Random Thoughts & Wishes

Monday, 27 February 2012

Today is Monday, so really I should be writing about ‘mommy stuff’, but I’m just not feeling it.
I have so much going on with work right now, plus school assignments due, but all I want to do is work on cheer stuff (did hours worth of choreography tonight and tons of posts on our FaceBook groups) and write. I guess I’ve done enough cheer stuff, so it is time to write.
I had a great writing circle meeting today. Well, we call it a circle, but it’s just the two of us. We are eagerly looking for more members (prefer those who write romance/women’s fiction), but until we find some, we are good company for each other. Today, I told her all about the wonders of Scrivener (I really do love it) and we chatted about taking some of our old manuals we wrote for workshops/classes (mine are cheerleading, hers are stitching) and hawking them on Kindle.
I am getting more and more into this idea since, honestly, a conversation with a colleague last Thursday left me depressed. The fact of the matter is that, short of winning the lottery, our only chance at moving home lies in my saving more money than I make each month. Oh, and I have to do it with another job, because between childcare, university fees, gas, and bills my salary is gone within 24 hours of deposit.
I have heard so many amazing stories about people making a fortune on Amazon by publishing direct to Kindle, but I don’t expect to be the next Amanda Hocking (if only). What I do want to do is find a way to make some extra cash and selling these manuals that are sitting around gathering dust at the moment sounds like as good an idea as any.
I may not have time to get into much of it before my maternity leave at the end of April (there just aren’t enough hours in a day right now), but as soon as I get started, I’ll be sure to post about it.
Now, I need to go get writing.  J

Just Suck It Up & Do It

Friday, 24 February 2012

I just got back from the pub. I can’t believe I made it to 2230! That’s a serious record for me these days. It was the first time I’ve been out on a ‘mom’s night out’ in over two years. Of course, I couldn’t drink anything—being pregnant and all—but I have to admit I had a good time.
I really didn’t want to go. It’s cold out tonight and I’m exhausted from the week, but it occurred to me that I don’t really have friends who are moms and this is something I think I need these days. After all, I’m about to be a mommy of two and I don’t have the opportunity for much me time. I think I need to find some friends who are in similar situations and understand that I can’t drop everything to meet for lunch on a Saturday or stay out half the night on a Friday. Maybe it’s time to make grown up friends.
I was a little surprised when I received the invite. To be honest, I have had a mixed reception at the school gate. Sometimes I am naturally included in the little circles of talk and sometimes things become a bit strained when I walk up. I’m not sure why, not even sure I care, but I knew there had to be at least one of those moms who I could find some sort of bond with.
It turns out there are a few who are more friendly once you’ve warmed up to them. One mom, in particular, was exceptionally nice. They just so happen to live down the street from us, so it would be really convenient to make friends with her and I think after tonight, I have. Her son and mine are good friends and she has a young son as well. Tonight we swapped birthing stories and I confessed that my biggest fear is that my husband won’t even be home when I go into labor. He’s been working away a lot lately. She was very sincere when she told me to call her if I needed anything, especially if I needed help when I go into labor.
It feels good to know that I may be able to develop some sort of support system here. What I miss most is having people I can rely on and being this far from home, I feel really alone.  So, tonight, I am really glad that I made time to go, even though at the time I really didn’t want to. Next, I am going to tackle another thing that I really don’t want to do.
As of this post, the only thing overdue on my to-do list is the re-write of chapter 5 in my WIP. It’s not so much that I don’t want to do it, I guess, it’s just that I am so tired these days, the thought of tucking into it seems like something I should ‘just do tomorrow’. But I am not going to give into the desire to procrastinate tonight, I am going to tuck into chapter 5, even if only to make a preliminary read of it. I already know the good that will come out of getting some work done tonight, even if it is creeping up to tomorrow.
It’s time to press on. What have you done this week that you didn’t want to, but are glad you did?

Wednesday Writing (yes, I know it's Thursday)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

I’m a day late, but here’s Wednesday Writing anyway!
So, I promised some information on upping word counts. I have to admit the reason my word counts tend to be a bit puny is because I barely have time to breathe these days, let alone write. And, again, I know I need to make the time. I’m working on it.
In the meantime, I found a blog post which has some really interesting ways to increase word count. It’s called ‘How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day’ and it’s by Rachel Aaron. You can read it here:
Rachel believes there are 3 elements that when added to writing can boost word counts in extraordinary ways: Knowledge, Time, & Enthusiasm. I’m not going to sit here detailing the whole post, because quite frankly, I want to get to bed. It’s after 2300. What I am going to tell you is it is really worth a read.
Rachel  discusses plotting out scenes in great detail before starting to write them. This is something I have always done, in fact, I can’t write a scene unless I have detailed it to death first. Because of this, I am able to average 1500 words in around an hour and a half. The last scene I wrote was 1649 words in 1 hour and 22 minutes. If you aren’t already doing this, try it. Really, it makes writing scenes a breeze.
She also speaks of having enthusiasm for your work. I have recently started to make detailed chapter outlines and ongoing notes (as I think of things) to keep my ideas fresh and exciting. In the past, my biggest hurdle was chapter 4. Once I got there, I forgot why I was actually excited about the story in the first place. Keeping these outlines has helped me to remember and clear that hurdle.
The third point on Rachel’s triangle is Time. This is my downfall, clearly, but she offers a very good suggestion. She recommends that we keep a spreadsheet with information on our writing sessions like time of day, duration, place, distractions, word count… Once the spreadsheet starts to fill up, we should see a pattern in the time and environment in which we write and word count. The idea is to find the most productive time and environment to work in. I’ve only just started my spreadsheet, so nothing stands out as of yet.
So, I do seem to be putting two of Rachel’s points into practice. Does that mean my word count has risen even somewhat significantly?
Yes and no. I do feel my writing time is more productive, and I do think I am getting a bit better counts (in the past I counted 1k in 1 hour as my goal and often struggled to hit it), but clearly I’m not writing 10k a day. Not even 2k most days. But I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep that spreadsheet and see where it leads me. Maybe then I can concentrate on BICHOK at the right time, with the right preparation, and with great enthusiasm. You never know, one day I may see 10k. For now I’d settle for more like 3k.
Have a read of the post and if you put Rachel’s plan in motion and see significant changes,
I’d love to hear about it.

INSET Days & The Joys of Motherhood

Monday, 20 February 2012

So it’s a teacher’s workday, or INSET day as they call it here. Like it isn’t bad enough that the kids were off all last week, they need one more day. I swear the school schedule here is so relaxed. Last year the kids went to school for a total of 7 days in the month of April. You read that right—7! And all the snow we had which kept us home for about a month… none of that was ever made up. It really is ridiculous.
Not only do I have to worry about the cost of childcare (at least one full week every 5-6 weeks), but if I can’t afford it (I almost always have him home on the INSET day), there’s the trouble of keeping the monster entertained while I work. Unfortunately, I don’t get as much holiday time as he does. Thank God he goes back to school tomorrow!
So, today I am ‘working from home’ all the while listening to play time sound effects (his favourite right now are explosions and airplanes) and temper tantrums of the ‘why-can’t-I-have-a-sweetie’ variety. Miraculously, I have somehow managed to tick off almost all of the tasks on my to-do list. This blog is technically the last for today, but since I am a chapter behind in my WIP, I can’t really claim to be finished once this is posted.
All but a couple of the 12 tasks to-do today were work stuff, but still it really does give me hope for what I’ll be able to accomplish once I’m on maternity leave when I won’t have to leave the house or write up presentations for Head & Neck Cancers. I have honestly worked from 9 to now (3pm) with nearly no break time. Just think what that will mean for my word counts! I know, I’ll have the distraction of a baby, but somehow I think it will still be easier than it is now. I WILL up my daily word counts! I plan to post about upping word counts on Wednesday (I found a really cool blog post about it), so I won’t go off on that tangent right now.
Anyway, I’m writing this blog now rather than waiting for the quiet time after bedtime just in case I’m dead by then. There are a few extra things I’d like to do if I have time as well. It is unlikely that with this much distraction I’ll get started on my WIP. That will probably have to wait until bedtime.
I have tried the ‘bet you can’t stay quiet for 5 minutes’ game. He doesn’t even try.
And all of the Benadryl here is non-drowsy.
Any suggestions?

Obstacles in Writing

Sunday, 19 February 2012

I know this will hardly make up for missing out the posts on both Wednesday and Friday (I am so ashamed), but as I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, life gets in the way sometimes.  The truth is, I would much rather be writing my last scene in Chapter 4 of my WIP than this right now, so I don’t want to waste any time. The monster is in bed (watching a movie) and all is quiet, so I may actually get some writing done tonight!
The fact of the matter is that my biggest issue is with actually sitting down to write. There are always a million things to do that must be done before I can allow myself the luxury of writing. And, yes, for me it is a luxury. Therefore, I don’t want to put it ahead of the things that will peck at me until I get them done.
 I’m one of those people who will obsess about the laundry needing done until I actually do it and that ruins any joy I would get from writing. Now, I know I’m supposed to treat writing like a job (show up, and get to work regardless), but I want to hang on to the wonderful high it gives me. I’d just like to experience that high more often.
Now, I know what everyone says about if you are serious about writing you will find time to write, no matter what, but I wonder how many of those people have a four-year-old, full-time job, 2 university courses, part time volunteer post, house to run… oh and did I mention—no energy since I’m 7 months pregnant? Yeah. Time is not my friend.
And before you lecture, I know I’ve done it to myself and I need to cut back, problem is, I don’t really have anything that can be cut right now. I’m holding out for maternity leave and the end of my classes to regain a little me time. I also hope to get a little energy back (or at least be able to overdose on caffeine) once the baby is here.
I can’t be alone in this. I know there are many other working, floundering mothers (and fathers) out there trying to write a book.
What is your biggest obstacle?

Monday's Missed Goal

Monday, 13 February 2012

Another short post for today, I’m afraid.
I can’t even begin to tell you how eager I am to be on maternity leave, if for no other reason than not to have ‘real’ work to do. I also can’t wait to be finished with my classes. There just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done that I need to get done, but unfortunately, I don’t seem to have a choice. I need to work, I need to finish these classes, I need to tend to my family, I need to keep the house up...
The list goes on and on, which brings me to...
Goal #9
Aim to have all ‘work’ (Biobank, editing, writing, coursework) finished by 5pm each day. Then I can devote my evenings to my family.
I think it’s safe to say that isn’t happening tonight. I am in over my head.
Today’s to-do list includes one task that should have been long finished, but isn’t because I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday half-dead and three tasks which should have been finished yesterday, but I was too busy trying to catch up from last week. It also includes three tasks for today (this blog being one of them). Now, I know that I brought a lot of this on myself by taking 2 classes while working full time, but I am certain there was a time when I could juggle it all. That time has apparently passed.
So, tonight instead of want I want to be doing—writing and spending time with my hubby—I’m going to finish my essay notes and start writing the essay that is due Thursday night. The only high point… my gorgeous hubby made me a yummy dinner in the shape of a love heart.

Yep. I know you’re jealous.

Another Sleepy Saturday Post

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Here’s another late post and with all of the to-do’s left undone on my nifty little iPhone app it’s going to be a short one.
This morning I am rejoicing in the fact that, since it is below freezing outside, my son’s football (soccer) coach decided to cancel practice. I must admit, though, that I was disappointed when I awoke to find that the ground was not covered in snow. I keep seeing FaceBook statuses and Tweets about how pretty the snow is that seems to be everywhere but here—seriously, friends who live 20 miles away have been building snowmen. And what have we gotten here? Freezing rain. Oh we had 2 episodes of flurries yesterday, but I’m not even sure you could legitimately call them flurries. Each spell lasted about 15 minutes and the flakes were so tiny they were difficult to see with the naked eye.
Whether we get a blizzard or not, one thing is for certain. I am not leaving the house! I am going to curl up with repeated cups of tea and work on the two things that are most important to me on my to-do list—the essay which I have due for class next week (not really exciting, but it needs doing) and Chapter 4 or my WIP (I’m about 3 hours from finishing it).
The old ADHD is rearing its ugly head again. Mainly because I read an interview with an author who said not to write what you think will be published, but rather what you want to write. The book you would like to read. While, it’s true that both of my Harlequin WIPs are stories I love and want to write, there’s another story I’ve started which truly calls to me. I haven’t even picked it up in probably 8 months, but it continues to haunt me. I think part of my goals for this weekend will be to find a way to make time for that story without sacrificing the other 2 WIPs.
Well, it’s time to get to work. Have a great weekend everyone!

Goal #10: A Writing Goal

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

My little Scooby, Halloween 2011

Goal #10: A Writing Goal
I am taking liberties here by skipping around as I see fit, but this is the goal
I feel like tackling today.

“Finish at least 2 Harlequin manuscripts by December 2012 and submit them by writing a minimum of 1000 words each day.”
So, yeah. Haven’t really started this one yet. I know it can be done. I’ve even made a ‘timeline’ for completing it. Originally I planned to do 2 chapters per week, but that doesn’t look likely between work, university, Hunter, and the million others things I do each day. It would mean 10k words per week. That’s roughly 10 hours of writing per week. I don’t see having that much ‘free time’ until I go on maternity leave really. I can’t even tell you the last time I found enough free time for a bubble bath!
I have revised that plan and knocked it down to 1 chapter a week/5k words. This seems a bit more reasonable. And I really need to stick to it if I’m going to enter some upcoming contests. Rumor on the Harlequin forums is that Intrigue may be holding some sort of event in the coming months and American may have something in the works for this summer. Unless things have changed, both lines require a finished MS to enter.
If I can keep this goal of 1 chapter per week, I am looking at finishing (first drafts, but still) the first MS, for Intrigue, the week of April 8th and the second, for American, the week of June 10th. That should hopefully make me eligible for both contests.
Honestly, my biggest problem, as I’ve said before, is setting a time so that it becomes routine. I know I need routine in my life—I am a plotter in everything, not just my writing. I also know regular writing creates a good habit that will increase productivity and increase my chances of being published. What I don’t know is when I can write with minimal distraction (no such thing as no distraction in this house) while still having the brain power to turn out reasonable work.
Pre-pregnancy, I used to write at night, after I got the monster to bed. Lately, I’ve been dozing off while he is still coloring and watching Scooby Doo. At like 5pm. I am so dead by the end of the day, I struggle to do anything. Even writing this is taking me ages because I can’t focus or craft coherent sentences.
I thought about getting up early to write, but I am struggling to make myself get up right now. I am quite ill at the moment so ill I’ve been let off work for the rest of the week (at least I should get this week’s chapter done) and told not to speak for 24-48 hours. Long story short—the combination of coughing with a virus and having a blistered throat from acid reflux has left me with a mouse’s voice at best and a whole lot of pain. Ironically enough, I have been trying to make myself get up at 6am instead of 7:30am and today I was up at 4am. Of course, between the pain and exhaustion I couldn’t have written my full name if my life depended on it, so I spent my time trying 101 home remedies which are safe for pregnancy to no avail. I wasn’t alone and ‘undistracted’ for long, though. The monster was up at 5:30 asking for milk, toast, and Scooby Doo.
I do think my only option will be to try to stay awake long enough at night to write after bedtime. It may require copious amounts of coffee and sugar, but it may very well be the only way. It also means moving my blogging to another time of day—possibly lunchtime since I can post from my iPhone. That of course will result in shorter posts, but hey, it can’t be helped. Besides, I am not convinced that all 45 of my followers read these posts anyways. Or even two of them.
All I am convinced of is that I can continue to post for years to come about my road to publication, but until I find more time to write I can’t expect to be published. So, if my blogging suffers a bit while I try to complete these MS-- and the next 10—so be it. I’m not going to quit, or even break my 3-times-a-week stride, just make my posts shorter. Maybe link to other interesting posts more.
Once I finally get The Call from Harlequin, you can be sure I’ll write an extra long post about it.

Goal #2

Monday, 6 February 2012

                             “Schedule a ‘date night’ with my hubby at least once a month. This means
I’ll need to set aside money for a babysitter and dinner or whatever.”

Ok, do I really have to discuss this one? I’m a bit ashamed. I am sorry to say I haven’t even started on this. It sounds great on paper, but in the real world there just doesn’t seem to be the time or money.
This month I am behind on bills thanks to purchasing a dog house, since the dog ate our front door (seriously, there is never a dull moment in this house) and loads of football (soccer for those stateside) gear—shoes, socks, clothes, bag, and ball—for the monster.
Unfortunately, there will be no money left for a date night—not even for Valentine’s Day. I may just be able to buy a card. God, I hate being poor! Not that we are exactly on the poverty line, but I can’t seem to make my paycheck stretch to the end of the bills these days. I never could make it stretch to the end of the month. I really need to find some freelance work to pay off my university debt. Then, while I wouldn’t be sitting pretty, I’d at least be comfortable.
I have made a point of spending more time on the couch watching TV with my hubby lately. And once or twice in the past few weeks, we’ve actually talked. About work, but still I’ll take anything I can get. It seems like the only time we talk these days it’s about money or bills and those are never fun conversations. Maybe I need to start with a movie night for us instead of actually going out. Then all we’d need is the cost of a rental and microwave popcorn. I just need the energy to stay awake long enough to watch a movie.
You will hear this from me more than you probably want to over the next few weeks, but—I am sick of being pregnant!! I’m sick of always being tired and nauseous. I’m sick of not being able to sleep at night. I’m sick of not being able to take anything worthwhile for my non-stop sinus troubles and backache. I’m just ready for April 26th.
In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can find a cheap way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Maybe I’ll make boob & but cookies again this year. They are always a hit.

Fun Friday Author Review (a bit delayed)

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Ok, so I know it is actually Saturday, so I’m late with my Friday post. I had every intention of posting last night, but honestly I got caught up in my WIP and nearly finished an entire chapter. I couldn’t bring myself to stop writing for the sake of a blog post.
So here I am doing a Fun Friday Author Review on a Saturday night.
I am very excited to tell you that I have found a new (or new to me at least) author that I am absolutely loving right now!
It all started when I went on a hunt for a Harlequin Intrigue set in New Orleans. My WIP is set in the Crescent City and also aimed at the Intrigue line, so I figured reading a few would help me see how much the setting needs to interact with the plot. I have a bad habit of getting caught up in description and losing the story, so I wanted an example of maintaining that balance.
First I read The Secret of Cypriere Bayou and then , then Bayou Bodyguard both by Jana Deleon. They did in fact give me a good idea of the balance I was looking for, but I also found that I was drawn to the writing. So I hunted through the kindle store looking for more titles by Jana Deleon and I was delighted to find that she has a number of single titles available.
I have always loved romance and mystery and early on in reading romance, I discovered the Harlequin Duets line (long gone now unfortunately) which included humor, so the humour in any book is certainly a bonus. Also, as a Southern girl, I love nothing more than a good old Southern tale with quirky characters and small town gossip. In reading the descriptions of Jana’s books, I found that they are a delightful combination of romance, mystery, southern charm and humour—perfect!
So far, I’ve only read one of Jana’s single titles—Rumble on the Bayou and I loved it! it had everything—romance, mystery, humor, and southern crazy—the real draw though, was the way she hooked me into buying the book—the mystery starts with an alligator high on heroin. Yep.  Next payday I plan to get Unlucky and then start on her Mudbug series—Trouble in Mudbug, Mischief in Mudbug, and Showdown in Mudbug
I also pre-ordered her new Harlequin Intrigue, The Lost Girls of Johnson’s Bayou, and it magically appeared on my Kindle on the first of February. I can’t wait to start on it!
If you’d like a great Intrigue, check out Jana DeLeon’s Harlequin titles. You’ll be glad you did. But, if you want something a little different and a whole lot of fun pick up Rumble on the Bayou or one of Jana’s other single titles. I’m pretty sure they’ll all be a wild ride.
Happy Reading!!

Writing Routines

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Here I am again, talking about the goals I set for 2012. Unfortunately, today I have to confess that at least one of my goals has never made it off the ground. And it’s a big one.
One of my goals was to set a writing schedule and stick to it. I also said I’d write a minimum of 1000 words per day. I have since realized, that those are really the same goal for me. I also haven’t even started.
I am writing, but I have no set routine and as someone with very little focus, I know I need routine. I need to sort this as soon as possible. I tried getting up earlier, but I’m just too exhausted these days. Tomorrow starts my third trimester and today one of the surgeons I work with suggested I be checked for anemia since I seem to always be out of breath now. It would also explain my total lack of energy. I was ready for bed at 7pm tonight. I would’ve gone to bed, too, if there hadn’t been so many things on my to-do list. As it stands, 3 will be held over to join tomorrow’s to-do list.
I posted Monday about creating habits, which really become routines, so I know how important it is that I make writing a habit. I just need to find the time. If onl there were more hours in the day, you know?
I am counting down the days until my maternity leave, though. Right now, I am on a flexible schedule, which means I leave work early enough to pick up Hunter from school (no childcare to pay), but it also means I have to do about another 3 hours of work from home. I swear, I never feel like I am finished. I am really looking forward to having the entire day to fit in things I want, or need, to do. I know how hard it is to stay at home with a baby, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think once I’m home full-time I’ll ever need to do laundry at 2am. Sometimes I do that now.
When Hunter was born, I spent two years at home with him.  I got absolutely no writing done. I was overwhelmed and terrified and had no idea how to handle being a mom. Writing was the least of my worries. Now that I’ve done it once, I think it will be easier with Scarlett. I plan to spend nine months on maternity leave and use it wisely. I will get into a writing routine. Hopefully one that I can continue even after I go back to work. Of course, I really hope to start that routine sooner than April, but whatever.
Even though I have not found my routine, I am still writing. Or re-writing mostly, since my WIP have gone through a massive overhaul. It is my goal to finish this WIP by the end of February and start immediately on the next one. I hope to get into a rhythm where while I am writing one MS I can edit or plan another. Then I can keep a steady stream of work coming out and increase my chances of being published.
But first I need to set the damn schedule. So I need to find some time in my day where I won’t be distracted, preferably while I still have the active brain cells necessary to string a few words together. Wish me luck.

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