Monday Mayhem – If you need me, I’ll be in my blanket fort

I won’t lie, it’s been a rough year (or two…okay, three) for me. I’ve been struggling with my writing for a while, and this year, I finally hit the wall.

I’ve spent some time sulking and whining, and even more pretending everything is okay, this was just a phase, and I would get through it if I could just focus, manage my time better, buy 3-5 different planners, convert my bulletin board to a kanban, etc.

But mostly, I’ve spent 2019 wondering if I am done.

a woman in bed with her head laying on the computer holding her coffee mug.

I realize now (thanks to this series of videos by Becca Syme), that I’ve been sliding into burnout since about 2016.

Looking back, it’s really no surprise. While 2016 was the annus horribilis personally (and not because of anything political – though that didn’t help), it was an exciting year for me as a writer. I signed contracts, made plans for mass market and audiobook releases, and generally threw myself and my balled up emotion into all the things that go along with writerdom.

I worked steadily through 2017, my eyes on the prize that 2018 was sure to be. 2018 started out fabulous, back to back releases, and a starred review from Publishers Weekly. And then the hits started coming.

Rejection. Disillusionment.

You’d think I’d be used to the subjective nature of the business by now, but you never really get past the gut-punch. Somehow, I muddled through another two lackluster releases, plastered an ‘all is well’ smile on my face and played the conference circuit, then struck back with an ‘I’ll show you’ indie release that netted me more profit in one month than the 4 others have combined since publication.

But it wasn’t about the money.

I was reeling. Am reeling. After 9 years and 39 books, I am out of contract. An orphan. I am a woman with lots of planners, but no plan.

Time to Set Goals Target Aspirations Intention Objective Concept

I’ve spent much of this year dealing with the fallout from what I see now were unrealistic expectations. I’d been listening too much to the noise around me. I’d been immersing myself in the quicksand of social media and other forms of busy work and distraction to self-soothe.

But it isn’t working.

I haven’t been working. I’ve been sulking. And hurting. And wondering if there’s anything left in me.

I’ve had a first draft on my computer that has been thiiiiis close to being complete since November, but I just can’t stir myself to finish it.

But I don’t want to quit. I know that much.

If I did, I would have a while ago, and wouldn’t have spent so much of this year fretting over it. So what to do now? I’ve licked my wounds for long enough. It’s time to figure out how to move on.

My biggest leap will be stepping off the forced productivity treadmill. I will no longer conform to what “everyone says’ is the ‘right’ way to do this author thing.

I will refill my creative well.

I plan to read, listen to music, watch television and movies… In other words, do all the things I eschewed over the last few years in the name of productivity. These are the things that feed me. They spark ideas and give me the impetus to ask, “What if this happened?”

Those who have been around since my Gilmore Girls days know my biggest works of fanfic started with Lorelai asking Luke if he was ‘good at dating’, and I wondered, “What if Luke took that opportunity to tell Lorelai he didn’t want to wait around for her to finally see him and pick him?”

Are you good at dating?

I want to get back to that feeling…the need to explore possibilities within my books. The possibilities inside of me.

So yeah, that’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about what goes on inside my brain. But there you have it.

If you need me, I’ll be in my blanket fort.

Portrait of cute girl sitting under blanket and reading a book

Monday Mayhem – Save Ferris!

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Yes, I am taking the sage advice of Mr. Ferris Bueller this week and taking of for a fun-filled weekend with my girlfriends. It’s been far too long since I’ve been able to spend time with them.

Life has been moving pretty fast.

The last time I was with them was 2015, and this happened:

Can you blame me for hoping something equally awesome happens this time?

So far we have karaoke, pedis, pool time, and possibly a day trip planned.

I. Cannot. Wait.

If you don’t hear from us in the next couple weeks, collect some bail money, will ya?

Monday Mayhem – Vacation…all I ever wanted

We got away this weekend! My company took a long holiday weekend, so Fodder and I ran away to the river. We found an adorable AirBNB on the edge of the Buffalo National Forest just big enough for Fodder, me, and our master, Sally.

Relaxing front porch

We’d never taken Sally with us on a trip, so it was an experience for all of us. But look at this happy face:

We had a lovey, relaxing weekend. Our little cabin in the woods was perfection. Sally swam with us, we ate BBQ, built a little fire in the fire pit, and generally kicked back. We even had a bit time to just Netflix and chill.

All in all, it was just what we needed. July is quickly booking up with activities and events, so the timing was excellent. More happy faces:

top pics taken at scenic overlook, Marshall, AR. Our favorite selfie spot.
bottom from left: Fodder and Sally testing the waters at Wollum access, and a selfie snapped in a spooky spot in the woods…wooooooo!

How about you? Do you have any travel plans this summer?

Monday Mayhem – On Marriage

Later this week, the mister and I will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. Our marriage has finally reached the age of majority.

As I am now the proud owner of a mature (giggle-snort) marriage, I thought I’d share a few random lessons I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Liking is every bit as important as loving.
  2. He may only hear about 23% of the things I say, but he always hears me bitching about not listening to me.
  3. He does not want or need my direction whilst driving, but will miss the appropriate exit 8 times out of 10 if I am derelict in my duty.
  4. A ten minute lie-down is the key to a happy, relaxed evening.
  5. No one wants responsibility for deciding what’s for dinner. Ever.

So, yeah, finally starting to feel like we’ve got a handle on this marriage thing, even if our selfie game is still a bit weak. Looking forward to seeing what trouble we can find together in the years to come.

How about you? What are some of the life lessons you’ve picked up in the last couple decades?

Monday Mayhem – Give it away, give it away, give it away now!

Are you on my mailing list? If so, you know I’ve done nothing but give it away this past week. I celebrated Julie Evelyn Joyce’s book, STEEPED IN LOVE, being named to the short list of finalists for the Kobo Emerging Authors prize by giving away a few copies of Steeped. Then, I celebrated those fabulous readers who actually open, read, and interact with my newsletter with a special Amazon gift card giveaway just for them!

This could be you!

Not on my mailing list? Look on the top of the sidebar of this page. There’s a little spot that says, “Join my readers group!” Enter your email there, and I’ll get you added too!

In other news…

I’m still hitting the gym. I don’t like it, but I’m doing it. Anythng to avoid writing, you know…

Okay, I’m not really avoiding it. I’m….circling it. I’m in the homestretch of drafting LOVE RENOVATION, and this is a tricky time. I know where it needs to go. I know what I need to change in the front 2/3 of the book. I know all of the work that needs to be done before I can call it done, and that is just…paralyzing.

So I am chipping away at it little by little. Because a little is more than zero, right?

*nods*

My herb garden is struggling. We’ve had a cool, wet spring so far. Very unusual for us. We usually skip spring and plunge into the summer sauna, so I don’t want to complain too much, but my pal, Basil, isn’t liking it. My Roma tomatoes are scrawny and shivering. Oh, and some insect is eating my pepper plants. *scowls* I hope they get heartburn.

On the other hand, the flowers are loving it. The irises were spectacular, as was the clematis. And just look at the Mr. Lincoln and Knockout roses!

Mr. Lincoln rose
Knockout rose

Tell me, what’s blooming in your neck of the woods these days?

Monday Mayhem – Tempus Fugit

The view from my atio chair

I know, I know. I should watch my phraseology, but it’s true – time does fly. I know most people apply it to the short days and long nights of winter, but for me, Spring always seems to zip past me.

Look – Wednesday is May 1st. Gah!

And this year, rather than careening straight in to the oven-like heat of summer, we are actually having a spring. Fifty shade of gorgeous green. The flowers and shrubs are thriving. Highs have been in the 70s and low 80s.

All of which means a young woman’s fancy has turned to anything BUT writing.

I mean, I’ve had to sit on the patio and read books…

The view from my patio chair
The view from my patio chair

There’s been a tiny dino to take on adventures:

Rover the Garden T-Rex is back!

And a kitchen garden to construct so we could plant tomatoes, peppers, and herbs:

Kitchen garden adjacent to patio beds

Then there were the sexy Saturday nights spent assembling a new basketball goal so Fodder and I can shoot the hoops:

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t writing stuff happening too. I’m back to working on LOVE RENOVATION, TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE is still out on submission, and some old friends are coming back this week! I have repackage Spring Chickens – which means it has a new title and cover art. Lynne and Bram’s story will be available again as HOME IN HEARTSFIELD.

Exclusively for Amazon Kindle

So there you have it. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Don’t forget to add your email address in the sidebar to receive my reader group emails. Jennifer C. won a $5 Amazon gift card in last week’s drawing!

Monday Mayhem – A Little Help from My Friends

I have to admit I have been struggling with the writing thing…and by struggling, I mean I haven’t been writing. The publishing world has been a little disheartening.

I have a book on submission, which basically means I am waiting for someone to say yes or no. That’s one of the things people don’t know. The potential for rejection in his business never ends. The next contract is never a given, even when your books win critical acclaim, or have decent sales. Publishing is a business with a bottom line. If we don’t set the world on fire straight out of the gate, it’s back to the drawing board.

So yeah. I have one that’s out there waiting for a bite, another that’s 2/3 written, and an idea that scares me just enough to make me think it’s a good one, and yet… I can’t seem to get in the groove.

For the past few months, I’ve just been going with the flow, trying not to stress, etc., but at some point, I’m going to have to write or get off the Mac.

So, I did what any writer does when faced with the abyss – I hooked up with my writer friends. Yes, we did a little whining and scary soul bearing, but the magical thing about these days is the fact that we realize we are not alone. And as much as I hate the fact that my friends are struggling too, there’s also some strength in it.

By talking through our fears, or what’s holding us up, we help one another find a way through to the other side. When we take time to talk about all that’s making us feel overwhelmed, we find that our friends have a totally different perspective. Sometimes, we just need feedback from someone who is in the trenches with us to see through the smoke.

And sometimes, we need people to remind us that we have magic, bullet-repelling bracelets.

Monday Mayhem – What’s so funny?

Here’s a fun fact about me – I hate April Fools Day jokes. In fact, I am not a fan of practical jokes at all. I don’t find embarrassment amusing.

You know what I love? Silly jokes. Absurdities. Your mom jokes.

I bought a new iPad this weekend. Poor Penelope iPad was so ancient Apple wouldn’t update her anymore. Gradually, my apps lost functionality because my operating system was antiquated, and so on, and so forth…

Anyhoo, she will now host fun and educational games for the grandboys. I am typing to you now from my new iPad, Pluto.

Pluto was named for my favorite disrespected planet and one of my favorite jokes:

This makes me laugh. Making someone believe something untrue, or tricking them into making a ‘fool’ of themselves, not so much.

But it is April 1st. A fact that amazes me, all shenanigans aside. Where is this year going? Our trees are budding like crazy. Our world is Fifty shades of green. I planted my first herb garden in an old washtub.

Oh! And I’m leading my first online workshop next week. It’s called Even Superman Had A Day Job and available through the Contemporary Romance chapter of RWA.

As of Wednesday, I will be 8 years without a cigarette. On Saturday, I reached my 900th day of meditation. I am think I may try incorporating some tai chi flows into my yoga routine.

How about you? Planning to try anything new this spring?

Monday Mayhem – Flowy me

Okay, so I’m trying to be more on task this month. One of the tools I’m using is a nifty bullet-list site/app called WorkFlowy that one of my Twitter pals turned me on to. It’s super simple and streamlined, but allows me to make lists and check things off. I’m using it for everything from a sort of writing brain-dump, a diary, a gratitude journal, and a running to-do list.

Super simple, but a great way to keep up with things. I can use it on my desktop or mobile devices. If you want to give it a try, click this link and we both get bonus storage space.

In other news, I tried my first wardrobe styling service this week. I signed up to try Dia & Co in hopes of shaking myself out of the solid color shirts and Levis rut. They sent me a box of super-cute stuff – none of which I would have chosen myself – and I’m keeping all five pieces. It’s not cheap, but I think the clothes are good quality and it’s a nice splurge. I’ve signed up to get another box in May.

Check out this cute flowy blouse I can wear while I’m using my WorkFlowy app:

pink blouse

Congratulations to Nancy B! She won a $5 Amazon gift card last week in my newsletter giveaway. Are you on my mailing list? If not, be sure to add your email in the sidebar!

And I just realized I just linked you to a bunch of stuff like I’m some kind of marketing maven, but we all know that’s not the case. If I were, I’d have linked my BOOK PAGE and suggested you share it with a friend.

Slick, huh? Yeah, not so much. I just like sharing cool things I am doing and trying. And I’m always open to any fun stuff you want to share with me, so don’t hesitate to comment or email any tips, tricks, apps, or services you like to use. Spring is the time for new growth, right?

So, tell me…are you trying anything new as Spring approaches?

Monday Mayhem – March on

It’s finally March. Thank goodness. February may be the shortest month, but it is my least favorite. Too gray. Too sad. I hate to wish my life away, but once again, I am glad it’s over.

February

Now, it’s March and I have no more excuses. I need to get my mind right and delve into this new project, rather than just fiddling with it. I’m just not quite sure how to do that.

One of my writing groups posts a weekly discussion question. A couple weeks ago, they asked what we thought our greatest writing strength is. Anytime up until late 2018, I might have answered with words like drive, perseverance, or focus. But lately, I find all my heretofore unassailable strengths have failed me.

It seems writing has become my Kryptonite.

kryptonite

I’ve spent a month coddling myself, and for the most part, I’m okay with that. February is rough for me emotionally, and though writing has provided some escape in the past, that wasn’t the case this year.

But now it’s March, and I need to figure out a way to march on.

Most people tend to seek comfort in the familiar when trying to push past troubling times, so I think I’ll do the same. The desk set up isn’t proving conducive, neither is dictation, so I think it’s time to roll back to the original writing zone – the recliner.

I’ll try to re-establish my grooves (writing and butt) this week. I hope it works, because I don’t think Fodder is going to be on board with me jetting off to Jamaica to hook up with Taye Diggs. I mean, he’s pretty understanding, but I don’t think he’s going to be cool with me pulling a How Maggie Got Her Groove Back.

So wish me luck, friends. I wrote Contentment and Commitment in that recliner, so it is a proven winner!