October 31, 2012

Sharing Cuties: ROW80 Update

OMG... November 1 is tomorrow. Actually, it's in one and a half hours. My brain is so overwhelmed and preoccupied with all things NaNo.

So, I thought I'd post cute Halloween pictures of my kids and dog today.

My oldest as Catwoman
My middle as a ladybug

My baby as Katy Perry

And finally, my unhappy dog who did not want to participate in Halloween at all...

As far as my ROW80 update, my NaNo insanity starts tomorrow. My goal is to write 50,000 words in November. Wishing all my fellow ROW80 NaNo participants muse-filled days!

October 28, 2012

Bride of Frankenstorming: ROW80 Update

There's a storm coming... a big one according to weather reports. They've even nicknamed it Frankenstorm. Just in time for Halloween and a little frightening thing called NaNoWriMo.

I live in the Bubble of "these people are totally screwed" of course.

I've spent the last couple of weeks prepping for NaNo by getting all my Life ducks in a row. I cleared my calendar for the last few days leading up to November 1 to make sure I was ahead and ready to go. I even outlined my focus on saying No for NaNO last week: I Wish to Say No. Too bad I can't just say No to things like Frankenstorm.

Life is a funny b**ch sometimes, isn't she? School has already been cancelled for the next two days as have all activities.

Handed lemons, I decided to do my best this evening to rally the troops and make some lemonade. My preteen daughter really wants to help me plot my NaNo entry. She reads young adult all the time, so I think she'll be a good resource. The next couple of days we'll put our heads together and do some major brainstorming (or frankenstorming, if you will). Just call me the Bride of Frankenstorming.

I've decided not to fear Frankenstorm. It's coming just as much as November 1 is coming. Let's just hope it doesn't take out my power. My laptop only has about a three-hour battery life.

In all seriousness, however, I hope the storm is less than what they expect and I'm praying for safety for all of those in its path.


A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update

My goals for Monday and Tuesday this week...
  • Continue brainstorming for my NaNo piece, Chasing Memories.
  • Prep the next three weeks of review posts for Mom in Love with Fiction.
  • Get as ahead as I can on editing projects.
  • Spend some time commenting on blogs, since I know November will be lacking in social media.
Starting November 1, my only goals will be...
  • Write a minimum of 1,667 per day. I'd like to start off stronger in anticipation of Life and other commitments getting in the way later in the month (Hello, Thanksgiving!).
  • Post Sunday & Wednesday NaNo updates (serving as ROW80 updates). I hope to post Monday and Fridays as well, but I'm staying flexible.

October 24, 2012

I Wish to Say No: ROW80 Update

Victoria Musgrave had a beautiful post today based on the following Jamie Ridler Wishcasting Wednesday prompt: What do you wish to say yes to?

My mind started racing, but I quickly realized something. I say Yes easily, it's the No I need to really think about. Or, rather, I am saying Yes to saying No.

So, I wish to say...

... No to the things that distract me from my purpose. Take note social media, especially during NaNo.

... No to people who don't appreciate the hard work and dedication I give to any project I say Yes to.

... No to those who wish to have me do their work for them. Exception: my children and husband. To them I say, help me, those clothes don't fly their way to the hamper.

... No to taking on any new November projects. NaNo is my focus. And I would like to hang out with my family that month some, too.  

... No to overpacking my day to the point McDonald's is my only dinner option.

... No to ignoring my personal needs to make sure I meet everyone else's.

I am going to focus on saying yes to my writing and my family. For one month, I want to find focus. Yes, I still understand Life will play its games. But I am going in with my eye on what matters most.

Wish me luck.

What do you need to say No to?


A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update

NaNo is a mere week away. I think that's why I'm so focused on saying No to things. But I'm saying yes to...

... Filling out note cards with plot points for Chasing Memories.

... Getting ahead on editing, although not as quickly as I'd like. November 1st is staring me down.

... Accepting what I can't finish by November 1. I'm falling short on prewriting any blog posts. Guess I'll have to wing it. Worst case, I'll make apologies in December for lacking November posts.

October 21, 2012

Writing Tapas-Style: ROW80 Update

My husband took me out to dinner this weekend for some Greek food, tapas-style. We sampled everything from lamb to lollipop chicken (drumstick in a greek yogurt and honey sauce) and finally greek donuts. It was one of the best meals I've had in a long time.

I'm not adventurous when it comes to food. I like what I like, and I only try things when others insist it's wonderful. Even then, I hesitate. But with tapas, you can try samplings of new food without the cost commitment or going hungry.

So, it got this pantser to thinking. I find a traditional outline difficult, it's too much commitment without feeling the flow of the story as it develops, but I can write down samplings of plot developments I'd like to see happen in the story. I pulled out a pack of note cards, ones I bought for my daughter to use when studying.

Then I proceeded to pack my NaNo bag.
A NaNo bag?

Yes, this is the OCD side of me (how that works with being a pantser, I'll leave to you to figure out). I have been summoned to my first ever jury selection process tomorrow. Yes, I'm 40, but I've moved so often this is the first time a state discovered my residency before I left. Well played, Maryland. Well played. (We moved here 11/10.)

Back to my NaNo bag. I decided to have my writing laptop (a wonderful 40th birthday gift from hubby) in a bag with my note cards, pens, pencils, and a steno pad. For tomorrow, it's my get-things-done-at-court bag. But during NaNo, it'll be the bag I grab as I head out the door each morning to hit Starbucks early. I realize that's the only way I'll be getting even close to 50,000 words done. No distractions.

I'm excited to try out my new tapas-style writing (note cards) and NaNo bag during my jury selection day tomorrow.

What would be in your writing bag?


A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update

  1. Planning for Chasing Memories, my NaNo piece ----> I started detailing plot ideas on the note cards. I have five detailed note cards so far. Each notecard ends up roughly being a chapter, so I'd like to do five more by Wednesday.
  2. Make a character list for Chasing Memories ----> I'm making note of characters and names within the note cards so far. I'll transfer them to one list before November 1.
  3. Prewrite two blog posts for November ----> I didn't even write a Fascinating Friday post. Well, I did, but I forgot to publish it, so I saved it for November. That's cheating, and I still only have one post ready for November. I hope to have one more by Wednesday.
  4. Edit three chapters on BT, to get ahead on my editing schedule ----> Done, plus an extra chapter. I need to get four more done this week and two chapters done on another editing project. All by Wednesday. Feeling the pressure.
  5. Spend 30-45 minutes each day exploring the NaNo site ----> Fell behind on this the last few days. Hope to catch up before November 1.
Hope all my writer friends are accomplishing their goals! 

October 17, 2012

Chocolate Fixes: ROW80 Update

As part of my NaNoWriMo conditioning, I'm going to work on keeping my blog posts short and sweet.

Let's take a look at the new A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) goals I set on Sunday.
  1. Start outlining Chasing Memories, my NaNo piece -- would like to be halfway by Wednesday's check-in ----> Here's what I quickly realized as I stared at a blank page with the intention of outlining... I'm a full blown pantser. Now I'm even more terrified of NaNo. I'm going to keep this goal until Sunday and hope I can force some general ideas on the page, even if it's not a full blown outline.
  2. Make a character list for Chasing Memories ----> A good start to this. But knowing my characters is dependent on that silly outline thingie. *head smack*
  3. Prewrite two blog posts for November ----> Were you laughing when I set this goal? I can barely get my normal blog posts done. I did prewrite this Friday's post. Does that count? I am, however, going to keep this goal for Sunday's check-in.
  4. Edit three chapters on BT, to get ahead on my editing schedule ----> Halfway. Will finish and send to client by Friday.
  5. Look at November review schedule and plan a schedule to get ahead on commitments ----> Done. But I realize I have a lot of reading to do by 10/31. That's okay, sleep is overrated.
  6. Spend 30-45 minutes each day exploring the NaNo site ----> Great, another site to completely suck away chunks of time. Although I am finding it quite fascinating.
Now for a light-hearted moment...

I have a candy corn obsession. I eat them until I feel sick. There, I said it. On a recent trip to Target, I discovered what possibly could be the best invention ever...

Is there anything chocolate can't make better?

I hope the idea of this brightens your day as much as it brightened mine. Now I'm off to edit.

October 15, 2012

It's a Party! A Giveaway and Excerpts

I'm thrilled to be featured on Jo Michaels blog today as part of her week-long Blog Party. I met Jo during June's Author Blog Challenge, and we quickly realized how much we have in common. We've joked that we were separated at birth.

Jo Michaels - Website
In addition to her informative blog, she is a multi-published author and mom of five. Her books: The Abigale Chronicles: Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3; Yassa; The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book; and Mystic ~ Bronya. Upcoming releases include Mystic ~ Lily (10/30/12) and Mystic ~ Sheila (12/21/12). For more information about her books, please visit her website.

As part of her blog party, I am giving away a signed paperback copy of Depression Cookies. Hop over to her Blog Party post to enter. While you are there, I hope you will enjoy my interview.

An excerpt:

Jo: Why write a book like Depression Cookies? What was the driving force behind it?

We knew we had a story to tell. Since my family did move a lot, sometimes all we had was each other. I am the oldest of three girls, and I don’t know what I would do without the women in my life. But, women can also be their own worst enemy. Women are at the core of some of my best moments, and some of my worst. We hoped a book with two distinct, but interconnected, female perspectives would open up a dialogue between women about the choices we have and the ones we make.


For more fun, I wanted to share an excerpt from Depression Cookies, a coming of age story woven around the heart of family triumph. It is told from two distinct vantage points, middle-aged mother, Abby, and her teenage daughter, Krista.

In this excerpt, Krista is struggling with "mean girls" at her middle school. They have ambushed her at school and made sure nobody will talk to her, all because of a misunderstanding. She's lost. To a 13-year-old, this feels like the fight of her life.

Excerpt from Chapter 22:
It was the eye of the tiger;
it was the thrill of the fight.
Rising up to the challenge of our rivals
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye . . . of the tiger.

I stood in the middle of a wrestling ring struggling to keep up with my opponent. Punches were flying. Our quick moving feet seemed like a dance rather than a fight for our lives. I ducked my head but not quickly enough. A punch landed. I stumbled but managed to stay on the mat. This was no longer a friendly match—this was personal. I charged my opponent headfirst. My head hit its target, but the jolt did more damage to me. Landing on my butt, I looked up in time to take a jab to the face, then one to the back. I felt disoriented. How many people was I fighting? The crowd had faces, and the stadium suddenly became a small room at my high school. More punches landed. No longer knowing who I was fighting, I knew the importance of the event. Fear began to choke me. My only option was clear. I had to run. Had to get away.

“I must run, must . . .”

“Honey, it’s okay. Wake up. It’s morning. Time to get ready for school,” Mom said, leaning over my bed. She wiped my forehead with the back of her hand. “You’re all sweaty, are you feeling okay?”

“Mom, I’m sick. I don’t think I can go to school,” I said. I didn’t have the strength, especially not after that nightmare. I needed to think, to come up with a plan. Maybe it wasn’t too late to apologize, but I was afraid it would only make me seem weaker. The last thing I needed was Cindy or Kerry or both going in for the kill.


Thanks for visiting today! Please stop by the blog party and enter to win a signed copy of Depression Cookies, and feel free to share the link with friends and family.

October 14, 2012

Pace and Race: ROW80 Update

Pace, don't race. It's been my mantra for over a year, both in writing and training for my first half marathon.

Used with permission from
Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com.

Now, as I stare down the November 1 start to NaNo, I need to embrace a new idea... pace and race. A month to do 50,000 is more of a sprint than an endurance exercise. But, 30 days isn't really a sprint either. Writing 1,667 (averaging 50,000 words over 30 days) a day for 3 days would be more of a sprint. It will take endurance to keep it up for 30 days.

However, considering my normal writing output, 50,000 words in a month is a sprint.

All of this to say, I am going to spend the next 17 days conditioning myself for an intensely long sprint. To that end, I have new goals for this round of ROW80.

(Maybe I should add some finger workouts to avoid the scenario in the comic to the right!)

My New Round 4 Goals --
Week of October 14
  1. Start outlining Chasing Memories, my NaNo piece -- would like to be halfway by Wednesday's check-in
  2. Make character list for Chasing Memories
  3. Prewrite two blog posts for November 
  4. Edit three chapters on BT, to get ahead on my editing schedule
  5. Look at November review schedule and plan a schedule to get ahead on commitments
  6. Spend 30-45 minutes each day exploring the NaNo site
My overall goal is to use the next 17 days to prepare as much as I can for a crazy November.

Wish me luck!


And now for some fun... please check back tomorrow for details on how to win a signed paperback copy of Depression Cookies.

October 12, 2012

National Novel Writing Month: Fascinating Facts Friday

Yes, this week I'm a bit obsessed with my decision to join National Novel Writing Month, or what is affectionately known as NaNo or NaNoWriMo. Since it was on my brain, it seemed the perfect subject for my Fascinating Facts Friday feature.
About NaNo

- 50,000 words in 30 days... it's that simple. It's not meant to produce an edited, ready to publish novel. Instead, it gets writers writing.

- Chris Baty, along with 20 other writers, started the challenge in 1999. It's now run by The Office of Letters and Light, a nonprofit company. Their company motto: We believe in ambitious acts of the imagination. For year-to-year NaNo History and growth, visit their History page.

- In 1999, they had 21 participants and six winners. In 2011, they had 256, 618 participants and 36,843 winners.

- Number of words logged during the 2011 event: 3,074,068,446.

- Sara Gruen drafted Water for Elephants during NaNo. For other success stories, visit here.

- Top 5 NaNo cities (according to Google Analytics)
  1. New York
  2. London
  3. Seattle
  4. Toronto
  5. Sydney
I'm so excited to be a part of a program dedicated to writing all over the world.

Happy Friday!

October 10, 2012

Going for the Words: ROW80 UPdate

This past Sunday, I asked for advice about joining NaNoWriMo: Write Me, Maybe. As I've come to expect from my wonderful writing community, the comments rocked!

A special thank you to those who commented with advice and encouragement: Donna McNicol, Jo Michaels, Melissa of Melissa Writes, Elizabeth Anne Mitchell, Beth Camp, Mitsuraki, Alberta Ross, Christina of The Girl Who Writes, and Shan Jeniah Burton. Without your comments, I would not have had the courage.

For the last two years, I've talked myself out of it. I have three kids. I've never written close to 50,000 words in a month. What if I can't do it? And on and on. But I've been talking about stopping the excuses and having flexibility with focus.

How is 50,000 words flexible, you might ask?

It's not, but how I view a successful completion of NaNo is. If I end the month with 30,000 words, am I failure? It's 30,000 words I didn't have before. So, I decided to go for the words and signed up.

Now, I need to reassess my writing goals, especially leading up to NaNo and during the month of November writing. I'd also love some Nano buddies, so if you are participating this year, please friend me here.

But for today, I'm just going to soak in the new badge and commitment. New goals and plans will be announced on my Sunday post.

If you missed my post on Sunday and have participated in NaNo, I'd love some more tidbits on how to survive my first NaNo. Please share.

October 8, 2012

Muse? Oh Muuuuse? Guest Post by Kim Switzer of Musecraft

Who doesn't need to coax their Muse out from the shadows occasionally? You sit down to write, and nothing. It's frustrating.

Today, I am thrilled to welcome Kim Switzer. I've come to think of her as the Muse Whisperer.

I met Kim as part of A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) and then worked one-on-one with her this summer. She motivated and inspired me with her simple and effective ideas. Since then, my Muse has been more accessible. So, I asked Kim if she would share with us some of her techniques for encouraging our Muses.  

Muse? Oh Muuuuse?
by Kim Switzer

Did you ever have your Muse take off on vacation in the middle of a story? Or even at the beginning, or worse, before you even get started? Yeah, me too. It’s normal; it happens to all of us at one time or another.

I have a few things that can help us get her back, though.

  • Take a shower, wash dishes, go swimming.  There’s something about combining water and physical activity that seems to call the Muse out of hiding.
  • Grab a hula hoop, dance in the middle of the living room, color, let your inner child out to guide you.
  • Buy her flowers. Muses love beautiful things and gifts. Remind your Muse and yourself that you and your writing are important and worth giving time and attention to. Sometimes just knowing that you are paying attention can get your Muse to let the words flow again.
  • Keep a list or file of things you’re interested in learning. Include things you want to research, classes you might like to take (online and in-person), tutorials you'd like to try, workbooks you’d like to go through, etc. When inspiration feels low, try one of the tutorials or classes or workbooks, learn something new or an advanced version of something you already know, and let the new information stir your creative juices.
  • Immerse yourself in other people's work. Spend time with work that is similar to what you want to create. Let yourself imagine how you would have done the same piece of work
  • Get absorbed in things that are different from what you do. Just as above, immerse yourself in other people's work, but this time choose things that are different, even opposite, from what you want to create. Pick non-fiction if you're a fiction writer and vice versa. Pick things that aren't even writing--attend a gallery opening, peruse photography websites, read about sculpting. Imagine how you might incorporate some of these things into your own work.
  • Schedule in regular downtime--daily if possible but at least 2-3 times a week. Your creative mind needs that space. Your Muse needs time to dream, and she needs quiet space to whisper into and have you actually hear her. 
  • Find a couple of good blogs and communities to be active in online. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to follow dozens of them. Two or three will let you actively participate and really be part of the community, so browse around and find some that really call to you.
  • Go to Amazon or another online bookseller. Read descriptions and samples of books you love and books similar to what you're trying to write. Let others' ideas inspire yours. 
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes and freewrite about your story. Don’t write any of the actual story, just write about what kind of story you want to write, what feeling you want people to have when they read it, what elements you want to put into the story. If you are trying to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B, write about what sorts of things might need to happen in the middle to get you there.
  • Freewrite about why you think you’re stuck, what is holding you back and causing you to stumble.
  • Write yourself a letter from your Muse. Let her tell you what she’d like from you, what kind of writing set-up she’d like to have. Invite her to tell you anything at all, even if it’s not about your writing. Then try out some of her suggestions.
  • Have coffee, lunch, drinks with a sympathetic friend who will listen to you talk about your story. Tell her about being stuck—voicing your frustrations is okay; you need to get them out. But then tell her everything that is good and exciting about your idea, all the reasons you wanted to write in the first place. Remember that you love to write.
  • Finally, if you are still having a hard time getting back into your work, take a hiatus. Give yourself time off from writing, at least a week, but take as long as you need. The only rule here is to pick a date when you will return to your writing. Put it on your calendar, and when that day comes, give yourself a block of time to spend with your writing even if it’s just to read over what you’ve written and take a few notes.

A bit about me: I’m a professional Muse, practitioner of whimsy, and certified Kaizen-Muse™ Creativity Coach.  I’m the owner and head Muse at MuseCraft™.  I’m a writer—mostly paranormal and urban fantasy stories.  I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a post-graduate teaching certification in English Language and Literature, but mostly I love sharing the feelings of joy and pleasure and excitement that come from engaging with your creative dreams, which is how I became a creativity coach.

Wonderful advice, Kim. Thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing it with us.

What do you do when your Muse isn't cooperating?

October 7, 2012

Write Me, Maybe (NaNo): ROW80 Update

I want to be finished
and this is crazy
But just join NaNo
and write me, maybe?

Clearly, I'm influenced by my kids' music. This song is always in my head, but lately my newest WIP has been begging me to commit and write.

Could NaNoWriMo be the answer?

My idea for a Young Adult novel is fleshed out in my head, and I've made quite a bit of notes, but I've only written disjointed scenes. Is this the kind of piece you take to NaNo?

I'm still working on the Depression Cookies follow-up with Mom, but it's hard to write while I'm waiting on a chapter from her. If I write ahead and she throws me a curveball, I have to rework. That gets frustrating. Even though we have a plan, we let the story unfold as our Muses dictate.

But I'm also afraid to continue to put my other WIP on the back burner. I don't want to lose the feel for the story. I'm balancing that fear with the fear of attempting 50,000 words in a month. Something I've never even come close to.

So, I ask of my writer friends, both those who have done NaNo and those who are considering it for the first time, to give me some encouragement to just sign up. Or, tell me I'm crazy and to focus on the WIP that's already 50,000+ words in.


A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update

Writing: Since I just sent a new chapter off to Mom, I turned to outlining my YA WIP. I wrote a few scenes and a character interview (trying to flesh out how my YA character in this is different from Krista in Depression Cookies, a character I know inside and out). This is what got me thinking about NaNo, because I'm excited about this story. What if I can't maintain that feeling through November?

Editing: Contacted my client and set up a schedule to keep us both focused. Excited!

Blogging: Keeping to my less-hectic and more doable schedule of Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Tomorrow, I'm excited to host a guest post by fellow ROW80er, Kim Switzer. Please stop by. She's sharing ideas for keeping the Muse engaged.

Social Media: Of course I wish I could visit even more blogs and leave more comments, but I'm finding balance.

Reading: Thanks to a rainy and cold weekend, I made some headway in my reading commitments.

Yeah for progress. Hope everyone is enjoying some round 4 progress.

October 5, 2012

Mark Twain: Fascinating Facts Friday

Welcome to another edition of what strikes my fancy, aka Fascinating Facts Friday.

My 7th grade daughter and I were talking about the "old English" (her words, not mine) in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, her assigned reading this quarter. Her teacher sent her home with a list of vocabulary words from the text.

I pride myself on being a word nerd, so my daughter decided to quiz me. Here's some examples from her list:


I'm going to out myself. The two that stumped me: conflagration (a large destructive fire) and lugubrious (mournful, dismal). My daughter was thrilled to have stumped me since just this week she asked me to stop using the words catawampus (although I love askew and wonky as well), discombobulated, and fastidious. She said they made me sound uncool and nerdy. What she doesn't know is that I embrace uncool and nerdy when it comes to words.

But back to her point about old English. Whatever happened to the beauty and complexity of the English language? I know using too many "big words" can come across as pretentious, but sometimes the bigger words do more justice. Pretentious has a beauty that showing off doesn't. Oh, or ostentatious. Yummy.

Since I'm using Mark Twain to illustrate my love of the language, it only seems fitting to share some of his musings...

"Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream."
"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."
"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."
"A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read."
"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't."
Read more at BrainyQuote.

What's your favorite big word? How do you feel about using "old English" in writing?

October 3, 2012

Changing the Nothing: #IWSG & ROW80 Update

It's the first Wednesday of October and time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group (#IWSG) therapy session. From the mastermind behind the group, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the group's purpose is "To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"

"Nothing changes, if nothing changes." Earnie Larsen

After a rough few rough months of writing, I was in a rut that seemed to be getting deeper and deeper. I lamented about how crazy and helter-skelter life had become. Then I realized something. Life is always that way, I was just letting it get me down. I can't change Life, but I can change the way I react to the challenges.

Sounds mature, doesn't it?

I can't take the credit. Monday, I was listening to Sandi Tuttle's weekly BlogTalk radio show: When Life Happens. Sandi said many things I needed to hear, and please forgive my paraphrasing:

You Can't Stop Life, What Matters is How You Deal

Too often I try to control what cannot be controlled. I make list after list and plan. Then when things don't work out, I label myself a failure. Instead of seeing what I am accomplishing, I tend to ONLY notice the items not marked off the list. Then, as Sandi so eloquently put it, I "immobilize myself." As much as I might like predictable, it isn't reality.

Life is "Chaos, with Occasional Moments of Sanity"

For the past six months, I have been whining about how crazy life has become. Constantly asking, "When will it get back to normal?" I must face that this is normal. Sane moments are to be relished, not expected. And, GASP, sometimes I will not be able to get it all done... especially when I set expectations based on sanity.

Now to how I'll change that nothing...

As I mentioned Monday, I am going to embrace chaos as a way of life. Flexibility and focus are my new armor. I am paring down the commitments that do not benefit my ultimate goal, which is to finish my two WIPs. I love building my author platform and engaging the writing community, but it won't matter if I don't produce words.

Writing comes first.

It's so easy to say. But it's the first sticky note (please tell me I'm not the only one with different colors and sizes, stuck to places all over my house). Okay, the first sticky note after being a mom. Thankfully, kids have a way of forcing your focus in their general direction.

I love social media. Fascinated by it, actually. But it's distracting me from my purpose. Just as blogging daily was. I love the challenge and short-term gratification. No more. From now on, I'll consider this my reward for writing.

Just like with all new things, I'm sure I'll slip back into some old habits. Make the inevitable to-do list with way too many things on it. But, I'm hoping by putting my new focus out there, this wonderful writing community will keep me in check with gentle pushes back to writing.

Sure, I'll stumble. That's the point. I am human. No matter how hard I try, I am not a superwoman. Although I might just be one for Halloween.

What are your top two sticky notes? The ones you really need to focus on.


A Round of Words in 80 Days Update (ROW80)

For those who aren't familiar with ROW80, it's the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Our fearless leader, Kait Nolan, had a great pep talk to open this round: Part of what I want you to learn by participating in ROW80 is how to FAIL SMALL. Instead of saying “Well, I ate out at lunch, so I might as well cheat the rest of the day since I already blew it”, say “I won’t cheat two meals in a row.” Instead of saying “I’m going to write EVERY DAY”, maybe it makes more sense to say “I won’t miss two days of writing in a row.” You may very well have stretches where you write every day. But if you miss a day here or there, then you ought to have that much impetus to get back to it tomorrow. Learn to be okay with these tiny failures. In fact, don’t even think of them as failures. Think of them as Human Moments–those points in time that prove you aren’t a machine.

Thanks, Kate.

My Update

Writing: 1,546 words since Monday's post and spent time on outlining and character notes. I'm so happy with this, especially since it doesn't include today. But I am going to make a slight ammendment to my "write at least an hour Monday through Friday" rule. I'm taking Kate's (and Sandi's) advice.

My new Writing goal: I will write for a minimum of five hours during the week, and will not go two days without visiting my WIP.

Editing: One of the three chapters promised by Friday. Two to go.

Blogging: Posted Monday, today, and already wrote Friday's.

Reading: Need to finish a book to review by tomorrow. 200 pages to go. Might be up late on that one. I'm fulfilling commitments I made when I still thought I had a cape.

Social Media: After my writing yesterday, I finally jumped around to visit some IWSG from last month (sad!) and ROW80 Round 4 goal posts.

October 1, 2012

Embracing Chaos: ROW80 Round 4 Goals

Round 3 of ROW80 was not my finest round. Life seemed to pop up around every corner, surprising me with a delighted, "Got you again." I let it win.

Notice, I said, "I let it."

Sandi Tuttle
Today, I listened to a great Blog Radio show led by Sandi Tuttle: When Life Happens. Sandi has featured me on her show before, and she has a wonderful way of putting things into perspective in a very honest, but humorous, way. Today I felt like she was speaking directly to me.

The show was all about how life happens. She nailed life as, "chaos with occasional moments of sanity." So true, and it's time I embrace the chaos instead of simply wishing it wasn't reality.

I am guilty of all the things she mentioned. I make list after list, commitment after commitment, and then feel like a failure when I don't get everything done. I'll share more about her thoughts and my reaction on Wednesday's ROW80 update and Insecure Writers Support Group (#IWSG) post.

But for now, let me say sum up her advice... we all need to give ourselves permission to be human, to be flexible.

That's what this round is going to be about for me. Flexibility with focus, my new mantra.

My Goals for Round 4 of A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80)

Writing: I will put my butt in the chair and work on my two WIPs for a minimum of one hour a day, Monday through Friday. First thing. This comes before all my other goals, and is the one I will focus on.

I'm choosing Monday through Friday, because I want and need to focus on my family on the weekend. I looked at my almost-thirteen-year-old daughter this weekend and realized she's growing up WAY too fast. I don't want to miss it.

If, and only if, writing is done for the day...

Editing: Since this brings in money in between novels and freelance writing assignments, this is the very next priority. Once writing is done, I will follow a preplanned schedule of editing deadlines. I have written them out, but won't bore you with the details. I have a second read on a very exciting YA novel, a first read on a literary novel (15 chapters to go), and a women's literature piece.

Blogging: I'm going back to a Sunday (ROW80 update), Monday, Wednesday (ROW80), Friday schedule. I will try to use one day a week to prewrite posts. Again, ONLY after my WIP writing is done.

Reading: I truly believe this makes me a better writer, and I do have review commitments. I will plan to read in the evening and during kids' activities (thank you to my middle daughter for three-times-a-week swim practices!). Keep checking my reviews on Mom in Love with Fiction for some great reads.

Social Media: I hate that this is last on the list, but it needs to be. Only after I've done all of the above, will I visit blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It's too alluring for me, and often leads me into other to-dos. If I'm awhile getting around to say Hi, please know that I'm writing.

To my ROW80 friends, what are you doing differently this round?

Just in case you missed the first time, check out my radio spot with Sandi here.