2020 Blogs

April 29, 2020
 
The first month of Illinois's stay-at-home order is almost over. The Governor has extended it until May 30th. The Corvid-19 virus has changed the world in how people live, work, receive schooling, travel, shop, dine out, etc. Some days I feel like I am living in a Sci-fi movie or book. This can't be reality, and yet, it is. My heart aches for every life lost. Presently globally, over three million people have the virus and almost two million are sick. A quarter of a million people have died. In the US, over one million have the virus and over 60,000 have died. These numbers overwhelm me. And they scare me. I am staying home, except to buy groceries or pick up my meds.
 
Today was grocery day. I order online at Walmart and pay with a credit card. At my appointed day and time, I drive to the pick up area and call the number on the sign to let them know I am there. The groceries are  brought to my car and placed in my trunk with no contact with the person. I was able to buy flour today, but the yogurt I ordered was not available. Also, no hamburger buns, but I did get hot dog buns. I haven't been able to buy toilet paper at Walmart since this pandemic started. Fortunately, Menard's received a shipment when I was down to my last roll. I was told to be at the store within an hour after I called, else their supply would be gone. I made it and my supply is good for at least three weeks.
 
If it wasn't for all the people being sick and/or dying, there would be reasons to be thankful for this pandemic. Families are reconnecting, spending quality time together. Heroes are stepping up, the amazing doctors, nurses, caregivers, police, firemen, etc. People are showing kindness. There's a new kind of unity forming with neighbors checking on each other, some even singing from their balconies, families are meeting on zoom for face-to-face visits, families are cooking together and pets are benefiting with their owners being home.
 
As a writer, I am finding comfort and encouragement through the writing community. Free writing webinars are being offered by the SCBWI, The Highlight Foundation, Children's Book Insider, etc. It's wonderful for these organizations and the authors/guest speakers to give back to the writing community.
 
My writers group still meet once a month, but now online via zoom. We still share works for critiques, and offer helpful information. As the SCBWI-IL representative for the Springfield area, I've had to learn how to use zoom for these meetings. I love it! At our last meeting, we discussed the book we plan to read together, THE MAGIC WORD by Cheryl Klein. I gave everyone an assignment, to make a 2 column, 14 row PB book dummy. Since I've learned to so this, I am making one for all my PBs. It's a great way to envision page turns and if a sentence needs shorted. I'm hoping my group tries this at least once, and then they can decide if they want to use this method or not.
 
For our May meeting, I've asked one of our members to play the ukulete for us. She is learning how to play during her time at home. I thought a sing-a-long might cheer us up. Another member is going to talk about her method to keep track of her finished manuscripts and works-in-progress.
 
At first I wasn't sure I could write during these trying days. Everything is so tragic, so sad. Yet I have managed to write 2 PBs and do revision/edits on my Middle Grade novel. I'm thankful to my critique partner, Shannon Williams, whom I met online via twitter. We exchanged our manuscripts and helped each other. I have worked on my novel until I feel it shines. This meant cutting out sentences, paragraphs and pages. I hope a publisher or agent feels the same way I do about my story, as I am sending it out.
 
I am also submitting some PBs, and plan to participate in a twitter pitch event this Friday. #WMPitch. The time for this pitch is 8 AM-8 PM (BST) (British Standard Time), which translate to 2 AM-2 PM in Central time. I figure an agent can work from anywhere, so why not try.
 
For the time being, I plan on staying home, staying safe and healthy. My hope is this pandemic slows down soon, and then disappears. I have a feeling we'll never go back to what we consider normal. We'll have a new normal to live by, but if it keeps people safe, I'm okay with it.
 
I'm thankful my family is safe, and I pray they stay that way. I'm grateful for all my writer friends who offer encouragement and advice. I'm grateful for the webinars I've been able to watch and feel they have helped me improve my writing. I thank God for each day, and feel blessed for all the good in my life.
 
My goal remains the same, to find an agent and be traditionally published, and to that end I will keep on writing.
 
Blessings to all!
 
 
 
NOTE: The Spring Fling contest is over. There were over 300 entries and 20 winners. I was not one, but a friend whose story I helped edit did receive notice that her story had been in the running. She didn't win either, but received high praise for her writing. This made me happy for her, and for me because I played a part in her writing journey.
 
April 7, 2020
 
For Spring Fling Writing Contest with 150 words:
 

OH, HAPPY SPRING

by Debra Daugherty

 

Morning spilled dew across the rolling green hills of fair Ireland. Miranda fluttered from buds to blooms with her paintbrush and palette. “Spring is here. It’s time to color the flowers in the meadow.”

Miranda studied her chart. Blue for forget-me-nots. Daisies, white petals, yellow centers.

She dabbed her brush in the paint, then splashed the pale flowers sprouting from the earth. “Now they sparkle.”

Miranda flew to her next assignment. Paint the roses red, pink, and yellow.

She stared at the blossoms. “Why not purple, my favorite color?”

Miranda mixed the red and blue paint, then splattered the tint on the roses. She hovered midair and admired her work. “Oh my! They’re beautiful!”

She tapped the delicate petals with her brushes, like beating on a drum.

“Listen to the robins sing.

La, la, la, oh, happy Spring.

Flowers blooming everywhere.

La, la, la, la, Spring is here!”

 

Site where I found GIF:

https://www.amazing-animations.com/animated-fairies4.php

 

 
 
 
 
February 29, 2020
 
My entry for Vivian Kirkfield's #50 Precious Words writing contest:
 
 

                        RABBIT’S BIG DAY

                        by Debra Daugherty

 

February 29th. Rabbit poked his head out of his hole. Snow!

Hop! Hop! Hop!

Rabbit’s paws tingled from the cold as he bounced up and down.

When Hawk flew overhead, Rabbit burrowed under the snow and hid.

Hawk left. Safe!

Hop! Hop! Hop!

Why is Rabbit hopping?

It’s Leap Year!

 
 
 
 
February 26, 2020
 
Update on my writing journey:
 
Today, as I stare out my window at the snow, I can't help but feel lucky to be in my warm, home sitting at my keyboard. This is a perfect day to stay inside and write. With March close at hand, I hope it means Spring weather will come soon. But I can remember some very rough March days with heavy snowfall, and even an ice storm that wiped out electicity in my neighborhood for nine days. 
 
I've made use of the time spent indoors this January and February. I've sent out at least 40 submissions for 11 different manuscripts. I participated in StoryStorm, and from my 30 ideas, I have already written five stories. My writers group have had two productive meetings. In January, eleven members attended the meeting, a record for our group. I remember only two or three in years past. My group's assignment was to do a picture book dummy, and in February, we shared our visions. I found doing a dummy improved my story. I discovered words and pages I did not need. This is a tool I will continue to use.
 
I entered Susannah Leonard Hill's valentine contest. You can see my entry in the last blog post. I did not win, but had fun competing and reading what others wrote. Friday, I am entering Vivian Kirkfield's #50 Precious Words contest. My story is ready to post. It's not easy writing a story with just 50 words, but I loved the challenge, and am looking forward to reading the other entries.
 
Februrary I've participated in NFfest, Non-fiction Fest. This is not a genre I write, but the lessons and posts can apply to fiction stories, too. I am learning so much about the non-fiction writing process and the research that is done before the story is written. I identify with this as I've done ton of research for my fiction novels, especially the comtemporary ones, so the setting and dialogue is realistic.
 
These first two months I've enjoyed online webinars, three in one week in January. Last Saturday, I watched Pat Zietlow Miller's SCBWI-Utah/Southern Idaho's webinar on Cutting the Fluff. As a result, I cut 160 words from one of my PBs. Write On Con had a three day online conference, and for $10, I was able to watch or read 26 podcasts, blogs and videos about writing on each day. That's 78 total. These posts were given by authors, editors, agents and publishers. An amazing lineup, and a wealth of information. I filled 1 1/2 notebooks with notes.
 
Last Saturday on twitter, it was #CPMatch, critique partner match. I hesitated, but decided to list my NaNoWriMo MG story to see if someone would like to swap manuscripts with me. I feel lucky in having Shannan Williams for my new critique partner. She lives in Georgia and has two children. She's written an amazing MG story which I am enjoying tremendously. Her writing is superb, but I have been able to offer some suggestions/input. In return, she's given me invaluable advice on my novel. It meant cutting out pages of dialogue, but they weren't needed or necessary for my story anyway, and were only dragging the pace. She also has me using Google Docs and highlighting and leaving comments. I'm a newbie with this. I did try four years ago with my editor on the novel that was published, but had problems with it. I've always printed out the pages and did handwritten critiques, but thanks to Shannan, that may be in my past.
 
There are some writing grants, either available now or soon, which I plan to submit pages. Ann Whitford Paul has one, and then SCBWI has several. Even if not chosen, it's good practice. I participated in #AMM, author mentor match, hoping to be chosen as a mentee, but there were 1000 submissions and only 54 mentors. 
 
Not to do with writing, but I had good news yesterday. In 2016, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, and had surgery on March 14, 2016. It involved a total hysterectomy and removal of lymph nodes. Since then, I've had doctor appointments to make sure the cancer hasn't returned. It started out with quarterly appointments, then twice a year, then once a year. Yesterday was my four year checkup, and the report was good. I have one more year to go before my doctor will dismiss me, so March 3, 2021 will hopefully be a day of celebration.
 
When I was going through my cancer scare and having doctor appointments, MRIs, sonograms, biopsies and surgery, I was also doing edits for my novel, preparing it for publiction. My publisher did not know at the time that I had cancer, (I found out the same day she offered me a contract), and I never missed an edit round. I believe knowing my novel was being published, and doing the work on it while recovering after surgery, gave me hope. I had something to occupy my mind, rather than the Big C. And I was lucky, I did not need chemo or radiation after the surgery.
 
#PitMad is the first Thursday in March. I enjoy pitching, and keep a file with pitches for all my stories, so all I need to do is copy and paste. I found my publisher for The Dragon's Ring during a twitter event. It was #Pit2Pub, pitch to publication. My pitch received two likes that day, and Stephanie, the publisher for Clean Reads, offered me a contract.
 
The Chatham Library, where my writers group meet each month, is having an Author Fair in May, and I am going to be one of the authors in attendence. My only regret is my book is an e-book, so I won't be able do do any book signings.
 
My goal is to find an agent to submit my work to traditional publishers. I do submit to small presses when they have open submission days. I want to have a book traditionally published so I can do book signings and meet and interact with my young readers. It would be the best feeling in the world to go into a book store or library and find my book on their shelves. I want to share my writing with the world, and to bring smiles to the children and adults who read my books.
 
Being a writer takes perserverance. It involves hard work with revisions after revisions. But the journey to publication is amazing. You meet other writers and make new friends, you learn learn and hone the craft, and then you share what you know with other writers. Wriers helping writers .And all the hard work is worth it in the end! My advice to you is...
 
Keep on writing!
 
 
 
 
 
February 14, 2020
 
Happy Valentine's Day! Posted below is a 214 word story for Susanna Leonard Hill's 5th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest.
 

THE VALENTINE BOX

by Debra Daugherty

 

On the table I spied a small box tied with red ribbon. A present? For me?

My fingers trembled as I read the attached note.

Do not open! Inside is your valentine gift, but you can never see it.

Love, Mom.

A gift I can’t open? Is this a joke? Or a test to see if I obey?

My curiosity piqued when I picked up the box. Light and airy. I held the box near my ear and shook it. It made no sound.

My mind searched for items that would fit in the tiny box. Earrings? A bracelet? A necklace?

But wouldn’t the box had rattled when I shook it?

Maybe there are tickets to a concert. Or money.

But if any of these gifts were in the box, why couldn’t I see them?

It took all my willpower not to rip off the ribbon and open the lid.

As soon as my mother walked in the door, I pointed to the box. “Why can’t I open my gift?”

“I’m surprised you didn’t peek,” she laughed. “The box is filled with all my love. Whenever you are sad or lonely, hold it close to your heart. You can’t see my love, but you can feel it.”

I hugged my mother. “Best gift ever.”