Busy Little Holiday Bees

December 13, 2013

I feel like a chicken running around without my head. This time of year seems to always be so busy, but I never feel like I’ve accomplished much. From trying to do all the shopping, the cleaning, the wrapping, the decorating, and getting in time with family and friends, there’s not much time left for writing.

And that would be fine if I didn’t have a deadline. My first book with HQN as Sara Arden is due in two days. TWO DAYS. I’m so nervous about it because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever written before. It’s small town romance. I won’t say it’s sweet, it’s a little spicy. Like Mexican Hot Chocolate. Just a bit of  red pepper for flavor. It’s taking a lot out of me to write it. I mean, I invest in all of my characters, but these two people have wrung me dry. I find myself sitting at the computer and sniffing as I type. Then you throw the holiday goodness on top of that, well, I’m a mess.

So let’s hear your favorite funny holiday traditions. Elf on a Shelf? Ugly Sweater Contest?

This year mine was signing my daughter up for a call from Santa. She hung up on him because she thought he was a predator and reported it to me immediately. The look on her face was priceless. But I guess that’s what you get when you have parents and grandparents who are corrections officers.

What’s your favorite thing to do  during the season that makes you laugh?


8 Tips for Writing During the Holidays

November 28, 2012

Song of the Day: Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne

We’re all slaves to the grind. For those who celebrate the holidays, it is especially so around this time of year. Braving the malls, planning festivities, wrapping gifts, baking, visiting friends and family (including those you’d rather not), mailing greeting cards and packages, tree trimming, searching for the perfect holiday dress or ugly sweater—the list goes on and on. This on top of all the *INSERT QUOTATION MARK FINGER WAGS* regular responsibilities we bear to our families, jobs, and home. It can all be overwhelming.

So who has time to write?

Here are 8 tips to keep the home fires burning, so to speak.

Set a realistic goal. It can be 100 words a day, 5,000 words for the month, or editing a chapter a week. A little can go a long way in the end. Whatever works for you. The important thing is to do something writerly, regularly.

Waiting for the cookies to bake? Before the next batch goes in, list the next chapter’s plot points.

Caught in line for gift wrap, post office, or customer service? Use your phone’s note pad feature to jot down story ideas, a dialogue exchange, or transitional paragraph. Don’t have a Smartphone, or ,if you are like me and still learning how to use it? Keep a small note pad with you.

Waking up early or going to bed late is laughable. But for some, it is conceivable. Let’s face it. You’re not getting any sleep. You’re too strung out on finding that perfect gift for that one person (read: in-law) who is impossible to please.

Use a voice recorder to capture your brilliant prose while you gift wrap.

Be inspired. The holidays bring out the best and worst (think Black Friday freak-out frenzy buying) in people. Watch and listen to those around you. From everyday heroes to Grinchy no-goods, great attributes abound for a cast of characters. Also take time to really appreciate the magic and beauty of the season. Record details or how you feel when you see a magnificent snow-covered landscape, a yard decorated Griswold-style, dressed storefront windows, children laughing on an ice rink, the twinkling lights wrapped around a palm tree on an empty beach. Don’t let that emotion or setting get lost in the hustle and bustle.

Change your venue. Got a half-hour to spare? (Stop laughing, it could happen.) Head to a coffee shop, get comfortable on a park bench, sit in your car, or wherever is not a normal place for you to write. Sounds odd, I know. But sometimes the change stirs the muse. Pop in your headphones, open your notebook or laptop, and give yourself over to writing.

Be held accountable! This is a fantasmic trick to use any time of year. Grab a few writing buddies, either in person or virtually, set your goals, and report your progress. It is amazing how productivity increases when you have to answer to your unforgiving friends.

Okay, so not everyone is a type-A personality like myself. But even I don’t manage all these tips at once. However, I adapt to the ones that work best for me. And I bet your ugly holiday sweater you can, too.

What do you do to keep writing during the holidays? Please share!