Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Exciting Update + a Crazy Twist

I actually have some cool news. A few weeks ago, I heard about Madness! Poetry, a children’s poetry competition. I applied by writing a poem based on a prompt, and I was selected to be in the tournament. 64 bracketed “authletes” compete head-to-head throughout the month of March à la NCAA March Madness.

This Sunday, March 5th, I'll be assigned a word and I'll have 36 hours to write a children's poem. My competitor will do the same. Then kids, other poets, and the masses will vote. I am excited and a bit nervous. Either way, it should be fun and challenging. Hooray for children’s poetry!

It looks like I'll be competing against Marileta Robinson in the 1st round. I was just perusing her website, and I came across one of her poems that was published in the February issue of Highlights magazine this year. I was floored--guess who illustrated that poem for the issue? My husband! No joke. Seriously, what are the chances? Talk about a small, small world.

Friday, February 24, 2017

February Update

February has been a good writing month despite the last week being a bit emotionally rocky. I don’t know if it’s postpartum, or just my normal ups and downs, but I’ve been a bit rough, and that’s okay.

Overall, I am super happy with my progress. I am slowly finding ways to make time to get my butt in the chair and write. Mostly, this is between the hours of 10:30PM-3:30AM. It's slow going, but I am improving.

Here are a few things I was able to accomplish this past month:
  • Wrote and submitted 3 poems 
  • Received 2 rejections
  • Posted on the blog each week
  • Attended my online critique group
  • Read 1 book
  • Wrote a flash fiction piece
And here are my goals for the upcoming month:
  • Polish my picture book manuscript
  • Read 4 books
  • Post every week on the blog
  • Submit 3 pieces of work

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Devious Distractions

I’ve been thinking a lot about what distracts me from writing. Hmmm…I guess thinking about what distracts me from writing is also distracting me from writing, but that’s not the point. The exercise showed me that 90% of the time, it is my own internal struggles that keep me from getting my big butt in the chair to write. I came up with 3 main categories of devious distractions.

Unexpected Necessities -10%
1st, the external 10%. These are things that arise that I hadn’t planned but that I have little control over. My 3 month-old decides to  take a 15 minute nap instead of his normal 90 minute nap. My daughter misses the bus and I have to drive her to school. I forgot to pick up milk and bread so I have to schlep all the way to the store. I can’t do much to prevent or avoid these types of situations. But thankfully, these unexpected necessities do not interrupt me too often.

Guilt - 20%
I have the most supportive husband in the world. He is always trying to help me carve out time to read. “I’ll cook dinner tonight. You go write.” Or “I’ll get the baby to sleep. Go write.” But this is what my brain says: “He’s been working hard all day long…how could you make him make dinner?” Or “The baby screaming really has to be tough on him…just go and put the baby to sleep. He couldn’t possibly want to do this…he’s just trying to be nice.”

It’s hard for me to accept that it’s OK for me to just step aside and let John take the reigns. I don’t know why it's so difficult—he really is awesome at doing it all. Logically, I know know I should rejoice in these moments, but it’s just so hard to accept the help. So what do I do to overcome this frustrating internal diversion? Well, for starters, I try to take him up on his offers. I also try to be as supportive and encouraging of his endeavors as his is of mine.

Feeling Blocked/Fear of Failure - 70%
Yeah, this is the big one. When I’m mind-numbingly scrolling through facebook instead of writing? It’s because I feel like I’m not good enough or not in the right head space to write. What about when I’m organizing all my files or making a pretty excel sheet of my writing plans? Well, actually I’m waiting for the muse, and it’s like watching a pot boil. Oh, but what about all the extensive research I do? Yeah, most of that is just to dodge writing.

It is boggling how much time I spend avoiding something that I desperately want to do. But if I never do it, then I will never fail. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Lately I’ve in attacking this problem in a number of ways. For one, I am trying to start submitting my finished work for publication. This past week I have sent out two poems. The feeling of accomplishment of having something submitted has motivated me to write more.

 Another thing that I am doing is having multiple projects going at the same time. If one project is seeming a bit more daunting today, I just pick up anther stick in the fire and work on that. I have probably spent more time writing in 2017 than I have in the last 3 years combined. Its a good feeling.

While I have a ways to go before I find myself able to write for hours and hours on end, I feel like I am making progress. And that’s what it’s all about, right? What distracts you from doing what you want to do?

Friday, February 10, 2017

John's on a Jet

My amazing husband, John, flew up to the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC this weekend. I am super excited for him. Yeah, and maybe a little bit jealous. He loves NYC in the winter and seeing how they just got dumped on, I am sure that he is happily freezing his butt off.

I've watched John over the last few months work so hard to hone is illustrating craft and to prep for the conference. I hope that all his prep pays off and he is able to have an enjoyable time and make some good contacts. I can’t wait to hear about all the things he learns. Perhaps when he gets back and settled, I can convince him to do a guest post here on the blog about the conference.

Until then, you should check out his newly updated pages below.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Oscars Asylum

Have you ever read a creepy book in the dark of night in order to stay awake to feed your 2-month-old? And then have your spouse let out a snore so loud you mistake it for the growl of a monster? So then you react by dropping your book onto your nursing child’s head, causing them to spit out your boob and begin to scream while milk sprays around the room like a fire hose? Uh…me either…

I enjoy reading creepy books, and most of the time they aren’t scary enough to give me the chills. Asylum by Madeleine Roux, however, definitely had the spooky factor. It was interesting because the book as a whole wasn’t my favorite—it could have used another editing pass to tighten some of the prose. There were times when some of the sentences felt clunky and would pull me out of the story. And the ending was a bit befuddled—it felt rushed and slightly unclear--but this will likely resolve a bit more with the subsequent books in the series.

With all that being said, the tension Roux builds while the protagonists are in an old wing of a closed-down asylum are chilling. I actually had to put the book down at 3AM while feeding my son because it got that creepy. For me, that made the book super fun and I was able to forgive the other shortcomings of the book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a fun read. I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series, but I probably won’t be reading it while feeding my son at night.


Every year, the husband and I sit down and try to watch all of best picture Oscar nominees. I’m hoping this year to make it through some of the documentaries too (thanks Ben for the idea). Thus far, we have watched 3 of the nine best picture films: Arrival, La La Land, and Hell or High Water. Overall, none of them knocked it out of the park, but right now, I am rooting for Arrival, just because I’d love to see a good sci-fi film win. I am excited to watch the other 6 films though. The Oscars happen on February 26th so once we’re through them all, I’ll post my predictions.