Monthly Archives: May 2015
I’ve written in the past about the challenges of working from home. There are a plethora of articles detailing the struggle to keep your work life and home life separate. There is also the added challenge of others thinking you aren’t really “working” when you create things for a living.
Can I get an amen?
I thought I was pretty awesome. I’ve worked from home many times in the past. I’m a rock star self-motivator. I’ve got a plan, goals, and a schedule for my writing. I make a predictable and totally respectable monthly income from my books. I had this handled.
I was wrong.
When push came to shove and my family needed someone to pick up the slack, I happily took on the extra work. For the last few months I’ve been CEO of my house. All things went through me from toilet cleaning to volunteer hours to grocery shopping. I knew it was temporary and, quite frankly, this is life. It has ups and downs. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made. I know what it takes to write a novel, market it, and take care of all the other administrative tasks. I genuinely thought I could easily wipe my hands after my husbands graduation and “walk back into the office” like I hadn’t missed a beat.
But there were a few things I hadn’t counted on. One being two tiny monsters who got used to mom being mom more often than she was Alexis Anne. My afternoon writing and marketing hours became snuggle time (because there was no other time for that all important decompression and skin to skin contact that is so important to young developing minds). It also became staging time for after school activities, an increasing homework load, and planning. Instead, my writing and work time was relegated to a few short hours in the morning, and it had to be all encompassing because there was no other time for it.
I was prepared for that. I accepted that when I agreed to work less. But the kids didn’t get the memo that mom was back to work. They still expect me to be mom in the afternoons and weekends. In just a few months they’d completely forgotten that mom had a job that had set hours in the morning and afternoon.
My husband kind of forgot, too. He has the best of intentions, and it was his words that made me realize the problems I was facing: we were in an adjustment period. As badly as I wanted my work schedule to magically go back to the way it was (along with everyone being blissfully happy) it wasn’t going to happen. It was going to take some time for everyone to get used to the new order of things.
And to make it work I needed to make my boundaries clear, just like I did when I first started writing. I also needed to understand that just because it wasn’t happening as fast as I dreamed, it was still happening. One day at a time. So for those of you wondering about working-from-home boundaries, here is my list of the important ones:
- My work hours are clearly posted and I expect everyone to respect them. Just because I’m home at 4 pm doesn’t mean I’m available to cut out paper stars or run to the grocery store. If I’ve listed 4-5pm as a work hour then you better be bleeding or on fire if you interrupt me (thank you Nora Roberts)
- We are a team, and as such we do all the chores together. This includes meal planning, grocery shopping, and keeping up with school events. I am not–nor do I want to be– Super Mom.
- Work trips are not vacations. Period.
- My office is my office. It is not a play room, a storage room, or a hallway.
- I’ve respected your needs, please respect mine in return. This is my job and something I love.
Added to this three ring circus is the fact that summer break starts in a couple of weeks and we’ll have yet another adjustment period. I’m hopeful that by then the kids will be used to having dad around again, and used to mom saying, “No, I’m working.” There is time for snuggles and books when I’m done for the day. There’s time for all of us. We just need some time to relearn the rules and respect each others needs.
Food and Fiction Friday! Julia shares the tomato soup recipe her sexy hero, Chris, makes in One Week in Hawaii!
I grew up knowing that food is love. My mother taught me how to cook. I remember standing in the kitchen on weeknight, following her around as she showed me how to roast a chicken, or bustling around at a dinner party, making a stew stretch to feed an unexpected guest. My father taught me how to bake. He would let me kneed bread dough and roll out pie crusts with my childish hands, making me feel very grown up because this food was actually going to feed people.
Later, in college where dorm cafeteria meals are meant to get you through the day rather than satisfy the inner foodie in you, I would cook for my friends. Big pots of spaghetti Bolognese and chicken noodle soup would come steaming off of my dorm’s tiny electric stove. We would pile up mismatched plates and bowls to eat together in the…
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I’m back!! After several weeks of juggling a lot of personal life stuff, I’m finally back to writing. It wasn’t that I wasn’t writing, but it was very much secondary to all the other stuff happening. I prefer to write in big chunks of thousands of words, not a few hundred here and there.
That got me thinking about my writing process and my next project, Tempt.
When writing a sexy serial I need three things: music, a plan, and time with a clear head. Music is huge for me to maintain a consistent tone and keep me focused. A plan gives me clear goals for each day of writing and a prize (for lack of a better explanation) that I’m working toward overall. And a clear head is crucial. Adam, Elizabeth, Theo, and Allison are all really strong, emotional, deep characters. Writing first thing in the morning when I can let them run wild before the realities of real life creep in works best.
The first draft of Tease was written about three years ago. It was heavily music driven, had a bazillion story lines that needed weeding down, and a character (and author) that needed some confidence. The minute I finished writing Tease I had an idea for a story featuring the mysterious Allison, Elizabeth’s best friend. She’s an important character in Elizabeth’s life, but she never actually appears in the book. I’ve had a lot of time to stew over this story idea…
I listened to a lot of Alex Clare when writing Tease. There is something haunting and deep about The Lateness of the Hour, but there was one track in particular that never quite fit with Tease. I desperately wanted to write a story for it, though. Three years ago I decided it needed to be Allison’s story.
I’m finally getting ready to write it.
If you want an idea of what to expect out of Tempt, take a look at these lyrics from “Treading Water”:
Can you forgive the things I do, that I can’t amend?
Not the way I yearn for her,
I hope you can’t pretend.
Girl you’re a fire and you’ll find,
That I want to get burned.
No matter what you can teach me,
I’m sure I’ll never learn.
Hmmm treading water, I keep,
The things I loved about Tease I’m hoping to recapture in Tempt. Elizabeth was a hopeless and dark character, and so is Theo. Adam, by contrast, was a hopeful character willing to go to extremes for love. I like exploring the interaction of those two types of characters. Will they destroy themselves or each other? What is love really worth? Is solitude worth the cost of loneliness?
If you want first look access to Tempt as I write, make sure you are signed up for the Teasers Newsletter. I don’t have a firm release date yet, but expect Volume One toward the end of June–in time for hot summer reading!
In the meantime, take a look at my playlist to get a taste of what’s to come!
Treading Water – Alex Clare
Relax My Beloved – Alex Clare
Sail – AWOLNATION
I’m So Sorry – Imagine Dragons
Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene – Hozier
Cherry Wine – Hozier
Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys
Paradise – Coldplay
And here’s Treading Water:
Last night on First Draught we tackled the always fun and stressful topic of writing pitches, blurbs, and synopses. It’s one of the hardest and most important things we write (other than the actual book) but it involves a complicated array of techniques and practice to get just right. Thankfully we had Shari Slade and T.J. Kline around to chime in with their experiences in traditional and self publishing.
You now have a variety of options for catching our shows! In addition to watching on YouTube you can now subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud! And if you haven’t yet, stop by our fabulous new website FirstDraughtWriting.com.
Here are the links to last night’s show: