Do You Need a Vacation?

So last week, I mentioned that I’ve been dealing with a lot of fatigue, and this has impacted how much writing (and other stuff) I get done. Catching a nasty cold that’s been going around added to it (that’s better now, thanks), but it had been building for several months.

Lately, part of the problem has been that I do not sleep well at night.

I don’t know why–I don’t lead a particularly stressful life. My day job is not stressful. I do work I like, and work with and for nice people who never demand anything unreasonable (I have in past jobs, so believe me, I appreciate this). I don’t have any problems at home, and my family is all well, for the most part.

Actually, I have always been a light sleeper. I’ve never been able to take naps unless I’m sick or have an exceptionally bad migraine. I got kicked out of preschool because I wouldn’t take a nap (hey, I wasn’t sleepy–and what three-year-old wants to lie there and stare at the ceiling?). But lately it’s been a lot worse.

Hotel cat

Our hotel in Puerto Rico had a guard cat!

So when we went to Puerto Rico a couple weeks ago, I was really, really hoping I’d finally get more than 3-4 hours of sleep at night.

It worked. Our hotel room had a wonderful bed–firm, but not hard–and boy, did I sleep. We had a great time otherwise too–did some sightseeing, but also plenty of relaxing. The weather was wonderful–mid-eighties with constant breezes and not humid, and our hotel had lovely little terraces all over–plenty of places to relax and take it easy outside in both sun and shade.

I think what really worked for me though, was getting away from the to-do list, email, worrying about writing, and all the minutiae of everyday life for a while. I did not check email while we were away, even though I could have. I took my netbook, but without expectations of writing (and got some done on the plane!). I did not get on any social media (still haven’t, other than blogs). And I’ve continued to sleep better since returning home. I’m still tired all the time, but it doesn’t seem quite as bad.

So what am I doing to try and maintain that vacation mindset? Here’s what seems to be working for me:

  1. Limit the to-do list to one thing on weekday evenings, two or three things on the weekend.
  2. If the item on the list absolutely must be done that day, do it, but otherwise, if I am too tired, don’t worry about it.
  3. Don’t worry about workouts for now. Once I kick this fatigue, I can get back into a routine.
  4. Write when and if I feel like it. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t espouse this, as it’s not professional or a good way to actually, you know, finish something, but I think pressuring myself was part of my insomnia problem. I can get back into a routine once I deal with the fatigue.
  5. Get off the computer one hour before bedtime (I tried this before vacation and it didn’t seem to help, but it’s not hurting, so….)
  6. Take multivitamins and supplements to make sure nutritional requirements are being met. I’ve been reading up on this, and my doctor of course approved.

It has been years since we went on a real vacation like this. My husband and I decided not to wait so long for the next one. And no, a “staycation” (I hate that word) is not the same–you still have all the stuff that needs doing at home, staring you in the face. There is something about getting away–it needn’t be a big expensive trip, but IMO you do need to get far enough away from work and home and all the stuff that needs attending to there to get into the vacation mindset of not worrying about it. And for heaven’s sake, don’t take work with you unless it’s fun work (like writing) and you don’t pressure yourself to actually do it unless you truly want to.

Which brings up an important point. I see this in people at work–you know, there is always someone who never takes time off, who is always there, often putting in extra time. Some companies will let them do this, but others will make them take time off after a certain amount of time has passed/vacation time accrued. That’s because good managers know that even though someone might love their job and not feel like they’re courting burnout, everyone needs to occasionally take a break. While I did take my vacation time from my day job, I’d been spending it at home, doing stuff there, and it had been almost three years since I got away at all. I think that finally caught up with me. It’s not all that’s behind my fatigue, but it’s definitely part of it.

And as promised last week, here are a few more photos from Puerto Rico:

We toured the Bacardi distillery, where you can get this commemorative photo.

We toured the Bacardi distillery, where you can get this commemorative photo.

 

We went into the rain forest one day to see the world's largest radio telescope. You may recognize it from James Bond!

We went into the rain forest one day to see the world’s largest radio telescope. You may recognize it from James Bond!

 

The beach was about a block from our hotel.

The beach was about a block from our hotel.

ROW80Logo175As for ROW80, my goal last week was to focus on being kind to myself. I did pretty well, and even got a little writing done, so that’s a win. This week, I want to continue that, but I also want to at least touch the writing five times, without pushing myself to do a lot. Sometimes just opening the file is all it takes to get going. So we’ll see how that goes.

What about you–do you have trouble making yourself take a break? Do you pressure yourself too much? Do you ever need to just step away from the to-do list? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Four Things About My Writing, and ROW80 Round 2

Sheri McGathy tagged me in this fun blog hop where we post the answers to four questions about our writing. Visit Sheri’s blog to read about her current WIP, a ghost story. Thanks, Sheri!

And now, my questions and answers:

1. What are you working on?
I actually have three works in progress right now, all in the Saturn Society universe. One is the third novel of the series, Time’s Guardian. The second is Part Two of Time’s Tempest, the serialized novel that started with “The Storm” in the Love’s a Beach anthology. The third, where I’ve been concentrating most of my energies at the moment, is a long novella or short novel (it keeps growing) called Time’s Best Friend, which is an interim story about a secondary character from the novel Time’s Fugitive. Here’s the blurb as it currently stands:

During the height of WWII, a time-traveling farm woman braves the eighteenth-century Tennessee frontier to search for the explorer she loves, only to find her historic home occupied by Nazi soldiers, and her only friend a dog who just might be their spy.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Most time travel romance, particularly that from big publishers, seems to be set in medieval Scotland or England, and mostly focuses on the relationship between a modern American woman and a hunky Highlander or knight. While I’ve read and enjoyed plenty of those books, mine tend to focus as much on “what if I change something”and all its consequences as on the relationship, and take place in North America, where I find plenty of fascinating history much closer to my own backyard. No knights or lairds–my books are about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, and feature hunky American guys. :D

3. Why do I write what I do?

Time travel, and all its possibilities, from the paradoxical to the chance to right something that went wrong, to the very real potential of making something even worse, has always fascinated me. I like to throw my characters into impossible situations and then see them scrape their way out of them.

4. How does your writing process work?
Once I’ve mulled an idea around for a bit and done a little preliminary research, I write “the sentence” that becomes the short blurb, as above. Then I write out everything I know about the story, and figure out what all could happen in the beginning, the middle, and the end, and sketch out a rough outline. (I use the notecards in WriteWay Pro for this). Then I write the rough draft from that. I deviate from the outline whenever something better occurs to me, noting changes needed in the ms as I go, along  with any additional research needed. Invariably an idea occurs to me about 3/4 through the first draft that will make me change a lot in what I’ve already written, but it will make the story a lot better, so I note it, and keep writing as if I’ve already made the change until I power through to the end. Then I revise based on my notes, then hand off to the beta readers. And yes, the big change idea for this story hit me last week.  :-?

Occasionally I’ll get an idea for a story and just sit down and write it. This mainly works for short stories, and was how I wrote Time’s Tempest: “The Storm.” But often when I try this, I run out of steam, and have to go back and do some planning.  That’s where I’m at with part two of Tempest.


So there’s your little glimpse inside my brain. Not that exciting, I know LOL. I also get to pass this on and tag some other lucky writer whose work I’d like to know more about. And that writer is Stacy McKitrick! Stacy is buried under deadlines right now, so if she doesn’t have time to play, we understand (but hope she will)! Here’s a little bit about Stacy:

Stacy McKitrick fell in love with paranormal romance, decided to write her own in 2009 and found her passion in life. She used to work in accounting, now she spends her time with vampires, ghosts, and aliens. Born in California, she currently resides in Ohio with her husband. They have two grown children.


ROW80Logo175And now it’s time for ROW80, the second round of which starts today. I have been dealing a bit with some health issues, and this seems to be ongoing, so I’m going to make just one very, very simple goal for this round: finish Time’s Best Friend.

This goes in line with ROW80 founder Kait Nolan’s wonderful post for today on the ROW80 blog, with an emphasis to remember to be kind to ourselves. Seriously, go read that post–even if you’re not participating in ROW80, or not even a writer, it’s worth it. Go on, I’ll wait. Back? Good. Okay, I’m grateful that depression is not what’s plaguing me–in my case, it’s more of an intense, sometimes debilitating fatigue, yet oddly, accompanied by an awful bout of insomnia. I believe the cause is the same: too much go-go-go and not enough being kind to ourselves.

I have seen my doctor, and she found one possible cause: Vitamin D deficiency. Given the winter we’ve had in most of the U.S., I can’t say I’m surprised. And yes, fatigue is one symptom thereof. I’m on high-potency prescription vitamins to get that set to rights, but my doc tells me it could be 6-8 weeks before I notice any difference. Then to top it all off, I caught either a mild flu or nasty cold a couple weeks ago, right before my DH and I were set to leave on our 20th-anniversary celebratory vacation.

Sick or no, our vacation was much-needed and wonderful (Puerto Rico). Not only was the island beautiful, sunny, and warm, I also got some fantastic sleep. Even better, I found that on an airplane is a great place to write! I’ll post some pics and blog more about that next week.

So this week I’m going focus on continuing to be kind to myself, not sweat every little thing like I’d been doing, and–I hope–continue to sleep decently at night while kicking the rest of this cold. If I get any writing done, that will be a bonus. But I had great fun writing on the plane, so I suspect I will.

What about you–do you have trouble being kind to yourself? Are you too much g0-go-go, and is it making you tired? Or do you maybe just need a vacation? What did you think of my four Q&As–did any of that surprise you? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

How Do You Do it All?

It always surprises me when I get comments here on the blog that say, wow, you do so much! Because I don’t feel like I do.

Sometimes the answer is “slowly.” Sometimes, the answer is, “I don’t.”

Sure, I have a full time job. I write, I design book covers and format books, I occasionally do side work in web design/development for friends and relatives. I occasionally take writing workshops. I have a family, although my daughter is now in college, so it’s just me and DH. And DH is semi-retired, so he does a lot of things like grocery shopping, cleaning (sort of), and shares in the cooking. That helps a LOT.

I didn’t always have it this good. My husband used to own another business–a bar–and that was a 70+ hours a week job, so he wan’t home much. We had a cleaning lady come in twice a week, and DH mowed the lawn and did the outside work but I did everything else in the house. When our daughter got to be older, she grew interested in cooking, so she helped with that sometimes, and when she didn’t, it was her job to clean up after dinner, unless she had tons of homework (then I did it). The writing happened slowly then, and sometimes not at all. I also wasn’t doing book covers and formatting then, either.

So that’s where “slowly” comes in. Lately, I can do one thing after dinner on weeknights, and lately I’ve tried to make that be writing. I do the other stuff on the weekends. So when I have other things going on during the weekend, the other stuff often doesn’t get done. Same with writing–if I have something else I have to do that night (paperwork, for instance), the writing usually doesn’t happen. It’s just something I’m learning to accept.

ROW80Logo175Which brings me around to this week’s ROW80 goals. I had other things going on this week, one of which was to spend an evening playing trivia with friends. Formatting the interior of a print book is a big job, if you take the time to really do it up nice, so that took up a couple of evenings, too, as I was determined to get it done this week, and knew I’d need Saturday to do the cover. So I only got 2,000 words written. Not what I wanted, but better than zero, yes? I didn’t manage to get much fitness in, either. But the print book did get done, and is now out with the client/friend for proofing and approval.

I have things going on for the weekend, so this week, I’m going to cut back a bit:

  • Writing: 2500 words
  • Fitness: 3x
  • Other: Print book changes as needed, make last small changes on website that was finished last week

What about you–do you sometimes have to step back and reassess your limits? If so, what did you learn? And whether or not you’re a writer and/or are doing ROW80, how did you do on whatever you wanted to accomplish this week? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Should we Abolish Daylight Savings Time?

SunriseTwice a year it happens, and throws off my day–no, several, if not a whole week–every time. My friend Jim Winter complains about it at least once, usually twice a year. This year, he calls it “Winter’s Final Screw You,” and has at other times referred to it as the “crappiest time of the year” and his “least favorite time of year.”

I have to admit, I agree. It’s basically jet-lag without going anywhere, and the older I get, the more it throws me off. Some people think it’s cool to get that extra hour in the fall (usually when they are at a bar at a Halloween party), but for me, it usually is just taken up in adjustment time. Or at the very least, an extra hour to sleep in without feeling like so much of a slug. But then the days that are already getting short seem that much shorter when sunset comes an hour earlier.

The springtime spring forward is even worse. I have enough trouble getting to sleep at night that I can’t just go to bed an hour earlier and get anything out of it. But I still have to get up an hour earlier the next day.

Of the two, I hate the switch to Standard Time in the winter more, because of that whole short day getting shorter thing. Even the government has figured out that it’s not such a good thing–we use more energy when daylight fades sooner, which is why we fall back later now than we did a few years ago, and spring forward sooner. Daylight Savings Time really does save.

OTOH, it is that much harder to get up early when it’s still dark, and the switch to Standard Time means I have to do that for only about a month. Also, I don’t like the idea of kids having to walk to school or wait for the bus in the dark any more than most parents do, so minimizing that is a good thing.

Jim’s post says there’s a movement afoot to abolish time change. I can’t say I’d be sad if that happened. Given the above, I’m not sure if that’s a solution. Neither way gives me any extra hours in the day–which is what I’d really like.

ROW80Logo175Which brings me around to my ROW80 update. I don’t know where the week went, but not much of it went to writing. I only got about 1500 words written, when I wanted to get 3500. I did get the website done, which was partially spurred by the fact that last week, I said, “this time for sure!” So that’s a win. Fitness was again, halfway there. But with the website done, I do get to move on to something else this week, which is a good thing. :) Also, because my friend has been more than patient with me and I’m glad to finally have it taken care of for her. I might have a few more tweaks to do after she looks it over, but otherwise, I’m moving on to the next thing on the list. Here goes for this week:

  • 3500 new words
  • Tie up any loose ends on website and format print book for friend
  • Fitness 3-4x

What about you–do you like time change, or do you think we should just abolish it altogether? Which one do you find harder to deal with, fall back or spring forward? And whether or not you’re a writer or participating in ROW80, how did you do on whatever goals you had this week? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Read an E-book Week, and What to do with a Dead Kindle?

girlreadingToday marks the start of Read an Ebook Week, an annual promotion from Smashwords wherein thousands of independent authors and publishers offer ebooks at fantastic discounts. Mythical Press is participating too, and has all my books on sale. Haven’t tried the Saturn Society series yet? It’s a great time to change that–Time’s Enemy, Book 1, is on sale for 75% off. The anthology Love’s a Beach, which includes my newest installment, a short story called “Time’s Tempest” featuring new characters, is also on sale for 50% off, and has some great reads from Stacy McKitrick and four of my other writing friends. Just click the image above to go to Smashwords.

Ironically, just in time for Read an Ebook Week, my Kindle decided to die on me. It had been getting slower and occasionally would display an error message when I opened a book. If I tapped OK, the error message would disappear and it worked fine. Then searches for words I knew were in the book would turn up nothing, and a couple days ago, it started saying books were “no longer available” when I’d just purchased them from Amazon. A quick search revealed that my Kindle probably just needed a reboot, so I tried that. But my Kindle did not reboot–or rather, it tried for several minutes, than eventually just crapped out:

IMG_20140302_153710250

I was not optimistic about contacting Amazon, because you see, I got this Kindle for Christmas–last year.

Which means it’s about two months out of warranty.

But all I found in the searches was either “Duh, contact Amazon, they’ll replace it” (usually in response to someone with a relatively new Kindle) or “It’s bricked” (often in response to someone who tried to root, or hack, their Kindle). Nothing about anything else that could be done if it was out of warranty, even in a case like mine where I’d not so much as dropped it.

So I got on an online chat with them. I didn’t really expect them to offer to repair or replace it except for a fee, but mainly contacted them in the small chance there was something else I might try to resuscitate the Kindle. Sure enough, the customer service rep said it was out of warranty, and would I like him to go over some options for a “deeply discounted replacement or upgrade?”

Not acceptable. Why would I want to pay for another Kindle when this one failed two months after the warranty expired? I told him that and added, “I am very unhappy with this. I haven’t even dropped it, it just quit working,” expecting to get a “sorry, company policy” response. But the rep said, “please wait while I talk to my manager.”

He came back and said they’d make an exception, and replace it for free! I guess it never hurts to let them know what you think (politely, of course) and be persistent. The new one is supposed to arrive tomorrow.

ROW80Logo175Luckily, that didn’t cut into my writing time too much yesterday, and I got my 3,500 words in for the week. Wow, is this novella turning out to be longer than I expected! I thought it was going to be a longish short story at first, maybe 10,000 words, but then it kept going. I’m now over 20,000 words and only a little more than halfway through my outline. That’s okay, it needs to be as long as it needs to be. I suspect I’ll do some cutting on revision, too.

I didn’t do so well with the fitness, though I got a couple of very short workouts in. I am almost done with the website–hope to finish that today–so I still consider it a good week.

Next week, the same: 3500 words, finish the website (this time, for sure!), and get 3 or 4 activity sessions in. I have a print book to format too, so I’ll toss get started on that in as a bonus.

What about you–planning to read any ebooks this week, whether from Smashwords or elsewhere? Have any surprising customer service experiences to share, good or bad? And whether or not you’re participating in ROW80, how did you do on whatever goals you might have? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Jim Winter and the Power of Bartering

Yes, it’s ROW80 check in day, but first, . I have a special treat for my blog readers. My friend Jim Winter is here today to share one way an indie writer can put out a professional product in today’s publishing world without breaking the bank–something I was glad to help him with! And now, heeeeerrrreee’s Jim….


Compleat Winter

Jim’s newest release, in which he’s taken a stab at doing his own cover art

With publishing changing around us, authors are learning they have to do more for themselves. But covers are expensive and not easily done. Editing moreso. The average editor will charge around $900 for a 90,000-word manuscript. What’s the broke author to do?

Barter is your friend. You likely have skills another writer needs. They have skills you need. For instance, many of us are not artists. I know I’m trying. I’m getting better at using GIMP, an open-source alternative to Photoshop. But until I can do more than one cover, I need to have someone else do our covers.

That is where our lovely hostess Jennette has stepped in. Jennette needs something every writer needs: Editing. Never edit yourself. (That’s not to say don’t do revisions. You should do some clean-up before letting anyone see your work.) At the very least, a beta. If you understand story structure, genre, and, most importantly, grammar, you can do this for other writers. It’s a skill every writer should learn anyway if they want to improve their craft.

Jen needs a beta read for her current works in progress. I needed to replace the covers I made for my Nick Kepler series. They were… okay. Unfortunately, when I decided to release them in print, the city skyline pixilated. Jennette and I went back and forth on cover ideas for Bad Religion and came up with something that changed the entire branding of the series. Now all the covers have a similar look and feel. What did I pay her?

Compleat KeplerI’m to take a red pen to some of her work. The only money exchanged was for licensing fees on the cover photos.

Barter is not perfect, though. You have to have something to trade the other writer. You need to pick someone who can do what you need them to do, and vice versa. Not everyone can edit or format a book or make impressive covers. Choose carefully. This is your business, whether you think of it that way or not.

One benefit of barter is that, if you do something enough for other people and get really good at it, you have a new line of business. Many editors and cover artists I know started out this way.

Embrace barter. It’s an important tool for the independent writer.

Northcoast Shakedown    Secondhand Goods    Bad Religion

About Jim: Born near Cleveland in 1966, Jim Winter had a vivid imagination – maybe too vivid for his own good – that he spun into a career as a writer. He is the author of Northcoast Shakedown, a tale of sex, lies, and insurance fraud – and Road Rules, an absurd heist story involving a stolen holy relic. Jim now lives in Cincinnati with his wife Nita and stepson AJ. To keep the lights on, he is a web developer and network administrator by day. Visit him at http://www.jamesrwinter.net, like Jim Winter Fiction on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter @authorjimwinter.


Jennette says: The original covers on Jim’s Nick Kepler books were not serving his books well. Covers need to not only draw attention in a crowded marketplace, they also need to communicate genre and the overall tone of the book, which the original covers did not do. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in graphic design and worked in that field for over ten years before transitioning into software, but even someone without that kind of experience can pick up some design skills with practice, some trial and error, and possibly some training. I’ve heard good things about Dean Wesley Smith‘s online workshop on cover design from authors who’ve taken it. Jim is definitely getting better with practice, as The Compleat Winter cover shows, and I’ve no doubt he’ll continue to improve.

On the other hand, not everyone has the inclination or the interest to take on the learning curve that designing a good book cover entails, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Much better to pay someone–or barter!–and give your book the best chance possible in an increasingly difficult market.

Jim has a new release out–The Compleat Winter, a collection of crime fiction short stories, available at AmazonBarnes & Noble and other online retailers in both ebook and print. His Nick Kepler series and short story collection, and other works are available there as well. His books are action-packed and entertaining with a good dash of humor, so if you like crime fiction, check them out.

ROW80Logo175As for my ROW80 update, I wrote 4000 words on the WIP this week, so that’s a win! Didn’t hit the fitness or the website project, but I made good progress on the latter.

What about you–if you’re an indie author, do you design your own covers? I do my own–for my publisher. :) Whether or not you’re a writer, have you ever bartered skills you’re good at for ones you’re not? Got questions about Jim and my bartering process? (Just an FYI–I’m booked for at least the next year). If you’re participating in ROW80, we’re about halfway through the round–how are you doing? Please share–I’d love to hear from you! And if you have questions for Jim, I’m sure he’ll be happy to pop in and answer.

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Some Weeks are Just a Bust

I did not make any of my goals this week. I could blame it on a lot of things–unexpected happenings, more commitments than usual, poor planning, not feeling well, but despite all of that I could have still met the goals. But still, it wasn’t a bad week.

I knew I had things going on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon, which are a couple of my prime times for writing. But my husband was also out of town this week, so I’d expected to be able to make up for those earlier in the week.

That just didn’t happen. It started out being another tired week (and also headachey). Not whining, just sayin’. Thursday was a lot of fun–I participated on a panel at the library about romance novels, with writing friends Stacy McKitrick, Athena Grayson, Catherine Castle, CD Hersh, and Jessica Lemmon, which was a lot of fun. Several of us went to dinner afterward, where I met a new writing friend from my community, and that was great fun too, as hanging out with other writers always is.

ROW80Logo175I did some of the same Saturday, when I went to Cincinnati and met up with Jim Winter for a beer and a bite to eat, and more writing talk. Always a good time.

I’d still hoped to catch up on my writing after I got back, but that didn’t happen. Not sure why, just couldn’t get into it. I think I just need to skip some boring and unnecessary details and get to the next part where the bad guys come in. I have some friends from Columbus visiting today, but am off work tomorrow, so I’m going to push on that then.

Of course, due to the same things, not much got done on the website project, nor did my fitness get done. I did get some work done on the website last Sunday, and got 2700 words total on my writing throughout the week, so it wasn’t a total bust–just didn’t meet any of my goals all the way. This is one of those times where I have to remind myself that it’s a new week, and a new chance to meet your goals. Don’t try to catch up, just jump in where you are.

So next week’s goals will be the same: 3500 words on the WIP, 3-4x fitness, and finish that website project.

On another note, Love’s a Beach is now out in print! It’s available in both print and ebook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and in ebook at iTunes and Smashwords.

What about you–do you have weeks where you just can’t get it all done, for whatever reason? What do you do to get back in the groove? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Weekly Patterns and Efficiency

The writing went well again this week, and like last week, it all got done in the latter half of the week.

I know some people are “binge” writers, who can go for weeks or months without writing, then fly in and write 30,000 words in a weekend. Those people amaze me. I work more of a steady pace, as my numbers and goals show. The current goal is set to encourage me to do 500 words/day, or skip a couple days and do 1000 on the weekend days, which is usually what happens.

file7631292337511Of course, I have more time on the weekends, not having to go to the day job. But I manage to write over 1,000 words on weeknights during NaNoWriMo, and did this Thursday and Friday, too. The only why I can figure for that is that I tend to bunch other tasks into the early part of the week, namely paperwork. My husband and I own three businesses (rental properties, and my writing), so I save up all that paperwork plus any personal bill-paying throughout the week and do it all on Monday night. Sometimes I don’t get through it all, especially now that I’m also collecting tax stuff for the accountant, so that spills over into Tuesday. It is just more efficient to collect it and deal with a bunch at once, rather than handle it each day as it comes in, which I used to do.

I’d like to get some writing done those days, too, even if it’s only a couple hundred words, but it never seems to work that way. But I don’t have much paperwork piled up this week (first week of the month is always the most), so maybe it will work this time.

ROW80Logo175So here’s a recap of last week’s goals:

  • 3500 words – Done!
  • Finish one web development project – Done!
  • Fitness 3-4x – uhhhh, maybe once.

Can’t hit ‘em all, right? I did have a couple of tired days in there, and a couple of headachey ones, so the fitness just didn’t get in. But it’s a new week, right? We’ll stick with the same writing goal, since it’s working. I have another website project, and I’d like to finish that, so we’ll add it in there too. And try again on the fitness.

What about you–are you more productive toward the end or beginning of the week, or does it even out for you? Do you binge on projects, whether it’s writing or something else, or are you more of a steady-as-she-goes? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

 

Love’s a Beach is Out!

Love's a Beach coverI did fairly well on my goals this week, one of which was to proofread and finish the formatting of the anthology. Well, I finished that a few days ago, and the publisher already has the ebook up! It features eight “beach reads” stories by five of my friends and me, plus some poetry. Here’s the info:

Warm up your winter-or any season-with this anthology of stories of springtime and summer love by members of the Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America. From heartwarming to mysterious, comical to suspenseful, these romantic tales show that there really is someone for everyone. Whether it happens today or a hundred years ago, from the Atlantic shore to the American West coast, there’s something magical about the finding love when the warm breezes blow.

In “Tupelo Honey” by Ann Gregory, Raul and Desdemona aren’t young, and they don’t have stars in their eyes. They’ve both loved and lost. But maybe hot tea and warm milk sweetened with tupelo honey can reawaken their hearts.

Will riding the Ferris wheel be worse than admitting her fear? Violet must decide when the love of her life invites her along in “The Ferris Wheel” by Stacy McKitrick.

Hunger was no game to exhausted off duty marshal Hennesey James. All he wanted was to sink his teeth into something hot, juicy and fried. Instead he got a heaping platter of attitude from a waitress with a piece de resistance all her own in “Swizzle Stick” by Sandy Pennington.

In “The Wish” by Stacy McKitrick, Paige makes several wishes on her fortieth birthday and they all include office hunk Mike. But will she be adventurous enough to see if any of them can come true?

In “Titanic Love” by Linda Chalk, Stefan’s seemingly endless wait to be reunited with his family is prolonged when news of Titanic’s sinking reaches America. Is it love or madness that keeps him at the pier waiting for news?

Carmen is fed up with Harry, and decides to kill him, in front of witnesses. And she gets away with it! Find out how in “The Death of Harry” by Ann Gregory.

A disgruntled cop battles his urge for the cigarettes he quit, and his attraction for the hot new partner he doesn’t want, while he investigates a school ice cream theft. Then he finds there’s more to the crime than he thought—and more to his partner, too, in “Sam, Kate, and the Lunch Lady’s Secret” by Dakota James.

In “Time’s Tempest: The Storm” by Jennette Marie Powell, a headstrong handyman takes his first trip back in time in search of his own past. Instead, he winds up in the storm of the century, on the run from a madman from the future, with a woman he doesn’t remember meeting—or falling in love with.

It’s currently available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, with other retailers coming soon. The publisher says they’re waiting for print proofs, and the print version should be out within the next week or so–just in time for the Valentine’s Day program Stacy McKitrick and I are participating in at the Dayton Metro Library.

I always forget how long that stuff takes, so I had to really push to meet my writing goal, especially since I upped it. I ended up doing only 1000 words Sunday-Friday, and wrote the other 2,500 yesterday. But I got them done! Fitness, I got a couple workouts in. Not to meet my goal, but something. I have done a little better getting to bed at a decent time this past week, so haven’t been quite as tired, and that helped too.

ROW80Logo175The formatting and proofing work has pushed a bunch of other stuff aside, too–namely, a couple of small web development projects, a cover design for a my first reader.

So for this week, I’m sticking with the same writing goal, and adding in one of those that got pushed off:

  • 3500 words
  • Finish one web development project
  • Fitness 3-4x

What about you–do you forget how long things take, and then have to push everything else aside? How does that work out for you? I have to admit, it doesn’t always work out so well for me! Whether or not you’re participating in ROW80, have you knocked any big tasks off your to-do list? How are you doing on what’s still there? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Sleep and Creativity

So after giving my recent bout of the blahs some more thought an analysis, I think I’ve figured out the primary cause: not enough sleep.

My dog Evita is a champion napper

My dog Evita is a champion napper

Now, this should be a no-brainer to a lot of people, but it wasn’t to me. I’ve always had trouble sleeping, even when I was a kid, so not getting enough sleep is nothing new. I also believe that each of us has our own optimal sleep-wake cycles, hence why we have “morning people” and “night owls”.  The traditional 8-5 work world, of which I’m a part, definitely is more suited to morning people, which I am definitely not. So there’s part of my problem: my body seems to much prefer going to bed at 1AM and sleeping until 9, but that doesn’t fit in with the day job very well (or school, way back when).

At this point, a lot of people say, “why don’t you just go to bed earlier?” And at which point, I bite back a sarcastic, “gee, why didn’t I think of that” and explain that just because I go to bed, doesn’t mean I go to sleep right away. In fact, going to bed when I’m not sleepy is pretty much a guarantee that I’ll sleep worse, not better. Naps are not an option either–I’ve never been able to sleep during the day, unless I’m sick or have a really bad migraine. Otherwise, they just don’t happen, no matter how tired I am. Besides, they are kind of frowned on at work.

I can adjust for my schedule a little, and usually try to go to bed around 11 (more like midnight) and get up around 7. But for the past few months, I’ve pushed past that, starting with NaNoWriMo back in November. I’d put off doing my writing until well after 10, and by the time I was done goofing off and actually getting to it, it was 11, and bedtime was closer to 1AM. Then came December and all the extras that entails. I took a week and a half off work, and my body happily stayed in its preferred schedule–even slipping it a bit later.

And I haven’t been able to fully adjust back since. So once I realized that, I worked on it a bit this week, and it helped. Being less physically tired meant being less mentally tired, too. But I still need to work on it. Better to spend less time awake, and make it more productive time, than to be awake more but staring at the computer like a zombie because I’m wiped out as soon as I get up.

ROW80Logo175How did that work out for me? I was still tired, so didn’t get as much physical activity in as I would have liked. But I did get to where I wanted with my writing and formatting, so that’s a win. Here are the details:

  • Format anthology for print and proofread – Done
  • 2500 words – Done
  • Fitness 3-4x – Partial: got 2x in

The writing especially went well–I was still tired early in the week, so all the writing got done Thursday-Saturday. Imagine what I could have done if I’d been more on my game earlier in the week! So it’s time to boost the word count. Here are this week’s goals:

  • Anthology: make corrections and upload
  • 3500 words
  • Fitness 3-4x

What about you–are you a morning person, or a night owl? If you have a job, kids or other responsibilities that force you out of your natural schedule, how do you deal with it? And whether or not you’re participating in ROW80, how did you do this week on whatever goals you might have had? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.