Monday, October 21, 2019

How to Procrastinate- From an Expert

We all do it. We procrastinate about doing things that maybe we don't want to, but have to do. Things that are complicated and will take over our lives. Things that may be unpleasant. Things that maybe aren't that bad, but well, we just don't feel like doing at the moment.

Sometimes writing and revising are like that. Have to do it, need to do it, don't want to do it. Writers come up with great ways to procrastinate. Here are some of my better ones...

  1. My desk is a mess! How can I work with it like that??? Which of course, once you start cleaning, there are papers to go through, dusting, reading scraps of paper with ideas for books that you want to keep because you intend to turn those notes into novels. There's that darn file, drawer, closet, etc. that now need to be cleaned... It's a deadly avalanche of distractions.
  2. I need to go shopping because I have to have more... pens, paper, notebooks, cheesy fries, toothpaste, etc. Doesn't matter what it is, you MUST have it.
  3. The kitchen I've been meaning to paint all summer... I HAVE to do it NOW because  Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming and I'm having guests, and with three boys, the walls are a bit scruffy looking, and smoke has darkened the color. 
  4. I'm not wasting time on the internet, I'm researching for the next novel or two.... 
  5. I can get the revisions done in almost no time, and I'm under no deadline. I have plenty of time. 
I'm sure you have your favorites, your good old standbyes. If you're procrastinating, maybe there's an underlying reason. Struggling with this manuscript, I've already gone through it, page by page, editing it on paper because it couldn't be done on my laptop because the revisions included moving chapters around, adding, subtracting, and reworking the entire story. (I wrote it before cell phones were commonplace.) All I have to do now is type in the changes. But as I look at all the edits, add-ins, cross outs, I'm afraid because it's such a mess.

What's weird is that I'm two thirds through; why can't I just buckle down and DO IT? I still love the story, and I love the freshness from the changes. Maybe I'm just tired of working on it.

But I need to get it done.

So, I will make yet another promise to finish it this week. (Yep, broke a few of those promises.) I hope to make it this time, but if I don't, I won't beat myself up. It will get done. And the sooner I get it done, I can start on that new #NaNo project (which I'm doing in January, I'm part of that rebel group I wrote about several posts ago). Finishing it means freedom to move on, to start that new book, to stop being critical of myself, and to send it to my agent.

Check back on Monday and I'll let you know how I did. Today's not over, so I still have time to get some pages done...


Monday, October 14, 2019

5 Undeniable Truths About Life...

It's Monday, blog day. I'm keeping it short and maybe not so sweet with 5 truths that we all know:

1- If you have a front loading washing machine, to have to leave the door open to avoid that funky smell, mold, and mildew. (And they don't tell you this in product info or when you're going to buy it.)

2- The absolute BEST glass/window cleaner is a formula it took me years to figure out (without a degree in chemistry, but with simple, basic logic) - In a Windex bottle use this formula: 1/2 Windex, 1/4 white vinegar, 1/4 water. It takes a little longer for the glass to dry, but it comes out cleaner than anything I've found on the market. You're welcome.

3- Never wear any football jersey but an Eagles one if you're going to Philadelphia. You put your safety at risk.

4- No matter how many times you review/revise your manuscript, you always think you should do it 'one more time.'

5- I love Christmas but Christmas movies in July are just a big NO. You should be poolside, at the beach, hiking in the mountains, playing in the grass. There's enough time for Christmas and snow in November/December.

So I'm back to the revisions on my manuscript and praying that my laptop won't quit on me (it's been showing signs that it's end is near....)

Here's a nice pic of my front door to start your week that has nothing to do with anything I've written today, but I'm taking artistic license....

Welcome! Let's have a cup of tea!


Monday, October 7, 2019

Another Golden Day!

It was that time of year- an October Saturday for the Collingswood Book Festival. I had one of my best sales day (parents and teachers loving my Evolution Revolution trilogy!), and except for having cold feet because I did not wear socks and was sitting in the breezy shade most of the day, it was a beautiful day.

I have to give a shout out to my Kidlit Authors Club colleagues. Every year some of us meet here and take group/solo pics, and reconnect. This group is amazing for supporting each other. Check us out at Kidlit Authors Club and see what's new! 

Mr. Dapper himself, MG author David Neilson

One of our newest members, PB author Kell Andrews

MG author Robin Newman, perky as always!

MG author, Darelene Beck Jacobsen  (we usually sit next to each other)

And to my left, YA author Jeffrey Johnston

Wearing my Rutgers jersey was safer than wearing my NE Patriots one!

I had the hubs helping me by taking pics, and sadly... some of my colleagues were in author panels, or attending to business and I didn't get pics of Jodi Moore (PB), Jennifer Robin Barr (PC, MG), or Hallee Adelman (PB). I'm sorry! 

I would be remiss if I didn't shout out to the wonderful organizers of the Collingswood Book Festival. In their 17th year, they have it down to a science. Besides that, I have to acknowledge that the organizers are truly egalitarian. Invited authors are both traditionally and Indie published, authors with brand new books out, and ones that are several years old, authors of fiction, non-fiction, adult, children, best seller, mid-list, and everything in between. They don't judge the book or the author, they open their arms equally to everyone. I don't know another large book festival that can make that claim. That's being SUPER pro-author. And I thank them! 

The people of Collingswood need a salute too! They show up rain or shine to buy books, talk to authors, and support reading and writing. One young reader wanted my Sirenz book, but didn't have enough money to buy it from the bookseller. The price was $7.99 plus tax; she had $5. The longing in her eyes was so intense, I sold her a copy for $5. The joy on her face to get the signed book reminded me why I write. I may not have sold as much as the featured more well-known authors, but this young girl made my day. I wish her joyful reading! 

Next year, I want to see YOU there! 


Monday, September 23, 2019

Prepping For NaNoWriMo- or Your Next Book Whenever You Write It

It's that time. First day of fall. Pumpkin spice you-name-it. Closing the pool. Back to school.

Photo courtesy of Marina Sirazetdino, Pexels.


If you're going to do #NaNoWriMo, or even if you're simply getting ready for your next novel, here are 5 easy steps to do BEFORE you start writing.

  1. Have a solid concept of your story idea. Don't say, "Well, it's about this guy who goes into space and meets an alien and they become friends." That's not detailed enough. Ok, you introduce your main character, he flies in to space and meets the alien........and then.....What? You have to have several conflicts and setting changes. Does he get caught in the middle of a galactic war? Does he find something that he shouldn't have? Does he develop a super power because he went through a wormhole? Write several sentences summarizing your novel. (You don't have to stick with it, but it gives you a good starting point.) Some people like to write one sentence per chapter- those are the plotters. Pansters- (I used to be one) writing whatever comes into your mind- you're putting pressure on yourself to remember where you were going every time you stop/start. 
  2. Do a character sketch. Make sure you know what your character looks like so in chapter one when you say her eyes are a stormy blue, you don't write in the third that she has emerald green eyes. You should know hair color, ethnicity (or species), physical characteristics, personal traits and idiosyncrasies, etc. If you know them well enough, like down to their favorite food, you can choose one for interesting development. Say your character hates green foods. Maybe she goes to someone's house and all they eat are green foods. It makes for interesting dinner conversation, social awkwardness, and opportunities for conflict. Write a character biography, complete with a picture, maybe based on a celebrity you imagine your character resembles. Download the pic and put it into the biography for quick reference. (It's a good idea to do this for all characters, even minor ones.)
  3. Set a schedule. It's harder to grab free time to write than it is to stick to a schedule. Got crazy, busy days? Maybe schedule writing time while your son is at soccer practice, or you're with your parent at physical therapy, or you're sitting at the airport. Work around your schedule beforehand so you're not in panic or guilt mode later on. Also, whether in NaNo mode or setting your own personal goal, look to see where you can block out some time for extra writing to get ahead (because Thanksgiving is in there....) or to catch up (hey, life happens). You won't beat yourself up and give up because you know there is time to catch up.
  4. Make notes when you get an idea. If you suddenly get a brilliant idea, don't wait to put it into your writing; make some notes immediately. It could be hours or another day before you go back to writing and by that time, the idea could be gone. You'll be so angry with yourself. I don't care if you have to write it down on your arm. Or the bottom of your shoe (I have). Put it in your phone. Or ask someone to shush for a moment. It could be the stroke of genius you need to blaze through to the end of your novel. 
  5. Do. The. Research. Don't wait until you start your story to find out you need to know how dogs are trained to be therapy animals to write your book. Know what your settings look like. If it's a real place, do both Google maps and Google Earth. If it's a made-up place, draw your own map with landmarks, rivers, etc. Know the technology if it's a space story. If it's history, find out what they wore, how the spoke. Trying to write the story without a good chunk of basic research done only makes your story harder to write, and even harder to revise. Plus, during research, you will glean information and ideas that may take your story in a fresh direction. 
So there ya go. If you're doing #NaNoWriMo starting on the first of November, you have ample time to accomplish all five tasks above. If you're like me and doing the rebel NaNoWriMo in January because that month has nothing going on (not even the Super Bowl), then you have time for a few more pumpkin spice whatevers. 

Wishing you luck-


Monday, September 16, 2019

Revising NaNoWriMo

November is #NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. You take 30 days and write 1,667 words a day to complete a rough draft novel of 50,000. I usually do it every year.

This year, I'm revising NaNoWriMo and here's why. On Saturday I attended the Albany Book Festival at SUNY Albany. Chatting with my tablemate, Johanna Spero (*waves) I found out there is an underground movement in NaNoWriMo: doing it in January.

Seriously, whoever conceived of doing 1,667 words a day in NOVEMBER, when we have the prep of Thanksgiving and teachers' conferences, and the prep for Christmas, obviously wasn't a person with schoolkids, or families who descend on them for an all-out holiday meal. It's just too insane. When Johanna told me about a renegade group who does NaNoWriMo is JANUARY, I was like, wait, what? AFTER the holiday rush? During the crappy winter when all you want to do is stay inside? When there are no holidays? When the college kids have returned to school and soccer/football is over? It's freaking GENIUS. I salute these brilliant people and am joining your ranks. Every year I burn the all-night oil to get at least several days ahead because who can write on Thanksgiving Day when you're cooking, and stuffed, and visiting? The day before- it's all prep. The day after, it's cleanup. Then starts the Christmas madness. It was insane, draining, and I came to dread trying to catch up before the 30th deadline. So many people gave up because they felt like failures. It was a Herculean task, at best.

Photo courtesy of Energepic, Pexels. 

No more! I am free! January is perfect. And while we're here, let's talk about #NaNoRevMo, or National Novel Revision Month. Again, who is this crazy person that thought revising your rough draft in JUNE was a great idea?? Oh, sure, the kids aren't in school, they are HOME, or you have to take them to camps. There are weddings, graduations, First Communions, etc. If you write your novel in January, the best time to revise it would be September. Kids are back in school, and yes, you have the sports to deal with, but it's easier to revise a few pages sitting in the car while the kids practice than it is to write.

So RISE UP! Revolt against the oppression of trying to write a novel in November! Free yourself! No disrespect to those who do it in November, I did it for a number of years, but this year, I take control of my own NaNoWriMo.

Join the Rebellion! 

Photo courtesy Pixabay, Pexels.

As long as you keep writing-


Monday, September 2, 2019

How Am I Supposed to Have a Happy Labor Day?

Happy Labor Day!

Or restful.

Or lazy.

Or fun.

Or whatever. 

I'm taking the day off. I have to deal with the end of summer. I'm not ready for fall and dying flowers, cold days, less sunlight, and closing my pool.

I need to sulk. 

Photo courtesy of Flora Westbrook, Pexels. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Waste Not - Want Not?

I know a very talented artist. Won awards. Got scholarships for his talent. Sadly, he turned them down and studied Criminal Justice. And then worked in the food industry. He never seriously picked up a pencil or brush after high school.

Photo courtesy of Alicia Zinn, Pexels. 

And I think, 'what a waste.'

If I had that talent, I'd do so much... Besides writing, I would illustrate books. I'd make art not only for books, but for my house, heck, maybe even sell some next to my books.

But I understand why someone would not want to use their talent. It's draining. You're constantly bombarded with ideas and possibilities, and it drives you crazy when you can't bring those ideas to fruition. You spend so much time in your head; characters won't shut up, demanding to have their story told or drawn. Life demands a lot and there's only so much time, motivation, and opportunity. I'm reminded of artists who suffer for their art; little or no recognition or appreciation during their lifetime so they face not only frustration but economic hardship.

So be kind when you think someone is 'wasting' their talent/skills by not using them. There are many reasons why they don't. And, keep in mind when you're looking at someone's work, what went into creating it. Don't begrudge them the price of their hard earned work. Whether painting, novel, jewelry, or other craft, much time and effort went into it. Give artists their due.

They deserve it.