Technology. What?

I am the first to admit I am a late adapter to technology. I still used my portable tape player in 2001. I tried a CD player but they always skipped. In 2004 I was yanked into this century and bought the biggest, baddest, 3gig mp3 player I could find at the time.

I had a pager when everyone had a cell phone, and a flip-phone when everyone was getting smart phones. Five years ago I upgraded to a blackberry, then traded it in for an Android the last couple years. And while I fuss with texting, pictures, and social media applications, the whole ebook thing has been going on. So last year I forced myself to ‘get with the times’ and bought a Kindle Fire HD. And it has taken ma a year to really start using it. Mostly for ebooks and Youtube.

I have a love/hate relationship with the shift towards ebooks. It’s so much faster to thumb through a paperback looking for vocabulary and craft inspiration, but it’s awesome to have an entire bookshelf at my fingertips when traveling with the Kindle.

The dilemma I need to sort out is when to buy which format. I lean towards owning paperbacks since I use them as examples to learn craft, but as an aspiring author in an apartment I can’t possibly store everything I buy. Not to mention, there are so many low price deals online for e-versions.

I wish there was a way to buy a paperback and then exchange it for an ebook after I’ve read it.

How do you choose which format to buy? Do you stock up digital for vacations?

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Audiobooks = Reading ?

With my library fines paid off as of last week I am privileged to once again use my local library’s audiobook section. I have a long-weekend road trip coming up and need something for the drive. I just started listening to On the Way to the Wedding, by Julia Quinn.

Is there a difference between reading a book and listening to it? Can you “read” an audiobook?

I think there are several differences. Differences, I welcome. I do consider listening to an audiobook as reading. I hear the story whether it is the voice inside my head as I read or the narrator’s voice as is spoken. Either way it’s still a voice that transfers the written words to my consciousness.

Sometimes I prefer to listen to a book, like when stuck in a car for hours. It is easier to get pulled out of an audiobook. Listening takes skill if you are multi-tasking. I’m able to listen while walking or driving given the proper road conditions. One moment of splitting my attention between confusion at a crosswalk versus listening and I find myself having to rewind the audiobook. Which is a good thing, dealing with reality takes first priority, but sometimes I just sit on the couch and listen, even though I can read faster. It feels like a luxury to slow down and allow myself the time to listen.

Others tout that you can’t skim when listening, but I think skimming just manifests into tuning out. When I catch myself tuning out I assume one of two things. Either the book isn’t exciting enough to hold my attention, or I need to stop multi-tasking and pay attention. (Pick one activity!)
As a writer, visually reading helps grammar and spelling sink into my subconscious, but nothing beats listening when trying to absorb cadence and pronunciations.
And I cannot be the only person who is immensely comforted to know I’ll still get to experience stories even if my eyesight dims as I age.

What do you think? If you listen to an audiobook does it count as reading? Which do you prefer?

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Are You A Reader?

Growing up we learn how to judge things. I learned from my parent’s example that reading was a good thing. I learned in high school to buy book covers if I wanted to avoid being teased for my choice of book. I didn’t read romances back then, I was a fantasy/ paranormal reader, but I got the distinct impression that romance novels were things to be ashamed of.

Fast forward to now. I’ve probably devoured hundreds of romance novels in the last ten years and I’ve set my sights on making my living by writing them. Before e-readers existed I would hide my reads behind a Thomas Kincaid needlepoint book cover when I rode the bus to work, or while in the break room.  Then one day something changed. I don’t know what triggered it, but I was suddenly angry that some of my favorite books were clouded by shame in the eyes of the general public.

I left the book cover at home. I proudly held the book, scandalous lover cover facing out, and paraded down the bus isle to a set near the back from then on. I wanted people to see what I was reading. I felt free to be myself without a nagging voice telling me to hide my reading selection, a voice warning me that others would judge me poorly because I read bodice rippers and trashy romance.

The truth is I don’t view the romance novels I read as being bodice ripper or trashy romances. These books have taught me so many things that have nothing to do with sex. Romance novels are overflowing with lessons about love, relationships, understanding, forgiveness, and enduring hardships. This genre is so good that I have a hard time being sucked into the world of any other book that isn’t a romance novel.

What are your experiences? Are you trapped, or were you once trapped, in the same cultural shame?

Do you freely admit to your love of romance novels when at a party and someone outs you with an icebreaker saying you are an avid reader or bookworm?

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Coping with a flexible schedule

The countdown continues, 25 and a half weeks, to the Emerald City Conference. Only 6 weeks until the Opener contest deadline. I had my entry ready but I’ve tweaked it several times and last week I found a previous opening for the novel and decided to integrate it. So I’ve been splitting novel time between polishing the opening and pacing and transition edits for scenes further along.

In regard to my writing demon, last weekend I created a social media plan and it’s been going well. I was concerned it would take up too much time but I’ve found having this daily checklist has kept writing at the forefront as I go through the day. The balancing act is between my day-job, physical therapy at the gym, writing, and self imposed social obligations with family/friends. I tried to record how long it took to do each thing (Twitter, read book review blog, read author blogs, pinterest, my blog, etc).

The plan is to be professional about it. Since writing is a career I approach the checklist from the same mindset as when doing tasks at my day-job. Just do it, and get it done. This isn’t personal time to poke around. To keep my priorities straight I made a simple printout of the checklist. The difficult thing is to be flexible. Twitter can be super fast, but distracting if I keep checking it to see if anyone has tweeted back after I’ve replied to their tweet. And reading the  book review blog and the multi-author blog I chose easily leads to more than 30 minutes of reading the articles, comments and formulating my comment; not to mention extra time if I follow links. But those three make it so much easier to populate my pinterest page and post on my facebook page.


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Writing Demon

I’ve been thinking about my writing demon and started re-reading The Productive Writer, by Sage Cohen. I highly recommend this book. If you actually study and journal about it you’ll learn things about yourself. It helps shine a light on your goals and offers a path of action.

Beware, if you are not ready to clearly see how far you still have to go then you might want to hold off. I have no illusions about what it will take to reach my goals, and it isn’t a smooth, fast or easy path. I went through a serious case of re-thinking my goals. Of letting it all sink in and giving myself time to decide if I wanted to change my mind, to not be a writer. And after all that, I re-committed. I am a writer. I want to enjoy life as an author.

There have been starts and stops since then, as fully expected, and they still mess with me, but I have no doubts anymore. This is my path. It will just take longer if I let my writing demon keep hold of me. I’ve taken classes and read books about various strategies for structuring action plans to reach goals; it is time I leverage my knowledge and make a fresh one for myself. There are twenty-six weeks until the Emerald City Conference.

P.S. I cleaned the bathroom floor last night. 😦
P.P.S. I did not clean the bathtub. 🙂

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To-do lists: Writing VS Cleaning

My writing gets steam-rolled by cleaning. I start out honest enough. I make a to-do list and suddenly EVERYTHING needs to be done. And not only does it need to be done, but it must be done during the time I’ve slotted to work on the novel. I took a 2-day workshop on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People a few years ago, sponsored by my current employer, so I know I need to focus on getting the big rocks in, instead of all these endless pebbles.

Why, may I ask, does the bathroom floor matter right now? It’s been like that for weeks, what difference does it make if I let it go another day… another week?

When did pulling everything out from under my bed, so I can sort and organize what it is that’s down there, and then clean out all the dust bunnies and errant cat hair…. When did I agree to its importance level being more than working on the novel?  I certainly don’t think it is, but my compulsive behavior to prioritize thus proves I believe it.

Dear readers, I have bored to the core of a mountainous procrastination writers block. Its not a writers block based on creative burn-out, no, this sort of block is more insidious. The great time-suck. I have found my demon.



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Emerald City – Contest and Conference

I was moving my laptop from the tv screen hook-up to my desk monitor hook-up. I’d just gotten home from work and hadn’t turned on the lights so it was dark. It’s something I do fairly often. My pc tower died and I haven’t replaced it. My laptop is the only computer I have right now. I have back-up files elsewhere, but having only one makes me a little nervous when I’m moving it around so often.

I discovered the Colorado Romance Writers 2014 Online Workshops webpage and signed up for an online course about craft. It’s four weeks, starting April 7th. At first I wasn’t sure if I should take a workshop right now since I’m getting ready to submit to the Emerald City Opener contest and attend their subsequent Fall conference.

I have a few people critiquing my entry before I submit. Depending on their comments I may do another round of tweaking. It will never be perfect, but I’ll be glad if they catch any eyesores I missed. It’s hard to pass up the chance to pitch at a conference, so I am transitioning between letting go of that entry and ramping up focus on filling scene gaps and polishing content for the Conference, in hopes that I’ll be ready if I’m asked for a full or partial.

The Emerald City Conference is October 17-19, 2014 and I plan to attend. I’ve set a deadline to finish the manuscript by October 15, which is six and a half months, or twenty-eight weeks. I haven’t outlined the time frame any more then that yet.

On my couch-to-5k interval run today an idea popped into my head. When I’m making plenty of money I could get a tax break by donating to charities and giving inheritance gifts to people I know. I could even start my own scholarship program. Example: Offer the first place of a Chapter contest historical genre to win paid tuition for a writing workshop, including airfare, transportation and a meal stipend. Maybe for a Margie Lawson workshop.

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