Monthly Archives: December 2017

18 for 2018

Thanks to Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft for this excellent idea, gleaned from their Happier podcast. Rubin and Craft suggest setting eighteen goals for 2018—not the usual vague resolutions, so quickly abandoned, but rather smaller, concrete, achievable goals. I’ve noticed a theme as I compile my list: making better use of the resources I already have.

Here are my eighteen goals for 2018:

  1. Write another romance novel. (I’ve already started)
  2. Write another mystery novel.
  3. For fun, and to help my own writing, I’ll read and review books by at least six new-to-me romance authors, six new mystery authors, and six new women’s fiction authors.
  4. Attend one big writing conference.
  5. Take guitar lessons. Since getting a guitar in May, I’ve only learned chords. It’s time to learn scales, finger picking, some cool blues techniques.
  6. Take dance lessons. For years, I’ve been saying I want to learn basic ballroom dancing, and Hubs is willing to try.
  7. Take golf lessons. I’m a baby beginner, but I have a nice set of clubs and access to affordable golf courses, so why not? Hubs loves golf, and I’d like to share this with him more often.
  8. Incorporate more exercise into my writing hours. I’ll use the Pomodoro technique and monitor my progress until it becomes a habit, however long that takes. Sitting is the new sugar, eh? Or is it the new smoking? In any case, I sit too much.
  9. Acquire or make 18 snazzy garments, clothes I could wear to a book signing. Dump 18 seldom-worn garments.
  10. Publish a blog post each week. I pay for the hosting, so I might as well take advantage of it to practice my writing.
  11. Set up my author webpage.
  12. Get a professional author photo.
  13. Do the online Spanish lessons I’m paying for at least three times per week. Me gusta aprender idiomas.
  14. Use the gym at least three times per week. I love going there, but I tend to procrastinate. Again, if I’m going to pay for it, I might as well use it.
  15. Stretch every day. I tend to skimp on this at the end of a workout—not a good idea for an older person who spends most of her day sitting.
  16. At least fifteen minutes of real conversation with Hubs every day—talking about logistics and daily tasks doesn’t count. Let’s get metaphysical, philosophical, or maybe just silly.
  17. Query the everloving shit out of my recently-completed mystery. Someone wants this story!
  18. Explore the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been living here for three years now, but haven’t yet visited much of it.

There you go! Care to share any of your goals for 2018?

The Golden Thread

The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah

What’s the brightest thread running through the tapestry of your life?

I do love a good metaphor, and this one is apt for expressing an important insight that has helped me focus my efforts and make peace with some difficult choices. Because one of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way is that I can’t fully pursue every passion that comes along. Interesting people are interested in a lot of interesting stuff.  There aren’t enough hours in a day to dance, sing, play guitar, learn new languages, cook gourmet meals, invite friends over to share them, meet new friends, go hear some live music, travel, sew artistic clothing, paint, draw…

Recently, Hubs and I hosted a Christmas party. The menu was simple, three homemade soups, bread, salad, cheese, cake. As always, our friends rounded out the menu with delicious nibbles. After dinner and guitars, our wine-soaked conversation turned to childhood memories. My sister-in-law, an actress, theater teacher, and director, told us that she’d been shaped by her family to be a performer. She tap-danced and sang on a local TV show at age five and, except for a brief pause when her kids were small, she’s been on stage in some capacity ever since. Performing is her joy, her golden thread.

This got me to thinking. What’s my golden thread? The answer is as easy as saying yes to another Christmas cookie: books! Like my SIL, I can trace this thread to earliest childhood. My fondest early memories center around libraries, bookshops, and the shelves of books that lined our family room. When life got too hard, too scary, too boring, I’d retreat into a book. When I had to wait, and kids are always having to wait, book time. Can’t sleep late at night? Book. Long car ride? Book. Creepy guy staring at you on the bus? Book as magic shield.

My sharpest travel memories often center around books: Shakespeare and Company in Paris, the Bouquinistes on the banks of the Seine, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Green Apple Books and City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, Powell’s Books in Portland, our own King’s Books in Tacoma, and all the gorgeous, charming independent bookshops I’ve visited, including The King’s English in Salt Lake City, which you must visit if you ever find yourself in that fair city.

Bookshops and libraries are my favorite places to be—I get positively giddy when surrounded by such riches. Is it any wonder I’ve chosen to enter that world as a writer of fiction? Duh!

This blog is entitled Late Blooming Rose for a reason: it’s only now, late in life, that I’m figuring out some of these important epiphanies. I can’t do everything I’d like to do, but I can keep following that golden thread.

What’s your golden thread? And what’s your favorite bookstore or library?

 

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Once again, it’s time for the monthly blog hop from the Insecure Writers Support Group. On the first Wednesday of each month, writers gather to commiserate, support each other, and laugh over shared foibles. Join the fun here: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html or here: #IWSG. Thanks to Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh and this month’s hosts: Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner.

This month’s question: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

The time portal glows–an eerie, pulsing green light that pierces the midnight mist. From within its swirling depths, a seductive voice croons, “Step through. You can undo it all, start again.”

An icy finger of hope and fear tickles the base of my spine. “How far back?” I whisper.

“January 2017.”

“Dang. I was hoping for pre-election—”

The voice cuts me off, harsher now. “January. Take it or leave it.”

I gulp a lungful of air, squeeze my eyes shut, and step through.

I’m holding a phone in my hand. The nice lady has offered me a job, one that involves a commute, not much pay, but the chance to use my skill set again—one that’s rare and in demand, unlike writing fiction. But now I know how much time and energy that job will drain, how my writing will languish, how I’ll writhe with frustration as I prepare yet another lesson plan.

“No, ma’am. Your offer is tempting, but I’ll have to pass.” While I’m at it, I resign from my other time-sucking, low-paying, part-time job and settle in to write full time. Okay, I’m not being paid yet, but I know I need to build up my stable of stories before I can generate an income stream from indie publishing. How lucky am I to have that opportunity!

I smile and turn to the pile of writing craft books before me. Now I know that Lisa Cron’s Story Genius will streamline my revision process and make my next manuscript sleeker, faster, a purring Ferrari rather than a breakdown-prone old Ford.

Now I know that I actually have a knack for writing romance, and that I’ll really enjoy the process. Who’da thunk it?

And then my timer dings, and I get my widening butt out of my desk chair and go for a twenty-minute walk before resuming my work. After all, the brain is an organ of the body.

When my manuscript is finished, I pop over to the UPS store and have the whole thing printed and spiral-bound, then tackle final edits with pencil, highlighters, and sticky notes—because now I know I’ll notice details on paper that I wouldn’t on a screen.

What a productive, satisfying year I’ve had, now that I’ve been gifted with hindsight. As 2017 draws to a close, I strap on my tool belt and return to the time portal to tinker with those controls. If only I can adjust the target to October of 2016…