Rumors of my Cherry Coke Addiction Have Been Greatly Exaggerated . . . Or Not.

Hello Friends,

I have news. October is rolling in, and with it, two of my latest publications.

On October 1st, Bards and Sages Quarterly will be publishing one of my early favorites, Fading Light. (A link to the specific issue will be available next week – I’ll update you then.) It was heavily influenced by my husband’s grandmother, Joan Marshall, who had been diagnosted with cancer. She welcomed me into this family as much as anyone, and we shared a creative spark together. I have at least three of her paintings in my house. I didn’t know her for long, but she’ll always have a special place in my heart. 

My next story coming out later in the month, will be in Nature’s Futures and will be my first professional sale. It’s a quirky little piece, one I had fun writing and springing on family who don’t expect humor from my writing. The story, How Cherry Coke Saved My Life, was inspired by my own Cherry Coke addiction. I was drinking way too much of it then, a few cans a day easily. I knew I was overindulging. A fleeting thought occurred to me one day, the title, and I wondered what I could do with it. I wrote it down on a post it note and stuck it to the side of my monitor at work. (Hey, that’s where the idea hit me. This was the fertilizer.) I had an image of two characters, but I didn’t know who they were or what was wrong. Only that they didn’t know each other. The story came to me a few months after that. I can’t wait to share it. I’ll update you guys in late October when I’ve got a link to the story. (I’m also working out where the journal is available for purchase).

I am so excited about these stories. Nature and Bards and Sages are respectable publications and the editors have been fantastic to work with. It isn’t just the awesome professionalism and writerly things like galley proofs and artwork. It’s a unique experience of some reading something you wrote and loving it so much they’re willing to show it to the world.

Thanks for listening all these years. My hard work is starting to pay off. For those of you who have critiqued these stories, I especially thank you. I hope you all enjoy the stories. And by the way, the cola addiction is down to 1 – 2 a week.

Dawn

Writing Plans

Ten more days are left to September, and with it comes the adrenaline rush of trying to complete the many short story goals I made a few weeks ago. Following that is the excitement of returning to an older project, my novel. 

It’s time to get Winter Warrior finished. I have broken world-building and some character development to work on, but then there are about 60,000 words that need to be written.  The only problem for me is that this needs to be my total focus. No other writing projects during this time beyond a quick flash fiction on the weekend and some critiquing.

I’ll be posting weekly updates to keep myself honest and on track, and there might be snippets if anything appeals to me.

Fitness and Motivation: Goals Aren’t Enough

But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try, and try, and try

- Pink, “Try”

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Life is challenging sometimes. I had a fabulous fitness schedule in August due to a) my committing to multiple workouts per day to jump start the weight loss and b) sacrificing some writing time. My writing output decreased significantly, but the weight loss was phenomenal. Then school started up for the kids and I barely got in any workouts beyond karate class for about two weeks. Guess what? Some of the weight creeped back on. It happened so fast. I swear those two weeks passed in just a few blinks.

I got in touch with my trainer and asked for a new routine to work on, and wrote out an index card assigning both writing and fitness times. Both have to work together. It’s the eternal battle, I know. It hurts to give up one thing you love for something that you need to do. Fitness can be fun, especially if you have people supporting you. My routine involves lunch time workouts (yoga twice a week), weights + cardio four times  a week after work (when the kids are safely at school and after school care), then karate class 3 times a week (one of which is a double class of two segments of forty five minutes each).  Then there’s the Sunday running, too. It works because my kids know I’m getting healthier (I don’t use the F-A-T word around them and never will, though we did talk about how eating too much sugar and not excersizing will make your tummy squishy and that’s not healthy).

The karate has been a huge help for me this year. Nine months ago, i couldn’t do a single pushup or full situps. Today, I can do 15 pushups (full extension, not on my knees) and 20 – 35 situps based on how long ago I last ate. I’m working on planks now and pullups. The planks are 30 – 40 seconds but I’m trying to push that to a full minute. The pullups are assisted, but I want to get to the point I can do them on my own. That’s goal one.

Part of my inspiration for the sudden change in fitness goes right back to my karate instructor, Master Adam Kifer. He gave me the idea of multiple workouts (and reminded me how important dropping the soda and bad snacks really is).  If I stay on track, I could be testing for a black in about two years, and while I am getting stronger and my endurance is increasing, I need to step it up. I don’t want to just pass this test, I want to blow my instructors away. 

This is my focus and what gets me up early to do my writing in the morning so my afternoons are free for fitness.

If you need to get moving, get healthy, lose weight, or try something new, then start by staring it in the face and acknowledging that it isn’t going to be easy. Then search out your motivation. Choose a reason crucial in your life. Do it for yourself first, but find someone or something that makes achieving this goal important.

Usually Yoda’s advice (Do Not Try; Do or Do Not) sounds motivating. You choose to succeeed or you choose to fail, right? Because if you’re just trying, you’re not going to suceed. Guess what, sometimes you have to fail first. Sometimes you have to fight that burn to figure out exactly what you need and want.

Go ahead and try, just make sure your version of trying is giving it all your might. The moment you don’t is when failure steps in. But trying is the journey and the journey is what makes us human and real.

You can do this. I can do this. We just have to try and try and try and try.

I’d love to hear about your goals and motivations. What’s been working for you? Where have you been struggling? 

Revise vs Rewriting

 After Viable Paradise, I made it a point to temporarily trunk a lot of my submission stories. I wanted time to process what I learned and then review the work I had out there to make sure it still represented me or required some adjustments. Most of them it turned out, needed more work.

 Little by little, I’ve been tweaking those stories and getting them back out into revisions. I’ve sold two of them since then. But then I came across one that was a pain to read. I always suspected it was too long, but I discovered there was too much baggage on the main character and the story ended up drastically overwritten.

 I dug into it with my red pen, but then I discovered my normal revision process of marking up the manuscript wasn’t working. I don’t mind a lot of red on the page, to the contrary I love it, but there was more red ink flowing than there was original printing. So I’m starting a new process for this story that scares me. I’m taking one paragraph at a time and reading it, determing if it serves the new or old story, and then rewriting it as needed.

 I tried this approach many years ago and it killed the story for a few reasons. I got lost in what I was reviewing. It took too long to get through the story so I forgot a lot of what was old and what was new. My skills have improved since then, so maybe it’ll work this time. We’ll see if it works. If not, I may try the “full rewrite from 0 words” approach. I’ve given myself a deadline to get this done by Saturday night. Time is definitely not on my side since I write when I’m tired and the red marks on the manuscript form my revision map. I have no map. I have guidelines and determination. I also have a story whose core I love and I will see this thing fixed properly and resubmitted.

September Writing Check-In

Best summer ever. My writing has improved, I made a sale, and my health is improving due to some time sacrifices I’ve made in my writing time. It’s necessary now while the weather is still warm and I can exercise outside, but will balance out in January.  More details on the sale will come when I have a publication date. I’m currently awaiting proofs on my story that’s supposed to come out in October in Bards and Sages Quarterly.

 July Writing Check

  • 1 Story Written
  • 1 Story Revised
  • 3 Critiques
  • 6 Rejections
  • 6 Submissions

 

 

August Writing Check

  • 2 New Flash Written
  • 1 Short Story Revised
  • 3 Critiques
  • 5 Rejections + 1 Acceptance
  • 5 Submissions

  

My summer writing was slow, so much time with the kids, things to do to get ready for school, deal with the car total and replacement, vacation and birthdays, and a new fitness schedule/routine. It’s good – we’re empty shells if we write and ignore the outside world. But it’s back to business in September.

 

September Goals

 I’m not ready to dive back into the novel yet. I’m having too much fun with short stories, so I’m sticking with that for September.

 

  • 4 to 5  Short Story Drafts (Flash, most likely)
  • 5 Short Story Revisions (versions 3′s and 4′s, most should be ready to submit when I complete this next pass)
  • Slush (Waylines has opened to submissions again, so send us your best. I can’t wait to read them.)
  • 3 to 4 critiques

 

 

Best of luck to you in September. I hope you find your groove.

 

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De-stressing

De-stressing

This blog’s been quiet because I went on vacation, which means I was busy the week before and the week after. The destressing went extremely well, and I even came away with a new story.

May Writing Update

Best May ever!

So first, I found out via queries that two of my submissions made it into the second round at their markets. I know that doesn’t mean a contract is coming, but it’s a sign of progress. The road to publishing is a long one, so these kinds of things help with the mental battle.

Short stories, ah, my lovelies. I wrote 7 new short stories (some were flash). Probably the best first drafts I’ve done in a while. I have two more that are half done (longer stories, multiple depths of meanings). I also started Holly Lisle’s Flash Fiction Class and have several flash pieces in progress based on the assignment.

May was playtime, but June is back to scheduled writing. The novel needs finishing. A short story needs revision for entry into Writers of the Future. Then there’s critiquing and slushing. And I’m sure one or two of those new stories will get a revision.

And time to get a quick look at my annual stats. June should put me at the halfway mark for most of these, but I’m behind on some.  No worries, I’m thrilled with my progress this year.

2013 Writing

X/Y = x is what I’ve done, y is my goal for the year.

  • Winter Warrior: 5k/54k
  • Short Story Writing: 14/24
  • Short Story Edits:  13/36
  • Short Story Submissions: 28
  • New Submissions: 5/12
  • Crits: 12/48
  • Book Reading: 7/30
  • Rejections:  23
  • Publications: 1 (scheduled for October)
  • Acceptance: 1