Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October IWSG: To the Editing Cave!

First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month!

This month's question: When do you know your story is ready?

Definitely not December 1st--the day after NaNo. Let the rough draft breathe and then dive into editing, oh, say for the next six months or so. When do I think my story is ready? I'm glad you asked. When I type THE END and start talking to myself with phrases like the following: this is it, I can relax now, time for a break, then I'm certain it's not ready. Pull back. Retreat! Get those editing goggles back on. Grab those CPs and beta readers for another walk through.

Whenever you are positive your story is ready, trust me, it's not. Those tiny plot holes will haunt you in your sleep, keeping you awake until you fix them. Just like with construction projects, always add another month or two or three before declaring your story complete. Then you might be ready. Unfortunately, I've learned this the hard way.

To the editing cave! But remember to fill this cup first.

P.S. Feeling pretty good this month after my ghostly middle-grade mystery placed third in the diversity writing contest. My MC is a boy in a back brace, but I can't tell you how he got that way or what happens because it's an integral part of the story. Cue the happy dance!

Do you disappear into a hideout, aka the Batcave, when writing? Any good news this past month? Working on a new story? Gearing up for NaNo?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September #IWSG: Are You Ready for Some Football--er, Writing?

First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month!

The big question for the group this month is "How do you find the time to write in your busy day?"

After driving the mom taxi and embarrassing my kids at their football and soccer games (I can cheer pretty loudly), I hit the hay pretty early. My writing time happens first thing in the morning. Then after breakfast and after my boys drive off into the sunrise, I write (as much as possible)  until around noon. But if I don't take the time to read, I will never find the inspiration to write. I am always reading. If you fail to read, you will never know what works and what flunks or what makes a story great or lame. This is key for getting unstuck and curing writer's block. READ. WRITE. READ some more.

The important thing to remember is to write everyday. Don't forget your family, but, hey, they probably won't let you, so no worries. How do you find the time to write in a busy world?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August #IWSG: "Let's Do This."

First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month!

The Big Question on the IWSG post for this month is (drum roll, please) Was your first piece of writing ever published?

Yes and no. My middle school scribblings bent on mystery and mayhem were sadly rejected by no one and never published. My first serious attempt at writing did land a publishing contract. But I've developed as a writer since that time nearly two years ago and am anxious to publish more. That sums up the answer to today's question!

Are you stuck in a writer's block rut gathering inspiration for your next novel? During the summer months I let my ideas simmer. Writing a new manuscript for me always starts in the fall. When the kids are back in school. The most wonderful time of the year. So where in the world do I get my kick in the seat of my pants to keep writing? Glad you asked. You know the creepy cornfield I pass everyday and the quirky neighbor two doors down and the really annoying teenager who lives in my house, eating all of my food? Well, I won't name any names, but it's often the eerily close and unexpected things hidden in plain sight that inspire me. 

This group is all about sharing our insecurities and our ups and downs. My confidence soared last month. After making it into Query Kombat in June, I decided to enter "pg70pit" contest hosted by Lara Willard last month. My MG mystery was one of the fourteen MG winners!

While I'm still waiting on agents, I'm still getting inspired for other stories and still pulling my hair out on this journey. The big orange bucket I spotted at a mini golf course this summer would have made a nice addition to my writing desk. 

Don't lose heart wherever you are in your writing career. We all have things to learn and we are in this together! Let's do this.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July #IWSG: Moving On

Happy July 4th week, everyone! And so another crazy summer begins. The relaxing days of summer do not exist in my world. Try writing even a grocery list in a house full of teenagers. An idea for another middle-grade novel popped into my head. But I am undecided as to the genre. It could go full blown contemporary mystery or a sci-fi. Weird. I know. I'm only in the brainstorming stage, but one thing I’m pretty certain of is the setting: Chicago. I can’t stop thinking about my favorite city. Here are some more pics from my visit last month:

I’m feeling hopeful and jittery this month. My MG mystery that was picked for the Query Kombat contest last month got knocked out in round one. I thought I made my query clear that it was told from a dual POV, but the judges were confused. At least, Michelle Hauke believed in me and gave me a chance by picking me for her team! I received great feedback and encouraging words from everyone. Moving on. I decided to enter my MG mystery into another contest, “page 70 pitch” hosted by Lara Willard. Why not, right? We’ll see how that one goes. 

I've always wanted to take a photo of Calder's Flamingo. As my hubs was flying fast in the Mini Cooper, we passed the Federal building in Chicago. I stuck my hand out of the sunroof and snapped a few pics. They may not be perfect, but I succeeded!

How about you? Enter any writing contests this summer? Putting the parking brake on your writing for now? Losing your mind with a house full of kids or pets or imaginary characters in your head?
I'm on vacation this week and will try to respond to comments and visit blogs as soon as possible!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June #IWSG: Summer, Snark, and Survival Tips.

First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month!

When life moves pretty fast, hang on for the ride and enjoy it. This guy looks like he's hanging on for dear life.This is exactly how I felt this last month, but I survived. Sort of. Don't mind that twitch. I'll be fine.
Navy Pier Chicago
This past month I watched my oldest son graduate from high school, experienced a monumental anniversary with my hubs and spent Memorial Day Weekend in Chicago. Twenty thousand steps on Friday alone, and I still can say I loved every minute of it. I always find something new in the Windy City. And, yes, it was windy and stormed while we were there. But we survived.

The new blue Ferris wheel

My new MG paranormal mystery made it into the coveted Query Kombat contest hosted by Michelle Hauck! Our queries and first 250 words will appear today on various blogs and will be matched up with similar entries. Over the next few weeks there will be several more rounds. The last standing entry in each age group will win. Well, if you make it past round one, you make it to the agent round, so that's a win. You can check mine out under the nickname, "The Sticky Note Ghost."

The Bean aka Cloud Gate

Sometimes a writer just needs to be reminded they can do it. This business is tough and depressing at times and can leave you full of sarcasm and snark and cynicism. I mean, sometimes a little snark can go a long way. Getting back to my monologue...sincere encouragement can do wonders in the writing world. My writer friend not only encouraged me to enter Query Kombat, but she insisted. She wouldn't take no for an answer. Genuine praise for our work can be what it takes to push us into action and gives us the confidence needed.

I'm pretty sure I have been my son's biggest cheerleader, rooting for him his entire life. Mom's intuition sensed this smart and talented kid would go far. He struggled in his beginning years in school, but has more than made up for it. This kid graduated with honors, is headed into the medical field, and is a top-ranked athlete in the state of MO. So when he spouts out medical information on muscle hypertrophy or sarcopenia or tells me I might need a stress test, I just smile and nod my head.

Don't forget to encourage people whether they are just starting out in this business, seasoned veterans, or your own kids who are smarter than you. It could be just what they need and can make a huge difference in their lives.

After someone encouraged me, I paid it forward and encouraged another writer, giving them a query/first chapter critique. Now, we are good friends! How are you encouraging others this month? Are you ready for summer? Any fun vacation plans?

Chicago River

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April #IWSG: Wait for It...

First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month!

While everyone posts for the AtoZ challenge, I am saddened that I am not participating this year. My oldest son graduates from high school in a little over a month. Cue the crazy train and the tears and the medication. Just kidding on the last one. I'm all for supporting my kids, so when he handed me something to sign the other day, I didn't hesitate. Then I read the thing. His class is taking a "Cadaver Field Trip" to a hospital in St. Louis. Not lying. I don't make this stuff up. I couldn't stop laughing. What could go wrong? I told him I wanted DETAILS. He just shook his head at me. I asked if I could tag along. I'm pretty sure he rolled his eyes. In case you were wondering, he's taking chemistry, anatomy & physiology, medical terminology. You know, your average high school courses.

On a different note, I don't usually post my progress when it comes to my search for an agent. It's like my personal writer's fight club mantra. But because I have real writer friends (as opposed to imaginary ones) who struggle with rejection and waiting and wanting to quit, I want to encourage you to keep waiting and to not give up. My MG contemporary fantasy is still with several agents. And I wait. While I've been waiting, I wrote. It paid off. I just finished edits on my MG paranormal mystery. I stretched myself, going outside of my comfort zone, and wrote it from a dual POV. Best decision I have ever made. As I wait to hear back from agents for my MG fantasy, I am getting ready to send out queries for my MG mystery.

And while I wait, I take advantage of every opportunity to snap a few pictures. Last year for the AtoZ Challenge, I featured a photographic journey through Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, Hannibal, MO. My oldest son (who will soon be visiting the morgue with his class) shares my passion for photography. He took this photo on the top of Lover's Leap of the sunset over the Mississippi River. He photo-shopped the sky with a darker blue. He has such an eye for detail.

Lover's Leap - Hannibal, MO

My nephew sent me a couple of photos from inside the final four during Monday night's big game in Houston where he was selling Chick-fil-a, and....

Wait for it.....

Guess who was there?? He's in the light blue shirt and white kicks. Hint: I'm from this state where he played in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls.

Michael Jordan chillin' at the game
Talk about someone who never quit. He even got cut from his high school basketball team.
Get back out there. Don't quit. You've got this.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March #IWSG: March Madness

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month!

Do you find yourself doing too much of this? That's my kid by the way. I would tell him to get off his phone, but I'm probably texting him to take out the trash.

 And not enough of this?

Do you feel like your life is moving slower than these guys?

Or maybe you feel like this little guy--stuck playing the same song over and over?

Maybe the storms are rolling in faster than you can dive for cover.

March is full of madness and we've only just begun! Yesterday morning we experienced ten seconds of sleet followed by the tornado sirens blaring all over town. I'm in the editing cave right now working on my WIP: a paranormal MG mystery. Make the most of this month. Get off your phone unless you're reminding your kids to do the dishes. And get your storm shelter stocked with plenty of coffee, spare pens and paper.

What are you working on this month? Keeping up with your writing goals for this year?