This Summer’s Three Favorite Reads and What They Taught Me

Gaiman coverSeraphinaHolly Black

My three favorite reads this summer were The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, and The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

Neil, Rachel, and Holly, thank you – you not only captivated, thrilled, and entertained me with your wonderful stories but, by your example,  you proved to be wonderful writing teachers. Here’s what I learned.

Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
Omniscient POV
headshot neil gaiman
– Make sure there’s tension with very high stakes from the get-go.
– Cleverly reveal characters and events in ways that allow readers to put together clues and figure out for themselves what is happening, like an inside secret between author and reader.
– Do a little historical research then let your imagination soar.

Rachel Hartman – Seraphina
1st Person POV
headshot rachel hartman
– Know your world so well you don’t have to explain it. Start the story in a way that reveals your alternate world in all of its differentness without confusing the reader.
– Have a clear understanding of the desires and weaknesses of each of your characters, not just the main ones, so that each one shows growth by the end of the story.

Holly Black – The Darkest Part of the Forest
3rd Person POV
headshot holly black
– Set up the story in vivid detail, making the reader think they’re stepping into a normal teen world but then gradually revealing that this is not, in fact, a normal world at all. That kind of creeping revelation is so satisfying.
– Be a keen observer of human nature.

Rejection Letters – Save them or Trash Them?

b&w art by Steph-lol at

b&w art by Steph-lol –

Why save a rejection letter?
It’s an example of my tenacity! Evidence that somewhere in the world, someone has read my work.
But it’s a rejection letter, a generic one at that.
Rejection – dejection. The editor didn’t think your story was as amazing as you did.
A rejection letter is evidence of my ineptitude.
But some response is better than none at all. I’ll save it in a computer file.
Why? In saving a rejection letter, am I hanging onto something negative that might taint my writing in nearby files?

Or maybe…
I’m thinking about it too much.

On to writing the next piece, plotting the next novel, submitting the next story.
I’ll deal with what to do with rejection letters the next time I receive one.
I’m okay with that.
For now.

Progress, Reflection, and Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee singing

Peggy Lee was at her most beautiful when she sang.

When chanteuse-poet-businesswoman Peggy Lee was still just little Norma Delores Egstrom from Nowhere, North Dakota, she carried around a piece of paper on which she’d written: “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon . . . must inevitably come to pass.” She was maybe all of ten years old at the time. I’m much older, but that is also what I am doing: vividly imagining, ardently desiring, sincerely believing, and enthusiastically acting on my dream of being a successful published author of many bestselling novels.

This summer, while on break from my job as a music and language teacher, I’m throwing myself more into writing than ever, and I’m educating myself on how to break into the publishing world. In between bouts of plotting and writing novels and short stories, I’m “attending” Google University in earnest, blogging, tweeting, and happily connecting with other aspiring writers. I also purchased a Duotrope subscription to more easily find markets and track short story submissions, and I’ve been researching literary agents.

When I feel defeated, frustrated, worried, nervous, or especially when I compare myself unfavorably with great writers, I tell myself that there are all kinds of books, all kinds of writing, all kinds of writers, and I’m writing, writing, writing to improve and move myself forward.

Since starting summer break in late July, I’m proud to report that I’ve gotten a lot done. I wasn’t sure if I should include all this navel-gazing in my blog, but here goes.

  • Completed fourth draft of YA fantasy novel and sent to freelance editor for developmental editing suggestions. This was big, people; SO many hours went into completing that fourth draft.
  • Half finished researching and plotting new YA time travel novel, Firefly. 4,000 words written. Super excited to write this because it’s my first time travel story, but I’m nervous because I think it’s going to take me to some emotionally dark places (but in a good way?).
  • Recently submitted two short stories, Tilly of Lurra and The Girl I Choose to Write About, to print publications. I started with the most prestigious literary magazines, where competition is the stiffest, so I’ll let you know if I hear anything back.
  • Researched numerous literary agents, narrowing down to top 20, including three dream agents.
  • Thanks to shark/agent Janet Reid’s blog, I tried my hand at a couple of flash fiction pieces, one of which got an honorable mention in her blog.
  • Completed rough draft of a new short story, tentatively titled August Days, for eventual submission to “On the Premises” contest.
  • Outlined a new short story, We Were Vaudeville, to be submitted to Brilliant Flash Fiction Magazine.
  • Coming up: three short stories I wrote during last school year, Thorns, Hi-Fi in Eastern Kentucky, and 17 You-Me Reality Planes, will need a couple more revisions (and probably new titles – I’m titling impaired, unfortunately) before they’re ready to ship out to short story markets.

If you’ve read this far, thank you! I really appreciate being able to share my progress with you.


Writer, How Do You Reward Yourself?

Closeup image of notepad with pen.

In the amorphous, potentially unstructured existence of a writer, it can be easy to fetter away precious writing time with distractions around the house, catching up on our favorite literary agents’ tweets, researching story tidbits, getting our slippers on just right, you name it. Before you know it, writing time vanishes and it’s time to interact with humanity, do chores, earn a paycheck, whatever.

Enter: goal-setting.  Setting goals, and rewarding myself when I achieve them, has made me a much more productive writer. Goal-setting certainly isn’t a new idea — tons of prolific authors do it. Crime thriller novelist Elmore Leonard wouldn’t allow himself a cup of morning coffee until he’d put in an hour of writing. That’s dedication. ::sip::


Having a prioritized list of writing goals on hand really helps keep you focused. Some examples from my writing to-do list include:

[ ] write next two chapters of WIP

[ ] spend 30 minutes outlining next book

[ ] edit new draft of short story


Along the way, as you accomplish your writing goals, it’s important to reward yourself. This, I think, is the part a lot of people overlook. Here are some examples of rewards I give myself.  I’m always on the lookout for new ones, so if you’ve got good suggestions for rewards that cost little to no money, please post in the comments.

  • green pens – I don’t really have writing superstitions or inclinations other than this:  I love editing in green ink.
  • small notebooks for jotting down story ideas where cell phones aren’t convenient or allowed.
  • online subscriptions to sites like Duotrope and QueryTracker
  • allowing myself to spend time on social media, blogs, author sites, etc.

I hope this helps you in some way. Happy writing!

10 Favorite Questions for Writers and Readers

Still life with pomegranrte and tea

Literature lovers, come on in and try your hand at answering any or all of these fun questions about writing and reading. Here’s a cup of tea to sip on while you consider your answers. (Your favorite kind of tea? What a coincidence.)

1. What’s your favorite book cover?

2. Do you read books more than once? Which ones?

3. What’s the scariest thing about writing?

4. What is the most amazing thing about writing?

5. Where is your favorite place to write? To read?

6. When’s your best time of day to write? Why?

7. What are some of your favorite words?

8. What’s one thing that would tell you you’ve “made it” as a writer?

9. In terms of writing or reading, what’s the best thing anyone could say to you right now?

10. Insert your own question here and then please answer it (because I couldn’t think of a tenth question).

11. Have you ever been published? Where? (I did come up with a tenth question, oh well.)

Three Books. Which Should I Read First?

Three Books - Which One First

My first mistake was to get, not one, not two, but three delicious novels all on the same day.  Each has exactly the kind of lyrical, sweep-me-off-my-feet writing I’m in the mood for. Each features a fabulous opening passage and is highly recommended.

Now for my quandary:  Which novel do I read first? Fellow bibliophiles, you haven’t steered me wrong yet.  The nominees for first book to read are:

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Though I’m not usually a reader of werewolf stories, Stiefvater’s artsy tweets tipped me over the edge.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – I’ve read so many fabulous reviews of this book, just had to get it.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – Can you believe I’ve never read a Margaret Atwood book? Not even the Handmaiden’s Tale. It was time.

Blogger Recognition Award!

Must stop fanning myself with my hands and use them to type now because, my, my, (sounds more like “mah, mah” since I’m speaking Scarlett O’Hara-style) I’ve received a Blogger Recognition Award from the lovely Rae of Bookmark Chronicles. Thank you, Rae! If you enjoy bright, insightful book/TV show/movie reviews that make you feel like you’re chatting with a smart friend, check out Rae’s blog.

blogger recognition

Blogger Recognition Award Rules

  • Tell the world why you started blogging
  • Give advice/tips to new bloggers
  • Share the picture above
  • Nominate other blogs and let them know how awesome you think they are.
  • Share the link to Edge of Night for the original post.


Why I Blog

If this makes any sense at all, my writing dream feels so much bigger than the small life I live that, for fear of diminishing the dream, I tend not to discuss my writing with friends and family. However, I DO feel comfortable sharing about my awesome, scary, exciting, joyful experiences writing for publication with folks in the blogosphere because they are safe, and they get me. 😉 Which brings me to my next point.

Advice/Tips to New Bloggers

100% be yourself. Read lots of other people’s blogs and be brave about leaving comments, even if they seem lame. Don’t worry that people will judge the crazy, silly, way-too-honest things you write. By blogging honestly, you will find the people who “get” you.

And now – drum roll, please – announcing Eve Messenger’s new Blogger Recognition Award winners!

Book Snacks – A mecca of great fantasy book reviews, plus Heidi seems like a really nice person.

The Book Minder – Happily stumbled upon this book blog and recently enjoyed a fun back-and-forth comment conversation with its author, the kind and funny Anaya De.

Writing Considered – Catherine C. Mead-Brower’s blog is a must-visit for anyone trying to making her way through the writing and publishing world.

Agnes Jasinksa – When Agnes writes about topics like enhancement and mind manipulation, it really gets you thinking. She’s so smart!

Angel-Lithium – steampunk writer and commenter extraordinaire

7 Things About Me

Many thanks to Glitter Aficianado for awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award!

Blogger Award - Versatile

There are three simple rules for this award.

  • Link back to the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  • Post seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate some other bloggers of your own!*

7 Facts about Me, Eve Messenger

  1. Possums do not play possum around me, opting instead to morph into hissing, fanged, razor-clawed creatures with snakelike tails. Thus, I do not like possums.
  2. I am half Japanese incognito.
  3. On the rare occasions that I’ve called radio stations to request a song, they put me live on the air. This has happened to me six times in my life.
  4. The book series I was most obsessed with as a child was Fairytales from Around the World.
  5. I’ve always wanted to pilot a helicopter but have never ridden in one.
  6. I dream of going to Europe.
  7. It took me 90 minutes to figure out how to post this . Linking is now my b*tch.

Bloggers I Nominate . . .

I agree with Glitter Aficianado that nominating 15 bloggers seems to diminish the prize somewhat, so here is my much more selective list of bloggers who, in my not so humble opinion, deserve a Versatile Blogger Award for making the blogosphere shine.

Josie’s Book Corner  – My favorite place in the blogosphere.

Crohn’s and the Real Girl – Each and every brilliant story is a joy to read.

illustr8d – Super intelligent blogger who makes me feel less alone in the blogosphere by commenting even when no one else does.

A Simple Life – because she’s the best kind of nonconformist cool.

familyrulesbyplainjane – For the kindness and imagination that shine through her every post.