In the middle of this pandemic, riots and protests, my husband and I decided to buy our retirement home, which will hopefully serve as a getaway place, until he retires in four years… so in the meantime I’m thinking writer retreat. But, gee, let’s add the stress of buying a house to the already chaotic situation we’re all living with.
And did I mention I’m finishing a book right now…well, I’m always either starting or finishing a book, so that’s not surprising. But finding focus during the unprecedented mayhem in my life, in all of our lives, isn’t such an easy thing.
And writing a romcom with all of the darkness going on sometimes feels like a disconnect.
And yet, when I need to escape, I’m turning to Hallmark Channel, or old television shows like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie, so maybe writing a romcom right now is not so out of place.
But finding focus, being able to escape to the peaceful little beach world in my head isn’t always easy. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block. If I can get there the words flow. It’s more an inability to detach from the real world…and stay detached.
Usually when I write, I plan long blocks of time to work. I schedule breaks at the end of each hour to stand up and move around, then I get back to work. But, my process has changed. Instead of writing for 3 or 4 hours with ten minute breaks each hour, I’m writing in little bursts. I’ll sit down write a scene maybe 15 to 20 minutes, instead of writing a full chapter. Then I get up to go do some chores…pack some boxes for our new home…sew some masks, any of the above sit down and write for another 15 to 20 minutes. It’s a challenging process, but then, everything is challenging right now.
I’m trying to focus on the good things. People coming together to help each other and their communities, to support each other, sharing resources, finding new ways to teach, work and celebrate. Human beings can be amazing. Those things make it easier to sleep at night, and to write about people
Well, I’ve been writing for nearly 20 minutes, so it’s time to do some chores…or pack some boxes…or maybe it’s time to look at pictures of my new house, lol. How are you finding focus in this challenging time? How are you distracting yourself from the stress? Share your tips and ideas. I could sure use the help!
When I was a little girl, both of my grandmother’s saved margarine tubs, whipped topping containers, reused aluminum foil, and even washed the plastic bags that bread came in, turned them inside out to dry and reused them. One of my grandmothers was known to scrape the black off of burnt toast and serve it, and I once even saw her eat a banana so black that I wouldn’t have used it for banana bread!! “You don’t waste food,” she told me.
My father’s mother, Mildred Porter, was born in 1902. My mother’s mother, Maclovia Villereal, was born in 1916. They both lived through The Great Depression, but came from vastly different backgrounds and were at different stages in their lives. My grandma Mildred, was a young mother, with the responsibility of keeping food on the table for her children. My grandmother, Maclovia, who went by the name of Maxine, was a teenager at the beginning of the depression, and by the time those dark days ended, was in her early 20’s. Yet, for both of them, that depression era mentality of not being wasteful was ingrained in their behavior to the day they died.
As a child growing up in more prosperous times, I thought it was funny to wash bread bags and foil, then hang them up to dry. The margarine tubs and cool whip containers were more reasonable and something I’ve always done. They’re convenient for sending leftovers home with guests, if I’m out of plastic containers. But, bread bags and foil…I didn’t get it.
And today, with all that’s going on in the world, I find myself doing many of the same things. I’m washing jars and instead of tossing them in the recycling bin, I’m putting them aside…’just in case’. Yogurt containers that I’d normally throw away, I’m washing and storing…’just in case’. I’m saving my butter wrappers to grease bread pans with, and I’m using cloth napkins instead of disposable napkins, and using dish-towels and rationing paper towels, and serving almost every meal on glass plates. Why? Just in case… Not because we’re broke…at least not yet, but because we can’t get them.
Food, and daily necessities have become precious, in a way that we’ve forgotten that they should be all of the time. For many people, it’s already a matter of financial necessity, but for everyone it’s a matter of access. We don’t know when we’ll be able to get toilet paper again, or diapers. Will there be mayonnaise on the grocery shelves this week? Will they be out of chicken in the meat department? (It was three grocery orders before I got fresh chicken!)
We’re cooking more, rationing more, appreciating small things…I mean, who ever thought you’d be so excited to get a package of toilet paper??
Things have changed, and we don’t know for how long. Will this be a permanent change? Will these new habits become ingrained in our behavior? What about our children?
And would that be a good thing? And while we don’t want to become hoarders, maybe we should continue to conserve, to waste less and appreciate more.
So, what do you find yourself doing now that you didn’t Before? Are you saving containers? Rationing? And do you think that some of these changes will be permanent for you and your family? I’d like to know…
Saturday was a tough day. We said goodbye to a good friend, author Joyce Ward, who also wrote as Linnea Alexis. This was the message I shared on Saturday, and I wanted to share with all of you:
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Many of you know what I’m talking about, but for those who don’t, as writers, plotters are those who plan out their books in detail, and they know where the story is going long before they actually start to write. Pantsers, are those who take it as it comes, writing by the seat of their pants. And then there are I suspect many of us who are somewhere in the middle. We do some planning and some pantsing as we write. There’s no right or wrong way, it’s just the process that works best for us as authors to get the story on the page.
In life it’s much the same. Many are plotters, planning their life in detail. Where do you want to be in 5 years? In 10? What’s the best path to reach those goals. Others are pantsers, living life as it comes, waiting for the surprise plot twist. And most of us fall somewhere in the middle, because in life, a plot twist isn’t always something that we plan. Again, there’s no right or wrong.
Joyce Ward and I met when we were at similar places in our lives. Our kids were grown and we were both reaching for a dream we’d long waited to attain, being authors. We were new members of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America, and in a little bit of a plot twist, the first time we met we were sharing a hotel room for an author event. There were three of us sharing the hotel room that weekend, Joyce, Erin Pryor and me. All of us unpublished authors.
We were instant friends, talking about story plots, the speakers and what we hoped to learn and achieve in our new endeavors. After that weekend, Joyce and I roomed together at many writers events. It worked out well. We both snored, we coordinated our workshop schedules, and at night we would talk for hours about writing, but also about our families…she loved hers very much, about our pasts about our lives.
There were many times that Joyce called me and told me she was quitting, that she was a terrible writer and she was done. She wasn’t going to write another word, and I would remind her this was her dream, she couldn’t give up, and she had way too many ideas that needed to be put on paper.
The next time we spoke I’d be the one ready to walk away, stay home and bake cookies, and Joyce would be the friend at the other end of the line telling me I couldn’t give up.
In fact, Joyce was the reason that my first book was published. She had submitted to a boxed set publisher, and called me up to tell me I needed to submit as well. Her support, her belief in me pushed me to do what I wanted to do, but sometimes wasn’t sure that I could
Joyce worked tirelessly for our RWA chapter, chairing the Book Buyers Best Contest for many years. The contest is a lot of work, and at the time that Joyce started doing it, she had to collect piles of print books, store them in her home, sort them and mail them out to people, as well as recruiting all of the judges and collecting ballots. She was good at recruiting judges. I could never say ‘no’ to her!
My best memories of Joyce are of the conferences and events that we attended together. We shared a passion, we shared many of the same hopes and dreams. We could talk about our families, especially our children. I know how much Joyce appreciated that her children supported her dreams, and believed in her. We called each other with good news, or to commiserate. We were friends.
And then another plot twist, and here we are today. Saying goodbye for now.
I miss Joyce. I miss calling her when I want to throw in the towel. I miss her voice telling me not that I can’t stop writing. I miss planning our writing trips.
But Joyce will always be in our hearts, her books will keep her alive to everyone who reads them, and memories will keep her story going for all of us who loved her.
I’m sure that Joyce is in heaven right now, plotting and planning stories to share when we meet her again.
I love romance novels, Hallmark movies, candlelight dinners and flowers from my husband, and this is of course the week to pull out all of the stops, so that’s exactly what I’m doing.
My 2nd book #SilverBracelets, a romantic comedy that starts the day after Valentine’s and ends on St. Patrick’s Day, releases on Valentine’s Day. I’m so excited for the release that I’ll be having a two day party in my facebook reader group, Tari Lynn & Friends.
The story is set in my version of Hermosa Beach, and is about a school teacher who finds herself in a social media nightmare when a picture of her crashing a bicycle into a trash can goes viral. Benny Lopez, a cute police officer, seems to be behind the posts that are making her life miserable, and she wants nothing to do with him.
All Benny wants is a date with the cute school teacher, but she won’t talk to him. Until, he gets some great advice from his grandmother, and snaps on the handcuffs.
Between the bicycle accident and the handcuffs are a series of mishaps, false starts and incidents that bring friends… and maybe a guy and a girl together.
I’m having so much fun writing this series, I hope you’ll check it out. And stop by the party in Tari Lynn & Friends , Thursday, February 13th and Friday February 14th. I’ll have games, prizes and books. Did I mention chocolate?
The Amazon preorder price for #SilverBracelets is 99 cents. Get it at this special price for a limited time. Hope to see you at the party!
Then for the after party, Hunky Hubby and I are planning an evening just for two. We may even end up in Hermosa Beach. I’ll tell you all about it later…well, maybe not ALL about it…
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I know that New Year’s is barely over, but I’m already looking forward to Valentine’s. I walk through craft stores, department stores…even the grocery store, and love the red and pink lined aisles. I love the paper doilies, heart shaped boxes of chocolates (especially See’s Chocolates), and sentimental cards. I love planning a romantic evening, what I’ll wear, where we’ll go. Even after thirty years of marriage, Valentine’s is an important holiday to both me and Hunky Hubby. Yes, my gearhead, construction worker, sports loving husband, is a romantic.
So, this year in The Charmed Connection, our Charmed Writers Facebook reader group, we’re having a special celebration. We’re celebrating from February 1st through 16th with romance interviews from some of our very owned Charmed Writers.
Would you like to find out what authors find to be romantic? What would an author consider a romantic Valentine’s date? What would be on the menu? Who would be sitting on the other side of the table? How would the evening end? (This is on facebook, so it’ll have to be PG, LOL)
We have some wonderful authors participating in this event, and we hope you’ll join us!
And on Valentine’s Day I have a new book releasing, #SilverBracelets is Book 2 in my #HermosafortheHoliday series. Book 1, #PleaseSayYes is a Valentine’s story. If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll check it out (in fact, if you email me at email@example.com, I have 10 free ecopies to give away this month).
Book 2 begins the day after Valentine’s, and ends on St. Patrick’s Day. #SilverBracelets is available for preorder right now on Amazon for 99 cents. This price will go up after the book releases next month.
I hope you’ll join us in The Charmed Connection. Charmed Writers is made up of over 130 authors from NY Times and USAToday best-selling authors to new authors just beginning their journey. We work together, learn from each other, support each other…and share the results with you.
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