Monday Morning Catchup

Phew, school holidays are over and I might finally get some time to myself!  Ha, that’s a good joke.

I managed to find some time last week and got about 3000 words written on Curse of the Taniwha, so I have made some progress on that.  I have also started a short story – Beautiful Stranger which is based on some writing exercises that we have done at the monthly RWNZ meetings.

So, I can finally tell you about Cursed Love.  In March, I entered the Pacific Hearts competition, held by RWNZ for unpublished writers.  I was a little nervous, but it was writer feedback that I wanted.

Two weeks ago, I got the results back.  I didn’t make it to the top three, which had their manuscripts sent through to a Harlequin editor who will chose the top story.  The reason I entered this competition is because it is picked by readers.  Yes, readers read the story, and then they mark it, according to how much they enjoyed your story.

Marks are out of 85, and I got 82 and 83.  I was rapt with those two reports, but I also got one for 56/85 – and this is the one that has thrown me a little, because it says the total opposite of the other two.  Why does one focus on the negative rather than the positive?

Anyway, I have a couple of people reading through Cursed Love, and I will be shipping it out to a couple of publishers.  If no one is interested, then I will be self publishing it at the end of the year, and I hope to have Curse of the Taniwha to publish early next year.

I managed to get a couple of articles written for The Rural, including this one – Rural Hacks for Going to Town which is also the featured article.

So, as kids go back to school, I am hoping to find some time to do some writing, but I don’t know if that is going to happen, or be wishful thinking.

How do you make time to do the things you want to do?

Mental Health and Procrastination

These seem to walk together hand in hand, and it can be bloody hard to separate them.

A friend of mine, Cassie, wrote a blog recently about Barriers of Her Own Making.  Basically she was revising a novel, and wanted to add in a new scene, but couldn’t seem to make it happen.  I have had the same experience too.  I had a scene that I wanted to continue on with, but didn’t really now how to do that.  But rather than try and work at it, I procrastinated.

And it is only recently I have realised that procrastion and Depression really do go together for me.  If I can’t find a reason for doing something, I will stop and think about it.  And I can think about it for days.  And rather than just go ahead and do it, I will come up with every excuse under the sun why I can’t.

But that is another problem too.  Making excuses.  It is easy to do, but I shouldn’t.  I can get up and clean the house if I want to, I just chose not to because I would rather focus on how big a job it would be, rather than how quickly I could get it done if I just got up and did it.

Its a bit like my writing.  I wanted to move on from that scene, but I couldn’t do it.  And I would actually get up and clean the house, feed the cats, make tea, change the sheets, do the washing, go and visit friends, work for my husband, play on social media, everything except what I should have done.  And it wasn’t until last week I realised that the solution was simple.

Move onto a scene that I knew was coming up.  The fantastic thing was, a couple of weeks ago I received an email from Fiction University about how to plot backwards, and I thought that was a fantastic way to do it.  I have my protagonist at a point, how how did he get there, where had he come from?  What made him / her make that decision?

So last week, I started making time in my day to do at least a thousand words.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but for someone who hasn’t written a significant amount in a few weeks, it is a lot.  But when I picked a scene I wanted to write, it just flowed out of me.  Which is pretty darned cool actually.

I do have some scenes which are hanging in midair at the moment, but I will tie them in, and if they don’t fit, I can either use them elsewhere, or dump them.

So, I have learnt that I need to be more proactive and make time, because time doesn’t make time, and I can chose to be busy, or have time to do some writing.

What is your procrastination problem?

Finding Time

C Mead final logoI have a bad habit of putting things off.  Until the last minute, and you know what?  Sometimes that last minute doesn’t come.  But sometimes it does, and passes and I’ve missed my opportunity.

But this week, I have been making an effort and found time to write at least a thousand words on my Taniwha story, which I am absolutely thrilled about, because I struggled with it, wrestled with it for weeks.  I was kind of stuck wondering where the scene I was on, was going to go, but I didn’t need to.

I am a methodical writer.  I like to have a plan, start at the beginning, work my way through the middle and come to a satisfying end.  This story is different.  I have written the beginning, missed some, done some of the middle, and missed some, and now I am writing the ending.

This piecemeal way of writing doesn’t sit easily with me, so that is why I have been struggling with it, and I have managed to struggle to find time to write, because I have been too busy AVOIDING writing.

Bangs Head on Desk by Tolan88 @ deviantart

Bangs Head on Desk by Tolan88 @ deviantart

And I didn’t need to.  Because on Wednesday I decided I needed to write a thousand words.  And I did the same on Thursday and Friday, so in all, I have over 3000 words added this week.  Which is 3000 words closer to finishing the story.

So instead of avoiding writing, I am making time, even if it is only half an hour, to write.  Because if I don’t, then I won’t write.

How do you make time to write?

Creating an Author Platform Part 4

C Mead final logoWow, time flies, I am sure I had done a couple of these and scheduled them up!

Anyway, this week we discuss building an email list and social media.

No 9. is all about building an email list, which Andrea thinks is the most important element to building an engaged following.  I don’t believe that I have a following big enough, or enough to really say in an email list at this stage – I try and blog twice a week – three times at the moment, but I guess I could get super organised and email the coming week’s scheduled posts, or send an email a week later, linking people to the site.

So, email services, there are a few of them.  KiwiWriters uses Mailchimp, which is a nice looking site and easy to build a newsletter with.  Andrea recommends Aweber.  I have looked at this, but I found it a little confusing – it said it was free, but you had to sign up for an account and pay…

So, I decided to search for a NZ based product – and you know what – there is one!  Vertical Response.   It is free for up to 1000 contacts, after that you have to pay.  Since I don’t have anywhere near a thousand people, this looks like a great option, and they have some lovely templates.  So I have signed up.  Go and have a look for yourself.

No  10 and 11 is about Social media, so I have combined it.  It involves Twitter and Facebook, and now with the advent of Google Plus, you could include that here too.  I have a twitter account, but I am not a big fan of twitter – I guess I prefer to be more wordier than Twitter allows.  I have recently changed my username to @CatherineMedeNZ, to reflect and work with this website and my Facebook author page which is under under Catherine Mede.

I have my website linked to Facebook and Google Plus, and my facebook author page is linked to my twitter account, so anything I post here, or on facebook is sent through to twitter, so I am getting my stuff out there.

No 12 is getting a social media tool, like Hootsuite.  I have used Tweetdeck, but to be honest, I struggled with it.  I haven’t looked at Hootsuite yet, but I am going to look into it, because it isn’t just about Twitter, like Tweetdeck was.

Catherine MedeSo, my homework this week is learning more about Aweber and Hootsuite.

Next week, Google Keywords, creating a bio, photos, and making a list of authors, bloggers and leaders in your genre and review their sites.

See you next week  :)

Feeling the Fear…

C Mead final logoI had a really tough decision to make.  Next week, I have my Romance Writers Meeting, but I also have an opportunity to learn something new, and frankly, something that scares me.  It was a really hard choice between the two, but the course is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

So next Saturday, and Sunday, I am learning how to maintain and use a chainsaw.  Yip, you read right.  I am foregoing writing for learning about chainsaws.

Yes, I guess I am mad, but chainsaws scare me witless, and while the course goes for two days (one of which is practical and one is theory), we learn all there is to know about chainsaw maintenance, sharpening, and how to use a chainsaw.  And that is what I am looking forward to.  I want to know how to use a chainsaw and chop up wood, because you just never know when you need to know how to do it.

A friend lost her husband at the end of last year to a brain tumour.  Before he died, he taught her how to hunt, fish and use a chainsaw.  How is that for practical love.  He gave her all the skills she would need to feed and provide for her small family.

And it has always stuck with me, that if anything happened to my beloved, then I wouldn’t know what to do, or how to use the chainsaw – because I am too scared to really give it a try.

But this weekend, I am facing my fear, and learning all I can about it.

Who's that GirlAnd it got me thinking about my writing.  I want to be published by the end of the year, but there is this niggling fear that keeps me putting it off.  So I took a step last week, two actually.  I resubmitted Scarlet Rose to two publishers, and sent another story off to a friend to proofread it.  It was a big step to do that, but I believe that once I get the story back from my friend who is proofreading it, I will be another step closer to getting it published.

I have also been thinking more about The Gamble, and I can’t wait to get back into it and finish that off too.  It is only a novella, but it would be another good one to get out and published, once I have finished it.

And one other story that really needs to be finished is Curse of the Taniwha.  I have be putting it off, and I’m not sure why.  I guess I am worried that it won’t be a novel and will end up being a novella.  However, I just have to keep writing it, and I really need to knuckle down and get something done, otherwise another month will pass and nothing will have happened.  I don’t want to start working on editing or writing a new story until I have the Taniwha story finished, so I have set a deadline for the end of July to get it finished.  Then I can leave it for a month and spend August editing and reworking The Gamble.

So, I am feeling the fear, and I am taking steps towards diminishing it.  I hope  :)

Creating an Author Platform – Part 3

C Mead final logoHere is a continuation on of my series, creating an author Platform, courtesy of Your Writer Platform

So previously, we have looked at why, where we want to go, your story, and researching your target audience and target market.

This week is about creating a professional looking website, tweaking your Tagline and getting business cards.

6.  It is important to have a professional looking website – and not one that says http://www.catherinemede.wordpress.com – as you can see above – I have http://www.catherinemede.com.  This came about because a friend – J C Hart told me about being able to purchase the option of having it as a .com rather than .wordpress.com and I thought that looked more professional.  Kimberly at Your Writer Platform suggests that you invest in your own self hosted website – because it doesn’t come free.  If you want to be taken seriously, you have to look professional – hence all the changes I keep making to my site.  An article on setting up your website can be found at Your Writer Platform.

7.  Tweak your Tagline – tag line?  Whoops – the only one I have is The Musings and Writing of a Wordwright.  If you can’t work one out – check out this site at Copyblogger.com.  While my tagline does say something about what I do, it doesn’t really draw people in.  So I need to work on this a little bit more.  Copyblogger suggests using your mission, your promise and your brand.  Since I have a logo, I have a brand of sorts.  Rich romance.  My mission, to write quality stories about paranormal or science fiction romance, mostly based in New Zealand.  My promise, to make it interesting and exciting and getting people back to read more.

This is much harder than I thought.  Bringing it all together, New Zealand Romance Writer, with a Twist of Speculative Fiction?  - Not sure.  Definitely something that needs more work.

8.  Business Cards – Yes, get them, and share them.  I had some made a while ago, but now that I have my logo, I need to get some new ones printed.  Why?  Because I have a brand and logo now, and once I have a tagline – I am ready to go.  You can put your facebook, twitter, email, tumblr, G+, LinkedIn, etc on it so that people can find you no matter where you hide.  I think it is a fantastic idea – especially if you leave them lying around in Cafe’s…

So, next week.  Building an Email List, Social Media and Hootsuite.  Looking forward to that one.

Cold and Flu’s and Downhill Battles

Its been a while since I have done a Mental Health Post, and with having a cold and viral infection, it is timely that I write a post.

Normally with a cold, I can have one day when I feel really yuck, and then I am back on the road to recovery, however this time, it hasn’t been quite so easy to shake.  In fact I haven’t been able to shake it at all, and every time I think I am recovering, I have another ache, pain or ailment pop up.

So Friday I started feeling unwell, I had two days at home, feeling sorry for myself and thought that by Monday, I would be feeling OK.  Wrong.

Monday came, and went, and there was little improvement.  In fact, by Monday night I had wound myself up nicely and ended up with Asthma.  Fortunately I have an asthma plan and with help from my beloved, I was able to calm down and sleep for the night.

There was no improvement on Tuesday either, and by Wednesday, I knew that I wasn’t getting better, and my mood started to drop.

Why did it drop?  I guess I spend a lot of time, when I am well, focusing on keeping myself mentally well.  I do things that make myself feel better, and with not being well, I have been unable to do those things.  I couldn’t concentrate long enough to read anything except at night.  My head ached, my chest rattled, and I just didn’t have any reserves left.

Fortunately, my husband was also very onto it this time, and while I knew I was going downhill, he knew just what I needed to make me feel better, and it did.  With some kind loving and words of encouragement, I was able to smile again, and know that I have the support I need when I needed it.

It is really important when you have any mental illness that you that you take particular care.  Having been on a course of Antibiotics for my arm, my immune level was compromised, and then with the virus on time, the cold just latched on and wouldn’t let go.  Its important to make sure that you have contingencies in place, to counter for those moments when your physical health hits the skids.  Being aware that you have a tendency to decline, may be half your battle won.  Having a plan in place to counteract it, will really work in your favour.

Being unwell has meant that a lot of my contingency plans haven’t been able to work because they involve getting outside and walking, but that doesn’t mean I have to limit myself exercise wise.  There is still yoga, which can be done gently while in a congested state.  Watching your favourite videos, or even cuddling with your favourite toy (or partner, which is much better), can all be part of those plans – provided of course that your partner can put up with you and your germs!)

I am slowly getting better, and my mental health can only improve with my own health.

So what plans do you have in place for those moments when things fall apart?