January 31, 2013

"Seeing" Things Differently

Funny how 40 makes you "see" things differently. Some of these clearer visions are welcomed. Some, however, are not.

I am fighting the inevitable need for reading glasses. All my girlfriends told me it would happen, and I chose not to believe. Then, I turned 40. Suddenly, I'm making the views bigger on Word and Blogger.

So imagine my glee when I started using Safari and I noticed the eyeglass symbol in the upper lefthand corner of my menu bar. Finally, an easier way to make my screen bigger so I could see it easier. 



It's the symbol for Reading List... a place where you can collect webpages and links to read later. Sounds wonderful. When I was in my 20s, even in my 30s, I never would have looked at that symbol and thought, "Yeah! Reading glasses."

And thus is part of my adventure into discovery.

Every day I realize how much my view of things changes, but I think in some ways I am seeing things clearer.

Oh, and for those of you that don't use Safari and can't see the small symbol above...

There it is --------------------->

I'm sure it's a pretty cool tool, and I intend to check it out, but I wanted to save all my 40-something friends from getting excited that it was a simple way to make your computer words clearer.

Now, you may go about your regular days.

Happy Thursday!

January 28, 2013

About Me: From Writing to Peanut Butter & Mayo

I started blogging late in 2010 when my first novel (and so far only--but I plan to remedy that soon!), Depression Cookies, came out. Yes, I started after the book came out. I knew nothing except that I wanted to write and find an online community to share all the aspects of writing with... the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Today, thanks to published author and blogger Steve Tremp, who came up with the idea of the Please Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself Blogfest, I am able to take a moment to reconnect with the wonderful online community I've found. Plus the blogfest is being co-hosted by a dear friend, Elise Fallson, as well as two other amazing authors, Carolyn Brown and Mark Koopmans.

My first novel, Depression Cookies, was co-written with my mom. It's a coming of age story told from two different perspectives, a teenage daughter and middle-aged mother. It was the 2011 Readers Favorite Silver award winner for Realistic Fiction (and Finalist for Chick Lit) as well as the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist in Chick Lit.

Eight Fun Facts About Me

* I participated in my first NaNoWriMo this past November and won! It was crazy, but exhilarating.

* I completed my first half marathon last September, just after turning 40.

* I met my husband my third day of college and on a blind date.

* I moved, on average, every 3 years my whole life. Each of my daughters was born in a different city/state (Chicago, IL; San Diego, CA; Baltimore, MD).

* My favorite book of the last five years: Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

* My favorite sandwich is sliced bananas, mayonnaise, and peanut butter. 

* I am the oldest of three girls, and we have 8 girls between us.

* I am a word nerd. 
Some of my favorite words include: discombobulated, catawampus (although I'm equally drawn to it's synonym, askew), fastidious, persnickety, audacity, prevaricate. Really, I should stop. I'm getting giddy. My least favorite word: irregardless. Oh wait, it isn't a word, so it wouldn't qualify. *wink* 

I can't wait to hop around and reacquaint myself with old friends and make some new ones. If you missed the blogfest and happen to stop by, tell me something interesting about you in the comments below.

January 25, 2013

Writer's Conference & Writing Competition

My new theme for 2013 is discovery. Since 2013 has had a bumpy start, I'm determined to discover new things about myself and my writing (see my post, Eagerly Awaiting Discovery).

To that end, I wanted to share a wonderful new Writer's Conference and writing competition... 

Pamlico Writers
Conference & Competition
Writing In Our Time
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Washington Civic Center
Located in Historic Downtown
Washington, North Carolina

A Sampling of the Lineup
Panel Discussion: Publishing in Our Time--featuring an amazing lineup

Keynote Speaker: Bland Simpson, Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at UNC-Chapel Hill

Workshops Include
Writing for Young Adults*
Humor in Writing
Memoir & Beginnings
The Prose Poem: Where Do We Draw the Line?
Finding the Story Shape: A Pattern Language for Fiction

For more details on workshops and speakers, please visit here and download the registration brochure. The registration deadline is February 15, 2013.

In addition, there is a Writing Competition. The full rules can be found here on the Beaufort County Arts Council website. A few details:

* February 1, 2013 Entry Deadline
* Categories: Prose: Fiction, Prose: Non-Fiction, Prose: Young Adult, Poetry, High School (no fee required for high school)
* Prose - 2500 word maximum
* Poetry - 200 word maximum
* $100 cash prize for 1st place & $50 cash prize for 2nd place will be awarded in each category
* A $500 Scholarship Award will be granted to the best high school entry

For those in the area, I hope you will consider coming. Both my mom and I will be there, and I'm looking forward to discovering new things about my writing. All of which I will come back and share with all of you.

* I am particularly excited about this one. Devyn Dawson, YA author of the Light Tamer Trilogy, is the speaker. Check her out here. I am hoping to pick up some pointers for my YA novel, Chasing Memories.

January 21, 2013

Eagerly Awaiting Discovery: ROW80 Update

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are." Bernice Johnson Reagon 

I started to not write an update today. Technically, I am NOT writing an update "today" since it's 1:46am and therefore tomorrow, but I digress...

Life has continued to challenge me. After a great trip to Colorado, I came home to go downhill fast. Truth be told, I never really kicked the first illness, and my body was not appreciating it.

"What's all this grand talk you've been spouting about slowing down and taking care of yourself, Missy," my body screamed.

The last few days have been a blur of sickness and commitments. Long story short, I ended up in Urgent Care with two breathing treatments and steroids. The diagnosis: sinusitis, bronchitis, and the beginnings of pneumonia. Four scripts later, I was home.

I admit it. Life's challenges have paralyzed me. 

Those who know me, know what it takes for me to say that. I appreciate how blessed I am, and how much worse things can get. Yet, I feel immobile.

Now, I eagerly await the discovery phase. 

But first, a codeine-induced sleep.

January 16, 2013

Soul Searching: ROW80 Update

2013 is already shaping up to be an interesting year. I blame turning 40 in August. I feel like I'm over-evaluating everything. Throw in an illness and a wonderfully exhausting girls' trip, and there have already been a lot of opportunities for introspection this year.

Good things have come from this, but it's also left me struggling with the day-to-day like blogging. 

The beauty and serenity of Breckenridge
January will be the month of soul searching. I have been going at an unsustainable pace for way too long. In some ways it feels like a failure to say that. In others, it feels like a much-needed admission and release.

Sixteen days into 2013, and I have...

- Finished an editing project that was on my desk since September. I met with my client in Colorado while I was there. It's so nice to be part of the process that encourages authors to do the work necessary to make their book even better. It brings me great joy!

- Finished and mailed edit #2 of a young adult (maybe new adult??) paranormal book. Love. This. Book. When the author is ready for me to share more about it, I will!

- Started editing my NaNo novel, Chasing Memories

- Read 3 books, 2 are awaiting reviews on Mom in Love with Fiction

What I need to accomplish before the end of January...
(which I know I can do thanks to the support of my amazing A Round of Words in 80 Days, ROW80, friends!)

- Finish the 2nd edit on a lovely literary fiction novel, Borrowed Things. It is wonderful, and I can't wait to see what this author can do with it. I will shout it from the rooftops when it's ready to come out.

- Finish a chapter of Depression Cookies (by this weekend actually, it's overdue) 
Note: Good thing Mom, my co-author, has been understanding about her daughter's illness! 

- Re-establish a normal blogging schedule. 
To do this, I need to get my creative side stimulated. Any good suggestions for finding blog post ideas? Good online writing magazines, resources for writing prompts, anything?

- Re-establish an online presence. 

Advice Request: What have people found to be the most effective tool for managing social media time? Do you limit your time or the number of places you visit on a given day? Help! I miss my social media contacts, but I let it get out of hand.

- Start notes for Chasing Memories Book 2. It's in my head, and I want to keep the momentum from NaNo.

- Post reviews for Iduna's Apples plus three more (two still need to be read).

So those are my goals from 1/16 through 1/31. I want it to be attainable, yet productive. Hope everyone else is finding their 2013 groove.

January 9, 2013

And Then it Was Wednesday: ROW80 Update

Sunday to Wednesday always flies, but Monday to Wednesday... crazy. I was skipping through some to-dos today, when my daughter mentioned that it was Wednesday. Still, it took until now (6:30pm) to realize that meant a ROW80 update. EEK!

For those who read my Monday post about Round One goals (see here), I am feeling much better. Good thing, since I head to Colorado tomorrow.

So, I'll make this short and sweet.

A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update

The following goals were for the week of 1/7/2013 (so need to be finished by Sunday, 1/13):

  • Write 500 words minimum on my Depression Cookies follow-up.--Not yet, but I have several more days. Wish me luck!
  • Edit a combined two hours on Chasing Memories, my NaNo novel--Already done an hour, so another hour by Sunday should be a piece of cake. Wait, was I dumb enough to say that out loud?!
  • Finish an editing assignment due 1/10/13.--DONE! Yeah!
  • Finish Iduna's Apples by the lovely Jennifer Willis (the sequel to Valhallareviewed here), and read at least two more books, since I have travel time to fill.--Books packed and 3/4 of the way through on Iduna's Apples. It's a good one!
So far, I'm really liking the weekly goals. I don't feel overwhelmed.

Hope everyone is rocking the goals! 

I have to share a really sweet picture. My daughter so loves to read that she had me set up a candlelight reading area last night when our power went out for three hours. She said she couldn't go that long without reading. Call me inspired.

And, just in case anyone is wondering, the book: Reached by Ally Condie.

January 7, 2013

A Wake Up Call: ROW80 Round 1 Goals

Pardon me if I'm whispering, but Life listens carefully and mocks my best efforts. Last Wednesday, for my montly Insecure Writer's Support Group (#IWSG) post, I logically laid out my conservative plans for 2013: One Page at a Time.

A snippet...

So, each day I vow to move forward, even if it's only in some small way. But I also plan to be more realistic about time. When I overschedule myself, one small blip in the plan causes huge ripples. I don't build in any flexibility. This year, I will.

Usually New Year's is all about Yes. Yes to losing weight, yes to writing that novel. I will say yes to both of those, but I think it's more important for me to learn to say No. I truly believe I can achieve more by trying to achieve less.

Life was lurking around the corner, mocking my attempts at being conservative, knowing I don't know how to pull back. But this time, Life had an ace up her sleeve, and she played it.

This past Saturday night, after ignoring the flu for a week because I didn't really have time for it, my husband took me out to dinner... our first date night of 2013. We were discussing some of the commitments I was going to back down from this year, when the flu I'd been battling hit me like a ton of bricks. Feeling clammy and faint, we got our food to go and headed back to the car. My husband caught me three times. I then began shaking uncontrollably... five hours and some IV fluids later, and the longest date night we've had in a long time, I was sent home from the ER with stern warnings to stay in bed.

Yesterday, I stayed in bed all day. I haven't done that since... well, I can't even remember a time I was in bed all day. After canceling many things, I regrouped. I watched a movie with each of my kids. Quality time with kids: Check. I edited over 100 pages and more than caught up there. Check. I read, and almost finished, a book. Check. I even wrote 500 words. But most importantly, I realized just how much I have to reorganize my life.

So Life and I came to an understanding, which brings me to Round 1 of ROW80 2013.

Don't know about ROW80... A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. We are all different and we all have different demands on our time. Why should we all have the same goal? The simple answer is that we shouldn’t. If you want to be a writer, then you have to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to your changing circumstances. If that means changing your goals when your life blows up, so be it. ROW80 is the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life.

This round, I'm setting attainable goals weekly. That way, Life and I can have a little sit down each week, and I can reevaluate.

For the week of 1/7/2013...

I am traveling to Colorado from Thursday, 1/10 through Tuesday, 1/15, so I'm going to have a light set of goals for this week. Light, but progress. 
  • Write 500 words minimum on my Depression Cookies follow-up.
  • Edit a combined two hours on Chasing Memories, my NaNo novel.
  • Finish an editing assignment due 1/10/13.
  • Finish Iduna's Apples by the lovely Jennifer Willis (the sequel to Valhalla, reviewed here), and read at least two more books, since I have travel time to fill.
That's it. Slow and steady wins the race, especially when you are recovering from the flu and travelling.

Wishing everyone a great Round!

January 2, 2013

One Page at a Time: IWSG Update

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for my Insecure Writer's Support Group post. A huge thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for putting together this group. I appreciate the opportunity to share my insecurities on the #IWSG therapy couch and to read how others are doing.

We've all heard the saying... one day at a time. But I'm starting this year with a slight variation... one page at a time.

Looking back on 2012, I can best describe it as wildly fluctuating. I'd have stellar months of focus and achievement followed by days (okay, weeks) of complete withdrawal. I was like a small puppy, either full steam ahead or collapsed in a corner.

I completed NaNoWriMo, but barely wrote at all in the months preceding. I completed three daily blog challenges in a row April through June, and then lost steam and struggled to keep a three-day-a-week schedule. Plus, 2012 was a rough year personally... my husband lost his job (and is still looking) and my daughter was diagnosed with EE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis). Neither helped keep me balanced.

Yesterday, I took some time to consider my New Year's Resolutions. Every year, I overwhelm myself with the idea that change is the only solution. Sometimes, it's just about sticking with what you know works and doesn't work.

So back to my one page at a time theory...

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day. Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Each page of a book adds value, but not every page has a major revelation or climax. Yet a book needs each page to get from beginning to end. 

So, each day I vow to move forward, even if it's only in some small way. But I also plan to be more realistic about time. When I overschedule myself, one small blip in the plan causes huge ripples. I don't build in any flexibility. This year, I will.

Usually New Year's is all about Yes. Yes to losing weight, yes to writing that novel. I will say yes to both of those, but I think it's more important for me to learn to say No. I truly believe I can achieve more by trying to achieve less.

Am I making any sense?

There are two things I am determined to do this year... finish up my NaNo novel, Chasing Memories, and finish the follow up to Depression Cookies. Many other to-dos will flow from those goals, so it's about focus.

My plan for 2013 is to have a notebook with long-term goals (publishing two books, for example) and daily goals that support those. The tricky part will be finding a balance between what I THINK I can get done in a day and what I CAN actually get done.

This year, I'm going to view Life as a 365-page novel and focus on making each page relevant to the end.

So, my fellow writers, please share your tips for planning. How do you focus on one page at a time?

Wishing everyone a great 2013!