Summer thus far…

one_does_not_simply_have_time_for_that-212891

The person who made the above meme is a genius. A friggen genius. Because in that one little sentence, it sums up my last month.

My kids got out of school in early June. Yay me, right?

No. Even though the last two weeks were a whirlwind of things to go to, be ready for, etc, it was nothing like the past month. I have had company, which I LOVED. Please don’t misunderstand. I love the people who are willing to come and stay with me.

But I get nothing done. And normally, folks, this wouldn’t be a bad thing. Because I love my days of lazy.

L-O-V-E.

However, I have been blessed and fortunate enough to stop working outside the home, and be an author. Yes, with Thea’s Tale now in digital and print form, I call myself an author. In a slight topic change, it’s rather scary to title myself that. I’ve never assigned myself a career before. It’s always been something I’ve been hired for, or gone to school for, or whatever. One more new and awesome thing about being Lisa Manifold, Author.

Back on topic. While everyone was in school, I had 4-5 hours a day to write. And I did. Now – pffffft. Nada. It’s late and I’m hiding out in front of the computer. I should be writing, and I have a project to finish. But it’s so nice, so very nice, to be here, sitting alone, in the peace and quiet for the first time in nearly a month that I am not hyper-focused on task, but am doing all the little things I’ve missed, like writing in my blog. Catching up on my boards.

On the positive side, I had an amazing time with my family. Mesa Verde, the Grand Canyon, and Glenwood Springs. All with kids old enough to see and appreciate the places we were. We clung to toe-and-footholds in Mesa Verde. Stargazed at the Grand Canyon. Did slides and sat in the therapy chairs in Glenwood. Those are memories that will be with me always. I hope that the same will be true for my kids. Just for fun, here’s all of us on a short mule trip. I wanted to get them introduced to the idea of mule rides, because one of my bucket list items for the family is a mule ride to the bottom of the canyon.

mules

It was amazing. So there’s that.

But I’m greedy. I want it all. ALLLL. I love what I do. I love that I’m a mom. Didn’t plan on it, ever. But decided to have kids, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Love that my sweetie works hard for us all so one of us can be with the kids. I also love that I get to work from home, and do the best job I’ve ever had.

And THAT is what I am whining about. That I haven’t been able to go to work for weeks. I MISS it. Like crazy.

Having whined, and off-topic-ed all over you all, I am now going to report that Casimir’s Journey is still on track for August. One Night At The Ball is in final stages, and I am working on getting it to my editor. The cover is GORGEOUS. Absolutely gorgeous. For those of you who have read Thea’s Tale, this is the story of Catrin as a young woman. I’ve had readers ask, What is the deal with Catrin? She needs to have some wine and chill out.

Well, Catrin has…issues. She really does. She’s awful to Thea. Almost irrationally so. I’m hoping, with One Night At The Ball, it’s a little more clear as to why. Just for funs and teases, here’s the cover.

onatbtype1b

I’m really excited for this. Catrin’s story came to me while writing Thea’s. It made what happened in Thea’s Tale so much more…understandable to me.

SO. There’s my month. I’m looking forward to being back on track, getting some writing time back into my schedule, while enjoying the family for the last bit of summer vaca. I know, some of you are saying What? It’s only July! We have odd schedules here.

I’ve dawdled long enough. Need to get back to work.

The schedule of creativity

So.

I’ve been really REALLY lax about keeping this updated. I got home from Dragon Con, and my life just went cuckoo. I have no excuse. I will warn you also, you’re getting a major mind dump, because I have been mulling all this over just before I fall asleep.

I’ve been thinking about how I create, and when, and looking for time to maximize the creative flow. I can’t take any organizational credit for this, though. I am fortunate that at the end of next week, I will no longer be a W2 employee, and will essentially be a SAHM. And let me tell you, without a schedule, one that I tell others about, I AM that SAHM.

Parked in the crack of the couch, eying my next bon-bon.

With that, I’ve been considering how I wish to order my day so that I might get the writing done I want to – the first publication date for Book One of the new series is May 5th, 2015, and it will go on pre-order end of this month/early March – and still be the one In Charge of the doings of the house and children.

Here’s what I noticed – I really only have two good creative days a week at this point.

Monday – am, get chores/shopping done. Creative late morning and afternoon, and then maybe a little if I’m lucky after school.
Tuesday – full on creative day, culminating with Awesome Critique Group in the evening.
Wednesday – workThursday – LOTS of work (it’s my longest day in the office)
Friday – half day of work, and then errands, and then family time
Sat/Sun – family time, and Sun usually encompasses getting things done for the next week.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my job. I am lucky that I don’t drag myself into an office with a job I tolerate. I actually love my job. Due to circumstances that have nothing to do with me writing, I need to become a SAHM. But in considering how to make sure I’m not the Crack-in-the-couch mom, I realized I have limited days in which to just wallow in my creative process.

What’s bad is I know others don’t even have that – they have to squeeze writing around a full time job, and after people are in bed. I do that too. So don’t take this as complaining. It’s not.

I have a good idea of how I am going to balance not going out to work with getting done the things I have to do for writing with my new full on responsibility for the house. My LSS (long suffering spouse) is a champ about splitting house and kid duties. After all, we both work, and it’s fair. But if I am not working – that is all on me. Which is fair.

But with three publication dates this year, I need to find that balance. I feel pretty good and only slightly guilty at my production thus far. My first two books are nearly written (lots of editing on the first one, because it’s the key to the entire rest of the series) and I have put dates to everything. Just to put it out there – May 5, August 4, and November 3. The first three books of the Sisters Of The Curse series – Thea’s Tale, Casimir’s Journey, and Catrin’s Grimoire. Somewhere in there will also be a novella, One Night At The Ball.

I am not the most organized person. But since I am being given the amazing opportunity to be at home, and WRITE, I figure I need to make the most of it, and get some organization.

I’d be interested in hearing about those of you who write for a living order your day. Particularly if you are also the SAHP.

Singin’ The Techie Blues

Technology Woes.

We all have them. Even if you don’t do anything other than fiddle with your smart phone, or play games on social media. There’s no escaping them.

However, in the world of online business, because let’s be honest, artists in today’s world have to see the online world as one of business, you really have to stay on top of things. Generally, I feel okay with this. I feel like I can hold my own in jumping into the technology pool.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Today, ladies and gents, I was bested, soundly by Facebook. I have an author page there, but because I jump before looking, I created, sometime last year, just a regular profile account. It means I must add people as friends, and it’s not an open subject page. Which, if you are promoting a business, you really want. Plus, Facebook’s TOS suggest you get your business to a Page rather than a profile.

So leaping before looking. There I was. I haven’t done anything about it since, even though it’s been on my to do list. Today, I went poking around. I took a massive leap once again, and created a Page.

No! No no no no no! Bad Lisa! Bad bad bad!

So off I go to….ah…actually read the directions. It seems one can take a profile and make it a Page. Open, your followers can add themselves, and it’s less administrative hassle as far as getting information out to your audience.

So I must go, delete the newly created Page, and take the steps to make my personal profile a Page.

The link crashes.

Yep. I crashed my own profile. It was not available for a good five minutes. Then I found it again, and went in to make the needed changes for my personal social media happiness.

It denied me. I was not allowed to make certain changes because I’d made too many. Apparently Facebook has a limit, and my fumbling had reached it.

Yay for me! I have to tell you, even though I am rolling my eyes at my ownself, I am also laughing. If I would just read the directions first – something my long-suffering spouse would have asked immediately had he been apprised of this debacle – the many steps and re-steps probably could have been avoided.

As well as the Facebook change denied message.

So there’s your public service announcement regarding tech today, chickens. Read the directions first, or show your online fumbling to the world.

Parental transitions

Like many of you, I’m a parent.  My kiddos are elementary school aged.  Thankfully, we’re beyond the kindergarten years.  They can tie their shoes, get themselves dressed, manage a lot.  Age appropriate things, but I am encouraging independence.

I didn’t always do that.  I did a large number of things for my kids because…why?  I don’t even know now.  I was – AM – somewhat of a control freak.  I like to do things my way, and get them done in a timely fashion. I don’t want people messing up my stuff – insert house, kitchen, laundry, whatever.  Even if I don’t like taking care of the chore, I like it done the way I like it.  Most of the time.  There are some things I do not care about.

But when it comes to my kids – I seem to care about a lot more than I ever thought.  Much to their and my dismay, LOL!

So last year, I went back to work outside the house.  I had worked from home prior.  It was very flexible, though, and my business partner and I always worked around our home schedules.  Then we found that our priorities had shifted, and dissolved our partnership.  All amiably.  She’s still my BFF.  (Tip – write a business plan and include in there how you plan to end the business.  How will assets be split, how will things be closed down.  Best advice we ever got, along with how to end a disagreement.  Ours was a coin toss.  My side was tails.)

So I stayed at home for a while, and then my spouse and I decided that we had plans for retirement that needed action now.  So I went back to work.  I’m glad that I have.  It’s afforded us a direction in life that we probably couldn’t have taken otherwise.  However, it has necessitated transitions.

The biggest one is as a parent.  As I said, my kids are much more independent than when we started our home business.  I’ve learned to step away from the cruise directing, as my family calls it.

Part of me misses it.  I worked a full day today, and had an event after work.  I didn’t get home until half an hour before the kids were going to bed.  Even though they weren’t totally interested, I made them come and sit with me, and snuggle, and tell me about their day.  I miss being the one who already knows how it went.  I worry that when they do stuff, they may do it wrong.  Or get hurt. Or have someone make fun of them. Or…or…or.  That list can go on forever, as my fellow parents know.

I always thought, when I was knee deep in stinky diapers, and multitudes of spit on clothes, and crying, and catching the wandering toddlers, that I couldn’t wait for them to get a little older.  It had to be easier, I thought.  I was right.  It is easier.

It’s also harder.  Letting your chicks venture out of the nest is scary.  I want to gather them to me and not let them go.  I know the world, and it’s not always the easiest or nicest place.

My kids are doing me proud.  They make mistakes, and when I see it happening, I nearly clench my fists to stop myself from jumping in to help.  I bite my tongue, and let things play out.  Kids get a great sense of achievement from navigating challenge on their own.  I have to remember that.

Some days, the mounds of diapers and spit on stuff was easier.  So go hug your kids a little extra tonight, while they’ll still let you.

Deadlines

My colleagues and I meet weekly to go over whatever we’re working on, and what we’d like critique feedback on. Initially, when I started going to a critique group, it was not fun. Not at all. I got lucky, though. I found another group, with a really focused and strong leader, and equally focused and strong members. Everyone’s supportive. It’s such an amazing thing to go somewhere every week where people are excited when you are, and commiserate and offer ideas when you have had a challenging week.

We all have projects we’re working on. Every one of us has a self-imposed deadline. Until I really started writing, I didn’t understand the importance of setting a deadline for yourself.

When you think about being successful as an author, in my thoughts, anyway, you think about having your work sought after and deadlines imposed by your agent/editor/publisher. This is all true, but what you don’t often read about is that you must, absolutely must, set deadlines for yourself. You have to, in my opinion, plot out your plans for writing.

This means you have to look at the next month, the next three months. What do you want to have accomplished? Finishing your work in progress, getting it copy edited, rewriting – what? What do you want, no, what do you NEED to get accomplished?

For me, it got all kinds of real when I looked at the rest of 2014. I have a deadline that looms for…tomorrow! And then another two for the end of August, and one for September. Within those four deadlines, I have a number of smaller deadlines. I had to make a list in order to keep all of them straight. Oddly enough making the list allowed me to take a breath and stop the rising panic at the thought of all I need to get done.

So to continue the tips to get the writing flowing, take an hour this week, and plot out your writing plans for this month. The next three months. The rest of the year. Add in getting things read by your beta readers, and edited.

If it seems too large, reign it in. Bring down the timeline to a shorter period. And focus on meeting your deadlines, one at a time. Not because someone is breathing over your shoulder. Because you know what needs to be done with your work, both by you and by your support system.

Go on. Go set your goals and a deadline for meeting them.

Dr. Google

This has nothing to do with writing.  I’m writing, but I’ve been doing more searching on Dr. Goolge than I care to.

If you’ve had sick kids, you, too, have experienced this doctor.  Something happens with your kid, and off to the interwebz you go.  When you do this for yourself, you are dying.  It doesn’t matter what you search for, or what site you end up on – you. Are. Dying.

And then you say to yourself, ‘Pshaw, self! You’re not dying!’ and swoop the mouse to some other site not medically related. 

However.

When it’s your kid(s), that’s a whole different ball of wax, as they say.  No one wants to take chances with your kids.  You know how much suffering you’re willing to put up with before you drag yourself (or your spouse nags and dying en route seems less torturous) to the local urgent care to see just what medical oddity is claiming your very soul. 

You don’t know that limit with your kids.  And Dr. Google knows this. 

I am not going to lie, shameful though it might be.  I have googled some things going on with my kids that looked, for all intents and purposes, like meningitis.  Twice.  The hospital didn’t think I was far off the mark – they tested for it.  Having been there twice in one year has caused some extended conversation about it, so I have a better idea of how extreme symptoms have to be.

It’s easy when the kid is gushing blood from some sort of head wound.  That’s happened twice, too. But when nothing is really wrong, and there are a litany of symptoms that equal a sick and miserable kid, and they are crying quietly, well….Dr. Google doesn’t look as bad.

Even though he is.

Tonight, it’s not one of our usual suspects.  Tonight, it’s mosquito/bug bites gone wild.  I have a child that has the worst reactions to being bitten.  No bites have been the same in their reactions, but they all react.  I guess that’s a similarity. 

He got a bite of some sort on his forehead.  We checked it out last night, and it was calm.  Same with today. Not much itching, or fussing about wanting to scratch.  Then I look over at him during dinner, and holy Joseph.

The kid has an egg on his forehead.  Well, half an egg.  I poke gently at his forehead (my kids are used to this, so he doesn’t even blink an eye) and it’s…squishy.

What in the name of weirdness is this? Oh Dr. Gooooogggllee…….

It seems that my kiddo has an infected mosquito bite.  The symptoms match exactly (so that MUST be it!). We iced it tonight, and the swelling did go down some.  He reports no pain or discomfort, so we’re letting him go to sleep and then if it’s still half an egg status tomorrow, off to the urgent care we go.

Well, at least it’s not meningitis.

Step Away From The Smart Phone…

 

So it was another weekend up at the shalack. That’s our little mountain hideaway that is a cross between a shack and a lovely chalet. Just so you know.

If you’ve come visiting us, you know we don’t have much in the way of technology. No cable or satellite, no internet, no phone. I can usually get a cell signal for calls, but not for much else. Not even texts. Part of me mourns a little when we go up there. I do love my techie stuff, and I do miss keeping up with my tech world.

But when I get home, I am always struck, when I look over what I’ve done during the weekend, how much I accomplish. This weekend, and if you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know this already – I managed over ten thousand words. That is just astounding to me. I did the bulk of it Saturday night, after a long and lazy day with family. Our big event was going to the hot springs and cooking ourselves lobster style. Well, and I walked around town (it’s a small town) hitting the local yard sales. Scored an amazing cast iron stove for the deck.

Back on topic. I know we all love technology, or you wouldn’t be here, on WordPress. It’s fun, and I love keeping up with those I care about who don’t live close. And yet, when I step away, how much does life improve in certain aspects?

No, we don’t do much. One of the reasons we go there is to just get away, and because we love the pace of a small town in the mountains. It’s quiet. Our house is in a part of town that is generally composed of residents. There’s not a lot of tourist traffic.

The best thing? It’s the hummingbirds. My long suffering spouse, who generally indulges me has put up a number of feeders, and adjusted and fiddled to get the birds to come and visit our feeders. We sat, both mornings, watching the birds fuss and fight and generally carry on with one another. There are six regulars that go between the four houses on the corner of our street. They make a wonderful whirring noise – and all of them have a slightly different whir. It’s louder than a hum, LOL.

And then, my spouse takes a well-deserved break and sits on the porch with first one, than another of the kids, and they sit with camera in hand hoping to get the perfect hummingbird shot, and I go write.

The old saying of ‘sit ass in chair and write’ is so true. I was reading an interview with Diana Gabaldon, and she writes between midnight and four am. She says that it’s the best time for her because the house is quiet and she can work without distraction. And that she writes every night. Even if it’s only half a page, one has to put it in the schedule as a habit.

Which brings me back round to the idea of stepping away from the technology. It’s addictive, and I am as guilty of it as anyone else. But when we move away from it, even for a time, we can be productive outside it, and then utilize it for good.

I have to admit, I missed being able to look stuff up. I make notes and do research while I’m writing. It feels weird to not be able to follow my normal habits. but it’s not a bad thing to break away from habit once in a while.

So in my continuing interest of sharing what is fueling my writing, because I have some self-imposed deadlines that have to be met this year and that means I must be organized, here’s another tip I’ve learned the hard way. If you’re finding you can’t seem to settle into writing, which is never as easy as it sounds, then log out of Facebook, Twitter, and any of your other instant notification media. Set a timer, and sit in front of your computer, or with pen in hand, and see what happens.

It could be amazing.