Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Sarah's Wild Ride

My youngest daughter just exited the operating room for a liver biopsy a little more than an hour ago. Her liver "numbers" spiked unexpectedly and after a few close calls and grace from our transplant team, Sarah headed to Seattle Children's Hospital this afternoon. She's a real trooper and her patience & strength amaze me on a regular basis.

When I discovered she'd be needing this latest biopsy a couple of days ago, I began revisiting the project I need to write but have been avoiding, perhaps intentionally, perhaps not. There's a lot of painful memories embedded within the story I've tentatively entitled, "Sarah's Wild Ride."

It's the most compelling book I've attempted to write and the most daunting. At this point it's a half memoir/half parenting book. I've queried the proposal numerous times and have received a lot of positive feedback but it's perceived as too much of a niche market (parents of seriously ill children, or parents of kids with a liver disease) for any one to take it on.

Understandable in today's market. Still, I believe there is a bigger market for this book than people believe. This story goes well beyond the trials of a family working its way through the diagnosis of a potentially life-threatening ailment and subsequent liver transplant. It goes to the very heart of being a parent and what lengths you'll go to fight for your child's life; the sacrifices you make; and the hard lessons you learn through the process.

It may seem strange that the other book I'm focusing on right now is a somewhat humorous middle-grade novel. I have a lot of stories within me waiting to get out but none more than "Sarah's Wild Ride."

Hopefully, you'll join me for the ride from completing the 1st draft through publication. It's time to stop avoiding the story and getting down to the nitty gritty. Looking forward to sharing the experience with you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

WIP Wednesday:

It's that time of the week where I share my writing update. My entire focus so far this year has been to complete the first draft of my humorous middle-grade novel. It's been awhile since I've finished a novel and I want to get off on the right foot to begin 2015.

The key is to see how different it feels to write a 25-30k word middle-grade novel as opposed to the 80,000+ word YA fantasy novels I've written in the past.

Current word count: 15,850
Word count goal: 25,000
Self-imposed deadline to complete: February 15

I'd love to hear what progress your making in your current WIP. Feel free to share in the comments and happy writing!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Failure of the Most Epic Kind

So I watched the home team complete the most epic choke in Super Bowl history by failing to do the obvious - hand the ball to their running back, Marshawn Lynch. A no-brainer to just about 100% of the football watching world, yet the brilliant coaching minds of the Seahawks decided to run a pass play that seemed doom from conception. Poor decision that cost the team back-to-back championships and their place in the annals of football history. Instead, they'll be remembered for the play they didn't run. The Seahawks aren't the first ones to fail in an epic way.

We've all been there. Done something we regret. Made a choice we've thought better well after the fact. We may have even ruined a friendship, a marriage or a relationship with a child. Perhaps you've burned a bridge with a former employer that haunts you (and your career) to this day. What can we learn from these mental lapses in judgment, both about how we make choices and about ourselves?

As writers we strive to improve with each and every word. If you've felt the pain of rejection, you may have thought of lashing back at an agent or editor who shredded your work. Even in cases where they rejected you with no explanation, you might have felt anger or resentment. It's times like these we need to step back, take a deep breath and really consider our response, if any.

Our stories and characters are like our children. We've created and nurtured them. They're a part of us and we've put our heart and soul within them. It's natural to feel disappointment and I don't advise stuffing your pain in your pocket. The response is everything.

Just like the Seahawks will surely feel the sting of a lost opportunity until training camp begins next summer, they'll have to move beyond that to reach the pinnacle of the football world again. When we decide to consciously hurt someone else or make a financial decision that can prove lethal to our career or family, we learn that the decision itself is only one step in the process. The bigger step may be learning how to move on and restore faith, trust or a broken relationship.

Epic failures don't need to define WHO we are. They paint only one side of our face. The challenge is to use the other colors on the palate of our live to determine what the outcome of that decision will be and, in turn, what our future will look like.

Have you experienced an epic failure in your personal or writing life? How did you overcome it?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Free-For-All: Conference Season

Conference season is in full swing throughout the U.S. While I'll be refocusing my own efforts towards completing projects and revising others, there are some noteworthy conferences and workshops coming up that I'd like to share with you.

April 17-19 - SCBWI Western Washington Spring Conference 
It's the 24th Annual event and as always well worth the time. Held at the Marriott in Redmond Town Center and boasting roundtable critiques and in-depth sessions, it's a great place to meet some of the best people in the world - children's writers!

May 15-16 - NCWA Writers Renewal
This year's keynote speaker is Angela Hunt. If you're a writer interested in the Christian market this is a great place to network and meet other writers on a similar path. Always quality breakout sessions.

May 3-10 - Highlights Foundation: Writing the Unreal
This one's been on my bucket list for a few years and some day I'll get there!
Anne Ursu and Laura Ruby lead this popular Whole Novel workshop for Speculative fiction writers. I've heard nothing but great things about it.

July 13-17 - Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers Workshop
Labeled an "intensive workshop" by the facilitator/host David Greenburg, this workshop is set along the beautiful Oregon coast. Five full days of writing, onsite critique and feedback and in-depth workshop sessions. Two editors and one agent on hand to guide you through the publishing jungle.

July 16-19 - PNWA Conference
This popular conference hosted by the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association celebrates its 60th year. This year's speakers include Andre Dubus III, J.A. Jance and Nancy Kress.

Hope to see you at one of these events! What's on your list for events this year?

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Long Time Coming, or Shaking Off the Blog Cobwebs

A belated welcome to 2015. I don't know about you but I'm ready for big things this year. I've made some lofty goals (mixed in with the attainable ones) and believe this can be a breakthrough writing year.

For regular readers of the blog, thanks for your faithfulness over the past 18+ months where it's lied dormant. It was never my intention to abandon the blog completely but as many of you know life does invade on our writing lives. I made a conscious effort to focus my efforts elsewhere all the time seeking to return here one day.

I'll share some of my 2015 writing goals in a future post. For the time being, let's take a look at what I'll be tackling this year with the blog:

- Dreaming big
I'm ready to dream ENORMOUS dreams this year, how about you? It takes more than dreaming to make for a successful reality. Let's delve into what hard work it involves and challenge each other to be better...and to reach those dreams.

- Commitment to your craft, your characters and yourself
Like most writers, I'm looking to get better with each word I write and every story I complete. As I look to 2015 as a banner year, I also realize how challenging it will be to up my game. At the same time, commitment occurs on many levels within our lives. I'll be focusing on several of those I believe are essential to success.

- Where the Money is in writing (and why I'm looking in that direction myself). Becoming a published writer can mean more than selling a book. Writing is a broad field with many options, some of which I'm exploring this year to supplement my day job income.

- Fostering community. Not only do I look to do that through local groups and other social media, but I really hope to engage readers on this very blog in 2015. It's something I've desired for a long time and am going to do my best to facilitate worthwhile discussions by writing engaging content.

- WIP Wednesdays return. This is simply a brief blog where I detail how well I'm hitting my personal goals and ask you to share as well. It's one way to keep myself accountable.

- Interviews. This will run the gambit from writers of all genres and backgrounds, to editors, agents and other experts in the writing business.

Looking forward to this journey and sharing it with you. So hop back on board. I'm ready to roll.