The Art and Habit of Balance

Have you ever watched someone on a unicycle? It's incredible the amount of balance required by their body to stay upright in the beginning. There is much weebling and wobbling and often some falls. But once the skill is mastered, the uni-cyclist works without thinking. Muscles in the body respond that otherwise were untrained, freeing up the mind of the rider to enjoy the scenery.
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Lately, I've felt a bit like that uni-cyclist, or maybe a better analogy would be a juggler. And I'm sure I'm not alone. Who doesn't feel that constant pressure to perform, and perform well, at every task undertaken? We want to be the best employee or leader, the best parent or spouse or child or friend that we can. And
those aren't bad things. It's wonderful to want to try the hardest you can and do the absolute best job that you can. But is it possible?

I've learned that for me, it's not.

Reading a book some time ago on time management, the author said something like this: "Remember that when you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else." That's scary powerful. And it's true--but as a self-described yes-woman, it's hard (really, really hard) to say no to things and people.

Lately, I've been feeling a little like that beginner uni-cyclist. Tipping too far to one side (striving to be successful as an author) means that other things in my life that are more important (family, my health--mental and physical) have been tipping the other direction. The harder I worked to keep the stupid unicycle upright, the more out of control it felt. So, I decided, it was time for a new plan.

It's easy (incredibly easy) to use tools that supposedly make our lives easier (social networking=great way to stay in touch! computers=make life easier and paper-free! *yeah, right.) and have them instead become the ones calling the shots. Have you ever been having a conversation with someone maybe over dinner or a glass of wine, only to be intruded upon by the ping of their smart phone? And who can resist taking a quick peek? Or what about when we pop onto the laptop "just for a minute" to check our email and emerge from an internet-related, dazed bunny trail an hour later?

I appreciate technology and all that it can do for us. In many ways it does make life easier and definitely more  convenient. But I'm starting to see more clearly how and why I'm using technology in my day-to-day life and what its effects are. While I love the way it allows me to connect with readers and friends and other writers, I need to keep in mind that while that connection is good, it also means that there is something in my "real life" I'm disconnecting with in order for it to happen.

It's also, I've discovered, a great way to productively procrastinate (a term I learned last week while listening to a great podcast on Rocking Self Publishing. Productive procrastination (things like checking email or Facebook or Twitter, making quick phone calls, or spending a little downtime sort of researching for a writing project and sort of just piddling around) make us feel like we're really doing something. It's a great feeling to check things willy nilly off of one's to-do list. But at the end of the day,  how many hours or chapters did we put into our next novel? How much time did we spend in reflection, allowing our brains time to daydream and maybe come up with our next great idea? When we're constantly "doing" we often
lose out on "being."

What do you think? Do any of the above descriptions define you? How do you productively procrastinate and what have you tried to bring more balance into your life? Please tell us about it in the comments section.


Taking it to the Street

Whew--what a busy few weeks it's been! Busy but great. I love attending author events and meeting new people, as well as seeing familiar faces.

This past Saturday I attended the Vermont Women's Expo for the first time ever.What a show! The organization that must have gone into this event was truly impressive and everything ran so smoothly. It was lovely seeing all the smiles and hearing girlfriends, moms and sisters chuckling and chatting throughout the day.
Table at the Vermont Women's Expo
In the next few weeks I have several other author events so it might be a bit quiet here on Scared E Cat (insert crickets chirping here). However, you can always keep up to date with me on Facebook, Twitter or shoot me an email at scaredEcat (at) gmail (dot) com. I love getting mail, real or electronic.

Last week I passed the halfway point for the third novel (!), which is as yet unnamed. This story, another Green Mountain Thriller, is also set in Franklin County. The heroine, Tatum "Tayt" Waters, is a bounty hunter who gets caught up in trying to solve a murder involving her estranged father.

As I look forward into the next chapter (pun intended) of my writing career, I see that I am going to need some help. I absolutely LOVE writing. Love it. However, my writing time has to be balanced with all the other aspects of being an author (promotion, administrative tasks, accounting, design, etc.) and there just aren't enough hours in the day! That's where a Street Team comes in.

Newsletter subscribers just learned all about this idea but here's a quick synopsis: I'm looking for approximately 10 member for my "secret society"--we'll connect via our own secret group on Facebook mostly and via email at other times. I'll be posting "missions" for you to accomplish within a set time frame (maybe a week or a month) and then getting your feedback on how it went.

It might be something like handing out bookmarks at local bookstores, or asking if Dark Circle teabags can be left with a local spa or salon. Or it could be online missions, like mentioning to online book-friends that you've enjoyed Dark Circle or Epidemic (if you have, that is!) and encouraging them to give it a try. In return, the Street Team will receive my eternal thanks along with little gifties (chocolate, coffee, tea, maple popcorn?) and most likely Advanced Reader Copies (also called ARCs) of the next book(s).

Interested? Sign up for the newsletter to stay up-to-date with details or use any of the contact methods I mentioned above to get in touch. And please feel free to spread the word! I only have room for 10 people at present (and actually, one of the slots was just filled, so there are nine left), but may have room for more later.

PS If you have a catchy name for our Secret Society or Street Team, please let me know in the comments section below. Thanks!  :)


Book Signing & Author Events (Plus, Prize Pack Winner Announced!)

Donna Howard, owner of The Eloquent Page
It was great to once again be invited to sign books and chat with fellow book-lovers at The Eloquent Page, a beautiful new and used book shop in the heart of downtown St.Albans, Vermont. We had a lot of fun and readers posed some great questions. It turned into a standing-room-only event which was thrilling! Many wonderful people braved the arctic temps and stopped by for chatting, book signing and snacks. Thank you, Donna, for the excellent job you did! 

Here are just a few photos from the event: 

AND of course, we need to announce the winner of March 1st's Prize Pack giveaway! This was a contest for NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS only. (Aren't on the newsletter list yet? You can sign up quickly by clicking the tab on the right or by clicking here. I send out newsletters no more than once a month on average, usually less, so you don't need to worry about getting spammed.) 

I had a little help (pun intended) by this guy who chose the winning name from the bowl. 

And the winner is . . . .

Stephanie R., from Tampa, FL! Congrats Stephanie--I'll be sending your prize pack out soon. Thanks for playing everyone! 


"And the Goodreads Winners Are . . ."

Congratulations to Nora J and Chrissy A, the two winners of 'Dark Circle' via the Goodreads giveaway contest!

Your books will be sent out very soon, along with some fun "swag."

Didn't win this time? Don't worry--there will be more contests. I love giving stuff away.   :)


Guest Post: Kingdom Books, Mysteries: Classic to Cutting Edge

So pleased to be a guest today over at Kingdom Books, managed by the gracious and great writer, Beth Kanell. Please pop over for a quick minute and see how I answered Beth's questions about believing in ghosts, the story behind the story of 'Dark Circle' and how much research is enough when writing a novel.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and please check out the interview here--and it would be lovely if you'd leave a comment for Beth.  :)

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Win Free Cookies! (And a Copy of Dark Circle)

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Ahem. Now that I've gotten your attention. . . just wanted to share that if you've yet to sign up for the free newsletter, now would be a good time. On March 1st I'm holding a special drawing ONLY for newsletter subscribers.

What will the winner get, you ask?

  • A shiny, brand new copy of 'DARK CIRCLE' (signed and personalized, if you wish)
  • Tea
  • Bookmarks
  • Cookies
Register now and I promise not to take any nibbles off the cookies before I send them off to you. Wait a day or two and, well, I can't promise anything.  :) 


Dark Circle is published!

Wheeeeeee~so happy to share Dark Circle with you, dear readers!!! I'm really, really excited about this book (can you tell? That's three exclamation points in a row)--and I'm really happy that you're here to find out more about it.

Here's the blurb from the back cover:

When Sarah Solomon and her husband, Cole, move to northwestern Vermont, it's to get a fresh start. But strange things are happening in their gated community. 
Whey are the new neighbors so hostile? Is Sarah, recovering from a psychiatric stay,  imagining these things? When she stumbles upon an old  Abenaki woman in the woods, Sarah unravels the community's mysterious past. And  secrets are dug up that dangerous people want very much to stay buried.  

Right now it's for sale via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local library (please ask for a copy!) and it will hit local stores here in Vermont next week. Kindle version coming soon. I'll keep you posted on that. Where else do you like to buy books? Nook? iTunes? Other?  Please weigh in--would love to hear from you.
Yay! It's here! Hooray!
If you want a chance to win a copy, don't forget to enter the Goodreads giveaway. Plus, if you sign up for my newsletter (at right) you can enter to win a copy as well (odds are much better with the newsletter since there is a smaller number of you!). Sign up before March 1st though, as that's the date for the drawing.

Thanks again for your continued support. I appreciate it so much.  :)