Fully Exposed – Day 4


I got sucked into a vicious spiral of designing and revising Facebook cover pages on Thursday morning. Lots of fun, but a total time suck.

If you want an entire morning swept away, this is the website that sucked me in — here you go: It’s addicting and awesome and I love it.

Finally at 9, I had to employ my secret weapon, Mac Freedom, which turns off my online access. I programmed it for 90 minutes. That’s usually about the longest I can go without resorting to grabbing my phone and hopping online that way.

Made it! Got my three hours of revising and editing in. At this point, I’m 100 percent back in Gabriella Giovanni’s world again, even though I first wrote the novel (Blessed are the Meek) a year ago. I’m living it now and feel more confident in my revisions and even more excited about how my editor’s suggestions are making this story come to life.

My editor said she thinks this second book might even be better than my first and that is the biggest compliment I could have received. My goal is to become a better writer with every book I put out.

After my three hours of immersing myself in Giovanni’s world, I surface for air and go forage for lunch, run errands, and try to stay warm on this wet rainy day. Errands take longer than I like, but I’m still spending under an hour for lunch-time activities, so that’s good.

I’m back at the computer, polishing a post for Dru’s Musings and taking a look at my Do Some Damage post. Darn you, Joelle Charbonneau, for being such a tough act to follow. : )

Even though as a newspaper reporter, I’m used to pounding out as many as four newspaper articles a day, I’m sweating over a tiny blog post. Ack! The pressure. Oh well, I’ll put something I like together and hope everyone else likes it, as well.

And then, at night on my way to pick up Juicy Lucy’s from Matt’s for my writer’s group meeting, the day gets even better with a phone call from one of the Dignitaries of the Mystery Writing Community — seriously, a true king, talking to me about my work. I just about lost my mind with happiness.

And then — my writing group, where they critiqued my young adult mystery. I wasn’t sure about writing YA, but my group loved it. In fact, one member said he thought it was the best writing I’d ever submitted to them, so that made me super happy and motivated to finish it after I get all my edits done for Blessed are the Meek.

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

Today’s Stats:
Writing – 5 hours revising
Walking – 1 mile
Writing – 3 hours revising
Walking – 0*

Categories: Blessed are the Meek, Fully Exposed | 3 Comments

Fully Exposed – Day 3

158494820860468This morning was pure chaos in my attempt to be sitting here ready to write and revise at 9 a.m.

All because I had to wash my hair today. And because I washed my hair I had to blow it dry, which is right up there as one of the most inane and boring activities on the planet. Snore.

Today I’m starting my day at the coffee shop. I like to change it up every once in a while. (Why? You ask. Well, you saw a picture of my work space yesterday!)

Studies have shown that white noise helps creativity.

But I have a confession to make — the real reason I ventured away from my house today is because I wanted to wear my new boots. Yep. This is called Fully Exposed, right? You get the bad, the good, the ugly and the vain Kristi right here every day for the month of April.

I got these cute boots last weekend and haven’t had a chance to wear them even though I did work one day at the newspaper.

I wish I was like Lyndee Walker’s character, Nichelle Clarke, who wears sparkly blue Louboutin’s working the crime beat or my own crime reporter character, Gabriella Giovanni, who wears cute strappy sandals.

Me? No way. I soon learned as a crime reporter to wear shoes I could run in or stand in all day.

So here I sit at the coffee shop with my latte, dry hair, and cute boots.

Today I’m going to tackle the next level of line edits. These are the ones that require more thought than the fast fixes I did all day yesterday.

Because of this, I’ve already rethought my five-hour revising/editing goal. I’ll see how I do today before I make a decision on this. I don’t waiver on my writing goals — at least 1,000 a day no matter what — but revisions are a different story.

As I mentioned in my first Fully Exposed post, based on Carolyn See’s book, Making a Literary Life, that 1,000 word goal transfers into two hours of revision. But I’m going to push that to three or four, maybe some days five.

Today, I was grooving along really well doing revisions when a good friend stopped at my table at the coffee shop. We’ve been friends for 20 years, which is crazy to even think about, and I haven’t seen him for maybe six months, so of course, I was happy to set aside work to catch up.

Then back at it — until hunger drove me home.

I ate lunch and walked three-miles. It felt wonderful, but toward the end I was huffing and puffing.

Back at home, I wrote the first draft of a post for the lovely Dru at Dru’s Musings that will run in June.

After that I brainstormed what to write for my post Sunday on Do Some Damage. I came up with a few ideas, but they still need some work. Will devote the entire afternoon tomorrow to the Do Some Damage post.

PLUS, I still need to submit some article ideas to my publicist by next week for the magazine she was talking about.

But it is now 3:30 p.m. My work day is over. Time for my Mamma Italiana duties and my sluttish housewifery.*

*Despite the provocative name, sluttish housewifery does not involve being a slut or being promiscuous. It means lazy. I cribbed the phrase from my friend Kristin Boldon — who borrowed it from Bridget Jones.

Today by the numbers:

Goals: 5 hours revision and 1-mile walk

Results: 3 hours revision and 3-mile 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 on his website and here on Facebook.

Categories: Blessed are the Dead, Blessed are the Meek, Fully Exposed | 3 Comments

Fully Exposed – Day Two


(This is a picture of my work space. It is my kitchen counter. I write here or at a local coffee shop. Glamorous, isn’t it?)

My writing on my YA mystery has come to a screeching halt.

I had planned on cranking it out and having the first draft done by no later than June 1. I was then going to let it simmer for about six weeks and then revise like mad and get it to my agent September 1st. Not sure that is realist anymore because my plans have changed and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

I got an email from my editor last night! She has the edits ready for my second book in the Gabriella Giovanni series, Blessed are the Meek. And she loved it.

I’m on cloud 9, but also ready to dig in and work my butt off to make this second book shine.

I love my kids but I couldn’t wait for them to go to school today so I could settle in and read my EDIT LETTER for Blessed are the Meek.

It is sort of like when you eat your dinner and save best for last. That’s what I did this morning. I went through my morning routine, posting two blog posts (My Fully Exposed – Day One) and another one at Mysteristas, a mystery blog I’m part of.

But the entire time, I kept thinking I CAN’T WAIT to read my editor’s letter! Like holding off on opening a super cool and big Christmas present until it is the last one sitting there among the shredded bundles of wrapping paper!


So ….

Am going through the line edits first – those are the easiest ones to tackle. In addition, doing these gets me back into the story. I haven’t looked at it for at least a month.

The other edits are more big picture ones that I want the boys in the basement (Thanks Stephen King) to work on for awhile before I tackle them. This type of work (revision) means I tend to check social media a bit more (do line edits for 45 minutes, check Facebook and email for 5 minutes. Repeat.)

My editor is brilliant. I’m not exaggerating. She has to be one of the best in the biz for sure and I’m counting my lucky stars she’s in my corner, making me look good!

Okay, back to edits, will check in later.

Worked on line edits until lunch. Then ate and went for a walk. How was my walk? A major FAIL. I probably managed to walk half a mile before I crawled back home whimpering from the cold. This is total B.S. Where is spring? Where are the 60 degree temperatures we saw the past two days?
The only reason I even attempted a walk because it is part of my daily goals for this project. Well, today, I failed. Moving on.

I spent the rest of the afternoon, not on marketing stuff like I usually do but working on the easy line edits from my editor.

There are really two levels of line edits. One’s you fix right then on this first read though and ones you fix on the second read through. I highlight the second read through edits and copy them into a file I’m going to print out.

The edit letter will be the last thing I tackle. Those are big picture things that take some thought and can be kind of tough, but always, always worth doing. Those are the types of things that take your manuscript to the next level and if you are as lucky as I am, you have an amazing editor who makes this happen and explains what to do in very clear terms.

So my goal until 3:30 was to work on line edits. Tomorrow I will slow down and use the afternoon for some articles and brainstorming ideas I’ve promised others, including my publicist. But today, I’m riding the momentum of having this edited manuscript and edit letter in my hands.

Besides my short walk, I’ve been glued to this bar stool (in the picture above) for about five hours today. Laundry remains unfolded in a pile. The sink — well that’s a disaster that I’ll deal with tonight. Errands for today were postponed until tomorrow. But it’s been worth it. I’ve done the first round of line edits. Now I can breathe at little and am totally immersed back into this novel and the revision process.

Goals and Progress


This goal MUST be changed to editing/revisions and my new goal is to put at least five hours a day into doing this. (Result: Made goal today.) My editor gave me a May 1 deadline to revise. If I get done early, I’ll be back to my 1,000 words Butt in Chair daily goal. If you read Brad Parks article on this, you’ll remember he says that with this plan (1,000 words a day) writers should be able to have their first draft written in three months. Stephen King says the same thing — three months. I think he says, a season to write a book.

1 mile. (Fail. Walked .5 miles.)

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

Categories: Blessed are the Dead, Blessed are the Meek, Fully Exposed | 6 Comments

Fully Exposed – Day One

Me & my Fully Exposed partner in crime, Matthew Clemens!

Me & my Fully Exposed partner in crime, Matthew Clemens!

On Monday, my day begins like it does most days — I drag myself out of bed, pour a cup of coffee, and sit at my computer going through my Morning Routine.

This involves checking emails from the website I moderate for pay. I look for explicit language, people who post their email address or phone numbers (against forum rules) and people who are annoying and post duplicate comments in different threads.

After that I check in on Facebook and Twitter and then read my favorite blogs. For instance, rarely does a day pass that I’m not reading Karen Woodward, Elizabeth Spann Craig, or The Kill Zone.

After a while, I get myself ready for the day, continuing to down copious amounts of coffee and prodding the kids to get ready for school.

Finally, around 9 a.m., I settle in somewhere (today at home) to write! YAY!

I like to do Butt in Chair until 11 or 12, but today I already know I’m going to fail because the landlord is scheduled to come over at 10:30.

I NEED at least 1,000 words by 10:30. In 90 minutes. Stat.

I get down to business, even though I forgot what I was writing since I haven’t looked at my novel since Friday morning. I get back into the swing of things with only a few distractions. (Hurriedly writing my Fully Exposed post yesterday about my goals, emails to Matthew, and so on.) But for the most part I’m completely immersed in my novel’s world — I’m fully in the head of a 17-year-old Minneapolis girl who is hanging with a bunch of street punks and trying to figure out how her best friend died.

When the landlord knocks at the door, I’ve got in 1,200 words despite all my goofing off. Yay! Win!

After another 90 minutes, I’m alone again.

I eat lunch and surf the web and then get in a walk because it is warm today (above 40 degrees – in Minnesota we call this warm right now, so pipe down).

After my walk, I have to run errands, which involves Target and the eye doctor. Back home, I do a few loads of laundry (aka created more piles of clean clothes that will eventually need folding).

Then, I check some online stuff more – answer comments on this website and Do Some Damage. Then I sit down to do some marketing stuff.

As you’ll see the rest of this month, I divide my work day into Morning (writing) and Afternoons (marketing, walking, errands).

So off to do Marketing. Aka – Time Not Spent Writing Yet Done For Writing Purposes. Today I have a super fun thing to do — write something about my book for another website. I’m stoked. I find it amazing that any other website would even give a rat’s you-know-what about my book, so I’m digging this.

Soon, very soon, my marketing efforts will involve blabbing about book two in my series, which I really haven’t even talked about yet.

So here is my first mention – Blessed are the Meek comes out a month after Blessed are the Dead and today a good writing buddy told me I should probably start talking about it. Because he’s damn smart, I listened to him, so here you go — Blessed are the Meek can be pre-ordered here and comes out July 8.

Any day now, I will get my edit letter from my editor and will shift gears to get those edits done asap. She made my month last week by telling me she had read it and saying “Bravo!”

But back to today. I am spending the rest of this afternoon — until about 3:30 — doing that post for another website.

Because I’m a wife and mother, my “work day” generally runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. so that is the period of time during my day I will share with you.

Otherwise you would be bored by my account of herding children and other domestic chores and activities.

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


UPDATE: Hold the phone! New plan! What I’m learning as a debut author is this: THANK GOD for my background as a reporter that required juggling three to four stories a day and shifting constantly from one to another as news breaks and phone calls are returned.

The reason why? I was cranking along on this post for this other website when I got an email from my publicist — (HOLY SMOKES I HAVE A PUBLICIST!!****) — talking to me about a possible promotion opportunity involving writing so … click … shift gears. Then, I get another email telling me I have some time to get back to her on story ideas so I tell her I’ll do so next week and shift BACK to what I was originally working on.

And believe me, I am not complaining. I love this. Love it. Love, love, love.
So until tomorrow, then ….

****Two years ago, saying the word “my agent” blew my mind. Six months ago, saying the word “my editor” blew my mind. Now, saying “my publicist” — blows my mind! The fact that I have all three right now = mind BLOWN.

Writing 2,500 (achieved 1,200)
Walking 1 mile (achieved .75 mile)

Categories: Fully Exposed, This Writer's Life | 12 Comments

Fully Exposed – Goals


Writing is a solitary endeavor.

Much of it is done sitting at home alone for hours on end.

And that’s fine.

But every once in a while a writer needs to turn to another writer for inspiration, motivation, or just a shoulder to cry (or bitch) on.

I’m super lucky to have Matthew Clemens as a writer friend who tolerates me doing all of the above.

A while back, Matthew and I started messaging each other daily, checking in on how much progress we’d made in hitting our writerly goals each day.

Most often that had to do with word count.

Which leads me to the Fully Exposed project.

Matthew and I decided to make our daily checking in public — which brings it to a whole different level of accountability. Coincidentally, we both have the same goals for this project – Writing and Walking.

You can check out Matthew’s goals on his Facebook and website pages and here are mine:


Write at least a thousand words a day.

My very prolific and talented writer friend Brad Parks has talked about this, even giving it a name — The Church of A Thousand Words. Check it out here. Brad is the man.

I first heard about this idea in Carolyn See’s book, “Making a Literary Life.”

Her rule is 1,000 words a day, five days a week for the rest of your life.

(Or if you are revising you can tweak that to two hours of revising, five days a week.)

What I found is that I can easily pump out 1,000 words in two hours of Butt in Chair.
They may not be brilliant. They may eventually end up deleted, but the point is I’m writing. I’m making progress on my novel. Every. Day.

And believe me, when I check in with some of my hardest working writer friends, 1,000 words a day is nothing. I think my pals Joelle Charbonneau and Owen Laukkanen probably hit more like 5,000 words a day.

I am very fortunate that my part-time job is on weekends so during the week, five days a week, I’m Butt in Chair for my 1,000 words right after I eat breakfast.

But I’m going to ramp it up to 2,500 words a day until I finish my young adult mystery novel. If I get it done before the end of the month, I’ll do three hours a day of revising.


I’m a much nicer and healthier and more mentally stable if I get in a daily walk. That has been a total bitch to accomplish this winter. But now that it’s spring, I’m going to be all over it. So my goal will be to walk at least a mile every day.

So welcome to our Fully Exposed project and please chime in with your thoughts whenever possible!

The fun begins tomorrow when you can read about how I did today. So far, not so good because I’m writing this instead of chipping away at those 2,500 words. But the day is young ….

Categories: Fully Exposed, This Writer's Life | 6 Comments