A Work from Home Mom, 2016

Things have changed a lot from when I started yesterday’s post. For starters, my kids are now in Kindergarten and capable of making their own peanut butter sandwiches instead of being toddler sippy cup junkies. In case you can’t gather from this post, we homeschool. Another difference between now and then is I have a steady stream of author clients whereas two years ago I was more of a sporadic editor. I am very happy about this. Editing is something I love to do (also I love how it helps us pay for our kids’ extra curricular activities and our Netflix account).

This timeline recounts, in approximation, a day in the life of Jessie Sanders, November 2016.

7:20 The boy creeps stealthily, like a ninja (or so he thinks) into my room. I tell him to go back to bed although honestly he’s probably been playing for half an hour already, and I go back to sleep.

7:30 Sean’s alarm goes off.

7:32 I get up. Help the boy with his cereal and milk. Unload the dishwasher. Check Facebook.

7:50-8:10 Do math with the boy. As usual, he does two lessons, because he never believes me that he is only required to do two pages.

8:10-8:45 Listen to the boy stumble through four pages of Bugs and Us.

8:40 The girl wakes up and stands next to me like a spectre while I wish John would sound out “honey bee” already. I mean seriously, son, it sounds like it’s spelled! There’s no tricky dipthongs here!

8:45 Send the boy to play in his room while I help the girl with her math.

9:00 Make Sean’s lunch, make Sean get up for work, make coffee, get the girl some breakfast, tell the boy that he can’t have second breakfast.

9:10-10:00 Dump some brine shrimp eggs into salt water so they’ll hatch and we can look at them under a microscope the next day.  (Note: they never hatched.) Review the process of reproduction. Memory verses and reading from Adventures in Ancient Greece complete our school work for the day.

10:00-11:00 Boy and Girl get to watch Octonauts (justified because we’re supposed to be learning about the ocean this month). I copyedit a sample from a potential client/author.

11:00-11:30 Throw food at the kids.

11:30-1:00 Send the kids outside to play. I finish my second round of edits on a different manuscript, email them back to author.

1:00-3:30 Facebook, a little Netflix, a lot of breaking up fights between Boy and Girl. Mostly I’m working on the manuscript that I’ve been concept editing for over a month. 360 pages down, only 185 to go!

3:45-5:15 Go to the YMCA.

5:30-6:30 Make dinner, welcome Sean home from work, eat dinner.

6:30-9:45 Weekly date at Starbucks with my writing group. I write 2800 words on GCA3.

10:00-midnight Spurred my success at writing night, I come home and write another 4,000 words on GCA3, then stare at it for twenty minutes to wonder if I’ve really, after over two years of writing and editing, finished this stupid, stupid novel.


And now all that’s left for you, dear reader, is to wait patiently while Grover Cleveland Academy #3: To See Clearly is edited and published so you can see the fruits of my labors! Until then, catch up on the Grover Cleveland Academy series if you haven’t already.

Into the Flames for Nook, iPad, kobo, or Kindle

Diving In for Nook, iPad, kobo, or Kindle

And check out my short story series: The Soldier and Kerri, A Telling, Starcrossed, and Fire and Lightning.

 

Posted in Editing, Personal, Writing

A Work from Home Mom, 2014

Below is a blog post I started over two years ago. I never finished it because…well, because I was busy taking care of my toddlers. I saved it as a draft and was never able to come back to it. But today seemed a good time to brush it off and post it because it notes an important time in my life: the time when I started working on the latest draft of Grocer Cleveland Academy #3: To See Clearly. Yes, it’s been that long.

So I thought it would be fun to post this blast from the past. Tomorrow I’ll post an update so you can see how much my life has changed and stayed the same over the years. I present for your reading pleasure, a day in the life of Jessie Sanders, April 2014

7:20 I hear the boy turn on his light and start playing with his Captain America action figure. I am thankful that the boy slept past 7 am and go back to sleep.

7:30 Sean’s alarm goes off.

7:35 Sean’s alarm goes off again. The boy and the girl both start calling for me from their rooms.

7:36-7:50 Let the kids out of their rooms and make sure they use the toilet and put on clean underwear.

7:50-8:17 Make oatmeal, pour milk into sippy cups, set the kids down at the counter with said oatmeal, make Sean’s lunch, kiss Sean goodbye, sweep the kitchen, and unload the dishwasher.

8:17-8:25 Clean up breakfast, send the kids to play in the living room.

8:27 Retire to the living room with a bottled Starbucks frappucino (because I remembered to buy some yesterday but somehow forgot to buy a new bag of coffee beans), get out my laptop.

8:30 Tweak some stories, a project I started last night that could totally put off, but I would rather do this than something bigger and more involved.

8:37 First tears of the day. The boy bit the girl. The boy, upset that I make him apologize to his sister, retires to his room to play. Comes out two minutes later.

8:45 Finish my coffee. 🙁

8:48 Finish story tweaking and get on Facebook.

8:55 Decide I really must get to work on GCA3. I need to change my outline, tweak some things, and then, if I have time, start at the very beginning (again) and start rewriting.

9:00-10:33 Turn on a movie for the kids. They alternate between watching it, jumping on the couch, and wrestling. I alternate between working on my story outline and browsing the Internet.

10:34-39 Movie is over. Kids go to the bathroom and try to convince me to put in another movie. When I say no, they start playing with the books on the dining room floor.

10:40-11:00 Send the kids to play in their room so I can clean up the dining room.

11:00-11:50 Make lunch. Eat lunch. Clean spills, refill sippy cups, wipe faces, wash dishes.

11:50-12:10 Put the boy down for a nap.

12:10-12:30 Mop and tidy the kitchen. The girl pretends the wet floor is a frozen fjord that she must cross to find Princess Anna.

12:30-1:45 The girl plays relatively quietly in the living room. I’m back to Facebooking/working on the outline. Begin to wonder wether fixing the plot is really working and if I shouldn’t go back to previous outline.

1:45 The boy stirs.

1:50-2:35 Put the kids in jackets and shoes and send them outside. Pick up toys and dirty clothes, straighten the couch cushions, play on the internet, edit a little bit on GCA3 chapter one.

2:40 Snack time!

3:00 Put the girl down for a nap.

3:10-3:35 Clean the bathrooms.

This is where I stopped writing down my day. I’m assuming the day ended with play with the kids, making dinner, watching Netflix with my family. But the details are left to time. Tomorrow, we zoom back to the present and see how I live my life now!

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized, Writing

Unpopular Book Opinions

I’m breaking my blogging hiatus to post this book list that I stole from my friend the Lady Okie. I love book lists! So here you go.

1. A popular book or series that you didn’t like.

There’s probably a lot more that aren’t coming to mind, but most recently, Rick Riordan’s new series about Magnus Chase. I was hoping that it would be more like Heroes of Olympus, but it was like a rehash of Percy Jackson except with Norse gods. Like, if you lined up Percy and Magnus next to each other, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. So, yeah. I was hoping for something different instead of more of the same.

In the same vein, Eleanor and Park. I love all of Rainbow Rowell’s books, but this one fell flat for me, so I’m mad it’s the one that’s getting turned into a movie. I’m assuming my dislike is because I never went to public school.

 

2. A popular book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love.
Everybody I know either dislikes the whole Divergent series or, if they like the first two books, hated Allegiant, and I don’t know why. I mean, it’s not Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but it takes a logical turn of events and rounds out the themes started in book one. When I got to the end, I was happy.
3. A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with.
I can’t think of any.
4. A popular book genre that you hardly reach for.
Romance. Crime/thriller/mystery.
 
5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.
Severus Snape.
6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.
My bookstagram feed is full of Sarah J. Maas, and I haven’t felt compelled to pick any of her books up yet.
7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. 
A mysterious man sweeping a girl off her feet and telling her she’s the answer to everything. Or a girl who’s supposed to be super powerful but is also really dumb. Katniss, I’m looking at you.
 
8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.
A Song of Ice and Fire. I watched five seasons of Game of Thrones and I don’t have time or desire to go back into that plot in greater detail.
 
9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or TV show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?
The Hunger Games, definitely, and even the movie only brought me up to a “meh.”
A less well-known one would be John Carter of Mars.
Posted in Reading | Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

When I Grow Up

I knew I wanted to be an author when I was six years old and my aunt told me that “The White-Pawed Kitten” was one of the best stories she’d ever read. And then my mom, a much less effervescent person, told me that it was pretty good work for a six-year-old. So I knew I must actually have some potential.
When I was little and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them. “I want to be an author!” I remember that they would laugh, but my mom always smiled like she was proud of me. I think she probably was. It made me happy to think that everybody else thought I was ridiculous but my mom knew I could do it.

My mom has always been there to make sure my dream became a reality. When I showed her something I had written, first she would attack it with her trusty red pen. Maybe for a softer hearted kid that would have discouraged them. I don’t know. It always made me feel better that my stories were good enough for my mom to take seriously. She never laughed and said they were dumb. She just told me how they could be better.

notebooks

And then, when I left the story behind because I had moved on to other stories, my mom would say, “When are you going to finish that story I attacked with my red pen? It was good. I want to know what happens.”

As I got older, she kept me surrounded by lots of good books to spark my imagination and give me examples of strong writing. (Okay, that was just because she and my dad love to read.) In high school she bought me a “How to write a novel” workbook to force me to finish my first book. And it worked! That’s how I finished the first book in the Grover Cleveland Academy series (which, much to my mother’s dismay, I will never publish, because it sucks).

If my mom ever doubted me, she never told me. If she ever thought that my becoming a published author was unachievable…nope, she never thought that.

And now here I am, a published author. Not famous or anything, but that was never my goal. I wanted my stories out there for other people to read, and that’s what’s happened. Did my mom one of the biggest reasons for my accomplishments? Yes. Yes she is.

All of this rambling to say, thanks, Mom, for being the best mom an author could ever have. I hope I can be as supportive of my daughter whenever she finds out what she wants to be when she grows up.

 

Posted in Into the Flames, Personal

Dreams

In case you’ve forgotten, I have actually published a few things. Here’s the short list:

  • Grover Cleveland Academy series
    • 1: Into the Flames
    • 2: Diving In
  • Tales from Pocatello: short stories
    • 1: The Soldier and Kerri
    • 2: A Telling
    • 3: Starcrossed

 

(P1) The Soldier and Kerri(P2) A Telling(P3) Starcrossed

And now it’s time for the much longer list. The list of things I want to finish. All of these I’ve been sporadically writing on over the past few years. It’s a lot, and as you can see I like to waste time writing lists instead of actually writing, but I have hopes that someday they will all be published. And so you can dream with me, behold:

  • Grover Cleveland Academy series
    • 3: To See Clearly
    • 4: Flying Free
    • 5: Title Pending
  • Tales from Pocatello: short stories
    • 4: Fire and Lightning
    • 5: Title Pending
    • 6: Ground Zero
    • 7: Ausrine
  • City of Orphans (stand alone novel from Pocatello)
  • Paranormal Series
    • Lost Causes
    • The Key of St. Hubert

 

Posted in Writing

In Case of Tornado…

What would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island? This common question is a game, of course. What about if your house were on fire, what is the one thing you would grab? This scenario is more plausible, but it’s still really a game, isn’t it?

Well here in Oklahoma, there’s a question I ask myself every year, and it’s not really a game: What would I grab if a tornado were coming toward my house?

That’s right, gentle readers, it’s tornado season, and despite my exterior of nonchalance, I’m getting kinda antsy. It probably has something to do with the fact that I have fewer phalanges in my hands and feet than friends and family members whose houses have been affected, if not outright destroyed, by tornadoes. Even my antique typewriter is rumored to be a two-time tornado survivor.

The most frightened for my house I have ever been was two years ago. About a week after the big kahuna of tornadoes destroyed half of Moore, another big one was forming a few miles west of there. For about half an hour it looked like it was going to come right through Mustang, where we lived. I grabbed my computer, a stack of diapers, half of the laundry in the dryer, the dog, and my children, and headed to the tornado shelter.

A mere two weeks ago, another tornado was coming at our new house. I grabbed my computer, toddler underwear, the dog, and my children, and headed to the tornado shelter again. This one also missed us, but the torrential rain and hail that followed in its wake literally flooded our street. We were fortunate, but many of our neighbors were not.

So I guess my question has been answered, and the kids and clean undies win the day.

But here’s my confession. There was something else I really wanted to grab both times, but I didn’t because it would be too selfish and time consuming. (And really, really heavy.)

notebooks

I know it’s stupid, but I would really regret it if something happened to these notebooks. I know that everything written in them is nothing more than a teenager’s scribbles. When I die, no one is going to look in them and go, “Wow, this this is brilliant! It should be published posthumously!” There is nothing to be salvaged here. Not a single predictable plot line, not one shallow, cliched character. No turns of phrases here that will make someone pause and think about life.

But if a tornado comes and destroys my house and these notebooks get tossed into the winds, or if a flood rises up into our bedroom and blots the words out of these pages, I will cry. A lot. And a part of me will be lost forever.

And now, to quote the Doctor:

We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?

Posted in Personal, Writing

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

IMG_20150424_073940Eats, Shoots and Leaves isn’t a technical editing guide, but it is fun to read about the foundations of grammar and identify with the author’s struggles. It’s always good to know that we sticklers of punctuation are not alone. Only, if you get paid to be a stickler, you’re called an editor. And that’s awesome.

My favorite part of Eats, Shoots and Leaves is how Lynne Truss gives the history of many parts of punctuation. It’s not something I would have thought to worry about, but it explains a lot of the problems people have now with punctuation. Like with commas, for example. Lynne explains that commas were first used as marks to indicate where to pause and breathe when people were reading aloud. Marks to clarify the meaning of a sentence were rare and added sparingly lest the original author’s meaning be changed.

Over the centuries, however, commas started being added more and more as writers (and editors) felt that more clarification was needed, leading instead to more confusion and to lots of readers hyperventilating.

Rules, therefore, have been created regarding commas so that people will stop adding them willy nilly and getting everybody confused.

 

I find it rather amusing these days when people say that they inserted or omitted a comma in their writing because it “sounded right.” Because of this some people end up adding a lot more commas than we need, or putting them in places of personal preference rather than where the rules dictate that they go.

The reason it sounded correct is because we are used to hearing the rules, even if they are not taught to us, not necessarily because it is where we would naturally take a pause.

But there is little doubt that after all these millennia of trial and error, punctuation is necessary. A tiny little mark can mean the difference between life and death for poor Grandma. So let’s all learn the correct placement of our punctuation, okay?

Posted in Editing

Keeping Up with CMOS

A couple years ago for Christmas I bought my mom the hardback copy of the 16th edition Chicago Manual of Style, and she loved it.

I didn’t grow up to be an editor because my mom is an editor. Well, maybe I did. But that’s not the point. The point is that we (as well as most of the rest of our family) have a love of grammar in common and we often spend a lot of time commiserating over many people’s incorrect use of it.

The other day my mom was complaining about one of her client’s (let’s call him “my brother”) unnecessary addition of commas. I hate unnecessary commas as much as the next person, but in this case, I informed my mother, my brother was correct and the commas should have remained. She was certain that she was right, but I explained the rule and advised her to look it up in the handy manual I bought her.

I then decided it was best to review her understanding of that vs. which, and found that she was wrong on that as well. She assured me that the rule she stated was correct–at least, it had been many years ago when she started editing. And that probably was the rule then. But unfortunately, language is mutable, and therefore so are its rules.

This experience with my mom was a good reminder to me that it’s important to stay current with grammar rules. That’s why I’m taking some time to look over the old editing books that I have as well as checking out some new ones. As I go through them, I’ll attempt to share some of their nuggets of wisdom with you.

In the meantime, here’s the rules I reviewed with my mom.

  • Commas in restrictive and nonrestrictive appositives. CMOS states, “A word, abbreviation, phrase, or clause that is in apposition to a noun (i.e., provides an explanatory equivalent) is normally set off by commas if it is nonrestrictivethat is, if it can be omitted without obscuring the identity of the noun to which it refers.” It continues, “If, however, the word or phrase is restrictivethat is, provides essential information about the noun (or nouns) to which it refersno commas should appear.”
    • Example of the first: Ursula’s husband, Jan, is also a writer. (Ursula has only one husband.)
    • Example of the second: O’Neill’s play The Hairy Ape was being revived. (O’Neill wrote a number of plays.)
  • “Which” vs. “That”. CMOS’s explanation is lengthy, so I’ll just say that if the information is integral to the sentence and leaving it out changes the meaning of the sentence, use “that.” If it’s unnecessary, superfluous, or in any way extra, use “which.” “Which” requires a comma. “That” does not.
    • Example of that: The version of the manuscript that the editors submitted to the publisher was well formatted.
    • Example of which: The final manuscript, which was well formatted, was submitted to the publisher on time.

 

Posted in Editing

An Editorial Personality

byNickHi, my name is Jessie, and I’m an ISTJ. That means I’m Inverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judgmental. It means I like schedules, to-do lists, and rules. It means I find pleasure in rote tasks and focusing on small details. It means that I love editing!

Over the past few months I haven’t had a chance to edit much more than friends’ posts on Facebook. Which I’m not actually going to do because that’s rude and there’s only so many times you can lament a misused your/you’re before it gets boring.

I’m working to change that and challenge myself to be a better editor. If you want to help me be better by giving me a manuscript to work on, please do!

In the meantime, I’ll be trying out some new editing books, rereading some old ones, and digging into the Chicago Manual of Style for some buffing up.

Here’s some tried and true editing and writing books that I recommend:

And of course, I’ll be doing a lot of reading! Because the best way to learn how to read well is to read good books, and I think the same thing goes for editing. Here’s what’s on my to-read list for this year:

Sounds something like a list of things to do. And if there’s nothing I love more than a list, then it’s a plan to make a list.

So yeah, that’s me. Welcome!

Posted in Editing

End of Summer Review

Gentle readers, it feels like this summer has fairly flown by. I kept waiting for the Oklahoma summer heat to hit us, and now that it has, everybody is going back to school. The days have been filled with kiddie pools, treks to the park, dragging the toddlers to the library, and an [un]healthy dose of Braum’s shakes and Sonic slushes. But now that August is more than halfway over and I am wishing for bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils, I look back and realize that I did manage to get a lot of book-ish things done this summer. Maybe not all the things I was planning, but when all’s said and I done, I can’t complain. Behold:

Summer opened with the release of my newest short story, Starcrossed, which you can purchase for your Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader for only 99c!

With that story out of the way, I was able to focus on the second edition of Diving In (Grover Cleveland Academy 2) with its shiny new cover that matches the new cover of Into the Flames!

Diving In_cover_Redo

In June I beta read a novel for a friend and also edited a short story of hers, which is now out in the digi-verse, if you want to check it out. I really like editing and it was good to get some done for someone else, even if it was just for a short story. (Pssst, don’t forget I am available for all your editing needs!)

Somehow I managed to write on a number of different projects, and it’s kept my creative spirits high. Even when I’m not writing, I am thinking about the characters and plot lines. Here’s what’s been on the forefront of my mind the past three months.

  • Lightning and Fire, my fourth Tale from Pocatello, is coming along nicely. I’m in part three (of three)!
  • Julia v. David  will probably never be published, but I like to work on it in my spare time.
  • To See Clearly, Grover Cleveland Academy book three, is nearing completion. On this draft, anyway. I’m in chapter nine (of thirteen)!
  • Ground Zero, my sixth Tale from Pocatello, is starting to take shape. Last week it was merely a vague concept of a story I wanted to write, and now it’s got a backstory, two main characters, and five thousand words of plot! I’m really excited about this short story. Hopefully I will continue to be excited about it until its publication, which may not be for a couple of years.

In addition to all this writing, editing, and publishing, I’ve also read some stuffs! I’ll go ahead and brag. You can read all my book reviews on my Goodreads profile.

  • Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
  • Cinder (Lunar Chronicles 1) by Marissa Meyer
  • Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles 2) by Marissa Meyer
  • Cress (Lunar Chronicles 3) by Marissa Meyer
  • Summer Knight (Dresden Files 4) by Jim Butcher
  • Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters (It’s a comic, but it totally counts!)
  • The Topic of Serpents (Lady Trent Memoir 2) by Marie Brennan
  • Only Human (Doctor Who) by Gareth Roberts
  • EarthWorld (Doctor Who) by Jacqueline Rayner

And that’s my list of what I’ve done this summer! What did you create? Did you read any good books by the pool? Make a fort and create a new fantastical world? Try a new recipe? Let me know!

Posted in Personal, Pocatello