Conference afterglow

I went to the 2019 Spring Conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators of Oklahoma this weekend. Originally I was planning to not go. I hadn’t even updated my membership, even though I was still doing some publicity work for the group. I was very blah about the whole thing, and I couldn’t seem to get anything published. Writing was at a stall. I wasn’t even going to my SCBWI Oklahoma meetings, even though I’d always enjoyed them. I went to critique group, but it was a big challenge to go.

So I had a dream, and out of that dream came the idea for the novel I am about to begin writing. I was trying to feel more enthusiastic and writers-ly, so I invited the best writer friend I’ve got, Kim, over to talk publishing and stuff. So we hung out and talked, and she invited me to stay with her during the conference (it was in Tulsa). So I went and registered.

And then she texted me that night, super apologetic, that I couldn’t stay with her after all (for a really good reason so it was all good, but I didn’t know what to do then). Rooms were really high, and the idea of driving to Tulsa sounded so gross. Plus, my family were headed into their weekend crisis time, with one child needed rides to one place and another needed to go other places, and the eldest (who can drive) at work so she couldn’t always be there. Plus I had to get stuff ready for the theater in town by Saturday and I had a whole church lesson to get ready for my children’s church class. And there was a ladies lunch after church and I needed to bring food for that and suddenly going seemed a WHOLE LOT HARDER than staying and so I decided to stay home.

BUT

I had told our regional advisor that I would work the registration table, like I always do, and so I needed to text her and bow out gracefully. She immediately asked if it was about the hotel cost and I said kinda, but there was the other stuff too, and then she invited me to share a room with her and the ARA. For nothing. Just couchsurf with them. And even though the other stuff was still looming over head I said yes.

And it was great. I rode with Kim and stayed with the leaders. I helped a lot and the couch turned into a pullout and they invited me to eat with them several times and we got a free breakfast and I spent so little money but came away with a lot. The speakers were lovely and so fun to talk to and I got that delicious sense of camaraderie and creativity that descends on one during writing events.

So now I’m gearing up to start the new novel. I’ve been jotting down ideas in a notebook and I’m getting closer to beginning. Usually I have that perfect first line before I begin, and I’m not quite there yet, but I can feel it getting closer. I don’t have the names of the characters yet but hopefully soon.

Anyway, I got busy talking to my mom and looking at social media tools, so I’m going to get done and take care of that. And then I’m going to keep doing my plotting/planning.

Christmas show

So I finished the play I was adapting this weekend. It’s a version of A Christmas Carol that’s been relocated to our small Oklahoma town. It’s going to be performed at the theater here.

I’m not as stoked as I wish I was. It’s probably because I didn’t really do all that much. I just took someone else’s work and stuck a few fun things about our area into it. I also kind of took a stab at NaNo, but I had to finish the script first, so I haven’t done much. I’m at the point that I could catch up, but I don’t know if I’m going to.

I also have critique group this week, and then a writing retreat weekend, but I’m not super excited about those things either. I’ve been working so very hard to stay excited about my writing, even though professionally there hasn’t been much activity in so very long. I’m ready for some results…like seeing my name in print. Anyway, the enthusiasm is definitely waning. I don’t know what to do about that, either.

Poetry hour

So yeah, I decided I’m going to publish the poems here. I don’t think they’ll be seen by that many people. That’s not my intention anyway.

Honestly, I wanted to reread the first day one a couple of times this week, and I couldn’t, because it was only on my computer. So I figured I might as well blog them and then I can go read them when I want to. Also, makes my blog a little more lively so woohoo.

I went and saw my agent speak this weekend. She did really great. And we hung out for an hour or so and just talked and ate stuff and it was super cool. Now I have some ideas of what I need to do. Got me back on track, I think.

I still gotta write this Christmas play but then I’m going to write all the things. Including some brand new things.

Keep writing, Regina.

Saturday night

This was a crazy week. I’m happy that I’m still getting on here to blog before it’s all done, though. It was crazy because I had so much to do before coming to Lawrence, Kansas to see my agent. She did a reading and book signing tonight and will be speaking at a Jewish writing symposium tomorrow. I also got to hang out with her and eat snacks today, one-on-one, which is always a treat. We talked about a lot of things, and I got some new ideas for my writing. I’m going to make sure to write everything down today so I don’t forget any of it. Talking to her motivates me. I know I can keep doing this. And eventually, we’ll get there, together.

I’m still trying to figure out how to find balance with the things I do voluntarily for others, and the things that are important to me and my writing. There has to be an answer.

I’m still not sure if I want to post my poetry on here or not. I do…but then maybe I don’t? I don’t know why I’m so wishy-washy about that. It’s not like my zero followers will care one way or the other, lol.

I’m not going to write any more here today. Hopefully I will post again soon. Keep moving forward.

That elusive balance

I still can’t seem to find the balance I want to have in my life. And things keep coming forward that demand my attention, and take me farther from the writing I want to be doing.

However, I think that I could probably continue to do most of the things I currently do and still have time to write. I’m just not managing my time well.

So this week I decided I would write first, before anything else, and give it the first part of my day before I began doing all the other things. I decided this on Wednesday, while I was at the local theater helping out by running kids’ movies all day. Thursday was supposed to be the first day, but then I had to go to the pumpkin patch my friend Todd owns, to talk about some help I’m going for him (answering the phone and scheduling reservations) through their fall busy season. So I picked up the phone and stuff (which is in need of some reorganization) and came home. But then I worked on that reorganization (which still isn’t finished) and then I did some stuff for the theater and then it was time for physical therapy. And then I read some of one of my agent-sibling’s books and then I kind of cleaned my room a little and then I went to bed. So that didn’t work out as planned.

Today has gone better. I started with my Bible and then I had to drive my son to the pumpkin patch (he’s working there, starting today), and then I ignored the siren’s song of everything else that wants me to look at it (theater, SCBWI Oklahoma, dance, pumpkin patch, church stuff, bills) and I sat down to write this blog post. So this isn’t writing a novel or anything, but it’s something. It’s something. I have to keep reminding myself that.

I’ve tacked a piece of paper on the wall next to my desk, to remind me of what my writing priorities need to be. These include (sort of in order, sort of not):

  • A Tuttle Christmas Carol (the knock-off play I’m writing for the theater)
  • My novel on sexual assault
  • My novel about the identical twins
  • The picture book biography I’m researching
  • A story for an Oklahoma comic book
  • Plotting and planning for my middle grade novel
  • At least one blog post a week (woo hoo)
  • At least one poem a week

So, one thing (almost) done for the week. I’m going to try the poem next. A few of my agent-siblings write poetry, and since I’ve always enjoyed it and considered myself rather good at it, I want to get back on that. Maybe I’ll do a book of them or something. I’d probably have to self publish it, but it would be an interesting exercise. Or maybe I’ll just post them on this blog. Two birds with one stone, maybe? Har-de-har-har.

New things

I’m working on a play right now. It’s a rewrite of “A Christmas Carol,” but set in my hometown. The local theater will be performing it at Christmas time. Auditions are Oct. 6-7, so I really need to have most, if not all, of it done by then.

I also have an idea for a picture book biography that I’m excited about. It really isn’t my normal thing, but I like this idea and am intrigued by this person, so I think it will be fun to do. And I am good friends with an amazing picture book biography author, Gwendolyn Hooks, so I am sure that she can help me out if I run into trouble.

Once that is done, it’s back to the two YA contemporaries I haven’t completed. Maybe I’ll be able to work on those and the biography at the same time. But I don’t think I can with the play because I’m on such a tight deadline.

I’m going to a revision retreat this weekend, with SCBWI Oklahoma. I don’t have anything currently that I want to revise but I’m excited about learning new ideas for the future.

I am also doing a writing retreat in early November with some friends. I’m looking forward to this, big-time. Last year I got a lot of words on my YA contemporary on sexual assault. Maybe I’ll get it wrapped up this year. Or maybe I’ll focus on the other one. Or maybe I’ll be completely done with both and I’ll focus on something new, lol!

Just realized that it’s kind of nice that we’re going in November. I could maybe tie my work in with NaNo to keep the momentum going.

But! The next thing I am going to write is a message to my agent, because her debut novel is coming out next week. I’m proud of her. <3

Mindfulness

Yesterday was our first day back at our homeschool co-op. It was a good day. I was mean to my son later that day, over something that seemed important at the time, but in the long view, I don’t know if it was worth being mean or not. It is ever worth being mean? I don’t know how I could have handled it better but I am thinking on it.

Probably the best part of yesterday was when I was about to leave, and another mom asked me how my husband was doing with his medical issues, and I was honest and told her how I was feeling about all of it – to the best of my tongue-tied ability, at least. She listened, and she tried to understand, and she prayed over the whole situation. It was such a relief to have my feelings not explained away or dismissed. I didn’t feel ridiculous or regret sharing with her and it was such a balm to my soul.

Today I’m back in the office, considering my to-do list and working on checking off some things. I’ve got a calming blend in my essential oil diffuser and relaxing spa music on spotify, and my big chunk of amethyst next to me. I feel okay. There’s a small tension still within, but overall I feel better.

I have several projects in my mental inbox, and I’m trying to decide which one I should focus on first.

  • The WIP on sexual assault I was working on before I went back to my Rat Queen revisions. This story feels very close to my heart, and I was making good progress before I put it on pause last month. I could probably get that one done in a month or two if I really put my nose to the grindstone.
  • The WIP I was working on before the sexual assault one. This one was a lot of fun, but I got overwhelmed by the whole thing when I was working on it. I think it will be amazing, if I can ever figure out how to get it where I want it. I’d like to get it over and done with.
  • A play I promised my niece I would write for the local theater, for Christmas. Honestly, it should be done as soon as possible so they have time to prepare for it. This shouldn’t be hard at all, because I’m basically going to just redo “A Christmas Carol” to be set in our small town, but I’m not looking forward to actually putting in the work setting everything up. Making the changes I want should be easy. Getting the rest of the play transcribed from the original story sounds like it’s going to suck, big time.
  • The new, fresh middle grade magical realism that I haven’t even got set solidly in my head, but sounds SO VERY MUCH FUN to write and create! But I really can’t let myself get too deep into it, because I have the other stuff I need to do first. Bother.

So, yeah. I know I need to do the play first, gross. But that way the actors can get to work on their lines and stuff. They definitely need those by November…and October would be even better. Then I think I’ll get back into the sexual assault one – hopefully can wrap that up before the end of the year. Then back to the other YA WIP…and then the new shiny one?!?!?!

Fingers crossed.

Sending it off

I just got finished sending off a rewrite of my YA novel, THE RAT QUEEN, to my agent. It’s always a little shocking finishing a novel, whether the entire draft or an intense rewrite. This one added more than 10,000 words to the novel and completely changed the ending, so it was a big deal, at least to me. I’m happy with the way it has turned out. It’ll be interesting to see what else will change.

Once my agent decides it’s ready, this will be my third novel to go on submission. I hope this is the one that sticks.

I have gotten behind on a lot of things, so I’m hoping to get caught up on the rest of life, then get back to my new YA manuscript. I’m about 18,000 into that one.

I don’t really know what else to say. Like I mentioned above, I’m always a little shocked (and shell-shocked) when I finish something big like this.

Anyway.

A hot commodity

A hot commodity. That’s me.

For more than a month, I’ve told myself that today is the day I get back to writing regularly, and seriously. For a long time, I didn’t have my office and it was hard to focus with the family all around me. Then summer came, and with it, a busy summer at the local theater. But the final production of LOST IN MY WONDERLAND was last night and now it’s time to write.

But I’m a hot commodity because I try to help my family with things. I enjoy it. And they know that the show ended too. And so I’ve gotten requests to work on things for them today. And I had to explain that I have been planning to write more starting today. So that was a thing.

Anyway, between the kids’ chores and stuff and balancing things with the husband at home (probably haven’t written on here that he’s here for two weeks because of heart issues), plus helping my mom with some financial stuff and helping to get ready for the next show, and taking over our family finances, I’m stretched kind of thin. But I have two hours. I’m actually thirteen minutes in right now.

So probably my warm up time is over and it’s time to get crackin’.

<3

Revisions and dance

I’m at my daughters’ dance competition, listening to music in my earbuds and also super loud dance music while I sit in the back row with my laptop. I am looking at my new revisions and thinking about them.

I sound so boring today, but I kind of feel that way. I’m only blogging because I thought that would be a good thing to do today, since I’m not actually writing new words. And I’m only planning to read all my agent’s revision notes, not actually begin revising. But reading all the notes and thinking about them is still progress.

I’m doing well with the instagram writers’ thing. I’m on day 13 and I actually haven’t missed a day yet. It’s basically a miracle.

I’m also just too darn busy with all the other things I do. My eldest is graduating next month and there is an awful lot to do. There’s only ten graduates, since it’s for our homeschool group, and they all get a lot of special things…but Mom gets to do all the work! I’m also swamped with stuff for the dance studio, the local theatre, and my scbwi group. And I love all those things, I really do, but I’m not quite as good at balancing everything as I’d like to be.

Anyway. Back to work. Wish me luck.