Knowing When to Stop

Kindle ranking #2A little while back I mentioned that monsoon season was starting in New Mexico, bringing all that metaphorical and literal goodness to my life. Such a rain of blessings, indeed! Carina Press put Rogue’s Pawn on sale for 99 cents (through July 19, if you haven’t snapped up that deal yet) and it was featured on Book Bub. Amazing results in that it hit #2 in Fantasy Romance. Right behind Dean Koontz, which had us all scratching our heads. Turns out he’s doing more romance and less horror these days.

Still – me and ol’Dean, yanno? Such a major rush to see this book ranked so high.

Br765aqCEAAwF4XI saw this go by on Twitter this week – Henry Miller’s set of “commandments” for himself on getting his work done. I’d never seen it before and thought it’s so very smart.

One aspect I like best here is that he made this list for himself. Who knows, in today’s era he’d maybe have put it up on his blog. But then, he’s clearly addressing himself. I particularly love that he forbids himself from adding more material to “Black Spring.” There are a lot of great nuggets here – the acknowledgment that “creating” doesn’t always feel like it can happen every day, but work can. To work with pleasure and not make it into a chore. The one that really struck me, however – maybe because I’m not sure I’ve seen another writer encounter this – is #4: Stop at the appointed time.

I’ve discovered this is really key for me. We all have the bad days, the tooth-pulling ones. Where every word feels hard-fought. On the worst ones, I don’t get my wordcount and that bothers me. I’ve discovered, though, that sometimes that happens. Sometimes the story needs to cook or I just don’t have the mojo that day. If I’ve put in the diligent effort, I try to cut myself the slack and let it go. Usually the next day is much better. Sometimes I’ll have several days in a row like this and I just have to chip away at it.

The reverse is the true glory. The days that every writer lives for – when the words pour out in a rush, as if from another place, and I only have to type as fast as I can to get it all down. On those days, it can be VERY tempting to keep going. Especially since I usually have time, because I got the wordcount fast and easily. Often I go over on those days by 100 or 200 words.

And I find myself thinking, why not go for an extra 1K?

I used to do this, but I don’t let myself anymore. Which is why I’m fascinated that Henry Miller apparently set this rule for himself, also.

It’s important for a working writer to learn to write through mood. In essence, you can’t let the bad days get you down. I think it’s equally important not to let the good days carry you away. Inevitably, if I milk that flow and push for extra words, push past the appointed time, I incur some damage.

I’m not sure why this is, it just is.

(Okay – I suspect it has something to do with breaking an agreement with my subconscious self, but that gets into complicated territory fast.)

What kind of damage? Usually I’ll trigger a crash and then I’ll get a run of days of shortfall. So much so that, in the overall scheme, I’ll end up behind my timeline instead of ahead of it. Totally not worth it. It would be interesting to know if Henry encountered the same thing.

So this is my rule for myself now, too. I stop at the appointed time or at my wordcount goal and call it done. Has anyone else encountered this? Either in an artistic pursuit or some other arena?

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Ask the Readers: How Do You Feel About Interference with Reviews?

Master Of The Opera Act 6 (eBook)Here’s the cover for the sixth and final episode of my Master of the Opera e-Serial. The first one comes out January 2 and the series finishes with this one, on March 20. What’s cool to me about this cover is the opal ring. It’s EXACTLY how I described it in the story, which is just way cool to see. You can see about all of them here.

So, this is Ask the Readers week in the bordello – where we ask you all those questions we *really* wonder about. Imagine yourselves up on the panel at the front of the room and we’re sitting in those crowded-too-close conference chairs.

Hie on over there for my long-winded question.

You Never Write, You Never Call…

Okay, the heady romance is over. I confess: I’ve begun to cheat.

It’s not that I was ever completely monogamous, especially in the beginning. You know how it is: in the begining you’re still trying each other out, not ready to fully commit. I’d kept reading a hard copy book or two, would keep a book with me on the plane, in case the flight attendant decided my Kindle was an electronic device that must be shut off. (Incidentally, no one has made me shut it off through about 10-15 take-offs and landings. I wonder if this is because they don’t know what it is or it doesn’t look all that electronic?)

But I had committed. All of my recent book purchases were on the Kindle, either via the Amazon store or through other ebook sellers. Then, last night, I put the Kindle in the drawer and started a hard copy book. It felt good, too. Like coming home to an old love. It felt right to be holding my book, curled up in the armchair while the snow fell.

I confess, the in-laws soured things for me recently, what with the Amazon “glitch.” I really hate that Amazon may have been censoring and sanitizing, a serious development given their stranglehold on book rankings. I hear people saying they’re giving their business to Powells, which has ebooks, too. I might have to see if their formats are Kindle-compatible. Not every ebook is, it turns out. I suspect this situation will continue to improve over time. It seems like new tech starts out very specific and proprietary at first, but then natural market forces move everthing to intercompatibility (is that a word?) over time.

Maybe it’s good for us to have a little time apart. It’s okay for my Kindle to be just one part of my reading life. I’m beginning to think that any monopoly can’t be a good thing. In nature, diversity wins.

In love, I’m a one-man woman, but in this way, at least, I’ll continue to play the field.

Gloria, We Hardly Knew Ye

Is anyone else noticing the whole waist/hip thing?

By anyone, I mean the gals, because I really don’t think guys do this. So, if you’re a guy, feel free to skip today’s post.

But gals, the whole waistline-drop thing seems to be getting stranger. Never mind that we really can’t find any slacks, jeans or even skirts that fasten around our waists — and if we could, we can’t wear them because, hey, we might have to concede to being in our 40s, but we still don’t REALLY want to look like refugees from the 80s. Even if that’s exactly what we are.

My mother will testify that I’m famous for keeping clothes forever. It’s the sentimentality. Throwing away a loved outfit is tantamount to throwing away all the good times had in that outfit. So, yes, I still have some of the clothes I wore in high school. A couple of sweaters. A few party dresses from college. None of the lower-body stuff because, let’s just say, my hips did not stay teenager narrow. But I was the girl whose friend told her she was the only person she knew who looked good in designer jeans (Gloria Vanderbilt, with an embroidered gold swan on one hip pocket and a similar gold cursive “Jennifer” on the other.) The waist buttoned around the narrowest point of my body, which meant the jeans stayed there, whether I was standing or sitting.

But the dropped-waist thing — they move around all the time! Sure the slacks will drape nicely over my hips while I’m standing, sitting in their comfortable three inches below my belly button. I went to all drop-waist slacks and jeans after I had my belly-button pierced. Believe me, you have to do it. Thus do vanity piercings drive fashion. So, standing around, looking cute is fine. But when you sit, they kind of creep up and flop around your waist like an Ace bandage gone wrong. OR they slide down further, showing your thong and butt-cleavage and… no, no, no.

Okay, compared to Amazon censoring homosexual books on their website, this isn’t a big deal. Lots of people have been talking about that, though. Is anyone discussing the millions of women out there whose pants won’t stay put? A can of worms there, I say.

I’m starting to understand why older women start to wear those mu-mus.