Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Permission to Reboot

My view from a fave walking trail in NC
Man. I'm tired.

Not physically, no. Not really emotionally - at the moment, I'm pretty much steady as she goes, Captain. Not spiritually, either. My relationship with Papa God is strong and sustaining.

So what is it? Why am I - the writer who usually bounds into new projects with both feet - procrastinating about starting my new book? How come my brain starts to shut down when I pull up a blank computer screen and stare at two intimidating words plastered across the top of the page: New Book.

(I learned long ago to write something when I'm facing a new title-less project just to start the creative flow. Sometimes the title doesn't break through until the piece is completed.)

So why is the flow dammed? And why do I have to fight all this guilt and embarrassment that I'm wasting time and being - GASP! - the Debbie-Coty-world version of the terrible awful (to borrow a delightful phrase from The Help) ... unproductive?

Been pondering on that lately and after much soul-searching, have finally come to the conclusion that it's okay to lay low for a while. To chill. To turn off and reboot. To intentionally turn away from the blank page and live life in real time without rushing away to my little writing cave every time something sparks a writing frenzy.

As ridiculous as it probably sounds to normal people (yep, we all know writers fall in the abnormal category), writerly types generally never clock out. Never. We're self-trained to always be on the alert for story possibilities, and to not let those elusive gems get away. Strike while the iron's hot. Jot your idea down on toilet paper, your palm, or a gum wrapper if necessary, and then follow-up with expansion of the idea into manuscript form as soon as possible.

For some inexplicable reason, writing my last book about fear really sapped my creative energy. It was the most difficult book I've ever written. I'm not sure why, except perhaps that interviewing dozens of people about their worst fears gave the Great Deceiver ample opportunity to do a wicked number on me. I developed a fear of fear. Or at least of writing about it.

So now I find that I need a bit more extended period than I'm used to in order to unwind and regroup. Papa has shown me that a longer recovery period will be required than the two weeks I had at the end of each of my previous five books before diving into the next one. 

Now I have to convince myself that not working on a manuscript is not being unproductive. (That unspeakable word is even hard for me to write.) Working on resting is equally productive. It's actually good for me. Not only will I be re-energized, I'll have renewed perspective on the business of living. It will give me something compelling to write about from outside the confines of a computer chair.

At least Benjamin Franklin thought so when he penned the immortal, "Do things worth the writing."

But not-thinking-at-all isn't such a bad thing either. Maybe just hanging out and being is sometimes superior to doing, as hard as it is for us production-oriented folks to comprehend.

My writer friend Rick Christensen at recently wrote a very touching blog post about the importance of lingering, and the impact a friend of his who was known for intentional lingering to enjoy every last ounce of a setting or situation had on Rick after the friend passed away.

Rick's point was that lingering is not the same as loitering. Or laziness. Or heaven forbid ... unproductivity. It is, in fact, quite the opposite. It's experiencing life to the fullest. Abundantly. Bursting at the seams.

I realized how very little lingering, or pausing, or reflecting I do in the course of an average day.

So I hereby give myself permission - and you too (if you need permission from someone) - to linger now and then. And to take it a step further and actually turn off and reboot. Take a cyber Sabbath. Or a week. Or even a month if you need it. And see if that dam doesn't crumble from the resulting gush. 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Race is On

It's three months before the Feb 1 debut of my new F3 book (my pet name for Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate) but things are already revving up on the PR front.

Yep, most folks don't realize how early the wheels must start turning in order to be ready to squeal your tires in break-neck, drag-racing style on release day.

Galley edits are now completed (the galley is the final, final copy before the formatted book goes to press). Also called an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) by some publishers, the galley appears exactly as the printed book will - there really should be no mistakes at this point if the author and editors have done their jobs well. At least in theory.

Um, when that actually happens to me - no mistakes, I mean - I'll eat my favorite hat. 

The galley goes to the author for one last fine-tooth-comb look-see, so that he or she can't complain if a faux pas slips through into print. Usually, a minimum of three different editors have had at it before the galley stage, but sometimes boo-boo's still make it through. The author is the final check-rein.

The buck stops here, bro.  

Sometimes galleys or ARC's are sent to reviewers by the publisher, or in the case of self-published or small press books, by the author, if they are desired before the actual printed book will be available. This way glowing reviews hit the public eye right about the same time the book does, so a nice, excited buzz develops, which hopefully parlays into sales.  

My press releases are already going out, thanks to my industrious publicist, Audra Jennings, with Litfuse Publishing Group. Audra penned an awesome combination of  intro, teaser, basic book availability/purchase info, and suggested interview questions that she'll now (after my final approval) send to a vast array of contacts in her network.

These contacts include radio, internet, and TV hosts, magazines (print and online), interviewers, book reviewers, book dealers and sellers, and whomever else in the public specter that might be remotely interested in knowing about my upcoming book. And probably a few who aren't. They then contact Audra to schedule interviews. My last three books have each garnered an average of 25 interviews, quite a few excellent book reviews, and numerous speaking invitations.

So my job, over the upcoming three months before D-Day, is to compile clever answers to interview questions and prepare a new speaking presentation (or two) based on Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate, so that I'm ready to take off when that flare gun fires.

Gentlemen, start your engines!