2015 Goals: August Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

All rewrites and adjustments are officially finished! The Muse has a new beginning and all plot holes in the epilogue have been plugged. Yes, I did quite the little happy dance!

The process took much longer than I would have liked, but cutting an entire chapter was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Ultimately, I know I made the right decision and I don’t regret taking my time to get it right.

Armed with my reconfigured novel, I’m looking to start the query process once again. I pulled up my query letter tracker (i.e. spreadsheet) and updated it with possible targets. Let the games begin!

2. Start writing Lineage.

While plugging plot holes in The Muse, I added to my notes for Lineage. This month was all about world-building. Lineage will take my characters to a place that exists somewhere between myth and reality, (more so than already established in The Muse).

I’ve been doing some really fun research to determine what this pseudo-reality might look like (the colors and textures of Kartchner Caverns and Mammoth Cave are tickling my muse right now!), while also figuring out the characters who live there. Ever heard of a rogue muse? Well, you will! Stay tuned!

3. Submit poetry.

It was a good month for poetry! Partial results for the 2015 April Poem A Day Challenge (via Poetic Asides on Writer’s Digest) have been posted and I was thrilled to see my name listed in the Top 10 for Days 6 and 11. Considering the sheer number of entries (upwards of 900 to 1000 each day), I am both humbled and amazed to be included among the finalists. Results are still coming, so stay tuned!

Once again, I participated in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest. As always, I find the prompts challenging and the community inspiring.

I also completed another month of National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page. August prompts all started with the letter T and they were so much fun! I completed the month with at least one haiku a day.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

Despite the start of a new school year, (the busiest time of the year for teachers!), I managed to keep my muse focused on writing when I wasn’t at work. No matter how tired I am, the day isn’t over until I’ve written something!

5. Be flexible.

To close out August I decided to experiment with the haiku form, yet again. While I love the three line format in both traditional and contemporary haiku, I am intrigued by the single line format. It’s tricky and requires precise word choice. The examples I’ve seen are either amazing or weirdly abstract, which has left me leery of trying it out for myself.  Well, I finally jumped in and started playing with single line poetry. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m loving the challenge.

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015

2015 Goals: July Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

I finished drafting the new beginning and it’s looking good! However, during the read-through (to check for consistency with the new beginning) I hit a snag in the epilogue. Grrrr!

The snag is not a new thing. My editor saw the same snag and I though I had worked it out, but during the re-read, I realized there was still a giant pothole right at the end of the book.

The good news is I figured it out. Thanks to progress made on mapping out ideas for Lineage, the solution was right under my nose. I’m now in the process of filling in the pothole with a small rewrite.

2. Start writing Lineage.

This is probably where the most exciting things happened this month. Re-reading The Muse got my characters talking – I think they’re getting anxious for their story to continue!!

For the first time I got a very clear visual of how the opening scene is going to play out. I could hear my characters speaking to one another and I got a nice start for dialogue going in my notes.

Filling the epilogue pothole got me thinking about a new character which will be introduced in Lineage. His backstory is starting to come come together and so is a little plot twist that took me by surprise. Writing this guy is going to be fun!

3. Submit poetry.

Once again, I participated in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest. As always, I find the prompts challenging and the community inspiring.

I also completed another month of National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page. July prompts all started with the letter S and were very diverse. I fell behind a bit while on vacation, but I still managed to compete the   month with at least one haiku a day.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

I took a little breather this month and I’m not sorry! While on vacation, I focused on gathering inspiration rather than acting on it. I took pictures, breathed in experiences, and choose to be in the moment. When I came home, everything started coming into focus for Lineage – it’s very exciting!

5. Be flexible.

Oregon and Indiana had much to offer on the inspiration front. I’m busy sorting through photographs of everything from nature scenes to cityscapes. Can’t wait to see the words they inspire.

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015

Vacation Recovery

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Isn’t it funny how vacation is sometimes more exhausting than the real life world you are escaping? All of last week, I was chuckling to myself as I collapsed on my hotel bed from sheer and utter exhaustion from a full day adventure.

It all began when I traveled to Oregon with a friend where we embarked on a series of adventures that took us through Portland, Willamette National Forest, the Pacific Coast, and the Columbia River Gorge.

I saw more of Oregon than I ever thought I would thanks to a combined sense of curiosity and fearless exploration. And we have to multiply this combination by two because when my friend and I travel together we are unstoppable! On one day, we drove almost 400 miles tracking down waterfalls, collapsed sea caves, and snow capped mountain peaks.

While the adventures we shared were incredible, both of us came out of it realizing we are no longer spring chickens. I would’t call us out of shape, but rather victims of the aging process. When I was younger, I could engage in active travel (hiking, walking long distances, etc) for extended periods of time. Now, four days of driving, wilderness hikes, and city walking sent me home with an injured foot tendon and multiple strained muscles. This from a person who trail hikes nearly every day at home!

Still, I can honestly say the pain is worth it. Oregon turned out to be an incredible place. I think part of the reason I pushed myself harder than I should was because I didn’t want to miss what was around the bend. Whether it be a hidden waterfall in Willamette National Forest, Spouting Horn (aka Thor’s Well) on the coast, or a funky corner in Portland, I was completely under Oregon’s spell.

Of course, now I’m limping around like a cripple.

And yeah, it’s still worth it.

Here’s one reason why …

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Multnomah Falls, Oregon, c.b.w. 2015

With a view like this, the pain doesn’t matter. I’ll heal. 

More pictures will be posted in the coming weeks as my muse was greatly inspired by Oregon’s beautiful scenery and the quirky awesomeness that is Portland. The taste of Voodoo Doughnuts still lingers on my tongue.

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c.b.w. 2015

2015 Goals: June Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

Chapter 1 has officially been deleted! I am now in the final stage of restructuring Chapter 2 as the new beginning. The trick was keeping in mind the list of things agents hate to see in an opening chapter, (see Killing Chapter 1). The more I mulled over this list, the more I realized it applies not only to agents, but readers as well.

Gone are all the references to weather descriptions, the sky, and a main character waking up. With the new beginning, the reader is dropped right in the middle of the main character’s life. Bit by bit, her story comes into focus without any sort of an information dump. I’m liking the breadcrumb approach a lot more and I think this set up allows my main character’s personality to take center stage.

Next on the agenda is doing another read through to make sure the rest of the novel is not impacted by the deletion of Chapter 1. I’ve got to dig through each section to ensure there are no references to anything that was mentioned in the old beginning. There are a few things I’m already aware of from memory and I’m sure I’ll find more!

A writer’s work is never done!

2. Start writing Lineage.

My muse is starting to talk for this project. I’m anxious to see where she takes me.

3. Submit poetry.

Once again, I participated in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest. As always, I find the prompts challenging and the community inspiring.

I also completed another month of National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page. June prompts all started with the letter R and were quite challenging. Still, I managed to write one or two haikus each day.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

Free time in the summer can be a blessing for a writer, but also an invitation to distraction. There are always so many things I want to do! Luckily, I was able to find a nice balance between writing and other projects each day.

5. Be flexible.

My journal is coming with me to the wilds of Oregon this week. I’m anxious to see what will inspire me.

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015

Where to Write?

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When I started writing seven years ago, it was easy to find a place to write. There were four bookstores within a 10 mile radius of my house, all of which had coffee shops with free Wi-Fi. It was a writer’s paradise with unlimited space and inspiration.

Being a coffee shop writer, I loved having the ability to change my atmosphere by simply choosing a different freeway exit. Each coffee shop had it’s own feel and I could choose which one fit what I was going to write that day.

Over the last few years, my options have dwindled considerably. First, Borders went out of business, taking with it two of my writing locations in one shot. Then, back in December 2014, a Barnes and Noble disappeared from the radar. There goes favorite writing spot #3.

Only one writing spot has managed to survive and I’m lucky that it happens to be my favorite. But here’s the thing – even my favorite spot can get stale after a long stretch without a break. Without a change of scenery, inspiration and motivation runs dry.  I see the same people every day (although I love the people that work in my favorite spot) and see the same things.

Sameness brings a certain level of comfort (which I often enjoy), but I’m starting to get antsy and even bored. Writers need spark and I am seriously in danger of losing my spark. I’ve tried writing at home, but there is so much distraction thanks to one husband, five furkids, and the TV. I need to be out and about with endless background activity and conversations to wake up my muse.

There is a nice little Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf nearby and I am starting to explore it’s possibility as a new writing spot. The only issue I’m having has to do with the coffee. It’s good, but it’s not my muse juice. I may have to experiment with the menu to see if there’s some magic elixir hiding somewhere in the latte options.

I live in a city that has almost no stand alone coffee shops. Maybe its because I live in a desert where cold smoothies are the thing or maybe there simply isn’t a coffee culture. Almost everywhere I’ve been from Europe to Asia, I’ve always been able to find a coffee shop. I’ve written in coffee shops in London, Killarney, Florence, and Shanghai, which makes it even more baffling to me that I can’t find a decent coffee shop/writing spot where I live.

Part of my writing goals for the summer includes scoping out new writing spots. I don’t want my favorite (and last bastion) to become that blah spot I once liked, so I have to find some new places to put into rotation. Hopefully, there is a magic spot or two waiting to be discovered!

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Where do you write? I’m open to all possible ideas!

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c.b.w. 2015