Monday, June 27, 2016

Happy Agent's Day!

In a long conversation with my critique partners about what you need in an agent, my friend Jenn said something that will always stick with me: Your agent should make it easier and not harder for you to write. This was the advice that eventually helped me see that my first agent was not a good fit for me as a writer, and the advice that has me continually nodding my head in belated agreement now. I now understand what Jenn was talking about. I didn't know at that point that this kind of agent/client working relationship existed.

This is the woman who makes it easier for me every day to keep doing what I love. And since today is #AgentsDay, I want to let her and any prospective clients, as well as other writers know what I love about working with Patricia Nelson!

I signed with Patricia on Christmas Eve 2014, a fabulous Christmas gift to myself. A gift that has kept right on giving. :)

(I signed on a copy of Harry Potter for good luck)

In the months that followed we've been through several rounds of revisions together, gone out on submission, worked on different books, discussed pitches for new novels, and we've gotten to know each other much better. 

So here for Agents' Day are ten reasons that Patricia Nelson helps make it easier and not harder to write. Ten reasons why I'm so grateful that we found each other.

1. She gives herself deadlines, and keeps them! (I know this is not something all agents are able to do, but I am continually amazed by Patricia's consistency and reliability. It inspires so much confidence and lets me work on my own timelines, without worrying about the agent end.


2. She likes my ideas. This isn't something you can force, and it wouldn't mean she was a bad agent if she didn't. But it is amazing to have someone you can share ideas / brainstorm with who gets excited about the same things as you.


3. She's always up for a quick phone call, and I always feel miles better after a chat with Patricia.


4. She gets my stuff READ!!! Her network is awesome, and she gets my books out there.


5. All the brilliant ideas! Brainstorming with Patricia is magic!


6. She gets all the emotion, and she's a cheerleader even when I'm doing the crazy author thing.


7. She's practically a superhero, fighting for her clients' work! All her clients. All the time. Patricia doesn't take on work she doesn't believe in, and when she does take it on, she is ready to go the distance for that book / that author. She's the one you want fighting for you!


8. She's the best matchmaker. It's like a CP fairy godmother. I'm constantly meeting amazing new CPs and friends thanks to her amazing taste in clients. Belonging to #TheRevisionists is such a privilege, and I'm grateful to call her clients my friends.


9. She's a fountain of cautious optimism. I always have an easier time believing when I talk to Patricia! She believes in me and my writing.


10. She loves books with boundless passion. AND she cares about my characters like they're real people. The other day I was concerned about a character, and she said, "Heather, we both know Julie. There's no way she's letting that happen." Bless you, you book lover, you! I love loving books right along with you.


Patricia, happy happy #AgentsDay! You are truly a gift! All your clients agree, you're the best!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Sometimes You Must Get Your Audrey Hepburn On

And you must do it in a live webinar with your BFF who is concurrently dressed as The Mad Hatter.

You must do this if your friend drags you along kicking and screaming and secretly you don't mind that much because just like exercise, once you get started, it's REALLY fun.

Nikki Trionfo and I have been dear friends, critique partners, and mutual writers' therapists since we did our first NaNoWriMo together when our now 11-year-old daughters were in strollers. Three years ago she won the grand prize in the first chapter contest for the LDStorymakers conference. Two years ago, I won, and now she makes me spend my Thursday nights in January helping other people get their first chapters up to snuff for this contest, or for any other first chapterly purpose.

This January is our second annual series, and we started off tonight in another three-part webinar series.

Session 5: Humor Hooks Readers aired tonight, but the past installments can be watched at the links below:

Session 1: Make Yours Stand Out
Session 2: 
Session 3:
Session 4: (With Charlie Holmberg and Nikki Trionfo.)

Anyway, why am I sharing this with you all? I'm a glutton for punishment, and ready for public humiliation. Also, hopefully some of the information we presented is helpful.

If not... it was free.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mechanics of Desire, Part Three of Three: Obstacles and Stakes

Since this is Part Three, it will reference concepts from Part One and Part Two. I've provided the links if you need a refresher.
Conflict: It's at the heart of story. It should not be based on a misunderstanding, a fake problem, or other silliness that we read about in books and watch in movies and roll our eyes and say . . . yeah, right!

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Once I heard Janette Rallison say that if the source of conflict in your story could be fixed with a fifteen minute frank conversation between two characters, it is not conflict, and I couldn't agree more.

So back to Martine Leavitt, and the final segment--Part Three of her Mechanics of Desire. (My term for it, not hers)

Obstacles and Stakes.

Let me be clear. If your main character doesn't have a clear, powerful emotional and concrete goal, any obstacles you put in their way will seem artificial, and the stakes will be low. The main source of conflict in your novel should be a large or a few large, powerful, believable obstacles that stand in the way of your character getting what he / she wants. Sometimes I start my stories by giving my MC obstacles that they can't overcome. That even I can't see the solution to. These are the hardest stories for me to write, because there is no good answer.

Personally, I prefer stories where there is no easy answer, and where there is no complete answer. Stories that reflect my own mortal experience, and that remind me that life is complicated. That one thing must be sacrificed for something greater, more holy, more pure. Bittersweet at the end.

But I digress.

Let's start with . . .


The stakes of the story, according to Martine Leavitt, answer this question:

What does your character stand to lose if he does not obtain his emotional or concrete desire?

Figure that out, and then amp it up. Make the stakes HUGE. Often throughout the story, finding ways to increase the stakes, and put a deadline on when the character can meet their needs will increase tension in amazing ways.

In TESSA PLUS ONE, Tessa needs family, and love. She convinces herself that in order to meet this need, she has to keep her baby, and build the family she has always lacked. Also, she believes that this is her last chance. That if she loses this baby, she will remain unloved and alone forever. In this way, the stakes are tied up in the main character's controlling belief.

Once you know what the stakes are, you can decide which obstacles to put in between your MC and his / her greatest emotional and concrete desires.


These obstacles can be divided into three categories. You don't have to have all three categories represented in your book, but it will certainly be richer if contains more than one.

Man vs. Man.

Man vs. Self.

Man. vs. Nature

I'll analyze these three from the perspective of my last novel, TESSA PLUS ONE.

Man vs. Man:

In my book, TESSA PLUS ONE, I have Tessa facing off against several people

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families stands as an antagonist to her main goal of staying independent, in control, and deciding what will happen to herself and her baby.

Johnny, the baby's father, is in opposition to Tessa, in that he lies to the school about her pregnancy, and turns friends against her, making her more alone as she tries to get love and support through her pregnancy. He also rejects her himself, refusing to form the family with her that she needs.

Julie, Tessa's foster mother is occasionally an antagonist, because Tessa knows that Julie wants to adopt her baby, and would be a better mother than Tessa would.

Brielle, Tessa's best friend, doesn't help Tessa in the way she needs, and eventually abandons Tessa to meet her own needs.

Man vs. Nature:

Although Tessa isn't really facing off against the elements in this book, there are two examples of Man vs. Nature.

1. The growing baby inside of Tessa. This is a natural part of pregnancy, and it is an inexorable force in the story, forcing Tessa to make decisions, and to move around in the story. Tessa loves the idea of the baby, and forming a family with the baby, but the baby growing inside, and the difficulties of pregnancy are the source of most of the central story tension.

2. Tessa's homelessness forces her to make drastic decisions to find shelter and safety against the coming winter.

Man vs. Self:

In this character-driven story, Tessa is against herself more than anything else. The ultimate conflict must be resolved through Tessa changing in a fundamental, internal way. Tessa struggles with the need for love throughout the story, and ultimately realizes that to sacrifice and give love is more important than to get love, and that giving pure, unselfish love is the only thing she can do in the end. In putting others' needs before her own, Tessa finally receives the love and family she has always needed.

I hope this was helpful. It has helped me a lot to get into the why of a story, and to remember that without these elements, a story is weak or directionless. The other thing I love about this, is the Mechanics of Desire work whether you are a plotter or a discovery writer. Knowing these elements will still provide strength and purpose to your story, no matter which way you like to write.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Natural Character Reactions - Using Beats

Research is Awesome.

Especially when it's not my research.

Especially when it arrives specially timed to make the scene I was semi-murdering into a coherent whole.

Two weeks ago I sat in a writing group with Janci Patterson, critiquing her chapter. It was an explosive scene. So much real emotion. So many amazing mental leaps for the characters. It was so close. But something was missing.

As a critique group, we danced all around it.

"I need to settle into the scene more."
"I wasn't ready to make that mental leap when the character did."
"I need more reaction."
"I need more connection."
"I was almost feeling it, but not quite."

Do these comments sound familiar to you? Have you ever sat through a similar critique and wanted to punch everyone in the face, because that's all well and good but what the Heidi-ho are you supposed to do about the fact that your readers almost went with you, but couldn't quite feel it?

(Image courtesy of Ambro /

 Have you ever written a character who reacts like this picture, but your readers aren't buying it? Or your character has moved on from this moment, and your readers are like, "Hold on! Go back! She said WHAT?!!" 

We all sensed the problem, but not the solution, and frustration over that ambiguity lingered with me all week. I hadn't submitted that week, because my scene was also explosive, pivotal. An epic argument, years in the making. Every beat had to be perfect, and I knew it wasn't ready.

So last night, I went to writing group cringing. Knowing I was in for the same messy critique Janci endured the week before.

First, we critiqued Janci. The same chapter from the week before, reworked. The comments in her critique this time sounded more like:

"Every emotional beat was spot on."
"Everything I couldn't quite grasp last week was fixed."
"I was ready for every reveal."
"I love you, your book, and the world in general."
"You are a writing goddess. How can I become you?"

Wow, I thought. Revision is great. How am I ever going to revise my scene to do what she just did?

I went into my critique holding my breath, waiting for the same confusion that Janci had endured the week before. Only it didn't happen. We finished talking about good things on my manuscript, and Janci said the best thing ever.

"I suffered through my chapter. I had to do a ton of research. I finally know what I was doing wrong. You're doing the same thing wrong. And I can tell you how to fix it."

After the angel choir stopped singing, she got to the crux of it. Very simple. Probably something I've heard in bits and pieces other places, but life-changing last night.

In a nutshell, her research led her to this:

Whenever you drop something in dialog that's surprising to the reader, walk them through it.
Give us the line of dialogue, then a physical / visceral reaction from the POV Character, then their internal reaction. Then let them speak. When the suprise is to the other character, show their physical / visceral reaction, then have them speak. You can also include an internal reaction from the POV character where they interpret the physical reaction of the nonPOV character.

For example:

"Non POV Character speaks."
POV Character has a physical reaction, POV Character internally analyzes what they're feeling / their reaction.
"POV Character speaks."
Non POV character has a physical reaction. POV character interprets this physical reaction.
"Non POV Character speaks."

Of course there are variations, and you do not always need all of these things. Sometimes, as one group member pointed out, it's good to vary it, have one shocking statement follow another, but not usually. Whenever you have a scene that's starting to feel like two talking heads are making great mental leaps too quickly, see if you can apply this technique.

Here's a screen shot from my manuscript where I'm preparing to fix some of these problems.

And here's an example Janci pointed out of where I was trying to do it, but doing it backward:

“I think we should talk about the fact that I’m going to have a baby. Gary can handle it. He’s a big boy.”
“Tessa!” Mom's expression is outraged. Gary’s hand is frozen halfway to his mouth with another pork rind.

A better version would read:

“I think we should talk about the fact that I’m going to have a baby. Gary can handle it. He’s a big boy.”
Mom gasps, too shocked to be outraged. "Tessa!" Her eyes dart to Gary, whose hand freezes halfway to his mouth with another pork rind.
Mom gasps (visceral reaction), too shocked to be outraged (POV Character's interpretation or internal reaction). "Tessa!" (verbal reaction).

This may seem simple and obvious, but I watched Janci's draft go from almost there . . . uh . . . circling right around there . . . gonna totally be there soon if you just fix this one utterly nebulous thing—all the way to nailing it.

I'm writing it here so I don't forget it. Research is amazing. I often think that there's something that on a gut-intuition-level just works, or doesn't. Isn't it amazing when we can apply writing tools to clinically fix what we broke?

Thanks, Janci!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Part Two of Three: The Mechanics of Desire--Controlling Belief and Announced Strategy

This is part two of my three-part series on desire. This is one more priceless part of my experience with Martine Leavitt at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference this summer. It continues to direct everything I do as far as story creation. The next novel I'm writing has been fleshed out entirely using this way of thinking. I think it is going to be a lot easier to write than any of my former books.

You can read part one of this series here. It addresses the character's emotional and concrete desire lines. 

A controlling belief is what your character believes he or she needs to do in order to meet his or her emotional needs.

Especially when you're writing about/for children, and even teens, the thing he or she believes they need to do can be completely random, because young people have little to no power to meet their emotional needs. It does not have to be rational, and it does not have to be correct. It is often a key point of character growth when they realize something mistaken in this core belief, and grow or change  at the climax of the story.

What does your character begin to believe that he or she can do in order to solve his or her problems?

An example that Martine gave, from a book whose title she didn't remember:
A young girl protagonist whose father is away at war, believes that the odds would be more in her favor of her father coming home if her dog died, because the universe wouldn't be that cruel to take the father of a little girl whose dog was dead. In this book, this girl believed that she needed to kill her dog in order to get her father home safely. She spends time convincing herself that she doesn't even like the dog, plots to kill the dog.

In Lord of The Rings, Frodo's emotional need is for safety and security, and his concrete desire is to save the Shire. His controlling belief is that he must destroy the ring in order to overcome the powers of evil, and return to his safe, peaceful life in the Shire.

Your character's controlling belief should carry us through from the beginning of the story to the climax. We should know this belief within the first few chapters. It fits in with the announced strategy, which I'll talk about next.
If controlling belief is what a character believes he or she can do to fulfill his or her emotional needs, announced strategy is when your character tells us what he or she will specifically do to fix it. (What will your character be physically be doing to make their controlling belief a reality?)

What specific plans would the little girl with the dog make to kill the dog? Would she buy poison? Would she build toward a specific set of circumstances on a specific day when she will do him in?

Your announced strategy should be revealed fairly soon—within the first fifty pages if possible. Once your character says what they are going to do to follow their controlling belief and fulfill their emotional and concrete desires, the reader is committed to reading to find out if they will be able to succeed.

This gives your character a reason to move and act. It gives them motivation in every scene, in every conversation. We then know what this character wants more than anything, and what they are committed to do. 

The announced strategy may change as the character moves through the story. The character may have several "try-fail" cycles, and have to adjust their plans.

My main character in my current work in progress (WIP) is a pregnant teenage girl whose mother kicks her out when she refuses to have an abortion. 

Emotional need: love and family

Concrete desire: to keep her baby, to fulfill her need for love

Controlling belief: If she doesn't keep this baby, nothing else can ever fill her need for love. She will be entirely alone, and without family.

Announced Strategy: In chapter two, Tessa makes a list on a yellow legal pad of her options for finding somewhere to stay so that she can keep this baby. It includes the women's shelter, foster care, her lost aunt Nancy in Kansas, the baby's father. Throughout the novel, Tessa keeps this list with her as she tries out different options, and runs out of resources. 

In two weeks, the final installment of this blog series will discuss:
1. Obstacles
2. Stakes

Take a character, give them a strong enough desire, a strong enough controlling belief, and an announced strategy. Make them want it so badly we hurt for them, and then give them huge stakes, and insurmountable obstacles. This is where we get a beautiful story. This is where we have readers breathless over the tension and conflict in our stories. It's what keeps me coming back to the laptop day after day.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mechanics of Desire Part One of Three: How Martine Leavitt Changed My Life

The first time I tried to write a novel, it took me six years.

Inconsistency in writing habits meant the first draft took for years to complete. Even so, finishing felt amazing. I celebrated with my writing girls at Barnes and Noble over Italian cream sodas.

Then I had to revise. I knew the story didn't entirely work, so I rewrote for a year. I had to fix the whole front end of the novel, which was all telling and very little showing. I wrote better lines, funnier scenes.

And in a year I had draft two.

And then my lovely, awful, wonderful, torturous friend, Nikki said these six words to me:

What does your main character want?


Tell me I'm not alone here.

What did my main character want? We went over some other paradigms. What was her arc? What was the central question of the novel?

But it all came down to the fundamental problem in my novel.

I didn't understand the mechanics of desire in story.

My main character didn't have a solid goal. Her motivations were wishy washy.

A third rewrite got me most of the way there.

I wrote two more novels.

And I tried to make sure my characters wanted something. But you know, easier said than done.

People would read my writing and say, "I'm not sure why you included that. It doesn't add to your story."

Of course it adds to my story. It happens in my story. So there. Pbthpppp.

When I attended my first session of Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers this June, some simple, clear principles that I am now calling The Mechanics of Desire changed my life. Martine Leavitt is one of my writing idols for many reasons, but most recently because she has altered my view of creating story forever. She showed a drawing of the classic story arc with climax and denouement and rising action, and then told us she didn't care about that at all. She didn't have any use for it.

Instead, she taught us the principles of storytelling as relate to the main character's emotional and concrete desire lines, their controlling beliefs, their announced strategies, their obstacles, and their stakes. She encouraged us to never, ever write a story without knowing these things first. I have created a worksheet from all of her lectures on this subject, which I will share in a couple of weeks.

But for today, I'm going to start with breaking down my notes from the topic.

Today I'll talk about emotional and concrete desire lines.

Some of this will be direct quotes from Martine, and some will be my interjections. I'm not sure which is which anymore. I just typed as fast as my fingers could move, anxious to soak up every bit of wisdom from this incredible lady.

In every story there are two threads. The emotional story and the concrete/physical story line. We need to know one or the other on page one. Chapter one for sure. The other can come along after that, but very quickly after that in Children's fiction.


Must carry us all the way through the climax. What does your MC want most in the entire world?

We need a desire line in each story line--exactly what that character is all about.

What does she want? What does she need? for each character in each story.

Every character that you put in your book needs to want something. Every character has a story. Even if all they want is a glass of water. Why are they there? - DESIRE LINE.

Your characters need to be real people with real motivations.

In Lord of the Rings: Frodo wants safety and security. That is his emotional desire line.


Sometimes the concrete desire is revealed way before we know the motivation / emotional desire line. But the writer needs to know both, and reveal them as he/she goes along.

Frodo's emotional desire line is safety and security. His concrete desire line, which must parallel the emotional desire line, is to save the shire. The shire represents that safety and security for Frodo.


Both the emotional and concrete desire lines take us right to the climax. When you're trying to figure out what this is, it's the desire that doesn't change for your character from the very beginning right to the climax. Both emotional and concrete desire lines will span almost the whole book.

In youth literature, the main character will typically have one or both desire lines fulfilled in the end.

If they get the emotional, and not the concrete, or the concrete, but not the emotional, we have a wistful, sad feeling ending, with just enough to satisfy us, and give us hope for our character.

If they get neither desire line, it is a tragedy.

Often they get both, and it is a happy ending.

In my current work in progress, the main character receives her emotional desire, but not her concrete desire. At the end of the story, she sacrifices her concrete desire line, because she can't have both. It means that the ending is really emotional, and somewhat painful.

But satisfying, I hope!

I hope this was helpful. These principles are simple, but have helped me so much.

Read Part 2: CONTROLLING BELIEFS, AND ANNOUNCED STRATEGIES—two other principles that changed how I look at story, and made plotting SO much easier!


Happy writing, all!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More Than You Ever Needed To Know

Some fun questions so you can get to know me a little better:

1. What books and / or authors are most inspiring to you as a writer?
It's an eclectic assortment. There are a lot of books that when I read them, I wish desperately to have written them. These are books that carry me away in the characters or the setting so completely that I forget that what I'm reading isn't reality. They build real people who become my friends.

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch. She can take me into the life of one athletic farm girl so completely that I never want to leave.

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. Just read it. Then you will know.

The Casson Family series by Hilary McKay. I love this writer. I want to go find her and sit next to her while beautiful, real, dry, funny, innocent words fall from her fingers onto the keys of her computer. I also want to go live in England with Rose Casson. These books are pure magic. Go read them, if you've ever wanted to fall in love with pretend people.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. Same. I love these children. I love how high stakes can be for children, even while they're just living their mundane lives. No witches, wizards, or vampires, here.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Pure straight magic. Lots of witches and wizards. Delightful humor. Page-turning plot. A reading experience I'm not sure I'll ever be able to repeat. The first time in my life waiting with baited breath for every installment.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Not my genre, or so I would have thought. Too violent, or so I would have thought. How did she do what she did to me, and everyone else who has read this book? I need to read it like a textbook.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – A reminder that not every minute has to be action packed. A reminder that sometimes reading a slow-burning story pays off in amazing ways. Every word is perfect.

I could go on and on. And I have. Those are just a few of my favorite reads.

Add in Character and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card, and On Writing by Stephen King, and I think you've got a pretty good reading list.

2. What is your writing background?

I have been filling notebooks with the starts of novels since elementary school. I have wanted to be a writer since I wrote a short story that won an award and some serious teacherly acclaim in the classroom of Max Foran at Midnapore Elementary School in Calgary, Canada.

In high school I wanted to write pioneer romances, and spent hours in Heritage Park, a pioneer village theme park, dreaming up characters and scenes and writing them down. I narrated my sister Kathryn off to sleep every night with my stories.

In college, I majored in French teaching and minored in English teaching and read and wrote entirely too much to think about fiction. Then I taught high school French for three years, and was too busy to think much about writing. But when my first baby was just over a year old, I did my first NaNoWriMo, and wrote 25,000 words of an epic fantasy.

The next year, frustrated by thinking up what to have my characters wear, and what to call their breakfast, I decided to write a Young Adult contemporary novel. With many breaks, and three sets of rewrites, that novel took me six years to complete. But by the time I was finished, I was a serious writer.

From 2009 to 2013 I have completed that novel, co-written a MG contemporary mystery with my husband, and written another YA contemporary. My next project is a MG contemporary. I am now represented by the lovely Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Agency in New York. I am so excited to continue writing. I can't imagine ever stopping.

3. Describe your writing process / writing schedule.

I write a minimum of fifteen minutes every day, five days a week. I have little children, a photography business, and a lot of housework, gardening, and cooking to keep up with. If I'm not careful, writing will never appear on my schedule. So I make time. My fifteen minutes every day of determined writing means that I always show up, and I'm ready to be inspired and continue my writing.

The only way I can write well is to do it in the morning, so I try to write every day as soon as my one-year-old goes down for his nap. Often that includes my three year old pressed up against my arm while she snuggles and watches a movie. So a zen place with all quiet and no interruptions is a fantasy for me, as I think it is for many authors. Instead of waiting for the perfect time, I write every single day. Most days I write for at least an hour. My personal best is 6200 words in one day. I like to check my word count every day, and report it to my writing group, for accountability.

I'm still learning about my writing process all the time. I generally find that while drafting I can produce about 1200 words in an hour, and that they need editing the next day before I go on.

My one recent breakthrough was a determination to finish a first draft regardless of what I discover on the way there. So if on chapter 6 I decide that my MC is really a dancer instead of a writer, I change from that moment on, and keep writing as though the changes are already made. I feel like you can't have all the discoveries and breakthroughs that you need until you write all the way through to the end, so I don't allow any criticism, feedback, or changes derail me from making it through once, changing as I go. Then I go back and rewrite, removing what doesn't work, and putting in new material now that I know my characters and their arcs.

One more thing I'll be posting about is the Mechanics of Desire worksheet that I put together during my week-long Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers course with Martine Leavitt. Before I start any novel, I work through my character's desire lines, and I understand what they really want. It's only by doing this that I can really understand what will naturally develop in my plot.

4. What is one tip you'd like to give to a writer just starting out?

Two tips?

Know what your character wants more than anything in this world (emotional desire) and know what they want most in the physical/concrete world that parallels this (concrete desire.) Know what your character thinks he/she needs to do to meet his/her emotional needs. (controlling belief.) Once you know this, give your character a big obstacle (man vs. self, man vs. nature, man vs. man) that stands between them and their desires. Amp up the obstacles. And make the stakes high. (What does your character stand to lose if they fail to meet their emotional and concrete desires?) These elements will will interact to create your story in an organic way without a lot of intense, external plot structures. When I finished my rewrite of my first novel, I still didn't know what my MC wanted. Near-disaster ensued.

Write for at least 15 minutes every day! DO IT!

5. Why do you write? Why do you write what you write (genre, age group, etc.)?

Here's my short answer. I write because I have to. It fills me up in ways that nothing else does. It's my personal take on the creative process and I think creativity is a fundamental human need.

Speed Round:

Music or silence while writing?
Silence, or as close as my three children let me get.

Do you act out your scenes for accuracy?
No. But I do read aloud.

Favorite dessert?
Cheesecake. Hands down. Preferably lime-flavored.

Drafting or revising?
I always prefer drafting.

Notebook or computer?
Alphasmart Neo for drafting.
Laptop for editing.

Word or Scrivener?
Scrivener, baby!

Favorite Genre you've written in?
YA contemporary.

Favorite Genre you'd like to try?
MG contemporary. (Familial, delicious!)