Monday, November 12, 2018

Sequel Jitters

A post by Mary Fan
Last month, I put the finishing touches on WAYWARD STARS, the sequel to my YA sci-fi novel STARSWEPT, and sent advance copies off to bloggers and reviewers. And I’ve been spinning like a top ever since. One might think that sending out a sequel would be less nervousness-inducing, since the people who requested it presumably read and liked the first book (enough to want to find out what happens next, at least), and they’re already familiar with the world and the characters. So you’re basically giving your book to a crowd that’s already primed to like it.

On the other hand, the ghost of expectations is a terrifying thing. When I sent out the first book, it was a whole new thing for readers to discover, and though I was somewhat jittery, it felt different. It was “will they like this new thing I created?” With the sequel, on the other hand, I felt like I owed the people who’d stuck with me. And the nervousness became, “Is this good enough compared to the first book?”

A big part of the nervousness was due to the fact that WAYWARD STARS has a dramatically different tone from STARSWEPT. I like to think of it as being similar to how the bright optimism of the first STAR WARS movie, A NEW HOPE, gave way to the somber contemplation of its sequel, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. But of course, EMPIRE is legendary for a reason—not every sequel can pull it off. And I’ve been disappointed by enough crappy sequels to know how when they go wrong, they go REALLY wrong. Not only are they bad continuations, but they can actually ruin the first installment in one’s mind.

I didn’t mean to take my sequel in a more somber direction. Actually, when I conceived it, I was determined not to do that. When it comes to YA speculative fiction, the tone and general directions of series tend to follow a certain trajectory. Book 1: Clueless main character in a fascinating new world, discovering its (often dark, terrible) secrets alongside the reader, gets some fluffy, fun scenes but is slowly disillusioned. Book 2: Deal with the fallout from said (dark, terrible) secrets. No more fluffy fun. Book 3: Rise up and win the day, usually at great cost.

This isn’t a formula; this is basic story structure at play. It’s what we, at least in the Western storytelling culture, are primed to expect.

As a reader, I’m sometimes bummed out by Book 2 because I miss the fluffy fun of Book 1. So I was hoping, with WAYWARD STARS, to keep the fluff of STARSWEPT—with a focus on the competitive performing arts school stuff, as opposed to the sci-fi dystopia stuff. I had this whole concept for how I was going to do that, how I was going to spare my characters the gloom of a somber sequel. And… it didn’t work. Not at all. Not even a little bit. Because the fact is, this was a sci-fi dystopia against the backdrop of a performing arts school, not the other way around.

I had a lot of trouble writing WAYWARD STARS—so much that I wound up pantsing the entire second half because every time I tried to outline it, things just didn’t come together. I think it was because I kept trying to force it in one direction when the story wanted to go in another, and by pantsing, I was just going with the flow instead of trying to plan out contrived storylines.

Would readers accept the direction this sequel went in? Or would they be disappointed that it’s so different from the first book? Jitter, jitter, jitter.
It probably didn’t help that WAYWARD STARS is only the second Book 2 I’ve written, and, in a way, the first true continuation (with my Jane Colt space adventure trilogy, the books are more episodic). Though come to think of it, with the second Jane Colt book, I had a similar problem where I tried to force the sequel in one direction (even getting 30k words into 2 separate drafts) before realizing that the real story started in what was Chapter 15 or so in the outline. Maybe the lesson here is that I’ve got to stop trying to force my sequels.

Anyway, I’m happy with the version of WAYWARD STARS that eventually emerged, even though it wasn’t the book I originally imagined. And that’s good enough for me.

Have you written a sequel? Was it a continuation, or an episode? And were you jittery about it, or did it feel easier because it wasn't completely new?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The 'Write' Fit: Writers, personality, and process

Eek! I screwed up, hence why this post is coming to you late. It's two days post Election Day and my brain is entirely elsewhere. So I apologize. Also we had another mass shooting and my anxiety is through the roof, but I'm here. Because if it's one thing I hate, it's not showing up when I'm supposed to.
So Carrie's bullet journal post reminded me of something I wanted to write about. In Carrie's post she discussed how list-making helps her stay on track. It keeps her organized and focused. And I admire Carrie greatly because I always wanted to be the person who was organized. But you know what doesn't help me in the slightest? List making. Clearly, Carrie and I have two different personality types.

A year ago, hell, six months ago, I would've read about bullet journals and I'd have gone online to buy a fancy journal. I would've gotten excited about making lists, assuming that this system of organization would change my whole life. And then, I'd make a list only to freaking forget about it the very next day. And then I'd feel like garbage. Because as I've learned, I'm not a detail-oriented list maker. Carrie is. Kim is not.

You see over the summer, on the recommendation of several author friends, I took a class called Writer Better Faster. And despite the pithy title, this class is way more than simply learning one process to write better faster. This class, taught by the smart AF Becca Syme, doesn't instruct authors in some one-size-fits-all writing process. It teaches authors about themselves through personality and strength assessments to see what writing strategies will help them specifically. It is an eye-opener.

Most people have heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test. I don't want to get into the science on it, because I get overwhelmed with the details, but it basically boils us down into 16 personality types. (If you want to take a free test, you can google it, or you can click here). I took this test as part of the class, and I'm an ENFP. To be succinct, I'm an Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving.

So what does that have to do with writing? For example, I'm an extrovert (big surprise to anyone who knows me). I need to talk. And when I get stuck on a plot problem, I need to talk about it aloud with either another person, or to the wall. But either way, I need to verbalize my thought process. A mystery plot that I've brought to a convoluted halt? I need to tell my dog about it. Whereas an introvert needs quiet time to work it out internally, I need to break down things out loud.

I also discovered that one of my greatest strengths is adaptability. I can go with the flow. Plotting mysteries isn't something best left to pantsing, but as long as I know the killer and crime, I can find feel my way there. For so long, I have beaten myself up over having to rewrite my books at the 50K-word mark. Except this is something I've learned to accept is part of my process. It's not always efficient, but I get a better book when I've felt out the story.

Other things I've learned about myself:

I am not detail-oriented. I am a big picture kinda girl. This means that when I plot a mystery, I can nail down big plot turns, but small clues go by the wayside. On revision, I then need to insert those clues into the manuscript. A far easier task when the story is already done.

I work better in the morning. The early morning. When no one is awake and the coffee is all mine.

I can't do spreadsheets, and there is no point in keeping track of word counts.

And....I can't have the internet up while working. It has to be off. I can focus for chunks at a time if I'm in the zone. I often work at the library and don't request internet usage.

Also, I need quiet. Like a monastery quiet.

Perhaps you're thinking why would someone need a class to learn these things about themselves? Granted, I am oversimplifying a very nuanced approach to writing. But we assume so much about ourselves and then we read all these craft books that tell us, 'this is how you do it.' What works for some, doesn't work for others.

Anyway, if you can't afford to take a class, I suggest trying some of these online tests. See what they say. Then determine if you're setting yourself up for failure by trying to conform to a process that won't work for your brain.

Carrie's bullet journal keeps her focused. A 5am wake-up writing time works for me. What might work for you?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Getting Organized

Remember this post back in April? The one where I said I’d be done with my current WIP by the end of May? You may not be surprised to hear I didn’t make that goal. And exactly what I feared would happen did—we’re almost to the end of the year and I’m still not done.


There’s a whole host of reasons it’s still hanging over me, but the bottom line is I haven’t made it a priority. In fact, I haven’t made my writing a priority. Outside of my regular posts here on Across the Board, I can’t remember the last time I posted to my personal blog. And that’s okay because I quit my very well paid, secure job to spend time with my daughter and run our household. Writing was supposed to be the thing that kept me busy when I had nothing else to do. Well, the last few years I’ve had a lot of other things to focus on. Writing got pushed to the background.

Now I’m ready to bring it back to the front. I was ready in April, but what I quickly learned was that it had been so long since writing was my focus I didn’t know how to get organized around it.

Recently, my daughter started talking about bullet journals. She was annoying me with trying to find her a very specific kind of journal, so I finally Googled what this bullet journaling was all about. Here’s a link to the basic concept if you’re not familiar.

During my research, I got to thinking I could use this system for my writing, so I narrowed my research. The result was lots and lots of links out there with suggestions and tips on how to use bullet journals specifically for writing. There’s a short list at the bottom of this post, but if you’re interested I encourage you to do some of your own research. For example, you might want to research bullet journals for your specific genre. And for those of you doing NaNoWriMo, there are even layouts to help you organize your month of frenzied writing.

Over the weekend I ordered our journals (her’s will be a Christmas gift) and I started to brainstorm what I’d put in my writing journal. Below is what I’ve come up with so far. This may change once I get into the journal, but I like having an idea of where I’m going to start.

- 2019 Goals
- 2019 Memory Bank
- Habit Tracker (writing/editing/exercise)
- Word Counts
- Reading Challenges (yearly/quarterly)
- To Be Read (monthly)
- Book Ideas
- Blogging (dates/topics)
- Collections: one for each book to include plot outline, characters, setting, beta/critique group feedback, plot holes, ideas, titles, cover ideas, etc.
- Book Promotion
- Querying and Submissions

I’m already tracking some of this, but it’s all in separate locations such as Word files, printouts, Excel files, and notebooks. One of the standard items in a bullet journal I dont plan to incorporate is the monthly/weekly calendar. I have another calendar I use that Ill keep. That calendar gets bogged down with all my mom/home responsibilities and I don't want to mix all that in with my writing life. Thats how I let it get to the back burner in the first place.

I’m hoping that having a specific bullet journal for my writing will keep it in front of me and help me make it a priority. And besides, Im addicted to journals (remember this post?), so I loved having a reason to buy yet another one. I’m planning now so I can be ready to hit 2019 running. Ill update you in a later post once Ive been using it for a while. I should note that if you do some research on bullet journals youll find that some can be really creative and involved. I plan to start simple. I dont need this to be yet another distraction to my writing by spending all my time creating ornate pages...

Oh—and Im getting a new laptop soon. I really will have NO excuses for not getting back to a regular writing schedule. Its time to make it my job again, and not just my hobby.

Have any of you used a bullet journal for your writing? If so, what has worked for you? Any tips or advice?

Helpful links:

~ Carrie

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Dystopian Reminder of the Importance of Voting
I'll confess that internally, I'm probably smug about a lot of the things I do, but I have the sense to keep my smugness to myself. But in this instance, I'm going to let my self-satisfaction shine brightly.

I voted early last week and I'm proud of it.

I think all Americans should vote early too. But if you're a procrastinator (which I usually am) then at least get out and vote on Tuesday, November 6th, which is the official and final day to vote in these mid-term elections.

Voting, if you can't tell, is something I'm passionate about. I think it's a right too many people take for granted. So in that line of thought, I put together my top ten list of dystopian novels to remind us of what the world looks like when democracy ceases to exist. Miriam Webster's definition of dystopia is: 

an imaginary place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly

It's not such a stretch, anymore, to think of a dystopia being real and not so "imaginary". We don't want to live in that world, and one of the best, easiest, and cheapest ways to fight against that reality is to get out and vote.

#10 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

#9 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Hundreds of years in the future, the World Controllers have created an ideal civilization. Its members, shaped by genetic engineering and behavioral conditioning, are productive and content in roles they have been assigned at conception. Government-sanctioned drugs and recreational sex ensure that everyone is a happy, unquestioning consumer; messy emotions have been anesthetized and private attachments are considered obscene. Only Bernard Marx is discontented, developing an unnatural desire for solitude and a distaste for compulsory promiscuity. When he brings back a young man from one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old unenlightened ways still continue, he unleashes a dramatic clash of cultures that will force him to consider whether freedom, dignity, and individuality are worth suffering for.

#8 Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut

Player Piano is set in the near future, after a third world war. While most Americans were fighting overseas, the nation's managers and engineers faced a depleted workforce and responded by developing ingenious automated systems that allowed the factories to operate with only a few workers. The widespread mechanization creates conflict between the wealthy upper class, the engineers and managers, who keep society running, and the lower class, whose skills and purpose in society have been replaced by machines.
The bifurcation of the population is represented by the division of Ilium, New York into "The Homestead," where every person not a manager or an engineer lives, and the other side of the river, where all the engineers and the managers live.

#7 We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

We is set into the far-flung future well after a war that had lasted two-hundred years.
D-503 lives in the One State, a lone city constructed almost entirely of glass so that the State can keep an eye on the citizens at all times.
Life is organized by the hour in order to maximum proficiency and maximum output from every inhabitant. People walk in step with each other and wear identical clothing with badges with their numbers/names for easy identification by the States agents.
'I' is not allowed. Only 'We' exists.
People do not have names, they have a serial number.
A permit is needed for times to have intimate relationships in order to lower the shades on the glass buildings the city is composed of.
There is total surveillance of every person.

While the final work to put the One State not only as an Earthbound government but to make it an interstellar one as well, D-503 begins to live a life of rebellion and secrets.
He is in a fight against time as the One State has developed a procedure to eliminate Imagination in order to make all the people of the One State more efficient and less distracted.

#6 When she Woke by Hillary Jordan

When She Woke, tells the story of a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed—their skin color is genetically altered to match the class of their crimes—and then released back into the population to survive as best they can. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder.

In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.

 #5 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

#4 Never Let Me Go by Kazo Ishiguro

Human clones are created so that they can donate their organs as young adults. The novel follows the life story of Kathy, a clone who is raised at a boarding school for future “donors.”

#3 Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, war, and chronic shortages of water, gasoline, and more. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is facing apocalypse. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

#2 Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

#1 1984 by George Orwell

"The novel is set in an imaginary future world that is dominated by three perpetually warring totalitarian police states. The book's hero, Winston Smith, is a minor party functionary in one of these states. His longing for truth and decency leads him to secretly rebel against the government. Smith has a love affair with a like-minded woman, but they are both arrested by the Thought Police. The ensuing imprisonment, torture, and reeducation of Smith are intended not merely to break him physically or make him submit but to root out his independent mental existence and his spiritual dignity. Orwell's warning of the dangers of totalitarianism made a deep impression on his contemporaries and upon subsequent readers, and the book's title and many of its coinages, such as NEWSPEAK, became bywords for modern political abuses." -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

Monday, October 29, 2018

Making a Murderer (Writer Abouter)

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
Happy (Almost) Horror Christmas, everybody!

Sometimes it's funny to think about myself being a horror author.  Like most people I grew up being taught that horror had a certain disreputable sheen, maybe one step above porn and one step below country music.  Horror was simply "understood" to consist of bargain bin dregs with titles like "Freddy III," "Leprechaun in the Hood," and "Jason Goes to Space."

I recall one weekend as a young boy staying at my aunt's house.  As was customary at the time, my sister and I were each allowed to pick out one video at the video store.  (Am I dating myself with that reference, kids?  A video store is what Netflix was before Netflix mailed you DVDs, which is what Netflix was before it was what Netflix is now.)  Anyway, my sister picked out "Drop Dead Fred" and I tried to pick up "Critters."  My sister said I knew my mother would never let me pick out a "slasher movie" and to pick out something else, so I settled on "Godzilla vs. Biollante" with her grudging acceptance.  

Over the course of the weekend we watched "Drop Dead Fred" not less than one dozen times, and I tried, with some desperation, to watch my movie as well, but only managed to see about half an hour before our mother picked us up Sunday evening.  My sister later bragged that "I had tried to pick up some slasher movie at the video store" but she had successfully prevented me from watching it.  And then I got in trouble for the attempt at "deception."

This is a silly little story, of no real consequence really, but I'm reminded of it because it's illustrative.  "Critters" and "Godzilla" were horror movies, and therefore indistinguishable from slasher movies, and therefore utter trash, and not only that, but banned in our household.  It was a very simplistic perspective that my parents held, but one that I know was common at the time, and I suspect is common among parents of today as well.

Well, I discovered Johnny Cash in college, and learned that while Billy Ray Cyrus and Big & Rich aren't exactly the finest artists on the planet, they don't represent the depth and breadth of all country music.  And as for porn, well you grow up and find out there's really nothing wrong with sex work performed by consenting adults it's just our cultural hangups that make it seem illicit.  It wasn't terribly long ago TROPIC OF CANCER, PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT, LOLITA, and, hell, MADAME BOVARY were banned as pornography.  It turns out that reducing entire genres to "obscene" or "lowbrow" is reductive and not just a little bit ignorant.

And the funny thing is, we watched "The Exorcist" and "Aliens" and "The Birds" in our household, not to mention "Jaws" and "Psycho."  My mother, of the "no horror movies" rule was a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan.  In fact, I was allowed to watch "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" on Nick at Nite every night during the summer.  And "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits" every day.  My sister of the "slasher movies are trash" outlook read Christopher Pike and "Goosebumps" and "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" and, oh yeah, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker, and introduced me to all of the same.  

We just didn't call any of that "horror."  

"Horror," you see, was demonstrably bad.  Therefore, if we were reading and watching stuff that was good, it wasn't, by definition, "horror."

Strangely (and somewhat to my detriment in my present occupation) Stephen King was an absolute no-no.  Stephen King, you see, was known to write horror, and therefore his books were not allowed in the house.

Ten years ago when I started trying to get published, I had always thought of myself as a science fiction author.  But the first novel I had banged into shape to be published was a story about a zombie detective.  Not really science fiction, maybe a mystery, but I could market it as horror.

And once I became a horror author I realized how much horror was still considered obscene.  Lowbrow.  Many book reviewers explicitly state "no horror or erotica."  

But in the last decade something strange started happening.  "Get Out" and "The Shape of Water" were up for Oscars, something once all but explicitly prohibited for horror films.  "The Walking Dead," "Stranger Things," and "American Horror Story" turned out to be smash hits, while shows like "Black Mirror" and "The Terror" aspired to award worthiness.

Horror is gradually becoming acceptable, even commendable.  And Stephen King, the guy who was banned in my childhood house?  Well, he got a National Medal of the Arts.  I'm glad to be where I am and do what I do, because it feels like I'm on the cutting edge of a new era in terror.  Even if I never expected to end up here growing up.

Happy Halloween, everybody!  Enjoy the month when everybody loves fear.  Soon there will be twelve of them.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

My Life as a Hang Nail

By Cheryl Oreglia

I have spent a great deal of time focused on yet another shift - as in occupational - my sixth I believe - only to discover this holistic inner longing - to become a writer - gritty - exposed (except for the fig leaf) - which I believed to be absurdly unique for someone my age - ends up being as common as a hang nail, just as annoying, and completely devoid of value. Shit. 

I have a thing for Nora Ephron. I wonder if anyone else struggles with the same affliction? 

I walk around dropping Ephron quotes like bread crumbs, as if meaningless idioms can be tracked, and followed. Most of the time I get blank stares? "Who?" Then I shout, "Everything is copy," which I think is hysterical. Apparently I'm the only one? I start spewing bullet points from Ephron's resume. "When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail!" Nothing? Most people need to refresh their drink at this point, which suits me just find, I wasn't enjoying your company either. 

I have come to grips with the fact I'll never be Nora Ephron. I'm not Jewish, I don't write screenplays, nor am I fearless, acute, or funny but we do share the same birthday. It's our thing. I'm not sure if life happened to Nora or Nora happens to life because she struggles at being Nora too. Don't we all. 

I mean the struggle to be our authentic selves, not Nora.

She wrote, "after I went into therapy, a process that made it possible for me to tell total strangers at cocktail parties that breasts were the hang-up of my life, I was often told that I was insane to have been bothered by my condition (small breasts syndrom)." Her large breasted girlfriends assured her their lives were much more miserable than hers, to which she responded, "I think you are full of shit." Who doesn't love her?

Nora's dirty laundry is epic and she hangs it out for everyone to see. In her best selling novel Heartburn she recounts with fictional characters her devastating divorce from Carl Bernstein. It's sharp, painful, and funny all at once. Your emotions get confused, fighting to emerge at the same time, as in wincing with a smile, or laughing so hard your hernia kicks in, but you really just want to cry. She does this with words.
What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. Nora Ephron
In chapter thirteen of her novel Heartburn, "If I had to do it over again, I would have made a different kind of pie. The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma." She throws a pie at her husband and we all cheer. 

She helps us not only imagine what a blueberry pie would look like on a new jacket, but how satisfaction is an impermanent condition, as our emotions tend to be. The pie, the mess, her husbands surprise, and yet absolutely nothing changed. Her husband was still having an affair with her best friend while she was expecting their second child. It's pitiful but you don't pity her. Why? She owned the story. 
When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you; but when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it's your laugh. So you become the hero rather than the victim of the joke. Nora Ephron
This is what I like best about Nora. When asked why she's compelled to turn everything into a story she said, "because if I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me. Because if I tell the story, it doesn't hurt as much. Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it." She does lament the hardest thing about writing is writing. 

Nora Ephron passed away in 2012 and I've been trying to channel her ever since. She's busy, I get it, but once in a while she throws me a bone, and I come up with this spectacular thought so beyond my scoop, that all I can do is bow down and thank her! 
You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday. If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. Nora Ephron
Nora wrote, "I spent my first 45 years never thinking about my nails. Occasionally, I filed them with the one lone wretched emery board I owned, put a little polish on them, and went out into the world." My life as a hang nail is going pretty well especially when you consider I could be snipped at any moment. I've been hanging on, annoying the best of you for years, maybe it's time for a manicure?
I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance. Nora Ephron

When I'm not writing for Across the Board, I'm Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, we'll watch When Harry Met Sally

  • “We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was [in my twenties], I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy.” Nora Ephron 
  • “And so, Thanksgiving. Its the most amazing holiday. Just think about it — it's a miracle that once a year so many millions of Americans sit down to exactly the same meal as one another, exactly the same meal they grew up eating, and exactly the same meal they ate a year earlier. The turkey. The sweet potatoes. The stuffing. The pumpkin pie. Is there anything else we all can agree so vehemently about? I don't think so." Nora Ephron
  • I'll have what she's having. Nora Ephron

Do you have an author obsession? Share a few thoughts in the comments! 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Back Jacket Hack Job - Big Sexy Love

This Back Jacket Hack Job is especially for all of you rom com lovers. It's got a big sexy romance and an amazing friendship at its center and it was a pretty perfect read for me. I've read a lot of the hyped, talked-about rom coms this year and none of them came close to this one. I read it on a very turbulent flight (which terrified me) and it STILL made me laugh!

So, what's the book, Brenda?

Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood. Before you wonder what I'm hacking here, it's not erotica, despite the title. The title is actually a super sweet part of the book, but don't type it into Google, whatever you do!

About the book
Olive likes her life. She works as a fishmonger, lives in her childhood home and has never left her hometown. Until Birdie, her best friend in the whole world who's dying of a terminal illness asks Olive to go find Birdie's first love. In New York City.

READ THIS FOR THE PLANE SCENE, ALONE. Olive asks a random stranger to take her to the bathroom because she's afraid to go by herself. Which is funny enough, but the random stranger is a writer for Saturday Night Live who thinks Olive is looking for a quickie. All Olive wants is a wee and hilarity ensues. (This is the part I read during my particularly terrifying flight and I was crying with laughter. Talk about a great distraction.)

Olive gets to New York, dignity somewhat intact, and meets a whole cast of characters, all of whom have their little quirks and characteristics that make them memorable. One of them even gives her a free "makeover", creating a unicorn horn out of her unruly hair. The only person she can't seem to meet is Birdie's first love... 

I could gush about this book for days, but maybe the fact that it has over 500 5-star reviews on Amazon (and over 1500 on Goodreads) will help to sway you? If you DO read it (or have read it already - even better!), let me know so we can gush about it together, yes?

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