Thursday, October 27, 2016

7 Reasons I Voted Early


7 Reasons Why I Voted Early | Navigating Hectivity By Micki Bare
My 2016 sticker for voting!
There is a thrill that accompanies waiting until election day to vote. Waking up early, heading out to your designated polling station, waiting in a very long line for hours, being late to work, enduring bladder cramps because if you head to the restroom you'll lose your place in line — you know the drill. 

I used to love the excitement of voting on election day. But as I grew older and my life grew more hectic, the excitement dissolved into intense stress. Now I vote early. Here's why.

1. It is less stressful. As I said, there is no pressure to get to work on time, the lines aren't as long, and I won't miss out on voting if I have to leave and come back the next day. I don't go on the first or last day of early voting, because of the crowds. Rather, I find an odd time, usually mid-morning, during which crowds are likely low at the same time my schedule is less hectic. 

2. Someone on Facebook pissed me off. Yes, I admit I let someone's stupid, asinine post get under my skin. Basically, he told those who don't support his candidates not to vote. One of his "friends" then posted in the comments, "...or procreate." This upset me greatly and motivated me to want to vote as soon as possible. What was even more disturbing was the fact that this was an educated person who is well-respected in the community — or should I say "was" well-respected. 

3. I like to be early. When I show up for a hair, doctor, work or any other kind of appointment, I have to wait at least 15 minutes because I arrive so early. I get this from my father, who was always early enough to snag the first parking place at a major event — I learned to stow snacks in my pockets, as this also meant it'd be forever before it was time to eat again. 

4. I like to be done. I do not like tasks hanging over my head. I love the feeling of accomplishment. I make lists so I can strike through what I've completed. Being done gives me a rush almost as great as that first cup of coffee.

5. The parking is better. This year, the early voting poll nearest my house was in a large, old shopping center with tons of parking. It was easy to access and I had no problem finding a place to park. When I was done, I slipped right back out. It was gloriously accessible.

6. There is less harassment. There were no candidates or candidate representatives hovering outside the polls during early voting — at least not where I voted. I did not head into the polls with pockets full of magnets, post cards, stickers, emory boards, pens or other junk-drawer fillers that have no shot at swaying my vote. Rather, one of the business owners in the shopping center was handing out free one-week passes to his gym. I couldn't think of anything more appropriate to give voters during this year's election. 

7. The feeling of hope lingers. Rather than packing all the excitement into one day, I have a couple of weeks to draw out the euphoria one feels after having voted. I tie that feeling to the glimmer of hope that those I supported just might win as I mute campaign commercials and toss campaign mailbox fillers in the recycling bin without giving them a glance. I liken it to celebrating one's birthday for an entire birthday month rather than just one day.

Whether you vote early, like I did, or you wait until Nov. 8, please make time to vote. Regardless of who you support for each office, you should always exercise your right as an American and vote. 

And if you do wait until election day, you can think of me while you're waiting in line wishing you hadn't had that second cup of coffee. I'll be having a less-hectic day as I watch it all from afar. I might even be watching from the gym as I work off election year stress — for free. 

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Writing Samples

Copyright 2016 Michele Bare

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chocolate Flavored Drink Lifts Panthers to Win


Yoo-hoo for the Panthers | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Our "lucky charm" game day soft drink
helps Cam and team win games.
There will be many iterations of analysis to explain why the Panthers won yesterday against the 49ers. While we heard about the heat and humidity factor during the game, as well as who was connecting with whom and which players were having an off day, you have to know by now there is more to winning a football game than how well the players played.

When you listen to the commentators and read what the sports writers have to say, you are only getting half the story. The journalists, you see, are merely reporting on the athletes. And we all know it takes more than highly paid, muscularly fit athletes to win games. It also takes dedicated fans.

And that is why I must apologize to our beloved home team, the Carolina Panthers. To understand where I, as a fan, went wrong, I must take you back to last season.

During my youngest child's freshman year in college, he started football season with a case of Yoo-hoo drinks and a dream. That dream was to see the Carolina Panthers make it to the Super Bowl. They were on a hot winning streak and, a year ago, my son was sure they could make it all the way to the big game.

Around game three, my son called me in a panic. "I'm out of Yoo-hoo!" he exclaimed. While most college kids simply cry out for more money, my child was in desperate need of more Yoo-hoo. Why? Because he began associating the chocolate flavored soft drink with Panther wins. 

After that call, our whole family got into the Yoo-hoo spirit. When the Panthers played, we wore our team gear, put our chips and salsa in Carolina Panther blue bowls and broke out a case of chilled Yoo-hoo.
Pups in Panthers Jerseys | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Our pups don Panther gear on
game day now, as well.

For the record, we were out of Yoo-hoo during that heart-and-soul-crushing loss to the Falcons.

We did, in fact, have plenty of Yoo-hoo on hand for the Super Bowl, but I'm guessing there were other fans who fell short on that frustratingly sad evening.

But I digress. During the 2016 season opener, my youngest child was busily toiling away in class while we watched the game against Denver. We had no Yoo-hoo in the house. I wasn't even wearing my Panthers t-shirt. 

Blame it on it being a busy weeknight game, our hectic lives — it doesn't really matter. Bottom line, we were a disappointment to our team. We let them down. Say what you will about what the players might have done wrong that evening, they were clearly not fully to blame. I am deeply sorry.

Even as the final seconds drifted off the clock in Denver, I knew what had happened. Therefore, when the 49ers came to town, we were ready. We had a brand new case of Yoo-hoo just for Sunday's game. I baked cheesy ranch chicken bread balls. We even bought our dogs Panthers jerseys. And, as you witnessed, the Panthers pulled together for the win. 

While we suffered one loss at the beginning of the season, the rest of this year can still be as magical as last year. But fans, we need to keep our heads in the game. Your family's secret weapon might not be Yoo-hoo. Maybe it's a special appetizer or the particular seats in which you sit around the big screen.

Whatever your ritual, make sure you prepare for and do it, religiously, every week for our Panthers. They can't win alone. They need us. So what do you say fans? Are you with me? Are you committed to making this another magical Panthers season? 

#KeepPounding

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the associate editor of Piedmont Parent and author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare

Copyright 2016 Michele Bare

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Only the Beginning: Pitching My Novel


Counting Down to Writer's Digest Conference | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
I began counting down the days in February.
Six months prior to the 2016 Writer's Digest Conference in New York City, I was sitting on my bed on a Saturday morning with a cup of tea and my laptop. Hubby was milling about the room, doing this and that with dogs and laundry and other lazy Saturday morning tasks. Suddenly, something deep inside my soul distracted me from sharing my weekly column on social media. I opened a new window in my browser and searched "writer's conferences."

The timing was right for the 2016 Writer's Digest Conference. It was six months away, but I could go ahead and register — I could commit, right then and there. I looked up through the top lens of my bifocals at Hubby and coyly asked, "Do you mind if I go to New York City in August for a writer's conference?"

Five months prior to this need to push my writing to the next level, I'd heard a debut "New York Times" bestselling author speak at a book festival. Robert Beatty talked that day about going to a writer's conference and pitching his book. His story inspired me. So, on a cold February morning, I registered for my first writer's conference. I also registered for the pitch slam event. Then I began researching how to pitch to agents during a pitch slam.
Pitch Slam Research | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
I stayed in the hotel, took what I had and
what I was learning and made my
pitch the best it could be. I also researched
the agents at the conference and selected
the ones to whom I wanted to pitch.

For six months, I practiced my pitch while I put my novel through another round of editing. I asked folks to beta read and provide feedback. I followed agents on Twitter. I tweaked and restructured. 

For six months, I counted down the days. My office white board had daily tasks listed:

  • Practice Pitch x2
  • Workout 45 min.
  • Journal
  • Work on Manuscript at Least 20 min.

That last one probably seemed a bit thin. Only 20 minutes? Yes, I could find 20 minutes in a day to pull up my manuscript on my laptop and work on it. The 20-minute goal got me started. Most days, once I began, I worked well past 20 minutes, sometimes logging hours as I toiled on chapter after chapter.

During the final weeks before the conference, I practiced my pitch incessantly. Hubby could recite it verbatim, as he'd heard it several times a day for two weeks. My dog, Lily, was also an attentive recipient of the pitch. 

Before the conference, my pitch included a 50-second description of the protagonist, antagonist and general plot, and a 10-second description of the genre and mechanics. I had done my research. I thought I was ready.
Over 400 conference registrants were planning
to attend one of four pitch slam sessions.
This is me at the pitch slam workshop session
the day before the pitch slam.

Then I arrived in New York. After the session on pitch slams, I had some tweaking to do. And, after receiving the final list of agents present for the pitch slam, I had some research to do. Four of the agents on my top-8 list of those to whom I endeavored to pitch were not at the conference. 

I spent my first three days in New York holed up in the conference hotel learning, tweaking, researching and practicing. My revised pitch was a full 90 seconds and included the following:

  • genre and mechanics
  • logline
  • description of protagonist, antagonist, plot and venues
  • comps

And while I had originally intended to dive into the pitch slam without any written version of my pitch, I chose instead to bring along speech notes and evoke all the speech-making skills I'd learned 25 years ago while a speech communication major at NCSU. 

The intense work paid off. Of the seven agents who heard my pitch, six requested my query and a number of pages.
Writer's Digest Conference Pitch Slam | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
I was about halfway between the
front and the end of the line
to enter my pitch slam session
on Saturday morning.

When I returned home, having learned quite a bit about writing, my own book, publishing, marketing, agents and more, I was compelled to add just a bit to my already completed manuscript. You might say I filled in a small plot hole. Other than that three-page tweak, I've decided to give that manuscript a rest.

While waiting to hear from agents, the sequel has decided to emerge. I'm barely one chapter in and thrilled about the process and where this story might take me. In the depths of my mind, the prequel is looming, as are other installations that provide the stories of other characters that emerged in the book that I pitched in New York. 

Will I land an agent? I am a better writer who now has a clearer understanding of the publishing process. So, yes, eventually, I will land an agent. It may or may not be one who listened to my pitch in New York City. But whether one makes an offer or they were all merely stepping stones to my eventual agent, I can honestly say the experience was well worth the effort, expense, work and wait. 
Charles Scribner's Sons Publishing NYC | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
The day I finally got out
to see a little bit of NYC,
I walked right by this
gorgeous building. 

And now that the 2016 Writer's Digest Conference is behind me, I realize it was not the end of my experience with a novel I began writing three years ago. Rather, it was only the beginning.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the associate editor of Piedmont Parent and author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare

Copyright 2016 Michele Bare