Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Happy Ending

I made real changes in 2015. 

I gave my notice at work in January, telling them that I'd finish out the school year and that I'd be willing to sub for whomever they hired. I loved my teaching job, but it was time to quit. 

I also signed up for a membership with Julie Hedlund's 12x12 in January. 

I have this driving need to write picture books, so I thought I'd better do something with it.  Writing a couple of new picture book stories a year just wasn't helping me master the craft. Julie's challenge to write 12 new picture books in 12 months was exactly what I needed. I wrote them. I revised over and over and over again. I went from getting no response or a form response to my queries to getting compliments from agents. The last half of the year, I stopped querying to just focus on my craft because I could see my writing improving. I even wrote a few rhyming manuscripts, something I haven't managed in over five years. Poems and rhyming picture books are different art forms.

In February, I used Scrivener to revise my MG space opera. I'm still not an expert at using the new software, but after many years of using MS Word, I wouldn't say I know everything about Word, either. I'm like the software, and I'll use it again. I might even be good at it someday. :o)

In March, I had an unexpected conversation with an agent at Writing for Charity. She'd written out a page and a half of fantastic notes for my picture book manuscript, and I went into our session thinking that we'd be discussing picture books. She steered the conversation around to my novels, specifically the YA fantasy that I hadn't touched in almost a year. By the end of our conversation, I knew how to revise it, and she asked me to please send it to her when I finished. Then she sat by me at dinner, and we discussed picture books. I actually met with two agents at Writing for Charity. I wasn't impressed with the second one. It was a valuable experience for me because now I know what I'm looking for in an agent. 

I didn't finish that beastly revision of my YA fantasy until November, but I DID finish it. It isn't ready for agent eyes yet. I did the heavy lifting, and I'll fine tune it in 2016.

Meanwhile, I'm revising the space opera again. Going back to a story after months away makes it so much easier to see what it needs.

Looking back over the year, quitting my job was exactly what I needed. I'm still helping out at the preschool. Next week, I'm subbing for the teacher all week. But quitting that job allowed me to change my focus. I made a lot more progress the second half of the year than I did the first six months.

By the middle of the year, I'd started joking with my husband that I was having a mid-life crisis. Quietly. I'm a quiet sort of person. I told him that I'd rather come out of it with a weight set than a new car, and he played along. He even bought some of the weights and started lifting them with me. Exercising regularly and eating better has done more to combat my insomnia, anxiety, and depression than anything else I've tried. Sleep is my new friend.

If you're interested, I'm following the program outlined in BODY FOR LIFE, by Bill Phillips. The workouts aren't very long. I'm alternating an intense 20 minute aerobic workout with weight lifting for six days a week. You don't have to count calories or starve to follow the diet. It's about eating the right fuel to get the most out of your body. I'm not into before and after photos or anything that makes people feel shame about their bodies. But I do love feeling better. I don't use the author's products because I found better ones. 

If you're looking for great vitamins and protein shakes, Plexus has the best ones I've tried. No added sugar of any kind and they actually taste good. They have free shipping today. They're also running a great deal on membership if you're interested in buying their products wholesale. There's a huge price difference for customers versus members/ambassadors, so that's what I do. If you want to check it out, you can follow this link:
Full disclosure: If you buy or sign up through this page, it will benefit me. 

I will probably never mention this on the blog again because it feels too much like selling, and that's not what my blog is for. However, BODY FOR LIFE and Plexus have contributed to changing the quality of my life (physically, mentally, and emotionally) this year. I work better when I'm healthy. 

Wishing you all the best in 2016! xoxo