Wednesday, August 31, 2011


The hardest thing in my life is saying goodbye to people. I never used to have a problem with it until my friends started dying; cancer, car accidents...etc. It was then that I started learning how fragile we are, how when we say goodbye, it might really be the last time.

Now, when a visit is short, it's much easier to say goodbye. But when I spend nearly a week with people, I fall in love; with them, with the place, with their family, with...happiness. When you visit a place where you're loved, there is nothing, NOTHING like it. People are constantly happy to see you, to play with you, to watch a movie, to just be there.

But soon, too soon, you have to leave. There's a second where we hug, and it's like every fiber of my being latches on to them, tries to tie me to them, and when we separate, it's like being cut by glass. It hurts, I want it to stop, but it has to keep going.

This is an awful photo, sorry. But this was me saying goodbye yesterday. I love these people.

I put a lot of these situations in my novels because I experience them regularly. Each one hurts, it doesn't matter if it's the same person I'm leaving over and over and over, it still hurts each time I say goodbye. When I was younger, I never experienced this. I never experienced happiness, love. Now that I'm old enough to understand and appreciate these things....

I hate goodbyes.
I love hellos.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene

As most of you know, or can read, I live on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Hurricane Irene rocked us here. I left the island to go inland and visit my friend from last summer. I drove back today...and the devastation is amazing. Collington (where I currently live) was completely under water, and as I drove I saw houses torn down....

I'll be back to writing writerly things, but for right now, I'd just like to say that I'm thankful for my family and friends (and selfishly, stuff) being safe. I hope everyone else fared well, too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


So...If you haven't figured this out, I like to read. I haven't met a writer who doesn't like to read, and if they exist, I think they're probably an abomination. I mean, that's like a Veterinarian who doesn't like animals....It's just wrong.

I blogged back in APRIL about me spending a million dollars on books and getting a billion, and being really exicted. I promised pictures...and so I finally got around to taking some today. I think I even got more than this, but I think I've either read them, given them to my sister, Patrick, or put them away like a good kid. are the pictures from that wonderful day many moons ago:

See any books you may like?

What about now?

Some titles or authors that are held in this pile:
Joyce Carol Oates
Nick Sparks
The Girl Who Played With Fire/The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
She's Come Undone
Twisted Webs
Still Alice
Lake News (and lots of other Barbara Delinsky)
Two of Anita Shreve (she lived down the road from me in Maine...I never got to meet her :( )
The Story Sisters
Eat, Pray, Love
White Oleander
Those Who Save Us

And many others 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sanity and Writing

This is going to be a short one today, but something I've been thinking about a lot.

How many of you consider yourselves sane? I mean, like...really sane?

I've been wondering for awhile; are all writers a

I have a friend who constantly tells me that I'm crazy (or some variation thereof), and then recovers to say "But you're a's to be expected."

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Good Beginnings

I took a lot of notes at PNWA, so I figured I'd share some of what I learned/heard here.

Rule #1--Whatever you're doing with your character, it must work. (Kind of like the golden rule of writing.)

Aside from that, here are some tips they shared for Good Beginnings:
1) Establish the Tone
        Point of view--do you know who you're going to be spending the next 400 pages  with?
         Conflict--What gets the character moving?
2) Introduce the Protagonist
      Who is she/he?
       What is your protagonist?
        Where is your protagonist?
         What do they want?
           What stands in their way?

Something I learned from these questions?
They help with your pitch and query. A lot.
Any questions?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Your Work, Out Loud

I've written some blogs about ANXIETY and READING OUT LOUD and OVERCOMING the anxiety that comes with reading my work or sharing my work in any way, shape, or form. Something I haven't covered (because it was something I hadn't experienced yet) is having your work read aloud by someone else.

If you haven't done it. Try it. 

At PNWA they had two panels:
1) Query Letter and Synopsis Bootcamp--Agents and Editors went through and read either your query or your synopsis out loud. It was terrifying. Mind numbingly terrifying. The set up was like that of America's Got Talent, you get the three X's and the reader stops reading.
They read mine, mine was voted against (meaning they didn't even read all of it because it was SO bad), and then from what they read, they tore it apart. Thankfully, this was all anonymous. But hearing what I write and say in my head was an eye opening experience. I scurried up after the panel was over and got my paper, folded it up and hid it. (I reworked it hardcore last night...I was taking notes on everything everyone said.)

Right after this was:
2) First Page Feedback--Agents went through your first page and told you pretty much that they didn't like it. I heard a million people get fed to the wolves, and then they read mine. All the way through. I turned red, tried to hide the fact that what they were reading was mine. But...the longer they read, the more I saw my girl through the my guy's eyes, and I loved her, and him.
The agents guessed that the narrator was a guy, that he loved her. The panelists said they LOVED my first line. They pointed out faults that I tried to work on when submitting to the editors and agents who asked for pages. This was an awesome experience. What I wrote came across on the page. It worked! (Though I still had more work to do, I was stoked!)

The panels opened my eyes though, as to how other people read my work. I've never had someone sit in front of me and read my words aloud (I know I turned red when they came across each of my pieces, thankfully no one looked at me. I think we were all terrified). I think from now on, if people have time, I may ask friends to read my work aloud so I can go through and say "Yea, actually, that line sucks."

I guess this is just another step in overcoming anxiety and being brave.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


There's something about traveling that always makes me really sad. Something about having two carry-ons, maybe a checked bag, and hugging someone goodbye. It doesn't matter if I'm gone a week, or ten days...but my heart always aches when I walk through the terminals. I have an urge to stay, to stop feeling like I'm always running away from something...

Saying Bye To Jen

I had an amazing time in Seattle. PNWA was more than I could have asked for. I got to read the entirety of My Friend Leonard. I drank, I got free food, I had tea, I met people, amazing, amazing, people, I got requests, and I was happy.

But...I will write more within the next coming days of my adventures. I just wanted to check in and tell ya'll that I'm home :)

And while you guys may think you're happy to see me again...
Me and Bax

I think this little man is more happy  :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I've told many people about leaving my little east coast and flying across the country to the west. I've told them why; the Pacific Northwest Writing Association conference. They all say 'Oh, you're a writer?' and I have that awkward shift from one foot to the other before saying, 'Yes.'

One of my co-workers (the same one that has been getting on my case and telling me that I'm a terrible employee) cornered me the other day and tried to impart some wisdom on me. He told me not to listen to what anyone had to say, (pretty much that the conferences were worthless, and I won't learn anything) and that I shouldn't read stuff in my genre (you don't need to do any of that). When I tried to tell him what my feelings were, as per usual he didn't listen.

I've also had people say "Don't pitch to an agent. Give them a spin, and ask -them- what they can do for you." When I tried to explain that 90% of this information can be found on their blog, they again refused to listen to me.

So here's my advice:

You go to conferences to hear inteligent people talk. You hear them tell about their experience(s), what they've learned, and the hardships they've gone through. Some, you'll be able to relate to. Some will say insightful things, and some won't. Take what you want out of it. I take about a page per panel of things that I like. I bring a highlighter for things that I really like (because let's be honest, when I take notes, I rarely actually go back through and read the whole page). The biggest things that I've gotten out of conferences is:


Along with that, everyone always tells you to read within your genre, and I agree. But I also think that you should step out of your genre and read other things, too. (I despirately want to read a trashy romance book some day, when I'm less awkward.) Be a well rounded writer and reader. Keep reading, keep writing, keep going.

That is all for today :)

Now to get ready for pre-PNWA stuff!
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