I Have a Book Deal! AKA Ultimate Nerd Dance Party

Dec 18, 2013

YOU. GUYS. *clears throat* I hereby announce that The Unhappening of Genesis Lee is going to be a real, live book! AHHHHHHHH!!

It'll be coming from Skyhorse/Sky Pony Press to a bookstore near you in the fall of 2014. Yeah, that's not a typo. That's NEXT YEAR. AHHHHHHHH!!

Ahem. Now that I'm a little raw from screaming, I'll let Publisher's Marketplace make it all official and real-like.

Basically, it happened like this. After the agony of being on submission (because, yeah. The waiting. The pain. The WAITING.), I heard tell from my agent that a particular editor was really excited about Unhappening, and wanted to talk to her publisher about it. Which of course, put me on pins and needles. I didn't let my phone out of hearing distance, and scrambled for it with every *ding* of an email and every *ring* of a phone call. I was finally starting to calm down a little bit, when my phone rang and Hannah Bowman's name came up on caller ID.

My agent said, "Kristin Kulsavage from Skyhorse has made an offer for Unhappening."

And I said, "BA HA HA HA HA HA!"

Or something like that. Basically, I giggled and said "okay" and "awesome" a lot and didn't really have anything coherent to say. Then I hung up and screamed/laughed and went crazy in the kitchen. I swept up my children, who were eating lunch, and danced around the living room with them. I told my 4-year-old son that my book was going to be a real book you could buy in the store, and told him I was excited.

"Are you excited?" I asked him.

"No," he said. "Who's making the book?"

"They're called Sky Pony."

And THEN, this My-Little-Pony-obsessed boy finally got excited. I'll take what I can get. :)

And then my hubby came home and I screamed and he grinned and hugged me and told me he knew it was going to happen--and he meant it, because he's never doubted me for a single second. And I called up my best friend and we screamed together. And I gleefully ran outside to one of my other best friends, yelling her name, and she took one look at me and shrieked, "Oh my gosh!" and we screamed together. And I emailed my crit group and we e-screamed together.

And then I had to shut my mouth, because I couldn't tell anybody else until the deal was official, and I'd probably told too many people already. After the contract was negotiated, Hannah called to go over it with me, and of course, I had to put her on hold at one point to put on My Little Pony for the Kiddo. Then I signed it and took the contract to a friend's to scan and email it in, and her computer wasn't working. So I drove to Kinko's and realized my wallet was home on my desk. Drove all the way back to get it, and then the machine wouldn't read my card. Nor would it read the first two Kinko's cards an employee used. Then it finally worked, and wouldn't attach the scanned file to the email. Then, with my children yelling and rolling on the floor and getting into paper scraps, FINALLY I got the contract sent. Such is the life of a writer, eh?

And then today, I saw my name pop up in Publishers Marketplace. Which means I again screamed and danced in the kitchen with my family while my husband made waffles, and I can finally scream and dance in public! I can't wait to work with Kristin and Sky Pony, and I can't wait to share my book with the world!

So, my friends, as a thank you to all of you who read my erratic blog posts and cheer me on with comments and write blog posts of your own that I love and who share your writerly or non-writerly friendship in any way, I give you-- THE ULTIMATE NERD CELEBRATION DANCE PARTY. Pick your partners and get your groove on! (But, *ahem* don't touch the Hiddles. He's mine.)


How to Double Your Hourly Word Count Without Even Trying

Nov 30, 2013

So. For the first time EVAR (I know, I just used EVAR—I’m that excited), I have won NaNoWriMo! Woot woot, yee haw, and a little bit o’ squee!

And actually, I won it a week ago.

You see, there was a plan to go to the in-laws’ place for the entirety of Thanksgiving week. And because my in-laws are the fun kind, not the scary kind, I knew I wouldn’t get my daily 2,000 words in, and thus would not win NaNo. So last Thursday, kind of at the last minute, I decided I would write the final 15.5 thousand words before we left. That gave me three days. It was going to be my highest daily word count ever—I’ve only once breached 4k a day, and that was on the first day of NaNo this year.

On my best day, I can average a little over 1k an hour, which is not too shabby at all. But I have a toddler, a preschooler, a house that needs to be relatively liveable, and dietary restrictions that mean I have to cook pretty much from scratch and don’t have a lot of eat-out options. I knew there just weren’t enough hours in the day for me to achieve 5k a day unless I stayed up really, really late, but I figured three days of that wouldn’t kill me.

And then. I tried a new method. At least, new to me. Ya’ll are probably going to laugh at me and say, “Wait, you mean you’ve never done it before?” I did a timed word sprint. I set the timer on my phone for half an hour, and I had to keep my fingers typing the entire time.

My first half hour, I logged over 1k. That was DOUBLE my usual hourly count. I was thrilled, and did it again. In my first hour, I had 2.5 thousand words. Which meant my usual daily writing time of 2 hours would get me the 5k a day I needed to win NaNo.

And I did. In a series of half hour timed word sprints, I hammered out over 15,000 words, won NaNo, and finished a (very, very) rough draft of my fourth novel. It was a little mind-numbing, and some of those words are undoubtably not among my greatest. But I achieved my goals, discovered a new method, and I’m thrilled to death about it!

So, my friends, I hope your NaNo month or non-NaNo month and Thanksgiving Day or November 28th were all wonderful! And tell me, have you done timed word sprints before? What do you think about them?

The Power of the First Draft

Nov 14, 2013

Usually when we talk about first drafts, we talk about how hard they are. How fast we can write them. (Hey there, NaNoers!) How much they suck. But really, when you think about it, first drafts have incredible power.

A first draft is where your core story idea is at its freshest, where it's still pure without having been touched by critiques and rewrites. It's where your creativity is really at its peak. You plan to go off one way, but then--surprise!--right in the middle of that, something different flows out of your fingers and the story is going somewhere you didn't anticipate. It might be a little chaotic, but its a sort of chaos like the night sky-- the stars are everywhere, but if you look closely, there are patterns in them, and they're beautiful. That first draft is where so much of the magic happens, where so much of you gets poured into a brand new story that's never been told.

On my very last draft of Unhappening, some comments my agent made reminded me of something in my first draft. I went back, reread a section, and realized something important had somehow gotten lost in all my 15 subsequent drafts. I ended up pulling some things from my first draft right back into my final draft, and it solidified major thematic and character points. It made me glad I saved each and every draft of my book separately, so I could look back on the simplicity and chaos and beauty of my first explosion of creativity on this idea and make sure it was still there in the final product.

So, my friends, as we NaNo or don't NaNo, and as we continue to write in general, I think we should stop bagging on that first draft. I usually enjoy rewrites more than the first draft, but I'm remembering now why I also love drafting so much. Do you prefer first drafts or rewrites? Are you working on a first draft or a rewrite now? What are you loving about the magic of either one as you write?

P.S. On a whim, I started tweaking with my blog design...and ended up staying up until 1 am and creating a whole new look. What do you think?

And Now for Something Completely Different

Nov 1, 2013

Happy NaNo Day 1, writing world! Whether you're participating or not (and usually I do not), it's kind of inspiring to see the internet explode with eager writers cheering each other on to hit their 50,000 words every November. I've attempted it twice, and both times had major issues come up that prevented me. This year, I'm DETERMINED to win.

Wait, I hear you say. Didst not thou speak of a book thou wast already composing last month?

Verily, my friends. I got 25,000 words in--around the first plot point--and found myself screeching to a halt. Because I was writing the wrong story. I didn't like the way the plot was going. This story is going to kill me, I swear, and I won't deny it's been frustrating. And so, I am taking a break to let new plot ideas for that idea percolate. What better to do in the meantime than NaNoWriMo, to keep getting my daily words in?

It helps that I got a brilliant flash of inspiration for a new idea just days after pausing on the previous story. While browsing Etsy, I discovered that you can buy love letters. LOVE LETTERS. Real ones, from couples in the 1920s or 30s or whenever. And BAM, story idea. The thing that's odd about it is that it's not a YA story, nor a sci fi, nor a fantasy.

Yes, I made a mock cover. Just for kicks.
My friends (deep breath), I'm delving into romance. I've never done a straight-up romance before, and I'm pretty excited about it. I've spent the last week researching the genre (I've luckily at least read romance before this, so I'm not totally out of the loop), plotting the main points, and building my characters. It's going to be awesome, folks. The story is flowing out
my ears. Already before 8:00 am on this November the first, I've got almost 400 words down.

It seems writing something completely different is just what I need to get me excited about writing, rather than being frustrated about it.

So, my friends, have you ever written something completely different than you're used to? Are you doing NaNo? If you are, buddy me and we can cheer each other on!

A Different Characterization-- Defining Who We Are by What We Do

Oct 16, 2013

One of the hardest things about my most recent book has been my main character. It's not like she's a pain in the butt or anything. Though, to be honest, she could have been a pain in the butt and I just didn't know it. That was my problem: I had no idea who this character was. And it's pretty freaking hard to write a story when you've got no idea who it's about.

I have a typical process for my characters. I usually have a general idea of who they are, based on the story concept. So I spend a little while going places and trying to see the world how they would see it. This usually gives me tons of character fodder, which I then use to write out a very detailed character information sheet. Backstory, favorite food, character traits, it's all there.
image source

But this girl. Seryn. I had nothing. I couldn't even form an entirely coherent outline for the plot, because how could I know what she would do if I didn't know her?

Then I had an idea.

What if I played this one backwards? Instead of figuring out who she was, and then deciding what she would do, I would return to my pantser roots (kind of). I had a detailed world, a fleshed-out magic system, themes that meant a lot to me, and a general idea of where the story was going to go. I would start writing, and throw out some conflicts. Give Seryn some choices, and think about all the possible decisions someone could make in that situation.

Her choices would tell me who she was. Once I knew what she would do, then I could fill out my character sheet about why she would do that. I guess it hasn't been an exact return to my pantser roots. I've got a sort of structure where I know some of the key conflicts and choices, and then I'm let Seryn decide where to go from there. And it's SO FREAKING FUN.

I love discovering who she is. I love finding new conflicts that are stemming from her choices. I love playing with a new story and a new character in a new way. After all, if who we are is defined by what we do, what better way of developing a character is there?

So, my friends, how do you approach characterization? What are your techniques? How have they changed from book to book?

The Battle Cry of the Writer

Sep 19, 2013


We all stand today united on separate battlefields, determined fire in our eyes and blisters upon our fingers. We bear the scars of rejection. We wear the medals of completed novels, or novels in progress, or novels barely begun.

Our foes are many. They come in uniforms of Exhaustion, Screaming Children, Day Jobs, Plot Holes, and Flat Characters, and Writer's Block. They bear the weapons of discouragement and lack of confidence and fear. But we bear the might of words! The power of the ideas and people and stories in our minds that will not be silenced!

The fight is fierce. We gain a territory of 500 or 2,000 words a day, only to have to retreat and erase many of those words. We scratch out our stories in the dead of night and early morning hours, with nothing but chocolate to sustain us. And each word we write, or change, or even erase only puts us closer to our goal of a completed novel. It is a joy, and it is a challenge many never dare to face, but we come to the fight day after day.

My brothers and sisters. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of writers fails, when we forsake our words and break all bonds of creativity, but it is not this day! This day we FIGHT!*


Okay. So maybe that was a little melodramatic. But writing can be a battlefield. Writing is HARD. Like so many things in life, it's full of contradictions of joy and anguish and fun and exhaustion and lots and lots of work. More than talent, maybe even more than that oft-mentioned perseverance, it takes COURAGE to face the page yet another day and keep pouring our souls onto it.

So, really, I wrote this battle speech for myself, I think. So that on the days when the pain and work of writing out-weigh the joy and fun of it, I can bolster my courage and determination to work hard.

And you know, my friends, I think we should have a battle cry, too. So here. I made this one for a friend, and for you. And for me. Feel free to spread it to the writers of the internet so we can scream it upon the battlefields of our novels and have the courage to win!

*Yes, I totally massacred Aragorn's great battle speech. I regret nothing.

Finding Inspiration-- Filling Yourself so Your Writing Can Fill Others

Sep 4, 2013

I love writing. I love creating. I love finding a story that inspires me, that I want to tell so it inspires others. But lately, in addition to my blog silence, I've had trouble putting words on paper (or computer screen).

I don't know why. I've been fighting with it. I've rearranged my schedule. I've forced my butt into that chair. I've commanded my fingers to type and get those stupid little letters to form words to form sentences to form a story. And I haven't enjoyed it much, and that kills me.

Writing is an act of creation. Creating something takes energy-- a special type of creative energy from inside you. Of course, the act of creating often gives some of that very energy back. But lately, I've had a particular dearth of that energy. Things in my life have been hectic, with some unexpected changes that will be for the better, but at the moment tend to drain my energy, creative or otherwise.

Luckily for me, Labor Day weekend gave me an opportunity to fill my tank. In a place called Duck Creek exists the most perfect woodlands known to man (or at least known to me). I spent time circling lakes, wandering the forest, roasting marshmallows around the fire, and laying in hammocks watching the clouds. I was immersed in Someone Else's creation, and it filled me and inspired me.

I always find inspiration and creative energy in the creations of someone else. Books, movies, nature, music, good food-- all these things took creative energy to make, and they're still brimming with it. I can fill myself up with it, and then turn around and create something that will fill up another person down the road. It's what I love about creating-- knowing that some day, someone else might benefit from my creative works.

I'm ready to go again. Excited and happy to think about channeling that energy I found into something new and wonderful. And if that energy starts draining again, I'm glad I remembered where to find it.

So, my friends, where do you find inspiration? How do you fill your own creative coffers? How was your weekend?

The Trials of Writing the Next Book

Jul 23, 2013

Thank you all so much to people who donated and spread the word about my sister and her family after their house fire! They received so much help in so many forms, and their family is doing well. Human beings are amazing!

In writing news, I'm working on a new book. And I swear, it's going to kill me. Every book I write is a new challenge in some way. I've developed strengths from working on previous books, and those are being applied-- but I'm also hoping to develop new strengths writing the current book, which means trying things I've never done before.

If I wrote by hand, this whole page would be
crossed out... source
That makes it hard. But you know what else makes it hard? WRITING THAT DAG-GONE FIRST DRAFT. Even the parts that should be easy now because, heck, you wrote some pretty decent characters with one pretty twisty plot before-- well, those parts are not easy. Not in a first draft.

Because you forget. You've spent so much time revising and editing and cutting and adding and tweaking your last book to get it oh-so-close-to-perfect, that you forget how much you DON'T KNOW in the first draft. In my last book, I made all sorts of tweaks to bring out a strong voice for my character.

But this one? I'm getting super frustrated because the voice is bland and boring and isn't actually a voice at all as much as me just hammering out words that create a decent sentence. And then I get frustrated that I'm frustrated, because how can I know my character's voice when I haven't even written her yet? I haven't created those moments where I find out who she is.

It takes a few drafts, at least for me, to find those things out.

And you know what? That's okay. I have to just keep repeating the mantra: First drafts suck and that's okay, just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing writing writing...

But you know what I love about writing that next book? All the excitement of discovering those little things about a new story that you KNOW are going to make it great. In a few drafts.

So, my friends, what trials do you face when writing a new book? And I'm curious, what are you writing now? My new book is a fantasy with magic based on labyrinths and combat styles from India, with an African culture flare. What's yours?

A Personal Tragedy: Asking for help after my sister's house fire

Jul 11, 2013

This morning, I woke up to news I'm still trying to process. My sister Kylee and her family lost their home to a fire last night. The fire started in the garage, and my sister was able to dash into the house and get her baby out before it spread. Her husband also escaped uninjured, and we are all incredibly grateful they are all safe.

Kylee and me at our other sister's wedding.
The garage was gutted, and a portion of the house destroyed. What wasn't burned was melted from the heat, or severely smoke-damaged. Basically, they lost everything, or close to it. And now I'm asking for your help. If you can donate money or items, or even just spread the word, it would go a long way to helping Kylee, Joey, and baby Jakob get their feet under them.

I started a fundraising page, so if you're inclined to donate, you can do that here.

If you have items you'd be willing to donate, you can find a list of what they need and how to contact me on the same website. (Or you can just email me.)

If you can even just tweet a link to this post, or blog or Facebook about it to spread the word, that would help so much.

The fire damage
When we told my 3-year-old son that his aunt's house had burned down, he said, "I can fix her house! I'm good at fixing things!" I know the writing community is also so good at "fixing things." I hate to ask for things, but Kylee is my sister, and I love her dearly, so now I'm asking for your help. Because she desperately needs it.

Thank you so much, my friends.

Defining your Physical Space to Promote Creativity-- The Feng Shui of Writing

Jul 1, 2013

Okay, so I actually know next to nothing about Feng Shui. But when I was at the LDStorymakers conference in May, Sandra Tayler did a whole class on structuring your life to promote creativity. One thing in particular stuck out to me: your physical space.

See, I don't have an office. Or a desk. Or even a little nook to do my writing. I have...wherever I take my laptop. A corner of the couch or the kitchen table usually is what I get, and it works. But sometimes, I really, REALLY wish I had an actual, dedicated space for writing. Somewhere that is just for that, where I can escape just a bit from the rest of life and focus on the lives I'm creating with words.

In her class, Sandra pointed out that you DO need some kind of space that is completely dedicated to your writing. That physical space is like a trigger to your brain: "It's writing time now." So what's a writer to do when you don't have a room just for writing?

Well...you need a space. That doesn't necessarily mean a room. Or a nook or desk or whatever. Your writing space can be encapsulated in something as small as-- get this-- a laptop.

It's writing time! And cute baby time! (My baby's
cuter. Just sayin'.) source
One of Sandra's ideas was to have something you could (literally or figuratively) open and close. This idea works really well for me. When my laptop is open, it's writing time. When it's closed, it's mommy time. Of course, this doesn't always work perfectly. I still mess around on the internet when the laptop's open, and I have writing ideas while I'm mommy-ing that I jot down so I can play with them later when it's writing time again.

In general, though, my laptop is MY SPACE. I even "decorate" it, putting up rotating background pictures that relate to my current project. It's helped a lot to keep me focused so I don't start feeling frazzled. It really has started to "train my brain" to write when the computer is open, and it's like the whole writing section of my brain opens along with my laptop!

So, my friends, what is your space? Is it dedicated to your writing? And how's writing and life going for ya'll since I've been MIA for a while?

A Knight of the Cosmic Table (AKA Interviewed by DPK!)

May 29, 2013

Hey all! I am honored to announce that the inimitable David Powers King has officially dubbed me to knighthood.

Check out the conversation between David and me, and see if I pass the test to join the other awesome writers as a Knight of the Cosmic Table!

What the Reader Sees-- and Why it's All That Really Matters

May 22, 2013

It's now been a few weeks since I attended the amazing LDStorymakers writing conference. In addition to all the wonderful classes and awesome people, there was the most moving and powerful keynote address I've ever heard. Author Anne Perry stood up and reminded us who we are.

We are storytellers. We are members of one of the oldest and most honored traditions on the planet.

Stories, she reminded us, are how we find and attempt to understand the truths we seek about life-- who we are, where we're from, and where we're going. What should we do that is wise? What is good and stupid and what will happen when we make mistakes? They remind us that when you act less than you could've been, you make yourself less.

In this age of instant communication and distraction, I've found that sometimes I let the story itself take a backseat. I let other things matter: how long has it been since I blogged, and how many comments are on my recent post, and who should I tweet, and she has more followers, and he got more offers of agent representation, and her book is coming out next year and why isn't mine yet.

And I forget that these things don't matter. I am a storyteller. A conveyor of truths through the medium of lying we call fiction. A shaper of people's lives-- even if the only life my stories shape is my own. That is what matters. The reader is what matters. They don't see how many rejections I got, and how many months it took me to revise, and the review on Goodreads from someone who hated my book, and how many stories I wrote before I managed to communicate the things I meant to. The reader sees the story-- and not necessarily the story I wrote. They see in the story what means something to them.

Great writing, Anne Perry said, is relatively simple. It uses simple words. The basic words of ordinary people hold the meanings dearest
to them. Put your heart on the page. Write the thing that is most beautiful to you. What's in your heart is precious-- it enriches you. Let it enrich others. Your book may be the companion some reader has been seeking.

So, my friends, remember the power you have. You are a storyteller. You have the ability to communicate to readers the truths they are seeking through your stories. All the reader sees is your final words on the page, and the meaning in those words that is precious to them. And that is all that really matters.

Healthy Writers Club-- Eat Well to Write Well

May 17, 2013

Yeah, I live here. Be jealous.
I'm back with a Healthy Writers Club post! And I must say, I'm pretty proud of my healthiness lately. This week, I went on a gorgeous 4 mile hike and did a short run. The hike kinda killed me-- I'm not used to that many miles at that altitude at that grade. So my legs are pleasantly sore.

I talk a lot about exercise in HWC, because it's very important. But just as important is FOOD. Food--especially yummy, comforting food-- is a staple of every writer's day. Bacon and chocolate covered raisins and diet Coke and chocolate covered cinnamon bears and who knows what else; these are the things that fuel our creative fire.

Or do they?

I recently made some major diet changes at the recommendation of my doctor. Notice I didn't say I "went on a diet." These are permanent, healthy changes. Essentially, I ditched all dairy and processed foods, pulled back on my meat intake, and am eating tons of fruits and veggies. And OH MY GOSH, you guys.

First of all, I lost 9 pounds in two weeks. Yeah. Nine. And the tiredness and fatigue I'd been dealing with for who knows how long? GONE. Like, within 72 hours. All of a sudden I felt like a teenager again, bouncing with energy. Added to that, the mental fog I didn't even realize I'd been struggling to see through cleared up.

I'm not kidding, you all. It has been a night and day difference for me. Other people around me have even commented on how energetic I am and how good I look. It has made a huge difference for my writing. Instead of forcing through tiredness and fog to slap out some ideas and get words on the page, my mind is sharp. My creativity has increased. Ideas flow faster and more easily. I recently figured out a major story problem in less than 10 minutes while putting my daughter to bed.

FOOD, my friends. Food can be your enemy, or it can change your life. Am I saying you can't have your chocolate and bacon? No. Food can be used to comfort and make us happy. But think about your diet. Don't think about cutting, if you don't want. Think about adding, instead-- fruits, veggies, whole grains. Start simple, maybe with a fruit shake or green smoothie for breakfast. I promise, it will change your life. And your writing.

So, my friends, will you take the challenge and add more healthy things to your diet? Or are you way ahead of me and eating healthy already? And just curious, what's your favorite comfort food? (Mine's the chocolate raisins. Yum!)

In Which I Almost Cause the Untimely Death of My Agent

May 15, 2013

Last week was the LDStormakers conference right here in my home town! I'll be posting about some of the great things I learned over the next few weeks. I've been to this conference four years running, and it's always amazing. This year was no exception, and it had the added bonus that I got to meet my fabulous agent, Hannah Bowman.

We had dinner on Thursday night, during which I determined that she is basically my agent-y soulmate. Which I'd already kinda known, but it was made clear to me when we agreed on everything from Martin Freeman being more attractive than Benedict Cumberbatch (I know, so sue us-- but watch Sherlock, and tell me Martin isn't adorable), to the fall of the once-great Doctor Who.

But the kicker came on Saturday. We just so happen to have GORGEOUS mountains in Utah, and Hannah asked if I'd take her and Harlequin editor Victoria Curran up Provo Canyon. We had a lovely drive up to Sundance Ski Resort, enjoying the canyon. On the way back, I drove them to see a few sights around town. Then we had to turn around and head back to the conference.

I was on a side street. It was empty. I SWEAR there was no one behind me when I checked my mirrors. So I pulled a u-turn.

Brakes shrieked and a car swerved around me. It screeched to a stop in front of me and two teenage boys stared at me, wide-eyed, from the back seat.

AND THEN. The driver gets out of the car. He marches toward us. Hands are waving in the air as he shouts, "What the h*ll?!" My first thought: I almost killed my agent, an editor, and three people in the other car. Second thought: Drive away from scary man. Third thought: Someone would like to talk to you. Roll down the window and talk to nice, scary man.

I rolled down the window. (I KNOW.) And what did nice, scary man say to me? He leaned down and said, "I'm sorry for swearing at you."

I stared.

"I was just really upset," he continued.

"I'm sorry I almost hit you with my car," I choked out.

He got back in his car and drove away.

Hannah was incredulous. "Is that road rage in Utah? I was ready to go all New York on him, and you just APOLOGIZED to each other! All he said was 'h*ll!' I say worse things than that all the time!"

And I was very glad we could laugh about it, instead of having to call cops/an ambulance/etc. And I was very mortified that my bad driving was put on such public display.

So, my friends, take heart. When you're querying, or tweeting an agent, or pitching to an agent in person, know that whatever mistakes you make, it will never be as bad as the time I almost caused the untimely death of my agent.

The Author You've Always Wished You Were, AKA What I'd Look Like as Brandon Sanderson

May 6, 2013

I'm off to the LDStorymakers Conference this weekend! Not only is it a fab conference, but I get to meet my fab agent! Woot.

So in the meantime, I give you something to giggle about. I got a haircut today (because I can't leave my hair untouched for more than a few months). I always love getting a new look.

And then I began to daydream, and this daydream featured some of my favorite authors. What would it be like if I could be like one of them?

What if I could create complex worlds and gripping plots like Brandon Sanderson? Maybe I'd look more like this.

Or maybe I could craft rich, real, tortured characters like Dan Wells. I might resemble this picture.
What about beautiful themes? If I were like Brodi Ashton, maybe I could weave those in more deeply.

James Dashner is amazing at thrilling, page-turning adventures. I'd love to be a bit more like him.

I think it's safe to say we could all happily try to emulate our favorite authors' writerly strengths...but maybe not their writerly faces. We all have our own beautiful faces, and our own writing strengths, too. It's great to incorporate those traits we admire, but don't forget, we are all individuals. And we make better books that way. Be you in your writing, and be proud of it.

So, my friends, what author have you always admired and wished to be a bit more like?

Healthy Writers Club: Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Apr 26, 2013

Due to some changes in life, my health goals have also shifted a bit. Basically, I've had to cut back on the type and intensity of my exercise, at least for now. I'm still doing occasional Zumba, but shorter and less intense workouts. Running has been sidelined for now. Instead, I stepped a little outside my comfort zone and am trying something new. Yoga.

I've done a bit of yoga before, but didn't really get into it. However, I'm trying a new yoga video, and am kind of shocked by how much I enjoy it. It makes me feel strong and flexible (even though I'm not much of either), and gives me a good workout without wearing me out. It's a perfect fit for my life right now, and I never would have found it if I hadn't decided to give something another try that was just a bit out of my comfort zone.

Something similar happened in my writing recently. I had been working on a story that just wasn't feeling right. I love the story, but it wasn't fitting my life at the moment. So I spent a few days daydreaming, and came up with a new idea. And it was nothing I'd ever done before-- fantasy set in a completely different world. I was a little hesitant at first. But I've read tons of high fantasy and second-world fantasy, and my awesome crit group has written some so they can tell me if I go astray. I've been reading new books, studying up on fantasy writing itself, and planning out this new story that's a bit out of my comfort zone.

I bought this necklace the other day because these
labyrinths are part of my magic system. Fun!
And I LOVE it. It fits my life right now. It hits some real personal and emotional buttons for me. I'm so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone to give this one a try!

So, my friends, what have you done lately that's outside your comfort zone?

The Difference Between Being a "Beginning" Writer and a "Bad" Writer

Apr 16, 2013

So. Hi there. It's been a while. Some personal stuff meant I took a sort of impromptu blog break, but no worries-- all is well! And the time off gave me a chance to muse on further blog topics, so here goes!

I've been thinking a lot about writing, publishing, and how it all "works." For me, personally, I've been writing for years. And I'm going to be honest: it took a while for me to write anything that could be considered a good story. But here's the thing. That doesn't mean I was a "bad" writer when I started out. I was a BEGINNING writer.

Nobody listens to an eight-year-old slaughter Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the piano and says they're a bad pianist. They're learning. They're figuring out which notes are which keys, and which fingers go where, and how to play them smoothly, and quickly, and correctly. And that's wonderful.

Writing takes time. We start off slaughtering a semi-decent idea. And that's wonderful. Sure, it's no masterpiece. It's our first, or third, or seventeenth attempt, and we managed some words on paper that resemble a story. We learn about character development, and which plot points go where, and how to pace things and add emotion. When I look back on my early writing, I smile at myself-- not because I'm laughing, but because I'm proud of my beginning-writer-self.

Because being a beginner is HARD. It takes more work. It involves more frustration. And yet we slapped those stories together and made something real, even if it was just a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle.

One reason I've brought this up is because of the instant gratification of self-publishing. Now, don't misunderstand-- I think self-publishing can be a fabulous and legitimate way to publish your work. I've read some incredible works that have been self-published. BUT. I think it's a path that's, if possible, even more fraught with obstacles than traditional publishing.

One thing I've noticed is a lot of people who query like crazy, don't get signed, and decide to self-publish instead. Again-- this is NOT necessarily a bad thing. There are a myriad of reasons a book may not get picked up. But it's important to remember that one of the big reasons is that the book is just still a little too close to the beginner end of the scale. And there is NOTHING wrong with that. With self-publishing, the cautionary tale is taking that beginner-end novel and shopping it to the masses. In a way, it's selling yourself short. Instead of moving on to the next book and getting further along the writing path, it can hold you back by keeping you focused on a story that's just not quite there yet.

I may get some flak for this, though I hope not. Self-publishing, just like traditional publishing, is a completely personal decision, and often depends on the individual book. It can be a valid, and sometimes better, way to get your particular story into the hands of readers. It involves a heck of a lot of hard work, and I have serious respect for those who do it.

But it's not something to rush into. Yes, moving from a beginning writer to a competent writer to a great writer takes time. We're all still hiking somewhere along that path. It's okay for it to take time. It should take time. So let it. Enjoy it. Don't let the world of the internet tell you that publishing is something you must achieve by this time next year.

You are not a bad writer, no matter where you are along the path, as long as you're moving forward.

So, my friends, what are your thoughts?

Dark Days Author Tour and HWC

Mar 15, 2013

Hey, Healthy Writers! I'm afraid my report today is dismal. Earlier in the week, I strained a muscle, which pinched a nerve. I'm writing this with numb, tingly fingers and a sore bicep. That, coupled with the fact that our bedroom and storage room flooded and our bed is currently in the living room, means I did practically no exercise this week. Here's to a better next week!

In other news, I'm lucky to live in a place with LOTS of author events. Last week, me and my crit partner Chersti got to attend the Dark Days tour! Dan Wells, Kiersten White, Brodi Ashton, Debra Driza, Claudia Gray, and Lauren Oliver, all in one place. The Q&A was hilarious, the authors friendly, and the company entertaining.

I even got to chat a bit with Natalie Whipple and Jenn Johansson, who are awesome and local, so I get to see them at a lot of local events. Natalie was a bit surprised I wanted a pic with her, but I'm just prepping for when she's even more famous. ;) And sadly, I couldn't find Jenn again for a picture.

I got Fragments signed by Dan Wells (which is tough, since he lives in Germany now), and stayed after to chat with him. Seriously, folks, if you haven't read Partials, check it out! It's brilliant. I'm a huge Dan Wells fan ever since he was my instructor at a "boot camp" several years ago. And especially since reading his mind-twisting books.

So, my friends, have you done any fun writerly/readerly things lately? Who are some of your favorite authors you'd love to meet?

The Other Half of a Good Writing Career (and Giveaway Winners!)

Mar 11, 2013

First things first, folks: the winners of the Mustaches for Maddie Giveway!

Winner of a free copy of The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris: JESSIE OLIVEROS!
Winner of a 30 page and query critique from me: MARLA!
Winner of a query critique from Hannah Bowman: MELANIE FOWLER!

I'll be contacting the winners today. Thank you all so much for participating and not only spreading the word about Chad's book, but for making Maddie smile. She's smiling a lot, I hear, and recovering well.

It's so amazing to me how incredibly supportive the writing community is. Not only did I see mustache pics that made me giggle, and read literally hundreds of people's support for Chad, but the internet was full of loving people this past week. I've seen people spread the word to help promote Poison by Bridget Zinn, who passed away before she could see her book on the shelves (it releases tomorrow, can't wait!). I've heard about the Overcoming Adversity anthology, to support a young man with cerebral palsy getting to a good university. Everywhere, I've seen good people helping other good people.

When I very first talked to my agent on the phone about representation, one of the questions I asked is what she expected of me as a client. It basically boiled down to this: write good books, and be a good person. And really, that's the basics of a successful writing career. Of course you have to write good books-- that's just a given. Being a good person-- being kind, loving, supportive, honest, helpful, encouraging, trustworthy, dependable, etc.-- is the other half. It shows in your writing, and it shows when you interact with people.

And let's be honest. Being a good person is important not just for writing, but for life in general. And I've seen soooo much evidence lately that we're all pretty good people inside.

So, my friends, thank you. Thank you for being good. Thank you for being kind. Thank you for being you. I have a ridiculous amount of warm, fuzzy feelings I'm directing to all of you!

Mustaches for Maddie-- a Giveaway for a Brave Little Girl

Mar 1, 2013

UPDATE: See a video of Chad, Maddie, and mustaches in the news! 

Today, instead of the usual Healthy Writers Club about my own health, I want to focus on the health of a little girl named Maddie.

Earlier this week, writers Chad Morris and Shelly Brown wrote about their daughter, Maddie, who had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. In a whirlwind, they were all rushed into a world of tests and surgeries. Chad's book, The Inventor's Secret, comes out next week, but he wrote about how his dream of his daughter "having all the chances in the world" seriously trumps his book dream.

Maddie is doing well, recovering from successful surgery. On Facebook, Chad and Shelly said their daughter finds mustaches HILARIOUS, and asked for pictures of people with mustaches to make her smile.

So here's what we're going to do.

Because Chad's focus is on his daughter, we're going to help him get the word out about his book. And at the same time, we're going to make a brave little girl smile. I'm giving away one copy of his book, The Inventor's Secret, what I've heard is a thrilling time-travel adventure for middle-graders. I'm also giving away a critique of your query and first thirty pages by me. AND my brilliant and awesome agent, Hannah Bowman, is offering a query critique!

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is spread the word! Option 1: share YOUR biggest secret on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, and link back to the contest so we can spread the word about Chad's book.

Option 2 (and 3 and 4): Use some yarn, use a finger, use some makeup or Photoshop, and take a picture of you, mustachioed to bring some cheer to Maddie! Then tweet, Facebook, or blog your picture for Maddie to wish her health and spread the word about Chad's book.  On Twitter, use the hashtag #mustachesformaddie so we can all share the joy! (This is in addition to your secret-sharing post above-- you can get multiple entries for multiple tweets/blogs/Facebooks!) Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, and I'll pick a random winner next Friday!

Here's a sample tweet or Facebook status-- you can just copy and paste with your own mustachioed pic added:

Post a mustache pic and win @ChadCMorris's book to help his sick daughter! #mustachesformaddie http://bit.ly/Z6DtPB

And if you think Chad's book sounds like fun and want to order a copy to support him, it's already available on Amazon!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Understanding Story Structure: How to Plan-- or Pants-- a Better Novel

Feb 26, 2013

That's right, I'm at it again-- extolling the virtues of story structure. But let's get clear on one thing: by STORY STRUCTURE I don't necessarily mean PRE-PLOTTING YOUR BOOK.

That's what I used to think about dreaded "plotting." How can I possibly be a plotter instead of a pantser? I wondered. I don't know what to plan until I've written it. I read about things like the snowflake method and still felt lost. It wasn't until I read Larry Brooks' Story Engineering that I finally got it. Planning meant hitting specific points in story structure-- and I just didn't quite understand what those points were.

Now, before I dive in, let me clarify one thing: structure does not mean every story will be the same, boring, formulaic story. It simply means your story follows a certain pattern of reader expectations. Which means you can create a much more satisfying story for your readers. The human brain is used to seeking and following patterns, and some patterns-- like 3 act story structure-- are embedded in us from years of movie-watching and book-reading. Even the very basic stuff of life, DNA, is only made up of FOUR things (guanine, cytosine, thymine, and adenine) in a specific double-helix structure, but look how many species of plants and animal abound on Earth.

The most common form of story structure in Western culture is the 3 act structure. I did a detailed post about that here, but let's simplify for this post. At its most basic, story structure is this: 1) the character meets opposition/antagonist and makes a goal to defeat it, 2) the character fails to achieve the goal, 3) the character succeeds and beats the antagonist.

To break it down a little further, author Dan Wells uses what he calls 7 point story structure, which touches all the basic points of the 3 act system. Basically, your book should hit these 7 points for optimum reader satisfaction.

Hook: What draws the reader in; it sets your character in a position opposite of where they'll be at the end.
Plot Turn 1: The call to adventure-- the story really beings and there's no turning back for the character. (about 1/3 of the way through the book)
Pinch 1: The stakes heat up; more danger/pressure is introduced.
Midpoint: The character discovers something new that allows them to move from reaction to action against the antagonist. (The middle of the book, obviously.)
Pinch 2: The stakes heat up again; often, something big is lost. (Often called the "all is lost" moment.)
Plot Turn 2: The character learns the final information to destroy the antagonist, often at great personal cost. (about 2/3 of the way through the book)
Resolution: The character saves the day.

Does this mean you have to plan out each of these points-- and all the scenes between-- before writing your book? Nope. Once you understand structure, you will start to do it instinctively as you write. And the more you learn, the more you find you can expand from that. For example, Dan Wells once mentioned how he tried to use the structure of a musical fugue to write one of his books (it didn't end up working for that story, but it could for another).

Here's the gist: structure makes for a more satisfying story. Don't be afraid of it, and don't be afraid it makes for a formulaic story. Listen to your favorite song-- it has a structure too. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. Of course, that often varies, and some do away with it altogether. But the structure doesn't destroy the song or take away its beauty and individuality.

So, my friends, here's a challenge. Go watch your favorite TV show or movie. Try to pinpoint each of the seven points above. The more you see it in the stories around you, the better you'll understand it, and the better your stories will get. And tell me-- what are your thoughts about story structure? Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you use a type of structure, even unconsciously? Any questions about story structure?

Interview with My Agent (and Me)!

Feb 14, 2013

A while back, awesome writer and blogger Krista van Dolzer at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) invited me and my agent Hannah Bowman to participate in her Agent-Author Chat feature! Today, the interview went live. Hop on over and hear how I got the idea for my book, Hannah's advice on querying and writing, and read my query!

Feel free to ask questions, too. I'll pop on occasionally to answer them (though I don't think Hannah will have the time today).

As for this week's Healthy Writer's Club, I did Zumba three times for forty-five minutes each! Woo hoo! I, ahem, won't mention how many Valentine's Day cookies I had, though...

Happy Valentine's Day, my friends!

Preparing for a Live Pitch to an Agent or Editor

Feb 12, 2013

Writing conference season is near-- hooray! I'm signed up for LDStorymakers in May, which I'm really excited for, especially because I'll get to meet my awesome agent, Hannah Bowman! I'm also (possibly) going to Life, the Universe, and Everything this weekend, if I can get away from baby Noodles for a bit.

Don't do this. (source)
One thing that's awesome about conferences is the chance to meet-- and pitch to-- agents and editors. I pitched to Holly Root at last year's Storymakers, and it was a great experience. Did I end up signing with her? Obviously not. Did that make it worthless? Not at all. I got the chance to talk with a great agent, and get used to talking about my book, both in short and at length. It gave me confidence, motivated me, and made me comfortable knowing agent's are like you and me. So here are a few tips I learned from pitching last year.

Crafting your Pitch
I recommend having a short, one-sentence elevator pitch, as well as a slightly longer (query-length) pitch. I crafted my short pitch first, using the 4 C's format: Character, Conflict, Choice, and Consequence. Something similar to, "When [character] faces [conflict], he/she must [choice] before [consequence]." You can change it up however works. From their, expand on the story. A pitch is simply a short story that tells...well, the story of your story! Choose the details that can structure your pitch like a story. Tell the first part only-- you don't want to give away the end. A good point is to tell up to your first plot point/inciting incident/hero's call to action. Remember, you've got limited time, so keep it short and catchy.

Prepping your Pitch
People have different ideas on this, but my preference is to MEMORIZE your pitch. You want to give it naturally if possible (i.e. you don't want to sound like a robot droning out a script), but you want to be able to give it, period. And odds are, you'll be nervous. So memorize the pitch, in case you need to fall back on that. If you do end up a little robot-like (raising my hand, here), the agent/editor won't mind. They know you're a little nervous!

After memorizing your pitch, PRACTICE it. Not just reciting it. Practice telling it like you'd tell a story. Maybe inject a little information, or leave some out. Let yourself get excited. You want them to be excited too, and they can't be if you aren't! 

One thing I did was prep a document I called a Pitch Plan. I wrote out the who/what/when/where's, typed out my pitches, and put all my research I'd done on the agent (which I HIGHLY recommend). I also prepped answers to common questions agents/editors ask: Why does your book stand out in this market? Who are your characters? What are the themes? What published author would you compare your style to? Who are your favorite authors/books? Is this a series/explain more about future books? Next, I wrote out some questions I wanted to ask the agent: What's your communication style? How do you approach edits and marketing? What are some of your favorite books/authors? How do you feel an agent/author can stay on top of the publishing game?

Then, I staged it. Yup, that's right. I imagined the agent sitting in front of me and staged our conversation, multiple times, in multiple ways. Out loud and early in the morning when no one could hear. :) This helped a TON with my nerves, because I felt truly prepared.

Delivering Your Pitch
And now for the scary/fun part: giving the pitch. Before you go in, give yourself some time to breathe deeply-- this does actually help with nerves. Then, smile. It will give you confidence and help you be in the right mode for talking. Go in, give a firm handshake and a smile, and thank them for meeting with you. It's okay to wait for them to start-- they've likely got more experience, and will probably chat for a brief minute, then ask about your book.

You're ready-- you've practiced. Tell them about your book. Give your pitch. Be enthusiastic, but not overbearing. Share your love for the book, not just the book itself. Then, see if they ask for more, or ask a question. This is your book, so even if they ask a question you didn't prep, you know how to answer. If you've got time left, ask some questions of your own. If they request pages, take down the information and thank them again.

And you're done! And you did great. :)

So, my friends, have you pitched before? Any tips? Will you be pitching soon and have any questions? Ask away! And check out the WriteOnCon Mid-Winter Pitch Fest to learn about pitching online!

The Healthy Writers Club - Trying Something New

Feb 8, 2013

Not going to lie, I'm pretty impressed with my healthiness this week. In addition to exercising more, I also made several healthy meals from scratch and cut back on my junk consumption. And I feel great!

I'm kind of shocked by how much I'm enjoying my exercise. Since it's still cold and pollution-y in my neck of the woods, running has been on hold. My Zumba Kinect game is...well, let's say I can understand what all the hype is about. It is SO MUCH FUN. I'm actually finding excuses to exercise, instead of finding excuses not to. I'm so glad I gave something new a shot.

I think trying something new is important in all aspects of life. It keeps things fresh. In writing, I often try out new processes. In my next book, I'm trying something totally different with world-building. I love playing with new things in my writing-- and exercise.

Weekly Stats: 20 minutes of  Zumba x1, 45 minutes of Zumba x2
In-flight Entertainment Favorite: Can't pick out a song this week-- I had several favorites!
Coolest moment: Completing my first 45 minutes class and feeling great
Hardest moment: The last song before cool-down on the 45 minute workouts

So, my friends, do you like to try new things? What have you tried lately-- in writing, staying healthy, or life in genera--that's been new and fun?

When to Let Go of a Manuscript

Feb 5, 2013

I did something fun this past Christmas. For those who've been around long enough, you might remember my previous manuscript, Devolutionaries. I worked on it for over a year, queried it for 8 months, and got some bites but ultimately nobody loved it quite enough.

Except my teenage brother. I emailed it to him, and he raved about it. Multiple times. Which, of course, made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So for Christmas, I uploaded the book to Lulu and had it printed out in book-form for him. (And,  let's not lie. For me too, because I still love the book. And yes, I got a little giddy when a book came in the mail with my name on it even though it was basically just an expensive print job.)

Farewell, lizard-alien-from-another-
dimension story! *not the
plot of my story.* (source)
I mentioned this to some online writing friends, and someone asked me if I loved it so much, and if others loved it so much, why did I let that one go?

This is a very tough question. But basically, it boils down to this: it simply wasn't my best work anymore. I'm not saying it was badly written. In fact, I picked it up about a year ago to decide if I wanted to go back to it, and I was quite proud of it. I couldn't necessarily pick out anything WRONG with it (though I'm sure crit partners could). But in the end, I left it in its virtual drawer.

Because I'd written another book in the meantime. A better book. In some subtle ways, I'd become a better writer, and no amount of fixing that old book would bring it up to caliber. It was kind of a bittersweet moment. You see, that book was where I really applied myself to the craft for the first time. I learned more through that book than any I've ever written. And it's still (in my opinion) a great story. But it had its time.

I've seen a lot of writers stick to one book. They rewrite it and revise it and edit it and start from scratch and rewrite it again for ten years. And you know what? That's okay. Because only you as a writer can decide if this work is the one that will take just a bit more push and hit that hot button. I have a friend who did that and, bam, the story found itself. But make sure to write other things in the meantime. Brandon Sanderson himself (yeah, I'm totally name-dropping like I'm the guy's best friend *no shame*) told all of us students to write something completely new for his class. (Which I initially ignored, and learned to rue the day, but that's another story...)

Writing something new is the best way to apply what you learned with the old. So, when do you let go of one and move on? There's no solid answer. It takes being honest with yourself. It takes crit partners willing to be honest with you. It takes working on something new and going back to see if you can truly make that story what it should be. And it takes a willingness to let go and play with a new story that has potential to be a million times better.

So, my friends, have you had a hard time letting go of a manuscript? How did you know it was time? Or did you go back to one and make it better? How did you know that one could get there?

Rediscovering Creativity in Your Writing

Jan 29, 2013

If you've read this blog much, you know I'm a BIG fan of structure as part of stories. I honestly believe that having the right kind of structure can help you tell the story you want, whether you plan it or pants it. Either way, that first draft is going to need some revisions. I go through specific drafts as I revise-- one might focus on character arcs and relationships, another on macro plot revisions (cutting/adding/restructuring), another on enlivening the setting, etc.

I love it. I'm one of those crazy people who relishes doing an autopsy of my own work so I can find out what killed it. The fun thing is that I'm god of my world, so once I know what's wrong, I get to figure out how to bring it back to life.

Here's the thing about revisions. They require a more left-brained part of me than came out in the first draft. The deeper I get into revisions, the more nit-picky and analytic I get as I get down to the details. The creative part that paired up with the analytic part earlier in revisions gets a little forgotten.

This is how I felt during that fun revision. (source)
This time around, I did something new and fun. After some brainstorming with my agent, that creativity sparked back to life. So I did another round of revisions, focused on playing again. I had spontaneous ideas that made me giggle. I let my character loose so she could think and say what she wanted again. I let myself think of crazy things that would never work, but that led to less-crazy things that would. You know what was amazing about it? I got excited. I rediscovered how much I loved this story. I had fun with it again.

And the story is all the better for it. Bringing creativity in after all the structure and analyzing added back the excitement of the first draft. Hopefully for the reader, too, and not just for me.

So, my friends, how does your right brain work with your left brain? Does one lose out to the other at certain points? Do you ever do anything to bring back the fun and creativity? Or are you just a bucket full of creative enlightenment at all times?

And if you haven't heard, the awesome David Powers King announced a publishing contract for his co-written book, Woven! I've been looking forward to reading this one. Congrats to DPK and Michael Jensen!

Healthy Writers Club - Dedication

Jan 25, 2013

I'm hopping in post-Zumba right now. If I were hand-writing this, my words would be a wobbly mess due to my weakling arms that are still shaking.

But man, it feels good to be more active again! In my lovely Utah these last few weeks, it's hardly gotten above freezing. In fact, the last few days we've had freezing rain. Which means not only no running, but basically no outside, PERIOD. It's killing me (and the Kiddo). My Zumba Kinect game has saved my life. At the same time, I could use the weather as an excuse not to work out. Honestly, part of the reason I stuck at it this week is because I knew I'd have to be accountable to ya'll!

Pretty sure I look something like this when I dance. (source)
I've been thinking about dedication. To achieve any goal-- write a book, get in shape, run a half-marathon-- you have to dedicate a certain amount of time and energy. Why do we do it? Especially when it hurts. ('Cause ZUMBA FREAKING HURTS.) Part of it is the goal itself: I really, really want to be less jiggly, and I really, really want to run a half-marathon. But again, why do I want those things? To feel better about my body? To have more energy to play with my kids? To have bragging rights that I ran 13.1 miles? To experience the thrill of completing a race again? Basically, all of the above. And something else that's harder to define. A determination to do what I said I was going to do.

And let's face it. Just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not fun.

We're pretty amazing, people. We've all picked a goal (healthy-wise or writing-wise) and even when it's hard and NOT fun, we stick with it. Go, you! And go, me!

Weekly Stats: Zumba 20 minutes x2; Star Wars Kinect 30 min (This is so not a cop-out. YOU try jumping and dodging and waving a light saber for half an hour.)
In-flight Entertainment Favorite: If I was from Paris
Coolest Moment: Watching my 3-year-old get jiggy with it
Hardest Moment: Every minute of Zumba after the first song

So, my friends, want to join the Healthy Writers Club? Hop on over! And let me know-- what keeps you dedicated to your goals?

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