Friday, July 12, 2013

Balancing Act: Writing and Yoga with Guest Author Samantha Hunter

Hi Everyone! Last week I blogged about managing my time now that life has taken an interesting twist. You can read about it here. As part of my ongoing quest to find the balance between the business world of writing and the writing world of writing, I've asked many published authors about their methods of staying in writing mode while attempting to juggle all the other aspects of being published: marketing, promotions, author loops, blogs, and so much more. One of the authors, Samantha Hunter, graciously offered to share her advice on my blog. Please join me in giving Samantha a warm welcome and learn how she balances her writing with the business side of writing which also includes juggling two publishing houses--Harlequin Blaze and Samhain--along with multiple projects.

Balancing Act: Writing and Yoga
Author Samantha Hunter

The idea of balance is such a pervasive one. It comes up in writing and work discussions all the time, but also in nutrition, exercise, money, and everywhere else in life. Everyone always wants to be in balance, to achieve that perfect, blissful state. In fact, how this blog originated was in a conversation where Christine asked me how I balance writing for more than one publisher (and in more than one genre). I’ll get to that in a minute. J

The theme of “balance” was a particularly rich one for me to think about in my current Samhain release, Bending Over Backwards (also an RT TOP PICK!). In that book, my overworked yoga instructor heroine may be able to hold a complicated pose, but she’s definitely not in balance in her life. My hero has also been thrown off balance by a tragic event that has changed his life forever – he’s just not sure how to get his feet under him again.

Just to be clear, I’m no yoga expert. Not by a long shot, but practicing has taught me a lot about balance. I only started practicing yoga three years ago. One instructor I like in particular is Jason Crandell. Mr. Crandell offers a key point of advice on his DVD as he guides viewers through Tree Pose. He says that balance is not a constant state – we constantly fall in and out of it (paraphrase). Even in the most stable tree pose, some part of your body might still waver and tilt, if only a little. That was such a key idea for me that it stays with me constantly. Balance is not an illusion, but it is momentary – holding it for any period of time takes practice, and falling out of it is inevitable.

As I have come to think of it, balance is a verb – we do it more than we attain it.

So, to answer Christine’s original question, a few of the things I do to have some balance in my writing life are:
Beautiful Cover! And you can win it!

1) I try to be clear about my limits and avoid things I know will get me in a bind.  I’m open with my editors about my schedules and abilities. I don’t say yes if I know I can’t do something, or if it will cause too much stress. I try to work within my strengths, while stretching to my edge – but not past it. Every now and then I end up in some kind of a logjam, but then I remember not to do that again the next time. ;)

2) I try to be in the moment. When I am writing a book, it is the book I focus on. When I am editing, I edit. I do one thing, one project, at a time in my writing, and it works (today I am only writing blogs). Each project has my full attention , and I think that’s how they come out best. When I split my attention, the work suffers. I couldn’t hold two yoga poses at once, and when I am in one, I don’t think about the last one or the next one. That way I can hold the pose better and pay attention to form. I’ve tried to approach my writing the same way.

3) I try to remember that every day is different. My yoga or my writing will not be the same tomorrow or next year as it is today. If you’ve written and submitted enough, you will get rejections and bad reviews. Your career will change in ways you can’t expect, for better and worse. There will be ups and downs. It’s inevitable that you will lose your balance. But you will also get it back again.

The key word in all of these is of course “try.” J  How do you try to keep your balance? Share, and I’ll give away a copy of BendingOver Backwards to one commenter. 

Samantha, thanks so much for visiting my blog today. I love the advice about remembering every day is different. So flexibility and reassessing one's goals is important. I also like the idea of working on one project at a time. I tend to layer my days, but maybe your way is a better way to approach my new writing journey. I'm going to try it and see if it works!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

2013 Melody of Love Contest

2013 Melody of Love Contest
Enter at:

Final Round Judges:
CONTEMPORARY judged by Agent Pamela Harty of The Knight Agency
HISTORICAL judged by Editor Kerri Buckley of Carina Press
PARANORMAL judged by Editor Candace Havens of Entangled Publishing
YOUNG ADULT judged by Editor Heather Howland of Entangled Publishing

Entry Fees and Eligibility:
* Entry fee for MCRW Members: $22
* Entry fee for RWA Members: $27
* Entry fee for non-RWA Members: $32
* All entries must be received by Saturday 11:59 PM, September 7, 2013
* Author can be unpublished or published
* Manuscript being entered cannot have been published and cannot be currently contracted to be published via any means at any time, including self or subsidy publishing.
* Manuscript should be a romance or romantic elements novel of 40,000 words or more.
* Questions? Contact Contest Coordinator Charissa Weaks:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Are You a Lark or an Owl?

After the Amazing Email that changed my life, I went about the business of wrangling a new world. First the website had to be revamped, then my Tumblr account, the blog is brand spanking new thanks to the College Kid, and I have awesome new business cards to give away at Nationals.

At first I was so busy getting to know my new publishing home, joining groups on Yahoo, reading about other debut sales, and more that I barely had time to write. And I get kind if twitchy when I can't write. Really. Twitchy.

I cleared my desk of all the technical, business issues slowly and steadily, but I was frustrated by the brain drain of my creativity. Fortunately, I had already started revising a book before we went on vacation in May, and I had signed up for a very cool plotting class with Suzanne Johnson (more about that in another blog). So while I knew I have two new stories to write for 2014 for Entangled Publishing, I also know myself well enough that I need the proper planning time to do it. So instead of stressing out about what was expected, I decided to focus my energy on the current revisions during the plotting class.

I harnessed all my creativity for this class and the manuscript I was revising for another reason: it's summer in the South and everyone is underfoot. The Physicist is taking extra time off work, the College Kid is in and out of the house at odd hours, and we're all traveling more. Plus there's the 2013 RWA National Convention just around the corner which entails a lot of pre-planning and prep. Not a lot of time to generate new story ideas, but plenty of time to work with words that have already been written and need revision.

The first thing I had to do was reevaluate my schedule. It's so easy to get sucked into the Cyber Vortex of emails, new Yahoo Groups, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and my latest obsession Vine. But if I do that I lose precious writing time. I'm best in the mornings, but I won't stop going to my morning Zumba Classes so what's a writer to do?

This writer starts writing early. At 7AM I'm usually up and at 'em. I write for 2 hours with a breakfast break, then I get ready for the gym. After my workout, I get ready for the day and grab lunch, then I sit down to write for 2-3 more hours. After that there isn't much left in the creative well. That's when I bumbled my brain through the business side of writing (and the Linda Howard Contest).

This rhythm has ebbed and flowed over the years. I'm a Lark Writer. I'm most productive if I start early and finish early. I have another writer friend who is the complete opposite of me: she's an Owl Writer. Often times she'll be signing off Twitter when I'm signing into see if there are any #1k1hr writers who want to sprint write with me.

I've always been a Lark. The College Kid is an Owl. The Physicist just wants coffee and a trip to his cave. Tell me, are you a Lark or an Owl?