Retreat to Regenerate

I’ve attended a few writers’ conferences and for the most part, I find them exciting. What better place to meet and mingle with fellow writers and readers, as well as publishers, agents and all-around book people? It’s a fertile, common ground we stand upon and share. At conferences, I’ve participated in speed dating (where authors have a minute to pitch their book(s) to a table of ten, ten times; I’ve been on stage as a debut novelist babbling to the conference world about my first book, and I’ve had the great pleasure of being a panelist at conferences and a workshop leader, discussing all sorts of wonderful topics. Exciting stuff, right? Right. Except, it can also be exhausting.

Conferences typically offer a boatload of activities. And the vast majority are hard to miss. But we writers are mostly quiet folk who need to withdraw, now and then, to rejuvenate. At least, that’s true about this author. I need time to do nothing, think nothing, speak nothing. If I don’t slow down, I tend to pay for it by dragging myself around.

Sometimes, it’s hard to back off when everyone else looks like they’re enjoying and thriving on constant interaction. But a little time to oneself can help re-energize the mind and body. Here are a few ways I slow down to re-boot myself at conferences:

– Take a walk. At the Malice Domestic conference, I took time to leave the venue and take walks. Boy, am I glad I did because the surroundings were lovely and I came back feeling refreshed!

– Take a nap. I’m not one for napping, but I am one for lying down in a quiet space for about ten – twenty minutes. I feel like a new person once I’m up and running again.

– Walk barefoot in the grass or sand. I’ve not tried this one at a conference, but I have on my own; feeling nature beneath my bare feet does wonders.

– Calm the mind by sitting quietly and focusing on breathing in and out. This forces me to slow down to feel energized afterwards.

Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of peace and quiet to restore the mind and the body.

Banishing Negative Book Reviews

Have you ever been stung by a bee? If you have, you know it’s painful from the moment the stinger pierces your skin. Ouch!

The sharpness of the pain can blot out the rest of the world. Eventually, you handle it and the pain lessens. So it is with a rejection letter or a bad review. They can sting at first, but it’s vital we take care of it before the pain takes over. In this post, I’m going to focus on overcoming the bad review.

For writers, books really are like our children. We give birth to the book, nourish and fuss over it, clean it up if the book seems messy, giving it all we’ve got. Sometimes, it keeps us up at night, makes us cry, brings us joy or drives us bonkers. We try to breathe life into our creations (on page, of course). It ain’t easy pouring pieces of our heart and soul into our writings. We expose our strengths and weaknesses, setting them loose in the world for all to see. If we writers are introverts, it makes the setting loose part all the more uneasy.

I’m very grateful for the lovely reviews I received from so many people I don’t know. VERY grateful. And I really don’t mind reviews that aren’t so great; my books aren’t going to appeal to everyone. Even so, when that not so lovely review contains barbs, it can sting. Sometimes, when we’re stung, we may stumble and fall and wallow awhile, before getting back up on our feet. Wallowing is no fun. Unless you’re a pig, of course.

There is no way to know what the book reviewer was thinking, feeling or expecting when reading our work. I’ve been known to open a book, dislike it instantly and put it away, only to come back to read it later and find I enjoyed it. When we send our human kids out into the world, they may not please everyone, but that’s not the goal, is it? The objective is to do our best at whatever task we undertake. That way our sense of accomplishment will not diminish, and what others say or think won’t matter. Also, it doesn’t hurt to read bad reviews given to great books to realize just how little bad reviews matter.

Why Blog?

Long time no see.

I think about writing a blog post, but when it comes right down to doing it, I’m either at the day job, working on my next book, promoting my latest book or eating and sleeping. But today, I realized just how much my blog posts have enhanced my writing life, and maybe even helped one or two of my dear readers. Here’s what I mean:

Beginning in April, with the release of MURDER GONE MISSING, I started my book tour, which meant I had the pleasure of giving a few talks. But what to talk about? That’s where my blog posts came in handy.

For my first stop, I appeared at an authors’ luncheon where I had to speak for two minutes or less about me and my books. I browsed through my blog posts and came up with my speech. I used the same speech (with a little bit of alteration) at the Malice Domestic Conference’s author speed dating where I visited twenty tables of ten listeners to talk about my books.

Fast forward a month or so, and my talks expanded. Which meant my blog posts were even more handy. After all, my whole writing journey appears in various forms in posts.

And where do you think I go when I need writing motivation? That’s right – first, I read quotes from BIG time authors, but eventually, I make my way to my blog posts and remember how wonderful I felt when writing my first book, and how I managed to get it done in the past. Which reminds me that I can do it again.

When the day arrived where I co-led a workshop at a writers’ conference, I knew where to go for material. I needed to do quite a bit of talking; two and one-half hours’ worth. It was during my preparation for that workshop that I felt most grateful for all the time I spent writing my blog posts. At my workshop session, I harbored the hope that what I had to share would entertain, educate and inspire other writers.
They looked happy to me. What do you think?