Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Haunted Contest!

Jessica Verday's The Haunted, sequel to The Hollow, is finally here! To celebrate, I will be giving away a copy of either The Haunted or The Hollow (whichever you'd prefer).

To Enter:
Just leave a comment ON THIS POST and you are entered! Be sure to tell me how many points you have :)

Extra entry opportunities:
Blog, Facebook, Tweet about it - 1 extra entry each
"Like" The Haunted fanpage - 1 extra entry
"Like" The Hollow fanpage - 1 extra entry
"Like" my Author Page - 1 extra entry

The contest will end this Friday, the 3rd at 11:59 EST (and international readers are more than welcome to enter!) :)

*I can get the book signed but it may take a while as Jess is crazy busy for the next couple months touring with her book*

Good luck to everyone and HUGE CONGRATS for Jess!!!!

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Meltdown

Okay, so I had a bit of a rough day yesterday. I had to play a piano piece (accompanying a young lady who was singing). I practiced this song till my fingers ached. I played it perfectly (well, very well at least). I was nervous (as I always am going in front of a crowd), but I was prepared, I had worked hard, I was ready, I knew this song in my sleep (literally, the tune is still running through my head).......

I get up to play.......

I BOMB. Holy cow, choke city. I don't know what happened, but I'm pretty sure after the intro, I missed the whole first page. The second page got some play time, but the top of the third page for sure was MIA....I think I salvaged enough to finish the third page and end the poor thing. Oooo and I DID hit the final note perfectly, which is good since that is the one that is sustained with no singer's voice to cover it up.

But man, was I steamed! Furious! I'm still fuming!!! (my husband and father say whining, but tomato toMAHto right)

I am just so irritated that I psyched myself out and was so nervous that I flushed a month of hard work right down the drain. I can't fix it. I can't hit rewind or tell everyone to sit their butts back down because I'm going to pound those keys until the notes come out right (dangit!) - but man, I'd like to.

The good thing that's come out of this: I swear if I ever let my nerves get the best of me again I'll chop my fingers off and beat myself with them. I am DETERMINED I will NEVER let me get the better of myself again. And not just when it comes to playing piano for a room full of people.

The next time I query, submit to publishers, send off anything anywhere, I'll work hard, I'll get my manuscript polished up, I'll do my homework, and when it comes time to send off my work I'm not going to hesitate. I'm not going to second guess myself and work myself into such a state of nervous energy that I can barely think (it was bad, ya'all....at one point I looked at the notes on the paper and seriously could not translate them into what key I was supposed to push....k, it's kinda funny now....)


Oh no, I'm going to have some confidence in myself even if I have to fake it until I make it, pretend until I hit send, pray until it pays (you get the point) :D

P.s. seriously, am I the only one out there that gets clobbered by their nerves? I'm kind of wishing there was a video of this because it can't REALLY be as bad as I'm remembering it....can it?


Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Funnies

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.
— Meg Chittenden 

Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves. 
— Paul Theroux

There are few things, apparently, more helpful to a writer than having once been a weird little kid. 
— Katherine Paterson 

When he was nine, he protested. "Everybody else in my class stays up until nine or ten o'clock," he said. "How come I go to bed at 6:30?" And I said, "Because your mother writes." We made a deal. He could stay up, but he couldn't interrupt me unless he was bleeding to death or the house was on fire. I emerged at 9:30 or 10:00 every night, gave him a kiss, and tucked him in. 
— Karen Swenson

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thirty Word Thursday - Another Way to Describe

Sometimes I can better describe a person by another person's reaction. In...my first book, I couldn't think of a way to 
sufficiently describe the charisma of a certain boy, 
so the narrator says, "I knew girls who saved his gum."  
— Amy Hempel 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blog Chain - Worth the Hassle

This round of the ol' chain was started by our awesome Eric, who wants to know:

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a writer? What is your greatest reward from writing?

Fabulous question. There are a lot of things about being a writer that are hard. Juggling writing with kids and family and jobs, dodging queries, revisions, edits, revisions, bleeding-red critiques, more revisions, W.A.I.T.I.N.G., querying, submitting, pressure, and all that other wonderful stuff that comes with the territory.

But for me, the hardest part is actually FINISHING.

I'm great at ideas. Great at starting a project. This is why I have 4 or 5 novels with three or four chapters a piece, two finished novels in various stages of revisions (for the 100th time), two half written non-fiction proposals (one of those accompanying a half written NF book), a barely begun novel in verse, and half a dozen or so picture books.

Christine always tells me I'm spinning. LOL I just have a really hard time sitting down and focusing on one project long enough to finish it. I really don't know why this is. I'll think about my WIP all day long, have tons of ideas I want to implement, scenes shooting through my head that I can't wait to get down...but when I go to actually work on all that, I generally pull up my files and then sit and think....and then check my email....and then peek at Facebook real quick....and then get distracted by my kids or husband or that cute movie on HBO I really wanted to see. Something always comes up.

It's kind of like exercise. I really want to do it. I can visualize the incredible end result if I keep it up. I enjoy it while I'm doing it and feel spectacular when I'm done. It's just getting myself to apply butt to chair and fingers to keys that sometimes evades me.

I think this is why I work so well under a deadline :) I'm literally FORCED to work. I enjoy every second, don't get me wrong. But yeah, I do better with the cattle prod approach :)

My greatest reward? Well, I won't lie - getting a agent and selling my book were pretty awesome rewards. Seeing it on a book shelf will be even more cool, I'm sure. But really, the thing I love more than anything is sending someone something I wrote and having them say, "OMG! I LOVE this! Send me more!" or "I am loving this so much I stayed up until 1am. I couldn't put it down!" or "Hurry up and finish! I can't wait to find out what happens, you're killing me!" or "My professor gave me an A on my paper and said it was the best paper she'd read all year!"

Hands down, nothing beats that. There is nothing more rewarding for me than experiencing the pleasure other people find in reading my work or knowing that I helped someone pass their class or write an awesome paper. Absolutely nothing tops that for me.

How about you? What do you find difficult about being a writer? Anyone out there want to challenge me for the Procrastination Championship? I betcha I'd win :D What do you love about being a writer? What keeps you on this crazy roller coaster?

Don't forget to go back and see what Laura had to say about being a writer and stop by Shaun's tomorrow to see what he both loves and struggles with :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ten Word (plus a few) Tuesday

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. 
— Scott Adams 

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Pot Boileth Over

I was talking to my dad yesterday, jabbering on about how happy I was to have completed another chapter in my new book and he said something along the lines of "I don't get how writers can just sit down and start writing. How do you go from cleaning the house to just sitting down and writing?"

I wasn't sure what to tell him for a second. Because the short answer is - you just do :D I did say that I try to treat writing like a real job. I'm on summer hours now, but once the kids are in school, I'll have a more set schedule of hours that will be exclusively for writing. But that still doesn't answer his question. Because he wanted to know how I could look at the clock, say "time to write" and just sit down and do it. How did I flip the switch mom/wife/whatever else to writer?

After I thought about it longer, I think it's because my stories are always bubbling right below the surface. I don't ever stop thinking of storylines and plot twists and characters and settings and scenes (or new chapters or tips or sections or books for NF). Even when I'm thinking of or doing other things, my projects are still there, just waiting for me to pay attention to them.

I don't ever stop being a writer just because I'm also being a mom, a wife, a pianist, a tutor, a referee, a maid, a nanny, a chef (albeit a bad one), a Sunday School teacher, an editor, a sister, an aunt, a daughter, or a friend. The writer in me never goes away.

So when I sit down to write, no matter what else I've done that day or just finished doing, it doesn't take too much effort to get back into the project at hand. Sometimes it needs a little coaxing, a minute or so while I reorient myself. But generally I find, even if I'm not in the mood to write, if I sit down and just start reading what I've already written, the project comes alive again. I find an error that needs fixing or a new scene or solution presents itself and I get sucked right back in.

It's not so much flipping a switch as taking the cover off a boiling pot. The water is boiling whether I'm paying attention to it or not (p.s. boiling water and I don't get along...mostly because I do have a habit of not paying attention to it) :D

How does it work for you? Can you go from being a "normal" person to writer person at the drop of a hat? Or do you need some time to acclimate?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Funnies

Best Newspaper Headlines of 1998

1. Include Your Children When Baking Cookies
2. Something Went Wrong in Jet crash, Experts Say
3. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
4. Drunks Get Nine Months in Violin Case
5. Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
6. Is There a Ring of Debris Around Uranus?
7. Would-be Women Priests Appeal to Pope
8. Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
9. British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
10. Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
11. Clinton Wins Budget; More Lies Ahead
12. Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
13. Miners Refuse to Work After Death
14. Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
15. Stolen Painting Found By Tree
16. Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years in Checkout Line
17. War Dims Hope for Peace
18. If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
19. Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
20. Man Struck By Lightning Faces Battery Charge
21. New Study of Obesity Looks for Large Test Group
22. Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Space
23. Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
24. Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
25. Typhoon Rips through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thirty Word Thursday

[Near] perfection is achieved, not when there’s nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. 
~ Antoine de Saint Exupery

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WIP Wednesday - Let the Plot Points Flow!

Okay, I know you've heard this from me before...but I think I really did find a way of outlining that I like! I always knew I was a visual person, but I didn't realize just how strong that trait was until recently. I'm sure many of you partook of the awesomeness that was WriteOnCon. I loved each and every minute of it! And I took away a ton of useful information and tips to use in my writing.

The one bit of awesome that inspired my newfound love of outlining was the post on revising by associate editor Kendra Levin. In that post, she had a little flow chart depicting a format for creating an effective plot. (READ HER POST AND SEE THE CHART HERE)

Now, I'd heard this information before, seen it in written form (beginning, two turning points, climax, ending, etc) - and I'd tried to use this in my rough outlining. But for some reason, just having it written down did nothing for me. But plugging my plot points into this chart.....holy moly, let the writing flow! The light bulb went on, the muse put on her party hat and started shaking her booty, I was EXCITED to write and the rest of my story points jumped from my pen onto my fun little chart.

I really should have figured this out earlier - I mean I have always been one of those people that does better looking at the picture than just reading the instructions. But I suppose sometimes you have to fail a few hundred times before you get it right :D

I took the cork board that I had attempted to use  for outlining and I drew the chart form onto the board. It looked like this:

Then, I wrote my plot points onto little notecards and added them to the correct points on the chart. Now it looks like this:

Isn't it pretty!!? And now I have a complete flow chart for my story. It's not heavy duty outlining, but I know where I'm going, when I need to be building tension, and what major points to be aiming for. And suddenly I feel like I can actually finish this story.

It's amazing what a little picture will do for you :)

How about everyone else? Does anyone else use this method, or something similar? Am I the only person out there that has to have a picture to look at before they GET what's going on? :D

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ten Word Tuesday

The point of good writing is knowing when to stop. 
~ Lucy Montgomery

(ha! something I sometimes have trouble with) :D

Monday, August 16, 2010

Finding Time to Write by Jackson Pearce

Jackson's first vlog from 2008 - she talks about finding time to write. I love this girl, she's hilarious :D

Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blog Chain: Wasssup?

For this round of the blog chain, my very sweet and sassy friend, Cole Gibsen, wants to know:

Are you querying? Gearing up to go on submission? Writing? Revising? I'd love to hear what's new with you. And if you'd like to share a snippet of your WIP, even better!

Well, as I predicted a last week, my epic WIP spurt (2 novels, a novel in verse, and everything else I had going on) was impossible to maintain. So, I have narrowed my focus mainly to one novel, a YA historical. I don't want to say too much about it because it's in the very early stages. Bare bones - it's about 3 sisters who find themselves in dire straits and go to extreme measures to better their situation. There's danger, a treasure hunt, a bit of action, a bit of humor (I hope), and of course, as this is me we are talking about, a healthy dose of romance :D

I do also work on the novel in verse from time to time (you can read excerpts of that HERE and HERE), whenever the mood strikes me or if I just want something fun to do. I am writing that one by hand and I enjoy sitting on the couch with my pen and paper and getting all the words I want in the right order. Kind of like doing a crossword puzzle. Good times. :D Oh, and I want to get revisions going on my last novel...but that will probably wait until my kids start back at school and I actually have a nice chunk of time every day to work on all this.

In my non-fiction world, my manuscript is with my editor at the moment, so I am anxiously waiting to hear what she says. I am totally up for revisions on it, but it is nice to have a NF break for a little bit LOL

I have been slowly working on getting proposals ready for my next two non-fiction books as well. One is almost complete, the other is just a page of notes. I tend to work on these when I'm sick of everything else or just plain stuck. Though I do want them finished in the next few months, definitely by the end of the year.

But, for the most part, I am working on the YA historical, and really having fun with it. I'm not quite ready to post anything from it yet though :)

Be sure to check out the fabulous Laura's projects from yesterday and stop by the awesome Shaun's blog to find out what he's up to tomorrow :)

How about everyone else? What are you all up to?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Funnies

Writers have two main problems. One is writer’s block, when the words won’t come at all, and the other is logorrhea, when the words come so fast that they can hardly get to the wastebasket in time. 
~ Cecelia Bartholomeo

Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs. 
~ John Osborne

I can’t write five words but that I change seven.
~ Dorothy Parker

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thirty Word Thursday

What no wife, [husband, partner, friend, or significant other] of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window. 
~Burton Rascoe

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Next Step in the Editing Process

Well, my sweet little manuscript made it to my editor. So, here's what happens next.

I sent the manuscript to my acquisitions editor who in turn gave it to the awesome lady who is my developmental editor. She sent me a very nice email welcoming me to the publishing house and detailed what will happen next. (And I must say, if you ever have a chance to work with Career Press, don't hesitate. They have been AWESOME so far. They keep you in the loop every step of the way and don't mind answering all the stupid questions you send at them) :D

Anyhow, this wonderful lady will be going through my manuscript to make sure I met all my contractual obligations (word count, promised content, etc) and she will be checking on things like my general content, whether or not I obtained any releases or permissions necessary, and that sort of thing.

Then she will send it to a line editor. The line editor will check on all the specifics. Her email outlined things like content, grammar, style, cohesiveness, organization, mechanics, and all that good stuff.

As my book will be released in Jan, it will be heading to the printer in the beginning of December. So anything that needs fixin' will be done between now and then.

So, at the moment, I am anxiously awaiting word from editor 1 before the manuscript goes off to editor 2. Both fun and a little nerve-wracking all at once LOL I'll keep you posted when I hear more!

How is everyone else doing on their projects? Words flowing freely? Queries meeting with requests? Revisions going well?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dreams Undefeated

My mom sent me a inspirational article she'd found somewhere. The final line said:

The truth is, you're not defeated until your doubts and regrets take the place of your dreams.

I'm embroidering this on a pillow somewhere, tattooing it on my forehead, spray painting it on my office wall. Anything necessary to keep this in mind. Why? Because the reality of a writer can be tough. So often our doubts and regrets get in our way. It can be hard to push that send button, to give your manuscript to crit partners, to put it all out there when there is a very good chance it's going to get annihilated.

Are we going to get rejected?  You betcha.

Are we going to have crit partners hand us manuscripts that are so shredded the paper barely holds together?  Yep. Been there, done that, will do it again. Soon (love you guys) ;-D

Are we going to have agent after agent and publisher after publisher say "No thanks, it's not quite good enough?" Oh yeah. Frequently.

Will we have readers and critics hate our books and give us scathing reviews?  Definitely.

Do you have a file full of unfinished manuscripts that you've started and then banished to the dark recesses of your sock drawer?  Probably more than any of us would like to admit :)

Does all of this equal failure, collapse, DEFEAT?

Oh no. It most certainly does not. Why? Because no matter how many times we get knocked down, we get back up. We write more words. We send out more queries. We revise for the thousandth time and then we sit down and revise again. The more we do it, the better we get, the better our chances are of finally succeeding.

We are never out of the game unless we take ourselves out. Only when we are too afraid, too disappointed, or too pessimistic to continue on are we truly defeated. NO ONE can defeat you. Those rejections can't defeat you. Those bleeding red manuscripts aren't defeat. They are opportunities for improvement.

I've heard those who say that no matter how hard you try, you won't make it. The odds are too steep. There's too much competition. The market is too tough. And anyone who tells you otherwise is just being nice or overly optimistic. Well, all of that may be true.

But I know one thing for certain. I definitely won't make it if I stop trying. I was scared stiff to send my non-fiction book out to agents. I didn't have the platform. I had the experience but didn't have the "professional" background. I did it anyway. And I'm watching my dream come true. Someday, I'll see a novel with my name on it on those shelves as well. If it never happens, well, it won't be because I let my doubts get the best of me - because that would be something I'd regret the rest of my life.

The reality is, our chosen path is hard. It's downright brutal.

But the truth is, you're not defeated until your doubts and regrets take the place of your dreams.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Funnies

Half my life is an act of revision. 
~ John Irving

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit. 
~ W. Somerset Maugham

Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial “we.” 
~ Mark Twain

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thirty Word Thursday

The labour of writing and rewriting...is the due exacted by every good book from its author, even if he knows from the 
beginning exactly what he wants to say.
~ G. M. Trevelyan

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WIP Wednesday and a Little Poetry

Well, now that the non-fiction is safely in the hands of my editor, I've been focusing on my fiction life. Apparently, I've been spending too much time on the non-fiction, because once I opened that fiction door, a whole mess of chaos flooded through.

I am currently working on two new novels, one a YA historical and one a YA fantasy (I think...it starts in the past, ends up in the present, but contains some magic, which is usually the deciding factor for me when it comes to paranormal vs fantasy).

I am also revising my last novel, finally. And just for kicks, have been working here and there on a novel in verse (written entirely in sestinas and villanelles). And believe it or not, I'm actually managing to make good progress on all four projects.

I have no doubt about my abilities to keep this up - I'm going to have to focus on just one (maybe two) projects at some point. But for the moment, I'm having a fiction blast.

I thought I'd post one of the sestinas from the verse novel. (A sestina is a 39 line poem that repeats the same six ending words in a particular pattern. You'll notice every line in this poem ends with the words: hands, touch, blood, breathe, his, you - in a specific order. The last three lines each contain two of the six words).

For those of you who have been with me a while, this novel is based on the sestina I posted a long while ago about the group of men who are wolves during the day and men at night. This is a continuation of that story. (Click HERE to read the first poem)


He holds my face so tenderly, in hands
that had just killed. For me. Fingers gently touch
my cheeks. His lips kiss away my tears, my blood.
“Breathe,” his whispers. His lips brush mine. “Just breathe.”
I shudder, my breath escaping at his
command. “For you,” I sigh, “only for you.”

Howls fill the night air. “They can’t find you
with me. Go!” He freezes, his eyes on our hands,
clasped between pounding hearts. The horror on his
face mirrors that on my own. One last touch,
A quick caress. He wavers. “Go,” I breathe.
He steps back, back, raised hand stained with dark blood.

Mine, his, theirs. His pained howl rips through my blood,
burning his image on my soul. “For you,”
I whisper again, unwilling to breathe,
unable to stop. They’ll come for me, hands
grasping, to return me to our master’s hands.
“Go!” I plead. One last look and he runs, his

tortured fury echoing through me, his
pain my own. They come, see me bathed in blood.
“Who did this?” they ask. I shrink from their touch.
Gently they lift me, murmuring “Let us help you.”
I swallow my protests, settle into their furred hands.
They don’t suspect. He’s gone…and I can’t breathe.

They carry me through dark forests. I breathe,
praying they are distracted and miss his
scent on me. We reach the entrance. Their hands
quickly roll aside the stone door. My blood
drips, drips to the floor. “What happened to you?”
they ask again. I wince with every touch.

I bite my lip, wanting only his touch.
Cleaned up, many wounds left open to breathe,
they wait for answers. “Who did this to you?”
Impatiently now. Then they turn and his
face comes into view, already healed, blood
gone. “Jarek,” they say, bowing. Jaw clenched, hands

fisted, hands aching like mine for one touch.
“Who spills your blood?” he growls. I don’t dare breathe.
Face cold, closed, his anger burns. I say, “You.”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Everything I Need to Know About Writing I Learned From My Six Year Old

It’s amazing what you can learn from watching a child. As I watched my children play the other day, I started to realize that even though they are young and are just starting out on life’s journey, they already have what it takes to make it through almost anything they’ll come up against. And when it comes to writing and the whole publishing journey, I would do well to take a page from their book.

1. Just because you haven’t crossed the finish line doesn’t mean you don’t know how to get there.

My kids were racing on their bikes. They picked a starting point, and they picked the finish line. On your mark, get set, GO! They were off. Now, they are just learning how to ride a bike, so getting to that finish line took a while. But they knew how to get there. They just had to work at it.

I’ve sort of made it to the finish line in the NF world. But fiction is my real passion. And I can’t even see the finish line in the fiction world just yet. But I know how to get there. I know how to write. Sure, there’s a lot of things about crafting a story I still need to learn. I don’t think I’ll ever know everything there is to know. But in general, yeah, I know what I need to do. I know I need to write and revise, and revise again, and query, and query some more. I know what I need to do and how to do it, and even though I haven’t yet plowed through the ribbon at the end of my race, I still know exactly what I need to do to get there. I just have to keep focused on my goal and do it.

2. Get up every time you fall down.

My kids fall down…a lot. But they always get back up. Sometimes they are broken or bloody, and they usually need a big hug and kiss from Mom, and occasionally an ER visit, but they always get back up. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the publishing world, you are going to fall and get knocked down…a lot. Some of those critiques or rejections you’ll receive are going to sting like nothing you’ve ever felt before. And having someone (or a group of someones) to run to for comfort when it gets really bad makes the boo-boos sting just a bit less. But you’ll never achieve your goal if you stay on the ground and cry. You gotta get back up and try again.

3. Be a good sport

My kids were playing a Wii game the other day when the miracles of all miracles happened – my four year old daughter beat my six year old son. Now, he could have yelled and cried and thrown down his paddle and quit (as my daughter will often do when she loses). But he didn’t. He was disappointed, sure. And for a second, I didn’t know how he’d react. But then he smiled and screamed “Woohoo! Nanas won!” and laughed and gave her a high-five. (Nana is her nickname, by the way :) I like eccentric names, but I’m not that mean) :)

You aren’t going to win every game you play. You aren’t going to cross the finish line first every time. And it’s okay to be disappointed when someone else gets there before you do. But you’ve gotta be a good sport about it. It would be easy to get bitter and angry in the midst of a pile of rejections, especially when others are flying over their finish line miles ahead of you. But what good will that do you? This is a tough, tough game. Being a bad sport about it just makes it that much harder. It’s okay to be disappointed, but don’t let that disappointment ruin the game for you or anyone else. If you can’t play nice, don’t play at all.

4. If you want dessert, you have to eat dinner first.

My son has a short attention span when it comes to dinner. He wants to get in, get it done, and get to the good stuff. Which means he often takes two bites of dinner and starts asking for dessert. As much as I’d like to chuck my dinner and dive into the chocolate cake with him, that’s not very good for either of us. We need to eat the dinner first. Then we can get our reward.

When it comes to writing, it’s easy to focus on the “good” stuff – getting an agent or publisher, seeing that book on the shelves, attending signings and release parties. Sometimes we get so focused on the “dessert” that we try to skip dinner – ignore vital lessons every writer should know because they take too long to learn and execute well; fly through revisions and call them done because we are so anxious to query and get that agent; skip over that plot hole because fixing it would open a whole can of worms we don’t want to take the time to deal with; sending something out that just isn’t ready because we are too excited and anxious to wait any longer.

But that isn’t the way to grow a strong, healthy writer, any more than it is to grow a strong, healthy child. You have to eat your dinner first – gotta ingest the stuff that’s going to help you grow in your profession, before you can enjoy your reward. Dangit ;-)

What have you learned in your journeys? Ever learn something from an unexpected source?