Writing House Status Update

Just when you think it sounds right, the next sentence comes along and then there is more work to do.

The editing process continued at the Writing House this week. Not only did I get the second read through done, but I spent some time reading the manuscript out loud. It really helped me to hear what it sounds like. After listening to my reading, I seem to be on the wordier side of life when it comes to writing. I think I may speak that way too.

The first ten chapters went back to Michelle this week and I’m looking forward to the next ten coming my way next week. I took a little break from writing to read a story that my friend’s daughter wrote and to take care of some other tasks around the house. It was a nice mini break to celebrate the completion of the first round of edits.

Over the weekend, I hosted our book club meeting on Saturday. We read South of Superior by Ellen Airgood. Great read. Very relatable for people who have visited the small towns and cities found on the coast of Lake Superior. It had mixed reviews in our group. And with our last day of fall baseball on Sunday, we had a full weekend around our home.

Each round of editing brings me one step closer to having it published! The editing process will continue into this week. Be sure to look for another progress update next Monday!

Back to the Writing House

Since last weekend, I’ve been working on a couple of formatting changes to my blog, including new categories and colors. Trying to give it a fresh look and clean it up a bit.

After some soul searching last week, I decided to jump back into my edits for my WIP, The Hard Way. My goal is to get the manuscript done and get the novel ready to publish. Lately, I have been spending a lot of time with the blog, which has been keeping me writing. However, I had a voice nagging in the back of my head asking, “when is it time to finish the novel?” I guess I can say that life got in the way, but that seems to happen to me when it comes to my own writing goals.  Maybe I’m scared of achieving my dream or maybe I’m waiting for the right moment to do it. I’m not sure. But I have decided that now it the time to make it happen.

Part of building this writing house is getting the novel done. Not only is it a goal of mine, but it is also a big milestone on my writing journey. I enjoy the writing that I do on my blog, but once my first book is out there, the writing house takes on a whole new look. We will then have to install bookcase in the house, for our own books.

I still plan to do a weekly post for #MondayBlogs and WordPress postaweek, but will be keeping things a little shorter for a while. Now on a weekly basis, I will have status updates on how my editing is going and what interesting things I’ve learned by doing it.

By taking two days of vacation from work and making a four day weekend out of it, I decided it would be the perfect time to get started. So, on Wednesday night after work, I cleaned off the writing desk to get ready to jump back into my Word file that holds the current version of The Hard Way

Thursday morning comes. After getting the kids off to school and Sam off to work, I took care of some things around the house so I could clear my plate to get started. After grabbing a cup of coffee, I sat down to my laptop and the system needed to do some updates. I sighed and decided to do them. One more hurdle to my starting my project. It took quite a while to get those updates done, must have had a lot of them to do. Finally the computer is ready. It is time to begin!

Are you ready to join me on this writing journey?

A Girl writes Mentoring a Dream

Happy Father’s Day to all of those special men in your world. I hope they got treated to the special day they deserve for all they do for us.

Along with working on this blog, I enjoyed the day with the fathers that mean the most to me yesterday. They are some of the most supportive people in my writing journey. Watching how they raised and are raising their kids has provided inspiration in my writing about kids and families.

In my first blog post this month, I mentioned the foundations of my first WIP Mentoring a Dream. When I think back to that Memorial Day weekend twenty-two years ago, I remember the drive I made on a cloudy day to get to Duluth, Minnesota. I had no plan other than getting out of town for the weekend. I was going to let the agenda create itself. All I really knew is that I was going to stay at a Bed and Breakfast, something I had always wanted to do.

Going away that weekend was my chance to think about what was important to me. My job and my life were both at a plateau and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. At the time, I worked for a college that included flight training as part of its curriculum. Through that part of the college, we offered kids programs to promote flying as a career. In my writing that weekend, I realized I wanted to be a part of that program and share the passion that I have for flying with them.

I really enjoy being around kids. It is fun to see what they are thinking. While I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher. I was turned away from it while I was in college because there were a surplus of teachers and no jobs available. I wound up getting an accounting degree and worked in a private college’s accounting department for years.

After I got back from my weekend, I wrote a short story about my experiences. That short story wound up jump starting my passion for creative writing again and made me want to write more. That was my inspiration to start the rough draft of what would become Mentoring a Dream.

Mentoring A Dream is an appropriate title for my first WIP. The story is about a woman who mentors a young girl in the world of aviation and ultimately learns something about herself along the way. Writing this manuscript helped me to realize my passion to help others get where they want to be. Finding ourselves through writing is a very common thing that happens. It is just another part of the Writing Journey.

Not only do I find passion in helping others, I am a natural problem solver. I use my creative thinking to find a way to make things happen. I see in myself as a person who wants others to be happy and I do everything in my power to help people get there, sometimes putting my own goals aside to make things happen for them. But the one thing that I need to remember is that I have quite a few of my own dreams to make happen. They are important too.

This year, with a little urging from Sam, I’m on the brink of making one of my dreams come true. With my constantly putting my dreams aside, it took me a long time to get to this point. As I am getting ready to work on the edits of my first to be published WIP, The Hard Way, I remember back to the day that I started this draft that I’m getting ready to edit. And now I’m taking the steps to get it published almost three and a half years later. Sometimes things happen when they are supposed to and they have to be waited for. I work really hard and do all the right things. Sometimes I think that will be enough for me to just get what I want when I want it. Not always the case.

It’s very exciting to see other authors that I have been getting to know in social media groups do the things that I want to do with my writing. I’ve been adding their books to my Goodreads list so I can start enjoying them as well. It is good motivation to keep working and get my project done, but it can also make the waiting even tougher. Now I understand the path they followed to get there. It can be a long one.

My hope for the books I write is that they make an impression on the younger reader. Not only for enjoyment of the book, but to help them make the hard life changing decisions they may face. Sometimes kids need to get information on their own and not be influenced by other kids their age that may not be making the best decisions. What a better way to do it than read it in a book with a character that they can relate to? I hope that the trilogy I’m currently writing for middle grade readers will do just that very thing.

Maybe one day Mentoring a Dream will come off of the shelf, be edited, and published. For now, it will remain the inspiration for my about to be published middle grade novel. There are many fond memories attached to it, but it will always be my first completed rough draft. And my first step in my dream to publish a novel.

A Girl becomes a Blogger

Blog? What even is a blog? When I first heard the word, it sounded made up to me. And me become a blogger? Didn’t know that would happen. Let’s see if I can find some information about it on Google to understand what it is all about.

After a basic online search, I found out that blogging is a fairly recent phenomenon in our history. Its creation came with the art of website development becoming more user friendly. According to Wikipedia, it was originally called a weblog by Jorn Barger on December 17, 1997. He used the term to describe the process of logging (posting) information on the web. He began his “logging” with daily entries on his blog, Robot Wisdom. He wrote a lot about James Joyce and artificial intelligence in those posts and his written works are almost all self published. Peter Merholz broke the word up into we and blog on the side bar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May of 1999 which is how it got known as just a blog.

The typical blog that one sees on the internet today evolved from what was known as an online diary. It was a webpage where people kept a running journal of their personal lives or a travel log for their trips. I think part of the origin goes back even before the computer, when that information was in more of a handwritten form found in a diary or journal. The entries contained in those books went from being written on paper to being typed in digitally on a computer.

People have been sharing their lives through writing for years. There are journals and letters dating back to the time when when writing was done on stone tablets and parchment paper created from animal skins. Most of that writing was not intended to be shared with many people other than an intended recipient, but some of it has been found and used to add other people’s experiences to our history. Blogs are a popular way to share our experiences with many people in real time. They are also an important writer and author’s tool to present their writing style to potential readers all over the world.

Ever heard of a vlog? What is the difference between that and a blog, I asked? Back to Wikipedia. They are both regularly updated websites or web pages typically run by a person or small group. A vlog is where the postings in the feed are primarily in video form. A blog has postings that are written in an informal or conversational style and posted as written posts.

There are many places online where one can set up a personal or author type blog. WordPress.com, Blogspot.com and Weebly.com  are just a few options. Once a person sets one up, they need to decide what they want to do with it. Is it just for their own personal writing? Is it going to be shared with a few friends? Or maybe with the world?

As an up and coming author, it became apparent that I was going to need to start writing a blog. Not only for honing the craft, but also to get my name and writing out there for the public to read. It is fine to journal and write for myself, but if I want to get a book published and be successful, I have to put my writing out there. Not only is the blog important for promoting my writing, but I also have to recruit other authors and readers to follow me on it. Just like I had to do with Facebook and Twitter. Most authors I have talked to say it takes a while to build the following from scratch. I have found that it also takes daily attention to make it happen.

At the beginning of 2016, I started my Monday Morning Blog posts. Not only has it been a fun and educational journey for me, it has also worked out well to get on a writing schedule for about 1000 words a week on something that is separate from my novel project. It has also enabled me to give my followers a weekly post to check out and read every Monday.

Many of my blog posts are a combination of creative writing and researched facts online. I often find it is fun to just start writing about something random and see where things go. I took a writing class in college many years ago that talked about Rush Writing. It is a writing method where you just start writing about whatever comes to your mind at the time. For me right now, I’m thinking about a calculator. So that would be my subject to write about. I’ll have to use that as a writing prompt someday. It is a great way to get the writing head warmed up and get some creative work done. By using that method, I have written some pretty neat things and when I have added them to my other writing, it has given those projects an extra boost.

Then there are the writing prompts I have used to get the creative juices flowing too. I actually used writing prompts as the subjects of my April 2016 blogs. They not only gave me something unique to write about each week, it also gave the readers a little different feel for what my blog can give to them. For one of them, I had no idea what I was going to write about and I just let the story role out onto the computer. It actually became a mini story of its own. You can check it out with this link, Writing Prompt #3 from April 18, 2016.

All of this blogging is in addition to working on my first novel that I’m planning to self publish by the end of this year. I also have two additional novels, one as a draft and one in idea/outline stage ready follow it to complete a trilogy. The blogging and recruiting followers on social media not only helps readers get to know me, it also paves a path to market my books on, once they are ready. It also keeps this soon to be published author very busy.

A Girl With a Dream to publish a book

Welcome to June!

Many years ago, I was a young girl with a dream. Now I’m a middle aged woman on the brink of having it realized. My first completed manuscript is coming back from my editor with the first round of edits this week. I can see myself taking another step closer to my dream, to publish a novel. And it is pretty exciting.

This girl has always been an avid reader. The Little House on the Prairie series and Nancy Drew mysteries were books always found on my book shelf. But there has always been a creative writer inside of me. I started writing in diaries with thoughts about a day in the life of a young girl growing up. Secrets about who I liked and what I thought about things that went on in school, only shared with the lined pages of that little book with the lock on the edge.  I still have those diaries in my hope chest. I can see them in my mind. One green, one red and one blue.

From writing in my diary, the creative writing evolved itself into silly stories that were caught in my imagination and needed to come out. Being at the time before computers became common for all to have, I wrote them down in three ringed notebooks or on pieces of notebook filler paper. I have a few of those saved in my writing archives.

In elementary school, we had units on creative writing during English and penmanship class. I have a packet of poems and thoughts about Christmas a teacher put together from one of my classes in my archives too. In another grade we learned how to write in a journal. Our teacher had us start with basic facts about ourselves. Who is your dad? What color is your house? What is the name of your pet? This question was a hard one for me to answer because at that time my family didn’t have a pet, so I would have to write that fact in my journal. Kind of made me feel sad, or I guess feel different from the other kids. Then our teacher would have us write about a place you visited with your family on vacation to give us all an idea that we could write about. Little did I know then these activities would become a part of the foundation for the writing that I do now.

Then came all of the research papers written in junior high and high school. I really enjoyed researching different people and learning about who they were and their role in history. I also love researching historical events and finding out why they happened. I remember getting into mythology, the gods and their functions in the myths. I even put together a family tree to follow who was related to who. Not as an assignment for school, but because I was keenly interested. Abraham Lincoln and Charles Lindbergh were and still are fascinating people to me, so I wrote school papers about them. I believe some of the Charles Lindbergh research I did brought to light an interest in aviation and ultimately obtaining a pilot’s license. It also intrigued me enough to go visit his family’s home in Little Falls, Minnesota.

When I look back on it, my novel writing really started with a short story that I wrote in 1994 about a weekend I spent at a Bed and Breakfast over Memorial Day weekend. It was a last minute decision to take the trip, which isn’t like me to do. My experiences from that weekend worked their way into a WIP I started called Mentoring a Dream. That story brought many things I was dealing with personally and professionally together into a story. It was about what I was doing with my life, things that I wanted to do and dreams of mine at that time, written through a character based on me. It was like I was figuring out who I was and where I wanted to be through writing. I’ll talk more about my Mentoring a Dream WIP later on this month.

All of these writing experiences have brought me to where I am today, working hard to make my dream of publishing a novel come true. It feels so good that achieving the goal is getting closer to actually happening.

Writing and publishing a novel is not an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. There is a lot of work involved. With all of the self publishing and promotion things added into the author’s work load these days, it isn’t just a writing journey anymore. Many publishers want to see an author platform and fan base before they will pick up a book to publish. So, building a social media presence has become a part of the writing journey an author must do to publish successfully, whether it is being published by someone else or self published. Add that to all of the hard work already done to write it and self edit it to get it ready to send it out to alpha and beta readers, it is a pretty heavy work load. Once it comes back from those readers, it gets polished up and sent out for a professional edit to tear it up and make it even better. This is where I’m currently at in my writing journey. When I get the suggestions back this week, I’ll clean it up and send it back for one more read through by my editor.

Now, I get to take a break, right? No. When a writer gets to a place where the story is finally working and readable, there is a cover design that has to be thought about and created. Until I started on the road to publish, I don’t think I was fully aware of all of the pieces that have to come together for the finished product, the actual book. I currently have a rough idea put together of what I want the cover to look like, but I may need a professional to come in and put that piece together for me.

It will be very satisfying to accomplish this goal. Working through each step of the process has given me a greater appreciation for all of the hard work it takes for an author to get a book published.

 

Sunday Morning

Happy First Day of Spring everyone! Follow me on my journey through Sunday Morning, the one that I experienced yesterday. I took the time to be in the moment. And it felt amazing.

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After coming back inside from a nice morning walk with our dog Maggie, I mixed up my favorite chai tea latte and heated it up. After the microwave beeped and took the cup from the microwave, I considered how quiet the house was with Sam and the boys still asleep. I looked over and saw Maggie standing in the kitchen staring at me, wondering what I was doing. I was leaning against the counter typing the start of this blog entry, while my chai sat there waiting for me. Happy Sunday morning!

After putting the finishing touches on baseball shopping yesterday, we were trying to designate today as a day off to catch up on rest and relaxation before starting another busy week with school and work. But this week brings the first day of baseball practice for both kids tomorrow. It will also be the start of our crazy schedule with both boys in high school ball and summer travelling! We’ll be following four teams again this year. We know that’s just part of being a baseball parent. And we love it!

When I think about my writing, I love the storytelling part. I’ve had a creative mind since I was a kid and would come up with many stories on the fly. I wish I would have either recorded or written some of those down, there’s probably some good material for a book in there somewhere. I also remember the two roles that I liked to have when we all played together; teacher and storyteller. I enjoy helping people succeed and can come up with some creative ways to do it. I know that I have a passion to teach and tried to pursue it, but life directed me a different way. My life path got me a Bachelor’s in Sociology, an Associate’s in Accounting and now has me working as a Flight Scheduler for my “day” job. You just never know where life will take you on your journey.

Still standing in my kitchen, I hear what sounds like coffee brewing. It’s a typical sound that would be heard in many kitchens in the morning. However, not in mine this morning. I have my chai and everyone else is asleep. Must be the sound of one of them in deep sleep then.

I look down into the doorway and there is Maggie, checking up on me again. Dogs are one of the most loyal pets that are out there. She has been in my life now for almost twelve and a half years. I met Sam a year and a half before I got her. I smile at her and get a low growl in return. O.k. she needs a little attention. So I pick up my chai and find a place in the house to sit with her.

Our house is in a bit of chaos due to a cable rewire project. We’re still sorting and purging things to make the new cable outlet position work out and to get our house in order. As all projects seem to take longer than expected, we’re hoping to have some order before baseball gets into full swing.

As Maggie and I are sitting on the floor, she keeps trying to get my attention away from my phone, which I’m typing this blog entry on right now. I decided to set my phone down and just hold her. It’s a good thing for her and for me. As I pet her she just snuggles into my body and I can feel a calm settling into me. When I stop petting her, she starts to lick my chin, to comfort me. Dogs have a great sense of when those kinds of things are needed by the ones that they love. Many writers have written about similar experiences with their pets when they are trying to get work done on their projects.

Once she falls asleep, I’m able to pick up my phone and write again. Is this kind of like multi tasking for a writer? We snuggle like this for about fifteen minutes. I don’t know if she was ready to get up or if I shifted my body, but she woke up and laid down next to me on the floor.

With life’s demands, it’s hard to get good writing time some days. I find myself with quiet moments like this where I can just write and get into a groove with it. Once everyone wakes up though, it becomes harder to get this kind of time. Thank goodness for mobile devices! I’m able to write on lunch breaks at work or even sitting at baseball fields during the kids’ warm ups. I know that people have and still do get it all done with good ole pen and paper. I’ll do that sometimes when I’m having a hard time getting started or in a pinch when the mobile or electronics aren’t available. But I do appreciate my mobile device even more for the time savings it provides and the freedom to write when I’m away from my laptop.

Sometimes my best creative times come when I’m doing something other than actually writing. Some solutions for plot issues have come to me when out walking the dog, taking a shower or washing the dishes. All times when I’m away from the computer or phone and have no paper to write on. I try to grab my writing notebook when I get back or have dried off and get those things written down as soon as I can. If I don’t, they will disappear into the sky outside of my head.

I love these quiet mornings for several reasons. They become a great time for me to write, to stop and smell the flowers and to hear the birds sing outside the window. I really liked to be in the moment with Maggie this morning, to take that deep breath and appreciate what I have to be grateful for. My family, my house, and my life.

The Hard Way – the editing step

The name of my first manuscript is currently titled The Hard Way. I’ve been struggling to take the step of having a professional editor look at it. I’ve been checking on different editing sites and Facebook pages to understand how much it will cost. I got a little overwhelmed with the fact that it might be a little out of my price range right now. Wanting to get to the publishing step of my journey, not being able to afford it made me consider whether I really needed to do it or not. I thought, the beta readers that I asked to read it for me should have given me adequate feedback, right? Coming back to the fact that it should be done, I started spinning my wheels to come up with a way to get the money put together for it. With all of the family expenses we have, I wasn’t seeing it to even be possible until our youngest son graduates from high school in three years. This potential road block on my journey to publish a novel has been really upsetting me a lot lately.

By checking out different writing sites, Facebook groups and author pages, I’ve been trying to figure out how I would go about finding the right editor. I want to find one that I can build a relationship with, and not someone who is going to do a onetime read for me and then leave the scene. I know that I’m looking for an editor that works in my genre of YA/Middle Grade. They will be knowledgeable about how the story should read and what is required for the audience that I’m ultimately trying to get my book out to.

After thinking about how important my publishing goal is to me, I took a big step yesterday and started searching for an editor to see if I could make this work. Being a writer with aspirations of publishing a book someday, I wanted to take the right steps to get this done. Many published authors talk about how important it is to have an editor involved in your work. If it is the right person, they are able to collaborate with you to produce a successful book for the readers. The trained second set of eyes can see a lot of things the writer can’t see, like ideas or information that may be missing from the flow of the story. I realize how important it is to have those trained set of eyes on the manuscript before it becomes a book and goes out into the world to the reader.

Yesterday when I started my search, I noticed that some editors offered a free read through and critique of a few pages to provide the writer with a sample of how they edit. I think that this could be a good way to interview an editor. I looked through one of my Facebook Writing Groups and found a YA/Middle Grade editor that I decided to contact. Sending the initial e-mail set the process in motion. I e-mailed back and forth with her and it seemed to be going as expected. I sent her what she required from my manuscript for her to take a look and see what kind and how much editing it may need, in her professional opinion. I’m excited to hear what she has to say. Maybe a little scared too. But it feels good to make that step, a step I needed to take to move my project forward.

I’m sure there are things that will need to be changed and or cut out to make the story cleaner for the reader. A little anxiety wells up when I think about how much of the story the editor thinks doesn’t need to be there, but I feel that it is important to be included. I saw all of the work it took to get the story on the page, but I have to remember that the editor is going to have a good idea about how it should go. These conflicting feelings are a normal part of the process that all writers go through when they send their stories out to be edited.

To make myself vulnerable and put my work out for the masses to see has definitely taken some courage to do. I started with a few friends and had them read my story, which wasn’t too hard for me. We got together for coffee and they gave me their thoughts. Then I decided to present it to my book club for our monthly club selection. I felt a little more anxious about doing that one. They commented and critiqued it during our book club meeting and that was a bit intimidating. But I’m so glad that I did it. Now I’m working on finding a professional editor critique it for me, which is a bigger step than the other editing and feedback opportunities, but those opportunities gave me some experience going into this one.

I got to the point with my own self editing that if I read it again, I either wouldn’t be able to see anything more to change, or I would make too many revisions to things that didn’t need to be changed. In my case, the editor is going to bring objectivity and knowledge about getting a book ready for publication, which is what I need at this stage in the process. I’ve heard that writers must develop a thick skin to accept the critiques and rejections that are received from the editors and critics. But those are usually offset by the readers who love and enjoy the story. Not everyone is going to like what we create, but it must put out there if we want the story to be heard.

I was originally planning to post a segment of my WIP for the blog today. Now I think I’ll wait until I’ve had an editor take a good look at it!