Friday, September 28, 2012

Inspiration from the National Book Festival

Love reading and books? Every year the Library of Congress puts on a National Book Festival in Washington, DC, in September. Once again, this year I went to soak in the wisdom of the wonderful writers who come to read their latest works and share their expertise. The line-up of speakers this year was amazing, as always.

I began my odyssey at the YA tent by listening to John Green. With every seat filled and people lined up nine deep outside the tent, it was a bit hard to hear the presentation, but one thing he said at the end of the presentation stuck with me. He was talking about the shape of novels and likened one of his to a spiral. I immediately thought of starting from the outside and tunneling deep inside the character. He also mentioned Will Grayson, Will Grayson, written with David Levanthian (another presenter at the festival). Green likened that to an X, where the characters start out apart, come together, and then go their separate ways.

That got me to thinking about other shapes for books. I think one of my WIPs would be a Y, with the characters starting out as totally different people, but they come together and must work together/cling together for survival until the end. And when they triumph, it is as a duo. And perhaps my romance, like most romance novels, are shaped like hearts.
The characters come together at the top during their initial meeting, but head off in opposite ways to form the rounded part of the heart. During that phase they move as far apart as possible, then gradually start heading in the same direction and begin getting closer. Until finally, they join at the end.

So what shape is your WIP or novel?

I gleaned a lot of valuable information from each author presentation. But rather than share bits and pieces, I'm going to share links where you can see and hear all the wonderful presentations for yourselves. All of the talks were recorded, so you can experience them for yourself. The 2012 presentations will go up on the website soon in both video and podcast formats. Short sample podcasts are available now. Just a few of the stellar presenters were Jeff Kinney, Christopher Paolini, Lois Lowry, Walter Dean Myers, Avi, Maggie Stiefvater, R. L. Stine, and Melissa Marr. A full list is on the website. To see some candid shots of some of your favorite authors at the festival, see the Publisher's Weekly article.

And if you can't wait for this post, you can hear and see author presentations from previous years. The webcasts and podcasts from 2011 include Sherman Alexie, Cassandra Clare, Susan Cooper, Sarah Dessen, Jack Gantos, William Joyce, Gordon Korman, Uma Krishnaswami, and Patricia McKissack. Not to mention fabulous adult authors such as David McCullough, Russell Banks, Dave Eggers, Terry McMillan, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Jennifer Egan, Garrison Keillor, Amy Chua, Sara Paretsky, and Toni Morrison.

Not only do the presentations give insight into the writing process, many of them were inspiring accounts of how the authors overcame the odds to follow their hearts and their dreams. Their stories made it obvious that excuses such as "I'm too busy," or "It's too much work" have no place in writer's life. If Walter Dean Myers can grow up to be a poet and literary writer when the only literature in his early childhood were romance magazines and comic books... and Patricia Polacco could struggle with dyslexia to be a reader and a writer... anyone can do the same.

So what's holding you back? Many of these writers are proof that the tougher your handicaps, the larger your obstacles, the greater your determination must be. Those very roadblocks may eventually lead to the greatest success.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'll Drink To That

Jan van Bijlert (PB)
People who are non-writers think the way to make small talk with writers is to ask them some form of the question, “What are you working on?”  Or “How’s the writing going?”

Usually when I’m asked this, I have a drink in my hand.  So I reply, “Look at the size and alcohol strength of what I’m drinking, and there’s your answer.”

If it’s red wine, things are probably going pretty well.  If it’s scotch, for God’s sake, save yourself and get as far away from me as possible.  If it’s gin, leave the country.

Right now, I’m drinking red wine.  But tomorrow, I’ll be having scotch.  That’s because I’m about to send out the first fifty pages and the synopsis of my new WIP to my agent.  I’ll be drinking scotch until she gets back to me. 

If she likes it, I’ll be back to red wine.  If she doesn’t, I’ll be hitting the gin bottle.

Now before you pack me off to the Zelda Fitzgerald Home for Wayward Writers, I never imbibe when I’m actually working.  Although someone - who shall remain nameless - did once tell me that I should take mushrooms before sitting down to write.

I did not take that suggestion.

But I love a good drink after a long day’s work on my WIP.  And even more than that, I love a good drink with a bunch of other writers who know exactly what’s going on when I order a scotch.  When another writer asks how your WIP is coming along, you can roll your eyes and say, “don’t ask” and they’ll clink your glass and shut up.

So wish me Malbec and Cabernet in my future.  Otherwise, send me a case of Macallan.

Care to share your favorite after-writing drink?  I'd love to hear it!

Nicole Maggi writes YA - paranormal, historical, and beyond.  Her debut novel WINTER FALLS will be released in 2014 from Medallion Press.  She's represented by the fabulous Irene Goodman of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, their daughter Emilia (after the Shakespeare character), and two cats Sawyer & Hurley (after the LOST characters).  Yeah, she's a geek.  Check out her website & follow her on Twitter!

Monday, September 24, 2012

To Contest Or Not To Contest

That could be taken more than one way.  In one context, this could be a blog about contesting the revision requests by editors and critique partners, but alas - that's a fact of life. Nope - this blog is about when to let a contest pass you by. 

photo by PixelsAway

I'm on several listservs which serve both experienced and aspiring authors. Inevitably someone posts a link about a contest and the excitement rises, especially if there aren't many entries in the target category.  My first impulse is to think, "Hmmm - might be a good chance to take a manuscript sample out for a spin."  But usually I don't. Sometimes it's because of procrastination, but mostly I'm skeptical and scrutinize the cost versus benefits.  Here's what I've learned over time:

1. Who is running the contest?  
These days anyone can start a contest. And I mean ANYBODY.  Some of the most vulnerable people in the world are authors waiting to be discovered and craving positive feedback. Whole industries have propped up to take advantage of the revenue it generates whether the author has talent or not. Remember the people who used run the annual National Poetry Contest?  Unbeknownst to the authors who entered - everyone was a winner! The contest was just a way to get those same authors to buy an overpriced compilation that included their poem. And market the book to their families.  It was a vanity press disguised as a contest.  So ask yourself: "What's the track record of the people who are offering a contest?"

Another question: How fair is the competition?  Case in point:  I used attend an annual conference which had multiple categories you could enter. The work had to be published, so that seemed to insure the submissions had gone through some sort of vetting process.  But I started to notice something odd.  The winners from year to year were always the same people, some of whom sat on the Board of Directors.  In one year, the same author took first, second and third place in a single category.  A new President took over a few years later and changed the rules. Only one submission per category.  She also found editors from national publications, broadcast news staff, etc. to judge the contest. And voila - the winners that year were more diverse and many were nonmembers.  Long-time members complained that the contest organizer had ruined the contest by "bringing in those big name people." Some said they only joined the organization to enter the contest. And so the contest in subsequent years went back to the status quo.  I don't enter those type anymore - even when the fees are low.  What's the point? And other than vanity purposes, who would care if I won?

I once entered a contest, run by a writing group in another state, which involved online voting. So did a friend, a commercially published author in her own right, and a librarian who'd served on committees at ALA. We won't repeat that mistake.  We corralled a lot of friends, family and fans to vote, watched the rankings go up, and then - at the end - another person won.  Normally that doesn't bother me. But the results that were posted when I checked each day didn't jive with the result in the end.  Which  suggested the contest - which involved a fee to enter - may not have played by its own rules.

Which is not to say contests with online voting can't work. I did enter another - run by Preditors and Editors, which had brakes in place to prevent cheating and posted current rankings frequently. Note, they also didn't charge a fee.

Even National Organizations aren't immune to concerns about fairness. I once cautioned an well-known organization that a recently developed contest required the winner to fly to New York and attend their conference to pick up the award.  I pointed out the cost of a NY hotel, plus airfare and conference fees was more than the award.  The rules were changed to include some expenses only when the information went public.  Likewise, the same organization had to modify its rules when it became apparent that one member was winning most, if not all, of their contests involving a cash prize over the course of two years.  I asked if that meant the thousands of other authors on their membership rolls were untalented, or if the judges were just predisposed to like a particular (and highly recognizable) style in the "blind" judgings.

Conclusion: Be picky about what contests you enter, otherwise it's a waste of your time.  If you see large numbers of local members winning, or the same people winning year after year, give it a pass.

2. What are the fees?
Ever notice the pleas that go out when there aren't enough entries in a contest?  I took a look at one posted recently.  Seemed fun enough - you could send an excerpt and it didn't have to be from the beginning of the book.  Just pick your best scene.  Great! I thought.  But the cost was $25 per entry. That gave me pause. It's not too dissimilar to having to pay to enter Writers Digest contests (which I haven't entered, btw).  But it's still steep for an excerpt, let alone a regional contest from a writing chapter.  Agents who are members of the AAR aren't allowed to be paid for critiques and manuscript reviews.  Editors don't normally take money for them unless it's in the form of a fixed honorarium.  As most contests are now electronic, one can bet there isn't much, if any postage involved.  So is the contest for YOUR benefit or a fundraiser for the group conducting it?

To be fair - the point of charging some sort of fee is to prevent people from entering the entire contents of their desk drawers hoping something will stick.  My editor once saw her inbox crash from such an onslaught.  Fees force the authors to be choosy about what to send and helps weed out some of the junk (or not).  It also helps fund modest honorariums for the judges.

Conclusion: If the fees are large, if the contests generate a lot more revenue than it pays out, be wary.  And if membership is required to enter, be extra wary.

photo by pzaxe

3. What's the payoff? 
You get seen by an editor, or prize money, or both.  In one contest the prize was $50 but the cost to enter was $25.  And there was a note that many people had manuscript requests.  But no tally on how many of those manuscripts were acquired or sold successfully.  Nor was there a membership list on the site so I could see if the majority of winners were members, or non members.  Either way - if 50 people enter a category that generates $1,250 for that category, with the payout being only $50.  If only 10 people enter, it's still a $200 profit after the prize money is deducted.

Conclusion: Don't enter a contest hoping for a cash prize. Vegas odds are better.

Which brings me to the most important part of this whole schmiel schmazel - getting seen by an editor or agent:

4. Who's reading your unpublished work and why you should care?
I stumbled upon a contest with multiple categories. Each would be judged by an editor and an agent.  Yeah! Exposure!  But upon reading the FAQ section, noticed that a panel of unnamed but "experienced" authors would read the entries first and pick finalists for each category.  Having seen some of the poorly prepared manuscripts that come across my desk and into my inbox, I'd say that was reasonable. But people who aren't reading the FAQs pay because they assume that their manuscript will be seen by the main judges, not anonymous authors.  So ask yourself: what's the qualification of the first readers to vett which manuscript goes to an editor and doesn't?  Are they published successfully in the same genre? Or will your YA paranormal be vetted by someone who writes cookbooks and nonfiction?  Can they judge on technical merit, or will they be influenced by their own personal taste and preferences?

But let's suppose the process is fair, the vetters are skilled, and the best manuscripts advance to the finals.  You're still not out of the woods.  I did some research and realized that the publisher in the YA category is open to acquiring new authors, has a reasonable list, but no breakout novels, no awards, and no strong sales. Still - they could be called a scrappy upstart that gives new authors a break.  It's the agent's website that gave me more pause.  It listed not a single YA author but a lot of adult nonfiction and technical books with little mass market reach.  Nothing to indicate the agent in question knew anything, let alone sold anything that was YA.  Huh?  Further research lead me to a discussion among authors who declined to sign with the agency and who cautioned that the contracts were written to favor the agency over the author and demanded a commission on all works even if you left the agency and took your "unsold" manuscript to another agent who sold the work in the future.  Okay - it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that's a dealbreaker.  An agent with little or no experience in your genre, and who wants to be paid even if you sell the work yourself years later, is one to be avoided.

Which got me to thinking about an interesting issue last year.  A publisher held a contest in which the winner would be given an opportunity to have their work read and represented by a literary agency.  No fee to enter was charged. A notice was posted weeks later that the contest was low on submissions.  One week after that,  the publisher clarified that being a winner did not require the author to sign with the literary agency it had partnered with.  The authors appeared to know something the publisher didn't - that particular agency had a bad reputation with both publishers and authors. Only newbies who weren't experienced enough to do the research might have been tempted. So the publisher lost out on the opportunity to read potentially viable manuscripts by choosing the wrong judge.

Conclusion:  Be picky, and if the judges aren't people you'd submit to in other circumstances, don't bother entering.  And if the contest is desperate to get entries - that might be a clue. Dig deeper. Is it lack of marketing, or it could be something else?  Don't think of low entries as an opportunity with high odds of winning or being "read".  Think of it as an opportunity with high odds you're going to get courted by people you don't really want to get a contract from.

Wrapping Up.
Okay - so contest aren't ALL bad. Contests can be a good way for publishers to see manuscripts from published and unpublished individuals who aren't agented.  They can often take the place of traveling to a contest and hoping you can get a critique with a target editor or agent.  Contests that provide copies of the judging sheets are sometimes a good way to get feedback or take your WIP out for a jog.

But if you don't choose wisely they are also a good way to:

1. make your writing life more complicated.
2. generate feedback from people not qualified to give it
3. deplete or reduce your limited writing funds
4. take your work and your momentum off track.

Photo by Stuart Dune

Love your manuscript the way you'd love your own child.  Don't just give it to just anybody - even if they're talking a good game and promising riches and publishing exposure beyond belief. There are good and worthwhile contests out there - with low or no fees, and that are judged by nationally coveted editors and agents.  So be picky. Choose contests the same way you'd choose a publisher -  by doing the research up front and with your long term career goals in mind.

Isn't your hard work worth it?

Photo by logoff
Good luck!......H.C.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tip of the Day: Take A Break

I just got back from a two-week vacation in upstate New York farm country. The timing was perfect. I’d finally finished the first draft of my fourth manuscript. I believe in the basic writing tenant that before you start the second draft you need to take a break from your story. For me that means a complete break. Going some place far different from where I live.
Visiting farm country means spotty if any cell reception and no wireless.  At first I was frustrated but after two days I was grateful for a break from being tied to my phone and my city pace of life. Instead of staring at the computer screen for hours, I looked at the amazing scenery.

Taking a break has done wonders for my attitude.  I gobbled down homemade pie everyday and didn’t worry that my jeans kept getting tighter. When I thought of something I needed to address in my manuscript, I just scribbled a little note and went back to enjoying my time in the country. The slow pace forced me to relax. I stayed in my family’s hometown of two hundred and fifty people. Main Street has one stoplight that turns to caution after 9:00PM. That's when the whole town shuts down and everyone heads to bed. There is nothing like the complete bliss of country life at night. No sirens, cars blaring music, helicopters overheadjust shear silence. 

Back from my break I’m happy to face the computer once more. Before I left I dreaded working on my second draft. Now I see the wonderful opportunity I have to make my story shine.  Just like the light as it hits the water on Lake Otsego, New York.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall is here!

Blog of 9-19-12
Greetings All!
I hope you are having a good month. I can’t believe September is almost over! Fall is here in SE Michigan, well, at least the weather is cooler. A welcome change.

I am participating in #GUTGAA still, Gearing Up to Get An Agent. My pitch got into the 200 entries they got and if it passes the judges idea of a good query and pitch it’ll go on to the agent’s round up. I won’t know until Friday.
I also participated in a Twitter contest, #pitmad or #pitchmadness and I got a request from an agent for a partial!

My space opera keeps getting turned down so I think I’m going to shelve it for now. It’s primarily a paranormal romance in space with werewolves, selchies and evil wizards but unless I call it something different, I’m not getting any requests for it at all. It’s still out at a few places so I’ll wait until I hear back, maybe it’s the query letter itself.

I started a science fiction story but I haven’t been able to work on it because of my day job and I just picked up an English Composition class from a local college so I’ve been working on lesson plans, syllabus etc.
I am in the process of making a character/plot database for my Lore of Fei series. I finished book two and it’ll be out in Feb. 2013 but I need to write book three and I have to have a character/plot database in order to wrap up all the plot and the sub-plots for book three.

I finished the YA dystopian and have it out to one agent who is looking at it. Another agent said that dystopian is a hard sell right now so I think I’ll change up the query letter a bit if the agent who has it passes on it.

I offered three of my Kindle books for free and got people downloading them. That was fun. I almost wish all my books were on Kindle Select so I could do it again. MOON PRINCESS got to number one in free downloaded books for one day and it was so thrilling! I can’t imagine how thrilled I’d be if I got on the NYT Bestseller List! Okay, I lied. I can imagine it. And have, many times.

I am gearing up for NaNoWriMo in November. That’s when I’m writing my third Lore of Fei book (called VEIL OF FEI) hence the preparation for it.

I did a storyboard for the YA dystopian and it turned out to be 78 slides (I do storyboarding in PowerPoint) long. Whew. Do you storyboard your writing? I find it helps to figure out sticky plot points, which character is doing what in which scene, if the scene is relevant to the rest of the chapter and so on.

That’s all my writing news for now. I’ll keep you posted about agents/pitches etc.

One of my writing buddies, Aubrie Dionne will be doing a guest post this coming Saturday the 22nd on my blog located at: (click on blog). She’ll be chatting about her new book, HAVEN 6, the last in the New Dawn series published by Entangled Publishing.  Check it out!

Take Care, Until Next Time,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cover reveal!

I almost forgot it was my day to blog here! So this is just going to be a quick post, because I'm supposed to be on my way to work right now...

Over the weekend, I got the final cover for my upcoming urban fantasy novel Vengeance Is Sweet. The book will be available very soon from MuseItUp Publishing, and is available already for pre-order at this link. Although Vengeance Is Sweet isn't a YA novel, it is appropriate for teens to read. (There's some swearing and some sexual innuendo. Consider yourself cautioned. LOL)

Here's the cover and blurb:
Omara is a demon of vengeance. Working for Hell, she deals with humans who have killed or harmed children and other innocents. When she bends the rules once too often, Omara is placed on probation, but is brought back to work after a battle between two factions, one of which wants to destroy the largest human city to prove a point, wipes out nearly half the vengeance department.
Omara’s first assignment after probation is to “venge” Alejandro Ruiz, a man who allegedly drove his ex-wife to suicide. But when Omara visits the human world to observe Alex, she realizes he is innocent. With the help of her friend Ghast, an angel who didn’t so much fall as choose to relocate, Omara must prove Alex’s innocence to save him and his six-year-old daughter Keeley–a child who holds the key to the survival of humanity.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What's In Your Tool Box?

My writing tool box consists of:

1. Chocolate

2. Coffee

3. Reference Books. At the top of my reference list, of course, is a good dictionary and thesaurus.  I just found a book to add to my shelf that I'm quite excited about. The Emotion Thesaurus. Have you heard of it?  I ran across it on one of my writers' loops. Adding emotion and new ways to approach it are a constant challenge to any author. So I'm really looking forward to this book and hope it gives me lots of new ideas to express myself. I'll let you know what I think of it after it arrives.

So what about you? What's in your tool box?

Friday, September 14, 2012

How to Write a Novel in 21 Days

OK, so I admit it. I cribbed this title from Viki King’s book, How to Write a Movie in 21 Days.

Book or movie, what’s the difference? Not a lot.

Plenty of people write novels in a month, thanks to NaNo, but I’m not thinking of just spewing out words that will need major revision. I’m thinking of producing a polished finished product. King’s book has some gems of ideas for this, including sitting down and playing the story in your head as if it were a movie.

Perhaps I chose this theme because I recently signed a contract for a book that sold on a partial, and they’ve given me 60 days to complete the novel. Gulp! So in panic mode, I grasp at any straw (Although I’ve never figured out how a straw can save you from drowning. Seems to me you’d do better to grasp at any life preserver you can find.) & King’s book caught my eye. It looked like a life preserver to me.

And it is, but not in the way I’d hoped. First of all, I probably shouldn’t be wasting even a minute of my precious writing time on reading someone else’s book instead of working on my own WIP. But the procrastinating side of my brain doesn’t always make the most advantageous choices. Most likely, I’ll be ruing this time the week before the deadline when I still have 10 more chapters to write. But for now, my mind reminds me that I still have 55 days, which sounds like a lot if I don’t glance at my calendar and see all the other things I have to do in that same time.

Anyway, as I’m already procrastinating, I decided to blog about what I’m learning from King’s book. One of her quotes stopped me in my tracks the way facing a hungry lion might. This gem was worth the time I took to read the first few chapters:

“If you’re only working something out for a fictional character who doesn’t exist in some part of you, then it isn’t worth it.”

King’s a big advocate of writing stories that matter to you, that help you resolve issues in your own life. In other words, only spend your time on things you’re passionate about. I’ve heard the novel-as-therapy idea before, but it suddenly dawned on me that the novels moldering in my file cabinets all dealt with problems that I’ve solved. At the time those themes meant a lot to me. Although I thought I’d created my characters from my imagination, each one was a part of me. Each one was struggling with an issue that I was grappling with. And as I wrote, each one led me to answers, painful as they might be. But now, each one was dead—or should I say, resolved.

Do you have unfinished manuscripts hidden away? Or are you struggling to complete one that feels dull and lifeless? Maybe the “you” that needed to tell that story has moved past that crisis, and the manuscript needs to be filed away as finished business. What struggles are you facing now? Is there a way to turn those into book, or are you already doing that?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writer Unplugged

Photo by Jukka Zitting
Over this past weekend, my husband took our daughter to visit his parents back east, and I got to stay home.  I decided to take myself on a little retreat up to Ojai, a little artsy town about 80 miles from where I live in LA.  I booked a room at The Ojai Retreat, a series of cottage-style rooms on a hilltop, intent on writing for hours.  Maybe I'd even meditate!

You know the saying about good intentions, right?

What I discovered is that it is far more difficult for me to unplug from my various outlets than I thought.  The Retreat doesn't have televisions, but they do have wi-fi.  Instead of spending an afternoon writing, I spent it obsessively checking my email and Facebook news feed and reading up on the latest Hollywood gossip.  Finally, disgusted with myself, I went to dinner.

As I sat at Boccali's, eating a tomato salad made from tomatoes the restaurant grows on its very own farm, I wrote in my journal.  And I realized, I am way too connected to things that drain my energy instead of feed it.  And the more I stay connected to these things, the harder it is to unplug from them.

I love my iPhone with a passion that borders on obscene.  But the more yoked I am to it, the less yoked I am to the world around me.  If I stand in line at Starbucks checking my email, I miss out on the million observations around me that deserve to be observed.  The conversation at the table next to me cries out to be eavesdropped on.  The guy in front of me with the crazy West Hollywood outfit just might turn up in my next book.  Is seeing a picture of my friend's goat cheese pizza on Facebook really worth missing out on that for?

Nowadays, the publishing industry demands that its authors be plugged in.  We're expected to blog, to tweet, to promote and market.  And that's not a bad thing; it's vital that we connect with our readers and the internet is the best way to do that.  But it's just as vital that we learn to unplug from the online world and plug into the real world, and ourselves.

Only when we turn off all the rings and vibrates and alerts do we really hear our own voices.  Because no matter how interesting your best friend's Facebook statuses are, nothing is as important as your own thoughts.

I'm happy to say that after my epiphany over my delicious tomato salad, I was able to return to my TV-less room and write and write and write.  Now I'm home and have set some boundaries for myself: check Facebook only twice a day, resist the urge to pull out my phone whenever I'm standing in line for something, and start using my Mac Freedom program again.

We can't always whisk ourselves away to Ojai when we need to unplug, but we can turn off all the bells and whistles...wherever we are.

Nicole Maggi writes YA - paranormal, historical, and beyond.  Her debut novel WINTER FALLS will be released in 2014 from Medallion Press.  She's represented by the fabulous Irene Goodman of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, their daughter Emilia (after the Shakespeare character), and two cats Sawyer & Hurley (after the LOST characters).  Yeah, she's a geek.  Check out her website & follow her on Twitter!

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Everyone has their go to food when they are feeling down. When I’m stuck in a writing rut, only one thing will chase the blues awaychocolate. I like to have a stash in my drawer desk in case of emergencies. If I’m having a hard time writing the end of a scene, I know just what will do the trick. A handful of M&M’s and boomthe elusive ending pops into my head.  Honestly I don’t know how anyone can write a book without the dark candy treat.

Most of my writer friends are very understanding of my chocolate addiction, they’re addicts too. But there is one person who thinks my habit is not only weight inducing but also a sign of emotional weakness. This so called friend works better than any guilty conscience.   

“So I see you have a bag of Hersey’s drops.”

“They’re new! So yummy.”

“And what writing emergency has called for yet another bite of chocolate?”

“I’m trying to figure out how to tie all my mystery elements together. You know, the curse of a pantster.”

“How many times have I told you to use an outline?”


“If you were only more disciplined you wouldn't need chocolate. I use index cards to plot my book and look at me, thin and cavity free.”

“And boring as hell.”

“What did you say?”

“Um…writing without chocolate is boring. Besides I’m not overweight and I haven’t had a cavity in two years.”

“Really? Don’t think you’ve got a tiny bit of a muffin top?”

I kick him in the leg.

“Ouch.  That hurt.”

He reaches for the bag of chocolates and pops a handful of pieces in his mouth.

“Thought you didn’t like candy. Makes you fat and gives you cavitiesremember?”

“I’m only eating the chocolate to make the pain go away.”

I stuff back a laugh.  “I think that qualifies as emotional eating.”

Anne Van