Monday, November 30, 2015

Announcing... The End - and The Beginning.

It's over. No begging for one more day.

NaNoWriMo 2015 is history.

Didn't finish your manuscript?

Didn't make the 50,000 word count?

Vowing to never do NaNoWriMo again because you feel like a failure?

But... what about all your accomplishments?

Yes, you've achieved something.

You made a commitment to write.
You wrote words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters.
You created characters and scenes.
You looked at your work with a critical eye as you wrote and mentally made notes what needed to be revised, re-written, or removed.
You talked with others, exchanging information or tips or encouragement.
You were part of a large community which stretched beyond your writing space- across your town, state, nation, continent.
You're burning to finish your book.

That's quite a list of accomplishments. Stand up straight and proud, and let your voice be strong when you talk about all of these.

Now it's time to Begin. Whether you've finished your book or still have to wrap it up, you need one more thing:


You, me, Stephen King, James Patterson, JK Rowling- we all need to smooth and polish and sharpen our work. No one gets away from doing it.

So in February (yes, I know it's a short month) we're all going to do #NaNoRevMo (National Novel Writing Revision Month). I have manuscripts to revise, and by February all the holidays are behind us. You have all of January to finish your work. Since you've whittled down the 50,000 by whatever word count you have, you can finish it without the frantic pressure. But use the routine you had (or maybe should have had...) during #NaNoWriMo should help to keep you going until you type The End.

While you're finishing up or taking a break, I will post revision tips from authors, editors, agents. Some posts may be a repeat of what you've seen. Don't even look at them until your novel is finished. Then, we'll all starting revising on February 1st. It should take you less time to do this initial revision than it took to write your novel. Hopefully you won't have to scrap and rewrite large chunks, but if you do, that's okay! There are no prizes for finishing by February 28th so don't fret. The goal is to revise- not to make yourself so frustrated that you quit.

Let's do this.

And when we're done, we'll chat about our experiences and share our accomplishments.

Till then,


Monday, November 23, 2015

In Support of Thanksgiving...

It's the new thing- bash everything, everyone. Every holiday. Every person's opinion. Even the facts. Sometimes I feel that people are so miserable and scared (maybe selfish) that they won't be happy unless they make others unhappy. Take the whipping of Thanksgiving.

Okay, we know the Thanksgiving story we've been told is the Hollywood/Disney version: forget or hide the bad stuff, show only the shiny parts. We all know the Native Americans were treated atrociously, that they suffered at the hands of the European settlers (so remember that, Europeans, when you bash us- you had a hand in the atrocities). But it's not all death and horror like some would have you believe.

Here's the true history of Thanksgiving ( ) So put aside your preconceived, misguided or political notions for the truth. I'm going boil it down to generalities:

In his journal, Edward Winslow wrote in the fall of 1621 that: "...many Indians coming amongst us...their King Massasoit with 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted." Besides the feasting, there were games of skill between the men. The Native Americans returned the favor, bringing five deer for the feast.

The custom of celebrating the harvest, which was popular across cultures and nations in Europe for centuries, was neglected for many years--the horrific intervening wars with the Indians taking its toll on that population.

In 1777, the Continental Congress declared a National Day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the colonial victories at Saratoga, and although it did not become a law, various states and towns celebrated a harvest festival. In 1789, President George Washington also called for a national day of Thanksgiving, but it was not a federal holiday.

In the mid 19th century, Sara Josepha Hale, a magazine editor (and author of Mary Had a Little Lamb) started a 30 year letter writing campaign to have a national day of Thanksgiving recognized when the United States balanced on the edge of civil war. In her magazine, she published recipes for pumpkin pie, turkey, and stuffing.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln decreed, after the Battle of Gettysburg, that the fourth Thursday in November would henceforth be a national and federal holiday to give thanks.

The parade and football traditions arrived in 1924.

It's not all massacres and death (although tragically, that happened in the years following the first feast and continued for so long).

Maybe instead of trashing the holiday completely, how about we focus on the friendship, generosity, goodwill, cooperation, and thankfulness that was present in 1621. Let's be grateful for bounty- and share it more generously than we have with those who want. Let's be grateful for our freedoms and strive to give others the same, and thank those who help us keep it. Let's be grateful for the time we're given and spend it more wisely, more compassionately, more in forgiving. Let's be grateful for family, friends and loved ones. Let's all sit down at the table of humanity and earn the title of  'human.'

Being thankful will make us all happy.

Wishing you a bountiful, happy, sharing, Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

And Introducing....

While the amount of writers may seem large, it is a small community. You get to know people as you work your craft over the years. Marlo and I were in a critique group together, meeting at Barnes and Noble. And when one of us achieves a milestone- getting published, getting a book deal, getting an award--we like to help spread the good news. I'm completely delighted to share the news of her debut!

It’s release day for THE GHOST CHRONICLES! 

Michael Andrews had everything; a loving family, a great girlfriend, and a promising basketball career. That was before the accident that took his life. Now, he’s a ghost, wandering among the living, struggling to understand why he’s stuck. All he wants is to move on. Until he meets Sarah, a young girl who died just as tragically as he. But falling in love and binding oneself to another soul is forbidden, for it may keep one or both of the souls bound to earth for longer than they should be. Each time they touch they can feel the boundaries of their energies slipping perilously into one another. Demons pursue Michael-he's become a marked soul, one the Devil earnestly wants although Michael has no idea why... 

Marlo is doing a giveaway, so go to: and enter today!


Monday, November 9, 2015

Don't Wait For Me!

Yes, I missed a post last Monday. Parents moved and needed help unpacking, getting settled. Had two presentations to give (one for NaNoWriMo, one for NJ Soc of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). Held hostage by electricians coming and going fixing stuff. (You just sit down to work and they need to ask you a question...)

Did you hold off on writing because you waited for my post to inspire and motivate you?

Don't Wait For Me!

Don't wait for anyone. Or anything. Grab your writing time when you can. Yes, I could have made better use of my time on several occasions. And I'm sure you could have also. There are no acceptable excuses for not working to fulfill YOUR dream of writing that novel.

All is not lost; we're not even to the halfway point in days. (You should be around 20,000 words). If you aren't, you have time to make it up. Use it wisely. Be a miser when it comes to your time; anything that demands your attention must be worthy: family, friends, job, emergencies and WRITING.

I leave you now to finish this blog post, write another, do some more of my NaNoRevMo, and other writing chores.

Stay strong! Stay focused! Stay positive! Stay determined! Stay in the running!

Stay good to yourself.


Monday, October 26, 2015

5 Tips to NaNo Success

From last week's post, I've convinced you to do the National Novel Writing Month challenge- 1,667 words a day for a whole month. (Or, you already knew you were going to do it, but wanted confirmation. You got it.)

Now before you go boasting about your intentions, shut up and take the following 5 steps to help guarantee that success.
  • Go into battle with a plan. One does not simply sit down to write the Great Novel. Know how your story starts, one or more incidents in the middle, and one incident toward the end. Beginnings, middles, and endings may change (that's called changing your mind or revisions) but for now you need solid starting points.
  • Get over it and get going. If you don't make your word count one day, don't quit. Write as much as you can. Some days it's a struggle, but that doesn't mean the challenge is over and that you've failed. You may have a day where all you do is write as fast as you can and you make up for the shortage. Even if you don't, keep going. There are no NaNo police. The purpose of NaNo is to create a writing routine, to build your confidence, to work through a bump in the writing road.
  • Go ahead, cheat. Before November 1st, write notes, character sketches, outlines. You can do this before you start or even during the challenge. Maybe you're having a tough time figuring out a scene. By writing a character sketch, you become more intimate with your character's flaws and talents. And it's writing, so if you do this during the challenge, that's writing and it counts. (Do you really think you're going to keep every word you've written once you start revising? *laughs like crazy.)
  • Hook up. Looking for someone special? Someone who shares your secret desire...? Sign up at the official NaNoWriMo site and connect with others. You'll get support, advice, friendship and opportunities to meet with others. This doesn't have to be a lonely endeavor (save that for the revision process). I'll make it easy for you, here's the link: NaNoWriMo
  • Learn a lesson! About your writing, your routine, your weaknesses, your strengths. You have to be honest with yourself- you hate teen angst, so why are you writing a Young Adult novel? Research is so not you, so don't start a crime drama. You have a flair for romantic comedy. Go with it! You have a full time job--but you can squeeze in a couple of hundred words while the kid is at soccer practice, the baby sleeps, or at 5 am (no one said writing was easy). Learn what works best for you.
Those are my five tips for before you start. If you're still unsure, there are 'write-ins' where you gather with others to do some fast and furious writing, encourage each other, maybe help suggest fixes for plots that stall. And if that isn't enough, I'll be giving a free workshop at the Somerset County Library on Vogt Lane in Bridgewater, NJ on Wednesday, Nov 4th from 6:30 to 8:30. Just click here: NJ SCBWI NaNo Event for info. (Although I'm presenting as a member of the NJ Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, you don't have to write for kids/teens. If you want to write for adults, this presentation works just as well.)

Good writing, and good luck!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

5 Reasons To Do NaNoWriMo

It's called National Novel Writing Month and it happens in November. (I know, crazy month- right in the middle of Halloween and Thanksgiving, right before Christmas. I think January would have been better...)

Participants write approximately 1,666 words every day in November for a total of 50,000, producing a rough drafted novel by the 30th.

Yes, it's hell on some days. You struggle to move forward after that initial burst of creativity and energy--but it's doable. Here's why you should do it:

1. You have this great idea and it's in your head, affecting your sleep. You're always thinking about it, developing plot twists as you try to sleep, killing off characters as you eat, revising the ending as you tune out people talking around you. You need to exorcise this book idea.

2. You're under a deadline. Maybe it's one from your editor/agent for a follow-up book. Maybe you're going away for a vacation right after the holidays and know you won't get any work done for a while. Or maybe you have a work/school/family thing that is going to put a kink in your writing schedule. Get the novel written during NaNoWriMo and breathe easy.

3.  You want to realize that dream of having written a book. (You do know this will be a rough draft and you shouldn't book your tickets to LA for the screening of your book-made-into-a-movie just yet, right?) So many people say "I always wanted to write a book when I had the time/when I retired/when my children were in school..." etc. Now you have a month to do it. Stop yammering and dreaming and Just. Do. It.

4. You want to join the club. Several well known authors have books that came from NaNoWriMo. (Some of us less well-known authors have books from NaNoWriMo that we're still working on: revising, trying to sell, etc.) In common, we cover every genre. Along the way, these authors share tips and encouragement. Beth Revis (among many) sending you encouragement! Plus, when you're done, you get a cool certificate.

5. So many people will be doing it and social media may be a bit dull while we're all busy writing. Don't miss the fun, the camaraderie, the gathering of writing tips, and the sense of achievement to share with others on this journey.

Next, I'll share some tips I've learned and collected to help those who are contemplating this bold initiative. Stay tuned, and start thinking about that book!


Monday, October 12, 2015

A Sight to Behold...

Glistening dewdrops on a spider's web.

The filaments in a cat's eye.

Geometric striations of ice crystals on a frozen puddle.

The subtle shades of colors when sun shines on a head of hair.

Rainbows swirling in oil on water.

The second sense, sight- is more than seeing a red jacket.

 If I tell you a red woolen jacket, in your mind can you see the fuzzies of the wool? Nothing is absolute; even in total darkness, our eyes can be fooled into seeing the barest bit of light...or is it our memory or imagination working? Rarely is anything a solid color because light bends and refracts and reflects.

So look closely. See stitches and edges and veins and all the 'imperfections' that reveal a complex world.

See you soon...