May Status Report: 2012 Goals

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May is always a crazy month for me as it signals the end of the school year.  As a teacher, that means I’m in a mad dash to finish curriculum, administer final exams, close out grades, and pack up my classroom for the summer.  Despite the extra workload at my day job, I managed to make some great headway on my 2012 writing goals.

1) Submit five pieces of writing to contests, journals, literary magazines, or the newspaper.

I just finished a story for a small Writer’s Digest contest.  In every issue, they post a prompt with an invitation to submit entries.  The deadline is June 10th for the piece I wrote and I will submit it well before that date.

I am also gearing up to comb through a gigantic list of upcoming writing contests compiled by Stephanie Smith. While most contests seemed geared towards fantasy and YA genres, there are categories for contemporary fiction that might fit some of the stories I have in my “vault.”  It’s worth a look at the very least!

2) Finish minor changes in my first novel.

In April, I submitted the first thirty pages of my novel for a critique, but I learned the hard way that not everyone keeps their word.  After more than a month of waiting for the promised critique, I wound up with nothing.  Thankfully, the situation has since been rectified and those pages are now in the hands of someone who has very kindly agreed to pick up the dropped ball.

As a result of this little hiccup, my first novel has been on hold.  I’m hoping the arrival of a critique in the next week or so will allow me jump right back in and make some great revisions.  After all, the big picture goal is to make it as polished as possible for the eyes of an agent.

3) Work on my second novel.

Over the last few weeks, my muse has been obsessed with my second novel.  The story is swimming through my imagination at such a fast pace, I can barely keep up.  I literally keep my novel notebook and pen with me at all times because I can’t stop writing!  Two of my characters in particular are incredibly chatty and have created a new twist in the plot.  I never saw it coming and I am beyond excited to continue exploring this new story element.

Starting word count: 51, 381
End word count: 53, 695
Total word count: 2,314

4) Send out five query letters and be ready with a synopsis.

Last month I made the mini-goal of sending my query letter to Pitchapalooza via the World Literary Cafe.  I am happy to report that I met that goal.  I didn’t win the contest, but it felt great to finally put a query in the hands of an agent.  The ice has officially been broken and that motivates me to send out more query letters.  One down, four to go!

In addition, my new critiquer has agreed to give my query letter a line-by-line assessment.  I am beyond excited to get some help on making my query as strong as possible.

5) Keep up with my blog.

Back in April I set a schedule of posting four times a week, but my muse obviously did not agree with this plan.  In the month of May, I posted 29 times and my inspiration is not slowing down.  Thanks so much to my readers for continuing to stop by every day.  I have a lot planned for the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

6) Network more with other writers.

I’ve stepped back slightly from networking, (mainly due to time constraints), but I still managed to do enough to see my numbers go up once again.  I’ll be back in full force over the summer to keep my network growing!

My Facebook Page has grown from 110 to 140 Likes.

On Twitter, my followers have grown from 211 to 237.

Thank you so much to everyone who has clicked those “Like” and “Follow” buttons!  I appreciate all of you so much!

To follow me on either network, please visit my sidebar.

7) Inspire other writers to keep writing.

As always, I hope my presence is positive and inspiring.

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c.b. 2012

Kreativ Blogger Love

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Hugs to Melissa Maygrove for nominating me for the Kreativ Blogger Award.  Her blog is fantastic and a must-read for any writer!  Melissa is so encouraging and supportive of her fellow writers.  I’m so glad to have connected with her!

Here are the rules:
1) Thank and link back to the awarding blog.
2) Answer the following 7 questions.
3) Provide 10 random factoids about yourself.
4) Pass it on to 7 deserving blogs.

For once, I’m going to follow the rules.

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Random Q&A:

1) What’s your favorite song?

At the moment, my favorite song is “Sooner or Later” by Mat Kearney.  I find the lyrics to be incredibly motivating as I work on my 2012 goals.

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2) What is your favorite dessert?

Chocolate

3) What do you do when you’re upset?

I always cry.  It doesn’t matter if I’m mad or sad, I cry when any emotion gets too strong.

4) Which is your favorite pet?

The animals no one else wants.  My two dogs and two cats were all rescued from shelters.

5) Black or white?

Both.  Old movies are the best.

6) What is your biggest fear?

Snakes.  It’s incredibly irrational, but I am utterly paralyzed when I see one.

7) What is your attitude, mostly?

Ridiculously positive and bubbly.

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10 Random Facts

1) I have a green thumb.

2) I know how to cross stitch

3) I am a Star Wars fanatic.  I quote Yoda on a daily basis.

4) I know every line to the movie “What About Bob?”

5) When I eat Hershey’s kisses or miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups, I make a little tin foil ball with all the wrappers.

6) I’m a comic book geek.  Spider-man was my childhood hero and he remains so to this day. I can’t wait for the “The Amazing Spider-man” movie this summer!

7) I can still fit into my prom dress (which I wore 16 years ago and still own).

8) I am fascinated by street art and graffiti, especially in foreign places.

9) I have a collection of coins from all over the world and different time periods.  Some I picked up in my travels and others I bought from a dealer or traded with other collectors.  Its like collecting pieces of history!

10) I like to paint my toenails with crazy colors.  Inside my Converse sneakers there’s a burst of bright purple or a funky shade of orange.

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7 Amazingly Kreativ Blogs:

This Handcrafted Life - Great posts that cover everything from beautiful paper to instructions on how to paint faux marble (that actually looks real!).

My Photography Expedition - Amazing photographs on every topic imaginable.  This week, a post on colorful jellyfish at an aquarium brightened my day.

Five Reflections - I am in awe of the haikus posted on this blog. Every post inspires me to go out there and write three magical lines.

Rustic Recluse - Filled with fantastic travel photographs and informative posts about various places.  In particular, posts about Russia keep me coming back for more.

Robin Coyle - A series about strong words vs. weak words makes this blog a writer’s delight!

Quirkster - Travel around the world through the eyes of one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.  Beautiful photographs meet a unique point of view in every post.

First Fifty Words - Need some inspiration to get out of that writing rut?  This blog posts a new prompt every day!

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c.b. 2012

Memorial Day Without Borders

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Memorial Day is a day where we all pause and remember those who have fought for their country. It’s the moment where regardless of where we stand in our opinions of war, gratitude and reverence are paid to those who gave up their lives when called to serve.

While Memorial Day is filled with American flags in my corner of the world, I can’t help but extend my gratitude beyond the borders of my country.  Throughout my travels I’ve come across memorials to people who fought for what they believed was right and were more than willing to lay down their lives for those beliefs.  When the world was at war or governments oppressed their citizens, these brave soldiers and civilians stood up to protect the sacred right of freedom. As my thoughts are with American soldiers who fought gallantly (like my grandfather), I am also remembering brave souls worldwide.  My sincere thanks goes to all who fought with so much courage.

The photographs below come from places that have touched me deeply as they are moving tributes to those who gave up everything in the hope that others could be free.

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Women all over the world lent a helping hand to the war effort and they deserve a huge thank you for stepping up and standing strong.  In London, a large monument along Whitehall commemorates the service of women in World War II.

The Women of WWII Monument on Whitehall, London. Photo by: c.b.w.

As Czechoslovakia became a battleground between democracy and communism, young citizens gathered in droves to defend their freedom.  And they did so knowing full well they may never return home.

This plaque appears on the enclosure wall of Prague Castle. Photo by: c.b.w.

I’ll never forget my walk through Wenceslas Square in Prague.  As the main site of the Prague Spring protests, thousands of people filled this square and risked their lives in the process.  Oppressed by an invasion and subsequently brutal communist regime, basic freedoms were denied and human rights repeatedly violated.  These strong individuals stood together even as the tanks rolled in and armed soldiers took aim.

Memorials commemorating those who died in protest of the oppressive occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Photo by: c.b.w.

Sometimes memorials are unintentional, as is the case of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.  No monuments exist for those who so bravely filled the square in protest of corruption of the Communist government and cried for their voices to be heard.  The protests of 1989 are remembered by those who watched them unfold, but forcibly forgotten by a government that opened fire on innocent people. The photograph below is the People’s Heroes Monument meant to commemorate those who fought in China’s civil war on the communist side, but after 1989 it has inadvertently come to represent something quite different.  The monument is roped off so people can’t get close enough to see the bullet holes still lodged in the stone.  For those who know where to look, the ropes can’t hide the damage.

People’s Heroes Monument, Tiananmen Square, China. Photo by: c.b.w.

May we never forget those who gave up everything in the name of freedom and the preservation of basic human rights.

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c.b. 2012