What I’m excited about

cactus bloom
A cactus in bloom in my yard.

After taking time off from submitting stories, I finally did it. I dusted off the story I wrote about my mom and submitted to two publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. Two so far.

It made me really happy to do that. The process has changed through the years. I used to mail my printed manuscript with a query letter and an SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope.) Then I’d anxiously await for the publisher or agent to reply by snail mail. If I was lucky, I’d get a letter that was encouraging. Or, in the case of a novel, I’d send in the first three chapters and the editor would ask for more. I even got a few acceptance letters from magazines and newspapers.

The funniest thing was I did get an offer to publish my “mom” story. At the time, I didn’t think the offer was good enough. It was from a small publisher who said they’d do an initial run of 500 or 1,000 and see how it did before another print run. How I wish I would have said yes! That’s why I’m excited to try again, all these years later.

On the down side of submitting manuscripts, I’d get a form letter or postcard in my SASE with a generic phrase, “We’re sorry but your manuscript doesn’t fit our needs.”

Now, we submit by email or through a form on the publisher’s website. They have submission guidelines and say if you don’t hear back in so many months, they aren’t interested. You’re not guaranteed to get a response.

Doing more research on publishers, I renewed my membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I downloaded the market survey for small presses and discovered quite a few still use the old snail mail method with SASEs. I bet that cuts down on the number of submissions!

I received an email from one of the two publishers so far and it stated they are interested in my story and will give it careful consideration. I guess I passed the first hurdle. But, the email ended with “if you don’t hear back from us within two months, then we are passing on your manuscript.”

Eh, wait and see. In the meantime, I’m pleased to be back in the game.

What are your thoughts about submitting your writing?

What’s your morning routine?

I spoted a Mule deer
A mule deer we spotted on our morning walk.

Every morning I glance at my phone to see what time it is when I wake up. I also check the temperature.

This morning an article popped up that caught my eye. “3 morning habits to help you be happier and more productive at work, according to psychologists” by Morgan Smith on CNBC.

I have an established morning routine that I have followed for years. I developed the routine while reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I journal three pages. It’s a brain dump consisting of everything that’s making me anxious, plus a to do list for the upcoming day. Then I use an app called Laudate and either read or listen to daily Bible readings followed by prayer. Last, I go for my morning walk.

It’s a routine that helps me feel grounded. I was curious what the article would say about morning routines and if my morning routine hit their three suggestions to be happier and more productive.

I’m missing the first step.

Set an intention for the day.

Your to-do list might be doing more harm than good, psychologist Jessica Jackson warns. 

Checking your emails, calendar or to-do list soon after you wake up “immediately starts the day off on a stressful note, and tells your brain to go into panic mode,” Jackson, who is also the global clinical diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging manager at Modern Health, tells CNBC Make It

Instead, Jackson recommends all of her clients start their day with an intention meditation: taking a few minutes to sit in silence, take a couple of deep breaths, and choose a single word, or sentence, to be their “north star” for the day. 

“You can tell yourself, ‘My intention for today is to feel successful’ or ‘I want to be comfortable today’ and think about what you can realistically accomplish in the next 24 hours to feel that way,” Jackson explains. “It can also be a single, powerful word like ‘gratitude’ that will guide how you react to and reflect on whatever happens throughout the day.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/12/18/psychologists-morning-habits-to-help-you-be-happier-more-productive.html

Step two I do with my morning pages. The suggestion is to set an offline ritual and stick with it. My morning walks also fit the bill.

Step three is to have fun. I thought I was missing that also, but I play Wordle every morning. That’s my bit of fun. We realize how important recess is for kids at school, the article explained. But what do we do for fun?

What is your morning routine? Do you hit all three of the steps in the CNBC article?

Winner winner! Chicken dinner!

Woohoo! I did it. I met my goal of 50,000 words of a novel for the writing challenge called NaNoWriMo. The past couple days I was feeling good about my writing and I went above and beyond the minimum required words. I finished one whole day ahead of schedule.

On the NaNoWriMo website, there is a place to update the number of words you write daily. The stats tab shows a chart of your progress and tells you how many words you need to write each day to make the goal by the end of the month.

My back and shoulders hurt from sitting and writing for so many hours. But other than that, I’m feeling pretty good.

I’m not finished with this novel by any means. I have just begun the ending and tying loose ends. I’ll complete writing the story over the next week or two. Then I’ll set it aside until the New Year and take a deep dive into my story and begin revisions.

P.S. Yes, I’m planning on having a chicken dinner tonight as a winner winner.

What goals have you felt good about accomplishing this year?

Counting down the days and words

 pomegranate
We have pomegranates in our yard. I’m not sure if they’re ornamental or good to eat.

The month will soon be over. November is National Novel Writing Month known as NaNoWriMo. The challenge is to write 50,000 words this month. I am at a little over 42,000 words and I’m counting down to the wire.

I like my story premise, I’m pleased that I’m alternating points of view each chapter between several characters. A lot of back story and details about the characters’ lives emerged. My prior draft from last year was from one character’s point of view and it was limiting.

Six days and 8,000 words to go. My goal is 1,500 words a day until it’s done. It is a challenge. I usually edit and revise as I write. But this is an exercise in getting the story out and fixing it later. It’s difficult for me to write without wanting to rewrite and edit.

Once the rough draft is done, I’ll set it aside before I take a good hard look at what I’ve done. Then the real work will begin.

Do you edit as you write? Or do you write a free flowing first draft and edit it later?

National Novel Writing Month has arrived!

My last year’s project.

I wrote 50,000 words last November in honor of NaNoWriMo. The Playgroup is a novel based on my experiences as a young mother in Palm Springs, Calif. It’s a story about testing friendships and how one person changed the quiet lives of the moms’ group.

I wrote 2,000 to 3,000 words each day and made it to my goal by Thanksgiving.

But then, I lost the manuscript. I was waiting until the new year to begin the process of editing and revising, but I blew it. I never backed it up and my laptop was erroneously deleting files. I lost my community newsletter and The Playgroup rough draft.

UGH!

I thought I had set up automatic backups to icloud — but I didn’t. Now I manually back up to a thumb drive each day.

I began rewriting the manuscript and it’s taken on a new life. My biggest change was the point of view. It was written from one character but I expanded it to the POV of four moms. I’m at about 25,000 words now, so my NaNoWriMo month will be half the words I wrote last year.

I’m currently flying to Seattle for the week to visit my mom, so I don’t think I’ll get to writing until I return home. Not an awesome start to the month, but I’ll be back!

Have you taken on a writing challenge? What is it and how did it go for you?

Questions for bloggers

Olive the cat on the sofa

Olive the cat hanging out in the casita.

Yesterday morning something odd happened. My blog post that was scheduled didn’t post. I had a small message in red type that said “Missed schedule.” That’s the third time it’s happened to me. I’ve made mistakes more frequently with my scheduling, like selecting p.m. instead of a.m. But how does WordPress miss a scheduled post? I thought it would happen automatically?

I want to know if that’s happened to anyone else?

Other questions I have for bloggers:

Do you schedule you posts in advance? How far in advance?

Where do you get your ideas?

What are your most popular topics?

What is a post you wrote that surprised you with the number of views and comments?

About forwards and prologues

I was excited to read my third Shirley Jackson book “The Road Through the Wall.” I read two Jackson books on my beach vacation and loved them.

I took the time to read the forward — something that I don’t always do.

Compared to the “Haunting of Hill House” or “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” Jackson’s masterful late novels, “The Road Through the Wall” is a slighter work.

Ruth Franklin, book critic and contributinG editor at The New Republic

The two books I read on vacation were the ones mentioned. This latest book was Jackson’s first novel, so yes, it is a lesser work. But reading those words dampened my enthusiasm to read the book. I wondered if I should even bother.

I now wish I’d read the forward AFTERWORD. I’m almost finished with the book and I’m enjoying it, but I felt this feeling of doubt when I started. Ruth Franklin’s forward is detailed and explains a lot about the story. I will finally read the Forward again — after I finish reading the book.

What are your thoughts about Forwards and Prologues. Do you read them? Do you think they add or detract to the story?