New Year, New Chair by Paty Jager

I’m starting this year with a new desk chair and a new perspective of my writing.

The chair. My old chair would make by backside numb when I sat for any length of time in it. I tried one of those egg crate things and it didn’t seem to help either. Not that I sit for long periods of time. With two dogs who seem to think they need to go in and out of the house every twenty minutes, I get up and down plenty during the day. But by mid-afternoon, I couldn’t concentrate because of pain down there.

My new chair in the corner.

I went to a chain office products store and sat in every chair, no matter what the price. I wanted a chair that would be comfortable and I could sit back and type with out hunching over the keyboard or desk. I found the perfect chair…I thought.

It has thick padding, arm rests that fit me just right, and a little bit of a rocking motion. I like to gently rock. Especially when I’m thinking. 😉 Which I do a lot while writing a book, as we all know.

I brought the chair home and it barely fits in the area behind my desk. That’s my fault. I like to be in the corner and look out the window to the front of the house and the door into the main room of house. Which limits me of space because of 1) my husband’s desk and file cabinet. (He rarely sits at his desk. He just stores things on it…) He packs whatever he’s working out out to the nook table early in the morning and does his paperwork there.

Behind my desk looking out.

But I digressed. I love the spot where my desk sits. It makes squeezingh into the chair interesting, but once I’m there, I can put my feet up on a little stool under the desk, pull the keyboard out or set it on my lap, lean back in the chair, and type to my heart’s content. This is the most comfortable I’ve been typing a book since I started writing!

New perspective on my writing. While I tried to limit my goal on the books I plan to write this year, I also gave myself permission to not meet that goal if life intervenes. In the past if I didn’t get books out regularly, I would beat myself up and make myself miserable, pushing to get more written and put the book out there because the reader wanted it.

Now, I write the books I want to write and I still try to keep a new one in each mystery series coming out every 6 months, but I’m not as driven to make sure every genre I write has a book coming out. That was driving me insane. I’m sticking to the genre that has always called to me- Murder mystery.

I’m super excited about the Gabriel Hawke book I’m writing right now. I finally connected with someone who knows a lot about the topic in the book and feel I have enough information to make this a good solid book to help showcase a cause and epidemic that needs more attention. I’ve never considered myself an activist, but I have always been driven to write books about justice. And everyone deserves that.

Next month learn about my decision to end a series and how I hope I didn’t disappoint readers.

Fairy Tales, The Easter Bunny and a New Touchstone

by Janis Patterson

Every year I look forward to the holiday season. I love Christmas – the decorations, the carols, the promise and reassurance of my faith, the bonhomie, the electric excitement in the air. New Year’s is the symbol of new beginnings and though I have never been able to keep a New Year’s resolution for more than a few weeks there is always a clean, untried ‘blank-slate’ feeling to a new year.

Every year I look forward to the end of the holiday season and the return of real life. While wonderful, the holidays are exhausting and pretty much take over your life. Parties to give and attend. Presents to buy. Calls to make. Lunches with friends. Wrapping presents. Visiting family for extended gatherings with out-of-town members. Taking down and putting away decorations. Getting the house back to the familiar chaos we call ‘normal.’ Thank-you notes to write. Yes, it’s tiring, to say the least.

Now we’re eleven days into the New Year, which makes it not so new any more. And, usually after all the holiday hubbub dies down, it’s not so different from the year before. I still have deadlines and stories crying to be written. The laundry pile stays pretty much the same no matter how many loads I do. Since the holiday leftovers are long gone I must contrive something for dinner every night and fix a lunch for The Husband to take to work. Not so different from last year and many years before that.

Still, there is something about the turn of the year – as artificial a delineation of time as it might be – that makes us think. Personally I want to make it a touchstone for upping my career game. A touchstone, not a resolution. Resolutions are usually regarded as hard things, immobile things, things you must do every single day for the rest of the year. I don’t respond well to hard, immobile and must do. Never have, and probably never will.

So what did I do? In between huge meals with family and much-needed naps I spent New Year’s Day thinking about what I wanted to accomplish career-wise in the new year and what it would take to get it done. Of course I thought about a few things that are definitely ‘wish list’ and probably never going to happen, but I did try to keep things ‘real.’

First of all, I know that no matter how much I hate it, I’m going to have to do a lot more publicity. I have an extensive backlist in several genres and yet my sales would have to work for a week to get up to pathetic. It’s all about discoverability, and that means getting your name and your work out there.

For a long time I followed the fairy tale that if your book is good, it will sell. (I refuse to tell you how long I believed in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny…) As nice and tidy as that would be, it doesn’t work. People don’t buy what they can’t see, and well-promoted garbage will pretty much always outsell a good book buried in the ever-increasing tsunami of available books. While a writer can live in the ivory tower and do nothing but write (my personal dream) it’s time for me to realize that if I want to be a selling writer, I need to get out there and sell. The Tooth Fairy has retired.

Neither can you live on your backlist alone. New releases feed the machine. It’s the genre writer’s version of publish or perish. Readers – especially genre readers – are exceptionally voracious, with some reading more than one book a day. Writers can no longer afford the luxury of doing just one book a year if they want to keep their name in front of the reading public.

Last year I wrote five books. This year I have to get them all out. (Last year was an ivory tower year for me for several reasons.) This year I hope to do – and release – four. Remember what I said about a touchstone? I didn’t promise myself or make a resolution to write and release four; that’s too solid, too demanding. During the year when I hit a wall, when my career seems more trap than joy, I’ll think back to that food-stuffed, family-surfeited New Year’s Day and remember what I thought about the forthcoming year. Then I can decide if it is still what I want, still feasible, still relevant to my current reality.

I hope it will be. But it doesn’t have to be. But whatever I decide, though, I have to do what needs to be done to make it come true.

 

 

A New Year, A New Excitement! by Paty Jager

Funny kidsI feel like the little kid who has a secret and can barely keep from blurting it out. And I don’t really have a secret, but I do have three new Shandra Higheagle books that have me bouncing in my desk chair as I think about all the possibilities in the stories. And I will start writing the new mystery series this year. By mid-year I’ll start revealing bits and pieces about Gabriel Hawke, my new sleuth.

While I started out 2018 with a head cold given to me by my adorable grandchildren, I am beginning to pick up steam and getting more and more things accomplished in a day. That is what makes me happy and excited. The more I can accomplish, the more I can show my readers what I’ve been working on.

I know readers get excited about the next book in a series that they love, but writers, do you also get excited about revealing a new book to readers?  I’m giddy thinking about the book I’m working on, Artful Murder, and the other Shandra books that will come out this year, and I’m giddy knowing I get to start a journey with a new character.

Starting a new series and getting to know the main character(s) is like dating or getting to know someone who will ultimately become your friend.  First you see their physical qualities. Do they have flaws? Does that make you nervous or curious? Then you get to learn their personality. Is it flat, humorous, dark? Are they someone you think you could get along with? Do you want to spend time with them or do you want to learn more about them but keep them at a distance? How do they treat others? Animals? Do you like their voice or does it grate on you? What do they think of the subjects you are concerned about?

These are all the questions I’ll be asking my new character as I slowly build him in my mind and get ready to start his first book. But the fun part will be introducing him in book twelve of the Shandra Higheagle Mysteries. It will be interesting to see what Shandra thinks of Hawk and how they work together to solve the death of a hiker.

An FYI, you can now purchase Murderous Secrets, book 4 in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series in audio book at these audiobook outlets.

AudibleAmazonAppleNook

And these:

audio book vendors

If you listen to audio books and put up reviews, leave your email in the comments section, and I’ll send you a code to download Murderous Secrets from Audible US or UK.

SH Mug Art (2)

 

photo source: Deposit Photos