Tuesday, December 9, 2014


I know I've been quiet for a while, but I have some GREAT news! REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD is now going to be part of an anthology called LOVE NOTES, which features music-themed romance novels.

To be honest, I'd taken a little break from writing. I wasn't sure whether to continue with the independent route or to continue pursuing a literary agent. Also, while the revisions on F-BOMB are almost complete, my jewelry business picked up and has kept me very busy. An author named Kira Adams then invited me to join her project, which is this anthology. The set includes BAND GEEK, as well as Adams' novel, PIECES OF ME; Shane Morgan's book, THE RIGHT SONG; and Breigh Forstner's novel, STRAIGHT FOR THE HEART. The anthology will be out on February 2, but is available for pre-order on Amazon.

I haven't worked with other writers since I left the magazine and I'm enjoying the process. The three women are smart and creative, and are way more savvy than I am when it comes to social networking. I met some fascinating people at my former job and in my writing classes, but the Internet has definitely expanded that reach. I love the fact that there are other people who appreciate music and writing as much as I do! Being my first novel, BAND GEEK has a special place in my heart and I'm thrilled that it's getting some new life.

On Release Day, February 2, we will be hosting a Facebook party to launch the set. You're all invited! Check out our page from 12-4, where you'll have an opportunity to meet and chat with the authors -- and will also have a chance to win some fantastic prizes!

Meantime, please spread the word about LOVE NOTES via Thunderclap -- and check out our FB pages:

Kira Adams: PIECES OF ME https://www.facebook.com/KiraAdamsauthor?ref=br_tf

Naomi Rabinowitz: REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD https://www.facebook.com/NaomiRabinowitzAuthor

Shane Morgan: THE RIGHT SONG https://www.facebook.com/AuthorShaneMorgan

Breigh Forstner: STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART https://www.facebook.com/breighforstnerauthor

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Writing A Novel: Time For Revisions!

When I tell people I'm a writer, I usually get asked these two questions: How many pages is your book? or How long did it take to write it? The answers for both are: It depends and ... it REALLY depends.

Most books go through about a million revisions. My children's writing teacher recently mapped out just how many revisions he had to deal with when putting together his book... and this was a picture book with much fewer words. But by the time an author does several drafts herself, then goes through changes with an agent and then editor, you can end up with a much different -- and presumably much better -- book than the one you'd originally written.

That teacher suggested that if we have someone read our stuff, we ideally find a person who cares about you... but knows what good writing is. Your grandma may care about you, but can she really give you an objective opinion?

My goal is to make my novel as good as possible BEFORE I query agents so I had several writer friends read my first draft and then had another author do a thorough edit on my second draft. She came back to me with 15 pages of notes!

She was very encouraging and I LOVE her suggestions... but I have a lot of work ahead of me. It's work I enjoy, but I still need a day to process her ideas and figure out how I'll tweak my story. And this is why I'm procrastinating by posting in this blog, LOL.

I'm grateful to have writers in my life who will cheer me on but also be honest about my manuscripts. I believe in Novel No. 2 and know that with this friend's help, it's going to be an even better story than it was before.

We're going on vacation in about a month and my goal is to finish these revisions by that time. Then it will be time to chase agents... again.

Meantime, please read and review REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Writing For Children: A Kid's Point Of View

This past weekend, I spent time with my 6 1/2-year-old niece. She's extremely intelligent -- and I'm not just saying that because I'm a biased aunt; she already reads at a fifth or sixth grade level. She's way past picture books and has already devoured the Little House series. Right now, she's obsessed with books that follow girls from various periods in the past.

My niece also loves to make up and write her own stories. She has a wild imagination and reminds me a bit of myself at her age. She especially likes to create stories about magical creatures, such as fairies and unicorns.

Anyway, my children's writing teacher noted that one of the best ways to get ideas for kids' books is to simply spend time with kids. I took advantage of this and picked my niece's brain for the types of books she'd love to read. Here are some of her ideas: they're pretty interesting!

1. Have a story where the princess DOESN'T marry the prince. My niece is already very cautious about making stereotypes (and yes, she knows the word and what it means) and already has strong opinions about how women should be independent. Her parents are raising her well! She likes princess stories, but would like to see something that doesn't follow the typical formula. Frozen came close, but there was still a romance...

2. Lost jewels and imaginary animals. She loves the idea of a magical land filled with treasures and never-seen-before creatures. This idea has been done many times, but hey, a classic is a classic.

3. Poor and needy shepherds. She'd like to read a story about lower class characters who AREN'T secret royals or don't have special powers. She wants to read about people succeeding through hard work... or a story, like Robin Hood, where the poor are helped.

I don't know if my niece is going to end up becoming a writer herself. She's still quite young and insists she's going to become a vet or a paleontologist... or the President. I envy her for having so much hope for her future! I do hope she continues to write, though, and continues to be a cool, quirky, creative little girl.

Check out and review my YA novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Writing A Novel: Putting The "I" In Writer

My children's writing class is still going well. We have a very small group this time -- in the last class, only two of us showed up -- so we're able to get a lot of attention from our instructor and have many more opportunities to get our work critiqued. It's been interesting, to say the least.

A couple of weeks ago, I handed in an excerpt from my latest work-in-progress, which is a sci fi YA novel. Most of the comments were positive, but our teacher really didn't like that I'm writing it in first person. His argument is that whenever he reads something written in first person, he wonders who the narrator is speaking to and it takes him out of the story. If a novel is going to be written in this manner, he prefers it if the narrator is writing in a journal or speaking to a therapist, or sharing the story with a friend, etc.

I respectfully disagree. I've always assumed that the narrator is speaking with us, the readers. Yes, if you think about it, you do have to question how the fourth wall is being broken exactly, but it's just one of those things when you suspend disbelief. Even when a novel is written in third person, you have to wonder how the narrator knows all of these intimate details about "real" characters. Yeah, yeah, it's the author and he or she knows EVERYTHING, but the whole idea of reading fiction is to suspend disbelief!

I personally enjoy reading first-person novels because I feel as if I can truly get into a character's head. I like writing them for the same reason. I like third person, too, but first person is very intimate. One isn't really better than the other. It's just my preference.

My teacher suggested that I frame the story and have the narrator speak to someone or record his thoughts, but I really don't want to do that. There are some books where this works; for instance, the narrator writes in her journal in Sloppy Firsts and throughout most of Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling series. This is perfect for that character, though, and doesn't work for my narrator. There are only so many times when a character can keep or journal or talk to a shrink. I don't want to have to depend on that literary device.

My novel isn't even a full draft at this point; it's a few sample chapters and a vague outline of things to come. But for now, I'm sticking with my original plan and keeping it in first person. I'm not sure where my story is going, but I'm secure with this choice.

Meanwhile, check out my other first-person novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Adventures In Children's Book Writing

My Children's Book Writing course has begun -- and I'm finding it to be way more interesting than I'd thought.

I signed up for the course because it's the closest thing to writing YA that Gotham Writers Workshop offers, at least this semester. I figured I'd just kind of ignore the lectures on crafting picture books and put my energy into writing stuff for older kids and teens. But after learning more about how picture books are constructed, I'm fascinated. It's a lot harder than I thought. It wasn't fair for me to assume this was an "easy" thing to do.

Writing the text for a picture book is almost like putting together a movie script with directionals. For example, the first line might be, "Jim and Joe are friends," and then you'd have a directional, (Jim and Joe hugging each other). These are there so the illustrator has an idea of what to draw ... only you're supposed to keep the drawing suggestions rather vague so the illustrator can have some freedom to interpret the concept. Writing is pretty collaborative, anyway, especially when you're dealing with agents and editors, but this takes it to a whole other level. Picture books are very visual, even for the writers. You might be thinking, "Well, duh!" but it's a challenge for me to think about where the text and picture might go on the page.

Because of this, layout is super important and when writing the text, you have to actually say which page the text should fall on and which pictures should be two-page spreads, etc. Yeah, there are fewer words, but the arrangement is a lot more complex.

And, of course, the story still has to be a good one! There may be fewer than 300 words in a kids' book, but it still has to be a gripping tale that makes sense. Trimming things down to that degree is tough. You have to say what you absolutely mean.

Our homework assignment was to write a character who performs an action that has unexpected consequences -- all said in fewer than 500 words. I came up with a silly idea about my cat that began as a joke ... but ended up with a cute idea for a story. My husband was in hysterics when I read it to him and my friend Amy, who has an 18-month-old son enjoyed it, too. Now I'm wondering if I should actually finish thing thing and submit it somewhere. I have no idea how to go about doing this, at least not yet, but it would be funny if after all this time, I end up selling a story for much younger children.

Meanwhile, I'm still working on my latest YA book, the action/adventure one, and am still doing edits on Novel No. 2. So I have a lot going on! It's all good, though. I like keeping my mind and creativity busy. And props for children's book writers... I have new-found respect for what you do!

Read and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD on Amazon.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

R.I.P., My Wonderful Friend

This weekend I lost a very close friend of mine. She was sick her entire life and these past couple of months were especially difficult, so I'm not surprised by her death. Still, I can't quite believe that she's no longer in this world.

She and I met about 15 years ago through a mutual friend. It took us a while to grow close because she was very quiet and often kept to herself, but once I did get to know her, I quickly learned what a strong and brave woman she was.

She suffered from constant pain and endured frequent hospital visits/surgeries, but rarely complained and did as much as she was capable of doing. I was often surprised by just how much she could do -- such as when she joined me for a four-mile walk around Central Park. She was tiny; maybe weighed 80 pounds at most, but she had nerves of steel.

Though she had many problems of her own, she almost never asked for help. The last thing she ever wanted to be was a burden. I used to get annoyed with her because she'd constantly apologize for everything, say, "I'm sorry" all of the time. But she just wanted the people around her to be happy and to be the best friend possible.

When it came to her friends, she went out of her way for us. If you were performing in a concert, she was there. If it was your birthday, she'd celebrate with you. The only times she missed out was when she wasn't feeling well enough. When I broke my leg, I was being a big baby about needing surgery so she schlepped out from Brooklyn to Long Island to be there for at the hospital. When my grandmother was on her death bed, my friend accompanied me to see her and managed to coax a smile and coherent conversation out of my grandma. This was the last time I saw my grandmother, so I think of this as a gift from my friend.

As for my writing, my friend was always very encouraging of my work. She's the one who told me that my style reminded her of Ned Vizzini's. She always cheered me on and I greatly appreciate that.

My friend liked to write, too, but I unfortunately never got a chance to read her work. I was always asking to take a look and offered to help edit it, but she was shy about sharing her words. I wish I'd had the chance, not because I'm nosy, but because it would have allowed me to get inside her head. As close as we were, it was difficult to fully understand what she was dealing with -- though I always tried and was as supportive as possible.

I'm angry that she was taken from me at such a young age, but am grateful that I got to have her in my life for as long as I did. I'm going to miss her, but will always remember her kindness, bravery and loving spirit.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Book Review: The Divergent Series

I tend to go through periods where I read certain types of books. Right now I'm on a memoir kick since I just finished that memoir writing class. For a while, I plowed through a series of sports biographies. Last year, I read a bunch of dystopian novels. I began with The Hunger Games trilogy, then moved on to the Matched series, then the Delirium trilogy, then Pretties, then The Program and then finally Divergent.

By the time I got to Divergent, I was pretty worn down by these action-packed, but -- let's face it -- rather depressing series and I didn't really give the novel the attention it deserved. I read through it quickly, then put it aside, not bothering to finish the trilogy. My friend insisted that the sequel, Insurgent, was even better than the first, but I needed a break from these bleak stories.

Well, I recently saw Divergent: The Movie and enjoyed it -- and decided to give the series another chance. For the most part, I'm glad I did. There are minor spoilers ahead; I'm keeping them pretty vague, but read at your own risk.

The first book is well-written and well-paced. Readers are introduced to this futuristic society, which takes place in what was once Chicago. Almost everyone lives in five "factions," which are Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity and Candor. At 16, teens take an aptitude test to determine which faction they'll most likely fit. Those unfortunate souls who don't fit in anywhere or are kicked out of a group are "factionless" and have to survive on the streets. Our narrator, Beatrice "Tris" Prior, is an anomaly because she qualifies for three factions... and is therefore "divergent."

Tris, who was raised an Abnegation, chooses Dauntless, and we follow her as she endures a grueling initiation period (think boot camp on steroids). During this time, she falls for one of her instructors, nicknamed "Four." As she grows stronger and their relationship deepens, she learns of a faction leader's evil plans ... and it's up to Tris to be the hero.

Insurgent picks up in the middle of the conflict and Tris' physical and mental strength are really challenged. And then everything falls apart in the final book, Allegiant.

I really liked Tris in the first two books. She's strong and tough, but isn't perfect. I rooted for her to win her fight, and I loved her relationship with Four. In some cases, it was a little hard to buy that a 16-year-old would react in such mature ways, but I could easily suspend my disbelief because the society was so extreme.

The story itself also moved along nicely in the first two books. The secondary characters were interesting and you really got to know the ins and outs of this particular society. In fact, Future Chicago was a character itself which tied everything together.

Unfortunately, Allegiant did not live up to the other books. For one thing, it's written from Tris and Four's points of view. I usually like when there are different narrators, but they sounded exactly the same! I'm not a huge fan of the Twilight series, but the one positive thing I'll say about those books is that in Jacob's chapters, he sounded very different from Bella.

My second issue with Allegiant is that Chicago is an afterthought. Yes, our heroes finally get to see what's "outside the fence," but there is still a lot going on inside the city -- and we're mostly told about it from second-hand sources. I don't want to hear about major events taking place; I want to SEE them. It's that whole show vs. tell concept... and in this case, there was way too much telling.

The worst thing about Allegiant is that it's dull and the main reveal doesn't make much sense. It took me over a week to finish it, which is long for me, and I really made it to the end out of obligation. There are many new characters introduced whom we just don't have the time to get to know or care about and there is a lot of exposition. I wasn't bothered by the controversial ending, but by the time the Big Event happened, I was just ready for the book to reach its conclusion.

It's a shame that Allegiant was such a disappointment because I think that author Veronica Roth is talented and has a lot of potential. She's only in her 20s, so she's still very young and I'm wondering if the pressure of writing such a popular series got to her? I felt as if this last book were rushed and not very well thought out ... and I can imagine her struggling to reach a particular deadline, especially with the movie coming out. I hope she gets to take a breather and really have time to plot out her next work (if she chooses to write something else) because I'm eager to see what she comes up with. Since I did like 2/3 of her series, I'm definitely going to give Roth another chance.

Do I recommend Divergent? Yes ... with the warning that you might not like the ending. The series was worth reading, though, because I did enjoy the story along the way.

Please check out my YA romance novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Writing A Novel: Starting From Scratch

My last memoir writing class was this Monday. When it was time for everyone to leave, most of the students thanked my teacher and shook her hand. When I did this, she pulled me into a hug. It means a lot to me that she has so much respect for me as a writer and person. In the 10 weeks of classes, I really do feel I learned so much. I'm excited to see what children's writing will be like. I'll find out this upcoming Monday!

I'm currently editing Novel. No 2, but have also begun a draft for Novel No. 3. I originally planned to revise another old manuscript which I'd written a few years ago, but then got this idea and have decided to try it out. This latest piece is a sci fi story and is written from a boy's point of view. I usually write from the girl's POV and tend to favor realistic fiction, so this is a big departure for me. But it's a fun topic and I welcome the challenge. We'll see where it goes.

My main goal is to have Novel No. 2 "agent ready" by the end of this month. I have a few large sections that need revision and will then go through the book to fix as many typos, other errors, as possible. Then I'll send it out and see what happens. Perhaps the third time is the charm?

I always seem to get a lot of writing done in the spring. I'm not sure why -- maybe because it's a season that feels like a new start? I'm looking forward to seeing how these manuscripts turn out.

Meanwhile, please read and review REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Writing A Novel: Writng Exercises

Lately I've found that the best way to improve my writing is to spend time with other writers. Being in a class has reignited my interest and sparked my creativity. For a while, I felt as if I were in a slump, but I'm once again loving the process.

This weekend, I met with a couple of friends who are also writers. We spent the evening at a coffee shop in Greenwich Village and though we, of course, enjoyed some girl talk, we actually got quite a bit accomplished.

My friend Amy is part of my editing "team" and usually does a read of my drafts. She's also taught writing classes herself, so she had some great ideas for exercises.

First, she suggested we each choose a random object in the coffee shop. I chose a cheesecake; she chose a ceiling fan and Susan chose a pillow. We then had 10 minutes to write a scene in which we somehow included the objects. I misunderstood and only wrote about my object, the cheesecake... but I ended up crafting a romantic comedy scene where the protagonist shoved the cake in the villain's face.

While my scene was silly, Susan put together a very thoughtful piece about how the spinning of the ceiling fan reminded her of the passage of certain moments in her life. I've known Susan for many years, but wasn't that familiar with her writing -- and I was very impressed. She's a busy woman, but I hope she eventually finds time to complete a book or at least a magazine article. I'd definitely read her work!

Next, Amy gave us another 10 minutes to write about an embarrassing childhood memory. This was a little easier for me since we've been doing this in my memoir class. Still, it was a challenge to come up with a complete story in only a few minutes.

I don't do a lot of free writing, but think I need to do it more often. It's a great way to open your mind when you have a block and to get started on a project. I spend so much time worrying about the exact way to phrase something, sometimes it's just nice to let the words flow without limits.

I'm home sick today, but am feeling inspired enough to try a free write with my next novel idea. I have a basic outline for the book, but nothing is fully developed. I want to see what happens if I just write without thinking too much about it. Maybe I'll come up with something I like!

Meantime, please read and review my completed novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Writing A Novel: Getting A Literary Agent

I've made a big decision about my latest manuscript: Before self-publishing this book, I'd like to see if I can get an agent -- and get my book published in a traditional venue.

I think I've written about this before, but just to recap, I've been through this process twice. In 2003, I received offers from two agents who were interested in representing BAND GEEK (at the time, I was calling the book WHO'S ON FIRST? because of the narrator's fight for first chair flute). I signed on with the bigger agent, who was based in New York City and had many connections. She was a wonderful agent; she helped me fix some major problems in my book and stuck with me for a couple of years. Two publishing houses came close to buying my book, but no dice, so my agents and I parted ways. Yes, I was basically dumped -- but I have absolutely no hard feelings. Business is business and she really took a chance on me. How can I be angry about that?

A few years later, my husband and I came up with an idea for a quirky travel guide. Again, we managed to get an agent and she sent our outline to about 20 publishing houses. The editors loved our work and were ready to buy it. I really got my hopes up and thought that there might even be a bidding war... but this time, it was the marketing people who canned our idea. They couldn't figure out where our guide would be placed in the bookstore because it combined several genres.

It was at this point that I became very jaded about the publishing industry. Then I broke my leg and got into making jewelry ... but that's a whole other story! Anyway, by 2012 -- 10 years after I'd written BAND GEEK -- I just wanted to put my writing out there and chose to self publish. I'm so happy I did so, too. I have all the respect in the world for independent authors. There are many talented writers whose work "doesn't fit" in the traditional publishing world, for whatever reason; sites like Amazon and Smashwords are giving them the opportunity to share their writing. Completing a book is difficult enough, but I've found that it's even harder to have to market your own work. I'm still learning how to do that.

I've always dreamed of seeing my book in a book store, though. I realize that the publishing industry is changing, but I'd still like to take a shot at having someone like my work enough that they actually want to pay me an advance (even if said advance is only three figures) and help me sell my book. This is why I'm going to see if I can get an agent for my latest ms. Third time's the charm, right? I have nothing to lose; if I don't find an agent or my book isn't sold to a publishing house, all I have to do is publish it on my own. Either way, I win.

Right now, I'm editing my work and hope to send it out to agents some time next month. Meantime, please read and review REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Writing Class: Shot Of Confidence

A second piece of mine was critiqued during my memoir writing class. Again, it went very well. My classmates and teacher had a lot of positive things to say about my work; a couple of people even thought that I should fictionalize the incident and use my scene in a novel.

I was especially pleased when one of the older women walked with me on the way out of class and said to me quietly, "You're a fine writer. So far, I've enjoyed your piece the most." This woman is well-known in the journalism world and has had a lot of experience in writing herself so her compliment means the world to me. She's written for newspapers and magazines all over the world and has had quite the career -- so she knows what she's talking about!

Even though I published a novel, I still have many doubts about my writing abilities. My novel hasn't become a best seller and I never rose as high in the ranks in the magazine world as I would've wanted. Getting laid off certainly hurt. So there are times when I wonder if I'm crazy, if I'm a fraud, if I really have any business sharing my work with others. Hearing the feedback from this class has given me a shot of confidence that I really needed.

I realize that when it comes to judging an author, everyone is going to have different opinions. Rejection and criticism come with the territory. Still, it's nice to have a diverse group enjoy your work for different reasons. Though this class isn't a professional venture for me, it's still giving me an opportunity to put myself out there.

When I began the class, I freaked out. I wasn't sure I'd be able to handle the deadlines or even handle the idea of sharing so many personal details about my life. I'm really glad that I stuck it out and forced myself to do something I'm not entirely comfortable with. I feel like I've learned a lot in these past few weeks and am happy I gave this class -- and myself -- a chance.

Please read and review my YA novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New Class: Children's Book Writing

I've enjoyed my memoir writing class so much, I've decided to sign up for another course at the Gotham Writers' Workshop: children's book writing.

Much as I've liked writing about my own life, I'm not sure how eager I am to share my experiences with the world. It's one thing to have them read about by 10 or so classmates -- and it's one thing to blog about one particular aspect of my life. But I don't think I'm ready to divulge every painful, humiliating memory from my 40 years. I'd rather keep some things to myself.

It's no secret that I draw from my experiences, though. I love YA and coming-of-age stories in general, so it should come as no surprise that much of my writing is inspired by things which happened to me when I was a teen or young adult. As I said in my last post, my classmates and teacher were impressed by my ability to write realistic depictions of kids and so I'd like to continue with that... in a fiction setting.

I'm not sure exactly which type of children's books we'll be covering. I don't have any desire to write a picture book or a book geared toward very young kids, but I would love to create something for the middle grade/tween set. Judy Blume's Fudge series and Beverly Cleary's Ramona books helped me get through some difficult times in my childhood. It would be amazing if my words could help some girls get through theirs.

What I especially like about these classes is that they're forcing me to write on a deadline. I find the more I write, the more my creativity is stimulated. At first, it was tough to follow someone else's writing schedule, but it's gotten easier. Now I look forward to doing assignments. I'm hoping that this latest class will inspire my next big idea for a novel.

Meantime, please read and review my YA novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Tales From My Memoir Writing Class: My First Critique

Last week, I went through my first critique in my memoir-writing class. I'm happy to say it went very well!

In class, we call these critiques "booths" because it's supposed to be as if the person getting his or her work reviewed is in a booth. Therefore, only one person is allowed to speak at a time and the person getting critiqued can't say anything until the end of the session. This can be tough when you want to defend a point or clarify something, but it really forces you to actually listen to what's being said.

For the most part, my booth was a very positive experience. I'd written a piece about an embarrassing childhood memory and wasn't sure it was "deep" enough for this class. Everyone liked it, though! I was surprised by how many of my classmates could relate to my pain and I was floored when some compared my work to Margaret Atwood and Judy Blume. I adore both of these authors and Blume's writing inspired me to get into YA. So to have it said that my work made people think of these women is a huge deal for me.

However, the session wasn't all gushy and my classmates/teachers had many valid suggestions. My teacher said I tend to use cliche phrases and encouraged me to come up with new ways of saying old things. She also said I overuse the word "that." Last year, I laughed when someone reviewed BAND GEEK and said the same thing. I mean, it's a word... and a tiny one. But I guess I really do overuse it!

My instructor also challenged me to use all 15 pages which are allotted for our booth pieces. I'd handed in five pages, but she believed I could've said a lot more. I'm used to having to condense in order to fit magazine pieces into a particular space, but she urged me to write more. I did, and managed to fill all 15 pages for my next booth.

What's really nice is how my classmates and teacher were so invested in my story. They wanted to know what happened to everyone involved, so my latest booth piece is the sequel. It's about yet another embarrassing childhood incident. I have plenty of those, unfortunately!

My latest piece gets critiqued next Monday. I feel like it's pretty solid, but I really opened up and shared some humiliating (and gross) information. I hope my classmates and teacher enjoy it as much as they liked my first booth.

Meantime, please read and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tales From My Memoir Writing Class: Character Study

Today's memoir writing class was a lot less intimidating than the first session. For one thing, the class crazy dropped out so we no longer had to deal with her. In our last class, she'd flipped out over our instructor's (rather mild) critique. Apparently her anger went further than that; after class, she literally cornered and threatened our teacher. Yeesh! I hope this woman never decides to submit her work to agents because she's in for a rough road if she can't take the slightest constructive criticism. Needless to say, I'm happy that she's gone because I dreaded having to comment on her work.

Next week we'll begin critiquing each other's work, but today we discussed the introductions of two memoirs: Stitches, a graphic novel by David Small and Seeing Ezra by Kerry Cohen. I'm not a big fan of comics or graphic novels, so reading a memoir in that form took some getting used to. But it's a compelling story about a boy's horrific child and I'm interested in reading more. Seeing Ezra, which is about a mother coming to terms with her autistic son, was less gripping in my opinion, but still very well written.

I really enjoyed participating in the discussions of these books. Everyone had different opinions and interpretations of the stories, but we were all fired up and eager to share our views. I felt as if I were back in a college literature class! It was fun and very invigorating.

After, we talked about the "characters" in our memoirs and how we can present them and flesh them out. I'm still not sure if I'm going to actually write a memoir for publication, but I feel that I took away many ideas that could be used for my novel. Even though I took a memoir writing class, it's really a course about simply writing well.

I handed in my first assignment today so we'll see what the teacher thinks of my work. All I know is that throughout the class, I kept wishing that I could go back and edit some things. I'm sure that whatever suggestions I'm given will be helpful.

Meantime, please read and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tales From My Memoir Writing Class

One of my beliefs is that you're never too good at anything to stop learning. This is why I'm always taking jewelry classes and reading up on new jewelry making techniques. And this is why I've signed up for a memoir writing class.

When I told my friends that I'm taking this class, a few were like, "Why? You wrote for a magazine and have a novel out. You're always writing blogs. You can probably teach the class." While their statements are very flattering, I disagree. I've never written a memoir. It's one thing to write a blog post or short essay about my life; it's another thing to write an entire book. I signed up for this class assuming that I know very little about writing memoirs -- and I was right.

I've only had one session so far, but I can tell that it's going to be a tough course. I signed up for it for "fun," but there are frequent deadlines, assignments and critiques. Our first in-class assignment was to write about 10 memorable moments in our lives, moments that changed us forever. I thought that I came up with 10 decent ones, but as we went around the class sharing our work, I realized that I hadn't quite zeroed in enough on the moments. The instructor noted that my descriptions were too vague and that I needed to focus on everything that happened in that one second of change. It was an hour into the class and I was already being told what I could do to improve!

As we went around the class introducing ourselves, I learned that many of my classmates are true survivors. Some have overcome drug addiction, rape and mental illness. They have tragic and fascinating things to write. I'm very, very, very glad that I haven't experienced any of these things, but from a writer's point of view, I'm not sure that my life is that interesting. For the few parts that are "interesting," I'm a little reluctant to share them. I've been pretty open on this blog about my writing and publishing experiences, but it's another thing to share your deep, dark secrets with the world. For now, I think I'm going to work on a memoir draft simply for the sake of learning to write. Perhaps I'll publish something in the future.

After class, I went into a bit of a panic as I thought about the impending deadlines. Also scary is the idea of getting critiqued by committee. When it's your turn to have your work commented on, you have to sit there and listen -- and can't say anything. I HATE that; it makes me feel kind of vulnerable. I don't mind receiving criticism, but I enjoy discussing it. It helps me have a better idea of how to improve.

I still have some reservations about this class, but I completed my first assignment and we'll see how it goes. I'm not getting graded for my work, though the idea of once again having writing deadlines is making me anxious. I had a long talk with some friends who've encouraged me to stick with it. It's only ten classes total and if I hate it, I don't *have* to stay.

For now, I plan to stick it out because I really think that I can learn something. I have some friends who've taken the class and ended up loving it. Perhaps I will, too.

Meantime, please read and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Getting Back Into Blogging

It's been a really long time since I've blogged about my writing, but all has been well. My jewelry businesses, Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations, have really taken off in the past few months. I've also been busy at work finishing up the first draft of Novel No. 2. So a lot has been going on.

I'm really pleased with how Novel No. 2 is turning out. My draft ended up being over 100,000 words, so it's longer than BAND GEEK. It's also a bit more mature and intense. My writer friend Amy did a read on it and made some great suggestions -- and says that she likes it more than BAND GEEK. I'm also having another friend do a professional edit of my work. With BAND GEEK, I had some people note editing errors and typos and I want to make sure that this doesn't happen with the new book.

I'm not exactly sure when the new book will be available. I'm waiting for my friend to finish her edits, which is taking longer than we both anticipated. Still, I figure that the more time that's put into it, the better. I don't want her to rush through it. I'm hoping to have it ready by the spring. I feel like the story is very tight and focused; it's just a matter of rewriting some scenes.

I plan to do another virtual book tour and place my book on Amazon Kindle. However, I think that I'm going to try some other author outlets, as well. I want to try Smashwords and see if I can get some sales in other venues.

I'll admit, I've been kind of lazy about promoting BAND GEEK, but I only have so many hours in the day and I wanted to devote my time to finishing my book and promoting my jewelry. It's no surprise then that sales haven't been so great. The good news is, I've gotten some nice reviews on Amazon, so I at least know that my story is entertaining some readers. For the most part, I've been trying to stay away from reviews, but it's hard to resist reading them when you find out that someone gave your book five stars.

This year I'd like to see if I can regain some of the publicity I lost. I have to give credit to those self-published authors whose e-books become best sellers. You not only need a good story and great word-of-mouth, but you have to put in a LOT of work to keep readers' interested. Those authors are constantly on Facebook or Twitter, or in the Goodreads forums... and frankly, I don't know how they do it! They really work for their success and understand the business side of writing.

Meantime, I'm going to update this blog more often, at least once a week. Be sure to check out my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD on Amazon.