January 2012 archive

The cat threw up on the abacus…

No, this isn’t some clever metaphor or anything profound, this is what I woke up to this morning.

The one night we didn’t clean up the kids/baby toys and I wake up to finding cat vomit all over the new family room rug and the abacus.  Truly a great way to start the day.  Of all the places in the house (we have wood floors everywhere, hence, very easy to clean messes) our darling cat decides that all over the kids play area is the perfect place.

Cat vomit in between all those pieces on the abacus. Lovely.

I’m not sure if she was trying to do some extracurricular learning…

Excuse me while I tend to this disgusting mess.

How do you get everything done?

So, in the last year, we listed and sold our house (when our daughter was 4 mos old and our son was 4), bought a house that needed a complete renovation, moved in with my parents, gutted our new house (in 6 wks did a new kitchen, 3 new bathrooms, new floors…etc.)  and then moved in.  It’s been quite the year.  Then throw in some scary health stuff, that thankfully resolved itself, and I’m happy 2011 is gone.

I’ve put my writing back as priority Number 1 career-wise.  My only problem? Everything else is caving down around me.

Here’s the problem: We also have our own business, and I’m a big part of it=significant chunk of my time gone.  Son is gone to school during the day-unless he’s caught the latest plague from school.  DD is 15 months old, and with me all day.  So, that leaves nap-time to oh, cram in a thousand things into a 2-hour time-slot.

Eating wholesome food is a real priority for us.  No processed foods, take-out, all that is avoided as much as possible.  So by the time I cook dinner from scratch, clean, blah blah blah, all the other usual boring stuff there is very little time left-as I’m sure you can all relate.

So I’ve come up with a few things to take some of the pressure off:

1) Have freezer-food night 1x/wk.  A girlfriend of mine and I do a “Cook-a-thon” once a year in the fall and basically make a bunch of homemade pizza and Bolognese sauce and pack it up in the freezer for winter.  This has been a life-saver for me.  I’ve also started doubling up a lot of dinners and freezing them so I can add to my stash.

2) 1x/wk, throw myself and my children upon my parents and demand they feed us.  This works.  Grandparents can’t refuse darling, hungry grandchildren.

3) Saturday Nights-Whole Foods Night Takeout.  OMG, I love this store.  This is my favourite store in the whole world, and if it didn’t cost a BAZILLION dollars to do my groceries there, I would do them all there, every week.  So, I only do their takeout once a week and it’s great.

4) Take any help anyone is willing to offer.  My parents mean well and try to help, but they are aging and have their own health issues to deal with, and more often than not I get involved in their issues to try and help them out.  So, whenever they offer to help with the kids, I take it.  Even if it’s last minute (my parents have somehow managed to get through life without any sort of advanced scheduling).

5)Mess?  What mess?  Let some areas of the house go.  Yes, my mother would gasp, but it has to be done.  If you live in something larger than a shoebox, have kids and a bunch of other stuff going on, this is the only way.

6) Don’t iron.  Seriously.  I don’t believe in it, never have.  lol.

7) Coffee.  The picture says it all.

Alright, that’s all I got.  I should get back to writing.  If anyone has any other good time-saver tips, I’d love to hear them!

How long do you let it simmer?

Now, I’m not talking about dinner, I’m talking about your manuscript.

How long, after you’ve finished, polished, and done a complete read-through are you ready to send it off?  Do you let it sit for a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks?  I haven’t found the perfect answer yet.  Sometimes when it feels like I’ve been staring and re-reading the same thing too many times to be able to objectively critique it, I need to put it away for a while.  But that’s not always possible.  What if you have a deadline?  What if it’s requested material?

As I so stupidly posted my goals with deadlines down below, I’m supposed to have this done by Sunday night!  At this rate, I’m not sure it’s going to happen.  Just got back from the doctor’s because I finally caved and admitted to myself that I have a sinus infection…and went to get some meds.  So, there goes being able to have some wine tonight, which means, again, if someone read my post below, means I can’t write the love scene.  And even without wine, throbbing cheekbones does NOT lend itself to writing about any other throbbing body parts in a romantic setting, lol.

Is there a point that you start hating your manuscript?  Right now, I’m kind of hating what I’ve written.  I’m hoping it’s because I’ve re-read the same darn chapters over and over again.  Because I really did like this manuscript, oh, a couple of weeks ago.  And I’m sure I’m going to love this manuscript again at some point once I’ve detached myself from it.  And then I’m going to hate it again after I press the send button to email it off to my agent and wait.

How do you know it’s ready?  Is a manuscript ever really ‘ready’?

Writing the love scene…

You’d think for someone who writes romance, I wouldn’t dread writing the love scene, because after all this is a love story, right?

Well, I have problems with it.

And I must admit, I have gotten more comfortable with it, but it takes conscious effort.  I still need to block out the fact that people I know, probably my mother one day, will be reading theses scenes.  I’m in my thirties, I have two children, so this shouldn’t still be this daunting should it? The lines I’m targeting don’t have explicit loves scenes, so what’s my problem?

I know if I’m reading a romance novel, the love scene very important.  It’s intimate and can convey so many vital feelings that may not have been exposed before.  The characters are making themselves vulnerable.  And when the scene is over, things have changed between them.  Their relationship can never be the same.  This is a lot of pressure on a poor writer like myself, lol.  I feel like I need to convey the deep emotion, the passion without getting bogged down by the details…

Anyone have any tips on how to get over it?  One thing I’ve discovered is wine.  Yes, a glass of wine does help, as sad as that sounds.  And depending how much trouble I’m having, a second glass doesn’t hurt either, lol.  I find the wine helps get rid of the inhibitions (mine, not my characters’).  But seriously, if I’m going to make a career out of writing romance novels, I’m hoping wine isn’t always going to be required because, um, I may develop a little bit of a problem, lol.

Finding your voice…

Obviously I’m not talking about my singing voice, because I can’t sing.  Really, not at all.

What I’m talking about is my own unique voice in my writing.  We all have it.  It can take a while to figure out when you are using your real voice in your manuscripts and when you’re just writing what you think you should be writing or what you think is your real voice.  When I look back on my first manuscript, it’s so painful that I either need to drink alcohol while I look through it, or I just end up putting it away with a shudder.  I’m so humiliated for myself and can’t believe I actually sent it off to a publisher, lol.  And if I think about it, that manuscript was made up of so many different voices-voices of my favourite authors, favourite books…and I didn’t even realize it.  It sounded awkward and forced.  Because it wasn’t my own.

Thankfully, I’ve come a long way.  And one of the main reasons is because I’ve finally found my own voice.  I’m not writing what I think I should be writing.  I’m not writing in a way that imitates someone else.  I’m writing what comes naturally.  What flows from my head and onto the page.  I think if you’re true to your voice, it shows in your writing and makes your manuscript believable and genuine.

What about you?  Have you struggled with this?  Have you ‘found’ your voice?

Setting Goals…

I’ve got some big goals this year and I think coffee and consistency will be my official themes for 2012.  I’m going to try and accomplish a handful at a time and revise/rework them depending what opportunities or curve balls life throws my way.  But one thing I know for sure? I am committing to writing every day.  Every day.

I’ve got a few things on the go…

1) Contest Entry: Harlequin’s SYTYCW

2) Contest Entry: Gotcha!

3) Finishing up manuscript that I want to hit “send” on by next Sunday, January 28th.  (see, it wasn’t that hard to commit to a date!)

4) Revise and polish a manuscript based on editor/agent feedback…by February 28th.

…I am going to stop there and then see how it goes….

 

Back in the saddle…

Well, I think I can safely and officially say I’m back in the saddle.  While I don’t think I’m back in the ‘zone’, I’m close.  I feel like with each day I’m getting closer to getting back into the zone, to finding that sweet spot that I had before life got in the way last year.  And I really hate that life did get in the way, for so long, because I’m not a person who likes to make excuses.  I’m learning how to compartmentalize-thank you Sidney Bristow (Alias, what a great show that was).  So, onwards and upwards!

I am consistently at my computer, at my WIP, every day during baby’s nap time and as soon as both kids are in bed for the night.  I’m getting back into the groove of my WIP that I’ve been working on for an embarrassingly long time. Hopefully the few things I have to iron out will be done quickly so that I can get to that fun part of the MS where words flow in unison to the music and the keyboard clacking at a fast pace cheers me on.

It does feel good to be back in the saddle, that’s for sure.

Stealing some time…

Anyone with small children ever able to do this?

If you’re home with your kids, are you able to sneak away for a few minutes and quickly get into your WIP? Or do you require absolute concentration in order to pull out a half-decent sentence?  When my son was small I was able to bring my laptop into whatever room he was playing in and work on my WIP.  Now that I have 2 kids, and the youngest is 15months I find it impossible to concentrate with anyone around!  There is no way any coherent thoughts will make their way into my MS.

There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done though.  So, what I’m trying to do is get blog posts, planning, housework done during the day, around the kids.  Then, at night, I can give my writing my complete focus…unless like last night when my darling daughter woke up every hour for no apparent reason-that is until I spotted 3, yup 3, teeth trying to bust their way through her sore gums.  So today is all about stealing away as many minutes I can and trying to make up for last night’s lack of work.

And thank goodness for nap time…for my daughter, not me :)

Starting the week with a messy house…

As much as I say “I don’t care about housework,” I kinda do.  I am one of those people who cannot function in a disorganized environment.  Sure, I can let things go for a ‘bit’.  But not long.  I mean, when laundry starts piling up and not getting put away…I start panicking.  Seriously.  It’s pathetic I know.  I think part of the problem is that I feel like I’ve got so much ‘stuff’ on my plate right now that a chaotic home is just too much to take too.  I already have issues with thinking clearly with kids in the room, lol, a messy house and loud kids and husband just make it all feel out of control.  So neat means,’ in control’.

And I especially like to start off Monday morning with a nice clean house.  Well, let me rephrase that: a nice, organized house.  I can overlook a couple dust-bunnies (or quite a few thanks to our furball cat who literally walks around in a constant state of shedding).  But, I have to have a clean and tidy main floor.  Laundry needs to be put away.  Kitchen has to be clean.  Entrance clutter free.  It’s a good way to start the week.  But I’ve learned to let go of a lot of the other stuff.  When I look back on my life I’d rather say, wow, “I’m so glad I’m a published author,” rather than “I’m so happy my house was always shiny and clean and that I never pursued publication!”

There’s only so much me to go around.  I’ve made being at home with my kids a priority.  But I’ve also sacrificed because I do still have a day job-we have our own business, so that means me being with the kids and fitting in business stuff during evenings, which leaves precious little time to pursue writing.  So if something’s gotta give this year, it’s gonna be the housework :)

 

Snow Day!

Finally some snow!  January 13th and this is the first real snowfall we’ve had-which is unusual for the Toronto area.

I for one welcome it!  When it gets to this time of the year and many of the days are gloomy and winter is still on the horizon for many more weeks, I think that a little snow is needed.  I mean, without it everything looks muddy (because of nasty, cold January rain) and brown, and dead.  So, I’d much rather be looking out at a nice dusting of snow!

For the most part.  I mean, when I was outside, without boots on this morning clearing off the car while the baby and kiddo were in the cold car waiting to go to school, it wasn’t exactly fun.  But, I didn’t complain because I really was missing the snow this year.  And the kids looooove it.  My 5 yr old squeeled with delight and raced out the front door. All the way to school he was contemplating what games they were going to play outside at recess in the snow.  It was so cute to listen too.  And of course, even when I got the inevitable gust of snow thrown at me because he just couldn’t contain himself I could only laugh.  Now check back with me in February when I get snow thrown in my face if I’ll still be laughing, lol.

I find snow inspiring, uplifting, and beautiful.  Just look at that pic-doesn’t it make you wonder about that man in the photo?  Who is he?  Where is he going?  Who is he meeting?  Lots of inspiration…

As for writing inside, with the view of the snow-capped trees in the forest behind our home, with a nice, hot cup of coffee while baby naps?  Well, that’s just priceless :)

 

1 2

Join My Victoria James Official Newsletter Subscription For Exclusive Extras!
The Romance Reviews