Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Crazy Organizational Fiend in Me

June is just about over…just one more day and then we’re moving on into July, where I’ll be busy with a new writing project along with the time I’ll need to continue with revisions on the third novel in my mystery series and also to complete my Series Bible to help me stay on task when I begin the fourth book in the series this winter.

There’s something about preparing for a new project that makes me want to remove the clutter around me.  If I don’t, it will constantly distract me and remind me of the other stuff I need to take care of when I’m not writing.  It’s a distraction I can do without so for the past few weeks, I’ve been very focused on organizing the clutter.

Or hiding it, whatever works best in the moment.

Overall, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made the past few weeks…

I updated my scrapbook so that I don’t have to look at the pile of memorabilia any longer, and I’ll try to keep up with it as new memorabilia needs to be added to the book;

I organized all my scrapbook material so that those items now have a proper home and are no longer piled on my bedroom floor;

I’ve done my best to work around the rainy weather we’ve been having lately so that my gardens are looking nice and only need a little TLC every couple of days to keep the weeds away;

I tracked down items in various rooms that are taking up space but that don’t really have a purpose or that I’m tired of looking at and I’ve put them away to either donate or make use of in some other way;

I finally went through the large stack of school paperwork my son dumped on my desk and I found some good stuff to add to his high school portfolio; and

I even cleaned out the “school drawer” – this is a large drawer in my roll top desk that was completely overflowing with pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, glue, erasers and rulers.  You know, all those school items you tend to buy every year while forgetting how many you had purchased and was still unused from the year before.  I’m now fairly certain we won’t need many, if any, supplies for this next year.

But the biggest task I took on to get organized was my office…I had to do something that I’ve been putting off for quite awhile now.  My writing books and notebooks and other material has been sharing space with all my investigative books and notebooks and other material and I finally realized, I need to let the writing side of my life take over where my office is concerned.  I’ll still use some of the investigative books and other material but a lot of it is outdated or can be stored away or even thrown away altogether.  To be honest, it was a difficult task since I’m shedding what has been an important part of my life for so long.  But as I continue to work on my books, I need to have in my writing space what will keep me focused and inspired. 

Now that I’ve just about organized most of the clutter around me, there is nothing to distract me from the upcoming writing project I’ll tackle during the month of July at Camp NaNo (more on that later), while I also finish with revisions on Ties that Bind.   

Okay, I know there will still be a distraction or two (July 4th is coming up!), but at least it’s a start!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

When will there ever be enough time in the day?

I took part in a speaking/book event recently at a local retirement center and, as always, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I had such a good time that by the time my time was up, I felt like I’d only been speaking to the guests for no more than a half hour when it had been closer to an hour and a half.  Speaking engagements still make me nervous but I’m glad to say the fun I have during these types of events has begun to overshadow the fear of speaking in public.  My high school speech teacher would be so proud, even if it has taken a few decades to finally reduce my fear of public speaking.

Anyway, during the event one of the guests asked me how I find the time to write if I also have a day job.

That’s certainly a good question.

Since the day job takes up SO many hours of my week, I could easily find the time to write if I let the laundry pile up, refused to clean and vacuum, never bothered to garden, ignored my kids completely and became a complete recluse in my office at home when I wasn’t in my office at my day job.

But I’m no Emily Dickinson…

And while I do hope to call writing my full-time career some day, I can’t allow the regular side of life to linger and wait for me until I decide I’ve finally reached my goals as a writer.

So, the laundry will get the attention it deserves, because I certainly can’t afford to buy new clothes just to avoid cleaning the dirty ones;

The house will continue to receive routine cleanings while at the same time, be well-lived in.  For anyone who doesn’t like kids or dogs, they shouldn’t expect an immaculate home because I’ll never have time for that;

As long as I have the space available to me, gardening will be my hobby of choice during the summer because it’s one of those physical tasks that lets my mind wander and as a writer, that’s a wonderful thing to make time for; and

I’ll always make time for my kids, and my husband, period.  No explanation needed.  It’s just the way it will always be.

So with the job and all the other stuff life brings, where do I find the time to write?  Some days, there really aren’t enough hours in the day but I find them when I can and so far, as I am now completing my third novel in three years, I think I’m doing pretty well at finding the extra time to write.  There will come a day when I’ll have more time to write but we work with what we have and for now, I’m good with that.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Can you describe your Dad using just 3 words?

Today is a special day for the special men in our lives; whether it’s your real dad, a step-dad, or maybe a grandfather or uncle who raised you, this is the day when we celebrate our dads.

What makes a great dad?

A dad’s job is never-ending but here are just a few characteristics of great dads:

He listens when you need advice or just a shoulder to cry on;

He shares his wisdom when you need it, even if you don’t want it at the time;

He never hesitates to show how proud he is of you and your accomplishments;

He can make you smile even as you shed the last of your tears;

He offers relief when you’re worried; and

He comes to your aid when things go wrong.

A dad is someone who will be there for you, always, and especially when you’re in need, for no other reason than because you need him.  And, of course, because he loves you unconditionally.

There are many words we can use to describe our dads.  A great dad is, among so many other things:

D – Devoted
A – Affectionate
D – Dependable

What three words would you use to describe your dad? 

However you would describe your dad, I hope you get to enjoy this day with him in order to express what he means to you and, if you are a dad yourself, I hope your day is also spent with your own children as they express what you mean to them. 

Happy Father’s Day!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Series Bible…’bout time I made one

Book three in the Jorja Matthews’ mystery series is currently in the middle of revisions and will soon be in the hands of an editor to assist me with making necessary editorial changes before I finally complete the final draft of Ties That Bind.   I’m going to be working with someone new for editing during this book and I’m very excited about this new business relationship.  It’s going to be some months before the necessary edits and revisions are complete but while that takes place, I’ve decided that as I work on revisions, I also need to finally put together a Series Bible.

What’s a Series Bible?

It’s a very useful organizational technique crucial to staying organized while writing a series.  The series information is contained in one handy binder (before it becomes two or three or more) that the author can thumb through when needed to quickly confirm details about the characters, the setting, arc or plot points, information obtained from research, a timeline for each individual book’s story and for the series as a whole, and whatever else the author feels will be helpful to stay on task with the series.

I’ve got all that information for my series but it’s contained in multiple notebooks and folders and it’s not always easy to find what I need at a moment’s notice while I’m in the middle of writing the next book in the series.  I read about creating a Series Bible sometime while I was writing Best Kept Secrets but I was just too busy writing to worry about putting all the information into an organized binder.  And at the time, I only had the information from No Mother of Mine to thumb through and it didn’t seem all that cluttered.  I could have made an attempt to create the binder while I was revising Best Kept Secrets, but I just didn’t seem to have the extra time.  Now, three books into the series, I’ve accumulated quite a lot of notes, printouts, photos and research information so that my folders are becoming very disorganized.

I love being organized and it’s beyond me how I’ve written three books without becoming annoyed by the fact that the bulk of my story information is in such a disorganized fashion.  Well, it’s finally beginning to annoy me.  Now that I’m in the middle of revising Ties That Bind, I’ve decided that I am going to make the time to finally complete my Series Bible.  I feel better knowing that I can swiftly move into the fourth book in the series without faltering when specific details are not quite within the grasp of my memory.

It’ll be a time-consuming project but it’ll be a fun project and it will help me as I continue to write the series, which is the most important reason for keeping a Series Bible.  Since I really have no idea when this series is going to end, if it ever does, I know it’s about time I get serious about organizing all my notes before it becomes a monster of a project!

Now it’s time to get moving.  The sun is finally out and I have a book to work on so I’m going to work on my book and Series Bible while I soak up some Vitamin D.

Enjoy your day!   

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Getting geared up for summer!

It’s the beginning of June already and the way our weather’s been lately, it feels like summer’s coming in with a bang.  I enjoyed myself this weekend, taking a break from the computer and spending most of Saturday and Sunday working outside in my gardens to finish with the last plantings, lots of weeding, rose feedings, overdue watering and garden decorating.  It’s the time of year I really look forward to…when the gardens and lawn look inviting and we can finally move all our lawn furniture outside. 

I took a break from the computer, not only to get the necessary work done in my gardens, but also because I’m finally editing the third book in my mystery series (yeah!) and I felt I needed to take a break before I begin to review the manuscript.  I’m further behind with this draft than I planned to be but because November didn’t pan out completely as far as writing the series goes and December was mainly focused on 1313 Psyco Path, I wasn’t able to really get into the third book until January.  Even so, considering the first and second books each took four months to write, I guess I’m doing okay.

June will keep me busy as I edit my book and work on necessary revisions before I can make it available for the next phase of edits with a professional editor.  Now that my gardens are looking and smelling so nice (the herbs…they are wonderful for the senses) and my patio table and umbrella offer an inviting retreat nearby, my hope is that the weather stays fairly nice most of the month so I can edit my book outside when I’m home.  The trick for me is knowing when to read and when to weed and when I’ve done enough of one before I get back to the other. 

I don’t really plan on participating in too many book events this summer but I am scheduled to take part in another book event this month.  It’s a meet and greet book signing event scheduled for next week at a local senior center and I’m really looking forward to it.  I’ve also decided to sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo in July so that I can begin working on my next project.  It’s like what I took part in for NaNoWriMo in November 2012 and 2013 but on a less rigorous scale.  You can write as few as 10,000 words or as many as 999,999.  My word count goal is at least 25,000 so that I can work on another short story I’d like to have published by this November.  I’m really looking forward to beginning a new project.

So, let me think about this more clearly…I’m taking part in only two events that I know of this summer but just those two events will monopolize 32 days of the summer? 

Well, that’s okay.  I’m ready for anything right now.  I’m ready to dig deep into editing.  I’m ready for a fun event with the senior citizens.  I’m ready for a month of participating with other writers in a virtual creative retreat where the community spirit and encouragement will keep me excited about my next project.   
And I’m ready for summer. 

How about you?