I am the Queen of Pinterest Fails.

There has never been anything in my life that has made me feel like an underachiever quite as much as Pinterest. Oh sure, I jumped on the bandwagon and have posted to boards including Crochet, Gift ideas, and Home Décor. I’m guilty. But, as I pinned the latest pin to my son’s Minecraft birthday board, I knew there was no way, by any stretch of the imagination, I was going to get it all done before his friends hit the door tomorrow afternoon.

I chalk up another fail.

And, that makes me wonder how many of us set ourselves up for failure by looking through the unrealistic lens of social media. It seems that the exceptional has become the expectation for many of us. I look through boards and think, “well, that looks easy enough. I can do that.” But, the reality is, I can’t. If I want to continue to be a mother, a wife, a teacher, a writer, a housekeeper, a scheduler, an accountant, and a cheerleader for my family, I don’t have the time to make that window seat around my dining room window or that super fantastic multi-colored shawl.

So, tomorrow afternoon, the eight-year-olds will have to do without the mining boxes and the pixilated windows. They will have to do without the creeper faces drawn painstakingly on each and every plastic plate. They will have to do without the personalized video of screenshots and music.

But, I’m pretty sure they won’t care. As long as there’s pizza, cake, and enough sugar to fuel San Diego, they’ll be fine. They might even have a good time.

And, I will sit back and smile and feel like I have achieved something…as I delete the Minecraft birthday party board.

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Oh no!!! It’s the dreaded mid-Camp NaNo slump!

Chugging along.

5,000 words in –
I’ve introduced my characters, the problem, and given a glimpse into what will happen. The novel has begun and I am excited and optimistic as a writer. All is well.

10,000 words in –
The characters are busy interacting and suspense is building. I really like my characters. They are interesting and have such individualistic world views and I can’t wait to find out more about them as I write. All is well.

15,000 words in –
The problem may just be too big for these characters, but, they are taking on lives of their own at this time and the story is practically writing itself. All is still well.

20.000 words in –
The plot line is subdividing. The characters are taking me on a journey through their lives and it’s getting good! Well, except for that one pesky plot hole that’s big enough to consume New Hampshire. All is well. Really it is.

23,854 words in –
Okay. The characters are stuck in a rut. The plot has flat lined. The subplots just seem juvenile and silly at this point. And, I don’t even like my main character all that much right now. Frankly, she’s getting on my nerves a little. I’m stuck. I can’t write. Why did I think I could sit down and put words on paper that people would actually be interested in reading? I should just hang it up now and quit while I’m ahead before I’ve inflicted this horrific story on the general public. All is not well. And I need chocolate.

25,006 words in –
The main character did something a few pages ago completely out of character for her and it has jump started both my imagination and has given a shot of adrenaline to the entire plot. Characters are once again on top of their game. They can figure out this problem. I can keep writing. I mean, after all, the slump’s over and everything from here on out is downhill. Right?

All is well.

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What has two thumbs and loves the CNG? This girl!

Writing can be a lonely experience. I have spent countless hours in front of my computer screen, banging at the keyboard into the early morning hours. Alone.

But, last November, in the midst of the craziness of NaNoWriMo, some fantastic people decided that there should be a community of writers that meet more often than just once a year. We could meet to critique writing, share information, and support one another in the writing process. And the Columbia Novelists Group was born.

They are an eclectic group of writers at different stages of the game. There are a couple who have already written and self-published with much success. And, the majority of us are aspiring novelists in all sorts of genres. We get together once a month to critique each other’s writing and chat.

I adore these people.

Yesterday, we met at the library and after I left the meeting, I thought about how much better my writing would be because of that meeting. The people in the group challenge, encourage, question, and celebrate.

Thanks for a great meeting yesterday and for all of the wonderful feedback!

You can find some of their blogs and books below:

Liz Schulte (latest book available here)
Amalgamation
Hedena James (latest book available here)
Not So Easy Breezy
Columbia Novelist’s Group (just started – check back for updates)

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Family Time vs. Writing Time

The last two days I’ve spent home with my parents, helping to watch my adorable one-year-old niece. We’ve spent gobs of time playing on the floor, visiting family, and snuggling.

After a full day yesterday, I sat down around 9 p.m. to try to write and got about 350 words in before my dad and mom sat down to play a board game. I put away my writing.

But, as I sat there, laughing and sharing that time with my parents – my son sleeping in the living room and my niece sleeping in her Pack n Play – I realized that writing is writing. And, if I’m too focused on writing, I may just miss out on the experience!

It’s hard to juggle it all! How do other writers do it? How do you find the time to write, but not miss out on experiences?

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Argh! Blasted Widget!

Tonight, I pounded out over 5,000 words in my Camp NaNo piece.

Admittedly, this course was taken because my friend logged in a higher total word count than me today and I am so ridiculously competitive that I had to exceed her count (sorry, Amanda!). But, another reason I wrote so much was because it is somehow one of the singular most wonderful moments in my life to watch a little bar graph increase as I log my words.

Seriously – it’s better than chocolate.

The widget I chose for my WordPress site works beautifully, showing how many words I have logged and the percentage of the 50,000 total I have done. HOWEVER (and this is a big one) the little blue bar graph is stuck at around ten percent.

Maddening. Frustrating. Disheartening. Ugh.

Any suggestions for a word count widget that works and will allow me to judge my success at writing by a little bar graph that actually moves with each new word count entry?

I will be forever grateful – and I may even provide you with some chocolate! 🙂

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Excerpt from Camp NaNo piece

I’m 11,213 words in on Day 6 and I’m typing away. Who knows if any of it will be good when I’m done – or even readable for that matter, but so far, it’s been a blast to write.

My young adult novel (aimed at junior-high to high school aged) is about Lillian Hayes, a nineteen-year-old college student who witnesses the murder of her boyfriend of seven years, Ben. She begins suffering from nightmares and ends up meeting a group of students on campus led by Lee Kyung-Sam who are developing a treatment for PTSD that uses Lucid Dreaming. Lillian takes part in their study and finds out that there are more to her dreams than meet the eye.

Here’s the first page – without any edits. It’s posted just as I wrote it down at midnight on July 1. I’ll start editing when I finish writing.

Enjoy!

Chapter 1
“I dream of you to wake, would that I might Dream of you and not wake but slumber on” (Christina G. Rossetti).

There were only three minutes and thirty-seven seconds between when Lillian held her boyfriend’s hand on the couch and when he died in her arms.
Three minutes.
Thirty-seven seconds.

“I feel sorry for them,” Ben said, nodding toward the television screen. He sat back on the faded brown couch, his longs legs propped up on the coffee table. “You know, they haven’t won a game all season?”
Lillian glanced up from her book, the eraser end of the pencil between her teeth.
“No one comes here for the football team anyway,” she said, shrugging a shoulder and pushing her red hair behind her right ear.
“I know, but you have to feel sorry for those guys. They go all over the state to play and they always lose. Sucks,” he said, tossing back the rest of his beer. He considered the bottle for a minute. “You have any more of these?”
Lillian twisted the eraser around in her mouth, staring intently at the book in her lap.
“Earth to Lill,” Ben teased, tapping her on the head with a pillow.
“What? Oh, sorry,” she laughed. Ben always thought her smile made her eyes look greener than they already were. “What’d you ask me?”
“I asked if you had any more beer.”
“Maybe. I think Tamryn left one or two the last time she was over. You do have a test tomorrow, right?”
Ben shrugged.
“It’s not a big deal.”
“You know, it is, though. You have to pass this class. If you don’t, you’ll have to do another year here and your dad will disown you.” She narrowed her eyes at him in her attempt to be stern.
“Naw. He’ll just give me the speech. You know, the ‘you’ve got a good head on your shoulders, son, and you can succeed if you just apply yourself’ one.”
Lillian stifled a giggle. She’d known Ben’s dad, Art, almost as long as she’d known Ben and she could picture the way his mustache would twitch when he spoke to his son.
“He just wants the best for you,” she said, closing her book and putting it down on the table. The cool October breeze blew through the open window, and a mini blind vibrated in the wind. She got up to close the window. “Quit looking at my butt,” she teased.
“Can’t help it. Finest butt in the state,” he said, reaching out to plant a slap on her backside. He pulled her down onto the couch and kissed her. His hands wrapped in her red hair and his lips found her neck.
“Okay, okay,” she said, pushing away. “I can’t tonight. I have too much to do.”
Ben’s tongue flicked along her earlobe and he exhaled. She jumped up, slapping him in the arm.
“Ow!” he yelled, holding his arm.
“That didn’t hurt.”
“Oh, man. I think I’ll have to sit out the tournament on Saturday.” Ben wound his arm around a couple of times. “Seriously. There may be ligament damage.”
“You’re ridiculous,” she said, getting up and going into the bathroom.

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Happy 4th of July!

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Wishing everyone a happy, safe, fun-filled holiday!

We spent the day hanging out as a family and now we’re grilling ribs and peppers.  Wonderful day.

xoxo

Image from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=403

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