Cute Pet Pictures and Finishing a Novel

 

It all began in 2006 with a trip to the Chautauqua Institute. I had heard that Highlights had a wonderful week long program for writers. I wanted to learn more about writing for children. I drove from Michigan where I had been staying for the summer to New York and discovered the world of Chautauqua.

There have been times in my life when I see something and immediately get chills as if what I’m looking at is special but I don’t fully understand the significance it will have in my life. It happened when I first saw my husband walk across the lobby of our apartment building in Hollywood. It happened when I stood on a lot that wasn’t for sale and knew it was where I wanted to build our home. And it happened when I walked into the Chautauqua Institute.

There was a lot going on in my life at the time. Arielle had been injured three years earlier in a car accident. My marriage was not strong. I had been working an outrageous number of hours. Our family had been separated for four months while we took turns living between Florida and Michigan so Arielle could try an intense physical therapy program. I was exhausted, confused, keeping all emotions locked up tight, living day to day in constant busyness.

Chautauqua was life changing for me. I finally slowed down long enough to listen from within and discover my true path. Just like Billy Crystal in City Slickers, I went on a journey and found what was most important.

That week, I attended a class on writing fantasy novels. I sat, listened and became inspired. I remember thinking; I want to try it-why not? Looking back it’s easy to see why writing about a hero’s journey appealed to me. I was on my own journey.

Driving home from New York to Florida, I began to create my characters. I took notes along the way. I came home and got started. It took me from August 2006 to Aug. 27, 2008 to finish Mystic. It was 350 pages and over 72,000 words. I had been working full time, so most of my writing took place on the weekends. My family was very patient.

May of 2009 I attended a Highlights workshop with the same teacher who had originally inspired me, Patti Gauch. I brought Mystic, sat and listened again and realized I had a lot of rewriting to do.

I flew home inspired, posted notes that read- Energy, Obsession, Texture-on top of my computer, constant reminders of what I had learned. I worked almost everyday (I took a little vacation to North Carolina) from the end of May to Sunday October 18th. I rewrote Mystic. I cut over 80 pages and 17,000 words. Our family celebrated with banana splits.

Tomorrow I leave for the second half of my workshop in Boyd’s Mills, Pa. I don’t know what will happen with Mystic but I do know I will enjoy every minute of my workshop. There is something special that happens when a group of writers get together and share their passion for writing. I am the happiest and most peaceful I have ever been in my life and that’s what matters most.

 Here are chapters 1-16 with two of my favorite writing buddies- coffee and chocolate!

Bella was very happy for me!

Nahla’s snoring created the perfect background noise while I typed.

Mama Duck flew in to express her congratulations.Ollie was in awe.

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The Picture Book Review

Reviews of Children's Board Books, Picture Books, Activity Books, and Graphic Novels

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