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February 2015

Not Sweeter than Fiction, but Close

Some people have a “thing.”  A “thing” they’re known for.  A “thing” they go out of their way to make time for.  A “thing” they do only for themselves, with nothing much to gain except their own giddy grin.  I have lots of “things” that meet one or two of these categories, but only two that meet all three.  The first is my writing, but it would defeat the purpose of this blog series for me to choose that for my topic.  The second is college football, which I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me blab about.

So, I had to settle for one that meets two out of three – cakes.  Yes, I’m known among my family and friends for being the cake maker.  Yes, I’ll go out of my way to do it, even transported a cake nine hours to Florida for my sister-in-law’s destination wedding.  The third one isn’t so easy to answer, so we’ll come back to that later.

I love sweets – both indulging myself with them and creating them.  But most of all, I love making other people happy with them.  Yes, I’m the one who gives away 75% of the Christmas cookies (and calories) I make every December, and I’m the one who always volunteers to bring the triple chocolate something for dessert.  So for my first daughter’s first birthday, you know no store bought cake was going to do. Oh no.  I decided I was going to teach myself how to do cakes, because, you know, why the hell WOULDN’T I?

It was a long, sometimes painful journey, but I’ve really only had one cake that didn’t turn out to my satisfaction.  After Cinderella wound up looking like a hooker with WAY to much mascara and a glass eye, I decided that would be the first and LAST time I would try to do a face in icing.

Any who….here are some of my favorite successes.




My older daughter’s first sleepover cake. The pillows are made of giant marshmallows.







Sydney Carroll’s Bad Girlz baby shower cake.  I didn’t know how to make anything “naughty,” so she had to settle for cute.






My nephew’s first and second birthday cakes.  I was so excited to get to make boy cakes!  The barn is actually cake, the pig is playing in chocolate pudding, and the monster is just darn cute, ain’t he?

monster-cake        Farm-Cake






A luau party themed cake.  The coconuts are actually chocolate icing.  My husband got the giggles watching me decorate those.







And the mamma jamma of them all…for my youngest daughter’s fifth birthday…the castle cake!  This one took 14 hours to bake, decorate, and build.  I even imprinted the columns with a cobble stone effect, because I’m cool like that (or crazy…whichever).


Okay, so I’m no cake boss, but I think I do alright with it.

So back to that third criteria.  Do I make these cakes only for myself, with nothing much to gain except my own giddy grin?  No.  I do it because I love seeing the smiles on my family’s and friends’ faces when they see what I made just for THEM.

And then I clean up the mess and go back to doing my writing “thing.”


Non-Guilty Guilty Pleasures

guilty_pleasure_definition_-_Google_SearchAs a rule, I don’t like the term “guilty pleasure.” Mostly because if it makes you happy, I don’t think you should feel guilty about it. Or ashamed of it. Those two One Direction songs on my iPod? Love them. Those Care Bear socks I wear? I rock the shit out of those. The hundreds of smutty books I read? If you stand around me long enough, I will tell you all about them. A lot of the things people seem to think of as guilty pleasures, I just see as pleasures.

Strappy_Mesh_Cheeky_Panty_-_Very_Sexy_-_Victoria_s_SecretAnd while I was trying to come up with a topic for this month’s blog post, I thought I didn’t have any guilty pleasures. And then I saw my very expensive face cream, and I tried to cram some more underoos in my over-flowing panty drawer, and I cleaned out my make-up stash, and it was an Ah-Ha! moment for me.

My guilty pleasure is spending money on myself. And I try not to feel guilty about it. Sometimes I succeed. Other times, not so much.

It took me a lot Chopin_Lace_Tee_-_anthropologie_comof years to get here. Part of that is probably financial security as much as it is wisdom (from my old age *snort*), but in the last couple of years, I finally got to the point where I realized it was okay to spend money on myself. And not only was it okay, but it’s nice.

Strivectin_Labs_Extreme_Cream_Ulta_com_-_Cosmetics__Fragrance__Salon_and_Beauty_GiftsThat jar of StriVectin Extreme Creme? I didn’t even flinch when I bought it. That Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation? I refuse to use anything else. Another pair of pretty panties? Don’t mind if I do. One more lace top from Anthropologie? I already have three, but yes, thank you!

Silk_Creme_Foundation_-_Laura_Mercier___SephoraAs women, I think a lot of times we put ourselves at the bottom of the totem pole. If you’re a wife, too, knock yourself down another notch. And a mom? Welp, tumble a little lower. I thought for a long time that I was better at this than I’d seen others be, but the truth is, it took me a lot (looooooootttttt) of years to get to a place where I’m okay spending money (and time) on myself. That’s not to say there isn’t guilt sometimes, because of course there is. But it’s few and far between now.

What’s the one thing you’d buy yourself no matter what? And if you’re not quite there yet, what would you love to buy for yourself? I’m an excellent enabler.


Let’s Renovate!!

Authorin’ books is hard work, y’all!

Add to that the responsibilities of everyday family life and you’re looking at one seriously stretched thin Bad Girl. But, even in the craziest of times, we have to stay sane, right? We have to take time to relax, be selfish and do something that’s just for us or we won’t be able to hold that other stuff together. Here on Bad Girlz Write, we’re talking about those selfish moments that have no purpose beyond our own happiness in a series called Guilty or Not Guilty.
I must admit, I…am guilty.


My 2015 To Do List:

January: Re-grade the backyard.
February: Fill in the gaps in décor in the living room.
March: Apply antiquing glaze to the kitchen cabinets.
April: Finish the porch on the back of the house into a sunroom.
May: Flowers, flowers, flowers, and build stone walls for raised beds on the side of the house.
June: Demo and rebuild stair rail and newel post in entryway.

The above list may look like work to most of you, but to me it’s my selfish guilty pleasure. The one thing that I do totally for myself is home renovation and decoration. I’m hopelessly addicted to places like Pier 1 and Homegoods. I scour the Pottery Barn catalog that comes in the mail for ideas. I’ve even been known to pause a movie to point out an architectural detail in the background. And, by the next week, I have plans to incorporate that detail into my house.

Some of you may know, I was an interior designer before I became a writer. I majored in design in college and worked mostly in corporate design before opening a residential and light commercial design business. I even married a general contractor. It’s sort of my thing. But, since I don’t do it professionally anymore, now I get to obsess over my house for fun—for me! *grins*

As a result, I see my house as a constant work in progress, and I’m always looking to improve things until it looks like a picture from Southern Living. *wistful sighs* A year and a half ago, we bought a foreclosure that had to be gutted…as in there were piles of rubble inside. True story—ask Heather McGovern, she saw said rubble. So I thought I would share a few of my ongoing projects.

My husband and I started work on the kitchen last June and we still aren’t quite finished with it…


The idea for the kitchen design began with a way to display my collection of antique copper cook wear.  Yes, I am a history geek and I collect antique copper. 🙂 


coffee bar

Who wants to come to my house for coffee served from my coffee bar?  This used to be an appliance garage with cabinet doors.  I like it better this way, but then, I like coffee too.


The backsplash over my stove is a mosaic made of smashed antique china. Someone’s grandmother rolled over in her grave, no doubt, but I try not to think about that.














The entry area has been my most recent project.  As you can see from the lack of draperies and sparse decor, it still isn’t done.

entry 5entry tableentry 4










Here are a few more random pictures from around my house–all of them a work in progress.


Yes, that is a vintage map of London on the wall above my sofa. And, my husband did almost kill me for making him dry set slate in a herringbone pattern around the fireplace.  Thanks for noticing the details. 😉


entry 3

It needs a centerpiece and a table cloth the color of merlot, yes? Yes.



This is the basement we finished in. It’s a break room for the offices / play room / whatever, it’s a room. LOL

And last but not least, the Monkey’s room.  His only request when we took on this crazy project of a house was orange walls in his bedroom…The canoe paddle window treatments, boat diagrams, and–according to the Monkey–“Dirty” life preserver from the HMS Unity were my idea.  LOL

monkey room

So, if you read in one of my books a lengthy description of a staircase or the décor of a room, it’s just me indulging in my love of design and staying sane in the craziness of life.

What’s your guilty pleasure?


Gift Unto Others…

Welcome everyone to my first Bad Girlz post! Amendment: welcome everyone except my husband, who should go away now, since reading this will ruin a Valentine’s Day surprise. While we wait for him to leave, please enjoy staring at the following:


And now that he’s gone, back to our regularly scheduled blog.

I was discussing Valentine’s Day with acquaintances and one of them smirked at me. “So what are you getting your husband?” There was a lot of wink-wink, nudge-nudge in her tone. subtle

I think she was making some assumptions because I write sexy books for Blaze (and, as Lila Bell, really sexy paranormals). I don’t think the answer she expected was, “Brisket.”

Yep, the romance author who makes her living off of love stories is giving her husband barbecued meat. Gee, swoon. But you have to understand, my husband is a displaced Texan. Any time he eats barbecue anywhere other than the state of Texas, he waxes nostalgic about how no one makes barbecue like they do “back home.” (He hasn’t lived in Texas in 20 years but, far as I can tell, if you’re born in Texas, it’s home forever.) So I researched some magazines and online sites to see if I could find a majority opinion on the BEST barbecue house in Texas, and I arranged for them to overnight one hell of a feast.

In my first year of marriage, I would have tried to show my love with a candlelit homemade dinner, maybe something extravagant like lobster, and champagne. But in my first year of marriage, I was kind of an idiot. J doesn’t like lobster. And he prefers a cold beer (brewed in Texas, natch) to the bubbly stuff. I was falling victim to the gift version of the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”) The thing is, the best gifts aren’t just reflections of what we wish someone would give us, they’re gifts that show we understand the recipient and love him/her for who they are.

Case in point, I have a towering phobia of Eight Legged Bugs Which Must Not Be Named. J knew this about me when we were dating, but he didn’t see the depths of my psychosis until after we were married. At one point, I was afraid he might bail rather than letting someone so clearly unstable have his children. So I was touched (and amused) the day I came home to find a gift basket in our foyer. Beneath the shrink wrap and bow was bug spray and long-handled/heavy items that could be used to squash critters without getting too close. (Just this past Christmas, I got peppermint oil in my stocking because spraying it around door frames is supposed to help repel eight-legged evil and other pests.)

Then there was the birthday where J presented his gift with a mumbled, “You’re not gonna like it.” Turns out, when he’d told others what he bought me, they said it wasn’t very romantic. Maybe not in the traditional sense, but it was kind of an inside joke. See, while writing IS my dream job, it is also crazy-making. On every single deadline, frustrated with my characters, my computer and my “utter lack of talent! Why the hell did I think I could DO this?” I complain to my husband that I need to hit something. So I laughed out loud when I opened my mini-punching bag. (And, trust me, I use it a lot.)


Intimacy doesn’t have to be overtly sexual–which isn’t to say classic standbys don’t have their uses. J has never complained when I show up with a new lingerie purchase. And there was that one year when I sent him for supplies to get us through a predicted snowstorm and he came back with whipped cream and champagne. But if you want to give your significant other something memorable (and something they can actually admit to when a co-worker or in-law asks, “So what’d you get?”) think about who they are and how to celebrate that.

As someone who attends Dragon*Con and has witnessed Klingon weddings and Dr. Who marriage proposals, I can tell you that love doesn’t always look like what we see in commercials. Sometimes, it has a prosthetic ridged forehead or even zombie makeup. And sometimes it has Texas barbecue sauce smeared across its face.


The Five P’s – Steps to Submitting

I wrote a novel. Yep. I wrote the best dang novel I had in me…and then I started the steps to submission. After Step One, I scrapped it and rewrote the whole dang novel. (That story is for another blog post.)

I like shortcuts to remember things, so I created The Five P’s – Steps to Submitting. Why P? Because I just don’t have enough “P” in my life? No, with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, I have plenty of “P” in my life…but I digress. These P-words were easy for me to remember. I hope they are easy—and helpful—for you, too.

1. PUT it out there (That’s a P, I swear)

You wrote a Kick-Ass novel. You edited KA novel. Time to send your novel out to critique partners or beta readers.

Problem: If you’ve never let anyone read your work before, it’s HARD to press send. It took me FOUR YEARS to let another set of eyes look at my novel.

But it has to be done. Because you can’t improve if you don’t put yourself out there. And it’s a lot less dream-crushing and heart-stomping to hear what needs to be altered from beta readers and friends than in a rejection from an editor or agent. When you submit to the pros, you want to put your best work out there.

POSITIVITY (Remember this. More later)


You wrote a kick ass novel. You edited the novel. You had critique partners and beta readers read and give feedback on the novel.

Well guess what: there are probably still typos. Twenty people read my novel, from friends and betas to an actual line editor I PAID. And while each person gave me feedback and mentioned errors, there were still typos when I queried agents. No, I didn’t ask for my money back. It happens.

My advice: Figure out if you have a friend who is a grammar freak and have that friend scour it to bits. Or hire someone. (But not the person I hired.)

POSITIVITY (Seriously, you need this)


You put your novel out there. You polished it until it shone like Mr. Clean’s head on a hot day. Time to Pitch your book! This “P” includes the Query process, but “Query” messed up my “P’s”.

I LOVE pitching in person. Is it nerve racking? YUP! But I would much rather have the opportunity to sit in front of an agent or editor and pitch my book using my personality than send cold e-mails straight to a slush pile. At least if I meet someone I have a chance to make an impression. And I’m building a relationship, a connection.

My first in-person pitch went like this: “Um, so, yeah, my book has a hero, and um, he plays hockey.”

It doesn’t get much worse than that people! The editor stopped me to remind me she was a regular person. Her words calmed me, and I finished my pitch. She asked for the full.

**Pitching is my personal preference. In person, online – I love it. Pitch, query, whatever works. YOU BE YOU.

4. POSITIVITY (Almost there!)


“Never, ever ever ever ever give up.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill

Everyone gets rejected. I’m so sorry, but it’s true. If you want to see your novel up for sale on a website or on a shelf in a book store, you have to keep trying. Keep working on your craft. Keep writing. Keep polishing. Keep pitching. Keep going! Don’t give up. Ever.

I could have given up after my very first critique where I was told: “This book is horrible. You should scrap it and start over.” (True Story). But I didn’t give up. I rewrote the book.

I could have gotten up and walked away from the pitch I ruined just by opening my nervous mouth. But I didn’t. I’ve pitched a few more times since then, and each time got better. The nerves subsided slightly and I improved.

Never give up! Please.


This is my life motto. I put Positivity after every single “P” just to Prove a Point. YOU are your biggest cheerleader, marketer, sales person. You’ve gotta own that puppy! I’m not saying be arrogant, but you have to keep a positive attitude about the process, the industry, and your product. If you don’t believe in your own craft, how can you sell it to anyone else?

And if you need positivity help – hit me up. There’s room for all of us to succeed! I will always remind you of that!!

What are your tips for getting to and through the submission process?

Sophia Henry writes Heartfelt Flirty Fiction featuring hot, hockey-playing heroes. DELAYED PENALTY and POWER PLAY, the first two books in the Pilots Hockey series from Random House Flirt, are available now at all major e-book retailers.


Maybe I’m a Good Girl Gone Bad?

I think a corollary may be that good looking shirtless guys are always appreciated. I’ll have to wait for some feedback on that one.

Finally. Someone asked me to join their club. Even better, it’s a BadGirlz club!

I’m so happy to be a part of the Bad Girlz blog, and I can only hope I don’t get kicked out for my goody-two-shoes ways. I mean, I do cuss–LIKE A SAILOR–but I also sing in the church choir. Then there’s the fact that I teach Sunday School, and I used to teach high school. Even worse? I’m the daughter of a teacher. We all know teachers’ kids and preachers’ kids go one of two ways. Yeah, I was the straight and narrow kind.

I want to be a bad girl. Really, I do, but I fidget when characters in books and on television are making stupid decisions. I have been known to actually yell, “Make good choices!” Oddly enough, they never listen.

Sexy corn. I can’t make this stuff up, and I’m a writer.

Then there was the time in my misguided college years I tried to dress up as a hooker for Halloween. I think I was the most conservatively dressed person there. I used my own closet instead of going to a costume store. Heck, now you can be a sexy ear of corn if you want to.* I mean, you can. I’d probably come out looking like the farmer’s wholesome daughter.

I did take pole dancing lessons. In related news, I still can’t dance much less dance sexy.

Yay! It’s about a bad girl….who ends up playing piano in a church. *face palm*

Maybe my novel is about a bad girl? In The Happy Hour Choir, Beulah swears and plays hymns in a bar. That’s pretty bad, isn’t it? Then she falls for a minister. Hmmm.

I did skip class once with my bestie from high school! Kinda. Okay so we technically had permission to be off campus for a yearbook photo and the daring thing we did was go through the McDonald’s drive thru WITHOUT GETTING PERMISSION FIRST, and I was the one driving. Then we sat in the auditorium lobby and ate McDonald’s instead of going back to the cafeteria. *gasp* Then one of our teachers and the guidance counselor found us and told us we were going to be suspended and lose our Valedictorian and Salutatorian statuses and we would RECEIVE ALL ZEROES FOR ALL THE DAYS WE WERE ABSENT. And my life flashed before my eyes! And then that teacher and the guidance counselor burst out laughing because they were playing a cruel, cruel practical joke on us. Janette and I were not amused.

I’m not as bad as Janette, though. She’s the one who tore one of those “Do not remove” tags off a

As a side not, I’m talking about my friend Janette–not Bad Girl Jeanette.

hotel pillow once. I know because I was there.

You know, I’m trying. We went to Coyote Ugly a few years back, and I tried to dance on the bar. I couldn’t get to the bad because the place was so crowded.

I did get a speeding ticket right before Nationals in Atlanta. That’s pretty bad, right? What? No. Oh, okay.

So that happened.

Oh, hey! I wore a corset to Moonlight & Magnolias that time. That counts, right?

Fine. I guess I’ll have to stick to cussing as my major vice although I did drink straight from the champagne bottle on my fortieth birthday so maybe there’s hope yet that I’ll learn to be bad. Maybe all these BadGirlz will rub off on me.

Stay tuned for some posts with writing and reading and whatnot, but in the meantime I’m going to try to get a handle on this being bad thing.






Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Miss Winters Proposes

My latest novel, Miss Winters Proposes, a spirited Regency romance centered around an unseemly propMissWintersProposesFINALv2osal, hits the virtual shelves today, and I thought it would be fun to celebrate its big release by letting you in on some behind the scenes on-dit.

Specifically, ten things. Like…

1. Benjamin was originally named Dominic. I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for that name and decided to use it for my hero. Unfortunately, Dominic is neither English nor historically accurate for the Regency time period and a new more appropriate name had to be selected. It all worked out for the best, because I really can’t imagine Benjamin as anyone else.

2. Miss Winters Proposes was originally titled Miss Winters Proposal. My critique partner suggested I make the words more ‘active’ and the new title was born.

3. Juliet’s home, Hollington, is actually a sub-division on the way to my vet. I was taking the dog to a check-up when inspiration struck and I stole the name.

4. I have never actually seen an English Pointer. Yeah…pretty, awful, huh? I’ve seen them on the computer, mind you, but I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting one in person and I hope to right that wrong. And soon.

5. Juliet’s red hair and blue eyes are my absolute favorite coloring. (Just an FYI, it is also the rarest.) It doesn’t hurt that my eldest and middle son share those traits. Look for that combo to appear in Book 2 of my Daughters of Amhurst series in the hero as a small tribute to my two oldest offspring.

6. The idea for Miss Winters Proposes was inspired by my younger sister, Josey. She is a lover of all things canine and a certified dog trainer and groomer. A romance involving puppies was kinda sorta inevitable.

7. I have never sipped brandy, which is a shame, as I feature it in almost all of my books. All my knowledge of the liquor is gathered from the internet, including the words used to describe its taste. I sense another wrong that must be set right…

8. Speaking of beverages, making hot chocolate in the Regency (the only way of consuming chocolate at the time), was a laborious process. All the steps and preparation that went into making Ben and Juliet’s shared drink are found in Jane Austen and Food by Maggie Lane, a definite must-read for the true Janeite.

9. About 95% of the canine behavior found in Miss Winters Proposes is based on those displayed by my beloved pet standard poodle. The rest were garnered from Youtube clips on English pointers.

10. While writing this book, I read a whole lot of Rick Riordan to keep up with my kids. The dog’s names are an ode to the author. If you haven’t read his Heroes of Olympus and Kane Chronicles series, you need to. Now.


Juliet Winters has come up with a wonderfully devious plan to avoid marrying her vile cur of a cousin. First, she’ll propose marriage to her handsome, reclusive neighbor, Lord Colwyn. Then, once she has both name and financial support, she’ll be able to pursue her true (if rather unladylike) passion — breeding dogs. But when Lord Colwyn rejects her proposal… Juliet must take matters into her own hands.

The last thing Benjamin Colwyn expected was for the spirited Juliet to blackmail him into marriage — especially not by kidnapping his beloved canine companion. Yet despite his yearning for peace and isolation, he finds himself wanting to help her, if only to protect her from a marriage to a disreputable scoundrel. He certainly doesn’t expect the woman who pilfered his dog to steal his heart, as well…

You can get your copy here!


McGovy’s Favorite Bad Girl: Natasha Romanoff

Natalia Alianovna Romanova, AKA Black Widow. AKA: Natalie Rushman, Nancy Rushman, Nadine Roman, Natalia Shostakova, and the list goes on and on. As you may have guessed, my favorite Bad Girl is a spy.

black widow1

Not just any spy either. In my heart, she is THE spy. Maybe it’s because she operates in a male dominated field and society, uses that fact as one of her greatest weapons, and few people have the slightest clue she’s doing it. Maybe it’s because she is a master of disguise, not always in outward appearance, but in making you see whoever it is she wants you to see: Demure administrative professional, emotionally compromised Avengers team member, casual collegiate mall rat, World Security Council member. She was never really any of these things, but damn if she wasn’t convincing. Maybe she’s my fave because when I say she kicks ass at her job, I mean she KICKS ASS at her job.


bw gif

All of these things make her one of the world’s top spies, but they’re not the reasons she’s my favorite Bad Girl. Natasha is a world class Bad Girl because:

1) She can be very patient and understanding, but she isn’t going to take a bunch of sh*t off anyone. Remember that time Happy was giving her a hard time about Booty Boot Camp, thought he knew it all and was going to show the secretary something? Yeah. That wasn’t gonna happen.


I would say poor Happy, but I think he enjoyed it.

2) Black Widow is dedicated, hard-working and refuses to give up on herself or the people she believes in (which are a select few, but still). Her loyalties are hard won, but once you have them, you have them. You may not realize that you have them, but that’s your problem, not hers. The words quit, give up, and surrender do not exist in her dictionary. Re-invent, Re-build, Survive. That’s her thing.

3) She’s independent AND a team player. This is why she’s an Avenger. Yes, she’s a master spy and assassin, and she can certainly have her own agenda, but she’s an Avenger because if she’s on your team, she’s going to get the job done. Remember that time she recruited The Hulk to join the Avengers? Remember that time she got Loki to spill his master plan? Remember that time she used the staff to close the portal and save the world? She’s a Bad Girl you want on your side.

black widow avengers

3) She’s learning to accept herself, good and bad, strengths and weaknesses, and it’s all of these things that make her HER. This is no small feat for a spy. Natasha can be whoever you want her to be, but her real identity is what lies underneath. Some of it’s pretty, some if it is ugly, but she’s figuring out who she is and learning to embrace it, as is every Bad Girl. Go watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but this time, watch it for Natasha’s character arc. You’ll see her goals of trust and true friendship, her motivation to do right by herself and those she considers friends, and the conflict of her past and the red in her ledger. She is the epitome of the complex widow cap2

4) She knows her taste, in style and men, and she rocks it. Be it smart business suits, slim-fit dresses, leather tactical suit, those cute wedge Nikes, long curly hair or sleek blunt cut, Natasha owns her looks. She looks amazing because she’s in great shape, but also because confidence is hot.natasha


Regarding the men..ohhhh she has a type. And boy do I approve of Natasha’s type! She likes them strong and lean, with shady pasts to match her own, but deep down they’re good men. They’re spies and assassins too, so they can relate to a woman like her. Her rumored list of relationships includes Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier. *the highest of fives on the amazing taste in hotties* MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS


Obligatory Winter Soldier/Bucky gif. Like you didn’t know I was gonna…

I’ll also toss in the fact that she’s now good buddies with Steve Rogers. Clearly, she’s got great taste.

All of this is why Black Widow is my favorite Bad Girl. Tell me what you think. 🙂


Changing How I Write…By Changing How I Type

On December 7, 2014, I typed the last word on my sixth full-length original manuscript. And with it, I typed my last word as untrained, hunt-and-peck typist.

That’s right. I’m a thirty-something published author with a graduate degree and an internet addiction, and up until two months ago, I typed like a complete and total idiot. Two fingers, pinkies for the shift keys only, and one thumb for the space bar. I typed millions of words like this.

You see, I grew up during a strange period in time, typing-education-wise. Personal computers were only just becoming common when I was in high school, but typewriters were pretty much a thing of the past. While my younger brother learned to type in a mandatory course he took in middle school, my sole opportunity to formally learn was in high school, and I was strongly encouraged not to take the elective ‘keyboarding’ course, because it would mess up my weighted average.

Because. You know. Learning actual life skills in high school when you could be cramming in another AP course would just be silly.

And credit where credit is due—I typed pretty decently, considering I typed so poorly. I could touch-type, barely glancing at the screen as I went, and when I timed myself, I was managing about sixty words per minute. I also sounded “like a machine gun firing” if you asked my husband, and I made insane numbers of errors I had to go back and clean up later. I skipped words, because my fingers couldn’t keep up with my brain. And at the end of a really long day, my knuckles ached.

So, staring down what I hope will be another thirty years of full-time writing and maybe another sixty novels, I decided it was finally time to bite the bullet and learn how to type.

Two problems: One, I was in the middle of a multi-book contract, so I needed to learn fast. Two, I knew how to type just well enough that it was going to be incredibly difficult to stick with typing properly and not revert to my old ways.

And so not only did I end up learning how to type all over again, I ended up deciding to learn how to type using an entirely different keyboard layout.

You see, the arrangement of the keys on a standard keyboard—known as QWERTY, for the letters that make up the top left row—isn’t the only arrangement out there. Many argue that QWERTY is actually an incredibly inefficient way to lay out the keys. Commonly used letters are relegated to the outskirts of the keyboard in hard to reach places, while uncommon ones like J and K end up right on the home row. Silly, right?

So in 1936, a man by the name of Dr. August Dvorak actually did some studies into how people type and how the English language works, and in partnership with his brother-in-law, he designed a keyboard layout that was optimized for faster, lower-strain typing. He placed all of the vowels on the home row under the left hand, and the most commonly used consonants in the home row under the right hand. His end result was something that looked like this:

dvorakCrazy, huh?

It never took off, because QWERTY was already entrenched as the industry standard, but it has developed a cult following over the years. My husband switched to Dvorak when he was in high school, and while he’s never been smug about it, he’s extolled its virtues more than once.

And so, after more than a decade of rolling my eyes at him, I figured why not give it a shot?

It’s been nearly eight weeks now since I started teaching myself this crazy technique, and there’s been one hell of a learning curve. The jury’s still out on whether or not it’s been worth it (I’ll check back in in another couple of months with an update about how it’s been going). But it’s been interesting going back to basics and changing how I do something so fundamental to my work. I wasn’t typing the way I was because it was the best way to type—I’d known from early on that it was one of the worst ways. It was just how I’d always done it. It was comfortable. Familiar. And dumb.

Makes me wonder what other things in my life I’ve been doing wrong all this time, and just how difficult it would be to try to change them…


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