Nancy: The Big Reveal: Name Change

Hundreds of years ago, Shakespeare’s Romeo told Juliet, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, roses and amorous suitors aside, turns out there is something to a name, especially when it comes to a writing career. Some weeks ago, I went on a quest determine the best name(s) forward for my planned multi-genre writing career.

For as long as those of you reading the blog have known me, I’ve been Nancy Hunter because that’s the name I chose a decade ago (!!!) when I had a book come out with a publisher. At the time, I worked in a very intense and Very Serious career, and needed to keep some daylight between it and my writing life. This was not a deep cover pen name, as co-workers with appropriate googling skills would occasionally uncover my ‘secret identity’. And HR departments always knew it, because I had to claim my intellectual property (IP) at the outset, lest the corporations employing me try to claim writing created on my own time as theirs. (Gotta love corporate America: for the price of your salary, they claim the right to monetize everything you say, do, think, and feel every minute of every day, please and thank you.)

Lo these many years later, I’ve left that corporate world. I swear! Girl Scout’s honor (yes, I was actually a Girl Scout, so you can trust me). And in addition to the freedom to make my own schedule and write whenever and where ever and whatever I see fit, I also now have the freedom to use my very own legal name. If I so choose… Continue reading

Nancy: June Accountability Thread

It’s officially June, unofficially summertime, and nearly the midpoint of 2018. Unbelievable, right? While I’m trying to figure out where the hell May went, let’s take a look at all the great things we did this past month and set some new goals (or update some old ones) for the new month.

One of the things I’m trying to do more often this year is appreciate the non-writing parts of my life so I can reintroduce some balance into my world. In May, I visited out-of-state relatives, saw a fantastic opera at the Kennedy Center with my favorite (and coincidentally only) daughter, tried some new kinds of Scotch, and hopped a plane to Boston and then drove into the wilds of Massachusetts to meet up with other writers in person. (In fact, I’m writing this blog post on the plane ride home!) Although that last one was a writers’ retreat and therefore writing related, it also included talking about life stuff, making s’mores around a campfire, and dogs – Maya and Dustin, our unofficial retreat mascots. Continue reading

Nancy: Summer is for Lovers (of Books)

Here in the US, the three-day Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff of the summer season. Yes, the official first day of summer is nearly a month away, but in most of the country, temperatures are already rising, vacations are on the calendar, and list upon list of summer reading recommendations are splashed across newspapers, magazines, and various and sundry corners of the internet.

Most of us here on the blog are avid, year-round readers, so we hardly need an excuse to pick up more books. But it is fun to check out curated lists and find some books that are hot and trending, cool and refreshing, or just downright emotionally satisfying. This weekend, in between family cookouts and sipping mango margaritas, I came across some lists that have put me into a book-buying frenzy. The side effect of this is, of course, that a reading frenzy will soon ensue. #readerproblems Continue reading

Nancy: Damn Fine Story Advice: Story Stakes

If you hang out with writers long enough, observe them in their natural habitat, and learn what keeps them up at night, at some point you’re bound to hear a discussion about what writers like/are able/can bring themselves to read when they’re deeply immersed in their own stories. Books inside their writing genre? Outside the genre? No books at all during certain stages o the process?

These days, I’m rarely ‘not writing’ (not to be confused with procrastinating – that I do aplenty!), so a writing-driven reading moratorium won’t work for me. But I tend to read like I write: a little bit of everything and more than story at a time. Lately, I’ve been drawn to non-fiction. Per usual, I’m geeking out on science-for-non-scientists books. But this weekend I put down Stephen Hawking and picked up some Chuck Wendig (with no segue, rhyme, or reason because my mind is a mysterious, scary, mess of a place).

If you’re not familiar with Wendig, you really must check out his blog, where he generously doles out  amazing advice, life observations, movie reviews, and the occasional recipe (although I am not going to try this one). For a more distilled collection of his story-specific guidance, I highly recommend Damn Fine StoryIt made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me…Okay, what it actually did was make me think, but don’t let that scare you away from it – it’s thinking in a fun way! As with all writing advice, he implores his readers to take what they need and leave the rest for another time, place, or writer. And this weekend, what I needed was a deep, thorough look at story stakes. Continue reading

Nancy: May Accountability Thread

All right guys, gals, writers, other creatives, and readers who like to play along at home, it’s time for our monthly accountability thread! In my part of the world, April brought crazy weather, kicking off the month with snow and ending it with record-high temperatures. The month included hosting a fun birthday dinner and next-day brunch for one of my favorite people in the world (my daughter), and hosting a lunch for another favorite person, the lady who introduced me to reading and a love of books (my mother). I also got to engage with some good friends/fellow writers ‘in the wild’, via phone, Skype, and even in person.

That was all great stuff, but I also had a lot of writing projects and a few well-defined goals set for April. As you might recall, I hit a bit of mid-month turbulence in my writing life. Fortunately, I still managed to make some progress toward my goals.

April Goals with Outcomes

1) Get back to work on my Women’s Fiction project. Continue reading

Nancy: Story at the Speed of Light

We live in the age of speed. Everything needs to be fast, from the cup of coffee we get from the drive-through window, to the loading of our favorite websites, to our response time to every email, text message, and social media ping. As technology accelerates, it drags the microprocessors inside our skulls with it, conditioning us to think faster is always better. It’s no wonder we’ve come to expect our stories to move fast as well.

Don’t want to sit on pins and needles through commercials to find out what will happen next on your favorite show? Record it and fast-forward right through those suckers. Don’t want to wait week after week for a TV series to reach its conclusion? Watch something else while you wait for all the episodes to become available (or are dropped at once on streaming services) and binge-watch to your heart’s content. Our brains adapt very quickly to the rewards of story NOW, as services like Amazon and Netflix well know. It’s no accident that the next episode in a series starts playing on your TV within seconds of the end of the installment you just watched.

Which brings us to the favorite story delivery system of many of us on this blog: books. Continue reading

Nancy: There Is No Light Without the Darkness

A few weeks ago, I went through a rough patch in my writing life. More accurately, I started going through the rough patch, because I haven’t yet climbed completely out of that hole of writerly despair. At least now I’m close enough to the surface to catch a glimpse of sunlight filtering down from above me.

There were reasons I fell into the hole, of course. I had too many deadlines on multiple projects converging at once. I was running a low-grade fever (precursor to a virus that towered a whole weekend and then some). I came to the realization that I couldn’t stay on course for meeting my publishing deadlines and at the same time attend an amazing writers’ conference being held in paradise this coming fall. I bailed on paradise because it was the right thing to do, but sometimes the right think sucks.

But there were deeper reasons, too. Poking a stick into a story idea that’s not baked enough yet. Coming to the point in one of my stories where I realized it’s all complete drivel (this happens at several points per story for me; YMMV). Falling into the pit of despair known as imposter syndrome. I knew talking to someone would help, but I wasn’t ready to share with other writers (which makes up about 90% of my circle of friends and acquaintances IRL) for fear of hearing well-meaning advice or platitudes, neither of which would have worked for me in that particular state. In fairness, my wonderful friends who also happen to be writers would have known not to do that, but I was stuck down in that hole, not seeing things all that clearly.

Which left me with the small number of non-writers in my life, and led to the realization that not only did I not want to discuss the trials and tribulations of the writing life with them in that moment, I didn’t want to discuss those harsh realities with them ever. I really had to ponder my own reaction. These are good eggs, kind people, of the loving and caring sort. Why did I recoil from sharing these truths with them? Maybe I was afraid – to paraphrase Col. Jessup from A Few Good Men – they couldn’t handle the truth, because most conversations with non-writers that touch on writing reveal a lot of misunderstanding about what it means to pursue the writing life. Continue reading