Monthly Archives: August 2013

Branding

Branding is becoming an elusive concept for me. Originally, I thought I had it nailed. Romantic women’s fiction…women’s issues…women mature and develop in their own sweet time —

I got it! Cross-market with my garden blog using the tag line: “A woman will bloom in time; her own sweet time!”

Great. Marketing my novels with gardening items and themes, I was traveling down the right road–until I hit a road block. What happens when you decide to write something other than romantic women’s fiction? Say you want to write mystery/suspense? Sure, you have women and romance, but the themes and plots of the novels aren’t particularly issue-oriented. woman pulling hair out_XSmallRuh-roh.

Now what? Am I confusing readers? Should I have changed my name with each new genre? What happens when I want to dabble in YA? A new genre, a new name? Should I curtail my imagination and go with one genre and end the confusion?

That’s a tough one. I can’t turn off my imagination. I can’t curb my passion. Writing wouldn’t be any fun if I couldn’t write what strikes my fancy. But I’m at a loss for direction. I’m considering a new website, but have no idea where to begin. Any suggestions? Ideas?

Going crazy in a swirl of marketing mania… 

 

A long, hot summer

cartwheel_c-425x282When I was growing up, summer was an endless stretch of nothingness. There were no reading lists or science camps or enrichment activities. There was barely even adult supervision. We were like a pack of wild dogs tearing through the neighborhood, entertaining ourselves by running through the neighbor’s sprinkler or hanging upside-down from a tree or eating hot dogs straight from the can. We got in mud fights and plucked fat, juicy ticks off our dog and squashed them with bricks. I know, disgusting. Boredom makes you do strange things, but that’s my point. We were bored to death

Fast-forward to now. My daughter’s summer vacation spanned two continents and garnered her 10,000 flight miles. She biked through Dutch fields and camped in the Appalachians and swam in the North Sea and the Atlantic. And she had exactly one free day at home. ONE.

Of course she wasn’t bored. She didn’t have time to be.

Back in my day, the first day of school was something to look forward to, a break from three straight months of lethargy. Not anymore. My daughter was exhausted before she even began.

Sure, she got to travel to fun, faraway, exotic places, but am I doing her any favors? Will she ever be able to entertain herself without a camp counselor, a tour guide, and an in-flight movie screen? I sure as heck hope so.

What do you think? Who had the better summer, me or my kids?

Wise Words, Good Life

coffee Trollope“Never think that you’re not good enough. A man should never think that. People will take you very much at your own reckoning.”

“Passionate love, I take it, rarely lasts long, and is very troublesome while it does last. Mutual esteem is very much more valuable.”

“For the ordinary purposes of conversation a superficial knowledge of many things goes further than an intimacy with one or two.”

Mr. Trollope, the prolific 19th century novelist quoted above and in the photo, was pretty darn insightful. Wouldn’t you agree?

So, thinking about this: “What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?” I agree, sometimes you can’t beat a cozy perch paired with an engaging story capped by a favorite brew—whether steamy-hot or, my preference, iced.

But there is more in life that’s just as luxurious, right? There are other bits that give us pleasure, which are self-indulgent, and make a life good.

For me there’s the following (incomplete) list: eating out, sleeping in a cold room under a warm quilt, naps when there’s no place to be, long walks of solitude, getting a pedicure while in a massage chair, weekend getaways, heartfelt hugs with my daughters, buying something I really want at a bargain price, belly laughing, learning something new about myself and realizing that’s why I’m this way, dessert, a movie that makes me feel and cry, and so much more. These are some of the things that make mine a good life. And when put all together, they make Anthony Trollope’s assertion seem almost lacking.

What do you think? What are the little (or big) bits of life you enjoy most?

YOU AND SECOND-HAND SMOKE

I read an article yesterday in Psychology Today. It was written in March 2013 and dealt with people who are negative. I found out more than I thought I would and was surprised. The author said:

“Negativity is like second-hand smoke. It not only permeates the room but has dire health consequences for those unfortunate enough to be in its path.”

According to neuroscientists, “Our brains are hardwired to focus more on the negative, including worry, disapproval, danger, illness, fear, and even the word ‘no’, and as we verbally express these thoughts, additional stress chemicals are released.

The listener’s brain is changed too, feeling more anxious and irritable. Trust and cooperation between people is undermined. In short, negativity can destroy family relationships and cause emotional harm.”

She goes on to say that when she first met her husband his license plate read “YESSS”. He said it helped him remember to think positively, to say “yes” instead of “no” and that he was much happier when he said “yes” to life. She realized “he already understood what it has taken neuroscientists years to discover – that negativity is linked to increased stress and unhappiness.”

Furthermore the article stated that negativity and stress are related. That our brains release stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters that create havoc with our normal functioning. That positive thoughts affect the brain. That we should develop a 3 to 1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts to achieve balance in our life, thus we’ll be more likely to find ourselves in caring relationships and productive work situations.

I’m definitely on board with this one.

DIY, oh why, oh why?

Last week, I had to drag myself away from the final edits on Always Remember, set aside the final revisions on Terms of Surrender, and perform my wifely duties.

No, it’s not what you’re thinking. Get your mind out of the gutter, folks. 🙂

You see, I married a DIY guy. He’s good with his hands, looks great in his tool belt, and is willing to tackle any project, large or small. Together we’ve built two houses, doing most of the work ourselves, and tackled numerous home renovations…all without killing each other.

DIY 2013-1

However, I’m always a little bit reluctant, while he’s always gung-ho for the next project and the next challenge.

I once worked with a woman who did all of her own home repairs and maintenance. She had a knack for hammers and skill saws and pipe wrenches and tape measures.  If there was a kitchen tap in need of repair or a new shelving unit to be mounted to the wall, she knew how to do the job. Man, was I envious.

I have no building or mechanicals skills at all. Give me a computer and a program or app, and I can do anything. Give me a hammer and a toolbelt and a pipe wrench and…well, let’s just say if I had to hang a bookshelf on my own, it would be crooked. And the moment someone placed an object on it, it would fall off the wall.

So how do my DIY guy and I work together?

DIY-2013-2He’s the general contractor and I generally follow his orders.

I’m the go-fer gal – go for the hammer, get more nails, go pick up paint – while he’s the one that measures and cuts and makes sure our home projects are sturdy and straight.

I’m also the manual laborer – lift this stone, hold that piece of gyproc against the ceiling, bring another wheelbarrow of sand or dirt – and after the last few days, I’ve got the muscles and the bruises to prove I can do it.

DIY-2013-3

Yet despite nearly 40 years of hanging out with my DIY guy, I’m still unable to hang a picture by myself.

How about you? Are you a Do-It-Yourself person, tackling your own home projects and maintenance projects, or do you call a guy or maybe call a girl? This exhausted girl wants to know. 🙂

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