Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Wow, I can’t believe 2016 is upon us! Yesterday someone said, “I’ll see you next year,” and it took me a second to realize that would be later in the week.

2015 has been a great year in many ways. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more productive year of writing. It was hard at times to balance work, family life, and writing time. I know it is tricky for all writers and I’m still figuring out what works best for me (it seems to change depending on the type of project and where I’m at with the project). I’m totally behind on TV and movie watching, scrapbooking, and crafting, but I’m okay with that. There are only so many hours in the day and I’ve found that I feel better when I put my hours toward writing and reading.

A dear friend of mine shared an inspirational quote with me and more than anything else, this was the mantra that kept my priorities in check:

A year from now, you will wish you had started today.

I LOVE this quote and it’s absolutely true. A year ago there was a lot that I wanted to accomplish and I’m very proud of past-Kristy for sticking to her guns and following her dreams.

In a blog post I wrote in January, I listed all of my goals for 2015. Looking back, I don’t think I did too bad:

1) Go to the Vermont College Fine Arts retreat March 2015—check!
2) Go to two regional SCBWI conferences and apply to Rutgers—check!
3) Actually get accepted to Rutgers—check!
4) Finish my current draft and start the next draft this summer—check!
5) Revise through the summer and fall—check!
6) Be ready to start querying by the end of the year—well…not quite ;)
7) Start a new WIP once querying begins—eh, kind of since I started it between drafts

I didn’t exactly reach every goal, but I got pretty close. I also read more books this year than ever before (for the record, that’s still a ridiculously small amount compared to some writers I know, but at least I’m making progress!) I wrote 10,000 words on a new YA manuscript. And, weirdly, I’m close to finishing my first picture book manuscript—something I never thought I’d write!

I’ll save my 2016 goals for a future post. For now, I’m just going to bask in my accomplishments. J  (If I don’t, who will?!)

Finally, it wouldn't be an end-of-the-month blog post if I didn't include pictures of my progress for the month. I'm including November and December here since I didn't post the November picture. 








Here’s to an amazing 2015 and an even better 2016! Happy New Year!




 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Review of Rutgers!

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the Rutgers One-on-One conference (RUCCL) for the first time. I heard about the conference last August when I was at a Highlights retreat. Several people spoke highly of it there and I made a mental note to look into it.  

However, because of my teaching schedule, it can be really hard to attend out-of-state conferences. So, when I saw that RUCCL just happened to fall on the weekend of my autumn break (one of the only long weekends I have all semester) I knew I had to apply! I mean, come on, I am writing a book about fate.  ;)  With help and advice from friends, I completed the application process and was accepted. Whew! 

I wanted to pass on a little info about the conference to those that aren’t familiar with it.

There are so many things that make this conference special.

·         All of the attendees must submit an application and are accepted on the basis of their writing and career bio. This means that editors and agents take the attendees more seriously than they might at other conferences.

·         Usual conferences have a handful of editors and agents on hand to give talks and critiques…RUCCL had close to 100. It was a little mind-boggling to be in the same room with so many professionals!

·         Each attendee is matched to an editor, agent, or author who is considered your “mentor” for the day. That person reads some of your work and then speaks with you for 45 minutes. Attendees can ask questions and receive feedback. Having this amount of one-on-one time with a professional is invaluable…and the reason for the conference’s name.  

·         The mentors are available throughout the day. You can eat lunch with whomever you want (your mentor or someone else’s), plus there is a “five-on-five” meeting where you get to meet other mentors and ask questions.

I will admit that I was nervous because I have never had an experience like this before, but I am so thrilled that I attended this year. I received a lot of useful feedback on the first pages of my WIP, my synopsis, and my query letter. I met many wonderful people, including editors and agents that share my interests as well as other YA writers. Another HUGE bonus of attending is that mentees can submit work to mentors who usually wouldn’t read unsolicited manuscripts. I still have work to do before I’m ready for that stage, but it’s a very good feeling to know that I now have a much wider field of potential readers than I would have had otherwise.

I would definitely encourage other writers in the query and subbing trenches to apply for Rutgers in the future. It is a great way to make new connections and learn more about the publishing business. In fact, I’m already thinking of applying again in the future!



Now, for my usual end-of-the-month calendar wrap up.  I’m a day late on this (I’m going to blame daylight savings for that one), but here it is. It’s not as pretty as some months. I didn’t have nearly as much time as I would have liked for writing this last week. BUT, there’s always next month! 




Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Rutgers One-on-One Conference!

Today is a busy day! There’s laundry, grocery shopping, packing, cleaning, and blogging to be done!  Why so much stuff? Oh, you know, nothing too big…just flying out tomorrow to go to the Rutgers One-on-One conference!!!  Yay!

This is my first time going to Rutgers and I couldn’t be more excited and honored to have been accepted. This is the first time I have been accepted for anything based on my writing, so that alone has been a big confidence boost. I have only heard wonderful things about the conference from others who have gone before, which only makes me more excited!

Although it’s easy to get a little nervous going to something like this (there will be 80 editors and agents there—wha?!) I know that only positive things can come from attending. I’m going to get advice from knowledgeable professionals, meet fellow writers, be inspired to continue writing, and get a little vacation from normal life!  I also get to have a mini-writing/friendship retreat with my close friend Debbi, which I can’t wait for!

I’ll check back in after the conference to talk about everything I’ve learned.  YAY for writing conferences!



Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September Updates


Well, September is always a busy month and this year was no exception! School is in full swing now, there are multiple birthdays to celebrate (including mine!), and the Northern Ohio SCBWI conference to attend.

Speaking of the conference, I’d be amiss if I didn’t at least briefly talk about what a wonderful time I had there! This is one of my favorite conferences to attend each year because I have a group of friends/fellow writers who also attend and I love getting to catch up with them. Rather than being stressful or intimidating, conference day is like an awesome interlude from everyday life. As usual, the speakers were wonderful and I left my manuscript critique feeling encouraged.

Of course, classes, conferences, and birthdays do limit the amount of time I have every week to write. One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed is how much more important prioritizing becomes once classes are back in session. During the summer I could write during the first part of the day, listen to audiobooks while driving, and still have time to read in the evenings. Now, I can only choose one or maybe two of these activities per day. It’s always a hard transition after a luxuriating summer, but I think I’m finally getting readjusted to my new schedule. And, luckily, I have inspiring conferences and trips to keep me motivated! Up next: the Rutgers One-on-One conference!!


Here’s my September update. Not too bad, but I’m hoping to get a few more stickers on the page in October!  




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Conference Time!!

If you've read my previous posts, you know that I'm a big fan of summer. (Who isn't?!) But there are some good things about autumn as well. For me it's not pumpkin spice lattes or crisp fall leaves--it's writing conferences!  I'm attending three conferences this fall and I can't wait. 

First up is the Northern Ohio SCBWI conference this weekend. This will be my second time attending and I can't wait to see some old friends, focus on craft, and be inspired!

In October I'll be attending the Rutgers One-on-One conference and in November I'll be at the Western Penn SCBWI conference. Whoo-hoo for lots of conference opportunities! I'll definitely update the blog after each one. :)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Checklists, Movie Viewing, and My Summer Wrap-Up


Every year at the beginning of the summer, I write up a list of everything I want to accomplish before I go back to school. I also keep all of my to-do lists from previous summers, going back to 2008, and I like to look at how my priorities have changed…as well as the amount of time I have.

In previous summers (i.e. summers before we had a child), my list would be a page long. There’d be traveling, home remodeling, starting new craft projects, watching movies, throwing parties. And somewhere, buried between sewing a quilt by hand and making stained glass windows, would be writing.

Ah, how times have changed.

This summer, my to-do list was very small. Yes, I did include some miscellaneous items. I knew I’d be teaching and throwing my son a birthday party. I also wanted to catch up on some scrapbooking and weed my flowerbeds.  But what I really wanted to do this summer was write. And read. And read about writing. :)

After taking a look at the list, I have to say that I did pretty damn well.

I read much more than I usually do. I finished a draft of my WIP, gave it to beta readers, and am now 50% finished with the follow-up draft. I also managed to squeeze in time to write 10,000 words of a new project, plus I signed up for two SCBWI conferences in September and November and I was accepted into the Rutgers One-on-One Conference this October. (Yay!)

In previous summers, I would never have had the time to do all that. Somehow I’d find time to landscape the backyard and rewatch every version of Pride and Prejudice I could get my hands on, but I couldn’t find the time to meet my writing goals. This year, “catching up on movies” was the only item I didn’t accomplish. And although I really like watching movies, I’m also happy that I didn’t spent my summer doing that.

A close friend of mine showed me a quote that I absolutely love: “A year from now you will have wished you had started today.” It has become a mantra of mine and next summer I think I will be very happy that I’m so behind on my movie-watching.


And, as usual, here is my monthly calendar. The blue stickers represent writing, the pink reading. I took full advantage of my few weeks off between semesters, although I took the last week of the month off from writing because that’s when I started back to school. Overall, another productive month. I'm looking forward to seeing what September brings!


Friday, July 31, 2015

The Intersection of Psychology and Writing: Biases

Today I taught my last class of the semester. Nowadays, whenever I’m teaching, I can’t help but see all of the overlaps between psychology and writing. I don’t usually point these out to the students because most of them aren’t writers, but I thought I’d write here about one that had me thinking.

It was based on a lecture about self biases. (Or the nicer term is positive illusions.) Basically, I spent the entire lecture talking about how people want to like themselves and have high self-esteem. There isn’t anything wrong with that, except that sometimes we start twisting reality to make ourselves look better. We only take credit of our successes and blame failures on others, we think we’re better than average in most every category, and we refuse to acknowledge that have these biases (though we’re happy to point out when others are being unrealistic).

I always teach this with a self-deprecating tone, but also point out how faulty this logic is. Research in psychology shows that these thought processes can have a lot of negative outcomes. People get annoyed when we do this, for one thing. No one wants to be blamed for someone else’s failure!

Then there’s this other problem...

My lecture slides literally say, “People will try for things that they cannot achieve. This can lead to heartbreak.”

Yikes.

Now, I wouldn’t teach that if there wasn’t support for it. BUT, I don’t like applying that to my writing life. After I taught that, I started wondering: Is that me? Am I reaching for something that’s too lofty? Am I biased--unrealistic--thinking that I can make my dream come true when plenty of other talented people are out there right now trying to do the same thing?

I don’t know. Probably.

I do know that I’m not alone. And I know I’m going to keep being ridiculously unrealistic if that keeps me writing. Because there are also some important positive outcomes to these biases. One is high self-esteem and high self-efficacy, meaning that you like yourself and believe you can accomplish the tasks you're focused on. And you don’t give up. Even though the odds are stacked against you.  Even though you can look at the stats of how many people query every DAY and how many actually get an agent, let alone a publishing deal.

I’m glad that I’m living in my happy little bubble of grandiose ideas and biases. In this business, I think you have to assume you'll succeed where others have failed or you'll just give up. 

Still, I do feel a bit hypocritical after giving that lecture.  ;)


In other news, I have my July calendar update. I did…okay. Not great. But, speaking of blaming failure on others (hehe!), my husband had pneumonia this month and everything else came to a standstill until he was feeling better. So, I’ll say I did the best I could under those circumstances. I did a lot of reading at least!  


Here’s to productivity in August!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My June Update

Another month, another calendar page. Can I just take a second to say how sad I am to see these summer months flying by? I feel like I’m watching a movie where the calendar pages are literally flying off the wall like there’s a tornado nearby or something.

June was a very different month from May, writing-wise. For one thing, I started teaching again so I don’t have any more full writing days. Sigh. I also took a break from working on my WIP so that beta readers could read it. That has been a nice break, but it also meant I didn’t have the same writing goals I usually have. Instead, I  researched my next project, wrote 10,000 words on a first draft, did some beta reading for a good friend, and enjoyed lots of reading time. J


Maybe I wasn't as insanely productive this month as I was in May, but that's still a lot of stickers! 

I’m back to the grindstone in July. Plenty more revisions in my future...and hopefully plenty of stickers too!


Friday, June 12, 2015

A Crafty Post

I don't know if this post should officially fit under the "writing" theme, but I'd consider it to be tangential at least. It's supporting my writing--literally.

I made a new pillow for my writing chair and it turned out so cute that I had to share it!

Ta-da!
I added little ribbons and details to sort of make the fabric look like book bindings.
It's a "bookshelf" quilt pattern and I LOVE it.  :)

Each strip of fabric is supposed to represent a different book on a shelf (if that wasn't clear). My real bookshelf isn't nearly this floral or pink, but maybe I need to start buying books based on those criteria.

I would totally make an entire quilt if I had the time, but that's clearly not happening for awhile. The pillow was a pretty quick project (less than a week) and I couldn't think of a more perfect pillow for me.  :)


It fits right in, right?!  ;)


 I may need to start making a bunch more for the rest of the house!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Finished! (And a visual of the work it took to get there)

May is my vacation from the school year and I have to say I’m sad we're at the end of it. However, I’m also thrilled. Why? Because today I FINALLY finished the third draft of my WIP!!

*jumps up and down*

*falls over from exhaustion*


I guess, technically, I’ve only been working on this draft for a few months, but it feels like a really long time coming because this is the first full draft that I’m going to share with others. I’m really looking forward to hearing others’ opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript…as well as not thinking about this book for a few weeks.

Last month I posted my sticker calendar that I use to track my daily writing/reading progress. I promised myself that I’d keep posting the calendars every month so… *drum roll please*

Ta Da!



The green stickers represent days when I sat down and wrote something substantial (not including this blog). I’m pretty amazed with myself for writing 26 days this month. That HAS to be a record for me. Of course, I'm on vacation this month which helps explain how I was able to do that. I don’t think I’ll be seeing another calendar like this for quite a while.

On the other hand, who knows?!

Looking at all the progress I made this month (I finished a book!!) makes me really motivated to keep it up. I don’t want the June page looking like a loser in comparison. So, we’ll see. I’ve set a really high bar but hopefully I can continue to make progress (and get a few more orange stickers for listening to my audiobooks).


And maybe I'll add a new color sticker for watching movies…I have a lot to catch up on now! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Setting goals and accomplishing them (…even if it takes longer than you’d like)

So much of life is about setting goals. It’s something that I teach in my personality psychology class: in order to feel like your choices in life matter, you need to have goals to work toward. Without goals, there’s no purpose to life, no measuring stick to show you how well you’re doing. Life can feel pretty meaningless without them.

Now, there are many things that I’m still working on in life, but setting goals for myself is not one of them. I’ve got plenty of goals. Particularly when it comes to writing. I’ve got nothing BUT goals in that area of my life. ;)

This is my month off from school (YAY!) so I’m all about working toward goals right now. I’m trying to finish the latest draft of my WIP by the end of this month. I’ll send it off for a few others to read, banish it from my mind for a while, and then…start revising all over again. Ugh. That’s the way this writing thing works though. It’s never quite done.

So, that’s why it’s nice to meet some smaller goals along the way.


I recently made some welcome changes to my writing room, including getting a terrarium for my desk. I was also reorganizing my book shelves when I found some stapled magazine pages shoved behind the books. I pulled them out, having no idea where this trash came from, and saw that it was a terrarium article I’d pulled out of a BHG magazine a long time ago.

Specifically, in January 2012.


Looking at the pages now, I feel a weird sense of pride. I had completely forgotten about the magazine article. But I hadn’t forgotten my goal. I had wanted a terrarium then and now I have one. It's not exactly related to my writing goals, but metaphorically (and you know writers like metaphors!) it feels very similar. And I like the idea that I set a goal for myself and met it, even if it took 3 years. In the world of writing, 3 years is nothing!

Now, I’m close to the much bigger goal of finishing this draft. When that’s done there will be a bigger goal to accomplish and another one after that and another one after that.  It’s never going to stop. And that’s okay. I’m hoping that my ability to meet my goals won’t stop either. Even if it takes me years to get there.  



Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sticker Motivation

Last year I wrote a post about using stickers to motivate myself to write. That worked really well until I got lazy ran out of calendar pages and stopped. Just this month I've finally gotten back into it and it has been super helpful.

Currently I'm trying to finish a big revision on my manuscript and have set a deadline for the end of May. I tend to make "strict" deadlines and then get a little...sidetracked. This is where the stickers come in handy. I wrote out goals for each day and I only get a green writing sticker when I work toward that goal. I also decided to give myself stickers for reading, listening to audiobooks, and blogging. (Check!)

Here's what April looks like.





Not too shabby! Obviously I had some gaps with my writing, but given that I was finishing up the semester I think I did fairly well. In fact, this has been such a fun little way to stay motivated that I've decided to post my calendar photo here on the last day of each month. Knowing it'll be out in the interwebs for everyone to see should (hopefully!) make me keep up the good work. (That or I'll just stick a bunch of random stickers up there at the end of the month and take a photo!  No, no, I would never do such a thing...)

So, look for my monthly productivity updates!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Why My Writing Space Matters

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my writing space and how much I love it. I’ve heard some writers say that you should be able to write anyplace and if you can't it's only because you're making excuses.

I get that. I’m definitely capable of writing other places outside of my house (I’m looking at you, Panera Bread), but I have a harder time inside the house. That’s probably because my brain is lazy and would rather find something easy to latch onto. My house provides a smorgasbord of possibilities in the form of cleaning.

Man, those dishes really need to be done. Maybe I should go get the Magic Eraser and clean the wainscoting before I forget. Crap, I forgot to put the laundry in the dryer. And on and on and on. (With an almost-three-year-old running around, there’s always something that could be moved, cleaned, wiped, or vacuumed!)

That’s why I’m so thankful to have my own spot that’s all my own. The best thing about the room is it's no-boys-allowed and I can close the door (and the dirt) on the other side. I’ve also managed to fill it completely with things I love. DIY stained-glass projects, drawings from elementary school, vases of tissue paper flowers, homemade quilts, lots of plants, and lots of books.

And now, a beautiful writing desk my father built for me, topped with an adorable terrarium.




Isn’t it beautiful?!!

My adorable terrarium!  I've wanted one forever.  :)
Itty bitty plants!


Before I had a decently functional table in that spot. I was making do with it, and it was already more than what a lot of people have, but then I started dreaming… And, as my dad knows, when I start dreaming about furniture, he gets a new project. (See the bookshelves below as further evidence.)


Yes, the desk is large, sturdy, has places for filing (I have writing files now—yay!), and a cute little drawer for post-it notes. It’s awesome and a wonderful gift from my very supportive father. That’s reason enough to love it, but that’s not the only reason.

I love it because it makes me feel like a writer.

It’s a statement in the room. That this isn’t a room for hobbies or crafts. The furniture isn’t just a placeholder until we can get something better or until I change my interests on a whim. This is my office. Where I work. And, I’m very happy to say, I love going to work.




 More now than before.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Break Wonderfulness (i.e. the VCFA writing retreat)

Last week was my spring break. For the past few years, spring break has meant catching up on cleaning, laundry, and grading (and maybe a little reading or TV if I’m lucky). This year though, I did something totally out of the ordinary and I’m SO glad I did. I spent about 5 days in Connecticut and Vermont, first visiting with a good friend and then attending a novel writing retreat at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.


The entire experience was amazing

The retreat was exactly what I needed to keep me motivated and focused as I push to finish the latest draft of my WIP. The retreat started Friday evening and ran through Sunday afternoon. During that time we had presentations by 4 wonderful professionals: Dana Walrath, Kathi Appelt, David Gill, and Joy Peskin.  All of their presentations got me thinking about ways that I can improve my writing. Now that I'm home again, I can't wait to start practicing everything I learned. 

For instance, Kathi‘s presentation about character motivation really opened my eyes to some problems with one of my characters and David’s post-it note presentation on plotting gave me an entirely new way to layout my plot and look for holes. In fact, I’ve already put that lecture to good use by plotting out both my current WIP and my next WIP! Whoo-hoo! Plotting can be so challenging and I’m in love with this new technique. Now I just need to get the post-it notes on the wall of my office to keep me motivated!
Plotting out my WIP using David's post-it note method. :)

I signed up for the critique track during the retreat and received extremely helpful comments from my peers and one of the faculty members. Critiques are always helpful—particularly on those all-important first pages—so this was a great addition to the weekend. 

Saturday night the whole group (about 30 of us) ate delicious pizza and then read a few pages of our writing to the group. I’m not going to lie, it’s very intimidating to stand in front of a group of extremely talented women and read, but I’m very glad I did. Everyone in the group was friendly, supportive, and welcoming. I felt like I learned so much about the other attendees from listening to their work. 
Nervously reading to the group!
My only complaint is that I wanted to add a few more days to the retreat so I could get to know all of the women more! Well, that and the weather. It was cold. Clearly, Vermont is not the best place to spend spring break if you’re looking to get away from the cold and snow. It was like time-traveling back to January for most of the trip. But, honestly, who cares?!!   I don’t. 

Writing in my dorm room.

I’m just hoping I’ll be able to attend again next year. J


Monday, March 16, 2015

My One Year Blogiversary & Many Reasons to Celebration

This is an exciting week! First, I’m on spring break this week and that’s always a cause for celebration!  Secondly, I’ve officially been blogging for one year this week!  Whoo-hoo! 

I have to say I was a little intimidated when I first decided to start this blog. I’d never done anything like this before and I wasn’t sure if I could sustain it. However, I’m really happy that I did it. This site has basically become my writing journal (…that the entire world can potential read). I guess that’s a little weird, but it works. It’s really fun to look back at old posts and remember some of the projects I've worked on and experiences I’ve had. It’s easy to forget things as time marches on and I love that I can always look back and reminisce about some of my writing “firsts.”

Given how well this first year has worked out, I have no plans to stop. In fact, that leads me to the third exciting event this week…my long awaited trip to the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) writing retreat!!!  Yay—I can’t wait! 

This will be my first time visiting Vermont College and I already know it’s going to be an amazing trip. I’m spending the first few days with a good friend close by and we’re going to have a little informal writing retreat of our own. Then we're off to Vermont to visit with my aunt and uncle and then a jam-packed weekend of speakers, critique groups, and writing time.

I always cherish my writing time and I hope to make the most of these next few days. I’ll definitely check back afterwards and give a full write-up!

Here’s to my one-year blogiversary and a wonderful way to start year two! 






Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Scrivener Love Story

Today I want to give a shout-out to Scrivener. Scrivener is a word processor (kind of like Word) that was created especially for writers. I heard about it through word-of-mouth but hesitated to actually buy it for quite awhile. For some reason, the idea of using a new word processor really scared me, which is pretty sad because what am I going to do when I actually have to do something scary?

I eventually bit the bullet and bought it for my birthday last September, but only started using it with my latest round of revisions. It’s been a few months now and I can already say I’m obsessed.

How did I write before Scrivener?! Or, more accurately, how did I keep anything organized before Scrivener?

There is so much to this program that it’ll take me forever to learn all of the little tricks, but here are a few of my favorite features so far:

Organization

This is by far my favorite part. I like to think of myself as a somewhat organized person, but when it comes to writing a book I’m anything but organized. I jot story thoughts here and there, create files for character names (or possibly multiple files because I forgot I made the first one), to-do lists for future revisions and to-do lists for future drafts.

What’s the difference in these files? I have no idea. But now I won't have this problem.

Scrivener keeps all my files in one place, in easy viewing as I write. I can organize them all by theme (e.g. plotting notes, themes, character descriptions) and if I want to review one of the files in the middle of writing then I can bring it right up without having to search or lose my place in the other document. Plus, I’m saving all the miscellaneous websites and photos there as well so I can easily see them. LOVE that.

Digital Note cards

Another plotting/outlining/organizational tool is the ability to create a note card for each chapter (or scene) in a book. You can write anything on the note cards. I write a somewhat detailed synopsis of each chapter, including day & time, which is such a pain to keep track of. You can color-code them, view them all on one page like an outline, and move the order of the cards (i.e. chapters).


It’s SO useful and has already really helped in keeping track of pacing and plot structure.

Searching for “Voice”

I just learned about this trick, but I already love it. There’s a search bar that will locate and list every time a word appears in the document. That doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but it’s really helpful when you have multiple POV’s in a book.

With my current book, I have two characters (a guy and girl) and I don’t want them to sound exactly the same. I try to use certain words with each of the characters, but it’s hard to keep track. This will make it so easy to catch my mistakes.


So, yeah, I could go on and on about this program, but it might start to seem like I’m a paid spokesperson (which would be very cool but is not true). So, instead I’ll just say that writing a novel can be hard and confusing and I’m very thankful for anything that makes the process easier.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Setting Goals

I'm behind on the times, I know. I should have announcing my goals for 2015 on January 1st like the rest of America. I guess my excuse is that 1) I didn't want to jump into any goals without being realistic, and 2) they aren't really New Year's resolutions so they don't count.  Right?

Either way, I've come up with a few. I wasn't necessarily going to post them here where, you know, everyone in the world has access to them. But then I remembered what my wise friend Jody Casella wrote in a recent blog post. If you want to keep a resolution then say it out loud to witnesses. So, here we go...

1) Go to the Vermont College Fine Arts retreat this March (which should be easy since I already signed up!)
2) Go to two regional SCBWI conferences and apply for the Rutgers One-on-One conference.
3) Actually get accepted to Rutgers and attend in November!
4) Finish my current draft by April (at the latest!) so that I can start working again in May.
5) Revise throughout the summer and fall.
6) Be ready to starting querying by the end of the year...eek!
7) Start a new WIP once querying begins.

So that's....a lot. I'm already getting sweaty just reading that list. But, now I have the goals in black and white and hopefully that will keep me on track. Here's to a productive 2015!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Beginning of Revising (and Revising the Beginning)

Now that the holidays are finally behind me, I've been focused on revising my WIP. I took about a month off so I'd have fresh eyes when I came back to it, and boy did I!  I have a printed manuscript with enough post-its notes on it to make you think my 2 year old got a hold of the pad and went crazy. 

This is a good thing though because I can see many places I can improve and I have a plan of what I want to do. Plus, I was really excited to start this revision because I didn't have to start from scratch this time. Writers always like to remind you: You can't revise a blank page. Thank goodness, I thought, that I wouldn't have to rewrite everything this time around.

Yeah, except now I'm wondering if starting with a new, crisp, white, blank page (i.e. computer screen) would be preferable to revising the beginning of this novel. 

It's hard!  (I know, cue all writers--duh!) I somehow tricked myself into thinking it would be easier this time around. Instead I find myself feeling paralyzed with indecision. Should I cut this sentence? Start with a different one? I like the idea of this paragraph but maybe it needs to move to another chapter. Do I just cut and paste or rewrite it from scratch?  Ahh!

I have finally made it past the first few chapters and I'm hoping things will move a little quicker now, but probably not. It's all part of the process I guess. 

I'm sure the next round of revisions will be easier. ;)