Solitude

Solitude …

With solitude, there’s silence and to me there’s not a more Heavenly sound. It’s the sound that gets my creative juices flowing. With solitude there are no distractions. No music. No TVs or alarm clocks or ringing phones. No child yelling “Mom!” No husband peeking in the door to see how I’m doing. All those little interruptions that pull me away from writing.

Cabin RetreatWith solitude, I can focus, and it’s that focus that recharges me when I’m worn out, when I’m struggling to get words on the paper.

Retreat Work TableSo once (sometimes twice) a year I take off, all by myself, for my timeshare in Wisconsin Dells. I spend four nights alone, and that allows me three complete days of uninterrupted writing time.

Ahhh, Heaven!

I get more writing done in those three days than I can in a month at home. (Albeit, I usually have plenty of chocolate on hand too, and we all know that helps the writing process!)

Writing RetreatBecause of a scheduling snafu (mine) back in February, my retreat was cut short, and I’m feeling it now. And with a college attendee and a graduate temporarily living at home, it’s rare that I’m even alone in the house, so I’m itching to get to that little cottage in the Dells.

You know what? I’m signing off right now so I can go schedule that much needed retreat!

Overwhelmed!!!

See that guy to your right? That’s precisely how I was feeling earlier this week. I had a ton of blog interviews to fill out, three blog posts to write, one non-blog interview to fill out, ACFW MN NICE President stuff to attend to, a Book Launch celebration to plan (pssst… The launch is May 15 at Northgate Church just in case any of you happen to be around the Minneapolis area then) …

And that’s just in my writing life!

This spring is rather nuts in the Anderson household with (4) major lifetime events occurring within a span of 7 weeks:

April 22 – my debut novel, Chain of Mercy, releases (pre-order <here>)

April 25 – my daughter has her senior recital. It’s just her in concert for over an hour!

May 3 – my daughter graduates from college

June 8 – my son graduates from high school

Along with each of these exciting events comes a wagon load of preparation, and it seemed that I wasn’t doing any of it 100%. On top of that, I’ve been neglecting the family. They’re lucky if they get a warm meal three days a week. The house hasn’t been well-cleaned since … well, I don’t know when. You’re welcome to come visit, just ignore my new pets, those dust bunnies partying in the corners.

Writing RetreatSo, what’s a girl to do?

Arrange a vacation, that’s what! Well, not exactly a vacation, more of a retreat. I packed up my laptop & netbook and my to-do list and made the three-plus hour trek to Wisconsin Dells for two days of uninterrupted quiet. (And yes, Stacy, that is a Fannie May bag on the table. Chocolate is a requirement for retreats, don’tchya know!)

The first thing I did after checking in was head to the local outlet mall to find a new outfit for my book launch. Thanks to Lori at Dress Barn for helping me find the perfect outfit. Actually, she helped me a bit too much because I came home with more than one outfit.

After picking up groceries, I returned to my villa (about 10:30 pm) to tackle that to-do list.

By the end of the next day I had crossed off all but one blog interview. Yeah! I rewarded myself with a little TV–had to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Can you say plot twist?!!! And then I enjoyed Face Off on the SyFy channel. Yeah, I’m a bit of a geek.

The following day I tackled blog posts, the non-blog interview, the MN NICE stuff, and I started this post.

And then I returned home to my messy house.

Hmm, I booked a vacation to get my writing tasks done, I wonder if that’ll work for housework too…

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*** BOOK GIVEAWAY***

In honor of our blog re-launch, the Inkspers are giving away copies of their books. You can enter to win all five of the books below by leaving a comment. Every time you comment, you’ll be entered, so make sure you stop back every day. This contest is open to U.S. residents only, due to shipping costs. Contests ends Friday, April 11, 2014 at midnight (CST) (That’s today!!!) and the winner will be posted here on Saturday, April 12, 2014. 

Prize Package includes these fabulous books:

We're Back! Book GiveawayRodeo Song by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Chain of Mercy by Brenda S. Anderson (novel releases April 22)

The Widow’s Suitor by Rose Ross Zediker

The Prodigal Daughter by Linda Fulkerson

When Love Calls by Lorna Seilstad

Fine Toothed Comb and Pen In Hand

While we’ve been gone, I’ve been working with another member of our group to use a fine toothed comb on one of my manuscripts to get it ready to send out to agents. I’m not going to be able to make any of the big conferences this year due to my husband’s business and my middle son getting married, so that means I’m forced to concentrate on getting my work in front of professional eyes through the old fashion methods: send out queries. Oh, those dreaded queries!

More fun though, is sending two of my finished manuscripts out to contests, hoping that will also catch the attention of an agent, publisher, or both. If nothing else it will give me feedback and help me to see if my story beginnings will attract the attention I’m hoping to generate.

Writer's RetreatThe most fun thing I have done, though, was to go on a writing retreat with Mary Connealy and Erica Vetsch to an amazing place up in Linn Grove, Iowa. The house was sprawling, beautiful, and set out among the empty fields away from any distraction (save some sheep and bald eagles). The three of us brainstormed the storyline, characters, or plot points in our stories. We also wrote, wrote, chatted a bit, and wrote some more. We even got to soak in a jetted tub (not together!), talk about roughing it! It was an amazing experience and when we were done I had almost ten thousand words written between the two manuscripts I’m currently working on.

The one thing I’ve come to realize lately is that I’m working more on small town contemporary stories instead of the fantasy I’d been concentration on before. However, I do have a taste of magic in my new adult contemporary, so I haven’t given up my fantasy roots altogether. They say write what you know, and I know fantasy, but I really know small town life and all the complications that come with it.

Maybe I’ve found a new calling and I’m excited to see where this is going to lead me.