Friday, December 08, 2017

Winter Writing



While we're not getting snowed in at Casa PBW, the temperature has dropped enough for me to haul out my fall/winter wear whenever I have to venture outside. It's also changed where and when I can write away from my home office. The porch is okay most days, but not at night. Ditto for the parks; I can manage a working lunch but early mornings or late afternoons are too cold. I'm also finding most of my quiet spots in town have become incessantly noisy with shoppers, holiday music and let-loose little kids. Don't get me wrong, these are all great things -- I love seeing people enjoying the season -- but that's also why it's distracting. I spend my time people-watching instead of storytelling. As I'm working through the holidays I need to devote at least eight hours a day to writing and editing.

My daughter is also coming home for her winter break from university. I'm looking forward to spending time with her, but since I'm her favorite distraction, I will probably also need to get up earlier, get out of the house a couple hours each day, and/or work while she's sleeping (probably a combination of all three.) Today I stopped by the library, which turned out to be completely empty, and spent an hour doing some research for work. I got everything done without a single interruption. Once everyone else's kids are out of school for their holiday break that may change, but until then I might start taking the laptop or the Neo over there to write.

One cool thing I noticed about the people in my new writing group is that they wear head phones or those ear bud things and listen to music while they are writing. I never thought of doing that -- I prefer silence, and I'm so deaf now most music is just white noise to me -- but some sound-cancelling ear phones could work for me in high-traffic or Christmas-saturated areas. I have to check into how much they cost, but it seems like they'd help at home, too, when my daughter is watching TV or has friends over to visit.

What do you do to write or get work done during the holidays? Share your tips in comments.

Image credit: Creative Commons Stock Photos

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

'Tis the Reading Season

This year I decided to be my own Secret Santa and buy some new books to read this month. I set myself a limit of three, and to get some variety I shopped for a favorite author, an author I haven't read in a while, and a new-to-me author.



Mary Balogh is of course the favorite author, and I've been waiting since February for her third Westcott novel, Someone to Wed. The fallout from a bigamous earl's death continues in this installment, which features his heir, Alexander Westcott. I've liked this character since the series began, and I have no doubt this will be a wonderful addition to the series.

I've read Dean Koontz's novels on and off for years; I've been off the author since Innocence depressed me a bit too much back in 2013. The Silent Corner is the first book in a new series featuring a female protagonist, and the cover copy got me curious. I liked the first page. No doubt it will all end up being a government conspiracy, but these days, what doesn't?

Caroline ~ Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller is the new-to me author's novel. The book was authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust, and evidently tells some of Laura Ingalls Wilder's pioneering childhood stories from her mother's POV. I had some reservations right off the bat -- the Little House books are one of the reasons I became a writer, aka sacred ground -- so I did read the first four pages before I bought it. While it's not written in the voice or style of the Little House books, and the way Caroline Ingalls is portrayed doesn't match my mental image of her, I decided to quit nit-picking and give it a shot.

What are you reading this season? Let us know in comments.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Gift No-Nos

Ten Things I Don't Want for Christmas

Collectibles: I'm not much of a collector of anything but books and quilts, and my house is already stuffed to the rafters with both. You want to know what I'd honestly love to start collecting? Happy thoughts. Send me some of those. :)

Exotic Spice Blends: An artisan oregano and all-natural spearmint blend might sound tasty to you, but please. Refrain.

Glitter Anything: Older women seem to love anything that looks like a bad fourth-grade art project; strangely, I'm not one of them. Scientists now want to ban it, and I kind of agree because glitter always, always, always sheds.

Himalyan Salt Products: I'm seeing a lot of these made into cooking plates, shooters, tea light holders, etc. All that salt is bad for you, and the pink color? Not my personal favorite.

Knife Making Kit: Just say no to this one. For anybody.

Magic Bullet: I'm all about healthy drinks but I'm lazy. Also the name -- magic bullets are what we used to call suppositories.

Moscow Mule Mug I don't use alcohol, sorry. I'm also not inclined to like anything named after a Russian jackass.

Ugg Boots: I don't need boots where I live. For some reason this brand also reminds me of Chewbacca from Star Wars, who is not my personal style icon.

Upright Bacon Grill: A bacon toaster, yeah, that's a wonderful idea. Aside from the fact that cleaning it would be a nightmare, I'd have to double our house fire insurance coverage. Pass.

Virtual Reality System: Real life is challenging enough, thanks.

What don't you want for Christmas? Let us know in comments.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Working Holiday



First, congratulations to everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo 2017. I hope most of you did better than me, but I'm proud of all of you for trying. Proud of me, too -- I gave it a shot, which was fun, and tried some new things, which seems to be my latest trend.

I'm writing through the holidays this month, but I've decided not to use that as an excuse to avoid all the merry and bright stuff. I'm not a big fan of the season, but my crew is, so I'm going to try to do a little something every day to get me in the spirit to celebrate with them. Yesterday I did a mini-makeover of my daughter's room with some pillows, a snowflake throw and some cute animal objects. Today I'm starting to put together a winter art quilt. Tomorrow I'll write my cards and order the flowers I send my mom every year. After that I'll visit the no-kill shelter to make my holiday donation, and think of other stuff I can do for others. Christmas is always a little more palatable when you're actively giving or doing something just for fun.

I've been invited to join a small writer's group that I met during NaNoWriMo, which is startling (but very cool.) I'm seriously considering it. It's low-key, I like everyone in the group, and it might be time for me to get out of the Batcave every now and then. I'm no longer out in the public eye with my work (quel soulagement!) so I don't have put on pantyhose and makeup and pretend like I'm Bestseller Chick. I can just be me -- and that would definitely be a novelty. But I'm still shy, socially awkward and not especially politic, so I do have to think about it.

For the blog I've decided to manually upload all the old photos for my posts to Blogger's hosting system so I can keep everything here versus replicating the PBW archive into e-books. I have to do this in my spare time, so I've got ten weeks done and about seven hundred more weeks to go. It's a nice project, though, and will allow me to reminisce a little.

So what's up with you all? Anyone have their own tactic to work through the holidays? Let us know in comments.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Extra Crispy

I hope everyone who celebrates it had a nice Thanksgiving, and I'm sorry I've been scarce. For me insomnia + day job + Thanksgiving + evil/dark + ocular migraine = only 15 hours sleep in 5 days. I can function on 4 hours, but 3 is definitely not enough. By day five I was completely fried. Last night I finally resorted to non-narcotic sleep aid pills (Alteril, which actually works for me) and got in about 7 hours of very hard, dreamless sleep. Usually that resets my brain to go back to my normal 5-6 hours of sleep per night, but we'll see.

For these reasons and a few others I had to stop working on my NaNoWriMo novel, and obviously I won't be crossing the finish line. It was fun to give it a go and get out to the real-life write-ins (I made four before I had to throw in the towel). I'm disappointed, but I'm also starting to realize that what I want to do and what I actually can do are becoming very different things.

By the way, thanks to everyone who checked on me. You guys are the best.

I always say it's good to fail. You learn more, it keeps your ego in check, and it gives you the chance to start over and do things differently. It never feels as lovely as success, but it's good for me. It's also a bit like oatmeal. I really don't like oatmeal unless it's a cookie, but as a breakfast it's good for my heart and my plumbing. It'll never be my favorite breakfast (hot buttermilk biscuits and butter and honey and a big glass of orange juice will forever hold that title), but if I add some sliced bananas or raisins it's palatable.

So how are you all doing with your November novels? Let us know in comments.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wishing You



Happy Thanksgiving from Paperback Writer.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Off to Finale



I'm taking off today to work on finishing up a deadline for my day job -- and I likely won't be back until Wednesday, 11/22. See you then.