Title Reveal

I finally have a working title for my manuscript. Up to this point, I have been lovingly calling my second child “A Book Has No Name” or “The Book Who Shall Not Be Named”.

So today I am excited to tell you that my manuscript is called, “Not By Blood”.

I shared with you in my 100 followers video, that my two protagonists are cousins, well, step cousins who fall in love. Throughout the story they are quick to point out that they are cousins but not by blood. My female protagonist is also quick to point out that her abusive adoptive father is not her biological dad. There is a theme of distancing oneself from relations. Family ties get cut and re-strung throughout the novel. Brian (my male protagonist) obviously wants to clarify that Emma (the female protagonist) is not his biological cousin because he is attracted to her. His denial is more than the “ick” factor of incest. His prominent upbringing clashes with the impoverished way his uncle (Emma’s adoptive father) and her family lives. He goes from living in a timber frame mansion in Alaska to a dilapidated shack in Washington State. He experiences social class shock from the first chapter. He really doesn’t want to claim any of these poor relations as his own.

Emma also wants to clarify that she is not blood related to Brian because she is strongly attracted to him. As I mentioned before, she also wants to remember that her abusive father is not a blood relation, this helps her to mentally cope with the abuse. Emma loves her biological mother, but also abhors her. She is condescending to her mother and is angry with her for marrying such a terrible man and for running and hiding from the domestic abuse by overusing prescription medication. Her strongest sense of family is with her best friend’s family who have supported her dreams and taken an interest in her well-being.

While writing this novel and my characters I realize that by dissecting this family, I am trying to discover what family relationships mean. Is blood thicker than water in only the tangible sense? How are the relationships we form by freewill different from the relationships we are born into?

-Rachel McKee

COVER IMAGE PROVIDED BY MILESMCKEEPHOTOGRAPHY

 

Saturday Vibes

Today my husband gave me the precious gift of writing time. I can hear my boys playing outside and having a blast. I’m glad they are having fun, and I’m also ecstatic to get uninterrupted time with the computer.

I’m sipping on a tea called “Breakfast in Paris”. (A city I have never seen but long to visit.) Apparently “la Ville Lumière” tastes like Earl Grey and lavender. It’s quite pleasant. I’m stuffing my face nibbling lemon cream-filled cookies and editing my first draft.

I’ve been hovering around 35k thousand words on my YA manuscript. I’ve deleted thousands of words,  but I’ve also added quite a bit of dialogue. I love re-writing. I see things more clearly the second go around.

I’m excited to say that I finally have a working title for my manuscript. Up to this point, I’ve lovingly calling my second child “A Book Has No Name” or “The Book Who Shall Not Be Named”. I’ll share the title and why I chose it on Monday.

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, I started a #bookstagram account on Instagram. The username is Illuminated_Literation. I took a few picture for that this morning. I haven’t posted them to the #bookstagram account yet. Here is a sneak peak. Contain yourself.

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Keke says, “Hi Illuminated Literation friends.”

Do you remember my review for the YA novel Black Ice by Becca Fitspatrick? If not, you can find it here. Seriously, it was such a page-turner.

Back to novel writing.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Cheers,

Rachel McKee

 

Writing Romantic Scenes

This is an impromptu post fueled by  white wine and a desperate need for empathy. In other words, I’m wine writing and I “Blame it on the ah ah ah ah ah alcohol.” – Thank you Jamie Foxx.

I’m struggling to write sex romantic scenes between my protagonists. Every time I approach a steamy passage I get so embarrassed I just skip it. I’ve written around, over, and under, three romantic scenes because I get so bashful. I am not a prude, why is this happening?!

I have been a romance reader since I was twelve. I was sneaking Harlequin romances from my Mom’s collection before I was wearing a training bra. I haven’t been this awkward about sex since a boy in middle school asked me to “come sit on his lap and talk about the first thing that pops up.” (And since I can still feel the horror of that invitation, let me tell you I sent a very swift declination his way.)

The wine is helping immensely, and I was able to write one of the risqué passages in my novel. What do you do when you are writing romance? Is this a problem for anyone else? Do I become a temporary alcoholic until my novel is finished?

Cheers, (literally)

Rachel McKee

#AmWriting

I have been focusing on my YA novel and the characters are starting to feel authentic, so that’s very encouraging. I’m trying to get the first draft written without beating it up too much with my grammar hammer.

I have been using Twitter more and I’m having fun meeting other writers there (hence the hashtag name for this post). I have also been learning Photoshop (see cover image above).

The cover image is a quote from my YA novel. I’ve been wanting to create images with text for a long time so for the last few weeks I have been experimenting with Photoshop and I’m learning a lot. I have experienced a lot of trial and error, but that’s all part of it right?

So if you are wondering what little ol’ me has been up to, well that’s about it. Other than throwing first birthdays, chasing a one year old, wrangling a dog, appeasing a cat, and attending a wedding.

Have a fantastic week!

♥R♥

 

One Year

You kicked and squirmed, I shifted uncomfortably and smiled at my big belly.

I sweat, I cried, I pushed, you pulled.

I squeezed my eyes and clenched my teeth, you saw the light for the first time.

We saw each other and we cried.

I pulled you close and you held on tight.

I talked, you nuzzleddrinking your fill.

You cried the first night, I was weak, Daddy’s arms were strong.

I learned, you taught, we got to know each other.

You needed me, I needed sleep, we were tired.

You laughed, and I understood pure joy.

You rolled over and turned my world upside down.

On all fours you moved away from me, and I scrambled to catch up.

In a high-pitch voice you said “Mama” and I came running.

You looked for “Dada” to come home, and I was just as eager.

You pulled yourself up, and I caught you when you fell (almost always).

You went to sleep a baby and woke up a toddler.

You are one. You are smart. You are sweet. You are brave, and we love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

20,000 Words Deep

I just reached 20,000 words on my YA novel. So I’m over here like…

Ahh The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, love that show.

 

The little one is still asleep, so I’m going to keep writing.

I Hope you are having a great weekend!

♥R♥

Four Things That Scare Me While Writing A Novel

As I close in on 20,000 words for my YA novel, I keep hitting the same anxiety hurdles:

  • What if I don’t finish?
  • Will I like my story when I finish?
  • What if a publishing company doesn’t want my book?
  • What if I self-publish and nobody wants to read my book?

These four questions swarm my head like flies buzzing around a overly-ripe melon. I’m constantly swatting at them as I write. Sometimes the questions become too much and I have to stand up and walk away from the keyboard, away from my doubt, and away from the swarm.

Combating the fear

I’ve always been a worrier, even as a child I would literally worry myself sick and give myself stomach aches. My mom would soothe me by asking,

“What is the VERY worst thing that could happen in the scenario that you are dwelling on? Discover what is in your control and the factors that are left to fate.”

So taking my mother’s advice, I decided to list my fears and examine the worst-case scenario for each.

What if I don’t finish?

Completion is entirely up to me. I have ultimate control on whether or not I finish this story, unless I die before it’s completed, but hey at that point i won’t care anymore. In order to finish I just have to get past my fears and procrastination.

When I rationalize this part of my anxiety, it’s really quite stupid. So, moving on…

Will I like my story when it’s finished?

What I’m really afraid of, or the “worst case scenario” is that I will finish it and then abandon it because I’m tired of it. What if the completed story is a cheap re-print vs. the original masterpiece I created in my head? (I’m abusing the word masterpiece here.) The mountain of edits and rewrites is daunting, and I don’t know if I will have the motivation to summit that mountain.

But again, I can control the outcome, I just have to battle the same demons above: fear and procrastination.

What if a publishing company doesn’t want my book?

Now we are getting to the festering part of my anxiety. This is where panic sets in and my manuscript is about to brutality end because my fears strangle my creative voice.

So I put a ton of time, energy, and heart into my story. I complete a solid draft and edit until I can’t edit anymore. I line up my list of book agents and publishing companies and write a snazzy cover-letter, attach my manuscript, hit “Send”, and nothing.

I don’t hear back. I don’t even know why my book was rejected.

Months go by, and I open my story again. The malleable story I thought I was sending out into the agent/publishing world to be critiqued, re-shaped, perfected, but nobody wants to work with my little fledgling story.

Where did I go wrong? What do I change?

This question breeds more questions and anxiety. This is a scenario where outside factors play a role in achieving my dream.

What if I self-publish and nobody wants to read my book?

Again, I complete my draft, pay multiple editors to review my book for grammar, structure, and flow. I pay someone to publish my manuscript, now I have time AND money invested in my story.

Then nobody buys my book. Or maybe a few people do and it gets horrible reviews. I literally paid to have my dreams crushed.

Pretty dismal right?

So how do I combat my fear?

When I start to panic and drown in a sea of self-doubt I remember this quote:

 

professional-writer-quote

 

I also remember what my mother would ask me, how much can I control? I realize that I can control most of the fate of my book. I may get rejected from my top choice of agents and publishing companies, but if I keep re-writing eventually someone will want to work with me. Or I can take my chances self-publishing and be content knowing that my loved-ones will read and enjoy my book (simply because I wrote it and they are biased). Neither of these outcomes are terrible, and most importantly by writing this novel, I am becoming a better writer.

What do you do to combat your fear of failure? Please answer by commenting below.

♥R♥

 

Pic Pick Friyay: Port Townsend

Miles took these incredible photos while visiting a friend in Pt. Townsend, Washington. He took The Kingston Ferry from Seattle to Pt. Townsend. The photos were taken at sunrise.

The black and white cover image I chose for this post is one of my all-time favorites. I love how the photo conveys both motion and placidness.

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Can you spot the Space Needle in the above image? Hello, beautiful Mt. Rainier.

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Happy Friyay!

♥R♥

ALL IMAGES ©MILES MCKEE PHOTOGRAPHY.

Living With A Speech Impediment

I have an undiagnosed speech impediment. According to a speech and language professor at WWU, it’s some sort of tongue thrust or (orofacial myofunctional disorder). My tongue feels too big for my mouth and I can’t control it. Sometimes, I swear, it wants to fall out of my mouth when I talk. My impediment gets worst when I’m nervous. I’m lucky it is slight, and not everyone even notices it.

You would think my speech would have had a major impact on my life especially during childhood, but it didn’t. I wasn’t teased (too often). I grew up in a very small town and interacted with the same 50-or-so kids since age 5. We saw each other every single day until high school graduation. We knew each others faults, scars, bumps, and lumps as well as our own. The way I talked, was just the way I talked. My peers were aware that it was different, but thought, “That’s just Rachel.”

Have you ever noticed it’s the adults that tend to point out and notice the “differences” in children? I was sitting in my third-grade class one day when a man, (we will call him Mystery Man) stood awkwardly beside my desk and asked if I would come with him. I looked skeptically at my teacher and she told me that Mystery Man had a few questions to ask me and that I should go with him. After getting the “go ahead” from my teacher, I followed Mystery Man into a room I had never been in before. He introduced himself and said he helps children speak “correctly”. This was the first time someone had pointed out to me that I speak differently.

He asked me to read a few simple words off of some flash cards, “Dog. Cat. House.” I was a third-grader that read at the eighth-grade level, so I was offended that someone doubted my reading capability. I remember blatantly asking, “Why am I here? I read very well.”.

He responded, “You have a different way of talking and I’m here to help you. If you would like the help.”

I looked around the room, and then I looked Mystery Man in the eyes and said, “No I don’t want your help. I would like to go back to class now.”

Poor guy. Rejection from an eight-year-old, that’s rough. He accepted my answer and walked me back to class.

I went home and told my mother what had happened at school while she was sitting in the bath tub shaving her legs . I told her, “A strange man pulled me out of class today…” I think that’s as far as I got before my mother jumped out of the tub, threw a towel around herself, and stormed out of the bathroom. Her fingers of fury dialed the  telephone faster than anyone has ever dialed.

I could hear her ask, “Why did nobody contact me to tell me she was going to be tested and evaluated? The school was very out of line…if my daughter doesn’t want to work with him, I support her decision.” Slam! I was impressed the phone didn’t shatter. That’s my mom, always my defender.

She turned to me and asked, “Do you want to work on your speech? Does the way you talk bother you?”

I just looked at her and said, “I didn’t know I was different. I don’t want to change.”

She nodded her head, and that-was-that.

There was the occasional teasing, but it never bothered me, especially when I knew the other kid’s weaknesses toosmall town remember?

It wasn’t until I graduated from high school and went to college that people would comment on the way I talked. For some reason the guys I dated really wanted to discuss it. I was 19 when a guy told me, “I like the way you talk, I think it’s cute. I know some people probably find it annoying as fuck, but I like it.” Mmmm okay. Thanks. He was such a gem.

Other guys made similar comments, “Oh it’s cute.” Sometimes they would mimic me (that was pretty annoying). The only time my rebellious tongue ever bothered me was when I had to speak in front of a large audience.

My friends and family are accustom to my speech. I haven’t had to lead any meetings, or give any presentations in over a year. When my job did require me to present, I just battled my wayward tongue and said what I had to say. My husband doesn’t bring it up because according to him, he doesn’t notice it. I hadn’t thought about my speech impediment for a really long time.

Then I posted THIS video that I made to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to explain the progress on my YA novel. I watched and listened to myself trying to talk around my fat tongue and some insecurities arose. I asked my husband, “Do I really sound like that? Do I really LOOK like that when I talk?”

He conceded, “It’s a little more pronounced in the video, but it’s just because you are nervous.” (He is always honest, and I love him dearly for it.)

I dwelt on it for a day, and thought about not posting the video, but then I realized that what I needed to say was important. I wanted my viewers to hear me say, in my own unique voice, “Thank you.” for following my blog. I was scared of the trolls who could potentially find the video and make fun of the way I talk. Then I realized that there are trolls everywhere and if I let that fear control me then I wasn’t being true to myself or my dreams.

So far no troll comments, just lovely encouragement from you, my dear readers. I’m so glad I went ahead and posted the video.

Remember to embrace who you are, and don’t view your “differences” as your enemy. Think of them as a magnifying glass to spot the trolls in your life.

♥R♥

THANK YOU MILES MCKEE PHOTOGRAPHY FOR LETTING ME USE YOUR PHOTO.

100 Followers & Something New

Illuminated Literation has reached 100 followers! I’m so excited and so grateful for each and every one of you. I’ve been having a lot of fun writing, reading, and interacting with you all.

To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to do something new. I have to admit I’m a little apprehensive to share with you a video that I made. I can’t stand to hear my own voice recorded, let alone see myself on video, but I forced myself to do it anyway. I really wanted to do something different and to share the status of my YA novel.

 

To sum up what I stumble through in the video, here is a short synapses of where my YA story is at so far.

Brian Colt is seventeen years old and alone. After losing his family in an automobile accident he is forced to leave Alaska and is sent to live with his uncle Bo Colt in Washington State. What’s super awkward is that Brian has never met his uncle Bo. He knows that there was a  major fallout between Bo and his father when they were teenagers, but no one ever talks about it. What’s even more awkward is when Brian meets his cousin Rebecca Colt (step-cousin, thank God) who he is reluctantly attracted to. Brian plans to go back to Alaska and take over his family’s logging operation as soon as he turns eighteen, but first he must survive senior year and live with an unforeseen, violent opponent.

Rebecca Colt has big dreams to become a marine biologist. She knows that the odds are stacked against her and nobody believes she will amount to anything. Her nickname at school is “Hot Garbage” because everyone knows her family is trash. The trailer she lives in is less sanitary than some of the dumpsters in town. Her step father Bo tells her exactly what he thinks of her with his fists, and her mother Tammy is lost in her pills. Rebecca’s one saving grace is her best friend Kali, the one person who believes in her, that is until her cousin.. (eh hem)…step cousin comes to town…

That is my story thus far. Thank you for following and for reading. I hope you guys have an awesome week.

♥R♥

COVER IMAGE FOUND HERE.