Since I had children, my house has never been truly clean. I've taken time to wash things down, I've tidied toys, craft projects, books, and random sheets of paper, and I do at least one to two loads of dishes in the dishwasher per day, but I've not done everything all at once. I've found that doing a little every day will keep my house from being a complete disaster, but it will never be fully clean at any one time. Granted, for birthday parties or social events, I'll put in the extra effort and make sure that everywhere a visitor might go is clean, but my work, books, and random junk that the kids have lying about end up tossed into my room, to be later retrieved and placed on tables, etc. Of course, that is, until recently.
As you all might know, I've had issues with my health of late (for which I'm still being tested), which has impacted how quickly I move and has almost entirely stopped me from bending over to pick up anything off the floor. I feel fine--I'm not in any pain or discomfort--but every so often, I stop being able to see. Now, I'm taking medication that helps reduce the swelling in my brain, but when my blood pressure rises at all, my vision goes dark. This includes bending over. Every time I lower myself to grab something off the floor, I can't see. Needless to say, the household cleaning has suffered, and my children have had to do a lot more tidying than they used to.
That brings me to today. As a gift, my mom has offered to hire--and pay for--a small arsenal of cleaning people to buzz about my house. It's wonderful, of course, but also a little uncomfortable. Not just that these people are in my space, handling my things, but that I'm not quite sure what to do with myself. I feel a bit useless, really. And guilty. I'm literally sitting on my couch with my computer and my dog in my lap as they move around me. I mean, it's their job, but I hate to think that they see me as a lazy slob. I want to jump up and help them out, or at least seem as busy as they do, but I can't.
I've heard that cleaning people gossip together about the houses they've seen, and I'm always worried that my house will be one of those stories. Do any of you ever get that? That helpless feeling, where you want to be useful but you're absolutely incapable of doing anything?
Ultimately, though, my house is getting clean, and for the next while (while I'm finishing up the rest of my testing before my final diagnosis), I'll have no mess to worry about. I'm so lucky, so grateful that I have the help that I need and an amazing, supportive family that are willing to do anything to make life easier for me. I'm a very fortunate person.
I went to the doctor this morning (because I have a nasty cold that has settled into my chest), and something happened to me in that little room that I'm certain has happened to every single other human being in the history of time. Something insulting was said to me and, instead of uttering the response that I later realized was perfect, I sat in stunned silence and let the moment pass.
For those of you who are curious, this particular circumstance was that a walk-in clinic doctor (whom I'd never before met) told me that my anxiety (the panic attacks that I've been having on a weekly-to-daily basis for the past 9 years) and my nasty cold would be cured by getting more exercise. My first desire was to shout profanities and storm out (which I didn't do), because if he actually knew my medical history (or at least looked at my file before he made a snap judgement about my weight) he would have seen that 1. I have been trying to lose weight using diet and exercise for my entire life, and 2. I have hypothyroidism. Additionally, more exercise wouldn't cure my cold and make my lungs magically better. In fact, I think that my exercising right now would merely make me cough more.
The response that I *really* wanted to give, after pondering it for the past two hours, was this: "I appreciate your insight, but your assumption is that I'm fat due to lack of exercise and poor diet. As you've made very clear, you do not know my medical history. What I'm interested in is the diagnosis that you would give to someone that is skinny."
Not only do I wish I could have put him in his place for my own reasons, but also because he could easily say the same thing to another person and they could take him seriously, potentially overlooking a life-altering anxiety issue.
This experience today (which I've had thousands of times before) made me think. If I'd been writing the scene, I'd have gotten my heroine to say exactly what she wanted to. She'd have stood up for herself.
I also realized that I generally write strong, outspoken heroines precisely because I usually get tongue-tied or stunned into silence when I'm in these social situations. So while my heroines all have a little bit of me in them, I've made them stronger, more resilient, and braver; essentially, people that I want to be more like.
Here's to hoping that the next time someone insults me, I can think of the right response, or at the very least that I'll learn to not let it hurt me.
I've reached the point in my writing (to which most of you authors can relate), where the end is so close that I can practically taste it. With every word that I write, my anticipation heightens, knowing that the story is almost complete.
I'm wrapping up plot points, concluding the romance in a satisfying revelation of "I love you"s, and making sure that the bad guy gets his just desserts. It's what I've been working towards since I'd started the research, and written the first word, and the suspense is almost too much to bear.
The trick is not to get overly excited and rush through the end, which ruins it for everyone. I also have to make sure that I've hit all of the appropriate emotional notes, and I don't skip any important plot details or make continuity errors. It's difficult to keep the same level of thoughtfulness and precision that goes into the rest of the manuscript, because I'm just so eager and thrilled!
For those of you that aren't writers, or might not quite get what I'm describing, it's not that I want the book to be over. It's more of a fervent desire to have my work in readers' hands, and the quicker I can write it, the quicker my editor can go over it, and the publishing process can begin. I have so many stories in my head that are waiting to be written, that I want to get them all out as quickly as possible so that others might enjoy them.
As you all know, my current work in progress is a novella, and I'm bursting to have you all read it! So, back to writing I go...
I've heard about other authors' comfort zones when it comes to writing, whether it be that they're more comfortable with flash fiction, short stories, novellas, or they're better at writing full-length novels. In my first series, and early in my second, I'd only ever written longer novels (between 80,000 and 100,000 words). I had never really considered how difficult trying something new would be, until I gave it a shot.
My current WIP is a novella that branches off from the third novel in the Mason Siblings series (entitled Love and Deceit), and I have to confess that I'm really struggling to keep it "novella length". I thought for certain when I'd begun writing that the story should only be about 20,000 words at most. This WIP currently sits at 27,468, and it's not even close to being completed. I'm beginning to wonder if I'll be able to keep it from being a novel, and that concerns me.
I'm trying to avoid rushing the scenes, because it definitely comes through to the reader, but I suppose that I won't know if I've done that until my editor takes a look at it. For now, I will keep writing, and hope for the best. The story is done when the story is done!
Do any of you experience this problem?
My little 9-year-old Chihuahua, Lady, can tell time. I haven't the faintest idea how she does it.
Anyone that knows Chihuahuas understands that they can be very loud, or "yappy". Gratefully, we've been very fortunate with ours, as she only barks when she believes someone to be at our door. Or, when she's expecting my husband to return home.
Since my husband started his new hours, he's been getting home at approximately the same time every day. Our dog has become used this, and now every single day, between 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm, she is extra sensitive to sounds.
Is mine the only dog that knows how to tell the time? Are your pet's meal schedules on an internal clock? Tell me!
Despite my optimism, and the goals I've set for myself, I...haven't been writing all that much, lately.
In theory, I should be able to write 500 words per day--a very modest goal--which is what I'd told myself I would do. In practice, however, I'm having a seriously difficult time getting it done. I could blame any number of things: being busy with my other work, household stuff, being the mom of four kids and literally being climbed on all the time, social media, etc. but I think that Iam my biggest speed bump.
I want to write, but I think that I need to focus on making the time to dedicate just to my writing. Two days per week, my 3 year-old twins are at preschool while their older brothers (8 and 6) are in school, so that should be 5 interrupted hours of writing each day. Unfortunately, most of those two days is spent making phone calls (which I can only really make when the kids aren't home, because noise), taking an extra long (and blissfully uninterrupted by screaming) shower, playing with the dog (a tiny Chihuahua who usually hides when the kids are home), sipping tea before it gets cold, and having a snack that I don't have to share. By the time I actually sit down with my laptop on my lap, I usually only have an hour or two before I have to pick up the kids from school.
My goal now--which I'm stating publicly here for accountability--is to actually take those two 5-hour days per week and dedicate them to writing book 8 (Book 4 in the Seductive Spies series--A Spy Worth Saving). I'll post my progress, and I promise I'll be honest. My current word count is: 25,973.
Wish me luck!
I've learned something, lately, about myself when I'm plotting. In my work-in-progress (A Spy Worth Saving: Book 4 in the Seductive Spies series), there's currently a long lull in the action, and for days I've been staring at my plot notes, not knowing where to go from here. I know where my plot must go in the long run, but I've been stuck in a short bout of writer's block. I've thought about it every day, and long into each night, without success; not a single plot point has come to mind.
Then suddenly, it happened. I abruptly became fed up with this immobility, and I started writing plot notes for a fight scene. It was like magic. The words started flowing, my pen going so fast that my notes are barely legible... And then it hit me. Every time I've ever been stuck in my writing or my plot notes, it's been an action scene that's drawn me out.
Instead of continuing with the inaction, I've maneuvered my hero and heroine into a sticky situation. Now, their personalities get to shine, giving them dialogue and action without my having to force it. The scene merely unfolds, and I no longer have to stare at my plot-less notebook and blank computer screen.
I don't know why, precisely, but I know that for me a good action scene is the cure for writer's block.
Award winning historical romance author, Acquisitions Manager for Pandamoon Publishing, wife, and stay-at-home mom of four. Chocoholic, nerd, & bath bomb enthusiast.