The Road to You-Know-Where

pexels-photo (2)I had all sorts of good intentions here, but first, I feel like a mini-rant is in order. And it goes sort of like this:

Why does technology have to constantly change? I mean, I no sooner figure out something with…well, off the top of my head, we’ll just say WordPress…when WordPress up and changes things and I have to figure it out all over again.

But I don’t have to pick only on WordPress. It could just as easily be Google Docs or Blogger or my email or my fancy-schmancy phone. I’m all for progress, but honestly, there are days when I feel that there’s a guy (or a girl, no need to be sexist in this rant) sitting at a computer somewhere saying, “Oh, look, there’s Cathy C. Hall thinking she has quite the handle on things. Let’s just tweak this here and see what she does!”

Ugh.

Anyway, here’s hoping all had a very happy Easter! I was chin deep in singing for a couple of days so I completely forgot to let y’all know about my recycling ideas over at The Muffin in my post, “Come on, Writers, R-E-C-Y-C-L-E, Recycle!” (And P.S. you do not want to miss that song from Rocko’s Modern Life!)

And I wanted to share about a funny book I’m reading but that would require extra skills that I haven’t quite figured out yet, and so to that guy (or girl) sitting at her computer, tweaking random bits of technology to annoy Cathy C. Hall, I’m ready to let you know what I’ll do.

I’m taking a nap.

I Have a Really Good Excuse

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It started when the county chopped down my favorite half pink, half white dogwood.

It’s the end of March and I know that means it’s time to report on my month’s doings (or not doings, as the case may be). But really, I have a good excuse for this month’s slacking off. Come to think of it, I have several good excuses.

As I mentioned above, there was the whole tree cutting debacle. The county is widening a main road up the street from me and it was bad enough when they took out enough pines to build a small village of log houses. But The Special Dogwood that makes me smile every time I pass its blooming March splendor (and I pass it a lot)? How could I be expected to write through such a blatant disregard for my tree?

Then I had that SCBWI conference, and there’s a ton of stuff to get done before a conference, right? Totally legit excuse for not getting the writing going.

And then I also had a reception in Athens at the Georgia Children’s Book Awards and Conference. Not for my books; SCBWI was there to promote our regional authors, the ones who like to network and get those school visits. Also a totally legit excuse because there was also a lot of stuff to get done before the reception.

I did manage to get several books read even though I had that very bad, horrible, no good cold (also a legit excuse for lollygagging, by the way). Let’s see, I think the total read was five, so I’m still a couple of books ahead on my Goodreads goal. I had to wait two months to get Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir by J. D. Vance, but it was well worth the wait and my good read pick of the month.

I got fired up about a picture book idea after the conference and I’ve written a rough first draft so there’s that. And I managed a couple of blog posts, too. Which brings me to today’s post over at The Muffin where I talk about “When You Don’t Want To Write.”

March was…challenging, remembering how the Beneficent Mr. Hall was so great about shoring me up during the March conference craziness. But sometimes, just when you think you want to throw in the towel, someone comes along.

So a big thank you to Lovely Lisa for a long lunch. And for being there, just when I needed shoring up. I can highly recommend long, long lunches with a writer friend for those times when you need a good excuse for whatever ails you.

And here’s hoping your March was delightfully full of words and writer wisdom; I’d love to hear all about it. It also shores me up when I hear about my writer friends’ successes (and yeah, I could use some fall back good excuses, too, just in case April slaps me upside the head. The county is not nearly done).

Cathy-on-a-Stick Makes a Comeback

So I could tell you all about the amazing bits of writer wisdom I sucked up from all the amazing speakers at the SCBWI conference I just attended.

Or I could direct you to the Muffin where I expounded on some of my best “After the Conference” tips and advice (and I’d love to hear yours, too).

But what I really want to dish about is this pic:

Mitchard and MacLachlan

And yes, that IS the New York Times best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard AND the Newbery award winner (for Sara Plain and Tall) Patricial MacLachlan. And yes, that’s Cathy-on-a-Stick right in the middle of ’em.

First, let me just say this: if you ever have an opportunity to hear either of these women, you must go. And I mean, run, don’t walk, to whatever venue they’re appearing. Because both of these glorious women–authors, moms, business persons–are simply two of the smartest, wittiest, warmest and honest women I’ve ever met.

And here’s the conversation we had about Cathy-on-a-Stick after they signed my books:

Me: Can I get a picture of y’all with Cathy-on-a-Stick?

PM (who is nearly blind so could not see details of what I was holding): What is that?

JM takes C-o-a-S.

Me: It’s just a picture of me, on a stick.

PM: Well, that’s stupid. (Or did she say silly? Ridiculous? It doesn’t matter. It was clear she thought it was stupid. And I had to agree with her. )

JM. No, it’s not. I think it’s pretty clever. (Or did she say cute? Whichever, it was clear she thought Cathy-on-a-Stick was funny. And I agree with that as well.)

PM shrugs. I tell her that Jane Yolen had the same reaction but she was a good sport about it. PM does not seem too impressed but she was not going to let Jane Yolen one up her.

JM: Take the picture!

And so now I have this wonderful picture and I laugh every time I look at it, thinking of Patricia MacLachlan dissing Cathy-on-a-Stick and Jacquelyn Mitchard coming to my pic-on-a-stick’s defense.

Oh my word, I do so love an SCBWI writer’s conference!

 

February Wrap Up

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Libs in the office, watching me “work.”

You know, there’s something a tiny bit intimidating about an end-of-the-month wrap up. Or should I say knowing that your end-of-the-month wrap up is coming?

I mean, it’s bad enough if you don’t accomplish much, but blowing off the accountability report is like, Dang, Cathy, how lackadaisical can you get? So I knew the Day of Reckoning was coming and I’m not gonna lie. It motivated me.

The Good:

I read seven books this month! Full Disclosure: Several were short books by Patricia MacLachlan, but a couple of them were longer, the ones by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Both authors will be at the SCBWI Springmingle Conference coming up in a few weeks and I like to read books by people who are presenting. I want to know their style, yes, but I also think it just makes an author happy when you can say you’ve read their books. And really, I don’t think it matters if the author is a New York best-selling author like Mitchard, or a Newbery Award winner like MacLachlan, or a debut author who’s launching her first book. So I read a bunch of books and now–whee!–I’m three books ahead of my Goodreads goal. Which is a good thing as March is looking pretty busy.

I wrote up an article and sent it out and sold it! It could be a while before it’s published, but still. I sent something out into the world and received an acceptance. So yay me!

I also sent my manuscript out into the world (to an indie editor) because I’d come to that proverbial spot between a rock and a hard place. (You can read more about indie editors at The Muffin with my “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Writing Superhero!”) Which leads me to the not-so-good, otherwise known as …

The Bad:

I received the most amazingly detailed and insightful editorial letter re: my latest middle grade manuscript and…I haven’t quite finished digesting all of it. In point of fact, I need to figure out what and how to revise and so far, I’m stuck between thinking and figuring it out. I’m all for letting things sit for a while while you ponder the problems but I just can’t seem to move on to actually…well, writing. Any motivational thoughts from those of you who have found yourself in that No Writer’s Land would be swell.

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Even Libs is wore out with this project!

The Ugly:

I spent a ridiculous number of hours working on an SCBWI project that should’ve taken me about what? Two hours, tops? First, it involved design so I had to remember how to do all that, and second, it involved color printing and my color inkjet ran out on my practice sheets. And then once I finally got everything ready and pushed the Print button, the lovely pages came out completely hinky.

I am still not finished with this project. Ugh.

 

So how about you, dear writer friends? It’s your Day of Reckoning, too, and I’d love to cheer or commiserate, your choice, on this last day of February.

 

Tooting My Horn After All

I’m over at The Muffin today, talking about how hard it is for writers to promote themselves.

Honestly, one of the reasons I like writing for a Korean publisher is that I don’t have to do any marketing. I mean, I guess if I went over to Korea, they’d expect me to do something. But here, even though I live in a community with a vibrant Korean population, it’s too costly to do book signings or other promotions.

For other projects, I’ll run a Tooting My Horn post and that’s a bit of promotion, right? All out marketing is a little more challenging for me because…well, you can read “Writer, Promote Thyself” and see if you struggle with the same promotion anxiety. And maybe share your thoughts on marketing?

201612_bigpulp_annual-793x1225But you know what all this talk about marketing has reminded me of? My story, Mary Beth’s Prophecy, appears in Big Pulp’s annual anthology. For cryin’ out loud, I almost forgot all about it–and I love that fun story! So yeah, why not check it out? Because it’s not just me…there are a TON of wonderful stories from 2016! (There! A bit of promotion for me and all those other writers!)