The fact that it is already summer break just astounds me. It feels like it was only yesterday that it was Mother’s Day.
May went by in a flurry of tornado warnings, band concerts and banquets, color guard contests, kids’ auditions or testing for various activities, and all the sayings of “goodbye” to people and places we’ve loved spending time with.
I started helping out the worship team at my local UU church, both developing services and speaking during services. I also agreed to serve as vice president of the church board next year.
My eldest child acquired a car, passing his old one to his younger brother, who just started driving solo, and just like that *snap* life changed overnight. I no longer have to drive anyone anywhere unless there’s an emergency.
I spent a couple weeks preparing for a speaking engagement for the Open Door Writing Group at the Tyler Public Library about writing lyrically. I read or re-read so many books on writing poetry. Two didn’t arrive on time, so I still have those to look forward to.
Unfortunately, all that activity sent my diseases into overdrive. I got a sinus infection, then my joints flared up and I spent the last half of the month in too much pain to think, let alone set down words. It took me an entire month to finish a short story that I’d had outlined and ready to go. *sigh*
Last week my father was in town, so we spent time indulging in watching “Only Murders in the Building” (while I did cross stitch, since my hands had finally returned to normal) and taking time to look over his house here and make lists of future maintenance needs.
He went back to his primary residence yesterday afternoon and now I am back at my writing desk today, updating all the social media things, preparing for my two speaking engagements that are coming up later this month, and trying to sneak in a few new words in my next novel. Hope all of y’all are having a wonderful start to your summer! Let me know in the comments if you plan to join me at any of my events this month.
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.
When I set out to change up how I blog this last year, I’d figured on blogging every two weeks, on my church’s off weeks, but the time in between goes so fast and is stuffed with so many things that I often arrive at my computer and am completely overwhelmed about what to post and what to keep private. Being a more professional writer has been such a learning curve!
Since I last wrote here, there’ve been a couple winter guard performances for my youngest kid, which I chaperoned, my midkid learned how to make pancakes (in a few hilarious attempts, which he live-texted me about), Indy has gotten incomprehensibly larger, I rearranged my fridge to be more ADHD friendly (veggies in the door so we can see them), and I attended the East Texas Book Fest!
I had a fantastic time! I sat in a little corner where most of the writers were from my local writers group, so I had support, advice, and fun. Everyone that came to my table was encouraging, and I both sold a book and got invited to speak at a library in a nearby town as well. Such a great experience!
After slogging blearily through the end of 2022, I’m jazzed about all the new things coming in 2023! Today is the first day back at my writing desk and I’m sitting with my beautiful new Passion Planner and plotting out a schedule for all the stories I plan to write and penciling in all the submission deadlines for when to send them out and dates for the conferences and writing retreats I plan on attending this year. I’m all aquiver with excitement.
Tomorrow I have my first speaking engagement of the year at the Tyler Public Library. I’ll be talking about goal setting for writers at the Open Door Writing Group. I’ve already planned out all my topics for that group for the year, actually, so if you want to know when to find me there and what I’m speaking about, head over to my new Calendar page and you’ll find all that information (and more!) there.
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. 🙂
I honestly wasn’t expecting all the pieces I sold last year to come out all in the same week. They originally had publication dates that gave me a few weeks of breathing room in between each one, but one came out later and another one sooner and BAM, here they all are. So thank you for being patient with all my posts being about these books for sale. And thank you for supporting me and my writing for so long. Y’all are the best!
Now on to the books. One came out earlier last week and one came out today and the last one will be out tomorrow, but I was just too excited to wait. Here are links for the first two, along with a little description of what to expect from my piece in each book:
This book has my poem “Last Family Vacation” on page 116, which is a peek into the heart of a mom with a kid in his senior year of high school. 🙂
This book has my essay “Revealing Rainbows” on page 74, which is a more in depth personal look at encouraging not just my sons to be themselves, but all the other boys they know as well.
I am so excited to announce that my first published short story is available as of today as a pre-order. You can click the link above to order from any of those fine establishments right now. Seeing the book here was really nice and pretty and I clicked each one of those links to see the book in each of the stores, because I’m extra like that.
This is the image that made me cry. I have been shelving books I read into Goodreads for 15 years now. Read a book, shelve it. Read a book, shelve it. All this time I’ve been scribbling away all these little stories of my own in the background, but I was too scared to do anything with them. Last year I decided that I wasn’t going to hide my words any more. And now one of my stories is there on Goodreads. Goodreads! I’m crying again, y’all. It is a wonderful feeling.
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! 🙂