The Amy Is An Idiot GIVEAWAY!

Hello dear readers! Not too long ago, I set a wet towel on the box of my books I keep in my car to sell (literally out of the back of my car). As to be expected, some of the books became casualties of too much summer fun. My stupidity is your gain! I can't bear the thought of throwing away still readable books, so I'm giving them away with some added goodies. There will be five winners. Below are pictures of the books, so you can decide if the water-damage is too much for you.

Instructions on how to enter are at the end of the post.

Prize Pack CAKE + LEMON: includes a copy of THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE and LUCK, LOVE & LEMON PIE, one amazing Lou candle from Book Scents (it smells like coconut, bacon, and whipped cream), one CAKE and one LEMON magnet, and one CAKE and one LEMON sticker--not pictured (these are perfect for cars and computers as they come of easily). 

See how water logged! These two saw the worst damage, but I promise, they are still very readable!

See how water logged! These two saw the worst damage, but I promise, they are still very readable!

Prize Pack LEMON + CHOICES: includes the amazing book by bestselling author Karma Brown, THE CHOICES WE MAKE (in pristine condition), a waterlogged LUCK, LOVE & LEMON PIE, a LEMON magnet, and one CAKE and one LEMON sticker--not pictured (these are perfect for cars and computers as they come of easily). 

The damage on this copy isn't as bad. 

The damage on this copy isn't as bad. 

Prize Pack LEMON: I have 3 of these to give away. Includes a copy of LUCK, LOVE & LEMON PIE, a LEMON magnet, and one CAKE and one LEMON sticker--not pictured (these are perfect for cars and computers as they come of easily). 

HOW TO ENTER
1. In a comment below, tell me something silly/idiotic/embarrassing you have done. Don't skip this part. I want to know I'm not the only person who makes ridiculous mistakes.
2. Let me know which prize pack you want to win. For example, if you only want to be entered to win Prize Pack LEMON, type LEMON. If you want to be entered to win CAKE + LEMON and LEMON + CHOICES, type that. If you want to win all of them, type ALL. When in doubt, list all the prize packs you want to be entered to win. 

Sorry, only US or Canadian* winners. Shipping is really expensive. 
The contest ends Friday, September 16 at noon, CST. I'll randomly choose the winners later that day. 

*Shipping to Canada is still pricey, but I'm including it in honour of my dear friend, Karma Brown, who teaches me to spell Canadian. ;)

Where Did a Year Go?

It's been almost a year since I last posted and a lot has happened. My first novel, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE was released and has been out for almost a year. I've been to several book events and fests, met oodles of other authors I admire, like Rainbow Rowell and Mary Kubica. My kids completed another year of school, I redesigned my website (isn't it pretty?), I signed a book deal for two more books, and my second novel, LUCK, LOVE & LEMON PIE will be out in a mere four weeks.

So, dear reader, I'll do my best to not wait another entire year to post again. I'll also be working on an occasional newsletter, so if you'd like to get it, please sign up! I promise not to post too often. 

One Month to Go!!!

  It's been a while since I've posted here -- I hope you've been checking out my posts over at The Debutante Ball. It's exactly one month before THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is released into the wild!

So, dear reader, to celebrate, I'm doing a pre-order promotion. Email proof that you pre-ordered C3 before July 21 to HelloAmyEReichert@gmail.com and I'll mail you a signed bookplate and C3 bookmark. 

 

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Make sure your address is included in the email.

 

Let's celebrate!!!

 

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For Melly and Mark.

It's Not All About Writing

There's been a lot in the news about men harassing women. This video where a woman walks around NYC for 10 hours was eyeopening for some, a daily routine for others. Out in suburbia, there aren't a lot of cat calls when I walk around the neighborhood, other than barking dogs and swearing chipmunks (you know how chipmunks can be). But when I've ventured out of my safe haven and gone to the big city, inappropriate comments from strange men was just part of the experience. It happened in NYC, in Chicago, and in l'il ole Milwaukee. And it sucked.

It was uncomfortable.

I'm a Midwesterner. We like to be polite and acknowledge each other, so when a stranger says hi, my instinct is to respond. But I can't. There is no way of telling if it will be a friendly encounter or lead to something much scarier. So I assume the worst and put on my "Don't Fuck With Me" face.

 

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Which leads me to what is prompting this post.

This morning I decided to walk to the grocery store -- about two miles away. I only needed some hamburger buns, and it was beautiful out. The kind of crisp, sunny fall day where a long hike seems the best way to celebrate it before the winds turn too cold and the snow begins to pile up.

I've lived in my current home about 4 years, and today I discovered some nearby trails I'd never walked before, so I took them to the store. Leaves crunched underfoot, fall colors flecked the sky above, and the surrounding trees kept the chill wind from growing to strong. I had good music playing through my headphones and I had a solid chunk of time all to myself to think about my WIP. It was almost perfect. Almost.

But I couldn't relax. I bet the women reading this already know why.

During the entire 45 minute walk there and back, half of my attention was on the look out for potential attack. I was alone in a secluded place. No one would see it if someone attacked. No one would hear me. My eyes scanned the underbrush watching for movement, I turned down my music to listen for additional footsteps in the rustling leaves, and I watched my shadow to make sure no one snuck up behind me.

 

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This may sound paranoid to you, especially any men reading this, but this isn't an isolated concern. Anytime I walk anywhere by myself, be it to my car in a parking lot or down the block with my dog, I'm constantly on the look out for predators.

And I live in a very safe neighborhood. I bet most of my neighbors don't lock their houses at night.

When I returned from my walk, I told my hubby about the beautiful trail, then asked if he'd ever had a similar experience. He said he'd never once worried about that. Not once.

So dear reader, this wildly different experience of the world has me thinking. Even in my safe world, I can't let my guard down, and this pisses me off. Could we ever create a world where women don't need to be paranoid all the time? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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In the Meantime...

So, as I've mentioned a few times, I'm a Deb on the The Debutante Ball this year. It's exciting and fun, but it's taking more time than I had expected. As a result, I won't be posting as much here. sadtwilight

 

Don't be sad.

I'll be back.

It's just a hiatus until fall 2015. I'll still post important things and celebrate when my book bounces into the world next summer.

In the meantime, please visit me every Tuesday over on The Ball. And there are weekly giveaways, exciting guest bloggers, and four other talented, wonderful ladies.

So get out your tiara and visit me at The Ball.

 

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My Book Deal - A Story of Persistence, Timing, and Exhibit A

First, this has been a whirlwind week of announcements for me, between my book deal and being accepted into the 2014-2015 Debutante Ball class. As weeks go, it's a pretty damn good one. Here's the official proclamation from Publisher's Marketplace. Isn't it pretty?

 

PM Announcement

It seems that every other day, another writer is telling the tale of their whirlwind path to the bookstore. She sent out one query. She had ten agent offers. Her book sold at auction after being on sub for five days. She debuted on the NYT's Bestseller List. Stephen King wants to know about her writing process. Oprah babysits her kids so she can work on her second book.

I'm here to tell you, dear reader, that those are the exceptions. They are the Cinderella stories of the publishing world. The fantasy. Yes, they happen, but not often and probably not to you. Let's be honest. For most authors, the path to publication is long, painful, and paved with rejection.

 

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And that's okay. In fact, it might even be a good thing.

I set before you Exhibit A - me.

THE STORY

I signed with my excellent agent, Rachel Ekstrom, last year. If you're interested in such things, here's that story. The short version: it took a long time. During that process, I met a lot of writer friends, I overhauled my manuscript multiple times, and I learned how the publishing industry worked. Had my manuscript sold quickly, I might not have met those friends, or studied my craft, or followed the industry so closely.

Once Rachel and I went on submission, I was optimistic we'd quickly find the perfect publisher. But weeks went by, then months. Then the rejections appeared. Note: Rejections while on submission are some of the kindest "no, thank yous" you'll ever see, but they sting like a motherfucker.  As time went on, hope dwindled. I admit it, I started doubting my little story would find a publisher. But Rachel kept believing and kept trying.

But here's the lesson, dear reader, publishing isn't just about writing the best story you can and throwing it out there. A lot comes down to persistence and timing. While publishing is a (frequently harsh) business, it's also based on passion. Agents and editors need to have passion for the stories and authors they work with. They are your first cheerleaders, your connection to the people who make decisions, and your Yodas when you need guidance. These people share your vision. They are as unique as your story and sometimes, it takes a little while to find them. In my case, it took about ten months.

 

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In my tale, Rachel and Kate Dresser (Editor Extraordinaire) were having a conversation unrelated to my book. Kate mentioned she had read my manuscript while at a different publishing house and hadn't forgotten it. Rachel let her know it was still available and the rest, as they say, is history. We didn't give up on my book and now The Coincidence of Coconut Cake has the perfect editor at Gallery. From our first conversation, Kate has made it clear that she believes in my story.

 

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This process takes times. Believe in your writing, but continue to make it better. Accept and even embrace that you'll face a lot of rejections. Those rejections aren't because your writing is awful and you're a hack, but because you haven't found the right match. For me, I couldn't imagine a more perfect imprint or a more enthusiastic editor. It's everything I wanted and more. And that, dear reader, was well worth the wait.

Pitch Wars Mentor Bio - Adult

I am over the moon to be a Pitch Wars mentor this year. Last year, I HIYAed my way in as a Ninja Mentor and read some incredible manuscripts. I'm a huge believer in online writing contests of this sort. Not only do you get some first rate feedback from incredible mentors, but -more importantly- you can meet and cheer on new writer friends. Best way to make friends - tell them you admire their work (and mean it, too). Make it your goal to meet three new writer friends through the contest. You can thank me later.  

ABOUT ME

I'm a stay-at-home mom turned stay-at-home mom/author. I'm represented by the fantastic Rachel Ekstrom at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. I write light women's fiction and have my first book coming out in 2015 (Gallery/Simon & Schuster). I'm a pop culture glutton who regularly tests the limits of my DVR. Before kiddos, I earned my MA in Literature (late British and American) and honed my editing skills as a technical writer (I can write instructions in my sleep, which is what happens when you're a technical writer). You can find me frolicking daily on Twitter - feel free to ask me questions or send me Chris Evans gifs. If I could accept bribes, they would be in the form of high-quality baked goods, hard ciders, and sharp cheddars.

 

WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR - ADULT ONLY

1. Writing trumps all. The below preferences are based on the current make-up of my bookshelf, but if you have a knock-my-socks off premise with even better writing, I want to read it. I'll read anything if it's done well. Case in point, my choices last year were a contemporary romance, spec fiction, and a historical. I can't resist a well-told story.

2. Your query needs to grab me, then your pages need to make me beg for more. Without a great query, I'm not going to read the pages.

3. That being said, your chances are better in the following categories: women's fiction, romance, urban fantasy, fantasy, and commercial fiction. Something like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern or Attachments by Rainbow Rowell would make me swoon. I'd love some quirky characters, unconventional wooing, and unexpected turns. A hint of magic or a glimpse at a lesser-known society/occupation will grab my eye.

4. Even though I said fantasy, do not send me your 250,000 word manuscript. You are not George RR Martin (but if you are, I'd be happy to beta the Winds of Winter manuscript). Regardless of genre, be aware of word counts, while not a dealbreaker, a 120K women's fiction tells me you're a few edits away from a query-ready manuscript, and that's more than I'm willing to take on for this contest's time frame.

5. While I'm reluctant to rule out any genre/category, if you write memoirs, horror, cozy mysteries, inspirational, or thrillers, I'm probably not your girl.

6. I love a happy ending. It doesn't have to be all sunshine and unicorns (though unicorns make most books better), but I like to know the characters you made me fall in love with end well.

7. You can make me cry, but you better make me laugh too. If you do it with a nerdy reference or two, all the better.

8. I love learning about an unsual industry or location. I'm currently reading a book where the main character makes handcrafted shoes (Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani). It's amazing.

9. I love food and foodie fiction (which is why I wrote one). Bonus points for making me hungry.

10. I love a well-executed twist that's been meticulously set up so it feels earned.

11. These are a few of the authors I love. While some of these are not Adult, I think they give you an idea of what I like. Rainbow Rowell, JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, Sophie Kinsella, John Green, Jasper Fforde, Suzanne Collins, Erin Morgenstern, Jeanne Ray, Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, George RR Martin, Peter Beagle, Cassandra Clare, Kim Harrison, Chad Harbach, David Levithan, Adriana Trigiani, Ursula LeGuin, Willa Cather, Maureen Johnson.

12. Non-book entertainment I love: Anything Marvel, Crazy, Stupid, Love (best contemp rom-com IMO), Sherlock, The Book of Morman (the musical, not the religious text - cause that would be a book), an embarrassing number of shows on the CW - but especially Arrow.

So, that's the list. Now show me what you've got!

On August 18, you can submit your entry at Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars site.

 

letmeloveyou

 

 

ALL THE PITCHWARS MENTORS

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Blog Roll: Writing

So, my fabulous writing friends, Ann Garvin and Sarah Cannon, must think I'm not blogging enough (which I'm not), because they both sent me the same blog roll invite. It's essentially chain mail for blogs, minus the silly "your wish will be granted if you forward this" false promises. And it's been a while, so why not actually do it? Here we roll...  

PandaRoll

 

1.WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

A few different things (like finally cleaning my house from top to bottom - but you don't want to hear about how I'm using Murphy's Oil Soap on all the woodwork). My newest project is revising my just-finished baby draft.

 

2. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE? I write light women's fiction with some romance thrown in. I try to introduce characters who are from places and/or jobs not overly covered in literature, like Milwaukee!!! This latest is about a woman trying to reconnect with her hubby of 20 years, so she learns to play poker so they can go on dates. While poker is not a great date game, my character discovers she has a knack for it. As her skill increases, her marriage continues to crumble, until she needs to decide to stop bluffing and put all her cards on the table (ha, lots of card cliches to use). I like to think I'm taking a new angle on the mid-life crisis/troubled marriage trope. Plus, not a lot of writers tackle Texas Hold'em.

 

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3. WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I WRITE? I write stories with happy endings and some (hopefully a lot of) of humor. It's one of the many genres I love to read. Also, when I daydream, these are the stories I tell myself. I write them down so I can share them with you.

 

4. HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK? HAHAHAHAHAHA! This implies that I have a writing process. I'm making this shit up as I go along. I have learned writing that first draft is harder than giving birth sans painkillers (yeah, I did that, not by choice - but that's another story). I do love revising. Give me a story to shake up and reassemble and I'm a happy girl. I love adding in the layers with each revision, refining imagery, polishing up characters. I've also learned I need to give myself small goals, like go through two chapters a day or write 1000 words - otherwise, it's easy to get bogged down. Lastly, I accept that I'm going to go through my manuscript 10-15 times, maybe more. I'm not one of those writers that can revise as I go or accomplish multiple goals on each pass. I pick one or two items (like expanding imagery and cleaning up unnecessary words) to fixate on - then go through it. Then I pick a few more items, and go through it again. Repeat. So, I guess I do have a process - revise, revise, and revise some more.

 

5. AND ANOTHER PART OF THIS QUESTION, HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS NOT WORK?

Hmm, the part of my writing process that doesn't work.... hey, look over there, some Benedict Cumberbatch gifs, and a new article about Harry Potter. *wanders off for thirty minutes* Oh, you're still here - what was I doing? Right, what doesn't work about my writing process - that should be obvious, I'm easily distracted by the internet. If I have real work to do, I need to turn it off. Thankfully, there's an app for that - Freedom.

 

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So, dear reader, now it's time to pass the torch to some more lovely writers: Sarah Henning, Mark Benson, and Brianna Shrum. Tag, you're it!

 

Free to Be You and Me for Writers

I had plans, big plans. I would be a paragon of writing diligence and finish my novel by Easter, come hell or high water (I love that saying). I had ambitious daily word count goals, a decent outline, and a lot of chocolate. My family had agreed to writing days where they couldn't speak to me - and they even kind of stuck to it. It was my own personal NaNoWriMo.  

And a week before Easter, my outline was more fully realized, the chocolate was significantly depleted, but responsibilities had popped up causing my daily word count goals to crumble and the novel was no where near done. I had failed.

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So what happened?

 

I had managed to keep up with my goals for a week, then my brain froze. Every idea I had, every word I typed reeked with suckitude. I didn't make any progress. My daily word count goal had risen to scary numbers. I freaked because I could never meet them and the Work In Progress was awful anyway, so why bother. I spiraled (we’ve talked about the spiral before).

 

Now, let’s be very clear here - I didn’t meet my goals because of me. I am my own worst writing enemy. I either set goals  too high or not high enough. There’s a balance to doing this writing thing, where you can maintain steady progress, keep your writing tools in tip-top shape, but still enjoy the rest of your life. I’m trying to find that perfect balance of writing, family, house, and me. Here's the important point in all this - my perfect balance is different than your perfect balance. When it comes to writing habits, only yours matter - or as Marlo Thomas taught me - I'm free to be you and me.

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Not only will my balance be my own, but it will also be no better or no worse than other writers. I know people who frequently crank out three thousand words a day (I’m side-eyeing you, Mark), and I know people who will make their daily word count even with children vomiting on their laptop (I bow to those dedicated folks). We all have a different formula where we find happiness and fulfillment and mine hovers around 1K a day.

 

A thousand words seems about right. On a good day, I can blow by that in 90 minutes and turn my attention to the laundry towers of doom. On a slow day, I can squeeze out those words between youtube videos, dream vacation planning, and scouring the internet for adorable corgi pictures to send my agent.

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So, dear reader, there are no right or wrong writing habits. We're free to be you and me. I’m finding my balance. Share yours in the comments - I’d love to hear how you make it work.

 

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Sucking and the Second Book

If you've been anywhere near me in recent weeks, you know I'm struggling with my work in progress. I mean, really struggling. Like, why am I even doing this kind of struggling. Like, I could be reading instead of feeling like a sucky loser with no ability to string two words together kind of struggling. It's been fun. legoguythrowscomputer

I know I can write a book, so what's the big deal? What if my first book was an anomaly? A one off? What I can't do it again? My current WIP has no focus. The characters are flopping about like netted fish on a dry boat deck. The plot flounders in the middle, then fizzles into nothing. I have no idea how I'm going to achieve a satisfying ending. It all feels like scrabble tiles tossed onto the floor. While each story element is a separate something, they aren't making anything cohesive.

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I know this type of struggling is common. I've been reading other posts to find some reassurance that I'm not alone. And I know I'm not, but that knowledge isn't helping.

I've forgotten that The Cake Effect took almost 2 years to write with long stretches of no progress. I've forgotten the many, many (at least ten) revisions I did. I've forgotten that the layers weren't there in the first draft (or the second, third, or fourth), the symbols weren't there, the focus was not there. I've forgotten all the sloppiness and only remember the delicate tweaking of the later drafts, where I could play with the language rather than shovel in plot holes. I've forgotten how much it sucked in the beginning. I've forgotten that I wrote that first book just to see if I could, just for the fun of it.

So, with my selective memory being selective, I've fallen down the pit of writer despair. I see a lot of old friends here. There's self-loathing, insecurity, and procrastination (we go way back). In that corner waits self-doubt, jealousy, and fear. It's a party down here.

On top of my struggling is the never-ending parade of colleagues whipping novels off like sticky notes. How do they do it? Why can they do it, but I can't? What is wrong with me? Why are they all so much better, smarter, faster?

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I'm reminded I know nothing about how to write. I've never taken a creative writing class (wait, I think I did, but I can't remember anything about it). Everything I do is intuitive, based on years as an avid reader. Sure, I've read a few books on writing, but I really don't understand the craft and art. I have no idea how to pick up the storytelling legos and build a Death Star. I only build the cliched crappy houses with no windows or doors. I can't even build the double-decker couch from The Lego Movie.

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So what now? First, I can't compare myself to other writers. I gotta do it my way. Second, after reading  those many, many posts hoping for some information, I am reminded that sucky first drafts are a writerly right of passage. We all do them. Let me repeat that. We ALL do them. I read an interview with Wally Lamb in the newest Writer's Digest. He said his first draft is telling the story to himself. He doesn't know who the main characters are going to be, he doesn't know what they're going to do, he goes with it.

And I think that's my problem. I know I want all the wonderful layers, I know I want meaningful symbols, witty  dialogue, and relatable characters. But I can't write them now. They need a base to attach them to. I need to start with the story, then add  each element in one at a time. A great puff pastry isn't just butter and flour added together at once. You add in some butter, fold, and roll it. Then you do it again, then you do it again, then you do it again (this is why I buy pre-made puff pastry - it's a lot of fucking work). And that's how writing a novel works. You start with the core, add a little more and work with it. Then add a little more and work it in. Then add a little more and work it. It's a lot of fucking work, but unlike puff pastry, I can't buy my novel in the freezer section. It will only come out of me.

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I wish I could write with focus and efficiency - but that isn't how I work. It needs to be sloppy and muddy and messy. I need to let the crazies loose on the page to dance and twirl and tear up the scenery. I need to explore the silly, delve into the drama, and pursue the illusive. I don't know what madness will eek out - but I need to let it. Because when I get out the soapy water to clean it all up, that's when I'll find the beauty hidden in the muck.

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So there it is, dear reader. I've granted myself permission to not only suck, but to suck with abandon. I'm putting it all out there. I can always fix it later.

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Ahem, this gif is purely gratuitous (because all the other Sherlock gifs are absolutely necessary).

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Writing Makes You Crazy

People often associate writers and mental instability. I imagine a twitchy recluse surrounded by empty whiskey bottles (or is that just me?). I've always assumed writers start out off balance - that's why they write. It's their much-needed outlet for the madness in the attic. drinkingauthor

But I've been doing it for a few years now, and I'm starting to think it's the reverse.

See, dear reader, I've always been an even-keeled gal. Very little upsets me and I'm pretty good at rolling with life's endless surprises. I would never have considered myself moody or depressed. And I would  never have thought of myself as bi-polar. I know several people who suffer from such chemical imbalances and was grateful I never experienced it. I was even-keeled all the way, baby.

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But then I started writing and, more significantly, I started sharing my writing with other writers, friends, family, agents. I met many people in the publishing world, heard the stories, and read the articles. You might think learning about the industry I'd wandered into would be a good thing - after all, knowledge is power. Sadly, the more I knew, the worse I felt.

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There are a lot of writers out there trying to get a book published, and a lot of books that actually get published. The difference between the two numbers, well, let's just say an anthill and Mt. Everest are closer together. It's daunting. Never mind the subjective nature of the biz, the impressive word counts other writers seem to create in their sleep, and the challenge of finding the right story idea that's surprising yet familiar enough to fit into the pre-requisite publishing categories.

It makes a writer question everything. Am I original enough? Is my story relatable? Am I writing fast enough? Will anyone like what I write? Why bother if there are already fifteen apocalyptic baking contest books?

And the answer to all of these questions is "I suck." I'm not good enough, I'm not creative enough, I'm not prolific enough. The descent into this misery pit goes quickly, and then you're stuck in the sticky goo of paranoia and insecurity.

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And here's the crazy part. I don't spend all my time in that pit. The very next day, I'll sprout wings and soar out of there with ideas bursting, witty banter flowing onto the page, and plot twists that would make a CW scriptwriter jealous.

These ups and downs, they happen a lot more than I'm comfortable with, but, dear reader, I'm learning to embrace them. That pit, it always has an escape hatch but I can't find it if I stop looking. And the writing life outside that pit is so spectacular, so dynamic, it's worth the occasional descent.

Recipes and Revelations

I'm in the midst of writing book 2, and I'm struggling, a lot. I know kinda where I want to go and kinda how I want to get there, but it isn't clear how to do it. When I wrote The Cake Effect, I had months of notes, a detailed outline, and then more notes on top of that. I'd been writing it without actually putting words on the page for months, so when I typed out chapters, I knew exactly what I was writing. No one knew what I was up to yet, so there was no pressure if it never went past the planning phase.

With WIP2, I had an idea combined with the self-proclaimed title of Writer. That was it. I sat at the computer with an idea which evolved into an opening scene, then a few more chapters to meet the characters. Then the brick wall.

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Since then, I've  fumbled to get to the other side of that damn wall. I jumped ahead and wrote some scenes where new characters are introduced and a bit of the denouement. But it wasn't helping me get the story rolling. I was missing something important. Combine my floundering with seeing all my fantastic writing friends posting astronomical word counts and failure began stalking me (never mind how cute and fuzzy it is).

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Fortunately, I already had the answer in my other passion, cooking. When I cook, I always start with a recipe - my plan to get me started. The first time I make a new recipe, I follow it perfectly. Then the next time, I make tweaks until it's what I want. This is what I needed for my writing; I needed a recipe, something I could tweak as needed but got me started.

Unfortunately, if you google my book title plue recipe, nothing useful (or even gifable) comes up in the results. And then my second revelation - the January 2014 Writer's Digest magazine (so new I couldn't find an image of it online). It has spectacular articles about writing your novel in 2014. One article has a handy dandy chart laying out the plot beats and what they need to include. It was the recipe I needed.

Using their fantastic chart as a guide, I mapped out my novel on the dry erase board. I know what I need to accomplish to get my main storyline cooking. As I go, I can sketch out the sub-plots to revise later.

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So, dear reader, with a little help from Writer's Digest, I have the recipe I need to finish my novel. Perhaps I should make some cake to go with it.