Monday, November 11, 2013

Yesterday's Words

OK kids, I'm doing NaNoWriMo and it's been going pretty well so far. I'm keeping up with my word count and I hope to get a little ahead this week while I am off from work. I might even use next weekend to join up with the local NaNo Tour or at least make it to a couple stops.

Yesterday the weirdest thing happened. I was working away on the Pages app on my iPad and I went to open the document with yesterday's words on it and I couldn't open it. I have now tried all the things, updating everything, restarting the iPad, reading about other people with the same problem on Apple's support pages to no avail. The words I wrote yesterday are just not available to me now. I can see the document I can even see it in iCloud but those 1500 words I wrote yesterday are basically dead to me.
It's OK Apple, nbd, it's not like it's NaNoWriMo and I needed those words or anything.

So today I am writing like the wind. I spent too much time yesterday trying to figure out how to get the words to come back so today it is onward, without the words. I figure I can go to the Apple store and have the Geniuses puzzle over it or I can use the time it would take to figure that out and just keep writing.

Fortunately I didn't lose any more than those 1500 words because all my other words are in a document on my computer and backed up in time machine and saved in drop box. So yeah, while I will now be playing catch up instead of getting ahead today.

The biggest bummer of this is that now I'm worried that this could happen to anything else I work on in Pages. All my other Pages Documents open just fine it is just yesterday's words but it is a little worrisome. So it is back to the old pen and notebook for writing on the go because words on paper can't get trapped in the Cloud.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Update

I haven't done a blog post in a while. So here's what I've been up to.

1. Did WFMAD- Write Fifteen Minutes a Day- in September following Laurie Halse Anderson's posts on her blog. This was the shot in the arm my writing needed. I think I only missed one day but by the middle of the challenge I was definitely writing more than 15 minutes a day. 

2.Prepping for NaNoWriMo. I am trying to outline this year. Getting as much info down as possible and having some idea of where my story is going. I have a fair number of crappy first drafts but I want to someday have a novel that is publishable so I'm trying to make some changes in my process because obviously being a pantster isn't working for me.

3. Researching nonfiction Picture Book subjects. This is my second year participating in the 12x12 challenge on Julie Hedlund's blog. As part of the membership level I signed up for I have the opportunity to submit to an agent every month. Learning about the agents and reading books that they represented has been really informative. There was one agent who was really interested in biography and nonfiction and even though that agent was featured a few months ago her wish list and reading list really resparked and interest in nonfiction and biography type picture books.

4. Getting a second job. My job has been slow. I have less work this year than I have had in previous years. I'm sort of experiencing the crunch in two ways which basically means I'll probably make $10,000 less than I have the last two or three years. It was just time to get a part time job. I'm lifeguarding which is a prefect flexible part time job, plus I get a gym membership. It works out pretty well.

What about you. Did you do WFMAD? How did it go? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What are you working on?

Monday, September 02, 2013

Cherishing my writing time

First, cool stuff, I wrote something for the on the topic of women in business for the Your Thoughts section of the Minnesota Women's press. It is just a little thing but you can read it here.

I spent the last month working days in a costume shop because there were no shows on the stage I work on for the last month. No shows= no actors= no people for me to dress or laundry for me to do.

Since I had so much time off with another 6 weeks off anticipated in January/February I decided I needed to work. I've spent a lot of time and energy worried about money lately and I'm hoping that spending the month working will give me a little cushion and allow me to focus on writing instead or worrying.

Working days when I'm used to working evenings and weekends has been an adjustment and even though it feels like I have written very little, I've still written, and ultimately I keep reminding myself that I did this for the writing.

It has been great to reconnect with old friends and meet new people. It has been fun to build costumes, put together flat puzzle pieces that eventually take shape into three dimensional garments, be part of this creative work, see the work that other people are doing.

I have one more week left of day work before I go back to my real life. I'm excited to return to my normal writing life and I hope to make some changes that help me take full advantage of my writing days. Having my writing time altered has made me want to cherish that time more once I return to my regular schedule.

This month I'm doing the Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge. There are writing prompts and blog posts on Laurie Hasle Anderson's blog. Today's prompt is about things that steal writing time.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Confession of a Pantser

I am a complete and total pantster. I don't plot, I don't outline. I just sit down and write and I don't always have the map of where I'm going or I just let the characters do their own thing and go along of the adventure.

But here's my problem. I notice that the number of projects that are stuck, problematic, or will never see the light of day keeps getting bigger. I don't have that one novel that is perfect and wonderful, yet.

I'm also faced with some interesting challenges at work. Mostly that there is less work than previous years and that means less money than previous years, a lot less money. I've had to make some tough choices about the time I have carved out for writing because I need to pay my bills.

It's been tough as I look for that part time thing that fill the huge gap in what I made the last couple years to what this year is shaping up to be because it feels like such a huge road block in my writing life.

But it is also a big wake up call. The fact that I've been writing all these years and I basically have a bunch of problematic WIPs to show for it means that something needs to change.  If I'm going to have less writing time then I need to make the most of it. I need to have a plan and not just sit down at my computer and write by the seat of my pants.

So I am going to change my pantser ways and do whatever it takes to become a plotter.

I downloaded the Storyometer app a while ago and I just haven't used it that much, mostly because I've been too busy panicking about money. I have a project that I'm not very far along on that I think could really benefit from some plotting. I feel like the story has legs and think it that plotting could really help it become something that doesn't end up keeping the other manuscripts company under the bed.

What about you? Are you a plotter, a pantser, a reformed pantser, or a reformed plotter? If are a reformed plotter or pantser(especially pantser) I'd love to hear how you changed to a plotter.

Friday, June 07, 2013

The Power of a Challenge

I love a good challenge. By challenge I mean something like NaNoWriMo or the fitness challenges my Y holds in the spring. I love committing to do something with a group of people and reaching a goal.

I've probably talked about doing the 12x12 Picture Book Challenge this year. I did it last year and it was very motivating. So far this year has been even more motivating. See, this year I paid for the Gold Membership so every month I've been able to submit a finished picture book manuscript to an agent.

That commitment is a lot of fun. I've been reading stacks and stacks of picture books. Writing new ideas that pop into my head. Researching topics for nonfiction picture book ideas.

This challenge is the one thing that is getting me to the page on a regular basis, writing-wise. I've been spending a lot of time worrying about having less work this year than I've had the last couple years and adjusting to the reality of that. Thinking about picture books, reading picture books, and revising picture books, is about as far away from worrying about bills that you can get.

One day, maybe, I will be at a place in my writing career where I won't be as worried when I have 6 weeks off from my day job because I'll be able to use the time to write instead of scrambling to find work to fill up huge chunks of time.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Witnessing History

Yesterday I had the honor of being present at the state Capitol when the MN House of Representatives was voting on the Marriage Equality bill.

I got involved with Minnesotan's United for All Families last fall because I wanted to do something to make sure that this amendment, an amendment that would have limited the rights of many friends, coworkers, neighbors, and people I didn't even know.

When Marriage Equality Bills were introduced in Minnesota I knew I wanted to help that happen to. I have friends who want to get married. They should be able to do that. It was a great chance to reconnect with people I met last fall and finish what was started.

Yesterday I volunteered at the Capitol, greeting people and making sure that everyone I encountered felt safe and supported.

It was amazing to democracy in action. While there was some tension I also witnessed very civil conversations while people waited for equality.

While greeting people I met a man with a sign that said "Jesus is the way" on one side. When I informed him that I was Catholic and wasn't it great that there were so many people of faith on both sides of this issue he informed me that I needed to spend more time with my Bible until I could see the way.

Over the course of the day I gave away a bottle of water (it was very hot in the Capitol). I also gave away an orange to a diabetic man who looked a little shaky. I greeted people with kindness. In addition I listened to people sing songs of love while they waited to see if their families would be recognized by our state. I watched as people with orange signs shared bottles of water to people with pink signs without even thinking twice.  Somehow these things seem more like the Bible I'm familiar with.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

RTW- Happy Poetry Month

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered.

This Week's Topic: April is National Poetry Month! Share your favorite poem(s) or poet.

Years ago, after I got out of college and then thought "Hey I want to be a writer when I grow up." I started with poetry. 

I really like the Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. I'm sure I read it in college but I rediscovered it when it was used in the book Reached by Ally Condie. 

My great grandparents were Welsh so Welsh writers and poets interest me. In rediscovering our family tree my uncles met a cousin who is 90 years old named Dylun Thomas. There are pictures from a visit with Dylun standing next to a plaque talking about Dylan Thomas the poet. I think that Dylun likes that people do a double take when they hear his name.

This year for National Poetry Month I get to celebrate by working backstage on Nice Fish at the Guthrie Theater. Nice Fish was written by Mark Rylance and a Minnesota poet, Louis Jenkins. When I first watched a run thru I was amazed at how poetic the play sounded. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Podcasts for Writers

A few months ago I made the decision to get an iPhone. I already had an iPod touch but I sort of felt like I was always carrying around two devices all the time. Also when I bought the iPod I failed to realize just how little 8gigs actually was. After about a year of iPod ownership I was often having to make decisions about what I wanted on my device because I didn't have enough memory.

Since joining the 21st century I've been listening podcasts. I'd listened to podcast before but mostly as a way to practice my Spanish, which is extremely rusty.

Lately I enjoy listening to writing related podcasts. Listening to writing related podcasts have been a good way for me to think about writing and projects I'm working on even when I'm not at my desk, writing away.

The first one I've been listening to is Sara Zarr's podcast, This Creative Life. She interviews authors, illustrators, and other creative types to talk about their craft and how they approach it and how they balance work and life. I think one of the great things about this series is hearing that there are as many different approaches to writing (or other arts) as there are writers.
So yes I highly recommend This Creative Life.

When I started running out of episodes of Sara Zarr's podcasts I knew I needed to do something so I searched iTunes for writing podcasts which is how I found The Narrative Breakdown. This podcast is hosted by Cheryl Klein and James Monohan. The podcasts talk about the craft of writing using examples from popular books, movies, and TV shows.

Do you listen to podcasts about writing? What are your favorites?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

RTW- Let me be your guide

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. 

This Week's Topic: If you could visit any country with a fictional character as your guide, who would you pick and where would you go?

I thought this would be an easy answer since the book Anna and the French Kiss made me want to travel more I thought I would pick France with Anna as my guide but after thinking about it I decided it would be cool to visit Prague with Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. 

I've always heard people say that Prague is a sort of magical city and reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone reminded me of that. Looking at these pictures the city looks beautiful and inspiring. 

Monday, April 01, 2013

Baseball, beaches, and circuses

Happy Opening Day! I love baseball season. One of my favorite things to listen to while I write is a baseball game. 

I just got back this weekend from a wonderful vacation in Florida. 

In recent years I've had the wonderful experience of having my parents be someplace warm. My dad was in California for a while and then Mexico which gave me the opportunity for some warm weather getaways.

My mom was working in Florida this winter and I decided to make the most of that by going to a Spring Training game. It's been on my to do list for a while and this year it worked out perfectly. We caught the last home Spring Training game for the Twins at Hammond Stadium.

Other highlights of my trip included a visit to the John and Mabel Ringling Circus Museum and a trip to Fort Meyers Beach.

Miniature circus was a highlight for a diorama lover like me

Port Charlotte Sunset

Fort Meyers Beach Pirate Ship

Twins Spring Training Game

On my way home I just couldn't breakfast at the Harry Carey's at Chicago Midway Airport as the perfect ending to my baseball Spring Training vacation. 

I hope that the beginning of baseball season means that spring is on its way soon.

I always bring notebooks with me when I travel and now I bring and iPad as well. I always think that vacation will mean that I'll have lots of time to write but I never end up writing as much as I think I will.  I can only hope that I am absorbing all my vacation experiences as writing fuel for later. 

What about you, do you write when you travel?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What I've learned

Maybe it's all the snow outside but I can't believe that Easter is almost here.

This year I decided to give up Facebook for Lent and I can't believe that I'm coming to the end of that.

Here is a list of things that have changed in my writing since Lent started.

1. I have more time to write.

2. I start writing earlier in the day.

3. I write for longer.

4. I have more "found' time that I use for writing. (a half hour here, twenty minutes there, it all adds up)

5. I go to sleep earlier.

6. I have more time to read.

After Easter I'm not sure if I'll give up Facebook entirely but I definitely want my life to be more writing and less Facebook. I'm thinking of only looking at the site once or twice a week.

What about you? How often are you on Facebook or other social media? Do you feel like it's stealing from your writing time?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Recharge: Day One

I'm participating in Sara Biren's Recharge Winter Writing Retreat

I'm happy to say that I'm getting a late start on introducing myself because I've actually been busy writing today.


What is your name?
Carrie Monroe

What do you write?
I write for kids. I am currently working on a YA manuscript but I also try to write a picture book draft every month and shorter pieces for children's magazines. I also like Middle Grade fiction and have written poetry in the past.

How long have you been writing?
I've wanted to be a writer for a long time. I wrote for my high school newspaper and spent most of my teen years dreaming of someday working for Sassy magazine. I went to college where I studied theater but the desire to write never really left me and I started writing poems and stories a little over ten years ago. I wrote a novel for NaNoWriMo in 2007 and that was the beginning of the idea that I could write a novel.

What location have you chosen for your retreat?
Minnesota winter, no offense but I am tired of you. I've decided to spend my writing retreat on a houseboat in Sausalito. 

How did you come up with the idea or find inspiration for your current WIP?  
My inspiration for my current WIP came from feeling stuck. I felt stuck in my previous WIP, I also sometimes feel like I haven't seen enough of the world. My business is full of meeting new people but also goodbyes when shows are over. I think I was feeling like I was always saying goodbye and never getting to go places so I started writing about a character who leaves her small town in Minnesota to go to New York City.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Interview with Illustrator, Emmeline Hall

On Tuesday I sat down with my friend,  Emmeline Hall, to interview her because her first book came out this month.

The book, Voices Across the Lakes by Anita Pinson is a collection of folk songs about the Great Lakes with stories to accompany them. Music for each song is in the book and readers can go to the website to listen to the songs as well.

Here is a link to Emmeline's Illustration page on Facebook as well as the book's page on Facebook.  Like her page then come back. Don't worry, we'll wait.
Emmeline's Illustration Page on Facebook

Voices Across the Lakes Facebook page

When did you know you wanted to be a children's book illustrator?
"I always liked to draw. I have a theater, costume design degree, even while working on this I kept thinking I'd like to be an illustrator."  "I had a lot of false starts but I kept at it"

You won the Minnesota SCBWI 2011-12 Illustrator Mentorship Award, how did that help your career?
"It was huge. This book wouldn't be here. David Geister mentioned me to the editor otherwise I never would have been introduced to her."
She does remind people that seeing a book published is not part of the award "Every experience with the mentorship is different. My goal was getting my name out there and getting my first book published. I was a success." Her other goals for the award include building and online presence and building her portfolio.

Do authors need to find their own illustrators?
"So many people tell me they are writing a children's book when they find out I'm an illustrator."
"The editor and/or art director make the match between author and illustrator. It's handed to you, like an assignment. If you're a writer don't worry about finding and illustrator. They(editors) have a vision for the book, trust that their vision is right."

What is your illustrating work day like?
Emmeline is a busy mom to four girls. She also works full time at a theater so no day is typical.

"I start with emailing, the business side of things. I have a calendar and a running to do list. I have a couple things going at once. I'm working on writing my own picture book. I'm working on a picture book dummy with my mom."
"I have a lot of lines in the water, you can't just focus on one thing, you have to have a lot of things going at once."
Art Cabinet-photo by Emmeline Hall

Art Cabinet- photo by Emmeline Hall

   Tools of the trade- photos by Emmeline Hall

With a full house her artwork day ends at 3 when the kids get home from school although sometimes she is able to go back to a project after the kids are in bed.

Since she has a full house she does most of her work at the kitchen table, keeping her supplies in an art cabinet. When she's drawing or sketching at the table she wears a Drawing Hat. When she's wearing the drawing hat the kids know she is working.
The Drawing Hat-photo by Emmeline Hall

"My youngest now wears a drawing hat when she's drawing."

"They are all into books and illustrating books, cartoons, or journals. It's really a family thing. They are all working on a book."

What is your favorite part of the process?
"I love researching. It's easy to do too much so you have to know when to stop."

While researching the song Follow the Drinking Gourd she learned about Quilt Code. Much like songs this was used by escaping slaves on the underground railroad.  "Each symbol means something like safe place, or water nearby."

Quilt code spot art
Spot art sketches- photo and art by Emmeline Hall

Advice to writers and illustrators who are just starting out.
"Meet as many people as you can who are doing the same thing and who have the same goal."
"Learn how the industry works so you don't waste time submitting the wrong thing to the wrong place."

"Spend as much time looking at children's books as you can!  Study how the artwork and text play off of each other in the layout.  When creating art for books you need to be mindful of details that you wouldn't need to in fine art, such as leaving blank space for text and avoiding the 'gutter' (the seam in the middle of the book where the pages are bound---details get lost here!)."

Are there revisions in illustrations?
"There are changes with the process. You go into it knowing you'll have to do several versions before the final. But sometimes it's hard not to get emotionally attached."

Below are samples of sketches side by side with their finished product. All art and photos from Emmeline Hall.

Art and photo by Emmeline Hall

Art and photo by Emmeline Hall

Art and photo by Emmeline Hall

art and photo by Emmeline Hall

Photo by Emmeline Hall
"I realized that my bible is still labeled with our working title, 'Voices of the Great Lakes.'. The published title is 'Voices Across the Lakes.'. A great example of just how much can change during the creation of a book!"

Favorite Illustrators: Trina Schart Hyman, Edward Gorey, Quentin Blake

Illustrating music: Classical Christmas music in the early stages, Rap near the end of the project

To learn more about Emmeline follow her illustrator page on Facebook

To lean more about the book Voices Across the Lake including information on buying the book visit the books website here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

RTW- In love with writing

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered.

This Week's Topic is: It's (the day before) Valentine's Day! Let's jumpstart the lovefest by blogging about what you love most about writing (and/or reading)!

The thing I love most about writing is the chance to tell a story. I love making myself smile, laugh, or cry with the stories I'm writing. I love getting to know a character and seeing what adventures they will go on when I sit down to write that day. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday Musings

Happy Mardi Gras!

I'm not an overly religious person. I consider myself Catholic but I don't agree with the Pope on lots of things. I don't regularly attend Mass because I work on Sundays. I don't always give up something for Lent.

This year however I feel compelled to give up Facebook for Lent. So starting tomorrow until Easter there will be no Facebook for me.

I confess that I'm actually looking forward to it. As a single person who works in the evenings I probably spend more time on Facebook than say a person who works a 9-5 job or a busy mom, although some of my mom friends are on FB a lot.

But I wonder if the time I spend on Facebook isn't one of the biggest hurdles to my writing success. I mean how many times have I logged on only to lose a half hour or an hour of time?

I didn't attend the Winter SCBWI conference in New York City but I followed the hashtag on twitter. I wish I had thought to save the tweet but there was a quote about getting off Facebook and writing more so maybe that is what sparked the idea of this or me.

I'm really excited for what this could mean for my writing. I have a couple projects that I really, really like. I'm excited to work on them. I think they have legs. I'm looking forward to the time I'll be able to spend on them during my Facebreak.

I think it's hard for aspiring writers. We all hear that we need to have some sort of social media presence  but at the same time we know that time spent on these things can be one of the biggest thieves of our writing time.

I'm not giving up all social media.  I'll still use Twitter, I don't spend nearly as much time on Twitter as I do on Facebook. I'll still blog, instagram, pinterest, and use goodreads.

I'm interviewing an illustrator friend today and I'll post the interview on Friday so be sure to come back on Friday and check it out.

How do you balance Facebook and other social media in your life and writing?

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

RTW- Best book of January

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. 

This Week's Topic is: What's the best book you read in January?

The end of the holidays and the really cold weather meant that I read a lot of books in January.

My favorite was Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I had it on my kindle forever but hadn't read it because I just wasn't ready for another dystopia YA book but then I started reading it and omg people I could not put it down. I actually forgot to plug in my Kindle and ran out of battery in the middle of a really intense part and I was seriously panicking.

 Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

I also loved The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. It's been sitting on my shelf for a couple years. I started reading it and I was seriously thinking "Why did I wait so long to read this? That was obviously a mistake." Don't make the same mistake I did if you haven't read this one you should probably read it. 

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

What was your best book of January?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

RTW- Road tripping!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered.

This Week's Topic is: In celebration of the release of Kristin Halbrook's NOBODY BUT US (hooray!!) we're asking: Zoe and Will set off on the road to seek a better life and encounter loads of drama on the way. What's the most dramatic road trip you've ever been on?

Since I had a car in college this opened the world of road trip possibilities to me. One of my more fun experiences was taking my best friend to Minneapolis. Seeing the city skyline for the first time a part of me knew that this would be home. But the most memorable trip was when I took my roommate, Val, to Chicago. Val was flying out of O'Hare for a year long study abroad program in Ireland.

Val, Eric, and I drove to Chicago. Val and Eric were both from Colorado while I was from Iowa and had actually been to Chicago. I also had a car. I'd been to Chicago before, spending two weeks there with a group of kids from church in high school. I'd also driven past Chicago on my way to visit my dad in Michigan.
Adventures in Babysitting (1987) Poster

We might have watched Adventures in Babysitting or at least talked about the movie in anticipation of this trip. I know that by the end of the evening we were all hoping that Thor, mighty god of thunder, would offer us some guidance.

We hadn't made hotel reservations figuring we would just find something when we got there. The only flaw in our plan, we discovered when we finally arrived in Chicago, was that you needed to be 21 to get a room at a hotel. OK, really?!?! We were all adults, we had all been able to vote, and do other things you need to be 18 to do for at least two years but we couldn't get a hotel room. One of us was traveling overseas and yet still we were unable to talk anyone at three hotels to rent us a room.

This was before wifi, GPS, and cell phones. So even if one of us had called our parents it was unlikely that they could have solved the problem for us with the speed and efficiency that today's internet is capable of. There 

We thought we would get to the city, get a hotel room, and maybe go out and hang out in the city. This is not what happened.

At some point in time we ended up getting off the freeway and driving through what we were fairly sure was not the best area of town. But it could have just been that it was a weekend and a bigger city than we were used to.

We managed to get back on the freeway headed in the right direction for O'Hare and on our way we saw a sign for a motel. 

It was still pretty close to the "bad area of town" detour we had previously taken. It wasn't one of the chain hotels so we thought maybe we had a chance at getting a room.

The place was called The Eden Motel and we were all fairly convinced that it probably wouldn't exist if we ever tried to find it again. The manager let us rent a room which was great because by this time it was pretty late and we were all pretty tired and crabby by this point. The room we rented was a little on the scary side. I used to have photographic evidence but the door to the room looked like it had seen better days, the carpet was stained with something we were fairly sure was bloom. The shower looked like you might leave dirtier than you started and the seat on the toilet was broken.

I tried to google the name of the hotel and while a historical photo from the 1950's shows up the other thing I've learned is that there is a high end grocery store there now.

We were cautious about the room but thankful that at least we had a room and didn't have to spend the night sleeping in the car. None of us dared to sleep under the blankets convinced that would be awful. The next day we took Val to O'Hare. Val began a year long adventure in Ireland and Eric and I returned to another year of college in Iowa.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Staying on course

Every January I have at least a week off from work and sometimes two. A couple years ago the theater I worked at realized that it was more profitable to put something funny on the stage opposite Christmas Carol so this year I spent the holiday season working on Servant of Two Masters. It was such a fun experience. There's just something about hearing laughter every day that is well, refreshing, uplifting, fun.

I'm off for two weeks until my next show starts. My cat was so generous and got me a lovely vet bill for my birthday earlier this month which means instead of sitting on a beach in Florida with my mom I'm having a little staycation in Minnesota, in the dead of winter. I'm not even sure it's acceptable to go outside right not. 

Sometimes I think pre-published writers dream of the day when we'll be successful enough at our craft that we'll be able to devote all of our time for writing. To be honest, I don't actually dream of this. Having my job to go to keeps me on task during the day. Sometimes I come home from work and write but more often than not I write during the day, before work. I feel like I have a job that fits me and I have energy, inspiration, and time left over to write. 

The January break for me is always weird and completely non-productive. On previous breaks in January I have been known to watch entire series of TV shows. There was the year I watched Lost. That was before instant streaming and one day the previous renter hadn't returned the DVD's on time. I made the video store owner call them and remind them to return their DVDs like now because I was there to rent them. 

Last year I had bronchitis during January so I had a perfectly good excuse for watching an entire series on Netflix.
Also my brother came to visit me last year during my break last year. 

This year, no excuses. This year I have set a goal that I need to write more than I watch TV during this Staycation. I have told my writing partner that if I come to her in two weeks talking about Tim Riggins or any other TV show in a way that seems to indicate I've watched more than one episode in a day she will have to stand next to me while I cancel my Netflix account.

So far so good. Yesterday I wrote, I read, and I didn't turn on my TV until around 8:30 and I only watched one episode of one show. 

Also during this staycation- Artistic Enrichment.  Today I go see the Terracotta Warriors exhibit at the MIA. This weekend possibly Aida at the Pantages Theater and next week Doubt at the Minnesota Opera and Long Day's Journey Into Night at the Guthrie Theater.

Also there will be bowling, ice skating, volunteering, football, and Puppy Bowl. And writing. I hope there will be lots of writing. 

What are your tricks to stay on task for writing when your schedule changes? Do you use time off from work or staycations to power through big writing projects?