Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Older, Wiser and Unpublished

Life's greatest gift: Meeting your soul mate and growing old together.

Today I turned 34.

For the first time I feel old. Old in the sense that I get injured easier and take longer to recover.

In attitude. I’m far less selfish, noticeably calmer, more accepting of my place in the world and life’s limitations.

Seb pointed out a gray patch of hair on my head this summer, confirmed by a friend when I tried to deny their existence. Later Seb said the sweetest thing. “I think it’s cute.”

“Gong gray? Getting old?”

“I think it’s cute that we’re growing old together. That makes me happy.”

People always assume I’m younger than I am. I’ve got the good genes. (Thank you, Grandma.)

So now that I’ve established that I’m older and wiser – or if not wiser, older anyway (and no offense to those older than me, I’m simply embracing the word right now – letting it roll off my tongue) – Now that I’ve established this, I feel qualified to offer advice to aspiring writers.

Don’t let life pass you by!

Get the words down and keep at it. A page a day, whatever it takes.

I spent far too many years talking about becoming an author.

I put effort into other forms of written communication and if you can manage both, brilliant, just make sure the novel doesn’t take a back seat.

And now the good news – a little birthday surprise that cheered me this morning. I have started getting published under my erotica nom de plume, Louise Harvey, and had my second short piece published today at Ravenous Romance.

That’s the other gem about getting older – I don’t embarrass as easily. You heard me. I write sex stories.

 Happy Unbirthday and Write On! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Season of the Writer

This morning I woke up to a beautiful sound: Rain.

I write really well when it’s raining.

I’ve never been able to write in the summer. I think it must be due to my Alaskan upbringing where it is ingrained in you that pleasant weather comes in such a short window that you must leap through it and take in everything you can, like a bear storing up for hibernation.

I’ve got a glorious feeling– like Gene Kelly, only I’m writing in the rain.

When do you write best?

Image from Storage Geek.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Goal Setting

Now that we’re back from visiting long time Alaska friends in St. Louis, it’s time to get serious about goal setting and achieving.

I’m a great goal setter. I can set goals all day long. Follow through, that’s another matter.

I like multi-tasking goals. Why have one goal when you can have multiple? They almost always come down to three things: Write more, eat healthier and save/make more money. And they’re all connected, in a way – like pillars supporting an arch.

Eating healthier means better brain power, which leads to better output and usually means cutting out restaurant expenses and packaged goodies and, hopefully, money coming in from additional production.
Money is the key to becoming homeowners again, having property, a fruit orchard and vegetable garden. It’s security. It’s freedom. It’s time.

Always, I’m wishing for more time with my boys.

So, now that we’re back home, I’ve laid out my goals and it’s time to see them through. I have our weekly menu planned using new cookbooks from my favorite authors: Appetite For Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. The first book offers fast, filling and low fat recipes. I tried a couple before we left. Not the usual sugared and fried goodness from Isa, but I’ll adapt. Color Me V offers up antioxidant-rich, fiber-packed, color-intense meals. I have red, white, green and orange meals planned.

On the work front, I’m purple all the way and picking up my first order this morning.

On the writing front, I’m spending way too long hemming and hawing on which project to pick up. Do I edit Aurora Sky? (The opening scene needs a complete overhaul.) Do I finish where I left off (half-way in the middle) on a medieval romance novel? Do I write more short erotic pieces? Do I edit one of my historical romances and try to sell it? Do I outline my second Aurora Sky novel and get to work on it? Maybe I should sell or publish Book One first. Or should I start an entirely new novel?

I think it’s time to edit – an art in itself. I won’t have anything to sell if I keep piling up manuscripts without the final touch ups.

Red pen out, time for a bit of slash and dash on Aurora Sky. The ink marks will match the soup I’m making. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Behind the Times

I’ve always been behind on my pulp culture. Maybe it’s because we rarely watched TV growing up. I’ve (almost) always preferred books to TV and felt like I was born in the wrong time period. I’m constantly time traveling in my mind to earlier centuries.

Eventually I catch up and there are benefits – getting to watch back-to-back episodes of Friends without grueling waiting periods between seasons.

This year I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer convinced it would be the cheesiest series I’d ever clapped eyes on, but unwittingly I found myself sucked in and out of my mind when the show ended.

Which is how my Aurora Sky vampire series was born. I needed more Buffy. More snarky dialogue, dark humor and steamy byplay between a slayer and the vampire she’s incapable of killing. I wanted a girl who could kick ass, no need for a bad boy to save the day. The only saving she required was on the emotional level.

But vampires in 2011? That is so overdone and passé, right?

I wasn’t too concerned. Less than a year ago I was rolling my eyes at the vampire craze. I attended the Emerald City Romance Writer’s Conference last October where top agents and editors from New York declared that this was no passing phase.

Vampires are here to stay.

While I take industry experts on their word – the undead won’t die – I’m also aware of the shift towards werewolves and shape shifters. (Not to mention dystopian, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic.) When I think of a werewolf, I think ‘hairy’ not ‘hot’. (Except, of course, for Scott Speedman in Underworld.)

As the temptation to begin uttering, “I just don’t get it” nags on my tongue, I have to remind myself of the vampire.

I’ll get it eventually. It’ll just take me a few years longer than everyone else.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Day Job

“While one is learning one’s craft, then practicing it and hunting for an agent, then waiting for mail with the agent’s return address, one must somehow make a living. Every writer hopes, like a medieval Christian, that after his period of honorable suffering, bliss will follow as a reward. So the writer takes some miserable part-time job, or lives off his parents or spouse, and writes and prays and waits. One day, the writer tells himself, the big break will come, and his money troubles will be over.”
-         -  On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner
This is the lavender that’s grown on the island. We distill the oil and handcraft everything on San Juan. 

I have not written in eight weeks. This is a crime! A shame! When I counted back the weeks on my calendar I was horrified. I’m a writer. I write! I was knocking out 20 pages on good days. 

This eight week lapse correlated with a specific event – the start of a new job.

I swore I’d never return to retail customer service after growing up in my family’s Alaskan souvenir business… until I found myself laid off and in need of another position pronto.

The timing of the local lavender farm/shop’s ad was serendipitous, not to mention I was already a fan of the home, body and culinary line all grown organically and handcrafted on the island.

Working in the store turned out to be fun. I’ve met countless friendly (and well-behaved) visitors and made add-on sales – the most satisfying kind.

And on the subject of work, I've had to fill in for a flighty co-worker this Labor Day weekend. 
Off I go!

Maybe it’s my age (34 this month) that’s given me the confidence to approach and converse with strangers that I was lacking in my 20s. One fact remains, however. I’m an introvert and dealing with people all day sucks the life force out of me.

I remember my first writing professor, Richard Chiappone, Water of an Undetermined Depth, express the importance of the dull day job in not hampering the creative spirit. I left my job as an editorial assistant/reporter at The Anchorage Daily News when I realized I was starting to lose my joy of writing.

Being a journalist and writing fiction conflicted for me personally. No, I’m no longer using my degree, and it comes up in nearly every interview, but I’ve found somewhat of a happy balance between earning a living and pursuing my dream.

Do I fantasize about writing full time? Every day!

Photo credits: Brandy Mills, 2011.