April Status Report: 2012 Goals


I can’t believe its time again to reflect on my 2012 goals already!  April slipped by so fast, I’m surprised I got anything accomplished.  This month was full of revisions and editing, which is productive and worthwhile, but very quiet.

Sadly, I have to admit a failure, but I don’t see it as a bad thing.  An unexpected development has forced me to push back a deadline, but I believe it will be for the best in the long run.  Sometimes, it’s all about keeping my eye on the big picture.

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

I just finished a short story for a small contest and I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I’m letting it sit for a little while before I go in and do some final revisions, but I’ll have it submitted before the deadline, (June 10th).  Yay!

2) Finish minor changes in my first novel.

April turned out to be great month for my first novel.  I was able to go in adjust dialogue in three sections, which will help alleviate a problem all four of my beta readers spotted.  In addition, I’m in the process of figuring out where to add a scene I took out during the last revision.  I’ve debated where it should go for a long time and I now have it narrowed down to two places.  I’m hoping to have some time today to make a final decision.

The first 30 pages of my manuscript have also been submitted for a full assessment thanks to the prize I won in the Fourth Writer’s Platform Building Campaign, (See Celebrating a Win).  I’m looking forward to some honest feedback that will help me make further improvements.

3) Work on my second novel.

I didn’t get to work on this project in the traditional sense, but I’ve done a lot of scribbling in my novel notebook. I got stuck trying to create a transition between two sections and I finally figured out what was missing thanks to some late night brainstorming.  However, I still managed to get a bit of a word count.

Starting word count: 50, 831
End word count: 51, 381
Total word count: 550

The story is always on my mind and in the last week, my characters have started to get chatty.  I’m getting snippets of conversations between them and I love what I’m hearing.

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

This is going to sting a little to write.  In March, I set a deadline to have a query letter sent out by the end of April.  Unfortunately, some unforeseen circumstances have prevented that from happening. The critique I won in the Writer’s Platform Building Campaign allowed me to send my query for an assessment as well.  I haven’t received all the feedback yet, so I’m hesitant to do anything until I receive a full critique.  Based on what I’ve received so far, I believe it will be incredibly helpful and will give me a much stronger chance of landing an agent.

On the bright side, I have plenty of time to participate in Pitchapalooza via the World Literary Café.  The Book Doctors are accepting queries in a little contest all the way until May 15.  The winner’s query will be put in the hands of an agent.   Hence, my new deadline is May 15.  I won’t miss this one!

On the synopsis front, I sent it to a beta reader who gave me some great advice.  I’ve made a few changes and its already looking better!

5) Keep up with my blog.

Again, this hasn’t been a problem!  I’ve slowed down a bit this month in order to maintain my sanity and create more time for other projects, but ultimately, posts have been steady.  In April, I posted a total of 25 times and I appreciate everyone who stopped by to read and comment.  Thank you so much for continuing to follow my journey!

6) Network more with other writers.

April has been another great month in terms of networking.  The more I explore the World Literary Café, the more I love it.  They offer so much in terms of classes, forums, and links.  I’m still exploring and I’m sure I’ll find loads more!  Thanks to WLC, I’ve been able to boost my network considerably.

My Facebook Page has grown from 41 to 110 Likes

On Twitter, my followers have grown from 156 to 211.

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


A Dash of Gratitude


Paging through an old journal, I came across two pages of folded yellow paper tucked inside.  I was surprised to find a series of short thank you letters to various things in my life.   They must have been the result of a writing prompt from a few years ago and I thought it might be fun to share them.

Dear thesaurus,

Thank you for helping me sound smarter than I really am.

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Dear Arizona Heat,

Thank you for drying my jeans in fifteen minutes flat.  It’s faster than the dryer and doesn’t cost me a dime.

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Dear Passport,

Thank you for getting me to new places and saving me from a stagnant existence.  It’s a big world full of different perspectives and I’d never experience any of it without you.

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Dear Acrylic Paint,

Thanks for adding color to my life and stains under my fingernails.  When there’s a green splotch on my thumb, I know I created something.

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Dear Chocolate,

Thank you for making many, many moments of each day that much sweeter.  You make me stop and indulge when I need it most.  We all need that.

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Dear Chapstick,

Seriously, what would I do without you.  I keep you in my purse, laptop bag, and in three different rooms in the house.  My lips would die without you.

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Dear Garden,

Thank you for brightening my day with new growth and green leaves.  Without you there would never be dirt on my hands or beautiful flowers to fill my vases.

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Dear Age,

Thanks for sending me through this life with a little grace.

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Dear DVDs,

Thank you for letting me watch movies over and over again.  Especially, Twilight and Big Bang Theory.

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Dear Books,

Thank you for filling my life with imagination, beautiful words, and thought provoking stories. Nothing can replace the feel of pages turning or the smell of ink on paper.  You remind this world to slow down and ensure imagination will remain the ultimate storyteller.

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Dear Writing,

Even after I left and pursued other things, you waited patiently for my return.  You could have easily abandoned me and left my muse asleep, but you put the pen in my hand and gave me stories to tell. Thank you, my dear friend.

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What “somethings” in your life deserve a thank you letter?

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c.b. 2012

The Van Gogh Alive Experience


Imagine walking into a darkened room where the delicate notes of Handel and Schubert play in the background.  Enormous screens adorn every wall from floor to ceiling as well as large pillars scattered throughout a wide, open space.  On the floor several platforms rise up, all covered in white canvas screens.  There is no light, but for a few small bulbs shining from projectors on the ceiling. The darkness is eerie and disorienting, but anticipation builds for a moment of magic.  The music rises and then it happens . . . . brilliant colors and the brushstrokes of a master artist wrap the room in a vibrant embrace.  To see a Van Gogh painting in person is a moving experience, but to see his paintings move across multiple screens and swirl around me is something else entirely.

A traveling exhibit known as Van Gogh Alive, tells the story of Vincent Van Gogh’s life through the chronicle of his paintings.  His time in Paris, those wild sunflowers, the infamous fight with Gaughin, the only painting he ever sold,  the pain of mental illness, his love of life and nature  . . . it’s all there in Vincent’s own hand.

Self-Portrait, 1889, Vincent Van Gogh (Image Source: Wikipedia Commons)

As his paintings scroll across the screens, quotes in his writing rotate on two different walls. Despite his inner turmoil, Van Gogh’s soul was one of love, wonder, and hope.  One quote in particular stood out to me as it truly sums up the character of Van Gogh:

I would rather die of passion than of boredom.

Put me on that list as well.

The immense scale of the exhibit gives viewers a chance to walk through Van Gogh’s work and appreciate every speck of paint and every erratic stroke.  Everything from sketches, finished paintings, and even handwritten letters and journal entries fill the screens.  While they may not be the real thing, the projections have an equally strong emotional impact.  I’ll be the first to admit, I was deeply effected when swallowed whole by Starry Night.  My favorite painting surrounded me on all sides, lit up, and full of Van Gogh’s passion.  I was standing right in the middle of that star speckled navy blue sky and for a moment, I had to fight the tears.

Van Gogh lives on in a way he never could have imagined and I like to think he’d approve.  While an unorthodox art exhibit, Van Gogh Alive is a truly remarkable experience.

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Here’s a peek at the exhibit via the Arizona Science Center:

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For more information on Van Gogh Alive, click here for the official website.

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c.b. 2012

Wreck This Journal: Blank


Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing.  There is a page in Wreck This Journal that says, “Leave this page blank on purpose.”  It’s driving me nuts.

Oh, the possibilities!

Leave it blank?  Why put it in the journal if it has no purpose?  There’s nothing on the other side of the page, either!  For a doer such as myself, this was difficult to accept.  There I was with my tools of destruction at the ready and Keri Smith was asking me to leave them alone and do nothing.  My muse was ready to pop a gasket!

My fingers twitched as I considered the blank page in front of me.  I wanted to color in the letters – a pattern of green, blue, and purple – and I almost did it.  Then, it occurred to me that I was looking at this all wrong.  Instead of fighting the notion of nothing, I should be embracing it.

This is a big epiphany for a self-admitted busy body who has trouble letting an hour go by without filling it with some task, whether it be writing, creating, teaching, gardening, pondering, wondering, running, reading, watching movies, etc.  If any moment is filled with nothing, I feel like I’ve wasted something I can’t get back.  It took a stark page to get me to realize doing nothing is not the same as being lazy or wasting a moment.

Creativity isn’t about crossing things off a Wreck This Journal “to-do” list, but rather pitching the list altogether.  A page left untouched leaves the idea of possibilities infinitely open.  The same is true for an unfinished collage or a poem missing the last line.  Possibilities are in plentiful supply  if we slow down enough and regard them with patience.  Doing nothing is sometimes better than writing a thousand lines of words just to hit a word count goal or adding something to a painting just to call it done.  Sometimes doing nothing is what leads to the ultimate end.

My empty page still gives me an itch to color, bend, rip, or crumple, but it remains pristine. Meanwhile, my imagination continues to conjure new ways to wreck that page.  Every time I come across these instructions, I am reminded that without an empty canvas we have no reason to fill it.

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For previous Wreck This Journal posts please visit my tag cloud and sidebar. Stay inspired!

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c.b. 2012