10 things you can do for a productive writerly new year

Hi, all!

Hope your holidays went awesomely and that you’re well on your way to settling into this latest chronological trip around the sun.

So let’s talk new year, new opportunities.

I don’t make resolutions. Instead, I make a few goals to accomplish but leave options open for opportunities that may spin off said goals and/or things that don’t go so well. I also create new good habits or strengthen existing ones if I haven’t been as engaged as I’d like in those.

So here are 10 things to do to get you into the swing of a new writerly year and to keep you going throughout the year. Or, if you’re not a writer but have other pursuits (whether creative or otherwise), some of these you may be able to tailor to that.

1. Get organized.
I do this at the start of every year. And generally it begins New Year’s Eve with a house-cleaning. I’m pretty regular about cleaning my house, but I do a symbolic one around the end of the year so I go into the new year feeling fresh n’ clean! LOL

Then I usually spend the first week or two of the new year getting rid of material things around the house and donating to charity. Clothing, dishes, furniture — things that have served their purpose but no longer do (at least with me) and someone else no doubt could put them to use. I also begin organizing for tax season, something that you have to do every year regardless, but for writers, there are things you need to organize in terms of deductions and royalties and the like.

Point being: organization and cleaning up can help unclutter your creative energy and help you focus, which might also help with some forms of depression.

2. Set a goal for the one writer project you want to complete this year.

Maybe it’s a novel. Or a novella. Or a few short stories. Whatever it is, create a realistic timeline (part of the “get organized” strategy) and make a schedule. By such-and-such date, for example, you want to have 5,000 words written. Or whatever it is.

TIP: Be realistic about all the commitments in your life. It is possible to work in writing a novel around a day job and a family and all the other things that come up (ask most writers). Even 30 minutes a day once or twice a day can move you to your goal. Carve out the time. If you’re serious about writing or any other goal you have, carve out a bit of time and be open to moving that time block around as you figure out what your schedule is during these first few weeks of the new year and what times of day you’re most creative. Work it that way and stick to it.

Here’s a cool link over at Author Media that helps you create a writing schedule that works for you.

3. Buddy up.

Find a writer buddy who is also working on a project who can serve as your cheerleader and nag (lol). Like a workout buddy, your writer buddy will engage in writing sessions with you, whether online or in real time. What that means is, if you’re doing an online writer session, you agree with your writer buddy on a set time on specific days and you check in online and do your writing thang. Then you share what you wrote.

Looks like Xena finished up that one section of the Sappho scroll…

Sometimes you won’t get very far with your word count. So what? The important thing is, you’re producing something and you’re sharing it with your buddy (and she’s sharing it with you). It’s like you’re working out together, showing how many sets and reps you got in. And your buddy might also serve as a beta as you’re going along, which helps with the re-writing aspect of writing. Heh.

4. Take breaks.

From writing. Seriously. Writing burnout can be a thing. I know people tell you to make writing a habit and you have to produce something every day and omg deadlines but guess what? Driving yourself off the road because you’re exhausted or tense or need to deal with other things does not help you complete the journey. Stop at a rest area and stretch your legs (to continue that metaphor).

Make sure you spend time with your loved ones and that you take time for yourself that isn’t the physical act of writing. Writers are ALWAYS writing, because we’re constantly seeing stories all around us and working scenes out in our heads, but the physical act of writing is where you’re staring at your screen and pounding away at your keyboard (or longhand writing; however you do it). I’m talking about taking a break from THAT. Once a week. Once every two weeks. Just a little break from your routine to refresh your mind and give you a jolt of creativity.

5. Get out.

Literally. GET OUTSIDE. Specifically, green space, friends. Wherever you are, go to green space. Some of you live in areas of the country where that’s not difficult. Others have to use what’s been engineered (e.g. Manhattan’s Central Park). Or, hell, take a walk around your neighborhood. Just be OUTSIDE. Make it a point to do that. And also, do not use your phone or other tech when you’re outside. Be present.

6. Unplug.

What that means is, when you’re doing a writing session, you are writing. Don’t go messing around on social media after you finish a paragraph or a chapter. Get up and walk around or make a cup of tea or something and go back to writing until your scheduled session for the day is done.

Try to minimize your obsession with the rest of the world at least during your writing time but I’m going to STRONGLY suggest that you unplug regularly, for maybe an hour a day. It helps give you perspective and allows you to be present with your thoughts and to engage with the world without the filter of social media.

And in these shitty times, it’s important to ensure you don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the toxicity of what passes for discourse these days. Which is not to suggest that you don’t engage at all online with your contacts, colleagues, and friends. Just don’t get sucked in and make sure you spend time engaging in the real world, too.

7. Eat right.

Creativity needs good fuel. If you’re eating/drinking things that aren’t conducive to overall health, you’re eventually not going to feel completely healthy. And it will run you down, which means you will lose effective writing time. So have a look at your diet and clean it up, friends.

Start with one small thing. For example, switch from soda (even diet, which has its own set of issues) to, for example, sparkling water (the kind that doesn’t have fruit juice, which adds sugars). Almost 6 years ago, I went off caffeine, which meant that I stopped drinking soda. I had been drinking diet colas, but going off caffeine made me quit those. Sure, there are decaf soda options, but I lost the taste for soda really quickly and I don’t miss it at all.

Eat regular meals (and try to eat with your loved ones, no distractions!) and don’t eat late at night. That can contribute to and exacerbate issues. So don’t eat after, like, 6 PM which is what I try to do.

Snack on ready-sliced fruits and veggies. I get this stuff ready ahead of time or buy those packets of baby carrots and dip them into guacamole or tzatziki or I’ll just munch ’em plain.

Lower your unhealthy carbs (i.e. cut back on alcohol and overly processed carb-laden foods). If you start focusing on eating more good proteins and vegetables, you don’t need the energy burst (then crash) that comes with carb and sugar boosts because your body will be effectively fueled all day.

But if you just want a starting point: stop drinking soda and cut back on alcohol. And if you smoke, maybe make that one of your writing goals, to stop. Better overall health means more creative energy and more stories. 🙂

8. Get moving.

Exercise helps with overall health — physical, emotional, mental. And exercise helps clear your mind and energizes you, which funnels right into creative energy.

And you don’t need to join a gym to do it, though that does help get you into a routine. I actually do workouts based on Navy Seals exercises, because I don’t need a gym and I can take the routines on the road (I travel a lot) and they don’t require special equipment.

I do a circuit of those 3-4 times a week, then on non-circuit days I’ll walk or ride a stationary bike or do some other kind of cardio-only then finish with a few sets of core-strenghtening exercises.

It is extremely important to strengthen your core. If you primarily sit to write (I alternate sitting and standing), you need to get up and work your core. Here’s a great list of core exercises that don’t need equipment.

Some of those exercises can be found in this cool list of 50 bodyweight exercises (that is, you don’t need equipment; you’re using your bodyweight as resistance).

Want to start simple? If you can, start walking. If you can’t quite do that, check out the bodyweight resistance exercises and core exercises to build up to moving around more. If you have health issues that preclude just starting on your own to exercise, check with your docs about what you can and cannot do and go with that.

Your body and your mind are interrelated. Keep your body strong and fueled with good stuff and it boosts your brain. 🙂

Be your own Amazon.

9. Read.

Read WIDELY. Across genres. Fiction and nonfiction. Magazines. Blogs. Fanfic. Read all kinds of stuff. Make it a point to stretch your reading comfort zones and read authors from different backgrounds and countries. Engage your critical thinking skills and question not only others, but yourself. This is how we develop and it’s how we create better stories.

10. Have fun.

This can also fall under “self care” (see above, too). My have fun routines include indulging my fangirl side, so I go to see movies or indulge in a staycation in which I get to catch up on some programs I haven’t had a chance to engage with.

I’ll also go out with friends and take day trips to get new perspectives. If you can, do a road trip, even if it’s just a few hundred miles. Get out of your zone, see new/different things, engage with different people. Fuel for stories, friends. Even fun stuff fuels your creative energies.

AND A COUPLE MORE THINGS.

Be kind, to yourself and others. Stay alert and help build the communities that feed your soul.

Happy New Year!

HOOTENANNY 2017!

Hey, all–

I’ve been chasing merry elves around and thus haven’t had a chance to swing by and remind y’all that my other site, Women and Words, is having its giant, massive, crazy, blow-out book giveaway event!

WOOOOOO!

It’s Day 6, and we give away around 20-30 books EACH DAY, primarily lesfic/books with strong women protagonists. So swing by and get in on the fun. Go over to Women and Words and all you have to do is leave a comment.

Here’s the main link — that’s good for the next 6 days!

Hope to see you there!

10 things I’m looking forward to in 2017

Hey, all!

So the Hootenanny over at the blog I co-admin, Women and Words, kept us crazy and busy, and I’m pretty sure we must’ve given away around 500 books. But I don’t even want to count for sure.

Also, in case you didn’t realize, I do a Fangirl Friday blog over there almost every Friday about what I’m fangirling over, so if that’s up your ally, give it a whirl. This past Friday’s was my thoughts about Carrie Fisher.

And in keeping with my fangirl obsessions, I’m also on Tumblr and I’m writing a Clexa fic at Archive of Our Own.

Anyway, I just want to say that for the most part, 2016 was full of serious suckage. So here, I’m listing 10 things I’m looking forward to in 2017, provided the new regime doesn’t shut down the Internet and start rounding people like me up (only partially kidding).

1. Wynonna Earp Season 2. OMG I can’t EVEN! SO EXCITED about this! Wynonna Earp provided balm to my broken Clexa heart in the wake of the bullshit that was S3 of The 100. Queer and POC rep! Possible March premiere of Wynonna Earp S2. More of my fangirling over it. By the way, shout-out to the Wynonna Earp fandom, which organized and was largely responsible for convincing the network (SyFy) to renew for a second season. Well done, my peeps. Well done.
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2. Killjoys Season 3. Killjoys, too, provided some balm to my little wounded heart in the wake of The 100 and yay, it was renewed for a third season. Ass-kicking women, great plots, space opera awesome-ness. Queer and POC rep. It’s well worth your time to check this series out. And here’s me fangirling over it.

3. Star Wars Episode VIII: This is the last Star Wars appearance of Carrie Fisher, if I’m not mistaken, and I’ll most likely cry when I see her on the screen, but damn, Star Wars. Thank GAWD for Star Wars in my life. It feeds my little space opera/spec fic/adventurous soul.

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4. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – Yeah, whatever! I enjoy the Resident Evil movies because HELLO. Mila Jovovich kicking serious ass all over the screens as Alice, battling the evil corporate empire and various zombies and whatever the hell else she has to deal with. Woman power, y’all!

And yes, that is Guns n’ Roses playing. How can you not want to see this movie?

Notice my theme, here? Fangirling and escapism. If only I could have my own band of outlaws and take to space…

5. ClexaCon, Las Vegas, March: HOLY SHIT I am SO STOKED about this. ClexaCon is the inaugural con for queer women in media, named in honor of the iconic ship Clexa, from The 100. I will be attending as press (Women and Words) and I will be blogging and Tweeting about it and I may be moderating a panel. We shall see! If you’re interested, here’s an interview I did with some of the organizers.

6. Releasing a few more books/novellas. Okay, so, I’ve been kind of tight-lipped about what I’m up to in that regard, and I usually am (weird superstition), but I am going to be publishing a few things this year. So stay tuned. 🙂

7. Writing more fanfic: I dunno. I’m really enjoying this, so I may actually write some more this year. Probably Clexa, but you never know. And holy shit, I may actually do some AU Clexa. WTF? lol

8. Continued work building community: Some of you know that I and bunches of colleagues do lots of community-building through Women and Words and organizations like GCLS as well as through various other organizations, and I love doing it. I’m going to keep doing that — and I think we need it now more than ever.

9. Hopefully some more travel, provided the new regime doesn’t put travel restrictions on people it deems “unworthy” (again, only partially kidding…ugh). I would LUUUUUV to go to New Zealand and Australia, so if anybody in those countries feels like putting up a half-cracked weirdo American fangirl/author like myself, let me know! LOL

10. A super-secret project I can’t tell you about yet. Really looking forward to it, and you’ll be the first to know when it drops. 😀

Regardless, stay strong, my friends. Stick up for each other, speak out, and remember who you are. Much love for 2017.

A playlist for you to rock out to while shopping

Or baking. Or dancing. Or whatever you’re doing…

Hi, kids!

As some of you know, I’m super-swamped over at the Women and Words Hootenanny. A couple days ago we gave away 31 books. Every day for 12 days, we give away, on average, 20 books. Why, yes. That is quite a lot. And this year, we’ve included a concurrent Rafflecopter drawing in which we’re giving away two Kindle Fires as well as other cool stuff. For realz. You should go over there and check it out. Because it is happy fun time. HERE’S THE LINK to Women and Words.

Anyway.

I write to music. And for some of my work, I do playlists. I did one for my most recent novel, The Bureau of Holiday Affairs, my reboot of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, which was published on December 19th, actually. FUN FACT!

I post my playlists at Spotify, so if you have an account there, you can find me: andimarquette. Cryptic, I know.

The playlist for The Bureau isn’t Christmasy in the Christmas music sense. That’s because I listen to all kinds of music all the time, and the character of Robin Preston (who is the main character of my novel) isn’t much for Christmas music, either. Rather, she has kind of an alternative/indie/college rock soul that the Bureau is trying to tap into so she can hopefully be redeemed.

My playlists for my novels and novellas also tend to follow the plot arc, and also evoke some of the secondary characters.

See if you can figure out which characters are tied to which songs in the playlist. 😀 Leave a comment with your guesses and I just might send you an ebook copy of The Bureau. WOOOO!

At any rate, here’s the playlist on Spotify:

Happy weekend!

HOOTENANNY TIME

You guys, I have been really freakin’ busy over at Women and Words with Jove and the blogger crew and all the merry elves and reindeer getting things ready for our annual Hootenanny over there.

What is this Hootenanny, you ask.

It’s a giant, massive, outta control WTF no they di’n’t omg they’re serious how did that even happen where did all these prizes come from BOOK GIVEAWAY.

TWELVE DAYS, friends. TWELVE DAYS OF BOOK GIVEAWAYS. New lists of authors every day, and publishers also get into it. There are books flinging hither and yon.

And this year, we’ve got super swag on Rafflecopter, which might just include a couple of Kindle Fires. Guess you’ll have to check it out to see.

When does all this merriment start, you ask.

THIS SATURDAY! DECEMBER 12! TWELVE DAYS!!!!!!!!!

So we run this crazy from December 12-December 23. SO COME ON DOWN!

Here’s the link to Women and Words.

And here’s an example from last year of the crazy we got up to.
Day 5
Day 11

So head on over to Women and Words Saturday the 12th to join the fun. Hope to see you there!

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And then all of a sudden I had holiday spirit…

Hi, peeps!

Y’know, I’m not much of an end-of-the-year holiday type. I don’t generally decorate (I have red chile pepper lights up year-round), and I tend to focus on not getting caught up in the rampant consumerism of this time of year.

And I’m generally uneasy this time of year, because it’s a tough time for a lot of people, and it does push a lot of my buttons in that regard. So I’ve made some conscious choices about how I engage with this time of year.

To that end I spend a lot of time focusing on community and family ties and on donating time and energy (sometimes money) to try to spread holiday cheer, like through the Hootenanny at Women and Words, which is a 12-day book giveaway extravaganza that we hold over there every December (in case you’re interested, here’s info on last year’s)

Dozens of books and authors, lots of publishers…we get crazy over there giving books away and hanging out with the merry elves. I love that, because it’s totally festive and everybody gets involved to give books away and it spreads the luv all over the place. Buckets of awesome.

So that always gives me holiday cheer, and I guess I’m finding extra special meaning in the season this time, after a year of terrible, tragic events, some of which hit closer to home than others.

And I guess I’m digging deeper this year to nurture myself, my family and friends, and my communities, because it brings me comfort and joy, and y’know what? I like those feelings.

But also this year, I did something I’ve never done.

I wrote a holiday novel. A whole freakin’ novel that’s all about this time of year. It’s a reboot of a classic Christmas tale, with romance and snark and fun and serious stuff and, hopefully, redemption. And you know what?

It made me feel better about this time of year. And all of a sudden I’ve been watching holiday movies on the Hallmark channel. And I went to the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and OMG it was awesome. I’ve even been singing traditional and nontraditional holiday songs. OUT LOUD. For reals!

So, yeah. I found a little bit of magic this year. And I love it.

Hope you, too, are able to find a bit and if you need some cheering up or just want some happy fun times, come on down to the Women and Words Hootenanny. We’re cranking up December 12th. Hope to see you there.

Happy Saturday. Or whatever day it is for you!

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Buy The Bureau of Holiday Affairs at Ylva…

My peeps, you can now get The Bureau of Holiday Affairs in ebook at Ylva Publishing! THIS IS THE LINK. FOR REALZ. CLICK IT. (if you want to)

I know. Some of you are way too gung-ho over the holiday thang and you’re probably going to rush right out and read it before December. Hey, that’s cool. If that’s what pleases your peppermint, you go right on with your bad selves. Hope you dig it!

The-Bureau-of-Holiday-Affairs-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

Here’s what it’s about:
Executive Robin Preston has dedicated her life to climbing the corporate ladder, using whatever means necessary. In the shark-infested culture at Frost Enterprises, anything goes, and Robin is a master at the game.

On the verge of a major promotion, Robin receives a strange visit from Agent Elizabeth Tolson of the Bureau of Holiday Affairs, who informs Robin that, though Robin may be a lost cause, the Bureau has scheduled her for intervention. Robin will receive three visitors in the two weeks before Christmas, who will escort her on visits to her past, present, and future.

Robin will be forced to face not only who she’s become, but the parts of herself she left behind, when she was an art major in college and in love with fellow art student Jill Chen, in whom Robin found a kindred spirit—until Jill broke if off with her. In order for Robin to change her ways, she’ll need to reclaim who she was and open her heart again, to a past she thought she left behind.

The Bureau clearly has its work cut out for it, but Agent Tolson relishes a challenge, and she’s put together just the team for Robin’s case. They may have to cut a few corners and go outside a few lines, but Agent Tolson has a perfect salvage record and she’s not about to let that change. The question is, will Robin?

OTHER GOODIES!
Read an Excerpt!
Sign up for a giveaway at Goodreads! (scroll down on that page…you’ll see it)

And don’t worry, I’ll be giving other copies away, too. You never know when I’m going to send a merry elf your way, so be on the lookout. Cuz I like sharing the luuuuuv! 😀

Happy Wednesday! Oh, and don’t forget it’s Veterans Day. Keep ’em in your thoughts.

My latest novel is a Christmas and New Year romance

Hi, peeps!

I know. I just released a novel prior to Halloween (that one had sort of a Halloween-ish flavor; find it HERE).

So WTF is this? ANOTHER novel? ERMAHGERD, yes. I went a little crazy this year in terms of writing and ended up with 2 novels coming out toward the end of the year. Both ended up on the Ylva imprint “Twice Told Tales,” which are basically reboots of classic tales with ::ahem:: lesbian flay-vuh, if you will.

My latest is called The Bureau of Holiday Affairs and as you’ll see from the synopsis, it’s a take-off on Charles Dickens’ classic novella A Christmas Carol, published in December, 1843.

The-Bureau-of-Holiday-Affairs-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

SYNOPSIS:
Executive Robin Preston has dedicated her life to climbing the corporate ladder, using whatever means necessary. In the shark-infested culture at Frost Enterprises, anything goes, and Robin is a master at the game.

On the verge of a major promotion, Robin receives a strange visit from Agent Elizabeth Tolson of the Bureau of Holiday Affairs, who informs Robin that, though Robin may be a lost cause, the Bureau has scheduled her for intervention. Robin will receive three visitors in the two weeks before Christmas, who will escort her on visits to her past, present, and future.

Robin will be forced to face not only who she’s become, but the parts of herself she left behind, when she was an art major in college and in love with fellow art student Jill Chen, in whom Robin found a kindred spirit—until Jill broke if off with her. In order for Robin to change her ways, she’ll need to reclaim who she was and open her heart again, to a past she thought she left behind.

The Bureau clearly has its work cut out for it, but Agent Tolson relishes a challenge, and she’s put together just the team for Robin’s case. They may have to cut a few corners and go outside a few lines, but Agent Tolson has a perfect salvage record and she’s not about to let that change. The question is, will Robin?

Guess you’ll have to read it to find out, huh? Heh. Anyway, why did I choose to do a reboot of this classic tale?

Continue reading

HOOTENANNY 2014!!!

Hiya, peeps!

Well, I’ve been way busy with the merry elves and all my cohorts over at Women and Words getting ready for our giant huge massive crazy nutso book giveaway extravaganza.

12 days of giveaways. Different lists of authors every day. And publishers.

It’s kind of insane and it takes us a while to get prepped. We start compiling lists around September, though it’s not unusual for people to approach us right after we end to get on the list for the next year.

Anyhoo, we launched today and we’re doing this dog n’ pony show through the 23rd! We post at 9 AM EST every day and have drawings every night at 10 PM EST US. It’s predominantly feminist/lesfic, so if that’s your bag, head on over. Or if you’re new to the world of lesfic, here’s your chance to get some exposure to bunches of different authors writing all kinds of genres as well as the houses that publish them.

Here’s Day 1, so you know what you’re about to get yourself into:

Come on down for some festivating!

Happy Friday, Happy Hootenanny!

Unwrap these presents, y’all, and help homeless LGBTQ youth!

Hey! Got some great news yesterday from Ylva Publishing.

The holiday anthology Unwrap These Presents is HOT OFF THE EBOOK PRESS available right now as we speak.cover_A_Unwrap-These-Presents_500x800

It’s got a ton of authors (full disclosure: I’m one of them) and ALL PROCEEDS go to benefit 2 organizations that help homeless LGBTQ youth:
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The Ali Forney Center in New York City
The Albert Kennedy Trust in the UK

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I’m going to give you a stat, friends.

Some FORTY PERCENT of homeless youth are LGBTQ and nearly 7 in 10 respondents in this 2012 study about homeless LGBTQ youth said that family rejection was a major contributing factor to their homelessness.

Rolling Stone recently did a piece on homeless LGBTQ youth, and it will give you a stark picture of what these young people face without a support network.

We hope you’ll help us help these two wonderful organizations, and consider helping similar organizations and programs in your area whether through donations or volunteering.

To purchase Unwrap These Presents from Amazon.us, click HERE.

To purchase Unwrap These Presents from Amazon.uk, click HERE.

To donate directly to the Ali Forney Center, click HERE.
To donate directly to the Albert Kennedy Trust, click HERE.

Thank you so much for reading, and thank you for helping us share some luv.

Happy Sunday!