And Then She Spurted a Second Novel…

I’m glad to be back, though I’ve been back for a week and two days.

I haven’t stopped by at my own blog much.

Well, that would be for several (good!) reasons.

It’s Been a Life Changing Summer

The stress of my job in this last year had prompted me to really do something I hadn’t done before: delve into travel as much as possible this summer.

I did it to relax. I did it to get in touch with my more spiritual side. I also did it to explore: new places, new stories, new adventures.

Here I am now, writing before I set off on one last little journey before returning to work in August: the beach.

We’d planned these trips in April. Last summer, in 2015, we spent it moving, and the summer before that I was taking classes and working as an administrator for a school. The summer before that? More classes.

I figured it was time to get back into living down some adventures.

 

Traveling Gives You Great Perspective

I don’t know what great soul recommended “going someplace once a year where you’ve never been,” but I can’t recommend that highly enough.

While on the meditation retreat in June, I finished the second draft of my first novel.

And while on the road trip, I blazed through the fourth draft. Husby started editing. He’s still working on it, but he’s also working a lot and has maybe has an hour or two here and there to work on editing my novel, let alone do the things he has to do in his own life.

That’s fine. Because…while he’s doing that, I cranked out the entire first draft of my second ghost story novel.

That’s where I was this last week. I was putting in hours and hours each day to finish before heading to the beach over the weekend and back to work the week after that.

I wanted to establish a strong routine of getting up early and working for a couple hours before starting my day.

These travel journeys have completely reignited my love of writing. Not that it ever went away. But I had to just be happy with journaling whlist finishing classes and working full time. There just wasn’t enough time or energy to do much else.

On the meditation retreat, I’ll share that the Buddhist monk who led it encouraged me to give into writing. I told her how, now that I’m finished with my master’s and working back in education, that I don’t know if I’m really cut out for that world. All I want to do is write.

She encouraged me to cultivate that love, that often we don’t know exactly what we want until it beats us over the head. And well, very often the third time is the charm (Anthropology and Spanish being the first two attempts at finding my calling).

I intend to finish out this grant-funded position (assuming we have monies after August…I still don’t know, actually) and come next June, I will take steps to indulge my writing while being smart about my income. (That’s an echo from the first time I tried, which was an honest failure. But it was a “good” kind of failure: one in which I learned a lot about myself, and what to do and not to do when it comes to quitting my job, how to have more focus, etc., etc.)

 

Next Steps to Publishing

The next steps will be twofold:

Get a cover made for the first book and publish under a pseudonym. Then finish the subsequent drafts of the second novel.

I honestly don’t expect much with this first book. It is the first book.

I know for a fact that most authors don’t get their first works published the first time around. Sometimes they do, but many times they don’t.

It’s because the mastery of the craft just isn’t there, yet. That’s not to say that some amazing, fine writers ARE masters by the time they publish their first novels. In fact, I think I know of few of those kinds of folks personally.

But, even Shakespeare’s early plays aren’t well known. It wasn’t until he’d cranked out a number of plays that his really great ones became known for what they were. Shakespeare had finally achieved mastery of his craft and we all only associate him with intricate Elizabethan writing, coining scores of new words for the English lexicon.

And so it is with novel writing. I expect to sell um…7 copies. 🙂 And that’s fine. I probably don’t want to be known for this first novel.

Don’t get me wrong: I gave it my best shot. But my best the first time around is going to look very different than the second time, to say nothing of the twentieth.

This first novel is about a Latino college kid who stumbles back to his college campus, cuts through a graveyard and upsets the gravestone of Marina Oliver. It was an accident, but that doesn’t matter: it unleashes an angry ghost who attaches to Jorge and drags him and his friends into a years old mystery. Their only chance of getting Marina to “cross over” is a bit of luck and resolve before time runs out and Marina drives them to their deaths.

(I hadn’t yet written out the “blurb” for my novel, but that up there doesn’t sound half bad, me thinks!)

The Second Ghost Story Novel

This second novel, I’ll have two editors. And I might spend a little more on creating the cover.

I don’t want to share what the plot is just yet because it’s only the first draft. With a few more iterations, things could change.

But something interesting happened on this second round of writing. The words came a little easier. The sentences were a little prettier, and my oral language has taken on a different layer of expression than how I spoke prior to cranking out over 120,000 words in a month and a half.

My sister in law and I were having dinner the other night and I was telling her about our recent road trip. I included descriptions of the environment: the parched trees, the pigmented sandstone rocks, the effervescent spring waters, etc., etc.

Beautiful places to describe
This image is one of many I snapped while on our road trip. It’s a photo of Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, WY. And one that would be awesome if I had to write up a graphic description of some place beautiful but parched, despite the hot springs.

She blinked at me several times before saying anything. I asked her what was wrong.

She laughed and said that she’d never heard such a vivid description of a simple little story before. Most of her friends will say something, hope it’s witty enough to crack up a bit, and then be done with it.

Of course, I knew exactly why that happened, and relayed it to her.

In any case, I have much work to do before this second novel is complete.

Watching the iterations will be fun, too.

When I finished the first novel, it was right about 50,000 words. But after four more drafts, it expanded to 73,000.

For this second novel, it stands about 43,000 words. I know that will swell. There are side things I thought of while I was writing and descriptions I know I’ll need to flesh out.

This second novel is different in that I used a technique called “Deep Point of View.” I wrote it all in first person, from the perspective of one character. I decided to try that to “up” the scary factor.

I do love a good, solid scary book.

As a side note, I’m reading the non-fiction book, “The Haunted” by Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s scary, but honestly, after watching lots of scary movies, seeing lots of ghost shows, visiting so-called haunted places, it takes a lot to ruffle me.

I’ll have to compile a list sometime of some really awesome scary reads that I’ve read in the past year (in addition to everything else I’ve read; I do have a voracious literary appetite).

Achieving Goals

But I cannot fathom how, at the end of May, all I wanted to do was finish a novel.

I’ve completed one, save for the edits that I’ll need to do once husby has finished the first one.

I’ve completed the first draft of the second one.

I already have ideas for a third and fourth one.

I’m cranking them out fast. It’s taken years to figure out, but if I don’t blaze through that first draft quickly, I won’t get through it at all. It wasn’t until I got the idea from that book, 5,000 Words an Hour, which just emphasizes getting through that first draft.

Now that I figured myself out – at least as it relates to writing – I feel like I’m in “crank ’em out” mode.

And yes…I’m going for the mass market paperback segment. This is why pseudonyms are good. If I want to channel the esoteric Barbara Kingsolver, another pseudonym will suffice.

It’s been an incredible summer, full of personal growth, and many, many realizations. These include wanting to write at HubPages more, wanting to include photography here again, wanting to spend quality time on my writing.

 

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Ten Things of Thankful – Before the Voyage

Looking back on the past week and a half, I have so much to be thankful for. Writing about my gratitude will tie together – quite nicely – all the different things going on in my life at the moment.

The Meditation Retreat

I continue to feel the effects of so many days of meditation. Being with 28 other folks who were from all walks of life and had all sorts of different beliefs, this validated for me how we can all coexist peacefully – if we but just understand that all we need is to love and have compassion for each other.

Meditation
The quad area at the retreat center. Incredibly restful and peaceful.

The Last Day of Work

I finished the school year. It’s been stressful and tiring and, you know, sometimes I wondered if I was cut out for working in the academic world. Still, working with so many people – from elementary students to superintendents, to parents and church leaders – the experience has made me grow in ways that I can’t even describe. I have a level of confidence I had not known was possible in my existence. I can read and understand people on a different level now. Furthermore, I have a much deeper understanding of the idea of “the boss.” Where I used to question the decisions former principals and directors made, I now have utter sympathy for those in charge having to make unpopular decisions. You never really know what’s going on behind closed doors.

The Novel

This morning, I finished the final “content” edit. I’m going to do one more read-through to try to catch typos and other such errors, but otherwise, I’m going to send it to my editor – my ever-supportive husby – in the coming week. This being a first novel, I’m not looking for any high dollar investments as far as editors and book cover artists. I will publish on Kindle and we’ll just see how all this goes.

The Possibility of Publishing the Novel

I have now gotten further than I ever have on any novel I’ve worked on. Littering various hard drives and thumb drives, I have an assortment of unfinished novels in different genres. I figured out somewhere along the way that I love to write about scary things – ghosts, the unexplained, supernatural phenomena, and even superhero-type characters – and the possibility of FINALLY publishing has me really giddy. Honestly, I don’t expect much with this first one: the goal was to get over the hurdle of publishing. I’m still not there, but I see the hurdle itself coming up along the racetrack and I have the confidence to jump and clear it. So many times that hurdle came up on my running sprints and I stopped when I saw it. I’ve been training hard to focus on the success of not only jumping it, but briefly looking back to marvel at what I just did.

Discovering Chris Fox’s Books

These have helped me churn out a novel really quickly. Here’s what I’ve read while I’ve been working on my novel (these are affiliate links):

  1. 5,000 Words Per Hour
  2. Lifelong Writing Habit
  3. Write to Market
  4. Launch to Market

As a side note, I didn’t discover some of these books until this 3rd content edit, so some of the tips he talks about won’t apply until the next novel I start – which will be immediately, actually. But still. I can churn out 2,000+ words in half an hour if I don’t let myself edit and I have a clear plan of what I’m doing. I even emailed him to get clarification on something in one of his books and he emailed right back!

The Upcoming Epic Road Trip

So, school’s out and I have five weeks to have some fun. To be sure, I’ll continue writing while I’m on the road, but we’re planning on doing a road trip through Kentucky, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming and then to Colorado. See, at least once, if not twice a year, I head out to Colorado to see family (starting out in North Carolina). But we often drive out there and then drive straight back and don’t have a lot of time to see other things. This year, starting in January, we started saving for an epic journey. We leave on Monday morning. We’ll check out the Badlands, Deadwood (remember the TV show?), The Devil’s Tower, Bighorn Medicine Wheel, Thermopolis (for the mineral waters) and then head on down to Colorado.

Close College Friends

There are people who have lots of acquaintances and then there are people who have a handful of lifelong close friends. The latter would be me. I made three friends – that I managed to not run off – from my days at Colorado College. At the risk of dating myself, I graduated in 2001. We live all over the US now but our friendship has transcended distance and time. We joke that we’ll be the scourge of some nursing home one day, throwing Oreos at staff and having wheelchair races. Hopefully those days are far, far off into the future.

Close Friends Who Graduate

So…out of the group of us college buddies, all of us have completed our Master’s degrees. One even completed her PhD. We run the gamut of people studying different things: I have my Master’s in Spanish. One has hers in Divinity. Another has hers in Psychology. The last just completed hers in Education at our alma mater, Colorado College. While I’m in visiting family and friends in Colorado, we’re also going to celebrate her graduation and accomplishments.

Age and Wisdom

My mom runs an assisted living center out of the house I grew up in. While it is unusual – I just love the look on people’s faces when I tell them I grew up in a nursing home – there are some really neat things about it. One of them is this patient who is turning 106. Yes, you read that right. She’s still pretty sharp and completely fluent in Spanish and English and my mom now takes care of her 85 year-old son. But, to celebrate 106 years of earthly living, my mom’s going to bring in a mariachi band to serenade her. We already have word that various news outlets will be there to witness this incredible milestone. Doctors told her she’d never live past 95. Just look at that miracle!

The Library

For our road trip, we have an assortment of books and CDs to keep us entertained. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been to Iowa and my perception of it is that it’ll be flat with no radio stations. It’s always good to be prepared but open to the possibility that there might be hills and pretty things there, and maybe even a good radio station or two as we pass through. And hopefully no dustbowls!

This has been part of the Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop.

The End of an Era…and New Beginnings

Back in early January, I shared a post about creating vision boards and doing meditations to manifest your destiny. It was a “Ten Things of Thankful” post, and yes, I’m still eternally grateful.

But, after that, I hadn’t written much. And there was a very good reason. Okay several good reasons.

First was that like a lightbulb, I burned out. After going like the Energizer Bunny, I wrote and wrote and wrote all through grad school, wrote blog posts for my job, wrote grants, wrote the first draft to a book or two….

My brain just froze. So, I decided to just let that fly – because what else are you going to do? – and fill my weekends with reading, good movies, spending time with family, and things that didn’t require too many brain synapses.

In the meantime, I would spend 3-5 minutes at least looking at my vision board and about 20 minutes doing guided meditations early in the mornings.

One of the things on my vision board was “to help people with speaking Spanish and English, financially and in my church and community.”

There are quite a few other things on there, too.

And wouldn’t you know, these things manifested!

In early January, a good friend of mine called me to let me know that she had received grant money from the state of North Carolina to create an after school program that was curriculum-based, but targeted at Spanish speakers. I would work out of Western Carolina University but in conjunction with county schools to create and direct a dynamic program for Latino families. After an interview process, and a long waiting period, I received a call on Friday that I had gotten this job.

That was the same day I let the school where I’m at know that I wouldn’t be able to stay until the end of the year. Ouch, right? I don’t take it lightly, leaving in the middle of the school year. But sometimes life-changing opportunities don’t follow an academic schedule. So…I’m going to have to endure the Scarlet Letter of Teachers for awhile until I make this transition.

This also means that I suddenly have to move and pretty much have 30 days to figure out what to do. Sure. No problem, right?

It’s been eight years since we’ve moved. We’re good and settled in here, but, again, life-changing opportunities require growth and change. Especially with they seem so synchronous with what you want to do in life.

What I mean is that the requirements for this job were extremely specific: you needed a master’s degree in Spanish (or TESOL), you needed NC curriculum experience, have grant writing experience, an NC teaching license, experience with classroom teaching, be bi-cultural and bi-lingual, understand how to navigate the university world, the elementary academic world, and the Latino world, and then be willing to move to a very rural county in order to fulfill the requirements of the job. Yes, I fit every single one of those requirements.

So, for the next month or so, I have begun a roller coaster ride. It’s going to be fun – I actually happen to love roller coasters.

But what does that mean for Pictimilitude?

It probably means that I will no longer write here. This blog has been my go-to for the last three years. But, paying to write here only a handful of times in the last year doesn’t justify the cost.

I think what I’m going to do is transfer over to a free WordPress blog. Of course, I want to stay connected with the people I’ve met online, the fellow writers and such. I won’t have a chance to write as much, but I love keeping up with what people are up to on social media, too. Though even then, I hardly post these days.

And I think that new blog will reflect this new journey. But, I think along with retiring from regular Spanish teaching, I am going to retire my Pictimilitude chapter.

And so…with this hastily written post, I’m going to sign off. This might be for the last time…we’ll see. 🙂