Wednesday, January 22, 2014

5 Lessons Learned From My Sabbatical as a Full-Time Writer

Gigi Pandian

For the past three months, I've been a full-time writer. I'm using a sabbatical from my day job to complete my latest mystery novel. I have just over 10 days left of the 100-day sabbatical. Here are some of the surprising things I've learned so far:

1. Time does not equal productivity. 
I don't believe in waiting for creative inspiration to strike before I begin writing, but that doesn't mean I can be creative for 8 hours straight. I would often find that 3 hours of focused writing would amount to a better output than a full 8-hour day.

2. Having freedom is both good and bad.
It's nice to be able to meet a friend to socialize whenever you feel like it, spend a leisurely afternoon reading a great book, or cook a new recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen for lunch—but there are still only 24 hours in the day. Writing "full time" can easily create a false sense of endless time. If I want to get things done, I have to set my alarm to get up each morning and create writing goals for the day.

3. It's lonely out there!
I'm fortunate to have so many full-time writer friends who I can meet up with to both socialize and write. If I didn't have that support network, I'm pretty sure I would have gone crazy by now. In my day job, I share an office with one of my closest friends, and we're always bouncing ideas off each other. Without that structure, it's easy to become a hermit without realizing it's happening.

4. Shifting your writing process is possible.
I thought I had it all figured out. I was completely convinced I was a "cafe writer," someone who had to get out of the house to be disciplined enough to write. It turns out I can write at home—as long as I set goals and turn off the internet.

5. "Living the Dream" in reality isn't the same as the fantasy. 
I've realized I have no desire to write all the time. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to try out being a full-time writer on a temporary basis. It has taught me some surprising lessons about what I want out of life. I'm still in my post-cancer "seize the day" mode, so I had wondered if I would find myself wishing my sabbatical could continue—but on the contrary, I can't wait to get back to my normal life. I've learned that the life I've set up for myself is the one I want: surrounding myself with amazing friends and family plus keeping a fulfilling day job that gives me a few mornings a week to write mysteries.

Today also marks 20 days until Pirate Vishnu (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery #2) is released!

A century-old treasure map of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast. Sacred riches from India.
Two murders, one hundred years apart. And a love triangle… Historian Jaya Jones has her work cut out for her.

Here's one of the fun promotions that's going on leading up to the book launch:

Two chances to win one of two signed copies of Pirate Vishnu along with an India wall-hanging that has a pocket to hold letters or magazines:

Chance #1: Sign up for my email newsletter by February 10. All subscribers are automatically entered.

Chance #2: Like my Facebook page by February 10. All new Likes are entered, and all existing fans who comment between January 1 and February 10 are also entered.

And if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can also join me at the book launch party!

Pirate Vishnu Book Launch Party with Gigi Pandian
Sunday, February 9
6 p.m.
6120 LaSalle Ave., Oakland CA
(in Oakland's Montclair Village)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mapping Emotions on the Body

I love THIS ARTICLE that appeared a few weeks ago. I have a hard time placing emotions in the body when I write and I found it fascinating that across cultures, we feel our feelings the same way. I've been referring to this graphic a lot while writing recently. Good thing to have at a writer's fingertips.
 - Rachael

Monday, January 13, 2014

Heart of Stone is out!

The next installment in the Family Stone series, HEART OF STONE, is out!!

Riley Stone is the handsome brother, the charming one. Everyone who meets him compares him to his father, which in his mind is not a compliment. But he's never met a woman he couldn't charm, until he meets Di, an acerbic, smart-mouthed, passionate activist who has no time for him or his charm. On the run, in the midst of danger, the blistering passion they share explodes. Can these two opposites find common ground, or will Di smash Riley's stone heart?

Couple of notes about this book....

So this story is near and dear to my heart because Riley suffers from dyslexia. I have loved to read since I was a wee one. Dyslexia runs in my family. My sister has it and my oldest son has it. I can't imagine having to slog through switched and backwards letters (a simplification really) to get to a story. And plenty of dyslexic people never get to appreciate the power of story because it's just too difficult. In my family, everyone reads so we just kept looking for books that would appeal to my son until he found a story so compelling that he wouldn't give up just because it was hard. (For him, it was Harry Potter). If you know someone who has dyslexia, keep giving them books to try. Unfortunately for Riley, by the time someone who cared came into his life, it was too late. But that doesn't mean he can't make a difference. 

Second, I wrote this story months before Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. I debated adding in the disaster to the story but ultimately I chose to take literary liberty by pretending it didn't happen. However it did happen and millions of people were affected.

So here is my pledge: Originally I planned to price this story at $1.99 instead I am pricing it at $2.99 and I will donate $1.00 for every copy sold through March 31, 2014 to Save the Children.

Hope you enjoy Heart of Stone!!
<3 lisa="" p="">

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The First Five Minutes

--Adrienne Bell

I’ve come to realize that the first five minutes of doing anything sucks. Doesn’t matter what it is. If it’s something that I like, if it’s something that I dread, doesn’t matter. The first five minutes are always the worst.

There’s a simple reason for it. Breaking inertia is hard. Super hard. A body at rest wants to stay at rest. It’s true for rocks and train wheels and bodies lounging on couches. Where you are is generally where you want to stay. It takes a little force to get you moving.

And the first five minutes of that force is a real pain in the ass.  I love running, but I hate the first five minutes of it. I have to huff and puff and talk myself into it. For five minutes, I battle all my doubts and laziness. I fight to replace all my noes and don’ts  with yeses. And nine times out of ten, I win.

And that last one time? Well, I am human, after all. And even then, I’m five minutes from home and there’s only one way to get back.

But the beautiful thing about inertia is that is goes both ways. Things that rest want to rest. Things that go want to go. After those first five minutes are done, you’re doing it. Movement is on your side. It’s harder to stop than it is to continue. Some people call it flow. Some call it Alpha Waves. I guess I just watched too much Newton’s Apple as a kid, because I think of it as inertia.

But the meaning’s the same. Runners run. Writers write. Things like to go. And, as long as you can get past the first five minutes, so can you.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 is the Year of....

by Lisa Hughey

Everyone has their own method for ringing in the new year. Some people make goals (that used to be me, but I evolved). Some make resolutions (and then break them almost instantly). Some people eschew the very idea of goaling or resolving. My latest trend is to find a word or motto that will define the year.

One of my First Attempts at Collaging
My writer friends and I usually spend a day collaging and cut out pictures and words that represent what we want to accomplish for the year. It's a pretty fascinating process. Sometimes the motto or idea is front and center when looking for pictures that represent what I want to achieve, or what I want to strive for during the year.

Other times, I just cut out any picture or object that appeals to me, whether it be colors, symbols, or particular activities. And then once I start pasting on my paper, a large 14" x 14" square of colored paper, sometimes two squares, the theme for the year emerges. Unbeknownst to my conscious mind, the message of what I want out of the year becomes clear by the time I am finished.

Collage 2010

It isn't always made up of just pictures. Usually there are other objects that end up on the collage as well, ribbon, keys, buttons, plants, yarn. Along with the pictures, the objects, spell out exactly what I want for the year.

The specifics of my wishes for the year can range from large to small. They can be milestones like finish a book, finish a series, travel to an exotic place that I've always wanted to visit, make conscious decisions about money. Have more patience, more sex, more joy. It can be about less: eat less, stress less, worry less. Or more: exercise more, meditate more, hike, smile, laugh, love, create more. Appreciate: my husband, my kids, my health, nature.

Last Year's Collage

At the end of the session, I have a physical, artistic visual of what I want for the year. Then I hang it up in my office, usually over the printer, so that it is in my field of vision on a regular basis to remind me what I want.

We haven't had our collage morning yet, and I've been struggling with my word or motto for 2014. But I'm sure that even if I don't have it nailed down before I start, that I will by the end.

If you aren't a resolution/intention/goal person, try collaging. It works. :) 

2014 is the year of.... whatever you want.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Book, New Everything

by Ruby

What a blessed time of year this is!

Before moving to northern California, my new year's observance was heavy on tradition. In Arkansas my extended family were big on cooking and eating together, so there was a big meal to usher in the new year, featuring one delicious rich treat after another. Afterward, we would just lie around contentedly patting our stomachs, so the early hours of the brand new year were spent in "quiet contemplation" or out-and-out napping.

Northern California has a much different vibe, as you can imagine! Where I live, cyclists and joggers and walkers don't skip a single day of the year. (Seeing some of them running past wearing santa hats was a treat!) Healthful food is available year 'round - and I'm learning some new ways to incorporate it into my life. I received a VitaMix for Christmas and our own Gigi gave me a lesson on how to make some basic dishes. I'll be looking forward to expanding my repertoire. And hiking is a much bigger part of my life than it ever was before. Yesterday - a beautiful, sunny winter afternoon - I walked a redwood forest where only patches of sunlight came through the tall trees until my friend and I crested the top of the peak and had all of the valley below us. On new year's day, I plan to hike up far enough to have a view of San Francisco across the bay. And crab! I've become besotted with the local delicacy, which you can get all winter long from any grocery store at a very inexpensive price.

Needless to say, I'm enjoying all that the bay area has to offer. I've been busy writing, too - the second half of last year saw the launch of my new Boomtown Boys series with BLACK GOLD, but also participation in two wonderful holiday anthologies. Writing stories for A CUPID ISLAND CHRISTMAS and LOVE ON MAIN STREET was such a treat, but the best part was getting to know my fellow authors better. To all of you, my dearest friends - you all are my inspiration!

And to mark the passing of 2013 and the arrival of 2014, I'm delighted to announce the publication of the second book in my Boomtown Boys series: BLACK HEAT, which is currently available on Amazon and will soon be available on iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes&Noble.

Wishing all of you a fantastic and safe new year!

images courtesy of SF Fun and Coffee 'n' Coconuts