Monday, November 14, 2011

Stay on Track

Poor little Motivational Monday has been neglected.
But we've been VERY busy, I swear.
Kim finished editing an MS, started a blog (, started a part time day job, chased after her kids, and managed to do all of that while helping her husband with harvest which ran almost four weeks behind schedule and included a potential disaster with their combine.
I also finished editing an MS, sent out a round of submissions (lots of passes and a couple of big requests), finaled in a contest, started a blog ( AND another another MS, and fit all of that in while working full time at the tattoo shop.
And both of us spent the first weekend of the month in Houston at The Story Masters workshop with Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, and Christopher Vogler. It was unbelievably awesome. In fact, we learned so much, I'm pretty sure that's why this post is late. Our brains simply couldn't handle the task.
Did I mention that we both signed up for National Novel Writing Month too?
And I think that's the point for this month. If writing and the career of writing is important to you, you MAKE the time and stay focused on your goals. It's hard, we know. Sometimes it's a total b*tch, but you HAVE to do it. Learn discipline, buy a planner, surround yourself with post its. Whatever it takes to keep you on track.
It also helps to have an amazing critique partner or group who will push you and force you to keep going.
It will all be worth it in the end.
So, with the crazy lives all of us lead, what are the things that keep you moving?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Excuses are like...well, you know

It's been over two months since we posted on the blog, and we apologize! But we have a very reasonable excuse--no, really, we do!--and we hope you continued to stay on task while we were away.

Back in August, after busy summer days faded into busy school days, Vivien and I realized we were...not exactly slacking, but not exactly moving ahead. The post RT high--you know, the "I've learned so much and I'm so excited about this MS, I have to get home and work on it now," thing had faded into, "Eh. Meh. I've still got time to finish editing before submitting."

So, in order to light a fire under are asses, we issued each other a challenge. Spend the month of September editing and submit our fulls to those requested by October 1st.

It really was a challenge for us. We are both business owners and, in addition to being extremely busy with our businesses, we also had to edit 100 pages a week for three weeks straight, then do a final read through the fourth week before submitting.

Did we make it?

Well, yes and no.

Vivien did. *round of applause*


I was almost finished editing when I realized something I couldn't put my finger on it though, so I figured it was just my nerves. I finished editing and submitted to a few agents. Got a few requests. Got rejections, and finally a little feedback from one agent who responded after reading my partial. The verdict--there was something off, and she nailed it on the head.

So, I've spent the month of October re-writing parts of my MS. Even though it seemed daunting at the beginning, I'm glad I made the changes. I have a much stronger story, with stronger characters.

But I'm kicking myself because I KNEW something was off and sent it out anyway. I made an excuse. An excuse I should have never allowed myself.

Now, there are real excuses: I may not have this ready for submission by Nov. 1st, which is when I'd like to start submitting, because it's harvest season. This excuse is totally legit. Totally. It's our busiest time of year. My husband is often working until anywhere from 11 pm to 2 am. I not only help him farm, but I also get the pleasure of running the kids around to their activities and cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry without the help of my husband. The only reason I've come as far as I have over the month of October is because it's rained so much. [If you want to check out my role on the farm, visit my personal blog]

Everyone in our critique group is participating in NaNoWriMo this year. (It's great fun, so be sure to join!) I may not make my goal. My excuse? Not only will I be in Houston for six days for Story Masters (A seminar given by true story masters James Scott Bell, Christopher Vogler, and Donald Maass), I will also be completing a two week training session for my new job.

My excuse is a good one--I'll be gone or working full time for the majority of November, while my husband is still farming. BUT!!! I'm not letting my 'excuse' get in the way of my goal. I will try my hardest to write 50,000 words in the month of November. But if I don't? Well, as long as I know I tried my best, I'll be satisfied.

What I'm not satisfied with is not listening to the warnings I gave myself about my MS before I submitted. Some of the agents I submitted to allow authors to resubmit after revising. Some don't. I blew my chance with a few agents I adore because I made an excuse.

So, be honest. Have you allowed yourself excuses you shouldn't have? What are some legit excuses you've had to make?

Monday, August 1, 2011


I hate summer. Really.
The sun burns my pasty, white skin.
Cut grass makes me sneeze.
I sweat.
My to-do list grows exponentially, which makes me sweat more.
It's hot.
And not "nice" hot, but grueling, miserable, I-want-to-put-ice-cubes-down-my-pants-and-cling-to-the-nearest-fan hot.
On top of all of those things, my lack of drive/energy makes my WIP suffer.
I believe summer is out to get me.
Well, summer, I've got news for you:
And, in order to prove it to you, I will get more wotp this month than I ever have before.
That's right.
I'm not going to let you keep me down. Your oppressive reign is FINISHED.
I urge you all to join my cause to take back the three months we've been robbed of in the past.
What is your greatest monthly writing total? Editing total?
Figure it out, then beat the crap out of it.
Starting today and ending at midnight August 31st.
If you make your goal, reward yourself with something, anything and give summer the one finger salute. (You can point that one finger at the sun. Summer will get the message.)
If you don't make your goal...
Put on a pair of sunglasses. Then, using blush or any other dark makeup like eyeshadow, give yourself a sunburn or tan all around the frames and over your entire face.
The result should look something like this:

If you don't make your goal, you must make a public appearance with your raccoon face on!
Get to work.
Hugs and kisses,

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Are you a Summer Slacker?

I don't know about you all, but my summer months here on the farm are ridiculously busy. Add in the kids' activities and all of the fun to be had, and you get late nights, early mornings, tired children and exhausted parents.

And that is why this Motivational Monday blog is not only coming to you late, it's gonna be short and sweet!

Yesterday my friend, author Stacey Kade (YA Author of The Ghost and the Goth Series - @StaceyKade), retweeted a great quote posted by @Quotes4Writers:

"Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend to them than inspiration." --Ralph Keyes
It's a great quote, and so true! And it made me think about my routine.
Even though I feel like I've been a total slacker lately, I realized I am keeping a routine. I still write or edit daily, unless I'm camping, even if it's only a few hundred words. I'm still setting goals for myself - both daily and weekly - but I've been careful to set my goals within a distance I can easily reach. And when things like wheat harvest pop up a week earlier than normal, I know I have to take a step back and refine my goals in order to stay sane.
So how about you? Have you maintained a routine this summer? Or have you been a slacker?
My only challenge for you this month is to have a fun (and safe!) July, while maintaining some sort of a (reasonable) writing routine. Even if it's only 100 words a few days a week, just do it to keep yourself in the game!
And if you don't, you have to write "SLACKER" across your forehead with eyeliner and post your picture on this blog :-)
Happy Writing!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Looking to the Future

A couple of weekends ago, I attended my college graduation ceremony. I sat in the very back row, behind two very tall people. Even with my two inch heels, I stand no more than 5 feet 2 inches. Needless to say, I didn’t see much.
Luckily for me, the ceremony was short. (No pun intended.)
And the lack of visibility gave me time to reflect on the past three years in which I attended college, babysat full time, began my writing career, raised two children and helped my husband farm.
When I first began school, my plan was to double major, get a great job, and work full time once my children were both school age.
Things sure have changed since then.
About halfway through school, I realized writing is what I really wanted to do. I took a look at the classes I’d taken and figured out which degree I was closest to completing so I could be done with school and focus on writing.
It seemed like a waste, for a small amount of time. But I realized that I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now if I wouldn’t have gone to school. My first re-acquaintance with writing came when I had to take a children’s literature class.
I also wouldn’t be as self-disciplined as I am now if I hadn’t been forced to study. Because really, who wants to spend hours upon hours a week memorizing medical terms and parts of the nervous system?
The bottom line is – my time at school molded me into who I am today.
My motivation to return to school was not only earning a degree so I could be more competitive in the job market – I also wanted to be able to tell my children, “I went to college, so can you.”
When it came to the decision to quit college and focus on my writing…Well, needless to say, that was a tough decision. The writing industry is tough. I knew going in I may never sell my novel. I may never be published.
But I was more motivated to follow my dream than I was to work in a stuffy office for the rest of my life.
So, what motivates you to write? Why did you choose to start your novel?
In the grand scheme of things, are you where you’d thought you’d be by now? Where do you think you’ll be in a year from now?
And as for the short term…What are your goals for this wonderful Motivational Monday?
My challenge for you is twofold.
First, I want you to make a plan. Write down where you want to be next month, in three months, in six months, in a year. Put that paper somewhere you’ll see it every day – on your bathroom mirror, in your planner, on your desk or your fridge.
I want you to know it’s okay if plans change because life is always changing.
I also want you to keep your dreams in sight.
Second, set your goal for the day. And remember it’s the first step toward the big picture.
And if you don’t make your MoMo goal?
Well…the picture shows you what you’ll be suffering – lipstick smeared across your face the next time you go to the grocery. And no, you can’t just run in, get one item, and run out. You must be in there for at least 30 minutes.
So go forth and plan for the future!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Or Suffer the Consequences

Welcome one and all to the Motivational Monday launch party!
(Cue fireworks, confetti, and marching band.)

            We’re so glad you could join us and we can’t wait for the festivities to begin.

            But first…

A trip to the dentist. *groan*

            Everyone HATES going to the dentist. It’s scary, annoying, and possibly excruciating. So we all put it off for as long as we can, but in the end, we put on our grown up panties and head to the office fearful yet determined.

            And what happens if you don’t go?

            Cavities. Tooth decay. Gingivitis. Funk mouth.

            None of which are pleasant and all of which might involve public humiliation.

            (Cue Motivational Monday tie-in.)

            Sometimes getting wotp can be just as uncomfortable and easy to put off. There’s that ever-growing pile of laundry and/or dishes, the moldy contents of your fridge to contend with, those pesky cobwebs hanging from the ceiling that desperately need your attention, and of course those hours upon hours of [insert your current TV obsession] that must be watched pronto.

            And what happens when you put all of those things ahead of writing?

            You don’t write at all. Which is almost as bad as having Funk Mouth.

            So, for our inaugural MoMo challenge, you need to set a writing goal and reach it. Make it tough, but attainable.

            And if you don’t make your goal?


            You must black out one of your front teeth with eyeliner, take a picture of yourself, and post the picture as your profile pic in your choice of online public forums. Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you don’t have one of those profiles (You’re not on facebook?! Hello, it’s 2011!), then you must wear your blacked out tooth to run an errand where people will see your toothless grin.

Here's a fine example:

Post your goal in the comments section and share us with your friends. We will offer encouragement…
            Wait, who am I kidding? We’re not going to offer you any rosy, warm and fuzzy encouragement. That’s not our style.

            We’re going to shove you, push you, and prod you until you meet your goal because it’s what friends do for each other J

            Now, put on the grown up underwear and get to writing!


Monday, April 25, 2011

The Reading Problem

You've all heard it before.
If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write.
To be a better writer, you have to be a better reader.
All writers were readers first.
Writers *must* read, read, READ!
Ok! Shut up already. I get it.
But what happens when you give in to the advice (or compulsion) to read when you should be writing?
I'll tell you what happens.
You pick up a book.
You read.
You like the book.
You discover, thanks to the handy e-reader, that the author has four more books in the series.
"Oh," you say."I must look at those too."
And you do.
And you like them.
And then, the inevitable conclusion, you read them.
You might hear a tiny, meek voice inside your head at this point.
It's soft and barely discernible.
But it's there.
And it says, "Shouldn't you be writing?"
Well, maybe you will, but you just want to finish the chapter you're reading.
(1-2 hours and several chapters later)
"I'll just finish this book and then I'll sit down with my WIP and really get some work done."
(3-4 hours later, part way through the next book)
"What time is it? Darn. I read all the way through my scheduled writing time. Oh well. I'll just work on it tomorrow."
Hey, guess what?
That author also has another trilogy and I've heard it's REALLY good.
The point?
Stop reading!
I don't mean all together, just put the delicious book down for now.
I know, I know. It's really good and I'm sure that author is your favorite and she's amazing and her characters are so awesome and she is a master pacer and she--
Here's the deal.
If you get 500 wotp (in MoMo vernacular that's "words on the page") you can read another chapter.
If you get 1000 wotp, you can read five more chapters.
See how it works?
Then the reading becomes a reward.
Like a cookie when you're mired in yet another diet.
The writing is your diet, the reading is a triple chocolate chip mocha fudge cookie the size of your head.
Now, place the book gently on the shelf, tell it you will see it again soon, and GET TO WORK!
And if you say, "Let me finish this chapter first," I will reach through this screen and snatch the book out of your hand and bash you on the head with it.
All my love,