Tag Archives: writing

The world of mommy politics with a writer’s eye

Okay moms out there, this blog is for you or any parent who is involved in your child’s activities. It’s hard work physically and emotionally. You get a bunch of adults together who should all share the common interest of the kids’ well-being in mind and wow you’ve got the recipe for drama! As a mom to an active preschooler, a dance teacher and a leader of a children’s programming group in my community I deal with such drama more frequently than sororities can gossip.

It’s weeks like this where I find such beautiful peace in my writing. Of course there is drama and conflict among my pages but at least I control it and I usually know where it’s going. My fictional drama has purpose and a goal while I often wonder if any real world drama maintains any purposeful goals.

Summer is almost here and I know you're thinking what I'm thinking! In times of stress focus on the positive like pretty beaches.

Summer is almost here and I know you’re thinking what I’m thinking! In times of stress focus on the positive like pretty beaches.

This is also a good reminder of how real life experiences can help our writing. Just look at rejection. Sure everything can be a “growing moment” but there is nothing fun about rejection whether it’s from an agent or involved drama within an organization. It can be easy to get our feelings bent out of shape but the real thing to focus on is moving forward. If we sit and stew over a problem it won’t get solved and we’ll continue to feel down. However, if we move on and focus on the goal at hand then we’re eventually going to get it.

Currently there seems to be some power struggles in an organization I’m in. I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point. My strategy: keep moving forward and do what I believe is right. Then how can I feel bad about anything? The same goes for my writing. No matter what kind of week or day I have I keep writing and writing the story that I can stand by.

At the end of the day all we can do is what we feel is the best work that we can do. If I’m happy with myself then that should be good enough. Of course it’s not. I like praise and recognition. Who doesn’t but really what good does that do? How does that help anything be it social or writing? It doesn’t. So give yourself a pat on the back and just keep doing what you’re doing. Eventually someone will notice your hard work!

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On Lent and Writing

Hello Wednesday and hello Lent. This past Tuesday marked the start of Lent – “a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Day (as defined by Wikipedia.”) While most people associate Lent with the act of giving something up, my family has always done the opposite. We add something to our daily routine that will hopefully better us in someway. There is no reason why writers can’t capitalize on the meaning of Lent and use it to benefit their writing.

My new Lent workout

My new Lent workout

This year I’m adding a 10-minute workout routine (on top of my normal fitness schedule) AND I’m vowing to write 500 words towards my new project before my daughter wakes up. See? Lent cannot only be a spiritual exercise but also a time to focus on what you’ve wanted to do and make it become reality.

When I wake up the first work I do is check my social media sites, follow up on any emails, and currently edit a few pages in what I’m revising. In addition to that I need to get the household ready for the day- feed pets, make sure any meat that needs to be thawed is out, take trash out, make my daughter’s breakfast, etc. All of this gets done (or at least I try) before Baby Markey gets up. I love being productive during this time but I always wish I could have written something new. I yearn to flex my creativity muscles. Now by pledging to write 500 new words in the morning I’m hoping to feel a great sense of creative accomplishment and all before the sun comes up! Of course this might mean that some of my normal tasks could fall to the back burner. I’m willing to work it out and stick to this goal.

What are doing for Lent? I believe that Lent is a great way to look at your goals and wants and make them happen. To me, it is religious and I find it spiritual when I meet a goal set.

Important Markey House Announcement: Baby Markey no longer wishes to be referred to as a baby. She says that she is a big girl. I’m actually proud of our big-girl-minded 3-year-old voicing her opinion to us. Therefore, she will now be referred to as “Little Miss Markey.”

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Writing: A family affair

In my house writing is a family affair. This month I’m in the U.S. for work (I live in Saudi Arabia) and I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for my supportive husband, flexible daughter and well, the animals are not too happy but they’re managing.

I’m a firm believer that any writer (or creative person) should involve family in their process. For one, it’s good to let them know what you do so they don’t think you’re crazy when you shut them out to spend time with fictional characters. I love talking about story ideas with my husband and getting his feedback and I feel that he likes being involved. Baby Markey is just three but when she’s older I can’t wait to discuss story ideas with her.

Beast on a computerAnd then there are the furry babies. Right now is one of the very rare occasions when I’m not writing with a dog, cat or bunny on my foot and I don’t like it. I feel like something is missing. I love the furry support that I get and it definitely helps with stress. Reports are always coming out about how having pets is good for ones health and I believe it.

By involving your family they will also be more willing and understand why you need to schedule and devote time to your craft. You don’t have to go out of town to a nice lake house for a writing retreat. Of course such trips are nice but you can always schedule a writing retreat anytime in your own home.

Involving your family in anything that you do and love is always the best plan. My family supports me and enjoys being part of my writing process no matter how many legs they have. How do you involve your family in your writing?

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How writers can make the most of sick days

It happens even when you work from home. We all get sick days and punching out of life is hard and most of the time impossible. I suffer from horrible migraines. Lately the treatment I’m on has been working. I’ll still get them but when I do they are manageable. This past weekend however I experienced a really bad one. You know, that kind of sickness where you are stuck in bed and curse any sound, light or movement. That was my weekend. Thankfully it was a weekend and my husband was home. At least I could rest easier knowing that my daughter was taken care of. Yet, in the back of my suffering mind I couldn’t stop thinking of work.

Sick days can also be a little easier to weather when you have a loyal companion.

Sick days can also be a little easier to weather when you have a loyal companion.

I had several news articles for my “Mortal Instruments Examiner” column to publish along with edits on my second dog book, and two fiction projects. Now was no time for me to be ill. Yet that didn’t help my migraine any, if anything thinking of all this made it worse. Then it hit me and I’m not referring to my daughter’s play stethoscope from one of her check-ups on me. Writers can benefit from a sick day.

What better time for us to meditate on an idea or an area of our story that has us stuck? That’s what I did and not only did I solve a problem in my story but I also felt a little better for getting something done.

Meditation is always a great resource in writing. It often beats staring at the computer screen waiting for inspiration to strike. This is something that we can do when sick and stuck in bed. Being sick is rough but sometimes we can still make the most of it creatively speaking.

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What book inspired you to write?

I’ve always loved to read. When I was little I used to sit in my closet and read C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.” Hey, a closet was the closest thing I had to a wardrobe and yet I only visited Narnia in my mind.

When I was in college and then the professional world that followed, it was easy to trade reading for needed sleep as I continued to get busier and busier. However, I never settled to put fiction away and enjoyed countless tales even if it took me a little longer to read thsmithcrownduelem.

A while ago a friend of mine recommended that I read “Crown Duel” by Sherwood Smith. Here is the blurb from the back of the book:
It begins in a cold and shabby tower room, where young Countess Meliara swears to her dying father that she and her brother will defend their people from the growing greed of the king. That promise leads them into a war for which they are ill prepared, a war that threatens the homes and lives of the very people they are trying to protect.
But war is simple compared to what follows, when the bloody fighting is done and a fragile peace is at hand. Although she wants to turn her back on politics and the crown, Meliara is summoned to the royal palace. There, she soon discovers that, friends an
d enemies look alike, and intrigue fills the dance halls and the drawing rooms. If she is to survive, Meliara must learn a whole new way of fighting—with wit and words and secret alliances. In war, at least, she knew whom she could trust. Now she can trust no one.

Sounds good, right? I loved this book and Smith’s use of setting and intriguing quickly inspired my mind into dreaming up worlds and tales of my own. Before reading this book I only wrote articles and non-fiction works. After falling in love with Smith’s fantasy world I starting making notes and writing fiction of my own. It is my greatest goal to soon bring my fiction to readers and maybe even inspire a younger generation of readers as Lewis and Smith inspired me.

What book or books inspired you to write?

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The power of books

“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”- Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. This is perhaps one of my favorite quotes from any modern book. Words do have the profound power to change us and I know that they hold a strong affect on writers.

Writers are readers first. The two joys go hand in hand for one cannot exist without the other. Sometimes I find it easy to get caught up in writing that I forget to read. I know, the horror! However, each time I grab a new book I fall in love again. I love discovering new worlds and friends. After reading a really great story I feel reborn and attack my pages with a new sense of purpose and desire.

It’s true that yestJediReaderday when I was buried in Cassandra Clare’s latest book, “Clockwork Princess” I didn’t meet my daily word count. Dishes piled up in the sink and my family was lucky to have leftovers. However, today I woke early and wrote two thousand words before my two and a half year old daughter got up. I admire great books, which Clare’s latest book certainly is. It encourages me to work even harder towards my writing goal so that one day readers will feel inspired by my stories.

Words have great power. Great books inspire and they don’t need to be a fantastic non-fiction, fiction is just as powerful if not more because it is pure creation.

What was the last book you read? How did it inspire you as a writer?

We encourage reading at our house. Jedi is a fan of my iPad ☺

NEWS:

This week I was a guest at author Jami Gold’s blog. In preparation of her WANA International website class, I spoke about making the switch from Blogger to WordPress.

Check out Jami’s class and other great classes at WANA International.

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Confessions of a dieting writer

Dieting is hard, especially for a writer who has never had to diet before. I’ve always been thin, a consistent size 2 or 4. However, since my emergency gall bladder surgery I have not had a flat stomach and my cute rhinestone Black Market and White House jeans only fit if I forfeit breathing. I already exercise an hour a day. So I’m afraid, the time has come to tackle an actual diet…..(enters dramatic music.)

Now that I’m thinking about it, dieting is not conducive to professional writer’s schedule.

  1. Writers sit for long periods of time.
  2. A bowl or bag of junk food is often easier to grab for lunch than something healthy.
  3. Late night snacks and caffeine are our friends.

After some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that dieting may pose greater challenges for writers than other professions. These three points alone are terrible for dieting and healthy living in general. However, I’ve always preached that staying fit helps writing. Even when I’m up against deadlines (like I am now) I never miss time on my elliptical machine or morning yoga. Staying fit helps me keep a clear head and just feel overall healthier. So, if exercise can help us feel/write better I know it only makes sense that adding a diet can only increase productivity.

Still dieting is hard stuff! I’ve NEVER done this before. So my strategy? I’m going to begin with cutting back on my portions and ensuring that I’m eating the right things and no more popcorn snacks! Our house is already a soda-free zone, which I’ve read is a good and important thing.

I know dieting is always a popular topic of discussion. What has worked for you? How do you curtail those late night snack cravings?

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To making it count

“To making it count,” are the words that Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) said in “Titanic” as he offered a toast to the first class table he played guest to. Though just a fictional character, Jack had the right idea in life. We never know what the next day, week, month or even second may bring. All the more reason to look at your dream and make it happen.

This week marked the debut release of author Bridget Zinn. She didn’t live to see the release of her book, “PoisonPoison.” Zinn passed away of cancer but even in death I’m sure she’s smiling in heaven at the realization of her dream. Bridget’s story is a sad one and I can’t help but look at where I am in realizing my own dream, to see my fiction published and get to share my stories with the world. I’m not where I want to be.

This past year has been a challenge; first our move to Saudi Arabia and then my emergency surgery for a ruptured gall bladder. I’ve fallen behind and some days it seems like I can never catch up. I read Bridget’s story and I’m both thankful and terrified.

I’m thankful to be happy and have a wonderful family. I’m thankful to have published a book on a topic that I’m passionate about, “Caring For Your Special Needs Dog.” Yet, I’m terrified at what I haven’t done. I have unfinished manuscripts, which I want to pitch this summer of conferences. I am still editing my second dog book when I planned for it to be out months ago. The truth is I’m not where I want to be and no matter what the excuse or situation is, that’s the truth.

So I’m powering through goal-lists, making it count and working hard towards my dreams while loving the life I have. I know I’ll get there because as my husband says, “I’m way too stubborn not too!” Until then, I’m thankful to be well and writing and will never stop fighting to get my own characters on bookshelves.

I haven’t read “Poison” by Bridget Zinn but it is loaded on my iPad and will be read soon. I look forward to reading the story she wanted us to know and push hard to get my own stories before readers eyes.

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How to create writing magic the healthy way

OK, being a full time writer is not always the healthiest of professions. Think about it; writers sit for long periods of time oGym 1ften hunched over their computer screens, we often miss meals or resort to fast snacks (in my case, this is popcorn,) we cut ourselves off from the “normal” world, talk to voices in our heads, consume large amounts of caffeine and should we discuss chocolate and wine? Basically, being a writer isn’t great for your health. Thanks to so many hours in front of my Mac, I was in reading glasses before I turned 30. But sometimes the best thing you can do for your manuscript is to take a break and when you take that break hit the gym! Check out these simple steps to creating writing magic while working out.

1. Be sure to review your most recent scenes or outlines. Have your story be at the front of your mind. When you are on that treadmill or whatever machine, think of your story. I often find that the combination of thinking of my story while getting my blood flowing creates story magic. Scenes are fixed and come together beautifully in my mind.
2. Listen to music. I always workout to theatrical musical scores. If I’m hearing words then I’ll focus on them rather than my own story, which needs my focus.
3. Allow yourself enough time to workout. I’ve found that the “story magic” I refer to is unlikely to occur if you feel rushed.
4. After your workout cool down by writing down anything and everything that came to mind about your story. Just like recording dreams, if you skip this step, you’ll probably forget the very element that can help you achieve story magic.

Just yesterday I was on my elliptical when the climatic scene of my middle grade novel played out in my mind. I think it’s a combination of blood flow and just getting away from the computer that makes a workout break the most productive thing a writer can do. It works for me!

How do you set the stage for “story magic?”

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Finding inspiration from the Oscars

I love the Oscars! I love seeing all the fashion and seeing people live their dreams. I was thrilled for Anne Hathaway and loved her quote, “I had a dream…and it came true.” We all have dreams. For me, seeing others accomplish their dreams further inspires me to push for my own “dream come true.”

I may not write screenplays but writers are writers. With every movie I see I think, “Someone wrote that.” Every story began with a not so pretty rough draft. Sometimes I look at my disorganized drafts and wonder if anything pretty will come of it. Everything must get a little dirty before fluffing up to become “dream” material. I’m sure all of this year’s Oscar winners went through periods of doubt. Would they ever win an Oscar? Many of the nominees are still thinking just that. This industry is full of long waits and doubts but we see the payoff, if not in our work yet then through the work of others.

Hearing the acceptance speeches and seeing the tears makes the reality that dreams do come true easier to believe. Anything really is possible through hard work. So with that being said, do the Academy Awards inspire you? Do you think, “that can be me” when others achieve success? I do. So enjoy this brief interview by the now, Academy Award Winner Anne Hathaway. We all have dreams, no go make yours come true!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:
Don’t forget to check out my popular “Writing Moms (and Dads)” WANA International workshop happening in March. See details below:

Writing Moms (and Dads!) Online Workshop
Date: March 4th, 2013 – April 4, 2013
Description: Plot, character arc, transitions, climax, revise, rewrite, make that deadline, blog, check social media sites, continued education, volunteer for local writing group, read critique partners manuscript, research agents/publishers, read books within your genre, read a craft book and network. These are ALL things that go through writers’ minds on any given day. But what if you had to add: Make bottles, keep up with diaper/Gerber/ formula supplies, feed baby, play dates, bathe baby, wipe up thrown sweet potatoes, shower to get sweet potatoes out of your hair, more playtime, hope for a naptime (for baby, you must write,) read to baby, and hope baby actually goes to bed at the designated time.
For many writers, this is reality. In fact, many full-time writers are made because of a child being born. Some amazing mothers write late at night, around their day job. However you do it, being a writing parent is a challenge but very doable and rewarding. Learn easy self study tactics, time management tips and suggestions from a ten-year freelance journalist, published author and speaker who also has a two-year-old daughter and a high maintenance dog. You can have it all without losing your mind.
Register HERE

Writing Moms (and Dads!) Personal Consultation
Dates: March 4, 2013 – April 4, 2013
Length: Two 45 min. phone consultations. The first consultation will be within the first week of the four-week Writing Moms (and Dads!) workshop. The second will be scheduled prior to completing the workshop.
Description: Take what you learn from the Writing Moms (and Dads!) workshop and get one-on-one guidance on developing the best plan for making you a smarter writer. The first consultation will be a detailed interview followed by a discussion of time constraints. The second will be about developing the best plan for you based off your first consultation discussions. You will also get personalized methods for implementing, testing and carrying out your plan.
Register HERE

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