Tag Archives: writing life

Quitting Time?

I’m 64 years old, so let me just say 1:15 a.m. is way past my bedtime. Yet here I sit. Sweating, because I’m too cheap to turn on the AC. Thinking. Blogging. Sweating. Pondering. Basically driving myself nuts, trying to answer one yes/no question: Is it time to stop writing novels?

Notice the absence of the adjective <em>simple</em>, as in, one <em>simple </em>question. I don’t do simple. I complicate. Everything. It’s a gift.

See, here’s the rub. I used to love to write. Maybe I still do. But, you know, I got caught up in the whole indie marketing frenzy–not to be confused with a shark feeding frenzy, although, hey … maybe they’re not that different. I tried, but I can’t keep up. I’m shell shocked. Seriously. I sometimes think I’ll run screaming down the street—wild-eyed and possibly buck naked—if  I see one more Facebook post about how I could be “10 Tweets Away from Bestseller” or make a killing with “5 Benign Book Signing Strategies” or “Instantly Instagram an Irresistible Author Platform.”

So I ask myself. Should I, an unrepentant marketing failure, a crotchety promo dropout, continue to write? I have neither yen nor breath to toot my own horn. I get cranky just thinking about it. Ergo, wouldn’t it make sense to just stop, for God’s sake?

Absolutely. And I’ve made up my mind to do exactly that, at least a hundred times. Except ….

I can’t stop thinking about writing. No problem at all resisting the urge to actually <em>do</em> it, but I can’t stop thinking about the books I have out there or the ones in progress or the unborn stories running laps in my brain. I’m afflicted with snippets of dialogue, plot points, conflicts, characters. I get ideas, dammit.

I recently confided in my blog-tour coordinator—employed back when I could afford such—my urge to switch off the Mac, throw out the pencils, burn my thesaurus. She said no, don’t do that, all our reviewers loved your books.

I spent all night updating my website. The one I won’t need, on account of I’m not going to write books any more.

Maybe.

Crap.

I need another glass of wine.

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Why Remix?

As a writer, I was a late bloomer. Eighteen years ago, I was in my early forties when I decided to write my first book. Crazy, right?

But you know what they say: “Better late than never.”

In my case, better took a quantum leap into fabulous when Bantam bought that book and its sequel for its Loveswept series romance line. I was delighted (read: exuberant, bordering on rapturous). I learned a great deal from my experience with Bantam—thanks in particular to my editors Joy Abella and Beth De Guzman—and I owe them more than I can say.

Now let’s fast-forward a decade. Or two.

Those two books—which remain dear to my heart—are sadly, out of print. They were never available as e-books. To boot, these engaging stories, once critically acclaimed—For Love or Money won a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award—are now hideously dated. (I mean, who knew back in 1997 we’d all carry around cell phones one fine day?) Finally, in the past eighteen years I’ve grown as a writer, giving new meaning to the ever-wistful refrain, “If I had it to do all over again ….”

Taking those factors into account, the decision to “remix” the two existing books as semi-sweet romances (a genre I personally invented for books that are sensual but not explicit)—and add a third to create the Golden State Hearts Trilogy—was a no-brainer.

Book one, the new and improved For Love or Money, will launch on April 1st. (Making me an April Fool for romance.) Book two, Hunter In Disguise, is slated for late July. And book three–featuring two middle-aged romantic leads and as yet untitled–will debut just in time for Christmas.

Meanwhile, I’m making like a Mixmaster (Mixmistress sounds sort of kinky) and having the time of my life!

Just for Fun: Introverts

Introvert-Leader

Many, if not most, writers are introverts at heart. That being the case, I thought we could all unite here–separately, in the comfort of our own homes, of course–to chat about our common foibles. Sure, I get the fact that we’re far from a new topic. Since the dawn of time–or thereabouts–introverts have been pleading for understanding and offering tips on how to get along with and make life easier for us. Cyberspace teems with blogs and articles about same, and Susan Cain wrote a bestseller about us.

Unfortunately, our cries for acceptance, heart-rending though they may be, all too often go unheard by our bee-busy-buzzy extroverted friends.  Still, on the off chance some stray, snowed-in extrovert is dying for company, scouring the Interweb for somebody, anybody, to talk to, I’m willing to oblige. Listen up.

To begin with, seeing as how introverts make up a mere 25% of the world’s population, I decided I ought to provide a checklist of key characteristics you can use to recognize us. You may even discover you’re one of us. If you do, don’t be surprised if your first reaction is denial. That was my first reaction, at least until I learned introversion ≠ shy, a fact I’m constantly explaining to those who know me and my big mouth only too well. As for retiring, you’d be amazed at the far-reaching effects a few good introverts have had on history. For example:

  • Albert Einstein (who had enough chutzpah to turn the world of physics on its head)
  • Mahatma Gandhi (who had enough chutzpah to turn the British empire on its head)
  • Dwight Eisenhower (who had enough chutzpah to turn the Third Reich on its head)
  • Stephen Spielberg (who produces groundbreaking movies like ET, Letters from Iwo Jima and Schindler’s List)
  • Michael Jordan (fearless on the basketball court, and a terrific salesman, although the less said about underwear here, the better)
  • Steve Martin (a wild and crazy guy)
  • Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry, Gunny Hightower and the mayor of Carmel, mind you)
  • Johnny Carson (yes, the Great Carnac himself)
  • Mother Theresa (who comforted millions of suffering souls in India and around the world)

Shy?  I don’t think so.

But I digress.  We were talking about how to recognize an introvert, and I promised you a checklist. Never let it be said I didn’t have the chutzpah to follow through.

You might be an introvert, if …

  • your favorite spot at any given party is that cozy corner where you can happily, albeit safely, observe extroverts in action.
  • your first reaction to stress is a desire for space and plenty of it.
  • your last reaction to stress is a desire to talk about what’s bugging you.
  • you think a good weekend is one when nobody calls, visits, or emails.
  • you hold life’s most important bits close to the vest.
  • you like people but prefer them in small doses and need time alone to recharge after contact.
  • your mental calendar is full, your social calendar, not so much … and that’s fine and dandy by you.
  • your worst nightmare is the well-meaning friend or relative who’s decided you’re shy or lonely or depressed and just need to be “drawn out.”
  • you visit a new church and hesitate to fill out the visitor’s card, because you know it will unleash a kindly, completely overwhelming flood of invitations to a) join small groups, b) come to dinner or c) “get together and chat.”

There. Does that help? Did you recognize yourself or someone you care about? If you find yourself facing that most disquieting of epiphanies–i.e., that you have (or are) an introvert in a family of extroverts–don’t panic. I’m about to suggest a few coping strategies. Not that we introverts expect to be coddled, mind you, but remembering a few salient points will keep feathers unruffled all around.

  1. Don’t take it personally, when we go hedgehog. It’s not you; it’s us. We’re not mad, we still love you, we just need some time alone to recharge. Depending on the circumstances, recharging can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 months.
  2. Don’t ask, “Are you all right?” or “Is anything wrong?” or “Do you want to talk?” The answers are:  “Yes,” and “Only the fact that I’m not alone right now,” and “Absolutely not, but I’ll call you, if that changes.”
  3. If you’re getting grunts, hmmms or other monosyllabic answers, or we’re giving you that I’m-in-an-alternative-universe stare, we probably need some space.
  4. We do occasionally erupt into nonstop chatter. This usually happens after a prolonged period of “working things out in our heads.” Pretend you’re listening, smile and nod, remind yourself that this, too, shall pass–and thank God these eruptions tend to be infrequent.
  5. In times of extreme stress, we find invitations, phone calls, shooting the breeze, and Facebook posts that have to be shared to prove our compassion or social consciousness extremely taxing. Like Greta Garbo, we want to be alone. We want peace and quiet, online and off. We need to think, to process. (As opposed to extroverts, who seem to process every live-long thing out loud. I can’t tell you how many times an extrovert has told me–in excruciating detail–about his/her current problem, then concluded cheerfully, “Thanks!  Talking to you has helped me work it all out in my mind.” How that happens with all that gabbing going on is a mystery to me, but the system apparently works for them.)
  6. Finally, when we really start to get on your nerves, remember:  While we’re doing our withdrawn-uncommunicative-introversion schtick, we may be formulating the Theory of Everything or composing the Great American Novel or inventing the solution that will permanently straighten your naturally curly hair.

Did I miss anything? Feel free to comment and let me know!

introvert 3

Growing Up Indie, Part III: Out of the Frying Pan

You know those moments when you throw up your hands and mutter, “I don’t care about conventional wisdom, I’m gonna do this my way?”

I’m there.

I became an indie author last July, and I love it.  Please remember that:  I.  Love.  It.  Love getting my books out there, love getting feedback from readers/reviewers, love knowing I have control.

I do not … I repeat, not … love promoting.

Lord knows, there are droves of really smart people out there who can tell you the hows and whys and wherefores of marketing your book.  There are tools to help and websites to help and courses to help even more.  Facebook groups.  Twitter folk.  Trust me, there’s no shortage of knowledgeable, willing mentors.

To them, I say, “Thank you.  For your graciousness, your time, your patience, your willingness, and the advice I did take.  But from now on … count me out.”

Count me out, as in, no more frenetic/clever social media marketing campaigns. As in, I might try guest blogging—when/if I have time and something to say—but blog TOURS? Not happening.

I’m on the far side of 60 years old, and I have books to write. If they’re good books, the word will spread. (You know, like, “If you build it, they will come.”) Probably glacially, maybe not in my lifetime, but them’s the breaks.

Does believing people will find my books make me a Pollyanna? Quite possibly. Are smarter, more talented, more experienced, much more successful authors reading this and making with the, “Tsk, tsk?” No doubt.

But I know my own capabilities. I don’t have the energy to build marketing momentum AND tell stories. I love to tell stories. I detest marketing.

So, this is me, leaping out of the social media frying pan into the fire of probable anonymity (not to mention penury).

I came to this party to write. And, brother,Image that’s what I’m gonna do.

►End of rant◄