Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Making it Happen

SKYELIGHTS
"Only from the heart can you touch the sky." -- Rumi

It's been a busy month and a half since I lasted posted! We had a nice getaway weekend to Banner Elk, NC with what we call our "DC Family". Within that we have 3 girls who are only five months at most apart in age (all around 2 years old right now)! So we took them all on a farm tour. Here you can see them checking out some baby goats!



And then this beautiful view from the porch of the awesome house we stayed in...



And then, back in DC a few weeks later, the hubs and I celebrated our 11-year-anniversary with drinks at Masseria and dinner at Al Tiramisu, our two favorite Italian restaurants in DC! Here we are getting drinks at the bar in Masseria.



Then, wow, what a wonderful memorial day weekend. We had the most amazing time in Isle of Palms SC -- 13 adults, 7 children. My girls and I started a girls' weekend that we did once a year... until we started having too many babies. Then we invited the men to have in-house babysitting, though we still do a girls' night out! We've been celebrating at different beaches in the SC low country for 10 years now, and have only missed one year of those. It was refreshing and rejuvenating, even with Bonnie's rain pouring down on us. Here is one of my fave pics from when some of us took a yoga class on the beach!



Silly fun times but now it's back to work, both in the day job and with the writing for a few weeks before we travel again.

KNIGHT PONDERINGS
"Though my soul may set in darkness it will rise in perfect light. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." -- Sarah Williams

On the writing front, things are moving. Some close friends and I have started a DC-based writing group (a spin-off from a VA one), and we have the third meeting this week. I'm so happy that we've made this happen, as it's great to have a weekly commitment to others to pin me behind the keyboard for a few hours.... no matter what! Here's a group pic from the second meeting of our writing group.



I'm very much in the midst of editing my manuscript that I've been working on for awhile... frankly, it's tedious work... I much prefer the writing than the tidying. But I really do think my work is growing stronger! God bless my writer friends who keep helping me learn and grow in the ways to improve it. My goal... I'm putting it in writing now!!! Is to finish editing by the end of August... in order to send the manuscript to an editor to clean it up for me before submissions to publishing houses. I was so lucky to win a full manuscript edit at the annual WRW conference! Here's a pic from a super fun night at said conference, where we play Romance Jeopardy, and the theme was the 20's!



And here's where I sign off, because like I said, it's time to make it all happen!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Everyone Needs a Break Right?

And while I've had a long break from this blog, life has been... full lately. Not exactly a break I'd say. That's not a bad thing! It's a wonderful thing. But it's kept me from my writing life for awhile. Here's what I've been up to personally.

SKYELIGHTS
"Only from the heart can you touch the sky." -- Rumi

In November, the hubs, we'll call him "Jedi", snarky laugh, and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary by travelling to Peru! We dropped our little girl "Star" off with her grandmother and aunt and her cousins, and had nine wonderful, if adventurous, days with just the two of us. We went to Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu (yes it's as amazing as the pics look), and Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon... where we were evacuated at like 2am in the morning to avoid rioting gold miners. Here are some highlights in photos:

 


Llama and Machu Picchu, Above

    Ceviche at Astrid y Gaston Above Left, and touring around Lima, Above Right

Then there were the holidays, which we spent on a crazy road trip. We visited friends in Greensboro NC, spent Christmas with Jedi's family at the lake house in Westminster, SC; visited my sister and fam in Winston-Salem, NC; stopped by our alma mater Presbyterian College on our way back down to Columbia, SC to spend New Year's with my home girls roasting oysters and watching football. A marathon, but full of love!
















"Star" by the fountain where the hubs proposed to me at Presbyterian College, Above Left; oysters with my homegirls in my hometown, Columbia SC, Above Right.



And then in February, we celebrated my hubbie's 36th birthday, traveling to Whistler, BC -- Star's 1st trip "abroad", got her passport and everything! -- to go skiing, which was a lovely alpine escape.



View of one of the glacier bowls at the top of Blackcomb Mountain.

Then, we had a trip to Charleston SC to visit friends and run the Cooper River Bridge run 10k, and then had my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her two little girls stay with us for a week visiting DC.

And then my day job has been super-busy too, between prepping for a presentation, having to hire a new person for my team, then planning a trip to LA to meet with colleagues out there.





Prepping for the Bridge Run by running the tidal basin as the Cherry Blossoms were blooming, Left; View from hotel balcony in LA for work, Above Right.





Paintings from girls' night out with Mom-in-Law and Sis-in-Law at the Brookland ArtJamz paint-n-sip, which was so fun! Above.

KNIGHT PONDERINGS
"Though my soul may set in darkness it will rise in perfect light. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." -- Sarah Williams

However, with the Washington Romance Writer's annual conference right around the corner... I really am trying to wrap up the edits to my first novel before meeting with more editors and/or agents. I wish it were simple, but I'm fundamentally re-writing a large portion of it to raise the stakes, create more urgency and introduce some new plot elements. I have to give so many thanks to my WRW friends who helped me come up with some ways to make my plot hopefully a million times stronger. Specific shout-out to @jkeelythrall!

Jedi has been a dream, trying to help me plot times throughout the week to make sure my writing is happening. And the Busboys and Poets around DC have been my places of refuge, to get away, and write the words. We've got two more weeks until the conference... hopefully I can get it done--or real close to complete. Because I finally, finally am ready to start on another book soon!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Following Through

Don't faint. I'm posting another blog within a month! So serious. Following through!

KNIGHT PONDERINGS (These will include my ramblings about writing)
"Though my soul may set in darkness it will rise in perfect light. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." -- Sarah Williams

Per my last blog post, I've been working on re-plotting. It is slow, and it is tedious. But it is happening! Not only do I need to raise the stakes in the early part of the book and add in some new external conflict plot points early on, but I think I need to change the black moment from the hero's POV to the heroine's POV. To make it blacker. Scarier. Darker. And I think I need to look over the whole plot, and adjust my chapter breaks as well as my other breaks. Right now, the chapter lengths vary greatly! I don't know if that's a big deal... but I know some are far too long. And finally, as I make all these adjustments, I need to actually edit and clean up my grammar and errors, which I haven't done yet--and it's pretty messy from pumping out the whole novel in about 6 weeks time.

The good news is, I've devoted some significant time in the last couple of weeks to it--including two Tuesday Write Night meetings in a row, where a bunch of WRW writerly folks gather together to write and commiserate, as well as inviting some folks to my house for some wine and writing one night. It's so nice to have a community of writers to support each other in our endeavors, which can be relatively intimidating and lonely work, but you have to just keep hammering at it. And thank you writing friends--for reminding me tonight to make another blog post. :)

Most recently, as in tonight, as I was working on my novel, re-plotting... I forgot to re-plot. Because I got so caught in my novel, I was just enjoying. And laughing out loud. To me... couldn't be a better sign. Because we are our own worst critic... and for just a little while, I got to just be a reader instead of my own editor.

And finally, we have a fun event coming up Saturday, a tour of the Washington National Cathedral's bell tower with WRW folks and then lunch "to talk all things genre and world-building." Looking forward to doing something out of the norm to see what ideas it triggers!


SKYELIGHTS (This will be recent highlights from my non-writing life)
"Only from the heart can you touch the sky." -- Rumi

The pumpkin playground/patch/festival in Burke VA was amazing. I highly recommend. My little Star loved it--especially the super fast slide and the witches flying around in the woods on the hayride!

In other news, I had a bit of the rough weekend. Star cut two of her fingers... and as fingers do... they bled like crazy. I was semi-freaking out. And on top of that she had a diaper blowout. I couldn't contain a toddler, to apply pressure and assess severity as well as keep blood from getting on everything, and find our first aid kit at the same time. Eventually, I got everything under control and it was all alright but what an ordeal!

And then, same night, I was going to bed and stubbed my toe on the door. It hurt all night. And then as I had a regular doctor's physical today, she wanted to xray it because my poor little pinky toe was so swollen and red but the good news is... no fracture, no boot! Just some buddy tape required. And that's great, because the hubs Jedi and I have a big trip coming up for our 10-year-anni to Peru! Not sure walking around Machu Picchu in a boot would have gone too well. :)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Getting Serious

Okay I bought a domain name. So that means it's time to get serious about this blog right? ;)

KNIGHT PONDERINGS (These will include my ramblings about writing)
"Though my soul may set in darkness it will rise in perfect light. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." -- Sarah Williams

So here's the update on where I'm at in my writing process. I joined RWA, WRW and MRW in the summer of 2013. I attended workshops, formed a critique group, and brainstormed on the plot I've been brewing on for awhile. Then, I found out I was pregnant in October. With the upcoming NanoWriMo and a SavvyAuthors Entangled Smackdown coming in November, and the fact that if I was around my friends and not drinking they'd realize I was pregnant, I decided it was finally time to bunker down, go into recluse, and write that book. And I did! I wrote the minimum 50k words in November, I took a break over the holidays, and then wrote the final (ha, ha) 12k words in January, wrapping up with a 62k novel, part of a larger planned contemporary romance trilogy. It's tentatively titled: "A District Darling Love Story: Growing Spaces".

I went to the WRW annual conference in April, pitched a few editors and an agent, and two editors and an agent were interested! However, they all expressed they were in no rush to see my manuscript--to send it when I was happy with it. I also had found out earlier that my Team Bliss had won the Entangled Smackdown--all of us could submit our manuscripts for review by Entangled editors, and at least one would get a contract! My only problem was that I had to enter with the Bliss line, and my book was more along the publishing house's Indulgence line.

Late June happens upon me and I have my first baby, a little girl we'll call "Star". She is so awesome and we just celebrated her first birthday this past summer.


But let me tell you... those first days, weeks, months... they're a doozy! I didn't know what I was doing, just learning on the job. I didn't touch my book for many months. Then, next thing you know, January comes along, and for a variety of reasons I won't go into here, things start rolling again. The two editors review my book, and both have edits, but are willing to take resubmissions. The agent passes on it. The April WRW conference is coming... and I know I need to go again, and get re-immersed. I go, have a wonderful time reconnecting and making new author friends, and I pitch four editors, all of whom express interest in my manuscript! No time deadline again (this is becoming a bad thing for me). And I form a friendly relationship with a couple agents and some of those editors by offering to handle VIP rides.

So I head back with hopes high to really get this manuscript done and out... and yet... part of my problem is I feel that the first part of my book is just too slow. I feel that as a reader, I wouldn't stay up late flipping pages... pretty big problem. Some of my writer colleagues and I had discussed our plot problems at the conference, so luckily one of them makes a plotting party happen at the Busboy's and Poets! And the writers who were there helped me so much--particularly with the tip to constantly think "raise the stakes!" With some new plot ideas in hand, I'm ready to take it on--but I need to finish re-plotting my whole book... in order to see how to wind in the threads of these new plot elements. So that's where I'm at! My new goal is to have this manuscript completely edited and ready to submit to some beta readers before the Thanksgiving holidays. Then, hopefully I can get feedback and edits done over the Christmas holidays, and have my manuscript ready to resubmit to editors by end of January and start on my next book in February. I really, really need to get started on a second book, and I know that. I've been sitting on this first manuscript for too long.

Lately, one of my non-writing concerns, but more writing career focused concerns has to do with the social media world. I have my pen name social accounts... and a lot of my personal friends and colleagues are crossing over to follow it as well. But the problem is... I don't think they really get what they're in for. And part of the purpose of a romance writer's social account is really to partake in things like #FMW. That's right Friday Man Wars, where we send around a lot of pics of dudes, usually not wearing very much. I'm not sure I'm ready to semi-spam all these personal friends/colleagues accounts with these images--and yet it's something romance writers and readers just do. It's part of the fun. But I'm not sure I want to impact their thinking of me in this way. I need to see if there is a way to target my posts--in a way that is easy to execute.

SKYELIGHTS (This will be recent highlights from my non-writing life)
"Only from the heart can you touch the sky." -- Rumi
  • Just got back from the Hershey PA-area visiting my daughter's great great uncle & aunt. What a fascinating town. It is La-la-land but it is beautiful! There are literally hershey kisses for lamp posts. Everything is idyllic. And their playground was the bomb. :)
  • Headed this Friday with my daughter's daycare to a pumpkin patch... so excited to see what my little pumpkin thinks!
Biggest thing with this blog--I need to learn to just post--and stop being a perfectionist!!! I started this post many months ago... and never posted... and now had to completely revise.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Breathe.

You step to the ledge. You close your eyes. You inhale. And you step out, ready for whatever comes. That's how I feel right now. A little scared, definitely vulnerable. I'm following my dream. Following your dreams shouldn't be that scary right? It wasn't when you were a kid. That's what life was about! Dreaming, and figuring out what you wanted out of life. And yet so many of us, as adults, end up just marching on, wherever, with whoever, and whatever we've ended up with.

I am so blessed. I have the best husband. He's brilliant, and sweet, and funny, and so supportive. Oh and darned good looking too. ;) My silly but dominant tricolor rescue border collie Dagny likes to tell me what to do. My family and friends, who love to make fun of me for the fact that I pronounce everything with an "un-" as "on-", for instance, on-zip, or on-usual. Etc. They also tolerate my being so literal that I sometimes can't understand what they mean unless they spell it out for me. And my job? Has been a blessing I almost fell into--a bunch of creative and fun folks who have helped me grow, working in a fascinating business (cable TV) with a great brand, while I endeavor to succeed in its emerging platforms.

And yet... I've always had this little funny dream. You see, when I was growing up, my parents made me mow the lawn for books. Why? Because I read them so fast--and they could only afford so many--and you can only mow the lawn so often! But in turn, that meant I would read whatever I could find. And more often than not, that meant hitting my Gran's stash. And Gran's stash was full of those steamy, heart-wrenching romances. Make fun of them if you will, but I loved them. Yes, often it's the same story over and over again. They're called tropes. But readers find comfort in them, and they love them. And as for my dream? I figured out one day that I really wanted to try writing them.

So here I am big world! I've taken my leap! We'll see where I fall. But why not? As the kids say these days, "YOLO!" I'm very happy with my life--but somehow in my free extra time, I'm going to try to cram in this extra little dream and pursue it. I've got a fun, contemporary romantic trilogy up my sleeve based in DC, with which I'm going to take my first spin in the writer's world. I've joined the RWA and WRW, I've attended writers' meetings, met other writers, and I'm working on forming my first writers' critique group as we speak. Now, I've just got to get to that writing... which supposedly, is the hardest part! Wish me luck on this journey!