On Logjams and Naps

I think this will simply a dumping of the annoying contents of my brain which feels clogged up. No real reason. Maybe, like vomiting when my tummy feels bad, I’ll feel better for it. You might not.

My works in progress are not progressing as I would like. I feel like I have a log jam in my head. I know where my stories are going, I have ideas, but nothing is flowing. If I get a few hundred words a day out, that’s good. Most of it just sits in my head. Getting moldy like strawberries in my fridge.

For awhile, I had a pretty good writing routine down but that was interrupted by the three week field research gig in May. I thought I’d get my groove back after that. But, no. I thought that planning for the library programs would fit in, but not as nicely as I hoped. Then there was a job application that took me forever. And hanging out with my brother’s kids while he and his wife went away, and then the job interview.

Oh, and let me not fail to mention the many naps. I’m not sure if I’m in hibernation mode because it’s so blasted bright and hot out, or if I upped the laziness dial or if I’m anemic or what. But I want to sleep a lot. Getting out helps. But it doesn’t help that the three other creatures in my house–my hubs and our two cats–sleep all day. Hubs has an excuse–he works nights.

This week I thought I’d be able to start back into a routine (although that word makes me cringe), but Mom went into the hospital again. So on top of the outside concern of what’s wrong now, there’s that inside one of…when? It could be anytime. It could be ten or twenty years.

Maybe I should just give in and watch movies all day. Do a little token house work each morning and work through my Netflix queue, supplementing it with Fassbender films from Amazon or Redbox. Devote a few minutes to Craig’s List and Indeed.com to look for jobs. Give it up and wait for…what?

I thought straightening up the office would help. And cleaning up the clutter on my desk.

But, what I really need is a vacation. To get on a plane or in a car and head out to somewhere to talk to old friends and laugh and get reinspired. And I’m praying for that…

Bookcover Blues

Posts here had been getting slightly more frequent. Then I took a temp job. In the fall I worked with Harvard U. and the U. of Michigan doing field research for four weeks. I’m back at it for three. My brain is kind of dead when I get back, at least for writing. Maybe from talking too much all day. I have four days left. Might be a good time to rethink the cover for Another Place on the Planet. Hopefully, a new cover will improve sales.

One of many challenges for undersourced indie authors is the issue of book covers. As with anything, a book cover can be bought from a graphic artist. I suppose finding someone who will understand your vision for your book’s audience, genre and story can involve quite a bit of finger (keyboard) work. And I also imagine how much you spend doesn’t necessarily dictate the end result. It’s equally possible to get something awesome from an inexpensive but sympathetic new graphic artist as it is to get something unusable from a highly paid pro.

But, with no budget, I’m left to my own devices. I have a little design background and a natural visual talent. I’m working my was through GIMP, a free program similar to Photoshop. I like learning, but wish it didn’t take so much time.

Scrapped when I saw proof copy.
New and improved?

I don’t think many people get the minimalist image I developed for the cover I published with. I spent days and days on GIMP getting the lines as uniform as I could. I redid it when I received the first printed proof and spent more days reshaping the faces, which lots of people don’t see. My daughter said I should lose the purple and the curly romantic font. Perhaps I should.
 (Side note: I had a Jane Eyre book cover on my desk and used Michael Fassbender’s photo as a model for the male face on the new cover. Happy coincidence!)

First attempt at GIMP and cover design.

This is my first cover. My nephew took the photo of the lily. We had a photo shoot. This one turned out way too pink. A couple people in my critique group say it’s not what they pictured. Not that I should base everything on others’ opinions, but outside input is helpful.

The latest effort.

My most recent, I do not love. The photos capture elements of the story, but the they’re bland, I think. It looks more like a “normal” book cover. However, it doesn’t capture the spirit of the book.

The newest idea would include orange lilies, swirl brushes, maybe a female figure, and a orangey-yellow-gold color scheme.

My thinking has rarely meshed with that of the crowd, but I want to sell to the crowd. That’s where I want to share my little bit of insight or whatever my book has to offer. What’s a dorky author to do? Sigh.

I think I will know the perfect cover when I see it. How many will I have to create before that happens?

Meanwhile, I changed to the new cover on Smashwords and Amazon.

What do you look for in a book cover? Have you ever questioned the cover after you finished the book?

Needed: Procrastination Techniques

I’m looking for new ways to put off writing. I love writing but lately, since I published my first book, my mind has been wanting to take more time off. It’s like I was so focused on accomplishing that goal and once I did, I have failed to develop another all-consuming mental activity. Or, I haven’t renewed a prescription with the beneficial side-effect of the ability to focus better. Yes, there is such a pill!

I have started a list of different categories. Some of these activities are hated by me, but for some unknown reason, at times I find them preferable to doing that which I enjoy most.

Today’s technique will be the easiest. I’ll save the harder ones for later. Feel free to adopt any of these as your own to put off what ever you like to do.


Technique 1: Employing the Computer to Procrastinate

This might be every writer’s favorite, except for those who write by hand. I know several who do. I make lists by hand, and doodles. Not much else. This is not an exhaustive list, but I hope to have more to add in the future.

1. The Internet provides numerous ways to fritter away your life. I won’t include online games here because I don’t play.

a. Facebook–Of course. Do I have any new notifications on my personal page? My authors page? How about posting a status update. “My cat just yakked up a hairball.” No, not really. He’s snoozing with my husband.

b. Twitter–Tweet something writerly so people following me because I write will think I am productive and talented and so the filmmakers (how did I get filmmakers following me? Oh right–I mentioned I’m writing a screenplay) might think I’ll have a novel to adapt. One can hope.

c. Click on links on FB and Twitter. Lots of writing stuff, movie stuff, lots of stuff stuff.


d. Look for pictures of Michael Fassbender.

e. Check Kindle to see if I sold any books recently. Same for Smashwords and CreateSpace.

f. On Amazon, read excerpts of Fifty Shades of Grey (okay, I did that once–for a long time. I think they took out the most juicy stuff, which is really all right with me.)
.
g. Check Gmail to see if I have any new Twitter followers.

h. YouTube–start off with something of value then digress in any direction I choose–usually comedy and parody.

i. look for and download free e-books.

j. Check Goodreads to see how many more people signed up for my book giveaway.

k.Sign up for newsletters.

l. Look for a job.

m. Look for more pictures of Michael Fassbender.

n. Check regular email. This is a double one because then I can read the stories on the Yahoo feed. None so far have mentioned Michael.

o. Then there’s always good old fashioned research.

Wait-I have a new FB notification. Okay. Nothing exciting.

p. Watch movie trailers. Watch those with Michael several times.

q. Go to Huffpost women and read the sex articles.

r. Look for new movies to add to queue on Netflix (wish they had more Michael movies).

s. Write a blog post.

t. Go to Script Frenzy site and play with plot maker.

u. Tweak author website.

v. Look at blog stats to see if anyone read my last post.

w. Check bank account and clear away cobwebs to see if there is a positive balance.

x. check to see if I sold any more books than the last time I checked. Check to see how much I have to sell before I get a royalty payment

y. Go check the substitute teacher’s chatboard I used to frequent.

z. Look for another pic of Michael.

Next post will be how to use your computer without the internet to procrastinate.

How do you procrastinate online? Share, please!

(I promise NOT to mention Michael Fassbender once in the next blog post)