Thursday, November 27, 2014

New Location!

Hey guys, sorry it took me so long to post this, but my blog now has a new location. I will no longer be posting to this website. Instead, all updates will continue at

I have my very own website! How cool is that? I figured, since I'm going out on my own as a freelance writer full time now, I would need a more official address on the internet so I had some awesome friends of mine set up that website for me. Once that was done, it just made sense to start putting my blog up there. As soon I start actually publishing those novels I've been working on, you'll be able to get updates on those from that website and even buy them!

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Anti 9-to-5 Guide

Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube

by Michelle Goodman

I am so done with my day job. I feel pretty safe saying that here for a few reasons. 1) I'm pretty sure no one at work reads this blog. 2) I doubt they would fire me during holiday season. 3) I'm going to quit anyway, so who cares if I get fired? I have decided that I will work through the holiday season and then start off the new year on the unemployment line! I mean self-employment line!

Without getting into the details of my day job, I do want to say that it's really not that bad. I've certainly had worse. It's just the commute that I hate, and there are so many other things I want to do with my time that twiddling my thumbs while waiting for the phone to ring at work just is not cutting it for me right now.

So I read this book hoping it would give me some tips on what to do after I turn in my notice. Turns out, not a whole lot. Goodman quit her day job without even really knowing what she wanted to do (done) or getting any kind of client base (done) or even saving a little money (not quite done, but I have come up with a  budget and ways to minimize expenses), so I'm already a few steps ahead of where she was.

That said, I still highly recommend this book. If nothing else, it's very amusing, as well as informational. Goodman has a great sense of humor and a conversational style that kept me reading. She also has a ton of information on how to go about quitting your job regardless of what you want to do. Thinking of starting a non-profit? This book has some excellent resources to help you get started. What if you still want a day job, you just don't want an office job? Or you want to work from home? This book still has you covered.

Goodman knew that her path to self-employment was not the only one, so she interviewed entrepreneurial women working in all sorts of fields and included their words of wisdom in this book. The result is a wealth of information that Goodman sprinkles throughout the book, rather than leaving it compacted in one interview section. Each chapter contains quotes and advice from women doing whatever you want to do, and I think Goodman did a pretty good job of covering all her bases. From self-employment, to volunteering, to working travel into your budget and schedule, to just spending more time doing what you love. She has advice on how to go about easing yourself out of the 9-to-5 lifestyle and into the kind of life you want.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to change up their work schedule. It left me more knowledgeable about what I'm about to do, more confident, and entertained me the whole way through.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Paper Towns

by John Green

I was kind of disappointed in this one. Until now, the only book I had read by John Green was The Fault in Our Stars and I kind of lost my shit over that book. I still have yet to see that movie, although I really want to. So when I heard that Paper Towns was going to be the next John Green book to be made into a film, I immediately put it at the top of my to-read list.

It was only OK. I can't say I loved it or hated it. Just that it contains more of the teenage whining than I can really handle. The Fault in Our Stars had a surprising lack of whining, despite the fact that it was about kids dying of cancer who totally have the right to whine their hearts out.

In Paper Towns, the whining might be warranted, but I'm less sure as to why. This girl (Margot) runs away from home (not for the first time) right before she's about to graduate from high school. The main character (Quentin) has always had a huge crush on Margot, even though they haven't hung out since grade school. So while he's trying to find Margot after she disappears, Quentin spends a lot of time wondering if he ever really knew her.

It's a valid question. How many of you have fallen in love with someone, only to realize that they are not at all the person you thought they were? Did they change, or had you been assuming they were what you wanted them to be? There's a lot to be said for the fact that they way we treat people is based on our perceptions of them, rather than how they really are, and I'm sure that goes double for self-centered teenagers. It's also why we tend to act differently around different people. Our friends expect us to behave differently from our parents, whose expectations are different from our teachers/boss.

So Quentin spends a lot of time learning about himself and other people and poetry. And whining. Because Margot has run off before and has been known to be a bit of an attention whore, everyone else pretty much goes back to resuming their regularly scheduled end of senior year. This upsets Quentin because he thinks everyone should care as much he does about his idealized Margot, even though you could probably argue that they know her better than he does by not worrying about her. If she wants to come back, she'll come back. If not, she can take care of herself.

I won't ruin the ending for you, but I will tell you that I'm not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I kind of liked it. It was pretty romantic, but it was also unsatisfying. I think it was meant to be unsatisfying, but that doesn't make me feel any better about it. All I can say is that Quentin probably did more growing as a character in the four weeks that we see him than he did in the rest of his high school career.

Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Reasons (Not) To Do National Novel Writing Month

Last year was my first adventure with National Novel Writing Month after rejecting it the year before. I'm glad I participated once, but I don't think I'll ever do it again. With that in mind, here are five reasons to do NaNoWriMo and five reasons not to.

5 Reasons To Do NaNoWriMo

1) It's a good exercise, especially if you're in a rut. I lucked out last year in that I hadn't written anything new for awhile, so I got to rediscover the joy of creating a new world and new characters. I blew through the first few ten thousand words before I started to get stuck and slowed down.

2) It teaches you time management.  Are you one of those people who needs two hours set aside to sit down and just focus on you're writing in order to get anything done? No, you're not. You may think you are (I used to think I was), but the pressure of NaNoWriMo teaches you to take advantage of all the little bits of time you have in the morning before work, after work, between dinner and bed time. You really can write whenever, wherever and NaNoWriMo is great for making you aware of that fact.

3) Community. This is the one time of year when thousands of writers are going through the same thing. Look on any writing forum and you'll see columns of posts of people who are doing just what you are. There is no better way to get tips than from forums like these, especially when you're all going through the same thing. Just don't use them as an excuse to kill time when you should be writing!

4) You might actually get a novel out of it. I already had the rough draft of my 1st novel done before I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, and I didn't actually finish the rough draft of my 2nd novel during the challenge (though I did write 50,000 words in one month, so I still call that a victory), but there are plenty of people who do NaNoWriMo without having actually finished a novel. For some people, the pressure of the deadline is just what they need to motivate them to finish that manuscript. So if you've always wanted to write a novel, but haven't gotten around to it yet, you might want to try this challenge.

5) Bragging rights. You just wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. How many of your friends/family members can say that?

5 Reasons Not To Do NaNoWriMo

1) Word count is stupid. Yes, it's great to say that you wrote 50,000 words in one month, but how many of those words are you going to end up deleting when you go back to edit? 50,000 is the bare minimum length for a novel, and if you're going to try to get it traditionally published, most editors won't even look at anything shorter than 80,000. Although having a rough draft done is a huge accomplishment, the fact is that's just the first step. You still have a lot of editing to do before you can send it out into the world, and if you spent a month filling your manuscript with extraneous words so you could meet your word quota for the day, you'll have that much more work to do as an editor.

2) Poor writing/life balance. I don't think I actually turned down any social engagements when I did NaNoWriMo last year, but I did spend a lot of time writing at my parents' house. This was mostly to get free food, but also because I love spending time with them. But how much can I really say I was spending time with them when I was telling them to be quiet so I could write? It's excellent to have an exercise that teaches you to take advantage of all the moments in the day you have to write, but not at the expense of your relationships.

3) Stress. It's very stressful to spend every waking minute either writing, or wondering when your next chance to write will be, and I'm not a fan of stress. When I started last year, I told myself it was on the condition that I would not stress out over it. I did not live up to that promise. Admittedly, there were other factors in addition to the writing challenge, but as that deadline drew closer and my writing block got worse, I freaked. My family can attest to how much not fun I was to be around in those last few days. Stress is a killer and I try to avoid it at all costs, including things that can be fun for a little while.

4) It's better to do it right the first time. No first draft gets published (with the exception of some ill-advised self-published novels). Everyone needs to edit their manuscript, at least a few times, before printing, even if you used an outline. The time constraint of NaNoWriMo does not promote good writing. It promotes fast writing, and I have always been a fan of quality over quantity. You may be able to write more than other people, but how is that going to help you if your writing is so bad no one wants to read it? If you do take the time to edit your manuscript to correct all the mistakes you made in those 30 days, how much of that time could you have spared yourself by taking the time write well in the first place?

5) Thanksgiving. I have never understood why NaNoWriMo has to take place, immediately after a big holiday, during one of the biggest holidays of the year (let's not forget the busiest travel day of the year), and right before THE biggest holiday of the year. I don't think a sugar coma is the best state to write in, nor do I want to be distracted by the knowledge that I have shopping to do, when all I want is to focus on my writing. Also, some of us (by which I mean me) tend to spend a week baking in preparation for Turkey Day. Can't we just reschedule NaNoWriMo for a better month? Like June? How about January, to coincide with all those New Year's Resolutions?

So that's my take on this particular challenge. Here are the pros and cons as I see them. Feel free to do with them what you will and make your own decision.

Monday, October 20, 2014


by Rainbow Rowell

I'm now almost all caught up on the Rainbow Rowell books. I just have Landline to go before she comes out with another one.

I read Eleanor & Park first and that was so adorable that it was really hard to live up to the level of expectation that it set. Then I read Fangirl, which was pretty great, but not as great as Eleanor & Park. Now I've just finished reading Attachments and it's my least favorite of the three, and I think that may be entirely because of the ending.

I really enjoyed most of the book. It's about a guy who is hired by a newspaper to read the emails that get flagged by the security system and send a warning to whoever sent the message. He starts reading the emails that two women (Beth and Jennifer) send back and forth. He never brings himself to send them a warning, and once he realizes that he's never going to send them a warning, he knows he should stop reading their emails, what with the invasion of privacy and all.

But he can't, and I can totally understand that. He gets wrapped up in the communication between these two best friends and I don't think it's any wonder that he was unable to make himself stop reading. To be clear, he only read the emails that were flagged by the security system. He had access to all of their emails, but he did have the decency not to cross that line. It may be a minor distinction, but personally, I think it's a pretty important one.

So the main character (Lincoln) starts to fall in love with one of the women (Beth) by reading their correspondence. There are two problems with this: 1) Beth has a live-in boyfriend, and 2) how do you explain to someone that you want to date them because you've secretly been reading their personal emails?

It's a pretty tricky situation, and although, like I said, I can totally believe that Lincoln got himself in that mess without actually being a super creepy cyber stalker, I'm still not entirely sure that Beth would be able to just get over it and start making out with him in a movie theater.

That's not to say that Rowell let them off easy. They had to talk it through and admit that it was pretty weird, but I would have expected Beth to need at least a little more convincing. How do you approach a guy you barely know who knows all about your personal life, like your last break-up?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Last Olympian

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5

by Rick Riordan

This is my favorite of the Percy Jackson books. It's mostly fighting and only minimal amounts of Percy being a dumb teenage boy. I recognize that, when your protagonist is a teenager, there are going to have to be some things that they don't understand, even though they're painfully obvious to the rest of us. This is a large part of the reason that I'm kind of having a hard time with YA right now. I can't stand all of the "Why is that person being nice to me?" "Why can't I stop thinking about so-and-so?" "What if I die a virgin?"

OK, so that last one isn't usually included in YA books (explicitly, but it is a valid concern for most of them). The point is that I spent enough time living in a whiny, confused teenager's head, and I really have no desire to go back.

I think Harry Potter did this well because we weren't actually inside his head. It was told from third person limited, rather than first person, so we got that Harry was confused about girls and stuff without having to hear all of the "But, whyyyyyyyyy?"

Riordan also needs to seriously stop using anything other than he said/she said. There was a time when I thought I would never write that, but here I am: a convert. Everyone's asking and insisting and arguing are so painfully obvious that there really is no need spell it all out for the reader. While I'm on the topic, Riordan's dialogue is pretty weak. Most of the time it feels very forced and stunted, often like he's trying too hard to be funny or poignant or whatever, when he needs to just let the moment be what it is. I realize he's writing for a younger crowd, but still, give them some credit.

OK, now that that's out of the way, I can talk about what I liked about this book. Mostly, the battles. I had so much fun watching New York get torn to shreds - again. That poor city gets so much abuse in our media. The gods are as snarky as ever, and I love them for it. I liked the idea of Demeter as the annoying mother-in-law, but I wish Persephone could say something other than "Mother!" Once is funny. Twice is pushing it. Three is beating the dead horse with a stick. She said it at least four times.

I'm still not sure how I feel about the fulfillment of the prophecy. Obviously, I knew that Percy couldn't die, being the narrator and all, although other YA books have been known to kill off their main characters, so I guess that didn't necessarily mean he was safe. It's just that Riordan spent five books building up to this moment, and in the end it passed without Percy (or the reader) even being aware of it.

I think that part of the anti-climactic feeling comes from the fact that the reader always knew that Percy was going to choose the side of the Olympians, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, it made it easier for the reader to know who to root for, even when the gods weren't at their best. On the other hand, I think it would have been more interesting to watch Percy struggle with that decision more and leave the reader guessing.

Then again, this is YA fiction, and black-and-white good and evil sides are kind of par for the course.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Create Your Writer Platform

The Key to Building an Audience, Selling More Books, and Finding Success as an Author

by Chuck Sambuchino

The title of this book is pretty self-explanatory. Every writer these days needs this thing called a "platform": a way for your readers to find you. Or, depending on how you look at it, a way for you to find your readers. There are so many books coming out every day now that, in order to sell anything, you need a way to differentiate yourself from all of the other writers out there. If you simply publish a book and post about it on Twitter and Facebook, you're essentially shouting into a room that's already full of screaming people.

You have to give people a reason to buy your book, and one of the most effective ways to do that is to build a platform, a.k.a. a brand for your writing. Get known in the world of writing (or whatever it is you write about) and let people know what they can expect from you. What kind of writing? What kind of topics? What is your take on these topics? Why should people read what you write?

This book touches on a lot of the basics of building a platform. Namely, that you have to provide value to your audience and you have to provide that value consistently. Sambuchino also stresses the importance of getting speaking gigs, but much like How to Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, I think this book was mostly focused on non-fiction writers. This is largely because Sambuchino has been writing and publishing mostly non-fiction books, but fiction and non-fiction are two very different animals. I have been sufficiently convinced though, that there are speaking opportunities for fiction authors as well, and those should definitely be taken advantage of.

Speaking of providing value, this book has one thing that I love that I have not come across anywhere else: a whole section of interviews with 12 different authors on how they built and maintained their platforms. This was excellent because otherwise, as Sambuchino points out, he can only provide his experience with platform and publishing and there are many routes one can take. Personally, I very much appreciated the fact that there were two fiction authors included in this section. It was great to see what they did differently from the non-fiction authors, as well as the things that seem to be universal.

Now all I need is to figure out how to write a blog that people will actually want to read. Any ideas?