Saturday, December 19, 2009

Welcome Kate Austin

I hope this blog helps you have a happy (and productive) holiday season. We all know that the holidays (any kind of holidays) can put us off our game, our writing game, that is. So I’ve developed a few hints to keep you in the swing of it.

ONE: The number one thing – whether you’re published or soon-to-be-published – you have to remember is to give yourself a break. If you miss a writing day or don’t make your targets for word or page count, don’t beat yourself up over it. Take a deep breath and forgive yourself. This season is meant to be joyous.

TWO: Whether you’re published or not and you haven’t figured this out already, don’t put December or January deadlines in your contract or your schedule unless you absolutely have to. Something always comes up to make these deadlines difficult, if not impossible. You want to enjoy the season and your writing and you won’t be able to do either if you’ve got a deadline in the midst of the excitement.

THREE: Try and do what absolutely has to be done ahead of time. There are some things I have to do no matter how busy I am with dinners and shopping and evenings out with friends. I know that sometime between now (I’m writing this on December 16) and January 1st I have a bunch of things that have to be done. If I’m doing them at the last minute, I’m not going to enjoy any of them nor any of the fun things I want to be doing for the holidays. Plus, if I’m doing them in a hurry, there is no way I’m doing my best work. So I try and set out my schedule (something I hate doing with a passion – I’m a spontaneous kind of person) on paper and do one thing every couple of days. That way, I can enjoy the process and also enjoy the season.

FOUR: Writing is not only an art, it’s a job. You’re allowed, encouraged, in fact, to take a holiday. If this is the best time of the year for you to take a holiday, book it just the way you would book time off from a nine to five job. Planning to take the time off allows you to enjoy yourself and not feel guilty about it.

FIVE: But, if you’re the kind of writer who loses her way if she takes too long away from the manuscript in process, plan to write for half an hour every day. That won’t take anything away from your holiday enjoyment, but will allow you to keep the story in your head and make you feel good about yourself at the same time.

SIX: Remember that these holidays aren’t just for you, but also for your family and friends. You help them enjoy their holidays by being relaxed and available to spend time with them. You’re as important to them as they are to you so your joyous celebration of the holidays adds to their celebration.

SEVEN: Guilt gets you nowhere. If you take a day or two or even a whole week off, don’t feel guilty about it. Enjoy those moments and come back refreshed and relaxed and ready to start 2010 with a great attitude.

All of you probably have ideas about ways of making the holidays work for you. Please, let us know what schemes and plans you’ve made.

Every person who posts a comment on this blog before Sunday evening will be entered to win one of my books and two people will win. If you want to pick a specific book, go to my website and check out the book list, otherwise I’ll pick one for you.

Kate Austin


Karyn Good said...

Welcome to the Prairies, Kate. We're very happy to have you visiting here today! Thanks also for all your helpful hints for keeping sane during the holidays season.

This holiday season I'm joyfully embracing hint Number Seven and I know I'll get back on schedule after Christmas holidays are over, refreshed and renewed. Although next year I hope to be more organized so I can meld some writing with all the holiday fun!

Thanks for the helpful reminder about not feeling guilty :)

Janet said...

Thanks for joining us here today, Kate - and your blog is very timely as we all try and fit in writing during the busy holiday season.

Your first point is the most important, I think. We all have enough to feel guilty over without adding writing to the list. And anything I feel guilty about takes the passion and joy right out of it.

Over the holidays, I'm trying to take an hour every night before bed to write. No interruptions, no Internet - in fact, I've dusted off the old laptop that has no wireless connection. So far it seems to be working. Of course, if something prevents me from writing (like a late night at a house party), then I just let it go.

Looking forward to hearing other people's holiday routines :)

Vince said...

Hi Kate:

You have a great website. I wish every author would have a ‘printable book list’ like you do. On some sites its so hard to find out which books the author has written, you’d think she was trying to keep her backlist a secret.

I’ve been in creative work most of my life and it has its unique problems. In most jobs you can do the job even when you don’t feel like doing it. But in creative work, when you are faced with 'the tyranny of the blank page' (screen), and you don’t feel like doing it, you probably can’t.

I like doing what Hemingway advised: stop writing for the day when things are going very well. That way it will be very easy to pick up where you left off. This is incredibly hard to do because when you are in the flow, you don’t want to stop. But I can say this: it does work.

I noticed on your site that it looks like you can write any type of romance. Do you have plans to try a new subgenre in the future? I think it is very interesting to read an author’s first attempt at a new genre or subgenre.

BTW, I really like your ‘soon to be published’ turn of phrase. I will be using that myself in the new year. I also like your photo. I think you can get the best pictures by shooting from above. I think more authors should try this camera POV.



Helena said...

Hi, Kate. It's nice to welcome you into the ranks of our Honorary Chicks!

Loved all your hints for the holiday season, especially the ones designed to dispel guilt. (Are writers the most guilt-ridden people, or what?)

I do schedules for myself, even during 'normal' times of the year, but I don't stick to them very well:)

Went for a quick peek at your website and blogs, and I know I will be back. I was particularly interested in seeing how many of the titles from the Next line you were involved with. I really liked that line, and one title that I especially enjoyed was Sunshine Coast News.

If I were to be picked as a winner, are those still available to choose from? But not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I would be happy to read any of your books, I'm sure.

One tip I didn't see on your list was some remedy for spending too much time reading splendid blog posts. One of my failings. So, must go ....

Kate Austin said...

Karen, I'm with you - I'm working on the guilt-free holiday season and I do it by promisin8g a concerted effort between December 27 and January 15 to catch up. Sounds like your system is working as well.


Kate Austin said...

Karyn, sorry I spelled your name wrong, my partner was watching some police chase on TV and I got distracted :)


Kate Austin said...

Janet, good for you for committing to that hour. Me, I'm saving up all my hours and putting them into the weeks following the holidays. I have a book I want to finish and I can do it in those 17 days if I really really really focus!


Kate Austin said...

Vince, when you have a deadline you learn to write even when you don't feel like it and the good news? Even if I'm feel like I'm struggling with every single word some days, two weeks later, when I read the pages over, I can't tell the days when I felt like it from the days when I didn't. It took me a long time to learn that, but once I did, I was much more willing to work through the days when every sentence was a slog.

I think for me it's not that I can write any kind of romance (I started out writing poetry and literary fiction) but that each story starts out with a different feeling for me so it ends up as something different.

Right now I'm working on a women's fiction book (a woman's journey rather than a romance - which some of the books on that list are) that starts in 1912 and runs right through to 1952 - it's about a woman's search for her mother and for herself. I'm really enjoying writing it though the complicated structure does through me off a bit. I can't stop and start with it - which means I need focused time for it.

And don't compliment me for the printable book list - my webmistress (who I love) suggested it. Even I love it when I need to give someone an ISBN.

I have a very good friend who is a photographer and we took dozens of photos that day - this one is my favourite though not others.


Kate Austin said...

Helena - I really miss the Next line. They had terrific books but I think they had trouble marketing it - those kinds of books take time to catch on and a month on the shelves wasn't long enough.

And yes, I have copies of all of my books so whichever one anyone picks will be on its way by mail.

Blogs aren't always (though they are sometimes) my time waster - I'm a huge reader and once I get started, I can't stop. That's definitely my addiction.


Jana Richards said...

Hi Kate,
Glad you could join us on the Prairies. Since my family and I will be away for a few days over Christmas I'm definitely taking time off. But I've promised myself some uninterrupted writing time when we get home until I have to go back to work.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Vince said...

Hi Kate:

I’m very interested in your new book project. I love that period in history. I have a teaching minor in history and I’d like to recommend two books you might find helpful.

Allen, Frederick Lewis (1931). “Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s.”

“Since Yesterday: The 1930's in America,” September 3, 1929 to September 3, 1939.

The above are history books that read like novels and have the kind of things in them that writers could most use as background.

Also: a very good book about the WWII years is “Letter From Home” by Carolyn Hart. It is a novel but it really carries the feel of rationing and what it was like to live in Oklahoma in 1943. This is also very much a woman trying to find herself. It’s something very different from Hart’s mysteries.

As far as female subjectivism goes, (one of my favorite genres,) I would suggest reading the first three diaries of Anais Nin. Her diaries are often considered one of the five best diaries ever written in the Western world. (Don’t compare them to her fiction.)

Another great book about the late 1940’s and early 1950’s is "Shadowlands". This is the story of the love affair and marriage of the Christian philosopher, C. S. Lewis. He wrote “The Four Loves” and I think his is one of the great love stories of the 20th century. There are also two movies called “Shadowlands”. The Brits insisted on doing their own version. (He died on the day JFK was shot.)

I wish you well and I’ll be looking for your book.


Kate Austin said...

Jana, good choice. We're going away for a couple of days - Christmas Eve and Christmas itself to a small community east of Vancouver, Harrison Hot Springs. We'll bask in the hot pools and eat wonderful food. Two days off will be like heaven!


Kate Austin said...

Vince, thanks for the suggestions. World War I is really my passion in terms of history - mostly because of the English poets and writers and the whole birth of psychiatry around shell shock, women's rights and sexuality and the way those things changed the way we see the world.

My favorite books about the Great War are a trilogy by an English writer, Pat Barker. They're fabulous - they're called Regeneration, The Eye in the Door and the Ghost Road. I highly recommend them.

I'm just finishing the book and then sending it off to my agent sometime in January. If you sign up for my newsletter, you'll be one of the first to know when it sells!