Fixing the First Page Winner #39!

Photo credit: rjsteih on Flickr
Another month, another off-schedule post to announce the winner of the thirty-ninth fixing the first page feature giveaway!


And the thirty-ninth winner is…


Yay! Congratulations, Arden!

Thanks again to all you wonderful entrants! If you didn't win, as always, there'll be another fixing the first page giveaway in October, so as always, keep an eye out!

On Reading Many Books at Once

Photo credit: Dvortygirl on Flickr
I used to be the kind of reader who could only read one book at a time. I'd often binge read and get through a book quickly—especially if I was enjoying it, especially especially if I was enjoying it and eager to read another book—but one book at a time was a firm rule for me.

Then I started doing literature programs in college and I didn't have the luxury of sticking to my one book at a time rule.

Granted, I suppose I could have added all the pages I needed to read in a week (adding together the page counts of the books I needed to read) and then gone through one book at a time that way, but for some reason I've found it's less daunting to read 50 pages of one book and 30 pages of another book and 35 pages of yet another book than it is to read 115 pages of a single book. Which is silly, I know, because I'm reading 115 pages a day either way, but it doesn't feel like it as much as it would if I was reading that amount from a single book.

After I broke that rule initially years ago now, I started occasionally pleasure-reading multiple books at once, oftentimes because I'd get a book I was really excited about and couldn't wait to read so I'd dive into that one while still reading another one. It's not something I did often but...#noregrets.

The other thing book hopping allows me to do is get through books I'm not enjoying as much (a necessity, in literature programs because invariably there will be books I have to read I'm not really into) in bite-sized pieces. I'll tell myself, okay, I'll read 50 pages of this book I don't love first, then I'll get to read 65 pages of those other books I do like. 

Granted, reading several books at once means it takes me longer to finish all of them—but it evens out because I end up finishing a bunch of them within a couple days as I near the end of every book around the same time.

Moving to reading a bunch of books at once has actually been easier than I anticipated, although it's quickly becoming clear to me that pleasure reading is a thing that's probably going to be rare as long as I have three (or more) books in a week to read for school. But that's okay—I'm reading lots of books I probably wouldn't have otherwise—or at least wouldn't have so soon. And that's certainly not a bad thing.

Do you read multiple books at once? 

Twitter-sized bites:
Do you read multiple books at once? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)
You asked, I answered: what are the different types of editing and what is each helpful for? Today I'm talking the stages of editing and why each are equally important.
What are the 3 types of editing and why is each important? @Ava_Jae breaks it down in today's vlog. (Click to tweet)

How to Juggle Multiple Deadlines

Photo credit: The Lowry, Salford on Flickr
Writing deadlines are hard, and writing deadlines when you have more than one, and when writing deadlines aren't the only deadlines you have, and when writing isn't the only thing you do, is even harder.

I've been thinking a lot about that as I juggle my writing with my responsibilities, new and old.

Writing-wise, I currently have three projects I'm tossing around, two with deadlines (one self-imposed, one not), and a third that really wants my attention but has to sit and wait. On top of that are my freelance editing projects, my social media commitments, my part-time job, and grad school. And even before I've started doing all of those things at once—though I will have started by the time this publishes—I've already been thinking a lot about how to prioritize to make sure things get done.

For me, it starts with recognizing hard deadlines vs soft deadlines. Hard deadlines are deadlines I can't move—deadlines in contracts (both writing and freelance) or homework, for example. Hard deadlines I usually get plenty of advance notice on, so when I initially get them I sit down and do some math to figure out how much work I have to do every day in order to finish on time. And then I build in a few extra days, for days when things don't go as planned.

Conversely, soft deadlines are usually self-imposed deadlines. They're goalposts, rather than something someone else is waiting on—or, they're sometimes a hard deadline date with the wiggle room built in. So, if I've committed to finishing a project on the 31st, I'll usually math out so I finish on the 29th, so the 29th is my soft deadline that can be moved if needed, and the 31st is my hard deadline.

Once I've established all I need to do every day for each of my commitments, I prioritize within the day. My to-do list nowadays typically looks like this:
  • errands
  • writing/revision work
  • freelance work
  • grad school reading/work
  • social media work
Within my grad school reading, I like it split it up between boring reading and fun reading. The boring reading I try to get out of the way first, and then the fun reading I know I can spread out throughout the day, even up until my bedtime reading. Social media work often gets priority unless I can push it off a day without consequence—but I try not to do that too much because I usually have plenty to do the next day too. Freelance work and writing work I generally prioritize the most, because the later in the day it gets, the less energy I have to do it—but those two categories frequently have the most hard deadlines, so I have to get them done. Then errands of course get prioritized and scheduled by how urgent they are.

By splitting up my tasks into bite-sized pieces and prioritizing them from most important to least, it allows me to get high-priority items done even when I have a lot going on while leaving some flexibility for overflow tasks that I can get done on a catch up day. 

It's not a perfect system, but it definitely helps. And it's very necessary, for me at least, to keep track of all I need to do. 

Do you prioritize your daily tasks? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
How do you juggle multiple responsibilities with writing? @Ava_Jae shares a few tips. (Click to tweet

Fixing the First Page Giveaway #39!

Photo credit: Eldriva
We are somehow nearly halfway through September! Which means Fall is upon us and Halloween is creeping closer and it's time for the next Fixing the First Page giveaway! Yay!

For those who’ve missed before, the Fixing the First Page features is a public first 250 word critique. Using the lovely rafflecopter widget, anyone interested in winning a public (as in, featured in a post on this blog) first page critique can enter.

For an example of what this critique will look like, here's the last Fixing the First Page post.


  • ONLY the first 250 words will be critiqued (up to finishing the sentence). If you win and send me more, I will crop it myself. No exceptions.

  • ONLY the first page. I don’t want 250 random words from your manuscript, or from chapter 3. If you win the critique and send me anything other than the first 250 words of your manuscript, I will choose someone else.

  • I will actually critique it. Here. On the blog. I will say things as nicely as I can, but I do tend to be a little blunt. If you’re not sure you can handle a public critique, then you may want to take some time to think about it before you enter.

  • Genre restrictions. I'm most experienced with YA & NA, but I will still accept MG and Adult. HOWEVER. If your first page has any erotic content on it, I ask that you don’t enter. I want to be able to post the critique and the first 250 in its entirety without making anyone uncomfortable, and if you win and you enter a page with erotic content, I will choose someone else.

  • You must have your first page ready. Should you win, you need to be able to submit your first page within 48 hours of my contacting you to let you know you won. If 48 hours pass and I haven’t heard from you, again, I will choose someone else.

  • You’ll get the most out of this if it isn’t a first draft. Obviously, I have no way of knowing if you’re handing me a first draft (though I will probably suspect because it’s usually not that difficult to tell). I won’t refuse your page if it’s a first draft, but you should know that this critique will likely be of more use if you’ve already had your betas/CPs look over it. Why? Because if you don’t, the critique I give you will probably contain a lot of notes that your betas & CPs could have/would have told you.

  • There will not be a round 2 (unless you win again in a future contest). I hate to have to say this, but if you win a critique, it’s NOT an invitation to send me a bunch of your revisions. I wish I had the time available to be able to look at revisions, but sadly, I don’t. If you try to break this rule, I will nicely say no, and also remember to choose someone else should you win a second contest. Which would make me sad. :(

So that’s it! If you’re okay with all of the above and would like to enter to be the thirty-seventh public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget below. You have until Thursday, September 21 at 11:59 PM EST to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Vlog: How to Move Affordably with Lots of Books

Moving is expensive and moving when you have a lot of books, even more so. So today I'm sharing how I moved with over 100 books without breaking the bank. 


Have you ever moved with a sizable library? 

Twitter-sized bite:
Getting ready for a big move & not sure how to affordably transport your library? @Ava_Jae shares how they did it. (Click to tweet)

On College and Authoring

Photo credit: Sole Treadmill on Flickr
I frequently get questions from writers about what degree they should do if they want to be a published author, or what I learned from my schooling so far that helped me get published. And up until very recently, where I've started schooling specifically for writing children's books, the truth was my schooling was a thing I did alongside my writing, not something I did specifically to write.

Of course, my situation was not the same as many. I'd been writing all through high school and was largely self-taught. I devoured books on writing, blog posts from people in the industry, and wrote manuscript after manuscript. By the time I transferred over to my alma mater to get my BA in English, I already had an agent—and just two months into my BA degree I got my debut book deal.

So when people asked me up until recently if I went to school to be an author, it felt disingenuous to say yes. Because the truth was, my education hadn't really done much to make me a writer—I did that on my own.

Now things are a little different, however. Now I'm starting my MFA in Writing for Children, which is very much intended to further push me as a writer and also hopefully open up some doors for job opportunities down the road directly related to children's literature. But my main focus is very much to improve my skills and expand my writerly repertoire.

I do want to emphasize though: I didn't have to go to college to get published. No one does.

When I was first deciding what to do, college-wise, all the while knowing my ultimate goal was to become a published author, a degree became important to me not to help me write, but to help me get a job that'd allow me to support myself while I write. So I could've gotten a degree in just about anything, really, but after dipping my toes in the film world I decided I'd be happiest getting a job analogous to writing and children's books—even if not directly publishing-relating. That was the option I've decided was best for me, but that's not going to be the best option for everyone.

Some writers are also doctors, or analysts, or teachers, or fishers. Some are booksellers, or scientists, or nurses, or event planners. I think the main thing that's important when considering college is keeping your expectations grounded and understanding that making a living as a writer isn't easy and often takes a lot of time. So when considering college, I encourage writers to consider how they'd like to make a living outside of writing and then go from there.

Starting school specifically for writing will be a new experience for me—and one I'm looking forward to. But ultimately, for me, this was another step toward figuring out how to make a living in a way that I'd enjoy—and that requires openness and exploration I'm grateful to have the space for.

What do you think? 

Twitter-sized bite:
Do you need to go to college to get published? @Ava_Jae shares their experience getting published while at school. (Click to tweet
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