Saturday, November 23, 2013

Last Blog Post

This is farewell for now with a side of advice.

Thanks to all of you who have checked in here. I hope some of my experiences, with Dragon Naturally Speaking, etc., might have helped a few of you keep plugging away. 

Writing is Hell and don't you forget it. Yeah, it's a sit-down job, and I've been grateful to be able to get off my feet and make money too. But still, this business is damn hard work. Each separate piece is damn hard. If you're doing all the pieces yourself, you deserve a medal. Or at least some solid sales.

The basics are still the basics.
Keep writing and your craft will improve.
Keep working on your speed and it will pick up.
Keep setting goals you actually have to reach for, and you'll reach some. It doesn't matter what your odds are, or how many you reach, at least you reached. At least you stretched yourself. That makes you...stretchier, if nothing else. That makes you the mouse with his shoes draped over his shoulder, not worrying about who moved the cheese, or where it went, just prepared to find it. Prepared with shoes and attitude.

Take some time to see what works for you. But don't get addicted to analyzing it all. That's just a procrastination tactic. Try to see those for what they are.

Find a friend to lean on and hold up. A writing friend. For this to be a spouse would be rare indeed. Find someone who is at the same stage you're at, or slightly higher. Then do whatever you can to help them. You always get paid back with interest.

If your family hasn't realized you're a writer by now, start dressing all in black. Quoting Poe as you walk down the hall. Scribbling things on the furniture. If they don't create some writing space for you, and insist you use it, you're not trying hard enough.

Embrace the Cray Cray. It will increase the space around you. If you're looking for love and affection, stick to Roses are Red poems and never, ever wear black.

Read. For hellsakes, read. And write something that goes against the rules you've learned. We all need to see more of that. Take a rule. Bend it 'til it breaks. Toss it in a fire and dance around the flames.

I'm going to try for more pithy posts, like Seth Godin. So if you want to follow me, go hit my author page on Facebook. That's where I'll be setting up shop. LL Muir. I'm sure you can find it.

And that's it.
Four books down. Two more to go, in December. Not going to hit 7 like I'd hoped.
26 pounds down. The Diet Pepsi is next on the drop list. I've already started the fitness part. Wish me luck. Leaving for Scotland in T minus...4 and 1/2 months!!!! HOLY CRAP!

And as always, 
Thank you for playing.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Word Count and Professional Envy

It's been a productive week, thank heavens.

Saturday was the NaNo write-in. There were around 16 writers attending, with about ten staying the entire time from 10 am to 7 pm. We took an hour off for lunch, a ten minute break every hour, and did 8 solid sessions. And the grand total of all words written...drumroll...was 81.000+!!!!

I got in just over 8,000 myself, all on the sequel to my YA that I plan to finish up in January. With Christmas and the end of the year sliding closer, I have to be a little realistic about what I'm going to be able to get finished in 2013. (6 1/2 weeks left, btw)

I did get the western romance proofread and polished. I also had a friend teach me how to do my own formatting so when errors are brought to my attention, I can go in and fix them myself. YAY! And this is no light accomplishment; I'm not technically gifted and I really doubted I could wrap my old wrinkly mind around it. BUT I DID!

So the book went up yesterday. And just like every other time I've put a book up, 24 hours later, I'm antsy to get the next one out. What can I say. I find relaxing a waste of good writing time. So tomorrow, I'll be working on Kiss This again. I'm going to expand it a little. But I've got some advertising coming up on Christmas Kiss, so I basically have ten days to get this up. I've got a reverse timeline figured out so I can stay on schedule. I LOVE reverse timelines. I have no idea why. Maybe it's a residual thing from running a flower shop and having a hundred steps necessary to pull off wedding productions.

Here's what's new from discussions with Supe.
We are working on professional envy, or rather, resisting it. And the best way to resist it is to stop watching what other writers are doing, what they're accomplishing, and thinking about what we can do to be equally successful. We realize it's something we've spent way too much time on, and it has left us feeling like failures. Which we're not.

For my part, I've just published my tenth book. The third this year. And I've got at least three coming out before the end of the year. Not a bad year.

We're coming into the home stretch. What can you--reasonably--get done before 2014.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Writing Life is Good! November 7, 2013 Thursday

Four days since the last post.
Two more pounds down.
One book in the can.
Half of another story edited.

Life is good.

Okay, so it doesn't hurt that the book I've just finished and polished is a novella. And so is the next one. But I'm counting victories here, not pages. And it looks like I'll finish editing the second one by Sunday night. On Monday I'll finally get around to starting the edits on Isobelle--I know, I know--but I needed to get these things off my plate first.

The second one is Kiss This, a Christmas Wedding story. Here is the cover.
I'm really crazy about it. And now that I've had some time away from the story, I've come back to edit it and find that I absolutely love it.

(The reason I struggled with finishing this one is because it starts in a flower shop and writing it was like going back to work in a flower shop. I could almost feel the pressure of getting these wedding flowers just right, getting the set up on schedule, and making the bride happy--AND IT WASN'T EVEN REAL!)

I will be working on the cover for the Western this weekend, in down moments (hah!) so I can get it up and for sale as soon as I get my final edits back.

Can you tell I'm loving this? I am loving this. I'm loving that I'm actually crossing things off my list instead of just re-writing lists. And sometimes I love the fact that I have a poor memory for the simple fact that I can read something I wrote a while back and be surprised, because I don't remember much.

The NaNo write-in, at my house, is on Saturday. A few have had to back out, so we're down to about fifteen writers. The food will be great. The energy will be magic. And I hope to get 8k done on Freaking Off the Grid, the sequel to Somewhere Over the Freaking Rainbow. So many projects wrapping up. It will be so fun to start some new series.

What's in yer wallet?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Writers should be single... November 4, 2013

...and childless.

I knew Sunday would be mostly a wash because of the baby blessing, but I still held out hope for a late night of editing.


I knew the bulk of Monday would be a wash because I had to take my daughter in for some outpatient surgery. She ended up being admitted because her blood wasn't as thin as they wanted it to be. So that meant babysitting tonight on top of a family dinner party for my daughter in law. After the dinner, I had sworn upon a bible (all but) that I was going to hug everyone and go to the office, but then that babysitting thing made me a liar.

Tomorrow, the day I had planned to abandon all my kids into each other's care, I will yet again be watching my granddaughters until Mommy gets out of the hospital, and probably after that as well.

Don't tell the Universe, but...
Wednesday, I'm going to work all damned day.
Thursday, I'm going to work all damned day.
Friday, I'm going to work all damned day.
At my office. So help me.

I was hoping to be caught back up with my schedule by tonight, but it looks like instead of catching up on two days, I'll be getting another two days behind. But never fear. The week isn't over yet. The Ghost and Mrs. Wiggs is going to be finished before Friday night, so help me.

So help me!

I sound like Mike Wizouski.

Another pound down today. 21 in all.
Then I had half a piece of chocolate cake.
I'm trying not to be too hard on myself...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaNo Day 2, November 2, 2013

Big day today.
But I guess it only seems big because I have some energy, which has been scarce the last...ten years.

Had pizza two days in a row and still didn't gain anything, so that's great. Pound number 20 just will not fall, however, so I'm going to have to go back to my original plan of using the dragon while I walk. This will work  out swimmingly for NaNo because I can get my YA done this month while I walk, but get my other projects done in the office.

Dragon words so far today, 450 ish. I'm not going to be doing anymore tonight because I'm polishing up my western novella so I can get it to my beta readers by tomorrow. Tomorrow we'll be blessing the granddaughter, but tomorrow night I'll be polishing Kiss This, the Christmas romance set against a winter wedding background. That, too, should be ready for first readers by about Wednesday. Wednesday I'll hit the dragon again and get caught up on my NaNo count so I'm on track by the time the party starts.

But what feels great is crossing off these smaller projects, getting a running start before delving into Isobelle. A book of my heart, that's what it is. And I want to get it right.

I'm back, baby.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNo Friday! November 1, 2013

The lapse in posts is one of the drawbacks of having an office with no wifi.

Yes, I've actually been using my office! And being productive again has revived me. It really has. I'm a pretty ambitious person by nature, so when I'm moving and shaking, I'm happy.

Speaking of giggling, I'm still 19 lbs. down despite having pizza for Halloween along with an inch of a KitKat bar and two whoppers. Apparently the world didn't end, since I'm still here, but I don't think that's going to be a temptation again.

I have realized that all my eating--every bite I put in my mouth for the past ten+years, has been driven by emotion. Nothing about the joy of food. All about my entitlement to it.

And now, I'm working toward being entitled to go to Scotland, entitled to wear jeans, entitled to feel good. And boy, do I feel good. Percentage of body weight-wise, 19 lbs. isn't much. But it was an important benchmark. Lots of things have changed. And my energy is AT LEAST ten times what it was.

Since Tuesday, I've gotten two major projects off my to-do list. One project is off to my agent so she can send it on to some interested editors. That has been a dark cloud over my head for two months. Cloud gone.

I have another project I have to finish tonight by midnight and get sent off to an editor. That's what I'll be doing today instead of getting started on NaNo. And, speaking of NaNo, I'll be getting my 1666 words per day written on a new project on top of what I have scheduled for editing. And I'm going to use my dragon to do it. 1666 words can be done in about 45 minutes tops.

Having a NaNo write-in at my house on Saturday. So far, I've got 18 writers coming. If you're interested, let me know. We're in Utah.

I don't know if it's the New Moon coming or what, but Supe has been bitten by the ambition bug again and we're gearing up for another uber productive month like last August was. We're done talking and analyzing. It's time to shut up and get this stuff written. Great stories, buried in one's subconscious, do no one any good. After all, I don't get to read them either--not until they come out of my fingers.

Let's play Michelangelo.
Let's get our chisels and hammers and get to work, setting these works of art free.  Slow does not equal beauty. Let's take advantage of the NaNo energy that's out there, whether or not you're technically participating, and move some earth.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy happy happy! October 29, 2013

The office has been christened.
No, I didn't spill my Diet Pepsi or anything. I just actually got some real work done there tonight.

I couldn't believe how hard it was to actually get there. Resistance pulled in four different directions but I finally just cut the strings and ran.

A friend came to see the office when I got there, but instead of becoming a distraction, she pulled out her laptop and started working on her own project for an hour or so. Then, when I started to lag, another writer showed up. I thought she'd come for the same, just to check out the office, but she pulled out her laptop and got to work.

What a blessing both of these friends were for me today. Instead of sitting down and staring at a screen, waiting for the worst to happen, for that nightmare to come true where in I stare blankly at the screen and never get around to working, these two reminded me that we're not just messing around here. We're not just meeting for a chat. We're not using the office as a private place to chat and veg. Offices are for work.

And so I worked.
I had an editing project listed for the day, and by gum that's what I did! 32 pages edited today. And little breakthroughs on the story. And a little bit of inspiration about the upcoming editing project.

There was no writer's block. There was no terror. And mostly because I was not alone on this first day of true change.

And then...I came home.
The only work I've done at home is email, and this post. Facebook? You bet. Because it's not like I'm supposed to be working, right?

I've left the work at the office.
I've come home to find that the smell in the fridge was NOT in fact cauliflower. The cauliflower left the building yesterday and the smell is worse. So I'm going to clean out the fridge now, even though it's 12:30 am. And even though I've already cleaned a bathroom today.
Why not?
It's not like I should be writing right now.

And just like that, the clouds part and Lesli becomes one of the regular people...if only for a little while.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Fire Hoses and Tylonol October 28, 2013

I tried. I really did.
I had the best intentions in the world.
I had a plan.
I got everything off my plate. I suppressed the immediate need for a haircut. I had five hours on my hands and an office waiting. I came dropped off Rock Jr. and came back to the house to shower and grab my laptop.
Then my husband called.
Another medical emergency. Are you kidding me?
Took him to the doc. Ran tests. Not life-threatening, thank Heaven.
Got him home, ran to get meds, fix dinner.
Phone rings.
Baby won't stop crying.
Leave my husband to go sit with baby while daughter goes for pain meds.
Ear infections.
Tylonol and Ibuprofen were inspired by God himself.
Daughter will take her to the doc in the am.
Another of life's problem's solved.

I'm peeing on fires here when what I really want to do is hose the place down, hop on a motorcycle, and ride away. And when I come back, I want the place to be clean, all faces to be wearing smiles, and for there to be no trace of the mess I left behind.

Too much to ask?
Apparently, yes it is.
That is why we have/need fantasy/fiction.
I'm going to call the coast guard and have a novel flown in to rescue me.

But wait!
That's what my own stories used to do for me. They were the perfect fantasies. I wrote them to get away the same way I read to escape.

THAT is my problem. These projects aren't escapism for me anymore. They are work.

I need to turn them back into...chocolate...somehow.

New plan for tomorrow. As soon as The Rock feels like he can take care of himself, I'm jumping in the car and heading to the office, and by hell I'm going to find that fantasy lost between the pages and make them fun again.

Also, Supe and I had a little breakthrough today that we believe is going to help us get our first drafts down with a lot more polish than usual. Stay tuned. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

False Start Thursday October 24, 2013

I woke with high hopes today, but here is what I got done.

I found two free chairs for the office. I took a lamp and a few things over when I went to unlock the doors for the owners. (They still needed to remove a desk and chair from the last guy.) Logan took his crayons and things over to load in the second desk. He's very excited to go work there.

The rest of the day was full of errands.
Phone store again for some details.
Grocery store for some drugs.
Pizza store for some dinner for the wave of kids coming from out of town to help my son unload.
Went home and cooked chicken breasts for the guys who were coming to work out and study. They ended up finding a quieter place to study after they worked out and ate. Who can blame them?
Cooked the pizza, ended up feeding the daughter and family because he got off late and she and the three granddaughters were still here.
Sent lots of pity emails to my husband because he was working until midnight. Big program goes live in two weeks. Sure hope we're still alive to see it done.
So, after all that, I guess it's no surprise I didn't get to decorate/organize my office.

Tomorrow, I think my daughter's going to need some TLC because her leg started hurting tonight because she did too much in the last couple of days. She's not the only one to pay for that, damnit. And "I told you so" isn't as satisfying as you might think.

I get to hold a wee bairn a bit through the day. I get to tie sheets around the kitchen table so the 3 year olds can play hammocks. I will disregard the weather and make a pot of soup. And when they all leave, and the dust settles--Oh, wait. They won't be leaving because their daddy will be here to help my son unload yet again.

When the Jews were coming up with the phrase Oy, vay! they should have chosen something a little more expressive.

So, since tomorrow will be more of the same, I'll spare you a post. I'll let you know how I do on Saturday. I'm going to find someone to entertain Rock Jr. and I'm going to head to the office for the day since The Rock will be working until very late again. I'm going to get something major crossed off the list, so help me.

See you on Saturday night.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An Experiment in Separation October 23, 2013

Good Morning Campers!

Now that my roller coaster has come to a complete stop...

I woke up this morning with a happy head cold. Happy I was not going to have any babysitting to do today and happy I could take my son to his day program then come back home for a nap. Then I happily trotted off to lunch with my closest friend, Annie Adams.

In the afternoon, I picked up my son then headed over to sign a contract and pick up the keys to my new office. Yippee! Then I went to the phone store and got a new cell. Both the office and the phone are part of my new Experiment in Separation.

I'm sorry if I'm repeating myself from any earlier posts, but there are plenty of reasons to get an away-from-home-office.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but my reasons include:

I've got offspring moving back into my basement. My youngest son and his wife are getting serious about school and until they get some traction, they'll stay here. That takes up all three bedrooms in the basement=basement is no longer an option for office space, even if I were to be able to stand to be below ground. (I hate basements.)

Secondly, my current bedroom office now has a crib in it for the granddaughter. I tried typing while she naps. It did NOT work. And I tried all week, not just one day. This leaves me no room in the house for a private office.

Another reason I want to have my working desk away from the house is Supe's fault. She got an office 20-30 minutes away from her house. She goes there almost daily, gets her writing in, then goes home. SHE LEAVES HER WORK AT THE OFFICE. When she gets home, it's gets to RELAX! She gets to stop thinking about work, about the project, about the characters. She doesn't have to think, while cooking dinner, "I could run in there and edit one more page before the chicken is done." She doesn't have to feel guilty about sitting and watching a tv show instead of plotting out her next story. She doesn't have to look at the clock during a family dinner and try to guess how many more words she can get written depending on when her family members head for their cars.

My husband ruled out buying a small shed and finishing as an office. I ruled out getting a camping trailer. I'm a big girl now. My writing is not a hobby. I do not want to be underground OR have a low ceiling. And I don't want my work haunting me from my bedroom.
Am I asking too much?
I think not.

So I'm going for Normal.

I found an office building near my house that gave me a great deal on rent PLUS a window. I was even willing to go without a window, but I lucked out. I have a lovely view of the mountains thanks to a second floor office window facing east. The room is large enough to hold two desks and a love seat. The main desk I'll use for editing. The small one for new words only. Also, Rock Jr. thinks the second desk is for him. And it will be, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

That's right, folks.
I have a schedule. Just like a normal job. Whoohoo!
Instead of thinking about writing 16 hours a day and maybe getting three good hours in (if you add up all the little pecking I do during the day, on a good day) I'm going to spend about five hours at the office Monday through Friday. And three nights a week, I'm going to go back for more. I hope to get around 30 hours in per week. I start on Friday. I'm going to be realistic and not plan to get anything other than organization done tomorrow.

Tonight I drove past the church and got three teens and one Scout leader (friends all) to come help me load up all the furniture and take it to the office. I paid them and took them for shakes and fries when they were done. They more than earned it. I had some heavy stuff.

Tomorrow's going to be sweeeet!

And this is why I needed a phone.
As far as cell phones go, mine was so old my kids groan when I pull it out. They're embarrassed.
But no longer. I got a smart phone. Yes. I'll be holding a small rectangular plate up to my face to speak to people, but apparently THAT's not embarrassing. The true reason I got it, however, was so I don't need yet another computer at the house. I can check email, etc., from this fancy phone. And if I want to get any writing done, I'll just have to go to the office, or break out the Alphasmart or Dragon.

I'm separating my home/family life from my work life. Finally.
And starting Friday, I'll even stop talking about it here. And when I come home, I can focus on the people around me, on the household tasks I never seem to have time for because I'm always TRYING to write.

Still, I wouldn't drop by unannounced.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Miraculous News! October 21, 2013

A wonderful turn of events this morning.
Forgive me if I copy and paste my Facebook post, but I'm completely drained and can't type it all up again.
Going to bed early with a happy heart. I'll post something writerly tomorrow, aye?

"LYNDSI UPDATE: Miracles were produced at Davis Hospital today. During the second procedure of the day, they found that not only were the blood clots gone, but her leg had grown its own bypass vein and cleaned itself out. And if that was not enough, the failing vein had also recovered and was working fine. They had expected a leg full of clots the density of glue. The nurses were all but dancing around her bed as they wheeled her into recovery. She will NOT be staying in ICU for 3 days. The meds are working just fine after all. She's coming home. And neither procedure was invasive enough to keep her from going home to her own house. No more torture at Mother's.
We are very very very very grateful for the prayers sent on her behalf. They were golden, baby. God is good."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday, October 20

 It was a party weekend. Real crazy stuff, like dressing up as minions from Despicable Me. My autistic son dressed up as Gru. The granddaughters played the parts of the three little girl. Great fun. A little parade around the street with various whistles and dancing to The Monster Mash. It's a yearly tradition, if I haven't told you that already.

Tomorrow we'll be repeating another tradition, one I hope to never repeat again.
My daughter must redo her leg surgery to remove blood clots that formed even though her blood was dangerously thin. I have no idea what they think they're doing, but I have to trust that they know, that maybe I haven't had it all explained clearly. All we can do is pray.

So today I stayed busy to keep my mind off things. I ran around town collecting tables off so we'll have a bunch of tables for our NANO write-in I host at my house every year. We're going to have a whopping crowd and most need a table to write. I'm pretty sure we've got that covered now. That will happen in Nov. 9th. If you want to join us, in the Layton, Utah area, contact me through here or my website,

My daughter's dilemma aside, I will be honest and say I am scared to death.
I am afraid I will never get another word written, another word edited.
I open up a file and move my cursor into place, then I can't seem to care about what is already there--at least not enough to change it. And eventually, I click on something else. When it's time to shut my computer down for the night, I realize I did indeed open a word file that day. I save it again, even though I know that nothing changed.

And I promise myself "next time."

I don't even know if the office space will make anything different.
Yes, I plan to write at night. I've planned where I'm going to put the furniture.
I've got it all there, in my head. And I try to imagine myself bent over a keyboard, eyes glued to the screen, mind oblivious to my clever surroundings because I am working furiously to get the next project finished, then the next, and so on.

And you know what I see?
I see myself sitting at the perfectly positioned desk in the perfect amount of lamplight staring at a word document, hands frozen on a keyboard.

Is this writer's block? I don't think so. This feels more threatening than that. I've worked through writer's block enough to know there are certain things that work for me. I just follow the yellow brick road, one brick at a time.

I'm afraid my life won't let me write anymore. I'm afraid I'll never get to put my foot down and demand my writing time because writing time will pale in importance to what I need to be doing for my daughter and her daughters. Is that selfish or what?

I'm also afraid that I've become a terribly selfish person to even worry about such things at a time like this.

But here is the question.

Can we be writers and not be selfish?
Can we be proficient writers and not be selfish?

I had never been accused of being a work-a-holic until I was published. And believe me, the term work-a-holic was never a bad thing. It was always a drive, a work-ethic I lacked, or felt I lacked. So when I finally had a reason, a sound reason, and an actual drive, I felt like I was an over-night success. I'd finally found a way to work and love it.

But now, in the face of real life and real danger, it seems like I've been playing pretend, like I've been playing in an over-sized doll house and my mother has come for me, to tell me I can't play here anymore. And suddenly I realize that none of it was real--when I'd been so sure it was real!

I had another realization today to pile on top of that. I went for a walk. (No more weight lost, but none gained back, even with a couple slices of pizza this weekend.) But as I was walking around the block I realized there were some distinct smells that were actually getting through to me. (No sense of smell for years, then I got a little sense back. Any identifiable smell is a celebration!) But the thing I realized was that I was absolutely compelled to figure out the best way to describe those smells on paper so that someone reading it could smell it too.

You see? I am a writer. I can't stop from being one. But what if I never get the chance to write them all down? What if I forget? What if I never smell them again and thus, never remember what I was going to say?

You see? Terrified. Of everything.
So I'm going to record them here. At least I'm writing a blog, right? And if this is all I can do, for now, I'm going to get the words out. If I can remember...

...the spice of dying leaves...mixing with the unmistakable pungency of wood-smoke from a great distance away...a great distance because the smell was spread evenly through the air, not concentrated on my left or right, as it would be if the fire were nearby...
...there, down that road, someone was cooking...apples...the smell of them so tart and fresh when it hit my nose I could almost hear the sound biting into me...the same sound I make biting into one of them...

Don't forget my Lyndsi in your prayers...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Today's Theme: Holy Crap--October 17, 2013

Booyah! This "Tickets to Scotland Diet" is working great! If you need to lose some weight, I suggest making a plan to do the one thing you've always dreamed of doing, only imagine yourself doing it in smaller clothes. Maybe it will work for you too.

The phone call I was hoping for today, from the office landlord, did not come. Maybe they'll have the contract ready tomorrow.

I spent the day shopping for the big birthday dinner we'd planned for our two sons. Then I tried to cook while watching the granddaughters. Needless to say, dinner was served late. Then, after everyone started leaving, my daughter had to be rushed to the emergency room again. So scary. False alarm, though. Everything still looks fine. But fear is a draining thing.

I'm headed to bed a little early. The twins are sleeping over and will wake me early.

My current plan is to sneak away from all gatherings to get some editing done. There is no way I'm going to get even one project edited and out before the end of the month, let alone two. But really, I have to. It's ridiculous how unproductive I've been. I can go through a day, all the way to the end, before I remember I'm supposedly a writer with work to do.

Tomorrow, then.
I shall endeavor to persevere.

What about you?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FINALLY! October 16, 2013

I finally found an office today. I'll hopefully be signing a contract tomorrow and moving in sometime this weekend. After seeing the place and negotiating a little, I headed home with a heavy load off my shoulders. I am finally going to be able to separate my job/writing from my home/family life. Wheeee!

Maybe you suffer from the same problem I have, no matter what time of day you write.

My computer is up and running all the time, but I'm rarely working.
Even if I manage to remember to open my current wip file, that doesn't mean I get a chance to look at it with true concentration. Supe had this problem. She would always let little chores pull her away from the screen, even though she was home alone most of the day. When she hit a rough stretch, she'd get up and put in a load of laundry, then she'd never get back to the screen. There was always a meal to plan, some quick errand to run, etc. But now she has an office a good distance from home, and there is no running back to the house to put something in the dryer or the oven. And she's getting the work done.

It was October, I think three years ago, when I quit my job to write full time. I was one of the lucky few, I know. But I also had little choice. Our autistic son was finished with all the schooling programs available to him and our youngest wasn't around to watch him after school anymore. He was a senior, with a job and a life. The tending duties were back to me. But ever since then, I've struggled to keep tapping away, throughout the day, with no clear separation between working and relaxing and housekeeping, etc. My kids know to look for me in my office. I'm always in my office. But after spending 3 years in my office, I don't have a heck of a lot to show for it.

Will I be more focused in the office?
How can I not? I won't have the internet. I can't be interrupted by phone calls. Surely that will make me more productive than I have been.

It's worth a shot at least.

I've got two parties going on this week. One tomorrow, one Saturday. By the first of next week I hope to have my happy haven up and running, my head in the game, and my hands on the keyboard. I can't wait to see what happens.

No editing again today. Babies, babies, and more babies. The same for the rest of the week. By next Monday, my duties will probably be a little lighter where babies are concerned, but even so, I'll have an office to head to when possible. It's not far away, but far enough. It's about three miles. Maybe I'll start walking to work somedays.


So. Tell me. What might you do to fix your own focus?
Are you looking for focus? Or are you looking for a way out of this job because it's just too much work?
Go ahead. Tell me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Back in the Saddle October 15, 2013`

I'm back. And it just so happens that "back" is the word of the day.

I'm back from the retreat. The Kiss It and Send It Ceremony was a good exercise in silliness, as always. I've handed off the ceremonial God of the Cave to someone else so the tradition can continue without me. I am not sure if I will be participating in the romance association much longer and I wanted to leave it in good hands just in case.

I came back to find that my daughter has recovered enough to move back home. She's able to walk without a walker and even take stairs if there is a railing. I'll still have her and the three wee ones in my care during the day, but she has made incredible progress whilst I was gone. We are all breathing a bit easier. The danger, we believe, has passed.

I'm back to a weight I haven't seen for three years! Not only did I not gain anything back while dining out in Park City, I've lost another pound since returning on Sunday. Down six. Thirteen total since the first of August. I'm pretty excited. Sugar is still foreign food to me. Temptation only comes when I am stressed or not paying attention. So I pay attention, and when I'm stressed, my new policy is that I will not look for food until the stress has passed. So far, that has saved my bacon.

No. Not only did I not get a word, let alone a page, edited during the conference, I only opened my computer once to make sure I wasn't missing any emergency at home. I'd left my phone in the car, in the parking garage, and I felt like I needed to leave it there. If anything important happened, my family could have called the hotel, or the cell of a friend. Once I got up there, I just felt like the best therapy would be to unplug for the weekend. So I did.

There were a couple of great presentations, but for the most part it was a weekend to gather and reconnect with other writers, to be able to look around a large room and see an army of my fellows who are always out there, feeling what I'm feeling, fighting what I fight--people who have my back.

And for the most important "back" of the day, I'm back in the writer's saddle. Real life held me back for a while, but I have to return to production mode. And while I am looking for an office space yet again--my youngest and his wife will be moving in by the end of this month--I'm still going to have to work the work into the cracks of my day.

I guess I say that all the time, don't I?
But at least I'm still trying to claw my way up this muddy hill. I haven't given up.

Don't you give up either.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October 9th, and a pause...

Today was another hectic day that got away from me. My biggest accomplishment was again, getting everyone within the sound of my voice bathed, fed, warm enough, cool enough, and happy enough to keep the crying at the minimum.

So much for getting a running start at the weekend.

Tomorrow, I'll be headed to Deer Valley for the annual Romance Writers of America local conference. A few friends and I are headed up early, it being Thursday, so we can stretch our little party as far as possible without raising the suspicions of our families. The best part about the conference is a thing we call The Kiss It and Send It Ceremony. If you're curious, you can find the blog with the ceremony script here. We end up bungling it badly--every time--and having a grand yearly laugh.

I'm going to be editing while I'm there, I so swear. But I say that every year.
I'll meet you back here on Monday night and confess my # of pages edited. Please realize anything over ten will be an accomplishment.

You've got lots of prep time. What are you going to accomplish this weekend? Give yourself some sort of goal, for pity's sake. Let's impress ourselves, shall we?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Oct. 8, 2013

On the diet front: I am holding steady at 5 new pounds down since buying my ticket. I have STILL had no chocolate or sugar. I did have some pizza crust, so I can't say I haven't had bread, but the lack of chocolate, sugar cereal, backed goods, etc., that I usually have on a daily basis has certainly made me feel different. A drastic change in diet won't count for much if I don't get back to walking.

In related news, I'm asking Santa for a punching bag.

On the writing front:
No new words.
No edited pages today.
I'm blaming the houseguests, all of whom I am feeding, dressing, or wiping the butts thereof.  Most of them are getting all of the above. (Only the granddaughters, not the daughter, thank goodness.)

On the mental front:
I am going crazy. I feel ambition and drive rushing through my veins right now and there is nothing I can do about it. I keep leaning toward an office outside the house, but even if I had one right now, I wouldn't be able to go until 8 at night.

Any suggestions along office lines would be greatly appreciated. I'm out of ideas.

How are your fronts?

Btw, I removed the link to this blog from my website. I don't need my readers getting in here and finding out what a wack job I am.

I CAN SEE!! October 7, 2013

I can't believe I'm about to admit this, but after five days without sugar, I can SEE.

No, I have no vision impairment other than a little bit of dry-eye from my lasik surgery. But apparently I've had a little bit of a brain impairment from my mega doses of sugar.

But every writer has their magic snacks, right? Lots of writers do well on a sugar high. I know of one who must have chocolate covered cinnamon bears when writing new words. I know another who, like me, has to line her M&M's up in rows according to color. I personally need those rows ordered as they would appear in a rainbow. For a while, I was nuking those dark chocolate pomegranate thingees. But no more. I can't handle the hard stuff anymore.

Like everything else, though, the snacking is just a procrastination tool. So now that I've been tough for five days and the headaches are proving it's just about out of my system, I'm going to treat snacking as a procrastination tool and avoid it all I can. Of course a little ritual can go a long way to getting your head in the game, but we can come up with rituals that don't include food, right?

Let me tell you what I can see today that I don't think I've been able to see for a long time...

I can see my characters a little clearer. I can see where I need a lot more emotion, a little more setting. I can see my own words like someone else wrote them and I can see FLAWS. I feel like I did the day I had my eyes done. I could see the pine trees on the mountains! Individual pine trees. And I feel like I haven't been seeing the individual trees in my projects.

Of course this might all be due to the fact I set those stories aside to write a few more before getting back to the editing desk and looking at them again. Time gives you a fresh perspective, yes, but it's never been this fresh before.

And so, with that enthusiasm that is not unlike donning a fresh pair of contacts, I have attacked my Isobelle script with a vengeance. I am determined to make it memorable. I expect to have draft two done by the end of the weekend, even though I'll be at the conference. Drafts three and four should be done by the end of October.

So, writers, are you seeing your material clearly?
Maybe you should take a look at your snackage.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Baby Steps Part II October 5, 2013

Today I had to follow my own advice. Sit down, open document, start reading. And it worked. I got about the same amount done today--which is not much--but at least I'm forming a habit of it.

I never actually set aside any working time tonight. The stress around here all but drips from the ceiling like an alien humidity and when the opportunity arose for The Rock and I to leave the house, we ran. We went to see The Family with Robert Dinero. A lot of violence. A few good chuckles. It was just the stress relief we needed.

My daughter announced she can finally feel improvement. So YAY!
There is now hope that by next week I might have evenings to work at least, so my goals for October are not completely out of reach. I'm also heading off Thursday to Park City to our annual Romance Writers of America conference. It's silly to even try to get any work done, but hey, I'm kinda silly that way. And I've got a lot of lost time to make up for.

I'm sorry to bore you with personal crap, but I've also lost 3 pounds in the three days since buying airfare to Scotland. It is the craziest thing in the world, but I haven't eaten or wanted to eat sugar or bread or anything unhealthy since that moment. I cannot explain it. I'm starting to get strange headaches that resemble Pepsi withdrawal, but on the opposite side of my head. I assume I'm withdrawing from sugar. How great is that? I don't even take anything for the discomfort because it's a little neon sign that tells me I've made it to some remarkable point.

Have I been around sugar? Yes. Completely surrounded by it. Was I tempted? NOT EVEN!

But here is my biggest hope--other than to lose another 61 pounds by the time I board the plane--that my blood sugar lowers to the point I can think more clearly. I'm pinning a lot on losing weight. I'm hoping to get my sense of smell back and that my memory will improve along with all the other obvious benefits. And for the first time in about ten years, I actually believe it is going to happen.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to carve out some time to edit and defend that time like it means something to me. Because it does.

Good luck to you too.

Friday, October 4, 2013

I AM A WRITER! October 4, 2013

Oh my gosh!

Thank goodness I actually got something done today. I was beginning to worry I was never really going to be a writer ever again. Ever.

I forced myself to open up the document and start reading. Editing just kind of kicks in, doesn't it? It's like a florist walking past a vase of disorderly roses--you can't just keep walking. And we can't just ignore the bad sentence that begs to be fixed, not when it's in our power to fix it, right?

So. How to get the editing done: sit down, open the doc, start reading. Following Supe's advice for the week, I did not take the time to do any research on missing information. That can happen in the last version. But for now, I'm just trying to shape the thing into what it's going to be. I did take the time to look up a synonym or two. After all, I might miss that awkward word in the next run through. Best to fix it when I can see it. Terms that need more research I just turned red and moved on.

Six pages. Yep. That's all I got done, but at least I actually DID something for a change instead of just talking about it. It wasn't the twenty pages I was hoping for, but I'm unable to stay up late anymore thanks to my son's new day program that starts at 9 three days a week. And I'm an all or nothing kind of gal. I even had a nap today and it didn't help me stay up later. I'm just going to have to face the fact I'm a morning person now.

Oy. Somewhere, a world might be coming to an end. It might even be this one.

Lots of stuff going on tomorrow. I'm going to make sure editing is part of that stuff.

How did you do?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Best Excuse Ever--October 3, 2013

Besides the now-usual slog of distractions I was going to side-step today, in order to get my five hours of editing done, I did something that completely took over my focus and made working impossible.

I purchased airline tickets for myself and The Rock to fly to Scotland. In April. For THREE WEEKS.

I'd been planning this trip for a while now. We had hoped to go last April, but The Rock was grounded by a major project at work and we had one last child getting married. So we postponed. It seemed poetic to go for my big birthday, which means we'll be there for the anniversary of the Battle of Culloden Moor. (I can hear some of you yawning.)

The great surprise that accompanied this airline reservation was an unbelievable end to my appetite. It's like I fell madly in love in the space of time it took to log on, find the flights we wanted, and book the tickets. I have no need for chocolate, suddenly. I'm about as eager to swallow sugar as I am to munch on dog food. And when I think about walking a mile, I can't imagine walking it at all. I want to run. I want to hurry and work off all this fat--and not because I'm worried about fitting in my assigned seat (which is what I suspected my procrastination was coming from)--because I simply feel like I don't need it anymore.

Isn't that CRAZY? I don't need this fat anymore. Those are the exact words that come to mind. And I ask myself what in the hell I thought I needed this fat for in the first place? And just when did I ever take a bite with the intention of gaining weight?

Obviously, the answer is NEVER.

But I do remember one day during my senior year in high school when I realized I didn't need to chew my fingernails anymore. And I didn't. Ever. Except in hangnail emergencies, like everyone else.

So I hope this works out to be the same. I hope I find it just as difficult to force myself to eat (for nutrition) tomorrow as it was today. In fact, I'm sitting here next to a giant bag of Halloween chocolate, my stomach is growling at me to reach in, and I just don't feel like it.

In five days, I could have a helluva lot of sugar out of my system!

So I ask you.
What would it take for you to not need junk food in your life?
For me, I may have traded one addiction for another. I may be addicted to Scotland, and I'm finally going to get my fix.
You see why The Rock is coming along? To drag me home again?

Tomorrow, I shall edit, or I am not a writer. Oy.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Moon Phase--Time for new goals. October 2, 2013

Perhaps, like me, you did not hit your writing goals for the month of September. And perhaps, like me, you hope to do better in October. Maybe you think lowering your goals is the best course of action if you hope to have any success.

But what if you're wrong?

What if there is some magic in the air in the month of October? Don't you want to take advantage?

And don't forget about football.
When it's third-and-five, you pick a play and hope for the best. After all, you can always punt if you fall short of first down.
But when it's third-and-forty, with only enough time on the clock for two more plays, you throw a Hail Mary. Maybe a Flee-flicker, and if that fails, THEN a Hail Mary.

The point is, we're in the last quarter of the year. With the holidays coming, we're getting down to the wire here. If we're going to accomplish great things, we need to get them done now. We're going to have to get tricky. We're going to have to put our weight into it. Not one or the other. We're going to have to do both.

So lets take the energy the crowd is offering and go for it.

Nothing to lose, but the game, maybe the season.

And since this championship game won't require too much physical exertion, I'm all in, baby. I'm asking myself to put a lot of energy into a sit-down job. How hard can that be, really?

I'm going to look around and find the goal post--the end zone for me is to get these five projects up like I had planned to do before.

I'm playing against a lot of big players--my family obligations (caring for my recovering daughter, etc.), some house remodeling, upcoming holidays, excellent TV programs, an overworked husband, etc. And the ringer here is my sudden lack of private office space at home. IN OTHER WORDS, the typical forms of resistance faced by nearly every other writer on any given day.

I refuse to let the opposing team intimidate me. I'm going to keep my eye on the game clock--about a month and a half--and I'm going to face the ugly truth: It's time to stop analyzing and line up for the kick-off.

Tomorrow, I'm going to carve out five hours from my day and edit my brains out. Five hours. Even if I have to take five separate hours, I will make it happen. And by tomorrow night, I'm going to feel like a writer again.

So invite yourself to a bowl game and get on the field. Let me know how it goes.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Life is good. September 30th

Good news. My daughter is doing well and will be released from the hospital tomorrow. She'll be in pain and it will take a month or two for her to recover, but I still have a daughter. And I this close call has changed us all.

Today was also the first time I've had a chance to get together with Supe and take a look at where we are. Remembering what life was like before last week, remembering what I used to think was important, was a nice trip down memory lane. But don't get me wrong. I'm still all about getting my butt in the chair and getting the writing done. That will never change. But I'm a lot more interested in the messages I'm embedding in my writing. I think I can be much more clear with my themes. I think my end products might be a little more meaningful.

Who knows if it will last? We all change a little after we lose someone, or come close to losing someone from our lives. But how easy it is to forget the wake up calls and fall back into our same old mind-sets.

What I'm interested to see is what changes I might see in my daughter. She's only 24. A little young for a wake up call. A little young for a second chance.

I think this is a great lesson in how to make one's characters change. See if you've given them a slight nudge or a life changing wake up call. We've got to do our part, right? We can't just expect these people to change their attitudes without proper motivation.

As for word count, I'm just hoping to get a peek at my manuscript tomorrow. It's The Rock's birthday and we'll be bringing my daughter home, to our home, to stay here until she can take stairs again. On top of all that, I'll be watching the three Mousketeers. But I have to learn how to make room in my busy day for my own work.

I showed Supe some lovely wood sheds tonight. I'm thinking of putting one in my backyard and calling it my office. After all, the house is about to be invaded on two fronts and a baby crib is going up in the room I now call my office. I'm a little desperate for private space and if there were a couch long enough for The Rock, I'd consider kicking him out of the bedroom to make Custard's last stand in there. But alas, no couch was ever made to fit that man. So I'm stuck.

Other than space and time, everything is in my favor. But for writers, isn't it always that way?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday, Sept. 26

Sorry there was nothing yesterday. My daughter had a pulmonary embolism and the world turned upside down. I'm the only grandma, so I had her two-year-old twins and the newborn.

It's been pretty crazy here, but at least my daughter is still with us. Looks like I'm going to be taking care of her and her 3 daughters for the next month, during the day. Working writing and editing into my day is going to be hard, but I'm still determined to do it. I can't be too adamant about my deadlines, however, until I know just how much of my day is going to be mine.

I am incredibly thankful to God for sparing her. She has a saddle embolism, and I'm told it is rare indeed to survive one. Most people never make it to the doctor. But now that they've caught it and started thinning her blood, her chances are good. All prayers on her account can be cashed in at the Pearly Gates, of course.

Come on, people. Let's not forget we've got work to do. Life is short. Don't let those stories go untold.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday, Sept. 24, Return to real life

Our retreat cabin had no functioning internet, so I was unable to post all weekend. We went up Friday afternoon and returned yesterday, Monday. We are usually able to arrange for an early check in and late check out so we can have a straight 72 hours to work, but that was not the case this time.

And so, with a little less time and a whole day's worth of just messing around in the pine trees around Brighton Ski Resort, I ended up with half the 20k goal. I did walk the dragon many times, and dictated for an hour once after I'd crawled into bed--that was a surprising 2900 words in 76 minutes. I never hit that kind of production again, but I did get a lot of walking in. A LOT OF WALKING. I probably got a total of about 3 hours of walking in Saturday and Sunday, and for me, that's phenomenal.

As for projects, I did finish the first draft of Kiss This, the new Christmas novella. And I got 6000 hard won words added to the Wicked/Wickham project. I also changed my mind a few times about whether or not to even finish that one since the story line is more about the characters themselves than the romance, so while it is an exercise of different muscles than usual, it is an uncomfortable task. In the end, it was yet another email from a patiently waiting reader that tipped the scales. I will finish the book.

I also took a hard look at what I've been able to accomplish during August and September, and the end result was not what I was expecting. I thought I would have been able to edit much faster than I have. And so my stacks are uneven.

My pile of stories to be written by the end of October consists of one title left unfinished--Wickham.

My pile of stories ready for editing includes Isobelle, Mrs. Wiggs, Scavenger Hunting, and Kiss This.

You see? I'm so lopsided I'm going to be walking funny for a while.

The solution is obviously to stop writing new words and start edits on the ones I already have. Otherwise I'm going to have to start storing them in proverbial shoe boxes under the proverbial bed.

So from this point on, probably until the end of October, I'm switching to page counts instead of word counts. I'm going to try to edit at the very minimum ten pages per day. But my average will have to be double that if I'm to get these four books to my editing friends and out of my hands by November. Wickham's last chapters will have to be worked in here and there when I need a break. Hopefully, it will be ready for edits when these four move on.

I also have a new personal focus plan. I'm going to work on simple, basic self-control. And I'm not talking about diet and exercise. I'm talking about the ability to force myself to do whatever it is I need to do when I need to do it. I'm not sure, but there is every possibility that I have never possessed this capacity before. I think it's high time I cut myself open and see if those muscles exist somewhere beneath my skin.

How are your self-control muscles doing? Any tips will be appreciated.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thursday, New Moon, Sept. 19th

Big fat moon.
Big fat ideas.

I had great breakout ideas for three projects on my plate. For the day book, the night book, and the next day book. I can't remember how long it's been since I've had an ahah moment, let alone three on the same day. This bodes well for the retreat that starts tomorrow.

It is interesting to note that all three epiphanies came while I was doing physical work around the house, not sitting at the computer. So I'm going to make sure the weekend has a lot of physical movement for me too.

If Rock hadn't been so  wiped out from his day job, he might have noticed that he got a home cooked meal--the first one in ages--and homemade chocolate chip cookies when he got home. I'm ashamed to say I can't remember the last meal I cooked for the three of us. I seem to only prepare special things when all the kids are here together. My bad.

Also, the cookies are not as innocent as they looked. I packed them up and hid them for the big rivalry game on Saturday. I'll be away, but I'll take a minute to call home, to make my six Ute fans sing "Rise and shout, the Cougars are out," or I won't tell them where they are. Cougar cookies. And they'll want them in spite of the name, I guarantee it. I used to work for Mrs. Fields once upon a time. Heh heh heh.

So, it's time to get the suitcase packed and get some major words written. We typically try for 20k for these three day retreats, that is, when we're not trying to write an entire novel in 3 days. (Yes, we do that sometimes.) So I'm hoping to come home with the 20k and with the first drafts of two projects off my plate.

And from now on, no pussy footing around. I'll keep an edit count and a new word count from now on. So help me. It seems to help. Accountability and Shame are my best friends this year.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 The Reboot

I don't know what it is about the first cool day of autumn, but I feel like a dam has just broken inside me. Or maybe I was the damn dam. Who knows. But the point is, I'm ready for change. I'm ready for action. I'm ready to get off my butt and...get back in the chair. I'm ready to make things happen instead of just thinking about them and planning them.

But I'll get back to that.

I should first address my absence.
I took the weekend off for a family reunion. We had a great time that ended with some serious car trouble on the other side of the mountain. Then I spent the first of the week trying to get the vehicle situation resolved. It's a bowl of spaghetti I won't  share with you here. My husband should have his truck back by Friday, so everything will work out in the end. Blah, blah, blah.

Besides all that, I made a grave mistake.

I allowed myself to take a break from this blog. There was no need, since we did have wi-fi at the cabin and I could have posted. But since I also need to earn the right to post here, I should have set aside a half hour SOMEWHERE and got some work done so that I COULD blog about it.

But no. I took time off. 

Here's a little insight into me. I'm an all or nothing kind of gal. I always was. And that alone is what causes my husband stress from time to time, though he rarely complains.

Knowing this, the last thing I should ever do is take time off. Of course I piddle around like everyone else does on the internet. I get distracted by movies and family, and family who want to watch movies together. I'm normal. But if I get off the wagon, I wander off. I forget the wagon, the road, and the friends who are on the wagon waiting for me to catch back up. 

But I'm back now. And I hope you'll forgive me for flaking on you.

What I have found interesting, when chatting with a few other writers, is that they've been having a similar problem. Getting their butts back in their chairs has been nearly impossible for writers who are usually the most disciplined among us. I'm wondering if it is, in fact, the season change coming upon us instead of, say, the phases of the moon.

I've watched the moon phases for the past 2-3 months now and tracked my production and focus and believed there was a distinct pattern. I was counting on the moon telling me when I was going to be at my best. But this past week or so has shot that all to Hades. I'll keep watching, of course, to see if that pattern returns, but for now, all bets are off. Hopefully it's just the seasonal shake up. 

But whatever it is, I think we're in for some amazing productivity, and a spurt of creativity that I hope will last a while. I feel like the very ground is rumbling beneath my feet, and what breaks out of that ground might just be a Godzilla version of me. 

(I have no evidence that I am manic depressive, but if I am, get ready for a helluva manic stretch. And you're going to need one massive net when I start to fall.) 

In any case, the writing is back on. The goals remain the same. A few days behind. Since it doesn't involve actual physical running, I expect to catch up without too much trouble. I'll post in the early am and let you know what I get done tonight. I'm focused on getting one project edited, so no new words are in the plan for tonight.

Also, I'm headed to a writers retreat up in Brighton this weekend. We all plan to get grundles of work done before we come back down the mountain on Monday afternoon. Minds can be blown in three days, you know.

What I would really like to know is how the rest of you have been dealing with this disturbance in the force. Have any of you cranked out some awesome word counts lately? And what has your last week been like? Have you been waiting for the ground to rumble? Waiting for a Get Out of Jail Free card? And do you feel like you're done waiting?

Tell me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thursday September 12, 2013

Same editing. Different day. Nothing exciting or enlightening to report other than the face that Supe is going nuts with her dragon and leaving me in the dust.

I'm leaving town--again, leaving the pit bull to watch over our worthless possessions--and won't check in again until Sunday or so. In the meantime, I expect you all to stand on your dining room tables and announce to your families that you are going to write from X o'clock to X o'clock and you are not to be disturbed.

Let's see what you can accomplish this weekend!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wednesday, I'm sure

I know it's Wednesday because I asked people all day long. For the past two days, I've been thinking it was Friday. Not in a hurry for Friday, but just felt all Fridayish.

It was another strangely emotional day today. All my work was editing. No new words, but with my emotions out of control, any new words might have gotten me in trouble, or ended up in the trash.

I am behind schedule by 2 days on both my day book and night book. Somehow, screwing up on both somehow seems okay. Symmetry is always a good thing, right? Well, I am symmetrically behind. But I worked today. For six hours. And I got some edits behind me that I've been putting off for a long time--so long I was beginning to think I might never get them done, that I might be suffering from some editor's block. But it turned out I was just lazy.

Tomorrow, I hope to start edits on Isobelle.

I have a writers retreat Sept 20-23, so I've only got a week to get a lot of stuff out of the way so I can write something big at the retreat. Taking my dragon with me. Plan to write in the hot tub a bit. And I have my own room, so I can also dictate in there. I wonder if it will work in the sauna.


Real life has already promised to mess up tomorrow. I am going to need some deep breathing and some happy thoughts to make it through.

Tell me your Thursdays are going to be great days that will make you smile when you look back on them.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday, I think

Edited today.
Pissed around a lot today after the dentist appointment.
Couldn't focus my energy.
Should have watched my recorded "Newsroom" first. That would have solved everything. I might have written a book or two...
Maybe this will explain it. I posted it on my FB page.

Sit back and get comfortable. This is going to take a few minutes...

When you get married, it's supposed to be such a celebration that you order a damn big cake. And you make sure you get it from a place that makes cakes extra delicious so it corresponds with the level of celebration. Think about that cake.*

Every once in a while, I'm out away from the city lights far enough that I can see falling stars. Even more rare is the night when this coincides with a meteor shower. A meteor shower is falling stars on Speed.  It's life rushing past you in fast forward. It's an event  the glory of which you wish you could record exactly as you see it, as you feel it, but no matter how someone tries, you really can't do it justice. It's the Universe falling at your feet.*

And while I'm typing this, my mind is in overdrive, trying to summon something else, anything else, that would be an appropriate metaphor for the condensed bliss of watching the show, The Newsroom.  Do any of you remember West Wing? Do you remember how closely you had to pay attention to get every delicious line that was fired out of a semi-automatic script? The Newsroom is West Wing times five. I can tell without looking that the writers from West Wing grew up and found a new job. Maybe they've even been taking steroids and I don't even care, unless they are going to suffer some horrible side effects, like cancer.

I wish I could share the rush of adrenaline I feel right now, and maybe it's just because I'm a writer who can appreciate how brilliantly those words were strung and then condensed by a Honey-I-Shrunk-the-Kids Machine so the maximum words possible could be spouted (by brilliant actors, I should add) in an hour.

(And when I mentioned bliss, I wasn't talking about anything as ubiquitous as sex. An hour long orgasm would leave you exhausted, not exhilarated. Or maybe that's just me.)

I'm getting in a little too deep here. You're probably tempted to roll your eyes, or walk away, bored. But I had to say something because...because it's kind of like when you desperately feel you should bare your testimony to someone. (Mormons will get this--they won't appreciate the analogy, but they'll get it.) But to writers I say, you MUST watch this show. You must find a way to write more intensely. You must find a way to push your intense fiction into the spotlight so I can have more adrenaline rushes when I read.

Stop being okay with your stories being okay when you could very well be writing the next Newsroom. If you're not standing on your desk when you write, you're doing it wrong. If you need a sturdier desk, sell your car and go get one. And if you don't have something important to say, for hell sakes don't make something up, go effing FIND something important to say. Go. Find it.

Or you don't get any cake, damn you.

(And now that I've got a fire under my butt, maybe I can get something done.)

Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 Denoument

After a fantastic production day like yesterday, today was a bit anti-climatic.

I had planned to edit all day. I got four hours in. Since I was pretty caught up on the writing, I wanted to go hard on the day book, but it was not to be.

Supe, on the other hand, had a tremendous day of editing with her dragon. When she's writing with it, she's getting around 3k per hour compared to my 2k. And she has come up with a great way to edit with it too. Instead of going in and fixing each typo, she reads the paragraph again, as it should have been written. It's so much faster than typing, that it doesn't take her long to read through what she'd written, only with all the correct punctuation, spelling, etc.

She's brilliant that way. I told her she should be doing a blog, but the woman is far too busy being productive. And it's all still so exciting that she can't wait to get back to it every time she has to step away.

After my current project, I'm going to try to do the Editing a la Supe. I have so many finished projects lined up for final edits that anything that will help me plow through I just have to try.

So. Tomorrow is another day. I've got to play catch up when I'm not in the dentist's chair. And I've got to get my walking in, which I failed to do today.

Hope you did better than I.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sun/Mon check in--Sept. 8&9 Finish lines!

DISCLAIMER: There may be an uncontrolled number of exclamation points in this post.

I know I wasn't going to check in until after Monday's work, but I couldn't wait.

I finished Mrs. Wiggs! The word count is only about 14k, but I expect it to end about 16k and around 70 pages after the edits. Not bad for a short episode. It will still be standing in line for edits, but I'm thrilled the first draft is done. I hate it when short projects take a freaking long time to write.

Here's the breakdown, then I'm going to share a little helpful advice about the Dragon.

Saturday, I wrote just under 400 words on my Alphasmart while sitting at a restaurant waiting for some friends. That turns out to be around 1100 words per hour. That's about my average on my Alphasmart. I can pretty much bank on it.

Sunday I had to fight tooth and nail to get in front of the computer, then I realized I wasn't going to be able to work well with Football in the background and the phone ringing, even though the Rock said he'd get it. He also cleaned and vowed to let me do nothing but write for the next four years, but it wasn't happening. So I grabbed my headset, my Alphasmart, and my digital recorder, jumped in the car, and drove out by the Great Salt Lake, to a little bend in the road midst acres of farmland, where very very few cars drive by. I like to think of it as my West office.

I opened the top on my car and sat in the cool breeze. I couldn't get comfortable with the Alphasmart and a pillow on my lap, so I pulled out the recorder and went to town. I didn't even walk. I just sat in my car and told the story. OH MY GOSH, I couldn't believe how slowly I was telling it. I was certain I could type faster. I had half sentences, long pauses, and I kept forgetting to say "New Paragraph", etc.

Then I had to pee. An hour or more of good sunlight left and I had to call it quits.

I hurried home and when I transcribed the file, I was shocked. With a file of 1 hour and 37 minutes, I had written 3256. That averages--even stumbling and bumbling around--to be over 2000 words an hour. For me, that's a lot of talking.

I thought I could settle in and do some typing, but after some frustration, which I'll address in a second, I decided I had to get out of the house again. And I still hadn't walked yet. So I took the recorder and headed to the park. It was dark, but the center of the park always has people and has good lighting. The next session wasn't very long because yes, I forgot to pee again before I left the house. This time, I had 47 minutes (which also means 47 minutes of walking!!!!) and I got 1610 words in  (my average was still over 2k per hour!) and I walked 1.12 miles!

This also got me too close to the end to stop. I wrote two sessions on Dr. Wicked for another 2593 and I typed The End at 1:01 am! Perfect timing. And I'm still on schedule with both my day books and night books!

  400 Alphasmart
4866 dictating
2593 Dr. Wicked.
7859 total

Hands down, recording wins. HANDS DOWN. And you know how long it feels like I was writing? 2 1/2 hours--the time I was typing. The time I was recording didn't feel like writing at all, didn't feel like work at all. Subtracting the 400 I wrote on Saturday, I wrote 7459 today. In one day. And it felt like 2 1/2 hours. I had to go back and re-check the math too. I couldn't believe it. I spent 4.7 hours working and got 7859 total. You see how close that is to 8000?!!! Holy crap. (This most productive moon phase will last until the 12th, people! Get crackin'!)

Yeah. Don't hate me.

So this is the help I'd like to share.
After the first session on the recorder, I downloaded it, then thought I'd better do some corrections so the software could see where to improve, etc. I started editing, with my headset, not my hands, and it was like the software stopped speaking English. I was doing everything the way I'd learned before, using the same commands I'd used before, and it was like it didn't hear a word. I was so frustrated I wanted to throw it all out the window.

I called Supe, just to vent, and she suggested I shut the program down then open it again.
I tried it. It worked! It went right back to understanding my commands and editing the way I'd edited before. After coming home with so many new words, I was so glad I didn't have to scrap my Dragon! The only thing I could imagine was that my headset had gotten damaged in my purse, but no. Headset is working fine.

You all tempted to try the Dragon yet?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Quick check in, Friday, Sept. 6

Still ahead on the day books.
Didn't get that night book finished today. Slowed down by a family emergency, then when I did sit down to write, I realized I had research to do before the final scene could be written.
So, after slogging around the internet learning about the Civil War and various weapons, my mind is numb.

I'm headed off to bed (it's only 10 pm!) to stare at the dark ceiling and figure out the choreography of the finale. Tomorrow I will be back on track. I know I was only going to write five days a week, but with so much possible for the month of September, I cannot restrain myself. I hope tomorrow I feel the same.

Have a lovely weekend. I'll check in again on Monday.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Almost forgot! Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013

Yes, yes, yes! I am on schedule! I'm even a day ahead of schedule with my day books!

I know it's only been a couple of days, but considering my last week in August, every consecutive day is a big win! Tomorrow I will finish up my current night book. Since I'm ahead of schedule on my day book, I'll probably devote the entire day to finishing up Picklesfork, the first book in my new series called The Ghost and Mrs. Wiggs. Short Western thrillers that should give readers a few laughs and a nice twist.

Get it? The Ghost and Mrs. Wiggs, written by L.L. Muir. Get it? 

Then on Saturday I'm going to start on the last scenes of Kiss This, my new Christmas romance.

See a trend here? Lots of projects that were nearly finished when I got distracted by a squirrel, or a new story line. It's just time to clean house, you know?

Something interesting from the day's surfing:
I watched an interview with Diana Gabaldon tonight and she shared some advice she'd given to her writer-son. Besides telling him to never read his Amazon reviews, she also said, "You don't owe the readers anything. Your only loyalty is to the book. There is nothing but you and the book." Then she admitted that there are those who write what the readers want, what they expect, and they make a lot of money doing it. But she writes for herself and her characters.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? I'm really curious. I was a little taken aback by her attitude, but I have to say, the past two books I've written were not intended to make the readers happy, only to tell what really happened to those characters. (And I know that sounds a little crazy, but it's true.) But I can't say I totally disregarded what the readers were expecting. (Both books were sequels. One has yet to come out.)

My question is, do you think such a mindset would be freeing? Or do you think it might get you into trouble? Do you think the quality, the honesty of a book would be better if we all shared that attitude?

I'm headed to bed early. Human hours--again.

Answer this too:
How did you do? And how did you do it? Did you have to hide from the world? Or act crazy so the world would hide from you.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 Planning Day

Today was the last full day of the organization phase of the moon.
It's called the EXO phase--the days of high focus but low energy. It's the perfect time to make plans, to see into the future and plan what you'll do once the energy is there. It's time for building structure.

I'm really glad there was a little EXO left after the holiday weekend because the next few weeks will go better if I've planned well.

So, this is what I've planned...

Since I already know the word count I need to hit, I also needed a plan for my editing needs. I've probably mentioned this before, but the only way I think I can get all my editing and revising done is if I'm doing it daily too. Here's the problem: I can't edit a project until after the first draft is out. I've tried. It doesn't work for me. Every book I've tried to edit along the way stalls. As in, stops dead in its tracks. I cannot edit as I go. Period.

So, if I waited until each project was finished, then edited it, I wouldn't get any writing done while editing--unless I spent my writing time on another project. So that's what I'm doing.

Instead of one stack of projects (on 3X5 cards), I have two. The projects for which I'm still writing the first draft I call my night books. The completed books that still need edits and revisions, I call my day books. I have them in order. I'm going to put in 4 hours a day on my day book, then four hours a day on my night book, writing new words.

The exciting part? I've got so many projects close to completion that in about ten days, I should have five projects sent on to editors or formatters. For those of you who know my projects, these five are: Isobelle, Wiggs, Scavenger Hunting, Wickham, and Kiss This. All of them will be out the door before the month is half through! What in the world shall I do with the second half of my September?

(Yeah, yeah. I know. Don't hate me. They're not done yet. And let's not forget what happened with the second half of August--I got little done at all. This month I will tempt Fate by declaring I cannot do worse.)

8 hour days, my friends. A full time job that I love. Surely, I can pull this off.

So far, Day 1, I got over four hours on the day book. My daughter and her hubby needed an emergency date, so instead of playing with my dragon, or Dr. Wicked, I held the baby and played with the 3 year olds. (Not all at the same time.)

Tomorrow, I shall guard my night book time a little better. I wasn't up to writing much tonight anyway. I'm still worn out from the holiday. I'm also afraid I've reverted back to human time. Since coming home, I've been going to be early and getting up at the ungodly hour of 9 am. If I'm not careful, I'm going to end up with a nine to five job.

Heaven help us all.

So. Tomorrow night starts the next moon phase, the New Moon phase, called PHYLO. Low focus, high energy. We should be able to get a lot of things done in the coming week, even if we might be a little emotional doing it. Hold onto your butts...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013--Out with the old, in with the new...

Hello Campers!

Getting to be like Groundhog Day, isn't it?
Well, let's change it up a bit. Let's move on into this fresh new month and leave August behind us. But before we go, let's take a look at how we did.

First of all, I assume you all increased your goals, or at least wanted to aim higher than usual or you wouldn't have been hanging out here, right? So? How did you do? Did you have a word count to which you could compare your August word count? Did you write down what you accomplished in August at least? After all, if you're serious about improvement, you have to pay attention. You have to write down your numbers. 

If you're keeping track of progress only in your head, it's not nearly as fun. If you really have a great day, you need to celebrate it. You need to at least be able to point to a number scrawled in the corner of a calendar and say, "You see? I AM a writer!"

So. I'm pointing at my August calendar and saying it now. "I wrote 52,878 words for the month. Yes, far fewer than the goal, but I have accomplished so much more than the month before. I kicked butt. And speaking of butts, I also lost 9 pounds. Yes. Yes, I did."

And I will keep the momentum going. I don't just intend to write every day, I will write every day. My goal for the month is...let me count here...five days a week, starting tomorrow...4k per day (not including edits of the projects I have finished...

22 days=88,000 words!
Who's with me???!!!
Come on!

That's not including weekends. We get DAYS off! And September is such a perfect-weather-for-writing month!

One thing Supe and I have been doing for the past few weeks is to keep a running journal of our word counts. We both got calendars with columns that give lines for the hours of a typical work day. They're the kind hair-stylists use for booking appointments. And what we do--or rather, what Supe does and I try to remember to do--is to write what we did with our hours. Did we have a word count? Did we watch TV? Did we veg on Facebook?

We are keeping track. 
Not planning each hour, but giving an accounting for it.
If we're serious about being full time writers, then we need to be putting in 8 productive hours a day on this job, right? And since we are also the business owners, we need to make sure the employees are earning their paychecks. We're making an accounting. We're being accountable.

Some days work better than others. Sometimes I would rather leave it blank than own up to how long my nap was, or my lunch was. But I'm pretty driven to get 8 good, writerly tasks entered each day. And we've agreed to exchange calendars once a month. Shame is a pretty fine motivator. Not guilt. Just plain old shame. I'll let you know how it goes.

As for the holiday weekend, I got nothing writerly done at all. But I had also planned, long ago, that I wouldn't push it. Had a great time with the family. Now I'm ready to get back to work. 

I've got my goal of 88k words.
I'm also going to lose ten more pounds. With the help of my dragon, I'm incredibly optimistic on both counts.

What about you? 

There is nothing in the rules that demand you fall into a deep, punishing depression if you don't reach your goals. And aiming high doesn't mean you're setting yourself up for failure. It just means you're lifting your chin. 

And who among us couldn't use a good chin lift?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday, short post. Back on Monday.

I've been shopping, packing and loading all day, so no new words. I barely got to sit down, so on the exercise front, I KILLED IT!

In dragon news, Supe went last night and purchased hers. (She was experimenting, until now, with her mini iPad and gadgets she already had.) You just can't beat the transcription side to the dragon, however, so she bought one. She messed around with it and found that it was 3:00 in the morning and she'd mastered the basics. She expects fantastic results and I'm pretty sure she's going to leave me in the dust.

Speaking of dust...
I'm headed for the hills. I won't be checking in until Monday night when I'll let you know if I was able to get anything done. I plan to walk ALONE as much as possible and get some dragon time in.

See you Monday.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 Kites

You know those manta ray-looking kites we used to get from the cheap toy stores? They never lasted long, but they lasted a lot longer than the traditional diamond-shaped ones that always needed their tails fixed. I'm not an expert, but there was something wrong with that design, because it seemed that every time I really started enjoying myself, that thing would dive bomb, speeding almost intentionally into the ground.

I hate to sound paranoid, but that's what I thought then.
And that's what I'm thinking now.

No matter how perfect I get things lined up, no matter how far off the ground I can get my day, as soon as I have a smile on my face, the day dive bombs. Not dives. Not bombs. But dive bombs. Almost like its intentional.

Remember that lunch with the mystery writer? Ten minutes before Rock Jr. and I are about to walk out the door, the phone rings. Seriously. Ten minutes.

Five hours later, when that crisis has ended, I announced I was going to have a nap. I figured I'd be working late, I'd need more gas in the tank.

Fifteen minutes later, I got a phone call that forced me back to the computer. Seriously? A fifteen minute nap. I know that's pretty whiny of me, but I do work late. Naps can make or break me sometimes. And after emotional stress, I can't live without them.

And so I waited all day long for a chance to play with my dragon, to get some work done, finally. And I kid you not, it took until about 11 pm for me to remember that in fact I COULD sit down at the computer and type the old fashioned way.

Yes, this is how crazy I've gone. I am so wrapped up in the idea of dictating millions of words in the next year or two, that I spaced off the process I was using five days ago. Well, I've got the world worst memory sometimes. Now maybe you'll believe me.

So. I watched a little TV. Fooled around Facebook. Then got to work. I didn't do Dr. Wicked. I used no magic combination of 2 parts Pepsi to 1 part chocolate. No bells and whistles. Just typing. In 1 1/2 hours, I wrote 1321 words on the western thriller. Not what I'm supposed to be working on, but something close to done. I couldn't resist.

Total for the day: 1321
Total for the week: 1772
I think I need a vacation before we leave for vacation.

Oh, and for you burglars out there, yes, we are leaving the pit bull home. In the house. And the only thing worth money, my computer, I'll have with me. Believe me, my neighbors have better stuff.

Tomorrow will be spent preparing for that vacation. If I were a bettin' man...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, Training the Dragon

For those of you not interested in dictating your books, and just want a push to up your word counts, this blog will not be a constant commercial for the dragon software. Just a day or two more, and it will just be part of the routine. I'll be back to getting in my 4000 to 5000 words a day very soon.

I was pretty excited to get started today.
I was all ready to go to the park when I realized the wind was blowing pretty hard, which doesn't work well with microphones, so I ended up going to the basement and using the treadmill instead.

I walked for ten minutes and got a half mile in when the phone rang and my day was lost to TWO family emergencies. But! In between emergencies I worked on my Dragon profile so I it was ready to transcribe the audio file from my recorder. And hours later, I was finally able to see my word count. (Of course I won't have to do this set up again, so next time I'll be able to see my word count as soon as the file is uploaded.)

Drum-roll please...451 words.
Okay, now. Of course it's a small word count, but not for TEN MINUTES! And I was interrupted by a phone call. If I'd have been at the park and done it for 60  minutes straight, and kept up the pace (which seemed mighty slow to me) I might have written nearly 3000 words in my first try ever!

Let me add that I was winging it. I had no idea where the story was going to go, or what the scene would have in it. I was simply picking up at the end of the last scene I remember writing for this book (a sequel to a book I wrote years ago). And I wasn't just spitting gibberish. I actually had IDEAS come to me and spit from my mouth! Real, new ideas.

I mentioned yesterday that I was afraid of trying to edit vocally. Then, when I was forced to do it, I learned it easily. I was just as relieved this time. Deep down I was terrified this wasn't going to work. I was afraid it was just going to be another thing to set on my shelf and say I tried it once. And even though I'd gotten my hopes up, that I might really be able to exercise and lose all this book weight, I was really worried. Determined to give it my best, but worried. I can imagine some of you are feeling the same way too.

I am not surprised so many people give up in the learning phase. It's going to take some time before I'm going to be able to get my punctuation right without it messing up my train of thought. But I'm willing to be patient while the program learns to understand me. I'm going to stick with the headphone I have and hope the machine gets used to it. Then I'll buy a better one if it doesn't.

But if I've figured this out, anyone can. I'm expecting the transition from keyboard to speech will be about the same adjustment was it was to go from pen and paper to keyboard. I thought I'd never ever be able to compose original thoughts without having my hands on the paper, without my thoughts coming out of the end of a pen. But that changed. And I can change again. I'm not too old yet, damn it. Another year, and I might have been iffy, especially if I didn't get in shape.

I expected to be able to walk about half a mile before I gave out. The truth is, if that phone hadn't rang, I probably would have walked for a mile before I was winded. THAT is amazing, since I've not been walking for a long long time. But what was even more amazing was the fact that I was unaware of the fact that I was walking at all.

It was odd. The walking distracted me from listening too closely to myself. The speaking distracted me from the walking. And I didn't feel like I'd gotten much recorded at all. I was SHOCKED there were 451 words on there. Absolutely shocked.

Tomorrow, I have a lunch planned with a mystery writer and Rock Jr. Then Rock Jr. and I will be headed to the park to walk off the lunch! He can play on the splash pad while I walk around. It's going to be great.

And while I was a chicken and used a future book for this experiment, I'm going to get back to my current works in progress. I'll be working on the Western  Thriller. I think a few hours of dictation should finish that puppy up. Then tomorrow night I'll be editing Isobelle.

Since I bore easily (just learning that about myself) I'm going to keep a day book and a night book. The day book will be whatever is still in first draft stage, and the night book will be whatever I'm editing. If that doesn't work, I'll switch them. I can't see my body clock changing any time soon, so I'll edit in the dead of night since I can't walk at the park at that time. I guess I can use the treadmill if it comes to that.

Enough of my dull life.
What are YOU doing?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013 I'm on a Dragon

Okay, I WAS on a dragon.
In fact, I wrote this whole blog post using the new Dragon, but I lost it. I failed to read up on how to use the little dictation box, or at least the part about having a file open, blahdy blahdy blah blah. Good thing it wasn't a chapter!

What I had written before, ish:

This morning Supe decided to jump right into the dictation thing and recorded and walked, and for her very first hour ever, she got 587 words! I couldn't believe it! (For those of you who don't know who Supe is, she can talk like a semi-automatic at times, but I had no idea she might be able to compose so fast, verbally! And her first hour too! I'm so psyched!

My day has been spent editing and waiting for the teenage cavalry to come to my rescue and install my dragon. When I put the disk in, no prompts came up, and that was where technology can stop me in my tracks. I looked at the files and none of them said "set up." My son walked me through it, however, and the Dragon took off.

The tutorials were very simple. Much easier than learning Scrivener, I promise. And even I was able to learn that. This is a piece of cake.

I thought this was going to be really hard and it wasn't. I could have written a whole lot faster, but I kept finding myself waiting for the program to catch up. I guess it has to take a few seconds to figure a word or two, then it spits out whole sentences. When I looked away from the screen, it just flew.

The only advice I would offer right now is to pay close attention when they tell you to speak in phrases and not single words as much as possible. Phrases help the program figure out what words you really meant. The slower you go, the more mistakes. The more I watched the screen typing things out, the slower I went and the more mistakes were made.

On a positive note, with all those mistakes, I also learned how to edit them. And the editing was the part that intimidated me the most. Now that's all downloaded into my brain. I'm ready to rock and roll.

I have to admit that when those words disappeared I just wasn't up to dictating this post again and correcting all those mistakes again. Correcting verbally was a lot easier than I thought it would be, but I'm mentally exhausted from all this learning. My old brain needs a rest.

Tomorrow, I'm going to enunciate better. I may have to invest in one of those gamer headsets, especially if it's going to save me a lot of time. But for now, there's no pin money attached to my pin.

Oh, yeah. No word count today. Just editing and reading through finished books to keep some facts straight for sequels coming up.

Here's to a mind-blowing word count, and calorie burn, tomorrow.