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Aa new year is here, and with it, a new set of literary goals. Last year, I was lost in writer’s block and work stress, amounting to a little reading and even less writing. While not one to make New Year’s Resolutions (I prefer to make them on my birthday, instead), when looking back at 2014, I figured it might be time to step out of my norm and post some resolutions.

  1. Write 5 days a week – I chose 5 instead of 7 because, knowing my schedule, 5 is more realistic, especially while in the midst of ski season.
  2. Read 100 books – this is a lofty goal, I know. To date, my highest achievement was reading 78 books in 1 year, and at the time, I remember feeling like I didn’t retain the information from the books. But, my to-read list is lengthy and a writer should read a lot, so I’m going to shoot for 100.
  3. Read more nonfiction – I am guilty of reading almost nothing but fiction. I read to escape, so popular fiction is my genre of choice. I also blame my time aversion to nonfiction on my time in graduate school, as my studies left little time for the reading of fiction. To make myself a more rounded writer, I need to expand my knowledge base. My goal is 15 nonfiction books.
  4. Take at least 1 writing class.
  5. Attend 1 writing conference.
  6. Write articles – As a student, I wrote a lot of nonfiction articles, and I really enjoyed it. Since leaving school several years ago, I haven’t written very many articles; instead, my focus has been on writing fiction.
  7. Get at least 1 freelance article published – If I can get more published, all the better. Not only will this help my credibility as a writer, but it will also be a big boon to my confidence.
  8. Increase my vocabulary – Being out of school, and since I’ve avoided reading nonfiction, I feel my vocabulary is not what it used to be. I often struggle to find the right word, which slows down the writing process and, in my day-to-day, makes me feel less articulate around colleagues, friends, and acquaintances. To help me with this goal, I have ordered 2 word a day calendars: 1 with archaic words and another with modern words. I love the history of language, so the archaic one will be fun and entertaining, while the modern one will be more practical in my day-to-day.
  9. Write at least 1 short story a month, and publish to my blog – this is something I’ve been thinking about over the past couple of months. I think it will be a good outlet when I’m feeling bogged down by my WIP.
  10. Finish my WIP.

Come back in a month for an update on my progress.

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Megan has
read 2 books toward her goal of 100 books.

Fear is death for writers. Fear cripples and keeps thoughts at bay. Or keeps them from being shared, which is just as bad.

But as an artist, and no matter what type of writing you do, you are an artist, it is hard to get beyond the fear. Every time you publish a piece, you are putting it out there for the world to judge, and, let’s face it, the internet has made it very easy for people to post hurtful critiques – it’s easy to forget that there are real people at the receiving end of those comments.

Lately I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I know that to feel satisfied, i need to write. But I’ve let the fear conquer me. And this fear doesn’t just keep me from publishing things to my blog. It keeps me from writing period.

I used to write any and everything. And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed researching and writing nonfiction. I enjoyed playing with my imagination and crafting works of fiction. But then something happened. I started applying for writing jobs and each job I applied for seemed like a shoe in, until I submitted my writing sample. And then, silence.

I began to doubt myself, and, in doing so, my craft. Every time I sat down to write, a voice in my head kept asking “is this good enough?” I was paralyzed.

Overcoming Fear

So how do you overcome the fear once it has sunk in?

The first step, as with any problem, is to admit that there is a problem.

The second step is figuring out what to do about the problem, because choosing to not do something just because someone might think you did it poorly is sad.

For me, I found solace in hearing people critique well-known, highly successful writers, specifically J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. Here are 2 women who have sold millions of copies of their works and who’s stories touched readers enough to justify turning them into movies. Regardless of what critics say about writing quality or storytelling abilities, there are millions of people who have found something to love about these writers. Pleasing everyone is never going to happen. And as a reader who has found something to love in the works of both of these authors, and in the works that exist because of the changes Harry Potter and Twilight wrought on the MG & YA genres, thank goodness they didn’t listen to the naysayers.

The moral is, there will always be naysayers. I think, sad as it is, that this is just part of human nature. Sure, my book review or my piece on Harry Potter World may not be the most informative, well-written thing. But the next review or the next article I write will expand upon the things I learned. And if people criticize my work, well those critiques are things that I can add into my future work.

No one starts out perfectly, but if they did, how much fun would that be?

One of the biggest problems with being a writer is that you feel like everyone expects everything you write to be brilliant. For the past year I’ve been working towards converting to Judaism. And the big day is finally almost here. But first, I have to write a statement of intent. Only problem is, instead of just worrying that what I write won’t show that I’m committed and serious enough, I’m also worrying that my writing will not seem brilliant enough. I can’t just write my thoughts. I feel the need to stream together amazingly poetic prose.

Do you find that you have this problem? Do you feel that people expect more from you when you are a “writer”? Or have you found a way to turn off the writer brain so that sometimes you can just write for the sake of writing?

Do you prefer the glossiness of The Capital or the grittiness of District 12?

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of post-apocalyptic books that take place just after the apocalypse. Or I’ve been reading some books that show the apocalypse and the destruction that follows. These books are gritty and set in a world with very little hope. In reading these books, I’ve realized that I’m more of the glossy, everything appears good on the outside but is really gritty and dark and horrible on the inside kind of girl.

For me, there is something more intriguing about seeing the hidden underbelly of a society. When everything has fallen apart and there is corruption and limited resources and fighting, there is no surprise. You expect things to get bad and then the hero just has to rise above the bad. But when a character lives in a world that seems safe and easy, it seems like the struggle is more difficult. They have to give up the seemingly perfect world to fight for what is right. To me, this must seem like a bigger battle and a more interesting character.

I think a lot of why I find the shiny, glossy, pretty dystopians to be more interesting is because I can better relate to them. Our world we live in is, more of less, shiny and pretty, but there is a dark underbelly if you know where to look. I, for one, would be hard pressed to give up the security of my life, so I can relate to a hero’s struggle when they come from that type of world.

What do you think? Do you prefer a certain type of dystopia?

Life's little comforts (that I cannot live without)

I’ve been reading a lot of post-apocalyptic books lately (stay tuned for my upcoming reviews of The Eleventh Plague and Ashes, Ashes) and it’s really got me thinking about how well I would fair in a post-apocalyptic world. Assuming I even made it that far. I’d like to pretend that I’d be fine in a post-apocalyptic world. But the truth is, I think I would struggle with the apocalypse part and most likely not even make it to the post-apocalyptic part.

Recently I’ve been thrown into a lot of situations which have revealed my ability to deal with the unexpected, or rather, my inability.

Case 1: No power

If you recall, about 3 weeks ago I was thrust into a 3-day power outage. And I was completely lost. My phone wasn’t charged, my kindle was running low on power and forget about my computer. And then, of course, there was the whole lack of internet. And the cold water (I have no shame admitting that I went 2.5 days without a shower). It became very clear to me just how much I rely on power. I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t clean, I couldn’t do laundry, and, since most of my books are electronic, I couldn’t even read. Since I’m pretty sure the apocalypse usually wipes out power, I’d probably be struggling to keep myself from having a mental breakdown from the get-go.

Case 2: No bed

There comes a point in every apocalypse where you have to make the hard choice to leave your home. This decision came pretty quickly to Alex in Ashfall, but a bit more slowly to Lucy in Ashes, Ashes. I think I’d probably be more along the lines of Lucy. And one of the top reasons would be that I need a bed. I spent the past week and a half sleeping on an air mattress and I was MISERABLE. I couldn’t sleep, I was irritable, my head hurt, and that was better by far than sleeping on the ground, which seems to be a common post-apocalyptic sleeping situation. And then, of course, my home has my things, and this leads to the third point.

Case 3: Materialism

OK, I know this is super un-PC, but I have come to terms with the fact that I am 100% materialistic. When the boxes of my things finally arrived and I found myself in an apartment surrounded by my stuff, I felt much more at ease than I had prior to my things arriving. As awful as it makes me sound, I think I would be really upset having to leave behind everything I have to wander around a destroyed world.

Assuming I did make it out of the apocalypse and into the post-apocalyptic world, I’d probably be alright. I know how to start a fire and I will eat pretty much anything and I have a variety of survival skills. But those only really help me if I can get over the no power, no bed, and no personal items. So let’s keep our fingers crossed that there’s no apocalypse. Otherwise I might be in for a bit of trouble.

What about you? Do you think you could make it through the apocalypse? Would you be able to survive in a post-apocalyptic world?


Today is my first day as a full-time writer. Only, there has not been much writing. Instead I have spent the majority of my day trying to get internet (thanks Comcast), dealing with the broken radiator in the bedroom, and researching solutions for storing shampoo in a claw foot tub (suggestions welcome). Sigh.

In retrospect, it was probably a bit ambitious to think I would start my new job just 2 days after moving across the country. Even though today was supposed to be the start of my new life, I think I will just call it a wash and finish up as much house stuff as possible so that tomorrow I can get up and start my new job with zero distractions.

Today was the big cross-country move. Instead of sitting in my new apartment in San Francisco, I’m still in Boston, sitting in an airport bar, waiting for my flight. But the way I see it, it wouldn’t be a writer’s big step towards being a proper writer without a bit of drama. And if the past 3 days have been anything, they’ve been drama filled.

It was supposed to be very straightforward – quit work Tuesday, prepare the house Wednesday, supervise the movers Thursday and then catch a plane early Friday. While I did go to the airport this morning, it was sans bags. And the apartment was a mess. And there were no movers because we were without power for 3 days, meaning no light to pack by and no electricity for the freight elevator.

Instead of my nice, tidy plan, disaster struck in the form of a transformer exploding three blocks from my apartment, blanketing the city in blackness and pandemonium. Between the police sirens and loud-speaker announcements, the power company tearing the streets up to install new cables, and the constant hum of diesel generators, I felt like I was in the middle of a disaster zone.

While this was the worst timing, it was a bit fortuitous for this happen to a dystopian writer. Talk about great inspiration!

Even though the move was not as smooth as I would have liked, and even though it’s not even over, at least there is a silver lining. And who knows, maybe I’ll be able to use some of the scenes I witnessed these past couple of days, not to mention learning to cope without power, in a future book that will make me millions. And hey, what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t relish a bit of drama in my life?

In 2 weeks, I will be trading in the full-time job and guaranteed paycheck to try my hand at being a full-time writer. While it’s scary, I’m incredibly excited. Of course, there’s one extra challenge that comes along with this switch – moving across the country to California.

In preparing for this transition, finding an apartment in San Francisco that would provide me with a positive working environment was key. Even though it meant sacrificing luxury, finding an apartment with a separate office was non-negotiable. In my current apartment, there are two large rooms – a bedroom/office combo and a dining room/living room/office. The lack of dedicated writing space makes it very hard for me to focus and, while I like the apartment from a living perspective, it is not always the best from a working perspective. When your home is going to become your office, these are important distinctions.

Luckily, my fiance agreed with the importance of a designated space for me, and so we agreed to sacrifice some living comforts, like an open floor plan, a good-sized kitchen, and even a dishwasher (sigh) so that we could afford a two bedroom apartment to provide me with my own writing space.

As I wait to take this next step in my writing career, I cannot stop planning out the most efficient space for writing, which has also distracted me from writing because it means I’ve spent many hours online searching through magazine photos and store catalogs. But I would rather have the distractions now than when I get there.

Stay tuned for more updates on taking the leap, quitting my day job, and making my writing dreams come true. Have you taken the leap? Have you thought about it?


I’ve watched the first three episodes of ABC’s Once Upon a Time, and I’ve got to say, I’m really loving it. It’s a lovely combo of real life meets fairy tale with a dash of dystopian. Based off of the growing interest in reworked fairy tales and the continued popularity in dystopian fiction, it’s a pretty clever mix.

If you haven’t seen it, Once Upon a Time takes all of the fairy tale characters we know and love and, due to a curse meant to take away their happy endings, they are transported to Storybrook, Maine, where they are locked in a prison of mundane lives.

What I love about this show

First, have you ever been to Maine in the winter? I cannot think of a more perfect place to to send people if you want them to live out miserable lives. Not to say I’ve got anything against Maine, but even the most die hard Maine fan has to admit, it’s desolate and down right scary in the winter.

The second thing I love about it is that it takes the story of Snow White and mixes it up. As the story progresses through the episodes, we are shown pieces from before the curse juxtaposed with scenes from post-curse. Think Lost, which, since Once Upon a Time was created by two of the writers from Lost, makes sense.

Reworking Fairy Tales

Reworked fairy tales, when they work, are wonderful. There is comfort in already knowing the main characters, but there is also an added interest in not knowing how the events will play out. And I’ve got to say, so far the reworking and expansion of this fairy tale is proving to be quite successful. I cannot wait to see more.


As a follow-up to my previous blog post, I am reimaging my blog for my intended book audience, YA dystopian fans. Before this decision, the blog was a bit of a mess, with zero consistency and no real targeted audience.

Why should you care?

If you do not like dystopian YA, you may no longer be interested in the blog content. If you do like dystopian YA, then this blog is for you. If you know anyone who likes dystopian ya, then you may want to recommend this blog. And if you have no clue what dystopian YA is, you just may learn something.

This change doesn’t mean that I won’t still share posts about my writing process or industry trends, but as much as possible, the blog will have a dystopian YA focus.

I hope you enjoy the changes. And for those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, stay tuned for my next blog post, The Dystopian Appeal.