Ever Optimistic

I participated in another Twitter Pitch party. I haven’t received and “hearts” on my pitch.

THE LITTLE PRINCESS + THE SECRET GARDEN

An independent girl takes a job at a whimsical greenhouse in hopes of a beautiful reward. She will have to rely on her determination and pluck to get through the mud, worms, and other messy challenges. #PitMad #PB

The road to publishing is long for most. I have a degree in literature, and I quit a career in technical editing and writing to stay at home with my children. That is when I started this blog.

I’ve been writing intensely for almost 10 years. To some that’s a lot, to others just a warm up to the publishing marathon. For me it’s joy and frustration, maddening and elation.

The bottom line is that I believe this is my path. I am suppose to write. Whatever that means.

I may not receive any likes on my pitch, but I did pitch. I had a screaming seven-month-old and a two-year-old vying for my phone and attention, but I pitched! I’m proud of that.

-Rachel

Looking Back

When you look back,
may the sun illuminate every raindrop, shadow, and angry cloud.

Find the golden line of clarity around every moment you asked,
“Why me?!”.

May you see the beauty of the sunlight and rain that make up your life
and realize you needed both to grow.

May you draw strength and wisdom from every storm,
and let peace fill your soul.

 

-Rachel McKee

Take Me Home River

Take me home river.

Ride your current,

go with the flow.

By childhood dreams

and brother streams,

Take me home river,

take me home.

Stars guide the way,

to the family that stayed.

The light burns inside,

for the kin who strayed.

Take me home river,

take me home.

– Rachel McKee

Micro Fiction: Nowhere

There are places in my head that I’ve created. I’d like to go to one in particular.

The walls, the floor, and the ceiling are wet, glossy stones. The air is heavy with the smell of Earth and water.

There is one large window with a view of a deep green field. Wild lavender bushes burst through the green and shake in the breeze.

I perch inside this residential cave upon the bench that surrounds a circular Koi pond. Lily pads float on top of the water and the bright orange fish slither about.

The tinkling fountain vibrates around the room and fills my ears.

I am there and yet I’m not. Just as this room exists but does not.

-Rachel McKee

Eat the Cookie

I don’t want to be the woman who has to lose 10 pounds. I’ve known women who “want to lose 10 pounds” for 10+ years.

I don’t want to deprive myself a cookie.

I don’t want to pinch my midsection in the mirror. I won’t do it.

Yet, here I am, skin between my fingers.

I won’t pull on my face, this way, that way. Watching the history that’s written on my face disappear for one superficial moment.

Most of the time I am not that woman, but I am not entirely immune to societal expectations. But, what are my expectations?

We must be skinny. No, no, no that’s not “in” anymore. We must be strong. Strong is the new skinny. Curvy, but not too curvy. Healthy, yes, healthy. Anyway, I definitely should not eat that cookie.

Has social media really made self-image worst? No, it’s our heritage, tradition, culture. We inherit our body obsession like the fattening family recipes we serve our husbands but never and I mean NEVER should eat ourselves.

Both of my grandmothers were thin, elegant, and beautiful. One had five children, the other six. Even after all of those children their waists still looked corseted. They made delicious pies, but I don’t recall them ever taking a bite.

Scrambling around the dinner table was the woman’s place. Never eating there, getting her fill. No, my grandmother would drink her coffee black. No sugar. No cream. Smoking a cigarette. This was expected.

I want my portion. Most of the time I take it. Sometimes I take more than my share and I’m back to measuring my sin with pinching fingers.

I remember a time when I had such restraint. Such control, but there was always a hunger.

How do I navigate these murky waters and lead a life where the scale doesn’t measure my worth? More important how do I steer my daughter away from an inheritance of self scrutiny?

If I talk about food and weight am I preaching? If I don’t broach the subject am I neglectful? What of my son? Men too are not immune from the warped looking-glass.

Everything in moderation I suppose.

-Rachel McKee

Micro Fiction: Michelle

The black lace that covered her arms was a vain barrier between her skin and the draft in the bar. Her stomach and jaw were clenched from the chill and concentrating on the task-at-hand.

Said task, was sitting in a corner booth directly in front of her own. Peeling the label of some micro-brew and clenching his jaw while listening to his comrade’s escapades from the previous night. Either he didn’t approve or he was cold too. (That clench was intense.)

Fortunate for her, the Seattle bar boasted modern, mid-century decor with low-back seating and moody light. Perfect for blending in and snooping on her current assignment as he dropped bits of beer label onto the table.

Invisibility was Michelle’s super power. No, she did not possess actual magical abilities, but she was an expert at going unobserved when it suited her. She contributed her chameleon abilities to her looks. Her sandy blonde hair, average height, thin figure, and unremarkable brown eyes meant people didn’t find her overly attractive or horribly ugly. To be honest, she didn’t have one outstanding or striking trait that made people remember her for better or worst.

When she was younger she used her bland appearance like a security blanket. Now it was her money-maker.

Nobody from the small logging community where she grew up ever thought much of Michelle, that was fine with her. Never would they suspect she would become a private P.I. with her own, highly successful company, yet here she sat, watching some millionaire’s husband throw back a few beers with his bud.

Rather a boring job by this appearance alone, but the “devil is in the detail” and Michelle was a pro at sniffing out sin. Actually, she was the best.

Mac and Cheese Meltdown

Mac and Cheese Meltdown

Staring at the pot,

willing it to boil.

Give me a bubble, a sizzle,

just cook.

He’s flailing on the floor,

screaming, “I want It now!”

He makes a dash,

I lunge.

Those skinny legs are fast.

He beats me to the box, noodles rain down.

Boiling water.

Turning off the stove,

I sink to the floor.

I curl up among the hard, yellow shells, and close my eyes.

His wails turn into the cry of a seagull.

Lying on the beach, I’m younger.

My name isn’t “Mama”.

My breath aligns with the tide.

Push, pull.

In, out.

I allow myself this moment,

to escape.

I open my eyes.

He is watching cartoons,

The Mac & Cheese forgotten.

-Rachel McKee

Give It Away

Artists take their heart and give it away.

Pouring out their soul, they give it away.

Nobody buys it, they give it away.

They can’t help themselves.

The expression of humanity, essential to their being.

The drive to beautify and unite the world, they give it away.

Free to the public, but there is always a price.

Just ask the artist.

A Quote To Write By

Keep writing YOUR truth. Explore the feelings you keep buried. Work out your demons with pen and paper. Then bravely share your words so others don’t feel so alone. If just one person benefits from your writing, isn’t it all worth it?❤

-Rachel McKee

Don’t Trash That Novel

If you are struggling with your manuscript and you need someone to ask you questions that challenge and stretch your novel to the max, then you should read “The Breakout Novelist: How To Craft Novels That Stand Out And Sell” by Donald Maass.

Here is my experience:

A lot was missing in my novel when I wrote the first draft. I expected the first, second, and third drafts to be rough, but I was getting frustrated because I didn’t know how to shape my story. I needed help, but I didn’t want to hand off a first draft for review. I felt like a protective mama bear guarding her little newborn cub.

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I also felt helpless and that I failed as a writer. I was ready to trash my novel.

Another writer suggested that I read “The Breakout Novelist” (TBN). He said, “Maass’ book is THE writing book to read if you are writing a novel.”

I took his advice and read TBN. It really is the best tool I have used to develop my story.

The Breakout Novelist

The problem with my first draft was that it was shallow. TBN asked probing questions about premise, stakes, characters, plot, theme, and so much more. I’ve been able to add depth to every aspect of my novel. My second draft has substance and a clear understanding as to what my novel is about. Every character has substance and aren’t just “filler” characters.

TBN has taken me a very long time to read, but purely by choice. I applied every point Maass made to my story. I didn’t ignore a single suggestion because I could clearly see how each one stretched and shaped my novel into something better. Maass also provided exercises to help the writer apply these concepts to their manuscript.

I’m glad I wrote the first draft blindly. There was something very holistic in writing from my heart with no other voice chiming in, but then I was stuck. My mental wall was growing taller every day and I’m so grateful that I found TBN when I did. It truly saved my sanity and my novel. I had to share this helpful tool in case someone else needed guidance.

Happy writing,

Rachel McKee