Survival of The Writer: And What National Novel Writing Month Teaches Us

I’m going to keep it brief and give you a little excerpt at the end of this blog to tie up another great year of NANOWRIMO. I hope that your month was successful and that it taught you something about your ability to persevere, in the face of ominous word counts, writer’s block doldrums, and persnickety characters that don’t do as they’re told.

I for one am proud of you. The winner of the goodie bag will be chosen this week and I’ll announce the name on the blog this week. Think of it as an early Christmas. I’m still curious to know how it went for all of you and if you have any pitfalls or successes you’d like to share, please send them my way. If this was your first or your 25th, I know that you got something out of the process.

If anything, it teaches us how to manage our time better, how to flow with the writing even when its not going how we think it should, and how to keep going even when its hard. I hope the very best for your project. My final piece of advice is this:

Being the first day of December, I ask that you take that hard-earned manuscript you slaved over for a month, save it (Twice) and put it away. For a whole month. Don’t look at it, don’t tweak it. Don’t edit it. (the only exception is that if you’re really close to finishing something or the whole thing, keep extending your daily word count goal until you’re at a good stopping place). Don’t open it again until January 1st at the earliest. Give your brain and your thoughts time to settle and reflect, so you can come at it with fresh eyes and a begin the process of turning that beautiful raw material into a wondrous book.

Here’s a little (unedited) piece of my third novel in my new series. I was particularly excited to work on this one as it brings us back to a favorite family from the coast of Maine. Enjoy! (and Congratulations)

“Faith Harrison set up her camp with little effort and a practiced efficiency that showed she’d done it several times before. Setting up the tent and small awning from it in the protected berm of a small hill, she set out a small ring of rocks. She didn’t even think she could get a fire started. Everything was so damn wet here. She put what little fuel she had beneath the awning in hopes it would keep some of it dry for a fire tonight. A shiver ran through her body as a drip of rain fell from her piled up curls and down her neck, tracing between her shoulder blades, two fine and pale angel’s wings. Her brother Jackson called her scrawny, her mother called her scrappy. Her dad said she was lithe and strong, like her mother, but Faith never felt nearly as strong as her mother Destiny. She was bookish and quiet. The kind of girl that would disappear into the corner of a library or pub. If it weren’t for the striking red hair.

Iagan hated that he couldn’t reach out and see her like he could with his magic. He was decidedly a plain, human male with nothing special about him. Except his unfailing curiosity and strange stirrings of desire for the young woman who was trespassing on his land. Owen had laughed at him. Danika had gently slapped his cheek, said it was good for him to share his space. And that she liked the girl. There was something earthy and grounded about her. And she wasn’t afraid of a little dirt. Iagan wanted her gone as soon as possible. He grumbled as he searched for the binoculars, he’d purchased in a vain attempt to become a bird watcher fifty years ago. No birds lived here, nothing lived here. Except magical things. He climbed to the top most tower and peered out to the south ruins. She’d set up her small orange tent beneath a hillside for protection and had created a fire ring. She’d not get anything started in the rain. She’d be cold and miserable by the end of the week. Hadn’t she’d said she was a graduate student? The poorest, scruffiest excuses for humans of all. He watched her move, a small speck on the green hill, setting up her camp and moving with a grace that was calming.

What would that body look like moving through his house, quiet, calm, long limbed and warm. He felt his hand in hers, the warm brown eyes…the upturned nose and freckles. Faith Harrison. He wanted her. But he wanted her gone even more. He wasn’t in the business of ruining young women anymore, and she was too clever and disinterested to fall for his charms anyway. He’d simply have to suffer the summer until her research was done and then he’d be rid of her.”

VerseDay 10-3-19

Good morning!

I’m excited to be featuring the astounding and talented Kathryn Balteff. Residing in a state that I have a deep, personal love for (just ask Destiny), she was gracious enough to send in some of her beautiful work that I will be featuring throughout October and into November.

Kathryn is a poet, writer, and artist who currently moonlights as a used book, gift, and coffee shop owner, although over the years she’s also worked as an educator, sheep farmer, veterinary technician, and veterinary practice manager. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine and an MA in English from Oakland University.

While she is mostly known for her poetry, she also pens essays, fiction, and killer to-do lists. Drawing inspiration from the landscape, sea, and the cosmos, Kathryn often can be found wandering the rocky trails near her home along the coast of Downeast Maine with her husband and their collie dog, Lady Kate.

Today I chose her poem “Letting Go” as a breather for a lot of the serious business going on here lately. Read, enjoy, and support Kathryn by sharing it around!

 

Letting Go

I feel the winds

Deep in my gut they rise

and stir

Tickling up dust

Particles from items long forgotten

on the floor of my heart.

Maybe they were just tucked away
so I could pretend not to see them as they languished there . . .

All that
is of no consequence.

The winds have come again.

This time

different.

I feel their swirling momentum

reaching up into my being

pushing
tugging
chafing

They spin me

round

and round

I can’t know where they will take me.
I only know —
This time
I will not hold fast to the binding post of the closest excuse
This time
I will stretch open my arms to embrace the power the winds bring

This time
I will raise my face to the sky triumphant
I will soar.

 

Free Stuff

Not everything free is worth the taking and there’s much truth to the adage that nothing is ever, truly free. But occasionally, in life, we land a jackpot. Its all about in our perspective.

I bring up this subject for selfish reasons that will be discussed later on, but for now, I want to talk about appreciation of free stuff.

What kind of free stuff?

The samples at Costco? The swag bags at your local 5K races? The couch sitting on your neighbor’s lawn for four days with a sad cardboard sign begging someone with a large truck and a strong back to take it home? (Sorry, by the way, Harvest neighbors…you’ll be happy to know the large brown beast is gone).

Sure those things are “free”. Somewhat.

I mean, you pay for your Costco membership, you pay for your race fee. You pay with a minor rotator cuff tear from hoisting a giant sectional onto the roof of an Elantra. In some way, we always pay.

We pay with our time. We pay with resources or trades of our services. We do favors and scratch backs. But what’s really free? It deserves a moment to slow down and think about it.

Take a deep, slow breath.

Notice that? The air. Free of charge, yet something we take for granted. Take a moment to notice the summer finery around you. Hear the birdsong, allow yourself to be mesmerized by the sunrise lifting over clouds. The laughter of babies, the hug from your child, the cuddle of a furry friend. (I hesitate to expunge on the ‘free’ affection between adults as, sadly, a price is sometimes attached.) A smile from a stranger passing on the street. Someone opening a door for you. Even better–you helping someone else with no expectation for reciprocation.

Here’s the main point I’m making…Free doesn’t always mean cheap. Free doesn’t always mean worthless. We can give freely our hearts, our compassion, our empathy, our decency and respect for our fellow humans.

Kindness doesn’t cost a thing.

So today, think about what you have in your life, the little and big, that you get for free. The 86,400 seconds in every day you are gifted with, your dog’s love (minus the cost of a beggin strip or six), the beauty of the natural world, daydreams, sunshine, and most importantly, your human capacity to love others.

With all this talk of free stuff, here’s the shameless plug:

Today only, my novels will be available, FREE, for download from Amazon. If you’re looking for something to enjoy in your summer hours, please check them out and let others know.

Fixing Destiny Book One

Finding Destiny Book Two

Fighting Destiny Book Three

Enjoy your day, and breathe a little free into everything you do.