Shelfies

Since I’ve been in editing mode this year—and under deadline—many things around the house have fallen into states of disarray. Some of the most noticeable cluttered spaces are my bookshelves. After turning in the first round of content edits on my second novel I took a few days to organize my wall of books.

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But before I could tackle all those, I went to my other shelves and organized them so I could relocate some of the reference collection, among other things.

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Not too shabby.
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The Shannara books are out of the cabinet.

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Some of my favorite authors—and writing reference books—are located on the side of my standing desk.

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Many of my YA (and other) books are now located on the other side of my desk.

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Besides organizing I’m donating a box of MG-YA books to a friend who’s a first year middle school English teacher.

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But rather than totally streamlining, being the bibliophile that I am, I’ve already added fourteen new books to my collection so I now have some stacks in front of the stacks…

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I tried, really I did.

What’s your (book) weakness?

 

P.S. For those who subscribe to my newsletter, I skipped September because I hope to have some exciting news to share early this month, so be on the lookout.

 

Ain’t No Cure but Hard Work

If you know me or have been reading this blog for more than a season, you know that summer is my least favorite time of the year. Yes, I know that it isn’t technically summer, but it’s in full swing on the Gulf Coast. The thermostat has reached ninety degrees and the humidity is at sauna conditions.

Fortunately, I think I reached my yearly low last month (notice there were only two blog posts in the past thirty-one days.) But, never fear, I’ve slowly been on the upswing. The final shove came gently from my critique buddies at our meeting this weekend. Thanks, MeLeesa and Joyce! For me it’s now baby steps to the blog. Baby steps to the Scrivener file. But at least I’m moving.

May was rough, though. The month started with adding another year to my life chart, but ended with a great concert at the Hard Rock in Biloxi. Power metal, country, classical, world, folk, pop, oldies, classic rock, opera, R&B, rap… my music knows no genre boundaries, but I’m very selective about music groups/singers.

Last week, Diamond Rio played at the Hard Rock. They’re my favorite country group—I’ve been listening to them since I first heard “Meet in the Middle” during my freshman year in high school. (Of course, I was also listening to Firehouse, J.S. Bach, and Enya. Like I said, no musical borders in Wonderland.)

Besides the great show, all six band members did a meet and greet next to the merchandise table after the show. Naturally, I bought the band’s autobiography and gushed over the twenty-three years of music fandom while they all signed the book. (Here’s another bunch to add to the Fantabutius roster.) The experience of participating in the creating (composing music), sharing (concert), and spending time with fans (autographing) reminded me of my own goals as a writer. I need to work on my craft to have something for people to read, so I can hopefully inspire others to do the same. 100_5591

The Diamond Rio concert was a great way to end the moody month and start me thinking about creativity and positive vibes. This past week I finally started a mood music file for my current project and started thinking more about characters and less about the literary rejections. Here’s to a summer of magic and memories in the making. What do you have in mind?

Bonus, I’m going back to the venue for a BOSTON concert on Friday. Rock on!

Mayday!

The month is almost over and I’ve not made much progress on my writing goal (one thousand out of five thousand words so far) and I’m three books behind schedule for my reading goal for the year. Plus, I just remembered the yearly goals I’ve made every year on my birthday for the past several years, and that milestone came and went a few weeks ago without me reviewing them.

It’s time to hold myself accountable and get back on track!

One thing I did finish up with was my work on the Third Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest hosted by Mobile Writers’ Guild. The winning stories from both middle and high school students in Mobile and Baldwin Counties are up on the MWG website (see posts from May 23 and 27, 2014.)

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As for me, I’ll keep reading, writing, and watering Fernando.

What are you working toward?

Writing, Everyday

Since it’s officially a long weekend here (Hello, Labor Day!) I’ve decided to labor over my WIP to get closer to finishing the never ending first draft.
I write slow, with a capital S.
After skipping work for three days at the beginning of the week, I’m making up for it by busting my fingers to get the words down. I’ve added for than 3,500 in the past forty-eight hours. FORTITUDE needs to be finished. This draft has to be complete so I can go over it multiple times with edits. I want this first draft to become a twelfth draft.

Always good with timing, the fabulous Laurie Halse Anderson is hosting her sixth annual Write Fifteen Minutes a Day this month. You can find the first post here. For those interested in writing or the workings of an author it’s a great series to follow.

I’ll update later this week, but for now, here’s to nurturing goals:
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Photographic Evidence

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I’ve been playing hooky
Running away from stress
Enjoying the weather
And forgetting my whole mess

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I’ve been playing hooky
And seeking out beauty
That comes this time of year
While running after cuties

I’ve been playing hooky
I have my proof, you see
All that I’ve been doing
Is inspiration for me
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The Art of Procrastination

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Art of Procrastination

I’m the most productive procrastinator I know.
You can tell how much I’m avoiding something by how organized my home is. In the past few days I’ve cleaned the kids’ playroom, organized their closets, straightened my desk, and helped my parents with their organizing.
This past Friday, I received my full professional critique back from Laurie Halse Anderson. (Yes, you have the right to be jealous!) She did a thorough job. After reading her write-up I knew she hit my strengths and weakness spot on. But I’ve been avoiding reading through the manuscript—not quite sure what to do with myself when what I’ve been waiting months for is back in my court. I’ll be forced to act, to move CORRODED up to the next level toward publication.
And it’s paralyzing.
So, rather than taking that last step, I did everything else I could possibly do without feeling guilty. Things that need to be done. I couldn’t just sit in front of the TV and zone-out. I’m not wired that way. Those that have spent an extended period of time around me know I’m a pacer. I can’t sit still when the situation is out of the norm—my nervous energy must be put to work. And sitting down and reading through 176 pages of blue (not red) notes on my story is beyond my sphere of comfort.
But I finally did it Saturday night. It wasn’t as painful as I expected. Now, I’m laying out my plan of action for the rewrite—think this will be edit #7…

What was I thinking?!

Yes, I used two, count them, TWO, punctuation marks because my situation is a question and an exclamatory. Read onto find out why.
If you’re a reader of this blog, know me personally, or even just hear about me from someone else, you probably know I’m a writer. People have paid me for my words, though not as often as I’d like, and my words have been read by possibly hundreds of thousands of people. (One of my articles appeared in a magazine with a circulation of over 500,000.)
And if you’ve been in contact with me in recent years, you’ve probably heard I’m working on a novel. My WIP. Corroded. My first long-term project in over a decade. It’s been slow, more often than not unsteady, progress.
Sure, I’ve got a list of prime excuses for being too busy to write, but the fact is, I could write a lot more than I do. I’m a procrastinator when it comes to things that make me nervous. Nervous energy and me are first cousins. I pace, which can be good because when I sit down, there are kids crawling on me within seconds. Typing with a kid hanging on your shoulders is difficult. Hand writing impossible. It makes me want Nathaniel Hawthorne’s desk in the third story writing tower he had built over his home in Concord. Besides being a floor above the noise of his household, he had a custom standing height desk. (Which is the perfect height for me—had a lovely daydream while standing at his desk and looking out on the forested hillside when I visited Wayside.) He stood while writing, so I’m thinking he was a pacer, too.
This past week I’ve been procrastinating my writing because I received an answer to my prayers—a literary dream come true. And that dream turned reality has caused anxiety.
A month ago there was a terrible tornado in Joplin, Mo. As with the response from the deadly tornadoes in northern Alabama not long before, several authors stepped up to personally donate money as well as hold fundraisers for relief efforts. One of my literary heroes, Laurie Halse Anderson, decided to give of herself to help the Joplin area.
Laurie Halse Anderson! If her name sounds familiar it’s because she’s one of the biggest young adult authors of the last decade (though she writers for younger readers, too.) Heard a bunch of smack talked about YA books in the press lately or about books being banned in school libraries? Read any blogs/articles where YA readers/authors of all ages defend teen books? More than half of those articles mention Laurie Halse Anderson’s books or quote her directly, both the pro and con. Tweet much? Try #YASAVES.
Several of my blogs over the past few years mention LHA. I’ve done her Write Fifteen Minute a Day (WFMAD) online writing boosts, taken her Blog Free February (BFF) to the highest level of commitment—no social media all month, and have traveled to New Orleans to meet her while she’s been on book tours—even made HER blog for that!
Back to the relief efforts… Laurie decided to auction/raffle a full manuscript critique in order to help raise money for the Joplin/Ozark area Red Cross. The requirements were for every $10 you donate, you get one entry into the raffle. I begged around to family and friends and a few people donated in my behalf to up the odds. And I prayed, as did others. And I won!
I need to get Corroded as polished as possible within the next few months in able to not waste LHA’s time and get the most help out of the critique. But that dream come true is looming like a thunderstorm over an outdoor graduation ceremony!
When I’m not pacing—or caring for kids or doing church work or planning writers guild events or any other number of worthy causes—I’m hiding within the pages of other people’s books.
Literally.
I was loaned this interesting adventure by one friend (who I let know not to loan me another book in a series until the WHOLE series is out. Must wait for the rest of the story…):

And then I FINALLY started reading The Hunger Games trilogy. I’m now on this borrowed copy from another friend:

I’m up into the wee hours of the morning reading. Too tired to wake up before the kids to exercise first thing. Without the physical conditioning my creativity and motivation is slumping. My brain is fried from the summer heat by the end of the day so all I want to do is lay in bed at night and read. Which leads to late nights with my book light and groggy mornings. Rinse and repeat.
Now, I’m breaking my silence and the cycle.
I will do some form of exercise daily, beginning today.
I will NOT open Catching Fire, or any other novel, until I have written at least 30 minutes.
I will set my alarm each morning and get out of bed in a timely fashion no matter how late I am up.
And I want you to hold me accountable. Send an e-mail, tweet, comment, or actually in person ask if I’m any closer to sending Corroded to Laurie Halse Anderson. Because that action now freaks me out.
Do I really want to know what a NYT best selling author thinks about my work?
Do I really want one of my literary heroes to tell me what is wrong with it? (And what’s good, but the negative always shouts louder in my head.)
Won’t rejection feel worse from someone I admire than a faceless agent or editor?
What was I thinking?!
That it would be an excellent opportunity to be read by someone whose work I admire.
That learning the strengths—and weaknesses—in the story will help me hone my writing/editing skills.
That a possible blurb from a NYT best selling author will be a great foot in the door to the publishing industry. And the bragging rights aren’t bad either.
There’s a motivational poster slogan that reads: You cannot fulfill your dreams unless you dare to risk it all.
So, please, dare me to write. Dare me to finish Corroded and send it to Laurie Halse Anderson for critique. And then dare me to accept the advice and write on.