When The End is So Close (But Not Close Enough)

Oh sigh! This is how I’m feeling this week …

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I’m at the point in my WIP (work-in-progress) where all I can say is, “This story is killing me!” The characters are getting tired of me, I’m getting tired of them, and we (yes, all the voices in my head, haha!) just want to get this book done. The finish line is so close, but not close enough. I’m on the second to the last chapter and it’s taking me forever—the same kind of forever the kids experience during a car ride longer than 30 minutes—and I am pooped. So pooped that one evening after we were done with dinner, I just fell over onto the dining room chair next to me and shut my eyes. Hubby watched me go down and promptly murmured, “Oh no.” Don’t worry, he’s used to my writer’s drama by now. 😉 After venting to him about my struggle to finish my book, he stated (a little too matter-of-factly!), “That’s normal. The last 5% always requires 95% effort.”

Argh. That is so true. And why is hubby always right?!

I can remember having this similar struggle during my firstborn munchkin’s birth when the nurse told me (after hours of intense labor!) that I STILL had to push him out. Years later when I ran a 5k with my (much younger and energetic) sister, I was the one pushing myself up that final hill to reach the finish line. These days, each time I write a book, I also have to push through the uncertainty and frustration of writer’s block to get to the last page. In all these situations, I wanted to give up even though I was so, so close. Why is that?

Fatigue is probably a good reason. Actually, it’s likely THE reason. When we start out doing a project or task, we have all the optimism in the world that what we’re doing is going to be exciting and worthwhile. But that’s before we face the bumps in the road and have to work hard to overcome those obstacles. So by the time we’re nearing the end, we’re weary and maybe very disillusioned. That’s why the last 5% requires us to give all we’ve got—and then some.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this with my writing. One thing that’s been helping is to tackle each 1% of this last 5% by itself. I’ve found that forcing myself to write in short 15 minute spurts keeps me focused and limits the amount of time I’m staring at the screen. I also reward myself after the 15 minutes are up with some TV (for research purposes, of course!) or a walk or a snack. There’s been times when I’ve been so focused and productive during the 15 minutes that I have no problem going over that time, so I keep on typing! And the more I can focus and type, the closer I get to the finish line.

All righty, all this talk about finishing is motivating me to go write! And here’s a song I’ve had on repeat to help me do just that. Check out Justin Timberlake’s new song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”, a catchy dance tune that will put a smile on your face. 🙂

What do you do to get through that last 5% of whatever it is you’re pushing to finish? 

Straight To You: Q & A

In anticipation of the upcoming release of my first “book-baby”, Straight To You, I’ve put together a brief Q & A about the novella, as well as the self-publishing experience.

So here are the answers to some questions you may (or may not) have wanted to ask. 🙂

1. How long did it take to write this book? What was the process like? It took longer than a human pregnancy, but shorter than an elephant one (which is 22 months!) to complete this book from start to finish.

Image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda/freedigitalphotos.net

I use the metaphor of pregnancy because the process of writing this book was very much like one. There were moments of worry, excitement, impatience, frustration and joy throughout the whole experience. When I finally, finally finished writing and editing the book, I felt like I had gone through many hours of labor and given birth to a brand new baby. 🙂

2. Is the book really based on real life? Yes, and no. Many things I wrote about, such as the themes of second chances, grace and redemption are lessons I have personally learned and grown from, and ones I hoped to share with readers. Some of the characters have qualities similar to people I know, but none of them is an exact replica of any living person. 😉 Moreover, the story is a work of fiction and anything about it that may have been inspired by real life has been dramatized for entertainment purposes.

3. Why choose to self-publish? The simple answer is impatience. 😉 I looked into the pros and cons of both traditional publishing and self-publishing and decided the latter is the route for me. It’s a lot faster to get a book out with the message you want when you do things yourself. (Hm, yes, I admit the control-freak part of me typed that last sentence.) But the bottom line is that times have changed and self-publishing is a very viable option for writers today. (Yay!)

4. Any suggestions for those interested in writing and self-publishing a book? My number one encouragement is to just do it! Do it for your personal enjoyment and satisfaction. Do it for your growth as a writer. And put in your best effort. Above all, get constructive feedback from other writers, as well as and those who read books similar to the one you’re writing. Once I got over my fear of putting my work out there for others to read, I really appreciated the feedback I received. Without input from others, this book would have been a half-baked cake – gooey and raw on the inside and unappetizing. But thanks to my beta readers and proofreaders, my story spent more time in the “oven” and came out more scrumptious than I could have imagined. Oh, and get a great cover designer (mine was the amazing Tugboat Design) for your book because readers do judge a book by its cover – I know I do!

Okie, that’s all for now! Come back next week to read an excerpt from the book. 🙂 Remember, the release date is August 1, 2014!

P.S. There’s no song I could find about self-publishing a book (LOL), so I’m including a love song in celebration of my romantic novella. Check out this feel good tune, “Love Never Felt This Good” by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

What are your thoughts about self-publishing? What books have you read and would recommend by self-published authors?

Monday Mentionables: Quinoa, Eyelid Artwork & Love Songs

Hola! Happy cinco de mayo and happy monday to you all. I hope you had a good weekend. I’m happy to announce that we finally took down our Christmas tree yesterday – it was a few months overdue, but better late than never, right? 😉

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. Quinoa. Okay, so the first thing you need to know about this word is that it’s pronounced “keen-wa”. And it’s a type of grain with edible seeds that is closely related to spinach and tumbleweeds. Doesn’t sound too appetizing? Think again. 🙂 It’s actually pretty tasty and also easy to cook. I just stick it in the rice cooker and add water (or you can try chicken broth); the ratio of quinoa to water is 1:2. Then you can either eat it straight like that in place of rice or pasta or you can mix it into a salad.

The other week we were at Sweet Tomatoes (E’s most favorite restaurant on earth) and they had a new quinoa salad. Hubby and I both liked it, so I took a picture of it and gave it a try at home. It turned out pretty well and has made it onto our regular “menu”. If you’ve never had quinoa before, I’d encourage you to give it a try. It’s super nutritious and high in antioxidant phytonutrients (try saying that fast!), which help with inflammation. You can find out more info about quinoa here.

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Courtesy of Sweet Tomatoes

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By moi 😉

2. Eyelid Artwork. I saw this article online about a makeup artist who uses eyeliner and eye shadow to create beautiful masterpieces on eyelids. Sounds strange, but take a look and see how cool it is. Let me know if you try it out yourself. 🙂

3. Love Songs. In light of today’s “holiday” – hubby and my 13th anniversary, I’m including a few of my favorite love songs. Take a listen to these if you’re in the mood for some romance. 😉

I Will Be Here by Steven Curtis Chapman

Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx

Not a Bad Thing by Justin Timberlake

Okie, that’s all for today. Have a wonderful day! 🙂