In Writing-Nothing in Technology is Full Proof

In my last post I shared my disappointment with missing another self-imposed deadline for July. But I concluded that post with a declaration of getting back to writing. And that’s just what I did. Since that last post, I have writing and revising my manuscript according to new detail that I realized needed to be included in the storyline. Everything was going well until I opened up my Google document and noticed that the last paragraph I added earlier that day had someone duplicated itself into multiple areas of the document!

WTF!

It was late in then evening. I thought my eyes were deceiving me. So I sat up on my bed and immediately notice that my page count had gone form 200-something to 360.

HUH! Another WTF!

I literally had no idea how this happened. And the worst part is that the platform wouldn’t even allow me to select any part of the chapter to delete it.

My heart sunk! My mind flashed back to a issue I encountered when using the Scrivener software when I started writing this novel. I was nearly done with the first draft when all of sudden that file wouldn’t open! Seriously wouldn’t open. I later learned that I had neglected to update the software for the current version of my MacBook.

I thought working in Google Docs would prevent any craziness from occurring during my writing process but clearly no technology is void of potential problems.

The good thing about Google Docs, however, is that every version of your document is saved soooooo all was not lost–except the 778 words that I had added earlier that day. It wasn’t that hard to retype another what I had already written once I got over the annoyance of having to retype it. Arrgh!

Now, since that foolishness occurred when using a work computer, I have avoided using that computer since. And now, more than ever, I’m closing out Docs and signing out of Google each time I use it. Hopefully, nothing like this happens again.

If you’ve had anything like that happen to you, please share how you dealt with it.

SideNote: As much as I was enjoying using Scrivener, I haven’t used it since. I had no way of knowing when the software was no longer compatible with my Mac so I won’t chance it again.

Another Month, Another Deadline

I know I’m wasn’t alone in my sadness when it was time to flip the calendar from July to August. After all, August is the official last month of summer. And, particularly, in the Midwest, where I live, it means that hot days, the kind where I can where shorts, tank-tops, and flip-flops are short-lived. As a writer with, yet another self-imposed deadline to finish developmental edits for a novel I’m writing, flipping the calendar was beyond sad, closer to depressing. If you follow my blog, you’ll know I started working on these edits a year ago when I left my job of 23 years. For the first time in my adult life, I was off for the summer. Suddenly having that much free time while adjusting to this major life change, it goes without saying that I wasn’t in the headspace to give my writing the necessary attention. So when the following July came, a complete year since I left the job and I still hadn’t finished the edits, I declared, “Enough is enough! Time to stop playing with this novel!” Then, I declared I would finish this work by July 31st!

I set out with this goal WITHOUT a strategy for how I would make this happen. I didn’t sit down and look at my schedule to determine what days and hours I would have time to write. For instance, there was a Friday that I was not scheduled to work, and would have written on that day, but I had to drive my son up to Michigan State University for a week he was spending there. And then, that following Friday, when I was off of work, I had to pick him up. It’s only an hour drive from our house, but dealing with kids and colleges is unpredictable. It can be a lot, physically and mentally.

My first MSU alum with my future 2nd MSU alum

Then, the last three days of the month, I travelled to New York to help my friend celebrate her 40th birthday.

Arriving in New York after 7 hr delay in airport. We still managed to smile!

Furthermore, I didn’t even look through the manuscript to determine how many chapters were left to edit, how many I would need to work through per writing session to finish by the deadline. I didn’t think about doing that until the middle of the month. That was also right about the time when I made a major change to the protagonist, which then, sent me back to beginning of the novel to infuse those changes into the story. I knew then that my deadline was out the window, but it was doomed from the start without proper planning.

I don’t like to say this about myself, but the proof is in the pudding. I have never done well with self-accountability. Not with diets, exercise schedules, or writing. I’m too quick to give myself passes when something gets hard. I rationalize the hell of stuff.

“Life is too short to not indulge these bagels and donuts that management was so kind to bring into work,” I’ve been known to say when I’m supposed to avoiding carbs.

“Is this flabby stomach really preventing you from living a fulfilling life?” I have asked myself when I was on day 4 of a 30 day ab challenge.

“You’re not a full-time writer. You can’t expect yourself to write like you are. Your daughter needs to talk to you. You’re a new grandmother. You’re nurturing a new relationship.” I comfort myself when I find myself breaking a scheduled writing session when any of the important people in my life call. I feel such guilt when I put them on DND (do not disturb).

Sometimes I curse the day I decided to write a book. Even more so the day when I declared I actually wanted success as an author–the kind of success in which I could actually make money and support myself. Even knowing that it’s only a small percentage of writers who are privileged to live that life, I’m not ready to give up on the dream of me being one of them. In the meantime, I will continue to do better. Create some accountability partners, no matter how terrifying that is to me.

Now back to these edits…

Who Are They Series? Lydia Love

She’s an oldie but goodie! The one who started it all! If you read Unfinished Business, you’re very familiar with this lady right here. That silly, lost woman who kicked a good man to the curb to backslide into an old relationship with a man who has only broken her heart.

In the current story, Lydia is the supporting friend to Kania. She isn’t nearly as silly as she was in the first book, making herself available to a man who means her no good. No good at all! Instead, as a happily married woman, she is one of the main voices of reason to Kania, much like Kania was to her in Unfinished Business.

She’s still ultra independent, though she’s married to Roy, a man who adores her and can more than take care of both of them and their child as the owner of a successful local chain of auto supply stores.

Interesting Things to Know About Lydia:

She’s an only child.

Her favorite workout class has changed from Kickboxing to Barre.

She loves to cook. Her recent thing is making pasta from scratch.

Her favorite movie is Imitation of Life.

Her favorite activity with her husband Roy is taking long, scenic drives

She’s low-key resentful of Kania’s budding friendship with Pastor Yolanda but she’d never let on to Kania

Who Are They Series? Kenneth

The lucky lady that this man, with her mesmerizing brown eyes, full-kissable lips, and sly grin, belongs to is none other than my main character, Kania. Making his name start with a “K” like Kania’s was pure happenstance, but it fit perfectly for the nickname their friends’ gave them–K-Squared. He is the man who captured Kania’s hear while it law school and properly turned her out! Got her exploring things in the bedroom that she never thought she was capable of. But, like women often do, she went along to get along with her man and to explore her own curiosities.

In the novel, we’ll see how Kenneth responds when he notices his wife altering their once agreed upon activities in their relationship after she starts hanging out with her pastor friend and what secrets he may have.

What else would you like to know about this handsome guy?

Who Are They Series?–Kania

Kania LyShay Johnson

I named my current main character so many years ago(1996) that when I started writing her story (2017), it wasn’t even an option to give her a name with any significance to her story. Kania LyShay Johnson was created as a supporting character in my debut novel, Unfinished Business. In that book, the main character had two best friends that were on the sideline of her journey to closing the revolving door she had with her first love. I was twenty-one years old when I started that novel so my point of reference for friends had been my own. Kania’s name is so similar to one of friend’s actual name that when I speak about the actual character or say her name in my head, I actually come close to saying my actual friend’s name. But it’s not just the name of my character that’s similar to my friend. Their physical features and personalities were similar too. Petite, shapely frame, curious brown eyes, smooth dark brown skin. She’s a smart, often thinking she knows more than everyone else, sassy, and no-nonsense. She’s the calm and cool friend of the trio, always having her friends back and setting them straight when necessary.

That was the gist of the character development in that first novel, created waaaayyy back in the late 90’s. Fast forward to the 21st century, Kania, being written by 40-something L.A. Jefferson, has evolved into a complex, flawed woman, walking backwards on the right path. She’s bumping into stuff, falling backwards and forwards trying to do the right thing, the wrong way. I could not fathom my real friend, who has chosen to literally unfriend me in recent months, experiencing the dilemma that today’s Kania is living in.

At the onset of writing this novel, I enjoyed paying homage to my friend with this character that mirrored her friendship in my life. Not so much lately.

Nevertheless, I’m excited to bring you Kania’s story. Stay tuned!

Naturally Yours,

LA

The Writing Continues: 3rd Novel Loading

The story of Kania Johnson, the third and final friend introduced in my debut novel Unfinished Business, is loading for publishing in the early fall of 2022. I started writing her story sometime in 2017, maybe 2016, when I realized she needed a story. Her character evolved from the friend getting married in Unfinished Business, to the friend who transformed from being career driven to mom driven in my second book, Reconciliation to Hell. Her relationship and marriage appeared perfect, untouchable from the vantage point of her friends. But no marriage is safe from strife and temptation. Kania, and her husband, Kenneth, are no different.

So the question,then, became, what should this well-put together, loving couple encounter to test their marriage? How about a threesome partner, a pastor, and a family secret? Sound juicy? I hope so!

I was having a ball creating this story in the writing software, Scrivener, and just when I decided to a do a copy and paste from that software to Google docs, the software crashed! YIKES!

Let me tell y’all..I was thanking God for the spirit that led me to back up my work or else I would have been starting from scratch. But here I am 3 years later, in the rewrite stage following a developmental edit of the book last summer.

Just to give you a snippet of what it’s like to rewrite based on a developmental edits, here ya go:

But at this mid-point of January, I’m trudging along making progress everyday. I’ve set a had goal to get through the edits by March 1st. I’ll definitely keep you posted.

Naturally Yours,

LA

Happy Founder’s Day DST

Today, January 13th, is the founding day of my illustrious sorority. We are 109 years old and still doing the work of our 22 founders with over 1000 collegiate and alumnae chapters around the world.

I’ve been a proud member of this organization since December 16, 2012. But the love I have for the organization didn’t always feel reciprocated.

I wrote a story about it. Wanna hear it, here it goes…

My story, Sisterhood, is one of the 101 stories of love, courage, and hope featured in this collection of stories written by Black women. You can purchase it, mostly, anywhere books are sold.

Learning From the Pros

I’m not sure when I learned of Brown Girls Books but I remember being excited about this venture created by two bestselling Black authors, my Soror, Victoria Christopher Murray, and her best friend and writing partner, ReShonda Billingsley Tate. At the time, I remember being determined to reach their level of literary success. Then I continued along my journey of writing my second novel at the time.

Last week I attended the second of their four popup writing workshops scheduled this month. The first was a beginning writer’s workshop called, Facing the Blank Page. With 20 years of writing experience that includes two published books, two stories published in anthologies, and most recently, my first story published in Chicken Soup For The Soul, I’m pretty confident that I know how to tell a story. However, the second workshop called Is Your Story Plot Driven or Character Driven and what you need to know for both, piqued my interest. For the record, I’ve always considered my fiction stories to be plot driven. At the conclusion of the workshop, I knew I was right. But it was good to hear authors deeply meshed in the industry to explain the difference between the two. Victoria made it clear that while your book needs to be a bit of both, it’s important for the author to know what’s driving their story forward. Got it!

I enjoyed everything about the workshop and I’m looking forward to the next two that I registered for this month, Tools every author can use and How to become a Bestseller. But the part that really excited me during last week’s workshop was the confirmation that I’m doing many things that these bestselling authors are doing in their writing including the two things below:

1. Using actual pictures for your character profiles for better descriptions! I started doing that with my second novel, Reconciliation to Hell, and doing the same for my current WIP.

2. Including subplots within the main plot. I credit that to being an avid reader. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to write a novel. Well, I kinda did BUT I did knowing full well what makes a good story and that’s multi-dimensional characters. Characters need to feel like real people. And when you think of a real person dealing with marital problems, aren’t they still dealing with issues at work or with other people at the same time, right. That makes for an interesting story and characters.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Next week I’ll post about the next workshop I attend.

Yours Naturally,

L.A.

I Quit My Job of 23 Years—The Vlog

So I haven’t posted since the brief series about leaving my job of 23 years to pursue a new beginning. That’s not because I haven’t had anything to blog about. I decided to do something a little different, more real time, to chronicle this journey—Vlog. I like this raw, authentic process of recording this journey. Check it out. Subscribe if you like it or not. Lol.

I’m Speaking Now

When you have a goal, it’s important to keep it at the forefront of your mind. Several years ago, I jumped on the dream board bandwagon. I put all the things that I wanted on the board from declaring myself a bestselling author to purchasing a home.

I’m blocking the board, showing off a hairstyle (lol) BUT this was vision board, which I kept hanging in my cubicle for like 4-5 yrs.

I also put on there to become a contributor for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I’d never purchased one of these books, until recently, but I’d always been aware of them and somehow or another one or two of their books found a home on my bookshelf. Currently, I have the Chicken Soup for the Forgiveness Soul and Chicken Soup for the Couples Soul. I can’t remember when I decided that my personal stories could find a home within their books, but I started keeping an eye on their website for topics I could write about. In fact, now that I think about, I have to credit Dr. Mary Edwards for sharing the publishing opportunity with me. I met her when she was a vendor at my workplace, selling her books. After she shared the story of how her first book, Born Grown, came to be, we were instant friends. That day she also told me about her writing experience with Chicken Soup For the Soul. She’d been published multiple times and asked to be a judge for the stories at one time. She added me to her mailing list and would periodically send the list of topics the publication was looking for. I was so interested that I started going directly to Chicken Soup’s site to check for myself.

The first story I submitted was for a book called Home Sweet Home. My story wasn’t selected but I didn’t give up. Sometimes I would go several months without checking the site, but I was always reminded of what my goal was when I looked at the dream board hanging in front of me in my cubicle. Though I submitted quite a few times, there were only a few in which I knew I put my heart and soul into the story I penned. “Sisterhood”, the story that was selected for the I’m Speaking Now book was one of those stories. I wrote about two very significant events in my life: becoming a member of my beloved sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and losing my husband, Kevin. Both events were life-changing and that came across in my writing.

I just love how God shows up in my life. I stand on the promises of His word. In the Bible, scripture says that God WILL give you the desires of your heart. Scripture says all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. Scripture says faith without works is dead.

I’m here to testify what God has done for me. He has given me the desires of my heart. I didn’t sit back and just wait for it to happen. I continued to write and read the books to learn what kind of stories they published. I also prayed for this to happen and had faith that it would happen.

It may not have come when I wanted it–the first time I submitted, but it has come right on time. It is no coincidence that my first story is published in this particular book. The editors of Chicken Soup knew that this was the time to share the stories of the Black woman. And they wanted new voices for this book. One of the emails I received from them stated that they selected quite a few new contributors. This is only the 2nd time in the book’s history that they’ve dedicated a book for African American stories. Every book in this story is written by a black woman, sharing a story pertinent to her life as a Black woman. This is book is going to be a bestseller. And my story is in it!

DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!

Naturally Yours,

L.A.