Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Dangling Carrot vs The Stick

Deliciousness brought to you by Kickass Cupcakes
Confession: I'm horrible about sticking to self imposed deadlines.

It's weird because I have an excess of will power in most areas of my life. If I can logically explain how a thing is bad for me, I have no problem giving it up. Yet when it's crunch time for reaching my own writing goals I make new deadlines rather than scramble to finish on time.

Who cares if I push it back again? I don't have an agent and no one will know...

Last year I got a bottle of really nice champagne for my birthday in August. I told myself I'd open it when I earned it. I landed a new job I really wanted in October, wrote over 10,000 words in November but still didn't pop the bubbly. Once the goals were attained, I didn't feel like a reward was in order. I do see how this is insane reasoning and it isn't that I didn't think what I had done was impressive. For me, getting the job and the satisfaction of a productive month of writing were enough.

It comes down to whether someone is after the carrot or dodging the stick. Some personality types are driven by threat of the stick or repercussions of failure. Others are enticed by the carrot or the reward that success will bring. My dog* for instance, he's definitely after the carrot.**

He was willing to do anything for this PupCake

I realized that when I was in a critique group, I got my pages reviewed and out to my critique partners on time...okay I cut it close occasionally, but I got the pages and my critiques out.

I'm not actually interested enough in the reward. In fact, I have been known to procrastinate cashing in the rewards I have earned for myself. Even the cupcakes in this post, which were a post-5K run reward, weren't my idea. My friend who I ran with suggested it.

What really gets me to follow through is fear of letting someone down or of embarrassing myself by not doing what I promised. This makes my problem with writing deadlines apparent-I don't have anyone holding a stick.

The solution, which may be obvious at this point, is that I need to someone to be my stick wielder and hold me accountable if I don't get my pages done. Of course, I could do another critique group, but I want to get my first draft complete as soon as possible and as much as I like critiquing I don't really have much time to spare for that right now. So, I volunteered a friend to be my beta and first line of defense against awful grammar, typos and crummy plot lines. I'm going to send her 50 pages every two weeks. I sent her my first 50 pages on Sunday. The theory being that by August I should have a complete draft that's fairly clean. Then I can beg for critiques and send a polished draft to the rest of my betas.

Now if only I could get someone to force me to eat cupcakes...

*All dogs are like this, which is why it's best to punish your dog with the lack of a reward. They'll figure out what they have to do to get the reward, especially if it's a delicious puppy cupcake.

**My dog would like you all to know that he hates carrots and doesn't appreciate this analogy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Report Monday: Hounded

Title: Hounded, Iron Druid Chronicles #1

Author: Kevin Hearne

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

(from Goodreads)

Why did I pick it  up?: It sounded pretty fun and it was available as an ebook at the library. Plus, the guy on the cover is pretty cute.

Favorite Line: "Monty Python is like catnip for nerds. Once you get them started quoting it, they are constitutionally incapable of feeling depressed."

My Review: Very fast paced and fun reading. It reminded me of the Stephanie Plum novels. If Stephanie Plum was a demon hunter instead of a bail bonds person. There are a lot of characters mentioned but none that I really got attached to. I didn't feel like there was enough time to develop any emotional connection to Atticus or his cohorts, which include some rare Gods and Goddesses. The coolest of which I thought was the Morrigan, who is the Goddess of war and/or death in ancient Irish mythology. Appearing as a crow or a woman in one of three forms: beauty, mother or crone. The Morrigan is also mentioned in A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray when Miss Moore takes them to see the cave drawings. With so much Greek and Roman Deity focus it's a nice change up.

Of course, I did think the dog was pretty awesome. Atticus has an Irish wolfhound who he can communicate with telepathically. It makes for some humorous conversation to say the least. Sometimes I imagine what a conversation with my dog would be like, and while I hope he'd have some wisdom to drop, I suspect it'd mostly be about him getting more treats and belly rubs. Though maybe there is a different kind of wisdom in that...

Overall I enjoyed Hounded, albeit in a superficial way. Not that superficial reads are bad. I may prefer when a book pulls me in and makes me laugh out loud or cry in public (I'm looking at you George RR Martin), but every book can't do that. Besides sometimes it's nice to read something lighter. And I personally get a lot of satisfaction out of completing a book, so short fast reads are always okay by me. I'll definitely read the rest of the series. I think it would be great for the beach or even for a weekend spent lazing on the couch.

Recommendation: Adult fantasy fans or anyone who likes fantasy but doesn't like 1,000 page books. It is marketed toward males, that doesn't stop me from recommending it to women.

For Next Week: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Return

As much as I wanted to continue blogging regularly I couldn't find it in me to make the time for it over the last eight months. It's been a long while since I've been active here and I've had a lot of guilt about that. Life got in the way. I still read lots of books and blogs though I did not write as much as I would have liked, but I couldn't harness the energy to blog.

I switched my day job and quit Philadelphia for Boston. Leaving my job was hard, I'd been there for almost 6 years and I was sad to say goodbye to many of my coworkers, but I wanted to relocate and I am happy that I did. The move was an adventure for sure but it took a long time to come to fruition.  I've had the desire to flee to New England for years. I primarily credit Alice Hoffman, maple syrup, and the Autumn season for this desire. In theory it sounds dreadfully romantic, doesn't it?

Picking up and moving however involved a lot more steps, planning, and frustrating apartment hunting than they show in books and movies. Though I enjoy planning, list making, and employing excel spreadsheets to pave the way so I'm not complaining. Also, the most frustrating piece of apartment hunting was getting a landlord to accept my 50 pound dog and I would never complain about that. I knew what I was signing up for when I adopted him five years ago and I'm happy I found a place with a fenced in yard.
I think he likes it.

We arrived just in time for our new city to be attacked on Marathon Monday. My family was not entirely pleased to see me relocating so far away, but they understood it was something I needed to do. I live alone and I think that stresses them out to a certain extent. The Marathon Bombings, which occurred half a block from my new office, did not help assuage their worries. Boston, however, is a strong city and the response to the attacks have only served to affirm that I made the right decision.

Yesterday when she was over my friend, Liz-who played a vital role in my move, said it looks like I've lived here for years. And I do feel settled now. With the to do lists put aside and the stress of moving ebbing, I find the words come easier. The itch to dust off my last project and breath life into it is stronger than ever. Writing playlists are revamped. Deadlines are updated in spreadsheets and I feel the writer inside of me nudging herself to the forefront again. I'm more myself when I'm writing regularly and though I was too occupied to feel the hole not writing left in my days I can sense the completeness that was not there over recent months. It's a comfort and I'm beyond grateful for it.

Hopefully, I'll get back on track with a blogging schedule soon. I know some folks have missed my Book Reports and I have definitely missed some folks.