Bittersweet

After a multi-year hiatus–peppered with rare, stolen moments of work–and half a year of concentrated effort, I’ve finished the rough draft of my speculative novel, NIGHT GARDEN.

Emphasis on the word “rough.”

A quick glance at my Track Changes application shows 119 comments sprinkled throughout the manuscript, indicating spots where I need to weave in world-building elements, affirm timelines, research further, fill in creative pits, and shore up plot points and character motivations. In addition, I have notes scrawled on napkins, sermon notes, and Post-Its–whatever I could grab before the thought fled.

Then there are the two notebooks (including one of those ultra-sexy yellow-pads) full of the most poorly organized notes imaginable.

I’ve got just a wee bit of work to do before this baby’s ready for prime time.

Still, it’s a major accomplishment, just completing the beast. I typed 112,632 words. I wrote 35 chapters. I hit the point where I could legitimately pen that final flourish: “The End.”

I should be skipping. Dancing. Celebrating with a glass of wine.

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Letters & Literature

I felt like a Jane Austen heroine, receiving this eagerly-anticipated (8 page!) hand-written letter containing a friend’s thoughts on my historical novel.

The stationary may have changed a bit since Austen’s time, but I’m guessing the sense of eager excitement’s just the same.

And in this world of handy-dandy, insta-communication, there’s a particular specialness about a letter that someone took the time and effort to physically craft.

Of course, that could just be my romantic, literature-nerd sensibilities talking.

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Writerly Resilience & Novel No. 2

I won’t lie: The past few days of writing have required a healthy, heaping dose of courage. Why, you ask?

Because I’m finally returning to NIGHT GARDEN, the novel I started way back in 2015.

I know–that doesn’t sound particularly terrifying. But between now and then, my novel-writing life has been a roller-coaster-y one. When I started NIGHT GARDEN four years ago, I’d just finished writing and editing PROHIBITED, my 1920s novel. NIGHT GARDEN was meant to be my work-in-progress while I shopped PROHIBITED for literary agent representation.

There was just one kink in my glossy little plan. At 700 pages, PROHIBITED was literally twice the size it should’ve been. If novels can be likened to sharks, PROHIBITED was a whale shark instead of a sleek, speedy mako. 🦈

(Somewhere out there, at least my brother Hunter gets this metaphor.) But if you’re not so into sharks, here’s a visual: PROHIBITED’s first draft.

Image may contain: Lauren Michelle Peltier Derby

Yep, waaaaaaaaay too many pages in that stack.

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If Making a Snow Penguin is Wrong, Then I Don’t Wanna Be Right

Today, I had a ton to do:

  • 1.5 hours of setting up my Etsy shop
  • 4 hours of painting
  • 7 hours of writing

So naturally, I took time out of my busy schedule to make a rather misshapen snow penguin named Hugo, after Victor Hugo of Hunchback of Notre Dame fame. (See aforementioned note re: misshapen-ness.)

To be clear: procrastination is always bad. Unless it involves a snow penguin. Then it’s very, very right.

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Ah, the twin hazards of being a freelance artist/writer: procrastination and performance anxiety.

As soon as I sit down at my watercolor block and pick up my brushes, I find myself convinced that the writerly muse has suddenly, decisively descended and I must return to my novel RIGHT. FRICKIN’. NOW.

The minute I pull up that chapter I’m re-writing for the second third fourth fifth time, my eyes sneak back toward my painting. I mean, is it really wise to give up the last good natural light of the day?

I think I might need a personal assistant. Just to set off the shock collar every time I think changing up activities every five minutes is a good way to be productive.

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Publication News!

Already anxious about your Christmas shopping? Wondering what to get the literature nerd in your life? (After all, you can only buy them so many book cover T-shirts from Out of Print. Of course, they also offer sweatshirts, scarves, mugs….)

Well, look no further! Hitting stores in late December, Family, Friends & Foes: Human Dynamics in Hispanic Worlds marks the newest anthology in a series on Hispanic literature that includes other such favorites as:

And may I recommend, in particular, Chapter 4: “ ‘In This Madhouse’: Myth, Message, and Kaleidoscopic Kin in Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude“?

It just so happens to share its author in common with this blog. And that makes for notch number 4 in my lit anthology gun belt!

Image result for huzzah meme

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Comedy & Query Trenches

I recently took a 6-month hiatus from querying literary agents so I could focus on putting my historical novel on a very-much-needed weight loss plan. Now that I’ve lopped off 30+ percent of the book (and it can finally wiggle back into that little black dress), it’s time for me to return to the query trenches.

As anyone who’s been there before–or is hunkered down now–can attest, those trenches are not a fun place to be. There’s a lot of research, a lot of letter-honing, a lot of hoping/praying, a lot of waiting, a lot of stress-eating-ice-cream-by-the-pint.

A lot of bracing for the inevitable rejection. As Dana Stabenow said,

“To be a writer is to embrace rejection as a way of life.”

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