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Posts from the ‘Kristine’ Category

Kristine: My Love Affair

When anyone asks me why I stay up until all hours of the night writing fiction when I could be sleeping or getting a number of domestic duties done around the house, I tell them it’s because (a) I have insomnia, (b) I hate cleaning just about as much as I hate exercising, and (c) I love it.

Yes, I have a love affair with my writing. I believe all writers do. It’s what keeps our butts in our chairs crafting scenes, wrestling with the demands of our characters, and spending an hour trying to think up the perfect metaphor for how our characters are feeling when we could be watching Dancing With The Stars or clipping grocery store coupons. (Okay, I do clip coupons—we’re still in a recession, after all.)

As any serious writer will tell you, building a career as a novelist is hard. It will break your heart most days. You can spend years on a project only to have it hidden in a drawer after having it rejected by every agent in the country.  You can go broke if you don’t have a supplemental form of income (i.e., a day job). You can read every how-to book and attend every workshop out there and still sit in front of a blank computer screen feeling lost.

So why do we do it? Why do we suffer through the frustration and the angst and the tears in pursuit of the cherished published novel boasting our byline on the cover?

It’s the dream of someday breaking through the barrier and emerging into the inner circle of published authors. It’s the hope that one day our words will reach the masses and make a difference, perhaps even change the world. It’s the feeling of having achieved our life’s mission—to write a novel and prove to ourselves that yes, we can do it and yes, we are good enough.

At least, that’s how it is for me.

I’m closing in on the last part of my rewrite on a book that has taken me two years so far to write. Yes, I could tackle the piles of laundry sitting in my basement or the dust balls hidden underneath the bed, but not yet. As with anyone involved with a love affair, I’m going to follow my heart, and my heart tells me that the only place I need to be at this moment is at my computer. Writing.

Kristine: Hope

As I’ve been working on my novel rewrite, I’m paying a lot of attention to theme. In doing so, I’ve been trying to pinpoint not only what my story is about on a deeper level but also what I believe a reader will be looking for when he/she picks up my book if and when it gets published. Coming up with that answer means looking at human nature. What do people want right now?

What I’ve found so far? People are looking for HOPE. A glimmer of light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel for far too long.

Even though my story deals with a traumatic event (the violent death of teenage girl), as I approach the ending, I’m finding that my story is not just about catching the bad guy. It sends a strong message (at least I hope it does) about achieving inner peace. What I want the reader to feel after reading my book is that even though bad things happen to all of us, some of them so bad we think we will never recover from them, there is always an opportunity to find redemption. It may not come in the way we want, but it will come. We just need to keep the faith.

It is very important to me to end this story on a positive note.  With all the bad news being thrown at us on a daily basis about the economy and state of the world, I think we all need a little bit of positive reassurance that life is still good. We can all get through whatever life throws at us if we stick together.
When I first started out writing, I was a hard-core fiction writer. I’ve dabbed in everything from amateur sleuth cozies to serial killer thrillers. I’ve written scenes so gory they gave me nightmares. I’ve read them in books, too. The more chills, the better.

Now, not so much. My reading tastes have changed dramatically lately. I want lighter, more meaningful stories. Not necessarily all-happy endings, but endings that leave me feeling, yes, hopeful.

There is a lot I can’t control in this world, and even though I’d love to do it, I can’t change the turmoil and uncertainty we all feel right now. But what I can do is entertain in a way that brings some light to someone who may be seeing nothing but darkness ahead. That is my mission and what I hope to accomplish in writing this book.

So I ask you, what do you look for when you open a book?

Kristine: Baby Steps…Literally

My daughter is learning how to walk. Over the weekend, she stood on her own, finally got her balance, and moved three steps before tumbling over. I was amazed. It was a major achievement in my eyes. My husband and I have been waiting for this milestone as she’s 16 months old and until this point showed no desire to move around unless she was crawling.

I showered her with cheers and kisses. My daughter, on the other hand, didn’t seem so thrilled about the whole thing. Actually, she got rather annoyed and didn’t feel like doing it again for the rest of the day. Every time I tried to walk with her, she’d get frustrated at her lack of balance and pull away. Isn’t that typical? She’s becoming more and more like her mother every day, I’m afraid.

My friends tell me these first steps mark the beginning of her true independence. Before long, she’ll be running out of the house to play with her friends, going to school and finding reasons to be away from me. Sigh. Okay, so maybe I’m happy with her crawling for a while longer.

So The Munchkin and I are learning our baby steps together. While she learns the courage to stand on her own feet, I’ll be learning to let her go…slowly, one step at a time.

Also, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and join Facebook. If I haven’t found you yet, let’s be friends!

Kristine: Spring Blues

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like spring around here. The temperature hit close to 70 degrees, and for the first time since last year, I had the windows open. The fresh air circulated throughout the rooms, giving my stale house a fresh, earthy scent. I abandoned my usual turtleneck and sweats for a T-shirt and lighter stretch pants. My daughter romped around the house in actual clothes as opposed to her winter sleepers. The warm weather felt wonderful, especially for the hour we got to go outside and enjoy it.

Okay, so here’s my confession. I’m not ready for spring yet, and I’m going into all of this with a lot of trepidation. Yes, it was a long, cold, snowy winter. Yes, we had more ice storms and record snow amounts than I remember experiencing in a few years. And yes, there was that one night in February when I cursed the winter months because I had to navigate on poorly treated, ice-covered roads—again—to get to the grocery store.

But I’m still a little bummed out that the season is over.  Maybe it’s my personality. I’m very much a homebody who loves snuggling in my warm fleece clothes with a hot cup of tea on a cold night, preferably with a good book. It’s also probably the writer in me. I’d much rather work on cloudy, rainy days than on hot, sunny ones. I love snow unless I have to drive in it. The ice, however, I can do without, thank you very much.

When I became a mom 15 months ago, these feelings only intensified, and I realize now that it’s not so much my avoidance of the warm weather fueling these negative feelings than my reluctance to let go of my little daughter, the fear of her growing up too fast. With each passing season, she gets older and that much closer to leaving the nest. That breaks my heart.

A December baby gave me permission to hibernate with my newborn daughter for a few months. We stayed in our pajamas all day (probably because I was trying to get sleep anywhere and anytime I could and couldn’t give up precious sleep time even getting dressed) and didn’t have to go anywhere except the pediatrician or the grocery store. I loved that cherished, focused time with my daughter. I had that time with her again this year, but I know I’ve only got maybe another year or two left before it all disappears.

So while most people are busting open the doors to cure cabin fever, I’m hoping to close the door to my cabin for a little while longer.

Kristine: A Question of Identity

A few months ago, I found an old high school friend online, someone I haven’t seen or talked to since the summer after we graduated. To be honest, I never thought I’d connect with this person again, but the power of the Internet proved me wrong. It was a weird encounter and one that sort of sparked an identity crisis within me.

My friend had endured physical hardships but came through those hardships with amazing strength, accomplishing things that literally took my breath away. When I was asked what I’d done since high school, everything I said paled in comparison.

Not that I haven’t accomplished a lot. I have a college degree. I’ve done well in my field and professional life. I have a great husband and beautiful daughter. I live in a comfortable home. On most days, I’m extremely happy with my life.

So why did I freeze when the subject of my writing came up?

To say that I was “still working” on becoming a novelist after almost 17 years sounded…well, amateurish. When I thought about reconnecting with my high school friends, especially this one in particular, I dreamed about being able to proclaim that I’d achieved my goal and was a published novelist. But I couldn’t say that, and it made me feel like I’d failed in the one thing I was so passionate about all during high school.

Talking to my old friend was motivating in a strange way. The conversation pushed me to work even harder to finish my novel and jumpstart my career. If my friend could overcome enormous odds and accomplish so much, there were no more excuses for me.

Turns out my “kick in the pants” came from a “blast from the past.”

Kristine: Cautiously Optimistic

As a work-at-home mom, it seems I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Perhaps it’s the unpredictability of my life and the result of wearing too many hats during the course of a day—wife, mommy, housekeeper, writer, and editor. When one of those hats fall, it sends my whole routine and day into havoc.

When I think I have time to open my e-mail or catch up on my favorite blogs, my daughter wakes up unusually early from her nap. When I think all my editing work for the day is done, I get a frantic call from the magazine publisher on our ship date telling me I need to find enough editorial to fill a half-page of space after an advertiser dropped out at the last minute. When I think I have two hours of uninterrupted time at night to work on my novel, my computer crashes, and I have to spend my precious writing time trying to figure out the problem.

I wake up each morning with one goal. I strive to be “cautiously optimistic.” It’s the motto for my entire life, actually. I’m optimistic that things will go as planned but cautious about getting too complacent. If something goes wrong, I try to be ready for it. If nothing goes wrong, I’m pleasantly surprised.

Sometimes being cautiously optimistic is the only way I’m able to function without having a nervous breakdown. It’s also the way I’m able to smile at my 11-month-old daughter when she refuses to take a nap and I’m on deadline.

I still groan and grumble when that dark cloud appears, and there are some days when even the most optimistic thinking gets me nowhere. The only remedy for those days is the emergency stash of chocolate.

Kristine: Hurry Up And Wait

When I quit my job to work at home as a freelance writer, I did so with much trepidation. It was a huge risk. While we had the security of my husband’s paycheck to sustain us, the loss of my full-time salary did made a dent in our financial situation. For three months, I didn’t bring any money in. I sent out resumes and approached potential clients with the hope that something would come in. Thankfully it did. My leap of faith turned out to be the best decision I ever made in my life, and I’m grateful for every day that I’m able to do the work that I do.

I attribute my success in launching my freelance career to two things: determination and patience. The determination part was easy. My desire to work at home was so intense that I was willing to sacrifice a lot in order to get there. The patience part didn’t come so easily, and it still doesn’t.

I read a book several years ago called ROMANCING THE ORDINARY by Sarah Ban Breathnach. In fact, I liked it so much that it still resides on my bookshelf. One of the chapters has special meaning to me because it has to do with the concept of waiting, a skill I don’t perform very well. Several sentences in the chapter were particularly insightful.

Waiting is not punishment, bad karma, or lousy luck, although at any wretched moment while you are waiting it feels that way. The truth is that waiting is when the magic happens. Waiting is the mystical space between the dreaming and its coming true. Uncertainty, not waiting, is the enemy.

It seems as if I’m always waiting for something or someone. Waiting for artwork or text to come in from columnists to meet my deadline. Waiting for the doctor to call me back about my daughter’s blood work results. Waiting for the scale to move back ten pounds. Waiting for the day when I can finally declare that I’ve finished my novel.

I guess it’s true that good things come to those who wait. I mean, we all waited nine months for our darling babies to be born and look how that turned out, right? ☺

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