Back in the saddle again …

cowgirl-riding-horseWe’re moving into February and I’m just getting around to saying Happy New Year to everyone. For that, I apologize.

I’ve been away from blogging for a while and I’ve missed it. It’s not that I didn’t have any crazy thoughts or tidbits to share, I did. But life sometimes takes the wheel, and with all its unexpected twists and crazy turns, you sometimes have to put on your seat belt, say a prayer and hang on.

I’ve missed the camaraderie with friends, and the interesting conversations. But I’m back in the saddle and although my blogging schedule may be a little spaced out this time around, I intend to rejoin the hoedown! (Yes, I love westerns and everything cowboy!)

I’m planning to pitch at the next writer’s conference I attend. So, I have to keep my “ass in chair,” and focus on making both manuscripts the best they can be. I’m hoping to pitch two books this year. However, if I can churn out the third book by October, I’ll be pitching the entire three-book series.

Last month, I attended my first meeting with my new critiquing group and it was SO helpful. They’re an extraordinary group of writers who discovered things in my manuscript that went right over my head. That’s usually the case when you’re so close to the project. In addition to identifying the problems, they made awesome recommendations on how to revise it.

I’ve mentioned how important having a critiquing group or partner is in prior posts. And I must again. Having a critiquing group or partner is one of the best things you could ever do to advance your writing career.

Speaking of writing, how snazzy is the new format for WordPress?! It looks like they’ve added a few bells and whistles. Do I need a tutorial? Has anyone discovered if any of the new features offers a greater blogging experience? Hmmm ….note to self investigate this.

Thankfully, some things have remained the same. PoeWP My faithful buddy Poe is still here, and he’s still like Velcro. I move. He moves.

I hate to even throw this out into the universe. But one day, I’m going to break something because I was trying not to trip over him. In his defense, he’s there when I need him. When I’m working on a book, he offers his literary opinion with one or two barks. And if he totally hates the storyline or the character, he’ll howl. It’s nice to know that he takes his namesake (Edgar Allan) seriously!

In any case, I’m happy to be back and blogging, and look forward to catching up. Happy trails everyone!

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Writer’s conferences: A surefire way of getting your mojo back

What a weekend!

The New Jersey Romance Writer’s Conference, (NJRW) was inspiring, enlightening and fun! Special shout outs to the people who made it all happen–the NJRW Conference Committee.

Guest speakers and presenters, Sabrina Jeffries, Heather Graham, Susan Wiggs and husband and wife team, Jim and Nikoo McGoldrick were all superb.

Major props to the Violet Femmes for having great items in the “goodie” room, including a chance to win a Nook! Also a special shout out to authors JGavinAllan and R.A. DeFranco (sorry I missed you!) hope you had a blast!

I learned and re-learned so much. I plan to share it all throughout the next couple of weeks. My takeaways from the conference were monumental and I left with an entirely different perspective and a renewed sense of determination.

The major takeaway is that I got my mojo back!

I’ve been in a writing slump lately. But all it took was some rethinking and readjusting my life a little, and the NJRW conference to kick me in the butt. I’m feeling good about the changes. They were small, easy to do, and they’re going to help immensely as I start to crack down and get back to writing.

My goal for next year’s conference is to pitch at least two books. So, I’m on a mission. With a few minor changes, I know I can do it. Here’s a few of handy tips if you find you need to get your mojo back:

1. Get organized
My office was a mess! No joke. Papers and files everywhere. Various filing cabinets from one end to the other. So, I purchased this nice six-cubicle shelf from Target with the fabric pockets to go inside. In one pocket I have all my pens and highlighters, in another my stationary and post its, and one is designated for my camera and other technical stuff I don’t want to damage.

Oh, and on the lower shelf is my special pocket for my “Sims” games. (My love affair with this game is a whole other blog!) My daughter and I put it together in less than an hour and I feel so much better about my space.

2. Accommodate your loved ones so they won’t feel neglected.
It’s easier to put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door or say, to family, “I’m writing, see you in a bit.” But what about pets? They don’t get it.

One of my problems was trying to adjust to having a dog. My Poe. 🙂 Love him a bunch, but he’s time-consuming. In the beginning, my efforts to get him on a schedule, meals, walks, play time, were interfering with my writing. And I hadn’t figured out how to make it work.

Until now.

Since, we’re both acclimated to one another, and he’s completely house trained, I thought that I could allow him up in my writing space. This way he won’t feel neglected and I’ll get my writing done. (Usually, I’m upstairs and he’s downstairs as he wasn’t quite ready to explore the house without an accident or two)

So, I took all my junk (books, post its, character charts) off chair I have in the office and put them away. Now he can come up and lay on the chaise and still feel like he’s not being neglected.

3. Carve out time and stick to it.
This is important. Now that Poe is on a schedule of sorts, I can get my writing done in a more structured manner. I used to write early mornings around 3 am or 4 am. But since Poe, my schedule has changed. So, I will write after dinner from 7:00 to about 10:00 every night. On the weekends, I will write 16 hours minimum, and still leave time for family events and me.

4. Stay energized: eat healthy,get your exercise whenever possible. You’re sitting in front of the computer most of the time. You need to move around, even if it’s for a walk. I had my treadmill moved upstairs closer to my office. This way, I can get some walking in, in between scenes or chapters that are giving me a hard time. Walking always helps to loosen the creative knots.

I can’t tell you how accomplished I feel just doing those few things over the weekend. My mojo is back and I’m ready to write and roll!