Saturday, June 30, 2018

Dreaming Out a Story

Earlier this year, I was on a roll (for me) with my creative writing. I was making time to write because writing was easy: I knew the story I was trying tell (fantasy YA with a lot of fairy tale elements), I knew where I was going in my plot, and the words were just taking me from Point A to Point B.

And then April came, and the momentum I had going dribbled away. I still knew the story I was trying to tell, and I still knew where I was going in my plot, but my words quit getting me from Point A to Point B. I was ending up at Point A.254366666 ... and Point B seemed to get further away the more I wrote! Which made sitting down to write so much more frustrating - to the point that I went from writing daily to writing weekly, if I was lucky.

But I think I've finally figured out why.

Before I ever sat down to write, I had asked myself a lot of questions. For example, if my main character is First Daughter, and therefore immune to magic, how on earth is she imprisoned by magic? (Answer: she isn't! But since she's not immune to real things, and a magically enhanced real wall would effectively confine her. Problem solved.)

By the time I actually sat down to write, I had several critical scenes imagined in my head for the first part of my story. (Here's a snip of one pre-scene that I incorporated into my story, after a fashion.) So I wasn’t writing so much as describing - and connecting - my imaginings.

But I’d only gotten so far with my imaginings. So this month, I started off by dreaming again. How does my main character learn how to use her gifts, when no one else knows what she needs to learn? What are the motivations driving some of the side characters we meet along the way, so I know how they should react to my plot twists?

I had to literally dream my way to the finish line. And while I’m not there yet, I’m a lot closer to getting there!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018 Creative Writing Goals

Last year, I did something I had never, ever done before. I dusted off an old children's story I'd written before my son was born (in 2008 ... it took me only 9 years!), and I actually sent it to literary agents for consideration.

I had been at this point years ago - query letter written, agent and editor lists compiled, manuscript finished - but I'd never. actually. sent. my manuscript. (Arg!)

And then, I did. And I went to a writers conference. And I got inspired to write for fun again. I'm now 30,000 words (and counting!) into a story that I'm enjoying writing. And even though my agent queries resulted in a series of polite, form rejections, I am undaunted.

So my goals for 2018? To keep writing. To keep querying. To self-publish at least one e-book. To keep enjoying the process and keep moving forward!

I hope that you'll tag along for my adventure (because every adventure is improved with great company, and yes, I can always benefit from some accountability!). You can keep up with me here, over at my website, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

Here's to great writing in 2018!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Cards for Real Life

Three Wishes
Three Wishes * Cards for Real Life
I know there are people who manage to get divorced with minimal amounts of stress, drama and antipathy toward their (soon-to-be) ex-spouse.
I wasn't one of those.
I called my older sister just about every day to vent over the idiocy, the unfairness and the misery of dealing with my ex during my divorce. Thank goodness her sense of humor runs about as black as mine — I was desperate to find something to laugh about, because I was done with crying.
She sent me a great divorce greeting card that made me laugh. It also, though, made me go "hmmm ..."
A few years later, after the divorce drama had evolved into co-parenting drama, I got the same exact card from an entirely different person.
And my "hmmm ..." turned into an "aha!"
Thus was Three Wishes born: greeting cards that pair my fairly awful sense of humor with the shitty occasions that happen all-too-often in real life: divorce, lousy exes, bad strategies for dealing with life — all the things you can cry or laugh (or do both) over.
I don't update these cards often (despite the fact that I have a backlog of inspiration), but as I see friends confronting similar situations, I revisit. And I think "hmmm ..."
So you may be seeing more "hmmm ..." in the future!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Writing Again

A long, loooong time ago, I used to write. For fun.

I think I started trying to write stories just about the time I was learning to write. It might actually be my fault we found termites in our underground house 30 years ago (they can eat through concrete walls ... who knew?). Because they made mincemeat of the stacks (and stacks) of paper that I had scrawled stories on and stuffed in the bookcase in the back of my closet. Those stories, obviously, got tossed. But I kept writing. I won my first writing competition when I was in 5th grade, and I kept going.

Writing was easy, an extension of dreaming, and it was something I was good at without much effort. So when it came time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I had an easy answer: I was going to be a writer.

Surprisingly, my family was OK with that. Probably because my previous aspiration was being a Broadway singer. Nothing like setting the bar for making a decent living reeeeally low to make things like writing seem like a solid career choice.

And it worked. I definitely wasn't making the big bucks right out of college (hello, general assignment reporter at my hometown weekly newspaper!), but I made a living. Since then, my skills as a writer have always been a part of my job regardless of where my career path has gone (and yes, it's been a pretty windy road).

But the more I wrote to work, the less I wrote for fun. And a few years ago, I pretty much stopped altogether. It happened before I had my son, so I can't completely blame it on mommy-brain (which is my excuse for pretty much everything in life).

I'm not sure what prompted me to take up writing  again. Maybe it was because I started reading again; maybe it's because I'm happy again; maybe it's because I'm to a point where I have too many dreams to keep track of in my head anymore.

But I'm writing again. And it's fun (and hard). And it's not earth-shattering or serious (except when it is) or even close to being something like done — but I'm writing again!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Inspiration in Odd Places

Mz. Mommy
This past weekend, I got the odd urge to dust. It's an odd urge, because I don't get it very often, and I indulge in it even less often. Which is probably why dusting is a swear-worthy chore in my home (of both the I'm-going-to-do-this-more-often-I-SWEAR and HOLY-GUACAMOLE-look-at-the-size-of-that-dust-bunny varieties).

This time was no different.

What was different was the AH-HA! moment I had while dusting my baseboards (closely followed by an EW moment, but that's a whole other story).

I'm going to thank a relatively new habit for my ah-ha moment: I've been making it a point to write every day. Becoming a mom, going back to work full time, becoming a single mom ... all those things made a myth of spare time, when I would previously have been writing or doodling or reading or dreaming.

Spare time isn't like spare change anymore: I don't find it lying around between moments of busy the way you might find quarters between your couch cushions. I make spare time at the expense of other things that should get done. I have more flexible priorities than spare time, I suppose.

So this year, I rearranged my priorities and wrote down the ones I want to happen daily: praying, writing, time for me ... those kinds of things. I'm not saying that these things actually happen every day, but they happen a lot more often than they did before.

And I think dedicating more time to writing has helped me notice and imagine more things worth writing about.

Which brings me back to my dust-bunny ah-ha moment: I know the next story I want to write. Mz. Mommy vs. The Dust Bunny From Hell: A Grown-Up Picture Book (which is NOT the same as an adult picture book ... 'cause that would just be weird). Or some variation of that. But it will definitely feature the Dust Bunny From Hell.

And in a teaser: there's wine. Wine for the win!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Long Road to Home

It's amazing how time flies when you're ... busy.

Last year, I bought a house. This purchase was a lot like a summer blockbuster movie: the lead up was highly anticipated, the crucial it-ain't-gonna-happen moment was hair-raising, heroes saved the day, and everyone lived happily-ever-after.

Happily-ever-after looks a lot different that I thought it would back in the day. Then, it looked like picket fences, 2.5 kids and family barbecues.

Today, it looks more like empty flower beds crying out for flowers and evergreens and new mulch. It looks like one irascible 8-year-old. It looks like Crock-Pot dinners splashed over green 1990s countertops that are equally distant from trendy and classic.

But it also looks like backyards just waiting to be dreamed in. Like empty walls crying out to be hung with memories. Like rooms waiting to echo back the laughter and love that will make this house our home.

This is MY happily ever after. It isn't the happily-ever-after I imagined for myself, but that's OK. This one is even better!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Guerrilla Snuggling

My baby boy isn't a baby any more. Earlier this month, he turned 8. 8! I'm not sure when that happened, but the truth is undeniable: the boy before me is definitely not the sweet little guy I remember toddling around in diapers.

Obviously, as he's gotten older, our challenges have changed. Some of them (walking, feeding himself, tying his own shoes, etc.), he's mastered. Others, like bedtime battles, come and go: we have months of no problems what-so-ever, and then a sudden spate of backsliding and delaying.

One of those come-and-go challenges has been the ever evolving bed war. Not bedtime battles: bed wars. As in, Mommy's bed is better than his bed, so therefore, he wants to sleep in there. He wants to go to sleep in there. He wants to wake up in the middle of the night and climb into Mom's bed and continue sleeping there. 

This battle began round about the time he moved into a big-boy bed. At that time, he was a jungle sleeper: tossing and turning, somersaulting and ninja-kicking his way through the night. It was pretty easy for me to summon the energy to carry him back to his room, because I LIKE my kidneys, and a few months of getting kicked in them while pregnant was enough to last me several lifetimes.

As he's gotten older, he's less likely to climb into my bed in the middle of the night, but his tactics for bed-takeover have gotten sneakier. He's resorted to guerrilla snuggling. This is snuggling with the intention of getting the entire bed to himself. It starts off sweet: he snuggles up to me in the middle of the bed. This gets uncomfortable, so I shift to the side. He snuggles closer. I shift again. Closer. Shift. Closer. Shift. Until I am less than half awake and clinging to a tiny sliver of bed, with a vast ocean of available real estate on the other side of the sweetly snuggling boy.

I know our snuggling days are numbered. So it's hard to complain (much) about being snuggled right out of sleep. Although that's easier to remember when the guerrilla snuggling episodes are a few weeks behind us.