Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NaNoWriMo Insanity Part 3


That was one beastly month; so much so that it's taken me until now to make my third post about it.  It's about time I wrapped this thing up, so I'm going to do that while I sit here and get fat on pumpkin bread.  Don't judge me.

I finished NaNoWriMo with over 52,000 words, and can consider myself a "winner." I won NaNo! :-)

I even ordered a tee shirt which should be getting here soon. I'm going to rock that shirt in all my nerdy, writery glory at the gym.


I think I got a lot more out of it than I thought I would (see my post NaNoWriMo Insanity Part 2), but I wouldn't necessarily do it again.  Because I was working on a re-write, I already had a lot of the word count just needed some serious work.  If I did it with a completely new piece, I think my brain might explode.  But seriously, if I was working on something new, I would have to do a hard-core chapter-by-chapter outline for it so I would be able to complete my word count for the month.  And, quite honestly, I'm not interested in doing that.

Was it worth it?  For me, yes, absolutely.  It was something I wanted to do for me. I wanted to see if I could do it; something I wanted to prove to myself.  Was I capable of writing a good chunk of a novel in a month?  Yes.  And I'm happy I did it.  

Have I finished my re-write?  No.  But I'll get to it.  Right now I'm actually working on an erotic short story for a submissions call that intrigued me.  I also want to finish my short novel that I've been working on since the freaking beginning of time.  I have my edits back from Shelley and Traci (the lovely lady who was "location picking" for me...totally recommend that if you can), but I haven't polished my manuscript or done anything with it since I've gotten their feedback.  And if I ever want that thing to see the light of day, I'd better get on that.  

How'd NaNo go for you?  Did you win?  

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Guest Post: New Release! Daughters of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Daughters of the Nile slide
From critically acclaimed historical fantasy author, Stephanie Dray comes the long-awaited new tale based on the true story of Cleopatra's daughter.

After years of abuse as the emperor’s captive in Rome, Cleopatra Selene has found a safe harbor. No longer the pitiful orphaned daughter of the despised Egyptian Whore, the twenty year old is now the most powerful queen in the empire, ruling over the kingdom of Mauretania—an exotic land of enchanting possibility where she intends to revive her dynasty. With her husband, King Juba II and the magic of Isis that is her birthright, Selene brings prosperity and peace to a kingdom thirsty for both. But when Augustus Caesar jealously demands that Selene’s children be given over to him to be fostered in Rome, she’s drawn back into the web of imperial plots and intrigues that she vowed to leave behind. Determined and resourceful, Selene must shield her loved ones from the emperor’s wrath, all while vying with ruthless rivals like King Herod. Can she find a way to overcome the threat to her marriage, her kingdom, her family, and her faith? Or will she be the last of her line?

Read the Reviews

"A stirring story of a proud, beautiful, intelligent woman whom a 21st century reader can empathize with. Dray's crisp, lush prose brings Selene and her world to life." ~RT Book Reviews

"The boldest, and most brilliant story arc Dray has penned..." ~Modge Podge Reviews

"If you love historical fiction and magical realism, these books are for you." ~A Bookish Affair

Read an Excerpt

Below me, six black Egyptian cobras dance on their tails, swaying. I watch their scaled hoods spread wide like the uraeus on the crown of Egypt. Even from this height, I'm paralyzed by the sight of the asps, their forked tongues flickering out between deadly fangs. I don't notice that I'm gripping the balustrade until my knuckles have gone white, all my effort concentrated upon not swooning and falling to my death.

And I would swoon if I were not so filled with rage. Someone has arranged for this. Someone who knows what haunts me. Someone who wants to send me a message and make this occasion a moment of dread. My husband, the king must know it, for he calls down, "That's enough. We've seen enough of the snake charmer!"

There is commotion below, some upset at having displeased us. Then Chryssa hisses, "Who could think it a good idea to honor the daughter of Cleopatra by coaxing asps from baskets of figs?"

The story the world tells of my mother's suicide is that she cheated the emperor of his conquest by plunging her hand into a basket where a venomous serpent lay in wait. A legend only, some say, for the serpent was never found. But I was there. I brought her that basket. She was the one bitten but the poison lingers in my blood to this day. I can still remember the scent of figs in my nostrils, lush and sweet. The dark god Anubis was embroidered into the woven reeds of the basket, the weight of death heavy in my arms. I can still see my mother reach her hand into that basket, surrendering her life so that her children might go on without her. And I have gone on without her.

I have survived too much to be terrorized by the emperor's agents or whoever else is responsible for this.

If it is a message, a warning from my enemies, I have already allowed them too much of a victory by showing any reaction at all. So I adopt as serene a mask as possible. My daughter blinks her big blue eyes, seeing past my facade. "Are you frightened, Mother? They cannot bite us from there. The snakes are very far away."

I get my legs under me, bitterness on my tongue. "Oh, but they're never far enough away."


Daughters of the Nile cover

Available now in print and e-book!

Available now in print and e-book!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Powells | IndieBound | Goodreads

Stephanie Dray Headshot
STEPHANIE DRAY is a bestselling, multi-published, award-winning author of historical women’s fiction and fantasy set in the ancient world. Her critically acclaimed historical series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. Her focus on Ptolemaic Egypt and Augustan Age Rome has given her a unique perspective on the consequences of Egypt's ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has-to the consternation of her devoted husband-collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

Check out the fabulous new book from a fabulous author! 

xoxo Sarah

Monday, November 18, 2013

NaNoWriMo Insanity Part 2

Whew.  It's over the halfway point to the end of NaNo, but for me, I reached the halfway point writing-wise a few days before the 15th when I tipped over 25K words.

Right now I'm hovering close to 40K, which makes me feel all sorts of accomplished.  In fact, I'm scheduled to finish NaNo early (according to their awesome website calculator thingy), and plan on plowing through and finishing with as many words as I can.

But have my feelings changed since I first posted about it?


I'm still on the fence.

Because I'm doing a re-write, I'm having all kinds of continuity issues going on with my new manuscript, and while under normal circumstances I'd go back and fix these things right away, I literally can't do that.  NaNo is about production, plain and simple.

I suppose it would be like mining diamonds--without the forced labor, civil wars, blood, etc.--just get the diamonds out of the earth and we'll cut and polish them later.

And yes, that still drives me crazy.  But that's why I wanted to do NaNo--because it's so different from my normal writing style.  I used to hear (and still do) about authors who write a novel in two months, twelve weeks, three months, short periods of time like that.  And I used to be jealous; how were these people able to write that much in such a short period of time and for them to be okay with the crappy first draft.  But that's just it--it's a "crappy first draft."  There's a saying amongst writers: "You can't fix a blank page." I don't know who said it, but it's true.  If there's nothing down, you can't play with it. You can't pick a better word; you can't change the sentence structure; you can't change the POV.  You need words on a page to do all of that, and I see their point.

I can already tell that I'll be doing more of the "get it down in the Word doc and fix it later" method after NaNo is over, but it'll be a mix of that and my usual too-meticulous (and often too slow) methods as well.  

How about you?  Is your attempt at NaNo going well?  Why/why not?

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo Insanity, Part 1

Because I obviously have nothing better to do (you know, like write 2,000 words today), I wanted to write a little bit about NaNo so far.  This blog has always been written in a stream-of-consciousness style, which actually fits pretty well for what I'm going to be doing periodically through this November and NaNo.

This is a new experience for me, and I wanted to do a few entries (no idea how many) that are sort of a "live blog" of it.  They won't be long, and will be about how I'm feeling about NaNo, what I've done so far, how I feel about the experience, and how my feelings are changing about it.

And how do I feel so far? After all, it's been one freaking day.

I absolutely fucking hate it.

Whoa, Sarah!  Those are some strong feelings to have ONE DAY into the challenge!

Yep. But let me explain before you guys break out the pitch forks...

NaNoWriMo goes against EVERYTHING my writing style wants me to do.  My own personal writing style; not something that I picked up somewhere or learned--what feels natural to me.  When I write under normal circumstances, I'm not as concerned getting word count down as much as the quality of said word count...if I manage 500 words then yay--even though it's a low number--but if the way those paragraphs and sentences sound is great to me (at least for a first draft), I'm happy with that.  I'll take an hour and get that four sentence paragraph into shape as much as I can, then move on.  So for me, it's difficult to sit at the computer and type to make words happen on the page and not be at least 90% happy with them in their current state.  I'm pretty sure I hate most of what I wrote yesterday for Day 1, not gonna lie.

But because I hate doing it, this will be a good experience.  NaNoWriMo is pushing me out of my comfort zone as a writer and forcing me to write in a different way.  If it was easy, then everyone would do it.

I read a couple of the tips before starting the was to make a word count goal per day (mine is at least 1,700, but the goal is 2,000), and to KEEP MOVING FORWARD.  In terms of the challenge, that means don't go back and edit what you've just written (other than very minor things), but to keep going and keep the story and manuscript moving.  When the challenge is over and/or when the manuscript is finished, then you can go back and tinker with it.

And that, for me, is the true challenge.

I'm sure my feelings about NaNo will change as I go along and see my manuscript unfold, but for now, I'm going to grumble and make my woefully imperfect word count.

How about you?  What are your feelings about NaNo?  If this isn't your first one, how have your feelings changed over time?

xoxo Sarah

Sunday, October 27, 2013

NaNo Wha Wha?

The writing gods have smiled upon me this year, I've temporarily taken leave from my senses, and I don't have any major plans for November, so I finally have an opportunity to do NaNoWriMo.

What is NaNoWriMo, you ask?

It stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is a bit of a misnomer because it's worldwide, and I'm going to abbreviate it as NaNo from now on because it's a whole lotta acronym.

The idea of NaNo is to write 50,000 words--or a short novel, basically--in one month.  It doesn't have to be "good" or in final draft form; you're just supposed to write and get the words down. That's a lot of writing, even for those of us who try to meet some kind of a word count quota per day already, which, I should tell you, I do not.

It exists as a right (or write?) of passage for writers in all genres, and as a form of torture we inflict upon ourselves.

November has thirty days so, broken down, a writer would have to have an output of 50,000/30, or 1,667 words per day.  But some days I'm sure I'll get more down, and some days will be woefully less.  My chapters tend to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 3K-4K words, so this would be about half a chapter a day.  Not too bad in theory.  But we'll see.

My project for the month will be a re-write of a novel-length piece I've already written, but, well, it needs to be re-done.  I'll just leave it at that.  It's a sci-fi romance, and I'm really excited about it.  I don't really have much of an outline, but I have a lot of the plot worked out, so we'll see how it plays out once it's out of my head.

You're probably wondering why anyone would want to do NaNo.  After all, it's a ton of work, and certainly isn't going to stop my hermit status from getting worse.  But, if I make the 50K goal, I'll be so freakin' excited.

Just like this.

But I have a feeling that, by the end of the month, I'll end up looking more like this:  

Oh! And in case anyone wants to join the insanity with me, or encourage me along the way so my head doesn't explode, my username is sarahallanauthor on the NaNo site.  If you're signed up, add me as a writing buddy!

xoxo Sarah

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Indie Author Survival Guide

For my first guest post, here's one from Susan Kaye Quinn, a successful self-published author who I've known for quite a while now.  She was so amazingly helpful to newbie authors, including many a detailed blog post, and she created this book so everyone can educate themselves.  

This book is for every author who's thinking about indie publishing, or has already taken the leap, and wonders why no one told them about the sharks, the life-sucking social media quicksand, or the best way to avoid sales-checking, yellow-spotted fever. This is a guide for the heart as much as the head. And because I promised myself that I wouldn't write a book about how I made a gazillion dollars publishing ebooks, I would write about the fear: owning it, overcoming it, facing it. From a person who didn't pursue a creative life for a long time, and then discovered creativity can set you free. Note: gazillion is a technical term, which in this case means something less than a million and more than the average income in my state.
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindajck Trilogy and Debt Collector serial and has been indie publishing since 2011. She’s not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: she’s one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. This book is a compilation of her four years of blogging through changes in the publishing industry—updated, revised, and supplemented to be relevant in 2013. It’s a guide to help her writer-friends take their own leaps into the wild (and wonderful) world of indie publishing... and not only survive, but thrive. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on twitter or check out her blog where she'll be doing who knows what next.
Grab the Badge for your blog!
Sign up for bookmarks!
Win the t-shirt!
FAQ About the Guide
Q: What prompted you to write the Guide? I resisted a long time in putting this together. I had this silly idea I was a fiction writer (which is also true), in spite of spending the last four years blogging consistently about the industry, and especially the changes wrought by indie publishing. It took the goading of several friends, over a period of time, before I realized that the blog was actually non-fiction writing (I can be excessively slow for Ph.D. engineer sometimes). The trigger for blogging the book - revising and updating old posts as well as organizing the content - was seeing writer friend after writer friend take the leap, often after reading something I had posted. And I realized there wasn't a book out there that addressed the fears as well as the nuts-and-bolts about going indie. I could have just left the Guide on my rinky-dink blog, but I knew the power of Amazon (and other retailers) to connect people to books, and I figured it would help more people this way. Q: Why should I read a book about indie publishing by Susan Kaye Quinn? I'm pretty sure she's not a NY Times Bestseller. I'm not an indie rockstar. I haven't made the news as one of those "exceptional" breakout indie authors. I'm a solidly midlist indie author, which means I make a living off my works. I'm one of thousands of invisible indie midlist authors who, I believe, are the core of indie publishing, and why it's changing the industry. The rockstars of indie publishing can inspire and lead, they can use their leverage to break barriers, but they can't transform the industry on their own. The true change has to come, as it always has, from the grass-roots. I'm part of that grass-roots movement. Q: Will this Guide help me get rich quick from ebooks? No. Q: Will this Guide help me decide if indie publishing is right for me? Yes. Q: What if I'm afraid? We're all afraid. Fear is an integral part of being vulnerable in the world by daring to do brave things. Fear stops many people from becoming the full expression of who they are. I won't tell you not to be afraid in this book - I'll help you see the fear for what it is, manage it, and not let it stop you from reaching for the amazing things you have ahead of you. Q: What if I don't have the first clue how to start with self-publishing? The Guide is designed to take a first-time-publishing author from the decision to go indie through to writing that second book (and starting the whole process over again). It's also designed to help indie authors who have already published, but are struggling: either with keeping perspective for the long-term, trying to scale up their businesses from the first book, or just trying not to drown in social media quicksand. My hope is that all my indie author friends will find something worthwhile in it, or pass it on to someone who will. The culture in indie publishing of sharing information is part of what inspired this book in the first place.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Exciting (tiny) format change!

Hey, everyone!

As I get farther into the writing process, the more I realize that so much of this business, and the success of someone participating in it, is based on pimpage.

In a nutshell, authors helping authors.

Therefore, I'm going to be doing occasional posts to help get the word out about my friends' books, particularly the lovely ladies from the Maryland Romance Writers and other RWA chapters I participate in as well as some amazing self-pubbed authors I know.

Why are you doing this, Sarah?  Won't your blog turn into a giant advertisement for other people's stuff?

Will your blog be the equivalent of ALL OF THESE rolled into one?

Well, because of the reason I mentioned above--authors helping authors.  One reason I've joined these groups is for the support of other authors just like me, and that's why they've joined, too.  So much of this wide world of publishing is based on give and take, and I've come to realize I can't--and shouldn't--expect other authors to want to host me and my (eventual) books on their blogs if there's not any reciprocation.  Word of mouth is a powerful thing, especially among others who respect your work as much as you respect theirs.

And why feature self-pubbed authors?  Or, conversely, why feature traditionally published authors?  Answer: Because I believe an author should be well-rounded in publishing nowadays.  You can't put all of your eggs in one basket...for myself, I plan on being both traditionally published and self-pubbed, especially since there are so many success stories.  Both are wonderfully viable options for authors.

You also might be wondering if I'm going to be constantly pushing books that I've edited.  The answer is no.  That might seem like a weird double-standard; after all, I stand to make money from them from sales (in some cases).  But this is my blog, and I stand by the fact that I can feature what I want on it.  When I have a contract of my own--as an author getting a book published, whether it's an e-publisher or one of the Big 6 or however many there are now--then I'll happily feature things from my new publisher on here.  I'm looking forward to that.

Please don't inundate me with emails or whatnot requesting reviews...this is NOT a review blog.  It may feature reviews in the future (I never like to say "never"), but for right now, my time is so limited that I barely have time to squeeze in a little pleasure reading before bed.

So look out for guest posts from other amazing authors in the near future.  But I promise I'll still be posting and being my usual weird, snarky self.  That won't go away.

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Another Fate's Awakening Teaser!

Because you were all so lovely and my Facebook author page now has 300 "likes", here's the promised teaser from Fate's Awakening.  

Meet Jack.  Jack's had a rough night.  Why?  Well, that would be because of chapter one, and this teaser is from chapter two.  

I know...I'm evil.  

Insistent banging roused me from a deep sleep. As the world returned to me, I started to remember the strange dream I’d just had and sat straight up, heart pounding and head reeling. A quick look around told me I was safe in my bedroom in the apartment, fully clothed on top of my navy comforter. I glanced at my alarm clock; it was only nine in the morning, and unless I’d been in a coma, it was Saturday. Rubbing my eyes with the heels of my hands, I winced when the knocking started up again. No, not even knocking. Door torture. Jesus Christ—how much had I had to drink? This was already shaping up to be one bitch of a hangover.
“Jack, are you in there?” Andy sounded like he was ready to take down the door.

Thoughts?  ;-)

xoxo Sarah

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hey! Read this!

Okay, so the title's not that subtle, but if you're an author, or a reader, or an editor, you need to read this awesome blog post by my lovely friend, Jen DeLucy.


I'll even post the link and not embed it or some crap like that, just to make it easier for you to find.


Want to know what it's about first?


Basically, it's an extremely well-written post about writers and editors, and respecting each other's jobs as well as what we do in the time we're not *gasp* editing or writing.  As I am both a writer and editor (Jen DeLucy is too), we've seen both sides of it.  And seeing as how she's done the work for me already and said it better than I think I could have, check it out.

So go read it and come back here and tell me what you think.

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Oh, the Angst!

Sometimes--for me, anyway--emotions can get in the way of writing.  Ever try to bang out a couple thousand words of a fight scene but you're in a sparkly-unicorn-farts good mood?  Or attempt to write a chapter of happiness, only to discover that the funk you're in makes this next-to-impossible? 

This usually happens to me when the moods are extreme, but I have a feeling we've all been there.  

On the other hand, sometimes emotions take us to strange places as writers, even inspiring us.  I had the dubious pleasure recently of being so upset, so absolutely throw-down-and-kick-some-ass angry, that if anyone was around me at the time, I'm sure they would have spontaneous exploded, or would have gotten this kind of response: 

But in the middle of my rage, a line came to me out of the blue, and I'm sure if I hadn't been in such a terrible mood, I'd never have thought of it.  And no, I'm not going to share it with you...I'm not that generous.  But I'm saving it for when I get a chance to use it in some future work of mine.

Has this ever happened to you?  Do you write better when you feel the same as the scene you're writing?  Or can you turn it off and write whatever you need to, no matter what?  Tell me!

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tech & the Twitter...

Or should that be "the Twitter" (Twittah...?) as they say over here in the UK?

I enjoy social networking.  I have a FB author page, a Twitter profile for me as an author, and this blog. (If you can't click the links, you can also see them in my right side-bar..."like" or "follow," pretty please?)  And anything to consolidate that crap together or make it easier is a good thing.  For example, when I post a blog entry, I have it set up so my FB page automatically makes a post.  Another example: when I post anything on FB, it's linked to my Twitter account, so it tweets for me.  Easy-peasy.  

And FB is my favorite to use of all those because of the fun interaction I get to do with the people who have "liked" my page, but I do love me some Twitter on occasion.  The problem is that Twitter's actual website doesn't have the best interface.  You have to click on a million different things to see stuff, like your mentions (where other people have mentioned your screen-name and tweeted you) or your direct (private) messages, and a ton of other stuff.  And don't even get me started on their lump updating.  I prefer real-time!

A while ago, maybe a year or two, there was an awesome Twitter app/client called Tweetdeck.  It somehow managed to consolidate all the things you'd want to do on Twitter, including real-time updating, in one easy-to-use program.  And the interface was super easy. 

The problem?  Twitter bought it and, pardon the phrase, promptly fucked it up royally.  Everything we liked about it was gone. And when I say "we," I mean myself and a ton of other users who jumped ship to find another app that worked as well.  I sought recommendations from friends, other people on Twitter, everyone...and no dice.  I tried a ton of them, and though some were pretty good, I kept comparing them to the old Tweetdeck.  

This would have been me if I could have found the old Tweetdeck's house. 
Even worse was that Twitter had stopped updating the old version of Tweetdeck, so it didn't even work anymore.  Though you could download the old program from multiple sources online, it used outdated support and wasn't the same.  Last week, out of desperation, I decided to give the new Tweetdeck another try, and lo and behold, the people at Twitter had literally JUST redesigned it.  It doesn't suck anymore, and it's actually very close to how the old Tweetdeck operated.  

So now I'm a happy camper, or at least happier, and am enjoying tweeting much more than I did before.  I realize this kind of sounds like an ad for it, but I was just so excited to find a Twitter client that I liked (again) that I wanted to share.

Do YOU have a favorite Twitter app or client for your computer or mobile device?  Does it update other social networks?  Tell me!

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Excerpt from Fate's Awakening...

As I mentioned yesterday, in honor of my reaching 100 blog entries, 40k words (officially a novel!) on my manuscript, AND having a new title for it (Fate's Awakening), I'd post an excerpt from it.  If you're curious about Fate's Awakening, click the "Novels" tab above, or click here.

And here you are, lovely readers.

It's a tiny...and I do mean tiny, excerpt from the prologue of Fate's Awakening.


“The Three have requested your immediate presence.”
             The messenger’s stony expression did little to quiet Evangeline’s nerves, though she suspected he took no notice. It was rare that she was summoned by any of the greater gods, much less the Moirai—the Three Fates, to most of the mortal realms—and she racked her brain for a reason why they’d want to see her. She came up empty.

There you go!  I hope you enjoyed that.  Was it interesting?  Intriguing?  Let me know what you think!

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Number 100! And a Treat!

Woot!  Despite my shitty blogging skills, I've officially passed my 100th post!  Sure, most of them have come from the two April A-Z blogfests I've done, but hey, they're entries.

I hope you've been entertained and least that was my intention.

Anyway, because it's such a nice round number, I thought I'd make a little announcement.  I've officially crossed into "novel" territory with my manuscript!  As I mentioned in one of my other posts from forever ago, a "novel" in the romance world is something that is 40,000 words or more, and I'm clocking about 41k at the moment.  Go, me!

Brad Pitt is THRILLED for me.
It won't be much longer than this; maybe I'll hit 45k, though I'm not likely to make it to the 50k mark, but hey, stranger things have happened.  The story is winding down, and I'm in the home stretch.  I've mostly been re-reading and editing as I go, as well as fleshing out scenes where I basically wrote, "And stuff happened here."

So, because I'm so excited to hit both 100 AND 40k in a short period of time, you guys are in for a treat.  My lovely critique partner, Shelley, has helped me pick a new title for the manuscript.  It was titled The Curse, which I wasn't married to, and good thing I wasn't because I was given some great feedback that it sounded like I was referring to a lady's "that time of the month." If ya know what I mean. And just so we're clear, I mean menstrual cycle.  Well, that wasn't going to fly, so I've picked a new working title for it (it still may be re-titled by a publisher if one picks it up) but for now, I'm going with....

...drumroll please...

Fate's Awakening

I really like it, and I hope you guys do too!  If you're curious about Fate's Awakening, check out the little tab above labeled Novels, or click here.

Even better, if you tune in tomorrow, I'll post a short excerpt from the prologue!  That's how excited I am!  But please keep in mind that none of this has been professionally edited, or even accepted for publication, so it's probably crap.  But I still want to share my crap with you, you lucky readers.  

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Sparkly Blue Retainer...A Parable

I'm probably misusing the term "parable" but I kind of don't care.


When I was a kid, I had braces.  My teeth were a hot mess, so on they went when I was about ten or so.  I had a love/hate relationship with them, and a year and a half later, I got them off.

With my new freedom came...the retainer.  So I guess "freedom" isn't the word for it.  I mean, I could eat peanuts and chew gum again to my little heart's content, and instead of this:

Let's be one looks this good with metalmouth.

I looked like this:
Her, either.

But to hell with it, at least they weren't braces!  

I was told I had to wear the stupid thing all the time at first, 24/7, so I figured I'd like to at least like my new torture device. So when they came in to take the mold for it and they asked if I wanted glitter, of course I said yes!  What twelve-year-old girl wouldn't?  But I did come away disappointed--they didn't offer any colors.  See, I really wanted a blue one.  Even better would have been a sparkly blue one.  Blue, with blue glitter.  A friend of mine--just one friend, this was the mid-1990s when braces were becoming more mainstream--had a blue one, and I jealousy, especially since I had to settle.  

Truthfully, as much as I wanted one, I probably wouldn't have gotten the blue one...I'd been picked on enough in school, and decided that since people would be seeing it (I had to take it out to eat), I should stick to something fairly neutral.  No sense in giving the bullies more theoretical ammo.  Pre-teen kids are assholes, by the way, and that was way more than enough to persuade me to suck it up and settle for something I was only "meh" about, not that I had much of a choice given what was available.

So I got my mouth-pink glittery retainer.  I wore that damn thing religiously, even though I hated it and it made me feel like I was going to puke all the time.  I never even lost it; never even accidentally--or maybe that should be "accidentally"?--threw it out on my lunch tray at school.  Then I was finally given the green light to just wear it at night, and I looked forward to the day when I could wean myself off it for good and be "normal."

That day never came.  

I tried, but my teeth and jaw would ache like a sonovabitch if I didn't wear it for more than one night, and it was actually a relief to put it back in.  I also observed my peers not wearing theirs, and their teeth would migrate like retarded homing pigeons back to where they'd been before they had braces--and in some cases, they were actually worse-off.  And there was no WAY I was going to let that happen.  I'd suffered for beauty (and happy teeth, but mostly beauty), goddammit, and I wasn't going to have wonky teeth just because. 

Fast-forward years later (to 2011, actually), and I was still wearing the same pinky glittery thing.  I'd taken great care of it; it was clean and crack-free, but loose after something like sixteen years.  I'd always been complimented on my "bite" by my dentists and my teeth were good, but a visit to a recommended orthodontist confirmed it was time for a new one.

Molds were taken, and then the moment came--the one I'd been waiting for.

The color selection.  

And you know what?  I picked out a blue, sparkly retainer.  I was a grown women, dammit, and I wasn't going to let anything stand in the way of what I wanted.  I was going do and get what made me happy.  

So now I have one of these:

Not a picture of my actual retainer.  I wanted to respect its privacy.

So the moral of this whole convoluted story is that you should do what makes you happy, no matter what anyone thinks (unless it's hurting yourself or someone else).  

And I think we need to remember that more often.  

xoxo Sarah

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

Since I thoroughly embarrassed my mother for Mother's Day, I figured what the heck and decided to do the same for my dad.

Where should I start?

I should begin by saying that I'm an only child, but my dad--a manly half-Italian guy with a 70's pornstache--never seemed to mind being outnumbered by women.  Nothing was deemed too manly or girly; he'd play games with me, and he taught me to drive a stick-shift.  I have some mad Cribbage skillz (yes, skills with a "z" because I'm badass like that) because of him.

This is James Franco. My dad doesn't look like James Franco, but the mustache is similar.
My dad's 'stache is more spectacular, however.
We share the same nose (all the better to smell you with, my dear), and even a weird little gap between two side teeth that appears to be genetic--in pictures of his mother, I've seen that she had it, too.  I'll even go so far to blame him for the fact that, on occasion, I seem to sport more facial hair than my husband.  Dad and I also share a similar sense of humor, a love of terrible puns, a baffling enjoyment of car shopping, and Indiana Jones.

That actually reminds me of a little story.  When I was a kid, sick and home from school, my dad would often come home for lunch to see how I was doing.  Sometimes he'd bring me a flower to cheer me up, but he always came by with a smile and made my day brighter.  One one such occasion, probably when I was around ten--I can't remember--he put on a video for me.  It was an off-TV recording of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and we sat there watching it until he had to leave.  I was hooked, and it's been one of my favorite movies ever since.

My dad's also been one of my biggest inspirations.  When he was younger, he worked hard to put himself through school, coming away with a degree in accounting.  Why anyone would love numbers that much, I have no idea, but that's neither here nor there.  After a fashion, he realized that wasn't for him--he hated the idea of being cooped up in an office, and since then, worked in outdoorsy positions.  To make a decision like that--to take the leap and not spend a lifetime stuck doing something you don't like--takes a lot of guts, and he's always encouraged me to do something that made me happy.  Even though he's not a big reader--he loves stories, but prefers a visual medium--he's been one of my biggest cheerleaders and has promised to read everything I write.  

I'll close with another picture of a spectacular mustache, just because.

Tom Selleck, and Tom Selleck's mustache, which must get paid more than he does by this point.
Happy Father's Day, Dad!  

xoxo Sarah

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy...

One of the most fascinating concepts--to me, anyway--in psychology, is the self-fulfilling prophecy.  In a nutshell, it's an idea or concept that becomes reality, simply because a person believes that it's true.  Sadly, this is more often the case with negative concepts rather than positive ones.

Case in point: Why are people so awestruck when people succeed--despite unlikely or unfavorable circumstances--yet no one is surprised when someone fails given the same?

Why am I bringing this up?  Because no one likes to believe that SFPs (as I'll abbreviate it, because I'm lazy), apply to them.  I'm not saying SFPs are the be-all-end-all of a person's motivation.  Certainly not; there are lots of factors at play here.  But, there's no denying that what a person thinks they can do will more often than not be exactly that.

I had a bit of an epiphany a month or so ago.  I was working on my novel/novella thingy (wonky word count = no category yet), in hopes of getting it done, edited, and ready to query sometime in the near future.

"Near future" being the key words there...

I was sitting there, staring at the Word doc and thinking, "Sweet Jesus on a velociraptor, this thing is taking me forever!  It's only 40,000ish words [about 120 double-spaced Word pages], and I have writer friends who have cranked out full-length novels [60K-100K words] in a month!  I even know one who wrote one in a couple of weeks!  Sure, what they wrote isn't anywhere near final draft form, but neither is what I'm writing, either!  Every writer goes at their own pace, but what the hell is wrong with me that I can't even get this damn thing finished?"

At that point, I started feeling like a full-on failure.  I'm not proud to admit it, but there was a pity party, and everyone knows that there ain't no party like a pity party, 'cuz a pity party don't stop.  

There was more irrational self-loathing, eating of chocolate, loud wailing, and there might have been some fetal position in there somewhere, but eventually it petered out.  

What made it stop?  My epiphany.  I'm getting there, so hold your horses.  Even horses like to be held sometimes.

I asked myself why this manuscript was taking so long, and I couldn't come up with a good answer, which is really shitty when you're asking yourself questions--if anyone would know, it's you.  No, I hadn't lost interest in it; if anything, I was more excited to get it done. No, it wasn't going to be super-long and there was no end in sight; I estimated that I was less than 10K words from typing "THE END".  Blah, blah, blah...

Even worse, was that I didn't even have a good answer to why some of my lovely fellow authors had the super-human ability to become writing machines.  I mentally spouted bullshit like, "Oh, they're already published, so they're more familiar with the process than I am."  Not necessarily true; I edit for a publisher, so I'm familiar with the other end of an author's journey, even though I haven't been there as an author myself.  And, "They probably have a lot more free writing time, yeah, that's it." Again, not necessarily true--many of them have kids, jobs other than writing, and other things that take up a lot of valuable writing time.  Again, blah, blah, blah...

So what was it?  Why was this manuscript taking forever?  The answer was so simple that I was floored when I figured it out. 


Here it is:  Because I thought it was supposed to. 

That's it.  I thought a manuscript, this labor of literary love, was supposed to take a long time to write.  I mean, you hear about people who have been working on their manuscript for years, and take even longer than that to get published, so, somewhere along the line, my brain had adopted that as a weird mantra I wasn't even aware of.  

My brain rationally knows that novels will take a bit to write, but somehow that had translated into a ridiculously long time with nebulous ideas of when things like the query process would even take place.  Because I believed it, even unconsciously, it was happening for me.  My manuscript was taking forever.  

Now that I'm aware of this, I can consciously make decisions and take actions that will help combat this SFP.  

Have you ever experienced a self-fulfilling prophecy, whether it's about writing or anything else? 

xoxo Sarah

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother's Day

So, the publisher I edit for, Omnific, is doing a blog bounce for Mother's Day where we share things about mothers...favorite literary or movie mothers, childhood memories, and other stuff.

I figured I'd take the opportunity to talk a little about my own mother (or "Mum" as they say over here across the pond).

And I'll probably make her cry, which, quite honestly, isn't so hard to do.

Mom, you're reading this now and laughing and crying a little.

Don't lie.  I know it.


My mother always encouraged me to read...from when I little, I remember her reading books to me before bed.  She'd prop them up so I could see the words and follow along, whether they were simple narratives like Dr. Seuss or chapter books, and that's one of the ways I learned to read.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I was the only kid in my first grade class who could functionally read anything and understand it beyond the basics; something around a fourth grade level, I believe.  I credit Mom with making me a pain in the ass to the teachers, who had no idea what to do with me while they were teaching all the other kids how to sound out words.  They ended up farming me out to another teacher who could work with me.

They were trying to avoid this scenario. 

Have I mentioned that my mother's a librarian?  No?  Well, I should.  She's taught in schools--both high school and elementary--for most of my life, and worked in our town's public library as well.  When I was in college and on break, she'd come home with new books they'd gotten in, and that she was going to read for storytime.  Well, you need to practice that stuff...get the inflections and pauses down so the kids with their two second attention spans don't lose interest.  So who did she practice reading the books to? Me, that's who.

It looked like this, only with just a twenty-something in sweat pants on the floor.

Now, she comes to me for book recommendations.  I haven't told her my review on Everybody Poops, though.

Mom's always been one of my biggest supporters, whether it's of my editing position or of my writing, and has promised to read whatever I do write, even when she'd rather pretend that I know a lot less about this stuff than I should. 

How I imagine the first reading of my novel will be from my mother's perspective. My excuse will be that she asked for it.
 So happy Mother's Day, Mom!  The next book's on me.

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A-Z? Not this year...

For those of you looking forward to my A-Z Challenge posts, I unfortunately can't participate this year.  My own work and professional editing have to come first.

But, for those of you who are interested in participating or are wondering what it is, here's their link.  There's still time to sign up, and it's a lot of fun.  If you scroll through my labels in the side-bar, you can access my A-Z Challenge-related posts from the past, including some ideas of strategy.

In other awesome news, I'll be at the London Book Fair in the middle of April with the publisher I work for! I'm super excited to actually meet some of the people I work with.  If you're in London, come check it out!  There'll be publishers from all over the world there.  Plus, it's freaking LONDON.

On that note, it's time for me to get some more work done!

xoxo Sarah

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Royalties and Net and Bears, OH MY!

Like it or not, writing is a business.  Sure, we'd happily sit with our laptops, typewriters, pens, pencils, Sharpies, crayons, or what have you, and crank out best-sellers til the cows come home, watching the money magically appear in our bank accounts.  There would be bon-bon eating and bubble baths in there somewhere too.

And as much as I wish it worked like that, it's not going to happen.

At RWA 2011, I attended a workshop on contracts, and, of course, royalties and payment rates were brought up.  My head was swimming with information already, so it all sounded like gibberish, but now that I'm getting closer to querying, it's something that concerns me.  

Unfortunately, most of the information out there still sounds like gibberish to me.  This stuff--math-wise, anyway--is right up there with doing taxes.  

Rather than bore you with my own garbled understanding, I'm simply going to piggyback on two blog entries.  One was done by my friend and fellow author, Laura Kaye, who did some nice neat maths (they put the "s" on math over here in the UK, so I can use it like that, dammit!) and broke some of the confusing bits down for us in a nice, easy-to-understand entry.  

The other entry is more of an informative post by author Maya Banks, who has a ton of books out and uses some real-life examples.  A lot of this entry involves digital publishing, but she is traditionally published as well.  

So go ahead and check these out.  I found them very eye-opening, and would love to know what you think. And, as always, I'm happy to pass on info I thought was helpful in case someone else will find it interesting, too.

xoxo Sarah

Monday, February 18, 2013

Time to Fangirl!

I've been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's work for years, ever since my grandfather read The Hobbit (and then the rest of the LotR series) to me when I was something like nine or ten.  Something about the intricate story, engrossing worlds, and rounded characters really spoke to me, and ever since then, I've been hooked.

However, I can't claim to have read all his books, though I hope to find the time and motivation to do so at some point.  But I've heard mixed things about the ones that aren't the ones mentioned above, so we'll see.

Anyway, this past summer, I had a chance to visit Oxford, England.  For those who don't know, Tolkien taught at Oxford, and it was there that he and his BFF, another author you may have heard of named C.S. Lewis, met and discussed their writings.  They were part of a literary group called The Inklings, and they met at a pub--because where else would you hold a literary group's meetings.  Alcohol can be a necessity at times.

The pub was called The Eagle and Child, but affectionately referred to as The Bird and the Baby.  And this is me in front of said pub, attempting not to squeal like a fangirl.  

My husband was happy to indulge my inner fangirl.  After all, I might absorb some of the creativity and awesomeness of the writers who had met there in the past through some kind of osmosis.  So we went in and had some drinks and dinner to soak in as much as possible.

They should seriously just use this movie poster as a recruiting scheme for Oxford.
Have any of you visited a place where a favorite author (or heck, anyone you admire!) worked or lived?

xoxo Sarah

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tap tap this thing on?

Holy long-time-no-post, Batman!  I'm beginning to see a trend here, and that would be that I'm the worst blogger in the universe.  It's not you; it's definitely me.

Hang on while I give myself a high-five for actually remembering my own blog's address. 

That said, I hope there are still some of you out there interested in my writing progress, or my inane ramblings.  Or both.  Both is okay, too.

So, what have I been doing for the past eight or so months (holy crap, has it really been that long???) since I was on here?  Um.  Stuff.  Yeah.

No, seriously.  I don't mean to be vague, but it's the truth.  I was doing a lot of stuff.  I edit for an awesome press called Omnific and I haven't quite mastered the balance of doing a kick-ass job cleaning up someone else's manuscript and working on my own at the same time.  Up until now, it's been kind like a see-saw...either my writing or my editing.  My theoretical job for 2013 is to figure my shit out as far as that goes, because although I absolutely love my editing job, I'll never be published in my own right at this rate.  I need a happy medium, and I think that might come in the form of better time management.  Or magic.

I've also been traveling.  We (and my "we" I mean both my husband and I, and my friends and I) were lucky enough to get to see some of the Olympics live.  Between that, and some smaller day and weekend trips, we've kept pretty busy.  One of my favorites was a trip we made to Oxford, where J.R.R. Tolkien taught and inadvertently created one of the largest fandoms out there.

The rest was all personal stuff, holidays, and other random crap thrown in there.  So in short, I'm human, and I'm sorry to have abandoned you all, but I'll do my best to make some at least semi-entertaining posts in the near future.

xoxo Sarah