Friday, August 15, 2014

Pucking Mess of a PCS: (Vol. 2) The Binder.

Ah, yes, welcome back to our messy little PCS.

Okay, so when I approach a PCS, that first initial look is kind of like.... well....


Yeah, it's a whole heaping mess of "honey, here's our orders, and our transport dates... did you pick up the kids records?" Um... Yeah, hold on... somewhere. 

THIS is my somewhere.



With everything swirling around us regarding this PCS, we're doing our best to organize what we can. Control isn't exactly something we have in spades, but hey, I'll use this little pink binder as compensation. Because in this little binder, everything fits into a neat little compartment and then I can close it up. 

Maybe you're thinking: 

 Well, guess what?

This little wonder is something that makes our complicated PCS just a little more simple. The pink version is the 2nd we've gone through. Our trusty red one finally gave out. Boo. To be honest, this one isn't my favorite because it's missing some of the pockets we've grown accustomed to, and I might just sneak out and purchase another one because if anything, I am very much a creature of habit. But for now, it works, it's bright (a MUST in our house), and pink makes me happy. 


So what do we keep in our PCS Binder?

1. Orders - Yup, those pesky little papers that says you're on the move. I usually have Jason print out about 20 of them, because you need them at the oddest times. To get out of leases, or cell phone contracts, and the movers need them. If you're headed overseas, you'll need them at the airport for your baggage, or heck, if you're flying anywhere to a duty station. It'll help you out with those over-stuffed bags. You never know when you'll need these, so I also scan them in and email them to myself. That way I can send them quickly from my smartphone if someone needs them that moment. 

2. Transport - This is where you put all your information regarding the movement of your stuff. You know, your household goods and hold baggage. So appointment papers, any paperwork they give us when they show up, our weight tickets if we're doing a DITY. Then we make sure as they unpack, we pay close attention to what is damaged/broken, and we use this slot to keep records of all that in one place as well. 

3. Storage - If moving Overseas, this is where we keep the info on everything we're putting into storage. But this PCS, we're using it to keep tabs on what's in our storage unit while we stage our house to sell. Also, because we need to store our things in Colorado before we buy our house, it will keep that info too. 

4. Records. - You know... Birth Certificates, marriage license, passports, Social Security cards... yup, the identity theft jackpot. At this point, since everything is already out, I go ahead and make a copy of everything, and email it to myself.  I also take a copy of Jason's ID, and our Power of Attorney (GET ONE), and email them to myself with orders in one PDF for easy "yes, I have authorization to talk to you about my freaking utilities." Sigh. Especially with our crazy PCS situation, I'll need a power of attorney to sell our house, and handle just about everything while Jason is at WOAC. 

5. Travel - This is where I store all of our hotel reservations for the trip to our new duty station, or airplane tickets for OCONUS moves. This folder is with me at all times during a PCS (hence the DO NOT PACK), so when I keep gas receipts or anything regarding our travel (U-haul reservations, and such) in this little pocket.

6. School - Anything regarding the kids' school, from their records from our current duty station, to any forms I'll need completed to enroll them at the new one. If I know I need a physical to enroll them at our new duty station, I make sure to have that completed here, and then stick it in the pocket. PCS's are all about making sure things run as smoothly for the tiny humans as possible. 

7. Drum - Anything random that we need while we're HERE. 

8. Rucker - Anything we need pertaining to Jason's TDY in Fort Rucker.

9. Carson - Any new information we get about the new post. Because Colorado Springs is my home, this will stay pretty empty, but in other moves it's been full of "what to do while in..." lists, maps, language-guides... you get the gist.

10. Little Miss - Anything regarding what's going on with our Little Miss, since we'll start packing our filing  cabinets where we keep her records/court papers. 

11. We leave random compartments for anything we need to adapt! (Something tells me it will be hockey stuff... yup.) 

Booyah.

There's our PCS Binder. It's great to have everything in one place, but it's also a PAIN IN THE A## to lose. My best advice? Keep it in one place, and one place only. Then, the day the movers are set to arrive, lock this bad boy in your car so it doesn't accidentally wind up in your household goods. Yup. 

This one little slice of organzation makes me feel like we can get through this without tearing my hair out... or my husband's hair. But I can't stress enough - DON'T LOSE IT. This is the tiny something that makes this just a teensie bit less of a Pucking Mess. Yup. 

 So for just this minute, I feel totally and completely like an under-control, PCS Badass. 


Yeah, I'll take it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pucking Mess of a PCS: (Vol. 1) Orders.

Man, how I have missed this blog. Seriously. I love having my dream job, and writing books, but for the last couple of months, I've had to learn to do things differently, since I was writing under a deadline... which pretty much looks like this:


So I crawl out of the Drafting / Revising Cave, and I get a spontaneous visit from my parents (Who live in Colorado... Seriously). They came in to meet our Little Miss, and I've never been as happy as when I saw her snuggled up on the couch with my mother. I'd show you pictures, but I can't, so just imagine happiness like: 


Mom, I know you're reading this, so I know you appreciate the Beetlejuice .gif.  Shake, Senora.  ;) 

So I get five great days with them before they leave, I turn in ETS, and I see that there's like... sunshine in the outside world. And I sleep, and it's glorious. Until I realize a major event that we've been ignoring while I write, and it kinda snuck up on me like:


We're PCS'ing.


Yup, orders are here.



Moving. Now what's fun about us moving? Yeah, I'm taking you guys along for the ride. For those of you who are new (or coming here from Pitch Wars), why is this so insane? First, we have a house to sell. Second, we'll be PCS'ing while I'm in EYES TURNED SKYWARD edits for release with Entangled, and writing the next in the series. Third, we're about to do this in the middle of hockey season, which means all 4 of our boys (on 3 separate teams) are about to straddle two states and two different leagues...  6 teams. Fourth? Jason will be TDY enroute, so we have two crazy windows to leave. But the biggest issue we have during this PCS....

We don't know when we'll be going. 

Why? Because we've been fostering a little girl we love more than sunshine, and we're not sure what's going to happen with her. We've tucked her into bed for 10 months now, and we won't leave her behind unless her solution is permanent, which means there's every chance in the world that I'll be living here in NY with our boys and our Little Miss, and Jason will be moving home to Colorado until either she can come, or she is permanent here. We're not leaving her to fall into the system. Nope. 

Anyway....  Welcome to volume 1 of the Pucking Mess PCS, because it's well, it's a HOT freaking mess.


I have to admit. I ignored it for a long while.  A really long while, and it was easy until the orders came in, and then it was kind of like: 


That's right. This mess is chasing us down, and now it's time to deal with it. We've been compartmentalizing, handling what we can when we can, which up until now, has been Jason's work / college schedule, and me finishing up ETS to submit to my editor. And now... We're potentially 6 weeks out of a PCS. 

Potentially. 


Do you know how hard it is to plan a "potential" PCS? Blehhhhh. We're in the weirdest situation because we keep making "potential plans" for our timelines, which means our map of things to do looks more like the most demented flow-chart known to man. If this... then this. But if that... well, then plan E, or G... or maybe G plus that part of B? Yeah. It's that messy. To the point where we actually just finished another hour-long discussion on the insanity of our life and decision making. Trying to make these HUGE decisions without any of the information we need? Well, it's like this....


We're going round and round the same points.

But our orders are here, and that means we have to start making decisions for real, and not just theory. So much hinges on our Little Miss. If there's no permanency for her in sight, do we really want to sell our house? If we're stuck here in NY for another year while her future is undetermined, then I want our children in their home, right? But why shouldn't we sell it now, and then live somewhere smaller, so we're ready to go when we know what our future is? And what if it sells while Jason is at Advanced Course? Then I'm moving with 5 kids solo into a smaller place? What if there is something permanent decided for her, but Jason is already gone? Do we move solo to Colorado (so we can get them in school there), or wait until he's home from the course?   

This is why I haven't been blogging much, because honestly, it's a mess on top of my shoulders.


The hardest question I get now is: "How long are you going to be separated? Can't this take years?"

Ready for the short answer? Yeah, we don't know. The easy answer is, "as long as it takes." Because that's the only answer. Yes, the idea of staying here, separated from Jason is heart-wrenching. We've never been separated when we don't have to be. But I also know what we're capable of, and there's nothing we won't do for our children.

Another question I'm getting right now, are "how are you guys doing with this?"

The honest truth? We're fine. Stressed, but strong.

There are days we don't talk about any of it. We just enjoy our kids, our family, our time together, because we don't know how long we'll have it. We know we'll be separated at least while he's at Advanced Course, but it could be so much longer than that. So we try our best to savor each and every second we have. 

There are days it's all we talk about - how to prep the house for sale, when we should put it on the market. What we're going to do given any set of circumstances. We've tried to make every decision we possibly can for every scenario, but the truth is, it's not possible. No one can see every outcome here, not at this phase. There are times we look at one another and we each know what the other is thinking, that this is about to get really hard really fast. 

So we hold on to each other. We stop cooking dinner and just stand there with our arms around each other when the stress hits. We curl up on the couch when we've talked out every scenario. We hold hands in the car while we debate the easiest way to get our family to Colorado, and can't help but worry how many people will be in the car. We giggle, laugh, and snuggle our Little Miss when there's nothing left to do but wait, because the truth is we have no impact on what happens in her future, only the love and care she gets NOW. We're just the cog in the machine of what's supposed to decide her best interest. And we hold each other before we fall asleep, and whisper our prayers. 

A good friend of mine told me, "I've seen marriages fail for less." She then reminded me that we were certainly not less. And we refuse to be, no matter what gets tossed at us. And you'd be amazed at the crazy things thrown our direction this last month.

We've always said, "you and me against the world." 


And we mean it.

So we have a new motto. We prepare logistically for the best case scenario, and hang on for the worst. Why? Because us leaving here sooner requires a crap ton of prep, and staying here longer requires a whole different type of prep. 

So welcome to our little Pucking Mess of a PCS. 

Enjoy the ride, because we saved our craziest PCS for last. 

Here we go.




Sunday, August 3, 2014

Rebecca Yarros - Pitch Wars Mentor



Why hello there!

I'm Rebecca Yarros, and I'm accepting Young Adult and New Adult submissions for the most awesome agent-seeking competition there is... PITCH WARS!!!


So who am I?


Yeah, that's me professionally. Personally? Take a peek around this blog, you'll get a good idea.

I'm an author (betcha figured that out already, eh?) and I write what? Young Adult and New Adult fiction.


Ready for the super-stiff info? I have a degree from Troy University in History and English so I've got a pretty good grip on the grammar stuff.



And on the author front? I was actually a Pitch Wars alternate back in 2013, which gave me one of my best friends, Molly Lee. Now, I'm rep'd by Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inklings Literary, whom I love enough to give the last brownie to. Seriously. My debut novel, FULL MEASURES, came out in February from Entangled and I was super blessed to see it become an Amazon Best Seller, #1 in Series Romance. I also just turned in the first book in a new three book deal with Entangled, so YAAAAY!


On a personal level? I've been married 12 years to my amazing army-aviator husband, which means I'm a Colorado Girl in a New York world for the next few months until we PCS (move) again. We have six kids (yes, you read that right), to include our youngest daughter, whom we're fostering. We have an English Bulldog named Diesel, and a Bunny named General Fluffy Pants (I can't make this stuff up, folks.), who seriously sat on our dining room table Easter Morning because one of our sons declared him the "Easter Bunny." Yup.  I have four little boys, (my little avengers), who keep me running around and tying hockey skates. ALL THE TIME. Oh, and I write this little blog you're on right now, which is one of the top military spouse blogs in the country... Sigh, it's been so neglected because of this last deadline...  If you catch me watching TV (Which doesn't happen often), it's usually True Blood, Game of Thrones, Scandal, TVD (can't help it, guilty pleasure), or my favorite.... ARROW. Here's a .GIF of Stephen Amell (aka, ARROW). You're welcome.


So anyway, can I stop talking about myself yet?


Okay, so let's get down to the Pitch Wars fun!  


What am I looking for? 

In Young Adult - Contemp, UF, Paranormal, Fantasy. I love strong female characters, well, strong male characters too. Let's just say strong characters in general. I'm a huge fan of urban fantasy, but I've got a soft spot for contemporary too, and given the right elements, I could be sold on some Sci-fi. Give me great characters, a strong, well-paced plot, a fantastic hook in your first chapter, authentic voice, and at least a little bit of romantic sub-plot, and I'm yours. 


In New Adult: - I want to see something that hasn't been done before. I love the angst, the romance, the ...um... yummy scenes, but I'm really looking for the new. What am I looking for in particular? Fun locations, atypical plots, strong emotions. Paranormal, contemp, UF, it's all good.



 I love epic love stories, so give me the stakes, and I'm ready to chase you down.


 What am I not looking for? - Horror is always a no-go for me. That's just a personal preference, other than that? The overdone. In NA, for me that means recovering abuse, teacher/student, and billionaire boyfriends.


So why should you choose me? Hmm.... Let's see.  

I'm super fun.


I've got a great grip on what works in a manuscript, I beta for some already PHENOMENAL authors, I've read for my agency, and I find it ridiculously hard to talk about myself as a commodity. Seriously. Pick me because I'm a good author, a great beta, and I've got enough real-world experience to shine the heck out of your manuscript. 



 Seriously, I want to help you, yes YOU, because 18 months ago, I WAS you. So basically -


What can you expect if you choose me? Work. Yup. Does your manuscript have problems? Well then...


I'm going to rip your manuscript apart (and you're going to like it). I'm going to tell you exactly why it's awesome, and what you need to do to make it sparkle. We're going to take your query and even when you think it's amazing? We're going to look at it and say - 


When you're confused? We'll set up a Skype session and chat it out. I'm going to expect you to work just as hard as I do, so at the end of this process, you might be like: 


But I'm hoping we'll snag you some awesome requests that are going to lead to representation. 

So basically - Choose me.


And even if you don't, let me just say, good luck in Pitch Wars, because it's an unbelievable competition. Make friends with the other Pitch Warriors, and scout out some new CP's. This is such an amazing opportunity!  

Thanks for taking a peek, and hopefully I get to choose your manuscript!!!  



MUWWWAH!

And don't forget, as mentors, we all know how hard this is to put yourself out there, to take the chance and send the query. We respect every single one of you, and your work. So congrats on even thinking about Pitch Wars, and major props to those of you who enter!


Now go polish up that query and those first pages!!! And then... Give them to me. ;)


Good luck!