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Archive for the ‘publishing’ Category

My first invoice

I mentioned before that I have written for a special issue in the Fort Collins Coloradoan. When it was all said and done, I submitted three stories, and they are going to come out in print this weekend. My editor emailed me that it was time for me to send him an invoice so I could get paid. So I had a little fun making up a simple template and filling in the specific work I did, along with the agreed upon price.

Now I feel like a real freelance writer, sending out my first invoice. Maybe I should frame my copy or something. I’ll feel even more like a real freelancer when the check comes in.

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As you might guess by my lack of posting, I’ve been rather busy for the past couple weeks.  The main thing I’ve been doing is organizing my files and filing system.  I just about have it set up and I think it’s going to work really well.  No more papers lying around the house because I don’t have a place for them.  Each important paper has a home in one of my numerous files.  More on that later (hopefully).

Some writing news.  Between Erik and me, we had four stories out with various publishers, having submitted one each month beginning in January.  Three out of the four came back in May, so May was our month of rejections.  The one that didn’t come back I’m probably going to have to consider rejected as well as I’d sent it to a publisher whose policy is “if you haven’t heard from us in so many months, consider your work rejected.”  I got my two stories sent off to two more publishers, and Erik will get his story sent off sometime in the hopefully not too distant future.

But while my children’s picture book writing may not be Olympic material yet I am actually a published author.  OK, so it’s not the Big Time, but it counts.  I have an article on the Penpointers website, so check it out.

And, I’m currently in communication with an editor at the Fort Collins Coloradoan about writing one or two feature stories about the Parade of Homes for a special insert.  That’s a paid credit, so I’m really excited.  I got that contact through Brian Kaufman, one of the authors in the Penpointers group.  He’s done work for the Coloradoan in the past and is now having to turn that paper down in favor of more lucrative assignments, so he recommended me.  I’m grateful for networking.  It would have been much more difficult to break in on my own.  Still, I need to prove myself once I get my first story assignment.  I also have plans to work up my Welcoming a New Baby article for publication in the Fort Collins Mother’s Center newsletter, and a tentative commitment from the publisher.  There are other possibilities as well.  My limiting factor really is time (isn’t it everyone’s?).

Speaking of which, it appears a little person needs me…

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I can’t afford to get writer’s block.  Literally.  Time at the computer is a precious commodity for me as I am the proud mother of two young active daughters.  If I’m lucky, they might both nap at the same time… for about ten minutes.  And that’s the time I have to get a rough draft of my next project banged out, or put in a few revisions on an older work, or compose that oh-so-important cover letter to that next publisher on my list.  Ten minutes during the day and however many hours I choose to work late into the night hoping my munchkins sleep through.

I have more projects lined up for myself than I will have the time to even begin for a long time.  There is a space in my mind that is always thinking about what I want to write next.  I might be changing a diaper while working out how to condense that picture book manuscript I read to the group last night.  I might be whipping up a batch of sauerkraut while mentally prioritizing just what will get written with the next ten minutes of time (whenever that happens).  Or, I may be telling my three-year-old a made-up story for the tenth time and start thinking “Gee, I think that’s picture book material.”

When that opportunity comes to write, I hit it hard.  It’s not a marathon, it’s a sprint.  I’ve been imagining this for a long time now, so it just flows. In ten minutes a bit more of what’s inside comes to life.  Then, I hear a cry from another room, I reluctantly hit the “save” icon, then go and mother my child.  That space in my mind continues to “write.”  I am engaged in a game of Candyland while contemplating what to fix for dinner.

Focus and integration.  These are the tools of my fledgling writing career.  When I’m physically writing it’s the only thing I’m doing, and I’m doing it as fast as I can.  The rest of the time I’m thinking about it at some level.  Even more importantly, what I write flows out of my life.  I’m writing stories for children like my daughters.  By the time I write it, I’ve either told it several times, or I’ve experienced it.  Like the overnight success that really took ten years, it’s amazing what can be written in a few minutes here and there when it’s been there in my mind for days.

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This morning I conducted what is becoming a monthly ritual in our household: the trip to the post office with the brown manila envelope in hand. Normally the girls and I walk to the post office, then stop by the park on the way back home. Today, the weather was bad, so instead I loaded the girls into their car seats and drove down the street. The post office has a big window facing the street. I parked the car there, left the motor running and went inside to mail off my manuscript. This one is My Baby Sister and its destination is the publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux. I’ve revised My Baby Sister a total of five times, making this manuscript the one in which I’ve invested the most effort. It’s also the one I believe in the most. I think it’s good enough to go somewhere and I’m going to persevere with it until it does. F, S & G will take around three months to decide if they want it. I’m hoping to choose a second publisher to submit it to well before that in the event that F, S & G rejects it. But other than that, it’s time to give My Baby Sister a rest, forget about it, and start working on my next project. If I need to resubmit it to another publisher, I can take a fresh look at it.

Once I returned from the post office and unloaded the girls out of the car, the day took on a more normal stay-at-home mom flavor. Both my girls have the sniffles, so we took it easy. We rolled a ball back and forth to each other in the living room, I let L watch a sesame street movie while I took a shower. I added some rye flour and water to my sour dough bread starter. I swept and mopped the kitchen floor. Recently we replaced our fridge and the floor was showing signs of the large appliance switch. I folded three baskets of clothes, finally declaring myself officially caught up with the laundry. While folding the clothes, L got silly and started putting various pieces on her head. She saw E take off her slippers and socks and put the slipper on her head, and thought that was a riot. I pretended to make a big deal out of it, “What? A sleeper on your head?” This only made L giggle all the more. Who would have known that minutes before L was crying in my arms over some upset?

I’m a techie at heart and actually have my household chore task list entered in Outlook. I’ve set the tasks to recur based on my ideal for how often certain jobs, like cleaning the bathroom sinks, get done. But the task will only regenerate when I’ve checked it off as done. This means that when I invariably fall behind from the ideal, once I do accomplish the task, I’m automatically caught up on that task and won’t see it again until the time I’ve set for it to recur. Each day I make a little game with myself to see how many overdue tasks I can check off. Today, I got to check off two.

For lunch the girls and I shared one of the pints of yogurt I made yesterday. I get two shares of raw milk which translates into two gallons a week, half of which I process into yogurt. Lately I’ve been skimming the cream off to save for ice cream, but this time I left the cream with the milk. It is such an improvement on the taste and quality of the milk and yogurt to leave the cream in. I dream of the future when we will have a family cow who produces enough milk that when we want extra cream, the leftover skim milk is considered waste–something to feed the pigs, not consume ourselves. In the mean time, I have many pints of creamy yogurt to enjoy.

I contemplate what to fix for dinner, and settle on soup using a turkey stock I made up shortly after this past Thanksgiving. I will throw in the leftover whole grains we’ve eaten for breakfast, the chicken, a pint of sauerkraut my husband and I fermented ourselves last month. Of course, I’ll start by sauteeing some onions, carrots and celery in a stick of butter, sadly purchased from the store. I think again about our future milk cow, who will give us enough cream for me to make butter.

Many diaper changes happen before and during dinner preparation. I’m late on starting and want L to go to bed early so I feed her a couple painted hard boiled Easter eggs just in case. I also let her chew the chicken meat off the bones as I cut up pieces for my soup. Surprisingly, she’s still hungry and does have a little bit of her soup, but only after Erik agrees to add some rolled oats and banana slices. As I’m sitting down to enjoy my soup, it becomes obvious that E needs to go down to sleep right now, so I move to the rocking chair to nurse her. As soon as E is asleep, my husband Erik and I help get L to sleep. We then sit down for some private time and E wakes up. Erik gets her settled back to sleep but then he can’t put her down without waking her up. So I prop up a Tintin comic book to read while I consume three bowls of soup. Erik is reading another Tintin book while holding E. The soup, by the way, is delicious. Adding sauerkrout to soup gives it an incredibly rich flavor. I make a mental note that in a pinch stock and sauerkrout alone will make a decent soup–more nutritious than boxed mac & cheese.

Before I know it, it’s time to start thinking about my own bedtime, and maybe I should clean up the kitchen so it’s nice for tomorrow. Nah, I’d rather be blogging. Or working on one of my writing projects (I have more of those than I really have the time for). It’s during the evenings after my girls are asleep that I can usually count on some concentrated time to write. I say usually, because both girls often wake up at night fairly often and need to be soothed back to sleep. Still, there have been enough uninterrupted evenings that it’s not unreasonable to hope this one will be like that. Then I have to decide between writing, catching up on housework, spending some quality time with my husband, or any number of other possibilities that get put on hold day after day. What will it be tonight? Whatever it is, it will involve homemade ice cream.

Such is the life of a stay-at-home aspiring author.

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