Friday, January 13, 2017

Remember when we were young and impressionable...

...and had all sorts of ideas of how long it takes to do anything.

So, if any writers who haave been doing the work for longer than I have ever stumble across this page, I'm sure they'd get quite a laugh out of my timeline assumptions posted here. I always feel like I'm padding my dates so well when I offer a deadline, but the truth is I take such a zig-zag approach to my work that estimating timelines is like throwing rocks at the moon.

It's not really just that the work takes longer than I think (though, it often does, because I'm methodical and obsessive  - and honestly, slow). It's that I also have this problem where I want to do everything all of the time. I want to travel this year, and I want to have my garden again now that my back is in better shape (thank you, 8 months of physical therapy) and I want to run and climb rocks and spend all of my time with my ever-more-interesting soon-to-be-7-year-old. But I'm also a writer.

I know this now. I know this now more than ever because I recently dove back into the work of quality assurance for a part-time gig to add to my travel fund (because part of doing everything is figuring out how to pay for it), and the experience has done well to remind me I am 100% writer and there's no going back now that I've had a bite of that apple.

So, taking on part-time work, volunteering with the PTA, running and doing crazy workouts in my basement, freelancing for friends and feeding my artist-self - it all takes time.

Here are the things I have done:
1. Finished reading one book already this year (and book 2 will be done by the end of this week)
2. Got that tattoo I promised (she's beautiful - I have another session coming up in March that I'm chomping at the bit to get to)
3. Signed up for my first writers' conference
4. Continued to JukePop my work (with the exception of November, when life stuff got the best of me)
5. Gotten back into comic books
6. Started planning a 6-week long trip with my daughter for this Summer
7. Started mapping the historical fiction piece for the coming year's work
8. Promised myself that Valentine's Resolution will be submitted to a publisher this year (OR BUST!)

Next things to do:
1. Get business cards (Betty Chestnut: Girl Boss has a nice ring to it)
2. Make that money to do those things - also, stop part-time gig in April for travel season
3. Start cooking again, cripes there's too much takeout in my life
4. Start working with my local adult literacy program THIS YEAR (I completed training in October and I should be getting my assignment any day now!)
5. Redo my cover art/name/etc

I hesitate to even type this, because I just admitted to my awful timeline problems, and clearly I am not doing much to make that easier on myself, but I did some math and I have ~24 chapters left to post on JP (that means I've hit the halfway point after today). If I can post 4 chapters a week, I'll have a full book up there in 6 weeks. Not too shabby. Realistically that means it'll probably be 12 weeks and then I'll have to start the tedious work of final revisions and formatting for submission, but hey progress is progress.

Alright, now that I'm frantic about being so far behind I'll never catch up, I guess I'd better get that chapter posted for today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Vacation Can't Last Forever

I went away. I went to Italy with my partner-in-crime and spent 11 beautiful days celebrating love and life and circumstances. It really was that simpe. Every day was gentle and kind, even as we tried to navigate public transit in a number of territories where very few people spoke English. We ate and and held hands and explored together. There's no real way to share just how much it meant to me in a condensed paragraph, but that's what I'm doing, because this post is not about my travels through Italy.

It is, however, about something that happened one day while I was sitting down for a nice long lunch in Rome. As I sipped on a glass of red wine and settled back to enjoy the perfect breeze, I had a euphoric moment of anticipation. I could not wait to come back home and write again. This time last year was a huge deal for me as my kid started school, providing me with actual quiet time to work. I felt like the my days were suddenly filled with possibility. I started reading. I tried to implement a running routine. I stopped blogging simple word counts and started really acknowledging my identity as a writer. It was amazing for about a month because I suddenly could do the things I wanted to do. And then I had to go through the struggle of figuring out what that looked like. I delayed finding my way there until the beginning of this year when I developed the routine that worked for me. So, on a sunny day in Rome two weeks ago, I was flooded with excitement at the thought of starting the 'back-to-school' season when my routine already known and a first draft with a media outlet for exposure. I have never in my life been so happy to return to work.

I spent the Summer getting the first act of my book onto Jukepop. A venture that has been both wonderful and detrimental to my newfound identity. I love reading other Writers as they take the leap and put their work out into the world, and I really am working to build a social network that genuinely embraces people like me. I still have not found the balance of generating my own content and reading the works of others, but I am happy to keep working at it until I get there. I will get there.

Initially I found myself obsessively checking my status on Jukepop to see if I made the top 30. And I did. I made the top 5 - twice. June and July were a bit much as I digested the idea that people were actually reading (and enjoying?!) my work. Then I had to work through my reaction of receiving criticism, and the what-if of how to handle the someday reception of my first truly negative feedback. Then I decided to find a good Therapist to make sure that I have the tools to handle the level of public visibility that I am planning to take on this Fall. I realize that pandering to my neurotic psyche is not especially glamorous or original, but I feel like I am at a point in my life when self-destruction just is not going to work anymore for dealing with those less than stellar feelings surrounding self-worth and failure. Now Jukepop has (almost) comfortably become a tool for building my platform and getting ready for the next steps.

As for what those next steps are, I anticipate another draft revision before the end of the year. I would like to buff and shine Valentine's Resolution for query and submission by November at the latest. While I do that work, I am going to try to figure out the Wonderland of juggling more than one project at a time. I have had an historical fiction series novel on the backburner of my brain for a year now and I have to start planning it or I will burst. On top of that, I would like to start down a more structured education path, starting with Holly Lisle's course on flash fiction and moving toward Coursera for the Spring semester.

So I am still doing this crazy writing thing, and I am not bored or defeated yet. This is promising.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

JukePop Serial Publishing is Go

It has been a ridiculously busy start to Summer, so this will have to be short, but Valentine's Resolution is officially accepted on JukePop. So now, my dear blog, it's time for some self-promotion. If you happen upon this little site of mine, I would be eternally grateful if you were to click here and read the work that I've done. I would probably become incontinent if you liked it and continued reading. Seriously, I've been the most excitable fool about this whole new step in what feels like the right direction.

This week marks a freelance project for a friend and trip to Boston with three of the most beautiful souls I know, and then I'll be back to hit the pavement and do the work and find a way to help people find me.

Friday, April 15, 2016

I finished the book - like 3 weeks ago?

Yes, I finished the book.

I am the world's worst blogger. It's a good thing I don't put much stake in that identity. I used to love journaling and sharing my journalings. I put a solid five years of daily ramblings on LJ (remember LJ?). I still spend a lot of time in my head, thinking of what I would tell the world if I was sharing my thoughts with the interwebs. I even sit down in front of this computer ever few months with a real intention of making a path into that journal life once more. The reason that I struggle so much when it comes time to write those thoughts down? I have a few theories.

1. Chaos

My life is chaos. I realize that the human experience revolves around making sense of the chaos of daily life, and so most people who read that will think I'm being generically philosophical. I'm not. I mean it in a very quantifiable way. When I interact with people who don't experience similar levels to chaos to mine, I feel so incredibly alien from them. I can see how many folks would consider me manic or over-anxious or just place coconuts by interacting me on one of my more high chaos days. My life is so crazy (how crazy is it?) that when I walked outside on the day after Easter with my 6-year-old daughter's hand in mine, only to find a seemingly untouched but dead baby bunny directly in the path leading to my car, my only reaction was, "Huh, yep. Sounds about right." I know that this statement sniffs a bit of Truman-show-believing bs. I know it does. I think that's the only reason that I haven't had more concern for my mental state, because I'm definitely aware of my lingering layers of insanity. And I know that a lot of people would think, "Hey dummy, that's just a coincidence and those things happen to people all the time." I know. I know. I KNOW. Sometimes my coincidence rate feels a little higher than most. My theory is that it's just a numbers game, and I tend to do too much stuff too often and so my turn on the wheel comes around more often. Sorry, I'm getting away from my point. My point in sharing the bunny story is more to display my general mindset. I can't afford to be too heavily phased by dead bunny omens. Why not, you ask? Oh, I don't know. Maybe it's because I have days like yesterday, when real intentional chaos continued to slam me in the face up until the very minute that I passed out on my bed, in the only position that doesn't allow my terrible crunched up lower back to send pain shooting down both of my legs (a condition that I'm sure is related to my chaos-induced daily way of holding my body, which is somewhere between a ready pounce and a braced crouch).

So what happened yesterday? It started with the usual. My partner (the man who I love in ways that drive me batty) left for work before my daughter and I woke. It's normal enough, except that just the evening before he decided to share that he believed this training to be the most dangerous he's ever attended. This is a guy who doesn't get phased by running into burning buildings or treating a patient on an active crime scene with an armed felon. So, when he shared that he felt like the water rescue class that he was taking was actually a threat to his life, you can imagine it stuck with me. Okay, so let's hope my husband doesn't drown today.

My daughter knows that her dad's job is dangerous, and she reacts emotionally to his being gone in irregular bursts (let's just say there's always a layer of chaos in my home because my husband's schedule is anything but routine - people who go on frequent business trips or who have family who work funky shifts get this), and she has about a three-day lag time before she reaches the point where she just can't anymore. I know that lag time will lengthen as she gets older and develops better self-control and coping skills, but right now, it's three days people. I have three days for her to feel secure and steadied by her home life before she starts to act up. It usually starts with sleep (the kid fears sleeping in a home without her dad - I get it, but it sucks, because I desperately need sleep to handle my daily dose of crazy, and once the sleep interruptions start, it's all random fits of crying and decision fatigue from there).

So, yesterday morning, it was day three. It was the third day of nothing being normal, not eating family dinner, switching between mom and dad's way of doing things, and pretending to be cool with it. She had a night of weird sleep and was already trying to make up for her exhaustion with swings of silliness and silence. This poor kid. I hate that we put her through it. I tell myself that growing in this environment will only make her stronger and that as long as she has our support and love she'll be okay. I over-balance it sometimes with attention. Go three days without normalcy, get extra attention from mom. It doesn't help and I feel worthless when I do it. I'm building unrealistic expectations. I try to balance that by being honest with her in talks about our lives. That just seems to make the kid depressed. I'm bad at this, but I'm trying so back off (that's basically my tagline - I know, not helpful). Anyway, I drop the kid at school and then I go have a fairly normal great day. I do my work, I revise. I meet my writing partner. I see a friend. I get a good hug and drink some good coffee and I pretend that everything is totally normal.

Then I pick the kid up. Here we go again. It starts with the timeout slip because she physically lashed out at a classmate. Nothing serious, but still, everything feels serious when kids are developing. Some girls were whispering and she thought it was about her so she tugged on the one girl and the girl kicked her. Admittedly, it sucks when my kid engages physically at all because she's basically a tiny Xena: Warrior Princess. She's bigger than every other girl in her class (and most of the boys) and could cause some real damage if she tried. I feel like my arms are being ripped out of their sockets when she tugs on me to follow her to her room to see her new fort. I can only imagine what a fellow Kindergartner felt. Not cool. She got a pretty fierce talking-to from her intense gym teacher (not her favorite teacher - she's a bit intimidating), and was crying with shame and fear and anxiety by the time we got back to the house. This isn't what I consider an unreasonable level of chaos. People deal with this stuff every day. No big deal. Now I have to determine an adequate consequence for my kid by myself and figure out a way to reinforce the lesson at home between me and my fellow parent who is around in a haphazard and constant state of PTSD (so let's call this a half-level of chaos that just looms over my daily life and isn't going anywhere for the next twelve years until retirement).

So, I give her a snack, I ask the intertubes about adequate consequences for physical aggression in anxious children and I find a solution that I feel good about. I sit with my kid and I help her work through her bad feelings and we write out different solutions to her problems and then we let it go and come downstairs to do homework. While I'm doing that, I get a knock on my door. It's my neighbor. It's my neighbor stopping by to deliver cookies. I kind of don't even want to write about this because, frankly, it shouldn't be a problem. I get that. I mean, someone is stopping by to be friendly and GIVE ME COOKIES. How could this be a problem? Because this is where things start to derail. All of the following events would have happened, but they would have happened with me able to focus and attend and make good decisions and not have an audience. I realize it's not an impossible feat to deal with, but it's another unplanned event to add to my daily bustle and fluster.

When I have a visitor in my home, everyone gets crazy. My daughter is terrified that I'll forget that she exists (overcompensation for lack of dad's attention backfiring riiiiiiight here). My dog must bark until the new person pets him, and then once that's done, he must go check outside to see if anyone else is going to show up at our house, and then he must come back in and investigate the guest, and then he must go outside to check again (and so on, in 10-minute bursts, for at least the first hour of someone hanging around my house - at least there are cookies). And I lose track of time and feel bad trying to wrangle my 6-year-old into readying herself for her extracurricular for the day (and it's pretty likely her homework doesn't get finished). I definitely forget that my cats need to be fed, but they kindly remind me by trying to kill each other and screaming loudly during the ordeal. Chaos. Chaos. Chaos. Granted, some level of this is always happening (regardless of guests), but I'm able to work against it by running around like a subservient fool, working against the irrational and selfish needs of some really cute snugglers. Unless I'm supposed to sit and make tea and talk about my feelings, but I'll save that for theory number two.

So, while I'm having my tea time, which sounds so laughably zen, my partner calls to talk to my daughter. This never happens. NEVER. He'll schedule calls while he's at work so he can say goodnight and things, but just calling to make sure our kid knows he loves her, it smacks of real fear. UGH. I get it. I get that he's a planner and we've lost enough people to weird and sudden circumstances that he doesn't joke around about regrets. But seriously, I had almost forgotten the whole maybe-my-best-friend-drowns-today tone of my day. No such luck. Try explaining that to a neighbor who just dropped by to talk about your day? I don't think I even wanted to hear about my day at that point.

Then the dog reenters my kitchen (for the third time) and looks rough. Something is off. I have a guest who is trying to make conversation, and a kid who is trying to avoid finishing her math, and all I can see is that my dog looks uncomfortable. Thankfully my neighbor was on the way out anyway , because that's the point when I officially lost focus. Then came the vomit. And from there it just took off. I've been very lucky to only hear a dog crying in a few limited circumstances (most of which were movies which assuredly did not harm animals during the making of). It's such a heart-wrenching sound. My dog cried and whimpered, laying on his side while his stomach visibly cramped. It lasted for fifteen minutes before I called the vet, who was able to get me a walk-in appointment if I could wait three hours, unless I wanted to call it an emergency and pay the extra fee to come in early. I tried to wait and watch and after twenty minutes, it was too much. So I rounded up my 6-year-old into the car (thankfully this is where the kid realized that getting attention was not the most pressing problem of our evening), and we went the vet. They wanted to keep the dog, which sucked, because (as I think I've illustrated) I only have so much stability, and my K9 friend is one of the few dependables in my home.

I ended the day too tired to sleep, back crunching and aching, with no partner, an exhausted kid, no dog, and a real concern that I was going to lose at least two of those three overnight. Just recounting it makes me tired. And that's a pretty common kind of day for me. You know how they measure floods by the rate of occurence? I'd say that's a once every two weeks kind of day. Pandora's got nothing on me.

2. Feelings

I seriously hate talking about my feelings, because most of them are not especially admirable. I react to things. I acknowledge my annoyance and frustration and UGHHHHHHHH moments. They're the most interesting ones. When I'm not talking, I'm spending most of my internal monologue feeling grateful and lucky and fulfilled and even giddy. The problem is, most people don't seem to get my fuel. I'm fueled by my kid's drawings and approach to conversation. I'm excited when things make sense in my head (especially writing things, but really anything because sleep deprivation has ruined my brain). I'm happy when I get to watch a twenty-minute TV show with my partner. I'm over the freaking moon when I get to have a conversation with him during which neither one of us loses focus and we both feel engaged by the material we're discussing (ooh especially if it doesn't involve talking about our kid, pets, bills, schedule, or sleep needs). These happy moments are boring. They're my boring moments and I love them. I don't really want to hear another person's judgments on them. But people are welcome to judge away on my mishaps, my whoopsies, and my UGHS, because I have very little stake in those things. It's a pretty functional state of being, but you can see how my share habits are less than stellar.

I often wonder if I'm poisoning my wells of friendship when I share. This is why I just tend not to. Add to that all of the feelings that happen on a day like the one described above and, no offense, but very few people can handle the truth. This is my life and it is awful sometimes and I totally get that people don't know how to work with that kind of material. But I'm not going to pretend that it's otherwise, and I'm not looking for fixes. See, the good days are so good. So good that the days like yesterday are entirely worth it. Crazy right? And those good days are for me. They're special. They sit in my heart like crazy rays of sunshine ready to be tapped when I'm laying in bed, aching all over, sleeping alone, and working through my terror that the next day could feasibly be worse. I'm sure that I sound like such a pessimist, but I know bad days and I know rate of occurence and I know luck and I know that depending on things to go smoothly is naive when you've got things stacked otherwise. I would rather ready myself for impact (which does involve working through and accepting crap that I so unfairly cannot control), instead of ignoring the fact that I'm on a collision course. It's a course that I chose, that I choose, to experience daily by allowing so much chaos into my life. It enriches me and keeps me alive. And sometimes it wears me down and pushes me too hard. When that happens, the last thing I want to do is examine how it makes me feel, because I'm not going to change any of it, so why analyze?

It's that litmus test that I love so much. Can I change the less-than-desirable goings-on? If I can, awesome, let's do it. If I can't, awesome, let's be snarky about it so it's clear whose in control here. Either way, I'm not super interested in showing my emotional work, because the point at which I start sharing, is the point where I'm already done.

So, okay, that went only for much longer than I intended, but all of that to say that I finished the book. Whether or not I become a better blogger about my work or my life is TBD. When I do get around to this space again, I definitely want to talk revisions and the bittersweet work that I've been doing for longer than I care to admit.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The 11th Hour

I broke 55,000 words yesterday. That felt amazing.

Now I am on the home stretch, and go figure, my energy is low. Thank all that is holy for coffee.

I have to write:
1. The last of the tension building middle scenes.
2. Rewrites of male lead chapters to fix timeline issues.
3. The ending (maybe more than one ending, just to see how it all plays out).

It won't be done today. It may not be done tomorrow, but I'm going to keep on trucking, and it will be done eventually.

When I finish:
1. I'm getting that tattoo that I've been dreaming of.
2. I will take a whole week off.
3. I will float.

First this, then Camp NaNoWriMo for the final draft. I've earned this. All I have to do is finish.

Friday, March 4, 2016


Less than 2000 words until I break 50,000. 

2 more working days until I've officially hit my target.

3 more scenes that I definitely MUST write.

I am going to finish a book. While the numbers don't lie, I do think they will change. It seems more likely that I'll work until the end of next week, since a few of the middle subplots require rewiring/fleshing out. The good news: the hard part (the groan-inducing, do-I-have-to?, blank stare inspiring middle) has become my favorite part. I think I love writing middles. Who knew? I think it just took the introduction to the idea that the middle is made for building tension to get me on track. Building, strething, layering, complicating? These are all my favorite things about writing/reading. I love tension. A good trait for a Writer. And that is exactly what I am.

So, since I'm still doing some middle-building, I'm guessing that I will definitely exceed 55,000 words by the time the book is actually finished. And that is okay. That is great. That is still only 7,000 words to go.

Then I think I will be giving myself a day or two off to start researching revision tools. April 1st starts Camp NaNoWriMo, and I aim to have a Final Draft at the end of it. 

The idea of a Final is thrilling. I have a lot of conflicting fear associated with the idea of completion. I am sure I will get around to writing about that eventually. For now, I am just going to kick back on my heels and appreciate the fact that the numbers look pretty good.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


It is finally happening. This writing bug is shifting in me. I have always been susceptible to restlessness. I get bored easily, with everything, including myself, but it is more than that. It is an itchiness and a craving and a terror all in one. I distinctly remember watching Breakfast at Tiffany's for the first time and feeling a click at the phrase "the mean reds," as Holly describes  them, "The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?" 

Yes, Holly, yes I do, and it usually means that good things are coming, if I can just harness that energy and push a little further and dare to peek behind the curtain of doubt that sometimes plagues me.

So, this book. This book that is less than 10 days away from completion... it is growing in me. It is causing me to drift out of conversations and stare a little harder and sit a little longer. It is an obsession. I am in the lovesick throes of a romance that takes more than it gives, and I can already see it taking me somewhere new; somewhere that causes my knees to wobble a bit and my shoulders to hunch at the idea of it. I am ready and I am scared and I am jumping anyway.