A Wild Start to September—CoronaLife Day 537

Today (Wednesday), I awoke to an alarm for the first time since school ended in June. One of the perks of having an older child is that I don’t need to get up with her in the summer. She can get herself up and make herself breakfast. So I have not set my alarm for a couple of months.

This morning I did, and I didn’t care for it. Too dark out. But I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed, downed a fruit cup, and was off to the races.

Setting up for the teacher’s breakfast to welcome them back to school.

Running home to feed my broken-ankled child and myself breakfast.

Going back to school to clean up after breakfast.

Coming home and going for my 2.5 mile daily walk before the bad weather set in.

Vacuuming most of the house.

Running to the store for grocery pickup, then unpacking and putting it all away.

Finishing vacuuming the house.

Making and eating dinner.

I finally got to sit down and relax and…

Tornado warning! Tornado warning extended! Flash flood watch! Tornado-in-immediate-area-take-shelter-now-did-you-not-get-the-first-two-warnings?!

So, some time in our under-the-stairs closet, since we have no basement.

Lots of texting with my folks, who were alternately hiding in their crawlspace and sweeping water that was coming in from their patio out the garage.

The worst has passed, although it is still raining, so the flood watch is still in effect.

What a wild way to welcome in September!

In other news, I now only have 2 chapters of my genealogy book to proofread and index. My daughter hopefully will be off her crutches tomorrow. And Zippy the fish is still alive, but I am just waiting for him to pass, as he is not looking or acting well at all.

The Best of The Goose’s Quill 2018

I always enjoy looking back over the past year and seeing what posts readers enjoyed most. I see an unexpected pattern with the top 4. Enjoy!

10. Genetic Genealogy: Proving the Paper Trail

9. Anxiety Spiral: Idling in “A” Gear

8. Control Your Inner Critic: The Power of a Name

7. Power Outage 2018

6. The Split Brain Phenomenon: On the Outside Looking In

5. On Being a Low-Energy Person in a High-Energy World

4. Spring Book Fair 2018: Snowmaggedon!

3. The Enchanted Book Fair: Fall 2018

2. 48 Years

1. Book Fair Magic: Casting a Reading Spell

Thank you to everyone who has read The Goose’s Quill this year! I hope you all have a safe healthy, happy 2019!

The Best of The Goose’s Quill 2015

At the beginning of a new year, we typically look forward to the year ahead. Sometimes, though, it is helpful to look back in order to see how far you have come, and evaluate how you did in the past year. I examined my top 20 posts this past year and found that readers read a good mixture of craft and marketing, as well as some of my more personal writing-life posts. In case you missed any, here are the Best of The Goose’s Quill 2015. Enjoy!

  1. When The Hero Is Not The Protagonist
  1. What Big Question Do You Write To Answer?
  1. How To Measure Growth As A Writer
  1. Our Characters’ Other Lives
  1. Adventures In The Land of Zal
  1. Marketing: Doing The Things You Don’t Want To Do
  1. Book Trailer Beginnings
  1. The Truth About Your Productivity
  1. Anticipation Angst and Announcement
  1. The New To-Do List
  1. Introverts, Extroverts, and Social Pain
  1. The Insidious Persistence of Grief
  1. My Biggest Takeaway: 2015 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference
  1. Philadelphia Writers’ Conference: My Annual Oil Change
  1. Writing Longhand: A Generational Divide
  1. Working Vacation: Yes or No?
  1. Empathy: Curse or Blessing?
  1. Revising My Writing Process
  1. Marketing Bits and Pieces

And my #1 post of 2015:

  1. THE WITCH OF ZAL Cover Reveal and Surprise!

NEW RELEASE!

Thank you for reading in 2015—I hope you continue to join me in 2016!

The Christmas Dichotomy

DSCN0640Christmas has always been my favorite holiday—and not because of the presents. My husband can attest that I am impossible to buy for, because I want very little. Ever since I can remember, though, something about the Christmas season spoke to me deeply.

Back when my eyes were good enough to read in low light, I would cuddle up next to our Christmas tree and read books. The cold, sometimes snowy, weather fosters togetherness. Snow turns the mundane outdoors into a magical land. People seem more cheerful, and they tend to care about their fellow man more.

There is peace and hope.

And yet, Christmas can also be very difficult for some people. The intense social interactions of Christmas parties and family dinners can highlight people’s loneliness. Those suffering physical or mental illnesses can feel more isolated than usual. Other people’s joy can throw your own sadness or grief into high relief. And for introverted people like me, the constant company of people—even though I love spending time with family and friends—can drain my energy to the point of exhaustion and tears.

In spite of my sense of peace during the holidays, I know that suffering continues for many. Bad things still happen. Poverty, theft, injury, death. Despite the Christmas light, darkness still exists for many. For me, reconciling the pain in the world with the peace promised in the season is the dichotomy of Christmas.

That’s where the hope comes in. The hope that we can help make the world a better place. That next year those suffering will not be. That we will have found a way to raise humanity to a higher moral ground than this year. That the hate will be less and the love will be more.

While Christmas is a Christian holiday (layered on top of a pagan holiday), you don’t have to be Christian or even religious to believe in the spirit of Christmas. We are all Santa Claus. We can all deliver goodwill toward our fellow man. Instead of getting gifts, we can all use our gifts to make this world a better place.

So Merry Christmas to all of you, and may you find peace and joy on this day and every day.

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Roller Skating and Writing

My daughter went roller skating for the first time ever. She refused to hold the wall, the skate mate, or my hand. She had no fear and falling did not faze her all. Every time she fell, she hopped back up—and when I tried to help her up, she waved me away. “I can do it, Mommy.”

I can learn a lot from my preschooler.

I never learned to roller skate. I always refused to let go of the wall. As a writer, I want to let go of the walls, to soar and glide. But all too often I am afraid of falling. When I fall, I feel foolish—and who likes to feel foolish? But my daughter didn’t care when she fell. She had no care for what others thought—she just got up and tried again.

I need to remember that I, too, have the tenacity to keep getting up, to keep climbing upward, to keep working at my craft. Sometimes, though, I need a reminder that I can do it. I need to remember that I have learned many facets of the craft over the years, and although I have many more to learn, I am moving forward.

My daughter’s attitude allowed her to be confident on her wheels, and even to glide a little by the end of the session. A little self-confidence can go a long way. It lets us try new things and not fear failure. It makes us realize that even failure is not the end of the writing dream, it’s just a detour.

We just have to get back up, smooth our clothes, and push off again.

Like my daughter, I may end up with some bumps and bruises, but if I can conquer the fear I can learn to soar and glide—on the page, that is.

I think it’s too late for me and roller skates!

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My Birthday Wish

Okay, today is not my birthday, but it is birthday-adjacent, so I have been thinking about birthday wishes. More precisely, I have been thinking about how birthday wishes evolve as we grow.

When I was a kid, I wished for things—the latest toy, game, book.

As I got older, the wishes became more about events. I wished for the arrival of elementary school graduation, my driver’s license, high school graduation, my voter’s card, college graduation, my first job.

After college, things shifted again. For a long time my birthdays seemed to simply mark the passage of time, with nothing much to show for it. I began to dread birthdays, those reminders that another year had passed and I still lived at home, still worked at jobs I loved but which paid little, still had no romantic prospects, still had come no closer to my dreams. Birthdays came to represent failure and loneliness, and I usually wished that next year would be different.

Life never stops changing, and eventually that phase of my life ended. I married a wonderful man. I pursued my writing dream full-time. I had a daughter who lights up my life. I have more than I need to be comfortable, and all that I need to be content. In other words, I have very little to wish for. I am incredibly lucky, and I know it.

So in the past few years, I find my wishes turning toward other people. The health and happiness of my friends and family. The continued joy in my daughter’s life. Peace on Earth. A cure for cancer. An end to the back-biting politics in our country. I so wish that other people could be as happy as I am.

So this year, my wish is not for myself, but for all of you:

I wish you and your loved ones health and peace.

I wish you strength in times that drag you down and joy in times that lift you up.

Most of all, I wish that you find the dream you seek and that it makes you happy.

That is my birthday wish for you.

The Next Step

Those following this blog know that I got my final edits back from my publisher right before Thanksgiving. Those in my Facebook network know I returned those final edits on Sunday—yay! After rejoicing in getting that finished, I wondered: what next?

The immediate “what next” is getting “blurbs”—asking fellow authors in your genre if they would consent to read your book and, if they are inclined, to give a quote for the book. As a massive introvert and a person who hates to ask for help, this is actually quite hard for me. So I sent some emails asking if people would consider reading my book and am now waiting for the responses while quietly sweating and shaking.

Other things that will be happening are finalizing the title and cover art (I am looking forward to that!), final edits (on their end), formatting, setting up a marketing plan, and producing promo materials. Much of this, thankfully, will be handled by the wonderful team at Evil Jester Press, although obviously I will have a finger in the title and marketing.

So what am I to do for the next few months while all this is going on behind the scenes? Aside from freaking out, I need to think about things such as the dedication and acknowledgements for the book, creating support materials for the book such as book club questions and a teacher’s guide, finalizing my new website, continuing to network within my genre, and honing my social media strategy.

And I need to keep writing on my other projects.

And take care of my preschool daughter.

And sleep. Maybe. We’ll see.

So much to do, so little time!

Oh, and Christmas. I forgot Christmas.

Welcome to the life of a published writer. (I still get giddy when I say that!)

I’ll keep you posted as things progress!

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Thanksgiving–It’s About Hope

This is not a regular “I’m thankful for…” post. There is much I am thankful for, of course, but today I am reading about many of the awful things that are happening in the world. So much anger, and hatred, and fear. And it makes me sad. It makes my heart ache for the world my daughter and her friends will inherit.

Sometimes I get so bombarded with the bad news in the world, it’s hard to remember the good. Because there is still a lot of good. People still help each other. Science solves medical riddles. We save some of the environment for our children. We send missions to other worlds. Amazing stuff.

Because of the history that followed the Pilgrims’ arrival—the slaughter and disenfranchisement of the Native Americans by immigrants that followed—Thanksgiving can sometimes become politicized these days.

But if you take out the politics, if you disregard the dark history that followed, the particular story of that first Thanksgiving is about hope. It is about the Pilgrims’ hoping to find freedom, of course, but the hope runs deeper than that. It is the story of two disparate groups of people who came together in friendship. Who reached out to each other. Who, for at least one moment in time, met each other as equals—as human beings with different skills, different worldviews, but who recognized the basic humanity in each other.

Three hundred and ninety-three years ago, one group of people was compassionate enough to not let a group of strangers starve to death, and another group of people was humble enough to listen to new ideas and be grateful for the help of strangers. If those two groups, who didn’t even speak the same language, could work together in peace, can we do any less?

So today I am holding on to the hope. The hope that we in the 21st century can find a way to follow the example set for us almost 400 years ago. That we can look past differences and find our common humanity. That we are not too proud to accept help, nor too selfish to give help. That we are smart enough to see each other not as “us and them”, but as human beings.

That we can look into each other’s eyes and see ourselves.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Be well and be safe.

Final Edits While Failing NaNo

I said a couple of weeks ago that I was “sort of” doing NaNo. That I would be trying to finish the final 23 chapters of my book (around 23,000 words). Here’s how it’s going.

I got a good deal of writing in two weekends ago. I now have 17 chapters left to write. It felt good to break the 20-chapter barrier, I’ll tell you!

But I don’t know if I will make it by the end of November. Why?

Because in that same blog post, I had said that if I got my edits back from my publisher, it would derail my WIP’s progress.

And I got my final edits back from my publisher last week! YAY!!

While the edits were relatively minor, I still am not finished. I printed out the manuscript Monday morning and am now giving it a final read-through with my trusty red pen. I am reading it aloud, so where I can do this is limited (my daughter’s dance class was not an option). I have completed reading 30 pages of 190.

This is going to take a while.

And that is why I’m not sure I will finish my WIP by the end of November.

However, I am so excited about these final edits, because that moves us closer to the book being “real.” Once the edits are complete, it can be placed on the publishing schedule. We can start working on the cover. We can finalize the title. We can start getting blurbs. We can talk about marketing strategies.

It’s getting real, folks. The crazy ride that is a debut novel is starting.

Strap in and enjoy the ride!

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Pushing Through

All of us have times in our life where we just have to push on through. Just clench your teeth, put your head down, and walk straight into the metaphorical wind of whatever you are fighting against. Living with anxiety disorder, I have done some version of this pretty much every day of my life. In fact, I attribute my stubbornness in overcoming a lot of writing obstacles to the fact that I have a lot of practice in not giving up.

This past month I have been pushing through a lot. I’ve just been feeling physically awful for much of the month. I’m not sure how much is physical and how much is a result of an anxiety flare-up like I haven’t had in years. But I’ve been pushing through because when you have a 5-year-old, you have things to do. So I’ve done a lot of pretending lately.

Pretending my stomach doesn’t feel like the acid is churning like a whirlpool.

Pretending the acid isn’t crawling back up my throat.

Pretending my head isn’t pounding.

Pretending my brain doesn’t feel foggy and silent.

Pretending my brain doesn’t feel under so much mental pressure that it might explode.

Pretending that I don’t feel as if I truly will go insane.

Pretending that I don’t want to scream or cry.

Pretending that my legs aren’t weak and shaky.

Pretending I don’t feel unstable or vertiginous.

Pretending everything’s fine when all I want to do is go back to bed.

I am good at pretending. Most people never know. I want it that way.

At the moment, I think all this is anxiety-related. Some of it feels familiar, although it doesn’t present like it did the last time I had a major flare up (years ago). But all of the above COULD be anxiety-induced. October was a very stressful month, both good stress and bad stress, and now that the stress is over, as usual, I “fall apart.” And the end of November is always a hard time for me. My best friend’s birthday is November 29th. I lost her to cancer almost 12 years ago. The grief sneaks up on me every year at this time. So that’s likely a component of the anxiety, too.

I will continue to push through, because that is what I do. And, really, it’s the only thing to do, so I can get to the other side of this and move on. I’m dusting off my “anxiety coping mechanisms” and hoping they’ll help.

So that’s a glimpse into my world and what I’m pushing through to reach my dreams. What are you pushing through? What have you pushed through to get to where you are?

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