Finding Order in Chaos…Or Something Like That

I’ve never liked schedules. I’ve always hated having to make appointments, having to be anywhere at a specific time on a specific day. Still, once I became a full-time writer, I did have a daily routine of sorts. I didn’t get up every morning at the same time, write at the same time, or anything so rigid, but it was a routine nonetheless. Breakfast, exercise, errands, lunch, writing, dinner, unwind, sleep.
Pretty boring, huh?

As I grew older and my memory, eyesight and stamina were no longer what they used to be, that routine became necessary. It was taking me much longer to finish a novel than it did during my years in conventional publishing. I was no longer as focused as I had once been. And to further complicate matters, along came social networking.



The more time I spent online, the less time there was for writing. My daily routine became nonexistent. I found myself doing email on my phone before I even got out of bed in the morning. I was taking it with me to the kitchen, the bathroom, the laundry room…I was online most days from seven in the morning until six at night, and by the time I finally got offline, I was so burned out I’d fall asleep in front of the TV. I couldn’t miss the annoyed looks I was getting from friends–and even from Collin–when we’d go out to lunch and I’d start answering email in the middle of the conversation.



I was no longer mentally able to write. The housework wasn’t getting done. I wasn’t getting any exercise, so I was starting to gain weight and my blood pressure was climbing. In short, my health was declining. I was distracted and irritable but trying to figure out how to fix the problem without offending any of my online friends. But a couple of them had cut back on their own online time, so maybe everyone would understand, after all.



It was time to get back to that old routine.



Now, I’m online no more than three hours a day. I don’t check email before I get out of bed. I don’t even check it before I’ve had breakfast. I no longer eat with my smartphone in one hand. If email comes in while I’m taking a shower, it will have to wait until I’m back online.



I haven’t actually finished a novel since 2009. The only new ebooks I’ve released this year are from my Berkley backlist. That’s about to change….


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It’s Been One Crazy Week…So Far!

Where to begin, where to begin…okay, got it. Collin has transferred our Beishir Books domain name to our new website (which is not up and running yet). Two of my three Yahoo email accounts were hacked, one of them for the third time–so I have taken my email to Gmail and Hotmail. And then there’s the good news….


Angels at Midnight and The Unicorn’s Daughter are both doing great. They seem to be running a race, first one in the lead in rankings, then the other. They’ve done so well that Collin and I have decided to lower the price on Chasing the Wind….


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        Beishir Books Welcomes Lena Winfrey Seder

        Today I have a guest post from a very dear friend–who also happens to be a talented writer/reviewer/interviewer. Lena Winfrey Seder is a lady of many talents. Take it away, Lena!

        Every Writer’s Dream

        By

        Lena Winfrey Seder

        Thank you my dear friend Norma for inviting me to your blog.

        As I’m sure most of you know, Norma is a very prolific and talented writer. We can all learn so much from her. As writers, I’m sure it is our ultimate dream to write whatever we want. Many of us end up writing what we’re told to write. I know I don’t want to be stuck into one box– one genre or type of writing. I enjoy versatility.

        Self-publishing authors can indulge in the freedom of publishing whatever they want as compared to those working with traditional publishing houses. I think this might change in the future as traditional houses feel more pressure from both the economy and the competition of the self-publishing market. The ease of publishing in the digital age is forcing them to reassess the way they have been doing business. Hopefully, this will one day result in good news for all writers.

        How did I end up as a writer? Well, I have been writing poetry and short stories since childhood. However, I used to view writing as a hobby because I was focusing on acting and music. I switched majors in college three times: drama to music (voice and piano) to English literature. I realized I loved writing and literature. So, I did achieve an MA in English Literature and spent some years teaching.

        Finally, after publishing some poems and articles, I awoke to the realization that I wanted writing to be my career. I realized I had been blessed with a special gift of writing and had developed the skills to communicate and to entertain. When I love a subject, words just flow out like a river.

        Most writers are told to focus on one genre. Most prefer writing either fiction or non-fiction. I discovered I can actually write almost anything. I hate limitations. If I’m inspired or passionate about something, then I want to write it. I write both fiction and non-fiction though most of my publishing experience has been with non-fiction. I even did newspaper reporting for awhile.

        These days, I’m concentrating more on fiction. I write short stories, poems, novels and screenplays. I am a compulsive multi-tasker. My various projects hang above my head like grapes to be plucked according to my inspiration. I will write on one project while researching or editing another. I will put one to rest for awhile to start on a new one. One thing I don’t like is sitting still. If I’m not writing, then I’m reading and reviewing books, especially for friends.

         

        My advice to writers is to write from the heart and not to worry about fitting into one genre. Don’t force yourself into a box. Enjoy your story, and it will tell itself. Create something special. The down-side to self-publishing is the fact one must market one’s self. However, even traditional houses expect a writer these days to do their share of self-marketing. I published recently with an overseas publisher and was quickly thrown into the reality that I needed to do my share of marketing. So, I’m learning along the way.

        I grew up reading everything I could from Ernest Hemingway, and I suppose he had some influence on my writing style. I do like to keep my writing clear and sharp. I figure reading should be a joy and not a chore, so I keep the reader in mind while writing. Yes, we write to express ourselves, yet we also want to be heard.

        I enjoy reading variety as much as writing it. I read science-fiction, mysteries, religion, thrillers, biographies and anything interesting with fresh, clever writing. I enjoy people who know how to wield words well.

        One of my favorite writers is Norma Beishir. She is an amazing storyteller who digs deep into the psychology of her characters, and she weaves wonderful stories full of intrigue. Her writing mesmerizes me.

        My first major novel, The Metamorphosis of a Muslim, is an autobiography that follows my spiritual quest while detailing my background and childhood. It follows my world travels through Africa, Asia and the Middle East. I share my view on these places as well as many anecdotes.

        I hope you will fly a butterfly’s journey with me in my novel that can be found at:

        http://www.iiphonline.com/product_info.php?products_id=395&osCsid=d4d721b90d7f29b0c25ec04d1aed4e34

        or

        http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Metamorphosis+of+a+Muslim

        You may also read a couple of reviews at:

        http://www.amazon.com/The-Metamorphosis-Muslim-Autobiography-Conversion/product-reviews/6035010873/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

        And please come visit my blog: http://PearldropsonthePage.blogspot.com where I focus on the power of words, writing, reviews, inspirational topics and so much more.

        Currently, I am working on a paranormal novel that could end up as a trilogy. I have a realistic fiction novel brewing on the backburner. And I am adapting a novel into a screenplay. Films are still in my blood, so it is my dream to one day write, direct and produce a film. Whenever I think of giving up, I always remember a quote from childhood: “Dreams give us wings.” It helps to believe in our dreams so we can carry on, but we must be realistic and practical, too. We need to list down the steps we must take to reach our goals. Success takes hard work as well as dreams.

        Again, Norma, thank you for having me on your blog. It has been a real pleasure! 

        "I’ve Promised My (Fill in the Blank) You’ll Get Their Book Published…."

        In my previous post, I wrote about authors being approached by friends, family members and others who expect us to write their books for them. There’s one incident, however, that I didn’t mention.
        Years ago, when I was at my lowest point, unable to write and trying to take care of my mother following her stroke, I was levied by the IRS. I could not access what income I still had coming from my books. Thankfully, our Congressman at that time, Dick Gephardt, came to the rescue and got the levy removed, but it was tough for a while–so tough that we had to go to a food pantry.

        The pantry was within walking distance, so Collin and I went once a week, when we had someone to stay with Mom. We got fresh fruit, vegetables, and a pizza. In applying for the pantry, I of course had to tell them what line of work I was in. I didn’t forsee a problem. I assumed that, being affiliated with the United Way, they had to follow the rules regarding client confidentiality.


        I assumed wrong.

        The people who worked there always seemed professional to me, and the woman who ran the place was always asking questions about my books and writing. Idle interest? Not exactly. When Collin and I arrived one afternoon, I was handed a slip of paper with a name and a phone number on it and informed that this person was waiting to hear from me.

        The woman whose number I’d been given was the secretary of the pantry manager’s husband. She had been promised I would get her book published! I was to phone her ASAP. It was difficult not to laugh. I hadn’t been able to produce anything remotely publishable myself in some time. I was getting help from a food pantry, for crying out loud! But I was supposed to be able to open doors for this woman I didn’t know? I had no idea if she could even write.

        The next time Collin and I went to the pantry, the pressure was on. The manager said the would-be writer had told her that I hadn’t called yet. She demanded to know why. I explained that I had not been able to–we had no phone then, and I couldn’t just go off and leave my mom for something that wasn’t urgent. I realized this was going to be an issue as long as we kept going to the pantry, so I decided we’d just have to get by without it.

        But it didn’t end there. One day, several months later, I decided to drop off some plastic grocery bags we’d accumulated. I knew they needed them, and I thought I could just slip in, give the bags to one of the staffers, and leave. That would have been nice, but no–the manager must have seen me coming. She confronted me in front of everyone the minute I walked in the door, berating me for not dropping everything to get this unknown book published. “How would you feel if I had refused you food when you needed it?” she demanded.

        I pointed out that the two circumstances could hardly be compared. And walked out. I gave serious consideration to contacting the United Way, but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. I never went back and never saw her again.


        I wonder if that book ever got published?















        This is Your Lucky Day! I’m Going to Let You Write My Book for Me….

        We’ve all had family and friends ask us, “When are you going to get a real job?” Some writers even hear it after they’ve made their first sale. But some of us also hear this one: “I have a great story to tell and I’m going to let you write it for me.”


        Sound familiar? Either we’re not taken seriously at all or we’re taken for granted. Those who realize we are professionals and have real careers as writers will often assume we’re just sitting around waiting to write their story. We don’t have ideas of our own–or if we do, we can just set our own works-in-progress aside to write whatever they bring to us.





        About a year ago–I’m not sure exactly how long (this is just a guess, as I’ve been trying to forget)–I got an email from a longtime friend. Her brother had decided to write a novel. Never mind the fact that this guy would be reaching to write a grocery list, he was going to write a novel. Let me rephrase that: he had an idea and I was going to write his novel. If it sold (and let me say here that this project had worse odds of success than being struck by lightning), we would split the profits. 


        Riiiiiigggghhhhht!





        I told her, as politely as I could, that I was not interested. I had projects of my own in the works and did not have time to write his too. That didn’t work. I discovered that he had contacted a family friend, asking for my phone number. He’d had his nephew contact the same friend, also asking for my number. When she didn’t give it to either of them, he turned up at my MySpace page (one of the reasons I ditched MySpace). Then he showed up at Facebook. Finally, I got enough.


        I sent him a message. He could leave his manuscript and $100 in cash with Collin at the restaurant and I would read it, critique it and tell him what he needed. I never heard from him again. Thankfully.





        He’s not the only one who’s brought ideas to me, but the other two were well-meaning friends who wanted me to put worthwhile true stories into words for people who couldn’t write them themselves. It’s not easy to say no in such cases–but I’m a novelist, not a nonfiction writer. This may surprise some people, but most writers are one or the other. Rarely can we do both. I’m strictly a fiction writer. I’m no good at coloring inside the lines–bios and memoirs are not my thing. And I already have a full plate. Make that an overflowing plate. I have one ebook edition of  a backlist book about to be released and three more to be scanned and reformatted (not an easy job, believe me) and three more waiting to be done, plus four original works in progress. Add to that the fact that my eyesight is so bad that I have to compose on my phone or by dictation because when I look at my computer screen, all the words seem to run together. No fun!


        I’d have to be cloned in order to have time for anything else….



        Today is Your Lucky Day! I’m Going to Let You Write My Book for Me….

        We’ve all had family and friends ask us, “When are you going to get a real job?” Some writers even hear it after they’ve made their first sale. But some of us also hear this one: “I have a great story to tell and I’m going to let you write it for me.”

        Sound familiar? Either we’re not taken seriously at all or we’re taken for granted. Those who realize we are professionals and have real careers as writers will often assume we’re just sitting around waiting to write their story. We don’t have ideas of our own–or if we do, we can just set our own works-in-progress aside to write whatever they bring to us.

        About a year ago–I’m not sure exactly how long (this is just a guess, as I’ve been trying to forget)–I got an email from a longtime friend. Her brother had decided to write a novel. Never mind the fact that this guy would be reaching to write a grocery list, he was going to write a novel. Let me rephrase that: he had an idea and I was going to write his novel. If it sold (and let me say here that this project had worse odds of success than being struck by lightning), we would split the profits. 

        Riiiiiigggghhhhht!

        I told her, as politely as I could, that I was not interested. I had projects of my own in the works and did not have time to write his too. That didn’t work. I discovered that he had contacted a family friend, asking for my phone number. He’d had his nephew contact the same friend, also asking for my number. When she didn’t give it to either of them, he turned up at my MySpace page (one of the reasons I ditched MySpace). Then he showed up at Facebook. Finally, I got enough.

        I sent him a message. He could leave his manuscript and $100 in cash with Collin at the restaurant and I would read it, critique it and tell him what he needed. I never heard from him again. Thankfully.

        He’s not the only one who’s brought ideas to me, but the other two were well-meaning friends who wanted me to put worthwhile true stories into words for people who couldn’t write them themselves. It’s not easy to say no in such cases–but I’m a novelist, not a nonfiction writer. This may surprise some people, but most writers are one or the other. Rarely can we do both. I’m strictly a fiction writer. I’m no good at coloring inside the lines–bios and memoirs are not my thing. And I already have a full plate. Make that an overflowing plate. I have one ebook edition of  a backlist book about to be released and three more to be scanned and reformatted (not an easy job, believe me) and three more waiting to be done, plus four original works in progress. Add to that the fact that my eyesight is so bad that I have to compose on my phone or by dictation because when I look at my computer screen, all the words seem to run together. No fun!

        I’d have to be cloned in order to have time for anything else….