When Writing Doesn’t Go as Planned..

What is a new with me? Well, so much.

Firstly, I am very sad because I have not been able to complete NANOWRIMO. Unfortunately, last week I grabbed my laptop from the counter, while holding baby on the other arm, and it just slipped from my arms like silk and hit the floor.

Then there was the noise that made me cringe and I thought for sure, I broke it. It worked fine that evening, but the next day it would not turn on. I got this MacBook Air for Christmas last year, so it’s been less than a year. I’m hoping the next place I take it to will fix the problem (first place could not). Apple store wants to charge me pretty much what we paid for to fix it, so we are looking at alternatives.

Anyway, so when that happened I resorted to our home PC, whose screen also gave up on me. Perfect timing. So I had no computer. After days of not being able to write, I realized we had another laptop (a slow Lenovo laptop), it is what I am currently writing on and it hurts my fingers like no other.

So this is what has been going on with me. I have been focused on getting a lot of things done for work and home, as I begin a new journey this upcoming Monday. I will be going back to work full-time after forever, so I am quite nervous about it but am excited about the opportunity to write full-time for a great company.

I am also a bit sad about not being home with the kids anymore, worrying in the back of my mind about how they will cope with mommy being gone all day. I am at peace knowing that they will be home, in great hands, but still feel a bit sad. I will miss our walks and our adventures together. It is bittersweet, but I also know that working will make me a better mom. Pray for me!

This was an update on my “writing life”– although I have not been able to complete NANO, I’m shifting my attention on writing more non fiction and bringing awareness on Spiritual Abuse. I hope that one day, I will share my story in a published book, but for now I am focused on bringing awareness to this important matter.

Writing may not always go as planned, but don’t let it get you down or slow you down. Writing comes with obstacles and struggles, so keep typing.

Perhaps I was not meant to finish that story.

Anyway, I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!

I am Writing An Entire Novel in One Month.

It has been a very long time since I got excited about writing fiction. For a while it became like such a chore and just the thought of it made me anxious. I have had no desire  to write for more than a year now.

Then I started playing with the idea of doing National Novel Writing Month.

Am I crazy?

I had not even written a single word in forever and now I’m signing up to write an entire novel in one month?

Yes, clearly I’m nuts. But I had this story tugging at my heart, my fingers were aching to type and tell the story. So I decided, why not? I have a peaceful corner in my house that I created, dedicated for writing and reading. Might as well put it to use.

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I have had this hate and love relationship with writing the past year. I have been doubting myself and my talent, thinking that maybe I’m just not cut out to be a real “writer.” Maybe people just don’t want to tell me the truth, you know? But every time I doubt myself, someone somehow ends up encouraging me or praising me for something I wrote that they recently read.

Okay. Maybe I’m not so bad after all. I decided to go for it.

Write, Deb. You were born to tell stories!

Now that it is November 4th, how am I really doing with #nanowrimo?  It started off a bit rocky. Matter of fact, I did not start writing until day three (yesterday). I finally sat down to WRITE, and boy, did I write. It was as if all I needed was to sit down and just write. Words, characters, and ideas just came flying out. I couldn’t stop. I was excited and thinking non stop about the book and the characters. I still am.

I am writing an entire novel in one month.

no more excuses.

but really, my excuse was that I’ve been too busy reading instead. And at first, I started with a story that just wasn’t it. It felt like I was forcing it. It wasn’t the story I should write.

my heart wanted to tell a different story.

so here I am, writing.

let’s hit those 3k words. Daily.

 

 

Do You Still Write?

There are moments that I cherish with all my heart. Nap time. Quiet time. Me time. Mommy time. However you choose to call it–it’s that moment I get to be myself to write and read. Yesterday, everyone was taking a nap and it was a beautiful moment of silence. Just me, typing on my keyboard after a long, stressful week.  I like to escape in different corners of the house, and yesterday’s choice was the dining room.

I have been job hunting (again) and it has been so draining and stressful. I applied to a minimum of fifty jobs  in my field and have been getting interviews, but so far I am still hoping and praying for a job offer. Long story short, I’m done being an adjunct. I will write another blog post detailing the struggles of #AdjunctLife next time.

Back to the subject at hand, I have not been living what I preach. You know? The whole write everyday thing that I preach to my creative writing students? Guilty.

Do You Still Write?

I get this question often. And the truth is, the past few weeks have been challenging, writing/career wise, but I’m taking it one day at a time. Trying to make time for the things you love can sometimes seem impossible but every time I sit down to write, I remember why I write.  No, I do not write fiction as much, but I do enjoy journaling a lot more. Moral of the story is:

You may fall out of love with a passion because you don’t do it enough, but once you reconnect, things will fall into place.

img_20181022_205012_3902143437309.jpgSo today it’s a late night writing. Matter of fact, I started with some fiction and here I am now writing a blog post after almost two months.  I  am preparing  for National Novel Writing Month. I haven’t done this challenge in seven years, so this shall be fun! I think. Writers, who else is doing #NaNoWriMo with me?

What are you writing this year?

How Do You Spend Your Time?

The quality of your life is determined by how effectively you use time.

-Michelle McClain-Walters

I am making the most of my time instead of complaining about the time I don’t have. If that means I get to journal for three minutes, then so be it because time is the measure of life.

How you spend your time defines you.

 

There are moments where I have an hour or two to myself when all the kiddos are asleep, and I usually spend that time watching TV when I could be using that time wisely by reading a book, for example (since I compain about not having enough time to read anymore).

So I’m making a pact with myself to be more mindful of how I spend my time in general. If there is one thing that we absolutely cannot take back in life, it’s time. Last night, I read for an hour before I practically passed out on the couch but it felt amazing to escape into a book again.

If you were to be defined by how you spend most of your free time, what would you be called?

 

Tell Us How You Published Your Book? What Was the Journey Like?

The time has finally come!

Chasing Freedom, my novel, has finally been released. After a long journey,  it is finally out. What most people don’t know is that I have been working on this book for years.

You may purchase it here: http://bit.ly/2sWEI9D

Where did the storyline come from? The inspiration?

Well, the protagonist in the novel is a Congolese rape victim and refugee.  Given that I am Congolese (although I’ve never been),  I’ve been reading and hearing so many horrific stories and I felt like I had to write about this and be the voice of the women of Eastern Congo who are daily being abused.

And then in the diaspora, there are many refugees who still continue to struggle because, well, America isn’t always “golden“.

I wanted to show the journey of a young woman and refugee chasing after freedom, from Congo all the way to the U.S..

There are so many organizations who claim to help refugees when they truly have their own agendas. I will not say too much because I don’t want to give out any spoilers.  I interviewed people, read many books, and watched many YouTube videos to research as much as I could.

People who have recently started following my blog or recently became friends with me on my Facebook or Instagram, assume that I recently wrote this book. No, no–not with two kids!

So, when did you write the book?

Allow me to tell you the story- the shorter version.

I initially wrote this novel as my thesis in grad school in my creative writing program back in 2012. I worked with a mentor who is an author and professor who guided me through the process . I had about a year to finish the novel. Once it was done, I received critiques from my cohorts and other readers such as professors and a NYC agent .  At the time, it was nowhere near ready to be published. First drafts are usually crap!

Once I graduated from grad school in 2013, I started working on revisions after revisions.  Mid 2013, I queried several literary agents and landed myself one! Oh how exciting! It was a dream come true.

Unfortunately, the dream later became quite a bit of a nightmare. The agent was fairly new to the game and in my opinion, did not have enough close contacts in the publishing world. And I don’t  believe she really did a great job getting my manuscript “published ready” for editors.

Anyway,  so she pitched and pitched  by book to editors, but we only received rejections back. And when I looked at the list of editors she pitched,  most of them did not even seem right for my book.

After three years, I had enough.  I started asking around, “does it take this long when you already have an agent?”

Most of my “agented” writing buddies advised me to end the contract because it should not take this long to sell the book.  So, I did that. I ended the contract with her.

Then I decided that my book still needed work to be considered  “published ready” so I hired a professional fiction editor who has worked in traditional publishing for years. I interviewed a few editors before I made my final decision.

Because my novel is quite diverse, it was important to find someone who understood the main character and the vision of this novel. She was able to really help me with the tone, voice, and the overall pacing of the novel.

Many indie authors skip this step because it can be quite pricey.  That is a big mistake. Editing is the most important stage of the writing process!

Then I gave the novel a break for almost an entire year, I believe.

When I came back to it with fresh eyes, I was impressed. “Wow. I wrote this? This is a good novel.”

It was almost a complete different novel. The power of an editor.

Anyway,  I was still undecided about pursuing another agent or going indie. By indie, for those who are not familiar with the term, I’m referring to independent publishing, as an self-publishing. After a wonderful, eye-opening, and inspiring weekend in Dallas I wrote about here: https://chez-debz.com/takingmywritingcareerbackinto/, I decided to go indie. One of the main reasons I did so is because in the publishing industry, once an agent has already pitched your book to an editor at a publishing house, you can’t try to re-pitch it to the same publishing house, even to a different editor. So my options were limited here and I was so over the whole “gate keepers” of  publishing.  I did; however, pitched a few literary agents just to “see”  but my heart was already sold on going indie.

The publishing world has changed drastically in the last few years and I am very happy about my decision! I believe  more writers should go indie!

Not only is my book available on all online bookstores, but I am also doing a consignment  program  with a local bookstore to have my book on a shelf as well. 

I was able to control each stage of publishing; from the cover, to the publisher, and distribution.

So you may be wondering now…

How can I write and publish a book too??

Upcoming next week will be a blog post on “How Do I Write and Publish a Book”. I have since then received numerous emails and messages on how to self-publish a book, so I think a blog post with step by step instructions will be helpful to all aspiring authors. As always, thanks for reading and don’t forget to buy your copy of Chasing Freedom here: http://bit.ly/2sWEI9D

And for details on the book, visit my author website: DeborahKabwang.com

When Your Plans Fail

 

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. –Proverbs 16:9

I always try to remind myself that my plans are not necessarily His plans. I can try to control my life as much as possible, but at the end of the day, God rules. So even when I find myself questioning and worrying, I remind myself that God has a plan and a purpose for everything in my life–even those beyond my comprehension.

My plans are just that. Mine.

So I’m trusting and believing, even when that seems difficult.  I’m staying positive, even when negative thoughts want to consume my mind.

Most importantly,  I’m letting go.

I’m letting go of my worries and sentiments that won’t let me breathe in peace. Freely.

I’m letting go of failed plans and making ways for new plans.

I’m letting go of broken relationships and making ways for healing.

I’m letting go of disappointment and making a way for restoration.

Because in the end, His plan will always prevail.

 

Enjoy the Season You’re In

I feel like I need a change. Career wise. Why aren’t we ever content with where we are? For whatever reason, I feel like where I am now is not enough or where I truly want to be. But then I hear God whisper to me,

Enjoy the season you’re in.

My husband asked me, “What makes you happy?” “What do you truly want to do?”

Well, Write. Read. Research. Home Decor. Anything House related. 

Sometimes simple questions are more complex than they sound. I know what makes me happy, but it feels like there’s  a bridge between us that I can’t seem to cross over.

Five years ago, I saw myself as a novelist someday. Today, I don’t just see myself as a novelist  someday, because my interests have since then reached into other areas other than fiction.  More realistic goals, I suppose.

If you’re a writer then you understand how difficult it is to find a full-time job in this field or be a full-time  writer.

I’m truly learning to be patient. :: patiently waiting, hoping, and praying for the change my heart so desires.

Confessions of a Binge TV Watcher

 Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

— Gretchin Rubin, Get Up. Get Out. Don’t Sit. —

TV can be great, but it can also be a bit addictive and a waste of valuable time.  I was talking to a few friends over the weekend, and we were talking about  how we all have goals to watch less TV and spend more time reading or doing other things. Since the invention of Netflix and Hulu, I am ashamed to say that I spend way too much time watching TV shows. When I find a show I like, I will binge watch it until the end and will not be able to stop until I complete all 9 seasons or however many there are. Then when it’s over, I start over again with a new show. That has been sort of of an addiction since working from home. I found it much easier and convenient to watch TV than read when I’m home with baby. TV doesn’t require my devoted attention-it can always be played in the background while I’m cooking or changing diapers, or grading. Once the kids go to bed, and I happen not to have any work for that day, it would be “mommy time”. But mommy time used to be spent in front of a book or writing. Now mommy time had turned into binge watching a TV Show. Everyday, I’d tell myself,

“Ok tomorrow, no Hulu or Netflix. I will read or go write.”

But then I’d find myself binge watching again! Freaking Desperate Housewives , The People vs. OJ Simpson, American Crime…  I mean they are really good shows, but every morning, I’d wake up wishing I had spent my time doing something more productive.

I think I’ve had enough…

Remember that goal of spending more time writing and reading books?

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.– (Psalm 90:12)

Yes, now is the time to turn off Hulu/Netflix, and spend more time doing those things that were once your escape.

 

And instead of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning to check your social network, reach for a book or journal instead. Don’t let 2017 be like the previous years.  When did TV become such an addiction? I know addiction sounds rather strong, but at the end of the day, that’s exactly what it’s called. There is a fine line between enjoying a TV show vs binge watching. Being that I work from home, it can be hard not to have the TV on all day , but it is important to recognize when you are heading down the wrong path,  and find new productive ways to change such a time wasting hobby.

From now, I hope to spend my days, reading, writing, and giving my full attention to my children when they are around instead of dividing my attention between Desperate Housewives (mom guilt/touché) and my boys.

You cannot manage or improve something until you measure it. Likewise, you can’t make the most of who you are – your talents and resources and capabilities – until you are aware of and accountable for your actions.

From The Compound Effect — Darren Hardy —

So I’m challenging myself: after I am done working, instead of spending my Mommy Time on the couch watching Desperate Housewives, I will spend more of my time reading.   For my book lovers, you understand that reading is more imaginative than TV. With reading, you are the one creating the visuals in your head, while TV does it for you. Therefore, you are using your brain a lot more by reading than watching TV. Of course, I will still watch my favorite shows (hence, Scandal), but the less, the better.

It is time to revert back to this BookNerd Deb. Quite frankly, I like her much better.

 

My End Of the Year Reflections

It seems like at the end of every year, people say, “man, this year went by so fast!” Next thing you know we’re setting new goals for the new year that may or may not get accomplished.

2016 was wonderful and challenging  at the same time for me.

I had some scary things happen:

Like that moment I was in labor, pushing the baby’s head out when all of a sudden, dozens of medical staff stormed in and next thing I knew  I was being rushed to an OR for an emergency  c-section  because my baby’s heart-rate was nowhere to be found.

Or that scary phone call I received from my mother one evening, shaken up and weepeing because my father was being taken to the ER by paramedics after he stopped responding and talking, as we later came to find out that he was having a stroke.

Or that evening we were driving to  the nearest Urgent Care because our infant had a high fever; I was seating in the passenger’s seat, as my husband drove and our two kids  in the back, when I literally saw my whole life flashing in front of me when a car nearly struck us  but missed by a mere second when my husband managed to swerve- what could have been a deadly accident, God shielded us from it.

Those were some scary stuff. I nearly lost my mind.  But through  it all, God held my hand and protected me and my family, and for that I am grateful.
At the beginning  of this year,  I was dealing a lot with loneliness. Living in a state where I don’t have my siblings,  parents, or closest friends. Since I spend most days at home while hubby is at work, there was no one who I could just pick up the phone and say, “Hey, wanna go have coffee?” Or, “hey, wanna go check out so and so event with me?” All my friends  are thousands of miles away. And as some of you may know, being home with the kids all day can get lonely sometimes.

But slowly and surely, I started meeting people and making acquaintances who I hope will turn into genuine long lasting friendships.

So, I’m also thinking of the good things:

A career that allows me to stay home with the kids on most days, although I do my share of complaining at times. I am grateful.

A dream home that we bought in the neighborhood  we once dreamed of living in.

Provision over my family.

So many great things that are only materialistic, so what I am mostly grateful for this year  is that I have a wonderful husband who daily puts his family first and loves me for who I am, I have beautiful children who mean the world to me, I have supportive  parents who I love so very much, and for God’s abundance grace and His love that continues to overwhelm me.

End Of the Year Stress 

Why is it that the end of the year always comes  with its own problems?

This is a stressful and drepressing time of the year for many,  and it has sadly personally affected me as well.

I’ve heard many bad news from loved ones this month: car accidents, hospitalization, sickness, death, incarceration…you name it!

How can you stay happy when everything else around you seems to fall apart? How can you not be angry or frustrated when you feel like you should be?

Let it go.

When you let go, God has a way of stepping in and doing it right and doing it well.The more you try to change the situation,  the harder it gets. Just stand on what you believe in and trust that God has everything under control.

Take care of yourself  and your loved ones during this tough time of the year.

Try to do something to get your mind off your worries. Take a walk. Exercise.  Read. Laugh. Dance. Pray for someone else.

Hug those you love and hold them tight just little bit longer. Cherish every moment and forgive easily.

Most importantly,  pray and stay calm.

Am I Not Good Enough?

Like almost every writer’s dream, I  was signed by a literary agent two years ago for not only one book, but my writing career overall. Writing is a very competitive field. Finding a literary agent to manage your writing career, and one who actually believes in you is just as difficult as people say.

Here is the story of how I Found My Literary Agent here.

As some of you may know, I have been working on a particular novel for what seems like a lifetime now. So, at first, I was so thrilled. My dream had come true. My book would be published by a major publisher in no time! (Ha).

My agent and I went through rounds of editing to get the book ready. Once we felt it was in good shape, my agent  started pitching  several editors  and publishers .  Some requested the full copy but in the end, rejections kept  coming.  I started doubting myself and my novel . After she had pitched almost everyone on her list, my book had not been sold. No book deal.

I lost hope… I had given up on publishing  this novel and started writing  something entirely different, but my character’s voice kept calling out to me. Why was I giving up ? 

I considered  self- publishing . Clearly those publishers and editors didn’t want diversity. It  was their loss. But I  had self-published a different book  in the past because I was impatient and it did not work out so well.

I truly believe that this  book would be better off in a major publishing house rather than self-publishing because of its complex, intriguing subject  matter and  ability to reach a diverse audience.  I decided to talk with my agent about my  concerns.  (If you are not aware, my novel deals with a very dark theme about a raped Congolese victim from D.R Congo who finds herself in a religious cult in Texas.)

Am I not good enough?

Sometimes it helps  when people believe in you just as much as you believe in yourself.

I  decided that my novel needed more work  and hired a professional editor who has worked in the publishing  industry. She did a magnificent job  with the development and pace of the story. I was amazed. After  starting the revising process again,  I took another long break from the novel . I was burnt out. I hated it now and just the thought of reading  it again made me sick to my stomach.  I’m talking months here.
During that time, I gave birth to a second baby, moved to a new house, went back to work full-time  and started focusing  on writing articles instead. Writing fiction was the last thing on my mind, in fact, reading  other authors was mostly what I did.

I really needed that  break.

The great thing about being a writer is that you are always re-creating yourself.

-Martin Cruz Smith

There’s something about putting a manuscript away and coming back to it months later. When I picked up the manuscript again, I found myself at awe with my ability to create. Those words. I wrote that? And to think that I was ready to give up and toss this book forever.

I finished up revising and (update) have since then decided to break my contract with my agent and look for a different one  who will be a better fit for my book and writing career!

So now, we wait again.

Words have carried me through the happiest and saddest moments of my life– in times where all I could do was pick up a pen and paper to express myself in order to empty my mind, my heart, and my soul.

So, every time I think about giving up on this novel, I remember all the countless sleepless nights, the research, the interviews, the tears, and most of all, the voices inside my head. The cries of those women wanting to be heard–wanting their story told. I’m their voice. I may go through a dozen more rounds of revising, but I won’t give in and “settle”. Because this story deserves to be told right.

When Is Your  Book Coming Out?

So to answer this question, I don’t know when my book is coming out, but my prayer is that this novel will finally  find a (publishing) home soon.  In the meantime, you can keep reading my words  on my blog and pray I get a book deal soon!

Sincerely ,

An aspiring  novelist

You’re So Lucky! You Have It All Figured Out.

 Although I am currently working from home full-time /WAHM, (I’m an online writing instructor for a local university) I don’t exactly love it  and at times, it can feel very frustrating, exhausting, and stressful– and on those days, I’m just about over working from home . So, I even went to great lengths and had job interviews with a possible career change.

But then this morning  I had to make an early drive into the city and as I sat there in major traffic near downtown, I thought, “there’s no way I’m getting back out there for any 8-5 type of job. What was I thinking by wanting to “get back out there ?”

I’m sure some us have that familiar sentiment: The guilt that comes with the desire to focus on your career while also being there for your children. The guilt that comes with wanting a career. The guilt that would eventually come with putting the kids in someone else’s care while you work. The guilt of not using your degree or vice versa.  I read an article over the weekend that discussed this very topic and it really had me thinking and realizing that I’m not alone.

Yes, I would love to have my dream job or dream career, but for now, I’m grateful for what I have. I am content with where I am because I know that if the time ever came for me to “get back out there” I will miss being out on my patio in the middle of the day. I do have a job that allows me to spend as much time as I want with my kids and some moms would gladly trade places with me.

So, for now, I’d rather be a night owl who grades while everyone else sleeps. I’d rather go for morning hikes with my baby and take pretty pictures in the mornings while I sip my coffee. Sometimes we never seem satisfied with what we have. Always wanting more and forgetting the now. But today, I’m satisfied. Because many would want to trade places with me. Today, I live in the moment and appreciate the present.

To all the moms who constantly tell me,” You’re so lucky. You have it all figured out so young.”

No, I don’t. I’m just like you, still trying to figure out what it is I really want.