Focus, people, focus.

Remember to take time to enjoy the flowers.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And while in my experience that seems to be true, it’s not always obvious that a behavior has moved over into the “insane” column.

ClockHere’s an example of what I mean. Between my family and my writing career, I manage several mailboxes (five to be exact, six if I count the day job). For the last four years, I’ve been deleting annoying and unwanted emails.

Every. Single. Day.

It had become such a habit that I didn’t realize I’d entered the insanity zone. I mean, did I think that by deleting them they would magically stop coming?

I dunno. Maybe.

Like everyone else in the universe, my time is limited and very valuable. So is yours. The world is filled with miniature, time sucking vampires like unwanted, unneeded, unread email.

Of course this got me thinking. What other subtle activities are robbing me of focus? And what can I do to get rid of them?

Do you have the same problem? I bet you do. Naturally, I have some tips:

1. De-clutter your inbox – i.e. stop receiving so many damn useless emails. Do you find yourself deleting the same kinds of emails over and over. Magazine subscriptions, sales at every store known to mankind: Macy’s, Land’s End, Kohl’s – you name it. Go to the bottom of the email and click unsubscribe then follow the directions. See? Easy Peasy.

One word of caution. Do not do this with spam. No, no, no. Actual spam (if it’s coming into your inbox) should be ruthlessly marked a such and sent to the spam oubliette where it deserves to rot.

2. Go to your social media sites and check your settings and eliminate all the needless notifications. Many social media sites send these because you fail to notice all those little check boxes when you first sign up. Or they change policy (looking at you, Facebook) and decide you need to know all kinds of useless stuff. Unless of course you like to know that your brother’s wife’s sister’s cousin has a strange alligator rash on her skin. Ewww.

3. Be in the moment. What does that mean, Master Yoda? It means don’t multitask. GASP. I know. Crazy, right? Believe it or not, it’s not really possible to write a book, talk on the phone, and make dinner all at the same time. Multitasking is a myth people! Focus on the task at hand. The end result will be better.

4. Disconnect. Yup. You heard me. If you want to get in your word count and you can’t stop visiting the world wide web – then turn off the wi-fi. Duh. Don’t worry. Your brother’s wife’s sister’s cousin’s strange rash will still be waiting for  you.

5. Unleash the hounds, Smithers! If your significant other or family can’t leave you alone when you need to work, then sorry, you have to let them know to please leave you alone. If escaping your house isn’t an option, might I suggest a pair of earplugs? They got me through years of younger son’s Call of Duty shouting matches with his friends.

That’s all I’ve got for today. If you have other tips, please share.

Remember to take time to enjoy the flowers.
Remember to take the time to enjoy the flowers.


My Interest in Pinterest

All pictures 001


Okay, I’m a bit late to the Pinterest party. For the last few years, I’ve actively avoided joining anymore social media sites that would siphon away from my writing time.

It all started out innocently enough.  While I was updating the appearance of my blog, I re-checked some of WordPress’ settings and noticed a Pinterest option.  In order to take advantage of the option I needed an account.

It was easy enough to create one. Then I made the mistake of looking around.

And – whammo – I was hooked. Because now that I had an account, I should add some boards because what if someone found me and I had nothing there? I would look pretty lame.

And where else could I post my cool Oogles the Owl photo collection?

All pictures 001

Oh, and while I was doing that, I figured I might as well start trying out the little red Pinterest button found on many websites too. So off I went, messing around with my favorites sites to see who had the red button.

Hear that sucking noise?

That was my writing time going down the drain. But the end result – I created some pretty cool boards (see them here) and I’ve been enjoying my friends’ boards (who are years ahead of me).

Honestly, Pinterest reminds me of a giant, web-based scrapbook. The only thing missing is fancy borders, colored backgrounds, and 3-D doo-dads.

The big question I have, what is Pinterest for? How does everyone use it?

As a photo album? For inspiration? To drool over food porn (or hunky men)?

If you’re on Pinterest, please share. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Work At Home Tips and Tricks

Writers get asked a lot of interesting questions . One of the more popular ones is – “where do you find the time?” Often followed by comments like “I would write, if I had the time.”

IMG_1715Well, guess what? People do have the time, they just aren’t using it to write. Sugar Jamison covered this topic on Monday (over at the 7 Scribes site), so I am not going to elaborate on finding time. See her excellent post here.

Instead, I’m going to share my twenty years experience as a work at home employee of a large national company. These tips and tricks can apply to writers as well as anyone.

1. Get up in the morning, like you would on a work day for an outside employer and bathe. Yes. Get out of your pajamas and wash yourself.  Go to your designated work space and report for duty.

2. Remember to eat breakfast. Again, in case you haven’t heard this before: it’s the most important meal of the day.

3. Develop a mindset that this is a job. Create the same mental head space/attitude you would if an employer was paying you. Writers – if you are under contract – yes, you have an employer who is paying you. If you are aspiring to publication, best develop a solid work ethic now. It will serve you well when you land that contract.

4. Have a schedule. For example, I will write from the hours of 9:00 – 12:00. Or midnight to four am. Whatever fits. And during this time, I am working. No social media, no television, no phone calls, etc.

5. Tell yourself – “I do NOT have all day to get it done.” See # 3 & #4. You don’t have all day. I know it seems that way, but if you want to work at home (doing any job, not just writing) you have to be professional and get your work done during scheduled hours.

6. Dirt doesn’t matter. Leave the dishes, killer dust bunnies and monster laundry piles alone. Believe me, they aren’t going anywhere. You can deal with them later. Like you would if you went to a day job outside of your home.  If you are bothered by these things, sorry, but you have to get over it. Or find a place to work outside of the home.

7. Take a lunch break. See #2. Eating in important to the body and brain’s function.

8. Drink lots of water. Why? So you don’t sit in your chair until your muscles atrophy. Every time you take a bio break, drink some more liquid.

9. Exercise. Especially important if you are staring at  a blank screen or hating your job. Take 10 to 30 minutes and walk (or whatever exercise does it for you – lifting your arm to aim a remote doesn’t count).

10. If you aren’t writing a story, you should be plotting your next one. Use every minute allotted to writing time to advance yourself.

This is the cat's office chair!
This is the queen’s office chair!

11. Fake it till you make it – if your day’s writing is crappy – who cares! It can all be fixed later. That’s what editing is for.

12. Schedule down time. All work and no play, make a writer grumpy and not very good at their job. Granted, if you have a full-time job (like many of us do), then allow yourself a day of rest (or even a few hours). I did this recently – see here.

13. Have fun. Remember, you’re doing this because you wanted to be a writer!

Anyone else have any tips to share?

Lessons Learned from Chef Robert Irvine

Happy Friday everyone. I’ve been watching Food Network lately and today I impart wisdom I’ve learned from Robert Irvine –Writer Impossible. Thank you Chef Robert!!

And check out hubby. Mystic Ink at Mystic Pizza!

Harry Truman – Whip Master and Yet More Snow!

I know I shouldn’t complain about the snow since it’s February. But c’mon already.

Anyway – today over at the Scribes I talk about being accountable – The Buck Stops Here. Need motivation when you’re slacking off or have tips to share, stop by! And don’t expect me to go easy on anyone. No one cracks the whip like me. And believe me, I have no problem chastising myself when I deserve (which has been quite a bit lately!).

For those of us in the storm’s path, I wish tomorrow looked like this:

Stonington Point, CT

And doesn’t end up like the horror show of October 2011.


Stay safe everyone!

First Readers, Fast Writing and The Bloggy Blah, Blah, Blahs

Today, I’m at the Scribes talking about the The Bloggy Blah, Blah, Blahs. If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, stop by and share your tips for the blogging blues.

Also, I’m a guest at “How to Write Fast“. If you’re looking for advice on how to write more quickly, this is the blog to visit.

In other news, Mystic Storm is finally in the hands of my most valued first readers. Yay!! For those of you following along, this is Zephyr’s story. At the end of Mystic Ink, I left him in a bit of a pickle after the Fates punished him for interfering in a Hero’s Journey.

Stop Thief!! Beating the Time Bandits

Hi everyone,

While I work my fingers off to finish the first draft of Mystic Storm, you can find me over at the Seven Scribes where I’m sharing tips for beating the Time Bandits –

Stop Thief!! Beating the Time Bandits.

And Now I Wait.

Happy Friday everyone. Please visit the 7 Scribes and read my Friday post – To Sequel or not to Sequel.

As reported last week, the book is gone. Off in the hands of my critique partners and beta readers.

Gone. . .

So now what?

Do I sit around twiddling my thumbs? No way. In the down time between feedback and the next round of revisions, I’m plotting my next book- Devil’s Advocate.  Another attempt at writing an actual Urban Fantasy. Lately, with the last two books,  both plots twisted into paranormal romance. We’ll see how the next book plots out.

How about having some fun? I recently crocheted a candy dot scarf for a friend. And I read Julia Rachel Barrett’s Incorporeal (excellent ghost story!).

But, I’m not even close to being done with The Undead Space Initiative. I still have to revise the first draft synopsis into something market ready.  So in the meantime, a tease.

The opening paragraphs of The Undead Space Initiative.


Life sucks then you die. It’s a universal truth. But here’s what’s scarier. Even in death, life can still suck.

Case in point … wait for it…

 “Cherry! Get your skinny ass up on stage!” Jonathan barked through my dressing room door.  How do I describe him? Pain in my rump. Benefactor. Reason for my current situation. None of them seem adequate enough. His main occupation? Yelling at me to perform and to make him money. And he’s always interrupting. Never lets a girl even have a moment to think.

“I’m on my way. Geez Louise.” I flung open the door, narrowly missing Jonathan’s long Roman nose. The tops of his fangs peeked out from his full lips as he smiled at me. This was a game we liked to play. I would try to smack him with the door whenever possible.

Okay, it was a game I liked to play. I’ve never managed to nail him in the face. My vampire Sire is too damn fast.

Jonathan tsked and crooked his finger. A slow smile curled his lips. “Cherry, I don’t know why I put up with you.”

“Of course you do. I’m you’re number one performer.” I flashed fang. My pearly whites are nowhere near as long as his, but they can still do the job. Due to feed soon, I tried not to stare at Jonathan’s jugular. I hated needing my Sire’s blood to stay strong and avoid overpowering hunger. The kind, if left untended long enough, made vamps go feral. I buried my nose in a bouquet of fragrant red roses, a gift from one of my many fans.

Jonathan smirked. Damn. I hated when he caught me eyeing him like a roast. Another game we liked to play – I pretended I didn’t need him. And he pretended not to notice. We both knew otherwise.

I needed him.

Crap on toast.