writers life

reflection and change

As you all know – I took a break from writing, blogging, and twitter.  I’d stop by occasionally but for the most part – I didn’t bother.  I can’t say that about Instagram.  While I might not have posted too often, I would visit daily and I found a lot of beauty on my feed.  I loved that.  

I turned fifty in 2017.  It wasn’t traumatic.  It was in many ways, just another birthday.  But for a person who has a goal of being a centenarian, fifty is a possible midway point.   And that was cause for reflection.

My life has been blessed.  Oh, I’ve suffered my share of bumps and bruises along the way but the good has outweighed the bad.  That is something for which to be grateful.

Changes, however, needed to happen.

I embraced a more minimalist approach to life.  Don’t get me wrong – I still like my stuff – but it’s amazing how much you can part with.  There’s less clutter in my closets.  There’s more room in my cabinets.  After all, most of the time stuff is just stuff.  

My health has become more important.  Getting up thirty minutes earlier to exercise isn’t the sacrifice I thought it would be.  It’s more of a gift to myself.  It’s me telling myself that I am worth the effort.

I took photography classes at the local community college.  

I decided to start writing in my journal again.  Journaling has never lasted because quite honestly, I’d get bored with the whole “my day was”…   This time I invested in a book of weekly prompts.  It’s helping! 

I knew that writing would again be in my future so I carried my laptop in to be serviced.  I had saved the two stories I was working on along with a ton of pictures I’d taken to a thumb drive.  I told the computer tech to wipe my computer.    A couple of days later, I was up and running.

The time came.  I felt like I was ready, that the fountain within had started trickling once more.  I inserted my thumb drive and nothing.  I tried another – no books – no pictures.  And a third thumb drive revealed the same.

Frustrating – yes.  That’s a lot of work gone.

The end of the world – nope. 

I’m not sure what happened.  Did I misplace the thumb drive or did something go wrong when I saved?  I just don’t know.  Fortunately, I had printed off most of one story so over the next few weeks, I’ll be retyping and making some much-needed changes as I go.

I guess that’s life – It doesn’t always go the way we plan and that’s okay.  It’s still good!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful week!

-Deb

 

 

 

 

 

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Autumn Bucket List

I have always been a summer person.  Give me a pair of shorts and some flops and I happy. Let me walk in the grass or along the beach with my bare feet and I’m in heaven.  But holy cow, this summer had me longing for a little frost on the pumpkins.

As I’ve been counting the days to the arrival of September and the official start of pumpkin scented candle burning – and having nothing better to do because it’s been too hot to be outside – I decided I needed an autumn bucket list.  Nothing like daydreaming about cooler temperatures.

autumn bucket list

Number 5 on my list is truly yummy!

All you need is a pot of water (low rolling boil) and a can of sweetened condensed milk. Remove the paper from the can and place in water (on side so it rolls).  Bring water to a slow, rolling boil. The can should always be completely submerged and you’ll need to roll the can about every 15 minutes or so to ensure the condensed milk caramelizes evenly. Add more water as needed.   Boil 3-3 1/2 hours.  Drain water.  Carefully remove the can and place in cold water.  Let cool before opening.  (Maybe an hour or so.  The can should be cool to the touch.)  It’s really important to not rush this process – patience is essential.  Nothing worse than being burned by hot, gooey caramel.  We serve with sliced granny smith apples.  Delicious!

Here’s wishing you a fabulous fall season!  And if you have a must do activity or recipe feel free to share in the comments.

-Deb

 

DISTRACTIONS – THEY’RE EVERYWHERE

Like so many of you, I work a full-time job and squeeze in my writing here and there. I find it tremendously sad that the thing I enjoy most is the first thing that is sacrificed at the altar of not enough time.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels a bit brain-dead at the end of a work day. And to be honest, it’s not that my job is unduly stressful or that I work in an unpleasant environment. Hardly. I like busy days and I get along with my co-workers. But there is a certain frustration that lingers with me through out the work day. Story ideas are born. Characters stop by and introduce themselves and to be quite honest, distract me from my work. I might make a note or two, time allowing, and I usher them away. By the time five o’clock has rolled around, my eyes are tired from staring at a computer screen. And those characters – they are long gone…

A short drive home and I’m preparing dinner. I might go for a ride in the jeep just to unwind. And I might plan on getting a few words down only…

DISTRACTIONSDistractions.

Excuses.

Poor time management.

Whatever you want to call it – it robs many of us (writers) of valuable time. And it does so, so insidiously, we often fail to recognize it’s happening.

It starts out innocently enough. An internet search/fact check becomes a quick stop on Amazon… A look at a cute puppy video is followed by a notification of a friend’s Facebook update… A text message that leads to a phone call… A short break that turns into an hour in front of the television…

Before you know it, your best laid plans have failed and its time to go to bed and you didn’t make any headway on your latest WIP.

The frustration is real. So real in fact, that I decided I needed to be proactive.  Following the suggestions of many other writers, I made myself some rules.

  1. Turn off the cellphone.
  2. Turn off the television.
  3. Do not access the internet.
  4. Be committed.  Schedule writing time and stick to it.
  5. Go on DND (do not disturb) during scheduled writing time.

So this is the plan.

Got my fingers crossed that I’m disciplined enough to follow through.

 

The Writing Gardner

After being attacked by what may be one of the world’s nastiest bugs, I’m happy to report that I’m on the mend – AND – ever so grateful for good health!

I wish I could say that all of my down time wasn’t wasted – that I had used that time to write.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  My body hurt.  My head hurt.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  And that’s pretty much what I did – from the couch to my bed.  I didn’t realize one person could sleep so much…

Needless to say, when Saturday rolled around and the afternoon high topped out in the upper 60’s, I took advantage of feeling better.  I started my first container garden.  In the past, I’ve always planted the old fashioned way – tilling the soil, preparing the rows, etc. Containers were for city folk…

Or are they?

Having fresh vegetables is important to me – especially ones that haven’t been sprayed with boo-koos of pesticides.

And

Finding time to prepare the garden, work my job, and write… There just wasn’t enough time in the day.

So, I’ve decided to give this a try.

Container Gardening

Not sure how this is going to turn out but hoping I’m working smarter (not harder)!  Keep your fingers crossed – because I don’t necessarily have the greenest thumb.

Who’s Selling My Books?

For those of us who self published, we took on the responsibility of marketing our books. Whether or not they get noticed falls on our shoulders and it’s a daunting task.  It’s kind of like hoping someone will notice a single snowflake in a blizzard.

wp_ss_20160320_0006I pulled up my book on Amazon and realized that other sellers are offering it as low as $5.15.  To be honest, I can’t really figure out how that is happening especially since nearly all my sales have been e-Books and Amazon is getting it directly from CreateSpace.

Locally, my paperbacks are available in a couple of stores and at festivals that I attend.  I realize that the world is small but I can’t imagine how one of those books have ended up across the ocean and as far away as India.

What I know is this – I keep a small number of books on hand. There hasn’t been a huge printing because I’m the publisher and unlike big publishing houses, my printing budget is quite limited.

question

Hmmm…

I wouldn’t have a problem with finding my book in a used book store or at a yard sale. I figure I’ve been paid and the buyer is free to do with it what they will.  Okay – I’d rather it not end up in a bonfire…

But if it does, hopefully someone from the press is covering the burning…

I just have to assume that I’ve been paid for the books these online sellers are offering.

Being self published, I don’t know or understand all of the contractual details between writers and their publishing houses.  I haven’t a clue as to how they work out the difference with books that don’t sale.  It’s something I’ve never given much thought to until recently.

At my local Dollar Store, books – both hard and soft covers – can be purchased for (drum roll please) $1.00.  I always assumed these books were out of print, that instead of the publisher sending the books to be shredded/recycled, they chose to sell them for cents on the dollar – hoping to recoup some of their investment.

On a whim, I purchased three books.  Two were hard covers, one was a paperback.
When I got home, I visited Amazon and received quite the surprise.

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness was available in either print and or e-Book.  With only 20 paperbacks left in stock, I feel pretty safe in assuming that the publisher has essentially removed the book from print and perhaps tried to recoup some of their investment.

Shame by Greg Garrett was available only as an e-Book. (Other online sellers were offering it for as low as $0.01 plus shipping.)

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Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan:  Amazon had 16 paperbacks left in stock. Like the other books, private sellers were offering it for as low as a penny (plus shipping).wp_ss_20160320_0005

That’s the thing, just because a book is out of print doesn’t mean it’s out of print as far as e-Books go.  And while I don’t have a dog in this particular fight, it does seem a bit unfair to the authors that their hard cover/paperbacks are being sold for a buck and they aren’t being compensated.

I guess you have to consider the potential trade-off. A reader who isn’t familiar with an author and buys his/her book from a dollar store and likes what they read, might be more likely to purchase another book or e-Book at full price. In a way, its kind of like a weird marketing plan. The same might be applied to used book stores and online sellers. Maybe dropping $10.00 on an e-Book written by an unfamiliar author is out of the question for some readers.  Whereas, we might be more inclined to pay that price for a book written by someone we trust to tell a good story. Seriously, it’s that line of thinking that has many authors choosing to offer a book for free.

As for the online sellers offering my books – they probably aren’t having much success. It’s hard to compete with  a 99 cents e-Book.  And while my books aren’t free, I’ve accepted the fact that I’m virtually unknown. I’m just holding onto the hope that someone notices this snowflake in the blizzard of published books.

-Deb