Tag Archives: writing routines

Happy Endings and New Beginnings

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been working on getting over the burnout I found myself in. Articles that I read about burnout seemed to be only partially helpful for me, so I’ve spent time trying to listen to my body and my mind and see if I can find some tactics that improve my situation.

And it’s working!Excited smile emoticon

I started by reducing my podcast workload by two-thirds for July and August, going from three episodes a week to one. It’s shocking how much that helped! I also had to force myself to choose not to feel guilty for doing fun things like watching Netflix or playing cards or coloring in one of those swirls-and-flowers designs with my new colored pencils.

There are other things I added to my life – with this new time I had – that I have wanted to do more of and that are kind of good for my career. I’m reading a lot more! Yay!! And because I am submitting Love at the Fluff and Fold to Hallmark Publishing (did you know Hallmark just started a publishing arm?! Learn more here), I have spent dozens of hours watching Hallmark movies and TV shows.

And that has had an unexpected double-benefit – all of that feel-good, happy ending, no swearing or violence or negativity intake has helped me get back to my feel-good happy Kitty personality! 😀 So in addition to soaking up the vibe that Hallmark likes to create – and that I love anyway – I’m feeling better and better about my life.

As I feel myself healing from the burnout, the most wonderful – and, honestly, unexpected – thing has happened. I want to write! I have all kinds of ideas for writing, more than I’ve had in months or more! It would appear that while I’ve been praying for God to guide me wherever He wants me to be, He’s been guiding me right back to where I was. Wow! Yay! Thank you, God!

I started working on a ghost chick lit novel that I dreamed up in traffic a year or more ago. And it’s time to finally get book 2 of the Strays of Loon Lake series written, Love at the Clip and Curl. Plus, I’ve been thinking about my superhero books and looking for ways to get that series back on my production schedule. Not to mention getting my first nonfiction how-to book for writers published soon.

Now I just have to figure out how to have a happy, healthy, productive life with healthy and productive writing routines. No more burnout! But I do have to figure out how to earn a living. So…one step at a time. Right now, I’m just kind of amazed that I finally started blogging again. Haha!

I hope your end of summer (or end of winter in the Southern Hemisphere) has come together with as much of a happy ending as mine. 😀 And I pray the next season – be it spring or autumn or a new phase in your life – has a beautiful new beginning to give you hope and anticipation.

Lots of love and hugs to you!

My Writing Process – Blog Tour

Thanks so much to Jennifer Brassel for inviting me to join the blog tour. 🙂 Jennifer’s blog can be seen here. Jen and I both have stories in the romance anthology, Moonlit Encounters, and her book Secret Reflection is a modern Gothic tale complete with ghosts, romance, and an unsolved crime.

My Writing Process

j0178677What am I working on? Right now, I am finishing up the second book in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series, Superhero in the Making. At the end of book one, Unexpected Superhero, Tori has decided she definitely wants to pursue life as a superhero. But it’s harder than it looks. On top of everything else – family issues, secrets uncovered, and secrets to keep hidden – there’s another woman trying to catch Joe’s attention. Tori is trying to keep in mind that undercover superhero work is a job like any other, and Joe is a professional. But can she trust him?

How does my work differ from others of its genre? The Adventures of Lewis and Clarke is about superheroes living their daily lives as our next door neighbors. It’s about love and marriage, friendships, family, and trying to save the world one person at a time. It’s also about the battle between good and evil, and constantly begs the question – am I up for the task? It’s romantic comedy meets urban fantasy. I really enjoy writing this series and I hope to continue for several books to come.

j0309372Why do I write what I do? I love writing about people in love because I’m in love! 😀 But I think it’s more interesting to see the ups and downs and sideways parts of love, not just the happy moments. Falling in love and getting married is awesome, but nothing prepares you for what comes next. It’s hard! But it’s so worth it. Add that to the fact that I am amazed at how God created us to be strong, good, loving people and yet the world and the dark forces around us keep knocking us down so that we’re weak, selfish, and greedy, and there is a lot of room for stories in there! I’m trying to write about both of these elements in my superhero series.

How does my writing process work? Well, that depends entirely on my deadline! LOL! Right now, I am writing six days a week, 8-12 hours a day to finish this book in time for WonderCon. I’ve taken time away to write at a timeshare several times recently, and over the years, because I can focus on just writing. I usually start with the big idea and boil it down to six or eight main points, then whittle those down to a dozen or so scenes each, then create 3×5 scene cards that I spread out on the floor looking for holes in the story. Once I’ve got the first quarter of the story worked out, I start writing based on the scene cards. Then I look at the second quarter, see if anything needs to be changed because of what I wrote in the first part, tweak the scene cards and write the second quarter. Repeat for the last two quarters of the book. Then I talk to my editors (I have two, Marcy and Sarah) about plot problems, etc. It’s intense and exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade it to do anything else. (Though I’m really looking forward to a vacation soon!)

I hope you found this fun and interesting. Maybe you learned a little something about me that you didn’t know. It was fun giving you a glimpse into my world. 🙂

Moonlit EncountersIf you’d like to read about another of my Aussie friends with a story in Moonlit Encounters, check out Coleen Kwan‘s My Writing Process blog hereColeen Kwan writes both contemporary and steampunk romance. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching Criminal Minds.

And now – back to writing!

More of the Same and Everything Different

What a few weeks it’s been! I finished my book, UNEXPECTED HERO, and sent it off at the last possible moment last week. Then took a couple days off to sleep, watch movies (and refill my creative well), and hang out with John. Then it was back to work trying to come up with a new story for a romantic suspense line.

That one is due Thursday! Eeek!

The weather finally turned beautiful and I was so happy that I could think straight. Then it got hot again and I had to hide in the library or sit in front of the fan (hard to read that way, but not impossible) in order to keep from overheating. Looks like it just might stay cool enough for me to think so I can make this deadline.

Then I have to finish those short story edits, and get one more polish on the superhero story to send off to my editor, all by November 1. Just in time to begin 30 days of craziness as hundreds of thousands of people from around the world attempt to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words of one) in one month. And while I’m doing that, I have to do one last edit on LITTLE MISS LOVESICK so I can have it out in paperback in December.

Double eek!

So even though I have quite a few different projects and deadlines, it looks like in some ways it’s just more of the same from the last few weeks: write as fast as I can and try to hit these timing marks.

I’ll try to make time to tell you interesting things along the way, but if what you get out of it is blubbering rubbish, it might mean my brain is overheating. If you smell smoke, please do not turn the fire extinguisher on me! LOL!

I did think of one fun thing to share with you. Starting Friday this week, I’m going to add a post called “Netflix Picks” each week. Have you ever wondered if there are any good movies on Netflix? I’ll let you know what I’ve found. 🙂 See you then!

Write It Down

I just wrote my post for Routines for Writers and I want to share it here with you. You may or may not consider yourself a writer. Maybe you journal. Maybe you play around with words sometimes. Maybe you prefer to read what others have written.

Don’t let the fact that this post was originally directed at “writers” distract you. If you are going through something amazing or horrible or historic, find a place to write down what is happening, what you are feeling, what changes are taking place and how they affect you.  You can write in a journal or a notebook or in a file on your computer.

Here’s the post…

I’ve been sitting in front of my computer trying to figure out what to say to you. I have little in terms of writing advice except this: write it down. Don’t forget the things that are important. Write them down even if no one else ever reads your journal, even if you never read what you wrote ever again. Don’t forget. The advice I’ve been giving myself lately is – write even if it hurts.

I haven’t been taking the advice, but I think it’s sound. I don’t want to forget any of the time I spent with Mom in her last weeks. I don’t want to ever forget the one-on-one time we had when she told me how proud she was of me, how she knew I’d go far with my writing, how the best writers are older because they had to live their lives first in order to know what was important enough to say, to remember.

I don’t want to forget how we laughed so much while she was in dialysis for three hours that we had to wonder if that’s why her blood pressure cuff broke that day.

I want to remember how she made me laugh when she whispered in my ear on one of the bad days, “He watches me while I sleep.” I was sure I hadn’t heard her correctly, and she had such a hard time breathing that it was hard to understand her. I leaned my ear next to her mouth, and asked her what she said. “Your brother. He watches me while I sleep. It’s disconcerting.” I pulled back to look at her face and realized her wheezing was laughter. She was in the final week of her life, could barely breathe, and she was joking around about how my brother wouldn’t leave her side, even while she slept.

This is the stuff I want to write down in my journal so I’ll have it forever, but it makes me cry. (And it takes so much longer to write things out longhand.) I’m already tired of crying, tired of the mood swings. But from what everyone tells me, this is the beginning of a long road. Great.

Of all the reasons why I’m forcing myself to move forward, even a little bit at a time, with my writing and my writing business, it’s Mom’s last private words to me that push me to work. My mother believes that there is a future that includes people reading my work and laughing or crying or feeling better or having hope. She believes not just in my writing, but in my ability to make a life out of words. I don’t know how long she’s felt that way, but this month is the first time I really heard it.

So, as much as it hurt, and past my deadline this week, I wanted to write that part down for you. You need to believe that it’s important to write or you may let it slip away from you. If it does slip away and you don’t feel a void, that’s okay. Maybe writing was only for a season in your life and you are or will be ready to let it go, to let something better take its place. But for as long as you believe your words and thoughts and feelings are important, write them down.


Reading Routine 3 – Nonfiction

On Wednesdays, I’ll cross-post my blog from Routines for Writers here…

People who love to read can get a little crazy-excited talking to each other about their to-be-read piles – TBRs, online. (Took me a while to figure out what TBR meant.) Most everyone seems to talk about all the fabulous fiction they’re trying to hurry and read. But it occurs to me that we rarely talk about the great time to be had in the midst of our nonfiction TBR pile.

Do you have one?

Most of my nonfiction books have to do with writing or research on something I’m writing. Sometimes it’s just something that looks interesting in general. Just for fun, I thought I’d tell you what is literally sitting next to my bed right now (much to my husband’s chagrin). Some I’ve read more than once, some I skim looking for something in particular, some I’m dying to sit down and read cover to cover some (nonexistent) free weekend. Here they are:

The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
The Nicomachean Ethics – Aristotle
Running with the Giants – John C. Maxwell
How to Write Crime – edited by Marele Day
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed – Jared Diamond
Be Your Own Literary Agent – Martin P. Levin
Writing Popular Fiction – Dean R. Koontz
How to Write Best Selling Fiction – Dean R. Koontz
The Action Hero’s Handbook – David and Joe Borgenicht
Making a Good Writer Great – Linda Seger
Story – Robert McKee
Living with Angels – Theolyn Cortens
On Writing – Stephen King
Get Known Before the Book Deal – Christina Katz

That’s my list. And I hope one day soon to have/take the time to read all of them. What about you? What’s in your nonfiction TBR pile?

Reading Just Might Be My Favorite Routine

On Wednesdays, I’ll cross-post my blog from Routines for Writers here…

We’ve talked about a lot of routines at Routines for Writers in the last few years. Things to routinely do, things to routinely avoid, things that break up your routines. But I don’t know that we’ve talked much about a routine many writers say they have no time for – reading!

I am amazed by the number of times I hear writers say they don’t have time to read. But I also understand the dilemma. There are only so many hours in a day, a week, a year. Many of us complain that we don’t have enough time. Many of us worry we aren’t using our time wisely. How does the value of one hour of reading compare with one hour of writing, or sleeping, or time with family?

Available for your reading pleasure end of September

When taken out of context, it’s difficult to compare these things. But I think most things in life fall into cycles. For me, that cycle is most notably one day. I do certain things at certain times of the day and, when it comes to reading, I can almost always count on having 15-60 minutes at night.

I find I sleep better if my mind relaxes around a story, something I don’t have to think about but can just float on. When I read non-fiction at night, I usually dream about the topic – not great for a good night’s sleep, but I used to solve math problems this way in college!

Like my own target audience, I am a reader who sometimes craves an escape from my everyday life. When I’m really stressed out, I need to read romances. In fact, high stress situations are almost the only thing that make me return to a book more than once. When I’m calm and relaxed and nothing interesting is happening in my life, I crave excitement and danger in my reading life.

But I’m finding those reading cycles incredibly helpful to my writing. Because I read at least a little of so many genres, and because it might take me a year or more (or as little as a month) to cycle through romance, YA, suspense, fantasy, and more, my story brain is constantly being fed new and different ideas. Those all combine like eggs and flour and cocoa make brownies – to help me create some sweet treats of my own!

I love reading and my guess is you do, too. I encourage you to make – and keep – reading one of your writing routines. When you need a break from life, from work, from writer’s block, or you just have a few minutes to relax, reading is the perfect routine.

Broken Routines

On Wednesdays, I’ll cross-post my blog from Routines for Writers here…

The great thing about setting up writing routines – or any kind of routine – is that you can set things on auto-pilot and they just keep going. Until something falls on the tracks and disrupts them.

Since May, my life has been full to bursting with routine busters. The last six weeks of my master’s degree program were a mad rush of homework. The morning after my last class, I flew to the U.S. for 3 1/2 weeks for three different writer’s events (culminating in New York City at the Romance Writers of America’s national conference!). On the way back to Sydney, I picked up my Mom and she visited us for four weeks. A few days into her visit, John and I decided that my career could wait one more month to get re-started after college. I was never going to have this time with my mom again and that was more important than hurrying back to work.

Mom left, I took a couple days to relax and re-focus, then I started back up again. The first few days were okay, but the massive amounts of undone household chores loomed in the background. Still, I plowed on. Then a letter came from the government about a form we needed to file with them. That took the better part of two days over a week to deal with. (Ah, good ole government paperwork!)

Then some food got spilled on the couch cushions. I’d been meaning to take the cover off the couch and wash it for months, but I kept putting it off because I was busy doing other important things. Well, if I’ve got to wash one cushion cover, I might as well wash all of them and be done with it. Alas! The IKEA covers can be washed – and in hot water, no less – but can’t be tumble dried. They can get hot in water but can’t get hot in air? Oka-ay. So they’re drying on a rack now. But wait for it – they have to be hot-ironed before going back on.

Sigh. This was not how my day was supposed to go. This was not how my writing career was supposed to go!

On the other hand, after a productive work morning yesterday, my friend called me and said, “What are you doing?!” She’d been sick and housebound and now she sounded GREAT. And she wanted to get out of the house. And we missed each other. And we were only going to go to the mall to pick up two or three things. But so long as we were there, we should look for a couple things she needed for her trip to France. (I know, right?! Paris!) And since I was with her, I could play with her toddler while she tried on clothes.

And hey, since it’s raining, why don’t we go pick up our husbands from work (they work together on Happy Feet 2) so they don’t have to walk in the rain. And since it was raining, the traffic was a bear, so we still didn’t get home till after 7pm. Then there was no couch to sit on because the cushion covers were still air-drying. So my romantic husband took all our other pillows from the house and piled them up on the floor and we had a little chocolate picnic while we watched TV. At that point, writing routines were totally not on my radar! (Hey, since I write a lot of romance, I consider this research time. 😉 I totally forgot about you guys and this blog! LOL!)

So where does that leave me?

At the beginning of a new day. I think God created days and nights so we could always take a break and start again. I really do. So today is a new day. I’m writing this at the very beginning of a new day in Sydney, even though it’s the middle of the day in the States. (It’s tomorrow here! Isn’t that cool?!) When I’m done writing this, I’m going to hit restart on my old daily routine I used to have, my First Five (exercise and shower, make the bed, put away last night’s cleaned dishes, load the washing machine, read my Bible).

Then I’m going to work for two hours so that I’ll continue my commitment to put my career first. But then I’m going to spend the rest of the day getting all that “stuff” done that is making me crazy and taking part of my attention away from my work. (You know what I mean, you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, but you’re thinking about everything else that needs to be done.) I’ll iron those couch cushion covers and remake the couch. I’ll vacuum up the feathers that came out of the cushions, and do the rest of the apartment since I’m at it. I’ll clean up and put away all the half-done, half-put away stuff that’s been hanging around from as far back as June.

And then I’m determined to sit down and create a First Five for writing. I’ve been talking about it for eight months. I just haven’t figured out what the first five parts of my writing routine are yet. Possibly because I haven’t been in a place where I can really have a career writing routine yet. But that day is TODAY! LOL!

So what about you? Do you have certain things you do to get into your writing headspace? Are you like me, trying to create a routine but not figuring it out yet?

Note: Tomorrow I’ll post my first review of an ebook on how to make and publish ebooks. I’m going to self-publish my novel Little Miss Lovesick next month  and I want to share what I’m learning with my friends. So if you’re interested in that subject, stop on by!