Saturday, June 30, 2007

Where oh Where Did My Post Go...take 2

I think I've got another MIA post.

Let's see if this one shows up.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Going on vacation did not refresh me.I repeat - it did NOT refresh me.

I want to say it did. I'd like to believe it did. But at eight o'clock on Monday morning, knowing that VBS is tonight and that my kids are riding a weekend long sugar high, I'm thinking I'm not refreshed enough for the week ahead. I'm tired. I'm grumpy.

I'm simply not ready.

Really, by this time in the day we should be at the dining room/homeschool table, bent over school books, writing reports on Booker T. Washington (went to the plantation where he was a slave)and D-day (visited the memorial in Bedford...if you're ever there, go see it!). Instead, I'm listening to ds #3 cry because he doesn't want to do gym, dd encourage her brother in a loud and obnoxious (I can say that, I'm her mom)voice, and ds#1 boss everyone around. DS#2 is busy creating a fantasy world. I'll leave him to it for a while.

I think the kids and I need some focus. Unfortunately, I'm the adult. It's my job to focus everyone. If I had the energy, I might do it.

Whether or not I do remains to be seen.

Writing? Ha! I've still got to finish the proposal. The writing portion is done, but I want to prepare the package. We'll see if that gets out this week.

On a happier note, I'm making steady progress on the book in a month.

How about you?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We're Off to See the Wizard!

Well, not quite. We are, however, heading off into the sunset (or sunrise, as the case may be). A few days of vacation will go a long way in getting rid of kid, mom, and dad grumpies. Of which there seems to be a lot lately. Or so I'm thinking.

When we get home, I've got to mail in a new book idea, finish the manuscript I'm working on and face the unfortunate laundry that vacation always results in. While we're away, I'm going to relax. For me that means polishing up a few writing ideas while the sounds of rural night life dance in the air around me. Somehow the rhythm and pulse of Smith Mountain Lake sooths me, helping me focus on ideas that have been percolating in my suburbanite brain (read that: over-stimulated brain). In the hush of water lapping against earth, the softness of night's silence, I can hear my thoughts again. And find direction where there was only floundering before.

Perhaps that is simply because it is there that I hear Him most clearly...the Spirit's nudge just a little stronger when there aren't so many voices pulling my attention away from it.

Everyone needs a place and a time like that, don't you think? Without it we run, run, run.....full tilt hearing nothing but the cacophony of demands that spring from one job to the next. Home school, writing, house work, vacation Bible school, children's choir, Sunday School. More, more, more. Faster, faster, faster. Like one of those spinning tops - at first making tight, effectives circles, but eventually growing wider in its circuit, sloppier in its form, controlled by momentum that is quickly fading, energy that is fast seeping away.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Now About the Adoption

It's funny that my writing and the adoption process seem to be so closely linked in my mind. They have absolutely nothing to do with each other except for one thing - they're both a lot of work!

We've completed the paper work that's involved with the home study, had a health inspector and fire marshal visit our home, been to the vet to make sure our cats were updated on all their vaccinations, been to animal control to pick up licenses for the cats. Rodney and I have been fingerprinted, had our motor vehicle records scrutinized, filled out financial statement (twice!), purchased and turned in copies of our marriage license and birth certificates for every member of the family (not cheap!). Filled out multi-question self-studies, family history reports for each of us, home safety check-lists. Each of the kids visited the doctor for Hep A vaccines and boosters on their chicken pox vaccination. Rodney and I both have appointments to get physicals which mostly involve drug screening, HIV tests, a tetanus shot and a Hep A vaccination (Hepatitis A is a problem in China).

And this is all before we have our individual meetings with our social worker.

Needless to say, I'm beginning to wonder if there is an end in sight.

Of course, this is how I always feel when I'm writing a book. Will I ever finish? Will there ever be a completed project? What will the end results be? The unknown is a scary but necessary evil in life. We have no choice but to step forward in faith when we feel that God is calling us to do something. Doing so is often uncomfortable, pulling us into unfamiliar territory and forcing us out of our comfort zone. It's there that we grow, becoming stronger as our faith sustains us and carries us through.

Don't let fear keep you from moving toward your goal and dreams. Whatever they may be!

A Book in Month


I'm on deadline. I have well over two months before the book is due, but I want to have it finished by the second week of July. This will give me plenty of time to set the book aside, pass it on to my freelance editor, and then get back to it with fresh eyes. In my opinion those things are necessary for the creation of a clean, well-written book.

If you think it's not possible to write a book in a month, think again. Steeple Hill has changed its word count. Manuscripts need only be 55-60 thousand words. That means two thousand words for thirty days. Piece of cake. Really. I've done this before.

Trust me when I say that if Shirlee McCoy aka Queen of Procrastination can write a book in a month anyone can do it. The key is to stick to the daily goal. Don't go back and reread, don't edit, don't angst over how bad the writing is. Write your two thousand words with the idea that you'll have another month to go back and rework and rewrite.

Remember, a first draft is just that. The idea that a person can write a clean first draft that needs no revising or polishing is a beyond my comprehension. I'm sure there are people out there who can, but I'm not one of them. By forcing myself to finish the first draft quickly, I allow plenty of time for polishing and rewriting. Which is always so much easier than getting the first draft done.

Want to write a book in a month?

Of course you do.

So, I dare you to try.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Feeling Defensive??

I brought my cats to the vet Friday. My kids were with me. As the vet examined Cosmo, he asked one of my kids if school was out for the year. My son said, "we're homeschooled." The vet looked in the cat's mouth, pressed on his belly, and then said, "so, tell me, what are you doing regarding social health?"

I think - social health? Do cats have social health? Do they need special classes? Is there something I'm supposed to be doing that I'm not? Are cats even social??

I scrambled around for an answer, nearly speechless for once and feeling like a parent who's forgotten to bring her kid in for important inoculations. Finally, I said, "Well, we're home with them all day."

The vet glanced up from the cat, nodded sagely and said, "Yes, well that's my point. Your kids are home with you all day. Do they have friends? What do you do to meet their social needs?"

My kids? This was about my kids? I thought he was examining my cats, but apparently not.

Maybe I should have been rude and told the guy it was none of his business, but I just don't have it in me. Besides, it always amuses me to see how quickly people change their mind about my homeschooling when they find out I was trained as a teacher and taught public school for several years. Immediately, I become more than a strange creature with odd ideas about child rearing and become knowledgeable and wise.

If only people knew the truth. :0)

Anyway, in case you're wondering, I took some time to explain exactly how my kids are 'socialized', including all their activities and their friends. I know I didn't need to, but somehow I always feel compelled. Let me prove that what I'm doing is okay. Let me show you that I'm not harming my kids in anyway.

I suppose it's natural to feel defensive when questioned about something personal and close to your heart. I find that I'm the same way about writing. It's very easy to jump to the defensive when someone questions what I've done in a book or a manuscript. Learning to be silent, to listen and to wait are the key to dealing with constructive and not so constructive criticism. By nature, being writers puts us in the spotlight and leaves us vulnerable. It's not easy to put heart and soul on the line. It is even harder to absorb and accept rather than defend when we feel we're being criticized. Unfortunately, it's part of the deal.

Every job has positives and negatives. Writing is no different. To be successful one must be willing to be vulnerable without getting defensive. Sometimes this means basking in the glow of well earned praise. Sometimes it means rising up from the rubble when your words have been knocked down, torn up and trampled into dust.

Like parenting, writing isn't for the faint of heart.

Of course nothing worth while is.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Where Oh Where Did My Post Go?

I'm back from New York and wrote a nice long post about the trip. Unfortunately, it's missing. I don't know why it's missing. I just know it is.

Fortunately, other things aren't missing. Like my kids. They all survived unscathed.

It's always fun to be away from home and always great to be back. Of course, now I must write, write, write. Which means feeling better about my writing. Which is sometimes much harder than it seems.

That's the trouble with what we do. No matter how many books we publish, how many compliments we get, how many rejections we file away, how many contests we fail to final in, writing really comes down to one thing - belief. Belief in self. In one's ability to succeed. Belief in the story, the characters, the plot.

Some days that's easier than others. Sometimes we ride on a high, feeling good about what we're doing and where we're headed. Other times we realize how little we know about our craft and how little talent we have in comparison to the great big pool of talent that exists in the world. Granted there are people who are always riding that high, always convinced they've got the key to success in the tips of their fingers. Personally, I think it's healthier to have a little doubt.

Sometimes, though, I have a lot of doubt.

If you ever have that problem, if you're ever dwelling in the pit of uncertainty, frozen by your conviction that you're not good enough to succeed in this business, take my advice and write anyway. The only cure for the writer's blues is to sit down and do what we love most.

Gotta scoot.

Who knows. Maybe that missing post will show up one day!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

My Editor is Bossy (and several other things I learned in New York)

New York was an interesting and fun experience. I learned a lot. Since I know you are all dying to hear each profound revelation, I will list them all in no particular order:

1. My editor is bossy.... when she's trying to save her authors from being trampled on a subway escalator. Who knew that there were rules regarding which side of the escaltor to ride on? You probably did, but I did not. Thankfully, Melissa was there to save me from certain death by stampede. I'd like to think she saved me because she couldn't stand the thought of losing me as an author (because I'm so talented. snort), but I'm pretty sure she'd have done the same for anyone. She's a great lady. Now that I owe her my life, I may have to stop being so obnoxious to her.

2. My editor doesn't have nearly as many manuscripts cluttering her office as I imagined. Sad, I know. However, truth is truth, and the truth is that I imagined piles of papers stacked to the ceiling. Melissa only had a few stacks of very happy looking manuscripts. They are all being well fed, well watered, and, of course, well read. My husband is going to download pictures. I got Melissa's permission to post eventually you'll get a peak inside an editor's office. Aren't you feeling the thrill? Seriously...doesn't every author want to know what an edtior's desk looks like? Now I know. Which might not be such a good thing. Maybe they'll send goons to threaten me...keep quiet about what you've seen or we'll send dirty laundry gremlins to your house to multiply the dirty clothes that were waiting for you when you got home.

BTW...just an aside...Krista Stroever has the neatest office I have ever seen. This did not surprise me. She's the most terrifyingly organized woman I've ever met. If I didn't like and respect her so much, I'd have to suspect terrible things about her just to make myself feel better. Alas, Krista is a wonderful person and all I can do is wish that I had half the organizational skills she does. Sigh.

3. The cupcakes aren't worth the trip, but the doughnuts are.

4. Broadway Street is much longer than it seems to be.
Walking from 12hundredsomething Broadway to 233 Broadway in 90 degree weather when you've got an appointment with your editor is NOT a good idea.

5. A sea of humanity actually does look like a sea. Waves, wiggles, flow and all.

I'm sure I have more to add, but my children need some mommy TLC, so I must be off.

The book signing was a blast. The cover art on the new historical line is SOOOOOO great. If you're hoping to write for the LI historical line keep those manuscripts heading in to New York.