Productive Procrastination

My deskWriting is fun. But like everything on earth, once you’ve made it your “job” it inevitably reveals areas that are more work than fun. For me, the revision phase of writing is that work.

I just finished two separate first drafts last month. That is two new books that granted me the immense pleasure of typing The End. It’s not exactly normal for a writer to finish two books in a month. And as exciting as that was, it means I now have no choice but to enter into the revision phase for the foreseeable future. Or, as I like to call it, the Get Your Life Together phase.

Writing, for me, is beautifully messy work. The piling on of ideas, the sculpting of concept into reality…it takes a certain “letting go” for me to craft fantasy. And it shows. My desk becomes a cluttered mess of “organized chaos” which really just translates to piles and piles of notebooks and papers. A thesaurus holds down a stack of revision notes hastily scribbled during a frantic late night writing session. A cluster of worn notebooks teeters on the edge, a forgotten friend after hours of searching for random notes I buried in whatever journal was closest over the course of three years brainstorming. It’s a tangled mess that closely resembles my own inner work space at the end of a book’s birth into the world.

But editing and revising is another monster altogether. It is analytical, logical, organized. I can’t hope to sort out plot holes and character flaws if I don’t start it with the end in mind: a clearly articulated story that will transform your everyday mess of a life into magic for a few blissful hours. This is the goal. And it all starts with a clean desk.

Cleaning my desk is step one in the Get Your Life Together Phase. At first glance it feels harder than writing a book from scratch. But, little by little, it gets done. And then, we have a clear work space for clear thinking. Next, I tackle all of the forgotten and neglected chores of a responsible human being. Namely, laundry.

Laundry has no doubt piled up IMG_2990around me while I slaved away at the keyboard and though my family is incredibly helpful and supportive, no one cherishes a love for putting laundry in its proper place. So, the sorting and stuffing of clean laundry begins. I say stuffing because I gave up folding years ago. Stuffing it into drawers is the best I can do, people. You can have wrinkle free t-shirts, or you can have a magical fantasy adventure, but you can’t have both. (Someone please embroider this on a pillow for me. Thanks.)

All of this work seemed at first like walking away from writing. It was labelled “not writing” in my brain for too long. Now I see that it, like many other seemingly random parts of my life, is just a small part of the work I do as a writer. Get Your Life Together phase is what you might call productive procrastination. I may be putting off the less desirable work to be done next in writing, but I am setting the stage for clear thinking and guilt-free work. When I sit down to my desk with no chores undone, no nagging thoughts of what must be taken care of for me to be a good mother, wife, friend, or student, then I am able to focus. And focus gets work done. It is hard for creative brains to focus half-heartedly. Multi-tasking doesn’t fly when you’re a writer, an artist, or a composer. To finish your masterpiece, you must pour yourself into it 100%. That only happens when I’m not distracted by other things like laundry.

This makes some stages of an artist’s life harder than others. For instance, writing with small children at home. When my kids were littles, I wrote late at night. It was what I did to wind down after they went to bed. While friends might sit down to their favorite guilty pleasure tv show, I was sitting down to the computer to find out what happened next in my story. It was fun and felt like my own secret life. No one else knew except my husband and I’m sure he didn’t think anything would come of it at the time. Honestly, neither did I. I was doing it for myself because I’m a writer at heart and writing is essential. I can give it up for a little while, but eventually it bleeds out somewhere or I explode.

So, I’ll tackle this phase and revise books until they are beautiful, well crafted and ready for you to enjoy. But all along, the thing that will drive me to get it finished, to get it done, will be the desire to start anew. New adventures are waiting for me. But first…laundry.


Dear Author…

BookSigningI am a quintessential older sister. I LOVE giving advice. Seriously, I do. When I was younger, I would fantasize about having an advice column in the newspaper like Dear Abby. It was a lovely fantasy where everyone wanted to hear what I had to say and couldn’t wait to tell everyone else about how clever I was in helping them solve their problems. AND I got paid for it!  *sigh*

Well, I may not be all that clever at helping you deal with cranky neighbors or nosey in-laws, but I love helping young writers tackle their creative writing problems. This week I got a beautiful letter from a young fan in South Dakota.

“I’ve been trying to write books for a while now but I keep running into a problem. I will have a few pages of the book done and they’ll look great, but when I stop typing for any reason my mind keeps the story going. So I will only have started the book two days ago but I’ll already have made up in my mind too far in the future. So then I will start a new story in my head the old one not forgotten but, not on my mind all the time. The new character having all the attention. And the book will be stopped. So my question is, do you have this problem? If so how do you deal with it?”

The answer: YES! I had this problem for years before I finished my first book. For me, it was a problem of planning. I was taught in school to outline your writing before you begin. So, when I had an awesome story idea, I would daydream about it for awhile until I decided it was good enough to write. Then, I would sit down and outline the entire story, start to finish. Then…I was done with it. I could NOT make myself write that story no matter how hard I tried.

This went on for ages until one day I woke up with the most incredible dream. You know the kind of dream that makes you want to cry because you can’t just go back to sleep and finish it? I couldn’t stop thinking about it! How did those two people get into that situation? How on earth were they going to get out of it? Who was the mysterious villain that was after them?

I thought about it while I got dressed. I thought about it while I poured my coffee. I thought about while I drove kids to school. I thought about it while I did dishes. And then finally, I took out a notebook and started writing just to get it out of my head. But I kept writing and three hours later I was mad when I had to stop. I wanted to know what happened! That fall my brother challenged me to write my first book for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I knew exactly what story I wanted to write. I just had to see how it ended! 30 days later I had my answer…and my first book, A Light in the Darkness. That’s when I realized the reason I was stuck after plotting out entire books…boredom. I wanted to write to see how the story ended. If I sat down and plotted out every detail then the thrill was gone, it wasn’t any fun to keep writing after I knew how it ended.

So, I write like a reader. If there is mystery in a book of mine, it was a mystery to me, too. I honestly didn’t know who the bad guy was in The Light Series until book two. NO JOKE! Once I figured it out, I was able to go back and put his name into the first book, but it was a complete shock, I swear. I remember the first time two characters kissed it was the same way. “What are you doing?!” It’s a serious rush when your story takes on a life of its own.

If you’re having trouble staying focused, maybe try writing just to see how the story ends. If another idea pops up while you’re working, jot it down in a notebook or a computer file labeled Novel Ideas and keep going. Don’t get too wrapped up in the new idea. Just dump the details so you can start with them later and keep going. I have more book ideas piled up than I could ever write and they are really fun to look through when I’m ready to start a new project. But, learning to focus on the story at hand is powerful if you’re ever going to finish one. Why don’t you join me this year for NaNoWriMo? At the end you’ll have your very first book! It’ll be a rough draft, but still, I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to type THE END on your very first book. (Who am I kidding? It never stops feeling awesome!)nano_logo

Anyone want to join us? National Novel Writing Month is coming soon! Let’s write and find out how the story ends together. I’ll be hosting a write-along all month long in November, so get your ideas ready. It’s going to be fun!


Divine Inspiration

pablo (1)A lot of writers talk about the authors and books that inspire their writing. It’s a common topic in interviews and I have more than once found myself stumbling over my answer.

I can say how I love C.S. Lewis and his ability to create a world that I wanted to dive into headfirst. I want to write allegory like he did, weaving it so seemlessly with fantasy that readers can be inspired and changed without even fully knowing his underlying concepts. I want to write like Madeleine L’Engel who could take complex science and merge it with the even more intricate and mysterious world of the spirit, creating something that felt new and daring. But most of all I find inspiration in a book that would probably surprise you…the Bible.

I know it may seem an odd choice for a fantasy writer, but you’d be surprised how often it influences my work. As a writer, I’m always wanting to inspire readers to think, “What if…?” When I read the Bible, I’m constantly faced with that question. My imagination goes wild!

What if a group of people were being chased through the desert by an entire army and they find themselves trapped at the edge of the sea? They turn around with their babies in their arms and stare into the distance, enemy chariots stirring up the sand as they race toward the defenseless people. What if the sea splits open, creating a pathway to safety, and the path isn’t even muddy or wet, its completely dry ground?! They cross the sea on dry ground with the water piled up like mountains on either side of them. What if the army chases them right into the middle of the sea and when the last person reaches the other side, the water rushes in, collapsing on top of the army, washing them away?

What if a man lived in such a dangerous place, with enemy troops patrolling around so often that people couldn’t even live normal lives anymore? The people were so scared that they abandoned their homes and went to hide in the mountains, living in caves and crevices. Their crops were stolen by enemy soldiers on a regular basis so that his people were not only living in fear, but hungry, too. So, there he is, hiding in a wine press pit in order to thresh wheat for his family where no one can see it. What if a man suddenly appeared to him, an angel, and called him a mighty warrior? He’s nothing but a weak, cowardly farmer but some divine higher power has chosen him to be the warrior who ends up destroying the entire nation of people who keep invading his land. What if he becomes not only a warrior, but a leader who rescues his people and leads them to reclaim their land.

What if you were sitting in a boat one day with your friends, trying to cross the lake? You travel all night, the wind pushing against you so that you don’t seem to be making any headway at all. Sitting there in the middle of the lake, exhausted, you look out in the darkness and see something moving toward you. It looks like a person. You’re sure it’s a person, it’s a ghost floating above the water and it’s coming right at you! What if, as it comes closer it calls out to you and you realize it’s not a ghost but your friend? The smart alack in your boat yells, “Oh, yeah? If you’re really him, why don’t you call me out to walk with you on the water?” And he does! What if your stupid friend gets out of the boat and actually walks on the water?! The wind is blowing, waves are crashing against the boat and you are sitting there watching two of your closest friends walking on top of the water!

Don’t those sound like great fantasy stories? Each one of them makes me want to ask, “What happened next?” They set my brain on fire. But here’s the real kicker: What if they were real? What if they really happened? Whether you believe the Bible or not, there are billions of people who do! History even proves that many of those people, those places, they were real. So…what if it was all real? What if people could walk on water, teleport to another city, speak to God and hear his voice, glow like lightning? What if someone could understand all languages at once without training? What if you could heal the sick, see spirits, fight demons? What if it was possible to never die or to die and then live again?

THAT is why the Bible is my biggest inspiration. I just can’t help wondering…pablo

What inspires you?

Teaser Tuesday

The third book in The Light Series, The Light Within, is in the magical hands of my editor. I can hardly wait to share it with you! Merri’s journey takes her farther from Nomar in this book and deeper into the war that is brewing between Loian and Keardun. Today’s teaser reminds us where it all started in A Light in the Darkness.


The Light Within

December 2015

The Ultimate Reading Quest




Happy New Year from all the Authors in the Ultimate Reading Quest! This year myself, and all the Quest authors, want you to enjoy your reading experiences more than ever! So in 2015, the Ultimate Reading Quest has more, more, more! More authors and more books, means more mystery, more danger, more intrigue and more edge-of-your-seat adventure awaits you! We want you, our readers, to be able to fill that Kindle, tablet or E-reader you got for Christmas, with fabulous reads to take you through 2015. The Quest is so much fun! Who doesn’t love searching for treasure? The ULTIMATE READING QUEST is about finding books that are “perfectly” suited to your reading taste by clicking on choices. To thank you for participating, the authors have decided to give away oodles of prizes for free! Enter your name to win Amazon cards and free books from authors! Plus a whole store of treasured books are just waiting to be discovered by you!

Enjoy your journey as you travel through the QUEST! Don’t forget to enter the raffle on the first page of the Quest. And please leave comments or questions for the authors of the Quest. We would love to hear from you. What are you waiting for? Click on the button above or below to get started on your QUEST for the next ULTIMATE READ!



Cyber Monday Giveaway

Looking for great gifts for the book lovers on your Christmas list? Sign up today for my newsletter and you are entered to win a free book from one of my fabulous indie author friends.

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As a bonus, you’ll be one of the first to know about the release date for my brand new book series coming this winter and the new Adopt-an-Author program I’m collaborating on with You won’t want to miss it. Sign up today and stay tuned for exciting news from

The Fussy Librarian

Fussy LibrarianWow! Have you noticed lately how many ebooks there are to choose from? It’s insane! The hard part is knowing if the book you choose is going to be one you actually love or one you wish was a paperback so that you could burn it or, at the very least, throw it across the room in disgust.

This week I discovered a new favorite site: The Fussy Librarian. You are going to LOVE this! Here’s the blurb from their site:

With millions of books out there, it can be time consuming to find the good stuff. We can help! Only The Fussy Librarian remembers what genres you like and your preferences about language, violence and sexual content. Like only cozy mysteries? We’ll only send you an email when there’s a mystery that doesn’t have sex, violence or profanity. Read everything? We’ll send you lots of suggestions each day. It’s that easy!

Isn’t that awesome? OH! I forgot the best part – It’s FREE!!!! All you have to do to sign up is go to the website and enter your email address. Choose your content preferences and hit submit. Each week you’ll see a new list of ebooks chosen just for you. It’s a reader’s best friend.

You don’t want to miss any of their hot summer reads. So, hurry over to Fussy Librarian now and get signed up now! And don’t forget to share this great tip with all of your book-loving friends because sharing is caring.


CIR Anniversary Sale

Happy Anniversary to the coolest book blog on the block! Clean Indie Reads is a happy corner of the worldwide web where readers can find a delicious mix of genres without all the gore and gratuitous sex. The site has been growing like wildfire since it opened last year and to celebrate, we’re having a sale! Come find a few new favorites and tell your friends. This is a one day only sale, so hurry over there now before it’s gone.

CIR anniversary sale

Psstt! Tell your friends about this fabulous sale by clicking on one of the share buttons below. Thank you for supporting authors like me :)

The Book Hangover

book hangoverUgh. Today has been so weird. I finally decided what my problem is: new book hangover. Yep. That’s what it is. I spent all weekend working like mad to get through the revision process for my new book (coming this summer!) and at 8:42 last night I finally hit send on that sucker. It is now in the very capable hands of my top secret beta readers and I can rest easy.

Except that I can’t. *sigh*

I hardly slept at all last night and then I spent most of the day wandering from project to project, from FB to Twitter and back again. What a terrible waste of a beautiful day! I’m just sick over it. But for some reason I can’t seem to focus. And that’s when it hit me: Book Hangover.

There’s only one way to cure a book hangover. You have to pour yourself into another book. I think I’ll read a regency era novel and soak up some of that deliciously intricate language so that I can pour it into my main character’s dialogue in the final rewrite. Then, maybe I’ll invest a few hours into my favorite online game, racing around beautiful fantasy forests and searching through old villages for useful artifacts. Then, I’ll take all of that inspiration and pour it into my next book project: Light series book 3, The Light Within.

Have you ever had a book hangover? How did you get your groove back?