Monday, May 19, 2014

Managing Burn Out

Burn out happens. As writers/readers we know this first hand. We get burned out on our WIP. We get burned out on our fav genre. We get burned out on writing related social media. You name it, we get burned out on it. Burn out can be happen to us all.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised last year when I got burned out on running. But I was! (Surprised, that is). I’d been running for years. I’m not great at it but I love it. I started running in 2008 and craved the challenge of competing against myself for a better time. I jumped immediately into Half’s (13.1) because that distance scared the crap out of me (the Full 26.2 was just impossible – I thought). Over the years we had run in countless races (ATL has a pretty amazing running community) until we finally conquered the Full at Disney in 2012 and then the Goofy + 5k in 2013.

Burn out happens when you least expect it. I should’ve been happy and excited with my achievement. Instead, I was sore, tired, and bored with running. I thought I had peeked – what else can I do to challenge myself now?

Luckily, I was familiar with burn out and how to handle it. See this post about book burn out here.

So, what did we do? We took a break from running.

We changed gears. We stopped running so much and started training with a personal trainer. We limited our races to small 5k’s or just-for-fun obstacle course racing. I stopped reading my running mags and even cut back on the runners I follow on social media. I needed distance and so did my hubby.

We thought about training for a Tri, we even logged a few laps in our gym’s pool. But we just couldn’t get excited about it so we let that fizzle out.

When I was researching a Disney half for my SIL I noticed that Disney had a new challenge: the Dopey Challenge. It was similar to the Goofy that I'd already conquered but the Dopey actually included the 5k and 10k. January 2014 was the first time this challenge was offered. Of course I had no idea it was even being offered because of the self imposed blackout on most things running related.

Still, the fact that they now had a name for what we did (Goofy + 5k) and there was a whole new distance in the mix (+ 10k) made me a little jealous. I felt a little cheated that we didn’t get something special in 2013 for our efforts. Had a 10k been available in 2013 I’m sure we would have run it. I threw a slightly jealous text to my hubby letting him know about the new challenge. I was sure he’d be peeved like me that we missed out.

Instead, I got three words back:

Okay, I’m in.

Those three little words blew my hair back, a but like this:

They were entirely unexpected. The idea of running the Dopey Challenge never crossed my mind. And the idea of my hubs wanting to run it was even farther from my mind. He was probably more burnt out on running after the 2013 Goofy +5k than I was. (And, to tell you the truth, he didn’t love running the way I loved running. He sorta warmed up to running over the years but he always thought I was weird for L O V I N G running).

Still, those three little words sparked a fire in my chest. I will run the Dopey Challenge in 2015. I want to run again. I want running to be fun again and I know that the Disney races will be fun. Staying on the property and going to the parks after the races is like stepping foot into a fantasy world and I love that feeling.

It’s perfect timing for us both – training will keep my mind off of queries and rejections. It will also help me de-stress from work and class. My hubby is done with his Masters degree so he wont have homework interrupting his training schedule (and my class ends with a giant test just before training really gets hot and heavy so it really is PERFECT).

Over the months I’ll be including a few posts about training, costume creation, and the inevitable ups-and-downs of running. Come back by to follow me on my journey.

What do you do (outside of writing/reading) to release stress? What hobbies do you enjoy?

Want more on writing related burn out?

Check out this awesome post by Jenny Kaczorowski on why rest does not equal failure.

Or my post on managing book burn out and contest fatigue.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I Can Haz Productivity: April 2014 Month in Review

Alright, so this post is a smidge late. But better late than never! Huzzah!

April has come and gone. Can you believe it? Sheesh.

Luckily, I've been tracking a lot of my time so I know pretty darn well where all the time went. And as much as I wish I could report good word counts and high mileage in the month of April....I simply can't. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. I am. But wallowing in my own self pity never feels good for long. So here's my recap, I'm moving right along:

First and foremost, April was a month of class. I had 32 hours of class. And for every hour in class I had at least two additional hours of homework. Sigh. I'm tired just thinking about it. May is my last full month of class (for now). So at least there is an end in sight.

But it wasn't all school and homework. My hubs, Handsome Jack, and I had a couple of fun dates:

The first was to the Lion King musical. We sat in the first row. I've never sat in the front row for a musical before and it was Ah. Maz. Ing! The music, the acting, the costumes and puppetry - all of it was wonderful. I cried. I laughed. It was one of my favorites. And sitting up front was surreal.

Here I am getting ready for Lion King. The animal print dress seemed appropriate.

And a dear friend of mine threw a big bash to celebrate his engagement. We were so excited to go. The food was amazing and we had a great time!

Here's a happy shot from the table.

And of course, there was the Jackson Mississippi Warrior Dash! We traveled to MS to run the Dash with my SIL and BIL. If you've never run a Warrior Dash let me enlighten you: The Warrior Dash is a muddy 5k obstacle course where finishers get free beer. So it's pretty fun. A lot of runners dress in costume. Since there were four people in our group we chose Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I'm Leonardo.

Our costumes were a big hit and we had a blast.

And there was a lot of mud!

But that's not all! We successfully signed up for the Dopey Challenge. It sold out super fast so we were thrilled to get a slot! Are you running Disney this year?

And last, but not least, I got some motorcycle time in.

And I didn't scream the entire time! So there's that.

So with all that madness, what did my month yield? The productivity is as follows:

2 Novels read for fun

1 Beta for a CP

1 out of town trip

1 5k race

And words, not many words but I don't want to lose sight of the fact that any words are better than no words *does happy dance *

For a grand total of 2,756 words. This brings my total ‘tracked’ word count to 31,666 for the year! My writing goals are off the mark. And as a result I needed to adjust down my targets.

And as I mentioned before, I have big running goals this year. So I've decided to track my miles as well, I am happy to report, 14.2 miles logged.

Which brings my total ‘tracked’ mileage to 44 miles. I’m just happy to be falling in love with running again.

How are your writing goals coming along? How do you determine you daily word goals?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Forever Kind of Love by Clara Stone

It's that time again. Time for a fun, fabulous cover reveal. One of my all time fave things to do is help authors get the word out about their books. Today, I'm thrilled to have Clara Stone on the blog to share with us her newest title and cove.

Here are the facts:

Title: Forever Kinda Love
Author: Clara Stone
Release date: August 15th, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Cover Design: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design &Photography

Ebook will be available at: Kindle | Nook | Kobo |Smashwords

And here's the blurb:

Life’s. Little. Surprises.

The last thing seven-year-old Carrigan "Ace" Casper foresaw was an eight-year-old Heath Lovelly walking into her life the day her mother died. From that moment on, Heath sticks by her side, slowly becoming her strength, her confidant, and her entire world. What she doesn’t know is, she's his saving grace, too.

Ten years later, Ace is handed another crippling challenge that threatens everything in her almost perfect life. Only, this time, she doesn't turn to Heath, hiding the truth instead. But Heath knows Ace too well and won't back down easily. He's ready to do whatever it takes and will stay by her side until she accepts that their love is the kinda love worth fighting for.

Will he be her forever triumph or her unexpected downfall?

Two lives.

One story.

And an unexpected journey to falling in love.


Sounds awesome right? Well, without further delay, let's check out that cover, shall we:


Isn't it pretty? I love how it's sweet but haunting at the same time. I can tell this story is going to tug at the ol' heartstrings. Can't wait for it's release.

Thanks for letting me a part of the big reveal!

Want to know more about the author?
Priya Kanaparti writes Mature YA and New Adult romance under the name Clara Stone. She lives in the beautiful city of Boise, ID. Unlike what most believe about Idaho, it’s more than a sack full of potatoes. When she’s not writing, you’ll catch Priya reading YA and NA books, mostly romance, and enjoying time with her family. She is a proud CW TV addict.

Her debut novel, Dracian Legacy, is available through Reuts Publications.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | Pinterest

No reveal is complete without a Giveaway. Clara has provided some awesome swag. Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 5, 2014

Quarterly Goal Check - How 'bout them goals?

It’s that time of year: the time where we look around and say, “Omg, it’s May already? Where does the time go?” And if you're like me, April just blew by. WTH, April!

But where the time goes is not as relevant as the fact that it’s gone. Which means there are fewer days, weeks, months to complete our 2014 goals. But don’t worry, this is not cause for alarm. Rather, this is an opportunity to pause, take stock of our progress and correct course if needed.

In my case, major course correction is needed. Because sometime, jumping in head first, isn't enough:

That's not failure. That's just the fact. And it's not necessarily the result of setting the bar too high.You may recall my writerly goals for 2014 were steep, but not impossible. I liked that they were 'stretch' goals and would force me out of my comfort zone. What I didn’t account for was life. Specifically, the rest of my life. I have goals other than writing goals *gasps* there, I said it. But I’m thinking you probably do as well. We are not alone. *stands tall* *Raises fist* *looks around* *am alone in house* *sits back down*

Now, it should be said that goals, and what make a goal a 'stretch' goal, is totally subjective. I’m sure some of you are taking a look at my list of goals and thinking ‘pshh, I could do those in my sleep’ (I’m looking at you Priya, you over-achieving-multi-tasking-sunfish). The goals I selected would be manageable if I threw myself at them – all in, like Mr. Polar Bear above– but I’m learning early this year that I can’t be all in, not right now anyway. There is life outside of writing and I kinda forgot that.

So course correction is necessary. Notice how I used the term 'correction', not 'failure', big difference. Part of my correction will be to include my non writerly goals. That way, I can see the full scope of what I want to accomplish this year. Time is fleeting, and if I want to manage it to the best of my ability I need to see everything that is on my plate. So here it goes (Warning, this is a longish post, so hold on tight):

Writerly Goals for 2014:

· Take 2 writing classes in 2014. This is going to be tough because I’m currently enrolled in a non writerly class right now. Change is needed:

o Course Correction: take at least 1 writing class between Aug – Dec 2014

· Attend 1 conference. This goal is already in the books! I am registered for RWA Nationals in TX! Woot!! I have a blast at this con last year and can’t wait to go back.

o Course Correction: None needed.

· Reach 11000 pages views in 2014. The more I think about it the more arbitrary this goal is. My goal in starting this blog was never to get page views. My goal was to provide useful writing resources to people on the path to publication (like me). Page views are irrelevant. I think I got sucked into the idea of this goal because I love numbers. I love measurements and tracking and trending. (Example, I found that posting before 8 am EST works best for me and reposting 2-3 times a day helps expose my content to more viewers.) It was fun to experiment and watch the number of page views increase. Ultimately, though, page views are irrelevant to my mission so I’m going to drop this goal. As fun as it is to track, this goal caused me a lot of unnecessary stress as I tried to juggle my life and my goals. I’m dumping it.

o Course Correction:dumped to make room for other goals more central to my mission

· Reach 750 followers in 2014. I don’t know how to feel about this goal, either. It’s secondary to my mission as a writer and a blogger. I could easily reach this goal (by going out there and following everyone and anyone who will follow me back *bang* goal accomplished) but the truth is, I don’t want junk in my Twitter (sounds kinda dirty when I say it like that, doesn't it?). I believe followers, the good kind, will come for the right reasons. And frankly, the number of followers is irrelevant to my craft, my finished products, and my other writerly goals so I’m going to dump this one. That’s not to say I wont keep networking. I will. Absolutely. I’ve found so many amazing people through twitter. I’m just not going to network with the goal of growing my own following…because that just seems arbitrary.

o Course Correction:dumped to make room for other goals more central to my mission

· Enter 4 contests in 2014. Now, this is a tough one. I learned something during my tour through the contest world last year: contest fatigue is a real thing. Like anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad. 4 contests, especially if they are all featuring the same MS as an entry can be bad. Revision of this goal is necessary:

o Course Correction:enter at least 2 contests. Beware of participating in more than 3 with the same MS. (This is just a personal thing for me. This is not a rule that all querying writers should follow. I just think avoiding overexposure on the contests circuit is a good thing).

· 3 blogs a week for 21 weeks. This is cray cray and again, completely secondary to my mission. It’s another fun number I can quantify, track, and report but it’s irrelevant to my greater goal of improving as a writer. I got sucked into the whole counting/tracking thing when I had a lot of free time on my hands (during my sabbatical from corporate America, i.e. the great lay-off of 2013). Naturally, I spent that time writing, blogging, and tracking. I don’t have that kind of time or access anymore. I want to spend my words on my stories as much as possible. That’s not to say I wont be blogging. Remember, my mission in starting this whole thing was to get resources to those seeking them. So yeah, I’m going to continue blogging. Just going to scale this goal back a bit.

o Course Correction:blog at least once a week for 21 weeks. Still in line with my mission to bring resources to folks but flexible enough to fit around my life.

· Write 200k words in 2014. I don’t even know what to think about this goal right now. My word counts are low so far – for a number of reasons. But a high word count goal IS in step with my overall writerly goal to improve craft. I think I’m going to keep this goal just to see where I land. There’s no shame in falling short – only in not trying.

o Course Correction: None at this time.

· Finish 2 MS’s in 2014. One down, one to go.

o Course Correction: None at this time.

· 40 books read. Again, this is an insane goal for me considering everything else that is going on in my life. But, I don’t want to discount it because reading is in line with my overall goal of improving as a writer. I think I’m going to keep this one….even though I’m way behind and my TBR pile is huge.

o Course Correction: None at this time.

Running and Fitness Goals for 2014:

· Register for the Dopey Challenge. I hinted about this goal in my March recap post. And if you follow me on Twitter I’m sure you’ve seen my tweets. The Dopey Challenge is a runDisney race featuring a 5k, 10k, Half, and Full Marathon over 4 days. And I’m just dopey enough to try it.

· Train for Dopey challenge. Races like this require A LOT of training and I want to be seriously prepared for this race. Luckily, in true Disney fashion, the folks at runDisney have though of everything. They have a training plan posted online that begins in July. Swing back by the blog from time to time to read my updates on training as part of my run-write series.

· Run a Half during training for time (must be done before Oct). Most of the races I run my only goal is to finish strong. But Disney’s new corral placement system requires proof of time. Since I took so much time off from racing last year I don’t have any certified times ready to submit so I need a race. Should be interesting.

· Switch to water as my primary beverage on July 1. I’m full on addicted to soda. I drink three cans at work. I drink at least one at home at night and I drink coffee in the morning. All of that amounts to a ton of caffeine and very little water. My old friend the-over-caffeinated eye twitch has come back. And if I’m serious about training for this race I need to seriously reconsider my nutrition and hydration. First step, break up with Coke Zero. (*kisses ice-cold can of delicious Coke Zero* Though we may part, I will always carry a special place for you in my heart).

Personal Life Goals for 2014:

· Take class to learn the skills needed to defeat the soul destroying exam scheduled for June. This goal is currently underway. My class meets Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (and then there’s homework on top of that). It’s a big lift considering I’m also working full time, married, and writing.

· Crush soul destroying exam scheduled in June. (*fingers crossed* this goal is on track.)

· Spend more time on the motorcycle with the hubby. Riding on the back terrifies me but I think if I can get over the fear it might actually be fun. This goal is a little vague because we are at the mercy of the weather and my fear. I’d love to say ‘go for a ride with the hubs once a month during the summer’ but I don’t know if that is realistic at all. We shall see.

· Go tubing/beach/kayak/backpacking at least once each this summer. LOL. Okay, so I love being outside. I love the water and the forest. And between the Day Job (DJ) and class and writing I don’t get much time outside doing anything other than running. This goal is made more tough because it requires vacation days. Being new at the DJ I don’t have a ton of vacation days. Between family vacations and the Dopey Challenge most of the days I do have are already spent. But I love being outdoors so this is an important one – and fun.

That’s where I am. Correcting my course to make sure I’m true to myself, my goals, and my commitments. Changing goals (or dumping them altogether) doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It’s the smart thing to do to ensure you succeed at what matters most.

Where are you on your goals for the year?

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