Sunday, March 22, 2020

Staying Busy

Are you bored yet?

Since writing is a solitary endeavor, I'm used to being alone with my thoughts. So you might conclude I'm having an easier time with this forced isolation than others. You'd be wrong.


I cancelled my physical therapy sessions and put my health club membership on hold Wednesday, after a trip to the grocery store and the hardware store where I bought a carload of mulch. I figured I'd work on the mulching in the afternoons, after I spent the morning writing and I could stretch that out for at least a week. Sounded like a perfect way to fill up my days, right?

Again, you'd be wrong.

The mulching was done by Friday, along with the preparation of a batch of oatmeal cookies. I had not made cookies in years. Not even at Christmas.

Now I have to go through all the stock photo houses looking for images for cover art for my first Revolutionary War romance. Normally, I'd get irritated after the first hour, since it was taking way too much of my time. Now I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's either that, or go running from the house naked  like a crazy person. For the sake of the neighbors, I am grateful for the distraction.

Period Images, here I come.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Hunkering Down

Now that we've all been made crazy scared by the reports relating to the CoronaVirus, more and more of us are opting out of everything and staying close to home. Which, as it turns out, is not a bad thing to do. Think of all the books you can take off your TBR pile!

But, if lounging on the sofa or in bed, and diving into a book doesn't appeal, you can participate in other activities, like taking over the dining room table to put together that jigsaw puzzle you got as a Christmas gift. Or using up your yarn and knitting a pair of mittens or a scarf that will come in handy next winter. How about getting your flower beds ready for your spring planting? Or baking that new dish you discovered on the internet?

As for me, I'm going to spend my time writing, both for pleasure, which is what I call my novel writing, or for business, which is my side hustle job that helps pay the bills. And finding another side hustle job. Maybe working on the little bit of land that is in front of my condo, making it pretty for spring. Especially if it's sunny, since Mary loves to lay on hot concrete while I work.

Regardless of what you're into, this forced break in all of our routines should be viewed as a blessing in disguise. You can finally do all those things you've put off doing when work got in the way. Enjoy your time, hunker down, and stay safe, everyone.


Sunday, March 8, 2020

Practice, Practice

I had lunch with an old friend this past week. Many years ago, when we both were much younger and had better eyesight, I taught her the basics of quilting. If you've ever tried this art form, you know the benchmark of your quality workmanship is how many stitches you can get to an inch of fabric when hand-quilting your pattern to hold the three layers together. My friend reminded me that I had managed to get to twelve per inch, something she strived for but never could achieve.


Which, of course, made me think of writing. In many ways, it's like quilting. You begin with this pile of disorganized ideas, some big images in your head, some just niggling little details. Some are quite colorful and well-defined, some ideas are vague and monochromatic, but all are essential to holding the story or the quilt pattern together. Quilters and writers both take courses and workshops to hone our craft, and continuously work to improve on our art. 

And, if we're really lucky, we can progress from five or six stitches per inch to the lauded twelve. 

Continuing my own comparison of quilting to writing, I consider having your first book published to be the equivalent of a seven-stitch-per-inch achievement. Making the NY Times best-seller list is a twelve-stitch event. Right now, with book #20 coming out in June, I'm somewhere around a nine. I'll keep working at it. 

Meanwhile, here's a picture of the last quilt I made, before my eyesight started to go. The pattern is called the Wild Goose Chase, appropriately enough, since I pieced it together during my travels from one side of the country to the other, finally finishing it when I returned to the east coast. I used at least eight different blue fabrics and six or seven red ones, but with one common theme. They all had to contain stars. The center pinwheel in each block is composed of red and blue striped fabric. Maybe this is what led me to my obsession to write American historicals? 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Finally, March!

Maybe it's because of the extra day in February, which only happens every four years, but it seems like February was longer than normal this year. While I shouldn't complain about the weather in NC, since I keep seeing weather reports of white out conditions and massive blizzards in other parts of the country, still I wish the weather would level out.

And I guess because I had an extra day in the month to think about things, I couldn't help but think about an old boyfriend of mine, who happened to be born on February 29. Even though he was really 24 when we were dating, more often than not he acted his true age of six.

Need I state the obvious? We broke up very quickly.

But since he acted like a child most of the time, and I'm writing a book that includes five children, I'm trying to remember some of the most foolish things he did so I can incorporate them into my book. Since my experience with small children is limited, I'm drawing on whatever I can.

Maybe the experience with the old boyfriend will finally be of some use.

So, where to you get your ideas?