Saturday, April 25, 2009

Guest Blogging for Marianne Arkins Today!

Check out my first guest appearance today at Marianne Arkins' blog! Click on the link below to visit me there, or cut and paste this address into your browser. I had fun answering Marianne's questions and I hope you'll enjoy reading my answers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today It's My Birthday!


Yes, today it's my birthday and the hubby has planned an entire weekend of celebratory events. Let's hope it goes better than last year, when I left everyone at my birthday party and spent the evening in the emergency room with my mom. To be honest, I'm really ambivalent about the birthday this year, and Mother's Day too. Mom always new how to make an exit, so she managed to arrange her final illness to begin on my birthday and end on Mother's Day. She did know how to be memorable. Not trying to be maudlin - just sayin'.

Anyway, I'd hoped to have a big batch of blogs pre-written to upload here for the next few weeks, but it never happened. Other crises interfered with my blog writing time - you know, family, job, novel writing. Sheesh, I know I should put the blog first, but what can I say???

So I'll get back to writing new stuff next week with some (hopefully) interesting thoughts about friendships, the writing biz, romance, and the one my friend Ann has been waiting for - my blog about Historical Hotties.

Ooh, in the meantime, here's something you should be watching. I just love me some Nathan Fillion and he is fantastic as egotistical but sexy novelist Richard Castle in his new series. Pants aren't as tight as they were in Firefly, but we can't have everything.






Friday, April 17, 2009

What Country Matches Your Sexuality?

Yes, it's been a busy week again out in the real world. So here's a bit of wisdom from the Blogthings gods. I don't think I can really add anything to their stunning wisdom on this one. . .


Your Sexuality is French



The average French person first has sex at age 17.

And the average number of partners is 8.

53% of French people are happy with their sex lives.

And 50% of France feels confident asserting themselves in bed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Blog About Shirtless Guys

The weather's starting to warm up, and with it comes the first true sign of the coming of spring. No, not the swallows at Capistrano or wherever, although I suppose those are nice. No, I speak of the far more fabulous Shirtless Guy:


As much as I enjoy the sight of a well-toned youth jogging along the trail in my direction, there is of course an ugly, dark side to the Season of Shirtless Guys:

Fortunately, the guy next door hasn't started mowing his lawn yet, so I haven't had a chance to feast my eyes on any wobbly mountains of flesh similar to the ones in this scary photo. If I'm really lucky, maybe the neighbor will keep his shirt on this year.

Here's hoping your Spring - and mine - is full of flat, well-toned abs!

Friday, April 3, 2009

What Are Your Roadblocks?

Today I have a lovely guest blogger - Cara Marsi. Cara's the author of Logan's Redemption, an excellent contemporary romance. She has some great insights into what might be keeping you from succeeding! Visit Cara at www.caramarsi.com.

We all have those pesky little roadblocks in our lives. You know what they are: those people or things that prevent you from doing what you want, or need, to do. Roadblocks are all around us, seductive little imps tempting us into throwing away our precious time. It takes a strong will to fight the imps. And sometimes those enticing little devils are us.

There are roadblocks in the corporate world and in our personal lives, but today we’re going to talk about those things and people that keep you, a writer, from writing.

What’s on your roadblocks list? What’s keeping you from sitting at that computer and writing? Why are you reading this when you should be writing?

When I worked full-time, my biggest obstacle was my job. A corporate drone and cubicle dweller, I was forced into a dreary existence eight hours a day when I wanted to be home in my imaginary world, writing. Darn day job interfered with my creativity. Despite that, I managed to complete five novels (two published so far) and two short stories (one published so far). It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fast, but I did it. I always told myself that if I didn’t have to work, I’d write more and I’d write faster.

I’ve recently been downsized from my job. No more cubicle eight hours a day. So, how am I doing with the roadblocks thing? Not so good. What are my biggest obstacles now? My husband and myself. Actually my husband isn’t so much a roadblock, but rather it’s my reaction to him that is.

He’s retired and home all day. Underfoot, one might say. Not a book lover, he can’t understand my passion for reading and writing. Although he doesn’t say it very often, he’d rather I spend my time with him than at the computer. So I feel guilty. And the very fact that he’s around distracts me. It’s a balancing act between family and writing, and one I’m still trying to work out. I could write all day, every day, and never come up for air. But then I wouldn’t have a life. And I probably wouldn’t have a marriage. So I try to compromise. A little writing, do stuff around the house, spend time with my husband. I think we all agree that family comes first, yet for our mental health and well-being, we have to make time for ourselves, including pursuing our passion for writing. I wonder how other writers handle the family versus writing thing.

Another obstacle: my husband and I share one computer, my laptop. Some days when I’m working at the computer dear hubby paces the room, asking how much longer I’m going to be because he needs to check his email or the Internet. At the end of February I bought him a mini-laptop for his birthday. It’s not set up yet, but once it is, the two-people, one-computer problem will be licked. I hope. I highly recommend more than one computer in a household.
For the past year my laptop rested on the breakfast room table--a very busy area filled with distractions. When I found myself suddenly home during the day, and writing, I knew something had to give. We converted the guest room into an office, complete with fresh paint and a new desk. Having my own space to write has helped tremendously.

A smaller roadblock for me is housework. The thing I hate about housework is that you need to keep doing it. For God’s sake, can’t the dust stay off the furniture for at least six months? My husband does his share of work around the house, but there’s still plenty for me to do. I can hear everyone saying, “Housework? Who does housework?” I know, but when the dust bunnies commandeer the bedroom and attack the cat, I’ve got to do battle. So housework cuts into my writing time.

My biggest roadblock by far is myself. When I worked and had less time, I learned to make every minute count. You’d be surprised how much writing I could get done on a one-hour lunch break. Now that I have lots of time, I find excuses not to write. I check email, peruse the Internet, make a few phone calls. And I’ve added another time gobbler—I’ve just joined Twitter. Having too much time can be bad, very bad. I tell myself, “I’ve got time. I’ll write later.” But sometimes later doesn’t come. I wonder how other writers fight this particular demon. I need a schedule, but I was on a schedule during my years of fulltime work. I’m sick of schedules. However, I work best on deadlines and schedules, so I will get organized. I promise. As soon as I dust the living room and check Twitter.

Many writers find that their families and friends sabotage their writing time, sometimes subtly, sometimes openly. I once knew of a woman who was said to be an excellent writer. Everyone who read her work predicted she had the talent to have a successful writing career. But her husband and children resented the time she spent writing. And they were openly hostile about it. They wanted her at their beck and call. She gave up writing. This is not an unusual occurrence, especially for women. If you really want to write, you’ve got to fight the family attempts at sabotage. Some female writers, perhaps out of inborn guilt, won’t assert themselves and say no to family and friends.  

Some spouses and friends are very good at finding subtle ways to undermine a writer’s time. The husband just happens to make plans for them to do something together on the very day that the writer needs to sit down and work on a project. Or friends call constantly, just to talk, or cajole the writer to go shopping or out to lunch. When friends and family know you’re home during the day, they feel your time is their time. This is where we writers need Caller ID and an answering machine. And we need to learn to say “No.” Firmly. Don’t answer that phone unless it’s the State Police telling you there’s a chemical leak and the neighborhood has to evacuate.

I did a poll of writer friends and asked what roadblocks kept them from writing. A few said lack of confidence in their writing or their need for perfection keeps them editing and editing and not moving forward. They feel that whatever they’ve written is never good enough. This is a real hurdle and one that will take work and determination to overcome. But it can be overcome.

I understand the role fear can play in keeping us from completing and submitting our stories. I’ve just finished a paranormal romance that I should have submitted to editors and agents months ago. I keep tweaking it and coming up with reasons why I have to wait just a little longer. I’m afraid to let my baby go because that means the rejections will start coming. I know I’m supposed to think positive, but in my mind I keep seeing those rejection letters or rejection emails. I plan to stock up on red wine and potato chips, my comfort food of choice.
Negativity can be a real obstacle. One time, in an effort to enlist Fate’s help to sell my books and wipe out my negativity, I performed a ritual using a Native American sage stick. I got the sage and the idea from a shaman, who also happens to be the woman who waxes my eyebrows. At her instruction, I lit the stick and waved it over pages of two manuscripts spread on the bed. I asked that all bad vibes be cleansed from the manuscripts and only good and positive thoughts cover them. I dropped the stick while it was lit and almost set my bed on fire. Not a good sign. One of those manuscripts did get published, but the other is locked away forever. Did the ritual work? Maybe, maybe not. I’m willing to try almost anything once.

Other writers are struggling to write while holding down fulltime jobs and raising young children. My son is an adult now, but I didn’t start writing seriously until he was eleven. I don’t know if I could have written when he was very little. Many women with small children make the time to write. It takes a lot of work and perseverance for these writers to continue and they deserve our respect. An obstacle for some stay-at-home writer moms is volunteering. They’re committed to volunteering at their children’s schools, or in their communities. It’s important that we give back to our schools and our communities, but at times volunteering becomes another roadblock. Busy moms, who refuse to let the dream of being a published author die, yet find time for volunteering, also deserve our support.

Other writers have told me they get leg and back pains from sitting at the computer so long. This is a problem that I’ve not encountered, but a potentially serious one, on many levels. Imagine if you could only sit for a short period every day. How much writing would you get done? Your health is important, and whether or not you have a bad back, you need to get up from that computer during the day and move around.  

I’ve told you what some of my roadblocks are. What are some of yours and what have you done to resolve them?