The Journey to Bliss: A Detour

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Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons Virginia State Parks

I recently read a blog post from Writers Unboxed about letting our creativity rest. It’s a wonderful blog written by a large list of writers for writers about the craft, the business, and the life of writers. If you’re a writer and don’t follow it, I suggest you do. Just the posts from Donald Maass alone are worth hitting the subscription button. (If you don’t know who he is, click on his name. You’ll be impressed. I promise.)

I recently went through a period of not writing. I’m not sure I’d call it a “rest” because I didn’t choose to stop. It was more like a detour. My life became stressful and the voices in my head that feed my work just dried up. I had nothing to say. And was beginning to realize no one was listening anyway. My friends and family told me the inability to write was understandable with all that was going on. One insightful friend said, “three books in three years. You deserve to rest.” Others said be patient (not something I’m good at) the voices would come back. It was over a month before I wanted to sit at my computer again. I didn’t stay there long. Words stretched and yawned reluctant to throw the covers off. The desire to sell my work stayed in hibernation. I had to take a detour whether I liked it or not.

The thing is I’m afraid to take time away from my writing. I haven’t made my full dream come true. I’ve published three books, but they aren’t selling because I haven’t handled that part of my business correctly. I feel like a failure. And a part of me thinks if I stop, if I don’t produce I’ll never have the readership I want. It’s a voice on a loop, “you must write. you must do more. Learn more. Read more. Be more.” Why am I so obsessed with more? Why isn’t what I’ve done enough? Why can’t I take another route, and enjoy the warmth of my accomplishments as the sun streams through my open sunroof?

Is it because I think time is running out? And time resting is time wasted. My father-in-law asked me once if I ever sat down. The Coffee King will tell you, I hate naps. I also hate getting lost. Detours are not my friend.

But I couldn’t force the words. They would awaken when they wanted to.

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Photo Courtesy of Flckr Creative Commons Kate Ter Harr

I let the words lie and tried other things. I read more. A lot more. Genres I didn’t normally read. I colored. I exercised and caught up on some television shows. I sat at my computer and waited for the voices to tell their story. And they did. Slowly.

I’m writing again. It’s different than the other times. I’ve outlined the entire book in more details than I’ve ever used for an outline. I still worry the words will elude me because my word count is low for the time I’ve put in. I worry the story isn’t good enough and no one will like it. I feel the loop of “more, more, more” creeping into my brain, but I can tell it to pull over and turn off the engine once in a while. Not often and not for long, but it’s better than running out of gas on the Parkway.

The full dream will come true. In time. Just not my time. And not my route.

How are you handling the journey to your bliss? What steps have you taken? Are you finding yourself faced with an unexpected detour? What does the road ahead look like?

 

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Cross It Off! #LiveYourBliss

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You probably noticed the blog has a new look. Tell me what you think. I’m not sure yet, how I feel about it, but I made some changes because things are changing for me. My middle grade series is finished, unless you all tell me you’re dying for another Gabriel Hunter book, and currently I’m working on an adult novel. It falls somewhere between Women’s Fiction and Romance. The book is in its infancy stages, but the story is about a middle-aged woman evicted from her predictable life when she receives an anonymous gift – a dilapidated house.

I’m also getting ready to open my doors as a development editor for fiction work. More to come on that in the future.

We’ve been talking lately about living your bliss. If you missed the posts check them out here and here. I hope you have begun taking some steps to bring your bliss to reality. You know, I received a message the other day from someone I went to high school with. It went like this: “Are you really an author? LOL – good for you.” I wasn’t sure what the LOL meant (and I know it’s Laugh Out Loud, thank you,) maybe he found it humorous I could write? But I think the most important part was the “good for you” And I want to say that to you.

Maybe you’ve done some research, hopefully, you found your partner to keep you accountable, but how do you stay organized while on your journey?

I like lists. I’m slightly anal retentive. You should see my cabinets. I make a two lists. One for my personal life and that includes anything I need to get done for me or the Noodges. My second list is my professional one. All my writing stuff goes there. I sit down either Sunday or Monday morning and I focus on only my lists. I write everything I need to do down (Yes, on paper and with a black pen.) I don’t care how long the lists become because once I have down what I need I don’t have to think about the “to-do” list anymore. I focus on completing my tasks and not trying to juggle, in my already crowded mind, what I must be doing.

I cross off each item as it gets done. I love seeing lots of black slashes on the page. I feel accomplished. Even when the page looks messy. As a matter of fact, the more scribbles through the list I have, making the list messier, the happier I am. Goes against the neat cabinet thing, but have I mentioned I’m a writer? We’re all a little off our rockers. If the end of the week comes and I haven’t finished a task, it goes on the list for the next week.

Even though I keep my calendar on my iPad because it syncs with my phone, allowing me to have my calendar with me at all times, I also block out my weeks on a paper calendar. A sample of my calendar page is right below. For this I use pencil. Step one: block out everything I can’t change like what time the school bus comes or kids’ activities. I add doctors’ appointments, hair appointments, social outings. I even include exercising and when I need to make dinner. Whatever white spot I have left on the calendar I know I can do what I want with that time. If you’re trying to live your bliss, that’s what the open time is for. It’s your appointment with yourself to follow your dreams. calendarpage

When I started writing novels seriously, my Noodges were somewhere around the ages of 3 1/2 and 2. You know when my open time was? 5 am! That’s when I wrote. I dragged my butt out of bed and wrote, by hand, until someone woke up which was usually around 6. It took me three years to write that first novel. (It’s unpublished and will remain so for fear of total embarrassment.)

If you’re reaching for your bliss you’ll find the time. I promise you. Write it down. Cross it off. Namaste. 

 

Real Writers Don’t Self-Publish

 

I often get asked, “Who’s your publisher?” And sometimes I answer, “Why does it matter?” This article offers some insight into the traditional vs. self-published world. Enjoy!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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One of the things I love about doing what I do is that I have the ability to connect so closely with you guys and speak on the topics that matter to you. Yesterday, a fellow writer shared an article from The Guardian, For me traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way. She wanted my take on what the author had to say.

All right.

For those who’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, I hope I’ve been really clear that I support all paths of publishing (vanity press doesn’t count).

All forms of publishing hold advantages and disadvantages and, as a business, we are wise to consider what form of publishing is best for our writing, our work, our goals, our personality, etc. But my goal has always been to educate writers so they are making wise decisions based off data, not just personal…

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#Sale

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It’s the last day to get Welcome To Bibliotheca for $.99 for Kindle.

A little about the book:

Thirteen year-old Gabriel Hunter survived Kata-Tartaroo and wants to go home, which is surprising for a Lesser like him, but instead he and his friends, Owen and Corinna, are forced into another terrifying world – Bibliotheca – where the sun never shines, the temperatures are freezing and the snow pummels you. To make matters worse, Gabriel and his friends have been taken captive by Yugs.

The Yugs will send these three back home, but only if they agree to help with their mission: Enter the Building of Books, a magical labyrinth filled with dangerous puzzles, locate the Command Center, and outsmart the Wolf before he outwits them.

In this fast-paced follow-up to Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo, Gabriel, Owen, and Corinna must rely on each other to save themselves and save the Yugs. Along the way, secrets will be revealed, friendships will be renewed, and Gabriel will learn leaders come in all shapes and sizes. It’s a race against time to see if Gabriel and his friends will solve the puzzles and destroy the Wolf or be left in Bibliotheca forever.

$.99 Sale For A Limited Time

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Book Two in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Don’t you get a huge charge when you find something on sale? Buying on sale is like getting away with something. Or is that just me who feels that way?

In honor of the release of my third book, Welcome To Skull MountainI’ve put the Kindle version of book two in the series, Welcome To Bibliothecaon sale for $.99 January 9 – 10th. If you haven’t read the second book yet, now’s a great time. It’s too cold to go outside, but the perfect time to make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book.

A little about the book:

Thirteen year-old Gabriel Hunter survived Kata-Tartaroo and wants to go home, which is surprising for a Lesser like him, but instead he and his friends, Owen and Corinna, are forced into another terrifying world – Bibliotheca – where the sun never shines, the temperatures are freezing and the snow pummels you. To make matters worse, Gabriel and his friends have been taken captive by Yugs.

The Yugs will send these three back home, but only if they agree to help with their mission: Enter the Building of Books, a magical labyrinth filled with dangerous puzzles, locate the Command Center, and outsmart the Wolf before he outwits them.

In this fast-paced follow-up to Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo, Gabriel, Owen, and Corinna must rely on each other to save themselves and save the Yugs. Along the way, secrets will be revealed, friendships will be renewed, and Gabriel will learn leaders come in all shapes and sizes. It’s a race against time to see if Gabriel and his friends will solve the puzzles and destroy the Wolf or be left in Bibliotheca forever.

You can get Welcome To Bibliotheca here. Why not get away with something?

 

 

Give Me One Word

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com
Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

I’m doing this on Facebook today, so I thought I’d do it here too. Give me one word, in the comments section, that describes your day today. Mine: reading.

I’m reading the final pass through of Welcome To Skull Mountain before I send it off to my formatters. From there they will set the story up for the eReader and print versions and then we go live! It’s been a long road (so the word for my writing these past months is ardorous. Love that word) to get to publication with this book. I’m grateful and thrilled to be ready to hand it off to you to read. Look for the book on December 1. (I know, I keep pushing the date out. Should we add frustrating to my list of words?)

So, go ahead, leave me that word that describes your day. Can’t wait to see what you’re up to. It will be fun.

The Town Crier

photo courtesy of morguefile.com
photo courtesy of morguefile.com

I think I’ve become a town crier. Here’s what wikipedia says a town crier is:

The town crier can also be used to make public announcements in the streets. Criers often dress elaborately, by a tradition dating to the 18th century, in a red and gold coat, white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hat. They carry a handbell to attract people’s attention, as they shout the words “here ye, here ye.” 

I’m not making public announcements in the streets, though I could be persuaded, but I do announce the time every morning. I bang on Noodge 1’s bathroom door and shout the time so he will get out of the shower and make it to the bus on time. I don’t understand why he spends so much time in the shower, and honestly, I don’t want to know, but I do want him to make the bus so I march up the steps, bang on the door, and cry out the time.

Part of me finds this whole escapade every morning frustrating because in addition to crying out the time for the shower I must announce the time to wake him up. (The only things missing each morning are the gold coat, white breeches and the handbell. Wait a second, I actually have a handbell! Hmm….I might be going about this all wrong.)

I don’t want to be the town crier, though I might want to wear the clothes. I want Noodge 1 to wake up by himself, take a shower without a reminder to get out and oh, I don’t know, wear his retainer without being told. “Is that too much to ask?” I ask.

But part of me, the mommy part who misses her little bald baby sometimes, takes a deep breath and says “enjoy being the crier. You look good in the hat.” You see, in two very short years, Noodge 1 will be in college and I won’t be able to walk into his room and shake him awake or bang on his bathroom door. I’ll miss him terribly and wake each morning wondering if he got off to class all right. I won’t know how he’s spending his time or if he’s getting his homework done.

Noodge 2 doesn’t need me to wake her up, gets ready on time, and has one foot out the door into adulthood already. She won’t step into her brother’s place for me.

After Noodge 1 goes, how will I spend my mornings?

Folding up the breeches, hanging up the coat, tucking away the tricorne hat.

You can bet I’ll never stop ringing that bell!

By the way, Welcome To Skull Mountain, book three in the Gabriel Hunter series, is due out the end of November. More details coming soon.