A Girl, A Key, And A CD

It’s been a real rough couple of weeks for me. Those who follow my blog may be wondering why I haven’t been regular with my posts. I apologize for the dearth of written material, but I was simply pulled into the dark vortex of a few hellish weeks. Nothing much has changed other than I seem to have found the time and inspiration to write again (translation: I’m totally ignoring the mess and chaos around my house to focus on writing).

Last Thursday, and to crown an emotionally and physically draining week, I experienced a weird and (later) hilarious event involving my car. That day, I had a car-full of things I needed to bring into my school for the evening multicultural event as I drove my way to work. I parked the car in my usual spot and turned off the engine. Except I couldn’t.

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The engine went off, but the electric part of the car wouldn’t turn off, and I couldn’t get the key out of the ignition. I moved the steering wheel thinking that maybe it had locked. Nothing. I turned the car on and circled around the parking lot before parking again. Nothing. I jiggled the key, changed gears several times. Couldn’t take the key off.

Needless to say I ended up hugging the wheel and crying my eyes out. I love my pumpkin (my car) but I may have called it a few ugly names. I called the insurance people who told me they were going to send a tow truck. I also called a friend in the building and asked her to come and help me take the stuff out of the car.

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My school is not in the nicest neighborhood. I didn’t want to leave all that stuff inside an opened car. So me and my friend moved all my crap into her car and then she tried her hand at the key. Nothing. Another coworker came to help, but he couldn’t figure it out either. The consensus was, “This is really weird.”

When the tow truck showed up, the driver also tried his hand at the damn key with the same results. Giving up, he backed out of the parking lot and drove the car into the tow truck. I’m watching from the side and I see the driver’s window suddenly open and a hand stick out of it with the car key.

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“How did you manage to take the key off?” That was the question of the day.

“I moved your CDs.” Strange answer, I thought. But he explained, “The CDs were sticking out just far out enough that they were pressing the button on the gear shift and making the system think the car was not in park.” Whaaa…?

We had a good laugh, he moved my car back to its parking spot, and left. I stood in the parking lot in the freezing temperature feeling stupid but amused at the same time. Who would have thought you could lock a car’s system and make a grownup woman cry with a simple CD?

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Not Being Second (flash fiction)

***It’s been a while since I posted any flash fiction, so here it goes 🙂 Enjoy.***

“She wanted something else, something different, something more. Passion and romance, perhaps, or maybe quiet conversations in candlelit rooms, or perhaps something as simple as not being second.”

Nicholas Spark “The Notebook

She had read that quote and it spoke to her. It gave words to what she had felt now for years. Too many years of analyzing, blaming herself, trying to make sense of what she wanted. Her husband, her friends, even her therapist often asked her, “What exactly do you want from your marriage?” Until she read that quote, she had no way of articulating how she felt, even to herself.

Something as simple as not being second.” In her marriage, in her life in general, she had always come second. Or third. She couldn’t remember an instance where she had been first in someone’s life other than her own parents’. She was always the afterthought, the one who is useful but not fun or wanted.

When she first got married she found out quickly she was not at the top of her husband’s list of priorities. First came his own family, second his sports, third his career, and then herself. The wedding vows, for better or for worse, turned into maybe if nothing else more important comes up. Even in sickness she found herself a faraway second to career or family. Her needs were never met with a kind ear but rather a pointing finger at how inconvenient her requests were. Everybody, including neighbors she barely knew, were more important than her.

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She made excuses. Things would get better later on, marriage was a new thing to him, he’d come around eventually.

There were big gifts on Christmas and birthdays, attempts at appeasing her once in a while. Big gestures instead of the little daily kindnesses she really was looking for. She had never been much of a material girl. Never one for diamonds, expensive clothes, or fancy gadgets. She wanted her husband to ask her why she was sad instead of getting mad at her because she was sulking. She wanted her husband to side with her–or at least support her–when she didn’t agree with his family or friends. She wanted a hand to hold on to when she didn’t feel well. An attentive ear when she shared something that was important to her. Instead she got irritated looks and sudden changes of subject.

As the years went by things didn’t change. In many ways it got worse. The career was replaced by a crowd of friends, concerts, bars, parties… She stopped going with him. She stopped trying to be there for him because he was not there for her. No one to share that trip of a lifetime with, or her joy and excitement at having accomplished a dream. No one to talk to.

She blamed herself. She had put on weight, she was boring, she was an introvert and was uncomfortable in social situations he thrived on. It was her fault he didn’t find anything attractive in spending time with her, in talking to her, in sharing those small moments a marriage is built on.

She was unhappy. She was lonely. Tears danced in her eyes as soon as she woke up in the morning and when she fell asleep. She envied fictitious couples in literature and TV and bitterness filled her heart like noxious fumes.

The truth was she didn’t want anything complicated, nothing expensive or hard to do. All she wanted was to be first once in a while. Something as simple as not being second.

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Inked Hearts-New Release

 

 

Title: Inked Hearts
Series: Lines in the Sand #1
Author: Lindsay Detwiler
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 21, 2017
Blurb
“Six years, a
complex about my freckles, a love for pastrami, and a fear of failure.
That’s what he
gave me before slaughtering my heart and my faith in men.”
Suffering from the
sting of betrayal, twenty-eight-year-old Avery Johannas quits her job and moves
hundreds of miles away to Ocean City, the beach town of her dreams. With the
help of her zany roommate, Jodie, Avery finds a new career, home, and freedom.
Throughout her self-exploration, she makes only one rule: She won’t give her
heart to a man again. She’s living for herself this time.
But then she meets Jesse.
A tattoo shop owner,
the green-eyed Jesse Pearce is wild with a touch of mystery. As Jesse and Avery
explore Ocean City and their friendship, they’ll have a hard time drawing a
line in the sand between their hearts.
When summer nights
get a little more heated than either expected, they’ll have to ask
themselves: Can they let go of their notions of love, or will their
hearts be permanently inked by past pain?
Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Excerpt
There’s some soft rock music playing when I open the door to
Jesse’s apartment. The distinct smell of teriyaki sauce permeates the room,
dancing in my nose as soon as I walk through the door.
“Hey. That looks amazing on you,” he says. He’s wearing
black jeans and a button-up shirt. He’s gelled his hair, and hints of his
cologne permeate the room.
“Thanks. I love this. You didn’t have to do it.”
“I like to treat my artists well.”
“So you do this for all of them?” I ask, setting down my bag
on the counter.
“Only the good ones.”
He leans in to kiss me, and I realize how natural this has
become. It hasn’t taken long for us to settle into couple status. In
retrospect, it seems now like it was always coming. It seems unnatural for us
not to be like this—comfortable, kissing, and together.
I’m so glad that for once in my life, I broke my own rules.
Jesse leads me to his kitchen table, which is adorned with a
dozen pink roses. I smile, gently touching the petals of one.
“This is beautiful. Thank you.”
“Have a seat. Dinner is ready.” Jesse brings out a few
casserole dishes with rice, teriyaki chicken and vegetables, and even some egg
rolls.
“Did you make all this?” I ask coyly, pretending to be
impressed.
“Yeah, it was sort of rough because I’m not that great at
cooking.”
He stares for a moment as he sets the dishes down. I can
tell he’s trying to see if I believe him.
I look directly from him to the top of the refrigerator, at
a large take-out bag with a familiar Chinese restaurant’s name. I raise an
eyebrow.
“That’s an old bag,” Jesse says, waving a hand but smirking.
“Yeah, okay. I just have a feeling this is going to taste
just like it.”
“Only because I worked so hard to get the secret recipe.”
I dig into the dishes, serving myself, laughing at the
trouble he went through. “You know, you didn’t have to dirty dishes on my
account. I would’ve been fine with takeout. I’m not a food snob.”
“That’s a good thing, because I’m not much of a cook.”
“Oh, and I am,” I say, referring to the pasta debacle.
“What a pair, huh?”
I shrug. “Could be worse.”
“I’ll drink to that,” he says, holding up his bottle of
beer. We clink bottles as we finish eating. To an outsider, I’m sure it looks
ridiculous. My fancy dress and necklace, sitting at a table eating take-out
Chinese food.
To me, though, it’s perfect. The man I’ve fallen for sitting
beside me, Chinese food, and a comfort I haven’t had with anyone else.
As much of a mystery as Jesse Pearce was a few months ago,
he’s become as familiar as my new self.
I like this new Avery. I like Jesse’s Avery. I like the
Jesse and Avery we are together.
So when we finish eating and he gives me the look I’ve come
to recognize, I lean forward, kissing him with a fervor I’ve reserved for this
moment, telling him wordlessly that I’m all his.
As he leads me back to the bedroom and hastily unzips the
dress he painstakingly picked out for me, I smile.
For a long time, I didn’t think I wanted to belong to any
man. For a long time, I thought this part of myself was shut down.
But as Jesse’s hands travel down to the familiar hot-pink
underwear I’m wearing, I feel myself let go of all of those ideas I had before.
I’ve come to realize it’s okay to be his, because Jesse
doesn’t hold me back. He makes me who I want to be. He makes me the best
version of myself.
Loving him might be a risk, and losing myself completely to
him tonight might be my undoing. Letting him go, though, is not an option, not
when he tosses me back on the bed, and I feel every part of my being succumb to
the tattooed hunk moving perfectly on top of me.
And so, after a night of learning what adult sleepovers are
actually all about and mastering the sex-hair look, I let go of my rule.
I’m all in. I’m all his.
Author Bio

An English teacher, an author, and a fan of anything pink
and/or glittery, Lindsay’s the English teacher cliché; she loves cats, reading,
Shakespeare, and Poe.

She currently lives in her hometown with her husband, Chad (her junior high
sweetheart); their cats, Arya, Amelia, Alice, Marjorie, and Bob; and their
mastiff, Henry.

Lindsay’s goal with her writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of
life while also instilling a true sense of realism in her work. Some reviewers
have noted that her books are not the “typical romance.” With her novels coming
from a place of honesty, Lindsay examines the difficult questions, looks at the
tough emotions, and paints the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look
at. She wants her fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and
powerful. Lindsay wants women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that
novel.” She wants to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing
a twist of something new and exciting. Her aim is for readers to say, “That
could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how she knows
she’s done her job.

Lindsay’s hope is that by becoming a published author, she can inspire some of
her students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. She wants
them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of
the realm of possibility.

 

Author Links

Happy Birthday, Desert Jewel

This time last year I was celebrating the release of my second book, Desert Jewel. This book is very important to me for different reasons.

One of the reasons is that I absolutely poured my heart out building the world of Desert Jewel and its characters. In a way, Desert Jewel is my humble homage to Africa and its people. I spent a lot of my childhood and teen years in different places in Africa and I wanted to somehow honor the magic of a world where the modern mixes with the ancient and science mingles with myths and superstition. Princess Milenda and her ex-slave, Jaali will always hold a special place in my heart. I recently finished writing the second in the series and will be starting the third and last one very soon.

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The other reason–and likely the most important–is that the publishing of this book in particular saved me from a very dark place. I have struggled with bouts of mild depression off and on all my life, but last year I went through one of the worst ever. I had to literally drag myself out of bed every morning and couldn’t take pleasure in anything at all. In fact, the morning I received the email from my publisher offering me a contract for this book, I had done just that–dragged myself out of bed, already in tears for no apparent reason and sat down to look through my emails just for something to do. I was on vacation in the mountains with my husband, but my mood was so low I hadn’t been able to enjoy any of it.

That email changed my life that morning. I’ve never told this to anyone, not even my family, but the kind words in that message just brought joy back to my life, the life I was beginning to believe to be worthless. Which goes to show you never know when a kind word may make all the difference in someone’s life.

So today I celebrate the one year anniversary of Desert Jewel’s release and a professional relationship that has enriched my life and given me great joy (and a LOT of work, lol). So let’s hear it for Hot Tree Publishing (hoot and holler)!!!

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I’m running a celebratory giveaway in my Facebook page. Go check it out for a chance to win an autographed copy of the book.

P.S.- Depression isolates. When you’re depressed you feel all alone, which in turn prevent those suffering from depression from seeking help. Keep an eye on those you love for signs of depression–withdrawing, frequent tears, lack of energy, indecision…my family thought I was just being difficult, couldn’t read the signs, an all too-common reaction. Don’t just assume they are being a pain. Dig deeper.

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Random Thoughts

The complete title for this post is actually Random Thoughts of a Romance Writer at a Book Festival and I collected them during my latest stint at a local Indie Book Festival. Not my first rodeo but same outcome, lol. The only thing that has changed is my attitude. I no longer feel depressed after an event, deciding to laugh about it instead.

Note to self: bring a fan next time. This is fall in the South. Holy crap, it’s hot!

Did I bring enough books? Did I bring too many books? OMG, am I going to sell ANY books?

My banner is crooked. I am not going to look at it. I am not going to look at it.

My table display looks too cheesy. My table display doesn’t look cheesy enough.

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The porta-potties smell like crap. Can’t wait to see how they smell after a couple hours in the sun.

This dragon pen I’m writing with is so freaking cool. OMG, I’m such a geek!

Forgot the sunscreen. Where in heaven’s name if fall weather?

Coffee! Yes, yes, yes. God is good, there is a coffee stand.

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No, it was not this big! Just a table with thermos.

Please, stop by my table, please, please…shit! Walked right on by.

One hour in, zero interaction… Do I smell bad?

Will I get to use my new Square? I want to play with it.

Look at it from the bright side: I’m getting a lot of vitamin d today.

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No, it’snot me!

OMG, I’m so hot. And not in a good way.

Yes, someone has actually signed up for my newsletter. Score!

Great informal romance panel. Made me feel better.

Awesome meeting other authors. Lots of romance writers. Represent!

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Yes, they were all there!

What a cute little guy. I wonder if he would like one of my books when he grows up? Oh,no, he’s trying to eat my book.

I sold two books. I sold two books.

I was told my display looks very professional. Proud little moment.

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Yes, it’s me.

Why are my book earrings always a lot more popular than my books?

I have no moisture left in my body. I think I may be slowly mummifying.

Aahhh…air conditioning. Another rodeo done!

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Also not me.

Hooray For The Characters

I recently had to write the acknowledgment page for my latest book and I realized that I have never thanked my characters. “What?” you may say. “Have you totally lost your mind?” Possibly, but in this case I mean it. I owe my characters a serious token of my undying gratitude.

Characters are more than made up people in a story, figments of an author’s fertile and often feverish imagination. Once created and developed into the pages of a book, they become real–real to the author who made them up and real to the readers who love them. Most of my friends growing up were fictional characters in books.

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Likewise, the characters I created in my romances are very real to me. I feel toward them with the same intensity that I feel toward flesh and bone people. Some I love, some I hate, and some may even leave me a little indifferent.

Marcy, the witch, from Blind Magic has carved a very special place in my heart. I’ve written about her before, about how she started as just a funny side kick on Loved You Always and developed such a big personality I had to write her story. Well, it is written. Blind Magic, which will be released in November, tells Marcy’s story.

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Marcy is at first glance very different from me, but if you dig deeper you’ll find that there is a lot of Natalina in the quirky witch. Like her, I was always the oddball growing up, even within my own family. I never wore the same type of clothes my school mates were wearing, admired artists who everybody thought were weird, and was always the one people came to with their problems. I was a good listener, a problem solver, and yes, I even liked polka dots just like Marcy. Believe it or not I even had strawberry blond hair when I was younger–and not from a bottle.

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Me aged eighteen.

Her man in the book, the dashing Oliver Dawson, reflects–without going into details so I don’t give up any spoilers–a deep, irrational fear of mine. One I still often have nightmares about. Writing it into the swoon-worthy and oh-so-brave detective helped me face and fight that fear.

I may just begin adding my characters to the list of people I often thank for their support because they so deserve it. They fill my world with friendly faces, something to look for, and they are the best therapists a girl could ever wish for.

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What do you think? Do you ever feel strangely attached to a fictional character and find yourself thinking of her/him as if a real person?

Monster – A Poem

I don’t do poetry. I’m not good at it, simple as that. But once in a while there are feelings that seem better expressed with a few words.  I wrote this during one of those moments when your heart is bleeding and you don’t know what to do to stop it. I’ve said it often, writing is my therapy and somehow just writing it down makes it feel a little better.

The Monster

Loneliness is a monster

That chews on your heart

Sucks up your brain

And swallows your soul.

Nothing worse than this fear

Of being alone in a crowd

Succeeding but no one to share it

Passionate and nobody caring

Talking but no one listening

Crying and nobody seeing it

Hurting and no one noticing.

Loneliness is a monster

I want to slay but can’t fight

A monster who’s winning

My joy for life as the prize.

 

P.S.- If you feel like this, know you’re not alone and that even though that’s no consolation, there is a strange comfort in knowing someone else somewhere understands how you feel. Never hesitate to reach out to a friend, a therapist, maybe even a stranger…and when everything else fails, write it down. There is magic in the written word.

 

Finding balance (Or How Not To Go Bonkers)

Finding balance

(Or how not to go bonkers trying to make it as a writer.)

I was reading a friend’s post recently where she mentioned having dreamed all her life of becoming a writer because as an introvert it seemed to be her dream job–on her own, quietly writing away, never having to interact with others.  Like her, I found out how fanciful that dream was. Being a writer may have been at one point an introvert dream job but today is nothing but.

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If I was still wondering whether the madness that has become my life since my first book was published was a normal occurrence in this profession, every panel I attended at RT-Atlanta confirmed it certainly was.  Ever since RT I have attended another workshop for authors and the refrain is always the same: market, promote, interact, do, do, do…

Being a writer, it turns out, is not that different from being a parent–nobody ever tells you that after that baby’s born you’ll never have another moment’s peace.

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Don’t like to interact with others? You’re in the wrong business.

Don’t like to toot your own horn? Wrong business. No one will do it for you (unless you pay them handsomely)

Never been much of a salesperson? Well, honey get ready to become a salesman extraordinaire.

There are promos to post, reviewers to chase down and win over. Adverts, teasers, banners to design, set up and post. Giveaways to organize, swag to either buy or make, signings, symposiums, workshops, and conferences to attend… are you tired yet?

Oh yeah, and there’s the small matter of actually writing–editing, revising, blurb and synopsis drafting, submitting it to publishers or, if you’re self-published, formatting, finding a cover designer… holy crap, it never ends.

There are online takeovers, interviews, blog tours, newsletters… it’s truly insane.

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So how do you keep from going totally bonkers? Several writers at RT mentioned a schedule. “A schedule? What’s that? I thought us authors were supposed to be a wild bunch that go with the flow, allowing the muse to determine our path, no deadlines, no commitments.” Right!

So a schedule, as simple an idea as it is, it’s the perfect little tool that may stand between sanity and total madness. I haven’t quite mastered it yet but I fully intend to. Here are some resources that may help you–and me–find that much needed balance in your life as a writer. In the meantime, don’t be shy and share your wisdom in the comments. What does your schedule look like? What things do you do to keep sane among the chaos?

Advice on how to plan your writing day

Useful forms and templates 

Inspiration from famous writers 

An Introvert In The Crowd

My New Year’s resolution was to be more outgoing and challenge myself to attend lots and lots of writing-related events.

Let me explain why this is important and difficult to me. I’ve always been an introvert. I love people and I do like socializing, but when that involves crowds bigger than two or three it all becomes too stressful for me. Even in small groups, socializing always requires at least a few hours (a few days being ideal) of decompressing and quietness afterwards. I lack the self-confidence that would allow me to feel comfortable hanging out with people I don’t necessarily know very well. My anxiety makes me question everything I say or do constantly (it’s exhausting) and if I decide to just be silent–which I do more often than not–then I chide myself for being unsocial and unnoticeable. Such is the life of a true introvert; we don’t want to be noticed but also don’t want to vanish into the background–and we envy those who always seem to so effortlessly steal the limelight.

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I have challenged myself all my life in this arena. As a young woman I chose a profession that wouldn’t give me the option of NOT being around people and speak in public. I was a tour guide, in charge of large groups of people. I not only had to “herd” them from one place to another but also deliver long, detailed speeches about the places we were visiting, often in more than one language. I loved it, but everyday I had to go home and bury my head in the sand for a while.

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Before that, I worked in a ClubMed-type resort where I had to crawl out of bed super early and–oh the horrors–sit and make small talk with the guests during breakfast (in French). I also had to get on stage every night and perform some kind of skit–sometimes a lip-synced musical, a mime, or a comedy skit. So out of my comfort zone.

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I’m used to being always uncomfortable in social situations–doesn’t mean I have to like it–but I now fear it is hurting my writing career. So I challenged myself again and booked myself into various writing-related events. I just came back from RT Atlanta, one of the biggest romance writers and readers convention in the US.  I had a lot of fun meeting and getting to know my publisher and all the ladies that work for her–editors and writers. What an amazing team I’m part of.  I’ve been back for three days and my neck and shoulders are still recovering from the tension of meeting new people.

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Yesterday I attended an outdoors book sale where I met two other romance writers and in spite of my lack of confidence I actually interacted with the public and even sold a couple books.

In August I’m sitting on my second panel of the year. It’s not an easy thing for me to do even if I will be talking about one of my favorite things in writing–world building–but I’m hoping to put myself “out there”, make myself recognizable and network.

I have signed up for meetings, workshops, book signings…I’m doing the branding, marketing “thing”. It’s exhausting and gratifying all at once. Take my word for it; it’s not easy being an introvert in a very extrovert world.social battery

How many introverts out there? Do you ever challenge yourself? Share your experiences with us.I’d love to hear from you.

 

The Vexing Issue of Time

The great J.K. Rowlings once said, “Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.”

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It’s heartwarming and validating to know that even the great writers of our time, those who have met with immeasurable success and I would kill to have as my best friends (well, most of them) and/or mentors still struggle with the same problems a writer of little or no renown like me. Unfortunately it doesn’t make the issue any less vexing to the likes of writers who like myself have to actually fight for a few minutes of sacred writing time in a world that demands your attention 24/7. And when you do stand up like “a Hungarian Horntail” to defend that time you are viewed as selfish and/or neglectful of your responsibilities (even when those so-called responsibilities comprise of watching your husband sleep in the recliner with the news blaring on the TV) .

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I know I’m preaching to the choir, but I had to vent. I have had one week of what should have been blissful free time while my students are enjoying their Spring break, and for the most part I did manage to write a bit (and edit), but I was looking forward to a great many days of having nothing else to do but catch up on my long overdue reading, great TV shows and movies, and yes, time to indulge in my two WIPs without guilt. It didn’t happen quite that way.

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I had family over for most of the break. Don’t get me wrong: it was great to see and get to interact with these ladies. I had fun. Just not the writing “fun” I so yearn for–you know, those peaceful moments when you can write without feeling (or made to feel) guilty you are not being the good host, or washing the dishes, or cooking a healthy meal. The moments when you can reach out to your laptop the minute you get an awesome idea, or that instance when you figure out that character who’s been bugging you for weeks.

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Tomorrow I go back to my day job and my sweet (however energy-sucking little creatures they may be) students which leaves me with a very short daily window to get any writing done and no time or energy to read or do other activities that inspire me to write.

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I’m already looking forward to Memorial Day Weekend! Who’s with me?