It’s Good to Have a Group

Before I started seriously pursuing a writing career (translation: actively crafting specific stories with the aim of publication, instead of just puttering around on various projects), I was operating in something of a vacuum.

I was lucky to find an online community or two, and then sort of by chance I discovered that there was a local RWA chapter practically in my backyard. Honestly, if not for the support, guidance, and general cheerleading by the wonderful people who make up the Central New York Romance Writers, I may never have heard of Soul Mate Publishing, let alone mustered the guts to actually SUBMIT something.

After moving to North Carolina, I reentered the vacuum again, so to speak. My local chapter wasn’t local to me anymore, and I sharply felt the lack of community that comes from being part of a writer’s group. When we first moved, I was way too consumed with juggling life in a new place, stay at home mommyhood, then the rapid return to work and becoming a working mom, to manage much more than my own writing time.

I desperately missed being around other writers, talking about writerly things. Then finally, FINALLY, thing settled down, and I have once again found a community. This past weekend, I officially joined the Carolina Romance Writers, and I’m so thrilled to have a local chapter to call my own once more.

You see, writing, by nature, tends to be a solitary pursuit. Authors spend the majority of their free time having conversations with imaginary people, after all.

And sometimes it feels like you’re doing this thing, this great big thing that is so much of yourself, and you’re doing it all alone.

Except we’re not.

startup-593344_1920

No matter what you write, there are communities out there for you. Some are connected to national (or international organizations) like RWA. Some operate as critique groups. Others operate simply as meetups for local writers who want to get together and, well, be around other writers. Finding and joining these communities gives you a sense of belonging, that you aren’t just writing in a little bubble of your own.

There are others like you. And they’ll support you. You’ll support them.

The actual act of writing will never cease to be a solitary pursuit in some manner. But writer’s groups and communities give a definite sense of belonging.

Maybe it’s because we all are sitting there, having conversations with imaginary people.

Romance Writers Gone Wild

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be participating in Romance Writers Gone Wild, a week-long Facebook event that will spotlight 130+ romance authors in genres ranging from contemporary to historical to paranormal and suspense (and just about everything in between).

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The event runs November 14th-November 18th. In addition to finding some great new authors, readers have the chance to enter to win a slew of great prizes including:

  • Gift Cards to iTunes, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon
  • A variety of book related prizes given away by authors themselves (think ebooks and print books!)
  • And one grand prize winner will walk away with a Kindle Paperwhite (to read all those new ebooks on, of course)

The Facebook event page is open and anyone can join the party! The week before the event, authors will begin introducing themselves, so be sure to check everyone out.

Off to Camp – Camp NaNoWriMo, That Is

Way back in the early 2000s, I attempted NaNoWriMo a couple times. I didn’t get far. November is sort of a sucky month for teachers to attempt a 50k word draft.

Then in 2012, I decided to try tacking JulNoWriMo. The result was the first three-quarters of the manuscript that, eventually, became my upcoming chick lit romance, BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE (which should be out this September if all goes as scheduled – more about that in the coming weeks). I gave the July version of this writing challenge another go in 2013, which resulted in the first half of a post-Civil War historical romance that, hopefully, will see the light of day now that I’ve pulled it out of First Draft Limbo.

Anyhoo, a few years ago the folks who run NaNoWriMo started holding these Camp NaNoWriMo events in April and July. Given that I have 3 more books planned to follow BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE, I thought it might be a good idea to try drafting the next installment this July.

It’ll be messy, but it’ll be a starting point.

So tomorrow I’m off to Camp!

Writing with a Newborn – Ha!

“Babies sleep most of the time.”

HA!

My daughter (let’s call her Babycakes, as that was her nickname before she was born and we were keeping her name top secret), is five weeks old today. (Holy crap, already?) It’s been an interesting few weeks. She’s a very good baby, really doesn’t fuss much unless she’s hungry, outside of her “fussy time” of course. And she sleeps like a champ at night. We’re already getting 4-5 hour stretches, and Monday, by some miracle, she slept almost 6 and 1/2 hours straight.

During the day? Not so much.

I figured we’d have a little bit of a writing hiatus until she was on a feeding and napping schedule, and I wasn’t bone tired and in need of naps myself. But then I’d be able to use those long naps babies are suppose to take to get some good writing done, both on my fiction as well as a few freelance jobs (I started freelancing part time just before Babycakes was born).

She did not get the memo, apparently. She sleeps for twenty minutes at a time, if that, unless she’s being held or worn in the Mobywrap. It’s just enough time to attend to Nature’s Call and stuff a sandwich in my mouth.

Don’t get me wrong. I love snuggling her. It’s hard to set her down (now even more so because I know she’ll wake up within minutes, wanting to be held). Yes, it is developmentally appropriate for a newborn to want that snuggly security, especially since I’m also acting as a 24/7 restaurant, and she gets very insistent when the service is slow. And the fact that she doesn’t really nap well during the day probably contributes to her sleeping so well at night already. Getting solid chunks of sleep at night has probably really helped me recover from the c-section I ended up needing after 12 hours of labor.

But, oh, to have her napping 2-3 hour stretches twice a day, rather than 5-6 twenty to forty-five minute catnaps! As rested as I feel in the morning, I’m fried by the time the hubs gets home from work. Thank God my mother has been able to come over every day to help with laundry and cleaning and occupying Babycakes so I can get a physical break a little earlier in the day than 5:oo.

So not so much with the writing yet. I’ve read and been told that, eventually, her sleep habits will mature and she will not only sleep through the night (meaning 7-8 hours before waking to eat), but she’ll settle into at least one longer nap during the day. So there’s hope.

That said, I have already informed the hubs that my September BIAW goal  for next week is to finish chapter 27 of the historical romance, and it’s going to require some uninterrupted time in the evenings while he’s home and can entertain Babycakes. I’ll even take a half hour if I can get it. No word count goal or anything. Just finish the chapter I started before she was born.

Crawling out from under my rock…

It’s been almost a month since I last posted anything, and while there are tons of great ideas fluttering around in my head, I haven’t had the time or wherewithal to focus on any one thing lately.  This week’s news of the bombing of the Boston Marathon just put the cap on productivity for the week.

I’ve had a definite lack of overall motivation for about three and a half weeks now.  I was feeling pretty down in the dumps during the last week of March, plus was swamped with report cards, but then had an awesome vacation to Arizona and Vegas with the hubs.  Pictures and tidbits are forth coming, as soon as I finish sorting through the 1000+ pictures we took (we had too much fun with our SLR camera). Then came parent conferences, and this week I had my formal observation.  I think it went well, at least.

And last weekend, I went to my very first ever writer’s retreat!

It was hosted by one of the members of CNYRW, and it was beyond amazing and fun.  Besides writing over 6k words on the CLR, I enjoyed several delicious meals, a murder mystery dinner game, a couple goal setting/reporting sessions, and tons of belly-busting laughter.  My beautiful room, the “Daffodil Hill” room, was in the part of the house that was built in 1809.

HISTORY!!!!

And you will have to excuse me for bragging a little.  When my wonderful hostess gave us a tour of the house, she also shared with me the gun that she and her husband found in the rafters of the attic when they bought the house.  I was able to find the company stamp (William Moore & Co., which seems to have been in business from 1854-1872-ish). It was a double-barrel muzzle loading percussion shotgun, very rusted.  I tried to find a stamp that might point to a date of manufacture or a location, which would help with further searching.  However, since there was no action to open the breech, and a spot where a ramrod would have been stored, I stand by my conclusion that it was a muzzle loader and likely was manufactured around the time of the Civil War or shortly beforehand.  I suspect this solely on the (slightly over researched) knowledge that breech-loading technology first started being perfected in the years just before the Civil War, though it was mostly seen in sporting rifles, not mass produced until midway through the war. By the end of the Civil War and into the Wild West era, so often portrayed in movies, the breech-loading shotgun and rifle were commonplace and preferred.

So, anyway. Yeah. It was awesome. I got to geek out a little with the Civil War era weaponry knowledge I’ve garnered in my pursuit of historical accuracy.

Plus, you know, the writing.

I’m looking forward to attending another retreat with the wonderful CNYRW authors.  Heck, I’d love to go to any writer’s retreat again!

Motivated, but no energy

I got this brilliant (okay, maybe I’m the only one who’ll think it’s brilliant) idea for a short-ish story about, oh a month ago. And I even set myself a deadline – because we all know how I am about deadlines.  I outlined about half of the story, though the other half is pretty well complete in my head, wrote the first scene…

And then sat on it till, oh, Sunday night.

Why is this bad?  Because the deadline I set for myself is October 13th.  Which is this Saturday.  Why?  Because there’s a bit of a contest/submission call-out I want to enter, and the deadline for submissions is October 15th.  So I’ve been furiously typing away for the past two days, determined to finish because my writing software says I’ll make it if I can hammer out about 4000 words each day.

No problem right?

Well, slight one.

See, I would totally have chalked this one up to the “oh crap I didn’t plan my time well at all” thing, as normally I spend 6+ hours a day teaching a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds how to, you know, read and stuff.

But then I had to have surgery on Monday – minor, everything’s good – and needed to take at least two days off work to properly set myself on the road to being mended.  And I thought, “Hey, I can get a lot of writing done!”

Well, yeah… About that…

Being semi-supine on the couch for two days (actually three, since I’m not quite feeling up to wrangling the second graders tomorrow) would contribute to a lot of word count bad-assery. At least, one would think so.  But though I’ve got this killer idea and lots of motivation to make it happen,  it turns out that even having minor surgery makes one tired, unable to focus, and

SQUIRREL!!!!

on the internet.

I shouldn’t complain too much.  Looks like I’ll be better enough to make it into work on Friday, and my word count stands at around 6500, which, according to my software’s calculations, is about a third of the 20k words I’m aiming for. So I guess we have to see what happens.

Insomnia

It’s 1:06 am, Eastern standard time.  I wish I was sleeping.  But I’m not.  Probably because I slept for ten and a half hours last night.

I totally deserved it. I’ve spent the last four days preparing cookies and pies for a friend’s wedding, plus had to work two six-hour days doing professional development (looking at student test scores from last school year, analyzing gaps, getting a feel for my incoming class, and discussing the NYS Core Curriculum and upcoming student learning objectives training).

I have been making some small headway on my writing, though.  I’ve managed to do some revisions and editing on part one of the “magnum opus” and have a query letter I finally think I’m almost comfortable enough to send out.  Plus I’ve been puttering away on my chick lit novella, and have outlined a couple short story ideas.

Two weeks until school starts.  I can’t believe how fast the summer went by.