Kay: That’s [Art] Entertainment!

Remember this painting at the top? The scene has been reimaged at home

Jilly wrote a silver linings post on Saturday, and we were all so cheered up by it, we decided to do more. We all could use a little extra shot of happiness, right? A splash of fun? A drop of joy? Or at least, comfort. Not bad news.

So I’m pitching in today with this entertainment post, links to three things I enjoyed last week, coming to you from the art world. First off, maybe you think you can’t make art. You’d be so wrong! The Getty Museum of Los Angeles asked people to post photos of themselves recreating their favorite works of art based on objects they had at home. What they did was amazing and hilarious. Check out the results.

Think you can’t learn how to paint from a video? Donna Fenstermaker teaches painting here in northern California, and she’s posting short tutorials for her students. I love this one about how to look at color. Even if you’re not inspired to move color patches around, her voice is pretty soothing.

Finally, 20 Dutch musicians from the Rotterdam Philharmonic stayed home and played together the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. That just never gets old.

Have a good week, everyone!

 

Kay: There’s a Bug Out There

Like Elizabeth, who posted yesterday about things to do while you’re at home, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are “sheltering in place,” so we’re not leaving the house except to go to the grocery store, doctor’s office, or a job that’s described as “essential.” As grim as this might sound, it’s not that much different than my regular life, since I’m a writer and a natural homebody. And when I talk to friends and family around the country, our situation doesn’t sound that much different than what they’re doing. So we’re really all in the same boat, at least those of us who are serious about not spreading the corona virus.

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Jeanne: When the Going Gets Tough

Shell at KiawahMy elementary school gym teacher was fond of saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I have a variation on that maxim: “When the writing gets tough, writers go on retreat.”

So here I am, very near the end of what has been a really long and painful road to The Demon Wore Stilettos, Book 3 of my Touched by a Demon series. What better way to cap this thing off than to hang out on Kiawah Island, off the coast of South Carolina, with three other writers? So that’s where I spent last week.

(Sadly, they weren’t Eight Ladies, but other writing friends I’ve made along the way.)

I was seriously, truly hoping to type “The End” before we left on Sunday, but that didn’t happen. What did happen was: Continue reading

Jilly: Wonderful Wintersnight

I haven’t forgotten about the Annual Christmas Week Short Story Challenge. My holiday offering needs another 48 hours to marinade followed by a few days in the slow cooker. It should be ready by next Sunday. Hopefully it will be worth the wait 🙂 .

Today, instead, I’d like to celebrate my favorite day of the whole year.

I’m a grinch about Christmas and I find it difficult to stay awake long enough to welcome the New Year, but the winter solstice is important to me. Today, 22ndDecember, is the shortest day and longest night of the year, at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

I don’t suffer ill health in the winter months as some people do, but I’m sensitive to changes in daylight, and at some subliminal level I respond to trends and momentum. Once my subconscious notices that every day is a little lighter and longer than the one before, I start to feel energized and empowered and creative. Almost superhuman. It doesn’t matter that we’re still in winter, that the weather may be grim and the nights will be longer than the days for another three months.

I’ve learned over the years that this is my best time. I typically get ever more inspired and enthusiastic until May or June, sometimes right up to the summer solstice. Then I’m done. My Girls take a vacay for the summer and spend the fall on housekeeping and closing out projects.

Which means if I want to get the next Elan Intrigues book done, there’s no time to waste. I need a discovery draft done by the end of spring. Tomorrow I’m planning to warm up with the Short Story Challenge and then I’ll use that momentum to roll on into 2020 and Daire’s story.

Of course I’ll take the time to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, but as far as I’m concerned the best day of the year is today. Right here, right now.

Happy Wintersnight, everyone! Nothing but good times ahead 🙂 .

Are you a seasonal creature? Do you have a favorite day or time of the year?

Elizabeth: Taking a Moment for Joy and Gratitude

That headlong rush toward the end of the year, which seemed so far away back in January, is well underway.  The turkey hasn’t even been carved yet, but I’ve already seen folks posting that they have finished their Christmas shopping.  My house is still boasting its fall decorations, though I will admit I put the outdoor winter decorations up on Saturday.  Normally, decorations don’t go up until the turkey is in the oven, but this year I made an exception since rain was in the forecast.  I felt very pleased with my decision when I heard rain pelting the windows this afternoon.  Glad I decided to skip washing the car too. 🙂

Whatever you may or may not be celebrating, it’s always nice to take a moment to pause for a bit of gratitude.

  • I’m grateful to be a part of a great community of writers and to have the chance to reach out to other writers via this blog; it’s something that has certainly made me joyful.
  • I’m grateful for my recent day job promotion, which came with a fancy new title and will give me the opportunity to do some truly meaningful work; it’s something that makes me joyful (and maybe a little apprehensive).
  • Mostly, I’m grateful for family and friends who, when they don’t drive me crazy, make me joyful indeed.

So, what’s on your gratitude list?

Nancy: Because Every Story Is a Special Snowflake

Writers love to talk about writing processes. We’re pantsers, or plotters, or ultra-plotters. We follow the hero’s journey, or Lisa Cron’s story genius method, or the snowflake method (no, seriously!), or one of a thousand either guru-inspired approaches. We write chronologically. Or out of order. Or by writing all the turning points first and filling in the interstitial spaces after that. We swear by writing every day, or binge-write a few times a week or a month.

By the time we’ve spent a few years on this journey and gotten a few completed stories under our belts, most of us have discovered our own process, our unique mix story theory and project organization and time management that ultimately results in a book. And once we understand our own approach, we learn to rely on it to get us through the next story deadline, and the one after that, and…you get the idea. And that can be a wonderful thing. It’s a well-worn path that becomes a shortcut to our creativity. An annotated roadmap to get us from nascent idea rattling around inside our bizarre writer brains to full-fledged story ready to go out into the world. A comforting guide to get us through the rough spots.

Until it stops working.

While every book requires tweaks and adjustments to our approach, every now and then there’s a book that so special (yes, that’s a euphemism for PITA) that we have to throw our trusty process right out the window. And so that’s where I find myself today, with the next installment in the Harrow’s Finest Five series, Harry and Adelia’s love story.

If this ever happens to you in your creative journey–and odds are, it will–it’s important to remember it’s normal, it’s surmountable, and it’s probably even good for you. After all, what good is creativity if it’s easy and stagnant and follows that same stupid rut-filled path every time, anyway? And in case you do ever hit that wall, I’ll tell you the same thing my wise writing friends have been telling me: Continue reading

Elizabeth: There’s No Comparison

ComparisonQuote_Blog2

I came across this old post the other day and thought it was both a timely reminder and a message worth re-sharing.

It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. I’ll be heading off to RWA nationals soon and, although I’ll undoubtedly come back with a lot of useful information and a renewed commitment to my writing, it’s very likely that I’ll also come back with thoughts of “I’ll never write as many books as Author X” and “I’m not nearly as far along in my writing career as Author Y.”   It doesn’t help when I see notes from ghost-writer friends about their 10,000 word days or how they drafted out a book in a week.  Though I intellectually know better, and it tends to take the shine off my own progress, it is regrettably easy to do.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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