Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not to decide is to decide...

I came home from my mini-retreat SO stoked! 20+K on the re-write of Book #1 in the Dreamland Series AND Book #1 of The Kate Chronicles edited and ready to go up on Amazon. To date, I've not written another single word on the former NOR put up the latter. WHY?

Well, once again, real life reared its inconvenient head. I've spent the past week and a half playing catch-up. But--one can't live on retreat, so what to do?

Mainly, I'm debating with myself about whether to:

(1) Get the other two books of The Kate Chronicles ready to go up at 10-day intervals
(2) Put up a stand-alone novel

The question is: Which of the above choices will catch the readers' eyes? Have I boxed myself into  a corner with the successful Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series? Will readers be disappointed that The Kate Chronicles isn't remotely like the Penelope series? Would a stand-alone novel incorporating minimal romance but lots of suspense be a better tool to keep the momentum going?

See me pulling my hair, gnashing my teeth, weeping and wailing as I try to decide.

Someone once said, "Not to decide is to decide."

Penelope is still selling well--almost 500 books in January alone. But the "rule" is to follow up quickly, and though I ignore many rules of writing, I don't think this is one which should be shoved aside.

What to do? Anyone out there have any ideas?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sound the retreat!

I'm getting away this week--quite literally! The question arises, "Why would you need to 'get away' when you live alone?" I just do. I need to be where I can focus on writing-related things--not think of two dozen ways to spend time tidying up a closet or cupboard or running to Walmart or prowling around town! This is a working 'vacation'!!

After looking for quite some time for a cozy cabin, I stumbled on the Living Water Retreat and am booked into their Love cabin. Due to bitter cold weather followed by ice and rain, I haven't gotten everything done here I intended, but you know what? The recycling will be here when I get back. Ditto the few Christmas decorations left to be put away. (Hey, they're down anyway!) Ditto the bins to go through to make decisions on what to keep/what to dispose of. At least the inside 'spring cleaning in winter' is done!

I'm about to tackle the list of things to pack for these lovely five days. Sweats and flannel nighties go into the suitcase first! I'm not budging from the cabin except for a walk along the river or to sit on the porch if the weather cooperates. I've done some baking and gathered some easy packaged meals. I don't have a set-in-stone agenda, but I know what I need to accomplish while I'm there.

So--sound the retreat! I'm outta here!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sometimes you just gotta say it...

Someone posted this on Facebook, and I shared it. I can't get it out of my mind, because there is so much in my day-to-day life which gets between God and me. I don't mean for it to--I don't choose those things--but it happens.

For example, I don't have television service because there is so much I don't need to/won't watch: the language, the violence, the political ads directly opposed to my Christian faith. I don't miss it because I go to the library and check out documentaries and oldies but goodies where there was no foul language and where fade to black was more titillating than all the graphic scenes so prevalent today. I checked out a movie yesterday.This movie was 'newer', and I'd seen it before and remembered it being a sweet/funny story--but as I watched again, my ears were assaulted by four-letter words I'd forgotten were there and also a 'situation'. I'm ashamed to admit I continued to watch, conveniently overlooking what I should not have dismissed. I'll try not to make the same mistake again.

Over a year ago, I checked out of Facebook, then later set up a new page for the specific purpose of promoting the Penelope books. I don't spend a lot of time there, and I've found and shared lots of good things. I've also cringed at some of the pictures and posts which hit me in the face as I open up and scroll through. Reluctantly, I've unfriended folks who continue to post pictures of near-naked men/women and punctuate their posts with obscenities. It just doesn't get my day off to a good start.

Please don't misunderstand--the human body is a beautiful thing. I've been privileged to walk through European art galleries and stand in awe before sculptures and paintings by the 'old masters'. But it's a sacred thing, too, and it hurts to see something God created put 'out there' for other purposes. I don't buy/read books from authors (even if I know and like them personally) where the focus is on purely sexual attraction and graphically written.

So I expect I'll be doing more unfriending in 2014, not because I feel exclusive or better than anyone but because...if it stops you from getting closer to God, it needs to go.

Call it anything you like, but the truth is, our world--our country--is in trouble. Oh, sure, it's been in trouble before, but it got better because people stood up for what was right even when it wasn't popular/politically correct to stand up and speak out.  There's not enough of that going on these days. Call it old age--but as one gets older, one realizes that the opportunity to stand up is fading. I've stood up and spoken out before--and I've stood down and kept quiet, too, for no good reason. I'm proud of the former and ashamed of the latter.

This is my 70th year. Who knows if it's my last--or if 20 more loom ahead? I don't want to waste a single day of whatever is given.

I heard this at church today:  Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people ever read. 

I'm going to try...and fail...and try again...but I am going to try.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Organized is good...also the art of NO

Yes, it is! I've spent the last two days rearranging/reorganizing my kitchen, pantry, and utility room, and verily I say unto is good! I have a few drawers in my bedroom to take care of--just the usual yearly straightening--but all in good time.

I guess I've always been organized as far as the big things--keeping up with important papers/information, etc., because that's how I was brought up. But I let many of the smaller areas slide into pure chaos, citing the pressure of work, kids, and so on. After I retired, I began to make inroads on knowing where things were without having to look. Of course, now I have grandchildren who have taken over the guest room and that closet, but I go in periodically and reorganize that, too, and if they can't find what they want, they can look for it themselves!

It's a good feeling to be organized, because that equals being in control. No, let me rephrase that--it means taking control of my life in ways I never did before. Again--I used the excuses of work, kids, parents, and so on. After I retired, I felt I could finally be me--but others had different ideas. So, it's taken a few precious years of my retirement to be able to stand up and say,

No, I don't want the garage 'organized' that way.
No, I can't be 'on-call' for you any longer, and that doesn't make me selfish.
No, I don't like the pictures hung on the wall that (not my) way.
No, I won't have someone out to blow leaves before they are all off the trees.
No, I will not apologize for buying the car I wanted instead of what someone else wanted.
No, I am not 'morbid' for getting my affairs in order so you don't have to go through what I did.
No, I will not apologize for 'cluttering up' my garage with recycling which I take regularly.
No, I am not sorry I have bins of 'old' keepsakes put away--someone is going to want them someday.
No, I am not whining when I say I'm tired--I'm not thirty any more.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  

It's been a hectic holiday season--not that I planned it that way. I've provided daycare for grandchildren out of school. I've had company and cooked and cleaned and cooked some more. On Monday the girls go back to school. I have a list of things to accomplish in town. Not this Sunday but the next, right after church, I am taking off for a week's 'writing retreat' at this lovely little spot ( not too far away--but far enough to be out of reach! I have a book ready to go up on Amazon, which will include marketing, and will do some writing on the new cozy mystery series. Just solitude, rippling water, and me--and hopefully some warmer weather for porch-sitting and walking about.

I have a busy year ahead--seven books to get 'out there'. I'm organized and ready for the adventure!