It’s A Crazy Time…that’s why we have nutcrackers, trees, mooses, and bears in wreaths on our mantel.
The holidays are upon us. The year is rushing to an end, and our thoughts are on the right present for the right person, yummy food (overeating at parties), dieting (next year), exercise (please God let there be time AND no injuries), and all those projects we didn’t get to this year, along with the guilt for not getting them done.
And then there’s the writing schedule, as well. I’ve been looking at my year, and trying to plan my writing/publishing schedule. I mean, down to the word count per day. I’m ambitious, I admit it; but for the first time, I’m convinced that I can do this writing gig. I just took a class by Delilah Devlin and Elle James titled Writing 50 Books A Year (yeah, it’s a tongue in cheek title) and they gave me SO MANY DETAILED spreadsheets, I’m in geek heaven.
Those spreadsheets have given me permission to plan. Permission to plunk down big chunks of time (conferences, vacations) and littler chunks of time (see Dad) and all the projects I want to complete next year, and figure out just how I’m going to do it all.
I’ve decided I’m not going to share my desires for next year’s publishing schedule; I know people who publish a heck of a lot more than I do, and some who don’t publish as much as I do, so there’s really no point in sharing those details until next New Year’s Eve Retrospective on the year.
For the first time, I’ll be planning – really planning – my writing year. With months up on the wall, and inputting my daily word count, and everything. Life is exciting, and my dreams are within my grasp. It’s just a matter of pushing aside fear, that little voice that says “you’re going for too much,” and forging on anyway.
In other news, I’m over at Linda Carroll-Bradd’s blog, where she interviewed me. Go on and take a look – I’m still popping in every now and then, though the blog was last week. (My friend Mary Beth Bass wrote the most awesomest comment ever!)
I’ll try to get some wine picks in for you for the holidays, and a garden post. I know I’m behind on those here, but I was on a deadline, you see. Right now, I’m deadline free (but that doesn’t mean I’m not writing!), and I’ll be back on deadline at the first of the year, so I’ll try to stockpile some blog posts.
One last thought to leave you with…even though it’s the holidays, and even though there are a million and one things to do and things that can (and do) go wrong, and even though there’s never enough time or money or energy to go around, do yourself a big, huge favor. Let go of the guilt, whatever kind you’re carrying. Live in the moment. Grab hold of and hug those you love. Express that love whenever possible, because you never know when it’s all just gonna go wrong.
Sending love and big, tight, shoulder-to-knee, rocking side-to-side hugs. And here’s our tree…
The Tree, 2014 And yes, there’s a bear on that tree. Do you see the snowflake fairy? Tom and I got her in Seattle in 1980…so long ago!
Have you read Christmas Star yet? If not, grab it…”A modern day, sweet as hot chocolate fairy tale…” And if you have, would you please leave me a review? Thanks! And my thanks to those who already have reviewed…you know who you are! xo
Dad at the San Diego Book Awards, June 21, 2014 Photo by Greg Cunningham
Today is an important day. It is my father, Chet Cunningham’s birthday. He’s 86 today.
A couple of weeks ago at Thanksgiving dinner, held at my niece & nephew’s house, his face lit up when he saw me and we hugged. He said he can never get enough hugs, and I believe him. As the kids – well, adults and young adults now – gathered in one room, their elders (oh my goodness, I’m an elder…) gathered in another. Dad and I cozied down on a comfy couch and talked about writing. I was having the devil of a time with the book I was currently writing, and he felt he wasn’t writing enough, either.
I need to get to 347 on the wall, he says. When I give him a confused smile, he nods. I’ve got 346 books published, need to get to number 347. Taking a long time. Glad I’m with Wolfpack Publishing, he says.
He says he only gets maybe an hour in the morning, but after lunch he’ll get in a good three hours of writing. After dinner, he will watch football, then head to his office for another hour before watching the ten o’clock news.
Five hours, he says, shaking his head. Not what I used to be able to do.* But I enjoy my naps.
That’s more than I get done, I tell him. His hands are in mine, and they feel so very
The hands that wrote the books. Summer, 2013
precious. The skin is thin, his veins bulge across the back, and his fingers are oddly shaped by arthritis. He catches me looking at them.
This one hurts, he says, rubbing his ring finger on his right hand. These other two, they don’t hurt anymore, but this one does. Except when I’m writing, then I don’t feel them at all. And he shakes his head.
That’s because the story catches you, and you forget about your aches and pains, I say. Me, too, Daddy.
My own fingers have been aching, when I’ve had a long day at work and then go home to write. I kiss his gnarled fingers and wonder if mine will look that way when I’m 85. I can’t even fathom that much time passing from right now.
He puts his forehead against mine. I’m gonna be 86 in a couple of weeks, he says.
I know. I’m so sorry we can’t come down to see you on your birthday, I tell him.
He shakes his head a bit. Both my parents died at 86. Then he gets a twinkle in his eye. I’m gonna beat them, he says.
My heart clutches just a little bit. I know you are, Daddy, I say. You’ve got to make it to at least 350 novels published.
Yeah. That’s the ticket, he says, and we laugh.
Happy birthday, Daddy. Here’s to book number 347, and may they all continue to sell.
A selfie with Dad – May, 2014
*Chet’s schedule, when I was in school, went something like this: write from 9:30am to noon, have lunch. Write from 1:00pm to 4:30pm, then come out and be with the family until after dinner. Write from 6:30pm to 11:00pm, then watch the news and wrap up with Johnny Carson.
He’s my hero.
Find his books…Pony Soldiers
Other books with Wolfpack Publishing
I love authors who touch my heart and soul, who make me think and grow with their words. One day I was hunting around the Boroughs Publishing Group’s website, checking out their products and looking for something to read, and I stumbled onto in the place where she fell by Mary Beth Bass. It being a Lunchbox® romance, it was bound to be short and at only .99, affordable.
But having bought it, I forgot about it until a few weeks later when I was perusing my Kindle, and the cover caught at me. And so I read this story on my lunch hour, and found myself so moved, so changed, that I had to write a review of it. And then I had to talk about it on my blog.
That’s when Mary Beth and I got to talking and becoming friends through Facebook, and through both of us being published by Boroughs. So I want to share my beautiful, talented, soulful friend and the magical world she inhabits.
CA: On your website, you talk about walking through the woods and memorizing poetry on an almost daily basis. How does poetry influence your writing?
MBB: When I first started hiking I used to think, this is great, but wouldn’t it be awesome if some beautiful-voiced, English-accented man was following me and reciting poetry. Kind of like a lyric lady’s maid with a voice like Benedict Cumberbatch. Needless to say I couldn’t quite make that happen. So I became my own Benedict Cumberbatch (without the butter-and-whisky voice). The cool thing about hiking and reciting is that concentrating on steep terrain and not tripping over rocks means I don’t worry that I’m doing the poem wrong. I found that I understood the poems much better than I would have from a place of stillness on the couch. Hmm, I didn’t really answer your question. Probably because I’m not sure how to answer it. I think poetry influences my writing the way everything influences writing. Something grabs a corner of your brain and makes a home there until it pops up in a book. Maude, the sister of the heroine in my young adult fantasy, everything you know, loves poetry. She was born in part from one of my favorite Keats’ poems The Eve of St. Agnes. Maude’s story doesn’t exactly follow the story of that poem but it echoes elements of it. The Eve of St. Agnes is gorgeous and sexy and deceptively dark. You should go read it right now, and imagine your voice-of-choice is reciting it. Over red wine in an old inn. In a snowstorm.
CA: I love Keats, but haven’t read him in a long time. I’ll get right on The Eve of St. Agnes, though… So, I’ve noticed on Facebook that you’re often championing local theater productions. I used to be an actress/dancer/director, and my husband is still vital in the business. How did you become so involved?
MBB: I wanted to be an actress and studied in some fancy-pants theatre schools but I realized soon after I graduated that I didn’t want that life. I love theatre. And I really love supporting other artists. Theatre is my favorite art form. It still feels like actual magic to me. I started occasionally acting again a few years ago. Last summer I was in an amazing production of The Tempest in the woods in a huge nature preserve. The show ended as night fell. Almost every actor I went to school with is a writer now. Or a lawyer.
CA: Oh, don’t I know it – acting, show biz, is a tough business and crumbles a lot of young people’s dreams, especially if they come out to Hollywood. Very few of the people I acted with 30 years ago are still doing it…okay, moving on or we’ll be here all night talking about theater! Tell me how being a parent has influenced your writing.
MBB: When I first started writing my kids were very young. On the way to the bus stop one morning my youngest son told me he couldn’t wait to see my name on a book someday. I decided then to write under my own name. People still assume if you’re writing romance you must be writing under a different name. My first book came out when my youngest was in kindergarten. He gave the book to all his teachers and his bus driver!
My daughter edited my first book when she was still in high school. (Don’t judge. If you’d seen her insightful peer-editing of her classmates’ work, you probably would have made her stay home from the Halloween party until she finished editing the manuscript you were submitting.) She interned at Soft Skull Press in college and is a freelance editor now. She also manages a restaurant in New York City and is awesome.
CA: Wow, how wonderful to get such support from your kids! Now, tell me. You call yourself a writer of “dreamy, lyrical, science fiction and fantasy romance novels for adults and teens.” The words dreamy, lyrical, and science fiction don’t usually go together. How did you come to realize that was a strength of yours?
MBB: Well, I’m pretty dreamy and lyrical by nature. I didn’t realize I was writing science fiction-ish stories until readers started pointing that out. That being said, I have a huge crush on science. My fantasy jobs are hacker or virus hunter. The hero of my work in progress, The Language of the Thread, is an eighteenth century astronomer who is working towards the discovery of Neptune, using mathematics. (Neptune was the first planet to be discovered that way.) The heroine of my first book, Follow Me, is a medical researcher and works covertly as a doctor in the early nineteenth century. I read medical journals from that time period and made up a disease. It was kind of awesome.
CAA: Okay, now I just want to sit you down with a margarita in your hand and talk science, lol! With all that going on, what is your next book about, and when will it be out?
MBB: My next book is All That We See. It’s the sequel to everything you know and picks up right where that story ends. Emma and Joe’s story continues in this book but the heroine of All That We See is Thalia Salic. I’m super excited about this book. It comes out this December.
CAA: Very cool! I have everything you know but, in my typical fashion, haven’t read it yet. I’ll be looking for All That We See. Thank you, so very much, for letting me pry into your life.
MBB: It was my pleasure. Thanks for the great questions!
Okay folks, so here’s where you can find Mary Beth Bass around the Internet. And do yourself a favor – do pick up in the place where she fell. You won’t regret it!