Fiction, Goals, Life, Marketing, Novel, Promotion, Real Life, Social Media, Writing

Teaching an old dog …

Ever since I left my school days behind me, happenstance has ruled my days. As a fairly normal human and stay-at-home mother of four, I observed a schedule of certain daily activities, but I also became a queen of procrastination.

Then my household dwindled to my husband and myself. I ruled my days. As of 2008, on most days, I could spend 8 … 10 … 14 hours writing, if I wanted. And I did. Housework be damned. But as of April, I have a published book. It’s up to me to promote said book. Happenstance is no longer cutting it.

Now I’m feeling the pressure to set a schedule—and stick to it. Every fiber of my being protests. But I don’t think it’s possible to go with the flow any longer and still effectively market one book while writing another. I have to decide what is worth my time and what isn’t.

I can’t do all the things the gurus advise to promote my novel. I’ll have to pick what I think will work for me. If I’m wrong, I’ll try something else. The most important thing to me is to have time to write. I accept that the marathon sessions I had for Brevity are no longer possible. Yet, I cannot write well in 15-minute segments.

Something’s gotta give. I don’t feel like myself anymore. I don’t feel like a writer. I don’t like this life.

Your turn: Are you naturally or do you force yourself to be disciplined with your writing time?

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Books, Fiction, Life, Novel, Reading, Real Life, Writing

The problem with writing …

Are you a writer? Are you a reader? Do you divide your time equally between the two? When I started writing with the goal of publication, my reading time declined—particularly my fiction reading. And my non-fiction reading changed to consist almost exclusively of how-to write books.

During my years of devouring novels, I often thought how wonderful it would be to write my own. It never occurred to me that the authors of those books might not have much time to read. Although, apparently some writers manage to write and read at a pace I envy. Stephen King says, “I’m a slow reader, but I usually get through seventy or eighty books a year, mostly fiction.”

The year I was ten, I read 72 books for the Summer Reading Program. As an adult, that would have been my usual yearly average—before I began writing every day. In 2009, I  started keeping track of books read. That year, I read 24 books, 17 of which were fiction. I read 18 books in 2010, and 14 of them were fiction. I may have forgotten to include a few, but still those are pathetic totals. My to-be-read stack keeps growing (some added are yours), but it doesn’t appear I’ll do any better this year. Unless I change something.

You tell me: How many books do you average reading a year? Do you schedule your reading time?

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Author, Fiction, Musings, My Books, Novel, Publish, Reader, Reflections, Writing

Sometimes, it feels like drowning

Photo by Toni Frissell, 1947. Public domain.

I love losing myself in writing, entering that otherworld, absorbed in transforming the thoughts, feelings, sights of my mind into words. Beautiful words. That dimension seems like a watery place to me. Yet, air-breather though I am, it feels natural to be in that muted place, suspended between the real and the imagined.

It’s been awhile since I experienced that. I still write. Nearly everyday. But I’m just not that into it. Too much of my mind is snagged on the last novel I wrote. The one I’m querying at, possibly, the worst time in the history of print publication. I can’t let go of that dream, though it’s a heavy weight, and my oxygen supply is dwindling. Hoping is beginning to feel like drowning.

Why did I write that novel? That question always floats to the top. Really. Honestly. Truly. Why?

My primary reason was never to make money, which is good considering today’s publishing economy. Yet, I never planned to give it away. I didn’t write it just to see if I could because I’d already done that with another novel. Did I want to publish this one for the prestige? For the right to call myself an author? No, not that either. Though, like not considering it bourgeoisie to earn money from my writing, I wouldn’t be offended to be touted as a novelist.

But imagined money and fame aside, I do seek acclaim of a sort. I want someone—no, I’ll be honest—I want as many someones as possible to read that novel and feel it was worth their time. I want to hear them say Well done. You gave me a gift. You taught me something. You enriched my life for a moment … today … forever.

I want it to matter to someone else that I lived for a while in that otherworld crafting the best story I knew how.

But now, I’m tired of floating at the bottom. I need to consider the options for rising back to the top. There are dangers in these waters I didn’t see before plunging in. These depths are murkier than I first thought. I’m seeking the clarity.

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Family, Life, Real Life, Recipes, Writing

The OMG I Forgot to Start Dinner Shepherd’s Pie

Has this ever happened to you? You opened your WIP, but soon your progress toward the day’s writing goal slowed. so you took a break and opened your email, read your messages, and replied to a few, or several. Then, afraid you were missing something important, you checked in on Twitter for a few minutes. Or longer. You went back to your Word doc, typed a few sentences, deleted a couple, stared into space for a while, and then you opened your blog reader. An hour later—okay, it was longer—you returned to your writing, but, only a few paragraphs on, your friend, or your sister, or your mom phoned.

When the call ended you played a few games of Bejeweled Blitz, or Solitaire, or whatever game you’re addicted to, until it occurred to you a whole new shift of Tweeters had come online. Of course, you needed to check out what they were saying. Oh, yeah … you were supposed to be writing. You checked your word count. Then you checked the clock.

OMG, how did it get to be that late?! You haven’t even started anything for dinner.

Relax, I can help. I cook most of my dinners from scratch—well, more than half—but sometimes I need a hot meal that’s simple and quick, so here’s the recipe for one of my standbys, a quick Shepherd’s Pie. (Unfortunately, the dishing up started before I had time to take the photo.)

1 pound lean ground beef*

Dried minced onion

Celery seed

Worcestershire sauce

1 can mixed vegetables (14-15 oz.)

1 jar of beef gravy (12 oz.)

1 package (24 oz.) prepared mashed potatoes*

Grated romano and parmesan cheese

Grated sharp cheddar cheese (6 oz.)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Brown the ground beef. While it’s cooking, drain the mixed vegetables, pour into a 2 qt. casserole, and heat in microwave. When the beef is cooked, drain and add to vegetables. Sprinkle mixture with celery seed, minced onion, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in about 10 oz. of the gravy. Keep mixture warm. Heat mashed potatoes in microwave and mix in 3-4 tablespoons of parmesan or mixed romano/parmesan cheese. Spread mashed potatoes over beef mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle cheddar over the mashed potatoes and return dish to the oven for 12-15 minutes longer. (Serves 4 adults as main dish.)

* If the meat is frozen, you’ll have to add the time it takes to partially defrost in the microwave and then fry as it continues thawing in the pan.

**Simply Potatoes is the best brand I’ve found.

I can’t match Rachel Ray’s time, but 40 minutes is close, and maybe no one will know you almost forgot to cook dinner.

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