Now Available

Now Available

“Finally!” – Me

It’s Publication Day. There may be a point where all of this becomes a bit old hat – I wouldn’t mind if it became slightly more routine because I’ve done it often enough – but today, I’m jumping up and down excitedly. Surviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is now available for sale!

:: does happy dance ::

survivor-guide-3bI’ll confess this is not the book I thought I’d be celebrating my fist publication with, but that doesn’t make the excitement any less. It’s been a labor of love and I’m glad that it’s finally released into the world. If you’re a writer and you’re published, you understand the excitement that you can, at last, show your baby off to everyone. You’ll also understand the terror that people will point and say that it is ugly and you’ve dressed it funny.

 To those of you still writing, still waiting, still hoping, still dreaming, let me say that it’s worth chasing. Trust me on this one.

Surviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is a guide to help you through the exhilarating, terrifying, frustrating and exhausting waters of National Novel Writing Month. It’s not designed to give you a blueprint that you can follow to make certain you cross the finish line on November 30 with precisely 50,000 words. Instead, it offers advice and support for each step of the journey, with an essay for each day of November, Thanksgiving, and those moments when things are going well – or they’re going very badly. The book was born in the posts I make each day of November, expanding to include suggestions on preparations, word sprints, and coming back to earth in December. 

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo a long time; this will be my 15th year participating. I find it a terribly useful experience and having that 1,667-word goal each day during the month has helped me increase my drafting speed over the years. But you can also find yourself stressed when things don’t go well and the world seems to conspire against you. I want to offer a helping hand and, when necessary, a bit of a kick in the rear to keep you going and make this year’s NaNo one of your most enjoyable.

You can find it as an ebook at the following retailers:
kindlenook-icon-150x150th_kobo-icon_zpsce9021c3ibooks_logo

If you would like a print copy (and I’ll love you forever if you do), you can find those on Amazon as well.

No, this blog won’t turn into constant promotion. After all, there’s this year’s NaNoWriMo to get ready for. The site will allow us to begin creating our novel pages on Saturday, just two days away. The forums are already heating up, and if you check either the #NaNoWriMo or #NaNoWriMo hashtag on Twitter, you’ll see the excitement in the air. I’ll be doing a new set of quotes and essays in November, and if you’re interested in getting a quote in your inbox each morning to start your writing day off, sign up for my NaNoWriMo Quote list.

I have a book. :: does another happy dance ::


Whither Autumn?

Whither Autumn?

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus

I’d love to see autumn leaves. I adore the crunch under my feet, the rich red and golds spread out on the ground. I have great memories as a child of helping my dad rake the front yard and jumping into the pile.

These days? Don’t get to do that much – and it’s not because I’m too old and creaky.

wed-bodyFirst, we don’t have a tree in our front yard that offers anywhere near enough leaves to make a decent pile for jumping. But second, and more importantly, the temperatures around here have been hitting triple digits, with hot and itchy winds. See the picture to the left? Notice how bright and shiny and hot it looks?

Welcome to September in Los Angeles.

I know, I know. I shouldn’t complain. The mild winters and distinct lack of rain are one of the reasons folks have been flocking here for well over a century. Everyone else is bundled up and huddled in front of the furnace, we can be wearing shorts. I have oranges on the trees along my driveway all year round.

Trust me, I’ve heard from friends who live in colder climes that they have no sympathy for me when I complain about the temps in late summer or how sweltering it can be when you step outside and it feels like you’re braising a roast. They’ll happily trade that heat for not having to put with snow or slush in the winter, and, having grown up with the stuff, I know I’m glad I don’t have to actually deal with it either.

But there are times, especially around the end of September, when I turn on the air-conditioning, run a Thanksgiving episode of Gilmore Girls and sigh over the beautiful red and gold foliage I see on the screen. Doesn’t matter that I know it’s on the Warner Bros. back lot in Burbank and the actors were dealing with the same temperatures I am (and wearing much warmer clothing). It’s just that, sometimes, I miss having that pile of leaves. I’d even be willing to rake it up myself.

What’s your favorite season? Or is there a type of weather you miss where you live?

Coming September 29, 2016

30dayliterarymadnessSurviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is a daybook of support, encouragement and the occasional kick in the pants to help make the stress more bearable and keep your eyes focused on your goal.

For each day of this mad sprint, there is a quote and essay designed to help keep you going at the keyboard, along with other pieces about preparation and the novelizing hangover that comes in December. There are also pages for those other moments, the ones when you’ve fallen slightly behind – or you realize this may not be a year you cross the finish line. No matter how your November novel experience is going, this book will be a companion for each day.

Available for pre-order at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Bookstore

Goal!

Goal!

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Yesterday morning had two things which made me quite happy. First, Mischief was waiting in the kitchen, demanding that I feed him. When I put the food down, he dove right in, so we are now out of crisis mode. :: does happy dance ::

The other thing came as a bit of a surprise because a notice popped up on my calendar: Publish NaNo Inspirations.

img_0950Last December, I’d set up goals on my calendar for the coming year, as I always do. Some, I’ve accomplished. Others, well, life conspired to put me in a position this year where I frequently found myself either delaying or giving up goals. I finally reached a point during the summer where I just tried not to look at those notations because it was depressing. It’s always a disappointment when you plan something and aren’t able to achieve it, but if it happens consistently due to pressures in your environment that you know you can’t change at this time, it’s hard. There was a time when that book of NanoWriMo Inspirations might become one of those things, knowing that if I didn’t make an end of September publication date, I’d need to wait another year until NaNoWriMo prep rolled around again.

But Surviving 30 Days of Literary Madness being released next Thursday — and there will even be a print version, mostly so I can hand a copy to various relatives. And there, yesterday morning, was a reminder that I’d set a goal last year and was now achieving it. It’s a week and two days after that initial date I put on the calendar in December 2015, but that’s not because I missed the deadline. That was always a placeholder, and the change of date from the 20th of September to the 29th was made because I felt that would be a better release date. It’s a change I made not because of circumstance, but because of my decision.

Life can surprise us sometimes, often in ways we don’t expect. And, on rare occasions, that surprise is something that says we are heading in the direction we should be going.

Coming September 29, 2016

30dayliterarymadnessSurviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is a daybook of support, encouragement and the occasional kick in the pants to help make the stress more bearable and keep your eyes focused on your goal.

For each day of this mad sprint, there is a quote and essay designed to help keep you going at the keyboard, along with other pieces about preparation and the novelizing hangover that comes in December. There are also pages for those other moments, the ones when you’ve fallen slightly behind – or you realize this may not be a year you cross the finish line. No matter how your November novel experience is going, this book will be a companion for each day.

Available for pre-order at Amazon, Kobo, and Apple Bookstore

Flustered

Flustered

 “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” – Deepak Chopra

Oh, how I wish. The last few days have been a bit crazy here. My father-in-law got a cold. One of my cats got a cold. No matter what I did, my cover for the print version of Surviving 30 Days of Literary Madness would not produce a .jpg that didn’t have info within the half-inch margin Createspace requires around the edge. Yes, I check everything before I hit “Save As.” Multiple times. Then the cat decided not to eat and we had other worries. (He’s eating again, but he’s still a bit grumpy even if he’s on the road to recovery.)

On Saturday, my husband looked at me and asked I still wanted to do the thing I was trying to get ready for. Now, my first instinct was to say that, of course, I would power through. That’s my usual mode of operation.

gg_1x02_018I actually said, “No.” I mean, I still wanted to do the thing, but I didn’t want to do all the things related to the thing because doing all those things would be too much effort mentally and emotionally at that point. What I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and knit, maybe binge-watch something like Gilmore Girls. But only the episodes set in autumn because I was in an autumn mood.

And, yes, I was feeling very much like Lorelai when she oversleeps on Rory’s first morning at Chilton, and discovers she didn’t pick up her dry cleaning, so has to appear in an outfit that might be suitable for an audition for Hee-Haw. It really was one of those weekends.

And while I did end up doing the thing on Sunday, even if I hadn’t done the things to prepare for the thing, I found myself fairly exhausted by the end. I felt off-kilter, drained, and definitely behind in what I had hoped to accomplish. But that’s the thing about being flustered; no matter what you do or how hard you try, the world just kinda tilts.

I did curl up on Sunday evening with Netflix and the knitting, finally getting some of the quiet I’d been hoping for – and promptly had to rip out almost eight rows of my shawl because if I didn’t , I wouldn’t have enough yarn to cast off. This time, though, I took a deep breath and watched Lorelai stare at the ramparts of Chilton and decided I wasn’t the only one who was flustered. There was some comfort in that.

Then I started thinking, “Hey! Maybe I should do a rewatch of Gilmore Girls since the revival is coming up and then I can blog about it! Shouldn’t be that much work!”

Stay tuned…


Coming September 29, 2016

30dayliterarymadnessSurviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is a daybook of support, encouragement and the occasional kick in the pants to help make the stress more bearable and keep your eyes focused on your goal.

For each day of this mad sprint, there is a quote and essay designed to help keep you going at the keyboard, along with other pieces about preparation and the novelizing hangover that comes in December. There are also pages for those other moments, the ones when you’ve fallen slightly behind – or you realize this may not be a year you cross the finish line. No matter how your November novel experience is going, this book will be a companion for each day.

Available for pre-order at Amazon, Kobo, and Apple Bookstore

Comfort Reads

Comfort Reads

“I’d like for the young people, and older ones, too, who don’t count themselves as readers, to know the joy of reading and what it does to enrich your life in so many ways.” – Katherine Paterson

I’ve been going through my list of books read this year and noticed and interesting fact: I’ve been doing a lot of comfort reading of late.

516htxs03nlSome of that is not surprising. When Jo Beverley passed away in May, I re-read a number of her novels, reminding myself not only what a talent she was, but how helpful and encouraging she could be to others. At that moment, it was natural to turn to those books and hold that memory of her close.

But beyond that, I’ve noticed I’m virtually inhaling books I’ve read before, most especially Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books. As of this writing, I’ve gone through 13 and will be through 14 by the end of the weekend. I first read Arrows of the Queen when it was released in 1987 and still have that old paperback. I’ll do a re-read, drift away, come back a year or two later and discover there are new books out. At this point, I’m adding hardcovers to the carefully collected paperbacks because these are books I’ve picked up repeatedly and I know I’ll pick up again after this round. They’ve earned their place on my shelves.

by_the_swordWhat is it that makes us pick up a book again and again? Some of it is the comfort of the familiar. We know where the story is going, we know the world. We take a bit of a nostalgic trip “home,” covering territory we’ve covered before. If we’re under stress or the world feels difficult, the idea of losing ourselves in our “keepers” is an attractive one because they will not disappoint. It’s a very individual thing for each of us, what calls when we need that retreat. Lackey’s books have always been one because her world very much speaks to me in some important ways, so I like to visit when I feel down. This despite the fairly high body count; it has been said of those books that a Herald’s uniform is the equivalent of wearing a sign that says “Look at me! I’m a target!” Or a red shirt in Starfleet.

These aren’t the only books I’m reading. Since I’ve moved to hardcovers, the pace has slowed as I read in the evening before bed. Aside from any issue of weight, those copies are not ones I bought to cart around. So there are other books on my Kindle which keep me company in those odd moments during the day when I find time for a few pages. I love discovering new authors and stories, exploring vistas I haven’t seen before. It’s why I read. I’m starting to feel myself itch a little, turning to other items in the digital TBR pile because there are books I want to read now, slowly pushing aside the urge to re-read.

But along with the new, there’s always a place for the old and familiar, the ones we read because we want to visit that world again, even if only for a little while.

What are your favorite comfort reads? I’d love to hear some recommendations.

Breathe

Breathe

“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.” — Walt Whitman

That quote? Most definitely not me yesterday. The morning started bad, got worse, and, by the end of the day, I was pretty much in a misery. Thankfully, my husband decided a light dinner out would be better than heading home to cook. The change of scene was what I needed, so we sat in the bar area of a restaurant at the local mall and watched the foot traffic flow around us.

It was…oddly soothing. I’m not saying what I had to deal with wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the end of the world and what I really needed at the moment was a chance to breathe. Once I could actually stop and not be rushing from place to another, I could figure out how to deal with things. There are some rolled newspapers that have to be applied to certain noses, but part of my distress was I’d been trying to deal with so much input that I hadn’t actually had a chance to process it all. Instead, I was worrying about the next thing. And the next. And the six ones lined up after that.

As you might have noticed, NaNoWriMo is coming, and I can already see people getting frazzled on Twitter, worrying about prep and plots, or if they’re going to participate this year. We’re 47 days out, not even to October, and the stressing has begun. They’re doing what I forgot to do yesterday: breathe. Since, I can’t haul all of you off to dinner (even if my checkbook could stand it, getting a table would that many would be difficult), let me share with you a video I found on Facebook a few days back. It’s fun; he laughs a lot.

Two things of importance from this. First, I love his impression of what many of us look like when we “practice” meditation. Second, the idea that we can meditate even for a few seconds, is a useful one. I’ve been practicing this and guess what I forgot to do yesterday? Taking even a single moment to just stop and let the world swirl around you while you focus on your breathing can be useful. It won’t solve your problems, help you lose weight, or given you this week’s lottery numbers, but it will give you a moment to gather yourself. Once you’ve done that, you’ll hopefully be better prepared to deal with whatever it is, whether it’s the writing going badly or something in your life that’s not going as you’d wish.

Coming September 29, 2016

30dayliterarymadnessSurviving 30 Days of Literary Madness is a daybook of support, encouragement and the occasional kick in the pants to help make the stress more bearable and keep your eyes focused on your goal.

For each day of this mad sprint, there is a quote and essay designed to help keep you going at the keyboard, along with other pieces about preparation and the novelizing hangover that comes in December. There are also pages for those other moments, the ones when you’ve fallen slightly behind – or you realize this may not be a year you cross the finish line. No matter how your November novel experience is going, this book will be a companion for each day.

Available for pre-order at Amazon, Kobo, and Apple Bookstore

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