NaNoWriMo: T-Minus 10 days! Are you ready?

Whelp! It’s that time of year again! National Novel Writing Month is fast approaching. For years I’ve been on the edge… this year, I’m gonna jump. You coming or what?

“But Emily,” you wail, “I can’t! It’s too hard. There aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t know where to begin!”

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Ahem.

Now that we’ve moved past this, here’s some tips to get you going. I’m going to do this. You’re going to do this. We’re going to rock it’s socks off.

  1. How long is your novel? Are you writing closer to 50k or 100k? The answer is going to help you determine pacing and how far you need to be come December 1st.
  2. Why haven’t you already written this? You have an idea, somewhere about this novel, and yet you haven’t put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it were.) What’s stopped you? What’s gotten you stuck or kept you from starting? For me, I’ve had a great premise, but the details of the plot were stalled. I needed better stakes, more personal stakes for anyone to give a crap about my protagonist.
  3. Time to make an outline. I know. It sucks. I hate it. I’m a pantser, outlines take the joy out of writing for me. Here’s the thing: you’re looking at hitting a daily word count of 1700 words, give or take. Now, when I actually sit down and write, this is an easy goal for me. Yet, when you want to hit that goal every day and have to deal with… I don’t know, life, you have no time to get stalled. See the previous tip. Now is the time to work out the kinks, and outlining is going to help you find them before November.
  4. You do, in fact, have the time. In regards to the previous point, some kind of beginning-to-end game plan is going to be your friend. Before writing this post, I sat down and did my outline. I worked on the flaws. I answered questions about motivations and background that I need to know so that I can write something that makes sense for my readers. And do you know how long that took me? Maybe an hour and a half max. I don’t have every chapter planned out. I don’t have the time or the inclination to do so, (plus when my characters start talking they just stomp all over everything anyway. Jerks.)

    It's taken me longer to get this blog post written and ready to go.

    It’s taken me longer to get this blog post written than outline a 50,000 word novel. I’m a fiction girl, what can I say?

  5. Bring a buddy. Of course you’ll have me. But there are millions of other people going through the same struggle this November. Sign up at http://nanowrimo.org and add me as a buddy. We’re all in this together.

So there you go, let’s get started! Take this week to get a general idea of where you want to go with your November, and if you’re still stuck — FEAR NOT! Next week I’m doing a post about some of my favorite writing resources, just in time to fix stuff before November 1st. There will be both websites and books, but they’re all easily accessible and totally skim-throughable. Because honestly, I don’t want to read a book cover to cover about writing. I want to be writing.

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**** Addendum! You have to go by usernames, not actual names. So when you want to add me as a buddy, search for writerreese!

Adventures in Mommying

So all this just happened to me, and the events are so Keystone Cop-esque, I found myself needing to record them for posterity.

Fed the Penguin lunch. After the important stuff, she receives a handful of baby puffs and a sippy cup with some apple juice. She has yet to master the sippy cup, but its better than giving her a bottle, as it will inevitably end up spout down between her and the side of her highchair. At least the sippy cups will hold their contents upside down.

Or so they would have you believe…

skepticalAs she allows me the privilege of feeding myself, I look over and notice her shirt is soaked with juice. “Really?” I say and removed the cup from her now sticky clutches. “You couldn’t get it to drip out, so you spit it out?”

In response, I am berated in the language of her people; the words are unintelligible, but the meaning is clear. She has been wrongly accused.

innocent“Mm-hmm,” I reply and hold the sippy cup for her to have another drink. It then precedes to leak onto her already wet shirt.

You have never seen a baby so triumphant as the Penguin watching me attempt to figure out the blasted contraption. I’m pretty sure she smirked at me, but pretended it was just the face she makes while eating puffs.

Fast forward: the sippy cup has been replaced with a tested, non-leaking version. I have finished my lunch. The puffs are gone.

“Alright, let’s go get you cleaned up… you little monster.” I mutter the last part under my breath, knowing that the Penguin will surely make me pay for my insolence if she hears me. As it turns out, Penguin possesses the gift of prophecy.

“Aw man! Gross!” I yell, for when I pick her up from her seat, her diaper is soaked, leaking apple juice like a sieve. (These sippy cups clearly hold more than they claim, storing up extra juice in a separate dimension or some other witchery. The quart I beheld dripping from my baby’s bum was not the half a sippy cup she allegedly drank.) Also, the puffs, or rather the unfortunate ones that were discarded after failing to find the Valhalla of Penguin’s mouth, had met an unfortunate end. Where as normally, I would brush them off onto the floor to be scooped up by Zoe the Destroyer, aka our pug, they were now mush. Soaked in a gallon of juice, their tiny puff souls doomed to suffer in purgatory until I could clean out the highchair.

ewI spirit the Penguin away, attempting to both keep her from dripping on the floor and myself on the journey between the kitchen and her room upstairs. Time will tell in how successful I was.

Once upstairs, I reach for a diaper, intending to change her and wipe her down with a baby wipe, as she still has another meal between now and bed time. My hand finds nothing and I groan. We are out of diapers… except for the ones downstairs.

Realizing the trip is inevitable, I look around frantically for a place to put Penguin and her sopping bum. “Bathtub!” I exclaim triumphantly, knowing I am surely the smartest mommy ever.Post-23319-Lion-King-Timon-NOPE-gif-Imgur-VRc9

It turns out, her older sister, Monkey, did not fully drain the bathtub the night before. It still holds two inches of cold, used bathwater.

cursesSearching around and finding no alternative, I leave her on the floor on her tummy, praying that she will miraculous remain in the downward facing dog yoga position she arranged herself upon making contact with the carpet. Running downstairs, I snag a diaper from the diaper bag, because its closer than our main stash, then pop back up.

“You know what? Let’s just give you a bath,” I tell Penguin, who is thankfully still on her tummy. Clutching her around the waist, I tuck her under my arm and go to open the drain. Nothing happens. Eventually, I hear a small trickle.

disappointed yoda

With a heavy sigh, because of course it’s clogged, I place the Penguin on the bathmat and go to gather up what I’ll need to bather her downstairs. Until I realize I can’t carry it all and her in one trip.

“A bag!” I yell, “My kingdom for a bag!”

gimme-gimme-gifAfter some searching, I’m able to find a tote that will work in the Monkey’s room. Dumping the contents, I discover one of the Penguin’s pacifiers. Because we need more help in losing them.

Now packed up, I return triumphantly to the bathroom. Penguin is right where she started, entertained by the sight of her Mommy darting to and fro. I pick her up, shoulder the tote, and as I turn… the tub is empty.

seriously

At this point, I can only shake my head. I run Penguin a bath while putting back everything I’d packed. The moment that little apple juice treated hiney touches the water, Penguin begins to splash. Not dainty, tiny baby splashes. Great kerplunks whose only purpose is to see if you can get water to drip from the ceiling.

I remove my glasses with a sobering thought: “There’s no way you make it outta this dry, Reese.”

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Drying Penguin off after the entire ordeal, I realized there was only one thing to do.

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Because trying to get your baby’s hair to stand up like Einstein and uploading baby pictures of her to the internet is as close as you’re ever going to get to revenge.

Now, here I sit. Typing away while a Penguin in need of a nap berates me for doing something not related directly to her. Her hair is dry and falls into place perfectly, curling at the ends and negating my one action of defiance, and all I can think of now is, “I have to get out of this shirt. It smells like apple juice.”

If you enjoyed this glimpse into my Mommyhood, or want to read more about the triumphs and tribulations of being a mother, check out Mommy Diarist, available at Amazon, B&N, and your favorite retailer.

My First Signing

I just wanted to thank every one who came out to the North Texas Book Festival last Saturday. I’d had what has so far been the worst week of my life, so getting out, meeting other authors, and *gasp!* acting like just and adult and not a mommy… it was awesome.

Even though I did find a pacifier in my purse.

If you missed me, there will be a limited number of *signed* copies at the Dallas Book Festival, this Saturday, April 18th, from 12pm – 5pm at J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. After that, you’ll have to track me down to get your copy signed!

Second Death now available for Preorder!

Surprise! Look what just popped up as available for preorder! We’re still doing the cover reveal on February 2nd, but if you were to… Let’s say go to the Amazon or B&N website, and just happened to search for Second Death by Emily Reese, and then possibly ordered said book in ebook or paperback, well… A person might get a peek at the cover as well.

If you were to feel so inclined, the links are right here:

Second Death on Amazon
Second Death at B&N

Have a great day, keep warm and dry!

A New Year, A Bunch of Announcements

Greetings all! I hope you and yours enjoyed the holidays. Now that they are over, I have a few exciting announcements I would like to share.

Firstly: SECOND DEATH IS BEING PUBLISHED!!! AAAAAAHHHH! As in not by me but an actual publisher, Robyn Lane Books!!

I. Just. Can’t. Even.

Here’s some important dates in regards to the official release of Second Death:

Cover Reveal Day is February 2nd. I’ve seen it — it’s awesome.

Blog/Review Tours begin February 16th.

Release date is February 17th.

April 11th I will be at the North Texas Book Festival in Denton! Click the link for details and come see me!

Secondly: For those of you who’ve read SD and been waiting… there WILL BE A SEQUEL. No release date yet, but, yeah, it’s happening.

Thirdly: Anyone who subscribes to my blog will get access to primo content from the Second Death universe — stories and such you won’t get anywhere else!

And finally, (though personally not as exciting,) I will be blogging more. It’s my un-official resolution. I’ve already got a few post stored up, so hopefully I can keep up with it. I’ll be reviewing a couple of books, highlighting a few authors I’ve discovered and loved, and of course, talking about my girls. (I’m a stay at home mom, what do you expect?)

I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this post, as well as other Second Death news, on any social media you choose. The more the better!

So mark your calendars and be sure to subscribe so you can keep up with all the exciting things happening in the coming months!

Keep writing, keep reading!

How I Write

Even though my book is far from the NYT Bestsellers list, I still have people say to me, “I just don’t know how you did it, wrote a whole book.”

I mean, what do you say to that? “Well, I opened Word one day and started typing…”

And don’t even get me started on the fact this was during my first pregnancy and after Monkey was born. You’d think it was next to impossible.

It wasn’t, obviously. And now that I can look back at Second Death and say it’s not half bad, albeit five years later, I find myself wondering the same thing. I have a couple of ideas I’ve been excited about for some time, but how the hell did I get from there to a novel I’m not embarrassed to pitch?

(On a side note, it has been brought to my attention I can’t take compliments. I’m not asking for one. Saying I’m not embarrassed of SD is as close as I’ll ever get to saying I’m proud of it. But I digress.)

Looking back and not knowing how I got here is the thing (in my opinion,) that has taken me so long to get SD ready to go and figure out what’s going on in the sequel. It’s like going to sleep in Texas and waking up in London. Am I happy to be there? Hells yeah. But damned if I could tell you whether I flew, took a cruise, or was abducted by aliens. And how the hell am I going to get home?

So I’ve been reading some writing craft books. I never finish them. I subscribe to a number of writing blogs. I read them occasionally. All they tell me is that I probably flew, either commercially or in a spaceship to London, because if I’d sailed I’d still be somewhere in the Atlantic after one night.

My beloved editor tells me I’m a pantser, as in I write by the seat of my pants and see where the story goes. But even she says I have to outline some, just so I know where I’m going. My big issue with that is that by the time I fill in all the blanks, I don’t like it anymore, thus leaving me in the Bermuda Triangle of plot revision.

Trust me, it’s not near as cool as it sounds.

And then today happened.

After self imposed exile to my bedroom due to the overwhelming feels of pregnancy, (it’s been a rough week,) I started reading my latest writing craft book. Or I tried. At the bottom of my home screen, dear, sweet, Amazon suggested a few other craft books. And that’s where I found it. Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell.

It’s $2.99. It’s 72 pages. It was as if I walked into a psychiatrist’s  office for the first visit and the doctor outlined all my hangups, the cause of them, and then sent me on my way to fix them.

The guy knows me. Better than I know my writer-self.

As soon as I started reading it, I was like, “Holy crap! That’s exactly what I did! How did he know when even I didn’t know?”

In a nutshell, Bell tells you there’s this one moment, a “mirror moment,” where your character evaluates themselves and makes a decision in regards to what they find. Once you have that, it keeps you grounded enough to fill in all the other blanks, however you want. Pants or outline, or some hybrid outpants type thing.

And I didn’t even know I did that. But it’s there.

One of the first really solid, knockout, “yeah, this is it,” scenes I wrote in SD is the warehouse scene. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, it was brought on by a road rage incident.

No, I didn’t start it.

But I did go straight hyena mom on that stupid m-fer’s ass. (See, it still pisses me off.)

Alas, because for a rare occasion the Hubs was the one who kept his temper, I was not able to rip that dude’s eyes from his sockets and squish them to jelly between my little angry fingers.

So instead, after the shaking had worn off and I had a good cry, I wrote him into my book. Then I killed him three times, until I felt better.

If you’ve read SD, you’ll know what scene I mean. It’s the scene where my heroine decides she is fed up with being a helpless girl/victim. You mess with her people and she will end you.

And for her, finally, it’s not just talk.

This is her mirror moment.

It’s also the part that my mother didn’t like,  (“I just couldn’t believe my baby girl wrote that.”) And the part that made my husband a little afraid of me, (“Jesus. You’re kind of scary, you know that?”) Which probably explains why it’s my favorite scene too.

Because, no, I’m not always the sweet baby girl you knew, or wanted me to be. And yes, you’re damn right I’m a little bit scary. So don’t forget it. ; >

Now, while you’re shaking in your boots, might I suggest you read this little gold nugget of plot development? You and I both know you have an inner badass who’s been dying to get out. If you want to write (and actually finish) a book, maybe it’s time you let them.

Sneak Snippet from Render by Stephanie Fleshman

Please enjoy this fun, playful excerpt from Render by Stephanie Fleshman. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

Render: An Excerpt

I spin around and pull her to me, sighing as her arms lock around my neck. I lower my face to her hair, turning it into the curve of her neck to breathe her in.

Her body molds to mine, lithe and boneless, and my arms swallow her as I tighten my hold. It softens all the hard points, the tension I’d been holding onto, smoothing the muscles in my shoulders and back.

“You have great problem-solving skills, by the way,” I tell her softly in her ear.

Keeping her arms around me, she leans back against the wall to look at me, a baffled expression on her face, whether in relation to the compliment or the unexpected direction in conversation, I don’t know.

“Do I?” Her voice lifts in a flirtatious pitch.

“Mmm. It’s why I asked you out,” I tease. “You solved most of my problems just by agreeing.” Looking back, I realize just how true this is, though I doubt she’ll take me seriously.

Her lips curl in an obliging smile, and her eyes say it all, disbelieving in their beauty, corroborating what I already knew. But she’s still smiling, and I alone am responsible for that.

She curls her hand around the side of my neck, and I feel her thumb glide over the scar behind my earlobe, one I incurred at fourteen, when Lukas slammed my head into the bathroom mirror. Then I broke his collarbone. Both of us ended up in the emergency room that morning, an incident that resulted in our father leaving for work a half hour later. It’s always quieter when our father is home.

“How are you doing?” she asks, looking up to search my eyes.

I slide my hands from the small of her back to her waist, as my gaze sweeps from shoulder to shoulder. I can already feel the ground of normalcy beneath me, her presence holding the pieces of my life together, when it seems everything can come apart at any moment. “Good now that you’re here.”

This seems to make her both happy and sad. A look of gloom passes over her face even as a small
smile touches her lips. Then her eyes trail down the front of my body, taking in my suit jacket and pants. “You look like a lawyer,” she comments. “Straight from the courtroom.”

I can’t remember a time when she’s ever seen me in a suit. The closest is the tux I wore to her senior prom two months ago, which is not much different than what I wear now.

“It suits you.”

I raise my eyebrows in doubt. “What? Looking like a lawyer?”

“Not just a lawyer. You look…professional.” Then, with a full smile, she adds, “I like it.”

“Ah,” I say, mirroring her smile as I grasp her meaning. “I like that you’re my biggest fan.”

Her teeth shine bright against her tan skin. She drops her arms to her sides, and I lace my fingers through hers. She smells of honeysuckle, vanilla, and lavender all at once, with soft underlying notes I can’t name, a scent that swirls inside me, tantalizing every cell in my body.

I lean forward, canting my head slightly to fit my lips to hers. I have to fight to keep the rhythm slow, to savor every second. But when her mouth opens, urgency builds within me, and I press farther. Too soon, though, she’s pulling away, leaving my blood pumping in a hot stream and my heart pounding against my chest. I place a hand on the wall behind her and lean forward, closing the narrow space she’s put between us.

“I wasn’t finished,” I say.

I’m already tilting my head to kiss her again when she stops me with one word. “Wait.”

“Wait?” I mutter against her lips.

I feel her palms on my chest, easing me back. It’s hard to concentrate on anything but touching her, but I slowly resign myself to the conversation that is apparently inevitable, when my only instinct is to kiss her. I straighten and meet her eyes, which does nothing to tame my thoughts.

“I got your note,” she says.

When I started mowing Mrs. Whitney’s lawn, Elizabeth gave me a key, so I could let myself in when they weren’t home. In the beginning, I would leave Raya notes on her dresser, not knowing at the time that she’d actually keep them. When she showed me every note I’d ever written her, my first instinct was to laugh, because it seemed senseless. But then I saw how impressed she was and felt empowered that I could make her so happy. She probably has a shoebox full of notes by now.

I back her against the wall until we’re touching from hips to shoulders. Her eyes, as warm and
green as summer leaves, meet mine. She’s looking at me as if I did something amazing, but just in case, I ask, “Is that all? Or is there something else you want to add, because I’d really like to kiss you right now?”

Her eyes dip momentarily to my mouth. “I was going to thank you for the note, but you distracted me.”

“You don’t need words for that.”

Render Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
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About Render: A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving… Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan–until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

Stephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.