Friday, September 1, 2017

August Calendar!

Another month, another calendar! Wow, I can't believe it's September 1st today. It's always bittersweet when September comes. Part of me loves September because this is my birthday month, but it's also the end of summer...which is a bummer.

I'm extremely grateful for the time I had over the summer to write. I hit my summer goals and I'm looking forward to working on revisions for my YA this fall. I'll keep updating on how it goes. :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Whole Novel Workshop Magic

I just returned from attending the Whole Novel Workshop at Highlights and I can truly say that attending was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my writing. There aren’t enough exclamation points to express how wonderful my trip was…though I’ll probably use a lot trying to describe it!

Cabin 14

Inside: so adorable!!

Of course, this is Highlights and if you’ve been there before (or have heard someone talk about it) then you know that I could easily fill a blog post (or five) with exuberant descriptions of the cabins, forests, and food. (The FOOD!!!) And all of that was just as mind-blowingly fabulous as the last time I was at Highlights in 2013. But what makes this place so magical goes far beyond any of that.

It is the people.

They are the magic.

My mentor, Nancy Werlin, was incredible. She believed in me and in my book, but she also challenged me to make it better. She pushed me to think more deeply about my characters and asked questions that I never would have thought to ask myself. Although revision can be difficult, I knew I was in safe hands. Nancy loves my main character, and hearing her talk so exuberantly about Ellie made me love my character more than I had already. It also encouraged me to keep going!

Nancy and I the last morning (and YES, I am wearing my magical fairy writing crown!)

All of the faculty were out-of-bounds amazing. I loved listening to their lectures and getting inspired to take their suggestions and apply them to my book. Each person gave their time and expertise to help us. It was clear how much they want us all to succeed. 

The other attendees were equally wonderful. People always say that it’s hard to make new friends as an adult, but that does not apply to Highlights! In just a week I made friendships that I know will extend for years to come. Maybe it’s because we’ve all reverted back to our childhood summer camp selves, except we’re surrounding by people with the same passions and interests as us! J

Debbi and I celebrating our 3 year friendship anniversary in person!

Debbi, Carol, and I--one of my favorite photos!

Dale, Christie, John posing with me

Three Ohioans and one (grumpy) Michigan fan! LOL!


All of these people gave me one of the most precious gifts a writer can receive: self-confidence. The ups and downs of this journey can take a toll. It’s easy to feel small and trampled. But having others believe in me reminded me to believe in myself.

 And that is the magic of Highlights.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

June and July Wrap-Up

Wow, summer has flown by!! I'll admit that I haven't done a stellar job of updating this blog during the past few months, but I promise that's not because I haven't been busy! After the rush and excitement of finishing a first draft in May, I filled the rest of my summer with lots of other fun events. :)

I started June by attending the fabulous Indiana SCBWI conference. Sometimes great things come in small packages.

Beautiful views from our hotel/conference center at an Indiana State Park

Swan family in the early morning! 

 Everyone there was kind and supportive and the faculty members were spectacular. I particularly loved the picture book session with Tammi Sauer. Hearing her advice really motivated me to keep working on my picture books.

Absolutely gorgeous gardens there as well. I was in heaven!

I spent the rest of June working on my current novel: BRITISH BOYFRIEND COURSE. I’m attending the Whole Novel Workshop at Highlights in August (yesssss!) and I needed to revise that novel before sending it to my mentor. Between that, teaching my summer class, and back-to-back-to-back kid’s birthday parties, June was FULL.

My son and I are shooting webs here, haha!

We had fun with the food.

In July, I had a few more deadlines for upcoming critiques. Our SCBWI group is holding a workshop with agent Danielle Chiotti in September so I needed to get my work ready for that. I also revised a new picture book for a critique at the Northern Ohio SCBWI conference later this year.

Beyond that, I’ve been reading and reading and reading. Middle grade fantasies and YA contemporary. Work from friends and attendees to the Whole Novel Workshop, lots of picture books,  plus a new craft book called STORY GENIUS. It’s been a little strange to take a break from writing this month, but it’s also been freeing.

I can’t wait to go back to Highlights in a few weeks. There will be time for writing lessons and critiques with my fellow attendees, along with lots of hard work revising BBC. And, of course, I’ll be spending time with friends--old and new--and eating lots of seriously scrumptious food there. Whoo-hoo!

And here are my calendars for June and July. June is a little pathetic after such a productive month in May, but there was a lot going on that month.

And July... I was more consistent this month at least. All of the green, yellow, and orange is related to reading! 

Friday, June 2, 2017

MayNoWriMo Update: Week 3

I did it!!

I "won" MayNoWriMo again this year by finishing my first draft. To be fair, I didn't actually hit my word count--I'd been hoping for 40,000 words for this MG--but I'm fine with it. The more important thing is that I wrote an ending and the SFD is DONE.


My final word tally for the month

A first draft in 3 weeks--not too shabby! :)

Of course, it needs work. A LOT of work. But it's still a great feeling to know that I have an entire other story waiting for me when I'm ready to start. It used to take me so long to write a first draft, and I think that fast drafting is definitely the way to go for me. I'm a little sad it's over already.

Here's my monthly calendar as well. All that maroon is associated with writing. It's almost hard to believe how much I wrote this month. Practically every single day. The rest of the summer will be more challenging now that I have a class to teach, but I hope to keep up this momentum.

Next, I'm off to the Indiana SCBWI conference this weekend. It should be a great way to cap off a very productive writing month!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MayNoWriMo Update: Week 2

Okay, week 2 is complete! Honestly, I can't believe I've only been doing this for two weeks. It feels like much longer...and I'm not sure that's a good thing! ;)

This first draft is definitely a new writing experience for me. I've never written a first draft of a novel without having a pretty good idea about the structure of the novel. This time around, all I have is a few plot points, so mostly I've been "pantsing" this. At times that has been challenging, but it's also exciting.

Right now, the most important thing is that I'm making progress! I hit 25k today (YAY!) and have made it to the turning point in the book. Soon I'll be ramping up toward the climax. Eek!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

MayNoWriMo Update: Week 1

I've made it through my first week of MayNoWriMo!

I'm currently trying to write a first draft of a new middle grade fantasy novel and the goal is to hit approximately 40k words this month. I'm hoping to write around 10k words a week for 4 weeks and so far I've stayed on goal!

This first week was hard because 1) Mother's Day, 2) my husband's birthday, 3) writing is hard! Plus, I don't have a clear outline for this book so every time I sit down to write, I have to figure out what's supposed to be happening!

Hopefully I'll be able to keep up this progress next week. This is always a really fun and challenging month!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

April Calendar!

Another month, another calendar post! April is always a bit tricky because the semester is ending and there's never-ending email and meetings.

But, having said that, I think I did pretty well. With only two exceptions, I did something every day in April. I met the reading goal I set for myself and made a lot of progress revising my WIP. Soon that'll be off to beta readers and I can turn my attention to one of my favorite times of the year...


More to come on that soon! But for now, here's my April calendar:

*Very similar to NaNoWriMo except it's in May and I'm basically the only one who does it.