Running and Writing…

And no, I’m not talking about running AWAY from writing. ūüôā I’m talking about the sport of running and writing. They’re more alike than you might think. With NaNoWriMo coming up, I’ve been looking at my writing habits and preparing. It made me start thinking about perspective.

I ran a 5K last weekend. While that’s not all that uncommon since I run about that twice a week, this one was an organized race over unfamiliar terrain. The first mile was a piece of cake. I had a good pace for me despite the cold air (I’m asthmatic). I couldn’t help but think that I was just getting warmed up and that I just might make my goal time of 33 mins. I was excited and ready to go.

And then we turned a corner and stretched out in front of me between the mile one marker and the mile two was a hill. I’m not talking about a gentle slope. I’m talking about a hill that stretched as far as I could see at about a sixty degree incline. For nearly half a mile, I concentrated on breathing and just putting one foot in front of the other. As I turned the corner at the turning point, I thought…”Wow, this is just like the middle of a book. It’s hard, but I made it! It’s all downhill from here.”

So, downhill I ran. And then, as I jogged around the bend in the road having gotten my breath back and geared up to pick up the pace to make-up that lost ground from the climb, there was another hill. While not as steep, it was intimidating, especially since I had just set my mind to a downhill mentality. Nearly at the top of it, I could see the mile two clock ticking. I wanted to cry. But I didn’t. I took a deep breath and started chugging up that hill. I crossed the second mile clock having added a minute and a half to my pace. I felt discouraged, but thought I could make the time up on the last mile. So I picked up the pace and ran on.

I turned the last corner to head back to the finish line and realized that there was no downhill portion to that last mile. The slope was gentle, but it was definitely uphill. By this time, my lungs hurt, my breathing was ragged, and my playlist wasn’t doing anything to motivate me.

I knew my goal was out the window. But I could still finish. I would not quit. And so I did. I crossed the finish line at 38:57 – a full six minutes off my goal. While there was satisfaction with finishing, the disappointment outweighed it.

As I walked to cool down and remind my body that oxygen was a necessity of life, grateful that my husband had brought my inhaler with him, I found a smile…because running and writing really are related.

When I start a book, I have this phenomenal pace. I’ve got my notes, my prewriting, my characters, and my outline to guide me. Those first three chapters are so easy! And then, I hit my first hill. My pacing may be off, or my character’s may have a moment of inconsistency, or a wrinkle has blown up my plot outline. No matter what it is, the urge to not climb that hill lingers with every keystroke.

As I muscle through the manuscript’s hills, I remind myself how good it’s going to feel when it’s finished. I mark off the calendar dates, chart the word-count, and watch the finish line draw closer with single-minded focus.

For NaNoWriMo, I’m working on DEFYING DESTINY, Ladies of St. George Book 3. For those of you keeping count, SAVING PRISCILLA is Ladies of St. George Book 2 1/2. ūüôā It’s a novella so I’m not quite sure how I’m going to label it. For NaNo, I wanted to pitch myself into a book that I could run start to finish in November.

Also, STEALING GRACE is still under consideration. I hope to have an update soon. ūüôā Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

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More hours in the day?

As I write this, I am at my desk in our schoolroom monitoring my 5th grader who is enraptured by her math test. She must be because it’s now going on hour three. Sad thing is that she knows the material, but keeps daydreaming her time away. I sat her down to the test and cleaned the kitchen, put on laundry, got the floors ready to mop, stripped the beds…and checked on her to discover she had only answered four questions in the first hour. There are 28. *sigh*

Theoretically, I should be able to sit here and fiendishly write on Fridays. One of my sons is off at gifted class which lasts all day. The other is a self-starter who has already knocked his agenda out and curled up to read. Since I can’t move ahead without having his twin fall too far behind to manage his Sunday make-up, he’s effectively done. My daughter? Well, she’s just decided that if she throws a big enough tantrum over the math, I won’t make her do it. Since that tactic hasn’t worked since the day she was born, I can’t imagine why she thinks it might now.

So, instead of getting a jump start to cleaning so I can enjoy the long weekend and maybe squeeze in an unscheduled block of writing time, I’m sitting here watching her wallow in misery. It’s not fun.

And just like that, life has gotten in the way of my work yet again. Someone asked me the other day when I managed to sleep. I could only laugh. Angelic Avenger, my first book, was written between the bright hours of midnight and four a.m. Blood and Destiny¬†was written between four and six a. m. Stealing Grace¬†has been pounded out between the hours of 8:30 and midnight. Tiger by the Tail¬†doesn’t count because that was written during the day in about a week. It was short enough that I could ignore some of the daily routines to get it done. The same goes for Love at First Shot.

Where does a body draw the line? How important is sleep, anyway?

Our homeschooling day starts at 6:30. The self-starters come down and get a jump on their agendas while I fix breakfast. Math is scheduled for 7:30 to 8:30 on every day but Friday when it has to wait until we get back from carpool. If the kids are on the ball, we can get the core schoolwork done by lunch and knock out the electives right afterwards, just in time for Daddy to get home.

At that point, it’s odds and ends until four thirty or five when it’s time to start dinner for 6:00. After dinner, it’s clean-up, bathes, and last-minute wrap-ups for the day before bedtime, which coincidentally is 8:30.

That doesn’t include Monday when we have to break in the middle of the day for speech therapy, or Wednesday when we leave at eight and don’t see the house until three due to therapy sessions and music lessons.

I want to write more, faster, better every day, but man, where am I going to find the time? I know, I could put my children in school; however, my duty as a parent comes first. Where we are now, homeschooling is the best thing for them. One of my twins is ADHD/Asberger and he just doesn’t function well in a classroom. One day a week, he can manage, but not all day, every day. The others benefit from the one-on-one instruction, too…even if the daughter is taking three hours to finish her math today.

Today is one of those days when I envy people who have their children in school, or have a day job. I know it’s the frustration talking, the doubt that I’m doing the right thing, and sheer exhaustion. ¬†With a little luck, this will be the last year I have this schedule. We’re planning a move to Cherry Point, North Carolina, over the summer. Any one who has some details about the schools there? I’d love to hear them!

*ranting concluded*

Ah…the life of a writer…

There are a great many wonderful things involved with writing as a profession. ūüôā We get to set our own schedules, work as much (or as little) as we want, skip around talking to the voices in our heads, and get paid for all of it. But the freedom isn’t what I love most about my job.

What I love most is the ability to evolve. Contrary to my publishing schedule, I write a lot. Unfortunately, most of what I’ve been writing has been transitory. My style is evolving and I’ve been working hard to improve my craft. There has been a learning curve. I wrote two books that won’t be published during this phase. And they shouldn’t be. The writing in them both was inconsistent and simply are not up to standards. One of them was a St. George book while the other was an unrelated work. The lessons learned have been carried over to STEALING GRACE, my next St. George book.

STEALING GRACE is Milo’s story. For those of you who haven’t followed the St. George series, Milo is a selkie bull who fancies himself a technogeek. He makes his first appearance in BLOOD AND DESTINY. His heroine is a lady of St. George, Grace St. George. She is a high-end cat burglar. She’s quite the fire cracker! I can’t give away too much before STEALING GRACE is officially contracted, but I will say that you can catch a free sneak-peek short story available from my website. CHRISTMAS GRACE is set well before STEALING GRACE, so bear that in mind when you’re reading it. After all, what lady doesn’t have a past when she finally finds Mr. Right?

I love my St. George heroines! They’re feisty, independent, hard loving women who know how to take life by the horns. They also have a vulnerable side thanks to being raised in an orphanage. They all have their unique issues resulting from their respective backstories and experiences, but one of my favorite things about working with them is teaching them to trust enough to love.

*sigh* Now, I’m off to keep pounding on Grace (who has decided she doesn’t like the ending of her story). Watch for more news as it becomes available!

There’s something special in the air…CONTEST

Ah, October…

It’s a special month. The air is crisper and cleaner, the stars are brighter and the moon more luminous. Ideas dance on the wind as the world settles down for its long winter’s nap. October is my favorite month of the year, and not just because my birthday falls in the middle of it.

There’s just something about the way the weather changes that inspires me. Case and point? I’ve been writing like a fiend. Snippets of this, chapters of that, storing up my files for the next big dry spell.

Of course, I’m working on my next St. George book, too. It’s unfolding nicely.

And to celebrate the sudden surge of creativity, I’m having a contest! Some lucky someone who signs my guestbook at my website (www.kayechambers.com) between now and next Friday (November 3rd) will win a bag of special, limited edition, Godiva Gems – Caramel Apple Truffles.

ūüôā And just wait…Christmas is coming and we all know how I love to give away grand gifts…

*wink*

What a girl wants…

I’ve been getting a lot of flack lately.

I’m a military wife. ¬†My husband was deployed aboard the USNS Comfort for the Haitian Earthquake Relief effort. ¬†As the mission wound down and the Navy began to send extra staffers home, he asked what he should do if he were offered one of those tickets off the ship. ¬†Stay or go? ¬†My answer was STAY.

Everyone seems to have interpreted that as me not wanting him home. ¬†They have implied that I don’t care for him like I should. ¬†That I, in fact, do not love my husband. ¬†That I’m not interesting in sharing BLOOD AND DESTINY’s success with him because I do not value his opinion. ¬†Nothing could be further from the truth.

I would have loved to have had him holding my hand when BLOOD AND DESTINY jumped to the 2nd place spot on the MB&M’s top ten list, or any of the variety of lists it’s popped up on. ¬†It would have made the experience that much more complete. ¬†But it would have been incredibly selfish of me to expect it.

You see, we have children. ¬†Three delightfully precocious and exhausting elementary schoolers that I homeschool. ¬†The eldest is in third grade…and her FCAT testing was hanging over her head like Wylie Coyote’s Acme anvil. ¬†Because we homeschool, that standardized test is especially important because it tells me if we’re providing her with the level of education she needs to be academically successful.

Now, nothing would have made me happier than to have my husband fly in the door on the first plane home. ¬†However, after weeks apart, could my darling Daddy’s girl concentrate on doing her absolute best on her testing knowing that as soon as she’s done, she gets to come home and play with Daddy? ¬†Nope – she would have slapped down whatever answer caught her eye first and rushed through the test…bombing the score.

It’s about priorities and being able to put my personal wants and needs behind those of my children. ¬†My husband understands that and agrees with me. ¬†If he had been sent home before the testing cycle, we would have made it work so that it was as non-disrupting as possible. ¬†But, the best case scenario was for him to come home after the testing cycle completed so we could take an entire week off for Spring Break and everyone could enjoy the family time.

I gave up being able to satisfy my personal (and selfish) desires when I became a mother.  I can wander by a department store window and admire the outrageously priced display without grabbing my debit card to rush in to make a purchase.

Now days, I look at the price tag and equate it to how those funds are better allotted in our budget. ¬†After all, the kids have activities and lessons that will lay the foundation for their personalities and successes for their entire life. ¬†They don’t run cheap, either.

My life is in the years where I have become the sum of my experiences. ¬†There may or may not be triumphs and successes in my future. ¬†If there are, it’s gravy on a life already well lived.

My children are just starting. ¬†They’re building their personalities and sense of self-worth with every step they take. ¬†Every time they accomplish something, their faces light up and they glow with pride as they set the next goal higher.

So, yes.  Daddy will be home soon.  The testing cycle is over.  And my children are excited over Spring Break (which starts Monday).

BANG HEAD HERE!

I have a sign that says that with a bullseye on it. ¬†It’s supposed to be for stress relief. ¬†Unfortunately, I’m having heart-pounding, anxiety-laden stress attacks for no good reason.

BLOOD AND DESTINY is doing well.  The reader feedback has been awesome and the reviews have been favorable.

My husband, while still in Haiti, is anticipating a safe return home SOON.

My current WIP (the follow-up St. George novel) is smokin’. ¬†The words are flying on the pages and I’ve had to adjust the outline to filter in all the new ideas and developments. ¬†The flood gates of creativity are open.

My children are excited about school again and seem to be over the struggle brought on by the winter doldrums.  We have scheduled Spring Break next week because their renewed dedication has put them well ahead in their work.

So why am I on the verge of panic attacks? ¬†Simply put, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I’ve always been the glass is in the middle kind of person…neither half-full or half-empty. ¬†It’s been my experience that life comes with an innate sense of balance. ¬†The highs are balanced by lows. ¬†And, in my case, in rapid fire succession. ¬†This many good things can’t possibly be happening at the same time.

Or can it? ¬†Do you believe in serendipity? ¬†That fate sometimes plays a hand in bettering one’s fortunes?

I do. ¬†And I find myself closing my eyes to calm my pounding heart and offering up a little prayer of thanks for the good things. ¬†And when I open them, I promise myself that if (or when) the pendulum swings back the other way, I’ll smile and remember that everything happens for a reason…and with a little balance.

Holiday Cheer…

I went to the grocery sans husband and children yesterday.  It was my effort to get the hated deed done before the chaotic crowds started.  I was glad I did.  It offered me the opportunity to do a fair bit of people watching while I marked things from my list.

The biggest change in the store was the patrons.  Instead of couples or women doing the weekly shopping, the majority of fellow shoppers were fathers with children in tow, most clutching lists and looking a touch frantic.  More than one stopped to text from his phone more than once.

Some of the children were wonderfully well-behaved…and others, not so much. ¬†Both extremes were vastly entertaining.

That’s one of the things I love about the holiday season – watching the people. ¬† Have you ever just sat and watched strangers as they bustle about in the malls, grocery stores, and streets?

Imagine a day in their lives… Hum. ¬†I think I already do that when I sit down to write every day.

Merry Christmas!