The Last Month of the Year

Ah, December. Never a hugely productive writing month for me, as other priorities take over. Many of you are all too familiar with the busy-ness of shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating, and Christmas office functions, etc.

I’m starting a week or so earlier than usual this year, and am already decorating a second Christmas tree. Our home tree was finished this weekend with my sister’s help. It’s a conglomeration of over thirty years of a mixed bag of ornaments, nearly all of which have special memories.

Coffee Table Decorations, 2019The second tree is for our front desk at work (that’s my office). Both were worked on between other tasks, but I managed to get them finished. I also decorated the coffee table in our family room, something I didn’t do when my kids were little and the house full of pets.

I’ve also started thinking about shopping. For the first time in my life, I took part in a black Friday sale by ordering one item Work-2online for my sister, which she requested. The contrarian in me doesn’t normally take part in the annual shopping hysteria displayed on TV, but this is my sister and she event sent me a photo of the item, so I dived in and ordered online.

I don’t abandon writing completely in December, as there’s a fair bit of editing to do, goals to accomplish, and deadlines to keep in mind. My jacket designer has new versions of The Blade Man’s cover for me to peruse (I’m loving their work, by the way) and there are a million other marketing tasks, but the tasks will still be there after the holidays. Because Christmas and family always come first with me, my cover reveal won’t occur until the first week in the new year, and then the tasks will really ramp up. Stay tuned!

Part of all the busy-ness this past weekend was fun stuff, like doing some wine tasting and picking up our case of wine from the Township7 Winery in Langley. Later we took the SkyTrain to LaFarge Lake to see the incredibly beautiful lights all around the lake. It was my first time seeing the display and it was simply wonderful.

From now until Christmas, my writing pattern changes. There will be a little bit of editing every morning (which is when I work best), the day job, then Christmas preparations until the big day arrives, and of course other chores and errands. My family isn’t large, so shopping isn’t too bad. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to fit a little more writing time in than I thought. Or maybe I’ll just sit quietly and contemplate new ideas and opportunities that have been springing up.

Christmas Greetings

sheikh-tuhin-Christmas[1]I took a close look at my calendar this week and nearly fell out of my chair. Christmas is less than a week away. The busy-ness of holiday preparations along with the usual chores and responsibilities means that I often lose track of time. I’m sure many of you can relate.

I don’t do as much Christmas preparation as I used to. My kids (30 & 24) decided a while ago that they were too old for gingerbread-cookie making and stockings. These days, my mother is the one who needs assistance with organizing, purchasing, and wrapping presents, although that’s not much extra work.

My son’s coming home from Calgary for Christmas and I’m delighted to be serving a dinner for ten people, a little larger group than normal, but hey, I got this. I’ve been cooking turkey dinners with all the trimmings for quite some time.

Next year, my daughter will be moving into her new house, and she wants to take over the cooking tradition. Having never cooked a Christmas dinner before, and planning to host fifteen people will definitely require a little help.

I want to take this moment to say Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! I wish you a joyful, happy Christmas with good food and good company. The older I get the more I value family time, and especially this day of celebration to acknowledge all that has brought us together.

Switching This World With That One

thinking-writing[1]Many writers who celebrate Christmas probably find December the busiest, most stressful time of the year. I know I do. It’s not that I don’t love Christmas and spending time with friends and family. It’s all the work that leads up to it while trying to balance the day job, and family responsibilities with writing time.

It’s especially challenging for writers with younger kids and/or aging parents, who depend on us to do their Christmas shopping and wrapping, and for those of us who also step up bookselling opportunities.

This year, I find myself preparing for Christmas while editing my first fantasy novel. The novel focuses on Wicca, witches and the proverbial battle between good and evil. Divided into five sections, the one I’m working on takes place in York, England in 1953, a drastic contrast to my real life.

Having written nine mysteries set here in Vancouver and in current time, I’m used to editing in familiar surroundings that deal with real-life types of crime. So it’s a little strange to switch from craft fair bookselling, tree decorating and other chores to writing about spellcasting and run-a-muck serpents. It’s also rather fun.

Although I’m living in two different worlds these days, I usually manage to find myself fully engaged in both. With a lot of practice and not a lot of writing time, I’ve learned to switch gears fast. Within sixty seconds of sitting down and propping my fingertips over the keyboard, real-life tasks fall away and my fictional world takes over.

To be honest, I don’t want to live in a fictional world full time, especially one that deals with the death and destruction that comes from my imagination. From 2010 to 2013, I did write full time, and I’m grateful for those days because the extra time helped me finish projects. I have to admit, though, that I only wrote a couple more hours per day than I had while doing a day job. After writing full time for a year, I missed daily interaction with the real world, not to mention the steady income, and the challenge of writing efficiently while getting everything else done.

For me, it’s not about having more time to write, it’s about making the best use of the time I do have. It’s about quick switches and ensuring that one world doesn’t overwhelm the other, and somehow it works for me.

How Are Those Christmas Preps Coming?

pink LED christmas treesAs Christmas draws nearer, life once again becomes more frantic than ever. It shouldn’t be that hard for me. I’ve been doing this for many years and pretty much have a system in place. Also, my kids are grown and as they said a couple of years ago, “Mom, we really don’t need stocking stuffers anymore.”

But every year has its own challenges. Last year was far more snow than we Vancouverites anticipated, which made getting around difficult and dangerous at times. This year, is the reality that my mother can no longer organize and buy gifts, or remember if she sent Christmas cards. I took on that responsibility by shopping, wrapping, and mailing the sealed cards I found tucked in a drawer.

Christmas preparation isn’t really a challenge by itself. It’s preparing while maintaining the day job, chores, appointments, and other obligations. Slowly, it’s coming together. As I write this, I’ve just finished the last of my shopping, and now there is only wrapping left. I’ve been spared menu preparation this year, as my sister is hosting Christmas dinner.

Of course, there is that bright silver lining. A Christmas Day filled with fun and family and great food and, of course, wine… And then there’s the blissful day after when all is quiet and there are no errands or appointments or chores.

Kudos to all of you who are plowing your way through the Christmas preps. This is my last blog before Christmas, so I wish all who celebrate a very Merry Christmas!!

Oh, and my publisher won’t be happy if I don’t plug the sale of my two Evan Dunstan mystery novellas, so…

On sale for $.99 US, DEAD MAN FLOATING and A TOXIC CRAFT. Looking for a quick, fun mystery? Then meet campus security guard Evan Dunstan. One wrong decision, One friend in trouble, One mystery to solve myBook.to/DEADMANFLOATING

In A TOXIC CRAFT, what happens when things get a little crazy, a little sordid, and a little bit violent at seniors’ Christmas craft fair? Find out in Evan Dunstan’s 2nd mystery, A TOXIC CRAFT. http://getBook.at/AToxicCraft