Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.
Autistic, asexual, and almost forty, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley flees London with her cat and turtle to a quaint cottage in Cornwall. She craves the peace of life in a small village. The dead body buried in her garden isn’t quite what she had in mind, though.
Will Motts survive the onslaught of murderously bad luck?
Can she solve the mystery before it all spins out of control and off a cliff?
I wanted to talk about a little trick I use to help me get going in the mornings. I tend to wake up quite early but then struggle to accomplish things. It’s not helpful to get up early if all I’m going to do is sit at my desk and stare at social media without really processing anything I’m looking at.
Before I start, I thought it might be useful to share a brilliant YouTube video that goes into what executive dysfunction is.
I doubt this will work for everyone. We’re all different. But I thought it might be nice to share a trick I’ve found to work with and around bad executive dysfunction days.
For me, if I can get myself through a few tasks early on, I find it helps me through the rest of the morning. Before I go to bed, I work through a bullet list of things I want to accomplish first thing the next morning. When I wake up, the first thing I do is once again go through that list.
So, for example, this morning, my process was to think through:
walking the dog
cleaning the kitchen and emptying the dishwasher
write for ten minutes without doing anything else on my computer
Once I’ve completed a list, I occasionally go through the rest of my to-do list. But more often than not, I’m either already moving on to other tasks, or I’m having a bad day, and that’s the end of it. The truth is that just because I have tricks that work, it doesn’t mean they always do.
Some days are just bad executive dysfunction days. I’ve learned to be kind to myself on those days. Pushing doesn’t accomplish anything. Not really. It tends to wind up with me having to redo things because I haven’t done them right the first time.
I thought it would be fun to share a few things that inspired Farm to Fabre. It started with farming shows. I watched loads of them.
Other inspiration came from the time I spent a child on my adoptive grandparent’s farm. It was a lot different from Andie’s farm in the book. But it did give me an idea for where I wanted to go.
For Doc, I didn’t have to look far for inspiration. My own battles with writer’s block and other struggles came in handy. It was almost cathartic to be able to talk through some of it, even if in fictional form.
I don’t remember when I started having a word of the year. Though, I do know I was inspired by a good friend, Lisa DiDio. But I often have two ‘words’ of the year.
One for my personal life and one for my writing.
This year I wanted to approach things a little differently. Well, maybe not differently, but more to expand on the theme. So instead of a word, more of an action or perhaps both? I’m not sure that makes sense but I shall attempt to muddle through my thoughts.
First? My words/phrase for the year…
Personal: be kind to myself
Writing: find joy in words
In all honesty, I’m not always as kind to myself as I should be. So that more than anything else is the focus of my personal goal for the year. To learn how to be kinder and more patient with myself. I imagine it’s going to be a bit of a challenge.
For writing, there are times when deadlines absolutely kill my joy. There are necessary evils but they often zap my energy and leave me floundering. I get so wrapped up in trying to rush through that I’m no longer having fun.
And enjoying my writing is incredibly important to my process.
I’m planning to do a little journaling this year to see how I progress with my intentions.
As we start the new year, I thought it might be fun to share my planner set up for 2023. It might be a little intense. I have a few different ones that I use for different things.
I’ve used planners for a while now. It’s taken me a while to find a set-up that works for me. I went through a bunch of different planners/bullet journal ideas before I found the ones that work for me.
I have a weekly planner that I use for my writing and personal stuff. I took a photo back in December before I’d done more than put some stickers from Sweet Kawaii Design into it.
This is the planner I use for figuring out my week in advance. I also track my writing goals and personal goals in it.
The second planner I use is more of a notebook that has a to-do list in it. I use this for a monthly brainstorm and to-do for author stuff that isn’t necessarily writing but admin/promo/etc.
The third planner that I use is a simple Campus (by Kuyoko) Monthly one. It’s literally just a month-at-a-glance spread. I use it to keep track of promos, book releases, and deadlines. I find it really handy to be able to flip through each month and figure out what I’m doing (or what I’ve already set up in advance.)
The last thing I use isn’t a planner but a simple long notebook. It’s for a daily to-do list where I take what’s on my other planners and jot down by order of importance what I’d like to get done. Executive Dysfunction means that I don’t always complete my to-do list, but I find it helps me feel less stressed if I can see what needs to get done.
Some of my characters are created on the fly while I’m writing. Often, they’re ones that show up unexpectedly. Or, I’m so eager to start the novel that I don’t stop to consider who a character is until they’ve appeared into the story.
Dempsey from my Motts series was a character who surprised me. I never imagined he’d appear at all, never mind showing up in three of the novels. He played a far more central role than I anticipated.
Ivy and Tens are both characters who I knew would exist in their respective novels. I just didn’t take the time to develop them fully. I was in full panster mode while writing, so their personalities were created on the fly.
Ah, the joys of being a pantser.
Other characters required more careful thought and consideration.
Motts sprung from her name. I knew before I even plotted out the first book in my Motts Cold Case series that her name would be Pineapple Mottley. I spent weeks fully creating her marvellously quirky personality. She’s one of my all-time favourite characters.
Francis, from After the Scrum, was also developed from his name. I knew I wanted him to have a name that wasn’t gender-specific. The first meeting between Francis and Caddock had already been in my mind before I wrote the first line of the novel.
Of the two methods, I think I prefer the second. My characters who aren’t written on the fly are easier for me to write. But I still love all of them equally.
Almost every year, I’ve created a writing playlist for that year. Well, maybe not every year, but I’ve frequently done it. I always have a playlist for a book or a book series but my writing playlists are just random and not focused on a particular one.
The general writing playlists usually have more to do with my mood at the moment. I’ve started building my 2023 list so I thought I’d share the first ones to be added.
Easy on Me – Adele
Set Fire to the Rain – Adele
Let’s Stay Home Tonight – NEEDTOBREATHE
Good Life – One Republic
Try – P!nk
Someday – One Republic
Rise – Calum Scott
wish you well – Wrabel
All of Me – John Legend
love is just a word – Jasmine Thompson, Calum Scott
If You Love Her – Forest Blakk with Meghan Trainor