Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Taste of Empty Nest

I've had an interesting confluence of events this week. My husband and one of my daughters are away on a trip together. My other daughter is busy every day with a training for her school's mentoring program and her job. She'll practically be a roommate that just pops by now and then to raid the fridge.

That leaves only two Bryants at home: me and the dog.


You know what this means? 

It means that I can choose *everything* about my own schedule. When to get up, when to eat (and what!), when to go out, when to sleep, when to shower, when to write . . .EVERYTHING. O'Neill is a very flexible boy. He'll still want to run and walk, but he's happy to let me choose the time. This is literally the fewest limits on my time I can ever remember having, at least as an adult. 

I'm giddy just thinking about it. 

I'd be a lot less happy about it if this were long term, but it's really for about five days, just long enough to indulge myself a little. A *taste* of empty nest, without the feelings of loss because all my birds will come back to roost in a few days. 

I haven't made any super exciting plans. I'll probably stay very close to home most of the time, and WRITE ALL THE WORDS! But, I anticipate enjoying my respite from my regularly scheduled life, just in time for school to start (my first teacher work day is Friday). See you on the flipside!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My Summer in Short Stories

This summer has been all about short stories. That's a real change of pace for me.

I've been pushing myself to put out a novel a year since 2015, when my first novel debuted. The up-side of that has been building my catalogue. I have three novels and a collection of short stories out in my Menopausal Superheroes series now. I've built a bit of a following for the series and am working towards a real career in writing. I'm proud of myself for that.


On the down-side though, I was getting cranky. A book a year is a difficult pace to keep up alongside my family and my teaching work. I was feeling burnt out, and losing my feeling of joy in the work.

So, I decided to slow down. In 2017, I decided, I would not write book 4 of my series, but would give myself a little room to play around in other areas, to take up opportunities I'd been offered and write some new things.

I'm so glad I did! There's a freedom in writing something new that is revitalizing. While I value the opportunities my Menopausal Superheroes have brought me, there are other stories I also long to tell. I can start to feel a little stifled, even if the person putting limits on me is me (by having to work within the universe I created).

So here's what's been going on in my writing life

June: 

  • Finished edits on Friend or Foe short story collection
  • Launched Friend or Foe!
  • Finished edits on Face the Change
  • Revised a short story: Gifts of the Mag-Eyes
  • Began a new short story: untitled, but dealing with witchcraft and a damaged tree
  • Began a new short story: untitled, but dealing with vengeance and evil plants
  • Taught part of a summer course: Writing the Speculative Short Story 
  • Began a novella that might become part of a book bundle with some writer-friends, working title Thursday's Children.
  • Read and reviewed 3 books.
  • Monthly word count: 25,822 new words written: 21,174 revised
July: 
  • Completed, revised, edited "Flygirl's Second Chance" which will come out in August in an anthology called Love Unlimited. It's a wedding story for Jessica and Walter :-)
  • Completed an essay, "Patience, Young Grasshopper", which I'm hoping will be selected for upcoming Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology on Writing for Profit
  • Participated in the Summer Lovin' panel at my local public library with four other area writers
  • Launched Face the Change!
  • Participated in Con-Gregate as a panelist, with a book launch party, a signing, and two readings
  • Wrote a flash fiction story for a prompt contest called Eloise Branches Out. I love prompt writing for the playful no-pressure feeling. 
  • Wrote a short story (working title: Ash to Ashes) for my critique group's upcoming anthology
  • Began a short story for my Shadow Hill series, "The H.O.A."
  • Taught the rest of that summer course: Writing the Speculative Short Story
  • Read and Reviewed 7 books
  • Monthly word count: 44,061 new words written: 30,933 revised
August Plans/In Progress
  • Hoping to finish my novella (first draft)
  • Hoping to plan a local launch party for Face the Change.
  • Will revise Ash to Ashes after receiving critique from my group
  • Hoping to finish H.O.A.
  • Hoping to update my submission tracker and submit all my unpublished work before school starts again
  • Already read 1 of at least 3 books I'll finish this month (one of them is Moby Dick, which is why I think I'll only read 3). 
As summer comes to a close, I'm nearly always overwhelmed with feelings of regret about all the things I didn't get done, so this post is for myself as much as anything: a list of what I accomplished for the days when I'm feeling like I let summer slip by without accomplishing anything. Look at all that stuff! Go me!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

IWSG: Pet Peeves


This week, the Insecure Writer's Support Group is asking: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

In return, I wonder . . .what exactly is a peeve and why do keep them as pets?

Just kidding. Though it really is an odd phrase and I may have to look that up later. I'm a word nerd that way.

For now, though, I'm gonna take the opportunity to kvetch about some things that bug me as a reader, writer, and editor.

Reading:

I'm getting pickier as I get older. Life is too short for books that aren't right for me. There's so much I WANT to read, that I won't put up for long with books that are too much work or fail to give me that immersive experience I crave.

My reading pet peeve list is topped by Basil Exposition. If you don't know Basil, he's a character
from the Austin Powers movie series, making fun of those characters in other stories that exist primary to deliver information the hero needs to move forward. At its worst, this clumsy shoehorning of exposition into dialogue is also called "As you know, Bob."

If anything will make me just put a book down and pick something else to read, that's the one.

The Runner-Up in the Reading Peeve-capades would be poorly written female characters. Actually, weak characterization or "writer convenience" moments are a deal-breaker for me regardless of the gender of said character. 

When it comes to female characters, I take it a little personally, as a woman myself. Plus, it just happens so often that I'm less patient with it. A new writer I'm trying to read is stuck with all my baggage from years of reading weak doormat women who were only there to motivate male characters. I'm unforgiving on this one.

Writing:

When I'm writing, I'm impatient with myself and the world around me a lot of the time. Writing, especially new, first-draft writing, is a joy like nothing else, as exciting to me as taking an expedition to the South Seas. 

So, my pet peeve varies, translating into whatever is stopping me from writing. It might be my day job, a loud person talking, Twitter, exhaustion, illness, my own distraction, or even the people I love. 


Really, I'm always just seeking balance. Trying to get "enough" time for writing, marketing, research, etc. among all the other thing I want out of life, like love, food, exercise, relaxation, and family. That "pet peeve" feeling comes up when I'm out of balance.

Editing:

"I'm not an editor, I just play one alone with my laptop." :-) I only edit myself, not others generally beyond giving critique partner feedback.  So, when I complain about editing, I'm really complaining about myself, the writer. 

Editing might mean a final round of correction/revision on my own or processing suggestions from a hired or assigned editor. 
Either way, I always wonder "what idiot wrote this"? Despite having developed a personal list of watch-words and issues to read through for, there are lazy habits I still fall into. In a recent piece, I realized that I still have a "was" addiction. Really? Have I learned nothing? 

So my pet peeve when editing is find that I made an error that I should know better about. I'm far more patient with others I'm trying to help than I ever am with myself. 

So, how about all you fine folks? What drives you over the edge when you're reading, writing or editing? 
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If you're not already following #IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group), you should really check it out. The monthly blog hop is a panoply of insight into the writing life at all stages of hobby and career. Search the hashtag in your favorite social media venue and you'll find something interesting on the first Wednesday of every month.

Check out this month's co-hosts, too! They volunteer to check out all the posts and make sure all is on the up and up.

Christine Rains
Dolarah @ Book Lover
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor
Yvonne Ventresca
LG Keltner