Workspace or Potential Hoarding Episode?

It is the last day of my vacation. Sigh. I’m perusing my to-do list, and have completely accomplished close to two of the ten items I had written down. Yup. I have to confess that the internet is an evil, evil curse that has me in its vice-like grip on a daily basis. Lest you think I’ve just been shopping at Amazon (ok, maybe a little) and reading about Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrests, most of it has been productive work on my alter-ego’s blog, research, sales promos, putting together and ordering some SWAG, and other social media concerns.

But seriously – I just don’t have time for a job. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for homelessness either, so off to work I shall go tomorrow.

(Random side note: As I am in the process of writing an historical erotic manuscript, I find that the cadence of my prose has taken on a decidedly 19th century lilt. Stuff of nonsense!)

Okay, I’m back. On the plus side, each day as I have forced myself to “close tabs” on internet explorer, I have managed to squeeze out  approximately 16K words on said historical work. 4K more, and I will have reached my vacation goal. It could happen. Remember – sleep is for wimps. The other plus side is that I had a BLAST with my family last weekend when we actually left the confines of our little coastal world and went somewhere. Shocking, I know. We had two eating and shopping and eating, and more eating packed days, first at the Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood –

Reason # 1 for the visit: they filmed the exteriors of The Shining here.

Now we’ve been on the Pacific Crest Trail in California & Oregon. Okay, not for more than a few hours – but it still counts!

There were chipmunks running around the dining room where we ate at their amazing lunch buffet. Gordon Ramsey would be scandalized. I thought they were cute. What’s a little rodent hair amongst friends? And then we continued our frivolity in Portland at the Pittock Mansion

Kashmere with John – Lord of the Manor

 

Living Room/Slash Music Room

And the Washington Square Mall and Cheesecake Factory where much money was spent on doo-dads and smelly stuff from Hot Topic, Spencer’s and Bath & Body Works, culminating with a birthday feast at the Cheesecake Factory. At one point, I was certain I would never be hungry again (as if) – we ate so much.

 

(2nd random side note: I was so inspired by the Lodge & the Mansion, that they are now being featured as locales in my sci-fi romance epic, which, God help me, shall be finished one day. After the other myriad projects. And stuff.)

Which brings us all back to my last day of vacation. On the sad little list is an entry that says “Clean-up and organize workspace”. If I’d had an ounce of intelligence, that would have been the very first thing I tackled. How I get anything accomplished is beyond me. But I realize I’ve always battled the whole ‘paper’ thing. I can remember complaining to someone years ago – prior to the advent of PC’s for every man, woman & child on the planet – that I was drowning in paper. Once the PC came along, I thought all my worries would be solved. Yet – all that has seemed to accomplish is to produce more and more paper. I should write a horror film about the Revenge of the Killer Document.

Alright, prepare to be frightened:

I know its in here somewhere…

You should have seen the office back when I had the record label – now that was epic. Band photos, post cards, lists of distributors, flyers, radio charting, festival lists, record store lists (back when those still existed) and Lord only knows what else. A great deal of it tends to be my frenzied scribbles on scraps of paper whenever anything leaps into my frazzled little mind.

So even though the rest of the house is a well-oiled, meticulously kept clean machine (courtesy of the hubby, who has kindly decided not to divorce me over my little corner of paper hell), this one area needs some serious help. In the interest of heel-dragging and not cleaning it up, I have elected to write this post. But by doing so, I have also crossed one more thing off of my list.

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Exercising My Right to Freely BBQ

I am so off schedule, it’s up there with completely ridiculous. Obviously, my posting at this blog has suffered greatly, and most of you who follow along on my writing journey know that it’s due to the recent publication of my alter-ego’s first book.

Quick update: Going great – seems like a good response so far. No reviews or royalty statement, so I am currently in Wonderland as to how many units have sold and whether or not people love or hate this thing. For my impatient demeanor, that has been frustrating, yet to be expected. I am moving to phase 2 of promo; after the virtual blog tour for the anthology, I am now setting up – or supposed to be setting up, sigh – the next blog tour for the standalone release on June 11th. More on that later.

That actually brings me to the present, and why I’m even more off-schedule. It’s been a non-stop drama-fest at work for the last week or so with more ch-ch-ch-changes. Some of you will remember that my position was eliminated in a corporate re-structuring (paste my name and face on thousands upon thousands of Americans around the country) blablabla three months ago. Due to my friend and co-worker’s enormously wise decision to escape from Hellhouse, my job has just become available again. Which would mean going back to salary exempt, staying up all hours to write, being exhausted, and not getting to make homemade potato salad and Sopapilla cheesecake pie (thanks for that recipe, very wise co-worker) on a holiday Monday that I get to spend with my family. The financial reward? A few hundred bucks. Not that I don’t need that few hundred bucks (I do), but I still haven’t seen that royalty statement yet. Will it replace that money? And haven’t we survived these last few months without it? And if I don’t make up the money now, won’t a few months down the road (and more completed writing) replace it then?

Enter my boss who swooped down on our little beach hamlet last Monday to grill us all like day-old grilled cheese sandwiches ( I have no idea what that means) on what our workplace intentions were. And to ask if I’d like my old job back. Uh…….hmmmmmmm…well….NO. I need to stay true to my writing path, and my sanity. And, okay, I confess; I did have a little bit of a “HA! NOW you want me! Forget it…” moment. But hey, I’m human, and I have been taking it in a part of my anatomy that shall remain unmentioned, quite a lot lately at this job.

I am now officially the trouble-maker. Or, the worse than ever before trouble-maker. But I need to stay true to my path here, and to my family that is also along for the ride. However, it’s been stressful because since I didn’t make it easy by neatly filling in the gap at work just as we go into our busy season, the boss is not thrilled. I did leave the position available for others – one in particular – who would do great and really benefit from it – but not according to the corporate rules and regulations. In other words, the expected and proper line of ascension up the corporate ladder. Such nonsense. So I say – they are bringing it on themselves, which is why all of this happened in the first place. Had well enough been left alone, my wise co-worker and I might have just stuck it out. But once she got my job – in addition to the essentially two jobs she was already doing – dumped on her, well, there’s only so much one person can take in the name of corporate down-sizing.

But here we are, it’s a nice day, and we’re all celebrating (those who don’t work retail anyway) the freedoms we have because others sacrificed and fought for us. I haven’t had a holiday day off like this in the four years since I took this job, so I’m going to exercise my right to BBQ – and to be with my family for a change. Happy Memorial Day to my American friends out there!

 

It’s Here! And it Needs to be Promoted…

I thought I would check in with y’all since I am so overloaded currently, that even pretending to write about my far-distant freak show past would be a useless exercise, so instead, I shall bring everyone up to date.

My alter-ego’s first book was released yesterday! Yee-ha! I have been a very well-behaved modern author, and have been booking and following through on a virtual blog tour promo schedule. There are giveaways, excerpts, thought-provoking (one can only hope) posts, interviews and such to deal with on a daily basis over the next few weeks. Once that concludes, than the stand alone comes out a little earlier than I originally thought: June 11th. This means another round of promo events. Then in August, the print version of the anthology comes out – more promos. September? Why that’s when the second book comes out. Hopefully, as suggested recently by the publisher, I will have turned in the first of my three-book series, so that an excerpt can be included in the back. Hmmmm…I sense a pattern here.

Many writers have lamented the fact that they have to be their own marketing gurus. It’s not that you don’t get support from your publisher, but that support can vary massively, depending on the publisher’s muscle. Translated: cash flow. I feel very fortunate with my marketing person and the publisher.  They take their business very seriously, and have been successful at it, when many others in the relatively new erotica genre have failed. My direct contact is communicative, creative and very involved. They have offered me multiple opportunities to get my name out there: writing articles, peer reviews, chat groups and so on. They’ve provided me with free review copies, in addition to the lists they already send out to. But they also have anywhere from 4 -8 new releases EVERY week, some are anthologies, so to think they are spending all of their energy on one book from an untried author is – as my boss at work would say – crack-smoking madness.

It’s here, and it needs to be promoted. It’s also my baby, my responsibility. Which means that every day I’m not taking advantage of the opportunity presented to me currently, is another day I’m slapping another writer trying to get their work out there in the face. In the interest of not slapping any of my wonderful writer compatriots in the face, I want to assure you that I have been staying on top of it. Of course, that means other things suffer. Like my writing.

The time and energy to keep up with writing my memoir pieces at this blog – which are for my soul, no less – has been greatly compromised. So has the writing time I need to put in to the first book in the series my new editor said she was very interested in, and would recommend to the publisher. That cannot be neglected. So now, even at this small level, all of this gives me a glimpse into a full-time writer’s future. It’s not unexpected. I figured it would be like this. Figuring and living are two very different things though.

Other little realizations: I still want to do this. I’m absolutely okay with climbing on to the writer hamster wheel. Also – writing guest blog posts and answering interview questions is helping me to think on my feet more. Writing under pressure and deadline is helping me to keep the writing flowing better. I am becoming –  I feel anyway – a well-oiled machine. Is this good? I think so. It beats sitting around wondering what to write about, and maybe getting a page or two down, or a couple random ideas, and then deciding I hate it later on. The other day I scheduled seven hours of writing on the new book, and gave myself a 5,000 word goal. I felt I was over-reaching a little, but I am feeling the pressure to get these guys out there – they are all going to be between 30-40,000 words each – so I need to quit screwing around. Once I set my mind to it – I hit 5,200 words in the allotted time. I even liked most of the words afterwards.

Speaking of which, I have another 5,000 word goal today. And of course, another promo blog post to do for the new baby…

Here’s to Making it Count

Since my last post – the longest I think I’ve gone between posts before – I have been putting my plan of action into…well, action. This means sticking to that writing schedule for my alter-ego, and producing content on a regular basis. As of two nights ago, I completed over 12,000 words of my latest story, which I plan to have edited, formatted, with cover art and uploaded by January 31st. All of this is awesome.

The other part to this production plan was to limit my blog posts here to once a week. That means when I post, I really want to make it count. I’ve had to consider why I started to blog in the first place, and exactly what making it count might mean to me. One of the long-term goals I originally set for myself as a writer was to be a memoirist. That is actually what got me back into the serious writing fray, and continues to nag at me. The writers that pop into my head when I try to picture where I would like to be placed are Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris, Phillip K. Dick, Suzanne Collins, Margaret Atwood and Stephen King.

I’m all over the map here, I know.

But things have become so cool and mellow for me these last few years, that the previous junkyard of my existence stands out in obvious relief. What used to be just a typical hodge-podge of psychodrama, nutjobs, bizarre occurrences and stupidity, has morphed into the daily life of someone who isn’t on the brink of either despair, serious meltdown or yet another asshole boyfriend. Never mind the music business. That was its own daily fresh hell. When you mixed all of that together, it made for a, shall we say, “challenging” lifestyle. It just isn’t like that anymore.

This has given me that fun little device known as perspective. I see things now how they really were – or at least – how I view they really were. It’s a whole other realization baby! Sometimes the memories hit me like a whack in the face or punch in the gut.  They range from dreadful to hilarious, but they are never mundane in emotion. I have wanted to lay these moments bare for a long time.

So, If  I’m only going to post here once a week, I intend to start taking the notebooks and journals I’ve been scribbling in for a while, and try to make some sense of what happened to me in the first 40 years of my life. Yeah, I know. Good luck with that. I’m not going to blog my memoir here, far from it, but I want to explore some of the different scenarios I’ve been through, even if it’s just in the form of reminiscing. The idea is that it would eventually lead me to that place down the line where I could actually make the memoir part of my production schedule.

On that note, my alter-ego needs to get back to work – and pay some more of the bills around here!

I Couldn’t Do it Without You

I’m listening to Goldfrapp’s Supernature right now and trying to get a grip. I have a few days off of work (I’m taking my Thanksgiving day off right now – gotta love retail), and one thing the hubby and I did this past week was work on a production schedule for me. Not one minute of this year can be wasted! We sat down for a couple of  hours and hashed out what I’ve accomplished – somewhat unexpectedly – this past year, and how we can keep the train a’rolling.

Now that I’ve actually got my foot – or perhaps just my big toe – in the publishing door, it would be the height of stupidity not to take the proverbial ball and run with it. This is exactly the type of stupidity I have been known for in the past, and am not at all anxious to repeat. Especially at this stage of the game – I don’t have forever here folks.

The result is that I have had to take a hard look at the relatively small amounts of time that I actually get to write. In between the writing I need to stay in touch with my alter-ego’s blog, facebook, twitter, promo and review opportunities. There’s also the matter of my family and this 40 hour-plus job I show up at every week. We discussed what stories/novels I’m working on and want to work on this year. It soon became way too obvious that I have too much on my plate. So we made a list. We checked it more than twice, and we drew a red line through the things that needed to be let go for now.

I’d quit my job, but I’m too fond of food and shelter. I know, so greedy. I need to spend time with my family – they are the only thing that keeps my tenuous hold on sanity. I also need to continue to produce material in the genre that I’m currently successful in. With all of that in mind, I’ve let go of some things that I had planned on doing in 2012.

The first would be that I’m not submitting anything to Rain Magazine, a literary journal that has published me the last couple years. That was tough – but I don’t have anything ready to submit, and I would have to start from scratch, or work on something I already have going. In other words, not generate any content under my pseudonym while working on that – and she has some hard deadlines that John and I agreed on. I also have a couple other contests that I typically enter in, such as Writer’s Digest, Women on Writing Flash Fiction, Glimmer Train, and I had an invitation to submit to the Glass Woman Prize for being a first reader in their last contest. I will not be doing any of those things for this year. I will also likely be only blogging once a week here so that I can stick to my schedule.

But I do have plans to finish my NaNo novel and submit it to my publisher. Finish my series that I currently have up on Amazon. Submit to my editor for at least two submission calls the publishing company has out. And finish at least one short/novella a month, using the already-begun material that is festering in my computer. This along with all of the other afore-mentioned stuff. The reality is that I had to make hard choices. The other reality is that I will forever be a shirt-folder unless I make it happen as a writer. If my alter-ego rescues me from retail hell, then I bet she’ll let me put a chunk of time into my Wren Andre projects. I know her pretty well, and she’s cool like that.

Finally, I couldn’t do it without my family’s support – especially John – he is so amazing. I know he realizes that already, and I run the risk of making his head explode with his awesomeness, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. My daughters – and fellow artists – are a continuous source of inspiration to me. I also have to say that it’s been an unbelievably wonderful experience commiserating and meeting so many other writers and book-lovers online. You guys rule! Every one of you makes me want to keep pushing through when I’m so exhausted all I want to do is watch something stupid on T.V. and pass out when I come home. Thank you. I really couldn’t do it without you.

Resolutions Schmesolutions

Wow. What just happened? I think it was the holidays. And 2011. Hmmmm. I’m still trying to resurrect myself from the dirty martini-filled haze of last night, but I do believe I shall turn my sights to what I would like to achieve for 2012. I’ve been reading several blog posts today that predictably discuss this subject, and of course, the familiar term “resolutions” has popped up repeatedly. Yawn.

Resolutions remind me of giant fail opportunities. A list of over-the-top goals that I will never reach this year, or any other year, and will be broken one by one within the first 72 hours of the first glow of 2012. Probably people who are more mature and grounded than I am, have the opposite view; they likely see resolutions as their moment to shine in the new year, to get a head start on being as fabulous as ever. I might feel more fabulous once the family and I go out and eat a large platter of Mexican food at El Mariachi Loco today. Or perhaps not.

What I do like to do at the start of the new year however, is to reflect. To take a moment and look back at the good, bad and atrocious of how last year went. To remember who I am and what I’m about, and where I was last year at this time. Then there’s how I did, or didn’t, make the last year one that I feel helped me to move forward in my goals as a writer. In doing this today, I realized that many of my goals ( not resolutions!) for myself as a writer came about. There were those that I really nailed, some that didn’t even get my attention until half the year was over, and others I never even considered at the beginning of last year, but came about because I had set other writer goals that lead me to them.

What’s great about easing yourself into your goals, and paying attention to how they grow and evolve through the course of the year, is that it does leave you the opportunity to change to a better course. For example, I determined at the beginning of last year that I was going to finally give in and write under a pseudonym in a genre of fiction that I had a lot of ideas for, but was not the main genre I wanted to be known for as a writer. I had struggled with that for a long time, because I felt that I might be “cheating” my memoir writing or other writing I was doing as myself. There are only so many hours in the day after all. Especially when you’re living the non-stop thrill ride of retail management.

But it turned out to be a great decision. I’m a better writer for it. When I do turn my attention to my other writing, I will be more seasoned. I turned out more writing last year than I have since I was a teenager ( how scary is that? – that was a long flippin’ time ago!). And somewhere along the line as I grew more confident, I self-published, a goal that I had never even considered at the start of last year. That lead to me making money as a writer for the first time in years (and the first time ever as a fiction writer), and then I was signed to a book publishing company. Damn.  Most of those accomplishments never would have even made it onto any January 2011 list.

The bottom line here kids, is to not lock yourself into a static list of goals that you have to come up with on New Year’s day, and that you must stick with faithfully, or your whole year is a fail. Use this day, this week, this beginning – to reflect on what has been working for you as a writer, and what needs to be recharged. Then you can come up with a course that might work. If you need to list it, or outline it, or plan it out meticulously – do what you need to. But allow yourself to evolve with it, and don’t hold yourself hostage to “the list” if you veer into another direction. Life rarely allows us to adhere to a strict plan.  Go with the flow man, go with the flow.