Monday, January 18, 2021
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is Discovering New-To-You Authors: Where would you direct someone wanting to read more from emerging authors in your subgenre?
I'm going to cheat a bit today and point you to an article I wrote for the SFWA Blog: A Guide for Authors on Recommending Books. I'm not cheating for my usual reasons - too busy, running behind, general laziness - but because I really like this article and I think it's useful for this topic.
Despite the title, it's useful for readers, too!
That's because we can all make an effort to diversify our reading, and this article talks about ways to do that - including resources for finding new-to-us authors who aren't from the usual walks.
Go forth and find cool new stuff!
Friday, January 15, 2021
Goal: Leveling up. How to get there? For me, writing classes. It's not enough to just want more words - that state is eternal. You can always assume I'm looking for a way to make stories happen faster and more efficiently. Over and above that, though, I'm interested in taking skills up a notch. I want to look at words differently. I want to think not just about what makes a story, but what makes a tale compelling. How do I get more emotion from characters into readers - if words are my only tools - I need to experiment with how they evoke a response in someone who isn't me.
It's that old acting chestnut of Sir Lawrence Olivier supposedly saying, "It isn't my job to feel anything. It's my job to make the audience feel everything."
I'd started writing on the theory that if what I wrote made me feel something, then surely reads must, too. T'ain't necessarily so. Without getting into the showing versus telling diatribe, let's just say there are multiple ways to approach reaching out to touch a reader via nothing more than flat words printed on a page.
That's my current work on leveling up. Concentrating on skills. While spurring for more words faster than they are currently being produced.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
One aspect of my publishing career that I want to improve this year? An aspect over which I have control?
Finish writing three books.
Longtime readers of this blog know I'm not a fast writer. This year, I'll release books 6 & 7 in my UF Immortal Spy series, wrapping up the story of Bix and the Berserkers. Then, I have to decide: do I return to my HF Blood Born series and spend the next four years completing that series, or do I write the first book in a new HF trilogy and try to sell it (and the series) to the Big Houses? My HF books are twice as long as my UF books, 175k vs 85k, which means finishing that third book this year is a stretch goal that'll require me to spend less time fighting with a blank page. Can I do it? I have no idea, but I'd sure like to improve my record of days with net-positive word counts.
After all, getting the movie in my mind to show up as words on a page is HARD.
Sunday, January 10, 2021
Friday, January 8, 2021
Still. In the middle of the raging hellhole that was 2020 (and that 2021 is still flirting with, the hussy) doing something - anything - to look after our health made my family feel a little more in control. Working out at home became THE thing.
Yes. Yoga. Weightlifting - we have free weights and a bench and training in the Weider method. We take 2-3 mile walks (with masks - this is Florida and well - the FL man memes, they do not lie). The dh and I bike.
These are lovely. They boost mental and physical health. But they're time delimited. There are only so many hours in a day and only an hour a day I can devote to motion for motion's sake. Yet our brains evolved in very different circumstances - when motion WAS the day. Our brains were designed to operate at peak efficiency while we walk. Stroll, really. Take a look at the book The Brain Rules.
Read this and see if you don't join me in lusting after a treadmill desk like Jeffe's.
The spoiler is this: Our brains were designed for us to walk up to twelve miles per day. It keeps our brains oxygenated, boosts connections, etc, etc, it's really good for you, so there.
All I know is that if I stop moving, I start hurting. Maybe I'll start saving for that treadmill desk.
Thursday, January 7, 2021
This is a Siberian husky. This sled dog is in a rare form….tired. And the only way to tire out a husky is to hike/mush/run/skijor them ‘till their energy drops to a manageable level.
That’s it. My annoyingly, adorable pup is the one tool I have to battle the sedentary job of being an author. I’d love to have a walking treadmill like Jeffe’s to write at. But like she mentions in her post, it’s a monetary commitment. Though I also agree that prevention is the way to go, so I’ll keep it on my to-be-purchased list.
The more practical, maybe feasible is a better word, option would be a standing desk. For me, being able to stay in the scene and not be pulled out by distractions is huge. If I had the ability to stand I could do squats or stretches without having to step away from my keys. But I’ve never worked with one before.
Anyone out there use a standing desk? And do you actually use it?
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Yes, I'm a writer. Yes, I live a fairly sedentary life. Yes, I dislike exercise for the purpose of exercise. Yes, the width of my behind bears testimony to these facts. But also? I see a therapist and work pretty damn hard to become better at taking care of myself and valuing my own health -- physical as well as mental.
I'm also a really healthy person, physically. I eat good stuff, limit my carbs, do my mammograms, and get a check-up every year. So although, yes, I could use more exercise and do have some soft-priority plans to up my going-for-a-walk game, the priority here, for me, is not becoming a gym rat.
Writing is what eases my brain, makes me happy, soothes my insomnia, battles my depression, and enables me to be a better mother, wife, daughter, and human in general. So if the choice is between an hour on the elliptical and an hour writing, and that's all the free time I have, I will always choose the keyboard. I have to.
You can call me a couch potato if you want. You can fat shame me if you must. I don't really care. This is a choice I have to make, for myself and those I love.
Be good to you, people.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
"...those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking."
Well, that's craptastic. To battle the numerous bad things that will happen from molding your seat cushion to your butt, health professionals recommend:
- Getting up and moving every 30 mins.
- Standing instead of sitting.
- Using a Treadmill desk. (Be like Jeffe!)
Sunday, January 3, 2021
First things first: If you haven't yet read Book One in my Forgotten Empires trilogy, THE ORCHID THRONE ebook is on sale for only $2.99 all month. This is a great opportunity to start the series, as Book Three, THE PROMISED QUEEN, comes out in May!
We're kicking off a new year here at the SFF Seven and we're talking writer fitness. If sitting is the new smoking, what are the perils of a sedentary art and how do you counteract it?
That means it's time for my regular evangelistic sermon on the many virtues of my walking desk!!
Yes, I have one - a hydraulically height-adjustable desk with a treadmill beneath - and have had for eight years now. Wow. Amazing even to me! You can read about my grand opening (with pics) here, from February 2013. I also have a post from one-year later here - which includes video of my cat Jackson walking on the belt!
Do I love my walking desk?
Yes, yes I do!
In 2020, I walked over 2,000 miles on the thing. On working days (5 days/week) I walk 6-10 miles, depending on the day. I absolutely walk while I write, and I believe the trance-induction of walking helps me enter that ideal state of concentrated creative flow.
CW: weight loss.
While I'm relatively slender, I'm also someone who struggles with weight gain. I'm post-menopausal and my daddy's side of the family tends toward obesity and type II diabetes. I also really love wine. Prior to 2013, I was facing steady, incremental weight gain and increasing blood pressure. Between writing and my then day job, I sat all day long/
Eight years later, my blood pressure is down, I'm holding the body fat and weight reasonably steady, and it's gotten so I'm restless if I sit for too long. This is why I'm a total evangelist for the walking desk. It's seriously the BEST investment in my health that I've ever made. It's become especially pointed for me in the last year, because I have two writer friends who developed blood clots in their legs from sitting too much, both of which turned septic and required expensive surgeries and months of recovery to correct.
So, I know it's a major financial investment. I have a Geek Desk Standing Adjustable Desk and a LifeSpan Under-Desk Treadmill. I know it's not cheap. BELIEVE ME - eight years later I'm on my fourth treadmill and I KNOW it's not cheap! But, I am also a firm believer in paying for prevention. I'd rather invest in my pricey set-up than pay hundreds of thousands in surgery or medications.