How Do I Know When My Story Is Done?

Like so many questions about writing, this one is difficult to answer. Technically speaking, your story is never really done. There are always ways to change it and improve it. However, at some point, you have to make the decision that the story is good enough. You have to say that you aren’t going to make any more changes.

This can be difficult. It can be hard to know if the story is “good enough.” After all, we are our own worst critics, so we never believe that our work is “good.”

One thing that might help is to have others read your story. Start with an editor (or two), so you can fix any content or character problems. Then, you’ll need to make sure your grammar and sentence structure are correct. After your story has gone through a few rounds of editing with a professional editor, then you can send it to beta readers.

Beta readers play an incredibly important role in the writing process, and it’s a job that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Like an editor, beta readers give you suggestions on how to improve your story. In most cases, beta readers have not been trained as editors, but as readers, they know what works in a story and what doesn’t.

The goal of your story should be to invoke some type of emotional response in your reader. To do this, they have to understand what your story is about, what emotions you are trying to convey, and react to your characters in either a good or bad way (not all characters have to be likable). If you haven’t accomplished this goal, then you’ve probably failed in your writing attempt. That means you probably need to go back and rework your story.

Editors and beta readers are great resources for helping you achieve your writing goal. They can point out flaws and plot holes, along with ways to improve them. However, keep in mind that everyone who reads your book will bring their own experiences and biases to the work. No two people will react to it the same way—and that can further complicate if you view your story as finished or not.

Every reader is unique, and even if readers aren’t reacting the same way to your story, if they are still reacting, you’ve probably accomplished your goal. Some will love it, and some will hate it, but as long as they aren’t saying, “Huh? I don’t get it,” then you’re on the right track. (Side note: there still may be a few readers who are confused by your story, but as long as the majority of them aren’t having this issues, you’ll be just fine!)

In the end, no matter what an editor or a beta reader says, you are still the creator of the story, you get final say in what gets changed and what doesn’t. Editors and beta readers will have different ideas of how a scene should play out or about a character’s personality, but you get to make the final determination if you take their suggestions or not.

Writing is both a simple and complicated process. There are rules, but there aren’t any rules. When it comes to creating, most of the time you have to follow your heart and your head to determine when the story is done.

What Are Some of Your Best Things?

With the end of the year upon us, now is the time to look back at the year and review the good and the bad. Hopefully, you’ll focus more on the good than the bad. While both of them have influenced your life, it’s best to focus on the positive.

I’d like to know: what are some of the best things that have happened to you this year?

They don’t have to be major, they can be small things. Sometimes getting out of bed and showering is a victory. Other times, getting a new job or publishing a book can be great accomplishments. What are some of yours?

I’m also curious to know what you’re looking forward to in 2018. Again, it doesn’t have to be major, just share something positive.

Let’s send 2017 out on a positive note and bring in 2018 with optimism and hope!

I Seriously Don’t Handle Medical Emergencies Well

In the past, I’ve talked about how super well I handle medical emergencies for my kids, but when it comes to my pets, I’m just as special. Over the weekend, I was reminded how I have a hard time dealing with medical emergencies.

I blame the vast majority of my coping issues on my anxiety. When something happens, adrenaline instantly shoots through my body (as I’m sure it does for everyone), but that is then followed by a slideshow of worst-case scenarios that play through my brain. Every horrible, life-changing and threatening idea crosses my mind, which, as you can imagine, increases my stress and worry.

Past experiences also influence how I react to current emergencies. Some of you may recall the incident that occurred with the first corgi I ever owned. Since then, I’m convinced that any little thing that happens to my dogs will have deadly consequences. The vet in Laramie was used to and incredibly patient and caring when I called numerous times to ask questions, and the vet here in Nebraska has just had their first taste of my neurosis.

On Saturday, both of the corgis (Floki and Siggy) went to the vet for their yearly vaccinations. It was our first trip there since moving, and I was incredibly impressed by the facilities and the doctor. She was incredibly kind and helpful. We left with no issues.

There will be plenty of pictures of Floki, but heres one of Siggy hangin on the couch.

Later that evening, I was working on my computer while the dogs played in my office. At one point, Floki was laying on his back on the bed panting. I asked him if he was hot, and he just looked at me with his big brown eyes. A few moments later, he moved to lay near the wall, and that’s when I noticed the swelling around his eyes.

You can kind of tell from this picture that hes puffier than normal.

My heart leaped into my throat and I immediately looked up the vet’s number on the internet (it’s saved in my phone now). I could tell that it was an allergic reaction, and the first thing that ran through my mind was that he was going to swell up and asphyxiate. I had to get him to the vet as soon as possible.

Since it was a Saturday night, the answering service picked up. It explained that it was an emergency answering service only and that they couldn’t take general questions or regular appointments. It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get through the message, and I was sure my dog was going to go into convulsions before I could talk to anyone. Finally, I was told that if I wanted to proceed I needed to hit #1—which I did.

I did my best to speak slowly and coherently and not forget to leave my number. I then held the phone next to my chest and waited for the doctor to call back. I realized that standing like that was only going to add to my anxiety, so I tried to busy myself with other tasks so I didn’t go insane. I started to fold laundry, mumbling under my breath the entire time that the vet needed to call me back.

She did. Probably within 10 minutes of sending the message.

I told her what was going on, and she said that it probably wasn’t the vaccinations that caused the reaction but could possibly have been a spider bite. She asked if I had Benadryl in the house, and I went on a search. Of course, I didn’t, so I rushed to the store.

Another super fun fact about me is that it makes me anxious to take and distribute medicine. Even after the vet gave me instructions—that I wrote down—on how much Benadryl to give Floki, I checked it about 100 times, then still felt uncomfortable about giving him meds—even though I knew he needed them!

I contemplated giving him a half dose or a kid’s dose, then I told myself that the vet met Floki earlier that day, she knew how much he weighed, and she was the doctor, so I gave him the amount she told me to give him.

On the plus side, aside from being puffy, Floki never acted any different than normal. He was still his sweet, curious self. He shook his head a little more often, but he didn’t yip or just lay down. Even after giving him Benadryl, he stayed the same lovable corgi.

That, as you can imagine, made me feel better, but it took a long time for the swelling to go down. That made me worry that maybe he had been bitten by a black widow or a brown recluse, so I was asking my spouse what he thought. He reassured me that if the spider that had bitten Floki was poisonous, we would know. The poor baby would be in a ton of pain or his flesh would be rotting off his face. Surprisingly, hearing that helped a bit, even though it didn’t completely eradicate my worry.

This was later in the night after some Benadryl. His muzzle is still puffy, but he was doing a lot better.

By the next day, the swelling had gone down significantly. Yes, I awoke a couple of times during the night to check on my fur baby, but he was fine. He continued to improve, and by now, the swelling is completely gone and I’m sure Floki doesn’t remember anything that happened. I, on the other hand, will continue to have anxiety issues when it comes to medical emergencies.

The fur baby just hanging out and chilling.

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Hop



Wow! Only 12 days left before Christmas. I hope you're ready! But if not, you still have time. Now is the best time to take a little break and do something nice for yourself. I don't doubt you've been running around like crazy getting presents and decorations--not to mention getting ready for all the parties!

Curling up with a good book is the best to way to unwind and relax. In honor of the season of giving, I will be giving one lucky winner their choice of paperback from my collection (open to U.S. shipping only). You'll be able to pick from my fiction titles or my nonfiction titles.

All you have to do to be entered into the giveaway is leave a comment telling me what you like most about the holidays. Good luck!

After entering my giveaway, don't forget to check out the other blog participating in the hop!


How Long Does It Take to Write a Book?

Like so many questions in writing, this one isn’t easy to answer. It can take as little as a few months to a few years to write a book—it all depends on how long it is, what age level it’s written for, how much time you dedicate to it, and how many rounds of edits you put it through.

I think the reason people ask this question is because they are worried or afraid of the amount of time they’ll have to commit to a novel. It can be daunting and scary to think that you’ll be working on the same story for years down the road, but if you are dedicated and intent on writing a great book, you’ll do what you have to to make sure it’s the best it can be. Conversely, if you can’t commit to working on something for months or years at a time, then perhaps a novel isn’t the best option for you as a writer.

However, that’s not to say that books that take weeks or a few months to write are terrible books. Some authors are faster than others and have more time to dedicate to their writing. The amount of time spent on a story is not indicative of how well it is written.

And let’s not forget about the amount of edits your story needs to go through—that adds time too. It is recommended that you have at least four editors go through your story before it’s ready to be published, and that’s not counting the amount of times you read through it. Of course, having that many editors go through your manuscript might not be within your budget, so it might not be feasible. Although, it is highly recommended that someone should edit your story before you attempt to get it published.

On average, you can probably expect to spend at least 6 months working on your book from first draft to final manuscript—although for some, that might seem like a short amount of time. If you’re not under a deadline, there’s no rush to get your book finished. You don’t win a prize for getting it done in a certain amount of time. Take the time you need to make sure the story reads the way you want it to. In the end, as the author, you have to be proud of what you’ve created before you can share it with the world.

Josh Gates Is a Great Role Model of How to Do Life Right

I first started watching Josh Gates when he had his show Destination Truth on Syfy. I continue to watch him with his show Expedition Unknown on the Travel Channel. Josh constantly cracks me up. He has a great sense of humor and an amazing sense of adventure.

In both shows, Josh travels to various parts of the world in order to solve mysteries. In Destination Truth, the mysteries often centered on mythological/mysterious creatures. In Expedition Unknown, his focus is on other mysteries, such as looking for lost treasure.

My spouse doesn’t enjoy these shows as much as I do. In fact, they bother him to no end. It drives him crazy that Josh gets to travel the world and never finds anything. He doesn’t find Josh as amusing as I do.

But I think my spouse is missing the point. I don’t think the purpose of the shows is about the destination. It’s about the journey.

It’s true that Josh rarely (if ever) finds what he sets out to find. In Destination Truth, he never filmed any of the creatures he was looking for and rarely found any evidence that they existed at all. In Expedition Unknown, he’s never found a treasure that he sets out to find. But that doesn’t make his excursions unsuccessful.

There is so much to learn when watching his shows. I learn about different places and cultures around the world that I had no idea existed. I get to go with Josh into remote places that haven’t been touched by humans in sometimes as long as thousands of years. I get to discover artifacts that often lead to more questions than they do answers. Through it all, I’m fascinated and intrigued.

It’s totally possible Josh knows that he’s not going to find anything when he travels half way around the world, but that doesn’t stop him. He still hops on a plane and travels to a new destination. He still lowers himself into deep, dark caves and sloshes through potentially polluted water to see what’s at the end of the tunnel. He traverses dangerous landscapes with nothing more than hope that he’ll find what he’s looking for.

What Josh does is inspiring. He takes something he’s incredibly passionate about and has made a living and a TV show following his dream. He gets to travel to amazing places around the world and immerse himself into the history and legends of the place. He gets to meet amazing people who are passionate about what they do—historians and archaeologists (among others) who are trying to find answers to ancient mysteries.

It is said that life is supposed to be about the journey rather than the destination, and I think Josh proves that with his shows. While he has a goal in mind, he often doesn’t find exactly what he’s looking for, but he doesn’t come home empty handed either. Just because he doesn’t find the buried treasure or the Arc of the Covenant or the Yeti doesn’t mean he doesn’t find some other really cool things. And think about how much he learns along the way!

If life is about the journey, then Josh Gates is doing life right. All he does is travel. Would it be cool if he actually found what he set out to find? Absolutely. But even if he doesn’t, he still gets to go on one hell of an adventure. And he never gives up.

Josh might live his life a bit more extravagantly and adventurously than some of us are comfortable doing (pick me! I hate traveling), but we can still learn that the journey is more important than anything and that following your dreams will open your world to endless possibilities.

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