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What does it look like? From ‘no book’ to ‘finished book’?

A fellow writer and friend asked me this question:  “What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like?”  After years of writing my blog and interviewing other authors,  it seemed to be each featured author’s favorite question.  Having also completed  several novels  I’d like to add my two cents:

When writing my first novel, (Women Outside the Walls) I did not have a deadline and it probably would have really helped. I was my own deadline setter and that didn’t work out so well. On the other hand, I think having a publisher breathing down my neck would have stifled my creative flow.  When life got in the way I wouldn’t work on it for weeks but then I would get inspired and work on it for days, weeks, non-stop, sometimes 10-14 hours a day. So I guess it all evened out.  Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write for a few days….you’ll make up for it with better, more relaxed creative writing.

Because I inherently ‘rush’, I found that I had to watch-dog myself and be careful not to leave out important roads of the story. I was in early proofing of the final product of my novel and realized (in a countless re-read) that I had never described my female negotiator’s physical appearance. (Yikes!).  Again, (if the writer tends to rush) go back and re-read your work to see where you need to flesh out a chapter or a character.

I am not structured at all, if ‘structured’ means writing an outline, a story plot and character descriptions. I write a new project in my head for days, weeks and then when my brain is about to burst I begin putting it down on paper (or in my case, sitting at the keyboard). I also write out of sequence and I think that’s okay. My novel’s last chapter was completed months before the middle was written.

Some writers have actually written whole books while blogging; they found it less daunting by writing in segments. At the end they had a book and then they published.  If you need a deadline the days that you commit to writing a blog would serve.  For me this wouldn’t work;  I would feel too exposed having my rough draft out there for the world to see as I am a writer who slams it down the first time around and then edit, edit, delete, edit.  Did I mention that the lettering is worn off my ‘delete’ key?

Frequently I will begin a story that has inspired me, not knowing much about the subject. It has sometimes stopped me dead in my tracks while I researched (example: hostage negotiations for Women Outside the Walls).   I had 8 pages of a new play about Winston Churchill written and  had to stop to do research on his life during WW II. I find that it can be done while I am writing and that is what I prefer. It’s more fun and keeps me interested. I don’t think I would do well having my research all done before I put my story down. I find that the research itself inspires my story line.

And then there is that unseen, unheard phenomenon where, with any luck, the characters take over and you become the typist.  Your muse begins to tell you the story.  This has happened to me time and again, and while I resisted at first (being a control-freak) I now embrace and welcome it.  In Women Outside the Walls my character Alma, at sixteen, is abandoned by her promiscuous mother.  Alma is befriended by the ex-girl friend of the man Alma had a teen crush on.  They end up being room mates.  I could never have dreamed that one up;  but my characters got together and decided that this was what they would to do.books, authors, book stores, women writers,

I don’t think that there is a right or wrong way to go through the process. Each writer should be unique in how they work. Instead of thinking of it as a project/deadline ‘thing’; think of it as a work of art, created just for you and by you. Where possible, let the characters lead you. They will never steer you wrong!

well, there you have it…the process such as it is and how it works for me. (First posted January, 2013)
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Life…In a Nutshell

             Scent of Life  ©

Cool rain drumming on blistering asphalt,
the scent streams into nostrils.
Uncertain why it pleases.

Fresh popcorn drenched in butter,
childhood memories of
dark, musty movie houses when
Tom Mix raced across the screen.

Rich, peaty earth turned over under an autumn sky,
a primal sense of conclusion with the
larder full at harvest time.

Wrapped in strong arms, nose pressed to warm skin.
Drinking in the heat and smell of the man, your man,
beloved man, the partner in life.

Sweet puppy breath. Pure doggy conviction
that you will love him as much as he loves you.

Soft curls and sweet skin of the new babe,
powdery newness, innocence,
and trust.

Candles and incense in the great cathedral,
eons of faith, hope, belief and expectation.

Briny, sharp tang of a northern sea,
Balmy, yielding, salty essence under
the southern Cross.

Sultry air twines itself through the Vieux Carre.
Crushed sugar, wet pavement,
warm beer, praline sweet, heady grape.
Old water from a great river.

Metallic, bitter, smell of blood, be it from battle field,
hospital, butcher shop or birthing room.
Cloying In the nostrils, sticking in the throat.

Manure, pink sugary sweet, sawdust,
roasted peanuts, old canvas, the Big Top!
Childhood rushes back.

New trees, old petroleum, pine sol,
stale baloney, truck exhaust, tired clothes.
Drive on down the highway.

Quaking aspen, pitchy sap, crackling’ fire,
snowy air assaults the senses and warms
the heart.
The loon sings.

Available in Moths and Machetes, Book of Poetry
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

Interview with author, Don Bentley, writing for Tom Clancy (part 2)

Don’s flying days

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

DB. Writing a book on spec is incredibly intimidating, especially when you have no idea whether or not it’s going to sell. This combined with the fact that writing progress on a book can seem so incremental as compared to say a short story can make it really easy to procrastinate. After all, if no one’s clamoring for your book, and it takes forever to write, it’s easy to come up with a thousand better ways to spend your time. With that in mind, I’ve found it helpful to give myself a deadline and then make a plan to meet it. For me, that works best if I put my engineering skills to use by mapping out a word count strategy and then tracking it in excel. Every week I compare the word count I was supposed to hit with what I actually wrote, and I also plot the cumulative progress on a line graph so I have a visual representation of where I am versus where I’m supposed to be. I’ve found that the terror that accompanies knowing that you’re exactly 4,326 words behind schedule is a great anecdote for procrastination!

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

A. That’s a great question! I write more organically, so many of my secondary characters come out in the first draft when I get to a scene and realize that I need another character for one reason or another. Often times a character I think will only have a cameo ends up showing up again in later scenes. After I finish my first draft, I further flesh out my characters during revisions and this is when they become real. I think the treatment of secondary characters is one of the things that separates good writers from great ones. For instance, if you pick up a Daniel Silva book, you’ll find that he doesn’t have any “throw away” characters. Even if they only share the stage for a single scene, each one of his characters is elaborately and realistically drawn.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

A cold beer and a warm cat……

DB. I’ve been telling myself stories for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories were of listening to my mom read me a book, or watching a tv show or movie, and thinking how the story could have ended differently. When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I started writing what would now be known as “fan fiction” for Star Trek. Writing was always my favorite subject in school, and I attempted to write my first novel in high school. It didn’t go very far, and I think this was because like most amateur writers, I didn’t yet understand the a novel’s structure. I could write a scene, but figuring out what to do next confounded me. In my late twenties I finally got serious about writing and took some excellent online classes from Writer’s Digest. These gave me a foundational understanding that allowed me to finish my first novel sometime in my early thirties. This novel didn’t sell, and neither did the two that came after it, but each book that didn’t sell taught me something different about the writing process. I guess to answer your question, I never really felt inspired to write. The desire to tell stories is just part of who I am.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

DB. Secondary character usually come as I’m writing, but primary characters always come first ,even before the situation. New York Times Best Selling author Brad Taylor is one of my friends, and I pick his brain for writing advice every chance I get. He once told me that characters are what bring readers back from book to book, and I believe that’s true. You can have the most unique story idea in the world, but without a cast of characters that a reader enjoys enough to spend three hundred plus pages and hours of their lives getting to know, you won’t have a successful book. As I mentioned before, Daniel Silva does a superb job with characterization, so much so that reading his books feel like coming home. He’s one of the few authors that I will reread time and time again because I miss hanging out with the people he’s created. That’s how I want readers to feel about my books.

Did you miss part 1 of our Interview with Don?

Check out part 3 of this fascinating interview with Don Bentley, July 2nd
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Book Review ~~ The Iron Earl by KJ Jackson

reviews, authors, writing

 

1 out of 5 quills          ~~    BOOK REVIEW

My biggest complaint with this book was how shallow the story plot was. Pages and pages of how the heroine needed to escape. She was pretty much ‘one note’. Then pages and pages of how rage-filled the hero was. Boring. Mixed in were graphic sex scenes with little romance. The first time for this virgin was just this side of a rape. 
A missed opportunity for the author was to include a sub-plot exploring the relationship between Karta and Dommnel. Their story was interesting and a thread that was, sadly, not pulled by Jackson.
The villain is predictably the step-father until (handily in the last 30 pages) Evalyn discloses that she knows who her real father is and, conveniently, he is of aristocratic blood and owns land and she is his heir. This is sprung on the readers with no backstory of how she discovered her biological father. Sloppy writing. Sigh

The contents did not live up to the beautiful cover. 

Did you miss my Interview with Grace Burrowes?

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

The Jenny Colgan Month ~~ Author Extraordinaire!

TS. Jenny Colgan, a Scottish lass, has a unique voice as a writer….quirky, fresh and bright. She left university in the 90s and started working for the NHS in administration, whilst always loving comedy and working on ‘funny things’- cartooning, a bit of stand up (horrible and very nerve-wracking); sketch writings and so on. She went on to write my first novel, Amanda’s Wedding, as a comedy novel and she was surprised when it got published. She’s gone on to write around 35 novels…she says she’s lost count. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

JC. I work in coffee shops, or I did before the pandemic. I like the white noise, the sense of life happening all around you; I like that you can’t stay there too long or it’s rude, and I like that they bring you a sandwich. In fact I’m just about to head off to my nearest one, which has a stunning view of Edinburgh Castle and lets me take my dog in.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

JC. No I think that kind of thing can be very dangerous for writers, and certainly is for wannabe writers. You end up living in an isolation box, driven mad by the noise of your own fridge. Instead, be a soldier about it and learn how to work anywhere, the way they learn to go to sleep on command.  Aeroplanes are good places to work, trains are terrific.

Once when the children were little I took them to see Chicken Run in an otherwise empty cinema. I snuck up to the back row and worked on a manuscript there. It had rather more chickens in it than my agent was expecting, but otherwise it worked absolutely fine. If I turn up ten minutes to pick up the kids from school, I can get 500 words in if I have to. Momentum is very important to novelists, so clear anything that can hold you up, like thinking you need a special notebook or whatever.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

All written by Jenny

JC. I find writing quite easy, but I find playing the piano very difficult. I probably spend about as much time playing piano and worrying about it as I do thinking about my books.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

JC. Sometimes I like to sketch my characters to get a view for what they look like and what they’re doing. If I’m a bit stuck, I’ll start drawing. I also keep a file of pictures from actors, people in the news who look a bit like my characters in my head. Otherwise it’s straight to the keyboard, wordcount at the ready. I’ll write 2,500 in a sitting or 3000 divided into two sittings depending on where I am with deadlines.

Perfect son, perfect dog

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

JC. Yeah, about 11.30am I like to start. So I have time in the morning to drink coffee, read the internet, get the kids to school, walk the dogs and take some exercise, shower, practice my scales. I’ll work till about 2 ish depending on how the word count is going.

 

 

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

Join us, May 14th,  for Part 2 of this wonderful Interview

Watch for my reviews!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

Happy 9 year Anniversary, Writers’ World Blog!

May 7, 2012, I wrote my first posting for my new blog. I was very resistant, at first, stating that I wanted to do real writing, not waste my time on some silly little blog! 
Now nine years later, I realize that I have had a lot to write about. Most of it relevant, I hope. Faithfully, I have posted weekly without fail.  The jewel in my blogging crown is definitely my monthly interviews with other authors, some pretty famous best selling authors!

I used to have to ‘chase’ books to review. But I kept at it and now in the last few years ARCs (advance readers’ copy) arrive in the mail with a request that I review the new book. I can barely keep up with the demand but I try to read and review every book I receive. 

I would not have believed back in 2012 that I would have enough to say to fill nine years, every week. I’m not being immodest when I say that it has taken some creative thinking on my part to create different venues like author interviews. I’m careful to find (at least) something  good about any book that I review. My blog has remained positive and, I hope, a safe place for ALL writers. 

And to my supporters, (dare I say) fans, and subscribers, a GREAT BIG THANK YOU!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!     December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

Research Can Unearth Some Surprises!

Nazi codes in the hem of a dress?

After reading Susan Elia MacNeal’s Mr. Churchill’s Secretary I was inspired to write a short play about Winston Churchill and hisChurchills.Cat.BookCoverImage cat, Nelson.   Ms. MacNeal referred, in passing, to Mr. Churchill’s pets being allowed free rein to wander the war rooms at #10 Downing Street during Churchill’s time in office.  I could clearly see  the rotund, shambling figure of the Prime Minister with two pugs yapping at his heels while Admiral Nelson, the cat, sat high atop a side table. Silently observing his human and the general hysteria of the dogs.

Churchill was a master not only in crafting the English sentence but also in the coinage of words.  His tongue-in-cheek comment:  “A fanatic is one who won’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” is a favorite of mine.  In a World War I speech, (1914) Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty coined the phase ‘business as usual’.  Saying the maxim of the British people is “business as usual.”  Churchill gave the world the phrase: “Iron Curtain” in his speech in Missouri in 1946 when he said, “…..an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

Having grown up during the post-war years, I knew something of Mr. Churchill.  A historic figure that was a great statesman, orator and leader.  But I really knew nothing of the man.  And once again, (as I have mentioned before) I began a project and then started my research.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, (which I highly recommend) is fiction but based in fact.  Ms. MacNeal was fortunate enough to have several interviews with Churchill’s private secretary before her death.  The book is about a ‘typist’ who was relegated to a menial job because of her gender.  She was actually educated in mathematics and cryptology and could easily have fitted in with MI-Five (British CIA) but for her being a woman.  The novel’s heroine, Maggie, saves the Prime Minister from certain death by breaking a Nazi code.  And this brings me to the fashion advert that actually ran in the London Times and was full of Nazi messages.  All the stitching (around sleeves and hem) was Morse code for attacks at #10 Downing and St. Paul’s cathedral. 

“German spies hid secret messages in drawings of models wearing the latest fashions in an attempt to outwit Allied censors during World War Two, according to British security service files. Nazi agents relayed sensitive military information using the dots and dashes of Morse code incorporated in the drawings. They posted the letters to their handlers, hoping that counter-espionage experts would be fooled by the seemingly innocent pictures. But British secret service officials were aware of the ruse and issued censors with a code-breaking guide to intercept them.”  (actual advert from the London Times).

If not for my love of reading, my passion for writing, and the need for research, I would never have delved into Churchill’s life and his time in office. (my interests don’t generally take that path).  It’s an unexpected delight to learn more about this amazing statesman.  He was quirky, irritable, brilliant, and very funny.

And all because I had begun writing a short play about Mr. Churchill and his cat!  I love when that happens!!

(Originally published 2013)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

Fresh little nuggets…about writing!

writing, create, write, blog, authorsWrite 50 words; that’s a paragraph.

Write 400 words; that’s a page.

Write 300 pages; that’s a manuscript.

Write Every Day! That’s a habit.

Edit and rewrite; that’s how you get better.

Spread your writing for people to comment. That’s called feedback.

Don’t worry about rejection or publication; that’s being a writer.

When not writing, read. Read from writers better than you. Read and Perceive.
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(Courtesy of  Ajay Ohri. Bio: Ajay Ohri, Manager Data Science comes from a rich background in data science and technology and is passionate about consumer insights, research and strategy. Ajay has – created meaningful impact with data science projects by leading and mentoring data scientists. )

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!     December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

What Does It Look Like?…..From ‘no book’ to ‘finished book’?

write, create, writing, authors, blogRecently a fellow writer and friend asked me this question:  “What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like?”  

My first novel, Women Outside the Walls began as a full length play.  I used my play script my book outline/treatment.  As the scenario was so current (because it was a play), I found that flashbacks were a great way to flesh out each woman’s story and it served me well.

It took me a year and four months to write it, format it and edit it. That equals 72,000 words.

I did not have a deadline and it probably would have really helped. I was my own deadline setter and that didn’t work out so well. On the other hand, I think having a publisher breathing down my neck would have stifled my creative flow.  When life got in the way I wouldn’t work on it for weeks but then I would get inspired and work on it for days, weeks, non-stop, sometimes 10-14 hours a day. So I guess it all evened out.  Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write for a few days….you’ll make up for it with better, more relaxed creative writing.

Because I inherently ‘rush’, I found that I had to watch-dog myself and be careful not to leave out important roads of the story. I was in early proofing of the final product of my novel and realized (in a countless re-read) that I had never described my female negotiator’s physical appearance. (Yikes!).  Again, (if the writer tends to rush) go back and re-read your work to see where you need to flesh out a chapter or a character.

I am not structured at all. I write a new project in my head for days, weeks and then when my brain is about to burst I begin putting it down on paper. I also write out of sequence and I think that’s okay. My novel’s last chapter was completed months before the middle was written.

Some writers have actually written whole books while blogging; they found it less daunting by writing in segments. At the end they had a book.  If you need a deadline the days that you commit to writing a blog would serve.  For me this wouldn’t work;  I would feel too exposed having my rough draft out there for the world to see as I am a writer who slams it down the first time around and then edit, edit, delete, edit.  Did I mention that the lettering ‘D’ is worn off my ‘delete’ key?

Frequently I will begin a story that has inspired me, not knowing much about the subject. It has sometimes stopped me dead in my tracks while I researched (example: hostage negotiations).   I had 8 pages of a new play, about Winston Churchill, written and  had to stop to do research. I find that it can be done while I am writing and that is what I prefer. It’s more fun and keeps me interested. I don’t think I would do well having my research all done before I put my story down. I find that the research itself inspires my story line.

WRITE WITHOUT FEAR
EDIT WITHOUT MERCY

And then there is that unseen, unheard phenomenon where, with any luck, the characters take over and you become the typist.   This has happened to me time and again, and while I resisted at first (being a control-freak) I now embrace and welcome it.  In Women Outside the Walls my character Alma, at sixteen, is abandoned by her promiscuous mother.  Alma is befriended by the ex-girl friend of the man Alma had a teen crush on.  They end up being room mates.  I could never have dreamed that one up;  but my characters got together and decided that this was what they would to do.

I don’t think that there is a right or wrong way to go through the process. Each writer should be unique in how they work. Instead of thinking of it as a project/deadline ‘thing’; think of it as a work of art, created just for you and by you. Where possible, let the characters lead you. They will never steer you wrong!

well, there you have it…the process such as it is and how it works for me.   

(Originally published January, 2013.)

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!     December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Book Review~~Picnic in Someday Valley

reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing                                        
4 out of 5 quills   

Author, Jodi Thomas, never lets her readers down. This sequel to the Honey Creek series is a satisfying read, re-visiting Someday Valley and the strong characters that Jodi Thomas has drawn. Pecos and Brand being my favorites in this new one.  

The readers get to return to Honey Creek and Someday Valley, two small towns in Texas. While set in current times, there’s still a flavor of the old west and small town closeness and politics that you cannot escape from to this day.  The story is rich in twists and turns with vibrant, quirky characters.

I highly recommend it to my readers. 

Did you miss the wonderful interview we did with this author? 

Coming Soon! (Oct. 2021, Book 3 Honey Creek series)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!     December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!