Friday, November 25, 2011

Tangled Tides Release and WINNERS

"Yara Jones doesn't believe in sea monsters--until she becomes one."

The day has come! Karen Hooper's debut, TANGLED TIDES, releases today.

Tangled Tides includes several different species of mythical monsters and a battle is going on between mermaids, selkies, gorgons and sirens. To celebrate the day Karen has asked us to choose a side.

This was an easy choice for me, because as much as I love the selkies, gorgons and sirens in Tangled Tides, the mermaids and mermen are by far the coolest.

I choose MERFOLK!

You can choose a side too. Karen's blog has info on all the creatures and details about how you can participate.

Now, as promised, I'm going to announce the winners of the TANGLED TIDES giveaway and send two of you your very own copy. And the winners (chosen by are: E.R. King and Elaine AM Smith! CONGRATULATIONS! I'll email you and get these in the mail ASAP.

YAY KAREN! I know this day has been a long time coming and I hope it's every bit as wonderful as you've hoped it would be.

Karen is giving away a signed copy of her book and some other sea creature themed prizes. To enter, join the underwater web war on Twitter. Tweet which sea creatures you’re rooting for and why. Include the hashtag #TangledTides and you could win.

Karen will be on Twitter all day celebrating and answering questions, so stop by and say hello. @Karen_Hooper

Here are a few places to buy the book and read reviews:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Win a Copy of TANGLED TIDES!

I know I'm supposed to be on blogging vacation, but I overlooked one MAJOR thing when I decided to take a November/December blogging break:


Karen has been a dear friend since we met and traded manuscripts more than two years ago, and her debut, TANGLED TIDES is a book no one should miss.

I knew when I read the first draft of TANGLED TIDES it would be something special. I was in awe of the incredible world Karen built, I loved her complex characters, and I got sucked into her brilliant story.

A few weeks ago I pre-ordered two copies. I got them in the mail last Friday, a full two weeks before the official release!

So, because I love Karen and I love my bloggy friends and can't wait for you all to read this fantastic book, I'm going to pass both of my copies on to you. Don't worry, I'll buy another one for myself on release day.

I like to keep giveaways simple, so all you have to do is leave a comment and a way to contact you. I'll announce two winners on Black Friday, (November 25) the day TANGLED TIDES officially releases. And yes, this giveaway is open to everyone, so you can win whether you live in Kansas or Timbuktu.

I hope everyone is having a beautiful November!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blogging Vacation

This month I'm trying to rewrite a book. Then it's DECEMBER: the month of over-scheduling and joy.

Something's got to give.

I know you are all busy with NaNoWriMo and the holidays, so I'm thinking no one would be too sad if I take a few months of blogging vacation.

I'm planning to be back in 2012 and I'm really going to try to be a better blog neighbor then.

I'll miss you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Seeing Both Sides

I'm tired of people who preach tolerance in one breath and belittle people who dare to think differently than them in the next.

I'm tired of people who don't try to understand the other side.

I'm tired of angry words.

I'm tired of hate.

I believe most people are good.

I believe most politicians want what's best for our country.

I believe most churches are filled with good people who want to serve others and serve the god they worship.

Maybe this makes me stupid. Or blind. Or both.

It probably shows how naive I am.

Oh well.

I just think that maybe we'd live in a better world if we spent less time trying to be heard and more time trying to hear and understand others.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Being a Mom

Sometimes I get a little annoyed when I see interviews with celebrity moms. Many times the focus is on their designer nursery or their creative naming skills and NOT on the fact that they are responsible for a small person and need to do their best not to screw up that small person's life.

I'm here to tell you that being a mom has NOTHING to do with designer nurseries. It has very little to do with cute clothes, creative baby names or fancy car seats.

Being a mom is about waking up with a newborn every three hours day and night. It's about sleeping on the floor next to the crib when a toddler has croup so you can hear each rattly breath and know he's still breathing.

Being a mom is about cleaning carpet a million times when it's time to potty train and not getting upset when a five-year-old still has an accident every now and then.

Being a mom is about comforting a six-year-old when a kid at school has been mean. It's about sitting down with a book and trying to explain why the a in "have" doesn't make a long A sound.

And being a mom is about skipping a birthday celebration so you can be up all night with three kids with 102+ degree temperatures. It's about cleaning puke, and poop, and pee ALL THE TIME.

Being a mom is not glamorous.

Today is my birthday. I'm 31. I feel happy about these 31 years. I'm glad I graduated from college. I feel very lucky that I was able to marry my best friend. I'm pleased that I've written a few books. But I'm most proud of the seven years I've spent being a mom.

This morning my sweet sick children brought me birthday cards full of pictures they'd drawn and creatively spelled versions of "I love you, Mom."

Being a mom is hard, but it's so, so worth it.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Guess where we've been?

Yesterday we (my husband, 4 kids, and I) spent nine hours on airplanes/in airports coming back from one of the most interesting places in the world. I'm BEAT, but very inspired.

I'm also already missing the beignets and gumbo.

Have you ever been to Louisiana?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Time, or the Lack Thereof

Sometimes I feel like my time is a giant pizza sitting in front of a room of starving people.

I yell, "Dinnertime!" and everyone lunges for a slice. By the time I get to the table all that's left are crumbs.

The problem is all these people deserve my time. I WANT to give it to them.

But I want some for me too.

I feel like I'll always be searching for that balance.

Do you ever feel like that?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Be Happy Now

If you aren't happy now you probably won't be happy when you have:

An agent
A book deal
A bestselling book
A movie based on your book
A theme park based on your movie
Millions of dollars

That is all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Get it Done

Lately I've been making a lot of excuses not to write.

The last few weeks have been NUTS. We've had a slew of school activities, doctor's visits, and volunteer commitments. Now, we're in the middle of a pretty big remodeling project and my four-year-old just started puking.


I decided to let my writing time slide, thinking I'd get back to it when I'm not so swamped.

Then I read this on Jody Hedlund's blog, and realized I need to make time to write. Life is chaotic, but I know I can carve out an hour to write, even on my busiest days, as long as I make it a priority.

I NEED that hour.

I'm going to try harder to make it happen.

Do you struggle to fit writing into your daily schedule?

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Year

Sometimes I get tunnel vision. When I have a goal, whether it be renovating a bathroom or publishing a book, I put all my energy into it, often letting other important things slide.

Every now and then I need to be reminded of my priorities.

This happened one year ago, when I had my fourth baby. There were complications and as a result my little guy spent the first two weeks of his life in the hospital, learning to breathe.

Those weeks were the hardest of my life, but they were also cleansing in a way. I focused entirely on him. The only thing in the whole world I wanted was for him to be okay. All those other things, things I thought were important, disappeared.

I've tried to remember those weeks as I've gone through this year. It's been a frustrating time for my writing. Things haven't always happened the way I hoped they would.

But, when I think about the what REALLY matters to me, I have no complaints.

My little guy is a healthy, thriving one-year-old now.

My family is happy. Life is good. And I am grateful.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Fork in the Road

Sorry about the blog silence Monday. Time seems to be getting away from me lately.

Last Friday I wrote a scene that introduced a new character. It was a good scene, full of tension and suspense. I loved it at the time.

But then I realized that this character will change the course of the story and now I'm not sure I want him to do that.

I'm going to have to give him the ax. It's a shame, but he just doesn't fit with my vision for the book. Now I just have to build up the courage to cut and try again.

Do you ever get to a place in your manuscript when you have to make a decision that could drastically change the rest of the story? What do you do?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Writing Life, Simplified

I realized yesterday that I started writing almost exactly 4 years ago.

I thought about those years and decided it might be fun to break them down.

So here's my life (in mostly chronological order):

Year One:

-Wrote really crappy stuff
-Let family and friends read some of it (much to my embarrassment)
-Learned a lot

Year Two:

-Finished first book
-Sent 2 queries
-Realized it was awful and put it away
(hopefully forever--no one should ever have to read that book!)
-Finished second book
-Queried agents
-Had some requests and a few invitations to rewrite
-Met writing group

Year Three:

-Signed with lovely agent
-Began blogging
-Revised more
-Started several new books
-Started tweeting
-Went to my first writing conference with my writing group girls
-Met many writers online and in real life

Year Four:

-Had horrific pregnancy
-Had sick baby
-Finished first draft of third book
-Shelved third book
-Wrote first draft of fourth book
-Went to second writing conference and met my agent
(who is even more lovely in person)
-Let fourth book simmer while working on fifth book
-Made plans to finish fourth and/or fifth book before 2012

And that's where I'm at.

I think if someone told me when I started writing my first book that I'd have to write at least four more before I saw one published I would have been discouraged.

But, looking back, I'm not discouraged at all. It's been a wonderful four years. I've learned a lot and plan to learn a lot more over the next four. And, you know, hopefully sell something someday.

How long have you been writing? How have those years shaped your perception of writing and publishing?

Sunday, August 21, 2011


A few weeks ago I was talking to my cousin at my grandmother's funeral.

He asked me about my writing and I told him a little about the book I wrote and the ones I'm working on now. He said something to the effect of, "I'm so impressed that you can do that and raise 4 kids."

It was a sweet thing to say, and I could tell he meant it. I should have just said thank you, but I've always had trouble taking compliments, so instead I said, "Well, I don't do very well at other things. My house is always a mess."

Then he said something that really made an impact on me. I can't remember his exact words, but they were something like, "We should feel sorry for people with little children and immaculate houses. They miss out on a lot."

I liked that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I'm going to admit two things:

1. This year, and probably last year too, I've been a really crappy writer. I haven't written regularly at all. I've started 3 manuscripts and finished 0. I've had a few spurts of productive writing time, but mostly my focus has been on other things.

2. I don't feel bad about it.

I had a reflective moment the other day as I looked back over the year and some of the struggles we've been through, and overall I feel really good about where I've put my focus. My family needed me and I was there for them.

Sometimes I feel like a lazy bum when I see how much writing some of my friends do. Several of them have written three books in the time it's taken me to write half of one. I have to remind myself that this is not a race.

Writing is important to me, but it's nowhere near family on my list of priorities. I know the day will come when my babies will be all grown up, and I don't want to look back at my life and feel like I wasn't able to enjoy their childhoods because I was so wrapped up in my own pursuits.

Still, I don't think it's impossible to be a good mom and a good writer, (plenty of people do it!), and a shift in our schedule should make it a little easier to get some quiet time. On Monday two of my four kids will be headed back to school. My preschooler will start school the next week. They'll be filling their little brains with knowledge, baby will be napping, and I'll be writing up a storm. Hopefully.

Do your priorities sometimes push your writing to the backseat?

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Life

My 91-year-old grandmother passed away last week. She lived a long and remarkable life, and she will be very missed.

She raised six children in a two room log cabin without indoor plumbing. They were poor. My dad tells stories of Christmases when the only gift for the kids was a bit of hard candy.

All of Grandma's kids learned to work hard, and as a result all six children graduated from college.

It's impossible to think about Grandma's life and not feel a little ungrateful. We have so much, and can't imagine life without television or Internet, much less flushing toilets or air conditioning.

I am grateful for Grandma and all the people who've gone before us to make this world what it is. It's not perfect, but darn it, at least we can pee inside.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Writing Bug is Contagious

Yesterday morning my eighty-seven-year-old grandpa called me to tell me he'd written a story.

My older brother is half-way through his first novel.

My younger brother started writing his book too.

My seven-year-old daughter carries a notebook around with her and is constantly writing things down. She wants to be a writer when she grows up, just like her mom.

The stories they write make me happy, and I wonder if they'd all be writing now if I hadn't tried it first. I'm glad I did.

Do you have friends or family who have caught the writing bug?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Just Write Something

Sometimes I get busy.

When this happens I'm often frustrated that I don't have enough time in my day to write a respectable 2-4 pages, so I don't write anything.

That's dumb.

I should just write a page, or a paragraph, or a sentence, because writing something is better than writing nothing.

This month will be crazy with family visits, back-to-school stuff, birthday parties, and appointments, but I WILL write something every day.

Do you have days when you don't write anything? Do you want to join me in August and write something every day?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I'm currently working on a book about pirates.

One of my struggles has been describing their fictional world because, before now, I've never written a fantasy setting.

So, for the last couple months and I've been taking a pictures of otherworldly things. Like this:

And these:

And these too:

Pretty inspiring, no?

It's a lot easier for me to describe something I've seen rather than something I've only imagined. I love having pictures of the real world to inspire my pirate's fantasy world.

Do you get your settings straight from your imagination or do you base them off things you've seen?

Monday, July 25, 2011


I just picked the winner of Heather Dixon's ENTWINED using

And the winner is:

Alexandra Shostak!

Congratulations Alexandra! I'll email you soon.

We just got back from the Oregon Coast. It was AMAZING. We go every couple years, and it is my favorite vacation ever. I love everything about the Coast. The cool weather, the amazing landscape, the ocean. But mostly I love this:

We talked. We played. We rested. We made memories. And now we're refreshed and ready to get back to real life.

And revising.

How do you recharge?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Writing Community

I've been thinking a lot about social networking lately, and particularly about writers supporting writers through blogging, twitter and Facebook.

My husband started an experiment in January. He's an entrepreneur, so he thought it would be fun to blog business ideas. He'd never blogged before but, not one to do things half way, he decided to post every single day of 2011.

I told him how to make friends through blogging, (visit other similar blogs, follow, comment, start a conversation, etc.), but he hasn't had a lot of success. After 200 posts (more than I've written in the 2 years I've blogged), he still has less than 10 followers and rarely gets a comment.

I tell you this not because I want you to pity my hubby and follow his blog, (though you can if you want, it's here), but because I think his experience has shown me what a unique and supportive community we writers have.

It's easy to make friends in writer-land. I'm grateful for that.

Have you felt welcomed by the blogging writer community?

Have you left a comment on my Karen Book Deal Celebration post yet? I'll choose the winner of ENTWINED by Heather Dixon next Monday.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Finally Guilt Free (Almost)

I have four little kids. Caring for them is a full-time (plus nights and weekends) job.

I write.

I don't do much else.

It's taken some time, but I think I've finally learned to let go of my guilt over not being a super-mom. I'm at peace with a not-immaculate house, piles of laundry that build until there's no clean underwear, and Costco lasagna for dinner. I probably won't ever be the mom who runs marathons, throws over-the-top birthday parties, or makes my girls prom dresses. But that's okay.

I love my kids. I love my husband. I love my family and friends. I love writing. And life is too short not to put my focus on the things I love.

Do you have to sacrifice some things so you can write?

Have you left a comment on my Celebrating Karen's Book Deal post yet? I'll choose the winner of ENTWINED by Heather Dixon next Monday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Time to Celebrate! Win a copy of ENTWINED by Heather Dixon

It seems like I've had a ton of friends sign with agents, announce book deals, or have books come out in the last few months. Congratulations to all of them!

Today I wanted to honor my sweet friend and loyal critique partner, Karen Hooper, who sold her mermaid book, TANGLED TIDES, on Friday. YAY!!!

Karen is a master of fantasy. The world she builds in TANGLED TIDES is rich and magical, the story is brilliant, and the characters are deep and human (even though they aren't actually human). You will love this book.

To celebrate I'm going to give away my favorite debut so far this year, ENTWINED by Heather Dixon.


I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it, so I'm only going to say five things about it:

1. I hadn't heard about ENTWINED until my 17-year-old sister picked it up from the library.

2. She gushed as she read it multiple times, finally convincing me to pick up a copy.

3. It's a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (probably my favorite fairy tale ever).

4. I LOVED IT. The story is as gorgeous as the cover.

5. Heather Dixon has the most entertaining blog I have ever read (and I've read A LOT of blogs). Seriously. Check it out.

You can watch the book trailer here.

All you have to do to win the book is follow my blog and leave a comment. I'll announce the winner Monday, July 25.

And to make it easy to leave a comment I'll ask two questions: What's your favorite debut so far this year? And HOW EXCITED ARE YOU TO READ KAREN'S BOOK!?!?

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm Back!

After a very productive blogging break, I've decided to come out of my writing cave.

The break was wonderful. I think I've done more writing in the last three months than I'd done the whole year previous.

Still, I've missed my blog buddies and I've missed having a place to share my thoughts. Plus, there's been so much good news lately, and I was desperate for a blog celebration.

On Friday, one of my best friends and oldest writing buddies, Karen Hooper, announced her BOOK DEAL. This is huge, as she is the first one in my critique group to reach this step. I'm so proud of her and so excited for her. Her book, about mermaids, is titled TANGLED TIDES, and it is awesome. You're going to love it.

So on Wednesday, to celebrate Karen's big news, I'm going to give away a copy of my favorite debut this year. Trust me, you want it. It's REALLY good.

What have you all been up to?!?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Goodbye for now

You all know I'm a writer. Most of you also know I'm the mom of four very little children. For the past few months I've been pondering how I can be both a good mom AND a good writer. I've realized that, to make it work, I need to give up some things. One of those things is this blog. I plan to come back to it. Maybe in a few months. Maybe in three years, when my baby is in preschool. I don't know. Right now I want to focus all of my nearly non-existent free time on writing books. I'll miss you. I know I haven't kept up very well these past few months, but I do care about you and I'll try to check in on your blogs every now and then. If you ever have a question or just want to chat about writing, books, publishing, parenting, or anything else, please EMAIL ME. I even added an email button to the sidebar to make it easier. You can also tweet me, though I should warn you, my tweets are sporadic. I'm @nataliebahm on Twitter. Good luck to all of you! I hope to see many of your names on book covers soon. Happy writing.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Liar Society Blog Tour

Today I have the privilege of welcoming Lisa and Laura Roecker, the authors of THE LIAR SOCIETY, as part of their Blog Tour of Awesome.

Lisa and Laura are two of my favorite, favorite bloggers. They are hilarious and super sweet and inclusive. When they sent me an ARC for their debut novel THE LIAR SOCIETY, I knew I was in for a treat.

I was not disappointed. THE LIAR SOCIETY was a very fun read. One of the things I appreciated most was the well thought out mystery. They kept me guessing right up to the end. I asked them to share a bit about how they managed to keep the mystery fresh and exciting.


A big part of our process when we're writing a mystery is outlining. We would be completely lost if we didn't have some kind of road map while we're drafting. For us, outlining and mysteries go hand in hand. We need to at least have a rough idea of where the story is going. For us that translates into a loose outline of the entire book and then a more detailed chapter outline for Act 1. After we wrote the first act we created an outline for Act 2. This worked really well for us because we had both structure and flexibility as we drafted.

Revising was an entirely different beast. After editing The Liar Society for the nine millionth time, we began to really, truly, whole-heartedly regret our choice to write mysteries in the first place. Keeping track of which clues went where and who we were supposed to suspect and when is enough to make our collective heads explode. Our number one goal while writing was obviously to keep the mystery fresh, but not completely out of left field.

At the end of the day, for us, the most important thing was to have fun with the book. Our hope is always that if we have fun writing, our readers will have fun reading. Hopefully our theory holds up!

If you want to enter The Liar Society Blog Tour of Awesome contest, and really, who wouldn't want to enter!?! There's a $100 Amazon gift card up for grabs! Just click here and enter the super secret password, BFFS, for an entry. Remember you can enter one time for each stop on our blog tour, so be sure to click here and see where else we're visiting this month to maximize your chances of winning.

Audi, Vide, Tace,


Thank you Lisa and Laura!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I feel so sad for all the people affected by the tsunami in Japan. I hope the worst has passed and the people can start healing.

On that note, today I wanted to write a little about empathy.

Last Thursday, I was reading a book with my three-year-old son while his big sisters were at school. He stopped me, mid-sentence and said, "I wish [big sister] was a boy."

I asked him, "Why do you wish she was a boy?"

He replied, "Because it hurts her head when you brush her hair."

So sweet. He wasn't thinking of how cool it would be to have a big brother, he was worried about the pain his sister goes through every morning when we brush out her long tangley hair.

The conversation got me thinking about empathy.

I've read several books lately where I was unable to connect with the main characters. The authors tried to create sympathetic characters. The ingredients were there, (sad past, dismal looking future, and a lot of personality), but for some reason the characters didn't work for me.

Then I read I AM THE MESSENGER, by Markus Zusak. WOW. I was so invested in the main character. I felt his pain. I wanted him to find happiness. And because I was felt so much empathy for the main character I loved the book.

When I write a character I try to make her real. I try to make her likable. I want the reader to care about what happens to her. I don't always succeed.

I wish I could give you a checklist for "how to create characters that people care about," but the truth is I have no idea how to do it. For me, sometimes a character works, and sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes half of the readers love him and the other half don't. It's something I'm working hard to get right in my current WIP.

So, since I have no easy answers, I'll ask you.

How do you create characters people will care about?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Being Honest

Some days I read something brilliant and feel like a hack.

Some days I read something awful and wonder HOW it ever got published.

Some days I write and I'm sure what I've written is fantastic.

Some days I read what I wrote the day before and think, "How did I think this was okay yesterday?"

Some days the words flow and I love writing.

Some days writing is hard. I force words to come. Those words suck.

Some days I wonder why I didn't choose a less frustrating obsession. Like cooking. If I put all the time I've devoted to writing into cooking I could be an awesome cook. Maybe. But I love to eat, and if I was an awesome cook I'd probably be a bit chubbier, so it might be a good thing that I chose writing.

Some days I don't write at all. I hold my baby. I read a book. I play blocks with my three-year-old. I watch American Idol. I might even do some laundry.

Some days I'm sure I'll never finish writing this stupid book.

But I'm sure I will... someday.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Writing, Parenting, and GUILT

Lately I've been feeling a lot of guilt.

This is mostly because:

When I'm writing, I remember the pile of laundry that needs to be done. When I'm doing laundry I think I should really be spending time reading with my five-year old. When I'm reading with my five-year-old I feel bad about the sinkful of dirty dishes. When I'm working on the dishes the baby starts crying and I know I should just hold him for a minute. When I'm holding the baby the big kids start fighting about what to watch on TV and I think I really should get them all dressed up in warm clothes and send them outside for a half hour to play. When they finally get outside I feel like I should be writing.

It's a vicious cycle.

I think it's impossible to be a parent and not feel guilty every now and then. Being a parent is hard and it takes SO MUCH TIME and ENERGY. It's physically impossible to accomplish everything I need/want to do everyday in 16 waking hours. I often feel overwhelmed.

Then I get reminded of just how great my life is.

A few weeks ago I was putting my oldest to bed she gave me a big hug and said, "Mom, I know you work real hard to clean the house and write your book, and I think you're doing a great job."

I may not be anywhere close to perfect, and I may never be able to do everything I wish I could, but I do have very sweet kids and a wonderful husband who love me despite my imperfections. That's got to count for something.

Do you have mom guilt, dad guilt, writer guilt, etc.?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A healthy dose of PERSPECTIVE

I'm very sick right now. Three of my kids are sick too, including the baby. My family hasn't all been healthy at once since January, and because of that I haven't written anything all month. I'm snuggled up in bed right now with baby, trying to keep warm despite a wicked case of the chills. I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself for the past couple of days.

And then I read about the earthquake in New Zealand. I realized that Chistchurch is where my dear friend Wen Baragrey lives. Any of you that follow Wen know that she and her family have had a very trying couple of months. Her premature grandson was born in November and seemed to have complication after complication before he finally came home in January only to head back to the hospital last week.

Thankfully he and all of the rest of Wen's family made it out of the city okay, but it was a scary time for everyone. Wen detailed the experiences of her family here.

It's so easy for me to get caught up in mylife and my worries and not realize that other people are suffering far greater challenges. But today my thoughts and prayers are with Wen and the people of Christchurch, NZ.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Author Website

We've had a whole lot of yuck at my house this week. The baby had an ear infection and now he and my 3-year-old have RSV, and my girls are recovering from strep. Not fun.

So I'll keep this short and sweet.

For months I've known I needed to create an author website.

My agent recommends that ALL writers who want to submit their work have a website (not just a blog). Websites are nice because agents and/or editors can look through in just a few minutes and get a pretty good idea of who you are and what you write.

I worried putting up a website would be a ton of work and/or super expensive and/or very time consuming. I didn't want to think about it, so I put it off for months.

Last week I finally decided it was time. I now have an author website It's nothing fancy, but I think it will be sufficient for now. And to my surprise, it wasn't hard, it wasn't expensive, and I got it done in just a couple of days.

Do you have an author website? If not, have you thought about creating one?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SPEAK and Free Speech

I usually steer clear of controversy on this blog. I don't like making people mad (and I hope I won't make anyone mad today!). But this is something I've been thinking about for a long time.

Last week I finally read SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson. I've had it on my list ever since all the hubbub last fall. For any of you who missed it, this should give you the gist of what went down.

I know I'm super late to this discussion, but I wanted to say a few things now that I've read the book.

First, I thought SPEAK was excellent. A must read. The subject matter (recovering after rape) was painful, but so important. I felt like both of the scenes dealing with rape were done well. They were not gratuitous at all, but still showed the violence and horror of the act. I agree one hundred percent that the Missouri professor was WAY off base calling it soft porn.

It is absolutely a book I want my kids to read when they get older.

All of that said, I want to address one of the issues I had with the uproar last fall. While Laurie Halse Anderson and all the bloggers and writers who rushed to her defense had the right to speak up and defend something they believed in, so did the guy in Missouri. And though I don't agree with what he said, I do believe he had the right to say it.

In the U.S. free speech is a right for everyone, not just writers and artists. Not just people with whom we agree. EVERYONE. Whether a person is conservative, liberal, communist, or just plain crazy they have a right to say what they believe. Sometimes I think we forget this.

Here's an example:

About a year ago, I was on Twitter when a published author tweeted about reading a Goodreads review of her book. She was livid. The reviewer found some of the things in the book offensive and rated it low.

So, the author went to the Goodreads review and left a scathing comment about how the reviewer was an idiot, and the review was tantamount to censorship. AND THEN the author posted a link to her reply on Twitter and encouraged her followers to leave more mean comments on this poor person's Goodread's review. Goodreads! This was not some national reviewer. This was just a reader who picked up a book and didn't like it.

I thought the whole thing was very TACKY. And wrong. The author had the right to write her book. She had the right to include any content she wanted to include. But the reviewer also had a right to voice her opinions. Having the author and twenty of her twitter followers jump down the the reviewer's throat, and attack her personally, for sharing her thoughts was more than a little hypocritical.

Needless to say, I deleted the author from my twitter feed.

I think the issue I had with both this situation, and to an extent the SPEAK uproar, was that people did not simply defend the books in question, they also attacked the person voicing their opinion. It is one thing to say, "I totally disagree with you. I believe this book was good and important for XYZ reasons," it's quite another to say, "Because you made this comment you are a pervert/homophobe/idiot/insert- overblown-insult-here."

I think we need to accept that not everyone will like what we write. We may offend people. Our books may even get banned. And while we have the right to defend ourselves against criticisms we find unjust, we should try to do it in a civilized manner. It's importatnt to respect other people's right to speak freely, even if we strongly disagree with their opinions.


Sunday, January 30, 2011


I decided last Saturday that I was going to finish my first draft.

I sat down at the computer and wrote for three uninterrupted hours while my husband took care of the kids.

I didn't allow myself email, or twitter, or spider solitaire. I just wrote.

And 3500 words later I was done.

Sort of.

I have some characters, a setting, and a pretty good story, but there is still SO MUCH work to be done. I'm so excited to do it.

I know everyone says to wait a few months before revising. It makes sense to wait and get some distance from the story. It's good advice.

But even though I know the "right" thing to do is write something else and let this story simmer for a while, I just can't wait.

I'm excited about this project. I want to work on it. And, after my 2010 (aka the year of crappy writing), I feel like I need to keep this new found momentum going.

So, I'm jumping into revisions tomorrow. It might be the "wrong" way to do it, but I don't care.

How long do you wait before you start revising a first draft? Have you ever been so into a story you couldn't let it rest?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why I May Never Buy an eBook

Last week I told you about my new iPad and how I had no idea what to do with it. Now, thanks to the advice of several awesome commenters I have a much better idea of what this little thing can do. Thanks everyone!

After I read all of your comments I immediately downloaded apps for all of the bookstores (kindle, nook, ibooks, etc), and began to browse.

It was AMAZING. I couldn't believe that every book I wanted was just a tap away. Not only that, I had some bookstore gift cards from Christmas, so I didn't even have to spend my own money! The only question was what I should buy first.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I am not and impulsive buyer. Before I could tap that buy button I had to do some research. So I looked up what it would cost to buy a REAL paper and ink copy of the books on my list, and I was surprised to find that for most of the books I wanted, it cost the same or just a dollar more to buy a book instead of an eBook.

I thought about that real book sitting on my shelf. I thought about lending it to friends. I thought about all four of my kids pulling it off the shelf when they get old enough to enjoy it. I thought about reading it in the bathtub and not worrying about a few little water spots, because it's paper and it will dry. And the eBooks suddenly looked much less shiny.

Yeah, I've heard about Kindle's new lending program. But I've also heard about all the caveats, like the fact that only a few books can be lent, you can only lend a book ONE TIME, and only lend it for 14 days.

Yes it would be convenient to get a book the second I want it and store my whole library in one two pound device. But I don't think those conveniences outweigh my desire to share my books with friends and family and smell paper and ink while I read. Plus you know I'm not taking the iPad with me to the tub.

So instead of buying books online I'll be headed to the bookstore to browse the aisles the old fashioned way.

But don't worry! The iPad will see some reading action too. I downloaded an app that gives me access to my library's eBooks and eAudiobooks and it turns out my library has an AWESOME eBook collection. So I think I'll save myself a couple trips to the library every month by doing more of my library reading and listening on the iPad.

I will probably break down and buy an eBook one of these days, but not anytime soon. The sad truth is I like real books too much.

Do you buy a lot of eBooks? What do you like about them? If you're not an eBook fan, why can't you live without good old ink and paper books?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Tale of the iPad

My husband got me an iPad for Christmas. We don't usually give each other big ticket gifts, but this year he wanted to WOW me.

See, a few months ago, on my birthday actually, he called me up to let me know he'd just bought a car. It was a piece of crap Jeep Wagoneer and it was puffing blue smoke. This was a problem for 5 reasons.
1. He already had a car, a very nice car actually.
2. He'd never fixed a car in his life.
3. It was my birthday
4It was barely a month after my c-section and there was a ton of work that needed to be done in the yard and I couldn't do it.
5. He didn't ask me first (probably because he knew I'd said no).

I was a little upset. He was very apologetic. We made a deal that it would be out of my garage before Christmas, whether it was fixed or not.

He worked on it most nights, pouring time and money into it. I wondered if the dump had a pick up service. Then, one week before Christmas, he fixed the blue smoke problem, put it up for sale, and sold it two days later for a pretty decent profit.

He used that profit to buy me an iPad for Christmas.

It was very sweet of him.

Since then I've been trying to figure out what to do with this iPad. It's a very useful little contraption, with apps to help with everything from calorie counting to tweeting. But I'm finding that we (and by we I mean my three-year-old and occasionally my husband or me) mostly use it to play dumb games.

Truth be told, I have the same love/hate relationship with the iPad that I have with most of the other pieces of technology in my house. It makes me miss simpler times... like last month.

But I'd still rather have the iPad than the Jeep.

Do you ever get overwhelmed by technology? Has your spouse ever bought a car without asking you? Do you play Angry Birds?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bedtime Stories

My kids have requested a lot of bedtime stories lately. Books are still fun, but they'd rather have us make up a story on the fly.

My husband tells the best stories. He has great characters with funny voices and silly names. They go on exciting adventures. He always has the kids giggling by the end (which actually isn't all that helpful just before bed, but it's pretty cute).

My bedtime stories aren't so good. They're pretty much all about dragons and princesses and a quest where they have to get three things. Not very original. And not very fun. When the kids get to choose the storyteller it's no surprise that they always want daddy. Mom's stories are lame.

So how, when I can't even tell a decent bedtime story, do I manage to write books?

I'm pretty sure it's because my creative process takes time. I need to work out the basics. I have to decide where the scene will take place, what the characters are going to say to each other, where the bad guys come in, and how the problems I create will be solved later on. I always say I'm not a plotter, but I think plot more than I admit. I don't outline a whole book before I write, but I can't just make stuff up while I'm typing either.

This might be why I can't do 10,000 word days. I run out of stuff I've thought through after a couple thousand words and I can't go on until I get an hour to do dishes or vaccuum so I can think out the next scene.

Are you a good on-demand storyteller? Can you sit down at the computer and create, regardless of whether you've worked out a scene before? Or do you have to have things planned out before you write?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Keeping it Simple in 2011

Last year I made a bunch of goals. They were good goals. Or they would have been good, if I'd actually been able to accomplish any of them.

So for 2011 I am making just one resolution for my writing.


That's it.

I'll probably do a lot of reading. I hope I'll keep up with the blog and Twitter. I might even write another book after this one is done.

But if I finish the book I'm working on (and by finish I mean write, revise a hundred times, and polish until it sparkles), and do nothing else with my writing this year, I will be happy.

What do you plan to write in 2011?