For A Limited Time Only: The CVS Incident

15 Mar

So, I wanted a soda at lunch today and decided to run into CVS and get one.

When I got to the in there was one cashier working, a 90 year-old woman at the register and one person in front of me.

Unfortunately, the 90yow was writing a check. She had really shaky hands and it was obviously hard for her. But, when she was almost done. She realized she forgot to ask for cigarettes. So then she had to pull the check out and tear it up. This physically looked painful. Then she had to start the new check. At this point I’d probably been waiting about 7 mins. But what are you going to do? That’s going to be all of us some day (sans the cigarettes).

The cashier called for help about 4 times as the line behind me grew. The line was up to 6 people when a new register opened at the other end. I tapped the woman in front of me on the shoulder because she didn’t notice and pointed her down.

She had about 10 items and as she was wrapping up a huge man walked up behind her and went next.

There are now about 8 people in our (apparently invisible) line.

The woman behind me says, “Looks like you’re not next.”

The woman behind her says, “Figures.”

I say, “Nope. I’m not next. But there’s always one.”

The man doesn’t glance our way. The poor 90yow is still trying to write check number 2.

A third register opens up at about the 11 minute mark and I go to it.

The giant of a man comes over to me and says (very aggressively), “I was in the cards. How was I supposed to know how this works.”


ME: “Well, just in case you ever have to go into a CVS again, if there are people standing in a straight line at the front of the store. It’s called a line and you’re supposed to wait at the end of it.”

Keep in mind, at this point there are like 10 people in the line. There is ZERO chance you could over look it. You know the saying, “A blind person would notice it” – well, they would, because you had to walkthroughthe line to get to stuff…which he did.

He starts yelling at me: “Yeah. I heard you talking about me (from the line he didn’t notice apparently) and you look like someone who goes in a lot of CVSs.”

I turn and look at him. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN???

ME: Well, this is good for you, because I’m sure you’ll end up somewhere else where there’s a line one day. And maybe you’ll get at the end of it.

At this point, I hear quiet applause from behind us, but when I turn around, everyone is looking away.

HIM: Yeah. I’m sure you stand in a lot of lines.


So, he say, “I don’t have time for you. I’m in a rush.”

Obviously this is why he has jumped the cue. So he heads out the door.

Only when I get out there, he’s sitting in his car glaring at me come out. So great. Now I’m driving back to work with my finger on the last 1 in 911 and watching my rearview mirror.

So, whatever you do – do NOT mess with me.

I’m someone who has been in A LOT of CVSs.


#WordFool – Upping the Ante

14 Mar

So, you dove in and you’re writing to hit goal every day. Things are going pretty well… But that Bria, she’s evil, right?

I warned you all yesterday something was coming and you weren’t going to like it *evil laughter*

I’ve been talking to several people about the Used’taBeen of writing. When we first started and people were constantly in different chatrooms throwing down in challenges. I began to wonder why that wasn’t as much the case any more.

So I’ve asked people how writing in an online community has changed over the years. I had some thoughts of my own and what I heard reinforced those ideas.

Before twitter and all the other social media we use constantly, chatrooms were one of the few places to meet-up with other writers. And when you went in them, it was typically to write (and if it wasn’t, someone would say, hey. Aren’t we going to write?)

And so, here’s the challenge. You don’t have to take it up, but I’m daring you 🙂

There are three weekends in WordFool. From Friday at 7pm thru Monday 1am, anyone who stays off extraneous gets one more point.

Yup. One more point for you (and your team) for prizes.

What is “extraneous” you ask? Well, let me give you an idea:

  • Twitter. Oh, my beloved twitter. You are extraneous.
  • Facebook. We don’t hangout that much, but you won’t be seeing me on you for the next few weekends
  • Forums. Yes, even “lurking”
  • Chats. I know this sounds backwards, but I’m talking about those “chatty, we don’t do anything but be social” chats. Not working chats.
  • IMing, DMing, OtherMing I don’t know about…anything that drags your attention away
  • Pinterest *sobs*

You get the idea, but we can discuss things further.

This is obviously an honor system thing. But all of #wordfool is.

And, don’t worry – there’s more torture to come 🙂


I’m posting a chat challenge schedule on the #wordfool page. Please comment on that page if you’d like to:

  • Volunteer to whip during a time listed
  • Want to set up a different time.

Keep in mind: You can use the chat room ANY TIME YOU WANT. But we’re just putting some times out there that people will be guarenteed to find others to write with.


We’re going to go old-school on this:

  • Some one sounds the *whip* to start.
  • The *whip* sound happens again after 20 mins to signal the end
  • There will be 3-5 min break to share snippets or run to the bathroom 🙂
  • No one HAS to share a snippet – it’s completely voluntary.
  • All snippets shared must stay PG13. This is non-negotiable.
  • Everyone will crit politely. CRIT. If you post something, be prepared to get some gentle comments.
  • If people’s comments are not gentle, they will get an email from me… please be kind

REVIEW: A Week to Be Wicked, Tessa Dare

13 Mar

I was lucky enough to have a magic ARC of Tessa Dare’s A Week to be Wicked appear in my email box. BAM! Magic.

Let me start by saying, Tessa Dare is one of my go-to authors. In a time when I’d started to overdose on historicals and was feeling the burnout of repetition, I picked up Tessa’s first book… and never looked back.

WICKED continues her run of strong stories that suck you in on page one and keep you laughing with (and sometimes at) the characters.

Strong hints that aren’t quite spoilers below.

WICKED is the story of two people who are completely different and utterly the same.

Geologist Minerva Highwood loves rocks. Men, not so much. It’s more that she doesn’t like one specific man – the rake who has been sniffing around her stunningly beautiful sister.

Lord Payne – Colin – is, well he’s a mess. A really adorable, loveable, hot, sweet mess. You can’t help but love him even as he continues to mess up. He’s also one of the best Damaged Heroes I’ve read in quite awhile.

But, Minerva has had enough. She’s going to stop Lord Payne from proposing to her sister, even if it means facing him down in his room at midnight. And to make sure he won’t, she has a deal for him: Help her get to Edinburgh to present her geological findings with a fake elopement and she’ll give him 500 Pounds from her earnings.

Unfortunately for Colin, he says the wrong thing…of course. Who would believe plain, over-looked, bookish Minerva would catch his eye. But Colin shows her just how he’d convince them – every look, every word, every thought. Minerva, just that moment, falls under his spell. But when the spell is broken, it leaves them even further apart than when she’d stormed in.

The beautiful thing about Colin is he truly does manage to see the beauty in Min. Even in the beginning when he’s playing a part he’s being as seduced by his own words as she is. It left me thinking, when? When did Colin’s lies become the truth?

And once Colin falls, he’s done for even if he doesn’t realize it. But there it is. The lies have become truth and the problem is, does he understand that? Maybe.

The bigger problem: Does she?

After falling in love with Colin and Min, I’ve created a new category for all those year-end awards lists: Best Marriage Proposal in a Historical. Let’s put it this way: A Week to be Wicked would be competing against itself in the character – One to make you laugh and one to make you cry.

Which pretty much sums up Min and Colin’s entire love affair.

A WEEK TO BE WICKED is out March 27th 2012. Final say: Pre-Order it now.

#WordFool – And So It Begins

12 Mar

Starting something – anything – is scary and exciting and invigorating and paralyzing. beginnings can mesh into every emotion and confuse the heck out of us.

For me, personally – I find them exciting and energizing. A new goal — a shiny, happy, nothing’s gone wrong yet goal – is like an adventure that I haven’t opened the map on yet…anything could happen.

So, as we kickoff WordFool, tell me: How do you feel? What’s a beginning to you? One day in, how are you looking at your goal?

Any way you look at it, we’re all one day closer to meeting it!

#WordFool – Last Chance Summary

10 Mar

Welcome to all the Word Fool Challengers! I’m excited to see how much everyone gets done! Here’s a last minute round-up.  So, check out everything going on below 🙂


Everyone picked a daily goal. This is a daily goal. Meaning, you have to hit the goal that day. No carry over points (yup, I’m a task master, but I’m also a little nervous. I love carry over points!) The goal minimums are:

  • 1 page written per day,
  • 100 words written per day, or
  • 2 pages revised per day


If racing a clock or sharing your writing time helps, check this out! Our very own chat challenge room on the #WordFool page (points up to the page bar)

 Challenge room rules:

  • The room is for writing time. Please be respectful of other’s often limited time and keep chatter to twitter and chat room DMs (click on the person’s name in the list for a private window to open)
  • No writing samples over PG13. Please don’t say, “Is it okay?” because that puts people on the spot. Feel free to share anything else
  • Let’s have a sprint format to simplify things. When sprints are going on, they run 20 mins and they’re started and stopped by the Timer. The Timer notes the start with a countdown, a *whip* and marking the end time. Time ends again when you hear the *whip*


We’re going to have a bunch of teams! I’m really excited. I expected to have three friends to be forced into doing this with me (everyone ignore Kristen’s slightly-more-than-implied statement about being forced).

Check back later tonight on the #WordFool Page (points up again) to find out who is on your team.

Once you have your team, you’re going to need a captain and a team name.

The captain will:

  • Send me the list of people who hit their goals at least SIX days that week
  • Track those people each week and give them one point a week to report at the very end


We had a whole bunch of great prizes thrown in the ring. Each round we’ll have 2 prizes given away:

  • 1 drawing is from everyone who hit her goal 6 days that week
  • 1 drawing is from the number 1 team that week

At the end, there will be an additional prize drawing from everyone who stuck with it!


But, I bet you’re wondering what the prizes are? Well, the winner will get to pick from the below list, first come/first serve:

I hope you’re all getting ready to go! If you haven’t signed up yet, you can until tonight at 5pm HERE. The more the merrier!

#WordFool – Getting Ready

9 Mar

So, you signed up to be on a #WordFool Team (or if you didn’t, you’re rushing right over to HERE to do it when you’re done reading this post) and you need to get prepared!

Here’s some things to do this weekend.

FIRST: Tell your writing friends! Yes, tell them now. Every time I do a challenge — every time — day 1 and 2 are filled with requests to join a team late because they’re just seeing the challenge kick in.

To keep things simple, there will be not late joins this time around. So, make sure your writing friends know in case they want to race you to April Fools Day.

SECOND: Know what you’re going to work on. I know, that seems obvious, but do the page counts. If you’re doing 5 pages a day and only have 20 pages left in this ms, you’re going to be done in week one. Will you write something else? Do a read thru on a different story? What?

THIRD: Laundry! Okay, Laundry is a catch-all for all those errands you can get out of the way this weekend. Make a game of it – how much can you get done. Every time you check something off the list, pat yourself on the back. That’s one less thing that will take away from your writing time.

FOURTH: Let the people in your life know: Hey, I’m joining this crazy writing challenge this month and I may not answer the phone when you call to chat. I’ll call you back when I can give you all my attention 🙂

FIVE: Make yourself some time of countdown or add up deal. The best part of a writing challenge is it has an end date and a page/word count goal. You’re working TOWARD something. It isn’t a random, hazy thing. A jar of pebbles, a calendar to cross off, something that lets you watch yourself get closer to the goal.

SIX: Get ready to win! Any time you get words on the page, you’re winning. While we’ll have prizes along the way, it never hurts to reward yourself. A mani/pedi? A babysitter and a movie? Date night? Something you’d love to have. What would it take to “earn” those? Set your goal now and get ready to go!

EDITED TO ADD: It was suggest by someone that I point out you can subscribe to the blog at the very bottom of the page so you don’t miss anything during #WordFool. Don’t feel bad if you unsubscribe when it’s over.

So, if you haven’t done it already, go HERE and sign  up in the comments section. Deadline is 5pm Saturday so I can put the teams together.

Good luck WordFools!

Word Fool – You Know You Wanna

8 Mar

What is it:

Word Fool is a writer’s race to April Fools Day. We’re going to get that writing pulse kicked up again and start churning out the words!

It kicks off Sunday March 11th and pumps through Saturday March 31st.

How to play along:

Make a goal, follow along on Twitter at #wordfool, report in here daily, everyone wins.

The details:

  • Each writer must pick a page or word goal for the three-week run
  • Page goal minimum: 1 page/day
  • Word goal minimum: 100 words/day
  • Revising page goal minimum: 2 pages/day
  • To be eligible for the weekly prize drawing, you must meet your goal 6 days out of 7 that week


YES! We might do teams. If we get 8 or more people, we’ll be breaking it out and throwing down team-style.


EDITED: We’ve gotten some great prize donations! We’ll be able to do weekly and overall prizes. If you’d like to offer something up as a prize, please let me know!!! 

Right now we have:

    • Edit Cards from Bria
    • A Kindle copy of It’s in His Kiss
    • 1 print book in genre of choice from Sabrina Shields
    • 1 audio book in genre of choice from Sabrina Shields
    • A 2nd audio book in genre of choice from Sabrina Shields


  • Want to join? Comment here with your goal!
  • If you have a twitter address, share it in your comment
  • For info, I’m at @briaquinlan
  • Deadline to join: Saturday the 10th by 5pm EST

FWIS: Inspiration… or You’ve Already Got the Ruby Slippers

7 Mar

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m doing with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s something people look for everywhere. In music, movies, books, nature, other people…everywhere.  Whenever you own up to writing, one of the first questions people ask is, “Where do you get your inspiration?”

I’m going to say something sacrilegious: I don’t believe inspiration is the real question. I believe the question is, when, for that split second a beautiful thought flits through your mind, what do you do with it?

All around us are little stories waiting to take shape – or flight. We’re all constantly retelling situations, rehashing old arguments, replaying love stories gone wrong, pondering what would have happenes, upgrading our own lives through our imaginations.

There, there is where the inspiration is. Not in finding those things, but in grabbing them.

I’d challenge anyone who claims to never be inspired.

Do you dwell in your thoughts? Do you let yourself live in those flit moments to see where they’ll go? Marinate them?

Are you prepared for them when they come? Do you keep a notebook or other way to record those ideas on hand?

Do you go back to them? Not every idea flies the first time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t busy growing its wings.

Do you understand that every idea may not be the beginning or ending of a story? Maybe not even a turning point or the black moment. Sometimes it’s those beautiful, peaceful things we have to blink away that open us into a new world.

Do you take the time to play with ideas that can’t… or won’t… work? Sometimes the things we end up throwing away are the things we learn the most from. No writing is a waste. Every word written is a deeper skill built.

So, stop looking at the clouds and the stars and the moon and the sea and the flowers and wherever else it is that you look for your inspiration. Just like Dorothy found out, it was in you all along. Grab your gentle-mental butterfly net and grasp them as they flit by.


When you’ve got your health (you can write more)

24 Feb

I’d told my friends it wasn’t a secret, so it wasn’t a surprise when I started getting emails and DMs about where I’ve been for the last 2 weeks. I don’t usually write such personal blogs, but since this has been put out there, I thought I’d do The Big Share.

If you haven’t met me (or seen that author photo Jeannie Lin made useable for me) then I’ll tell you: I’m pale, blond with light eyes, of almost 100% Irish decent and have a history of skin cancer in my family.

I’m guessing you’re guessing where this is going.

The last few years have been hard. I know you know that. You watched me struggle after my last job went south with getting rid of my apartment and car, selling my furniture and a good portion of my belongings, the rest being subjected to a flood where they were stored (not once, but twice) and generally just struggling to find contract work and retail jobs to stay above water. I’d always been one of those “But I have my health” people because when I was in college I didn’t have my health (a situation that could return but I’ve been blessed that it never has – a definite blessing!)

It had been a few years since I’d had to have something biopsied (it was benign) but a few weeks ago I was trying on a dress at a store. But, here’s the funny part. The dress zipped fine on the hanger, but on me it got stuck. So I went out to the three-way mirror to see what it was stuck on and instead saw not one, but two blotches that fit the ABCD Rule. When I stopped hyperventilating, I took the dress off and… yeah. It zipped just fine again off the hanger. We still don’t know what it was stuck on (it was too big anyway, not that I was in the mood to buy anything right then.)

I went home, had a friend take a picture of them and called my doctor. My primary care phsysician has been great. The office always answers things on the phone when they can. After seeing the photos I’d sent over, she said, “You need to be seen right away.” The only appointment they had was for 2 months from then and she was adament that we’d have to work something else out because that wasn’t soon enough for the evidence she was seeing.

*cue panic*

Now, the panic comes in waves at this point. I had no idea how long they’d been there since I can’t see them (and no one else could either since I don’t go out topless. I know, I live such a boring life, right?) – also, and this is where I’ll refrain from ranting – I didn’t have health insurance.

I’m in the lovely state of Massachusetts where you’ve been told we all magically have health insurance. This is a lie, but that’s another blog. Quickest summary: I’ve been un/underemployed for 4 years. I’ve been trying to get on Mass Health. By the time I somehow was told I didn’t qualify (even though my tax returns say I should have been qualifying all 4 years) I’d timed out of my opportunity to sign up for the Health Connector for this year…by 4 business days. And was told, Oh, well.

I started calling to get prices for uninsured testing in my state. Every freaking place gave me a lecture on the legality of not having health care. Not one person believed me that I was currently fighting the state to be allowed to pay for health insurance out-of-pocket. This has become the medical attitude here. It’s something that’s been discussed, blogged about and covered in newspapers. Also, all of our clinics are closed so there’s no such thing as those cheap walk-ins any more… you know, because we all have health care *not*

The cost (obviously) wasn’t doable. One of the downsides of living in MA is that we have some of the best hospitals in the world. People try to come here to study, work, intern and get help…and so the cost is out of control.

On the other hand, my mother lives in South Carolina. Let’s just put it this way, to walk into a skin care clinic (yes, one that specializes and everything) there costs about 21% of one up here – and that’s just the “sit in here and put this paper fake-shirt thing on” cost.

So, I drove down there and saw the specialist. And, wow – what an amazing experience. They were great. They worked with me around testing and cost and all that stuff no one up here worries about any more since we have forced health coverage (is still grumbling because she just got the FINE she has to pay for being turned down by the state…and done again.)

As I was saying before my grumpy alter ego interrupted us: The doctor was amazing. After she asked me where I got my shoes, she tested what needed to be tested, she said she was doing deeper cuts on the new ones because if they were bad she’d get them all and I wouldn’t have to pay to come back, she kept me calm (I hate needles – I threatened to throw up on here).

The needle work itself was way easier than I remembered (which makes me think I need a new dermatologist up here). I was numb from the injections for a while which made the drive back to my mom’s a piece of cake 🙂  The next couple days were sore and itchy. The biopsies were all in awkward places that mean I can’t do weights or cardio. I’ve been feeling grouchy about trying to stay sedentary so the ones in bendy places will heal.

The waiting wasn’t bad as bad as the trying-to-find-a-way-to-get-tested part. Once the tests were done, you’ve done your part until you get a call, so you try to keep the it-is-what-it-is thing going.

After a week and a half I had to call the doctor and see if there was an answer yet. You’re not supposed to call them for 10 business days, but I’d been offered a job interview back and MA and couldn’t leave if I was going to have to get further treatment.

The biopsy woman had actually been leaving but went back to open the lab back up when she heard the receptionist on the phone with me. (I mentioned they were all seriously nice, right?)

Her answer was: You’re clean to leave. There’s no current next step needed. I can’t tell you the diagnosis beyond that over the phone myself.

Of course, I have thoughts of what that means. I’m fine with it having been a bad pull if it’s all gone and taken care of. And, I’m ready to be back to being healthy because, when you (and those you love) have good-health so much else is just details, right?

Now, still sore and itchy – still unable to workout – I’ve got to get myself interview ready, catch-up on the HUNDREDS of emails I got while not online, rework some edits some more, get in some contest scorecards by tomorrow and basically just catch up with life. I’ll admit it, I’m amazingly behind. Focus is hard even when you’re resigned to something.

But, after the last six weeks? Yeah, you won’t hear me complaining 🙂

Do me a favor? Get screened. This isn’t my first time getting tested, and they were both self-located. Don’t trust your yearly check-up, your masseuse, a lover or anyone else who sees your skin to tell you if something is questionable. If you can’t afford it, here’s a site to find FREE SKIN CANCER SCREENINGS.

Hold onto your health.

FWIS – Deadlines, or It Needs To Be Done WHEN?

1 Feb

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m doing with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Things obviously change when you go from writing to yourself, to writing for an agent, to writing for a contract. One of those big things is deadlines.

But, I’m going to be honest here — I’ve always kept hard deadlines. And I kicked my own butt to meet them.

Over the last few years as I’ve had more than one person tell me to “relax” and “it doesn’t matter if you hit that deadline because it’s only for you.”

Well my darlings… there’s going to be YEARS where your writing is only for you. And if you’re not hitting deadlines you map out, those years are going to be even longer. To me, this is one of the first clues that writing is a hobby — you don’t care when it gets done. If it gets done, GREAT! If not….. *shrugs*

Now, I’m not saying that you need to have insane deadlines and you change you’re life and throw away all the other stuff going on with family and friends and work to hit them. Think smart about them (trust me, search goals on my blog and you can see enough I’ve taken from my ACers Workshop to figure out how I do it and a lot of what I’ve taught others in how they might do it).

Secondly, first books are times to learn a lot about your writing…and one of those things is deadlines. I tracked everything I did during my first book. Actually, I still do. This way, I know how long a project should take. I know that’s changed over the years as I’ve gotten better, known my abilities, created my own tools and worked smarter. Also, I know it takes different amounts of time for different sub-genres.

Now , after a few years of tracking my work and giving myself deadlines, I’m writing for my agent.

The best part of this is that (unless an alphasmart eats my book…um, yeah) I know roughly how long things take. When the Laird and I discuss when something should be done, I’m fairly accurate (Yes, I seem to overestimate myself still) but I’m close.

If you haven’t started thinking about how long things take you, how can you agree to things? How can you know you can hit a contract or what you need to do to hit it?

I’m glad I spent that first book learning as much about me and my writing style (along with everything else you need to learn to become a better writer) because it’s allowed me to improve how I do things along with what I’m doing.

I think of it this way, everything I do as an un-contracted writers is practice. Like running drills for a sport, everything I do know gets me sharp and prepared for anything that might happen on the field of publishing when I’m throwing in the game.

So, un-contracted writers: Get out there and run your drills, do you laps, and get your writing life in shape for hitting someone else’s deadlines. Because what you do now really will shape the author you’ll be in the future.


Thank You For (not) Asking…

19 Jan

It breaks my heart to write this post, but it seems… expedient.

Over the last couple years most of my close friends who have been actively writing and submitting with me since near the beginning have sold. Some of them are on their third and fourth books to go out into the world published.

This, to me, is a reason to be joyous. A reason to celebrate.

And yet, not a month goes by that someone doesn’t slyly try to hint at – if not out-and-out ask me – how I feel about being the last girl sitting in the unpublished section.

First, let me clarify. I have tons of unpublished friends as well. I have friends who write slower because that’s their style or because of their writing/life balance. I have friends who don’t submit aggressively. I have friends who write for hobby. And I do have a few friends from the beginning who write and submit as aggressively as I have who aren’t published. I’ve also met several people along the way in the same boat. Those are their stories to tell though.

But, many, many of my friends who write and submit at the same level of ambition as I do have sold. Many of my closest friends are published authors (either because they were when we met or they became published after that). I have two friends who have gotten the dream contracts – those ones you don’t ever expect to know someone who gets one, let alone earn for yourself.

And so, sometimes I am in rooms at conferences surrounded by amazing women who are amazing writers and have amazing books on the shelf. I’ve sat around having drinks and laughing and realized that I have no idea how I’d gotten into a certain room since I was literally the only unpublished person in it. Apparently, no one checked my ID.

I am blessed.

Blessed to know those people.

Blessed that they couldn’t care less that I’m not published

And yes, blessed that I couldn’t care less that they are published.

You see, other people’s successes don’t bother me. They don’t shame me. They don’t hurt me. They don’t even motivate me. Other people’s successes don’t really have a lot to do with me… or you.

So, when people ask, “How does it feel to be the one not published?” I know they are really asking, “Are you jealous? Does it hurt your friendships?”

Darlings, if we cannot rejoice in the joy of our friends, then our lives and our attitudes have become to small.

Am I Pollyanna? Nope. There is a certain book that has been highly successful that is a joke among my friends because it grates on me. It grates because I think it is sub-par. I don’t know the writer, but I think it’s great she is having success… I just really don’t like the book.

And there is a huge difference. Because, it is possible to dislike a product without having harsh feelings toward it’s creator.

I’ve been wondering as I’ve seen all the meltdowns online lately if some of it is caused by this… this feeling of competition where none truly exists. If the pressure to succeed has tainted relationships so far, that writers feel the brunt force of it from every direction. That the lashing out is a defense mechanism against the hurt of other people’s successes.

If it’s that pressure that has people asking (or hinting) about this.

In the world of writing, the only measuring stick you should have is yourself. If you’re not getting it done, don’t blame your lack of success on being left behind. Look and see what you need to change, grow or do more of. True, sometimes the best of writers with the most wondrous of stories is overlooked (let’s all pretend that’s me, k?) But, usually, when I think about what needs to happen to get my book on the shelf, the answer isn’t:New Yorkneeds to stop buying such-and-such so they can buy me – It’s, I need to A B C and sometimes Q more.

Yes, sometimes that is hard. Sometimes I do feel behind. But, is it my friends’ fault? Or the industries? Or do I just need to continue getting my butt in the chair and working for what I want? I’m going to go with that last one.

By keeping focused squarely on myself, it allows me to honestly rejoice with my friends and colleagues in their successes.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Edit Cards

9 Jan

Let’s try this again… apparently, when I hit post yesterday, only the first sentence posted. SORRY


People ask about the edit cards all the time. A month doesn’t go by when someone doesn’t ask about them.

So, knowing they were on my 2012 goals list, I pulled them out last week to take a look at them to see if they’d be a fun gift to give to my writer friend Abby Mumford for her birthday –> and let’s be honest. Edit Cards are a gift only a writer could love.

But, after playing with them a few hours, I had a group of 50 that looked good enough to give to a friend.

Now, I’m going to pass them on to a few people for opinions. It’s always good to see if anything you use could be bettered.

If you don’t know about the edit cards, click the edit card tag. I blogged on them several times when I just started making them. They really helped me figure out what editing and revisions were all about, get through my first books, and organize my thinking & process.

Now the question I get a lot is, Are you going to sell them?

I don’t know. I have some things I’d have to do before I even considered that. I did use them before when teaching a small writing gig on the side and they were a hit, so maybe down the line. We’ll see.

So, there’s your Edit Card Update…and Abby’s birthday. Poor Abby with the working gift 🙂

FWIS: 2012 The Year We Kick-Butt

4 Jan

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m doing with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view!


So, here we go! Goals from the in-between writer 🙂

I’ve had throw-downs with other trainers (yup, if you don’t follow me, part of my job and certifications is around time/space/life management and coaching) about “goals that are our of our hands” OR “things we have no control over” — so I’d like to start there and build.

We often say things like, Well, I have no control over if an agent or editor wants to rep/buy my book.

I’m going to challenge that (you knew I would, right? *grin*)

You may have “no control” (challenge in a few….) over getting a deal, but you completely have control over  NOT getting a deal. Buy not writing, polishing, editing, revising, querying, submitting, etc… you will definitely NOT get a deal.

So, here’s the challenge… you may not be able to control the TIMING of your deal, but what can you control to get there.

  • Honing your craft by writing, writing, writing
  • Honing your craft by reading, reading, reading,
  • Honing your craft by seeing projects through to the bitter end (you won’t get better at every step unless you’re DOING every step)
  • Having products to send out by writing, writing, writing – More than one. Do not (and this is just my opinion, but I feel pretty strongly about it) live for one book.
  • Raising the level of your wips by learning, studying, writing and reading

If you’re doing those, over and over again, will you get someone to eventually want you? I’m thinking that’s a pretty big probably.

See that fourth one? My agent contract came from a book I was working on the side to keep moving forward, keep learning, have something in the slot and try another genre. YES I love my first book (I’m still playing with it WHEN I HAVE TIME) but, knowing that I wasn’t growing (or having anything to sell myself with) kept me moving forward.

Every time someone asked me for my one piece of advice (and they asked a lot when I finalled in the GH (maybe that one piece of advice should be, have one piece of advice to give.)) I always said, Write like you’re going to have a deal tomorrow.

Meaning: have something else to offer, give yourself buffer space by having a “backlist”, learn your writing styles and strengths and weaknesses, be ready to step into that crazy world…and that means writing a lot.

So, with all that, will you get an agent – Yes. I honestly believe that. If you’re not just talking the talk, but working and putting everything into the time you can find (and working to find that time) I believe that you’ll improve your writing, storytelling and crafting to the point that you’ll get an agent — unless you write something that’s super niche and no one can sell you (which is, of course, also a choice…so, yes, you make that NOT decision with that as well).

With all that said, on to my goals 🙂

  1. I will revise the 3 books I’m working for the Laird
  2. I will rewrite & polish the 2 books I have in Disaster Drafts for the Laird
  3. I will discuss with said Laird the 2 books and game plan first to make sure I’m doing what’s best for Team Publish Bria
  4. I will Disaster Draft at least one more book
  5. I will get that darn website up (check back 12/31/12 probably…you know, if the world doesn’t end)
  6. I will continue work on the Secret Project you guys hear so much about…and yet hear nothing about *evil laughter*
  7. I will force Abby to plan the YA Retreat 🙂 (Ok, I’ll help, but yeah… *sucks her in*)
  8. I will go to a class/museum/historic site for fun and to learn something new once a quarter #nerdygirl
  9. I will continue to workout at least three times a week so I don’t get Writer’s Bottom
  10. SELL!

I also have some fun or personal things on my 2012 list.

  1. Get a great new apartment
  2. Get a Full-time permanent job (ditch the contract/consult lifestyle)
  3. Take sign-language lessons (I’ve only been wanting to do this since high school)
  4. Stay on track with my savings and 401k
  5. Be soda free except for “special occasions” 😉
  6. Find a new church

I know. It looks like a lot when you write it out like that — and, Yes, if I get that deal everything gets tossed and we reevaluate what needs to be done in what order. That’s so vital. Being able to reprioritize.

But, as the writer in-between, I believe that these are the things I need to do to get it done this year.

Feel free to point and laugh, judge or cheer me on as we go *hopes for the cheering*

May we all have a 2012 filled with blessings, love, hope, peace, and inspiration.

One Year….

8 Dec

A year ago, I posted this. Amazing the journey a year brings. Here’s to the next year!


So, I have these papers. They came in the mail today. They want me to sign them. “Sign me, Bria! Sign me!”

“Okay,” I shout as loud as I can so everyone knows I’m signing them. I mean, why the heck wouldn’t I?

I take out my special pen, the one I did the last round of edits with on the latest book. It’s almost out of ink, but this is a great way to die the pen tells me.

I, who shall sign the papers, salute it.

So the pen signs the paper and dies. We have a moment.

Then I look at the paper again, my heart skitter stepping in my chest. Oh special papers! Oh how I love thee!

I do all the special paper sending preparations and then wait, waiting for the papers to jump up and shout and point and laugh. “HA HA HA Bria! We tricked you! We aren’t for you. You don’t get no stinking special papers.”

But they don’t and I smile. I smile at the papers and my happily self-sacrificing dead pen.

Then I DM Lauren MacLeod (code name: @bostonbookgirl) and shout in capitals, “I GOT THE SPECIAL PAPERS!!!”

And all was well in the world.

FWIS: Growing Your Story

7 Dec

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m doing with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view!

So, growing my story….

No matter who you talk to, each writer is going to grow her story differently. Even if you found two people who were 100% plotters, they’re still going to go about it in different ways. That’s one of the beauties of writing – there are very few “wrongs” out there (although, I’m sure we’ve all felt like we’ve hit one or two along the way!).

I’ve talked a lot about my process over the couple years I’ve been blogging here and at the Purple Hearts, but that’s not really what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about the story itself.

One of the huge turning points for me my first year of writing was getting to study under the absolutely amazing Jenny Crusie at one of the Low Country Master Classes with four other women. It was intense, eye-opening and boundary pushing.

And Jenny managed to not push me off the balcony when tool after tool didn’t work for me. I realized I needed to stop trying to use tools ahead of time to create my story. Tools were for cleaning up my writing.

For me, the story is something that’s in me already. It’s living there like a long forgotten memory, buried under all the daily to-do’s and more urgent or frequently discussed memories. It’s like the thing you have in the back of your mind and haven’t thought of in years, and then one day…


Something triggers that memory.

We’ve all had this happen. Someone says something a particular way or we catch a whiff of a scent that brings us back. Maybe it’s an old song that never gets played or even a piece of clothing that reminds us of a place and time. But there it is, that long forgotten memory drifting to the front of your brain.

Once it’s there, it starts to dig in, popping up in the strangest places throughout the day.

Picture my life as a dinner party (I know, aren’t I fabulous) where somehow this memory from wayyyyy back gets mentioned.

One tiny part opens up to another tiny part and the more we talk about it (think about it) the more the memory becomes fleshed out… Things that would be tiny details in writing are just bits and pieces. Right now, my characters are reminding me of that night they went skinny-dipping and the clay-mud bottom of the pond oozed between her toes holding her in place as much as her fear or embarrassment would have.

Then I mull that, as I remember that night, it grows and builds till I’m dreaming about it like I do my own memories. One small thing leads into another, Oh yeah! I remember that. Once it takes hold, there are dreams that push the story along as I rush to keep up each day writing it out. It never feel like thinking… I know this sounds odd. It feels like remembering. It’s real and vivid and feels like it couldn’t have happened any other way.

When I get to the end, very occasionally I have another Oh, yeah! moment  – Just like I would after leaving the dinner party.

And then, it’s all there – the big picture, the quirky little things that would have only been remembered by my character, the bits and pieces of maturity that distance can bring —– It may look like a mess because it’s written in a crazed race of 9-12 days, but it’s all there. The guts.


The rest, as I keep telling myself (and anyone else who will listen) is in the edits.