Oops…

January obviously got away from me! I was participating in a blog challenge on my other blog, which required me to post daily, and I completely spaced on posting on this blog.

The challenge was fun, and it required me to stretch my brain a great deal to think of enough topics to fill an entire month. It isn’t something I’m likely to do again.

Aside from the challenge, I’ve spent the past few weeks working on a novel that I started several months ago and hope to eventually finish, as well as adjusting to no longer having a job outside the home. While my kids were in school, I focused on writing, but after both had graduated, I held a part-time job. For various reasons, I’m no longer able to do that, so I’m back to trying to write full-time.

And to hopefully remembering to blog regularly.

Playing With Writing

When I was younger, writing stories was a form of playing for me. I created elaborate worlds, populated with many, many characters, and made up whatever I wanted. If I wasn’t in school, I was usually sitting somewhere with a notebook and pen, scribbling something. Or I was using my dolls to act out stories that I would later write.

Back then, I wanted to get published someday, but that wasn’t the main purpose for writing for me. It was something that made me happy. Brought me joy. The creation of the stories was the top priority.

Unfortunately, that started to change when I started getting published. Over time, writing became less about joy and far more about writing something good enough to be accepted, that readers would actually buy. It became about earning money to help pay my bills and buy food for my family.

It became something that stopped bringing me joy, and instead brought me anxiety and fear. The fear that I wasn’t good enough and never would be, especially when I saw other authors earning ten or even a hundred times what I earned. I knew I wasn’t the best at marketing, and I started feeling like I wasn’t any good at writing, either. And because I felt like I wasn’t good at it, the quality of my writing suffered.

These are things I’m working on changing now, though, and that work is part of the reason I don’t have any releases scheduled for 2018. Before I can consider myself ready to submit my work again, I need to regain the joy that got me started writing in the first place. I need to take time to play with plots and characters, with no pressure and no consequences if something doesn’t work.

I don’t know how long the process will take, but that’s okay. What I do know is I need to put myself first, and that means putting joy first.

 

2018: The Year in Advance

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe 2017 is over already.

midnight-chat-100

In 2017, Harmony Ink Press released two of my novels. Midnight Chat, which came out in February 2017, is about Mira, a girl who is trying to keep her best friend Rob from doing something he can’t take back. She believes Rob is only a danger to himself, but what if she’s wrong?

 

DolphinsintheMud 150

 

Dolphins in the Mud, released in August, is the rerelease of a novel originally published several years ago. Chris Talberman is trying to hold his family together–but who will help him hold himself together?

 

The last two novels I submitted were rejected, both for valid reasons largely involving the books’ genre, paranormal, though that wasn’t the only reason. Unfortunately, that leaves me with no releases scheduled for 2018. This will be the first year since 2009 that I haven’t had anything released under the Jo Ramsey pen name, and it’s a little bittersweet.

At the same time, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m currently revising one of the rejected novels, on which the editors kindly gave me very useful feedback, and plan to send it elsewhere when it’s ready. I also have begun a new contemporary novel, and hope to send that to Harmony Ink by summer. I might do a short story or two and post them on my Free Reads page, and may even take the second rejected novel, which would have been a rerelease, and try self-publishing it through Amazon.

While it’s strange not having anything schedule to release this year, it’s giving me time to get back up to speed on my writing craft, meaning better-written, better quality stories. I have more time to think about options. And I’ll be launching a new adult fiction pen name this summer.

So that’s what 2018 looks like for me right now. I hope your 2017 was a good year, and I hope 2018 will be even better!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, today’s the day. Which means I’m taking the day off from blog posts, writing, and so forth to spend some time with family.

o-christmas-tree-1443869-639x852

(This is not my tree. I wish it were!)

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas has a great holiday, and I hope those who celebrate other holidays have/had wonderful days then and today. I’ll be back next week with some thoughts on 2018.

First Drafts

Every story begins with an idea. Then sometimes a brainstorm or outline, or not, depending on how and whether the author likes to plan their books.

a-hand-writing-1238539-639x500

And then the first draft comes along. Sometimes, that’s when the problems start.

For me, the first draft is a time to get the ideas onto the page, but it’s also a time when I constantly catch myself trying to write perfectly. Which isn’t even possible in the most carefully edited and revised draft, let alone the first one.

The thing is, the first draft isn’t meant to be perfect. It’s meant to be where the ideas go from the author’s head onto the paper or screen. The writing technique doesn’t matter nearly as much as just having the stuff visible. As a friend of mine used to tell me, you can’t edit what’s in your head. Get it out, and then worry about how good or bad it is. You can’t fix your brain, you can only fix what’s on the page.

I get hung up on that a lot. One thing reviewers often ding me for is the pacing of my books. It’s either uneven or too slow. So when I’m writing the first draft, I keep stressing about getting the pacing right, and then the pace of my actual *writing* slows way down, to the point where sometimes I get discouraged and stop working on the thing altogether.

That isn’t useful, and it isn’t going to get the book done. It’s a hard habit to break, though. I have to completely shift my thinking from “My publisher won’t accept this if I don’t do it right” to “I’ll have plenty of chances to do it right, so for now, let’s just get it done.”

Just getting it done is the reason first drafts exist. Everything can be fixed later, once the story is written.

Everything Leads…

…to something else.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unfortunately, sometimes that interferes with getting stuff done.

Last weekend, I started out with great intentions. I was going to get some blog posts done, remove a few things from one of my other websites, do some shopping for the household, and, of course, write.

But then I got sidetracked by trying to find images for blog posts. And then I realized it’s going to be 2018 in a few months, and I needed a new calendar. (I don’t buy wall calendars; I print out calendar pages from a free calendar website. I have Google calendar as well, but sometimes it helps me to have something I can just glance at quickly instead of needing to open a new browser window or pick up my phone.) Then I forgot I was doing that because I checked my email while I waited for calendar pages to download.

The emails led to the realization that I hadn’t cleaned out my inboxes recently. So I did that, and read a few emails I hadn’t gotten to yet, which contained links I wanted to check out. Which led to me bookmarking the pages to which the links sent me, which led to me needing to delete some bookmarks. Meanwhile, I remembered I was downloading calendar pages, and realized I had too many things in my downloads folder, so I started clearing things out of that or moving them to my Dropbox files.

And so on, and so on…

And meanwhile I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t doing blog posts. Some of the things I *was* doing were useful and beneficial, and I counted them as productive, but some, like reorganizing Dropbox files, were just busy work that didn’t really *need* to be done.

Being a writer, or working for yourself in any way, takes a lot of self-discipline. And a lot of avoidance of “ooh, shiny!” I think I need to work harder on those…

Moving

I might be a bit scarce online for a few days. We had until August 15–i.e. tomorrow–to get out of our current apartment, which means that things are now completely hectic, and a lot of things are getting lost.

I really don’t like moving, but I think we’re going to be in a quieter, happier place once things are settled. It’s just the getting settled bit that takes time and energy. And packing. And unpacking. And lots and lots of boxes.

So once things are a bit more organized, and we have internet and electricity and all that important stuff, I’ll be online more. Meanwhile, please feel free to leave me a comment, or message me through my Facebook page (link in the sidebar). And please check out Dolphins in the Mud!

Some Thoughts About Dreams

In this world, there are those who create, inspire, and live their dreams unafraid. We all need to be unafraid to live our dreams. All of us can at least try. You might not reach your goal, but if you never even try, you’ll never have the chance. Let go of the “can’t” and “shouldn’t” and fear. Start now. Dare to shake the world.

Sometimes we might feel like we’re nothing special. We haven’t done anything noteworthy, nothing that hundreds or millions of other people haven’t also done. We feel like we’re just one of a number, nobody that others would notice in a crowd or miss when we’re gone. But here’s the thing. Everything you’ve done is unique, because *you* are unique. Even if billions of others do it, no one does anything exactly the way anyone else does it, because no one is anyone else. Just as an example, no one phrases things confusingly in the same way I do.

Almost everyone has dreams and hopes for their life. When was the last time you made a list of your dreams? Have you done so recently, or did you decide the time has passed to accomplish them? For many things, there’s no such thing as “too late.” You might have to adjust your hopes and expectations, but you don’t have to give it up completely.

When we’re kids, we have dreams. We know what we want to be when we grow up, and that’s really cool. But sometimes those dreams are talked out of us. Our parents tell us we’re being unrealistic, or other kids make fun of us. It’s important to let kids hold onto their dreams. Even if it doesn’t seem probable, that doesn’t make it impossible.

Believe you know the things you know. Personally, I sometimes hold back from writing something because even though I know plenty about it, I’m afraid I’ll be wrong. Or that others won’t believe I know what I’m talking about. That makes it awfully hard to get things done. It doesn’t matter if they believe in me. It matters if *I* do.

Too many times, I’ve talked myself out of doing things I wanted because other people have told me I can’t. I’ve changed that in the past few years. There’s still a way to go, but I’m not holding back anymore.

Preparing for a Move

I’m going to be moving to a new apartment in the very near future. I’m not sure at this point where. We found out at the beginning of June that our rent would increase, so decided to try to find another place. We hadn’t found one, but when we spoke to our landlord about staying here, they told us they’d already found another tenant. So we have no choice but to leave here… and no decision yet on a place to move into.

But I’m trusting that will work out for the best. Meanwhile, I’m getting ready for the move. We had been accumulating boxes, which I’m now filling with books, papers, knickknacks, and so on. I’ve cleaned out my closet and bureau, donated a LOT of clothes I wasn’t wearing or wore only rarely, and sold some clothes as well. I’ve been cleaning out other closets and cupboards, too, and finding things I forgot existed. Which means we probably don’t need them.

When I was married to my kids’ dad, we moved a lot. Seventeen times in fourteen years. My current husband and I have been in our current place for five and a half years. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere as an adult. I’m kind of sad about having to leave, because even though I like variety and change, having a steady home would have been nice. But maybe the next one will last longer. Meanwhile, I’m looking at this as an adventure.

When the actual move happens, I probably won’t be online as much for a few days, but I’ll be checking in. As long as the move doesn’t coincide with the release of Dolphins in the Mud on August 8, it’s all good.

Going to Be Away…

I’m going to be away for a week, which means there won’t be a post next Monday.

I’m not sure about this going away thing. I’m going to a retreat, which I went to last year as well. Last year, it was difficult. I only knew three or four people there, and two of those were people I didn’t know well. I met people there, of course, and I’ve kept in touch with a few of them who will be there again this year. So it won’t be as difficult from that perspective.

But just like the convention I went to in January, at this retreat, there are going to be a lot of people. At times, things are going to be very crowded and loud. I don’t do well with crowded and loud. It’s also at a summer camp that has no internet or cell phone access, so I won’t be able to distract myself with my usual things. (Which is kind of the point of having the retreat there, since it’s a thing you aren’t really supposed to be distracted from.)

A lot of things will be outside, and I’m not always comfortable being outside, either.

I have to be very mindful during this retreat of my health, both physical (because there’ll be a lot of walking) and mental. Fortunately, I’m going with a close friend who’s aware of this and will be keeping an eye on me, but it’s my responsibility to manage my health and make sure I’m taking care of myself. Which I can do, I just have to remember that pushing myself is okay, but shoving myself…not so much.