I Open at the Close: On Harry Potter and the Universal Experience of Death

It’s been a little over a month since my sister’s husband died. It feels like longer and not that long all at once.

He was diagnosed with bone cancer almost exactly two years ago and all our lives were turned upside down. It has been a roller coaster that steadily got worse and worse ever since. But what I want to talk to you about, and the part that has to do with writing, is what happened June 30.

That was the day we got the news that his bone cancer had metastasized to his lungs and there wasn’t much time left. We knew this was coming but it was still a shock, and I had to take my pain outside to walk around my neighborhood over and over and process it all.

And do you want to know what’s interesting? I’m a religious person. I find great comfort in scripture and prayer. But as I circled my block in the dark, the words that kept coming to me were not from scripture, but from the final Harry Potter book. “I open at the close.”

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Those are the words written on the golden snitch that Harry carries with him to face Voldemort and sacrifice himself.

I open at the close.

And those are the words I couldn’t get out of my brain.

Because as much as my brother-in-law’s death was a too painful and too soon ending, it was also a beginning. A beginning for him of an existence free of pain. A beginning of a new (if unwanted) chapter for my sister where she and my niece would face the world without him. The beginning of a new family for all of us, where we hold tight my sister and niece, lift them up, protect them.

I didn’t want the close. But it was not the end. Life would go on. There would be new beginnings.

I open at the close.

I raced home and pulled my copy of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS off the shelf. I flipped to the back and found the scene I was looking for. I walked with Harry away from Hogwarts. Away from life and friends who were family. I cried when he whispered, “I am going to die.”

Do you know how hard it is to say that? To admit it and face it? It takes an inordinate amount of bravery. I don’t think people actually understand this until they see someone have to do it.

I continued to weep as one by one, Harry’s family came with him, to walk him home. I thought of my brother-in-law’s mother and sister who had already passed. The ones who seemed to be visiting him in his dreams those last few days.

And then Harry asks, “Does it hurt?”

I don’t know J.K. Rowling’s life story. I don’t know if she has watched someone die. But this is word for word the question that plagued my brother-in-law. That plagued my sister and all of us. And when Harry spoke the words that were slowly choking all of us, I couldn’t contain my emotion.

How did she know? How did she know all the feelings and thoughts I was facing in that moment? The feelings and thoughts my brother in law was facing?

Over the next few days, we said goodbye to him. We stood in his room and watched and waited as he took his last few breaths. And when his chest stopped rising once and for all, I thought of Sirius falling through that veiled archway. Passing from one plane to the next. Just gone.

And again the words came.

I open at the close.

When the pain felt too much to handle. When the world seemed so incredibly unfair. When I was facing unspeakable emotional pain. It wasn’t scripture where I found that first initial comfort. It was books. It was characters who felt real to me. It was the insight of an author I’d never met. The humanity of a universal experience. One we will all have eventually.

And I’m not sure I realized how important books were until then. I’m not sure I fully understood what it is that we, as authors, are doing. How divine the work of creation truly is.

You are not just creating stories and made up worlds. You are forming a mirror and a rope that binds us, as humans, together. One that says, “You are seen and you are not alone.”

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Amanda Rawson Hill grew up in southwest Wyoming with a library right out her back gate, which accounts a lot for how she turned out. She now resides in central California where she is a gardener, chemist, homeschool mom, Yosemite explorer, and Disneyland enthusiast. She writes middle-grade fiction and is represented by Elizabeth Harding at Curtis Brown LTD.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of {too much} Solitude

I work at a university, which is another way of saying that I never had to leave school. At least I’m on the other side of the red pen, now. And I still get to have that school year mentality—the one where Christmas break, spring break, and summer vacation are the most wonderful times of the year.

Ah, summer vacation! I start looking forward to it in March (pretty much the day after spring break ends), because I am going to get SO MUCH done. When May rolls around, I think with awe about the months spanning uninterrupted before me. I make elaborate lists: write, work out, write, read, write, yard work, write, home improvement… I wake up early, excited to get started. Why can’t the entire year be like this?

And then, about mid-June, the novelty wears off. I start to get…bored. I sleep in later. Seven a.m. turns into seven-thirty turns into me barely cracking an eye when everyone leaves the house. The sad truth is, as much as I love my writing time, my mind starts to unravel when left to itself for too long.

As I’ve been doing this summer thing for awhile, I’ve developed some coping techniques. When the kids were younger, I was still at my wits’ end by August, but at least it was never dull. Then they started getting drivers’ licenses. The house got too quiet. My low spot was the summer a few years ago when pretty much my sole hobbies were playing Candy Crush and crying (yeah, I know—so many warning signs). After that, I took a good hard look at myself.

Writers, of necessity, spend a lot of time in their heads. We long for those quiet hours when it’s just us and the keyboard. But this isn’t a healthy place to stay for too long. These are some of the things I’ve learned that keep me functioning.

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  1. Take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. After my rock bottom summer, I started seeing a wonderful endocrinologist, who did some blood work and prescribed a medication for hypothyroidism that changed my life. It turns out that was what I needed to combat depression, but everyone is different. Don’t neglect yourself, and don’t downplay symptoms.
  2. Stay in touch with other writers. And not just through text on a computer screen. I have a writer friend I don’t see often, but we message each other every now and then and meet up for lunch. It’s incredibly invigorating to have even just that little bit of contact. Critique groups are wonderful for that, too. Also writing conferences.
  3. Join or start a critique group. I know I mentioned this already, but it’s important enough to repeat. A thriving critique group is hard work, but a go-to support group is a lifesaver. It’s also a source of accountability. I find it a lot easier to sit down at that keyboard when I know three other people are waiting for 5,000 words by Tuesday.
  4. Get some exercise. I am the world’s most reluctant athlete. I don’t get runner’s high—I get runner’s I-hate-this-I’m-so-miserable-and-why-is-it-so-damn-hot-(or-cold-or-windy)? Some might say I don’t run far enough (I’m looking at you, my marathon-running critique partners). My answer to that is…well, I won’t say it here. But even with as little as one yoga session and a couple of walk/jogs with the dogs every week, I find my body refreshed and my brain churning with new ideas.
  5. Hide the snacks. Getting rid of them is best, of course, but that’s too hardcore for me. I’m guilty of leaving treats in plain sight—right at this moment I’ve got a family pack of Reese’s Pieces, some strawberry peanut M&M’s, a bowl of tortilla chips, a box of candy left over from Christmas, and half a bag of chocolate Chex Mix on my kitchen counter. And that’s only what I can remember without going to look. Welcome to my sugar-addicted life. It’s only a few steps from my laptop to Chocolate Heaven—not nearly enough to count as exercise, more’s the pity. But out of sight, out of mind, and putting all that stuff away in a cupboard helps. And right after I finish this, I’m going to do just that.
  6. Train your family to be supportive. This one doesn’t always work. But if you’re fortunate, you may have someone in your life who will not only respect your writing time, but help pull you out of any writerly funks you may fall into.
  7. Learn something new. For awhile, I made a game of developing a new skill every summer. One year, I learned how to knit. Another, I took piano lessons. Last summer, I canned 36 jars of peaches from our tree. (For someone who hates to cook, that’s a huge accomplishment.) New hobbies keep me busy when the words don’t come, and hey, now my characters can talk semi-intelligently about knitting, pianos, and canning fruit. This summer’s goal? Dog agility training. Really.
  8. Or volunteer. Or otherwise become involved with something external and different. My family is usually supportive (see above), but my husband is occasionally guilty of uttering the words, “Since you’re not doing anything this summer, why don’t you…” But you know what? One day a week of working at his business has actually been good for me. For one thing, it resets my mind. After applying it to new and challenging problems, I return to my writing refreshed. Also, new skills: if your characters need intimate knowledge of state and private vehicle impounds in the state of Utah, I’m your guy. And it keeps me on a reasonable getting-out-of-bed schedule.
  9. Finally, have something to look forward to. For me, it’s road trips, days at the lake, and returning to my fulltime job in August. Ah, fall semester! I can’t wait.

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Kristina Starmer lives in Southern Utah with her husband, son, dog, and more cats than she likes to admit. When not working as a university chemistry lab manager, she can most likely be found rereading one of her favorite books. She is passionate about traveling to new places, ice cream with lots of mix-ins, and the peaches from her garden. Her favorite children’s book is The Owl and the Pussycat and her favorite element is copper. She writes renaissance-era historical fiction topped with a generous scoop of magic.

Focus

I have a slight (okay, huge) problem with staying focused on tasks that I don’t want to do. Sometimes it’s because I find a task boring–like housework. Or it’s repetitive, or I don’t see the point, or . . . I love it, and I find it interesting, and I want to do it, buuuuuuuut it’s hard.

Writing, you guys. Writing is hard. I love writing, but it’s hard. So hard. It is, I might even  go so far as to say, quite difficult.

Whenever I get stuck for words, or I’m not quite sure how I want to go about writing the next scene, that’s it, my brain’s like “this is HARD,” and I’m off clicking on social media, checking my texts, getting up to grab a snack I don’t need, etc. But I’ve been trying a few things to help with this problem, and I thought I’d share them with you in case you have a similar issue.

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1. Meditation

Meditation is basically just training your brain to focus, and you don’t have to do it for very long each day. I’ve been using an app called Headspace to help me out. It does require a subscription to be able to use all of it, but the Take-Ten (10 minute) beginner/training sessions are free. There are also other apps out there–a quick search in your app store will bring up many. But you don’t even need an app for the basics. Just find a quiet, comfortable spot (sitting, preferably, so you don’t get too relaxed and fall asleep) and focus on your breathing. Count your breaths in your head, if that helps. And whenever you notice that your mind is wandering (and it will), just gently acknowledge that and bring it back to focus on your breaths again. I try to do this before I sit down to write, and it really helps a lot.

2. Physical Activity

Again, it doesn’t take much. A brisk walk or some yoga, or even just dropping to the floor and doing a few pushups can help get the blood flowing to your brain and increase your ability to concentrate. I will often do some stretches or pushups between writing sprints.

3. Less Caffeine

Wait . . . WHAT?!

Yes, I know. I’m a writer. Don’t writer’s practically bleed caffeine? I used to, but I just can’t do it anymore. Too much caffeine sends my brain into hyper drive, and makes it more difficult for me to reign it in. I do need some in the morning, however, to jumpstart my day. so I’ve started making my morning cup with one scoop of caffeinated grounds, and one scoop of decaf. That combo is perfect for me. You might need to do some adjusting to figure out the right balance for you.

4. Set up a Permanent Writing Space

. . . and be consistent about writing there. I’ve had a writing desk set up for quite a while, actually, but the couch is so comfy, you know? And so, until recently, I rarely ever wrote at my desk, preferring my laptop, a cozy blanket, and my sofa. It’s no wonder writing often made me sleepy. As soon as I lost focus, I’d often opt for a nap (and no, this has nothing to do with the reduction in caffeine–couches just make me want to nap no matter what, so don’t even go there.) Not only that, but the living room is where we watch TV and play games, and mine’s connected to an open kitchen where I can see all the dishes that are piling up, not to mention mail and papers and . . . you see what I’m getting at? It’s distracting because it’s associated with many different things, and they’re all competing for my attention.  My writing desk, however, is tucked away in this weird little nook in the hallway that the builders thought needed to be there for some reason, and it’s away from the chaos of the rest of the house. Everything on and around my desk reminds me either of my writing, or the things that have inspired my writing (like my T.A.R.D.I.S. and my Mulder and Scully Pop figurines.) If I consistently choose to write at my desk, my brain will associate that spot with writing only. And so far, it’s working really well.

So those are the main things that have helped me focus and stay on task as a writer. I hope you find them helpful too, and if you happen to have any other tips, I’d love it if you’d share them in the comments.

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File Jan 15, 5 15 03 PM.jpegWhen she’s not writing, revising, or banging her head on the keyboard (it’s all the same, right?), Megan Paasch can be found playing her ukulele (badly), knitting (rarely anymore, unfortunately), or herding two amazing, but rowdy little boys (pretty much constantly) with her husband. A native to the Pacific Northwest, Megan earned her B.A. in History from the University of Washington. (Go Huskies!) Her favorite history subjects were, and still are, Women in History, the Tudors, and the Celts. You can read more about her here.

You Matter

“Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to­morrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.”
— Sylvia Plath

This post doesn’t bring me pleasure, but it’s one I should have written a while ago. There’s many reports that link creativity to mental health issues. Writers take the brunt of it with nearly 40% being linked to depression and bipolar disorder. With these numbers it’s easy to romanticize the craft and mental health disorders.

“If I don’t write to empty my mind , I go mad.” ­Lord Byron

Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe are but a handful of writers who suffered mental illness only to pay the ultimate price of suicide. It’s tragic and sudden. It’s something I struggle with, and may have passed down to my kids. As I’m writing this I’m about to go to a psychiatric hospital to see one of my kids.

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You don’t have to struggle with mental illness for your craft. It’s not worth it. Take care of yourself because you deserve it. Here are a few things that can help.

Don’t romanticize it.

I’ve had the thought a few times of ‘if I get help I’ll lose what makes me me.’ Your passion means nothing if you’re not here. You are more important than the ink in the pages.

There’s no shame in mental illness.

Nearly one in five American adults (18.2% of the population) have some sort of mental health problem. There are medications and treatments to help. You are not alone in your struggle.

Don’t believe that no one cares.

I do. We do. Plenty of people do.

Don’t keep it to yourself.

I’m guilty of this myself. It’s easy to create a mask you allow others to see. One that says everything is fine when you know that is not. Share what you are struggling with. Be open. Let someone help.

You are not a burden. You matter.

Don’t let a treatable illness win.

Call 1­-800-­273-­8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-­800-­273­TALK(8255) | suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

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Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

Recipes for Writers

Summer is coming to an end (sob!) and since many writers are parents and/or teachers too, life is about to get even busier. Who has time to make dinner? But on the other hand, who wants to alternate between pizza and cereal for weeks on end?

Never fear! We’ve compiled a list of recipes just for writers. Quick, easy, relatively healthy, and perfect for fueling your writing, these are some of our contributors’ actual favorites. Read on to find your perfect recipe based on where you are in your writing process!
Beta Reader Baked Ravioli (contributed by Tasha, adapted from this recipe)
For those times when feedback leaves you staring at the screen (insert weeping or giggling here as necessary) and suddenly it’s time for dinner.
Characters:
  • 1 bag frozen ravioli
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • shredded mozzarella cheese

Plot:
  • Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13” pan with a thin layer of marinara sauce, then cover that with a single layer of ravioli.
  • Cover the ravioli with another layer of sauce, then a layer of cheese. Then repeat: ravioli, sauce, cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 400 F for 30 minutes while you re-read feedback and alternate between weeping and giggling.
  • Remove foil and continue baking (and reading feedback) for 10-15 more minutes.

Resolution: A delicious dinner that looks more difficult than it is! Unlike writing, which often looks much easier than it actually is. This goes well with salad and bread, or a large helping of chocolate.
“Don’t Be Chicken” Taco Soup (contributed by Elaine, adapted from this recipe)
A recipe so easy you only need to be able to operate a slow cooker and a can opener, perfect for those days when you’ll need to spend 8+ hours with your finger hovering over the mouse, daring yourself to finally send your precious to your agent/editor/betas.
Characters:
  • 6 cans of stuff: 1 corn, 1 tomato sauce (small), 1 chili beans, 1 black beans, 2 diced tomatoes with green chilis (Note: We use mild everything because we are wimpy.)
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ packet taco seasoning
  • 3 chicken breasts

Plot:
  • Dump all this stuff into the crock pot, stir, and cook on low 5 hours while you obsess about your work.
  • Shred the chicken, then stir it back in and continue cooking 2 more hours; resume daring yourself to send and/or tweaking small details and/or pacing the room.

Resolution: Delicious dinner, especially when served with sour cream, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips. And the leftover are tasty enough to be tomorrow’s dinner, because you’ll be busy staring at your inbox!
Chapter Revision Chile Relleno (contributed by Helen, adapted from this recipe)
An easy casserole version of this Mexican dish for those days when you have to feed a mouthful but have a handful of revisions to conquer!
Characters:
  • 2 (10-oz) cans whole green chilies
  • 6-oz Monterey Jack cheese, cut into strips
  • 8 eggs
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Plot:
  • Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9×13″ dish with cooking spray.
  • Drain the green chilies, then stick a strip of cheese inside each chili. Place the stuffed chilies in the baking dish.
  • Whisk the eggs, milk, flour and baking powder together in a bowl until they’re smooth.
  • Pour egg mixture over chilies, then top with cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until the egg is puffy and the cheese is bubbly and you’ve revised at least one chapter, even though you know you’ll be coming back to it at least twelve more times.

Resolution: This one makes great leftovers for breakfast, just in case you’re revising all night…
Pardon my French Dip Crescents (contributed by Tasha, adapted from this recipe)
For when you have gaps in your story, underdeveloped characters screaming for your attention, and your family wants dinner at the same time.
Characters:
  • 2 packages crescent rolls, 8 count
  • 1 pound deli roast beef, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces Swiss or provolone cheese, cut in 16 equal sized pieces

Plot:
  • Unroll the crescent triangles, put a piece of meat and cheese (and a dab of horseradish, if you’re feeling zesty), then roll toward the point.
  • Repeat for all sixteen, then place finished rolls on a baking dish.
  • Bake at 375 F for 11-13 minutes, during which time you can make au jus or brainstorm a juicy new character or scene. It’s a win either way.

Resolution: Tasty and a total crowd pleaser. Just like your manuscript will be when you fix all these blasted problems. (WHEN! Not if. WHEN!)
Okay, readers. I’m still looking for more recipes! What are your go-to meals for those days when you’d just rather be writing?
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Elaine Vickers is the author of LIKE MAGIC (HarperCollins, 2016) and loves writing middle grade and chapter books when she’s not teaching college chemistry or hanging out with her fabulous family. She’s a member of SCBWI and represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of EMLA. You can find her at elainevickers.com on the web, @ElaineBVickers on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, or generally anywhere there are books and/or food for her consumption. 🙂

Take Care of Yourself!

Last Saturday, I ran a 50-mile relay with two of my siblings and two close friends. This does NOT mean that I ran 50 miles; I ran two five-mile legs of the relay with a couple of hours to relax in between. As I was reflecting on possible blog post topics for this week, I first thought of the relay as a metaphor for writing–I draft a manuscript, and at various points, I pass the baton to my critique partners or beta readers or agent or editor, and I can take a breath and a break while the manuscript still moves forward.

But then I realized that what I did last Saturday doesn’t just have to be a metaphor for writing. There are valuable, direct lessons from that race that influence all of us as writers, and the overall message is this:

Take care of yourself!

Here are some important aspects of that message, all of which probably seem obvious, but all of which writers have a particular temptation to ignore:

First, and most obviously, EXERCISE! This is extra important for me because I get grumpy when I don’t exercise, in much the same manner that I get grumpy when I go too long without writing time. Physical activity is valuable for all writers, whether this means walking, running, swimming, team sports, dance… Whatever gets your body moving will make you healthier and happier, which will clear your mind and improve your writing.

Second, EAT BETTER! I’m not advocating radical or extreme measures here, but again, you will feel better and think better and write better if the fuel you’re putting the right kind of fuel into your body, and the right amount. (Full disclosure: I eat junk food and drink soda almost every day. But I do make sure to eat more good stuff than bad stuff!)

Third, SLEEP! Our critique group has an ongoing (and hilarious!) Facebook conversation, and one of the things some of our members do sometimes is post the gibberish lines they typed when they fell asleep at the computer. Although they are loads of fun to read (“God only knows what the guardians would do to him if they ever found out about pigs…”), they do illustrate the principle that our best writing doesn’t happen when we’re overly fatigued.

Fourth, BE OUTSIDE IN THE SUNSHINE, BREATHING FRESH AIR! Enough said.

Fifth, SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU HAPPY! Whether you go to lunch with a friend, snuggle up with your kids, go on a date with your significant other, or gab in a car while asphyxiating yourselves with your own relay-induced BO, spending time with people who make you happy is an incredible boost, and one that even the most introverted writer needs on a regular basis.

After all those tips, here’s my final one: ALL THINGS IN MODERATION, INCLUDING MODERATION! There will be times when you sit at your computer, day and night, binge-scarfing chocolate and isolating yourself from the world. And that’s okay–sometimes that’s just what you need during or after your endurance is tested. Sometimes that’s how you take care of yourself, for a little while anyway.

Readers, we love you. So, one more time, take care of yourselves! Your writing will thank you.

What tips do you have for writers to take care of themselves? Which of the above are the most important to you? Which are the hardest and the easiest for you to live by?

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Elaine Vickers is the author of LOST AND FOUND (HarperCollins, 2016) and loves writing middle grade and chapter books when she’s not teaching college chemistry or hanging out with her fabulous family. She’s a member of SCBWI and represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of EMLA. You can find her at elainevickers.com on the web, @ElaineBVickers on Twitter, or generally anywhere there are books and/or food for her consumption. 🙂



Writers: Are You Remembering to Take Care of Your Health?

Writing isn’t easy. Writing requires a lot of extra time. Writing requires sacrifice.

How many of us have ever sacrificed sleep, diet, and exercise until we got that draft finished, or those revisions done, or those edits completed? *raises hand a million times.* The problem is when the list of sacrifices plus the list of things “to do” stack up. Sometimes they stack up so much that they topple over and crush us.

I’m guilty of putting my health second to writing. I used to rationalize my crazy writing schedule and crappy diet by saying that I would take a short hiatus when I finished my next book and finally work on those things then. But new projects developed, deadlines happened, collaborative projects demanded my attention, and that planned hiatus? That was three books ago.

I knew my life required change a little over a year ago when I started having health issues. Note that these aren’t necessarily as a result of writing, but they did coincide with the time of my life when I was writing on a rather maniacal schedule. It wasn’t until recently that I was forced to make some fairly drastic changes in my life, and I am amazed at how my major health issues have improved, how much more energy I have, and how overall less stressed I am.

I am NO expert, but these are some of the things that I’ve found have made a difference in my life (all of which were recommended by my physician). Even if you don’t require a major overhaul like I did, maybe they can help you too. At the very least, they’re worth thinking about.

1. Stock up on healthier snacks and beverages. Chocolate, diet soda, and sugary treats are staples for lots of writer friends of mine (believe me, I was guilty of chocolate. Lots of chocolate.) But sugar and sugar substitutes cause energy spikes and crashes and long-term use can wreak havoc on your health. At the very least, try to incorporate healthy snacks as part of your regimen. And while these aren’t for everyone, if you require daily caffeine boosts, coffee and green tea even have antioxidant properties (plus other recently discovered benefits that can even be in decaf versions!) My favorite writing snack: apples or carrots dipped in almond butter or guacamole. My favorite writing beverage: green tea with pomegranate

2. Take stretch breaks. Prolonged sitting dramatically increases chances for serious health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Recent studies show that even if you exercise regularly, the effects of that exercise will NOT counteract the damage done from sitting for long periods of time. The health risk goes down when you get up intermittently to take breaks. (Read one of the many recent articles on this here.) Get up and stretch in between short writing sprints. Or write at a standing desk. Or try working while sitting on an exercise ball instead of on a chair (It’s actually kind of fun!)

3. Reevaluate your sleep schedule. I used to force myself to stay up until past midnight to get writing done. I mean, hey — I worked all morning and was with kids all afternoon and evening, so late night was my time. I would often write until I was bleary-eyed, or sometimes even when I was half-asleep, and in the morning, would wake up to a bunch of crappy words and a lot of frustration AND I would still be tired. Over the last month, I have been going to bed earlier (sometimes ridiculously early) and waking up early enough to get in a good hour and sometimes two hours of writing before my kids got up for the day. Ultimately, you need to do whatever works best for you and your brain, but it’s always worth a second look. 🙂

What about you? Suggestions for a healthier writing snack or healthier writing habit?
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Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad, an avid fiction reader, with encouraging her to read ALL OF THE BOOKS on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. An author of both urban fantasy and contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of YA urban fantasies MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, THE ETERNAL (coming 2015) and NA contemporary romance LOSING ENOUGH. She is also one of the authors on the YA/NA crossover anthology LOSING IT.