The Novel: Which Novel?

So…I kind of have a reputation for being a starter and not a finisher, especially when it comes to writing. I lack the ability to resist the next bright, shiny thing. I have a lot of ideas that I get excited about, and I have a hard time sticking with previous projects, making revisions, and god forbid actually going through the slog of submissions. I realize that this is foolish because I have a lot of great stories that I should attempt to put out into the world, but this is just the way I am.

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Where Have I Been?

It’s been awfully quiet here on Jen Seriously for the last two months. What gives?

The simple answer is that I’ve been trying to prioritize my time better. Without any real responsibilities or obligations outside my full time job, I have plenty of free time, but I do a lot with that time and have a lot of hobbies, interests, and personal goals. Trying to balance each of them so I feel like I’m maximizing my life, making time for what makes me happy, and working toward specific plans I have for my future isn’t easy. At the time this posts, I’ll be driving back to Boulder from a week-long trip to the mountains in southwest Colorado. It was my unofficial end-of-summer last hurrah, and now it’s time to get down to business (although I’m secretly hoping the weather cooperates for at least two more camping weekends). Continue reading →

The Novel: Which Critiques (Don’t) Matter

I now have a complete manuscript of my debut novel, a contemporary young adult story. Complete, of course, means that I still have another full edit to do over the summer…and then probably another one after I start to query in the fall. My first task is to incorporate the remaining comments I have from the Lighthouse critique group I’ve been going to since October. This group has been invaluable in pointing out legitimate plot holes, helping me understand reader reactions, and getting me unstuck when I couldn’t seem to move forward. I never would have finished without my peers and especially without the facilitator. In addition, some of us branched off into our own writing group, which helps me continue to find motivation through dedicated writing time and having people to bounce ideas off whose opinions I value and who know my story.  Continue reading →

Turning 40: 40 Years in 40 Sentences

What sets me apart from most people in my life is that I was alive when Jimmy Carter was president. Then, when I was one, Ronald Reagan took office and we moved into the house my Republican parents live in to this day. I began a lifelong love of reading in that house by going through my father’s electronics catalogs and attempting to read the descriptions of the latest eight track and Betamax players.  Continue reading →

Turning 40: Why I Write

At three days away from turning 40 years old, I haven’t been published, and yet I continue to write and call myself a writer. I’m not published because I haven’t ever submitted anywhere or queried an agent. Sure, I’d like to be published some day, but that’s never really been the point for me. The effort required to submit to agents and magazines and to market my work seems like it would sap all the fun out of writing. For me, the point is the process itself. I write because I have to. I have to explore ideas on paper and play with words and get creative. I’ve loved the written word since I was very, very little. Even though writing is an intrinsic part of me and a huge piece of my identity, it hasn’t always come easy. I took a nearly two-decade hiatus from creative writing, something I regret now even though I know I can only look forward. I did this exercise—a history of me as a writer in ten chapters—as part of a class I took and thought this would be a great time to share it on my blog.  Continue reading →

Turning 40: Lists, Part 2

Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s. These lists are more random, while yesterday’s were more about who I am as a person.

Things I’ve Quit Because My Ego is Too Big

  • Girl Scouts in second grade because I wasn’t voted president
  • 4-H Club in third grade because I wasn’t voted president
  • Flute in fourth grade because I didn’t get first chair
  • Softball in elementary school because I didn’t like my position in the batting order
  • Musicals in high school because a new girl joined our school and was a better singer than me so she got the lead my freshman year instead of me
  • Plays in college because no one wanted to cast me in a lead role my first semester
  • Gettysburg College because I didn’t instantly have a massive group of friends who thought I was awesome
  • Many, many jobs because I didn’t get to do exactly what I wanted and thought was best

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The Novel: To Query or Not to Query

As this entry posts to my blog, I am wrapping up my third year at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers retreat. This is a wonderful annual event held at a Franciscan Retreat Center in Colorado Springs. The center is in the perfect location, easily accessible from Boulder but far enough that I really do feel like I am getting away. The mountains are all around, making a quick hike or trail run easy to fit in between stints of writing in one of the quiet, cozy nooks of the residence hall. It is remarkably inexpensive but the rooms are so comfortable and they feed us three delicious meals a day.

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Sanctuary 2.0: Surrounded by the Best People

No, I’m not a Trump fan! Far from it. The Trump administration does not have the best people, but Boulder does. Prior to last week’s post, it had been a while since I posted about living in Boulder. But since my company is not moving to Broomfield (yuuuuuge sigh of relief!) and I’m staying in my adorable rental house another year, I thought I’d do a shout out post to a couple of local businesses who provide excellent customer service and make living in the People’s Republic of Boulder so awesome.

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The Novel: Half A Novel And Proud of It

I’m back from an intense month of novel writing.

How did I do on the distraction front?

  • I only logged in to Facebook three times, and each time was for a specific purpose, such as updating my notification settings to stop getting text messages from Facebook about photos my friends were posting. They were trying hard to lure me back in after I was off the site for a few weeks, but I resisted. It actually wasn’t that hard to stay off Facebook…until the last few days. Then I started fiending. I’m so embarrassed to admit that.
  • I was on Twitter about every four days, scrolling aimlessly. This is more than usual, so clearly I was using it as a substitute for Facebook. However, with Twitter, I tend to scroll through my feed for 5-10 minutes, get bored, and shut it down. With Facebook, I can waste hours clicking on links, looking at groups, looking at friends’ profiles, etc. Twitter is a good substitute, for sure.
  • I scrolled through my blog reading list about once a week. I started writing this post on November 25. But as soon as I started writing it, I wanted to (and did) start working on other posts as well. And I started working on a short story. I basically didn’t touch my novel the whole last week of November. But it felt great to be writing something different.
  • I deleted one of my dating profiles and mostly used the other dating apps only to respond to people who messaged me. I wasted my own time actively scrolling through profiles once a week, so briefly each time. I went out on four dates.
  • I cancelled my Netflix account. This wasn’t in the plan, but I realized that I hadn’t used it in almost two months, so why bother keeping it? It has often been a distraction in the past. The temptation to binge can be strong.

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NaNoWriMo

Today is November 1st and that means National Novel Writing Month. I signed up two years ago and didn’t get very far, but this year, I’m all in. I went to two Boulder region kick off parties, I have eleven write-ins on my calendar, and for the past eight weeks, I’ve started attending the Friday 500 and my biweekly Saturday writers group again. Plus, I’m simultaneously signed up for a novel workshop, which started two weeks ago, so I have to submit pages for that for critique. I am firmly in writing mode and have no excuses to not have a draft completed on November 30.

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