Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Where's your awareness?

Standing in the Southwest boarding line, I noticed this adorable unicorn pin on a passenger's carry-on just ahead of me. She said it was for cancer awareness. Although I didn't say it, my knee jerk reaction was why not focus on health instead?

Too often, I believe as a society we tend to focus on the negative. War, cancer, recession, terror, racism, murder, rape, inequality...and the list goes on. Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting we turn a blind eye and go skipping down the street singing "tra-la-la" as if the world was a Disney movie. But all this "war on" cancer, terror, etc. only creates more fear, anger, anxiety, and ultimately more of what we don't want.

Instead, when you witness something negative, take action, but keep the focus on what you want instead. If you witness cancer, hug your loved ones. Advocate health. Eat delicious, whole foods. Move your body. Find a health regimen that nourishes your mind, body and soul. Believe in a higher power rather than the doctor's final word. There are many people who were "sentenced to death" and ended up living long, healthy lives. All because they focused on the love instead.

The same can apply to your daily life and goals. As a writer, I often find myself facing "writer's block." But not because my imagination and inspiration has run dry. Turns out I am the one blocking the words because my focus is on fear and doubt. The moment I bring my awareness onto what I do want -- to write and have fun while doing it -- then the words flow again.

So moving forward, let's follow Mother Teresa's advice. When asked if she would march against the war in Vietnam, she replied, "No, but if you have a march for peace, I will be there."

Show up for what you want and it will meet you there.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

You're the JAM

Oh the life of a writer is an insane roller coaster ride (so you better have a strong stomach and thick skin). A month ago after receiving another rejection on one of my short stories, I found myself plummeting into dark spaces again. The ultimate fear factor: trapped in the land of self-doubt.

Is my writing any good? Will I get an agent? Will my novel sell? Will people even like it? Or will only my mom read my stuff? And the worst thought of all: Will I have to get a "real" job again? *shudder*

I continually let rejections and the slower than tip-toe time it takes for stuff to "happen" get me down that I forget to enjoy the awesome moments. A great writing day (sometimes even week!) where the words just flow. Encouraging feedback from my critique group. Selling my first short story. Getting my first pro-rate payment. And seeing my name and story in print.

My fabulous friend Mo sent me the wonderful card above congratulating me on the publication of my first short story "Mirror Image". A wonderful reminder to be proud of my accomplishments and to celebrate all milestones, big and small (especially just showing up to the page day after day).

So, yes, I AM the JAM! And I will look at this card pinned on my wall any time I slip and forget.

celebrate yourself,

Friday, November 21, 2014

Final revision complete...woo-hoo!!

It only took a little under three years and four plot changes, but I finally finished the final revision of my young adult supernatural suspense In Search of Joy. Well, technically, there will be more revising (via agents and/or editors), but I can most certainly live with that. For now it's out of mind (yeah, right) and sitting in a non-simultaneous submission publisher's pile while I focus on finishing the first draft of my middle-grade humorous novel Mira & Whiskers.

Celebrate good times, come on!
Let's celebrate.

Everyone around the world come on!
It's a celebration.

OK, enough blissing out...back to writing.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Doom of Wonder Bread

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Here's a sneak peek of my middle-grade sci-fi story THE DOOM OF WONDER BREAD, part of the 2015 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide. 20 short stories with a focus on diversity. 80% with central female characters. Black, white, Asian, Latino. Human and robot. Everyone belongs.

And there's still time to help support diversity in kidlit...the Kickstarter campaign ends November 19th.


Friday, October 31, 2014

What Halloween Can Teach Us About Writing

Once again, it's that time of year. Leaves changing to orange from green. Scary movies on syndication rotation. And the dreaded five (OK, ten) pounds gained between now and New Year's.

So, what can Halloween actually teach us about writing? Read on, if you dare....muahahaha

Step into Someone Else's Shoes
The best part of Halloween (aside from eating all the dark chocolate I want with no judgement? bite-size has no calories, you know). Becoming someone else. Whether a superhero, slut or pop culture soundbite, prancing around in someone else's shoes is fun. And as a writer, for readers to connect to the page, you truly have to know your characters.

What's the backstory? Motivation? Inner demons? What does your character look like? Physical ticks, traits and nuances. Get fully into your character, so their choices and reactions within your plot flow without thought. Intimacy creates emotional connection...and the reason we read in the first place is to feel something.

Face Your Fear
Howls, heavy breathing, bumps in the night. Moving forward down dark
hallways. If scary movies have taught us anything, it's that at some point you'll have to face your fear. And despite the number of friends you start out with, you'll end up at some point going it alone.

Everyday a writer faces the blank page, there's a moment (or even days) of sheer terror. What do I write? What if it sucks? What if no one likes it? What if it never sells? What if? What if? What if?

The future is 100% unknown. And as a former control freak, that is the ultimate scare. But that shouldn't force you huddled in a corner, shivering, mumbling and stuck. You can't predict the outcome. But you can have fun playing with words, because you have total control over your actions and perspective. And who doesn't love kick-butt heroines (Go Buffy!) over the whiny "can't do it" personas?

Trick or Treat!
On the same night every year, you can knock on a stranger's door, hold out a bucket and demand candy. One of the many lessons we forget as writers is to ask for what we want. The worst that can happen is rejection (again and again and again), but you'll never hear yes if you don't ask.

Writing is predominately a solitary existence. But it takes a writing community to create a great story. You need critiquers and editors; publishers and distributors; cheerleaders, teachers, peers and readers. Communities are essential to producing your best work possible, but most importantly to stay sane (especially when facing that scary What if?).

Ask for what you want...you just might get it.

Happy "Spooktacular" Writing!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Stay Strong

PDX Street Art on NW 23rd and Quimby

After two hours of wrestling with my middle grade novel, the Universe sent me the message above.

Stay Strong...Create Create Create...just be patient...Breathe Breathe Breathe
Let go...rest work play...and play some more...

Stop, breathe and pay attention to the signs.

you are lovely,

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kickstart Diversity in Kidlit

It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway), we need diversity in children's literature. Thankfully, here comes Dreaming Robot Press to help make a difference:

"Girls need to read stories where any number of possible roles are modeled for them. Just as importantly, boys need to read stories where girls are active participants in adventures. And children of all colors and backgrounds need to know the future includes them."

If you have a square -- I mean, dollar -- to spare, then please check out this Kickstarter page for the Young Explorer's Adventure Guide. 20 middle-grade sci-fi short stories. 80% with central female characters. Black, white, Asian, Latino. Human and robot. Everyone belongs.

I'm SO excited to be a part of this anthology (especially one that pays the pro rate. woo-hoo!). And as of October 17, a little over 50% of the goal has been pledged, but the project will only be funded if the full $3,500 is pledged by November 19thAny and all support is greatly appreciated. 

Please help spread the word!

Monday, October 13, 2014

We Need Diverse Everything

There's been a lot of talk in the children's publishing industry around diversity. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign started in a Twitter exchange on April 17, 2014 between authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo expressing their frustration with the lack of diversity in kidlit in response to the all-white, all-male panel of children's authors assembled for BookCon's reader event.

This need has been expressed many times over the years. From the 1965 article published in The Saturday Review titled "The All-White World of Children's Books" to the 2013 New York Times piece "Where Are the People of Color in Children's Books?"

The sad truth is that the need for diversity is critical in all forms of media, expression and entertainment. And it doesn't end with the color of skin. Whether it be female, sexual orientation, or differently abled, the world is more than your average white guy.

What makes reading such a unique collaboration between author and reader, is that the reader brings their individual perspective and world outlook to add to the story, truly bringing the story to life. I can only speak for myself, but the "visual" that goes on in my head while reading doesn't necessarily match the description on the page (or even the book cover jacket). Most times it's as if I'm in the main character's shoes, experiencing his adventure.

I don't want to be spoon-fed only physical characteristics or stereo-typical traits and situations in order to bring more diversity into the world of books. Books need diverse experiences where the reader connects emotionally to the story line. I'm not a white girl growing up in New Jersey, nor did I ever wear belted sanitary napkins. But I remember being fully in love with the book Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, because I connected with the 6th grader's authentic truth of exploring religion and dealing with preteen female issues (buying a first bra, getting her first period, liking boys, etc).

Stories...no matter if it's a song, movie, book or news segment...connect us with others by "living" through another's experience. I would love more than anything to see greater diversity, on the screen and on the page. The more we see and read other's struggles and triumphs, of people with different beliefs, status and race, the more we'll realize that we all experience the same emotions and desires, just in different ways.

diversify your world,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Inspiration Station

Inspiration Station, DoubleTree by Hilton PDX, NE 9th & Multnomah

On my way to the Willamette Writer's Conference back in August, this "box on a pole" caught my eye. Turns out there are five Inspiration Stations in the Lloyd District based on the poetry post concept: a wooden pole, usually mounted on private property, facing pedestrians...a box on top with a a glass face and lid...inside a sheet of paper containing a poem or some other artwork.

What a wonderful reminder to pay attention to the world around us. From a bird's morning song, to the calming aroma of Stumptown coffee, to the smile of a stranger. Inspiration is everywhere.

be inspired!

Friday, September 26, 2014

To Plot or Not to Plot

I used to plot-to-death. Then, I was a pantser. But now you may address me as part of the converted --- I'm a bit of both.

The trick is discovering what works best for you. There are endless plotting methods to play with (Hero's Journey; Save the Cat; Story Engineering; 3 Act Structure; and so on) or mash 'em up to create your own perfect plan.

When I saw Larry Brooks at the 2013 Willamette Writer's Conference, I loved his presentation "Fix Your Novel with One More Draft". Then a year later my friend loaned me her book, Story Engineering (by none other than Larry Brooks). I totally connected with it. No new concepts (as he even says himself), but for some reason taking the time to plot finally clicked.

So, I decided to take what I learned, along with what already worked for me, and apply it to my short story "The Doom of Wonder Bread." It was the best writing experience I've ever had...from idea to acceptance. And not once did I ever dread going back to my draft. I actually had to force myself not to touch it while waiting on critique feedback. Sure, it was sometimes hard, but it was never complicated.

For those that are curious, the entire process for my 6000 word middle grade sci-fi story lasted two and a half months. I found out about the 2014 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide in early June and spent ~ two weeks brainstorming ideas. Once I had a concept and theme and knew my main character, I started to write.

Tweeking Larry Brooks' story structure, I outlined my first plot point, decided how I wanted my story to end, and then backed into my midpoint and second plot point. Three weeks later, I had a clean first draft that I submitted to my critique group. A week later I received feedback and completed a second draft in two weeks (a scene cut, two scenes added, but the same plot). Another round of critiques and one final revision done in a week.

Then the best part: I submitted to Dreaming Robot Press on a Thursday, received an acceptance email the following Monday.

So there's something to be said about the right amount of plotting (just enough so you know where you're going), with the right mix of pantsing (to let the story show you how to get there). But the most important thing, enjoy the process.

plotter, pantser, whatever...just write!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Which way do I go?

Pioneer Courthouse Square, Downtown Portland

Fall's almost here. Later sunrises, earlier sunsets. Even a drop in temperature (crossing fingers that this time it will stick).

Fall has always been that season where I've made big changes. Moved from Florida to DC. Then after 11 years, moved cross country to pursue my love of writing full-time. But for some reason, all the changes I've been experiencing lately seem to be happening "to me" rather than created by me.

The biggest change: my dear, creative friend has moved to Laguna Beach. But rather than curl in a ball and weep, I'm celebrating the amazing fun we've had together and cheering her on to bigger and better things. Our friendship won't be severed by a measly thousand miles.

So where do I go from here?

I celebrate the awesome life I've created in Portland: a supportive writing and art community; three short stories sold; an intimate connection with nature; and wonderful folks and activities that fill me with joy. There's so much more to experience (publish my picture books and novels; hike new trails; create new soul-full relationships...). So with an open heart and focused outlook I continue on this journey, ready for the next adventure.

Live a life you love,

Monday, August 18, 2014

An Early Treat

For all you horror fans, my second short story "The Anniversary" is now available for pre-order on Amazon as part of the Journals of Horror: Found Fiction anthology. Brought to you by Terry M. West and Pleasant Storm Entertainment, this collection of terror is inspired by the mechanics of the found footage horror film genre. Each story is a horrific encounter committed to paper, item or device discovered later, discovered anywhere, often left behind by a dead protagonist.

Buyer beware: muahahaha. Release date Halloween 2014.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mirror Image

What makes July 2014 so?
Other than the 90 degree plus weather with no A/C, that is.

My first published short story is now available! "Mirror Image", a young adult fantasy, is part of the UK anthology Dark Heart Volume 2

If you're looking for something cool in this summer heat, you can now purchase Dark Heart on Amazon. These types of venues aren't in it for the money. Instead, they give newbie authors a great opportunity to get our work into the hands of readers, so any support is appreciated.

Spread the word.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


It's a bird...

It's a tarsier...

It's a squirrel on his throne dining on corn on the cob

Just another typical after dinner walk in Portland.

oh Portland, you never disappoint,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Meet S'mores

Meet S'mores. He loves chocolate SO much that he followed his keen scent into a 375 degree oven the second his human exited the kitchen. Mr. S'mores wears his singed ears, cheeks and paws--even his toasted grey and white tail--with pride. It was all worth it for the moist and delicious chocolate chip cookies.

When I first pulled this polymer clay cat out the oven, I was quite disappointed. He no longer looked the way 'he was supposed to.' But when my creative pal commented, "His cheeks are blushing," it opened my mind to a different point of view. I let go of my desired outcome and appreciated his unique beauty. And then his name and story above hit me, and I fell in love.

let go and love,

Monday, June 30, 2014


Imagine driving home after an amazing dinner and conversation when suddenly a pack of cyclists are zooming past in the opposite direction and taking up the entire neighboring car lane. And no, I'm not talking muscular men in cycle shorts and helmets.

Picture blinged-out bikes and your average everyday citizen. Some in costume. Some sporting a blaring boom box. Bikes glowing in the dark or pulsing lights. Tall bikes. Extra, extra towering bikes.

Then, traffic comes to a halt and the pack becomes a never-ending swarm of hootin' and hollerin' commuters on two wheels. So what do you do?

It's Portland. You roll down your window, blast Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves, cheer along and hold out your palm to high-five the cyclists that roll on by.

Nothing weird about a Loud'n'Lit bike ride. Just another typical Saturday night in Portland.

I love you just the way you are Portland!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hadley Rille Books Fundraising Campaign

The beautiful and talented author, Vanessa MacLellan, has put out a request and as her friend and a fellow author, I am absolutely eager to support her and her publisher.

"Hadley Rille Books gave me [Vanessa MacLellan] a chance. I hope that you will give Hadley Rille Books a chance as well. Please Boost the Signal. Pass on the link, tell people about this great small press who gives writers a chance and isn’t all about fitting some formula. These stories move you. They are stories we all can relate to. If you think supporting the little guy, providing different options versus the ones the major publishers think we all want, and helping out new authors is a great idea, then please help by donating (even $5 helps!) and passing on the word."

Please Support the Growth of Hadley Rille Books: A Quality Small Press Publisher

Spread the word!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Air Soul Collage Card

Air Soul Collage by Sonja Thomas

This past Sunday I attended the workshop "A Soulful Approach to Healing: Working with the Spirit of AIR" with the talented artist Samyak Yamauchi. Our intimate group of women journeyed, participated in an outdoor Mapacho ceremony (which included blowing bubbles!) and created soul-inspired art in centered silence.

Above is my first soul-collage card inspired by the spirit of Air. One woman commented, "you definitely think outside the box" (as evidenced by the butterfly and two kites bursting in 3D from my card). I tend to be easily inspired, but quickly frozen in fearful thoughts making it near impossible to take action. But the workshop reminded me that I AM WHOLE. I AM HEALED.

There's no need to struggle and work through layers of guilt, fear, jealousy and a whole bunch of other junk. Instead, I can always, at any moment, reconnect with the center of my whole self, the true essence of me--light, love and joy. And from there "all that junk" will melt away with ease and I can create in the flow.

spread your wings and fly,

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Contribute You

I have been volunteering for over 20 yrs, from spicing up my lean undergrad resume by providing free tax help through VITA to raising money and awareness for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by running the Marine Corps Marathon in honor of my father. But my absolute favorite contribution to date is volunteering with SMART (Start Making a Reader Today).

Every Thursday, from October through May, I read for a half hour with two students one-on-one. After eight months, it was hard to say good-bye to my spunky kindergartner and grounded first-grader. So instead, I doodled a unique picture for each as my way of saying thanks for bringing great joy to my Thursday afternoons. 

Whenever I heard the word 'contribution' it used to mean donating your time or money to your favorite charity. But after watching The Theory of Awesomeness with the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, I was reminded that it means so much more. I've redefined contribution to 'sharing me and my gifts' with the world.

Whether offering a stranger a smile; sending a postcard just to say 'Hi - I miss you!'; or spending an afternoon with a newborn so my friend can spend time on herself -- these are just a few of the ways I contribute me to make the world a happy place.

Make someone's day; contribute you in your unique way.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Put a bird on it!

Multnomah Village, Portland
Banking used to be boring...until you put a bird on it!

Oh, Portland. You never disappoint.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

There's no one I love more

ⓒ Stefano Vitale - Mother and Child

you're the first person I reach out to
when I experience amazing
or the one I wish was near
when my tummy hurts.
you taught me unconditional love,
the way you give of yourself
without thought or complaint or an expectation 
of something in return 
but just because it's from your heart.
thank you for your faith in me,
even though it keeps you up at night.
you taught me I can do anything,
just spread my wings and fly
and hold my head up high
even if my neck is dirty.
one day I hope to be half the Goddess you are.
there's no one I love more.

the above was inspired by and is dedicated to my beautiful mother, Lydia Thomas. 

Mother, Mother, I miss you. I love you.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Say it loud!

Failed! by sonja
I am a perfectionist.

Don't worry, I'm not sticking with an old label. I'm reframing the definition. Turning my Achilles into a strength. To be "perfect" for me now means to accept and love me as I am, right here, right now. And to continue to experience, grow and become more of who I really am...perfect.

In the past, my perfectionism required that everything I do, from grades, to sports, to drawing, had to be "the best." An A+. Never miss a fly ball (even if it smacks you square in the forehead and you have your first MRI). A hand looks like a hand and not chicken scratch.

Failure was not an option. So fear started to take hold, making new experiences full of anxious hesitation. And slowly, life turned into a suffocating routine, full of missed opportunities and resentment.

With redefining perfectionism, it also changes the way I see failing. A necessary step (usually several) along the journey to achieving mastery. No one can run a marathon the first day they try (well, there was this one guy dating an ex co-worker of mine who did it, but there's always exceptions). But no one can circle around the earth the first day they learn to walk...not that I've met yet.

But we can try something new. And if we like the experience, then we keep at it. Failing along the way. Maybe even becoming an expert. The next Serena Williams. Or following in the footsteps of Miss Dolly Parton or Lady Gaga. Or maybe it's just for fun, playing tennis with friends. Singing karaoke on the weekends. Or maybe we hate it. And move on to the next experience.

You may even find yourself wanting to try, but not quite giving it a go. That's OK too. Revel in the experience of finding out more about who you really are and love yourself for it.

So, get on up and say it loud: "I've failed and I'm proud!" And then take that next step.



Monday, April 28, 2014

My weapon of choice

My Weapon of Choice

Love flows from my heart
and through my hand
for the world to read.

write on!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Welcome to the blog hop!

Welcome to the next leg (and my first!) blog hop where writers share a glimpse into their current works in progress in honor of SUCKER LITERARY'S Vol 3 release available now.

hopping animated bunny photo: hopping bunny animated hoppingrabbit_zpse6fdcf74.gif

Many thanks to Justine Manzano who tagged me for this hop. Justine is a writer of many genres who lives in Bronx, NY with her husband, son, and a cacophony of cats. Her short fiction appears in the anthology Things You Can Create and Sliver of Stone Magazine and will appear in the upcoming inaugural issue of The Greenwich Village Literary Review. She maintains a semi-monthly blog at JustineManzano.com and works as a fiction reader for Sucker Literary Magazine. Her twitter account is at @justine_manzano, where she shares all of her news and views on writing and life.

And now, here's a sneak peek into my current project and writing process:

Q. What am I working on?
A ton of stuff in different stages (from a quirky picture book to a humorous middle grade to an adult horror short story), but my main focus now is finishing up a final (fingers crossed) revision for my young adult fantasy, In Search of Joy. 

One word can sum up 17 year old Tori's entire life. Why. Why is she a freak? Thanks to cryptic visions that knock her out and the voices in her head. But there's only one question that makes living unbearable. The only thing Tori can do with her raging grief: find out why her twin sister Joy committed suicide. 

Q. How does my work differ from other works in its genre?
The main character Tori is bi-racial growing up in a small white Florida town (something I'm intimately familiar with). The novel introduces her Yoruba culture and her own mystic beliefs with tons of fantastical fun, including mystic rituals, astral projection, and soul hitchhiking, along with suspenseful plot twists. Although the theme is dark, Tori's sarcastic wit lightens it up. 

Q. Why do I write what I do?
Short answer: because I LOVE to write.

Longer answer: It's my favorite way to express myself. I love to inspire, cause conversation, entertain, educate, empower, cause laughter, expose fears...provide an escape into a new reality.

Q. How does my writing process work?
A new story always starts with some vague idea -- inciting incident, main character, a general concept/theme -- which can pop in my mind at any time and inspired by so many different things (a song, book, conversation...life). I let the story play out in my subconscious and jot down notes. Then when there's room in my schedule, I write. 

I've learned the hard way to allow the first draft to just flow (my preference with paper and pen). No censoring, no revising until I've reached 'the end'. Then it's revision time, sharing it with my critique group, and more and more revising until the story is 'as good as its gonna get' and I move on to the next.

And finally, introducing other AH-mazing writers on the blog hop:

A champion of NaNoWriMo, Vanessa MacLellan is an avid reader of anything with pizazz. Words have been her companions since she was ten, forcing atrocious adverbs upon her mother. Her fantasy novel, THREE GREAT LIES, has recently been accepted by Hadley Rille Books and is scheduled for release in early 2015. She's had three short stories published by online magazines. When not in the office or writing, she bird watches and hikes. Vanessa can be found at vanmaclellan.com. Check out her post on Monday, April 28.

Christina Mercer author of Award-Winning Tween/Teen Fantasy ARROW OF THE MIST and its sequel ARMS OF ANU, writes fiction for children and young adults. She was a Semi-Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, took Writer's Best of Show at the SCBWI California North/Central Regional Conference and won an Honorable Mention in the 21st Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Christina enjoys life in the foothills of Northern California with her husband and sons, a pack of large dogs and about 100,000 honeybees. For more about her and her writing visit www.christinamercer.com. Check out her post today!

hopping animated bunny photo: hopping bunny animated hoppingrabbit_zpse6fdcf74.gif

hoppity hop hop, a blog hoppin' we will go!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring is here!

Animated hydrant in Alberta District, PDX

Spring is finally here! Sunny skies, vibrant flowers and a delicious 60 degree temperature. Even the fire hydrants are waking up from their 'winter blues' hibernation and soaking in all the Portland beauty. Get outside and don't you dare blink...before you know it, summer will take reign.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah! Zip-a-Dee-Day!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Attention young adult writers!

Do you have an unpublished, completed book-length work of young adult fiction?

Then submit the first 150 to 200 words to the "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest. Submissions are due Wednesday, April 9, 2014. See details at the Guide to Literary Agents Blog on the Writer's Digest website.

The top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, by the agent judge Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger, Inc and 2) A free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com.

best of luck!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Doing my happy dance

That day I've been holding my breath so long for...has finally arrived. Picture it:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Doing my usual social networking morning routine (tweets, Google+ posts, and the like) before diving into my real work of playing with words. Email a friend the current status of my writing life: waiting to hear back on submissions for a picture book and two short stories, revising YA novel, and starting another short story.

Oh look - another email in my inbox that must be taken care of before I write (always the procrastinator). OMG. The subject line is Dark Heart Volume 2. The UK anthology I'd submitted my YA fantasy short story to back in March. Heart pounds, hands sweaty. Open message:

"We would be absolutely delighted to accept your short story 'Mirror Image' for Volume 2 of Dark Heart."

Heart still pounding, eyes zero in on "absolutely delighted" and, of course, I do my "I rule, yes, yes, y'all" happy dance jam at my desk.

Finally, I exhale. And then call my mom.

celebrate good times, c'mon! let's celebrate!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Time: are you running out?

I'd always believed that when I no longer worked a 9-to-5, then I'd have all the time in the world to write. Almost two years have passed and I wonder, what do I have to show for it? By now I should be represented and have sold my first YA.

But life doesn't unfold exactly as planned.

In those dark moments, I'm a total failure for wasting so much time. But when I pause and really compare myself today to the me from two years ago, man, have I grown. My quality of writing; my writing community; my routine; my editing eye; my ability to face fear and keep moving forward... All of this would've taken an eternity with a full-time job.

Writing is hard. No sense in creating more pain by stressing over the days, weeks, and months that tick by. Yes, time is limited. But we have a choice on how to spend it. Sure, we all have obligations, but do you really need to spend another hour on social media or watching another craptastic reality show marathon? Focus on your craft instead.

Let go of judgments on how long 'something' should take. If you really love it, then spend your time doing it. All you have is now.

"tick tock ya don't stop, to the tick tick ya don't quit!"

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Why so serious?

photo credit Victor Maristane
My brain has been spinning nonstop around my YA novel, no matter how hard I've been avoiding it. In retrospect, some time away was needed.

I revised an old picture book manuscript and sent it out to several publishers. Then worked on a YA fantasy short story, followed by a humorous SF/F piece -- both helping me to fall in love with writing again.

And even though my mind is trying to figure out all that needs to be fixed, the procrastination has got to stop. I must sit down and revise. Not in my head, but on paper.

Like the Joker says, "Why so serious? Let's put a smile on that face!"

So instead of turning this final revision into a grueling chore, I'm going to have fun with it. By letting go of any "musts, should's & have to's" and letting the words flow.

OK, enough chit chat. Signing off to write!

Write on!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Do you follow 'the rules'?

Every blog post, article and tweet I've read lately has focused on the 'Top Three, Five, Ten INFINITE Rules of Writing.'

AVOID prologues, cliches and exclamation marks like the plague!!! Use adverbs SPARINGLY. "ONLY use 'said' for dialogue tags," he SHOUTED adamantly. CUT DOWN on exposition and indulgent, rambling, over the top descriptions. The passive voice is NEVER used. KILL your darlings. DON'T use no double negatives. NO sentence fragments.

And the rules keep going and going and going... Sometimes to the point I end up censoring myself so much that I lose my voice. Not only what I'm trying to convey, but how I say it.

There's no doubt that I will continue to read up on writing, attend workshops and discuss what works--and what doesn't--with my colleagues. But when sitting down to write that first draft, I'll flush the rules from my mind and let the words flow on their own.

The only 3 rules to live by: READ, WRITE, REPEAT.

write on!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow

NW 22nd & Everett, Portland Christmas in February

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the writing's so delightful
And since I've no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Oh, it doesn't show signs of stopping
And ideas keep on a popping
Distractions are turned down low
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Just kidding universe. I'm so over being held captive. Since Portland's not equipped with working shovels or plows, and slipping and sliding to my death is not an option: let it melt, let it melt, let it melt!

I'm grateful for experiencing long hours of creative fun, but I've learned my lesson. No more excuses, no more procrastination. My writing mojo is back, playing with a flexible routine and a promise to embrace my discipline. 

After discussing with my Vancouver author friend the reasons behind avoiding particular writing projects, I realize--and accept--that we all operate on different rhythms.

When I worked full-time, Sundays were my all-day writing hibernation. Now, the actual writing fluctuates. First draft dumps in pen and paper, then I revise on my laptop. Usually I focus on one main project with external and self-imposed deadlines, but I'll play with something else (another genre, audience, or even another creative outlet like doodling) when the main project goes stale. And although most my time is spent at home alone, it's critical that I have social contact in between. A critique group, writing partners, social media and workshops remind me I'm not alone.

And even when it appears that I'm being lazy on the couch, those usually end up being my A-HA moments. That solution to a perceived 'writer's block' that moves the story forward, saves a scene, fixes the plot.

It doesn't matter how you create.

What matters is embracing your own flow, recognizing that it changes depending on the circumstances, and never forcing yourself into someone else's 'way of doing things'. 

Some write alone, with friends, at home, or in the coffee shop. Some days the flow will glide with ease and calm, other days will be rough and bumpy. And that's okay. We can't always control the circumstances, but we can alter our reaction. 

Find your flow and keep moving.

let it flow, let it flow, let it flow!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What are your limits?

from Despair, Inc-Demotivators: says it all with gut busting laughs

We've all heard the expression "the sky's the limit" and even though it means there are no limits, our unconscious still registers that last word: limit.

Why end there? How about instead we say "abundant opportunities."

My light-hearted friend showed me last year how to redefine and reframe to see things anew and open up possibilities. Turns out I was putting myself in a tight box and restricting my capabilities. I don't only write for children and young adults, I write for children of all ages. I'm not only creative when I write or doodle, but I am creative in every new expression, from when I sing while I clean or how I greet strangers on the street.

Now I find myself on auto-pilot translating the meaning behind words spoken without thought. Whether common phrases, limiting beliefs or ingrained ideas.

War on terror; why not Peace with love?
Too good to be true; why not Too good to be false?
When pigs fly; why not When my heart believes?
I have too much on my plate; why not I dig in to a full-filling life?

Piece of cake; why not, well, I'm okay with cake.
Let's not do away with metaphors, idioms or hyperbole. What would be the fun in that? But be aware of what you say and believe to avoid self-imposed limits. Lead a life too damn good to be false.

this post was inspired by my friend & teacher, Kaitlyn Mirison
infinite love,