Friday, December 6, 2013

The Writing Continues....

Though this blog has come to a grinding halt since I had my son and lost regular internet access, my writing attempts continue. This year, I participated in Nanowrimo for the 2nd year in a row. I found that it was easier than last year and I felt that my overall work was much improved. My short story challenge last year (I wrote one short story every day for a month) and my poetry challenge (same thing, but with poetry) helped me improve on plot development and the places where poetry or rhyme was necessary in my story. This year I hope to improve on revision, as I often find it much easier to create something new than to fix the problems of my past work.

I ended up with a 50,000 word novel entitled, "The Selkie Prince," which is a work of children's fiction involving identical twins from California who study abroad at Oxford and get transported to a magical world quite a bit like the Orkney islands North of the Scottish coast. There are selkies, hogboons, trows, talking otters, an evil witch, and an epic battle of good versus evil. This will be the 3rd book I've completed, and the 4th I've attempted. Every time I get just a little bit better.  I am looking forward to 2014 and the new writing challenges and improvements I will make.

I am going to spend the next 6 months revising the book and re-reading some of my favorite children's fiction. I hope to begin queries around June of 2014. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Becoming Immune to Rejection?

Well, the great submissions fest is over. I ended up submitting to only 14 markets. I quickly discovered that out of all my pieces, only about a quarter of them seemed to fit anywhere, and of course, most places do not accept simultaneous submissions.

I have heard from the majority of the markets and was rejected by all of them. It stings a little, like if someone hit you on the hand with a fly-swatter. But surprisingly, it doesn't feel like a I was hit in the face with a 2x4. Maybe I've been rejected enough now that I'm getting used to it, being immune a little. I certainly hope so.

In any case, I hope I am learning to enjoy writing for its own sake more and more. Though it does not appear to be adding much glory or money, it still adds a tremendous value to my life.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Submissions Storm

I am working hard on submitting my poetry and short stories. There are a lot of wonderful contests and markets out there. So far I have submitted to:

Lunch Ticket (Rejected very politely within 24 hours)
The Lucille Clifton Poetry Contest
The Asimov Science Fiction Magazine
New Myths e-zine

All wonderful markets I would recommend submitting your work to. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Goodbye National Poetry Month

Good Morning, Writers!

National Poetry Month is almost over and it's been a lovely trip down poetry lane for me. I ended up with not thirty, but nearly forty new poems that I wrote this month. I also visited a poetry open mic night for the first time at Russo's books in Bakersfield. I really enjoyed listening to the talented local writers and getting to share my own original work. They were an extremely supportive bunch of people. If you have a local poetry group, I highly suggest getting involved! It worked for Tolkien and Lewis.

So with May starting tomorrow, my friends and family have been asking me what new writing challenge I will take on for the next thirty days. I have decided to try for a submission a day for the next 30 days. I will submit poetry and short stories to magazines, books, and contests. I have already submitted to three markets (I couldn't wait) and have already received one rejection, so I'm well on my way to my goal of 30 submissions. In my experience, submissions is a bit of a numbers game- so the more work you get out there, the higher your chances of getting published. and paid.

Happy Submissions, everyone! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

March NaSHOwrimo Writing Challenge

Just a quick update. After the wonderful adventure of Nanowrimo last November, I got bored and decided to invent my own Short Story Writing Month in March- NaShoWrimo.

Maybe someone clever already came up with it, I don't know. Anyway, I have been writing a short story EVERY DAY this month. I am currently on day 22 and it's been a really amazing journey.

Next month is poetry appreciation month, and I need a break, so I plan to scale down and read and write a poem a day. I can't wait! 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Story of Us- Part II

It wasn’t long after we met, that Anthony and I began exchanging emails regularly. I was impressed by how intelligent he sounded and how well thought-out his emails were. When I came to Bakersfield for Christmas, he took me out to Coco’s restaurant and we talked in depth.  I asked him what his “5-Year-Plan” was and it was around this time that he told me about his dream to build his own home on his parent’s property in Lake Isabella.
Lake Isabella, CA Overlooking the family property.
            Unbeknownst to me, Anthony was actually going on a few dates with another girl around the same time, someone his sister had set him up with. He told me about her much, much later, and he says that dating the two of us made it clear who was the better choice for him.
            The flurry of emails continued and whenever I visited my parents in Bakersfield (about once a month), I always made sure to squeeze in a date with Anthony. He also visited me at college, sent me the occasional care package at Cal-Baptist and my dorm mates got to hear about him all the time. Sometime that spring, I read one of his emails and ran down the hall to my friend Laci Dill’s room to announce that I was going to marry Anthony Hughes. Later I decided I was crazy to say such a thing with such little information, but the idea remained lodged in my mind.  
            For Valentine ’s Day that year, he sent me an anatomically correct solid chocolate heart. If I hadn’t already known that he was a huge nerd, that should have clued me in. I really liked how quirky he was and how many interesting facts about medicine and science he knew.
Very Romantic
            One of my favorite early dates with Anthony was a hike he took me on in the Kern Valley. He packed a great picnic lunch for us and I especially noticed how careful he was to walk on the side of the hill where the cliff edge was, keeping me safely on the path. We talked about God and His creation and how biologically complicated that world is. Anthony said that the more he learned about science and the way the world works, the more convinced he was of God’s existence and creativity.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Story of Us- Part 1

My husband and I a few years before our baby was born.
For Christmas this year, I wrote a 75 page summary of my husband and I's courtship and the last 7 years of our marriage. He loved it and I really enjoyed writing it. I will include a few excerpts here.

Bright blue eyes stared into mine and round cheeks grinned up at me as I reached over to wake our son this Christmas morning. By this Christmas of 2012, our son Bennett will be about six months old.
When I hold little Bennett in my arms this holiday season, it is hard to imagine that there was ever a time before he existed. Even harder to imagine is the fact that there was once a time before Anthony and I knew each other- quite a long time (especially for Anthony), in fact, before we met, courted, and became a family.
It was shortly before Christmas of 2002 when we met for the first time on a blind date to the Yule. Our mutual friend, Jennifer, was setting up my sister Carolyn and one of our friends, Becka, up on dates to the Yule. Then she asked if anyone else wanted a date.
Part of me didn’t want to volunteer, because it would probably be awkward and I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go, but the adventurous part of me shut up the sensible part and I asked Jennifer to set me, up, too. 
A few weeks later she told me that I would be going with a 26-year old man, a physical therapist named Anthony who she described as hard-working, “obsessed” with physical fitness, and gentlemanly. She also produced a fuzzy picture of a nondescript, short, dark-haired young man.
He looks nice, but it will probably be nothing, I told myself. Don’t get too excited. He’s way too old for you (I was 19 at the time) and will probably think you are like an irritating little sister.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Bucolic Life.

Most of my life sounds bucolic when I put it down on paper. I spent last weekend helping my husband work on cabinets for the house he is building us, carrying branches up to the grind pile with my baby and my dog, and collecting pine cones for our out-door fire pit.

A few months ago, a friendly neighborhood tortoise wandered up our hill, thoroughly surprising all of us. I hope he will migrate across our property on a yearly basis. 

During the week-days, I stay at my parent's house with the baby. My parents have high-speed internet and cable which is wonderful, and they have a house-cleaner and a gardener who come regularly, so I don't even have very many chores to do except for taking out the trash, keeping my areas picked up, and making dinner for everyone.

Okay, it doesn't just sound bucolic- it IS bucolic. Too bad I don't have a sheep to round out the picture. The cat will have to do.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Writing Projects

I have three different writing projects I'm working on right now and I am enjoying myself immensely.

You know those scenes in detective shows where the genius detective looks at the crime scene and he can just "see" how it all fits together and then wows and amazes the police force?

That's how I feel sometimes when I'm revising my writing and the writing of others. Like it's all a Rubik's cube and I'm one of those people who can see all the answers.

My primary project I'm working on is my Song of Three Manuscript. I was a little stuck for a while, but then I purchased fancy pens, highlighters, post-its, and a cute 3-ring binder to put the hard copy in. Then I tentatively opened the binder and started highlighting- I was soon in a happy rhythm!

My second project is actually a book that my father wrote on preaching. He is an incredibly gifted preacher and he teaches preaching classes at the Baptist Seminary. He finished the book a few years ago and now that I am all into revising, I asked him if I could have a go at it. SO MUCH FUN! More highlighting, paragraph moving, and frantic note-writing!

My third project is also for my father. I interviewed my paternal grandmother at Christmas about my father's birth. He was an Rh Factor baby in a time when that was a potential death sentence for a baby and possibly the mother. His survival was a miracle and for his 60th birthday this year, I am going to write it all out for him.

Can you relate to this? When you write or revise, do you sometimes hear the angels singing and your heart pitter-pattering joyously? Or do you think I'm a little crazy?

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Do you know what the worst part of being a new parent is?


I wasn’t a fearful person before I had Bennett. I always figured that the worst that could happen to me would be dying, and if I died, there would be some sad people, sure, and I wouldn’t want to be them, but I would have lived my life well and would have had no regrets. I would wake up in heaven and be with Jesus and all would be well.

Now I have a new worst fear: That Bennett will die and that it will be ALL MY FAULT. Every time I hear about a parent whose kid died in some terrible, preventable way (which has been a lot this week, for some reason), I just know I’m going to be next. At night, I wake up and stare at him while he sleeps just to make sure he is still breathing. Having his car seat turned away from me makes me crazy because I can’t see his face; I just have to believe that I really did strap him in there and put him in safely before I started driving. I have actually pulled over and stopped the car to double-check that he is breathing.

I have read too many articles on the internet from/about moms whose babies died and it just makes me crazy. I just KNOW I will be the mom who lets furniture fall on her baby or leaves him in the car or drives over him in the driveway or puts his car seat on the top of the shopping cart, or (and this makes me super-crazy) something I haven’t even thought of!

And it’s only going to get worse. Eventually, Bennett will go to kindergarten, then elementary school, then middle school, then HIGH SCHOOL. Now I have to worry about shooters coming into his school and traumatizing or killing him. Can’t I just keep him in a giant crate?

My husband in his infinite wisdom reminds me that we don’t actually KNOW anyone who had a child die, so it’s probably quite rare. In fact, the vast majority of us live to adulthood, so the odds are in Bennett’s favor. Somehow it seems like if I can just worry about him enough, nothing bad will happen to him, as if the power of my worry could change the world. It’s illogical and crazy, but then, so is parenting. When do you stop worrying about your child dying? I am concerned that the answer is NEVER.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

We've Got Each Udder...

In high school I was a chorus member in the musical, "Damn Yankees." One scene takes place in "Limbo," a purgatory sort of place where Lola and Joe are banished after they displease "Mr. Applegate" (AKA Lucifer).

Our "Limbo" was not this cool.
As a chorus member, my job was to lurch around in a sort of depressing Congo line leaning on other chorus members as fog swirled around us and the stage was illuminated in red light. It was supposed to be sort of other-worldly, but that effect might have been lost by our cast's inability not to cough and sputter every time we breathed in the fog and our inability to be cool about having to lean against people of the opposite gender. We probably looked less like these cavalier doomed souls wandering through purgatory and more like tuberculosis ridden zombies with a terror of cooties.

Cast Member 1: (whispers)Stop touching me!

Cast Member 2: You stop touching me!
*cough cough*

Cast Member 3: (whispers)The director says we all have to touch each other. But get off my foot!
*cough cough cough*

While we lurched around, Joe and Lola sang a song called, "Two Lost Souls," which contains the brilliant rhymes, "fussin' and us'n" and of course, "rudder, and each udder."

Whenever I think of the word, "Limbo," it reminds me of "Damn Yankees." 

 I'm in Limbo right now. But not necessarily in a bad way. Since Bennett was born 6 months ago, my husband and I have been living in my parent's house while he goes to work during the day and builds our house an hour away during the evenings. This literally leaves me home alone all day with the baby.

On the weekends, we stay in the trailer on our family property and Bennett and I go back and forth between my in-laws house (which is warm and spacious, but not private and has no internet), and the trailer (which is private and has internet, but is cold, grimy, and cramped). 

I love Bennett- he is a lovely baby and I am so grateful for the chance to stay home with him. But I do feel like I'm in Limbo. It's not my house, so even though I'm very welcome with my parents, I can't really do things the way I would do them in my house. I have made friends with other local mommies and have been to MANY playdates- but I don't want to get too attached because once the house is done, I'll be gone. Plus, we are constantly moving back and forth. I dread the weekends because of all the stuff we have to transport back and forth in addition to just the stress of transporting the baby.

My church is an hour away so I can't really get involved there, either. .

I live in a sort of homeless, jobless, baby-loving world.

The good thing is, I have creative energy flowing from my finger-tips. I have everything I ever wanted as far as time and energy are concerned.

So I am trying to use as much time as I can to read and to write and to study writing and to bake and of course, to play with Bennett. It's really a very nice sort of Limbo to be in.

As the song goes, " We ain't fussin'- cuz we got "us'n."
Really? How do lyrics like that even see the light of day?