Saturday, December 29, 2012


I went away for the holiday.
I came home to a world of white.

I hope you all had a lovely Yuletide. I'll write again in the new year. It's time to make your resolutions known.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Solstice

It's the longest night of the year. The darkness has been creeping in, rising to it's fullest height. But tonight marks the turning point. The days will begin to be longer, fuller, brighter. Spring has rung the bell from far away. We'll wait for her return.

I have news for you
(9th century Irish)
I have news for you:
The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone
Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course
The sea running high.
Deep red the bracken; its shape is lost;
The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,
cold has seized the birds' wings;
                                                      season of ice, this is my news

In honor of the solstice and the midwinter, I'm going to pick up Susan Cooper's "The Dark is Rising" series again. They're perfect for acknowledging the long dark of winter while looking ahead to the coming of the spring.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thoughts and prayers

Just taking a moment to say to our family who read this blog that we're safe here and we love you all very much.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who are suffering after the tragedy in Newtown today.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gratuitous Puppy Post

I know I know... but my awesome dog, Tag, turns 4 today and I just can't believe he's grown up so much! If you can't tell, I love my dog. He's my child. He's amazing, smart, beautiful, and so well behaved.

We hike together, snuggle together, play ball and dance around the kitchen together. Seriously... I can't imagine a better pup for me.

So happy birthday, Tag. You'll get a big fat treat later and a present to shred into bits. I know you'll love it. I love you!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

IWSG: Finishing a project

It's still Wednesday, right? Ha!

This is Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly group hosted by the ever amazing and talented Alex Cavanaugh. Anyone can join in any time, so please hop over to his blog and sign up! You won't regret it.

I'm totally jammin' out to old school hip hop right now... getting back to my roots... which is completely ridiculous, because I'm Scotch-Irish. Hip hop exists nowhere in my background. But I love it.

False starts. That's what I'm insecure about. Everyone has projects that they start and can't complete, for whatever reasons... but after a certain point it starts to add up. I have so many unfinished projects it's scary. And I'm starting to worry that I'll never finish anything! I suppose everyone's process is different... and perhaps it's that I haven't hit on just the right thing yet but... at what point do you just have to put your nose to the grindstone and finish something?

Does anyone else lose interest in what you're working on like that?

I have to wonder if it says something about my character or if it's an issue with the character of my writing, or the characters that I am writing... that I can barely complete something without tossing it in the trash and turning to something new. Margo Berendsen was talking about endings and beginnings and what is the hardest part of the process for her... for me it's definitely endings, because I have to force myself to commit long enough to get there!

I love starting things. The excitement of a new idea electrifies me! If only I could recapture the romance to bring my stories to the conclusions they deserve.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


image from
Usually, any bad dreams I have melt away in the morning light, be it ever so dreary. But this one... this morning... still lingers like heartburn or a bad hangover. I haven't been able to shake the exquisitely painful melancholy it has left in its wake... like a shadow cast by a nuclear explosion, the memory of this dream refuses to fade.

And so I've written 600 words towards it... I can't tell if it's making it better or worse, extracting these characters, these horrible scenes, from my subconscious and giving them life on-screen. But that's all I can do for now.

That... and bake cupcakes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A NaNo fiasco... and what I learned from failure

Ok, so... didn't even come close to hitting my word target for NaNo. I mean, yes I know there are still 4 days left and that I could probably write 6,000 words a day and reach the 50,000 word goal for the month... but I think that would be missing something.

I can think of a few REALLY good excuses for not meeting the goal this year (i.e., travel, company for the holidays...) but what it comes down to is, I got bored with my plot. I think I just hit a point around 25,000 words where all I wanted to do was end it, kill somebody off, or wrap it up nice and neatly... and so I stopped writing because I knew that attitude wasn't going to get me to 50,000 words. And even if I could have managed to pound out the word count, I would have been disappointed with the whole thing. That's not what I want!

I really like my plot/idea for this story, and I am taking this moment to acknowledge in front of my amazing writing community/followers that I want more for it than just the chance to say "I won NaNo 2012." So starting tomorrow I am going back to the drawing board and mapping out more and better scenes for my plot.

I hope you'll all hold me to finishing this project even though it'll be outside NaNo... especially BECAUSE it will be outside NaNo. I can use all the encouragement I can get!

Also, I'm jonesing for a developmental editing project. Anybody got anything they need worked on? I'll give you a deal you can't refuse! E-mail me at ekauffman (AT) writingrefinery (DOT) com.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A website and a lull in writing

First of all, I'm very excited to announce that my website is up and running! Please pop over to Writing Refinery and have a look. If anyone you know needs an editor, whether they're self-publishing or going the traditional route, I'm here to help. If you have any questions, please send me a message at ekauffman (AT) writingrefinery (DOT) com.

Next, I'd just like to put it out there that I'm stuck in the NaNo doldrums. I was doing so well writing while I was on vacation... I made sure to carve out time every day to chip away at my word count and stayed ahead of the game for the most part.

And then I came home... home is so much more distracting than vacation! It wouldn't seem that way. But it is. I have so many projects waiting to be completed, so many books to read, and cats and a dog that clamor for attention. Sigh... I really have got to get back on the bandwagon!

How is everyone else doing?

Monday, November 12, 2012

California dreams

I've been in Nor Cal for over a week now and it's wonderful. I miss it here so very much! I miss the sun and the birds and hanging out at the horse barn with my friends... it's enough to make a girl very homesick... which is a funny feeling when my husband and my beloved pets are all the way across the country. Sigh. One day I hope we get to move back here.

Things are just more... random and amazing out here. Like this for example:

I promise, window washing is random and amazing...
The other morning I was doing my NaNo writing at my father-in-law's house in San Francisco and I could hear opera... like... a really good baritone voice singing an Italian opera. I thought perhaps it was one of the neighbors. It's a classy neighborhood, after all. But no... no... it was this window washer!!! Seriously. Incredible.

Watson eating breakfast
I also have had three rides on Watson since I came to visit... and I kept myself together, no panicking or anxiety... just enjoyed the riding and relaxed. It's been a long time since I've done that. It felt nice to be back in the saddle until the next morning, of course. Wow was I sore! I really need to work on strength and flexibility more!! Sheesh!

Mallowmar the chatty kitty

Eva the beautiful
These are the two sweet kitties who sleep with me at night while I'm here and chat with me while I'm powering through my NaNo writing each day. I honestly thought I'd be so far behind on writing due to the trip. But thanks to some pre-planning and Write or Die, I am right on track! I even wrote extra on a couple of days so that I could take a day or two off in the middle. It's incredible and I'm actually excited about this NaNo lark of a novel. Things that I didn't expect have cropped up (like Clones!) and I'm just enjoying making it an outlandish story. 

I think one of my problems with writing is that I try to take myself too seriously. And I'm not really a serious person. Now that I'm just having fun with my novel, it's really become something I enjoy and I look forward to each day. I suppose it will be that way until it isn't one day... but I'm taking advantage of the good energy for now.

Aye me....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Checking in

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I see of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

The power is back on at home after 4 days... which was not a long time, relatively speaking... but was also an eternity. Thank gods for a public library with power for charging communication devices. And thank gods for heat and running water, two things that the power unexpectedly steals away when it goes, and that I'm very happy to have back. I finish two books and read two others while the power was out. I'm nowhere near caught up on my reading list, but I feel like I made a significant contribution.

I'm sitting in a Peets Coffee in Davis, California, today. I have missed California so very much since we moved to the East Coast two years ago. I'm so happy to be back! 

I'm so happy to be writing while I'm here, too. NaNo is going pretty well for me while I'm travelling which is... unexpected. I figured I'd be floundering and way behind, but my friends here are very supportive and I've been able (with Write or Die to help me manage my time) to keep my word count rising pretty consistently. Woot!

The plot is coming along mostly as expected, as well. I haven't had too many surprises yet, but I'm prepared for them because I'm coming to the end of what I'd planned to... minus the ending. I'm still not entirely sure what genre I'm writing in... I mean, fantasy fiction with shape shifters... but I don't know if it's an adventure or a romance or YA or what! It's sort of a mystery to me. But definitely NOT a mystery.

I love NaNo! So frenetic and muddled and adventurous.

How is everyone else doing so far? If you're not doing NaNo, what other projects are you working on?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Do you know what day it is???

That's right folks! It's time for NaNoWriMo! Write write write!!!

We're still without power at our house... I am currently set up at the library (thank god for public services)... it's go time, yo!

Monday, October 29, 2012

In face of the oncoming storm

Reading material. I have Margo Berendsen to thank for a
couple of these suggestions.
We have all our preparations down to a science now. This will be the third heavy, power-loss-inducing storm to have hit us in two years, and the one with the most warning. Our list of supplies: coffee, pre-ground with no-refrigeration-necessary creamer; water, to drink and in the bathtub for flushing purposes; alternative light sources, matches/candles and battery powered lanterns; emergency radio for, you know, emergencies; blankets and reading material (see photo).

We decided to try to act normal while waiting for this newest weather threat to pummel us within an inch of our lives. I keep hoping the predictions are all worst-case-scenarios and that we're actually going to be completely fine. Denial much? Sigh...

Normal for us is pretty subdued anyhow. But with Halloween right around the corner, it was pumpkin carving time. We broke out the unconventional tools (a wood carving set and a seam-ripper were the most useful implements) and spent the evening whittling away.

If you've read this blog much over the past year, you might have picked up on the fact that I'm a Doctor Who fan. So this year's pumpkins have a theme from one of my favorite episodes: Blink (season 3, ep. 11).**

Doctor #10... my second favorite Doctor, but there are a
lacking of #9 stencils out there, sadly.

Noah's completely terrifying rendition of a weeping angel

The two together on the porch.

I would have taken a better picture of the two of them but it was late, it was chilly, and there may or may not have been a horrifyingly huge spider sighted in that general vicinity earlier in the evening. I was nervous!

I hope you all have a happy Halloween! And here's hoping that the storm decides to be kind. Please no prolonged power outages!

**Every minute spent carving was one LESS minute spent obsessing over the weather channel and the path of this ridiculously slow and threatening behemoth of a storm.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Preparing for the on-coming storm

First! Audible books and Neil Gaiman have partnered together to produce a free scary audio book. You should go download it for two reasons. #1) it's Neil Gaiman! He's amazing. #2) For every download of this FREE audio book, Audible will donate $1 to educational charities at This whole event is in honor of All Hallow's Read... a new tradition NG started of giving scary (but not too scary) books to kids for Halloween. (Didn't I say he's amazing?)

Now... It seems to be a new tradition for this area of the country to get pounded by a huge storm on or around Halloween. When you add the frenzy of preparing for NaNo to the frenzy of preparing for an actual (possible) storm... life can feel a little more than hectic.

Last year, a crazy freak snowstorm hit on Halloween.
All the heavy wet snow on the trees last year

Our power was out for a week. I started my NaNo novel that year by hand in notebooks... and then I resolved to complete it that way, but I lost my resolve somewhere close to the end... I was already spending time re-writing/typing the handwritten stuff into the computer to help me visualize my word count... it was too much!

This year it looks like I may have to start out by hand again! I'm going to hope not. Good ol' hurricane Sandy is threatening, though... and it looks like whatever comes our way it's gonna be a whopper! **scrambles around for candles and that hand-crank radio**

I haven't prepared a whole lot in recent days for NaNo. I did some initial prep-work in August, mapping out scenes and briefly sketching characters. I'm afraid if I do too much I'll mess with the magic. Part of the fun for me is the not knowing. But, that said, I need to have a clear idea of where I'm going with it this year. The first half of November and a trip to California are threatening to provide some serious distraction.

How do you psych yourself up for NaNo?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Updates and rainy days

Today I'm cross posted over at CT Chapter - EFA, a blog run by the Connecticut chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association. My recent post on beats in dialogue is the newest post up there, which you've probably all read. I encourage you to check out the blog, though! There are some great posts from some talented people.

In daily life, fall continues to soldier on here in the Northeast. The days are chillier and darker. The cygnets have all gone, but one. I'm not sure what he's waiting for. Soon the great white winter will be upon us.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Something Else Important About Beats in Dialogue

A few months ago I wrote this post about dialogue tags. I have heard (and read) so many different opinions since then re: dialogue beats and tags, their usage, and what makes a good scene. I felt like it was time to ponder the subject again.

The general feeling is that if dialogue in a scene needs the tags, it's poorly written; that writers should aim for conveying emotion through the characters' words instead of spoon-feeding it to the readers in the narration. It is the mark of an insecure writer that he feels the need to give you information that should have been conveyed in the dialogue, to make sure the reader understands that his characters are emoting or what the scene is supposed to reveal. Trust the reader to figure out what the dialogue "means". And after having a couple of critique partners review it, if they point out that a run of dialogue really is too obscure, then take the time to re-write. Beats are easy to add where they are needed. It's harder to extract them, I find.

In the book "Self-editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and David King, the authors suggest:
"It's best to replace only a few of your speaker attributions with beats. A beat after every line of dialogue is even more distracting than too many speaker attributions. What you want is a comfortable balance."
I tend to agree with that sentiment. Too many tags or beats in a run of dialogue can throw off the momentum of the scene so much that the readers forget what the characters are talking about by the end of the page!

I don't think that all beats and tags are bad. I do think a writer needs to choose her beats wisely and make the most of them. First she needs to understand the anatomy of the scene she is writing: What are the key emotions at play here? How fast is the exchange between characters supposed to feel? What else is going on in the scene? and Which actions are important to the development of the scene?

And now, because examples in real life are always fun, I'm going to borrow from J.K. Rowling to illustrate my point. What I love about Rowling is that she's not perfect. But her characters emotions are perfectly conveyed.

Excerpt from "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban":
"I DON'T BELIEVE IT!" Hermione screamed.
Lupin let go of Black and turned to her. She raised herself off the floor and was pointing at Lupin, wild-eyed. "You-- you--"
"--you and him!"
"Hermione, calm down--"
"I didn't tell anyone!" Hermione shrieked. "I've been covering up for you--"
"Hermione, listen to me, please!" Lupin shouted. "I can explain--"
Harry could feel himself shaking, not with fear, but with a fresh wave of fury.
"I trusted you," he shouted at Lupin, his voice wavering out of control, "and all the time you've been his friend!"
"You're wrong," said Lupin. "I haven't been Sirius's friend, but I am now--Let me explain..."
"NO!" Hermione screamed. "Harry, don't trust him, he's been helping Black get into the castle, he wants you dead too--he's a werewolf!"

Excerpt from "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix":
"There is no shame in what you are feeling, Harry," said Dumbledore's voice. "On the contrary... the fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength."
Harry felt the white-hot anger lick his insides, blazing in the terrible emptiness, filling him with the desire to hurt Dumbledore for his calmness and his empty words.
"My greatest strength, is it?" said Harry, his voice shaking as he stared out at the Quidditch stadium, no longer seeing it. "You haven't got a clue... You don't know..."
"What don't I know?" asked Dumbledore calmly.
It was too much. Harry turned around, shaking with rage.
"I don't want to talk about how I feel, all right?"
"Harry, suffering like this proves you are still a man! This pain is part of being human--"
"THEN--I--DON'T--WANT--TO--BE--HUMAN!" Harry roared, and he seized one of the delicate silver instruments from the spindle-legged table beside him and flung it across the room. It shattered into a hundred tiny pieces against the wall. Several of the pictures let out yells of anger and fright, and the portrait of Armando Dippet said, "Really!"
"I DON'T CARE!" Harry yelled at them, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. "I'VE HAD ENOUGH, I'VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON'T CARE ANYMORE--"
He seized the table on which the silver instrument had stood and threw that too. It broke apart on the floor and the legs rolled in different directions.
"You do care," said Dumbledore. He had not flinched or made a single move to stop Harry demolishing his office. His expression was calm, almost detached. "You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it."

These two scenes illustrate very different emotions. Characters in both scenes do a lot of yelling, but the timing of the dialogue is the key to the emotions in each scene. In the Prisoner of Azkaban scene, the urgency of the scene is conveyed by quick back-and-forth dialogue. If you remember the same scene in the movie, there are a lot of actions that the characters take (i.e. looking to and from one another; Hermione steps in front of Harry to shield him from Sirius and Lupin; Lupin reaches out to implore Hermione to listen). None of those actions are portrayed in the dialogue, because to add them, while giving you a physically more accurate description, would take away from the momentum of the scene. The readers can just as easily imagine the action as they read the dialogue.

In the second scene, from the Order of the Phoenix, the dialogue progresses much more slowly. The emotion  in this scene does not come from a rapid-fire exchange (although Harry does do a fair bit of shouting), but from Dumbledore's slow and calculated responses. The deep feelings of regret and care for Harry that Dumbledore expresses come to light through his patience in allowing Harry the space to explore his own emotions. The pace of the dialogue allows much more room for beats of character action (all taken by Harry, a detail that is also telling...). But more than that, each beat has a purpose, shows the emotion rather than telling it (more often than not).

As a writer, understanding what your characters are going through and how they would respond to one another in a scene can mean the difference between capturing the readers' hearts and getting lost in the details. The right beats in the right places give meaning to the words spoken and emotions felt by your characters, allowing the reader to peek through the windows in their souls.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NaNo 2012 is coming!

That count-down clock to the right is starting to make me nervous! And I'm the one that put it there :) NaNoWriMo is at hand! I am, I'd like to think, prepared this year. A first for me. I have a notebook of character sketches and scene summaries that I've been accumulating over the past month or so.

In the past I have just had a vague idea to carry me... even the first year when I was finishing a novel I had started in high school... You'd think I would have had enough time to sculpt that idea, but nope. I'd been hiding it under my bed for 15 years. Sigh.

Part of me is a little bit nervous that all this planning is going to steal the magic out of my experience... and part of me wonders if I'll stick to the plan at all. That's what I love about NaNo, though. Anything can happen, and does happen!

I don't know if you need motivational tools to keep you on track with your word count, but Write or Die is my very favorite one to keep me from procrastinating. I highly recommend!

What about you? Pantsing or Plotting? What are your secret weapons for pulling off your word count daily? Any special tips?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"In My Mind"

Today's theme song... I keep playing it over and over again. Sigh... love. Lyrics below:

"In My Mind"
(feat. Brian Viglione)

In my mind
In a future five years from now
I'm one hundred and twenty pounds
And I never get hung over
Because I will be the picture of discipline
Never minding what state I'm in
And I will be someone I admire
And it's funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I've just forgotten how to see
That I am not exactly the person that I thought I'd be

And in my mind
In the faraway here and now
I've become in control somehow
And I never lose my wallet
Because I will be the picture of of discipline
Never fucking up anything
And I'll be a good defensive driver
And it's funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I've just forgotten how to see
That I'll never be the person that I thought I'd be

And in my mind
When I'm old I am beautiful
Planting tulips and vegetables
Which I will mindfully watch over
Not like me now
I'm so busy with everything
That I don't look at anything
But I'm sure I'll look when I am older
And it's funny how I imagined
That I could be that person now
But that's not what I want
But that's what I wanted
And I'd be giving up somehow
How strange to see
That I don't wanna be the person that I want to be

And in my mind
I imagine so many things
Things that aren't really happening
And when they put me in the ground
I'll start pounding the lid
Saying I haven't finished yet
I still have a tattoo to get
That says I'm living in the moment
And it's funny how I imagined
That I could win this, win this fight
But maybe it isn't all that funny
That I've been fighting all my life
But maybe I have to think it's funny
If I wanna live before I die
And maybe it's funniest of all
To think I'll die before I actually see
That I am exactly the person that I want to be

Fuck yes
I am exactly the person that I want to be

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Here is a useful list of words that editors and writers need to know. This list comes directly from The Copyeditor's Handbook, the textbook for the copyediting certificate program I'm enrolled in on-line. (It makes me self-conscious, so many rules! But hopefully it will make me a better writer and editor).

Commonly confused homophones. (def: homophones are words that  are pronounced identically or quite similarly but that are spelled differently. e.g. to, two, too; there, their; etc.)
accept - except
adverse - averse
affect - effect
allusive - elusive - illusive
ascent - assent
baited - bated
bazaar - bizarre
canvas - canvass
capital - capitol
censure - censor - sensor
complement - compliment
disc - disk
discreet - discrete
eminent - immanent - imminent
ensure - insure
gorilla - guerrilla
grisly - grizzly
hoard - horde
incidence - incidents
mantle - mantel
palate - palette - pallet
rack - wrack
review - revue
troop - troupe
undo - undue

The differences between the definitions of these words are often as subtle as the difference in spelling or sound. Sometimes, though, the meanings are wildly different, and getting them mixed up can cause a lot of confusion!

What other homophones do you know? Take a few minutes and look up and learn the definitions of each of these words... the more you know, the better you'll be at your craft!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Do what you love

I spent the day editing today. I can't even tell you how good that feels. It's someone else's manuscript, of course. But oh, the absolute joy to be working on something that I enjoy and for someone who values my input and advice.

Seriously, y'all. If you can find a way to make a living doing what you love, do it! Let me rephrase. Find a way to do what you love for a living. It's worth scraping by for this. I promise.

I'm off to help N figure out what he loves to do now.

Acadia last month

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IWSG! To be or not to be...

Hi everyone! It's the first Wednesday in October. That means it's time for Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by ninja captain, Alex Cavanaugh. Anyone can join, so hop on over to the IWSG page and sign up!

This week I wanted to talk a bit more about self-doubt. It's at the root of the majority of insecurities we writers feel. At least, I think it is. :)

Recently, I've been shooting for boldness and calling myself a writer, an editor, an artist in public. (I know, egads!) And people believe me! Which... is what I want for them to do. Because it's true! But... it's been a little disconcerting... not hiding it anymore.

I always kept it to myself, this writing, editing, and art, because I never felt like those identities were true about myself even though I write, edit, and create art daily. I still have this self-talk that says "You're a hack and no one will ever believe you can do what you say you can do." But... I'm choosing not to believe that voice anymore.

It is thrilling, finally allowing myself to believe in me. I find that I'm a lot less blocked creatively. I'm taking more personal risks, enjoying myself more, having more productive days. Still... it leaves me feeling a little insecure these days... Ironic when confidence makes you insecure, eh? I take it a day at a time. I'm not sure what I'll do when I run up against failure again. Hopefully I will not crumple as quickly this time.

I think this IWSG has been a big contributor in raising my confidence in myself. So... thank you, everyone! I'm sure I'll be back here next month with a black cloud of doubt again.

Does anyone else have any trouble with identity this way?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Good Morning, October! When did YOU get here?

It's OCTOBER! That means Halloween is coming! And so is NaNo! *scrambles around for that one notebook with all her novel notes for this year....*

To be perfectly honest, I'm a "pantser" when it comes to NaNo (that's National Novel Writing Month, in case you didn't know. The whole month of November is a creative party! 50,000 words in 30 days! Check it out!). By "panster" I mean I just hop in with no plan, just a vague idea and the motivation to create something. It's actually how I approach MOST of life, come to think of it. Ha... well, there you go... that explains a lot.

Anyhow! This year, I'm going to be visiting my super awesome friends in CA (and staying with amazing awesome Leslie) during the first 14 days of NaNo! Eeek! There's no way I can pants it this year if I want to make the goal. I'm going to have to be a PLANNER! *shudders in fear and chagrin at the thought*

Luckily, I have an idea already! Woot! Having an idea is half the battle right there. What's better is that I've already started note taking... dare I say it... outlining (!!) even. My goal is to have the whole story mapped out by October 31, to not forget my laptop when I get on the plane on November 2, and to get up and write every morning at Leslie's, just like I would if I'm at home... only with more dedication to knocking out words quickly because I wanna hang out with her, too, and not spend all day staring at the computer screen. Write or Die should help with that.

It's ambitious and I'm not sure if it will work out at all, but that's the plan so far... here's hoping! I can't NOT do it this year, though. I like the idea too much :)

Anyone else out there taking the NaNo challenge this year? To be honest, I can use all the support I can get, but I give support equally! Lemme know and sign up, sign up, sign up! Then make me your NaNo buddy! My handle is (of course) fairbetty!

Ok, now here's some random art that I've done in the past couple of weeks... just for fun :)
A new raven :)

Dream Girl with stars in her eyes
Doctor Who fan art

Friday, September 28, 2012

What Are You Waiting For? Blogfest winners! Woot!

Hi everyone! A big thank you to those of you who participated in my first ever blogfest. That was fun! Your entries were so intriguing and diverse!

I thought it was interesting seeing everyone's different interpretations of the coin toss (what the coin looked like, what heads and tails represented, which side the coin landed on and what that meant for the character...). Great job, all of you!!!

Without further ado, I'd like to announce the winners! Congratulations to Angeline Trevena and Laura E Brown! Loved your entries. You were all amazing, though! It was so hard to pick just 2!

Ok, so... that was so much fun I want to do it again soon... I hope you'll give me any suggestion for making it bigger and better next time!

A big CYBERHUG to you all and thanks again for playing with me this week. You're awesome!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

In Memoriam...

When I first began riding, Trevor was already ancient. 30 years young for an appaloosa is pretty darn impressive. That was five years ago.

Trevor and I had a tenuous relationship at best. He knew what he wanted to do and most of the time it was not at all what I wanted or expected from him. Being bossed around by a mostly blind, mostly white appaloosa is no bowl of cherries, I can tell you that. But I learned a lot from him.

My most memorable moment with Trevor came on a regular old morning as I was tacking him up for a practice ride. Apparently Trevor had other things in mind for his morning. When I turned around with his saddle in hand I found him lying on the ground, his head hanging from the pole where the rope was looped. I panicked (of course). His eyes were rolled back and he was unresponsive. My good buddy, Leslie, bolted off to get our instructor as I desperately tried to get the halter unhooked so that his head would lie on the ground and he wouldn't suffocate.

When Leslie returned with Debbie, we managed to get him unhooked and then tried, repeatedly, to get him to stand up, to no avail. Someone ran to get the vet, also a boarder at our barn. She came and checked his vitals... everything seemed to be fine. Trevor just wouldn't respond to any of us. In the meantime, I was in tears, fearing I'd killed this horse, or that he'd died while under my care at least...

Close to 10 minutes had passed by and Trevor was still on the ground with his eyes rolled back. Then Debbie had an idea. She ran to the tack room and returned with Trevor's favorite cookie. She waved it in front of him and, eyes still closed, Trevor lifted his head and sniffed eagerly. We all jumped back and Debbie lured that crafty horse to his feet with the cookie! The vet looked him over and pronounced him well enough for all that...

Trevor had just decided that he didn't want to go for a ride that day... and that scaring the life out of ME would be more fun. I never forgave him for that, really. And I'm sure he snickered to himself every time he saw me at the barn.

I learned a few days ago that Trevor has finally crossed the river. Wily trickster that he was, I'm sure he's living large on the other side. Hope you find all the green grass you could ever eat, old man.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What Are You Waiting For? Blogfest!!!

**Does a little happy dance** Yay for blogfest day and yay for people participating! I can't wait to read your entries!

If you still want to join, it's not too late!

Here's the idea: I really love flash fiction, so in 300 words or less, tell me about a character you are writing (or make one up) who faces a choice... and have him/her flip a coin to make a decision.

Post your entry on your blog TODAY!!! Wednesday 9/26 and leave a message in the comments so that I don't overlook you and so that the others can see what you've done!

Also, If you don't already know, I'm starting an editing business called Writing Refinery (website coming soon). Two lucky entrants will receive a free critique of the first 30 pages of your manuscript! So write craftily, grasshoppers!

Monday, September 24, 2012

What are you waiting for? Blogfest!

Ok, y'all... I've never done this before, so... we're flying by the seats of our collective pants here :) It's blogfest time!

I wanted to say hi to all my new followers! I'm so happy you are all here! It's because of YOU that we're "festing" at all! I look forward to many chances to dialogue with you all about life, blogging, writing, and more!

I read this quote today:
"When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin.  It works not because it settles the question for you, but because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for."
and I was inspired. Deliberation can so often lead to inaction. Sometimes you just need to stop worrying and make a decision!

So without further ado here it is....

I really love flash fiction, so in 300 words or less, tell me about a character you are writing (or make one up) who faces a choice... and have him/her flip a coin to make a decision.

Post your entry on your blog on Wednesday 9/26 and leave me a message in the comments so that I don't overlook you! If you don't already know, I'm starting an editing business called Writing Refinery. Two lucky entrants will receive a free critique of the first 30 pages of your manuscript! So write craftily, grasshoppers!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

100 followers! Let's party!

Yesterday I passed a blogging milestone! I now have 100 followers! Hi guys! Yay! I wanna welcome everyone who is new. I look forward to our future crazy conversations!

In honor of reaching 100 followers, I'm going to throw my very own Blogfest/Giveaway! Next Wednesday, September 26th, please join me here for fun and prizes.

Thanks for being such a great community of encouragement, advice, and inspiration!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest, Woot!

I'm happy to be participating in Alex Cavanaugh's awesome Genre Favorites Blogfest today!

One blogfest, four favorites!
List your favorite genre of:
And a guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories!

Here are my faves.
My Favorite Movie Genre: Fantasy (and yeah, this particular movie would be a guilty pleasure...) I love Fantasy!
I'm very visual and I really enjoy that you can make up the rules for the world (i.e. people can fly and do magic) and that characters and places can be as beautiful or as gruesome as you imagine then to be... that Unicorns and Fairies exist there and that people wear such unusual clothes!

My Favorite Music Genre: Folk and Anti-Folk
I love these two genres and the juxtaposition between them. The lyricism, flow, and social commentary all speak to me deeply... 

My Favorite Book Genre: YA Fantasy
I like this genre for the same reasons I like Fantasy movies... anything is possible! You create the world, you create the rules, you tell us what happens. (It's why I write it, too.) I love diving into other people's worlds and learning how things work.

In YA I feel like the characters, even if they start out jaded and hardened by their pasts, have so much potential for growth... that they don't always have to end up as jaded as they start out... because they're younger, perhaps, I feel like they are more resilient and more likely to experience dramatic change.


My Guilty Pleasure: It's funny because fantasy used to be my guilty pleasure... I was a Lit major and have been known to be very serious with my reading list... I guess my guilty pleasure is reading new books (that have just been published) and best sellers instead of just focusing on the classics.

That's all for today. We're off to the mountains for the end of the week, so I should have some fun photos for you all when we return.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blogging frequency: A guide for blogging introverts

writers' week writing contest A person can only do so much to change their nature. After that, you have to figure out how to be in the world as who you are.

My name is Elisabeth and I am an introvert. Today I want to talk to you for a moment about blogging as an introvert. I often look at my Twitter and Facebook feeds and the frequency of posts by other bloggers and wonder if anyone will even hear me in this tree-filled forest of posting maniacs. Does that happen to you, too?

I have pondered and struggled with this topic ever since I started blogging. How often should I publish new posts on my blog? Inability to keep up with frequency of posting is one of the main reasons that new bloggers drop out of the cyber-community, sadly, usually before they ever begin to discover its real benefits. I've found (and researched to be true) a few points about blogging frequency that I'd like to share, though, that will hopefully encourage those of you other blogging introverts to keep at it.

Firstly, you may be tempted to set yourself a rigid and ambitious goal for posting based on the "Well, everyone else is doing it" principle. If you're a machine of discipline, this can be beneficial, and it's likely how you approach most aspects of your life. Good for you! For the rest of us, let's set a goal of posting at a schedule that is realistic and attainable.

Don't start out at seven posts a week! Even you extroverts may find out that (shockingly) you don't have that much to say after the first week or so! Consistency is important, so shoot for something you can achieve at first (a couple of times a week to start) and then ratchet it up from there based on reader engagement and consistent content creation.

Consistency does not necessarily mean regularity. We writers are artists, after all. We needn't always post at the exact same time on the exact same day every week. Give yourself a break! Blogging should be fun! If it's not, you're missing the point. (Same goes for writing, actually. Huh... that's nice to hear from myself today.)

Now, more posting means more traffic on your blog, and that's a good thing. Search engines love new content and your place in the SEO indexes will rise. But you have to consider your goals. If your goal is for your blog to show up on the first page of a Google search for "zombie apocalypse", then get cracking and make sure you mention the zombie apocalypse no fewer than 2 times and no more than 5 in each post (too many times and your posts will drop off because of key word stuffing... interesting, huh?).

For those of you who are interested in QUALITY of post content... less means more. The better your content, the more likely you are to hook new readership and engage your current readers. This is good news for introverts! We can be thoughtful and move at a slightly more slow pace and still have an active, engaging blog. You'll have slightly less, but infinitely more meaningful, traffic on your posts. Yay!

Thing is, just posting on your blog isn't going to get you the traffic and engagement you want. If you want people to connect with what you're saying in the blogging world you have to engage with them, too. (This is where the introverts out there cringe.)

Here's the good news. Especially in this community of amazing and inspirational fellow writers, everyone is super awesome and supportive! When you see an interesting post, comment on that post. Don't be shy. If your response is thoughtful and polite, the author will be ever so grateful and will likely return the favor! And when you run up against the inevitable trolls (those that are neither thoughtful nor polite), the amazing community that's out there will come to your rescue. I've seen it happen.

Blogging can be an introvert's dream. It's a great way to engage in the dialogue relevant to your interests, and can be as high- or low-impact as you want it to be. So dive in! And don't stress about "doing it right." Just be yourself!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Top Ten Books That Make Me Think (About The World, People, Life, etc.)

I'm jumping on the bandwagon this morning and participating in Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish blog with a different top ten, book related list theme every Tuesday (see the full list here).

This week's theme: Top Ten Books that made me THINK. Here they are, in no particular order...

1. Of Mice and Men - I can remember reading this book... I was in middle school. I cried. If I tell you why, though, it'll give away the ending. John Steinbeck really made me think about innocence (and the loss of...) and  responsibility. Haunting.

2. Everything is Illuminated - Profoundly beautiful and devastating, all at once. Jonathan Safran Foer... I am humbled to think that he is the same age as me... his writing, his storytelling, blows me away. The second World War features large in this book, as does the theme of forgiveness.
Front Cover

3. The Wicked Day - This is the 4th book in Mary Stewart's Arthurian series... and she once again worked her magic. Mordred, a classic villain, became a sympathetic character to me. So much so that I had to ask myself questions about fate, unavoidable destiny, and evil.

4. The Longings of Women - I know what you're thinking, but it's not like that. Marge Piercy (my absolute favorite poet) has written a zillion novels too... and this one's affecting characters will make you reconsider the assumptions you make about strangers and near strangers (like the girl who works at the coffee shop, or your housekeeper...).
The Longings of Women

5. My Year of Meats - I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago here. This book, by Ruth Ozeki, isn't designed to convert people to vegetarianism... but that's just what it did for me. A thought provoking look at American culture (as marketed to the rest of the world), the media culture (as part of that marketing machine), the meat industry (doing the marketing), and marketing (as a vehicle for telling the story you want, whether it's true, or applicable, or none of the above)... all wrapped up in an ironic novel full of sarcasm and humor.

6. Wicked - Another book that made me reconsider a classic villain... and how the face of evil, and the face of beauty, sometimes changes with knowledge and perspective. Gregory Maguire... you really know how to mess with the establishment. Thank you.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)

7. The Other End of the Leash - This is a non-fiction entry by Patricial McConnell. Yes, I'm one of those people that spends an inordinate amount of time staring at my dog wondering if he's content, what he's thinking, how to make him understand what I am thinking... and this book really lays it out in detail. It's a beautiful way to open the door of understanding between you and your canine companion.
The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs

8. Of Wolves and Men - Another non-fiction entry by Barry Lopez. This comprehensive look at wolves (biological, historical, mythological, political) really shed some light on the world of wolves... the people who demonize them and the people who romanticize them.
Of Wolves and Men

9. More Ready Than You Realize - Back in 2003, this book by Brian Mclaren pushed me outside of my comfortable little conservative Christian bubble... my life has not been the same since. Non-fiction entry.
More Ready than You Realize: The Power of Everyday Conversations

10. Little House in the Big Woods - yeah, sure, we all read Little House by Laura Ingalls Wilder when we were kids... and we joke about the "purity" and the "simplicity" of it now... but you want a picture of how daily life went for the pioneers? You want to take the time to really think about how harsh that simple life really was? Read it again as an adult... and think about how few generations removed we are from that reality. I tell you, it boggles the mind.
Little House In The Big Woods
So that's all from this kid for today. I hope you'll share some of your own significant reads with me, too. I'm eager to read books that make me THINK.