On writing and parenthood and change

What is it about writing that seems to make it different from other arts. Or, maybe, it’s not so different. If a song writer goes even two weeks without putting words to the page, does the spirit or “muse” or whatever you would like to call it, begin to fade? That’s how it is with me and, judging from numerous interviews I’ve read with some very famous authors, that seems to be the case. You need to write every day to keep the words coming, or else they dry up and leave you and are difficult to find again.

I’ve found in my relatively few years writing novels that to go without writing, even for, say, two weeks, will put quite a crimp in my ability to then re-start the engine and get going again when  I finally do sit down to write.

It’s especially difficult to end a project, such as my recent work, Rogue Blood, and to begin a new one, Gio. Of course, I already have the opening and a few extra scenes for Gio written. This is actually worse! Now I have to re-read what I wrote, probably more than a month ago, and get back inside this book, this universe, these characters’ heads. Not such a simple task, I assure you.

Beginning a new book is always an exciting time. It means that you’ve completed a book, for one. It also means it’s time to start something new–very exciting! And yet, it’s always very slow going that entire first act. Always. I don’t know how to make the words start to fly away at my finger tips. I just don’t. Maybe I never will be able to. We shall see. Give me a few years, then I’ll have this post to look back on and compare.

And it’s not that my opening isn’t fast-paced and excellent. Open any of my books, namely Jace, The Loneliest Alpha, Rogue Blood, Take Me, The Fallen King, Ties That Bind, Tempting Gray, and so on, and you’ll find some amazing openers. After all, this is what makes a reader want to continue reading my book, so my beginnings are often explosive with emotion/humor/intrigue/violence, whatever it takes! And yet, still, writing the entire first act is this tentative runway walk on eggshells. Every single time.

I was supposed to get writing done Monday, but because of baby things and a job thing with my husband, I got zero out of my minimum daily requirement done. Tuesday was hardly any better. I wrote about 1,000 words. Yikes! I had to clean up and re-write the beginning of my book. It was like reading something almost alien to me, since I’d written those words at least a month ago. It’s like trying to fit back into a suit that you’re too fat for, trying to squeeze and push yourself in all the right places until you feel that certain “click”. The, ah-ha, moment of comfort comes, of relaxation.

“Now I know where I am.” I think I did finally find that point, but by then I’m starving and it’s dinner time, so I have to stop. I have a family to feed. Do I get to go back to writing after I eat? Nope. Not even close. Baby gets tired at 8. He needs me to put him to sleep and stay very close by. He’s very high-needs and demanding and colicky. That’s okay, no worries. We are dealing with it and things, generally, are better.

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So today I will (after writing this post) turn off my wi-fi (this is a great way to get writing done for all you new writers!), maximize Gio in my processor and get going. I always have a minimum daily word count. Thanks to Monday and Tuesday’s lackluster endeavors, I am now 5k in the hole that I need to make up. 8k if you include what I need to write today. This is both intimidating and motivating. Mostly scary.

When you’re in the groove and the words are flying and the ideas and pace surging by swiftly, I can write a thousand words per thirty minutes. On average, due to distractions, I think I usually do closer to 1k / hour. Still not bad, but that means I’d need to write for 8 hours to get my goal done today. Not awful either, in fact, you can get a lot of work done writing for that period of time. However…with the baby that seems like a distant possibility. Perhaps I am simply being too negative, though?

Next week my husband begins a new job. No longer will he be working from home. My rock, my support, my help with baby will be gone for a significant period of time. Now I will have this somewhat difficult baby to care for 8+ hours a day, five days a week on my own. Am I terrified? A wee bit. I want to be better.  Really, I want to be perfect. It’s my competitive nature and need to do things “right”. I want to never lose my patience or temper with my baby. I want to always know what my baby needs or wants at any moment. I often think to myself “there’s no way other mothers from other parts of the world are dealing with a baby who can’t fall asleep without motion!” I know they are out there, but it still feels very lonely and depressing. He’s my baby, I think, I should be able to handle him. But, what about the times when I can’t?

I will rely on my confidence, which is somewhere buried inside me, to take care of this baby and somehow find a way to work during the day. If I can at least complete my goal word count of 3k (not even much by writing standards!) during the daytime while baby plays or naps, then I should be OK. That doesn’t include taking care of business necessities: emails, social media, whatever. So long as I can make a way to write every day with that baby, then things will be OK.

Even as I write this, I finally, after much screaming (perhaps by both of us), got this baby to fall asleep. He literally has one eye half open. Right now. Never quite falling asleep. Never completely relaxed while napping. Lord have mercy, I don’t know why. Just go to sleep! I want to scream. It’s safe. It’s OK! I can tell him that until I’m blue in the face and still it won’t make a lick of difference. He’s going to do what he wants. Baby be as baby does. And he is so darned beautiful I just want to cry looking at him.

Motherhood. Parenthood. Rough and fulfilling and insane all at the same time.

Now I have to get back into this book and create some awesomeness.

p.s.

by time I finished writing this blog, baby is now staring at me wide awake. Two hours of difficulty and so much crying and screaming for about thirty minutes of sleep. Oh my god. I’m going insane, aren’t I? I must be. I must be.

 

The Top 7 Best Free Sources for Authors

Hey everyone! I’ve decided to put together a list of free resources that I use. Some of these may be helpful for writers or anyone active with a website, blog, or other social media. I hope that some of these sites can help you too. Why only seven and not a nice, whole number like five or ten? Well, because that’s how many I came up with!

Both of these sites do the same job. They take your long URL link and shorten into something that works much better for Tweets, Facebook posts, or anywhere where you’d prefer a shortened link. I just started using this method for my tweets and I love it! I find it makes posting links in Facebook posts much cleaner, too.

URLs shortened

Mailchimp is a great website. They offer a mailing system if you want to send out a newsletter. I mail out a monthly one to fans and Mailchimp makes it easy. Mailchimp allows you to customize your form then either through a link or embedding code, you can have people sign up for your newsletter. You can also design an autoresponder that mails automatically when someone signs up as well which is a useful. When you’re ready to make a newsletter you create a new campaign. All you do is write your newsletter, then at a click of a button Mailchimp sends out your newsletter to everyone who’s signed up. Easy, efficient, and I love it!

Mailchimp sign up example

I use social media icons for my website. I recently integrated media icons and I found an excellent source that offers free icons; however, there are many free icon sets out there for you to use. You can even go directly to places like Twitter and Facebook to create different kinds of shareable buttons. Social Media Icons allow you to offer your web visitors a chance to share your web page.

Social Media Icons

Widgetbox is a nifty little site that lets you create photo slideshows or countdowns to your book’s release, among other things. If you want a shareable widget that has your book cover on it with the countdown to its release day, then this is the widget for you.

Countdown widget for a book

If you are an author and you haven’t utilized Goodreads then I’d consider it. Goodreads is author friendly and offers many perks. Once you create an account and add all of your books to your page, you can customize it by adding social media links, your bio, any videos you have and more. Goodreads offers a place to have paperback giveaways, start discussions on any of your titles, or invite people to events. All of these services are free and it’s a great resource to use.

Goodreads author page

A great tool for an author (or possibly even a cover designer or editor) to use to get anonymous feedback from your “clients”. With Survey Monkey you can create, design, and ask any questions you like. I have had book surveys on my website for a long time now. I’ve noticed that people do use them, though not every day. I only check on it weekly. It’s usually used by avid fans and since they anonymously send the information they are more likely to be honest. I like to ask questions such as: What did you not like about [book name/series name/my work]? I can sometimes get some honest answers that help me to rethink things I do in order to make myself a better writer.

Example of a survey question

Rafflecopter is common among review sites and bloggers. This is the site to use if you want to host a giveaway. You can customize it (though to a greater extent if you purchase it) so that readers/fans/anyone can enter to win what ever you’re giving away. In return you can ask them to leave a comment, tweet, or like something on Facebook. I have used these to give away ebooks before (and erotic cookies!). You can set the start and end date and the program will choose winners for you. It’s very easy to learn and to use. Also, many readers are used to seeing giveaways in this format so it’s nice to use something that people are familiar with.

A rafflecopter giveaway example

Well that’s my list, folks. I hope you learned about a new tool you might want to try. If you have any free resources that you like to use then leave a comment and share.

Happy reading,

T. A. Grey

www.tagrey.com

Please Don’t Pirate My Book Day

You must be asking yourself what is Please Don’t Pirate My Book Day. Don’t bother checking your calendars because this is a brand new holiday and it happens to be today FEBRUARY 6th!

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Now, before I get into my thoughts and experience with book pirates I must divert your attention to the man who made this great day possible–Chuck Wendig. Yes, that’s his real name, and it’s awesome. Wendig. Is he part wendigo–we may never know.

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After reading Wendig’s 25 Thoughts on Book Piracy, he suggested we have a special day for us author types to discuss book pirating. He is probably doing this as a joke on all of us (because he got us to do this) while sitting back laughing his ass off. However, I thought he made some great points in his article and you should check it out (especially if you love raunchy humor). I know I do. 😉

WHAT IS THIS BOOK PIRATING YOU SPEAK OF

See book pirating is when there’s a book or author you want to try, but you want to read the books without paying for them. See, simple. So you go to some sort of torrent/file sharing site and click download while hoping you don’t get some crazy spyware/virus. If it works then you give yourself a fist bump and start reading. Let’s say you even like the book. In that case you may go back and decide to download the rest of this person’s series or other books. It’s awesome ’cause it’s free!

So, where does the problem come in? Well the problem comes in when people are getting my book for free. Now there’s a lot of debate going on out there in the Internet ether on whether it actually effects authors that people pirate their work. On one hand it’s possible to make a life-long fan out of someone; while on the other, they are “sort of” stealing. Now, if everyone was to pirate my books then I’d have to go back to applying at Starbucks, Kohls, and Lowes because I wouldn’t be able to write for a living any more. However, if only a small percent of people do it then I could possibly be making a fan who might praise my glorious romance novels to all their friends and family. Then, if I’m lucky, one of them might actually buy the book. So, see, it could work out with a sale.

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Personally I don’t understand why anyone would pirate some of the books they do. Chains of Frost which gets pirated is a full-length novel, has great reviews, and is only $.99. Literally, unless I gave it away for free (then people wouldn’t need to pirate it, huh?) I couldn’t sell it for any cheaper. I think a dollar to read an entire novel is pretty awesome but that’s just my opinion.

NOW FOR THE HONEST TRUTH

I once was a book pirate. I used to hang my head in shame for doing it because I felt like I was betraying some of my favorite authors. I would try to find the books at the library, but where I live the romance section of the library is literally half a row of books. Seriously, it’s a shame. Most of these books were Christian romances–no thanks. Anyone whose read my books should see why I couldn’t settle for an inspirational romance. *gag* Why did I do this? Because I was one of those really broke college students. To spend $6.99 + tax on a single paperback would have hurt my already tight budget. Since then I’ve tried to make up for my ways by re-purchasing the author’s books that I liked and by continuing to follow and support them. Has it relieved my guilt? Yeppers! 🙂

Well then, where do I stand on this whole piracy thing? Fact is, I’m unsure. If someone needs to escape into some books because they’re too broke to buy them I’m all right with that. If they’re doing it just because they can (when they have .99 cents to spare) then I think that’s grimy. For the most part, I try to ignore it by telling myself that at least someone wants to read my books.

Let me know what you think.

Happy reading,

T. A. GREY

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