All posts by Kimberly MacCarron

Pick-Me-Ups, Inspiration and Writing Friends

When I’m feeling like I need a pick-me-up or inspiration, I usually find those in a couple different places: awesome quotes by people/writers I admire; talking to writing friends who understand my special brand of crazy; or drinking–preferably with writing friends who can commiserate. 🙂

Kim and Kerri out of the Waterworld Mermaid Lagoon and on dry land at Mike’s American Grill, clearly brainstorming story ideas and NOT drinking mojitos.

 

Here are some of my favorite quotes that have been tacked up on bulletin boards/dry erase boards in my house or scribbled into countless notebooks.

Some of these are writing related, but most of them are just quotes that make me feel warm and fuzzy. But that could be the mojitos. That’s a real possibility.

 

“You don’t have to see the top of the staircase to take the first step.”–Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”–Mahatma Gandhi

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”–Mahatma Gandhi

“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.”–Vincent van Gogh

“Success is sometimes the outcome of a whole string of failures.”–Vincent van Gogh

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”–E.L. Doctorow

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”–Stephen King

“Writing is like giving yourself homework, really hard homework, every day, for the rest of your life. You want glamorous? Throw glitter at the computer screen.”–Katrina Monroe

“You can fix anything but a blank page.”–Nora Roberts, my Queen

“Every time I hear writers talk about the muse, I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job. Do your job.”–Nora Roberts, my Queen

“If you don’t step forward, you are always in the same place.”–Nora Roberts, yes, still my Queen

 

My other forms of inspiration and pick-me-ups (other than mojitos) would be lavender bath salts, Burt’s Bees lip balm, chocolate, and ice cream. I’ve been trying to steer clear of the last two, and that has made me surprisingly bitchy. Just keeping it real here among friends. 🙂

Thanks to all my writing friends who bitch-slap me when I need it, give me encouragement and support when I need that, celebrate the good news, and generally give me an outlet to vent when the occasion calls for it. You guys are my rocks. And you know who you are. 🙂

Savvy Seven, YA finalists in the 2013 Golden Heart class, who will always have a special place in my heart.

 

www.kimmaccarron.com
Twitter: @KimMacCarron

Comfort Food: Ice Cream, Chocolate and Canned Cranberry Jelly

This is going to be my easiest blog post ever. The topic is comfort foods. Two of them will be no-brainers for most people. The other one is steeped in family tradition.

If I’m happy, I love to eat ice cream and chocolate–preferably together. When I’m sad, I have to eat ice cream and chocolate–preferably together. Those are just my rules. They’re simple, and they’re easy to follow. Those two comfort foods work for all occasions, and they’ve never, never–not ever–let me down. That’s not to say that they’re miracles because I’ve been known to pack on a few pounds when I’m in desperate need of comfort food. So, I will admit that they should come with a warning: “The ice cream and chocolate you’re about to enjoy will 100% offer you the comfort you desire. However, be warned, they will also 100% add to weight gain. Eat at your own risk.”

Now, the other comfort food goes back to my childhood, and my children are following in this family tradition. It’s an easy one, and the speed to which it can end up on your holiday table can be measured by how fast your electric can opener works.

If I go to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving, I sneak in the canned cranberry jelly (not the sauce with those pieces of cranberry in it–that’s just not the right texture, and I will cry if I buy it by accident.) When the hostess talks about her family recipe for cranberry sauce, I smile politely. I dish out one spoonful onto my plate because I do have manners. But then I’ve been known to sneak my Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce like I’m doing lines of coke under the table.

It’s become a joke in the family because my five kids all prefer the canned cranberry jelly, too. When we host Thanksgiving, we make everything from scratch. We don’t cut corners on anything, but that’s what makes the jelly so special. I always joke: “Just like my mama used to make” when I run that knife around the inside of the can and slide that blob of cranberry jelly into the Waterford crystal bowl with a satisfying plop. The ridges from the can on the outside of the jelly always makes me smile. Always.

I’m hoping they still have the canned cranberry jelly when my grandkids (which I don’t have yet) make their Thanksgiving dinner. I imagine them smiling and saying: “Just like my Grandma used to make.”

It’s the little things, people. Enjoy them!

www.kimmaccarron.com
Twitter: @KimMacCarron

The Slippery Slope of First Manuscript Madness

I could talk about the tons of small projects during childhood and adolescence that I wrote as my first manuscript, but my first novel which I started at age twenty-one was just all kinds of wrong. That should be the title of the book. “All Kinds of Wrong.”

The idea started out sweet and easy. It was supposed to be a cute romance about two people who started out as childhood friends at a vacation lodge and how they fell in love as adults. Picture the setting as Dirty Dancing, minus the dancing.

Then I began to think about all the obstacles, the family members, the friends, hell, even the staff and local residents. My cute vacation romance started the slippery slope into wanting all my secondary characters to have lives, too. I could picture these characters with posters, protesting their one-dimensional lives.

So I took the first step into All Kinds of Wrong, my first spiral into Manuscript Madness. I gave them all extensive backstories and lives outside of the main story. Then I realized that I was paying too much attention to them instead of the main characters. I had to give my hero and heroine more than just a backstory. Enter a shit-ton of flashbacks and flashforwards and information dumping.

And that was in the first chapter. I’m not joking when I say that I had my hero driving up winding mountain roads in the first chapter, just reminiscing and flashing back to how he first met the heroine when she was six and he was twelve. It’s painful to read this first chapter. But, hey. I didn’t leave out my heroine. She got the whole second chapter of raking her bittersweet memories over the coals. I gave her flashbacks equal time.

What started out as a sweet, short romance turned into a crazed mashup of The Thornbirds, War and Peace, and every Judith McNaught book I’d ever read. It was epic. It was 150,000 words of epic.

It was Manuscript Madness.

I had whole paragraphs detailing the walk down to the lake where the hero and heroine would meet for the first time after many years. They both started from different cabins, each taking a break beside different trees while flashing back to the last time they had apparently touched that same bark on those same trees before revealing a momentous memory. Something that had happened that changed them both.

I guess I thought at age twenty-one that a first kiss and (years later) the loss of virginity were momentous occassions and crazy obstacles.

What were the things I learned about that first epic manuscript where I descended into madness and All Kinds of Wrong?

You don’t need to put on the page every single character’s backstory and life. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make them three-dimensional characters. It just means they aren’t the main focus.

Weave in backstory in sneaky ways. Don’t dump information. Not everything is important.

Touching the bark multiple times along the journey might seem bittersweet, but years later it’s cringeworthy. Take my word. First manuscripts are learning opportunities. Even second and third ones. Or, as in my case, the thirteenth.

When I start a new manuscript now, I still have to push my secondary characters out of the way. I don’t care if they sign petitions and organize protests or they try guilting me into writing them into the story more.

I have to tell them: “If you deserve your own story, you’ll get one. Wait your turn.”

That’s my first manuscript story. What things have you learned from your first manuscript attempt? Did you ever descend into madness? Did you ever feel like a manuscript (not just the first) went All Kinds of Wrong?

Please share. I can’t be alone in this. Right?!

www.kimmaccarron.com
Twitter: @KimMacCarron

Where Do I NOT Write? That is the Question

I would love to say that I have an amazing office with built-in mahogany shelves to showcase my thousands of favorite books and an antique desk that once belonged to a famous author. I’d love to say I have an ergonomic chair that helps my posture and my walls are decorated with inspirational posters about writing.

But, yeah, that’s not what I have.

Instead, I write wherever I can. I start off in a chair in my living room while I have my morning coffee, celebrating the amazing words I’d crafted the day before. When my back starts to cramp in that chair, I head to the kitchen table. This is provided I can find a clear spot. During the school year, I usually have to shove projects and books to the side to make way for the laptop. With five kids, that can be a lot of shoving. I need to sponge off sticky residue from either glue or jelly. Or both. And I certainly never swear while I’m cleaning my writing area. Never.

Once I get comfortable in the wooden kitchen chair, I sometimes—almost never because I’m a writer and writers write—I might check social media very, very quickly. It rarely takes any time out of my day. I might pop on Hangouts just to see what some of my writing groups are up to. I certainly never get sidetracked by things that are not writing-related. I would never discuss inappropriate couches or clown erotica or mating rituals of insects. And if a swarm of Dragonflies (Golden Heart finalists from 2015) jumps on here to dispute that, well, they’re just flat-out fibbing. I never look at the time on my phone and realize that two hours have gone by without writing a word. That never happens. Never.

But if it did, I would want a new location to jumpstart those creative juices. That’s when I usually head up to my bed. I stack the pillows behind me to get comfy, then I hunker down and write ALL THE WORDS. I power through, not tempted by the television. Not tempted to throw things in my Amazon Prime cart. Not tempted to research anything that could take me down the rabbit hole. That never happens. Never.

Later in the afternoon my kids start yelling up the stairs that I need to be ready to take them to soccer. That’s when I slip my laptop into my Vera Bradley bag and schlep it out to my minivan. I usually brainstorm my next chapter all the way to my destination, and then as soon as I park, I whip out my laptop and don’t waste even a minute of my writing time. Usually the words are flowing and I’m way in the zone when my kids head back to the van after practice. I never leave my laptop in that cute little Vera Bradley bag while I talk to other soccer moms or text my writing friends. That never happens. Never.

I’ve written pretty much everywhere. I’ve written in bleachers. I’ve written on a large quartz rock at a park. I’ve written in restaurants and coffee houses. I’ve written on my upraised knee, standing in line at the DMV. This I did recently on my birthday since I may or may not have forgotten that my driver’s license expired on the day I turned…well, on the day I turned 33. Again.

For the most part, it’s not really important WHERE you write. It’s only important that you WRITE.

Where’s the craziest place you’ve ever written? And do you have a special place that makes those words flow? If so, share.

www.kimmaccarron.com Twitter: @KimMacCarron

www.kimmaccarron.com
Twitter: @KimMacCarron

Cover Reveal: Pintip Dunn’s FORGET TOMORROW!

We, in the mermaid lagoon, are super excited to share the cover reveal for our own Pintip Dunn!  Mermaids all across the country are flipping their fins over the complete fantabulousness of this cover!  Thanks, Pintip, for letting us share with Mermaids and Friends everywhere.  This cover rocks, and so do you!  🙂
Forget Tomorrow
Release Date: 11/03/15
Entangled Teen
Summary from Goodreads:
Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.
It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.
Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.
In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a hellish prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes.
But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all—Callie, herself. 

Pre-Order Links:

About the Author When my first-grade teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I replied, “An author.” Although I have pursued other interests over the years, this dream has never wavered.

I graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. I received my J.D. at Yale Law School, where I was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. I published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,” and received the Barry S. Kaplan Prize for best paper in Law and Literature.
I am represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. I’m a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist and a 2014 double-finalist. I’m a member of Romance Writers of AmericaWashington Romance WritersYARWA, and The Golden Network.
I live with my husband and children in Maryland.
 
Author Links:
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png

Cover Reveal Organized by:

Holly Bodger’s 5 TO 1 Releases Today!

Today is the debut release of a fabulous book—5 TO 1—by Holly Bodger.  I first met Holly when we became Golden Heart® finalists together in 2013. We were both in the YA (Young Adult) category, and all of us YA writers bonded quickly. We had our own little loop called the Savvy Sevens inside of our bigger GH loop—The Lucky 13s.

Many of us in our category exchanged work before we ever met at the national conference, but it was Holly’s critique that either made me want to laugh or cry. She wasn’t harsh as much as honest. But then again, it was in a harshly honest kind of way. She would write comments in the margins like, “Meh” or “Hallmark moment,” and instead of getting upset, I laughed.

In my recent WIP, I mentioned my main character was a senior. Then again. And again. She started pointing it out with sarcasm after a few mentions in the first chapter: “Wait! He’s a senior? I had no idea!” Granted, the sarcastic comments only surfaced after we’d become friends and were used to reading for each other.

I have three CPs. The first pass always goes to Vanessa because she’s sweet and will bolster my ego. The second one goes to Pintip. She tells me all the turning points I’ve missed or that my black moment isn’t black enough. After I fix everything, and I think it’s just about perfect, I send it on to Holly. Then she rips it apart. But by then, I’m ready for it. So, I asked Holly about the people who read her books.  Here’s her response:

Every book is different, but these are generally the people who read my manuscripts before they go to my agent.

1. The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper is scary. She has a whip and is not afraid to use it. I always send my books to her first because a) she knows she’s reading my crap and can read despite the complete lack of emotion, and b) she’s not afraid to tell me it’s crap. The Gatekeeper sends me lists of things that I need to fix before anyone else sees the book. Some of these lists are short. Some of them are long. Most of them have words in uppercase such as “WHAT IS SHE FEELING? IS SHE A ROBOT?” Oh, and yes, the Gatekeeper is Kim MacCarron and no, I don’t know (or want to know!) if she wears leather while reading.

2. The group

I have many other readers, some who have been around for a few books and some who are new. Each of these writers has a different perspective which helps me see different things. Some will tear apart the plot, while others will focus on setting or characterization. Some will just say nice things that make me feel better after the Gatekeeper’s exclamation marks. The group includes my wonderful friends Amy, McCall, Jill, Loretta, Monica, Marybeth, and Pintip.

3. The teen

Eventually, the book goes to Kaitlin, daughter of the Gatekeeper, because she can give me a true reader’s perspective. Plus she can tell me when I do stupid things that make my teen characters sound like they should be wearing mom jeans.

4. The expert

For 5 TO 1, I was very lucky to have the always awesome Sonali Dev to help me with cultural details. In addition to the random questions I asked her while editing, I sent her the book when it was completely done so she could see if I’d missed something or got something totally wrong (a couple times, I even ran copyedit Qs by her!) I have used different expert readers with other books in the past (for example, I have contacted doctors, police officers and teachers). These people are invaluable. Without them, I would make stupid mistakes.

5. The Gatekeeper, Part 2

Yeah, she usually reads it again, but she uses less exclamation marks the second time around and sometimes, she puts little smiley faces and hearts in the margin. That’s why she’s a keeper. So if you’re reading this thinking you need the Gatekeeper in your life, HANDS OFF! She’s mine. And don’t think I won’t open a can of whoop-ass if I need to fight for her. I know Kung Fu. Well, sorta. I’ve seen the movie with the panda at least three times…


About 5 TO 1

In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, Koyanagar–a country severed from India–now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, and women are an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of wedding their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife. But after fighting so hard for freedom against the old ways of gender selection, these women have become just as deluded as their male predecessors.

Sudasa Singh doesn’t want to be a wife and Kiran, a boy competing to be her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Kiran’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, each thwarts the other until they slowly realize that they might want the same thing.

You can visit Holly here or follow her on Twitter. About Holly Bodger

A long-time resident of Ottawa, Canada, Holly has been working in publishing since she graduated with an English degree from the University of Ottawa.

5 TO 1 is Holly’s debut novel. You can visit Holly here or follow her on Twitter

Barry Manilow: He Writes the Songs

I grew up listening to Barry Manilow, and he’s continued to be an inspiration to me throughout my life. It’s not his fame or fortune. It’s the music, the words and the man behind them. It’s hearing him talk about his Manilow Music Project where he encourages people to donate gently used musical instruments to be given to schools. How can you not love this man?

But knowing he married his manager and long-time partner, Garry Kief, makes me love him all the more. I can’t imagine hiding who I am for fear of what people might say, but I commend him for coming out and coming out so brilliantly. However, I hope we get to the point where nobody ever feels like they need anyone’s blessing to love who they love. No matter who you are.

For all those who may not support him, there are a thousand more who will embrace him and encourage him and rally around him.

I had planned to write this post about Barry Manilow after I attended his concert at the Verizon Center in DC last month, but now I’m glad I waited. My husband of sixteen years took me to see Barry Manilow four times throughout our marriage and he sat beside me as I sang all the words and smiled the whole time, because, SERIOUSLY! How can you not smile when this man sings? My husband jokingly said, “I’ve now seen Barry Manilow more times than Rush.”

Barry Manilow sings with heart. He sings with soul. He sings with sincerity.
Whether he’s singing about what it means to be a parent or a friend or a lover, he sings with conviction. Or whether he’s singing to the misfits who feel like they don’t belong… he reminds us that we are one and we all belong. Best known for his power ballads, his words indeed hold power. He can sing about love that inspires you to love better than you ever have before.

I’m either giving him the credit or he’s taking the blame for me becoming a romance writer. In several ways. He set the bar so high. His swoon-inducing lyrics never made me think I should settle for second best. I wanted the kind of love that he inspired.

When I first heard him, I was too young to even understand the meaning behind the words, but, ohmygod, whatever it was he was singing, I knew I wanted THAT. I wanted to feel deeply and passionately and forever.

When I was a kid growing up in Pittsburgh, I used to listen to Barry Manilow on my stepdad’s stereo. This was back when you had to work to hear music. And especially me. We lived in a small house—where our electricity and water were shut off due to nonpayment more than I liked to admit—and I knew the value of having money and power. Literally and figuratively. So, money wasn’t something that I ever took for granted.

My stepdad had a nice—by our standards—stereo, but I wasn’t allowed to touch it. So, of course I did. Every day in the summer I waited patiently for him to go to work and then I’d run over to his album collection and pull out Barry. I would take the album over to the stereo, put it on the turntable and fool around with the needle until it worked correctly. Then I’d listen to that album again and again and AGAIN. I’d dance to the upbeat songs and sit all dreamily during the ballads, not even understanding that kind of love yet.

My mom was in on the secret, but she told me to make sure I was responsible with the stereo and album. We only had one small air conditioner in the house and it was for the back three small bedrooms, divided by a makeshift curtain hanging across the doorway. That made it pretty damn hot in the living room, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to listen to “my” music. One day, I got sidetracked with the temptation of the coolness in the back of the house. And I went. And fell asleep.

Later, I ran back to the living room to put the album away before my stepdad got home from work so he woudn’t know I’d been using his stereo. I looked at the stereo under the window and my heart started pounding. There was the album, completely warped like something out of a Salvador Dali painting. My heart just broke. I tried to heat it even more so I could bend it back into shape, and I managed to lay it flat and slip it back into the album cover.  But it was ruined.

I remember going back to my bed and crying. Sure, I knew I was going to get in trouble for fooling around with my stepdad’s stereo and ruining his favorite album, but it was more than that.

The music was gone.

It took awhile for my mom and me to save up the money to replace the album. It’s strange to look back now at the girl in that house who couldn’t scrape together enough money for music when now it’s something most of us can experience with one click on the internet. When people are streaming and sharing and even pirating artists’ work—whether that’s music or books. But that’s a whole other blog post.

I often think back to what inspired me to begin writing, and the answer would probably be a combination of Barry Manilow and books. Both were something I could experience in certain degrees for free or for a relatively low cost. They were my escape to different worlds. They made me imagine the lives the words told. They made me want so much. Like I said, they set the bar very high.

I write stories about love because I think love is what makes us who we are. I think love is love, and it should be celebrated every time two people find it.  I’m writing a young adult book now about two boys who fall in love, and I’ve been a little scared to finish writing it. Because I’m not a boy. I’m not a teen. And I’m not gay. With the #WeNeedDiverseBooks taking off in a different direction than how it started—which is veering off from diverse books to diverse authors, I’m wondering if it scares other authors who are writing a story that’s different from their own experiences.

But I think Barry came along once again to give me the inspiration I need. It’s not about whether I’m a gay teenage boy. It’s about whether I can write a book that shows two people—no matter their sexual orientation—falling in love.

And I hope I can do that justice.

That’s why I write romance. That’s why I write for teens. And that’s why Barry Manilow will always be my favorite songwriter. Because he sings about love, and couldn’t we all use more of that?

After all, Love is Love.

I’m a Swinging Sprinter

I’m a cheater. There. I said it. I’m admitting it right here on Waterworld Mermaids. I’m cheating on my sprinting partner. Actually, I’m cheating on all of them.

I’m the type of girl who needs someone to always keep me accountable, or I drift away. Like a woman married to a great guy that just can’t be with her all the time. Apparently I’m a lot more needy than I thought. I can’t be happy with just one partner.

I’m a swinging sprinter!

There you have it. I’ve opened up my writing relationships to other partners. Each one gives me something I need that another one can’t. One is published and is working on edits, and that’s great, but I need someone who’s looking to create new words and meet goals and stuff like that. One is struggling right along with me, and I love that we’re on the same page. One is on vacation, and one of my grandma’s favorite sayings comes back to me: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder…for somebody else.”

Yesterday I had so many sprints going that I felt like Mrs. Doubtfire when she/he kept showing up at different tables in the restaurant, forgetting who she/he was supposed to be. I had to start keeping track on paper! At one point I had two going at the same time.

My Young Adult chapter started a #YARWAsprint, but I was in the middle of trying to finish up one with a friend. In the end, I had to split my word count between them.

Then I realized…MORE IS BETTER! Now I’m introducing all my partners to each other so we can all sprint together. I’ve found that when we’re all working toward the same goals and trying to lift each other up and encourage each other to keep at it, we all succeed. It’s easy to get distracted with the internet and social media, but it’s a hell of lot harder when you’re supposed to make yourself accountable to somebody else. Somebody who is actually working when you’re scrolling through Twitter feeds and you’re checking emails and clicking on one link after another. And by “you,” I totally mean me.

If anyone wants to sprint with me, I’m your girl. Don’t feel guilty about cheating on your own partner. Ask them to join. We can all be “Swinging Sprinters.” The more, the merrier. You can find me on Twitter at @KimMacCarron. Or just comment below.

Here’s my very favorite saying in all the land to help us get motivated and get those books either finished or started or polished: “When we are dreaming alone it is only a dream. When we are dreaming with others, it is the beginning of reality.”—Dom Helder Camara

Let’s dream together and get it done. Happy Writing. Happy Sprinting.

Do you have a favorite motivational saying?

Follow me on Twitter @KimMacCarron if you want to sprint

Follow me on Twitter @KimMacCarron if you want to sprint

THE BEST KIND OF LOVE is here! It’s here!

I’m so excited to interview our very own Mermaid-Kerri Carpenter today. We are all flipping our sparkly fins in the lagoon as we celebrate the release of THE BEST KIND OF LOVE.

Kerri Carpenter's newest release

Click here to buy Kerri Carpenter’s newest release

I was privileged to be on the ground level of her post yesterday. We were roomies in NYC for the RWA conference, and I was also in her critique group when she started writing Penelope and Ethan’s story.

We started out as a group of six, but a few dropped out, and then three of us stuck it out. We had the best critique group ever. We met at a local bar/restaurant and drank mojitos with cool sugar cane stirrers. We drank. We ate. We laughed. Then we would discuss our books. Best. Critique. Group. EVER.

My favorite scene in THE BEST KIND OF LOVE is when the heroine shoves the hero off the porch and into the rose bush. Hope that’s not a spoiler alert. Is it? Sorry! But, I so loved that scene. It was the type of scene where it just comes alive in your mind. I could completely see it. I loved Penelope’s awesome blend of feisty and vulnerable.

In the spirit of Christmas, I have to sing, “These are a few of my favorite things” about this book. 1) Second-chance love. 2) Feisty yet vulnerable characters. 3) Family dynamics. 4) Fabulous sisters x4! 5) Small-town setting.
This book has it all!

Now, I’d like to ask Kerri some fun questions that James Lipton asks at the end of INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO:

1. What is your favorite word? Any two words (or parts of words) combined like awesomesauce, asshat, glittertastic.
2. What is your least favorite word? (I CAN’T believe I’m going to say this but I truly hate, hate, hate this word.) Titties
3. What turns you on? Kindness and loyalty. A really good bottle of wine and some candles doesn’t hurt either.
4. What turns you off? Intentional meanness.
5. What sound or noise do you love? The sound of waves crashing on the beach.
6. What sound or noise do you hate? Whistling
7. What is your favorite curse word? Fuck-balls
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I always wanted to play a villain on a Soap Opera or be an MTV VJ in the 90s.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Dishwasher, because there’s nothing I hate more than washing dishes!
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? You did a great job! I’m proud of you. Come see everyone – they’ve been waiting.

Man, Kerri, that last answer reminds me of The Titanic when the old woman dies after tossing that diamond into the ocean (WTH?) and her younger spirit moves through the ship seeing everyone again.  Then she sees Jack.  I don’t know what brought tears to my eyes.  Their short-lived yet eternal romance or the fact that she threw that damn diamond into the ocean.  Probably the diamond.

Does anyone have a question for Kerri?  One lucky commenter will be swimming away with a free copy of THE BEST KIND OF LOVE.

Visit Kerri at her awesomesauce website here.  Follow her on Twitter here.

Visit Kerri at her awesomesauce website here. Follow @authorKerri on Twitter here.

NaNo Midway Point

Okay, people. This will be short today because I can’t be wasting my word count on a blog post. Some of you are nodding because you understand. Some of you won’t read this post until December. I understand that too.

For those of you in the dark, I’m talking about NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month.

nanowrimo2-308x450

Like Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, it happens every November. You commit to writing a 50,000-word novel. That’s it. That’s all. It’s very simple. Right?! Can I get an AMEN?

This year I started off strong, mostly because my local chapter (WRW) had a first annual write-in on November 1st. My kids had soccer games and other activities previously scheduled. If I had followed the same pattern as every other November 1st, I probably wouldn’t have written a word that day. Instead, when Kathy Seidel opened her home to fifty chapter members, I jumped at the chance. I knew if I committed far enough in advance, I would follow through with my goal of starting the book. So I farmed out my kids for the day. I missed a soccer tournament and several of my other kids’ activities as well.

Did I feel guilty? Hell no! I wrote almost 3,000 words that first day, which kicked off a rather successful NaNo month for me.

Up until recently, that is. At 38,000 words, I’m starting to stumble. Starting to lose my way. Starting to think about all the plot points that don’t make sense. Starting to wonder how the hell I’m going to wrap this thing up.

It’s at this midway point where I start realizing all the things wrong with the plot. It’s usually at the midway point where I finally get a decent grasp of a character’s motivations, his or her personality, the setting, the tone. But the characters didn’t start out that way. So I have to gag my inner critic/editor who wants to rush back to the beginning and start fixing.

But I need to finish the damn book. I also have to obsess about word count. I have to keep refreshing that stats page on the NaNo website so I can watch the graph rise. (Admit it! You do it too!) I have to check out my writing buddies and see how they’re doing.
That inner editor itches to go back and start fixing the beginning. But if I do, I could potentially lose word count.

So I’m pressing ahead. I. Will. Finish. This. Book.

Normally, I wouldn’t be stressed about the potential awfulness of this first draft, but I have another problem. Her name is Margie Lawson.  I signed up for an Immersion class beginning next week, hosted by Denny Mermaid, where we deep edit our story, and I plan to work on this NaNo book.

Now, I’m sure I can sift through the 50,000 words of the new book and come out with a few that are keepers, but usually large chunks hit the virtual trash can.

I set a goal for myself to finish this book before next Wednesday, which is a far cry from the other years, where I have generally slid under the finish line—dusty and tired—at the last minute. But what a ride!

Who’s doing NaNo this year? If so, how are you doing? Here’s your place to brag or seek commiseration. Here’s the place to admit you feel some word-count envy when you see your writing buddy’s graph rising every day when you stumble into your own road block.

When you do hit that writer’s block, reach out to your writing friends. Ask for help. A fifteen-minute brainstorming session could easily get you back on the right road. That’s what writing friends are for.

GH 2014 photo