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?

Cycles of Life

It’s been an interesting two weeks. Highs and lows, appointments and responsibilities. Nature and modern life colliding in a symphony of emotions.

I was able to help with the Mobile Writers’ Guild Third Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Competition for middle and high school students in the area. It was labor intensive, but rewarding and when friends are involved it makes it fun. Thanks to Joyce Scarbrough for her keen editorial eye and snazzy remarks.

My birthday was celebrated this weekend. While it wasn’t a milestone, I’m getting closer to it and the world must smell the opportunity. Offers of increasing my life insurance policy and testimonial sales pitches for health products arrived. But along with those came a birthday wish from my writing mentor, as well as a dozen others thanks to social media. I received hopeful gifts like this, too:
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All in all, it was a fun few days of celebration and surprises.

Then, I spent a day at Dauphin Island beach with my kids and another friend and her family. It was gorgeous, and the sun was kind enough to leave a reminders of the day well spent. There’s also a half-bucket of shells under my desk, waiting for the kidlet to decide she wants them back after gifting them to me.

After the festivities, I received yet another “pass” (that’s the P.C. term for rejection), but not a few hours later, I got this literary road sign from a dynamic, crafty duo to brighten my day and inspire me to keep those literary dreams alive.
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Amazing, isn’t it?

So, while Fernando might currently look like this (and, yes, I did just water him)…
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… I’m still plugging away with my writing. Plus, there’s this beauty of sight and scent waiting for me for the next several days.
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What have you been inspired by—even in the face of discouragement—lately?

Signs

I’m not superstitious, but… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gU5Vg2JokU
Had to add that song because I can’t say “superstitious” without it playing in my head. And, yes, Europe is still around and sounding better than ever.

This morning I approached my desk to write the beginning of my new story. Yes, pre-writing is complete and it’s time to get to work! I pulled the blinds open and saw not one, but FIVE pairs of indigo buntings around the bird feeder area (which is just a few feet away from Fernando, if you were wondering.) Indigo buntings are beautiful—my simple camera, especially pictures taken through a window screen—can’t do them justice. Since they are BLUE, and the younger a gorgeous turquoise, you can easily spot them.

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I’ve only seen indigos once or twice in my yard, and it’s been several years since my last sighting. I thought it was amazingly cool, but didn’t put the birds together with writing until I noticed something on the floor. Right next to my anti-fatigue mat (you got it—I use a standing desk because it worked for Hawthorne and I like to pace) a picture was lying face-down. One of my favorite pictures, that just so happens to be me with local writing friend, Joyce Scarbrough, and my writing hero, Laurie Halse Anderson. At some point during the night it jumped off the top of my bulletin board and landed in my path.

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Then it all made sense to this creative brain of mine: my story is about to take flight and I’ve got good company on the journey. Or something like that.

While I’m not superstitious, I do believe in signs.

What do you believe in?

Attachment Writing

You’ve heard of attachment parenting, right? Parents wear their babies and co-sleep with them and everything. Well, I’m attachment writing. See my cute little bundle of joy!
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It’s gone everywhere with me this week: my youngest son’s Jiu-Jitsu class, my oldest son’s youth activity, and I even held it while watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last night. (Oh, my, was it a good one!)
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My lovely, purple clipboard has it all a separate compartment for writing instruments, storage area large enough for a full-size spiral notebook, and a clip on the front to keep paper in place when needed. Standing over a foot tall, it doubles as a lap desk and coordinates with my other Office Depot bargain finds, like these lovely stacking crates that even the God of Thunder approves of.
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Yes, I’m kicking it old school with paper and pen because I need to know the chronological narrative of my characters before the official beginning of the story. I have the location, characters, and history. Now, I’m waiting for their names and the main plot points to strike me. I want my paper nearby when the time is ripe to move on to the next level. My baby has me covered.
What thoughts are you rocking to sleep tonight?

New Program

I’m in the hunting and gathering part of writing. This time called “pre-writing” can drag on as long as you feel the need to procrastinate—I mean organize your ideas. As part of the new project, I bought and downloaded a writing program called Scrivener. A Mobile Writers’ Guild meeting a few months ago had a presentation on it and it looks promising.
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If I can get past a document title.

Yes, I know many books are renamed before publication, but for me and my mind, I need a firm title in place before setting down the first words. My titles give me something to draw upon when I’m losing direction. (Case in point: Don’t let your fortitude get corroded.)

I’m one of those people who like to have a title right from the beginning. Usually, titles are easy for me to find during that hunter-gatherer part of my process. Not so this time. Even as my process is stumbling and the title evasive, I can already tell this story is going to be different for me. Perfect time to throw in a new computer program, huh? It’s all going to be a learning experience.

As for now, I’ve got a several research books (and even a CD) on hold at the library that I need to pick up. Maybe one will hold the treasure of a title for my new work in progress.

Feeding the Muse

I’ve gotten notes back from two more beta readers—as well as one literary agent who turned down FORTITUDE. Now, I’m back to writing and editing to strengthen a few things before the next round of submissions/queries.

To help this creative groove keep its momentum, I’m listening to a lot of music. (Something I talk about a lot here.) In the car, my iPod played Europe on shuffle for about a week straight. My eight-year-old knows who Joey Tempest and John Norum are. They have so many great songs spanning thirty years and the music got into my head. The other night I dreamt about turning Europe songs into books—with the band member’s permission (in person, of course, because it was a dream.)
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Today, I switched over to Boston. I’m sure space-themed dreams will follow. It’s happened before—and spawned a manuscript.

What do you do to feed your creativity?

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Light it Up, Softly

Sensory issues are often the crux of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, and because most people spend their waking hours with their eyes open, visual problems are often the most tiresome. Light sources, rather natural or manmade, can be a blessing or curse for those with this sensitivity. 100_4588

In the U.S., we’re on the verge of a possible lighting crisis. The turn of the New Year will mark another reduction in light bulb options, closing the choice of yet more incandescent bulbs at stores around the country. Fluorescent lights, whether long strip bulbs or the compact swirly ones (which are terrible for the earth—read the disposal warning on them), are often visual triggers for susceptible people. The flicker, harsh glow, and even the hum of the offending bulbs can cause headache, eye fatigue or emotional meltdowns for those with sensory difficulties.

The same thing happened, not long ago, in the United Kingdom. You can read one account of it here. http://www.autism.org.uk/working-with/leisure-and-environments/architects/light-sensitivity-and-autism.aspx

This an important situation for me, as myself and loved ones suffer from light sensitivity. Ben, one of the main characters in CORRODED (one of my fictional labors of love, yet-to-be-published stories) has to deal with this as well. Here’s a little peek, from Chapter Ten, when Mary and Ben are at his house playing a round of Battleship.

“You never explained to me why you don’t go outside during the day,” I said.
“I go outside. Remember the first day we met? I sat on the porch with you and your mom.”
“Oh… well, then why don’t you go for walks and stuff?” I asked.
“I’m sensitive to sunlight.”
“Like, you burn easily?”
Ben shook his hands like he was air-drying them. “No, it’s my eyes. Bright sunlight causes sensory overload and I can barely function. Fluorescent light does the same thing. It’s common for Aspies.”
I looked up at the soft white glow of the over-head lights. “So, going to schools and office buildings must be difficult.”
“The worst. That’s one of the reasons I homeschool. If I do have to venture out for a medical appointment or something I wear sunglasses inside.”