the writing process

Where the hard part begins

Concrit is hard…but it’s the most important aspect of writing, and I don’t think I can over-stress this point.

I’ve heard so many people say, many times over, that writing your novel, just getting it all down, is the hardest part.


Respectfully, I disagree. Writing is the easy part. Writing comes naturally. Even self-editing, to a point, is easy because it’s proofreading for yourself. You know what you meant; you see what you expected to see. The absolute hardest, most challenging aspect of writing is, hands down, receiving and incorporating constructive criticism. The hard feedback. Your editor’s content edit.

My editor friend Amanda Jean has made a post regarding editing basics here, for the curious, or those new to the editing process. It’s from the editor’s perspective, and I’m going to touch briefly on the process from the author’s side of things.

In her post, Amanda mentions that the content edit “rattles the bones of the manuscript,” and when you get your novel back from that kind of shaking, what do you do?

Everyone familiar with the old Hemingway saying? “Write drunk, edit sober?” I’d say read your edits drunk, incorporate them sober.

The very first professional edit that I got back was probably one of the hardest blows I’ve ever received as a writer. I am not exaggerating one tiny bit when I say that I was utterly devastated. It was just so much. It was like a mountain of red. The more comments I read through, the more numb and horrified I got!

Looking back on it, I can admit that the manuscript needed a lot of work to bring it up to publishing standard. At first, that work–heck, even the prospect of that work–seemed insurmountable. I had issues, questions, and hell, even a few instances of “no, you’re wrong!!” How do you even begin to tackle that, especially when it involves a lot of work, even re-writes?

Back then, my reaction was basically to roll around feeling very sorry for myself before I started to piece things back together. I didn’t really have a method. It was more fumbling around in the dark, at that point.

Now, my practice is to read through the edits, and set them aside. Give things a chance to sink in a bit. Go through them a second time, and jot down questions for the editor, if you have them. Some edits are mandatory, like grammar or style; some are subjective, like re-phrasing, trimming clutter, removing scenes or adding them.

Sleep on your questions for the editor. You may get some insight if you let things mull around in your head for a bit. That often helps, too, if some re-writes are being asked for, but you’re not sure where to start.

When you’re ready to start, email any questions you still have for the editor, get your answers squared away, and prepare to dig in.

My preferred way of incorporating edits is to set aside large blocks of time and just go through them change by change. I use Track Changes, so I go through accepting changes (those damn commas!!) and resolving editor comments, tracking my own changes so that my editor can see what I’ve changed so that they can perform a final review.

Some of those subjective changes are where it gets dicey. What if your editor makes a change that you don’t want to incorporate? When it comes down to it, you’re the author. However, something to keep in mind is the fact that if something came up on the editor’s radar, it’s more than likely something that will pull your reader out of the story, or otherwise cause something to snag. Depending on your relationship with the editor, you can discuss it with them. You might also want to discuss it with a third party or two and get some outside opinions.

After working with concrit for over a year now, I’m starting to develop what I feel is a good sense for when to incorporate the crit, versus when to stick to my guns. On a recent manuscript that I received, my editor axed the epilogue. On my first read-through of the edits, my gut response to that was “NOOO! MY EPILOGUE!” (That’s the second time that’s happened to one of my stories, by the way.)

By the time I got through the linear edits and reached the epilogue, though, I was able to hit “accept” to axe the epilogue without regret. The story was definitely stronger without it, and the ending I’d crafted in the final chapter was a better place to leave it, overall.

There were two other places in the story where the editor recommended I trim a scene here, take out an element there. I made the case for keeping those things, and received a “fair enough, we can keep them” in response. Happily, I work really well with my editor, and I let them know at every step that if they thought further changes were needed, or if they felt strongly about cutting something I defended, I was willing to be flexible.

The editor usually has a wider view of things, more objective distance, than the author who’s so close to the manuscript and knows exactly what they meant to do, but not necessarily how that came across.

What this means is, frequently, the editor may be telling you things you don’t want to hear about your story. Even, to a point, things that you disagree with. And this is what makes concrit so hard. What do you have to incorporate, and what should you, even if your instincts first say “NOOO?!”

Alas, there are no easy answers for that question. This is one of those cases where everyone has to find their own path. Something really important to keep in mind, though, is the fact that it’s editor’s job to help make your manuscript better. They’re not in it to tear you down or make you feel bad about your writing – they’ve put a lot of work into editing. (Seriously, a lot of work – and editing is often a thankless task.) They’re putting in the work to help bring out the best version of your manuscript in order to get it published.

What gets it there, though, is the way you incorporate those edits and craft those re-writes. And in the best of all possible outcomes, it’s something that puts a smile on your face and has you writing your editor an effusive thank-you note for helping it get there.

And don’t forget the drink. Every time you despair, raise a glass and keep editing. And no matter what, keep writing!

Upcoming content … when I find the time!

Things I have meant to blog, not ranked in any particular order:

Book reviews:

I meant to roll out a book review feature every other week or so, but the sad fact of the matter is that I don’t get to read as many books as I’d like to. I have a veritable stack, physical and virtual – Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker, the new Melanie Rawn fantasy, and a pile of ebooks, including the copy of Queer Fear that I won during the Hop Against Homophobia.

Last month I finished a couple of books. I could review Bound, but it’s hardly a new release. Quite a popular book, though!

Consider the prospect of book reviews a work in progress. I managed a mega-review a couple of weeks ago; I may be able to roll out one a month and have to consider that good.

Conference/meet-up news:

I’m registered as an author for Rainbow Con 2014, so more on that later. What it means for the immediate future is I won’t be able to take my typical two-month writing vacation in November. I’ve got to reserve a week for February, because my parents rented a guest house in Florida and want me to join them, and I need another week for April to attend the conference. It’s going to be way too much fun, I can tell already, though I feel somewhat presumptuous attending as a full-fledged author.

Tips and tricks of the trade:

Coming soonest, hopefully, a brief tutorial on how to use the Word Track Changes feature, on MS Word 2010 and the earlier edition. (The two are very different, and now that I’m used to it, I prefer Word 2010’s version.)

It still surprises me that a lot of writers don’t know how to use this feature. It’s a basic staple of editorial work, so when the author doesn’t know how to use that feature to incorporate edits, it can make everyone’s job harder.

My plan is to give a quick rundown on how to turn it on and how to use it to accept/reject edits and add comments. The three basics! I really hope it’ll be something people may find useful. I planned on getting that posted this past Saturday, but the weekend provided some unexpected challenges.

No rest for the wicked:

I can’t remember the last time I talked about my current projects in any depth, but this summer is shaping up to be super busy.

Klaxon at the Core is the sequel to Signal to Noise, and I’m currently writing that one. It’s progressing really well, and I hope to be finished by the end of the month. The original beta editor for Signal to Noise volunteered to beta Klaxon before I submit it for publication, which is fantastic because not only is he a superfan, but yay continuity!

The More Plausible Evil is back to the outline-wrangling stage. An editor friend that I’ve had a writer/editor relationship with has reconnected with me, and we’re going to be working together to usher this from first rough draft to a much better, fully developed second draft! Right now the outline is giving me trouble (and there are only so many hours in the day) and I intended to have to outline finished last weekend. This weekend or bust! The More Plausible Evil is due in November.

Body Option is a mecha story I’m planning to write for a September anthology. So long as I get started by August, I think I’ll still be okay on this. There will be action, sci fi, and a man and his mech. It’s not intended to be a long story, and my outline is only two pages – that’s a good sign, for me. (Watch it end up being 40k.)

Somewhere in there I expect I’ll be incorporating edits and doing any necessary re-writes for Convergence and The Fall Guide.

And after that! You’d think I’d take a break, but I’ll be writing My Sexual Superhero, a story about a geek and the charismatic hook-up who saves him from his sexual doldrums. It’s for a submission call for December, and it’s early enough in the planning stages that making my poor geeky protagonist work two retail jobs will fit in just fine.

That’s it for updates – more to come! And if you’ve got content for the author blog to suggest, I’d love to hear it. 🙂 Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

Tour de Foodie Day Four

Did you check out Masterchef and the Spirit of Rivalry over at World of Diversity Fiction? Of this week’s blog tour entries, I think it’s one of my favorites.

If you haven’t told me what you think of the blog tour yet, I’d be mighty obliged if you took a moment to drop a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what worked, and what I could have improved.

So much has been happening this week, my senses are reeling as I do my best to stay caught up. I’ve got a new cover tease to bring you, signed two contracts, pre-registered for Rainbow Con, and pre-registered for the Gay Romance NW Meet-up in September. And that’s the tip of the iceberg. More to come on all that, and other things yet to come.

Writing for Klaxon at the Core is going really well right now. I’ve caught up with my deficit and I’ve written quite a lot this month, and though I’ll be writing into this summer, I’m really pleased with the outline and my pre-reader’s responses to the story. It’s been wonderful to explore more of Theo and Bastian’s lives.

Review for A Cut Above the Rest

Hooray, a review site left the most marvelous review for A Cut Above the Rest.


Click here to see what Andrea posting on Reviews by Jessewave has to say. Andrea rates the story at 4.75, and says it would have been perfect if it hadn’t ended with “to be continued.” 😉

Of course, The Competitive Edge comes out May 29th and will be up for pre-order soon, so there’s not much longer to wait!

If you haven’t picked up your copy yet, you can put A Cut Above the Rest in your cart and add the coupon BOM40 when you’re checking out.

In writing news, the pieces for Klaxon at the Core, sequel to Signal to Noise, are really coming together. I’m working on the outline tonight because I figured out the ending. I just need to connect the dots between the beginning, middle, and end.

Besides that, I got an idea lobbed at me for a sexy contemporary story with a Dr. Who fan and a sexy Safe Sex advocate. It already gave me a title and some other lovely details, and I have a feeling I’ll need its lighthearted fun when the horrors in Klaxon at the Core become too much. I’m not even sure I should mention the title yet, but I kind of adore it.

Final piece of good news: Convergence has been accepted for Less Than Three Press’s Proud to be a Vampire anthology! I sent in my (surprisingly specific) wish list for the cover art.

Here’s the summary:

Chris Bryant and his faithful childhood friend Ling Tam travel the world in search of the rarest and exquisite of curiosities, but such treasure-hunting comes at a cost. At times, they tangle with danger in order to seek the most well-guarded artifacts. In order to retrieve a lost treasure deep within a mountain where they tackle the elements and walk the balance between life and death, Chris must hire on a vampire. In this great risk, he has the chance to find an opportunity he never expected–or lose it all, if the predator takes them for his prey.

Exciting things afoot in the writing world! With more to come, I feel sure.

Caution: Writing works in progress

A few small updates…

I haven’t been writing so much this month; I finished three stories last month, finished a chapter of something else this month, and I suppose I’ve been taking a bit of a break.

Top priority: finishing edits on The Competitive Edge and getting them back to the editor for final review. And I need to get that done, soonest, because: *drumroll*

Substantial edits have come back for The More Plausible Evil. The in-document edits aren’t so bad, I think I could blaze through them in a day or two. But the overall story has two major issues, one that I could probably resolve, the other that I can’t because my beta thinks the story is too short for everything that’s happening. She thinks it would work better around my usual length, which is ~80-100k.

Tough one. So, I’ll incorporate the edits to bring it to a good second draft, submit it, and present it to the press to get their take.

The Fall Guide has a publication date of December 4th, 2013, and I have to think what to put on the cover. This is one of those where I’m contemplating saying “…dealer’s choice?” All I can think of is palm trees. That…yeah, probably better not.

What else? Oh yes, this month I need to finish plotting the sequel for Signal to Noise, because I’m going to start writing it this month and it’s next month’s focus point.

Final word: don’t forget to sign up for my giveaway! Tomorrow is the last day to win a free book. :3

Signal Boost: A History of Sexuality for Romance Writers

Writers, what kind of historical narrative do you know, what have you read or heard, regarding the history of sexuality?

E. E. Ottoman’s inquiring mind would like to know! Take a trip to her blog and lend your thoughts. She’s also looking for questions you may have, topics and points of interest that would be useful for m/m or other GLBTQA romance writers to know.

Check it out, it’s a fascinating topic! I’m going to try to leave my own comment when I can brain properly again.

For now I’m going to cuddle up in a fleece burrito with my kitty water bottle afloat an ocean of tea, because I think I’ve caught The Crud.

Manicure Monday

I’m starting a new feature: Manicure Monday!

Disclaimer, I’m not a proper nail polish blogger, I’m simply an enthusiastic hobbyist. Let me know if you like Manicure Mondays … if I don’t hear any “nays” I’ll probably keep doing them.

Nail polish took off for me as a hobby about two years ago when I started using it as a reward for completing workout challenges. It seems to have taken off as its own full-blown obsession, and now I do my nails twice a week, more if they chip and I have a lot of shinies to try.

For Valentine’s Day this year, I wanted to try a pretty half-moon manicure look that I’ve seen on Tumblr.


I started with a base of China Glaze Camisole.


To do this simple manicure, you use reinforcement labels (I’ve tried french manicure strips and they’re just not curved enough).


Stick one on half of the nail base, another on the other half of the nail base. Make sure to place them evenly.


Paint your nails with a contrasting color – or even the same color family if you like, so long as there’s a difference in texture, finish, or hue.


Peel off the stickers, carefully, and brush a top coat over the whole nail. Voila, half-moon hearts!

Tomorrow I’m going to repeat this again with another layer of Camisole closer to the tips.

And there you have my Manicure Monday!

Some past favorites:



My plan for Manicure Monday is to post that day’s manicure, or process photos if I did something special; as well as anything lovely and remarkable that I may have done recently.

The slippery slope into nail polish madness and the nail polish and makeup blogs that I’ve haunted since then became the inspiration, in part, for the story that I’m working on right now. The Fall Guide is beauty blogger meets smooth-talking producer, and sparks ignite. The catch: they’re both in Vegas for the weekend, and our lovely blogger has a boyfriend.

I’m enjoying writing the Fall Guide more than should be allowed, and hope to wrap it up this month, polish it, and send it for submission.

Hope everyone has a great week! My lady and I will be out on Wednesday the 13th instead of Valentine’s Day, so I’ll probably post something on the 14th if I have time.

Post script: the randomizer chose #27, the winner has been contacted, and has happily accepted her brand-new copy of Bestiary Volume One. Thanks for entering, everyone, and stay tuned for future giveaways to come.

2013: What’s in store

Did everyone have a great New Year’s eve? I sure did. We rang in the new year with a home smorgasbord, champagne and schanpps, and games, and had a quiet day after.

I don’t make formal resolutions, but I accomplished two of my goals last year: got back into the “good” jeans waiting on the hanger (and beyond – I need a size smaller) and established a consistent exercise routine I don’t hate. I also made my publishing debut, refinanced my house, and used less sick time than any of the four years previous. What a year!

Here’s to staying healthy and becoming even more fit.

What’s coming up next for the written word: I’m working on edits to Appetite with my editor, and we don’t have a publish date set, yet. I think we’ll have a better idea once we’ve completed the first round of edits.

Part of the Rocking Hard anthology, Courage Wolf Never Sings the Gorram Blues is scheduled to hit the Less Than Three serial fiction page in May. The LT3 serials are stories that run bi-monthly on their site, followed by an e-book and sometimes anthology publication, depending on the story. Courage Wolf Never Sings the Gorram Blues is, as you can see, part of the Rocking Hard anthology, vol. 1, and I’m super excited to share it.

If you’re not signed up for Less Than Three serials, I highly recommend it. It’s easy and quite cost-effective to sign up and you get a lot of stories for your money! They’ve got some great ones running right now, including Beast by Jamie Sullivan and Battle of Will by Sasha Miller.

Beyond that, I’m working on edits for my vampire novel, The More Plausible Evil, which I’ll be submitting once I’m satisfied with it. My pre-reader really enjoyed it, and I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do with that story. I’ve been reading the draft on my brand new Kindle Fire, which is great. It feels like I’m reading a novel, yet I can make little editorial notes with the highlight feature.

As for writing, there are two works in progress I want to finish this year – The Fall Guide, a story that I started last May, and Resonance Thrums, the young adult novel I began in November. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but between edits for this and that, I need to figure out how to make time for writing in my schedule! I’m not sure what I’ll write after those two, but I’ve been pining to get back to some fantasy.

Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for my Signal to Noise giveaway. Remember, you have to leave a comment on the post with your name and email as well as any follows that get you additional giveaway entries.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Nanowrimo: a pep talk

Nanowrimo Pep Talk – Six Steps to Success!

Okay, crazy person. You’ve signed up for Nanowrimo. It’s too late to bemoan what the heck you were thinking. Now, it’s time to forge ahead, blaze your trail of glory, and join with that hallowed, elite class of individuals who have forged the path before you, said “YES WE CAN,” and wept like teething babies as they worked their fingers to bleeding nubs in the service of a higher power. The merciless writing muse, that is. There’s probably a mixed metaphor in there, somewhere, but I’m plowing onward with the story, as you will learn you must do during the harrowing trip that is the twisting path that will lead you through Nanowrimo.

50,000 words in thirty days. By this point, the goal may seem insurmountable. The reality of a largely blank manuscript has set in, you may be a bit behind the curve, and worse yet, the word counts of your peers may be depressing you all to hell. How do they do it? How will you do it?

I’m here to tell you. There are six principles I’m going to touch on. Then it’s up to you to do the rest.

1. Budget “me” time

As a successful veteran of ten Nanowrimos, a prolific fanfic writer, and a newly-published author, I am frequently asked “how do you do it?” (I also have my sanity questioned on a regular basis, but that’s off topic. …OR IS IT.)

My answer is simple and unvarying. When I have a word count goal, such as during a ‘Wrimo, I sit down, put myself in an environment isolated from any potential distractions, and reserve a block of time that is dedicated to writing, and only writing.

Every day.

For at least an hour and a half.

During a normal work week, I bring my lil’ laptop to work and on my breaks and lunches, I sit down in the break room (bringing headphones as necessary to allay distractions or noise) and I sit down and write.

This is step one. Sit down and make the time. If you can turn the internet off, turn it off! If you can put up a “keep away” sign, put that sucker up! Music, no music, isolation, crowded coffee shop – sit down for that dedicated block of time in the environment where you know you can be most productive.

2. Do not stop to read

You don’t have time to re-read what you’ve written this month, tempting as it is. I speak from experience – down the path of re-reading lies madness. You will, inevitably, get caught up in either editing; or questioning yourself and the worth of every single word you’ve written thus far.


You’ll have time for reading later. What I recommend for Nanowrimo is this: when you sit down to do your writing, in that budgeted me-time in the aforementioned step, open your file and read only enough of the preceding portion to get you jump-started in your writing.

It’s okay to do other kinds of reading, of course. Technical papers. Homework. News. Other authors’ fictional works. Pep talks.

But under no circumstances should you read your own writing during this month. I’d go so far as to extend that ban to any of your own writing, whether it’s the story you’re working on, or not. There’s no sense in poking the bear – in this case, the bear being that pesky little internal editor whose sole function in life, right now, will hold you back.

3. Buddy up

If you’re reading this, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve already halfway accomplished this step.

Some people gain strength through competition, and comparing their performance to others’. Some people function better when they partner up to trade words of encouragement and to share the load.

No matter how social or hermetically-inclined you are, buddying up during the month of Nanowrimo will help you to achieve your goals.

But, simply signing up for Nanowrimo is only half the journey. Make sure to participate in some of the opportunities the site is offering! Checking in daily with your word count, no matter how big or small, will help you keep moving forward, which is what this month is all about. Dropping in on a forum thread or two can help you with word wars, write or die exercises, and simply the opportunity to network and brainstorm with other writers.

Need to know what kind of car wrecks could cause traumatic amnesia? Questions about governmental procedure on inheritance? Tap into your writing group. You may be surprised at the answers you’ll find.

Best yet, turn to the community when you’re feeling high or low. We’d love to share your successes with you. And we’re only too happy to lend an ear, or offer advice if you want it, when you’re feeling like the whole thing is overwhelming on top of life, which doesn’t seem to stop moving when you most want it to.

No one writes in a vacuum, and we’re here to help.

4. Set goals – and achieve them

So, 50,000 words, huh? Seems like a lot. It might seem impossible. Enormous. An unyielding, insurmountable task.

You’ve probably seen the break-downs. The daily target to get you there at the end of the day should be 1,667 words, each day. That’s probably a little more manageable, right? 1,667 words. Wow, I’ve already hit nearly 1,000 just with this pep talk, and it doesn’t seem like that much, right? (If I was really clever I’d figure a way to shoehorn it into one of the stories I’m working on, but I’m too much of a purist.)

Sitting down to do 1,667 words all at one go may still seem like a difficult hurdle. It’s often easier to accomplish tasks when you break them down into smaller chunks.

So, let’s sit down to do a word sprint in the morning. During that time you would normally sit and go through your newsfeeds over coffee, or read your LJ or Tumblr or whatever other activity, set it aside for writing instead. Do a word sprint. Whatever seems reasonable for that block of time, set your goal.

Now you can mark off 300 words for the morning! Or 500, or 130, or 777. Whatever you’ve written in that word sprint, that’s your start for the day.

Sit down later in the day with more dedicated time. Don’t read, and don’t try to think too hard about what you’re writing. Sit down, visualize your scene, and pour yourself into the act of putting one word after the other. Pretend that it’s write or die, and if you sit thinking too long about your next word, your doc file will start erasing what you’ve got down there already. Better yet, go to a site like the actual or to for incentive.

All right! More words! Add them to your total and keep going.

Put one word in front of the other until you reach your goal. Make use of that “me” time, sit down, and march those words toward the 1,667-word daily finish line.

5. Rely on your support network(s)

Make sure the people in your life know what you’re doing this month, or you will drive them crazy, and probably yourself as well.

Your support network can be literal, in person; or it can be figurative. Your support network is the vital lifeline who will cook for you, or pick up a few extra chores for you, or say “tay, why don’t we order a pizza so we can write instead of cooking?” Oh wait – that’s my house.

When your support network knows you’ve signed up for this project, they can help cheer you on. They can remind you to take that “me” time you need to budget every day – or stay out of your space and respect the fact you’re taking it. They can remind you to take breaks, lest you gnaw your own arm off because it’s been that long since your last meal.

Check in with friends or family both to keep you on course, and so they can help you take sanity breaks.

The road to 50,000 words is paved with loved ones making your path smoother. Well, optimally. You can also check in with your support network to let ’em know they’ve got to stay the hell out of your way.

A P.S. To your family/friend/roommate/spouse: feed the cat; see you in December.

6. Celebrate your success

Toot your own horn. OFTEN. This is like your battle cry. Did you get two hundred words done when you sat down for a writing sprint or a break? This is AWESOME! Cry to the masses, “WOOHOO!” Tweet about those 200 words like you are the first person to ever accomplish this!

Each milestone is important, and it matters.

It matters because it gets you pumped. There will be days, and times, during this month when you feel like a failure. (Or maybe not, but then you’re one of those lucky exceptions.) So it’s your job, and ours too, to celebrate each thing you achieve and encourage you to stay at the top of your game!

Did you exceed your word count goal for the day? Brag about it! Tell your friends. Tell your parents, kids, neighbors, boss, co-workers, spouse, significant other, that cute person down the hall – whoever will listen! When they stare at you blankly when you cry joyfully that you’ve written 1,700 words, and they ask “How much is that?” reply triumphantly, “It’s a lot!” (Optional addition: “And I am awesome!”)

This is not a month for focusing on what you haven’t done. This is 100% completely and totally the month for celebrating what you have done, are doing, and continue to do. And I encourage you to glory in the accomplishment of each and every day.

You ROCK Nanowrimo, don’t ever forget it! And we are so proud of you!