Monday, April 14, 2014

Doing the Work

Having trouble sitting down and writing?

Here's a little trick.

Make yourself accountable to someone.

Last week, I had three separate writing sessions with a few of my friends. We made plans to meet online at 8 p.m. and write for an hour. Just knowing that I had to show up and write because people were counting on me to be there made all the difference in the world.

In other words, I used one of my strongest traits - responsibility - to my advantage. If I would have begged off the writing date, I would have felt guilty and also felt like I let down my friends. Since I had no desire to feel lousy, I showed up.

And I did the work.

Underwood Typewriter ©2011 Robert Moran


Sometimes, it really is that easy.

Will this work all the time? Probably not. But at this stage in the game, when my writing muse demands lots of chocolate and naps and time spent doing a whole lot of nothing, I've got to crack the whip. This strategy is just the thing I need to get those words down.

How do you "do the work" when your muse is being lazy?




Tuesday, April 08, 2014

It's Getting Real

My publicist (how cool is it that I can say "my publicist"?) emailed me today and asked if I'd be available for a book signing in May.

That is rather surreal to think about.

Yet it's something I must think about, now that my book's release date is just around the corner. It's already for sale for the Nook on Barnes and Noble.com and the paperback will be released April 15.

Ready or not, here it comes.

I'm ready. At least, I think I'm ready. I don't know that you're ever really "ready" for something like this. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep living one day at a time.

I haven't really thought about reviews yet - especially the bad ones. I'm sure there will be some. Maybe I should decide here and now not to read them. But I know I'll read them anyway. I'm too curious not to.

My biggest fear? That my book will be disappointing, that it won't live up to expectations.

I blogged about this phenomena earlier and for the most part, those feelings of angst have receded, but they're about to come roaring back to the forefront again when people actually have the book in hand and, y'know, read it. This book isn't fiction - it's fact. And getting those facts wrong scares me to death.

In the end, I'm only human, so I will just give it to God and let His shoulders bear the burden.

I do have to admit, though, that I get a big, goofy grin on my face when I think of holding my book in my hands. My author copies are scheduled to arrive this week. You can be sure I'll be taking pics and documenting that moment!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring!

I'm so excited.

Today is the first day of spring!

Flowers and green grass and sunny days...BLISS!

Happy Spring!


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Quiet

I could tell you that the reason this blog has been quiet is that I don't have much to say, but that is rarely true. I am a person with lots to say about lots of things. (My husband knows this well).

However, I think this nasty, incredibly harsh winter has taken its toll on a lot of people. Those who have been hit with snowstorm after snowstorm and temperatures below freezing on a continuous basis know what I'm talking about.

Bottom line: I'm tired of being cold. And I know I'm not alone. People are weary of the weather, and I'm no exception. It's now affecting my mood. I'm ready for spring!

But that's not the only reason the blog has been quiet.

The other reason is that I'm searching for the quiet I used to have two or three years ago, before my husband got cable t.v. and a giant flat-screen t.v. hooked up to a powerfully loud Bose speaker. Way back when, I blogged about how quiet my life had become. I didn't watch t.v., but only had a DVD player. My house was blissfully serene. If I wanted to watch a television show, I found it on my computer and watched it at my leisure. But the t.v. certainly wasn't on 24/7.

Since my husband is a garage/car/get your hands dirty type of guy, this winter has driven him bonkers. He wants to be out in his garage working and tinkering, and he can't. (Our garage isn't heated). So he ends up spending most of his time downstairs watching t.v. And if I want to spend time with him, I end up watching t.v., too.

Which means I've become addicted to t.v. shows, the latest being Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch (which has led to an entirely new obsession with the British actor). Of course, watching t.v. or movies isn't all bad. In fact, after a very challenging day at work, I don't mind sitting in front of the t.v. for a few hours to relax. Friday nights are movie night for our family, complete with pizza and snacks, and I love being able to enjoy a movie without worrying about getting up for work in the morning.

But it's not just the noise, literally and figuratively, from the television that has started to consume me. Add the constant noise of social media to the mix - keeping up with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, my blog, and email - and my head is about ready to explode.

It almost happened last night.

Since my daughter was sick yesterday, I worked from home, which means I sat in front of the computer all day, only on my living room couch instead of my desk. Spending that much time on the computer finally got to me and, in a dramatic departure from my normal routine, I decided to go exercise. My body simply couldn't take sitting in front of a screen anymore. It needed to move.

Later that night, I shut off my laptop and went into my bedroom. No radio playing. No t.v.  Just silence. I picked up the book I'm reading, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, and determined to focus on the story and nothing else. No getting distracted by any type of social media notification.

It was heavenly.

And I realized that my brain had become consumed with noise, and it needs to stop.

I have to believe I am not the only one who feels like this. My recent social media fast (over one weekend) showed me that I wasn't alone in feeling overwhelmed by today's technology.

So, what's the solution? I'm not sure. But I think I have to be pro-active in finding one.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's Here!

I'm so excited to show you the cover of my upcoming book on the history of POW camps in Nebraska during World War II.

Here it is!


To say I'm excited is an understatement. The graphic designer at The History Press did an absolutely incredible job. They nailed it.

We're looking at a release date of mid-April.

So excited!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Social Media Cleanse

Last Thursday, I'd had it with social media. I just wanted to escape, to not be constantly "in touch" with everyone. To be honest, I feel addicted to checking Twitter and Facebook statuses, and that scares me.

Plus, I have a novel to write, and social media and mindless Internet surfing is a huge time suck.

If I want to be serious about this writing career, that means I have to take a good, hard look at how I spend my time.

So on Friday, I announced that I was taking a social media break for the weekend.

When Saturday morning dawned, I resisted the impulse to check Facebook and Twitter. It wasn't easy. I use both networks to communicate with a lot of different people - my family, co-workers, fellow World War II historians, and other writers. But I also knew that if they needed to get in touch with me and it was urgent, they either had my phone number or email address.

All day yesterday, I worked on my novel. During the times when it was difficult, I wanted to click onto Facebook or Twitter, but I refused to allow myself to slip. This was novel time, not social media time. Isn't my creative process worth more than endless hours spent on social media? Absolutely.

Today was easier. Yes, I still wanted to check my Facebook and Twitter, but I didn't. Instead, I opened the Word document of my novel and got back to work.

Of course, I didn't just write this weekend. I spent time with my husband and my daughter, too. I also took a nap!

It's 6:20 on Sunday evening, and here's what I've learned:

1) I rely on Facebook and Twitter to stay current on what's happening in the world and with family and friends.

2) At first, I felt like I was letting people down by not being "available", but then I realized I was not beholden to anyone but myself. It's okay not to be available 24/7. It's okay to not know what everyone else is doing via FB or Twitter. There's a certain liberation about it.


3) I felt disconnected at first, like I was missing out. We've become so conditioned now to know everything that's going on all the time that not being plugged into our social media network is almost like falling off the grid. And frankly, that's a little sad, isn't it? But it's also the reality of our world. This isn't the days of the telegraph or the Pony Express. We're far, far from it.

4) Forbidding myself from social media freed me up to focus on my fiction. Before, when I hit a particular rough spot, I would click on my FB or Twitter and browse for awhile. Then I'd go back to my story. I'd do this several times in an hour. I realized that this is an avoidance issue. I'm avoiding working on something difficult in my story by clicking on FB or Twitter. Instead, it's better to face it and deal with it. With no social media to fall back on, I became much more focused on my novel.

5) I'm on the computer all day at work. Social media is a small part of my job, too, so I can't abandon it during the week days. BUT, I can abandon it on the weekends and survive.

My fiction is too important for me to relegate it to the sidelines like I've been doing. I've put social media before my first love - writing fiction. No more! I hope to make my weekends as free of social media as possible because my writing is worth it.

Have you ever taken
a break from social media?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Easing Back In

With the nonfiction book safely in my editor's hands, it's time to get back to the novel. I thought I could jump right back in, but it turns out it's been more of a slow process. I think it's because my brain is fried.

This month has been full of a lot of upheavals for our family, and the stress has taken a toll. In the midst of all of that, I was trying to finish a book. Now that it's done, my brain is yelling at me to just take a break. Play. Read. Watch movies. Be lazy.

Of course, the Should Committee is out in full force.

"You should be writing right now."

"You should quit being lazy and get to work."

"You should turn off the t.v. and do something productive."

I'm telling the Should Committee to take a hike.

The older I get, the more attune I become to what my body (and my brain) is trying to tell me.

And right now, it's telling me to relax.  Refuel. Re-energize.

So that's what I'm doing.

The excitement is slowly returning, and I can't wait until it's time to become immersed again in my fiction.

The moment will come. I will be patient, and I will wait.

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's Done

It's done.

The project that started over a year ago has finally been sent to my editor.

Yes, I'm breathing a huge sigh of relief.

I did it.

*fist pump*

Now it's time to clean my office. Files and books and pens and paper are scattered everywhere. And the cat has claimed a permanent spot on my reading chair!

I can't wait to get back to my novel.

And this saying below is oh-so appropriate. I went through a lot of ups and downs this past year (and this past month has been a doozy!), but I just kept on because I knew God was working with me the whole time.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

SNAFUs (The Clean Kind)

There are a lot of SNAFUs when you're writing a book.

(SNAFU is military jargon. The clean version is, 'Situation Normal All Fouled Up.' I'll let you fill in the blanks on what the censored version is.)

I sent in the images to my editor. She sent back a list of images that had problems.

I panicked, got frustrated, and frantically emailed a friend for help. Said friend told me to calm down, that we'd figure it out.

Photos were finished today, sent to editor, and whew, thank goodness, they are okay.

Then comes another SNAFU.

Did a certain POW branch camp (one that was under the jurisdiction of the main POW camp) exist in this town or not?

One record says yes, another says no. The town is so miniscule that finding someone knowledgeable about said camp is like finding a cat who doesn't like its head scratched.

And then there's the indexing, which I haven't even started yet. Here's hoping there won't be any SNAFUs with this one, but I wouldn't be surprised if a few crop up.

Writing a book is like living your life, though. SNAFUs come up all the time. It's how you deal with them, how you react, how you move forward and work through them that matters, not the SNAFUs themselves.

Onward.