Pen to Publish: Natalie C. Markey
As a freelance journalist and novelist, just about everything I do is a part of my journey from Pen to Publish. Whether it has to do with my freelance articles or one of my books, my writing life is constantly on the move. I hope you enjoy my posts on writing tips, industry news and my personal writing journey. I publish every Wednesday and Friday.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Pen to Publish is moving
Please be patient and do not be quick to judge its appearance. This is a work in progress....BUT it will still bring you great posts that you have grown to enjoy here. During the transition I will be posting posts to both sites but only for 2 weeks or so.
Thank you for your support and patience.
Friday, March 23, 2012
How “The Hunger Games” should motivate the writer you
Today “The Hunger Games” hits theaters. Heck, many of us saw it last night at midnight and won’t be reading this blog post until much later after they wake up! I’m being a good wife and waiting to see it tonight with my husband so this post is spoiler free.
I love seeing book to film adoptions because I leave the theater feeling so energized. Yes, I like the “Twilight” movies, I love “Harry Potter” and I’m really looking forward to seeing “The Hunger Games” but my excitement isn’t because of the movies it’s because those movies, those books once were only a thought. They all started off with their authors sitting in front a blank computer screen.
Every story comes from a simple thought no matter how complex the plot and sub plots turn out to be. As I write, it’s the endless possibilities that excite me and keep me pushing through the hard times. Yesterday my daughter woke up on the wrong side of the crib. It rained all day so Oscar (the dog) was naturally upset and even Diamond and Jedi (the bunnies) were restless and just plain annoying. It was a very bad writing day. After everyone went to sleep I stayed up and worked. I revised this blog post, revised another chapter in my YA and wrote my goal of 2,000 words in my middle grade project. Yes, I was up pretty late but it’s the possibility that someday readers may be waiting to read my work that keeps me going.
Most authors don’t get movie deals. I’m not setting my goals to be unrealistic (I still can dream though) but someday I hope to have readers just as excited about my characters as I am. I want to share the worlds I have created with the world and because of such a possibility and goal I keep writing.
“The Hunger Games” began with a blank page. It once was an idea in Suzanne Collins’ head. It wasn’t always a polished manuscript or New York Bestseller. Anyone’s work can get there. The possibilities are endless, exciting and motivating.
How do you keep your dreams and possibilities in sight when you have a bad day?
If you love to follow popular young adult movie coverage Examiner.com has some great columns for you.
The Mortal Instruments Examiner: Where I cover all things related to Cassandra Clare’s series’ The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, and The Dark Artifices
You can also follow:
All of these columns are perfect for up to date and accurate coverage on the popular young adult series that you love.
Novel Novice is another great site that covers all things young adult with an educational spin to it.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Is clutter the cause for your writing frustration?
Welcome spring! After a relatively boring winter it’s so nice to finally say hello to spring. Where as winter makes me think of holidays, cozy blankets and working with hot chocolate on my coaster—spring makes me think of color, cleaning and productivity.
For most writers the holidays get in the way and clutter builds up throughout winter as we fight to catch up to our once productive routines. This is especially true for writing moms because we have even more to manage. But is the clutter in and around your life disrupting your writing?
Everyone knows the age-old phrase of “spring cleaning” and if you are like me you HATE IT! I hate cleaning, doing laundry, and many other household tasks. Honestly, I’m about as domesticated as a wild mountain lion. The ideal day for me would be sitting on my back patio writing to the sounds of wildlife and enjoying the fresh air and thinking about the fresh dinner I would enjoy making that evening. But the truth is that sometimes it takes a little hard work to give our productivity a boost.
Just try it out. No matter what deadline you are on, take a half an hour (if you need that) and clean up your desk, office, etc. No you do not have to “spring clean” the entire house. You can be like me and do that in pieces but do clean your workspace.
You can make this enjoyable. I put on some music. You can opt for an audiobook or catch up with someone on the phone. Do what you can to make this time not painful but do your “spring clean.”
Once you are finished sit back. I had a glass of wine and observed the work. Take a few deep breaths and doesn’t everything seem manageable now? Of course it does, you can see the color of your desk! Now neatly organize what piles you have on your desk and get back to work.
You will quickly see how simply cleaning up can improve your writing and productivity. Now you can take that feeling of accomplishment and apply it to other rooms in your house. Clearing the clutter from your life will make you feel better and help you in all aspects of your life.
Have you done your spring cleaning yet? Share your spring cleaning stories and tips in a comment below.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Saving yourself time one bunny or (INSERT HOBBY HERE) at a time
Earlier this week I shared with you all my adventures in being a bunny momma. Since then my bunnies have gone to the vet and have received a clean bill of health. They are out of the “danger zone” and continue to thrive. Needless to say I’m excited and this is being a great learning process.
Having a pet, any pet, takes time and dedication. Does that sound familiar? Being a writer also takes time and dedication. This is hard work and not for the faint of heart. Taking on a hobby that you love can make you a stronger and happier writer. But you can also incorporate your hobby into your branding and writing. Write what you know and save yourself some time.
Most people who read my blog know that I love animals. I’m published in non-fiction writing about dogs. I’m working on a second dog book and I’m now raising bunnies as mentioned in my previous post. So it should come of no surprise to you that I include animals in most of my fiction writing.
As writers we are jacks-of-all-trades. We get to research time periods, clothing, and many gadgets. One thing we can capitalize on is including what we know and love.
It saves time.
Writing is hard enough. Do what you can to make it easy on you. What have you incorporated into your writing that you know about? How have you saved yourself the research?
My book “Caring for Your Special Needs Dog” is available and gives a portion to Texas A&M Veterinarian School for research. It’s easy and rewarding to care for a special needs dog. Read how today for only $2.99.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Finding a helpful distraction- one bunny at a time
Being a writer is hard. There is so much more than just writing. You are your own boss. You are your own business. And then add the other things in your life like caring for a toddler. Everyone is busy. Everyone has their thing holding them back. I’ve always heard people talking about taking up a hobby to relax and unwind. I secretly laughed at this because come on, when would I have time to do anything! I barely have time for church and that is very sad!
But things have a way of working out for the best. I now believe that it is vital to find something completely unrelated to writing and family needs to do. My “thing” found me. My dog found a nest of baby bunnies in our yard. I left them alone knowing that they were better off with their mom. However, over the days we started to notice the bunnies getting sickly. I laid out some food for the mother and the next morning it was untouched. Their nest was also untouched from the previous days. We began to suspect that they were abandoned and seeing the construction and burning that had picked up in our neighborhood it was believable. I called the zoo, the game commissioner and humane societies. I didn’t know what to do with baby bunnies but I didn’t want them to die either. I kept getting the same answer, “this is natures way of population control.” I actually had someone tell me to go dump them and end their suffering. I was appalled.
I was still on the fence about what to do when our first spring storm hit. It was bad and since our yard is on an incline there was a small stream that formed in our yard that mixed with mud creating a yucky natural paste. I thought I could go cover the bunnies with a bowl or something to shelter them. When I went outside in the storm to check on them I found that their nest was flooding. They were screaming. One was stuck in the sticky mud and was stretching to lift it’s head above water. It was horrible. I knew then that it was up to me to do something. Without their mother’s milk they may still die but I was not letting them die a horrible death in my yard.
I rushed to save them. They didn’t fight me. Instead they rushed to me when I started offering them aid. I had to dig the bunny out of the mud that was stuck and it wasn’t moving it’s back legs. I rushed the three of them inside and called the vet for instructions.
For the last week I’ve been bottle-feeding them every 3 hours. They are all thriving even the one who couldn’t move its legs. The vet determined that it was in hypothermic shock when I rescued it. Thanks to the use of some warm blankets and my messaging its legs it made it.
I’m on a strict deadline and just signed another contract. I’m also working hard on my fiction work all while continuing my freelance contracts. I take care of my 19-month-old daughter and teach workshops on how to be a writing mom and time management for the busy writer. I really don’t have time to be a bunny momma. However, these little bunnies have helped me in so many ways.
Despite the hard work to take care of them I’m seeing that they actually help my writing. I’m horrible at never turning my mind off but when I’m bottle-feeding the bunnies I have to focus completely on them. They can’t be fooled and do best with a calm environment. I turn on classical music for them and rock them to calm them until they will eat. It is soothing for both them and me. This new project of caring for them puts everything in perspective. So I’ve gotten a few rejections. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I love what I’m doing. Just the simple act of calming down the bunnies calms me down and makes me a better writer.
Now I’m not suggesting that everyone goes out and saves the nearest orphaned animal. I am suggesting that you think about a non-work related hobby, Tackle a new project where you can completely separate your mind from writing. Take a break and fill fulfilled in another way.
I’m loving my little bunnies and the quiet time that we have together. This helps my writing and stress level in so many ways. What hobby have you taken on that has helped your writing and life?
Friday, March 9, 2012
The Airplane Theory to being a great writer
How many of you actually listen to what the flight attendants say before take off? Or are you busy rummaging around in your purse and carryon looking for that gum your just purchased?
I used to hate to fly but throughout my professional career as I’ve had to do it more often by myself, I’ve grown to love it. It gives me time to myself when I can catch up with a good book or get ahead on a deadline or daily word count. I also am guilty to say that I really never listened to those safety instructions until I was by myself. You may recall when they talk about the oxygen masks and how they will fall from the ceiling if the cabin pressure drops that you are instructed that if traveling with a child, secure your mask before assisting the child.
Hopefully none of us ever have to experience such a scenario, but there is a lot that we can learn from these important instructions that so many ignore. It’s easy, especially as a parent to want to put others first. We want to take care of our baby. It’s our nature. However, if you aren’t taking care of you, what kind of care are you giving your baby? What kind of quality of work are you putting into that article or manuscript? Did you actually put laundry detergent in the dishwasher?
You get the idea. In order to create/maintain a productive writing career as a writing mom, you need to put yourself first. This includes fitness and mental health. Through routine exercise you will see that not only does it help you feel good but it also will improve the kind of mother you are and the kind of writing you are.
Most of the time, writing moms are trying to think about both aspects of their lives as separate pieces to their lives. You don’t have to. You can have it all but don’t forget to look out for you! And this method isn’t just for writing moms but all busy writers. Do you have a day job? Care for a parent? Juggling multiple contracts? Whatever your situation may be, take a lesson from The Airplane Theory.
Blog shout outs:
T.E.A.M. – Everyone Achieves More by author Kristen Lamb
You Can Have it All, but Can You Do it All? By author Jen Talty
Embrace Your Flaws by author Kate Wood
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Critiquing your manuscript the toddler way
One of the first phrases my daughter picked up was “bye bye” right along with “uh oh.” Both of these common toddler phrases can be applied to your manuscript. As I say often, it is amazing what you can learn from your toddler.
Sometimes it’s easy to get attached. I love all my fictional characters so much it is hard to know when to cut. They are my fictional children! But some simple and basic toddler sayings can hold great meaning for your manuscript.
You must know when you’ve made an “uh oh” and must say “bye bye” to a scene or a character. Don’t worry you can save it for yourself. My prologue has taken on many versions all of which I love for different reasons. They may not have worked for the story but they can live in my personal collection.
Think basic and simple. It is so easy to over think things. I know because I do it all the time!
Another thing I do is read my work to my toddler. I know she doesn’t fully comprehend the non-fictions I write, articles or my fiction work but reading outloud is a great way to critique your own work. And though my daughter doesn’t care or understand it, I do pay attention to how she reacts to the flow of my sentences. Understanding the tone and flow of your sentences may help a troublesome scene that was missing its correct tone. Reading to a child can help with that.
Has your child helped you with your manuscript?
I had some great opportunities to guest blog for some great author’s and friends last month.
The ever-changing writing process at author Colin Falconer’s blog
Finding Inspiration from Unlikely Sources at author Kristen Lamb’s blog
Being a flexibly, trained writer at author Rachel Harris’ blog
Woof Wednesday: Doggy assistant, excuse or both? At author Amy Shojai’s blog.
Who Dares Wins Publishing offers fantastic writing craft and industry Write it Forward Workshops. Be sure and check them all out here.