The Balancing Game

 

Everything in life is part of a daily balancing game. But for non-published authors we have an extra piece that we love and cherish that we need to dedicate ourselves, in order to keep going. Not to mention at least for me I’m a mother of three homeschooling teens (which I will have to admit has made life easier), a wife, library volunteer, home owner of a house up for sale, friend, CP/beta reader, and owned by two dogs and we’ll stop there.

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Every day I carve out time for my three loves writing, the husband and my kids no matter what’s on my plate. Whether I’m waking at three in the morning or staying up until three in the morning I find the time for writing.

While, making sure to spend time with my husband so we never forget why we fell in love and started down this road of life together in the first place.

Every afternoon I make sure to follow up on the kid’s virtual classes and school work, and be an overall nosey, huggie mom.Image result for mom helping with homework gif

Luckily for me when it comes to meals, my husband was a chef and cooking rarely lands in my lap which is just another moment I steal to write, whether it be a scene or an outline or even a blog post. My family has become a driving force and cheerleaders, always finding distractions for themselves so I have more time to write.Related image

My friends are super pushy about writing. Heck, some have been known to bribe me with wine to write or submit my writing.

In this game of life writing is where I find myself, this piece of the balancing game may not pay, —yet. But it is my only job and I will work till I get paid.

No matter what if writing is what you love find the time even if it’s on your smart phone during breaks at work or the commute home—or waiting to pick up your kids in the car loop. Continue to find the balance that works for you and your life. The game belongs to you, you don’t belong to the game.

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My Pitch Wars Journey So Far

First, I want to give a big thank you to the amazing Pitch Wars team and all the amazing mentors for giving their time and resources to help the writing community.

Pitch Wars for me is an opportunity to learn from those who know much more than me. To help elevate myself, my craft and my book.

I enter back in 2015 and I didn’t make the cut but holy heck did I learn a boat load. Like that my grammar was killing me and that my word count was holding me back. I had a word count of two book and though the word count wasn’t unheard of in my genre it was for a debut author. I also learned that writing is, not a solitary craft, it was a community activity. Let me tell you, my mind was blown.Image result for mind blown gif

After, setting my manuscript to the side for over a year I wasn’t even sure I wanted to continue with the book. But after what I describe as my summer of change, (which was the longest summer of my life, flowing deep into Autumn) I walked into the winter of 2016 ready to get back to a part of me I missed. In December I pulled my manuscript out and made some major cuts. One cut in particular hurt, but I pushed on and got rid of unnecessary words. Wow, the word’s “that” and “yeah” needed to take a hike.

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By the time January rolled around I got a second, third and fourth set of eyes on it and with the contest in mind I went back to revising and line edits.

Ready for more eyes again I found some beta readers and two amazing CP’s that are strong where I can be weak. And with the kind of luck I’ve never had before, I had the eyes of a mentor and previous mentee on my query and first chapter.

With all that said I’m spending the weekend before submissions listening to my manuscript once again on a text to speech app while I read along on my laptop to catch anything I can.

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I will enter my submission in a couple days along with everyone else. But the day before I do so I will take a moment to center myself align my chakras wash my hair, go buy coffee reserves, chocolate with coconut truffle and cheese laced foods. Image result for girl eating snacks gif

But once it’s in it’s all out of my hands and up to the fabulous minds of the mentors. I have made plans for during and after: During, my daughter and I will be filming a video to a New Kids songs, because not only am I still a Blockhead but so is she. I will also be working on a different manuscript which has no intentions of waiting in line behind all the other book ideas. I will find comfort in my community of writers and my incredible husband.

After the mentors picks, if I get in I hope to be making those plans with my amazing mentor. But if I don’t get in my plan is to continue working with my CP’s and to hopefully be able to afford a freelance editor. Then I’m off to query agents.

Ultimately there is nothing I won’t do to see this book published. No task too long, too short, too big that I won’t tackle. I will run through fire I will work my fingers to the bone, if that’s what it takes but this book will be published. There’s no work too hard, no words too harsh. I will never give up.

To Katherine and Raquel thank you for your critiques, your support and your friendships.

To all the other mentee hopefuls I wish you all much success in Pitch Wars and beyond.

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The Writing Process & How Mine Changed

I stalk the Pitch War hashtag trying to learn new things. And late last month they posted a graphic with questions for everyday in July. I was super excited to jump in. I decide to do as many in advance as possible, but when I got to Day 5; Plotter, Pantser or Plantser. I thought maybe there was something I was missing, so I did what I do best: research. I started with the dictionary on my phone and then the one on my shelf—nothing. So I did what all sensible writers do I googled it. And there it was blog, after blog. I learned I’m a plasnter, which makes me feel like I’m planting a garden.

When I first started writing I tried really hard to be a plotter, to the point where I couldn’t get anything written. I was desperately trying to outline an entire book before writing even one scene. I just couldn’t get past it, and in turn I would lose the idea. Then one day I read an interview with a YA author and she explained that she started the book with a scene from the middle of the book.
And I thought… Why didn’t I think of that? I mean really?

Later that day I started writing my current manuscript, more specifically, the second chapter. But when I got half way through the book I realized that I needed to know more about this world of fairies and Elves and Dragons, where it was taking my main character. Why my main character was there? The reasons had changed while I was writing.
I ran to the one person who understands my thinking process better than anyone, my husband. We bounced idea’s back and forth until I had a firm grasp on what my main character needed. I put on blinders and went back to plotting, but this time I started an outline without a problem.

I wrote down all the events, already in the manuscript on index cards placing them on the floor. I knew my ending, and some of scenes to get my protagonist there. I wrote them on the cards and put them in place. Then I taped the index cards to my office wall, making it easier to move the cards around or to move one down to make room for a needed connection between scenes. From time to time I turn cards around to add details about conversations, actions or scenery.

When I finally figured out the beginning I wrote it on a card and put it in place, or at least so I thought, I figured it out. I’ve rewritten the first chapter several times since.

The experience taught me a lot. I now write the original scene that sparks a new book idea before I lose the creative juices altogether. If the story won’t be put in line to wait its turn in the deep dark corner of my usb, then I outline the story around the original idea, writing any scenes that come to me.

However, I still write my scenes in the order they come to me and rarely is that in chronological order.

What drew me to be a writer?

For me that question is a bit complicated and a long story. I’ve loved writing since before I could spell, or even read for that matter. But for the longest time I was the only one that could read my stories. My road to writing is intertwined with my struggle to learn to read.

I was 13 years old the summer I learned to read. My dyslexia made reading a struggle and a public school system that wasn’t ready to teach me made it a nightmare.

When I was in first grade, I lived in one of the biggest cities in the U.S (way back in the day). My teacher told my parents I was stupid and slow. For unrelated reasons we moved to New England where the school system took the time to test and diagnose my dyslexia. Yep, I said diagnose most label, I digress. But they weren’t equipped to handle my learning needs either.  

My last year of public school was spent testing and talking to lawyers in an attempt to get me school voucher. I had just turned 13, and was a year older than the rest of my classmates. When I graduated elementary school, I was reading at a first grade level and was in third grade math.

I got the voucher and set off to see if a six-week summer program could help. I met a teacher fresh out of college along with these awful books called “Let’s Read”. By the end of the program I walked away reading at a third grade level and let’s just say I was beyond my grade level in Math. After several years of attending the boarding school, I learned to read, I had the resources I needed and my creative writing took wings. My teachers encouraged me immensely to continue writing.

However, what I still lacked was self-confidence. I was always writing and even won some small local contests. But I couldn’t muster up the courage to read a menu at a restaurant.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my oldest that I knew I had to learn to be comfortable reading especially out loud, to avoid the fear of stammering while I read. By the time I was pregnant with my youngest, I knew my oldest was dyslexic and I was going to have to be his advocate which meant I had to read better, quicker, learn more. I had to foster a love of reading in them. So, I learned everything I could I brushed up on all the research I could.

For my personal reading I went in search of a book I had started in high school but lost. Out of print and not on the book shelves of any book store, I found a library that was closing. I read every word out loud to my growing belly in-between reading to my other two, three times a day.

In all that time I wanted to write novels but it wasn’t until I took reading into my own hands and used the resources around me. That I was able to sit down and push my fingers to tell the story my head wouldn’t stop repeating.

I love to learn I make a point to learn something new every day.

I want to thank my husband for every moment he was by my side thrusting books my way and taking me to book stores and libraries. I love you.