Last month marked the anniversary of my first published work. Well, my first published work in over two decades, I should say, not counting unpaid blog posts and articles for local area newsletters. I had a few small bits published right after college, but then I had children and did not get back into writing for many years. Even then, I was too scared to send anything off to see if it was good enough for publication. Two years ago, I finally had enough positive feedback from other writers to get my courage up, and I got the ball rolling on submitting and by May last year, I had pieces published in four anthologies.
It’s been a good year, all told. I’ve had the chance to experience an anthology being built from the ground up, worked with several personalities of editors, set up Amazon Author Central and Goodreads Author pages, met a lot of fantastic and helpful new people, learned thousands of things about writing and marketing, attended my first book festival, changed my logo, and also discovered what the difference between people who had my best interests at heart and those who didn’t looked like.
2023 has been a hard year for me, logistically speaking. A prodigious number of things have gone wrong between the two houses I help maintain, my little family has had some big trials I’d rather not mention here, people and pets I love have passed away, my best friend had her whole life overturned, and groups that I help run have all had their own wacky disasters as well.
My word count is still really high compared to most years. My connections to other writers have grown stronger, and the number of writing opportunities I’ve had have multiplied exponentially, but I’m still struggling with time management. There’s just not enough of me to go around dealing with all the disasters and to get all the writing related activities done (so many of which are not, in fact, actually writing). Which is why my number of published works remains low – I just haven’t had time to submit anything anywhere with everything else that’s been going on.
That changed this morning. Despite a looming writing deadline for a short story that’s going in the back of someone else’s book, I sat down and made sure that I’d submitted at least a few poems and stories for publication in literary journals, anthologies, and zines. Just that little effort was enough – I’m feeling positive about writing again for the first time in a couple months. I can’t wait to see where my pieces end up. I’m looking forward to a fruitful second year of publishing.
Y’all. I thought I was going to be so on track with my writing this year, having made a decent schedule, with lots of breaks for fun family times, illness, injury, and whatever. What I didn’t plan for was for all of that to happen in the first month of the year.
My year so far has included a totaled car, a busted dishwasher pump, mysteriously broken microwave, and wonky electrical system all in my house, plus a flooding under the kitchen floor, worn out electrical outlets that weren’t working, and a leaking hot water heater in the house my college kids live in, there was a major ice storm in my area, so we were without power for almost five days, and then the van we borrowed while we are looking for a new car had it’s battery die. So eight major crisis’s in a six week period.
Oh, and my college kid rescued a puppy that had been dumped in his friends yard, so there’s been puppy babysitting as well.
Needless to say, I’m a little behind on my word count. I have, however, figured out all the plot holes in the current novel, have made a list of all the scenes needing to be written, and put it all into a handy-dandy word document that I can access from any device I own. So now I can write literally from anywhere. Which is good because the puppy cannot come here to my house, so I must go to hers. (It’s the puppy’s house now. Bwahahah.)
Also, Indy has been a welcome inclusion in my life because my current novel has a little dog in it, a puppy only a little bit older than her, so I’m using my time with her as inspiration for dog-related comic relief in bleaker parts of my story. 🙂 Plus puppy kisses! Win-win!
Hope y’all are all doing well. Let me know in the comments below. 🙂
This whole summer was one big logistical nightmare. We got the kids all moved, got my writing studio space all finished, and I mostly sat around and tried to breathe like a normal human being. I couldn’t, so I started seeing all the doctors and having x-rays and heart testing procedures. I ended up not doing any teaching at the library at all and quit a couple of other volunteer board positions that I just couldn’t physically handle as well.
I spent a lot of time just sitting and scanning or taking photos of my old journals, digging through and purging old files of art and school notes from when the kids were in elementary school, and making Scrivener files for all of the random writing I found within every stack of paper I touched. It was all very interesting to me from a “I’m always writing something, even when I shouldn’t be” perspective. I enjoyed that project a lot, even though my family got sick of me asking them to lug boxes around or to take another stack of papers to the recycle bin or “Can you read this thing that I wrote a decade ago that I can’t quite make out?” In the end, I counted 76 used notebooks and planners, plus two giant 3 inch binders full of loose-leaf paper and page upon page of stuff written on the backside of something else.
Summer band started a month ago and I’ve spent all of my time either taking two kids back and forth and back again between high school and college campuses for band practices and student orientations or in doctor’s offices letting them take yet more of my blood or more pictures of inconceivable places inside my body.
Now everyone’s back to school. My youngest started his sophomore year in high school last Monday and I thought to myself “Oh, I’ll get so much done!” But our black cat had other plans. I ended up taking him back and forth to the regular vet and then the emergency vet and then his regular vet again. Once he was better, my youngest slipped on the band field and had to go to Urgent Care for a sprained ankle. So this very wet Monday morning my midkid started his freshman year of college, but I was walking my youngest into school, carrying his enormous amounts of stuff while he swung in on crutches. My eldest took the midkid to his first day of college. I did get a “first day of college” selfie via text, so there’s that.
After that, I had nearly four hours to myself. I checked in with my Accountability Partner, and then I got to work. I made myself a more reasonable schedule of writing and writing related work (for those non-writers among us: finding short story and poetry markets, matching already written work to those submission guidelines, editing those pieces to fit word counts or to play up a theme, then writing cover letters and packaging my work so I can send them off, communicating with publishers and/or editors, doing edits for the places that bought my work, looking over proofs before things go to print, making images for new things and updating my webpage – hahaha – and my social media with images and links to the new books that have my work in them, etc.). I put everything into my Google calendar and Tasks list, but also wrote them into my paper planner, which helps me remember things better than the online stuff does (but the online versions keep me from getting too paranoid about losing a planner again, like what happened 5 years ago).
All of the planning now out of the way, I can get started with the first goal on my list: make a list of markets currently buying the kinds of stories I write. Off I go!
I also worked out weekly goals for the last six weeks of this quarter and all of the final quarter of the year. I’m hoping that I added in enough rest and recuperative time. I basically doubled the amount of time that I gave myself for similar things last year. We’ll see how that goes.
We have finally come to a stopping point. The midkid’s room and the youngest kid’s room are both finally painted and set up. I am having some ongoing health issues, so we chose not to repaint the space that’s become my office because I cannot handle the lingering paint fumes at the moment.
So while I’m not done, exactly, we’ve come to a bit of a standstill. Here’s a sneak peak of the space so far.
The room is currently furnished with things found around the house. The twin sized bed is staying in case we have overnight guests (it will be replaced with a wire framed trundle bed soon). I have a different tall bookcase that I may be picking up this weekend (or maybe not – one of my kids just got diagnosed with Covid) to replace the big one in the room.
I have a plan to take out one of the closet shelves so there is more light shining on the desk. That’s my project desk, which I can leave things out on and just close the curtains on if I am having people over.
I’m so excited about this little space. It’s been nearly two decades since I’ve had a room of my own to work in. I’m hoping it will up my productivity level in the days to come. 🙂
While waiting at the hairdresser, I read an alarming article this morning that claimed that my mechanical keyboard was putting me in danger of having my writing stolen. So naturally I had to go try out the software they said was so advanced that every sound of a touch on my keyboard could be tied to an exact letter.
The “sentence” I typed, which could only be lowercase and spaces, no other characters, was this: “the dark sky really looks bad she said altering the way she looked at the code on her phone”
There were seven pages of one sentence results and these were the closest ones:
1. “he see and i was the of little and the soon of the their press alreally in there water inter been a ”
2. “h walls none and streemed iioie hthe latter anhere in the that and the see this worth they really o”
3. ” c s of there and and looked to ea and therent of it and i had feeling seen this the s and rho”
Whee! Needless to say, my fears have been allayed.
I don’t know if I mentioned my wacky word count project before or not, but I made a Google workbook that has a spreadsheet for every current writing project I’m working on, plus one for the blog, ETWG related writing, ODWG related writing, journaling, etc. It was insanely intricate and I nearly lost my mind making it, but it’s done and it’ll let me figure out my word count across all my projects in one glance of an Excel file, as long as I remember to update it every day. Which I totally will, right? *dies laughing* In any case, this weeks word count was a palty 954, mostly because I spent all that time making the workbook. Here’s to hoping next week’s word count is better!
Last year was a kind of a banner year for me because I finally took charge of my very large folder full of unpublished writing and started submitting my work various places. I’d never done it before and it was hard and scary to get over just the fear factor of it all. The banner part came because publishers started accepting my works.
This morning I head back from the Boy Mom anthology people, who accepted my memoir-style essay about raising my boys sometime last fall. They revealed the cover and told us that it will be going out for sale in time for Mother’s Day!
I’ll let y’all know when I know more, of course. But for now, rejoicing! 🙂
“The Overachiever of Illness.” That’s what the ER doctor called me two weeks ago when I went in, unable to breathe. Turns out that not only did I have Covid, but also bronchitis and Flu B. I’ve been mostly in bed ever since.
Am I really sick?! Yeah. I’m sick.
Fortunately, I have long been a person who forgets to pack pajamas on trips, so I have a full drawer of them. I have a solid week’s worth at this point, from lightweight beach themed summer wear to heavy duty pink snowflakes, and everything in between. I can change into new pajamas every day! It’s been great. (A kids friend said she aspires to that lifestyle and I laughed too hard.)
I’m not going regale you with all my temps and oxygen levels and liquid intake and literally nineteen new medicines (the real literal, not the fake one) and all that because it is so very boring, even to me. Just know that I’ve been checking levels every hour or so for two and a half weeks now.
So to keep myself entertained in between taking down data for nurses, I’ve been in bed reading and watching movies and catching up on Netflix series. Here’s what I’ve been up to….
I finished all the Practical Magic books, which were lovely, as expected. A bit more repetitive than I’d hoped, but that’s what I get for reading them back to back to back. It was good to see the whole story from beginning to end like that and really take in the whole of the way the curse changed the family as time went on and how each generation dealt with it in unexpected ways.
Then I read a new book by Freya Marske called “A Marvellous Light” that I loved so much that I immediately tried to buy the sequel to, only to be told that it was pre-order only until November and I’m dying over it. I really need the next one because this gentle Victorianish man romance/mystery/magical thing is my jam, apparently. Who knew? Steph. She always knows what I need to read.
So now what I’m reading is “Dear Writer, You Need to Quit,” a title which cracks me up. One of my writing groups suggested it as something I needed because I’m always needing to quit things and sometimes I don’t choose the best things to quit.
“Unicorn Store” was the first one I started. It took me forever because I couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes before I was overwrought. I don’t know why. It was just too cute and embarrassing, but I couldn’t not watch it, either, so I watched it in 10 minute spurts.
One day the kids were horrified to realize that I had never watched “Ponyo” all the way through, not even once, given that they had each watched it approximately 95,000 throughout their childhoods. So we watched that. It was really good and now I know what Ree’s t-shirt means. Ponyo Loves Ham!
Like everyone else on the planet, I couldn’t get “We Don’t Talk About Bruno, No, No” out of my head, so I watched “Encanto” multiple times until I could sing all the songs. When I feel better I will learn the dances and then my children will be really embarrassed. It will be great!
I thought I’d seen “Cloud Atlas” before, but apparently only the same few sections a couple times, so I watched it all the way through and it was more violent than I’d expected, but I liked it and I’m still thinking about it in that way that you do with weird movies like this.
I’d started watching “Locke & Key” with Greg when Season One came along and we both loved it. By the time we got to Season Two, Greg thought it had gone off kilter and “too relationshippy” and he didn’t want to watch any more, so I finished this off while he was at school.
Greg and I also would watch “Good Witch” together, which we’ve been watching since practically before he was born at this point (TV movies first, of course, then the show). He stopped watching at the beginning of this season because he hated the new intro and wanted Grace and Nick back in the story. So I’ve watched this last season alone and I don’t know if it’s the missing Grace and Nick, the missing Greg, or the missing soul of the show, but this season was just not what I wanted. Taking the emphasis off of helping others and putting it all into minding their own magic threw me off and I was just glad that it ended, I guess, because it was breaking my heart going on the way it was going.
So then I got on the bandwagon and started watching “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window” because a) Kristen Bell and b) the title is hilarious. But the show? Not so hilarious. Slow. Suddenly sexy. Slow. Slow. Huh? Slow. Slow. Oh wait, what??? Slow. Suddenly sexy. Confusing. Suddenly violent. Is it over yet? Maybe? I hope so. But wait, maybe not. I don’t know, y’all. I watched it all day long and now that it’s over, I just wish I’d used my time better that day.
After that we had snow days and the kids and spouse were home to entertain me, so I stopped doing anything that wasn’t staring at their faces, unless it was staring at the Olympics. Figure Skating is my favorite. I could watch that for hours.
In any case, I hope you never, ever become the “Overachiever of Illness” because it’s terrible. But I hope if you do, you have friends to help you along and access to all the books, movies, and series your heart desires. 🙂
I’ve been working hard to get my writing business set up this week, since I have several pieces coming out later this year: a time travel story in a multi-genre beach themed anthology, a memoir-style essay in an anthology about parenting, and a couple poems in a literary journal. Today’s set-up involves getting my mailing list started. So, if you are interested in keeping up to date on where to find all my publications and to get a free short story, please visit this page: Lisa’s Literary Landings
2022 definitely started off with a bang for my family.
It hasn’t stopped moving since. January first was technically a “rest” day from writing for me, but because we were hosting our Board Game Extravaganza on the second, January first was all about cleaning and setting up my dad’s Tyler house for the party.
So January second came and only one party guest arrived. We usually have around 50 people at this event, but a) Covid sucks (so many people were exposed the week before), and b) cold weather sucks (I am not leaving my warm house for you), and c) (the most entertaining response) an owl attacked some chickens. But still, we played a bunch of games with our new friend, who asked when we were doing this again.
January third was a blur of me trying to do all the things that had been piling up, undone, in December. Imagine me whirling around with laundry, binders, notecards, glasses, and eyeglasses in hand while pushing a shopping cart loaded with cleaning supplies and you get the general idea. No writing occurred, but much planning and tidying at my own home. Plus leading my first East Texas Writers Guild Board of Directors meeting as President of the Guild.
Today I am working on typing up note from last nights meeting, writing scenes 2-5 in Chapter 11 of Caro’s Quest, and booking a photographer for my headshots for the UtNC Anthology.
Off I go! Hope y’all had a happy start to your new year.