Tag Archives: life


Yes, I’ve invented a word. Rerailed.

Rerailed is the opposite of derailed. Derailed means, of course, that you got completely sidetracked from whatever you were supposed to do. Sidetracked? Off track? Derailed? I notice a lot of train metaphors here. Huh.

Derailed is no fun. It usually means unforeseen obstacles, aggravation, distraction, and then that nagging sense of guilt at bedtime that keeps you staring at the blades of the ceiling fan until 2 a.m., wondering if they’re going to buzz down and nip your head off for being such a lazy layabout who never gets her to-do list done.

Or maybe that only happens to me.

In any case, I figure if “derail” means your plans get messed up, there must be a word for when you get back to those plans and finally finish them. Thus, rerailed.

There are three simple ways to rerail yourself after a distraction, setback, obstacle, vacation, or apocalypse. Here they are.

1. Start your to-do list over.

If something distracts you from your to-do list, don’t try to get caught up on all of it the moment you get back. That breeds discouragement, and discouragement won’t help you. For instance, let’s say you had things to do every day this week, but you got sick Monday and Tuesday. When you come back on Wednesday, don’t try to do Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s work. Just start over with Monday’s. Or do Wednesday’s and find time to catch up on Monday and Tuesday later. The last thing you need when you’ve just gotten rerailed is to let a discouraging workload derail you again.

2. Follow the bread crumbs.

Some people (and I’m not naming names here, but let’s tentatively say that this might include me) can get out of “work mode” easily. One little distraction in our week, and suddenly we feel like goofing off for the next three days. The very thought of returning to work makes us slightly claustrophobic. Our breathing increases. We feel the urge to run screaming outside. If you are that sort of person, you may need a trail of bread crumbs to get yourself chained back to the desk chair. Start with a small task to complete in the next hour. One small task, and then you can quit if you want. When you’ve finished that one, see if you can’t get just one more done. Then another. You may get one thing done, or two, or five, before you really do give in and go outside, but you’ve gotten yourself back into work mode, and tomorrow morning it’ll be easier to return to the routine.

3. Get up early. Shower. Dress.

This may sound off-topic, but it’s especially important for those of us who write (and work) at home. This morning, I was heading back to work after almost an entire week off. Understandably, I doubted my ability to pay attention to work for more than five minutes. But I set my alarm for seven-thirty, got up, and put on a nice outfit. I gave myself a task which had to be started at 9 a.m. The act of getting up early and dressing nicely put me into work mode faster than a thousand pep-talks in front of the mirror could have. And here I am, blazing so far through my to-do list that I actually got to my blog, which is usually the first thing to suffer on days like this.

What about you? Any tricks to get your wayward schedule rerailed and off to a good start?



Leave a comment

Filed under General Writing

Haunting Borders

Yesterday, all I did for the entire day was haunt Borders.

Borders is an excellent place to haunt. They have ready-made spaces for haunters–though admittedly, those spaces have become few and far between since they moved all the chairs back to the café section. They used to have chairs all over the place, but I think someone wised up to the fact that dedicated readers sitting in the café are more likely to purchase something than dedicated readers sitting out of range of the food smells.

So. My friend Lell and I haunted the cafe for nigh on to five hours. (Borders’ plan worked, by the way; we both bought food). During those five hours, I rediscovered the joy of working in large chunks of time. It ensures that you get more done. By the end of the day, I couldn’t believe how far I’d moved along in FLYNN’s editing process.

The best situation, of course, is if you can work for a long chunk of time with a friend. It makes the time go faster if you have another human to take short breaks with. Especially if that other human is receiving periodic updates from her sister who is stranded at the Dallas airport. It’s like getting little segments of a “to-be-continued” story as you are writing your own story.

We saw another of my friends there, by completely random coincidence, and that creepy guy I’ve seen before who I’m halfway convinced is a stalker. Only stalkers wear baseball caps over their eyebrows and peer at you from over the rim of impossibly tiny glasses, right?

All in all, it was a great day of haunting, and I highly recommend a bookstore haunt to any author wishing to get serious edits done. I think I will do it again next Wednesday. Hopefully minus creepy guy and plus Lell again.



Filed under life

A Busy Week

Pub Board discussions are going on this week at Written World Communications. It’s quite an exciting time as we look at a selection of submitted work and decide which items to pick for publication this year. We’re hoping to start the year off with a bang, and also to be diverse in the fiction we publish. We have discussed genres from romance to historical to paranormal thriller. Just have to wait and see how things shake out as far as what will be published, and when.

Aside from that, I have taken a delightful stroll with FLYNN through the first chapters of her adventures these last two days. I love the final stages of editing–when you don’t have to change much, but you get to focus on making the wording ever-more delicious and stare anxiously at your word count as you find unnecessary “that”s and “then”s and “had”s that really shouldn’t have been there anyway because, let’s face it, you cheated a little bit and used those words you weren’t supposed to use in your prose!

I’ve also been reminiscing about my time working at a small newspaper in northern Illinois. I loved all the strange quirkiness of being at a newspaper. The man we called “Captain Underpants” because he came into the office in boxers and a wife beater. The suspicious pile of dead hogs that my boss happened upon on a farm and tried to do an exposé on. The automated phone message that would always call the office and begin “Hi. This is not a joke.” Ah, good times. I never thought I would miss anything about living up north, but Ogle County Newspapers is it.

Back to work for the day. I received a message from an agent, letting me know she’ll be looking over my query soon, so stay tuned for any news!


Leave a comment

Filed under life

9 Shocking Moments of 2009

As 2009 draws to a close, most of us look back on the year’s events with fondness. Or grimaces, depending on which event you’re thinking of. This was a year of “shocker” moments–every couple of months, it seemed, we were blindsided by some unexpected news story. Some made us sniffle, some made us angry. Some were so strange that we simply blinked at our televisions for a few seconds, then turned to the people around us to make sure that we really did just see that.

The Nine Shocking Moments of 2009 is an attempt to pay tribute to this year of shockers. It sticks mostly to pop-culture, with a couple of exceptions. A few political and economic concerns were so big and so shocking that they made it into the awareness of even the most tuned-out tabloid-reading pop culture junkies.

#9: Jon & Kate Plus Eight Minus Jon = Tabloids.

Jon and Kate Gosselin’s failed marriage shocked many fans of the show–not because their breakup was sudden, but because we couldn’t believe it would happen to them. Jon and Kate embodied for many the ideal of making your family dynamics work, no matter how difficult.

#8: Blaggo on the Radio.

Wait a second! I thought we finally got rid of Rod Blagojevich. Wasn’t he removed from office? Isn’t he kind of — in the doghouse — with most of the country? How on earth did he weasel his way into hosting a talk show? Did everyone in the Chicago radio industry get collective amnesia and forget that most of Illinois doesn’t want to listen to Blaggo anymore?

#7: AIG Bonu — er, *cough*, —  I Mean BAILOUTS.

An economy in crisis. People losing homes right and left. Companies filing for bankruptcy. And the people at AIG really think it’s okay to use their portion of bailout money to make life super comfortable for their elite members? The shock factor here comes from the fact that they’re either horrendously stupid or gutsier than most of us could ever hope to be.

#6.: Quinto vs. Nimoy.

The new “Star Trek” movie is the strongest proof yet that human cloning is possible. Audiences sat stunned in the midnight showings, unable to comprehend the sight of a living, breathing, 40-years-younger version of the original Spock. If Zachary Quinto is not a clone of Leonard Nimoy, then I am a yellow-bellied marmot.

#5: Balloon Boy.

Imagine listening to your friend’s half of the phone conversation when she hears this story for the first time. “A kid floated away in what? But he really didn’t? They think who was behind it?”   ‘Nuff said.

#4: White House Party Crashers.

Sure, I was surprised when I heard that Tareq and Michaele Salahi managed to sneak past White House security. But the really surprising part? The centuries-long stretch of media coverage that followed the ordeal. Please notify the online news sources that we never again want to hear anything about this story.

#3: And the Nobel Prize Winner Is…Obama.

Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Whether you agree that President Obama should get the Nobel Peace Prize or not, you have to admit, it was one of the biggest surprises of the year. Come on, admit it. You shook your head and cleaned out your ears to make sure you heard right, just like the rest of us did.

#2. Gimme That Mike!

Oh Kanye. Kanye, Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. Kanye. What were you thinking?

And the number one shocker moment of 2009:

#1. WHO died?!?!

What? Michael Jackson died? But–but he’s like a permanent part of my world. He’s always been there. Like the moon or the rocky mountains or plastic. What will the tabloids talk about now that he’s gone? Who will I make fun of as being the ultimate in child-man creepy? More importantly, does this mean the 80s are officially over?? (Oh by the way, we miss you too Farrah!)

What about you? Any shocker moments you think I missed? How about this; do you remember where you were when you heard these stories? I’ll start: I was driving home from the gym when I heard about Michael Jackson.

This post was brought to you by Up and Writing as part of Daniel Scocco’s latest group writing project. Check his Daily Blog Tips for links to other bloggers reviewing the best and worst of 2009!



Filed under life

Sci Fi, Fantasy Lovers Unite!

Most Sci Fi/Fantasy lovers agree; our beloved genres take a lot of abuse from the general public. Whether it’s outright disdain for the genre, or a passive disregard for it, we’ve all felt the sting of having our great worlds, stories and concepts dismissed as fringe hobbies for “losers.”

But what if Sci Fi and Fantasy are already an integral part of our culture–so integral that people would be forced to admit their value? The World in the Satin Bag has a wonderful article about this phenomenon. Blogger Shaun Duke talks about “cultural literacy” (the shared knowledge set which members of a society use to communicate), and how SF and F have invaded our cultural literacy in the past few years.

Read Shaun’s post. Forward it to someone, Tweet it, or post a link on your own blog. It’s time to give SF and F credit where due, and it’s up to us to make people aware of it.



Filed under General Writing


Following my October vacation to the Sirens conference, I’ve fallen behind with my usual life schedule. Sadly, all of my best habits (writing regularly, exercising, cooking healthy food, blogging) have gone by the wayside.

With October nearly over and NaNoWriMo upon us, I realize it’s time to get back in shape (figuratively and, okay, maybe literally too!).

Some goals. Ahem.

This blog now has a regular posting schedule–new posts every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. T, Th and Sa feel like the “even” days of the week to me, with MWF being the “odd” days. That may sound strange, but anyway, I like the even days better, and that’s when I’m going to post.

Once NaNo starts, I’ll work on the sequel to FLYNN, which should motivate me to complete my research on medieval warfare. Also, once I’m back in FLYNN mode, I can go back for that final revision of the final chapter in book I–a task which has been nagging me for two months now.

As I have a lead on my graphic novel, I’ll also spend some time each day working on that.

Those are my main goals. I’m thinking that exercise and eating right will fall in line again once I get back on a regular schedule.

October was fun, but it’s time to buckle down and hit the work (as soon as the madness that is Halloween ends).


Leave a comment

Filed under General Writing

Trekking Through the Rockies

I just finished up my long trek to Colorado for the inaugural year of the Sirens conference, and boy oh boy was it a week of adventure! It was an exercise in socializing, networking, intellectualizing…and survival.

The altitude alone took some endurance. Crammed into the car with my husband and parents (our luggage practically spring-loaded the trunk), we made the ear-popping climb to Vail, CO, to be hit with thin air, altitude headaches, scaly lips and aching noses (from the dry air). The town roundabout nearly got the best of our online directions, but at last we found our lodge and settled in.

The conference itself was amazing. Everyone had one big thing in common–our love of female fantasy lit. We found a library book table to tempt us with fresh fantasy releases, and a myriad of classes, presentations and keynote speeches. The danger of the conference lay in the sheer enormity of the “To Be Read” list that every attendee inevitably went home with.  And don’t forget the Night and Court Ball, at which everyone busted a move on the dance floor at least once. (Think a whole roomful of girls dancing to “Love Shack.” And singing it. Even the weird-voice-guy’s lines).

The highlight of my weekend was, of course, getting personal advice from author Sherwood Smith on writing war scenes in fantasy novels. I mean, how often do you get personal tips from a successful writer about the very thing you’re working on?

The rest of my trip has been…interesting. After the conference, we came to Estes Park for two days. Estes Park did not get the memo about fall lasting through October, so it skipped to winter instead. We did our hiking through snowstorms, narrowly avoiding hypothermia and starvation at every turn (we were on a trail for two hours with only granola bars. Oh the horror!). I have to admit, it was an incredible feeling to be literally in the middle of the wilderness during a snowstorm. Puts a whole new perspective on respecting mother nature.

I made it through the week without adding TOO many books to my ever-growing “to be read” pile. Not too many. I think.

The Prophecy of the Sisters

Mad Ship

Ship of Destiny



Song of the Lioness (and following volumes)

This is my last night in Colorado. Tomorrow, we’ll do horseback riding and then head home. I love the mountains, but somehow I can’t wait to see flatlands again.



Filed under YA lit