My National Experience for 2018

This year the RWA 2018 National Conference was in Denver. I took the train from Rochester, with a layover in Chicago. Traveling alone is much different when I have a lot to carry on. In Chicago I upgraded to sleeping car and loved the experience. I’ll write about that later.

Arriving in Denver on Monday, I used the extra day to recoup from traveling and getting rested before the conference began. Tuesday was the conference for my online chapter, Kiss of Death (KOD). I found out last year they held their conference the day before the National conference opened. This was the best discovery I’ve made in a long time.

Before the meeting started, I met Sharee Stover and Tina Radcliffe who write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. Sharee’s first Love Inspired Suspense was published in July. As we talked, I learned more about writing suspense and what not to include. My current mss has some fun stuff in it and it was recommended I take it out.

Before the first conference speaker began her talk, I sat down and totally reworked my story. The feeling of excitement rushed through me. My muse sat up and took notice. She wanted me to leave and start writing. It was hard, but I turned her off so I could concentrate on the different speakers from the DEA. So much information which could be relevant to my stories was learned.

Once the National conference started I was able to talk with two of my favorite people, Robin Covington and Tara Taylor Quinn. The only downside was I committed to finish the mss by September 1, 2018. I was really worried I wouldn’t make it, but it looks like the end is attainable.

The mss is printed and ready for me to go over it with my red pen. This is my first time really doing the edits the right way, myself. After a read-thru with the red pen, I’ll make the corrections on the computer hopefully with new information. Then I’ll print it out again and edit is another time.

Once the second round of corrections is made, I’ll send it to a beta reader for another go-thru. I have the whole month of August to do this. For the first time ever, I’m feeling positive about where my writing is going. My initiation to publishing was probably a bit premature. This time I think I’m making the right decisions and taking the correct steps to create a great book.

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Life has a way of throwing story inspirations in the most aggravating ways. Whether it’s dealing with dementia and how it destroys a person’s ability to act with discernment, or  someone with medical occurrences that put them in the hospital for treatment and release. The medical occurrences has the hospital staff joking about frequent flyer points.

If I let the stress of these occasions weigh me down, I won’t be able to get back op. Best cure? Write. Write what I’m learning and put it in stories to help others find a common ground and advice to help them through the same situations.

Instead of letting this stuff take over my life, I’m going to persevere write is all down. Write feelings, fears, hurdles and heartaches. Write everything and anything to get it out of my system. It certainly won’t do me any good to dwell on what’s wrong.

Thankfully I have recourses I can call upon to help with care, ease of mind and a sounding board. I also have a nice little balcony I can sit on and watch the sun rise and/or set, letting the peace settle over me.

It’s Summer!

For the first time I can remember, I was up at 5:30 am and set up to work on my balcony for a couple of hours. It was quiet and peaceful with the birds welcoming the sun. My freshly planted container garden was perking up and the basil scent filled the ai.

I was able to get more words written than I’ve done in weeks. This is probably a result of being too hot and a negative mindset. Whenever I awoke early, I would tell myself it wasn’t time to get up. My alarm wouldn’t go off for hours yet. And the more I did that, the less I accomplished.

Well, no more. I’m starting over and today motivated me. I awoke at 3:00 am and surface my phone for a couple of hours. Then I tried to go back to sleep. Nope. Wasn’t happening. I got up and set up my laptop on the cafe table on my balcony, grabbed a yogurt from the fridge and a cup of coffee. What more did I need to get to work? Nothing.

Two hours of writing and soaking up the quiet morning. It put me in the mood to get ready for physical therapy and I even made it there early. The whole day has been going well and I don’t see it letting up anytime soon.

Now that the sun is behind my apartment complex, the balcony should be a bit cooler and I’ll try to get more work done out there again today. Why did I wait so long to do this? I used to when I first moved here, but then two of my kids moved in with me.

I’ve made a stand and they need to fend for themselves as they are adults. My job is to write and support them emotionally, but it ends there. No more enabling and giving in.

Taking Time

The writing has stalled a bit because the villain’s direction was unclear. After a program at my CNY Romance Writer’s meeting on Saturday, I’ve got a clearer handle on his activities. It’s amazing what you can learn from your peers.

As a result, I’m going to take my time in going over the story and make some points clearer and add more romance to the story. There is romance, but it needs more to move it along.

My workspace is now conducive to getting more work completed without distractions. I can’t help but be excited to getting this book and the next completed before I go to the national conference in Denver.

Once these books are completed, I’m going to venture on the journey to find an agent. My first book hasn’t done well at all, so I might request my rights back. If that happens, I can fix the story and rebrand it to go with the books I’m working on now.

Spring Has Sprung!

With the arrival of the sun, my muse is getting jumpy in my head. Birds are chirping, the grass is getting green and flowers are popping through the dirt and blossoming. I found a surprise as I stepped out my door. Little blue forget me nots are popping up in a torn up area. The apartment complex hasn’t done anything with the area yet.

The hard part is to make time to sit down and put my muse’s words down. I used to love to write on my balcony, but it’s been used for storage lately. Guess it’s time to do some spring cleaning and set up my outdoor writing space again.

As the sun stays shining, I find myself stuck in my manuscript. Sitting with the sun shining in my windows, I plan to at least write a page a day until my muse kickstarts again. I’m really looking forward to that day.

How many other of my writing friends feel this way? I would say, most of them. Sun equals longer days, more Vitamin D and less dark thoughts. Hip Hip Hooray for the Sun!

Writing On

I attended the monthly meeting of CNY Romance Writers. The program was a panel discussion on Bouncing Back. What an eye opener this was. Some of the information was spot on for what I needed to learn.

One thing we learned was to keep your head in the story, every day, day after day. You should be able to work through personal crises and continue to write. A sage piece of advice is that you can’t fix what isn’t written on the page. Not sure who said it, but I believe it may have been Nora Roberts.

Another point was to try and envision your goal. Is it to be published by trad (traditional) or indie (independent) publishers? Is writing a job or a hobby? Write out your goal and post it some place where you see it all the time.

Decide what part of the story excites you. Personally I love writing dialogue and love many of the conversations my characters have. My second favorite is writing action scenes. You know the scenes are good when your adrenaline spikes as you’re writing.

My chapter, CNY Romance Writers is a wonderful group of writers. Many genres are represented and we have several published authors among our members. Every month we have a program that is insightful and informational. If you’re looking for a home to meet people who write like you, come check us out.

Where Is Spring?

This crazy weather is playing havoc with my ability to manage each day as a productive being. Most days I don’t want to get out of bed when there are things I want to do, like write. Having an unavoidable obligation is about the only thing to get me out of bed.

It’s not so much depression as the dark skies and cold weather keep the need to hibernate strong. Finances won’t allow me to get those sun-light bulbs or whatever they’re called to keep the darkness at bay. This is not the way to make writing a career.

The odd part is I do well when I’m away from home and can write thousands of words a day. What is the difference? My thoughts are 1) there are no obligations when I’m away. My kids are adults and can take care of themselves. 2) When I’m away, I can find a nice, warm and cozy place to work with no interruptions. At home there are always interruptions and I’m always cold. 3) When away, there’s no reason to leave until it’s time to go home. At home, someone will always find a reason for the need of a ride somewhere.

What is the solution to this dilemma? Find somewhere close to home or in my home to be warm, alone and uninterrupted. There is a community room in my complex, but I’m not sure how warm it is. There is a kitchen in the room, so I’d be able to bring my meals there and not have to go to the apartment.

Will this method fly? I won’t know until I try it.

First things first. I need to get back on track with my sleep. No more reading on my phone before bed. I tend to get hooked in the story and can’t stop until 3 or 4am. I also need to make sure my room is conducive to sleep. This means no more clutter, freshly made bed and no sounds (ticking clock drives me nuts).

Second, I need to get my desk in the living room organized and decluttered (my DD likes to put everything on it that doesn’t have a home). Third is to make sure I have everything I need to work in the community room – snacks, lunch, drinks, computer, keyboard, mouse and cords, as well as my phone.

This is my sixtieth year and I want it to be the most productive I’ve ever had. Tomorrow is a new day and the start of my new life. My goal is to finish my two current works in progress before attending the RWA National Conference in Denver. That means with synopses, queries and blurbs ready to help my pitch at the speed pitching event (like speed dating).

There you have it. My goal for the rest of this first half of 2018. It’s public now which means I’m accountable to all of my friends online. This is how I’ll roll!

Happy Birthday

The next two weeks have birthdays for my niece and myself. Danielle will be 23 on March 28 and I’ll be 60 on April 3. It’s nice to have our birthdays around Easter because we’re usually together for the holiday.

Danielle is a great girl. Fun to be with, funny and loving. She can be a jokester too. I babysat her before she was a year old and loved every minute of it. She can teach me many things about how to be a good person. I’m blessed to be her aunt.

She reads my blogs, so I can’t say much about what my plans are for when we get together. However, there may be cakes after dinner out. We’ll all congregate in my brother’s hotel room and celebrate our birthdays. Hope she likes the one I picked for her. My friend is making it special order.

My birthday is gong to be all year. A few weeks ago I had gastric (stomach) bypass surgery and am down 41 pounds since I started the process last August. Once more weight has dropped, I plan to get my knees replaced. Both are bone on bone and have needed to get done for at least 30 years. This is the year. I won’t take any arguments from the doctors.

There might also be a couple of tattoos refreshed too. The robin on my left upper arm is fading, while the newer cardinal is still a brilliant red. As time goes on I’ll see about getting my TinkerBell tattoo refreshed. Part is faded and part is still dark. Go figure.

One thing I won’t be doing is letting a number bother me. I’m proud to be as active as I am and how much more I can do. I certainly don’t feel my age anymore.

My New St. Patrick’s Day

This month I have been learning a new way of life. It was hard to have corned beef and cabbage, but I pureed the heck out of it. However, it doesn’t taste the same. My hope is that next year I’ll be able to eat the real meal without too much difficulty.

This process is hard. I feel so great, and seem to have more energy. It’s a falsehood. I went to PT on Monday, had a meeting on Tuesday, another on Wednesday and Paint ‘N Sip Wednesday night. All my energy was used up and I spent Thursday and Friday in bed, wiped out.

Today I went out with two of my kids. We had lunch at Panera and I couldn’t even finish my bowl of soup. Recycled two monitors and a computer at Best Buy and found a cord that attaches my Roku TV to my iMac. Two monitors gives me the opportunity to work online on one and work on my book on the other.

It’s already after nine pm and I need to be up early for church in the morning. This process is really showing me how much I need to listen to my body and rest when I can, whenever I can.

Start of a New Life

Friday, March 2, 2018 was the first day of my new life. Finding myself unable to lose weight the conventional way I’ve done before, I underwent a bariatric bypass. Recovery is going so much better than I could have imagined.

The hospital staff told me I was a star patient because I didn’t have a drain, nor did I ask for pain medicine and was walking so easily they had to ask me to slow down. The only thing we found was my breathing is difficult. I came home with a spirometer to practice deep breathing. Feels great to breathe comfortably.

The liquid diet is a bit hard to follow. Do you realize how hard it is to eat/drink 1/2 c of fluid in 30-60 minutes? Super hard. My solution is to come out to the living room, and eat at my desk or in front of the television watching the clock to time each sip to stretch the meal out.

As you can see from my picture, I have a long way to go to reach my ideal weight. But as long as I follow the process by the letter, I will achieve it faster than I think. Already I’ve lost over 10 pounds, most of it water weight but it’s weight loss nonetheless.

With my recovery going so well, I’m getting the urge to get back into my books and finish the two I’ve been working on before June. I’ve printed out the first one and will spend my time editing it and getting it ready for an editor. I also want to enter it in the Daphne’s contest.