Tag Archives: life

things to keep you sane while querying

20 Apr

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I have a theory: you can query agents with your manuscript and not go crazy at the same time.

Crazy, right?

I’m currently in the querying trenches for the third time in my writing career, and, given that, I think this is a topic I am arguably qualified to weigh in on. I’ve maintained a relative level of sanity during my querying bouts (you know, more or less) and I’m still standing (don’t mind my hunch).

Here’s how I’m doing it:

  1. Let yourself go a little crazy – Yeah, forget about staying completely sane. The title was a lie to lure you in. But no worries! A little crazy isn’t bad, right? You’re only human, and this reaction is only natural. Fighting it means fighting yourself, and you’re not going to do that because–well, because it’s mean. You cannot expect yourself to stay calm, and rational, and with perfectly styled hair. Not at a time like this. The sooner your come to terms with losing your shit a bit, the sooner you’ll be able to survive this process.
  2. Be kind to yourself – This one first and foremost. You are doing a ridiculously difficult thing by putting your work out there. You will have to wait a lot, and the waiting will make you feel like your brain is being picked away at by a toothpick. You’ll also get rejections — lots of rejections. Those will make you go all greyscale, and people will wonder why you’re no longer in color, and you’ll wonder why your heart feels so swollen and sad. This is the time to be kind. Don’t beat yourself up because you spent all day obsessively refreshing your inbox. That’s normal. Don’t insult yourself because you found a typo in your query. Join the club instead. We have snacks. The best thing you can do while querying is to practice empathy towards yourself. Imagine a beloved friend being in your shoes. The kindness that you would dish out for them is the same kindness you should give to yourself.
  3. Get creative – This is the best time you could possible pick to throw yourself at another creative endeavor. Start writing a new book. Take a painting class. Plant a garden. Restore an old Model A. Do that granny graffiti thing where you cover your town with knitting. As much as you can, obsess about something new and shiny. Your brain wants to create. Give it an outlet, and let it go.
  4. Don’t rush your process – If you’ve set a goal to have a literary agent by some date or a published book before you turn whatever age, take it back this instant, so help me God. You can’t control any of that, and if you can’t control it then it has no business on your list of goals. You can control how many words you write a day, when you finish your book by, and how many agents you’re going to query in a week, but you can’t control the publishing industry. You will do yourself a disservice if you try. There’s not time limit here. Focus on controlling the things you can control, and let the rest come when it comes.
  5. Enjoy your freedom – You have no deadlines right now. Editors aren’t breathing down your neck for your work. There is no drama unfolding on your Goodreads’ page about what a piece of crap you are. The Twitter trolls aren’t after you, you’re not burnt out from book tours, and you have no stress about your series being canceled before you can wrap it up. At this moment, it’s just you and your work. And I bet one day you’ll miss this.

The truth is, your mind is going to run itself into the ground. Your going to feel all the feels, sometimes every single one in the course of a single day. Your going to question yourself at every turn, and you may even consider giving up.

Just like each and every one of your favorite authors before you.

This is it, friends. You’re doing it, and you’re doing great.

 

the benifits of a continuous practice

21 Mar

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Recently, I stated using Instagram to document my #continuouspractice. The basic idea is to pick something you want to practice and stick with it for 100 days, documenting as you go along. I picked writing, which I first felt was a little silly since I’m already writing nearly everyday as it is. Still. I think, more than anything, I wanted to give it a go so I could see all my minutes, hours, and days building in this new format. It’s been a way for me to look back and see that, wow, this is all adding up. I’m devoted af, and it’s creating whole, complete, magnificent works.

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And so, every day, I snap a picture of my writing time. Later I post the pic to Instagram and to a private writing group I’m a part of on Facebook where we keep a daily #continuouspractice thread.

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The practice has helped me to focus in on my work more so than I was without it. I’ve seen how my days add up, and so I try to use them to the fullest. I finished editing my WIP quicker than I expected. Now I’m using my practice to work up the next big idea as well as set time aside for this little ol’ blog of mine.

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Feel free to follow me on Instagram for more, and don’t hesitate to jump into the wonderful world of #continuouspractice, whatever your practice may be.

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Happy writing!

currently

19 Jun

I haven’t done one of these ‘currently’ post for awhile. Actually, I haven’t done any post for awhile. Truth be told, I’ve been busy moving and writing and then moving again. I’m done moving now. So let’s get back to blogging with one of these.

I AM CURRENTLY…

WRITING :: I’m finishing up my YA fantasy, Feed Me To the Wolves. It’s about a young Conchan girl (think gypsy meets viking) with a very big secret. You’re going to have to trust me on this one, but when you live with a clan of people who dedicate their lives to killing the shrev (think monster wolves), being able to communicate with canines is not a good thing. I’m hoping to wrap it up this weekend. I’ll share a teaser when I do.

READING :: The Wrath and the Dawn. So far, it is amazing. I want more books like it. Now.

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LISTENING TO :: Famous guys read famous poems. This is what I do when washing dishes. Here is a goodie:

DRINKING :: Earl Grey each morning, french roast each afternoon. I’m in a rut. A beautiful, happy rut that I don’t care to come out of any time soon.

CONSIDERING :: Options in chicken feed and horse feed. Exciting? Oh yeah.

WANTING :: This fantastic little pillow from Shop Jeen:

11.24.14_0124_cry_here_grandeAnd, that’s all I have in my vat of ‘currently’ to pull from. The next time I post I will most likely be spewing joy and sonnets over completing the first draft of my novel. Sonnets? That may be pushing it. Haikus are more my style.

Until then!

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a dozen things i’d tell my younger self

14 Oct
Ronald and me, circa 2010, Thailand

Thailand, 2008

1. Go ahead. Hang up on those telemarketers.

2. Don’t sweat the mess. Keeping a tidy house is not how you want to be spending you time, trust me. Did someone see it? Don’t sweat that either. IT’S FINE. So you’re not going to be remembered for how orderly you were. So what?

3. The world is a wildly confusing place. Form your opinions, but don’t expect to be right all the time.

4. Don’t rush your plans. Think slowly and carefully about where you’re going with your life. At the same time…

5. Make decisions! Yeah, you’re going to make bad ones, but picking a path and walking down it is better than being in limbo all the time.

6. Mistakes are great. Mistakes are the best teachers.

7. Rejection will help to refine your art and transform you into a badass. Don’t shy away from it.

8. Let the kids flip the pancakes, even though they suck at it.

9. Wake up early. You actually like it. No joke.

10. This is not a perfect little world so drop the perfect little facade. Things getting real? Well, get real with them. Don’t be embarrassed for you or anyone else. You’re not putting on a play. Besides, if you were putting on a play then you’d need all of that emotional and awkward  and messed up stuff or else it’d just be boring.

11. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

12. Persistence is key. Forget about easy. Easy gets you nothing.

Anyone else feeling any of these? I missed a lot. Anything you would add?

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productivity & perspective

7 Mar

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If someone had stopped by my house two days ago at around three o’clock in the afternoon, it would have been easy for them to make a few unsavory judgments about me.

I was still in my pajamas, the sink behind me was full of dirty dishes, and I had a towel slung over my arm because I was just heading into the bathroom to take my shower.

Again, this was at three in the afternoon.

Here are some of the things that could have gone through their mind:

“She’s lazy.”

“Lucky stay-at-home moms.”

“Gee, I wonder when she finally rolled out of bed…”

“I wish I didn’t have a job and responsibilities to show up for every day.”

“Doesn’t she want to do anything with her life?”

They would have had quite a bit of evidence at their disposal for making those kinds of judgments too, but they’d still be lacking one important thing: Perspective.

Two days ago, come three in the afternoon, I was overjoyed with all I had accomplished. I’d been on  a consistent diet of 5:30 wake-ups for awhile, but that particular morning saw me up at 5:00. I had a hefty list of edits to make on my middle grade novel and a plan to get the story polished for literary agents. Long before the sun came up in the sky, I was at my kitchen table giving all I had in the form of a Word document. I worked until the kids woke up at 8:00 and paused long enough to get them ready for the day and fed. When they went off to play, I hit my edits even harder until it was time for the kids and I to get busy with their homeschool work. I cleared my computer and my mountains of notes off of the table, and we pulled out their papers and books. Letters, math, reading, and endless questions – we made a time of it, and soon we were clearing the table off again. I whipped together some grub for lunch, we ate, I cleared the table again, and, when the kids were settled in front of a movie, I got back to my novel. I worked until three o’clock, seven hours at my keyboard spent fixing, figuring, writing, and rewriting.

The kid’s movie was over and they were hungry for snack. Half in a daze, I got them food and told them how proud I was that they had been so good for me and let me get so much accomplished. Then I told them that I required a shower if I was going to be able to get my mind straight and have fun with them for the rest of the day. I took a shower, beaming and blushing with how close I was to my goal of querying agents, and got dressed.

Then it hit me: it was 3:30 before I’d gotten dressed.

Wouldn’t it be so easy for someone to assume I’d done little to nothing with my day had they only seen pieces of evidence with none of the perspective?

I’m a writer and a mom. Work for people like me looks a bit… odd. Productivity is difficult, when even possible, to measure.

As a writer, I can announce that I wrote 5,000 words in a single day, but only my fellow writers are going to see that number for what it’s worth. And there are many more days when I go backwards in word count, editing the heck out of my manuscript, yet those days are often just as productive and necessary.

As a mom, there are days when just keeping the kids fed and attended to is all I can manage. You moms with your teething babies know what I’m talking about. And if I take a much needed day to clean, organize, and revamp the basement, it might look amazing down there come 5:30, but the rest of the house is going to be in shambles and dinner is going to be a frozen pizza. And the neighbor will likely stop by and think I did nothing but scroll Facebook.

A farmer can bale X acres of hay, a teacher can go through so many lessons with so many kids, an IT guy can get his eight hours, and a mason can lay block for a whole basement.

But not all forms of work lend themselves to being measured this easily. And not all forms of work require pants.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, pajamas can be perfectly acceptable work attire.

Oh, and judging productivity accurately requires perspective. 

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the thing about gratitude

15 Feb

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This is our family’s gratitude garland. We started it at the end of last December with just a couple of tags and a Sharpie. I was the one who insisted on it. I could feel my gratefulness slipping through my fingers, and it wasn’t a feeling I enjoyed.

The thing is, gratitude isn’t just a mindset I can switch into; it’s not sitting there for me to grab anytime I want it.

Gratitude – the kind that sticks to me whether my circumstances are rosy or not – that kind of gratitude takes practice.

I used to keep a gratitude journal. Everyday I’d scribble in it the things I didn’t want to take for granted. Mostly they were little things: The sound of Piper’s giggle, the smell of coffee, the way the kids had woken up happy and not grumpy. A haiku my dad had sent to me and my mom. The haiku reply my mom sent back.

Little things. The light on the kitchen table kinds of things.

Over time I grew more joyful and content. I was blessed. I’d recorded the blessings and they looked back at me, proving it.

IMGP0240 (2)Then I slowed down in my record keeping. Life got hectic. Occasionally I’d type out a quick list on Twitter using the hashtag #gratitudes. I fell out of the practice of a grateful heart.

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I don’t enjoy my life near as much when I find myself ungrateful for it. So the garland went up and is still going up, piece by piece. And my art journal/planner now doubles as a place where I keep the list going (an email from Clayton, cilantro in the pasta, kind words from one of the kids) so that my mind is constantly brought back to how blessed I am.

I’m not trying to sugar-coat anything; Life is often times downright awful.

But I find I can latch onto small gratitudes, even in those miserable times, so long as I’m well practiced in it.

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So, that’s it. That’s all I wanted to say.

Oh, and I gave the ol’ blog a little makeover. Do you like it? There are still some things that need adding and tweaking (Twitter feed, anyone?), but I’ve only had small bits of time to work on it. Hopefully I’ll be done with the revamp in another week or so.

Winter’s getting a bit long, and the edits on my book are getting more and more difficult. Maybe I’ll get on here a bit more often 😉

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i’m going to ramble & there will be ecards

5 Oct

This could not go wrong, scientifically speaking.

First, frustrations. Because, as my personal checks clearly state, I am freakishly talented! Really, I am. Yet my bank account does not properly relate this little tidbit of information, and when I am drug from my fantasy world to survey this unfortunate fact I am left frustrated and confused. How could I be that poor?! Talented, wonderful me?! Oh yeah. I almost forgot:

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I hate that stupid ecard.

Also? My house is a wreck, and I haven’t been on top the laundry situation in our home for about… 2 years. This is not a joke. This is a sad, sad truth. But, for my sake, let’s look on the bright side:

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I love that ecard.*

Okay, okay. I’m good now. I have no money and my house is as organized as a $5 bin at WalMart but let’s move on. Because I have good things to ramble about too!

For instance, my husband and I celebrated my newly minted first draft Wednesday night by eating way too much Mexican food while the kids were at Awana. What did we talk about over fajitas, chalupas, and copious amounts of chips and queso? Writing, because this was my celebration, dang it. He asked me what my game plan for NaNoWriMo was, and I told him.

Umm, curl into a ball and cry?

No! I mean, uh, rewrite The Warrior! Yes, that’s it. Because I love this story too much to not torture myself with it a bit longer.

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This means I’ve been busy thinking and planning and, you know…

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So, that’s the big news. NaNoWriMo is coming up. When you see me during November and find that I’m incapable of decent conversation and have dribbles of coffee down my crumpled shirt please cut me some slack. A novel in a month is difficult (especially when you have a job, 3 kids whom you homeschool, and you’re pregnant and scatterbrained enough as it is), and this will be my reality :

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I hope you’ll take part in NaNoWriMo with me. Because, well, NANOWRIMO!

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I’ll be writing along side two or three friends, my dad, a sister-in-law (I think. Heather. Are you there? Are you writing?), three nieces, and countless internet buddies. YOU COULD TOTALLY JOIN IN.

Think about it.

*If your house is clean, please forgive me. I’m just trying to make myself feel better. Let me grasp my strings, and kudos to you, my tidy reader.

**I know it wasn’t an ecard. My blog; my rules.

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