Category Archives: challenges

The Inaugural Haul Ass Draft

Not to get all woo-woo mystical, but sometimes the Universe just gives you what you need.  Last week I was lamenting the fact that I was trying new words for the first time in FOREVER & I was struggling.

Not even twenty-four hours later, some writer buds tweeted that they were going to do a week long Fast Draft.  The rules were just balls to the wall word count harvesting for a week.  Those of us who could would try to avoid any editing.  And there was the push I needed.

I joined up and the #HaulAssDraft hashtag was born (because I never pass up a chance to swear!) and you can search that on twitter to see how the competition is doing. So far I’ve done 6,588 words since Thursday night, which is more than I’ve done all year on my own.  I will definitely be doing this again.

I’m not sure what the winner gets, but I do know that the loser has to tweet that she’s a dirty, filthy Charlie Sheen lover. *shudder*

Down with ego-maniacal celebs and up with wordcount!




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Switching Gears & Stalling

I’ve been in super Edits Mode since November, and my brain is having trouble switching over.  This is not unlike the time my aunt tried to teach me to drive her stick shift and I spent twenty minutes trying to drive up the street.

The mechanics of what she wanted me to do was clear; however, my execution sucked.  Every time I tried to shift to the next gear, I stalled the car.  Move a foot, jerk to a stop.  Move two feet, jerk to a stop.  That for twenty minutes before I gave up.  For the record I didn’t even make it past the next neighbor’s house.

Don’t worry, the car analogy stops there.  But I’ve been doing the writer equivalent of that since I turned in Light.  Start a story, write a couple hundred word, jerk to a stop.  Start a new story, same.  Return to a WIP from before EditMania, same.

I’ve heard of the sophomore slump for tv shows and albums, but never in any writer circles.  I will admit it: I’m struggling.  It’s almost as if I feel that since I’ve been published, the rough drafts should be prettier and they are to an extent, but they are still not Light worthy.

It’s discouraging, but unlike the car incident, I’m determined to push through.  There is no fuming co-pilot to point out where I’m going wrong.  No incredulous crowd watching who can’t believe I’m doing so badly.  And most importantly, as much as I hate it, there is the safety belt (!) of edits.

Sasha (who’s written 2k new words)

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New Year, New Thought Process

I was raised that you bring in the New Year at peak of Youness.  This meant your house was spotless, you were groomed to Red Carpet Readiness, and all your business was handled.  You brought in the year as you intended for the rest of it to go.

This year I rung in the New Year lying on a couch in my jammies, mentally floaty due to pain medications.  In fact, I had to set my alarm to ensure I would be awake for the ball drop.  The Old me would have lamented that my 2011 was going to suck out loud and that I might as well not try.

But I thought about it.  I’ve been New Year Ready for most of my 31 years, and that perfection lasts 3 weeks tops.  I’ve had varying levels of success, but I’m sure it had nothing to do with my perfect outfit or my pristine closet — though I do long for both.

Due to my tooth, I had to research, I had to be proactive (I don’t believe I’ve ever scheduled so many appointments in one go before), I had to adapt knowing I couldn’t do things the way they needed to be done.  Again, I’ve had varying levels of success, but this time, I didn’t feel a crushing sense of failure. And that has made all the difference.


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Goals for 2011

I was looking over my annual goal list, and right here at the beginning of the year it looks daunting. Very daunting. A whole year’s worth of stuff to accomplish in one package is… scary. Still, I have a whole year to get it done and I’m already making progress.

First thing to check off is my five-year career plan. So far ism on track. This year calls for 3 books to be published. I have book 2 of my angel series ready to send as soon as I finish the sub packet, and the final book is in progress. That’s two. I have an R&R on my plate which I believe will be the third. As an add-on to this year’s career goals, I want to finish book 1 and begin querying on my rock star series, and get the second book’s first draft finished. I think all of this can be done by the end of summer, barring any major problems or delays.

After the career comes the personal goals. I hereby solemnly swear to clear the old books from my bookshelf, to get clothes we can’t wear out of the house, and to finally sit down and deal with all that paperwork I’ve been avoiding. I’ve also committed to reading 500 books in 2011. It sounds like a lot but I read very fast so I will probably up the ante later.

This is the closest I come to new year’s resolutions.

What’s on your plate for 2011?



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So What Did We Learn (the NaNo Edition)…

It’s December 1st and typically I’m riding the euphoria of NaNo like it’s some sort of trusty steed (this analogy only works if you’ve never heard the bruised *****  story).  This year, I’m happy for a victory, but much more subdued.  This might be the hardest NaNo on record for me, but I learned a few things:

1.  Obligations – As much as I tried to avoid outside events, some things just couldn’t be avoided.  How do you tell a friend “Sorry, can’t come to your wedding?  Word count is a little slim this week.  Think you could get married sometime NEXT month?”

2. NaNo is Not for the Weak – I knew this.  It seems manageable when you think of it in tiny 1,667 blocks, but it can crush you.  The fact that I’ve done it before does not guarantee I can do it again, and it would behoove me to remember that.

3.  Editing Something Else Actually Works! – Me + Editing = Spastic Sasha.  Me + Editing (something else) + Writing Something New = Less Spastic Sasha with nice results.  This was an experiment that paid off.  I’ll be trying it again next month to see if it was a fluke

4.  The Full MS at 50 eludes yet again me – I hit 50K, but it’s still not a completed story.   Next year the plan is to have a full detailed outline broken down by chapters.

5.  Finishing Early Can’t be Pants’ed – This is actually spin off from 4.  Maybe it can be done by others, but not by me.  I learned some cool things about my characters along the way (hey, look who has a surprise sibling!) but too many tangents slowed things waaaaay down.  I finished last night with 3 hrs to spare.

6.  0 to 60 still doesn’t work –  Yes, I did just use a car analogy.  In terms of writing, I’m like the 40 year old who hasn’t exercised since high school who decides he’s going to run a marathon by the end of the month.  I tend to get these wild ideas and just leap for them.  The blogging imploded.  Big Time.  Better luck next time gadget.

7. I still love NaNo – My brain hurts, I’d like to sleep for the next 37hrs straight, and I ate so much take out that I’m actually hungry for plain old lettuce.  But I still loved the experience and plan to do it again next year.  Guess I’m still a glutton for punishment.

Happy December!


NaNo Count: 50,085/50,000

Total Count: 83,401/310,000

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Competition is good for the soul

A few weeks ago I asked what was the definition of productivity? For me, if I’m writing a dirty draft, it’s usually 1,000-2,000 words a day. Partly that’s because when I’m writing the first draft, I don’t stop to edit anything except massive typos that I might not recognize the mangled word later. I don’t fix plots, I don’t correct formatting, I don’t rethink characters. It comes out how it comes out, and I touch up and layer in the second or third draft. The other part is my inherited fast typing. My mother was a 90 WAM kind of woman, and she passed on her dexterity to me. Luckily. I don’t even want to think what having to fingerpick the words to a 100,000 word novel would feel like…

If you do those calculations, that’s about 7,000 – 14,000 words a week. Now this doesn’t happen all the time, of course. Life gets in the way. But it’s always a good goal. Usually 10,000 words is my average.

Last week I realized I needed to make serious headway on my Marine story, currently titled Standard Issue Marriage. I told my goals group on Monday that I would be aiming to write 12,000 words. One of my CPs said “That sounds like a good goal, I’ll join you.” Somehow “we’ll both write 12,000 words” turned into “race ya!” And it was on.

She pulled ahead after 3 days and finished 12,000 words before me. Being the good sport that I am (read: sore loser) I immediately challenged her to see who wrote the most words before the week was over. We would announce our final tallies at our goals group the following Monday.

It was a tough battle. And knowing that Keri was always neck and neck with me kept me going when my wrists burned and my fingers wanted to fall off. I didn’t allow myself to fall into that blank “writers block” space. I kept going.

In the end, I edged out the victory…barely. With 25,368 words. I mean, in one week. That’s insane. So I now know there’s no real reason I can’t write 10,000 words in one week.

Competition can do amazing things for you.


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Categorically Part II, Wherein I Love Up on Stuff Like a Pervert on the Subway

So today is time for part two of my category tropes series.  Stuff that I love.  Whereas I had just one major pet peeve I have lots of little loves.  Tried and true stuff that category relies on.

I love, love, love best friend books.  You know the old best friends become lovers, “I never really looked at him/her before even after all these years” thing.  Man I love that.  The longer they’ve been friends, the better.  I’ll take a pair that met last year and became instant buddies, but I love people who sat in the kiddie pool in soggy diapers together.  That’s what I’m talking about.   It just adds another dimension to a relationship that is already deep and already involves a kind of love.  And I dig watching people just suddenly realize.   That’s why Emma is one of my favorite JA books.

I could read this story over and over and over with different characters, and to be honest I don’t much care what else is going on in the story.  If I see that this scenario is going to occur in a book by reading the back, that’s enough to sell it to me.

I love marriages of convenience.  I don’t know why, but there’s just something so inherently fun about people thrust together (I said thrust together heehee) in forced intimacy.  I especially like it when they aren’t really married but they have to pretend to be married.  This works out okay for me when it’s an engagement as well.  Love it.

I especially love it when it’s mixed with a romantic suspense.  Like two cops forced to pretend to be together to break the big case.  Bring it on, baby.   I have a few of these myself.  In fact, I have one WIP that combines both of these tropes into one story.  It’s best friends in a marriage of convenience.  It’s too birds with one sexy stone.

So what do you love to see in your categories?  Secret babies?  Forced marriages?  Sheiks that make women pee themselves just thinking about holding their hands?


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