I finished THE FIERY CITADEL, book two in my Forgotten Empires trilogy with St. Martins Press, sequel to THE ORCHID THRONE. Yeah, it doesn’t come out until 2020 – maybe summer? we don’t know – but I completed the first draft and sent it in to Editor Jennie. There will be more work to come, but that’s the big milestone to pass.
I promised myself this time that I’d take some time off before heading into the next project. More than the weekend. As a full-time author, I write five days a week, going for 3,000 – 3,500 words per day. It takes me an average of 3 – 4 hours to get that, with an overall elapsed time of about 6 hours, including breaks. I usually have a pretty tightly packed schedule, so finishing one book has meant diving right into the next. But I track my productivity pretty carefully – I can’t control my creative process, but I can learn all there is to know about it and plan accordingly (which is part of owning your process) – and I’ve discovered that the week after I finish writing a book draft tends to be unproductive.
Even when I schedule myself for my usual work week, the writing tends to feel like pulling teeth. My word counts are low, I screw around a lot, and I don’t really refill the well.
So this week I’ve been not writing. Yesterday I tackled the garage. We have this one corner with a built in workbench and set of shelves. When we moved in (lo, these ten years ago – sheesh), we stuffed a lot of stuff back in those shelves, especially the lower ones, and back in the deep corner where they form an L. The original plan was one side of the L (the long one) would be for David’s tools and the short side would be my garden bench. My husband, however, while possessing many sterling qualities, is almost pathologically incapable of organizing his stuff. So his workbench has been a mess since day one. In fact, it’s a more ancient mess than that, as he pretty much threw the existing mess of his workbench and garage stuff into bins when we moved and dumped it out here.
I keep a hammer and a few screwdrivers in my office, just so I can find them when I need one.
Not only is his workbench a nightmare, when he has no place to put anything – which is always – he’d stack it on my garden bench. It got so I couldn’t even get to my gardening stuff. So I ceded the field of battle. I moved the baker’s rack from our front patio around to the secret garden and put everything there that can safely weather outside. I’ve also pulled most everything out of that space – discovering numerous rodent nests in the process – and now I’ll organize it for him. I kept a lower shelf for my garden stuff that needs to be out of the weather, but otherwise my garden bench is now for his fishing supplies. I’m kind of excited to do the thing where you hang up the tools and draw Sharpie marker outlines to designate where they go. We’ll see if it works and how long that lasts…
Anyway, it’s been good to disengage my brain and simply lift and organize. I’ve been rearranging the patio and garden, too, and things are looking pretty. Plus, I found some cool garden ornaments I shoved back in that corner and forgot I had! Watch for pics of those as I get them put out.
I loved how this dog got their own chair at the bar along Denver’s busy 16th Street pedestrian mall. Spotted while having drinks with the lovely and witty Limecello.
AMID THE WINTER SNOW, an anthology of fantasy romance holiday novellas is now available for pre-order! It releases December 12, 2017 and contains four all-new, meaty novellas in each of our fantasy worlds. Early reviews have called it “gorgeous,” which I just love.
As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night…
THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace Draven
The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…
THE CHOSEN, by Thea Harrison
In her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…
THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…
THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe Kennedy
As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…
We’ve been getting an amazing response, so thanks to everyone who’s already pre-ordered!
Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is writing in a vacuum—which is better for you, writing in a closed space or writing where people can interact with you? Come on over for my answer.
We had some coyote visitors the other day. I took this through our glass front door. They look happy and healthy!
I’m over at Word Whores today, as I am every Sunday, giving the five things I do to boost my creativity.
I’m back from a lovely Thanksgiving holiday and buckling down to seriously crank on THE EDGE OF THE BLADE. Since I’ve been writing full-time, I haven’t consistently hit the hit word count goals I’d like to. In fact, I’ve felt like I’ve been writing more slowly since summer and I haven’t been sure why.
(Though I told writing buddy Anne Calhoun that I felt like I spent all of July sitting in the grape arbor, doing nothing, and she said, “Amen, sister,” so it might not be just me.)
Still, I’ve got a January 1 deadline for this book, so I’m out of arbor-dawdling time. Plus it’s too cold out for that. So, on the drive home yesterday, I constructed a new daily schedule and looked hard at where I could improve productivity. And I realized a Huge Thing. In midsummer, I stopped listening to music while I ran on the treadmill in the mornings, and started watching videos on my iPad mini instead.
There were good reasons for this at the time. I was doing very particular research and watching the videos killed two birds with one stone – entertained me while I ran and provided time to watch the stuff I needed to. After that, I kept going, watching various musicals, as I could find and stream them.
No harm done, right?
A lot of you know I gave up watching TV a long time ago. Wow, like almost twenty years ago, we ditched the cable, happy to save that money. The cost savings was a side-benefit, however. My main reason was because of something I read in Stephen King’s ON WRITING. I was trying to work out how to be a writer and consumed all sorts of craft books like that one. I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t find my copy (did YOU borrow it??), but he said that it’s no accident he grew up without TV and became such a vivid creative writer. He called TV poisonous to creativity and urged all writers to give it up.
So, I did. It was a pretty easy choice for me, as the sound of the TV going in the background always irritated me. I was born to a mother who claimed the way to meet the ideal man would be in the Tattered Cover Bookstore during a Broncos game. Fortunately the man I had found (though not in Tattered Cover) fully supported the idea. My teenage stepdaughter not so much, but she was gracious about it.
And it worked!
At least, I felt like it did. Enhancing creativity in oneself is not a clear-cut enterprise that can be measured quantitatively. However, over the years, we never regretted the move, and often counted our blessings not to be subjected to the sensationalized news and pharmaceutical advertising so many complained of. As time passed, we were able to access Netflix and Internet streaming. We watch a lot of movies and sometimes TV series. No more than one movie or two episodes of a show each evening, after my writing day was over.
Until I started on my video-watching while running kick. Could that have impacted my creativity and productivity? Surely not! And yet… the timing worked out.
So, today I went back to running to music. And my productivity zoomed up. Maybe that’s a coincidence. Maybe it won’t be reproducible. Still, I believe that watching those videos before my morning writing put my creative mind in the wrong mode. Music it is, from now on.
Something to consider, if you’re struggling with ways to clear your writing mind!