Alison Kent's Blah Blog: Blah Blog
September 14th, 2014
Day #13 of the No Social Media Month experiment.

Today's muse: Alex Ebert aka Edward Sharpe

Today’s muse: Alex Ebert aka Edward Sharpe


Even the most deft pen is a clumsy tool and yet we still try for magic.

This is more or less how I see my current hero. Less in that his beard is not that long, and his hair not quite that unkempt. But he does have enough to pull back in a knot, which he does, and he does have scruff on his face. There’s a long story behind this book and its evolution. I started it as a novella for a Carina Press open call for a Harleys and Holidays anthology. I managed to get one chapter written before the deadline, so it sat on my computer for months.

When my Montlake editor asked if I’d like to do a Valentine’s Day novella for 2015, I said sure, and pulled out this novella to finish. I sent her the scene I’d written, and a short pitch, and she loved it and asked instead if I’d like to turn it into a full book. Ergo, the crazy woman author who’s writing a novel in the time she would usually write a novella.

Word count at the end of the day: 73330
Online shopping: Oops. I totally forgot I wasn’t supposed to be buying Kindle books. I’ve bought 10.
Social media: ::hangs head in shame::

For fun, here’s a video of Alex Ebert/Edwin Sharpe, who is actually much leaner than my taller, buffer hero. But I do like his face. And the quote above? It’s his from his acceptance speech, winning a Golden Globe for the original score for Robert Redford’s movie All Is Lost.

September 13th, 2014
Day #12 of the No Social Media Month experiment.

Today's muse: a barred eagle owl

Today’s muse: a barred eagle owl

A recent Note from the Universe (emailed to me daily) that I love:

There’s so much time in a day, Alison.

You could have breakfast, lunch, and dinner on 3 different continents.

You could outline the book you’re going to write, start the screenplay adaptation, and watch “Gone With The Wind,” before the sun even sets.

Spend a day at work, and still have 16 hours left over.

Or you could just think 60,000 different thoughts as you tool all over Houston.

Hey, the record for climbing Mt. Everest is under 9 hours, leaving 15 to nap and go Yeti searching. There’s so much time in a day, Alison. So much.

There might even be enough to get this book done by deadline! One of the productivity tricks I use is the Chrome browser extension Stay Focused. I have it set to allow a total of 30 minutes out of every 24 hours between Facebook and Twitter. I figure that’s plenty of time to respond to mentions and tags, and do what posting I have been cheating to do. It’s funny how it feels like I waste so much time on those two sites, but this app is proving very useful. I can also set it to a Nuclear Option where it will block everything except my allowed sites. All I allow when I do this is Dictionary.com and it’s related tabs.

Sometimes I’ll add YouTube or Gmail, if I’m expecting something from an editor or agent, or if I want to listen to some music videos while writing. The problem is that my Windows 8 laptop also has IE installed, so when I’m blocking Chrome, I still have access to the web. Then again, I also have my phone, and a second laptop, and a Surface, and my desktop machine, and my Kindle Fire…not to mention the husband’s desktop machine, and laptop, and iPad. Honestly, I’m just doomed. Thankfully, all those other options require me getting up from where I’m working, usually on the couch, and the very act reminds me why I’m blocking the web in the first place, so I stay put and work!

Word count at the end of the day: 69390
Online shopping: I looked. I resisted.
Social media: ::hangs head in shame::

September 12th, 2014
Day #11 of the No Social Media Month experiment.
Today's muse: Duke the 80# lapdog who hates thunder

Today’s muse: Duke the 80# lapdog who hates thunder

I was tagged on Facebook to list 10 books that have stayed with me. I thought I’d add them here, too. I’m not a re-reader, so when a book sticks to the point where I’ve bought another copy because I’ve thought about reading it again, I figure it’s worth mentioning. And if I can remember where I was when reading it, all the better. I have multiple copies of all of these, print and digital, and know exactly where I was when reading. I forced myself to stop at 10…

1) Outlander – I have the original hardcover, autographed by Ms. Gabaldon. So much love for Jamie.

2) Heart of the West – This is my favorite by Penelope Williamson. I remember being in bed and holding my breath toward the end, waiting for the HEA to happen. I miss that in a lot of romances, the feeling of uncertainty, the tension that it truly might not happen. I wish I could write that.

3) Fire Dancer/Dancer’s Luck/Dancer’s Illusion – The story set up in this Ann Maxwell (Elizabeth Lowell) SF trilogy was left unfinished and I don’t know a single reader who doesn’t want more. I read this at a mall playground when my (now) 35 year old son was about 7.

4) The Flame and the Flower – Per Wikipedia: The first romance novel to detail physical intimacy between the protagonists, the book revolutionized the historical romance genre. I almost named my son Brandon after Brandon Birmingham.

5) The Thorn Birds – I did name my daughter Megan after Meggie Cleary.

6) Slow Heat in Heaven – The Sandra Brown that changed my life. I’d read all of her Silhouette Intimate Moments books as Erin St. Claire, and most of her Loveswepts and even her Candlelights. But Cash Boudreaux. Whoo-boy.

7) Honeymoon – Forever and always this will be my favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Dash and Eric. Sigh.

8) Mystic River – Read this one on the bus commuting downtown to work. My introduction to Dennis Lehane. A forty minute ride each way. Fell into this and almost missed my stop every time.

9) The Wolf’s Hour – This was my first Robert McCammon, and after reading it I wanted so badly to see it as a movie.

10) The Stand – Stephen King, with this book, is probably responsible for my love of all things apocalyptic.

Word count at the end of the day: 65780
Online shopping: I looked. I resisted.
Social media: ::hangs head in shame::

September 11th, 2014
Day #10 of the No Social Media Month experiment.

Today's muse: water

Today’s muse: water

I ended Wednesday at 62225 words and exhausted. The worst part of the writing day was cutting a chunk of 1200 words. I drafted the replacement text before bed, but didn’t get to bed till after midnight. I took a break around 4:00 to swim, hoping it would help with the sleep. My brain is in deadline mode and doesn’t want to shut down. I slept, but I also swam too long because I was so tired and actually sore. Good for me, but ow. The swimming also helped break loose a scene that I needed but wasn’t having luck tying into the plot organically. Not only did that happen, I got a whole new external issue to weave in. Yes. Five days before deadline. Because this is how my muse rolls…

On the no social media / no online shopping front… FAIL. I was bad and bought something online. It was an Amazon Daily Deal, so I had to. Heh. I tweeted. I posted to Facebook. Wednesday was a day of distraction, but also productive in a lot of ways. Minus the cutting of words. I did have the discipline to not watch the season premier of Sons of Anarchy. So there’s that!

September 10th, 2014
Day #9 of the No Social Media Month experiment.

Today's muse: Word tracking spreadsheet

Today’s muse: Word tracking spreadsheet

Tuesday night ended at 60355, which meant I actually wrote over 2200 words after the grandboy left the building. Of course I obsessed for five hours, following his flight on the Flight Aware website, making sure he got home, else I probably could’ve written more. And not having slept much the night before, the hubs or I either one, we both tired out early. He came home an hour before he usually does, we went to dinner, caught up on Hell on Wheels, then I did a bit more writing, but was in bed by 11:00.

The photo in the corner is the header to my word tracking spreadsheet. As you will see by the number of words I need, this book is indeed being written by a crazy woman. And tho I’ll finish close to 90K, I aim short because in revising I always add more. I am failing horribly at staying off social media. I know I’m grabbing for any distraction because my brain is just so tired of finding the WORDS. Sometimes they’re not even in reach. But I also know the more I do stay off social media, the better things get. I don’t need to start my day with sad pictures of animals, or horrible news stories, or rants by others on Twitter that just have me rolling my eyes. I need to save that brain space for the book. I know all the discipline and focus tricks, I employ many of them. Bottom line: this is a battle between me, myself, and I. Not sure which of us is going to win. Not sure it matters as long as the book gets done.

September 9th, 2014
Day #8 of the No Social Media Month experiment.

Today's muse: Beneath the Patchwork Moon giveaway

Today’s muse: Beneath the Patchwork Moon giveaway

Against the wall behind the dog are envelopes stuffed with copies of Beneath the Patchwork Moon. Leave a comment if you’d like one (I’ll advertise this widely next week) and I’ll start sending them out after the book is turned in. US mailing addresses only, please. Click the link beneath the post to leave a comment.

The grandboy flies home on Tuesday morning so I’ve already accepted that Monday (I’m writing this with my coffee) is most likely going to be a bust on the writing front. Need to enjoy my last day with him (and I did!).

Monday turned out about as I anticipated: 58064. The next seven days are going to be timed writing bursts. Twenty or so minutes at a time I’m going to knock out the rest of this book because THANKS TO THE HUSBAND, I now have the plot/backstory issue that has been plaguing me solved, woot! And he found a way to make it relevant to some events of the last several years, and if I could be more vague, I would, ha! Anyhow, I’m excited to get this book done because I LOVE it. Honestly. I do. Here’s the opening:

Inked script at his nape. Colored sleeves beneath his rolled cuffs. Elaborate artwork in his oxford’s open collar. Her imagination wandered to his back and his chest, to his shoulders. His biceps. His abs. The tattoos were symbolic, not simply cosmetic, and part of the biker culture, leaving her to wonder how important to his life the club had been before he’d walked away.

Tats intrigued her—the creativity, the significance, the commitment—even when the man wearing the ink was her student’s father and off-limits. This particular man also wore, not a beard, but an unkempt scruff framing a devilish smile. His hair was long, pulled back in a disheveled sort of knot. It had her thinking of Heathcliff, tortured and haunted and wild on the moors.

Had her, too, wanting to rescue him.

Hands curled over the edge of her desk at her hips, Brooklyn Harvey looked out at her class of kindergartners. The fifteen five- and six-year-olds sat on the floor in a semicircle, their rapt attention on Callum Drake. Rather than using the full-size chair she’d offered him, he’d lowered his six-foot-plus frame into one of those from the pint-sized collage table. Watching him fold himself to sit had been as breathtaking as watching him walk through the door.

September 8th, 2014
Day #7 of the No Social Media Month experiment.

Today's muse: Brutus

Today’s muse: Brutus

I approached Sunday’s writing with an eye toward Tuesday. Sad, but true. The lack of quiet has been the biggest detriment to moving forward on this book. Who knew a 7 y.o. could talk nonstop, even when he’s talking to his Pokemon cards or Minecraft game? I’m spoiled to having the house to myself while the hubs is at work, and if he’s home, it’s pretty much the same. He can disappear into the depths of the Internet for hours on end. Or into the book we’re writing together. Or he cooks, or walks the dogs, or messes with the pool or the yard.

Of course there are always cats…

I think the distraction of the grandboy (which is a LOVELY distraction, don’t get me wrong) leading to my lack of focus has also sent me to Facebook too often. Less so to Twitter, though I have tweeted a few times, but I’ve checked in on the FB family doings and stayed to check on friends. The plan for the month was to do none of that, so Tuesday I must buckle back down. Still no online shopping save for the one holiday gift!

On the word front for Sunday: 57576, but this is net after a bunch of revising of early scenes I knew had issues. Not super happy with my progress, but Sunday included a lot of swimming, and the hubs finally hooked up the Wii (we’ve lived here a year!) so the grandboy could jump around and tire himself after a rainy afternoon. Also, stepson and #2 daughter were over to watch movies and play Pokemon and we ordered Chinese. I did sit under the headphones and work, but did some Wii-ing of my own. In the pool early in the day, the grandboy asked me why I hadn’t come out to swim the night before when he and #2 and her man and the hubs were outside, and I told him I had to work. He said, “Don’t do that again.” :)

September 7th, 2014
Day #6 of the No Social Media Month experiment.

Today's muse: Dinner at the pool

Today’s muse: Dinner at the pool

As with Friday, Saturday was a bust. I’ve come to accept that I won’t get back to being productive until Tuesday when the grandboy leaves. Saturday was the first day I actually felt the stirrings of panic, which manifested in total bitchiness towards the hubs, poor man, but we’re good. He knows this happens, and I apologized because I got myself into this mess. He and #2 daughter have been wonderful to let me sit under the headphones while they make sure the the grandboy, who is SUCH a boy, has what he needs in the way of food and supervision. I’d say he’s had a pretty good vacation, actually. I’d like to sleep twelve hours a night and play all day!

On the word front… a whopping 360 net, ending the day Saturday at 57079. (Yes, my 9/15 deadline for a 90K book is creeping close, argh. I see a lot of all-nighters coming up this week.) The net is the key. I cut a ton and replaced it and then wrote probably a good 1K in a document to myself working out the backstory element I’m having issues with. The story is all there, but even I was having trouble believing my heroine’s motivation for an action she’s preparing to take. I’m feeling better about it, but still think I’m missing the cherry on top. May need to brainstorm with the hubs, though I was hoping to work this out on my own.

September 6th, 2014
Day #5 of the No Social Media Month experiment.

Today's muse: morning kitty love

Today’s muse: morning kitty love

Let’s not even talk about Friday’s 399 words… Instead, let’s talk about swimming with the grandboy, and chess and checkers and The Last Airbender, and pizza out for dinner with the boy and the hubs and #2 and her man. Also, I slept, and I’m feeling better, but I have this brand new appreciation for mothers of young ones who write. It’s not the doing for him and with him. It’s the lack of extended writing time. The snatches have made me totally lose focus of what I’ve already said, what I’ve already revealed. It’s why I gave up yesterday at 56719 and just did my best to enjoy the day.

September 5th, 2014
Day #4 of the No Social Media Month experiment.

Today's muse: Sam's story

Today’s muse: Sam’s story


“It is fate that I am here,’ George persisted, ‘but you can call it Italy if it makes you less unhappy.”

I would like a room with a view. But I would like that view to be nothing but my laptop screen. From now until midnight on September 15th, please. Also, this quote made me chuckle because of the part Italy plays in the #wip.

Thursday gave me a chance to explain to the grandboy what I do. How I build stories out of words, instead of Lego bricks, using creativity to make up situations and characters. We were packaging up some books to mail, and putting others in the closet, and he asked me with each new cover what the story was about. Hard to explain to a seven year old why a character-driven tale might be interesting, but I found at least something exciting going on in each book.

After that, he came down and drew a picture of a Minecraft adventure, with an airplane that crashed and a cave, and I asked him what his character’s name was. “I don’t know,” he said. “How about Steve?” I asked. “Steve? Are you kidding me?” he replied, because, you know, he’s seven. Then I had him tell me Steve’s story, and I wrote it down in his words. There were slugs and slime and TNT and spiders, so it was typical boy stuff and good fun. I think I’ll frame it. Or make it into a book for him somehow.

I ended the day at 56320 words, and really needed another 785, so that’s two days now where I’ve quit short of my goal. But the brain can only do so much, and I spent some of that writing time playing chess with the grandboy, so it was worth it. I’ll burn some candles next week after he’s gone and catch up.

Not much in the way of social media still, and very proud of that. Some family stuff posted to Facebook, and this morning a video to Twitter, but as long as I don’t read my news feed or my Twitter timeline, I’m good. I also bought nothing online, nor did I add anything to my Kindle wishlist for the month.

A funny thing I noticed this week. My agent emailed, and since I hadn’t been on Twitter to see her tweets, it was a surprise, and reminded me of the early days of publishing, before social media, when we didn’t have all this instant access and gratification. It’s nice not to find my mind drifting to what’s happening OUT THERE and being more present RIGHT HERE.

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