Pick Me!!! To Be Your #PitchWars Mentor!!


I'm really excited (Also, insane. Also, late to the party, but here and ready!) to be a ninja mentor in Brenda Drake’s PITCH WARS. I'm on the search for a fantastic MS and writer--and hey, maybe it will be you! Check out my info and see if I'm a fit!! 

--Also, if you haven’t heard about #PitchWars, it’s a great opportunity to work with an agented and/or published author and other industry insiders (EDITOR! Me!) on polishing your MS and presenting it to an awesome collection of agents. Check out the link above if you’re interested in more information! (Also, thanks to my friend Lindsay--from whom I stole all these details.) 

About Me

I’m Danielle, a YA author and Senior Editor at Spencer Hill Press. So, I read and edit MSs a lot--I swear I know what I'm doing. My debut novel Follow Me Through Darkness comes out in 2014, so that's exciting. When I'm not writing or editing or taking care of interns and admin stuff (yes, I'm crazy!) I am a nanny and housekeeper! I live in NoVa, just outside of DC, but I move around a lot. I generally love good stories, fantastic characters and Supernatural, Doctor Who & Shameless are my top three favorite shows (currently). I'm fun, random and easy going--and one day I may overcome my desire to be British. Maybe. 

 What I’m Looking For 

Okay, so in this contest, I am representing NA or YA. I'm most drawn to contemporary at the moment, but I'm not going to pass on something amazing if it's not contemporary. I love AMAZING CHARACTERS. I need books with voice and character and am drawn to those things immediately. I'm saying that up front because I'm about to tell you all the things I like, and you will be all "but those are completely opposite." I know. Be warned.

Beyond character and voice, I don't care if a book is funny or serious. There's room on my shelf for the light contemporary romances, the dark and twisty romance, the unexpected, the horror books, the gritty ghost stories and the books in space! I like it all (look at my About Me and below where I talk about TV. That should tell you.) I'm really driven by character -- probably even moreso than plot.

I like things that are creepy. I like things that make me laugh. I like things that make me cry.  I love a good romance, a good mystery, a good love triangle. I like snarky characters or unpredictable characters. I like ambigious hot boys (or girls) and a really fantastic villian or just an effed up story because "where did that come from?" I'd love to find something about vacation/travel, LOVE ACTUALLY type story with a lot of characters.

Do something bold and unique or make your story really stand out--if I can predict it then I'm bored. I love knights and King Arthur retellings, so if you have those I want! I'm not a huge fan of music stories (you know, the ones where so-and-so wants to do a and b in music but how can so-and-so find the way) just because there's never been anything unique. (surprise me!) I love family dynamics -- good or bad -- and hot boys. (Oh, I said that. It's still true.) I'd love to find a story where the couple are already together and stay together. I'm not a huge fantasy person (as in high fantasy) because it has to be done really, really well for me. But again, characters!

In summary: I like characters and voices that draw me in -- whatever their story.

Things I Love: 

So, I know I presented you with a wide variety of likes...so let me try to help you pair it down.  Here's the list of current editing projects releasing with SHP: The Dollhouse Asylum, Fireblood, Extracted, Sing Sweet Nightingale, Reclaimed

My DVR records these shows regularly. Or used to. Or they are in my Netflix que. So, this will maybe narrow it down a bit. Maybe...

Shameless (US) - Doctor Who - Supernatural - The Vampire Diaries - Nikita - Friends - New Girl - Nashville - Happy Endings - True Blood - Friday Night Lights (if you have a book like this, I want it.) - American Horror Story - Firefly - LOST - Once Upon a Time - One Tree Hill (if you have a book like this, I want it too) - Modern Family - Merlin - Camelot - Game of Thrones - Boy Meets World

Submission details.

Submissions have started and the cut of time for applications (query and first five pages of manuscript) is 8AM EST on December 5. Send your applications to brendadrakecontests@gmail.com. 

Writers can apply for up to 3 coaches. The coaches' categories are set. Coaches can only consider the categories they've signed up for. Writers cannot apply for a coach that is not in their categoryFor additional information about this contest go HERE

  •  This is open to finished manuscripts only. 
  • You may only enter one manuscript. 
  • Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest. 


Subject line: Pitch Wars 
Application: Coach Name you want to apply for: Title (Example: Pitch Wars Application: Brenda Drake: GONE WITH THE WIND)
Name: Your Name 
Genre: The genre of your manuscript 
Word Count: The word count of your manuscript 
Query letter here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph. 

REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches. Check back soon for a complete list of the amazing agents participating in the contest. There's over a dozen!Today all the coaches are posting bios/wish lists on their blogs. So before choosing your top 3 picks, check all the coaches' posts in your category before deciding which coach to submit. To jump from blog to blog, just go to the main link here and check out the other coaches!! 

PICK ME PICK ME! And have fun..... (Also, forgive typos. I am out of it and had to write this REALLY fast.)



Since today is Thanksgiving -- HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! -- I thought I should write a list of what I'm thankful for. See, November has been really draining on me, so getting to look at the good things that happened aside from this month, well that's something I'm already thankful for. Maybe it can be a new start today that drives me past all the crap. Here's some of the things I'm thankful for!

  1. That my book is being published!! (In two years, but hey, yay! I can be thankful for it for another Thanksgiving.) 
  2. My amazing real life friends.
  3. My insanely awesome twitter friends.
  4. Twitter. 
  5. My sister 
  6. Patricia and family - for letting me spend my summer in the basement
  7. this new adventure in DC-area
  8. My new nanny family
  9. Spencer Hill Press
  10. Kate Kaynak - who let me start this journey as an editor that I love. (and be published!)
  11. My  #TeamDani SHP authors, who trust me and teach me so much every single day. They seriously are why I love my job. They have contagious passion, fear, hope, challenge and love of writing, of publishing, of characters that's inspiring. I love them! 
  12. Boston (because while you sucked some, you taught me a lot)
  13. my family
  14. That I get to create worlds and stories and meet characters
  15. Coffee
  16. MY JOB. All three of them. (writer, SHP editor, nanny/housekeeper.) Seriously. 
  17. The SHP interns. :) 
  18. A car that is not mine but that I drive - whew!
  19. Hope.
  20. 2013 and all the new adventures that I don't even know about yet. 
That's my shortlist! What are some things that YOU are thankful for?!?!?!

Enjoy your day! 



I was trying to work on my WIP today, because I have much to write and not much time to do it. And it's been going really badly. It's frustrating, when you want to write and can't seem to figure out the story or focus or anything. And it's especially sad when that time is during NaNo, a month devoted to writing.  I went into this with high hopes and determination.

Then all the things started happening.

And guys, they are potentially good things - nay, great things - but I can't keep up. I start a new job tomorrow, move on Saturday to a new place, am adjusting to living with a whole new set of people, edits come back for my editing projects, and there's a whole bunch of additional stuff that I can't even talk about.

I'm feeling a little like I'm not going to win at NaNo. I was beating myself up about it today, when Patricia reminded me that I'm in transition - and I suck in transitions.

Usually, I find myself a) procrastinating b) unable to write c) reading a lot of books since I can't do 'b' d) watching too much TV to help with 'a' e) over-thinking everything.

This is where I am right now. While the transitions are exciting they are very distracting.

At only four days into NaNo, I'm trying to believe I can do it. I'm going to write when and what I can, and let go of the words I don't get. Either way, words are words. And participating in NaNo while all my friends and my community is part of it, that's a whole lot of fun. :)

Hope everyone's off to a great start!

Me, I'm off to transition. (Again!)


Five Things I've Learned from NaNoWriMo

In six days that glorious month starts. The month of Thanksgiving, of celebration, of pumpkin-flavored everything, of shopping and of pre-holiday excitement. But nothing is more exciting than the biggest month for writers everywhere. The one time a year where writers open up about their projects and their progress and unite in a 30-day maddash to write 50k words.

Yes, I'm talking about NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month, whether you are a supporter or not, is upon us. This will be my third year participating, and it's an event I look forward to all year. (There's something about watching that little bar on the website get bigger that always keeps me motivated.) This year I'm really excited because I get to work on the sequel. In year one, I wrote FMTD; in year two, I re-wrote it. So, it's pretty cool, and I feel like I've come full circle after a lot of hard work.

If you are doing NaNo, you should find me! I love having new friends and people to cheer on. I'm DanielleEWrites there, so it shouldn't be difficult. (Plus, I linked it!)

I've participated in NaNo twice and "won" both years, so I want to pass on some of the things I've learned.

1. Have a plan.

You've probably heard this, but it's so much easier when you go into each writing session knowing what you're going to do. I'm not saying you have to outline, but you should definitely have a goal beyond the 1,700 words. The goal can be that your character goes here, or does this, or this scene happens and moves you to this point. It doesn't matter. Just make sure you know what you want to do each day--or each week--and do your best to stick to it. Obviously, things will change, but it's good to have a plan. It makes 50k seem less daunting, and you don't waste time.

On the wasting time note, you should always leave your story in a stopping point that isn't resolved, because I have found (personally) that when I have to think about how something will start, it takes so much longer than if I had left a small outline or a few notes or written a paragraph before I quit the night before.

One more thing--have a plan for the holidays or that weekend that you're out of town and you know you won't write. You can double up a few days to get ahead. Planning for events during NaNo and being proactive so you don't get behind will work to your benefit, and keep your stress level down.

2. Be flexible!!! 

Not every day will be the same. Some days, writing will be so easy, and others you'll want to shoot yourself in the foot. This is probably the biggest thing that I've learned from NaNo. You have to be flexible. I know I just said to set a goal and have a plan, but sometimes those change as you go along. You need to be able to roll with the punches and do whatever the story is telling you.

Another thing about being flexible, and seriously, if you only take away one thing from this post make it this: Be easy on yourself. Writing is hard. Writing 50k in a month? Even harder.

Obviously, your goal is about 1,700 words every single day. Now, November is crazy month--especially if you think about Thanksgiving and Black Friday and all the prep for everything that comes with it. The one thing that no one ever, ever told me is that some days you won't have energy or brainpower or time to hit that number. Go easy on yourself.

If you know that you have a weekend when you are out of town, pre-write. Maybe you double up a couple of days (whether on accident or on purpose) and that's great. If you write 3k in one day, then you're allowed to have a day off. Or if you miss a day, you can be a little behind and catch up when the story allows you. And seriously, if you need to take a night off, no one will yell at you. You can do that. 50k is an end destination--not necessarily a rule. 

Be flexible and realize you are a human, not a machine, so go easy on yourself. (See how I brought all that around?)

3. Don't quit. 

There are good days and there are bad days. Don't quit.  Write.

Even if the scene is complete crap, write. Even if the story isn't doing what you thought, write. Even if ten pages have nothing but dialogue---hey, those are words, too--so write.

Don't quit.

Even when there's a week left and you're only at 30k, keep going. At the end if you've only written 30k, that's 30k more than you wrote before.

Don't quit. Don't quit. Don't quit.

4. Celebrate
Find small milestones and celebrate them. I like to write a post every time I hit 10k, because that is an accomplishment to be proud of.

When that character does that one thing that  changes everything, celebrate. When the story comes together, celebrate. When your NaNo buddy succeeds, celebrate.

And when you finish, when the month is over--whether you have hit 50k and "won" or hit 30k---celebrate. The month is about writing, and if you are writing, then you are winning.

So, always, always enjoy that and celebrate.

At the end of the month, you will need it.

5. Revise & Edit

If November is "writing month" then December and January and February and March should be "editing months" because there is no one that I have ever met who wrote a book and succeeded without revising that book.

When you finish your MS, you need to revise. 

Don't query until you've read that thing and revised like a crazy person. Seriously. It's the most important part of NaNo and no one really talks about it. But writing a first draft is only a small, small portion of writing a novel. So, write it and then take time to revise. Get into crit groups, ask your NaNo buddies to read, find people who can help you revise your book.

As an editor, I can tell you first hand that the month after NaNo is really scary. We get these unedited manuscripts in our slush piles--and all that does is make us mad because we've wasted our time and make you look back for not editing. You want yours to stand out. It won't do that if you don't edit. Take your time and don't rush. We're not going anywhere, and neither is your book.

*  *

Anyway, those are five things that I have learned from NaNoWriMo. Do you have anything that you want to add? NaNo is a fun time, but it's a lot of work.

Find me, be my buddy on NaNo and let's WRITE.


Trust Your Gut

It didn't FEEL right...and that's where it all started.

Well, actually, it all started with October. This has been the crappiest, most challenging month EVER. Seriously. I don't know how I'm still breathing and really, all I want to do is curl up in a ball and disappear. Or sell all my belongings and go live on a street corner in London. (but that option seems less safe as winter approaches.)

I won't go on a rant about all the ways life has been slowly plucking away at my sanity (just know there are many) and instead I will say: I get to re-start book two. This really should be no surprise, but gosh does it suck.

I had some of my CPs read it, and they liked it, but the four hours I would spend staring at the screen and trying to write a single sentence, well, that was my first warning that something was wrong. When a story is right it flows. Sure, there are rough spots, but it's natural. Rule of thumb: if you have to force your story then you are telling it wrong, or doing something the character doesn't like/wouldn't do.

Anyway, I'm almost at 20k and really proud, when I realize something is wrong. The story isn't flowing. And while I couldn't tell anyone what was wrong--which is always the worst, worst, worst part of it--I felt it. I felt it when I talked about the story. When I tried to write. When I read it. It was WRONG.

Then I had people ask me some hard questions. And I really had to think about what I'd always planned for this story to be--not just the arc of this book, but the character arc. And I cried. (A LOT, as goes my October.) I took notes. I asked questions. I really thought about what I wanted to do, and not how the hell I was going to fix it. I mean, I had the whole book plotted and I like it, on paper, so what is the problem? I should be able to do this. Simple: something felt wrong.

I asked twitter what to do when it felt wrong. Jessica Spotswood  said "I go back to the last place it felt RIGHT and make different choices. Usually, I took a wrong turn somewhere."

ding ding ding!!

I thought about it, and I don't think it ever felt "RIGHT." Now, yes, some pieces of the story felt like the could still work, but the whole overarching story arc--that was never any good. I couldn't pinpoint anything about it that felt like my story. So, therein lie the problem. I don't think I was telling the story I wanted to tell, the story my MC wanted to tell, and it wasn't working. It felt wrong.

What did feel right?

Well, I'm still not entirely sure. I have some ideas, all of which center around my MC and her journey, but I have no idea what the rest of the picture is. I don't know. I'm still figuring it out. But the funny part is even though I don't have the answer, I know that stopping and changing direction is good because it feels right. 

Change is hard. Especially when you have a deadline and pressure and you have a beautiful wall full of multi-colored post-it notes. But when something is wrong, trust it. Starting over after 20k sucks. Rewriting seven times sucks even more. Telling the story that you don't want to tell would suck worse than that.  Obviously, I'm still working on telling the right story. But, despite all my angst and all the tears and stress over the last couple days, I can tell I will find it. Somehow. Some way.

Writing is hard. Life is hard. "Everything will work out," is the cliche I'm clinging to in both scenarios.


Meet Carter

Over on Tangled Up in Words, we're interviewing our characters! 

If you go over now, you can meet Carter. He's my lovely boy MC from Hotboyalicious (not real title). 

It's his first interview, his first public appearance, and he was pretty excited. I think his answers are embarrassing, but that's Carter. 

I'd love if you went to meet him.

He'd love it too. 



On My Method of Plotting

The problem with plotting occurs when I don't. 


I am apparently that writer now, at least to an extent, who has to plot. Which is really funny because I don't know how that happened. (Actually, I do know how that happened. It was during FMTD when Patricia and I were trying to replot a story line and she was like, "I have markers; let's draw it out.)  I had an "outline" (though I hate that word. I need a new one if anyone has a suggestion!) for Hotboyalicious, and one for the contemp I started before the book deal.

Somehow my brain has reprogrammed! But, in all honesty, I have been procrastinating because I don't want to be a plotter. It feels like so much work, even though it's less time to write things out than it is to stare a blank screen over and over and over again. The great thing about plotting, for me, is that I have direction. I don't waste time staring at that stupid blank screen and analyzing what happens next. I just get to write--and I write a lot faster because of it.

I was talking to Crystal on twitter, who is one of my TV show friends, when we started talking about plotting. I was explaining to her my method and it literally got me so excited that I ran downstairs to grab my plotting goodies. AND, since I had already started this post, it seemed like a good opportunity to show yall how I plot. Or, how I try to plot. Maybe it will help you find a way to navigate through your story the way it helps me.

*please note, these are pictures from my own plotting. One is the sequel and one is another book. Please be respectful or I *will* take them down.*

Step 1: The Tools (For me: Markers and Really Big Paper)
I like markers because they are FUN. And let's be honest: anything to make it fun is better.

© Danielle Ellison 2012

Step 2: A List
Of what? Of things you need to explain in this book. Of questions. Of important moments. Of things that must be addressed in order to fill in the pieces or give backstory, or develop a character, etc. My list is still growing, but this is what I have at the moment.

© Danielle Ellison 2012

Step 3: Major Plot Points
What are the big events in your book? For me, plotting out the things I know HAVE TO HAPPEN make it fun. Then, it sort of becomes connect the dots, which is easier to do on paper than in your head.  I've found that knowing where I am going makes getting there easier.

© Danielle Ellison 2012

The great thing about this, too, is that the smaller things (step 4) can be left open if you want, or filled in as you think of them. Then, you aren't tied down to this has to happen next, which is what I always hated about outline. I'm a pantser at heart, so I need the freedom to let the story take life. BUT the story also has to stay where I need it to go next. It's a balance of knowledge and discover--sort of like science.

Step 4: Minor Things
© Danielle Ellison 2012
As I said above, when I know smaller scene-to-scene things, I write them out. When I don't, I leave them blank. If they come to me, It's good to have them.

Step 5: (optional) Move It Around
I keep a running list (usually on notecards or post-its. I draft in Scrivener so I keep them there as well) of scenes as they come to me if I don't know where they go in the story yet. Say, I know my character is going to react this way to something, and this reaction is going to spark her seeking out an answer--but I don't know what that something is yet. If I keep a record of them somewhere else, then I always have these little scenes to refer to. Step 2 and Step 5 are both handy little items to make sure that I'm aware of as I draft.

Step 6: Write!!! 

This may not work for you, but I've tried plotting a LOT of different ways and this is what came of it. I think it's all about taking techniques that you see and adjusting them to fit how you write. Every writer is different, so it makes sense that we all approach plotting--or not plotting--differently.

The great thing about plotting is that sometimes you learn what you planned doesn't work. Which is what happened when I started this post. That's a bummer to learn, but better to learn on the page before you write it.

If you plot, how do you do it? Why or why not? What have you learned? What other methods have you tried?


I'm Scared

I've been having a hell of a time figuring out what how to start FMTD2. I hate beginnings, which is a huge part of the problem, but this book is different. I see the large plot of the book very clearly (like how [___] is destroyed by [___] and how [___] happened) but the small details are not as obvious. I can't even create fake blanks for those.

After a week (or so) of trying to figure it out, I then determined that the problem with everything I was jotting down was that my MCs voice was wrong. I spent all day on Monday obsessing over how I was going to fix this, how I was going to find her again, and where the heck she went.

When I got home, my editor (who luckily or unluckily gets to double as BFF) says to me:
"The voice is fine. It's her at the end of the book, which is what you want. The problem is that you are scared that you'll mess this up and have to rewrite it eight times."

Glory, glory hallelujah. 

As you know, I wrote Follow Me Through Darkness eight times before I got it right. And while it's awesome that I kept at it, it sure did a number on me. I don't think I realized that until this week. Now, I have this crippling of fear of writing ALL my books eight times. And well, when you're working on the sequel to the book that caused all the fear, it can be pretty daunting.

No. Not daunting, terrifying. I'm terrified.

Not of the book (though there are missing pieces and I'm working with a MC who is NOT forthcoming at all) but because I don't want to fail. Guys, I don't want to re-write this book eight times. That worry is almost debilitating, and with FMTD2, it made me not know how to start and to question everything from my characters to my plot to myself.

With my last book, Hotboyalicious (not real title), I had this same fear--but it manifested in hatred. I was scared of that one because it was a different genre, character, voice, style. I guess, deep down, I was scared of writing it eight times. That was made pretty evident when I had to start over after 50k. But once I did, it was awesome. (I'll have to tell you more about this later.)

Once Patricia told me what was going on, once she pointed out the root problem was me and not my book, everything clicked. In two days (after a period of wallowing and ignoring life with tv shows and a little crying), I've written over 5k. It's small, but I'm feeling confident. I believe in my MC again, in this story, in this series, and I'm thrilled.

Does that mean I'm still not scared? No. I am. But I have a book to write--and I don't have a lot of time to do it. I wanted to tell this story, and I get to. And honestly, I'm bigger than my fears. Plus, if I want this to be a career then I have to get over myself.

Some authors rewrite, and maybe that's just the kind of author I am.  Maybe I finish this draft or make it halfway and need to start over. That would suck, a lot, but when I look at FMTD and how proud of that book I am, how hard I worked to make it fantastic, is re-writing the worst thing that can happen?

No, it's not.

I tell you all this because I am scared. I hope you don't hate my book(s). I'm scared I won't do the story justice. I'm scared everyone will hate my MC (even though she's stubborn and endearing.) I'm scared it won't strike a chord with anyone. I'm scared I won't succeed. But I am still writing.

Nothing I'm afraid of will stop me, so don't let it stop you.


Take a Breath

Inhale. Exhale. Seriously.

Everything will be okay.

Whatever you are dealing with, wherever you are are struggling, that THING that seems so out of control....IT WILL ALL BE OKAY.

I'm dealing right now. I have all these emotions, all these balls in the air & I've been sick to my stomach for (literally) 4 days now. I don't know which way is up or where I'm going to go next or anything! It's a little overwhelming. All I want to do is disappear into my make-believe worlds, but thats the one thing I can't do.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, sometimes things take a turn. The plans you have can fall apart. You can get tired. Life throws your curve balls & leaves you exhausted from dodging them all. Your story isn't unfolding like it should & that MC just did something that changes EVERYTHING.

Whatever it is, IT WILL WORK OUT.

I feel like someone else needed to hear this today. Like someone else needed to know he or she or they weren't alone.

It will be okay. Take a breath. Take a break. Take a minute or a night.

That thing you are fretting over: It will be okay.


About Revision (aka. How I Survived 8 Major Revisions)

Thanks everyone for the congrats on the book deal. :) It is very, very exciting. :) :) :) I also have a new website---check it out!!! It matches my blog. I like matching. :)

Over the weekend, I had a writer DM me on Twitter, asking about how I revised so many times. She said she was working on a current revision and was a little overwhelmed. So it got me thinking, and I made a list about revising.

1. A lot of trial and error. 
You try something; it doesn't work. You try something new; it may or may no work. You try something else; you see what happens. It's so much try and fail, but the great thing is that when you get it right then YOU GET IT RIGHT.

2. A lot of frustration. 
Trial and error is exhausting. Redoing over and over is really frustrating—especially when you there’s an answer!!! (All of my revisions were structural problems, at least in the early stage, so that was the hardest because I was always rewriting the entire book.)

3. Amazing CPs and beta readers.
People in your corner who will read and re-read and re-re-re-re-re-read your book. People who will challenge you, be honest, encourage, and brainstorm. They are THE BEST. I’m pretty positive that I wouldn’t have survived without them.

4. The fact that I KNEW I could do it, I just had to figure out how. 
That’s pretty much it. I loved my characters, my story; it was a really important to me to get it right. I wanted to give them the best, so I kept at it.

5. Always finding new, little things to love. 
After a while, things get old. You get tired. (Very tired!) And you need to find new things about the book to love. Maybe a character that you get to develop more, or a scene that never leaves the book. (In my finished draft, I seriously have TEN scenes that have been in every draft. That’s it.) These are things you can cling to. (Stephanie Perkins wrote a post about “Love Lists” where you list all the things you love about your MS. I have those for every project and I look it at a lot.)

6. Continuously discovering things--and always trying to. 
The great thing about revision is that the story is always changing. You should always, always be learning new things about your characters or your setting or something. Going into each revision seeking out those new discoveries make it fun. (Just in this last revision I learned something about my MC that I had no idea happened—not in two years!! I never would have guessed it and it was perfect.)

7. Knowing it is okay to take your time. 
DON’T BE IN A HURRY. I’ve learned from experience that when you rush it only slows you down. You have to have focus and tackle it one scene (or one large picture area) at a time. Realize you’ll have to change A LOT of stuff to make it work, and develop the story. Think about things before you commit. (And if you’re on R&R then know that the R&R isn’t going to go away—I had an agent wait two years! And though she didn’t take it, she still loved it and praised my revisions.)

8. Setting goals.
Take it day-by-day or week-by-week. Be realistic. Have a plan when you sit down to revise that today I am going to fix A or B or write x number of words. And do it. But, if you don’t achieve it, don’t beat yourself up. Just do your best and move on.

9. Fresh eyes.
This builds off having great betas/CPs—but have new people who can read other drafts. When you work in-depth with betas/CPs, they get to know the story (especially if you talk to them about scenes b/c then they get all that knowledge in their head.) Having someone with fresh eyes and no knowledge of the story read over things makes it stronger.

10. Flexibility in changing and cutting things that you may not want to.
If you count deleted scenes from my drafts, it would probably be another novel. I had to cut scenes that I loved because they didn’t work. I had to change subplots, delete subplots, and delete characters. The biggest thing is to BE FLEXIBLE because revision is a difficult stage of writing, and sometimes it requires you to approach your story in a new way.

11. Alcohol. 
Tis good. If you are 21---if not, find a cupcake.

12. Crying. 
Because it’s inevitable.

13. More frustration and complete and utter angst. 
It will happen. I suggest a place to vent, people that you can complain with, cupcakes, exercise, loud, angry music. I also suggest not fighting the angst because I believe that only makes it worse.

14. Embracing the urge to quit.
Because you will want to quit. You’ll want to be all “I hate this book and this is never going to work and EFF IT ALL!” and you’ll go wallow in a corner because you were crazy to ever try this writing thing and you’re wasting your time and everyone else is better than you so you should just get a job at Starbucks because at least they have benefits with their coffee.

15. Not quitting.
When you get up from the corner, go back to your computer. Do some more work. Because even though this hard, you want this and you can do it and it will all be okay.

16. Remember why you write.
For yourself. For your characters. For this story. For the joy of it instead of the pressure you’ve put on yourself to get an agent and sell to a big six and be a millionaire. (or whatever.)

17. Affirming friends.
People make this easier when you have fantastic friends—writers and non-writers. Non-writers are great because this isn’t their life and they can take you away from it when needed and you can move on. Writers are great because THEY GET IT. They can encourage you and relate to you and make you remember. Friends will also lock in your room when you need work.

18. Twitter.
Because it’s the biggest community of people and they are all (usually) very supportive and keep you accountable and are always SO EXCITED.

19. LOTS of painful feedback.
Because, again, writing is hard and changing things is hard and the truth can hurt, but all pain is for a reason and it will only push you.

20. Routine.
With each story, I always have a routine. A place I sit or a playlist I listen to before writing or a certain time that you write (morning, afternoon, middle of the night)—something. I think it helps.

21. Believing in my book, in myself, in the fact that it will all work out somehow and even if it doesn't get published or get an agent, that someone will love it and then it will all be worth it. 
And of course, see number 11 again.

Anything that you would add to the list?



I sat down and had all these ideas of what I was going to say because I've known about this for like 3 weeks and I was busy--but MY BOOK IS BEING PUBLISHED!!!! is sort of all I can think right now! FOUR YEARS of working toward this, and I'm floored.

Here's the official PM:

Danielle Ellison's FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS, in which a girl escapes a controlled community and races through a forgotten world in hopes of saving everyone she loves before time runs out and their existence is wiped away, to Kate Kaynak and Patricia Riley at Spencer Hill Press, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in April 2014, by Rebecca Mancini of RightsMix (World).

So, how did this happen? Everyone knows I'm an editor at Spencer Hill Press, but I subbed my book to Kate before she brought me on. I'm excited to publish with SHP because I know how much Kate and our team believes in the books we launch--and it's amazing to be one of our authors!

Time for my book story. (I've always wanted to do this!!)

I started FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS in 2010, right after I moved to Boston. I was working at a Borders as a barista, and I was putting away new stock when I heard this voice in my head repeating this one line: "There’s never enough time. It moves too quickly, signaling the end of everything. The end is the thing I fear the most." I put things away as quickly as possible, grabbed a handful of napkins, and took my lunch early so I could write. It was a scene--just one and that was all I needed to know I had figure out the story. I didn't have even have names. (I ended up writing like 30k before I got the MCs name, just as a sidenote.)

In 2010, I did NaNoWriMo with that book, which had a title called Silhouettes. (Horrible, I know!) I finished it eventually, revised with Christina, queried seven agents and had five requests. All of them came back like "uh, no," (only nicer!) and one of them gave me fantastic information on how to do approach a revision.

I set out on a quest to fix the book because I believed in Neely (she's the MC) and her story. I tried to walk away, to tell other stories, but I kept coming back. I knew there was something there, but I had to figure out the structure (so hard!) and the stakes. Over the next two years I would revise this book, workshop this book, rewrite this book, rewrite, restart, rewrite. SEVEN revisions.

Christina and Patricia were so insanely helpful in developing my characters, helping with the structure of such a heavy story, and keeping me focused on the story when I complained. (You can follow this tag if you're curious about real-time posts.) They were probably so tired of reading it, of re-thinking things, but they always encouraged me to keep going--them and more people than I can start to list here. I literally finished draft six in February of 2012, right before I subbed to Kate. (Then, of course, I had to revise again.)

I queried--new book, new title--and had some requests, but ultimately, the market was flooded with "dystopian," and even though countless agents loved my novel, it was all a timing issue. (I mean, two years will do that!) So, I shelved it, locked my characters away in a closet, and moved on.

About a month ago, I got an email from Kate saying she wanted to talk about the book. I waited for two agonizing days and then she told me she loved it! It was awesome to hear that from Kate, because I respect her opinion, and obviously, this book is a huge part of my soul. She told me that she wanted me to fix some things (revision #8!!!) and then send it back. So, I did---and she bought it!! I asked Kate if Patricia could work on it too, since she knows this story so well. It's so great that she gets to be hands-on with my book; we work well together and she's going to do amazing things for this series. :)

And well, here we are!!

It has not been an easy journey--they never are--but I've learned so much about writing, patience, good friends, community. There are so many people who encouraged me over the last two years; I'm really excited to share this book with all of you!!!! Woooo!!!

April 2014----here we come!! Me and my book!!!

*runs off to stare at the PM listing some more*


I get to edit another book!!

I love reading a book that completely rocks me. A book that makes me wonder if I have stable footing or if Im even standing on firm ground. A book that makes me have ALL THE FEELS & leaves me in the wake of this just remarkable state of post-reading bliss.

A month ago, I found a book while trolling the forums as a ninja agent on WriteOnCon that just blew me away! The query needed some work, which I tried to fix some, but the story stuck with me for days. So, I requested. It was a great decision because that book is remarkable!! In fact, it's very rare that I get emotional in books (I can count the times!) and this one left me in a heap on the stairs, unable to form full sentences for at least twenty minutes. (You can ask Patricia!.) It's a contemporary book--one of the inaugural titles for Spencer Hill Contemporary which launches next year.

Here's the blurb from PM:

Sarah Guillory's RECLAIMED, in which a girl determined to flee her small town finds a reason to stay when she falls in love with twin brothers, one who can't remember his past and the other who doesn't want him to remember, told in three alternating points of view, to Danielle Ellison & Patricia Riley at Spencer Hill Contemp, in a nice deal, for publication in October 2013, by Rebecca Mancini at RightsMix (World).

It actually releases October 2013--the same time as most of my other projects! I am very happy to add RECLAIMED to my list. I can't wait to work with Sarah & share this amazing story with all of you!

Make sure you go congratulate Sarah on twitter: @SGuillory262 & check out her post!


Where I've Been Hiding

*peeks around corner* Well, hello there!!

I’ve abandoned blogging at my own blog. It’s really sad, and I promise it’s unintentional. Life has been crazy. So much so that after a lot of consideration, I’ve decided NOT to host the YA Spooktacular this year. I was planning on it. I spent some time figuring out what I would want to do, and then I got wind of MANY other Halloween events. I think there's enough going on this year that you don’t need the YA Spooktacular. In fact, I sincerely hope there's another blogger out there who wants to take what I've done for the past two years and run with it! I'd love to help out—but I can't plan it. (I can barely blog!!) If anyone wants to, email or tweet me. Because I'd love to pass it on! 

Anyway, what have I been doing?

Well, so many things. 

I live in the DC-area now! That's a fun change. Working, enjoying people, trying to figure it out beyond that because I still have no idea. (Nothing new there!)

Most of my life has consisted of every and all things Spencer Hill Press. I'm editing three books (maybe four by the time you read this—more on that later!) I'm the Intern Wrangler, which means that I'm "in charge" of a whole (or most of) an Intern Fleet of editors and readers and Copy Editors and…it's a lot. But it's exciting and going to be so much fun to get everyone plugged in.) I've also been working with Patricia and Kate to re-structure some things. Basically, it's been A LOT. While I didn't have a job after my move, I spent the whole summer working on SHP stuff and it always seemed like there was more to do. So that.

I've been writing. A very good amount of writing. 

I finished a whole MS, which is in it's second round of edits and about to go out into the query-world. I don't feel like that's right. I feel like I *just* did that, which I guess I did. It's sorta weird. The last MS was a book that I poured my soul into, and the current one is too, but in very different ways. (Funny how books can do that!) Where the last was all dark and beautiful brokenness., the new is all snark and magic. I love it. 

I'm also writing a new WIP that’s a dual POV Contemp. I love it in other ways that don't even touch the previous ones. This one I just LOVE my MCs and it's only because of them I can tell this story. Contemp is different. It's not about building the world, because it's already built, it's about building the characters in the world. Their struggles can be simple, but if it means life or death to them then it means life or death to the reader—but only if you build the character. It's an interesting balance. 

Once I finish that—which I'm hoping will happen through/by/in November (fool's wish, I know!)--then I'm going back to that dark/beautiful broken one to do a few revisions. There are some improvements I want to make for the pure reason that someone pointed them out & they were smart suggestions, and I love that story.

That's where I've been hiding. 

How are all of you?? Update me!

*note: less than one hour after posting this, I decided that I will do the revisions before I work on the current WIP. Just b/c I already know it and that's a smarter decision. Hopefully*


MIRAGE book tour: On Writing a Series by Kristi Cook (guest post)

Today, I get to be part of the tour for MIRAGE by Kristi Cook which is hosted by Books Complete Me. Not only am I excited because I love Kristi--I'm also excited because MIRAGE was a really enjoyable read where the characters are stretched further and developed more and I love spending time with them. On the tour today, Kristi has a guest post for us about what it's like writing a series. So without further adeiu, here's Kristi!

Now that MIRAGE, the second book in the Winterhaven Series, has hit the shelves, it’s time for me to focus on finishing the third and last book in the series (alas, still untitled). And let me tell you….there are so many emotions involved in writing the final book in a series!

Let’s see: I’m excited to share the last piece of Violet’s story with readers, and to finally answer the question, “Will Aidan find his cure in time?” I’m nervous about wrapping up all the loose ends I’ve left open, and about giving readers who’ve stuck with me a satisfying ending. I’m sad about the prospect of saying goodbye to the cast of characters I’ve come to love, and even sadder about the prospect of writing a certain scene, that’s…well, going to break my heart to write.

Writing this book is hard. Really hard. I mean, I knew it would be, but I didn’t quite expect all these conflicting emotions hitting me at once. To paraphrase Violet in HAVEN (book #1), “You’ve got all that going on in your head at one time?” And the answer is yes. Yes, I do.

And the Winterhaven Series is just a three book series. I can only imagine what must have been going through J.K. Rowling’s head as she wrote the seventh Harry Potter book! As a reader, I could barely come to terms with the idea of saying goodbye to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. What must it have been like for Rowling?! (no, really—I don’t want to know!)

So, I can say with 100% certainty that the Winterhaven Series is just a trilogy. The third book will be the last. Oh, I understand how easy it is to get seduced by the idea of writing a much longer series, one that stretches on for years and years. After all, in some ways (not every way, mind you—trust me on this!), it’s easier. The world is already built, the characters fleshed out. It’s easy to slip back into Violet’s head—into her voice—and continue her story. Diving back into the Winterhaven world, for me, is like slipping into my favorite pair of pajamas, all comfy and warm and familiar. Ahhhh……

But I know that the more time I spend with Violet, Aidan, and their friends, the harder it will be to let them go. I know I need to make a clean break. Move on. Let some new characters take up residence in my head.

But hey, I’m not there yet. It’s not time. I’ve still got chapters to write, people to kill, loose ends to tie
up! Seriously, folks, I’m loving every second I’m spending in the Winterhaven world, and I hope you are, too!

I know I am! Thanks so much Kristi for letting be part of the celebration for MIRAGE.  To check out the other stops on the tour, just go here

Find Kristi and The Winterhaven Series online: Amazon / Barnes & Noble /Goodreads / Author Website / Twitter 

We're also having a giveaway! You can win: 1 signed ARC of MIRAGE, 1 signed finished copy of MIRAGE, and 1 signed poster of MIRAGE.  All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter info below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Tour: All These Lives by Sarah Wylie

Today I get to be part of the book tour for ALL THESE LIVES by Sarah Wylie, which is hosted by Books Complete Me. Here's a little about the book, which drops on June 5th.

Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky.  She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal.  And Jena is wasting away.  

To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives.  Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one.  Someone like Jena.  But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization.  Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all.  Maybe she really only ever had one.

Since Dani believes she has nine lives, each blog on the tour will talk about one of nine things that you will love about this book. I'm very pleased to feature number three of the Nine Things You'll Love about All These Lives....and number three is Jack Penner.

In the book, Dani has a friend named Jack Penner. Even his name is pretty hot right? hehe. Here are nine things you'll love about Jack. (Because everyone loves a hot boy.)

  1. Jack Penner is surprising. Contrary to how "quarterback" his name sounds, he does not play football. He is not popular. He is not anything except himself.  I like that. 
  2. Jack says great lines like "A bag of chips? Really? Of all the things to come between us..." which make me chuckle to myself. And fangirl a little.
  3. Jack's mom irons his jeans, which are just a little too short for him. 
  4. Jack is miserable at video games. BUT you would totally want to be lost in the woods with him, because he doesn't need matches to start a fire. hehehe
  5. He knows Spanish (at least, when he's not writing notes to Dani in the margin of his notebook!) And he's a great partner to have for a math project when you just don't feel like doing it. 
  6. He wears Star Wars socks. Which, I completely LOVE about him. This is when he stole my heart. 
  7. He thinks flirting is when Dani calls him "hot stuff" and "sweet thang" and Dani does it to make him uncomfortable. It's adorable too. 
  8. He saves girls who make bad decisions so they don't make worse ones.
  9. He likes libraries. :) *winkwink*

There's more to love about Jack Penner and All These Lives!! Check out some of the other things to love about this book by going to these blogs!

5/22 – A Good Addiction
5/23 – Reading Lark
5/24 – Frenzy of Noise (You are here now!)
5/28 – The Story Siren
5/30 – Books With Bite

And there's an awesome giveaway where you can win a signed copy of ALL THESE LIVES, 3 bookmarks for ATL and your choice of ANY 3 Apocalypsies books! That's awesome. All you need to do to enter is fill out the info over on SARAH'S BLOG. Giveaway ends at 11:00 pm EST on June 8, 2012. Good luck.

Go discover what to love about All These Lives. And don't miss adorable Jack Penner!


The Ash-Born Boy

As a lover of all things  The Near Witch  (and Victoria Schwab) today is an exciting day. Have  you wondered about Cole? Cole, the mysterious boy with a dark eyes and a burnt cloak. Cole, who has a different name and a past that we never learn. Cole, who's beautiful and angst-ridden and intriguing? The stranger in a town with no strangers...

Well await no longer. The Ash-born Boy is available today---and the paperback copy of The Near Witch is as well. (Note: You should buy that because there is a bonus chapter for The Archived in the back! eek!)

Before he came to Near... 
Before he met Lexi... 
Before they faced the witch... 
Who was the boy named Cole? 

Follow us to Dale, a city on a hill, where in a matter of days fire will devour everything. Meet the Lord and Lady, and their son, the boy destined to inherit all...until everything turns to ash. 

It's time to learn the truth behind the stranger's story.

Click here to read The Ash-born Boy and have all your questions answered, all your worries ceased, and maybe even, have your heart broken a little. But don't worry, because it's beautiful.

I've already read this and I promise, promise, that it is amazing! Go check it out!! And buy The Near Witch in paperback!! 


Ignoring the Clues

I've been writing Hotboyalicious (not real title) for a few months now. One chilly weekend in February I only had 10k--and now on this chilly day in May I have 50k. But for months now (seriously, months) I've been stuck. (That should have been a clue.) I would write a chapter or half a chapter and be so completely stuck. The idea that was so warm and loud in my head, suddenly chilled. That's not to say this doesn't happen--because it does--but when it does you have to ask why. (This is a clue also.) But I didn't ask why. I didn't stop to figure out what was going on beneath the surface of my story. I kept writing. 

I would write until I got stuck, then complain about being stuck for days, then take action (which usually consisted of brainstorming my problem with my roommate, Derrick) and then I'd have a miraculous breakthrough and bust out 3k and then another chapter and then...I'd be stuck again. And repeat the cycle. I knew, I knew, something was wrong with the story--but I had NO IDEA what it was.  (Sidenote: I think sometimes I did know the problem, but I didn't want to admit it. This should've also been a clue.)



Blog Tour: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

About the book: 
         A captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922, and the summer that would change them both. 
        Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and an icon for her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita to make it big in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle is a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip. She has no idea what she's in for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous blunt bangs and black bob, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will change their lives forever. 
        For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might prove an answer to the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. And while what she finds isn't what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of the summer, Cora's eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

My Review: 

I don't read a lot of adult fiction, but I found The Chaperone to be an enjoyable story with a great time period and characters. We got to see the 1920s as they were developing--with turmoil and questions and secret societies. As someone who really enjoys the time period, The Chaperone presents and builds a great glimpse into the time period. Every detail felt perfect and helped to build a picture in my head. 

The book takes the real story of actress Louise Brooks--but before she was an actress. Here, Louise Brooks is a fifteen year old girl about to start her journey to eventual stardom in the big city. Already Louise is outspoken, changed by the culture with short hair and short dresses. So when Cora is chosen to escort the girl to the city, both characters are thrown in the new life around them and the budding society that's overtaking the women of the 1920s. But each girl has another reason for going to New York.

It's because of these girls that the story comes to life. Not only was the insight into Louise Brooks' lively and inventive, she was also very connectable as a lost and lonely girl. (So much like the celebrities we sometimes see today.) But even more, Louise was challenging to Cora. 

And, although the story seems to be about the young Louise, it's really Cora's story.  For it's Cora who has a history and a secret. And Cora who never really got to be the child. She's strong and insightful, yet very much lost in her own way and even more, searching for answers. Cora goes against the grain of society; she wants to be something more than she is allowed or supposed to be. I love that in a story. The characters really jump off the pages and find a special spot in your heart. The journey we see these characters go on together--and separately--really make the story come alive. 

 I think anyone who likes historical fiction or stories filled with well-developed characters and a time period will enjoy The Chaperone. I don't think this novel should be classified by adult or young adult--for that's one that every woman searching for something else, whether in the past, present or future. I think it's something everyone can relate to.

About the author:
About Laura Laura Moriarty earned a degree in social work before returning for her M.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Kansas. She was the recipient of the George Bennett Fellowship for Creative Writing at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, and is now a professor of Creative Writing at the University of Kansas. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas, and is at work on her next novel.

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
Published by Riverhead Books, ISBN 978-1594487019
Hardcover, 384 pages

Publication date: June 5, 2012

This blog tour was hosted by TLC book tours. All comments here are of my own opinion. 

If you want to check out more of the stops on the tour, click here. 


The Dollhouse Asylum

So everyone knows I'm an editor at Spencer Hill Press. And waaay back in January this little book came into the slush pile that I read. There was something about it that just hooked me. Ever since that moment, I've been waiting, waiting, waiting for the chance to share this announcement: I have another project!!
Mary Gray's THE DOLLHOUSE ASYLUM, in which a group of teenagers are granted asylum from the apocalypse--and then assigned new identities as famous, tragic literary couples and forced to reenact their stories... or die, to Kate Kaynak at Spencer Hill Press, in a nice deal, for publication in October 2013, by Kat Salazar at Larsen/Pomada Literary Agents (World English). 
Not only is the book going to be amazing--and I can't wait to share it with you next fall--but the author is amazing.

Mary Gray is superbly talented and really excited!! (I am excited too!!) Mary is going to rock your reading world with this story. Not only is she a talented writer, she's also very invested in writing the best story, in these characters and is one of the best people to talk to about anything and everything. Writing, shows, awesome cookies! Mary is sweet, enthusiastic, sincere and you should get ready. You should stop by twitter and say hello! And check out her post about this experience over at her blog.

Congrats Mary and SHP!! Welcome to the family! I can't wait to continue our journey together.

And all of you--I can't wait to share more about this book with you!

Cover Reveal: Breaking Glass by Lisa Amowitz

There's a book coming out July 9, 2013 and it's called  BREAKING GLASS. I remember when it came into the slush and guys, it's pretty amazing. Today I'm going to help reveal the cover!

But first, a little about BREAKING GLASS by 

On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, he's not sure whether they're real or if he's losing his grip on reality. Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soon realizes he must discover the truth or become the next victim himself.

And now....the cover!!!

Isn't it gorgeous!?!? Make sure you add this book to your 2013 list. You won't want to miss it!!!


The SCARY Thin Line Between Love and Hate

I am so in love with my WIP.

This is a new emotion, because for WEEKS I've only complained to my gracious and wonderful CPs how much I hate this book.

And I do hate it sometimes.

I hate it because it's different for me. I get nervous about writing a story that's this "different" and this out of my comfort zone. Can I pull it off? What does it mean for me and my future? Is this really the kind of author I want to be known as? Will Hotboyalicious (not real title) forever alter the things I can write? I don't know.

I hate it because it challenges me in ways that I never knew I struggled in as a writer. Because I can't seem to get a grasp on the story. Because it's ever growing and changing and I have no clue what's going on. The subplots are going in every direction. The voice of my MC feels off to me, and I think it's all in my head (at least that's what those CPs tell me) and I can't quite determine if the love interest comes off as insta-love. I have too many ideas and I'm already at 50k and not even halfway done with all of them. I even have an outline, that I don't know how to follow anymore but somehow keeps finding itself back in the story.

But mostly, I hate this WIP because it makes me doubt myself. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the right person to be telling this story. I've written a few books now and I've never looked at one with such uncertainty before. I get really excited about writing it, but when the time comes to sit down and do it, I get trapped inside my own head all these worries, and all the insecurity and you know what?


I'm not one who gets caught up a lot in writing doubt. That's not to say I think I'm the best in the world or anything---I can barely take a compliment. Ask my CPs. But it's just something I do. I put the words on the page and go. So the fact that I'm so stunted with this WIP is really, really scary. I have to constantly battle myself out of the doubt.

The thing that's striking me today, is that underneath the hate I feel toward it for these reasons, I also love it. I'm talking let's run away together and fly to the moon, love it.

These characters are my favorite out of any thing I've written. The mythos is fun. The story, while out of control, is surprising and lovely. My MC is snark and bubbles and confusion--which makes her easy for me connect to, since that's currently what I'm feeling. My love interest is awesome. He's so amazing. I think I love him more than my MC. And what's even more--this story is fun to read. 

There's a thin line between love and hate. And with this WIP, I find myself constantly teetering the line. Some words, I hate it. Other words, I love it. I have to keep telling myself that this is just a first draft! And that's hard too because I write clean first drafts. I have to let go of some control with Hotboyalicious (not real title) and let the character and the story unveil itself. Then, later, I can polish.

Today, I love my WIP. We spent hours together yesterday, talking through some of our issues, and I find myself with a renewed excitement. How long will that stay around? I don't know. But for now, I'm sure going to try and embrace it.

Does anyone else find themselves struggling with this? Someone tell me I'm not alone!!


Hope is a Happy Thing

Hope is contagious. Hope is like yeast and baking powder. It has an energy that makes things rise. If you want to know if you are good for others, ask yourself how much hope you've given them. It is there you will find your answer.
Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB author of Seasons of the Heart 

Yesterday was the Boston Marathon and the Boston Globe reported that 21,963 ran in the race. Now, I'm not a runner so the idea of that many people pushing, training and preparing to run for fun is completely crazy to me. I can't even comprehend the amount of work it takes to prepare your body--and your brain--for running 26.2 miles. In the heat. With thousands of other people. But I'm sure, that the answer is a lot. But there's something I appreciate about it: it's people running toward their goals.

It's crazy in life how you wait, you yearn, you work whole-heartedly toward a goal and sometimes, you never really think that goal is going be accomplished. I bet yesterday, in the 87 degree weather, a bunch of those runners probably felt they were never going to make it. They probably wanted to quit--I have no doubt of that--but they didn't. Why not? Because they were in the midst of this goal that they've been preparing for and other people were succeeding around them. There's nothing that's more motivational than seeing other people succeed at the same goal you have.

They have this hope.

Now again, I'm not a runner. But I get what this whole thing is like because I am a writer. Writing is one of those things that so often feels like a far away, un-achievable goal. You train, you prepare, you practice, you get tips and helpful information everywhere--but there's still the doing, the trying, the waiting. The waiting in writing is the hardest part for most people.

But then, something good happens.

Maybe it's a spark of something. An encouraging word. A friend succeeding. Something that validates that what you are doing is worth something. It can be anything and it can be teeny tiny--but those things are the things that keep us hopeful. Like for me, only four days ago, I was so trapped in my own head that I couldn't make my WIP move forward. All it took was for me to stop being selfish and to approach things with a new perspective. It wasn't even my idea! That's a spark of something good and it gave me the ability to keep going.

This industry--especially for those in-between here and there--is not easy. It's not for the faint at heart or the impatient or the jealous. Those things will eat you alive. The only way to survive the bad things that want to tie you down, is to have hope.

My friend Cindy said to me today "I'm happy. I have hope. Hope is a happy thing."

And she's right. Hope is a happy thing.

You know what else hope is? It's contagious. The more we spread it around, the happier people will be while we are training or waiting or running and about to pass out.

Wherever you are in this race, if you are feeling tired or impatient or not good enough. If you want to turn around and quit before you even get to start, then say something to someone you trust. Maybe you will find some hope to keep going. If someone can one 26.2 miles in a few hours, you can do this too. Have hope.

I hope you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you. Something worth living for--maybe even worth dying for-- something that energizes you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead. 
 Ita Ford Maryknoll 

Hope is a happy thing. Pass it on.