You were right. -An open letter to my mother-

Dear Mom,

You were right.

The things I thought were so important in my teens, were completely forgotten by my mid-twenties.

You were right.

I am beautiful. And you weren’t saying it in that annoying, all mom’s think their kids are beautiful way. You meant it and it was something deeper. I am beautiful and it has nothing to do with my hair or my skin or the way a dress fits.

You were right.

Some things are wrong even if no one knows about it, because I’d know about it and that’s enough.

You were right.

Vegetables are amazing and I was missing out as a child.

 

But you were wrong about Buffy. That show is awesome.

Love, Cheryl

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From California to Sweden~What I miss and what I don’t

-Things I miss about California-

Halloween. It’s not really a thing in Sweden and I miss it. Growing up, we went to the pumpkin patch every year to pick out our own. My mom’s rule was that we could get any pumpkin we wanted, so long as we could carry it back on our own. I miss the haunted houses and adorable kids trying to remember what to say after getting up the nerve to ring the doorbell of a stranger.

Thunderstorms and downpours. I miss walking in it, garbage cans being swept down the street and getting soaked to the bone in a minute.

Cereal. I know that sounds silly. Of course, there’s cereal in Sweden but it’s healthy. They seem to think breakfast isn’t supposed to be dessert. Nonsense.

The smell of rain on hot asphalt.

Taco Bell. Don’t judge me.

Thanksgiving. Not actual Thanksgiving—just that week we get off from work/school. I miss that week…

Conversations with strangers. Yes, I’m one of those people that have a one-time interaction with someone in a line for coffee. It turns out that might be an American thing. Swedes look at me like I’m crazy sometimes if I try to talk to them in line. Even if I’m just giving them a compliment!

Target. It’s a recent infatuation but oh how I long for her. My desire is real, and it is red.

Roadside strawberries.

-Things I don’t miss about California-

The sun. I don’t tan, I just burn, and that’s hard living if you’re in California.

Apples that look perfect but taste like nothing. I’ll take the ugly little apples in Sweden any day.

It feels like all the cafes are Starbucks. Don’t get me wrong, I like Starbucks just fine, but Sweden is busting with privately owned cafes with their own bakeries and it’s amazing.

Public transportation. Outside big cities, it gets real sketchy real fast. Everyone has to have a car. My home town didn’t even always have sidewalks or crosswalks. You just had to get a ride to the other side or try making a run for it.

Did I mention the sun? I once burned my eyelids standing on a beach for five minutes talking to my aunt. Eyelids. Burned. Madness.

The spiders. Have you seen a wolf spider before? Google it if you want nightmares.

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2018

I’ve never  been particularly sentimental about New Years but I do love the opportunity to make lists and organize. It’s like each year is a drawer full of the things we did, thought, read, and experienced.

In 2017,

  • I published my first novel, Vanity in Dust
  • Did a bunch of writing and editing on other projects
  • Read piles of books
  • Wrote a scifi
  • Put together half a dozen Ikea things
  • Visited my family in California
  • Dyed my hair pink (admittedly, I did very little of the work, but I did sit still for a long time)
  • Visited New York for the first time ever
  • Went blonde
  • Turned 30

And what do I hope to put into the drawer of 2018?

  • Publish the second book in the Crowns & Ash series, Detox in Letters
  • Read all the books piled in my Amazon cart plus all the ones I run into this year
  • Figure out how to put screws in that concrete wall in my kitchen
  • Find an agent for my scifi series
  • Do a bunch of book giveaways!
  • Get pastel mermaid hair
  • Publish a horror
  • Write at least one more book

Wish me luck! And I hope all of your years get better and better.

The beautiful picture at the top is another amazing photo by Linn Arvidsson of Books and Knitting. Check out her webpage or add her on instagram if you like pretty book pictures in your feed.

/Cheryl

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Author Goals

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My firsts goals in writing were to finish my books and be published. I’ll never be done finishing books, because there’s always another one waiting to be written, but this year my first book was published.

So, what do the rest of my author goals look like at the moment?

See my book on a store shelf. I get excited whenever I see Vanity in Dust anywhere. I’m sure I’ll have a full on giggle fit when I see it on a store shelf.

Finish the Crowns & Ash series. I can’t wait to get to that ending! I have the second and third written and the fourth and fifth outlined.

Science Fiction! I want to publish a scifi series. Space ships, high tech adventure, pirates, maddening viruses and androids! I have the roughest rough draft of the first book waiting in line to be revised and I am so excited that I dream about it.

Fanfiction! It would be a real “achievement unlocked” moment for me if anyone was ever so interested and invested in one of my worlds that they would write a fanfic for it. And the stranger the better.

Write enough books that I can start doing hilarious dedications. I love funny dedications! But I have a list of people I want to sincerely dedicate books to that I should probably get through first.

Publish horror novels. I like writing scary books and would love to see some of those published too.

I’m sure there’s more but maybe that’s enough for right now. We’ll see how many more I come up with in another year.

-Cheryl

 

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Editing Tricks

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Editing Tricks aka Learning from my mistakes!

I like to think that editing Vanity in Dust has left me with a few new tricks and, if the universe is kind, taught me some things so that I might not make the same mistakes on the next manuscript.

I won’t go through my whole editing process here, just a few tricks I learned from substantive/line edits with my editor.

Among other issues, it turns out I have two major problems with my writing. I’m too wordy and passive. I feel like this is an eerily accurate breakdown of my personality problems, as well…

One of the ways I combed through my MS for passive issues was by using the find and replace function. This function is your friend! I searched for the word “seemed” and weeded out a bunch of those. A bunch. On the first search I found 146 in my MS. I easily brought that down to 34.

I also ran searches for the words: seem, as though, and imagined. Pretty much if I didn’t need it to make the sentence work, it was out. They end up being wishy-washy, noncommittal words that I use on reflex.

Another thing I needed to keep an eye on was how often characters woke up. This sounds dumb if you don’t think about it but if enough scenes start with someone waking up, it becomes noticeable and kinda lame. I started keeping a tally during one of my read throughs and if I could change it, I did.

Speech tags! I love to explain what everyone is doing all the time. It took a great editor to break me of that and really point out how it can slow up dialogue. Again, rule of thumb for everything, if I don’t need it or love it–I delete it.

Formatting!

I had a habit of clicking tab rather than setting indents before this process. Luckily, this was an easy fix. Again, the find and replace function was my best friend.

During one of the rounds of edits I realized I’d gone through at least 1/3 of the book without tracking my changes. My first thought when I realize I’ve done something like this is to buckle down and start fixing it by hand. In this case, that would have meant starting over. I had a mild meltdown before doing some desperate googling. Turns out you can merge docs and track the changes! Google is also your friend. 

Before going crazy and doing anything the hard way, check to see if there’s an easy way.

I’m sure I’ll learn new things with each book that goes through the rounds of edits and if anyone can learn from my mistakes, it’s worth writing about!

I’m currently knee-deep in revisions for the third book of the Crowns & Ash series and putting some of these tips to the test. Wish me luck!

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