Wednesday, December 20, 2017

WEP The End is the Beginning December Challenge

From Write ... Edit ... Publish, the End is the Beginning December Challenge: 

I went with a non-fiction reflection this last year and my hope for 2018.

Everyone has endings and beginnings. At times, we think we are at the end of ourselves. We may think, "this is it. I can't go further. I'm done. It's over. I have no more energy, courage, or creativity to give." But, the next day dawns, and we wiggle our toes. It isn't much. It isn't a marathon, but it's a start. Then, we take a step. Then, another. It's nothing profound. It just is. We find ourselves at a new beginning. It isn't an easy beginning. We may start this new beginning with regrets from past endings. We may start it with the baggage of pain or shame. We may start it with extra weight, literal, metaphorical, or both. But, what matters is that we start, even sometimes after we thought we gave up everything, even hope. The hope is still there, somehow. We don't even know how it made it through the hell, whatever that hell was, but the hope is still there, shining.

From my perspective, that little light still shining is the reason for the star over Bethlehem. From my experience this year, after a hell of physical illness, surgery, pain, and exhaustion which clouded my mind, I didn't know I was still clinging to any hope at all, but it was still there. Nothing could extinguish it. I still had the hope of Jesus inside of me, pushing me out of bed ... even if I didn't get out of bed until noon and had only enough energy to stay awake until 4 p.m. I was cranky and didn't want to pray, but I did anyway. Some of those prayers were more of a "Why, oh, why have you forsaken me" kind of prayers instead of "Enter His courts with Thanksgiving" kind of prayers, but I prayed anyway, despite myself. I kept getting up, taking small steps to recovery, for months barely making it down the hallway, and then barely to the back deck, and then barely to the end of the long, gravel driveway (who knew it could feel so long), and finally nine months after the pain started, I went on a three mile hike in Montana, huffing and puffing as the slowest family member up the hill, but I cried tears of joy when I made it to the top. I am alive and glad to be alive. I am still not in good shape, but my doctors have reminded me to be gentle with myself - to rejoice in five pounds lost by the end of the year and to be glad that I have a chance to recover from illness and the two surgeries which were only five weeks apart, not to mention the five biopsies and other medical tests and procedures which took place. I still have health issues. I still have doctor's appointments. But, I am breathing, I can exercise, and I get to hug my family. These are the basics that matter as I end this year and look to the beginning of next one.

The crazy part is, I was afraid to dream for a while. I was afraid to make plans for my writing, ashamed of how much I hadn't finished. Then, I started writing short stories and poems, and I started planning an epic series. I made one of my goals for December: to think of 6 Impossible Things Before Breakfast. And, I've been dreaming big for 2018 and beyond. I'm not afraid of dreaming anymore because I have remembered to focus on the hope that is within. I have hope and my hope has made me strong. I am ready to begin again, and again, and again. I'm ending 2017 and beginning 2018 with hope.

This next part isn't for the WEP Challenge, it's for all of my readers who have read/purchased my Summer Vacation Devotions book. This video is of Peace Rehabilitation Center. It's where I send all of the money I make from the Summer Vacation Devotions book (plus, a little more from me). These ladies know what it means to begin again. For a newer video, go here:

Monday, December 18, 2017

The IWSG is on Instagram!

So, I sent out an idea to Alex J. Cavanaugh, fearless leader and founder of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and it turns out that the IWSG administrators were thinking something along similar lines.

So, now ... The IWSG is on Instagram!!!

Plus, I get to be an Administrator!


This means I get to volunteer with an encouraging team of amazing writers and leaders!

If you have an Instagram account, please go to The IWSG and follow.

For the rest of 2017, please consider tagging The IWSG on instagram for writing-related posts.

The first "challenge" for The IWSG on instagram is: Post one to three pictures of something that inspires your writing. It doesn't have to be professional photography level. Let's share and encourage each other on instagram! (Please tag TheIWSG in your posts).

Look forward to more IWSG-inspired instagram challenges in January 2018.

The IWSG on Instagram - click here! 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

#TheIWSG December 2017

I do try to be mindful on IWSG day about my word count, but this post ended up going long with my tale of surviving NaNoWriMo 2017. If needed, just hit the bold spots and run to the next blog before I suck you in with my navel/novel gazing thought process. 

So, on November 23rd with only 21,000 words to my NaNo novel, I realized I was going to have to tackle things differently than I had planned. I decided to write the novel and write about writing the novel to reach my 50,000 word goal.

It technically might not be considered winning NaNoWriMo in the most traditional sense, or maybe even any sense. But I consider myself a winner and even bought the t-shirt because I made a decision to honor my real writing style, the thing that works for me. Plus, I did write over 50,000 words in November all in or about The Greenling Chronicles.

I am a plantster (writing by the seat of my pants and outlining) and I "planst" while I'm writing a novel. I write notes to myself about the progress. I change the outline and expand it while I'm mid-stream. If I don't do this, I lose focus, momentum, and the story.

If I plot everything out first, then I get bored and I don't finish. Or, I just ignore the plot and create a giant mess.

If I completely write by the seat of my pants for anything longer than a 5,000 word short story, I forget character names, make world-building mistakes, and struggle with a complete chaos. Two of my previous NaNo novels have strong chaos elements. Sometimes, chaos writing can be fun. Sometimes, it just gives me a sense of helpless failure. I really felt the need for an epic background outline for this NaNo and I wrote it before and during the month of November, alongside the novel. I'm actually still working on it. 

Part of the necessity of a massive background outline arises from the fact that I am writing Book 2 of a series and Book 1 (written in the spring) had some serious chaos elements and unanswered questions.  I'm determined to finish the entire series before I call any of the books finished. I want the plot to be paced correctly throughout the series and I want the foreshadowing elements to work. Plus, I want to utilize some over-arcing metaphors and imagery.

I really want to have something ready for the IWSG Pitch day in January, but I'm pretty sure I won't. Unless, pigs fly. So, for now, I am mid-project(s) and I think I'll be there for a long while even though I've been here for a while (since early 2016). If I self-pub anything in the next year, it will be writing prompt related or a short story collection or ... something small. Querying is going to be out of the picture until mid to late 2018 or even 2019. It's hard to admit that to myself, or to share it with anyone else, but that's just where I'm at. I'm drafting. Word after a word after a word. (And then, some notes about those words.)

And, in case anyone still wonders about my Captain Wrath novel, it has some of those chaos elements, and it turns out that Ben Cranston (Aka: Warren Wrath) lives in the same universe as The Greenling Chronicles, just a few hundred years later. So, I haven't given up on him yet. He's just waiting his turn (orbiting in his space cruiser) with all of his buddies: dwarves, dryadarians, shape-shifters, leprechanarians, and glowers (will-o-wisps with attitude). For more information (teasers) about the universe of The Greenling Chronicles and The Captain Wrath novel(s), stay tuned for IWSG January. 

I may post one or two posts this month or I may just see you all in 2018! (Feeling Indecisive Today)

And, lastly, but actually of most importance, I want to thank Alex J. Cavanaugh, the co-hosts: Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!
and all those who make the Insecure Writer's Support Group awesome - at the website, on facebook, at twitter, at the newsletter, and on Goodreads.
Go, IWSG!!!