Write in the Midst of a Busy Life (Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo)

Even all these years in, I still go through periods when I think it: that I’m too tired, too frazzled, too worried about something to be able to write properly.

And then I tell myself to just shut up.

Everybody works differently, and there’s no one right way. But for me, I do better if I carve some time out each day. I no longer swear by daily marathon writing sessions that used to make up the bulk of my day. I just plain can’t write for ten-plus hours a day. There’s too much going on in a busy household. Dinners and dog-walking and lawn mowing and license plate renewing and…

You know. You have all the same stuff to do.

But I’m better off if I carve out something, like I said. Half an hour, even. There’s usually some section of the day that’s quieter, even in the most chaotic of households. Maybe really early in the morning. Maybe around lunch. Maybe mid-morning, after you drop the kids off at school. Maybe in the afternoon, while the kids are doing homework and before you have to put dinner on. In my own house, it’s post-dinner. I can actually get a few hours of work in, between about seven and eleven (when my dog needs his last round of meds for the day).

When you write in short bursts, the hardest part is keeping your train of thought going. The best way I’ve found to keep my momentum going?

Write Out of Order

Write scenes. Don’t worry about the order of events. Don’t worry about the narrative thread linking it all together. Just write scenes. Action scenes. Love scenes. Scenes of characters meeting. Write all the pivotal events.

Do a NaNoWriMo-Style Challenge

It’s coming up anyway, but why not do your own NaNoWriMo-style challenge? Tell yourself you’ll write 40-50K words of scenes in a month. The point of NaNoWriMo is to just get it down, right? Great! Draft your scenes. Do it in a month. Then slide the pieces (ahem, chapters) into place, linking them all with a narrative thread. (Tip: This part works much easier in a writing program like Scrivener. I haven’t drafted a book in Word in ages.)

The Point Is…

Every house is loud. And busy. Laundry baskets are always full and cars are always leaking oil. There are always repairs and chores. It’s true for everyone, even professional writers. There is absolutely no perfect time to write. There just isn’t. But there are plenty of great snatches of time in the midst of all the chaos, when you can write some surprisingly lovely stuff.

Gus the Epileptic Pekingese (Life’s Greatest Blessings)

This is Gus. Seen here on his favorite deck chair, which comes complete with a lookout hole:

Gus is not the easiest pet I’ve owned. I’ve mentioned it elsewhere online, but he has idiopathic epilepsy. We had to start medication in August, following a severe seizure that became an emergency rush to the vet.

He is, though, the friendliest pet I’ve ever had. I know far more of my neighbors than I did a couple of years ago. He’s made the roughest parts of the pandemic far more manageable. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on life; in many ways, I feel like I’m more a part of life than I ever was before.

Maybe we always do wind up learning more–about love and acceptance and commitment–from the harder four-legged companions. And maybe, in the end, what they show us is that “hard” is actually relative, that love isn’t love without a little risk, and that sometimes, life’s greatest blessings come in the most unlikely little packages.

Just ‘Cause – Writing Projects that Bring Joy

I took a break from my novel last week to write a short story.

‘Cause I wanted to.

There is something so wonderful about writing a just-’cause project. No concerns about word count or genre or marketing. A project you want to write. It charges the batteries.

And more: it gives you a chance to play with structure and voice. It gives you a chance to grow.

Every project you write changes you as a writer, if only a little bit.

If you are stuck with your WIP, take a day to write a just-’cause piece. Something for yourself.

It will teach you, unlock some door you didn’t know was locked before.

And, because you’ve grown a bit as a writer, it can help you tackle your WIP again.

New Release (& New Series!): Ruby’s Story

I wrapped my Ruby’s Place Christmas Collection last year. But it wasn’t long after publishing it that I already missed it.

I started thinking more and more about Ruby herself: How did she come to Sullivan? What’s her backstory? Who is she really? There were just so many questions that hadn’t yet been answered.

All those questions became a book (and a new series)!

Ruby’s Story opens on a Christmas Eve, as Ruby finds herself at the end of her dance career. On a whim, she heads back to her girlhood hometown. Once in Sullivan, Ruby relives her past and the love she lost there. Will memory drive her to make a leap of faith, changing the course of her life, and that of the entire town of Sullivan forever?

Ruby’s Story is a prequel to the Ruby’s Place Christmas Collection, but I’m also planning for this to be the first in a new series: Ruby’s Regulars. Each new installment will focus on another Sullivanite, and how they became one of Ruby’s tried-and-trues. In fact, Ruby’s Story also focuses on Ruby’s very first regular (but you’ll just have to snag yourself a copy to find out who it is).

The book’s available in print and e-form. (Well, it’s available in print via Amazon; I distribute the wide-release print through Ingram, and they’ve already warned that the end of the year’s gonna be a slow one. So paperbacks at B&N etc. are forthcoming; it’ll just take a while to go live.)

In the meantime, I’m so delighted to share this new book–and thrilled to continue on with Ruby’s Place tales!

Amazon

B&N

Apple

Kobo

Beat the Summer Slump with a Free Read

It’s been a rough week at the Schindler house. My dog Gus has a seizure disorder, and he had a terrible seizure earlier this week. We had to rush him to the vet for an emergency visit. He’s on a new medication and seems to be doing better. We’ll be seeing our vet again for a recheck next week.

There’s really nothing like an unexpected health catastrophe to completely take over your every thought. I spent most of the past week watching over my little guy.

I was just getting back to work, Gus at my side on the couch, when it occurred to me that we’ve hit the really slumpy part of the summer. It’s miserably hot, nerves are settling in about the new year, questions are raging about what the pandemic will make the next year look like, etc., etc.

So I wanted to offer a little something fun: A free short story for the kids.

WORDQUAKE is so short, it makes a great read-aloud. If your young reader needs a quick listening exercise, you can be the reader. If they need to work on their own reading skills, you can let them read to you. They can even read out loud to their own dog. (Gus often listens to my first drafts!)

It’s also a great story for young readers to review. Please do get them to write a line or two and post it as a review on your e-retailer account. I would love to hear what your reader thinks of it:

WORDQUAKE is available at all major e-retailers:

Amazon

Apple

B&N

Kobo

Jutoh VS. Scrivener: Best Writing Program

I’ve been a fan of Scrivener since I started indie publishing. I even posted a piece on formatting (compiling) your book with Scrivener a few years ago (it still works with Scrivener 2).

But when I got a new laptop, I downloaded Scrivener 3…and man, was I disappointed. Much of what I loved about Scrivener for the drafting process is still there, but the compile. What a mess. Seriously.

I’d been hearing indie authors swear by a new (to me) program for a while, and decided to give it a shot:

To a great extent, Jutoh is really similar to Scrivener, especially if you don’t find yourself using all of Scrivener’s fancy cork boards and icons and drafting options. For example, Jutoh includes an area on the left side of the screen with a list of all your chapters (similar to Scrivener’s binder). In this area, it’s possible to drag and drop chapters into a different order (though I’ll confess I find moving chapters in Scrivener to be more fluid / easier). You can use multiple screens in Jutoh during editing (I frequently make use of the split-screen feature in Scrivener). It’s also affordable: $45 for a one-time download (no subscription).

And, maybe most importantly: Jutoh’s compile feature is a breeze (especially compared to Scrivener’s). So easy, in fact, that there’s really not much instruction I can give. Put your chapters together as you’d like them to look in a finished product, then choose your output format, and click “Compile.” Seriously. That’s it.

I absolutely recommend Jutoh for compiling your ebooks (it’s even easier than Scrivener 2). But there’s just something about the drafting process that I find more compatible to Scrivener (though drafting is absolutely possible in Jutoh).

Here’s my current workflow:

Draft in Scrivener – Compile into Word – Import into Jutoh – Complete Global Edits – Compile into OpenDocument – Save as .docx – Import into InDesign – Do Final Edits in Jutoh (for ebooks) and InDesign (for print).

I will say, I’m so, so, so, so, so glad to have found Jutoh. It’s an utter lifesaver in terms of compiling ebooks. Though I’m using both Scrivener and Jutoh right now, if I had to choose only one program, I’d go with Jutoh. I’ll definitely be using nothing else to compile for the foreseeable future!

Write Every Day – Good Advice or Bad?

I used to give this advice pretty frequently. Lately, I’ve been backing away from it. Many authors I know think it’s detrimental. Who can write every single day? Someone too young to have any responsibilities? The independently wealthy?

To be completely honest, I don’t spend as many hours as I used to writing. That is, I rarely spend eight to ten hours in a single day doing nothing but writing. I don’t have children, but I have a full household, with parents, an epileptic dog, etc. Dinners to cook, lawns to mow, home repairs to finalize, bills to pay, groceries to buy, budgets to manage…

So, in short, my days are like anyone other adult’s: packed with a daily to-do list that has nothing to do with putting words on a page.

Which brings me back to my initial question: Is “write every day” good advice?

I’m torn.

Here’s why:

It’s important to make writing a habit, or at least learn to prioritize it.

If you don’t, it’s incredibly easy to suddenly realize that weeks (or months) have passed, and you haven’t written a single word.

You need to stop expecting your world to be perfect in order to write.

It never will be. The lawn mower will be busted, somebody in your house will be sick, the garbage disposal will be malfunctioning, and the laundry will still need to be done. In the midst of all that, you can still write. Trust me.

That being said, there are definitely times when what’s happening in your house will take all of your attention, or all of your heart. Those times in which a family member is seriously injured or gravely ill, for example. We all go through life-altering events in which writing is the last thing that should be on your mind.

But for the usual, daily type of chaos? You need to learn to figure out how to carve some time for writing. It’s a little like carving out time for exercise. I do a ton of writing at night, usually somewhere between about seven and eleven. My house is the quietest during this time. I stretch out on the couch with my laptop and pound the keyboard. You wouldn’t believe the amount of writing I can get done during this time. Often, I can get as much done as I used to writing all day long!

Don’t think that writing every day means it has to be all day.

Again, I write in the evening hours. You might do better getting up early. Or carving out time during your lunch hour. You can write on your phone. You can dictate chapters while cooking or walking on your treadmill or folding that unending laundry. You’d be surprised how the pages add up half an hour at a time.

But with that being said,

If you miss a day, it doesn’t mean you failed.

It’s not all or nothing. You are not less of an author if you can’t write every single day. Maybe your household or schedule is such that you can write for eight hours one day a week. Or three hours two days a week. It all totally works. But I do think we often discount the small snatches of time. You don’t have to clear your desk for several hours straight in order to write well.

So where does that leave this particular piece of advice? Write every day, but with caveats? Maybe.

Really, though, like all pieces of advice, I think it’s important to see why the advice is being given. It’s about figuring out what the goal of the advice is supposed to be. And then learning to tailor it to fit your own life.

Buy My Books Direct

Did you know you can buy several of my ebooks direct? I use Payhip to facilitate delivery of the files, but each purchase goes directly to me. I’ve placed the entirety of my Lake of the Woods Love Stories and The Funny Thing Is… series on Payhip.

You can find my Payhip store here: https://payhip.com/HollySchindler

Some Fun Features of Payhip:

I was able to link my Payhip and Bookfunnel accounts. This means that when you purchase, you’ll be given the opportunity to download from either Payhip or Bookfunnel (a feature I thought many readers would appreciate, since I’m already distributing ARCs via Bookfunnel, and it’s a familiar site).

The first books are free…plus. You’ll notice the first book in each series (Playing Hurt and Funny Meeting You Here) are listed as $0.00+. That means the books are free, but you can offer a “tip” if you would prefer.

Subsequent books are discounted. At the end of the first book, you’ll find a coupon code for 25% off the next book in the series. I’ll be adding new books to each series here (and hopefully additional series as well), so each subsequent book purchased at Payhip will always be discounted!

You can download your file type of choice. Either .mobi for Kindles or .epubs for other devices.

Got a question about purchasing direct? Shoot me a message here at the blog or at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

New Humor Release: Funny You Should Mention That

This one was just a blast to put together: short, and fun. I chuckled through writing it, and I hope you chuckle through reading it.

The book is live at all the usual channels:

Kindle

B&N

Kobo

Apple

To celebrate, I’ve set my first collection of funny shorts to free.

Kindle

B&N

Kobo

Apple

I hope you love reading these as much as I loved writing them!