The State of Your Author

 

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Me, until very recently.  Photo credit: quinn.anya on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

I’m not dead, I swear!  I’m sorry for not posting for so long, though.  I hit a point where I needed to let a few things go, for my own sanity, and the blog is one of the things that didn’t make the must-do cut.  (I’d kind of rather I could have blogged and stopped doing the laundry instead, but everyone else disagreed.)

I’m not going to lie to you.  It’s been somewhat tough the past couple of months.  The Boy is essentially homeschooled, which means he’s at home all the time, and as much as I love the kid, he’s pretty high energy and needs a great deal of my attention.  That makes it tough to get any of my own work done, including writing.  I’ve got so much of my mental and emotional energy focused on my son that I don’t have much left over for poor Kai’s little problems.  As a result, I haven’t been sleeping well and I’ve been reluctant to socialize at best and grumpy and snarly at worst.  Not fun.

That said, I have been making headway on Book Five (you’d think by now I’d have thought of a title for it…) and have started going over some stories I banged out last summer.  I’m going to get those whipped into shape for you fine folks, and I’ve got an idea that’s been stuck in my head for a while that actually fits nicely into the new universe as a side-series.  If I can get myself sorted out just a bit better, 2019 is going to be super exciting and full of new books.

Next week I’ll have a review up for one of the books I plowed through in the past month, and keep your eye out for sneak peeks in the next few weeks.  I’ve got a poll up on my Facebook page if you’d like to tell me what to post first.  And, of course, I’ll have to write about our first holiday season in Tokyo.  It’s already proving very strange: our Christmas tree is just about a foot tall and is sitting on top of our PlayStation 4.

At least there will always be cookies.  That will help with pretty much all these problems!

Vectors

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I am a creature of momentum, and frankly, it makes life really difficult.  I suppose, to a degree, everyone has this problem, and I know I’m not alone in this difficulty.  It’s the reason that kids throw a tantrum when they have to change activities.  It’s why binge-watching has become how people consume television programs.  It’s why gamers will sit down and intend to play for one level or just this one quest, and then get up hours later only thanks to the demands of biology. It’s why knitters lie and say ‘just one more row’ or bookworms claim they’re only reading till the end of the chapter.  Once you’re doing something, it’s so much easier and more satisfying to just keep doing that thing pretty much forever.

Still, most people are capable of getting their butts up at the end of lunch or a break or when they finish the one task they need to complete, in order to move on to the next thing they need to attend do.  Turning off the TV and going to start dinner doesn’t feel like an impossibly difficult thing for most normal folks, and ordinarily, I’m able to manage to force myself to get into the kitchen and feed myself and my family.

It’s just my circumstances right now that are really messing with me.  My sleeping habits are not the greatest, as you’re aware by now.  Added to that, the dark peacefulness of the small hours of the night are the only quiet I really get to myself.  But this translates into not waking up before The Boy does, not that it’d be easy to do that anyway.  Kid’s up at almost 5 am daily and has been since birth.

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Photo credit: Fairy Heart ♥ on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

So, he gets up and plays in his room, often with a Nintendo DS or the Switch, but there’s Legos and robots and other things to amuse him as well.  Then my husband gets up and gets through his morning routine to get ready for work, and then… well, lately I sleep through all of that.  I’ll wake up when my alarm goes off at quarter till nine.  Now, it’s not an alarm I set to get me out of bed.  It’s an alarm I set to remind me to keep a record of something at nearly the same time every day.  It’s a business thing. And for the past month, I’ve managed to almost sleep right through it.

So the day is already off to a poor start.  Instead of getting up and being ready to leave the house with my husband like I’m supposed to, to walk with The Boy to the market and get the day’s groceries (which was working really well for a while!) we’re lucky to leave the house at all.  I’m in pajamas most weekdays, much to the amusement of a couple of delivery guys who’ve been by.

It’s a struggle that I’m trying to break free of, and my body hasn’t been helping with the back-to-back colds I’ve had in the last few weeks.  The bright side of this is, though, that if I can start writing in the morning like I have the past few days, I can bang out a pretty respectable word count by bedtime.  Which means that I’m making headway on short stories, and on a few other projects.  So there is a small glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel.  I just hope I can shift my habits around a bit and get some more positive momentum going.

After all, the holidays are coming, and nothing wreaks more havoc on a routine than December.

Summer vacation?

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Okay, not really a vacation that’s vacation-ish, where I get to hang out with my family and rest up and do fun stuff, although some of that’s probably going to happen if I’m lucky.  You all know that The Boy and I are moving soon.  From the East Coast of the U.S. to Tokyo Japan.  It’s causing just a wee little bit of stress here at Chez Kim, and I’m totally handling it in very healthy ways like not starting to drink immediately after getting up in the morning.  

Basically, everyone I know is a bit concerned for my health, and self-care has become a rather vital thing in my life.  As a result, I’m going to be dialing it back here a little since I have to focus on packing and making sure we have the tickets and passports and all the things, and then I have to figure out unpacking and how to re-jam together two households back into one household and sort out our new schedules and… well.  Life.  I’m a little shocked that the Anxiety Gnomes haven’t launched an attack, but then I think even they’re exhausted by everything so, small blessings?

14949202534_bacd339174_bSo for the next month (August, basically), I’m going to be posting here only once a week.  I’m going to keep up with the Patreon page since the short story is almost ready to post now, and I have the chapter available for preview.  I should have a book cover by the end of the month as well, so that’s going to be fun.  Also, I’ll be posting some Adventures over on Instagram, because that’s pretty quick.

Mostly, though, I’m going to spend August focusing on how to get our lives rolling in Tokyo and getting Brewing Trouble finished up.  And trying to help my friends live vicariously by going to places they want to go and taking copious photos.  Any requests?

Gear ratio

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been trying to sort myself into some vague semblance of organized.  I know, I know, it’s a bit of a dream, but even a little effort can make a huge difference.  But there’s so much to do and so many different ways to do most of it, and so many ideas and projects and schedules and people to work with and… Well, it’s pretty overwhelming.

gnome-garden-decoration-dwarf-littleSo… last week my anxiety started to get the better of me, and I spent most of my morning chatting with my husband over the internet.  Unfortunately, since he already lives in Tokyo, he had to go to bed at some point though I’m pretty sure he stayed up late for me.  So I was left to myself around lunchtime and my brain started spinning out of control.

So.  Many.  Projects! Holycrap!!

And each project has a damn to-do list as long as my arm: get an outline started, get the thing written, get it edited and critiqued and edited again, get a cover for it, figure out a title and a blurb… And that’s just writing the stories.  There’s a laundry list of behind the

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Photo credit: rachelkramerbussel.com on Visualhunt / CC BY

scenes stuff going on too, and the move and general day-to-day living and parenting and on and on.  And my brain started to kind of blow up a bit.

I may have sent my friend Mookie a panic-drunk text.  He’s been a professional writer for well over a decade and immediately sympathized with my lunacy, and he talked me back from the ledge.  He gave me the best advice that we’ve all already heard, but usually forget when it all blows up: take everything one step at a time.  Don’t try to do everything all at once.  Slow down, make a list, and then start locking that shit down.

So, I did.

First up, the Finding Insight pre-order should be up in the next couple of days.  Amazon is being slow in approving it for some reason, but then giant multi-national corporations don’t exactly move cheetah fast.  While I’m waiting for that I’m buckling down and working on sketching out my outlines.  I’m likely to keep pantsing a bit, but having that framework already laid did help me finally finish Insight, so I’d like to try it from the beginning.  I’m talking to my cover designer about the next Los Gatos book (don’t get too excited, it’s months off yet.  I’d just like to have the cover ready to go.)

So I have a list now.  It’s about 2 pages long, but still.  It’s a list, in pretty much the order I need to do stuff in.  I’m sure I’ll find out other things I need to add, and I’ll change my mind on others.  No doubt moving will make a significant dent in my best-laid plans.  We’ll see.  Still, the Anxiety Gnomes didn’t even get off a real attack this time, so I’m calling it a win.  How do you keep your brain from spinning out when there’s too much going on?  I’d love to have a few more tricks up my sleeve for next time!

Forming habits

As I have mentioned before, I am frequently plagued by Anxiety Gnomes. They make it difficult to do a number of things, most notably sleep at night, but they also interfere with my writing.  To that end, I’ve been trying to practice better self-care.  The trouble with that of course, is this generation’s favorite pair of problems: with what time and money exactly?

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Someday my arms will look like that…  Maybe…

Well, the answer for me, recently, has involved a bit of an adjustment of my routine.  Instead of wandering down to my laptop at some point in the morning, I’ve been sitting down right after I get back from dropping my son off at school and setting a timer.  I’ll put on some music, close the door, and write for a half an hour or so until my timer goes off.

 

See, that’s when the sneaky part of the plan kicks in.  When the alarm goes off I have to get up and walk around a little and do some sort of exercise. I’ve been doing push-ups and yoga stretching and jumping jacks.  A few different things I’ve looked up online that don’t require any equipment.  But I pick one or two exercises and I’ll do 5 or 10 of each one every time the alarm goes off.

I also get a glass of water before I sit back down

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and inevitably fall down some internet rabbit hole.  (I spent 45 minutes the other day ‘driving’ on California freeways via Google Earth to figure something out for the next Los Gatos book.).

 

I don’t know if this new plan is going to make a huge amount of difference in my overall health, but I do feel better in general.  I’m actually sleeping at night— well, more often anyway— and my eyes are feeling less horrible.  And I’m actually being way more productive, even with the little ten minute breaks!

Next issue I’m targeting?  The pain in my shoulder that seems to stem from spending so much time typing.  Not really sure how I’ll get around that one.

Anxiety again

It’s been a rough month.  Lots of family stuff going on in the background: some drama, some tragedy, and some just normal life stuff that just wears a person down hard.  It’s the way life goes, and while I’m not going to post the specifics out of respect for various wishes, I do want to keep you lovely people in the loop as to the State of Your Author as it were.  And honestly?  Lately, Your Author isn’t in great shape.

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I try to keep a positive tone online for a lot of reasons, one of them being the fact that I don’t agree with Calvin and I try to avoid spreading my bad mood around.  Still, it’s difficult to not let my mood bleed through into everything I’m doing, especially since it’s affecting my sleep, my mental processes, and even my vocabulary which let me tell you is a pretty embarrassing thing for a writer.

Anxiety isn’t a lot of fun.  Pretty much the opposite actually, and it’s been hitting me hard lately.  Between the family stuff and the pending move to Japan, stuff with The Boy at school, and tax time (which I don’t usually mind much, especially now that we have a Tax Guy who is awesome,) and… well.  The Anxiety Gnomes found a way to breach the citadel walls and now they’re working like mad to get in and wreak havoc.

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Photo credit: Sander van der Wel via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

And it’s starting to seriously affect my work.  I’ve put off contacting my Beta readers who should be almost done with their look over the next Riverton novel.  The same novel that still doesn’t have a title, so I can’t order the cover.  I haven’t sent anything to the new editor I’m looking at, not even an introduction email which is pretty silly.  I’m sleeping very badly at night and reading really trashy, terrible books to keep myself occupied quietly so I don’t wake the whole house.  I’m not getting the plot work done because half the time it feels like I’m trying to think through the heavy fog in my brain, or reading any books I can review for book reports here on the blog and I’ve neglected my end of the month email for my newsletter.  I’m going to have to post an exclusive short story in abject apology to my subscribers, but then that’s another thing I’m not doing because it’s amazing how anxiety can actually stop you from even trying.

I’m trying to take steps, though.  I’m not simply letting myself slide further into this black hole of doom and gloom.  I’m drinking more water and trying to get a bit more exercise.  When it’s not sleeting or anything I’ll go outside and putter in the garden a bit.  I’m looking into doing some meditation in the mornings before things get too insane here with The Boy.  And my friend the massage therapist did some continuing education and needed a guinea pig to practice on the other day which made me think that maybe I should look into getting a massage once a month or so to help me keep myself from losing my mind altogether.  (She also pointed out that I’m wrecking my shoulder while I’m typing, so maybe if I’m not in pain while working will help too.)

So there it is.  I’m a mess right now, but at least I know I’m a mess and I’m working on it.  That should help repel the attacking Gnome army.gnome-garden-decoration-dwarf-little