I’m a Debutante! (I’m Serious. Really. I Am.)

pink-tilted-tiara-mdI’m in high-octane brain power mode this week. Practically twitchy, I’d say. I’m having a hard time focusing on one task for long, so let’s hope I finish this post before twitchy little authorial tasks such as plastering my new author photo everywhere or joining Google+ veer me away again. (Yeah, I know I poked fun at Google+ last week. Call me changeable.)

Why am I twitchy? I’m a debutante, donning my metaphorical tiara and pearls in honor of all debut authors everywhere! I was accepted at a debut author group blog called THE DEBUTANTE BALL with four other fabulous and feisty debut authors. We’re shaking things up! A new website design, new and interesting weekly topics, the works. We’re a mighty team, and we’ve virtually known each other only since Sunday. My brain is on overdrive with ideas.

The five us will be sharing our rollercoaster ride to publication with you, and we’ll also be helping each other out behind the scenes. Lots of moral support as we no doubt succumb to Author Overwhelmed Syndrome. (I stole this term from another great debut author group blog called BOOK PREGNANT. Thank you, Jessica Keener!)

So here we are, the debuting author debutantes of 2014 as introduced last weekend on The Debutante Ball. We start blogging in September.

13H-Heather-134x150HEATHER WEBB: Author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE (Plume/Penguin, December 2013)

Heather grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full time writing and editing.

As a freelance editor, Heather spends oodles of time helping writers find their voice and hone their skills–something she adores. She may often be found Twittering helpful links, sharing writing advice and author interviews on her blog Between the Sheets, or teaching novel writing in her community. Other favorite haunts are RomanceUniversity.org, where she contributes to the Editor’s Posts and Writer Unboxed where she poses as Twitter mistress.

Lisa_new_edit_color_optLISA ALBER, Author of KILMOON, A COUNTY CLARE MYSTERY (Muskrat Press, March 2014)

Lisa received an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant based on Kilmoon, in addition to a Walden Fellowship. Her short story “Paddy O’Grady’s Thigh” appeared in Two of the Deadliest (HarperCollins), an anthology edited by New York Times bestseller Elizabeth George. In addition, Lisa was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the story “Eileen and the Rock.”

A Californian with a penchant for travel, animal advocacy, and photography, Lisa worked in international finance and book publishing before exchanging the corporate ladder (no more business suits!) for storytelling. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with a one-eyed rescue spaniel and an accident-prone cat.

13H-Susan-Gloss-128x150SUSAN GLOSS, Author of VINTAGE (William Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2014)

Susan Gloss is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she majored in English and Spanish, and the University of Wisconsin Law School. She lives on Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, young son, and a neurotic hound dog. She balances–-or attempts to, anyway–-writing and family time with working as an attorney, curating an online vintage shop at Etsy.com, and writing about food for Edible Madison magazine.

13H-Natalia-Sylvester-143x150NATALIA SYLVESTER: Author of CHASING THE SUN (New Harvest/Amazon Publishing, May 2014)

Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia Sylvester came to the U.S. at age four and grew up in South Florida, where she received a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Miami. A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance journalist and copywriter. Her articles have appeared in Latina, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer magazines. Chasing the Sun is partially inspired by a family member’s kidnapping. Natalia lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two rescue dogs, Maggie and Pita.

13H-Lori-Rader-Day-150x150LORI RADER DAY: Author of THE BLACK HOUR (Seventh Street Books, July 2014)

Lori Rader Day won Good Housekeeping’s first short story contest, chosen by bestselling author Jodi Picoult, and the Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction from The Madison Review. Lori muses on Twitter at @LoriRaderDay.

5 Things I Learned at the Willamette Writers Conference

In the pitch practice room. Nerves galore.
In the pitch practice room. Nerves galore.

Last weekend I volunteered at the Willamette Writers Conference. I attended as an author rather than as a writer trying to snag the attention of a literary agent. Off the hook! But man, did I feel the miasma of desperation that hung over the place. I just looked up “miasma” … “a heavy vaporous emanation or atmosphere” and “a contagious power that has an independent life of its own.” Yep. That was about it.

I waded through the miasma into the pitch-practice room, where the vaporous contagion thickened with dreams upon dreams upon dreams colliding into each other as twitchy writers readied themselves to meet their makers literary agents.

What a relief to be on the other side of the pitch-practice table, helping the twitchy-eyed!

What I learned on the other side of the table:

1. Despite the fact that I don’t know much of anything, come to find out that I do. I don’t retain facts. You ask me to talk in bullet points about the three basic elements of a pitch, and my mind will go blank. Yet, when I sat with the amped-up budding authors, I entered into a state of recognition. As they talked, I recognized what felt wrong about their pitches and what felt right. I’d put up a hand, interrupt them, “Right there! That’s your hook! Start with that. The rest is backstory, and the agent won’t care.” I surprised myself. I do know stuff, and I can help people out, and that felt great.

2. Forget Twitter and Facebook, apparently Google+ will endow us with super-duper powers of self-promotion. Yeah, didn’t get this…In fact, my head spun during sessions about nifty topics such as platform-building, tactical social engagement, and advanced keyword searches. The self-proclaimed web warrior guy (he knew his stuff…but oh. my. god) told us that to do it right we needed to spend hours a day online. SO WHEN ARE WE SUPPOSED TO WRITE, BUDDY?

3. So the thing about Google+? We’re supposed to be over there because when we’re using it, our posts automatically rise to the top of Google searches. Something like that anyhow. I think. See Martin Shervington on YouTube for more information. <shrug> I’m still getting the hang of Twitter.

4. Use a book landing page. One of the presenters discussed an experiment he performed. He had an Amazon book page, and he also had a dedicated book page on his website with a link to the Amazon page. He found that when he sent people to his dedicated page (say from Twitter, Facebook, a blog post, or a Facebook ad) rather than directly to the Amazon page, he was twice as likely to sell a copy of his book. Interesting, right? His theory was that Amazon is dedicated to selling anything–it doesn’t care whether it’s a “Dance the Macarena” VHS tape or your book–but your book landing page is you and only you, baby.

I'll remember this next year.
I’ll remember this next year.

5. Last but not least, never leave home without your cajun spices. No one expects five-star food at a conference, but come on, Airport Sheraton, you could have done better than that! The food was–ready for another great word?–inexecrable (“deserving of being cursed”). Evan Lewis, an old-hand in the pitch-practice room (not to mention a fab short story writer) brought his cajun spice with him. Bland, runny scrambled eggs made from an egg-like liquid product? Cajun spice! Vegetables drowning in a suspicious-looking “cream” sauce? Cajun spice!

I had fun. Just that. It’s grand being on the other side of the table–and with KILMOON debut novel postcards too!

AUTHOR PHOTO 101 | 5 Reasons I’m Not a Model (Besides the Obvious)

contact_sheetLast month, I rallied myself and three dear friends for an author photo shoot. For weeks, I’d been dreading it yet looking forward to ticking the task off my to-do list. I engaged the girly-girl talents of K and C to do my hair and makeup.

One peek at myself with makeup on, and I couldn’t believe it. I looked damned good. I couldn’t help but lament my cluelessness all these years and vowed to start wearing a little eyeliner and mascara at the very least. Lesson learned: primer coats don’t only apply to house painting.

J, the photographer, sported a camera with a portrait lens about two feet long. Poor guy had to contend with 90-plus degree heat (the hottest weekend this year as luck would have it) and me jabbering and fooling around. We were lucky to get a good image before my makeup started melting.

By the end of the day, I discovered that even if I were 16 and a raging ectomorph, I could never be a model because:

1. I don’t take direction well. I don’t know how many times J told me to hold still and stop talking. The photo session brought out my inner six year old.

2. I goof off too much. Come to find out that I haven’t outgrown my tendency to ham it up. This, too, is a leftover from my girlhood. But hamming it up does not a good model make.

Now this is slouching!
Now this is slouching!

3. I don’t get makeup. After the primer coat, K put about five other layers of “naturalistic” makeup on me. She called her brush strokes “shading,” “contouring,” and good old “masking,” which was a nice way of saying hiding the purple shadows beneath my eyes. Don’t ask me what she did with eyeshadow. All I know it that my image in the mirror showed a woman with gynormous, popping-out-of-my-head blue eyes. Even the photographer said, “Whoa.”

4. I don’t slouch becomingly. When a model slouches, she may look like a contorted preying mantis, but she’s a bloody gorgeous, avant garde preying mantis. I just look like I’ve got scoliosis and no neck.

5. I refuse to take off my glasses. I like my glasses, but high fashion they are not.

Drum roll, please…Here’s the winning photo that will appear on my cover jacket!


COFFEEHOUSE TIME | The Art of Showing Up

I've written many a blog post in coffeehouse time
I’ve written many a blog post in coffeehouse time too.

A few weeks ago, Ramona DeFelice Long, fearless leader of the How Many Pages Did You Write Today? Facebook group asked us when we write best. In an ideal world, I’d awaken when I’m well-rested (wouldn’t that be fabulous?), and with coffee in hand, write through the morning when my brain’s fresh and my inner critic is still asleep.

Alas, my life isn’t ideal for writing at the moment. Too much day-job. I’m working on this–believe you me I am!–but for now I have to employ tricks to make time for fiction. One of my favorite tricks is the coffeehouse. Thinking about Ramona’s question, I realized that I have a special time called “coffeehouse time.” Actual clock time doesn’t matter. Settling myself at a coffeehouse automatically transitions my brain into writing mode.

There have been many coffeehouses over the years. Sometimes I sit outside.
There have been many coffeehouses over the years. Sometimes I sit outside.

It’s equivalent to falling asleep as soon as I settle into an airplane seat. After oodles of travel, I’ve trained my brain to knock off.

Sometimes the décor could use a little help.
Sometimes the décor could use a little help.

Same thing with coffeehouses, except I’ve trained my brain to fiction on. It’s basically the art of showing up. These days I’m doing my best to show up for my work-in-progress called GREY MAN. I feel sorry for it because between the day-job, my aged mom, life in general, and debut novel tasks, I’ve been neglecting it.

Here’s an example of coffeehouse time in action: It’s the end of the day, and all I want to do is chillax in front of the telly, maybe watch an episode of “Dexter.” After that, the novel I’m currently reading beckons. There’s nothing wrong with going to bed at eight to read for two hours, is there? Naaah…And that’s how it goes. Maybe I’m fundamentally unfocussed or distractible or lazy or undisciplined, but at times like that there’s no way I’m going to write if I stay at home. Once I force myself out the door, into the car and then into a coffeehouse, fancy that, I’m fine. I may need to stare out the window for a bit, but that’s OK. I’ve shown up.

Sometimes there's a shop dog. (This is Kodi.)
Sometimes there’s a shop dog. (This is Kodi.)

That’s coffeehouse time. It works for me. And we do whatever works to get our writing in, don’t we?

Sometimes I resort to red wine.
Sometimes I resort to red wine.

Any time’s a good time to write when I’m in a coffeehouse. No ideal world necessary!

APPLIED FICTION | Like Applied Mathematics Only Not

The Professor in a authorial pose.
The Professor in a authorial pose.

Two days ago I ran into one of my favorite coffeehouse friends. We’ve been running into each other for years in coffeehouses all over town. I call him The Professor, because that’s what he is — a brainiac ex-academic with a neverending treatise about what makes humans human. Three volumes so far. He’s a man of many spoken words, too, so when I decide to join him, I’m committed for an hour. I never know what profundity, nonsensical or not, will gush out of his mouth. Sometimes I wave my hands in his face to stem the tide. (He doesn’t mind — maybe he’s used to it.)

He sat at his usual table with his Mac, an ACE bandage, a used straw, an onion, and a jar of pickles. He offered me a pickle and got to talking about a friend who needed writers for a super-secret contract writing gig, which, of course, he couldn’t reveal or else he’d have to kill me. But it’s a great idea, he said. Innovative. Proprietary. He showed me the online job ad, which said things like, “Can you write colorful stories with no colors?”

Then he said, “You might call it applied fiction.”

“Applied fiction? You mean to say metafiction?”

No, he meant applied fiction. Like applied mathematics only with storytelling.


I barely know what applied mathematics is except to say “statistics.” Statistics is an example of applied mathematics (I think).

“So,” I said, “applying fictional methods to…?”

He’s got twinkly eyes does The Professor, especially when he’s cracking himself up. “It’s kind of like you telling a story to the rug so that it will vacuum itself.”


Is that kind of like me telling a story to the blank page so that a fiction (or blog) idea will generate itself?

And if applied fiction exists, does theoretical fiction exist also? Oh wait, that’s a no-brainer. I could blog endlessly about theoretical fiction, a.k.a. fabulous stories that I never write because I’m too busy vacuuming the rug.

HYPHEN-MANIA | Or, How I Got B-Slapped* by My Copyeditor

(source: grammarpartyblog.com)

(*where “b-slapped” is a hyphen-manic word such that “b” stands in for the witch-rhyming word.)

After last week’s post, I promised I’d write something lighthearted this week. What could be better than hyphens? Those slivers of punctuationary (yes, I just made up an adjective) yumminess that allow for all manner of over-the-top compound modifiers, not to mention nouns you’d never find in the dictionary–(that’s supposed to be an em-dash, NOT, no-way-ever, a hyphen) like hyphen-mania, which as you might have guessed, is not to be mistaken for hyphen-phobia.

I used to think that I was a semi-colon* person, and secondarily, an em-dash (should that hyphen be there? I like the looks of it, so yes) person. I knew I had an issue with semi-colons when a friend informed me that using semi-colons within dialogue quotes was idiotic. “We don’t talk in semi-colon; just use a period,” he said.

Frankly, I thought what he’d said was a wonderfully semi-colon-ish (aaah, there are my pretty hyphens) set of statements. Talk about being in denial. After a sweat-soaked internal struggle, I gripped my mouse and fixed the dialogue before sending the manuscript to the copyeditor. I use em-dashes semi-correctly, so I thought I was safe.

But no! I have a hidden addiction. An insidious-sneaky-little-devil of an affliction. You inject a hyphen once, and before you know, you’re injecting them anywhere at anytime, leaving a swath of overwrought-and-trying-too-hard phrases behind you.

I had to accept my problem, face it head-on (kind-of), and accept my copyeditor’s sponsorship. Not that I don’t relapse, of course, but with her around, I hope to present many a hyphen-happy novel to the world…(Ellipses are good. I like ellipses, too, but I tend to avoid them in my fiction.)

To that end, Ms. Copyedit-trix, she b-slapped me from page 1 to page 369. Here are a few of the many ways I succumbed to my addiction: (Hi, Colon, didn’t want to ignore you!)


hen-pecked –> should be –> henpecked
mid-air —-> midair
wolf-like —-> wolflike
under-lit —-> underlit
old-world —-> Old World


bog-hole —-> bog hole
web-porn —-> web porn
sofa-bed —-> sofa bed
line-up —-> lineup
screw-up —-> screwup
half-mile —-> half mile

yet: hardass —-> hard-ass (my kind of word, hugs to you, Hyphen!)


re-shingle —-> reshingle
over-think —-> overthink

Even Interjections!

ah-ha —-> aha


Thankfully, no. Throw me out of the writing tribe if I ever use a hyphen after an -ly adverb. Even I know better than to write that kind of badlywritten badly written prose.

What about you, any punctuation addictions you’re ready to confess?

*Mmm-hmm, don’t you be yanking out my hyphen!

UPDATE | Mom’s Dementia

mom_birthday“I swear, my memory lasts two seconds,” Mom said, leaning forward with a big smile.

We sat at her favorite restaurant, Ruby Tuesday’s. Her days of fine dining with my restaurateur dad are long gone. She’s comfortable at this chain restaurant. She never gets tired of it. As she says, “I haven’t eaten at Ruby Tuesday’s in ages,” even if it has only been two weeks since our last dinner out.

Since my last blog post about Mom, she quickly went down hill. We went through a hellish year in which she kept getting lost while driving and kept giving her social security and credit card numbers to shysters. We kept believing her when she said she had a grip on things, that this time she would remember not to answer the phone when strangers called and not to drive anywhere that wasn’t inside her safety zone.

Finally, we had to accept reality, and she had to accept our intervention. She no longer drives or manages her own money. We hired a caretaker to come around during the day. My sister buys her groceries, and I take her to her doctor’s appointments.

The thing about it is, she’s lost so much memory that she’s no longer anxious about it. This is a relief, in a way, but it’s also heartbreaking. She used to rail against her condition. Now she doesn’t seem to care much.

Last night I arrived at her house to search for memorabilia from my dad’s restaurateur days. I was asked to write a guest blog for the fantastic Jungle Red Writers blog. (If you read crime fiction, you’ve got to check it out!) I was honored, and I also panicked because I needed my dad’s famous coffee toffee pie recipe for the blog post. Of course, my mom couldn’t remember where the memorabilia was stored–or even what I was talking about. And I couldn’t find it. Which meant she might have thrown it out, not remembering its significance to us daughters.

I could feel myself freezing up like I do when I’m upset and frustrated. But I couldn’t bitch at Mom. How could I? I gave up the hunt, and we went to Ruby Tuesday’s. I re-explained the importance of the memorabilia, especially the recipe. She blinked, apparently startled. “Oh, we should find that stuff for you.”

“Yes, Mom, I already looked, and I couldn’t find it. Don’t worry, I’ll ask Nicole. She probably has it.” (Crossing my fingers…)

Mom’s gaze clouded over. Now befuddled, she turned the menu over and back. “What do I want to eat?”

She’d decided on the shrimp parmesan pasta not two minutes previously. I reminded her. She said, “I swear, my memory lasts two seconds.”

As always, she beamed as she said it. As always, she went on to joke that her crappy memory sure comes in handy when she’s watching Law & Order reruns.


P.S. My sister, Nicole, who lives in California, scanned everything I need to write the Jungle Reds guest post. Whew! Look for it this Sunday.

A Dash of Sociopathy Anyone?

psychtodayA few weeks ago I bought Psychology Today. The cover blared, “Confessions of a Sociopath.” The cashier glanced at me, then down at the cover, and said, “Be careful, you might learn something.”

Hah! I thought. I wish.

I’m jesting, but not entirely.

The author of the article is high-functioning, successful, and a church volunteer. As I read the article, I couldn’t help but wonder what my life would be like if I leaned toward the sociopathic end of the spectrum. I’m not talking violence here. Most (or maybe only many) sociopaths aren’t violent, or even bad people, per se, but they are manipulators with a lack of affect. Everything they do is for a reason, and that reason is self-serving. They mimic us “empaths” surprisingly well, most of the time. They are our neighbors.

As I was saying, I got to wondering what a little sociopathy would feel like. Because, let’s face it, sociopaths aren’t bogged down by caring about others’ feelings or opinions. They’re often fearless. They aren’t prone to depression (my issue) in large part because they have such a super-inflated sense of their own superiority.

Wow, must be liberating. Where would I be now in my writing career if I’d always known my novels were superior? If I hadn’t despaired about whether I had writing talent? If I hadn’t let others’ opinions (especially those in the power seat like literary agents) erode my confidence?

Soon enough I’ll be needing to talk about KILMOON with some kind of authority–as if I really know what I’m talking about! Yee gads…I just write, folks. Do I know what I’m doing half the time? Not really.

This is where a dash of sociopathy might come in handy. Then I’d fearlessly talk up my fabulous novel without a care in the world, not to mention stare down anyone who dared to disagree with me.

If you’re curious about the sociopathic life, check out www.sociopathworld.com. Great fodder for character (as in fictional) building!

GOOD NEWS | I’m Officially a Debuting Novelist

KILMOON takes place in western Ireland. Old burial grounds like this provided tons of inspiration.
KILMOON takes place in western Ireland. Old burial grounds like this provided tons of inspiration.

(Read more about the novel here: KILMOON)

Yep, that’s me: debuting novelist! I’ve been debuting myself in my imagination for years, so it’s strange to be here with a baby book on its way through a gestation cycle — editing, and interior design, and cover design. Exciting!

My authorial cycle is just as hectic. Here’s the immediate to-do list:

1. New website. My current website is pretty stale now. Needs a revamp. So I need to find a website designer, decide on content, write that content…

2. Author photo! If you’re anything like me, the thought of having your photo taken — especially an official photo — doesn’t send you over the moon with enthusiasm. First there’s the pose. Shall I sit with chin on fist, looking contemplative? Or how about with arms crossed in an I’m-a-serious-writer pose? To be honest, I picture myself at a pub with a Guinness standing proud before me. Perhaps with a Guinness and with chin on fist?

And what about wardrobe? I might have to buy a few new tops, and I don’t like clothes shopping. Makeup?! Yee gads. I’m also not a fan of makeup, but I might need to buy — foundation? Hmm…I’d better ask for advice from my girly-girl girlfriends.

3. Last bits of the manuscript: acknowledgments, dedication, author bio. The acknowledgments are challenging because I’ve been revising the novel for years (off and on). I can’t remember everyone who provided feedback or research information. Lesson learned for the second novel: keep an acknowledgments list!

4. Figure out social networking, for real. It might help if I blogged consistently, eh? I hereby and with sincere hope vow to write a blog post once a week. (What’s today? Wednesday? So, every Wednesday? Do any of you dear readers have an opinion about which days are the best blogging days?)

Facebook – check. (Come find me if you’d like!) Do I REALLY need a Facebook author page? I’d better ask around.

Over the weekend, I Twitter-ized myself. Getting familiar with that. Just learned that “RT” means “retweet.” That’s a good start.

I think I might join Goodreads because I’ve been meaning to anyhow. And that’s it. No Tumblr or Pinterest or whatever the latest social-media outlet is. (I do need to finish revising the second novel in the series, after all.)

5. Most important: keep writing! It’s way too easy to get sidetracked by social media and the business side of writing. I’m feeling pressure to be out there in the see-and-be-seen way. I’m the friendly sort, so this isn’t too hard–and I like meeting new people. (Just yesterday I virtually met Kristopher of bolobooks.com, a book reviewer–nice and smart reviewer!) However, since I’m the easily distracted type, this could be problematic.

There are more tasks, but I’m feeling a wee bit exhausted having written up my top five. OK, off to write the acknowledgments!

BOOT CAMP | Productivity for the Wayward Writer

Industrious BeeLast month I had a dream, and in this dream a voice that sounded distressingly like Tom Cruise’s said, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”

“…is to get your shit together…”

I woke up, panicked for a millesecond, rolled over, and fell back to sleep. Even though I forgot about the dream until I started writing this blog post, I found myself restarting this patient old blog of mine. Most of all, I found myself reading a book called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.

I know — me, reading a personal productivity book. Those of you who know me can start laughing now. And those of you who don’t know me personally, well, imagine a woman who’s never composed a three-month plan never mind a five-year plan, who scribbles the latest important thought on her cable bill and then tosses it on top of a random paper pile, and who prides herself on her organizational skills when she jots down a dentist appointment in her At-A-Glance appointment book.

You can start laughing now.

Now roar: I bought a labeller. Yes, I now play at being anal retentive by sticking tidy labels to manila folders filled with scribbled-upon cable bills and other random stuff. For the first time in years, my kitchen pass-through counter is paper-free. It’s an amazing expanse of creamy counter top, and every time I look at it, I smile with self-satisfaction.

I have an in-box! I have a pending box! I can actually work at my desk!

All of this is prelude to the big thing, which as usual has to do with my writing life. My writing life has sucked lately. And when I’m not doing what’s in my heart to do, my life feels meaningless. And when it feels meaningless, I get depressed. Depression has been a huge part of my life. More than I like to admit, actually. So much so that I detest it when well-meaning but completely ignorant folks tell me to “just do it.” Those of you who deal with depression know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you? Those of you who don’t are probably wondering what the big deal is about saying “just do it.”

But this post isn’t about depression. It’s about productivity. Bzz-buzzing like a bee in my life. The big thing is on the horizon, and it’s all about my novel called A BONE-STREWN GROUND. No announcement yet, things pending, all that…but suffice to say that I need to have my shit together. I need to get my writing routines and habits back in sync with the writer I know myself to be. I need to maximize the very little time I have with the very little energy I seem to have these days…

So I signed up for an online boot camp workshop for writers. Six weeks of getting my arse kicked in the name of liberating myself from my worst habits and rationalizations, and working around (and accepting!) legit time suckers like earning a living. My drill sergeant and cheerleader, Lisa Romeo, will hold me accountable to my weekly writing goals, and if I don’t reach my goals, we’ll hash out why and what I can change. Every week offers lessons and ideas for improvement.

I’m ready for this. I really am. For awhile now I haven’t felt like a writer, specifically, a novelist. I feel good when I feel like a novelist. And life’s too short not to feel good, right?