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Monday, November 2, 2015

Thankful for Critters by Kai Strand

Sure critters can pester, but what would we do without them?

***
Though the page wasn’t completely blank, the white bits glowed brighter than normal. I was caught up in the middle. Knowing where I wanted to end up and pleased with the path I’d taken to that point. But I was stuck in the boggy part of the book I consider the equivalent to January through March of the school year. Long, slogging, and quite possibly boring. I struggled to connect the remainder of the dots in my book.

A pretty tone sounded from my phone. I eagerly glanced away from the computer screen to see what my latest distraction could be. An email. Good. Given the right content, an email can waste all sorts of time. On my computer I pulled up the Internet and clicked on my email icon.

“Where are those pages? I’m impatiently awaiting the next installment. Mystic and Polar are so hot in this book!”

Ugh. Not exactly a distraction.

I minimized the email program—telling myself I was avoiding distraction, not my critique partner—and I was back to staring at the whitest half-blank page in the history of blank pages.

Sigh.

Okay, fine. Crit partner has spoken. I had to finish the chapter. Unfortunately for her it wasn’t a Mystic and Polar chapter. However it was a Sandra/Set/Source chapter, which I personally enjoyed. So I needed to get my head in the game and finish it up.

Fridays followed. Some included kindly reminder emails that pages were expected. Others didn’t need them because I actually sent a new chapter or two before the writing week drew to a close. Before long I was transitioning to the end of the book and writing the part I’d already thought out – not that it actually played out anywhere close to how I’d originally imagined it. The writing came easy, fast. My fingers flew over the keyboard. My heart pounded in my ears.

I sent my critter several chapters at a time until finally I got to type my two favorite words:

The end.

With a pleased smirk on my face I clicked send with a flourish and my final chapters winged their way to my critique partner.

I looked at the calendar and my euphoria spiked. I’d managed to finish the first draft only slightly behind my original timeline. I should be able to edit and get the book to the publisher in time for the final book to be published right on schedule.

A pretty tone sounded from my phone. I eagerly glanced at the notification pleased to see it was a response from my crit partner. Already! That was fast. I readily hopped into my email and opened the message.

The ending...? You can do better than that!

Ugh. Not the response I wanted. More work then before edits start. I looked at the calendar, but shook my head. Don’t worry about the timeline. Just worry about writing the best damn book you can.

With a deep breath, I scrunched my nose and brow, curled my upper lip, and glared fixedly at the screen—my game face—flexed my fingers, and got back to work.
***
This is my first foray into creative non-fiction. But a girl’s got to honor the people in her life whom she’s thankful for and I’m super thankful for my critique partners. They keep me writing. They keep me striving for a better story. They cheer me and commiserate with me. I’m thankful for you all! May many blessings rain down on my critters this holiday season.
***
When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and a short story blog, Lightning Quick Reads, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.

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