Swept Up is done-I think.  There’s the awkward right there:  I think it’s done.  The beta readers have spoken.  They love it, there were just a couple parts that needed some fleshing out.  I’ve fleshed, reworked, and smoothed the rough spots.  Now it’s just sitting in my computer waiting to make it’s way into my editor’s hands.  Meanwhile I should move on…

I started drafting my second novel in early December.  I love this project, I think about it all the time, but for some reason I’m unable to really dig in.  You see, I’m a finisher.   I don’t start a new book until the last page has been turned in the one I’m currently reading.  This seems to be carrying over into my writing.  Swept Up is as done as it can be right now, but it’s not OUT THERE yet.  I worry I should be doing something with it, checking it one more time to make sure it’s the absolute best it can be before Angi sees it.  However, I’m in that dicey place where too much tinkering will wreck it.  I stress about if I get involved in my new manuscript, I will overlook something in my first one.  So, I will just sit here and be awkward for a couple more weeks, putting words in my journal, reading, praying that Swept Up is as awesome as I think it is.

Back to Basics 2014

For some reason this year end post is not coming together.  This is the third time I’ve written it.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’m exhausted from Christmas fun or I’m just in a different state of mind.  Since my writing plan for 2014 is to return to the basics, really dive into working on my craft and not getting overwhelmed by the rules of self-publishing and all of that, I am posting a list of things I’m going to do and some resources that inspired this list.

1. Re-read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

2. Remember even if I never get paid for my work, it’s still worth doing.  Writing is my passion.  I’ve been telling stories my entire life.  I can’t stop now.  Thanks for the reminder, Hugh Howey.

3. Words on a page, any page, count as writing.  It’s okay to leave the laptop at home and spend vacation time simply journaling.  There is something about a pen on real paper that restores my creativity.

4. Work on my stress management.  I’m starting my year out by taking Sandra Pawula’s Living With Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress e-course.

My hope for this time next year is to be celebrating two published novels, or be very close to that goal.  I have finally been able to embrace my writing career and I cannot wait to see what it holds!  I realized in the latter part of 2013 that staying calm, managing my stress, and being true to myself allows my creativity and productivity to soar.  I look forward to applying those principles in the upcoming year.

Sending Out My Baby and What’s Next

I finished the first draft of Swept Up about a month ago.  Then I dove right into the editing process.  Some people call this entering the revision cave.  I’d hoped to have first round edits complete by December 1, but with Thanksgiving and other life crazies it took me an extra ten days.   The process was intense, but very satisfying.  I got to know my characters on a whole new level and the story really fleshed out.   Last night I pressed send releasing my baby to seven trusted beta readers.  Now I wait while they decide if this piece has what it takes to fly.

Releasing my manuscript doesn’t mean I’m just sitting around the house waiting to hear back from my readers.  I have a whole list of writerly things to do.  I’m in the process of putting together an interview with my editor, Angi Black.  I can’t wait for you all to meet her.  She hasn’t even seen my manuscript yet, but she’s already become a cheerleader/therapist as I go through this process for the first time.  I also have a holiday themed Quick Fix Story rattling around in my head, so stay tuned for that.

In between making my own words, I’m planning to settle in with some Christmas stories.  At the moment, I have Shanna Hatfield’s Christmas Cowboy queued up on my kindle.  Debbie Macomber’s Starry Night: A Christmas Novel is on deck.  I hope you all take some time to pour a glass of wine or hot chocolate, snuggle in a warm blanket, and read a good book during this cozy season.


Grateful for My Writing Tribe

This week promises to be chaotic for me.  C is out of school all week for Thanksgiving.  Even though we aren’t traveling and plan to keep the celebration low key with just a few close friends, I feel overwhelmed.  I love having the extra time with my daughter, but my stomach hurt before bed last night wondering how I was going to do it all: entertain her, clean the house, errands, and make progress on the novel’s edits.

My Spark and Tinder group has been focusing on the word priority this month.  Knowing this week would be nutty, last Friday I decided I would skip a blog post so I could devote all my work time to the book.  That helped my stress some.  Then I got up this morning and put on an EntreLeasdership podcast with Dave Ramsey and Seth Godin while I cleaned the kitchen.  They got to talking about generosity in business, which made me start thinking about all the kind and generous souls I have met in the writing world this last year.  I knew right then I had to write this post.

When I decided to indie publish my work, I stepped into the deep end of a pool.  The idea seemed so simple until I really delved into it.   Because someone said I needed to, I started a twitter account.  Slowly I made friends, read their books, and started asking questions.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  In many industries new faces mean more competition.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover the writing community to be open and excited to help.  So, I’m going to use my little corner of the Internet to thank the people who took time out of their busy lives to answer my constant questions with patience and grace, allowed me a little time on their blog, and those who jump in the writing trenches with me to keep me motivated and encouraged.  I am truly grateful for you all.  Thank you!

Angi Black

Leigh Ann Kopans

J. Elizabeth Hill

Courtney Carver

Hugh Howey

Robert Wall

Elayne Griffith

Simone Linke

Jason Cantrell

Von Malcolm

Skye Fairwin


Tim Oliver

Maria Mora


Quick Check-In: Some Firsts

Hello, friends!  Popping in real quick to say I’ve been buried in finishing the first draft of Swept Up.  Whoops!  There it is…the title of my first novel.  I’m hoping the first draft will be complete by November 25, then it will be time to crawl into the infamous revision cave.  I hit 50,000 words on Tuesday and had a mini celebration before I plowed forward toward the real finish line.

One of the tools I’m using to keep my momentum going is NaNoWriMo.  I mentioned this a few posts back, but at the time I wasn’t planning to participate.  Shortly afterward, Stefan Bolz asked me to be one of his writing buddies during NaNo.  His invitation felt like such an honor, I hated to pass it up.  The opportunity to work alongside authors who have done exactly what I’m doing made me a little giddy–I’m less giddy now that we’re all in the trenches working away.  Knowing I didn’t want to start something new when I was so close to finishing Swept Up (hee, hee, I said it again), I decided to participate as a rebel.  Turns out a lot of people do.  Anyway, committing to NaNo got me intensely focused.  I figured out how many words per day I needed to write in order to hit my target of 65,000.  The answer was 870.  So, since November 1, no matter what is going on, at some point I sit my butt down and churn out my requirement plus some.  I don’t know if the story will play out at exactly 65,000, but it’s good to have a general goal.  Stay tuned for more progress updates.

I had another first last week: my first blog interview!  Elayne Griffith was kind enough to invite me into her blog space to answer a few questions.  Thanks for the opportunity, Elayne!

Yesterday brought a really fun first, but I will reveal that later…  So, for now, it’s back to Scrivener and the final words of Swept Up.

Proud Mama

This year C is in second grade, and her reading abilities have skyrocketed.  In first grade she required Title 1 help, but this year she is completely caught up–I’ll find out at conference next week if she’s ahead or not.  She is exploring books in a whole new way.  Unlike me, she loves nonfiction.  If there is something that interests her, she wants to read about it.  On the other hand, she likes a good story, especially if it has some whimsy.

Yesterday was library day at school, but she didn’t have enough time to find a book she really wanted to read.  She grabbed a drawing book–she’s my little artist–but was frustrated that she didn’t have a chapter book.  So, after school we traipsed down to the public library.  We spent an hour reading together and finding just the right book for her to read on her own, and one for me to read to her.  When it was time to check out, she asked me if she could have her own library card.  I almost got a little misty.  My baby wanted her own library card!  Let me just say, she was glowing as the librarian, a young man with funky glasses and impressive tattoo sleeves, got her all set up and put the books on her card.

As we drove home, I got to thinking about the books she has really been into this fall.  Some are surprising to me, others not so much, so I thought I would share what my seven-year-old likes in case it provides some ideas to spark your child’s reading.  I plan to do this from time to time, so keep an eye on my book review page.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon: A beautiful picture book about a baby fruit bat who is raised by a mother bird, and how she discovers what she really is and how she connects with the creatures in her world.

The Ramona Collection by Beverly Cleary: These were favorites when I was in elementary school, and I am so excited that C loves them now.  Ramona is a timeless character that kids and adults can relate to.

Daisy Meadows’s Fairy Books: Full of whimsy and girly fun. Kirsty and Rachel make friends with fairies and help them keep colors, holidays, and pets in line in the human and fairy worlds.

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park: This sassy kid cracks up our whole family. I’m a little sad that C is reading these on her own now. They are great read alouds.

This is just a small sampling of what she’s reading these days. I’ll be sure to mention any noteworthy ones in the future!

A Day to Remember

“Memories have the power to both remind, refocus, and renew us.” Chris Hogan

Twelve years ago I woke to a gorgeous, early fall day.  I got in my old Ford Tempo–the one I bought my senior year in high school–and set out to my new job in Moscow, Idaho.  I was taking a break from college, re-evaluating my life, and it was already clear to me that being a receptionist in a small law firm was not going to be a long term option for me.  Only a few months in, and I was bored.

I flicked on the radio hoping some upbeat tunes would get me revved for another mind numbing day.  Instead, I got the news.  It took me a few moments to realize this wasn’t the usual ninety second update I listened to each morning between witty D.J. chatter and my favorite country songs.  This was breaking news.  The announcer kept speaking these incomprehensible sentences about towers being hit by planes.  I’d lived on the west side of the country my whole life, much of it out in the sticks on a beef ranch.  I had no idea what the World Trade Center was, but my ears perked up when he said the Pentagon had also been struck by a plane.  Not long after that, another plane skidded to a stop in a field.  What in the world was going on?  It was just to crazy to latch onto.

As I searched for an elusive downtown parking spot, I remembered my grandparents were somewhere on the East Coast.  Grandma had always dreamed of experiencing the famous fall colors, so they had driven their motor home across the country.  I was pretty sure the last I had heard, they were headed for New York.

Cold panic filled my stomach and my chest constricted with fear as I wiggled the Tempo into a barely big enough space.  That was the year I learned to parallel park.  I didn’t want to be crying when I entered the old house turned legal office, but I’d been holding the tears back while behind the wheel.  They were sliding freely from my eyes as I turned the front doorknob.

“Your mom is on the phone,” one of the legal secretaries said when she saw me.

I rattled off a quick explanation for her calling me at work, as if these people had no idea what was going on thousands of miles away.  When I picked up the phone, Mom told me my grandparents were safe–not even near New York City.  You see, when you have never been anywhere, you kind of just think the state of New York is New York City.

The morning passed in a blur.  I’m sure I copied, filed, transcribed dictation, and took calls.  It all seemed so meaningless.  Finally my lunch break rolled around, and I retreated to the empty conference room at the back of the house–formerly a dining room.

The television was on, and I forced myself to nibble at the food I’d packed at home.  All I wanted at that moment was to hide away with my husband in our cozy apartment.  Things would be all right there.  Images of air hazy with dust and battered people crossed the screen.  At one point the camera landed on a man crawling on his hands and knees.  His face was grimy, his suit a mess, but I could tell that hours before he’d been polished up for a day at the office.  He crawled beside a car, a small bit of shelter a midst the chaos and threw up.  I got up and switched off the TV.  I couldn’t take anymore.

A lot has changed in my life in the last twelve years.  I went back to school full-time less than a year after the events on September 11.  I had gained a lot of perspective that day.  I finished my degree.  Brett and I bought a house and had a daughter.  We have lived purposely each and every day, working toward our dreams.  Today I’m blessed to be home doing my dream job: raising our daughter and making a living as a writer.

I’m not the only one who has moved forward.  This country pulled together in a way I had never witnessed after 9/11, and has several times since.  We have fought wars and slogged our way through tough economic times, but despite life’s challenges America has still continued to thrive.  One nation, under God truly is indivisible, and there will be justice for all.

Checking In: Mid Summer

Yikes!  The weeks have just slid by this summer, and I have really neglected my little corner of the Internet universe.  What have I been doing?

Well, I’ve been focusing my writing energy on a novella that is currently with my copy editor.  Once I get it back from her, I will make the final revisions before I submit it to a publisher.  What?  Miss I’m Going to Self-Publish is going traditional? Not completely.  After having some very enlightening conversations with some seasoned indie writers, I have discovered that doing things on your own isn’t exactly free.  So, I decided to see what I can do with the traditional route first.  Who knows, maybe I will be the next Hugh Howey hybrid.  I just want to get my stories out into the world, and there is no one “correct” path to make that happen.  What is right for one writer today, may not be the way for her the next time around.  I’m leaving my options open.

When I haven’t been writing, I have been doing plenty of summer reading.  This afternoon I finished All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue.  I can’t begin to say how much I loved this book.  Each of the characters resonated with some part of me.  Add that to the ideal beach setting, and voila, awesome summer read.  Pick up a copy NOW!

My next book will be my advance reader copy of Possession by J. Elizabeth Hill.  It is the sequel to her debut novel, Bound.  You can read my review of Bound here. Watch for my thoughts on Possession on Good Reads and later on back here at Kayla Dawn Writes.  I have an extra special surprise for my followers coming in later August.

My summer hasn’t been all about my literary endeavors.  My daughter, C, and I have enjoyed some hot afternoons at the city pool and lazy days in front of a box fan.  She learned to play Monopoly this summer and is quite the real estate tycoon.  There have been play dates, workouts, and a lemonade stand.  She keeps me hopping.  I’ve also had some good times with my adult friends and cold beverages.  If you haven’t put your feet up with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc, I encourage you to do so.  In my opinion there is nothing better on hot summer day.

Hope you all are having a great summer.  You can follow me on Facebook or on Twitter.  I update those places much more frequently.  Feel free to let me know what you are up to!  Cheers!

Quick Hello

It’s cold and rainy on the Palouse this morning.  I had to turn the heat back on and am snuggled in my bed waiting for it to kick in.  I’ve been neglecting the blog for the last couple of weeks, so I figured I should stop by and say hello.

Writing is going well, I think.  I’ve been doing a lot of it anyway.  Getting a manuscript first draft done by the beginning of August is my goal, so I have really dug in and made that my focus.  Thus, my absence on the blog.  However, I have been updating my Facebook page and Twitter account almost daily with random thoughts and writing progress.  Go ahead and check those out if you really want to stay in my crazy loop.  It’s good for a giggle anyway.  The last couple of days I have looked like this:

beaker7 I’ve been reworking some details in the fairy tale I’m spinning.  It’s required some math and research.  There is a very good possibility it could turn into a series.  Stay tuned, friends!

Checking In

There is nothing more annoying than discovering a blog you love only to find it is never updated.  I am trying not to be that blogger, so when I hit a dry spell I will post a “checking in” piece.

Last week I spoke with Courtney Carver at Be More With Less.  I was struggling with finding time for my writing and the confidence to label it as a job since it isn’t currently paying any bills.  Courtney gave me a fantastic pep talk and even used our conversation for a wonderful post about the importance of making time for our creative work.

After Courtney got me revved up and raring  to go, I put my nose to the novel grindstone.  I have been moving forward on a new piece in a genre I never saw myself writing.  YA Fantasy.  However, the words have been pouring out of me, so I think I’m on the right track.  I will share more about this story in another post.

I have also been devoting more time to reading.  Awesome books have always driven my desire to write.  The more I read, the more inspired I become.  I have realized that reading is essential to my work as a writer.  Stay tuned for more book reviews.

Until next time…