My Journey writing…

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Changing publishers is always risky business, but I took a leap of faith and have self published all three of my devotionals.

Timothy’s Adventures is written to help parents teach their children about combating bullying and racism, which is even more prevalent now than it was when it was first published.

Below was an article I blogged shortly after releasing Timothy’s Adventures in 2018.

Here we are coming into August, and while most people are still in summer fun mode, as a Christian programmer, I am kicking into fall and winter planning mode. This planning and programming also carry over into my writing where I currently have three book outlines drafted, one that I am now working on writing, and two new book ideas that my brain has been churning and mulling over.

Combating bullying and racism have always been on my radar and is an area I have been passionate about all my life, so it was natural for it to flow over into my devotional books. After writing Kaylee’s Adventures and Kaylee’s Easter Treasure, a cousin suggested I channel my energy into both my passion for writing and a book dedicated to combating bullying and racism.

I am sad to say that many of the adapted situations in the devotional have been from real-life situations. These were shared with me from friends, family, or were taken from my personal experiences growing up or through my son’s life. (Please note that all the characters are fictional.) Because the stories are all adapted from real situations, it makes them relatable and real so that they are more comfortable for children to connect with them. Once the connections happen, it is easier for the doors of discussion to open.

Each chapter has been prayerfully crafted to connect real-life struggles with scripture, family, and healthy ways to deal with bullying and racism.

Benefits of reading to children

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I was having a discussion with some people at work about this very topic today so I thought I would reshare an old post. Be sure to check out the podcast of two lovely writer friends I posted at the end of this blog!

We have 3000+ books in our family library and out of those, 500+ are on the children’s bookshelf. As you can see I am a strong advocate for literacy and early childhood reading. I believe and encourage all young parents to read often to their children and to start reading to them during infancy. Don’t wait till they understand what a book is! As a matter of fact, I have no problems saying that I read to my son while he was in my womb. This often shocks new parents.

There are many benefits to reading early to your children. The obvious one is that it helps with language acquisition and literacy skills. A quick Google search will provide you with a plethora of research demonstrating that early reading will stimulate parts of the brain that are responsible for understanding the meaning of language, literacy, and social skills.

Early reading demonstrates left to right reading, how to turn pages and phonic awareness which are all great exercises for the brain. Reading also helps to enhance a child’s concentration, develops their imagination and creativity, and has the potential to create a thirst for knowledge.

One of the things I loved about reading with my son is that it provided us with some great conversations. As we identified with different characters, we would often explore the emotions we were feeling around what the character was experiencing, and the various places, animals, or cultures that we were seeing and interacting with in the books.

Ultimately this was great bonding time for us! When he got too old for me to read to him, we still found ourselves curled up on opposite ends of the couch or snuggling side-by-side while reading our books. As a matter of fact, I have included a picture of him reading the finished draft of Timothy’s Adventures with me.

october to December 2017 513P.S.: The last time he was home from University he asked me to read my work in progress to him, proving that you are never too old to be read to!

Early childhood literacy is SO IMPORTANT. Ari and I discuss that along with our favorite childhood books in a new episode of #TheMerryWriterPodcast! Give a listen:

Headphone

Podbean: https://bit.ly/3mpWcbm

YouTube: https://bit.ly/31WHKxL

What’s the difference? A books a book, right?

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Do you know why I call Timothy’s Adventures and Kaylee’s Adventures devotional books and not a collection of short stories?

There is actually a big difference between a novel, a collection of short stories, and a devotional book. Timothy’s Adventures and Kaylee’s Adventures are devotional books, where my new work in progress is a fantasy novel.

Often misunderstandings happen because people are not using the same definitions to define a word. So here are the definitions that I used when prayerfully choosing how to market Kaylee’s Adventures and Timothy’s Adventures.

A book as defined by a quick Google search:

1) A written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.

2) A bound set of blank sheets for writing or keeping records in.

I would define a book as a collection of pages that may be either bound and printed or kept together in e-format. These pages may contain non-fiction, fiction, pictures, puzzles; abstract lines (as in accounting) as their content or the pages may be blank (as in journals).

A story as defined by a quick Google search:

1) An account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.

2) An account of past events in someone’s life or in the evolution of something.

Google defined a short story as a story with a fully developed theme but significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel.

Google defined a novel as a fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism.

Merriam Webster defined a novel as an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events.

Which brings us to defining a devotional. Google defined a devotional as: of or used in religious worship.

This definition, however, is not very useful in the context of my devotional books.

Merriam Webster defined devotional as:

1) Of, relating to, or characterized by devotion

2) A short worship service

Once again this definition was not very useful. Given these definitions, I decided to ask myself how I would define a Christian devotional.

For me, Christian devotionals are for personal edification and to assist with spiritual formation. A devotional may be read on its own or alongside the Bible. They have some form of prayer and meditation to guide the reader’s thoughts and prayers.

My devotional books are a collection of short story devotionals. Each chapter may stand alone as a devotional taking advantage of the valuable parent/child discussion time. Or you may choose to read the devotionals as part of an ongoing sequence.

I shared in another blog post that my son was often disappointed that his devotionals always had different characters. He was sad that he never got to know the characters, which made it harder for him to relate to them. I found he always wanted to know more, his little mind imagining the rest of the story.

For this reason, I’ve written my devotional books so that children may connect with the characters and their friends. This allows for a meaningful connection with real life and the scriptures.

My new books are middle grade fantasy novels! Something completely new and exciting for me. I loved writing the first one so much that I’ve already started the second one.

author.to/BooksbyTanyaPacker

all 3 books

April?!?

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What? Wait! It’s April? We still have snow! Mountain living at its best …

Like many, I am struggling to stay motivated during Covid. All my best intentions are somewhere under a pile of papers on my desk, which, by the way, is not normal for me. I am normally a really neat and organized person.

On a happy note, be sure to check out this book review for Timothy’s Adventures.

Review by Rachel Poli

https://rachelpoli.com/2021/01/30/timothys-adventures-by-tanya-packer-book-review/

Week 1 of bootcamp

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What a great feeling to be back to writing!

The goal is to write one scene Monday to Thursday and edit on Fridays. Leaving the weekends for family and playing. Well, that’s in a perfect world and my world is anything but perfect!

I didn’t do too bad. Monday I edited what I wrote before the pandemic lockdown. Tuesday and Wednesday I started to write but had to stop both days because I got to scenes that triggered me. Thursday I struggled with what I originally planned and went back to the drawing board. So this weekend I focused on pushing through and managed to get chapter 2 finished.

So, I’m starting this week technically behind but full of excitement because I’m pumped to be back with my beloved characters!

Although, I don’t think they like me right now!

My writing buddy today!

Bootcamp at 50?!

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All I asked for for my birthday was a writing course bootcamp! And I am so glad that I did. It was just the kick start I needed to jump back into writing book 2.

Being back in my own office is definitely helping too. There is something to be said for having your own space to be creative. I love my office, even though it is just a corner in the living room downstairs. I have my bookshelves around me and the items that I draw creativity from near at hand to stare at during mental blocks. I have beautiful windows to look out, where the urban deer will come up to the picture window doors and look in. My furbabies join me. Life is good!

Life is good … yes even during Covid life is good. Not perfect, but I definitely can’t complain.

I’ve finally turned 50! lol Yes, you read that right. I said finally because for the past 3 years I’ve told people I was 50. So what should’ve been a big birthday is actually very anticlimactic for me, which is just as well because Covid is stopping any kind of party! lol Originally, my sister and I had planned on taking a weekend trip to a celiac certified resort to celebrate our 50ths together, maybe we will try for our 60th?

The fun thing about doing a bootcamp is that it doesn’t care if you’re 50 or in your own office. All that matters is that you get your word counts in. So on that note wish me luck!

Time for a break mom!
Look mom! I’m a good boy aren’t I?
I love having my inspiration beside my desk!
Can I help mom?

Count down is on

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I’m excited to share that I signed up for the writing course: One Scene a Day with Dawn McClure. I think it’s the perfect birthday present. Aside from that news, not much is going on because I took yet another weekend off and did nothing but train Bane and read. I didn’t even query on the weekend! I currently have sent out 134 queries with 75 rejections and 3 full manuscripts out.

My three furbabies are finally getting more comfortable with each other and all three end up on the grooming table at once! Not a great thing as both Bane and I get stressed about him stepping on them. The kittens actually come running when they hear me move the table. Bane on the other hand gives me the stink eye.

I have my office back together and look forward to working in it again. Ever since the snow flew my office moved to the kitchen table so Bane could sit outside on nice days. My hope is that I will finally be able to work from my office downstairs now that the snow is melting!

Update

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I have decided that querying is my dark muse~ it sucks the life out of me!

It’s very frustrating to have to say oops another week has come and gone and I haven’t written a word for book 2 of my middle grade book. For that matter I haven’t even looked at my picture books. What I have done is read a book that an agent said was one of her favourites and even though I have 5 books on the go I started reading Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. I missed a workshop I was registered for, but was able to catch the recorded version before they archived it. In some ways I prefer the recorded workshops because it allows me to rewind and listen to things again. Oh, and I registered for a writing course in March.

In other news Bane is rocking his training and I am so excited for today’s training session with Nikki. I am so proud of how far this dog has come in such a short time. He now climbs up on the grooming table by himself and with little to no coaching and I am finally able to clip his toenails holding his paws! This is huge! When we first got Bane he freaked out when ever I picked up the brush or toenail clipper. It took forever to desensitize him by building his trust that I wouldn’t hurt him.

As you can see there is tons going on, but no real writing. I have however toyed with a short story for one of my side characters. Gavin and I have talked about her back story and I love the idea of writing her story one day. Perhaps, a short is what I need to jump back in.

5 days on the road

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My husband had a special meeting to go to back on Vancouver Island and invited me to travel with him, so we’ve been on the road since Wednesday. I normally love visiting Victoria and was particularly excited this time since moving to the mainland last July. One of my favorite restaurants is in Victoria and I was looking forward to eating their fish and chips. Unfortunately, they were closed. If you are ever in Victoria be sure to check out Fisherman’s Wharf and get Fish and chips from the Fish Store, you’ll be glad you did!

Normally, I get a ton of writing done while we are on the road, especially when we stay at the Inn at Laurel Point. However, I spent most of the time with my c-ptsd highly saturated which made it hard to focus. Things I thought I had processed came to the surface anew, requiring tlc. This isn’t a bad thing, actually I consider it a good thing, because as much as it hurt, it allowed me to continue working on my healing journey. I did manage an off and on all day Facebook chat with a lovely dear friend of mine on Friday and on Saturday two dear friends came to have a socially distanced visit with me and walked me to meet up with my husband when his meeting was done.

Bane also had a lovely, covid safe, quick visit with Julie so she could see how well her baby is doing since being rehomed. He enjoyed the city and I got some great training done with him. Covid made his first city visit more manageable and easier to navigate because the streets were just busy enough but not too crowded. We only ran into one person who was rude when I asked him to leash up his dog. (Which the park he was in is posted all dogs must be on a leash.) Please remember that service dogs provide valuable and often life saving services to the people they are with.

So far today, I’ve shoveled two driveways, snuggled with a very needy kitty, brushed Bane, done laundry, and sent out two queries. Here’s hoping I can get some actual writing done this afternoon!

Update and Accountability

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Well, let’s see. My pile of picture book manuscripts are sitting on my desk downstairs untouched with a few partial sketches sitting beside them. My beautiful office sits gathering dust because Bane insists on me working upstairs so he can be on the outside back porch, so my home office is now on the dining room table. I bring him in the front door from his walk and he runs straight back to the back door! Silly boy. He is loving the snow and cold weather.

Book 2 for my middle grade fantasy is at 4305 words, and I’ve sent out 100 queries for Book 1 with only 37 rejections back so far. Last week there was a pitch party scheduled during the inauguration and, against my better judgement, I took part. To say it was very stressful is an understatement! I did however draft a few different pitches to play with (I included pictures below). Feel free to share your thoughts on which one is the best!

I’m also excited to share that Bane is rocking his service dog training. We had a couple of set backs due to people not knowing proper service dog etiquette. We’ve had several incidents of dogs being aggressive towards him, and one incident of a person charging at us – they charged after me in a store and managed to corner me, which triggered my cptsd. Poor Bane, still being in training, was very confused on how to get me out of the situation, but stood firmly between me and the man. I am thankful that my son was with us!

On another occasion, a man was walking a large dog on an extended leash and allowed it to aggressively come on our property after Bane. The other incidents were all dogs not on leashes. These set us back a bit but my Big Boy is right back on track. I am so proud of him!

Felix, our little grey cat, is actually getting along with Bane now! I’m so excited and it gives me hope for his brother Theo and Bane.