Monthly Archives: October 2013

How planning a child’s birthday party is like plotting a book

Who knew planning Baby Markey’s birthday could be so complicated? I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible on:

Cake design
Balloon bouquets and center pieces
Designing vegetable platters
Table landscapes
Games
Party favors
Piñata’s

Oh and then there’s the fact that the park it’s being held at doesn’t take reservations. My hubby was at the gated park an hour before it opened to secure our place and tables while I finished the sandwiches.

CenterpiecePlanning a party takes time. It’s very similar to planning your book. Of course issues will come up where you must think on the spot. Just as that scene won’t come together the way you envision it, some kid is sure to knock over something. Something will not go as planned. That’s when you must remain calm and sit back. Look at the spilled punch bowl or troublesome scene. How can you fix it?

Plan for a mishap. Plan for scenes that will take longer to write. Next month is Nanowrimo so budget your daily word count so that if you have a few bad days it won’t throw you off track for the month.

In the end, the final product is the result of your planning and attention. Have you thrown a big birthday party for your child? Did you notice similarities to its planning and your writing? What fun themes did you use?

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Attention writers: Are you ready for the holiday season?

Ghouls and goblins take to the streets next week and soon we’ll be decking the halls in red and green but are you really for the holiday season? I’m a month away from taking a month-long vacation to the States and while it’s exciting, it’s also very overwhelming. However, even if you don’t have big travel plans for the season now is the best time for writers to prepare.

I write from home and though my daughter keeps me very busy I do best with structure. This is why I get up early each morning to write at least 500 words before chaos erupts in the house. It’s also why I schedule my writing time in my daily planner (AKA my lifeline, stay far away if it goes missing.) I know that when I’m on vacation visiting family or just caught up in the holiday spirit, writing will become a challenge. This is why I’m planning now. I’ve created lists to work from and I’m working ahead. By the end of the week my blog posts for November-January will be finished. Before I leave my final edits on my second non-fiction will be complete and submitted to my publisher and I’ll be well underway on meeting my Nanowrimo goal.Holidays

This may seem like a lot along with Halloween and the annual fantasy football party we throw but the extra work is worth it to feel prepared for the holiday season.

Simply working ahead is wise whenever you foresee a busy time on the horizon. I’ve read many blogs that talk about this very thing leading up to summer. For me December is the hardest month to write so I do what I can to make things easier on myself.

What are you doing to get prepared for the holidays as far as your writing goes? What tricks have you learned over the years?

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Your child’s soccer practice can help your writing

Writing moms and dads are always facing new challenges in their attempts to have it all. As our kids grow so do our commitments and the struggles to manage our time. This is why I teach writing parents a simple self-study technique so that they can apply it to their lives as they change. Even though being a writing parent is always and forever will be a learning process. Recently I’ve learned the value of structure and wish I would have implemented it sooner and benefited from its power.photo(5)

This year Baby Markey started preschool and a variety of activities. She’s in soccer, music, gymnastics, Latin dance, and swim lessons. With such a schedule we are all learning structure in our house. Each day has a set schedule and I’ve never felt more like a CEO. In fact, I don’t believe I was this organized when I scheduled, wrote and directed commercials for CBS.

While Baby Markey’s structured schedule cuts into my writing it has proven one thing. A busy child is an easier child. When we’re at home she’s more likely to agree to sit quietly and color or to watch a few cartoons. Both of these activities allow me to write. Also while I attend all her activities, I’m not learning these things, I take my trusted iPad with attachable keyboard and write. Take advantage of the time you get waiting on the sidelines.

Keeping up with my child’s schedule is a big job but it also forces me to notice the down time I do get and to take full advantage of it. My distractions online become fewer when I know I just don’t have the time.

Structure can be overwhelming or you can embrace it and let it help you reach your writing goals and dreams while being the parent you want to be. I know I’ll experience many changes in my schedule as my daughter grows but so far I like this new stage. I love seeing her blossom into someone with talents and skills.

If you have a younger child who has yet to get involved in school and activities it’s never too early to introduce structure. Yes, I heard that too when I had an infant but I now can attest that it is true. Set a schedule for your child. Parents often do this with nap times but do it with activities as well. Set a time for various types of play, music time, etc. Let your child benefit from a schedule and it too can help you.

How has increased structure in your life helped your writing?

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The technological joys of the modern writer

Technology today both enables us and lifts us to new levels of communication and education. Living overseas I’ve learned to hold a higher regard for technology and I’m not talking online gaming or dating (I’m happily married.) As a writer you don’t have to live overseas to feel disconnected from the world. It’s tempting to stay put in your chair pounding away or sometimes simply staring at the words on the computer screen.

Writers need to get out. I was fortunate to live in Houston and benefit from fantastic writing groups such as West Houston RWA. But I don’t have to miss such connections by living in Saudi Arabia. The World Wide Web gives us many options to network and learn from writers and industry experts. For example there’s WANA Con, which started yesterday. I’m ready and waiting at my laptop anxious to learn from industry experts such as Kristen Lamb, J. E. Fishman, David Corbett and many more. And as always, I’m sure I’ll meet some friendly fellow writers in the online “lobby.”

Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is also just around the corner in November. Their online resource is a great way to support and network with writers no matter where you live. It’s getting easier and easier to burst through your writing prompts and get “in front” of writers and like minded people.

Many literary greats didn’t have the luxury of such modern technology. Shakespeare didn’t have Twitter. Sometimes I wonder if they had it better because they didn’t have such distractions. They were writers. Today a writer has to be so much more. We need some social media presence, a website, etc. However, there has never been a better time to be a writer. I truly believe this.
global networks
Let’s face it. Writers need support. I was recently rejected from an agent who I really liked because she is no longer taking on YA fantasy projects. Sure she liked my story, which is always nice to hear but still this wasn’t the news I hoped for. It’s weeks like this when I lean on my writing friends.

Writers can also branch out of their comfort zones through writing contests offered online. Every year I enter the Emily contest. It’s always a professionally handled contest that offers helpful and positive feedback. And of course I didn’t let my International status stop me this year!

So no matter where you live. If you write then get out there. Find those workshops, conferences, contests and networks. Join online chapters, follow writers on Facebook and Twitter. Make friends with fellow writers. Whatever you do just get out there. It makes the up and downs of this profession easier to manage.

Is anyone else attending WANA Con? Be sure to “wave” to me in the lobby or classrooms!

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