Monday, May 31, 2010

Type A Personalities and Frustration

Last night I finally looked up Type A personality traits.  I have always known I am something of a perfectionist, I like routine and schedules and planning and get great satisfaction from checking items off of my to-do list.

But I've been frustrated lately.  There just hasn't been enough of me to go around.  It's a horrible feeling, and I've taken it out on my family some too.  I have a short fuse when I'm tired, and I've been tired a lot lately.

So, I thought hey, I'll look up Type A personality traits.  It was kind of a...am I really? Will it explain why I've been struggling so much?

Well, in a word, DUH.

I did some reading but the first place I clicked was about.com and found this.  I've highlighted the bits that are particularly pertinent to yours truly.

Type A characterized by:

•Time Urgency and Impatience, as demonstrated by people who, among other things, get frustrated while waiting in line, interrupt others often, walk or talk at a rapid pace, and are always painfully aware of the time and how little of it they have to spare.


•Free-Floating Hostility or Aggressiveness, which shows up as impatience, rudeness, being easily upset over small things, or ‘having a short fuse’, for example.

Additionally, Type A behavior often includes:

•Competitiveness

•Strong Achievement-Orientation

•Certain Physical Characteristics That Result From Stress and Type A Behavior Over Years
 
Physical Characteristics:


The following physical characteristics often accompany TAB:

•Facial Tension (Tight Lips, Clenched Jaw, Etc.)

•Tongue Clicking or Teeth Grinding

•Dark Circles Under Eyes

•Facial Sweating (On Forehead or Upper Lip)
 
I realized that I am very much a results based achiever.  I see things that need to be done and unless they are completed, I have failed.  It is why I struggle with time management - I get frustrated because I've made my list and planned things out and yet - still not done.  So when I'm trying to keep up with the house and the kids and the yard and promotion and WRITING - I often feel like I've failed because while I succeed at one, two, three, or even four things (on a good day), if ONE has slipped, I haven't gotten the results I wanted. 
 
It's not that type A is all bad.  Drive and ambition are good things.  Hard work is a good thing. If I weren't so stubborn, I would have given up on a lot of things long ago, and I'm so glad I didn't.  And I DO know how to relax.  I love to relax.  It is why I do not work evenings or weekends unless absolutely necessary - and let me tell you, absolutely necessary means my editor tells me it's an emergency and she needs it by Monday full stop.  I enjoy a glass of wine, a bath, a walk in the sunset, a cup of tea on the deck.  I do not take work on vacation. 
 
There are also times I can let things go.  If it doesn't get done, the world isn't going to end.  But eventually that doesn't work anymore and the frustration mounts and I get tired and short tempered and overwhelmed.
 
Have you ever noticed how your partner can drive you crazy because you are like yin and yang?  There's a reason for that.  It's called balance.  If I'm the high strung crazy lady with the never ending to-do list that blows her top, my dh is the low key, work through it and keep it in kind of guy.  Yeah, that might drive me crazy sometimes but he keeps me balanced.  And he's been away a lot lately for work, and I think a big part of my frustration is that he's not been here to keep me balanced.  Yes, I've missed the helping hands.  But more than that, I've missed the person sitting next to me on the couch in the evenings, or his face across the table at dinner, or the snuggle at the end of the day before I go to sleep.  The to-do list doesn't matter then.
 
This weekend showed me I reached the point where I really need to chill out.  Not sure how well I'm going to do with it, because I still have a huge list.  Sometimes I just forget that it's okay to just do the best I can and give myself a break.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chunk Writing and results

Yesterday I posted at the PHS about chunk writing, and how it's helped me keep my word count going and my life in order recently.  With a long to-do list, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.  But with chunk writing, I'm managing just over 2k a day on the WIP, AND I'm mostly staying on top of my "chore" list.  This week alone, I had a holiday Monday, volunteering yesterday, and a field trip tomorrow.  Not to mention yard work and housework, opening the pool and running kids around. Thankfully this is the last of the school volunteering for the year AND this week sees the end of sports involvement.  I think next week will be a complete revelation!

I'm liking this story though, in fact my chapter three this morning ended up needing a scene (which I suspected, but wasn't sure what needed to be there).  After talking to my CP I realized what it needed and it helped a lot, especially in bringing out motivational threads.  That meant the final scene of three got moved to four, the four pages of four I had got expanded to about eight - and voila! Chapters 3 and 4 done, until I go back and really tweak them again at the end. I ended up with 2900 words added today...not quite sure how that happened as I did it in only 3 chunks, but that's the funny thing with revising and adding.  It seems to add up quite fast sometimes.

Anyway, I feel good about it and I'm looking forward to moving on with chapter five tomorrow.

In other news, I finally got a new bottle of anti-frizz cream, and my hair looks like it is SUPPOSED to look now.  It is nice when the curls look like curls and not balls of fuzz.

Right now the burning question is: clean the upstairs or do the weeding?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pink Heart Picks and Long Weekends

We returned last night from a long weekend at my mom's.  I ate wayyy too much as usual, including lots of rhubarb, got a lot of sun as it was 30 degrees C and higher all weekend (the thermometer at my inlaws said 37.5 yesterday afternoon - phew!) and came back to a crazy week of volunteering (the last week for the school year), the end of extra curricular sports for the school year, a pool that needs straightening out, a yard that needs weeding and mowing, no groceries, and a lot of dust as the house didn't get cleaned on the weekend.  Oh yes - and my book to work on, and that has to come FIRST before the rest.

But I also got to read a great book and review it:

Today is Pink Heart Picks book club day and this month I read and reviewed MORE THAN WORDS 6, the latest antho in the More Than Words endeavour by Harlequin. You can check out the review here. What a fantastic program and project. While I normally read and review category books for the Pink Heart Picks, I made an exception for this one. I'm glad I did.


Next month we're reading The Surgeon's Miracle (Medicals) by Caroline Anderson. For North American readers, you can order it from amazon or here at eharlequin or download it as an e-book - I'm planning on putting it on my Sony. :-)

Now I'm off to finish the last of my "odd jobs" before getting a chunk of writing done, then groceries, then another chunk, and so on. 

Catch you on the flip side!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Author copies and girliness

Yesterday the mail man brought the author copies of Mediterranean Men and Marriage.  It is very thick and very pretty!  The cover is lovely anyway, but the spine and back cover are a gorgeous dark purpley-blue.  It is out in July and the other authors in the antho are Carol Grace and Raye Morgan.  It's particularly exciting for me as it is my first reprint.  :-)

Today I'm feeling rather girly.  I FINALLY had my hair cut!  It is so much lighter and swingy!  It needed a good shearing desperately and my esthetician friend suggested a new hairstylist (since our old one is on mat leave) and I am very pleased with the results.  I have very thick hair, so getting rid of the weight is key.

And speaking of getting rid of the weight - another few pounds have dropped off, so it's slowly but surely.  It'll soon be workout time again.  And if the rain holds off - an extra dog walk to make up for the delicious homemade samosa I had at the coffee shop outside the hairdressers.  It was the smell that drew me in.  The whole floor smelled SO delicious.

Now it is back to the wip.  I am enjoying it so far, and trying to keep my internal editor fairly quiet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Brenda Novak's Auction

Just a reminder that Brenda Novak's annual auction to support Diabetes research is going on ALL MONTH.  There are SO MANY awesome things to bid on!  Books, jewelry, trips...and for writers there are critiques, workshops, agent and editor evaluations...




This year the Pink Heart Society editors donated a tote bag with signed copies of our recent releases inside:

Compromising Positions by Jenna Bayley-Burke
Compromising Miss Milton and Sold and Seduced by Michelle Styles
And the Larch Valley Duet - One Dance With The Cowboy and Her Lone Cowboy from yours truly.

To bid, go HERE.


I also put in my own donation:  Donna Alward tote bag, mouse pad, T-shirt, notebook and pen, sticky notes, magnets, bookmark, keychain, and a signed copy of Hired: The Italian’s Bride.  To bid on that item, go HERE.



And to look at ALL the offerings, here's the auction main page.

Go ahead and shop.  You know you want to.  And support a great cause.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Making the sacrifice

I fell into a lot of pitfalls with Under Argentine Skies (or whatever it ends up being titled, when - fingers crossed - it's accepted).  Part of it was the adventure of writing about a foreign location and getting caught up in the research.  Argentina is a huge country with distinct regions, all with different landscapes and cultures and allures.  It was so exciting and too hard to focus on just one.  So I narrowed it SOME but I still kept it too varied.  I tried to show too much of the setting and as a result it overshadowed character so that I was missing some of the depth I needed.  When I did my rewrites, I had to pare back even more.  It hurt.  But I'm okay, because I really really feel that in the end it was a much stronger story for it.

What did I have to cut out?

The Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, both in the evening and then at the end.  I loved looking at the pictures and reading about Los Desaparecidos during The Dirty War.  The flavour of Buenos Aires streets, the sounds of the tango and the Euro meets South America architecture.

Speaking of tango - I had to cut out a tango scene in a dimly-lit club.  I did love that scene.  The I love you I hate you passion, the way their bodies brushed, the will they or won't they question...gone.

And in that scene...this dress.

And these shoes.

:-(

I had to cut out the private jet and champagne.

What did I get to add, though?

A deeper insight into Sophia and Tomas.  A deeper exploration of the pampas and the estancia where Sophia stayed during her trip.  A longer trip in the rainforests of Iguazu Falls, and a lot of magic.

In other words, depth.

So yeah, it was worth it.

I'm working on my next Romance which is back on good old Canadian soil again.  The next few weeks are crucial, so I'm going to be working very hard.  But I have some ideas to strengthen what started out as The Rancher's Ready Made Family.  And I'm hoping a little of that magic - or fairy dust - that sprinkled over the end of UAS makes its way to TRRMF as well.  :-)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A rising star....

Our local writing chapter is all abuzz these days.  We have some really prolific members and so there's usually good news floating around.  But I want to introduce you to one particular member today who has her debut hitting the shelves in a few weeks.  And I seriously think with all the developments - it seems there is something new each day - the poor girl is going to hyperventilate and simply pass out at some point.

Meet Pamela Callow.

Pam writes thrillers and this is her debut, DAMAGED, coming from MIRA.  Pam's writing is a lot like Pam, actually.  Smart, polished, and accessible.  I got a chance to read some teaser chapters and I can tell you it's going to launch her career into superstardom.  Her editors think so too, since they've bought and contracted more books from her!

The reviews coming in are AMAZING.  Check out her site and see what reviewers and other authors are saying.

And then, take a look at the trailer Harlequin put up on YouTube.  Tell me you don't want to read THAT.


I can't wait to get my copy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

GONE

My revisions are done and gone, hopefully much improved over the last version.  These are the biggest revisions I've done and I hope I've learned something. :-)  Now it is back to The Rancher's Ready Made Family...in some ways starting all over as I've changed hero casting and so I'm going back to the beginning to refamiliarize and revise before I continue adding to the current story.

Samhain is starting a new newsletter! Rumour has it that it will focus on new and upcoming releases in both print and ebook, and there will also be contests and free downloads.  To sign up, just click here

And now...I have clothes on the line, a lawn to mow and several body parts to cut out of felt and foam for spring concert costumes. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Calling Maggie Short

Maggie Short - I've scoured my e-mail and can't find info of when you won a book - but you did, and something went wrong and it was returned to me today.

If you see this, can you e-mail me at donna alward at hotmail dot com (no spaces, appropriate symbols) with your correct mailing address so I can resend?

Foreign Editions

I love when I know that foreign editions are coming out.  It's cool to see titles in other languages, and see what covers I get, and to know that I have a chance to reach a whole different readership.

This month, One Dance With The Cowboy is out in Spain, and also in Italy - with two vastly different covers (the Spanish one has the North American cover, the Italian has a couple dancing but it's a dress and suit kind of thing rather than a barn dance).  The Rancher's Runaway Princess is on sale at the Spanish site in the Ultimas Oportunidades section.

Falling for Mr. Dark and Dangerous is also out in Poland and the Czech Republic - where I am Donna Alwardova which tickles me to death.  I'm with Marion Lennox there and it's her cover on the duo, which is gorgeous.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Our weekend has been interesting...the dh running back and forth to work which doesn't usually happen.  The eldest had a birthday party/sleepover (not much sleeping) and just got home, so this morning was more of a non-event.  But I did the household chores and laundry Friday and Saturday and cleaned up from our dinner and card night with neighbours last night, so my day is pretty lax.  I'm STILL full from dinner last night.  We started with appies - the dh did some chicken wings and we had local cheese and some crackers and I did sausage stuffed mushrooms (which are sooooo delicious).  Dinner was pork loin done on the rotisserie, carrots and turnip with dill, dressed up potatoes and fiddleheads - with fresh Strawberry Rhubarb pie for dessert.  A few drinks and cards afterwards made for a fun evening.

Now that the eldest is home, I got my homemade Mother's Day prezzies.  The girls made a poster with words that describe me, made cards from the pets and then did a booklet about Mom - including letters from them about their fave things like our girlie movie nights, girlie shopping trips, and secret recipes.  Eldest wrote a free-form poem and the youngest did an acrostic poem for MAMA.  They put a lot of work into it so it is LOVELY!  And just the kind of prezzies I like.  I got my e-reader not long ago and so Mother's Day was more low-key.  Plus we planted a flowering crab yesterday and it looks lovely.  The neighbour brought over his tractor to pull out the old stump and the boys planted the tree, replanted my hostas and put my rock circle back around. 

Now I'm off to finish reading a book and it wouldn't surprise me if I snuck a nap this afternoon.  :-)

Friday, May 07, 2010

For your entertainment...

Today is mental, manic, you name it.  And I'm SO close to the end I can taste it.  So I'm going to keep this short.

I'm over at The Pink Heart Society for Must Watch Friday talking about Spartacus: Blood and Sand.  Since I've cast Andy Whitfield as the hero of The Rancher's Ready-Made Family, I'm dying to get back to the book...hopefully next week.

And I'm at the Samhain Blog today (it should be up 9 a.m. EST) talking about the Sisterhood and why so few of us indulge in professional jealousy - and why Romance writers rock.

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Readin' and Watchin'

Haven't done a Reel Review or Book Blog post for a while, so I thought I'd catch you up on those.

The latest movie we watched was Sherlock Holmes and I loved it, though I wish we could have had more of the romantic relationship.  Still, it was nice that we could watch it with the girls who thought Jude Law particularly funny.  Robert Downey Jr. is so great. I love how he brings such complexity to his characters.  Even when he's a total smart ass, there's this undertone of sadness or loneliness that you can't help but see.  We popped some popcorn and had a right good time.

And then there's the 2 Sharpe movies that were on Masterpiece Classic this season - Sharpe's Challenge and Sharpe's Peril, both set in India.  Nothing is more satisfying than seeing Sharpe kiss the girl and then ride off to the tune of Over The Hills and Far Away - cue electric guitar.  The girls were like...that guitar is cheesy. But after watching ALL of the Sharpe movies, I countered with - no, it's classic and can't end any other way.  I was so glad that they kept the original Harper too, as it wouldn't have been the same without him.

And yesterday I actually went to the movies!  I saw GUNLESS with Julianne MacLean, who is a huge fan of Paul Gross.  It was a western/comedy with a Canadian twist.  A shame Graham Greene didn't have a bigger part as he is always wonderful.  Callum Keith Rennie was scrummy and it takes a certain kind of man to pull off a purple silk blouse with a gun belt, but Paul Gross managed just fine.  Happy sigh.

Books!  I am right on track with my reading goals for the year (which is 100 books).  Since the last time I did a reading roundup, I've read:

In My Wildest Fantasies, The Mistress Diaries, and When A Stranger Loves Me by Julianne MacLean - wonderful trilogy! Can't wait for her new books!

Adopted: Outback Baby by Barbara Hannay - Barb never disappoints, and she writes the best settings.

The Inconvenient Bride,  Anne McAllister - an oldie of Anne's but lovely with a great twist at the end.

A Mother's Wedding Day  -Rebecca Winters and her daughter, Dominique Burton - this was the Pink Heart Picks book club selection for April.

Just Breathe - Susan Wiggs   Am lovin' the women's fiction right now.

Oh-So-Sensible Secretary by Jessica Hart - brilliantly written first person - guaranteed laughs and a sniffle too.

An Acceptable Time - Madeleine L'Engle - we finished up the Time Quintet

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas - John Boyne - innocent and creepy all at once, while I had some POV issues with it, it is a story with impact.

The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith.  Brilliant writing.  Just brilliant and satisfying.

Housekeeper's Happy-Ever-After - Fiona Harper - Fi's latest, complete with a damaged heroine, sexy hero, and a great ending.

Right now I'm reading The Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon.

Now off to whip chapter nine into better shape - and get going on chapter 10.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Lightbulbs

On Sunday, our RWA chapter had its meeting and Julianne MacLean did a workshop on The Power of the Rewrite.  It was fab.  I came away feeling like perhaps she hadn't "fixed" my current mess in progress, but she helped me understand WHY it hadn't worked and so hopefully I can avoid that in the future.

My CP is also incredibly lovely and sent me a prezzie - a copy of The Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon.  I'm only a bit of the way in, but already it is echoing some of what Julianne spoke of and so I think I might be on to something.

THEN I opened up my latest chapter to revise (again) and it was like someone turned on a switch, backlighting all the weak spots.  And that is way cool.  Suddenly I SEE things.  And I understand WHY, more importantly.  When I sent a quick note to my CP, I am sure she laughed her butt off.  Because she tried to tell me and I just couldn't get it and I was getting SO frustrated.  It just goes to show that sometimes it just takes as long as it takes for the light to go on.  I was feeling a lot of pressure  - thinking I should KNOW things after doing this for so long.  I mean I'm no veteran but I'm in my fifth year of writing for publication and this is...book 15 I think?

Now I feel better because I know I will probably make the same mistakes in rough draft form but hopefully will be smart enough to fix them.  To apply what I've clued into.  And I still have the majority of the Manuscript Makeover to get through.

And it is infinitely easier to see it in someone else's work and not your own.

Monday, May 03, 2010

It's a new month!

Omgracious, where did April go?  I'm convinced it's The Lost Month.  But apparently I survived it because here we are in May!

And of course the beginning of the month means my admin blitz, so here goes:

The winner of April's contest for a copy of Sold To The Highest Bidder goes to Linda Bass!  Congrats Linda!  I've sent you an e-mail.

My newsletter will be going out this morning and I'm hoping to get my site updated too - not a whole lot of new news as I'm really just working away on finishing revisions of the Argentina book and then moving on to The Rancher's Ready-Made Family.  Revising UAS has given me several lightbulbs about the next book so I'm actually quite looking forward to getting into it again.

And one more thing going on in April - I'm taking part in the Brenda Novak Auction for Diabetes Research.  My offerings are under the Pink Heart Society umbrella - so you can find them HERE - but there are so many great things up for bidding that it's a reader and writer's paradise.  And it's for such a great cause.  Brenda is an incredible woman and it's an honour to help out even just the tiniest bit.  There's a goody bag from me with all sorts of fun stuff - and also the Cowboys and Confetti duet is included in the Pink Heart Society Editor Tote, along with titles from the other PHS editors, Jenna Bayley-Burke and Michelle Styles.