Springing Along

After finishing the first draft of my latest project at the end of March, I took a few days off to reset my mind. Powering through 118,000 words in just over two months merits a mini-break. Then, I dove into what I think was my final round–or next to final round–of self edits (draft twenty-four) of Barren Devotion, the seventh novel in The Possession Chronicles.

One of the period pieces of photography that helped me set the mood for Barren Devotion.

Yesterday, I completed the first draft of a short story to submit to the next Mobile Writers Guild anthology. The deadline is May first, so I’ll be powering through edits the next few weeks. I even gave it the first round of edits last night after only a couple hours away from it–not the best thing to do, but I’m on a time crunch. Generally, the longer you’re away from a project, the easier it is to see the flaws. Fortunately, I have just enough time to submit the story to my critique group so it can have more eyes on it before submitting. That’s always a good thing–especially for writers like me with dyslexic tendencies.

It looks like the rest of April will be spent editing the short story, while waiting to hear from the editor of Haunted Remains, the 6th novel in The Possession Chronicles. The next book releases this July and several editing rounds with a professional will be happening before then. And the cover art–I always look forward to that.

I already have an idea for another project, but it’s on hold until I see to these deadline projects. I tend to get obsessive about projects and find it difficult to balance more than one at a time, so I hold back the new ideas until I get a clear creative calendar. That doesn’t work for everyone. A lot of people I know, if they don’t act on an idea, they lose it. For me, it builds up like pressure behind a dam and when I get to it, it spews out. Not a pretty visual, but first drafts are messy.

At least, that’s how it’s worked for me the past few years. Creativity has an ebb and flow, just like the rest of life. I used to not be able to fast draft. Now I can–except for last year. It took me thirteen months to draft one novel when the previous six novels took an average of two months each. But this last one put me back on my fast draft schedule. I don’t force it–I go with it. Life is too short to be overly hard on yourself, especially with creativity. Take breaks, reset, allow your output to change with life’s demands. We’re human.

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.)

May 14

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

What are you working toward?

The Waiting Game

Last weekend marked the fourth month I’ve been waiting to hear from publishing companies about CORRODED. Usually, I’m calm about it but since the three month mark passed, I get keyed up about it at least once a week.
Well, more like every other day—internally.
Externally, I’ll mention it weekly to sympathizing friends or family members.
Internally: screaming.
Externally: pacing.
Internally: obsessive thinking.
Externally: over-snacking.
You get the picture.
Rather than worry about it further (today), I’m going to turn up my “Fortitude Groove Soundtrack” and write. Nothing like escaping into a Spanish-American War Camp to clear one’s mind of publishing concerns.
9th1898 SpanAm Tampa

Speak Loudly

When I asked for ideas for a hundredth blog post, a friend thought I should have my hundredth on New Year’s Day. Sounds like a good plan, even though it means seriously kicking up my blogging habits. After all, I’ve been at it four years this month and only have ninety-three—now ninety-four—to my name.

But, as my previous post mentions, now is a time of reflection.

One of the changes in me this year has been vocalizing my opinions. This could be seen as good or bad, depending on your own ideals, but for me it has been freeing. If I merely listen to or read other people’s thoughts, I tend to obsess over the situation. But if I share my side, I am able to move on. It’s not about converting others to my way of thinking—the act of giving voice is empowering in itself. I’m shy and have held my tongue for most of my life but this year I found my strength. What I have to say is important—even if just to me. The people around me don’t have to agree, nor I agree with them, but each of our opinions is valid.

I’d like to apologize if I’ve come across as rude over any given topic, in person or in writing. I’m the first to admit my social graces are lacking, so please forgive me because I never mean offense. Discussion is open, so please tread respectfully. After all, differences make the world what it is—varied and beautiful.

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Christmas Apologies

I hear the song “Christmas Time is Here” several times a week—almost daily—during the month of December. My special needs son is a Peanuts head. He has perfect pitch and a great talent for mimicking voices. Next time you want to hear Charlie Brown music, just ask. He serenaded my friend thing morning… No, the singing isn’t what I want to apologize for. (Unless, uh… it really hurts your ears.) I would like to confess a prior judgmental attitude. I’ve freed myself of it and wish to publicly say I’m sorry. I came to the realization of the errors of my thinking a couple years ago, but still held on to that “it won’t be me” attitude. I’M SORRY TO ALL THOSE PEOPLE OVER THE COURSE OF MY LIFETIME THAT I THOUGHT REALLY DIDN’T CARE BECAUSE THEY ONLY GAVE ME A CHRISTMAS CARD WITH THEIR NAMED SIGNED IN IT! There. It’s out. I judged. And now I am guilty of the same offense—even worse! This year I handed out/mailed a pre-printed Kodak Christmas card (with my kidlets picture on it, of course) to 98% of the people on my list. I didn’t even have to sign my name on it—I only addressed the envelopes! And I didn’t do a year-in-review family letter to go with it. Yes, it’s been sneaking up on me. Here’s my sad tale: Once upon a time, I mulled over a personalized paragraph for each recipient of a Christmas card. After one child, the cards just had a couple lines—and a wallet-sized photo of the darling kidlet. Two kids = bigger photo and maybe a sentence in greeting/closing. Three kids = a half-way decent picture of the three of them or all separate on a collage picture card if they weren’t cooperative… and about half the people on the list got an actual paper card as well. Here’s a sample from 2009, doctored to protect the innocent:

This year is the year of the photo card, with few exceptions. Maybe it’s the wordsmith in me, but I used to think that if someone didn’t care enough to at least write me a little note, why bother to give me the card. I showed them love and appreciation by writing them a few words of reflection or hope—wasn’t I worth that effort on their part? So, yeah… Life happens. My daily list of tasks to accomplish swells. As I mature, my ability to love grows and my circle of family and friends expands with that love. AND I DO CARE, EVEN IF I DIDN’T SIGN MY NAME! In closing I want your thoughts. Is it better to keep a circle small in order to pad a Christmas card with words or share a short greeting (or three smiling faces) with a wider group of people?