~I'd like to welcome Andrea Stein at my blog as today's guest blogger~
Wife, Mother, Writer--How to juggle all three without losing your mind.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to post with you. I love the topic – about juggling because that’s what I feel like I have to do all of the time, in order to find time to write, or time for myself. There are lots of theories out there about how to be a writer – like write everyday, set production goals. For awhile I was a big goal setting and productivity junkie. But then I realized that most of those programs, plans are written by men – and not always single men but few were written by mothers with young children – children who aren’t yet in school for a good chunk of the time. While most moms certainly don’t want to hurry our kids along for our own selfish purposes, being the mother of small children is a very reactive and time consuming job.
If you get a nap time there are about a hundred other things competing for your attention – laundry, dirty toilets, organizing a birthday party. Not to mention your husband – the other kid – trust me they can get crabby if they think that they’re playing second fiddle to figments of your imagination.
So how do you, mom, wife, domestic goddess, find time to do something that is all speculative? You get selfish…but a short amount of time. I recommend the one month commando approach. Your mission is to write your first draft in about four weeks. Why four weeks (and it has nothing to do with nanowrimo) About four weeks is as just about as much time as busy mom and wife can duck out on her commitments. So how do you do it?
1. Outline – Know the story you want to write, be a plotter not a pantster – you don’t have the time to pants thing…save that for when you’re retired or you’re a full time novelist.
2. Pick a time and make it yours - I always admire the people who are early risers and can get up and write for an hour or two before anyone else is up. Or people who can stay up late, long after everyone else is asleep. If you’re one of them, do it. Reset your clock and your schedules and stick to it. Make it a habit.
3. Stop watching TV - DVR all of your shows and watch them on your day off from writing. There’s very little reason to watch live TV (you will break this rule – I did to watch the premier of Downtown Abbey)
4. Don’t be a domestic goddess – This doesn’t work for months at a time, but when you’re in first draft commando mode, then give yourself to let the cleanliness level of your house slide for a few weeks. Also meal plan and cook in bulk and freeze and pull out meals as needed. Yes, you will hear complaints, but your family will live, especially if it’s for a defined period of time.
5. Say No – Stop being a volunteer martyr. You do not need to run the bake sale, plan the block party or even socialize. Be selfish with your time. Feels weird – well remind yourself it’s only for a month. No one will miss your for a month. They will survive. Still can’t say no? Write up three catch all polite get out of it excuses, like “Hmm, I can’t this time, unfortunately I just can’t shake my goal – can you reschedule me for another time…” Keep these handy, memorize them and trot them out as needed.
6. Find a babysitter – your kids will probably like it. Hire a babysitter and instead of running errands or going for a ladies lunch, write – just make sure you leave the house or lock yourself away. You may balk at spending money on a babysitter so you can go write, but this will make the whole process go much faster…
7. Edit it Drips – once I have the bulk of the story down I find I can edit or write fill in scenes in smaller chunks, like if I have a few minutes free in the middle of the day.
Treat writing like a job. Writing, especially a novel is the ultimate investment – all the work happens up front with no guaranteed payout. But no one else will take your dreams seriously unless you do. So good luck – and don’t beat yourself up when you slip up. Overall writing is a marathon, not a sprint…but running for all your worth can sometimes get you where you need to be.
After a bitter break up and professional set back in London, twenty seven year old Caitlyn has returned to Queensbay to work for Maxwell Randall, an old family friend, at his financial management firm. So far, bit by bit, Caitlyn’s been rebuilding all she lost after Michael St. John broke her heart …and tried to ruin her professional reputation.
But her past comes back to haunt her when Maxwell unexpectedly turns up dead. Not only does Caitlyn find her career in jeopardy but her heart is too, when Noah Randall, Maxwell’s son, and her first love, returns to Queensbay. Once, ten years ago, Caitlyn was sure Noah was the one for her…but the tragedy of her grandfather’s suicide and Noah’s decision to leave town left her bereft…and determined never to trust him again.
Over the past decade, she’s managed to do her best to forget about Noah Randall and the lingering questions surrounding her grandfather’s suicide. But now that’s he back in town – rich and more handsome than ever, and she can’t help wondering what if? What if Noah really was the one?
Noah Randall left home ten years ago to seek his fortune – vowing never to return until he’d made a success of himself – and show Caitlyn Montgomery just what she’d given up. He returns to find that Caitlyn Montgomery has only grown more alluring with time. Noah’s always wanted he couldn’t have…and now he wants Caitlyn again. But she’s determined not to make the same mistake twice.
While Noah and Caitlyn are revisiting old ground – and forging a new relationship, there’s trouble brewing in Queensbay. Old secrets and new lead Caitlyn to believe that perhaps her grandfather didn’t kill himself – and that Maxwell’s death was no accident. But just how far will someone go to keep her – and Noah – from finding out the truth…and will Queensbay prove to have troubled waters after all?
Caitlyn Montgomery carefully let herself in the side door with the key hidden under the flowerpot. Police tape fluttered along the back of the house, the side that faced the water, but here, under the small overhang, there was nothing, only a chilly October breeze and the more distant sound of the water lapping at the rocky shore.
The house was quiet, the silence of sadness. Her footsteps echoed across the polished wood flooring of the hallway as she crossed onto the marble tiles of the foyer. She knew it well, had almost grown up here, and had spent many nights here in the recent months, playing chess and sipping whisky with an old man.
The door to Maxwell Randall’s study swung silently open. Caitlyn crossed the floor quickly, her sneakered feet sinking into the plush carpet. She came around to Maxwell’s desk, an ornate, obnoxious thing meant to look like something a Gilded Age Robber Baron would have owned.
It was just as he’d left it. Empty. Maxwell hadn’t been one for bringing work home, she discovered. His desk was clear, a simple blotter aligned in the middle. A phone off to the right, a brass lamp off to the left. A pad of paper and a can of pens and pencils sat within reach. There was no computer, no planner or desk diary. She supposed if there had been one, the police would have taken it.
Slowly, methodically, she leaned over and began to open the desk drawers. Nothing in the two large ones flanking the right, nor the left. She turned her attention to the middle drawer, the thin one. It stuck a bit, and she felt her heart flutter in anticipation. She knelt down, to get a better view. Caitlyn pushed a strand of her brown-black hair behind her ear and squinted in concentration as she carefully slid her hands toward the back of the narrow drawer.
“What are you doing?”
Her head jerked up, hitting the side of the drawer as she rose to her feet.
“You?” Caitlyn said, surprise radiating through her.
There was a pause. Caitlyn drew herself up to her full height and looked at Noah Randall, all six-feet-one of him, standing in the doorway.
About the author:
Hi, I’, Andrea Stein an author, mother, wife and blogger and a certified mom-chauffeur. I have been scribbling stories for as long as I can remember, including my first adventure story, inspired by an obsession with Out of Africa (book, movie and biography) about a young girl stranded in Kenya. It was serial fiction handwritten, given to my sister, who couldn’t read my handwriting. That story dies after one installment, but the next year I got a word processor (not a computer, but an ACTUAL WORD PROCESSOR) that showed about twenty lines of text at a time. This was before laptops were widely available and this allowed me to be able to type to my heart’s content in the privacy of my own room. Which I did. I think I spent the time writing stories about my “frenemies” to amuse myself. I also listened to a lot of the Cure and New Wave music. I have since moved on to a happier place.
Even though I read lots of different types of books, I write romance novels with a twist. More like contemporary romance than romantic suspense (I don’t write about serial killers or FBI agents) but I usually like to include a puzzle or mystery for my hero and heroine to solve.
Rough Harbor is my second novel, set in a small New England town. Coming soon is Ivy Cottage, also set in a small New England town on a river.
Other than writing I spend most of my time reading, watching TV, cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids, trying to keep the house clean and folding laundry. I love Twizzlers, chocolate and shows on the WB. For me, reading has always been an escape, a way to escape the ordinary and dive into a world that feels real – but with all of the ‘boring’ parts edited out.
As for the rest of my life, I grew up on Long Island, spent a lot of vacations in small New England towns, went to college in New York City, married by high school sweetheart, worked, had kids, stopped working, and kept on writing. Now I live in rural New Jersey (yes, there is such a thing), and though I don’t own any horses, I do have a barn, which I share with squirrels.
There’s something successful writers always tell new writers about their secret to success. Just do it…Bum Glue…write 1ooo words a day…write for two hours a day….Keep writing. And they’re right. I got more successful with my writing when I started to do it consistently. I don’t write every day, but I shoot for five days a week. This means that the words and pages pile up — and I have stories to shape, make and mold…and share.
I hope you enjoy my books.
Andrea will be awarding a $50 GC ~ winner's choice of Starbucks, Amazon or Walmart ~ to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $50 GC ~ winner's choice of Starbucks, Amazon or Walmart ~ to a randomly drawn host.