Author's Life · Writer's Journal

A Writer’s Thoughts About Retirement

I write because I love the art of writing. When my first novel was published in 2006, I felt accomplished. I’d reached a lifelong dream. I was eager to promote myself as an author and to tell everyone about my book. I was with a smaller publisher which taught me a lot about editing and marketing. At the time, I had a lucrative office job, and spent my lunch hours and evening hours writing.

Publishing was different then. Marketing was just beginning through social media and online groups. I was able to remain faceless while interacting through blog hopping, and pretending to be my characters in online promotions. So much fun! I dreamed of retiring from my day job and writing full-time.

Years passed, and self-publishing arrived on the scene. My writing group was adamant about being part of the Romance Writer’s of America organization. I had to pay dues to RWA and to my local writing group. But I had made the decision to branch out on my own and be in charge of my own career. I still don’t know if it was the right move or not, but I can tell you there is a lot of knowledge a writer needs before deciding to self-publish. You can’t just write something and shove it out there. Oh, you can, but those are the kinds of publications which began to give self-published authors a bad rep. The members of my writing group looked at me as someone inferior because I wasn’t seeking a publisher through the traditional routes.

Still, I hung on and did my own thing. Mostly because I retired and had new responsibilities with taking care of my mother who now lived with us and my husband who became very ill. I didn’t need deadlines. After suffering the loss of my mother, then my husband, and soon thereafter, my son, I found writing didn’t offer the joy it once did. I struggled along and published a few books, but no longer was I doing any marketing. Eventually, I decided to fully retire and took my books off market.

In 2022, I felt the desire to write more than my blogs. I picked up a book idea from the past and soon it was a published novel. But I didn’t have the money or the drive to do any marketing. Books that aren’t properly marketed will not survive in the overly saturated self-published sea of novels. My close contacts purchased my books, and some even left reviews, along with a handful of strangers who read the book through Kindle Unlimited. My career fell flat. Now as I am writing another book in the series I planned, I am discouraged when I see my published novels are not producing reads.

It discourages me, though I still have the desire to continue writing stories. What will I do with this? I’m on the fence. On one hand, if I remove the books from publication, I won’t have to worry about the small income when tax time comes. On the other hand, I want to think each book is meant to reach one person and hopefully provide hope and open eyes to how God can work in our lives.

Writing can be a wonderful ride but can also get stuck along the tracks of life. What does a writer do when retirement becomes the driving force? What do we do with the stories in our head or he need to feel the pressure of the keys on a keyboard and words filling the blank white space?

Author's Life

New Glasses? Ack!!

When I made my annual trek to the ophthalmologist for my yearly eye exam, I had decided to ask for a prescription for reading/computer glasses. My idea was to spend less money for the new glasses and my old “full” prescription would work for another year. I’d forgotten this prescription was now two years old.

Bottom line. I made a huge mistake. The new glasses work great for writing and reading and other computer or closeup work. BUT, I need glasses to see when I’m not at my desk. The constant putting on and taking off of glasses is very frustrating! Sometimes I forget and get up to do something in the house, like fix a cup of tea. I find myself squinting and not being able to see clearly, so I head back to the office and retrieve my “on the go” glasses. Still I find myself squinting because the prescription clearly needs to be changed.

I need to a new prescription. But my opthmalogist hasn’t called me back. I figured he could use the exam information to write this updated prescription, but I may be in trouble. If he won’t do that, I’ll have to go to another doctor for an exam and prescription which I will have to pay for, and I’ll have to pay full price for my new glasses since I used my insurance already this year.

I even thought about purchasing those glasses holders that hang around the neck. But I’d need two of them or I’d have to constantly be switching which pair was on the holder. See! I really messed up with this decision I made for computer glasses. Oh, the corners we paint ourselves into when we make hasty decisions without thoroughly researching and thinking about the outcome!

Well, hurray! I decided to try calling again before I ended this ridiculous blog post. This time I reached a human being! Tomorrow the doctor will be in the office of the person I spoke with. She said she’d have him update the prescription and mail it to me! Do I need to tell you how much relief this gives me?

Author's Life · Writer's Journal

Rainy Day Writing

Today is supposed to be a very rainy day. Thinking about this, a scene suddenly came to mind. I’m excited to write it when the timing is perfect. If I’m experiencing a real downpour, or a storm, I’ll be able to portray that to my readers through the next scene in the book.

Writing is fun, or it can be. What I find is not having anyone to report to on a finish date but myself, allows the flexibility to write with the weather sometimes. A monotonous weather forecast makes for a monotonous setting in my writing.

For instance, it is difficult to write about winter and snowstorms when the sun is shining and it is in the middle of summer. When the weather is cloudy, it helps to put me in a mood to write something emotional.

What fun it would be if we could simply write scenes according to the weather and then put them all together. But that seems an impossible idea. We need structure and an outline to follow. The scene I am currently writing is coming to a close. I can so easily see it ending with being disrupted by a sudden rainstorm! Why not? This is the exciting part of writing. Finding something a little different to add a visual for the reader. I think all of us have been caught unexpectedly by a sudden storm. I know there have been many times this has happened to me. Sometimes it’s a downpour and sometimes a gentle spring rain. I remember being totally drenched and cold, and also standing under a tree in a gentle rain.

As writers, we need to look around us and not just stay focused on the white screen. Add some excitement and flair to our settings. Make our readers feel what is happening to the characters. I’m welcoming this new day as I always do with thanks to God. And I thank Him for providing the perfect setting for writing “what comes next.”

Author's Life · Morning Thoughts

The Dilemma of the Blank Notebook

Recently I was gifted a beautiful notebook. Just a notebook filled with lined pages. The cover is gorgeous and speaks to my love of color. The same picture is on the back cover as well. For a couple of months I’ve been debating what to use it for. I could use it as a daily journal, but I’ve only stuck with finishing a journal one time. That was a journal my youngest daughter gave me for Christmas. It had a scripture on the bottom of each page with my name inserted in the scripture. It took two years to fill it, and I didn’t write in it every day, but it is interesting to look back on the post during the pandemic and lockdown.

This journal is so pretty, so I’ve thought maybe I can turn it into a book I will relate to and want to write in. Maybe add a new scripture each day from my devotions. And then journal about it.

Or perhaps I can make it into a prayer journal. A place to keep the names I pray for and record answered prayers, plus a new page each day to write out my morning prayer. A wonderful Bible Journaler, Scribbling Grace, who paints beautiful watercolor pages in her Prayer Journals and her Bible, has a You Tube video showing how she created her journal. I’m not that artistic, but with this pretty cover, I don’t need to be. In her old journal she separated the pages into days of the week with each day concentrating on a specific topic. In her new one, she still has topics, different ones to correspond to her current life, and a more free-form structure for her daily prayers.

Armed with this information, I stare at my journal notebook. I don’t want to mess it up. What if I start preparing it and I don’t like it? When this happens, I know I need to pray about it. I still have that part of me that’s a perfectionist, a part of me that OCD. Do you know it took me almost five years to let myself color a leaf that isn’t green? Even when the picture is mystical? It stems from my childhood when my stepfather insisted on nothing but perfection from me. If I got a B+, it wasn’t an A, so it wasn’t good enough. Funny how those little things stick with us. I know I also made mistakes with my children, trying to bring their best out of them, so I don’t harbor any bad feeling toward my stepdad, and hope my children don’t hold my errors against me. Anyway, I digress. What am I going to do with this lovely notebook?

I thought about opening it to the first page and starting with a free flow prayer. I can include a daily scripture, add something I’m grateful for perhaps, and then the rest can be for my written prayer. BUT, I really like the idea of having different topics to concentrate my prayers on. That way my prayers won’t become monotonous, which they sometimes feel like when I’m in my prayer corner and talking to God. Since I can’t quite come to a decision, I’ll continue to think about it and pray about it. I think I need to include my creativity into this as well.

I’ve looked at other prayer journals to purchase which are very structured and leave little room for prayer. I’ve had several and used them, but I’m looking for something different now.

Thanks for sticking with me as I dumped my brain on the page this morning!

Author's Life

The Case for Writing

After doing my taxes this year, I once again wondered if having a writing career was worth the effort. Once before I listened to the wrong voice and took down all my books from publication and retired. It lasted almost two years before I knew it wasn’t a good decision for me. This time, I’m not listening to the wrong voice again.

See, I love creating new stories! I love feeling the characters guide me to show their lives on paper for others to enjoy. It’s part of who I am. Even though I hadn’t written for a long time, when I opened up my partially finished long ago manuscript, the words began to flow. The feedback on the finished book was really good. I knew then this was a path God had chosen for me to minister to the world.

For the past two weeks, I haven’t followed the schedule I established for myself in order to meet a self-set goal to complete this new book by the end of April. That’s what is great about being my own boss. I can change my deadlines, my schedule, and it’s perfectly fine. Everything happens in God’s timing, not mine. Accepting this makes writing even more joyful.

With God, I find when I open my work in progress, I don’t even have to think about what happens next. I’ve already written an outline which keeps me on track for developing new scenes, but I have the flexibility of writing as many as needed and in whatever way reveals itself. I just write. And the words seem to continue flowing. I don’t stop to think. I trust God.

I see and feel the characters. I write a lot of dialogue, mostly because of this. When people are together, they talk. That’s true for my characters as well. Dialogue moves the story forward and reveals hidden truths as needed. This works well in my contemporary romance books. I know historical writers whose stories are much, much longer than mine. Through years of studying writing and applying to my voice and genre, I began to write tighter stories. And that’s okay. I write to please God, not a word count, nor a publisher. I write because I love everything about it. I love the feel of the keyboard under my fingers, the very slight click of the keys, and all the words flowing across the white screen.

The book is finished when the story is told with all issues resolved and there is a happy ending. So, no, I’m not going to listen to the wrong voice this time. I’m following God’s path for the gift He provided. If the story reaches one person who needs to read it, then I’ve done my part and God will do the rest. That’s my case for writing.