by JT Ellison
Well, hi! Happy Friday the 13! Long time no blog, I know. I've missed y'all, so forgive me if this is more chatty than educational today.
I've been facing an interesting challenge, a book due March 1, and promotion to do for my January book. JUDAS KISS got moved up in the publication schedule, which is why I've been put in this position of having to cut back on some of my non-writing work in order to make my deadline. And I received copyedits last week for my September book, so it really was the perfect storm. I've got a handle on it all now (she says, with a quick look heavenward) and feel like things are calming down a bit. No travel for three weeks, so I'm breathing a sigh of relief.
I've also decided to do no promotion AT ALL from June-August, to give myself real time to get a chunk of my March 2010 book done so I won't find myself in this predicament again.
Right before Christmas, I instituted a new writing pattern, and I promised to report on how it's working. In a word, it's not. I read all the time management books, built a beautiful color-coded time map, put it in my notebook as a reminder, and proceeded to never follow it. Not even for one day.
My natural circadian rhythms don't work in the way I wanted for my new writing schedule, which was to get up and start my fiction immediately. I am simply not a morning person. I hit my stride around 3 in the afternoon. Once I abandoned the new method and returned to my 12-4 schedule, my word count shot up. So, chalk that up to a lesson learned. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, no matter how pretty and shiny the new methods seem.
What my adventure in time management DID do was help me prioritize my non-writing time in the mornings. I'm no longer losing writing days because I'm dealing with the Internet. My email is under control, Facebook is limited to marketing, a once or twice a day gander at status updates and a firm hand on the "Ignore All" button when it comes to invitations, drink requests, fairies and the like. It's liberating, I'll tell you that. I feel much more settled with my writing. My To Do list is consistently getting dealt with and I don't feel that clawing sense of guilt when I'm not writing. I've even gotten my reading back on track (which is probably a major reason my writing is going better.)
One of the things I heartily believe in is rewarding yourself when you accomplish your goals – major and minor. My latest little reward (for a three day turnaround on a full edit of Edge of Black, natch) was a beautiful, shiny rollerball pen to take on tour with me. I love fancy pens, and I have a gorgeous Mont Blanc that I adore. But I'm scared to death to take it on the road with me for fear of losing it. Which is kind of silly, because I never lose anything. I'm so good about that. I'm still wearing a ring I bought in Hawaii when I was 15. I've only lost one earring, (that was a function of the idiot I loaned it to in a parking lot to pierce his ear dropping it in the gravel. It ws my favorite diamond stud, too. Who's the idiot?) I have a twenty-year-old watch, a twenty-year-old Mont Blanc, and a seventeen-year-old truck. Oh, and a fourteen-year-old marraige, so I haven't lost him either ; )
So I tapped my Levenger coupons and ended up with a hot pink True Writer for $29.99.
I never in a million years expected to like a pink pen. It's just so not me. But the price was right, and I felt like if I ended up not liking it, I wouldn't have lost too much. When it arrived, I was shocked. It's beautiful. Darker than it looks in the picture, just the right weight for my hand. I also bought the rollerball refills with gave me some felt tips to put in it which work better than Sharpies on the signing pages because they don't bleed through. HEAVEN! I loved it so much, I decided to get another. One for home, to attach to my Circa and Moleskine, the other to travel with me. And if I lost it, I'd have a back up. But losing it wasn't going to happen – my goodness, I have a track record with objects. I have rollerballs from Staples that have traveled all over the world, literally, and made it home safe. An expensive pen that I'm really paying attention to is safe as kittens.
So the first pink pen went with me to Florida and Illinois, happily tucked into my bags. My pen loved me. I could tell. She was always ready to be opened, begging to come out of my bags to be shown off, the ink rolling smoothly out onto the page, the screw cap never getting dislodged. People commented on my pretty pink pen, teased me for being finicky and using it instead of pens provided for my signings, then oohing when they received the signed copy with the flourished signature. My pen and I were one.
Until the bitch absconded in Chicago, running away from home with a glee I can say still smarts.
I've searched high and low, retraced my steps, talked to every restaurant and hotel and bar manager where I sat on Saturday night, but she is well and truly gone. I ordered her replacement, which arrived today. From now on, she'll travel in her box instead of in my bag.
Don't think I'm crazy, but all of my inanimate objects are male. My car, my iPhone, my laptop. They're usually termed "Baby," and I identify them with a male entity. Wiccans and Pagans worship the God and the Goddess, so I guess my stuff is all associated with the God. But my pen was a girl, a Goddess, all the way. Figures it was a woman who'd have her own mind and refuse to be controlled.
Aside from the trauma of losing my pen, I had more random craziness over the weekend. I somehow managed to drop a carton of honey into my bag, which spread through the center pocket, got all over the case for Randy's Eee and coated my boarding pass with sticky goodness. I'm covered in bruises from a graceful trip Saturday morning trying to get up from the lunch table. I forgot to bring my postcards to the group signing, never a good thing. Southwest was overbooked on all five flights from Midway to Nashville, which stranded Randy and I at the airport for five hours. It was chaos, all weekend, all the time. I'm just lucky I didn't tip over the exceptionally cool glass decanter at Cooper's Hawk Saturday night – breaking expensive glass would have made my weekend complete. I don't think I've ever been so relieved to get home.
And now you know why my mother calls me Grace.
Regardless, the best part of touring is connecting with people. I've done nine or so events for JUDAS KISS, from Tennessee to Texas to Florida to Illinois, and they've all been wonderful. Love is Murder in Chicago was a fun conference, and I saw a lot of old friends. I also FINALLY met Bryon Quertermous, who is one of the nicest people in publishing, and the man who published my first short story, effectively kicking off my writing career. Thanks Q, for giving me a chance and being so cool.
So, that's the wrap up. To list everyone I've seen over the past two months would take all day, but you know who you are. I enjoyed it all – giggling in hotel rooms over cheesecake with my dear fellow blonde Laura Benedict, GPS tracking with Erica Spindler and CJ Lyons, dinner with Shane Gericke, the bestseller lists, the private dinner in Dallas, the surprise visit from my cousins in Houston, Sherlock's and Davis Kidd and Murder by the Book, the media, the signings, the panels. We'll do it again in September, me and Pretty Pink Pen 2.
But if this one runs away, I'm going back to the $2 pens from Staples.
Do you have a treasured artifact in your life?
Wine of the Week: 1991 La Cave Caluso Passito
This was a very different wine. It's technically a white, though it tastes like port flavored with the tiniest hint of wild apples. It's a lovely amber color too, definitely an unexpected taste. It comes from the Erbaluce grape, grown primarily in the Piedmont region of Italy, which is where my family still resides, so it was a very special bottle of wine for me. Drink after dinner as a treat, with fresh fruit or chocolate.
With my apologies for being a week late, the winners of CJ LYON'S contest for a copy of LIFELINES: Rashda, Debbie K. and Kelly Stone. Please contact CJ directly with your snail mail address. CJ at CJLyons dot net.