Scribbles and thoughts ...

These are ramblings from J L Wilson, published author of romantic suspense, mystery, and paranormal -time travel fiction....

Saturday, December 03, 2011

It's the end of the blog as we know it ...

I don't think I'll be keeping this blog going much longer. I tend to use my web site-blog (the slog) as my "update" place and because of that, there's not as much need for this one. And to be honest, I'm not sure how much longer I'll be writing. I've lost the heart. Seriously. I'm burned out. No, not burned out. I enjoyed being busy and writing and promoting and traveling and juggling all of that. But I've discovered something that has made me re-evaluate it all: It's just not worth it.

I'm not getting back in money what I put out in time. Normally that wouldn't bother me. I'd say, "well, next year I'll have a bigger payout. Next year I'll have more books out and people will find me and they'll love my books and ..."

It is next year and it ain't happening. I'm mostly to blame, I think. I don't promote as aggressively as I could. I don't write erotica, which is the hot (excuse the pun) seller. Of course, even there I know some authors are struggling.

Let me hasten to say I don't rely on this income in any way except to pay for itself. My writing pays for the promotion (mostly) that I do -- the trips, the ad space and the printed promo I hand out. But it just about barely pays for that.

But more than the money, it's the sense that there's nothing left for me to do in my writing. It's all more of the same, and I'm afraid that's coming through in the characters and plots and settings. I feel like I'm re-hashing. So I'm going to take a 2 year break (you heard it here first). I have 4 books ready to publish. That's 2 a year for the next 2 years. I'll promote the crap out of those and other back list books and see where that gets me.

In the meantime, I'll go back to that Big Sci Fi book I've been wanting to write for so long--that "end of the world" book that has haunted me for 10 years. I'm going to spend the next 2 years writing that series and exploring other possibilities for where I'll spend my energy. Will I learn a new language? Will I learn to do yoga or some other healthy lifestyle thing? What will capture my passion, my attention, my ambition the way my writing used to do?

That will bring me to the end of 2013. I always said I'd try publishing for 10 years. I said that in 2004. So 2014 will be the year I decide: do I keep at it or stop here?

Only time will tell ...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trust (revisited)

I posted a lengthy blog about this at my slog ( check it out. I had 3 events lately that taught me to trust again ... a cool benefit of a vacation, I think.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Oh, sad me

Did I say I'd set Sept. 1 as my "kick off date" for a new schedule?

Oops. I guess I forgot about that. Somehow Stuff got in the way: landscaping, some writing, a lot of Paycheck work, family visits, football season ...

Okay. I'll say it here. On October 1 I'll set my new schedule.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Promotion, summer-style

I am once again thinking about promo. I took a month off while we moved but I'm going to gear up and get back in the swing of it next week. I set Sept. 1 as my "start off with new habits" goal, and I'm contemplating what my goal should be for promo.

It has to be fun, something I'll do, and something that won't annoy me. I really dislike strident "buy me" kinds of promotions, so I'll probably try to figure out something fun, like "Avoid my blog on Fridays, that's when I promote" or something like that. I have a hefty back list I can promote, and that's what I'm going to focus on this fall.

So here's my first blast: the History Patrol series. Buy it (kidding: check it out.) It's got reincarnation, romance, shape-shifters, telepathic animals and great villains (John Dillinger, Jessie James, a mad scientist). Seriously. It's fun and thought-provoking.

And I had a heckuva time writing them, so I hope you appreciate the effort!

But they were fun to write, too....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Road trip!

I'm on the road again, this time going to Minnesota -- what an odd feeling, going FROM Iowa TO Minnesota. This is my first trip back since we moved, and it will be interesting. I'll be staying in a hotel, and it will be a very fast visit: in on Thursday, back on Saturday.

Mixed feelings, for sure. I wanted to drop by our old house and gather seeds from one of the plants in my old garden. I brought those seeds with me from Pittsburgh when we moved, 20 years ago, and the plant should be seeding now. But the buyer of our house has sent a nasty-gram to her realtor, describing how we "deceived" her about the condition of the house.

I don't want to get into details in a public forum. Suffice it to say, there was a house inspection done and we corrected any issues that were brought to our attention. The issues being raised are ones we were unaware of at the time of sale.This whole thing has been very hurtful for us, because we really bent over backward, trying to fix the house up and leave it in great shape for the buyer. We put together lists of info about the house (maintenance things, when we bought what, who to contact about what, how to manage the garden)... very detailed info. My husband spent hours (really, days) of time spackling and painting and cleaning and organizing and checking a million little details. We really felt we were turning over an excellent home -- only to be told ... well, I won't go into details.

Our new home has not been without pitfalls. We've done some repairs we didn't plan on but these things weren't found during the inspection, so that's how it goes. We had an excellent inspector go through the house, but he can't find everything. We expected to spend a bit of cash, and yes, we're spending more than we planned. But it's an older home and that just comes with the territory.

So I won't be able to go to the old neighborhood when I'm in Minn. To be honest, I don't want the chance of a confrontation. That's sad, because I have friends there I'd like to see. I'm hoping, in time the buyer will realize that this is all a part of home ownership. Maybe she's never owned a home before; maybe she got bad advice. Maybe she'll realize that it really is a great little home. Because it is, a nice home on a nice piece of land in a nice neighborhood.

That's why this will be a very odd trip -- a mixture of pleasure and worry. I'm looking forward to being there and also looking forward to coming back here -- because now 'here' is home and, as you know, there's no place like home!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Packing and Publishing

I discovered a surprising correlation between moving and writing as I packed up our house of 19 years and prepared for another move. I've moved a lot in my life (28 times at last count), but this time I really focused on weeding out as I packed. As I did, I was also working on a new book and I found myself comparing the two processes: writing and packing.

The key question I asked myself as I packed was: "do I want to unpack this when I get there? Is there a place for it?" I tried to imagine using that item in the new house. If I wasn't sure, I tossed it.

Okay. Confession. I kept a few things that have memories and will probably stay in a box for a long time, but for the most part, I winnowed it all down to only those things I thought I'd use.

I found that I did the same thing in the book I was writing. I tossed out scenes that just weren't quite right. They were fine as they were, but I didn't think they would move the book where I wanted it to go. I kept in a couple that I'm not sure will stay, but for the most part, I'm editing as I go and I know when I get to the end, I'll have only those scenes that I'm sure will work.

I normally don't edit a lot as I go. I usually slap down a first draft then go back and fix it up. But I think the job of packing made me stop and think as I write, just as I stopped and thought as I packed.

What has been interesting is to see are the consequences of my pack-and-toss method. We've been in the new house for two weeks and every box has at least been opened, if not unpacked. What was surprising?

We moved way too much stuff! Despite all of our efforts to weed out, it seemed like an unending stream of boxes came out of that moving van. And when I unpacked items into my new office, I found myself saying, "Why did I pack that? I could have tossed that and not missed it." I moved research books that I used for previous novels, I moved files and folders and ... stuff. I don't need it. I wanted to have it with me, though.

It made me realize that, a lot of the time, I'll write a scene in my current WIP because I want to write that scene. It may not be useful in that book, but I'm pretty sure I'll use it somewhere, sometime. So I'm not going to restrain myself anymore. I'll write the scene. And maybe when I get to the end and go back to "unpack"(edit) my book, I'll shake my head and say, "What the heck was I thinking?" Then I'll just move that scene to a new folder called "Orphan Scenes" and I'll keep for the next book, or the next one, or the next.

I'll find a place for it -- just like I've found a place for all the things I moved but probably 'shouldn't have.' I suspect at some point in the future, I'll be glad I kept it. And when I get to the next move, maybe by then I can let go of it. 

Or move it ... we'll see!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

the move is done!

We've survived our 250 mile move with 4 cats and a house full of Stuff. Now the fun part starts: unpacking and finding a place for it all!

I'll be back online full time in a few days once the Internet is hooked up. Until then ... go out and read one of my books, don't bother with this blog!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Random updates from the front lines

Time for my once-and-again updating as life continues to toss events my way.

Packing is going very well. We're on target to move in less than a month (eek!) and so far, everything appears to be handled: movers booked, utilities figured out, closing times set. We'll make a trip over the Fourth to drop some 'precious' items at a friend's house (things we don't want the movers to move). Looks like we'll be camping out on air beds for at least 2 nights, and in a hotel one night (with 4 cats: oh, joy).

On the publishing front: 3 books out in the Deadly Landscaping series (see my Mystery blog for those), 2 books out in the History Patrol series (see my Paranormal/Time Travel blog for those), covers done for the next HP book and the next mystery book, edits done for yet another mystery book (to be released later this year), work in progress going well (albeit slowly because of all the packing).

All in all: I'm pleased with where I am at this point. Looking forward to starting a new working life as a telecommuter. I have my health issues mostly managed, and I'm looking forward to new adventures.

Don't know when I'll get chance to update again, but expect to hear from me before we move. Until then: buy a book or two, sit back, and have fun! I'll have more for you in the future....


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Packing and more packing

I'm just going to direct you to my slog (web site blog) to update you on what I'm doing. Go to for details about my new releases, etc..

I have to admit, being under the gun like this has given me an appreciation for "Writing In Between" (my other blog which I swear I will get off the ground soon). I am grabbing minutes here and there to write, and it's hard -- it's hard to get 'in the zone', hard to turn off distractions, hard to find the physical strength to do it.

But you know, it's like a little vacation when I do finally carve out time to write. I get to slip away, visit people in another place, put myself in their shoes. Maybe that's why I'm a writer -- I like those vacations now and again.

I hope to return to regular blogging once the dust of moving is settled. Until then, look here now and again for updates, check my web site for any 'real' news, and stay tuned ... I've got 3 books to release soon, and 2 more I'm editing. I've got a lot of stories to tell...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Packing and Publishing: They're So Much the Same!

I am packing for a move to a new home, 250 miles away. I've got a month or two to get packed, and I've already begun the Big Weed-Out, so I'm not too stressed about getting packed. But I figured I'd get a jump on it over Memorial Day weekend. My move will be bookended by holidays: start packing on Memorial Day and hopefully finish unpacking and be settled by Labor Day.

The best laid plans ... well, we can hope.

As I've been getting rid of Stuff and packing things away, I've discovered that the true test of whether or not to keep an item is when I ask myself, "Do I want to unpack this? Do I know where it will go?" If the answer is "yes" then it gets packed. If I don't know where I'll put it, I set the item aside and consider it for later. If I ask the question a second time and the answer is still 'no', then it goes in the Giveaway Pile.

Writing is like that, too, isn't it? If you write a scene or chapter and it just doesn't feel right, ask yourself: does the book need this scene? Can my book continue on quite happily without it? Do I want to add it to my book and 'unpack it' -- find a place for it? If the answer is "yes" then keep the scene. If the answer is no, tuck that chapter or scene into a file and save it for later. It may come in handy some other day.

Another thing I've discovered has to do with padding. I'm a sparse packer. I don't use a lot packing peanuts or paper. I tend to wrap fragile items in sweaters or clothing and hope for the best. I don't have a lot of really Prized Possessions. I have affection for many things, but if something gets broken, well, I'll probably be peeved then I'll figure out a replacement or do without.

Sort of like in writing, right? If you find yourself padding a scene or a chapter because it's not quite long enough or not 'right', then look at it and see what you can do without. Do you have a lot of peanuts surrounding the action ("peanuts", not ... well, you know!)? Are you treating your characters as though they're so precious they can't be allowed to stand on their own? Knock them down a bit, bounce them around, force them to act without your text holding them up. See who survives and who doesn't. They'll come out stronger for it, I can guarantee.

And lastly, pacing. I've moved a lot in my life (at last count, about 25 times in 40 years). I like to dig in and get a bunch of packing done 'ahead of time' because I know as we approach our move date something will go wrong -- or right -- and those best laid plans will go awry. Maybe our closing date will move up a few days. Maybe I'll have a new deadline at work (yes, I am still working full-time while writing and packing). Maybe the movers will need to accelerate the loading date. Maybe ... so I started a bit early, knowing that if I pack 2-4 boxes a day, I'll probably have a nice cushion of time in which I can 'relax' (yeah, right. Relax during a move to a new state? Dream on!)

Pacing is important in your writing life, too. There are times when you need to write and times when it's best to just take a bit of a break. Pace yourself. Dig in, work a bit on it every day (even if it's just some editing or a few tweaks here and there, the packing equivalent of 'I'll pack the coat closet today'). If you give it some of your effort every day, it will get done and you won't have that panicked feeling as you look at the calendar and realize how much time has passed. Set a goal and aim for it.

And hope that the best laid plans do not go awry!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The 7 year itch

I think there's something to that idea, that every 7 years we need a change. It seems like every time I take up something new, I spend about 7 years going at it very intensively.

Needlework: I spent quite a few years learning, perfecting, and entering contests. Then when I won enough ribbons, I quit.

Gardening: I spent about 7 years getting a college degree in horticulture, and about that long doing some intensive landscaping. Then I slacked off.

Writing: I've been at it now since 2003, and it's starting to lose its appeal. I'm in my 5th year of publishing, and the enthusiasm is starting to wane.

What will be the next Thing? Where will I put my energy in the next decade?

I can't wait to find out ... I'll probably still write, still do some needlepoint, do a bit of gardening. But what will be that New Thing that will fire me with enthusiasm?

Stay tuned as we all find out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Update update update

House sold. Buyer viewed it on 2 weeks ago, on Tuesday.

Made offer on Friday.

We countered/re-countered on Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Signed the papers a week ago, on Monday.

Got last bit of paperwork on last inspection on new house last Tuesday.

Now it's Tuesday and the inspection is being done on our current house.

Yep. I'd say we're moving ...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mega House News, and other news

Let's see:

Books out so far this year: 4. 4 more to go. Yes, 8 books. Some are back list reprints, but they're new releases as far as I'm concerned.

House bought: in Cedar Rapids (Iowa). Move-in date: July 21.

House ALMOST sold in Minnesota. Move-out date: July 20. Have to negotiate price (I think we'll manage to find a good price for all concerned), inspection, yada yada.

So what am I doing sitting here blogging? I should be packing, or promoting, or writing....


Saturday, April 02, 2011

I am too damn busy for words

We're buying a new house, 300 miles away.

We're prepping our house for sale.

I have 3 books releasing, back-to-back (April, May, June).

I work full-time.

Enough said! I'll return to regular blogging when life gets regular.

Oh, but here's a fun thing:

A new book!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Move update

Move, you ask?

Yes, "move," I say. My husband and I are contemplating a move to another state. We've lived in Minnesota for 20 years, which is the longest I've ever stayed in one place. There are a lot of circumstances coming together that make it simpler for us to move now, rather than later, so we're starting the search for a new home. We may build, we may buy, we may stay put. We'll see what happens.

What happened the last time we moved (20 years ago) was we said, "Well, let's toss out some resumes and see if anyone is interested." Within a month my husband had 3 job offers. So we put our house on the market and it sold in 48 hours.

Whoops. Looks like we're moving! That year we moved 4 times (once to an apartment, one to another apartment when the first apartment was involved in a building fire, once to a house and once to a second house). We've stayed put since then, but we're both getting the itch to try something new, so...

We'll see what happens! Stay tuned here for updates as life sorts itself out.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Politics ... again

I've been watching the Wisconsin events with interest. While I consider myself a liberal, in this case I think I side with the conservatives. I've long thought that unions are out of control in our country and I somewhat admire the governor for sticking to his guns.

I've never belonged to a union. I never had a guaranteed job. I never had a guaranteed salary. I've never had tenure. I understand why those guarantees were needed -- years ago. But I don't think unfair labor practices abound any more, not enough to justify what unions can demand. I don't think the benefit outweigh the abuses any more.

I've talked to so many parents who have pulled their kids from public schools because of poor teaching. Administrators have their hands tied when it comes to getting good people and keeping them and when it comes to getting rid of people who aren't performing adequately. I've seen it in colleges -- I was married to a professor and believe me, I've seen it in practice there. I've seen it with public employees. There are a lot of very good, dedicated employees and there are a lot who are slackers. In a place without unions, those people probably wouldn't have jobs. And that's how it should be, isn't it?

Why are people in unions afraid to stand on their own merit? Are those careers and people who evaluate performance really so biased? Are the labor practices so unfair? It seems like we have government oversight of just about every aspect of our lives. Surely abuses don't persist, do they?

I'm just not sure about this. It sounds like "I deserve a job" to me. It sounds like "I deserve to be taken care of." No one has ever guaranteed a job or a salary for me. Why do you deserve it? What makes your job so different? Why can't you be evaluated based on merit?

I just don't get it, not in today's age.

Monday, February 14, 2011

yes, it's confirmed: I don't belong here

I just got back from a visit to my hometown. This is the first time back since my Mom's funeral, and I wasn't sure how it would feel. After all, it's not really 'home' any more, is it?

Nope. It is home. Yes., it was odd being there without seeing her. But it also felt right -- that's my home, where I grew up, where my friends still live. I have friends here, but there's no friend like an old friend and I have several there. I love walking around town, I love the layout of the place, I like the feel.

It confirmed for me what I've been considering for a long time. I don't belong here. I belong there.

Now to make it happen.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Back in town and ready to work

I just got back from Love Is Murder, a great little conference in Chicago. I know: Chicago in February. Argh! But despite the mild travel headaches, it's a great conference.

Why? I've been thinking a lot about this lately, and I think LIM has the 3 things I really want in a conference:
the chance to interact with readers, one on one
a small group of authors, some with small press and others 'big' names: a nice mix of authors
a relaxed atmosphere, where I can hang out with readers and my peers

I'm tired of conferences that are all about promotion, or conferences where there's an "us" vs. "them" mentality (the Big Guys and the Small Guys).

Yep. Because of this weekend, I'm rethinking my conference plans for the year. What a great side effect from a good weekend!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Okay. Now back to our regularly scheduled program

I launched my new web site/slog -- a web site blog.

I'm not sure if it'll fly or not. I think there are still some kinks to work out. But after three days of transferring files, I think it's Good Enough.

That's an important distinction to make. It ain't perfect and I know it, but for now, it'll do. Someday (I know, I know: roll your eyes) someday I'll go ahead and have a pro design a web site for me. Someday I won't listen to my spouse when he says, "why don't you just ..." And Someday... well, you get the idea.

Anyway, there it is: Poke at it and tell me if it's broken. If it is, I'll try to fix it. And stay tuned. It will probably change, and often. I find I enjoy tweaking things like web sites, blogs, etc.

No, no! Back to writing!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pretend this is a web site

As you can tell, I still don't have a real web site yet. I'm getting bids from various designers, but it looks like it will be at least a month or so before I get something up and running. I am not in panic mode. Let's face it, I'm blogging here, there and everywhere a lot, I have this space to announce Stuff, and I'm not Nora and don't have adoring fans screaming for information about me (whew). So hang tight and a web site will appear someday.

Until then: minor news. I'm teaching a class in the Twin Cities. Come on out and join me: .Trust me: we'll have a lot of fun and you'll learn something. Win-win!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Here it is! My latest book

Yep, the last book in the New Human series is here. Right here in digital and right here in print. In another week or so it will be on Amazon.

This book concludes Dru and Jak's story that was started in Living Proof. In Leap, they have to save the New Humans, deal with a plot to overthrow the government and figure out how to introduce the human/machine 'blends' into the population.

Oh. And Dru needs to figure out how to trust Jak again.

It's going to take a leap of faith to make it all work.

Monday, January 03, 2011

I'm starting to like this ...

I like the idea of a streamlined blog. Not necessarily the way my blog looks as a web site. But I'm experimenting with some templates and some ideas. I think I'll stick with using a blog to update my web site. No more Front Page for me!

In the new for this week: a new release. Yepper, a book comes out on Friday. So I'll be back then with release news. Until then, I'm going to try to figure how to link to files in Google Docs. If I can figure that out, I may be able to use Google as my web site. I'm trying to figure that out in between writing the new book, submitting edits for 2 books, researching doing some self-publishing, working full-time and ...

Yep. Someday I'll have all the time in the world. Just not this week....