2015 Goals: April Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

This was an interesting month for The Muse. I started April by organizing query packages. I was ready to hit send on all of them, when I realized something had to change. After three months of sending queries I’m getting responses, but they are all rejections. While getting a response of any kind is great, I’m not getting the “yes” I need.

After some thought I think I figured out what’s happening. The fact that I’m getting responses tells me I’ve got a good query letter. That means the rejection factor is coming from my sample pages, which is usually the first five chapters.

I sat down and read the first five chapters at least 10 times before I had a major epiphany. In an instant, I knew what was wrong. Funny how that happens! I wrote to my editor and asked her what she thought about my epiphany and she agreed I was on to something.

What it all comes down to is cutting Chapter 1 entirely. When I really thought about it I realized everything in Chapter 1 is addressed in later early chapters. So why am I clogging the beginning of the story with what is essentially back story? The story has its true start in Chapter 2, so it makes sense to push it up to the beginning.

I may not have sent out a query package this month, but I am working hard on adjusting my manuscript for the next round of queries.

2. Start writing Lineage.

On the shelf at the moment, as per my plan!

3. Submit poetry.

With April being National Poetry Month, I found it easy to focus on this goal! I participated in two poetry challenges:

Over on the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest, the annual April  Poem A Day Challenge commenced. This challenge is also a competition that will culminate in a published poetry anthology. Each day there was a prompt, a guest judge, and over 1,000 posted poems. It was an incredible experience! I managed to post haikus every day (in total, I wrote 88 haikus) and I met some amazing poets along the way.

I also completed another month of National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page. While February is the official haiku writing month, the organization offers up daily haiku writing prompts every month. I ended up writing 61 haikus during the the month of April

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

As the school year is starting to draw to a close, this goal is getting a little harder, but I think writing 149 haikus qualifies as staying focused! 🙂

5. Be flexible.

Who would have thought I’d cut Chapter 1?! I’m still in shock I made this decision, but I think it’s the right thing to do.

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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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p.s. Happy Star Wars Day!!!

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c.b.w. 2015

Favorite Thing Friday: Posters

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The walls in my classroom are anything but boring. One wall is dedicated to the Lennon Wall (and is covered in student created art), while two other walls are dedicated to subject matter visuals like posters, maps, flags, and other cool things to get my students interested in history. The last wall in my classroom, however, is dedicated to all nerdy things I love that have nothing to do with school.

Over the years, my nerd wall has become a student favorite. I don’t know if its because it makes them laugh or if they like the fact that I’m making an effort to be decorative. On a deeper level, I think it gives them a way to connect with me on a human level. I’m real, I have interests, (we might even share a few things in common), and I’m not just some stiff teacher that has no life.

Every year, the nerd wall gets a make-over. I never hang the same array of posters two years in a row because that would be boring. For the last few years, Twilight has been the main feature on the wall, but with the end of Twilight’s run in the theater the nerd wall is in need of a major overhaul.

After going through my box of posters, I realized I had some shopping to do. All my superhero posters are so two movies ago, while the rest are of TV shows that are no longer on the air.  Before I even hit the stores, I knew finding new posters would be a difficult task. I don’t know why, but its getting tough to find cool posters that go beyond Justin Bieber and Angry Birds.

It took two weeks, but I think I’ve finally tracked down some fun posters for my nerd wall. Between Target, Wal-Mart, amazon, Michaels, and a few oldies but goodies in my poster box, I’ve got a solid line up of superheroes, sci-fi, TV, and London love to grace the nerd wall.

Here are a few of the posters that will be on my nerd wall this year:

The almighty Yoda is here to tell my students, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

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Target: $5.99

For the first time ever, Superman will be on the nerd wall. Henry Cavill is pretty hot, so he made the cut.

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Wal-Mart $5.00

Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory will be around to keep everybody laughing.

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Michael’s $6.99

The Avengers and Spider-man will be joining this flock, but I’m also adding a couple of posters that show some major London love.

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amazon $3.99

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amazon $2.44 + shipping

Last but not least, I’ve got a poster that goes with my life-size standee of Spock (the Nimoy version). Don’t worry Captain Kirk (the Shatner version) is also there to keep things under control.

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amazon $5.59 + 3.99 shipping

Now I just have to figure out what pictures will go on the sides of my desk. Between Robert Pattinson’s beautiful face and Grimm (great show on NBC) I think that will round out the nerd corner quite nicely.

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2013

Yoda Silenced My Inner Critic

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One of my favorite quotes comes from the most unlikely of sources: a puppet from a pop culture phenomenon.  When Yoda taught (a rather whiny) Luke how to use the Force, he uttered the now infamous phrase, “Do or do not.  There is no try.”  As I emerge from a particularly brutal battle with my inner critic, (See My Inner Critic is Trying to Kill Me), this phrase has become my weapon of choice in shushing that vicious little voice.

Yoda’s wisdom may be the product of a cult classic, but he really does know what he’s talking about.  While I have admiration for trying, it only gets you so far.   If all we ever did was try, Luke’s x-wing would still be submerged in a swamp and my novel would still be stuck in rough draft mode drowning in my doubts.  Somehow that rough draft turned into a final draft and it didn’t happen because I tried.  It happened because I decided to “do” instead of “do not.”  Yoda would be proud.

But, I find myself in a funk of figuring out what to do next and its harder to find the groove I need to move forward.  I have a list of “do’s” that ranges from formatting, getting copies to some readers, and figuring out the publishing game, but it doesn’t solve the odd sense of melancholy that clouds my victory.  While there is deep sense of satisfaction, there is also a profound sadness that this particular part of my journey is over.  It’s time to let go and it hurts far more than I thought it would.  All the time I set aside each day for this little project is now free and very empty.

The unexpected grief is beginning to wane, but only because the challenge in front of me has grown into something I can’t ignore.  I’m too stubborn.  The question now isn’t so much whether or not I believe my work is good, it’s more so about how ready I am to face the next step.  The Luke in me is ready to fire up my lightsaber and hunt down Darth Vader, even though I haven’t finished my training.   My inner critic can say no more, for my true obstacle is about letting go and moving on with a final draft that I know is good, (take that inner critic!).  Meanwhile, a manuscript sits on my desk waiting for my return and I can hear Yoda whispering in his sage voice, “Do or do not.  There is no try.”

c.b. 2011