Tuesday, March 17, 2015

No Expiration Date

I don't know about you guys, but I never really pay much attention to expiration dates.  Unlike my husband who won't go near food if it is a single day past the date on the packaging, I generally think of expirations as a suggestion.  I usually take the lid off, take a big whiff, and if it still smells edible then in my mind, it is.  I recognize the danger of this, however, and in the event that I contract a nasty bout of food poisoning I reserve the right to retract my statement.  However, up to this point, I've never made myself sick by eating bread that was one day "stale" or cereal that tasted a little like cardboard.  Hell, if the milk doesn't have that funky sour smell, I'm gonna drink it.

That being said, I was thinking the other day about how expiration dates apply to life.  Are there certain things that will eventually expire whether we want them to or not?  Do things go sour or get stale or simply turn brown and start decaying? It's a weird way to think about life, but after some self reflection, I think the answer is undoubtedly yes. If you're a control freak like me, admitting that there are things that you have absolutely no control over is ridiculously painful, but it's a fact of life. No matter how hard I try, I cannot stop the inevitable.  So in the same way perishables "expire," so do certain aspects of our lives.

Friendships, for example, tend to have a rather short shelf life.  Like bananas, they are green with potential in the beginning.  But then as they begin to ripen, their true colors begin to show through. Sometimes, you can find the perfect, golden yellow banana that fufills your snacking desires to the tenth degree.  But other times, that perfect banana that was so beautiful a few days ago, is now covered with brown spots and mushy to the touch.  You didn't want it to happen and you certainly never intended to let it get that far, but it did.  And now you have a choice.  Eat the mushy banana and know that it will never be as crisp and refreshing as it used to be, or chunk the poor thing and seek riper fruit elsewhere.  In my lifetime, I have seen far too many friendships turn brown.  Some of these lost friendships still haunt me to this day and the pain of those losses still break me more times than I care to admit. It's sad to think about, but in reality I think a large number of friendships eventually turn brown and are no longer worth eating.

I think it's safe to argue that expiration dates also apply to romantic relationships.  When you buy a gallon of milk, you assume that it will last you quite some time.  I mean, it's a whole gallon. And it 2%--the exact type that you like. Surely that will be enough to satisfy your needs, right?  But then time passes and you begin to forget why you bought the milk in the first place.  You forget to drink it and you don't spend time making sure your calcium and dairy needs are met. You prefer the fresh squeezed orange juice or the apple juice you saw someone else rocking. Or you find that you and that milk just don't get along (lactose intolerant peeps, am I right?)  So then you're left with half a gallon of sour milk.  You don't want to throw it out--it was expensive!  But you also can't drink sour milk. So what do you do?  You eventually pour it down the drain, nurse your broken heart, and then move on to newer and fresher gallons of milk.

I think you get where I'm going with this.  Jobs, hairstyles, fashion trends, finances, and hell, our own existence all have expiration dates.

Sounds kinda terrible, doesn't it?  Geeze, Kim.  Good job depressing your readers by telling them that everything in life will eventually die.  BUT, hang on.  I promise there's a point to all of this and you don't want to miss it.

Yes, the majority of things in life have an expiration date.  So do we simply accept the facts and wait for these things in our life to expire?  Do we sit back and do nothing? Do we embrace the finality of it all and just curl up in the fetal position and ponder our miserable plight?


No,  my friends, we don't.  Sure, there are things that we can't control and certain expiration dates that we can't avoid.  BUT there's no reason why we can try to extend the shelf life a bit.  Or better yet, completely ignore the date altogether.

If something in your life is decaying, something that you desperately wish to hang on to, then fight like hell for it.  If you've lost friendships along the way, then make sure that you cherish every new friend that you make.  Take the lessons you learned from all those bad bananas and be the type of friend that is worth having and keeping.  If your relationships are failing, don't just sit back and wait for them to be completely sour.  Communicate with each other and don't be afraid to speak what's on your mind and your heart.  If it works, awesome.  If it doesn't, at least you won't feel so guilty about moving on and buying that new gallon of milk.

I'm not saying it won't be hard and that it won't be painful, but I feel like there's a large number of people out there who live their lives counting down to the expiration dates.  That's no way to live in my opinion.   Stop looking at the labels, people!  Stop being afraid or held back by your pain.  If you never get a little crazy and eat the gooey,fermented grapes, are you really living?  It won't kill you, I promise.

If I'm being honest, this is something I am struggling with myself.  My dream of becoming a published author seems so very far away. In fact, most days all I see is a mushy, brown banana.  Part of me wants to give up--it's time, after all.  The banana is no good.  It's past it's expiration date.  But the other part of me says, "No, Kim!  It's not!"  Yes, the banana is mushy and brown, but guess what? THOSE bananas are the ones that make the sweetest banana bread.  So stop being a chicken shit and make bread already!

 Wow.  It sounds so simple doesn't it?  Just make bread.

I guess where I am going with all of this is yes, everything has an expiration date.  But that doesn't mean we have to stop living or we have to give up the things we really want.  Stop letting the dates define you.  Stop letting the dates make your choices for you.  Stop letting those dates tell you that you can't.

You can.

Because you want to know what doesn't have an expiration date?

Passion. Courage. Faith. Drive. Ambition. Love. Kindness. Perseverance.

And with all of those things,  you never have to obsess about a date.  You can close your eyes, take a bite of the french fries covered in year old ketchup and know that no matter what comes you can handle it.

You can do it.

So, I'm gonna take my own advice and work towards making a delightful little loaf of banana bread. It may take me forever, but I refuse to let this dream of mine expire.

The simple truth is this: Life itself may have an expiration date, but living, really living life to the fullest will never grow sour.

So, my dear friends, go out there and live.  Live and live well.

Until next time, Folks!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hand-Stitched Hope

I'm a writer.  Or at least that's what I tell myself.  There are days when I feel like I can conquer the world--just me and my keyboard.  Other days, I feel as though I am nothing and have nothing to offer.  It's a love/hate relationship and at times being a writer is the loneliest feeling in the world.  More times than not, I want to give up, I want to stop, I want to quit.  But it's not in me.  I can't give up. I can't quit.  Because words are my life.  And being a writer is not just something I do, it's who I am.

When I started this crazy journey several years ago, I never thought it would amount to anything.  I've had more failures than successes, and I still feel like a very small fish in a very large pond....no, ocean.  Definitely ocean.  I thought people would think I was crazy for attempting it.  Writing a novel.  Who does that, right?  But to my surprise, people supported me and encouraged me to go for it.  I was shocked.  Not just because people told me to do it, but because they believed I actually could.  In the last year alone, I have been blown away by the overwhelming support I have received.  My family, my friends, and even simple acquaintances know about this dream of mine. They know about it and they support it.  What writer could ask for anything better than that?  Hope is a powerful thing and every time someone believes that I might be able to actually achieve my greatest dream, it gives me an incredible sense of hope.  And more than anything, I need that hope.

Well, today I received some hope, and I simply have to share with you.

When I came home from work today, there was a box sitting on my doorstep from an old family friend, Shannon.  I've known Shannon since I was in the 5th grade and over the years we have bonded over our love of all things nerdy, being moms, and of course, being military wives together.  Over the last year, Shannon has been posting about a super secret quilting project she was working on.  It never occurred to me that the quilt she was working on was for me, but when I opened the box, this was inside:

Pictures don't do it justice at all, but take my word for it--this is the most beautiful and thoughtful quilt I have ever seen. Each square is hand quilted with a inspirational or geeky quote.  Around the edges are all my writing hashtags that I use on twitter as well as the ones that pertain to my life, included #proudcoastiewife,  #teacherlife, and #twinsaintforsisses.  In a word, this quilt is absolutely perfect.  Never before in my life have I been given such an incredibly thoughtful and touching gift.  I couldn't help but cry as I poured over each square, artfully hand-stitched just for me.

Shannon's accompanying note was what really got me though.  In it, she explained how she had been following my writing journey for a while now and was inspired by all of my writing posts. It makes me cry all over again as I type this. Me? Inspire people?  It's a crazy notion, really, but hearing that my desperate and unwavering pursuit of my dream might inspire others to do the same moves me in a way that I cannot put into words.

Part of Shannon's letter to me

Shannon, thank you so much for my #peptalk quilt. I consider myself to be a wordweaver, but you have literally rendered me speechless.  It's actually taken me a bit of time to write this post--mostly because every word I write just doesn't seem like enough.  Your gift and the love and kindness behind it mean so much to me.  You have given me so much more than just an awesome blanket to snuggle with.  You have given me courage, inspiration, and the strength to keep going. When I'm feeling discouraged and I am consumed with self-doubt, I will look down at the quilt in my lap and remember that nothing worth having comes easy. That I can and will accomplish my dream.  Thank you for that.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.  I will forever cherish my quilt.  It is the single most thoughtful gift anyone has ever given me.

It also reminds me just how much a random act of kindness can mean to someone.  I promise to pay it forward.  Thank you again and I am SO sending you a signed first edition when I get published! :)

Below are a few pics of the quilt.  It's just so freaking incredible, you guys.  There are simply no words.

#HarryPotterNerd  #Slytherinforlife

#truth  #whovian

Oh Samwise....This is one of my favorite literary quotes of all time.  

I love this.  
Never looking back!
My own words
An excellent reminder.  We all write crap at first.

Your voice matters!  

Blood, sweat, and tears that's for sure!


Haha. Yes, ma'am!
My absolute favorite quote of all time

Words have seemed to fail me tonight, but lately I've been using music to express myself and help with my writer's block and this piece says everything I can't say.  For you, Shannon!

Well, I must admit, I'm feeling a little emotional right now, but it's definitely all happy empotions!  And now that I'm feeling all warm and squishy inside, I think I'm gonna snuggle up with my new quilt and get to work---I've got a book to revise! :)

Until next time, folks!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Flow Like Water

I've got a lot going through my head right now....I tried to put it all into words, but was unsuccessful in doing so.

This, however, does the job.

Until next time, folks.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fight to the Death: The One About the Writing Marathon

Happy Monday, Friends!  I hope your day so far is going well! I'm currently on my lunch break and as I sit here drinking a Santa coca-cola and listening to Christmas music (Don't judge me--it's relaxing!), I figured I needed to give a new writing update.

My last post was kind of a debbie-downer, and even though I think it was important for me to express those feelings at the time, I am very happy to report that I no longer feel like I've hit a wall.  In fact, I feel very much the opposite!  And not only that, but I've actually made significant progress in my novel since then!  Which, of course,  makes me feel like this:

Let me tell you how it all happened.  Not long after I published my last blog post, I was browsing author websites (It's what I do when I need inspiration) and stumbled across an announcement for a pitch event with Entangled Publishing. The concept was simple; all you needed was a 100 word pitch and the first 100 words of your manuscript.  On the day of the event, you posted your pitch and the first 100 words of your MS, and if someone over at Entangled liked what they read, they would request a full reading of your manuscript! It sounded like a wonderful opportunity to me, and I really wanted to participate.  There was only one problem:  My manuscript was nowhere near finished.

To say that I was disappointed and frustrated is the understatement of the year.  I was so angry with myself for not having finished my book... BUT as I sat behind my computer beating myself up, a small voice whispered in my ear.  You want to participate?  Well, why don't you? I immediately rolled my eyes at the voice and ignored it.  How could I possibly participate?  My MS wasn't finished and I had zero time and/or energy to get it done.  Hell, the way I was going, it would never be finished!

But then the voice whispered again. But Kim, if you wait for the perfect time to write, the perfect moment when you feel physically and mentally ready, you'll be waiting forever. Just sit down and write.  Don't take no for an answer. Fight for it!  

Talk about a slap in the face!  I literally sat there with my mouth hanging open. Was it really that simple? Fight for it?  Wasn't that what I had been trying to do for the last few years?   I sat still for a few moments trying to come up with some kind of response to that voice, some sort of excuse or rebuttal to the words that were still ringing in my ears, but I simply could not come up with anything.

Finally, I sighed.  "You're right,"  I whispered out loud.  "You're absolutely right."  It was in that moment that I finally realized how to get over the wall. And it was in that same moment that I decided to throw myself headlong into a kamikaze writing marathon.

I had exactly two weeks until the pitch event.  Was it possible to write the rest of my novel in that time frame?  It sounded like a terrible idea.  Crazy, even!  But was it possible?  The larger part of my brain was telling me no, that it was ludicrous to even think about it.  But the smaller part of my brain, the home of that tiny little voice was radiating with confidence.  Yes, it was possible.  And I was going to do it.

After talking it over with Jim, I committed myself to writing every single day for the next two weeks.  No matter how tired I was or what other commitments I had, I was going to make my writing the number one priority.  I was going to get that dang MS finished if it killed me!  So, for the next two weeks, I abandoned all notions of housework,  ignored the growing stacks of papers on my desk that needed to be graded, and asked my sweet husband to do more than his fair share of toddler-wrangling.   Every spare second I had was spent working on my book.  And as I began to lose myself in the world of my characters, the words began to flow like never before.  It was suddenly easy to find my voice and even though I was physically and mentally exhausted, my determination gave me the strength to keep going.    I just kept writing and writing and writing.  I wouldn't let myself stop.

I went through more cups of coffee than I can count, and I got ZERO sleep, but I honestly loved every minute of it.

So how did I do?

Well, in eleven days, I wrote 17,000 words and completed six new chapters!

I don't know about you, but I think that's a good enough reason to do a happy dance!

Now, if you're paying attention, you will note that I did not actually finish my MS like I had intended. I had to end my writing marathon earlier than planned due to an out of town trip and some health issues. BUT I am only two chapters away from completion and I'm feeling like I'm in a really good place.  And I think it's important to celebrate what I did manage to accomplish! I mean 17,000 words is hardly something to sneeze at, and I am so proud of the way I pushed myself.  That little voice in my head was right after all.

 I went ahead and participated in the pitch event even though the MS wasn't quite done, and while nothing came of it, I am really proud of myself and all that I accomplished.  I plan to be finished with the final chapters by the end of the upcoming weekend, and I promise to post a massive celebratory post when I do!  I honestly never thought I'd get to this point and it feels fantastic to know that very soon I will be able to say that I actually wrote a book.  I mean, how many people can actually say that!?   I'm just so stinking proud of myself.  I was feeling so lost and discouraged and majorly disconnected from my dream--but now, I realize that if you want something bad enough, you just have to fight like hell for it.

And that's exactly what I plan to do.

Once the MS is finished, I still have quite a long road ahead of me.  I already know there are some pretty extensive revisions to be made, and then I plan to send it out to a few beta readers (if you're interested in being a beta for me, let me know!).  Once I get feedback from my beta readers, it will be time for another round of revisions and then on to my query letter.  The query letter is the first step in acquiring an agent.  I am 100% intimidated by the publishing process, and I don't even know if my book is any good, but I am determined to see this process to the end.  Maybe my book will be on bookshelves one day and maybe it won't, but either way I'm going to fight like hell for it.

Thank you so much to everyone who has offered me encouragement along the way.  I honestly couldn't have done it without you.  Also, a very special thank you needs to go out to my dear friend, Ashley, who is not only an amazing critique partner, but also a great friend and support system.  If this book ever makes it on a bookstore shelf, she will be a huge part of the reason why.  Thanks girl! Also, a huge thanks to my other CPs, Jen and Christine.  Your feedback, encouragement, and support mean the world to me.  Thank you for helping make my little novel shine!

And lastly, thank you to my family and to YOU my awesome readers.  You are the reason I'm writing this book, and I promise you, one way or another I will find a way to get it into your hands.

Ray Bradbury once said, "You only fail when you stop writing."  And I don't plan to stop, not ever.

The road is long yet, but I know that one day soon, I'll find the end.  And I couldn't be happier that at least for now, I've made it over that dang wall!


Until next time, Folks!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hitting the Wall

 Hello Friends!  I hope this fine Friday is finding all of you well.   :)

It's been a few weeks, so I thought it was time to give a little update.  You-- my faithful supporters in this crazy endeavor-- deserve one after all, and I need to keep myself accountable.  So, here goes.

The last time I updated, I was feeling remarkably optimistic. It was the end of summer and while I had not met my deadline of a completed manuscript, I did make significant progress and was feeling really great about the future of my book.  In fact, according to my recently updated chapter plan, I only have about 7-8 chapters before the first draft is done.   All of this sounds awesome, and it is, but unfortunately I have encountered a small problem.


It looks a little something like this:

I don't mean to whine or complain, but every since school started back, I feel like my job is literally sucking out my soul.  I'm teaching two brand new preps this year, which means, in addition to the actual teaching, there's a lot of extra work for me behind the scenes.  I've also taken on several new leadership roles and have been given additional responsibilities.  I'm determined to not be a mediocre teacher.  I want to be an EFFECTIVE teacher.  So, that means I am constantly pushing myself to do more and be more.  Sometimes I wish I could slack off or care less, but that's not who I am.  And that's where the wall comes in...

By the time I get home in the afternoons, I am exhausted.  But yet, I still have two important jobs to perform:  Wife and Mother.  There are dinners to be cooked, baths to be given, stories to be read, songs to sing, and little girls to tickle until they giggle.  This is probably the best part of my day, but I'm gonna be honest and say that I'd enjoy it a heck of a lot more if I wasn't so tired from my day job.
After the girls go to bed (around 8ish), I'm--in theory--left to my own devices.  I'm supposed to be using that time to finish my manuscript, but by the time 8:30 rolls around, I usually look like this:

 Yea....I'm old and pathetic, what can I say?  I also know what you're thinking.  Use the weekends, Kim!  Stop complaining and just make use of your Saturdays!   I hear you, I do.  But on the weekends, I have to get caught up on everything I've neglected during the week.  (I mean, I can only go so long without clean underoos).  Not to mention the fact that I am trying to quell my Mommy guilt by spending as much time as possible with my little gremlins and trying to make up for being a negligent wife by cooking casseroles and giving much earned attention to my main squeeze.  

Life is all about balance, right?  Well, lately I feel like I have zero balance.  Since school started, I have sat down at my computer with the intention to write exactly ONE time. And want to know what I accomplished?  VERY LITTLE.  It was incredibly frustrating.  Now, I have myself convinced that I will never finish my book, that another year will go by and I will not have accomplished anything.  I know that everyone says "good writers write everyday" but my question is HOW THE HELL DO THEY DO THAT?

I guess if I'm being honest, I feel very much like a failure.  I've hit a wall, so to speak, and I'm not really sure how to get back up.  Jim keeps telling me this is normal, that eventually everything will settle down and I will somehow find a way and a routine to fit everything in, but I'm not superwoman,  And I don't know how to make all the pieces of this puzzle fit together.  Last year, I managed to find the balance and make it work, but this year with two new subjects and the added pressure of standardized testing, I feel like all my good brain cells go towards that.  What I have left over, I offer to my family and even THAT seems like an injustice.

 I need more hours in the day.  I need more hands.  Hell, I could probably make do with an extra head or two.  I just want to find a way to juggle all of my responsibilities and priorities without feeling like one or the other is suffering.   People tell me all the time that life is about sacrifices, but what do you do when there's nothing to give up?  I can't quit my job, my family is nonnegotiable, and all that's left is my writing.  And to take that away from me, would be like cleaving the soul out of my body.  If I couldn't write.....well, I wouldn't be me.

I realize that this post seems like a gigantic whiner fest, and okay, maybe it is.  But if nothing else, it makes me feel better to have my fingers on a keyboard pouring out the words in my head.  I'm typically the suffer in silence type, so at least this way, I can express just how tightly bound I have felt as of late.  I don't want to my book to be the sacrifice.  I really don't.  But tell me, friends, how in the world do you make your dream come true when you have so very little leftover to offer it?

I guess that's why it's called a dream.  If it were something you could achieve everyday, we'd have nothing to work towards.

At this point I am open to suggestions.  Writer friends, how do you do it?  How do you make time?  How do you ensure that the brain cells you offer your MS are actually quality ones and not deep-fried?  How do you make the world in your head a priority, when you can barely keep your head above water in the real world?

And you want to know the worst part of it all?

I might not be any good at it.

Here I am stressing about  finishing my novel, when in reality it might just be the crappiest book ever written.   So is it really worth it?

The voice inside of me--the one who thinks that dreams can and do come true--says YES. ABSOLUTELY.  But the other voice inside me that tells me every day how mediocre and inadequate I am is SCREAMING at me, telling me that I am wasting my time.  That I am not a good writer, that this dream is nothing but a delusional fantasy.

So which is it?

Well, I'm honestly not sure.  All I know is that I've hit a wall.  And before I can figure out whether this dream of mine is worth it,  I have to get over it.

So friends, if I haven't completely annoyed you with my whining, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Lord knows, I need all the help I can get.

Until next time, Folks!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014-2015 Reading List!

A lot of writers I know and admire encourage fellow aspiring writers to read as much as possible. I've always loved this particular piece of advice, especially since I'm an avid reader and can think of no greater joy than losing myself in a piece of fiction.  Over the summer, I tracked all of the books I read--and really enjoyed doing so!  So, with tomorrow marking the beginning of a brand new school year, I thought it would be fun to track how many books I can read during the year--all while balancing life and work responsibilities!  Besides if it will help me finish my own novel, then why not?!  :)

My Reading Goal for the 2014-2015 school year:  45-50 books (I think I'm a little bit nuts!)

I'll be updating my list as I go along, and please feel free to make recommendations!

1. Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
2. UnEnchanted: An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 1 by Chanda Hahn
3. Fairest: An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 2 by Chanda Hahn
4. Fable: An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 3 by Chanda Hahn
5. The Boyfriend Thief by Shana Norris
6. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
7. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
8. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
9. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
10. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
11. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
12. Just One Year by Gayle Forman
13. Just One Night (novella) by Gayle Forman
11. Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabladon
12. Reign by Chanda Hahn
13. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (re-read)
14. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (re-read)
15. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
16. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
17. Requiem by Lauren Oliver
18. Rae of Sunshine by Micalea Smeltzer
19. Letting Go by Molly McAdams
20. Finding Olivia by Micalea Smeltzer
21. Chasing Olivia by Michalea Smeltzer
22. Sever by J.M. Miller
23. Atlantia by Allie Condie
24. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (re-read)
24. The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
25. V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram
26. A is for Abstinence by Kelly Oram
27. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
28. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
29. The Heir by Kiera Cass

Until Next time, Folks!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I think I can....

It hurts me to say this, but summer is officially over.  Let us pause now for a moment of silence to say goodbye....

Okay, now that's over with, I wanted to fill you in on what's been going on with my novel!  As you all know, I had hoped that this summer would be the summer that I finished my manuscript.  However, for a myriad of reasons, that did not happen.  I talked about it in my last post, but the cliff's notes version is this:  WRITING IS HARD.  Add in a gall bladder surgery, vacation to Alabama, speech therapy appointments, and two very sassy, potty-training, toddler bed transitioning two year olds and it's clear to see why it just didn't happen.   It's hurts my heart a little bit, I won't lie, BUT I've managed to come to terms with it, and I've accepted the fact that I can't be in a huge rush to finish my novel.  I believe it WILL happen, and I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later, but right now I just have to be patient with myself and understand that life happens, and I shouldn't feel bad about it. 

Jim is constantly reminding me that there is absolutely no timeline working against me and he's right. There's no deadline hanging over my head, no one demanding that I finish my story, so why stress myself out? I always place an unnecessary amount of pressure on myself, and I'm really working to overcome that.  I want my novel to be one that's actually worth reading.  If I rush myself and try to force the magic to happen, my story will be sub par at best. That's the very last thing I want.  So, for now, I've adopted the Little Engine that Could's motto.   I think I can....I think I can....I think I can.....  

Even though I didn't finish my manuscript this summer,  I did manage to make some significant progress!  From the middle of June to the beginning of August, I rewrote or did significant revisions to five chapters and wrote four brand new chapters!  That's a huge accomplishment!  I also broke 50k which is super exciting.  My original word count goal for the entire manuscript was 60k and knowing that I am going to exceed that by quite a bit by the time I'm done is such an awesome feeling.  I may not have achieved the overall goal of total completion, but I did manage to accomplish several smaller goals and I think that's worth celebrating!   The story is really starting to come along and jive, and I've gotten really good feedback from my critique partners on the latest chapters.  I feel like I'm really getting to know my characters and I'm finally starting to see them truly come alive on the page.  All in all, I feel like I'm in a good place with my manuscript, and seeing how the story is progressing is an AWESOME feeling.  In fact, it feels just like this:

But here's where the hard part comes in.....I went back to work this week.  I'm only two days in and I already feel like this:

My job isn't easy (even though people think it is), and this year I have some new and very scary challenges ahead of me.  I know I can do it, but I'm worried that my novel will be forced on the back burner for a while.  Correction:  I KNOW it will.  There's no way I can manage my workload, my family, and my novel all at the same time. It's disappointing and frustrating, but it's my reality. At least for right now...

Once things settle down and the school year gets underway, I know I'll find time for my writing again, but I am TERRIFIED of losing the vibe I had going for me this summer.  What if I lose the connection I have with my characters? What if I have zero motivation?  What if I lose my muse? The "what ifs"  are killing me, but I'm trying to stay positive.  Ray Bradbury once said, "you only fail when you stop writing"  and no matter what, I'm gonna keep writing---even if all I write it crap.  My CP, Ashley, tells me all the time that "we can fix crap! We can't fix a blank page!"  

I just ask that all of you please send me some positive vibes over the next few weeks. According to my chapter plan, I'm only 8-10 chapters away from COMPLETING THE NOVEL!  I'm too close to stop now, but I'm worried I'm not strong enough to make it....  So send me a warm thought or two, okay?

My biggest dream is to complete a story that people want to read, and now with the end in sight, I just have to keep pushing myself to make it happen.  I guess it's kinda stupid, but I really believe it could happen for me if I don't give up.  I guess I just have to keep saying that mantra over and over in my head.

I think I can....I think I can....I think I can....

And maybe, just maybe, it will happen.

Until Next Time, Folks!