Tag Archives: writer’s life

And Another Year Approaches!

This year has not been a writing year for me. I had planned to write at least one novel and one nonfiction book, but… well, let’s just say that it’s the end of November and I didn’t do it. I haven’t done a ton of marketing, either, although my sales have stayed reasonably consistent. Which tells me something about how much money I’ve spent on marketing prior to 2014, which is another post!

So what happened?

I think a few things:

I got burned out. I wrote 7 novels and a nonfic in 2 years (less, really). Plus edited, produced, published and marketed them. It was awesome and fun and fulfilling while I was doing it, but I think it was more mentally exhausting than I realized. Every time I’ve tried to start back in 2014, I just can’t get the juices flowing. So for the rest of 2014, I’m not going to worry about it. But in 2015….

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We moved, downsized and empty nested. As everybody knows, moving sucks. I was trying to think of some wonderful synonym, but honestly, it just sucks. That was in January, after which this area where it *never* snows had 3 huge storms where we were snowed in. My husband wasn’t able to move until the end of March. My son, who was taking a gap year, left for over a month to visit family. Spring was late and wet, and I put in a huge (40×30′) garden. Summer was late and wet. I worked part time at a summer camp because…. I’m not really sure why, except that it seemed like a fun idea. My son, our youngest, left for college. I spent almost a month in Uganda. And now it’s almost Thanksgiving. Surprise! Basically, the year has been full of new, hard but mostly good things that took a lot of energy.

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I started a new business. Funding for nonprofits has been down across the board in recent years, including mine. We’ve started a new socially conscious, fair trade business in hopes of funding it a different way – think of a Toms sort of model. But it’s taken a lot of effort, including an Indiegogo campaign, product design, and a LONG trip to Uganda to set up women’s co-ops. It’s up and running as of this week, though – check it out!

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So that’s next?

Well, I’d like to write more screenplays. That’s actually what I’m best at, although it’s pretty hard to break into that world. But… why not try, right?

I’m aiming for at least one novel and one nonfiction in 2015. That’s very doable! If I say more… Well, better to under-promise and over-deliver, right?

Grow the Ndoto Collection and the non-profit. Continue to search out funding sources/opportunities. Travel to Uganda.

Live. Let’s make 2015 great!

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Guest post by H. Mattern – I’m a writer!

Today we welcome debut novelist H. Mattern, whose first novel, Saving Katie Baker, will be released next month! She’s also my friend and a fellow adventurer.

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Until I started calling myself a writer, I was just a dreamer.

I don’t know why it was so difficult for me.  It was easy to call myself a Mother when my first child was born.  It was easy to call myself a Wife.  It was even easy to embrace the title Teacher when we started homeschooling.  Nobody questioned those hats that I juggled but when it came to this title, I was hesitant.

I often found myself trying on these instead:

Wannabe writer.

Rambler.

Dreamer.

Journaler.

Until I decided to be brave and throw caution to the wind, until I found the words on my lips and declared them to the world, I was just a dreamer.

I remember the first time I said, “I’m a writer” to someone who posed that question I used to dread, “What do you do?”

We were selling a camper.  AKA: My Gypsy Wagon.  I used this cute little RV as my office when we weren’t off traveling in it on some grand adventure.  The day came when it was time to say goodbye to her.  It was a sweet older couple that had come to take a peek inside.

he wife and I stood outside and exchanged rambles while the men talked details.  It was her that posed the question.  I’m sure my hesitation confused her as I debated what words I would offer in response.  My heart beat, like a hammer in my chest once the words were out. “I’m a writer”.

It felt good to confess.  Like a pair of jeans that fit perfectly, the title felt great against my skin.

We went on to chat about our favorite authors and books we recommend to one another.  I remember thinking, that wasn’t so hard, what was I so afraid of?  That was the moment when everything changed for me.  My dreams were no longer dreams but reality.  I became a writer that day instead of a woman who dreamt of being one.

I began to write.

I’m not saying I didn’t write before then.  I did, but I didn’t take it seriously.  I’d dabble here and there with short stories but most of them were left unfinished.  Once I actually embraced the title- I began to live up to it.

I made goals.  And deadlines.  I contacted an editor.  Chatted with Indie Publishing Companies.  I leapt fearlessly.

Am I saying that my debut novel, Saving Katie Baker, wouldn’t be blooming next month if I hadn’t voiced this dream?  Who knows?  All I can say is something changed inside me.

If you are hesitant to call yourself writer, try it on, see what happens!

You can find more great stuff from Heather here:

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Ah, the glamorous life of a writer…

Other than Ernest Hemingway, who took himself off to run with the bulls in Pamplona and observe wars, it seems that writers have a pretty good gig. Jeez, they can sit around all day in their pjs, they get to fiddle around with stories and make stuff up, there’s no boss cracking the whip. They even have their kitchen, Facebook, Twitter and chocolate stash near them all the time! How is this a bad thing?

OK, it’s not a bad thing. But that’s not all there is to it. First of all, making a living as a writer is… well, nigh on impossible. Not impossible, just the next house over. Second, while I am the first to admit that the writing itself is a blast, even when it’s hard or not going well, there’s more to it than that. Here’s the short list:

  • Editing. Editing gives me a migraine. It makes my eyes hurt. It turns my brain to mush. And that’s on the days it’s going well.
  • Self discipline. This is not my strong suit. I am not a super disciplined or organized person. One reason I am a “project” person is that I can’t seem to manage to do things day in and day out. So writing a book in 30 days is awesome; writing a book in a year would never happen. This is the same problem I have with laundry, housekeeping, exercise, taking vitamins, and pretty much everything else that requires a daily commitment.
  • Avoiding distractions. This is somewhat tied to self discipline, but not completely. That’s because, unless you live alone and in a vacuum like Sandra Bullock’s character in The Net, people think you aren’t doing anything because you’re “just” writing. (This is especially true if you are not bringing in millions to the family budget – I suspect JK Rowling and EL James get out of grocery shopping from time to time.) So your non-driving teen needs you to run him somewhere. Your husband urgently needs something ironed for an important meeting. You realize that you really would love to have some scones with your tea later that afternoon, so you jump up to whip some up, realize you need to go to the store, and four hours later you have scones and nothing written.
  • Self doubt. This happens to any artist of any kind. When you are putting yourself out there in such a personal way, you can’t help but wonder if the work is good enough, if people will accept or reject you, and if you made any huge, glaring errors that the world will realize when you didn’t.

I am currently in a non-writing phase of being a writer (which is sort of inconvenient since I’m participating in the August Camp NaNoWriMo and am supposed to write 50,000 words by August 30). This is because my husband, also a writer (of brilliant political satire), is in the final stages before publication of his own book. Now, you might think that would be his problem, but the fact of the matter is (and he’d be the first to admit this) he is a terrible self-editor. He knows what he meant to say, and he doesn’t see typos, missing words, missing punctuation, bad grammar or any of that. He sees what he meant to say.

A lot of people are like this, so that’s nothing bad. It just means a lot of work for me. In addition, the book he is about to publish is non-linear. It’s a collection of 33 chapters which do not follow one another, interspersed with one-liners, interspersed with quotes from famous people. So the organizing, collating, and formatting has been a nightmare. Add to that the fact that he used a separate Word document for each chapter, and 35 separate word documents for the one-liners, and you’ve got a logistical sticky wicket. (Note to anyone out there writing anything with multiple sections or chapters:  SCRIVENER.)  I’ve spent 23 of the last 51 hours on his book, and still have the quotes to insert when he’s done. (cue fingers drumming on the laptop)

After that, which is today, I have to finish the final final edit of my upcoming Christian historical romance, Undaunted Love. I have one week to get the edit done, get the copyright handled, write the back cover blurb (which I am so bad at that my daughter despairs), and try to find an example of a romance cover I actually like. The latter being the most difficult.

And then there’s NaNo. I have just about 30,000 words done on my YA dystopian fantasy, so I only need 20,000 more to “win.” That won’t finish the novel, which I originally estimated at 60,000 – but 60k isn’t going to finish it, either, so at this point, with all that’s gone on in August (in addition to the above, this month my daughter had surgery, I had minor surgery, my husband had laser eye surgery, and my daughter went back to college….), I feel like I’ll be thrilled to “win” even if I don’t finish. (Although I will keep writing after August 30 and finish, so the first draft is done.)

Doesn’t this all seem glamorous?? To be fair, I am writing this in my pajamas.

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