Writing retreat

I’m on a writing retreat with three friends at a cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. It’s beautiful here. We sat around a fire earlier in the burn pit (I made the fire and it actually happened, whoot!) and now we’ve retreated to our own spaces to write. I’m excited about getting more work done on my novel, and I think this might be just the way to get it really going.

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be here, and for the opportunity it’s giving me. I just wanted to get on here and warm up a little before I dive in. I’m hoping I write a little on the blog each day. As usual, we’ll see.

Anyway, on to the novel.

All kinds of writing

The last two days I’ve been writing, but not fiction. My children’s dance teacher, who had been an important part of all our lives for more than a decade, died last week after a long battle with cancer. I have been writing the obituary. It’s the first one I’ve written in a while. I guess the last ones I wrote was when I was working for the newspaper in the early part of the 2010s. The last one I wrote that wasn’t work-related was my sister’s in 2009.

So I’ve been working on the full and brief versions of this obituary for two days, talking to the family and sending them drafts for revisions. I’ll be sending it to the local newspaper this evening, and then the others will be submitted in the coming days. In the meantime, I’ve been working on my new manuscript, reading and revising, and creating a few new words.. I went to my writing group on Saturday afternoon. Church was cancelled due to paint fumes on Sunday, thankfully, because it gave me more obituary writing time. Then we went to my husband’s family’s home for the Superbowl, and the ladies all went to the movies (The Greatest Showman, by the way, was AMAZING). Then more obituary writing.

Today’s co-op day, so I’m with the rest of the homeschool moms, manning the greeters table while revising the obit and talking to the family.

And blogging.

And working on SCBWI Oklahoma blog parade details and publicity for the upcoming conference. And helping to sell snacks as a fundraiser for the senior class, lol.

I’m thankful, though. I’m thankful this family trusts me enough to allow me to write the obituary for them. I’m introverted and awkward sometimes, so I don’t know if I’m the best person to lean on in a time of grief. I’m not good at knowing when to hug, or when to bring a meal, or when to say something. I am good at writing, and being able to use that gift to help the people I care about is something I’m very grateful about.

Whistlepig day

I’m sitting at a tea shop about thirty minutes from my house right now. It’s Feb. 2. Groundhog’s day. My cousin’s birthday. Yesterday was an important day for me too, for different reasons. It’s not something that I need to share, but I did want to commemorate it for myself, if nothing else. I can at least say that it’s the day that started me on the spiritual journey I find myself on every day now.

Turns out one negative of having a spiritual journey is sometimes you can’t write as diligently as you used to. I haven’t written in my old way for two years now. Before Feb. 1, 2016, I wrote a lot. I was writing every day, pretty much. Weekends I gave myself a break and only wrote fanfic, ha ha. But after that date, when things changed, it was harder. I wrote one chapter of a fanfic for Valentine’s Day that year and never took it any farther, even though it was an amazing, stellar idea. Since then I’ve written so much less. I worked on a novel but I really didn’t do anything like I wanted to. And I didn’t finish it. I still want to. I also wrote the first three chapters of a proposed write for hire project. And I did rewrites on my finished novels and wrote new scenes. I suppose I have blogged as well, but it’s sporadic. I’m even posting on social media less.

So here I am at the tea shop, hoping that a chance of pace will get me back at it. I started an amazing idea in January and got 5,000 words on it. Not enough, but a reasonable start. My friend Kim (who my oldest daughter referred to as her mom’s book friend) will be here in a bit. She’s very kind to try to help me get my groove back.

So that’s about it. Ready for this to be the year. The year of everything.

And now I need to work on the manuscript instead of procrastinating any more. At least I don’t know what the wifi password is here (and I’m too inverted to ask, lol).

Balance

Finding balance is something that seems to keep eluding me. I used to have no problem getting my books written and handling the rest of my life as well. I mean, it wasn’t easy, but it was doable.

It’s harder now. I finally thought I found a solution, and went to a relative’s unoccupied house for what was supposed to be several days. I did a lot of plotting and wrote more than twice what I consider enough for a truly “successful” day. But the next day, my family needed me. They then reassured me that they had everything under control, but I couldn’t write anymore. I couldn’t just sit and write and selfishly take all that time for myself when my family was crying out. So I drove the three hours home and didn’t write any more.

Now it’s several days later and I’ve still to write more. I’m currently in my regular writing spot – a couch in the corner of our TV room while several other family members watch TV. Sometimes I use headphones while I do this, but I haven’t seen them since I took them to my aunt and uncle’s anniversary party (I wrote words on the long car ride).

Anyway. Going out of town proved to me that I do still have the ability to write, and to write a lot of words and write well. But I still have the issue that when other matters press down on me, it stifles my creativity. That’ the balance I’m looking for – how to take time for myself and do the project I want to do, but also to care for the ones I love in the way I need to.

Also, I want to encourage you all to visit my friend Sonia Gensler’s blog today and learn about how to find community at an SCBWI conference. It’s part 2 in our blog parade, leading up to our SCBWI Oklahoma spring conference the first week of April. Check it out!

SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference Blog Parade

blog parade banner 2018

I am so stoked to announce the 2018 SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference Blog Parade!!

blog parade blogger picsWe have a great lineup of bloggers this year and I am honored to be the first out of the chute. Our other volunteers are Holly Abston (hollyabston.com), illustrator of two children’s books (Mila Denton’s Worst Week Ever! and The Night the Mice Sang); Sonia Gensler (soniagensler.com), award-winning author of young adult and middle grade novels (The Revenant, The Dark Between, and Ghostlight); Jennifer Latham (jenniferlatham.com), author of two young adult novels (Scarlett Undercover and Dreamland Burning); Valerie R Lawson (valerierlawson.wordpress.com), who writes young adult and middle grade, volunteers as social media coordinator for SCBWI Oklahoma, and runs the successful twitter chat #okscbwichat each month; Mariana Llanos (marianallanos.com), award-winning author of six books for children (A Superpower for Me, No Birthday for Mara, Tristan Wolf, A Planet for Tristan Wolf, The Wanting Monster, and The Staircase on Pine Street); Barbara Lowell (barbaralowell.com), award winning author of three nonfiction books (Daring Amelia, George Ferris: What a Wheel, and Engineering AT&T Stadium) plus nine forthcoming books for children; Gaye Sanders (gayesanders.com), author of one picture book (The Survivor Tree) which debuted in 2017; Doug Solter (dougsolter.com), author of young adult novels (The Gems: Spies Like Me, Skid, Rivals, Legends, Champions, and My Girlfriend Bites); Kim Ventrella (kimventrella.com), whose debut middle grade novel (Skeleton Tree) was published in late 2017; and KJ Williams (booklover1blog.com), author of a forthcoming children’s book (Camp Not Allowed) debuting in February 2018.
blog parade blogger names

Each one of these fine bloggers will be taking a turn writing about our conference through the beginning of April (see sidebar with the specific dates for each blogger).
You can see why I am honored to be part of such a great group!
Make sure to stop by each bloggers site and keep up with all the information about this year’s spring conference (which will be held April 6-7 in Oklahoma City). You can also find out more about the conference by visiting our website (oklahoma.scbwi.org) or checking out SCBWI Oklahoma on facebook, twitter, or Instagram.

 

About SCBWI:

Founded in 1971 by a group of Los Angeles-based children’s writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is a non-profit, 501 (c)3 organization which is  one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators. It is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television and multimedia. Several of the most prestigious children’s literature professionals sit on the SCBWI Board of Advisors.

The SCBWI acts as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people. As a unified body, the SCBWI acts as a powerful force to effect important changes within the field of children’s literature, promoting new copyright legislation, equitable treatment of authors and artists and fair contract terms.

There are currently more than 22,000 members worldwide, in over 70 regional chapters writing and illustrating in all genres for young readers, making it the largest children’s writing organization in the world.

Thirty Days of Gratitute 30

So I never go around to finishing this. And now it is halfway through January. But I have a blog post to publish about our amazing SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference Blog Parade (!) so I guess it’s time to wrap this puppy up.

So without further ado:

What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for?

Writing, I guess. I mean, I know I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for other skills too, but I suppose that’s the numero uno. It should be, right? On a writer’s website?

It’s been hard lately. I haven’t felt the muse for about two years now. I don’t know how to get it back. My super-smart published author friend Kim says I need to keep writing, and it’ll lift the fog I feel in my mind these days. I’m sure she’s right.

And I keep plugging away. I’m not as far into my new novel as I’d like to be, but I’ve gotten good feedback and when I read it, I can see that the skill is still there. It’s just not as easy to do at the moment. I’m still thankful for it, though.

What do you do when your creativity isn’t flowing easily? Ideas?

Thirty days of gratitude 28

What small thing that happened today are you grateful for?

So I’m kind of getting caught up on these. But it’s actually the 29th today. So should I do one from yesterday or today?

How about both? Yesterday I was grateful that my 14 year old son made dinner because I couldn’t be home until 7:30. And after dinner, my husband got me some ice cream and we ate it while we watched Great British Bake Off on Netflix. And that was pretty sweet.

Right now I am grateful because all three of my darling children are not here. They are at martial arts and dance. And the darling husband is still at work. And even though I love my family it is SO NICE to be by myself. Even the cats and dogs aren’t around me right now. It’s just me, and the computer, and a little Christmas music wafting in from the dining room. It’s quite grand.

And tonight we get to watch the season finale of GBBO. Which is lovely and also quite sad, alas.