Hello, world. I have not blogged for nearly 3 weeks to the day. At which point I checked into the hospital and got prepped for surgery and soon heard the doctor going on about my baby's giant head, and then I had an armful of wonderful I couldn't properly hug as I was numb due to said surgical proceedings. But it was a miraculous moment anyway.
After that, I took lotsandlotsandlots of drugs, because if I've learned anything in my colorful experience of complications followed by preterm and prolonged labor only to end in c-sections (three times; dear God I do not learn) it's that Drugs Are Our Friends and any drugs you are offered post-surgery (by qualified medical professionals) should be enthusiastically embraced. Because pain is stress and stress will slow down healing. This does not lead to any kind of coherence or brilliance but does encourage lots of sleeping, so after that I slept a lot.
Last week, the Mammoth Book of Hot Romance released in the UK, and I woke up enough to hug my author copies but not actually read them. I need to do that, though, because the lineup of writers is awesome and short story anthologies always have an interesting mix of things I didn't even know I was missing.
Now I get to choose between working on business stuff, writing, or playing with baby feet until she wakes up for her next feeding. I'll be honest with you, I'm leaning towards baby feet. But I'll try to be adult and responsible and deal with accumulated business stuff.
Hope everybody had a safe and fun 4th of July. I'm off to meet a different kind of deadline where the deliverable is a baby instead of a book. While I'm double-checking the contents of the hospital bag, I leave you with this 5 Gold Crown review for Men of Action plus a Sizzling review of Rock and a Hard Place! Looking forward to delivering more books after bringing this project to a successful conclusion.
My self-pubbed ebook Men of Action has a 5 Heart Review from Sizzling Hot Book Reviews and is up for Sizzling Read of the Month! You can vote until July 1. It makes me very happy to get the Sizzle for this book, which includes my stories from Passion: Erotic Romance for Women and Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance, as they include a range of heat levels. And it's just plain cool to get a chance to put together stories for readers who might have missed either or both in print.
Thanks to Sizzling Hot Books!
1. Take long walks. It may or may not help labor progress, but it keeps you from climbing the walls.
2. Clean the house. Again. See above.
4. Read a book. Unless it's Waiting for Godot. Or Swimmer in the Secret Sea. Skip those at a time like this.
5. Check the go-to-hospital bag again to make sure you didn't forget anything.
5 things to do on the internet to expand your real world horizons:
1. Say it in llama.
3. Learn about the
power of vulnerability with Brene Brown on TED
4. Find and then visit your local farmers' market
5. Look for new ways to cook your farmers' market haul and try one
This weekend we visited the local farmer's market, which is always interesting. This time around there was a booth full of textile crafts, handmade dolls and all sorts of beautiful things. The sights, sounds, smells, if you don't get inspired at a local market, your creativity needs life-support. We talked to a local cheesemaker and got a "tour" of the products; I was really intrigued by one cheese that is flavored with truffles but tastes like a hint of garlic. Right next to the cheese was the chocolat (where I averted my eyes), and the baked goods, where we found an incredible loaf of dark rye that would make your eyes roll up in your head if you love the traditional Russian peasant loaf style of bread.
After we got home I had to figure out what to do with the fresh rhubarb so I made a batch of rhubarb bread.
While we were out, I noticed a sign that said, "Love people. Feed them." In a fast food world, maybe we forget to sometimes slow down, think about how cheese is made, imagine ways to use fresh rhubarb before choosing one. Slowing down a little lets us feed all our senses and our creativity.
I think we need to feed our souls and those of the people we love at every opportunity, not just with food but with experiences. Writing a book can be soul food, and it pays to not try to whip out a white-bread package that could have been produced anywhere, but to let all the local sights, sounds, textures and flavors in to make it a rich and unique whole that reflects who and where it came from. When we write, we're feeding imaginations. And it starts with feeding our own.
Or, embrace your process. I've come to realize that I'm more creative/productive doing a lot of things. Because if I get stuck on one thing, I switch and keep moving forward. If I'm on one thing and I get stuck...the stuck has a lot of impact on my productivity, and is also discouraging as hell.
Which is why I've decided to be okay with writing four books at a time while reading ten.
I've also decided it's okay to have a process that's a mish-mash of planning and discovery in the moment. Sometimes you have to plan ahead. Sometimes you don't know how to plan because something hasn't been discovered yet. This thought brought to you by Candace Haven's Mozart or Beethoven? post on Genreality. I couldn't answer the question until I admitted I do it both ways. In the same book. Sometimes a scene is just there, whole-cloth. Sometimes I have to figure it out, one random and disjointed piece at a time.
While I'm at it, I've decided it's also perfectly healthy that I get all cheerful plotting fictional murders and violence.
If you've tried to change something about yourself or your process and gotten discouraged, why not just make a virtue of your vices and go with it?
Finally have a (more or less) complete playlist for Kiss of the Demon.
Breakfast at Tiffany's, Deep Blue Something
Hurt, Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash
Theme of 'Rome', Danger Mouse
I Want You, Savage Garden
Gimme Sympathy/Black Sheep/Gold Guns Girls, Metric
Fast Five Suite, Brian Tyler (from Fast Five)
Despite my hiatus, both planned and unplanned, there are 4 books close to done and thus able to come out in short order once I'm done, you know, having contractions. They are:
Kiss of the Demon
Meanwhile, music helps work out the kinks and keep the story alive.
Paperback Writer, a creativity meme! To play along, copy the list, bold the items on the list that you're already doing, cross off the ones that don't work for you, and star the ones you'd like to try.
For me, these are ALL bold. I've tried them all, and they've all helped at different points. (Rock & A Hard Place is my only collaboration, but both Sasha and I got a boost from working on our separate stories together.) And finishing things builds momentum. Your turn!
1. Make lists.
2. Carry a notebook everywhere.
3. Try free writing.
4. Get away from the computer.
5. Quit beating yourself up.
6. Take breaks.
7. Sing in the shower.
8. Drink coffee.
9. Listen to new music.
10. Be open.
11. Surround yourself with creative people.
12. Get feedback.
14. Don't give up.
15. Practice, practice, practice.
16. Allow yourself to make mistakes.
17. Go somewhere new.
18. Count your blessings.
19. Get lots of rest.
20. Take risks.
21. Break the rules.
22. Don't force it.
23. Read a page of the dictionary.
24. Create a framework.
25. Stop trying to be someone else's perfect.
26. Got an idea? Write it down.
27. Clean your workspace.
28. Have fun.
29. Finish something.
The long weekend was spent wonderfully unplugged, and then yesterday was spent celebrating a kid's birthday amid wrapping paper and noisemakers, so today is kind of Monday, and it's already Wednesday.
Things done while unplugged:
Deception Pass on Whidby Island, since the last time we were there the kids were too little to really appreciate the view. And then we generally puttered about and ate at a Greek restaurant and enjoyed the spring sunshine.
Took kids to see Kung Fu Panda 2. An excellent sequel, well worth catching on the big screen.
Puttered around Poulsbo, a nifty little town which has an always-crowded bakery called Sluy's that's worth the trip all by itself. This kind of made up for having to forego Viking Fest due to advanced pregnancy.
Visited bookstores everywhere, because summer and books go together like peanut butter and jelly.
And then it all culminated yesterday in chocolate cake and candles and singing, and since there's plenty of cake left, let the revelry continue.
Work stuff: I am incorporating changes into Red Queen's book structure and still seriously hoping the whole thing can be done before baby arrives. We'll see how that works out. I also have some file formatting issues to attend to to get Men of Action available everywhere.
Two things that have done miracles for this book's issues:
PBW's article on antagonists which made the giant lightbulb go off over my head, and writing another story in the series (Mad Stone from Rock & A Hard Place). The next time I'm banging my head against a book wall, I will remember to do two things: write a short in the same series with same characters to see what breaks loose, and ask the all-important question of my antagonist: what is the worst thing I can do to you? I've been in the habit of asking that of my protagonists, but forgot to apply it to his/her nemesis.