Saturday, December 31, 2005


Before I create my writing goals for 2006, I’ve been trying to examine strategies and issues that affect my ability to write.  Time management, rewards and control of the environment all influence writing.  But one of the biggest influences is the support I get from outside.

Where does your support come from?  Those that are members of RWA, do you find the organization a support and resource for your writing?  Do you belong to any chapters and do they help?  How about online writing forums, do you find strength from an online community?  Do you belong to any other writing organizations?  Yahoo lists?

What about critique partners.  Do you belong to a critique circle and do they help bolster you when you are flagging?  How about face-to-face contact?  Do you meet with a group or a person to discuss writing?

Are blogs helpful?  Do you find support through the blogging community?

What support do you receive outside of the writing community?  Is your family supportive?  Do you have a group of non-writing friends who help you along?  Do they sometimes prove negative rather than positive?

For me, I can’t go it alone.  I have a support system in place that keeps me involved whether I’m writing or not.  If weren’t for my writing friends, I would have given up a long time ago.  My family isn’t the most supportive but I do have one non-writing friend who is an invaluable support.  I’m not real public with the world at large about my writing so I suppose it is no wonder I don’t find support from many outside sources.  Are you public with your writing and do you think that influences your success as a writer?

Friday, December 30, 2005


So I’ve got my calendar and a reward set for my writing.  I’m set.  But wait…I can only write when the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars.  I need cloudy weather, preferably rain, for my muse to get inspired.  There must be soft music in the background, usually the soundtrack from some drippy historical movie.  I can only write if I have my favorite socks on.  My muse responds to chai tea.  The children must be somewhere else.  My good luck tiki must be staring at me from his post on the top of my desk.  I can only write if I’ve read all the blogs and commented on at least five of them.  There must be a game of Poppit or Bejeweled 2 played in order to get my juices flowing.

I can’t write if it’s sunny.  I can’t write if I’m hungry, thirsty, cold, hot, etc. etc.  I can’t write with the TV on.  I must write on a laptop.  I must write on a desk top.  I must write on a legal pad with a roller gel pen.  

Does this remind you of anyone?  Do you have conditions that have to be met in order to write?  Don’t the above things sound lame?

They aren’t really.  They aren’t cop outs, they aren’t excuses because we really do want a certain environment in order to write.   But what we really want is control.  

Our talent is creating worlds on paper.  We make up stuff, creating characters and places that exist only in our imagination and communicating it so a reader believes they are real for the space of a few hundred pages.  Our control is absolute.  

I think it really gripes us when we can’t control the world we live in.   By creating conditions in which to write, we are exerting our control.  But we can’t make it snow.  We can’t make the kids disappear.  We write on what is available.  Sometimes the cd player is broken and we have to write in silence.  Sometimes we have to write with “Spongebob Squarepants” blaring in the background.  We have to accept we can’t be in control and make the commitment to write anyway.  I honestly believe if you have your heart in a book, it really doesn’t matter what surrounds you.  Our lives are not perfect and we are not magic.  How we perceive the world around us helps feed our muse.

I was originally going to title this post “Atmosphere” when I realized atmosphere changes day-to-day for me and some of my best writing was done without any of my conditions met.  I have to day I can’t do anything about this and write anyway.

How about you?  Do you have conditions to be met when you write?  Are they realistic?

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Thank you for all the great comments.  I see I am not the only person with time management issues.  Lory, glad I can provide some inspiration.  Kelly, I remember when you were doing the 1000 words a day, I tried that one myself and didn’t have much success.  Tori, you’re in the middle of move.  I know my writing took a big hiatus when I moved.  Too many other things fall on your plate.  Eve, I can’t imagine how rough it must be.  Having to be the primary caregiver to another person eats the time.  For the most part, if my house is sanitary I’m satisfied as well.  Dana has found something that works for her.  I’ve tried to write at night and would probably succeed if I didn’t have a husband.  We get so little time together, he considers the hours after 9 p.m. his.

Teresa brings up my post for today.  The promise of rewards.

I remember as a child my mom promising me a trip to McDonald’s for lunch if I did something or behaved.  I do the same thing with my own kids.  On the flipside, if they do not do something or their behavior is deplorable, they get something taken away.

As adults we operate the same way with ourselves.  Lose ten pounds, get that new pair of jeans.  Get the promotion at work, go out for a fancy dinner.  Live another year, get a present.  

Does this work with writing?  

I have two issues with the reward system that has made it not work for me, issues I’d like to change.  My first issue is that I make writing the reward itself.  If my house is clean or I’ve got dinner started, I am allowed to write.  The big problem with that is most of the time I can’t accomplish such a goal.  The promise of writing becomes a Holy Grail, unattainable and elusive to all but the perfect.  And I’m not perfect.

The other issue is finding an appropriate award and a reasonable goal that makes the reward worthwhile.  Some days writing 1000 words is easy, other days 100 words feels like pulling teeth.  

I think rewards work, as a parent, I’ve seen them in action.  What do you think?  Do you reward yourself?  What do you reward yourself with?  By the same token, do you penalize yourself for not meeting a goal?  Would that work?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Time Management

When I found out I was being laid off back in November of 2001, I wasn’t particularly despondent.  I’d grown tired of my job and really wanted a change.  Besides, I was a romance writer.  By staying home, I would have limitless amounts of time to work on my writing.


I found I had less time for writing than I did when I worked full-time.  How could this be?  

My sense of time changed when I stopped working.  I’d lessened its value, letting the minutes and hours go by without really thinking about it.  When I worked, 8 hours of my day were set, everything else had to be squeezed in around that block of time.  Those precious hours after work and on the weekends took on added value.  When I stopped working, I didn’t have the same problem.   My only constraint was when my son got out of school.  The rest of the day turned into fuzzy mush without structure.

I suffered through this total lack of structure for about 18 months when I realized I was accomplishing nothing.  And not just on the writing front.  My house was a disaster and the days flew by.   I totally changed my way of doing things, got organized and was much happier.  I went to FlyLady and applied her principles and they really worked…for a time.  

My house isn’t a disaster, I have retained those FLY lessons, but I have let time get away from me again.   On any given day, if someone asks if I’ve done any writing, I usually say no because I haven’t had time.

I have plenty of time, but my lack organization has sucked it all up.  So I need to come up with strategies to maximize my time.  To start, I got myself a decent date book for the year.  It doesn’t have the days broken down my hours, but it has a small block of space to scribble down a note or two.  I can write down any appointments plus note any tasks which need to be accomplished that day.  My idea is to make myself answerable to my use of time.  What did I do today?  When did I write?

If it were a simple matter of finding time to write, it wouldn’t be so hard.  But I want my life to flow together.  I want my house somewhat orderly, I want time to write, I need to exercise, I need to find time to hang around with friends, etc. etc.  If it means scheduling every minute of the day, then that is what I will have to do.

How do you handle time management?  Do you have any tricks or strategies that have helped you not only with your writing but with other facets of your life?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Phillip's Head Screwdrivers

My hand has finally recovered from the constant twisting motion required from using a screwdriver.  I cannot count how many battery compartments I opened and stuffed with “AA” batteries over the last couple of days.  Even simple toys seem to require some kind of juice.

Santa was pretty generous this year.  The boy got a telescope with an automatic aligning program.  Katie got a Barbie styling head and a Barbie house.  Allison got a Geotrax train.  Very cute and easy to put together and operate.  I got a pair of wireless headphones for my iPod.  Very cool and they work great.  

Hubby takes the last two weeks of the year off from work.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, considering we are getting our kitchen remodeled next month) he has had to do work at home.  He set up the home office to his liking and kicked me out.  But every day he has had to spend some time working.  Kind of a bummer but such is life when you are self-employed.

We have one last week of good food before we go on the ol’ diet.  I’ve really packed it on these holidays.  I need to get writing.  When I write, I get too involved to stop and snack.  I’m also going to hit the gym big this January.  I believe a healthy writer is a better writer.  The physical requirement of sitting in one position for any length of time is so bad on the back.  

January is a time of new beginnings and I’m going to take part of this week to plan a writing strategy.   I think that will be my blogging theme for the week.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!!!

It is midnight, long past the time Santa should have visited. Unfortunately, Allison won't go to sleep. She is up, playing, showing no interest in going to bed. Sigh.... She spent the day at her grandparents' house so I thought she would be tired. She did use the potty the whole time she was there. As soon as she got home she peed in her diaper. Ugh....

It has been a rough week. I had bronchitis and was on antibiotics. My son Daniel got some flu. His fever went up to nearly 104. When I called the doctor, they didn't want me to bring him in, they were so overwhelmed. After a couple of days of fever, he seems to be on the mend. He was pretty sick and missed the week of school.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. I'm feeling better. I just wish this kid would go to bed so I could finish the Christmas stuff and go to bed!

Enjoy the day with your families and remember anything you eat on Christmas day has no calories.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

10 Reading Secrets

It's 4 a.m. and I can't breathe, ergo I can't sleep. My cold seems to have gone from getting better to getting worse and my chest keeps constricting. So off to the doctor tomorrow if I can get in.

Anyway, Amy tagged me so here goes:

Ten Reading Secrets

1. I pretty much read romance.

2. I read a lot of non-fiction, usually for research although I love reading about history.

3. I keep a book in my car at all times.

4. When I read "Silence of the Lambs," my parents left for a trip and I had to put the book down until they came home because it scared me so bad.

5. In high school I was in Shakespeare Society. We got together once a week and read the plays. Yes, I was a geek.

6. I buy more books than I read.

7. When I was a teenager, the one gift I could be sure of getting at Christmas was the latest Victoria Holt hardback (until she died).

8. My most hated high school reading was either "The Bear" by Faulkner or "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by James Joyce. Or maybe it was "My Antonia" by Willa Cather.

9. I read tabloids in the grocery store line.

10. I've never read a Nora Roberts book although I did read one J.D. Robb book.

I tag the following folk:


Monday, December 19, 2005

Wild Kingdom

This is me

This is my children

I remember watching "Wild Kingdom" as a child. Marlin Perkins would point out the weak wildebeest with the vicious predators chasing after it, conveniently cutting to commercial just as the animal was about to meet its bloody fate.

Well, I know what happened during the commercial.

Being a sick mom can be likened to the life of a weakened wildebeest. The predators know that the creature is feeble and cannot fight back. So they take advantage. They do all they can, herding it into a corner before they pounce.

"Mom, can I have (name of some candy I'm going to say no to)?" And then proceed to get it themselves. What am I going to do? Get up and chase them?

"Allison got in the pantry and is using your flour bin for a sandbox?"

"Mom, Allison peed all over the carpet."

"What's for breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, dessert?"

"Can we decorate the tree now? Why can't we decorate the tree now? I really want to decorate the tree NOW!!!!"

By the end of the night I just want to ingest large quantities of Benadryl and slug down a hot buttered rum and hope I collapse into an anahistamine coma.

Don't these kids realize I am going to get better? Considering it's a week before Christmas, you think they would be smarter than this. The wildebeest will rise again, only this time with fangs and point horns.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Calm Before the Storm

Thursday night I went to a Christmas party on a yacht in Newport Beach to see the lights. The boat toured around while boats decorated with lights paraded about the harbor. This is the main pavillion at Balboa. Most of my pictures turned out really bad, this was one of the few that looked good.

Anyway, I got dressed up and even wore hose. Okay, it was tights because it was chilly out there. I wore make-up, impressing myself that I remembered how to put it on. What really blew me away was my shoes. By the end of the evening I thought my feet were going to fall off they hurt so bad. But I used to wear these things all the time when I worked full time. Geez louise, I wonder how I did it? They looked cute and that was what mattered. The party had an open bar, appetizers and a full dinner. It was pretty good, but very long. And you can't just get up and leave unless you want to swim. So that was my Christmas party for the year. I suspect hubby is going to want to host one next year if our kitchen is done.

I'm fighting a flu or something right now. I woke up coughing and short of breath. I used my asthma inhaler and it helped but it gave me the shakes. I'm trying to avoid using it. Holiday cookies and candy seem to ease the misery .

Today would be a good day to write, but I feel so lousy I really have to motivation to do it. I believe this is the calm before the storm. Next week is going to be hectic. And with some of the family dynamics around here, it could get a little loopy. So I'm going to enjoy my peace for little while.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Teresa tagged me the other day so here are my answers.

Seven Things To Do Before I Die:
1. Have grandkids
2. Own a condo in Hawaii
3. Go to Europe
4. Learn to knit
5. Get published
6. Lose 30 lbs.
7. Buy a car that only seats 2

Seven Things I Can't Do:
1. Sing
2. Listen to country music
3. Eat American cheese
4. Drink Pepsi
5. Barbeque
6. Paint my own nails
7. Play the guitar

Seven Things That Attract Me To My Spouse (or Significant Other, Best Friend, etc.)
1. His intelligence
2. His sense of humor
3. His eyebrows
4. His work ethic
5. His devotion to family
6. His “guyness”
7. His earning potential

Seven Things I Say (or Write) Most Often:
1. $%*@
2. Geez Louise
3. Duh!
4. Like…you know…I’m so sure
6. If you could…..that would be greaaattt
7. Are you going to eat that?

Seven Books (or Series) I love:
1. The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
2. The Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison
3. Jane Eyre by one of those Bronte girls
4. The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys
5. Bitterleaf by Lisa Gregory
6. Once More, Miranda by Jennifer Wilde
7. Cannery Row & Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again:
1. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
2. Office Space
3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
4. Monty Python’s The Life of Brian
5. A Christmas Story
6. My Blue Heaven
7. The Empire Strikes Back

I think everyone I know has been tagged already. It’s a fun tag, would love to see everyone’s answers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Using Color

I’ve always been aware of color in my writing, but more for its sensory benefits than any emotional or developmental aspects.  When considering color, I am usually trying to figure out if it will be pleasing to the eye.  I use color to flesh out a scene, to help bring my reader into the story.

I’ve never considered color for its emotional impact.  Settings, emotions, etc. were my tools.  But my friend Becky told me she was working on an article about using color in writing.  She made me think about it.  When I close my eyes, I can envision the “color” of my characters.  For instance, in the WIP I’m working on, the heroine is definitely in shades of warm oranges and golds.  She has a feeling of autumn about her.  The hero is dark, a very dark brown like sable, mysterious and impenetrable but not black.

But how can I use this sense of color to develop my characters?  Becky’s article, Writing In Color, talks about the symbolism in color.  If a character dresses in pink with white lace, we think of her has a girly girl.  See a man in black and we think of mysterious, ominous, evil, etc.  Becky puts this into action when she talks about using color for a secondary color.  It works with the reader’s perceptions and creates a small short cut for developing the character.  

Do you think of color when developing your characters?  Do you feel an emotional response to color?  I think it is subconscious.  I’ve since looked back at my characters and gotten a feeling for their colors.  Sure enough they are there.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Big Winner

The big winner for the Jongleurs Dance CD is Kacey!  Email me your address and I’ll get it out the door on Monday.

Kacey asked me what my favorite of his discs is.  I think my favorite is Celtic Cross.  The music is a sampling of Celtic styles from not just the British Isles and Ireland but also other spots in Europe.  I have some new CD’s of his I haven’t listened to because it is Christmas and that is pretty much all I listen to this time of year.  I really like A Christmas Gift.  The first half of the CD is traditional Christmas songs the second half is Renaissance.

I’m a sucker for the New Agey Christmas music.  I’ve got a few Manheim Steamroller and Windham Hill albums as well as Narada.  I grew up on all the traditional Christmas music like Bing Crosby and the like.  I think I burned out on them.  

What about you?  Do you have any particular styles or performers you like this time of year?  Confess, do you listen to Christmas music when it isn’t Christmas?

For you who don’t celebrate Christmas, do you have “seasonal” music?  I know I have my “winter music” and “summer music.”  Does the weather influence your musical choices?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Guilt Block

I’m going to shamelessly piggyback off from Melissa's from yesterday.  She talks about her irritability and how it relates to her need to write.  Funny, a light bulb went off in my head when I read her post.  That is what has been bothering me.  

I spend so much time satisfying others, I spend no time doing the things I find most enjoyable, which is writing.  And it isn’t the writing specifically that is such a problem.  Writing is something so personal, it belongs to me.  When I crochet a blanket, I enjoy the craft, I enjoy creating the afghan, but finished product is done for someone else.  Same with baking or cooking.  I enjoy both of those tasks, but the end result benefits everyone.

Writing is different.  In my house, the only one who will gain any pleasure from my writing is me.  And thus sitting down and writing is hard to justify.  Yes, this is a crazy problem developed in my own mind, but I think as a wife and mother, I am brainwashed into believing my family comes first in all things.  Mentally, I know this is ridiculous, my life is as valuable as anyone else’s in the family.  But still, I will skip doing what I want to make my kids happy.

Maybe there was a subliminal message in those wedding vows.  Maybe the substance I thought was pitocin being pumped into my veins during labor was actually a mind
altering drug that turned me into a martyr.  Most likely it was the examples I learned from my mother.  

Putting the needs of your family ahead of writing really isn’t a bad thing until it crosses over into your spirit.  Like Melissa, I have been irritable and quick to anger.  I resent the demands put upon me by my family.  And that is not good.

Writing books and advisors suggest treating your writing like a job.  Well, I already have a job.  Being a SAHM provides enough labor for the day.  I want to enjoy my writing.  However, I feel guilty if I’m enjoying my writing and the rest of the house is falling apart.  Like the laundry, dishes and vacuuming aren’t going to be there tomorrow.  

I think this time of year really sticks it to us women.  It is a time of giving, a time of selfless acts, not a time to be dwelling on what you don’t have.  How can I complain about a lack of writing time when there are families in the Gulf States who have nothing?  How can I think how bad I’ve got it when there are mothers in Pakistan struggling just to feed and shelter their children?

Some writers suffer from writer’s block. I suffer from guilt block.   Am I alone in this feeling?

Today is the last day to enter to win a CD.  Look down at Saturday’s post.  I’ll draw a name tomorrow morning and announce the winner.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Music to Write by

I'm not one that usually requires music to write with, but sometimes, I find music inspires me. Not because it evokes emotion, but because its rhythms and sounds jumpstart my brain. Usually Baroque composers like Bach and Vivaldi fit the prescription. But sometimes I need something a little different, after you've heard "The Four Seasons" and the "Brandenburg Concertos" eight gazillion times, you need a change! I started listening to Celtic-inspired music, Renaissance and Medieval as well. Anyway, I've discovered a musician who sells his cd's at holiday gift fairs and shows. Richard Searles does a lot of old music. He told me he does quite a bit of research at the music library at UCLA looking for the oldest tunes. I think I have most of his cd's. My mom and I are both fans except my mother keeps buying duplicates of cd's she already has. She bought Jongleur's Dance then got home and realized she already had it. So she gave it to me. I already have it as well, so I thought I would give it away. If you are interested, comment and tell me so. I'll draw a name on Friday. Only one entry per person.

Friday, December 02, 2005

15 Facts abouy Me and Books

Okay, here is my response to the book meme tag:

  1. My first love was history books.  I love reading about history

  2. I rarely buy used books.  Authors don’t get a dime if I buy a book used so I try to buy them new.

  3. I love libraries

  4. I love most genres but romance is my favorite

  5. I went ten years without reading a romance

  6. I save very few of my books.  When I was younger I kept everything and had them saved on a list

  7. I don’t like reading hardbacks

  8. I do like trade size although I’m not real wild about the price

  9. Most of my reading is done in bed or at the gym

  10. I’d love to own a combo bookstore/martini bar.  Wouldn’t that be fun?

  11. I’ve been in a bookstore at 3 a.m. (Kramerbooks & Afterwords in  D.C.)

  12. Cover art isn’t something I worry about.  I like nice covers but I think the quality has gone down over the last 20 years and I don’t them interesting

  13. My hubby loves to read but we have opposite taste in books

  14. My son is an avid reader and will read the ingredients on a ketchup bottle if it is around.

  15. I pack more books than clothes when I go on vacation.

I’m going to tag Lory because I’d love to hear her answers.