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December, 2011

Done.

Guess what, guys? It’s done. TIME BETWEEN US is officially done. As in, about to be printed and bound and get a gorgeous new cover, done. Done.

Did I mention the cover? Hours after I turned in my final copyedits my editor surprised me with a sneak peek. She swore me to secrecy, but I can say this: I’m so in love with it, I instantly made it my iPhone wallpaper. So if you see me on the street and you want a sneak peek of your own, just grab my phone and run.

I’m so excited about all the “nexts”: the cover (oooohhh), jacket copy (ahhhhh), and interior pages (gorgeous….). I’m just giddy thinking about how it’s all going to come together and morph into this real live book.

But now that it’s over, I think I’ll miss this stage a bit. I’ve loved so many things about the revision process, especially working with my editor who is just so brilliant and fun and supportive, and totally gets this book. But I’ve been writing this one thing for three years now, and I’m ready to move on to a new adventure.

I’m so excited about my next project. I can’t talk about it yet, but I spent much of November writing like a crazy person and I admit, I’m a bit obsessed with my second book. We totally missed each other while I was back in the editing cave. It kept knocking on the glass from inside my computer screen and waving at me. I’d wave back, blow it a kiss, and promise to return soon. And next week, after a long vacation with my family, we have some big dates planned. Just the two of us, some snacks, and a killer playlist.

So there you have it. TIME BETWEEN US is done. Unchangeable. Complete. And now I get to move on to all the fun “nexts” and be more public about the book and all the cool things that are happening. I can’t wait to share every step.

Guess what else? In two days it’ll finally be 2012, and The Apocalypsies are going to keep you reading non-stop! We’re so excited. Are you ready?

It’s going to be a great year. Happy 2012, everyone!

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Best. Present. Ever.

They’re here! They’re here! Copyedits!

Aren’t they beautiful and shiny? Behold the colors! The strikethroughs and comments! The sea of Times New Roman! And in a totally unexpected plot twist, they look fun and relatively painless. I might not even need to open all those bags of Peet’s Coffee waiting patiently on the counter and wrapped in bright yellow caution tape.

ce2 2 300x269 Best. Present. Ever.

And this, my friends, is it – the last editing round before we call this book DONE and move along to other fun stuff like covers (oooohhh), jacket copy (ahhhhh), and interior pages (pretty….). I’m just giddy thinking about how it’s all going to come together.

But here’s the best part for me. Today is my birthday. That means that for the fourth year in a row my birthday has marked a really killer, book-related milestone.

I started writing this story just after my birthday in 2008 because I decided that there was this one thing I just had to do before I turned 40. It might have been a mid-life crisis, except I have no intention of kicking the bucket at 80. And let’s just say, for argument’s sake, it was. At least I didn’t do something cliché like impulse-buy a sportscar.

The following year, I celebrated my 40th birthday by sending out my very first query letter, and I got an actual request for a partial. It was ultimately rejected, but knowing that a real live agent was interested in reading my story made that birthday pretty remarkable. That day, for the very first time, it felt like someday… maybe… possibly… But it was still just a really big dream.

I signed with my brand new agent just weeks before my birthday last year. The two of us spent time brainstorming some big ideas for revisions, and I remember spending my birthday writing madly, loving every second, and on an absolute high that I finally had a partner in the writing world. The dream to see my work in print had never felt more in reach until… today.

Today, I’m celebrating my birthday with these beautiful, magical copyedits, created by a brilliant team of people who are working hard to make this book real. I not only have a partner, I have a whole bunch of people on my side, and it’s no longer my book, it’s our book. That’s the most amazing, mind-blowing present I could ever imagine.

But late in the day, something trumped even that for “best present ever”.

For my birthday, one of my lifelong friends sent me a beautiful poem he wrote for his little girl. Like me, a busy career and growing family made him put his writing on the back-burner for far too many years. But his note told me that watching my journey this year inspired him to start writing again.

Best. Present. Ever.

Birthday-to-birthday, I’ve spent three years pursuing this goal, and most days I still can’t believe it’s happening. But all I can says is this: If there’s that one thing you’ve been wanting to do and waiting for the right time to do it, stop wanting and waiting and just start. You don’t need a big birthday to make you feel like your dream-clock is ticking and spur you into action. Just write. Or paint. Or sing. Or climb mountains. Or jump out of airplanes. Or open a restaurant. Or go visit someone you’ve been missing. Whatever it is, just do one little thing to get started. And then tomorrow, do another little thing. And just keep it going.

As for me, I’m going to stop petting my copyedits for a little while so my family can take me out to dinner. And later, I’m going to come home, tuck my kids in, and read them a beautiful poem written by my brave and talented friend.

 

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My NaNoWriMo Failure/Win

Participant2 180 180 white My NaNoWriMo Failure/Win

Happy December!

November is now officially over, as is NaNoWriMo, the annual competition that challenges you to write a whole book—at least 50,000 words—in thirty days. It’s a LOT of work to write that much, that fast. I’m truly in awe of the people who succeed.

For the last two years, I’ve considered participating. This year, I decided to do it.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge. I’ve spent the last five months editing TIME BETWEEN US, which means I’ve spent nearly every day since June reading my story, reconsidering the words I’ve already written, tightening up concepts, making characters more consistent, and applying hundreds of pages of insightful feedback from my amazing editor. It also means I’ve spent a lot of time away from my kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never loved writing more, and I savored every single minute I’ve spent locked up in the editing cave with my characters (they are so much fun… so witty! And unlike my kids, when I ask them to do something, they don’t talk back!). But I’ll be honest, on November 1, what my laptop and I needed most was a little time apart. A break, if you will. Permission to see other people.

But I signed up for NaNoWriMo anyway, because I’m so insanely excited about my second project, but I’m also a little bit terrified. The outline and synopsis are done, and even though I’ve been working on it off-and-on for months, I needed a push to just… write. You know, that super creative, fun thing we do when we don’t second-guess every word we just… go. And that, as they say on their website, is what NaNoWriMo is all about:

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

That sounded like a lot of fun, to “build without tearing down”. To let it be okay to write “a lot of crap”. To not edit.

I started off strong, whipping out pages, tracking my words, and sharing back-pats with my fellow NaNo-ing Apocalypsies. I pulled out my laptop at the end of the day when I really wanted to watch TV instead, just to get that word count higher. I was going and going without editing anything I’d written.

But I couldn’t keep it up.

I was fine with the pace. I wrote a lot and I saw my kids. But I couldn’t turn off the editor.

Really, I tried. But after I had twenty sparkly new pages completed, I just had to read them. And once I read them and discovered how much they sucked, I just had to make them better. I found myself spending my precious hours editing and building on what I’d already written, rather than picking up right where I left off. But that’s always been my process—it’s how I write.

Here’s the other thing: I love research. My stories involve music and maps and foreign towns, and for me, part of the joy of writing each scene is absorbing myself in it. I wander around the Internet looking at photos of beautiful destinations. I hang out in Google Maps. I build playlists on iTunes. That sounds a lot like procrastinating, and I decided maybe it was, so I tried it the other way. I turned off my WiFi and marked up my manuscript instead, noting spots I needed to return to, and then moved along. And I finished the scene, but frankly, I missed the journey.

By the middle of November, I was not only writing, I was also editing and researching—doing it my way and breaking all the rules. My manuscript was growing, but so was my “cuts” document. I was both building and tearing down.

But I was having a blast.

I ended the challenge with a grand total of 43,685 words. Within that total, I’ve included all my major cuts—all 6,366 words. That leaves me with a manuscript that falls short of the 50k goal, but is 37,319 words richer than it was when I started. And you know what’s cool? I like a lot of those 37,319 words.

Okay, so I technically failed the competition, but I accomplished so much this month because of NaNoWriMo. Watching other writers push themselves inspired me to write, and I wrote a lot. I edited a lot. And I feel great about where I am.

And that’s really what NaNoWriMo is all about—inspiring people to write. Whether you ended the month with 2,000 words or 20,000 words or 50,000 words, all that matters is that you created something new. And hopefully had fun doing it.

I’d love to hear about your NaNoWriMo experiences! Who hit their 50k goal? Who didn’t and feels great about it anyway?

 

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