Life Means Chaos – Writer Seeks Serenity by Nancy Fraser – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nancy will be awarding a $15 GC to winner’s choice of an online book retailer to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and another randomly drawn winner will be awarded a Reader’s Coffee Mug (US/Canada – $5 GC for international winners). Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Life Means Chaos … Writer Seeks Serenity

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
~~~Reinhold Niebuhr

The beginning of Niebuhr’s serenity prayer is probably one of the most recognized and shared passages in all the world, and one of the most beautiful at that. As an author, I understand the power of the written word … the impact it can have, good and bad, on a reader. And, while I don’t liken the romances I write to something as profound as The Serenity Prayer, I do love to hear a reader say, “I got lost in the story”, “I put my feet up with a cup of coffee and just relaxed”, and “I loved this book!” – while neither accolade is life affirming by any means, they are still my contribution to an over-worked mother’s few moments of peace and quiet, or a reader’s search for a Happily Ever After! And, heaven knows, we need as many of those as we can get.

I’ve been seriously writing romance for over twenty years and a good portion of those years were spent juggling a full time job as well. Last December 13th, I retired from the outside grind. I was ecstatic … I could finally be what I wanted to be … a full time writer! Despite the outside work schedule, I’d managed to publish four books in 2013, and visions of four or more for 2014 sat perched on the edge of my subconscious like a hummingbird on his fourth cup of coffee.

Then, when I least expected it, life intervened and altered my plans, encroached on my serenity. My elderly cousin passed away. He and I were the last two immediate family members on my mother’s side. So, just six days short of the holiday, my two wonderful sons and I set out on a 1300 mile drive from Atlantic Canada to Dearborn Heights, Michigan, so that I could ‘accept that thing I couldn’t change’ … my responsibility to my family, including my appointment as my cousin’s trustee.

The evening of the 23rd, we reversed course and set out for home, hopeful we’d make it in time for my sons to be with their families and me to be with my grandchildren for Christmas. As they had on our drive down, the weather stations warned of ice storms, blowing snow and bad roads. And, again, we managed to beat the odds. At ten-thirty on Christmas Eve, we arrived home. It was a bittersweet holiday, given where we’d just been, but a joyous one in the fact that we were all together.

When I turned on my computer the evening of the 25th, the first thing staring at me was a reminder that my project calendar needed updating … my carefully executed “writer’s guide to writing everything” as I like to call it! I’d missed two self-imposed deadlines and was sorely unprepared for the next one. As I sat there staring at the missed deadlines, the black hole in my per-day word count, I realized one very simple thing: the words will wait! The muse has accepted that serenity comes and goes and is willing to wait while life haphazardly throws obstacles in its way!

As writers, we all envision that perfect work space, the uninterrupted hours of writing. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t happen that way. If you’re anything like me, life looks at our well-honed plans and laughs … on a fairly regular basis.

How do we get around these obstacles? How do we created that perfect nirvana for our muse?

First, and foremost, we have to set boundaries (something I’m still working on). Family and friends need to realize that writing isn’t just a hobby, it’s a profession. And, when done right, a decent paying profession.

Second, we need to organize ourselves. Whether it’s a schedule like my “guide to writing everything”, or it’s the physical layout of our writing space, it needs stability.

Third, we need to minimize online socializing to save time. Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest (among others) can be terrible time sucks. Yet, in this day of so many good books and so little time, we need to promote ourselves as much as we can and as often as we can without taking away from our writing.

I’d like offer up a few suggestions, if I may, of things that work for me.

1. Boundaries: Be flexible and realistic. Create yourself a work schedule, whether it’s full time or part time. Just as any employed person would have set hours, so should a writer. Depending on the outside pressures you must face, sometimes it’s best to schedule days off. Don’t expect to be able to write every day. It can become creatively crippling when you’re forced out of your schedule. Personally, I commit one weekday (usually the middle of the week) to errands and business and one weekend day to family. I find if I pre-schedule my free time, my writing time tends to flow smoother.

2. Organization: If you’re fortunate enough to have an office, make sure it’s set up for maximum efficiency. Remove any interruptions that take away from your writing. Keep your space neat and tidy, it’s easier to work in an organized space. Plus, clutter can derail the muse. You shouldn’t be thinking about the dust bunnies under your desk or on the bookshelf when you should be seducing your hero (or heroine).

It’s also important to organize your work files. When you first begin a project, take the time to set up computer files so that everything has its place. One of the things I set up almost immediately is a media/promotional file for each book. There I store ideas for FB posts, tweets, excerpts, the final blurb, a list of my media contacts, and buy links (once they’re available). I like to think of it as a Walmart for my creativity … one-stop shopping when I’m ready to begin promotion.

3. Online promotion: Part of your writing schedule should include promotion time. Think of scheduling this time the way you would coffee breaks at an outside job. Fifteen minutes in the morning, half an hour when you’re ready to break for lunch, another 15-30 minutes after you’re done writing. I had a fairly new writer ask me once, “How do you ignore social media while you write?” The easy answer: I turn it off. I close all social media programs when I write. If I find myself tempted, I’ll even go so far as to shut off my router. The social networking will also benefit from the “media kit” (mentioned above) to help cut time from your online presence.

These are only suggestions, of course, but they work well for me and allow me the balance between my writing, other obligations, and the all-important time with my family. Writing is an isolating business … it has to be if you’re going to write the best possible book. However, isolation doesn’t mean we should all become hermits. I know my creativity would suffer greatly if I didn’t have those hours/days with my friends and family.

Despite the pressure last year’s events caused me, I did manage to make my goal of four new releases this year, as well as an extra re-release of a previous novella. As we ease into the last quarter of 2014 and look forward to the coming year, I’ve set my goals even higher for next year. Now, if my muse will cooperate and life will run smoothly, I should make it with time to spare.

11_5 Cover_The MusePrivileged Hyde Park socialite, Susan Leland, wants more from life than being a rich man’s daughter. She wants excitement, daring, but most of all, she wants to explore her sexuality. A chance meeting with artist Evan Forrester, a man she’d met purely by ‘accident’ months earlier, leads Susan on a journey of sensual discovery that not only includes the handsome Evan, but also sultry torch singer, Holly Winters. Together, the singer and the artist uncover Susan’s utmost desires and unleash her inner vamp.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Susan tapped lightly on the solid oak door leading to Evan Forrester’s downtown loft. The building was old, in parts dilapidated and smelling of mold. The three-story climb to his studio had been precarious, with more broken stairs than good ones. The urge to turn and flee ran rampant through her thoughts. She still couldn’t believe she was actually taking him up on his suggestion.

She hesitated. She hadn’t pictured him being destitute, a starving artist unable to afford something better than this run-down building. As hard as she tried to ignore her inner voice, she couldn’t hide her concern for the safety of her situation. Eager to be out of the dark, damp hallway, she knuckled the door a bit harder, stopping just short of actually using her balled-up fist to pound the old wood.

From behind the barrier, she could hear the shuffle of footsteps, and held her breath in anticipation. When the door opened, she let her breath out on a sigh of relief.

“You’re here,” Evan said, his gaze flaring as if she’d caught him by surprise.

“You said one o’clock,” Susan reminded him. She made a rather deliberate show of staring at her bare wrist. “It’s five minutes of, according to my watch.”

He stepped back and allowed her inside. Unlike the dark entryway and corridors leading to the third floor, his loft was filled with color, vivid splashes of paint adorning walls full of original artwork. Windows rose from floor to ceiling, allowing the early afternoon sun to shine through, unimpeded by draperies of any kind. Sparsely furnished with nothing more than a few chairs and a small kitchen table. Susan wondered what lay behind each of the three doors along the back wall.

“Truthfully, I didn’t think you’d show.” He waved his hand in a circle, the arc encompassing the entire open living area. “I don’t get many Hyde Park society girls in my studio.”

She raised her chin a notch. “Whether you realize it or not, I’m not like most Hyde Park girls.” When he didn’t comment, she reminded him, “You said I could make up for the accident by posing for you. I’m here to make amends for—as you put it—the pain and suffering my recklessness caused.”

He chuckled, the teasing lilt of his voice drawing her attention to where he stood. It was then she realized he was dressed in little more than a pair of tight- fitting denim rousers and an unbuttoned shirt. A sparse patch of short curls adorned his well-muscled chest, trailing downward to disappear inside the waistband of his pants. His feet were bare and his dark hair tousled, as if she’d awoken him from a sound sleep. His second laugh, this one much heartier than the first, told her she’d been caught staring. A sudden wave of heat rushed her cheeks. Her pulse raced.

“As I said last night, I don’t do formal portraits.”

His words drew her gaze back to his face, his mouth, the fullness of his lips. She raised her head and nodded. “Let’s just get this over with, please.”

He crooked his finger and motioned for her to follow. “Bathroom’s through there, if you need the facilities.” He opened the door to the middle room. “This is my bedroom. You can change in here, if you’d like. There’s a dressing gown hanging on the back of the door.”

“Change into what?” she asked. Her throat suddenly as dry as a pile of cotton batting, she slipped out of her lightweight coat and cloche and laid them at the foot of the bed.

Evan shook his head; his eyebrows arched and wagged teasingly. “Into as very little as you’re comfortable with, Miss Leland. I prefer totally nude, but if you’d like to leave your fancy drawers on, I can use my imagination.” He motioned toward the wooden table in the corner of the room. “There are some props, jewelry and the sort, over there, if you’d like to doll yourself up.”

“Anything else?” She did her best to put a sarcastic bent to her question yet feared her voice trembled too much to make the right impression.

He lowered his gaze from her face, across her body, down her legs, settling at last on her ankles. The intensity of his perusal made her toes curl.

“Take off those shoes and put on a pair with ankle straps. Preferably black. There should be a pair in the closet that will fit you.” He turned toward the door, stopping to add, “My studio is in the next room over. I’ll prepare a fresh canvas. Don’t take forever. I have someone coming at three.”

About the Author: 11_5 NancyFraserLike most authors, Nancy Fraser began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.

When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.


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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Thank you so much for hosting this leg of my tour. I look forward to coming back later in the day to check for comments/questions.

  3. Rita Wray says:

    I liked the excerpt, thank you.

  4. It can be so frustrating when Life gets in the way of our writing! You see a big chunk of free time and think you will get a lot accomplished and then little by little, that time gets chipped away at by other obligations. At the same time, it can feel so unbelievably good when you find those super productive days and you feel, kinda sorta, caught up.

    I remember that feeling… 😉

    Thanks for sharing, Nancy!

  5. I have this on my TBR list. I’m looking forward to reading it.Great excerpt.

  6. lori faires says:

    What a bumpy road you’ve been traveling. I’m glad all worked out in the end (sorry for your loss). I can only hope your future road is less bumpy. It seems you have a good plan for your time management. Best wishes.
    I’m also a fan of the Serenity Prayer. Thanks to all.

  7. Thank you so much for the comments and condolences. I wish you all luck in the draw.


  9. Mary Preston says:

    A great excerpt.

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