Finding the Focus to Write

Finding the time to write isn’t always as hard as finding the focus to write.

My house is full of distractions—animals, chores, deliveries, laundry, phone calls, the list goes on and on especially since this has become as much our bunker as our home.

And then there’s the other inhabitants who are currently working from here instead of where they have always worked for most of my writing career. I am never alone at my house. And even if these people are on a different floor, doing their own thing, not paying a lick of attention to me, their presence stifles my writing.

And yes, I know that makes no sense.

Continue reading “Finding the Focus to Write”

No Matter the Results, We’re Stuck with Each Other

Today writing seems like a better option than watching the news. But then again, that’s probably the better option most days.

And yet, the news informs our writing. It’s hard not to let political opinions and party affiliations slip into our prose. I consciously censor myself. Never wanting a snap judgment of my politics to keep a reader from hearing my story.

That wasn’t always the case. I am deeply passionate about my own political beliefs, and there was a time I knocked on doors and watched polls and wrote op-eds.

As politics has gotten more divisive, I made a conscious decision to keep it out of my writing community. I want to be an open-minded person who can handle hearing beliefs on both sides, but these days it’s so very hard to have a civil conversation. There is too much judgment, too much assuming and blaming and generalizing.

So, right now, while the future of my country hangs in the balance, I know that speaking my mind won’t change any hearts or the outcome of the election. It will only alienate friends and invite argument.

But as we move forward from whatever happens, I wish I could find the words to share my absolute desire that we learn to listen to one another. That we lead with our hearts, informed by our heads, but without the knee-jerk judgment and the hate mongering. We have to—there is no other way to save the soul of this country.

In my stories, even in my ‘dogoirs’, I always, always stress the positive. I believe in happy endings. I write them into my fiction and I advocate for them in my work with shelters and rescues.

I believe that the heart of this country is good, and that most people would rather choose love than hate. Hate leaves a bad taste on your soul and poisons your days. It makes the world darker, heavier, and so very sad. It isolates you, even when you join forces and hate something together. Somehow we need to learn to disagree without hating.

That’s my own challenge, and one I am wrestling this week while watching the election returns. We will never, ever move forward and tackle the bigger issues of this world until we stop hating each other and start agreeing to disagree on some issues, while working together to tackle others. We cannot let hate and judgment and the crazy need to be right or to win, dictate what comes next.

What comes next will impact the lives of our children and our grandchildren. Maybe we need to remember this as we face our ‘foes’.

I don’t know what comes next for this country. I can only control my response to the outcome, and no matter the outcome, I plan to choose love. I will acknowledge my own frustration or disappointment or even my joy at the outcome, but I will also remember and respect that at least half my country wanted a different outcome.

It is a great temptation to disengage, to bow out and retreat. That seems the easier path. And maybe one I will take for a while. But the lessons of this election season will inform me; they will inform my writing.

I hope I can move forward gently, with calm acceptance and genuine curiosity of other people’s views, allowing for respectful disagreement, but knowing that a heart is a heart and one is not worth more than another.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you live anywhere near the PA/MD border, I’d love to meet you this Saturday when I’ll be supporting my favorite locally owned shop, Soulshine Boutique. Stop by to see me and ALL of my books between 10am and 2pm (the shop is open until 8 and I will likely stick around longer than 2, but the books will definitely stick around longer because Lisa carries them in her shop). I’ll have special gifts for anyone who drops in to see me.

If you’re curious about what I’m up to, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

And If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog. And if you want to know what is really happening in the animal shelters in this country, visit, Who Will Let the Dogs Out.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

My latest book was recently released from Pegasus books – 100 Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues is available anywhere books are sold, but if you’d like some help finding it (or want to read some lovely reviews), click here.

Can You Handle the S#*t Sandwich?

And I’m off!

Where to, you ask?

Why, success and fame, of course.

(success and fame are relative terms.)

Continue reading “Can You Handle the S#*t Sandwich?”

#Truth: The Publishing World is Rigged

Let’s be honest—the publishing world is rigged.

After twenty years wrestling with words, agents, editors, publishers, and social media, I’m not saying this in a bitter way. Just as a matter of fact.

Continue reading “#Truth: The Publishing World is Rigged”

Finding the Gumption to Start

The hardest part of writing is the first line—it’s just summoning up the gumption to start.

startSome days I sit for minutes that drag on and on, finger poised over the keyboard, unmoving. When nothing comes to me, I distract myself with e-mail or Instagram, talk to the dogs, or scroll through Facebook, anything to delay those first words.

 

According to popular writing advice, those first sentences are critical. Publishing blogs quote agents who advise writers to Continue reading “Finding the Gumption to Start”

Do You Want More Suspense in Your Life?

So many people have told me I have to read Catherine Ryan Hyde. So finally, I purchased one of her books – Stay.

Stay

I read it on my kindle which is often not as good an experience for me as paper. It is harder for me to get a real sense of the book. I’m not sure why. Maybe I am a tactile person, but I think the cover, the heft, the quality of the actual book affect how I feel about a book. I just don’t have the same affection or love for an ebook as I do for a paper book.

Kindle aside, Continue reading “Do You Want More Suspense in Your Life?”

SHOW YOUR WORK A Week Later

Okay, okay, so I kind of fell off the SHOW YOUR WORK daily bandwagon, but I have great excuses.

Excuse #1: I was getting tired of me, me, me.

When you have a new book coming out, you have to promote yourself. I always struggle with this, and that probably Continue reading “SHOW YOUR WORK A Week Later”

SHOW YOUR WORK: Make the time   

Technically, there wasn’t time for work today. That doesn’t mean I didn’t work.

I drove three hours south to our tiny cabin in VA, where I’ll be for the next ten days. We are in the final stages of finishing renovating it and preparing it to become a rental (which makes me sad because it is my favorite place in the world these days). The next ten days are the push – put on new steps/deck, deal with a water issue once and for all, build an entry path from parking area to house, plus a million little finish details inside and create the website to start renting it.

DSC_2331

That will all get done. It will. But my book’s release date is only getting closer, so at the same time, I have to find the time to do the work to promote it.

So today I got up at five and Continue reading “SHOW YOUR WORK: Make the time   “

SHOW YOUR WORK Even If It Scares You

Today was a day of reaching out for help.

I worked on letters to the adopters of dogs mentioned in the book, dog-friends, friend-friends, and dog-related media. I didn’t send many of them out. It’s hard to ask for help, even though help is what I need.

I am not very technically gifted and the internet and social media still baffle me on a regular basis. I have to ask my daughter for help navigating Instagram (is it really not very user friendly or am I just old?).  My nebulous hold on Twitter is getting stronger, but I’m way behind on hashtags. I gave up on Tumblr and abandoned the blog I have there. Even Zoom flummoxed me today.

I’ve decided to focus on Facebook. So, today I created a page, just for the new book!

FB cover for book page

You can like/follow here, and I would be SUPER DUPER happy if you did. I’d be even happier if you set clicked the little notification tab and agreed to have FB send you notifications when stuff happens on that page.

It’s a first step. A late first step, but a step nonetheless.

Next step is to recruit a ‘launch team.’ I’m still figuring out what a launch team will do, but thankfully, I have the help of a skilled and experienced writer and dog-hearted person who offered to help me. Tomorrow we ZOOM to figure out the plan.

I’m a pretty self-reliant person. I hate to ask others to do for me, and when I do, I rarely ask directly. I usually drop hints, complain of how I am overloaded, and even occasionally when it comes to my children, employ guilt.

But, you know what? I can’t do this by myself and this is too important not to do it well. So, once again, setting my big fat ego aside, and moving forward.

Once I understand how the launch team will work, I’ll send out more of those carefully crafted letters and hope that a few of my people will want to join my team and help make this book and its message a success.

Scared?

Yes, I am. But pretty much everything about writing, or at least publishing, is scary.

So bring on the monsters.

I’m ready.

Or at least I will be.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara Sue Achterberg with pupCara

If you’re curious about what I’m up to, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

And If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog. And if you want to know what is really happening in the animal shelters in this county, visit, Who Will Let the Dogs Out.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

COMING JULY 2020 from Pegasus books (available for preorder):

100 dogs cover

Available now:

Another Good Dog cover

Find out more about fostering dogs at AnotherGoodDog.org!

 

SHOW YOUR WORK Even When You’re In a Hurry, Hurry, Hurry  

AH! I almost forgot to write this Show Your Work post. Sorry, but this is gonna be a quick slap it together in ten minutes.

What did I do today that I can show you?

Not so much. I worked on two articles for two different publications, both of which have invited me to write about the shelter situation and highlight what I learned while working on my newest book, 100 Dogs. It’s a great opportunity to reach new minds and hearts with the situation in the shelters. Both are dog-oriented magazines.

I have the basic articles finished, but now comes the hard part. I think of it as carving. I have to shave off the parts that don’t work and polish the better parts so that what I’m trying to say is clear and center-staged and not dragged off down the wrong alley on a tangent like I so often tend to do. Wow. That was a horrible mixing of metaphors. But I’m going to leave them there because there’s no time to fix it and I’m just about worded out.

I also wrote a quick blog post on my foster dog blog which begged for help, shared the link to my the first episode of my podcast, and explained why my foster dog was dropped at the vet’s for two days.

Other than that, I continued my frenetic begging of reviewers for my book and practiced reading on my laptop’s camera app so I can record me reading the first chapter of the new book for a promtional. That was kind of fun – although painful for me to look at my old self. I did figure out which side of the laptop to place my book on so as to not highlight quite as many wrinkles. (Sorry. Vanity. I’m working on it.)

I think that’s it. Now I’ve got to buzz out of here to celebrate my daughter’s 21rst birthday with Indian food and Key Lime Cheesecake!

Happy Tuesday. Hope you are writing. I’m still waiting for one of you to ‘share your work’ with me in the comments! Or maybe just give me your thoughts on Austin Kleon’s book, Share Your Work. I’m still working my way through it. It’s at least half picture-book. I wish there was more substance and less cheerleading and pictures. At least it motivated me to get writing on this blog, though. That’s a good thing.

Write on and read on, my friends. And share your work in the comments, just so I don’t think I’m writing into a vacuum.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Cara Sue Achterberg with pupHonored,

Cara

If you’re curious about what I’m up to, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

And If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog. And if you want to know what is really happening in the animal shelters in this county, visit, Who Will Let the Dogs Out.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

COMING JULY 2020 from Pegasus books (available for preorder):

100 dogs cover

Available now:

Another Good Dog cover

Find out more about fostering dogs at AnotherGoodDog.org!