6th Draft

6th Draft

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The dreaded red pen has come out and the manuscript for The Puzzle Quests: Sketchy Dinosaurs has been printed. Not published, but printed and placed in a binder. There comes a point when I have to physically hold my work in progress and mark it up.

A few steps happen on the 6th edit. I’m looking at specifics, plot sequence, and clarity. For Sketchy Dinosaurs, this includes more interaction between Mark and Luke, including their comic that I have mentioned in the first two books. When writing a series, it’s important to make sure I bring the sub-plots to an end.

I’m looking at the themes I implemented. This may take a couple drafts. For this version, I’m focused on Mark’s love of food and his need to put ketchup on absolutely everything! Humor is a consistent theme in this book. How many times does Mark pass off his T-Rex as a lizard. Do I describe his dinosaur/lizard in enough detail so that the reader can picture it? I even tally the number of times I mention a theme just to make sure it’s developed enough.

Parts of the plot are still missing, like how will Mark rescue two more missing dinosaurs? I feel it needs more suspense on Mark’s part, which will help him grow. How is my main character growing and does he grow enough so that the reader will notice the change?

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Mackenzie and Rebecca have been two of my beta readers since Shimmer’s Eggs!

At this point, I also bring in the beta readers. These are students ranging from 4-7 grade who have either read the previous books or are new to the series. They read the manuscript, make their own suggestions directly on the pages, and answer some of the questions I had above. They make my book the best it can be, and their feedback is essential.

In addition, involving children in the process creates strong readers and writers. Maybe they will be inspired to write their own stories. We get together and have a discussion and the ideas that come out of these sessions are impressive. Learning to respect one another’s views and suggestions is a powerful life lesson. This is one of my favorite parts of editing.

So for anyone who is writing their own book, know that the process can be long and arduous, but these steps are vital to a fabulous story. Have someone outside of your circle of friends and family read it so you get an unbiased opinion. I don’t have to worry about that with my beta readers–they are honest to the core!

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Saving Atlantis has Arrived!!!

Saving Atlantis has Arrived!!!

It’s here!

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Until I had the books in my hands, I worried that Saturday morning would come and I wouldn’t have any books to sell! But fear not, Meradith from Troy Book Makers did everything in her power to get my book on time. I highly recommend her and the company!

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Meradith from Troy Book Makers! Everyone knows they have to take a photo with me!

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Karen, one of my prestigious proofreaders and inspiration for mother of Rose wore her special Atlantis t-shirt. I can always count on her to go all in!

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Iris inspired the Cuban food gathering in Saving Atlantis. Food heals and brings family together.

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So now the fun begins. There are many opportunities to get a copy of your book, and I want to support independent bookstores. Purchase a copy of Saving Atlantis or Shimmer’s Eggs between September 21 and October 5, take a photo of you with either book outside the independent bookstore so its name is visible. Share on my Facebook page Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #savingatlantisindiebookpromo and your name will be entered into a drawing to win one of two puzzles.

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Win 110 piece puzzle! #savingatlantisindiebookpromo
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2nd chance to win Shimmer’s Eggs 110 piece puzzle! #savingatlantisindiebookpromo

Check out the many opportunities to get your copy. I hope to see you at one of my events. Thank you to everyone who has helped me fulfill my dream of writing and sharing my adventurous stories!

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Please remember that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Part of my mission as a writer is to share hope for anyone going through a life-threatening illness or loss. No matter where you are there is hope. Partial proceeds from all my book sales benefit Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation, which emotionally and financially supports children with cancer.

 

Creative Writing and Journaling

Creative Writing and Journaling

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My fourth and fifth grade workshop students worked on getting to know their characters. Figuring out what they love more than anything else and the reason is a huge part of their motivation. Establishing their fear and throwing them into a dangerous situation where that fear is right in their face helps them decide what kind of person their character is. What are their strengths, weaknesses? Brave, strong, scared, helpless?

They are ready to begin their stories if they know the answers to these questions.

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My middle grade writers had fun decorating their Grasping Gratitude gift boxes. This special box holds what they are grateful for.

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It’s an endless gift that we can always go back to when life gets too hard.

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When we grasp gratitude, we hold the goodness in life that makes it worth living. We heal from the pain and loss that we feel. We appreciate what we have.

This was their favorite part of the workshop. I hope they continue to grasp the positive.

It All Starts with a Seed

It All Starts with a Seed

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Creating. It all starts with a seed–whether it’s a garden, an idea, artwork, or a family. This idea came to me as I began my next book and flourished as I was harvesting all the vegetables in my garden.

I thought about what it takes to create anything in life. I always plant my garden during Memorial Day weekend. Over the years, I have figured out what works or doesn’t yield much. We have had to move our tomatoes to a different area so that they get more sun. It has been a learning process. I plant what I know we will enjoy eating. I plant, because I want to eat local and healthy. I also plant, because I love nurturing the tiny seeds and feel joy when they start to sprout. I am hopeful when, despite storms or cold nights, they fight through and eventually grow taller than me. If I give the plants what they need and allow them to flourish, then they prosper.

Wow, doesn’t that sound a lot like raising children?

It’s also how I approach my writing. Everything I create or want to bring forth in this world grows my purpose to provide hope and make the world a better place. These are some steps I take to create or write:

  1. Intention/Purpose: What is my intention for writing this book? Why do I want to write it? What do I want my readers to get from it? I write to soften the harshness of reality and provide hope no matter how dire the circumstances.
  2. Creating from a Positive mindset: Whatever I do, whether it’s cooking a meal, growing my garden, or writing a book, I come from a positive frame of mind. When I’m cooking my sauce, I don’t think about the guy who cut me off on the way home, or the argument I had with someone. I think about my wonderful family who will enjoy my meal. I sprinkle love and happiness into the meal. When I write, I want to spread hope and joy to those reading my books. If I write from a negative or bitter point of view, then I’m releasing that out into the world. Yes, maybe the topics aren’t easy, but my intention is hope and so that is where I create from.
  3. Don’t Overthink: I am excited that my first middle grade novel, The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs will be out in October of this year. Don’t worry! Details are coming! I have jumped right into the second book, because I want to keep the characters’ voices flowing. I worried about where to start the book, but continued from where the first book ended. I didn’t think about what I was writing. I wrote from my character’s feelings. The first five pages sounded grimmer than I wanted, but I knew I was just in the seed planting stage. I had to prepare the soil and see what grew from there. I don’t get bogged down by the need for perfection. I am in the midst of creating and know that I will rewrite those first lines and chapter about 20 times.
  4. Be Nurturing: Being kind to myself and my words when I write goes back to keeping that positive energy flowing. By nurturing my words, I let them grow on their own. I may guide them by writing out a description that may work. Upon editing, it may not sound write anymore, so I prune and snip and add back in until I see the fruit of my nurturing come forth. I come from a place of love and belief in my writing.
  5. Hard Work: Nothing worth creating is easy. It takes dedication, time, and consistency to grow, to build, to flourish. If I left my garden for a week without water or weeding or even picking the vegetables, my garden would suffer. I have to consistently work at it to give it the space and effort it deserves. The same goes with writing. If I write once a week or even once every few days, my writing will dry up and my characters will wilt.
  6. Team Effort: Whoever said that writing is an individual effort, never worked with a team or a group of characters. When I’m in my head, I’m never alone. When I’m in my garden, I am surrounded by life. I have a gang of people just pushing to get me to tell me their story. But the team effort doesn’t stop here. I am fortunate enough to be a part of a Super Cool Writer’s Group! By putting my work out there to fellow supportive writers, my creating has grown in leaps and bounds. I get feedback, but am also held accountable to produce. It’s like a farmer’s co-op. Everyone needs to bring their share of the vegetables. So we make sure we create regularly.

Creating is a part of being human. When we come from a place of love, altruism, and philanthropy, we make the world a better place. When we create from the heart, then we bring forth positive change and benefit from our harvest, no matter what it is.

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