Friday, August 31, 2012

It's Awesome Time!

Four months ago, I had a wonderful opportunity to pitch my manuscript and another Work in Progress to an editorial assistant at a publishing house (I don't know if it's kosher to name drop on your blog, so I won't) and had such a great experience. This wonderful person's eyes lit up as I shared my stories and my vision for the stories. She asked all sorts of questions, including the hard ones, and I felt that we connected, that she "got" my ideas. And she requested a full manuscript.

Ah! I was in heaven! I was in alt!

But, I was sure there was something I overlooked. I asked if I could just polish it up, and she graciously agreed.

So I decided to do things right. I sent it to a freelance editor who read through the thing. She made some very good suggestions and mentioned a few other things. 
Then I was able to get some critiques through Kat Bauer's 'Crits for Water'. Very helpful and informative. Wow! I learned so much! 
Then finally, I had my query critiqued in an online contest. After lots of rewrites of THAT, I won first place, which entitled me to the prize of a(nother) critique, this time specifically for the opening of my novel.

When that critique came back, I finally had my 'Aha!' moment. 
Some of the advice that I had gotten seemed a little nit-picky and I didn't really get it. The last critique spelled out in language I understood..."This doesn't work because...This grammar rule means..."

Oh dang!

It was everywhere folks! I felt a little overwhelmed.
The whole manuscript needed line-by-line edits.
Love this quote
So, I wrote to the person at the publishing house and told her it would be longer than I had expected. She was gracious in her reply. And I got to work.
I did a lot of work. I did a lot of learning. 
And I was so grateful that I still had all the notes of the critiques over the past several months. Suddenly it seemed so clear what I hadn't seen before. I fixed the grammar problems (and kept a few that were 'right' in the dialogue). 
Whenever my husband wasn't at the computer, I was there, working on my "word problems".
My kids complained that they hardly got any computer time this past summer vacation. Nope, they didn't. Sorry, kids!

Oh, and the house wasn't nearly as clean as it erm...should be.
Worth remembering everyday ...especially today!
Sorry, honey!

Through it all, I sought for balance in trying not to neglect (totally) the house, the kids, my husband, the necessary things like regular meals and fun together. (Hey, it was summer vacation...and the kids get whiny when they haven't gone swimming at the neighborhood pool in a week.) 

Finally, towards the end of summer, I actually felt like I juggled things pretty well. (Not perfect, but good enough!) It helped that I started including my book in my prayers. Sounds weird, perhaps, to some.
 But prayer is a daily part of my life. And if this is something that brings me so much joy, and I can create something lovely and fun and uplifting, why would God not want to be a part of it? 
And why would I not ask for his help?  


So finally, all the pieces started coming together. Right about the time the kids started school two weeks ago. Funny how that happened.... ;)

So today, I sent an email to the wonderful person in publishing, letting her know that the manuscript is coming. Will be in the mail next week. Revisions are done. I just need one more pass at the beginning and the end to make sure the tweaks I made last night were not some figment of my sleep-deprived mind. 
(Ha really!)

So, even though I know that the next stage of the game is full of query letters and rejection letters and soaring hopes and crashing dreams. I am not afraid. Or not very.
Dream big

So fasten your seat belts, folks. 

This will totally go in my home office or studio someday. $15
It's AWESOME time!

Monday, August 27, 2012

B-e-a-utiful- Megan Nicole (Original Song)

 have to apologize for not being on Blogger for ... a month!!! Eep! 

I have really great excuses like a fabulous family vacation/reunion that was a thousand miles away (resulting in huge road trip with 5 little boys) and the resulting need to re-cup-er-ate!

And then I had one week to get all the stuff for said boys for school. Then there was the first week of school and  trying to get to all the stuff I hadn't done for nearly a month.

And now finally I get to My Blog! Yay!

I have some great posts planned. But I've been trying to get a Very Important Project done and sent off. And I am a-l-m-o-s-t there.

But I stumbled upon this lovely, lovely song that is so sweet and cute and I just had to share.

My target audience for my writing is female teens (and anyone else who loves YA romance/adventure). And I remember feeling just this way in high school. About a couple of boys. And nothing ever came of it. But the feeling of wanting to feel beautiful and noticed never goes away. At least not for me.

I love it when my husband tells me I'm beautiful or makes me feel beautiful
and precious
and special
and amazing
and awesome.

But before I got married (and even since - I admit) I turned to books to help me feel beautiful and amazing. Just to go through the heroine's experience vicariously made me feel all those wonderful emotions.

And as I am finishing my Very Important Project, I want to remember those feelings and I want my words, my writing  to evoke those emotions.

Because we all want to be B-E-A-UTIFUL!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Remaining Faithful to Your Art

I am officially back from vacation. It was awesome, exhausting, wonderful, difficult and absolutely memorable. I'll probably be sharing some stories over the next few weeks. But, for today, I'm going to remain positive.

Part of our trip, we went to Yellowstone National Park and we got to see Old Faithful. We got there right after one eruption and had to hang out for a while before the next one (a very long hour and ten minutes with whiney kids in the hot sun). But we wandered near a park ranger that was giving an impromptu lecture about Old Faithful to a group of older tourists. I already knew lots of the stuff she was talking about because...well, I'm awesome and smart and married to a man who studied Geophysics for three years. 

But, I stuck around so the kids could get some info.

And because I'm a geek and the ranger was a really good story teller. She related cold (or hot) facts in such a palatable way. It was so easy to understand.

Anyway, in part of the lecture, she explained WHY Old Faithful was, well...Faithful.

Now, you can't really set your watch by it. But, it is pretty reliable. And the park rangers can predict within ten minutes when the next eruption will take place. Why is that, when so many other geysers go off whenever? Sometimes fifty years go by before they erupt again. 

The park ranger explained that when there was volcanic activity so many thousands of years ago, it resulted in a rock that was permeable (think pumice). Water from rain and snow melt and runoff leaks through the "spongy" rock and then collects in underground basins where it is super heated by the still active geothermals. Then, when it gets to a "boiling point", it escapes through vents to the surface through geysers. Now, all of the geysers and the hot springs in Yellowstone are all interconnected and share the same "plumbing system". So, if there is a low water table or more seismic activity, all of them are affected.

Except Old Faithful. 

Because somehow, in the eons of time, the area around Old Faithful was sealed off from the rest of the park, underground. It has it's own "plumbing system". So, it may be affected by drought or seismic activity, but  it has a smaller, self-contained basin. No matter what else is happening in the park, it remains reliable, on a schedule that remains pretty much the same. 


This got me thinking about art (and life in general). We need to create our own "plumbing system" for ourselves in life and for our art. We need to have a place, a pool of inspiration, that we consistently draw from and that is consistently renewed. This pool may be fed by inspirational quotes, scripture, music, beautiful photography or art, positive stories, good friends and mentors, and whatever else helps you keep going. It is key that one has multiple sources so that we don't "run dry" when one of our inspirations is unavailable or inaccessible (or just having a bad day). 

You may have a group of friends at church, an online web of support, a Pinterest file of quotes or art, a favorite playlist or Pandora station, pretty art on your wall, a scrapbook of happy memories or important people or photos of beautiful places you want to visit someday.

Whatever it may be, continually feed that pool of inspiration, so that you can continue to produce your art, your writing, and just be the awesome person that you truly are. And as we are consistent in our art and ourselves, others will gather around and stand in awe of the beauty that we produce.

Hard times may come. We may have delays or seasons of "drought". Perhaps our geysers of creativity may not be as magnificent or as high at times. Perhaps changes in our daily life or the needs of family members will demand an adjustment in our creative routines. But, we will still find beauty in the world around us and in our world within. We will continue forward, sharing the beauty that we are and that we imagine.