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).

KIT’s Winning Awards!

THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN has had an pretty amazing run of luck these past couple of months. Truth be told, I’m still amazed that people are actually reading something I wrote. The fact that they are reading and liking it still feels pretty surreal to me. The fact that they want to give it an award is beyond shocking and completely humbling.

As you know, THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN won an Oregon Book Award in May – an event that still makes me giddy when I think about and resulted in my book being on the shelf at Powell’s with one of those nifty little cards underneath.

KIT at Powells | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

But somehow the magic didn’t stop there. In the last couple of months, KIT has ended up on three other winner lists:

THE TRAGICWilla Award | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN is the Winner of the 2018 WILLA Literary Award Winner in Children’s/Young Adult Fiction & Nonfiction – an award given by Women Writing the West to recognize “outstanding literature featuring women’s stories set in the west.” I’ve been an avid reader of western literature for as long as I can remember – and as I child I actively sought out stories about girls and women in the west; stories that proved difficult to find. After a childhood of making up “girl in the west” stories in my head, it was a joy to get one published. It’s a real honor to be considered an award-winning writer of one, too.

osba | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
KIT is also the winner of the Oregon Council of Teachers of English’s Oregon Spirit Book Award. The award is “given yearly to the author of a distinguished contribution to children’s literature or young adult literature that engages and encourages readers’ imagination, discovery, and understanding, reflecting the spirit and values held by Oregonians.” If you know me, you know I’ve spent 15 plus years as an Oregon English teacher. You also know that encouraging kids to read and discuss books that interest and inspire them is high on my list of things that matter in the world. To be chosen for this award by a group of people I admire – and people I know to be a pretty tough audience 🙂 – is simply amazing.

WRMA | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comFinally, KIT has been chosen as a finalist for The Will Rogers Medallion Award. The WRMA “recognizes excellence in Western literature and media.” I’m so honored to be included among so many great Western writers. The Award Ceremony is in Fort Worth, TX in October, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

I’m so happy KIT seems to be finding her place in the world. You never know what all those years of writing and rewriting, hoping and despairing will amount to. You don’t know if a book will ever get published, or, if it does, if it will ever be read, or even liked, let alone loved. It’s a real joy to see that KIT’s story has resonated with people, that a few of them may have even loved it, and that someone might be carrying KIT around in their head as they walk to school or go shopping or just sit in class daydreaming – the way I did (and still do) with the books and characters I love.

Thank you all for your support over the last year and a half. It means the world to me.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

I Wrote a Picture Book!!

i-wrote-a-picture-book | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comAbout two months ago I had a flash of an idea. One of those flashes that come unbidden and out of nowhere and demand you pay attention to them. So I paid attention because I learned long ago that these flashes are gifts – from the universe or the muse or just some part of the unconscious that’s particularly tuned in at that moment – I really don’t know. But I do know that they always lead somewhere interesting. This time the flash led me to do something I never thought I’d do:  I wrote a picture book!

I never had any plans to write a picture book. It looked hard. Too hard. I’ve read picture books. They are amazing. And impossible. Tell an entire story in 500 words or less and make it smart and funny, poignant and heartfelt, rich and beautiful. The best ones do all this and more.

Making Picture Book Magic | I wrote a picture book | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

But I had an idea, so when my friend Janet told me about Making Picture Book Magic and offered to retake the course with me, I signed up. Then I dove in with both feet, dedicating time every day to write my picture book. And thanks to Susanna’s awesome lessons, boosts of support from my classmates, and the added gift of Janet’s eagle-eye critiquing skills, I did it! I wrote a picture book. A complete one. And it might even be kind of funny. Maybe. But it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I honored the flash and took a chance and created something brand new. I played with ideas and tinkered with words and had a blast just writing – with no expectations beyond the simple act of creating something.

It was awesome! So awesome, I decided to lean all the way and challenge myself to write a picture book each month as part of the 12×12 Challenge.
I’m pretty sure it will be difficult and frustrating and exciting and loads of fun. All the best adventures are.

12-x-12-picture book challenge | I wrote a picture book | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

I’m excited to be starting 2018 with a completed picture book manuscript, a really fun middle grade work in progress, and a plan. It’s the end of January, what are you excited about?

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year | 2018 | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

2017 was a bit of a roller coaster year for many of us. Great highs Terrifying dips. And far too many unexpected turns. Between the thrill of seeing my book published and out in the world and the fear of seeing my husband sick and struggling, I’m feeling a little worn out and tossed around by 2017 –  and more than happy to usher in a bright and shiny new year.

My goals for 2018 are pretty simple:

  • Focus on the joy. Do  more of what I love with the people that I love.
  • Finish Book 2 – the project that’s been a casualty of life stress for far too long.
  • Write a picture book (or two or three).
  • Get a solid draft of a new mg historical novel.
  • Find the quiet. Take more walks in the woods and on the beach.

Not a small list, for sure, and not a particularly easy one. But a do-able one. And a necessary one. I feel the need for deep focus in the months ahead.The kind of deep focus that sometimes seems difficult in our busy lives full of screen time and instant updates.

Which is why I think I’ll start the new year using May Sarton’s poetic advice as a guide – and shove off the clutter and find my way “…back to still water.”

New Year Resolve

The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.

Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.

Let silence in.
She will rarely speak or mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.

For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.

~ May Sarton, “New Year Resolve” from Collected Poems, 1930-1993

My wish for you is that you take the time to dream in the year ahead; find time for the quiet moments that fill you up and make you whole; take the time to rediscover yourself.

May 2018 be overflowing with love and happiness.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

A Christmas Thank You

Happy Holidays | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s been a big year here at my house. Lots of truly wonderful things happened – my first novel was published; I made a bunch of new friends; and I got to travel to some pretty cool places. And lots of not-so- wonderful things happened, too – my husband got terribly sick in March and we spent a whole  lot of time worrying and doctoring and trying to do life and work and art in the midst of chaos and doubt. People smarter than I say that the universe likes balance – and 2017 may have convinced me of this truth.

One of the things I know is that everything always look a little better when you take the time to count your blessings. And even in a hard year – when taking a moment to be grateful can sometimes seem like another thing on the to-do list – there are many things to be grateful for. And one of the things on my blessings list is you. So, I want to give you all a big Christmas Thank You. Thank you for being here for me this year – for showing up at book events, for talking with me over coffee and on Facebook and on Twitter, for cheering for all the good that’s happened and for supporting me through the bad. You are the best. <3

Sending you all much love and wishing you happiness in health in 2018.

Patricia Bailey | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

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So How Long Did It Take?

Last month I was asked to write an article that would fit in The Author’s Journey column of the Oregon SCBWI’s regional newsletter.

I was honored – and scared – which turns out to be a combination of emotions that actually gets work out of me.

I wrote the following piece in a whir – which may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but I’ve been pretty blocked writing-wise for quite some time. Getting words on a page – any words – felt like a freaking miracle to me.
The fact that the words made sense and seemed to resonate with the readers who took the time to email me was staggering.

And revisiting the serendipitous magic that resulted in a published book was healing for me. It’s always good to remember that dreams come true through a mix of hard work, aligned timing, and simple luck – and you’re only in control of one of these.

I hope you enjoy the article.

The Tragically True Adventure of Kit Dononvan | Patricia Bailey | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSo How Long Did it Take

There’s one question every author gets asked – whether they’re being interviewed or speaking on a conference panel – “How long did it take you to get published?”.

It’s a good question. A valid question. We’re writers, after all, and who better to give us a clue about the path to publication than someone who found a way through the wilderness and got a book on the bookstore shelf.

The only problem is that there are as many paths to that shelf as there are writers. Everyone’s journey is a little bit different. But one thing is true for all of us, and that’s the answer I usually give.

It’s taken my entire life – from birth to right now – to get published.

It’s taken every sentence I’ve scribbled since I learned to hold a pencil. Every book I’ve read. Every teacher who said, “I don’t understand what you mean here,” or “Tell me more about this.”

It’s taken every second I’ve spent daydreaming. Every time I’ve asked “I wonder?” Every hour I’ve passed following my curiosity.

It’s taken years of classes and conferences, craft books and critique partners.

Cycles of hope and doubt, failure and triumph.

It took forever.

And then, suddenly, it took no time and all.

I signed up for a manuscript critique at the Oregon SBWI conference in May of 2015 and had the incredible luck of meeting an agent who loved my book and my writing. I signed with her in June, and the novel was on submission in September. By March 2016 we had a publisher, and by the end of April 2017 my book was on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.

Which means I could say that my path to publication took two years. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

But we all know that’s not quite true. We’re all writers here after all. So maybe a better question to ask is: “Was it worth it?”

And to that question, my answer is an easy one.

Absolutely. Every minute of it.

(Originally published in Oregon SCBWI Newsworthy November-December 2017)

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Surreal Moment No. 6

Surreal Moment in a Debut Author's Life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSurreal Moment – January 4, 2017
The Internet

One of the questions I ask myself regularly is “What would a real writer do?” This question has led me to submit stories to journals and contests, apply for fellowships and scholarships, and generally build a writer’s life. In November, a Middle-Grade focused blog I have been reading for years announced that they were looking for some new contributors. This is a blog I love. A blog that’s inspired me. A blog that’s filled with writers that impress me.

So I read the call for applications and asked myself the question I always ask:

What would a real writer do?

I applied.

Sometime in December, I received an email that started with “We are happy to announce…”

And now, I’m officially a contributor at From the Mixed-Up Files… of Middle-Grade Authors!

Soon you’ll be able to read my thoughts about books and writing in two places. How cool is that!?

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My 2017 Debut Author Interview at Just Another Teen Reading Books

ice-cream-1653441_1280I so enjoyed chatting with Jessica over at her blog Just Another Teen Reading Books.

My interview was part of her 2017 Debut Author series. Check it out and discover my favorite flavor of ice-cream and some of the 2017 debut novels I’ve enjoyed reading so far this year. You might also learn a little more about my novel, THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN, while you’re there.

And be sure to read Jessica’s interviews with the other debut authors she’s featuring this month. There are so many great books coming out in 2017 – you’re going to want to make a list.

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Surreal Moment No. 5

Surreal Moment in a Debut Author's Life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSurreal Moment – January 1, 2017
Klamath Falls, OR.

I know a lot of people spent a fair amount of time in 2016 wishing the whole year would die in a fire. And I know a lot of people are entering 2017 with trepidation. I spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrating both. 2016 – The Year I Got a Book Deal and 2017 – The Year My Book Comes Out.

I have to admit, I’m filling a little bit giddy over here thinking that in just four months my novel is going to be in bookstores and libraries and (fingers crossed) in the hands of happy readers.

I’m running into 2017 bright-eyed and busy-tailed. I hope you’ll  be joining me.

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My Ask the Author Interview

By yomi yomi [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe lovely and talented Melissa Roske interviewed me for her blog series – Ask the Author. Melissa’s questions came straight from The Proust Questionnaire – and when she’s says she’s putting you in the hot seat, she’s not lying.

You can read my Ask the Author interview with Melissa here and find out all about my hopes, fears, and current state of mind – plus a little bit about my novel, THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN.

Melissa Roske is the author of one of my most anticipated middle grade books of 2017, KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN. It will be published by Charlesbridge on June 13, 2017 and is available for pre-order now.

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