I wasn’t sure what to title this post. It’s not something dedicated to a particular topic, except my rambling about working. I recently listened to a couple of podcasts where Dean Wesley Smith was interviewed, and he’s right that writing isn’t work. It is play. But I have to tell the people in my life that I’m working or else they won’t give me time to write. Anyone who’s ever worked at home knows that people assume you aren’t doing anything because you’re home. It’s not like you go out, clock in at an office, and leave at a certain time. People who work at home don’t have set hours, and because of that, it’s harder to convince others that you can’t drop everything to do whatever they want.
Over the course of ten years of seriously writing books, I’ve come to learn that 95% of the time, the stuff the people in my life interrupt me about are distractions. Such distractions include, but are not limited to, talking about something they saw on TV/read in an article, wanting you to check some You Tube video, or venting about something that happened to them. These are all things that can wait until you’re done, but because you are home, you’re not “busy”, and since you’re not “busy”, you have all the time in the world to listen to them. Talking to people who also work at home, I’ve learned they go through similar distractions. And it makes doing the tasks on our list harder to accomplish in any given day. Add kids to the mix, and it’s twice as hard because kids don’t understand time management.
This week has been like pulling teeth to get anything done. My kids are off school, and every fifteen minutes, someone in my house is interrupting me. It’s been insane. I’d say over half the interruptions have to do with some fight one of the kids is having with his brother. (I have four sons, and since one is deaf, there are A LOT of misunderstandings in this house. Most of my time is clearing up those misunderstandings.) I often think that if I were a standup comedian, my platform would be “Kidtastrophes” because every little thing is a huge thing around here. Trust me, there is a lot of humor in the kinds of things kids complain about. But since I hate public speaking, I am never going to run those standup routines that periodically go through my mind during the day.
I already knew going into this Christmas break that I wouldn’t get any writing done, so I have put all of my romances on hold. But I like to stay busy. I can’t just sit and watch the TV. I need something to do or else I’ll go crazy. It’s too cold to go for walks. Across the US, it sounds like a lot of states are getting record lows. (Montana is having its share of the cold weather, along with snow.) So I have to stay inside.
I decided to work on a pet writing project. I’m in the process of editing an old Young Adult Fantasy trilogy that I wrote back in 2004. Yeah, that long ago. And I can tell you that my writing has changed a lot since then. I thought this was going to be an easy edit. It’s turned into a lot of rewrites and massive edits. I’m halfway into Book 2. The reason I’m making as much progress as I am is because each book is novella.
Anyway, the other day I did the covers for this trilogy while on the phone with my good friend, Janet Nitsick. (I can’t just sit and talk on the phone, either. I need to do something while on the phone, so I did the covers. Graphics are easy to work with while I’m talking on the phone since they don’t require a lot of attention.) So the covers are done, and while I’m not sure they will appeal to the YA fantasy crowd, they appeal to me so I’m using them. I did do my research, and I think it’s a doable compromise since some YA fantasy fit that look.
About once or twice a year, I allow myself a pet writing project to work on. I find doing these projects help me stay fresh and creative. I guess taking a break from romance helps me to fill up my creative tank in the romance genre. This is probably why I love reading outside the romance genre. Romance is, and always will be, my first love, but I enjoy other genres, too. Ironically, I read more nonfiction than fiction in my spare time. Most of it does have to do with my Christian faith (I read the Bible regularly). I also read books on the proper management of money (because I’m not good with this area of my life), and I read books on writing and book promotion, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone reading this post. I used to read a ton of fiction, but once I really got into writing, that dropped significantly. I guess it’s my mind’s way of trying to find a good balance. I can’t just focus on one thing. I need to have a couple of things going on at any one time. So writing fiction and reading nonfiction gives me a balance.
I’m not going to put this pet project under Ruth Ann Nordin. I’ve done a couple of pet projects under that name, and I think it only adds to people’s confusion because I’m a romance writer. So for this pet project, I’m going to go with a pen name. I have one clean contemporary romance under Barbara Joan Russell, and I haven’t done anything with it since. I’ve decided to give that pen name this pet project. I have a couple more stories that I wrote back in 2005-2007 that I’ll be editing, and I’ll put those under the pen name. I figure this will take a couple of years. These stories were originally published with the vanity presses. This was before Amazon and Smashwords came along to change the way authors published their stuff. That was a huge game changer in the publishing industry. Other publishing platforms (Kobo Writing Life, Nook Press, Draft 2 Digital, iBooks, etc) have come along since then, but Amazon and Smashwords were the original places to publish ebooks that made it easy to get books into the world.
From time to time, I get asked, “Do you get an editor?” Yes. I do for every single one of my books. The pet projects are no different. I’ve already hired two editors to work on the trilogy I’m currently working through. By this time next week, I plan to be done with my initial edits of the trilogy. Then the editors will go through them. That will free me up to return to working on romances again.
Tomorrow, Married In Haste is coming out, but I’m going to delay the blog post announcing its release until Monday. I’m currently busy on this pet project, so all I can do tomorrow is send out the email with the special epilogue to those of you on my email list. I’ll also post the special epilogue to those of you in the private Facebook group I share with Janet Nitsick.
One of the keys to balancing all of the stuff on my To Do List is to dedicate one or two non-writing things to do each day. If I try to do everything in one day, I’d go crazy. This is also why I can take a while to get to people on Facebook and in the emails. I’m not ignoring anyone. I’m just wading through everything I have to get done. I don’t have a personal assistant. I do it myself. I know some authors have assistants, but I like doing things on my own. Except for editing, book covers, and taxes. On those three things, I do contract out. (Sometimes I also hire out for book descriptions if I can’t figure out what to put down.)
So yeah… I never have a dull moment in my neck of the woods. 🙂