Running Down A Dream

I began reading a new book recently. Running Down a Dream by Tim Grahl. I haven’t made it far, just over ten percent of the book so far, but I’m seeing echoes of me in his words.

Tim talks about working a side business that has grown steadily, so well in fact that he can quit his 9 to 5 and focus on his business. But when he does, suddenly he isn’t meeting deadlines, his clients are less than pleased, and money becomes horrendously tight.

As he examines his days and tries to figure out where all of the time is going – he realizes it is being spent on coffee with a buddy down the hall, video games, and other time sucks.

Damn, but that resonated with me. How often have I checked Facebook, checked my book sales (at least 3-10 times a day!), or found my thoughts wandering to fashion projects that are sometimes years away – all instead of writing the chapter I have due on my website in two days.

I was alarmed to realize just this past Thursday that I had a deadline looming. I had promised a chapter a week for The Hired Gun, and the chapter was half-written and needed serious improvement before it was ready to go live on the website.

And not just that, but then the next Monday following that I had not just another chapter due, but also the second half of my short story Not Quite Human. And not a word written in it!

Jeez, Christine, you talk a lot about writing. How about you just, you know, WRITE?!

There are a thousand excuses. Really, there are. Unlike Tim Grahl’s life, mine is full of twice as much work – I run a housecleaning biz, I am spearheading this entire renovation plan on the two cottages, I’m a foster mom of one active (and demanding) toddler, I make sure the house runs smoothly and the bills are paid, and we resume homeschooling in just a few weeks.

Tim Grahl, you’ve got nothing on me.

That said, I am using all of those things to avoid doing the very thing I keep saying that I want to do. As in, I wanna be a writer full time and get paid for putting words on the page.

And that’s ridiculous.

Whether it is imposter syndrome or Grahl’s evil specter Resistance raising its ugly face, it matters not. The writing is not getting done.

So I’m going to keep hobbling along and try and read Grahl’s book as quickly as possible. Here is hoping it can help get my eyes focused back on the prize again.

The Highs and the Lows

The last year has been full of some rather extreme highs and lows. For most of it, I feel a little helpless, caught on the ocean, rising and falling with the waves.

As I look at 2018, of which 1/12 of is already been gobbled up, I find myself still struggling to “figure it all out.”

 

Think Indie

Did you know Andy Weir, author of The Martian was an Indie author? So was Hugh Howey.

There are tons more and as I listen to podcasts while I clean my clients’ houses, I hear it over and over. People are getting into self-publishing not out of lack of ability or no other choice, but because of the ability to a) make more money, and b) exert more control over how their book is produced and marketed.

I hear it time and again and frankly, I agree with it. Every time I announced, “Okay, I’m going to submit this manuscript and try and get an agent, try to get this published traditionally” a hard lump formed in my chest.

It didn’t feel right, it felt wrong.

Why should I beg someone to be my agent and take a 20-30% cut of my creation?

Why should I deal with a publisher who is going to take 90% of my earnings before the agent takes out their share?

Why should I trust a publisher to market my book effectively for me when I know that only the top cut of authors get any marketing budget at all? Most get nothing.

A podcast I was listening to recently talked about one of Dan Brown’s books coming out on e-book recently, right before a new release. The publisher did a big promotion on the ebook in anticipation of the new book release, but didn’t bother to add a chapter from the new book as a teaser in the end or even provide a link to pre-order the new book. And Dan Brown is a very popular author! If they couldn’t get that basic marketing principle down for Dan Brown, how bad would they screw over a relative unknown?

So, thanks but no thanks, I’ll stick to working as an Indie author. I’ll continue to educate myself and improve not just my writing, but all aspects of the Indie author life – book cover design, formatting, editing, and marketing.

Imposter Syndrome

I have been listening to several podcasts that focus on marketing and more for Indie authors. One recently covered imposter syndrome, which I think that most people feel on a regular basis, no matter how experienced or talented they might be.

I struggle with it, just like anyone else. It has gotten better over the years – I can remember that shortly after I had written and published the second book I actually asked my friends on Facebook if I was officially an author. I had been one for two years at that point!

One thing that helps is getting reviews on my books. I check my Author Page on Amazon regularly and so I notice when new ones come in. This review just came in on my two War’s End books…

In case that is hard to read, the reviewer wrote:

“This is book one of a two book series filled with well-defined and well loved characters. Yes, it’s dystopian in nature and yet it could take place in any time or in any place. What designates this book as excellent is the author’s vision of her characters, their actions, and their stories. Her writing transcends the commonplace and rises to the level of prose. In fact, her choice of words, phrasing, and meaning sometimes brought me to tears of wonder.

The story, itself, is more than absorbing, having all the usual attributes of great literature, i.e., joy, sorrow, heartbreak, action and suspense. After finishing both books, I can clearly state that these volumes are not to be missed. You’ll find yourself heavily invested in the characters and their actions, trying to read quickly to see what happens and yet slowing down to catch the nuances of the author’s prose.

Don’t miss these books!”

Whenever I get to thinking that I don’t have anything original to say and that my writing is stilted and generally sucks, I think I’ll just need to look this review up and I will feel better.

bad grammar – I did NOT create this meme!

Figuring Out This Damned Thing Called Marketing

Have you ever thought that it would be fun to ride a bucking bronco? Yeah, me neither. I hear those bastards are rather wily. They will trick you into thinking they are going one way and it turns out to be the other.

Marketing is just as wily and volatile.

I’m climbing up a real tall mountain right now as I try and wrap my brain around it. I am learning to:

  • Write good ad copy (it’s harder than you might think)
  • Utilize correct ad placement and timing
  • Understand Impressions vs. Clicks vs. Purchases and what a good ratio mix is
  • Find a mix of free and paid marketing that works for me (it feels like shooting into the darkness)

I’m in the process of reading several books on the subject…

Some of these are very short, others not so much. In other words? I’ve just started on the mountain. I also decided to scale back and focus on one book at a time until I get the hang of this marketing thing. So I’m focusing on Gliese 581: The Departure for now.

I’m also considering placing the two War’s End books into a “boxed” set for the Kindle and marketing it for $6.99. The individual books are priced at $3.99. If I do that, it will probably be in March or later.

When the Hell Will I Get Back to Writing?

Oh, yeah, that.

Um…

So after I finish this post I need to write a ghost story with a family tree and a veterinarian for NYC Midnight. It’s a short story competition and it’s due on Friday.

….

….

Yeah, so I’m hoping to make a goal that now that I’ve run out of month (I designated January to be a “learn about marketing” month) I will dedicate February to writing something.

What are you going to write about, Christine?

….

…..

Is that a squirrel? Wait, that’s a bunny! See the bunny?

[runs away from the computer]

Join My Subscriber List – Read Exclusive Material for Free

If you haven’t signed up for my free monthly newsletter, do it now!

One email per month, plus subscriber-only access to short stories that fill in the details of the vast Kapalaran Universe that exists in my mind. The Gliese, War’s End and upcoming Chronicles of Liv Rowan series are intrinsically connected to one another and you will get to see them firsthand.

Here is what my subscribers get in each monthly email:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my already existing fictional works)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

I will never sell/share your email address, there is no cost or upsell, and you can safely unsubscribe at any time.

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Chores First, Marketing Second, and Then…

Chores First

They aren’t really chores. Writing isn’t a chore for me, but a freedom of expression.

Okay, all bullshit aside, sometimes it is a chore. But not in this case.

Pre-planning me, I need to feel like I have at least 6-12 months of short stories in the can and ready. So I’ve been working on those.

As you may recall, these short stories are for my email subscribers only. I am rolling out one of these short stories each month. So far I have written Forward Reach (January), 99 Problems (February), Reek of Bone (March), and I’m currently working on Incident in Philly (April).

All of these little stories provide back stories on the fiction books – from the War’s End series, Gliese, and the upcoming Chronicles of Liv Rowan series.

Marketing Second

I’ve seen my page reads flatline in the past week and that has me concerned. I wasn’t making a lot of money with Kindle Unlimited page reads, but it was at least some money.

As is my way, I went through the typical “What am I doing? This writing thing isn’t working, I’m a failure!” This happens with regularity. That said, it happens less often than it used to. I imagine that most people deal with a fear of failure and on a regular basis. Imagine if we didn’t. Imagine if we weren’t shackled by fear, insecurities, and even a healthy dose of self-loathing.

I’ve spent far too much time in that realm and I have no intention of returning.

I bought a book on Amazon – Mastering Amazon Ads, it arrived today and I’ve already read the first three chapters and created my initial ads which are currently pending review. I heard about it on The Creative Penn’s podcast and thought “I must have this book!” You can find the specific episode here.

Every time I think I’ve got it together and understand all of the ins and outs of being a creative entrepreneur, I’m smacked on the nose and reminded that I still have a way to go.

As for the Rest

As soon as I can possibly get through this learning curve, I want to return to writing. I’m battling a cold and a calendar full of appointments, but I hope that the dam breaks this weekend and I can refocus on writing.

I’ll wrap up  Incident in Philly and get ready for NYC Midnight’s Short Story Challenge to start on the 26th. There’s always plenty to do around here!

Join My Subscriber List – Read Exclusive Material for Free

If you haven’t signed up for my free monthly newsletter, do it now!

One email per month, plus subscriber-only access to short stories that fill in the details of the vast Kapalaran Universe that exists in my mind. The Gliese, War’s End and upcoming Chronicles of Liv Rowan series are intrinsically connected to one another and you will get to see them firsthand.

Here is what my subscribers get in each monthly email:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my already existing fictional works)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

I will never sell/share your email address, there is no cost or upsell, and you can safely unsubscribe at any time.

Click here to sign up!

Beta Readers Weigh In

My beta readers have been weighing in on the latest manuscript Schicksal Turnpike and it has given me some food for thought. In addition, I’m sorting through some of the scientific lingo I will need to turn my new book project Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World into a sequel worthy of interest.

Beta Readers Weigh In

I received a message the other day from one of the beta readers…

Ok I’m having a hard time with your book. I hate dean, he’s a whiny asshole who should have died instead of his family. So I’ve tried skipping ahead a few chapters but he’s still there.

I was amused. And just a little concerned. Had I written him too whiny? Or put too much asshole into the first chapter that centered around him?

And considering that Dean is the main protagonist I wasn’t sure how to respond to her other than to say, “Get used to him because he isn’t going anywhere.”

She promised to start at the beginning and read the whole thing through. And by midnight I received a new message, which I have redacted to avoid spoilers:

Made me hate him then you made me love him damn you!

And those words right there were absolutely what I needed to hear. I want that kind of visceral reaction. It means I’ve done my job right. Another beta reader said something similar, commenting on Dean as being “well written” and how he “enjoyed his life changing turn around.” Which is also the response I hoped to provoke.

Where Do We Go From Here?

With Schicksal Turnpike, even before finishing the manuscript, I have been concerned. There isn’t just the main story, that of Dean’s evolution, but a second story, filled with magic and a race of people who are not of this world. Most of it is barely explained and I have swung back and forth on this – Shicksal Turnpike was created in my mind as a bridge between a story from our world and as a set up for the series The Chronicles of Liv Rowan which takes place mainly in the other world only barely described in Schicksal Turnpike.

In essence, it is a prequel. A story before the real story. One that you toss out in the middle of a successful series, not before.

At first, it was really hard to imagine waiting to publish this book. Especially after having spent so much time on it. More than a year of writing, editing, adding, correcting. Surely I could publish it and then move on to Chronicles immediately.

But as I sat down and began to sort through my notes for The Chronicles of Liv Rowan I could just feel my mind slip sideways. Not to mention that my readers of Gliese 581: The Departure have responded with, “What do you mean I have to wait YEARS for the sequel?!”

So as the beta readers picked their way through Schicksal and I resigned myself to learning far more scientific principles than the teenage me would EVER have been willing to do, my resolve on what to do with Schicksal wavered and changed.

I’m going to shop it out to literary agents and sit on it for a while. I look at it like this:

  • It is a prequel, therefore it probably needs to wait until at least a couple of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan books come out (I have twelve stories planned).
  • It could be doing the work of finding a literary agent I could work with while I’m busy writing Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World AND Chronicles of Liv Rowan: The Glass Forest

I’m painfully aware that marketing my books is required if I am to be a self-published author. It is also something I’m not particularly good at. That is, after all, one of the main reasons authors retain a literary agent. So I’ve finally got a book that I’m not going to lose my mind over not getting to publish right away because it can’t be published right away. Not until the other books are out.

Goals for Now

So I’ve got my assignments for the next six months to a year. I need to:

  • Learn the science and get the sequel to Gliese 581: The Departure finished
  • Finish writing the first book of The Chronicles of Liv Rowan when I can’t handle dealing with Gliese (and vice versa).

Taking Notes from Another Science Wunderkind

As I struggled to learn some of the scientific principles behind planetary orbits, atmosphere, and more yesterday I was also juggling kiddo activities. And while we are not homeschooling this year, I have maintained my membership with L.E.A.R.N. and was looking forward to hanging out with some homeschool mamas while Em played with her friends at Double Digits Game Night.

I sat down at the mama table and pulled out my Gliese binder which has a picture of the planet on the front cover. I figured I could work on my planet maps and maybe get some help naming the continents and other features of the world.

However, the sight of a planet immediately caught the interest of one mama (I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know her name) and her eleven-year-old son Nate. And young Nate was soon firing questions at me.

Nate: So, Mars doesn’t have an atmosphere.

Me: Right, but the colony lives in Habs and they have atmosphere generators pumping CO2 to create a greenhouse effect.

Nate: But that won’t be enough to create an atmosphere.

Me: Well not yet, no. But in 300 to 500 years, it could.

Nate: [shakes his head] No, to do that it would need more heavy elements. CO2 wouldn’t be enough.

Me: Like what kind of elements?

Nate: Well Mercury is nice and heavy.

Me: But isn’t that toxic?

Nate: It sure is.

His mother later told me that he reads the periodic table of elements before going to bed at night.

We must have talked for an hour or more. The kid was beyond fascinating and I smile now because I cannot wait to see the adult that will form from this curious and thoughtful young mind. We discussed trajectories for asteroids, the effects of gravity on Mars colonists (1/3 earth gravity) and also the Gliese colonists (1.2 earth gravities).

He explained solar winds and how sun flares affect the gravitational fields of planets. He poked a few holes in my assumptions (easy to do since I know little or no science), gave me a few ideas to consider, and even drew a sketch of how one particular scenario/plot twist might work.

I have a ton of notes – things I need to research now and double check. His mom was listening in the entire time and, as a writer and a lover of all things learning-related, it was fascinating to see her interaction with him. The questions, hypotheses, and answers were flying thick and fast among the three of us.

As the evening wound to an end, he came back to the table and asked me, “So what kind of books should I bring next month?”

I told him to bring anything he had on orbits, the periodic table, and if he could figure out the speed of an asteroid after collision that would be amazing too.

And I am really looking forward to seeing him the next Tween Game Night in four weeks or so. Fascinating kid, he helped me immeasurably and gave me quite a bit to think about.

In Moments Like These

The Good

The good news first, shall we?

I spent a huge part of yesterday in the planning stages for Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World.

I waded through my list of characters first. In each book I write, I maintain a list of characters as well as a timeline. The list of characters is a table which lists:

  • First Name, Last Name and Maiden Name (if applicable)
  • Hair and Eyes
  • Born and Died
  • Location (I only use this when I’m dealing with multiple locations – like Gliese, Earth and Mars)
  • Notes – this might include information on their lineage, what they do, and their strengths

If I need to, I will add a character page into Scrivener as a sub-page of the character table. So far, I have added just one. A new character, Syn Travani, who is on Earth.

So yesterday was spent figuring out WHO was still alive (that plague was a doozy, after all) and where they were at. I listed the characters out and delineated whether they were on Earth, Mars or Gliese. I also added a handful of characters that I know I’ll need.

I also spent time re-acquainting myself with the story. This may sound silly to you, but I have forgotten a lot of what I have written. Which is always a nice surprise – I opened up the book, saw all of those neat words arranged on a page and got a satisfying, “I wrote that!” thrill. I’ll let you know when that grows old because so far, it feels GREAT every time I crack open one of my books.

I came up with some, but not all, of the major (and minor) plot points I want to weave into the book.

And finally, sore from sitting and typing and writing, I tottered off to fold laundry, read to Em, and then read a small bit for myself before I was off to bed.

Note to self: I really should re-read the entire Gliese book and take notes on avenues to explore in the new book.

The Not So Good

I woke up at 4 a.m. thinking about STUFF. In particular, I thought of my maternal line, one I swore I would do differently than generations before.

I will explain.

Growing up, my mother and my maternal grandmother were endlessly at odds. Mum (my name for my grandmother) would say something to Mom – it was usually judgmental, meddlesome, or downright manipulative. She would do the same to me and I hated it. I watched my mother wrestle with two opposing imperatives – be respectful to her mother and yet protect/defend herself.

As a result, Mum and Mom didn’t spend much time together. And when they did, it was strained and full of thick, tense air, words and deeds.

Mum has been gone for 16 years now. I wonder if her relationship with her mother was much the same. I know that my great-grandmother did not ever live with Mum. Instead, she lived with her eldest daughter, Beulah, until she died. I haven’t heard much, after all, it is poor form to speak ill of the dead, but I get the feeling she was a difficult person to get along with.

Growing up, and seeing this relationship (or lack thereof) between my mother and my grandmother – I knew I wanted different. I remember thinking, with the simple idealized hope of youth, that I could make things different. I would not have the same relationship with my mother. My daughters and I would not have the same relationships either. I would do better, I would be a good mom, maybe even a fun mom, and when my kids grew up, I would back off and not continue to try and parent (i.e. nag and judge) them forever after. I would honor their transition to adulthood and return to the sidelines and enjoy a new relationship with them based on respect and equality. I would not end up like my mom and grandmother.

Or so I told myself.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night, pregnant with my firstborn, in hysterical tears of fear, scared I wouldn’t be a good mom. My husband would laugh then, tell me I would do fine. Later, years later, even before I left him, he diligently remembered my fears and reminded me of them at every turn. “You’re an awful mother.” I believed it for years.

In the ten, now eleven years since my eldest turned eighteen, I have walked the razor’s edge. Do I tell her when she is with some guy I think has serious mommy issues or is dysfunctional? Do I say anything when she drops out of school yet again? Do I offer advice or stay silent?

I have chosen again and again to stay silent. Partly because I believed it would harm not help to give my opinion or unasked for advice. And also because, in the end, it is her life, not mine, to live. Perhaps it is best to kiss some real toads rather than have a parent giving you unasked for advice while seeing only half of the picture.

Even as I stayed true to my beliefs, as I kept my silence, my mother would make an appearance. She would tell me (without any prompting from me, thank you very much) how to live, what to wear, and send another wave of judgment my way. Just experiencing it kept me steady on my course. I would be different. I would be better.

And then I received a letter in early February from my child, doing the SAME THING that my mother had done to me all of my life, something that my mother’s mother had done to her, and god knows how far back. The letter labeled me, dispensed unasked for advice, and was generally dismissive of who I am and what I have done. And I was absolutely floored by it. She had lived with me for 18 months. We had been at peace through much of it, but the letter basically gave me two options: agree with her on her points and I don’t know, apologize for being so busy dealing with my unwanted father (the grandfather she hated) when he was at death’s door that I hadn’t come to visit her, or accept that I had somehow screwed up royally. And honestly? I couldn’t take it anymore. Not another human being, one that I had actually raised, sacrificed and provided for long after she was grown, telling me I was insufficient, that I was lacking, that I was LESS than the ideal mother she wanted.

Just like I couldn’t take my mother’s new and weird assertions that her granddaughters (especially the sweet little ten-year-old) didn’t want to spend time with her. Something I tried pointing out she would make a reality if she continued to voice it. There is nothing like being labeled, it makes the person want to be exactly what they are being called, after all, what point is there in being anything else? It isn’t as if you have disproved anything by living your life differently – others will believe what they want despite your best efforts.

I broke ties with both of them.

But it isn’t as simple as that. It never is. Do you excise the love along with the hurt? Do you make your heart a patchwork of No Trespassing signs and roads that you can no longer drive upon?

So here I was at 4 a.m., obsessing over mistakes I made when rearing my firstborn, fearing what seems like the inevitable curse of my maternal line, and I realized…

My fears – that fate has a far stronger hand in our future than I would care to admit – are what I write about and what I live.

Every day.

I don’t want to continue the pattern. I’ve tried like hell to break free of it. I’ve consciously worked at being different for the entirety of my adult life, and despite my efforts, I find myself in the same position. I can’t help wondering what Em thinks of it all. What her internal dialogue is saying as she watches my relationship with her sister and grandmother teeter and falter. Does she promise herself the same thing?

“It will be different. I’ll make it different.”

Does she promise herself that when she sees me mourning the relationships I wished I had?

It also makes me realize that the Kapalaran Universe (kapalaran is Filipino for “fate”) is an extension of these questions. That, not unlike the Philosophy 101 test question I agonized over some 20 years ago is still bouncing around in my head.

Do we have free will? Or is some pre-destination involved?

I have always thought that I could change the paradigm. I believed it with the fervor of the newly baptized. I wanted it to be different, agonized for a new reality free of judgment, hurt feelings, and resentment.

Fate, if it exists, and exist it must because damned if I haven’t tried my best to shake it, is a many-tentacled bitch of a beast.

Catch 22 and Other Tales of Woe

So this morning I saw this offered for free…

free-camper-2

And I immediately saw something like this, only full size…

84bd3945a2ed8926f50508e2ac40f0b6

Don’t freak out, I wouldn’t paint it quite that colorful!

So I showed it to my husband who promptly poo-poohed it.

free-camper-1

And then I posted it on Facebook where someone else laughed, and another was like, “Don’t you have enough on your plate?”

And I simultaneously KNOW he is right and yet wrong at the same time.

You see, it is all a big huge Catch 22.

I want to write. Equally, I want folks to read what I have written.

But right there, in the middle of the room, is that nasty dose of reality. We cannot survive on one income alone. As much as I would like for it to happen, even if I were to stop spending every spare penny on renovating The Cottage, we still would be faced with only a pittance of savings, no health insurance for Em or me, and ZERO plan for retirement.

I have spent my entire adult life either putting out fires (metaphorically speaking), pulling money out of my ass (again, metaphorically), and running in circles trying desperately to find a place where I can stand steady and stop having to come up with money-making opportunities.

I want to stay home, homeschool the kiddo, write books and blog, and run a little Air B’nB paradise.

And I’ve got my husband, my eldest daughter, and good friends all saying the same thing – “You’re stressed, you have too much going on, you need to slow down/take one thing at a time.”

So I have this choice in front of me. I can keep cleaning toilets until i get too tired or my body breaks down. Or I can work my ass off, tear my hair out, and stress myself beyond measure for another year, possibly two…and possibly, just possibly run my little Air B’nB empire and no longer have to clean houses for a living.

It is a Catch 22 – stay the course, or pull back?

All I know is, I’ve got a book to edit, a cottage to renovate, a property that desperately needs a fence enclosing it (because yes, the local folks STILL walk through it), and a very full life.

Time to go strip some paint from doors in The Cottage.

It Isn’t All Sunshine and Rainbows

I want to be clear, that what I say next, needs no helpful advice on your part. Feel free to read it, and then carry on with your day.

So, after spending something like the fourth day in a row, drilling out words on the page, ticking off the “to do” labels and watching my word count surge from a few hundred at the beginning of last week all the way to over 30k today, I was on top of the world.

I even managed to net two more reviews on Gliese 581: Departure, bringing my total up to thirteen total reviews.

You know, someday I’m going to read that number and just smile and smile, folks.

I was feeling good, feeling ready to take on the world. If you read my last post, I think my enthusiasm was quite evident.

I drove off to a playdate, and as I drove home, the thought occurred…

I’m writing the Chronicles of Liv Rowan series next – and it ranges from 2001-2016 – but then there is War’s End, which starts at the end of 2017. I’ve dated myself, haven’t I? People are going to read this and be like, “that was so last year.”

And on and on. In fact, I spent most of my twenty minute drive trying my best to NOT think about it. My foot kept pressing down on the accelerator. I needed to get home, get back in front of the computer and break the cycle of self-doubt before it took hold.

I got home, stared at the computer, and began the loop that I do when I’m feeling full of self-doubt or angst:

  • Check Facebook
  • Check email
  • Check Amazon stats
  • Check website stats
  • Look for more reviews of my book
  • Read through the reviews I’ve got
  • Check Facebook
  • Check email

You know, the loop.

A non-productive, increasingly obsessive loop of pointless pointing and clicking.

The same, non-active, busywork I typically engage in when I can’t figure out what to write.

Worse, it’s indicative of that steep dip – in productivity, belief in self, the works.

I recently read about a guy who says that one of the best way to power through these dips or, dare I say writer’s blocks, is to write about them. And that is this post here.

My ego and self-doubt – they get to warring with each other and the result is I’m stuck in limbo.

I tried again, and just could not get back into the story, so I sat back to read a little from a suspense/thriller book I had picked up from the library. Dave came down and asked if I wanted to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which I couldn’t resist, having loved the first movie so much.

I think it was just the shot in the arm I needed.

And now it’s back to work for me…at least for a few minutes…before I head off to bed. I needed a good laugh, happy cry, and time away to remind myself I can actually do this.

I Want More Than a Latte

Every month, I see the notification come in from Amazon Digital Payments. It says something to the effect of “In a few days you will get a deposit.” It doesn’t say how much, but I can’t help but get my hopes up. Maybe this month will be different.

A few days later, I see it appear in my bank account. It’s usually about the right amount to pay for a latte at Starbucks (although really, everyone should try the Turtle Latte at Scooters, it is sooo good!).

And lattes are cool. Or sometimes they are hot. No matter what, they are tasty and give me that boost of sugar that my pre-diabetic body most certainly does not need, but truly enjoys nonetheless.

I want more than a latte, though.

Is that awful of me? Egotistical? Self-absorbed?

I hyped the hell out of my kid’s book at a party this past weekend and she got at least one book sale out of it, but damn it, I’ve got four books out there and I’m frustrated and sad and rather, shall I say it?…demoralized.

Is my writing that bad?

I have folks come up to me and say, “I bought your book! It’s like hearing your voice speak!”

And they don’t post a review.

No review.

No review.

NO REVIEW.

I have heard every excuse in the book. Including the pervasive, “I don’t know what to say, I’m not a writer.”

And let me tell you, it makes me crazy, sad and slightly rabid (yes, the foaming at the mouth kind).

Don’t TELL me you liked my book, WRITE it in a review. You can say something like this:

I liked the story. It was better than Cats. I want to read it again and again!

or

Shoot me in the head, no really, do it. It was good. I liked it. Please sir, may I have another?

There are really on two rules when writing a review:

  1. Actually write a review – that’s it, just a review, short and sweet, long-winded, et cetera.
  2. Don’t be a presumptive, confused ass who doesn’t know what a preview is like this guy (who also apparently thinks that all writers do is try to somehow make a book appear larger – or write sequels – just so they can charge more for a book). For the record, I maybe make $1 per book, if I’m lucky.

I sound hostile, don’t I?

I’m sorry if that is the case. Let me try to dig up a metaphor for you.

Imagine cleaning your house and preparing food for a party that no one showed up to, even after they said they would.

Imagine getting that new hairstyle and going home to your family and no one noticing, not at all.

Writing a book isn’t half as hard as getting nothing but crickets in the background instead of reviews.

Hell, I’ll send you the book for free (pdf, anyone?) if you promise (your solemn oath this time!) to do two things:

  • Write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads
  • Tell your friends, family or co-workers about the book

I want more than a latte. I want to believe that I’ve got a chance. That what I write is worth reading, that it is worth other’s time and effort and that I haven’t just published a tall mountain of manure.

Please give me that.

Time for Radio (and Net) Silence





I hate feeling guilty. I find it rather…counterproductive.

Lately I’ve been wrapped up in work (cleaning houses, meh), several decorating projects (drapes/portieres – all hand sewn) and too much time watching television. Well, listening to television as I sewed away.

And it is Christmas, we are hosting a party on Saturday, and all of that other nonsense.

Yet, despite understanding that there will be times when I’m not writing, not updating my three blogs, et cetera – still I found myself filled with guilt as I walked downstairs to get my morning coffee.

The internal dialogue was pretty intense, and filled with the idea that so much television in the past two weeks has killed the creative process.

This is why I’m not publishing more books, folks. It isn’t just the fact that I’m going in a dozen directions at once, is that I waste my time feeling guilty about it. That internal voice says, “You aren’t really a writer, otherwise you would be able to write simultaneously while juggling all of your other projects and NOT watching TV.”

My family thinks that I’m intense and driven as it is – if they heard some of the crap my internal voice was saying to me on a daily business they would thank their lucky stars that I wasn’t THAT person.

Anyway, the whole point in this is to say that I’m taking the next two weeks off. No weekly newsletters, probably little or no blog posts, and come the new year I’ll jump back on the riding horse and give it a couple of good kicks in the side.

I really want to write books – and publish them – in the new year. So I’ll be making goals, and hopefully sticking to them. More on that later.

/rant on

p.s. I’ve been writing this on my laptop and I have to voice a word of complaint. I HATE the touchpad and disable it as soon as I can on any laptop I own. If I don’t then I’ll be typing merrily away and then suddenly POOF! whatever I have written has gone apeshit and disappeared, moved or levitated off of the screen when a finger accidentally brushes the touchpad.

This laptop apparently thinks it is being helpful, or maybe Microsoft thinks it is being helpful, but shortly after ANY Microsoft Windows 10 update I have to go in and RE-disable the touchpad which has magically turned back on. I despise this.

It is the equivalent to someone coming up and shoving a pen into my right hand and telling me to use the proper hand to write with. I’m fucking left-handed, you moronic computer! Now leave the touchpad OFF!

/rant off



Neil Gaiman is Right





I’ve written nothing for well over a week, possibly two. Instead, I’ve created more house projects (or worked on the dozens already begun), scheduled a holidays party for the 19th, and watched an egregious amount of television (Continuum and Hemlock Grove, to be specific) and felt the beginnings of full-blown panic over my writing, or lack thereof.

And as I was further practicing avoidance this morning, surfing Facebook and checking emails, I ran across this article from the Huffington Post with Neil Gaiman which addressed whether writer’s block is real or not.

“I don’t really believe in writer’s block, but I absolutely believe in getting stuck,” Gaiman told HuffPost Live on Monday. “The difference is one is imposed on you by the gods, and one is your own damn fault.”

Yup. I’m right there with him.

“If you turn around and go, ‘I am blocked,’ this is just something writers say because we’re really clever. It sounds like it has nothing to do with you: ‘I would love to write today, but I am blocked. The gods have done it to me,'” he said. “And it’s not true. Cellists don’t have cellist block. Gardeners don’t have gardener’s block. TV hosts do not have have TV host block. But writers have claimed all the blocks, and we think it’s a real thing.”

So completely and totally agree.

The kicker was when he shared his strategy for getting past a stuck spot:

“I always like to have another story, another introduction, another work, and I’ll just go and work on that, while somewhere in the back of my mind I’m churning over why I’m stuck and what went wrong and figuring out how to go forward,” he said.

This was a vindication of sorts. I have so many friggin’ projects going at one time it isn’t funny, but it is a coping mechanism. If I feel stuck on one, I move to the next. And the next. And the next.

Sometimes however, it just feels like too much. As if all of the “I don’t know how to proceed with this” catch up to me and I can’t stand to look at another one. That’s been these past two weeks.