Tag Archives: Writing

Spring Illin’

popup-3_0Last week I was as sick as a dog. (Tell me: where did that analogy spring from anyway? Because if sick = dog, then my neighborhood should be a pandemic site.) My affliction ran the full gamut of misery: fever, chills, aches, head congestion and general all-over-shittiness, and from so much coughing and sneezing, this week I threw out my back. So it’s another week of not being up to a hundred percent, and now it’s thirty-eight degrees out and raining. Add to this one hell of a winter hangover which seemed to put all progress in reverse, and I’m finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning, let alone work on the book which I recently started. Put it all together and I’m decidedly in a funk, and wondering how to get my motor started when so much of the world is working against me.

(My goodness, I’m depressing. Now write yourself out of that hole, Gwen. Go ahead. I’m waiting.)

It’s very easy not to write when you’re feeling bad, actually too easy. Your brain gets preoccupied with everything that’s messing up your day, and it become almost mandatory to dis your routine for social media or TV, twin junk foods for the distracted mind. Kind of like when you have a bad day at work and you head right for the Doritos, a balm for the belly that actually works against you, especially after you realize you just inhaled 3000 calories, and you don’t even like Doritos. So how do you counter these counter-intuitive measures? How do you write when writer is the last thing you feel like? One thing I’ve found out about myself is I feel worse when I don’t write, that the act of writing itself gives me a feeling of self-worth unlike any other practice I partake in. The only thing that comes close is teaching, perhaps because both involve the dissemination of information uniquely my own. Maybe because as writers, we are innately messengers, and this need to communicate is what puts us in touch with our reality, giving us validation. Really? Is that what we need? Must be true, because why would I feel so bad when I’m not doing it? I mean, seriously, who feels bad when they’re not hitting their thumb with a hammer?

Man, writers are strange. But that’s why you love us so much, right?

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Writing the Dread Query

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If you fancy yourself a novelist ( as I, on occasion, have been wont to do), and you’d like to see yourself represented, sooner or later you’re going to have to attempt that necessary evil, the Dread Agent Query Letter. Truly, I know people who’d rather stick pencils in their eyes than apply that pencil to the task, but sweeties, it doesn’t have to be that painful if you know the assembly method. So here, in four easy paragraphs, I’ll try to show you how to compose the Perfect Agent Query. Now pay attention…

First, some preliminaries… First and foremost, a query is a business letter. Since most (if not all) agents accept queries only through email, and since that email entails one finger firmly adhered to the delete button, you want your query to be as concise and professional as possible, contained in the body of the email and NOT by attachment. Since attachments can carry viruses, agents are loath to open them unless they know you, so send attachments by invitation only. Most definitely use honorifics (Mr., Ms. etc.) in your Salutation as you should never assume familiarity. If you had previously met with the agent at a conference, workshop, cocktail party, etc, and were invited to query, most definitely write REQUESTED in the subject line as well as the first line of the email. These will get opened first. As a best practice, check the agent’s website or blog for query/submission guidelines. If you don’t have a particular agent in mind, try Jeff Herman’s guide, the library for The Literary Marketplace, or www.agentquery.com, just to name a few resources. Another one is troll the library or bookstore stack of the books of your genre, and see who the author thanks in her acknowledgements. Now, on to the actual construction…

Para One – Howdy! With Benefits – This is your query knock-on-the-door, your literary calling card designed to get the agent’s attention. Introduce yourself, remind her if you’ve previously met and where (we chatted during lunch at the XXXX Writers’ Conference), if you’ve been invited to query/submit, the name of your novel, the genre and word count. You might what to toss in a quick teaser like, A cross between Stephen King and Carl Hiaasen, My Bloody Margarita is a 80,000 word…, to illustrate what your writing is like. But on the whole, keep this para to a five-six line minimum, with just the facts, ma’am, inviting her to the next para to learn more.

Para Two – In which we employ The Hard Sell – this is where you get ONE paragraph to car-crush your entire 80,000 word novel into one easily digestible capsule.  Twelve to fifteen lines in all, introduce your main characters, basic plot line, conflict, lessons learned, the conclusion. Remember, although you want the agent to be intrigued, you don’t want to raise her ire. So if you say …but if you want to know how the story turns out, you’ll just have to request the rest of it… you’re just asking for a delete.  Be creative, not cagey.

Para Three – It’s all about YOU! – This is where you get your close-up, Mr. DeMille; it’s all about you, you, you. Cite your published works, awards, training, blogs, websites, education (if pertinent), professional associations, jobs or skills that give you credibility for/authority on what you’re writing about. Again, because this is a business letter, remain professional. Don’t take this personally, but no one really cares if you like to raise bunnies and take long walks lakeside, unless, of course, you’re writing about The Killer Hare of Lake Superior. Again, no more than twelve to fifteen lines. A link to your blog or website is also advisable, as most industry people now assume you have a web or social media prescience, and if you don’t, you have to ask yourself why.

Para Four – Wrap it up – This is your shortest paragraph of all. I’ll even toss in examples free of charge: I can send a proposal or the complete novel at your request. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. OR  According to your submission guidelines, what follows is the first ten pages (or synopsis or first three chapters, or any combination thereof stated in their guidelines) of <Name Work> Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. THAT SHOULD BE IT. No more, no less, just a salute as you head out the door.

All finished? PROOFREAD AND SPELL-CHECK, then add your email address and your phone number. All in all, a succinct query should never contain more than 400-450 words, and NEVER more than one page. And never query unless you have a completed, fully-polished, proofread and spell-checked novel ready to go. I know of agents who get 200 queries a week, and some substantially more. That’s a heck of a queue, and if you’re not ready to submit at a moment’s notice, rest assured there are hundreds of others who are.

One more thing — good luck!

 

How I spent my Spring vacation ~ a Pictorial

Sylvia DayI’m one of those poor academics who has to work most of the year except Agents Panelfor a few weeks between semesters and in that venerable time called Spring Break, which for me was last week. The hind end of it was spent at the Liberty State Fiction Writers annual conference, where the Keynote speaker was bestselling author, Sylvia Day. (She actually was much closer than this when I snapped the picture at left. It sure didn’t look this far away!)This year it expanded into a two-day conference, and I got to attend some great workshops and talks, as well as hook up with several writer friends, my agent, who also sat on the Agents Panel at right, and a bunch of other publishing professionals. But mostly–and here’s the really important part–I got to spent a goodly amount of time imbibing in all things theoretically Bad For Me, the absolute BEST part of any conference.

For example, here’s my glamorous agent, Marisa Corvisiero and I10676170_10153157517647298_4678831760680549663_n lunching on the de rigueur plate of institutional chicken atop a mish-mash of rice and what I believe were vegetables scraped from the previous day’s soup pot. That’s Marisa laughing at another of my uproarious bon mots. It was probably something like, “You gonna eat that?” (Yes, I’m that funny.) The iced tea was incredible, at least.

Conferences are also prime places for getting embarrassingly shitty cell phone pix taken of you. Consider the Edvard Munch study below. Don’t ask me what the impetus was for that. I have no idea.

Munch ImpressionComposition in Light and Dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juxtapose that against what I call “A Composition in Light and Dark” at the right. There’s me looking all shady and ironic (and beat-up; it’d been a rough night) against the beatific figure in the background beaming like a Botticelli. Truth be told, I never knew I possessed such a talent for artistic expression. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but I swear, these are absolutely improv-ed. I’m also that talented.

Ultimately, the conference comes down to hanging out with good friends, drinking some good wine (or at least priced accordingly), and demolishing a honkin’ big dish of Brownie Sundae. Between all of this I got to make some really good plans for the future, some of which you will be privy to shortly. If the best business is done in the off-hours, then I’ll take this office space any time. It truly is where the best people are.

LSFW Dinner(left-right: Linda J. Parisi, Gwen Jones, Gretchen Weerheim, Marisa Corvisiero, Samantha Bremekamp.)

Break me, please!

4cfcbb62c5976427f498bd97f33ed5a022764103I’ve been in academia for fifteen years now and teaching college for five, and one thing the profession has never been is boring. I’ve met my share of interesting people, from Candace Bushnell to Maya Angelou to Robert Kennedy, Jr., to Francine Prose, and just today, in my Media Writing class, I met a former police beat reporter for the Asbury Park Press, Margaret F. Bonafide. She talked to my class of budding journalists about life as a beat reporter, and how one of your stories could even catch the eye of a film maker and turn into a documentary. It was all very fascinating and inspiring, and although my students were rapt as they listened, asking intelligent questions and offering her a rousing applause when she was through, she barely left the podium before they were out of there like a shot. Why, you may ask?

Next week is Spring Break baby! And it’s not even next week yet! You see, it’s the wise student that gets a jump on.

Today is Wednesday, and I still have two more days of classes, but already, my attendance roster is falling short. Just the other day I had a student in one of my English classes tell me he would be in Cancun over the break, so could he have extra time for this week’s assignment? “Might I suggest you do it before you go?” I may have well asked him to hand over his spleen. Hey, you only have to write that three-page essay. I have to grade over thirty of them. And that’s just for one class. I’m wisely staggering them for the others. They’re not the only ones on Spring Break, you know.

So what will I be doing? Funny you should ask. I do have a book I’ve just started, so I’ll get in some extra writing time. Get my taxes done. Sleep. (Ah, yes, I fit it somewhere in before my 7:30 class.) Not shovel snow (It was a blissful 60 degrees here today in Jersey.) AND go to a writers conference next weekend! (See last week’s post.) That in itself constitutes my own Spring Break, a break from the ordinary, a chance to reinvigorate, reconnect, and renew. With chips and dip, of course, And wine. Lots and lots of wine, yessir.

In vino veritas, ah yes.

Five reasons to attend the 6th Annual Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference March 21-22

CreateSomethingMagicalConAd_FINAL_webBeside the fact it’s located in convenient Iselin, NJ, just off Route One? That lunch is included? That I’ll be there? Well, if THAT isn’t enough motivation, let me give you a few more reasons why:

  1. Sylvia Day! ~ Keynote speaker, #1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling Author. Breakfast speaker, #1 New York Times Bestselling author Maria V. Snyder.
  2. Editors and Agents! ~ Forget that messy query process – speak face-to-face with living, breathing editors and agents. Too many editors and agents to list!
  3. Workshops! ~ On craft, on children’s books, fantasy, mysteries, blogging – even martial arts, plus much, much more!
  4. Bookfair ~ Your favorite authors, signing your favorite books, courtesy of Watchung Booksellers.
  5. Writers and Readers Tracks! ~ Special events exclusively for either or both, with access for all to meals and parties, plus the Bookfair.

And I’ll be there! What else do you need to know? But alas, in case you do, you can always click here for more information.

See you there!

 

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda…

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There’s a writer I know who always pens the perfect dialogue. His characters can banter with all the snap and speed of a table tennis tourney, their chatters’ cadence a direct reflection of the intensity of the situation, or in its languor, its lack thereof. Dialogue can paint a vivid portrait of a character’s personality, revealing the level of intimacy between the protagonists, or recreate a historical era with its manner of speech and choice of words. Dialogue, in and of itself, can be your book’s barometer, setting the mood through the characters’ zingers, laments, opines and asides. Prose would be decided dry and lumbering without it, relegating readers to trudge through page upon page of telling not showing, its characters never really coming alive. Knowing this, I think we could all agree attention to dialogue is essential to good writing. But so is too much attention, which is what new writers often can’t see.

There comes a time in every professional writer’s life when the work ceases being written and thus becomes read. From the time it leaves the desk and goes before a beta-reader or an editor, it begins to exist on its own, without the aid of its creator’s vision. What the reader sees is exactly what the writer has put forth, but if what they’re seeing becomes skewed in the transmission, then it’s not the reader’s fault if they don’t “get it.” Dialogue, as stated above, is a wonderfully descriptive vehicle to transport your story along. But if you’re only saying so much outloud then finishing the balance of the information in your head, you’re not getting your character’s message–or your vision–across to your readers.

New writers often have fabulous stories in their heads, but fail when getting them to the page. Often, this mistake shows itself in dialogue, as the characters will say things colored by insider information obvious to the writer, but not so much to the reader. This happens when the writer is so close to the story they unconsciously fill in the missing information. When this happens, try closing your eyes to take a look at the scene, then write what you’re seeing beyond what the characters are saying. When your hero says, “Feeling a bit depressed today?” Don’t wait for the heroine to simply say “Yes,” before the hero rambles on. Imagine the scene from his point of view. Let us see her with her head in her hands. Let us feel her tremble under his touch as she breaks into tears. Do we hear the ocean rumbling below as they stand on the cliff, taste the salt in their mouths? Dialogue’s essential, but if you’re not giving us the complete picture, you’re only getting half your story on the page.

Years ago, ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” after some complaints about all the yak going on during the games, dropped their color commentators from the night’s telecast, simply showing the game with the score on the screen. The experiment was a rousing failure, as the game lost its sense of immediacy, its excitement, its human quality. Dialogue in our writing works the same way, but only when we’re adding the complete picture, by coloring inside the lines. If we don’t, we’re left with just a line drawing, a one-dimensional outline with no substance or depth, a yadda yadda yadda of sound and fury, signifying a lot more work to do!

 

Diagnosis: Writer – Five Sure-Shot Symptoms

vintagetypewriter_93579-758x485No, you’re not crazy, even though your friends and family think you are. Even so, you have to admit that at time, you do seem a bit “off.” Still, how do you measure crazy against what accurately borders on obsession? I was thinking of this last weekend while lunching with some fellow writers, wondering whether they’re afflicted with similarly bizarre affectations, or if I was I suffering in silence. Odd or not, it’s made me realize that dammit, I must be a real writer, because although I’m not cutting off an ear or anything for my art, I sure am suffering some peculiarities. Such as:

1. Post-it Note Addiction – It’s true. I carry them everywhere. I have pads of them on my desk, in my purse, in the pocket of my course binder. I whip them out to jot down lines of dialogue, character descriptions, plot lines–even the premise for this post. They’re all over the place in my office, and when I’m on  the road and inspiration clocks me, I jot down my genius and stick them to the inside of my wallet so I don’t forget. By the way, they’re also good for shopping lists, as you can stick them right in front of you on the inside of the shopping cart.

2. Drinking Hot Liquids Cold – During the winter months I usually have a cuppa something at my elbow while I’m writing, but I have to tell you, I can’t remember the last time I actually sipped it while it was still hot. Usually the cream’s left a sheen on the coffee, or the tea’s soaked down the string to the tag, an “accident” puddling on my desk, whatever’s in the cup long, gone cold. The opposite effect is true in the summer, when I never seem to sip anything cold: the ice just a memory, the glass dripping condensation. I should probably just yank a bottle out of the cabinet and forget about it. Either way, it all ends up the same place: room temperature.

3. Vitamin D Deficiency – My last routine blood screen had everything come back normal except my Vitamin D level. Apparently deficiencies of this vitamin, which is created by sunshine, can cause depression, chronic fatigue, weight loss (I wish), diabetes, heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis. In addition to a disease I thought went out with the nineteenth century–rickets! “It’s not unusual to see decreased Vitamin D levels in the winter,” my doctor had said. “But yours? Don’t you even step out on the porch?” All right, I guessing the LED glow from my laptop isn’t enough, so I suppose it’s supplements until the snow melts and I’m hitting the sidewalk again.

4. Plot-related Memory Loss – Has this happened to you? You’re driving along, trying to work out what exactly Protagonist A is going to leave on Protagonist B’s doorstep, and the next thing you know you’re sitting in the parking lot at work, with no idea how you got there. Or you’re in the shower and you’ve just thought of the perfect setting for your heroine’s vacation. But there’s this bottle of conditioner in your hand, and you can’t remember if you washed your hair first. Whether you’re staring at blank walls or losing threads of conversations, it’s not early dementia–it’s Plot On the Brain. And trying not to think about it only makes it worse. Better to lock yourself in the closet and get it down and over with.

5. You Do It Anyway – This I have found the most telling. You’ve written a bunch of novels, a dozen short stories, more than a few essays, innumerable blog posts, even kept a journal for more years than you’d care to own up to. And although you’ve had some limited success, though nowhere near where you’d like to see yourself, you keep doing it. You finish one piece then start another, because you know if you don’t your axis will tilt and forget the Vitamin D–you’ll feel a deficiency worse than if all the chocolate in the world suddenly disappeared. You can’t help yourself, even on the days when that rejection shows up in your inbox, you still want to do it. You’ll cry and curse and hate the world for stopping you from doing what you can’t seem to give up. But then all of a sudden that perfect line plants itself in your head, and you’re back to doing it anyway. You’re so pathetic. Maybe. Maybe not. But oh man, sometimes it’s such a bitch being us.

Okay, enough whining. Back to work.

 

When a Kiss is not just a Kiss

Vintage-Valentine-Day-AdsThis Valentine’s weekend I’m going to put on my romance writer’s hat and dwell a bit on one of the three most important occurrences in a romance Novel – a) the first meeting between the two lovers, b) their first kiss and c) the first time they make love. Now, being of a perspicacious sort, I’m venturing a guess you’re hoping I’m going to jump all over c but sweetie, you’re wrong, mainly because that’s just too darn easy. Instead I’m going to focus on what is infinitely more monumental – the first kiss.

Yes, monumental. Are you kidding? you say. What can be more earth-shaking to a relationship than the lovers’ consummation? Think about it this way: if consummation is the inaugural flight, then the first kiss is the trial balloon. If it doesn’t fly, if it isn’t convincing enough, then chances are this trip’s going nowhere.  Consider this from one of my earlier (yet unpublished) masterpieces:

“You make me crazy, Jane,” he said softly, brushing his hand against my cheek, “but you’re in my head, and you won’t go away.”

I could feel the tenseness of his body against mine, and that dizziness returned, my legs wavering. He must have felt it, too, as he held me tighter, my hands finding their way to the small of his back. Then I looked into his eyes, the lightning drawing the gold from them, and then to his lips, slightly parted and ready to fall onto mine.

I had never wanted anyone more.

“Jane,” he said, and the sky exploded.

I fell into the all of him, his mouth warm and delicious on mine, my mind as fuzzy as drugged. He wrapped his arms tighter and lifted me from the ground, his lips tracing tiny charges across my collarbone. I reached down and gathered his head against me, kissing the windy sweetness of his hair. Then he whirled around, setting me to the picnic table.

“Well, hallelujah,” he said, smiling at me.

It would have been easy to simply write that he kissed her, she welcomed it, then they moved on to whatever ultimately transpired in the scene. But that would’ve been larcenous to the readers. They’re expecting more. In a romance, just as in a real life relationship, a first kiss is so much more intimate than even the sex. In actuality, it’s the first act of trust between the couple, and either’s reaction will determine the course their relationship will take. Was it mutual? Was it welcomed? Was it reciprocated? Does it lead to more? Does it change the relationship for better or for worse? Consider this from an even earlier tour de force:

She moved closer to him, so close she could see the slight tremble on his face, feel his breath on her cheek, hear nothing but the sound of her flaring pulse. She raised her eyes to his as he took her hand and pulled her into his arms.

“And it scares the hell out of me,” he said as his mouth fell to hers.

Brett’s world went black for a moment, though its spin remarkably advanced. He tasted warm, soft and vaguely of whiskey, and wonderfully, wonderfully like more.

She lost her head for the duration, found it acting of its own accord. She saw its mouth opening wider and wider still, saw it drawing its breath from its share with his. Saw its eyes flutter in an almost-swoon, thinking that a distinct possibility if she hadn’t been so securely in his arms.

Here was the man she once thought a killer, who would have killed to save her son’s life, who could have lost his own for doing it. At once who he was didn’t seem so essential anymore, as long as he was who he was now.

“Brett, Brett…” he whispered, burying his face in her neck. She arched it back as his kisses trailed electric charges against her skin, her eyes opening and closing with the force of her breath coming hard. She raked her fingers into his hair and dragged his mouth back to hers, his kisses desperate and greedy, her heart pounding against his own wildly-beating chest.

He laid his cheek against hers, gathering her so closely she could feel herself melting into the folds of his body. Then upon his cheek she felt a startling moistness as he suddenly drew apart from her.

He held her out, her breath catching at the sight of him staring. No longer did she question the evening light when his sudden pallor was so apparent.

“Forgive me,” he said.

Oh yes, things have definitely changed, but is that good? Is either lover coming away from this encounter exhilarated with the romantic discovery of each other, or has their bussing made things more muddled than ever? (Maybe if I ever get this epic published, I’ll be able to tell you!)

The thing is, a kiss, at least in the world of romance, is never a simple thing. It’s probably more complex than a Newtonian theorem. To do it right, at least in this writer’s opinion, it must be electric, life-altering, physically shattering and ultimately axis-tilting. It should be one of the most descriptive pieces of writing in the book, and neither participant should come out the same as before they entered into it. It may crash them together or force them apart, but it should always leave them longing for more. But most of all, it should open them to a world neither of them ever experienced or expected, and one they couldn’t ever imagine living in without each other again.

All Excerpts © Gwen Jones 2015 – All Rights Reserved.

Of Writers’ Conferences and other peccadilloes of being out in daylight

CreateSomethingMagicalConAd_FINAL_webThis year I have a chance to go to three assemblages of a literary nature, and they are as varied as the wounds inflicted by so many cats in a sack. If you’re a fan of these things, whether a beginning or seasoned writer or any stage in between, it always helps to crawl out of your cave and go hone your skills a bit, not to mention mingle with your peers at the hotel bar (or perhaps schmooze an agent/editor or two with a “hey! it’s on me!” Always appreciated.) At the top of my list is the Liberty States Fiction Writers “Create Something Magical” Conference, coming up March 21-22 in Iselin, NJ. It is by far a stellar collection of panels, workshops, editor/agent appointments, and all around fun. I go every year (five years running), and it’s open to anyone who writes fiction–mystery, sci-fi, horror, romance, YA, children, or just general fiction-types. I’m also a member of this fantastic group and we’ll take you whether you’re an NYT bestseller or you’ve just started scrawling dark-and-stormy-nights on Post-Its. Come on over, we’ll love you all.

Next on the agenda would be Book Expo America on May 27-29 in New York City. And since it’s a book-expo-americatrade fair held in the publishing capital of the work, anyone who’s anyone in the book biz, from writers to publishers to editors and agents, usually show up. (Although I hear that next year it will be moving out of NYC, boo-hoo, so if you’re in the Northeast, you may want to try to make this year.) I try to get to BEA every year, too, as I can connect with the latest trend out there in publishing, see some great authors speak and sign, as well as generally soak of the milieu of being around the book industry. (Plus it feeds my thirst for $5  bottles of water.) Not all events are open to the general public, but there is a readers’ track, and a special one for librarians, so take a look at he site and see where you fit in. I get all sparkly-eyed every year when I go, as it’s pretty much Disneyland for Writers, as far as I’m concerned.

RWA 2015 NYCThe next one is a definite biggie because of the 35th anniversary of the Romance Writers of America annual conference, also held this year in NYC July 22-25. Last year I did a book signing for RWA at their BEA booth, and they’re a wonderful and gracious group of people and very supportive of writers of all stages in romance. But since this would be my first time to a conference of this magnitude. I must say I’m a little terrified. Not of the conferenceno!-but of the prospect of spending four days buying food at NY prices. Now I know there are lots of fabulous places to eat on the cheap in New York, but to find them, I’d need to bring my sister who lived there for twenty years. But she writes sci-fi/spec fiction, so I suppose I’ll be on my own. Still, if you write romance, this is the Real Deal.

There are more conferences out there, of course, and a great source to look for them, no matter what you write, is agentquery.com, for listings all over the country. Writers, as a whole, live in their heads far too much, and need to get out there once in a while, at least to see that they’re not alone in all their weirdness. And we are weird, you know, and it’s high time you accept that, and celebrate it within the bosom of other like-minded weirdos. Come on–you know you deserve it!

The Morning this Writer had the Whole House to Herself

Cutie Pie

I’ll have the house to myself all day, so I’ll get up at the crack of dawn and hit my desk by 6:00 AM. I’ll mute my phone, ignore my email, and do nothing but write. Oooh! I love it when I can work in my jammies.

5:30 – Alarm rings. Roll over, hit snooze.

5:31 – Cat finds ball. Ignore tinkly bell and fall back asleep.

5:40 – Alarm rings again. Cat jumps on face. Swat at cat. Miss cat. Knock over alarm. Alarm stops by default. Pull pillow over head. Fall back to sleep.

5:44 – Dream of jingle bells.

5:49:58 – Cat pulls curtain and curtain rod from window, knocks alarm from night table.

5:50 – Alarm rings. Give up, get up and go to bathroom. Tinkly sound emanates from bedroom.

5:55 – Feed cat.

5:58 – Bowl of Cheerios and sliced banana. Get newspaper while cereal soggies.

6:03 – 6:14 – Front page, editorials, comics, horoscope. Take vitamins.

6:15 – 6:19 – “Morning Joe.”

6:20 – 6:47 – Switch to TCM while “Joe” is on a commercial break and become embroiled in pre-code Jean Harlow/Clark Gable rom-com until cat leaps into window at neighbor’s cat reminding you to look toward wall clock.

6:48 – Make cup of tea; visit bathroom while waiting for water to boil, turning on laptop en route. Brush teeth. Spy book on dresser on the way out. Finish reading chapter started the night before.

6: 54 – Return book to dresser.

6:55 – Retrieve tea and head toward office.

6:56 – Visit several email accounts and return email, re: 3 student crises, web course designer, critique partner. Email agent. Sneak peek at Facebook, Twitter, tweet, favorite. Check website.

7: 18 – Bring up work-in-progress. Shrink work-in-progress. Bring up FreeCell. One therapeutic game to get brain functioning. Or two. Three. Four at the most.

7:39 – Bring up work-in-progress. Remember need to look up legal term first. Shrink WIP; go online, homepage, CNN. Check if world blew up the night before. Switch to Google. Find term. Tweet. Check email. Answer email. One more FreeCell. Return to WIP.

8:07 – Emergency email from critique partner. Forestall imminent artistic self-thrashing and proceed to email buck-up. Email is replied to in less than a minute. Send another buck-up complete with happy emoticons. Check Twitter.

8:47 – Return to WIP. Stomach growls. Go to kitchen and make toast, toss cat teeth crunchy treats. Stare out window at trash truck across the lake as toast toasts. Remember forgot to put out trash. Run out door in robe. Return to smoke alarm blaring from toast stuck in toaster. Open windows. Toss toast. Fan.

9:05 – Return to office. Email from agent. Needs immediate proposal for prospective editor. Panic but produce passable proposal in less than ten minutes. Return to WIP, but first retreat to kitchen for cube of 72% cacao dark chocolate while entertaining visions of NYT Bestseller Glory. Return to office and WIP. See cat had jumped on keyboard and now there’s kmsadslvy]e0-vn’aey9-3 rya2932f all over page 78. 79. 80. 81———————

9:16 – 9:19 – Clean up WIP. Phone rings. Seems forgot to mute phone.

9:20 – 9:51 – Chat and play solitaire.

9:52 – Return to WIP. Take sip of tea, notice it’s cold. Go to kitchen to reheat tea. While heating eat forkful of cold spaghetti from fridge. One more. Another. Mmmm….

9:58 – Return to office. Pick up hand weights. Lift. Throw out back. Lay on floor to stretch. Cat jumps on stomach. Yelp. Swat at cat. Miss. Cat circles head, purring. Melt.

10:10 – Remember forgot tea in microwave. Go to kitchen to retrieve. Spy calendar and see it’s wrong day for trash on my street. Go to street to retrieve trash can so don’t look like an idiot. Return to kitchen and retrieve tea. Cold again. Check MSNBC on TV as tea reheats. Go to HBO during commercial break.

Noon – Get up to retrieve tea as credits roll for “Get Him to the Greek.” Dump tea; go to fridge and retrieve pot of spaghetti from fridge. Take to office, shrink WIP and go to Slate.com and read “Dear Prudence” while eating cold pasta with fingers. Phone rings. Still forgot to mute. Chat while licking fingers.

12:49 – Find Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffle from old Christmas stash in desk while rearranging desk tray while still on the phone. Eat, toss wrapper at trash. Miss.

12:50 – Cat finds missed wrapper. Grabs in mouth. Runs from room.

12:51 – Hear a crashing sound from bedroom. Ring off phone. Go to bedroom. Jewelry box and entire contents is now on floor, truffle wrapper on top. Scoop contents, return to box, return box to dresser. Toss wrapper. Cat missing. Eye bed, still unmade.

12:52 – Call day a wash. Return to bed. Bed never so comfortable…

12: 59 – Cat finds ball.