An Update and a Link to A Revision Resource

I’ve been a little MIA here at the blog the last two months. Between work, revising my novel, and dealing with an illness it’s been a little chaotic in my world. But things are finally moving out of stuck mode, which means, I should be back to blogging – and writing – regularly again.

Fingers crossed 🙂

I have managed to keep up with my posing duties over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors, so check out my last post over there – Writing Books: A Revision Resource Round-Up.

I also came across some fun mentions of Kit on other blogs and books lists – including the always amazing A Mighty Girl site. You can find links to them here.

Thanks for sticking around.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

 

Camp NanoWriMo

CampNanoWriMo | campnanowrimo-badge | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s April – long past time for me to put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard and get serious about revising my work in progress. I’ve let it sit. I’ve had a friend read a good chunk of it and offer feedback. I’ve studied story and plot, opening scenes and endings. I’ve taken a ton of notes. And I’ve had a few hopeful moments where it has seemed that there is a story in there worth resurrecting.

And I’m not one to discount hopeful moments.
All of this is to say that I should be ready. Ready to rework and tighten, toss and rewrite.

Maybe I am.

April first is the start of Camp Nanowrimo, a 30 day writing challenge from the folks who bring us writers Nanowrimo – only this time with more flexibility. Do what you want for 30 days and track it by word count, time, lines, pages – whatever works for you.

The point is to the use the community energy and the public accountability to get you moving. To get you writing. Or, as in my case, revising.

And it works. I know it works because I’ve written two full novels (one of which became my debut) by participating in Nanowrimo’s 30 day challenge.

Still, I’m not sure if I want to do this. I used to be really great at sticking to things under all kinds of circumstances. I used to be great at finishing what I’ve started. But lately, I’ve been really bad at it. So bad that the thought of trying and failing feels scary. Way scary. You’ll never ever be able to do this scary.

I really don’t want one more example of how my normally great ability to persevere has waned in the last year or so. But I also kind of want to test it. To challenge it. To see if I can build it back up – like a misused and injured muscle.

Which is a drawn-out way to say that I guess I’m going to try it. Why not? April is all about resurrection and rebirth after all. And maybe Camp Nanowrimo will be just the thing to bring this novel to life. I fully intend to give it my best try.

Wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it went at the end of the month.

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Renewal

Renewal | Crocus | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

“That is one good thing about this world…there are always sure to be more springs.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Some years, L.M. Montgomery’s truth is hard to believe. Some years, it feels like winter will never end, the sun will never shine, and the books will never be finished.

I started every day this month standing on my front porch, searching my flower bed for the promise of Spring – the purple crocus I planted that never fails to bring me my first glimmer of hope that the winter will end, the sun will shine, and life will be renewed.

This year that search took on a different quality – a desperate quality – as if not just Spring, but everything – me, my writing, my career, all of it – depended on a glimpse of purple blossoms in a muddy, snow-lined patch of dirt.

I checked every day, and every day, the flower bed was empty.

Until yesterday. Yesterday, I stopped looking in the usual place, right next to the porch, and let my eyes wander the entire length of the front flower bed. And there it was. Not the one tiny crocus I was expecting, but two big plants – one lavender, one purple, both full and open and smiling in the sun.

Renewal | Crocus 2 | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Spring had arrived – just not in the exact place I had expected.

I’m hoping I will be able to say the same for myself – and for my writing.

Today, I launch into revising a novel that has taken me too long to write. A novel that has struggled to live underground as I wandered through a two-year long winter of my own. I know it won’t be the same book I expected it to be when I jotted the baby beginnings of the idea on an index card, but that’s okay.

It will be something different. Something fresh. Something new – springing out of all that those two years have taught.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

 

March New Releases

krokus - March New Releases - www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s been an interesting 2019 so far – and a fast-moving one. I cannot believe it’s already time to usher in March! Did I mention March is one of my favorite months of the year? It carries with it the promise of Spring, bushels of tulips, and the birthdays of some of my very favorite people (plus my own).

And it’s bringing in a whirlwind of new Middle Grade books.

This week, I’m over at the From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors with a list of March New Releases designed to fill all of your reading needs on the blustery and the sunshiney days March is sure to be full of. Check the post out, then head back over here and let me know what you think of this year’s March New Releases.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Presidents Day

presidents-day | american-flag | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s Presidents Day, and I’m over at the From The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors blog talking with my writing friends about middle grade characters who would make great presidents. One of them even suggested Kit for president!

I was too shy to put it on the list over there, but I’ll share it with you all here.

 

Kit Donovan (From The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey). Kit is fearless! She stands up to bullies, she fights for justice, and she doesn’t quit. Kit would be an amazing president!

Janet Sumner Johnson, Author of THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE THE PB and J SOCIETY.

Read the rest of my post – Charlotte For President!! – over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors and nominate your favorite Middle Grade Character!

And, Happy Presidents Day!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

 

Middle Grade Book Love: Stef Soto, Taco Queen

I read Jennifer Torres’s Stef Soto, Taco Queen as an ARC at the end of 2016 and loved it. I was making a list of some of my favorite middle grade characters the other day, and Stef Soto (and her family’s taco truck Tia Perla) came to mind almost immediately. There’s so much to love in this heart-warming debut novel. It’s a must read for middle grade kids and for their taco-loving parents and teachers.

Middle Grade Book Love | stef-soto-taco-queen | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSeventh grader Estefania “Stef” Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family’s taco truck. She wants nothing more than for her dad to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be put out to pasture. It’s no fun being known as the “Taco Queen” at school.

But just when new city regulations are proposed, and her family’s livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck’s unlikely champion.

 

 

Stef Soto, Taco QueenStef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful debut that’s sure to be a hit among middle graders. Stef Soto is a perfect middle-grade heroine – determined to get out from under her overly-protective immigrant parents’ thumbs, endlessly embarrassed by the family business (delightful Tia Perla, the taco truck), struggling to fit in at school – and full of love and support for her family and friends. This book is full of great friends, a fun goal, and an authentic portrayal of middle grade life. And tacos! A beautiful book that teachers and students are sure to love.

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A kid you can totally relate to.
  • Great friendships (and believable rivalries).
  • Tacos!

For teachers

  • A bilingual protagonist
  • A true-to-life financial problem that will make for a good discussion topic.
  • Author-created Activities and Resources.

STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN is available now. You can pick up a copy online or at your nearest independent bookseller.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver | Sunflower| www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

I didn’t realize how much I have been leaning on Mary Oliver and her work the last two years until I read that she had died. The news struck me – the way hearing an old friend has died always does – swift and hard. A front kick to the chest.

I did what we all do when we hear of of a death – I felt sad. For her, sure. For the people who knew and loved her, of course. But also, selfishly, for me. Because I wanted more. More of her thoughts. More of her poems. More of, well, all of it. All that she’s learned. All that she’s seen. All that she’s willing to share.

What I really wanted was another book that I could read in the early morning hours before the cats and the husband and the sun showed up. Another book to keep me company and to remind me to keep living my “one wild and precious life” as best as I can.

Isn’t that what we all want?

Someone close to me has been reckoning with immortality lately and asked me my advice. As if I have any. I’m not religious. Not philosophical. Not particularly deep or wise or even all that opinionated. But I offered what I could. I offered poetry. “Poets seem to be closer to it than the rest of us,” I said. And the poet I was most thinking about when I offered this “cure” was Mary Oliver.

She’s helped me better see a world I recognize, and to appreciate what I love about it – the land, the animals, the quiet, the joy, and the heartbreak. I thought that she might help him. I hope that she does.

In her piece in The New Yorker, Stephanie Burt writes:  “Oliver’s decades of litanies and rediscoveries provided so many readers with what Kenneth Burke called “equipment for living,” tools to fight gloom, to open the front door, to lead wilder or more precious lives.”

I know she did this for me.

Thank you for the tools, Mary, and the message. You will be missed.

MESSENGER

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

—Mary Oliver

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Bringing in 2019

Bringing in 2019 | leave-the-dishes | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s here. 2019. Another ride around the sun and another trip through our crisp, clean new planners. A bright and shiny new year full of new chances, new hope.

I spent the last moments of 2018 finishing the novel that refused to be. It was rough. Ugly. A Hail Mary effort to have something to show for a year that was full of stress and fear and a pressing sense of deep unease. And, it worked. Kind of. Just as the neighborhood erupted in celebratory fireworks, I wrote the last words of a draft I honestly did not think I would ever finish. Then I went to bed, exhausted by the work and the doubt, yet exhilarated by the knowledge that what I thought was going to work won’t because now I understood why. Now I can do something about it. I have hope – maybe only a smidge, but hope just the same. It’s a feeling I haven’t had in quite a while.

I allowed 2019 to ease in without a lot of fanfare, hoopla, resolutions, or even my traditional goal-setting session. I spent the first week of 2019 resting. I read. I fiddled with end of the year tasks. I ran errands, rediscovered old TV shows, watched the snow fall, and even worked out a bit. And I didn’t set a single goal or make a single plan.

I already know what I want do and what I want to accomplish. The list hasn’t changed. But one thing I’ve learned in the last year and a half is something the poet Robert Burns knew long ago –  that“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”  I’ve also learned that so many of my goals rely heavily on things outside of my control. So, instead of making goals, I listed what mattered to me in the world. The reasons I sit at my keyboard every day. The things I’m trying to do with my writing. The actions that make me feel like I’m on the right path.

I hope to remember what matters to me this year and to shape my days accordingly. To ease-up, on myself, on my desires, on my day-to-day worries, and even on those around me.

A friend reminded me of a poem this week. One that lives on my refrigerator as a reminder of a brave and unconventional way to be in the world. I’m moving the poem from my refrigerator to my desk this week. I’m moving my energy from desperation to ease.
And, I’m taking Louise Erdrich’s wonderful advice to “Leave the dishes.”

Maybe you will too.

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Merry Christmas!

merry-christmas | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com | https://crmrkt.com/WbVGQ0
Wishing you all the happiest of holidays and all the best in 2019!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Goals and Possibilities

Some days it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come. We humans have a tendency to look ahead. To focus on the next goal. The next project. The next big dream. And I think this time of year dials that urge up. My email box is filled with newsletters, webinars, and links to YouTube videos all promising to help me meet my 2019 goals. Planning. Vision Boarding. Goal Setting. There’s nothing wrong with any of it, but this year, I’m just not feeling it. Maybe it’s because all of my big goals for 2018 took a backseat to trying to keep my little family healthy and myself sane. Maybe it’s because I am finally starting to realize that that old quote about making god laugh has a little bit of truth to it.

But even with all the hard stuff this year, good came. KIT won awards. I made new friends. I visited a new place, and took some beautiful walks in some old ones. I even wrote some new words. Not a whole novel, yet, but most of one, and with some focus, a little bit of grace, and a whole lot of luck I could still finish it this year. (Here’s me looking forward again).

When I look at it all with adult-me eyes, it doesn’t feel like much. But, luckily, I spend a lot of my time looking at the world through the eyes of  a child, or at least trying to. And kid-me would not believe the year I’ve had. She wouldn’t have even imagined it was possible.

Earlier today I fell down a rabbit hole of research. (Well, part research, part avoiding the hard and scary work of putting words on the page). I was looking up old board games my characters could play on a rainy day. I was trying to remember which ones I had – the good ones and the bad – and this one came to the top of the list.

What Shall I Be Game | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
I remember picking this game up at a yard sale. It was old-timey even then, but I grew up in a small town out west. Everything came a few years/decades late there. Music. Movies. Mocha lattes. And, yes, even possibilities. And this is nothing if not a game of possibilities. Six to be exact. Ballerina. Actress. Flight Attendant. Teacher. Model. Nurse. Those were the career choices kid-me was given in the the late 70’s/early 80’s.

The only one I thought was remotely possible was teacher. So that’s what I became. It was also the only job other than nurse, bank teller, house cleaner, store clerk, beautician, and secretary I had ever seen a real-life woman hold.

I have no idea if this game influenced my decision in any way. Maybe those awful pink and orange cards that said you were too overweight or too bad at makeup to be an actress or a flight attendant had a impact. Maybe not. It wasn’t very fun to play, so I didn’t spend that much time with it, but you never know what’s going to stick to you. I do know that it wasn’t until I was in my late 30’s that the idea that I could be a real-life writer seemed possible. That it was even an option.

Which takes me back to kid-me who would be looking back at my year with wide-eyed amazement. I did all that, and I did it with my hair in a ponytail and no makeup? (Too things those awful little pink hearts and round orange cards deemed unworthy for most careers). Who would have imagined it?

Not me.

But here I am. Even on the hard days, the no words days, the no hope days, I’m here, doing a job that didn’t even seem possible. Living a life I never even imagined.

And even on those days, if I take the time to stop looking forward, I can see that it’s pretty awesome.

(If you’d like to read a fun article about the game mentioned above, there’s one here).