Don’t Feel Bad If You’re a Workspace Slob

One of my small pleasures is scrolling through Instagram and drooling over other people’s workspaces.

Why? Because seriously, what a weird thing.

For me, it’s deskinspo. Perfectly laid out creative space. Clear and organized and color-coordinated and well lit.

I imagine this is probably not dissimilar to people who scroll through Instagram and get hung up on practically any variable of “perfect”:

bodies, faces, clothes, cars, lifestyle, kitchens, food, etc, etc.

Mine just happens to be desks and their surrounding areas.

And just like how some are looking for inspiration (or let’s be honest, self-shame) because their personal reality is far-flung from these perfect picture ideals, I too dream of what life might be like to step into the frame of a feng-shuied office.

Because my reality is usually more:

Pens, dirty coffee cups, scraps of sticky notes, fidgets…it’s a mess.

I do try to clean it up every few days, but disaster generally moves back in within a few hours.

And yet, I still manage to get work done amongst all this chaos.

So if you’re like me and it feels impossible to keep your workspace tidy and Instagram ready, I’m here to tell you you’re not alone.

Now I think about it, maybe we slobs actually get more done this way?

Then again, maybe I just like to rationalize my poor office habits.

Thinking About the Future?

I had a virtual chat with an author friend the other night. Which was lovely even if the mood was somber and we struggled to find joyous topics right now.

But I expect that is to be expected, right?

Anyway, one topic that came up was the difficulty of thinking about, or planning for, the future right now. Normally, I love looking forward to a new year and all the goals I’ll set for myself and my career.

Right now? I for one find it really hard to wrap my head around what I’ll be doing in six months.

One weird side-effect of 2020 is the absolute necessity of living day-to-day. Every day there is this sense that the world, my life, could be radically different (and probably not in a good way) than it was when I woke up.

For better or worse, this really has forced the “live in the present” mentality to move beyond being a meditation goal and into an actual way of life.

Because what other choice do we have? Live on your toes, bob and weave, fall down, get back up, live to fall over another day.

Still, I know I have hope. At least a little bit because I wrote down some vague goals for 2021. They’re not measurable, and definitely not SMART, but they are some things to look forward to. Some things to try and accomplish in the new year.

It may be hard to imagine right now, but the future is still coming. I’m working on focusing it into a positive form.

Email Purge

Do you ever start off doing one simple thing that then becomes an epic quest you never intended to start?

Yesterday, facing an email account with over 18,000 emails (mostly unread junk) I decided to start unsubscribing my account from a few retailers.

Which led to searching for and deleting those emails.

Which led to more unsubscribing.

Which led to more searching and deleting.

Which led to a laser focus and the need to complete this task in its entirety before I could ever sleep again.

This morning, I woke up to four new emails–FOUR! Usually, there are at least thirty just to get the day started, and those are followed by a steady stream of noise, noise, noise pinging me all day long.

So this morning, I unsubscribed from one, read one, and deleted the other two. And for the rest of today, and every day from now on, I want to avoid ever having so much junk in my email ever again.

It feels good to have a tidy email box. Like having a tidy house.

And it’s also got me thinking about contributing to the noise in other people’s mailboxes. I’m not saying I’ll never send another newsletter again–I am trying to sell some books here, after all.

But I think I’d like it to be a rare occurrence. Only when something is really, really going on around here. Like a book releasing into the world.

I didn’t realize how much the digital garbage had piled up or how much that clutter was impacting my physical energy until I got rid of it.

They’re just emails–but every one of them was competing for my time and attention, forcing me to wade through them for information and messages that I truly need.

Maybe it sounds silly, but it actually feels amazing to have it cleaned up.

Writing a New Book

With The Secret Next Door now back with my editor for second round edits, a new book idea has planted itself in my head.

I was reluctant to start this new book for some reason but I didn’t really know why.

Maybe I was a little tired from just finishing The Secret Next Door?

Maybe I was a little burned out from my day job?

Maybe it was because I was scared to commit to a new book.

All of this was true. But I think it was also because when I start a new book, there is a lot of thinking and planning for the future of that book that gets baked into the process.

As we close out 2020 it’s been difficult to think and plan for the future. I’m looking forward to 2021, I have hope that things will get better and better–a little more every month.

But it’s true that right now, nothing yet seems solid. So when I envision a future that includes a potential new book finding its place, the image is still fuzzy at best.

However, the book has begun anyway. In hope and faith.

Which is actually how any book ever really gets written anyway.

My Next Book…

I’m excited to share with you information about my next book!

I already shared this with my newsletter subscribers weeks ago, and they’ll also be the first to see the new book cover once my publisher finishes with it. If you’d like to be among the first to get these updates, here is the link to subscribe.

If you’re on the fence about subscribing, I only manage to send about one update a month. So it’s really not too crazy-making with gobs of emails.

Now, about the new book.

In my last newsletter, I shared lots of insider dirt about the original title, how I came up with it, and how and why my publisher thought we should change it. So I won’t go into all that again here. I’ll just share the title we landed on, and the current blurb (which will also likely change).

So here it is. Publication is currently scheduled for October 2021.

The Secret Next Door

It’s a perfect neighborhood, filled with imperfect people.

Alyson Tinsdale is giving her son the childhood she never had: a stable family, a loving home, and a great school in a safe neighborhood. When they move into the home of her dreams in one of Denver’s most sought after neighborhoods, The Enclave, Alyson works hard to fit in, and impress, the other mothers—despite the growing sense she’s out of her league among their affluent social clique.

Bonnie Sloan is The Enclave’s matriarch. Her family built this neighborhood. With her oldest son headed to Yale and her youngest starting kindergarten, Bonnie is now pursuing her own long-held political aspirations—a Colorado senate seat. But it’s her middle child, Elijah, and their private family struggles, that cast a shadow over her plans.

When the open space behind some of the most expensive homes in the community gets slated for development into an amusement facility, Extreme Golf, the neighborhood becomes deeply divided on the issue. The Enclave community page suddenly erupts with long-held grudges, grievances, and verbal abuse. Seemingly overnight, Alyson’s dream neighborhood has devolved into a war zone while her once stable marriage is fracturing before her.

The personal pressures and community conflicts ratchet with every passing day, but it’s when a thirteen-year-old is found dead beside the neighborhood lake, that simmering tensions boil over into panic.

Gossip flows, lies are exposed, and accusations are made as cracks run through the once solid Enclave foundations. The community’s faith in exterior appearance is eclipsed by the secrets every house keeps. 

If you’re on Goodreads, please add The Secret Next Door to your “want to read” shelf here!

Win a Signed Copy of Her Perfect Life on Goodreads!

I’m giving away 5 signed copies of Her Perfect Life on Goodreads! Click the link below to enter! Good luck and happy reading!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Her Perfect Life by Rebecca  Taylor

Her Perfect Life

by Rebecca Taylor

Giveaway ends October 17, 2020.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Author Interview with Kristi Helvig

Today I’m thrilled to feature author Kristi Helvig. Kristi is not only a wonderful author, she’s also one of my dear writer friends and a frequent attendee of all those writer brunches and author retreats I love going to.

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist turned sci-fi/fantasy author. Her latest book, KILLER POINTE (Dark Edge Publishing) is an urban fantasy about a teen ballerina who plans to fund her dreams of attending Juilliard by serving as an assassin in a parallel fairy tale world. Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, two kiddos, and behaviorally-challenged dogs.

Q: What inspired you to write Killer Pointe?

A: As a dance mom (but not like the kind pictured in the show), I’ve sat through countless ballet productions and dance competitions for my daughter who does ballet, jazz, contemporary, musical theater, lyrical and hip hop. She is in 8th grade and dances at least 20 hours per week, so I think many people don’t realize how intense dance is compared to other activities and how much strength is involved. It was entertaining one day to watch my daughter challenge her brother (a competitive athlete) to a plank-holding competition and blow him away. I’ve been so inspired by the dedication and commitment it takes to be a dancer and this book is dedicated to all the dancers in the world.

Q: Did you have to do any particular research for this book?

A: Yes, and I relied on one of my sisters who went to a school of the arts for ballet for high school and then danced professionally with a ballet company before going back to get her doctorate degree in physical therapy. Specifically, I needed a ballet move that could take down a bad guy. My sister knew of a woman who fended off a would-be attacker in New York with the same dance move I ended up using in the book. It was a fun scene to write.

Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

A: Most weekends, I’m usually found at the aforementioned dance competitions or at our son’s baseball games (he’s a pitcher). When I have rare downtime, I am usually curled up on the couch with my rescue greyhounds and a good book.

Q: What does your writing routine look like?

A: Every morning, my husband and I get up at 5:30am to take an hour walk. I am NOT a morning person, so this was a difficult habit to start but now I love it. It clears my head and gets the creative juices flowing. When I get back, I sit down with a cup of coffee and do a 5-10 minute meditation to get centered and then start writing. On weekdays, this gives me about an hour to write before I start my day job (I’m a Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist) and I shoot for 1K words each day. On the weekends, I can usually find larger blocks of time—last Sunday I wrote 4K and was happy with that. Sometimes, I read about these authors who crank out 10K words in a day and I’m just amazed. For now, I’ve learned to be happy with where I am. 1K is better than no K. 😊

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to publication?

A: Sure. I queried what became my first published book, a sci-fi called Burn Out, to agents and was lucky enough to receive several offers of representation and chose an agent who was perfect for that book. That book and its sequel, Strange Skies, were bought by Egmont USA and I had a wonderful experience with everyone on that publishing team and can’t say enough good things about that whole process. However, shortly after my first book was published, Egmont USA was closed down by their parent company, Egmont UK. I learned so much going through all of that and about the publishing industry in general. Ultimately, I decided to part ways with my agent (who is awesome and I adore her) but I felt strongly that I wanted to do my own thing and she was very supportive and even managed to get the rights back to those two books for me (not an easy thing to do) after another publisher had obtained them from Egmont. So, that’s how Dark Edge Publishing came about. It’s been a blast—and also a ton of work. I love it though and really enjoy the creative control. I’m not averse to traditional publishing but it would take a lot to get me to give up the rights to my work again.

Q: Any advice for writers considering going indie?

A: Oh wow, that would be days of blog posts for all that advice. Most importantly, I would say to treat it like a business because is it. You don’t just write stories—you write ad copy, commission covers (if you don’t make them yourself), hire editors (please do this as you want your book to be as professional as possible), and of course, you build a readership and market the books. You wear so many hats as an indie that it can get overwhelming at times so be patient with yourself and hire out what you can afford, or don’t want to do. Take courses on marketing (there’s a great free one for how to do Amazon ads or Mark Dawson has a great paid course on Ads for Authors). And have fun with it—it’s not easy and some days will definitely be a grind—but you’re making up stories and getting paid for it. What could be better than that?

From the publisher: Dark Edge Publishing

Here are the two most important things to know:

1. I am going to be a professional dancer.
2. Every fairy tale you’ve ever read is a lie.

A prince didn’t rescue Rapunzel from her ivory tower nor did a huntsman save Little Red Riding Hood from a voracious wolf.

I did.

The men might get all the credit for it but I’m the one who makes bank. Sure, the official versions of these stories are altered in books but I’m good with that. I have bigger goals—like Juilliard School type goals.

Shifting between my world, with its ballet classes and homework, to the parallel world of Liralelle, with its witches and trolls, can be jarring at times but I’ve gotten the hang of it. That is, until the day a troll crashes my Sleeping Beauty audition and I’m asked to kill the most fearsome witch of all. Yet the pay for this final job will cover my entire Juilliard tuition—if only I can live long enough to make it there.

About Book Reviews

Writers can have a pretty broad swath of feelings about the reviews that come in for our books. I belong to several different, very private, writer groups where we can unload how we really feel about these critiques that roll in for our work. And I have witnessed, on a regular basis, the toll the ever-dreaded one-star review can have on an author’s self-confidence.

Over the years, I myself have experienced both elation and despair over public opinions of my writing.

Yesterday, a writer friend posted a link to Lionel Shriver’s latest Times review of Private Means by Cree LeFavour. In it, she uses many words in order to yawn over this fiction debut. Which left many of my writer friends wondering, why? And to what end? After reading it, and wondering what could possibly motivate a person to write a review like this, and quite frankly, most of the “meh” reviews in general, this is my current takeaway.

I believe nearly all reviews, both professional and novice, tell you far more about the individual reviewer than they ever do about the book. It is a singular lens into that one individual’s psyche. The book is simply the filter.

It’s impossible to know what a reader is bringing to the equation. Their particular pet peeves, experiences, mood, current circumstances…triggers. And so, in the end, writers should worry most about what they think and feel about their own work. Once your book is already out in the world, resist the hot wind of others’ opinions–it is a danger that may blow you off your charted course.

What I’m Reading Now: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This was one of my Book of the Month picks last month. It has been sitting in my office while I finished writing the current book. I was so tempted to dig in, but I held strong while I finished writing first!

I’ve heard such great buzz about this one…can’t wait to start.

From the publisher: Del Rey

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.   

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. 

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Want to make sure you never miss a blog post? Subscribe in the right sidebar and have them delivered to your inbox. –>>