Saturday, January 26, 2008

Just When I Thought All Was Dandy...

I think I mentioned in my last post how I'd been down with the cruddies. Spent over a week fighting various cold and sinus symptoms, while at the same time not getting any writing done. Thought I was on the mend, slowly working my way back to energy and health, when a burning sore throat began Thursday evening. Then the aches started. Couldn't sleep through the night and awoke to misery Friday.

Hubby was my hero. He stayed home from work, taking care of the girls (and me). He ferried the oldest to and from preschool and also did some grocery shopping to boot (not his forte, but we can live on hot dogs and Frosted Flakes for a few days...). I couldn't have expected more out of him.

I spent the day on the couch, in and out of sleep. Finally made it to the doctor mid-afternoon, where both strep and flu tests came back negative. (I'd never had a flu test done... they stick a swab up your nose and twist. Ugh. Very unnatural, if you ask me.) But he gave me two medicines anyway; one for chest and head congestion, the other for body aches. My first doses along with a full night's sleep gave me the boost I needed to get back on my feet again. I'm moving slowly but, as hubby went back to work today, I can tend to my daughters' basic needs.

I'm sad no writing has been done. Before the ickies got me I had idea after idea boppin' around in my noggin. I think they're still there somewhere, but I'll have to unearth them from the snot and lethargy. If I can get enough energy up to make the house neat and functional again, I should be able to sit back at the computer and get some things accomplished. It goes back to my need for balance - if my house is out of whack I can't get any writing done. Make sense?

What's worse: My down days haven't stopped editors from rejecting my work. I've gotten two rejections via e-mail, and one through the mail. The letter response was from Guideposts and it might quite possibly be the nicest I've received. Gives me hope for both the article and future submissions to the publication. One e-mail reponse was very generic, just as you'd expect; the other quite pleasant. The editor said she liked my work but they didn't use any freelancers for the category my article would have fallen under. But, she's going to keep my info on file for the future. (Do you think that's true, or were they just words?) I, just a little bit ago, e-mailed her again, asking if there are any voids they need filled within their publication. Perhaps, if I build a rapport with her, I can still get something printed. Eh?

Anyway, just a long, winding blog as I gather my thoughts. Hope all are well and that you're succeeding in all your writing endeavors. Until next time...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

So This meme Thing...

Yipes, I am so far behind. I've been *sneeze* sickly for the last *cough-wheeze* week and a half. I've not been in front of the computer in something like seven days and criminy! I've got a lot of catching up to do.

I've been tagged. Twice! Both Melanie and Susan got me (I feel so flippin' special!) on this meme - me? me! - thing, Roar for Powerful Words. Watch out... I'm a writer, hear me roar! I'm to share three tips for my fellow writers and tag five others. So without further ado...

1) Have confidence in yourself. Know you're worthy of the job you set out to do. You have the know-how, you have the discipline - so be sure of yourself (and your written voice) and you'll accomplish the goal you set out to attain.

***I interrupt this blog post for a potty break. Er, not mine, though... Natalie, who's 2 and is supposed to be napping, just called me upstairs to see she'd actually pottied in her little Safety 1st toilet... All on her very own. Whoo!***

2) Seek out other writers for support. We can gather encouragement all day long from friends and family members, but it takes help and reinforcement from other writers - who go through exactly what you do - to really spread your wings. A fabulous resource is the forums board over at Absolute Write (AW). Questions will be answered, fun will be had, and all the encouragement you can handle will spill forth. Check it out here.

3) Set monthly goals. You may exceed them - or you may not reach them all - but once you plan out some things you'd like to see happen, you'll feel capable and accomplished. I did it for the first time this month. Seeing a list of writing goals helped start the ball rolling and I dove in head first. I've not touched two or three things on my list, but I attacked the other two or three items with a ferocity I didn't know was in me. And I feel so great about those things that I won't sweat the others. I've got February ahead of me!

I hope these tips will prove worthy (she said humbly). Best of luck!

I tag:

Stacey over at FlibbetyGibbet
Janet, who runs The Walrus Said

Oh! Something was mentioned of an award? Gee, I never win anything. But here she is:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Freelancing is Fun!

I'm really getting the hang of this freelancing stuff. Been submitting queries and full submissions like mad the last week, and the ideas keep coming. I just feel so good about this year and all the possibilities!

I'd just sent out an e-mail query to All You (minutes ago) and, when I returned to my inbox, I had a full request for another article I'd queried last week. What a high!

I've also been sending e-mails, inquiring of web-content and blogger jobs. I got word from one of the sites, and you're lookin' at (you know what I mean) a new edition to Type-A Mom online. You can visit here to see my first publication. 'Tis exciting! I'll be focusing on the topics of Toddlers and Preschoolers, since I have one of each. Got a couple articles in the thinking stage right now; hopefully I can get those done within the week.

All it takes, guys, is faith and perseverance. You've got to believe in your skills as a writer, then get to work and start submitting. Onward, gang!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Calling All Erma Bombeck Wannabes

I'm so stoked! I was just visiting my friend Stacey's blog, Flibbety Gibbet, and ran across news about a fantastic writing contest. It's the annual Erma Bombeck Writing Competition!

Adored the world over and locked into history as one of the greatest columnists ever (in my mind), Erma inspired many in the ways of humor writing. I know she's who I try to emulate with my own motherhood-themed essays and quarterly column.

The guidelines for this competition are awesomely ideal, down to the requested word count, which meets my own average count for such pieces. The categories are humor and human interest. We can submit just one entry (so make it your best, people), and it must be previously unpublished. No entry fee, no age limits, yada yada. Click on the above link to see all the rules.

I'm gonna get to work on this. My mind is already working on a topic for the humor category... We have until February 17th, folks. Let's get to writin'! Good luck!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

On The Road (to writing) Again

The last few days have been spent stressed and worried about issues at home. Today's a little less hectic and I'm getting back into the groove. I've been searching freelance jobs online and have, along with one last week, submitted two e-mail applications for paid blogging and/or freelance positions. I wait for responses ever-so-patiently.

Still working on my own articles; one is ready to send via snail mail, as soon as my replacement ink cartridge gets here, and another is halfway done, market selected (if I can get their page to come up without error, as it has for a few days now).

I've figured out my plan of action for my next column, as well as gotten official word that this month's is coming out next week. I can't wait to see it! Also thinking about my proposal for a second, unrelated column, which I hope to submit to the appropriate people in the next week.

Haven't looked at the Work In Progress (WIP) for about a week... but still have, what?, two-ish/three weeks in the month? Still time for that.

Whew! I'm digging this. I love throwing myself into the thick of it, trying to get set up with as much work (and success) as possible!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Tweakin' The Goals

Is anyone getting tired of talk about goals yet? I'm almost wearing myself out...

The forums at, which I've been a part of since September, prove to be an unending network of supportive friends and colleagues. They also serve to push me (and really, all of us collectively) to greater heights with writing. There's a particular
thread that's purpose is to note monthly goals, thus holding us accountable for what we accomplish within a (roughly) thirty day time frame. Up until now I've been too intimidated (and scared) to post there, but I got a wild hair last night and set myself up for some things I want to do in January. They are:

1) Add 10k (or more) words to my WIP
2) Brainstorm an idea for my next column (it's quarterly and not due 'til March-ish)

3) Query another local paper about a column similar to the one I already write
4) Submit to at least two anthologies (ie. Chicken Soup and the like)
5) Submit to at least three magazines

Is it common for writers to have so much on their plate? I feel like maybe I'm setting myself up to do too much, but I really do want to chase after all these dreams. And there won't be any better time, right?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Word Count Goal

From the get-go I've figured I'd be done with my novel when I was simply done telling the story. (Sounds obvious, I know.) But I didn't have any idea how long a manuscript that would make. So I recently broke down and did a rough outline for the remainder of the WIP (that's work in progress, for any visitors not familiar with writerly jargon), coming up with twenty-some-odd chapters. Decent, but not a substantial thing to base your work by, since there are no standards for number of chapters and the lengths of those chapters. Seems like most novelists instead shoot toward a particular word count. Tonight I've decided to set a total word count goal for myself. I came to this number by using the rule I've heard is common among publishers: they figure 250 words per typed page and multiply that by your total number of pages. So if I shoot for 250 words on 250 pages (only 100 to go!), that gives me 62,500 words. That fits about right (and I'm thinking it's do-able!), according to these guidelines for word count someone on AW gave me:

Epic: 200,ooo+
Novel: 60k +
Novella: 17,500-60k
Novelette: 7500-17,500
Short Story: 2000-7500
Flash Fiction: <2000

It feels good. Laying this tangible goal out in front of me makes it easier to plow ahead. And here I go...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Routine Is Key

I'm a mom. I'm a writer. Sometimes I have trouble juggling the two. I've known I'm not the only one, but it helps to see in writing that another knows exactly what I go through.

Michelle Tune from over at Writing the Cyber Highway directed me to a great article; I've just finished reading The Mother-Writer: Two Full-Time Jobs by Rebecca Laffar-Smith. In it she gives advice on how to stay sane, keep your priorities in check, and be productive at the same time.

Developing a routine is the first thing Rebecca mentions, and oh, how important it is. Not only is routine necessary to get things done for ourselves, our kids need it to thrive. And if we give our kids the structure they crave, everything else will fall into place. I've found that if I give my daughters the time and attention they want/need (which doesn't mean I have to forsake my own needs all the time - there's a happy medium), they'll be that much more likely to entertain themselves during the time I use to get my own things done.

The routine is pretty well set in my home. Meals, preschool, naps, bath; those basics all fall around the same time each day. Chores filter in accordingly, as well as quality time with my girls. Typically I get the most writing done during favorite morning cartoons, while the oldest is at preschool and the youngest is napping, and in the evenings after their bedtime. I've done some tweaking and fine-tuning the last several weeks, and I think everything works more smoothly for the lot of us.

Whether you're a mom (or dad) or not, what routine do you have?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Start Of A New Year, A Day Like Any Other

My day was filled with typical things: fixing meals for and playing with my girls, chores around the house, and a fabulous massage from Wentworth Miller. Well... the last may have been a mere figment of my imagination. (Ahh, Wentworth...) But as this new year began I was bustling around, doing my usual routine. Kind of a boring way to ring in 2008. 'Tis okay with me, though. Having accomplished a lot today makes me feel good about the year ahead.

And yet, there's still so much more to do on this, the first day of 2008. I've four (okay, five) loads of laundry to fold. I want to finish a little work on the WIP tonight. A hot bath beckons to me, as well as a book, a couple magazines, and a bottle of sparkling grape juice I never got to last night. And isn't there bound to be a rerun of CSI or Law & Order: SVU on tonight? Hmm, what to do? (Hubby's gone on a ski trip, the girls are in bed early, and I just can't choose what to do with the time to myself!)

High on my list of goals for '08 is keeping my priorities straight. I've posted before about finding balance in life, with my writing, my family/our home, and my own needs. I feel like I've gotten a good handle on it, and I hope I can keep it up. My days go so much better when I put equal amounts of time into each of these things; I feel so hopeless and lazy if I don't do a lick of housework or writing, but if I can somehow squeeze both in I feel like the Queen of the World. (Or at least Queen of the Lake.) And I'm bound to be more patient and have more energy for the things my family and household require if I've sneaked (come on, you know that's proper usage of the word) a few minutes to myself. (I'm only locking myself in the Peace and Quiet closet for half an hour a day, really...) Balance - when found - is the best thing for a mom. Or woman. Or moman.
Of course, I want to freelance at a higher level than I have before. And I'll be dadgum if I don't finish my WIP through the course of the year (hopefully sooner rather than later). I plan to seek representation, too.
Should be a fantastic year! I can't wait to see what it brings. May you all be successful and prosperous.