Winners, Writing, etc…

I am so behind on everything it’s almost comical. I have several plates spinning in the air right now and it’s laughable at how I’m trying to keep them all from crashing down around me.

Last week, DH was home for most of it. It’s hard to work sometimes with him around. Not that he bothers me or interrupts really. I can’t tell you why it is hard for me to write when he’s home, but it is. I am very conscious that he’s around. I am very aware that because of his diabetes that he needs to eat a different times and eat differently than I do or my son does. Maybe that’s all it is… I’m very aware and being that way, is a distraction unto itself. It’s a distraction to my concentration and to the general flow of my everyday life.

However, don’t get me wrong. We get along fabulously. We have very interesting discussions and debates on politics (we’re on opposite ends of it), sports (we always talk sports), religion (again, opposite sides, but not as far apart as we used to be), issues in our respective families, home improvements, my desire for a Dremel even though I don’t really have a use for it yet, and my NEED for a new cordless drill (I love power tools)… We don’t lack for conversation. Ever.

It’s just…distracting. And in being so, I’ve gotten behind on several things. Writing being one. Picking a winner from the St. Patrick’s Day Blog Hop. I will be doing that right now, so hold on…

And the winner is… Kym! I will be in touch Kym!

Now, as for writing and being behind there. I value and appreciate my readers. The new ones and especially the ones who have been with me from the beginning. The writing world is ever changing. I spent all of 2009 hunkered down at my computer writing. All the damn time. Writing. Early mornings. Late nights. I was stressed. Most of the time ignoring my family. Feeling guilty when I wasn’t writing. Feeling even more guilty when I was. It sucked.

I don’t want my kids to say ‘yeah, mom loved us, but she was always working’. That’s just not gonna fly for me. That’s not why I became a mom. It took me all of last year to recover from that and from a loss that sent me into a tailspin. I am writing. I am writing slower in some cases, in others, words just flow. I am spending more down time with my family and doing things I enjoy because life is short, I’m not getting any younger, and neither are my kids. I want them to have good memories of us doing things as a family. I don’t want to buy their happiness or their complacency. It’s why taking my son to NASCAR races and doing things like concerts and spending hours dying my daughter’s hair and spending an entire night watching movies with her are so important to me.

I’ve noticed when I do this, I lose followers on Twitter, people on Facebook stop talking about me, emails dwindle… And while that bothers me and I feel guilty, if I somehow lost my kids along the way, that would make everything else meaningless. Some people are better at balancing all of it than I am. I do my best and no one can ask more. So, I am writing. Not as fast as some would like and not as fast as the ever changing world of publishing needs. There’s always another author to take my place, to fill in the gaps. Hopefully I’ll still have readers in the end…grins.

Today, it’s off to the post office, sending some emails, writing, making s’mores granola bars for my son, and taking my son to baseball practice, making dinner (slow cooker here I come), exercise, a couple loads of laundry, and texting with my sister, brother, and mom.

Have a great Tuesday, y’all!

~lissa

Author Friday – A Little Thing We’re Not Supposed To Talk About…

Actually, there are a lot of things we’re not supposed to talk about. Bad reviews. Negativity. Failure. Money. Sales. Contracts. Publishers. Each other.

We also live in a society that believes in not speaking the truth to spare everyone’s feelings, being politically correct whether it’s right or not whether we agree or not, and where we don’t have to accept personal responsibility, especially for stupidity. We like to sue and we like to lay blame. We also teach our kids that there isn’t a winner or a loser because they’re all winners. Well, no they aren’t. There’s a winning team and a losing team. Just look at the scoreboard.

So what does this have to do with writing? Everything. Because most people will tell you that the most valuable lessons they’ve learned are from either losing, failing at something, hearing the bad along with the good, or being broken and having to pick themselves back up. I can’t disagree. If all you hear is praise, how do you handle the rejection when it comes, the loss when it happens, because I’m sorry, life isn’t all roses and eventually you’re going to experience some form of disappointment. It doesn’t always do it gently either. Most of the time, it kicks you in the ass or pulls a Gibbs and smacks you upside the head…

We all have expectations in this business, whether the writer, the editor, the publisher, the blogger, the reviewer, or the reader. And you know what? No one person can please all those different people. The pressure is daunting. We all make mistakes. We all have our own opinions. We all have our ideals and thoughts of how things should go, but they don’t often go the way we dreamed.

So, how does an author pick themselves up and dust themselves off when readers are vocal about disappointment, when reviewers say they like this book a little less than the last one, when editors send out that rejection, when publishers give you more WTF moments than you know what to do with, when everyone around you is succeeding and you seem to be floundering, or when you’re having a bad day because your characters won’t fucking get to the point and do what you want them to do?

I don’t know. I don’t know how others do it. The all-knowing ‘They’ say you’re supposed to have or develop a thick skin but if we shrug everything off, what have we learned? Nothing. At least I haven’t. And if there’s something I love, whether it’s painful or not, I love to learn. I can learn from my missteps and those unkind, hurtful words. I can learn from being heartbroken and cast aside. I can learn from tears. And I can change. Is it a change to please others? No. It’s a change to a different way of thought, a little more conscious effort. I can learn to get out of my own way. And that’s not a bad thing. Growth and change and learning. Sure, I’d like praise all the time, but I’m not going to get it. I’ve learned that lesson. But I keep trying. I keep trying and doing something different and learning and growing as an author. I may lose people along the way, but I may gain others. And those I lose, are probably not who I was aiming for in the first place. (this is something I am sort of learning in the book I’m currently reading ‘The Power of Unpopular‘)

Emotions are messy. Life is messy. I don’t write fluff and I don’t want to. I write wishy-washy characters because damn, that’s life and at some point we’re all going to be scared to take that chance. I write odd and aloof characters because damn, they exist. I have several friends who are odd and aloof and I adore them for it. I don’t want to write easy. I want to write what’s pulled from my gut and what’s painful. There will be people who don’t want to read that. That’s fine. It’s part of doing what we do. We can’t please everyone. It’s how we handle it that tells our strength, or so a friend of mine told me during a recent conversation about loss.(Thank you, Fallon.)

So maybe a thick, let it roll off the back skin works for most. It doesn’t work for me. It pisses me off, it hurts, it makes me growl and grump, and it makes me really think about what I’ve done and if I’d change it knowing what I know after… If I say no, I wouldn’t change it, then I know I’ve done something right, even if others don’t agree with me.

I read craft books. I read self-help books. I read happy books and books that come from people’s deepest, darkest souls. I learn and I grow and I change. I fix what I consider mistakes and I keep going on. I read blogs about how other authors deal with these same issues. I sometimes pour over them for hours. And in the end, we all have the same opinion. We’re all different and we’re all entitled to how we think, how we feel, how we deal… Will it make us better or make us worse?

At the same time, I’m also a reader. There are authors who write the same book day in and day out and only change the names of the characters, but are given the highest praise time and again. As a reader, that bores me and I have stopped reading some of my favorite authors because of that. Then, I have loved authors who left the initial genre they started in and I didn’t like the change in either voice or genre and stopped reading them (the new stuff at least. I always give it a try, though). Authors have had medical conditions which changed them and their writing was no longer the same and it saddened me that I could no longer read the books I loved from them because they weren’t going to be writing them anymore. It happens. Not only in writing but in acting. A favorite actor will no longer do drama or comedy or act at all. It happens in music and a favorite musician will go more country or more rock or go inspirational or just stop altogether.  Change happens and it’s not always what we as readers or watchers or listeners want.

I want books that make me feel something other than ‘that was a good book, but nothing I haven’t already read from her or him or them’.

Some things force change, force learning, force growth, and force us out of our comfort zones. Maybe most don’t think about this. Maybe most don’t want to because it’s sticky and messy…and not in the fun way. I do and eventually, I think it’ll make me a better writer. It’s part of how I do what I do…

~lissa

Author Friday – Lissa Matthews

Today starts the new blog series I told y’all about a while ago. Authors talking about how they do what they do. We’re calling it Author Friday and for the first few Fridays, you’ll be stuck with me while Brandy and I fill up the calendar with more authors.

As for how I do what I do?

My answer? Structure. That’s what I’ve learned about myself. I started this year off trying new techniques of organization between writing, the business work of writing, and family life. These different techniques have each gone through revision after revision after revision. I start off thinking one way and then everything goes to Hell in a handbasket when life interrupts and I get off course and off track and end up froding. (froding = off the beaten path or when the Garmin can’t find the road you know you’re on).

My current plan is writing Monday thru Friday and handling business on Saturday and  Sunday. Business meaning revisions, edits, blog posts, website updates, contacting winners from contests, catching up on emails that require something more than just a yes or no response. I also use this time to try and connect with Brandy to plan out the work I need from her throughout the next week and how things went the week before.

This way of doing things seems to be working better for me than anything else I’ve tried. It’s easy for me to get caught up in all that needs to be done and not getting to any of it because I don’t know where to start. I’m a big believer in routine. I need it. I crave it. I need to know what is expected of me and when. I need to know what’s going on and when so I can plan around it. But, just because I need and crave it, doesn’t mean I get it. Life isn’t structured like that on a normal basis, no matter how hard I try. I am finding though that I need to try harder.

If I get done with writing by four, I can exercise and get dinner going, depending on the menu item for the night otherwise, dinner is usually started in the slow cooker. Yeah, I’ve been doing that lately, too. Menus. It helps, not only with grocery shopping but with that whole structure thing. Cookbooks, magazines, food blogs. All for different dinner ideas and they help me keep on course with this whole not eating out challenge we do in our house from time to time.

Family life takes place after dinner. Or during dinner. We’ll talk, watch a show or a movie. My son is about to start baseball for the spring and my husband will be playing softball so life will need to once again be adjusted for those things, but…they also mean I need to be done with work beforehand because I’ve found that after about 8pm at night, I’m done for and don’t want to work anymore. I get up at 6am and am going from the time I get out of bed to the time I go back to bed. I’m exhausted. We all have our different thresholds for how much we can take and I’m trying to make sure I don’t stress mine too much. I’m not getting any younger and I know I need to take better care of myself if I hope to keep going for years to come.

As for writing, many of you have heard me say it time and again, but for me it’s writing sprints or timed writing, however you want to put it. I set the timer for 20 minutes and I write, usually between 2500 and 3000 words a day. If I don’t use a timer, I flounder and I flit and I don’t get half of what I need written done. I can and have written more, like 6000-8000 a day, but those are times where afterward, I’m brain dead. I read about authors who write 10000 words a day everyday, but then end up cutting almost half of what they’ve written. I don’t understand that. I rarely ever cut more than a few hundred words and am usually adding more to what’s been written. But, that works for them. And see, that’s the whole idea behind the Author Friday series. We all work differently. We all work at a different pace. We all write books of varying length and content. What works for one isn’t going to work for someone else, but we might be able to learn something and it’s always fun to see how others do what we do or how they do what we love.

I hope you as readers enjoy the series and I hope authors will enjoy it as well. If you have an author you’d like to learn about regarding their process, leave a comment and I’ll contact them to see if they’d like to participate. It can’t hurt to ask…

For now, have a great weekend.

~lissa

Debra Moore – The Business of Writing

Hey y’all… I received a letter from a dear friend of mine, Debra Moore. I’ve known her online for a few years now. She was one of the first people I met when I started out at Cobblestone Press. We’ve spent some Saturdays, early in the morning, writing and just chatting and she’s always been such a wonderful and level-headed writer/friend, so when she sent this to to me, I wanted to be sure and share it with any of my blog followers who may also be authors or aspiring authors…

Hey, girl! Guess what I’ve been up to?

I had several conversations with a group of writers a while back about finances. We all agreed there are no books out there geared to what we, as writers, need to know about business. They suggested that I write that book, so I took their advice to heart. I wrote the book that needs to exist! My new book, The Business of Writing, went live on Amazon last week! Unlike other finance and business books out there, this one is specifically for writers and the challenges we face.

I’ve been doing bookkeeping and creative writing for over twenty-five years, and I was finally able to combine the numbers side and creative side of my brain to produce a book every writer will find useful.

My book will show how to save time and money all year long as well as during tax season. This way, writers can focus on writing instead of stressing over the financial side of the business.

In the book, I’ve included information on managing the daily bill and receipt piles with a tool called the Money Journal. There are tips and tricks on tracking all financial matters along the way quickly and easily—and in a way that will save them time and money at tax time. The book covers how the structure of our businesses is so important and can make a huge difference come tax time. Also, the book has an exhaustive list of expenses specific to writers—some that writers are probably already tracking, and many they may not be.

There is a lot more information in the book, and I included loads of links to forms I designed, spreadsheets writers would find helpful, and IRS publications every writer should know about.

I know you get financial questions all the time. Here’s the link to the Amazon page. There’s more information about everything the book contains there. I priced it economically so every writer could get one. http://www.amazon.com/The-Business-of-Writing-ebook/dp/B007A2741Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329595829&sr=8-1

Debra Moore

www.moorebookkeeping.com

Moore Bookkeeping—because you went into business to make money, not count it.

I highly recommend getting a copy of Deb’s book. I know for myself, the more information I have, the better and I know I always have financial questions with regards to this business.

Have a great Wednesday!

~lissa

New Blog Series

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting the first of two new blog series’ Brandy and I have been working on. I have Ms. Kendra working on graphics for them and I don’t know if she’ll have the one done for tomorrow, but she’ll get it to me as soon as she does.

In the kitchen with… is the first series that we’re starting. If you’ve read my books, you know I have a lot of cooking going on. And I don’t just mean the sex kind 😉 ! There’s always someone who cooks. Most of the time it’s the hot, sexy men, but the hot, sexy women do, too. I’ll be posting recipes, kitchen equipment and appliances that I love/can’t live without, book covers, blurbs, etc… in these posts. I’ll be starting with Vinter.

Authors talk writing… is the second series we’re working on. It’s still in the planning stages and we hope to have it ready to go with some authors in March. This is going to be about how writers do what they do… How they write these amazing books. As a reader and a writer, I find this to be a fascinating thing and I’m hoping other readers and writers will as well.

Hope you’re all having a great week.

~lissa