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On My Mark, Get Set….Here I GO!

8 Jul

Long-ish story, but the short version is that I signed up to be part of a group of people who will share a goal (or goals) that we want to reach in 24 days. I think our 24 days begins on the 15th, but along the way, we will be e-mailed mini-missions that will encourage us to step out of our comfort zones and work toward our goal.

My goal? Get my manuscript edited so that I can publish it on Amazon for the Kindle.

It needs to lose some weight.

The manuscript

I will be a published author by August 10 (I think that’s the end of the 24 days).

For those of you new to the game, my book is called “186 Days: The Marvelous Adventures of the Fabulous Nolens,” and it’s about our 6 months in England with 3 little kids.

Stay tuned!

P.S. I’m a little freaked out just writing that red sentence above.

You’re Putting WHAT In The Closet?

15 Sep

My dream, folks. I’m putting my writing aside for a while because it has morphed into a guilt-infested monkey hanging on my back.

“Oh, no,” I hear you cry, swooning with shock. “Will That Nolen Chick delete her blog – nay, her very existence – off the interwebs now?”

Shocking!

BA HA HAAAA!! Yeah, fat chance of that.

I’ve realized over the last few weeks that writing isn’t fun for me. I feel guilty that I haven’t touched any of my three manuscripts in weeks (memoir), months (mystery), and years (children’s book). I feel guilty that I’m ignoring the multitude of writing-related tweets, e-mails, and Facebook notifications I get daily. I feel guilty that I have books about writing that I keep meaning to read, but somehow never get to. A dream shouldn’t feel like this, so I’m going to shelve it for a while. I’m not giving up on it – I’m just laying it down until it sounds like fun again.

I’ve spent a lot of time & energy recently avoiding writing – what will I do with all of that extra time? I’m going to clean my house. Now before you go wondering if the gypsies have shamed me into this, I assure you they haven’t. I was convicted a couple of weeks ago that I’m a wife first, mom second, and everything else comes after those two things. Part of those top two jobs is getting my house in order – literally.

I don’t live in a pigsty, but there are some things that have been on my to-do list longer than kid #3 has been alive. That’s 6 1/2 years, if you’re keeping track. Like the top of our computer desk. Ick.

There’s a whole other layer of crap just behind this first layer. Plus there’s about 1/2″ of dust up there. It’s embarrassing, so naturally I post it online.

Or the three ginormous boxes of photos that need to be scanned onto one of our external hard drives. Or the box of video tapes that need to be converted to digital. I’ve been telling myself for years that I’ll get around to doing those things someday.

Guess what, amigos? It’s someday.

I’m excited about this.

I’m still going to blog, but now it’s going to be just for grins and giggles. No ulterior motives like building a platform to impress potential publishers or agents. It’s just you and me, kids!

Summer Vacay Is Over…Whew!

20 Aug

Yep, I’ve been busy this summer. I had all 4 kids at home all day, every day. It wasn’t as stressful as previous summers, but I’ve learned in recent years that summer doesn’t equal relaxation for me, nor does it equal productivity. Add in such things as the Olympics and what little productivity I did have petered out. Speaking of the Olympics, I’m just now watching the closing ceremonies…only a week late. Not too bad.

School started last Wednesday, but because it was only half days, it didn’t really count as the end of summer. Today does count, though. Full days of school, baby! I’m at home now with just one kiddo – my little sidekick, Baby Tay.  Her favorite thing, by the way? Singing the alphabet song with the ending, “Now I wonder what you are/No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” Yeah, she’s a piece of work.

I know I’ve said this before. I’ve set goals and missed them, but I’m going to say it again – I’m going to get my memoir manuscript ready to submit by the end of the year. I’m going through the 2nd round of editing and I’m finding it easy to cut large blocks of unnecessary stuff. In addition to the manuscript, I have to get a book proposal package ready to submit, too. I’m tired of carrying this around as an “I’m gonna.” It needs to be an “I did.”

So I know this isn’t my usual stunningly hilarious stuff, but I just wanted y’all to know that I’m back from my summer hiatus. And I’ll leave you with a picture.

Me and Baby Tay enjoying a cuddle on the swing out in the front yard.

What’s On Your Reading List?

10 Jun

I saw a link for an interesting site the other day – I Write Like. You cut and paste a sample of your writing into a little box and their magic elves (or statistical analytic tools) will tell you which famous writers your sample is similar to.

The first time I tried it using this post (the smiley face made out of letters), and my result was that I write like Stephen King. Cool. The second time I cut and pasted my post about vehicle anxiety, it was David Foster Wallace, then I used another post (not sure which one) and got Margaret Atwood. Both Wallace and Atwood are award-winning authors, so it’s not a bad thing that I write like either one.

However, not being satisfied yet, I cut and pasted a huge chunk of my manuscript (the one mined from my blog back in 2006 when we lived in England) and got Cory Doctorow. That name was a little more familiar than Wallace or Atwood, so I decided to check out one of his books. I’m listening to his “Little Brother” right now. It’s a techno-geek young adult novel set in current-day San Francisco. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet – technology and pop culture meet the Patriot Act and massive paranoia follows.

Am-reading. Actually, I’m listening to it.

I’ve also got a book on my Kindle that I bought the other day when Amazon advertised it as the Magic Shining Fabulous Kindle Book of the Day (or whatever they call it). It’s “The Naming” by Alison Croggon and I bought it for a whopping $1.99. From what I have gleaned from reviews, it seems like it’s similar to Robin Hobb books (which I enjoy, but which are also sometimes tedious to get through).

Am-reading. Actually reading this one with my eyeballs.

Those are my two books on my active am-reading list. I’ve got a few more tucked away on a to-read list, but I’m not going to worry about them until I finish one or the other of these two.

Now I want to know – what’s on your list?

On the Angsty-Go-Round

27 Apr

angst/aNG(k)st/

Noun:

  1.  A feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.
  2. A feeling of persistent worry about something trivial.

My paraphrase – freaking out about something that’s not that important.

This is where I am today. I have angst about my blog and my writing career (or lack thereof). This morning as I was wandering through the blogosphere, I started feeling that little tug inside that I dread. It’s the one that’s telling me:

I’m not doing enough. I’m not interacting enough with other bloggers. I’m not writing enough. How am I ever going to convince an agent or editor that I have a platform if I’m not doing all this social media stuff? And why am I not working on my manuscript right now? Shame on me.

I guess that if I were to boil those thoughts down to their essence, it would be: I’m not good enough. It’s sister principle is: God is not enough.

As much fun as wallowing in angst is, there’s no place for it in my life. But that’s easier said than dealt with. Every few weeks or so, I get this way. I start worrying that I’m never going to get published. Then I tell myself that this is all a pipe dream and I need to give it up. But then I remember how much I love the manuscript I’m ignoring, and I vow to finish it, if only for myself. I hear inspirational quotes about how hard writing is, how you have to write for yourself, how you should never give up, and it bolsters my resolve to press on.

When I swing back into the un-angsty parts of this cycle, I’m reminded that nothing is impossible for God. He gently tells me that I don’t need to worry about all of those things, but that I need to just follow Him, seek Him, talk with Him. When I do that, things are good. I feel at peace, despite the fact that I’m not networking on other blogs or editing my manuscript.

But then you know what happens? I get distracted. Although I was never diagnosed as a kid, I’m convinced that I have ADHD. Not the hyperactive aspect, but the lack of focus. My thoughts wander from Him. My heart wanders. And I get all angsty again.

Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

I don’t take this to mean that when I delight myself in the Lord He will grant me my wishes. It means when I follow/seek/talk with Him, my heart will be transformed by these encounters with the Almighty and I will long for the things He wants for me. Which may or may not be writing. And I’m ok with that, because I’ll be off the angsty-go-round.

Photo by jayshou

Twitter is Not the Boss of Me

27 Feb

Darn you, Twitter.

Just when I get my act together and tear myself away from checking Facebook every 3 minutes, I go and get a Twitter account. If you have a problem keeping off Facebook, trying to keep your sanity while having a Twitter account will kill you. I follow 384-ish people on Twitter, most of whom I have never met. I think I actually knew 11 of these people before I followed them. Many of these other 373 people I follow because of their relationship with mom blogs, writing, or publishing. I tell myself that Twitter is good for my platform and I spend a shameful amount of time every day scrolling through “old” posts to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

For those of you not on Twitter, an “old” post is anything over 30 minutes old. This is just my opinion. I’m sure that there is an official Twitter definition of when a post is “old,” but we’re going to go with mine for this blog post today.

Just a little while ago, I had to clear the notification off my smartphone that I had 1843 new Twitter posts. This is just from the time I left home to go work out until after I came home, ate lunch, and showered. So roughly 3 hours. I’m going nuts trying to keep up.

This is how Twitter makes me feel.

And the sad thing? I keep telling myself “I’m building platform. I’m building platform.” In reality, I’m snooping on other people’s (completely public) Twitter conversations, following links to useful and not-so-useful writing sites, and occasionally reading someone’s blog. I have 274 followers as of right now. When I look at my blog stats to see how many people have stopped by to point and laugh at my life, how many do you think came here from Twitter? Five. Or three. Or one. Depends on the day. The vast majority of visitors come from Facebook or have subscribed to get e-mail delivery of my daily bouts of verbal diarrhea.

To those of you who come back day after day: thank you. I am truly thankful that you spend a few moments of your valuable time over in my teeny tiny corner of the internet. Actually, I don’t think I even rank high enough to get my own corner. I just have a little spot. Thanks for coming to my spot.

I have uninstalled the app on my phone that thinks it’s necessary to buzz me every 10 minutes with an updated count of how many new tweets I haven’t read yet. It drives me crazy. I have to climb out of this crazy rabbit hole and get back to my real life. I’m still going to be on Twitter, just on my terms (which I haven’t decided yet). Twitter will not be the boss of me. I’m hoping that I can regain some semblance of balance in my life and that I can actually get this stupid manuscript edited.

I am a writer that Tweets, not a Tweeter that writes. Incidentally, that statement leads me to a whole new post (I’m a writer that blogs, not a blogger that writes), but since it’s not Twitter-centric, I’ll leave it for another day. Like tomorrow, maybe.

I’m Going Into Hiding

20 Feb

Today is President’s Day. Because hubs works for a government facility, he has the day off. The kids are out of school, too. Unlike corporate America, who believes I should buy some furniture to celebrate the births of Washington and Lincoln, I’m going to spend as much of the day in solitary confinement as possible.

Lincoln Memorial

See - just sitting there. Not buying a sofa with a matching loveseat. Image via Wikipedia

I’m sure the fam can survive a few hours without me – honestly, I’m only going to be a mile away. My plan for the day is to plow through the edits of my memoir manuscript. After removing the 337 occurrences of very, really, totally, and marvelous, I’m now working on rewriting all of the “was” sentences. Harder than you might think. I don’t know yet if I’ll go the pen & paper route, or if I’ll do the rewrites directly on my laptop. I did the p & P thing for the first section and it was TOUGH because I had to figure out what in the world I wrote on the paper. But there was something about it that worked, too. I don’t know. It’ll depend on my mood, I suppose.

So my plan is to gather my manuscript and my laptop and I’ll go into hiding for as long as I can stand it. I give it 3 hours. I should probably bring a thermos of coffee. Or a 2 liter of Diet Coke. I can’t bring any snacks – have you tried writing while eating? Not two things that should be done simultaneously.

I’ve been looking forward to this all weekend. Why? Because I’m going to be alone. ALONE. And I can get some work done. I feel like I’m thisclose to getting this bad boy in submission-ready form and I want to be done with it. Not counting the 6 months it took me to write it, I’ve been laboring over this manuscript for 5 years.  “Laboring over” might be too strong a phrase. I’ve been playing at editing it for 5 years. I’m not sick of it (yet), but I need to be finished.

Hopefully my secret writing place will be just what I need to get this puppy finished. I’ll let you know tomorrow.