Wednesday, February 4, 2015

IWSG -- Under Pressure -- and Where's PK? MIA?

Hey there! Long time no write, eh? Click on the picture above to get to IWSG HQ and see all the participants. I've been a bit MIA on the ol' blog here as of late, but I'm still around and kickin'. Lots has happened over the last two months and I needed a bit of a blogging break.

For starters, my father-in-law lost his battle with cancer in December, about a week before Christmas. If you've been following this blog, you'll know that he was diagnosed with kidney cancer last May, and later they found it had spread to his lungs and brain. He fought as hard as he could and tried everything to rid his body of this ruthless infection, but in the end, it was just too far advanced.

He passed three days before his 70th birthday.

But the family is all doing well and nothing came as a surprise. The obvious deterioration brought on by the cancer left no confusion as to what surely awaited. My husband got to be there for his father's final days, and eventually, his final breath.

Life goes on for the rest of us, and during these last few weeks I've learned a few things about myself and my goals as a writer.

For one, I'm much happier and excited to write when I take the pressure off. In early 2014 I wrote a prequel to my Butterman series, as well as a sequel, and published both. I also met with Queena's mother and collected data and wrote the first half of her memoir, in addition to running a successful Kickstarter campaign.

I do not in any way feel I wasn't productive. On the contrary, I probably applied a teensy too much pressure, and by the end of the year, I was feeling it. I think it's natural to want your work to succeed so much that you pile on the pressure, but in the end, it has an adverse effect and I found myself wondering what it was all for ...

When someone close to us dies, it inevitably puts life in a new perspective, and for me, that meant slowing down to appreciate what I already have.

Secondly, I learned that I need other creative endeavors to stimulate me. Something happened to me after I published Induction Day and I sort of lost my writer's mojo. Not in a bad way though, because what occurred as a result is hours on end of handcrafting my pixies. By December I had enough to do two local art shows plus some, and the response I got from my inventory was exciting. People were digging my art and little girls were going nuts for PK's Pixies.

So I made more, and did more art shows. Needless to say, it's proving to be a worthy endeavor. I know it's not going to make me rich or anything, but it's an immediate high when I can display my art and see the smiles it brings, as well as collect some cash for it.


And the cool thing is, it helped me rediscover my writing mojo. I need that alternate creativity to fuel my writing creativity, and I wasn't allowing myself time for it because I was putting too much pressure on myself to write.

Every writer is different, and some won't need that alternate creativity, but what I learned about myself is that I do.

And I'm totally cool with that.

Third, I was reminded that these years with my family are truly precious and I can't let anything take me away from that for long. My children are still young, and my parents are getting more fragile. This is no time to separate myself from any of them by the crazed need to put out three or more books a year. It's just not possible for me.

Which brings me to another point I learned: slow and steady wins this writer's race to the finish line. It's not a sprint, and there is no need to keep up with other writers who can put out three or more books a year.

So with the start of 2015, I'm feeling that I'm in a much more realistic and better place. I've got more art shows lined up, and of course I have my writing goals. I finished my short piece From Passion to Publication, which is a special gift to those on my email list. Anyone who joins will receive a link to this courtesy PDF about my journey and my advice.

I'll be on my first panel in June at UtopYA in Nashville, and I'm excited about that. It's the only conference I'm doing this year, which is another change I made. The panel is on time travel--will it be possible in the future? And get this--I'll be on it with the top selling time travel author for the last two years, Rysa Walker. Coolness, right?

If you've stuck with me this far in this post, you're a superstar! Thank you so much for your support and encouragement over the years. As I shift more and more to my website and email newsletter, I use this blog less and less. But it isn't forgotten! Anything important will always find a place here.

Oh and that's another thing I've changed-- no more book promo unless it's a close friend. I got so burnt out with posting book promo, and seeing it, last year. I don't want this blog to be a commercial, but as always, a means of support and friendship with other writers and readers.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm posting on Operation Awesome every other Tuesday, and still serve as the speculative fiction ambassador on NA Alley.

Tell me what you've been up to ... can you relate to being under pressure? How do you alleviate it? Have you lost anyone you know to cancer? Fill me in on anything I've missed ....