Random Summer Musings

Does anyone else find it harder to concentrate in summer than at other times of the year?

Seeing sights like this is distracting

Sights like this in the yard are distracting. This is a young groundhog—also known as a whistle pig.

As I make some progress on the newest manuscript, my mind wanders more often than not. There must be more to it than hot humid weather because we’ve had a number of nice days this summer, and my brain still goes strolling off. Here’s a sampling of what it periodically brings home.

Overwhelming Choice Paralyzes

This came about after I spent time browsing the Kindle store looking for a new mystery. Even after narrowing the categories from Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (195,520) to Mystery (87,710) to Cozy, I ended up with 6,929 titles. By the way, did you know that you can further refine Cozy by Animals, Crafts & Hobbies, and Culinary? Who knew? Okay, I’m sure some of you did. I’m a bit slow to learn the inner workings of anything technology-related these days….

But scrolling through all 6,929 titles? Ain’t gonna happen folks. After scrolling through the first 150 or so, I gave up. Not because my mind was wandering but because it was overwhelmed. I couldn’t decide if I liked the sound of a book or not. Even though some had good reviews and were free, I couldn’t click “buy.” Even if they were free. I was paralyzed. Overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong—consumer choice is a good thing. But I think it’s possible to have too many choices….

Honestly, this led one of those moments where I thought, Why am I even considering an attempt to publish? Even with great marketing, who would find my book amidst thousands of choices? Choose “Women Sleuths” from the Mystery category on a Kindle and you get 16,784 titles at 12:48 pm EST on 16 July 2015. Seriously—who would find mine, let alone read the blurb and then click buy?

I’m still writing, by the way, but reminding myself that finding even 100 readers who didn’t know me would be a victory in itself.

Social Media Shows How Different We Are

You might be thinking I made a mistake in that heading, but I didn’t. Yes, social media can bring people together in amazing ways that were never possible before. And that’s wonderful. But as Facebook insists on filling my news feed with everything my friends have liked and suggesting I should like them too, I’m often left thinking, I have no interest in this.

Sometimes I’m just not interested—our hobbies are different. Other times I don’t agree with a political or religious stance. As in strongly disagree. As in going so far as to hide particular posts. Some friends may have done the same with things I’ve liked or posts I’ve made. But reading my news feed makes me wonder just how much we have in common with friends and families, let alone people we only know online. Maybe it’s wisdom, maybe it’s just getting old, but I think it’s possible to know way too much about way too many people.

Um, JM … Get Back To The Manuscript

Okay, maybe that’s more than you wanted to know about my mind’s workings. I’ll keep drafting this newest story. The draft just reached 20,000 words for what that’s worth. 😉 In the meantime, be sure to drop by on August 4th for a very special guest post by K.C. Tansley for the release of her novel The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts through Beckett Publishing Group. I’ve read the advance copy, and I couldn’t put it down. The book will be published on 1 August 2015 and is available for preorder. Why not check out the early reviews and reserve your copy now?

73 thoughts on “Random Summer Musings

  1. That groundhog is cute – it would be hard not to be distracted by him. I find it harder to concentrate when the weather is nice.

    I don’t think many people will work through a long list of books, or anything else. There should be better ways of searching, and refining, when the selection is large.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s easy to search—when we know exactly what we’re looking for! And sometimes it’s rather like looking up words in the dictionary when we don’t know how to spell them. That can get tricky! I know the search folks try by giving us suggestions based on our purchases, but I often find the recommendations aren’t anything like what I originally bought. So I end up ignoring them. Not what the merchants want, I’m sure!

      I wonder what you would have thought of that groundhog when I first encountered him/her earlier that morning. I opened the front door to check for a package, and it was standing right there on the porch not two feet away! I’m not sure which of us was more surprised!

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      • Groundhogs must be extremely distracted by us because I haven’t seen a single book written by a groundhog, not even a coloring book, and after all, they’re perfectly capable of holding a pen with too claws and many of us have offered to give them paper. They never seem interested.

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  2. Another post I could have written myself, JM. I dislike shopping of any sort, and I too become so overwhelmed by the sheer number of books available. You’re right — how could unknowns, such as ourselves, ever have a chance in a sea so wide and deep? I guess I go back to the point you made in your last post, that we write first for ourselves. I take satisfaction in creating for its own sake, and if my work is ultimately never seen by anyone other than me, and a few close friends or family members, I guess I’ve made my peace with that. What I know I don’t want is all the marketing and promotion; that’s just not me. But I’ll always have my writing, and the delicious hours I spend in the early mornings in my imaginary world.

    I’m not sure what Facebook has done with its algorithms. I remember the early days I was involved with the platform, when posts appeared in my feed in chronological order, and everyone I followed was visible in my feed. A level playing field, so to speak. Nowadays it seems like it’s really out of balance — skewed heavily toward some people, while others never appear in my feed at all. And the promotions drive me nuts. I don’t understand why well enough can’t be left alone.

    But anyway, glad to hear you’re doing well (most days?) on your new MS. Nice plug for Kourtney, too 🙂 We leave for Lake Tahoe later this week, and TGWIG is coming along with me.

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    • Gwen, you probably know this already, but on facebook, where it says “News feed” over on the left, it often changes itself to “top stories” and you have to keep changing it back to “most recent” in order to get the stuff back in chronological order again. I don’t know why facebook do that, who wants facebook to decide what we might most want to see out of the people we are connected with?!

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    • We are often on the same wavelength for this writing journey, aren’t we?! I think I’m getting better about realistic expectations for myself and what I really want. And I’ve learned that enjoying the process of finding the stories and writing them down is really more important to me than finding a big (or even mid-sized) audience. Yes, I want to write them well and have other people enjoy them, but the most important thing is that I’m enjoying them.

      That’s probably good because, like you, I am not cut out for marketing or promotion. I hate putting myself “out there” and the thought of asking people to buy something I’ve written makes me cringe. It’s all I can do to talk with people about archaeology at volunteer events. Being introverted and shy is a tough road to overcome for spreading the word when I ever finish a manuscript!

      Facebook leaves me banging my head against the wall sometimes. As Vanessa points out below, it loves to switch my news feed to “Top Stories” even though I want it to stay set at “Most Recent.” Even beyond that, though, it seems like some friends never show up while I see 10 updates a day from others. Maybe that’s because in the past we could choose to limit the types of post we saw and now Facebook’s changed that to really limit what we see from those individuals. Whatever it is, it drives me nuts at times!

      I think you will really like TGWIG. Time travel and ghosts are a cool combination, and I really love what she’s done with them. And an author who can draw in an audience from 12 to “up there” is amazingly talented! 🙂 Enjoy your vacation!

      Liked by 4 people

      • JM,
        Hmm, I must be upside down and standing on my head, because finding a big audience for my “The Fog of the Caveman’s Blog,” seems to be the most important thing for me now. I can’t see why I would want to finish it if I’m not going to have a large audience. I’m shy but I’m thinking that somehow I’m going to have to find a way to be interviewed on one of the morning shows on TV to promote my book(when it’s finished[should be soon — I’m past 350 pages]). The interview will be very scary(if it were to happen), but I did get over my stage fright reading some of my poems in Central Park and Times Square and other places, so maybe I could do it (if invited). Too many if’s and parenthetical thoughts, yes, I can see why the groundhog is a parenthetical creature who rarely writes the main clauses.

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        • Every writer’s goals are as individual as they are. Would I love a large audience for something I write? Yeah, that could be nice. 😉 But the work involved in generating that audience is overwhelming to me. So I’ve come to set my sights lower. But that’s no reason for you or anyone else to do the same!

          Liked by 1 person

    • Gwen,
      I could barely cope with the original Facebook, and after they started making “improvements”, I was totally lost. And then this business about “Do you know these people” and only invite people you know. But they never really meant that and I was slow to catch on that most people don’t actually have 10,000 friends — do they? And then when you become friends with a stranger, they start to say, “You have these friends in common etc.. Do I know the friend of a friend of a friend of a friend. I suppose. And then it’s much too much to read what the population of the Earth has to say all at once. Well, I suppose the time zones mitigate that somewhat, unless I wake up at 3am and then the European and eastward crowd are active….Hmm, what time do groundhogs wake up in Romania, and do I know them? I’ll be getting emails soon from Facebook saying, “Do you know these groundhogs?”

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  3. I have those thoughts of “why am I putting more books into the world?” often. It seems there are already so many that it’s a bit of a fool’s errand. But the love of story creation keeps us going, and it’s nice to think a few people out there might be entertained by what we have to say.

    And yes, so much choice in everything we do. Even buying toothpaste or shampoo can be an overwhelming experience. Ugh.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I still have to get a manuscript to the stage where I (and hopefully others!) believe it’s ready for publication. And while I suspect every writer entertains a fantasy of selling a million copies or more, I’m getting better grounded in the fact that few reach that level. 😉 It’s so hard to choose from so many books. I’m probably passing on hundreds of good ones. So I should expect most people to do the same if any of mine become choices for them. Still, breaking than 1,000-book line would be cool. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

          • Maybe you and Carrie need to focus on what may make it possible to stand out and get noticed: an archeologist and a doc. Go ahead and give sessions/presentations in your fields and casually drop that you write fiction and have a book… (career related info even). Few authors can do that. First it gives you authoritative standing as you really know the info from life instead of just researching it. Second your peers generally like to read stuff about stuff they deal with and can identify with. (and they tell others) And third – you just shortened their book search with a logical choice for those who have little time…who doesn’t like a helpful person?
            LIbrarians/big library systems can be your best friends, too…the big state conferences (TXLA) and the big national ALA can get a lot of exposure if you present, go in together with a table, or mingle ( I know, difficult to talk to people, but your books deserve a a spokesperson…but only the BIG conferences..just so much time and resources)
            Facebook has strayed from its’ beginnings. Users have less and less control over their own sites. Pushy management. Big data collection and marketing source now. Too much to deal with for me these days and the whole thing now is so much of a facade of what people want you to think that they are.
            You have ground hogs? Gee wild ones look so much healthier and funny than the poor thing they drag out for groundhog day every year. A groundhog isn’t quite what you’d be expecting for a morning guest at your door

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            • Introverts and marketing. Sigh. 😉 Even around my peers, I would have a hard time promoting a novel! But you’re absolutely right—those professional venues can be great places to find an interested audience. And colleagues who enjoy the book would be good word-of-mouth publicity. They’d probably tell their students, who would hopefully tell their friends….. A nice thought. 🙂 And if I could get regional libraries to buy the book, well, there’s a huge potential audience in this part of the country—especially with the books set here, too.

              Yes, Facebook is more often a pain than not. But I stick with it as a way to easily keep in touch with far-flung friends and family. If we could at least control that part of the process and fine tune it to what we want, I might be less grumpy about their marketing and data collection!

              This area is thick with groundhogs. We can easily count a dozen on the drive to work without actively looking for them. Some people view them as vermin—they can do a number on a garden, and the holes they dig are big. They seem very healthy out here and must be part of the reason the carnivores look healthy, too. I just wish I could’ve gotten a picture of this little guy/gal when it was on the front porch!

              Liked by 2 people

              • Just put one line in your bio of the program listing…..or at the end pull a sack over your head with the book cover printed on it…but be sure to cut out big eye holes…you know how we introverts tend to trip hurrying off stage after it’s over…perhaps a guide dog…one wearing a placket with book cover on it…do you think ground hogs would like a book related t-shirt? They cover a lot of territory….oh, that’s pushing it a bit

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  4. I think we are bombarded every day from so many sources, we’re not even aware of how much anymore. I agree with much of what you say here, J. I never did the Facebook thing. I think many do it to stay connected to old friends but the environment it creates, from the little I know, is one of a group of intimate friends. And we all know that’s not the case. I’m astounded at the way in which I hear of people saying terrible things, but on the flip side there are good points of social media. Our choices are overwhelming! So taking a break from all of it and observing that little pig is a good thing. And don’t stop writing! Even if it’s just for you, it’s cathartic. We all need that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was a latecomer to Facebook, and I still don’t do any other social media other than blogging. Facebook for me started out as limited to family and “real life” friends as a way to keep in touch, and I still appreciate it for that aspect. Over time, though, I added some “more distant” connections, including blog buddies and friends of my family members. But I turn down “friend requests” from people I have no connection with! And I wish I could choose exactly what appears in my news feed. I doubt Zuck et al. will ever give me that power, though!

      It’s good to be making some progress on the story. Drafting scenes is fun, and I’m still fleshing out the outline. Some ideas hit me during my morning workout, and that’s always a good way to start the day. 🙂

      I hope you’re enjoying your summer and finding time for your writing, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes! I too get distracted more in summer when the weather is nice. I just want to be outside and play. Since I work from home for clients as well (except for meetings), I really have to discipline myself.

    Your comment about FB and how different you feel from your friends sometimes is interesting. My theory is that when we’re with friends in person, we focus on and emphasize areas we have in common and ignore the rest. FB strips away that filter. I have different friends who meet various needs: some are politically aligned, some like the outdoors like I do or travel, some are writers or artists, etc. Each of them differs from me in some respects. I’m fine with that. Makes my life richer and gives me people to start with if I need to understand a perspective different from mine for either writing or life.

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    • Currently, we’re in a hot and humid streak, so playing outside isn’t high on my list. 😉 But we have had some beautiful days and enjoyed them!

      I think the lack of filters on social media is a fascinating study—but also a sad commentary on modern society. So many people seem to use that “anonymity” factor to say the most horrible things. While I hope those people are more restrained in face-to-face interactions, I suspect some of them aren’t.

      Somewhere early in my life’s journey, I must have decided I’d rather keep most of my opinions to myself, especially about sensitive topics. I’m not quite sure where I learned that since many family members on both sides love getting into those types of arguments! Maybe it’s a result of introversion. 😉

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      • Or maybe filters are good manners and common sense? Anonymous people get pretty brave when they would be silent in person. Does FB reveal who people really are, what they want to be, or what they want others to think they are? As you say, fascinating study and reflection of society. Society in general might be less confrontational/violent if people kept a few filters
        Besides who needs to know all these personal details about everyone -especially those you don’t have in your close circle of friends/family?( – even the newscasters/weather people on tv who I never expect to invite me over to their houses…please, as grandmother used to say “Everyone has their crosses to bear. No need to tell every one everything. None of their business or yours.”) (She was far too busy doing rather than talking even when ancient)

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        • I suspect the loss of good manners and common sense plays a big role in the bullying and trolling we see online and in the media. Glorifying bad behavior and violence has been part and parcel of the entertainment industry since at least the 1940s or so. And much as many people will disagree with me, I’ll argue that’s one of the causes of the increased violence and intolerance of our current world.

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          • I’ll not argue – applaud instead. In “ancient times”…like my parent’s and my childhood, you were scorned if you laughed or made fun of others getting hurt or having misfortune….not put on a TV series/You Tube and rewarded with money or admiration for showing it first.
            Constant repeated exposure to harsh/cruel/mentally disturbing ugliness or things makes people accept it as normal and OK. (Shaking fist at the stupidity…sorry.)

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yep, same here! We’d get reprimanded, too, by most parents. Gasp! Yes, those were days when other parents would let you know when you were messing up and would make sure your parents found out, too. I miss those days. But I can understand why more people won’t step up in today’s world. The fear of lawsuits or violence makes many of us think twice before speaking up or stepping in.

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  6. I think I actually find it easier to concentrate in summer – when the weather is warm and the sun is out, I generally feel more positive and motivated and so can focus on things, whereas if it’s cold and gloomy I just don’t feel like doing anything.

    I totally agree about too much choice sometimes. I find it really hard to make a decision about things when one isn’t obviously better than another, so to use your example of the books, if I read 20 book blurbs/reviews and they all seem to be at about the same level in terms of whether I think I will enjoy them, then I really struggle to just pick one, I’m looking for a stand-out one. It’s the same in the supermarket for instance, I will often choose to shop in a smaller supermarket (when I’m not having a delivery!) because I want less choice, it’s quicker. I’m a real easy-target for promotions, if I want something and one is promoted at me, I’ll likely just go for that rather than taking the time to see how it compares with the other non-promoted ones. And restaurants, I don’t want a 10 page menu – I’m more likely to pick something I’m not happy with when there is too much choice because I can’t give each thing enough consideration.

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    • It’s funny how we all respond differently to different types of weather! You’d think by now we’d have adapted to function equally well in all seasons. 🙂

      When it comes to shopping, I’m terribly inconsistent. While all those choices can paralyze me, too small a selection can also leave me frustrated. I must really be a Goldilocks type of personality! Luckily, I can usually avoid the promotions since I learned to “comparison shop” at a young age. In so many ways, I’m probably a marketer’s or advertiser’s nightmare.

      I also prefer a more manageable restaurant menu. Not only is it hard to choose from a huge selection, I usually wonder how the chefs can possibly do a good job on everything that’s being offered. And don’t get me started on wait staff who hover while you try to make a decision! 🙂

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      • JM, “It’s funny how we all respond differently to different types of weather! You’d think by now we’d have adapted to function equally well in all seasons. 🙂
        I could never figure out how it is that when we’re sick the body can give us a temperature of 102F and yet when we are normal and need to go out into the cold it can’t manage to give us a temperature of 102F right before we step out into the snow. It would seem to me that the rate of heat loss when it’s freezing out could bring that 102F to 98.6F and then we wouldn’t need a coat. Instead we have to do violent exercise to make the muscles hot heat producers. We stand still in bed with a fever don’t we. Usually when we’re sick we don’t jump up and down on the bed like it’s a trampoline — so we’re able to produce heat without muscle action. We haven’t adapted well at all. Nature makes bad designs.

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  7. The thing that really struck me here is your response to your own doubts about “who would want to read it.” You are absolutely right, if even 100 new people discover it, then you’ve won. But I’ll tell you that there are far, far, far more than 100 people who would be interested (because if something is good, more people will want it, no matter how taste-specific). The problem is getting it to them. That’s where the joys of marketing come in.
    The only people who are GUARANTEED to fail are the people who don’t try, but I think you already know that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The joy of marketing? That sounds like an oxymoron to a shy introvert…. And since the thought of marketing and promotion fills me with dread, that’s one reason why I would be happy with even a few hundred readers. Putting myself out there is mentally and physically exhausting. I simply couldn’t keep it up for any length of time before I collapsed or burned out. And I don’t want to burn out on the writing.

      There are success stories where indie writers have done practically no marketing and yet word-of-mouth publicity has sent their books to the tops of the rankings. I’ve always felt that was—and is—the best form of publicity anyone could have. Will my stories generate that kind of result? There’s no way to know until I set them out in the world. And while that will take more time than I initially thought, I keep working to get there before the end!

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    • Smaktakula,
      Isn’t it getting it to the right people? And how do you do that? I could see how if let’s say there are more than 5 billion people in the world and I could put right into the hands of 1 million people my book as they’re getting up for breakfast, it could be they’re the wrong million people and they won’t read it and I wouldn’t even be able to compete with the toast. I think maybe some of them would use the book to hammer in nails and swat flies, or use it as a boomerang. But some how I might not realize that and might be thrilled to have it in the hands of a million people. Hmm, I wonder if they’re on Facebook. Sure, why not, I could say I know a million people. They’re all my best friends for a picosecond at a time, oh um or is that microsecond…Maybe being Emperor would be easier, and then I could make them read it like a school assignment and tell them that all educated people like it and so they do too. Friends, Romans, Countrymen….

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  8. The overwhelming amount of books out there is crazy, isn’t it? I laugh when someone finds out I write and asks, “So you probably make thousands of dollars with all the books you sell, right?” and I have to say, “No. I’m happy when I hit the big $40 mark a month.” You know that 10,000 hours philosophy to become an expert in a field. Well, I’m on my way there with actual writing…but to make money, I’m worried I would have to put in the 10,000 hours of marketing as well to get people to read my writing. That doesn’t thrill me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ack—the thought of 10,000 hours of marketing sounds like a nightmare to me! But as I read posts from writers who are out there trying to make a living at this, they might very well do it over the course of a few books. If you think about a 40-hour per week job, that’s about 2,000 hours a year. And I know some writers put in 20 hours per week on marketing… That could really add up after just a few books being promoted.

      When I think of the work and odds involved in making a career out of writing fiction, I’m glad that hasn’t been my life-long goal. If some people end up enjoying the stories I’ve written, I’ll be content. 🙂

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  9. Yeah, sometimes I think the world is just too complicated. We risk getting lost in it even when we shouldn’t really be lost, because there are too many possibilities. I can relate to that overwhelmed feeling.

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    • I remember a time with 3 network channels (the most basic of cable wasn’t in our house), no cell phones, and certainly no interwebz. And I don’t remember thinking, “Boy, we’re really missing out on so many choices, aren’t we? I can’t wait till all that cool stuff gets invented.” I think that overwhelmed feeling permeates modern cultures, but we don’t want—or know how—to step back and catch our collective breath.

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  10. It can definitely be overwhelming just to find a book out there that we might like. Back when there were bookstores, I’d usually just gravitate to a book based on the cover and the blurb on the back and strangely, it would usually be the perfect one to read at the time. Now I like Goodreads for narrowing the choice down. It helps to have friends with similar book tastes on there so when one of them recommends something, I know it will be good. I can see why you’d be distracted with that groundhog around! He looks pretty entertaining, as if he might be about to use the gutter as a microphone and start singing or something.

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    • Recommendations from family and friends with similar tastes are the best marketing tools for reaching me. That and a good cover and blurb. (Are we terrible for judging books by their covers? But that’s where the first impression comes from!) I’m lucky enough to live in an area that still has real bookstores as well as a good library system. Of course, even those choices can be somewhat overwhelming, but usually not so much!

      We seem to live in groundhog central. I’ve never seen so many as I have out here. As I mentioned to Clowie above, the day I snapped this photo, I first ran into this little guy/gal on the front porch! Now that was a distraction! 🙂

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  11. Summer has a way of distracting me, too. I have such high hopes every year!
    Your observances about friends on FB… Yes. Sometimes I think if I were in a room with these friends, listening to them say some of the things they post on FB, I’d shout, “I’m not one of you!” *shrug* I don’t know why, but that would make me feel better. 🙂

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    • I’m happy that I’m getting back into a writing mode, but I still wish I was doing more this summer. Still, progress is progress, right?!

      I really hope some folks would be appalled if they heard themselves say such things out loud. But I’m afraid too many wouldn’t these days. It’s as if our ability for instant communication has turned off all the filters we used to engage before shooting off our mouths. Ugh!

      I hope you’re making progress on the writing front, too! 🙂

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  12. It’s winter here, JM and I can actually think again! Summer in the tropics does something to my brain and it’s like the heat infiltrates my thoughts. ‘I’m too hot to even think’ is a mantra for me in Summer 😉

    There are just too many choices of books out there. I often go through Kindle to see what’s selling and unless you’re Harper Lee, EL James or Stephen King it’s near impossible to get anyone interested in your work. But this doesn’t mean we should lose the will to be creative. Keep going with the great writing xxxx

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    • Oh yeah, those days in the 90s with heat indices in the 100s do a number on my brain, too. 🙂 It’s hard to do any kind of thinking then, which is not usually a good combination with the day job or writing!

      There are discouraging days, but they’re getting further apart, and I take that as a good sign. I think recognizing that any positive recognition of a published book would be a major achievement is helping my perspective. As is reminding myself that it’s okay to take my time. Forcing myself to write when the words just aren’t there is a recipe for disaster! Over time, those baby steps still add up! 🙂

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  13. Well your first section was a little depressing (the number of choices, not the cute hamster), but you sum it up well at the end. I think real writers need to get the words out, no matter how many people are or aren’t reading. So congrats on your 20,000 words!! 😀

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    • When I sat down with my Kindle to generate the real numbers, I realized it was no surprise that I was overwhelmed! 🙂 In the past, seeing those numbers might have dropped me into a writing funk for weeks. Now, it’s more about telling the stories I want to tell for me first. If anyone else enjoys them down the line, then that’s the frosting on the cake. I’m hoping this attitude will get me to a completed manuscript faster than sweating over queries and as-yet nonexistent audiences! 🙂

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  14. Those search terms will make you despair. Categories can get really specific though. Try to find something about fiction and archeology. That will be a much smaller category. 🙂 You can also tag your book with search terms that help people find it. It’s a huge upward battle and it’s harder than getting into Harvard, but it’s worth it. When the time comes, your publisher will handle that stuff. And if you self-pub, you can ask me about what I learned from Six Train. 🙂

    Thanks for the awesome shout out! Hugs.

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    • I wonder how many people search on archaeology and fiction? 🙂 But it should definitely bring about fewer and more manageable results. I’m terrible when it comes to things like tagging, so I suspect it was easier for me to be accepted by Harvard (even though I chose another university). Right now, I think my best route is to focus on getting the first draft written and out to betas. Once I think the manuscript is on-track, I’ll start refresher courses on both querying and indie publishing. Heaven only knows how many new options will be available at that time! But I know you’ll be on top of them, and I’d love to learn from your experiences. 🙂

      Anytime on the shout out! One of my younger colleagues took some of your bookmarks for her husband to take to his place of work. And my mom will be recommending her library pick up TGWIG when they do their orders this fall. Which reminds me, I need to contact my library about that! 🙂

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      • LOL. You never know. Oh it is nothing that comes naturally. I look at how books that are similar to mine are tagged. My small press took care of that with TGWIG, but with Six Train I was on my own and it was rough. Exactly. Know this is later on in your journey and just focus on the now. I do that a lot. I have events set up for the next 4 months but I focus on today and tomorrow. 🙂

        Oh wow, thank you! You and your mom are so awesome. Thank you! 🙂

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  15. The summer months equate to vacation in my mind, even if I don’t have summer break, anymore. I think there’s a part of our brains that wants to go back to being kids again, running through sprinklers in the backyard with nary a care. 🙂 Good job with your manuscript, though! 20K is worth celebrating! 100 “friends,” though. Twitter is good for short bursts of interaction; tumblr is basically a time-waster. The problem with these outlets is the same as with an Amazon store – the sheer number of choices bombarding us. Whom do we follow? Whom do we answer? Whom do we read/watch/listen to? There’s so many people and feeds out there that are interesting and do have some merit, but we’ve got to draw the line, at some point. It’s very un-social of me, these days, but I like switching off my Internet connection for a while every day, and not just so I don’t have to look at my work email. 🙂

    Kourtney told me if I keep writing and keep sharing, I’ll find my tribe. She’s right: I have found a few people here and there who read and enjoy my stuff, for whatever reason. I think your concentration on your blog and writing (with some FB thrown in) is a good choice: it’s narrowed your focus so you’re not torn across a bunch of different media outlets, and you can spend time doing what drives you most. When you decide you’re ready for publishing, there are ways to consolidate your promotion efforts across different social media outlets, so you can keep concentrating on your writing and passions. I know of at least a few ways to connect tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress, and I’m happy to share those quick-link lessons whenever you’re interested. 🙂

    Congratulations again on your 20K milestone! I’m looking forward to reading the finished product, whenever you decide to share. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was actually one of those kids who got bored awfully quick with summer vacation. 😉 But these days, I’d love to have a week off here and a week off there, scattered through the nicer seasons of the year. Somehow, all of the holidays piling up in November, December, and January doesn’t seem right! Why are they during the coldest and darkest parts of the year?

      I’m nearly clueless when it comes to social media, and if I have to expand from the blog someday, you can bet I’ll need all the help I can get. So you can also bet I’ll remember your offer to help! 😀 Of course, this is all predicated on me actually finishing and polishing a manuscript to the point where it’s ready for a wider audience to see it! And some days, that time feels very far away. Luckily, realizations like that aren’t as likely to send me into a writer’s funk these days. Focusing on my enjoyment of the process is a lot less stressful, and I think it will also be more successful in the end. At some point, probably when test readers have told me I’m on the right track, I’ll share more details about this manuscript on the blog. Of course, a few people already know a few things about it. 😉

      Now, we’ll see how long it takes me to get to 30,000!

      Like

  16. Wow, I could really relate to the book choices and the social media posts. The unlimited amount of book choices makes me worry I’m going to pick a dud, which has happened plenty of times before. Now, I’m leery to pick again. And, it really does stab the heart when you realize how difficult it will be for someone to find our particular books. Sigh.

    I totally understand what you’re saying about how different we are when you read posts on fb. I’ll just leave it at that, for now. 😉

    Keep up the good work on the manuscript.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hope no one thinks I believe we should all be identical! But I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned on Facebook about people I’ve known all my life. I suspect a lot of “vote canceling” takes place in my family every election. 😉

      I’m getting better about not getting down about all the books out there and wondering if anyone will ever read any of mine (if I ever publish them). People talk about “the gatekeepers” of traditional publishing and how they keep the standards high, but I’m not so sure. I’ve read quite a few traditionally published books where I wonder what the agent, editor, and press were thinking. It’s not a question of me simply not caring for a particular book. It’s recognizing that it’s simply not well-written! Of course, a lot of self-published books would benefit from some objective editing, but there are a lot of good ones to be found. IF you can find them!

      Hang in there with your stories, too, and don’t ever give up on them. The right path for you will show itself!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I enjoyed this post – I felt like we were sitting at a café, sipping tea, having a great conversation. In my mind, I was answering your comments here. First, yes, I find it much harder to concentrate, create, and WRITE during the summer. And I make excuses and say I should enjoy the outside weather while I can – and I do. My mind is still rattling away thoughts of the book I’m working on, though, and hopefully they’ll flow out quickly when I actually sit down and write! Second, Facebook is a strange creature. I still can’t figure it out, but it’s much like a lesson in sociology, and in that way I enjoy reading people’s FB posts. Thirdly, yes, a zillion books out there, and ours are but a tiny pinprick in the universe. But the stress of becoming ‘famous’ lessens, and the thought of 100 people knowing our work, and reading our books, becomes more doable. I can accept that. I bet you can to. Lastly – GREAT mystery series. Louise Penny (author) – start with the first one, Still Life. I devour her books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, if only I could achieve that sitting at a café ambiance with all my posts! That would be wonderful. To my surprise, I’ve made some progress on writing this month. I topped 10,000 words for July today and still have four days to go. If I can keep this momentum going, I might just have a complete first draft of the story by early next year. Of course, there are no guarantees that will happen, and I might hit some bumps. But if I can keep thinking about the books at those times (like when the temps hit the mid-90s), I should be good to pick up again. As you say, having those ideas kicking around in your head is a good “place holder” for the times when we can’t focus on the actual pen to paper or hands to keyboard.

      I suspect I’ll never get the hang of social media. 😉 The way everything changes today, it’s too hard to keep up! And thank you for the book recommendations—I’ll check those out. I honestly believe good old “word of mouth” recommendations are the best advertising and promoting tools out there!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Good to know that you’re still persevering with the writing JM, even if you have moments of doubt at how many books are out there. I often struggle with information overload and long for a time when there wasn’t quite so much choice! And I also often get dejected at the thought of the sheer number of books published, but we just have to hope that ours would be one of the ones that would get found 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • To my surprise, I topped 10,000 words for July today. Depending on how the next few days go, it could be my best month so far this year. At worst, it’s still my second best, and that’s not bad. In my view, any time I can hit 10,000 or more in a month is great. If I could have a first draft of this manuscript completed by early 2016, I’d be ecstatic. At least, until I got the beta reviews back. 😉

      The more I tell myself that even a few hundred sales would be a success, the less “down” time I seem to encounter. So we’ll see if I can keep that outlook going as I work on this draft. And if I can keep from going into “paralysis mode” over too many choices in my life!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a real achievement JM – 10,000 words in a month. I was reading about falling earnings for authors today – I think the best policy is just to live in optimistic denial about our chances to get published and also make a living from writing until we’re proven right or wrong 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s a tough haul for a young writer who hopes to make a living with his or her books. I consider myself lucky that I don’t expect to be able to give up the day job. And, if I do have a number of them in me, most of them might be written in retirement. At least I don’t have the pressure of needing the income from them. That is a huge comfort—and one less major worry—for me.

          Liked by 1 person

  19. Summers are tough for writers, honey. There is a lot of action happening outside, so for me, it’s a bit hard to sit still with writing. That’s why I made the decision to slow down this year with the blogging break, so I could concentrate on my first draft. It seems to be working, since I’m halfway through!

    What I’ve learned about summer writing is that the time is best spent on creative ideas for a first draft or polishing a final draft. Not a chance in hell that I could plunge into a second draft during the season…too much work! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • To my absolute surprise, July has been a good month for writing. I just topped 10,000 words today on the current WIP. Maybe it’s because I’ve been thinking about my major subplot and decided to change it. I think the original was just too hard for me to write, and that was impacting my progress on the main story line. Now that I have a new subplot that I feel more comfortable with, the word count is increasing. I’ll take it! 🙂

      Like you, though, I’m not plunging into the revisions of my other story! Those “alpha” reviews are still simmering in the back of my mind. Maybe come fall or winter I’ll be able to start tackling those. Or, they may have to wait until a first draft of the current WIP is done.

      Congrats on reaching the halfway point on your latest novel! 🙂 The blogging (and other social media) breaks really do help with that novel writing, don’t they?

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Oh, I hear you. This whole writing thing is very discouraging. If only we could concentrate on doing it just for the love and not caring about anyone else reading it, we’d be me in much better shape emotionally, wouldn’t we?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, so true! It’s hard not to fantasize occasionally about writing a best seller. But when I do, I make sure to remind myself that it isn’t likely to happen! I am getting better about setting my hopes lower. Honestly, a hundred people I don’t know reading the book would really be an accomplishment. I also remind myself that I have to finish a novel before that can happen!

      Like

  21. Mathair and I have found ways to use Facebook and Twitter to our advantage business-wise but it has presented us with some delightful distractions as well. 😉 We find that we’re always writing more in the fall and winter and promoting more in the spring and summer. Congratulations to you for your progress on your manuscript and hope you have a productive yet fun-filled rest of the summer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fall and winter are usually better writing months for me, too, except when those time-consuming holidays hit. 😉 But surprisingly, the writing mojo has resurfaced in July, and I topped 11,000 words for the month today. That’s a major victory in my mind! The day will come when I have to get more serious about social media for promotion and such, but I’m not looking forward to it at all. If I could maintain this pace, I could have the first draft done by early next year. Now that would be a great feeling! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I think you’re right about summer being distracting. I often look out the window and think about working in my garden, and being annoyed that I have to work on writing projects instead. I have tried to bring my stuff out on the porch, but the internet connection there is spotty. I wish I could stop blaming seasons for my writing struggles! Mother Nature probably doesn’t appreciate that. 🙂

    I know what you mean about the overwhelming number of titles out there. When I think about my book, I have to ask myself the same question — who the heck is going to find it, much less read it, outside of my blogging buddies, and family members that I bribe? It doesn’t get any easier when I know that I have to keep up the marketing effort, constantly talking about it, which really goes against my grain. If I could afford a publicist, I’d hire one in a heartbeat.

    Yet, I always come back to the reasons I chose indie in the first place (and you know that wasn’t an easy decision to make). I am tired of waiting to move forward in this field. For me, it’s not just about sales and the bottom line. I truly love jib-jabbing about writing, and I enjoy offering suggestions to encourage others on their own quests. I feel like authors have some great advantages at their fingertips now, and while a lot of it means we have to toot our own horns, I think we’ll grow more comfortable the more we do it.

    For me, it really came down to the cold, hard fact that not trying would amount to failure. I didn’t like the sound of that option. 😉

    I think, for you, JM, you need to keep at your stories, because you’re a wonderful writer who has original story ideas that people would love to read. Just focus on that right now, and the rest will work out.

    BTW, I really, really like your subtitle: “What stories will she unearth?” You can’t get more perfect than that for your blog! Nice job! (And that’s marketing, as I’m sure you know. 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s really helping that I’ve reined in my expectations for writing. I still want the novels to be good enough to publish. But I’m recognizing that garnering even a few hundred readers would be a coup. With so many books to choose from, the odds of thousands of readers finding a particular one are slim! And, of course, the most important first reader is still me, the author. If I don’t like what I write, what purpose would there be? 🙂

      I’ve also recognized that the playing field will likely change significantly before the first book is ready. So I’m focusing on the writing, as you suggest. I can save the serious investigations into querying, small presses, and going indie until later. For now, they’re distractions to be avoided. After all, when the first book is ready, who knows what the market will look like?

      Building the audience for a book takes so much time and patience. But I think when we find that “writing team” to support us, we can reach that goal. I’m glad you’re on my team! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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