• All,  Life,  Writing

    fighting fear in 2019

    Yep, we made it people. Another year. 2019 is creeping right up on us and I’m still stuck somewhere in August. If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking ahead at the next step, the next move, the next couple of squares in the calendar. I like to know what to expect of my days and try to fill them with as much productivity as possible. Real, true, get-er-done work. As I’ve learned, winning is an intentional act, and it all starts with setting your sights on a goal. In 2018 I hit a few of mine. I finished a first draft (and nearly a second) of the novel I hope…

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  • All,  Characters,  Writing

    top 5 reads of 2018

    This year, I joined the 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge by pledging to read 40 books. Sadly, I didn’t reach my goal (not even close — I’m a terribly slow reader), but I did read more than I ever have in a year and I read some pretty fine fiction, including many books that have sat on my To-Be-Read list for years. For a complete rundown of my reading year, you can check out the list on my Current Reads page. But for now, here are my top five favorites of 2018. 1. 1984 // George Orwell This one will probably stick with me for a long time. Admittedly, I am…

  • All,  Reading

    a bookish gift guide

    Gifting for the readers and writers on your list may be easy, but if you’re looking to give something other than their favorite author’s latest or the next title on their To-Be-Read list, here are a few unique suggestions for your literature-loving friends and family members. Beautiful Book Sets With #bookstagram all the rage these days, beautiful, artistic book covers are essential to creating that #bookblogger Instagram aesthetic. If you’re looking to spoil the bookworms on your list, consider gifting them one of these gorgeous book sets. Juniper Books – $$$-$$$$ Few companies do book sets quite as well as Juniper books, but their sets can be on the pricier side. Some…

  • All,  Lesson Learned,  Life,  Writing

    five lessons from failed drafts

    Raise your hand if you hate failing!!!!!!!!!! I’m raising both of mine and I bet you are too. But it’s inevitable as you’ll hear over and over, most especially when it comes to creative endeavors. If you’re anything like me, you have dozens of failed drafts stowed and locked in some closet of your home you never visit (because don’t throw anything out period), and when you think of all the dreadful writing filling those drafts you shudder with embarrassment and shame. Let’s not talk about those. Oh, I’m going to. You should some time too. At least with yourself, because you might actually have a lot to learn from those great…

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  • All,  Editing,  Tools and Tips,  Writing

    a strengths-based approach to editing

    Like most writers, editing is not my favorite part of the job. The work is never-ending and slow-going; the words and moments begin to lose their magic; and I never quite feel like I’m producing something the way I do when I’m drafting. The worst part this go around, however, has been the crippling self-doubt that has followed all my picking and probing and persistent criticism. I’ve encountered this before in editing, and with shorter projects the self-doubt is usually short-lived, but with this novel it seems only to get worse every day as the editing end seems nowhere in sight. Will I finish this book?  Is it good enough?  Is…

  • All,  Setting,  Writing

    a bit about setting

    As I’m neck-deep in editing lately, I’ve discovered one of my greatest weaknesses as a writer is creating any sense of setting. I really like action, momentum, consequences, and tend to focus on these aspects of the story because I’m confident in my ability to properly convey them. But setting? Not so much. I leave readers with the impression that everything is happening on a two-dimensional plane, and while the action is captivating, there’s nothing to give the reader her bearings or set the tone for the scenes or the story as a whole. With all these problems, I’ve decided to focus this week’s edits on the setting of my…

  • All,  Life,  Tools and Tips,  Writing

    setting up a writer’s notebook

    You may have noticed by now that I’m planner and that I love to keep things neat and tidy, even in my writing world. While total structure is out of the question when it comes to creative writing, I’ve been able to keep a sliver of organization by using writing notebooks. Like most writers, I’ve always kept a notebook handy to log thoughts and inspiration, conversations and revisions (and by notebook, I mean anything to write on — slips of paper, notecards, paper napkins, the back of your hand). I’m of the notion that notetaking and freewriting, writing without the pressure of the craft, are essential to healthy creativity, and…

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  • All,  Characters,  Tools and Tips,  Writing

    mbti for richer characters

    Annnnnnd we’re back with characters. What can I say? Creating deep and interesting characters is one of my favorite parts of starting a new writing project and is one of the most important parts of forming a flavorful plot. Usually, an idea for a character is what sends me flying to my computer for a five-hour writing binge at two in the morning (okay, I exaggerate, but that’s how it feels). I have this lively person in my head with a bright and loud voice and I just need to get down some of the things he’s telling me. From there, some semblance of a story follows, especially when I…

  • All,  Lesson Learned,  Life,  Writing

    making time to write

    This time of year I usually find myself limping through the weeks like it’s a three-month-long hell week from college. When life gets busy like this, my writing tends to suffer the most; daily writing goals go unmet and my typical schedule flies out the window for the holidays and anniversaries and sudden emergencies this season brings. But if that kind of busyness is your everyday, 365-days-a-year reality, if you wake up most days wanting to write only to arrive at the end of them not having written one word, I want to help you make time for writing in your busy schedule. Before I committed to publishing a novel,…

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  • All,  Editing,  Writing

    what to do when you finish a draft

    So, you’ve finished the first draft of your novel. It’s wonderful and perfect and you feel just dewy about it, right? Right? More than likely, your first draft is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad manuscript, and at this point you may be doubting your ability even to write your name. But fear not: you’ve just finished, in Anne Lamott’s words, a shitty first draft, and that’s something to be proud of, plot holes and typos and question marks and all. Once you’ve gotten over your existential crisis and self-loathing, however, you may be hit with a tidal wave of fear as you encounter the prospect of combing through…

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