What Grows in Family Trees?

We are being watched and someone will want to model us—especially if there are children in our home.
Fortunately, the most recent habit of mine that has been chosen by one of my kids is harmless. At least, I like to think it is. Returning readers will recognize the following image:

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For those unfamiliar, that is Fernando, my literary muse of sorts. While growing wild on the water oak in my backyard, it still needs regular watering during dry spells to stay fresh. Living in the south, I see hundreds of live oaks with branches blanketed by ferns and moss, but this little guy I’ve watched from birth, so to speak. With each passing month, even during the ice storm this winter, he’s managed to thrive and grow.

Yes, the correlations between Fernando and my literary endeavors are endless, but I didn’t know my watering and regular picture taking have been noticed, but then my youngest drew this:

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She proudly pointed out the fern growing near the base of the tree, just like “Mommy’s fern.” I was touched, and humbled by the reminder that whatever I do, my kids will take it to heart. Here’s to the hope of inspiring nature and creativity!

What’s the oddest thing a child has copied from you?

Goodie Package

This past weekend I got a surprise in the mail. A REALLY good surprise, like fangirl/geek-out-time fabulous. It might not look like much to you, but for this Book Nerd, it was like striking the mother lode. 000_0382 What is it? That’s a personally addressed and signed form letter, postcard for a new release, and signed book plate from one of my favorite authors, AVI. Why was this envelope of awesome such a big deal? For one thing, it was unexpected. I didn’t write to him or ask for anything. What I did do was enter to win one of ten copies of an ARC (advance reader copy) for his 2015 release, CATCH YOU LATER, TRAITOR, from his website. When he posted the winners on the blog a few weeks ago, I immediately forgot about it because I wasn’t listed. But Avi, being the awesome writer that he is, sent these thank-you-for-reading packets to everyone who entered but did not win a book. He didn’t tell those who entered, didn’t blog about, he just did it. Awesome way to pay-it-forward, and it’s fantabutitus. And now my second favorite novel of all time proudly wears a signed bookplate. Maybe I’ll get it personalized one day. 000_0384 Which book do you own that you’d like to see autographed, or is it already signed?

Junk Draft

I did it!

I finished the dreaded first draft of my new project from conception to completion in six months. In the past, the quickest I’ve written one was a year, and that was when I was in high school. Most recently, it took about eighteen months, but that doesn’t include the several years of research I did before the writing actually began.

What was the difference this time around?

Well, I gave permission to “let it go.” I allowed my writing to be less than perfect just to get it down. Yes, it’s something I’ve read about many times: everyone’s first draft is junk. I’d like to think my first drafts weren’t too bad, but then again, pouring over them for a year—or two or three—makes for lots of little edits before completion. (And, yes, they were all still edited dozens of times after that.)

This time, the story is there in all its ugly glory. 100_6421

I used to think the first draft was the hardest and revision/editing the easiest, but this time around, I believe my opinion will change. I’ve got my work cut out for me when I mend THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS.

How do you write: quick and messy or slow and ponderous?

Vacation from Reality

Vacations are great. They’re so nice, sometimes I need a break from real life after a vacation—the old “I need a vacation to recuperate from my vacation” situation. That’s about what happened, but now I’m here, and this week marks my first full one back in the old routine.
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Boring, you might think, but it’s not so. Structure is a good thing in my house, as highly sought after as a trip to “The most magical place on earth.” When living with autism, there needs to be a sense of balance in day-to-day life. My oldest son loves his wall calendar. He needs to know when to expect certain activities and send reinforcements if the month doesn’t have a “Play Date” listed at least once. Our schedule might not be as hectic as yours, but both he and I need to know where we’re going in the days ahead, even if it’s just a “work” and “play” day at home.
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Where does all this talk lead me? To the realization that even though I didn’t finish the first draft of my current work-in-progress, THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS, before leaving on vacation like I wanted to, I will finish by the end of this month. That might be a big leap for some, but hang in there. When (not if) I complete this draft, it will be my quickest completion to date. Granted it will also be my shortest manuscript, but taking a full story from idea to finished first draft in six months is amazing for this writer.

More on this forth coming miracle in the next two weeks, for now, let’s savor in the vacation memories.
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Where have you gone lately?

Story Growth

Fernando is spreading. He even has new fiddleheads coming from the earth—not the tree—this time. Go, Fernando!

Fernando, up close and personal.

Fernando, up close and personal.

Just like the fern, my own stories are growing. I’m on the downhill for the first draft of my current project, and it has a shiny new working title: THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS.

Fernando in all his glory.

Fernando in all his glory.

Fernando—just like my writing goal—doesn’t always look this good. Sometimes, like today, it’s more like this:

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But there is time this afternoon for water to improve his health, like my story will strengthen if I nurture my writing time.

P.S. Here’s Fernando’s cousin, living on another water oak across the yard. Do you have a Fernando at your house? Have you nourished it today?

Hey, cousin!

Hey, cousin!

Corroded Images

Last month I posted about my photographic journey through the backyard while seeking inspiration. Among images captured were items in various stages of rust.

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For the newer visitors, CORRODED is the (working) title of one of my finished manuscripts. Since writing the novel, I’ve been seeking out corrosion and rust in everyday life. There is a beauty in the patina, art in the rainbow of colors on the different objects.

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Since this has been a week of sorrow and reflection for many, please remember to seek for the good. Hope can be found all around, even in a rusty pipe.

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Happy Book Birthday

Happiest of Book Birthdays to one of my critique buddies, Joyce Scarbrough!

After Me

AFTER Me is ready for purchase for your Kindle or Nook.

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I’ve got my copy ready.

My blurb: AFTER ME is a hilariously dark look into the afterlife of a privileged teen who had a less than ideal home and personal life. Given a chance to avenge her death by taking on a new identity, readers will laugh and root for Jada during her adventures in the world of the transdead living among us.

Read it and say hello to Flo for me. :)