Talking Turkey

I said I’d post a definition of RWA terms for authors, but in light of the fact that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I thought I’d take a break from controversy for a couple of days and post my tips and tricks for a great turkey while someone might benefit from them. It’s taken me years to hone my turkey cooking skillz, and I must say, after a decade plus, I think they’re pretty mad :).

So, here are the things I do that I believe lead to a juicy, delicious bird:

1. Brine that baby!

I only started brining a couple of years ago, but it makes (IMO) a huge difference in both the flavor and the moistness of the meat. The main thing about brining, though, is that most of the commercially packaged brines are way too salty, and even the recipes for homemade brines call for far too much salt for my taste. Last year, however, I adapted a recipe from my local newspaper and I really like the results. Here’s it is, with my adaptations:

3/4 cup Kosher salt
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
10 whole cloves
3 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 quart of apple juice
1 quart of water
1 cup of orange juice
Peel of one orange or tangerine
3 teaspoons dried thyme
3 teaspoons dried sage

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.

When the brine is cooled, put your turkey (fully defrosted) in a large, sturdy plastic bag. (You can buy brining bags at the grocery store, but they’re expensive. I find a clean plastic trash bag works just as well and is way cheaper…just double it if it doesn’t seem sturdy enough.) Pour the brine into the bag and close it up so that the entire turkey is submerged in the liquid. Place the entire thing in your refrigerator (if you have space; I never do) or use a cooler with plenty of ice to keep it cold while it soaks. I brine for 1 hour per pound of turkey. This year, I’m doing two 12-lbers, but that doesn’t mean I’ll double the time. I might brine slightly more than 12 hours, but not much.

2. Cheesecloth

This is a trick I learned from my mother, who learned it from the Joy of Cooking. Instead of using one of those turkey bags in an attempt to keep the breast meat from getting dry/overcooked, I soak cheesecloth in ice water, then drape it over the breast and wings. I then drizzle some drawn butter or olive oil over the cheesecloth to keep it moist until the first basting.

Throughout the cooking time, I rebaste over the cheesecloth about once every half hour with the pan drippings.

When you take out the turkey, the cheesecloth may stick a little to the skin (which will be a nice, crispy brown) and peel some away, but I can pretty much guarantee the breast meat won’t be dry (unless you REALLY overdo the cooking time; then all bets are off).

If you use either of these tips, let me know how it works out for you. Also, feel free to post your own tips and tricks. I seem to learn something new every year about how to make a better turkey, so I’m always looking for ideas :).

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Definition of RWA Terms (Publisher Edition)

In all the brouhaha surrounding the “delisting” by RWA of Harlequin Enterprises and Thomas Nelson as “eligible publishers” for associating themselves too closely with vanity presses, I’ve seen a lot of misinformation bandied about around the Internet, on blogs and on Twitter, about what, exactly, this means. In the interest of clearing up any confusion there may be about what publisher eligibility means and where the lines are, I’ll try to explain the difference between publisher eligibility and author eligibility for published status and/or the RITAs–they’re different things in the RWA universe–as well as why what RWA did in the case of HQE and Nelson affects both the publishers AND their authors.

In the interest of length, I’m going to tackle publisher terminology today, and talk about the author-related stuff tomorrow (unless a salient WTF Wednesday topic rears its head between now and then, lol).

A word of caution: I am only explaining definitions of terms and how they apply. I am not in any way claiming support for these definitions as currently written nor their outcomes.

1. “Eligible Publisher”

In the RWA world, the term “eligible publisher” means one that pays a minimum $1,000 advance for all the books it contracts from writers. Publishing houses that meet the eligibility criteria receive certain “perks” from RWA, including the opportunity to send staff to the national conference without paying the fee, conference space for book signings, the ability to hold a publisher Spotlight session, and the option to have editors take pitches from writers attending the conference.

There is nothing in the RWA guidelines for eligible publishers, however, that exclude authors who are published by houses NOT on the eligible list from being considered “published” under the guidelines of the PAN (Publisher Author Network) program nor does your book have to be published by an eligible publisher to be entered in the RITA contest. Despite this fact, I have seen the two equated time and time again this past week. It is just not true, and although writers who are not published by eligible houses may feel slighted for a variety of reasons, the complaint that only those with contracts with eligible publishers are treated as “real” authors doesn’t hold up to scrutiny because eligibility applies to what the PUBLISHING house gets from RWA, not what authors get.

2. Non-vanity/Non-subsidy Small Presses

In addition to the publishing houses that meet its criteria for eligibility, there are many, many publishing houses that RWA recognizes as non-vanity/non-subsidy presses. A sizable proportion of these are primarily digital publishing houses along with a few primarily print small presses. The key difference between these publishers and eligible publishers is that they either pay some advances that fail to clear the $1,000 threshhold or do not pay advances at all. In any case, however, these publisher DO pay authors for their work, either in the form of advances+royalties or royalties only. This distinguishes them from vanity/subsidy presses and authors who publish with such houses are neither automatically eligible nor automatically ineligible for either PAN membership or entry in the RITA.

What small presses can’t get from RWA is conference space or the opportunity to take pitches, and that’s simply because RWA feels the risk/return for authors from publishing with such houses isn’t sufficiently favorable to justify RWA lending its support to these houses acquiring works from its authors. Whether or not that’s an accurate assessment of the current state of digital and small press publishing is definitely open to debate, but given past debacles like Triskelion and vocal complaints that RWA didn’t do enough to warn its authors away from fly-by-night presses combined with the difficulty of discerning which presses ARE fly-by-night and which aren’t without using some concrete criteria (and the willingness of a publisher to stake a certain amount of money upfront to the author does represent a certain degree of stability), I think RWA’s position on this is, if not right, at least not ridiculous.

Note that there are probably many small presses that qualify as non-vanity/non-subsidy under RWA’s rules that are not on RWA’s list. That’s because RWA requests that publishers apply for inclusion on the list by submitting their boilerplate contract for review. RWA does this to ensure that the publisher doesn’t charge authors for any part of the production/distribution of their books. A few years ago, a number of epublishers actually changed their boilerplates to prevent themselves from being labeled as vanity/subsidy presses and therefore ensure their companies could appear on RWA’s small press list.

The difference between “eligible” and “small press” publishers, then, boils down to what perks the publishers can get from RWA, not the perks/recognition authors get from RWA. I truly feel this is an important distinction to make, and it can’t be made too often. The fact that your publisher is not eligible for conference freebies does not make you an invalid/illegitimate author. The fact that your publisher doesn’t appear on the RWA list of small presses doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate press, either–it only means it hasn’t bothered to submit the requisite information to RWA to be included (or perhaps doesn’t publish romance, in which case, why should it bother?).

I’m not saying that everything about this system of recognition is good or sensible. I am saying that authors taking/not taking validation from whether or not their publisher is “eligible” by RWA’s criteria is, to me, a little silly.

Now, as to HQE and Thomas Nelson:

These publishers were originally considered “eligible” because they paid the minimum $1k advance on every book they published. By choosing to begin referring rejected authors to Harlequin Horizons and Westbow respectively in their form letters, it became impossible to say that either publisher was offering a $1k advance on every book they published. If they had been referring these authors to presses that simply paid <$1k (such as Harlequin's new epublishing division, Carina Press), it's possible that they would have lost their "eligible" designation but would have still been considered small presses, with their authors still eligible for PAN status and their books still eligible for the RITA. However, they crossed the eligibility line farther than that by suggesting "pay-for-publication" models, which are never under any circumstances considered acceptable by RWA, and thus, neither publisher is on either the Eligible list or the Non-Vanity/Non-Subsidy Small Press. It's worth noting that at this point, RWA makes no distinction between vanity/subsidy publishing and true self-publishing (where the author acts a bit like a general contractor and subcontracts tasks like cover art, editing, etc. to third parties, but retains the right to all profits from the sale of the work). I don't think the two models are in any way equivalent, and I'd like to see the self-publishing model gain more credibility in the industry, if only because self-published free or very low cost stories are a great marketing tool for authors. I don't think publishing/RWA should frown on that to the degree they currently do. That said, vanity/subsidy publishing is almost always a bad deal for the author. It's hard to think of any justification for a publisher to steer rejected authors toward a publishing model that is so rarely in the author's best interests (and they'd never steer an author to true self-publishing, because they wouldn't make any money from it). Okay, I'm off to write my soon-to-be-self-published New Year's freebie. Please feel free to tell me in the interim all the ways I'm wrong :).

Musing on Monday: Bronzing My Rejection Letters

Or I would…if they weren’t all email correspondence these days :).

It goes almost without saying that rejection is one of the most difficult things authors have to endure. (The only thing harder is writing the darned book, lol.) Even published, “successful” authors get rejections from publishers. It’s the rarefied author indeed who never has to contemplate the possibility that a manuscript won’t pick up an offer of publication somewhere, sometime.

The last round of rejections I received was pretty crushing, honestly. It’s taken me a long time to get my writerly mojo back. Not because they were awful rejections suggesting I didn’t know how to write my way out of a paper bag (although a couple came remarkably close, lol) or even that they were just form letters saying thanks but no thanks. No, it was hard because, let’s face it, as an author, I have to believe my characters and my story are wonderful and worthy or I wouldn’t bother writing them in the first place. No one likes to be told the characters and story they love aren’t up to snuff.

But you know…I’m starting to change my mind. While I don’t think I’ll ever be happy to get a rejection letter, I’ve decided I’d prefer for them to tell me forthrightly that my book/writing isn’t good enough for them to invest their hard-earned cash in than say that and then suggest I invest my hard-earned cash instead. I’d rather get an honest “You’re not there yet with this book, but keep working,” than “maybe you’ll rise to the top through self-publishing and then we’ll see the error of our ways.”

There’s been a lot of talk the last few days about agents and editors and the gatekeeper function and how that might be keeping readers from getting books they really want. That may be true in a handful of cases. I’m sure there are books out there that get rejected by publishers that would be blockbusters if they’d just gotten a contract and appropriate backing. But those books are few and far between. And more to the point, just because there are books like that our there doesn’t mean MINE is necessarily the diamond that editors just can’t see through the rough. As a reader, there are still plenty of books that are published that aren’t my cup of tea, but without that gatekeeper function to vet books for some level of quality, I think there’d be far more sub-par books published, not thousands of overlooked diamonds.

The publisher is right when it rejects a manuscript that the book isn’t “right” for the publisher. That doesn’t have to mean the writing sucks or that it’s a bad book, just that there are a lot of books being published and this book doesn’t really make the cut in terms of fighting for readers and shelf space. I’m honestly okay with that…as long as you don’t tell me to turn around and claw for the shelf space on my own dime, especially when you know the likelihood of my finding that shelf space is slim to none.

Anyway, I just want to let all the editors at all the publishing houses out there know that I will henceforth treasure every rejection letter. I will hate being rejected just as much as ever, but I appreciate your honesty in evaluating my manuscripts and deciding they’re just not there yet. Because that just means I know next time, I have to try to write a better book.

Thursday Throwdown: How RWA Might Win the Battle, but Lose the War

By now, you’ve probably heard that RWA (Romance Writers of America) has pulled Harlequin Enterprises status as a recognized publisher as a result of its close ties to an entity known as Harlequin Horizons. I already explained in yesterday’s WTF Wednesday post what Harlequin Horizons is and how it’s tied to Harlequin proper, so I won’t belabor those points in this post. Instead, I want to talk about what pulling its recognition status means from the point of view of RWA and its members (and the future of both).

First, what does it mean that RWA no longer considers Harlequin a “recognized” publisher? Well, for Harlequin, it means they will no longer be able to sponsor events at the RWA National Conference. They cannot host a Publisher Spotlight session (which allows them to tell authors/agents at the conference what sorts of books they’re currently seeking, what programs they offer, etc.), and their editors cannot take pitches from conference attendees. Harlequin can still send its employees to the conference, but they will have to “pay their own freight” and they won’t get the visibility/cachet that holding a Spotlight and taking pitches provides.

It’s worth noting that this position is exactly the one that non-advance paying epubs and low-advance paying small presses are already in. Ellora’s Cave and Samhain and many other legitimate presses can’t do spotlights or take editor pitches because they don’t qualify, under RWA’s current rules, as “recognized” publishers. RWA’s rules specify that, to be recognized and permitted to do spotlights/editor pitches, the publisher must pay a minimum advance of $1,000 on every book they contract, and they must not ask the author to shoulder any of the costs of publication. By prominently featuring a vanity publishing option on their website and adding a line to their form rejection letters suggesting the Harlequin Horizons option as a route to publication, Harlequin effectively violated both of these criteria.

Now, it’s been argued by some folks that other publishers are engaged in similarly “rule-violating” practices and RWA hasn’t pulled their ticket, so this seems a bit like singling out Harlequin for special punishment. To some extent, that’s true. It is true that many other publishing houses own or are associated with vanity publishing arms. But if RWA has turned a blind to them, it’s likely because the publishing houses haven’t advertised those associations as blatantly or proudly as Harlequin seems to be doing. None of them, to my knowledge, suggest on their websites that authors seeking publication submit to their vanity publishing arm. And none of them, to my knowledge, recommend their vanity publishing company in their form rejection letters. That is how, IMO, Harlequin crossed the line and fell victim to RWA’s wrath while so far, other publishers have not.

This is not to say that other publishers are completely in the clear. Some of the practices are dubious at best, and it does seem to me that one publisher in particaly (I think it’s HarperCollins) has already violated the “minimum advance on every book” rule by establishing a line that specifically does not pay advances. Why/how did they get around RWA? I’m not sure, but I suspect that RWA took a wait and see approach because 1) it wasn’t sure whether the imprint would catch on at all and 2) there was no evidence that the regular HarperCollins imprints to which most of its members would be submitting would refer rejected manuscripts to the non-advance paying wing. It’s tricksy, I grant you, and more than a little questionable for RWA to continue considering them a recognized publisher, but I can see why they did it. The Harlequin case was a LOT more clear-cut, IMO.

Moreover, I think RWA was almost honor- and duty-bound to pull Harlequin’s recognition because it IS special. Harlequin is “the” romance publisher. It has been the RWA darling since the organization was formed. So when RWA has been saying for years things like “Money always flows to the author, not away,” and “Any agent/publisher that asks you to pay is a scam artist,” they cannot very well turn they other way when the premier publishers for their members (because it publishes more romances than anyone else) starts engaging in a practice which clearly violates the organization’s most dearly held precepts. Precepts which, frankly, I agree with.

I don’t necessarily agree with RWA’s stance on advances and I’d like to see that changed because I don’t think that’s the gold standard for good business practice in publishing anymore, but I cannot and will not argue that RWA should in any way endorse, support, or otherwise recommend a publisher that tries to get authors to pay for publication. Sure, authors can do that it they want to, and I would hope if they do, they understand exactly what they’re getting for their money, but RWA should not do anything which would have the effect of funneling its members in the direction of a publisher if that might lead to the publisher attempting to clean out the members’ pockets.

All of this is a very long way of saying I think RWA did the right thing here, and judging from what I’ve seen on Twitter and in the blogosphere, most of the RWA community agrees.

Buuuuut…and this is a big but, I don’t think, in the end, that Harlequin cares that it has lost its RWA recognition. I’m 99.9% sure that the honchos who made the decision to go into partnership with ASI and feature the Harlequin name and brand prominently in that effort KNEW they’d lose their recognition. And they did it anyway, because, in the final analysis, RWA’s stamp of approval was worth less to them than the potential revenue they can generate through Harlequin Horizons. (Incidentally, RWA isn’t the only writers’ organization that’s not happy about this. MWA is apparently threatening to pull Harlequin’s recognition status, too, although it’s giving them an opportutnity to comply before it boots them.)

Before I continue, I also want to explain that there’s a second level of publisher recognition, which has to do with whether RWA considers authors published by a house to be a) eligible to join PAN if they have earned a minimum from of $1,000 from a book, either in advance or royalty or a combination of both and b) whether their books are eligible to enter the RITA by virtue of being both in print and produced by a non-vanity/non-subsidy publisher. For this year, Harlequin authors will be allowed to enter because Harlequin’s status did not change until after the contest rules were established. But because RWA has classified Harlequin not only as “not recognized” in the way that Ellora’s Cave and Samhain or not, but has actually pulled their recognition because they are now a vanity/subsidy press, it’s quite possible that authors might NOT be able to enter Harlequin books in next year’s RITA, even if they aren’t published by the vanity/subsidy arm. (That would sure shake up the RITAs. All the categories for “category romances” would be eliminated.)

So, if Harlequin, the PREMIERE publisher of romance in the US (and probably the UK, what with Mills & Boon) doesn’t care about staying on the good side of the Romance Writers of America or about its authors’ eligibility to enter RWA’s premier published writing contest, what does it say about the future of RWA in general? Nothing good, obviously. As mentioned above, several other publishing houses have vanity arms, including Random House (Xlibris), HarperCollins (Authonomy), and Thomas Nelson (Westbow). Up to now, they haven’t been quite as overt in their efforts to sell aspiring authors on those options as Harlequin has been with this move, but if Harlequin can do it, lose their RWA recognition status, and NOTHING BAD HAPPENS TO THEM except that they don’t get to do things like Spotlights and editor pitches (which editors almost universally hate doing, anyway), believe me, they’ll ALL be doing it soon.

And that cannot bode well for RWA or its members, because if no publishers are eligible because they all engage in practices that look and smell unethical, how is the organization to help its members to discern the good guys from the bad guys? How is it to educate their members as to their best interests? How can it claim to lobby on behalf of its members’ interests if publishers don’t give a rat’s ass about complying?

The only way RWA or other writers organizations can affect publisher behavior is if their members start boycotting those publishers that don’t comply. In DROVES, to the point where the publisher can’t find enough good manuscripts to publish and keep their business going. But is it realistic to believe that romance authors, for whom Harlequin represents the single biggest chunk of the market for their books, will stop submitting to Harlequin because they’ve lost their recognition status and can’t enter the RITAs any more? My guess is that the answer to that is a big, fat no.

As disappointed as I am in this move by Harlequin, I’ll have to admit that I probably wouldn’t turn my nose up at a legitimate contract offer from them, because they are, all in all, a great publisher with excellent distribution, marketing, and reader loyalty. Yes, it might make me think twice, but in the end, what RWA thinks of my book or my publisher is less important to me than getting my book in the hands of readers. And Harlequin, with or without a tight link to a vanity publishing arm, is a force in that arena.

So, basically, I think RWA has won this battle, in the sense of doing the right thing under its longstanding policies and principles. Good for RWA. But in the end, it may well be that the war has already been lost.

WTF Wednesday: Bait and Switch

It’s a fact of life that vanity/subsidy presses exist. It’s also a fact of life that some authors, desperate to have their book in their hot little hands, will pay for publication. And in some cases, that’s the best decision the author could make, because the author’s goal isn’t to make a career out of writing.

Here are a couple of scenarios in which I think authors who self-published made a right decision:

1) The 80yo woman I met at an RWA chapter meeting who was hand-selling her vanity-published romance novel. Yeah, she could have gone through the traditional channels to try to get it published, but it was set in an odd time period/place for the traditional markets and, let’s face it, at her age, she’d probably be dead before it ever saw a bookshelf. She wanted to have her book published and she didn’t mind selling it herself. She knew what she was getting into, and she was pleased with the result because she had the right expectations.

2) My SIL wants to write a children’s book about her experiences growing up with a significant disability. This would be a hard sale in the traditional market AND the main reason she wants to do it is to gift the book to the hospital that did her surgeries pro bono. She’s not looking to make money from it, but looking to “give back” for something that was done for her. Given her desires and expectations, a vanity-publisher looks like the best/most likely option.

But now, along comes Harlequin with a new vanity publishing venture called Harlequin Horizons. If you haven’t already encountered the kerfuffle that’s ensued in Romancelandia over this, you haven’t been paying attention or your Internet has been down for a couple of days. The primary thread on the topic can be found over at Smart Bitches, so if you have a few hours to invest, feel free to hop on over there and read the 200+ comments.

I’m very troubled by this, but not because I think Harlequin might be diluting its brand or because there’s anything inherently wrong with a traditional publishing house holding an interest in a vanity publishing house. (Random House has a 49% share of Xlibris, and I see no issues with that.) It’s that Harlequin is playing a bait-and-switch on aspiring authors, and they are doing it in such a blatant fashion, as if they think it’s business as usual.

But it is NOT business as usual for reputable publishing houses to refer authors to their vanity publishing arm in their form rejection letters. Yet this is precisely what Harlequin is apparently planning to do.

Let’s be clear here…an agent who refers an author to a vanity house for publication and receives a cut of the profit if said author ends up publishing there is considered a sleaze. RWA will not recognize said agent as reputable and will not allow him/her to schedule pitches at conferences, etc.

And yet, this is EXACTLY what Harlequin is proposing to do–funnel rejected manuscripts to a vanity publisher from which it gets a cut of the profits. (It is worth noting here that Random House, while owning 49% of Xlibris, does NOT mention or recommend Xlibris in their rejection letters. Why not? Because it’s always been considered unethical to do so. And it should, in my never to be humble opinion, remain that way.)


And then, to add insult to injury, the Harlequin Horizons site makes a lot of vague promises about how publishing with it will help authors achieve their dreams of being picked up by Harlequin’s traditional publishing arm. It suggests Harlequin will be “mining” Horizons for bestsellers to bring them over into their traditional lines. This is akin to the NBA starting a “pay-to-play” league for basketball hopefuls and tell them they’ll be “scouting” this league for new stars and that said players will have a better shot at making the big time than those who go through the regular slush pile (i.e., colleges, where players who are actually good enough to go onto the NBA typically pick up scholarships AND an education). It’s flat-out deceptive, not because there’s NO chance that it will happen, but because the chances it will are as ridiculously tiny as that the next Michael Jordan would have to pay the NBA for an audition.

Now, I know there are plenty of people out there who subscribe to the “buyer beware” model and think that this is all just fine and dandy. Harlequin is in business to make money and this is just another avenue of revenue for them. It’s up to authors to know what they’re getting into and be savvy.

I agree with that to a large extent. I do think it’s up to authors to do their homework and understand what, exactly, they’re signing up for.

But by the same token, I am disappointed in Harlequin. I have always considered them to be one of the most reputable, honest, and author-focused houses out there. For years, their website has been a reliable source of information about the busines and the craft of writing, and they have helped so many authors achieve their dreams for real. To now see them now embrace a model that involves selling false ones (and at very high prices) makes me more than a little sick to my stomach.

So, please, Harlequin, invest in a vanity publisher if you must, but please, don’t weaken your reputation as one of the most ethical, author-friendly houses out there. I have loved you for so long for your commitment to doing the right thing by authors, both those you publish and those you reject. Please don’t change.

NaNo–Nah, No

Today marks the second day of November, which means it is day number two of that much-heralded event, NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month). If you’ve never heard of NaNo, I suspect you of having lived in a cave for the past 3-5 years or of not being in any way connected to the writer community. Because NaNo haunts the consciousness of writers everywhere, even those of us who don’t “play.”

Just in case you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo, let me explain the “rules” in brief. The idea is to start a fresh WIP on November 1 and to write 50,000 words by November 30th. If you write those 50,000 words, you’re a NaNo “winner.” If you don’t, well, I wouldn’t say you’re a loser, but you don’t get to call yourself a winner, either.

I know a lot of writers who swear by NaNo. It pushes them to set aside everything else and just pound on that WIP for a month. It forces them to turn off the nasty internal editor and write like the wind. And a fair number of folks have had amazing success with books they wrote for NaNo. Carrie Ryan, author of the much-celebrated YA novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, wrote that manuscript for NaNo in either 2006 or 2007. She “won” NaNo, then won a very nice contract with Delacorte Press and a movie deal (after, I have no doubt, my revising of the initial manuscript).

But for some of us, NaNo just doesn’t work. I’m one of those someones. I’ve tried a couple of times, but I’ve never managed to stick to it for more than a week or so. There are lots of reasons for that, not the least of which is that I am, by nature, a slow, plodding writer. A 25,000 word month is cooking for me! But there are other factors as well.

First of all, what lunatic decided November, of all months, should be the one we use to pound out 50k? Did they forget Thanksgiving in the US is in November, not to mention Black Friday? (I never, ever shop on Black Friday, but that doesn’t mean I forget its importance.) In addition to the three days to a week kids usually get off from school for Thanksgiving, there’s also the Veteran’s Day holiday, and (in my school district) the dreaded weeklong early dismissal for parent-teacher conferences. Seriously, even if I thought I had a prayer of generating 50k in a month, it would never be in November (just as it would never be in the summer months, during the Christmas holidays, or spring break). Also, as an aside, why not choose a month with 31 days rather than a measly 30?

For me, I think the perfect NaNo month, were I to choose one, would be May. It has 31 days, only one brief holiday (the three-day weekend for Memorial Day), and the kids are in school full-time. The weather’s nice, but not so nice you can’t bear to be indoors.

But even then, I doubt I’d really ever be able to commit to NaNo to the point of being a winner. In the final analysis, it’s just not set up for the way I write. And while I have nothing but respect and encouragement for those who do NaNo, and I hope they’re all winners. Meanwhile, I’ll keep plodding away on my WIP at my 1k-per-weekday-if-I’m-lucky pace and watch you all fly by me.