Monday, December 15, 2014

I've Moved...

View from the Crystal Ball has moved. You can find new content at


It's weird to have my own website and not live on blogger anymore. We had a good run - over ten thousand site hits over the years thanks to all my fabulous readers. I moved my archives to the new site so you can still search all the old posts, etc.

I'll see you there! (And if I can ever figure out the voodoo of automatic redirection, I'll get that working for everyone's convenience.)

New and exciting adventures await...

Monday, December 8, 2014

The evolution of November

December is here and with it came the end of this year's NaNoWriMo. So many things have changed for me this year. The drastic shift started back in February when I decided to start actively pursuing this insanity called publication. So I shouldn't be surprised that NaNoWriMo and the part it plays in my writing has also changed. This year I'm not working on a new story, I'm revising an old one so I can sell it soon. That's the plan anyway. Even knowing that's where I'm at, I still feel guilty that I didn't "win" this year. That's how much a part of me this silly thing I do every November has become.

What did I do in November INSTEAD of finishing NaNo? Lots of things...

I'm working with some amazing authors to create a non-profit organization for writers with a community and collaborative focus rather than book sales. A professional organization for writers like no one has ever created before that gives back to members at all levels as well as the public at large. It's super fun but part of me wonders why I gravitate to being in charge of things rather than just being a participant. Not in my nature apparently. It doesn't feel like work, but if you add up all the time I have put into it, I've done quite a lot the last month toward this collective vision that we hope will be amazing.

I submitted a short story to a very prestigious writing contest for as-yet unpublished authors. Wait, I know I've been hinting at publication news for a while now but I still don't have a signed contract to purchase my story. It is slotted for a short-story collection due out next year but until the deal is done and signed I'm not talking about it as a past-tense reality. Doesn't mean I'm not super excited about it, I just don't want to jinx it. Yes, deep down I'm a neurotic writer. See? This contest comes with cash prizes for the winners and some pretty impressive writing credentials if I'm a finalist - including publication. But I won't know until months from now. And we all know how impatient I am. Luckily I have things to take my mind off the waiting. This was one of my specific goals for this year so checking it off my list was a pretty significant milestone for me.

Because I do have a pending deal, I must have a "real" website with a URL that doesn't include "blogspot" or any of the other free sites. In other words, I have to get legit. So in all my free time (ha!) I'm building a website to migrate my blog to. Don't worry, you'll be able to follow me when I go and, if everything works out the way I hope, all my past content will come with me. We'll see when I get to that point. Building websites is not a job I want - full time or part time. It kind of sucks. I'm really good at what I know and having to start over with an associated learning curve is frustrating.

Because I have to get legit, I had to get professional head-shots taken so I can use them everywhere people expect. Prompted by a deadline for said pending publication deal, I had to get them done ASAP. Imagine my horror when I found out you can't use your smartphone to take a selfie and use that. I was a photographer in a past life before I started writing and I'm better behind the camera than in front of it. However, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. It helps to have a long-standing relationship with a photographer you trust... Voila! Big hair to match my big personality.


Hubby said the other day, when I was apologizing for all the time I've spent away from normal family life lately, that it was to be expected since "writing isn't a hobby anymore". Imagine that. My hobby isn't a hobby anymore, it's a business that will someday pay off. I have no delusions of ever replacing the lucrative income from my corporate job but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

I let a beta reader take a gander at my story that's getting ready for public appearance. She immediately started drilling me about the world I'd built and characters I'd created that had already become real to her. She needed answers and she needed them now. Guess I better get cracking on THAT novel soon, too.There are now more stories and novels in the pipeline than I ever thought possible.

When I look back at where NaNoWriMo has taken me, I'm okay with my Novembers evolving into something different. Maybe next year I'll be in the first draft arena of another story so I can participate. If not, at least I'll still be writing!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why you can't "do" NaNoWriMo if you are revising - my latest epiphany

Remember when I said I wasn't going to do NaNoWriMo this year? And then I decided I was a big fat liar since I was going to do it but bend the rules and not write something new? I'm here to tell you it wasn't a good idea. When I'm drafting a brand new story, I can bust out a couple of thousand words a day and finish while still having a life - or whatever my life usually resembles. Revisions are not the same as vomiting a story from your subconscious with the motto running through your head of "Write First, Ask Questions Later".

I've written consistently this month - six days a week with the exception of the two days I was too sick to stay awake that long. But I only have 20,000 words to show for it. So what the hell is happening?

Revisions are FAR different from first drafts. I delete more words than I write because I'm focused on quality rather than sheer quantity. I'm trying to write coherent scenes that tie together and take my characters from where they are to where I know they are headed. The place they must be headed if the story is to remain consistent. And entertaining. And marketable. And entertaining. You get the point. So while I've been consistent, I'm only averaging about eight hundred words a day.

I started out the week feeling dejected as I saw everyone I know near the finish line. I felt stressed that the goal of "winning" with 50,000 words was slipping further and further from my grasp as this week continues with more of the same productivity. But then I remembered that my personal goal this year is very different. I'm still on track for that goal which is the only thing that's important.

I will "win" when I finish this revision by the end of December. Oh, and submit a short story to a writing contest. Because why not? I've had the idea knocking around in the back of my mind and recent events make it possible to do it without treading into murky "it can't be published yet" waters. (First rule of publishing: release deadlines never stick!)

It is uncharted territory I'm exploring. The path to figuring out exactly how to write a novel was long and fraught with hardship. Now I'm on what I've declared as the path to getting published. I fear it will be just as difficult and just as fraught with obstacles. But damn it's exciting to be here!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Halfway there check-in

What is it with November? Do I get sick every year coincidentally or is it a side-effect of NaNoWriMo? It is week three and I'm behind because week two - the dreaded week two - had me sick and unmotivated. Week one went splendidly and I was on track for the minimum recommended word count. Week two, I penned in the couple of hundred of words a day range instead of the thousands that I needed - if I wrote at all. Now I'm thousands of words behind.

I could wallow but the real goal is to revise this novel so I'm focusing on the fact that I've written seventeen thousand words toward that. I'm still plugging along and loving this revision process. I know exactly what the ending looks like, and exactly what I need to be writing toward from the beginning. I know what needs to be foreshadowed, and what motivates my characters. Most of them, anyway. About half of what I've written is brand new stuff because I added supernatural elements and changed the story in fundamental ways. It's been fun, even if it's been exhausting. I could definitely get used to this revision thing thanks to having a fabulous developmental editor I can employ as soon as the first draft is written.

See you on the flip side of November... win or lose I'm sure to be sleep deprived and highly caffeinated but loving every minute.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Challenge Micro-fiction

The challenge: write a story in 250 words or less. Challenge accepted! If you want to read more free stories from local authors who also accepted, check it out HERE, sponsored by Utah Fantasy Authors.

"Little Red"

My body jerked awake, the doorbell yanking me from the brink of sleep.

 “Trick or treat!” came muffled through the door, probably teenagers looking for mischief. The little pirates and sparkling princesses had long since dwindled. I’d dozed off before extinguishing the porch light but I still had candy in the bowl. Better get to it if I didn’t want a trick.

I smoothed my rumpled costume and lifted the red hood over my hair. Reaching into the bowl for a handful of the requisite sugary nonsense, I opened the door.

“Looks like you’ve been expecting me,” the wolf face said with a chuckle. Did those lips move? The make-up these days was getting so elaborate.

“Great costume. Aren’t you a little old, though?” Where was the candy bag ready and waiting to accept my offering?

“Not for what I have in mind, Red,” he growled, fangs and inhuman bone structure flashing in a burst of movement.

Claws dug into my arms like tiny knives shoving me back inside the house, hot breath in my face. My vision tunneled and I screamed as the creature kicked the door shut. Heartbeat frantic, I grabbed for anything within reach that would help. Candy bowl clattering, nothing.

“Take whatever you want, just don’t hurt me.”

“Mmm, what I want will hurt, my treat.”

My head smashed against the tile. The weight of him on top of me registered as my throat erupted in pain. Ripping sounds filled my ears.

Copyright Terra Luft 2014 All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 20, 2014

Embarking on Revisions - and why I'm a big fat liar


Game on for NaNoWriMo 2014! Wait, what? I know. Right now you think my addiction is showing and pray that I get some help after my confession just ten short days ago. But let me explain...

When I set out last year to write my second novel, I swore it would be the one that I figured out the fearful and overwhelming process of Revisions with. All of 2014 so far has been devoted to just that. What I didn't know, is that after I employed the services of a developmental editor it would be necessary to re-write basically every scene. Every. Single. One. Oh, and add in more of course and layer in more elements that are still missing.

My editor is phenomenal. Sometimes I hate what she tells me but it is always spot on. Seriously, if you're a writer and you haven't found an editor you trust then you have a moral imperative to find one. After ten years of working together, I know I can trust her not to lead me astray. (She is for hire, if you're in need.)

I got my edits back a couple of days ago, had a meeting with her (on our yoga mats, it was beautiful) and hashed out the big things that need to be tackled. I came away knowing that while I am not writing a new story this November I'll be completely re-writing my current one. I may as well use the website tools to track my progress and milestones and keep me on track and motivated for the entire month. Does it make me any less of a NaNo'er that I am writing 50K works of a story I've already hashed out? It might, but I don't care. I will donate to cover the costs of my usage and my conscience will rest easy about my little white lie.

Holy shit, I have 11 days to prepare! And lots of questions still unanswered. Better get brainstorming... If you need me I'll be re-visioning. Otherwise known as re-writing. There's still time to join me and all the other November novelists at www.nanowrimo.org


Friday, October 10, 2014

Why I'm NOT doing NaNoWriMo this year

It's October. Weeks away from my historically statistical most productive writing month of the entire year. My email is hopping with updates from National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) getting me geared up and ready. My creative juices are already brewing and I'm on a roll with new material waiting to spew forth...I'm like an addict in need of intervention!

Hi, I'm Terra and I'm addicted to NaNoWriMo and writing first drafts.

It's been a very fruitful year for me in the writing department. And my writing group already intervened months ago forcing a commitment from me to revise one of my first drafts between now and February. I told them I would be ready to pitch to agents and publishers by then to see if I can get someone to buy one and publish it. So, I won't be using November to write a shiny new novel - a skill I've mastered after having done it so many times already. Instead, I'll be revising. A piece of the craft I have yet to master as well as the first draft. Probably a better use of my time in the grand scheme of things.

After LTUE last year I committed to writing short stories to figure out how to revise on a much smaller scale. I did it - with a story I'm super proud of but which is on draft number seven - seven - in preparation for publication. (Yes, I might have some very exciting news coming soon!) If it takes seven drafts of a novel to get it ready, I've got a lot of work ahead of me. Guess I better get to it! If you need me, I'll be writing - I mean editing!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Labels in Genre Fiction, An Argument

This topic has been on my mind for a while and cemented when I was at a writing conference a couple of weeks ago. One of the panelists asked a really great question: What makes a book considered horror? Many thoughtful answers from the audience were given and lots of people nodded their heads in agreement. Then he gave us the *real* answer: because that's the shelf they put it on at the book store. It was an answer I hadn't considered before. Every story written, especially in genre fiction, is classified as one thing and marketed that way. But any good book better have many different elements or it risks falling flat with readers. It's a safe bet that a crime story has some elements of horror. So do many fantasy novels as well as contemporary ones. And what about romance? Every story could use a sprinkle of it.

That was the ah-ha moment for me about book labels. I have always struggled with them, especially when people ask what market I am writing for. What's the difference between Young Adult and New Adult? Or Middle Grade and Juvenile? Fantasy can be Epic or Urban but isn't it all just Fantasy? Even Science Fiction can be space opera or hard science. It can be overwhelming when all you want is a good book you'll enjoy. Bottom line, the only thing that makes a book Young Adult is because that's the shelf we find it on at the book store. It's been a while since I've relied on the library to acquire reading material but I'm pretty sure there's only three main sections: Children, Fiction and Non-Fiction.

With this realization, I no longer find it necessary to defend or criticize anyone's choice in a book because it is considered Young Adult. I'm not even sure how it has became such a heated debate among people but it is, in every circle of friends I have who are readers. I hate to admit it, but I'm guilty of uttering the words "I don't read Young Adult". Even though I devoured the "Twilight" series when it was new and couldn't wait to get the last one on release day. (Writing that sentence makes me feel like an alcoholic admitting I might have a problem.) Say what you will about the writing, but the story was fresh and new at the time and well told. I wasn't the only person at the time sleep-deprived because we couldn't tear ourselves away from the story until the wee hours of the morning. So why, in the later years when they were making the silly movies that barely did the books justice, did I feel slightly ashamed to have liked reading them? Because the series had been labeled as Young Adult and now every adult who liked it felt a twinge of something. As an adult, the label Young Adult tells us "you're too old to enjoy this". Shame on all of us who bought into it! Stories are stories and should appeal to you based on how you feel during and after reading it. Nothing more.

The other side of the coin is also true. Why should we limit what kids read by dumbing down fiction or skipping the real life elements just because those parts might make us uncomfortable if kids read them? I cut my teeth on hard core science fiction and horror with L. Ron Hubbard and Stephen King long before I was out of elementary school. I stole my mom's smutty romance novels almost as early. The Adult and Horror labels they would all fall under now scream at kids "you aren't allowed to read me yet". As a parent I even bought into the inherent censorship that comes with these labels, much to my chagrin. I wonder if I went to the school library today if I'd even find those kinds of titles on the shelf? I know I'm going to find out!

Call me a crazy mom but I'm going to let my teen, who has just discovered how much she loves books, to read anything she wants to try. Because where would I be as a reader, and as a person, if my parents had limited my options back in my own formative years based on ridiculous labels? Do I hope she will take advice from me on whether I think she will like it and allow me to covertly keep her as innocent as I can for as long as possible? Of course. But I'm also not naive because I was thirteen once, too.

I understand the need for classifying books so readers have a general idea of what they are getting based on the shelf they are sold from. But let's get beyond the labels meaning anything more than that. Every story will not appeal to every reader, and every book could be classified different ways. Just find a good one you love and read it proudly! I promise to stop judging fellow readers based on what they like to read and instead rejoice that there are enough readers in the world to keep all of us aspiring authors motivated to create and publish more stories to enjoy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tender Mercies, A Perspective on Grieving

Welcome to my new normal... I lost my mom to liver disease on August 23rd. Ironically, she had never had a drink of alcohol in her life. The week preceding her death was filled with things I thought I would never have to do. Some I'd never even considered possibilities and many I should have prepared for but simply had not.

In the grand scheme of things, I'm lucky. I should have lost my Dad the same week I lost my Mom and very well could have. He totaled his 2014 Harley-Davidson Street Glide on Friday morning and was taken by helicopter to the nearest hospital. He was wearing his helmet, which he did every time he rides thankfully, and sustained only minor injuries. 'Minor' considering he flipped his bike end over end twice, landing on his head both times. They kept him overnight for observation which was to be the first in a long chain of events that week, the worst week of my life. I believe things happen for a reason; and that there was a reason for this accident especially.

Mom admitted to me that night that she didn't think she should spend the night alone - something she did five nights out of every week while my Dad was at work. It was a first and heralded the beginning of the end. My siblings and I rallied together to be with Mom all weekend and get Dad home from the hospital an hour away. That weekend I bought adult diapers, helped Mom shower and transfer on and off the toilet - things this daughter had never prepared myself for. We all stepped up and did what needed to be done while I silently wondered if worrying about Mom was why Dad had wrecked his bike. Especially if this had become his normal.

Mom had been sick for many years - diagnosed for four but symptomatic closer to ten because she was a stubborn nurse who refused to see a doctor regularly. We had watched her decline slowly the last couple of years but she was still living at home. She didn't drive anymore but Dad would take her religiously for her hair and nail appointments. Most weeks they would go to dinner with us on Friday nights and still saw friends often.We'd even gone camping as a family three weekends before. By Saturday morning we all agreed that with Dad hurt and in a neck brace for the next ten days he was going to need help. Help none of us were equipped to offer. That weekend I helped coordinate with her doctors to get emergency orders for home health care, we all kicked into cleaning and de-cluttering mode to make room for what we anticipated was a need for a hospital bed since she could no longer get in and out of her own by herself seemingly overnight, and we met with a nurse to assess Mom's current health.

The worst side effect of liver disease is the build up of ammonia in the brain called encephalopathy that presents as memory loss. That weekend there were several times Mom would look at us and it was like there was no one looking back from behind her eyes. It was much worse than we had been experiencing with forgetting how old she was or how long she'd been married or not being very good at lengthy conversations. All of which we'd been dealing with for at least the past year. By Monday morning, she couldn't walk by herself and there was evidence of internal bleeding. We headed to the emergency department at the hospital. Mom never came home. They stabilized her and did everything they could but her kidneys had also failed and there was nothing anyone could do to fix it.

It was a week of emotional turmoil as my Dad leaned on us to help make the hardest decisions a person can be faced with. Would she want to be intubated? Would she want to be kept alive on a feeding tube? Would she be okay with spending half of every day for the rest of her life hooked up to a dialysis machine to keep her alive? Would she be happy if she had to go to a skilled nursing facility and not be allowed to live at home anymore? She was never conscious enough to rationally help us make these decisions. Heart-wrenching and heart-breaking. In the end Dad knew enough about her wishes to make the hard choices. We withdrew care early Saturday morning. She was gone by the evening.

Someone said to me right after it happened that nothing can prepare you for losing a parent. So true. No matter that we all knew it was a possibility for years, it still hurt like a bitch. In the weeks since her death I've come to focus on the tender mercies that came with the heart-ripping sadness and give me comfort.

The first and most obvious mercy was not having to bury both of my parents in the course of a week. If things had turned out differently that Friday morning, a morning that started the way so many others had before with Hubby and Dad heading out for a day trip on the motorcycles, we would have.


Even bigger, the realization that Mom went out exactly as she would have wanted it. She tried in April to make me promise that she'd never have to go to a care facility or a nursing home. A promise I told her flat out I couldn't make because none of us were equipped to care for her if it came to that. As it happened, Mom lived out her days at home with the love of her life until she couldn't and then went swiftly from this life to whatever lies beyond. She never had to face her greatest fear in life - living without Dad. And she was surrounded by the thing that made her happiest for an entire week before she passed - her family. I will cherish every day I spent with her in the hospital that week and be forever grateful for a job flexible enough that I was there every day.


So many of the events that week seemed serendipitous. Tuesday night all the grand kids came and spent the evening. It was difficult to watch my own children struggle both with understanding what was happening (Baby Sister) and with knowing exactly what might be happening (Big Sister). There were near-hysterics involved but in the end all of them were able to tell her everything they wanted or needed to say - and heard Grandma tell them she loved them back. Had we waited another day, they wouldn't have had the chance. She was transferred the next afternoon and children are not allowed in the ICU.

Many people warned me that the funeral and all the things leading up to her burial were going to be so rough. Certainly they were difficult - especially speaking at the funeral - but nothing was as hard as watching her actually pass from this world. I cling to the memory of watching her use her last ounce of breath to tell us she loved us and to kiss Dad over and over until she didn't have any more strength left. Such a tender mercy, having her still conscious enough for that final goodbye.

I watch people tread lightly around my grief and part of me is surprised there isn't more of it in evidence. But the reality is, we slowly lost Mom for years and there is comfort in knowing she isn't suffering anymore. It doesn't mean I didn't sob all the way home after stumbling on an old voicemail from her today. Because I did. Hearing her voice and calling me her pet name were things I hadn't even considered how much I would miss. I thank my brush with death and resulting shift in perspective of not taking people or time with them for granted. It, too, must have happened for a reason. I have very few regrets because I spent as much time as I could with my parents in Mom's final year. I will miss her everyday but I know she is in a better place - wherever that may be.

I've said it before since that fateful day of my pulmonary embolism and I'll say it again. Squeeze those you love and make every minute count. Tomorrow is not promised. Even if you know the inevitable is inevitable, you can never really be ready. More important, have the difficult discussions with those you love about what you would want if you ever find yourself in a situation requiring life support and unable to make decisions for yourself. It was the single worst thing I've ever had to do in my life. Trust me that you don't want your loved ones not to know at least the general ideas you have on death and dying.

Much gratitude and love to those of you who make up my village - who brought food and gifts, took my kids, sent cards and flowers, hugged me, got me drunk, came to the services, called, sent texts and Facebook messages and in general got me through this as a collective. I couldn't have done it without all of you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A pause for berevement

I just had the worst week of my entire life topped off with the passing of my beloved Mom. Regularly scheduled blogging will commence once I figure out how to live again with some semblance of normalcy. Squeeze your loved ones and make every moment count...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Heart of Annihilation

Today I have the honor of kicking off the blog tour for one fabulous book - Heart of Annihilation by C.R. Asay. A book with a very special place in my heart. C.R. is a member of my own writing group so I've watched and participated intimately through the entire creative process. I've read it countless times. It's amazing. But don't let my biased judgement be the only thing that sways you... it is an exciting and imaginative read that you don't want to miss. Especially if you love science fiction with a military twist and a strong female lead. Or maybe it's military with a science fiction twist? Just trust me and pick this one up.


When U.S. Army Specialist Kris Rose catches members of her unit stealing ammunition to kill aliens, she is forced to defend herself—with a freakish electrical charge shooting from her fingertips.

Shaken by her newly found power and hunted by vigilantes from her unit, Rose is forced away from her structured, military world and into a fight for her life. 

With the aid of her battle buddy, Corporal Thurmond, Rose sets out to learn more about the aliens under attack. In the process, she discovers her bizarre connection to a devastating threat to Earth—an alternate dimensional weapon called the Heart of Annihilation.

From a chuteless free-fall from 20,000 feet, to deadly bullet wounds and the unforgiving Sonoron Desert, Rose enters a world where aliens are real. And she may be one of them.

I sat down with C.R., otherwise known as Christauna, for an interview figuring I already knew all the answers. I was wrong... 
__________
 Where did your idea for Heart of Annihilation come from? 
Heart of Annihilation grew very slowly. I wrote a scene about Specialist Rose facing down a greasy, redheaded lieutenant with an M16 and then I let it sit for weeks. Maybe months. I sure thought about it a lot. Why was she there? What put her in that situation? I’m honestly not sure exactly how it grew from there. I knew I wanted something sci-fi. I thought aliens. My husband suggested dimensions. We compromised. I wrote a lot of disconnected scenes but it wasn’t until over halfway through the book that I knew where I wanted my characters to end up. Then it was just a matter of revising over the course of 5-6 years, molding the story like a clay sculpture until it resembled what it is today. I will probably never again write a book the way I wrote Heart of Annihilation. This one is special. 
I remember that first scene well... And now here you are with a book you can hold in your hands. So cool! Every parent secretly has a favorite child - do you have a favorite character you love more than the rest?
 Yeah…Thurmond. Definitely. He’s just such a rock solid person and decent human being. He epitomizes how I see the U.S. soldier. He’s a hero. It also helps that he has a lot of the quirks and personality traits I see in my husband…
What is your secret to writing violence?
 You can’t pull any punches, no pun intended. Human beings are the best, most gracious creatures in the world, but they are also the vilest. Just turn on the news and you will see a lot of worst-case scenarios. When you’re writing a book that naturally contains a lot of violence, sometimes you need to look deep inside yourself and write what is most distasteful to you in order to elicit the same emotion in the reader.
I wrote the whole storyline for the character Caz Fisk in about two weeks of almost constant work. And I hated it. I hated sludging through her mind and wondering what hateful thing I was going to have to write next. It was a dark two weeks that left me in a sour mood and short tempered with my children. Editing those sections later wasn’t as bad as the writing, but having to channel her violence was very unpleasant. And they turned out great.
Caz is actually my favorite character - because she's so gritty and violent. You nailed it. Is this a stand-alone or is there more to come?
I anticipate this to be a 3-4 book series (I’m aiming for 3). The second book, working title Miss Risk, is complete in rough draft form. Book 3 is in the early stages of drafting.
How long did it take you to write Heart of Annihilation?
Write or edit? The writing probably took about a year. The editing/revising? More like five years. That’s not normal, even for me, but Heart of Annihilation is the first novel I wrote and so it was the one on which I learned the writing process. Usually an author will abandon their training novel and just write a new one in order to grow as a writer. The plot and characters in Heart of Annihilation were so compelling to me that I couldn’t let them go. So I revised into publication.
I like the sound of that: "training novel". I might have to steal the term. What exactly is your writing process?
When I have an idea I will let it roll around in my head for days, weeks, sometimes months, gathering more ideas to it, adding some characters, even some structure until one day the starting sentence will form in my mind and I have to race to my computer to get it down. Once it’s down the rest follows fairly quickly. I don’t outline. I write by the seat of my pants and revise heavily in the aftermath.
I’m surrounded by “pantsers”! What is your favorite part of being an author?
Watching characters come to life. All the plots and magic systems in the world are no match for a flesh and blood character who is so real you wish you could meet him/her. Although preferably not at night in a dark alley with some --
Okay, let's not go there... Least favorite part?
The actual writing. No really, it’s a painful process. Exhilarating at times, but more often frustrating and hard. I love revising afterwards but the actual writing exhausts me and causes giant sweat rings to form under my arms.
Sweat rings are very un-ladylike. Knowing that's your least favorite part, what keeps you motivated to write?
The potential thrill of introducing characters to others and creating an experience of wonder in readers.
What else have you written?
I have a haunted house horror story I’m working on called Project Specter. I’m really excited about this one. I also have a couple of anthology pieces coming soon. One is to support TADSAW (Train a Dog, Save a Warrior), which will be out on Veterans Day 2014. The second is for Utah Fantasy Authors, with all contributors being local authors including a certain someone whom I’ve visiting today *wink, wink*.
Hey, no spoilers!! We’re talking about you, remember? How did you go from aspiring writer to published author?
With an insane amount of persistence and work. I have rejections from literary agents and publishers piled to the ceiling. Each and every one took turns crushing my spirit allowing me to be reborn from the ashes better than before. I learned, I worked, and I dreamed until I was able to make my dream a reality.
Being an author takes some pretty tough skin.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Never stop learning and improving your craft. Don’t settle or take the easy route. There is no easy route. “Good enough” is not good enough. Find a way to make it better. Set your sites high and never stop aiming for exactly what you want. A book is a work of art. Make sure yours eventually matches your vision.
Great advice. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far on your journey?
That I can do hard things. Like really hard things. I have ADHD which makes some of the simplest tasks in the world seem like Everest. But I can scale it. Having this book come out will forever attest to my ability to overcome my disability and be just as successful as I aspire to be.
Wow, I had no idea. Now I understand the tears when you held your baby in your hands for the first time. Are there more books we can look forward to? And if so, when?
I’m aiming for the release of book 2 summer 2015 with the 3rd book to follow in 2016.
I'm looking forward to finding out where the story takes us from here. You've built such an interesting world of inter-dimensional politics driven by compelling characters who each have their own agendas. Okay, I kind of already know but I'm sure anyone who reads Heart of Annihilation will want to know, too. Membership in a writing group does have its perks. Even better than an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) is getting to see something as it is created... But I digress.
Where can readers find and connect with you?
Like my Facebook page and Goodreads page to get news of giveaways and forthcoming books.
You can also check out my website crasay.com and my blog nonsensicalessentials.blogspot.com.
  __________

Thanks for visiting, Christauna, and for another fabulous book for my shelf. Folks, I've seen the swag planned for giveaways and it is even cooler once you've read the book. So what are you waiting for?

You can buy Heart of Annihilation at the following retailers:

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE

If you'd like a chance to win your own free copy, you can enter by commenting on this blog post! Rafflecopter will then pick a random winner next week. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
C. R. Asay joined the Utah National Guard at the age of seventeen. After spending time in the 625th Military Police Corp she transferred to the 19th Special Forces group as a counterintelligence agent. She retired from the military after marrying her best friend and graduating from college so that she could embark on the most exciting adventure of all; being a mom.
The short story version of her first novel, Heart of Annihilation, earned an honorable mention from the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. C. R. Asay currently resides in West Jordan, Utah, with her husband, four children, and a dog. There is always a dog.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Life without judgement

It has been almost two years since my brush with death changed everything about how I live my life. The difference in myself was very stark this past weekend at the annual family reunion with my mom's extended family. All the cousins who were my best friends growing up - and still are - plus their spouses and kids all gather at a resort with a water park and spend the weekend playing in the sun together. It is always a blast and I always have a fabulous time but usually it is accompanied with lots of internal stress and dialogue about having to be in a bathing suit around others who are more "-er" than me... younger, thinner, prettier. You get the picture.

This year was different. This year I never once looked in the mirror with a critical eye - or at all come to think about it. Nor did I constantly look for strategic ways of sitting so I looked better (as if that way even exists since your body is your body regardless of how you sit). I just had fun with my kids without a care in the world. No cover-up included!

We spent hours - literally - walking back up the hill and the stairs to the top of the water slides, all the adults taking turns sliding with all the different kids - my own, my nieces and nephews and my cousin's kids whatever they would be called in the genealogical sense. Several times I thought with gratitude about how far I'd come in a year - from being physically incapable of it to rocking all the cardio without losing my breath in the process.

It made me think about all the people I'd ever compared myself to in the past to make myself feel better and wonder what things they could say they had overcome to just be where they were. Kind of humbling when you think about it...

A month ago I had my yoga world rocked to the very foundation. Weeks later, I'm still discovering things in my practice that are transforming and growing from that one ah-ha moment when I realized that I don't use my entire foot for anything. It occurred to me this morning, while my 147 pound yoga instructor sat on my sacrum to illustrate how to stretch my straddle deeper, that if you'd told me three years ago that yoga could still be fresh and new every week that I wouldn't have believed a word. And that the old Terra might have given up after that ah-ha moment because the inner voice would have convinced me that I was no good at yoga. Instead I've left all expectations of everything at the door and find joy in the newness of re-learning every pose differently. As I always say, yoga is a journey not a destination. I'm consciously having to take my own advice not to judge myself against anything - including myself from four weeks ago when I never used my heels. Now I know how people can practice yoga for a lifetime and I love how every trip to the mat brings new insights about myself - all because I leave the judgement out of it.

The biggest hope I have is that my girls will see me just as their mom and remember only how much fun they had doing things with me. I already know they don't see me as I see myself. Once I called myself fat and my oldest looked at me funny and said "you're not fat, Mom." Which stopped me in my tracks. If you haven't read this article about When Your Mother Says She's Fat , or watched this ad about doing things "like a girl", check them out. They both helped me see where I was my own worst enemy in putting myself down because I didn't measure up in the areas society focuses on.

In the grand scheme of things it is more important to live every moment regardless of how we feel about ourselves - especially when faced with the reality that every day might be your last. If you wait to enjoy life until you've lost that last 20 pounds (or fill in the blank with your own demons) it might be too late to make the memories you are putting off. Your kids could be too old, you could be too old, or the opportunities could have passed you by. Make every moment of every day count, no matter what. And leave the judgement out of it!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The power of a deadline

I work well under pressure, always have. But I still prefer to steadily work backward from a set deadline - no matter what I'm working on. Big projects at work, short stories, group endeavors, and of course my novels. It is why the slow and steady approach to NaNoWriMo works so well for me and so easily translated to an all-year writing habit. The reality of my life is I've usually got about ten different irons in the fire. As long as I juggle all of them effectively I am able to do everything. Hence the overachiever aspect of my life. Focus too much on one thing and others start slipping, so to speak.

I've recently put a new iron in the fire with my writing group that requires a lot of coordinated effort from each of us. Something we've been cooking up for several years and finally have the resources and know-how to do really well. (Sorry, I can't share details yet but when I can you know you'll be the first to know - and it is so exciting!) In working on this project I observed that my way of handling a deadline is not the only effective way. Which got me thinking.

One of my partners called the other side of this coin hyper-focus. Which can be described from my observations as abandoning every other aspect of life to zero in on only the one project with the most pressing or imminent deadline, working tirelessly through to completion. I've been chipping away at my to-do list for the overall project for several months while it seemed no one else was worried about theirs. At all. Yet we managed to pull it all together with a big push the past couple of weeks which resulted in meeting our deadline. I'm in awe of those who can do this. Because I cannot. Interestingly, the majority of our group can and do work this way. Minority or not, I much prefer my slow and steady approach. What's your preference?

Regardless of how you deal with a deadline, procrastination is never your friend. One sign for me that I might have too many irons I'm juggling is when things start slipping. I have a submission deadline next week - mid week. I realized on Monday our family reunion is this weekend, not next like I thought which still gave me plenty of time to prepare. So instead of hanging out at home for a marathon writing weekend to finish up my revisions, I'll need to be in crisis mode next week to make it happen in time. *sigh* Bring on the coffee and the sleep deprivation! And perhaps I'll pack that laptop for the weekend trip after all since a little multitasking never hurt anyone. No one will notice, right?

Monday, July 21, 2014

What have you done with your life?

Someone once asked me "what haven't you done?" It was right after I mentioned one of the things I used to do but don't anymore. It got me thinking about all the stuff I've done over the course of my life. Recently I read a very witty bio for a fellow author that listed a few very diverse things she's done in her life that showed an impressive and broad spectrum of achievements. Which of course prompted me to write my own list so I could feel good about myself instead of feeling dull by comparison. It was such an interesting exercise that I figured why not share it? So here's the list for your viewing pleasure. In chronological order of course, because my OCD demanded it. Those in italics indicate things I still do actively. Now you can really believe me when I say I'm an overachiever...

Daughter
Sister 
Friend
Student
Reader
Pianist
Dancer
Camper
Skier
Seamstress
Electronics geek (circuit boards and soldering)
VICA State Officer - High School
Writer
Debator / Orator
Fast food slave
VICA President - SLCC
Baker
Retail clerk
VICA State Officer - College
College student - Communications major
College student - Flight Technology major
Flight school coordinator
Pilot
Tennis player
Biker (of the motorcycle variety)
Guitarist - Dreem Raage (garage band)
Wife
Dirt biker 
Receptionist
Golfer
Accounts Receivable Clerk
Voice of an interactive phone system
Aloette Sales Rep
Janitor
Aunt
Customer Support Rep
Coffee drinker
Mainframe Operator
Smoker
System Administrator - Tandem/NonStop
Operations Manager
Trainer
Technical writer
General Ledger Accountant
Quilter
Mary Kay Independent Distributor
Photographer
Wedding planner / consultant
Reiki Practitioner Level 1
Mother
Home owner
Web developer
Office Manager 
Witch
Realtor
ATM Network System Manager
Non-Smoker
Dance Mom
Book club member
Blogger
Project Manager
Writing Group founder/member - Once Upon A Keyboard
Systems Analyst
Knitter
Runner
Novelist
Ragnarian
Yogini
doTerra Wellness Advocate
Survivor - Kidney disease and pulmonary embolism insanity
Website designer / collaborator
Yoga instructor

So, what have you done with your life? I hope your list is full of accomplishments and growth as you age like mine is. Lots of things I don't do anymore helped point me to the things I do now that I love. And I don't regret any of them - well, maybe I regret smoking a little bit since it was so hard to quit.

Bottom line, there's no excuse. Ever. Tomorrow isn't promised so don't wait for that elusive 'someday' before you do what you've always wanted to do. Nothing is guaranteed beyond today so whatever you do make it count.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Someone please invent a machine to give me more time?

Ramping up the overachiever work-load. That's how you could sum up my life last month. I tackled an extremely difficult certification class at work because why not, they would pay and it pads my resume quite nicely. As a result, many things didn't happen the last couple of months because there simply wasn't enough time. Unfortunately, one of those things was my writing because studying took up my writing time and there just isn't any way to squeeze more hours out of the day.

Then I started looking around and seeing other things that I have unconsciously trimmed out of my life. My garden tops the list. Sure I planted a couple of rows of peas but I don't even know if they produced anything. I had shallots and onions come back from last year but I never harvested any of them after the very first one I pulled out in early May. I bought seeds to grow corn and then never got around to planting them. I noticed this giant weed the other day and figured out it is the couple of carrots I failed to pull out last year because they were tiny and not worth the trouble. Now they've gone to seed and probably rotted under the dirt. Buying vegetables is much more effective for us since we don't have the space to grow a big variety and we all get really bored with the same two or three things after the first month anyway. Or that's what I'm telling myself so it's okay I have no time to garden.

I've also watched very few movies and very little television the last few months. Not a lot of TV isn't a new thing but Hubby and I watch tons of movies together - it's been our thing since our first date. So it really sucks that I haven't made time to watch many of them this summer. Then I realized that's also because we are out riding our motorcycle together during some of the time that we would have been watching movies before and it doesn't make me so sad. I'm still sharing an activity we both love with him so it's okay.

Let's not mention how sporadic my blogging has been lately... and how I thought I was still posting at least weekly. 

I'm morphing even more into a person I don't recognize with the introduction of tennis lessons for Baby Sister that happen every morning - before work. Remember when I was so in shock that I was capable of doing yoga in the morning once a week? I not only did an hour of yoga this morning, I also did an hour of tennis lessons and a dentist appointment for a cleaning - all before 9:30am. Inconceivable! But it still happened.

I've got two major writing deadlines looming in the next couple of weeks. Not including the new commitment I made to my writing group last week to get one of my manuscripts ready so I can get it out on submission for publication by next May. An important step so they can keep me on the hook to do what I say I'll do. Good thing I'm really fabulous at juggling life and have uber perfected the art of overachieving or I might be a little more stressed. Still, if someone could possibly come up with a way to squeeze more hours out of the days I would really appreciate it!

Friday, June 27, 2014

An argument for honestly reviewing books - and why every reader should do it


I've blogged before about how diverse reader's tastes are noting that there are so many ways a book can be regarded depending on who reads it. So there must be a way to slog through all the books out there and narrow down which ones you personally will like. Which is why I argue that every reader has an obligation to honestly and objectively review every book they read.

I'm a huge reader. No secret there. What many don't think about is that the number of books you can read in your lifetime is finite. There are far more books out there than you can read in one lifetime. Yes, even yours. That finite number varies by person depending on how fast and how often you read. For example, I read three books a month on average. That's thirty six books a year - give or take. If I have twenty more reading years, I only have time for seven hundred and twenty more books. Ever. Which is why you really should choose wisely. For the same reason, I also think you shouldn't finish a book that doesn't hook you and keep you entertained either. Unless you're in a book club since arguably you have an obligation to read those selections regardless.

So how do you pick which books to read so you get the most out of your remaining, and technically very limited, reading time?

Personally, I use recommendations from friends and fellow readers. Another reason I love Goodreads so I can see what people say about books before I decide. (Especially helpful when you have friends who read and enjoy the same books you like so you can see what they enjoyed - or didn't.) I shy away from books that don't get at least an average three-star rating (out of a possible five). But here's a little secret... I usually only read the middle of the road reviews and I especially am interested in the "bad" reviews. Those are the reviews that - if written objectively - give me the best insight. If I see that someone didn't like a book because of something that I might actually like, I'm more likely to pick it up. If someone didn't like how dark a book was or how bloody the action was but I really like dark and bloody books, I would probably pick it up.


In the past few months I've heard arguments from many different people about not wanting to honestly review every book which all boil down to a couple of general ideas that I take exception with:
"I don't usually review if it is going to be less than 3 stars."
"I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings."

I think both of these arguments approach book reviews from the wrong side of the issue. I don't review books for the author's benefit, my reviews are designed for other readers like me so we can find books we like (and avoid those we won't). The hard truth that every author must grapple with accepting is that no matter how much effort and love went into writing a book, not everyone everywhere will love it. Reviews are designed to be the unbiased opinions of readers, and everyone everywhere is entitled to their own. Once a book is in the hands of readers, there's nothing that an author can change about it anyway.

What if every review was a glowing one and there were no differing opinions? Or what if no one reviewed books ever because they were worried about hurting either the author's feelings or the feelings of those who had a different opinion? Then every book would be as much of a gamble as randomly picking something off the shelf - without reading the jacket. By not giving an honest and truthful review, regardless of how you liked or didn't like a book, you're doing a disservice to every reader who comes after you looking for insights on whether they would like to read it. Of course I don't think you should completely trash a book (or the author) if you don't like it, but give me an objective and constructive reason why you didn't like it that can help me decide if I might also rather skip it. Then let me decide.

Because of this, I rate books in the following manner:
  • 5 stars = Loved it! I abandoned all aspects of my life in order to voraciously read this book
  • 4 stars = I really enjoyed it and I would highly recommend it to others - but I still slept at night, mostly.
  • 3 stars = I liked it but I didn't love it. I found nothing to complain about but it didn't rock my world either...
  • 2 stars = I didn't like it overall although I did finish it. (Incidentally, books with this rating have generally been ones I read for book club which illustrates the point that it takes all kinds of readers and not everyone likes the same things.)
  • 1 star = I either hated it or I didn't finish it
On top of a star rating, I always give the feel of the book and the impression it left me with overall. I don't bother with a synopsis of what the story was about from start to finish, you can get that elsewhere. What I really emphasize is what worked for me and what didn't, and why. Something that would help someone else objectively draw conclusion as to whether they would like it or not. I do this because those are the kinds of reviews I look for when deciding to give a book a spot on my finite list of things I've read between now and when I die.

You remember what they say about treating others the way you want to be treated, right? If you are a reader, won't you consider doing this as well? Future readers will thank you, myself included!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Eleanor, The Unseen


Time for another blog touring author to stop by for a visit. Today I have the privilege of hosting Johnny Worthen, author of Eleanor, The Unseen coming July 1 from Jolly Fish Press.

It was a gamble for Eleanor to rejoin humanity, but she was driven to it. She’d been too successful forgetting. The last vestiges of her family hung by a thread in her transformed brain and drove her to be reckless. Ten years later, Eleanor hides in plain sight. She is an average girl getting average grades in a small Wyoming town: poor but happy, lonely but loved. Her mother, Tabitha, is there for her and that’s all she’s ever needed. But now her mother is sick and David has returned. The only friend she’d ever had—the only other person who knows her secret—is back. And Eleanor again becomes reckless.

Eleanor is a modest girl, unremarkable but extraordinary, young but old, malleable but fixed. She is scared and confused. She is a liar and a thief. Eleanor is not what she appears to be.

Johnny is one of my fellow Utah Fantasy Authors and I twisted his arm to give me a copy of Eleanor before anyone else could read it because… hello, you all know I’m not a patient woman! This book grabbed me quick and fast; despite the fact it is touted as juvenile fiction, which I rarely read. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again for the record: Johnny Worthen writes books I like to read.

Eleanor is the story of a girl who is not what she appears. You think you know her story, or at least the biggest piece of it, from the opening scenes – scenes that are so well written they pulled me in and had me thinking about the hinted mystery immediately. But as it unfolds, you learn that what you think you know might only be the surface of what is really at the heart of Eleanor – a smart, feisty girl trying to hide in plain sight. She knows little about her true nature and what she does know she loathes. This book masterfully captures the feel of growing up in a small town where everyone knows everyone and they all think they know what the real stories are. It is also a great story of the bond between mother and daughter and between trusted friends. It is a unique paranormal coming of age story from the mind of a fantastic storyteller.

If you love a good mystery, are a sucker for the paranormal, like to ask yourself “what if” questions, and in general like reading well-written books, then this one is for you. It is an entertaining story for any age that doesn’t limit itself to adult readers. I would let my daughter read this one, and so should you.

I asked Johnny to visit with a guest post about how he creates such amazing and well-rounded characters since it is something he consistently does well in his work. Enjoy...


**********************
Each story begins with an idea of a theme I explore, a question or a specific conflict. To this I identify the forces I’ll need. These are the agent and the character. They are born out of function. This is the seed.

I nurture this seed and sink some roots. For the character to function as I would like, it is already in motion moving toward the goal I have in mind. I imagine what their past was that put them on this trajectory. This is their background and history and I usually outline it loosely allowing myself space to connect and rearrange but always having the framework to justify the rest.

If I haven’t already named the character by then I’ll name them at this point. I knew ELEANOR’s name before I knew her story. She introduced herself and we worked it out together. 

Naming is a huge issue for me. I’ll let you in on a secret. I often use puns to identify the character’s function and core. This is to remind me of what the character is about and also to leave a clue for the reader, something to write an essay about in English class. I often conceal this by translating it into another language.

Not all of my characters have this, but many of them do. My signature character is Tony Flaner, a slacker detective who you won’t meet until next year in THE FINGER TRAP. The pun there is from the French, “Flaneur” – wanderer.

In ELEANOR, THE UNSEEN, I’d direct you to David Venn. I speak Danish. I was an exchange student there. “Ven” in Danish means “friend.” It’s as simple as that. Similarly, Eleanor’s last name is Anders, a common enough Danish name. Think Anderson, but it’s also related to “├Žndring” which means “change.” These linguistic clues help me to conceive of the character’s core as they develop.

The next thing in character development is their voices. Even before I think I know what they look like, I need to know what they sound like, both inner and outer dialog. If I can’t hear them, if I can’t put them in a room with each other and have them carry on a conversation, they’re not ready yet. If this happens, I know I need to go back and fill in some more of their back-story, remember who they are and what they want. Flesh them out with the usual prompts; internal and external conflicts, habits and mannerisms, occupation, family, etc. I’ll assign them some details even at random just to get a handle on them.

The final and ultimate test for me is always the conversation. When I’m stuck in a book, I often just put the right characters together and get them talking. It’s magickal, and I don’t use that word lightly. The characters will interact, push their agendas, move the story themselves, react, plot and plan. Maneuver and tell where the story needs to go. When this happens, I just have to take the dictation. I’m out of it. It’s alive. That’s when I know my characters work, when they can do that.
*************************** 

Thank you for that insight, Johnny! I loved getting a glimpse inside your mind. Thanks for stopping by on your blog tour. 

If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Eleanor (and you know you do!) enter the blog tour giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you'd rather have the instant gratification, instead of waiting to win, you can get your copy online:

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE 



JOHNNY WORTHEN graduated with a B.A. in English and Master’s in American Studies from the University of Utah. After a series of businesses and adventures, including running his own bakery, Worthen found himself drawn to the only thing he ever wanted to do—write. And write he does. When he’s not pounding on his keyboard or attending writers conferences, Worthen spends his time with his wife and two boys in Sandy, Utah.



You can find Johnny online at the following places:
FACEBOOK
TWITTER
WEBSITE
GOODREADS

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Inspiration from childhood terror

One of the biggest (and sometimes scariest) questions for writers is when people wonder "where do you get your ideas?" Usually I have no answer. Sometimes even I worry about where the next one will come from. It's like magic: a spark inspires something that sticks, characters come to life and stories pour out. Or so I thought that was the answer. This week I had an epiphany... childhood terror is where my current idea came from and I didn't even know it.

I had a sleep over once when I was an early 'tween. We were doing silly (and scary) things in the middle of the night involving mirrors. It freaked me out enough that I still won't speak the name of the game (which is an adjective and a woman's name in case you want to take a guess). You say these two words while standing in front of a mirror three times and then "she" appears. I can attest that something happened that night - something freaky enough that I needed the safety of my daddy and several friends wanted to go home instead of sleeping over. I hadn't thought of this incident in decades until a month ago when a friend and I were talking about scary movies - I love them and she doesn't - which then moved to ghost stories and true life events we've experienced. I shared this incident from my childhood as an example of real-life, unexplained events. We both shivered and moved on to other topics including comparing my favorite horror and scary movies with the ones her brothers love.

In seemingly unrelated events, I had just finished writing a short story...

Fast forward to yesterday when I was having lunch with the same friend. We were discussing my short story that she is going to be a beta reader for. As I gave her a synopsis, I had a flash of serendipity. The horrible thing that came out of the mirror that night from my childhood has returned from my subconscious in the form of a science fiction short story without me even realizing it.

Being a writer is hard work. But it is SO awesome!! Especially when cool and seemingly unexplained things happen. I'm so enjoying this journey...

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Art of Reading Multiple Books

It's no secret I love data. And I'm OCD. So I especially love data that I can track for historical trends. Which are just a couple of the reasons I love the site GoodReads. It lets me track what books I've read, what I thought about them, which ones I want to read, plus all that info about what my friends are reading, too. (If you are a reader and you aren't a member, you should be...) This week I noticed something that seems insane even for me: my "currently reading" list contains FIVE - yes, five - books. And yes, I'm actively reading all of them. Which certainly begs the question: How do you read five books at the same time?

I'm a gadget geek so I have an iPad, an iPad mini (that I grudgingly share with the family), and an iPhone. Well, two of them actually since I also have one for work... but I digress. And I've got books on all of them. (Don't judge, I know I'm addicted and that's the first step. Or so I hear!) Here's my secrets to reading multiple books at a time:

First, I'm always reading a book on my iPad via my Kindle app. I've got at least one of my iPads with me at all times and, if I've got a minute of downtime, I'm reading. Sitting in waiting rooms at doctors offices or my monthly lab visit, eating lunch at my desk, wherever I find myself sitting still for more than a minute, I'm reading. I also end my weeknights with a chapter (sometimes more) in bed right before I turn off the light to go to sleep. Plus my favorite; over morning coffee on the weekends.

Next, I've always got a book I'm listening to on the Audible app on my iPhone. At minimum I listen when I'm commuting to and from work or any time I'm alone in the car. If it is one I am super involved in, I've got my headphones on listening while I'm doing mindless things like vacuuming, dishes or laundry. Sometimes I love the current Audible book so much that I get caught up on all my laundry and find myself wishing I bought clothes that required ironing so I'd have something else mindless I could be doing. I also listen to my audio book whenever I'm walking/running unless I'm with a friend.

I'm usually working on the monthly book club selection in conjunction with my own leisure reading. Which means that the week or two before book club I've either got two audibles or two ebooks I'm splitting my time between. 

Lastly, I've usually got at least one book I'm reading in print, lying somewhere in the vicinity of my desk at home, that I'm not reading as quickly. Currently, that book is a grammar book. Yes, I'm a geek who reads books on grammar. But, I'm a writer so it's okay. Don't judge. This is usually a book that I've either picked up in print because that's the most affordable way to acquire it or someone has lent it to me. Or, it's the book we are reading in my book club at work. We read a chapter or two at a time and discuss weekly. Because of this slower pace of discussion, it can also be a slower-paced read which works out well.

Typically, these four situations are the norm. My 'currently reading' list always fluctuates between three and four books. Guaranteed. Right now, my life is beyond the normal level of hectic since I'm working on a new certification at work. This means I'm also trying to read a textbook cover to cover in a matter of weeks in preparation for testing. Five is not a normal load of reading but that's how it is right now.

I look back a few years, when I was lamenting about how I could barely manage to read a book a month to keep up with my book club, and chuckle. In true overachiever fashion I figured out what ways I could multitask those things I have to do in life with the things that I want to do. Reading is essential to my happiness so I found the means. What things do you make time for regardless of how crazy your life gets?