Beautiful Transitions

A month goes by quickly and lo and behold, it’s time to write another post! As we sit on the precipice of summer tumbling into autumn, I find myself once again pondering the transitional time that is September. [Yes, I know it is still technically August] I naturally rely on my flower gardens to gift me with metaphors and symbolism. My two large hydrangea bushes are no exception. In fact, they are the perfect symbol of transition.

Spring to Autumn…my hydrangeas change color from white to pale pink to rusty blush. The blooms also grow on “dead wood,” meaning I don’t prune these gigantic bushes back in the autumn.

Spring to Autumn…my hydrangeas change color from white to pale pink to rusty blush. The blooms also grow on “dead wood,” meaning I don’t prune these gigantic bushes back in the autumn.

Some changes are cataclysmic: abrupt and furious.

Some are a metamorphic: striking changes after hardship.

Some are subtle and a slow trickle: calm, and not always readily visible to the passerby.

But all changes are certain. They happen. Abrupt, striking, after hurdles, and subtle.

Autumn tends to be my season of change. Yes, it’s still August. And the heatwave is wrapping up here in New England. I love September for its weather. Cool, calm, sunny, an extended summer. For the transitions, not so much. School, jobs, life…all tend to congregate in September. Lazy days of summer (though some summers are just as busy!) give way to hectic new schedules. Shorter days. Crisper nights.

Back to my flowers…(because I do obsess a wee).

Spring comes with anticipation, as shoots and buds of early bloomers erupt from the softening winter ground. Summer bursts with a daily rainbow of peak-bloomers, including my day lilies. With late summer and early autumn, the languid days draw to an end and the rusty golds and oranges emerge in the gardens, as the spring and summer flowers wilt, dry, and brown. Then, I sadly say goodbye to all my leafy friends in November as I prune most (but not all) of the perennials. Many need a good shearing for new growth come spring. Hydrangeas grow on dead wood. Lilies if left to decompose, self-fertilize (but admittedly, I do cut them back a bit, too).

My gardens are a subtle and slow change preparing for the sometimes cataclysmic autumn rush.

My September is:

  • The end of my flower gardens (boo!) but the gift of knowing New England autumn foliage is coming

  • The resuming of a regular writing schedule and more writing productivity, with less daily distractions for a work-at-home-mom

  • New writing projects while waiting on others

  • Kids back in school: homework, activities, the “grind”

  • Cooler temperatures, shorter days

  • Quieter moments, more time alone

  • A return to visiting with writer’s group/colleagues

  • Earlier rising

  • New exercise routine

  • And a few other professional/life changes that come with the territory

How is your end of summer and early fall transitioning? Have you been awaiting news (I feel like I am always awaiting news on something)? Are you jumping in head first to professional, academic, or personal changes? Are you blooming after a long stint of hardship? Are you closing one season and moving to a next?

Heedless, we’re told to embrace the changes. Sometimes easier said than done. But as my hydrangeas remind me, the changes can be beautiful.

And yes, I can load this post with a zillion flower garden photos, but if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you’ve likely seen them all already!

Happy end of summer, everyone! What’s in store for your September?

A Slice of Pie

I may be a romance writer by night (and mom, educator, do-it-all-er by day…and soon to be full-time multiple-genre writer by day) but writing is far from romantic. Yet, I do it. Why? Love, of course. And not just those happy-ever-after loves [although I do enjoy those]. Writers have their varying reasons for pursuing this tough career choice, but I will put my money on the fact that most do it because it has been a dream and a love of theirs for years or decades. Many folks already know my story and path to publication, so I won’t go all into that. Today, I’m going to talk about pie! Not pumpkin or pecan or apple (all three very good, in my opinion), but rather what a writer spends her time on. It may come as a surprise that writing is not the biggest piece of that pie.

Writing means:

  • Dreaming

  • Writing words

  • Revising and deleting entire scenes, chapters, or characters

  • Rewriting

  • Editing (not to be confused with revision)

  • Research. And more research – historical battles, flora and fauna, cultural habits, locations, language, tools, weapons…the list is long. Be it a magazine or novel, I always research something.

  • Querying and submitting to agents and editors (and writing the query and synopsis to go to said agents/editors, as well as researching the market)

  • Editing again (proofs, galleys, emails with agents or editors)

  • Networking and Twitter-ing

  • Promotion and Marketing

  • Honing Craft (books, workshops, entering short story contests to test your craft abilities)

  • Attending conferences

  • Engaging with peers/writer groups/critique partners

 

Whew! That is a long list.

So how does that all play out into an average day? Well, here’s yesterday’s play-by-play:

Non-writing work (while I am supposed to be writing): took car to mechanic, ran errands, mowed the lawn, watered gardens, exercised, and did the mommy gig before and after school (which for my kiddos also meant a run to Dunkins for calorie-rich drinks after a tough school week!)

Writing work: wrote website blog post, reached out to a library about a “meet and greet” for my recently released book, read some of a critique partner’s manuscript (into the late evening hours when words began to mitosis-ize), looked up scenes in my current book to submit for a potential audio recording narrator audition, worked on Amazon keywords, came up with an idea for my WIP (while exercising) so I jotted a few lines down but then found myself researching Old Norse words and Gaelic words (noting the websites for future searches), checked email no less than five times to see if any agents got back to me on my query for a manuscript [no – it’s a waiting game for sure], attended a webinar and online publisher chat in the evening, and surfed Twitter (agent posts, networking with other writers)…

And drank far too much coffee.

I dipped my fork into all parts of that pie yesterday.

I wrote a total of 90 words yesterday (and so far today, none, but they will come in a little while--do these words count?). 90 words for a manuscript that will likely be about 90,000 words in length. Yeah, not a great word day, but look at all that other work! Certainly there are days where I spend 3-5 hours writing and I can churn out over 2,000-3,000 words in a day.

It’s a juggling act. A balance. Some weeks I can power through and roll out a tremendous number of words (keeping in mind that it’s raw and will require twice or thrice as much time to revise and edit). Other weeks, my focus is on other aspects of writing. It’s all good. It’s all writing. It’s all bringing me one step closer to my dream [to be a multiple-work published author].

So what do I do? Well, a whole lot. Is it worth it? Yes. Many, many times yes. I am a daydream believer. I take my pie by the forkful...with whipped cream.

I’d love to hear from you if you are on this writing journey. How do you spend your days? What are your favorite parts of the writing process?

My own personal pie chart. An estimate of course. 

My own personal pie chart. An estimate of course. 

19 Years in Numbers

Today is the day! My debut novel, A HUNDRED KISSES, is finally out! I’m not sure what most authors do on their big days (…notice that plural I snuck in there? I plan on having many more big release days…). Besides having a glass of Atholl Brose (although this non-drinker would rather celebrate with a frothy latte), and a fun book release party complete with bannocks & whisky, I am keeping it low key. Okay, yes, I am blasting social media a wee bit, too. So let’s get the plug for my book out of the way first. Hop over here to order it via Amazon or The Wild Rose Press [both have e-book and paperback options available]. Don’t forget to please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads! Authors value their readers’ feedback. Thank you in advance!

Next, I’d love to shout out a gigantic heartfelt thank-you to many people. First, to my mother, who continues to inspire me. She will always be with me in spirit, in the words that flow off my fingertips, and in my memories. Thank you, my dear husband, who has put up with my raving writer antics and ramblings about characters you have never met. Thank you to my amazing sons’ who were patient when “mommy was on her computer again.” [That won't be ending anytime soon, kiddos]. Thank you to my family - for cheering me on all steps of the way, including my dad, stepmom, mother and father-in-law, brothers, aunts, and my sister (and sister-in-laws). And my friends – you all know who you are – whether you were a coveted beta reader (Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!) or a friend who listened to this tormented writer's woes. [Quick plug for my writing warrior and sidekick for this entire journey, Lorraine – check out her website & blog]

Plugs – done. Thank you’s – done. Now back to numbers...

With the necessaries out of the way, I’d like to digress and talk about numbers. I’m a scientist by training and a list-maker. I do enjoy numbers and a list of organized thoughts, to-do’s, or “a top ten.” Certainly my logical scientist has shifted to the passenger seat while the creative artist jumped behind the wheel a few years ago when I decided to more actively pursue my writing dream. Right now the scientist has become map-holder and navigator. Sometimes that crazy driver takes me on detours, around bumpy turns, and down dead-end roads. But oh, what a ride it has been!

So, back to numbers. Well, since my book is called A Hundred Kisses, I thought the past 19 years in numbers would be fun to contemplate. Enjoy. And so many thanks to all!

Sláinte,

Jean

19 Years in Numbers and yes my son took that photo after I ripped open (with careful excitement) the delivery box!

19 Years in Numbers and yes my son took that photo after I ripped open (with careful excitement) the delivery box!