Thoughts in the Writing House

Monday night: I’m sitting in my recliner watching some major league playoff baseball; the Dodgers versus the Nationals. Just letting myself relax after a hard day at work.

It feels weird to not have any writing to work on right now. It is a nice break, but I keep thinking that I am supposed to be doing something. Guess I am excited to get working on The Hard Way’s manuscript again.

Thursday: Next batch of edits came from my editor Michelle. I plan to jump into those over the weekend. Like I have said, it is a lot of work, but so cool to see how the clean up is really bringing the story out and making it shine. It also gives me a great opportunity to clarify ideas and fix the storyline that needs fine tuning.

Saturday: I am seeing the colors of the leaves changing and the cooler air of fall settling in. Gives me a beautiful view as I write. Sitting at my computer today with a comfortable feeling provided by an extra sweater. Love this time of year. Will continue to work on the edits as I enjoy a pumpkin spice coffee to keep me warm and comfortable.

Sunday: While watching a little NFL football, I read through the rest of manuscript showing all of the edits from Michelle. I worked through the suggested changes and either accepted them or rejected them. I’ll let it sit for the rest of the night and read through the manuscript a couple of times during the upcoming week to make sure the story line works and everything still sounds right.

The goal is to have this section revised and sent back to Michelle by the end of the month. I think it will be more than doable. It feels really good to be making progress.

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?

More Unfinished Buiness

I’ll begin his week’s post by introducing the treehouse image that I selected for it. This image will be used for the posts that update the status of my Writing House. This is the picture that came into my mind when I originally came up with the concept. I’m so glad that I found it for my blog. This clipart is free to use on public domain, but they ask to have a link back to their page. Here is the link. Treehouse Clip Art. I appreciate the sites out there that have clip art that you can just use. In return, I don’t mind giving credit where credit is due.

How did you like my book review last week?  I really enjoyed reading the book and writing the review. It was great to get some different material on my blog. It also provided a great opportunity to do research on what other authors in my genre are writing about and how they do it. I really like John Grisham’s writing in his adult novels, so reading his middle grade book for my first review was a bonus. I’m working on other middle grade and children’s book reviews for my blog, so keep an eye out for them on future Mondays.

We all have unfinished business and projects in our worlds. Projects we started and are just waiting to be finished. Sometimes we just can’t complete them when we start them. With out a firm set of directions, the path they are supposed to be on may take some time to reveal. Sometimes it isn’t about a lack of direction for the project, it may be just a lack of time or money that is holding our projects back.

Let’s see what is going on with projects in my Writing House.

> I continue to post blogs every Monday for the Monday Morning Blogs. Keeping up with that has kept me in the writing game over the summer while Sam and I are running our two kids to their travelling baseball games.

> I recently moved my blogspot posts over to my WordPress blog. I did it in response to a reference I made to one of those posts. I wanted to link those two posts together. After I moved and settled them in with my more recent posts, I came across six post drafts that I never finished. Most of them were part of a story I was creating and posting segments of each week. When I discovered draft posts it hit me, I have some unfinished business to deal with.

My plan is to check out what I posted so far. It might have a good base for a short story to write and submit. Or, I may need to continue to take it on the path it started on, since sections of it were published on the previous blog and the story may need to be completed for the reader.

> I’ve been reading and reviewing other middle grade and children’s books to get reviews done and put into the review format ahead of time. I am trying to make time for the big project in the house, editing The Hard Way.

I’ve been a little anxious about working on those edits for some reason.I want to work on them, but feel I’m not ready with the right type of time and energy to work on them. Do I feel this way because of the busy day to day life, or am I  procrastinating?

As I sat on the deck drinking chai yesterday morning, I thought about this very question. Working on those edits will be a big step forward for me and that project. My editor and I have to take our time and getting this book done right. It will be the foundation for the next two novels in my planned trilogy. The advice I have received from other authors is to just get started and take it in small bites. That way I won’t feel so overwhelmed and can start getting it done.

I think I will wait until the summer travelling baseball season is over. Then I will have more time available and maybe not feel so pressed. It is only two more weeks, so not too far off from now. I am afraid if I wait, something else will pop up that needs to be done and the writing gets pushed off again, to remain as another item on my unfinished business list.  My writing has been overrun by many things many times in my life. I need to accept that I’m not going to be able to control these things that come up in my life. I keep stressing myself out with trying to fix it and I may just have to find the patience to wait and the faith to know it will happen.

There is a time in life for everything. Just like my other writing ideas, it may not be their time yet.The perfectionist in me has to let go and be o.k. with just doing my best. My best is pretty good and it seems to be getting many things done so far. I need to take the advice of other authors. Just need to start working on those edits little by little. Have faith that it will get done and my goal to publish will come true. It just may take a little longer than planned. I guess that’s what they call being realistic.

A Girl is building her writing house

We finally wound up with a weekend the boys didn’t have any weekend baseball tournaments and I wasn’t on call for my day job. So, I took some vacation time, made it a long weekend, and we were able to get away from the day-to-day life in the city. As we got closer to the day we were going to leave, I was hoping the trip would help me rejuvenate and refocus my energies towards my writing.

Status of my writing this past week starts with baseball, baseball, baseball. Love the sport and to watch the boys play, but between that and some personnel changes at work, finding time to work on my WIP edits has been nearly impossible. I’m so excited to get working on them and not being able to is creating some additional stress.

I’m not the type of person who procrastinates on getting things done. I make a plan and  figure out a way to get it done. I thrive on making progress towards goals. For me to get started on this project, I seem to be looking for a good time with a lot of quality writing time. I have a feeling this approach is going to get me into trouble. I probably won’t find what I’m looking for. Normally I’m able to put that kind of time into my schedule here and there. I currently do this when I work on my blog or writing platform during my lunch breaks. At this point of my life it seems almost impossible to find enough of those times.

When I think about what is going on with me right now, I do have more responsibilities at work. My home life has some big changes coming soon. Most of which we weren’t planning on doing right now. Don’t worry, none of it is bad, just stressful because it is all coming to us at once. So again, my writing goes on the back burner as my energies are spent in other places.

It isn’t as if I didn’t write at all this weekend. I wrote a preliminary blog post for Monday Morning (this one that you are reading right now). And, I was working on an online writing workshop through one of my Facebook groups to improve the views and content of my WordPress site. I know the work put into it will help my writer’s platform for future marketing initiatives.

With all of that being said, the editing on my manuscript still is not getting done.

Most writers are not fortunate enough to be able to write as a full time career. Many are in the same boat that I am, having to write while working another job. Add family life on top of that and it makes me one busy person. There are many books and seminars on setting priorities and creating manageable plans to get tasks done. Sometimes creating and following those plans has worked for me. Then there are times like this when those plans just can’t fight off the challenges brought on by every day life. So, I wind up dropping that plan and start taking care of the immediate issues at hand.

Finding the time has been one of my biggest obstacles to get myself into my writing. As I have found out, it is a lot of work to write, market and publish a book. Putting  all of the pieces together to get the actual book published is only a part of it. Setting up and utilizing all of the tools and sites that social media has to offer for marketing is a job all by itself, for an author just trying to publish a book. Through the WordPress workshop I’m currently involved in, I’m getting some great information and some ideas on subjects I may want to try out on my blog. How about Middle Grade book reviews? Or, YA book reviews? Or, some thoughts and research on the issues facing young teens today? Another thing I’m adding to my list of writing projects is to start searching out those groups who work with middle grade and YA readers and start networking. It will not only help me get more ideas for my writing and blogging, but it will help me create a network with other authors who are writing in the genre I am.

All of the work is positive progress towards creating my book and writer’s platform. I need to remember there are a lot of pieces to this project and they all need my attention. It is like building what I will call a writing house. It may mean that I can’t get to the parts I want to get to right now, like painting the rooms or hanging the curtains. I may need to work on some of the other tasks that are not necessarily seen, but definitely add things to the foundation or structure of the house itself.

My original idea for today’s blog was going to be writing about the progress I made on editing my middle grade manuscript, The Hard Way. I was going to talk about the process and how I was working my way through it. That is not what happened here at all. This wound up being more of a journaling about why I can’t get to my editing project. It’s not meant to be a whining session, but a real life soul search for an answer to the question of why I can’t get a start on it. The answer I stumbled onto here is I have quite a few things going on in my life right now. Things that need to get done before my writing can be worked on and completed successfully. It’s an important conclusion for me to come to here. I can accept that’s just where I am right now. It tells me not getting to my edits is o.k. I know I’ll get there. It’s just where I am in the process of building my writing house.

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.

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!

A to Z blog summary

What a process! 26 blog entries. Each one starting with a different letter of the alphabet. Starting with airplane and ending with zero.

I learned a lot of information through the research part of the entries. I also determined that I like the creative writing part better than the research part. That’s why on some of the entries, I took the information I found researching and created a story to illustrate it. Like right now, I’m writing this off of the top of my head and it seems to just want to flow right out of me. I love my creative flow, when it is working for me.

Here is a listing of all twenty-six of the blog subjects for 2015.

Airplane, Baseball, Cotton Candy, Dog, Elephant, Fishing, Gladiolus, Hula Hoop, Igloo, Jumping Jacks, Krispy Kremes, Lilacs, Mystery, Nightingale, Overture, Pecan Pie, Quonset Hut, Road Runner, Seattle, Transistor Radio, Unicorn, Volleyball, Walnut Grove, Xanadu, Yo-Yo, and Zero.

The journey through the month was fun. I hoped to finish it all in May, but I think having it done on June 3rd isn’t bad for doing that and so many other things that kept me busy in my day-to-day life. Working a non writing full-time career, Sam and I running from one baseball game to another as we manage both Max and Mitch being on both a school ball team and a summer travelling team. It is what life should be about though. Full of fun experiences and memories. We’re having a great time with all of it.

I enjoyed this challenge. It really got the blood flowing in my mind and kept things hopping on my blog. Just like working on a writing project, this gave me something to write about everyday and get the creative juices going. With the subjects being different from what I may normally write about, it did bring  some new followers to my blog. For those of you that joined the journey, welcome and I hope you enjoy the ride.

My favorite blog posts in this A to Z Blog session were Lilacs because it reminded me of my Mom. It also started my thread about Lila and Sally which was continued in Unicorn. Walnut Grove gave me the background to one of my favorite shows growing up, Little House on the Prairie.

Hula Hoop is going to turn into a feature that I’m going to write about EclecticHoops my friend Jennifer Jensen’s company. She sells and makes custom hula hoops in California.

There was a lot of work put into this project. I was able to get it all done with a little time here and a little time there. It helped me to prioritize my writing in my day-to-day life. A lot of the writing took place during lunch breaks at work and at many different baseball fields. Thanks to my smart phone, I was able to put the posts together on the run.

Other project status updates – I have a few readers doing a read through on my manuscript called The Hard Way. Looking to have the feedback on it in July and then get it ready to publish in an e-book format sometime this fall.

And, A Matter of Words is the name of the book that my short story will be published in this fall. It will be in a book with 20-25 other short stories. I will be sure to put information on the blog about when it is published and how you can get a copy.

What is next for the blog? Maybe another short story developed in stages? Maybe some updates on the next novel project? We’ll just have to see how the creative flow moves me.