Illinois

I’m officially an Illinois author!

I have a couple of interesting announcements for you today! First of all, I have been added to the Illinois State Library’s official list of Illinois Authors. You can find my listing among those of other writing Illinoisans, including Sherwood Anderson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Earnest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, Carl Sandburg, and more!

Illinois Reads

I have also become an official Illinois Reads Ambassador. Which, honestly, doesn’t mean a whole lot– other than the fact that I will be receiving marketing materials from them to share. So, you might be hearing more from me about Illinois Reads programs and Illinois authors in general in the future.  Continue reading “I’m officially an Illinois author!”

Education, Employment

If you don’t ask, the answer is “no.”

Creative writing class-fine arts center (40269...
Creative writing class-fine arts center (402690951) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two years ago, I took a full-time job working as a civil servant in an academic department at a state university. I’m a media manager, writing the occasional news story about my department, editing the department newsletter, liaising with textbook reps, and doing all sorts of tedious work (like putting together course evaluation packets) that have nothing to do with anything I went to college for. It’s not exactly my dream job, but it allows me the flexibility I need to be able to pursue my dream career, which is writing.

Prior to taking this job, I worked as an adjunct instructor at a state technical college. It’s a typical career path for many in my situation, but I soon learned that it was not conducive to writing. Sure, I only spent a couple of hours in the classroom each week and was able to work at home the rest of the time. But, I spent many of those long hours at home grading papers, reading basic essays written by students who really did not want to write them. There was a lot of drudge work involved for very little pay, and it left very little time for my own writing pursuits. Continue reading “If you don’t ask, the answer is “no.””

Memoir

Exploring my writing roots at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning

A picture of my Grandma Webster
I dug all through my digital photo albums looking for a picture of Grandma Webster, and this is the only one I could find. I need to remedy that!

Have I ever told you about my writing roots? I feel like I haven’t, and that’s odd, because you would think that would be a natural topic of discussion on a writing blog, right? At any rate, storytelling seems to be embedded in my genes, as much as my early graying hair and the extra fat that I tend to carry around in my gut. Those are a few of the things I get from my mom’s side (along with some good things, too, don’t get me wrong.) But, the storytelling gene runs strong on my dad’s side of the family.

My dad’s paternal grandfather – my great grandfather – Ralph Webster, is a bit of a legend in our family. It is said that he could pick up any musical instrument and hear any song one time and play the song on that instrument. The accordion was his chosen instrument, but his voice was a major talent as well; one that he often put to good use spinning yarns for anyone who cared to listen.

Oral storytelling is a popular pastime in that branch of my family tree. My father is no exception. Many a family wedding photo has captured my dad gesticulating largely as he tells one of his stories that never fail to hold his audience in thrall. Not only does he tell fabulous stories of the hilarity that seems to ensue in his daily life, but he is also a connoisseur of family history. His brain is a magical treasure trove of stories that beg to be written down for posterity, but he’s not one to spend time sitting down to write. Continue reading “Exploring my writing roots at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning”

Demons of the Night, NaNoWriMo, Novel Writing, Valley of the Bees

It’s time to gear up for #NaNoWriMo 2016!

It’s that time of year again, writing friends! Time to prep for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November! This year, I am doing it, and I am doing it right. Anyway, that’s the plan!

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participant

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to do over this next month to prepare. My writing plans for October include: Continue reading “It’s time to gear up for #NaNoWriMo 2016!”

Novel Writing, Valley of the Bees

Planning the final book in a series

A friend of mine is sketching out some ideas for the cover of With Envy Stung: Valley of the Bees #1. What do you think?
A friend of mine is sketching out some ideas for the cover of With Envy Stung: Valley of the Bees #1. What do you think?

I don’t remember having this much trouble writing the outlines for books one and two. I’ve made a list of all of the loose ends that need tied up, and now I am trying to figure out how to tie them together. It’s getting very complicated!

I thought I was ready to publish book one, but as I play with all of these loose ends, I think maybe I’m not ready after all. What if I need something to happen in book three that won’t work due to something I wrote in book one? I won’t be able to go back and revise it once it’s published!

Maybe I need to at least have a first draft of book three before I publish book one. I want to start my pre-launch of book one, but what if I don’t have it ready in time? What if I think it’s done, but it’s not? I have thought it was done many times throughout the process, only to find that it still needed more work.

What if, what if, what if? Sometimes – a lot of times – writing is just a whole lot of “what ifs!” Continue reading “Planning the final book in a series”

Creative Nonfiction, Essays, Publishing

How to know when you’ve “made it” as a writer

Hitting a writing milestone is one of the greatest feelings for a writer, especially when you meet your own self-imposed deadlines early. This week, I finished writing book two of my Valley of the Bees novel series and am now working on my second draft (my goal was to finish the rough draft by the end of March). I also just ordered the second proof of an essay collection that I am editing, titled, As Good as a Feast: Essays on Enough. Once I have reviewed this second proof, the book should be ready to go to print!

As Good as a Feast - Print Cover Image

Yesterday, an article popped up in my newsfeed. The title caught my eye, but I decided not to read it. The topic was on how to know when you’ve “made it” as a writer. I didn’t need to read it because I feel like I have already made it. Continue reading “How to know when you’ve “made it” as a writer”

Novel Writing, Writers on Writing

Setting goals and reaching them late… one way or another

I always plan to write over winter break, but somehow it never happens. I work at a University that closes for almost two whole weeks the end of December. Perfect time to get some writing done, right? Apparently not!

So then January came along, and I buckled in and started writing regularly. I have been scheduling it into my day, but not giving myself too much grief if I occasionally get off track. And I must say, it has been going pretty well for me. I am writing at least three days a week (while working a full-time job and single-momming two rowdy boys in the process) and hacking out the first draft of book two of my Valley of the Bees series a few pages (and sometimes a few sentences) at a time.

My goal was 20,000 words by the end of January. Of course, that didn’t happen, but I did get close. And today – three days into February – I ALMOST made it finally. Of course, I typed the final word of the chapter I was working on, looked down at my word count, and saw this:

19,999 words toward my 20,000 word goal. Seriously?
19,999 words toward my 20,000 word goal. Seriously?

Of course! I was one word shy of my goal! Seriously? Continue reading “Setting goals and reaching them late… one way or another”

Novel Writing, Writers on Writing

Learning a bit more and getting a bit better each day

Basic writing
Basic writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, I blogged about how I have used outlines to help me write the first two books in my upcoming Valley of the Bees trilogy. Today, I would like to talk a bit about what I am doing different while writing book II.

As I mentioned yesterday, I wrote book I, With Envy Stung, in a rush. I pushed myself to write a chapter each and every day over a 16-day period. This left me with some extremely light chapters. There was no set-up or transitions for any of these chapters. Instead, I just jumped right into the action and/or dialog and got right to it. Continue reading “Learning a bit more and getting a bit better each day”

Writing Prompts

Wednesday Writing Prompt: If money were no object

For this week’s Wednesday writing prompt, I came up with one of my own. Here’s your writing prompt for the week:

If money were no object…

And my shot at it:

If money were no object, I would buy a big old Victorian house with a wraparound porch and a wooden deck off the back overlooking the woods. Maybe there would be a lazy stream ambling through the woods, with all manner of wildlife to watch from the deck.

I would only need a bedroom, a sitting room, and a bathroom for myself (for some reason, I am imagining this happening after my kids have grown up and moved on) and my cat. We would live at the top of the house, and I would turn the downstairs into a sleepy little bookshop/café. Money would be no object, so I would be happy for it to not be a busy business. In fact, if it were too busy, that would defeat the purpose of my master plan.

In the morning, I would get up and cook whatever baked concoction I was in the mood for at that day. (As I write this, I have a blackberry lemon loaf in the oven. I hate to cook but love to bake!) I wouldn’t need to make much since my shop isn’t that busy. Who wants to spend that much time in the kitchen anyway?

Blackberry Lemon Loaf
I can’t make just one loaf when I own two loaf pans. Where’s the sense in that?

I’d get the espresso bar cranked up and ready to go for my morning rush and then chat with my neighbors as they stop in to get their morning cups on their way to work. On the weekends, my good friends and neighbors would get their cups and stay, lounging around in the giant stuffed couches and arm chairs that are scattered about the place. Continue reading “Wednesday Writing Prompt: If money were no object”

Essays, Writing Prompts

Call for submissions: As Good as a Feast

I am currently seeking submissions for an essay/poetry anthology that I am compiling titled, “As Good as a Feast.” I will be paying for up to ten of the essays that will appear in this collection. Any additional accepted submissions will still be eligible for publication in the anthology. However, there will be no monetary compensation for these.

typewriter

I am currently accepting submissions via eLance through July 25, 2015. If you miss this deadline, you may still submit via the Elderfly Press website through August 30, 2015. However, monetary compensation is available only for those essays submitted via eLance.

Submission Requirements

Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie book series will no doubt be familiar with the expression, “Enough is as good as a feast.” Ma Ingalls often uttered this phrase as a reminder to her children that as long as they had “enough,” they had all they needed. Continue reading “Call for submissions: As Good as a Feast”