Sunday, November 30, 2014

I'm not dead

I just feel like I wish I were...

I'm sick, hence no post on Friday. This is just a quick note to apologize, and now I'm crawling back under the covers.

Being sick on Thanksgiving sucks, just fyi. Being sick with a baby on Thanksgiving is nearly impossible.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baby Evil Writers 101: Let's talk Nanowrimo

Baby Evil Writers 101: Let's Talk Nanowrimo

Julie Butcher

I know that some of you have been working your poor evil fingers to the bone. You're banging out words faster than McDonalds makes cheeseburgers. And, I am so proud of you! You're actually writing at a pace that you'll need to be a professional writer.

Seriously, GO YOU!

However, don't even begin to think that you can send that puppy out to agents or editors. Not now and not for a very long time. Maybe next September, after you've worked and worked, and cried evil tears.

Not now. Not next week, and not next month. Are we clear on this? Because here at the Evil League of Evil Writers (you'll notice that it says evil twice because we are evil.) we will come for you. We'll send nightmares and laugh when you're rolling about in the pit of despair. When you get rejection after rejection, we will eat cake and celebrate because you'll be getting exactly what you deserve.

Now. If you are a proper minion of evil and edit and edit and edit some more we won't send monsters. We will however still eat cake because it is cake, cake is evil, and we are evil--duh. We will not laugh at you while we eat the cake and isn't that better?

Now, back to your words.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Never Gets Old

Today's post is brought to you by the Discovery Channel, Berroco yarn's newsletter, and viewers like you. (It is also possible I've been watching a little too much PBS programming lately.)

"Never gets old, huh?"


I was going to have this big philosophical comparison to the classics versus cliches, but no matter how I wrote it, it didn't sound like I wanted, so you get a YouTube video instead. Watch it, or the rest of this post won't make sense to you.

Finished? Onward, then.

That video sums up the big philosophical comparison I was trying to make nicely.

No, not the "world is awesome" part, though that does tie in well. The "boom-de-ada" part.

What? There's a piece right there about 37 seconds in where a dude launches a grenade or large caliber projectile at a bunker while singing "boom-de-ada." It's fantastic. He's so happy doing what it is he obviously loves. The whole video is full of writing advice if you look at it.

Now, I'm not going to go through the entire thing for you, but I'll put a few examples here for you:

- The astronauts at the beginning looking at the planet. This is you, the writer. You look down upon the world you created and marvel at everything in it. Unlike the song, you might not love everything in it, but you made it, and that's an awesome thing.

- Different people in different parts of the world singing about what they love. These are your characters. Each of them loves something different. It's your job as a writer to find out what that thing is, then fuck with it. Because that's what makes a good story. Take it away from them, break it, hide it, or give them to it in uncomfortable amounts. The possibilities are endless.

- Catchy song. This is your premise. This is the line in the story that your characters follow, and they all sing the same song, even if they're in different parts of the world and love different things.

There. How's that for a philosophical comparison?

You see, each of your characters wants something, even if it's just a glass of water, and it's up to you not only to screw with that, but to tie that in to the bigger picture. The whole world you created. Don't just focus on that one tiny little corner (that character's want), but how that affects the world around them.

Now, at the same time, don't spend so much time focusing on the world you're building that you don't get to that character's wants. Remember the song...the world is huge and there's a lot of people in it, but they're all singing the same song even though their words and loves are different.

This also isn't to say that you should incorporate EVERYONE'S story into your work. Pick one person in the song and focus on them. Say, the lady in the vid who loves Egyptian kings. What's her story? It could be anything. But her story is part of a larger song, which everyone knows.

See what I'm getting at here? After you tell her story, tell someone else's.

Oh, the yarn? It was their title that got me thinking about it. "Good Design Never Gets Old," which led me to the song...yeah. I could go into another big philosophical thing about knitting a story and threads and yarn and so on, but I think I've philosophized enough for one day. Maybe next time.

One last thing before I go. See what I did there? I turned one little phrase into a whole post. You can do that with anything. This is why people who "want to write" or "have writer's block (WHICH DOESN'T EXIST)" or "need inspiration" make me want to punch them in the face, because it's EVERYWHERE.

Boom-de-ada, bitch!

Friday, November 14, 2014


Here it is, late in the day on my posting day and I'm still trying to find ways to avoid posting. Procrastination. All of us do it at one point or another. It's sort of a fact of life. But you can't let it control you.

For the most part, I'm not a procrastinator. I like having time to get things done and dislike working on a deadline. But, life doesn't always work out the way I want and sometimes I find myself up against a deadline. Fine, so be it.

The problem is when I'm not super inspired by whatever I'm supposed to be working on. I know, I know, waiting for the muse to show up isn't how we're supposed to do things around here.

But it still happens from time to time. So be it. Not that I'm not inspired by this post, but I'm sort of going through a phase, exactly like Kerry described. I don't really feel like I'm qualified to be giving writing advice here sometimes, so I occasionally put off my posts.

So how do I help avoid this kind of procrastination? I put a reminder in my email a couple days ahead of the posting deadline, so that I know to start thinking about topics. And yet... here I am, posting about procrastination :)

The question is, how do you avoid procrastination? Or do you just embrace it and work best under a deadline?

I mean, there are SO many great things to do while procrastinating. Especially on the internet. But even in real life. Reading books, playing with your kids, smooching your partner.

But I think I've done my job here - so now I'm off to embrace the beautiful side of the world on the other side of the deadline. That glorious place where you no longer have to worry about the deadline looming over you. And for me, that's reason enough to avoid procrastinating - the relief of being done!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

If They Only Really Knew...

I've been bad about blogging of late, both here and in other places. Yeah, I've been busy. There are a lot of things on my plate right now in all areas of my life - writing, family, and day job. I could use that as an excuse, but it's not the true one. The fact is, every time I sit down to scribe a writing related post this thought pops into my head:

What makes me think I'm qualified to give writing advice?

Sure, there are days when I think I'm doing good work, but what if on those days I'm delusional? The publishing contract I got with Penguin/Ace? Sheer luck, obviously. My fabulous agent? Either she didn't know what she was getting into, or she took pity on me because she's a nice person. Readers who write to let me know they loved my books? Clearly misguided.

I am an impostor, or so my internal critic wants to tell me.

Since I'm also a mental health counselor I happen to know there is a name for this problem: Impostor Syndrome.

I borrowed this definition from Geek Femininism Wiki:

"Impostor syndrome describes a situation where someone feels like an impostor or fraud because they think that their accomplishments are nowhere near as good as those of the people around them. Usually, their accomplishments are just as good, and the person is applying an unfairly high standard to themself (and not to others). It's especially common in fields where people's work is constantly under review by talented peers..."

Sound familiar? Every writer I know is aiming for perfection. And we are constantly under review by - well - everybody.

Have you ever felt like your successes are all due to luck, kindness on the part of others, or some sort of fluke? Or worried that you're a fraud and others will find out you really aren't a writer after all?

If you ever feel this way, you're in good company. Impostor Syndrome is a common disorder among high achieving, perfectionistic type people.

Even Maya Angelou once said:   “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ ”

Impostor Syndrome can lead to procrastination and prevent us from trying out new opportunities, so I work hard to counteract this kind of thinking. When it comes up I run myself through a little belief challenging exercise, and I thought I'd just share the basic steps with you.

1. Clearly state the belief. In this case, something like: "My writing is horrible and my books do not deserve to be published or read. Therefore I have no business call myself a writer or talking about how to engage with writing."

2. Question the belief. Now you become an investigative journalist (one with integrity; we're not talking Fox news here) This means keeping an open mind and looking into the evidence to see whether the belief is true or not. For example:

An editor saw enough value in my novel to acquire it. Editors are busy people, and they are also business people. They do not have the time to invest in a book just to be nice.

Or, my critique partner believes this book is ready for submission. In the past, she has been perfectly capable of pointing out flaws and weak spots. I believe she is trustworthy and wouldn't lie to me just to be nice.

Now maybe, just maybe, the truth is that your writing isn't ready for publication and the inquiry reveals that. If fifty agents have passed without any positive feedback, or a whole string of editors have passed without any positive feedback, and the only person telling you your story is good is your mother, this could indicate that you have more work to do.

3. Choose to accept or reject the belief. Once you've examined the evidence, what does a clear and logical evaluation tell you? Are you really an impostor and a fraud, or is it possible you're a fairly decent writer with something to contribute?

4. Act accordingly.  Don't let negative self talk hold you back.

If you'd care to read more on this subject, there's a great article about the whole impostor thing right here:  Afraid of Being Found Out? How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Hi. I'm Seleste and I'm a NaNoWriMo addict.

(Hello, Seleste...)

It's November and that means a lot of you are probably writing your little heart out, chasing that elusive 50k. And sometimes, it can seem more elusive than others. One of my dear friends crossed 23,000 words today and her manuscript seems to be flowing out of her like water.

Then there's me at *cough* 13,861.

You read that right. I'm almost 3 days behind.

And I call myself a professional too.

But you know what? It's okay. Even though I'm 99% sure I'll have edits on a different book hitting my inbox sometime this week (which will lose me at least another day), I know I can make up the lost time. Why? Because I won't let myself not make it up.

One of the things I've learned about being a writer is you have to be good under pressure, because even if you are always solid about getting shit done on time or early, sometimes the world conspires against you. When that happens and deadlines loom, you can either buckle under the pressure or you can bust ass a little harder.

One of the things I've learned about myself since becoming an author is I don't like being told I can't do something. I can't possibly make up 3-5 days worth of writing when NaNo is close to half over and I have edits coming? HA! Sit back and watch me!

It's a good trait to have in this business. And it's a really good attitude to have during NaNoWriMo.

You can finish. I don't care if you haven't started yet. Sure, 3k days are tough, but they're totally doable if you really want it. Don't quit because you're behind. Relish in the challenge to make up those words and days. Then bust ass and make it happen.

In the end, if you don't finish your 50k, the only one you have to disappoint is yourself. Do you really want to do that?

(Also, a note: please remember not to send your NaNo novel to any editors or agents right after you finish. Let it sit for a while. Then edit the crap out of it, because no one wants to see your unedited crap...especially not editors and agents.)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Baby Evil Writers 101: When to Query Holiday Edition

Baby Evil Writers 101: When to Query Holiday Edition
Julie Butcher

I know that as darling minions of evil, you're out there typing away and adding millions of words to your manuscript right this very minute.

Take a breath. Breathing is important when you're writing, and not-dying is also good. You have time to breathe because if you have any intention of querying your manuscript, you're not going to do it any time in the near future. There are a lot of holidays between now and next February. You're done querying for this year.

Agents and editors have holidays, too. They wrap presents and bake pies and do all of the normal things that normal people do. You and your shiny manuscript are not at the top of the pile. A lot of agencies close before Christmas and do not reopen until after the New Year.

This is good news my darlings. Now you know so you won't ruin your own holiday clicking your email. THE ANSWER WILL NOT COME. If it does by some wild spin of the universe land in your inbox, the agent or editor will know that you are eating pie and won't expect an immediate reply.

I'm not sure you would even want an agent who would ignore perfectly good pie to write emails. That is wrong on so many levels I just can't.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Clean Up Your Mess


First post of November is MINE, which means I get to write about NaNoWriMo before anyone else here does!

Now, I'll keep this short and sweet, because I've got stuff and things to do, and you've got to get back to your NaNoWriMo wordcount.

I've really only got one thing to say about NaNoWriMo:


Seriously, folks. NaNoWriMo is an exercise in discipline. It's a motivational tool to get you into the habit of meeting a daily wordcount and writing to a deadline. It's about getting the words out and on the page, because no one is going to read a novel you haven't written. 


Once you're finished with NaNoWriMo, you take what you've vomited onto the page and REVISE it. Tweak it. Hone it. You don't just run to Publisher's Marketplace to look for an agent that represents ninja-alien-pirate fiction. (Nor do you run straight to Popular Self-Publishing Platform to upload your opus for OMG!moniez either, but that's not something we here at the ELEW endorse anyway.)

Nor do you put the whole thing up on your blog, or any other website out there. Snippets, sure. Go wild. Tease your audience. But if you're planning on seeking commercial publication with your NaNoWriMo novel (hint: 50,000 words doth not really a novel make – you'll need to add about 20-30k more for a YA-length novel, and about 35-40k more for a standard commercial novel), don't "publish" it anywhere, in any fashion.

So, there you go. My advice on NaNoWriMo. Now get back to your wordcount. You need to make 1667 words today if you're going to stay on target, so turn off the internet and make with the wordage!

-Gothic Goddess

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sugar hangover

Whoops, was supposed to post yesterday - but I got carried away with the whole Halloween thing and forgot to post.

What did you all get up to for Halloween? Massive sugar inhalation?

I find it interesting how holidays have evolved here in the US - a combo of Samhain and All Hallow's Eve turns into an all out grab for candy and crazy costumes.

Not that I'm complaining. At least it isn't as commercial as Christmas has become. Plus I love me some Snickers.

We dressed our baby up in a couple different costumes, just to take pictures, then watched trick or treaters. California actually got some rain last night, amazingly, so there weren't too many brave enough to make it outside in the terrible weather. :)

So, to sum up, that's why I didn't post... too much sugar and adorableness in monster form.

How did you all celebrate?

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