Justine: WHEN Do the Kids Go Back To School?

overwhelmed momI’m not sure what sort of writer you are, but I’m definitely a big chunk writer. I need time to GET into my writing world and time to STAY in my writing world (preferably without interruptions).

With the kids home this summer (they’re 11 and 10), that just isn’t happening. So I’ve pretty much written off getting any substantive work done on my MS. Fortunately, their return-to-school date is August 1st (believe me, I’m counting down the days).

Instead of writing, I have been focusing on other things that are still career-centered, but make it a bit easier for me to handle interruptions switch gears.

Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula (SPF) Course

For those of you unfamiliar, Mark Dawson is a British writer who has put together some very thorough and detailed web courses on the ins and outs of self-publishing. It’s pricey and there are limited times during the year when you can sign up, but I think it’s well worth it. In addition to the typical nuts-and-bolts of self-publishing, he gives you some good tactical and strategic advice, such as about maximizing newsletter sign-up (both from your ebooks and your website), pros and cons of going narrow or wide, and launch strategies. All of his courses are one-cost-for-life, so you’re eligible for all course updates in the future.

I’m only about 25% through the course (even finding time for this — some of the modules are 30 minutes or more — has been challenging), but it’s so content-rich that I’ve set aside a separate Moleskine just for the juicy notes from this course.

Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors

I’m probably a bit far away from needing the info in this one, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to at least be prepared. What I love about this course is that he covers ads for various platforms, including Facebook, Amazon, Bookbub, Messenger ads, Facebook Live, Pinterest, and more. Again, pricey course, but everyone I know who has taken it has said it was worth the price. Particularly given that it’s one-cost-for-life, so when Amazon or FB changes their algorithms and Mark updates the course, you can view them.

More details on Mark Dawson’s courses here.

Subject Matter Research

One thing I can definitely do during the summer is read. Instead of the usual summer beach fiction thing, I’ve been reading non-fiction books relevant to future stories I want to write. For example, one book is about the Regency period, another is about the horrible hospital conditions after Waterloo, and the third is about the history of black people in England. Heavy stuff, right? But it works. If nothing else, it gets my mind thinking about how to use what I learn in the book I’m currently writing, perhaps some ideas that I can throw in as teasers for the future books, and definitely to help frame these future stories in the real-world events of the time.

So, what have you been doing this summer? Are you pool-side, steeped in steamy reads? Working on your next book? Taking a break? Traveling?


9 thoughts on “Justine: WHEN Do the Kids Go Back To School?

  1. As a fellow big-chunk writer, I can empathize. I almost never get anything done away from my writing cave and this summer has been filled with distractions that seem to require me to be somewhere else.

    Thanks to the Magic Spreadsheet my RWA Chapter has in place, I’ve been doing better than I would have expected, but late last week I realized the first 5000 words I’d written in the new book weren’t working, so I scrapped them and started again. I think the new first scene is a much better jumping off point, but it’s still not as high-action, high-energy as I’d like.

    But that’s okay. As Nora says, I can fix anything but a blank page.

  2. Congratulations on making the best use of your time while you’re busy riding heard on your kids over the summer. I’m dreaming big for what I can do after I get back to my computer, and this morning I got an email announcement of a conference I might like to go to in February in San Francisco, so easy for me to get to. We’ll see if I get that checked out. πŸ™‚

    • I’m excited for you to be healed and back to doing the things you love. I hope you’re able to attend the conference. Despite all the drama, I’m looking forward to RWA for no other reason than to be around like-minded folks.

  3. I’m re-reading old bits and pieces of one WIP, and I’ll write up index cards . . . same place I was two weeks ago, basically, except I found a whole lot more of the bits and pieces!

    This summer, I bought three tarot decks, and I’m going to explore those for story guidance. One is a Rider-Waite-Smith for just general questions. I have a deck I bought a few years back because it resonated with my Summer Bae story so well; I haven’t used it much, but I see it everyday and it reminds me I have a WIP waiting! Another one is a super-cute Housewives Tarot, which is just so charming and quirky! Very woman-based, and somewhat diverse.

    I bought a tarot with sexual themes for erotic scenes, but it turns out, it’s just not my sort of sexy. The deck has a lot of FFM trios, and just seems like it was made by, and made for, white guys. I would like a deck that focuses on couples (can be genderfluid), and diversity would be great . . . but at the very least, I don’t want it reinforcing racist tropes!! I really like the idea of using tarot as a random idea generator; we’ll have to see how it works out.

    I’m working with the reverse of your schedule! My kids are both out of the house, but I need to work and get something substantive done before my youngest comes home for summer vacation! She’ll only be here for a week, but I don’t plan to write much during that time.

    • Thank you for reminding me! I saw a book in the bookstore that inspired JK Rowling’s Harry Potter world (in Porto, Portugal) and I immediately thought of you. It’s called “Tarot for the Fiction Writer” by Paula Chaffee Scardamalia. “How 78 cards can take you from idea to publication.” I would have bought it there except the line was ridiculously long for the register and we were on a tight schedule. I hope you can find it and check it out. I’d be interested in it myself. πŸ™‚

      Enjoy your time with your daughter. And I hope you can use the tarot cards in some other way? Although I’m not sure how….

      • Thanks! I’ll look into it!

        (-: Could use the tarot cards for solitaire. Or telling my own future, but honestly, that’s such a fool’s game — do or not do. I think the cards are great for divining what I really think about things, and they are a great way to add outside input. The brain simply adds the input to the story if it’s useful, or ignores it if the input is not useful.

        LOL, I’ve always said I don’t need any more craft books, but this does sound like a lot of fun.

  4. August 1st will soon be here! And good for you, finding a productive way to use the smaller chunks of time you have right now. I also bought the Mark Dawson courses. I’ve worked my way through about half of SPF. I expect/hope to need the rest later this year, and probably some of Ads for Authors too.

    I just finished working through the developmental edits on The Seeds of Power, which I’m planning to publish later this year. I’m finding it really hard to tell whether I did a good job–I think I’m too close to it, and by the time I got to the end my brain was fried. My current To Do list is almost as long as my TBR list, but I think first I need a breather, a glass of wine, and a good book or two πŸ˜‰

    • Wine and books…also on my agenda! Glad you’re making your way through the courses. I think they’re great. I need a bigger hard drive, though, so I can download them and watch them offline. πŸ˜‰

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