Plugging Along

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Summer’s reprieve from the day job leaves me with a lot of time to relax (which I desperately need no matter how much I try to deny it) and dig into the To Do List I created instead of New Year’s Resolutions. As with all lists, some items are easier than others!

Item #1 Declutter

It’s a work in progress, but I have made some headway. Two out of three closets at home are cleared and so is most of the junk I was hoarding in my classroom. I’m pretty sure my colleagues thought I was losing my mind – I tossed out an entire three-drawer file cabinet of handouts and folders, (all for classes I no longer teach). Then, I got rid of a ton of stuff from my supply cabinets, bookshelves, and office storage area.

However, what I’m most proud of is thinning out my Barbie collection. I’ve been collecting for most of my life, which lead to amassing more than 120 dolls and accessories. To say I’m attached to them is an understatement. Yet, I realized that my preferences as a collector have changed, so I sold or gave away 24 dolls and there are more I’m looking to clear out. It was surprisingly easy to do once I made the choice to let them go.

I still haven’t touched the DVD or CD shelf. Yikes – they are pretty daunting.

My writing area is better, but not organized. Everything is in a box until I decide what to do with all the shelving units in the guest room.

Item #2: Publish Something

I’ve made some good headway on this front, too. The summer actually started with a piece of fan mail from an avid reader of my poetry blog, Haiku Tree. She wanted to know if I had any books out and that gave me quite the boost to work on my chapbook! So far, I have 75 haikus selected from my journals. The goal is to get to 100, so I’m getting close. I’m writing all new pieces for the last 25.

Last month, I attended a query package workshop at Phoenix Comicon. It ended up being the kick in the pants I needed. I rewrote my query letter, cranked out a synopsis, and compiled a new list of agents. This week, I started putting together query packages with all my new materials for each agent on my list. While the sting of rejection is imminent, I’m jumping in head first. Let’s do this!

Item #3: Read 35 Books

I’m right on track according to Goodreads! At the moment, I am reading Book #17.

Item #4: Survive National Board Certification

Done. I’m still alive. I finished the final component last month, but I won’t know until November or December if I scored high enough to be certified. Fingers crossed!

Item #5: Take Better Care of Myself

Working on it. Being away from the day job is helping, but finding my mojo after such a stressful year has been challenging. I’m using some of my summer time to rediscover all the things I gave up during the school year.

One thing is certain, when the school year starts up again, I am determined to protect myself and my time.

Item #6: Go Somewhere

This is delayed. The furbaby needs a lot of special care. If that means staying home, then I’m staying home for the time being. Meanwhile, I will be planning a future adventure! I finally sent my application to renew my passport.

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How are your goals To Do List items going?

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c.b.w. 2017

It’s Go Time

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It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and seriously work on my writing. The day job was seriously crazy this school year, but that will all come to an end tomorrow (helloooo summer!). Two months off will give me plenty of time to focus on more than just blog posts and scribbling random ideas into my journal. To say I’m excited is an understatement!

The first big project I’ll be working on is dusting off my query package for my novel. And I’m kicking this off in an unconventional way! As it turns out, a trip to Phoenix Comicon will not only be my moment to fangirl until I drop, (the Autograph Ninja will be on the prowl! ), but also a chance to mingle with authors and publishers. This year’s event features workshops with YA authors and pros in the publishing industry. I will be participating in two workshops to up my game in the pitching process. First, I’ll be attending a Q&A session that features a YA author I admire  – Aprilynne Pike, (her Wings Series is amazing!). Attendees can ask anything about their books, writing, or the industry. Second, I’ll be going to a workshop that focuses on pitching and the query letter. This has been a struggle for me (as it is for so many writers), so I’m hoping this event will help me figure out what isn’t working in my query package.

Aside from taking advantage of Comicon opportunities, I’ve also put out some feelers for some freelance work. I thrive on deadlines at my day job, so why not apply that trait to writing? In particular, I’m looking to write about fandoms or television recaps. Not too long ago I wrote about how fangirling has enriched my life, (see Things I’ve Learned From Fangirling) and that got me thinking: Why not turn that passion into something that pushes my writing forward?

Then, there’s the haiku chapbook I’ve been working on since January. This is the one project I’ve been working on consistently despite the day job! I’m about halfway done with selecting the haikus that will be part of the collection. Once I’m done selecting, it’ll come down to the messy business of deciding the order in which they will appear. It’s going to drive me crazy, but I’m looking forward to the process.

Like I said, it’s go time!

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c.b.w. 2017

The Annual Trek To Book Heaven

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There’s nothing more a bibliophile loves more than a HUGE used book sale. Every year, I get to bask in the largest book sale in the state and it never gets old.

I arrived with empty bags and a lot of hope that I’d find something good. However, I had to somewhat behave this year given the fact that I just decluttered my bookshelves. I didn’t want to just fill them right back up again and undo all of my decluttering progress!

My first stop was the craft section. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come home with some amazing finds in knitting patterns – especially vintage. This year was no different. I found a great array of knitting magazines, but also a sweater pattern book and needlecraft how-to guide from 1945. The patterns in these books are pure gold as they are simple and timeless.

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The selection of knitting books was a little more sparse this year, but I still found a few good ones. My favorite is, Knit Your Own Dog. I’ve seen this book before and always wanted it.

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While I was combing through the rest of the craft section, my mom was in the collectibles section. She spotted this great visual reference guide for collectible Barbie and held onto it for me. It is beyond amazing!

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I hit the fiction section next. This is where I really had to control my inner urge to snap up any book that looks remotely interesting. That’s tough to do when most are only $3 or less! I decided to only pick up books that are on my to-read list or can pass the first page test (i.e. I can’t fight the urge to turn the page and keep reading). I ended up with small, yet intriguing group of books.

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Last, but not least, I hit the poetry section. My goal is always the same: haiku anthologies. They are tough to find! At the same time, I was looking to find anything inspiring or interesting in short verse poetry. Two of the books I found are pictured above with my fiction finds. Art and Wonder pairs poetry with famous works of art –  I can’t wait to read it!

In the haiku realm, I managed to find two anthologies and a couple of interesting takes on modern Japanese poetry. Flipping through them, I can see they are inspired by haiku, but other forms as well. I’m looking forward to exploring them.

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The grand total for my treasures? $24.25. All in all, it was a great day at the book sale!

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c.b.w. 2017

November Challenges: Week #4

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The close of November brought the end of both NaNoWriMo and the Poem A Day Challenge (via Poetic Asides on Writer’s Digest). By some miracle, I managed to complete my goals for both challenges despite a few days of writer’s block and the Thanksgiving holiday.

NaNoWriMo

Early Bird word count: 1,611

Week 1 word count: 3,262

Week 2 word count: 4,567

Week 3 word count: 3,535

Week 4 word count: 2,416

Total: 15,391

I hit my goal of 15,000 words (plus a little more). It doesn’t get any better than that! All I can say is I’m grateful for planning a little bit ahead when I clocked in three early bird writing days. I knew Thanksgiving weekend was going to be crazy, so I worked in a few extra days beforehand to alleviate the stress of cramming in writing time while also trying to spend time with family. Thank goodness the only pantsing going on was with the actual writing, rather than with scheduling!

The Month’s Trends:

I pantsed it the entire time!

I fully expect to be referencing my notebook during the next phase of my novel, but the first seven chapters were completed pantsed. And I loved every second of it! I never would have guessed it, but pantsing is quite liberating.

I’ve always planned everything I write, but this time my characters had other things in mind. I fully intend on giving them more control as the process continues. Why bother fighting them? They know their story best, right?

Music Matters

I’ve always used carefully constructed playlists to help fuel my muse’s imagination. Even with pantsing, this is still true. Imagine Dragons, Junip, and Muse all played a key role in giving my main characters a deeper sense of emotion, while also unearthing some pretty interesting secrets.

I have a lucky charm.

My typewriter key pendant has become a talisman of inspiration. I don’t know if I’m just imagining things, but my writing time always seemed to go a little smoother when I wore it. I’ll be wearing it until The Muse’s sequel is finished.

There’s always time to write.

Is my life crazy busy? Yes. But this month has reminded me that there is always time to write. I just have to want it bad enough. Small sacrifices had to be made, but it was worth it overall to get the chance to tell the story that’s been inside my head for so long.

November Poem A Day Challenge

A month of poeming has come to an end and I’m proud to say I wrote a poem for each day in November. I had to play catch-up a couple of times, but I still completed the challenge on time.

The next step is choosing 20 poems to create a chapbook submission. I’ve entered this competition several times before without success, but I’ll jump in again anyway. It’s free to enter and I love the challenge of piecing together a collection. I learn something every year about what works and what doesn’t when selecting poems for a chapbook.

The last batch of poems I wrote for the PAD challenge will be posted on my haiku blog, Haiku Tree, throughout this week. Check it out!

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How did you fare on your goals for November?

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c.b.w. 2016

 

2015 Goals: October & November Status Report

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Somehow October got away from me, so it’s going to hang out with November for this round of goal assessment. It’s been two months of ups and downs, but for the most part my muse is on a roll.

1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

It’s been a rough couple of months on this front! I sent out four query packages (just shy of my goal of five) in October. Out of those four, I received one written rejection and three assumed rejections. The assumed rejections are due to the fact that I got the silent treatment. Oooo, that’s painful! All part of process, I suppose!

During November, I put all my focus on the Poem A Day Challenge on Poetic Asides (see #3 below), so I didn’t send out any additional query packages.

I intend on starting a new round of queries after the holiday craziness calms down a bit. 🙂

2. Start writing Lineage.

One the shelf for the time being thanks to poetry pursuits.

3. Submit poetry.

Once again, I participated in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest for Wednesday prompts and the 2015 November Poem A Day Challenge.

For the challenge I wrote between three and four haikus per day. The end goal of the challenge is to construct a chapbook of poems from the challenge and submit the manuscript. The winning chapbook is published!

I’m in the process of experimenting with a possible concept for my chapbook. There was a reason why I wrote a minimum of three haiku for each prompt. Now it’s time to see if my idea is going to work. Stay tuned!

Results for the 2015 April Poem A Day Challenge (via Poetic Asides onWriter’s Digest) were finally updated again. I am excited to announce that I’ve scored another Top 10 finish!! You’ll see me listed just below the halfway point. YAY!

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National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page offered up some interesting prompts. I completed both October and November prompts.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

After the epic failure of October’s query packages, it was tough to stay focused. However, the PAD Challenge helped keep me grounded and motivated me to stay in the game. I’m still going strong and I’m not about to give up!

5. Be flexible.

See #3.

My experiment for my PAD Chapbook entry is definitely challenging me to look at haiku from a different perspective. The concept didn’t occur to me until a week into the challenge, so I’m going to have to go back and reconfigure a few things. I have no idea if my idea is going to work, but I’m excited to give it a try. Details will be forthcoming!

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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