Thursday, July 30, 2015


In honor of writer's vent-day on Twitter, I'm re-sharing Tuesday's shenanigans. If you're a writer, you'll feel right at home with some of these.


I have a part time job where I meet a A LOT of people everyday. I usually don't offer up that I'm a writer. However, sometimes they ask questions that forces me to admit to it, like, why did you come to the States? (writing.) What do you do for fun? (writing) What did you go to school for? (writing) How did you meet your husband (writing.) You get the gist.

But there are also many questions that I answer with a wishy-washy shrug, a face that says ask no more, and a mumbling: "I have second job, kind of, where I work from home." After I do this, 99% of the time, people ask no further. And it's not a lie per se, so it doesn't make me feel dishonest. But as it turns out.... my magical answer is not so magical after all.

I was at my new job, which is exactly the same as my old job, and a few of my bosses were standing around.
"If you do this, this, and this, you'll eventually get full-time here," one of them told me.
"Oh," I said, "I don't want full-time."
They stared at me and I reached for my wishy-washy, ask-no-more, mumble: "I have a second job, kind of, where I work from home."
Silence....then the boss who asked in the first place says, "So...internet porn?"
"WHAT?" I yelled. "Is that what people think when I say that?"
"Well..." they nodded in unison. "Yeah."
No wonder people asked no further.

You may ask why I'm so reluctant to tell people I'm a writer. Well, after four years of receiving the answers from below, I'd bet my bottom dollar, you would be too.

My contribution to #TenThingsNotToSayToaWriter

"You should try to get on that list they have in New York. The books on it do real well."
Jul 28  "I've led an interesting life. You should write a book about me."
 Jul 28  "Do you know the Harry Potter lady?"
Yes I'm going over to her house for a spot of tea later on. Want to come?
Jul 28  "You should write about vampires instead. People really like that."
Jul 28  "Every story should have a do know what a protagonist is, right?"

Jul 28  "Did you come up with the whole book yourself?"
God no, I have 25 enslaved oompa loompas who do it all for me.
Jul 28 "My friend so-and-so read your book. She said it reads just like a REAL book."
Jul 28 "I know exactly what you're going through; I thought about writing a book once."
Jul 28  "An author, huh. So you write romance?"
Yes, due to being born with a vagina, I can only write romance.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Reads & Netflix Binging

Ah, summer. What better time to crack open a new book than at the beach, the pool, or on the couch... with the curtains drawn shut...and the A/C blasting.

Like so many people, my reading excels during the summer. Not because I have vacation time, mind you, but because when it comes to the dog days of summer in this part of the U.S, the heat is neither great-fun-in-the-sun nor welcomed. There are times when I step outside and get blasted with a wave of sizzling 105-110 degrees, and simply say, "Screw this." Then I step right back inside and decide to stay there until the weather comes to its senses and drops to the 90s.

For me, this is the optimal time to do two of my favorite activities that are right up there with sleeping, eating, and breathing: Reading books and binge watching Netflix.

So what is on my favorite reading and binge watching list this summer, you ask. No? Well, I'll tell you any way.

Favorite Reads

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
I grew up devouring Marian Keyes books and her latest novel did not disappoint. The MC, Stella Sweeney, may be my favorite Keyes character of all time...besides from Mammy Walsh, but, if you too are a Marian Keyes-er, you know that goes without saying.

Penryn & the End of Days Series by Susan Ee
I stumbled upon the first book of this dystopian YA series a while back, and just now got my hands on the final book: End of Days. I literally had to limit myself to a few chapters a day so I wouldn't gobble the whole thing up, and rather savor the story the way you slowly sip an excellent glass of wine.
People sometimes commend me for pace, but Ee has pace down to a T. The series has great plot movement, character arcs, and, for any other writers out there, makes for excellent study material.


Favorite Binge

A Young Doctor's Notebook

I didn't know what to expect starting this tiny series, and I can't remember what it was that made me click on it, but one morning, and by morning I mean late night of writing for me, I closed the lap top and pushed play around 4 a.m.
The writing is surprising and the blend of darkness and humor borders genius. The task of making humor out of a scene that involves a dying child, whose leg is being sawed off, should be impossible. But, somehow, they pulled it off, and do it well.

I got interested in watching this after I heard the show was "controversial." It took me about two of the half-hour episodes to get into Derek, but once I was in, I was in. Ricky Gervais, the creator and star of the original, British, The Office, has rebooted his mockumentary scope, this time with the setting of an elderly home. I think the engine of the show is supposed to be humor driven, as it marches to the beat of its predecessor's drum, but what actually keeps me playing the next episode is the sad, realistic undertone. The critics seem to have focused so much on Gervais' performance, that they might've missed the reoccurring themes that bring up essential societal question, like, how the elderly are treated, both by budget-cutting suits and their own family members, and how the staff, a group of "outsiders", are viewed and even mocked by society.

I don't think this show is everyone's flavor but I, for one, enjoy its heart.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Writing Two Books at Once: Yea or Nay?

It was sometime after I'd finished one of the later drafts of Sentencing Sapphire (Coming out Oct. 6;Yay!) that I started a new book, no, my first book outside of the Sapphire Dubois Series. The 3rd Sapphire book was at an editor's, and I had some time on my hands, so I dove into a novel I refer to as Project X.

In all honesty, I wanted to take a break from the world of blood, murder, and psychos after I finished Sapphire #2. However, the schedule didn't allow it.

So, after my dear agent had read and approved Sentencing Sapphire, I told her: "I need a break from the series, or I will go crazy and it won't be any good." It had less to do with spending too much time with my MCs, and more to do with spending years sitting down to write every day and having to imagine, what is this serial killer thinking? What's his motivation? How does he feel when he kills? After a while, it took a toll on me.

Project X is not only serial killer free, but it's also more light hearted in many ways (in other ways not.) When the contract for the final books of the Sapphire Series came up, I was obviously elated, but I asked for extra time, because again, I needed that break. Thankfully, they were kind enough to give it to me.

Somewhere along the way of writing Project X, which I was SO committed to, I started missing Sapphire and her world. What could be the harm, I thought, in writing the first chapter just to see how it goes? Four chapters later, I stopped and looked at the page count in surprise, unsure of how it came to grow so much?

So here I am, writing two books at once. As I spend every other day bouncing back and forth between the two books, I'm wondering if it's actually a good thing for the mind or if I am, in fact, driving myself more bonkers this way than what I was doing before.

The only way to find out? Make the list.

Pros & Cons of Writing Two Books at Once

Pro: Less Pressure
Writing two books actually seems to take the pressure off both of them. Without the self-imposed pressure we writers so often put on ourselves, my mind seems less bogged down, resulting in a creativity spike.

Con: Double the Story, Twice the Memory Loss.
Usually, I will glance back at what I wrote the previous day before starting to write again, just to get into the story again. But when writing two books I have to re-read everything, every single paragraph, to have total recall. I also find myself having to go back chapters to check facts again and again.

ProDouble Material
As a writer there are two questions you'll constantly get: What material do you have, and when you will have more? At the end of the two-book journey, you should have two manuscripts ready to go out, making everyone--you, your agent, your publisher, your mom--happy.

Con: Time Constraints
Being in contract for one of the books, obviously makes that manuscript priority. There is no way around it. Though I'm miles away from my deadline, I still feel guilty working on something out-of-contract and there's this little voice in my head constantly reminding me how much it sucks when I'm rushing a MS toward the end of a deadline. This could be a HUGE problem.

ProGetting a Break
Once every so often, and by that I mean all the time, I run into a wall where I have painted my character into a corner, and I have no idea how to get them out of it...yet.
Instead of spending all my time crying: "Why? Wh-hy-hy?" to the sky like I normally do, I
now move over to the other story, until the answer comes to me. This allows me to be productive where I would normally have wasted time bawling.

Con: Devotion
Can you really be a 100% devoted to a story when you're only giving it 50% of your time? I don't know. I feel fully devoted while working on either project, but only the end result, which I'm yet to have, will answer that question I'm afraid.

ProA New Process.
This is normally how my writing process works while writing one manuscript over, let's say, a year.

Rough Draft
Final Draft

As you can see, the middle chunk is tedious but, it also tends to be the calmer part of the process. On the flip side, writing a rough draft or pushing out those final changes before the MS is due, can be heaven or hell, or sometimes both simultaneously. Working on two novels allows me the exciting thrill of writing a rough draft one day, and to break it up with some tedious rewrites the next. I can go through Hell on Tuesday, and recoup in the calm waters of rewriting on Wednesday.

Conclusion: At the end of the day, I find that the Pros outweigh the Cons. This, of course, comes from the POV of someone who is yet to conclude the new process. It all depends on how I'll cross the finish line in the end.
Should I come out of this looking neat, squeaky clean, and smell slightly of lavender, I will definitely keep this new way going.
But, should I come out of this like a person emerging from a war zone with blood on my face, torn, dirty clothes, and reeking of death and self-hatred, I will go back to the old process and only do one novel at a time.

Truly, and as with most things in life, only time will tell.