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Danielle Haas

Mother of two, Writer of romance novels, Lover of wine

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Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork

I haven’t been shy about admitting on here that I am a bit of a control freak, and I’m pretty fond of doing things by myself. Don’t get me wrong, if I absolutely need help with something, I’ll ask for it. But that doesn’t seem to happen very often. And lucky for me, I’ve passed this incredibly annoying trait on to not just one, but both of my children. I get so frustrated when Tootsie gives me attitude for helping her get her shirt on, or when Spud throws a fit because I switch his shoes on to the right feet. I know that in the long run it’s good to have independent children, but short-term, it can drive this mama crazy! But it has shown me the importance of reaching out for help for myself when the situation calls for it.

With my writing, I’ve learned how invaluable the help of a good CP is! I’m not lying when I say I’d be lost without mine. My CP helps with plot development, grammar issues, my constant neglect of question marks, and manages to keep me sane when I’m having a rough day. She is a lifesaver. She has helped me so much in my recent steps into writing romantic suspense. I’ve loved writing my WIP, and have probably annoyed the hell out of her by cranking it out at warp speed. I just haven’t been able to stop! I’ve been so excited about the story and my brain won’t turn off!

Besides writing romantic suspense, something else is different about this WIP. This time, I have an agent. Having an agent is a relatively new thing or me. I know that my agent is working hard to get my first MS published, but beyond that, I wasn’t sure what else I should be talking to her about. I didn’t want to be looked at as needy or unprofessional. I didn’t want to be perceived as someone who needed their hand-held when working on her WIP. And beyond that, my agent still seems kind of like some mythical unicorn that I didn’t want to spook, because what if she realized she doesn’t like anything else I did and would run back into the enchanted forest and never return? Okay, so I might be reading Tootsie too many fairy tales, but the main concept remains. I was too afraid to reach out and ask for help from someone who is actually invested in my career and wants to help me.

So, 51,000 words into my WIP, my agent asks me what I’m working on. I bust out a synopsis, send it over, and wait with bated breath to hear what she thinks. She quickly responds (One thing she’s excellent at!) that although I have some interesting ideas, my story feels more like two different stories and there’s a little too much going on. Punch to the gut! She gave me some ideas, and I responded with a new synopsis. Still not there. I respond with more ideas, until she recommends I create an outline using the romance arc. I took a couple of days to clear my head and really think about how I could get this book where we both wanted it to be. I wrote an outline, and she agreed I was on the right track.

Enter massive relief! In order to incorporate the changes we discussed, I had to delete about 20,000 words from my WIP. At first I was a little heartsick about this, but as I started rewriting these chapters, my excitement for this story grew tenfold! It’s way more suspenseful, the story is fast paced, and it’s just plain better! I sent my agent the first three chapters, and she thought they were great! Let me fall back in my chair and hold back my happy tears! If I would have reached out to my agent sooner, I wouldn’t have had to go through the stress of deleting and reworking so much of my WIP. She could have helped me flush out the best possible story a whole lot sooner!

Now that I’ve learned my little life lesson, it’s time to hunch over my computer and get back to work. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness or neediness, it’s a chance to utilize the talents and insight of people around you who WANT to help you! And as for my agent, she’s not looking like that mythical unicorn I was afraid would run away anymore. More like an incredibly helpful, professional woman who wants to push me to be the best writer I can be. I’m beyond grateful to have her in my corner.

It’s All About The Journey

My husband and I recently got home from an amazing, whirlwind vacation. A once in a lifetime, completely surreal vacation. We’d been planning it for over two years, and I don’t think it’s completely sunk in that it’s over. The planning of this amazing vacation began because I was lucky enough to be asked to be in the one of my dearest friends wedding…and the wedding was in Scotland. How do you say no? I’ll tell you…you can’t! Not only has Ellen been one of my best friends for the past thirteen years, but hello! It was in Scotland! A place I’ve never been and would love to see. So my husband and I immediately started figuring out where all we wanted to go while we were in Europe. I mean, if we were going to spend the money to get over there, we might as well see as much as we could. And because of that luck that was on my side, we were able to plan our travels with two other friends who would be attending the wedding as well.

Our trip started off in Ireland. We met our pals in Dublin and spent three days touring the city and drinking Guinness. We had a blast, and only a few moments of missing the kids terribly. I mean, of course I missed them the entire time we were gone, but there were a few heart-wrenching moments of why did I leave me kids in another country? After Ireland, we made our way to Scotland. We had decided to rent a car and drive up to the highlands for a couple of nights before we needed to be back in Edinburgh for the wedding. Scott and I have never rented a car and just taken off before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I was so surprised to discover this was one of my favorite parts of the trip! Taking off with no real destination in mind, stopping in towns whenever one sounded nice. We saw ruins, castles, lakes, and whiskey distilleries. We talked, we laughed, we took the highlands with Braveheart music blaring in our ears. We had the time of our lives! All of these awesome memories made before we even reached out ultimate destination…the wedding.

By the time we reached the castle where the wedding took place, we already had an arsenal of good times stored in our brains. By the time we reached the wedding, we had more amazing experiences and new friends to add to the trip. The wedding, which included epic dancing and fireworks, just took it to a whole other level. In one vacation we were able to play highland games in Scotland, live in a castle for two days, rally like William Wallace, and be a part of a good friends special day.I cant think of a single thing that could have made this trip more special.

This got me thinking about that old saying, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” I’m sure we’ve all heard this before, and I’ve always rolled my eyes and ground my teeth together to keep my opinion to myself. You see, I’m a pretty impatient person. I want things to happen on my timeline. And this saying was a big load of crock in my ears. But now I have a whole new appreciation for it. This trip, the entire journey was special. We stepped out of our comfort zone and we let the journey take us where it wanted. The result was the  most amazing trip I’ve ever had.

One of the great things about this trip was spending so much time with a friend who lives on the east coast. We try to get together for weekends once a year or so, but it’s been over thirteen years since we had such a long chunk of time to spend together. One thing we discussed at length was my writing. I had plenty of time during our week and a half together to tell him about all of the ups and downs I’ve experienced over the past two years. After hearing the good, the bad, and the ugly, his response made me stop and really think about where I am at the moment. He smiled wide and said, “I’m so glad you found your passion…you’re niche. You just seem so happy.”

Have a gotten a publishing contract yet? Nope! Do I have books sitting on the shelves at my local book store? Not even close! Have I learned a ton and found something that makes me feel fulfilled and incredibly happy? Absolutely! I’m almost finished with my fourth MS, I have an agent, I’ve made countless friends who have enriched my life in so many ways, and I have a brain full of different book ideas. Twelve to be exact! I’ve come to the conclusion that this journey I’ve been on with my writing is one that will never end. There will always be a new book to write, a new contract that needs signed, a new marketing plan to figure out. This thought would have driven my a little crazy before. How am I supposed to pour so much time and energy into something that won’t lead me somewhere concrete? But now I know, it’s all about the journey. It’s all about the things I see and the people I meet along the way. So no matter where this winding road leads, I’m going to crank up the battle music, enjoy the view, and go in with my sword swinging. I’m going to enjoy the journey.

One Step At A Time

Today I reached a milestone that I never thought I’d reach. Actually, it was one I never had a desire to reach. I ran my first 5K. Well, run might be a bit of an exaggeration. More like a very slow jog. You see, I am NOT a runner! Beyond that, I’ve never understood why people choose to run. Do they enjoy it? Do they force themselves to do for health reasons? Do they like torture? I try to stay fit, try to eat healthy. I workout regularly and understand relishing the burning of muscles and the soreness that comes after a good workout. But huffing and puffing and feeling like I’m about to toss my cookies at any minute…not an enjoyable experience for me. But…I’m a big believer in when God shoves something in your face, you’re a fool to look the other way and not seize the opportunity He’s given you. That’s what happened to me, and hence why I ran my first 5k.

The month of May has been a bit of a whirlwind for my family. I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of family visit from out-of-town, my kids got to ride on Thomas the Train, my beloved dog turned ten, and Tootsie turned five. We’ve attended preschool graduation, a dance recital, and a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party for my favorite birthday girl. Beyond  all that, I’ve been completely consumed with my WIP. In one months time, I’ve been able to pound out 11 chapters, over 30,000 words. For me, this is a lot. My poor CP gets sent a new chapter to go over almost every day. But I can’t seem to slow down, I don’t want to slow down. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I’m just so excited about this MS.

One thing I’ve done with this MS is some research on different elements that are present in this story. FBI protocol, different aspects of Chicago, and human trafficking. The first two things have been interesting and fun to learn about, the last has been eye opening and extremely disturbing. There have been nights I’ve gone to bed with different stories swirling around my head and feeling absolutely sick to my stomach. The things these victims go through are horrific. And yes its horrific for all of them, but it’s the thought of the thousands of children who are exploited and used every day that really sticks with me. I had no idea how big this issue is, how many people are bought and sold every day all over the world. But what I could do to help such a massive infestation into our world?

Enter my in your face God moment. Not long after I started my research, I shared an article on Facebook. A close friend of mine responded with a 5K run she had been told about. The woman who had invited her runs a workout class that I had recently started attending. She created her business, Humpty Dumpty Mommy, to give women a place free of judgement to workout…and maybe offer a chance to get out of the house. Both things I love. I’d only attended two classes when the 5K was brought to my attention, and I instantly contacted Amanda and told her I’d love to be involved. You see, the race was the 2017 Sock it to Human Trafficking event located about thirty minutes away. How could I not go?

So this morning, I woke up and made my first step toward helping to bring awareness to human trafficking. Who knows what will happen with my WIP, but I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason. I know I was meant to write this book and research human trafficking. A fire has been lit inside me to do whatever I can to spread awareness on this subject, and do whatever I can to aid those whose life work it is to reach out to the victims. I don’t know how much little ol me will be able to do to help the cause, but I know I can only take it one step at a time to find out. Thank God I’ll have my Mom Squad by my side while I do.

New Beginnings

Spring is finally in the air here in NE Ohio. Well…kind of. The sun is out at least.  We have had nothing but cold and rain for the last week. It’s still pretty cold out, but sitting at my dining room table and seeing the sunshine pour through the winow, I’m pretending it’s warm outside. It’s a beautiful, Spring day! And beautiful Spring days just scream new beginnngs.  That seems to be a theme for me this weekend.

Another thing that screams new beginnings…literally sreams… is a brand-new baby. Yesterday we welcomed my perfect, little nephew ino the world. Mr. Lewis is a blond bundle of cuteness. He’s the perfect size for cuddling, and the best part is that once I’m done cuddling him, I can give him back to his mother. Tootsie and Spud might be past that tiny baby, cuddle all the time phase, but they usually sleep through the night at this point and I have no desire to go back to that stage. Hopefully Lewis will be a considerate little booger and sleep like a champ from the beginning! And if he’s a handful, well then Aunt Danielle can swoop in and hold him (during the day of course) while mama gets some rest.

The other new thing in my life these days is my WIP. I finished book #3 in my series a couple of weeks ago, and couldn’t wait to dive right into something new. I already had the major plot points of the book worked out, and had written out some charcter sketches for my main characters. I knew exactly how I wanted the book to start, and when I sat down to write the first chapter it just poured out. My heart pounded with excitment as I sent it to my trusty CP to see what she thought. She LOVED it! And she agreed with me, this feels so diffren from what I’ve done and it could really be something special.

The only problm is, it’s REALLY new and different. I mean, my last series took place in a small NW Ohio town loosely based off my hometown. The jobs and social habits of the characters were all familar to me. I knew the setting like the back of my hand. I had to look little things up here and there, but not much research had to be done to give the books the feel I was aiming for. My WIP, on the other hand, isn’t straight contemporary romance. It has a lot of suspensful elements to it, but I don’t know if there are enough elements to label it strictly romantic suspense. Is that okay? Can I have a contemporary romance with suspensful elements, or do I need to twist the plot and beef up the suspense?

My WIP is also set in Chicago. I wanted to step away from the familiar and write something completely different. That meant leavig the small town setting. I’ve been to Chicago several times and love it, but it’s not the most familiar place in the world to me. I’m looking up cab fare and romantic restuarants and different areas of the city. Luckily my cousin lives there, and if I can’t convince my husband to take a trip or two to the windy city, at least I can hassle her into answering my questions. I just hope I’m able to paint the scene well enough to give the reader an accurate vision.

As exciting as new beginnings are, they are often scary too. There’s a lot of sceond guessing and wondering if you’re heading in the right direction. I’m just taking comfort in the fact that figuing out where to go with my WIP isn’t nearly as scary as bringing home a new baby. But just like baby Lewis is in great hands with his loving parents, I know my WIP is in good hands with me. I will figure out all my questions as I go along, and in the end, the right stoy will be told. It just might take me a little longer to get there.

Take Me Out Of Funky Town

The last couple of weeks I have found myself in a bit of a writing funk. I’m still trying to write a little every day, and am busting out two chapters a week, but it’s feeling more like a chore. I’ve lost that desperate need to sit down and let the words pour out of me. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block, because I know exactly what I want to say and how to say it. I just plain don’t want to do it. I’d rather use the free time I’ve been able to carve out for the day to clean the house, hang out with my kiddos, or sit on my butt in front of the television for a whole twenty minutes of “me” time. I’m afraid that this funk I’m feeling is going to reflect in the writing I manage to get done. I don’t want my story to suffer just because I’m stuck in funky town.

Even sitting here writing this blog, I’m cringing to myself. I’m laying in bed next to my baby boy, and all I want to do is put my computer down and snuggle the heck out of him. But I know I need to push on to get past it. At least, I hope that’s all it’s going to take. I think the issue is I’m suffering from a lack of motivation at the moment. Even though I set goals for myself each week, it’s not doing it for me at the moment. The words, “What’s the point?” keep crossing through my mind. I mean, really, I know the answer. The point is to write a story I’m proud of, to do justice to my beloved Emma, and to give this mama something for herself…blah, blah, blah. But I think where I’m getting stuck is a concrete, tangible reason to write this story.

The other two MS’s I’ve finished, I was focused on an end game. Get an agent, get published, write more books. The problem I’m running into is that I’ve got the agent, the agent as sent out submissions, and fours weeks of crickets have passed and I’m slowly losing my mind. Out of the five submissions sent out, I had two requests for full Ms’s and one pass. So, of course, my head is spinning with the possibilities of nothing but rejection coming out this torturous wait. Which brings me to my lack of motivation. If I am unable to get a contract for the MS being sent out, I won’t be able to get one for the second MS, or my WIP. So why finish the WIP until I know there’s a reason for it?

Again, I know the answer to this question. There’s no way I could set Emma and her story aside and just not finish. To begin with, my mom and sister-in-law would kill me. But more than that, I still need to tell her story. I just need that desire to consume me, to make me want to sit down and get it all out. I miss that! Instead, my mind is filled with different book ideas that I should start, just in case those rejections start piling in again. Something I’m avoiding, but maybe that would help? Maybe shifting my focus onto something brand-new will get the sparks of excitement bursting again.

Has anyone else had this issue? What’s worked to light that fire under you again? I’m taking the weekend off, lifting the pressure of needing to sit down and work on my WIP. Instead, I’m opening up a book to read for pleasure, and hoping that helps clear up the funk. And if doesn’t help, I’ll keep forcing myself to sit down and write the words. One way or another, Emma’s story will be told.

Lessons In Time

Today is finally Friday, and I’m so excited for the weekend. All weekends are highly anticipated, but this weekend is a little more special than most. This weekend is my sister-in-laws baby shower, and I can’t wait to celebrate my newest little nephew! I already have two handsome nephews and one gorgeous niece, and being an aunt is one of the best things. I get to love and spoil these little peanuts, but I’m not in charge of daily discipline and making sure they don’t turn into assholes one day. And with my little love bug Marvin, I’m not in charge of nightly feedings and explosive diapers. Thank God I’m pretty much past that stage with my kiddos. But there’s just something so amazing about preparing to welcome a new addition to the family, and we cant’ wait for baby Lewis to make his debut in a couple of months.

Tootsie is just as excited, the girl loves babies! We are going to have a small girls outing later today , and head out to the mecca of baby world to pick up some essentials for the baby and parent’s to be. I pulled up their registry earlier, and it all came flooding back to me. All the crap you need to have a baby. And more importantly, all the crap you don’t need to a have a baby. I remember standing in Babies R Us with the fun little registry gun, feeling like a kid in a candy store, while my husband was completely overwhelmed by everything that store told us we just had to have. It was a lot! And being first time parents, we had to have it all! We were there forever, the gun beeping away while we added item after item after item to our ever expanding list. I think my husband was sweating by the time we left. We were lucky enough to get almost everything on that list, and then we laughed when we didn’t end up needing half of it. So much preparation, so much anticipation of what we would need, and so much wasted on a baby who hated being a swing and never wanted to be in a stupid bumbo seat.

This week on Facebook, a memory popped up (I just love those memories!) showing how one year ago I was declaring to the world how I was finally ready to start looking for an agent. Posted was a picture of my yellow legal pad, and all the names and notes I had searched long hours for. I couldn’t help but think back to how I was feeling at that time, and all the hard work that went into preparing my agent list. And again, I was forced to laugh at all the preparation and all the anticipation…and how much time I wasted on things I didn’t need. I remember looking up hundreds of agents in a copy of Publisher’s Marketplace and not knowing the different between upmarket fiction and women’s lit. My book was fiction and meant for women, so why not send a query? And the query letter I wrote, oh boy! But I’d read countless books and articles that gave specific instruction as to how to write one…it had to be good, right? The pile of rejection letters I got would say otherwise!

Both parenting and trying to break into the publishing world have both shown me that time and experience are the most important tools that I need. A baby book might tell me the best way to clean out my kids snotty nose, but nothing but experience could teach me how to hold Spuds arms between my legs while I shoved a little rubber aspirator up his nose and sucked out his snot. And just like writing a query letter and getting published, books could only explain so much. I needed practice and the help of others to show me a better way to do things.

It’s funny to look back on where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come. I’m not published yet, but I’m getting closer. I have an agent, and I have interest in my MS from a couple of publishers. And even if those fall through, there are still countless opportunities out there waiting for me. I attended my NEORWA meeting last weekend, and this same feeling of satisfaction…of knowing how far I’ve come…washed over me. I wasn’t a quivering ball of nerves when I stepped into the room, and I didn’t sit quietly by myself and wait for the meeting to start. I talked to other writers about their work and about their lives, and I told them where I am as well. In our small group, I volunteered to go over the scene in my WIP, and then preceded to answer questions about how I’ve gotten to the point in my writing I currently am. It felt good to know that I can now offer a few words of encouragement to others who are sitting where I was a year ago. And it felt even better to know there were so many women in my group who have gone much farther than I have, who are willing to offer me support and encouragement.

So a year has gone by since I sent out those first query letters, and I’m happy with where I am. Beyond happy! I’m thrilled! Time seems to go by so slowly until we realize who quickly it’s really gone, and we think we need to have everything figured out before we take that first step. But it simply isn’t possible. We never know where one step, and then the other, will lead us. We can only prepare the best we can, and then look back and laugh at how little we really knew. Because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that time and experience will always hand us our most important lessons.

 

Blocking Out The Noise

This past week I’ve cleared my creative plate and have been able to focus all of my attention on my third manuscript. I had started this MS at the end of last summer, and the three chapters I had finished have sat untouched for months. I was a little intimidated to open this back up and dive right in, but it felt good. Creating something from scratch and feeling that rush of excitement when the story line starts clicking into place in my mind has gotten my creative juices flowing again. The characters, and the story they want me to tell, are screaming in my mind and I have this constant nagging in my brain to just sit down and write it all out.

But something is happening that I didn’t experience with my first two MS’s . I’m having a hard time blocking the noise out. Not just the external noise, but the internal noise as well. Don’t get me wrong, the external noise in my house is deafening and constant. When you stay at home with a two-year-old who only naps about every other day and a four-year-old who has a limitless amount of energy, quiet isn’t something I even strife for anymore. I mean, how do you say no when your adorable daughter sweetly asks, “Mommy, would you like to hear my wonderful music while you work?” I’ll tell you the answer…you don’t. You sit on your computer and cringe as you type away and she wildly shakes a tambourine and dances around the dining room table. Or when your toddler runs up and tells you it’s time for dinner, how do you not stop the work to eat the fried chicken he puts in your face. Okay, so it’s made from Play-Doh and it’s only a quick, “Mmm, yummy!” on my part, but it’s pretty damn distracting.

I’ve gotten pretty good over the past year and a half at giving the kids the minute they are begging for, and then getting my head right back where it needs to be. I have to do this, or I’d never get anything done. Or, I’d be up all night and never sleep and that’s just not an option for me. This mama needs her sleep or we all suffer. It’s the internal noise I’m having a hard time pushing away. And the most frustrating part about this, is there is nothing out there I need to be doing besides working on my MS. My short synopsis, long synopsis, and author bio are turned into my agent. MS number 2 is complete and patiently waiting for it’s time to shine, and I’ve kept surprisingly up-to-date on my blog posts lately. But there’s still this constant buzzing in my brain I can’t quiet down.

I sit down to write, knowing exactly what I want to happen in the chapter, and I can’t seem to concentrate on getting the words on the screen. I’m wondering how far my agent has gotten on my revised MS, when will submissions to publishers start, and how my entries are doing in contests. I’m checking my email a ridiculous number of times a day, even when there’s nothing pressing that should be coming in. It’s frustrating as hell. I try to clear my mind and see the scene the way I want to paint it, and I see it, but I can’t get the sentences down in a way that makes me happy. At least not for awhile. Where I was writing several chapters a week, I’m now happy to get one complete and a second started. I know quality is more important than quantity, and there’s no rush to get this MS finished, but the characters constantly chatting away in my mind say differently.

I can’t be the only person who has this problem. How do you handle it? Do you just push through it, happy with whatever it is you get accomplished that day, or is there another solution to this problem? I suppose I could hire a nanny to watch the kids and a personal assistant to sort out the other stuff I don’t want to deal with. But I’m thinking this isn’t a plausible option. Until I figure it out, I’ll sit at my computer again tomorrow and write as much as I can. Emma’s story is itching to escape, and eventually it will get done. I just need the world to quiet down a little bit so I can put pen to paper…or at least finger to keyboard. But as I type this, that sweet as sugar two-year-old screams for mommy to sing more Thomas the Train before he finally falls asleep. I guess the world won’t be quieting down any time soon, so I just need to figure out how to block it out and get the work done. For now, I’m off to seeing about that cheeky little Thomas the Train.

 

 

Starting’s The Hardest Part

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ve been driving my husband crazy the last couple of weeks. He hasn’t said anything, but a wife usually knows these things. It’s not because I’ve been nagging him to do things around the house or riding his case about spending too much time out with the boys. Actually, quite the opposite is what happens in our house. My husband doesn’t know how to relax, and I actually tried to pester him into going out last night. The last couple of months, he has undertaken a huge project in our house. He decided to go room to room and deep clean the house. Go ahead and tell me how amazing he is, he’ll love it! haha But seriously, he has taken apart almost every room in this house and cleaned the carpets, painted the walls, and washed the baseboards. Any thing that needed fix, he fixed it. Any new furniture that needed purchased, he bought. It’s a good ol fashion Spring cleaning before Spring even gets here. But there’s one thing he kept his hands off of, and asked that I take care of… the playroom closet.

When we moved into our house over seven years ago, our basement was unfinished. He drew up so many plans on how to use the space. My only stipulation was I wanted a playroom with a huge closet to throw all the crap that would one day take over our house in. Of course, my loving husband gave me exactly what I wanted. It’s a place for toys, board games, extra blankets, craft supplies, and the sewing machine I got three years ago and have never used. (Sorry mom) It is a lifesaver, and I’m sure it’s not a surprise that it’s also a disaster. I’ve cleaned it and decluttered a few times, but honestly, it’s a huge pain in the ass. So when hubby asked me to take on this little project, and I agreed to see it taken care of, I cringed on the inside.

I needed a plan. Trust me, anyone who knows me or has stepped in my house, knows that organization is my thing. There is a place for everything, and everything’s in its place. At least it is when the kids are asleep. I hate clutter, I hate a messy house, and I hate knowing that things are not where they’re supposed to be. Even Tootsie has inherited this OCD quality of mine. I’ve never met a four-year-old who’s room has to be completely picked up (including the rooms of her doll house) before she can go to sleep. But for some reason, this playroom closet is the one place the chaos is easier to just let go of. But I could do it, and I know it will be so pretty and shiny when I’m done. So I ran to the store and bought bins and tubs of multiple shapes and sizes. I have baskets and bowls and bags. I have everything needed to whip this space into shape. Except the motivation to do it. Hence why I’m driving my husband crazy.  I know once I dive in and start I’ll have it done, I just need to do it.

I was at my monthly NEORWA meeting yesterday and was talking to a fellow writer. We both recently acquired agents, and were discussing the changes that needed done to our MS and the time we’ve spent polishing these up for submissions. This led into a conversation regarding our WIP’s, and she said something to me that rang so true. She said, “I’m trying to get into my second MS, but I feel like I’m picking up the paint brush and learning how to use it again.” Yes, yes, a million times yes! I have spent the last five months revising and editing my first two MS’s. In the meantime, the first three chapters I wrote for my third MS has been siting patiently, waiting for me to get the time to pick it back up. That time came a few weeks ago (and then quickly passed again but that’s another story) and I sat there staring at it. I had made my plan, I had a loose outline of where I wanted the story to go and how I wanted the characters to feel, but I just couldn’t find a way to write it all down in a way that told my story. I felt like my creativity for writing an entirely new book was gone. How could I possibly come up with enough to fill the pages? Even though I now have two completed MS’s under my belt, I was afraid that completing this book was beyond me.

After reworking those first three chapters, I had to put my WIP aside again to focus on edits my agent suggested for my first MS. It was like a giant puzzle that needed to be put back together, but some of the pieces were missing. I shifted some scenes around, reworked some chapters, and also wrote some new ones. I was a little nervous about the new chapters. But honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened to me at just the right time. (Funny how that works!) The words flowed through me and created these beautiful chapters that have made my book so much better. And it gave me the confidence to see that I can sit and write from scratch and create something wonderful. Just like the playroom closet, I know I can do it, I just need to find the right place to start. But I should probably tackle the closet before I open that WIP up again!

 

 

 

 

Life is really funny sometimes. A few weeks ago I was feeling a little discouraged about where this writing thing was heading. I still enjoyed sitting down and creating my stories, and polishing my manuscripts. But would anything ever happen with it? I tried to tell myself to be patience, that I’m so new to this whole thing and it could take a lot longer than the nine months I’d been trying to get an agent/published for this to go anywhere. Even though what I was telling myself was completely logical, I still found myself doubting that I’d ever find a good fit for my first manuscript. Then something happened. My husband couldn’t find a copy of our marriage certificate, so I dug through a ton of paperwork to find what he needed. In the process, I found my career passport that I put together my senior year of high school. It had my diploma, a ridiculously inadequate resume, and a letter from my principle. The other piece of this passport was a letter I wrote detailing my plans for the future. In it I talked about attending Bowling Green State University, discussed what I planned to major in, and what career I would like to have. It was a trip looking back at this after so long.

The amazing thing to me was the last paragraph in this letter. “No matter what I decide to do, I am hoping that writing will be my main focus. I hope that I will be able to make a living off of it, while it remains something I enjoy doing.” Here’s the funny part, nothing else in this letter happened the way I planned. I didn’t major in creative writing, I didn’t study business, and I most certainly did not become a 6th grade English teacher. (What was I thinking?!) Instead, I changed my major countless times, studied political science and international studies, and I ended up with a meaningful job working with woman with developmental disabilities. But here I sit, close to 14 years later, and I still enjoy writing and hope to make it a career. This gave me the motivation to push forward and keep trying. Because if nothing else, I love what I do.

I decided to start focusing on getting my second manuscript out there. I checked over my agent list, polished up my query letter, and started submitting. My first manuscript could possibly still be published, but I’d given up the hopes that an agent would be interested in it . And then something amazing happened. I received a request for a full manuscript from  an agency I had queried in November. She wanted to read my first manuscript, start to finish. I sent it over immediately, and then proceeded to check my email twenty times a day for the next week. Last Thursday was one of those days I picked up my phone to check my email, and tears sprang to my eyes when I saw what was sitting in my inbox. An email from Ella Marie Shupe from Belcastro Agency asking to speak with me about the possibility of representation. WHAT?! I laughed, I cried, I jumped up and down. In short, I was the talk of the children’s museum that day and managed to embarrass the hell out of my daughter.

I had my phone call with Ella Marie early this week, and am beyond excited about her now being my agent. She understood my writing, and had ideas to take it from good to amazing. Her personality was lovely, and I have no doubt that we will work very well together. I can’t wait to get to work and see where this leads me. And even better, I can now sit here with my career passport from Paulding High School, and know that I did exactly what I set out to do so long ago. It just took a little voice from the past to push me along a little bit and remind me why I choose to sit down at my computer day in and day out. Because I love it, and the stories this crazy mind of mine makes up. I’m so lucky that I have found what I love to do in this life, and I know that no matter what the future holds, I was always enjoy my writing.

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