Saturday, December 30, 2006

At this time of year, New Year's resolution blogs abound. Endless lists of things people vow to do over the coming year can be found at every turn. I confess that there is something quite compelling about examining the corners of one's life as the calendar comes to its final page. Perhaps it is mere habit, or the need to keep up with the Joneses--who, after all, are busy resolving to lose weight and take that vacation they've talked about for years. Either way, come New Year's one is hard pressed not to take stock of the three hundred days behind--and ahead.

Last year I blogged about my NON-resolution for 2006, and that is where my mind drifts when running a mental abacus of how the year went. What's a non-resolution? For those not inclined to read the blog in question to find out (which, I suspect, represents most), I resolved to NOT do anything.

To that end, 2006 was a wild and smashing success. As suspected, it was easier to do nothing about resolutions than to do something. Thus, I did not bother with any fad diets (and still gained and lost the same ten pounds three times over), I was not too busy to stop and play with my toddler, and was partly successful in not worrying over things I have no control over anyway. The only hiccup on my non-resolution list: the promise not to get angry when cut off on the highway. Fate saw fit to help me with this goal by leaving me without a car for over half the year. Lesson learned, filed under the category of, "Be Careful What You Wish For."

Granted, this doesn't mean I accomplished nothing all year. I changed religions, adopted a child, got a novel contracted for publishing, had two other pieces of writing published, judged two writing competitions, and became editor for a new flash fiction publication ('s Minute Mystery, a quarterly webzine). Most important, I became a happier person. I suspect many of these accomplishments were made possible by none other than my non-resolution; by vowing not to worry, fret, or belittle myself, this opened the door for personal energies to fund my life's pursuits.

That being the case, I've decided to vow my non-resolution for 2007. I can't wait to see what doing nothing brings to my life for the coming year.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Twelve Steps to Writing, Fast-Draft Style

Ever hear of NaNoWriMo? It's National Novel Writing Month. Yep, there is such a thing, and it's held every November. The point? To write a novel (or 50,000 words) in thirty days. Why on Earth would anyone want to attempt such madness? To light a fire under those of us who love to write fiction.

"Sounds impossible," you say. "No one can write that fast." For sure, when I first heard about NaNo last year I was one of the naysayers. After all, my own first book, Visions, took eighteen months to complete; the second, Twelve Steps to Murder, was only 2/3 complete after four months.

Well, HA! Not only are people finding this doable, I'll go you one better. Enter Candace Havens' Fast Draft Workshop. The author of several books including Charmed and Dangerous, Candace has devised a class that not only matches NaNoWriMo's goal--it attempts to exceed it by more than HALF. That's right--her course teaches participants to pound out a 70,000-word first draft in TWO WEEKS.

I stumbled across this course by accident and was intrigued. With revisions for Visions still due back from the publisher, I'd already decided to resume work on other projects while waiting. Perhaps, I thought, this workshop could help. If nothing else, it probably wouldn't hurt. With as many story ideas as my brain likes to conjure up, my snail's pace execution definitely needed a boost.

As it turns out, Fast Draft might just be the jet pack my writing needed. After signing up and learning the method, I set to work and managed to accumulate 74 pages on Twelve Steps to Murder with three days of writing effort--hopefully eighty by the end of tonight. That brings my MS within close sight of its major climax and ending sequences.

Not that the process is all sunshine and lollipops. Two things are evident with speed writing. First, even more fleshing out will be required in revision than my former (also known as neanderthal) method entails, which is already a substantial amount. Second, it's darn hard to pound out twenty pages every day, even if you're committed to succeeding. Still, pound out pages I have, and my hats off to folks like Ms. Havens who have used this method to produce numerous published works.

For anyone wondering, Ms. Havens also has a follow up course titled: Revision Hell and How To Get Through It. I suspect this will be the perfect companion piece to the rapid-fire writing extravaganza currently underway. If nothing else, this adventure will help greatly with my upcoming NaNoWriMo project, a chick-lit titled A Grand Seduction that is outlined and ready to rocket out of the gate come November 1.

For more information on NaNoWriMo, visit If you'd like to know more about the Fast Draft workshop, visit Candace's site at and click the "Workshops" button.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Visions and Dreams

"With the contract for her first novel signed and safely tucked into the mail, the satisfied writer sits back with a cup of tea (Lipton, brewed in the sun with sugar and a sprig of fresh mint), shoves the keyboard aside to put her feet up, and revels in the wonder of a job well done. After all, she's been working toward this moment for almost a decade--she's earned a rest." Right?

Wrong! Now that Visions is set for publishing, the REAL work of a writer begins. Revisions, edits, cover art, galleys, and, of course, marketing must now commence in earnest. Not to mention that work on the next novel, Twelve Steps to Murder, must get back underway as well. Each part of this process spins another strand of raw silk into the cocoon a writer must step inside in order to emerge an "author."

It's an exciting and busy process that will ensure you won't find me browsing eBay for the best deal on laurels to rest upon! You will find me posting updates on the book's progress as it moves closer to release, stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Call for Entries: Writing Contest

Here's the skinny on the writing contest I'm helping organize and judge on!

Do you like to write mysteries and/or flash fiction? Enter's Dead Giveaway Flash Fiction contest for a chance to win a cash prize, and have your work published on a popular mystery site!

Tell us your best mystery in 1,000 words or less, but there's a twist! Your story MUST begin with one of the following sentences, each taken from an existing published mystery:

That looks more like human sacrifice than a wedding ceremony.
--(taken from Driven to Death by Carolyn Rose)

He fought for breath, his heart pounding fast.
--(taken from Cock of the Walk by Wendy Laing)

It lay in wait, blazing eyes of amber piercing the inky darkness.
--(taken from A Kink in the Tale by Lisa Logan)

Amelie would never forgive them for murdering Mathieu.
--(taken from Beneath the Morvan Moon by Courtney Mroch)

Contest opens for entries June 15, 2006. Deadline for entries is August 1, 2006. First prize is 1/2 of total entry fees received and the entry published on Honorable mention will also have their story published on the site. Entry fee: $5.

For complete rules, information on our judges, and entry details, visit Good luck!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My New Year's Non Resolution

Though I've never been big on the concept of the New Year's resolution, I'll admit that this time of year does seem to force enough self reflection for me to have given in to this tradition on a number of occasions. As is the case for many fellow resolvers, I start off with utter dedication, progress to halfhearted boredom, and end with full blown resolution amnesia. This process takes anywhere from three weeks to four months.

So I've decided that this year, while others are vowing to lose that five (or fifty) pounds, be a better person, and earn more money, my resolution would be about not doing anything. My vow of "Non" resolution will hopefully be simpler to achieve than previous years' goals, as it is often easier to do nothing than something. I speak from experience.

Now, this isn't to say that I've decided to shut myself inside a time capsule in suspended animation and emerge victorious (and no doubt stiff and sore) in 2007. Rather, I have compiled a list of things I will NOT be doing this year. For instance, I will not get angry (or possibly vengeful) when cut off on the highway. I will not bother with fad diets that may or may not work--temporarily. I will not be too busy to stop and play with my two-year-old, her teddy bear, and her Lamb Chop puppet. And, I will not worry about people, places, and things that I have no control over anyway.

In 2005 I spun my wheels, putting in nineteen hour days and more to make sure I was doing enough to get ahead, to make up for my medical leave, to make up time and money to people who really couldn't have cared less about my sacrifice. Perhaps this new policy of NOT will prove to be the missing board I need under my wheels to gracefully move ahead, rather than sinking deeper in the mud every time I step on the gas.