Category Archives: Life

Get Off Your Ass!

I have a mug that has a black and white cartoon on it of three angels screaming. The caption says, “A message from God: GET OFF YOUR ASS!”

Recently the news has been reported that spending long periods sitting is as dangerous to our health as smoking. I assumed it was because being sedentary contributed to our collective asses getting bigger, but even regular exercise is apparently not enough to compensate. I hadn’t heard any explanation of this until today, when I stumbled upon this post by Linda Stone about computer apnea.

Apparently we tend to hold our breath or breath shallowly when we read email and do other computer related tasks. This is a bad thing. It causes a complicated cascade of physiological responses that lead to the fight or flight response. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately–I’d rather not be facing a grizzly, thank you) we ‘re sitting at our computers. As Stone says, our bodies are all dressed up with no place to go. This leads to all sorts of health problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, increased hunger signals, etc.

We think of breathing as automatic, but apparently there’s something about sitting in front of a computer that interrupts our natural rhythms. This is bad news for writers, and a lot of other workers in western style economies.

We can’t change our entire work culture, but we can breathe. Deeply. And sit up straight so our lungs can expand. And get off our asses once an hour so the blood gets moving. (I know one writer uses a 48/12 pattern. Forty eight minutes of writing, twelve minutes of out-of-chair time. His mind has adapted to it, so when he sits down at the computer again, he steps right back into the story.)

Two years ago (with my husband’s help) I created a workstation combined with a low speed treadmill. I used it faithfully for about a year, and then, gradually, my recliner became my preferred work location. (Bad writer. No biscuit.) It looks like I need to get off my ass. Again.



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What Did You Give Up, To Get What You Got?

Maybe the perfect life in perfect balance isn’t the ideal goal. This excellent blog reminds me of the saying, “You can have it all, just not all at the same time.” What I like about this post is that the author is also saying that it’s okay to not even want to have it all.

It is, perhaps, not the having, but the striving, that is the real joy.

What Did You Give Up, To Get What You Got?.


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My Self-Publishing Journey: Ruthless Clarity

As I take this self-publishing journey, one of the changes I’ve observed in myself is the way I think about how I spend my money and my time. When I was pursuing traditional publishing I wasn’t as careful about how I spent my time.  When I sold VEILED MIRROR to The Wild Rose Press I did editing on their (very relaxed) schedule. I was a business owner even then, but I didn’t really think of it that way. That all changed when I decided to self-publish. As a business owner, I have to allocate my limited resources for the best effect, and there is no shortage of products and projects clamoring for my time and money.

Initially, I took the approach that every minute (and every dollar) should count. It seemed obvious that I shouldn’t spend time on activities that won’t move my career forward.

Let’s stop for a minute to examine that. What does it mean, to move your career forward? It’s a very personal question, actually, and underpinning it are the questions of why do you write, and why do you want to publish? Understanding the answers to these questions is vital to keeping us on track. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Bob Mayer observed in his book WHO DARES WINS, that understanding the intention of a military order can determine whether it’s successfully carried out, especially when circumstances change.

Once you’ve figured out what your bedrock objectives are, I recommend writing them down, and saying them out loud. Be honest! It can be a little frightening to do this, because putting feelings into words lays it all right out there. Your motivation is no longer a mushy, vague concept. It’s a clear, hard-edged statement. It may reveal something about you to yourself that you hadn’t acknowledged before.

Why do I write? I like writing better than any other job I’ve had. I write because I have stories inside me that I want to tell. I would write just as a hobby, but at a much slower pace. I revise because I want other people to enjoy reading what I write. I publish and sell my stories because I want the respect and validation that comes from successfully testing my work in the marketplace.

Knowing that about myself helps me make decisions about where to spend my time and effort and money. It’s important to remember: all knowledge is good. And if you don’t know what your real goal is, you’ll never be satisfied with what you get, because it probably won’t be what you really wanted.

That’s where the ruthless clarity comes in. (I looked up ruthless, in preparation for writing this. It means merciless, unrelenting, unyielding. And clarity is “freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.”) Once you know what it is that you really want, you can cut away the distractions. That doesn’t mean you have to become a single-minded grind. Everyone has multiple goals from different areas of life. Goals in job, family, health. It’s hard work to figure out what’s really important to us, and even harder to juggle them all. Sometimes the people we care about want us to have different priorities. You may need to learn to say no to them. Or you may decide that the goal of meeting other people’s needs is more important  for now, than achieving a personal goal. Knowing that, and choosing it consciously, will make deferring other goals easier.

The word “ruthless” gave me pause when I looked it up. It’s a harsh word, with a lot of negative connotations. It’s also a strong word. Ruthless clarity is a way of defending ourselves from the clamor of distractions that can destroy our time and eat our lives. Articulating my goals has made making career and life choices clearer, if not necessarily easier. I still struggle with knowing which priority to spend time on, and with wanting to fit one more thing into too little time. Sometimes my life isn’t balanced, and I don’t always make every moment “count.” And that’s okay. But at least I have a pretty good idea of where I’m going, even if I take a detour now and then.



Filed under Life, Publishing

Tucson Festival of Books

Everyone within a hundred miles of Tucson should plan to attend the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend, March 10-11, on the University of Arizona campus. It is an amazing gathering of hundreds of authors speaking on a variety of topics, hundreds of vendors and organizations, and great food, too!

I’ll be there both days, supporting TusCon Science Fiction Convention and the Saguaro Romance Writers. I’ll also be speaking along with Kris Tualla (author of the Hansen series and A DISCREET GENTLEMAN OF DISCOVERY) and Michael Charton (author of MORIARITY: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A CRIMINAL GENIUS) about “Understanding Electronic, Self, and Vanity Publishing” at 4:00 on Sunday afternoon in the Kofler building, room 216.

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Is It Really Censorship?

I wrote last week about PayPal’s Censorship. In it I said that while I believe PayPal is not enforcing its new requirements equitably, they have the right to do so. They just have to be willing to accept the economic consequences of that decision.

Kris Rusch, states it even better in this post, with which I substantially agree. PayPal is responding to pressure from clients it can not afford to lose: the big credit card and financial companies. Companies that don’t want their brand associated with bestiality, incest, and rape for titillation. The loss of business from indie publishers (who write most of that category of fiction) is miniscule compared to the potential loss of revenue from MasterCard, Visa, etc.  It’s a business decision, on both their parts.

Branding is an important thing for all businesses. But would the credit cards really be tarnished by a few sales of raw erotica?  Maybe not. But why should they take the chance? They’re not making much money off it. And every business has the right to decide who they’ll do business with as long as their decision isn’t based on race, religion, country of origin, etc.

Kris argues that making something harder to buy isn’t censorship. So I looked up censor in the Random House Websters Unabridged dictionary. “. . . 2. Any person who supervises the manners or morality of others. 3. An adverse critic; faultfinder. . . 6. To examine and act upon as a censor.” [Emphasis is mine.]  Legally, what the credit card companies are doing may be closer to restraint of trade, (though since I’m not a lawyer I don’t know if that’s actually true) but by this definition, it sure sounds like censorship to me.

I do agree with Kris that it’s important for any individual to understand a situation before expressing herself on the matter, and important for each person be willing to act on her own principles, whatever they may be. To that end, if you feel that Ebay (PayPal’s owner) and the credit card companies are overreaching, you can contact them and express your displeasure. (But please, be professional and polite!)

If they don’t change their position, will you stop using PayPal? Cancel your credit cards?

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No Guts, No Glory

I came across this blog post, and I want all my followers to read it. It’s titled, “Stop Sabotaging Your Own Success,” and it was just what I needed to read today.  I can imagine returning to it often to keep me focused.

I particularly like the answer to the question: how do we define ourselves? We are not just the sum of what we have done so far, but also who we aspire to be. We must not sell ourselves short, or stop before we have begun.

Failure is not (usually) fatal, and really, despite the saying, no one died from embarrassment. Going for it is so much more exciting than not trying.



Filed under Life, Publishing, writing

Eye Candy

I’m not feeling particularly insightful today, so I thought I’d share a great pic with you.

This fellow is how I picture one of the male protags in a future MMF project which I finally got a handle on. (Do you think he looks like an elf?) I can’t wait to share it with you, but I’ll have to while I finish FIRSTBORN (or whatever I wind up calling it).



Filed under Life, writing

One Step

This is a great message. I’ve implemented it many times, but I seem to need to hear it on a regular basis.

One Step. It’s all it takes to begin to change your life. You have to follow it with another step, and then another, but it’s a law of physics: Bodies in motion tend to remain in motion. Once you take the first step–at anything–taking the next one is easier.

A little less than a year ago I took the first step of contacting a cover artist and an editor. Now I’m preparing my third manuscript for publication and having a blast.

A saying has been running through my head a lot lately:  “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll only get what you’ve already got.” Otherwise stated: “The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Take a step. Do something different. Enjoy.



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It’s All In How You Look At It . . .

Merry Yule! I hope you and yours are all enjoying this holiday season. So often at this time of year it’s easy to become stressed by the additional efforts of shopping, entertaining, and planning holiday meals, not to mention the disruption of our usual routines. I compounded the chaos this year by planning the holiday release of WITH HEART TO HEAR and replacing some very worn carpet in my living room before we hosted our holiday party.

I was starting to feel a little snippy about my home being discombobulated for longer than planned when I remembered how blessed I am that I can do both of these things. Then I read this excellent post from Dan Wells from early last month about Cheerful Flexibility.

Cheerful Flexibility is a wonderful mantra for life as well as publishing. With the industry in the process of finding a new way of doing business we’re bound to need to adjust and readjust in the next few years. If we can do it with an open heart, life (and change) will be so much easier for us (and for those around us). We probably won’t like some of the changes we’ll be facing, but they’ll be less painful if we work through them instead of resisting them. I fully expect I’ll have to alter my plans–probably more than once.

In the meantime, it’s good to keep focused on what’s really important: friends, family, meaningful work.

May the blessings of the season be upon you!


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Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m lucky, and I know it. I have a roof over my head, enough to eat, people who care for me, and work I enjoy.

Like most of us, I’ve had my share of sorrow, but I also have a lot to be thankful for, and I hope that on this holiday you do too. This is the time of year when generosity tends to be at it’s best, so remember the folks who aren’t as lucky as we are.  Your Community Food Bank is a great place to start.

I’m sure you have better things to do today than read my blog, so I just want to say thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate your support and encouragement.


Filed under Life