What I've Been Up To This Month

The month isn’t even over yet, but so much has been packed into the last few weeks it feels more like two months already! That’s not exactly an excuse for neglecting the blog, but, you know, life happens. Anyway…

Beachside Nonfiction Workshop

I started out the month at the Beachside Nonfiction Workshop with Candace Fleming & Jennifer Swanson. It was amazing! The faculty were all stellar, the location was gorgeous, and the attendees were lovely. It was fun hanging out with other nonfiction geeks for an entire weekend. We all struggled to answer the “So, what do you write?” question, however, since we can usually just get away with “Nonfiction,” and have that be the end of it! I didn’t take nearly enough photos, but here’s the view from my hotel balcony…

Yes, it was hard work. There were a lot of sessions, and they were mostly master level, plus networking and critiques. I came away with so much useful information and new ideas to apply to my works in progress. There were obviously some other perks, too!

Seattle Reading Council Appearance

In the middle of the month, some of the members of my critique group (and all agency-mates at Erin Murphy Literary, as it turns out!), did an appearance at the Seattle Reading Council. It was a billed as a “Books and Chocolate” event… what could be better?! We each talked about our books and process and then took questions. The crowd was mostly teachers and librarians, so it made for a wonderful evening of sharing book love (and chocolate!) among likeminded new friends.

School visits

I had an elementary school visit where I got to talk to several third-grade classes about my writing journey, grit, and writing with emotion, as well as several fifth-grade classes about evaluating sources and spotting fake news. It was an awesome visit with super-engaged audiences, but alas, no photos. You’ll have to take my word for it!

I have another visit coming up early in June (the last one of the school year!), so I’ve been making sure everything is ready for that one, too.

SCBWI-WWA Spring Conference

Finally, I attended and helped with the SCBWI Western Washington‘s spring conference, Imagine That! It was a great weekend: hearing from inspiring speakers, getting feedback on one of my works in progress from a powerhouse editor, and catching up with author and illustrator friends in the industry. I’m still soaking it all up and processing what was said! Good stuff.

Book Releases!

Along with all of that I’ve been getting ready for the Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries paperback release on May 21 AND preparing for the upcoming new release of Two Truths and a Lie: Forces of Nature on June 25th! I’ve designed and ordered postcards and swag, scheduled social media announcements, and made other plans to get the word out.

TTL: Histories and Mysteries cover
TTL: Forces of Nature cover
 

Works in Progress…

And, of course, there are those works in progress, too! Earlier this month I submitted both a nonfiction picture book revision and a graphic novel proposal to my agent. I’m currently revising a nonfiction picture book, a fiction picture book, and a middle-grade nonfiction manuscript. I’m also working on a brand-new nonfiction picture book draft and a young-adult nonfiction proposal. Busy, busy!

Yes, I do love my job. More so every day, in fact! =D

On fear, and how writing is like a guitar

Fear is funny. Not funny, really. Maddening, frustrating, debilitating.
Ortega acoustic electric mini bassAfter a busy month or so, I hadn’t had time to practice my bass guitar at all. I wanted to. I missed it. So I took it out of the case and sat it next to my chair so it would be easy to grab whenever I had a few free minutes. And from there it mocked me. I was afraid to pick it up. Afraid I’d forgotten everything. Afraid I would suck.
Writing is like that, too. I think the writers who advise others to “write every day” do so for this reason most of all. The longer we go without doing something the more room there is for doubt and excuses, so we go even longer without doing it. It’s a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break out of.
Sometimes, the missing doing the thing becomes greater than the fear and overcomes it. Other times, we force ourselves past the fear. We have been here before and can see it for what it is.
I finally picked up the guitar today. I can still play. In fact, I think I played better today than I have in months. It felt joyous, both the ability to make music and the letting go of the fear.
Soon, my schedule will allow me to get back to writing again, too. And I am not afraid. In fact, I’m looking forward to it.
What goals are you avoiding because of fear? Perhaps it’s time to begin.
Begin

In which I make my podcast debut on The Artist Rolls!

As I’ve mentioned before, I love listening to podcasts. One of my favorites is The Artist Rolls.
The Artist Rolls logo
On The Artist Rolls, Sean and Jamie ask their creative guests to fill out a form loosely inspired by character sheets from role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. They use these character sheets to help explore and discuss how each guest divides their time across the many different roles creative people must take on, what mediums they use to do their work, what their personal work style is, and how they view their own skill set. They incorporate dice to randomize the conversation, graphs to help visualize it, and humor and heart to bring it to life. It’s a fun way to learn about other people’s creative processes and challenges.

Sean and Jamie, the hosts of The Artist Rolls
Sean and Jamie, the talented hosts of The Artist Rolls

I was introduced to The Artist Rolls by my good friend (and amazing collage artist!) Liz Ruest. Since then, I’ve enjoyed listening to and learning from many of their chats with other creative types, so it was a thrill to be able to participate in one myself, made even more exciting by the fact that it was my podcast debut! I revealed much of my nerdy nature and consistently rolled well below average, but other than that I don’t think I embarrassed myself too badly. Check it out for yourself by clicking below:

The Artist Rolls, Episode 26 – Laurie Thompson Reminds Us to “Do Unto Others”

The importance of play

I have a confession to make. I’ve never been much of a journaler, my creativity has always been bursty, and I have never in my life had anything resembling a daily writing habit.
But I really need one.
“Need” is the right word, too. I almost wrote “should,” but that isn’t quite correct. It’s 1:30 p.m., and I’ve accomplished next to nothing so far today. I’ve been procrastinating, surfing, organizing, cleaning… but not one thing that actually gets me closer to my goals. I have a whole bunch of things I “should” be doing, revisions and research. That’s not the problem. The problem is more that I’m in a sort of funk, and none of those “should” tasks appeal to me right now. This slump I’m in, I think is because I’ve lost contact with my creative self. I’ve let the inner editor have too much to do, too much to say lately. Yes, I’ve needed it for the revisions I’ve been working on, but it got too much practice, while my creative side withered.
I haven’t written anything brand new, aside from a few blog posts here, for almost six months. Blog posts are good, I guess. I get to create, write, practice–and it serves a useful purpose, too (I hope!). A nice win-win.
But, writing something for public consumption is not the same as freewriting, practice, PLAY. I’ve been reading HOW TO BE A WRITER by Barbara Baig  and the first thing she addresses is this need to free ourselves from expectation and play with writing, without fear of anyone else seeing the results. I’ve been seeing this advice show up in various snippets here and there from various wise people for the past few weeks. The universe is sending me signals, but I’ve been trying hard to overlook them to focus instead on the “should”s, the concrete to-do list, the goal-oriented approach to achieving my dreams.
I’m a logical person. I write nonfiction. I make lists. I set goals, and break them down, and work towards them. This is all good and useful… to a point.
But sometimes, the well runs dry. I need to rest. I need to read. I NEED to create. That, after all, is the end goal. So, it’s time to listen to the universe.
You, dear revisions, will just have to wait. I’m currently busy with much less important things.

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