Not flame out — that’s a different blog post. But burnout is a real thing, especially for writers who have to hit deadline after deadline in quick succession and then wind up wanting to set their writing device on fire.
Or is that just me? Maybe it’s just me. See, I spent the last four months of 2017 pretty much glued to my computer cranking out Lady of Thorns and Red Robin and the Huntsman, plus getting work done on Cross Current. After I uploaded Red Robin to Amazon on December 15, my brain said, “Okay, you’re done for the year. No writing until January 1. I mean it.”
And Lord, the idea appealed. So I actually enjoyed my Christmas/New Year break because I wasn’t getting up and immediately chaining myself to my writing desk. I cleaned, made cookies and fruitcake, and even dug out an old afghan project that I’d started in 2013 and worked on it while watching movies and TV shows. Bliss.
But then January rolled around and I started work on my first conteporary romcom, To My Muse … and ran into a problem. I couldn’t make myself stick to working the way I had with my other still. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was writing a romcom instead of a SF/fantasy/paranormal romance. I didn’t think so because I was enjoying what I was doing, but man, I just did not want to nail my butt to a chair anymore.
At that point I remembered that I had promised my BFF’s husband that I would make him a sterling silver and turquoise bracelet in memory of his grandmother. I headed out to the garage on a relatively warm day in February and set out the things I would need to make this piece, and promptly realized that 1) I’d never bezel set a stone before, 2) I needed some twisted wire and black guilder’s wax, and 3) I also didn’t know how to rivet leather for the wristband part.
Research time. So I went off and watched videos on bezel creation and setting (Thank you, Online Jewelry Academy and Professor John Ahr!), and wound up making these for practice:
To my surprise, a friend saw the first one and insisted on buying it. I didn’t like how I’d folded over the bezel wall or set the loops on the second one, so I reset it. A friend then bought THAT one. Wow.
Confident that I now had the hang of bezel making down, I got to work on the turquoise bracelet piece. If I do say so myself, it turned out pretty well.
But THEN I thought, “Well, hey, I have this nifty piece of Picasso marble that would make a great pendant, and I should try and set that. Ooh, and I can cut out the Stark sigil in back and call it Winterfell.” So I did.
A third friend saw it and bought it. Whoa.
At this point I realized that I was looking at a ginormous Amex bill at the beginning of March because I had paid for two website renewals and a membership to a local romance con. Since I’d already sold three pendants, I thought I would keep making more and hopefully sell them so that I could pay off said Amex bill (BTW, the blue aventurine and tiger’s eye pendants are still available at my Etsy store. The etched brass pendant was my first attempt at salt water etching, and will be going to a friend’s daughter as a “magic” amulet).
Suddenly it was March and I realized I hadn’t done any serious writing since late January. And my writing brain was starting to get itchy. So I got back to work on To My Muse and started the third novella in my Esposito County Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Snarl this week, and man, that felt good.
So, yeah, sometimes I need to take a little break from the writing, especially if I’ve been pushing myself for months at a time. But I promise you, I’ll always come back to it. And I may have some pretty sparklies to offer as well.
And in case you were wondering, yes, the flu strain that’s going around this year is indeed a stone bitch. Next year I’ll get the shot, I promise.
But I’m back, and upright, and I’m even banging out words on the keyboard. That being said, I was supposed to have To My Muse finished by the 26th. Ho ho ho. So now I’m looking at 2/15 as a finishing date with a release sometime in March. Sorry about that, but it’s hard to write when you just want to stare at your bedroom ceiling and die quietly. Once Muse is done, I’ll get to work on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4). In fact, here’s the schedule for the year:
- To My Muse (contemporary romcom novel – standalone)
- King of Blades (fantasy romance novel – Two Thrones)
- Cross Current (fantasy romance novel – Olympic Cove)
- Uncertainty Principle (SF romance novel – Pacifica Rising)
- Shifter Woods: Snarl (paranormal romance novella – Esposito County Shifters)
- Shifter Woods: Scream (paranormal romance novella – Esposito County Shifters)
- Untitled holiday story (fantasy romance novella – Two Thrones)
So that’s four full-length novels and three novellas, which is pretty good output if I do say so myself. And of course there’s one half-finished novel and two that I have covers for and still have to plot out. Sleep? What means this word, sleep?
Did I mention I’m also making more jewelry? We’re talking stuff that needs to be soldered and polished — two amethyst cabs and one green turquoise one that will be made into a bracelet for my BIL. So many sparklies!
And in case anyone is wondering, making stuff is part of my writing process. I’ve learned that if I do nothing but write, I jam up and can’t get anything done. Thus, crafts. Also another income stream, which is always good.
Or me, in other words. I love writing, love my books, ADORE my readers to bits, and I’m very glad that my income is going up every year. But it’s still not what I would call a living wage, and so I subsidize my writing income with my other love — making stuff. Usually jewelry, but that also includes knitted and crocheted items, character dolls, and pretty much anything else that comes together on my workbench.
That jewelry that I usually offer on release days and FB parties? The stuff from Belaurient Arts? Yeah, that’s mine, and rather proud of it I am, too. And to ward off any complaints of, “Why are you making jewelry or knitting stuff when you should be writing?” be aware that doing this other stuff is actually part of my writing practice because while I’m beading a necklace or wire wrapping a cabochon or knitting a shawl I’m also telling myself stories to keep myself entertained, which then gets used when I sit at the keyboard.
Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah — a few days ago a friend of mine sent me a large wodge of jewelry odds and ends from his late mother’s belongings. (I love it when people do that. So far I’ve have three friends say, “I’ve got a buttload of beads and stuff that I’ll never use — you want them?” Why, yes, yes I do, thank you very much.) This particular treasure trove delivered some adorably kitschy items, one graduated bead necklace that I think is jade (it passes most of the surface tests but I’ll need to do a density test for sure), some nice 70’s style vintage earrings, and a bunch of odds and ends that have been tucked away in my racks of jewelry bits for future use. I was really, REALLY happy when I found these silver filigree clip-on earrings. Their rhinestones were long gone, but luckily my favorite rock and gem store have a very nice selection of rhinestones and I was able to reset them with capri blue square stones that look fabulous against the silver.
The other set that I was very pleased with was a pair of horn Celtic knots. They’d been wired with dull goldish beads through the knotholes, but the wire was steel and didn’t go with the warm tones of the horn at all. So I cut those off, drilled four holes in each necklace for gold eye pins (let me take a moment to thank Dremel for their awesome products which make this jewelry designer’s life a lot easier), wired up six 6mm tiger’s eye beads with fancy head pins and gold spacer beads, added those to the eye pins, hung everything on gold French ear wires, et voila — awesome earrings for people who like Celtic or tribal jewelry, natural materials, tiger’s eye, or any combination thereof. These would be perfect for someone who goes to Burning Man, I suspect.
So after putting a bunch of new pretties up at the Etsy site, I was rewarded with two sales of a combined five items, the payment for which goes into my How Nicola Is Going To Pay For RT Fund. And I still have to put a sterling silver and 14K gold tree of life pendant and a really nifty blue and bronze beaded necklace up tomorrow, as well. And then figure out where I’m going to get the stuff I need for a density test. And work on Cross Current, of course.
Speaking of the HNIGTPFRT Fund, Empress of Storms racked up a total of $514 dollars as of this evening, and if the current pattern holds true I may make $1K on it by the end of its first quarter. Not too shabby for a self-pubbed book in a genre I’d never tackled before, eh? Now if I could only sell the movie rights to Peter Jackson…