype visits with published authors so the kids can have a chance to see what it's like for the real professionals.

This week, the wonderfully amazing PJ Hoover (author of THE EMERALD TABLET, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, and the not-soon-enough to be released NECROPOLIS) came to speak to the kids, which was very nice of her considering how some of the kids are such obsessive fans of her work that they treat THE EMERALD TABLET like Edward treats Bella.

So anyway, just before the meeting I was talking to one of the kids (who happened to be extremely excited, but also extremely nervous to meet her hero).

Kid: What am I going to say?

Me: Just ask her all those questions you have about writing. We talked about it last meeting.

Kid: I know...but I don't want to look stupid.

Me: Don't worry about it.

Kid: What other authors are coming?

Me: [starts listing, but Kid interrupts]

Kid: Hey! I know who you should invite next!!!

Me: [amused at her excitement] Who?

Kid: Remember when we read that book about Hell in class?


Kid: You should totally get that Dante guy who wrote it to talk to our club!

Me: ...

Kid: [looks of eager anticipation]

Me: Uh...

Kid: ...Wait. He's dead isn't he?

Me: Since the 1300s, yeah.

Kid: See? I told you I'd say something stupid.

PS: Have you seen my post about the fortune cookie of fortune yet? Cause it's quite....fortuitous. I'm just sayin'. Big announcements coming soon, and I tend to celebrate announcements by giving away stuff, so, yanno, you might want to stick around for the show next week. Oh, and if you haven't become a member of the blog (click on the Google Follow to the right!), then you might want to before, say...Monday. 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Music Monday: Boom-de-yada

I know it's a commercial.

I know.

But I still love it.

To me, this song epitomizes joy and happiness. I watch it and think, Hey. I love the whole world, too. And since I'm feeling particularly joyful today, I thought I'd share this little bit of sunshine.

Now, you know I have to link everything back to writing, right? Well, one thing that I noticed when I was trying to analyze this and link it back to writing was this: this was not necessarily a matter of everyone loving everything--it was a lot of little loves linking up to equal loving the whole world.

We're all like that. We all have little loves that we filter our love of the whole world through. It's our own personal "thing" that we love that helps us to translate a love of the whole world.

That applies to characters in writing, too. What makes your characters love the world? For some, it may be another person (think Twilight.)) For others, perhaps that love is for an intangible thing, like knowledge (Encyclopedia Brown...c'mon, I hope I'm not the only one that remembers him). Or how about a love for a goal--and the achievement (or at least effort of striving towards) that goal is the filter that enables the world to be loved for that character (Harry Potter, anyone?).

When we write, we have to remember that for everyone, there's one thing--be it a person, idea, or goal--that we all love, and that enables us to see the world differently. Defining that one thing for our characters will make us better writers by making our characters more real, more human, and more likable. Even for characters who want unlikable things (Hannibal Lector, Dexter from the recent books and TV show on Showtime), the fact that they have something they like is the key to our liking the character.

OK, if I'm going to mention Hannibal Lector and Dexter, I better end on a positive note. The first vid I've got up there is about a year old, but the Discovery Channel recently released another version. Here's a little more pep for your morning!

So, what make YOUR character love the world? Or, what makes YOU love the world?
For me, it's (honestly) writing. Writing makes me think of the world in a different way, a way I love. You?

Saturday, December 5, 2009


But I'm going to have to enable word verification on post comments.

I hate word verification. But I'm getting at least 4-5 spams a week (I've been deleting them as soon as I can), and that's silly. I am hoping that if I leave word verification on for a bit, it might make the spammers quit. If not, I'm afraid it must stay on.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Fun!

Ah. Twilight. How I love/hate thee!

But while I could not bring myself to either read the second book or see the movie, at least I have...




Ah. Life is good.

(both via Bookshelves of Doooooooom.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday...

So, I don't usually go for memes, but the book blogger world has one that I do tend to read a lot, the "Waiting on Wednesday" meme, where they list the books they are most excited about reading in the future. I have found many new books for my TBR pile by reading book blogger's WoW memes.

Recently, however, I found one that I am *very* excited about. I don't know why, but lately I've been hard pressed to find a book I was dying to read--perhaps it's because Suzanne Collins' CATCHING FIRE was so good that I was having trouble getting worked up about a book when I compared it to hers.

But when I saw Rachel Ward's NUMBERS described on Steph Su's blog, it went instantly to my wish-list. Here's the description:

Ever since she was child, Jem has kept a secret: Whenever she meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die. Burdened with such awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. The two plan a trip to the city. But while waiting to ride the Eye ferris wheel, Jem is terrified to see that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today's number. Today's date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem's world is about to explode!

Wow! I can't wait for this one!!!

So, what books are you excited about? Which ones are on your Christmas wish-list?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tu Publishing: Support A Good Publishing Cause


Tu Publishing.

Publishing multi-cultural fantasy and science fiction.

It's important. Here's why:

I've been a fan of Stacy Whitman (founder of Tu Publishing) for awhile now, but although I knew she was working on establishing the publishing line, I didn't realize she needed help with fundraising. WriterGirl brought that to my attention. Really, you should go read her post here--she says it all much better than I would.

My favorite lines from her post:
I believe this idea is as important if not more so than the LIAR cover controversy. Bloggers moved mountains with that campaign and this publishing house aims to bring more books like that to us. They need our help. And I want to do everything I can to help make this a reality.

There are 14 days left on the fund-raising project and there is a lot of ground to cover. And the cool thing is, if you donate, you get stuff back. Please, spread the word. Donate. Contact others who might be interested. There is a fabulous auction going on. There is so much we can do, and not a lot of time left to do it. Please, I want to move another mountain.

WriterGirl is right: let's move this mountain.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Today, In Class... Of War and Translations

Today, the kids read a short story by Tolstoy called "How Much Land Does a Man Need." As they read, I walked around, helping them.

Kid: Where is this story from?

Me: Russia.

Kid: It doesn't sound Russian.

Me & All the Other Kids: *blink*blink*

Kid: *blink*

Me: It's...a translation. That's English. You're reading English.

Kid: Oooooooooooh. I didn't think it sounded Russian.

Music Monday

Between my notes on Michael Franti how he expresses mood through song and WriterGirl's suggestion of Still Alive as the theme for my current on-submission work, I'm starting to think I need to start a music video meme. Whatcha think? Something of interest to y'all?

Anyway, here's my latest musical find. The singer's name is Mads Langer (YES. His name is MADS. Aren't you already thinking how much cooler he is than you?). I first heard this song at the end of the latest episode of Castle, and I loved it so much that I sought it out.

I'm glad I did. When I first heard the lyrics, I thought that I might find the perfect song for my current WIP, about berserkers and golems and lots of killing and such. It's a comedy. (kidding) I could do without the wailing bit he does towards the end--I've never been a fan of the look-how-much-I-can-do-with-my-voice wail, but the actual song itself is beautiful, even moreso with the words.

And here's the lyrics here, for those of you who can't/won't open the video. It's the lyrics I love, although I must admit that Mads has a haunting voice to go along with them.

[deleted lyrics to avoid copyright infringement]

What I love about this song is that it portrays a story--but in such a vague way that the singer is Everyman, that you can fit it in any genre. This could be the beginning of a romantic comedy, the end of a tragedy. It could be the theme of a fantasy, or could just be a passing thought in a character's mind.

Either way, I like it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you doing here? Go eat some turkey!

Blogging to resume next week. Enjoy feasting!

Yesterday in Class: Rats Ate My Homework

Every year, the Life Skills teacher has her students carry around bags of flour with heads made of pantyhose. This is supposed to teach the kids the responsibility of having babies. They had to dress the bags of flour, name them, keep a blanket on them, and carry them from class to class. If they're caught not treating the bag of flour baby right, then us teachers are supposed to snitch on them.

I have two girls who are in the class. I noticed yesterday that they didn't have their babies with them, and they both looked sad.

Me: Where's your babies?

Kid 1: We don't have them any more.

Me: Oh, the project's over? Did you make a good grade?

Kid 1: No. The teacher had to cancel the project.

Kid 2: Yeah. Our babies got eaten.

Me: WHAT?!

Kid 1: We kept the babies in the pantry over the weekend. When we came in this morning to get them, rats had gotten in and eaten them.

Me: RATS ate your BABIES?!

Kid 2: Yeah, we're terrible parents.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kick-start Your Writing

Between work and stress and work and a little more work, I've not been able to dedicate much time to my writing lately. And that's OK. Like I said before, I know that my writing life must necessarily be different from those who can make writing their first and only job.

But the point is, I've been a bit...lax about writing lately. When I get a little behind, I let myself get further behind.

So, this weekend, while I was sitting at the coffee shop with my husband, I really started getting back in the grove. But, like always, time started slipping away. It didn't help that the coffee shop had good wi fi. Besides, we couldn't spend all day sipping coffee, and soon enough I'd have to pack up, go home, and get to work on other projects (including dishes that hadn't been washed in a week).

I looked up at the husband. "Husband," I said, "I wish I could take my laptop and my newly found writing groove and go to the Biltmore House and sit in the lawn and write."

The husband looked at me. "Dude. We have season passes. We could totally do that."

So we did.

Oh, wait. You can't see the view? Lemme zoom that in for you.


Nice, isn't it? And the best part-- no distractions. Sure, it was a bit cold sitting outside in the mountains as the sun was setting, but there was no wi fi, no friends, no cell phone reception...and I was able to write two chapters.

And keep hold of that writing groove.

Not to mention that, when I finally packed up and went home, this was my parting site of the Biltmore House:

Totally. Worth. It.

So, where do go or what do you do to get back in the writing groove?

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Steal All My Best Stuff from Janet Reid

...and this is no exception.

It is Decided

I have long had plans on what to do if I ever sell my book for millions.

This weekend, I found a new plan.

I will take my husband to New York.


Where Ninja serve you. NINJA. They drop from the ceiling and give you food. WHAT COULD BE BETTER?

So, what's your plan? Let's say you sell your book for a million bucks--where are you going to celebrate?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Change: Updated

Change. It's here!

Whatcha think?

Known Problems
  • Can't make the embedded comment function work, so I've changed to the new page comment box. What do you guys think of that? Any preference?
  • Please let me know if you find any other problems--if you can't comment, email me at bethrevis (at)


Change. It's coming.

Blog redesign is happening now. If stuff doesn't work, yanno, sorry and all. Should be fixed by Monday.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Find the Mood

One of the things I've learned in revisions and through writing and rewriting is that it is essential to find the ultimate mood of a character. Mood defines a person. By this, I mean that underlying attitude about the world, the filters the character sees the world through. This is different for us all. Consider the way people react differently to being late, being lost, or when given an unexpected twist. I despise being late so much that I have actually set the clocks in my house twenty minutes fast so I always show up early to wherever I'm going. But I actually like being lost--whenever I move somewhere new, I drive around for hours until I get thoroughly lost, then try to find my way home by the most random routes I can find. This is totally different from my husband: he likes precise time, and likes showing up at the right time, not early. He wants to know the shortest distance, not the most convoluted one.

For characters, it's often much easier to present this simpler. What is one core attitude the character has? For my most recent work, I'd say that Amy's core is based on family; for my other character Elder, his core is based on responsibility. So, Amy's actions are based on a desire to protect or be with her family; Elder's is based on a desire to be a responsible leader.

In the new project I'm working on, it's even baser than that. Both main character's fundamental desire is simply to exist within their society. They are working up to shout their barbaric yawp to the world.

And since I mentioned the barbaric yawp, I can't help but include this:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Injecting More Emotion into Writing

So, today I led a Creative Writing Club meeting at my school.

I think it went pretty well.

The topic of injecting emotion into your work, and I gave them a poem and two short video clips as an example. This is one of them.

I was going to go on and on about how awesome it was, and explain what I said about emotion in it, but yanno? I think I'm going to just show the video and let that be it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Today in Class... The Ghost of Christmas Past

So, today in class, I was introducing the story of Dante's Inferno, and I started by giving some background information on Dante and Beatrice, his muse for the story. I'm all about some audio-visuals, so I had graphs and paintings and samples of terza rima up.

I got to this picture, and started telling them all about Dante's deep love for Beatrice, and how he wrong the Divine Comedy in part to have his wish to be with her again fulfilled, albeit in heaven. It was touching.

I was getting all into it, explaining the sources of the painting, going into the background and how it showed Florence but kept the focus on the main characters. I was even pointing out how Dante was paying attention to Beatrice, but she ignored him, despite how her friends were focused on Dante as well. Heck, I went into discussing the birds in the background, and how they could be symbolic.

Then I turn back to the class and ask if they have any questions.

Kid: Yeah, I got a question.

Me: About Dante, or The Inferno?

Kid: About that picture.

Me: [turning back to the picture] What about it?

Kid: Why is that old dude wearing a Santa Claus hat?

(So I was going to save this for tomorrow, but y'all were so sweet with the bff hugs 
and support and such that I thought I'd give you a little TiC love early :)

Where's Beth?

Here's something I didn't expect: querying takes up more of my time than writing.

Here's why. When I get an extra ten minutes or so while I'm writing, I use that time to blog, check out other's blogs, read, write something else, brainstorm, etc. Now that I'm querying, I use those ten minutes to research agents or prepare queries.

Which explains the relative blog silence lately.

Now, I've always had the attitude that blogging comes last in the list of priorities in my writing life--it has to. Working on the actual profession, be it writing or querying, always comes first. So I'm not going to apologize for blog silence (even though i really missed you guys and i'm sorry). 

 So, to be honest, what with queries and critiques and working on a new project (albeit not for NaNo) and the holidays and the approaching final exams and my day job and playing with my puppy and life in general, blogs may be a bit scant. 

 But faithful readers, never fear! I still have all my notes from Cynthea Liu's workshop the Saturday before last which I will be sharing, and I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about critiqueing and revising (again) and I've been reading some awesome books lately *cough*meganwhalenturner*cough* to be reviewed.

We're still bff, right? If I bribe you with exciting shiny new posts, you'll still come to my party, right? Right?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Hero's Luck

(shamelessly stolen from The Writer's Almanac)

The Hero's Luck

by Lawrence Raab
When something bad happens
we play it back in our minds,
looking for a place to step in
and change things. We should go outside
right now, you might have said. Or:
Let's not drive anywhere today.

The sea rises, the mountain collapses.
A car swerves toward the crowd
you've just led your family into.
We all look for reasons. Luck
isn't the word you want to hear.
What happened had to,

or it didn't. Maybe
the exceptional man can change direction
in midair, thread the needle's eye,
and come out whole. But even the hero
who stands up to chance has to feel
how far the world will bend

until it breaks him. He can see
that day: the unappeasable ocean,
the cascades of stone. A crowd
gathers around his body. He sees that too.
someone is saying: His luck just ran out.
It happens to us all.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Revision 911!

Tomorrow, I'm jet-setting to nearby Charlotte for the SCBWI-Carolinas workshop Revision 911, led by the awesomely amazing Cynthea Liu!

Here's the workshop description:
   In this intensive 4-hour workshop, author and writing coach Cynthea Liu shows you how to revise your ailing work into submission-shape! You will learn how to quickly identify issues with voice, setting, plot, and character through real-life examples, and Cynthea will share smart revision techniques to heal manuscripts as painlessly as possible. She'll also point out symptoms most people casually push aside that shouldn't be ignored.

My question for you:
Do you have any questions you'd like me to ask at the workshop? Ask here, and I'll try to ask tomorrow!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Different Kinds of Manuscripts

As I sip on my Skinny Snowman Latte (with an extra shot of espresso), wondering whether I should get started on my new manuscript or play on the interwebs and fritter away my day, I find myself thinking of how there are different kinds of manuscripts out there.

  • The One You Love: This is the manuscript that you love, and maybe your mother loves, but that's about it. You can't sell it, it has a stack of rejections, and even when you try to workshop it, people's eyes glaze over and they nod politely and say things like, "Oh, it's, creative." And although you love it, you can't bear (or can't see how) to change it. "Revisions" mean adding a scene or changing a few words, or fixing grammar--never deleting, rearranging, or doing significant changes. When you submit it--and you will, and you'll submit it to early--it will be rejected, and you will be shocked--shocked!--that anyone could possibly put it down.
  • The One You Hate: For whatever reason, this one isn't good enough. Maybe it's a drawer novel that you've recognized as drawer novel and can't stand it, maybe a critiquer wrote nasty things about it, maybe the rejections beat you down, maybe you just edited it to death. Whatever the reason, you hate it. You probably will never get to the point where you edit it again, and it will probably never see the light again...if you haven't already deleted it.
  • The One You Love to Hate: This one is written with blood, sweat, and tears. As you wrote it, it was the one you you revised it, it was the one you hated. Now that you've both written and revised it, it's the one you love to hate--you love what it is, but you hate what it isn't. You know it's not perfect--nothing ever can be--but it's as perfect as you can make This is the one you submit with professionalism, by which I mean, you select specific agents you think will like it, consider their comments if they reject it, and submit again without cycling into rage/depression. You know if--when--it gets accepted, you'll have to edit it again, and you don't dread the kinda sorta look forward to it.
As I start submitting one manuscript and begin working on another, I realize that, for the first time ever, I've got a manuscript that I love to hate. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside--my reaction to it somehow makes me think it's a worthier manuscript than others I've done before.

So, where are you with your manuscripts? Do you think there's another category out there I'm skipping?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hump-Day Linkspam!

Holy crap, guys. I've got a *ton* of links in my feed reader and Twitter for you all...but these are the most pressing ones, the ones that have me keeping tabs open in Firefox for you.

First, Stephen King. This gets a big shiny gold star from me for how he says teaching can be like a brain suck. Also: he threw away Carrie. I'm sure you've heard the story before, but it's still cool.

I found these questions that you should ask a copy editor before hiring him quite intriguing. It also confirmed that, although I am a self-professed grammar queen, I am perhaps not suitable to be employed as a copy editor. I certainly don't have a favorite dictionary.

Book sales. They suck. Except for, yanno, kid lit. Which kinda rocks for me and everyone else writing kid lit. But I liked this article because it filled me with spiteful glee (as, personally, I think it would be better for publishers to invest more cash in debut authors than slapping down too many bills for a sophomore novel):

Other big titles showed mixed results. “Her Fearful Symmetry,” the second novel by Ms. Niffenegger, author of the best-selling “Time Traveler’s Wife,” sold just 23,000 copies in its first week, according to BookScan. Publishing insiders suggested that was a disappointment given that Scribner, the unit of Simon & Schuster that published the book, paid Ms. Niffenegger close to $5 million for it.

Lastly: I won this in a Twitter contest. How cool is that? Will update you all on it's usefulness, if you'd like.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Art as Inspiration, part 2

Part 1 is here, where I talked about my favorite painting.

Art has a profound influence on my life...occasionally. By that, I mean that I don't think about art all the time, and I certainly don't know enough nor have the talent to even attempt (visual) art. But I do appreciate it, and I do seek it out.

And sometimes, seeing visual art inspires my own literary art.

Recently, I was indulging in my lately online guilty pleasure: Historical Tweets. On the site, they make fake tweets from people in history. For example, here's Marie Antoinette, tweeting about cake:

HAHAHAHA!!!! Oh, Marie Antionette, you and your shenanigans.
(Side note: Don't know why the image is appearing skewed...sorry, Marie.)

OK, so when I saw this, first I laughed, then I hungered for cake, then I noticed the picture in the background. I mean, it's pretty intense. Marie's scowl could harm small children, or at least make them cry...and check out the brunette she's staring at.

There's a story there.

I searched for the pic online, but actually had quite a difficult time placing it. Eventually, I found this:

Looking at this image, I can almost see a story. Who is the brunette? What connection does she have with Marie? They are sharing a moment so deeply personal that even the bedraggled beggars fade into the background...and, speaking of, why is that one woman, so clearly on the side of the beggars, also so clearly not a beggar? She's clean, well dressed, and beautiful.

A story spun from my mind when I saw this image. Of Marie Antionette as a young girl, befriending another young girl. Of innocence...and innocence lost as, eventually, the girls stood on opposite sides.

In my search for more info, I also came across this image:

It's titled, Arrest of Louis XVI and His Family. And eye goes immediately to the brunette and Marie Antionette.

These seem to be different brunettes, but my imagination can cast them as the same woman. It makes me even more curious about their story, their connection. As an amateur art historian, I'm curious about the history here, and about how two separate artists were motivated to create images were the focus in this disparate time was on a locked gaze between two very different women.

But as I writer, I sort of love the mystery here, and itch to write their story myself.

So, has any art work inspired your own writing? Do you "fill in the blanks" with your own stories?

Monday, November 2, 2009

On Time

Last week, I came across this blog article by Miss Snark's First Victim, Authoress. And while I love the MSFV and Authoress herself, I have to admit that I had some immediate, gut-wrenching feelings of bitterness when I read this:

Suffice it to say that the main thing that keeps my writing going is an almost religious adherence to my Daily Writing Time.

1:30 to 4:00. That's my weekly time-of-day during which nothing else is demanded of me. I have no commitments or obligations, no pre-scheduled poop. And I refuse to make appointments or have meetings during this time.

Monday through Friday, 1:30 to 4:00, you'll find me with Beatrice [her computer]. Don't bother me.

Now don't think I don't still love MSFV (I do!), but my first reaction to reading this was a combination of bitterness and jealousy.

I don't have a Daily Writing Time.

I would *love* to have a Daily Writing Time, but I'm more likely to grow a third arm.

And I admit that I, like Authoress, sometimes feel less of a writer when I don't write daily.

But...let me show you my schedule last week (the week where, ironically, the only blog post I could post was a short one on how I had no time):
  • Monday: 
    • 5:30-6:10am: Wake up, get dressed, etc., etc.
    • 6:10-7:00am: Drive to school, while eating breakfast in the car and thinking of lesson plans 
    • 7:00-8:00am: Arrive at school, finish lesson plans, copy work, prepare for class
    • 8:00-3:30: School, which included:
      • Comforting a student who broke up with her boyfriend and the world has now ended omfg
      • Doing three complete lesson plans, made from scratch, comparing the poetry of the Chinese T'ang Dynasty and Japanese Heian period, complete with graphics, power-points, interactive features, and student work
      • Lead the yearbook class in developing the school's yearbook
      • Conferenced with another teacher on method of essay writing
      • ET CETERA
    • Around 4:30-5:00: Arrive home
    • 5:00-6:30: Cook, wash dishes, talk with husband, try to be human
    • 6:30-8:00: Various sundry activities, including calling my mother who thinks I'm dead if I don't call once a week, washing the dog who thinks life isn't complete unless he rolls in mud, changing the sheets (again) after the muddy dog decides he can clean himself (on the bed), keeping up with friends who I love but live all across the country
  • Tuesday:
    • All the same activities as Monday, but add to that a 1 hour Creative Writing Club meeting with a group of students across the school--which includes reading their work, counseling them on writing, and preparing questions to ask the author who was visiting that week via Skype 
  • Wednesday:
    • Repeat Monday, but add in:
      • Yes, you read that right: six hours. From about 6:30-12:30, I sat in my chair and graded.
  • Thursday:
    • Repeat Monday, but add in a husband who was late from his own college class, and me, who was so exhausted from Wednesday that I just collapsed into bed
  • Friday:
    • Do you sense a pattern yet?
So, it's Saturday now (I'm scheduling this to post on Monday).

Now, take a glance at my schedule. Can you tell how jealous I am of *anyone* who has a Daily Writing Time?

And it's all nice and good to say, "If you really wanted it, you'd do it."'s. Not. That. Easy.

What am I supposed to sacrifice? The day job? That pays the bills. Dinner with my husband, who I already neglect? A clean house?

Well, in truth, I do already sacrifice those things. The husband bought dinner one of those nights, and I let the dishes go a few days. And in that, I gained myself about 3 hours of writing this week.

Three hours.

Authoress does that a day.

Hell yes, I'm jealous.

But then, when I see things like this, I'm no longer jealous--I'm also mad.   Do you know the number one thing, according to that list, that's a "nasty" habit of writers?

1. Not Keeping A Regular Schedule

Somewhere along the line, you’ve either fallen out of your previous writing schedule, or you never had one to begin with. Very bad, indeed.

If you have a 9-5 job, schedule an hour of writing (or more) each day, either early in the morning or later at night. For those of you under few time constraints, use that to your advantage. Try to schedule several hours of writing at the most convenient time for you.
Most of all, once you have a routine, stick to it as much as possible.

*bangs head on wall*

So...I should wake up at 4:30am? Or I should stay up until 2 (and then wake up 3 1/2 hours later) to get that writing in...?

Very early on, I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn't have a regular writing schedule...and I never would. And here's the kicker:
That is OK.

Really. It's fine that I don't have a writing schedule. I might not be able to write every single flipping day, but that doesn't make me less of a writer. Because when I do get a break--a holiday, or a long weekend, or the ever-longed-for summer break...well, then I can write for hours and hours and hours at a time. It doesn't matter that I write every day. In all honesty, if I wrote every day, I'd write crap. During the workweek, I'm too focused on teaching in the morning and too burnt-out in the evening. I know. I've tried. I actually have done the wake up at 4:30am, or stay up until 2am before. And what I wrote was drivel.

Here's the thing:
We all write differently.

I write best when I write in huge chunks. I think it's because time *is* so precious to me--when I can set aside a day for writing, I really write--I focus 100%, and can crank out 5,000+ words in one sitting...and they're better than if I had done them a thousand words a day. 

A four hour block works for Authoress. A strict schedule works for the author of the list of "8 Nasty Habits You Should Quit to Fuel Your Writing." And writing in flurries whenever I can snatch some time works for me. Whatever way *you* write, don't ever think it's wrong--as long as you're writing, you're a writer. A block of time in your day planner doesn't make you a writer--it's the words you can put on the page, whenever you do actually get them there.

(And, PS, the same goes for NaNo, whether you're participating or not. Which, for the record, I'm not.)