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It’s that time of year again –

The smell of fall is in the air and our trees are beginning to turn lovely shades of orange, red and yellow. I purchased two chrysanthemums for the porch and have started my yearly autumn yard clean up. This is definitely one of my favorite times of year. Days are crisp, bright and the humidity of summer has gone away. I’ve also begun to dive more seriously into my writing, as well as finishing up several projects that you should be seeing soon.

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Well, let me clarify soon. In a writer’s world, books do not come to the shelves quickly. We authors must first write, then go through the “fun” stage of editing, finally sending the book off to the publisher. If an author does not have a publisher, this is when they start searching for either a publisher or agent who will take them on. If they do have a publisher, it’s getting a contract signed, waiting for the book to be formatted by the publisher and then creating illustrator notes. It’s off to the illustrator, back to the publisher who places text and pictures alongside each other in order of the story and then back to the author for approval. Finally, it is sent to the printer. Whew! Bet you didn’t know it took all that to result in the children’s book you’ve seen in the store or read to your child.

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I have several books in process right now. Pete the Brave, a great story about self-sacrifice and being kind is ready to go to the printers. YAY! Cleo and Roger Discover the Art of Columbus, Indiana is with the illustrator and is coming along nicely. A third book, The Red Coat, a story set in the Great Depression, will be published with my husband’s publishing company, PathBinder Publishing as I will be interning an illustrator from Herron School of Art. And then, there’s my latest work in progress, Love, Hope, a story of finding hope amid this pandemic crisis.

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You’re probably saying, “Wow, that’s a lot!” and you are right. I work a full time job besides being an author. But if you knew that I was sorted into the Slytherin House on the official Harry Potter website, you would smack your forehead and say “That makes sense!” I’m a nice Slytherin, though. Really, I am.

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So make sure you follow my website for updates. You can also follow me on:

Twitter – @spiderauthor

Instagram @kimberlyhoffman_author

Facebook – Kimberly S Hoffman – Author

LinkedIn

Wherever you follow me, watch for great things to come and have an amazing autumn.

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Busy, Busy …

I realized today August was almost over, which while shocking, also means it’s time for my monthly blog. I can’t believe next week will be September. But I’m excited as September brings programs at schools, a new book and cooler temperatures.

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Last week I spoke to the World History class at our local high school via Zoom on how to write a children’s book. The class is writing children’s books for children from various civilizations. Giving workshops and speaking are my passions. I love being able to teach amazing lessons to the students. Currently I’m in the midst of contacting area schools to set up more Zoom workshops and programs.

Last Saturday, I taught a workshop for a writers’ conference on “How to Write and Market Your Children’s Book”. I received great feedback and even made some new writer friends. Zoom and other apps such as Google Hangout, etc. have opened up a new way to teach/present despite travel restrictions.

My new book, Pete the Brave, will be coming out soon as the publisher and I are working through final formatting before the book heads to the press. I’m especially proud of this book as it deals with how we treat others despite how they treat us, kindness and self-sacrifice. The illustrations by Savannah Horton are lovely and I can’t wait to get this one in my store as well as bookstores.

The sequel to Cleo and Roger Discover Columbus, Indiana, Cleo and Roger Discover the Art of Columbus, Indiana is now in illustration. My illustrator, Bryan Wertz, is doing an amazing job capturing my vision. Bryan is a blast to work with and I can’t wait to see the finished product.

I have another story that I thought was complete and ready to head to the publisher until I received professional critique. I was told the story is great, just need some tweaks on the main character. As soon as I finish those tweaks, that story will be off to the publisher. My mother told me a story about her childhood. I added in other details she had told me through the years to produce this lovely children’s story, set in 1930, which teaches children selflessness and gratitude.

And, of course, being a writer, I have another story I’m already working on. I won’t give away too many details, but some of my readers helped me with the details. I’m excited to finish this story of empathy and hope.

Until next time remember – you are writing your story every moment of your life. There’s always a blank page waiting if you make a mistake. Just do your best and your story will be amazing.

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Where’s Kimberly?

Trying to find me lately is probably a little like playing Where’s Waldo – only in this case, it’s Where’s Kimberly. I opted to take a break from Social Media in order to focus on priorities as I got my health back in line. You see, besides my disability, which can wreak havoc with my life, I have an additional underlying additional – chronic fatigue syndrome. Normally, it stays quiet,  hidden beneath the surface, but when it decides to come out of hiding, it’s a force to be reckoned with.

hiding
Can you find me?

Chronic fatigue syndrome, according to Mayo Clinic, is “a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying condition.” It’s symptoms include fatigue, loss of memory/concentration, unexplained muscle/joint pain, headaches, unrefreshed sleep, and extreme exhaustion that can last up to 24 hours. When it hits, I feel as though someone turned my energy spigot wide open and every ounce of energy drains out in less than a minute. I can’t think or concentrate enough to push on to even walk to the bed to rest.

exhausted

During this time, I’ve been going through a Bible study by Priscilla Shirer on the Sabbath, creating margin in your life, which I highly recommend. I knew it was time to take action and create margin to allow my body to heal and focus on the right priorities. After prayer, I decided to take a Social Media break. Yes, it is important to get your name out there as an author, grow a platform and keep your followers engaged, but when you don’t have energy and it takes the time you need to write, focus on relationships or heal, it’s not a priority.

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I’ve peeked in from time to time (mainly to keep my notifications at bay), but for the most part, I’ve stayed off. At the beginning, lacking energy to engage, it was relatively easy to wean myself away. Then I begin to see the benefit. Because I was not focused on how to engage my followers that day, I had time to focus on my priorities. I was able to start working on projects that needed to be done or finish ones already started. I was able to withdraw from any unnecessary drama and give my mind some peace and rest.

So what have I’ve been up to during this time other than working to heal my body? As far as author stuff, the illustrator and I have put our finishing touches on Pete the Brave. It is in the publisher’s hands now for final formats before I give it my final approval. I’ve created the illustrator notes for Cleo & Roger Discover the Art of Columbus, Indiana – Book Two. Last, but not least, I’ve started work on a new project for which I obtained the help of many of my readers.

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Pete the Brave (above)  – Cleo & Roger (below)

Cover

In addition, I will be teaching a workshop tomorrow on Writing & Marketing for Children’s Books. I will be teaching this same workshop at my publisher’s writing conference next month, which due to COVID19 is now online.

In my non-author stuff, I learned how to sew masks and a bench cushion so that I could replace the one on our front porch. I had enough material left over to make two lovely pillows, which are just nifty. Since I was able to complete this, I am now preparing to create bench cushions for our backyard swing as well as an awning for the swing. I’ve been having fun with our vegetable garden all contained in nifty grow bags and reading an insane amount of books (27 so far this year).

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Cucumber tendril forming a heart

So for now, you will see a bit less of me on Social Media, but I’m still here. I’m still writing and still finding unique ways to be creative. However, I don’t think you’ll find me wearing a red and white striped shirt with a funny hat … or maybe you will.

hat

Blog

If you can dodge a wrench …

In the words of Inigo Montoya – “Let me ‘splain … no, there is too much. Let me sum up.” Much has happened since last I posted here. Though I’ve had to cancel events, that doesn’t mean I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

When life throws a wrench in the works, you find a new way to get the job done by restructuring and developing new methods and plans, which is what I did. In March, I had events scheduled almost every week until mid June. I was excited about finishing up my speaking engagements for the current school year and looking ahead to summer and fall events. Then COVID happened and everything changed.

 

I learned that schools were changing their policies on outside guests. Though states are opening up, hosting book signings or events must be gauged as far as risk factors and to one’s comfort level with large groups. What’s an author to do? I can’t speak for all authors, but this one certainly made up her mind to figure out a new strategy.

My husband and I with our masks and tiny border terriers, Packy and Pax.

First plan of action was to finish up work on books close to publication, which I’m still working through. It takes a lot of work to get a book over the finish line, into a hard cover and into your hands.

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Click bug – main character in Pete the Brave

Next, find new strategies for speaking engagements. I’m now offering Author Zoom, an opportunity for parents to engage their children with a 1:1 author visit.

In addition, my publisher, Pen It! Publications has set up a workshop where I will be teaching how to write and market for children on Thursday, July 23rd, 6 pm EST. Registration for event.

With everyone stuck at home for quite a while, I started a biweekly story time and craft event where I would read children’s classics and teach a craft or do a cooking demo. My audience included not only children, but adults who enjoyed rediscovering the joys of children’s lit.

And now, I’m onto a new project that I am extremely excited about. I reached out to parents with a list of 11 questions. They asked their children and then transcribed their answers and sent them back. I’ll be using these answers in my new book, which I will begin to work on next week.

Each month I’ll write a new blog post, keeping you informed on new and exciting details regarding upcoming books, author events (virtual and live), and hopefully bring a smile to your face or encouragement to your spirit. Things don’t always go as plan, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find a different way to accomplish our goals.

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Unusual Times

Clean slate

Suddenly my calendar is wide open. Where there had once been school visits, library programs and vendor events, now consists of a vast expanse of erasures, strike-throughs and deletions. For now, we hunker down, work on those projects we’ve not had time to complete, plan for the future and wonder if we will ever be able to hug each other without worrying.

I’m working from home for my day job for the time being, but the view is lovely. I face a lovely robin-egg blue wall with a window to my left. I can watch the squirrels and birds play throughout the day, see my company’s test bus pass by once an hour. Cummins Inc. thoroughly tests their engines both at our Technical Center (where I’m a tour guide in addition to my regular duties at my downtown location) and on the road. The test bus is testing bus engines to assure they meet the rigors of a short duty cycle. I see people walk by with their dogs, pushing strollers, jogging, riding bikes because though we hunker down, we crave fresh air.

Each day when my day job is done and I can virtually clock out, I begin the second half of my day, which includes working on writing projects and such. Currently, I’m working with an illustrator on my next book, Pete the Brave. The story of a amiable and kind click bug who displays the virtue of self sacrifice.

I’ve also passed off the fourth rough draft of Cleo and Roger Discover Columbus, Indiana – Book Two – Art to my editor/husband, Paul, for some help. I reduced the text by 1000 words – not a lot if we are talking novel, but this is a children’s book. I knew the book was too long, but did not see how I could reduce the text and maintain the integrity of the story. As I started working through the text, I realized there was more than I thought to clean up. The story is crisper and I know after Paul works through it, it will be even better.

Cleo and Roger Discovery Columbus, Indiana series

Besides working on books, I’ve created new topics for speaking engagement/programs to include:

  • Overcoming Obstacles
  • Thinking Outside the Box Regarding Disabilities
  • Be Unique
  • Architecture of Columbus, Indiana
  • Writing and Marketing for Children
  • Write Your Own Story (in development)
  • Fairies and Dragons and Stories, Oh My (in development)
Fairies and Dragons and Stories, Oh My!

While programs/speaking engagements are cancelled, authors are still busy creating, writing, and editing. I’ll get back to the social stuff when the world’s a healthier place to hang out in.

So stay safe and healthy! And if you are looking for something for the kids to do, consider ordering one of my books from my publisher, Viewpoint Books, Amazon, Barnes&Noble or check out my store page (under Welcome page.