Resolve–or was that dissolve?

Sharon Ashwood
April 6, 2010  •  No Comments

I remember making resolutions. A lot of stuff about maintaining my personal blog, writing every day, flossing, exercise, and on and on.

pileofmanuscript
Resolutions are typically a sign of dissatisfaction. There’s something you want to improve. But, unless you fix the cause underlying the behaviour, chances of a resolution sticking are slim.

So, as one watches one’s self-improvement plan fall to pieces, there are two options:

1. Quit the day job so there’s more time to address the underlying reasons why there’s no time to, say, exercise, or
2. Make more attainable resolutions.

Sadly, my bank account strongly suggests the latter.

As deadlines begin to squeeze one into a smaller and smaller space (I always think of those rooms with moving walls, like in the old Get Smart TV shows), it’s time to prioritize. Focus on the stuff you really have to do. Get rid of extraneous ambitions until the crisis is past.

My 2010 resolutions (revised) are as follows:

1. I promise to get out of bed at least once a day.

sleepy_puppy

I like it. Short. Simple. The rest of my energy is going to be spent writing my book–since making my deadlines had better be a resolution I don’t break!

What’s your non-negotiable resolution?


It’s April 1

Sharon Ashwood
April 1, 2010  •  No Comments

jordan-kitchen My human is out of service. I am her cat, also known as the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness. I have no idea why she calls me that. Not one.

Today, I am blogging on her behalf, which means typing on the silly black box on her desk. I wasn’t very happy about it until I figured out that there are other things this black box does, too. I went to eBay and bought 5,000 pounds of fresh mackerel on my human’s credit card account. I hope she doesn’t mind. The fish should be lovely and smelly by the time it’s delivered—just right.

But I’m supposed to talk about her writing. What do I know about that? She comes home, throws food in a bowl for me, and sits at the black box. And sits. And sits. Sometimes she makes faces at the screen, or laughs hysterically. That’s really disturbing to watch.

Human plots are stupid.

“He’s a hero,” I say. “Make him pounce on something. He’s probably hungry by now.”

Instead, she makes her hero strut around in tight leather. No pouncing there, unless he does himself an injury. Like, get a fur suit. It’s comfortable and looks good in all seasons.

If that’s not bad enough, half the book is talk. No wonder it takes 400 pages to tell a story. It would be two sentences if a cat wrote it. Whack the villain on the head; jump on the girl. What’s left to do? They talk about beastly Alpha males, but a real beast would have the whole business wrapped up by the end of the prologue: Whack. Girl. Fish dinner. The end.

I guess that’s why cats aren’t writers.

The human will be back soon.


Sanctuary

Sharon Ashwood
March 30, 2010  •  No Comments

Anybody else out there a fan of the TV show Sanctuary? I’m shamelessly hooked. It airs here at dinnertime on Fridays, which is perfect for me. Kind of a treat for making it through the work week.

So I was devastated to realize that there won’t be any new episodes until fall. Grrr!

Well, at least there are more episodes. Whenever I publicly endorse a TV show, as that seems to be the kiss of death. The last one I cheered on was Primeval, and I think it was nearly eaten by a T-Rex … though the web site says the show was “thrown a lifeline.” I wonder what that means?


To purge or not to purge?

Sharon Ashwood
March 29, 2010  •  No Comments

Okay, so I succumbed and finally bought an electronic reader—a Sony touch-screen model. The first book I decided to read on it is Richelle Mead’s Succubus Blues. I like her Vampire Academy series a lot and was pleased to find this is fun, too.

My big motivation in getting an e-reader was space. I don’t want to stop reading books as they come out, but I’m drowning in them. Sadly, the library doesn’t have the budget to stay current on all my fave authors (much less new ones), so just borrowing the books isn’t an option.

There’s a charity book sale here once a year, and I’d like to thin out the shelves at home. More like: get everything on a shelf and not in heaps on the floor. I just wonder how many volumes will actually make it out the door once I start reading the back covers? Parting with books isn’t as easy for me as I like to pretend.


The weekend

Sharon Ashwood
March 28, 2010  •  No Comments

I’m bad about creating a monster to-do list that discourages me before I even start. I tried to keep it modest this weekend, but time has still outrun my chores.

Top of the pile was finishing up page proofs for UNCHAINED. I was pleased with the result. After a gazillion rewrites, the end product is nice and shiny and, best of all, it’s off to the book factory.

Other excitement included mailing all those darned things to mail, cleaning out my inbox, scoring a roommate for the Nashville conference, and lining up my thoughts about publicity for UNCHAINED. Any suggestions out there?


Ashwood on ebook

Sharon Ashwood
March 20, 2010  •  No Comments

Woo-hoo. For those who care about e-books, UNCHAINED with be available in both virtual and paper forms. Someday maybe the backlist will be available, but for now I’m happy to be catching up with technology. (No, it’s not me or my publisher who’s holding up the works, so please don’t ask Penguin about it.)

On a personal level, I’ve been a slow sell on electronic formats. I really do like physical books best, but experimenting with a Sony reader convinced me of the virtues of the zoom feature. After staring at a computer screen all day, the big print size is a blessing.


About those social networks …

Sharon Ashwood
March 18, 2010  •  No Comments

I’d just like to comment here about Facebook and MySpace activities. Some of you very kindly have sent me invitations to participate in various games etc on the social networks, and I really appreciate being included in your thoughts. I would like to apologize for not participating, and if I wasn’t at work all day I probably would. If I haven’t joined in or you don’t see me commenting on your posts all that often, don’t think it’s because I’m not interested. I really do enjoy sharing virtual time with you.

I have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. I try and log in at least once a day, but I don’t always make it. I give my best at-home hours to actually writing and catch up with “fun stuff” after I’ve run out of words. How much I do depends on how late it is when I finish my pages for the day.


Judging

Sharon Ashwood
March 17, 2010  •  No Comments

I recently finished reading through a pile o’ books for the Romance Writers of America published author awards aka the Ritas. That makes the third contest I’ve judged this year—I also did my local chapter’s contest and the RWA unpublished author contest (aka Golden Heart). I somehow managed to sign up for that last one accidentally but I actually really enjoyed the entries I got, so it was all good. However, it does show you how much of a hazard I can be on-line when I’m not paying attention.

It’s always a strain on my schedule to do the judging—it always falls at the busiest time of year at my job—but it’s one of the ways I can give back to the writing community that has been very good to me. It also forces me to pick up books I wouldn’t otherwise consider, and I’ve found some great authors. It’s against the rules to comment on individual books, but I can say that this year I found one author I’ll be watching for on the shelves.


Spring tonic

Sharon Ashwood
  •  No Comments

lavenderI’ve encountered literal spring tonics—old fashioned recipes (usually not-so-yummy) involving rhubarb, lemons and herbs. I think their original purpose was to restore a lot of nutrients depleted after a winter without fresh vegetables. Or perhaps some sort of severe retribution. In any event, I’ve added them to my list of “why not to be a pioneer,” along with wool underwear and shovelling the pig sty.

Today, we’re not so much in need of tonics for the body as for the mind. Most of us approach spring with ritual: a new haircut, cleaning closets, washing the car, and cleaning up the garden. Others go on a diet or dust off the bike. For me, it’s washing windows. Bright, clear spring light cheers me up every time. It’s like tidying up old chapters and turning the page. It’s a natural time to dream of growing new projects, letting in fresh air, and doing the world over in bright, happy colours.

This time the season has something extra for me. Those who’ve followed my adventures over the last years will recall dark tales of courses and exams. Tuesday I attended my convocation, finally putting the official seal on a financial management certificate that took me six years to complete. It does feel like springtime after a long, hard winter. It’s a relief to finally tie up that particular project, and make room for something fresh.


A ticket to write

Sharon Ashwood
March 16, 2010  •  No Comments

One of my fellow Silk and Shadows bloggers, Jessa Slade, just posted about getting away on a writer’s retreat to churn out the pages. It sounds like a lovely thing to do, and one I should try sometime.

Or not. I’m not a great traveller. In fact, I fervently hate it eighty percent of the time. The other twenty is like some sort of migratory lemming impulse, because I suddenly MUST go somewhere, anywhere, or go mad. This love/hate relationship with the open road makes planning difficult. I never know which mood I’ll be in when it’s time to pack my suitcase.

Nevertheless, the area where I live is dotted with fine places to go if you have the time and money. Saltspring Island is one of the nicest places on earth, closely followed by the Tigh-na-mara resort near Rathtrevor Beach. My personal favourite is Point-no-point: cabins with fireplaces, endless beach, good food, seals, stars and tidal pools. Once upon a time, a Celtic folk group I played with was planning new material and we went there to brainstorm. It was an amazing weekend. There is something about all that sea air that gets the brain cells moving. Or maybe it was the single malt?

I haven’t done many weekend trips over the last few years, and most of the writing-on-the-road stuff has occurred due to deadlines colliding with other necessities. Nevertheless, that’s led to discovery. Writing in hotel rooms works for me. I spent a large chunk of the last writer’s convention I went to blasting through the end of SCORCHED. I think all those other writers must have psychically helped out, because the words just flowed. Or maybe it was the mini-bar?

I dunno. Whether or not one is happy living out of a suitcase, taking the muse for a vacation seems to help. But why? Lack of interruption? The novelty of a strange environment? Not feeling obligated to jump up and do laundry? I would think the inconvenience of moving shop would have the opposite effect, but it seems I’m wrong.


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