Progress

tumblr_leknacfugq1qd5bkeo1_500

If you don’t divide your large goals up into milestones and check progress often, how do you ever hope to accomplish anything?  In the interest of holding myself accountable, here’s my progress:

  • 1 romance novel-still stalled out in editing.  Something doesn’t feel right.  I’ve shelved it for now.  Will tackle again soon (that’s the rather ethereal soon, with no actual date in mind.  It likely means not yet)
  • 1 high fantasy and it’s sequel-completely edited.  Recently discovered a small error in punctuation.  Seriously hoping it didn’t run all of both books.  Will have to crack those open again and double check.  Not looking forward to that, but they’re good stories so I must not let them die by punctuation.
  • 1 YA scifi-just finished the first edit.  Passing them along to my expert and a beta reader today.  Stressing about word count and the possibility of having to query, but it’s good!
  • Several half written old stories that I could/should really dig out and look at again.  You know the ones from before I decided to make a go at this.
  • About 5 ideas in the raw idea bank which could, at any time, spring to life and take over my google drive (like the last one did)

All in all, it’s progress and I’m happy with it.  Thanks for all the encouragement!

Who said it?

I love the internet.  It’s the only place where you can chase down an argument that happened months or years ago without your knowledge and live it like it’s brand new.

I was digging around for a quote this morning on writing.  I came across this one.

professional writer

Then I decided to search the quote and make sure it really came from Richard Bach.

I found this.

http://richardbach.com/famous-quotes-i-didnt-write/

In the article, Richard Bach claims he didn’t write the quote.  He says he has used the quote before in his talks but always credits it to someone else.  He asked readers to help him identify the source of the quote.

My favorite part comes in the first comment.

A reader informed him “So how did your name get attached to it? In A Gift of Wings you wrote, “An old maxim says a professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.””

Meaning this crazy story is solved.  Richard Bach may not have said it first, but he did write it in the way we use it today.  He’s also admitted to using it in talks.  Pretty easy to see how this one came to be credited to him.

I’ll give it to him.

If you’re interested the original quote, “The only difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is that the published writer didn’t give up” is credited to Elaine Fantle Shimberg.

Milestones

5490878766_14e3e8db6e_b

I’m so busy trying to edit quickly so I can start sending query letters.  It’s like I’ve forgotten what a waiting game sending query letters will be.  I’m literally dashing to join the line of people waiting.  It’s odd.

I need to remember to slow down and appreciate the fact that the first draft is done!

DONE.

As in typed out.  Outline run its course.  Done.

That’s a good feeling.

What are the other milestones that we blow past in an effort to get to the next?

Editing

Does-your-book-need-editing

This will be a quick post today.  I just wanted to drop in and tell you all that I LOVE EDITING!

I didn’t think I would.  I mean, I’m a perfectionist.  I’m the kind of person who hears “no one has ever done that perfectly” as a challenge.

Although I might wear myself out in the process.
Although I might wear myself out in the process.

So when it came time to edit for the first time, I thought I would hate it.  What perfectionist likes their flaws pointed out?  Turns out, I love it.  It’s a second chance.  I’m reading this book again, this book that I just wrote.  On one hand I’m thinking “dang, I’m good” and on the other I’m thinking “this little tweak will make it even better”.

Check out #amediting on twitter if you don’t believe me.  People post all the time about small changes they made that make all the difference.  But it’s not a bad thing.  It’s like a treasure hunt.  Look what I found that I can improve on.  I found it.  I improved it.  I’m an all-star.

I’m gonna go edit now.  BYE!

P.S. I am fully aware that once someone else is editing I may have a different opinion.  Let’s tackle that problem once it arrives…

Daily Struggle

As I sit here typing with you, the hubby is still sleeping.  It’s still dark.  The computer screen is giving off this odd glow that kind of illuminates the keyboard, not enough to let me see letters.  So, you know, I’m basically thanking my old typewriting teacher for forcing me to learn how to type on home keys.  Let’s hope I don’t need an asterisk anytime soon.

The kids are still sleeping, which means it’s quiet in here too.

They're probably not even this cute about their sleep.
They’re probably not even this cute about their sleep.

But it’s the good kind of quiet.  Not like when they’ve been home from school for an hour and suddenly it gets quiet.  Those are the times when you come around the corner and they’re writing on the wall with marker, or squirting powder all over creation to pretend they live in the Frozen movie.

That is not snow and I will not "let it go"
That is not snow and I will not “let it go”

No, this is the peaceful morning quiet.  Before the hustle and bustle of life.

This is the time when I write best.  I can work on this blog (hello World), I can work on my story (OMG the newest one is first-draft done), or I can just catch up on Twitter (okay that one takes like 10 seconds, it’s good for a day when I’m running a little behind schedule).  Either way this is my time.

Today as I sit here that thought enters my mind, the pesky one.  The one like a small fly buzzing around in your brain that you can’t swat away.  Go to work or write?

I could call in sick today and probably blow through a ton of editing.  I bet I could even choose my next raw idea and start outlining another novel.  Think of all the writing I could get done.

But I’m a teacher.  Those kids, they need me.  Seriously, have you seen a group of kids with or after a sub?  It’s not pretty.  Plus no one is paying me to write.  People are paying me to teach.  I need to get my butt out of this chair and go to work. I need to put on my adult shoes and adult today.

Work wins.

But one day, after all this chugging along, someone will pay me to write and I will love that job like I’ve never loved a job before (and that’s saying something because I really do love teaching).

On that day, writing will win.

Open champagne
There will be celebrating

That idea is the fuel to fire up my morning.  What’s yours?

Dreams

moon-478982_640

Everyone has dreams, right?  No I’m not talking about the one where you run from zombies while wearing only ugly underwear and passing by everyone you went to high school with.

I mean day dreams.  The goals you still admit only to yourself, lest you fail at them.

When you were a kid you probably had loads of them.  I know my kids do.  My son wants to play for the NHL but also own a five star restaurant where he can cook.  My daughter wants to teach kindergarten, dance, and be a waitress; odd combination for sure.

I teach a room full of fifth graders and they all have them too.  Astronaut, President, fast-food worker (this one is either depressing or a realist, I haven’t decided yet), and professional athletes of all kinds.  My daughter’s first grade friends have younger yet somehow more brilliant aspirations; fairy Princess and superhero both came up.

So what happened to adults dreaming?

When did adults stop admitting to everyone who would listen that we have odd dreams and goals?

I say enough is enough.  Let’s act like kids again.  Let’s stand on our soapbox, dream big, and reach for it.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Remember that old saying that was probably tacked to the wall in your favorite elementary teacher’s classroom?  Reach for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.  Something like that.

I want to be a writer.  I want you to be able to walk into a B&N or heck even a Target (I’m not a book shopping snob) and pick a copy of my book up off the shelf and read it.  I want someone to send me a paycheck for writing that book.  I want to be able to work on more writing and get paid for it.  I’ll take the deadlines, the editors, and the stress.  I want it.

Dream big, folks. What have we got to lose?

What are your dreams?

Top 10 Cringe Inducing Comments from the Classroom

Oh not this one again
Make it stop

It’s that time of year again.  The time when you send the kiddies back to the teachers, happily skipping away content in your knowledge that summer has ended.  Time for teachers to take up their Expo brand markers, which we still have full stock of because it’s so early in the year, and start trying to mold and shape young minds.  This task would be far easier if it weren’t for the questions or statements which make us cringe like a vegetarian at a barbecue.

Without further ado I bring you the top 10 list of things all teachers loathe to hear…followed by the sarcastic comebacks we all think but most of us contain.  Enjoy.

  1. “Do we have to show our work?” 

Nope.  I’ve really perfected the art of mind reading.  You’re good.

  1. “Is this going to be on the test?”

            Of course not.  I waste your time for my health.  I’m feeling better already.

  1. “Do we have to answer in complete sentences?”

            You speak in complete sentences, therefore you write in complete sentences.

I speak in complete sentences, therefore you write in complete sentences.

  1. “Are you sure it’s not right?”

            Am I sure that 12+7 is not 3,247?  Yeah, pretty sure.

  1. “Seriously?”

            Probably.

  1. “I didn’t.”

            Okay.  Your invisible friend is a jerk.

  1. “What homework?”

            The one you clearly didn’t do.  Eh, at least it’s easy to grade.

  1. “What are we doing?”

            Wasting each other’s time.

  1. “Who says?”

            Someone who has both of us beat in the brains department, friend.

  1. “I forgot, again.”

            At this point it’s not forgetting, it’s a bad habit.

Did I forget any?  Share your favorites in the comments below. 

Audience

This is my kind of book.
This is my kind of book.

How important is it to know your readers?  How important is it to know where they will shelve your book once it’s done?

I know this is a battle that plagues a lot of people, because I’ve heard it in writing classes and online.  Why do I have to decide this?  Sheesh, people, it’s for everyone to read!  Everyone will want my book.

But that isn’t how this publishing business works.

Agents, publishers, bookstores, and readers want to know who you wrote it for.  If your reader is drawn to mystery novels it really doesn’t matter how good your romance book is, they probably won’t read it.  At least not right away.  They may pick it up after a friends swears it’s the best book ever.  But why did that friend pick it up?  It must have been on the shelf they regularly frequent.

You need to advertise right.

Okay, so it’s important.  Great.  But my book fits at least three genres and it could be either YA or Adult.  

How confusing.

It’s funny how we do this to ourselves.  Think about how you wrote when you were a child, because you probably did.  I wrote for fun.  I wrote these short, quirky little stories using the names of people I was writing for.  They always had heroic endings or obvious lessons.  They were completely tailored for the audience.

When I first sat down to write a full length book I muddled it.  You get in your head.  You over think it.  You go too broad.

So pick one-is it YA or Adult?  Who’s reading this?  Find a book that is close, something that you could say ‘oh, people reading this would love my book’.  Where is that one shelved?  Great, that’s your genre.

Make it work.

Do I have to actually change my novel to fit the category?

You don’t HAVE to do anything.  But if you want an agent to believe you when you say it’s YA Sci-Fi, you should make sure it is.  Get a beta reader who reads that genre regularly.  Ask them to read it.  Take their advice.  They have to be hooked on the story or you have to change it.  Because an agent or a publisher is going to give you 10-20 pages, they won’t wait for the climax.  They won’t wait for it to pick up around page 70.  Honestly, some readers won’t either.

Next time, take this advice.  When that new character moves into your head and starts making plans, start thinking about audience.  Outline your book, but ask yourself about audience.  Tailor this book to the audience.  Then you won’t have to change anything, it will already fit.

The audience you were aiming for will love it.  When they love it, they will pass it along to friends even if it’s outside friends’ genre.  Before you know it, you’ll be right, everyone will be reading it.

But it started with that one reader being able to find it.