Fully Exposed – Day 24



A rainy day here, but I holed up by a fireplace at one of my favorite cafes and drank my latte, ate hash browns* and finished reading/revising Blessed are the Meek. (You can see my hefty manuscript under my plate of hashbrowns above.)

Today I skipped the walk, Rain and 70 is doable. Rain and 40s, no way.

At night, I put in another few hours on BAM so I’ll be able to meet my deadline and turn in revised version to my editor on Thursday (tomorrow).

I also put together a little button (see Ciao Bella! to the right) for people to sign up for my monthly newsletter. Anyone who signs up will get a sneak peek at the prologue and first two chapters of Blessed are the Meek from my publisher.

In addition, I hope to have special features available through the newsletter, including contests, excerpts, and essays.

I hope you sign up! If you don’t love it, you can always unsubscribe. I went with a system that has a double opt-in to make sure everyone who gets my newsletter really wants to see it in their inbox every month. And it should go without saying but I will say it, I would NEVER share your email addresses with anyone else.

I put one of these pictures on Facebook last night — but here is what revising looks like:

three hours revision, one mile walking
seven hours revision, 0 miles walking

Check out my partner in crime on this project www.matthewclemens.com and on his Facebook page.

*Kate Malmon started a twitter thread about hashbrowns, making us all salivate for them for the past week. Finally, today, I got mine!

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Fully Exposed – Day 23

angel upclose2Dealing with day two of a migraine, so I don’t quite feel up to snuff, but the pressure is on.

In a conversation with my editor today, I told her I’d give her the final version of Blessed are the Meek by Thursday night. With that deadline in mind, I am cranking through revisions.

I’m reading the hard copy (print out) and that gives me some flexibility. I hauled it with me to some appointments and to a coffee shop this morning.

Took a nice walk with my husband during lunch and then back at it.

I feel so lucky to have such a good editor who makes my work so much better and pushes me to do so.

The team at HarperCollins has been outstanding, exceeding my expectations.

It seems like nearly every day lately, I turn around and find something cool that their publicity team has done to spread the word about my books. On some days, it is a blogger on twitter reaching out to tell me they are talking about my book and looking forward to reading and reviewing it. I am so grateful for this kick butt promotion machine.

Because as thrilling as being an upcoming debut author is, it is also terrifying. It’s the make it or break it phase of my writing career. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve heard if sales of your first book are grim, you will have a heck of a time ever selling another book. This scares the daylights out of me. Because really all I want is to be able to keep writing books that people want to buy and read.

I am not aiming for independently wealthy here — I’m much too practical to dream of that. I’m aiming for a career—the ability to continue writing for the rest of my life.

This is the dirty little secret of the publishing world:

I have a friend who wrote two books I love. But the sales were poor. Now, her agent is struggling to sell three other books she has written but her books keep getting turned down because of her prior sales record.

This happens, folks. Scary, I know.

And the writers who get the six-figure advances have the most to be worried about. They have to earn out that advance and more to impress publishers.

A wise writer friend, (who has won pretty much every mystery award that exists) told me that this is my advantage — expectations are low, so maybe with a little luck (and help from my friends!) I can exceed expectations and have a good start on a lifetime of writing. So that is what I’m clinging to right now.

And everyone who has pre-ordered my books — well all of you are the ones who are helping me on this journey to creating a career in writing. So thank you!.

Please be sure to check out my partner in this project’s posts on Fully Exposed: www.matthewclemens.com. Matthew has been doing this a long time. He is the expert. He has so much wisdom to share about the writing life. You can also find him on Facebook here:

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Fully Exposed – Day 22

This will be my shortest post yet.

A migraine derailed much of my ambition today.

Worked on revisions for about two hours before I finally gave up and went to bed. Prescription meds kicked in and I got in a two-mile walk before the pain returned and I was down for the count again.

I printed out my novel AGAIN*. This time with all the changes I think it needs. I printed it out in a different font. This is a way to trick the brain into reading the words fresh. I like to do this at the end, after I’ve read over my novel one billion times, in the hopes that I can look at it with a fresh eye. So the next two or three days will be spent reading Blessed are the Meek. And then turning it into my editor, hopefully by the end of this week. And then next week – WAHOO! Back to writing on my young adult mystery!

Today, please check out my post on Jenny Milchman below. This writer is wonderfully inspiring.

* This is why me and my writer friends have extended conversations about printers and toners and what the most affordable ones are!

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Writer Interviews – Jenny Milchman


I’m thrilled to have Jenny Milchman on my blog today.

This writer defines success for me. She worked had and never gave up. And if you think it was all a matter of luck, I’ve posted a video below that shows exactly how she created that luck.

If you are as anxious as I am, you can pre-order her new book today here on Amazon like I did or wait to buy it tomorrow on its official release day.

Welcome to Jenny! Here she is in her own words:


1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?

Well, there are really two schedules. One “in the best of all possible worlds” one and one that is cobbled together between other writing obligations, time spent online, household chores, wandering about in a tangled yarn ball of nerves…But there’s the ideal one. I get up and first thing in the morning sit down at my machine that has no internet access. I write for three or four hours, breaking for breakfast and tea and lunch (I eat a lot). By the end, I have about 2000 words. There are also various compulsive rituals associated with this—like the tapping of a special piece of wood—but if I share too many of these, you’ll think I’m even crazier than I already sound, given the multiple meals in one four hour stretch.

2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?

Remember the crazy and the piece of wood? I’m knocking right now. Because—shhhhh—the WB word has not happened. For me, a novel is less something I create and more something already there, that I dig out and put on the page. When I’m writing, it’s like something else is doing the work for me. I’m channeling, not creating. At least that’s how it feels. So a block just hasn’t come up because a block is between you and yourself, isn’t it? The way it works for me is if I’m open to the story, what has to happen just somehow comes. [pause] Crazy, remember?

3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?

I have been very influenced by Hooked by Les Edgerton, Writing the Breakout Novel by Don Maass, Albert Zuckerman’s Writing the Blockbuster, and for insight into the master, Stephen King’s On Writing.

4. Who do you read for fun?

Every single writer on the back of my first novel who gave me a blurb—I went down the list of my favorite authors and asked—plus Stephen King, Tana French, Sophie Hannah, Andrew Klavan, Kate Atkinson, and Jodi Picoult. Recent discoveries include Gregg Hurwitz and Richard Lange.

5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.

I wanted to be a writer since before I could write, according to my mom. I would dictate bedtime stories to her at the age of two (she wrote them down). I remember at age five having a kindergarten teacher who bound each student’s story so it looked like a real book. I can still see the blue-flocked wallpaper I chose for my cover. The first adult novel I wrote, with an idea for getting published, was in 1998. It would be fourteen years before I ever sold a book.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

See above. Fourteen years. In other words, if you want to be a writer, if you can’t not be a writer, then write. Let the story take you, let the water come and carry you away as Van Morrison sings. Don’t stop writing. People will tell you your writing isn’t good enough. They will be right. That’s okay. Write it again. Write it better. Keep writing. Keep listening to feedback and improving your writing. If you do, then one day, you will have something that’s better than good enough. And you will be a writer.

7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?

I don’t think it’s one trait, I think it’s a constellation of them, but probably the most important thing is having many stories to tell.

8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?

Dumplings. Definitely dumplings. I like sweets, too. And tea.

9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?

There are others, for sure, but the book that came to mind is Cujo by Stephen King—a perfect domino row of a tragedy, on a par with Shakespeare, in my opinion—and ‘Witness’ with Harrison Ford.

10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?

Well, one thing maybe. I go out on very long book tours—this current one is 4 months and 20,000 miles—and I’d love it if your readers wanted to come out and find me along the way. Details at: http://jennymilchman.com/tour/over-the-falls-2014

Jenny Milchman’s journey to publication took thirteen years, after which she hit the road for seven months with her family on what Shelf Awareness called “the world’s longest book tour”. Her debut novel, Cover of Snow, was chosen as an Indie Next and Target Pick, reviewed in the New York Times and San Francisco Journal of Books, and nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark award. Jenny is also the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day and chair of International Thriller Writers’ Debut Authors Program. Jenny’s second novel, Ruin Falls, just came out and she and her family are back on the road.

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Fully Exposed – Day 21


I had the best weekend. Spent with my family, who are my everything.

Nothing yesterday except Mass and Easter dinner with our family, which involved about thirty people.

It was an amazing 75 degrees out. My family in California texted me that it was 76 there. Usually they text me to tell me it is 100 degrees warmer there (During the winter if it is -30 here and 70 there, that’s a true story!)

We spent the day outside, shooting off bottle rockets (I have no idea how this tradition started with my inlaws, but all the little kids love it)

I told my Minnesota family — this THIS warm weather is a California Easter.

Check in with my partner on this project, www.matthewclemens.com to see how he is doing or on his Facebook page.

*Just a fun picture. My friends live in a place overlooking the Mississippi River. They have a great view of the river and all of downtown Minneapolis. We spent the Target Aquatennial celebration at their pad. Way better than any fourth of July fireworks. Target (based here of course) does the best blowout ever. Amazing fireworks. It felt like we could reach out and touch the fireworks.


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