I'm ba-a-ack! And I'm happy to be! It was a great break, but I'm ready to return to blogland. I appreciate how supportive all of you were when I needed to take a step back to focus on my manuscript. Thank you!
So...how is everyone?! Do each of you have a cup of hot cocoa to sip while we sit and catch up? I'm looking forward to finding out what's been going on, how everyone is progressing, and what good news my bloggy friends may have!
I hope you all enjoyed the holidays! We did! The kids go back to school this week, but I wish they had another week of vacation. We didn't travel or anything, but it's been super nice having them around and staying up way too late together.
My latest? As planned, I kept my head down and focused on my WIP. I like getting to that point when I'm so immersed in the story, it simmers under everything I do. It's when I'll occasionally dream I'm working on my book, and I'll even cut and tweak pages in my sleep. Those edits aren't real--I never remember the cuts and tweaks--but I can feel the story with me, and it's ready to be jumped into at any given moment. This is when, while drifting to sleep or waking up, I sometimes resolve issues or discover problems in my plot.
I've made a ton of progress, but I can't say it's been "straight line progress," as in the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Even with an outline, I've made and am continuing to make my share of wrong turns. Thus, my progress has been somewhat serpentine. That's okay, though. I really do believe no writing is wasted, and sometimes you have to go the wrong way to figure out the right way. Overall, I'm quite pleased with how things have been going.
Other news (chronologically):
1. I'm in a new critique group, and I'm super excited about it. My new partners are Margaret Nevinski and Jennifer Mann. They're both SCBWI Western Washington friends, and they're both very talented.
My original critique group is coming to an end in February. Author Sheila Roberts, who has generously led us for almost six years, is stepping aside as our mentor. Our group has had an excellent run. Together we've grown as writers, and we've also grown lifelong friendships. Thank you, Sheila, Martha Schoemaker, Bev Young, and Sarah Shepard. It's been incredible learning with you and from you.
2. Our dog Thistle got his neck stuck in the fence while trying to rid our yard of squirrels. There were no injuries, though his pride may have been slightly dented.
3. Agent Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates spoke at SCBWI Western Washington's October Professional Series meeting. She really impressed me. Her talk, "The Psychology of Being Published and Staying Published," was full of wisdom and inspiration. I was fortunate because, in addition to hearing her speak at the meeting, I had a manuscript consultation with her. Ms. Olswanger is also a writer, and it showed in a great way. The consultation was very helpful--and fun!
4. As you all know, Nathan Bransford is no longer an agent. As Velma from Scooby-Doo might say, "Jinkies!" I'm happy he's continuing to blog and he's keeping his old posts up for us as a resource. I wish him the best with his new career.
5. Jennifer Mann was one of the speakers at SCBWI Western Washington's November Professional Series meeting. Jen is a writer and an illustrator, and her talk was fascinating. She blogged about it after the presentation. That Jen...she's a smarty-pants. (She's also a great roomie. We roomed together at the SCBWI conference in NYC last January.)
6. Pepper and Thistle turned six! Here they are on their birthday, watching our first snowfall this winter. (Actually, it was November, but snow = winter to me.)
7. Chester and friends had a population explosion, pretty much leaving us with a squirrel infestation (see #2). They are sooo cute! Here's a pic showing three squirrels on our squirrel feeder. That's a record for us, by the way.
8. Sheila Roberts's ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network. How cool is that?!
9. I got a Nook Color for Christmas! Wee-ha!
10. SOMETHING LIKE HOPE by Shawn Goodman (interview here) is now in bookstores. I'm buying my copy this week!
Now tell me your news!