Writing during Quarantine and struggling.

When we were originally told about this quarantine, my first thought was “I will get so much writing done!” (I was very concerned about the world. I am not heartless. I saw this as a silver lining.)

So far, this has been a miserable fail.

Granted, I am very worried about my husband who is considered an “essential” employee and still has to go out and work everyday. (Stop ordering things online. DO you really need that makeup box or those shoes? Someone still has to risk their health to bring it to you.) I’ve also been attempting to figure out how to do my job remotely.

I have struggled. With writing, with maintaining this blog. With not eating all the snacks in my pantry.

I am a person of structure. I really like having a routine and sticking to that routine.

I liked that I could get up at 5, work out, get ready for work and be in my classroom but 7:10 every morning. I liked knowing I would be home by 4. I knew I had that time to write, eat, play with my dogs, spend time with my husband. I liked climbing into bed at 9, reading or watching a little TV before falling asleep.

The structure has been taken from me. I have the freedom to do whatever I want. I should be thrilled.

Somehow, this makes it worse.

I found that I struggle to workout and write in the same days. I write with ease on the days I write first but then I don’t want to work out. On days I work out, once I shower, I struggle to find words. My normal 1500 words in an hour is done in two. I also upped my word count since I have all day to work on it. I rarely hit that 3000 goal.

I tried making audiobooks as a way to be involved in the industry and maybe make a little extra money right now. The three animals are against the being quiet and letting mom work in peace. For some reason, they will nap all day while I am working on my laptop or on my desktop in the office. But the second I go down to the makeshift recording studio we have, they all want inside the little room. Then they want to wrestle and bark and meow. Not really good for recording audio.

Exhausted after a morning of harrassment

I am throwing myself back into the writing. I read over my current work in progress, editing and adding in missing details. I know what i want to change and how I want to continue.

Is anyone else struggling to maintain structure? Is it just me that is not taking advantage of all this time that has been given to me? In my defense, Friends is on from 8 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon.

Would writing out my schedule help? If I force myself to workout first, then write, then lunch, would that help?

I don’t know what the answer is. But, I want to be successful at this writing for a living thing and I’ve been given the opportunity to figure it out. I need stop watching Friends and do this. Only I can make my future happen.


Book Cover?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a saver. I dislike to spend money and when I have to purchase something rather expensive, like a new dryer or a car, I spend MONTHS researching before I commit. Even then, I regret my decision. I started this writing journey over a year ago. I think if I had been more serious at the start, I would have stopped myself from doing it because it is so expensive. Editing, formatting, marketing, book cover design. Everything has a large price tag on it. 

I’ve had to change my perspective a bit. I look at this whole writing/publishing thing as an investment in myself. I have not has a problem investing my time in the writing. I might as well invest the money to wrap my writing with a pretty cover. Because we all judge books based on the cover. My target audience will pick up my book if the cover is creepy enough. I am one of those people. If the covers scream horror, it will be in my hands. 

I had to research. I’m sure you are all sick of me talking about the research. All the self-publishing bloggers, mailers, Youtubers of the world say the same thing. Invest in a good cover. You will probably have a killer story with amazing character and wonderful prose. But no one will pick it up if it looks like a small child drew the cover for you. But, like you maybe, I did not want to spend the money. Kris convinced me it would be okay. 

I found my cover designer the same way I found my editor on Reedsy. I will give a more detailed report on the Reedsy experience once I have complete both services. My book is still with the editor.

Finding a cover designer was a little more challenging than finding an editor. I spent days looking over people’s profiles, adding them to the maybe list. I reached out to four designers, heard from all of them, and could make a choice I was happy with. 

If you are in this process and are interested, Reedsy has easy to fill in forms for you to fill out. For the editor, it asks for a synopsis of your book, the characters, etc. You even upload a small sample of your work. One reason I went with my editor was because she offered to sample edit the selection for me so I could preview her work. None of the others did that. The form for the book cover designer is very similar. For this form, it will ask you to upload several covers of published novels that you like or kind of reflect what you want. I went to the bookstore, and I found several online. I’m excited to see what comes of the cover. 

If you are toying with the idea of saving money and not working with a cover designer, I would have to say don’t. Kris tried, but he just couldn’t get it to line up and do what a cover needs to do. 

Excited for my cover. Excited to get my book back edited soon. Just playing the waiting game now. 

Patience is not my strong suit.


Beta Readers, please tell me the truth. I can handle it…maybe?

I gave out my manuscript to the 6 wonderful people who agreed to read it today. They got it a full week earlier than planned. Which means it didn’t get edited for a full week. Yikes!

I warned them of the fact that my manuscript professionally edited yet. (It is in the process of that.) I’m asking them to look past the issues and focus the story. Specifically, plot and character. I am also giving them a worksheet to complete afterwards. I feel better about giving them the worksheet now that we have been given an extra week off.

If you aren’t sure what I am talking about, let me explain. A beta reader is a person you trust to read your book before publishing to give you feedback. Some people have them act as editors too. I am lucky enough to work with people who love to read and volunteered to do this. It helps that they are all educators and read young adult literature regularly.

Just like when I sent it off to the editor though, I stayed up all night convinced that my writing was horrible and they all would get 5 pages in and tell me they have read better stuff from freshman. Which would hurt?

Yesterday, Kris and I spent the morning printing and “binding” the manuscripts. We printed them double sided and tied them together with twine left over from our wedding. We had considered purchasing a spiral binder from Amazon, but this was cheaper.

On the last copy, the toner in our printer ran out. I had to send the last 50 pages and the beta reader worksheet to Staples to finishing printing. 7 bucks, an 2 ice cream blizzards and a trip to town later, we had 6 complete manuscripts and a bit of a mess.

The beta worksheet I stole from a post on The Writing Cooperative called 15 Questions to Send Beta/First Readers. I modified it a little, taking it down to 11 questions. If you would like a copy, please let me know!

It was very cool seeing 6 of my manuscripts stacked together. It is all becoming very real. It terrified me this morning to hand over my book to these unfortunate souls who agreed to read this mess.

They were all fantastic and seemed excited to get them. Kris is waiting for the edited copy to read it. We have also agreed we won’t be in the same room when he reads it. For our marriages sake.


Oh Marketing, I don’t understand you.


In college, I heard people tell me they were taking marketing classes, and I did not understand what that meant. I assumed that it was an easy class as it was a business major who usually was telling me this. 

Now I know, not an easy class. 

I’ve read several books on marketing, listened to some podcasts and watched some YouTube videos. 

I still have no idea what I am doing. 

I know that if I want to be successful; I need a marketing plan, but everything I watch is so contradictory. One person says to blog, another person says don’t waste your time. Another person says Amazon is the only way to go. Another person claims Amazon is the worst. 

I am feeling so overwhelmed I want to scream. 

How, as a new author, am I supposed to figure this out? I don’t want to invest more money than I have to. I also understand that I will need to put some money towards marketing. I’ve started looking into some companies that can do this for me. Some of their prices seem too good to be true, and others are more expensive than editing. 

I just want to sell my book, make a little money, and feel like I accomplished at least one of my lifelong dreams. 

Right now, that seems too far away to be achievable. 

Book is still being edited. The world is on lockdown because of a virus. It is snowing again. 

Marketing. Not a fan.


Off to see the Editor!

I haven’t been sleeping well. 

I think it is a mix of worry, the full moon, three animals who insist on snuggling with mom and the bed just not being comfortable. 

I should be thrilled right now. I have hired an editor, something that I have never done. I have also completed my developmental edits and sent the full manuscript to the editor to be torn apart. 

I know that there will are glaring issues and hope that she destroys my work. In a good way. 

Like most writers, I am probably a little too sensitive about my writing. My husband would be the first to tell you I don’t have a thick skin when people critique my writing. It’s weird, but because it will be a stranger telling me, the feedback will be better than my husband telling me anything about my writing. No offense, honey! 

But I keep getting this sinking feeling that the editor will send the manuscript back in a few days, apologize and say she can’t do anything with this mess. 

The only thing I can do is write for the next few weeks. I plan on diving into a new story and forgetting about the old one.

Outside of finding a book cover artist and figuring out a marketing strategy and getting copies readied for beta readers, checking with my beta readers to make sure they are still okay with reading it, up my blog posts and research building traffic to the blog…while maintaining a life. 


A lazy girl’s writing advice

Good news!  The manuscript is not as big of a disaster as I was expecting. Going back and reading during the writing process really helped me keep the plot under control. I’m not saying there are no mistakes. Because there are a lot of those. But it isn’t as bad as last time I attempted an edit.

I started developmental edits today. I added in an entirely new first chapter. I realized that I needed to start my book off with a bigger bang than the slow pace it had been. I also wanted to provide some context for the backstory and avoid summarizing it throughout the rest of the book. While I did my read through, I wrote on my notepad what needed changed and my goal is to have those edits completed by next weekend so I can devote Friday and Saturday to copy editing. (I wrote a complete plan for my editing process in my last post Holey Moley, it’s first read day!) 

My biggest issue this week was motivation. I had a draining week at work and by the time I got home, the thought of reading, or doing anything related to my book, was exhausting. I pushed through and worked Monday and Tuesday night, but Wednesday and Thursday, Kris and I played one of my favorite games, Stardew Valley. Ridiculously simple, but so engaging. A little addictive too. 

I felt guilty because I took the time off. But on Friday I hit it hard, catching up on everything! I think sometimes we look at those professional writers who tell us to write every day and we have to take a step back and say “I wish I could buddy but here’s the real deal, I work full time. And some days, if I don’t have a little me time, this book will never get done cause I’m gonna quit.” So if you are like me and you just need a few days off, do it! Don’t feel guilty because some yahoo with a YouTube channel can write every day. (On that note, should you really be taking advice from a girl who just took 2 days off for no reason other than being tired? See, I’m just as mean to myself as I am to others!) 

I tell my husband all the time, I would kill it if I stayed home and wrote for a living. I woke up this morning and wrote 1400 words without blinking. Then went through my story, adding in those details I noted and moving text around. I researched some editors I want to contact. Now I’m working on a blog post. It is just a little after 11 and I didn’t start until just before 8. This afternoon, I’ll work a little more on the developmental edits. I feel good about what I have accomplished and know that it makes up for my two days of not working. 

I have to work a 9 to 5 job because I like nice things like food and a roof over my head. Writing might have to take a back seat every once in a while. I should never feel guilty because I would rather spend some time with my husband and playing fetch with my dogs than working on a book. 


Holy Moley, it’s first read day!

Somehow this week got away from me. There was some miscommunication between the hubbie and I about whose turn it was to write a post. (Miscommunication in a marriage! Unheard of!)

I waited two weeks and just finished printing off the first draft of my manuscript. Last night was monthly game night, and I also had to work 6 days this week, so keeping myself occupied has been surprisingly easy. 
I did three things before printing off my manuscript. 

1: I changed the font. I read this tip in one of my editing books/blogs or YouTube viewings.Supposedly it tricks your mind to see the story from a fresh perspective.  I write in Times so I selected Comic Sans to read in. 

2: I broke my manuscript into chapters and started each chapter on a new page. 

3: I set the margins at an inch each and double spaced my lines. Giving me plenty of room to edit. 

177 pages later…

I am getting ready to sit down with my manuscript for the first time read through. Kris asked me at lunch today what my plan of action was. 
I’m starting out simple. I am just going to read it. I will have a notepad with me to jot down on anything major with plot, characters, setting, etc. I just want to get a feel for my story. I will resist the urge to edit as I go. I do not want to overwhelm myself like last time. 

I will then break the pages into chunks and work on more detailed editing from there. My first focus will be developmental editing. I have spoken with several people about reading my manuscript over spring break. I have a little under four weeks to get it done. That makes me highly motivated.

Copy editing will be my next task, looking for major grammatical issues. I hope that my beta readers can read the book over spring break and give me feedback within two weeks. Based on the beta-readers suggestions, I will more than likely have to make adjustments.

Proofreading will be my last step before I find a professional editor. Kris loves research and has already looked at several companies for me. We are in a bit of sticker shock at the moment. Editors are expensive! Not going to see the beach for a while.

I have a solid plan now that I’ve typed it out. Starting is going to be the hardest part. Good thing I have Diet Coke and wine.


Through the snowy woods…

Sometimes you just need to get out of the city for a day. Our area has been hit with a decent sized snow storm at least once a week for the past month. I asked my lovely wife if she wanted to go for a winter hike? “Are you crazy” is the response I received. My buddy Dan who has been begging me to do some back country skiing stepped up. We were hopeful the snow would be good.

Our destination was the old abandoned Conquistador ski area just west of Westcliffe, CO. I read somewhere it was a 90% snow making resort, no wonder it is almost always barren.

As we pulled into town, our hopes were high the runs would be covered. Inching closer to the mountain we could tell the wind had moved through and the mountain was practically bare. Our usual route up the Hermit pass OHV trail is snow covered in the mornings and bare in the afternoon which results in a lot of walking.

Getting geared up.

We decided to try another route. We continued up county road 160 to the Gibson Creek Trailhead. The high for the day 46 degrees, starting temp was 25 with a 30mph wind. Donning our skis we leave the trail head.

Dan the man.

Less then a 1/4 mile it connects to the Rainbow Trail. Weaving our way south through the forest and around ridges.

Unsafe mine shafts, deadly gas and unstable explosives.

We almost missed this sign for an old mine on the Rainbow Trail.

A stream crossing was next, no tracks on the other side. We were the first to explore this area. The snow was getting deeper.

An hour and a half later we give up the search for the ski resort and head west up a valley, just exploring. We follow a snow mobile track to see where it leads.

The snowmobile turned around in this aspen glade. As we looked around, we ponder some spring skiing opportunities before heading back down.

Dan decides he’s going to try and get a few turns in on the way down, puts his split board back together. He later regrets this decision.

A cool view from the trail, the Wet Mountains to the east.

After some sweating, swearing and general disappointment we make it back to the truck. Overall, not a bad day. A gorgeous skin through the woods. We would have preferred some turns but it beats sitting on the couch. I was hoping to show some cool graphs and elevations gains but my watch had other ideas, next time.


First Draft Done! Now what?

Last Friday, I did the impossible. I finished the first draft of my current project early. Don’t worry no one is more surprised by this than me. It was a great feeling, it all finally coming to that dramatic conclusion I had been dreaming about for three months. I have not looked at it since taking a picture of my total word count to share with all of my friends and family. I may not go back to it until February 22. IT IS KILLING ME! 

My husband cooked me a celebratory meal, steak and green beans. It was delicious. He followed Alton Brown’s instructions from his show Good Eats Reloaded. 

To distract myself, I have been reading books on editing. We stopped in the local bookstore on Saturday and looked over the books because my search online left me overwhelmed. I picked up a copy of The Editor’s Companion. It is a book written by an editor for editors. It explains the different elements to look for, not the most exciting read, but it gave me a place to start. I’ve also started one from Kindle Unlimited called Fix your Damn Book! How to Painlessly Self-Edit Your Novels & Stories. It is amusing and offers many of the same tips. I also ordered Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Reading it this weekend. 

I’ve been a little lost this last week. We had gotten into such a great groove of writing in the evenings; I miss it. I started an outline for a new novel. It will be another YA Supernatural, but a little darker. I did a lot of research last night on different supernatural monsters. I had a lot of fun, and my research didn’t narrow down my focus at all. It was super helpful. 

Spock was less than impressed with my accomplishment

I’m using the Save the Cat Beat Sheet for this novel. (Can you tell that I’m a little obsessed with reading about this whole writing as a craft thing?) I was just looked it over again, fixing typos and filling in a hole or too. Right now my novel is like a dream you know you had, but you can’t remember the details. It’s all fuzzy, and you can make out bits and pieces. I just need a few more days to flush out the ideas. I want to write again this weekend. 

Time to relax!

I’m excited to start the deep edits in the coming weeks. I hope that I can manage that while I write another one. My goal for this next novel is to have it done by the end of April. You can laugh at me now if you want to.

Game Night

Mansions of Madness

Table of chaos….

Full disclosure: We love board games. We have a cabinet for our games, but right now we have a stack next to the dining room table. Because we classy. 

One of our (Dede’s) New Year Resolutions, host a game night for our friends at least once a month. We used it as an excuse to buy a new game that we drooled over every time we went into Barnes and Noble. (BTW, it is cruel that a place that is already full of temptation now carries board games. Evil!) 
Anyway, the game costs a pretty penny, but we had a gift card and a party to host! We ended up playing a different game. We had too many people show up, and it is a game for 1-5 people.
We saved Mansions of Madness for the next day. Yes, it was fun. But also a pain in the ass to set up, so we kept the game out on the table and played another round. 

Quite the layout

Start by laying out all the pieces. 
Lots of monsters, cards, more cards, little players, little tokens and more cards! We also needed a tablet/computer/phone because we play the game with an interactive app. 
The first thing you do is pick your scenario on the app. With the purchase of the game, 4 scenarios are available. There are a few more available for purchase through the app while the remaining need the expansion pack.  

A Character for everyone!

Once you have picked your scenario, pick your character. There are 8 characters to choose from even though you can only have 5 people playing the game. Weird, right? Read the character cards. Each one has a unique ability that may help themselves or the team. A trade off between insanity, strength and the other attributes.
You can put away all the other characters. You will NEED the table space. 

The first tile placement

The app walks you through the setup of the board. Each room is a game tile that you layout. You will put tokens or little tiles where it tells you. Then place your characters where the app says.
There are two phases, Investigator Phase and Mythos Phase. You start in the Investigator Phase. They allow you 2 moves and an action each turn. An action includes looking at a clue, opening doors, interacting with someone and fighting.
Your goal in this game is to solve the mystery and escape with your life. We have played 3 times so far. We have failed to stop the impending doom 2 of the times. 

You roll the number of dice it indicates next to the symbol on the card.
Input your results and the game will decide if you have met the criteria needed

Despite our inability to win, this game is a lot of fun. It challenges you to figure out the best strategy for your team. We enjoy games that are co-op based (nobody gets mad you collected Boardwalk and Park Place). 
We played for ninety minutes Saturday night, stopping so Kris could watched super cross. We resumed the game Sunday morning and finished it in just under two hours for a total of three and half hours. It warned us at the beginning that it could take up to 360 minutes. (6 hours for my none math minded friends.) It may take longer if you had more players and it might be more fun with more people. 

The board can get pretty big

The game ended with a hoard of monster’s attacking us and our only chance of escape was on the other side of the board. We didn’t make it.

A short and sweet write up if anyone is interested. We don’t want to give to much away, it will ruin the fun of the game. We give it four thumbs up.