N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie


Well, we knew it was coming.
Hopeless wins out.

I wish I could say I’m taking it in stride, but I’m not. In all honesty, I don’t think anyone takes rejection well. No one. It doesn’t feel good.

I don’t feel good.

BUT I’m not letting this stop me. I’m only acknowledging that it exists, because I want other strugglers out there to know that it is NOT unacceptable to feel this way…to say a private little f you to the entity that rejected you.

Tell yourself they don’t know what they turned down…tell yourself they are going to be crying in their beer when you are famous…and then go out there and submit that story again. And if they reject it, just keep going.

This isn’t a race the hare can win…you’ve got to be a turtle, slow and steady and don’t let anything get you down!!!

Chin up, hopeless optimistic (just like me)…we can do this!

Peace and pee on them they don’t know what they passed up,

Trip withdrawl and typing woes…

I think…ok, I know I am having trip withdrawal. My house has been on the road (off and on) since early December, Pennsylvania…Missouri…Louisiana…and all the states in between (not to mention our jaunts to Virginia) and while I’m happy to be home I sort of feel like I’ve got nothing to look forward to.

Now I KNOW, this isn’t the truth. I KNOW that Day and I will be running off somewhere fun and unusual soon enough, but without anything really on the schedule for anytime soon I’m feeling let down.

Let’s make no bones about the fact that living in D.C. you NEED time off to recharge. We get up at the same time as the Mid-West and go an hour later before we get our news at night…factor in all the traffic that makes getting ANYWHERE around here a 20 minute jaunt, and the fact that your friends while only across town may well be an hour away, and the sheer amount of things available to do in any given day/week/month and you’ll see why people who live up here never use their kitchens and are always exhausted. Getting away from this place takes away all the “MUST DO” imperatives…it pulls all the “I HAVEN’T GOT TIME” excuses out of your hands and let you just sit.

I think I need time to just sit…not sit and think how awful my house looks…not sit and think how I should be working on something or contacting someone. Just sit and exist and let life meander past without the press of time attached to it.

Thus, you can see why having a trip to look forward to is so important. I am not in need of recharging yet…although if the option was presented to me I wouldn’t say no…but the idea of having nothing on the horizon, nothing to aim for, nothing to anticipate is sort of depressing.

(ALERT: The following is a thinly veiled attempt to relate this post to writing.) I think this “depression” is impacting my writing. I’ve slowed to glacial speed, approx. 500 a week down from my 5000 word days in November, and that brings me down even more. It’s a cycle, I tell ya! A cycle! With all I’ve done this year, to come screeching up against this…not writer’s block, but just life block is sort of distressing. Oye, how to get motivated??

Top ten ways to get motivated to write:

  1. Organize your writing space.
  2. Set goals.
  3. Make a date to write with friends.
  4. Set a “writing time” and stick to it.
  5. Get a writing “buddy”.
  6. READ! (Something awful if you can stand it.)
  7. Join a writing group.
  8. Turn off your internet and unplug your TV (for a day/week/month)
  9. Set rewards and punishments for yourself. (No chocolate cookies till 1000 words.)
  10. Hire an enforcer! Or if that fails set a deadline!

Find you peace and live it, even if we’ve got no place to go…


A personal update…

I know I don’t talk much about personal things here, but today I am moved to share.

Some of you may already know this, but I had my dog put down two weeks ago today, and I never expected it to be this hard. The first few days were dampened by a pall so thick I didn’t think I’d ever bounce back. Then as we got busy, things got…not better, but pushed to the back of my mind.

We, Day and I, were both half way to exhaustion on the one week anniversary…and I know I didn’t think about it. (It was the first day of driving back to MD and I only had enough in me to figure out which way to go to get us back and how to keep the truck between the lines.)

Now two weeks in, and I want to not forget her…because I know how easy it is to forget.

Getting a rental car and taking her with us to Missouri was the best thing I’ve ever done. She was with us in the back seat every step of the way. Panting and funking up the car with her breath…and eating everything we ate…and sniffing at every stop we made. I was going to make her wear a diaper to keep the rental safe but every time I went to put it on her I thought, “Why even do this to her? It’s her last trip.” And I’d toss it to one side and just let her put her butt on the rug we’d put down for both girls.

She had a love for chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce (NOT bar-b-que!)…but when faced with a nugget and a piece of my hamburger instead of taking one she opened her mouth REALLY wide and tried to get both in her mouth at once. Day and I nearly cried it was so funny!

I remember how the bank and McDonalds and Shakey’s (a frozen custard place) used to keep dog treats to give to people that came through with their dogs…and how Kitty used to think that EVERYWHERE with a drive thru window had treats and I was reduced to purchasing fries even when I didn’t want them so I could give her some. I even asked the people at Capt’n D’s to toss a random fry in my meal so I could give it to the dog…they looked at me funny but they did it and laughed when I fed it to her in front of them. That dog was so convinced those windows were for her that she would push her head over my left shoulder and hang her head out the window as we pulled up in anticipation of her treat. Even when she got older she would try to get on that side of the car when we went through a drive through.

I remember taking her for walks at the dog park and how she would wander around but the moment she couldn’t see me anymore she would start heading in my direction. She had to keep track of her humans, just in case they got in trouble. I remember watching her play with the other dogs and how she liked it for a while but then they would annoy her and she’d leave them…head held high like a queen…to come seek me out. It was as if she was saying, “What a bunch of silly boys, I’ve got better things to do.”

I remember how she HATED water. My Day and I (with help from my Mom and Dad) gave Kitty a bath when she got back from 3 weeks in NYC…she was a filthy sort of dull grey, it was awful. We’d put her in a kiddy pool (kitty pool, is what we called it), and she stood there like a statue glaring at us like she was plotting our demise. She didn’t move, she didn’t run, but she was NOT happy! We washed her and the water ran off her, a sick brown…but wow, when we dried her fur it was like the Golden Fleece. Brilliant and fluffy, soft and sweet smelling…I buried my face in her fur that day, and hugged her welcome back home.

I remember when Day left Kitty with me for 3 weeks while she was in China (she couldn’t take the dog with her). The first couple of days, Kitty would search every room looking for Day and it nearly broke my heart…then she and I settled into a groove and she would sleep with me in bed every night. She and I both missed Day so terribly that we leaned all the more on one another…and when I took her up to my Mom and Dad’s to pick up our wayward Day she knew something was going on. She saw the harness and knew. I put it on her at the airport and when the plane emptied she was quivering with excitement. Then Day whistled, that unique “Kitty, come!” whistle she’d done so often and we both froze. I couldn’t see Day, she was short and lost in the milling crowd but that dog was zeroing in on her and when the second whistle came there was no way I could hold onto her leash. She nearly popped my arm out of my socket when she took off and I just let her go. Seeing the two of them reunited was one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen in my life.

I remember Kitty, I remember her sneaking into the pantry to eat the cat food even when she knew she might fall.

I remember her “sailor’s mouth” (in our opinion that dog cursed all the time).

I remember that cold, cold nose she’d put under your elbow when she wanted what you were eating.

I remember her NEVER, EVER eating anything that was on a plate that we had not given her.

I remember how she and ham did NOT get along. (ick!)

I remember that she hated having her feet tickled.

I remember when she used to bark at the door when people came to visit.

I remember her crooked tail (the result of a nasty waiter stepping on her).

I remember her love of plastic bottles, and fencing, and chasing the boys around R.C. House during fencing class, and bunnies.

I remember it all, I do…and when my book gets published and you read about the fry eating, sweet smelling, smart ass dog you’ll know exactly who I am talking about.

Find your peace and live it, even if it hurts a lot…and if you get a chance, love a pet they are worth all of it and more.


Taking a little time to chat with God on my computer…you can too.

Our weekly distraction, a little early or late depending on how you count is “iGod”:


I just had a conversation with God.  I’m not kidding, and I’ve got to tell you I just had the most fun of my weekend in this conversation.  I found myself having to explain the concept of humor…not easy!  Take some time and talk to God yourself, it might prove enlightening. 

Anyway, I’m 46000 words into my 60000 word goal.  It was sort of funny, I started on Friday with a word debt of about 5000 words and now I’m in the positives by about 1000 words (and I’m planning to bang out another 1000 before I quit tonight).  It was all the product of an amazing day when the words just came and I felt like it was no trouble to put them down.  I only have a few of those days, but when they come oh they are like the best candy coctail in the world!

Ok, sorry it’s so short but I want to get back to it.  I’ve got a special treat in store if I can finish before the 30th and I’m bound and determined to do it, even if it’s only a day early!

Find your peace and live it, especially if it has faith in it.



What day is it? Hell?

Two days to half way and I’m feeling the strain. I’m about 100 words off my game which is nothing to cry about, but it would be nice if I had some sort of a buffer to catch me when I’m feeling dragged out. Did I mention I’ve been feeling dragged out all week?

Monday started like this: woke up to the dog panting to be let out, rubbed eyes, took a step toward the bathroom (bursting bladder comes before desperate dog some days)…stepped in dog poop, screamed, hopped to living room with dog trying to knock me over, hopped into dog pee, screamed again, let dog out. THEN after getting my feet cleaned off, taking a shower, feeding the cats, getting breakfast, changing clothing, and transferring what I had worked on the night before to my flash drive I realized…wait, I let the old dog back in, where is she?

Oh yes, that’s right she’s in the cat room eating two cups of cat food so she can be sick all day and poop everywhere. Somedays…no, some weeks are not worth waking up for.

Since that very telling morning I’ve been fighting a bad mood, a headache that could kill small children and the elderly (likely brought on by…), neck/eye strain, and this overpowering desire to just sleep! But no, I’ve got 2000 words a day looming over me like the tsunami that ate my brain, and if I let it get too far ahead of me I’ll never catch up.

Enough griping, let me tell you a sad story…I was in the pool, I’d pushed myself to do 18 laps (I started with just 12 so this is really a good thing) after working on my legs with the weight machines. I was breathing hard and felt wrung out, and while finishing the last half of my last lap a guy (thin, surprisingly not in a speedo, goggles, very little hair) stands at the end of my lap. When I arrive he very sweetly asks me if he can share my lane (I heart this guy already, he’s not making me look at his package and he’s being polite!!!). I tell him he can have it, and as I strip off all my swimming equipment, and lately I’ve got a lot, we have the following conversation…

“I can share, I don’t mind.”
“Nah, I’ve done my 22 for the night. I’m finished.” (twinge of guilt for lying, but the man is so damn thin!!!! Be sure to pull a face of exhaustion, because 22 yeah that’ll exhaust anyone! You’re a badass Renee!)
“I hear it takes 88 to make a mile.”
“Really, I heard it was in the 60’s…oh well, I just don’t have it in me to do anymore tonight.”
“I know how you feel, some days I get in the pool and I’m feeling good I’ve eaten right I’ve gotten enough sleep and I hit about 45 and think…I just can’t do another lap.”
(starts to think perhaps I should have said 35…40…perhaps 100 wouldn’t be too much of a stretch…yeah, I do 100 laps a day, what of it? You think a fat girl can’t find time for 100 laps? Sizeist. *spits*) “Some days it just doesn’t work out. I’m feeling good that I’ve gotten up to 18, I started at 12.” (desperate vie for validation)
“Good for you! You know daily improvement is the goal.”
“Yeah. Daily improvement.” (smile brightly, too brightly, begin to look manic…time to giggle like a freak) *giggle* “Well, have a great workout. Goodnight.”

The end.

Find your peace and live it, even if it is only 18 laps long!  You’re a badass!


Eating a reader because reader’s digest and writers cramp.

We all knew it was bound to happen…you can’t keep up a 2,000 word a day life (up from nothing since I was editing before this) without a few stumbling blocks.

Today is my first one.

I would rather do anything but write today.  Anything!  ANYTHING!  I’ve been listening to British Next Top Model for God’s sake!  How desperate must I be?  I’ve punched out 500+ words but only because the terror of having 4000 words to put to paper tomorrow makes my heart beat in a sort of painful off-kilter way.  It’s not even that I have writers cramp, far from it actually, I’ve got an entire chapter outlined and ready to go…I just DON’T WANT TO DO IT!

I cannot figure out what is wrong with me.  I’ve had to reward myself over and over again today for doing the barest of work!  Five minutes writing…get to listen to a 40 minute podcast.  Ten minutes writing…and an installment of ANTM (well, BNTM) an installment being 10 minutes or so.

What is wrong with me?  OYE!  I just wish I could find the drive today…the need to keep going to beat out imaginary (ok, so they are real but not in my life) foes and make them cringe at my wordcount…unfortunately I’m thinking of going back through all my stuff to see if I can wring out a few more words (via missed files and random bits and background info) so I don’t have to write the rest of my 1,500 words for the day.

It won’t happen, we all know that if I had more than 200 words hiding somewhere I’ve already pulled that puppy out and used it.  Amen.  And don’t get all holier than thou, you know you do the same thing…

Anyway, find you peace and…hey I wonder if this would count?  It IS writing.  No?  You guys are so mean. 🙁


Day 2 and Off to an Undead Start

I had a great weekend in a little town called Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Cute, but with a patina of sadness.  Back in 1889 a flood wiped out the town…a flood caused by a burst dam which was the responsibility of a rich “Hunting and Fishing Club” 14 miles up the mountain (For more info: http://www.jaha.org/FloodMuseum) .  They have rebuilt, but it’s just sort of sad.  A lot of the really cool things there are direct results of the flood…like the Inclined Plane (www.inclinedplane.com).  Instead of this being bad though, it really gave me the bug to write my Zombie novel.  I could just see the hardship in the eyes of all the pictures and even in the people that still live there today.

By the end of my stay, I wanted to capture it forever in my novel…Not just the people, but the whole feel of the town is perfect for my novel.  The proud rebuilt city, coming into its own among the ruins…forever fearful, forever minful, but not very watchful at all.  Thus I wrote over 2,000 words today.  All good words that smell like Pennsylvania Pine and have a cover of icy morning frost. 

This puts me on schedule…although you wouldn’t know that thanks to the NANO site.

UGH!  Here’s some hate for the NANO site. (hate, hate, hate)  I can’t get in, I can’t update anything, I can’t even get it to move.  It’s like a snail…no, worse than a snail, and that is so frustrating because in less than an hour I will be 2000 words behind!  NANO, why must you MOCK me!?

Find your peace and live it, even if you are thwarted!


A Man, A Plan, A Canal – Panama!

So, in an effort to organize for NANOWRIMO (after my disaster last week with the missing file…STATUS: still missing!) I’ve made a plan!

The Zombie Plan!

Part 1:

Create 20 files, the names of the files will be Zombie Chapter #. One for each of the 20 chapters I’m planning.

Create a file for random floaty ideas. These are things that sound cool, but where to put them?

Create a name index. I’m terrible with names. My secretary in “In Harm’s Way” (as I think I have mentioned before) has at one time been “mango”, Suzie, Betsy, Sally, and strangely enough Ben on one of my oldest files where she makes an appearance.

Part 2:

Here is the hard part, I want to make an outline this year. A general outline of what is going to happen in the book. I’m still organic, free-range…put the chickens in the little wheel pens and get them to eat the horn worms that are killing my tomatoes…in my writing style. BUT now new and improved with a plan of action!

Out of this outline should spring…

Part 3:

Each chapter should get a one line description of the action held within it.

This is subject to change, but I should at the very least have an idea of what will be happening in each file when I open it and begin writing. THIS way I can indulge in my “I can’t write this scene!” angst without leaving out scenes and forgetting them until editing comes around.

Part 4:

This weekend, when we get back from our trip…we are going to go shopping for NANO food. Veggies and fruit and a small amount of junk (very small) to keep us going during the time I tend not to look at what I’m eating. I also have a plan for making a few pots of taco soup/chili/ski soup so we can have something warm that we just need to thaw and throw into the microwave.

I think it’s a good plan…I really do. Let’s hope I can pull it off.

Wish me luck!

Find your peace and live it…even if it is planned to within an inch of its life!


P.S. The title of this blog post is a famous palindrome…just in case you didn’t know. 🙂

Writing Frustration!

I am frustrated by my writing. By the way I write, by the process in which my brain organizes these novels and processes them. By my own lack of work ethic when it comes to these damn novels.

I am trying to edit the novel I wrote last year, and it is proving very difficult. Why? Well, put simply it’s the way I write. I begin at the start, but when I hit a snag…when I can’t figure out what I want to say or how to say it…I skip to something else. Not just the next scene, but perhaps the next chapter or the one after that or even one that I haven’t decided on yet.

Ok, that may work fine while writing…and it has so far, I’ve gotten two rough drafts for novels out of it. Yet, when it comes to editing it makes my life hell. I really don’t like to edit…and I think the reason I don’t is that I have to organize the story from this chaos into a linear thing. If my writing were more organized perhaps I would like editing more than writing…then again perhaps it is a case of the grass being greener, but I doubt it.

Right now I am looking for a scene I know I have written. I remember it, I know what happens, and I know it is somewhere…but where???? I am usually very organized even in my chaos writing style. I break my writing into: part one-beginning, part two-middle, and part 3-ending. Inside those parts I try to write a linear story, but often leave huge gaps where I need to have something happen but don’t know what it’s going to be yet. Then when I am “finished” writing that part if I come across an idea I would like to stick in it I save it as an individual file and give it a unique name. Like, “Part 1 – Is he going to be a monster?” for the scene were a couple comes in to visit Harmony about their infected newborn.

Sounds like a good idea, huh? Yeah, but I said usually. I’m guessing this time was one of those “not so much” times. (Those actually occur quite a bit as I am prone to moving events around in my story…a LOT.) It’s just killing me, because I feel like I can’t go forward, like I won’t know what goes into this chapter until I get to edit this one scene. It’s important because we meet the 2nd dog, who will play a large role later.

I just can’t find it. I’m wondering if it is on another computer. *sigh* I’m telling you, this year…organized! And this year, if it is a problem I’ll write a line telling me what the scene should be or telling me that something needs to happen there and then move on from there…but NO skipping around! No playing pick a wildflower bouquet with my novel!

Yeah, I know pipedreams and rubber tree plants…but a girl can hope.

Find your peace and live it, but get organized…


Give back the short story and no one gets hurt.

I laughed at Day the other night when, in response to a friend talking about ‘novelists who are incapable of thinking small enough to write a short story’, she looked at me and nodded.
I laughed because until about 3 years ago I was incapable of thinking large enough to squeeze a novel out of any of my ideas. I could write some long short stories, but none of them were anywhere near the length it would take to get me into the world of novels. Seriously. When people talked about writing books instead of stories, I just gaped and wondered how on earth they could find enough to write about. It wasn’t until I wrote my “truth” short story…and began to wonder about her past and her future and her world that I decided to really give Nanowrimo the chance it deserved and actually banged out 50,000 words on it (and continued on to give it an 80,000 word final -well almost final- count). Then the next year I did it again, this time ramping up my wordcount to 100,000 words when all was said and done 4months later. Then I began working on a novel with Day, and began my planning for this year’s NANO.
Yeah, I laughed…because I knew that deep down I was a short story artist trying to pull off the novel act.
And then I started working on a new short project…
I am trying to write a zombie story, one that involves the evolution of the voodoo church into a Christianity sized epic religion after the rise of zombies. I’m just trying to write one little story, a short for a contest, about the struggle between two very different girls that both want to become the priestess for a mega-voodoo church and what happens when one decides winning is more important than the faith she professes to have and the other is struggling to hold onto what little faith she has left.
Now I’ve got a lesbian deacon and resident bad ass.
I’ve got a dead priestess that is haunting the church.
I’ve got a council of elders that are aligning behind one girl or the other for their own nefarious purposes.
I’ve got the entire city watching this power struggle.
And out in the swamp…hiding…is an infection that is beginning to spread and conventional treatments are not standing in its way.
Could this be the second coming of the zombies?
Could this finally be the end for humanity as we know it?

Shoot me, just shoot me.