Nope, No Stress Here!

Believing in Wishes came out last week. After a bit of a snafu at Amazon, it’s finally available. So what’s next? Edit the next book in the series? Plot out Book #3? Research marketing opportunities for this book? Am I doing enough to get it in front of readers? Toggle back and forth between my reports on KDP and my reports on Draft 2 Digital? Have I sold anything yet? What’s my Amazon ranking? Any reviews yet? Nope? Hit refresh.

But then I’m also trying to get a freelance writing business off the ground. Because, you know, steady income. A paycheck that means I get to keep self publishing. And this requires its own research, networking and lots of writing. The kids are only gone for a finite amount of time, and then chaos descends on Casa DeCuir. So work time starts…NOW! Are we stressed yet? What should I work on first? What is most important? If I spend time on X, I’m taking time away from working on Y. How do I prioritize?

My walking buddy, Luna. Carries her own poop bags – which we didn’t need this time!

Take a breath. In Believing in Wishes, Olivia gets in touch with her creative side as she spends time outdoors, in her new town. She finds inspiration in the grove behind her house. So I took a page from her book (literally), asked the dog if she’d care to join me (she wouldn’t have missed it for the world), and got out to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine.

Here’s me pretending I’m all artsy.

It’s almost November, and living in the Seattle area, a sunny day is a blessing not to be missed. When we drive from place to place, we miss a lot of what zips past our car windows. Stretching my legs (okay, at times I was being dragged), feeling the sun on my face and taking in the beauty around me was just what I needed. I left the earbuds at home. No distractions. I wanted to be open to inspiration.

Japanese Maples look AMAZING this time of year!

And I’m glad I did. I reminded myself that I have a job that allows me to be flexible. If I need to, I can write in the car. I can do edits and proofing (and have!) from a folding chair at the back of gymnastics. I can read books on craft and learning the business of freelance writing in the waiting area at piano lessons or under a cozy blanket at the end of the day. I don’t need to feel as though a giant clock is ticking down until my work day is done. And I can make one task fill two functions. Like this blog post. I’m letting the world know about my new release…AND…I’ve got new material to use in my portfolio. Bam!

It’s a…wait for it… Late Blooming Rose. Ha! Ya see what I did there? No? Then you haven’t caught up on my back list. Get reading.

Will I still get stressed? Yeah, ‘cuz that’s just me. Apparently I like taking on more than I can handle. Or maybe I’m learning just what I am capable of. I wrote a book that traditional publishing wouldn’t touch, because it has matchmaking fairies. I could have shoved it under my bed and concentrated my efforts on writing something they DID want. But I wanted it. I wanted it enough to give it life. And if I want something badly enough, I make it happen.

What’s My Motivation?

Have those of you who work outside the home ever called in and said “Sorry, just not feeling it today. I’m going to stay home and play games on Facebook all day. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.” Of course not. That would get you fired. So those of us who work from home should be subject to the same rules, albeit enforced by ourselves, rather than a boss. Right? Except writer brains don’t work like other brains. Some days (okay, in my case, weeks) the words just aren’t there. The urge to sit down and get creative is just…missing.

And because I see all these posts on Facebook about the super-productive authors with ten kajillion projects going at once, the ones who have charts and schedules for which blog post comes out on which day, and how many thousand pages they are going to edit on which book and all the new book contracts they’re signing this week…I feel guilty. I’m not working hard enough. Heck, I’m not working at all, so let’s call a spade a spade. I’m a fraud. If I’m not writing, I cannot call myself a writer.

Guilt turned to panic. I haven’t had a new release out in over a year. My readers are going to forget my name. They’ll have moved on to the next author who actually releases on a reliable schedule. Then panic to hopelessness. What’s the point? The first book in my latest trilogy has been rejected repeatedly. Why even finish the series? Does anyone really want to read this? It may be the book/series of MY heart, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is going to fall in love with it.

Writing can be a very solitary existence. And it’s easy to forget that there are others out there who might be going through the exact same thing I was struggling with. So I reached out. And it felt so good to talk with another author who knew just how I was feeling. She told me it was okay, healthy in fact, to give myself permission to take a break. To refill the creative well. She suggested I put a time limit on it, a deadline that would force me back into my chair and getting back to the business of storytelling.

I started to get excited. I thought about all the walks I was going to take with the dog, snapping pictures along the way. I thought of all the plant nurseries I was planning to visit, because something about nature and flowers is connected to my writing. I can’t explain it…it just is. I picked up a book I’d promised to read and review. I told myself that it was okay to put someone else’s book first for a change. I queued up Netflix and looked for a new bingeworthy series.

 

But while I was busy telling myself it was okay to step back, I was already feeling the stirrings of something new. And, let me tell you, the floodgates have truly opened wide. My head is full of blog post ideas, new series’ ideas, people I want to contact, publishers I want to query. I’m considering self-publishing for the first time in my writing career. This excitement — a reason to scramble out of bed in the morning and get to work — it had been missing for a long time and I was worried it would never come back. But I am so thrilled that it did. Yeah, it’s making me a little bonkers because I haven’t laid everything out in a “first this, then that” type of pattern, but I’m enjoying figuring out what fights its way to the top. Today the blog post. Tomorrow a little research, perhaps. But I’m back, baby! I’m not a fraud after all. Just a creative person who was in a bit of a slump. It happens to all of us, and it’s not the end of the world.

I Can Do This!

believeThat’s my new mantra. “I can do this!” Because I can. I learned the hard way. We found out in June that Home Depot refused to do our flooring project until we hired a contractor to put in sub-flooring (something they neglected to mention at the onset of the project). We were completely broke and out of options. A neighbor came over, took a look and said “Oh, yeah, we can totally do this.” Now I’ve used a hammer to hang a picture, but that’s about it.

12Fast forward to August. I put in my OWN subfloor. And instead of backing off and letting Home Depot take it from there, I kept going. I laid my OWN flooring. I learned how to use a few different types of power saws (what a rush!). Instead of a hammer, I got to use a nail gun – three different sized ones. I wore knee pads and measured and snapped, messed up and fixed it. I visited Home Depot for the supplies (oh, the irony!) and got good at choosing just the right lumber. I went to bed covered in paint and aching from every muscle in my body.

We still aren’t done. The landing and the stairs needs to be carpeted. I ripped up the old carpet and padding but we were hoping to find someone who knew what they were doing for this stretch and wouldn’t mind working for pizza and beer. Unfortunately, we were only able to find someone to talk me through it. And back in June, I would be terrified at the prospect. But now? Bring it on. I can do this! That’s on the agenda this weekend.

thisI had no idea that this mantra was going to carry over into my writing life. In July I went to RWA Nationals for the first time. I was scared spitless to pitch to the editor and agent I’d lined up months ago. What if they hated my story idea? It IS pretty different…for me. So I researched pitch sheets and one sheets. It was a little risky, and they might not even want to read it, but you never know until you try. But I did it. And both sessions went so well that I felt incredibly empowered. Both the editor and the agent asked for a full. I’m still waiting to hear back, but I am staying busy and not worrying about things I have no control over.

I-did-it_1Yesterday I was plotting out my next book with a friend. I realized I was staying very safe with the plot ending. It was time to step outside my comfort zone and go places I’d never had the nerve to go before. It was scary to think about, but at the same time…exciting. Now. I’m ready to take my writing to the next level. I’ve learned a lot about myself this summer. I’ve learned not to be afraid to try something new. Because, if there is one thing I’ve learned this summer, it’s that I can do this. 🙂

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The Writer’s Life

roryreading

Remember on the Gilmore Girls, how Rory always carried a book wherever she went? Had to wait for the bus? Pulled out her book. Waiting for someone to get done somewhere? Got in a chapter or two. I love that. And I subscribe to that. I try to keep a book in my purse or in my car, because you never know when you’ll get the opportunity to read for a few minutes.

brainwritingThat’s the reader me. The writer me always carries a story around as well. Except that it’s in my head. And lately, my brain is flipping back and forth between three different stories. It might sound weird if you aren’t a writer. Distracting, to say the least. But it’s really not. It’s just…me.

9scyehtqxhPart of my brain is always disengaged from my current surroundings. Sometimes that’s a tiny part, or sometimes, like when I’m nearing the end of a book, it’s huge. A part of me crying out to get back to my “other” family, the world of my own creation. I see that light at the end of the tunnel, getting bigger and brighter. A little voice whispers “You’re so close – don’t stop now!”

Last night I was at the casino, celebrating a friend’s birthday. A huge group of us were sitting at a table at the buffet and I wonder how many of them realized that in my head, I was writing. Today I have so many things on my list of chores, that it would take a miracle to be able to sit down and work on my book. But I’ll be thinking about it. Part of me will be spending the day with my characters. Because I’m SO close.

thLGSPNW5VTomorrow morning, hubby will take the kids to school. I’ll sit down with a cup of coffee (and a couple of Hershey’s kisses – don’t judge!) and breath a sigh of relief. Because I’m home. I made it through our time apart and now we can continue our journey. There are people in my life that worry about me. And that’s fine for them. Writers are a different breed. I’ve accepted that. No, I’ve embraced that. It’s what I do. It’s what I am. And I love it.

Write Faster, They Said… It Will Be Easy, They Said…

panicYou know that scene in movies where someone is staring down a long hallway and they need to get to the end of it quickly, but the faster they run, the longer it gets and the slower their steps seem to be? They might as well be walking in place. That’s how I feel, writing this current book. And the kicker is, I’m writing faster than I’ve ever written before. So why do I feel like I have nearly nothing to show for it?

blurWriters are told that if they want to stay “in the game”, they need to produce new material every few months. A new book, a novella, something to retain the interest of their readers. There are SO many authors out there and SO many books, that if you can’t keep producing something new, your readers are going to look elsewhere.

My last book came out in November. I had gotten used to deadlines, working with Crimson Romance. So this is the first time in a long time that I was on my own schedule. I started my current WIP for NaNoWriMo, in November. Sure, I got almost 35k words in, but this thing had so many problems that I threw it aside and refused to even look at it until January. Then it took me weeks to figure out what the heck was bothering me so much about it. I’m back on track, but I lost months of work time on this project.

Writer panic.

haNow I’m writing almost every day. Trying for a scene a day. Not quite NaNoWriMo word count, but productive. And then I start paying attention to all the new releases. Wait, didn’t that author have something out last month? A whole trilogy in a few months’ time? How the hell do they do that? I can’t compete with this! What’s the point? Why am I even trying?

Breathe.

Readers might not even realize the pressure that authors face to write fast, faster, fastest. Some authors rise to the challenge, stretching their writing muscles and going for it. Some go at their own pace and are happy to make any sales because they’re doing what they love. I’m that little hamster in the wheel, trying like hell to get at least three books out per year, like a good little writer hamster. I want to be noticed. I have big dreams that start with best sellers’ lists and conclude with my books being made into Hallmark TV movies. I don’t have the luxury of writing a book or two over my lifetime if I want these dreams to come true. I need to write, and I need to write often.

So what do I do? How do I take pride in accomplishment at having put in a hard days’ work? I’m currently on chapter seven, out of probably twenty. I feel like I’ve barely made a dent in the book, that there is so much to go. Yet I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing this thing since November. I know I’m good for a scene, maybe a part of another, in one good work day. I can’t squeeze out any more than that.

I’ve read the advice out there: “If you want it badly enough, you’ll make time for it.” Um… making time. But my creative brain doesn’t work like most people’s. I have peak hours of operation. My muse takes off after seven PM or so. She might come back by five AM, but she refuses to sit up all night, drinking coffee and pounding out words while the rest of the family sleeps.

cartoonwriterSo yeah, I’m panicking. I am trying to finish this book, and as much of the next in the trilogy for Nationals this July. I set a goal to sign with an agent this year. But they don’t want to read my published books. They want to know what I have for them to sell. What am I working on next. How long does it take me to produce a new book? Am I worth their time and effort? Am I? I’m trying like heck to be.

Anyone have any coping strategies? (Besides alcohol?) How do I maintain a steady pace and still produce enough books to make an agent, readers and potential editors happy? How do I do this and keep myself happy? Because what is the point of writing books for a living if you aren’t happy while doing it? Yoga? Meditation? Cute baby animal videos? How do you keep from cracking under the pressure to be more than you are?

 

Inside a Writer’s Brain

writer_brain2

Some of you are going to be able to relate, nodding your heads and going “Exactly!”. The rest of you are going to be weirded out, and probably more than a little scared. But this is what being a writer is like. We’re a bit different than most people.

twilightwritingmeme

I hear voices. No, they’re not dead people. They are very much alive – in my mind. They hold conversations that have absolutely nothing to do with me. I feel like I’m eavesdropping in my own head. And nine times out of ten, they start talking when I’m not ready to sit at the keyboard and get it all down. Usually when I’m just falling asleep or just waking up for the day. Or in the car while I’m running errands. They love to visit me in the shower.

inside-my-head-the-world-is-more-interesting

Now here’s a dilemma that is fairly recent. I have multiple projects vying to have their stories written, and they all think they should go first. I’m in the middle of book one in a new trilogy. Not only are the characters from the first book helping me write the current scene I’m working on, but they’ve jumped to other parts of the book that I’m not even ready for yet. Then there are the other two leading ladies from books two and three. They think it’s helpful to drop little tidbits about their backstories and what they’d like to see coming up in their own books. I can work with that. The other day I figured out who I would write my monthly short story (exclusive to newsletter readers) about. Yesterday was all about catching the zippy dialogue between the hero and heroine.

poem

I’m taking a course on strategic planning. I had mapped out a course of action that involved setting work hours. Okay, toss THAT out the window! I may set work hours. And I may work those hours. But this writer brain doesn’t turn off–ever. I have notebooks all over the house. In the car. A waterproof one in the shower (no joke!). I have a little notebook in a fanny pack (don’t judge!) for when I’m walking around the neighborhood or to get the kids at school and the gem of an idea strikes. Because if I don’t write it down the second it comes to me, it’s gone.

Bottom line: I feel like I’m paying rent in my own brain. It’s mine. But it’s really not. Isn’t there a saying about pets and homes? “It’s their house, they just let me live there.”

If you need me, I’ll be slaving away at my keyboard, racing to finish one book before the next one comes along. And btw, if you can relate, drop me a comment and commiserate. Because, while this is a pretty cool problem to have, it is EXHAUSTING.

MartianHeadExplodes

Always My Hero – Release Week Fun

Now available on ereaders everywhere!

Now available on ereaders everywhere!

When I announced the cover to Always My Hero, I added a description about the characters. I’ve done excerpts on a couple of other author blogs, and will be sure to promote them as soon as they are up. So today I thought I’d do something different. Here are a few fun facts about Always My Hero, and Scallop Shores in general:

1.  My original idea for the Scallop Shores series involved three books. It wasn’t supposed to be about the town, so much as it was about three best friends. Trapped in Tourist Town was the first. Always My Hero was the second and the third was a half-formed idea that never quite took shape.

2.  To get a better feel for my characters, I posted pictures on a giant whiteboard on my desk. I’m still trying to figure out the name of the actor/model that I chose for Ryan. I’m posting the picture below, and if anyone knows, PLEASE enlighten me! Bree’s character I based on Alexis Bledel, Rory Gilmore if any of you are Gilmore Girls junkies.

Ryan33.  Always My Hero is the first book I’ve ever sold BEFORE I wrote it. It’s also the book that took the shortest amount of time to write. Amazing what a deadline will do for productivity.

4.  Wynter’s Journey is a re-write of the very first book I ever wrote, about ten years ago while we were still living in San Diego and baby #1 was napping. It was never meant to be part of the Scallop Shores series.

5.  Always My Hero was started when I was pregnant with baby #2, but when morning sickness took over, all writing fell by the wayside…for a few years.

6. Next year will mark twenty years since I have lived in Maine. Holy crap! We’re heading back for a wedding this fall and that will be the first time I’ve visited in almost seven years. So all my inspiration for Scallop Shores truly comes from memory. I imagine my hometown has grown considerably and that makes me so sad.

7.  If you’re planning on attending Emerald City Writers Conference this year, I will be donating a “Scallop Shores” themed basket that will have lots of goodies from my trip to Maine. (Sorry, no actual lobster, but maybe a stuffed animal?)

8.  I hate coming up with character names, street names, business names, etc. So if you went to York High School with me, or you are just from York, Maine, see if you recognize any of the names in my books. I never use full names of anyone I actually knew. So thank you to all those who helped me get over that pesky naming hurdle.

9.  I had originally named the series “Lobster Cove”. I LOVED that name. But then my editor discovered a real town in Maine with the same name and it caused inconsistencies with my first book, Drawn to Jonah. Apparently the real Lobster Cove was a lot farther away from New York City and could not be reached in the four hours I said it took by car. Dang. So I held a contest on Facebook and chose a new name. The winner got her name listed in the acknowledgements in Drawn to Jonah. Sigh. I still miss Lobster Cove.

10.  There are several sexy new bachelors introduced in Always My Hero, leaving an opening for more books in this series. If you read the book, I’d love to know who you’d want to see getting the next Scallop Shores book.

So did you learn anything new? Did you have a question about Scallop Shores, or about writing Always My Hero that didn’t get answered? Leave it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Learning Life Lessons From My Children

reminderSometimes we get into a funk over discouraging news or things that didn’t work out exactly how we’d expected them to. Just because we aren’t kids anymore doesn’t mean we won’t pout over times that didn’t go our way. I was having one of those pity-parties-for-one when my 10 year old helped me realize there was a different way to look at the situation.

Writing is hard. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time. And that’s just to get the book out. Then add in the promoting and marketing of the book, of your brand. It seems petty to whine that it will likely be many years before I qualify for PAN, when some authors are still struggling to get that first book published. So today I am going to write myself a list to remind myself why I am grateful to be an author.gratitude

1.  I get to do what I have dreamed about since I was in 8th grade – tell my stories. I’m going to concentrate on continuing to tell them to the best of my ability and not worry about who is actually reading them.

2.  The excitement and joy that comes with a new story idea is a heady rush. It fades over time, so it’s important to remember the feeling — because it will come again — and it is amazing.

3.  I am meeting so many great people that I never would have met if it hadn’t been for being published with Crimson. And while I may never meet some of them in person, just talking with them on social media has made a huge impact in my life.

4.  I have an outlet for my weirdness. I get to be an introvert and not have to make excuses for it. I can embrace it. 😀 And there are others like me!

5.  My work clothes are whatever I happen to have on — which on most mornings is a bathrobe or pjs. How many people can say that?

6.  I do not have a work commute unless I CHOOSE to leave the house and head for the nearest Starbucks, Panera or Cafe Ladro. And this excursion would cost me maybe a ten minute drive at most.

7.  Release day. It’s like my birthday, Christmas and every holiday rolled into one. I have memorized all my books’ release dates – they are my book babies, after all.

8.  Covers. Whenever I get depressed about sales (or lack of sales), I go to my Amazon author page and look at all the pretty covers. Those are mine and no one can take them away from me.

9.  Swag. I get to design cool stuff to give away to readers. And readers LOVE free stuff. And giving stuff away makes me feel good. Giving it away in person forces me to interact with people — and that’s a very good thing.

10.  I can Google/Bing myself. How awesome is that? I have made some amazing discoveries doing internet searches of myself. 😉 Seriously. Someone made a video of one of my books and posted it on YouTube. I wouldn’t have had a clue if I hadn’t come across it on a search engine. Made. My. Friggin’. Month!

*** And most of all, I am grateful for the support of my family. Their love and enthusiasm keep me inspired. Their patience when I am under deadline and serving cold sandwiches or cereal for the third night in a row humbles me. I couldn’t do it without you guys. Hugs, sloppy kisses and hey, I’m gonna cook you a proper meal tonight! <3happy

Jumping On The 50 Shades Bandwagon

Yeah, I’m not too proud to capitalize on a market trend. Writers have to do what they can to be seen in an industry as oversaturated as the romance genre. Right? Cool. If you’re looking for my opinion on FSoG (the book), that’s not what I intended to post about. Nor will I be reviewing the film (I have no interest in seeing it – no strong opinions, just no interest.)50shades

What I wanted to discuss is the spectrum – the wide scope of choices in romance that range from inspirational to erotica and beyond, and where I fit into things. Yes, I say beyond. There is 50 shades… and then there are the stories being published about dinosaur sex and unicorn sex. Seriously. It’s out there. And I think “beyond” is exactly how to describe that particular subgenre. *shudder*

Trying not to judge... but seriously - who reads this stuff???

Trying not to judge… but seriously – who reads this stuff???

Ever since I learned I was to be published, back in the summer of 2013, my RWA chapter mates referred to my books as “sweet”. “Jenn writes sweet romance.” “Oh, Jenn’s books are so sweet.” And while I never told them that, I found the term offensive. I write sex scenes. They’re detailed. There might be only one or two in a book, but they’re there. Legally, my publisher has to classify them as “sensual” to warn readers of graphic content. So how could my friends call them sweet?

Me... apparently.

Me… apparently.

I was recently asked to join a few other chapter members in a magazine interview that explored the romance genre from the writers’ perspective. http://www.theeastsidescene.com/news_features/290581411.html When I read the final interview, I realized the journalist did a great job choosing authors from a wide variety of subgenres – and that really gave the article an authentic representation.

This made me stop and think about what I write. Does it matter if I’m labeled sweet? If I am writing what I want to write, what I feel comfortable writing, then no. I read some erotica. I read m/m. I read menage. There are certain levels of heat or content that I shy away from. I feel like I should be up front about this because I made a vow (a New Year’s resolution to myself) to try to review every book I read this year.) So while it might look bizarre for a “sweet” small town contemporary author to review something out of her writing range, the author that was brave enough to write it still deserves a review that helps them reach their own unique group of readers.

Channing Tatum. Yummy, much?

Channing Tatum. Yummy, much?

Everyone has preferences. And everyone knows what they are willing to read and what is just too much for them. The great thing about the romance market is that there is something for everyone. And instead of feeling offended that I’ve been labeled “sweet”, I ought to feel confident that I have found my niche in this market. I need to embrace it and spend my time looking for readers who enjoy a quick sex scene or two, instead of a book that wouldn’t be complete without the hero and heroine hooking up in every chapter. To each his own. Let’s just enjoy the heck out of reading, in general.

What is your favorite go to in the romance genre? I *love* time travel romance and have to give major props to authors that can pull it off. That’s my guilty pleasure because I KNOW I could never write a time travel. I leave it to the professionals. 😉 Way to go, ladies (and men). Thank you for the countless hours of reading enjoyment.

Pinterest – Time Suck or Lifesaver?

I’ll admit when a friend first told me about Pinterest, I didn’t understand the concept. (Which is probably why I haven’t done anything with my Tumblr and Instagram accounts yet.) Pin photos to various boards. Why? Though I’ll admit, going through all the pretty pictures was a lot of fun.

Where else can I tell the world about my love of all things pumpkin spice?

Where else can I tell the world about my love of all things pumpkin spice?

Then I set up boards for Scallop Shores and each of my books as they came out. I started to realize that Pinterest had a very real value for me. I could show people how I view my characters and my fictitious town. It was a way of turning my books into a 3-D reality. It made them…more real. At least that’s what I hoped. I realize every reader is welcome to their own interpretations and that’s great. But if I can show them exactly how I visualized something, that could help immerse them in the book, right?

Downtown Scallop Shores, complete with Civil War monument.

Downtown Scallop Shores, complete with Civil War monument.

 

And what about real life? The family’s got to eat, right? If you’ve read any of my early posts, you know I hate to cook. And when I do cook, it had better be easy or I WILL screw it up. (My mother loved to tell the story of how I once asked her where the “boil” setting on the stove top was.) So Pinterest is invaluable for locating crock pot and other fool-proof recipe ideas.

Hard boiled eggs in the oven – a school lunch staple!

 

Speaking of real life, Pinterest has saved my bacon when it came to school stuff. What to make the teachers for Christmas/Teacher Appreciation Day? What to make for the bake sale my daughter was kind enough to sign me up for? What to bring in for birthdays/last day of school goodies to serve an entire class?

Every teacher gets a scarf for Christmas.

And it is awesome for researching my latest series. I don’t have a board for that. Why? It’s secret. Okay, it’s about fairies and I’m super nervous that people who are used to my small town contemporaries won’t have any interest in a series that is more fantasy/supernatural in theme. Doesn’t mean I won’t write the series. And it doesn’t mean I don’t devour all the pins that really scream to me to be added into a book some day. I’m just not ready to share it with the world.

 

Inspiring, no?

 

Could I lose myself on Pinterest for an unspecified amount of time? Yes. Is it worth it? For the most part. How about you? Are you on Pinterest? What do you use it for the most? I’m always open to new ideas. 🙂 If you want to find me and my eclectic assortment of boards, I’m at: https://www.pinterest.com/mzdecuir/

Writer Mom – Crochet Addict

When does a hobby become an obsession? I have a walk in closet in my bedroom, and an ever increasing portion of it is full of yarn. I think I’m on a first name basis with all the cashiers at Michaels. I can quit any time…really… I just don’t want to. 🙂

yarn

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I tried to start my own crochet business. Creations in Crochet. Had a spiffy business license in a frame and everything. I belonged to a crafters co-op and did pretty well selling slippers, scrunchies and all manner of baby items in our little store on the grounds of a winery in San Diego.

I was so excited to finally be making an afghan for a girl after several years' worth of boy blankies.

I was so excited to finally be making an afghan for a girl after several years’ worth of boy blankies.

Then we moved to the Seattle area and I checked out a few craft fairs. I found that a LOT of people crocheted out here and it probably wasn’t worth my trouble to compete with the rest of them. But I still had that itch to scratch. Thank God for kids, mine, friends, preschool classes… I stayed busy making baby afghans for those of us adding to our families. Then I moved on to making Christmas stocking ornaments for my kids’ preschool classmates. Once they got into elementary school, I made scarves for the bus drivers and their teachers. And I am always up for handmaking booties or a precious little dress for a baby shower.

Can you tell I love crocheting for baby girls???

The baby-making seems to have slowed down lately. This past year my crocheting efforts went toward the non-profit group Hopelink. A group of friends decided to make felt stockings and bought goodies to fill them with. I know my strengths, and I should not be allowed near a sewing machine. So I crocheted as many scarves for the stockings as I could finish in about six weeks — which was exactly nine. This year I plan to do a lot more. I love to crochet while watching TV after the kids have gone to bed.

I know I have so many more pictures I could post on here of crochet-projects-past. I guess those will have to go in a future post. I even have an old business card floating around… Sigh. Another time.

What is your hobby/obsession? Leave me a pic in the comments of something cool you’ve made. I’d love to see it.

 

 

Celebrate the Small Stuff!

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Yay! You’re published! Now you just sit back and wait for the money to come in, right? Wrong.

The very first thing I learned about having a book on the market is that I am ONE author in MILLIONS. Getting my books seen, reviewed and (one can dream) bought, is extremely hard and very discouraging. I’ll admit to trolling Amazon a couple of times a day — more if I have a new release — to check out my sales rank on a particular title. And really, the only purpose this serves is to depress me even more. So don’t do it, right? Easier said than done.

But one thing I find that gets me through the hard times (and there are a lot of hard times) is to celebrate all the small things. Successes, milestones, new things tried — there are more than we realize.

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I celebrate a new person that “likes” me on Facebook. I celebrate sending out my first newsletter, and the fact that I figured it out all by myself. I danced myself silly the first time I got a letter in the mail – an honest to goodness fan letter. And then the first one that I discovered in my in box.

When I guest blog on another author’s site and it generates a lot of comments – celebratory moment. When I update my website (OMG, I hate doing that!) and everything finally lines up correctly, that is a celebrate-with-chocolate moment. When I then learn that a friend of a friend of a friend was gushing about following said website? Swoon!

This past week I was in the dumps about sales on my recent new release. I guess January is NOT an ideal month to have a new book out. So I am trying new things, distracting myself with Twitter and experimenting with new hashtags. Lo and behold, I was followed by Starbucks. Much happy dancing and ignoring of sales ranks ensued.

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Some days it’s enough to celebrate that I got my word count in. Right now it looks like I’ll be submitting my latest book to my publisher at least two weeks ahead of my deadline. MAJOR celebrating there! Celebrating author accomplishments does not have to mean sales. Heck, I was thrilled just to receive a W-2 this year — something that I didn’t get with all $25 I made the year before. 😉

It’s the little things that make us happy. And there are WAY more little things than the built up big things we stick so much importance on.

So celebrate the little things. Eat chocolate. Dance in your underwear and sing into your hairbrush. And tell the rest of us about what you’re celebrating so we can join in with you.