Whole Lotta Love (in Books)

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, a holiday that tends to divide most of the population. Those who love it do so either because they enjoy the romantic elements, or because they are madly in love and appreciate a reason to celebrate that feeling. Others hate it, for reasons as diverse as single-dom to the commercialization of love. I myself always fall with one foot in either camp—while I tend to be fairly evasive when it comes to relationships, I’m also a giant mushball when I’m actually in one.800px-Antonio_Canova-Cupid's_Kiss-3-Hermitage

So, in the spirit of all things loving, romantic, heart-filled, and Valentine’s-oriented, I figured today’s post should address love. Specifically, love in one’s novel.

Once upon a time, I thought I wanted to be a romantic fantasy writer. That is, I wrote Kyresa, a romantic fantasy novel. I’m quite proud of that little baby, and still aim to find her a home, but in the time since finishing the book I’ve stumbled upon some darker roots. This could be a combination of bad love memories, or maybe just an imagination that lends itself to sinister undertones, but dark speculative fiction is the direction of my next novel.

And yet to my surprise, as I set about outlining early last week, I discovered…my story had an embedded romantic plot line! At first, it felt counterintuitive, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured most everyone experiences love, is in love, or wants to be in love, thus making it a natural element for even the least likely of tales. In fact, when I got right down to it, I realized that most of my favorite books included a romantic plot or subplot: The Black Jewels Trilogy, Jane Eyre, The Robber Bride, and The Demon Lover, for example, all have romance weaved into the tale (or as the main tale). The little anti-romantic in me took a pause after that discovery and screamed, “But I like my stories really dark!” Yes, indeed, they can still be dark, but even the deadliest of creatures needs love! 🙂

The element of romance in one’s novel is of course dependent one how big a role it will play in the tale. Is the relationship already established, with the two characters bonded and holding strong together as they face the real essence of the plot? Or, will they meet in the course of the tale, taking the reader along the romantic journey with them? More questions arise as you delve into fictional romantic elements—will their love be traditional or not? Will they fight their romance, or will they fall epically fast? Will their love carry through the whole novel or will the breakup happen in the tale? And of course there comes the big authorial decision (heck, the big romantic life decision)—should they have sex?

While I knew before ever starting to write Kyresa that the romance would begin with a meeting and transform into a full-blown, serious relationship, I’m not as certain where the love story in my current book will lead. Will there be a meeting? Yes. Will there be a love affair? Yes. Will there be sex? Uh, with a succubus as a main character, I’m pretty sure the answer to that is straightforward. Still, do I have any idea what will happen in the long-term? Not a clue. I guess at this stage in my writing, I like my romantic journey to be as mysterious as it is in real life!

So what about you? When you write, do you tend to include romantic plot lines or subplots? Do you have the entire relationship mapped out before you go, or do you sit back and let it unfold as you write?

For those of you who do tend to weave romance into your tales, I’d like to refer you to a lovely little post on romantic plots by writer and blogger Katherine Checkley. It’s an oldie but goodie, and I think worth a read here. Speaking of love—I’d like to thank Catrina Barton, since she kindly nominated me for two blogger awards, the Versatile Blogger and the Very Inspiring Blogger! I’ll try to address both in a future post, but for now, thanks so much, Catrina!

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on writing romance in the comments section below…and in the meantime, love, kisses, and romance to all—in your books and in real life. 🙂

800px-Heart_of_the_Milky_Way_-_Valentine's_Day

 

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Preparing to Start Your Next Novel

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

For the last six months, I’ve sworn that I will be starting my next novel in February. In the meantime, I’ve been tackling oodles of projects, from writing short stories to submitting them, as well as continuing to send Kyresa to various appropriate markets and agents. I knew I wanted the “board clear” when I began writing my next book, so that I could wrap all my focus and determination around crafting my next piece. The truth is, the tale has been bubbling around a bit in my head for almost a year, but having had Kyresa go on for so long, and then having had a full length side project I wanted to tackle first, I needed some time to let it all simmer.

All the same, I’ve been so immersed in these shorter pieces for the last few months, I felt a variety of sensations upon discovering that February starts this Friday: a bit of terror, a lot of anticipation, and overall, a genuine sense of excitement. Fortunately and by fluke coincidence, I’m going to end up with a large chunk of time to write on Thursday, which in turn gives me the opportunity to close up shop on the shorts until I resurface from the first draft of my dark fantasy novel. This means I can wake up Friday to my blaring 4:45 alarm and dive right into it, without any hold ups of what if or but I didn’t or oh I meant to…. Pretty convenient timing, if you ask me. Phew!

So how do I prepare to start my next novel? It’s a great question, with many answers depending on the writer you ask. For me, preparation meant finishing other projects that would eat at me if they weren’t complete. It meant reviewing the [extremely incomplete] rough outline I wrote a year ago about my plans for the book. It also meant bolting upright after a dream at 3 a.m. one night in late December, running to the computer, and frantically typing the first two paragraphs as my protagonist said them to me in my sleep. (Yes, this really happened.)

But I imagine that on Friday, when I sit down to start, I’ll actually be doing much more prep work. Kyresa was less about outlining for me; this was instead something I did after the fact, a way to organize my thoughts and figure out the point of each chapter and where I could move things around. For my next, as-of-yet untitled work, I intend to have a little more of a plan before I launch. I prefer to not know the end when I start, but to at least know a few bumps along the road. If I were to sketch out my narrative arc this Friday, it would probably look like a rocket shooting straight into the sky, waiting for a reason to come back down—and that’s okay with me, for now. While I’ll need to flesh out some more key events, I’ll also write some character sketches to get myself pumped up, and bookmark various informational websites that I’ll need to reference along the way (note: I’ve been fascinated with Russian names, lately, so this will indeed come into play).

In short, if you asked me what I do to prepare for my next novel, I suppose my answer would be, “Type up some quick notes, cross my fingers, hope for the best, and then turn into a shut-in and let it all flow!” 🙂

But what about you?

How do you prepare to start a novel? Do you start on a lam, or do you plan out extensively before you launch, using research, characters sketches, and detailed outlines? What gets you motivated and ready to GO?

Please share your thoughts below!


Where Am I Going, Where Have I Been?

Hello again, Readers!

It’s been a long time away, and I have so many things to share with you! For starters, yes, that title is a reference to the masterful Joyce Carol Oates and her beautiful work, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Has my time away been like 15-year-old Connie’s journey in the story? Golly, no. But it has been a time of discovery in all things writing, and since Joyce Carol Oates’s talent is incredibly admirable to me, I would say that my time away has inspired me to dive headlong into my writing. (And if you are unfamiliar with Ms. Oates, check her out!)

So, what have I been doing for the last six weeks while I broke away from this blog?

TONS.

Here’s a quick list. I…

  • Finished editing a novel-length side project
  • Edited three short stories
  • Researched markets for six short stories and submitted three others
  • Cleaned up my website
  • Started tinkering with ideas for the novel I’ll be starting in February
  • Received super exciting news about a short story I wrote (the official news comes out in May/June; I’m leaving you hanging, sorry!)
  • Read oodles of stories and books, and I mean oodles—a book of short stories, a few stand-alone shorts, a literary novel, an amazing dark fantasy novel, and two YA novels, all of which were great examples of solid writing (which in turn makes me a better writer), and
  • Researched and read a lot of blog articles about fiction authors maintaining blogs, such as these three thoughtful posts by Joel Friedlander, Rachelle Gardner, and Jody Hedlund.

This last bullet point actually led me to some deep thinking about the whole blogging process. I’ve missed posting regularly, but mostly I’ve missed you, my readers! On the other hand, I found in the last six weeks that I was not only less stressed, but I was extraordinarily productive with all my writing plans. When my alarm blared at 4:45 so that I could squeeze my 30 to 45 minutes of writing in before work, I was actually less likely to sleep through it, chuck it across the room, or even allow Sienna Cat to fight with it and bat it off the nightstand (she’s apparently not into the noise). I also found myself coming home more excited to tack on more time, often spending at least an hour, if not two, on something writerly before I fell into a deep, idea-rich slumber.

Another thing I noticed was that, while I’m enjoying reading the blogs that I follow, a lot of posts reflect similar information. That is, an idea, or topic, gets addressed by many of us at some point, often in a short window of time. Most of the time it’s not intentional, but all of the time, it’s inevitable—take for example the three articles I read in a six-week window on authors blogging, and if you google the topic, you’ll find many more. The good news is that this provides interesting perspective and commentary from each author, but the bad is that the whole point of blogging, or one’s “platform,” is to showcase something special and uniquely you.

This put me at a bit of a crossroads. The creative boon is the key piece—I am, after all, a writer, and the only way to be a writer (and eventually get published) is to be a writer and write—and the burst I’ve had in the last six weeks has been amazing. I do enjoy blogging, but for different reasons—namely, connecting with and hearing comments and thoughts from you, my readers. Clearly, some sort of compromise was in order. Would I quit blogging forever? Ha. NO. Would I give up all the writing creativity? Double ha. HECK NO. But…

What I need to do is write.

Frequently.

Constantly.

Repeatedly.

That said, I’ve decided to scale back my blogging a bit. From here forward, I’ll be posting the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. I hope in this way I will (a) still be able to connect with you, providing fresh, informative posts, and (b) be able to continue working on my writing at the productive pace I’ve experienced since the beginning of December. It was a tough decision, I’m not going to lie, but a necessary one.

Knowing that many of my readers are also writers, I’m curious what all of you think about the burning to write or blog question.

Do you find blogging takes away from your writing? Do you love blogging so much/enough that it doesn’t matter? And also, why do you blog?

Please share your thoughts below, I’d love to know!


Break Time

Hello Readers!

After some lengthy deliberation, I’ve decided I need to take a temporary break from this blog. It was a tough choice—I love everything about blogging, including hearing the wonderful thoughts you all have to share—but it’s also a necessary one. Between work and home I’m running around like a maniac, and I’m simply not getting enough creative writing in. This year has been all about me rediscovering my passion for writing, and while I’ve made huge progress, I want to spend the rest of the year making more significant strides toward crafting a body of work.

I plan to return at some point in January with an update and a potential new blogging schedule. I’ll still be accessible on Facebook and Twitter (though I’ve been a terrible tweeter these last few months—bad bird!—but this will change), so please feel free to find me on any of these networks: my Facebook page, my regular Facebook, or on Twitter. You can also sign up for my newsletter by sending an email to EvaRieder-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

If you’d like to know more of what I’m writing, please check out my Flash Fiction Works. I’m working on longer pieces currently, but these should give you a feel for what I’m up to while I’m away.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. May the end of 2012 bring you much happiness, and the start of 2013 bring hope for more to come!

Best wishes,
Eva


Third Thursday Flash Edition Six: “Tribe”

It’s time for the sixth edition of Third Thursday Flash!

Every three weeks, I craft a 500 to 1,000 word flash piece with a theme suggested by my fantastic blog readers. This week’s theme is based on a few sentences a reader sent in to me. Something about them hooked me, and they were: “I’d run into the forest to collect my thoughts. What he’d told me was shocking, unimaginable. Finally still, in the midst of the forest, streaming filters of light scintillating through the dense canopy above me, I began to break it all down. Except, I realized, I was not alone.” So, using those sentences from anonymous reader (thank you!), here’s…

Tribe

I ran into the forest to collect my thoughts.

What he’d told me was shocking, unimaginable—and in the midst of the forest, streaming filters of light scintillating through the dense canopy above me, I began to break it all down.

Permanent.

Survival.

Contagious.

He’s sorry?

My knees buckled beneath me. I collapsed to the earthen floor, digging my fingertips into the soil and burying them like the weight that crushed my lungs and pushed the air from my chest in slow, shallow breaths.

I stared up into the trees, the tears escaping from behind my eyelids and streaming down my cheeks. The green above blocked the sky. It rustled with the wind and blew away all I’d known as I tried to understand the truth he’d whispered into my ear.

Except, I realized, I was not alone.

From the wall of trees around me, their faces emerged. One after another, all of them covered in the same pattern he’d shown me in secret, the swirling designs that spread over their skin as they arrived into this world and before they left for the next.

“Alison.”

His voice came from behind me and I shuffled to face him, the last of those who watched from the trees.

Run.

I couldn’t.

He reached out his hands, turning his palms up in a show of apology. “You know I didn’t mean to.”

“You did,” I whispered. I pressed my forehead against the ground, sobbing as he stepped behind me. The others buried me in their stares while he rested his hands on my back. His touch came hotter than I’d ever felt from him, in all those months together…

“Maybe I did.”

“Why?” I snapped my head up. His eyes, like those from the trees behind him, were the only ones that would ever understand what had happened to me.

What he did to me.

“Because I love you, and I don’t want to be alone anymore,” he said. He grabbed my elbows and stood me up, propping me against the warmth of his chest. “Neither do you.”

“You aren’t alone,” I said. I pointed at the trees. “You have all of them.”

He shook his head. “They’re not real, Alison. Ancestors. They’re only a whisper now.”

“Which we’ll be too!” I tried to tug myself away but he held firm. “You could have offered me the choice.” I squeezed my eyes shut.

“It will be a lifetime until we’re like them—and I did offer you the choice.”

His words echoed, filling the space around us and ringing in my ears. Had I said yes? Every hint, every conversation, every time I told him I couldn’t stand the world around me and I marveled at his life, and what he was. Every time I told him this world had nothing for me.

“I did,” he repeated. “Many times. And you said you wanted it to be different. You wanted to feel something different.”

I froze. A tingle spread across my skin, starting cold and turning hot, like a gentle lapping of bath water against my arms and legs. He saw it in my face and nodded before I looked down.

“You’ll be happier, Alison. I promise. We’ll be together, not living in two separate worlds anymore…”

My skin changed then, lines of brown and red etching themselves starting at my elbow. The trails ran like veins up and down my arms, swirling into patterns like the ones on his ancestors. He took my hands and stretched out my arms, smiling as the colors spread against my tanned skin. A similar etch traced his own arms.

“We can be together if you really want this, Alison.” He ran his finger along my cheek. “And if you don’t want it, there’s only one way to stop it. But you have to do it now.”

He drew a knife from his pocket, aiming the tip at his chest and nodding at me. His eyes shined as bright as the day we met, and his cheeks flushed the rose tint they always did just before he said the words.

“I love you,” he said, “and I did it for you. Choose to be with me, like this, or…”

The pattern spread to my hands. Beneath my clothes, I felt it spilling further across my flesh, changing me into a mirror image of what he was. I stared at the intricate lines along his arms and face as he began to pull away, to dissolve. Behind him, the ancestors disappeared into the trees, camouflaged, airy beings that no one of this world would ever see.

Except me?

My body began floating, leaving with him—two creatures who would never fit here.

“Alison?” He held the knife out.

I grabbed the handle. The smile in his eyes changed to fear.

Then it washed away.

“Go ahead,” he said. “Whatever you wish. I love you, and I respect your choice.”

The warmth stretched across my stomach and down my legs, and as I peered at my arms they began to match my surroundings, camouflaging me as I became one with the air. The sunlight breaking through the trees shimmered over us, lightening that which became so much harder to see.

I tossed the knife to the forest floor.

“I love you,” I said.

And then we vanished.

***

Thanks for reading the sixth edition of Third Thursday Flash!

 


Chapter Length

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I’m convinced I have mild O.C.D. It usually centers around the door to my house or my car being locked, or even the oven being left on, but occasionally certain organizational things will kick it into gear.

So what on earth does my O.C.D. have to do with chapter length?

Perhaps it’s my little obsession, but chapter length fascinates me. It’s more prevalent when I’m acting as a reader as opposed to a writer, but chapter length is something I’ve thought about more often than I should probably admit. Still, I wonder if others have the same question on the topic as I do…while there is no official “perfect” chapter length, is there a perfect chapter length for each individual reader?

Scene breaks tend to come naturally to us as writers, each segment carrying the action forward until a pause between high points is used to pace the story’s momentum. In much the same way, we use chapters to break our tale. They are a transitional tool carrying the story from one incident to the next, and ideally, they end with at least a small cliffhanger that drives readers to turn the page. Sometimes a chapter will run longer than others, and for some writers, the chapter breaks occur at surprisingly regulated intervals. In reality, the lengths are completely arbitrary.

Let me assure you—when I write, I do not count out each chapter’s pages and launch a tantrum if I’ve missed the mark, nor do I keep count and call “Chapter break!” when I’ve hit the requisite number of pages. Both scenarios would be ludicrous. But when I finished Kyresa, I did spend some time counting pages in each section and chapter, seeing if in changing the story’s order a tad I could also balance out the chapter lengths. Surprisingly, in most cases my chapter fascination and story flow worked in a fairly collaborative manner. (Math brain meets English brain moment? One will never know…)

I’ve learned I’m more particular about chapter lengths as a reader. Long chapters frustrate me. I have only small windows of time to read, and while I can put a book down at a scene break, I’d rather pause at a more dramatic and memorable intermission. Shorter chapters are fantastic because I can read one, check the clock, and get that rush of staying up too late in order to read just one more!

Will I throw a book down because of chapter length? No. I’m not that OCD. But it’s definitely something ticking away in the back of my mind. Short chapters with similar lengths and natural breaks seem to lend to my enjoyment of a book (the icing on the cake of plot and writing, of course).

So what about you—do you have an opinion on this? For those of you who write, do you try to find balanced page lengths in your chapters, or does it come naturally? Or do you not even think about it?

What about on the reader side of things—do you have a preference?

Please share your thoughts below. I’d love to know!

I’ve included some links on chapter length and transitions below. Be sure to check them out, and don’t forget to send your Third Thursday Flash idea submissions in by 8 p.m. PST tonight!

In the meantime, happy reading and writing, everyone! 🙂

Other Articles Related to Chapter Breaks:

How to End a Chapter, via The Editor’s Blog

Chapter and Novel Lengths, via All Write — Fiction Advice

Chapter Length, via Wen Spencer on Goodreads


Third Thursday Flash Postponed Until…Next Week

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

By now I imagine many of you are stretched out on the couch, digesting the delicious and large meal that we all tend to indulge in for the Thanksgiving holiday. I know I’m still recovering myself, but after stuffing my face I came home to tackle my [extremely late] blog post. Last week, I put out a call for ideas and mentioned that this week’s edition would be the “Turkey Edition.” It sounded fun at the time, but it didn’t stir up many ideas.

In truth, this morning I toyed around with the turkey idea a bit, but what I came up with ended up feeling like it needed far more time and attention than a 500 to 1,000 word blog post. I decided maybe Third Thursday Flash, The Turkey Edition needed to be chucked out the window.

So instead of writing a turkey piece today, I will be holding off on Third Thursday Flash, Edition Six, until next week. I am putting out another submission call for anyone who would like to participate, open until 8 p.m. PST on Monday the 26th. Please send along a couple of words, a first line, or a theme that you would like me to use to craft a 500 to 1,000 word flash fiction piece for next week’s post. You can send this idea to evariederauthor@gmail.com.

Sorry for the delay, and in the meantime, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, ate lots of food, and spent lots of good time with people they adore. I know I did—and now I’m pretty sure it’s time for my tryptophan-induced coma. 🙂


Giving Thanks in Thirty

There’s been an awesome phenomenon going around Facebook lately: the Thirty Days of Thanks posts in honor of Thanksgiving. I think it’s important to remember all that we have and are blessed with in our lives, and unfortunately, I didn’t catch on to the trend until too late to join in.

However, with Thanksgiving in a few days, I decided I’d do my own Thirty Days of Thanks in one post! The following are things in my life that I am incredibly thankful for, and they come in no particular order except the very first one. 🙂

I am grateful for…

  1. YOU, my blog readers. Thanks for joining me as I meander along in my writing journey, and for sharing your thoughts back!
  2. Parents—all four of them!—who love and support me.
  3. Outstanding friends that do the same, especially
  4. Two dear friends who have put up with me for 19 years. You two are the best! XO
  5. A sister I grow closer with each day. (Love you, sisser face!)
  6. A niece I adore that makes me laugh with her adorable 5-year-old ways.
  7. Two mischievous yet ridiculously cuddly cats. (One is sleeping in my lap as I type this.)
  8. A roof over my head in a safe neighborhood.
  9. Food in my belly, always. (And I mean always, since I seem to eat every five seconds.)
  10. Wonderful colleagues, many of them friends at
  11. A job that I enjoy, and which provides me an income to do the things outside of work that I like to do, such as
  12. Vacations around the world and
  13. Going out and having fun. Then there is…
  14. The safe birth of my friend’s way-too early baby (so glad she got to the hospital early enough! Rooting for you, little one!).
  15. A second credential in English, which just made work twice as fantastic.
  16. A working, healthy body that allows me to live my life and stay active.
  17. Creativity, and the ability to use it.
  18. Rediscovering my passion for writing after ignoring it for far too long.
  19. Connecting with other writers both on the blogsphere and in person, especially
  20. Superb writing mentors and friends and
  21. People who are excited about my writing. Then of course, there are the little things, but as an “I have a glass! Yay!” kind of optimist, they make me happy too—things like:
  22. An organized bulletin board of writing projects.
  23. A gym in my condo complex, as well as a pair of hot tubs and a beautiful running trail.
  24. An antenna that lets me watch my favorite shows in high-definition without having to pay for cable.
  25. A hallway full of family and friend photos.
  26. A new housecleaner who rocks my world.
  27. A super fast typing speed that makes writing a breeze.
  28. My spiffy new Macbook, which paired with my desktop computer, gives me maximum writing options!
  29. My expensive but comfortable bed, and of course
  30. Books!

Thanks for reading the short list of things I’m thankful for in my life. I could go on, truly, because I don’t think that a list of thirty things is long enough to cover all that I appreciate. Especially my #1—thank you for you, readers! 🙂

I hope that all of you have an opportunity to find at least one thing you are thankful for this week, and that you all have a happy Thanksgiving. In the meantime, don’t forget, the submission call for Third Thursday Flash Edition Six: The Turkey Edition, is still open until 8 p.m. PST tonight. Can’t wait to see your ideas…gobble gobble! 🙂


Liebster Award…Take Two!

***See end of post for information on the theme call for next week’s Third Thursday Flash: The TURKEY Edition!***

A little over a week ago, I was honored with two awards in one day. Wow! Today I’d like to discuss the second of the two, the Liebster, which comes to me from the wonderful Katherine Checkley—thanks so much, Katherine! Katherine runs a beautiful and informative blog called The Intrinsic Writer, which deals with all sorts of writerly topics. Katherine’s is a great voice, and this is why it’s such a compliment that she nominated me for my second Liebster Award. 🙂

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

  • Post eleven random things about you.
  • Answer the eleven questions provided by the giver for you.
  • Create eleven questions for the people you nominate.
  • Choose eleven people to award and send them a link to your post. Go to their page and tell them.
  • No tag backs.

Eleven Facts About Me:

  1. I eat cold sweet potatoes almost daily as a quick snack, and I keep them pre-baked and grab-able in my fridge.
  2. I “run hot” most of the time. Fortunately, I prefer tank tops.
  3. I own enough high-heeled shoes to fill a small closet—and I have a small closet actually filled with said shoes.
  4. I am addicted to Trader Joe’s apple/pumpkin/cranberry-apple butter. Yum!
  5. I’ve been getting up between 4:45 a.m. and 5:15 a.m. almost every weekday to squeeze some writing in before work. (I’m still not entirely sure why this is working for me, but it is.)
  6. I like the smell of paper. In fact, I worked at a print shop for two years in college, and I used to love to smell every type of paper and report a scent description to my colleagues. They thought I was weird. Go figure.
  7. I love baking cookies for friends and colleagues.
  8. I have an impressive Venetian mask collection hanging around my house. (I might have as many masks as I have heels, come to think of it…)
  9. I have only been in eleven U.S. states: California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, West Virginia, Hawaii, and Florida for a day or more, and New York and North Carolina for under twelve hours each. How sad!
  10. My favorite show is Vampire Diaries. An extremely close second is Fringe. They have clever writing, fascinating topics, and beautiful casts on both!
  11. I love candy, and I have since I was a little kid. It’s kind of a problem…

My Eleven Questions to Answer:

  1. Have you ever seen a ghost/spirit? If so, tell me about it. If not, do you believe in ghosts/spirits? I haven’t, but I do believe in them.
  2. What’s your favorite movie from the 1980s? That’s easy—Who’s That Girl. I’m a crazy Madonna fan, and that was one of my first Madonna memories.
  3. What do you wish you knew in high school that you know now? So many things! Mostly, that if it seemed like people weren’t telling the truth, then no amount of convincing could make it any different.
  4. What’s your favorite cocktail or alcoholic beverage? A lemon drop floated with Chambord. Yum!
  5. What’s your favorite vegetable? I’m fond of just about every vegetable other than asparagus. However, I eat spinach and brussel sprouts the most. This is hilarious if you know me, since I grew up hating brussel sprouts but “trained” myself to like them. Now I actually really enjoy them!
  6. What’s one band or artist you love that goes against your normal range of musical taste? My normal range is pretty much all over the map, so I don’t know that there’s anything against normal for me. Though, as a huge Madonna and pop fan, I suppose mentioning I also love Tool, Stabbing Westward, and some Metallica might be unusual…
  7. What’s your favorite Disney movie? No hesitation: Sleeping Beauty. Whenever I read it to my niece before bedtime, there is inevitably the moment I bust out singing “Once Upon a Dream.” To which she usually rolls her eyes and says, “Auntie Eva, the song is not in the book!” 🙂
  8. What do you think was the most interesting news story of 2012? That women are able to prevent pregnancy during rape by willing it so. News to me. (And horrifically ludicrous news, I might add.)
  9. List all the major cities of the world that you’ve visited. Which was your favorite? Since I haven’t been out of California much (see random fact #9), I also haven’t made it to many major cities. However, if you look at Wikipedia’s List of U.S. Cities, I have apparently been to more than I thought (seriously, Oakland made it on this list?). I’ve been to every major city in California, as well as Washington D.C.; Charlotte, N.C. (though it was an overnight hotel stay only); Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; Reno, NV; Henderson, NV; Las Vegas, NV; and Honolulu, HI. Okay, that list is somewhat depressing. I’m not sure I have a favorite. I love Las Vegas but not for the traditional reasons people love Vegas—I have family there, and stay far away from the Strip—but I also love San Francisco. Er, scratch that. I love Honolulu. I love Hawaii! (Excuse me while I go book a flight back!)
  10. Who is your favorite figure from history? Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, and Mata Hari. Everything about Queen Elizabeth’s era fascinates me (I worked the Renaissance Faire for many years when I was younger), as does her entire life story. Cleopatra intrigues me more for her romance with Antony, but I also love the time period. Mata Hari has captivated me since I read a book about her in my teens—a seductress spy whose failing was to fall in love? Intense.
  11. What current song can’t you stand? Kesha’s “Die Young.” I try, try, try to appreciate Kesha, since I know my kids are listening to her—but I just can’t pretend on this one.

Phew. Those were surprisingly challenging questions by Katherine! 🙂 Now on to…

Eleven Questions for Those I’ve Nominated:

  1. What is your favorite musical decade?
  2. List your travel destinations of the past. Which one is your favorite?
  3. Do you live where you want to reside, and if not, where would you move?
  4. If you had to go back to school today to follow a new career path, what would you study?
  5. What is your favorite wild animal?
  6. If you could board a time machine and live in any place and time, where would you go?
  7. What is your favorite song of the moment?
  8. What genre do you prefer reading that is distinctly different from what you write?
  9. You and your laptop are on an adventure to write in the most blissful setting possible (free of charge). Where do you go?
  10. What is the book you read (or were read) as a child that charmed you the most?
  11. If you pick an actor or actress to play the lead role of your most recent work, whom would you choose, and why?

Okay, on to the nominees…Having just nominated five fantastic bloggers last week, and having discovered that all of my favorite bloggers are people I nominated the last time I sent a Liebster around, I have decided to break the rules (for shame, Rieder!)…I am nominating only two people. While I am issuing an honorary Liebster to the five people I nominated for The Illuminating Blogger Award, the following are two people whose blogs are full of great information, and whose posts I always look forward to reading!

Thanks for the engaging posts, you two! Well done, and keep up the outstanding work. And of course, thanks again to Katherine Checkley for nominating me! 🙂

Before I wrap this post up, I want to remind everyone that next week is the sixth edition of Third Thursday Flash—meaning theme submissions are open now until Monday the 19th at 8 p.m. PST! Since this particular edition will fall on Thanksgiving, I’m officially entitling it Third Thursday Flash, the Turkey Edition. That’s right: The TURKEY Edition! Interpret as you like, and send along an idea, pair of words, sentence, or theme that you would like me to craft into a flash fiction piece for next week’s Third Thursday Flash. You can send your ideas to evariederauthor@gmail.com.

Thanks for participating and reading, everyone!


Why Aren’t I Doing NaNoWriMo?

It’s November—the month of writing mayhem! 🙂

If you’re a writer, you are well aware of NaNoWriMo. For those who aren’t familar, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which rolls around every November. It’s a time when many writers take on the challenge of crafting 50,000 words of a novel (broken up over 30 days, that’s an average of about 1,667 words per day). For experienced and new writers alike, this month is a popular one to dive into the challenge—and to help keep authors motivated and on task, the NaNoWriMo website hosts special day challenges, word counts, forums, and lots of support. In many ways, it’s a great banding together of the writing world.

So as many writer friends (and non-writer friends alike) have asked, why aren’t I doing it?

For the last two years, I’ve intended to participate in NaNo. While 50,000 words is only the start of a novel, I liked the idea of a camaraderie with other writers involved. Writing is a completely independent art—which is why we often encourage one another to attend conferences and workshops, or to start critique groups so that we don’t disappear in the confines of our offices and forget to share our work with one another. With this collaborative spirit in mind, it seems I should have signed right up.

Last year, I was heavy in the throes of finishing my first real novel, Kyresa. I toyed with the idea of stopping to create something new during NaNo, but doing so would have stalled my momentum on a book that had to finally be finished. I’m glad I held firm on that.

This year, I considered the idea again—especially because this time, one of my closest friends (a romance writer) decided to go for it. Cheering each other on like we did in high school sounded superb.

But again I had to pause and take a deep breath while I thought about the possibility. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I just started my new gig as an English teacher—which I’m loving—but it’s still taking some adjusting (read: paper grading) as I try to also maintain my writing life. In addition, I’m still in that unpacking stage of my recent move (read: curtain rods remain on the floor!).

And of course, there was the bigger issue: I promised myself after my July writing conference that I would take some time to craft shorts and finish editing another piece until the month of February. I made this decision with the goal of learning how to start and finish, over and over, so that I would never drag a novel out like I did with my first one again. Thus, February has long been set in my head as the month I intend to start my next full-length piece. 

I am a woman of strong conviction once I make up my mind, but until then I’m as indecisive as they come. So I wavered back and forth on this, between the lure of the “team,” the best friend, and even multiple blogger pals getting involved…plus those nifty word counters sure are fun…

And then I put my foot down. My enthusiasm over building a collection of shorts is high, and some small semblance of sleep is important to me in this adjustment period to my new house and job. So…no NaNoWriMo for me, and I’m okay with it!

Instead, I’m opting to stand on the sidelines and cheer all my fellow NaNo writer pals on. I’ve been the biggest cheerleader for those I support for as long as I can remember (which is funny, since I never was a real cheerleader), and there’s no reason I can’t do that for all of my NaNo-ing peeps. Go team! While all of you are working away at creating the awesome 50,000 words you’re aiming for this month, I’ll still be writing alongside you. I’m not counting my words, and I’m not building a novel just yet, but I’m excited for every one of you. I’ve got pom-poms in the air, foot kicked high, and pigtails swinging in the breeze. Ra-ra. Yay-you. Goooooooo Team Writers!

Keep up the good work, everyone! Can’t wait to hear about your NaNoWriMo progress. 🙂


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