All those books…

Over the past few years, in my capacity as a full time editor, I read a lot of manuscripts. The equivalent of three to four full length novels a week. Throw in things my crit partners sent, and the contests I judged…that’s a lot of books. But those were unpublished manuscripts.

As for real books–both ones you can hold and digital–I’ve got several hundred sitting on my shelves, floor, tables that I received either as gifts or at conferences as freebies given out by various authors and publishers. I haven’t had time to read them yet. Some of them, I never will because they just don’t draw me in. So what to do?

Lots of things. I haunt two stores that handle used books–Aaron’s Books in Lititz, PA and Cupboard Maker Books in Enola, PA. Both are small, independent bookstores that sell both new and used books. I recently donated almost 700 books to Cupboard Maker (mostly because they had the room to take them), but I’ve also given ones to Aaron’s. In addition, I’ve donated to women’s shelters and local libraries (when I moved to the town I now live in, I donated almost 1000 books to the local library for their sale).

Even with all that, I still have stacks and stacks of books to read. My husband cringes every time I go near a bookstore because he knows I can’t resist. There is nothing better than having a good book in hand to read.

Now that I am “retired” (hah!), I don’t have so many manuscripts to read so I can actually get around to reading some of those books I have sitting around. I am looking forward to it.

Do yourself (and the businesses) a favor and go to a local indie bookstore and buy some books from them. Don’t go in, look around, then buy what you want online (and yes, a lot of people do this). Help a small business out and purchase from them. And when you’re done, consider donating your used book either back to the store or to some place like a shelter or library.

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Life is what happens…

Have you ever anticipated something for weeks, maybe months, waiting for that special day, thinking it will never get here? And then whoosh – it’s over and gone in the blink of an eye and you’re left wondering…what happened?

This past week was kind of like that for me. Last weekend, we had an open house party to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I planned it for weeks. Middle son was flying in from out of state. There would be food, and fun, and friends…

And there were all of the above, but after all that planning, it went by so quickly that I’m not sure it even happened. Yes, I was there. And yes, there was laughter and eating and playing of games… but it happened so quickly. Son is back at his home, leftovers are all gone and life has returned to its state of normalcy. But where did that time go and so quickly?

At the beginning of the year, I had all these plans for my writing. I charted out what I would do each month. Then vision issues caused all those plans to change and my timeline ended up being trashed. Now, I’m happy to get done what I do each day – whether it’s a paragraph, or a chapter. It’s frustrating, but I deal. It’s all I can do for now while I await eye surgery. Waiting and planning.

Time is a funny thing. It moves so slowly when we are waiting for something, but goes supersonic when the event gets here. And passes us by without us noticing. It’s the middle of May and I wonder where the year has gone. Like the quote, published in 1957 and attributed to Allen Saunders, but made famous by John Lennon: Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Go enjoy some life today. 🙂

Reviews

We hear every day “Please write a review for my book” from authors (and app producers, movie people, businesses, etc.). And many wonder why they should leave a review.

The simple answer is a little thing called algorithms. The more reviews, the higher your product–book in this case–moves in the listings thanks to those algorithms. No reviews=no movement. And upward movement is what it’s all about. Numbers are everything to businesses – and make no mistake, writing is a business.

Reviews don’t have to be in depth or extensive. Something as simple as “I really liked this because it made me feel good” helps with the numbers.

So do your favorite author (or whatever) a favor and leave a quick review for them. They’ll appreciate it, I promise.

Waiting…

We spend a lot of our time in life waiting. Waiting to grow up. Waiting to graduate. Waiting for that special someone to call. Waiting for…

Yesterday, I spent most of my day waiting. My husband and I had a dear friend who was undergoing open heart surgery so we were waiting to hear the outcome (he made it, but there were issues). While we were waiting, my husband made his daily morning call to an elderly aunt. As they were chatting, she slipped and fell and all he could hear was her crying. Because we live too far away, there was nothing we could do physically. After consoling her, he hung up and made a quick call to her daughters to let them know. And we waited. Finally last night, we received word that she had broken her collarbone. Because of her age (93), the hospital was keeping her overnight.

It was a day fraught with worry and waiting. Unfortunately, besides praying, there was nothing we could do to alleviate either situation. For myself, when things like this happen, I bake. It’s my calming place. It’s something I have to concentrate on and something I can do. When my father was in hospice before his death, I filled a 32 cu ft freezer with goodies.

As authors, we do a lot of waiting too. Waiting for agents and editors to get back to us.  Waiting for contest results. Waiting for cover art. Waiting for edits. Waiting for publication. But in these cases, there are things we can actually do while we wait. We can do promotions, build websites and blogs. Write the next book. In these cases, the waiting can be productive to the career.

Waiting is never easy, but if you can find something to do while you wait (besides pacing the hospital corridors), that activity does make it bearable.

50/50 Challenge

My local writer’s group is three weeks into our 50/50 challenge – write a minimum of fifty words a day for fifty days–and it has to be a work of fiction. You can take two days off in any one week, but those words must be made up so you have a minimum of 350 words for the week.

That doesn’t sound like much, does it? Fifty words a day for 350 words a week? That’s barely a page and a half. Most of us make our fifty and more. Some make way more–in the thousands range. The point of the challenge is to get you writing every day.

But you’d be surprised how hard some of those days are. Some days, I get my fifty in and that’s about it. For instance, yesterday… I had a bad night of non-sleeping and was up by five. Paid bills, took care of household accounts, worked on an edit for a friend, and yes, got some words done. Not many, but some. I had grocery shopping to do, then was on the road to deliver five boxes of books to a used book store (I’m downsizing) that is on the way to the home where my mother lives. It’s an hour drive one way and there was road construction everywhere, plus I don’t travel well. Oh, and add in there a stop for gas and another stop for groceries for my mom (called brother to tell him we were coming and was informed that Mom needed some things – could I pick them up?)

By the time my husband and I got home, I was exhausted, not feeling well, and–thanks to some things I found out at the home–had some financial issues to take care of for my mom. Because of my morning writing, I managed to get my fifty in…but barely. Total count was fifty-three. Last week, I had a 2000 day.

One of my friends lost her mother-in-law this week. She dropped out of the challenge because she has enough to cope with at this time. Another dropped out because of illness. Another because of work. Our numbers always start out strong, but along the way, we lose some for one reason or another. The reasons are valid. Life gets in the way of our writing time. Some manage to work around these problems, others don’t. And that’s fine. Each person has to do whatever works for her.

The point is, we face challenges every day. Some are more difficult than others. Am I going to tell my friend that the funeral she’s helping plan doesn’t matter? Or another that her husband’s brain surgery isn’t as important as her writing? Nope. Not going to do it.

But as soon as I’m done with this blog, you can bet I’m going to get my fifty words in. Because of my schedule today, it may be all I get in, but that’s okay. I challenged myself and I will meet that challenge.

What’s your challenge today?