Begin as you mean to go on

It’s New Year’s Eve and the beginning of a new decade. On the theory that I should begin as I mean to go on, I’m thinking about how to spend my evening. I’d like to write in the new year, kiss my husband at midnight, laugh about ridiculous things, commit some bad art, eat dessert first, and tear the “do not remove” label off the mattress.

How are you going to celebrate?

Five things for a Tuesday post

1. I’m using M&Ms to motivate my kids to do things. Their teeth may go to hell but they’ll be neatly groomed and have clean rooms. (I don’t actually expect M&Ms to work long enough for dental damage, BTW. It’s got novelty value right now.)

2. My 6 yr old read her dinosaur book to me while I washed breakfast dishes. As a result, I am now singing “Iguanadon, what’s that fossil you have on” (to the tune of Delta Dawn).

3. I was Cool Mom for five minutes when I confessed to said 6 yr old that I’d been on a dig. (Writing books is not cool compared to digging in the dirt for science and history)

4. I’m not very excited about packing away all the holiday stuff. Maybe I’ll leave the mini tree on my desk for a while.

5. Undercover Lover is in the MBAM top 10! YAY!

New release! Undercover Lover

Undercover Lover, Take Me Lover #2, is out today from Samhain, and discounted for the first week of sale, so shop early and save.

Undercover Lover picks up a few months after Redline Lover, and originally I wasn’t planning to write this story at all. Take Me Lover was pitched as 3 novellas without connected characters or settings, just a common theme. But Pete and Anne were a subplot in Redline, and after I finished that story they carried on in my head until I started writing them down. I then planned to make Undercover a free short story and only about 6K, but two things happened. Samhain asked for New Year’s stories, and Undercover was clearly going to be at least twice as long as I’d intended. Not a short story anymore.

And so, the accidental novella I didn’t mean to write is out today! Sometimes these things have a mind of their own.

Hardwired for all kinds of action…

Take Me, Lover, Book 2

When Anne Parker yanks open her front door, she’s armed and ready to aim cold fury at her ex. Instead, she finds herself staring up at Pete Crenshaw, a man as disarming as he is dangerous to her battered defenses. A man whose touch sends her I-remember-sex hormones soaring into the red zone.

Those hormones sure have picked a hell of a time to surge, though—with New Year’s around the corner and the ex suddenly making noises about worming his way back into her life.

Pete’s been biding his time. More accurately, lying in wait for precisely the right moment to take their relationship from friends to lovers. He’s aware of Anne’s trust issues, but it’s time to make a move before she has a chance to do what she does best—overthink it.

Her ex isn’t just back to make another play, though. He’s after secrets Pete and his partner hide under the cover of their garage business. Pete finds his heart caught between Anne’s safety and the secrets he’s sworn to keep—unless he can find a way to preserve both…
Product Warnings

This friends-to-lovers tale contains graphic and explicit episodes of mattress dancing, caveman sex, jeopardy (not the game show), Bad Words, Ninjas, ex-husbands and a happy ending.

A more productive 2010

I’ve been chatting with a friend about how to be more productive in 2010. (Yes, I had 5 print releases and 3 ebooks in 2009 and will have 6 ebooks and I think 2 print releases out in 2010, but that doesn’t mean I was at my peak. I want to do better next year.)

Here are things I’ve found helpful:
1. PBW’s Way of the Cheetah. Excellent book on streamlining life and writing to be more productive and focused.
2. Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer. Very good book on harnessing the power of the unconscious mind for story-production and developing habits to make writing less strain, more gain.
3. Eating my vegetables, drinking enough water, less coffee, more fruits, and enough protein. Harder than it sounds, but if you know what you should be eating and you shop to make it easy to do that, it’s a big help.
4. Regular exercise. Not to the Olympic athlete level, but I do weights twice a week and walk 5 days a week. This is enough to offset what sitting at a keyboard does to the body.
5. More carrot, less stick. I find it way too easy to engage in punitive behaviors and hard to reward what I should be doing. But this is creative death. Reward yourself. In fact, reward yourself FIRST, before you do whatever assigned task. See how much easier it is to create after.
6. Punitive behaviors vary. One man’s reward is another’s punishment. When you find yourself doing something punitive, stop and go do something else. Anything else.
7. Keep the creative well full. Read for fun. Write for fun. Hang out with friends and family and pursue hobbies. A well-rounded life and a full well lead to well-rounded fiction and a much easier time producing. Above all, remind yourself regularly that it’s okay to do creative things that are not “professional”. Paint, take pictures, make pipe cleaner animals. Play. The lower mental bar will carry over into work, encouraging more free flow, less “Oh my god, you’re screwing up”.
8. The timer. I love the timer. Give yourself 5, 10, 15 minutes on the timer, write nonstop until time’s up. Once time’s up, take a break. Then come back and do another 5, 10, or 15 minutes. When you’re writing a really hard section, taking it in small increments feels doable when “write this entire scene” is too overwhelming.
9. Keep the big picture in mind. If you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, it’s easier to stay motivated. It’s also easier to see if the projects you’re doing fit overall values, goals, etc. or not.
10. Remember that trial and error is part of life and so is failure. Failure happens, and when it does, it should be recognized for what it is, part of the process. Not the end of the world. I try to learn from my mistakes and keep improving, but I know I’m still going to make mistakes. I can’t let that stop me from doing anything at all.