What I'm Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  This will be my last post here for the next THREE WEEKS. I've got one of my bestest friends coming to visit me this week for Thanksgiving, and right after she leaves, I'm heading to Cabo San Lucas for my usual December trip.

Before I unplug – and in the spirit of the holiday – here are ten things I'm thankful for:

10. My new computer, which so far has no bugs, glitches, or anything else wrong with it.

9. Supportive fellow bloggers and writers, who make this writing journey fun and rewarding. You guys rock.

8. My writing room, which is a quiet, peaceful, and beautiful place to work.

7. My Kindle, which lets me carry whole worlds around in one compact device.

6. The typing class I took in high school, which helps me to write almost as fast as I think.

5. My cats, the small bundles of fur who soak up all my angst and neurotic fears, and only ever want belly rubs and kisses in return.

4. My agent and editor, who are making my writing dreams come true.

3. My warm house, the food in my fridge, my big bed, and a car that always has gas in it.

2. My family and friends, who always the know the right thing to say and the right time to say it.

1. My amazing husband and partner, who lets me write as much as I want to, who's always interested in hearing about what I worked on each day, who understands my moods and crazy work hours, who leaves me alone when I need to be left alone, who always holds my hand when we're out, and who never tells me I look bad even when my hair is frizzy and I'm tired.
What are you thankful for? Tell me here, or tell me at Killer Chicks. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving (if you celebrate it), and I'll see you back here on Monday, December 13! 

First Line Friday: Cherub edition

Before I get going on this week's edition of First Line Friday, I'd like to send a shout-out to Julie Geistfeld, who just sent me the most amazing Teavana gift pack for being one of the winners of her Tea & Sympathy contest. Thanks, Julie! You rock!

Okay, here's today's picture. Tell me what this angel is thinking.

"I hate it when Mom is late. I can't wait till I'm big enough to fly home all by myself."

Now you go! Remember, no critiquing. Just have fun!

(And don't forget to swing by Killer Chicks, where we're asking what question you would ask your favorite author if you could.

Have a great weekend!

Big dreams

Just about every response to my Champagne wishes and caviar dreams post yesterday at Killer Chicks made me smile.  I'm glad I'm not the only one who dreams big.  Because really, what's wrong with wanting it all?  What's wrong with imagining the impossible?  What's wrong with putting just a little bit of that creative energy – the same energy that fuels our work – into allowing ourselves to imagine What If?

It was two years and three months ago (August 2008) when I was staring at the first 10,000 words of my story.  I was overwhelmed.  I had a million ideas and wasn't sure I could pull it off... but what if I could?  What if I actually finished this story?  Five months later, I had a completed first draft.

Then I dreamed of having a polished manuscript.  How great would it be to have a book that was finished All The Way?  What if I could have a version of this novel with no typos, no messy plot lines, and decent character development?  Even if it never got published, what a tremendous accomplishment it would be to have written, revised and polished a novel.  Six revisions and ten months later, I had a clean manuscript.

And then I thought, I don't think this book completely sucks.  In fact, what if it's actually pretty good?  Maybe if I query it, I'll get an agent.  Three months later, I got The Call.

And even though I knew what the odds were of this novel selling, I thought, what if it does sell?  What if, despite the crappy economy, despite my agent's warnings that fiction is a tough market, and despite being an unknown, a publisher actually wants to buy it?  So I allowed myself to imagine it.  I imagined getting a call from my agent telling me I was getting published.  I imagined myself as a debut novelist.

And guess what... that happened, too.

I think we should always dream big.  We might never get the mansion and the personal cabana boy and Angelina Jolie on speed dial, but it's cool to dream about it.  Because even if that dream never materializes, what does happen is usually more than good enough.

What's your writing dream?

Mine's really, really big. Is yours?

Don't tell me here, tell me at Killer Chicks, where I'm writing about champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

Click HERE and see you there!

Ten reasons to love AMC's The Walking Dead

10. It's about zombies.

9. It's on right after Dexter (on a different channel), which makes for a perfect Sunday evening of TV-watching.

8. With only six episodes this season, a lot happens in an hour.

7. It's appropriately gory. You can't have a series about zombies – who EAT people – and always fade to black during the eatin' parts!

6. It stars Andrew Lincoln, who's from one of my all-time favorite movies, Love Actually.

5. It's character-driven.

4. There's a love triangle.

3. It explores issues like race, infidelity, friendship, survival, betrayal, spousal abuse, and gender roles.

2. It's surprisingly funny. "The world ended. Didn't you get the memo?"

1. If you get addicted (which you will), no worries. It's coming back for a second season!

Do you watch THE WALKING DEAD? Do you enjoy it as much as I do?

(Psst... my blog buddy Caitlin Darrell is having a Magical Giveaway! Click HERE for your chance to win a free book!)

First Line Friday: A cow's life

Thanks so much to Alexia Chamberlynn for the Magical Blogger Award!  You're amazing, Alexia!

I'd also like to take a moment to say how grateful I am for all the support I've received here and at Killer Chicks, and how much I've enjoyed following you guys on your journeys as well.

Let's keep on keeping on!

It's First Line Friday!  What comes to mind when you look at this picture?  It can be the first line of a story, a caption, anything... just let your imaginations go.

Here's mine:
It really was a pleasant life in the meadow... except for the creepy guy with the camera.

Now you go!  Remember, no critiquing.  Just have fun.

Have a great weekend!

Hey Ya!

Today is my day to blog at Killer Chicks.

What do Outkast's song Hey Ya! and the soap opera The Young & the Restless have in common?

Click HERE to find out!

Top Ten Tuesday: Honest scrap award

I'm so honored to receive the Honest Scrap Award from Jessica Hill!  Quite fitting, since it's Tuesday, and I don't yet have a top ten post, AND the award means I should share ten things about myself.

Here I go...

10.  I have an artificial light box shining on my face right now.  I don't think I could survive the Northwest winters without it.

9.  I talk to my cats as if they're people.

8.  My favorite TV shows at the moment are True Blood, Dexter, and The Walking Dead. Yeah, clearly I'm a fan of the horror genre!

7.  I spook easily.

6.  I own a sewing machine.  I can hem shirts and pants and sew buttons, but that's about it.

5.  I'm much rather shop online than shop in stores.

4.  I like baking brownies.

3.  I can think up a Princess Bride quote for almost any occasion.  Let me explain... no, there is too much.  Let me sum up...

2.  I hate making small talk.  It hurts my brain to think of "small" things to say.

1.  I'm addicted to sticking GelaSkins on my electronic devices.  I tell myself it's to protect them, but really, I just think they look funky.

And now, I'll pass this award onto Milo James Fowler, Joann Swanson, and Jennie Bailey!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Jennie Bailey is having a contest!

Don't miss out!  In celebration of reaching 100 followers, Jennie Bailey at Garden Full of Lily is having a contest!


First Line Friday: For the birds

Before I do anything else, I've been really lucky to have won three different contests in the past few weeks, and I wanted to give shout-outs to the fabulous blogger peeps who've been so generous:

Thank you, Jennie Bailey, for the Starbucks gift card!

Thank you, Julie Geistfeld, for the Happy Bunny planner!

Thank you, VR Barkowski, for the Edit & Pitch book package!

You guys make it SO MUCH FUN to be a fellow blogger.

And speaking of contests, don't forget to swing by Killer Chicks for the WINNERS ANNOUNCEMENT!  Three lucky readers have won Amazon gift cards... could one of them be you? 

And now it's time for First Line Friday!

What are these birds talking about?  Give me the first line!

"Gwenda, I didn't say you looked fat, I said you looked fuzzy."

Now you go.  Remember, no critiquing!  Just have fun.

A few updates on CREEP

Hey.  Let's take a break from obsessing about the current WIP and talk about the book that's actually getting published.  (Poor little CREEP.  I didn't mean to neglect you, but the new baby needed lots of attention.)

I finally received my editorial notes last week.  Mind you, I'm not sure if you can even call it that.  I've been reading about authors receiving giant, complicated editorial letters that took them weeks to get through, but my manuscript came back with only 15 or so tiny little things to fix.  A repeated phrase here and there, a few things that needed more emphasis, that type of thing.  I was genuinely surprised!  It only took me about 90 minutes to make sure everything was perfect (and it probably would have taken no more than an hour had I not been so anal), and then I emailed the manuscript back to my editor.  I'm told this fulfills the "delivery and acceptance" part of my contract, so I can expect my second check from S&S fairly soon.  Woo hoo!

Then a couple of days ago I wrote my Dedication and Acknowledgments pages.  Holy moly, was this ever hard!  It's not easy to think up different ways to thank people without sounding totally repetitive.  Took me a whole afternoon to write a few really short paragraphs and get the wording just right. 

I also got confirmation that the book will be available in Canada.  I was kinda worried about this – you just never know how it's going to be marketed, and what a bummer it would have been if my family and long-time friends weren't able to head over to the local bookstore and get a copy.  But that's not going to be the case!  This news made me really happy.

My editor also mentioned the possibility of there being a reading guide at the back of my book.  I don't know if this is going to happen for sure, but HOW GREAT WOULD THAT BE!  My book could be a book club book!  Imagine that!  She said the book has a lot of interesting issues (like sex addiction) that could make for some thoughtful discussions.

Not sure what's next in the process, but I'll bet it'll be just as exciting – and fun! – as everything else has been up to this point.  Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with my editor and agent.  They're both really supportive and really positive.

Everyone should be so lucky.

The art of selecting a book

It's my day to post at Killer Chicks, and I'm talking about my book-buying thought process.

Read my post HERE and let me know what goes through your mind when choosing a book!

What I feel after a first draft

10. Giddiness. "Yay, I'm done!" (happy dance happy dance booty shake)

9. Relief. "So glad I finished." (slump back into chair)

8. Fatigue. "Wow, I'm tired." (yawn)

7. More fatigue. "My brain's totally fried." (go lie down somewhere)

6. Even more fatigue. "I don't think I can move." (continue to lie like a slug)

5. Anxiety. "The draft is shitty. What if I can't fix it?" (sit straight up in alarm)

4. Panic. "Of course it's shitty. And I'm not going to be able to fix it." (heart palpitations)

3. Fear. "I can't even look at it." (back on the computer, on the verge of tears)

2. Loathing. "I hate this book. It's terrible." (contemplate deleting it)

1. Uncertainty. "Maybe it's not so bad." (read over a decent passage, feel a glimmer of hope)

It's a writer's life. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. Would you?

(p.s. Are you Nano-ing? JB Lynn is discussing plotters, pantsers, and paradigm-ers at Killer Chicks!)

The end is really just the beginning

I finally finished the first draft of my current novel. 98,255 words and 366 pages.  YAY!  It happened late Friday night after what I call a "PUSH PUSH PUSH!" session.  Sometimes writing is inspired, sometimes it's sweat, and sometimes it's just running on fumes.

The main thing I feel is relief.  There was a moment or two of giddiness, and then... relief.

The story ended well (I think), but there are so many things that need to be fixed, so I can't leave the draft to marinate just yet.  While the story has a beginning, middle and an end, it's far from perfect, and I'm talking about big things, not little things.  It'll probably take most of November to get the manuscript structured properly, so while many of you are in the depths of NaNoWriMo, I'll be fixing and shifting and restructuring and fleshing out.

Speaking of which, happy first day of NaNo to those who are taking the plunge!  I'll be checking in on all of you and rotting rooting you on! 

Be sure to check in at Killer Chicks today to let us know what you've got going on this week.  And, THANKS TO ALL who entered our first contest!  We got some fabulous flash fiction entries, which you can read HERE.  The contest is now closed and we'll announce the winner this Friday!