Sunday, July 27, 2014

Time To Chill...

For this months collaboration blog Shannon Barczak and I discussed starting over,in terms of creating a new project after the completion of our trilogies.  For me however the theme of starting over applies to more than just writing, I am also in the process of starting a new career.

I have always loved looking at houses and sales is something that I really enjoy so the idea to become a real estate agent seemed like a no brainer however choosing to take this task on when I was in the midst of releasing the second book in my trilogy and finishing writing the final installment of Harlow Whittaker, while also teaching a  summer course to high school students, and raising my two kids and a dog, and serving on the school board for a k-8 charter school may not have been the best timing.  

I know that life is full of mess and I believe that sleep is overrated but I have finally hit a wall, I am done. My body and mind are both permanently in a daze and the glazed over look that my eyes have adopted along with their matching bags that rest beneath them are not a good look for me.  

I am planning on taking the next week or so "off."  Which means that rather than study real estate law in between giving my kids a bath, doing the dishes, and baking for the following day, while also grading papers and contemplating the following weeks lessons plans, I will remove the real estate part.  I know that doesn't sound like much of a break but I think it's the down time that my mind needs without going into complete atrophy.  We all know our limits and I think this fire has just one too many irons in it currently.   

I still plan on getting my real estate license by next month but I am now realizing that life is a marathon not a sprint so seven days of R& R (well my overachieving version of it anyway) will not ruin anything, actually the contrary is true, 7 days of no studying and practice tests may actually mean the difference between success and failure.  If I continued on this non stop track I'm sure it would end up with me in falling flat on my face, mumbling in coherently...(I was very close to that point Friday afternoon actually).

My Realizations of The Week:

  • Relaxation is not weakness but necessary, just like sleep.
  • Admitting you have limits is a sign of growth.  Sometimes you need a day of PJ's and Phineas & Ferb.
  • Your kids are profoundly smart (& know you better than you know yourself) and when they look at you and tell you, you need a nap, probably best to just listen.
  • People do not always listen, so don't count on your messages being delivered, they hear what they want to hear.
  • Be kind to your true friends because they are few and far between, always appreciate them.  Very few people will see you for who you are and stand by in spite of it.  So don't don't them for granted.
  • Failure is not the worst thing, don't allow your failures to define you, focus on your success.
  • Life is short.

Have a Good Week!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

SXSW July Collaboration: Starting a New Book When You Loved Your Trilogy

This month Shannon Barczak and I decided to write about starting over. With both of our trilogies completed we have each begun writing new projects. We each have different experiences with this and we wanted to share it with you all.  

This is the first book that I have written that does not begin with Harlow Whittaker &

And to be perfectly honest it is rather refreshing. To be able to bury myself inside of another world, with a whole other list of characters has been my salvation in a way.  Last time we discussed saying goodbye and how hard it was to end our respective trilogies, well bear with me as I try and explain the other side of that.  

Writing has always been my escape and since currently my life is filled with a series of new beginnings, change, although the only constant in life, can also be very scary, even when it's for the better.  Having a new project, something to distract me, that demands my full attention is a tremendous gift.

Ideas for this book, which is a sci-fi alien invasion novel, started seeping into my mind before I started writing the final installment in my YA Trilogy and I would jot down notes like, character names or simple plot ideas and when I did finally sit down to start writing I had notes inside of various magazines, backs of receipts and a worn out yellow spiral notebook that I keep next to my bed in case I get an idea first thing in the morning (or I just have an obnoxious/nocturnal character that keeps me up all night). And I try and string all the notes together-they serve as plot points and I fill in all the story.
It may not be the most organized or even coherent way to do it but it's my process.  And somehow I decipher my rushed handwriting and incorporate it all until it's one cohesive story that I then let sit for a few months before I read it and edit it for the first time.  I think the trick is to do what works for you no matter how 'crazy' it may sound to the rest of us, as long as the work get's done right?

Surprisingly starting a new project wasn't necessarily difficult instead it was more like a friend that helped me to cope with the ending of my trilogy. Writing my new book helped me to move forward from my other characters.  It proved to me that once again books were my comfort and my therapy. 

Read on for Shannon Barczak's Tips and Tricks to Moving Forward...

I have to be honest; it really did take me awhile to get excited to begin writing again. I was still so wrapped up in The Skye Trilogy that I had a hard time saying goodbye, but now that the time has come to publish my third book, Isle of Dawn, I am feeling the proverbial  butterflies in my stomach.
Before I even begin to write I always buy a fresh notebook and sit-down to outline my book. I start off with writing the characters, where the book is going to take place and a short plot summary. I then delve a little deeper with an outline of the book as a whole. I think it is important to get those details done first so you can have them for a reference later as you are writing.
The next thing I do is the chapter outlines. Now, I don’t always follow them religiously but I do like to keep them in my rearview mirror as much as possible. Usually when I hit the middle of a book I go back over them and adjust my former vision to fit where I’m now at in the writing process.
Then it’s time to daydream. Yes, I said daydream folks. I like to sit and write the book out in my head for a few weeks. I think it’s of the utmost importance to see the story in your head before you start writing. I know it sounds a little weird but trust me when I say that I would much rather have a clearer picture of my characters and my story before I begin writing.
Lastly, it’s time for the real deal. No more notes, no more daydreams, and no more talking. The first chapter is the hardest chapter to write. Period. End of story. Class is dismissed. To be honest, the first page is really the killer. You want to establish the entire book and the direction it is headed right away or else your readers will say sayonara, so long, see you later, I would rather be sleeping than reading this crap.
No pressure or anything.
When you finish writing the first chapter of your book, it’s like; a giant weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You did it; you started a book. Yes, there’s a lot more work ahead of you but live in the moment, forget about the past, and be hopeful of the future.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to follow my own advice and start writing! My next series will be called The Fae Witch Series, and it will be a spin-off The Skye Trilogy. I’m hoping for the first book, The Cursed Charm, to be published in February… That is, if I ever get past writing the first chapter!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Life is Full of Mess

You may have noticed that I have been slacking in my internet presence a bit and that is due to that fact that summer is always a maddening time for me.  There seems to be a never ending amount of lists that dictate my life during the summer months. I've mentioned before how my life is on a nine month schedule because I am a part-type faculty member at a community college/stay-at-home-parent (where life is centered around your kid's school year).  I get long winter breaks and three moths off for summer vacation the perfect combo except that I cram those three months with enormous tasks.  I don't know what it is, perhaps my industrious Virgo roots, but I crave achievement.

My passion for education has led to me rejoining the school board of a local charter school.  When I interviewed, the members described it as full-time job without the pay, and for some reason I said, "I'm all in."  Nevermind that I am writing and publishing a trilogy or raising two kids and a dog.

Then I decided to teach a summer class, so all the things I had planned to accomplish over three months I would now only have one and half months to complete.  Did I mention that I am studying for my real estate exam because I love the law, and finding someone a  home? Also something about interest rates and the word easement just intrigues me.  This goes back to my obsession with education in all aspects.  If there's a way for me to learn something new, whether a skill, certification, fun fact, unique theory, I'm hooked.  

People think I am crazy and perhaps they are right, I just keep thinking about how when I was a teenager, how my friends and I would always joke about how we could sleep when we were dead, and that has somehow continued to be my mantra, even though I have two kids and dog and a husband and and and, but for some reason I'm still going.

But last week I hit a road block, there was a perfect storm of chaos, a trifecta of terrors that just slowed me down. Everything came at me at once and I was reminded that I'm human and that my mom and my best friend are oddly similar, and that my father and my husband are completely different with strange similarities that show themselves once in a blue moon, each time it throws me for a loop and reminds me that as full of madness as life sometimes is there are levels of familiarity in all of it that reveal a connection. And that I find comforting.  

Or maybe it's that we cling to the familiar.   Even someone like me, someone that declares themselves a 'jumper.' (Person that jumps first asks questions later, i.e. risk taker, sensation seeker) seeks what they know, their comfort level, when things get rocky.  It's always nice to be surrounded by people that know you, that have known you, to remind you of who you are, and what you're capable of.  Those things keep me grounded during times of extreme change, times of self-propulsion, when you're pushing yourself to your limits, testing your abilities.  Perhaps this isn't worthy of the title epiphany perhaps it's something that I just needed to say out-loud because being thankful for your family/friends/people always bears repeating.