Write What Scares You

Today kicked off the 2019 Women in Publishing Summit, an online conference catering to the ladies who write, edit, design, market, and do anything else in the service of creating books and getting them into the hands of readers.

The presentation I focused on today was Joan Dempsey’s “The Value of Highly Contentious Topics in Fiction.” It drew my interest because most of what I write centers around those hot-button issues that tend to draw debate and ire.

Dempsey’s advice was this: write what scares you. Don’t be afraid of your readers’ response to you exploring contentious issues.

“[Stephen King] gets hate mail,” Dempsey says. “He gets people writing to him and berating him for being racist or sexist or homophobic… because he writes characters who embody those traits. He does it so well that people believe Stephen King is those things, when what he has done is embody those characters so fully and so fearlessly.”

I’ve been plagued by concerns about misrepresenting people of color or people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity. I don’t want to be another straight, white person who thinks she knows what these different walks of life entail.

But I always come back to the fact that we have to try. Because if we don’t, then we’re implying we’re not even interested in having the conversation. We’re so afraid of getting it wrong, that we neglect representation.

So, let’s write on, sometimes getting it right, other times getting it wrong, either way getting some hate mail (or hate tweets). Let’s be humble enough to know we barely know anything, and cocky enough to say we’re going to try anyway.


‘Story of My Life’ Book Covers Are My New Reason for Living

I’ve just discovered the Story of My Life book covers Instagram account, and I don’t think I love anything more.

This is one of my favorites:

It’s speaking to me on many levels this week because a) I engage in hypothetical arguments in the shower on the regular, and b) The shower is where life slows down just enough for my brain to dwell on a tricky plot point I’m struggling with. And this past weekend I finally figured out how the third point of view in my latest WIP is going to factor into the plot.

I’d been writing this third perspective that I considered cutting so. many. times. He just wasn’t quite fitting into things very well. But I finally argued it out (literally, I was talking out loud to myself/the tile) and came up with a rough plan of how his story line will weave into the plot of my other two characters. Voila! All it took was dozens of gallons of hot water down the drain.

Sorry, environment. I’m part of the problem.

These will make me feel better:


Does anything make you feel better than JK Rowling talking about failure?

I came across this video of Jo talking about hitting rock bottom as a low-income single mother, and how that set the scene for her to have nothing to focus on except her one passion project (three guesses what that was).

There have been a lot of distractions in my life that have kept me from writing, and not all of them have been bad (the most notable being my daughter, who, depending on the day – or the hour – is the funniest toddler in the world or a wailing, yogurt-stained creature of nightmares).

But something about this video makes me feel like maybe the times when failure seems to pile up (I’m looking at you, generic rejection emails) aren’t such dire times after all because they clear away the distractions and make you focus on what you’re really yearning to spend your time on.

I love this woman.




Yeah, it sounded better in my head before I typed it out, but stay with me a moment because 2019 is the year I finally step into, I don’t know, this decade? I’m moving my blog over to WordPress from Blogger, and then maybe next year I’ll get a car with power windows (not joking) and see what all this Twitter business is about (only kind of joking).

The point is, my genetic makeup is 1/5 Luddite, and it took me awhile to get here, but now that I am, I’m going to share something that is really going to make you cringe:

I have a mantra for my goals this year. Which is… unusual for me, to say the least. I hate New Year’s resolutions. I tend to think that if you cared enough to change, you’d do it any time of the year, not just January 1. But for some reason, the stars aligned enough this year that I was starting a new job at the beginning of January, and it set the scene for a lot of big changes in my life. I felt like I was finally “getting after it” (“it” being the things I really want to achieve in life). So now, any time my natural inclination to shrink down and withdraw into a little patch of wallpaper seems like it could keep me from getting what I want, I think, “Hell no, get after it.”

If this is getting a little too “Girl, Wash Your Face,” I agree, so I’m going to move on because I couldn’t even wade through the introduction to that book without making the stink face fifteen times.

In summary, I’m an introvert who’s forcing myself to be a little less introvert-y career-wise this year. Being an introvert can be really awesome, and I’m endlessly tired of people trying to use “quiet” as some sort of insult, because it’s not, but I also think you generally have to do things that scare you in order to get anywhere, so this is my theme for 2019 (and hopefully beyond… we’ll see how it goes. I may decide to just hermit it up in 2020).

In writing news, I’m nearing the finish line with my third book, which is not the conclusion to Children of Guerra, but something else entirely that I’m really excited about. Stay tuned for more on that soon!


Hello 2018! Oh, what’s that? It’s almost August, you say?

Here I am again… another year gone without a post. Which really defeats the purpose of a blog. But hey, I keep dreaming I’ll get good at this. And really, hope is what’s keeping all of us alive these days, amiright?

I’ve been working on a new novel. NOT the third Children of Guerra book. I kind of need some distance from that right now. I don’t need to remind anyone of today’s political landscape, mostly because it’s bashing us over the head at every turn. But the thing about COG is that I started writing it at a different time (2010, to be exact) when the types of things that go on in dystopian novels seemed pretty ludicrous to the average observer. And now… not so much. A government locking down borders, trying to convince citizens of alternate truths – it’s just not that far off.

So I started something else. And then it kind of turned into another dystopian novel and now I’m just annoyed with myself. But I do feel a pull toward this new story, so I’m going to keep working on it. And then one day when I’m ready I’ll finish Milena’s story. I think about her and Damien a lot, actually. Though since I have a two-year-old, I tend to imagine them as 30-somethings dealing with the daily catastrophes of parenting. Which is SO not how that story’s going to end, I promise 🙂 What a bummer that would be…

In the meantime, here’s a picture I’ve been looking at for inspiration for this new landscape I’m writing about.


My Mug Shot

I’ve come to grips with the fact that you only need so many mugs. Though becoming a mother meant I was suddenly going through them at an alarming pace with my morning/afternoon/early evening caffeine injections, so I could probably justify buying a couple more…

This writing-themed mug from Etsy shop LennyMud is one I’ve been lusting after for awhile, and it may be time to pull the trigger.

And I just discovered this gem from MyPrettyPrint on Etsy:
This is my every. single. day. I pour the coffee. I feed the baby. I clean up after the baby. The coffee’s cold. I microwave it. I change the bulging diaper. I wash my hands, which just reminds me to wash the dishes. I put the baby down for a nap. I throw clothes in the washer and think maybe I could squeeze in some writing but I need my coffee where is it OH it’s in the microwave and now it’s cold again.
At least there’s a mug that gets me.


A Return and a Reflection

I’ve taken quite the blog break. Not all of it was intentional. My daughter was born last April, and while I assumed I would cease all writing activities for a few months after her arrival, I never expected to be returning to it almost a full year later. But that has often been the theme of this blog, and the spirit behind its title.

Writing the good write means two things to me:
1. Writing about issues that matter.
2. Persevering as a writer every time life gets in the way.

And it does. A lot. I remember when I was in grad school working on the first draft of Children of Guerra. I was 21, and felt giddy with self-assurance that I’d have this thing written in a year, and published the year after that. Of course, both of those processes took considerably longer. And self-publishing was never my plan. Naivety can be a wonderful thing. Would anything creative ever get done if we all knew how arduous it was going to be when we started out?

I fell in love with writing many years ago, and it’s that love that reminds me to return, even when it’s hard, even when I don’t want to, even when I’ve been chasing the little rat monster all over the apartment and now that she’s napping all I want to do is sit on my butt and scroll through Facebook. Please. Just let me mindlessly scroll.

Most days, if I’m going to spend nap time doing something productive, it’s going to involve picking scrambled egg out of my hair. Not writing. But most days add up to weeks and months, and now a year, and I miss my old love. So it’s time to claw my way back to it.

And today, having accomplished that, I want to address #1. The COG series was always supposed to be as diverse as possible. I tried my best to include characters from a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. I’m sure there are people I’ve overlooked, and others I’ve misrepresented. I knew it was never going to be perfect. But I was sure as hell going to try.

The political climate in our country over the past year has at different times made me sad, scared, angry, and hopeless. I know I’m not alone in these feelings, which is perhaps a source of hope in itself. It is a large group of people who still want to spread goodness and compassion and inclusion and love and respect. It is surely too large a group to fit into one cavern deep below the streets of Chicago 🙂

Never before have my characters’ struggles seemed so real to me. And maybe that’s why I can’t ignore them anymore. It’s time to stop dimming the volume on them while I deal with the daily challenges presented by my darling gap-toothed girl. It’s time to articulate what they’ve been murmuring these past months, to shout, to fight for them. They’re important because who they represent is important. Who I am, who my daughter is, who you are. We’re important.

So I write.


Cover Reveal

There are few things that get me more excited for a book (my own or anyone else’s) than a cover reveal. And I didn’t think I could love cover #2 more than I loved cover #1. But that’s what Meredith Ferrill does – she creates beautiful, fun, interesting things that blow me away.

So without further ado, here is her awesome cover art for Descended:

This is one of those moments when I’m both thrilled at the reality of being ready to publish, and dreading letting the book venture out into the world because I’m not actually ready at all. But that’s the way it goes, and I imagine it doesn’t get any easier, no matter how many times you do it.
Side note about Meredith: she’s a writer and an artist, but one of the coolest things she’s working on right now is her year without plastic. I’ve mentioned her blog here before, but it’s worth linking to again: DumpingPlastic.com. Earth Day (the anniversary of her starting this project) is only a couple months away, and watching her take on this challenge for the past ten months has been fascinating and thought-provoking.