Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

How was your week?  Mine was a little strange in that a water main break caused my day job to be closed for two days.  I spent time writing and cleaning!

I did a good job meeting my goals last week and wrote every day except for one.  Abby said she was pretty successful as well!

Here are my goals for this next week:
1.  Write every day.
2.  Continue working through the assignments for the synopsis workshop.
3.  Finish the moonlight ride scene.
4.  Sort through and organize the scenes for which I have pieces/sections written, so I have a good idea of what I have and what I still need.
5.  Read through DIYMFA--order books from library!

Several things about my goals that may interest some of you.  Goal number two refers to C. J. Redwine's online synopsis workshop.  You can find out about it here.  It is great!  I recommend it, so if she offers it again--sign up!  I'm taking her query workshop, which starts tomorrow.  I've also purchased her book about writing queries, The Query Handbook.  It is very useful and I'm looking forward to the workshop.  Hint:  There's probably still time to sign up for the workshop if you're reading this late Sunday or early Monday, so get going!

Goal number five is about this very cool site I just discovered called DIYMFA or Do It Yourself MFA.  What I've read so far makes sense to me, so I've signed up for their newsletter and the introductory kit.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

I would like to work further through the moonlight ride scene tonight, so I'd better going.  How did your goals go this week?  Some weeks it seems as if meeting them is an easy thing to do, and some weeks it feels like slogging through the mud.  Here's to this being a non-mud slogging week for us all!

Write on!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I'm back!

Yes, I realize it's been more than a year since I last wrote a post on this blog.  And, I don't really have any explanation other than things happen, and you do what you can. 

Some of the things that have happened include my car being wrecked and declared totaled by the insurance company, searching for and purchasing another car (VERY unexpected expense!), major changes at my day job, our sweet dog Boomer suddenly getting sick, having surgery and unexpectedly dying--all within a week.  And, yes, those events all happened with the first six months of 2012.

But, it is now 2013 and I've been rethinking what to do with my blog.  In the midst of all the upheaval in my life, I've spent much time thinking and praying about my writing.  Is this what I'm really supposed to do with my talents and my time?  I believe the answer is "Yes." 

Along those lines, the novel I've been writing, which was drafted out, but still in need of rounds of revision, has changed.  I believe the changes are what the story truly wants to be, but, at times, I lost sight of that and could only see how much more work lies ahead.  Well, I'm letting that go.  I'm going to follow where this story needs to move and do my best to keep my mind away from the calendar.

So what does all this self-knowledge mean?  It means I'm trying something different on my blog for a while.  For the next few months I'm going to be posting weekly and the posts will include information about what I've been reading or books I've heard about, but the main point will be my weekly goals. 

For a while, a co-worker, Abby, who is also a writer, and I have been exchanging weekly goals.  We email them to each other on Fridays, and usually include a little about why we set that goal or how we did on the previous week's goals.  I must admit that some weeks I haven't been too successful, but the actual practice of writing out my goals and sending them to someone meant I had to think about what I wanted to accomplish and break down the steps to get there.

Then, this past week I received my pre-ordered copy of Michael Nobbs' new book, Drawing Your Life.  I read his blog and follow him on twitter, and I recommend his book.  One of the points he makes (well, it's what I got out of it!) is that we don't have to look at the huge goal; we can achieve our goal one page a time, one word at a time.  I knew this, but I'm working to remember that I can achieve my goal of being the best writer, the best artist, I can be by taking one step at time.

Here are my goals for this week:

1.  Write every day.
2.  Go through my previous notes and put together the pieces and sections I have already written to complete the moonlight ride scene.

Yes, I realize these goals are not huge, but, so far I've been able to meet them.  I'll let you know next Friday or Saturday how I did.  And, I'll post my new goals.

How was 2012 for you?  How has 2013 been so far?  What about your goals?  Do you have any you want to share? 

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

First, I can't believe that it's already New Year's Eve.  This past year has been a whirlwind of events, experiences, and growth.  And, I'm looking forward to 2012, and not only because I prefer the even numbered years to the odd numbered ones.  Yeah, I know, that isn't really logical, but it's the fact.

Many, well, most of the blogs I read are talking about making resolutions, and I'm not going to repeat all that.  But, I am curious, do you make resolutions?  I make what I like to think of as course corrections because they are more reflections of what's working and what's not rather than an all out resolution.  I like making them now and I also do the same thing at the end of the school year in June and at the beginning of the school year in August.  I feel like those time frames give me enough time to really know what's working and what I've just not put enough effort in for it to be successful.

Also, this year I'm going to choose a word for the year, or at least for the first six months (until my June course correction!).  I was thinking of LISTEN, but I still haven't decided.  Are you choosing a word?  If so, what is your word?

One thing I want to do more of in 2012 is be more aware of all the blessings and gifts around me.  I'm working on concrete ways to implement this practice.  After all, they say you have to do something for 21 days before it becomes a habit.

My prayer for you is that 2012 will be the year you learn how to weave your talents, abilities, gifts, and creativity into your life in amazing and miraculous ways.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Conferences and such

This time last week I was reflecting on everything I heard and learned at the Tri-Region SCBWI conference in Gettysburg.  It was amazing!  One thing that was very cool was the fact that over the last few years I've made friends at these conferences.  Now, it is true that I don't get to see these friends very often, but our love of writing, and probably our shared frustration regarding our writing that at times we all experience, makes it easy to pick up where our last conversation ended.  These are the people who understand how much I care about my characters, and who know how far my story has come--and improved!

And, since I've already marked my calendar for the Spring WPASCBWI Retreat, I know when I'll see many of these writing friends again.  I also found out more information about another conference I want to attend, so I'm working on getting a submission together for that.

Oh, and did I mention I spent more money than I'd planned buying books!

The past few weeks have been hectic because of complications around my day job, and while those complications are still present, I have come up with better ways (I hope!) of dealing with them; therefore, I plan to get back on track with my postings as we move into the holiday season.  So, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I want to share how thankful I am  for all of you who have encouraged me in my writing, especially my sweet husband.  Most of all, I am thankful to God for the stories He's given me, and I hope the next few months find me being a good steward of those stories, as well as of all the other gifts He's given me.

Happy Thanksgiving!  What are you thankful for?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How being a writer can help when you get a parking ticket

This semester I'm taking a graduate class in connection with my day job.  The class is tough, but the challenge is exciting and I may write about that in another post, but all you need to know for this post is that I'm taking the class at a downtown/city campus. 

On the first night of my class, I was nervous.  I wasn't sure about the class or where to park or who would be in the class or where to park.  You get the idea.

I left my day job with plenty of time to get to my class and pick up my parking pass, then proceed to one of the parking lots.  Well, I thought I had plenty of time. I parked, legally at that time of day, in the only space I could find, and took off to get my parking pass.  I followed the sign to the parking department, but found out that it had moved to another building since the last time I took a grad class, so I lost some time finding the right building.  Then, I found out that there was a problem with something in the building that houses the parking office, which meant I was directed to another location to pick up my pass.  When I arrived there, I was told that the building was open for people who needed the pass I needed, so I went back to the building.  As I opened the front door, I met a large group of workman coming out.  One of the men told me that the building was closed again to everyone for the next 30 minutes.

Since my class was starting in less than 30 minutes, I gave up and walked back to my car.  I turned the corner of the street where my car was parked just in time to see a parking office from the city, not the university, putting a ticket on my car. 

I grabbed the ticket off my windshield and drove to find another, legal at this time of day, parking space.  I drove around, turned around, drove back, but couldn't find any legal parking places with vacancies.

By this time, my class had started.

Now, you may be thinking, okay, fine, but what's the writer bit and how did that help?  Well, as I drove, my brain starting going.  I played out the whole story of what if I drove around for the next hour, ( I had plenty of gas), and found a parking place when everyone was leaving their classes.  Then, I'd run in to my class, only to meet everyone leaving.  What would happen next?  Would the professor talk to me or expunge my name from the class roster?

Then, I started noticing how many other people had tickets on their cars.  Unlike me, they'd just left their cars where they were without worrying about the ticket.  I wondered about those people and wondered if they did this every week.  Did they ever pay their tickets?  Did some of them owe the city thousands of dollars?  Could I make a citizen's arrest and get a reward that would be big enough to pay for my ticket?

My point is that every time I followed this line of imagining, I started to laugh.  Which was better than the few moments of weeping I had when I first started driving around with the parking ticket on the passenger's seat next to me.

Just when I had almost given up and was onto a story of how great it would be to have super powers and be able to pick up my car and put it in a parking space, I saw a deck for visitors that still had vacancies.  I parked and ran to my class.

My late arrival is another adventure, but I'm still enrolled in the class.

Once I reached home and told my husband of my adventures, he added another idea to my creative fire.  He thinks that the city police mark this week down as a huge money maker week and that they just wait for people like me who are starting classes and are clueless about where to park.  I made a few notes that night about potential stories with lurking parking officers and magical parking lots.  I'll probably never use those notes, but who knows.

What I do know is that being a writer helps me keep events in my life in perspective. 

What about you?  How does being a writer affect your every day interactions?  For example, raise your hand if you keep notes of phrases or comments you hear?  (Mine is raised!)  Let me know.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflections on September 11

Rachel Gardner challenged her blog readers to post their 9-11 memories/thoughts in 100 words or less.  I hadn't planned on writing about September 11 because it seemed to me that so many others had so much more to write about the events than I did.  However, after reading her blog, and after reading Maureen Johnson's post  I started thinking.  And writing.  So, here are the thoughts that came to me.

September 11, 2001, found me teaching senior English to a small group of high school students in a school where my husband of less than six months also worked.  We heard that something had happened when a student shared what she’d heard as she signed late in at the office.   Since we had televisions in our rooms and they were connected to cable,  we turned on a channel to check out what was happening.  At the time, I agreed to turn on the television because I thought there'd be nothing going on, and that drop the subject so we could get back to class work.  

I was wrong.  We watched, and watched.  None of us really said anything.  It was one of the student’s birthday, and his mom had sent cupcakes via another student.  We’d already each taken one, but as the period (100 minutes long) and news coverage continued, we ate all the cupcakes.

All of us got through that day, and at 3:00 p.m., we went home to watch the reports of everything that had happened and was still happening.

For days, afterwards, I insisted that we sleep with the television tuned to CNN or the radio on NPR, the volume very low, while we slept.  Somehow I thought that if something else happened, even in my sleep, I’d be able to tell the difference in the coverage and wake up so I would know about it.

That’s one thing that got to me; the need to know what was going on, what was happening.  Being in a classroom all day is very isolating as far as world events goes.

I was also very thankful that my family members were all safe.

My niece was in first grade, and her teachers did a magnificent job of keeping all their students calm and ignorant of what went on during the day of September 11, so that the children’s parents could explain things to them once they were home that evening.  My sister-in-law walked my niece to school on September 12 and was telling her something like, “You might hear some things today, that some bad people did some things and hurt people.  We’re sad about that, but you’re safe and we’re all safe, so you don’t have to worry.”

My niece’s response?  “Why didn’t the bad people’s mommies and daddies do something to stop them?”

I've thought about that a lot since then.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How time flies, and other things. . .

Yes, so much for my "I will post at least three times a week" plan.  My only defense is that I've been reading and writing as well as starting back to work at my day job.  And yes, I have been following the WFMAD challenge.  Have you?  If not, check out Laurie Halse Anderson's blog.  You could always start in September.

Also, I've been mourning the demise of Borders.  My favorite Borders store had survived the most recent round of closings, and I was relieved.  Then, the final death knell announcement broke about all the stores closing.  I know it's only a store, but it was MY Borders store.  Based on my research, there is one bookstore within a 45 minutes drive from my house.  There are no locally owned bookstores located less than an hour from me.  Sad.

Now, let's move on a happier topic.  What have I been reading?  Listed below are two of the books along with my reactions:

Divergent by Veronica Roth
I LOVE this book!  At first, I resisted reading it--even though the concept intrigued me and from reading her blog, I liked the author's writing.  The reason I resisted was that I just wasn't sure I was ready for another dystopian novel.  I became so caught up in the Hunger Games trilogy that I thought of the characters throughout the day, and I went through withdrawal at the end of The Passage because the next book isn't schedule for soooooo long;  let me just say that I didn't want to go through any of that again.  But, like I said, I was intrigued, so I read. . .and read. . .and read. . .and read.  I read the entire book one evening when I should have been washing clothes and getting to bed early.

And I didn't/don't regret a single minute of lost sleep.  (I washed clothes the next night, so I did not wear dirty clothes!)

The whole idea of this society has me thinking about all that could go on in the next book.  I believe in and care about Tris and Four; I can't wait to find out what happens next.  Also, I believe in Veronica Roth's vision and writing so I have no fears she will let me down in the upcoming books of this trilogy.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
First, let me state that in high school, I was never one of those girls who read romance novels.  My cousins were and happily shared their books, and I read, oh, maybe one, and then just took their books and returned them, unread.  I read mysteries, horror, Greek myths, and a million other things.  I'd read good reviews of Hourglass, but thought maybe it wasn't for me.  But, I picked up a copy and. . .was hooked.  The whole time travel aspect kept me interested, and yes, the romance worked.  I loved the details about the setting and the food (yes, I kept wanting Cuban coffee) in the story.

I am in the process of reading the following books:

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Imaginary Girls

NOTE:  Yes, I am one of those people who read MANY books at one time.

Books I'm eagerly waiting to read:

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab  (Just received my copy in the mail.  It is my reward for this week, because not only am I back at my day job, I'm also starting a class relating to my day job.)

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson  (I've pre-ordered my copy from Books of Wonder and am hoping it will arrive BEFORE the September 29 release date.)

Downpour by Kat Richarson  (It shows how I've only been doing the limited survival type things lately because this book was released at the beginning of the month and I haven't gotten around to buying/ordering my copy yet.)

Okay, so that's what I've been reading.  What I've been writing will have to wait until my next post.  What are you reading?  What have you read this summer that you would recommend?  Let me know.  Until next time---READ ON!