Wednesday, November 7, 2018

November #IWSG: The Perks of Being a School Librarian

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?
Co-Hosts:  Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman!

Over the past few years, my creativity has evolved into an insatiable monster. Events, awkward situations, conversations, and personalities get thrown into a folder in the back of my brain, ready to use in any given scene. EVERYTHING that comes my way in life turns into potential story ideas. That goofy middle-aged man I just met would make a great side character. That annoyingly perky woman would make an awesome villain--hiding her real personality behind her perfect life. 

One of the perks of being a school librarian is the interaction with the kids. Eavesdropping on their conversations and watching them in the "wild" (aka school) provides great material since I write middle-grade.

Can you guess the best perk of being a librarian? Yep, I get to read all the books. The other day as I explored the library I discovered a stack of Mark Twain Award books on a top shelf. A whole stack of unread novels just waiting for me! I dove into the first one, a middle-grade mystery, FRAMED! by James Ponti and I was hooked. I read it in a day. Now I'm onto Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. My kids at school are like, "Mrs. Hawes has her nose in a book again." And I'm like, "What? Oh, hey kids, didn't see you there."

I need an intervention.

Anyone else doing NaNo this month? Do you need an intervention? Are you reading all the books? I'm almost ten thousand words into my next murder mystery! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October #IWSG: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (to write murder mysteries)

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Co-Hosts:  Dolorah @ Book Lover, Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, andChemist Ken!

October affects my writing like no other month. Ideas are piling up faster than the leaves falling. I'm already five thousand words into a new story! There's just something about this season that inspires a well plotted murder mystery. I sense a change in the atmosphere. Haunted houses creep up everywhere. Cooler nights descend on us in shadowy form. Spooky graveyards beckon for a visit. Wax museums become all too real.

My new job (major life change!) as an elementary school librarian has me scrambling for different writing times. Early morning is still a go, but no more afternoon writing binges. Late nights or weekends are my choice for writing all the words now.

Mark Twain's boyhood home town has it all: gorgeous fall colors, haunted houses and wagon rides. Yes, even a disturbingly life-like wax museum. The perfect writing inspiration for me!

Does October inspire you to write? How are you celebrating fall? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

September #IWSG: Wait For It...(Getting the CALL!!)

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!

I apologize for being MIA last month. My crazy summer ended in a trip to Mackinac Island then off to a new job as an elementary school librarian to getting the most important phone call of my writing career!!! 

Wait for it...

A few weeks ago an agent emailed me (I assumed another lovely rejection) to tell me how much they loved my story. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard this before, but usually they end with a "but it just isn't a good fit for my list right now." Instead, she ended with the words, "I'd like to set up a phone call with you." 

I almost fainted. I most certainly cried. Probably screamed in excitement. Danced around the room a few times. Passed out in my writing chair.

Yes, it was THE CALL. I am now represented by Britt Siess at Martin Literary Management!!!! Britt is kind and knowledgeable and professional and personal! And I'm super excited about her vision for my book and my writing career.

Here's the timeline: 

I started writing this book in November during NANO. I slogged through December and January with tons of self doubt swirling around me, like an endless demon fog with sharp teeth ready to devour every shred of my self confidence. I finally convinced myself to continue in February to the shouting of my critique partner, "FINISH THE BOOK!" After bribing myself with coffee and more coffee, I  exchanged the final draft with my CP in March. I entered my middle-grade murder mystery in a contest at the end of April. Won Runner-Up in said contest!!! 

Confidence boost!!

In June, I entered the fierce competition of Query Kombat and found myself on Michelle Hauck's team. I lost the battle in round one, but became a host save and made it to the agent round. My MG entry THE INK AND PAPER SOCIETY nicknamed "I Can Keep a Secret" got the second highest number of agent requests! However, this summer has been slow, searing hot, and full of crickets. Britt was not one of the requesting agents from Query Kombat. I queried a few agents in July, but then stopped. Seriously, I barely queried this manuscript. Not wanting more rejections (because I freaking LOVE this story!!!!), I enjoyed the rest of my summer. I had queried another agent at her agency, and she kindly referred me to Britt! 

I'm over the moon at attaining my long-time dream of securing literary representation! How's your month going? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July #IWSG: Summer and My Great Expectations

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

Co-Hosts: Nicki Elson, Juneta Key, Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne!

My ultimate writing goals stay the same: agent + book deal + bestseller list. Ha. A girl can dream. Last month I landed in the agent round of Query Kombat. I am pleased to say my middle grade mystery got the second highest amount of requests!! Now I wait. Always waiting. 

This week I am on vacation in the great cheese state of Wisconsin, visiting family and enjoying the great outdoors. Yes, you can actually step outside here and not get your face melted off. Oh, how I've missed my home state---in the summer. Not so much in the winter! 

I hope everyone has lofty writing goals and great expectations! Have a fantastic rest of summer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June #IWSG: The Art of War or Battle of the Nerves

First Wed of Every Month

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

After last month's celebratory dance (winning runner-up in RevPit), I changed into camo gear and entered Query Kombat. Out of 400 entries, my new MG mystery was chosen for Michelle Hauck's team! But battling a middle-grade fantasy entry this past week turned brutal. I lost. 

Plot Twist

Drum Roll

Wait for it!

In a Host Save, Michelle snatched my entry from the rubble of lost dreams littered across the battle field. My new story enters the agent round (30 agents, people!!) starting Thursday!! Agents make requests in secret for four days.

*Locates paper bag*

*Passes out*

I'll just be hiding in a cave for the next week. 

Seriously, that is all, folks. After this nail-biting stress, I need a vacation.

P.S. I love naming characters. Titles of books? Not so easy. For my new mystery, I've tossed around three different titles. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

May #IWSG: Time for a Happy Dance

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!

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: It's spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Spring brings out the editor in me. But as writers know, editing is re-writing. So, I guess I am writing! 


I spent the entirety of April editing my NaNo project. After ignoring my family for thirty days, I typed THE END. I finished just in time to enter my new middle-grade mystery into #RevPit. Revise and Resub is an online contest hosted by eleven professional editors who choose winners from about one hundred entrants each. The top winner gets to work with an editor for five weeks. The runner-up gets several critiques on a smaller scale. In a writer's world full of disappointment and rejection, it's nice to get good news!

Drum roll...

My new story staring a kick-butt, twelve-year-old girl solving a crime in Door County, Wisconsin, won RUNNER-UP!!! 

And that's all I can say about my book. The rest is top secret. I'd tell you, but, you know...

I don't usually talk about my submission journey. But I felt like shouting my latest victory to the world. Even small victories and accomplishments can push us to keep writing and moving forward. My shiny, new MG mystery is almost ready to sub to agents. My other middle-grade mystery Link Lakowski and the Dead House remains on sub with agents and a few editors from a different contest. But I am confident it will find its home very soon in the book world.

The submission phase is tedious, depressing, and not for everyone. Get yourself a CP or two. Read Story Genius, The First Five Pages, The Emotions Thesaurus, and EVERYTHING on K.M. Weiland's blog. Do it now. 

Fun Facts: 

I am a native of the great cheese state of Wisconsin--the setting for my new book.
My mystery is filled with more secrets than a teenage girl's diary.
My family didn't disown me this past month.

Anyone else enter #RevPit? Entering any contests this spring or summer? 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

April #IWSG: Rainy Days and Zoo Trips

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: 
When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?
Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

This past month brought tons of rain, a snow day, and the flu. I love rain. Don't even talk to me about the other two incidences. 

I don't have to dig deep these days. The faucet in my writerly brain overfloweth. My CP and I are on a roll. Almost finished with our initial exchange-two-chapters-at-a-time method, I'm anxious to dig deeper. If you fail at digging a tunnel to the heart of your story or you're stuck in the muddy middle, I suggest reading K.M. Weiland's blog posts (talk about a gold mine!) and the book Story Genius by Lisa Cron.

I'm keeping this post short this month due to flu bug crawling its way into our home. I can't wait to hear how you guys dig deep and keep writing strong! 

We did manage a day outing during Easter break. I highly recommend the free St. Louis Zoo. The penguin exhibit and the sea lion tunnel are worth the traffic jams. 

November #IWSG: The Perks of Being a School Librarian

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups...