Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Welcome Angela James - Executive Editor for Carina Press

When I sat down to write this post, I had a major case of writer's block. I could not, for hours, think of what to write. No ideas, no creative inspiration, nothing came to me. I started to panic. I'm under deadline. I'm past deadline. What will I do if I can't write this post? Will the Prairie Chicks publicly mock and ridicule me on their blog? Will they decide I'm unprofessional and don't follow through on my commitments? Will my employers at Carina Press decide I'm not serious about my job and decide to let me go? The longer I went without writing something, without putting one word to…virtual paper…the stronger my anxiety grew, the more (let's face it) ridiculous my fears, and the harder I tried to think of something. But my mind would not settle, it skittered around thinking about blog topics and went to easy things, like Christmas shopping and making a to-do list. Finally, I put my foot down. This is CRAZY! Just write something, anything. Don't let it get the best of you.

The truth is, I'm not an author. Well, not of fiction, anyhow. I've authored a whole lot of blog posts and articles over the years. But I still get writer's block, and knowing how hard it can be to overcome it writing only short posts and articles, I can only imagine how hard it is when it comes to an eighty thousand word book! But I understand about the concept of writer's block. I also know how hard it can be to meet deadlines for anything when you've got to worry about laundry, Christmas shopping, what's for dinner, your sick child, your past due bills and the one million and one other things we have to deal with in daily lives.

Starting up Carina Press has caused more than my fair share of block. Some days my brain gets so overwhelmed with my to-do list, I don't feel like I can do any of it, I don't know where to start, and sometimes, I feel like I'm peddling furiously on a stationary bike. But I know that I have obligations and deadlines, and if I want Carina Press to launch in the next millennium, I have to focus myself, keep on task, and get things done.

The same is true for authors writing the next book. There will always be distractions, always. Whether it's every day life or a family (and friends) who don't think writing is more than a hobby. You'll always have something pulling your mind from your book, making it difficult to concentrate and challenging you to meet your deadlines. So here's a tip: never stop thinking of writing as your job, as your business. Look for role models in the publishing industry. I'll point out Nora Roberts as one. She says often that writing is her job and she does it every day, for a set number of hours. I think her method has proven successful!

And I'll let you in on a secret--I work from home. I don't work in an office, with someone watching over my shoulder or making sure I punch a timesheet. I'm accountable to myself for the time I spend goofing off. And if I don't motivate myself to work during work hours, I have to make that up at night and on the weekends. And oh, I'm never away from work. It's always there! Working from home, no matter whether it's what I do or what you do, is HARD! People think because you're home, you have time to do things. For your family and for them. Run them to appointments, watch their kids, join them for lunch. Working from home is a hard concept for people to grasp, whether it's working from home full time, as I do, or working from home a few hours a day, writing, as you might do. But if you're serious about your writing career, about being successful, then it's up to you to make other people, friends and family, take you seriously and understand--you are WORKING.

Once you convince yourself that writing is your business, and that you have to meet your deadlines--whether publisher or self-imposed--or put words to paper, write the next book, carve out a few hours a day for working on your next book or edits or promotion, well then, you'll be well on your way to helping your friends and family realize the same, and will help you in your goals of building your career, your fans and well, your bank account!

While you're doing that, I'll be over here, motivating myself, marching forward, and checking off things on my to-do list as we move towards the launch of Carina Press. And waiting for all of you authors to finish writing that next book.

Angela James is the Executive Editor of Carina Press
You can also follow her on her own blog


Janet said...

Welcome to The Prairies, Angela! So glad you could take time from your busy day to join us. And I hear ya about working from home - just started a 'remote' job and while there are definite perks (like requisite work clothes of pajamas and less-than-new-but-oh-so-comfy sweaters), there are many drawbacks. Trying to find a schedule that keeps my butt in the chair will, hopefully, translate to some good writing habits :)

How is the launch of Carina Press going? Have you received tons of submissions? Any glaring mistakes writers are making that you could share with our readers so that when they submit, they'll understand the process better?

Karyn Good said...

Hi, Angela and welcome to the Prairies. It's a balmy minus 32 degrees here today. Brrr.

It's lovely to have the Executive Editor of newly formed Carina Press here today and it's good to know everyone involved in getting good reads available to people have issues with not enough time in the day or lots of juggling balls to keep in the air. This rings especially true this time of year.

I try very hard to write everyday and to think of it as a job I must do so it becomes a habit, keeps me focused and moves me forward towards my goals of publication. Some days it's easier like than others to accomplish. Like today. Sick child alert!

Looking forward to hearing more about Carina Press and it's spring launch.

Vonna Harper said...

Hi Angela,

Thanks for the Twitter letting folks know about this blog. Boy do I hear you about the home office, its pluses and minuses. I've been writing since dirt was new so know how to keep my butt in the chair, but the distractions (or should I say have tos) never end. A writer's time is flexible, or so they say, which translates to everything falling on his/her desk. No easy solutions, just keeping on the way Nora does. Just wish I had more in common with her.
Vonna Harper

Donna MacQuigg said...

Hi Angela, You're article hit the spot. I work at home and writing is my 'full-time' job that no one but me takes seriously. And, it's so easy to get sidetracked. Thank you for sharing.

Trace said...

I did Nano this year and finished. It was a huge lesson in discipline, and you really need to let the people around you know how serious you are. That's for sure.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Welcome Angela and everyone else. I sure could relate to you trying to think up a blog topic. As the Thurs writer of the Prairie Chicks, I've run into that a few times myself and only eeked out the post in the dying moments of the deadline.

And 80,000 words? My ms was 70K but an editor wanted 90K and I said, 'I can make it longer.' Ha! Guess what I'm doing these days. :)

I really like the convenience of ebooks and am very glad Harlequin has ventured out to do this.

Thank you for giving us a portion of your time today. We really appreciate it.

Nicole Laurent said...

I feel your pain, Angela. Okay, not the same pain ... but the writer's block pain and the blog topic pain!

As a yet unpublished author, I've found self-imposed deadlines are my greatest motivator. I've lucked out and have a wonderful critique partner who is a successful and very published romance author who DOES have literal deadlines... so we set deadlines for me as well. And she nags, offers suggestions to get over humps and nags some more.(Where's chapter 17?! I'm waiting!)

And I agree, you just have to show up every day. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and just write, keep moving the story forward. Some days the muse is with you and some days she's not. The writer has to show up every day. But she CAN show up in pajamas.

Ann Victor said...

I wandered over here from Carina's blog and found this to be a very true post.

I've recently noticed a change in others - possibly because I've changed and am learning to discipline myself that if I *really* want to get published I have to be a professional even if I'm never published. Working from home does make that more difficult but it can be done as I'm steadily getting better at sticking to a set daily routine, no matter what happens in my life.

Heather said...

Hi Angela, Nice to meet you. I really enjoyed your article about working from home. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Silver James said...

Hi, Angela, from one honorary chick to another, welcome to the prairie! This is a truly wonderful place to visit and hang out.

I saw on twitter where you started notifying the first "class" of new Carina authors. That's got to be a rush for you! (And them, obviously -- lol!) I know what the site says, but what are *you* looking for in a submission?

Helena said...

So glad you could be with us today, Angela. I immersed myself in all the blog entries, and FAQs, about Carina Press when the first announcement came out, but I haven't checked back for some time to see 'what's new.' It's an exciting new venture, and I can understand if your nerves are a little frazzled.

Surely we get blocks happening when we are not able to focus for some reason, when our thoughts are flying off in all directions. I had to deal with that during NaNo this year, my first attempt, and it was tempting to get up and walk away for awhile. But that word count sword was hanging over my head, so I would just start on some new place in the novel, or write some dialogue, two people talking sometimes opens the floodgates. I never did use the list-making ploy which someone actually recommended.

So do you have any breaking news, or an update on Carina Press for us?

Thanks again for taking time to visit The Prairies!

Lu said...

Hi Angela, thanks for posting today. As an unpublished author without a day job I find setting personal deadlines to be the most difficult. There's always laundry, shopping or baking to do. And I make the mistake of thinking "I'll just do this one thing, and then I'll write". *snort* Yeah, that works.

I'm very excited about the launch of Carina Press and hope it's a huge success. I'll be submitting shortly ;)


P.S. See Janet? I said it in public so now I can't wimp out LOL!

Jana Richards said...

Hi Angela,
Thank you for joining us here on the Prairies, where the weather may be cold, but the hearts are warm.

I can so relate to your blog post right now. I've come to a screeching, grinding halt in my writing lately. It's frustrating to say the least. I'm hoping after the New Year I can get back into the swing of things by starting to write everyday again.


Linda Rader said...

You describe the problems of working from home well. I taught from home, as an online teacher in a charter high school and never worked so many long hours in my life! You are right about never being away from the work. And it's nice to know someone else gets writer's block. I like the line just write anything! I have to kick myself into doing that too.

Angela James said...

Thanks for having me! Actually, yesterday was a crazy day as I was working on the submissions inbox. We're reading furiously to start getting acquisitions in. We did make our first acquisitions this week, so we're very excited about that and I'll be blogging more about that on the Carina Press blog in the upcoming days.

The biggest error I see in submissions is not following the submissions guidelines. I'm simply shocked at how many people must not read them, because they don't include a query letter, synopsis or full manuscript!

Janet said...

I can imagine that submission box is very, very full! And congratulations to those who've received "The Call"!

Thanks so much for blogging with us yesterday, Angela. It was great to hear that not only writers get writer's block - and that working from home, no matter the job, is an opportunity to learn some time management skills that will lend themselves well to other areas of our lives.

We hope you enjoyed your visit to The Prairies - and good luck with Carina Press.

Ursula said...

You are dead right about working from home. You need to be on your game. As to treating writing as a business, the minute I switched gears and started turning my Type A on that road, I finished a book. I think it's more than carving the time, it's sending the message to yourself and the universe that writing is a 'for real' gig, not a hobby, and it's a valid use of your time even if it is for you and no one else. That's a powerful message, and a great gift to give yourself. I think it's critical if you plan any level of success in this biz.