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The Definition of a Hack

Some of my writing friends and I have been talking about what makes us hacks. After all, what writer hasn’t doubted herself at least once or twice in her writing career? I think Steven Pressfield sums it up beautifully below:

A hack, he [Robert McKee] says, is a writer who second-guesses his audience. When the hack sits down to work, he doesn’t ask himself what’s in his own heart. He asks what the market is looking for.

The hack condescends to his audience. He thinks he’s superior to them. The truth is, he’s scared to death of them or, more accurately, scared of being authentic in front of them, scared of writing what he really feels or believes, what he himself thinks is interesting. He’s afraid it won’t sell. So he tries to anticipate what the market (a telling word) wants, then gives it to them.

— from The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Therefore, I told my writing friends that as long as we’re writing something that sings to us, makes us really believes in it and allows us to be authentic, then we’re OK. :)


I :heart: 7-Eleven

I’m sure some of you are like “Why does she like 7-Eleven so much?”

The fact is I used to hate it when I was in the States. I didn’t start my love affair with 7-Eleven until I came to Japan.

So why does 7-Eleven rock so much?

  1. It’s open 24/7. It’s hard to find a convenience store chain open all the time where I am.
  2. It’s clean.
  3. 7-Eleven clerks rock. They’re always so friendly and courteous that it’s always pleasant to shop there.
  4. 7-Eleven has the best bento. When you buy a bento, they’ll heat it for you and give you a pair of chopsticks. An instant ready-to-eat inexpensive meal that tastes good. W00t!
  5. 7-Eleven has the best onigiri. Yum yum.
  6. Did I mention it’s sparkling clean? It’s utterly spotless. The floor is so shiny and clean that you can eat off of it.
  7. 7-Eleven has the awesomest selection of Häagen-Dazs ice cream. Nothing like rich ice cream for summer.

BTW — this only applies to 7-Eleven in Japan. I still don’t like the American version.


Thirteen Words I Like

I don’t think I’ve ever used them in my writing, but I like them anyway.

In no particular order:

  1. vermicular
  2. forlorn
  3. mansuetude
  4. indurate
  5. trichotillomania
  6. impuissant
  7. subreption
  8. attitudinize
  9. semelparous
  10. deglutition
  11. hibernaculum
  12. dégringolade
  13. apodictic

Sobering Look at Debt

The New York Times published an article titled “Given a Shovel, Americans Dig Deeper Into Debt”. I think everyone should read it. It’s a sobering look at what happens when you finance your lifestyle with credit cards and other debts.

However, before you read it, I must warn you that the article’s author is somewhat…financially illiterate. For example she wrote:

Household debt, including mortgages and credit cards, represents 19 percent of household assets, according to the Fed, compared with 13 percent in 1980.

I hate to say it, but “household debt, including mortgages and credit cards” cannot be called “assets”. They’re liabilities. Anything takes cash and/or other assets from you is a liability. And it sucks and must be avoided at all costs.

The article also comes with some videos. They’re very sad, but they don’t always illustrate exactly what is driving the engine of over-spending and over-consumption. The people featured have absolutely no savings or assets to fall back on. They’re living paycheck to paycheck, and they’re unable to do anything about it. That’s why even a minor disaster can hit them hard and push them into foreclosures and bankruptcies. The absolute tragedy of it all is that it’s not uncommon to see people like this in America.

One of the videos features an old lady who didn’t save any money because she wanted to give her children better clothes and so on. But she’s never given a thought about her financial future. I’m not sure if that was necessarily wise, although I’m sure her children appreciated the lifestyle she’s given them.

My parents were the exact opposite. My closet was woefully empty of pretty clothes. I think I had mostly jeans and t-shirts, and to be honest, I hated shopping for clothes because I knew I wouldn’t get the kind of stylish clothes my high school friends had. I also owned about four pairs of shoes. But right now, my parents own their home outright (they bought it in 1999) and have some savings to fall back on in case of emergency. They helped me pay for my college education, and with the financial aid and my summer jobs, I graduated without any college loans or credit card debt. They taught me the danger of relying on credit cards, and I wasn’t allowed to use mine except for the most extreme emergencies. They also taught me how to balance my check book, how to save and how to manage cash flow. Their mantra still is “hoarding cash or cash-generating assets is the best; borrowing is for the weak-willed”. They think that people who cannot delay gratification or deal with their emotions make poor purchasing decisions and use credit cards to buy non-cash-generating assets (meaning cars, clothes, shoes, handbags, etc.) they cannot afford in the first place.

Although I hated their extreme frugality when I was growing up, now I appreciate the fact that they taught me the value of money. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to survive this long as a non-income generating writer without the financial discipline they’d taught me. And after reading the article, I feel like I’m one of the rarest breed of American women who don’t get the therapeutic effect of shopping. I usually find shopping highly stressful because I see it as a cash-flowing-out-of-my-bank-account-and-I-feel-poor event.

How about you? What do you wish you knew about personal finance? Do you have any cool tips and tricks on how to manage money better?


Thirteen Things I Want to Do This July
  1. Finish The Last Slayer revision based on my conversation with Agent.
  2. Complete Devil Falls edit.
  3. Improve my flexibility and mobility (so that I don’t feel horrible neck pain).
  4. Buy myself a nice box of butter cookies from 7-11
  5. Exercise at least fifteen days out of the month.
  6. Get more sleep.
  7. Stop drinking Coke Zero and Aquarius.
  8. Drink more green tea.
  9. Read two new-to-me books.
  10. Say something nice to Hero Material.
  11. Call Mom before the month is over.
  12. Send an appreciation note / email to five people who make my life better.
  13. Select a gift for Japanese Teacher.

Not Going to RWA?

Disclaimer: I’m a member of Romance Divas, but not an admin or owner. Please note that the workshops are free and run by volunteers. Thanks.

The Romance Divas annual Not Going to Conference Conference will make you feel a bit less deprived! Amazing workshops, a star-studded guest list and awesome giveaways, all on the Diva forum! Don’t miss it!

Coordinated by Seeley deBorn!

Here’s a bit of a schedule update for the Q&As and Workshops…

Wednesday, July 30

Paula Guran, Editor, Juno Books
Q&A on Creating Kick a** Heroines

Laurie Rauch, Editor, Samhain Publishing
Workshop on What Happens After the Contract (aka Editors are People Too!)*

Thursday July 31

Joyce Hart, Hartline Literary
Q&A on Inspirational Romance Stories and the Inspy Market

Sandra Schwab, Historical Romance Author
Workshop on Historical Accuracy and Anachronisms

Friday, August 1

Yolanda Sfetsos, Author of Guarded by Stone
Q&A on Paranormal and Urban Fantasy World Building

Katie MacIver, KatieDidDesign
Workshop on Website Design and Color Selection

Saturday, August 2

Joey W. Hill, Erotica Author
Workshop on Plotting Erotica and Erotic Romance

Rhonda Stapleton, Editor and Author
Workshop on Style and Voice

Excited yet?
How about if I list some door prizes?

  • What Gwen said” mug donated by Gwen Hayes
  • 3-chapter critique of a YA by Simon Pulse author Rhonda Stapleton
  • 3-chapter critique of a YA, chick lit, or rom com by Golden Heart Finalist Amanda Brice
  • An ebook of your choice from Nell Dixon’s backlist
  • An ebook of either Second Sight (paranormal romance) or Dragons’ Choice (fantasy romance – dragon-shifters) from Debbie Mumford
  • Ten dollar Amazon gift certificate from Jodi Henley
  • Lush stuff from Seeley deBorne
  • e-book copy of Chasing Shadows from Erin Richards
  • Paperback copy of Iron Horse Rider OR Smiling Eyes from Adelle Laudan
  • Book thongs from Angeleque Ford
  • 3 chapter critique from Sela Carsen
  • winner’s choice of ebook copy of “Not Quite Dead” or “Heart of the Sea” by Sela Carson
  • e-book copy of HEATWAVE by Eden Bradley
  • e-book copy of BREAKING SKYE by Eden Bradley
  • a box of goodies, trade and paperbacks, bath products candles, etc… All for a fun and relaxing home spa day treat. courtesy of The Midnight Moon Cafe
  • 1 download each of Natasha Moore’s Samhain books, The Ride of Her Life and The Passion-Minded Professor
  • a copy of “Painted Soul” by Mary Quast
  • e-book copy of HER CINDERELLA COMPLEX by Jenna Bayley-Burke – Samhain
  • e-book copy of PAR FOR THE COURSE by Jenna Bayley-Burke – Samhain
  • e-book copy of FOUND by Jenna Bayley-Burke – Wild Rose Press
  • e-book copy of NIGHT OF INSPIRATION by Jenna Allen – Phaze
  • e-book copy of ON AGAIN by Jenna Allen – Phaze
  • $10 gc to Amazon from Kendal Corbitt
  • ebook Vampire Oracle: Harmony by MG Braden

Plus a lovely bar of wonderful Chagrin Valley hand made soap, Caramel Pralines jar candle, handmade jewelry, Tarot readings, a Lush box for European Divas/Dudes, a $10 fictionwise gc and much more!