Monthly Archives: January 2012

Writing Delay… *pop a cough drop*

Having a toddler in preschool means I’m constantly sick. Whatever the ‘flavor of the month’ is, I get it. Most recently, it’s a full tri fecta. A mixture of sinus infection, ear infection, and pink eye.

This unpleasant combination means I don’t get to write much. Nor blog.

Nor attend my critique group meetings. Which really kills me. I love those meetings. Almost as much as I love writing. It’s one of the few adult times, just to myself, to focus on my writing and be around people who love writing, too.

But instead, I’m focusing on wiping snot bubbles from my son’s face, force-feeding medication (which involves a minimum of two adults to keep him still, infinite patience, and half a roll of paper towels), changing my goop-covered clothes every four-to-six hours, and inhaling cough drops.

And because I value the members of my critique group, I’m not attending the latest meeting to prevent spreading the germs. (Your welcome, guys!)

Meanwhile, my manuscript has remained open on my laptop, untouched, staring at me every time I lift the lid. Beckoning, whispering “only 2 chapters left.”

TWO CHAPTERS LEFT, people!!

Between my husband, myself, and our son, on average someone has been sick in our house every week the last four months. Before that, it was about one week per month. I should have bought stock in the manufacturers of tissues, cough drops, paper towels, and children’s antibiotics. With as much money as we’ve spent purchasing the products, we may have made our money back. Until we purchase the decontamination bomb to sanitize our house every week.

Hopefully, when I get 1 semi-healthy day to myself, I can finish this manuscript. It will still be the fastest I’ve completed the rough draft of any story in my life: just over 4 months. And I’ve had at least a total of a month delay due to sickness.

Now, back to snot-swiping duty. *popping another cough drop*

Books I’ve Read

Have you checked out what I’ve been reading yet? Or have already read? I keep those pages updated fairly constantly.

Both On the Bookshelf & On the Nightstand.

For a list of all the books I’ve read recently, check out my Good Reads page.

Heaven Exists… Right Here

My hubby is home from a week overseas on a business trip.

Singapore

We have a relaxing Sunday ahead of us, with another free Monday so he can recover from jetlag.

I’m watching him and my son ‘tickle fight’ on the couch, with additional arsenal of a custom quilt handmade by my mother. The durable kind to withstand years of wear and tear from toddlers.

My son’s laugh is my most favorite sound in the world. Which is inevitable. I fell in love with my husband’s laugh before I really knew him. So their two laughs together is Heaven.Two months old

I don’t care there’s an additional four loads of laundry waiting for me, or a grocery list to make, or a sink full of dishes. We’re going to celebrate this heaven even more by going out to lunch with B’s favorite food: Mexican.

Perhaps if my two boys nap today, I may get additional writing in. But if not, that’s ok. There’s infinite rooms in heaven.

Diet Coke for Coffee

One of my resolutions this year was to reduce my Diet Coke intake. (Not just the caffeine, but also the fake sugars and carbonation).

Now I realize I’ve created a problem.

I seem to be substituting coffee in place of my Diet Cokes (at least when I’m at home). And unfortunately, it’s not decaf.

So I think I’m going backwards in my attempt to increase my natural energy level.

Maybe I need to alter this resolution a bit. At least clarify.

Still keep my intention of reducing DC intake, but commit to one additional rule:

For every cup of coffee, I also drink an additional cup of water.

Maybe, after a week or two, I’ll feel so full as if I’ll float away on the next rainfall, that I’ll naturally reduce my coffee intake as well.

But if I think that through, I see one inevitability:

Caffeine Withdrawals

Headaches. Jittery-ness.

Hmm… maybe I need to keep thinking.

How Do Women Write Men?

Interesting topic came to mind during a recent chapter revision.

It’s probably for the same reason you don’t see many male romance authors out there, simply because most men have no clue how to write a woman character and make it believable. Every little detail: gestures, word choice, slang, as well as what a woman would notice first looking at a man, or even another woman.

A lot of earlier romances had the stereotypical male hero: rough, tough, very little emotion, and all action. Either no words at all, or any words were based on the Tarzan psyche (Me want Jane. Me hungry.) I wonder if those male depictions in earlier writing were because most women authors didn’t know how to portray a realistic male character.

I ran into that issue the other week. My male character said certain things and behaved certain ways that didn’t sound believable. So I sent the chapter to a male critique buddy of mine, who helped me ‘man him up.’ (Another reason why I highly suggest joining a writer’s group!)

Such simple things like phrasing:

Original version: “People are mean.”

Manned up version: “People are cruel.”

Or how they refer to their own bodies:

Original version: ‘Thin Man clunked his beer bottle on the bar and jerked up his worn jeans over his hips.’

Manned up version: ‘Thin Man clunked his beer bottle on the bar and jerked up in worn jeans over his exposed whity-tighties.’

(I was told men never refer to their ‘hips.’)

There were several other areas that my critique pal noted were too ‘feminine’ for a male character (or at least the male character I was trying to portray). It’s amazing how different men and women will describe even a setting or what someone is wearing.

These kinds of suggestions are invaluable to me. It helps me learn how to write male characters better (and since my husband doesn’t read my work, I rely more heavily on my writer’s group.)

Women writers: how do you write your men? What tricks do you use to keep them realistic?

Writer’s Goals for New Year

New Year’s Resolutions can be double-edged swords, if you let them. The typical resolutions to lose weight, earn more, quit smoking, drinking, or whatever other vice (Diet Coke for me) seems daunting and casts negative air over what resolutions are supposed to be about.

Improvement. By either pledging to do something positive or remove something negative from your life.

Resolutions aren’t a reset, but a re-check. Make sure your headed in the right direction.

For many people, 2011 was uncharacteristically harsh. Judging by the Facebook and Twitter posts I’ve seen recently, most are happy to close the door on last year and usher in 2012 with the promise of something better. At least more hopeful.

I learned a lot from 2011. Mostly learned a lot about myself, my limitations, discovered new strengths, and new ‘areas of improvement.’ I met new people that have become invaluable to my writing endeavors- my ‘specialized supporters.’

Most importantly, I think I discovered how to let go of this illusion of control that I tried desperately to keep a grip on last year.

Things happen despite my best abilities to prevent them, other things don’t happen no matter how hard I tried to make them flourish. And other sideswipers come out of no where to make life even more chaotic.

This illusion of control stems from my ever-consistent behavior to internalize everything. And God love my husband and family for helping me to let that go.

So this year, my resolutions are aggressive, but much more forgiving if I lose track along the way. Just as I know my family and friends are. Supportive. Always trying to help me be my best, and forgiving when I lose track.

In addition to a few personal goals regarding family, and overall health and wellness (no New Year’s resolutions would be complete without them), here are my targets:

~Reduce my Diet Coke intake to 1/week (gradual, to prevent nasty withdrawals).

~Gym twice a week.

~Blog twice a week.

~Submit to other blogs I partake in at least once a month.

~Read 1 Book/month.

And for the daunting writing goals:

~Finish rough draft of WIP (Audrey’s Promise) by March. Specifically, write 5K words /week.

~Finish Audrey’s Promise revisions by November. Meaning, 15 pages/week.

~Finish my previous manuscript’s revisions (Rip It) by May. 20 pages/week.

~Submit either of these manuscripts to Golden Heart contest in December.

~Query Rip It to agencies/publishers starting in June. Specifically, 4 queries a week.

~Finally, plot my next novel (middle grade) by December.

These goals are evenly spaced out over the year, so I’m constantly busy with writing, but not overloaded. I think that’s my husband’s Project Management job rubbing off on me. Leave it to him to create a timeline spreadsheet for me, to help track my goals every week down to the individual word and page count. Goal tracking on steroids!

As always, love more, laugh more, and keep writing forward.