The five stages of a writer

I can see the end of this latest bout of revisions. I can see it. It’s been a long hard road with this novel and it feels amazing to almost be done.

I’ve been actively writing for over four years now. Poetry, short stories, and a novel. And it’s been a strange trip. Right now I feel a certain kind of confidence about the publishing industry, about the mechanics of writing, and about where I am currently in my career and where I’m going. But it wasn’t easy. And there’s still room to grow.

But I got to thinking, about the path it took for me to get here. And I realized there are 5 stages of being a writer.*

(I may or may not have been through these stages more than once.)

*Now with more gifs/video/awesomesauce



1) The newborn
Baby yelling

An idea is born!! Holy shit. You’re going to write a novel. Amazonian Vampire Mechs who invade the planet Mars and turn it’s inhabitants into zombies! It’s going to be awesome. Your mind swirls with possibilities. You’re going to be rich. Filthy J.k.Rowling rich. And famous. The paparazzi are totally going to follow you.  You’ll be so rich you’ll entire mansion is going to be filled with gold furniture and you’re going to have a diamond studded robot dog.

It’s going to be awesome.

My life is going to change in less than a year.

I can’t wait.

2) The child







My mom, significant other, even my cat tells me my idea is awesome. Writing is easier than I thought. It’s so freeing to write whatever pops into my head. I’ll even add a subplot involving a talking parrot. AND I’LL ADD VAMPIRE PIRATES TOO! Maybe even throw in some star wars references as well. Why do other people worry so much about plotting? They just need to let it happen, get weird, and let loose. OMG YES. The fanfic that’s going to be written..the youtube fan videos that will be made. I can’t even..omg I want it all it’s tasty goodness.

My book will change the world.


3) The teenager (aka the beatnik, aka the Riggs)

Holy shit. You just attended your first critique group/writing conference/etc and got slaughtered. Your writing is covered in more red than Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill. What happened? Plus they said I need a twitter, facebook, and blog? What’s that got to do with writing? I don’t want to be a sheep! And they said I need to know my genre? My main character is twelve but all the other characters are elderly. All I know is my book is a fiction novel. Who cares about what I can compare it too. Why does it matter? I want people, any people to read it. It defies genre!! I don’t want to play by the industry rules, man! Fuck the system! I’ll do what I want! Why even bother reading other books? Mine’s the only one that matters. I live by my own set of rules!  When did writing like become so complicated? Isn’t it supposed to be about the craft, the art of the written word, man? As long as it’s gets published and gets me lots of money, to hell with everything else. And besides, if the system doesn’t want me, I’ll be a renegade and publish myself! I don’t need them!


4) The Adult

Maybe your critique group/beta readers/etc weren’t full of shit.  Hell, Jack Kerouac was for the Vietnam war and eventually Riggs learned to play by at least some of the rules. It’s time to grow up.

You do your research and then find a new favorite author who writes in your genre! Okay. Maybe you’re protagonist isn’t twelve but in her late 30’s which is like 1,000 years old in intergalactic years.  You discover that there is a TON of free writer advice on blogs. FREE. You make other writer friends. You discover tweeting is super fun. And you learn the rules. You get a feedly to follow all your favorite writing blogs. You realize you don’t have to change everything your critique partners suggest, but you at least vow to consider it. You start a blog. And you learn that revision and rewrites aren’t dirty words. You realize the publishing industry is first and foremost a business. And like with any other job, your work needs to be presentable before you start querying agents. You also know what querying means.

Or maybe you made the informed decision to self publish. You did your research on what that entails, the pros and cons, and made a real adult decision about your career. Bravo!  Maybe you even make friends with other self-pubbers, and now you all can guide and support each other through the process.  Whether agent or self-pub, you’re on your way!


5) The  old man/woman

You’ve been published. You’ve reached the heights of success. Your name is now used by the newborns as a status to achieve. You’ve done it all.  You can barely remember your life before being published it’s been so long. What is there left to do? Publish under a pen name, try and totally different genre.  Sure you’re known for thrillers but why not try YA? Shake up your fan base.

Maybe you could create a whole new series with a whole new character! Something the world’s never seen before! I’ll be even more famous than before! Yes! MOAR FANS! MOAR MONEY! It will be glorious! My idea is like a newborn baby..

Or you could become a recluse.



There you have it. I don’t think the path is the same for everyone. I think writers, myself included, jump around the first 4 stages quite a bit.

What stage are you willing to admit you’re in? I’ll go first, right now I’m in stage 4.


The ups and downs of revising

I’m in the midst of deep revisions and it’s been a tidal wave.

There’s been great ups and revelations, and even greater struggles. One of the weirdest things I struggle with is giving a character TOO MANY flaws.

Yes, two many. I make Pollyanna’s evil doppelganger.   I love deeply DEEPLY flawed characters, characters I wasn’t meant to like or even love. And I usually hate the character I’m supposed to root for. While that’s great for my warped mind, it’s not great for a mass audience.

But I choose to celebrate revisions! Even the toughest ones which make me ponder another rewrite because that’s how I roll. And what’s the absolute best way to celebrate it? With a massive awesome gif party- Rocky Balboa edition!


How I felt after finishing my draft


How my draft felt about me


Approaching revisions



What I tell myself when I get feedback from my critique groups/beta readers


Critiquing myself


After a super productive brainstorming session with one of my bff writers


Diving into revisions like a boss


What I hope to say to my manuscript when it’s done


What I’ll continue to do for now


Leave your favorite revising gif in the comments!

What to do the week after #DFWCON

Storm Trooper Gets Down

I love the feel of a stack of business cards in my hands. New friends, new contacts and and another year of DFW CON behind me.

It’s been a full week. Where should you be by now?

Follow me down the rabbit hole and swim past the still fresh memories and lingering euphoria to where your reality resides. It’s time to push past the fog and get to work.

1) Business cards

Review your new writer friends cards and make sure you’ve followed them all on twitter, facebook, etc. Make sure to keep in touch with them especially if they write your genre. If they have books, make sure to look them up on goodreads.

If you received cards from agents, make sure you use the free handy chart from my awesome friend Annie created to keep track of agent contact info and submission tracking. It’s incredibly useful.

2) Organize your notes

I didn’t take a lot of handwritten notes this year. Instead I relied on my iPad and emailed the notes to myself. However, if you went retro and have pages of notes still scattered everywhere, now is the time to finally type it up. Review your notes and put into action all the new material you learned, if possible. I heard Roni Loren gave an awesome class on creating author websites. Go and create that website you’ve been putting off longer than a trip to the dentist. And then go to the dentist afterwards. Waitings room are the best places to people watch.

3) Find a critique group/partner/beta reader

All writers need a non-family member or friend to give you honest constructive feedback on your work, synopsis or query letter. You have a stack of business cards and a bunch of new cool writer friends. Form your own group or poke your head around on twitter to see if there’s one you can join. Also check your local library to see if one exists. Now’s the time to polish and send out to agents.

And last but not least, don’t waste the post conference excitement! You remember that feeling afterwards where you felt anything was possible? It wasn’t a dream or a strange and beautiful trip. It was all real. You can do it! You can find the agent who will fall in love with your prose and story. It may not happen right away but it will happen. Don’t give up.  Use this momentum to crawl out of the grave of your writing and feed on the living and you know, write too. The undead need to entertainment too.

Or so I’ve been told.

You know you’re a writer when…

I have these moments when I know I’m a writer.

It doesn’t have to do with being published or blog stats or even word count.

It’s about the way I look at the world and interpret it through the lens of a writer.

The first time it hit me I was a writer was when I was having my cavity filled. I’m a huge wimp when it comes to the dentist so I opted to have laughing gas. And it left me feeling a little more than drunk. I was eerily calm, but floating.  This occurred right around the time I was working on a weird trippy scene. I’d been struggling for weeks on how to capture the feeling for my main character.

And laughing gas was it. Even though everything was fuzzy I kept forcing myself to remember this feeling for the scene.

I knew I was a writer when I was underwater. It was during one of the hottest Texas summer days and I held my breath as I  kicked around under the water. I made sure to remember the image of a body being still underwater. I ended up writing a poem about it. And getting it published.

Writers struggle with so much self doubt along their writing journey. It’s good to have place markers to remind us that being a writer is more than the numbers. It’s about seeing the world through a different lens.

The following list may or may not include things I do or have done.  You decide or DON’T decide.


Without further ado, you know you’re a writer when,

You find yourself taking notes of the conversation rhythms at family functions

A day without writing is like a day without breathing

You goggle apartment listings in other cities to figure out where your characters would live

You daydream of what it would be like to hang out with your main character

You can hear your characters talking to you when you neglect them/try to force them to do something out of character

You’ve actually said to someone, “What’s their motivation?” in trying to understand someone.

The following sentence makes sense to you: I’m rewriting the MC Arc in my WIP so I can query later.

You choreograph scenes with french fries or other food items

You think of different sexual positions for your scenes instead of for pleasure

Your cat meows at you when you’re typing because you’re paying more attention to the laptop than to him.


What do you do that makes you realize you’re a writer? Leave it in the comments.






Why I struggle with writing love scenes

Underwater Romance 2


I struggle to write love scenes. Most people I’ve come across who struggle, struggle because they get embarrassed. Writing the genitalia and actions makes their cheeks blush. They get nervous thinking about what their mother/father/grandma would think of them if they read what they wrote.

Not me.

I struggle with capturing the emotional side. I’m perfectly fine with names and actions. It’s the inner thoughts of the characters, what they are feeling other than the physical side. What thoughts are going through their head?

But tonight I think I may have actually captured it. Music always helps me write and tonight I played “Myth” by Beach House. It perfectly captured the thoughts racing through my character’s head.

I created a mental checklist:

1) Where are my characters at emotionally in their relationship right now?

2) What is at stake if they make love?

3) What fears/hope does my main character have? What does she want to happen after the lovemaking has ended? What does she fear most after it?

4) What things does she dare not say out loud but quietly wishes for? Since this is first person point of view, I can go deep into her psyche.

I think it created the right mix of action and emotion. I’ll see once I send it off to the beta readers/critique group.

Another thing I struggle with love scenes is the choreography. I could use my husband to help me but I think that would only hinder my creative process.  Not the best way to concentrate but it is an otherwise good use of time. 🙂

What tricks or tools do you use to choreograph a scene? Do you draw it? Map it out beforehand?

What kind of scene do you most struggle with?

Top 5 songs that get me pumped to write

I’ve decided to post on Wednesdays and Saturdays instead of Sundays. No matter how hard I try, Sunday’s end up being novel writing/critique day. And then Walking dead or Dexter or Copper, Mad Men, or True Blood happens.

Music is my everything. I need to have a soundtrack to every scene I write. It’s incredibly hard to write without music. Can’t hear the emotion of the scene.

But I need to get into the mood to write.

This can be incredibly difficult after a long day of no writer things. How do I get in the right space to write?

Tunes! I got my top 5 jams that get me pumped, awake me, and get me anxious to write. Now these top 5 songs changes monthly, and I’m always looking for recommendations for new music. I also use Spotify for my free streaming service. I like Pandora’s radio better but I prefer to listen to music when I want to, not when Pandora allows me to play it. I want the power.

I tend to prefer dance/electronic music. Most of these tunes will fall into that genre.

Let’s get to the tracks and I can get back to finishing my current scene before the daily show starts.

5) Oblivion – Grimes

Grimes is fairly new to me. And it was love at first note. Her voice is airy and angelic and the melody is incredibly haunting. And the middle of the song takes it to an entirely new level. It helps me open my mind to let the creative juices pour in. I haven’t even made it through this entire album. I keep getting stuck on a couple of songs.  I can feel the words bubbling up in me right now. Or maybe that’s the greasy Mexican chips I ate earlier..

Also check out her other songs: Genesis and be a body

4) Mason Vs Princess Superstar – Perfect Exceeder

Now I’m stepping it up a notch. I’ve heard this for years and had no idea who it was until an awesome friend of mine sent it to me. I love the sound of this song. The whirling up, down, and all around, a rollercoster of sound. And it’s full of attitude!  It’s got lots of spunk. Comes in super handy when I’m writing a particularly snarky or sassy scene. I can feel it in my bones, forcing me to move.  It’s okay to give in.

3) Pursuit of Happiness (Steve Aoki Remix (Extended Explicit)

It’s getting real! This is an avalanche of sound. It hits you in waves over and over again. I once wrote 1,000 words to this song on repeat!   Icould’ve sworn smoke billowed from my keyboard at one point. It’s also great if you have to write a party scene. Oddly enough this song was on the Project X soundtrack. I made fun of that movie but it has a crazy awesome soundtrack.

Also check out Kid Cudi. He’s an amazing artist. Got the most amazing beats.

Now we are in the top 2. Proceed only if you can handle mind blowing sounds.

2) Overdose – Lady Radio Mix (from the Party Monster soundtrack)

I love this song for several reasons. It helps me when I have to write a drug scene or writing a certain character in my novel. The song is so wonderfully 90’s club music. Ironically, Party Monster was set in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I also enjoyed the Party Monster despite the negative reviews. I thought the cast was great and it’s a movie worth watching.

Ready? My number 1 song to to get pumped to write is..

1) Sweet nothing – Calvin Harris featuring Florence and the Machine

I’ve loved Calvin Harris since his first album. If you haven’t checked it out, go, now, hurry. Freaking amazing. This song blows me away on so many levels. Florence’s vocals get inside me and move around. She’s one of the best mainstream female singers right now. And awesome Harris music is such a perfect compliment to the vocals. It makes me want to jump up and down and shake all over. I’ve played this over and over for hours on end. This song pumps me up to write, work out, get up, drive to work and start my day. I think it could even make taking out the trash awesome.

Also check out these other songs by Calvin Harris: Acceptable in the 80’s, Feel so close, Bounce, We found love, anything from his “I created Disco” album.

Songs that almost made the list: Yamaha by Delta Spirit and Gimme by Donnis

Now you know my list. I’d love to hear what songs put you in the mood to write!

Why writers always forget about fun

It has been a crazy couple of weeks for me.

For my day job, I work at a university admissions office. I’m happiest when I’m busy and things are swirling around me. I hate standing still, or worse waiting. My current position is more than happy to oblige.

And these past few weeks have been full of 40 plus weeks, plus trying to squeeze in a social life, husband and cat time, and novel writing time.

I’ve been writing about 400 words on my lunch break about 3-4 times a week. Plus trying to keep my house from looking like an episode of hoarders.

But it all came to a head this Saturday.

I woke up and sat in front of my computer and had every intention to pound away words on my first Saturday off in two weeks. I had lofty goals for word counts and blog posts.

My body and brain had other plans. It had declared war and took me hostage.

I found myself reading news websites, searching, looking through YouTube videos, and falling into the black hole of Wikipedia.

What morning rush^ - - 614909
Oh sweet sweet internet

I looked up and it was 5pm. My brain needed a rest. It needed to do something other than work. It needed to bounce around in the madness of the internet and look at funny cats, celebrity news, and soak it in until I forgot the stresses of the week.

As a writer with a full time job, I always have so much on my plate. I schedule writing time, editing time, critique time, and even lunches and sleep. But I always forget about fun.

It didn’t even have to be a big expensive outing. For me it was catching up with the world and googling things I found on google and loosing myself in all sorts of media. I’m a full on internet nerd. I had to catch on meme’s, and my fav tumblr’s.

I think part of the reason fun is so forgettable is because writing is fun but it’s for a future fun. Each word we type gets us that much closer to our dream of quitting our day job for the freedom to work from home and write. The dream of doing what we love full time. There are days when I feel so close I can feel it prickle my skin but instead my alarm clock goes off again.

Writers need to have fun. It’s how we clear our minds and make space for new ideas for poems and stories. We don’t want our brains to turn into a really weird episode of hoarders.

Don’t let yourself forget about fun.

My goal for the week: schedule in video game and internet time.

My stubborn body will thank me for it.