Fully Exposed – Day 16

coffee shop pic

With the return of winter temperatures, my motivation to get outside and walk has flown the coop.

Instead, today I spent the morning at a downtown coffee shop with a giant latte and my 300-page novel. I read and revised for about four hours before hunger drove me home.

(The picture above is almost the same one as yesterday – same novel, different locale.)

The afternoon was spent working on Sunday’s blog post for Do Some Damage and arranging to look at houses. (We rent and our lease is up soon. Boo.)

Today, I’m going to talk a bit about how I am able to spend 6 hours a day doing writing, or devoted to writerly things.

The short answer is that it is all because of my husband and his belief in me. He bears the brunt of the financial load because he believes in me and my writing (and let’s be honest – he dreams of the day way, way down the road, when my writing supports us and he can retire and play music all day). Which is fine by me because the way I’ve planned it, I’ll keep writing until my dying day. It’s my passion. But here is how it is possible for me to have this tremendous gift of time.

A few years back, when both kids began school, we talked about it being time for me to find a job outside the home again. But before that happened, I picked up enough freelance writing work to justify staying home. I could make my own schedule, which involved being home when the kids were home, and actually was making more money than any part-time job I could get. But then that freelance work dried up. I applied for a lot of jobs and then got a job doing part-time cops for the daily newspaper. Perfect. But still only part-time, so I’m not exactly raking in the money. And as for my books, well, time will tell, but very, very few authors are able to make a living solely from the royalties of their books.

But we keep a low nut. We don’t have debt. We own our vehicles. We rent. We live simply. Which brings me back to how I’m able to dedicate so much time to my writing. Because I’m damn lucky. And grateful. I work well alone, independently and am extremely self-motivated. And stubborn. I work hard at this because I would feel too guilty squandering this gift of time I’ve been given. I know I’ve got it made. I never forget that for a second. I have the upmost admiration for my writing friends who work 40+ hours a week, have a family to raise, and crank out the books.

If an opportunity for full-time work comes up, I’ll be in the same boat. Part of being grateful means I would never sit around all day and read a book. I take my job as a writer very, very seriously. I’m very fortunate to have this time to write and devote to writerly activities and have I mentioned I don’t take a second of it for granted?

So, there is my confession for the week.

Goals: 3 hours revision or three hours writing, one-mile walk
Results: 4 hours revision, no walk

Share This Post:
Categories: Fully Exposed | Comments Off

Fully Exposed – Day 15

photoYikes! Looked at my google calendar and I have a little more than two weeks until revisions on Blessed are the Meek are due. Butt in chair.

Today, I printed out all 300-some pages (Picture: there she is in all her glory — she’s a hefty one!) and sat down with a clipboard and pen to do a final read through and revision on the manuscript.

I did not walk.
I did not write.

Matthew hinted (okay, well flat out said this in so many words) but we feel like we are boring ourselves and others to tears with this project. Snore. But we will continue on. But the posts might get shorter as we go.

Please don’t forget to check out Matthew’s journey on Fully Exposed here and on his Facebook page here.

Share This Post:
Categories: Fully Exposed | 3 Comments

Fully Exposed – Day 14

116436101733007Sunday run down — Mass, the After-Party, The Death Beat at the newspaper.

I don’t even bother posting goals or results on this day, but I have something else.

I’ve been tagged by my partner in this Fully Exposed project, Matthew Clemens, in what he affectionately calls “the Blog Hoppy Thing.” My job was to answer some questions and tag two other authors. I’ve tagged Alex Segura and Bryon Quertermous, who will answer these same questions on their blogs Monday, April 21st.


What are you working on?

For the first time, I have several writing projects going at once. I’m doing copyedits on Blessed are the Dead (June 10) and also doing big picture revisions from my stellar editor on book two in the Gabriella Giovanni series, Blessed are the Meek (July 8). The work on BAM is due May 1st and once I return the manuscript to my editor at HarperCollins, I will go back to a YA mystery that is near and dear to my heart. I’m about halfway through and can’t wait to get back to it.

I was just about to give up on the idea of ever writing another YA mystery when I got my first feedback from my writer’s group this month. They loved it. One member said he thought it was the best thing I’d written so far.

(PS Here is a sneak peek at the first two chapters of Blessed are the Dead.)

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

This series I’m writing is first person, present tense. I know first-person is common in mystery novels, but present tense not so much. I don’t know why but when I sat down to write, this is how it came out. I like the sense of immediacy about the present tense, I suppose.

Other than that, I’m not sure. Like Matthew Clemens said in his blog hoppy thingie answer to this question, I’d almost rather someone else look at my writing in this critical way because I’m not quite sure how to answer this.

Why do you write what you do?

My first novel, Blessed are the Dead, was inspired by my dealings with a serial killer on the San Francisco crime beat. I’d covered missing kid cases before, but the little girl connected to this man (this monster) touched my heart like no other. So many daughters ripped from their families arms. It is heartbreaking, so I wrote Blessed are the Dead to purge this guy out of my head, but also to honor all the other girls whose stories I put in the paper and whose names and faces will always be a part of me.

How does your writing process work?

I typically get an idea and then roughly sketch it out using notecards. I start with the opening scene, the midpoint, and the climax usually and then use notecards to fill in some key scenes along the way. However, in the second book of my Gabriella Giovanni mystery series, Blessed are the Meek, I had written up a synopsis for book two earlier s when it came time to write that book, it pretty much wrote itself. I know some people feel constricted by a synopsis or outline, but I use them as a loose structure, knowing that I have the ability to change anything any time I want.

Thanks to Matthew for tagging me. Here are the two writers I’ve tagged.

Alex Segura

I can’t wait to meet Alex in person because online he is the kindest, most gracious person. I LOVE his fantastic novel, SILENT CITY, and absolutely devoured it — it has a super cool vibe and mood and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. I loved and admired the book so much in fact I asked Alex if he wouldn’t mind taking a look at Blessed are the Dead. He was a prince about it and then gave me a fantastic blurb. HERE!

Alex Segura is a novelist, comic book writer and musician. He is the author of the Miami noir novel SILENT CITY from Codorus Press and the best-selling and critically acclaimed ARCHIE MEETS KISS storyline and graphic novel. Alex also performs regularly in New York as part of the indie rock group Faulkner Detectives. He lives in New York with his wife and two cats. He is a Miami native.

Bryon Quertermous

I haven’t met Bryon yet, but for some crazy reason feel like he’s my brother or cousin or something. Maybe because we are both parents of super fiesty kids and both are trodding the same publishing path, with our debut books (both mysteries) coming out close to the same time this summer. I also begged Bryon to sit with me at the debut author’s table at Bouchercon because I’m a big, baby wimp. I cannot wait to read his book with the kick ass title, MURDER BOY. Can’t wait.

Bryon Quertermous was born and raised in Michigan. His short stories have appeared in Plots With Guns, Thuglit, and Crime Factory among others, and in the anthologies Hardcore Hardboiled, The Year’s Finest Crime and Mystery Stories, and Uncage Me. In 2003 he was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger Award from the UK Crime Writers Association.

He currently lives outside of Detroit with his wife and two kids and is the commissioning editor for Angry Robot’s crime fiction imprint Exhibit A Books. His first novel, Murder Boy, will be published by Polis Books in 2014.

Share This Post:
Categories: Fully Exposed | 5 Comments

Fully Exposed – Day 13


Saturdays are for pancakes and pinterest and errands and time spent with my family.

I also spent about three hours doing writerly things, such as a blog hop post for Monday and finished up the copyedits on Blessed are the Dead.

I have no goals or results for today, only words of inspiration that I read last summer and loved:

I have printed it out and memorized it and hope it will serve as inspiration to someone else out there, as well.

This is cribbed from the Farrar, Straus and Giroux website, Work in Progress.


by Sarah Manguso

Work. Be relentless. All over the world, people are working harder than you. Don’t go to events; go to the receptions after the events. If possible, skip the receptions and go to the afterparties, where you can have a real conversation with someone.

Money. Learn to live on air. Buy the best health insurance you can afford. If you have roommates, work in the library. Run and do calisthenics instead of paying for a gym membership. Invest in ear plugs, good sneakers, and a coffee machine. Buy oatmeal in bulk. Learn to cook simple, nutritious meals. Save and eat leftovers. Cafes are a waste of money, calories, and time; leave them to the tourists. Buy books used, perform periodic culls, and resell them. Wasting money on clothes is the stupidest habit of all. You will only ever need two good outfits.

Health. Stay healthy; sickness is a waste of time and money. Smoking or overeating will eventually make you sick. Drinking and drugs interfere with clear perception, which you will need in order to make good work. It may be worth paying for psychotherapy sessions now instead of paying for inpatient treatment next year; see someone in-network.

Friends. Avoid all messy and needy people including family; they threaten your work. You may believe your messy life supplies material, but it in fact distracts you from understanding that material, and until you understand it, it is useless to you. Don’t confuse users, hangers-on, or idols with friends. If a former friend asks you why you don’t have time to see him or her anymore, say your existing responsibilities have made it impossible to socialize as much as you used to. Cutting someone out with no explanation is an insult that will come around.

Asking favors. When requesting a favor in writing, ask outright and respectfully for what you want. Don’t write what appears to be a long, friendly letter full of compliments and then ask for help at the end, pretending it’s an afterthought. Such behavior smacks of tit-for-tat, or prepayment for a commodity, and it’s ugly to point out the existence of the favor economy. Just do favors and ask favors in a vacuum. If a favor is given immediately after one is received by the giver, pretend not to notice the coincidence. When given a favor, honor those who helped you. Be gracious and sincere, and don’t overthank them.

Giving favors. Don’t give favors to people or institutions that lack authority or consequence. Publishing or showing work where no one will see it or giving a reading where no one will hear it is a favor. Learn graciously to decline. The world will catch on that you are a valuable commodity. When you find great work, help it along; expect nothing in return. Bringing great work to the world is your job, whether you or someone else created it.

Kindness. It should go without saying that you must be kind to everyone you meet. People have long memories. Bad behavior should not be returned in kind. When people forget their manners, take it as an opportunity to practice yours.

Dignity. Don’t respond to personal attacks, either aloud or in writing. Don’t respond to criticism outside the letters section of a magazine that routinely publishes responses to criticism. When asked an ignorant question, take it as an opportunity to educate the questioner; compassionately explain his error in judgment or perception.

Allies. Recognize those who would help you, and let them know who you are. Assemble a coterie of influence that will protect and serve you. Doing someone a favor and then immediately asking for one is inappropriate; favors don’t win allies. Only you and your work win lasting allies. Do good work and treat people kindly, and strangers will reach out to help you. Recognize those who will never help you, and ignore them; indignation and regret waste energy.

Enemies. Know who they are and monitor them. Those who offer or ask for favors might be enemies in cheap disguise. Calling enemies out in public makes you look weak; in the company of others, act as if no enemy could possibly hurt you. When asked about an ad hominem attack, pretend never to have heard of the attacker. Don’t overlook the possibility of enemies’ influence, but don’t become overinvolved, either. You aren’t guarding state secrets. No vendetta is so important that it should distract you from your work.

Onward. Once you’ve truly begun, slow down. The difference between publishing two good books and forty mediocre books is terribly large. Don’t expend energy in writing and publishing that would be better used in your family or community. Become tempered by life. Make compromises for love. Provide a service to the world. These experiences form the adult mind. Without them both you and your work will remain juvenile.

Sarah Manguso is the author, most recently, of The Guardians: An Elegy. Her previous book, the memoir The Two Kinds of Decay (2008), was named an Editors’ Choice by the New York Times Sunday Book Review and a Best Book of the Year by the Independent (UK), the San Francisco Chronicle, the Telegraph (UK), and Time Out Chicago, and was short-listed for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize.

Share This Post:
Categories: Fully Exposed | 1 Comment

Fully Exposed – Day 12

mississToday I  worked on some revisions for Blessed are the Dead. These are due May 1st. I’m close, but I think I’m at the point where I need to print the whole thing out and read from beginning to end again.

In addition, I finished up a few articles for Crimespree Magazine and sent them off to the super cool folks who run the magazine. I’m still totally stoked at the chance to be in this mystery magazine, which has featured all my favorite authors over the years.

In the afternoon, I worked a little bit on copyedits (DUE TUESDAY!!!) and worked on some upcoming posts for this website that will run when (or around the time) my book is released.

Those posts creeped me out. They are about the man I based my antagonist on in Blessed are the Dead. He’s a serial killer I had dealings with while I was a reporter in the Bay Area.

Even seeing his picture still makes me cringe and feel like I need to go take a shower.

Later, I saw a tweet mentioning me and my book and found out that the publicist had sent excerpts out to several different blogs. It was both exciting and scary to see my writing out there for anyone to read for the first time. Shortly after, I got an email from one of the authors who is reading my book and was so relieved and thrilled to see him say he loved it and offered up a blurb! (more on that next week!)

Caught up with an old friend from high school on the phone last night. Facebook has some drawbacks, but it has also put me in touch with old friends — and that has been wonderful.

Today’s Stats:
Goals: 5 hours revision, 1 mile walk
Results: 3 hours revision, 0 walk

STAY TUNED for tomorrow and don’t forget to see how Matthew Clemens, my partner in this project, did daily on his goals here and on his Facebook page.

Share This Post:
Categories: Blessed are the Dead, Fully Exposed | Comments Off