Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Life can be crazy

So, life is crazy. It happens. There have been times that I've been asked on how do I keep it straight. There is no real answer to this. For me, it is just getting through what needs to be done. Between home obligations, kids schedules, volunteer stuff, and just plain surviving, it's hard to take time for you. Writing sometimes seems like a distant friend you want to get in touch with.

Through the years, I've tried many different things to get back on track. I would get frustrated when I didn't get done what I wanted to do, especially on the writing front (who doesn't get upset at that?). Writing is a process and sometimes rituals have to happen to get into the mood. It isn't easy especially when you like routine like myself. Sometimes it is hard for me to change gears, which can make my insides tighten and my eyes squint. My frustration level can rise well over 1,000.

The one thing I realized is you have to be flexible. Put forth your focus on what is needed right now then check and see where things can fit in. Now, I'm not a full time writer/author at this time so things could change if that ever happened, but I have to keep in mind what needs to be done now. I do make time for writing. Sure a room needs to be dusted or some laundry needs to be folded, but this scene isn't going to write itself so why not take some time to do it. Even a 1/2 hour. I sometimes write or work through tough spots while I'm waiting for the kids at their rock music lessons. It is loud, and sometimes I do bring my headphones, but I try to fill that time being productive the best way I can. It's a juggling act that is constantly changing.

We all know writing and publishing is a roller coaster, but we keep at it. Persistence. The thing is you don't want to miss life either. Plan out your day the best you can and be flexible if it doesn't all go your way. Chocolate always helps too!

How do you handle change?

Have a great day!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! The new year means reflection to me. Since September is more reflecting on goals, the new year is more of reflecting on me. My inner stuff. What makes me . . . me. I got into more of a slump at the end of the year with writing. Inspiration was lost and no writing was happening. Querying will do that, but I also had a hard time focusing on my characters. In fact, a new story surfaced, but my drive wasn't there. 

So, what am I doing to change it? Well, the manuscript that will have me forever stuck is still sitting, waiting for me to continue. Until the scene I need works it's way out of my brain, I'm going back to a very old manuscript that no one wants. I figure it will be a good exercise to work on something. And maybe it will allow new motivation to leak in. 

I'm actually plotting the new idea. Plotting before writing is foreign to me. It's uncomfortable, but I think for this story it is needed. The MC is a little shy, so I need to push her along. 

I'm also realizing where I fit. I'm beginning to think that my manuscripts may not be great material for the big houses. It's not that I've given up, it's just reality is slapping me in the face. I've been pushing for an agent for years with multiple manuscripts. I'm getting the hint that my stories are not for the big leagues. I'm regrouping and refocusing on where I should be in the publishing world. It's not easy, but I need to face reality. I've been writing forever, but focusing on writing to be published for nine years. There comes a point when you need to take a hint and refocus on where your material belongs. That's been the hardest lesson so far. 

I hope to blog more this year. I think it helps my brain. I've been a little hidden just because I'm trying to find my place again. I thought I knew, but I was mistaken. 

Anyway, what are your goals for you? Any news?

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Jumping back in and Behind the Song release day

Well, summer is disappearing and fall is filtering in. That means school is starting and my schedule finally gets back to normal. I do love being with my kids, but a schedule change is nice too.
It also means buckling down and getting some writing done. I'm still struggling on my fantasy. The thing is I don't have the heart to give it up. I like the darkness of it. It's a manuscript I work on here and there.

I do have some new ideas, but the characters seem a bit shy about showing me too much of who they are. This is what I should be focusing on. New stuff. The problem is my brain has other ideas. See below.

The one thing I will be tackling is a revision of a manuscript I wrote long ago. I can't get it out of my head, and once I figured out what the first chapter should be, I'm now hooked on making this book shine.  It has aliens, teen problems, and a little romance. Are some of those cliché? Probably, but you know what? I don't care. I'm writing this book for me. I have no intention of doing anything with it other than to use it to strengthen my writing skills. I need to work on something that has no rules because that is what keeps getting in the way. It keeps me questioning things and it brings on fear. This book is purely for me to have fun.

I started listening to the playlist I made for it way back when.  Here are some great tunes that fit this book.

-Letters from the Sky by Civil Twilight
-Panic Switch by Silversun Pickups
-I Will Follow You Into The Dark by Death Cab for Cutie
-Come Alive by Foo Fighters
-Knights of Cydonia by Muse
-No You Girls by Franz Ferdinand
-Tick Tick Boom by The Hives
-Get Free by The Vines
-Shadowplay by The Killers
-Mad World by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews

There's more but I think you get it. I need music to write. I've said it before that I have a playlist for every idea I have come up with. I'm not kidding. These songs are a little dated because that's when I started this manuscript. It actually feels good to play this list and the feelings come back again.

Another thing I'm excited for is this:

Behind the Song

It is edited by the lovely K.M. Walton. Who is awesome! Congrats Kate!
Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

A song to match everyone's heartbeat.
A soaring melody, a pulse-pounding beat, a touching lyric: Music takes a moment and makes it a memory. It’s a universal language that can capture love, heartbreak, loss, soul searching, and wing spreading—all in the span of a few notes. In Behind the Song, fourteen acclaimed young adult authors and musicians share short stories and personal essays inspired by the songs, the albums, the musicians who move them.
So cue up the playlist and crank the volume. This is an anthology you’ll want to experience on repeat.

There are so many amazing people in this anthology. It is released today! So go and get it!

So what are you reading?

What are you working on?

Have a great day!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Writing with monsters

Writing and pursuing publication takes time. A lot of time. The creativity for it is its own beast sometimes on its own schedule. At different stages of my process, I have different rituals to write. Some days it takes longer to get into. Throw life and kids in the mix and a swirling tornado of when can I sit and write twists at 200 mph. I've written for many years, but it wasn't until after my second monster was born, was when I started writing in pursuit of publication. When they were little, I thought oh I have no time to do this, but there are ways to fit it in.

First, make sure you are sleeping. My kids never did. Most of my plotting was done in my head as I lay awake on my son's floor wishing he would just sleep. I can't say it was good plotting, but it was turning the wheels. For me, this worked, but I would say if you need sleep, take the time to get some shut eye. You will be a happier person for it. I would also write if and when my kids napped, which was sparse. When did I get other stuff done? Well, my writing time on average was about a half an hour per day, if I was lucky.
When the monsters got to be in school full time some things changed. When I thought I would have more time, I was mistaken. I actually have less. Most of this is my fault. I started working part time and I volunteer a lot so my time has become choppy, and by night time, I'm exhausted. My advice is to make sure you can carve out some time. If it's early in the morning or a half an hour after dinner. Sometimes I write while making dinner. If you feel the creativity coming and the moment is there, write. I've even jotted down ideas in the middle of the airport because a new character whispered in my ear.
Also, my kids activities escalated. If I have to wait for them at one of their activities, I bring the work with me. Whether I'm editing, coming up with a new scene, or brainstorming, I do what I can while I wait. If you can spot when there is a moment of just you, take advantage, even if it's 15 minutes. It's progress.

Second, summer comes. I spend most of my week with my kiddos and part of the week working. In the summertime, adjustments to your schedule will have to be made. My kids do some camps, and we take some vacations, but I like to keep the kids busy. I don't want them on screens all day, so I try and plan out my week around things that need to be done around the house, what the kids are doing, and where the time can fit in. I work better in the morning so I give the kids some time to play with their toys or screens and I try to flesh out some scenes or edit. This does put me on a time limit, but something is moving along. It also does not happen everyday.

Finally, these are some tidbits per my schedule. Your schedule may be different than mine so not all of these recommendations will work for you. Step back or write down your week to see where writing can fit in. Also, try different times and see what works for you.

Lastly, don't be hard on yourself. Everyone is different and our needs are not the same. Kids grow up fast so make sure you soak in the time you have.  I'm just happy when something gets done.

How do you write with your kiddos?

Have a great day!

Friday, June 23, 2017

What to do with Fear

The one thing that trips me up while writing is fear. It comes in varying degrees. Sometimes it's easy to push away, and other times, it wraps its bony fingers around my neck and squeezes. The whole publishing world can be a frightful place. I always toy with--"Why on earth am I doing this?" Or- "Am I insane to keep putting myself through this torture?" These are common questions for anyone who embarks on this journey. I have calmed my constant desire to check my email and twitter feed because I realize crickets live there. Now, I will say, I have stepped back a little from these sparce places only to work more on my story words than any other, but all that is quiet means nothing is happening.

I try to not be the Debbie Downer. I've grown better at not letting rejections get to me. They are merely annoying now. It's more expected than not. I know, I'm not big on the confidence thing. I don't have a whole lot of faith in myself most of the time. I put a lot of this in perspective when I realize my sob stories are basically nothing compared to others. I've heard countless of really bad experiences that make me feel that my writing life is not all that horrible. The hope does come from the good experiences authors tell me they have. I guess that's why I keep submitting in the hopes that I get a little piece of that joy.

Fear is part of this hesitation. I write and all the voices in my head question and doubt on how this will not be any different than the last four. It's silly really. I try and just make it that I'm not writing for anyone but me. That no one will see this except in the long run, I know I will want to send it out and see what happens. I just have to jump over the hurdle of how horribly written it is now and keep polishing it.

So how do you do that? I don't have a definite answer. I'm always looking for advice on what to do when fear holds me back. I try to work on other things or type out a blog post to see where it will take me. :) There may not be an answer at all. It's all how the individual handles it. Some can move on quickly and others it will take longer. Maybe a variety in daily life or just surround yourself in support.

What are your thoughts on how fear affects your writing and daily life?

Have a great day!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Here comes summer

Hello again! It's been a while. Life gets crazy and schedules take over. You know what I mean. Summer is coming. I do like summer. A lot. Warmer weather is my thing. My writing time does get smaller due to entertaining the kiddos, but I'm going to try and figure out a way to keep up my pace. I'm getting back into that YA fantasy I mentioned way back. It still amazes me how long novels take. I started this one at least two years ago, but I'm getting back into it. A fantasy is new for me. I read them, but writing one has proved to be a challenge. I'm sure it will continue to be a little of a problem child. The one thing I love about it are my visuals. I am into creating Pinterest boards for my works in progress, and I'm hoping the inspiration pictures I have for this fantasy are reflected in the book. Especially the dark feeling. :) I just have to get through a major battle scene and I will have a full draft ready for revision.  My fear of writing it keeps holding me back though. Pesky fear always nagging my confidence. I will get there.

I'm trying to read some amazing books to fuel the inspiration for a battle scene. Somehow, my to be read pile grows every time I look at it.

Anyone have any great new YA fantasies they would like to recommend? Why not make my pile taller? :)

Have a great day!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Writing and rewriting then repeat

There is a point when writing a manuscript where you may think-- It's as far as I can go. It's finished. I can't tell you how many times I've have said this to myself, but let's just say, it's a ton. Manuscripts will get to the point where you can't look at them anymore. You may want to vomit or you might want to scratch your eyes out because you have read the words over and over and over and over again. And you might be certain that every sentence has perfect grammar, the voice and arc can't be any different, and the plot is solid. This too happens to me. To date, I've written many things and, well, have finished four manuscripts. I say finished quietly because are they ever finished?

Maybe. I guess it just depends on who reads it. There are times we are told to finish a manuscript to the point where you can't polish it up anymore. If you are lucky enough to get a professional's interest at this point, then there may be more changes and edits because that individual may see it with a more expert eye. Since most things are subjective in this business, the individual may also have their own personal opinion of what they would like to see for the manuscript to sell.

For the writer to see it, we have to put it away and learn more. In other words, this is determined by our skill level. Once we learn more, the manuscript may change in our eyes. This may require the writer to put the manuscript aside for a while, which can be frustrating. Well for me it is. I'm a little impatient. I want to continue to work on it till it is in the best possible shape. It has taken me years to even remotely understand that it can't always be that way.

For example, there is a manuscript I'm revising right now that I wrote at least four years ago. When I first completed it, I revised and revised then I queried it. I had some interest so I thought it must be decent. The outcome of the query trip didn't end in anything so I put it away. Recently, I took it out again for my critique group to check it out. Great points have been made to strengthen it and I'm even excited to be going through it again. What amazes me is there has been discussion on possibly rewriting the first half of the book to concentrate on a different aspect of the plot. Crazy, right? The strange thing about it is I'm open to it. The new thoughts intrigue me to want to take this on. I'm just hoping it would make the book even better than what it is. So what changed? Maybe I've learned more, have grown more, or maybe I'm able to see that my original thoughts were not the strongest. That maybe this new path is even better than what I had originally intended. Although, rewriting isn't what I was planning to do right now since I'm trying to write another project I started two years ago. I have to figure out how to juggle the two or what to concentrate on. But that's another blog post.

This is what writing is about--writing then rewriting. Growing stronger as not only a writer, but as a visionary. Thoughts morph into other ideas that strengthen the original blip in our imagination. You write till you think you have it then dive back in to polish the edges. The cycle continues on and on.

It leaves the question--when is a manuscript actually done? I guess that is up to the creator. If you get attention then maybe that is the deciding factor. If it doesn't catch a professional's eye, then it's up to the writer to decide if they have it in them to change it or not. It goes back to the writer and what their vision was in the first place and if that vision has changed or if it should change.

What are your thoughts? When do you think a manuscript is actually done?

Have a great day!!