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Birthdays – head injuries – fat burning? Oh my! While preparing for upcoming birthday celebrations, nursing an injured child and trying to recommit to my own good health (I’m a work in progress with that), I’ve still had to manage to make progress as a writer. Admittedly, this has not been easy and no, I haven’t spent every possible moment writing or working on writing, but I have done the best I could given the circumstances.

I currently have three main projects to which I’ve committed my time and attention: (1) a picture book, (2) a romantic-comedy, and (3) a middle grades novel. I know I blog a lot about all I have to do, but sometimes I can be a little vague on the details. So now you know. When I’m writing, these are the projects that primarily consume my “writing” time.

So where am I with all these different projects in different genres? Some months ago I assembled a beta group (sounds like a super-hero squad, but it’s not as exciting as all that) to read and critique my romantic comedy. This stage happens before sending the manuscript off to an editor. In the past two weeks, the group has delivered their feedback (which was exciting and gut-wrenching all at the same time) but nonetheless equals revision time! More work, re-reading, rewriting, and revising ahead.

While having to organize those comments and begin work on those revisions, the picture book suddenly picked up speed. We’re down to final adjustments with illustrations and only a couple of weeks away from uploading and formatting for printing. I finally decided on a print-on-demand (POD) company and ready-or-not, this thing is seriously about to happen. Excuse me for a moment while I get my brown paper bag.

All this action with the picture book has lead to me re-examining my “brand”. Because we all know, nothing happens with self-published books without marketing and branding yourself. Face it, as writers, this is generally not our cup of tea. And despite all my efforts to be the first self-published author to get it all right the first time (I say this sarcastically of course) I’ve still made many of the same mistakes I tried so hard to avoid. So here I am with only a couple of months to go before the book is released asking myself, “Now, how exactly am I supposed to get my book in the hands of readers? For real?” This is a battle I’m taking on now. When I have all the answers, I’ll blog about it…promise.

Meanwhile, in an effort to become more involved in the writing community, I visited the Meetup website (not a where singles meet website people) with the intent to find a critique group to help me get past the brick wall I slammed into with my middle grades novel. I placed it on the back burner some months ago and recently decided to try to revive it with no success. I ended up signing up for a couple of groups that weren’t necessarily critique groups, but they get together and do, well, writer stuff.

After receiving a few annoying email notifications the first several days, I quickly started to regret my decision to sign up for these groups until one of the notifications caught my attention. One of my groups was having a writers’ roundtable. I RSVP’d and reluctantly showed up. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made.

I attended the roundtable in hopes of walking away with some advice on getting through writers block and hopefully an invitation to a critique group. What I walked away with instead was new connections, feeling I had some support in this new venture of mine, and an assignment. Yes. I said an assignment. I’ve been tasked to read 150 books within the middle grades genre! I have six months to complete the task. Within that six months, I’m not allowed to touch, look at, or even smell my own manuscript. When six months is over, I’ll have a consultation with a writing coach. So much for playing the Sims in my spare time. The odd thing is, though I walked away with more work to do, I also felt an overwhelming sense of relief. There is really something to be said about surrounding yourself with others who share in your experiences.

Here’s the point, while balancing and making time for my writer’s life, my personal life still goes on too. It’s a major balancing act, especially since all of it is a priority. It’s difficult to prioritize priorities. But I’m making it work. While each book is moving along, so are the birthday plans. My son’s injury is healing well. He’s back in school, and I’m resuming my new normal schedule – back in the gym at the crack of dawn.

Given the circumstances, I’ve done well to stay the writing course, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have some catching up to do.

Be productive this week no matter what life throws at you and write on!