Hi everyone, Debra Elise here. I write contemporary and romantic suspense and my debut novel, Saving Maverick, a sports romance, just released on April 4th. (pssst, there’s a giveaway link at the end of this post in celebration of its debut.) My good friend, Asa Maria Bradley, Ms. Double Rita Nominee, and my favorite Viking Warrior author, is taking this month off to concentrate on her hand waving and acceptance speech writing. She graciously offered me her spot on SJP this month. Who was I to turn her down? Thank you, Asa!
So, I love this month’s topic, Re-vamping your New Year’s Resolution(s): Checking in with your goals, because really I love setting goals, making awesome graphics to go along with them (see below) and then forgetting them until five, six months down the road when I suddenly remember oh yeah, I should have added this or that or, how could I have forgotten about wanting to try pilates?
However, since I’ve been pursuing a writing career, I’ve been a bit better at the follow through. But, and this is a BIG but, this year I didn’t put in anything pertaining to my non-writing life on my list of goals. And I should have. Not the usual you know loose ten pounds in a month or learn a foreign language; although I’d love to do both. No, what I should have been paying attention to all along—balance. Specifically, how I was going to achieve it in all areas of my life.
Home and work balance may be easy for some, but when your home is also where you work, the logistics become wonky. For me I was comfortable in my many hats, wife, mom, chef, laundress, dog walker, chauffer, chief bottle washer and monster-under-the-bed-catcher, and be able to have a clear goal in mind for each. But this new hat, the one where I’m an honest-to-goodness professional writer who now has contracts and deadlines; now that’s tricky.
I’d somehow fooled myself into thinking working from home would be a piece of cake (or a sour cream lemon pie-yum). This year what I failed to take into account was that in order to achieve the goals I’d set for myself as a writer, it would be next to impossible if I didn’t draw a line in the sand, hallway or door to my office and not let my “home” life intrude.
I wish I’d been better at structuring my time between work and non-work time and giving myself a break, figuratively. I now have to choose between time with family, friends and dedicate time to my job. It also became harder to view my writing as a job when I could wear yoga pants, go without makeup and walk twenty feet from the coffee pot to my office chair. Lines blurred, doors remained opened and children didn’t see me as anything other than a food source and stain-getter-outer.
A mere two months into 2016 push came to shove and my well thought out work goals became unattainable. I’d begun to put my writing second and sometimes third in line on a daily basis thinking that I could somehow make that lost time up. But what happened in the end was that I had to scramble to finish my second book to meet my deadline. I’d once had ample time to work on it had I not treated it like a hobby instead of my career and hopefully one day, a college tuition revenue stream.
Once the big, bright light bulb went off, I set myself some new goals and scheduled sanity breaks and a concrete writing schedule to follow. Meaning my home office is where I work. From ten am until I pick up the kids in the afternoon, and if I had to step away from it, I would still need to meet my daily word count after the kids were in bed. And I need to do all the other life stuff, outside of work hours. Just like I did when I had an office across town to go to. So far it’s worked; for one week (last week). This week I’m on a business trip. And next week? My planner is all set with clear goals for each day. Balance scheduled—work and non-work hours.
How have YOU been doing with your 2016 goals? Good, not so good, or I never set goals because they drive me crazy?
Thank you for reading!
Maverick Jansen and Kelsey Sullivan fall into a complicated game of PR strategy by day and searing passion by night where they both find a new meaning to fast and hard.
He needs someone like her …
Rand ‘Maverick’ Jansen has what it takes to be the star pitcher of the Idaho Outlaws—talent, talent and more talent. Trouble is, since his younger brother’s death in a car wreck, a mysterious ‘injury’ to Mav’s throwing arm has him sidelined. And trying to find solace in a series of all-too public drunken parties isn’t aiding his cause with the league, or the team’s owner. If Mav doesn’t accept help to work out his grief and repair his reputation, he may end up in the dugout for good. He just didn’t expect that help to come from a gorgeous little spitfire in sexy stiletto heels.
She needs to stay far away from guys like him …
Kelsey Sullivan is a publicist, and a good one. She’s not a big fan of bad boy baseball players. But when the owner of the Outlaws, a close friend, asks her to take his star pitcher from media strike out to home run, she has to say yes. But she’d rather eat her favorite Chanel purse. Mav Jansen is everything she’s spent her adult life staying far, far away from—a sports celebrity who seems to consider the world his personal playground. She just didn’t expect him to be quite so gorgeous and irresistible.
When life throws them a curve ball, is it too late to learn that love can save them both?
Saving Maverick is available at these retailers:
Debra Elise lives with her husband and their two sons in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She loves to read, nap, write, and watches entirely too much T.V. (Blacklist and Mr. Robot are two of her current obsessions). She also enjoys hanging out with other author-type individuals and teasing her three ‘boys’ into displaying their killer smiles. Most days find her carpooling, avoiding laundry and daydreaming about her characters and how to make them come alive for her readers.
The older I get, the faster time flies by. Thankfully, this post isn’t about bygone years, plans, and everything I haven’t yet done. It’s about my resolutions for 2016. This brand new year of … oh what the hell… three and a half months have passed and I’m still not setting the world on fire with ambition.
Which is okay. I’m doing abundance resolutions this year: actions that bring me joy.
- Drink coffee from a rainbow unicorn mug every morning (Elwood!). CHECK.
- Send GREAT cards. Not just birthdays, all occasions. E-cards, mailed cards, handmade cards, this year I’ve resolved to show others how much I care for them. With cards. CHECK.
- Sip exquisite tea every day. Chocolate mints, jasmines, bergamots and chamomiles. I began the year with an excellent stash and found some new ones along the way, too. Yet the daily ritual of tea I started back in January has slipped to every few days, or once a week. The tea resolution is going the way of an abandoned gym membership. UH-OH.
Simple goals, not necessarily creative ones. Unlike other years, 2016 is not a year of high individual creativity. It’s about a community effort and using the storytelling skills I’ve been working on for the last 15 years in a new form. In the meantime, I raise my rainbow unicorn mug (filled with tea maybe?) to all who are tackling their 2016 resolutions with gusto. When you arrive, let me know. I’d love to send you a congratulatory card!
Guess who is most of a week late with her post?! ME!
Which is a perfect lead-in to this month’s topic at See Jane Publish: checking in with our New Year’s Resolutions now that we’re in 2016:Q2.
Remember those resolutions? They were made waaaaaay back in the early days of 2016, when the calendar was young and hope sprang eternal. Springing like a delicate fern uncurling from the mulch…
But now it is actually spring, and hope smells like the rank chicken manure we just dumped in last winter’s kitchen scraps to break it down in time for this year’s garden.
Kind of appropriate, I guess, since my 2016 goals are a rich, rotten hash of 2015’s dreams and plans, successes and failures spread thickly on the new year in an effort to grow a new crop of stories. There’s bound to be some rocky parts to dig through, chunks of broken glass to throw out (I swear our garden is sited on a combo riverbed/garbage dump), clumps of useless old roots to break up, plus tender new shoots to protect and nurture.
My goal on January 1 was to write 500,000 words in 2016. (Insert maniacal laughter here.) In January, I was on task and on target! In February, I had to hustle a little at the end of the month to meet my spreadsheet. In March… Well, anyway. Here it is, April and my writing goals are a bit behind. (Insert maniacal tears here.) But my garden is ahead!
So far this year, I:
- Released book #9 (!) of the Mating Season ~ Wolves of Angels Rest: FIGHTER
- Finished and published the first two books of the Mating Fever ~ Masters of the Flame: DRAGON FEVER and DRAGON FATE
- Packaged my first three science fiction romances into a box set, The L’Auraly Crystal Chronicles: Sheerspace Book 1-3
- Await release of book #3 of the Mating Fever ~ Masters of the Flame: DRAGON FALL
I’m pleased! I’m breathing those lily of the valley as I type this, and they are so sweet. And yet I know I have three-quarters of the year ahead of me still, full of temptations and tasks, both to be conquered.
As with the garden, laying out the garden beds and poking tiny seeds into cold earth, I’ve prepared for the writing year ahead. But I also know I’m subject to whims and weather, so who knows what’ll pop out of the ground — or my computer — later? Hopefully something that’ll feed me.😉
How are you doing on your goals? Share in comments and good luck in our next season of growth!
Obligatory shot of me and Monster Girl
Breaking News: We interrupt your day with a very special announcement from Monster Girl and Sammy…
The 2016 RWA Rita and Golden Heart nominations have just been announced and it’s with great pleasure that Jamie Brazil and I announce that our fellow Janes, Jessa Slade and Asa Maria Bradley are RITA Finalists!
Asa’s book, Viking Warrior Rising, has been nominated for best Paranormal Romance AND Best First Book!
Must Love Chainmail by Angela Quarles has been nominated for best Paranomal Romance with Jessa recognized as the book’s editor.
The RITA is the highest award of distinction in romance fiction. It’s the equivalent of the Oscars for romance authors. Winners will be announced at the 2016 RWA convention in San Diego on July 16th during the RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony. I’m going to to be in the audience during the awards ceremony, cheering for these two amazingly talented women that I am lucky to call my friends.
Please join Sammy and Monster Girl in celebrating their mothers’ professional writing achievement!
The only way to survive the crazy business of being an author, is to find amazing writer friends who support you, commiserate with you, and celebrate the triumphs with you. Jenna Night and I have been each other’s support system for a long time. We started writing about the same time, started querying about the same time, and sold our first book about the same time. (There was much celebrating!😉 ) Her amazing debut book LAST STAND RANCH just hit the shelves, and so I invited her to come and spring clean with us here on See Jane Publish this month.
Join the spring cleaning conversation in the comments below for a chance to win a signed copy of LAST STAND RANCH!
My first novel, Last Stand Ranch, is on the shelves. Even though I’m still celebrating, I feel a little bit like I normally do around noon on New Year’s Day. I’m trying to make some meaning of what’s just passed while looking to see what’s coming up next. And because my life kind of exploded around the middle of February, I’m looking at quite a mess.
But instead of confetti and streamers and popped balloons, I’m surrounded by overstuffed binders and scraps of paper covered with brilliant ideas I was afraid I would forget. (‘End of the drive.’ I found that one on a scrap under a couch cushion. What does it mean? Where was it supposed to fit into my story? Beats me.) I’ve also got pictures torn from magazines and crumpled calendar pages with varying word-count goals on them. I ‘adjust’ those a lot.
So yeah, some spring cleaning and getting organized is definitely in order. But I’ve learned over the years that being a writer is a messier gig than you’d think, so I’m less concerned with getting everything perfectly organized and more concerned with kicking a path through the junk so I can get to the next book release celebration. In hopes that it might help somebody else, I’d like to share some of the things I want to ditch and some of the things that actually served me pretty well. So, without further ado…
STUFF THAT’S GOT TO GO!
Obsessing over typos in social media. I’m late to the public social media game which makes me nervous enough to begin with. I proofread my tweets or comments, but stuff gets out there with mistakes. It’s going to happen. No more thinking about it all day long.
Believing every other author but me has everything figured out. I know better now. I’ve met lots of authors over the last year, some of them very successful, and it turns out their careers are a work-in-progress, too.
Fretting about sales trends. Enough with the predictions of the next hot genre or the next dead one and worrying about where my book fits in. I pay attention but I don’t obsess.
Short-term thinking, as in ‘this one book is going to make or break my entire career,’ is a recipe for useless stress. Long-term thinking makes more sense. Several books make a career.
Trying to match somebody else’s writing pace doesn’t help. I have to go with the writing pace I can maintain while still being happy with what I’ve written. Fast or slow, writing takes as long as it takes. Until you have a solid deadline. Then you might have to hurry up!
THINGS I’M KEEPING TO GET ME TO THE NEXT CELEBRATION.
Timed writing sprints. The first time I saw people doing these I thought they were nuts. But you know, they’re very effective for turning off the inner critic and getting past the feeling of being blocked. Twenty minutes, ready-set-go. Just write something about your story. Anything. It might take a couple of rounds, but the thread of a good idea will come through. Then you can take it and run with it.
Getting used to the idea that there’s always something more to do. I never complete my writing to-do list anymore. I put stars by the things I really have to get done today and then I do what I can.
I’m keeping my basic writing process, but trying something new with each book. This time it’s deeper characterization in the first draft. And maybe I’ll stick to my original word-count goals this time. You never know.
My spiral bound notebooks with the kittens on the cover are staying. Writing with pen on paper sometimes gets the words flowing better. And cats are cool.
And I am most definitely keeping my lunch dates with my writer friends. Even if we have to re-schedule a million times. They help keep it fun and keep me going.
Jenna Night was a finalist in Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense 2014 The Search for a Killer Voice! contest. She lives in the Inland Northwest with a house cat who appears to believe she’s a Bengal tigress. You can find her (Jenna, not the cat) at JennaNight.com, on her Facebook Page, and through her Twitter profile.
For a chance to win a signed copy of LAST STAND RANCH, please tell us your thoughts on spring cleaning in the comments below. (Winner will be picked on Sunday 3/27 at 8 pm PST.)