New Year, New Goals: 2023

So it has been a year since I have written a blog entry however, I am happy to say it is because 2022 was a very busy year for me. I was not able to keep up with my blog as I had planned, and at first viewed this as defeat, but as I look back at 2022 and into 2023, I realize I was able to fulfill my goals in other ways.

I was able to continue working on my manuscripts and I feel one is finally ready to be sent out to some agents. Fingers crossed. It is a work of historical fiction, full of twists and turns. I am thankful that having a few writings published by Introvert, Dear gave me the confidence to keep writing and explore writing options. One of my writing goals for 2023 is to start querying my historical fiction manuscript and to go back to my very first romance manuscript to deconstruct and make some major changes. The bones are there for the piece but it definitely needs reworked.

My artistic goals for 2022 were surpassed when I was given the opportunity to paint a mural in a local Fredericksburg outdoor store, River Rock Outfitter. I happen to work at the store on the weekends and collaborated with the owner to design and paint two adjoining walls. I wanted to put all things special to our area of Virginia in it, starting with the Shenandoah mountains, dogwood flowers, Motts Run Reservoir, kayaking the Rapidan River, canoeing the Rappahannock, the Fredericksburg train bridge and animals native to our region. The figures in the mural are female as the business is female owned and operated and I wanted to send the message to women to get outside and take advantage of all nature has to offer. I was happy to be out there painting again and the mural opened up a few other artistic endeavors. One of my artistic goals for 2023 is to continue painting and rediscover my niche in the art world.

Photography continues to be a passion of mine and I am always learning and growing as a photographer. In 2022 I was able to photograph a local singer and songwriter. We had two successful photo shoots and I am excited to see how she uses my photos for her new album debuting in March. As an introvert, I still prefer photographing inanimate objects but when I do connect with a client, it does become magical. My photography goal for 2023, is to continuing exploring and learning new techniques and to decide whether to stick with a DSLR camera or go mirrorless.

Between photo shoots, painting and writing, I still managed to teach art to my elementary students. School has become a bit more normal since the pandemic but I am looking forward to retiring in a few years so I can get back to doing art for me full time. Teaching others takes a lot from you and after getting my creativity sort of “sucked” out of me over the years, I am slowly finding balance again.

Actually, I think 2023 will be all about balance. So here’s to 2023 and finding that balance in life!

Happy New Year!

First snow of 2022

Happy New Year!

And what a year it is turning out to be. Still right in the midst of a pandemic and Virginia decides their first snowstorm should be twelve inches of heavy wet snow. We are going on our fourth day without power and it looks like we might not gain power back until the weekend. So this will be short, just enough to check in and wish everyone good fortune in this new year.

Be happy and be humble and here’s to looking forward!

Moving Forward

Sunlit leaves captured with my Nikon

So far, this summer has been an interesting ride. What started out as writing one article has turned into a multi-article gig. During the winter months of the pandemic, I sent along an article to Introvert, Dear, an award winning community site for introverts. At that time, I was also in the midst of writing a potential novel and surrounded in query rejections. I didn’t think too much about the article and when I didn’t hear back, I figured it was just another rejection.

However, life took an exciting turn and after months, I finally heard back from Introvert, Dear. Not only did they like my article about my virtual learners, they wanted three more article ideas. I was finally going to be a published writer! But hold on, being an introvert and writing about it well, seemed a bit uncomfortable. (Introverts out there know what I am talking about.) Here I was, ready to spill the beans about my inner most thoughts and anxieties.

So, what to do. Well, my inner monologue had a long discussion with itself and decided it was fine to go ahead and write about being an introvert. After all, no one would probably read or connect with what I had to say anyway. Wrong! I was completely unprepared and surprised by encouraging emails and comments from those who connected to my words and thoughts. I was even more amazed at the response I received from my piece on creativity and introverts. Connecting with others who understood where I was coming from was very powerful and inspired me to write more. Through my writings, I could help others understand and figure out myself!

Since my last piece on creativity, I have written two more articles to be published in the next few weeks and I have two other writings in the works. I never envisioned writing articles would suit me as I was going for the big one, a novel. But not so fast, I’m still working on two separate potential novel projects, and hope to get them ready to query soon, but I am thankful I have other writing opportunities to focus on while I get the hang of this novel thing.

To my writing friends out there, don’t give up! Opportunities will come in ways you never expected. And to my introverted friends, I totally get you and you are not alone!

Random Thoughts and What-Nots

Dogwood flower, Virginia (Nikon d500)

I have been busy these past months writing and reflecting as well as doing a bit of light background acting for some shows filming in the Richmond area of Virginia. Most recently, my writing piece on friendships was published by Introvert, Dear. I wanted to write the piece to connect with others, and I am very grateful I was able to reach a few people who understood and related to the article.

Each time I write something or post a photograph, it’s a little piece of me I am sharing with the whole big world. Although only few will see it, I am still reluctant to put myself out there because I am not looking for recognition or a pat on the back, I’m just trying to be me. I am finally in a place in my life where I am comfortable with my accomplishments. I struggle a bit with being a creative introvert so my next article will address some of my issues.

In addition to the short articles I have been writing for Introvert, Dear, I am continuing to write a historical fiction novel. I really like the work I have done so far but I am at sort of a stand-still with a few details in the middle. I want to keep the excitement going, but I’m not exactly sure yet of the direction. I believe it will eventually come together and I am excited to keep writing I just hope I get over this writing hurdle.

While I have the summer, I will continue writing my short pieces as well as my novel. I have a painting idea in my head I hope to get on canvas soon too. I really enjoy these summer months as a time to zone in on my creativity and take a breather from everyday work stresses. Hope everyone finds some time to themselves to think and create!

A Published Author At Last

I am a true introvert and follow Introvert Dear relating probably more than I would like to their articles. If you haven’t seen their website or other social media platforms, check them out!

A while back I decided to try my hand at writing for them since I know introverts all too well. I didn’t hear anything from them at first but was busy getting rejections from my debut novel, so I was beginning to seriously doubt my skills as a writer. Then in late April, Introvert Dear contacted me with some edits and I rewrote a few things and like magic, my article was published!

Just like that, my confidence was restored (until the next rejection, right?) and I am in the process of writing a few more pieces for Introvert Dear as well as finishing my work in progress. So my advice to all novice writers out there, just keep writing. Write things of all kinds, submit work and don’t lose hope. When you least expect success, is when it will find you.

Check out my article here: Why Introverts Excel at Virtual Learning

What type of writer are you?

As I get more involved in the world of writers, I have learned that writers tend to approach their work very differently. One would think it’s a straightforward process, but creativity comes to writers in different ways all ending with a similar result of a finished article or story. Similarly, as a studio artist, I can vouch that creating a work of art has very much the same processes as writing leading me to believe that differentiation in the creativity process is common, however how one approaches it may be less so.

I have attempted to classify writers into five different categories. Which one best describes you?

The correct as you go

This writer starts at the beginning of their story, often writing in chronological order in sync with their storyline. They frequently use a dictionary, thesaurus and other writing tools during the writing process and are quick to correct notable mistakes right away as they type along.

When they return to their work-in-progress, they often go back a few pages, or perhaps even start at the beginning of the work, correcting and re-correcting as they go. This whole process is repeated numerous times during the writing process but the editing does not stop when the work is completed.

The Story Dumper

Writers in this category dump all of their thoughts out without batting an eye, paying no mind to paragraphs, punctuation or spelling. Their goal is to get their ideas down quickly and efficiently with the notion they are able to go back and edit everything at a later time.

There is a satisfaction and sense of freedom to being able to write without worrying about anything but the central plot.

The Ending is the Beginning

Some writers know exactly how their story will end, and are able to begin writing with their ending; essentially working backwards through their work. These writers have a solid idea how they would like their story to conclude and once it is written out, the other scenes and details fall into place.

The Jumper

Have you ever been daydreaming and the perfect idea or scene comes to you? Jumper writers have the unique ability to go back and forth within their work, adding and deleting scenes where they see fit. Once scenes and story lines are written, they can be connected at a later time through the editing process. These writers tend to write in portions, and have no trouble seamlessly connecting everything into a cohesive work.

The Outliner

Ah, the list makers. Every good novel begins with an outline…right? Maybe so for this group of writers who meticulously write out an outline of events before their work is even started. They may even write a list of character names and traits so they can easily refer back to it during the writing process. Being well organized isn’t a bad thing!

And so there you have it, a categorization of writers, with none being better or more efficient than another; just different ways of approaching writing.

So what type of writer am I? Definitely a correct as you go. I have a general idea of my story in my head, though it changes as I write. I tend to start at the beginning and work my way through even if I have an idea for a later scene. Forget about spelling and grammar errors, I have to correct them as I go. I just have to! Of course, I always miss a few and those will be picked up in the final editing process, especially if autocorrect has done something horrid that I don’t pick up on right away.

I also tend to re-read my work from the previous day. I find going back helps me to maintain my character’s integrity and make sure I have kept with the story line. I also re-arrange sentences as I go or delete them if they do not work as I wish. Going back and reading also helps me develop new story lines and connect ones I have already written.

Perhaps you fall into one of these writing categories, or maybe you fall under a few. The writing process is unique to everyone and it’s the end product (novel, article, script) that truly matters in the end. Happy writing everyone!

Querying for Novices

I am in the beginning stages of querying my manuscript and it is proving to be quite a task. Every writer is different but staying organized and focused are two things I have found to help my process.

Here are five more things to think about:

Do Your Research

Before you start sending out that query letter and marvelous manuscript, research publishers and agents that seem like they would be a good fit. It doesn’t make sense to send along your hard work to someone who only represents mysteries when you have written a romance. Sometimes literary agents are open to different kinds genres but you need to be sure of that before bombarding their in-box with your masterpiece. is a great place to find agents and publishers.

Make a List of Publishers and Literary Agents

This is a way to keep yourself organized. Start by sending your query letter to your C list first; these are publishers and agents that might be a good choice but are not exactly what you are looking for, maybe they are a hybrid publisher and you are looking for a more traditional publisher.

Your B list has literary agents and publishers that you would be thrilled to work with, but maybe they are not as well known or perhaps they are missing one or two things you are looking for in representation.

The final list is your A top-notch list. These are your dream agents and publishers, perhaps part of the Big 4, but maybe not. If you get a few bites from your B and C list, send along your manuscript to someone on your A list. You never know what might happen!

And just a tip for you, no one needs to know about your list! It is based on personal preference and who you feel would best represent you. Nothing more!

And hey, at this point in my game, I would be happy if my dog could be my agent and publish my book!

Be Sure Your Manuscript is Ready

Ok, so I made this mistake once. I wrote my manuscript and it was perfect; every word seemed to flow, the grammar was flawless, there were no plot holes, the characters evolved…NOT! I was overly excited to start the querying process and I sent out my manuscript before it was ready for someone else’s eyes. (I’ve never received such polite rejections.) Before sending anything out: read it, reread it, edit, edit again, revise, revamp, read it again…whatever! Just make sure it’s truly as awesome as you keep telling yourself. Finding good beta readers can help you determine where you stand with your manuscript.

Another tip, make sure you have a solid query letter, synopsis and one or two sentence pitch prepared in addition to your manuscript. Agents will not always ask for the same thing, so having all of these ready beforehand can save you a headache. When an agent requires one or all of these pieces, you can just pull them up to tweak and personalize as needed.

Keep writing

Don’t sit around waiting for responses to your query. Keep your mind busy by focusing on other projects. Start a new manuscript, focus on your blog or go write a list of ideas to explore. It may be weeks or months before you hear back from an agent. Worrying and analyzing your query isn’t going to get faster results, so do yourself a favor and start something fresh.

Take Workshops and Connect with Other Writers

If your locality has a professional writers group, I highly recommend joining it. I am a member of the James River Writers‘ and I have found a wealth of information including workshops, lectures, contests, master classes and so much more all at my fingertips. Recently I took a query letters class with M.M. Finck, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I learned. I even got some personal advice on one of my query letters!

Social media is also a great place to get in touch with writers if you know where to look. I found Jane Friedman on Twitter and jumped at the chance to take one of her Master Classes. It was very informative and honest, leaving me feeling more confident and knowledgeable about what to expect during the querying process.

However, be careful with social media because for every writer out there to lift you up, there’s another one waiting to bring you down.

I’m here to lift you up. Happy querying!


Story Beginnings. Are wake-ups too cliche?

My current manuscript begins with my protagonist waking up. I know, I know, how cliche and wrong! Every blog article and post reminds us this is what writers do when they don’t know how to begin a story. However, what if there good reason behind beginning a novel with your character waking? Or perhaps a better question, is there ever a good reason?

The protagonist in my manuscript is famous and the media portrays him to be one way, when he is actually another. I opted to take a risk and open up my story with my character waking and going about his routine, to looking in the mirror. The mirror is an important symbol throughout the story because my character is constantly wondering if he is seeing the same person everyone else is seeing. His physical appearance factors in throughout, not only because he is handsome, but because he is labeled a “heartthrob” by the press and so he believes he must always live up to this expectation.

Through mirrors, my character can analyze and scrutinize himself which he does quite frequently. In the opening scene, he not only reflects on his super-star good looks but also how much he resembles his estranged father. This realization fills him with anguish and pain, taking him back to his turbulent childhood. If his appearance is so similar to his father’s, perhaps they also share a poor demeanor.

Mirror are introduced throughout my manuscript, and at the closing, the bathroom routine is revisited. My main character has overcome many personal obstacles and has truly come full-circle. He finally no longer feels the need to look in the mirror and analyze himself. “He was who he was, and no amount of staring and looking was going to change him, where he came from, or who he was; somehow he didn’t care too much if his Jake was the same Jake that everyone else saw.”

So my point in beginning my novel in such a way considered too cliche, was to portray a normal waking-up routine that was symbolic and thematic throughout my novel. I’m not certain if this is a good enough reason for some, but I find for this particular story it works. Fingers crossed.