Why Writing is Tough as a Perfectionist

Writing is a hard gig for everyone. Ask any writer—successful or struggling—about their experiences and you’ll discover similar themes of rejection, self-doubt, and creative blocks. I can only speak for myself, but my perfectionist tendencies make writing a harder pursuit for me than many other things I do.

My need for qualitative and quantitative success makes marketing as a profession a good fit for my personality. Everyone expects measurable results from my work  and my best effort every day. Professionally, there is no standard of “good enough” which I operate by.

However, in writing there isn’t a group of people, like a supervisor or department head, who can judge my performance and deem it successful. There is no perfect first draft, and the “just get the first draft finished” mentality conflicts with my inherent need to make everything right all the time. The hardest thing for me when drafting is to know there are flaws in my work, but to keep pushing forward anyway. How can a piece be my best effort and suck so much?! It gives me stress hives.

It’s a constant battle in my head of allowing myself to objectively understand that a shitty first draft is still good (if only because it exists) while hating how terrible it is. Sometimes I allow the hating how terrible it is to win, but that only results in me stopping my draft. This happens a lot. In these circumstances, I typically find a way forward by recording the things I hate for my future self to fix. Because the scariest thing to me is the notion that I might not remember my ideas to solve the problems I create.

Like in all things, I try to give myself a little grace and then hold my work to ridiculously high standards. You could say I’m a WIP too.



How Do You Know You’re Experiencing Meet-Cute?

We’ve all been there. A too-good-to-be-true moment when a handsome stranger catches you as you stumble and manages to keep the cake you’re carrying from crashing to the ground. Then, he says something witty and charming—like, “I hope this isn’t a pineapple upsidedown cake. Because if so, I just ruined it.” That’s when you notice the twinkle in his eye and your average, everyday life is changed forever.

But life isn’t always so straightforward. You may find yourself wondering if the run-in you’ve just had qualifies. Look no further. I have your (very nearly) definitive list right here.

1. Did your mystery person save you from a potentially embarrassing situation? That’s a good start, but not quite enough to merit the meet-cute title. Was the said saving in front of:

a) an ex?

b) your boss?

c) that one girl from middle school who made your life hell and who you just now convinced that you’re not a total loser?

Congrats, meet-cute status achieved.

2. Confusion often surrounds meet-cuting. Not that you’re confused now, but your meet-cute may have ocurred during a time when you were. Did your mystery person help you find your way? How lovely, but unfortunately short an important part of the equation. In order to meet-cute, your hero had to stick around long enough to see you were meeting a very nice, but very wrong for you date.

Level up. You just had a meet-cute.

(Now hurry up and cut that unfortunate date loose. There’s someone waiting to meet-cute them around the corner.)

3. A meet-cute need not take place away from friends. Were you recently part of a large group activity where you and your new acquaintance were the only single people in attendance? Excellent. Did you hit it off right away? Perfect. Was there a terribly awkward, but soon to be prophetic, scene where all your partnered friends talked about what a cute couple you’d be? Isn’t there always? Did one or both of you laugh it off and make loud declarations that you would not be a cute couple?

There it is. You’ve met and you’ve cuted.

4. Finally, we’ve come to the toughest meet-cute to discern. We call it The Darcy. The reason this is hard to spot is because the entire situation is tainted with an undercurrent of dislike. From the moment you met, you couldn’t help but argue.  You’ve never met anyone who pushes your buttons like they do. How is it possible that you could feel such disdain after speaking barely five words to each other? But…the key factor in telling a meet-cute from just another asshole is whether or not you want to rip the buttons off their shirt with your teeth.  I know what you’re thinking. This is oddly specific, but really the only way to tell.

If this is you, hang in there. This meet-cute will only get worse before it gets better.

There you have it. Four foolproof ways to tell if you’ve experienced a meet-cute. May the rest of your relationship be as fun and predictable!



Book Review: Warcross



Just kidding. I did love Warcross, but I have so much more to say about it. Marie Lu is on my list of auto-buy authors. She writes the books, I buy the books. And, to sweeten the deal, I saw a review of Warcross that likened it to Ready Player One. If I didn’t already have Warcross on my list, this would have done it.

Emika Chen is a bounty hunter living in NYC–well, she’s about to be evicted so she might soon be homeless in NYC. Ever since her father’s death and subsequent placement in foster care, Emika has been obsessed with Hideo Tanaka, the creator of the popular game Warcross and inventor of the device that allows players to enter into the most realistic VR game ever created. Emika’s fangirl crush led her to discover a talent for coding and hacking to pay the bills when the bounty pool runs dry.

A hack gone wrong lands Emika in the international spotlight, giving her the chance to meet her very handsome idol and the opportunity to help him save Warcross from evil doers. Emika is immersed in the world of high-profile gamers more popular than any celebrity or athlete of the time. (It’s the ultimate revenge of the nerds fantasy and I am here for it!) In between thrilling Warcross matches, Emika spends her time searching for the mysterious bad guy Zero and unraveling the secrets of her boy genius. But in a book about virtual reality, nothing is what it seems.

There were so many aspects of this novel that I enjoyed. The cast of minor characters was superb and diverse in a very organic way. I loved how the game bled into the real world and how seamlessly Lu’s technology fit into her character’s daily life. The game of Warcross–a glorified version of capture the flag–was a fun diversion from the emotional tension of the story. And, there were swoons! The twist near the end felt a little too obvious for someone as clever as Emika not to see, but it’s forgivable in an otherwise amazing story.

Verdict: This is a book you want to own so you can revisit as many times as you like!


Why YA?

I recently joined Facebook group for writers interested in finding beta readers or critique partners.  It’s mostly a good group, and I’ve made a couple of connections. So, that’s great.

A few posts by writers asking about YA have caught my attention. They typically include some derisive comments about people who write YA. Whether only insinuated or stated outright (as below), there is still a lot of stigma surrounding YA writers and literature. But why? Why are there still people in the world who turn their noses up at books targeted toward a younger audience?

Exhibit 1

I have a few theories–some of them nicer than others–but I can’t say for sure why there are writers in the world who think those who produce YA are lazy or looking for an easy layup. What I can tell you is why I write YA.

I write the books I’m most drawn to. For whatever reason, an idea gets caught in my head and I feel compelled to write. Sometimes these ideas are about younger people and would be best suited for a younger audience. I choose to write YA because it’s such an interesting time of a person’s life–particularly high school. Consider that change that happens during high school. Look at the incoming freshmen and outgoing seniors. First dates, first dances, first love. Pick a college, pick a career, pick a  life. All of these experiences are stories waiting to be written, and needing to be told so young people know that they’re not alone in dealing with the pressure of choice and consequence.

I write YA because I like YA stories. I write YA because there are hearts and minds waiting to be spoken to and desperate to be heard. Books can give them the courage to take a leap and find their own path. Just look at Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. I dare anyone to read that book and not come out a different person on the other side. That’s the power of YA literature.

Book Review: Antisocial

Antisocial by Jillian Blake has been following me around on Amazon and Goodreads since it’s release in May. After reading One of Us Is Lying last month, I was looking for another YA suspense or thrillerish fix.

Antisocial opens on our main girl Anna as she walks the gauntlet of the cafeteria, literally and figuratively looking for her place in the posh private school outside D.C.  Anna was recently dumped by her basketball star boyfriend, and since she ditched her “real” friends to hang out with him, she’s cast adrift without lunch table. While Anna tries to make amends with her hodge-podge friend group, she contrasts her position in the social hierarchy against the popular kid group known as Instas.

Things quickly escalate when the whole school’s internet history is released and everyone is attempting to link searches to students. As more and more private information is leaked and lies are exposed for all to see, Anna questions her friends and desperately tries to hide her own betrayals. Accusations are levied and consequences are faced, as Anna tries to uncover who is responsible. Her hacker bestie? A social climbing weasel profiting off of everyone’s misery?

Throughout the entire story, Anna works to overcome her crippling social anxiety disorder and reveals her journey for mental health that includes a therapist and a recent stint at a mental health facility. I’d read some comments about her struggle being more plot device than realistic representation of a person with SAD. I can’t speak to that argument, but I appreciated looking through her lens and the ramifications of living with an anxiety disorder. Books are supposed to broaden our view on the world, and in this case, I think it did. I know no two people share the exact same experience when it comes to anxiety, but I don’t think Blake’s intentions were malicious.

I devoured this book in just a couple of days. There were a few plot points that didn’t speak to me and some drama that was way overdone even for a high school student. I wouldn’t say its drawbacks took me so far from the story that I didn’t enjoy it. Any book that makes reading feel compulsive is a win for me. I’d certainly recommend it to any fans of One of Us Is Lying.

Book Review: The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World

I live to travel, so when I saw Kristin Rockaway’s new book–The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World–I was intrigued. It was billed as a novel for fans of Sophie Kinsella and The Devil Wears Prada. Naturally, I bought it right away.

The story opens on the main character Sophie in Hong Kong where she is being abandoned by her best friend on the first day of their trip. Sophie works for an IT consulting firm that has her traveling constantly, but this works for her since she has a serious case of wanderlust. After embracing her solo traveler status, she comes across artist Carson, who is on an extended trip around the world. Sparks fly and the two begin a whirlwind romance that takes them from Hong Kong to Macau.

When Sophie returns home to NYC and her job, she finds herself wondering about Carson and his life. Sophie is a regimented planner, and takes her career seriously, but she can’t seem to shake the feeling that she’s missing out on life. A surprise turn of events (no spoilers, y’all!) forces Sophie to choose between the safe route and the one she’s always dreamed of–seeing the world without the restraints of her five-year plan.

I really enjoyed this book! Kristin did a great job of painting Sophie’s travels and translating the sights, sounds, and flavors onto the page for her readers. I have a craving for a pineapple bun now and I don’t know what I’m going to do! The romance between Sophie and Carson was white hot. I ended up loving his character and his free spirit.

As a fellow woman following her dreams, I can relate to Sophie’s struggle between her practical nature and the pull of possibilities when you let go of fears and embrace what you love. If you love to travel–either for real or via armchair–I definitely recommend this one!

Book Review: One of Us Is Lying

I followed the hype surrounding Karen McManus’s One of Us Is Lying for a few months before it debuted. How could I not with a hook like Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club? After debating for .2 seconds whether I should buy it or go on the library wait list, Amazon was $10.99 richer and One of Us Is Lying was on my Kindle.

One of Us is Lying is told across multiple perspectives and surrounds the murder of notorious gossip and outsider Simon. Each of Simon’s four classmates, who witnessed his death during detention, become suspects. The question of who did it follows our narrators as they form alliances and decide who they can trust, while hiding secrets of their own.

I really enjoyed this story! It was every bit as addicting as advertised. I couldn’t put it down, and I trailed each narrator down their own rabbit hole of lies. What surprised me most was how my favorite character at the beginning was not my favorite character at the end. (I can’t say who or why because SPOILERS!)

About 3/4 of the way through, I had it mostly figured out, but that didn’t take away my enjoyment as the intricate web of lies was dismantled. Add in a sweet little romance, and this was the perfect summer read.

Go get it!

Check it out on Goodreads

Twitter Resources for Writers

Twitter is one of the most resource-rich places for writers. Lately though, there has been an abundance of helpful threads. So, I’ve put together a little digest for you. Enjoy!

Business and publishing advice with a heavy side of snark. (The only way to serve business advice, IMHO.)

Need a kick in the butt to get your writing going? *consider yourself kicked*

Not sure if an agent is right for your career? This was a helpful thread of the things agents can do for you. SPOILER: It’s a lot of the things many writers wouldn’t want to do themselves.

Any other good threads lately? Let me know and I can add them.

Book Review: My Not So Perfect Life

I finally got to My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. In my defense, I love Sophie Kinsella’s work and each time a book comes out I’m afraid that it will be the one to disappoint. So far, she’s batting .1000!

Lovable junior research assistant Cat is living the dream in London with a job at a hip branding agency. Her Insta feed is packed with filtered snaps of her glamorous life. Except her highly-cultivated online persona doesn’t show her dingy apartment, dismal bank account balance, or the crippling loneliness she’s faced since moving out on her own. When things get tough for Cat, she looks to her boss Demeter–an incredibly talented and flighty executive–for inspiration. Demeter has the job, the family, the money–the makings of a perfect life.

A chance encounter pushes up-and-coming creative genius Alex Astalis into Cat’s path, but before Cat can explore the something between them she’s downsized from her job. With no prospects or savings, Cat moves home to the country to help her family with their new glamping business and face her former life as Katie. Her marketing savvy turns the venture into an instant success and draws London’s elite to enjoy the resort, including her former boss. As Katie plots revenge on Demeter, new discoveries prove that no one has it all.

Like I said, I adored this book. I laughed and let my heartstrings be tugged while rooting for Katie. She’s a smart and fiery character looking to take on the world, and it was so interesting to see her cast against an older, more experienced Demeter. I liked the way Kinsella addressed how we let our online selves dictate the value of our experiences IRL. Check your Snapchat filters at the door, and pick this one up immediately.

Hitting Refresh

As Tom Petty says, “Waiting is the hardest part.” I’m not great at waiting, and some obsessive tendencies lead me to check my email every few minutes to see if a reply from an agent on a submission has come in. Spoiler alert: they haven’t.

When you’re querying, I don’t think anything is as excruciating as waiting to hear back on a query a partial request a full request. My theory is that it’s so hard to wait when you’re trying to find an agent because there is nothing you can actually do.

Setting goals and deadlines helps to soothe my type-a soul. As I work toward a specific goal (X number of words or pages revised), I feel like I’m making progress–even if they’re small steps. This sense of control over my situation creates a warm blanket of security in a highly subjective industry. In the query trenches, there is no such comfort.

I know a lot of writers feel this strain. I also know that, if I were to get an agent, there is only more waiting in my future when it’s time to go out on submission. Since I’ve not been down that road (yet!), I can’t speak to how that feels. I only know where I’m at, and where I am right now is staring at my inbox. Hitting refresh.

Any ideas to make the waiting easier? I’ve been distracting myself with a new project, and so far that’s been the only thing to keep my attention away from my gmail.