For those of you new to me, my writing (well, heh, everyone is new to my writing in truth), and all things Leslie— I’m a recently published romance author as well as a home educating my ten-year-old, fourth-grade son.
Translation: Like a lot of my fellow romance writers, I’m a multi-tasking momma. Every day, like a great many of you, I wear several hats. I’ve even had people look at me and say “But, at least you don’t have a job you have to go to—you get to stay home and write.” Sure, some days I do. And while I’m blessed to spend every day with my kid, versus stuck behind a desk surrounded by people I hate—I still work.
Most days, I’m an unpaid taxi. Because we homeschool I ensure he is socialized by taking him to tons of things with groups of children he knows so that he has stability and consistency. Also because he’s gifted (whatever the hell that means) I take him to various classes and things where he does stuff like dissect sheep brains, building geometric cities, and blow things up. However, a slow day will look a lot like this:
6:00 am: Get up with Mr. Scott and see him off to work (find his missing article of clothing, make lunch, get cooler ready, on a cold morning I’ll crank his work truck while I take the dogs out. Take dogs out. Feed the horde of creatures (including at different times, various foster critters).
7:00 am: Go back to sleep for an hour. Don’t judge me.
9:00 am: Sleep an hour late. Oops. Get up. Get boy child up. Feed him. Argue with him about how he can only watch someone educational while eating breakfast. Refuse Magic School bus as we’ve seen every episode 90 times. Argue about which show. Settle on Blue Planet. Hold remote to fast forward through baby creature being eaten parts.
10:00 am: Make boy child wash his face and brush his teeth. Argue with him about sitting down to start his day. Forget to make him change his clothes. Oh well.
10:30 am: Start “morning work”
10:32 am: Spend ten minutes trying to write.
10:42 am: Have to go back to boy child because he’s fidgeting/finished/or left the room.
10:45 am: through 5:00 pm — variations of the exact same thing, including the TV argument at lunch and all the whining during “PE.”
5:00 pm: Cook dinner or get boy child dressed to go eat dinner.
6:00 pm: Load up for various activities that will undoubtedly occur on the one day we’re home to do school work.
8:00 pm: Home to repeat let out/feed action of creatures.
9:00 pm: Make sure boy child is showered and getting ready for bed.
9:30 pm: Make sure man-child—I mean Mr. Scott—is showered and getting ready for bed.
10:00 pm: Put them to bed.
10:30 pm: Finally get to write.
11:00 pm: Get into the groove.
2:00 am: Come up for air and remember I didn’t do any of my promo stuff and decide to get that done.
3:30 am: Finally crawl into bed.
6:00 am: Repeat process.
Mind you, these are the days we are home. The rest of the time all that is broken up into taking to classes, lessons, and field trips.
My point here is that homeschooling the right way means always being busy. And no, not like the creepy Alaskan Bush People. But actually ensuring that my child is emotionally, physically, and mentally healthy all while creating a positive environment for him to thrive in.
And keep him away from the crazy homeschool people (trust me, there are some real winners that give the rest of us a bad name). Remind me one day and I’ll tell you all about Crazy Homeschool Helen. Holy shit. She was a whack job.
That was a little peek into my life and why I’m always so tired and usually about ten minutes late (arguing with the boy child). I thought that maybe I’ll start offering weekly tips from beneath both hats I wear. A writing tip and a homeschool tip.
Homeschool Tip: Look into your local museums and getting memberships to them (especially if you have a hands-on science center, holy wow those places are great to homeschoolers). We’re a relatively small city but have found are various museums and even our botanical gardens that give weekly or monthly classes for homeschooled kids.
These are usually learning opportunities your child would never get in public school. Recently The Notorious KID (my son) took a class on herbs at a history museum. They hiked through woods and picked various local herbs, then plucked more from the garden, and dried them in a neat little book. For each herb, they learned what it would be used for now (oregano in Italian Food) and what the herb would have been used for (often medicinally) when our city was founded around two-hundred years ago.
We also found one of our closest friends (And robotics instructor) at our science museum when she worked and taught there.
So local museum memberships = a great resource.
Write Tip: Avoiding Info Dumps… let’s face it, we all do it. It’s one of the biggest issues I see when judging contests or critiquing for pre-published writers. The overwhelming need to spend the first few pages of your manuscript telling the reader all the things you think they need to know about your characters.
In actuality, they really don’t need to know the vast majority of that stuff to understand or relate to your character.
As hard as it is, keep the backstory to yourself. Leave a little mystery, leave the unknown. Convince your readers that they need to keep reading your novel to find out about your character. They’ll relate to your protagonist based on how he or she reacts to a situation, to the story as it unravels around them. They don’t need to know that you MC hates walking beneath tall buildings because Aunt Rita’s next door neighbor had a piano dropped on her head during a visit to New York City. Instead, show how she keeps glancing upward nervously, walking fast and bumping into people, and quickly convinces her sidekick to duck into the most readily available, where she realizes all too late that the villain is driving.
Make sense? I hope so.
If you have any questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments or tweet me at @leslieSwrites. Happy writing (or happy homeschooling, if this is where you found me).
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