the time comes

When people find out I’m a writer, one of the first questions they usually ask is, “Where can I read one of your books?” and my answer has always been, “I’m not published yet, but I have a kick-ass agent and we’re working on it. Really, really hard.”

Publishing is a land of talent and timing—and a little luck doesn’t hurt. I’ve been told, by editor after editor, that I have the talent, but the timing has never worked out. It’s frustrating. I’ve written seven novels. I WANT people to be able to read them. Self-publishing one of my books while we pursue traditional publication for the others is something I’ve thought about many times before. But self-publishing is scary. It’s a lot of hard work with very little return. But I’ve been chasing the dream for so long that I’ve reached a point where I need to put something out there. So, I’m both terrified and excited to announce that yes, you will soon be able to read one of my books. I’m going to be self-publishing my contemporary YA romance, IT FALLS APART. Details on where, when, and how you can check it out (and I really hope you do) will be coming in the next few days. For now, I just want to thank you all for supporting and encouraging me over the years.

Thank you.

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plans, both master and fledgling

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I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions--at least not in the traditional, eat whatever you want in December cause the diet starts in January sense. I think they set us up to fail more often than not. And who needs to start the year off feeling like they've failed before the snow even melts? Part of the problem with sudden, all-in resolutions is that most people can't make real changes in their lives simply because some (kinda arbitrary) date rolls around. We don't switch on like that.

With that in mind, I do understand the appeal in using the new year to set goals. I just think it's wise to keep some perspective. If you use the new year to organize the goals you've already been thinking about and working toward, you'll be more likely to accomplish something.

I have some baby weight to lose, but realistically, I'm not going to join a gym. First off, I hate gyms. But even if I didn't, I don't have time for them in my life. So what then? Am I going to get up and go for a run every morning? In an ideal world, I would. But no, it's freezing cold winter. And I have a nursing baby at home. It's not realistic. So then what about eating healthier? That's something I can do. But it would be ridiculous to pledge to eat only healthy food from here on out. Diets like that always fail. I know that. And I enjoy unhealthy foods too much to do that. So instead, I'm taking small steps to work toward eating healthier on a regular basis. Less takeout, more home-cooked meals. I love cooking and now that Baby H is sleeping more, I have a lot more capacity to manage it. So as far as that goes, I resolve to take the baby steps I need to take to start eating more healthy, home-cooked meals on a regular basis. I know for me, the key to doing that is actually quite simple--I need to make a meal plan for every week, one that allows for occasional takeout meals and treats, but primarily focusses on eating healthy, home-cooked meals and ensuring I have the ingredients on hand to do so. It isn't a huge change. It doesn't require a ton of effort like going to the gym or forcing myself to count calories would. But it's enough of a change that over time, it'll start to make a difference. And that's good enough for me.

I've talked about the usefulness of getting organized while writing before and I can't help but make the comparison now. Life changes, like writing books, aren't sprints. They take time. We need to prep our brains for them, ease into them. Sometimes we're super keen (daily word count surpassed!) and sometimes we're lagging (feeling uninspired and Netflixy, which yes, I've decided is an adjective), but the key is to keep going at a pace we can manage. That's not to say you shouldn't push yourself from time to time. Realistically, I may only finish writing one book in 2015, but that doesn't mean I won't try to write two, maybe even three. I just won't set that as a hard, punish myself if I don't achieve it goal. It's an ambition, not a resolution.

So what other plans do I have for 2015? Well, aside from meal planning and writing (cause, of course there will be writing!), I am going to keep going on a goal I started a few years back (with the birth of Baby E), slowly cleansing our home of chemical products and unnecessary clutter. I recently discovered an awesome organic grocery store nearby and I plan to start buying more produce and other products from there (knowing I'll still rely on my old grocery store for a lot of things), and while I've removed almost all chemical cleaners/detergents/etc from our home, I still have some work to do with regards to switching to better personal care products, make-up, etc.

So yeah, those are my goals for the year--well, those and keeping my family healthy and happy. But that's just business as usual :)

What are your goals for 2015? Do you like to make hard and fast resolutions or do you prefer to use this time of year for more achievable planning?

If you're like me and want to make some changes to the products you use in your home, I highly recommend you check out the products you're currently using via the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep searchable database. I've been using it to chose better products for a few months now and it's really making a difference.

Happy New Year!!

two zero one four

Happy New Year! Okay, yeah, we're kinda at that point in the month where you're not really supposed to be saying that anymore, but hey, I want your new year to be happy so I'm saying it!

There's much to catch up on so this is going to be kind of a crazy mix of topics, but I wanted to get up to speed with the blog to get back into some good blogging habits :)

There are a lot of things I'm looking forward to in 2014 and as far as books and pop culture go, I will be doing a separate post sometime soon listing my top things to be excited about in 2014, but on a personal level, one of the biggest is that my family will be growing in July with the addition of another baby Studer. Yeah, anything else that's going on this year kinda can't compare to that news, but that's why it gets a mention here and everything else will get a separate post. I know it's no excuse, but this pregnancy has definitely contributed to my lack of posting. I've been pretty tired between work and chasing a toddler around, plus I've had a cold that materialized sometime in mid-December and still doesn't seem to want to leave completely. I blame the frigid weather. And the lowered immune system. It's kind of a perfect storm of badness. But I am trying to focus on the good things on the horizon. Like spring coming...eventually. Have winters always been this long? Or this cold? I miss the sun.

I've also been feeling like I'm in a huge holding pattern. Yes, I'm technically in a literal holding pattern as I wait for my internal tenant to be big enough to vacate the premises, but things on the submission front have been unsettlingly quiet. I think the entire publishing industry is going through a fairly slow phase right now where the rapid fire deals of the past are fewer and farther between than ever. But I remain optimistic and while I'm waiting for word on the books that are in the can, I'm settling into the first draft of my next book, a YA contemporary mystery. It's my first experience writing a contemporary novel so it's been a really interesting and educational experience so far. I hope to have something of that to share on the blog here soon. And maybe a bit more of the books I've finished, to give you guys a better taste of what they're all about too.

So that's almost all for now, except for one topic I want to touch on... my little PLLer heart is kinda broken right now, guys. With the new season of Pretty Little Liars already under way, I'm going to be doing a recap soon, but for now, I want to quickly address the fact that Hot Caleb is off in Ravenswood and the dreaded Haleb break-up has happened. I knew this was coming. But it still super sucks. I'll share my thoughts on Ravenswood in my recap too, but the topline is that this is like Angel and Buffy all over again. Except this time, I don't see the potential for the spin-off to get better. More on that soon.

I hope your January is off to a good start! I am hoping to incorporate a little more variety into this blog in 2014. Have you made any resolutions (unofficial or otherwise) for the new year? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Until next time, bloggies!

bumps in the road

Even best laid plans have a tendency to go awry. There are unpredictable factors you can’t plan for, can’t foresee. So the best way to move forward in any venture is to expect the unexpected or at least train you brain to deal when things going off course.
You know how you can be headed somewhere, to do something specific and then suddenly you forget your purpose along the way? You could just stand there, unable to recall, or give up and go do something else, but it’s often helpful to retrace your steps. To remind yourself of what you were after and why. Focusing on your goal helps you get back on track.
While I was on mat leave, I was able to easily keep to a blogging schedule. My time was a little more flexible (especially when the baby was napping well). Now my time is a lot more structured. As I settle back into my day job, I realize that I’m going to have to shift my expectations if I’m to keep up. Blog ahead, schedule posts, put more thought into planning. Basically, be prepared. I knew things would be different, but until I found myself experiencing it, I didn’t know how exhausted I’d be. I didn’t know how difficult it would be to make time for blogging. But I haven’t let myself lose sight of how important it is. I knew I’d have to find a way to make time. Giving up on it altogether wasn’t an option.
The blog isn’t quite back to normal, but it’s getting there. I’m adapting to the changes that are happening. Or trying to. It’s still something I’m working on.
Sometimes writers encounter bumps along the road as they’re writing. Major life events, lost writing sessions (sorry, I know how cringe-worthy the very thought is) or just plain suffering through a major case of writer’s block. The important thing to remember is that these things happen. They’re bound to happen. We can’t let them trip us up for long and we definitely can’t let them stop us altogether. We have to find ways to get back to our primary objectives. To return our focus, even if it has to be modified to accommodate change.
There’s a world full of curveballs out there, just waiting to be thrown your way. They could come at any time. When they do, don’t let them break you. Nothing is so insurmountable that you can’t work at it over time. Keep your goals—be they writing goals or otherwise—always in view and when something takes your eyes off them for a moment, go ahead and take it in, but then go back and reminder yourself of why those goals were in your line of sight to begin with.
P.S. Speaking of bumps in the road, I can't seem to format the font in this post, nor can I seem to upload the picture I was going to include. Since my goal is to post something today, I'm not going to let these little bumps in my bloggy road stop me. Do your thing, post. Do your fonty, pictureless thing.

in the nano homestretch

Cyber Monday? How am I supposed to get any writing done with all these online deals? This is terrible. Just terrible. Clearly, some sort of reward system is in order. If I write 2k, I can shop online for a bit... something like that :)

So here we are in the homestretch for NaNoWriMo. How did that happen? In a year that has flown by at a shocking rate (I'm told maternity leave will do that to you), this month has disappeared right before my eyes. Weren't we just doing the costumes and candy thing?

I'm definitely not on track to hit 50k. Back on November 1st, I knew there was a 95% chance this would happen. I have a baby to care for after all, plus, I do almost all of the cooking and cleaning (and grocery shopping, etc) at my house. I have a pretty full schedule and it's the kind that you can't just ignore, as much as there are times that I'd like to. I also found myself under the weather this past week, which does not do much for the writerly brain :(

As things stand today, with only five days left, I'm sitting at a mere 27, 079 words--that's just over half of where I "should" be by the end of the week. I know I won't catch up. I'm not going to pretend that I might. If I didn't sleep and ignored a lot of things that I really shouldn't ignore, I probably could, but I know I won't...

Way behind, but my overall slope isn't too bad! I'm staying fairly consistently behind.
All of that said, I'm still quite pleased with what I've done so far this month. I'm not going to "win" NaNo, but I am carving out a good chunk of a book I'm pretty happy with. What matters to me as we wake on day 26, is that by the end of the week, I'll hopefully have managed to write over half (I'm aiming for 60-64k total so my goal is 30-32k) of a book I think has real potential. To me, that's more valuable than 50k words I feel unsure about. And I'll gladly sacrifice "winning"for what I've written already.

I know NaNo is an all or nothing thing in terms of the "official rules", but I'm definitely in the camp who sees NaNo as an opportunity to get a little extra support and feel the encouraging embrace that only comes with an entire community of authors writing at the same time. It's a time to do what you can with the time that you have, and shoot for your own personal goals, regardless of what those are. A time to forge ahead instead of hesitate, to write instead of plan. And I think there's plenty of value in that no matter where you find yourself on November 30th.

How is your NaNo project going as we head into the homestretch? Are you happy with what you've written? Was it harder/easier than you thought it would be?