Avoiding burnout

burnout-burned-out-disease-psychic-pain-bullying-1One of the real downsides to being an indie author, in my opinion, is that while I get to write for my living, I also have to do all the other stuff involved with making a book, too.  I am a one-person publishing company, which means that I have to secure book covers, advertise, write ad copy, and so on and so forth. And that’s just the surface-level list!

Take advertising, for example.  It is, of course, The Future now, so advertising is a wildly careening, viral-post-dependent, buzzword soup, the battle octopus of a monster.  Where should I advertise?  Amazon?  Facebook?  Goodreads?  Should I look for newsletters to buy space in?  Should I try to make viral memes?  How much time should I spend on it when I could be writing?  How much money is too much to spend on it?  Not that I have much to spare on advertising anyway, but…. I just.. I don’t… oh, man.  Come on, you guys.  I did not take any business classes in college, which I now realize was foolish, but it seemed rational back then!

Trying to do everything, and do it “right” is one of the reasons I got so burned out last year.  I was trying to go in too many directions all at once, all while writing my books, and doing all that ‘Mom stuff’ that I need to stay on top of.  And laundry.  So.  Much.  Laundry.  You know, normal everyday living stuff.  So this year I’m scaling back.  Seriously.

StockSnap_LTY3TGLE73So I’m sticking with Facebook and IG for social media, and no more than that, because those are the two that I can kind of get my brain around.  I’ll try to post here more often than I did last year— I’m aiming for about twice a month or so— but I’m not going to stress myself out about it.  I am going to really buckle down on getting my books written and some ebook bundles put together.  And, if you’ve been following me on Facebook you’ve heard about my Grand Audiobook Plans…

This year, instead of boring myself out trying to do everything, I’m going to try to get more help from my family and the occasional virtual assistant, and stay focused on the fun part of being an indie author.  The writing.

Back from the dead

sparklers-on-black-backgroundSo… I guess I haven’t been around here in the blog much for a few months.  *blows dust off ‘pst now’ button.*  I don’t really have an excuse to give you other than that I sort of ran out of spoons after Typhoon Hagabis.  I tried to buckle down and focus on my writing and that project didn’t go so well.  It still has my heart, though, so I suspect that the concept will come back around eventually.

It’s a new year, though, and a new decade, and I’m feeling that new year energy.  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that I’ve started out finally nailing down the steps I need to take to get some audiobooks out.  My husband is helping me find the right equipment and people to help me out with it, too.  There are a few giant decisions to make before I can take any massive strides on that, but I’ll let you know when I do!

I’ve also decided that I need to revamp this here website at some point soon, and I’m once again rejiggering the Patreon, probably in conjunction with the audiobook thing once I’ve made a few decisions and have things firmed up better.  I’ve been listening to writing podcasts and working on a new book that is going MUCH better than the last one, so all is not lost.

Crowded

I woke up this morning and my brain was full of people.  Not even all my own people, which would make sense since I’m in the middle of writing a theft and a murder.  No, mostly my mind is filled with other people’s people, and it’s feeling a bit crowded.

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There’s the character from a book I read a while back who I really liked but disappointed me badly.  He was a young man who for several reasons had nothing much to do besides hang out and train at his local dojo, and thus grew up to be a very skilled martial artist.  His story in the book was one of trying to find a real place for himself, a path besides just hanging out and now teaching classes in his master’s school.  By the end of the book, while he does find a path that fits nicely with both his skills and his lack of patience with bullies, he winds up meekly following along with whatever his partner decides, flat out saying ‘he tells me what to do and I do it.’  For a character that started out fiery and passionate, it was a serious letdown, and it’s bothering me like it was a close friend in a bad relationship.

Then there are the characters who are abrasive and awful.  I read a book recently that I really, thoroughly enjoyed, and went on to grab another of the author’s books set in the same universe.  Within three pages, however, the main character showed off her violent anger problem and her complete refusal to take responsibility for said issues.  Then over the next chapter or so, it was made clear that her family was aiding and abetting with the excuses. “You’ll find a job that won’t fire you, I’m sure!” and “Just keep trying, someone will see you for the gem you are!” are not appropriate responses to “I got fired again for assaulting a customer.  Again.”  And it’s definitely not a trait that should be rewarded with jobs, adventures, and powerful friends.

And then, of course, lurking in the corners are my own characters.  The clever one that I can’t seem to write out of a hole.  The persistent one who is feeling like giving up.  The annoying, bubbly one who is sliding into seriousness and, well, not despair.  That’s a bit melodramatic, but definitely a melancholic mood..

Sigh.  It’s frustrating that the only people in my head lately are the ones that frustrate, irritate, or disappoint me.  I suppose it’s human nature— the bad sticks so much more easily than the good, after all.  So I’m going to go back and sit down with a few books full of characters I know I like (I strongly recommend The Wood Wife by Terri Windling) and hang out with a cup of coffee and some old friends.

What’s your favorite character?  Who should I meet?

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!

Motivation

It’s summer.  I’m not sure if you’ve noticed where you are, and I guess it depends on IMG_8038where on Earth you are, but here on the East Coast of the U.S. that means it’s hot.  And sticky.  And kinda gross.  and man, nobody wants to do anything.

But I have a show I’m still helping to run every night, and I have stories to work on and a kid on summer break now and oh man.  All I want to do is hide in my room with a book or 50 and a cold drink.  So…  balance, I guess?

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The worst part about the heat and humidity, I think, is that it really saps my motivation.  Just completely.  I mean I’m getting things done, slowly, but its tough to convince myself to do things.  I will (I hope) have some news for y’all by the end of the month, or maybe early next month that you’ll find interesting.  And I’m working on sorting out the outline for the next Los Gatos book.  Basically, stuff’s happening, just slowly.  Because summer.

In current news, A Spirit’s Kindred is on sale right now, if you wanted to pick that up, and Finding Insight is still up for pre-order, ready to release next week.  For now, I guess I should get back to the story mines.  What’re you reading this summer?

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Changing gears

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Having been thrown completely off my stride the past few weeks hasn’t exactly led to a great surge of productivity, as I’m sure you noticed.  However, it did force me to evaluate my methods.  One of the things about being an indie author is that you are your own company, responsible for everything from marketing to time management to actually putting words on (digital) paper.  I am good at approximately one of those things.

StockSnap_3BWN7KIF4TSo I’ve been trying to work out how to get better at a few of them, or at least get them a bit more organized. There are going to be a few changes coming up soon.  Exciting things that I hope you all like or at least understand and approve of.  Right now I’m not planning on changing the blog schedule or the newsletter.  I might post a bit less on Facebook, but that’s easier to take with me as I go.  However, I’m working on project planning and I now have a list of things I’m going to work on over the next few months.   I’m only planning a few months out since I have this giant move looming over my head, but I think overall you will all be pleased with my ideas.

In the meantime, Sarah’s Inheritance has gone on sale for coffee-snack-cup$.99 through this weekend.  If you wanted to pick it up, now’s a great time!  And Finding Insight should be up for pre-order very soon, so Watch This Space, if you will.  News and Announcements will be appearing over the next few weeks, not just of the book, but of a few other fun tricks and treats.

I’m terrible

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So I forgot what day it is.  I’m sorry.  I should have had a post up already, but it honestly just occurred to me that it’s Monday now, and not Friday or something.  You’d think having a regular show schedule to adhere to would help me remember what day of the week it is, but apparently not so much.

I’m hard at work doing edits for Finding Insight, the next Spirits of Los Gatos book.  The pre-order should be up very soon, and I’ll have the cover to show off hopefully by the next post.  I’m also sitting down to plan out the next few projects.  The fourth os Gatos book, and some short stories that I hope you will all enjoy, and a few other fun things.

I’m trying to get myself much better at being organized.  You have, no doubt, noticed over the past few weeks that I’ve been horribly scattered.  I hate feeling like this, like I’m sort of adrift, and I’m taking some steps to get myself back on some kind of track.  Writing out goals for the next few months, and using an actual calendar and so on, and I’m starting to feel a bit more grounded in reality.  I’ve realized that I need to do a better job of managing myself, honestly, it’s not a skill I excel at.  Do you all have any suggestions?

Getting back

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It’s been a long couple of weeks, you guys.  I had a much more visceral reaction to this show that is normal, and I have to hand it to the cast for that reaction.  It’s a pretty powerful and important musical and I’m proud to be working on it.  The downside, as you’ve noticed, is that basically, all my other work has swirled off into the great black hole of mental space-time.

However, now that the show is open and we’re on a regular run schedule, I’m starting to get myself back on track.  I’ve realized that while I can work just about anywhere, I need to have some kind of consistency about it.  The same time every day, the same (or damn close) setup of my laptop, some music, and a cup of coffee.  I can’t have people constantly swirling around me or talking at me.  It’s been pretty interesting, actually, trying to get work done in odd places and strange times at the theatre.

So I’m home in the mornings now, working out my new schedule for the next couple of weeks.  Get up, take a walk, have some coffee.  Take The Boy to school and when I get back, I sit down and get cracking at the doing room table.  Yeah, I have a desk upstairs, and yeah my family wanders in and out, but mostly they let me work and knowing they’re around is comforting.  Okay, usually it’s comforting.

I discovered a few months back that I work well in sprints, so I’ll set my alarm and plow through 45 or so minutes of writing or plotting or edits and then take a break so my mind doesn’t crumple under the strain.  It’s good to be getting words down again, finally.  Even if they’re more character sketch, unconnected scenes, or general rambling.  I know I’m brewing the next few things to get out to you guys, and the process settles something in my soul.

Wish me luck, though.  School’s out in two weeks.

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I’ve got such a headache…

So I guess this is another post in what seems to have turned into a self-care series.  Hi!  *Waves*

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Photo credit: piermario via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

By the time you’re reading this, the show I’ve been working on for the past few months will have closed.  It’s bittersweet since it was a wonderful show and the cast was fantastic— both in their roles and in rolling with, well, a series of very live theatre events.  I’m just as much a ‘keep on muddling through’ sort as the next theatre person, but sometimes one simply can’t do that and you have to send the audience home halfway through act two.  Sometimes the machinery breaks or everyone gets sick at the same time, or the HVAC system shuts down, or the freaking weather outside swells everything into immobility or lord only knows what else could go wrong.  You’d be amazed.  Still, it was a great time and I’m kind of sad that it’s over.  There was some amazing talent and some of the highs matched the lows we had (parties, friendships, shared meals, a marriage proposal complete with spotlights and a full live orchestra…) and my fellow spot-op and I were laughing in the last show almost as much as we were for opening night.

But man am I glad I don’t have to go in this week.  Or next.  In fact, I only have a few days where I’m filling in for someone in February, and I’m otherwise free as a bird until the end of May!  Well, free to be a writer and a mom full time again, anyway.  Although… this week, I might take some time off the writing part.  I’m exhausted.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually, you name it and it’s tired.

Going in to work at a theatre is both energizing for me and also draining.  I have to use a lot of spoons to beth through all the perfectly normal interacting involved, but at the same time, it’s seriously unhealthy for me to spend my whole life sitting behind my computer not interacting with anyone at all.  I love my characters but they’re not really real people, and they can’t substitute for them.

Also, getting home late after the show and the kind of long drive, then getting up to get The Boy off to school on time has been leeching my sleep away for months now.  I try to grab a bit of a nap in the afternoon before I get him home from school and head out, but lately, I can’t seem to get my eyes shut.  So my body is starting to complain bitterly about all of it.

And then there’s Brian.  Bloody half-demon whiner.  I can’t get him where I need him,

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

and I can’t figure out where else he could go to get him to cooperate.  I’m clearly missing something here, and no matter how hard I try to sort him out, I’m failing miserably.  My creativity is feeling tapped out.

I love working in theatre.  It soothes something inside my soul that I can’t really put into words very well (says the writer…) But at the same time, I need to balance it with time spent away from the drama, both literal and figurative.  It takes a lot of inner strength to be able to go on with the show, and I’m about tapped out.   So.  I’m going to take it easy on myself this week.  With some luck, I’ll have some news for you on Thursday regarding upcoming releases, but mostly I’m going to sleep and read and try to get some non-ladder based exercise.  Maybe even some fresh air!  Self-care.  It’s the thing that keeps the novels flowing.

Getting unstuck

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The inside of my brain.  Almost everything is put away neatly and is thus unavailable…       Photo by ubarchives on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

I’m going to have to admit to you fine folks that I have no idea what to write here today.  I spent a lot of December fighting off anxiety and depression and exhaustion and being super busy outside the house, so my writing suffered pretty badly.  I really got hardly anything done that was new, and I feel fairly guilty for it.  But it’s a new year and a few things are easing up, and some other things are looking more hopeful.  I’m feeling a little better about things, and plans are being made (Tokyo, you and I have a date for the end of summer!) and writing is happening.

You guys, I finished an outline.

Okay, well, it’s not really an outline outline.  I cadged a little bit of the Snowflake Method StockSnap_3BWN7KIF4Tand wrote up a one-page description of the story I’m jumping into working on next, and it’s another Riverton Clan book.  Brian gets to go out and be a demon for the forces of justice and law!  Well, sort of.  Michael is still recovering (hey, having your soul sliced up with a poisoned knife takes it right out of you, demon or not) and sends Brian out to take on the case all by his lonesome, and I’m actually pretty excited to see how it all plays out.  Okay, so I sort of already know how it plays out, thanks to my fancy outline thing, but the demon is in the details, you know.

I should have a book cover for Sarah’s Inheritance in hand pretty soon and I can’t wait to show you all!  I have to write up the back cover copy for that, still, and I have to finish up the sequel to Sarah yet, but basically, things are coming along nicely.  I’m feeling pretty good about January, and it may only be a few days into the year, but I’m already feeling kind of productive.

red-heart-in-open-bookThe one thing I’ve had simmering in the back of my mind though is that I have done a bunch of book reports here, but I slacked off hard once this depression started moving in.  I want to get back to that, and I wonder if you all have any books you’d suggest I tackle?  I’d love to do at least one book report a month, so that leaves me with 12 slots wide open!  Doesn’t have to be urban fantasy, but that is definitely the way I roll.  Y’all know that.   What books do you think I should read?

 

In case you forgot, there’s a giveaway over here with one of my books in it!  Check it out!