A Year In Review

streamer and shoe

This year has been a very good year for me and writing. First and foremost: I published my first novel! It’s been an amazing experience to publish LILA’S CHOICE and I’m so proud to send my baby out into the world.

However, it seemed that after working on LILA’S CHOICE for over a decade, my muse was itching to do something new. And boy, did she.

I wrote one novel in 2013, and continued to edit through 2014. In 2014 I wrote four novels. Four. I can’t believe it myself. That’s 274,000 words (but who’s counting).

All four novels are contemporary romances. I’m really loving the genre the right now. Two are part of the same series, one is a stand alone set on a cruise ship, and one is the New Adult novel I’ve mentioned before.

All this means 2015 will be filled with editing, editing, and more editing. My muse is firmly locked in a closet, and even though she’s stirring, I need to get some editing done before I start yet another new project. She’s already plotting her escape and dangling delicious story ideas in front of me. Consequentially I’ve been baking a lot at home…

I love the end of one period, where the ability to sit back and reflect pops up. I can’t believe all I’ve done this year. Between writing, reading, and connecting with other authors I’ve grown in my craft.

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings. If it’s anything like 2014, I’ll be one happy camper!

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eReader Editing

There are many different ways to edit. Some writers prefer to keep the document in their favorite word processing program (I’m usually in this camp), others prefer to print and break out a red pen. I’ve recently found a new editing method: eReader.

The eReader is a perfect option when editing is a struggle. Lately I’ve wanted to curl up with a book instead of working, and not have my laptop open. I’m a conservationist; so printing out my manuscript gives me a bit of the willies. That left me with my eReader. I knew I needed to get started on my next project and I didn’t want my personal funk to delay my writing. So I sent the document to my eReader and curled up under a few blankets.

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve edited on my eReader. I’ve used it as a great tool to get work done while on vacation. I often use it as a near final read through to catch what I’ve missed. But up until now I’ve never used it for an earlier edit.

Let me tell you, I’m loving this process. I’ve been in a personal funk, tired and just wanting to put my laptop away and read. So I’ve been reading. As I read I make notes. Lots of notes, I’m fearful I’m going to hit that magic limit and my eReader is going to crash, taking all my notes into the great ole land where missing socks end up. And with over 300 notes this is a very real fear!

This novel had recently gone through a heavy revision, so I’m getting a good opportunity to see how the revision flows. And there is no editing pressure. If I see an issue I flag it for my future self. Current self just enjoys and points out the issues. If an inspiration pops up I type it into my notes. If not? No pressure at all.

Future self… well, she’s going to hate me. Like seriously hate me. Because I’ve left these types of gems in my notes: show this, expand, and awkward, fix this. And when future self sits down to work on those little gems, well, there’s gonna be hell to pay.

With any luck, I will no longer be feeling funky when I attempt to tackle these notes. I’ll be refreshed and ready to make magic out of those cryptic memos. If not, well, there’s always the next round to get it right.

So if you are in an editing funk, change things up. A different approach has a tendency to breathe new life into a novel.

Two Holidays, One Child

This time of year I’m always thinking about the holidays, and the two holidays my little family celebrates. I wanted to revisit a post I made last year, about my son and his two holidays. Unlike last year we have our decorations separated between the two holidays. His choice. Ultimately he loves all the lights and I’m thrilled that I’ve found Chanukah specific lights over the years.

A favorite book to read to him is My Two Holidays. He loves it, because this little kid is just like him: his mommy celebrates Chanukah and his daddy celebrates Christmas. It really is a cute story.

My challenge for the year has been to acquire Chanukah music. My husband has several Christmas albums, and my son requested to listen to Chanukah music. At which point I realized I had none. Plenty of songs in my head, none on CD. I spent the next day searching Chanukah music options, hunting down songs that sound like the tunes I grew up with. In the end I found two: one with more traditional songs (yes, I found Light One Candle, as indicated by my last post as my favorite), and one with funny, rock type songs. I’ll be listening to the second on my way home! And I’m curious which one my son will like.

I hope everyone else is enjoying the holidays seasons, regardless of what you celebrate.

Click here for last year’s post on the same topic.

Outsiders View On The Holiday Season

(This lovely image was found on http://www.pointsoflight.org/blog/2012/12/24/happy-holidays-and-happy-new-year)

This time of year people talk about the holiday spirit and kindness to others. There’s a battle over whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” Those that focus on these words are missing the bigger picture.

Inclusion.

I grew up celebrating Chanukah. When the Christmas Season (and yes, I am calling it the Christmas Season) begins, I cringe. My favorite radio station switched to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, I promptly switched the channel. And have now ceased listening to the radio all together.

To be clear: I think Christmas is a beautiful holiday. I love walking into a home decorated for the season. I married a man who celebrates Christmas. As I type this he’s hanging lights in our living room, and when I finish I’m going back to hanging ornaments on our tree.

So why the problem? The problem boils down to the way the holidays are handled publicly. Look around, what do you see? Christmas. There is more than one winter holiday, but only one gets any face time. The holiday season is exclusive.

Take, for example, my household. The majority of our decorations are for Christmas. My husband has some great items and every year finds something else cool to add to his collection. I have found some diamonds in the rough, to be sure, but every year I go into the store and see the same damn five decorations. Half my decorations are not my style, but I put them up, make them look pretty, and then stick my tongue out at the adorable elf grinning at me. An elf I picked out, no less.

Where’s my elf sitting on a dreidel? Oh, yeah, cross-holiday.

So I turn off the radio, because the only Chanukah song I’ll hear is Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song when Chanukah starts. Don’t get me, wrong, I love his song, but we’re a religion that’s been around for over 5,000 years. We’ve got more than one song!

(My favorite is Light One Candle, look it up) (Okay, I’ll help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1cRXgDFiSs)

If I could change one thing about the holiday, I would scale back the holiday specific-ness. I don’t for one second believe, or feel, that Christmas will or should be removed from public places, because it is the main holiday. It’s also where the pocketbooks are, let’s be honest. But I would love it if I walked into a mall and felt a universal holiday spirit, with Christmas leading the way but not dominating. I’ve often thought that winter needs to be the main focus, but that’s discriminatory to folks living in warmer areas.

Ultimately, I don’t have the answer, and I bet you don’t either. For me, I need to continue to suck it up, and find the joy and beauty in Christmas, while bringing out my own celebration in my home. It’s not easy though, especially when I realize how little other people understand about my holiday.

Sneak Peek!

For a little post-holiday fun, I thought I’d share a sneak peek at my latest novel. Please keep in mind, this is ultimately an unedited version, destined to change many times before finished!

My titles are always changing, but this one is currently titled SILENCE. This is a NA (New Adult) Contemporary Romance.

The minute the teacher opened his mouth I knew it was going to be a long semester. The booming voice ratcheted an accent off the walls of the small classroom. An accent I identified as… not from around here. Mr. Ashen had a thick, bushy mustache that reminded me of a cowboy from some old movie my mom would watch. The mustache was as long as it was thick and completely covered his top lip. I swear, there was more hair on his lip than the rest of his head.

He said something to the class and gestured to our textbook. Around me students shifted in their seats, pages turned, pens moved.

I sat still. Praying to understand one fucking word that spilled out from his bottom lip. The only thing I caught was spittle splattering his notes. I was in the first row and always, always, always heard my teachers. Until this one.

But Big Fuck Off Mustache + My Ears = Not Happening.

Mr. Scary Mustache glared my way, tapped his textbook, and went right on speaking.

Maybe I wasn’t in an English speaking class? I checked my book = English. I checked my neighbor’s book = the same as mine. Head down, I memorized the layout of her page through my peripheral, all while appearing to look at my own. Then I shuffled through my pages until I found the corresponding layout.

It wasn’t cheating if one was merely tying to figure out what was going on.

I scanned through the words, hoping something, anything, would match what Mr. Scary Mustache was saying. Nothing did. On a sigh I focused on the two women standing by the black board. Both were dressed all in black and talked softly to one another. They looked much too old to be students, but considering this was an undergrad/grad class anything was possible. Perhaps they were assistants to Mr. Ashen? The two women glanced at the clock and moved to get their bags just as the door opened.

You know those corny movies where the love interest walks in and a halo of light flashes behind them? Yeah. That happened. Not because this guy was hot, which he was, but because the hall light was faulty and had been flickering ever since before I walked into the room. The light flared bright and picked up blond highlights in his chestnut hair, a good match for his rich brown eyes and dark olive skin tone, which was either a tan or damn good genetics.

Not that I was paying much attention. I was just bored.

Mr. Scary Mustache stopped talking as Hot New Guy walked over to the two females, shifted his backpack, and began moving his hands in a flurry of activity I assumed was ASL. One female moved her hands in response while the other addressed our teacher. “Sorry. My car broke down and I had to jump on the green line,” the female said.

Car? In the middle of Boston? Was this guy crazy?

Mr. Scary Mustache spit out something intense. The other female signed to Hot New Guy, who in turn nodded and took a seat in the back of the room.

For the next two hours (the joy of a once-a-week part grad class) I watched the two interpreters. Every half-hour or so they switched, with one standing next to Mr. Ashen and having no trouble understanding him.

Me? I understood nothing unless Hot New Deaf Guy said anything via his interpreters.

From the notes the students around me were taking, pages of it according to the girl on my left, I knew this class was a bust. I needed this to graduate. Maybe my advisor could work something out? Maybe—

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Dammit. To add insult to injury my hearing aid, the right one, traitorous bitch, was announcing she needed her battery changed. Right. This. Second. And if—

Beep. Beep. Beep.

I reached into my purse, rummaging around for the slim package of batteries. I had no choice. If I ignored the beeping she’d just—

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Silence.

Fuck. My left ear still worked, by now the world was half silent. And Mr. Scary Mustache was a mere mumble of incomprehension.