Fear and Journalling.

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If we’re honest with ourselves, there have been moments of anxiety and fear over the past few weeks. It’s easy in the midst of isolation to bottle everything up inside. And even if we don’t want to burden our friends/family, keeping it all internal isn’t healthy.

I haven’t written in a journal/diary in ages. In my teens and early twenties, I actually kept up with a journal a fair bit. For some unknown reason, it fell away in my thirties and now forties.

A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet from a historian who talked about how we should be writing down our experiences through this pandemic. I can’t find the tweet now, unfortunately. But it stuck in my mind.

I thought about all the personal accounts of other historical events I’ve read. They seemed to take on a suddenly deeper meaning. I can better understand why those people took pen to paper.

Sharing their thoughts must’ve been so cathartic in terrifying times when so much was out of their control.

It’s basically where we are now. Aside from keeping up with social distancing and other recommendations, there’s little control we have over this pandemic. And even the most zen of my friends is experiencing stress, anxiety, and fear.

I’m an author.

I deal in fiction.

Writing the truth of my thoughts seemed much more intimidating at first.

I’m a few days into my journalling. It’s provided an amazing outlet for the unease I’m feeling. Putting everything down on paper has offered some relief.

And somehow, a physical journal is definitely better than an online one.

I’ve been both pouring out my thoughts on paper but also jotting down what’s happening in my area and the things I’ve seen.

It’ll be interesting to look back in a few months or even years to read through my own personal history of this pandemic.

How about you?

How are you processing everything right now?

The Toxic Productivity Trap

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In the midst of the current state of crisis and upheaval, we’re all mostly at home in self-isolation. Or, we should be. And I keep seeing all these ‘ways to stay active and productive’ videos and blog posts.

On the one hand, I do think finding a new routine is essential, particularly for those not used to working from home.

As someone who has worked from home for years, it’s important to keep yourself motivated. And it can be infinitely more difficult when you’re not in an office.

But.

But.

But, I think productivity at times like this can be a dangerous and unhealthy trap.

We put our health to one side. We base too much of our self-worth into what we accomplish. And then, we seem to fall into a cycle of work, work, work, and not much else.

In a global crisis, maybe the best thing we can do is take care of ourselves–and each other.

Maybe the most ‘productive’ thing I can do is read a good book or play one of my favourite video games.

There’s nothing wrong with accomplishing.

Crossing items of your to-do list can become a bit of an addiction. But we shouldn’t be beating ourselves up for relaxing either. Doing nothing can be the healthiest part of your routine.

So, maybe while we’re all busy being productive. We should pencil time into our do to do nothing at all. Relax. Read a book. Binge-watch a new TV show. Something fun.

 

 

What am I reading?

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My goal for 2020 was to read at least a book a week. I did brilliantly in January. And then didn’t read a thing in February. Ahh well. I’m going to try to catch up since I’m in between WIPs.

So, here’s what I’ve been reading lately.

1. Lavender Blue by Laura Childs – I have mixed feelings about this one but overall I enjoyed it.

2. Thicker than Water by Becca Seymour – Adored this. 5 stars!

3. Follow My Lead by Louisa Masters – Also adored this one.

4. Julia Chase’s Kitty Couture series for a second time. Such a fun cozy series.

5. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Late to the Party.

I’m currently writing Cosplay Killer an MM Cosy Mystery featuring two men who are into video games, music, and musical theatre.

In doing research, I had to brush up on some Broadway stuff. I’m not massively into plays. It’s never been my thing, though I have a lot of friends who are. I knew a little about Hamilton from friends and also because I think Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius of a wordsmith.

So, I found this video of him performing Alexander Hamilton at the White House.

I watched it twenty times. I was mesmerized. History has always been an obsession of mine and I was entranced by his performance.

Now, I’m autistic. I frequently fall down rabbit holes into new obsessions. And I haven’t had a new ‘special interest’ in a good while.

And I certainly didn’t intend to find one while researching a new cosy mystery series.

But there I was, going from one video to quite literally watching every Hamilton thing I could find on Youtube. Now I’ve listened to the soundtrack of the original cast a hundred times at this point.

Christopher Jackson and Lin-Manuel Miranda performing One Last Time are particularly brilliant.

The things I do for book research.

 

 

 

I love my publisher.

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I do.

Genuinely.

I’ve worked with Hot Tree Publishing (and now Tangled Tree Publishing) for several years. I adore them. They’ve taken good care of me.

And then some days, I want to drop kick them across the ocean.

Kidding, mostly.

We announced my upcoming release a week or so ago.  Primrose Poison. The first in a new cosy mystery series–The Motts Cold Case Mystery Series.

As we were discussing the ongoing series, we realized the first book stood out amongst the titles. While I haven’t written anything but the first, I know what the titles will be. And they were a bit jarring when you lined up the titles with cover ideas.

So we had two options, first, change all the other books.  That would seem to be the better option. Except it wasn’t.

The other option was to change Primrose Poison to Poisoned Primrose.

Have you ever debated something so much you completely lose interest in the subject?

That was me.

The good news is…I still love my publisher. I love the cover (I can’t wait for everyone to see it.) And the titles are all aesthetically pleasing when side by side.

Crisis averted.

(Love you, Becky.)

 

 

Writer Problems.

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Author Problems — and how not to solve them.

Problem:  Your spouse/partner comes into the room to talk about absolute nothing for ten minutes during your writing sprints

Solution: Since smothering them is frowned on–try for a ‘don’t talk to me for an hour’ rule while you’re writing.

It never works for me. But it might for you.

~

Problem: Getting distracted by the internet.

Solution: Let me know if  you find one.

~

Problem: Seeing other people’s daily word counts.

Solution: Remind yourself everyone writes at a different speed–and you’ll get there. If it really bugs you, try muting them on social media until you hit your goal.

~

Problem: OMG. I got a bad review.

Solution: Step away from your computer. Do not respond. Do not engage. Remind yourself that every single author out there has gotten a bad review. You’re in good company.

And eat a bowl of ice cream.

 

Why I now use an outline.

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Sort of.

I hate outlining. Always have. I hated it when I was in school. Still hate it. It, to my autistic mind, is unnecessary and illogical. I don’t like the pattern of standard outlines. They irritate me.

And I am a proud pantser.

Except.

I’m not–not entirely a pantser anymore.

I now use a bastardized version of the beat sheet.  Plus, a cozy mystery outline I found online that is basically just a series of questions to allow an author to keep track of the details of the victim, the killer, and the main suspects.

These are new additions to what I usually keep in my book bible.

As I’m now working on what will hopefully be two lengthy book series, keeping outlines and additional information will save me from losing my mind when I write book 2.

I hope.

I don’t think I’ll ever be a full planner. I doubt I’ll work with a traditional outline. They annoy me too much.

But, a little bit of planning has definitely kept my last two WIPs from going off the rails.