Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Art of Switching Computers (and What That Does To Your Writing Groove)

I got a new computer!!!!

There was nothing wrong with my old laptop.  It wasn't bogging down, or crashing, or dropping my work left right and center.  The screen wasn't cracked (as my previous laptop was), nor was the mouse jumping all over the screen like a crackhead on the first.  In fact I still loved it and probably would have been happy with it for years to come.

So why did I need to get a new one, you may be asking?

Well, here's the thing.  I wasn't the one who needed a new laptop.  I wasn't the one who's cracked their screen by placing an earbud on the keyboard, forgetting about it, and then slamming it shut.  I wasn't the one running an outdated operating system that barely supported Minecraft and crashed every time Roblox was loaded.

Are you starting to guess who the biggest benefactor of this new computer is?

That's right.  The Spare.  My adorably brilliant youngest son will be inheriting my old laptop, which DOES support Minecraft and DOESN'T crash on Roblox.  He'll now be able to watch videos, play games, and do his homework on his own dedicated machine instead of having to share time with an older brother that sometimes likes to play the dictator over everything that he sees as HIS.

Don't worry, Mr. Postman is getting a new machine, too.  So the Heir is actually getting a gaming laptop for his personal use.  No feelings will be hurt in this upgrading of technology.

Now the downside to getting a new laptop is setting it up.  You have to meticulously go through your old laptop, find all of the programs that you use, set them up on the new laptop, and hope to God that you remember the password to that one program you use religiously, but haven't actually used the password in three years.

And then we've come to the real productivity killer...file transfers.  You start combing through all of your old pictures and documents, making sure you actually need them all, and suddenly you are sucked into a time vacuum where all you do is re-read story ideas you haven't thought about in five years, or look at baby pictures from that time your oldest peed all over your mother's new sofa after a bath (yes, I took pictures...don't judge me!).

After you've finally gotten all of that done, you've flashed your old laptop to factory default, and you've set up your browser to exactly how you want it, the time has come to actually write something.  So you sit down at your desk...


I serious spent ten minutes looking at the keyboard like it was a foreign entity.  It wasn't like I bought the computer sight unseen.  I actually sat down at the store and typed out a hundred words on three different laptops before settling on this one.  I researched everything I could understand and then had Mr. Postman research everything else.  I spent two days looking at laptops in the store after extensively looking for them online for over a week.  We still spent over an hour before making the final decision.  So this laptop was not supposed to be foreign to me.

Yet, it was always going to be.  This was not my old, familiar laptop that I had written nearly all of my books on.  It didn't have the familiar feel or the B-button that sticks.  It didn't make the familiar whirring sound or have the overly worn-out click pad.

But I only gave myself ten minutes.  Then I got to work.  This post is actually the first thing I've written on this computer, and I've found it a good introduction.  So...yay for new technology, boo for distractions, and woo hoo for getting back to work!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reading and Recommending Other Books (not just Romance - *gasp*)

So last week I boldly declared my position as a "Boy Mom Romance Reader and Writer".  Well I do read other books, too.  Not just Romance, though that is the genre I prefer most often.

For example, today I just finished reading The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy (I'm gonna write up a full review on my review site later), and I loved it.  It was released yesterday (May 2nd) but because I pre-order certain books, I got to start reading it Monday night.  And I didn't really want to put it down.

I've always had a love for fantasy books, but certain subject matters grab my attention more than others.  For example, my love for mythologies has me devouring Rick Riordan's books like a starving man at Hometown Buffet.  I've also tagged Neil Gaiman's books as must reads.  Any book that hints of Arthurian Magic will most likely enter my TBR list quickly as well (i.e. Harry Potter, Mists of Avalon, Dark is Rising Sequence).

On the flip-side, there are certain things that will keep me, personally, for starting a series.  A big one is book length.  Because my husband loves them, we own all of the Sword of Truth books and the Wheel of Time books.  However, I have not yet been convinced to delve into a series where the shortest book is more than 225,000 words.  Sorry, I just can't manage it.  I'm not saying I'll never do it, but I just don't have the attention span for it at the moment.

My position on reading and recommending books is pretty standard.  If you liked the book, leave a review.  Now it might take me a while to get around to writing said review (I read a lot of books, so that translates to a lot of reviews), but eventually a review will get written.  And this is necessary.  Why?  Well there are two reasons.

First of all, if you like a book, you want other people to be entertained by it too, right?  When was the last time you heard someone talking about a restaurant that you love and you didn't immediately think "Oh, I love their (insert desired dish here)!"  It is natural.  Well, that is what a review does for books.  It is a personal recommendation for a great experience.

Secondly, retailers need to know whether certain authors should be promoted more aggressively.  If an author has only a few reviews of their books on a retail site, they are not going to be promoted the same as an author that has 100+ reviews.  Even if the few reviews the first author has are all five-stars versus the 100 three-star reviews of the second author.  The second author is still getting reviewed.

That is why I am so solid on my point.  If I read and like your book, I will recommend (review) it for other readers.  I can only hope that my readers will do the same for me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Boy Mom Writing Romance

Most people know this about me, but in case you're new...I have boys.

Two of them.

Just boys.  No girls.  Not even a hope for a girl.

You see, my husband has two brothers and no sisters.  His father was also one of three boys and no girls.  His grandfather, while one of (I think) seven kids, only had one sister.

So the day I married Mr. Postman (who was not yet a mailman at the time) I was well aware of the fact that my chances of a girl were VERY slim.  I did have a girl name picked out, on the off chance that some miracle happened, but there was no point.  My little Kathryn was never going to be.

All of that being said, I have now reached the point that I don't really know what I would do with a girl.  I cut my boys' hair, yet I couldn't manage a french braid to save my life.  I am forever doing laundry, yet can you imagine how much more I'd have to do with girls?  My sister (who has three girls) would probably roll her eyes and say that I would be just fine, but I really kind of prefer my life as it is.  

I am a Boy Mom who writes romance novels.  Some people have seriously looked at me and my life and said things like "how do you find the time?" or  "would you let your boys read those?" or "are your books more about the guys than the girls?"

Oddly, I think those people forget that I AM A GIRL!

Just a brief note about my boys, as they are not exactly your typical children.  They are smart.  No...that is actually misleading.  They are SMART!  There I think that emphasis is enough.  

I know that every mother believes that their child is brilliant and creative and oh so special, but I am not just being the proud mom when I say they are geniuses.  I have actual testing to prove it.  And trust me when I say that having a genius child is not a walk in the park.  Having two is double "fun".

My oldest child is firmly on the Autism Spectrum.  He has Asperger's Syndrome and a whole other host of "prizes" to go with that lottery.  His natural leaning is toward math and logic, which is a hallmark for children with Asperger's.  If we can teach this kid to consider the flip-side of every argument, I am pretty sure he could be a world champion debater.

My youngest child is...well, probably a savant, but we haven't gotten there yet.  First we have to get past his ADHD.  He tested as gifted at the age of six.  The problem is, he is gifted in so many areas no one knows what to do with him.  Neither his brain, nor his body can settle on one thing.  His favorite thing in the world is Minecraft, and the only time I've ever seen him sit still is when he's translating a map from a book to the the age of SEVEN!  Can we say future engineer?

We are also heavily involved in Scouting.  I am about to transition into the position on Cub Master for my local Pack.  (Yes, I know, one more thing for people to question whether I have the time to be writing).  However, I love Scouting.  It is in my blood and I am actually looking forward to my new position.

How does this all translate into my writing?  Well, let me answer the other questions first.

Q#1 "How do you find the time?"
A: I just recently started using Google Calendar to make sure I don't double book appointments (which still happens, 'cause this morning found me looking at my Calendar asking how I was going to choose between three really important events happening in the same weekend).  On said Calendar I have appointments scheduled to write.  Twice a month I have a group of writers that I "retreat" with to do nothing but write uninterrupted for three hours.  Basically, I make time.

Q#2 "Would you let your boys read that?"
A: Not at the age of seven and ten, but in a few years...ABSOLUTELY!  The first person to ever buy one of my books was my older brother.  He has read all of them and finds them enjoyable.  A couple of the awesome romance writers I have recently gotten to know through my RWA Chapter, Rose City Romance Writers, are men.  Romance readers (and writers) come from every walk of life.  To pigeon hole anyone like that is to continue the perpetuation that reading Romance is shameful.  That just needs to stop now!

Q#3 "Are your books more about the guys than the girls?"
A: I actually try really hard to balance that dynamic.  To me both main characters are of equal importance in my books.  To make one of them stronger (characteristically) than the other is a disservice to the reader.  A common struggle for my male characters, however, is the fight against emasculation.  Situations that society at-large would deem "unmanly" tend to find their way into my stories.  For example, Jake Marshall's struggle with emotional control.  I hope that people will read my books and see humanity in my characters rather than gender, though.

Finally Q#4 "How does all of this translate into your writing?"
A: I am a fairly emotional writer and I write what I see around me.  Even though I have only boys, they have primarily female friends.  A couple of those friends have already inspired future heroines in my books.  So have conversations I have had with my boys.  One quote, directly out of the mouth of my then five-year old, made its way onto the pages of my second book.

In the end I think it comes down to the need to justify our reading/writing choices.  Why is that necessary?  Why can't we just enjoy what we read and write and move on?  So many authors and readers have answered the call to shout out their desire to break the chains of social bigotry, so here is my war cry: