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!!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Writing on a budget

I will say, I'm no expert in any of this, but I do watch my wallet. I do not make money from any of my written works at this point so I can't claim it as a job--technically. I do take it very seriously and hope, one day, I just might get paid. But for now, I'm simply working for the dream. I'm trying my hardest to challenge myself and hone my skills to become a stronger writer. Let's face it between day jobs and daily life, time can be limited. Some of the options can get pricey and we all know money doesn't grow on trees.
However, there are many opportunities out there that will challenge you and give you some great experiences as well as taking your writing a step further.

Critique groups--There are online critique groups or groups that meet in person. One of the best ways to find one in your area is to check out the SCBWI (this is for kid lit) website (https://www.scbwi.org/) and look up your geographic area. It will have a link to critique groups. Make sure you contact the members and get to know them before committing. Sometimes sending a sample piece to each other helps to see if the group is right for you. If you write adult or romance or something else entirely, do a search in your browser for groups that would fit what you are interested in.

Online critiques-- Try some seasoned sites that offer critiques or agent feedback.
Miss Snark's First Victim has many opportunities to get feedback on your work. Some events do have a fee but not all of them. http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/

Dianne Salerni http://diannesalerni.com/blog/ , Marcy Hatch http://mainewords.blogspot.com/ and Krystalyn Drown http://krysteybelle.blogspot.com/ offer First Impressions. You send them 350-400 words of your first page and they will give you a critique.

Workshops/online classes--These are a great way to strengthen your skills.
Adventures in Publishing have a great workshop every month for free. It's a five page workshop. You receive feedback from (2) published authors and make (3) rounds of revisions, then you will receive feedback from an agent. Make sure you follow the rules. http://www.1st5pageswritingworkshop.com/p/workshop-rules.html

Margie Lawson has some great online and on site classes that won't break the bank. https://www.margielawson.com/

Conferences--Conferences can get pricey. I do try to get to one every few years, but they can cost $100.00 or more. Recently, a conference has resurfaced that I enjoyed years ago from the comfort of my own home. WriteOnCon is an online conference that offers live discussions, seminars, forums, Q & A sessions with authors, agents, editors and publishers. All of it from the most comfortable chair you own along with a cup of tea and chocolate at your side. There is a small fee (under $20.00), but worth it. http://writeoncon.org/

Contests--There are some sites that organize great contests and writing opportunities throughout the year. Many of these have awesome prizes in the end (pitch opportunities, requests from agents, etc.)
Twitter is one that has many. #PITMAD is where you post a pitch and agents get to chose if they want to read more. #Pitchwars is similar. There are others and they happen at different times of the year so keep a close eye on your trends box.

Sun vs. Snow is another contest that is going on right now. For free. Agents get involved in this one as well. http://www.michelle4laughs.com/2016/12/announcing-sun-versus-snow-2017.html  Michelle also organizes other contests throughout the year so check out her site.

Write Club is another contest that happens once a year. Another no cost to you. Your piece will go through many rounds of feedback. Authors and agents get in on the action. http://www.dlhammons.com/p/write-club-2016.html

Retreats--Retreats can be great, but can get pricey. One idea is to simply get out of your house and go to a park and free write. If you have the means to travel somewhere else, go for it. This can help you see things another way. Different scenery can spark something creative.

If you can or really want to splurge, Highlights foundation puts on unworkshop retreats. These are usually on a weekend and you can get it for $99. a night. That includes lodging and food. You can write without interruption in a beautiful setting. Now, if you are not local to it, it will cost more to get there so keep that in mind. I haven't gone yet, but hope to try it one day. I'm saving my pennies. ;) They also offer amazing workshops, but again, you need to save up for those. https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/

This is only the tip of the iceberg. If you search online, you will find many more. As with any of these, research and check all of the credentials.  Make sure they are legitimate. Read reviews of past participants if you can find them. Research the organizers as well. It doesn't hurt.

Also keep in mind, writing is subjective. Feedback can be hard to take so you must learn how to see what is constructive and what is opinion. You know what is right for your story.

Does anyone have any other links to share? I'm sorry if I forgot any.

Have a great day!











Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Traveling the seas of publishing


For many of us writers becoming published is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The big catch. The prize is shiny and can be distracting. Once we start, it's not easy to understand the massive seas ahead. I have to say, it is one business not like any other.

Even though I've been writing casually for about 20 years, it wasn't until 7 years ago that I decided I wanted to take my writing one step further. I didn't know much in the beginning, but once on board, some holes poked through. And even today, I'm no expert.

There are things I see now that I never expected before. In fact, I was sort of shocked to hear about them. This most likely goes for all of the professional arts. If you're the creator, there is a sea of opportunity, but you never know what is under it or when a storm will brew. It's the unpredictable nature of it that can scare the pants off you.

Many of the stories we see are successes, which are awesome and those folks should be applauded. Once you're in the open ocean, you know how hard this is to come by. Writing the book is hard enough, but prepping a query and synopsis is like pouring salt into a wound. Once these are to your liking you send it out to agents if that is your path. There are other channels to go into if you chose, but the prep is pretty much the same. Other boats may forge ahead of you and that's okay. It's not easy to watch, but the respect is all the same.

The waiting is difficult. Let's face it, if you are shipwrecked, you are waiting for a sign of rescue. You have sent the message, but the bottle hasn't return. You can check the waves every minute, but it won't help. You need to distract yourself. Get off the usual routine (if you're not really stranded on a beautiful oasis, that means get off social media). Open your eyes and take a walk or visit somewhere new. Take in your surroundings and give your brain the chance to recharge. Don't allow the boat that passed you at the start hold you back. They may have hit a storm as well. Keep going forward and write something new or do something different like weaving palms to build yourself a house.

There will be many false hopes (rejections are never fun), but sometimes there will be a ray of sun through the clouds that may lead to something even better. It may be the lifeboat you are looking for or it may be a glimmer of what is to come. The request may not end up the way you hope, but it may be a sign to show you how far you have come and that something better is on it's way. It could be a cramped wooden fishing boat that will get the help you need to get off the island.

The point is--Publishing is only a small part in your journey to thrive. It is never the same for everyone. There is no right path. In today's world, there are so many different opportunities and avenues to take. You have to decide which one to pursue and even then the first one you think is right may not be for you. The thing is you must try and not ignore the other opportunities. Keep writing, and write for you. Grow and learn. Challenge yourself. Rejection is not failure. That is the hardest lesson to learn. We sometimes seek this acceptance by publishing approval. Writing is subjective. What you can't sell now, may sell in a few years from now. So, be you and write your heart out.

Happy New Year! Has it really been this long. One of my many goals this year is to blog a little more. Hopefully I'll do better, I've been a bad girl at that. I'm also going to focus more on my writing and challenge myself. My many years of rejection have set my path off track. It happens. It can happen a lot more than you like, but learning and growing from it is another focus for me in the year to come.

What is your biggest challenge in your writing journey?

Have a great day!!