“Mommy, can you find this?”

I spend my days listening to “Mommy, can you find this?” Sometimes that is the exact phrase. This. With my son looking at me like I should know exactly what he is talking about. Ten minutes later, after many answerless questions, I have a vague idea. Sometimes.

The house is a mess of small toy parts in every room, wishing they were part of Woody’s crew from Toy Story and had a buddy. They are all afraid of being lost in a black hole for all eternity and mourn the loss of their fallen friends each time we talk about why shiny take and play Thomas is still MIA. (Personally I suspect he got smart and ran away, lucky bastard).

So the house is a mess, the kid refuses to clean, and the parents are too wiped of energy to care most days. To find anything is a search and rescue mission. Cue the suspense music. It requires a flashlight, night vision, a stick (thank you cat toys) to get under the couch, a crying kid, and a bottle of vodka.

Let me rephrase. This is what is required to attempt to find anything. The crying kid, complete with stomping feet, is what happens when the parents wave the white flag.

I am plotting my revenge. My son is currently an only child. Which means he will be responsible for me, alone, when I am old and cranky. I can picture it now:

Old me: I need you to find something for me.

Adult son: on the Internet (or whatever high speed information gadget that will be surgically implanted by then)?

Old me: No… In my room.

Adult son: Mom, I am not there right now.

Adult me: Then get over here and help.

Twenty minutes or so later, when he finally arrives, I will send him on a wild goose chase around the house. For an item I know exactly where to find.

He’ll think I’m suffering from dementia. I’ll know better.

Or I will have memory problems, and he’ll find this and call my bluff. I better have another child. As backup. Just in case.

Three Cheers for Rejection

Yes, you read that correctly, rejection can be a happy thing. Not right away, not at first, but if a rejection letter comes with personal feedback it can be a gold mine.

 

A few months back I entered a contest, and was pleasantly surprised to get a nibble from an agent. It had been a while since I’d queried and I felt the familiar rush of excitement and adrenaline. Essentially, a caffeine high without the caffeine.

 

Then the e-mail came. It was only a few days after I sent the query, so I expected a response about receiving my letter. Nope, it was a rejection letter. But it was my first personalized rejection letter.

 

At first my caffeine high turned into adrenaline junky that needed junk food, stat! Wind knocked out of my sails, shaky hands; I was a mess. Then I took a step back and took stalk. I had some nice words said about my plot and actual feedback on areas I needed to tackle.

 

When that still didn’t make me feel better I called my mother, who had read the novel. She talked me through the points and by the time we ended the conversation I was ready to roll up my sleeves and tackle another few rounds of editing.

 

At the end of the day I didn’t get a rejection, I got some great feedback that will help me revise and make my novel into the best work possible.

 

So to that agent, and any agent who has the ability to send some personalized feedback: thank you.

Caption This – An Overactive Writer’s Mind

As a working mother, and a writer, I’m not that interested in cleaning my home. No, let me rephrase that. I was NEVER really interested in cleaning, but now I always have something WAY more interesting to do. Add in a messy husband, kid who likes to leave toys out, and three cats and you can see why I don’t have people over often… At all… Same difference.

The other day I came upstairs to our loft/office/toy room/hairball collector/overall mess and stumbled across this site:

WP_20140219_003

Yes, those are two four foot teddy bears. The first I won at a work contest (who says an adult in her late twenties can’t get giddy over winning a giant teddy bear?), the second a family friend sent my son. To which I thought: “why, dear God why, we already have one and he doesn’t care? Where am I going to put the second one?” But then my inner kid squealed “teddy!” and all was lost.

The bears have been in a variety of locations, currently taking up the only seating in the loft. Add in the kid and cats and they ended up in the above contortion (and since no one cleans are still there).

My mind instantly raced ahead to those teen years and thought I have walked in on two partying bears, drunk/hung over and paying the price when I flip on the lights. So what lead them to this? Was it a wild raging party? Or was it merely just a release needed after being trampled on by a four-year-old?

The captions swam in my head:

“Ralph?”
“Yeah?”
“What happened last night?”
“You don’t remember?”
“No.”
“Oh…”

“Ralph?”
“Yeah?”
“What was in that drink?”
“No clue man. Look, the ceiling’s moving!”

“Ralph?”
“Yeah?”
“The kid’s coming back, isn’t he?”
“Probably.”
Ralph sobs uncontrollably.

As a side note, neither bear has been named Ralph. In fact, neither bear has a name. I’m a poor excuse for a stuffed animal lover.

What story do you see in these two?

Writing Changes With Age

I made a Facebook post on my personal page the previous week regarding my writing. This post was made in good humor, as I was cheering myself on for putting the last few lines on a WIP (Work In Process) that I was struggling with:

For months my latest novel has been thisclose to finished. I couldn’t end it. Tonight I finally got the last 100 words typed out. The missing link was threatening to neuter a human character (and now you’re all wondering what kind of messed up stuff I write…)

A day later I thought about this particular post, and my writing for my first book straight through this novel, which is my fourth completed draft. And I realized something: my writing at the age of twenty-one is different than thirty-two (want the math? I was born in ’81, and proud of it, but shh, don’t tell).

At twenty-one I was wholesome. Youthful eyes wide open and ready to tackle the wide world of adulthood. LILA’S CHOICE, in many ways represents this stage of my life. My first novel has a sweetness to it, an innocence to it. And even though I am now older than my characters, I can’t wipe that innocence from the novel. This is the way she’s meant to be.

My second novel, a sequel to LILA’S CHOICE currently titled (subject to change) CHOICE AND CONSEQUENCE, was written between the ages of twenty-three and thirty-two. Most of the novel penned while I was in editing hell and craving the thrill of a fresh, clean manuscript to write. Therefore it has that innocence preserved, but perhaps with a bit more of an age as life evolved around me and changed me.

My latest two novels, my contemporary romances, were both penned at thirty-two. Not quite so innocent as the above Facebook quote may suggest. There’s an edge to these novels and there’s on page sex, which takes the innocence right out of the novel. My writing has evolved, my confidence in my written word grown. My voice is still there but the two types of novels feel so different.

Which leaves me in a bit of a panic. CHOICE AND CONSEQUENCE (CaC) is up for editing. It is time for me to shift my focus back to the CHOICE series and play once again with my first character, my old friends. Who are now younger than me, immortal fools. I’m left to wonder what will happen in the editing process. Will CaC keep that innocent flair that LILA’S CHOICE has, will it flow from book one to book two? Or will my more adult writing forever alter the series?

My writing is about to be tested. While I’m happy with what is penned on the page at thirty-two, my characters and story represents a different part of myself.

In many ways, I’m thankful for the experience: a chance to reflect on how I have grown as an author, a chance to prove my skills, and a chance to go back in time.

Any writers out there want to weigh in? How has your writing changed over time? Can you go back and mimic your younger self? Or is the fate of CaC already in trouble?

Writing Process Blog Hop

The lovely Tracey Alvarez contacted me to participate in a Writing Process Blog Hop. I love talking about my writing and thought this was a great way to connect with readers and other authors. Here is a little blurb on Tracey, check her out and while you are there check out her debut novel!

Tracey lives in the Coolest Little Capital in the World (a.k.a Wellington, New Zealand) with her wonderfully supportive IT guy husband and two teens who would love to be surgically linked to their electronic devices. When she’s not writing, thinking about writing, or procrastinating about writing, she can be found reading sexy books of all romance genres, nibbling on smuggled chocolate bars or bribing her teens to take over the housework. Find Tracey dodging her muse while chatting on Facebook as www.facebook.com/TraceyAlvarezAuthor or stalking her website at www.traceyalvarez.com

Her first contemporary romance IN TOO DEEP is set on New Zealand’s wild and beautiful, Stewart Island.

And now for a bit about me:

What am I working on?

For years I streamlined myself to work on one project at a time in an attempt to keep my focus pure and fresh. That went out the window when my internal creative muse turned into an ADHD kid off Ritalin: we need to write this! And this! And edit this one! And, oh look, a puppy! I’ve started juggling several projects at once, keeping my main focus on one project and letting the others simmer. I have just finished a major edit on my first contemporary romance, a story involving a social worker in elder services (a former career of mine). I am now torn between working on the second social worker romance, and the sequel for LILA’S CHOICE. After hemming and hawing and letting my internal muse bite her nails far past fashionable, I have picked up the second social worker romance for a quick run through before diving into the sequel for LILA’S CHOICE.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

One thing that makes my work different is having characters with a hearing loss. I am hard of hearing myself, and proud of my hearing loss. My goal is to have a character with a hearing loss in each novel. LILA’S CHOICE has a supporting character who grew up with Deaf parents (a CODA: Child Of Deaf Adults). She ends up dating a Deaf man and works as a teacher for the Deaf, three of her students are characters as well. In my social worker romance I have a few elderly Deaf clients. My second social worker romance has my first Hard of Hearing character: an elderly male who wears hearing aids.

Why do I write what I do?

Why does anyone have a passion? Deep inside I have stories to tell, and a muse nagging at me to get them out. A hopeless romantic I have always been drawn to love stories. I didn’t get the chance to live out many relationships, as I married my high school sweetheart. Perhaps this is my way of playing the field while being faithful? Takes “book boyfriend” to a whole different level!

How does my writing process work?

My writing process has evolved over the years. One thing has remained the same: I prefer absolute silence to write. As a hard of hearing author you might think this makes it easier, it doesn’t. My left ear has a mild loss and is extremely sensitive to surrounding sounds. I have been known to turn my hearing aid to a buzzing noise (t-coil mode for those in the know) just to drown out noise. I now have a young son at home and spend a decent amount of time writing next to the monitor, with him singing, playing, or otherwise causing a ruckus!

Besides silence I am what is known as a pantser: I don’t outline. I tend to get a general idea of where I want my plot to go. I’m constantly thinking of my stories. If I’m driving to work, or in the shower, or otherwise being quiet there is a scene playing itself out in my head. My brain is never off! Once I get enough of a plot planned out I start typing. I don’t always know where I am going, and I need to get the word on the page to find out what comes next. My favorite moment writing LILA’S CHOICE was the climatic scene. It was two am on a Saturday morning, after a long week. I typed the big secret reveal, which led my female to slap my male character. My speedy hands flew over the keyboard, once the period was typed I gasped, then clasped my hands over my mouth. What followed was an overtired author laughing at herself, then running into the other room to tell my husband what I had done.

Be sure to follow the Blog Hop and check out these other lovely authors on March 10:

Vanessa Carnevale is a fiction and freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia. When she’s not penning a book, reading a book, or writing her next feature article, you can find her sipping on a green smoothie, walking the dog, cleaning the house, meditating under a tree or practicing martial arts.

www.vanessacarnevale.com / Facebook / Twitter

Stephanie Collier is an author of Gothic Romance stories with endings that tend to be bittersweet. Her debut novel, The Blood of the Black Rose, releases in February, 2014.

She has always immersed herself in other worlds created by talented minds and her love of beautifully crafted words made her branch out at a young age, dreaming up new characters and worlds of her own.

Stephanie currently in resides in Missouri with her loving, supportive husband and amazingly talented four children.

http://www.StephanieCollier.com / www.facebook.com/stephaniencollierauthor / www.twitter.com/sncollier4

You can find The Blood of the Black Rose on Amazon or Nook

Josie Leigh is an independent author who focuses on writing Romance because she loves a story with a happy ending. Writing has been an escape for her from a very young age, and she cherishes the time she gets to spend with her characters. After graduating with a Bachelors degree in Nutrition in 2008, she pursued a challenging career in the field of nutrition insecurity and anti-hunger advocacy. She is grateful to be able to feed hungry families on a daily basis and chase her literary dreams in her off time.

www.joeskatan.blogspot.com / www.twitter.com/leigh_Josie / https://www.facebook.com/pages/Josie-Leigh/473386819351508