Weathered

Years can be kind, weeks can be rough. Days may vary from hour to hour, minute to minute. The one constant is that time marches on. Sometimes it feels like we’re under its boots and other moments like we’re riding a wave.

Yesterday I was sorting through coins and noticed two 2015 pennies that looked like they came out of different decades: one is bright and the other has long since lost his sparkle.

pennies

What did that dull one ever do to deserve the disgrace of non-shininess? Did one of these pennies get put through the wash or dropped on the ground more than normal? Or maybe the luster was rubbed off because it was someone’s lucky penny—constantly handled and cherished. There’s no way to tell one story from the other just by looking at them and they are both worth the same, no matter what.

P.S. This is my 200th post. Many thanks for following my journey.
A contest is coming soon, so be on the lookout.

Decade in the Making

I’m halfway through the second round of content edits on Corroded (Surge Imprint from Anaiah Press, April 2016), which makes it at least the fiftieth revision. It’s been a learning curve, to be sure! Even though it’s coming out second, this is the oldest “book baby” of my adult life. My first born, but she had to stay in the ICU so that the second child, Fortitude, will be out in the world four months ahead of her.

Corroded has been through two different critique groups, a full manuscript critique by Laurie Halse Anderson, and a handful of beta readers. Not to mention that it went through two rounds of submissions—and rejections—in the past four years (when I thought she was mature enough) before she was accepted this year (on the “first” try.) I’ve swaddled and re-diapered this story more than anything else I’ve ever worked on. Early readers will recognize the story, but Corroded is now so much more than I thought possible when she was formed a decade ago.

In the beginning, I was too close to the main character. By separating myself from her, I was able to dig deeper. How is that? Probably the same way you can find yourself by losing yourself in service. I had to give up my own ideals to find the true complexities of the characters. And in doing that, I maneuvered through the layers of the story to find the heart. I journeyed so far that I ended up with two main characters and dual point-of-view novel.

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Thought it all, I couldn’t give up on Corroded. The story needed extra nurturing and that took time off and on throughout my other projects. Even now, there’s work to be done, but I’m confident the book will be the best version of itself when it’s finally released from the nursery. Anaiah Press has given me a stellar editor to make sure that happens. It’s been a longtime coming and I’m grateful for each step of the journey.

Corroded

Last week, on April Fool’s Day (no joke), I signed my second book contract with Anaiah Press. Fortunately, there is no video footage of my happy dance. That would be awkward, almost as uncomfortable as admitting it happened in the first place.

The “new book” is Corroded, a young adult, contemporary novel. Corroded has been a labor of love for nearly a decade (and will continue to be worked upon this year, as I go through professional edits with the publishing company). The story has seen numerous critiques, several dozen drafts, and much support from friends and family through the years. It’s fitting that it will be released during Autism Awareness Month because the dual point-of-view is shared between main characters Mary and Ben, who has high functioning autism.
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For those paying attention, that’s Fortitude on January 12 and Corroded on April 12, 2016. Both novels will be available in e-book and paper formats on their respected days.
In other words, “Don’t let your fortitude get corroded.” Everything happens in the proper time, in the right season (sometimes after years of labor).

P.S. Ever in tune with my literary life, Fernando is flourishing.
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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?

Profiling Characters

I finished another round of revisions on FORTITUDE. Yes, I thought I was done last fall, but nope, still had room to improve—and still do, I’m sure! Each time I edit, I get a clearer picture of the characters: who they are, what they stand for, what roll to they play to each other.100_2566 Even though I begin writing with character files and notebooks, nothing takes the place of hours upon hours with a character. A lot of who I thought a person was has changed by the sixth rewrite. Now that I’m doubly past that, I’m thinking “whoa, and I thought ______ was just a ____,” or something like that. The characters in FORTITUDE are deeper than I ever imagined.

A lot can be said for real life people, too. In an age when we tend to make snap judgments based on a person’s social media activity, living situation, etc., I say nothing takes the place of spending quality time with each other. Don’t be so quick to shove someone into a box based on what they wear, their education, or what they might repost. People are deeper than their outward expressions. There’s a lot going on inside on any given day. Take the time to discover what it is before you dismiss someone’s opinion, or their value as a character.

Nostalgic

While cleaning/organizing my desk today, I realized I’m sentimental in both a functional and not-so-functional way. Yes, my fondness for British literary movies should have been a clue, but let me give you two examples from my office to prove my point.

Exhibit One:

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Functional collection of Hello Kitty/Sanrio clips from the 1980s. I did break one of the smaller ones, it was blue with angels or something with wings… a few years back and had to toss it. The big one is scarred with bite marks—don’t ask—but I’ve kept them all these decades. They been put to use and clipped on desk organizers in between jobs.

Exhibit Two:

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My old disks: better than the floppy ones, but still completely outdated. Yes, my first four manuscripts, college assignments, and assorted poetry from the early 1990s are contained on them. But most of those documents can also be found in my filing cabinet, on paper.

Do I have a computer with the appropriate disk drive? No.

Will I ever use these disks again? No.

Can I throw them away? No.

What are you hanging on to from years, decades, or centuries past?

The Calm

Last week’s tidal extremes have leveled out—and that’s a good thing. Each day’s not as emotionally draining, so there’s more energy for the rest of life.

First, I’ll share what literary news I do have. I passed thirty thousand words with FORTITUDE last night. I’m still trying to finish this draft by the end of the month, but I’m not going to stress if I don’t. That whole “don’t let your fortitude get corroded” thing will keep me from being too hard on myself.

I did celebrate a birthday last week. I kept mum about it, but I want to share a gift I received that has ties to this blog.
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Yes, a fern terrarium to help me keep my dreams alive. One of my first thoughts was to name the fern on the tree “Corroded” and the terrarium “Fortitude” but my slightly superstitious mind then thought that if one died, there goes that novels chance in the world. And to reinforce that my initial idea wasn’t a good one, I spotted another fern beginning in a bed of moss on a different tree in the yard.
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No way I’m ready for a third project!

Yet.

On a personal note, I’m finishing up the last month of homeschooling with my kids before we break for several weeks in June. A break for us just means no paperwork. We’re forever learning and exploring—together and separately.

For the new readers (hello out there!) you can keep up with what books I’m devouring and other fun tidbits on my Facebook page and Twitter. Also, I’ve updated the look of my website, so if you’re reading this via e-mail, take the time to click over the site and let me know what you think.