The Blogging from A-Z Challenge is Upon Us!


atoz [2015] - BANNER - 910

A is for Ad-lib

APRIL FOOL!  The Challenge hasn’t started yet.  I won’t have time to prank you then.

Ad-lib is short for ad libitum, a Latin term meaning “at liberty,” or “at one’s pleasure.”  In theater or film, the term refers to making up lines as you go with no set script (alt. extemporize, or improvise), or adding lines / business that weren’t scripted.

Just so you know why I picked this word for the game plan post, I AM AD-LIBBING THIS A-Z CHALLENGE.



I only know how to do research as if I were at university.  I did a crap-ton of it for Rose’s Hostage, but that hardly makes me an expert.  I was flying by the seat of my pants there too.

Not as well-practiced as this fellow.

Not as well-practiced as this fine fellow.


In this year’s Blogging from A-Z Challenge, I will give you a glimpse into one less glamorous side of writing, researching.  I’ll try to make it fun, but I can’t promise anything.  Since I’ll be in London for the latter half of the Challenge, both researching and hanging with my soundtrack nerd peeps, I might have a post or two outside the Challenge about those experiences.


This is MY process only.  I can’t speak for anybody else out there and I’m probably doing many things wrong, so please don’t use my haphazard work as a professional or academic guideline.

How does it go?  Most often, I start with reading.  I google whatever I want to research and look for authentic sources and then read until my eyeballs bleed.  Those sources may consist of books, websites, and multimedia including videos or audio recordings.  In olden times, before the Internet machine had become a thing, I went to the library a lot.  Now, especially since I have a faster connection (yay!), it’s all about Google.  Whom I’m sure has a rather extensive file on me.

“Search history…hmm.  Carry-on packing tips, death by exsanguination, spring recipes, hair braiding videos, how to make things happen with your mind, gas bombs, 1960s Britain.  WHAT THE HELL IS SHE DOING????” 

“Search history…hmm.  Carry-on packing tips, death by exsanguination, spring recipes, hair braiding videos, how to make things happen with your mind, gas bombs, 1960s Britain.  WHAT THE HELL IS SHE DOING????”

Image:  imagerymajestic/

While reading, I make copious notes.  I have about six million bookmarks and I often save particularly important pages as PDF files, just in case the website goes down (and so I can work offline if needed).

A few books for Secret Book that I’ve ordered/used/plan to read/stare at bleakly as I become overwhelmed with all I have to do include:

  • Hutchinson Encyclopedia of Britain (Helicon history) by Gale Group.  Word on the Water actually had this one when I visited their lovely book barge in October, but I knew it wouldn’t fit into my suitcase, so I had to order it from Amazon UK.  Sorry, guys!


OMG I am not going to list them all.  You will die. I do not want you to die.  I also don’t want to spoil anything.

If you’re wondering why some of the books come from Amazon UK, it’s because I couldn’t find them anywhere else.

TIPYes, you can have a UK account if you’re in the US, but you have to use a different email from the one you use for your US account.  Remember the exchange rate.  You can set your account to show your total in USD instead of GBP currency so you know how much you’re spending.

And don’t order Kindle books from there if you want to keep your device tied to your American account—if you do, they’ll wipe it.  The UK books are all hard copies.

Watch for the little orange TIP icon throughout the series–it will alert you if I have something tricksy to pass on.

I still have a loooooooooooong way to go before this book is viable.  And I still have to finish the damn thing.  Along with working, traveling, researching, and pursuing those personal goals.

Overwhelmed with Too many tasks

Image:  marcolm/

I can do it.  Along the way, maybe you and I both will learn a few things.

Stay tuned for the A-Z Challenge!

Secret Book and Self-Publishing

I am slowly crawling out from the cocoon of heartbreak and back toward my Secret Book manuscript.  However, I’ve reached an impasse that has held up the story somewhat.  The road has two forks, and I need to go down both of them.

My attempt to brave the first fork has shown that my research into the period and especially the English setting is sorely lacking, to the point that it’s holding me up.  I’ll be in London again in two months, and I want to spend much of my time there doing research.  So I’m making plans to organize where and when and who and how.

If I finish the book and it sells, I can write off the whole trip! 

If I finish the book and it sells, I can write off the whole trip!

Image:  Arvind Balaraman/

The second fork led right back to Heartbreak Hotel (I should just buy real estate on Lonely Street, seriously).  I couldn’t write the lovey-dovey part of the book because it’s been so long since I’ve been happy in a new relationship that those scenes are coming off wooden and stilted.  I can’t tap into those emotions right now, even in my imagination.  That realization made writing them and listening to the book’s Einaudi playlist exquisitely painful.

Shit like this all over Facebook right now does not help.

Starring everyone I’ve ever known and a bunch of stupid celebrities I don’t.

Starring everyone I’ve ever known and a bunch of stupid celebrities I don’t.


So I’ll take First Fork Road for now.  (And I’m listening to Einaudi again, which is a good sign, I suppose.)  Meanwhile, stuffs be happening:

  •  This research and preparation will take time.
  • I’m embroiled in trying to retrieve my Rose’s Hostage critique.  Things are not going well at the moment.  Hint:  if you pay someone to do a critique or editing, get a turnaround time in writing.  In the meantime, a chapter rewrite I thought of on my own looms.
  • I’m still querying agents about Tunerville (more on that shortly).
  • I’ve entered a story in literary magazine Glimmer Train’s New Writers competition.

This past weekend, I attended VisionCon with my Whovian friends.  I went dressed as Donna Noble in an outfit very similar to this one:

I’m not linking to who Donna Noble is.  Go watch Doctor Who on Netflix, you godless heathen!

I’m not linking to who Donna Noble is. Go watch Doctor Who on Netflix, you godless heathen!


I clipped a small adipose plush to my jacket just in case no one realized who I was supposed to be, but everyone got it and a couple of people even wanted to snap a pic.  So my first cosplay ever was a success.

While I was there, I attended a panel on traditional vs. self-publishing hosted by horror/fantasy authors Ben S. Reeder, JM Guillen, and EM Ervin.  All three of them are self-pubbed; only Ben Reeder has gone through traditional publishing.  EM Ervin’s book had only been out for two weeks when they had the panel–I could totally relate to her excitement.

Overall, the three writers were in favor of self-publishing.  Guillen said he had never gone for the regular method.  Reeder told the audience that you certainly do not get much money from traditional publishing–advances have shrunk to ridiculous amounts, especially for first novels.  I knew this already, so no surprise there.

Don’t quit your day job just yet. 

Don’t quit your day job just yet.

Image:  graur razvan ionut/

Reeder and Guillen both said that while the slush pile and queries are still a thing, agents have a new tool to find writers–they go online and see what is selling.  And according to Reeder, whom I spoke with the next morning on my last pass through the dealer’s room before heading home, you can make a living this way, if your sales are decent.

I have my doubts about that last, but they definitely gave me something to think about.  I’ve been avoiding self-pubbing for several reasons:

  • It still has a shitty reputation, because anyone can do it. And anyone does.
  • It costs money.  Even if you avoid vanity publishers and publish on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing for free, if you want even a hope of having a decent project, you still have to shell out for a competent editor and hire a book cover artist.  All three of the panel hosts agreed these two things are absolutely vital.
  • It requires you to do ALL the work.  While traditional publishers these days put authors to work flogging their books, with self-published books the onus is on you.  All of it.
  • It lacks the one thing traditional publishing gives you that nothing else can, according to Reeder: legitimacy.

This last is why I do not want to self-publish Rose’s Hostage or Tunerville.  I’m still querying the latter.  I got a rejection this week that said the query sounded interesting, but that the agent in question was inundated with work and not taking on new clients.  Maybe it was a form email, and maybe not.  It’s difficult to tell sometimes.

You will not see any self-published books at Barnes and Noble, unless they’ve been picked up by one of the Big Five, and that is very, very rare.  Still, it does happen.

You too can write a masturbatory fantasy and have it become a media darling.

You too can write a masturbatory fantasy and have it become a media darling.


I want that legitimacy.  It’s like getting instant street cred.  If I get it, I will have passed the initiation; industry professionals will have declared my book worthy, and I’ll become one of the club.  For me, right now, self-pubbing is not going to happen with those two works.

I thought–and I keep thinking–that it might be a good way to offer something shorter than a book to you, my readers.  Because I feel bad that you haven’t got anything besides this twit of a blog to read.

What do you think?  If you would like me to put some stories up, let me know in the comments.

Vocabulary – V is for, well, Vocabulary!

Today’s vocabulary letter is V!  V is for vapid, vegan, and Voldemort.  Whoops, I shouldn’t have said that last one—someone’s knocking at the door.

Looks like he’s busy--I’m safe for now.

Looks like he’s busy–I’m safe for now.


Let’s begin!

Vagary – unpredictable, wild, erratic action or quality.

Vacillate – go back and forth, as with a decision.

The Doctor vacillated on whether to go immediately to the Sticky Planet or stop in London first for a pair of wellies. 

Vellum – calf, lamb, or goatskin treated for use as a writing surface.

Come near me with that quill, and I’ll show YOU a surface. 

Come near me with that quill, and I’ll show YOU a surface.


Verdigris (VUR-di-grees) – the green or blue coating you see on copper, brass, or bronze. It can result from exposure and consists of poisonous copper carbonate, copper chloride, or copper acetate.

If you visit the Statue of Liberty, don’t lick it.

If you visit the Statue of Liberty, don’t lick it.

Image:  Elcobobbola / Wikimedia Commons

Vicarious – received in place of another; experienced via imaginative participation.

Viviparous – producing live young.

“I believe this alien is viviparous,” Scully said at autopsy, peering intently into the body cavity and ignoring Mulder’s retching.  “I see evidence that it’s given birth.

Vouchsafe – to allow or give by favour or graciousness.

Vorticose – like a vortex; whirling.

Vulpine – foxlike or pertaining to foxes.

Vulcanology – the study of volcanoes.  From Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.


Images: and

Vying – competing.

Buffy’s hand rested comfortably on Mr. Pointy.  She knew she could defeat all the vamps who were vying for a chunk of her slender neck. 




Book Updates – [Insert catchy subtitle here!]

You might have noticed that the Secret Book meter hasn’t been moving much lately.  In fact, at all.

Yes, I’m stuck.  No, there is nobody to pull me out.  I have to do it myself.

Oh, bother….

Oh, bother….


 Not indefinitely; I just hit a character snag and I’m trying to work it out.  I don’t think that meter is the greatest anyway; it doesn’t show progress as well as I’d hoped.

The stuck isn’t all book-related, unfortunately.  I’ve been rather distracted by several stupid things lately.  A writer friend posted this Salon article by Ann Bauer and now I’m even more bummed.

Read it; I’ll wait.

Done?  That article hurt.  I know if I work hard, I have a shot, but sometimes it seems like a longer shot than I ever anticipated.  And to be totally honest, at this exact point in my life, getting a book published has not been my main goal.

That’s a family, in case you thought I just wanted to learn papercraft.

That’s a family, in case you thought I just wanted to learn papercraft.

Image:  jannoon028/

I’ve tried everything to find someone like this, to no avail (yet).  In my medical writing class, we were given an assignment to make up our own medical term.  This was mine:

Cardiorrhexisopathy:  A process where the patient persistently falls in love with the wrong damn man, causing the heart to break repeatedly.

rrhexis/o—rupture or burst
pathy—disease (negative term)

Yes, I do suffer from this condition.  Apparently, the only cure is marrying the right person, but so far, the subject of this research has proved elusive.  It’s almost too late for the kid thing (but not yet), so the universe better get cracking.

Somehow, I’m sure I’ll end up with this one.

Tunerville news:

Three queries out, and one rejection from a publisher.  Bummer.

Rose’s Hostage news:

Serious kid

Image:  David Castillo Dominici/

Secret Book news (yeah, I know I talked about it earlier):

I’m not that far from the end of the first draft.  Some scenes need a great deal of research, however, and they will end up lightly sketched until I can finish that.  The tough part has been writing about the development of a relationship.  I’ve almost forgotten what that feels like.  I keep telling myself, it’s a first draft, dummy; just write down what happens, and you can rewrite it later when your heart doesn’t resemble a pigeon smashed into the pavement by a passing car.

No illustration for that, so here is a picture of a smiling puppy instead. 

No illustration for that, so here is a picture of a smiling puppy instead.


Some of the research has been tedious, and other things fun.  I signed up for the Doctor Who class at Syracuse University, where my homework is watching numerous episodes of Doctor Who online and then discussing them.  I don’t get any credit, so I don’t realy have to do anything.  It’s perfect!

Since the show was created during the exact period my book is set, it has helped me get into the mindset of that era.  I also follow a page on Facebook called Old Photos of London and the East End.  Other followers post reminisces in the comments, which often yield tiny tidbits that may be useful.

I still need to make a plan for further exploration when I return to London in April.  I’d like to make the most of the time, because I’m only going for a week.  You may not get a post then unless something very cool happens.


Hmm, if I sneak into St Paul’s Cathedral and claim sanctuary, would they let me stay forever?

Image:  Nickopol/

I’ll be back soon with another vocabulary post.  We’re nearing the end of that series.  If you have any ideas for another you’d like me to do, let me know in the comments.


Vocabulary – U is for Universe, which is being a b*tch right now

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter U.  U stands for unit, ukulele, ugly, and universe.  I’m not speaking to that last one at the moment.  If the universe were a significant other, it’d be sleeping on the couch.

Shall we begin?

Uakari – a New World monkey with a short tail.  This little guy lives in the Amazon Basin.

“Margaret, I told you to bring the sunscreen, but you just wouldn’t listen, would you?”

“Margaret, I told you to bring the sunscreen, but you just wouldn’t listen, would you?”

 Image:  Eugenia Kononova/

Ubiquitous – a state of being in which a thing exists everywhere all the time or is very common.

Hamish noted the ubiquitous presence of idiots on the internet, as evidenced by their constant trolling. 

Ubiety (yoo-BUY-i-tee) – a condition in which you are in a particular location.  From the Latin ubi (where).  I cannot think of a reason why I would use this word with any regularity.

Udo (OOH-doe) – Japanese word for the Aralia cordata plant also known as “Sun King” or mountain asparagus (parts are edible).  Native to Japan, Korea, and eastern China.  Grown in Western countries as an ornamental perennial.

In your garden, throwin’ some shade.

In your garden, throwin’ some shade.


Udder – you know what this is.  Do I really have to tell you?

That’s udderly ridiculous!

That’s udderly ridiculous!


Ufology – the study of UFOs, or unidentified flying objects (flying saucers).  Widely regarded as a pseudoscience.

Ugsome, Scotland, Northern UK – loathsome, ugly, disgusting, or offensive.  (Dear Scottish friends–is this even a thing?  If so, I love it.)

Uhlan, German – a light cavalry unit armed with lances and sabers, first seen in Polish armies (in Polish, ulan).  Might be an interesting subject for historical fiction.  I put in a link to the word on Wikipedia because they’re kind of fascinating.

See, totally badass. 

See, totally badass.

Image:  Juliusz Kossak/

Uintaite (yoo-IN-tuh-ite) – No, really.  A very pure asphalt mined in the Uinta Mountains of Utah and used to harden soft petroleum products.

Not to be mistaken for licorice. 

Not to be mistaken for licorice.


UK – abbreviation for United Kingdom.  The United Kingdom consists of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  You do not need to write it with a period (full stop in British English) after each letter.

Ukase (yoo-KASE), Russian – an edict by the czar or autocratic government that held force of law.

Ultima – the last syllable of a word.  Or a Final Fantasy spell.

Ululate – to howl shrilly or produce a trilling sort of wail.

Here’s a ululation:

Here’s another one (this used to scare the shit out of me as a little kid):

Umlaut (OOM-lowt), German – those two dots placed over a letter; shows altered pronunciation.  In German a, o, and u may have the umlaut:

  • ä becomes eehhh.
  • ö sounds like uhhr.
  • To pronounce the ü with an umlaut, you purse your lips into a tight O and say oo.

 “Yes, mein Führer,” said the commandant. 

(Note:  I’m using this example because everybody knows how to pronounce this.)    

Umbrage – offense, displeasure.  To take umbrage is to become offended by something.

The ultimate Umbridge (get it?)  ;)

The ultimate Umbridge (get it?)  ;)


Unbosom – No, this does not mean to let your girls out of their cage.  It means to disclose or unburden yourself of thoughts and feelings in confidence, such as during a weepy post-breakup sesh with your BFF.

Ungoliant – a being in the Tolkien universe in the shape of a great spider (arggh!).  Mother of Shelob, who tried to eat Frodo and was thwarted by Samwise after Gollum took him up the steps of Cirith Ungol in The Return of the King.

If you understood that last sentence, you are awarded one nerd point.  If you did not, shame on you; at least watch the Lord of the Rings films.

Oh dear God.

Oh dear God.


Upbraid – to reproach someone; tell them off severely.

Giles upbraided Buffy for going into the vampires’ nest alone and without Mr. Pointy. 

Upwind – where you want to be standing when someone farts.

Urticaria – a rash caused by an allergic reaction; what you get when you touch poison ivy, oak, or sumac.

Leaves of three; let it be!

Leaves of three; let it be!


Ursine – of, like, or pertaining to bears.

Usurp (yoo-SURP) – to seize by force, take without a right to do so.

“Well, that’s unfortunate,” the Doctor said. “Apparently, on this planet, landing the TARDIS directly on the throne is interpreted as an attempt to usurp it.”

Usury – the practice of lending money at batshit crazy interest rates (illegal and unethical).

Who you callin’ unethical?!

Who you callin’ unethical?!

Photo: Rex Features via

Utopia – an ideal society, one that is nearly perfect.  Think Federation planets such as Earth in Star Trek: The Next Generation, upon which poverty, hunger, and war had been eliminated.

Utilize – a fancy way to say use.  Which I hate.  HATE HATE HATE THIS WORD.  Mark Twain, a fierce proponent of plain language, is supposed to have said, “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”

Uvula (yoov-yoo-lah) – also known as the hangy ball!  It’s that little thing that hangs down in the back of your throat.  Nobody is quite sure just exactly what the uvula does.  I couldn’t find a picture of one that wasn’t gross, so here is a picture of a kitten in a sweater instead.



That’s all we have time for today, boys and girls.  I must go read some tomes I got from the library that pertain to Secret Book.  Or eat something; I just realized I forgot to do that.  See you next time.

New Year’s Edition–2014 in review!

It’s time for another year-end report!

I want to thank everyone who dropped by to read my posts and comment.  I hope you enjoyed them.  Looks like Graphomaniac was viewed about a thousand times more this year than last.  Yay!  I’ll do my best to keep putting up fun stuff for you.  And I’m trying my darndest to get something published.

Here’s hoping 2015 is a great year for both you and me!  :)


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,700 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Happy Christmas to all my readers who celebrate it!  If you don’t, then have a lovely day off!  If you didn’t get a day off, then after work, go do something nice for yourself because you deserve it!

Secret Book is proceeding.  As you see, I broke 70K words.  I’m getting there.  A lot of research remains.  The more I write, the more things I realize I will need to study to make it good (or even workable), but that is going to have to wait until I am finished.  Right now, I’m not sure what questions I’ll need to ask

Since I have to work tomorrow, I’m on my own, so the Christmas weekend plan is thus:

  • Clean the house (today, because the sun finally came out after two weeks of dreary weather and I can see what I’m doing)
  • Watch The Desolation of Smaug (probably tomorrow night)
  • Watch the Doctor Who Christmas special tonight (!!!)
  • Go see Battle of the Five Armies (probably Saturday or Sunday)
  • Skate (working on new program from Battle of the Five Armies soundtrack)
  • Write (of course)

For the new year, I plan to finish the vocabulary series of posts for you and try to come up with something interesting for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.  I’d like to do another writing-related series as well.  And I am going to double down on trying to publish.  I’m sure you’re getting tired of me talking about all these books you can’t read.

Thank you for sticking with me and for your comments.  Have a lovely holiday and a safe and happy New Year!

dalek the halls


The Writing Process, or How I Bang My Head Against the Wall and Shake Out a Book

A friend asked me recently if my novel-writing process differed from what it was before, now that I’ve had more experience putting a book together.  My answer was yes and no.

Ambiguity.  I has it. 

Ambiguity.  I has it.


Every writer has a different method.  There is no one way to crank out a book.  Some people approach it in a straightforward manner like they’re on a mission, and others meander about like they have no idea where they’re going.  I can’t speak for anyone but me, so today I’ll attempt to answer my friend’s question in a bit more depth.

Yes, but it depends on the book

I wrote Rose’s Hostage in a mostly linear fashion, from the beginning to the end.  The fanfic that inspired it was written the same way.

Tunerville, on the other hand, not so much.  I started with a rough idea of plot and wrote scenes out of sequence as I went, much the way a movie is filmed.  If my mind was on a certain section of the book, that’s the one I worked on.  Then at the end, I edited it together and smoothed out the transitions.

Secret Book is definitely out of sequence.  I have a complete outline.  I also have two main protagonists, who have separate lives before they meet.  I’ve done a lot of Protagonist 2, and now I’m working on Protagonist 1 and some of the scenes they appear in together.

A clue?  Sorry, this is all you’re getting.  Muwahaha!

A clue?  Sorry, this is all you’re getting.  Muwahaha!

Actually, their lines should converge slightly before you get to the heart, but I screwed up and I don’t feel like drawing it again.  And I ended up writing an ending scene before I was ready, to discharge some of the bruises I had when the Universe socked me right in the feels (didn’t work, BTW).

Yes, and it’s more efficient

I mentioned the outline.  Some writers avoid these, because they feel an outline locks them into a set path for the book.  That makes sense.  But I see it as a fluid thing, something I can change as I go, that keeps me on track.  The only book you can’t edit is the one that is printed and on the shelf.  And since I haven’t published any of them yet, anything goes!

It took me about six months to write Rose’s Hostage, but that was mostly because I was learning how to tie the story together as I went.  It took another five to edit it into a cohesive narrative, again thanks to the learning curve.

Conversely, I finished the first draft of Tunerville using NaNoWriMo 2012 in a month, not counting the bits I already had.

No, because I still think it through in the same way

Sometimes it starts with a plot, and sometimes it starts with a concept.

  • Rose’s Hostage: plot (bank robber takes hostage and keeps her; serial killer turns vigilante to find them)
  • Tunerville: concept  (man invents remote control that tunes up ghosts)
  • Secret Book: title (no really, I had the title first and nothing else)

No matter what I start with, I make notes.  Lots and lots of brainstorming notes.  Pages of them.  Secret Book started with the title, and later I attached a different idea to it.  Then even later, I thought of something else that married well with the original idea, and off we went.

Notes happen throughout the writing process, too.  I make character lists, notes on settings (this is especially true for Rose’s Hostage because I want to make Detectives Pierce and Rossberger series characters if I can), and anything else I might think of.

Especially troublesome when you think of it at nearly four a.m.

Especially troublesome when you think of it at nearly four a.m.


No, because no matter what the preliminaries are, I still have to sit down and write it

I use music geared toward the mood of the book to help me write.  Only instrumental—no songs, because then I’m tempted to sing along, and I can’t concentrate when the music has lyrics.  But whether I’m listening to Ludovico Einaudi (Secret Book), Hans Zimmer (Tunerville and Rose’s Hostage), or Beethoven (because he’s awesome), my butt still has to be in that chair and my fingers must be engaged with the keyboard.

Incidentally, it is Beethoven’s 244th  birthday today.  Happy birthday!

Incidentally, it is Beethoven’s 244th  birthday today.  Happy birthday!

Image:  Joseph Karl Stieler (1820) /

There is no other way to write a book.  Chuck Wendig in his book 500 Ways to Tell a Better Story points out that while the old saw states that everybody has a novel in them, lucky for us writers, most of them can’t be arsed to drag it out.  (I’ve paraphrased a bit there.)  You simply cannot do it without actually doing it.

One thing my friend hit on without actually saying it is this:  every time I write something, I learn something.  I would add that every time I read something, I learn also.  From plowing through a self-published bag of rat droppings and seeing mistakes I shouldn’t make, to consuming the exquisitely rendered prose of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling, every book contains a lesson for the writer.

I can only hope that someday mine will hold value for someone else, but that won’t happen if I don’t actually do the work.  So I’m doing it.

If you do not get this book and read it immediately, I will disown you.

If you do not get this book and read it immediately, I will disown you.


NaNoWriMo 2014 – The End of the Road

Take a look at the Picometer on the Home page.  I hit the NaNoWriMo goal!


Image: Semnoz / Wikimedia Commons

Okay, I cheated, starting with 23,187 words, but the real objective wasn’t to take the NaNo challenge.  I wanted to get this book started.  And I have reached 52,921 words so far.  Last night, I was up late and I wrote 4,100 words and BOY I’m tired.

Now to push on and finish.  I found another meter I can use to track my Secret Book progress, and I’ve uploaded it as a widget.  You can see it to the right on the main page, just above the Picometer, which I’ll leave in place for a few more days.

I have no idea how many words I’ll write before I reach the end, so I’m going to set the goal at 100,000.

That should cover most of my shenanigans. 

That should cover most of my shenanigans.


Here’s hoping it won’t take that many (that’s kind of long).  Word count for adult novels varies, but typically, 80,000–90,000 is standard for most commercial novels.  Secret Book should run around 90+, I’m thinking, when the preliminary draft is finished.

I expect it to balloon to over 100K during rewrites, but after that, I shall edit it down until it’s as spare as I want it to be.  This blog post by Jessica Alvarez at BookEnds Literary Agency is from 2009, but I found it helpful.  The comments are rather interesting as well.

After the draft is done—scenes written and assembled in order, I will take a step back and research the parts I had to gloss over.

It may not be the most efficient process, but it’s MY process. 

It may not be the most efficient process, but it’s MY process.

Image:  phasinphoto /

Keep an eye on the meter–when I type The End, I’ll update the goal setting to wherever I stop.

It’s Called a Crush for a Reason

I’m doing a little research for a character in Secret Book.  Did you ever have feelings for someone you couldn’t have, or thought you couldn’t have?

I don’t mean a fangirl / fanboy admiration for someone, where you love their body of work and celebrate all their milestones and spend actual money for the chance to stand next to them for three seconds and take a selfie.

Only once.  But look who it is!

Only once. But look who it is!


Photo:  Elizabeth West / VisionCon 2014

I mean an honest-to-God, full on, madly in love crush, where you desperately want someone whether they know you’re alive or not.  It could be Gary in Accounting or Jared Leto, Zoe in your history class or Emma Stone.  Doesn’t matter.

I’ve been exploring this, as it’s come up in the book and it’s something we’ve all been through.  It’s happened to me, and I want to get some insight into what other people have experienced, if possible.

First off, what I know.  If you’re dealing with a crush, your feelings are what they are, and you may have some permutations of these:

  • Excitement at seeing the person every day (or whenever)
  • Hope, if there is even an infinitesimal chance you could ever be together
  • Desperation when you think about how you can’t, so you try not to think about that
  • Happiness, when you daydream about the chance
  • Fear, that the person will meet someone else before you have a shot
  • Euphoria, when / if the person talks to you / becomes aware of your existence (though not if you just spilled a hot latte on them)

Now, let’s add this unpleasantness.  Have you ever had to watch that person walk away with someone else?

That brings a whole new set of feelings:

  • The “oh God no” shock you feel when something terrible happens

Startled cat


  • Anguish at losing your chance, even if it was only in your mind
  • Despair, because you will never have what you wanted
  • Depression, especially if you have no other prospects and the fantasy was keeping you going until you do

If you’ve ever had a crush and lived through it, what was it like for you?  Did friends or family know about it?  If so, did they tease you or patronize you?

Note:  If you’re ever tempted to dismiss the feelings of someone who just got hammered by this, try to remember that feelings are what they are.  They are real, and the heartbreak caused by losing a crush can be as bad as that experienced when a real-life relationship ends.

Not that I would know about that, or anything. 

Not that I would know about that, or anything.

Image:  Tina Phillips /

Now the flip side:  have you ever been the object of a crush?  If so, how did you handle the situation?  This has literally never happened to me (that I know of), so I’m really curious about it.

Note:  If you’re the object of the crush and you’ve just destroyed someone’s dream with your shiny new relationship, please refrain from being flippant about it—i.e. saying the equivalent of, “Oh, don’t be silly.  You’ll be fine!”  It’s easy to forget how shitty this whole experience is when you’re over the moon, so mind your words.

It could all come crashing down, because karma is a stone cold bitch.

It could all come crashing down, because karma is a stone cold bitch.

Image:  think4photop /

A better statement might be, “I’m really sorry that you’re feeling bad over this; I hope you can be happy for me.”  It acknowledges the person’s feelings and is much less patronizing.  And he / she may not be happy for you, so be prepared for that.

Was the person crushing on you someone you knew, or not?  What did you think when you found out?

If you have a story you want to share that you think would be relevant, please feel free to comment.  You can do so without registering.  If you want to share a story but don’t want to post it, you can email me at aelizabethwest at

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UPDATED TO ADD:  It doesn’t matter what orientation you are or if the crush took place in high school.  Anything before that, however, is probably not relevant because I’m writing about adults, and while a crush can be crushing for a child, it typically doesn’t involve sexual jealousy.  Puberty or post-puberty is fine.