Archive for November, 2009


The Harlequin Debate: Made Simple

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

By now, I’m sure most of you are sick of hearing about the Harlequin controversy that’s going on right now, with the launch of their new vanity press. If you haven’t heard about it… clearly you’ve been living under a rock without internet access to check your blog feeds, because honey, this is BIG.

And  if you’re like me, you might have read all the press releases, blog posts, rantings, and gone… “Huh?”

At first, I thought “isn’t everyone just blowing this a bit out of proportion?”

This morning, I read a few more posts about it, and began to change my tune. What helped me understand the whole thing was a post over at Jackie Kessler’s blog, where she breaks it down in a fictional dialogue between a writer and the Harlequin vanity line.

If you’re looking for a clear and concise outline of what’s going down, please head over there and read that post. Then, feel free to rant and rave all you want:

–> The Day After: Harlequin Blinks <–

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Living Every Month Like Shark W… er, NaNoWriMo

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

This week, I have a lot on my plate. I wanted to hit 50k by Sunday night (didn’t do it, as I was sick for most of last week), and I want to outline/write/edit/submit two short stories by November 30th, both of which still need everything done on them.

Naturally, I started freaking out. “But I wanted to finish the novel this month, not just hit the word count!” I lamented. “I’m failing, I just can’t do both…”

Which in turn spurred the wise words of my husband, Mr. Practical (and also Mr. Calm-Down-You’re-Overreacting-Again-Faith): “Faith, every month is NaNoWriMo for you, so it doesn’t matter if you finish the novel or not. You’re going to keep writing at this pace regardless, because that’s how you’ll develop your career… so just do what you can and don’t stress yourself out.”

Ah, easier said than done. But he did make a good point: Writing a lot means accomplishing a lot, and if I don’t stop writing every day, the novel will get finished one way or another, regardless. And, I can switch over and write the short stories this month without worrying (apparently).

So, every month is National Novel Writing Month. Okay, maybe not 50,000 words on the same story, but if I write 50,000 words every month just in general… that’ll still be a lot of work accomplished.

Have you ever totalled up all the writing you do in a month?

I’m talking: blogging, writing-related social networking, newsletters or writing-related emails, edits (words that are added), outlining, notes you take on the various books you read, AND your WIP.

Try it for a month. I challenge you to open a Word document for December and copy/paste every piece of writing you do that somehow relates to writing (social networking on writing blogs counts!). I think at the end of the month, you’ll be shocked at how much writing you actually do, not to mention have a visual of where the majority of your time was spent.

I’d be willing to be that you’re living every month like NaNoWriMo too… just maybe not focusing all your energies on one specific novel. You’re constantly doing NaNoWriMo, just not under that particular name… maybe, NaWriMo (National Writing Month), over and over again.

I’d say that’s pretty darn encouraging.

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Book Review: ‘Hush Hush’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Hush Hush – Becca Fitzpatrick (YA)

Becca Fitzpatrick has done an excellent job of cornering the teen market in her novel, ‘Hush Hush’. It provides the romance of Twilight, the urban edge of City of Bones, and a unique kind of characterization that we don’t often see these days: an independent female protagonist who questions herself, and doesn’t simply give into her emotions. She’s stubborn, determined, and cautious — and our male MC, Patch, is mysterious enough to keep you turning the pages long after everyone else in the house has gone to bed.

I was fortunate enough to be able to read this as an ARC through the First Look program at B&N, and I hear there’s an alternate ending which we didn’t get in our version. And you know what? I enjoyed the book enough to go out and buy a copy, to support this new author’s work. I can’t wait to read more from her… if you have someone in your life who enjoys YA — or if you do, yourself — do yourself a favor and pick this one up!

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NaNo… Halfway!

   Posted by: Faith    in NaNoWriMo

As you know, NaNoWriMo is well underway… and so far, I’m setting a personal record for how much I’ve written up to this point. I wanted to try and finish the novel within the month, and I might actually do it… or at least just about finish it. It’s great, but I’ve learned a few things already about my working habits, being an ML, and writing this story…

1) Three write-ins a week is too much.

Now I know why even the bigger regions only tend to have two every week! Or, if they schedule more than two, the ML doesn’t kill his/herself trying to get to all of them. I wanted to make sure I could accomodate everyone by having so many write-ins at multiple times, but it’s really just too much for me. It’s a lot of time away from my home, husband, regular work, and other hobbies. Two a week would be perfect, especially since each one runs for three hours. I know better now for next year.

2) When I get stuck… I don’t have to keep doing the same thing.

Earlier this week, my story was stalled. Drastically. I had no idea what to do next, because I wasn’t connecting properly with the MC. So, what did I finally figure out? I decided to change POVs. I decided to tell the story from the POV of another character, and so far, I’ve unstuck myself. During edits, I don’t know that I’ll choose to keep this in, or if I’ll change the whole story over to one person or another, but in the meantime… it’s keeping me writing, and that’s what matters.

3) I need to take breaks.

If I’m writing and really in the zone, I’ll forget to stop and eat. I won’t stand up and stretch, and I think – if my eyes are any indication – I won’t blink as regularly as I should. Health professionals recommend that you get up and take a break from your computer every hour… two days ago, I stared at my computer screen for nearly 6 hours non-stop, and ended up with a very severe tension migraine to show for it. It’s still not gone. The last time I got one of these stress-induced headaches, I had to cancel a vacation and take a ‘stress leave’ from work/life for a few months. Pretty sure it was the same thing this time, and I really can’t afford to take a break… so, moral of the story…

Slow down, take breaks, and don’t push yourself beyond what your body can handle.

Yes, I know it’s NaNo, and yes, I know we’re all gunning for 50k… but please, don’t give up your health or endanger it just for the sake of word count. Be good to yourself, and get up and walk away from the screen every once in awhile. If you just have to keep writing, grab a pen and paper and write that way for a little bit.

I know we’re only halfway, but I don’t want anyone to come to the end of the month a nervous wreck or suffering from carpal tunnel because they typed for five hours straight without stopping, seven days a week. Or with an iron deficiency. Or migraines. Or any form of sleep deprivation.

Please, take care of yourself. As an ML this year AND a participant, I didn’t realize how much more I’d be pushing myself, and it’s taking a toll. Even if you’re not doing NaNo this year, take care of yourself.

Have some tea. Sit in silence and breathe deeply. Pray. Watch the leaves fall, and smile at the antics of squirrels as they scramble to stock up food and build nests for the winter. Pet your cat, or take the dog for a walk. Bake some cookies and brainstorm about your characters. Then get back to writing.

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Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense and Sensibility – Marielle Guiliano (Business)

For a woman entering the business world, it can be a tough slog to figure out the balance between being yourself – ie. a female – and maintaining a tough, can-do attitude in the workplace. Guiliano’s book looks at woman and their place on the corporate ladder, covering everything from your first interviews to being a good, no-nonsense female boss that is still liked by her employees.

For many years, Guiliano worked as the North American head of Veuve Clicquot, a high-end champagne company, and she draws on her experiences in this book, presenting women with anecdotes, advice, and hints on how to achieve success in the business world without compromising things like friends, family, and the pleasures in life that bring you happiness.

While I’m not a corporate businesswoman, nor do I have any interest in a business career, any woman at any stage of her life (or career!) could benefit at some level from Guiliano’s advice – I found it refreshing to read a business book from a woman who refuses to compromise her own happiness at the expense of her career, but who also refuses to give up her career simply because being a female executive is difficult and requires sacrifice.

Guiliano recommends facing challenges head-on, maximizing the opportunities for happiness and pleasure in your life, and getting ahead without losing sight of what’s really important to you.

I may not be a businesswoman, but I certainly came away from this book feeling encouraged, challenged, and grateful for the time spent reading it.

(Galley courtesy of Atria Books)

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NaNoWriMo… Year 3!

   Posted by: Faith    in NaNoWriMo

So, it’s my third year doing National Novel Writing Month. I’m running the show in our community this year, and while it was kind of hectic and insane to figure everything out at first, I’m breathing easier now that the month has started. Plus, we seem to have a great group of people — at least, that’s what I gathered from the kick-off!

Tonight is our first write-in, which I’m looking forward to. A pile of writers, huddled at their laptops, clutching mugs of coffee, in the middle of a small cafe? I anticipate at least a few curious onlookers and perhaps even some questions.

Thus said, my posts may be even more sporadic for the month, beyond word count updates and the occasional book review. But never fear! I shall return with plenty of insights (ie. my own ramblings) once November rolls itself out of existence for another year. Then, I’ll have lots of self-editing and revisions to do… so I have no doubt there’ll be posts concerning that as well.

If you’re NaNo-ing this year, good luck to you! If you’re working on other projects this November, I hope it’s smooth sailing and you’re able to stay productive! Let’s make this an incredible November, regardless of what we’re working on.

Happy Writing, everyone!