Monday, June 30, 2014

A New Routine

"Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition." ~ W.H. Auden.

I'm finding the more I make writing one of those non-negotiable things in my day (like going to the day job), the more I'm accomplishing. There have been a few days where I only managed to get half a page written, but for the most part, I do considerably more. The most I've done in one day is 8 pages. For me, that's a huge accomplishment for one day's writing.

Prior to May, I wrote sporadically - 3 days a week most of the time. Since I started making my writing a "must do," my manuscript has grown considerably. I also find myself looking forward to the time when I can sit down and work on it. Something that wasn't always the case before, especially if I was struggling with a particular scene. 

Making writing a non-negotiable thing that must be done before I go to bed each night has taught me that I can write almost anywhere. Before I always felt like I needed to be in my "writer space" in order to produce pages. Not so. I've written in the waiting room of the doctor's office, in my car while waiting for the boy child, and have even tapped a few sentences I didn't want to forget on to a memo app on my phone while standing in line at the grocery store. 

I read somewhere that the more consistent your writing habit is, the more secure your brain (or muse) will be to create the scenes and stories you feel compelled to tell. After two months of pretty consistent writing, I have to agree.

Friday, June 27, 2014

This I know for sure...

Humans have a propensity to complain. We complain about bad drivers, slow service, having to wait in line, the seemingly interminable waits in doctors' offices and emergency departments, co-workers, and sometimes even loved ones just to name a few. 

In my part of the world, people complain about the long, harsh winters (especially the one we just had which seemed to hang on forever). Now that summer has arrived, the complaints are about the hot, humid weather we've been having (high 80's and high humidity). Personally, I love the warm weather so I only complain about the winter with its low temperatures and snow. 

I'm trying to complain less about the things that irritate me. (After all, who wants to spend time with someone who complains all the time.) If I catch myself complaining, I take a deep breath and ask myself if whatever it is that's bothering me will be important a day or more from now. If it's not (and in most cases, it's not), I tell myself to let it go. To help me do that, I've adopted a mantra I read somewhere - "It's not worth my time. It's not worth my energy. It's not worth my sanity. Let it go." Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

By trying to complain less, I'm finding I'm more positive about things in general than I've been in the past. So if you find yourself complaining about something, take a deep breath and let it go. You'll be glad you did.


100 day challenge update: Today is day 12 and I'm still going strong.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Last week I started a 100 day challenge where I have to write at least 125 words per day for 100 consecutive days. So far so good. Most days I've written well over the required minimum and I'm finding the words are flowing on the page easier.

News from the publishing world: As you may be aware the publisher Hachette and Amazon have been at odds over pricing and Amazon is trying to limit sales of Hachette titles. Realizing Amazon could try to do this with other companies, there's a movement to buy from outlets other than Amazon. Here's an article about it - http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/06/indie-booksellers-hachette-battle-amazon

Quote of the week: "Change your thoughts and you change your world." ~ Norman Vincent Peale. I have this quote where I can see it quite often throughout the day. It reminds me what I'm thinking impacts how I feel.

Health news: According to a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition, woman who are even slightly dehydrated may find it harder to concentrate than those who aren't. Since dehydration seems to happen more in the summer months, I found this worth sharing. (Some signs of dehydration include headaches, dizziness, and muscle cramps.) If you hate the taste of plain water, add a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber, or even a raspberry or two to your glass.

Random things: I took my cat to the vet for his annual check up earlier this week. The vet would like him to lose a couple of pounds. (Really, he wants the cat to lose 2 pounds. 2 pounds, not any more than that. Strange, I know.) He suggested I give the cat chopped up zucchini as a treat instead of commercial cat treats. I'm going to try it, but I have the feeling I'm going to get the same response I get from every other male in my life when I try to feed them vegetables - "You want me to eat what?"

Random photo of the week:


Even though I'm well past the age of childhood, I love the minions from the Despicable Me movies. They make me laugh even on those days where nothing seems to have gone right.  I found these band-aids while I was out shopping last weekend. I had to buy them. Now I just need a reason to wear one. LOL

Monday, June 23, 2014

100 Days

A little over a week ago, I met a friend for a quick coffee on Saturday afternoon. As we caught up on what was going on in each other's lives, she happened to mention starting a new 100 day challenge the next day. In case you're like me and don't know what that is, it's where you challenge yourself to do something you want to make a habit for 100 consecutive days, or at least attempt to. When you miss a day, you have to start over from day 1. She said there's even an official website for it along with a bunch of other ones.

My friend's challenge is exercising for 30 minutes every day. When I asked her how well she did. She admitted this was her third attempt. The first time, she only made it 40 days, the second time 67 days. She said she's never felt like she failed because she's working out more than she was before and as long as she keeps getting closer to the 100 day mark, she's counting it was an accomplishment. She's also not giving up until she hits 100 days no matter how many times she has to start over.

I came home inspired. Wanting to increase my productivity on my current manuscript which is taking me much longer to write than it should, I started my own 100 day challenge last Monday. I have to write at least 125 words (about half a page) every day. So far, so good. I've written every day and over the required word count with the exception of yesterday. Yesterday I fought for nearly every one of those 125 words but when I finished, I was glad I stuck it out and didn't just put it aside thinking I'd write more the next day to make up for it (which isn't always the case).

Friday, June 20, 2014

This I know for sure...

For some reason the days in the summer seem so much longer than those in the winter. I think it might be because it's lighter out so much later than it is in the winter. Where I live, in the summer it's bright and sunny until 8:30pm or a bit later. In the winter, you're lucky to see any sunshine and it's always dark by 4:30pm, 5:00pm at the latest.

It's not because my routine changes when the seasons change. I get up at 5:00am and go to bed most nights around 10:00pm six days a week year round. (Sundays I sleep in until 7:00am. It's a luxury I refuse to give up.) I seem to get so much more done in the summer than I do in the winter.

What about you? Do you find you get more done in the summer than the winter?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Please Welcome My Guest

Please welcome my guest, Romance author Cait Jarrod. Cait’s debut novel, Kidnapped Hearts, won awards in the categories of Best Happily Ever After and Best Suspense. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three daughters. Below is my short interview with her.

Why do you write in the genre/sub-genre that you do?  Any plans in the future to write in a different one?

I’m a huge fan of action movies, books. Add romance into the mix all the better. One day, I’d like to write a thriller.

How do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate?

If writer’s block hits, I’ll flag it in Microsoft Word to come back to later. I’ve found when I have one issue to solve compared to several it’s a lot easier.

What’s the best writing advice you were ever given? 

You’ll have to write a million words before you find your voice, so keep writing. I did that before my first novel was released. Still, I had and have so much to learn, yet I have a better grasp on the areas I need to improve. Writing is like stepping stones. You have to develop a certain area before you can move to the next.

What do you like to do in your leisure time?

I love hanging out with friends and family near the water, at a winery, or someone’s home.

Tell us about your current release in a couple of sentences.

Entangled Love developed from a family trip to California and the desire to write about a sport that hasn’t been written about much.

Can you tell us a little about your next project?

Mystic Hearts (Book 2 of Band of Friends) is the sequel to Kidnapped Hearts. Divorced, Charlene Smith arrives at Greenwood Manor in Virginia determined to stay the night in hopes to banish the ghosts that plague her since she was kidnapped.
Special Agent Larry Newman becomes a loner after the abuse he experienced during his childhood. In response to his friend’s request, he visits the manor to investigate the source of odd lights.
The night brings mysterious sightings and puts Larry and Charlene in a situation where they can no longer deny their attraction to one another. 


Emma James is on a mission to rebuild her life after the loss of her husband. When her childhood friend offers an innocent getaway to Santa Monica, she accepts thinking fun in the sun will be a great way to start fresh.
Retired professional skateboarder, Ryan Cross is a gorgeous, lovable, ladies’ man. With two skateboard parks and a fat bank account, he’s on top of his game. What could make him happier?
Chaos and life-threatening obstacles have Ryan investigating Emma’s husband's death. When he discovers handwritten notes made by her late husband, he learns some friends can't be trusted. They will stop at nothing to get what they want, including putting Emma’s life in danger.

Excerpt: 

"Okay, Mr. Cross. I’m sorry I’m pissing in your cereal.”
He stretched his arm over the back of the couch and drank more bourbon. “You’re pissing where?”
“In your cereal. Is that the American expression? It means being drunk in my country.” Niles waved,
dismissing his comment. “Never mind. I’ve grown fond of you over the years. I’d like to say, I feel like I’m a big brother catering to my little brother’s whims.”
Niles did take decent care of him.
“It’s difficult for me to watch you make the biggest mistake of your life.”
“Dramatic much?”
“Only when necessary, Mr. Cross.” He tugged on his jacket. “I do it for effect. Did it work?”
He gave him the empty glass. Niles left and returned a minute later with a refill. “I imagine it’s a
decision you’ll regret,” he said, passing over a new drink.
The alcohol burned his throat. He hoped it would numb the pain of losing his best friend and the woman
he wanted as his lover. “Me, too.”
Niles sat on the coffee table in front of him. “Why are you letting her go?”
Millions of thoughts flew through his mind, the main one, him being an ass and not handling the
situation right. He shouldn’t have stormed out of the house, but her believing a fucking picture over what he said sent a rage through him like no other. Of all people not to trust what he said. “Cause, Niles, I’m not the relationship type.”
“Time to turn over a new leaf?” he offered.
That and to find the damn pictures. “Time for you to mind your own business,” Ryan fumed. “Please, get my luggage. I’m heading to my room.” He stood and marched toward the stairs, hoping to escape before hearing what Niles might say next.
“You finally did it, Mr. Cross.”
Two steps up and he went rigid.
“You crossed over and fell in love.”
Ryan twisted and eyed his butler who now stood at the bottom. The sting in his eyes told him they were
bloodshot, an occurrence he didn’t like anyone to see.
“She dumped me.”
“Oh, sir,” Niles sighed.
 
Buy Links:
 
You can contact Cait at any of the links below:
Webpage: caitjarrod.com


Monday, June 16, 2014

Reading and Writing

Most writers are book lovers and avid readers from a very young age. It's true for me as well. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are related to books and reading. My mom would take us on bi-weekly trips to the local library. I always looked forward to those trips with anticipation, eager to find new books to read, new authors to love. Even today, I go to the library every two or three weeks and get out a stack of books.

I love to read, but becoming a writer changed reading for me. As I learned the mechanics of writing such as point of view, passive voice, showing versus telling, and the like, I found myself noticing these things in the books I read. At first it was just a passing notice when point of view changed, or passive voice was used, etc. Unfortunately as I grew as a writer, I had a harder and harder time turning off the editor in my brain.

While I still read a book in a week or so, there are times when I can't read a book because I notice things that a non-writing reader wouldn't necessarily notice.  My sister and I read a lot of the same books. Sometimes, she'll ask me if I've read a certain book and I'll be honest and say that I tried but couldn't finish it because of XYZ and she'll say, "I didn't even notice that." I wish I could turn off my internal editor when I'm reading for pleasure and turn it back on when working on my manuscripts. I'm sure I'm missing out on some great stories because of it.

Friday, June 13, 2014

This I know for sure...

Isn't strange that we always find the time to do the things that have to be done i.e. go to work, pay bills, make meals, clean the house and do the laundry, take the kids to various school related events, etc? The list goes on and on.

Yet, there are very few of us who find the time to do the things we want to do, not just for ourselves but for others as well. There are so many "unimportant" things I'd like to find time for, but even if I put them on my To Do list, they always seem to fall to the bottom and get pushed from one day to the next because I just don't have time to squeeze them in between the full time job, writing and promotional time, and family/household responsibilities. 

It's been said time and again that we all only get 24 hours in a day and it's up to us how we utilize that time. Even writing daily schedules as I've mentioned in a previous post, I rarely have time to do those things I'd like to have time for. A friend suggested getting up earlier in the day and taking advantage of the extra time. Considering I already get up at 5:00am six days a week, that's not something I really want to do so until I figure out how to fit more things in my day, that list of things I'd like to do will have to wait a little longer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress):  I wrote about 18 to 20 pages last week so I have almost the first third of the book written. I set a goal of 100 pages of new material by June 30th so I'm a little behind where I wanted to be by the end of the first week, but I don't think I'll have a problem picking up some of the extra pages this week.

News from the publishing world: Here's a great article written in defense of reading romance that was posted on the Kirkus Reviews website. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/defense-romance-vol-2/

Quote of the week: "Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Health news: According to an article in the Journal of Neuroscience, eating walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds can help protect against getting Alzheimer's Disease. These items contain phytosterols which is a compound that is thought to block the production of beta-amyloid proteins which play a role in the development of Alzheimer's.

Random things:  I had this past Monday off and went to breakfast with my mom and one of my sisters then we went to see the movie Maleficent with Angelina Jolie. While I'm not a big fan of hers, I did enjoy the movie and it was nice to take the day off from the day job and spend it with my mom and sister.

Random photo of the week:

This is a bunny we saw in the neighbor's yard. I live on the outskirts of a big metropolitan city so to see the rabbit was a surprise.


Monday, June 9, 2014

A Book of Ideas

My niece who wants to be a fashion designer has a journal filled with sketches, fabric swatches, ideas, cut outs from magazines and more. She calls it her idea book. She carries it wherever she goes so she can jot down things as she finds or thinks of them.

Lately, I've had new characters pop into my head fully formed telling me parts of their stories. These range from full scenes to snippets of dialogue. None of these characters are in the manuscript I'm currently writing. Rather than lose all these great things, I've decided to put together my own idea book filled with scenes, dialogue, descriptions and pictures of books I want to write once I'm done with the one I'm writing now.

I even have the perfect journal for it. It's one I received for Christmas from my nephew's long time girlfriend. Here's picture of the cover.


Friday, June 6, 2014

This I know for sure...

I am afraid of spiders. I always have been, always will be. I know I'm so many times bigger than they are, but it doesn't matter. It's an irrational fear, I know that, but it doesn't change anything.

If I'm home alone, I will leave the room a spider is in, close the door, and wait for someone to come home to kill it. Once when I was a teenager, I thought a spider fell down my shirt at the same time my friend's mom was parking the car. I don't even think the car was completely stopped before I was out of the car, tearing my shirt off, and flapping it around while standing in the parking lot of the local movie theater.

Now that spring is here and the weather is getting warmer, the spiders at work are everywhere. We're surrounded by a huge field which is nice for seeing fox, deer, and turkeys, but our building seems to draw the spiders inside. Every morning when I enter my office, I turn on the lights and check for spiders in the corners and such. I hate to go into our supply closet and avoid it whenever possible because I think that's where all the spiders live.

Just once when I have to go in there, I wish I'd find one of these instead.




Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Welcome to my first What's Up Wednesday post. Since this is the first one, I imagine these Wednesday posts will evolve over time. I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have.

My current WIP (work in progress): I'm about 75 pages into the second book of a series I'm writing. It's a contemporary with a touch of the paranormal.

News from the publishing world:  Publishers Weekly has unveiled a beta version of Booklife, a site focusing on self-publishing. Link: http://booklife.com/  While I haven't chosen the self-publishing route, I found this interesting.

Quote of the week:  "Failure? I never encountered it. All I ever met were temporary setbacks." ~ Dottie Walters

Health news: A new study published in the journal Nutrition states subjects who ate about an ounce and a half of chocolate per day had the lowest BMI, lower body fat, and a trimmer waist on average, than people who ate less. I don't eat a lot of chocolate, but it's good to know that when the mood strikes, I can indulge and know it's a good thing.

Random things: The strangest thing I found in my purse last week - a piece of chewed gum wrapped in a piece of paper. The boy child and I were out and about when he decided he was done with his gum. There were no trash cans so I gave him the paper to wrap it in, then stuck it into a small pocket inside my purse and forgot about it.

Random photo of the week:

This is a picture of my cat's paw next to a quarter from this past winter. He has 6 toes on each paw. As you can tell his feet are huge.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Writing and Gardening

I spent this past weekend working in my garden. I pulled weeds, planted some Shasta Daisies that are supposed to be perennials, transplanted some flowers I started in pots into the garden. I also planted some purple flowers (I can't remember what the package said they were) that are supposed to spread each year on their own providing ground cover in those few areas I have that grass seems to refuse to grow.

As I was doing all this, it occurred to me how much writing and gardening are alike. Plants grow from a seed and, if given time and attention and care, will flourish. Writing a story is much the same. You start with an idea, a seed of a plot if you will. Spending time each day giving that idea attention and thought, it will grow page by page until you have a full manuscript.

When I see the stack of new pages grow and my seedlings become full fledged plants, I get a sense of accomplishment and at the end of the day isn't that a great feeling?

Here's a picture of part of the garden: