NaNoWriMo – Let it go: Quantity over Quality

Six days into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I received a desperation email. Those of us participating in this absurd event see plenty of these emails, and send a few, or several, ourselves. We’ll call this desperate NaNoWriMer Tory, because that’s her name (check out Bittersweet Manor with its ridiculously gorgeous cover).

Bittersweet Manor

I kinda talked Tory into doing this, so I felt compelled to do my best to assure her that the swill she’s drowning in is exactly the point of NaNoWriMo. The rules are simple: 50,000 words comprising the beginning, middle, and end of a novel in 30 days. It can’t be next Gatsby in 30 days, but it sure as hell could be the shitty first draft.

Here’s the email I sent to her, with tiny edits the OCD grammarian in me could not abide, and pics!


Good morning!

McKay Savage - Flickr
Flickr – McKay Savage

I’m envious of you morning writers. I have to get my words in at night, and not being very successful to date 😉

This month is all about quantity over quality. It’s about keeping your gaze on the horizon versus your feet. It’s dumping the junk drawer all over the floor (plot), putting stuff in like piles (scenes), and then in December start putting stuff neatly back into the drawer (novel).

Flickr - Liz West
Flickr – Liz West

Do any of these horrible metaphors help? There’s more! To me, this is where raw creativity hums, the spigot of imagination is wide open. That said, there is a spigot, there is a sink, and there is a drain – all of which, by function, control, contain, and direct the flow of creativity.

Flickr - estherproject
Flickr – estherproject

For those of us ‘edit as you go’ writers, keeping this in mind helps. I probably shared this already, but when I wrote Stella Rose during NaNoWriMo, I had to drive to a Walgreens to get ‘tools’ to help me contain the flow. That’s when I bought a legal pad, a ruler, and colored pencils – with no idea what I was going to do with them. When I returned to the condo, I ended up drawing a straight line with the ruler (12 inches) on the paper which became a timeline, I drew the classic story arc above the straight line, then realized I was looking at one year, each inch was one month, and this saved my sanity. This helped me understand the cadence of the story, when the pace had to quicken, crest, and resolve. So my imagination could stay wild while my mind maintained some order. We have as long as we want/need to tease out the greatness starting in December. I just hope this time it doesn’t take me five freaking years.


So this was my pep talk to Tory, to all my fellow NaNoWriMers, and to myself when I’m free falling into a new story or falling behind on my word count (5K to date, which does not bode well), or falling into bed exhausted and overwhelmed. Tomorrow’s another day, another 1,667 words, another tale to tell. Let it go, and let ‘er rip.

Flickr - Joel Kramer
Flickr – Joel Kramer

Do you have a novel in you?

Autumn in Vermont – It’s about l’Attitude

What is l’Attitude? It’s that blend of latitude and attitude displayed just south of the Quebec border that makes Vermont synonymous with autumn.


Who can think of autumn and not dream of Vermont?


Sure, anywhere in New England – or even the Pacific Northwest and sections of the Midwest – all are colorful this time of year. That’s about latitude.

Foliage MapI
Courtesy of:

But in Vermont, it’s all about attitude. We own autumn.

I                  cows  IV IX


Of course, we also have to own what comes after autumn.

Single leaf

And with this weekend’s wind and rain, leaves are abandoning the trees at an alarming rate, leaf-ing us with no illusions about what’s around the bend.

falling hosedeleafing



These photos (aka #leafies), and many more taken by Vermonters, can be found in this slideshow on WCAX. Enjoy. Then post some of your own in the comments!

When No One Shows Up

My worst author fear has manifested: I planned a Stella Rose event; no one came.

And I’m thrilled.

One of my local libraries offered to host a Letter Writing event. As those who’ve read STELLA ROSE know, letters feature prominently in the book. Those of you who know me, know I love letters, and I’ve launched a Love Letter campaign to bring back the lost art of letter writing.

Flickr – Cynthia Closkey

I start these events with a short intro about myself and STELLA ROSE, then I read the first letters Stella leaves for Abby and Olivia to get us in the mood. I pass around Stella Rose stationery and Stella Rose pens and we all write letters to our best friends, or moms, or sisters, or whoever occupies that special friend space in our hearts. (Stay tuned for more info on these events, and plans for a collection of these letters!)

Liz West
Flickr – Liz West

I arrived at the library at 6:10, twenty minutes early, to set up. I put out Hershey Kisses, cookies, and lemonade. I chatted with the lovely young librarian and toured the recently renovated space. I checked my email. And Facebook. And email again. I chatted with the librarian some more.

Flickr - Phasin Sudjai
Flickr – Phasin Sudjai

And no one came.

Keoni Cabral
Flickr – Keoni Cabral

By 7:00 it was clear I had my first event with zero attendance. I felt worse for the librarian who felt so bad for me. We agreed it was poor timing – the first week of school , and it was too beautiful an evening to be cooped up in a library, and it’s in a rural area where walk-ins aren’t going to happen.

Eric Vondy
Flickr – Eric Vondy

I assured the librarian I was fine with it. In fact, I confided, I was happy about it. She looked dubious, so I explained:

  • This is a rite of passage – all writers have to tell the story about the time nobody showed up – check!
  • I got to see this beautiful library in my own backyard.
  • I’m five minutes, not five hours, from my house.
  • My husband would be glad to see me since I’ve been on a dead run for weeks.
  • I met this lovely new librarian and had a wonderful chat about writing, friendship, and life.
Bryan Alexander
Flickr – Bryan Alexander

I’ve been blessed with several well attended events, but I knew this would happen. I just didn’t know when or how I would react. It wasn’t so bad! It was humbling and taught me to appreciate anyone and everyone who makes a point to leave their homes and their routines to attend events like these. I need to do it more myself. How can I fault others for failing to show up when I, myself, find it challenging to fit one more activity on my calendar?

Group Photo

So here’s the truth: Though I hope it’s the last time, and it stung like hell at first, I thoroughly enjoyed the first time no one showed up for my event.

Flickr - Jal James
Flickr – Jal James
Flickr - Neusa Quaresma
Flickr – Neusa Quaresma

Have you ever had no one show up?

June – Stella Rose Book Tour Continues!

June is always a special month. It’s my birthday month, and you know how much I LOVE my birthday. It’s also the official start of SUMMER, which is a holiday in and of itself in Vermont. June is also where STELLA ROSE starts, no coincidence. So it was only fitting that June was busy for the Stella Rose Book Tour!

The month began with a return to Brooklyn! On June 2, I joined five other She Writes Press authors as part of the SWP Author Tour. We read to a welcoming crowd at Greenlight Bookstore. I flew in and out same day and felt like a real author!

SignStore Front









Because my Launch Party exceeded expectations (read: we ran outta books!), I revisited Barnes & Noble early on June 6 to sign some fresh copies. Highlight: Seeing my brother for the first time I ages. AND I snagged another young fan!

photo 3 (7)

After the B&N signing, I drove like a maniac to meet these sassy bookclubbers in Jericho! Highlight: At the end of the event, one woman told me she joined the group just for friendship, she seldom finishes the books, and she does not read fiction. “I read Stella Rose because Lea told me to,” she said, and she loved it. For emphasis, she put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m serious, I loved it. I’ve never read anything like it. I think I’m going to start reading fiction again.” The book tour could end right here, and I would be satisfied.

photo 4 (3)

But life is hell-bent on more than satisfying! On June 9, I drove to Porter Square Books in Cambridge and facilitated my first Love Letter Campaign event.  (More on the Love Letter Campaign in a future InFriendship blog post!) Highlight: Ariel, my #1 Fan who happens to share my last name – and certain articles of clothing and jewelry – boosted attendance, luring local friends and co-workers. Nice to see colleagues and fellow writers, too!

storeatnightPorter Square Letter Writing

I worked in my Burlington, MA office for a few hours the next day, then drove like a maniac (yes, this is a theme) to South Burlington, VT to meet with a wonderful book group. They welcomed me with provocative questions and insightful commentary. We talked about the nature of friendship – debating contributing and detracting factors, and why some women have deep friendships and others don’t.  Highlight: We talked about the F-word.

South Burlington

On June 13, my local independent bookstore, The Eloquent Page, hosted a book signing. Several friends dropped in, including some I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Also, Dad came, Mom came, and my son came. Highlight: Aaron lingered after the signing to say, “I’m so proud of you, Mom.” Yep, glad he didn’t say that in front of a bunch of people, cuz it was a blubbery moment. Did I take any pictures? NO. I suck at this PR stuff! But I do have this lovely picture of Donna, owner of The EP, surrounded by Stella Rose, and a shot of the SR in the window!


Did I mention June is my birthday month? What better way to spend my birthday than at the iconic Northshire Bookstore? I was treated to my first personal encounter with FANS! The first two arrivals had Stella Rose in hand, had discovered it via Northshire – NOT through me or friends of mine. They had read the book and then saw I was coming to Northshire and wanted to come meet the author. YAY!!! We were joined by aAn eclectic group of women in a rollicking Love Letter Campaign event. Highlight: Sarah Ward, my writing warrior partner, co-piloted.

Writing lettersSigningGroup III

On June 23 I spoke at the Brown Bag Lunch at the South Burlington Community Library. I love libraries. And I especially love the SBCL. Adjacent to the High School, these folks know how to rock community librariness. Highligh: My #1 Fan Not Related To Me – Yet was there, with her grandma in tow. What a lovely way to close out June. Do I have pictures?? No! But you can check out SBCL here!


I would love to see YOU! Check out upcoming events!


Stella Rose Book Tour – April/May

Book tours are dead, haven’t you heard? I read this great article, laughed and cried, and decided to do it anyway.  Friends chided me about my book tour years before I even wrote a word of STELLA ROSE. (Note to self: The Law of Intention works.) Now here I am, knee deep in my first book tour, and it is glorious! And terrifying! Exciting! Exhausting! Exhilarating!

There are several components to book campaigns. Mine includes library visits, book clubs, blog tour, bookstore readings, bookstore signings, and other media – TV, radio, podcasts, newspaper interviews, etc. And of course, there is social media. Thanks for following me, liking me, and retweeting me! Special shout-out to the intrepid souls who signed up for these blog posts – you rock ♥and make all those hours developing content worthwhile.

Here are highlights from the front end of the book tour, April and May:

It’s was an honor to kick off my book tour in April by participating in Book Night Out at the South Burlington Community Library. I met a dozen Vermont authors and shared a table with Maggie McGinnis, a sassy romance and cozy mystery writer and USA Today Bestseller/Golden Heart Finalist well ahead of me on the authorial curve, and a delight.  I signed my first book – and had no idea what to write. Wouldn’t you think I’d have prepared for this??

photo 3 GeorgeSigning Linda's book

On May 12, I was at the Pierson Library in Shelburne, where dear friends showed up – as well as a brand new one! Friends from such different times in my life collided and it was a beautiful thing.


On May 13, I got myself all worked up over three minutes of live television on Books Over Breakfast on WCAX TV. Eva McKend is even sweeter in person. Everyone said I looked calm, but here’s a hint: check out my heaving chest. Oh, yeah. I’m cool.


The ridiculously successful Book Launch at Barnes & Noble, South Burlington, Vermont on May 16 is already memorialized here. Three days later I had a book signing at Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MA. Feeling the love from colleagues, friends, and my #1 Fan, Ariel!

IMG_5676 IMG_5681 IMG_5677

On May 21 I had a reading and signing at Bridgeside Bookstore on Stowe Street in Waterbury. And I took not one picture. I still can’t believe it. I was so excited to be in one of my favorite book stores with old friends and new ones, I completely forgot to take pics. So I stole these from their FB page:

Exterior 10940592_10152524708431787_5925745955726005752_n

I sat in the chair near the window read to the small group and loved every minute of it. If you’re in downtown Waterbury, check them out! It’s the sweetest store.

How did I end the month of May?

At The Book Expo of America at the Javits Center in New York City: Dream. Come. True. ♥♥♥

Here’s a picture of our corner of Manhattan.

Here’s the inside of the Javits Center, BEA-style.

It’s official.

But the highlight (aside from holding the restroom door for Julianne Moore) was meeting fellow Spring 2015 She Writes Press authors and our SWP Publishing Team!

She Writes Crew at Park NYC after BEA

Thanks for reading my post. If you have any tour suggestions, please leave a comment!

Can’t wait to share the highlights of June!

Until then,