Some Days, I’m Just Not Feeling It

Today is one of them.

I feel about as motivated and useful as the old tires in this picture. There are many reasons for this that I won’t get into here.

I’ve thought about opening my novel file and making myself write anyway. Is there any use in that?

Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

I’m really just not feeling it.

I’m not going to force anything. So here’s what I am going to do. I’m going to reread what I wrote yesterday. Then I will see if anything comes to me then. If not, I’ll call it done and go do something else. But, even though I’m not “feeling it,” I have to at least put forth some type of effort.

The fact that I’m doing this blog post right now is actually a positive indicator.

I have some productivity music on (courtesy of Evan Carmichael’s YouTube channel). That usually helps. And that brings up a question.

If you’re having a day where you just don’t feel like doing whatever needs to be done (except for paid work – that’s different), what do you do to get yourself motivated to do it anyway?

Happy creating.

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Creativity in the Heart of the Ozarks

If home is where the heart is, then mine is split between where I live and Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

I first started going to Eureka Springs in 2000, the first time I went to the Ozark Creative Writers’ conference. That was also the first time I ever heard about the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. I got to tour it the next year.

That is when I decided I would go there. I would stay at the Writers’ Colony one way or another. I applied for a paid residency. I didn’t get that, but I did get accepted for a general residency that I would pay for. After finding out how much that would be–and knowing it was affordable–I went.

I don’t know exactly how many times I’ve stayed, but it has been several over the years. It is where I finished Devoted to Creating: Igniting the Creative Spark in Everyone. It is where I started writing Kiernan’s Curse and Navajo Rose. I’ve worked on most of my books there. It is definitely a locus of creativity in the heart of the Ozarks.

I wasn’t able to go to Eureka Springs at all last year, not even for the conference. I hope to return this year. The arts, in general, are supported as a whole (it seems) in Eureka Springs. They have a very strong arts community and many artists call the town their home.

I can’t wait to go back!

Happy creating.

Get Busy Already!

Crayons scattered on white paperThe procrastination game has been strong today. I have indulged in it instead of fighting it and getting things done. On one hand, that’s not a problem unless it becomes a habit. On the other hand, it’s a consistent habit and I need to break it.

I did pretty good with things on the writing front this week. Here’s a round-up of my creative life this week.

  • Ultimate Blog Challenge: This is day 7. When I post this, I will have officially made it a full week.
  • RealmWalker: I have added a chapter and a half and 5,042 words this week.
  • #100DaysProject: I decided writing every day would be my project. That seems good since I’m wanting to finish RealmWalker this month and I have another novel (young adult along the lines of Nancy Drew) that needs to be finished, too. It started Tuesday so this is just day 5 and so far I’m 5 for 5.
  • Greeting cards: Yes, I make greeting cards. I got started when I went to a stamping group about six months ago. I love it! Initially, I didn’t want to get involved in anything else since I have so much going anyway, but I was given a LOT of stamps and ink pads, so I thought I’d look into it. The group gets together the first Thursday of the month at the scrapbooking store downtown. I love it.
  • Yarn stuff: At the beginning of the week, I was between projects. I like to have something going that I can do while I watch TV. I also like to have something at hand that I can do while I think about what’s next in what I’m writing. For TV-watching, it can be a complicated pattern. For thinking-while-writing, it has to be pretty mindless, otherwise, I’m thinking about the pattern and not the writing. Anyway, I started a new shawl yesterday. It was far too complicated. I’ll still finish it, but I think I’m going to have to crochet along with the videos provided. So I started another shawl this morning. This one is easy and works up pretty fast. It’s the perfect thinking-while-writing project.

That sums up my week. How was yours?

I’m going to post this and get to work on RealmWalker, even if it is late. (With that nap I took this afternoon/evening, I should be good for a while.)

See? I even used this blog post as a procrastination tool. Get busy already, Jen!

Happy creating.

Are You on My Mailing List?

One thing that has been on my to-do list for far too long is to create an email list. I have one started, but–to be honest–I haven’t sent anything out beyond a welcome message yet. I’m going to start sending emails soon. I don’t have a plan for frequency, but I think the general newsletter will go out once a month. There will be others that go out between times for special events, new releases, and upcoming offers.

I will not spam you. I will not use your email address for anything other than sending you the emails I mentioned above.

You can just fill out this form to subscribe if you want to.

 

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First Name
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//s3.amazonaws.com/downloads.mailchimp.com/js/mc-validate.js(function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]=’EMAIL’;ftypes[0]=’email’;fnames[1]=’FNAME’;ftypes[1]=’text’;fnames[2]=’LNAME’;ftypes[2]=’text’;}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);

Thanks for signing up. And I understand if you decided not to.

Either way, happy creating.

Tips for Effective Interviews

Photo of reporter's notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.
Photo of reporter’s notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that I’m working with the local newspaper on some articles. I’ve been doing several interviews because of that. In the process, I’ve learned — or rediscovered — some things.

  • Have at least 10 questions ready.
    I have discovered that if I go in with fewer than 10 questions, I don’t get enough usable material. I struggled to pull articles together. Once I figured out that I needed to ask more to get more, it became easier. One thing, though: If you ask a closed question, one that can be answered with a simple yes or no answer, ask another open question where they have to elaborate. Or ask why.
  • Treat the interview more like a conversation.
    If you go in acting like this is a formal interview, your source will be stiff and uncomfortable. They won’t open up the way you need them to. If they don;t open up, you get short answers. Getting them to open up is key to getting them to talk more about the subject at hand. Don’t be afraid to let them go on a tangent. You might be surprised at how relevant it turns out to be later on.
  • Take notes.
    Taking notes is important. It shows your source that you take them seriously and believe they will have something good to say that you will want to remember. I advocate taking notes even if you are recording your interview because batteries die and — particularly with digital recorders — recordings can be deleted or become corrupted.
  • When possible, record the interview.
    When you take notes, you use abbreviations. Sometimes you don’t remember what those abbreviations mean when you go to transcribe your notes. It is also possible that there will be too much information to take adequate notes and you risk losing a good quote if you’re not recording. There will be times when your source won’t want to be recorded, though, and you have to respect that.
  • Be gracious.
    People are busy. Be sure and thank them for taking the time to meet with you. If possible, follow up with a thank-you note, especially if it was a “big” interview.

There you have it. These are just a few of the things I’ve learned/rediscovered while doing interviews over the past month. Hopefully you get some benefit from it.

Weekend Schedule

Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com
Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com

Earlier, someone on Facebook asked what people’s plans are for the weekend. After I posted, I realized this weekend is fuller than most. It looks to be a good one, though.

As of today, I’m behind on my NaNoWriMo project since I haven’t done any work on it today. I’ll use tomorrow to catch up on today’s words and also add tomorrow’s. I have a writers’ group meeting I’m going to and then an interview with a doctor in the emergency department at the hospital for an article I’m working on for the paper.

What about Sunday?

I’ll do more NaNo writing, go to a baby shower, and go take pictures at a Lego Town building party. It should be fun. Monday will be back to work on more paper stuff, so I’m not going to have any down-time from the weekend. Sometimes that’s not necessary though. Here’s hoping this will be one of those times.

WIP Exerpt

When I’m occupied with thinking about current projects, sometimes it’s hard to come up with a blog post. So today, I’m cheating. Here’s the opening of my NaNo novel. (I’m currently calling it Eureka Steam, but that will likely change.)

—–

Shelly Parks reapplied her maroon lipstick and studied her reflection in the restroom mirror. I should be the one babysitting for Paige and Ricky instead of the other way around, she thought as she pushed the door open. She almost ran into someone before her eyes adjusted to the dim light in the bar.

“Sorry.” She backed up a step and stumbled.

“Careful.” He caught her elbow and held her upright until she felt stable. His deep voice since shivers down her spine.

“Thanks.” She smiled in spite of herself and straightened her hat. Who knew a few gears could be so heavy? “I…I knew I should have stayed home. I’m no good at places like this.”

He laughed and gestured to the rest of the room with his left arm, wrapped in armor. “Who is? But that’s the fun of it.”

“Maybe.”

He let go of her elbow.

You didn’t have to do that.

“How about a dance before they do last call?”

“I…”

“Don’t dance? Me neither.”

“Okay.”

He tipped his hat to her, adjusted his monocle, and offered his unarmored arm.

She accepted and walked with him to the dance floor, hoping her skirts wouldn’t trip her up. One song ended as they got to the edge of the dance floor. After a short pause, another started. “What is this?”

Her companion laughed. “It’s steampunk music.”

“It sounds…weird.”

“Some people think so.”

“How do you dance to it?”

He pointed to a couple nearby, moving with exaggerated stiffness. “Like them.”

She shrugged. “I can do that.”

They danced to that song and the next one before he led her off the dance floor. “I’ve got to go. Early morning tomorrow.” He glanced at a clock above the bar. “Today.” He grimaced.

“Me too.”

“Thanks for making tonight more enjoyable.” He paused.

“Shelly.”

“Shelly,” he repeated and smiled. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“I certainly hope so.”

“Mitch.” He saluted her and left.

The next morning, Shelly poured herself a cup of coffee and wished she hadn’t stayed out quite so late. She took a sip as her phone rang.

“Parks residence.”

“Shelly, you need to come to the store,” her shop manager Meagan said. She sounded frantic. “I’ve already called the police. They’re sending someone over too. Someone broke in overnight.”

“You’re sure?” She put the coffee mug down. The ceramic clunked on the formica.

“Uh-huh.”

Oh, hell! Most of her inventory was in the shop. She had hoped to spend the day in her clay studio, but it didn’t look like that would happen.

“Are you coming?”

“Yeah. Give me about 10 minutes and I’ll be there.”

“OK.”

She hung up, hurried to the bathroom, and looked at her reflection. “Nice wash job, Shel,” she muttered. Maroon lipstick was smeared around her mouth and she had raccoon eyes from the dark eye makeup. She washed her face, put her hair in a ponytail, and dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt.

In front of the shop, she turned her flashers on and put the car in park. The “Shelly’s Shack” sign on the open door framed a hole. She shook her head and walked in.

“There she is,” Meagan said.

“I’m sorry I’m late.”

“It wouldn’t be late if someone hadn’t busted in your door, now would it?” a familiar voice asked.

She felt the same tremors down her spine as she had the night before. Mitch? She rounded the corner.

“Good morning, Ms.—Shelly?” Mitch looked up from his notepad.

Funny. Last night I never noticed he was bald. “That’s me.”

“You two know each other?” Meagan asked.

“We met last night,” Shelly explained. “I’ll tell you later.” She turned her attention to the police officer. “We went to the bank last night at closing, so there wasn’t much cash for anyone to take.”

He nodded. “Whoever it was… Well…. I think it was personal.” He moved away from the display case in front of the cash register. The pottery there had been shattered. “I need you to go over your inventory and see what else was damaged or taken.”

“I will.” Shelly blinked. Who? Why?

“Okay. I just need your contact number and I’ll be done here.”

She gave him her home and cell phone numbers. She watched him write them down and leave.

“Shel?”

“What?”

“You okay?”

No. “Call Paige. I think I need her help.”