Heigh ho, Heigh ho, it’s off to write I go

Hello all! As you may have noticed, things are starting to get a little busy around here, and they’re about to get busier. This year, my writing career has officially kicked off. I’ve had to make some sacrifices, but certain circumstances have allowed me the opportunity to write full-time. It’s terrifying yet exciting. Like any job, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Unlike every other job I’ve had in the past, this is the first time I don’t wake up in the morning with a groan. (They don’t call it an evil day job for nothing!)

small_7829361646A lot of folks don’t understand this crazy life of mine, especially friends of the family. They think I lounge around all day in my pajamas, chilling, and doing little else. Although I may indeed lounge around in my yoga pants or pajamas, I’m doing a heck of a lot more than chilling. A part of this misconception has to do with the culture I grew up in. To a lot of these old-school folks, unless you’re doctor, nurse, lawyer, secretary, in pharmaceuticals, or just making a ton of cash, it’s not a real job. It can get frustrating, but I’ve learned not to pay attention to it.

When I decided I was going to take the plunge and do this full-time, I knew I’d be giving it my all. I work from 8 a.m. until midnight, making sure to take appropriate breaks, play with my puppy, make human contact, get exercise, and eat healthy and so on. I take the weekends off, though sometimes when I have a tight deadline I might have to work. See writing full-time, means writing all the time, and I’m not talking about writing books. Before I was published, I wrote, so I’ve been building a book list, plotting out stories, and starting manuscripts.

I now have a writing schedule and tentative release schedule for this year and the whole of next year. This year the releases start in July through Dec (except for Oct), next year they start in Jan through Dec, so there (hopefully) won’t be any big gaps between releases. I’ve learned a lot in the two years I’ve been published and I’m putting that knowledge to use. Like I said before, writing isn’t the half of it. So what’s my to-do list look like? Brace yourself.

  • Edits for Blood & Thunder (we’re on round 3, followed by Galley edits with a tentative release date of Aug 4th)
  • Edits for A Rose By Any Other Name (we’re on round 1, release in Sept)
  • Write blog posts for Hell & High Water release day party
  • Write 10 blog posts for Hell & High Water Blog tour
  • Edits start on Rack & Ruin end of June
  • Rise & Fall manuscript due July 1st
  • Set up he Blood & Thunder Blog Tour & Cover Reveal
  • Facebook chats in July & Aug
  • Twitter Takeover in July
  • Finish the THIRDS website
  • Sort out GRL swag
  • Writing deadlines Jul-Dec
  • Blogging

Aside all that, there’s the emails that come in, my social media accounts I need to manage, and maintain a presence on, several other guest posts and I’m sure there’s stuff I’m forgetting.

small_6574317555I know what some of you may be thinking–those who aren’t hyperventilating–I don’t have to do a good deal of what’s on that list, or I could release less books, but like I said, this is my career. When I worked in management, I worked my butt off, so why would I give any less to something I’m so deeply passionate about? I love writing fiction and love sharing those stories with readers.

Despite all the work that goes into it, I love what I do and I’m lucky to have the support I do–the ones who don’t think I should get a real job. I also have an amazing publisher that works things through with me. If anything gets to be too much, they’re there to help. I make sure to rest and take care of myself, though I have plenty of amazing folks who remind me to come up for air should I need it. So yes, it’s getting busy around here. I hope you’ll join me along for the ride!

rosedivider

photo credit: fiddleoak via photopin cc
photo credit: thomas.leuther via photopin cc

Hello: Take Two!

weeklynewsupdateHello folks. It’s been a while since I posted something new, but this month has been somewhat disastrous for writing what with family obligations among a host of other family shenanigans. Life is bound to happen.

It’s been so crazy, I forgot my own birthday. Well, nearly. I happened to look at the calendar today and realized it’s tomorrow. I’ve also got family visiting from out of town, and next week there’s a bunch of house stuff that needs sorting. Hopefully I can get everything back on track for the new month, and maybe even get a couple of posts out before then. There are some awesome guests coming up at the Purple Rose Tea House, along with some great giveaways.

As for what I’m working on (or been attempting to work on) Hunter’s book and a historical have both been fighting for center stage pretty much nonstop, which has made things a little tough as well. It’s hard to concentrate on one story when your brain wanders off and starts thinking of another story, especially when they’re such completely different genres. I have managed to get some reading in. I want to hone my craft and make it the best it can be, so I’ve been reading up on some recommended writing books. Most of them I found on Kristen Lamb’s Blog. If you’re an author, and you haven’t checked out her blog, don’t miss out!

Yes, there are LOADS of books on writing out there, and a lot will rehash the same “rules” or principles, tell you things you already know, but there are certain books which I have found to be very helpful, not just because of the content, but because of how it’s presented. I admit, I prefer textbooks where the author “chats” to me rather than presenting paragraphs and paragraphs of clinical sounding information.

As an author, it’s my job to know my strengths and weaknesses where my writing is concerned. It’s pretty safe to say  that my strength lies in my characters. I LOVE creating characters and giving them life. My weakness, plot and structure, so I want to strengthen that. Here are the books that I’ve read/am reading:

Bob Mayer – THE NOVEL WRITER’S TOOLKIT: From Idea to Best-Seller (Writing)

James Bell ScottPlot & Structure: (Techniques And Exercises For Crafting A Plot That Grips Readers From Start To Finish) (Write Great Fiction)

Jessica page MorrellBullies, Bastards And Bitches: How To Write The Bad Guys Of Fiction (This one’s more for bad guys. I want to improve my antagonists)

I finished Bob Mayer’s book and took lots of notes, and I’m halfway through James Bell Scott’s book, highlighting and taking notes. Most of the information isn’t new, but it’s done in a way where I can pinpoint those weak spots and try to make them better. So far, I’m enjoying these books.

On the publishing front, I reckon edits on Johnnie’s book will be coming through anytime now, and then at some point, production will start on Jack’s. I’ve also got to start thinking of what I’m going to do for The Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe and The Heart of Frost once they’re published. I want to come up with some creative promo, though with Jack it will be much easier since it’s a Winter/Christmas story. Busy times ahead!

x Charlie

Tuesday Talks: Motivation Cultivation

TuesdayTalksCCochet180Hello all! Welcome to another Tuesday Talks. Today I’m yammering on about motivation. I consider myself to be very lucky. I have the opportunity to do what I love. I’ve sacrificed a good deal in order to do that, but I still consider myself very lucky. It should come as no surprise when I say being an author isn’t easy, and although I knew that when I started this venture, I really had no idea.

Being an author is more than just writing, it’s being part of something bigger. There’s a lot more to do than finish that manuscript. The whole process is rather crazy when you think about it. I sit down with an idea, work and work until that idea blossoms and characters become real, a story emerges, type, type, type until it’s ready–though to you it never feels ready enough. After the initial readying of your manuscript, with the bouts of “oh-my-god what if they don’t like it”, comes the putting on your big girl/boy pants, preparing your synopsis after the initial groaning and moaning and “how am I supposed to condense 100k into 5 pages?!!”, you survive that, sort out your blurb, general description, feel your heart beating against your chest as you compose your email to the publisher, remember to attach everything–very important, and hit send. Then you wait, wait, wait, oh my god you wait.

ccworkIn the meantime you work on something else. You blog, and tweet, and post to Facebook. you play Candy Crush Saga, and you say “please” every time a new email enters your inbox, and you wait some more. You try not to let it get to you that everyone seems to write so much quicker than you, that new contracts are popping up every day like daisies, that everyone seems to be celebrating, and you wait. You mope and play more Candy Crush and then one day, out of the blue, you open your email, and there it is. New contract. And you squee so loud they can hear you in Jersey. Then a few months later, you start your edits, and in between you blog, and you tweet, and you Facebook, and as the day gets closer you start to freak out because “what if they hate it?!” and then you have to figure out what you’re going to do for your launch, and you have to write how many blog posts? Galleys, and cover specs, and then your baby is unleashed upon the world.

You feel proud and happy and a little queasy, and you do your promos, and you start getting the reviews in, and some make your heart soar and some tear you apart, some are beautiful and some are just plain mean, and you keep going and going until the time comes when you start the whole process over again. There’s gallons and gallons of coffee involved, sleepless nights, stress, and headdesk moments. You have a dozen social media platforms to keep track of, a community to be a part of, a family who’s trying to drag you away from your PC, and you grab your keyboard because Ha! it’s wireless, and take it with you as they wheel you away–I knew I should have gotten a chair without wheels! What’s the signal range on this thing? And you have days where you wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life and why? And then you pull yourself together and get your keister back behind that desk.

yepSo no, being an author isn’t easy, but I love it, and I’ll toil and work, and not sleep, and fret, and do it all over again because I love what I do, and I love all my readers, and I love all my author friends, and I love my publishers, and I love my reviewers, and it’s one big love-fest. It’s not easy, but you pick yourself up and you try, one day at a time, and you do your best, and you KEEP GOING because you’re important and what you do is important, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! There’s ups and downs, but it’s worth it. It’s hard work, but you keep going. You find ways to keep yourself going, because the world needs stories, and people to read those stories, and someone’s gotta do it, so what are you waiting for?

How do you keep yourself motivated?

***

Thursday Thoughts: It’s Okay to Step Away

ThursdayThoughtsCCochet180Recently, I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard. I’ve given myself a couple of really tight deadlines in order to kick things into high gear. I needed it. I also need deadlines. It fuels my motivation, and helps me focus. Of course you know when you have a heavy workload, something will come along and throw a wrench in the works, backing everything up. It’s bound to happen. So you end up pushing yourself even more to catch up. On top of that is the feeling that despite everything you’re doing, you’re not doing enough.

We’re always pushing ourselves to do more, to work faster and harder, feeling insecure and inadequate at times compared to others. We all have our own pace, yet we berate ourselves for it.  We keep going, ignoring the signs until it’s too late, and we fall ill. I know I’m certainly guilty of putting work before my health, but it’s something I started changing over the last year.

ecardsI work in front of the computer twelve to fourteen hours a day, Monday to Friday–depending what I’m working on. I used to work weekends, too. At the time, I used to get more  colds, flues, headaches, stomach upsets, aches and pains. I decided I needed to learn to take a step back, for my own well-being.

Unless it’s dire, I take weekends off. I leave the house, go to the movies, shop, and forget about work. If I don’t have a deadline looming, I allow myself some days where my workload is light and finish up a little earlier. I bought a treadmill and an elliptical machine which I actually use (as apposed to the countless other exercise equipment I’ve purchased over the years that ended up as expensive clotheshorses).

I decided to give myself permission to take breaks, to take time away from my desk. I know when I do, whether it’s a day, a week, a month, everything will still be there when I get back, and I’ll feel better for it.

2013-06-14 18.36.49It’s crazy that we have to set our minds to taking time off, but it’s necessary, because if you’re not careful, burnout will sneak up on you like the baby lizard that crawls through your window and appears at your side staring at you. I’m not kidding. Here he is. I swear they pop out of nowhere. He’s also missing a bit of his tail. Probably overworked himself. See what happens when you overexert yourself? You lose your tail?!

Anyway, what I’m saying is: it’s okay to take time off.

If you’re like me, when you lay down to go to sleep, you’re still mulling over everything you need to do in your head. It takes me ages to fall asleep sometimes because my brain just won’t shut up. Then I remember to tell myself, “You can think about that tomorrow.” It’s okay to stop, watch a movie, chill out with your favorite drink, take a nap, read, and just relax. You won’t get left behind, and you’ll feel more refreshed.

Do you ever feel like you can’t step away? What do you do to relieve some of the day-to-day pressure?

Happy Holidays!

Retro Design

Hello everyone! It’ll be a little quiet on the blog until the end of December as I’ll be celebrating Christmas with the family. It’s been a long time since we’ve all spent the holidays together as I was living in London and my younger brother was serving in Irag. My first year abroad, my brother was given leave, so they all came to spend Christmas in London and we had a great time. Little bro got a bit tipsy on Guinness and ended up swiping a Guinness pint glass as a souvenir. (He was legally old enough to drink in the UK but not in the US. It still boggles my mind that he was a soldier who operated a tank, yet couldn’t legally buy a beer over here.) Anyway, he got excited that it had the queen’s seal on it, and to this day we joke about it. I like to tease him by telling him he thieved from the Queen of England.

I moved back about a year and a half ago, so I had my first Christmas home last year, but my brother had become a cop by then with a crazy cop schedule which meant he could only drop by for a while. It’s been about ten years since we’ve all had a family Christmas together and I’m really looking forward to it. Of course the folks and I are having to drive to Kansas, where little bro now lives. (Little bro, by the way, is six feet tall while I’m 5’2″. I totally got gypped in the height department.)

Yep, so dad decided it would be a good idea for us to take a road trip. That’s 24 hours in a car with my parents. Yikes! I’m taking every measure  possible to ensure I don’t go nuts. Plenty of drinks and snacks, good music, my kindle. We’re leaving in the wee hours of the morning and taking turns driving the rental–a minivan. When I’m not driving, I hope to catch up on my reading and maybe do some writing.

I’ll take some snapshots to post if I come across anything interesting. Not sure if I’ll be able to blog, but depending on service, I hope to at least tweet or post to Facebook. I’ll have my handy smartphone so I should still be able to check most things okay.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful, happy, and safe holiday season, and a very Merry Christmas if you celebrate it. Thank you all so much for your continued support, wonderful comments, and just plain awesomeness!

The Road So Far and Giving Thanks

leyendecker_1928_thanksgivingsmallHello all! 2012 is nearly gone, and what a year it’s been! As most folks do, I put a lot of pressure on myself. My motto is, if you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your ability. In my case, I’m always pushing myself to do better than what I can, and quite frankly, it can be exhausting, and harsh. It’s the reason I take so damned long to write, but I’m working on that. Of course this way of thinking is a part of me. I can’t change it, and quite frankly I don’t think I want to.

The last couple of months have been pretty tough writing-wise. I’ve had trouble focusing, and getting the words out. Julius’s book should have been finished ages ago. I remind myself I had pretty rough dental surgery in September–when I had wanted to finish his book– which pretty much put me out of commission for the month, but even so, I spent a lot of time being hard on myself. Being surrounded by so many authors who write much quicker, with new releases coming out every week, it made things even tougher. As an author, everything we write comes from inside our heads and hearts, and when your head is fighting you every step of the way, it can kill your mojo. So what do you do? You find a way to get through it. With Thanksgiving this week, I took a moment to have a little think about this year, and what I’ve accomplished.

Keep Calm Carry OnIt’s hard for me to believe how this time last year, I was anxiously waiting to hear back from both Torquere Press and Dreamspinner Press after submitting my very first two stories, The Amethyst Cat Caper and The Auspicious Troubles of Chance. I was a newer than new Newbie. My knowledge on publishing was very limited, despite a good deal of research. There’s only so much you can learn without having experienced it yourself. Then I think about the three or so years previously, the ones that lead me here. I had started writing again because I remembered how much I loved it, and missed it. I also needed an escape. Certain aspects of my life were going from bad to worse. I was miserable at my job. There were closures and redundancies, changes in my personal life which had me confused and scared. After spending eleven years in a city, and country I loved, I knew it was time to come back home, for my own good. I had made up my mind about what I wanted to do with my life by then, finally.

compass smallSome of us are born knowing what we want. We see our path and we follow it. It’s not always smooth sailing, and there are obstacles, but we know we’re heading in the right direction. Then there’s the rest of us. The ones who stand before various paths not knowing which one to take or where it will lead, and where the hell were we when they were passing out the maps and compasses? A lot of times it doesn’t matter where those paths lead, because we don’t know where the hell it is we want to go. So we wander for a while, and after a certain amount of time, we either turn back and start again, or veer off in a totally different direction. I would be of the latter variety.

I was published in February of this year. I forget that a lot. 9 months ago. That’s it. In that time I’ve had every story I submitted published. 1 long novella, 3 novellas,  and 4 short stories, with 1 full length novel near completion, and 3 other stories in various stages of development. I’ve got a slowly growing, and wonderful readership, have made some amazing friends, have been to GRL as an author and met folks who have not only read my stories, but enjoyed them. I’ve had many wonderful reviews from folks who took the time to give me feedback about my work– whether reviewers or readers, of what they liked, what I could do better, all of which I am grateful for. My very first review for my first story was four stars. I started off on a high note. I’m being helped by some pretty amazing folks who at times see more in me than I see in myself, and help pick me up when I’m feeling down. The biggest thing is I’m getting to do what I love, which is what I’ve been striving to do for many years. I have wonderfully supportive family, and friends, who’ve helped me get to where I am. All in all, this Thanksgiving, I have a huge amount to be thankful for. 2012 has been an incredible year, a life-changing year, and I’m looking forward to 2013.

It’s taken me a good while to figure out what I want to accomplish, at least partly, and even if at times I feel like I’m taking three steps back after taking one forward, I’ll keep at it, and try not to forget all the little things I have to be thankful of. And for those of you reading this, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to be here. I know you probably have loads going on in your own life, your own worries, fears, and frustrations. Thank you for all the folks you support by simply being there. Even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m no less thankful for you.

Have a Happy Thursday!

Theme Thursday: Spring is in the Air… and Giving You the Sniffles.

Theme ThursAround Springtime, catching a Cold is inevitable. At least for me, it seems. For some screwy reason, it happens around the same time every year. I’m pretty good at avoiding the evil sniffles in the Winter. Might be because it’s my favorite time of year. Don’t know.

But no matter where in the world I am, (this has been tested in two countries), someone I know catches a Cold around this time, and no matter how far or how fast I run, it snares me in its clutches. Perhaps because of all my running, I’ve allowed the beast sufficient time to mutate into something of mythic proportions.

Where does this leave me? (Aside glaring at my PC because it can’t communicate with me via telepathy and therefore not able to type what’s in my head) It leaves me burying myself under my favorite cream colored microplush (they are the best!) blanket, surrounding myself with every pillow I own (and I own a lot) and cursing the vile taste of those instant flu packet things. Of course, that’s once I’ve lost the battle, and I put up a pretty good fight. From that first throat tickle, I’m all over that trusty bottle of Echinacea, and making myself plenty of tea with lemon and honey. Coming from a Hispanic background, believe me, there’s no shortage of homemade remedies. I tell you, should I let it slip to my mom that I’m catching a cold, suddenly the League of White-Haired Abuelitas is raining down upon me with recipes from the Cuban Civil War.

Some people have to sleep through their Flu/Cold (though if I got that kinda cuddling, I wouldn’t mind so much). Some people just powerhouse through it.  I’m all about getting through it with natural remedies rather than lots of medication, but obviously everyone’s different.

So what do you do when you’ve been jumped by the evil flu beast? What makes you feel all warm and fuzzy? Chicken soup in bed? Do you go into hibernation mode and banish all breathing beings from your cave? Or do you pout and sniffle, and secretly enjoy the pampering?

x Charlie x