Posted in Guest Posts, Writing

Keep the Inspiration Flowing

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out the Be A Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by my sister Kris. Thanks, Kris!

My cousin and I were talking about reading and writing the other night. She’s a preteen entertaining the idea of writing like Rachel and myself, and we were talking about working even when not motivated.

I quoted Jack London: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Which is probably something I should do. I tend to find my mind wandering away from my writing when I’m trying to put words on paper. Half the time it’s regarding a different part of the story or a different story altogether.

There are plenty of ways to keep focused while writing. One of my favorite ways is sticking on some music. Instrumental seems to help, but I’m also partial to lyrical music as well, especially if the song shares the same energy as the scene I’m currently writing.

If I’m stuck on a particular scene in a story, I switch it up. I dive into another scene, perhaps one that I’ve been looking forward to writing. Maybe I’ll start over on the scene I was stuck on and take it in an entirely different direction.

Exercise and taking a brief break helps the creative muscles as well. Move away from the computer screen or notebook and take the puppy for a walk. One of the best times to write a story is in your mind when you’re doing other things!

My cousin seemed to get a taste of how much dedication one needed in order to write a book. Here’s hoping that she was determined, rather than daunted, in pursuing that dream!

Kristen Poli is a young woman in her mid-twenties who is obsessed with writing, video games, dogs, and chocolate. She’s always up for meeting others who share her obsessions, so feel free to say hello over at her social media.

If you would like to know more about Kris, visit her on her social media:

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Posted in Life, Writing

Work is Hard

When you work four jobs, plus write and blog on the side trying to make that your solid career, work can get a bit hectic and busy at times.

I love teaching and I love babysitting, but it’s not exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life. Can I see myself ten years from now still teaching? Yes. But ten years from now I hope to have a few publications under my belt.

I can’t picture myself waking up every morning, going to work, then coming home to just sit around and wait for the next day to come. I can’t live in order to make money and pay bills. I want to actually do something with my life, make a difference, be important.

So I write. So I blog.

I want my writing to be my full-time job. Whether that will ever happen enough to pay my bills, I’m not sure. But I’m going to do it anyway.

What’s annoying about this is that you have to work really hard and work a lot in order to make this happen, which I have been doing and I love it.

But, as stated earlier, when you work four other jobs on top of it…

At the moment, writing doesn’t pay the bills. It’s not my career yet. It’s a passion, but it’s more of a hobby at the moment.

That being said, my other jobs have to come first. I can’t call out sick and write all day long. While that would be awesome, that would be one day I wouldn’t get paid and right now that’s not really an option.

Unfortunately, the world revolves around money.

My whole point to this post was that I haven’t made much progress on my writing lately. Drama has been happening at two of my four jobs and working such long hours, I’m too exhausted to do anything when I get home.

So that’s pretty much where I stand at the moment. I have my work cut out for me for the rest of the month and through June.

I’m counting down the days until summer (less than four more weeks!) where I can put more of my time, thought, and effort into writing and blogging. I’ll be working the summer, but it’ll only be four hours a day for four days a week for only four weeks out of the summer. This is a vast improvement to my 8-10 hours a day five days a week, plus another couple hours on the weekend.

This turned into a ranting-woe-is-me type of post and that wasn’t supposed to happen. I had a completely different point, but I guess this is where my mind wandered off to.

Is it sometimes difficult for you to balance writing, work, and anything else life throws at you?

rachel poli sign off

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Posted in Writing

Writing For Free

Why do you want to be a writer? Is it because you love creating stories to tell and sharing them with the world? Is it because you want to be rich and famous after you’re on the best-sellers list?

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

Whatever the reason, being a writer is not an easy job. You don’t write a bunch of words, send it to a publisher, they publish it on the spot, it sells, and you get a ton of money.

I’ve always been torn between being a teacher or being a writer or possibly trying to do both. I can’t express how many times people have said, “Be a writer. They make more money.” Unfortunately, that is not the case. If writing were that easy and made a ton of money, every person in the world would be an author and we’d all drown in books… now wouldn’t that be nice?

Writing does not equal money. It doesn’t matter how many books you sell; unless you’re on the best-selling list or you write the next Harry Potter series, you may have to look for a day job and write on the side.

Writing is not about the money. It’s about sharing stories whether they’re fiction or nonfiction. Writing is a way for people to escape reality, get creative, and exercise their imagination.

You need to love writing. You need have to a passion for it.

You don’t want to write. You need to write.

Further Reading:

11 Frequently Asked Questions About Book Royalties, Advances, and Money
Do You Like Or Love To Write?
Why We Write: Four Reasons

Posted in Writing

“Working” On Vacation

Every year my family and l go away for the weekend after Thanksgiving. It just happened to become tradition a few years ago and it’s great to get away for a weekend in the middle of work and school. It’s a nice break.

I am not a light packer. Anyone who knows me personally in real life can tell you that. I would pack the entire house if l could. Example: l have three unread books on my Kindle. Before we left l bought a fourth one. Because you know there’s that .5% chance that l would happen to read and finish all three books in two days with time to spare and how tragic would it be if l ran out of something to read? Now, keep in mind that l brought my Kindle in an attempt to save space by not bringing physical novels. So it kind of balances out… l guess.

Anyway, l brought my Detective Florence 2 manuscript along with two notebooks (one blank, one with the outlined notes), the notes and outline for the first novel, blank index cards, blank post-it notes, and about five pens with four highlighters and two sharpies. Again, you need a plethora of pens because there’s that slight chance they will all run out of ink in two days.

Back to the point… l did some editing yesterday and l plan on editing today as well. Now that NaNo is over, l plan to finish editing the second novel, type up the next draft of both the first and second novels, outline the third, and then write the third. I’m in for a fun ride.

So l’m texting my friend yesterday and she asked how l was doing and such. I told her l was editing.

Her response: “Why are you writing while on vacation?”

Now let’s discuss…

I love writing. I am going to do it whenever and where ever l can. It relaxes me. I don’t see it as work. Sure, it would be nice to write full-time for a job, but whether that happens or not it will always be a passionate hobby of mine.

To be honest, l think vacation is the perfect time to write for a few reasons.

1. It’s a new environment. I tend to write at my desk at my house in my office/den l share with Kris. Sometimes, in the same room, l will write on the couch using the ottoman as a desk. Sometimes l go in my bedroom. When home alone, l’ll go in the kitchen or dining room. I even write while taking a bath. If l get a moment alone at work l’ll jot down notes. You can write anywhere you think of.

2. There are barely any distractions. When writing at home l have the Internet. There are many websites l am on that l can get to with a click of a button and before l know it, it’s time for bed. There’s also the cleaning. The dusty room around me just stares me down and it bothers me. There’s mail to get–l love getting the mail. I don’t know why, l never get anything good. If l’m not at work l usually keep an eye out for it. There’s also video games, friends to see, homework to do, etc.

3. There are no other responsibilities. Kind of like the previous point, there is no real cleaning to be done. As long as l clean up after myself before l go home, l’m good. I don’t have to worry about doing homework. I don’t have to worry about anything so my mind is cleared up for everything.

4. It’s relaxing. Why write next to the heating vent at my house when l can write next to the fireplace? There is no fireplace at my house; therefore, l cannot write to the soothing crackling sound. Well… l can, but those sounds are on websites. There’s no pretty flame or heat so it’s not the same effect.

I’m sure there are many more reasons, but this is what l can come up with for now.

My friend loves that l write and she supports me with it. She’s always asking how my novels are going, what they’re about, etc. However, she knows l want to write full-time which would be my career. Career is work. Therefore, she thinks writing is work. Technically yes, as it’s a lot of hard work and it’s a long process and such.

What she doesn’t realize is how much fun it is and how people need a certain passion for writing. Writers don’t see writing as work. Writing is just using the imagination and being creative.

Posted in Writing

Working Forever

Career

The other day I was complaining about school to my co-workers. Not really “complaining,” but just saying how I would really like to be done soon. I feel as though this current semester has been dragging on since the beginning of time. Then I still have one semester left for my bachelor’s degree. Then I’m still not done and I get to start my Master’s. If everything goes according to plan, I should be officially done with school when I’m 23- or 24-years-old. Not bad, right?

So when I said this, one of the teachers in my classroom laughed and said, “Why, so you can work all the time?”

She was kidding, but she did have a point. Then again, I would rather work full time and save my money rather than work full time and have all my money go down the drain to school… with homework to do to top it off.

When I finish school that means I will have more time to write. I love my job, but just like any other normal person I don’t wish to stay there forever. I love teaching and being with the kids just as much as I love writing, but if I had to choose between the two… I would hands-down pick writing.

I want to write all the time. I want to wake up in the morning, make a cup of coffee, sit at my desk and write. I want to be able to write a couple thousand words or a few good pages, outline and make notes of a new idea, or edit an old one. Then I can go out with friends feeling accomplished and do it all over again the next day. I would certainly be living my definition of a dream.

I don’t want to have to worry about being at work at a certain time. I don’t want to have to worry about getting my homework in on time. The only deadlines I want to worry about are what my agent/publisher tells me. I want my only concern to be “should I kill off this character?”

Of course, when I finish school I’ll still have to work. Writing to pay the bills will not happen overnight, but I hope that it will eventually happen someday. I want to have the ability and the option to write all day, every day.

Whenever this happens, I won’t get the luxury of retiring like everyone else. However, by being able to sit home all day and do what I love it’ll be like I retired at a young age.

Even when I’m old and gray, I’m sure I’ll still be writing.

Posted in Writing

David Congalton

Everyone remember me discussing the movie Authors Anonymous? Well, welcome to day three of discussing it… even though I technically just mentioned it in yesterday’s post.

Anyway… after posting the first time about my watching the movie, I got a pretty big surprise in my e-mail the following morning. David Congalton had somehow come across my blog. David is the screenwriter to the movie Authors Anonymous. Pretty cool, huh?

If you read my post, you would know that I didn’t “love” the movie and didn’t exactly “rave” about it. So, when I realized who he was I felt a bit anxiety coming on. I felt guilty for not loving the movie and… well, what are the odds of the screenwriter coming across my blog? Then I said to myself, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What I like, others dislike and what I dislike, others like.” So, the movie wasn’t my cup of tea. You win some, you lose some.

Despite all that, David is really nice and I’m flattered he read my blog let alone taking the time to write to me. He sent me a link to read the actual script for the movie, which is pretty cool.

I’ve always thought about writing scripts. I used to when Script Frenzy (a sister site of NaNoWriMo, for those of you who do not know) was around, but when it got shut down I started focusing more on my novels. I had two scripts completed, but lost both of them when my flash drive died almost two years ago. The ideas are still in my head and I plan on writing them again eventually. They just might be in novel format instead of script. Either way, if I ever do get back into script writing, I have a real life example of how to format it and what it’s supposed to look like.

I e-mailed him back and from there he sent me another reply explaining his inspiration for the movie and the characters as well as some background about the movie and how it came to be. He also sent me a link to an interview he had about the movie which gives a little more insight as well as the hardships of writing and creating a movie. The article was published in the magazine Psychology Today. I encourage you all to read it whether you write scripts, write novels, or are just reading this blog because you might be lost (if that’s the case, thanks for reading this much!).

Apparently the Authors Anonymous idea formed in David’s mind eight years ago originally calling itself Scribble. Even though David is discussing his script, the same rules go for novel writing. Except… we’re not dealing with directors and actors, but close enough.

My point is David spent eight years on this idea and didn’t give up. I have been writing for 11 years now with five unpublished manuscripts… some aren’t even edited yet, I’m ashamed to admit. I think it’s about time I get moving and start seriously thinking about publishing.

I’ve sent a few things to agents and publishers and even submitted to magazines and such, but no dice. I know nothing is going to happen over night, but I tend to take extremely long breaks in between sending stuff out. It’s hard between working full time and school full time among other life happenings, but it’s just something I have to do. I want this as a career, which means I have to actually work for it… just like the characters in the movie. Who knew a movie I wasn’t totally into would end up being so inspirational?

Thanks, David!

Posted in Writing

Stepping It Up

Writing

Hey everyone!

It’s another one of those posts again…yes, we’re going to discuss “the future” today. Aren’t we excited?

My sister Lisa has a friend who is currently saving up money with her sister to move out of the house. Since she, Kris, and I are all planning Lisa’s bridal shower together and such we’ve had a lot of time to hang out more than usual which is nice. She was telling Kris and I her plans and it got Kris and I thinking…again.

We both love to write. And we do write. But we don’t “write.” I realize I’m not making any sense, but it’s Camp NaNoWriMo right now, people. I was doing so well and then I just stopped. Why? I don’t know…bridal shower and bachelorette planning, homework, work, babysitting, preparing my bedroom to be painted, etc. There is so much to do and not enough time. And unfortunately, with my bills from the upcoming wedding and I’m going to Disney again in August in addition to school bills and such, I need to save every scrap of money I can get. Hence why I’ve been working and babysitting so much.

Writing doesn’t fit in right now. It’s not a priority because it doesn’t pay the bills. It makes me angry because I love to write and want to do it all the time for the rest of my life, but I don’t want to become a full-time writer just so I can go to Disney…I want it as a career because I know I will be happy doing that for the rest of my life.

Thus, Kris and I are bummed; especially Kris because she basically works about nine hours a day in which case your entire day is gone by that point. But by coincidence, the Easter Bunny got Kris a subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine and gave her an issue to get her started.

This issue had a list of 101 best websites for writers. We’re talking about websites to get the creative juices flowing, writing advice, agents and publishing, general resources, jobs, online writing communities, genre-specified sites, and writing sites that are just fun. It’s the best thing we’ve ever come across. Kris and I were discussing freelance writing on the side until we were able to publish something and this list of website gives us links to find writing jobs.

Neither one of us have looked at all the websites thoroughly, so we haven’t decided which are too fantastic to not join and such. Plus, there’s a lot to choose from and honestly a bit overwhelming because you just don’t know where to start.

As I go through these websites, I will be sharing my favorites on here for all of you writerly people to enjoy.

Since Kris and I have been behind on NaNo and decided to finally step it up into our writing careers, we’re skipping church tomorrow to go to Barnes & Noble and write all day long. So I’m hoping to write at least 10k tomorrow.

I decided to write all day today as well since I was home and wrote 10,369 words. I have to say that I feel so good right now after doing that. My NaNo count is up to 30,721 now. Still behind, but hopefully if I get a good chunk done tomorrow I will be able to hit 50k by the end of the month.

Before I go, I have to shamelessly advertise: Kris started a new blog. She’s still maintaining her Sugar Wolf blog about writing, but she created a new blog called Wagging Tales. She works with dogs so this blog is dedicated to stories and her experiences with the furry, loveable creatures. So feel free to go check it out!

I hope everyone is having good luck with their writing  and NaNo (if you’re participating). Talk to you soon! 🙂

Posted in Writing

The Babysitting Adventures of Rachel

It’s Gonna Be A Best-Seller…

Starting back in the summer of 2010, I started babysitting two boys. I only watch them during the summer as both of their parents work while the kids are at school, which is nice. They’re one of the few families that actually have the parents home when the kids are home that I know of.

So this is the third summer I’m watching them. The oldest, Jack, is now 13 and the youngest, Sam, is 11. The oldest has ADD while the youngest has ADD and a touch of Autism. They get along really well, but…you know, they’re brothers. Despite their special needs, Jack is actually capable of being home alone for a few hours and watching his little brother. However, he torments poor Sam half of the time. So instead of actually “babysitting” I get paid to “referee.” And it’s funny because last summer was horrible, but Jack has actually matured with age…for a boy. I honestly don’t think I need to be there. But I love hanging out with the two of them, so why not?

Anyway, the whole point of this post is to talk about what Sam wants me to do. We drove my cousin and her friend to their swimming lesson a few weeks ago. The swim lesson was only a half hour long so we stayed there to watch. Sam had his Nintendo DS and his Pokemon to keep himself company. I planned on playing my game, but I found myself caught up in watching the kids swim. But somehow Sam got a hold of my iPod and was looking at my calendar.

“Camp NoNoWr…what?” Sam stammered to read my July entries.

“Camp NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month.” I laughed at his pronunciation and corrected him.

Of course, Sam has no idea what that is. So I explained the whole thing to him simply. Judging by the look on his face, he wasn’t all that impressed.

“Geez, Rachel…I knew you were a geek, but I didn’t think you were that much of a geek.” he scoffed.

Honestly, I was kind of surprised at how offended I got. Of course I was laughing, but I never really thought writing would be categorized as being a geek. That was certainly the first time I heard that, but I just don’t think Sam knew what to think about it.

“Hey, it’s writing. Writing is my career.” I replied and he stared at me funny. “Well…I want it to be my career. I want to be an author someday…sooner rather than later, I mean. NaNo is something that helps me get closer to that goal.”

From the look on Sam’s face, I now had his attention. And he seemed to understand, too. Yet, he was still confused because he knew I’m going to school to be a teacher and he knows I’m a teacher at a preschool. I explained I went to school for teaching as a day job just in case selling books doesn’t bring in enough money. But I am going to get my Bachelor’s in English. Being with children and writing are two of my favorite things to do. I can easily do both and if writing becomes more of a priority…well, my books are all picture books, middle grade, or young adult. It’s still kid stuff. He nodded an approval at my plan.

Then the wheels in his head began to squeak. Then they moved slowly and before I knew it, the rust was dusted off and the wheels were turning five miles per second.

“The Babysitting Adventures of Rachel!” he exclaimed. “You should write a book all about you and me and all the fun we have together! I bet you it will be a big hit!”

I found this amusing. Sam texts me throughout the school year every once in a while and when the summer nears and his mom and I start planning a schedule for me to babysit, he’s always calling me on the phone super excited. His mom tells me he constantly talks about me and she’s so happy by how much he loves me. If the child is not happy about the babysitter, then there’s an issue somewhere. But I was excited that Sam took an interest in my writing and he was trying to help me out. Although, at first I thought it was just him being 11, but then I realized he was serious.

“You can talk about me and you and Chance!” he continued on and on. “I guess Jack can be in there…maybe you can put Jackie and Katherine in there, too.” Then he whispers: “You know, just to be nice.”

–Let me stop to explain for a moment: Chance is his dog, Jack is his brother (as previously mentioned), Jackie is my cousin (the one who was swimming), and Kat is my other cousin (Jackie’s little sister). Continuing on…–

Then I asked a question I shouldn’t have (but I still thought he was joking): “How long should this book be?”

“Um…100 pages!”

Uh…what? Wow, he really thought this through in the past five minutes, didn’t he? Then he stuck out his hand and I shook it.

“What’s this for?” I asked.

“So I know you’ll definitely do it.”

Well, crap. Now I’m stuck. I have an 11-year-old wanting me to write 100 pages all about our fun together. How was I going to pull this one off? He had to be kidding, right? He was probably going to forget about this whole thing by tomorrow, anyway…right?

After I finished babysitting that day I thought long and hard about our conversation. I began laughing to myself and thought: challenge accepted.

A few days later (yes, he remembered), he told me that he wants it to be 256 pages now. Random number, right? I don’t get it, either. However, I did say challenge accepted, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to write that much about us. All we really do is go in the pool, play with the dog, and play Pokemon. Seriously. I’ll make the story 100-256 pages. No less than 100, no more than 256. But I doubt I’ll get to 256 pages.

I realized that I am probably going to make Sam’s life when I write this book. Of course I’m not going to write it ready for publication, but it helped spark a middle grade series idea (with the help of Kris when I told her this story) that I think I am going to write. And who knows? Maybe it will be the “next big thing.”

Posted in Writing

Cheerios and Chicken Soup

Yum…

Kris and I decided to do more writing contests and such.

I’m sure most of you have heard of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books? This is one of the things we want to do. We pick book topics that we can write a nonfiction story about and send it in. If your story is picked to be in the book, you’ll receive 200 dollars plus ten free copies of the book. I think that’s a good deal.

As of right now, there are two topics that I am able to write for. Stories About Cats and Overcoming Challenges. I could write for the Stories About Dogs one, but I don’t have any real stories that pop out in my mind. I can only think of one story with my cat, Hunter, and my turtle, Raph. I’m going to write about that. I doubt it’ll get picked, but hey–might as well toss in every story I can, right? The deadline for this one is August 31, 2013.

The Overcoming Challenges one I’m going to talk about my high school career–my best friend bullying me, my anxiety disorder, and some of the teachers not believing in me. I don’t know if I ever explained this one here, but I left high school half way through my junior year. I did get my high school diploma, but I went through college to get it. It also gave me a head start on my degree, which was nice. The deadline for this one is October 31, 2013.

There are a couple of other topics I could write for, but there are no stories that pop into my head for them. We’ll see, though; especially since I have time for the two topics I plan on doing. Of course August 31 is going to be here before I know it.

I also heard of another contest through My Journey As A Writer‘s blog. It’s called Cheerios Spoonful of Stories. You can send in an unlimited amount of children’s books. Grand prize is 5,000 dollars. The story is featured on the website as well as handed over to Simon and Schuster publishing to be considered for publication. Second and third prize gets 1,000 dollars. The deadline is July 31, 2013.

I have a few children’s book ideas, but I don’t know if I’m going to have the time to write, edit, and send them in. I’m leaving for vacation on Saturday and when I come back there will be about three days left until the deadline. The book I would love to send in is still being considered by a publisher who only takes exclusive manuscripts. I’m not allowed to send the manuscript anywhere else until I hear from them, or September 7 (it’s a three-month turnaround time and I sent it in on June 7). We’ll see if I have any time this week to write up some manuscripts and give them a good look-over.

There’s also Writer’s Digest competitions. I have done a couple of their competitions before, but never won anything. Of course, I can keep trying.

I also bought a book called 2013 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market. Not only does the book have a list of publishers and agents, it has a list of contests, as well. Of course, a lot of them have already ended because I was smart and bought the book half way through the year of 2013. But it also has a list of magazines, too. Some pay, some don’t. Some have contests, some don’t. But you can still send stuff in, depending on what they’re looking for.

I told myself I wanted to have something published by my 25th birthday. Of course, when I say something published, I mean one of my young adult novels or middle grade novels or something.

I turn 20 on September 1, 2013. That gives me five more years to get something done. If I can get something published by winning a contest, even if it’s just published in a small magazine, I’ll take it. I would prefer one of my novels, but if it gets my foot in the door, I’ll be happy.