Nancy: Boom and Bust

Several weeks ago, I found myself in a familiar place. I was coming off a big day-job project, which had included long hours every day for the last couple of weeks to complete it. I hadn’t been able to touch my writing during that time and for weeks before that, because even when I wasn’t working quite as many hours, I was expending all my mental energy on that other job. But now that I and my team had completed that project and submitted it to the customer, I was able to reclaim my life, including my writing time. “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well,” right?

Um, no.

When last I’d communed with my writing, I’d been on a hot streak (despite that pesky novella that I’ve struggled to revise). I was writing for long hours and wracking up word counts, knowing all the while it couldn’t last. I’d signed a consulting contract. A company was going to write me a monthly check; it stood to reason at some point they’d want me to do something to earn that money. Then I got a call saying a project that was supposed to start in October was actually starting six weeks early. I went cold turkey on my writing. Turns out, by the time I finally got back to it, it had gone cold turkey on me. I had one novella and one full-length novel in need of revision, and the first act of a second full-length novel all set in the same story world. I also had the first half of my women’s fiction story waiting for completion. But when I sat down at the computer, I couldn’t get back into any of those story worlds. I’m not going to lie – some panic set in. After all, it’s only a matter of time before I get the next call about the next day-job project, and then I’ll have to go cold turkey on writing again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Continue reading

Nancy: October Accountability Thread

As Jilly mentioned in yesterday’s post, it’s already October. Autumn has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere! Like many people, I find the cool, crisp air and explosion of colorful leaves invigorating and uplifting. It gives me energy and a renewed sense of purpose. It probably even helped me get in gear to post our first Monday accountability thread on (who woulda thunk it!) the actual first Monday of the month. So I’m already doing a better job of accomplishing things in October than I did in August and September.

While Jilly and a few others shared their goals for this final quarter of the year, I’m eating a slightly smaller elephant (one bite at a time) by setting some goals for this tenth month of 2017. But first, I give you the September recap, with less success than I’d hoped to report.

September Goals

1) Finish the novella revision. You have to be as sick of seeing this goal on my list as I am. This one is a good news/bad news story. I have made progress! I can see light at the end of this seemingly never-ending revision tunnel! But I’m not done, not yet. I think there are a whole lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is fear of finishing, of letting this thing go and moving onto the next step of the process which will end in eventually releasing it into the world. It will never be perfect. It will never be as wonderful on paper/screen as it was in my head, not even close. And I’ve been having a hard time making peace with that. September was, at least, a chance to realize this and to fight through some of the harder parts of the rewrite.

2) Make my one-year writing plan. Yay, a success! I’m able to check this one off my list. And I actually have a two-year writing plan, with built-in flexibility and the prerogative to change it if necessary, but as it is, it’s a really good plan!

3) Sign up for a 6-month book coaching program. Done! However, I now won’t be starting the 6-month journey until November, but it’s all good, because that fits with my two-year writing plan.

4) Re-engage with this and other special online communities. Well, I fell short on this one, too. But I did at least get back to reading posts (most weeks), interacted with a few groups on Facebook, and I took advantage of the opportunity to connect with a few of my tribes live and in person in September.

October Goals

Out with the old goals, in with the new. Except, of course, in the case of that novella…

1) Finish the novella revision. Seriously. I’m sick of saying it; you’re sick of hearing it. Here’s hoping I officially cross this one off the list this time.

2) Finish the next 30,000 words in my WIP. This is another in the Victorian Romance series. My writing plan says I’ll release that (damn) novella and the first two full-length books in the series in 2018. This is the second of the 2018 full-length books, and after October’s 30k words, I’ll have 20k or less left to go. Even with my painfully slow revision process and all the steps that need to occur between first draft and publication, I’m dangerously close to achieving that 2018 publishing goal if I hit this October writing goal.

3) Get on a writing schedule. It doesn’t have to be rigid, and I don’t want to beat myself up if I miss the occasional writing session. But I want to get back to some good habits I once had. With the really big personal and professional obligations of the past few months behind me, this feels like the right time to do it.

That’s it. Nothing that I haven’t done before. Nothing I can’t do again, if I get my writing house in order. How about you? Tell us what goals you plan to accomplish this month as the days get shorter and cooler, and the smell of freshly-baked apple pie wafts through the air (or is that only at my house?).

Jilly: Season of Fruitfulness, 2017

It’s October already. How did that happen? What do you absolutely, definitely, non-negotiably intend to get done before the end of the year?

I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, but I do like to end the year with a feeling that I’ve achieved something, finished something, made some progress. So I usually take stock around now, at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and set myself some objectives for the next three months.

Continue reading

Nancy: September Accountability Thread

jumping-hurdles

I’m not feeling very accountable lately. Last month I was a day late with this post. This month, I’ve stretched it to a week. I’m afraid it gets worse from there. I accomplished none of my  August writing goals. And a week into September, I’m not showing much improvement. But wait! The story does get happier, I promise!

First things first, though. Here’s a brief recap of my August goals, complete with admissions of defeat.

August Goals

1) Get through All the Things for my daughter’s wedding, which HAPPENED on September 3. I should really stop there. This one I completed like a champ. I took on even more than I’d planned, Continue reading

Michille: My Spirit Animal and Creativity

Great_Blue_Heron_LandingMy creativity has been ramping up lately. And it hit me while at RWA why that is. My Spirit Animal has been crossing my path almost daily. I’ve been walking/jogging in a park with nice walking trails near my house and I see a Great Blue Heron nearly every time I’m there. I live on a farm with several water sources nearby so we have herons in our neck of the woods as well. And while at RWA in Orlando, I jogged every morning and saw two every morning. Some of you are probably thinking, “Well, Michille has gone off the rails.” And if someone had seriously uttered the words My Spirit Animal to me before I took a Jungian psychology course for my master’s degree, I would have said the same about them. But that was before . . . Continue reading

Nancy: August Accountability Thread

jumping-hurdles

It’s the first Monday of August, which means it’s time for the accountability thread! Okay, okay, you caught me. It’s Tuesday. Life intervened and I couldn’t make it by the blog on Monday, but that doesn’t mean we get out of sharing our July progress and posting our August goals. Even though some of us (ahem) might really like to skip that part about sharing July progress, or lack thereof.

First, a reminder about how this works. The first Monday of each month, we’ll invite you to share your plans and goals for the upcoming month. (Okay, yes, I keep saying Monday and today is Tuesday, but just for this month we’ll call in Monday-ish. Monday-adjacent. You get the idea.) As this is a writing blog, we’re dying to know about your writing goals, but feel free to share other life goals as well. Learning origami, taking up daily meditation, or perfecting your crow pose? Tell us what you hope to achieve by August 31st, 2017. Then be sure to come back the first Monday in September to share your progress!

I’ll go first, but only because I have no choice. Fair warning: it’s not pretty, people. Continue reading

Jilly: Hands Off

How do you handle enforced inactivity? Do you have any tips for making the most of it?

I’m more than happy to spend a few days on the sofa with my TBR pile, or working on a puzzle, or soaking in a tub of bubbles, as long as the downtime is my choice. It might be a long-scheduled holiday or a spontaneous mini-break because I’m feeling shattered—either is fine, so long as the break isn’t forced on me. When that happens, I’m not good at making the best of it.

I had a fabulous time in Orlando with Jeanne, Kay, Elizabeth, Michille and Kat. I loved brainstorming, especially playing the Damon Suede game of choosing a verb to describe each of our main characters (see Elizabeth’s post for more about this invaluable trick). I attended a few excellent workshops, heard a brilliant keynote speech from Susan Wiggs, posed for an author photo, made new friends, had a great discussion about Alexis with Jeanne’s editor, listened to a hilarious Q&A from Ilona Andrews, Gordon Andrews and Jeanine Frost, and returned to the UK tired but inspired.

After a couple of good nights’ sleep I was feeling refreshed and raring to get to work—and I couldn’t, because I’ve somehow tweaked my shoulder and it hurts like hell when I write or type. It’s my own stupid fault. Continue reading