Saturday, December 25, 2010

Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday and New Year

imagesMerry Christmas to all who celebrate and a Happy 2011 to all!

Taking the lead from many of the blogs I follow in my Google Reader, I’m taking a week off from blogging and will be back in 2011. Traffic slows to a crawl online this time of year during the holidays. :)

Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010


Terry3_thumb[1]Here are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter for the past week.  The list will be a little shorter this week because I’m going on tweetcation (most bloggers seem to be taking a break until New Year and the content is pretty scarce.)

If you’re looking for a particular topic, just plug in your keyword into the search box at the top left-hand corner of the blog (on the black header right above my blog name…next to the Blogger symbol…the small search window is next to the magnifying glass) and the roundup with your subject will come up. To narrow your search down on the page, do a CTRL+F, type your subject, and hit enter.

I’m also archiving these posts in what I hope is an easily searchable format—if you look at the Twitterific tabs under the blog’s heading, I’m posting the links there, too.

Resist the Urge to Explain:

Darkly Developing Dexter-A Lesson In The Literary Anti-Hero: Kindle Sales Are Said to Exceed Estimates:

Writers Rally To Support Novelist Charles Bock & His Family:

Tips for Writing Verse Novels:

“Traditional” publishing – let’s just change the definition, shall we?

Keep it real, only more interesting:

Get Over Overstating: Trimming Unnecessary Words:

Key elements of strong fiction:

10 ways to finish that danged first draft: @elspethwrites

Setting writing goals, step 3--finding time to write and writing:

A case for villains:

Using defense mechanisms for characters:

J.K. Rowling and Plot Planning:

A writer's impressions of Twitter: and @authorterryo

A little word play fun: @MermaidHel

Six Pet Hates of An Editor:

The Simple Software That Could -- but Probably Won't -- Change the Face of Writing (The Atlantic):

29 literary films to fill your holidays (LA Times):

Your To-Do List: Knowing Where to Start:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: @CleoCoyle

E-readers breed fondness for other e-readers (LA Times):

The Twelve Days of a Writer's Christmas:

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange will write memoir:

When (or Why) Social Media Fails to Sell Books:

Writing Ebooks: Top 3 Ways to Make Sales:

Balancing the Scenes that Make Up Your Novel:

4 Reasons Every Novelist Can Benefit From Writing a Screenplay:

Setting writing goals, step 2--links to conferences, blogs, and resources to help you improve:

Modeling Protagonists After Real Life Heroes:

Your To-Do List: Knowing Where to Start:

Top 75 Apps for Enhancing Your Facebook Page:

Prologues – this side of hell:

Author Turns Going-Out-of-Print into Act of Charity:

Nice list of writers' conferences in North America for 2011: @Jodie_R_Editing

Getting to the Point with Tom Cruise:

Tailoring Submissions (part 2):

Tips for Reposting an Older Post:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Shrimp and Rice Casserole @CleoCoyle

Words That Sound Like What They Mean, but Aren't Onomatopoeia:

Great Writers Rescue Obama (Daily Beast):

Will all good writers be published? An agent's thoughts:

Google eBooks: a Refresher:

Writing a prologue:

A Gathering of Literary Christmas Cards:

Setting writing goals--step one:

10 Rules of Social Engagement That Will Make or Break Your Blog Readership:

Finding Your Unique Blogging Voice:

Writing with style sheets:

Underlying Motivation – Getting Through the Rough Spots: @joanswan

The Relevance of YA for Adults: The Harry Potter Effect:

This figure of speech isn't dead – it's just resting:

Top 10 Ways To Improve Your ReTweetability:

10 best tweets of 2010 (Jane Friedman):

How to be a great writer: @jammer0501

The Inanity of the Erudite:

An agent on whether you should post your writing online:

Konrath's Resolutions for Writers 2011:

2010's Best Nonfiction For Winning Family Arguments (NPR):

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Pfeffernüsse (Gesundheit!) Gingerbread Snowballs for Santa from Cleo Coyle @CleoCoyle

Your characters offstage:

The Writing Life: How to Thoroughly Abuse Caffeine: @GeoffreyCubbage

Social media: Literary luvvies come over all aTwitter about tweeting (Guardian):

New Year's Inspirations for Writers: 10 Creative Writing Websites:

5 ways to hone your blogging skills:

Your dialogue can do more:

Reading with Android 101, a reading app guide:

Writing is its own reward:

Are Your Verbs Showing or Telling?

8 Easy Things To Do BEFORE You Start Your Novel:

Villain Stereotypes:

Writers in prison: when having an opinion becomes a crime (Guardian):

How To Write A Home Run Story in 2011:

Last minute gift ideas for writers:

On 'show, don't tell':

The art of pacing:

The art of creative writing goals: @storiestorm

Six things they don't teach you about writing:

Don't tag your emotions:

Simplify your life in 10 steps (and free up time to write):

How to Shop for Your Neurotic Writer: @GeoffreyCubbage

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: The Diva Roasts A Goose @CleoCoyle

Beyond the Printed Page: Robert Sabuda is the superstar of the modern pop-up book:

From Story Pantser to Story Planner: One Writer’s Journey:

The One Thing About Social Media That Most People Don't Think About:

Holiday Gift Ideas For Writers:

8 “Moments” You Absolutely Need to Deliver to Your Readers… And One That You Should Hope For:

7 Creative Principles of Pixar to apply to writing:

Blogger Becomes iPhone and Droid-Friendly:

The 12 Days of Christmas In The Land Of Urban Fantasy:

Creating Consistent Artist Brands:

Twitterific--the week in tweets:

I got THE CALL! ... Um now what?

On euphemisms (Ntl. Post):

Best articles this week for writers:

5 Tips For Working from Home:

10 of the best alps in literature:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Welcome guest Janet Rudolph! @CleoCoyle

New Year's Inspiration for Writers: Progress, Goals within Reach, and Bad-Ass Ambition:

One children's book illustrator's design process:

Don't Write the Obit For Picture Books Yet:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Setting Writing Goals—Step 3

IMS00173The practicing is really the thing that made me grow the fastest as a writer. 

Everything else I was doing (reading books, craft books, blogs, industry news) was definitely helpful, but the one thing that really helped me improve was practice.

Everybody needs to come up with a plan that will work for them.  This is just what worked for me.

Set goals you can meet.  Starting out, I always set a goal of a page a day.  I let myself come up with that one page whenever and wherever I could.

Start fresh every day…don’t play catch-up.  Don’t get discouraged by feeling you’re falling behind.  Each day is a fresh chance to meet your goal—not catch up on the previous day’s goal.

If you’re facing a challenging day the following day (or even if you’re not), then write a short couple of sentences that night to remind yourself what you’re planning on writing the following day.  Or where you’re picking up with your story.

Be flexible.  Learn to write on the go, out in public, in the morning, during lunch, or at night.  You don’t have to set a particular place or time to write.

If it helps—try not to edit what you’ve already written.  For me, that’s a discouraging process because I’m seeing all the faults in the manuscript.  For me, the most important thing is moving the story to its conclusion, not editing as I go.

Remember that first drafts are supposed to be bad. And give yourself permission to have an awful first, second, or tenth draft.  The only one that counts is the one you submit.

Have any writing tips for daily goals or starting out with a manuscript?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Setting Writing Goals—Step Two

100_5048Once I decided that I wanted to write for a larger audience than just myself, I made a goal to improve my writing skills.

The nice thing is that now there are so many ways of learning the writing craft.

Writing Blogs

Reading writing blogs are fantastic ways to get tips on handling problem areas like sagging middles, POV issues, and transitioning between scenes. If you look in my blog roll and underneath my daily posts, there are fantastic writers/bloggers who share their challenges and insights. I have way too many favorites to list them all here, but I consider each of these writers my friends. Each blogger has his or her own blog roll—so you can find even more great writers to connect with and learn from.

Some blogs focus on craft nearly every day. Here are some blogs to get you started: The Other Side of the Story, Fiction Groupie, Write it Sideways, Adventures in Children’s Publishing (not just for children’s lit writers), Magical Words, and Plot to Punctuation.

Critique Groups

If your town has a local writers’ group, check and see if they have critique groups. Or, join an online one, like Critique Circle. For tips on starting your own critique group, see this post on Kirby’s Lane.

Independent Editors If you’ve gone as far with your revisions and edits that you feel you can, consider contacting an independent editor. Not only can they point out things you might not see yourself, but you can learn a lot from them. There are several that visit my blog, including Helen Ginger, Marvin Wilson, and Crystal Clear Proofing.

Classes and Workshops

Here are some links to online organizations and sites that sponsor online classes and their calendar of upcoming workshops. The classes range from $15 to $50. Many of the classes are taught by working writers.


Conferences can be another way (a bit more expensive, but many conferences are starting to go online) to learn more about the writing craft—and, of course, network.

I found this list of 2011 writing conferences on Jodie Renner’s blog.

Books about Writing

Everyone has their favorites. :) There are many that are specific to particular genres, too. As far as general books on writing, I like On Writing by Stephen King, and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Magazines about Writing

There are also subscriptions that can help you get information on writing. I’ve subscribed to Writer’s Digest, Poets and Writers, and The Writer.

And then there’s….writing. Practicing each day, or as often as you can. And I’ll cover that in the post tomorrow. :)

Do you have any favorite writing resources for writers trying to learn more about the craft?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Setting Writing Goals—Step One

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The beginning of the new year is always the time when I start assessing my writing goals for the year. It’s the perfect time to do it, since resolutions are on everyone’s brain and it’s hard to get away from it. :)

I’ve found that the more specific I can be with my goals, the better of a chance I have of meeting them.

I can deal with bite-sized goals. Or even finding out what it is that I want.

I’ve mentioned before that my writing never really took off until I figured out that I really wanted to share it. I wanted to be published—I wasn’t satisfied keeping my writing to myself anymore. But it took me a while to even figure out that was what I wanted to do.

I thought, since I’ve noticed a lot of new readers and new lurkers lately, that I’d do a mini-series on setting writing goals. I know a lot of my longtime blog friends’ goals—and I’ve read some of their books! But a lot of folks might be just trying to figure out what they’re wanting to do with their writing.

So if you haven’t focused yet on the early part of goal-setting with your writing, it’s worth asking, who am I writing for?

Are you writing for yourself? For a small number of people (family or friends?) For a specialized market? For genre readers? For a wider audience?

I think I’d take it a little farther, once I knew the answer to that question. If you’re writing only to please yourself (and I did that for a long time, myself, and found a lot of pleasure in it), then are you looking to improve your writing? In other words, how much time do you want to spend learning about writing (reading craft-related blogs, reading books on writing, and practicing writing)? Are you satisfied with where you are, or are you wanting to grow?

If you’re looking at writing for a small number of people (some memoirs, family histories, etc.), then I’d set a goal for finishing the project, for knowing when it’s finished (is an independent editor needed? How perfect does the copy need to be for these readers?), and for figuring out the format for the book and how I wanted to share it (self-publishing? Kindle through Smashwords? POD?)

If I was interested in writing for a larger number of people—that opens up a whole other set of goal-setting questions, so I’ll start on that tomorrow. :)

Have you thought about for whom you’re writing? Have you ever changed from writing for yourself to writing for others?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Books as Gifts

I’ve always thought that books made the best gifts.

I think I can remember every book I’ve ever gotten as a gift. And I’ve got a lousy memory. But it always struck me that the person giving the book to me had spent time thinking about me and the kinds of things I like to read. And bought me something they thought I’d like.

I remember even the books I got as gifts as a child. I got great books from my grandmothers, like these: child's garden of versesWizard-Of-Oz-Cover

and my mother and father, like these:

catfish bendNancy Drew

Later on, when I was married, I started to get these kinds of books from my husband and my sister-in-law (they knew I was interested in writing):

writer's marketBird by Bird

This year, I’ve bought quite a few books as gifts. Some of them I haven’t even read myself, but loved the description from different book blogs that I read. Some seemed like the perfect match for family members or good friends.

I even have two family members who live in Africa. It’s hard to get physical gifts to them (unreliable postal service there), but they are getting a gift card to an online book retailer so they can download books to their PCs.

Do you have a favorite book that you received as a gift? Do you have a favorite book that you like to give as a gift?

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Terry3_thumb[1]Here are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter for the past week.

If you’re looking for a particular topic, just plug in your keyword into the search box at the top left-hand corner of the blog (on the black header right above my blog name…next to the Blogger symbol…the small search window is next to the magnifying glass) and the roundup with your subject will come up. To narrow your search down on the page, do a CTRL+F, type your subject, and hit enter.

I’m also archiving these posts in what I hope is an easily searchable format—if you look at the Twitterific tabs under the blog’s heading, I’m posting the links there, too.

An Agent With A Year In Statistics--2010:

Influencers 2010: On Writing, Publishing, Blogging, Marketing and Entrepreneurship:

Help wanted--strong, believable character:

Revisions vs rewrites:

Why children’s books that terrify are the ones kids love the most (Ntl. Post):

Be careful where you click:

Conferences/workshops for beginning writers:

10 Blogging Myths You Must Ignore:

How to establish characters in your book's opening: @p2p_editor

A tip jar at public readings? (Guardian):

Five things to do if (gasp) the words won't come:

Writing Across Formats:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: The neighborly thing to do...egg nog quick bread! @CleoCoyle

What copywriters actually do:

The 7 Deadly Sins of Paranormal Romance:

Passive vs Active Voice:

Walt Whitman's notebook (NY Times):

Your Art is Not Frivolous–It’s Money Begging to Be Made:

10 tricks to help you feel like a writer:

First-page problems and enduring the wait:

How Boring Is Your Blog?

3 traits of characters readers give up on: @mkinberg

Zen Pen:

Dr. Strangemuse: Or How I Learned to Quit Worrying and Love Writer’s Block:

Avoid Clichés Like the Plague (Huff Post):

Thoughts on book distribution:

"I am a writer, and I will finish the s*** that I started.":

Enriching your story-world: @jammer0501

How Small Victories Help You Write with Perseverance:

Why TV Ads Don't Sell Books Online (Huff Post):

What To Do When We Feel Unappreciated As A Writer:

Too Many Cooks - How Do You Handle Conflicting Critiques?

An apple pie and an editor go into a bar:

Manuscript formatting:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Fresh Soup Without Leaving the House! @CleoCoyle

Uncle Sam Cracks Down on Music and Movie Piracy. But What’s with Books?

How to Use the Info Tab on the New Facebook Profile:

Breaking writing rules:

When Should You Quit Writing?

How Peanut Farmers Can Save Publishing...and You Can Help: via @tonifois

How to Drive Traffic To a New Blog Through a Commenting Tribe:

Do You Think He Likes Me? Conveying Emotions:

Editing and the YA market:

The iPad And The Kindle Compared: @thecreativepenn

Countdown to December 31 - Your Writing Expenses:

How to write a book next year:

The Writer Version of Ebenezer Scrooge:

On Contests and Agents and Editors:

Self-Promotion, With Integrity:

For freelancers (but good for novelists)--The Holiday Season Slow-Down: The Importance of “Making a List”:

World-Building Through Character:

Writing series:

Blogging–Part 2 Don’t Feed the Trolls:

Writing an agent or editor back after a rejection: resist the temptation:

Arthur C Clarke award calls on SF fans to help reinvent the prize (Guardian):

Why we love bad books (Salon):

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Hooray for soup! @CleoCoyle

The 51 steps to editing:

A 6-part series on revising characters: @p2p_editor

An agent on who decides titles and covers:

Writing and promoting--yes, we've got to do our dirty work:

Bloggers: If You’re Not Struggling, You’re Failing:

7 ways to change your mindset:

How to Manage Criticism Effectively:

Lost Roald Dahl manuscript sells on eBay (Guardian):

Nice List of Romance Writing Resources: @bluemaven

How To Slay Toxic Creatures In Your Creative Life: @EeleenLee

Is an Emotionally Mature Author an Oxymoron? (Huff Post):

Stay motivated with your writing--you're *not* falling behind:

End Of Days For Bookstores? Not If They Can Help It (NPR):

4 Tips To Stress Free Blogging:

5 More Aspects of Emotion Writers Need to Know – Expectations:

7 Tasks to Bridge Your First and Second Drafts:

6 tips for surviving bad reviews:

How to know when your book is finished: @dirtywhitecandy

Revision: Sharpening Characters:

The Slush Pile Slump Syndrome:

10 signs you're having one of *those* writing days: @elspethwrites

Understanding genre:

Deconstructing a movie to demonstrate story structure and act one elements:

How to Add a Like Button to Your Facebook Tabs:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Crunch Time Fallbacks—Creamy Chicken @CleoCoyle

Ideas (particularly for nonfiction writers) on putting extras for readers on our websites (Huff Post):

The Sophomore Slump for Published Writers:

When marketing can be too much:

On the overuse of dialogue tags:

The role of an editor:

Raising the stakes in your manuscript:

Stieg Larsson was the top European writer in 2010:

3 tips for avoiding info dumps: @juliemusil

Slush pile trends:

The 13 Most Obnoxious Publishing Stories of 2010 (Huff Post--Slideshow):

Un-Rut Yourself:

A collection of posts on writers' retreats and colonies:

Digging Hurts: The Trauma of Writing Fiction Truthfully (Huff Post):

Why celebrity memoirs rule publishing (Guardian):

How to backup your data--and keep up with your passwords:

Top 5 mistakes writers make when penning sex scenes--and a writing exercise to avoid making them:

Finding your voice:

A List Of Book Genres:

What Makes A Good Crit Buddy? @RoniLoren

The pie in the face writing method:

All about the excerpt:

NaNo Now What?

Writer reality check:

Does Charles Dickens Matter? (Wall St. Journal):

How to triple your Twitter traffic in 7 days:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: World's Best Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte from Cleo Coyle @CleoCoyle

The Father Figure in Literature:

Novelist Gordon Korman's take on writing for children:

Tips for opening lines:

The road to remembering--accurate recall for memoirs:

What Constitutes Publication and How Do I Know My Query's Been Read?

Copy-Editing And Beta Readers: @thecreativepenn

Sexy villains (and why you should be scared of them):

Stop making excuses--tips for increasing writing productivity:

I'm archiving all my tweeted links for easier searching and research for writers:

When will English come to a full stop (and lose its global dominance)? (Guardian):

8 iPad Apps for Brilliant Writing:

Writers 'at greater risk of depression', survey finds (Guardian):

8 Reasons to Let Your Stories Ripen:

How to Avoid Blogging Burnout During the Holidays:

Why the Best Authors Have a Mailing List:

Facebook Tips for Writers:

An author on problems she's experienced writing for small publishers: @authorterryo

5 Ways Engineering is Like Writing:

What makes a cozy....good?

10 practical tips for better writing:

3 Ways to Get Organized:

Season's Readings--a look at "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" (Guardian):

Year-in-Review Questions:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Crinkle Cookies! @CleoCoyle

An agent gives tips on querying:

Brushing up on grammar: @clarissadraper

On the Problem of Steampunk as "Window Dressing":

Does Refreshing Ourselves Keep Our Writing Fresh?

An agent posts on whether agents remember submissions:

7 Powerful Ways to Get Your Blog Post Noticed:

A successful query, point by point:

7 Lessons That WikiLeaks Teaches Us:

Twitterific--the week in tweets:

DIY Gifts for Writers:

E-readers seduce romance-novel fans (NY Times):

Why Amazon is Critical to Book Sales – And What To Do About It:

The Best of the Best Books 2010 (Daily Beast):

Publishing etiquette:

Why one writer thinks the future of memoirs is bright:

Canceling a project – reality check:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles @CleoCoyle

Freelancers--When to Walk Away From a Writing Job Offer:

In a blog vs. website faceoff, blogs win:

Can a first chapter be too exciting?

The levels of revision hell:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wanted: Strong, Believable Characters

Wind in the WillowsMargot Kinberg had a nice post yesterday on character traits that are off-putting to readers. 

She made a good point—as a reader, I’ll give up on a book that has characters that I can’t connect with or admire.  Here are the traits that Margot listed for unlikeable characters:

Characters With No Redeeming Qualities
Characters Who Aren’t Authentic
Characters Who are “Flat” or Stereotyped

Margot got me thinking about traits that I do enjoy reading and writing.  If I were to make a “help wanted” poster for characters, these are the types of people I’d be looking to employ:

They’re Everyman—but braver, nicer, and more pleasant to be around than we are.

They’re problem-solvers.

They’re growing…either in skills or in knowledge or in personality.

They overcome the odds.

They have some sense of humor (without being silly).

They’re a major part of the book’s action.  They cause things to happen.  They don’t sit on the sidelines.

They’re decisive and not wishy-washy.

They’re intelligent…or, if they’re not that intelligent (Forrest Gump) then they’re incredibly likeable and good-hearted.

They’re flawed.  There’s nothing more unlikeable than reading about a character who is perfect.

They’re not too flawed.  Or, if they’re totally unlikeable, (Ebenezer Scrooge) then they’re at least dynamic enough to experience a radical change of heart.

What’s on your “help wanted” list for characters?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thoughts on Distribution

RIMG0463My daughter got it into her head last week that she wanted an easel and a beret for Christmas. She sat on Santa’s lap and told him on Saturday.

Actually, she told anyone who would listen to her.

On Wednesday, a flyer from a large national toy store arrived with our paper. It was advertising the type of easel she was asking for at 50% off.

So I was off to the toy store. :)

Unfortunately, when I got there, I discovered that there were no more easels in the store. In fact, they’d been out of those easels for weeks.

The clerk got on the store’s computer. “Atlanta has 78 of them at the main store. Want to go to Atlanta?” We burst out laughing. (Southern joke here—Atlanta scares us all to death to drive in….most folks there drive 100 mph and weave in and out of traffic. Plus the fact, of course, that there are five million people in the Atlanta metro area.)

The clerk kept on looking. There were 100 easels in Orlando (not exactly a quick drive from Charlotte...more like 8 hours.) And they couldn’t ship from another store without charging me for shipping…even if I picked it up at the store.

So I was a little irked. The clerk looked sympathetically at me. It would have been a guaranteed sale.

With books, distribution has always played a key role in a book’s success. If it’s available in a lot of stores, its chances of being bought are increased.

I’ve found that Penguin, in particular, has amazing distribution…and that it gets amazing placement on shelves. I’ve found my book on endcaps, on new release tables, and on special displays. That has little to do with me and a lot to do with them and their clout with bookstores.

Distribution has also always been a reason why self-published books have faced such huge odds. Unless the writer went through a company that distributed through Ingram or Baker and Taylor, then the book couldn’t even get to the bookstores, unless the author went to each store with a load of books in his trunk. And then the author had the bookstore manager to make his case to.

Now, however, I feel like ebooks are starting to really impact the publishing landscape.

I think visibility is still going to be an issue—maybe getting your book on the landing page of Amazon or Barnes and Noble—but distribution will be as easy as a download.

To some degree, I think this is going to level the playing field a little bit. I’m sure that publishers are feeling ambivalent about it.

To me, though, it’s all about the books. I just want people to continue reading…despite all the modern-day electronic distractions that compete with their attention and time.

I love the idea that, if we want to read a book, we have the capability of reading it immediately—without even having to hunt it down in a store. I love the ease of distribution.

But I’ll miss my bookstores.

What are your thoughts on the ebook revolution? Mixed, like mine? Are you seeing the advantages more than you used to? Advantages like accessibility of books—and lack of physical distribution?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Choose Your Own Mystery—by Enid Wilson


Thanks Elizabeth for hosting me. I met Elizabeth at a Blog Book Tour Yahoo Group last year. That’s when I first learned about the term cosy mystery from her blog. I read romance my whole life. My experience with the genre of mystery and murder comes mainly from television series such as Poirot, Miss Marple, Mid Summer Murder, CSI, Law and Order and so on.

There is sometimes too much blood and gore in modern crime series to my taste. I also tend to refrain from writing murder myself. But in my latest novel Fire and Cross, Pride and Prejudice with a mystery twist, I stumbled upon the murder plot rather unexpectedly.

At the beginning, the story was intended to be a short one of 3,000 words. I set up a what-if scenario: Mr. Darcy was engaged to a mysterious lady since his youth, with a beautiful garnet cross as the promised gift. Suddenly out of the blue, Miss Caroline Bingley came bearing the exquisite jewelry. Was Mr. Darcy really engaged to her?

The short story resolved the true identity of the mysterious lady very quickly. But when I posted it online, readers demanded to know more. How did Miss Bingley get hold the garnet cross? Who was helping her? Why did she do it?

So I wrote on a bit longer and published it again in serialized format. Readers had more and more questions and I weaved the plots thicker and thicker. With the disappearance of one of the main characters, the suspected murder attempt on another, the speculated link to a French spy, Fire and Cross grew to a novel of over 70,000 words. It has somewhat become a “chose your own” interactive mystery.

Below is an adapted excerpt from the novel. Charles Bingley was interviewing his sister’s driver. I’ve hidden the name of the other possible culprit as “the other woman”.


“The Mistress met the other woman a few times.”

“Where? And how many times?”

“Hmm, I think in Cusworth Hall, at the Friars Inn at Doncaster and at the Charing Cross Inn.”

“Just those three times?”

Harold scratched his head. “As far as I can remember.”

“Were there any other people with them, during their meetings?”

“Well, at Cusworth Hall Miss Bingley was visiting the Barrymore sisters. There were many other people there too. I’m not sure.”

“And at Charing Cross? Was the Mistress acting strangely?”

“Hmm, I’m not allowed to say.”

“Tell me at once!” Bingley said angrily. “This woman could be a danger to my family. I need to know.”

“The Mistress dressed as a gentleman, then.”

Bingley’s lip tightened. “And did they meet up with anyone?”

“I think he was a Frenchman.”

Bingley’s face lost colour. “Who was he?”

“I heard the Mistress called him Pierre.”

He sighed with relief. Caroline met up with the jeweller to make a duplicate of the garnet cross. “How did the Mistress get injured?”

“I don’t know. We moved to a new townhouse a few days ago. I was sleeping. I heard some screams and then I followed Marie into the Mistress’s room. The Mistress was unconscious, with blood on her head. We didn’t know any doctor in Stoke Newington so we brought her back here, as fast as we could.”

“And did you do any errands for Miss Bingley or the other woman yesterday?” Darcy asked, taking over the interrogation as Bingley seemed to have run out of questions. Darcy needed to establish if Harold was the one who had delivered the macaroons who poisoned one of the Miss Bennets.

“Errands? Hmm, I took them to the river.”

“Did they say why they wished to go there?”

“They wouldn’t say anything to me. I’m just a servant. The Mistress dressed as a ... as a gentleman, as usual, when she went out.”

“But did you overhear their conversation?”

“I was not close enough to hear anything, but they did seem to be arguing …”

“About what?”

“… about you, Sir, Mr. Darcy.”

“Tell me exactly what you did hear.”

“I didn’t hear clearly. Just something like she had not been helpful enough for the Mistress … um … to become your wife. And she was blaming the Mistress for losing her temper by getting drunk. She blamed her for ruining her own scheme.”

“I am not sure I understand your meaning. Who blamed whom?”

“The other woman blamed the Mistress.”

“Did the other woman say what the scheme was?”

“Hmm …” Harold thought for a moment. “I don’t remember. But she said something in another language.”

“What language?”

“I don’t know no other language.”

“French? Italian?”

“Could be anything. Ah, but the other woman greeted the Frenchman at Charing Cross in his language. She must have spoken French.”

Darcy and Bingley gasped. The French spy possibility was looming again.

“Did you remember the French words the other woman said?”

Harold scratched his head. “I don’t know, ruler ... erm … fur … I can’t say it correctly.”


I once read that a successful mystery writer should map out every detail of his plot before he begins the writing. I failed on that account miserably as I added and changed subplots all the time, depending on readers’ speculation.

However the writing experience was fun. I tried my best to surprise the readers. Some of them had guessed correctly who the culprit was at some stage but they did not suspect the true reason behind the murderous attempt. In the end, there was a death in the novel but without a murder.

Well, what do you think of cosy mystery over blood and gore crime? Share them here.

enidgift3Thanks again Elizabeth for hosting me today. I’m delighted to give out an ebook of Fire and Cross in pdf format and a lovely souvenir to one lucky reader. Please head over to and register for news and leave a comment here. Warning: The novel and my site contain explicit adult content.

Contest ends Saturday, December 18th and is open to worldwide readers.

Big hugs from hot and sunny Sydney, Enid.

    Fire and Cross Details: Paperback: 224 pages Publisher: Steamy D Publishing (December 1, 2010) Language: English ISBN-10: 0980610575 ISBN-13: 978-0980610574 Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces Available on Amazon

Thanks for coming by today, Enid and best wishes for your new release. Hope y’all will leave a question or comment for Enid and your thoughts on gorier thrillers vs. puzzle-type mysteries.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We’re Not Falling Behind

La Méditation by Domenico Feti -1589 - 1624Just a quick post today on keeping motivated.

During NaNo, I noticed on Twitter, Facebook, and writing blogs that there were writers who mentioned that they’d gotten frustrated with NaNo and stopped participating.

Many times, they mentioned that they felt like they’d fallen behind everyone else—and couldn’t catch up.

Every day is a fresh start—not a chance to catch up. Just a chance to meet that day’s writing goal.

If I get behind on my goal and tried to catch up on that day plus write my usual amount, I’m going to try putting off my writing time. Because it’s double my usual writing goal.

Unless I’m really under a deadline crunch (not a personal deadline, but a publisher one), then I’ve made a rule for myself that I don’t play catch-up.

I’m just picking up where I left off and meeting my goal for that day. Any other day is over and done with. Somehow, for me, it’s easier to pick it all back up again after I’ve told myself that.

I can only imagine the writers who felt like they needed to write 2,000 words a day for NaNo—and then missed a couple of days. They were trying to write 6,000 words to catch up.

I know we’re right up on the holidays and that’s another time where it’s easy to miss daily goals.

If you do, consider just forgetting about those lost days and, whenever you’re able to get back to the writing, just pick up where you left off.

Do you ever get that “left-behind” feeling? How do you respond to it?

And please join me tomorrow for Enid Wilson’s guest post, “Choose Your Own Mystery.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Boring Stuff That’s Important—Backups and Password Changes

DSC00843_zI’m hooking together two totally different things in my post today, but felt that they were connected because both topics bore me to death. :)

Password Protection

I was watching the news Monday night and one of the big stories is, of course, the Assange case. Specifically, the hackers that are bringing down websites that have cut off support to Assange or WikiLeaks.

What alarmed me most was this story (featured in the LA Times) that explains how hackers broke into the Gawker blog (a cluster of big-name blogs, if you don’t visit there) and, among other things, displayed a text file of 200,000 emails and passwords. Many of the users had used the same passwords over and over again on different websites—so hackers also took over their Twitter accounts, etc.

I think we all know that we shouldn’t reuse passwords. We shouldn’t have the same password for our Facebook account that we use for our online banking and for our blog. This article from ZDNet explains the reasons why we shouldn’t.

ZDNet said that the main reason people reuse passwords is for convenience—they simply can’t remember a variety of user names and passwords. The post advised using a password manager and not even trying to commit these passwords to memory. The post author mentioned free app Password Safe and Splash ID (which is available via subscription but is nice because it's also accessible from smart phones.)

While we’re doing boring things to protect ourselves, we should also make sure we’re:

Backing Up Our Data

Our computers work well—until, of course, they don’t. I know I’ve lost text before, and I think it’s practically inevitable if you write over a long period of time…unless you’re super-vigilant, like we all should be.

I save my manuscripts to our computer server and also take the easy route and email myself the drafts.

But there are lots of different choices and some of them only really require thought in the setting-up phase of the backup, and less in the implementing of it.

This article ,on the Query Tracker blog, has a nice overview of the different ways to save our data: from flash drives and external hard drives, to sync software, online hard drives (like the popular Dropbox, which is discussed in this post on the Slushbuster blog), and online document managers.

While we’re at it, we should be backing up our blogs. I’ve heard some real horror stories from bloggers I know about losing all the content on their blog. Considering the problems I’ve had with Blogger, I’ve been trying to be good about backing up the blog.

Here is an article on the Guide to Literary Agents blog that discusses how to backup a Blogger, WordPress, and LiveJournal blog.

Have you ever been hacked or lost data? How vigilant are you? I know I’m trying to do better. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Writing Links Archive—an Experiment

nov 22 059There are things that I love about Blogger.

Mostly that it’s free. :)

And now I’ve invested too much time into this blog to change over to anything else. So Blogger and I are stuck with each other.

It does like to crash. And I have a feeling I’m pushing it to its limits.

Clarissa Draper and others suggested that it would be good to have a separate page on the blog to serve as a compilation of writing links. Because Blogger can be a pain to search (sometimes you can only search so far back into the archives), I thought it was a great idea.

This way, you can pull up a page with all the writing links in one place and do a control F to search the topic you’re interested in.

Since I knew there were a lot of links, I first saved them to a Word file in case Blogger went down.

The Word file had 269 pages of links on it.

Sure enough, Blogger crashed. :)

So I’ve divided the links onto two separate pages—Twitterific Archives #1 and Twitterific Archives #2. There are clickable tabs for them under the blog heading. I'm planning to add to the archives each week, after posting Twitterific. Obviously, this will take more pages, eventually. :)

The reason I'm doing this? It's because I’ve noticed that whenever I try to pull up writing article resources, it’s a real hit or miss process.

Trying to find an article on POV, internal conflict, scene structure, dialogue? The highest ranking posts in Google for any given writing search is frequently an assignment that a college professor has posted (an assignment on the topic, not a resource), or a vague article by a content mill site that doesn’t address the topic in any kind of depth. It's just not what writers are looking for.

Trying to find industry-related information in a searchable database? Unless you go to individual agent or editor blogs and search on each of their sites, you’re going to get very spotty results on a Google search. Some of the biggest results from the search will probably be self-publishers.

There's got to be a better way of doing this, but I can't think of it right now. So the temporary home for the archives will be here on the blog.

If I had the time, I’d love to catalog this information by topic, etc—but I don’t think that’s going to happen in the foreseeable future. :) At least, though, I’m hoping this compilation will give a starting point for research for writers on writing and industry-related topics…and direct them to posts that have actually been written by writers, agents, and editors.

Because the experts on writing are writers—who are in the trenches, writing.

If y’all could let me know if there are any problems opening the pages, searching the content…or loading my blog? If there is, then I’m going to set up a separate blog for the writing links and just put up links to it that way. I definitely don’t want to make the blog crash or make it hard to load for folks who have a slower connection.

Thanks, y’all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Terry3_thumb[1]Here are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter for the past week.

If you’re looking for a particular topic, just plug in your keyword into the search box at the top left-hand corner of the blog (on the black header right above my blog name…next to the Blogger symbol…the small search window is next to the magnifying glass) and the roundup with your subject will come up. To narrow your search down on the page, do a CTRL+F, type your subject, and hit enter.

7 Tips for Finding the Best “Real-People” Sources (for freelancers and novelists needing primary sources for research):

6 tips to keep your online writing persona fresh: @ZiggyKinsella

Prioritizing Your To Do List – Pick the Most Efficient Target:

5 tips in responding to criticism:

Printing Your Book: Should You Go with Print-on-Demand?

Living With Nice Writer Syndrome:

5 Ways to Make Your Blog Stand Out From the Crowd:

Writing enigmatic characters:

Genre sales report--Women's Lit (from a publishing insider):

How to Begin a Story:

The secret ingredient to a strong author platform:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Peppermint Bark! The bark that's better when you bite! @CleoCoyle

Create a Social Media Optimized Email Signature:

How to learn from critique partners:

Writing mantras: @bluemaven

Tips on writing for children (video): @thecreativepenn

Nurturing the writing life:

26 Tips for Enhancing Your Facebook Page:

Writing authentic dialogue:

6 Questions NOT to ask a Writer:

A Writing Lesson about Pettiness from Poe:

Don't be afraid to dream big:

8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content:

Things Every Story Needs to do:

Interesting interview with Writer's Digest editor Jane Friedman on writers and social media:

Lazy writing:

Best Articles This Week for Writers 12/10/2010: @4kidlit

Put Resilience In Your Writers Toolbox:

Observations on sci-fi sales from a publishing insider:

The Uses of Repetition in Writing...and in Life:

Nailing Your Teen Voice:

The Ultimate Guide to Novel Queries:

Gift ideas for the ten major species of science fiction fan:

9 Practical Ways to Start Attracting an Audience to Your New Social Media Account:

Tips For a Healthy 2011 Reading Diet for the Crime Fiction Lover: @mkinberg

Tips for creating inner conflict for your characters:

Getting Primal & Staying Simple:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Mystery Cookies: Getting in on the fun! @CleoCoyle

The 6 Degrees of Show vs. Tell, Rated by Quality: @victoriamixon

For the stressed-out writer: The Minimalist’s Guide to Inner Peace:

Making the most of Amazon:

Tips for handling harsh criticism:

On using your Bookscan for good, not evil:

The Case of the Misplaced Modifier:

Amazon Gives Authors Free Access to Nielsen BookScan’s Sales Data:

5 Ways to Effectively Manage Your Online Reputation:

An agent on common problems he sees in query letters that fail:

Squeezing writing into an overcrowded day (10 minutes is better than nothing):

4 Scientific Tips that Help You Get More Blog Comments:

Getting Google to notice your ebook:

Write what you know—what you know you have to write:

As One Writer Sees It: Top Ten Reasons to Publish with a Small Press: @KarenGowen

Authors on Twitter: The Danger of Being Too Clique-y:

Scholastic Lists Children's Books Trends for 2010:

Blind spots--a writer's fatal flaw:

Lost your inspiration? An exhaustive link roundup to help you get your mojo back: @4kidlit

Winter storm writing:

The best time of day to publish blog posts (and Facebook updates, etc.):

Making the most of Amazon:

Seasons in Fantasy:

Monstrous Post on Monsters:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Avery Aames's Parmesan Gelato @CleoCoyle

Genre sales--Mystery/thriller:

Sequence Outlining:

13 Steps for Establishing a Popular Writing Blog:

Writers on Writing: On Writing by Stephen King:

2010 Writing Goals: Your Race to the Finish Line:

How to Write a Novel: The Snowflake Method: @bubblecow

Showing off the best material in your blog archive:

Ten Things Writers Say, and What They Really Mean:

Don't show your writing to your mother or your lover:

In Praise of Long Books:

Playing to your writing strengths: @jammer0501

Amazon Reviews Hijacked by Paid Hacks?

Sorry, Your Services are no Longer Required: Eliminating Characters--

Thriller writing--the dos, don'ts, and don't-even-think-about-its:

Ritual, Routine & Habit in Storytelling:

7 Ways to Get Your Book Discovered on Amazon:

Four Professional Editing Techniques that Boost Blog Post Value:

Tips for writing strong characters:

Plot development basics:

7 Ways to Help Writers Survive the Holidays:

The 15 most-read Poetry Foundation & Poetry magazine articles of 2010:

Reflections On Two Years Of Blogging: Lessons Learned: @thecreativepenn

Why You Should Write Without Excuses:

What we talk about [to ourselves] when we talk about writing:

10 graphic novels that make great gifts (for people who don't read comics):

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Tortellini Pasta Salad @CleoCoyle

Creating a Book Readers Can’t Put Down:

Grabbing your reader in the first 10 minutes:

Tips for crafting strong sentences:

Your Writing Future–Are You Investing or Gambling?

Anatomy of a Successful Press Release for Book Promotion:

3 Signs Your Story’s Characters Are Too Perfect:

6 ways to profit from writing a nonfiction book:

What agents don't like about some writers' blogs:

10 Reasons Roundup Posts Rock:

6 Ways to Persevere:

Tips on plotting:

A publishing insider's insights on the fantasy genre's sales and outlook:

Get Your Eagle Eye On: 10 Tips for Proofreading Your Own Work:

5 ways to market copywriting services:

The reasons behind literary reviews and why reviews are worth expressing:

The new cover for my June 2011 release, "Finger Lickin' Dead!" :) :

Democratization or Disinformation? A warning about print-on-demand publishing services: @victoriastrauss

How To Create A Facebook Fan Page For Your Book Or Author Brand (video):

Semicolons and commas:

5 great blog posts for writers:

Tips for freelancers on keeping their writing fresh:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Crime Writers' Cookie Swap and Congrats to Krista Davis! @CleoCoyle

The quixotic pull of your future novel:

Inspiring Readers with Ordinary Characters:

Query trends:

What one writer has learned from her manuscript being on submission:

4 Articles on Self-Publishing:

Formatting Your Manuscript:

Publishing for the Uninhibited: Adventures in Kindle Land:

Keeping track of our story:

Why it's good to write, even when you're writing poorly:

5 Tips for Productively Editing Your Writing (Huff Post):

Excel For Authors – Agent and Editor Research:

5 Things Writers Should Do BEFORE Release Day:

Putting Feelers Out Before Leaving Your Agent:

4 Ways to Find a Critique Partner:

Feeding Your Spirit to feed Your Writing:

Suffering from Writers Block? 7 Tips to Get You Back on Track:

A tip for making your characters stronger:

An industry insider's thoughts on the mash-up genre:

Writing lessons from "The Bachelor":

Bigger Isn’t Always Better: Independent Publishing in the Netherlands:

Awesomely Effective Email Communication:

Getting your manuscript at a discount:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Chocolate Insanity @CleoCoyle

Types of book and chapter openings:

Providing Emotional Clarity:

Has Project Gutenberg Failed Copyright Law?

The Importance Of Tracking World Rights:

Royalty Rates:

Adding a Facebook “Like” Button to Blog Posts:

Turning Expectation into Anticipation: @camillelaguire

Mystery writer's guide to forensic science--Poisons, VIII: @clarissadraper

7 tips for author websites:

Achieving a state of flow:

Tips from an Editor (Now an Agent) Who Knows:

The term 'high concept':

Writing without electricity:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Emily's Cake @CleoCoyle

Accentuate the Positive: Hope and the Aspiring Writer:

Great characters are like peanut butter:

10 Checkpoints for a Scene:

The Most Dramatic Publishing Event of 2010? Easy, the Introduction of Agency Pricing for E-books:

Mistakes to avoid when querying agents:

2 sides of marketing: what makes people buy your books:

The use of cliffhangers in crime fiction: @mkinberg

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Enigmatic Characters

Adrienne--Gustave Van De Woestyne--1881-1947As writers, we spend a lot of time getting to know our characters and developing them. We learn how they’d react in different situations. We know people who remind us of our characters. We want to get to the point where we know instinctively how the character would respond to conflict.

But how much of this information do we actually need to share with our readers?

At the start of every school year, the parents at my children’s schools are requested to send a letter to their child’s teacher, telling about their child in a way that would help the teacher get some insights into working with him.

My middle school son’s letter is in a Word file. I sent almost exactly the same letter to his 8th grade teachers that I sent to his first grade teacher. I tweak it a little bit each year and send it off. He’s industrious, cheerful, smart, funny, popular. He tells me everything that’s on his mind (I don’t know how much longer that could last, since he’s now a teen.) Basically, he’s an open book.

I also have a letter for my daughter’s teacher in Word. Every year I open it up and squint at it—looking for ideas from the previous year. I spend a lot of time on my daughter’s letter each year, but most of the time I end up with, “She’s a mass of contradictions. She’s artistic and complex. I love her, but don’t understand what makes her tick. If you get any insights, please let me know!”

I think we need open book characters, such as my son. But then I think that enigmatic characters—inscrutable characters that the reader can’t quite figure out—can be entertaining, too. As a reader, I’ve enjoyed tons of characters who weren’t easily figured-out. Many times, they kept their thoughts to themselves.

I think that there still would need to be some consistency there, so the character wouldn’t be too frustrating for the reader. When I read inconsistent characters, I just wonder if the author even had a handle on the character.

Clues along the way are important. Clues to what motivates them, what makes particular conflicts difficult for them. I think the readers need to feel like they’re making progress in learning what makes them tick. It’s nice if there are small insights (rewards) for the reader to discover all along the way.

I think the majority of enigmatic characters that I’ve read have been secondary, or supporting characters. Writing an enigmatic protagonist would be a special challenge.

In your writing, do you have any characters who are difficult to figure out or understand? As a reader, do you enjoy reading enigmatic characters?

Friday, December 10, 2010


IMS00173I’ve had a couple of writers email me lately, looking for help with crafting a query letter.

I’m always hesitant about offering help, myself, in that area. My agent queries never did get off the ground, although my query for Pretty is as Pretty Dies netted me at least one publisher. :)

To me, it’s just sort of a chore—eliminate unnecessary words, fit in the word count and genre, give an interesting summation of your plot, and tell a little about yourself. The idea is really just to tempt the agent or editor into asking for more.

I have, though, come across some really useful information lately that I think would help writers who are looking for some querying help.

There have been blog posts recently, stating that the best time of year to query an agent is January. So what better time to brush up your querying skills?

At the top of my list is a series Writer’s Digest editor Jane Friedman is running— “The Ultimate Guide to Novel Queries”":

An agent with querying tips:

9 tips for querying:

An agent on what *not* to do during the query process:

Your Query Submission Checklist:

An Agent on Addressing Your Query:

Smart Querying for Unagented Writers:

An agent on seeing the words "utterly original" in a query:

This Query Sucks (or how to fail and still succeed):

Elements of a query letter:

Good luck with your querying!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Squeezing Writing In

IMG_3846edTwice in the last week, I’ve read posts by parents who want to write more, but have real obstacles in their way.

These lovable obstacles are their children. :)

As my children have gotten older, my approach has definitely changed.

And I want to say that squeezing writing in isn’t for everyone. It’s not particularly enjoyable to write that way. But it was something I felt really driven to do (before I was published), and then deadlines made it necessary after I was published.

For what it’s worth, here’s how I do it…and my children don’t seem too warped (yet) by my approach. And, yes, I was at home. Moms who work out of the home will have to scrunch their time in even more. Some ideas: write during your commute (using a voice recorder if you drive or use a pocket notebook if you’re on public transportation), write more on weekends, write really early in the morning, write late at night.

We’re talking about 10-30 minutes a day. You can write a book in just minutes a day—I promise. I’ve done it. It helps if you know what you’re going to write that day.

(This plan was built when my daughter was a baby—I didn’t write regularly when my son was that little.)

When I had an infant: Naptime was writing time. Was this relaxing for me? Probably not. :) Maybe I should have been napping or vacuuming or something, instead. But I was able to write then.

When I had a cruiser/young toddler: I put board books within her reach so that after naptime, she could “read” to herself for an extra 10 minutes. Yes, she ate the books half the time and threw them against the wall the other half—but I had those extra 10 minutes. So then I could do housework/rest and write.

When I had an older toddler: Well…there was Teletubbies or Sesame Street. I know what the American Academy of Pediatrics says about little ones and TV. But I haven’t yet noticed any permanent damage from the 20-25 minutes that she watched TV while I wrote.

When I had a preschooler: Some of those preschool hours were spent writing. Sometimes I’d do all my writing on preschool days, keeping the non-preschool days writing-free (and all about her.)

I also made little deals with my preschooler. If she would give me 25 minutes with no interruptions, then I’d play Old Maid with her (or any game of her choice.) I’d set a timer and I’d keep my promise. I told her that she only needed to interrupt me if it was an emergency (and we talked a long time about what constituted an emergency. Spilled yogurt? Not an emergency. Feeling sick? That’s an emergency.)

School-age: This is where I am now. :) I plan my writing the day before (not an outline, but some bullet points as far as what I plan on writing.) I have notebooks in my car for dead time in the carpool line.

I’m flexible with my writing—but I’ll plan on writing early to make sure I get it in. Because sometimes life gets in the way of writing—I’ll get a bunch of phone calls or I need to get promo done, or the plumber needs to make a house call, or one of the children ends up sick. Instead of writing off the writing day, I’ll flip my schedule around so that I’m writing at night, instead.

A special note about the after-school hours and summer vacation: Playdates. Lots of playdates. If each child has a friend over, everything goes wonderfully. And I’m happy to take the children and their friends on activities. I’ve taken kids skating, bowling, swimming, and to free summer movies with my notebook and pencil and laptop in hand. Usually it goes really well and no one gets bored.

One thing that I’ve tried to do…and haven’t always accomplished, but have tried really hard to do…is to be fully present with my children when I’m with them and it’s not my writing time. I don’t think about my story when they’re talking to me. I don’t check my emails or look at my Facebook or Twitter if they’re telling me about something that happened at school, etc.

And it’s always my plan to get everything done while they’re at school. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s my goal.

As I mentioned, if you’re really missing writing and feel like you really need to write—this plan works well. If it makes you feel stressed out (and I had my days) or if squeezing in writing makes you dislike the writing, then don’t do it. Children get older and time frees up!

But if you’re frustrated by not being able to write or can’t see how to fit it in…give it a go.

Oh, and one more point—please set attainable goals. Maybe start out with 10 minutes of writing/brainstorming time each day. Then move up to a page a day (double-spaced). My personal writing goal was a page a day for a long time—a target I knew I could hit if I wrote a few minutes every morning and a few more minutes each evening.

What are your time management challenges and your tips for how to work around them?