Coming Soon….

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As I prep for NaNoWriMo, I thought it was time I finished a Relic Hunter Short that I’ve been working on for a while.  I just got the cover done…What do you think???

This Gang is just…AWESOME!

I love it when one of my favorite author sites features me as the author of the day.  If you’re an indie (like me) or a traditionally published author then check out AwesomeGang for promotions and their features.  They’re really an incredible site devoted to promoting all authors (and most of the authors help promote other authors and give such generous advice).  It’s really amazing and here’s their website link Awesome Gang and you can find them on Facebook and Twitter and even on Pinterest!

Why is it so hard to maintain momentum?

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I go on publicity binges – posting, tracking, tweeting, creating new content, then posting, tracking, tweeting all over again.  Then I see a jump in sales and I think “Great!  It’s working!” and I work like a woman possessed on my next release or short story in between posts, tweets, tracking, etc..  All of a sudden I hit a day when it just seems like so much self-aggrandizement and frantic activity that I can’t bear to do it for another minute.

It’s in these dark hours of (mental) exhaustion that I just want to crawl onto the couch and read someone else’s work.  The one thing being an indie has taught me is that those moments of blissful peace are necessary to fuel my creativity.  It’s stressful to live with the little voice in my head “Did my scheduled posts work?  Did I put the links on that post?” and all of the other random thoughts that pop in while I’m trying to live my life.

That’s the crux of the matter:  I have a life.  I have a full-time job.  I have a family.  I have a small dog.  I have friends.  I also have a part-time job (writing) that I’m building into a business and that business reqires me to be creative and consistent.

The last time I hit that wall – the one between “I love doing this so much” and “I’m closing my Twitter account” – I decided to approach things differently.  Instead of working like a woman possessed on my next release while promoting, I broke it down into two separate tasks.  Write.  Publicize.  When I’m not feeling particularly inspired, I build my tweets and posts and save them or schedule them to post at specific times.  When I can’t form a sentence, I work on my art for advertising sales & promos – then I save them or schedule them.  Trying to do it all at once just saps my energy and creativity.  If my posts are scheduled, I can focus on my next project.  This has made me more focused as a writer and it’s enabled me to keep my online presence consistent.

When I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, I curl onto the couch (with the small dog) and read someone else’s work.  Those breaks enable me to do recharge enough so I can build my business.  It’s time I carve out for me, without the pressure of constantly feeling like I must do more.  Maintaining momentum is important, but maintaining sanity is even more critical.

Writing as therapy

Sometimes (like today), I get up at the crack of dawn because I’m simply too stressed out to sleep.  Life’s like that – long periods of status quo where it seems as if everything is flowing along like a peaceful river and then you’re suddenly going through the rapids in an innertube, clinging to irrational hope that the roaring you hear in the distance isn’t a giant waterfall.

Those moments of “Oh, crap – here we go!” are what fuel my writing.  For those of you who’ve read my books, you know that my characters find themselves charging forward despite those little voices in their heads that say “I’d rather be taking a nap on the couch” or even “this wasn’t such a good idea.”  That’s what life is all about.  There are days when you can nap, and days when you just need to deal with the insurmountable tasks you feel ill equiped to handle.  You can’t crumble and you can’t hide from those challenges – the only thing you can do is move through them, trying to trust the fact that your talents and skills will serve you well.

For me, my ability to make a mental escape into another place has been a skill which has kept me from twisting into a giant stress ball and rolling into a nice, dark closet to wait out the catastrophe.  Sure, I can’t sleep a lot of nights, but I can get up and lose myself in Arienne’s next adventure, or I can relish Cleo’s self-serving “me first” attitude, or I can help Caly figure out what the clues mean.  Those breaks from the reality give me time to decompress and solving a complicated plot twist is so satisfying that it gives me hope I can solve the gnarled tangled that my own life sometimes becomes.

Writing is my escape.  I can point to situations in my books and think “Oh, right – that’s when x happened” and I can remember the particular emotion or issue that was playing in the back of my mind when I first sat down to write a specific chapter.  Those exact situations aren’t in my book, but I can think of times when (like Arienne) I was facing a giant obstacle and felt too overwhelmed to work out the solution until that little voice in my head spoke up (like Gonishen did) and said “Just think.  You know the answer to this.”

That’s what a book should do.  Take you out of your current situation and bring you somewhere where you can solve messy problems and feel like no matter how bad things get, there’s a solution and everthing you’ve learned up until that point has been to prepare you to find that solution and keep moving forward.  I think of my readers when I write – I want to take you on a journey to an interesting place with people who feel just as overwhelmed and inadequate as the rest of the world does but after an adventure, I want to bring you safely home feeling like just maybe, a happy ending is always possible.

The moment that converted me to a Scrivener User

I’m not a linear writer – my main frame of the story is pretty set when I begin hammering out chapter 1, but then the twists and turns take me many places.  I had read about Scrivener but thought much of what it contained would be useless fluff.  I decided to give it a shot, though, and downloaded the free trial (you can get that here:  http://www.literatureandlatte.com).  I played with it for two days, basically ignoring the handy user guide – I’m more of a hands-on girl and way too impatient to work my way through a guide 🙂

My initial assessment was that the learning curve would be relatively steep, but I decided to try it for my next book and actually use the program the way it was intended.  Before we get to those details, here’s a little background:

I used to write in WordPerfect then in Word.  My manuscript was one document with long blank spaces where I had to work on joining two sections together.  Some days, I write the ending, other days I change the beginning, sometimes I have a random idea I stick in the middle of a section so I won’t lose it. When I changed something important that I’d mentioned earlier in the manuscript, I’d have to hunt around the document to find the section I needed to rework then go back and continue writing.  The constant back and forth made me read brief sections of my text over and over – that is a total enthusiasm killer for me because it was so distracting.

My ideas usually come to me in the early morning before I even bother to get out of bed, or (worse) in the middle of the night.  When I hit an issue in the plot where I have something to resolve I fall asleep trying to think of ways to work it out.  When I wake up in the morning I spend a few minutes still  trying to resolve the issue and sometimes it’s so clear that I rush out of bed and flip on the laptop.  I add the new thought to the bottom of the manuscript and figure I’ll find the exact place to put it later – this is how I create larges blank spaces in my document…and I lose things that way.

Yesterday morning, I resolved a huge issue in my next book (A Whisper of Feathers).  I jumped out of bed, raced to the laptop and opened my Scrivener document.  I used my index cards on the cork board – RIGHT IN THE PROGRAM – to find the right section of the story and banged out the resolved issue in a brand new chapter.  I have an outline of my book sitting right on the screen – it’s generated from my index cards so I know where I’m going and how long I have to get there. I have index cards for ideas, documents with character and setting sketches and the ability to take some ideas and throw them from Book 1 of the series into Book 2 or 3.

My chapters are labeled with the main event so I can easily find things. My cork board is filled with ideas and I can move them around as I see fit or as the story changes. All of those capabilities have made me a diehard Scrivener fan. It has given me organization in a way I can actually use it to drive my story. It has enabled me to spend those days where I don’t feel like writing just pinning index cards to my virtual cork board so when I do feel capable of writing long passages, I have a place to put them and ideas about where they’ll fall in the story.

I haven’t compiled the chapters into a manuscript for publishing yet, but so far the program has exceeded my expectations. I honestly didn’t think “writing software” could actually make me a better writer – but it did because it enables me to write the way my brain works and the software lets me put things together in a logical order and then easily rearrange it if necessary. If you want to buy the software (currently $40.00) you can click on the logo below and be taken to Amazon.com. If you’re a writer, I recommend trying it. I didn’t think I’d be a convert, but I am! 51msMSey69L._SL1000_