Tag Archives: blogging

Writers Weekend 2017

Writers Weekend 2017

We’re back in the woods for another Writers Weekend (check out the tag for our previous WW adventures. Including turkeys).  We missed last year due to other commitments on everyone’s part, and all three of us really felt the loss of it.  So this year we all knew we had to do this, come hell or high water.  We did get a slightly later start than we like because Deb had a commitment Thursday night (darn that real life, anyway), so Friday morning we got all our kids out to school and then hit the road to the Poconos.  See below for how much stuff 3 writers need for 4 days away.  And that doesn’t include groceries.

Not as much as when we go camping, but it’s only for 3!

Day 1 is usually a wash.  We need to decompress from our day to day lives and get settled into the house.  Yesterday was no exception.  We got up here around 11, unloaded the car, made the beds, started warming up the house, and then went out for lunch and grocery shopping.  Lunch was at this run down looking diner that I’ve been past a million times going camping (our campground is about an hour past Deb’s mountain house).  The food was surprisingly good, although I think their meatloaf was actually their gyro meat.  And we bought a pie.  Because diner pie.  Then we went grocery shopping.  The nice thing about three grown women in a house together is we all take turns cooking, and we are mostly reasonable when we go shopping.  Yes, we always end up with too much snack food, but hey, at least it’s 75% healthy snack food! 7 bags and 4 dozen bottles of water later, we were off to Lowe’s and Walmart (shudder) to get new lamps for the house.  Deb always walks a fine line on these trips between being on vacation and being a rental owner.  We try to keep her on the more relaxing side of that line, but sometimes needs must.  This was at least easier than the year the gas fire wouldn’t turn on.  That wasn’t fun!

We got back home around 3:30, got unloaded and Nikki got the traditional WW Tikka Masala in the crockpot, then we all lounged around until dinner.  I got some software installed on my computer and played too much Minecraft while Deb did hockey research and Nikki actually did writing work (making the rest of us look bad.) But again, first day is a wash, so no stress.  I did spend some time that evening going through one of my seed catalogs, so that’s something off my list.

All my favorite places have fireplaces

I do have a goal list for the week

  1. Scripts for the podcast I’m planning – I need to write introduction and closing scripts, as well as actually coming up with a name.  I want to record the demo by the end of the month, so I need to get cracking
  2. Oestara ritual – I’m leading the Oestara ritual for Gaia’s Rainbow this month and need to actually get it written
  3. Sherlock shawl test knit – this is due back to the designer by the end of the month.  I’m on clue 3 of 9…
  4. Finish my mom’s shawl.  Before she hunts me down with knives.
  5. Write and bank a few blog posts – Theoretically March is a blog every day month.  Yeah, no.  Maybe April
  6. Garden plan – Spring’s coming almost faster than I’d like.  I need to get seeds started, so I need to get, you know, seeds.

I think I’m off to a good start.  Last night I got the recording software installed on my laptop so I can use it as my onsite podcasting studio. I also got my volunteer application in to the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in New Orleans in June.  If I can get that, it pays my attendance fee ($350.  Oof.) and I just have to figure out travel and accommodations. (Also oof.)  And I got through one of my seed catalogs, the one I’ll primarily be ordering from this year.  (Johnny’s Selected Seeds, for anyone who’s curious.)

Slept kind of rocky last night, either really hard or wide awake.  But I woke up with the basic ideas for the ritual, so this morning I worked on developing that.  The theme is eggs and seeds.  For our working, we’re going to make seed eggs (basically seed bombs shaped like eggs).  So I researched seed bomb how-to’s, ordered the matrix for it and the seeds, and got the rough outline written.  I still have to write the cast and calls and a quick charging meditation, but that’s pretty easy once the how to’s and why for’s are figured out.  I think there will then be a nap.  Then I want to finish Clue 3 on the shawl, and then I can go through another seed catalog.  And poke at my garden plot maps to make sure I have room for everything, or that I’ve filled everything.  I’m never sure which I’m going to end up at!

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Blogtober Past

Blogtober Past

Those monthly blog challenges are always so hard!  I did pretty well, but not as well as I would have liked.  I missed a total of 7 days, most of them unsurprisingly towards the end.  I’m not sure how I managed to miss two days in a row last week.  I just lose all sense of time.  It’s why I have to automate all my bill paying.  Otherwise I think I just paid my bill when it was really three months ago…  Yeah, I’m a mess.

But the itch to blog more regularly is at least there.  As always after one of these things, it won’t be every day, but it will be more often.

And now it’s November.  No matter how tempting Nikki makes it, I am NOT doing Nanowrimo this year (what moron put it in the second busiest month of the year, anyway?)  Although I am going to start collecting ideas and possibly do my own Nano in March.

Instead, my goal this month is to track my eating every day for the month.  I know how important that one simple tool is for weight loss and maintenance, and I have gotten woefully out of the habit.  My weight has been creeping up, so even though this is a major eating holiday month, it’s time for me to get things back under control.  Yesterday’s tracking only proved my point.  I should be eating between 12-1500 calories a day.  Yesterday I had 2200.  Yeah, that’s a little heart stopping.  Time to be a responsible grown-up again.

Blogtoberfest

Blogtoberfest

New month, new start, new challenge!

Like I said, I had intended to blog every day in June.  Daily blogging, while unsustainable (at least for me) in the long run, is a great way to build the blogging habit.  But it can also be a stress.  When I asked Deb if she wanted to do this with me, her response was, “No. No.  HELL no.”  Which I totally get.  It takes time to post a blog entry.  Maybe only half an hour, but some days that half hour is hard to carve out.  I had also intended originally to make 31 daily challenges for the month, like I see all over Tumblr and Instagram.  But as I started making the list, I realized I didn’t really want to respond to any of them, because they weren’t relevant to me or were just fatuous or pretentious.

So who knows what you’ll get this month.  There will definitely be sheep at some point, as Nikki and I are going up to New York Sheep and Wool in two weeks.  There will also be knitting because same.  There may be pictures.  There may be a vlog, who knows.  But I will share something, somehow, every day this month.

I hope.

Blog Mentality

Blog Mentality

Sometimes deciding what to write for a post is a challenge.  The conventional wisdom says that a blog should be focused on one topic, and you should present yourself as an expert on that topic.  Frankly, for the most part I find those blogs boring.  There are a couple that I read, like Lovely Bicycle and Food in Jars, that are single topic but that I love because of the writing or the topic itself.  Otherwise, though, I’ll hit a focused blog when I’m doing research on that topic, but once I’ve gotten what I needed, I’m gone.

The blogs I like best are the ones about a life.  Obviously I come to them initially for a shared area of interest, but I stay because the blog is a story rather than a manual.  And I don’t want that story to be a forced way to get me to a recipe or to order something.  Just…a life.  Cold Antler Farm and Yarn Harlot are like that.  One’s ostensibly about homesteading and the other about knitting, but those things are intertwined into their lives.  I know about Jenna’s dogs and falcon’s and Stephanie’s kids and parents.  There are times it’s like reading a novel, and I can’t wait for the next chapter to find out what happens.  Sometimes I don’t get to know, because those things are private, not meant for public consumption.  Which I respect.  I care.  I want to know about what happens next.

I hope that’s what this blog is like.  This is the story of my life.  My life is messy and convoluted, and my interests shift week to week, month to month, year to year.  But all the pieces make up me.  I am not one thing, and neither is this blog.

I hope you enjoy the next chapter.  I can’t wait to see what happens myself!

Starting Again

Starting Again

I ended the month of May planning to make June a Blog Every Day month.  And then didn’t blog once all summer.  So here I am at 5 in the morning in the middle of September, writing another apology.

These are always the hardest.  There’s a certain amount of shame in abandoning a blog, even temporarily.  Do you acknowledge it?  Do your readers (all three of them…) care what your excuses are?  Do you?  Because in the end, unless you’ve got a deal with one of those big blogging conglomerates or have built a network with a bajillion friends, your blog is basically for you.  Or do you just go back to posting like nothing happened?  When you go back to review a couple of years down the line, will you think, “What the heck happened to me that I didn’t post anything for three and a half months?”

Suffice it to say, this was a horribly stressful summer.  Some of it I brought upon myself, and some of it was thrust upon me.  I spent a lot of time outside my comfort zone without the ability to escape it.  Nothing safety or life threatening, but emotionally more damaging than I like to acknowledge.  Bad enough that I’m now seeing a counselor to help me manage better in the future without going into complete avoidance and never leaving my room ever, ever again.  Which has been a temptation.

So, I’m back.  You’ll probably get tales of the summer in drips and drabs, especially since I have pictures I want to share!  But this is my reset button.  I’m absolving myself of all guilt for the summer, and I hope you will, too.

And maybe October can be my Blog Every Day month instead.

The Month That Wasn’t

The Month That Wasn’t

A lot can happen in a month.

And a lot did, but it was all overshadowed by the new job.  It took two months, but I finally started to pick up all the steps and start gaining some speed.  Then April hit.  At the beginning of the month, we got DOZENS of requests all at once from one client without any warning.  As we were trying to get through all those while still keeping up with the regular work load, the other new person, who had started just the month before I did, left.  So the team that was already down one person and had two people who were still under supervision, which took extra time from one of the staff who did know what they were doing, was now down another.  It made for a long month.  I worked through lunch a lot, stayed after half an hour-45 minutes, and was cranking through so much work that I was physically exhausted every night and was dreaming I was still working.  It’s really hard to focus on anything else when you feel like that.  I stopped hanging out with Nikki, I didn’t go anywhere I didn’t have to, and the things I did have to do I couldn’t get a lot of enjoyment out of.  It was the 25th before we finally broke the back of it, and I just about burst into tears.

It takes a while to recover from an intense period like that, but unfortunately it ended just as real life is getting its own kind of intensity.  I won’t have a weekend at home until the 21st I think.  A lot of it is good stuff, but I still need to find time to recharge.  Sleep in, watch TV, knit, run or ride a bike, work in the garden…

My list of things for fun almost sounds like a work list.

Anyway.  I have a list of catch up posts.  In June I am setting myself a Blog Every Day challenge.  But for now, know that everyone is well, things are green and growing, and life moves on a pace.

It’s a new month.  And a lot can happen.

Writing Begets Writing

Writing Begets Writing

Long ago, when I wrote regularly, if people would ask me how I wrote so much, I would tell them you have to write to write.  I wasn’t being smart, honest.  Writing begets writing.  Writing is a muscle, in its own way.  The more you do it, the more the ideas flow, the more words structure themselves in your head, and the easier it is to keep writing.  It doesn’t matter WHAT you write, you just have to write something, every day, no matter what.  A few pages on your story, a blog post, a letter, hell, even a shopping list.  Just write SOMETHING.

And then I stopped writing ANYTHING.

Granted, I had good reason.  Between my separation and having to take care of three kids on my own, all my health issues, job insecurity, house reclamation, and just basic survival, I didn’t have time.  (That’s the other thing you need, time.  Which can be harder to come by and a lot easier to use as a fallback excuse.)  I wasn’t in situations anymore of enforced idleness that I could fill with writing.  Writing required scratching out time that I just couldn’t find.  I wrote it off (pun maybe intended?) and didn’t write regularly.  So when our annual Writers Weekend came around, I would try to cram in a ton of writing all at once.  This is like trying to run a half marathon when your previous athletic experience was all back in high school and you didn’t bother to train.  You can do it, but it’s going to be really, REALLY ugly.  And it was.  I finished a book after 5 years when my average for that length had been 6 months.  I have another half finished novel that gives me agita just thinking about.  Writers Weekend 2016, date yet to be determined, is coming up again.  Will it be another bloodbath?

Possibly not.

You see, two things have changed.  The first is this blog.  I haven’t been as regular on it as I would like, but I have been posting, and in doing so, I’ve been pretty wordy (sorry about that.)  Just taking the time to do them, though, has started warming up the brain.  Kind of like starting a walking routine.  Words on paper.  Or in this case, on the screen.  (Yes, I’m bad.  These posts go straight from my brain to the keyboard to you.  No editing, no revision.  You can probably tell.)  The 30 day challenges are really good for that, as it pushes me a little more than just casually posting would.  I have to come up with a lot of topics and put the time in front of the keyboard.

The other change is the OTHER blog.  The WriteFFS blog is going pretty well.  Well, I say well.  I have 12 followers. I suspect half of them are porn blogs. ::shrug::  BUT.  Because of it, I’m looking at writing blogs, both on Tumblr and on the broader internet, every day.  I’m THINKING about writing more..  Which may seem a bit masturbatory, but thinking about writing makes you want to write.  Going back to the fitness metaphor, I read an interesting piece of advice from the actor Terry Crews who said that if you want to work out, just start by going to the gym every day.  It doesn’t matter what you do, even if you just sit there and read a magazine.  Just getting there every day is half the battle, and eventually, you’ll want to try something.  That thing will lead to the next thing, and eventually you’ll be working out.  Just show up.  That’s what the WFFS blog is doing for me.  It’s me showing up, every day, 3-4 posts a day.  Yes, my queue is doing the actual posting, but I’m having to keep that queue filled, and I want to fill it with more than just reblogs (shares for you FB people).  So I’m out on the internet, finding other writing blogs to link to, to follow, to get ideas from.  Which is making me think about writing.  Which is making me want to write.

I’m not writing yet.  But I am organizing.  The story that I mentioned was nibbling at me?  Not writing it.  But I am starting to lay out characters and a rough, VERY rough outline.  It’s a major genre change for me, so I may resort to writing tools.  Need to start looking for more Scrivener and Evernote tutorials.  Right now I just have 35 rows in an Excel spreadsheet neatly numbered, one for each chapter, the first 6 of which just say “Mad Annie is looking for you.”  I’ll fill in more as the plot develops.  It’s taking its time, so I’m taking mine.  I found this amazing quote while working on the blog, though:

20160211_112933

It really helped me focus what I was trying to do with this story.  (For the record, it’s a post-apocalypse buddy/heist story.  Leverage meets The Stand?)  I was focusing too much on the politics and the worldbuilding and complicated machinations.  I need to focus on what’s important.  The people. Relationships, values, the human spirit.  But without the blog, I probably wouldn’t have found that, and this would still be more of a wish than a story.

This was a really long winded way of saying Write.  Every day.  It doesn’t matter what, it doesn’t matter for whom.  Post it, don’t post it.  Fiction, non-fiction, to do list, wish list, anything.  Anything you have to stop and think about.  Anything that requires the smallest amount of mindfulness.  All the tips about setting aside dedicated writing time, creating an environment, establishing writing triggers, they’re all good, but they don’t always survive first contact with reality.  Just write anything.  Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it every day, but strive for it.  You’ll get better at it.  It will get easier.  Even only 300 words a day gets you a novel a year.

Write Now

Write Now

CYIf1HbWEAEZKwSWe received word recently that our go-to publisher, Amber Quill Press, would be closing their doors come March.  Publishing is a fierce industry to begin with, and digital publishing is no longer the land of opportunity it once was.  Pressed by rising fees and competition from Amazon, the mainstream publishers and self-publishing, the owners of AQP have decided to withdraw with dignity.  I can’t thank them enough for taking a chance with us and giving us a lovely home the past eight years.

But that leaves Nikki and I with a dilemma.  We have a six book novel series with them as well has almost a dozen novellas between us.  Rights for all of these will be reverting back to us come the end of March.  So our question is, what do we do with them?

In some ways, this change may be a good one for us professionally.  We’ve both become rather complacent in the last few years.  AQP would take pretty much anything we’d write, so we didn’t really pitch to other houses, putting all our eggs in one basket, as it were.  And neither of us have ever been very good at promotion, but with a publishing house behind you, you can kind of pretend that they’re taking care of the promotion (even when they really aren’t. No blame to them, it’s not their jobs.)  So we both had to sit back and think about what we were (and weren’t) doing, what we wanted to do, and what we were willing to do.

Which we avoided for a couple of weeks.

But last Monday, while we were having dinner before my bike repair class, I brought it up and we ended up having an impromptu business meeting.  Both of us agreed that our biggest weakness, whatever we decide to do with the stories, is promotion.  But after so long, neither of us had a clue how to do it anymore.  The techniques we used when we started have changed.  Mailing lists and chat rooms are a thing of the past (and honestly didn’t work so great when we did them.)  So we made a list of four people we knew were active in the business and seemed to be doing well, and divvied them up between us to get advice.  We also asked Deb, who does promotion for another medium (if you haven’t already, check out her podcast Verity!, an amazing Doctor Who podcast with a diversity of women panelists!)  Every single one of them came back with the same response: Master social media.

Easier said than done.

I’ve been on Twitter for ages, but from the “See what I had for lunch/look at my silly cat/kid/neighborhood” perspective.  Lots of retweeting, but not a lot of depth.  I have a Facebook page out of necessity, but I hate it and only check it once or twice a week.  My platform these days has been, surprisingly, Tumblr.  There’s an amazing diversity of voices there, and I’ve learned a lot on subjects I didn’t expect to from reading and talking to the people there.  Deb’s advice was to pick one platform and own it.  So I’ve decided to take on Tumblr.

Once upon a time, I saw a book titled How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything.  I never read it, but just the title of it really resonated with me.  I think it’s very true.  And it’s kind of playing out in this process.  Nikki is amazing at the do-over.  When we write, she is the rewriter.  I’m always amazed at the magic she can do on a piece of text the second or third or even fourth time around, at a point where I would be (and have been) thoroughly sick of the words.  She carries that on into this process by remaking herself, going for a total rebranding.  She’s created a new blogosphere identity, N. M. Bunting, and gone to Instagram with pictures from around Philly and her travels.  It’s great, and you should definitely check it out.

Me?  I’m a Sagittarius.  The way I do anything is by going deeper, learning more, digging in.  I love writing, I love the craft of writing, and I love helping other people write.  So that’s the direction I’m taking.  I’ve started a Tumblr blog WriteFFS (Write For Fuck’s Sake), and am sharing reblogs and blog posts about writing, from inspirational words and pictures to concrete writing tools to writing prompts.  I’ll probably clean up my old Grey Gerou blog, rather than going through a rebrand, but that won’t be very active.  And once we decide what to do with the stories, both of us will use these new venues to promote the books.

But right now, for me at least, it’s the information sharing that’s the most exciting part.  I like being a teacher, even in this most shallow of ways.  So even if nothing else comes from it, I’ll have this now.  A sense of giving back to the writing community I love.

Recommitting

Recommitting

I’m feeling that guilt again.  The “I haven’t posted in a week but there’s so much to catch up on but everything’s different who cares about that so I won’t post at all” blogger’s guilt.  We’ve all felt it, whether we put it off for a couple of weeks or a couple of days.  Especially those of us who follow people who post daily religiously, no matter what their daily life throws at them.  (We hates them, precious, we do.)  So yeah, I’m sliding into that morass.  5 posts in a month is kind of shameful, especially since honestly we had a lot going on that I could talk about!  Bunnies!  Zombies!  The beach!  But I didn’t, and now it’s too much, and ARGH!!

*deep breath*

So, I am recommitting.  Daily posts for June.  They may not all be scintillating, but you’ll get something every day.  Yes, including weekends.  The next week or two will be catch-up posts, but we’re off camping in 3 weeks, so there will be pictures (AND PONIES!!!) from there.  And as summer kicks off, I’m trying to get the kids (and Nikki!) out of the house as many weekends as possible.

Consider this day one.  I’m making a list of topics so I can get some stored up, and on we go.  We’ll see how close I come to managing the full month!

Well, that week got away from me…

Well, that week got away from me…

Time has a way of slipping past me.  I have to live focused on the moment, on the next thing that has to get done, and there’s always another thing that has to get done.  I’ll be going along and suddenly it’s three weeks later and I have no idea where those 21 days went or what I did with them.  This is especially true when it comes to paying my bills.  “What do you mean I have to pay them again!  I just paid them…  Oh.”

Last week was definitely one of those weeks.  Hero had two evening activities, I worked an extra evening, took everyone to get haircuts, sort of started the new job and suddenly it had been a week since I blogged.  So my apologies for the radio silence.  I do have lots to talk about, so I’ll get back on track.

In the meantime, have an arty picture of an old bike.

oldbike

Oh, and I paid all my bills.