Spring Has Sprung!

An early Iris in my garden.

With the best intentions I began the year, full of energy and ready to write.  But life got in the way.  Or is it really that I let life be my procrastination? I allowed it to keep me from my keyboard.  I call it a self-imposed form of writer’s block.  I had the concept for my next book, but didn’t know where to take it.  I tried outling – in spurts.  I researched areas and concepts of Vietnam (where The Black Toroise takes place).  But ultimately I needed to just sit down and write.  That has always been my go to – rear in the chair and force the story out of me.

This week I have been on Spring Break from my full-time teaching job.  While most of it was spent catching up on doctors appointments and gardening, I did sit down, put hands on the keyboard and clicked out a couple of chapters – Yay!  I must say, it was really helpful to have all the information from the research I had done – so I think I will incorporate that into my next books, as an actual step instead of feeling guilty about procrastinating.

Now to keep the momentum going.  As I am a teacher, I have to work a couple other jobs just to make enough money to enjoy life.  I tutor after school and I just applied to work in a garden nursery on the weekends.  So, while I will be even more busy as the sun shines, I will have to be more diligent about writing in the morning before the rest of life takes over.  My goal is to write two days a week.  Start small and build!

Here’s to another attempt at extracting the story from within.

Have a happy April!

~ Gretchen

A Couple Weeks in August

Last week I concluded the two creative writing classes I was teaching at Sacramento State University this summer.  It was really fun to witness the individuality and imaginations of my students.  During the class we went outside and played with bubbles and chalk, creating worlds within worlds, I threw in non-sequiturs and had them write from a variety of perspectives.  Their protagonists were made to be antagonists and ultimately they learned to build suspense and critique each other’s work.  Then they courageously stood up and presented their final story to the class.  It was fantastic to see their minds at work.

Now I am on vacation for two weeks, relaxing up in beautiful Oregon visiting friends and family.  Then a few days on a gorgeous river in the mountains at a little cabin hiking and illustrating.  “The Jade Serpent” is about to fly free in the world.  I can’t wait to share Koen’s next adventure with you all.

Happy Boy! Reminded me of Koen from “The Treasure Chest Mysteries.”

Happy writing.

~ Gretchen

Draft Five

For some reason writing has taken a back seat in my life this year.  I teach an after-school writing class and I love creating new ways to engage my class in creative writing.  But when I get home I do not write much.  I go in spurts.  I spend six hours writing on a Saturday and then do not touch my work for weeks.  I’m not sure what my problem is.  Although there hasn’t been consistent writing, I am on draft five of The Jade Serpent.  Through SCBWI, I joined a critique carousel, only to come down with the flu right before and was unable to attend.  I am excited to be going to the SCBWI conference on April 1st and thus am determined to have the book fully edited and flushed out by then so that I can show it to agents if possible.

So my goal by April 1:

  1. Rework one more time
  2. Go through AutoCrit editing software one more time
  3. Complete 5 illustrations

I think it is doable.

How’s your writing coming along?


Adventures in Writing

Hi!  Lots has changed over the last month.  I’ve moved states, bought a house, started a new job, started coaching 3 volleyball teams, started teaching a youth creative writing class and…found a little sister – 2 months old/2 lbs – for my Oscar (cat) who lost his brother one month ago. PHEW!

So, needless to say, I have not been attending to my own writing.  My goal, once volleyball season is over, is to truly dive into editing book 2: The Jade Serpent.  Just writing this blog post is a start.  Teaching the kiddos in my creative writing class has brought my mind back to my own work as well.  So, my thoughts are churning and I am getting excited to get back to my book.

I hope you are happily writing.  I’d say don’t let life get in the way of your writing, but who am I to talk!

Have a great September!



This summer has not exactly gone as planned.  I thought I would have moved to Sacramento by July 1, settled in and be writing and editing The Jade Serpent all summer.  But it didn’t turn out that way.  Due to the whims of the universe, I have had to stay in Oregon for the summer.  Now, this has not been a hardship by any means.  I have had a wonderful place to stay and have been busy with family and friends.  The only negative is that it hasn’t been my choice or my schedule.  Poor me, I know.  But I am used to organizing myself and my time, so that has been a bit of a challenge mentally.

The last two weeks I have been developing my curriculum for the upcoming school year.  I have not taught 5th grade before, and my new school does not have a pre-created curriculum, so I have had the wonderful opportunity to shape and mold what I will be teaching.  I have the year outline done and the first week of lesson plans.  Now I am working on the second week – when we really start to get into the meat and start rolling.

I will only be teaching the humanities – thank goodness.  So our wonderful 44 kiddos will be split in two and each day they will switch back and forth across the hall.

I’ll also be coaching volleyball (5/6th grade) and teaching an after school class called Adventures in Writing – both of which I am very excited about.

So suffice to say, The Jade Serpent has been smoldering in the shadows.  I am now moving down to Sacramento at the end of next week – finally!  Just in time to start school the following week.  Once settled, writing will become a priority for me again – in the evenings 🙂  I can’t wait.

So, by the end of September I am hopeful to have an update on progress towards completing the editing.  Wish me luck!