Tag Archives: writing

Peter Andrews swims with the Mermaids and shares his tips on HowToWriteFast!



Addressing the crowd at a Great Lakes event.

I’m thrilled to introduce Peter Andrews to the lagoon today for a different sort of Guy Day interview.  Peter has been writing and earning a living at it (!!!) for many years.  He keeps a blog on how to write fast, and teaches online courses on the same subject.  A writer, hubby, great dad, and all-around good guy, he even makes dinner!

It’s exhausting work, let me tell you!  So, first, let me offer the nice man a drink with an umbrella…  and let the questions roll!

1. What if you finally can sit down to write and realize you can’t get started?

Starting is dependent on preparation. Before you finish writing each day, you need to determine what you will work on the next day (or next definite session). This is a promise to yourself. And you keep it. You can still do other things, but you need to commit to work forward.

How not to write fast (duh)!

2.  What if you’re suddenly not in love with your book?  

Everyone falls out of love with their books.  Occasionally, a book is just a bad idea. So be it. Usually, though, we forget why we love the book. The passion fades. I always write out why I MUST write the book before I do more than a few pages. Ten or more reasons. In complete sentences. Designed to persuade me to persevere. It almost always works.

3.  Susan profiled your “bagel” practice for unknown words in an earlier post.  Is there a story behind this?  (pretty please?)

It used to be the Next Best Thing in our quest to write fast.

When I was writing a lot of science articles that were jammed with facts, I kept coming to screeching halts. I lost my momentum, over and over again, as I looked up names, dates, places, and materials. I realized I needed a placeholder that would be unlikely to be in my final copy. Bagel was born.

4.  Do you have a “think positive” mantra that gets you going in the morning?  Susan says you get up at the same time as her (she has to be up at 5:30 a.m.) and you’re already working when she comes into the kitchen at 6:15.  Are you secretly a machine?

Well, it could be the Puritan genes, but I think I just have found work that I am passionate about. Writing is what I was born to do.  (it’s true)

5.  What’s the most you’ve ever written in a week?

I don’t know. I’d estimate 15,000 words. Not heroic, but exhausting for me.

6.  What are you most proud of?  

It changes. I am delighted by the script and the novel I just finished. But I have also gotten a real thrill out of writing a speech and hearing laughter (or seeing tears) as it’s delivered.

7.  Do you have plans for the blog you run?  www.howtowritefast.blogspot.com

The blog will keep going. It already has led to courses (an online version begins on Monday), and, eventually, I’ll edit up the material from these into a book.


Peter’s blog offers every writer ideas for increasing their output.  Find it at http://howtowritefast.blogspot.com.  

He is also teaching an online course this month at  http://www.yosemiteromancewriters.com/workshops.


Thanks, Peter!  The Mermaids are all clapping their fins and splashing around, now you’ve given them the keys to How To Write Fast!





Crap-balls, Glitter Umbrellas & Awesomesauceness

The tides are changing in the Kerri-verse. ‘bout time too.

To say I’ve had a bad year is such a drastic understatement that it makes me laugh. And roll my eyes, which are currently bedecked with my favorite blue mascara from Sephora. A nice accent to my knee-high black boots. Sorry, but during a bad year, you can still look really fabulous. But I digress…

RefleDiva-Kerr-ina-avatarcting on my year of craptasticness, I have to admit that the doom & gloom didn’t start last year. Nope. I’ve been living in a life coma for quite some time now. I didn’t realize it, but I think I’ve been sabotaging myself. However, I’ve finally defeated Evil Kerri and have some things to be really proud of in my life, and it’s bringing a whole new perspective.  Continue reading

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Recently, I spent a night with some of my favorite things: wine, pizza and a movie. I watched the 2011 film, Crazy, Stupid, Love., starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone.  crazystupidlove

It may have been the wine, but I really, really enjoyed this movie. There was a certain “seize the day,” but in the end, be yourself vibe that I can only describe as awesomesauce.

Of course, being the writer I am, I immediately started thinking about the movie and making it all about myself. So without further ado, here’s what I got: Continue reading

Good Riddance!

2012 is almost over and I, for one, cannot flipping wait! Adios, 2012 and get the hell outta here!

When asked, I often tell people that the best year of my life was, hands down, fourth grade. What a great year! I had a fantastic homeroom teacher, lots of friends and if I finished my computer assignment early I could play Oregon Trail (best computer game ever).

If my life peaked in fourth grade, it’s been coasting ever since. Until 2012. The year of Debbie Downer doom & gloom. For every good thing, there’s a bad thing. For light, there is dark. Up and down, yin and yang, smiley face, frowny face. For glitter, there is … um, poopy brown? Anyway, you get my point. Continue reading

Who Wants to Hump with Me?

Who immediately took that innocent question straight into the gutter? For shame, for shame!

I meant with NaNo. For those of you not familiar with this, it’s a time when we writers decide to torture ourselves for one entire month. We try, and sometimes succeed, in writing a 50,000-word book in one month.

Usually when I first start my book, I’m a little bit excited but mostly fearful that every word I write will be utter and complete crap. Then, a week into writing the novel, I start to enjoy it. My characters pick up speed. It starts to feel real. Although I may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, I can certainly see that I’m staying on the tracks. And then…

And then comes that damn hump. It’s a big one, too.

I’m looking at it right now. Although it’s not Wednesday anymore, today will be my own “Over the Hump” day. It’s when my story should very well hit 25,000 words. But I’m a little concerned that I won’t make it up that hump. My main character has been put through the wringer lately. And now I can’t figure out how to make her life better, so she’s just sitting there waiting for me to save her. To make things right.

I know it’s my responsibility. I made her poor life miserable, and only I have the power to change her fate. Poor Brynn. She’s hanging all her hopes on someone who doesn’t have the gumption to make it over the hump.

However, the nice thing about NaNo is the encouragement we get from other writers going through the same thing. For instance, when I don’t feel like writing another blasted word, the chime on my phone lets me know that Pintip has texted with a half-hour sprint challenge. Okay. I can do a half hour. That’s nothing.

And then a half hour sometimes turns into an hour. Or two.

So, if you’re like me, and you’re struggling to reach that halfway mark in your novel, reach out to a friend. Reach out and challenge them to finish with you. To be a part of something that’s bigger than either of you.

I challenge you all—whether you’re participating in NaNo this year or not—to encourage your friends to reach their goals. It doesn’t have to be about writing. It can be about dieting. Or organizing the house. Or physical exercise. Anything that makes you struggle.

As Mary Anne Radmacher once said, “As we light a path for others, we naturally light our own way.”

Go! Light your path.

I’m getting ready to hump.

Embracing Self-Plagiarism

One of the questions a writer is most-often asked is whether they are a “Plotter” or a “Pantser.” We’ve talked about it here on the Waterworld Mermaids a few times. Do you painstakingly outline things, or do you just fly by the seat of your pants and just write like the wind?

I tell people I’m a Plotter, only because the NaNoWriMo goal continues to elude me. The most I’ve ever been able to write in a month is around 36,000 words. Folks who can “Fast Draft” and do something like 50,000 words in a weekend completely blow my mind. *looks at Denny Mermaid*

Am I a Plotter by the true definition? No. Do I actually write all these things down on notecards and post-its and poster board? Not really. I’ve tried it. Short lists, sure. Bullet points. This sequel I’m working on? I outlined it for the publisher three times. The actually manuscript? Well…it kind of looks like the latest outline…

My online SF writers group came up with a great term I’ve embraced: The Athena Writer. Athena Writers don’t necessarily have to have something on paper before they write it. They could look like they’re napping, or staring off into space after a big dinner, and then once in front of the computer the scene springs, fully-formed, from their minds. This is how I write. I have to have everything figured out in my head before I write a scene down. I don’t feel comfortable writing it if it doesn’t make logical sense.

Let’s be clearer: I don’t feel comfortable typing it into the manuscript if it doesn’t make logical sense.

While writing this new book, I’ve stumbled upon a process that I’m definitely going to try more of. I don’t really have a name for it yet. Maybe you guys can help me out.

I go places while I’m writing a novel; it’s inevitable. The doctor’s office. Job training. Lunch dates. These are places where it’s unlikely I’m going to have enough time to “get in the zone” and spend an hour cranking out 500 beautifully poetic words.

However, like most writers worth their salt, I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go. In whatever time I have, I scribble down things that I know need to be said, or that will happen in the next scene. Doesn’t even have to be full sentences. Key words, bullet points, clever dialogue. In essence, I’m “fast drafting”, but in very short bursts, on paper. And because it’s on paper and not in the Word Document, I feel less like I’m having to go back and redo work I’ve already done.

There may be some people who enjoy redoing work they’ve already done. I’m definitely not one of them.

This way, I feel like I’m cheating. Like I’m copying off someone else’s paper while I massage the details into my own style. Only this time, the paper I’m copying off is my own.

It’s all about the paper. I still love writing longhand. Writing on paper gives me the freedom to write crap,. I can do it short-hand, or in the margins, with picture doodles. Then when I sit down in front of my computer later, I spend less time staring off into oblivion or rummaging through the fridge because I already know what’s supposed to happen next. I’ve written it right there! All I have to do is make it a little more flowery and move the scene along. Next!

In the last week, thanks to some of this on-paper-scene-drafting, I’ve raised my daily word count from 1000 words/day to 2000+. Granted, I’m getting closer to the end of the book and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. That always helps. But I’m still going to keep it up. They’re not groundbreaking numbers, but to me it makes a world of difference.

I am all for anything that can make the act of Putting my Butt in the Chair less painful.

So does this make me a Plotter? A Pantser? A Fast-Drafter? A Self-Plagiarist? I suppose I’m a little bit of all these things. Not that any of it matters.

My editor doesn’t really give a flying fig about how I get to THE END…just as long as I get there.

Nine Months and Counting…

I’m having a baby!!  Gotcha! 🙂

No, it’s not a boy or a girl…it’s a book.  (Hopefully not a hard-back! Can you imagine that trying to come out of the birth canal?)

Okay, I know pretty cheesy.  But considering the anxiety and excitement my news has brought to me and my family, one would think it was the same thing.  My ghost romance, Wanted: One Ghost was recently picked up by Crescent Moon Press. The conception took nearly eighteen months but now comes the hard part–the birth for all to see.

A few days ago I realized, I’m counting down the days/weeks and months along with my youngest–no, she’s not expecting (thank God) but she’s starting her senior year in high school.  In approximately nine months, both her and I will have a whole new life spread before us.  We are both nervous and excited.

I think I felt the same emotions when I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter nearly 21 years ago.  Would everything be okay? Was I going to be a good mother? How in the heck was I going to give birth and survive, even though millions of women have been in the same boat since the beginning of time?

I’m not the first to have my book (baby) published (born) and I won’t be the last.  But the preparations needing to go into a healthy delivery are just as important.

A few weeks ago I asked some of my fellow authors who’ve been there/done that/got the t-shirt what they did to prepare for their exciting day of delivery and received some wonderful insight. One friend sent me out to Christine Nolfi’s blog site:


Another sent me to Nancy J. Cohen’s post about her Promotion Checklist:


And others just sent me their own ideas.  All are great words of wisdom and I equated them to the wonderful women friends who’d been in the same boat I had, while I was pregnant with my first in Hawaii.  We look to others who’ve been there before, we want the good, the bad and the ugly truth so we know what to expect when we are expecting, what to prepare for and what to avoid.

That is what I’ve found so refreshing with all of my great writing groups I belong to–everyone is willing to share experiences and even learn from a newbie who might have a nugget or two to share.  And what’s even better, I haven’t met many of the people I’ve talked to face to face and yet they are willing to share so much.

So with that in mind, I am sharing here too.  I want to pass along the great links above (which I felt were very helpful in giving me a sense of where I needed to be and when) and hope to be able to pass the torch to another writer on the verge of giving birth to their newest creation.

If there are any choice words of wisdom to share with me (from those who’ve been there-or those who might have questions) please let me know.  I would love to hear from you all about experiences and expectations.



Lent and the Distracted Writer

Yes, folks.  Mardi Gras is over.  Ash Wednesday is here, and the forty days of penance.  As in, fish on Fridays.  Giving up sweets.  Or soda.  Or alcohol.

Being Catholic, I’m asked to give something up for Lent every year.  One year, I gave up gossip.  Another year, I gave up saying bad things about people.  This year, I’m wondering if I should try to give up what I personally believe is one of the biggies.  It’s a real monkey on my back.

Being distracted.

I am a champion at being distracted.  I don’t like to turn off my wireless, partly because I’ve always allowed myself to believe that it can be hard to turn back on.  I love to look things up, to research, to collects tidbits of information.  I’ve studied cosmetics, perfumes and knitting with the intensity of a day trader.  Also, what if something really important comes through on my email?  What if I miss it?   I have things to do, and often allow myself to think that those are super important.  More important, even, than the work I sat down to do.  Writing.

So, how do I not be distracted?  How do I not look around the room and see the things that need to be picked up.  Turn down the brain-chatter in my head that nags me to get that load of laundry on, check on that bill, hang that coat up, try out that miraculous anti-aging serum?

Because if I can just get those things done, I will be productive!  Right?

Wrong.  If I get those things done, I have done those things.  And I will have allowed myself not to write, yet again.

Again, how do I turn down the distracted side of my head?

In Pressfield’s The War of Art, he calls this PROCRASTINATION. Procrastination, he says, is everything that keeps us from our work.  The Bible addresses it in Corinthians: “whatever you do, do it with your whole heart,” and encourages us to keep in mind that we are working for a higher power.  FlyLady.net starts every year with a new reminder.  This year’s is “Perfectionism is shelved in 2012.”  You can do anything for fifteen minutes!  And it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Just do it.

So.  It is possible.  I have Pressfield, God, and Marla Cilley at my back to keep me on the straight and narrow.  With that in mind, I will do the right thing.  I will turn off the wireless.  I will resolve to do my job with my whole heart.  I will set the timer for fifteen minutes, rest, and repeat, and forgive myself up front for not being perfect.  This is my Lenten resolution.

Do you get distracted?

Checks out this link for more, uhm, encouragement.  Honest, he says it so much better than I ever will:  http://electricliterature.com/blog/2011/07/25/dont-read-this

Look Ma! I have a process!

I was torn about what to write about today. Life has been crazy for me lately and I’ve not had a lot of time to think about blogging here today.

Now, the stuff I’ve been doing is the fun stuff:  incorporating myself as a writing business, signing my contract with Entangled, getting new headshots taken (see one to the right), and filling out the cover art fact sheet for my book (my favorite question was the one that asked what I didn’t want on my book cover.  (The first thing that came to mind was, “cowboys, babies, and the Cialis bathtubs”)

I also received a rejection. Not fun. But after a one-night pity party with the Mermaids, I got back up on Seabiscuit and got to work. I sent that manuscript to another publisher and now I wait.

And the EDJ (evil day job) . . .  let’s not go there.  In fact, I don’t want to go there right now. Again, working through some stuff which will likely work out but it’s a pain getting there.

But, even with all this stuff needing to get done the thing I was struggling with was writing.  And, it was driving me crazy! See, I decided that I needed to change how I did this writing thing.


Not.  A. Clue.

So, I decided to monkey with the system and do it differently. Change it up. Get jiggy with it.

And, I couldn’t get it done. Couldn’t make progress. Nothing.

So, in a moment of brilliance I trashed everything I had done and went back to the tried a true.  I wrote my bulletized plot outline. I started on page one instead of in the middle. And . . . voila! . . . I was writing!

So, what’s the moral of that story?

Don’t mess with what’s working.  There is no set way to write a book. No right way. No wrong way

Just my way.

What’s yours?







UPDATE: Since so many people commented on my boots. Here they are up close. I love them . . .

Bonding with My Baby Girl

I am not a gamer . . . never was. My eye-hand coordination sucks! God forbid I would have to rescue Princess Peach or save humans from invading aliens.

But this year, one of my goals was to be able to bond with my 16 year old ‘Gamer’. She’s as apt to be playing her new Skyrim (roll playing game–the fifth one in the Elder Scrolls series after Oblivion for those who are in the know) as she is splatter painting a Jackson Pollack-ish impressionistic piece of work.

So a few weeks ago I started playing “Oblivion–Elder Scrolls IV” in hopes of understanding why the game is so fascinating. I’ve watched both her and my older daughter playing for the past year or so. The scenery is breathtaking and some of the villages in the fictional world are some place I would love to vacation. The homes are quaint with old world wonder and chests/dressers filled with odds and ends–magical, mystical and gold!!

The music is soothing–spa quality, tranquility that will lull you under it’s spell if watching as a spectator and carry you through on your journeys as a player. I can learn and be anything–a mage, a fighter–even a thief–all while still saving the villagers and Empire from the evil daedric lords and the Oblivion Gates in which imps emerge and set havoc to the villages.

Nothing like getting caught up for a few hours to de-stress and then go to pick up daughter and be able to talk about finding Ancient artifacts needed and how she conquered the quest to get ideas and share in something common for a change . . . and now back to motherhood . . . go put your laundry away!