New Year, New Writing Focus

I was doing soooooooooo well with blogging this summer. I had a great pace of almost one a week. Then . . .

Life happened.

Writing life.

As a stay-at-home mom, I only have four afternoons a week to write. From noon until 3:10, Mondays through Thursdays, I write, edit, research, outline, format, tend to social media, market, and blog.

Twelve hours a week. Not much time to get everything done, so the blog suffered.

I know, I know. You’re supposed to write every day without fail. You’re supposed to set time aside every day. If you think you don’t have time, you’re just not making time. Even writers who are raising families can find time after the kids are in bed or waking an hour early.

If you can’t carve out enough writing time every day to handle everything, you’re just not dedicated enough. You don’t want it enough.

I’ve heard that from the “experts,” many times, and trust me, I’ve felt my share of writer’s non-productivity guilt. But the thing is, kids are only little once. And when I’ve planned to write for an hour on a Saturday while my husband takes the kids ice skating, but then my daughter (who is a strong-willed eight-year-old-going-on-sixteen) says, “Please, Mom, come ice skating with us. I want you to go, too,” I have options to weigh.

Someday (not too long from now, I fear) she won’t be caught dead ice skating at the local outdoor rink with me, but my stories will still be waiting. She might want to go with friends instead, but my novels won’t care if I’m embarrassing to be around, and I’ll have all the time in the world then (not really–I know life gets busier and busier, but I’m in denial).

And when the sweetest little guy in the world comes up to me with that too-cute grin and says, “Mommy, play with me,” the book on marketing I’m reading has to find a bookmark. He’ll be in school full-time next fall, and my Kindle will still know which page I’ve left off on.

Evenings are for my husband. We have an unspoken rule that work stops when the kids are in bed (there are the few rare exceptions . . . when midnight brings the end of an amazingly good print sale and I have photos to finish or the night before his semester grades are due for the next day). We spend time together, talking, cooking, playing cribbage. Okay, mostly watching TV. But it’s still time spent together, and I think this is part of what has made our marriage stronger while other couples who let romance fall by the wayside of work and parenting drift apart from each other.

So I have 12 hours a week. Twelve hours for writing and everything related to it. Those hours often get interrupted by vacations (November and December, I’m looking at you!), snow days, field trips, photo shoots, and doctors appointments/sick days.

I’d love to be one of those people who blogs every week. But that’s not where I’m at in life right now. Twelve hours a week. Sorry, blog, I’ve neglected you. 😦 I’d say I’ll try to do better, but I have a story bible to work on, storyboard to play with, book promo to plan, and, oh yeah, a novel to write.

Yes, the blogging has fallen by the wayside. But I’d like to share what I HAVE gotten done this fall.

  • I reformatted the Kindle version of my ebooks. They now have a table of contents and chapters you can jump to with a quick tap of a touchscreen as well as hyperlinks that take you to other books in the series.Evolution of covers
  • I created new covers for the ebook versions. The old covers were made from templates and not conducive to thumbnail viewing. The new ones are brighter, the pictures bigger, and the fonts bolder.
  • I redesigned my web site. My new love of photography has given me more visual graphics/pictures to work with and a better eye for design. I hope you’ll visit it and let me know what you think, even if you’ve been there before: Jenifer Brady’s author website
  • I started a mailing list. If you want to keep up-to-date with Camp Spirit happenings, check it out and sign up. When you register, your confirmation screen and email will give you a link to some fun Camp Spirit online freebies. (a learn-to-gimp video, a Super Counselors photo shoot sneak peek, and a teen magazine parody aimed at camp counselors). Don’t worry about being overwhelmed with emails from me if you sign up. I don’t have time to overwhelm you! There will only be a couple of emails a year, when I have something exciting to share like a book release.STCCCoverebook
  • I released Save the Craft Cabin (Volume 6 of Abby’s Camp Days). Technically, the release was August 30, so not during fall or my 12 hours a week writing time. But I wanted to add more to the list to seem productive. I’ve been told it’s the best of the series by a few people, which is awesome to hear!
  • A friend and I started a camp alumni association for the real camp we love, which involved setting up an online form collection site for alumni to enter their current info and stay in contact with camp and camp people. I know that’s not writing-related, but it took up some of (okay, many of) my 12 hours a week. Plus, some readers only subscribe to this blog for the camp stuff, so hopefully this paragraph makes you campies feel as if you haven’t completely wasted your time reading this post.
  • I created and scheduled several picture/meme/quote posts for social

    I meant to post a funny one, but then I found this one.

    media. Hopefully, they will give loyal readers blasts from the pasts of some of their favorite Abby’s Camp Days quotes and pique the interest of new readers.

  • I worked on my new book, the first non-camp related book I’ve attempted since 1997. It’s a fantasy spanning 50 years and written in third person rather than a middle grade/young adult book that takes place over one week or one summer and written in first person, so it’s been quite an adjustment.
  • I dove into world building, doing things like creating a culture and magic system and drawing maps. Yes, I drew something. And it didn’t turn out half bad. I know you probably don’t believe me if you’ve ever seen any of my illustrations before, but it’s true. I swear.
  • I discovered that a story of these proportions is much more difficult to write than my camp books, so I’ve had to study storyboarding, plotting, characterization, and third person voice.
  • I realized that I was feeling blocked with my book because I was overwhelmed and needed a story bible and storyboard. I started both a couple of weeks ago, and the story bible is at 102 pages and the color-coded (by viewpoint character) storyboard is at 158 slides (it’s probably a third done).
  • I realized by the span of my story bible and storyboard that this would not be one book. I was getting that impression a while back when I found myself 585 pages into the story and only about half of my scenes checked off on my outline. At that point I decided to go with a trilogy, but now as I’m expanding, storyboarding and discovering more about my characters, their world, and its story, it’s becoming apparent that I’m really only about a quarter done at 615 pages, so now I’m thinking it will be more than a trilogy. Not sure how many books it will be broken into, but it’s one continuous story, so my plan is to finish writing a first draft and then figure it out.
  • I started researching, taking notes on, and planning a free promo week that will come probably at the end of February if I stay on track.

Wow, I feel so much better about my 12 hours a week now that I see on screen what I managed to accomplish. My hope is to finish my story bible and storyboards in January/February and then get to work writing the books this spring and summer. I’d love to get it all done in 2015, but I know that’s a lofty goal.

It’s a New Year, and I’ll be focusing full time on my new writing project, rather than splitting time between the fantasy and Abby’s Camp Days like I did last year. It’s quite a departure from Camp Spirit and I can’t devote as much time as I’d like to it, but I’ll do what I can in the limited time God’s blessed me with. I can’t neglect those other blessings He’s given me either.

Starting tomorrow, I plan to make the most of those 12 hours a week and make as much progress on the book (series) as possible.

Oh, wait. . . . There’s a possibility of school being called off tomorrow for snow/cold. I guess it’ll be a 9 hour week. Such is life as a stay-at-home mom-photographer-summer-camp-volunteer-indie-author.


3 thoughts on “New Year, New Writing Focus

  1. I’m so impressed/ inspired by you! Of course I’m in awe of your talent and dedication to your writing (all forms) but what I appreciate most is your unapologetic dedication to your family. You’re right, priorities are important, and the fact that you clearly have yours in check is really wonderful to see.
    ps. Santa forgot that I asked for some of your books for Christmas (Santa had a very busy year, I understood, haha) but I’m still looking forward to checking them out, I’ve already put in my request for the next holiday. 🙂
    Cheers, and happy writing/ mommying/ camping/ etc.


    • That is SO nice of you to say! 🙂 Your kind words made my day. Life is a balancing act, and it’s hard to keep the priorities in the right order, that’s for sure! I hope you enjoy the books whenever you get them. Let me know what you think when you’ve had a chance to check them out. Thanks again! Camp people are the best.

      Liked by 1 person

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