Category Archives: Writing Process

Defeating Doubt: 10 Steps

Dark Dreamers,

It doesn’t matter who you are, how healthy you eat, or how many sit-ups you do, anyone, at any time, can be stalked by the silent killer on panther paws: doubt. From doctors to lawyers to new adult dark fantasy writers, each is equally likely to be pounced unexpectedly, usually at the most inopportune moments. For me, I know it often comes just as I try to settle in to sleep. I could be exhausted, a day that has run me hard and put me away wet, yet those little tendrils of doubt slither their way into my brain. Then we’re off to the races. My mind won’t stop. Anxiety whips my thoughts into a fury. At this point I might as well and get up and do something. There will be no sleeping tonight.

Between Facebook, Twitter, blogs and professional meetings, I see I’m far from the only one. This hunter stalks indeterminately and is always hungry. What gets me is not only do I feel it at night; I see it in my students every day. Whether it is holding back an answer or losing points on a test due to anxiety, doubt has a near emotional monopoly on the world reaching every man, woman and, yes, child. Also, unlike my books, there are no vampires to save us from it.

No, defeating doubt is not a passive skill. In fact, the more we hide and hope it’ll take someone else and go away, the worse it gets. Fighting it is an active counterattack requiring strategy; we have to engage in this battle every day if we hope to keep the clutches of depression and defeat at bay. In dark days and hard moments, when our blinders are the thickest, our sparring techniques can be forgotten, so today I thought I would force myself to remember what they are.

  1. Stop and Breathe. Bring the world and your responsibilities down to the size of your breath.vipassana-997078_1920
  2. Don’t Ignore It. Making pretend everything is okay will only make you feel guiltier.jailed-1251615_1280
  3. Don’t feel guilty. Emotions happen. You are already taking charge.shame-927085_1920
  4. Probe the points of doubt with questions. Where did it come from? What do I know about it?woman-1207674_1920
  5. Is the source real and concrete, or am I creating my doubt through perceptions? Check to see if there was an actual cause that I can deal with or work on. If not, identify it as a neurotic doubt and ask why I have created this for myself.nothing-1394845_1920
  6. Don’t judge or compare: Work with the hand I’ve got. I can play no one’s life but my own. Woulda, shoulda, coulda will get me nowhere. All I can do is make a plan from this point forward with the real world, not the one in my head.meditation-1009307_1920
  7. Create a plan and put it into action. I feel more in control when there are steps I can take. Figure out what I can do right now and do at least one thing. head-1345064_1920
  8. Have a way to remind myself of all that I have and can accomplish. Have this ready before, prepared when I feel good and confident. Create a Victory Deck of index cards, each with something on it that I’m proud I’ve accomplished. Remembering this when doubt has its claws in me will never work. opposites-680065_1920
  9. Change something small physically into a confident gesture. Whether that is the way I walk, my posture or my facial expressions, changing something small about myself into something more confident can set off a chain reaction. positive-954797_1920
  10. Go do something I know will build my confidence. Whether it is an activity, a hobby, a game, cook some food. Just do something that makes me feel confident. It can even be just putting on a piece of clothing that makes me feel stronger or better. motivation-1388479_1280

So there’s my 10 step chain that I use to make darker times of self-doubt better. No supernatural shifters or vicious vampires required. Just active steps to chase away my internal ghosts. So, dear Dreamers, what’s yours? I would love to learn how to be stronger and better and you may just have my clue. What works for you?

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Midnight in the Garden of Urban Fantasy

Hi there, Dark Dreamers,

I hope everyone had a fun Mother’s Day and is enjoying this Spring. Both of these events collided yesterday for me into a day of being pampered by my boys and planting my veggie and fruit gardens for this year under a beautiful sky. It was nothing short of glorious.

This is my third year of growing fruits and vegetables at home. Over time I’ve learned that I knew nothing that first year, but I’m getting better at it. In the first year, my eyes got much bigger than my talent. I figured my plants would barely grow or produce, so I filled my garden. To my surprise it did grow, but now my inexperience had created a jungle monstrosity where tomatoes and cucumbers twined together until you didn’t know where one stopped and the other started. They grew through my fence until our neighbors also had veggies. Basil and peppers grew for their lives, but were eventually choked out by the larger plants. I was able to can a great deal of delicious food to save and use during the winter and the rest of the year, but so much rotted and was wasted.

The next year, I learned from my mistakes. I put in two extra beds and made more space. I dedicated one whole bed to nothing but strawberries and planted two apple and one pear tree. I went down by a third on my tomato plants, planting them far away from the cucumbers and then, let everything grow. My success was greater, but the tomatoes still managed to grow so big that we couldn’t reach the middle. The cucumbers, without the tomatoes to grow on, didn’t thrive. I also tried new plants like corn and watermelon. There was a lot to learn. I cut back my strawberries and didn’t let them flower, like the experts told me to, and did the same with the apples. Again, I had an enormous tomato yield, but my inexperience led me to not much else, as I didn’t understand the right care for each. Also Japanese Beatles ate all the leaves off my trees.

This year, I’m at it again. With planting and growing, everything I’ve learned has led to many changes. I now have my herbs in gutter gardens where they can thrive and not compete. I have half the tomato plants I had the first year with cages and spacing that allows me to reach from all sides. I have much more room for my other plants and am even trying some new ones that don’t need so much space. I switched how I feed and water them. Finally, I got to let my apples and strawberries blossom. And we sprayed them with a natural oil that is supposed to keep the beetles at bay. It is still early in the season, but there is already something for me to feel proud and excited about. The very first apples are forming on my trees. On both the Honeycrisp and the Golden Delicious apple trees, baby fruit is happily growing. We will have to see how my work goes as the seasons turn, but so far so good.

20160508_125011

How do you like them apples?

This got me thinking about writing. Often my students and even other writer friends (and sometimes even I) believe that we have to be a success out of the gate or we’re just “not writers”. Not our game. Not our bag. Even going through all the drafting and revisions we talk about, sometimes we have to learn more to become the writer we want to be. My first attempts at writing were entertaining and decent ideas, but the execution was not good. I didn’t know enough yet. My craft was still forming. But now, year-by-year, word-by-word, I get better. As I’ve been working on the next book in the American Scions series, I am hit by the fact of how much better it is than the first. Don’t get me wrong, I worked long and hard on the first, but I am constantly learning to be a better writer, just like I’m learning to become a better gardener.

That leads us to this week’s question: What in your life do you do and enjoy, but are learning how to do it better each time? What’s growing in your garden?


Seeing the Wind in Revisions

Happy Spring Day, Dark Dreamers,

“I have always maintained that if you looked closely enough you could see the wind—the dim, hardly-made-out, fine debris fleeing high in the air.” Stewart Edward White painted this lovely concept in his book The Mountains. I have loved this light and movement filled portrayal. As I tell my students all the time, write your soul so your audience feels it. That’s what descriptions are. In dark urban fantasy, that’s doubly important as you may be describing a creature no one has met, such as vampires, scions, shifters or ghosts, or an action no audience member has ever, hopefully, experienced, such as having their blood slowly drained from their body or the shifting of their bones and muscles as they become an animal. What senses will engage the most to share the event with the reader? When does detail and description become too much?

But as we’ve discussed here before, very rarely will we hit the artificial obvious images perfectly the first time on the first draft. Try as we may, we have to collect that sand first, before making the castle of our masterpiece. We need to revise and clean and shape until our blood splatters just so, and a kiss captures just the right breath, and the monster’s eyes are just the right shade of hate. If we can’t see it, they won’t feel it. But something happens when we see the wind, we forget to write the world it flows in.

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And the blood flowed and covered everything like a great big red bloody mess…yes, poetry.

What I mean by this is often as writers we can get so fixated on describing the details of the scene, we often simply assume our readers can see the rest of the world as clearly as we can. This doesn’t just limit itself to the physical description of a place or a person, but also the internal workings of characters as well. Why is a character reacting or feeling? What clues can we give our audience? The importance here is our readers often will empathize with our characters if they can believe and feel their motivations and emotions. But that has to be there. On both physical and emotional cues, and that can be hard for an author to spot the lack of both in drafting and revising.

We always see the wind, because we are so intimate with the voices in our heads and the story we’re stitching. We love our baby masterpiece in the making. It’s hard to see their faults or the missing gaps in our writing because our brain autocorrects not only our grammar when we read it, but also the continuity and motivational gaps since it already knows that whether it’s on the paper or not. We see the wind because we gave it life, but often it stays in our eyes and our heads and never makes it to the paper. Our poor audiences, not being psychic and all, has no idea what’s left in our head and is at the mercy of the scraps thrown onto the paper.

This is true not only for fiction writing but also academic writing for my students, memo writing in the office, proposal writing for the government. Writing is writing, for ill or for good. And the best resource stay true for every one of them: other people. People will cheerlead you when you are dragging, kick you in the butt when you need it and be an extra set of eyes and brain for your words. Once they can describe the wind the way you can, then you know you really have something.

I love my critique group who does all of the above for me. They workshop everything from a barely formed idea to a fully written scene. But my best secret weapon is my husband, who is also a writer. We try to perfect each other’s work and point out when the wind is a bit lacking. Recently a local reporter wrote about how we put this idea to use. Here’s a link to that article: Frederick News Post Article

So, my question to you, Dark Dreamers, is who or what is your secret weapon to make you better in what you do?


I’m Ready for my Close Up, Mr. Vampire

Good Morning, Dark Dreamers,

Recently, I have had the exciting opportunity to be interviewed, not just by wonderful bloggers online, but in front of the scary, scary camera. It even went out over TV and people let me know they saw me. Frederick Community College, the same location who hosted the amazing launch for my debut new adult novel, OF SCIONS AND MEN, also asked me to come in for a face-to-face interview not only on being an author but also on my writing process. This was a fun time, even if being scene on film is a daunting task for me, and one not often given to urban fantasy fiction writers. We spoke about many aspects of writing. Problems doing research created between TSA and myself. Vampires, shifters and mediums and how to create their consistent magic in my world. The birds and the bees: where crazy, dark ideas come from. Oh, and I even dropped a big hint of some stuff to look forward to in book 2, THE SCIONS OF WRATH.

Here are a few links to the interview.

This one is the short version that only focuses on the writing process:

But, if you want all those juicy details I mentioned above, here’s the link to the full interview:

 

Those are not the only fun videos I have for you, Dreamers. There is also a video of me reading part of the first chapter from OF SCIONS AND MEN at the book launch.

 

In honor of interviews, question and answer sessions, and getting to know each other better, Dark Dreamers, I leave you with a challenge today. There are many times I wish I could go see an author in person, but never get the chance to. I read and want to ask questions. The magic of the internet makes this so much easier now. Ask me one question that you want to know the answer to in the comments section, and I will answer you honestly. It can be about me, or the books (without major spoilers), teaching or writing. Fun, funny, serious, witty, any of the above. What do you want to know?


Book Signing: Tips I Learned

Hey Dark Dreamers,

Recently I had my first book signing for my debut new adult dark urban fantasy, OF SCIONS AND MEN. It’s a huge milestone in any writer’s lifetime, but it also came with its own set of nerves, concerns and worries. I did some research, talked to fellow authors and prepared. This helped make my special day the success and fun event it was. So here are the top twelve tips I learned on how to have a successful book signing.

  1. A scratch pad is your friend. I can’t express this strongly enough. Riley, Rily, Reily, Reilly, Ryli. Susie, Susi, Suzy, Suzi. Yep, people are pretty particular about their names. Who can blame them? Especially when you are putting this permanently on an object they have paid for and you want them to treasure. Nothing will make your reader squint and frown at your book faster than seeing their name misspelled every time they open it. When I signed, I had paper beside me and no matter who it was, how common their name was or whether I knew them or not, I would write their name first on the scratch paper and okay it. Even if I knew them, I would recheck because your nerves will create mistakes as fast as anything else. Bastardizing an old adage, check twice, sign once.
  2. pen-1215436_1920Your new best friend
  3. Writing tools to last a lifetime. Choosing what to write with is important. These wonderful patrons have come to see you, bought your manifesto, and care enough to want your chicken scratch signature on it, so time to make sure your pen choice doesn’t mess everything up. I ended up choosing a fine tipped Sharpie as others told me ball point pens tend to fade with time and no one wants that. Whatever you decide, make sure it will last the test of time and will not bleed through.
  4. pens-520013_1920And back ups upon back ups
  5. Colorize your theme. This is such a little thing that got so much attention and made the night feel well thought out. I picked a colored theme for the evening based on your material if you can. For me it was red. It holds a special meaning in my book and series, so I put little touches everywhere. It was in my outfit, my pen (red fine tipped Sharpie), my swag, the flyers and marketing materials, the food for the evening (Strawberries and grapes), etc. It doesn’t take much effort, but it does require some forethought. People commented on it repeatedly and enjoyed it.
  6. tomatoes-1220774_1920Which tomato goes with post-apocalypse?
  7. Pick your message and be consistent. I decided what I was going to use as my standard message beforehand, and that let me start off with confidence from the very first one. I chose to use “For” instead of “To” as it felt less like a Christmas gift to me that way and more personal, but you need to fit your style. This is especially important if there are two or more friends or family members who are getting books signed together. You can personalize for the individual, but make that personalization very different from your standard message, which should be decided on before the event, so you can write quickly. But you don’t want two friends looking at your John Hancock and wondering, “Well, why does she get, ‘Very best wishes’, and I only got, ‘Best Wishes’? We don’t need any golden apples thrown into the middle of your signing.
  8. robot-707219_1280Cause that worked out for everyone.
  9. Practice, practice, practice. Yep, even for this pinnacle moment, you need to do prep and practice. Make sure your signature and messages are legible. On top of that, make sure you know where in your book you want to sign and that it will all fit there.
  10. writing-1055085_1920Well, no one can read that one.
  11. Swag extras. We all love handing out our personalized swag, but keep some paper swag around for extras. Not everyone may buy your book immediately, but still want to be a part of the fun. I signed bookmarks and posters for students who weren’t getting the book, and they were so excited. Also, it means they keep your info for potential later sales.
  12. Proof2My actual pens/badges- people loved them
  13. A day that will live in infamy. Okay, I’m going to be honest. I had every intention of doing this one, but failed utterly in the moment, but it is still a good idea. Somewhere around your signature put the date. Having multiple signings, people can get a real kick from this one. Next time I will remember as people asked about it later. Not a requirement, but a good thought.
  14. calendar-159098_1280A time to remember…next time
  15. Get into the trenches of marketing. You want your event to be a success, so stay active and make it so. Work with your publisher to release a press kit or create one on your own, especially for self-pub authors. Work with the signing location to work with their marketing. Don’t skimp on flyers or pictures for these kits and make sure you have both hard and electronic formats to use all available resources. Go out and press the flesh of people around the area to hang up and get the word out personally. Use social media event pages and stay active on them. Also remember most of these marketing teams are very busy, you may need to take the reins a bit to make sure everything is set and done. I had many meetings with coordinators and marketers to make this event the success it was. If you sit back and just hope they will come, they probably won’t.
  16. PosterWho could pass that up?
  17. Introductions and conclusions. Figure out and discuss with the people involved how the event is going to kick off. Is someone going to make an announcement? Is someone going to introduce you? Are you doing a reading to gather people and interest? Will you be answering questions? Who’s going to tell people how to buy the book in the space and where to line up? Don’t stumbled into the start of your event, kick it off and people will get more excited and want to be a part of it.
  18. trumpeters-921709_1280My announcers…next time
  19. Smile! Make sure you have a way for this day to be recorded. Sometimes the event or marketing will send someone to take pictures and record. If not, get someone to do it for you. You will want to remember this and it is great to show people afterward to make them want to be a part of the fun next time.
  20. 20160222_184757If you look closely, you can see a photographer has caught the videographer in the wild.
  21. Remember those who helped make this event a reality! All this work and prep is worth it. But when it’s done, be sure to send thank you notes to everyone who helped make it so.
  22. banner-1186625_1920So many people to thank…the music is definitely going to play me off.
  23. Have fun! Relax and enjoy all it has to offer. You’ve earned it.
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And if you’re like me, this will include margaritas.


Let’s Talk about LOVE in Urban Fantasy and other Genres

Hey, Dark Dreamers,
Start this weekend off right, let’s talk love…and other emotions in writing. Whether it’s new adult, young adult, adult. Or vampire love, shifter love, ghostly medium love or you know, human love. Urban Fantasy or just everyday kinky fantasy, everyone’s heart needs to beat  faster for the one they love. Join me on twitter at #WO2016 Starts at 5EST.
Love is in the Air

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Raise your glass, Dark Dreamers,

I have always been a lover of the dark. Call it the New Orleans in me. But that doesn’t mean that it was all vampires and ghosts all the time. As I child I can remember watching the show Cheers with my mom. Everyone would smile, both on and off screen, whenever Norm would walk in and the bar would erupt with “NORM!” That sense of belonging and the village coming together, even in the heart of the big city, warms even the most distant heart on a cold Boston night. Isn’t that right, Dr. Frasier? In New Orleans, a big city in its own right, people are extremely loyal to our regular spots. The holes in the wall that become a part of home. It’s why we loved the Saints even when they were the Ain’ts and a lot of chains have so much trouble staying alive. I still don’t think the city has forgiven Rite Aid for taking over the K&B spot when I was a kid.

Being a true child of my hometown, I love finding my spots. Plus, once I’ve found them, I stick to them even way up here in the frozen north of Maryland. Today, my Cheers isn’t a bar. My favorite routine spot is a little hole in the wall Greek restaurant: Greek Aroma. This place drew me in because it is amazing. For such a small venue, they serve the freshest and cleanest food. I have brought people in from out of town there all the time, not to mention the locals, and everyone loves the food. But for me, it’s more than that. Good food is of course key to any successful restaurant (and this place is successful with people there waiting from open through all afternoon) but what made this my place, my regular place, is the people. The people there are so friendly. Especially the main manager, her smile could power a city and her open and welcoming nature makes you feel at home even on the roughest of days. The combo of the two…they had me at gyro.

This is a job for a Super Gyro. Comes with his own cape.

This is a job for a Super Gyro. Comes with his own cape.

Here, I get to feel that warmth deep inside when I walk in and am greeted with cries of recognition. Often, my order is put in before I ever make it to the counter. I may never be rich and famous, but for this one place to remember me from the hundreds that eat there every day. I want to go back for that as much as the food.

But this got me thinking about routine. People each have their own places. They may not have “Norm” moments, but a place they make a part of their everyday lives, giving them that same sense of comfort and belonging. It could be a coffee house or a restaurant or the gym where other “strangers” comment on your progress and keep you going on the hard motivation days. We are social creatures (even the introverts) and thus even if it is just a person or two, we enjoy a momentary easy connection.

So why do so few written characters have these places. Where does Bruce Wayne stop for coffee on the way to Wayne Enterprises after a long night of vigilantism? Does Jean Grey have a quiet bar she goes to when Cyclops is just being too much of a jerk? We see regular hangouts in sit coms because it’s easier for set design, but what about in books for character design. The few times I’ve seen it in books, a character having a “place” (not their job space or their home space) where they felt safe, really made that character much stronger to me.

Thus, a new space in my book world is born. They say don’t piss off a writer, or they’ll kill you in their book. The reverse is also true. One of the highest honors a writer can give someone is to write them well in their book. So, Greek Aroma, my place, has inspired me to create such a space in my series. Rowan has just developed a taste for Greek.

Image courtesy of Greek Aroma


Our First Writing Wednesdays

Dear Dark Dreamers,

These last few months I have been a part of a talented group of authors who all have books coming out in 2016. All are either new adult or young adult, and we write in everything from dark urban fantasy to romance to thrillers. These people are as amazing as their upcoming books. Together we are pushing each other to be greater and get more done by blog hopping once a week. Basically every Wednesday, we’ll post what we’ve been doing writing or publishing-wise during the week, anything we’ve learned, and what we hope to get done in the next week. It’s just a fun way to keep on track with writing goals week-to-week and push for more.

This week has been amazingly productive and busy.

1st– For the last few weeks the publisher and I have been working like crazy artistic bees on cover ideas for Book One of The American Scion series, OF SCIONS AND MEN. We’ve decided to push the envelope and not do a traditional style cover. As of the end of last week, we have settled on concept art, and it’s off in the hands of an exceptionally talented artist. I now know who the artist is. I cannot wait to share this amazing idea and work with the rest of you.

2nd– I am hard at work on Book Two of The American Scion series, THE SCIONS OF WRATH. So far I’ve written about 10k words this week. So, it’s going well and my structure is shaping up well. I was having some trouble with chaptering my inciting event chapters. But I lucked out and this week was my critique group’s meeting. Not only did I get some great suggestions, I also seem to have made some fellow writers white-knuckle as they read the events of this chapter. So, yay!

I’ve gotten a lot done, but I’ve got to push for more. Time to crack the whip, and I’ll hope you’ll all join in.

Yes, Readers, may I have another.

Yes, Readers, may I have another.

From now to next Wednesday, I want to get another 10-15k written. Also, I want to get some more marketing ideas under my belt and set up. This is the part I need to learn the most about. It’s a strange new world, and I need to jump in educated but with both feet.

Image courtesy of  Jeroen van Oostrom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


I’m here to Break Rules and Chew Bubblegum

And I’m all out of bubblegum.

We’ve all been there. In fact we’ve done it all our lives. “No, mom, I can’t do my homework until I clean my room.” “Honey, there’s no way I can do the taxes until all these dishes are done.” “There is no way I can go out and save Gotham with this spot on my cape.” We’ve all be there.

Dun Dun Da-oops. I hate laundry day.

Dun Dun Da-oops. I hate laundry day.

That point where the mess we’ve been living in, no matter how small or great, suddenly become unbearable and we must remedy this situation NOW. Usually at that exact moment when something even more important comes along.

This phenomenon of distracted productivity has led to some of the best and most effective outcomes of my life. That guilty pleasure of breaking the rules of what I should be doing now with the rationalized justification of “but I’m doing something that just HAS to be done” mixes together to create a beautiful synergy. Without which we would never have the clean rooms our mothers loved so much.

Or the clean manuscripts. Yep you knew I was going to make this about writing somehow. In writing people are always setting up great lists of how to write and create the perfect manuscript. I read these and try to take the great advice to heart. One of the biggest and most often quoted of these tips of writing is don’t break your momentum. Save your editing and revising for where it belongs, after your first draft is completed. The concept is that the more we put on the brakes to read and re-read what we’ve already written in an attempt to make it perfect the first time around, the less likely we are to finish it. We get bogged down in the first fifty pages doing them over and over and thus lose motivation and momentum to ever finish the last fifty. Every stop, every backtrack makes every restart that much slower and harder to accomplish.

And I believe in this tip. I use it and even teach it to my students in class. I put up a big picture of the Nike swoop and tell them “Just do it.” Just write and get the draft out without censorship or revising. Don’t break the momentum and writing become a lot easier.

Then we come to the rule breaking part. This last month I’ve been working on book 2, The Scions of Wrath, of the American Scion series. I have my beautiful research and outline to work from. I’m set and ready to just push through this manuscript. I’m even really excited because there’s so much happening in this book the readers can really sink their teeth into. But the first thirty pages were really bugging me. They came out far longer than I intended. They were pushing the inciting event way too late in the book. And as I kept sitting down to write the inciting event scene, one of the most important in any book, I would stare at the screen and worry and fret over those overly long first thirty pages. It was distracting to the point of debilitating.

And then I remembered cleaning my room before doing homework. It was a sneaky little trick to put off the inevitable, but it worked and in the end I had a clean room and completed homework. So yesterday I sat down and revised the first thirty pages making them much more concise and punchy. And it worked. I not only feel better about where they are but also feel great about writing the next scene and getting this bad boy rolling into hell, for my characters at least.

So there it is. I’m a teacher of rules and methods, and I’ve gone a broke a big one. And it felt great. As writers we need to listen to the rules and tips and trick to know not only when to follow them to make a great book, but also when to break them to make it all come together.

Image courtesy of  Jeroen van Oostrom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Wife, Mother…Writer?

Yep, I’m all three. On a good day, the three meld into this gorgeous dance of inspiration and productivity. On a bad day, they crash into a glass of wine.

Here's to a more sane tomorrow or the apocalypse, either ends the hell that was today.

Here’s to a more sane tomorrow or the apocalypse, either ends the hell that was today.

Many friends and colleagues have asked me how I manage all three, and I wish there was some great sage wisdom I could impart to enlighten the masses and stamp on a tee-shirt. So far, the best I’ve got is “Hold on, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” I make it work by sheer force of will and an unhealthy dose of insomnia. But that doesn’t get things done. To get things done, I’ve had to utilize some very unsexy skills like extreme time management and using my wait time. These two plans have given me far more writing time than I could otherwise get. Adding the fact that my husband J.P. Sloan is also a worker by day and writer by night, we have double trouble with time management allowing us time to write. We both have to schedule time to write, usually right after our 7 year old goes to bed around 8-8:30. It is even how I’m writing this blog post right now. Scheduling a “working writing time” not only makes sure we can get it done without trying to hit the “I’m too tired button” in our lives, but also helps train our brains that during this time our writing brain needs to be active. I’d heard that from authors before, but didn’t really believe it until I started using it. Our brains feel like they actively switch to a different mode and the words flow much easier. But that only gives an hour or so a day; far from the time needed to be a real writer on a large scale.

So in my busy wife, mother, teacher life, my writing time also has to use that under-utilized section of everyone’s schedule called “wait time”. Wait times are those points in our day when we know we can’t travel to do anything else and we know we are just going to have to sit there and do nothing. This could be in-between two meetings or classes. Or my personal favorite, the doctor/dentist office. As we all know, when we go to the doctor they always see us immediately. NOT. We have to wait and wait, often for much longer than we would like. Usually the only options during this wait time is to watch their interoffice TV, stare at the cracks in the wall or read three year old magazines, again. But we know this time is coming. If we plan for it we can use it to get stuff done and thus free up time for later. So, when I look at my schedule and realize there’s some wait time in my day, I make sure my book stuff is with me and bang out a word count. Now I’m less frustrated with the wait and have time to spend with my family later and not feel guilty.

But guilt and family time are two big obstacles in the busy writing momma’s life. I need to make sure my son is feeling loved and supported. I need to be there for his events and celebrate and grow with him. I am not willing to sacrifice my son and family to my writing, not very PC and Woman’s lib, but there it is. But I’m also finding a balance and a pride from my writing as well. Especially as I watch my son. My guilt has eased as I watch him take more and more interest in writing and writing well from watching his father and I work. He is only in second grade but has already won two writing contests for his age group and school. For his martial arts belt tests he has to write an essay at each level and each time his is singled out for praise. He sees our dedication and love of writing, and instead of resenting it, he wants to work on his writing as well. He is already hoping to be published one day and working to that end.

And that came from balancing being a wife, mother and writer. It is not only my manuscripts that benefit from my dedication, but my son as well. Keeping this going takes a lot of effort, but each smile and success keeps me going and keeps the fight worth it.

So no great sage advice here. Just a reminder that we influence those little ones. It is not just about giving or taking time, but also showing them when actions are worth more. For them we walk the tight rope every day. If we show them cord, they may just decide to walk it with us.

If you want to read from other authors on balancing parenthood and writing, find them on Sharon Bayliss’s Blog Hop below.

1.

Sharon Bayliss

2.

Balancing Act

3.

James Wymore

4.

Amy Bearce, On the Journey Blog

5.

Clare Dugmore Writes

6.

Missy Shelton Belote, Author

7.

J. P. Sloan’s Fistful of Fiction

8.

Black Cat Blog

9.

Jessika Fleck, Writer

10.

Courtney Sloan’s Dark Draftings

11.

Julie Coulter Bellon

12.

Katie’s Stories

13.

Kids, Writing, and Why I Quit Sleeping

14.

Eliza Tilton

15.

Andrea Berthot, YA Author

16.

Kate Foster, Writer

17.

The Unspeakable Horror of the Literary Life

18.

Kimberly Ito – Author of Fiction

19.

Kristen Terrette, Smiling in the Chaos

20.

Kimber Leigh Wheaton

21.

Vicki Keire Writes

22.

Jennifer Tressen

23.

Live, Love, Laugh

24.

Christine Rains

25.

Shelli Proffitt Howells – A*Musings

26.

Alex Taylor – Author

27.

Treefall Writing