The Secret to Balancing Writing and Family

see-sawWe all want to know the secret, as we hear cries from the next room of “what’s for dinner?” Or take a quick break and pass the unavoidable pile of laundry that seems to be multiplying in the baskets like rabbits in the spring.  We can find blogs that offer top five tips for family balance or three smart strategies to become an author and keep balance at home . . . but the secret is . . . there will not be balance.

Sure, we tell ourselves we can set aside time, but we know it doesn’t just turn on and off that easily.  We feel that our spouse is being supportive — and hopefully they are — but it doesn’t mean that they like the limited time for each other in today’s busy life being reduced and funneled into your laptop.  Or, you might say you’re going to take a weekend and really crank things out so it doesn’t interfere with the real life of running the house, or your full time job, or dealing with soccer games and hockey practice or homework time . . . but when do you really have a weekend you can carve out for yourself?

No, the answer really is this is not a 50/50 balancing act.  This is not finding that perfect in-the-air-balance on a seesaw with a friend, and there are going to be some cries for your attention.  And what are you going to do?  Pick your battles.  Yes, I am being brutally honest here — pick your battles, and pick them well.  If you are on a roll or in a complex scene in your book when you hear the call for food from one of your offspring . . . hell, leftovers work.  Or breakfast for dinner is always a hit.  If you are are knee deep in closing a big chapter and you’re working out a kink in the plot when your wife reminds you the grass needs cutting — guess what, well, okay maybe walking away here might help and it will all make sense after the lawn is cleaned up.  But if not – then plow through that plot kink and cut the grass tomorrow.

I was working full time when I was writing my first two novels.  I would write on weekends, or after the kids went to bed, but sometimes I’d have an idea during the day and I would come in the door, drop my coat and go write.  Dinner might have be pizza those nights.  There were also long periods I was too busy, not in the mood, or had hit a wall where I didn’t write and those times I was as present as possible with my kids and explained so they understood the ebbs and flows of writing.  We all fell into a happy, healthy, rhythm of no rhythm!

Now, if your family starts surviving on cereal or your house takes on that overgrown and abandoned look then you’ve gone too far.  The important thing is to be upfront with your family.  Do not promise nothing is going to change – be honest with yourself and know that it will.   Balance is a range – it not taking on something as massive as writing a book without having a few disruptions or blips along the way.  The important thing to remember is to not beat yourself up if a few things slip. The creative process is not always an easy thing to harness, therefore, you may not be able to control your time as you predict.  Acknowledge it – and your family – and just do the best you can to finish your book!

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Wine-fueled Fodder for Your Writing

Champagne & raspberries in Newport

Hanging out with your girlfriends – whether for wine on the porch, with bottled water on the grass at the soccer field, or making a whole weekend of it  –  offers fodder for writing.  The laughs, the stories, and the wicked secrets that come out after one too many glasses of wine . . .

I was just in Newport for a a girls weekend.  Rarely do we get to do this, and since it was to celebrate an upcoming birthday, it was all that much more special.  What was unexpected in getting six women together in a rented house – some of whom barely knew each other – was the bonding that took place over cheese and crackers and multiple bottles of prosecco. By the end of the first night we were laughing and sharing old stories and spicy tales like we had all been friends since childhood — and the writer in me was at conflict . . . do I use this material?

Well, of course I can’t, but some of it was gooood.  Real good.  Some of it was outright surprising — but what really got me was just how great friendships can be and how much they effect romantic decisions we make.

In many romance novels, you are reading from the point of view (POV) of the heroine and the main focus is how the relationship develops, is almost lost, then comes back strong ( think the standard romantic comedy structure: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl in the end).  Sometimes you have both POVs — but rarely does the story focus as much on the influences of our friends, how much is really shared between women about our love life, the support given whether the guy deserves or not — or the lack of support given whether the guy deserves it or not.  Girlfriends are a part of our romantic lives in some way — even if just a voyeur of our single or more adventurous friends.

When I wrote The Dating Intervention  a few years ago, I thought a lot about how friendships impacted decisions, choices, what is shared and when, and how relationships work when a couple does get back together and elements of the break up have been shared.  To me, it just seems more real.

So, as for the fodder for writing from last weekend with my girlfriends . . . I think those stories and laughs will just stay safely buried in my memory with a smile . . . or modified and used in a way to “change the names to protect the innocent”.  The only ones who have anything to fear are those who cross me . . . and then they might be written into my next book any way I see fit.  :)

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Creating an iMovie Book Trailer – Cursed, a Paranormal Romance

One thing I love about going to the movies are the movie trailers. I am disappointed if I am not there in time to see them. I hold my candy in anticipation for the big event of the movie – but I lean back and get sneak peeks into movies that are in the works and decide which I might want to see.

It’s no wonder, then, why I was immediately attracted to book trailers. I had one professionally done for my book The Dating Intervention and the woman I worked with  – Lauren Barnak – did a wonderful job capturing what I had in mind. I wanted to produce one for my second novel, Cursed, but had not done one yet. I had made a promo loop in PowerPoint consisting of four slides that could be turned into a movie but it was blurry and not very professional. Cursed 500x750

Over the weekend I was playing on my Mac laptop that I use for work and found a way to make an iMovie. Not only that, but the Mac had great templates you can use to make a fairly professional video with little experience. If you are an author, have a Mac, and never gave making your own book trailer a whirl I would strongly suggest it! It’s fairly simple:

  • Find iMovie and open
  • Select movie or trailer templates
  • Click on each template to see design and hear preset music.
  • Import the photos you want to use into the photo library.
  • Simply plug in photos by selecting where along the story board you want to show each, and when the photo square is highlighted, select the photo above by clicking on it. The tempo/length of the view is preset against the music.
  • You can go in and manipulate the photos to change coloring to B&W or a bunch of other tones. You can also select how each photo is shown by selecting the crop button and moving the start and end of the spans.
  • Type in on the designated lines what you want to show on the screen as part of your storyboard.
  • Hit play and you have a movie trailer!

It worked, but wasn’t great the first time around. After changing the flow of pictures, and reducing text to quick readable bites, it became a good workable trailer that I am quite pleased with.  Check it out!

The question is: will it help get people interested in purchasing my book by seeing visuals? (Like the movie trailers in the theaters make you want to see a movie) I hope so, but would love to hear your feedback or other people’s experiences with creating or marketing with book trailers.

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Writing on the Porch – Pantser vs. Planner

747main front porchI am lucky enough to be on a two week vacation in my favorite seaside village of Chatham, MA. Unfortunately I am in the second week of the vacation – but we have had glorious weather, numerous beach trips, family down for the Fourth of July, and now this week I am finding myself out on the front porch in the early mornings while the family is still asleep enjoying my coffee and quiet time to write.

The novel was at a tricky part when I last left it — way too many months ago — but now coming at it with a fresh eye, I was able to re-read and “fix” the first completed third and start writing the mid-section where the story takes hold.  I am what is called a Pantser – I write by the seat of my pants – no outline, no careful plotting and character builds, I just plow ahead and watch the story unfold in my mind and try to get my fingers to keep up on the keyboard.  And, sometimes inner movie goes dark and I take a break.  This is contrary to my general personality since I am more of a planner, organizer, Type A kind of gal – but creatively, this style of writing as my mind wanders works better for me and I get to be surprised by how the book ends as well!

The current novel is a contemporary romance called Matchless. What’s it about?  Well, the book blurb would be:  When a suitable date is needed for a big family event, and to avoid her grandmothers endless, horrid suggestions, Missy Bainbridge turns to online dating to quickly find a match. Without knowing how to attract a different sort of man then the free spirits she typically dates, she turns to the annoyingly stuffy businessman she shares her morning train commute with for guidance. What she doesn’t realize is she is helping him instead. 

I wonder how many writers find that the style in which they approach their writing mirrors their general personality or, like me, it goes in the complete opposite direction?

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The Ultimate Dating Intervention

Thumbnail of Final Front Cover Something struck me last night while I sat down to unwind and watch tv, and I couldn’t help but think I am not the only one that would feel this way:  they should have a Bachelorette for 40-somethings.

I have seen that reality show on occasion as I flip through the channels but have never actively followed it.  Why?  Well, when you put a bunch of good looking, young, single people together they are bound to have some romance in the air – and of course the drama (I wonder how many watch for the drama that unfolds behind the scenes?).  Those same people would do just as well in a the gym, their workplace, a hot night spot, or anywhere — why?  Because they have youth on their side and don’t have the same challenges as a divorced middle-aged woman with children, career pressures, children’s activities competing for time and attention, and the general life responsibilities that come with age.

In The Dating Intervention, a contemporary romance released in 2012, I explored some of the challenges woman face and sometimes get stuck in – to the point where the fictional main character’s friends need to stage an intervention to force her back out into the dating scene.  She quickly finds the dating pool has become a puddle as there are fewer good men available.  Which leads me back to the Bachelorette.

How many viewers would that reality show get it it were more realistic?  Give a middle-aged woman a chance to find love in between soccer practice, errands, and work with some nice, grounded guys with some gray at their temples?  Now that is something I might put the remote control down for.


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December Promos – Cursed on Tour – Books to Win!

Two blogs in one day?  Yes, dear reader!  There’s a lot going on in December.

Cursed_300x400Earlier this morning I announced my new short story, Yankee Swap, was free today.  Jump over to my previous blog for more information.  Reading this blog past December 9?  No problem, it’s only 99cents and I will be running free days during December since its a holiday short story.

Now I want to announce that today starts my book tour with Paranormal Cravings.  I had DOUBLE the number of reviewers promised and my first review today was a 5 star review! Excerpt from this morning’s review:

“Lynn Ricci has set a beautiful stage for her dark romantic tale. From the historical home to the isolation of a fierce winter storm at Christmas, two people connect and one is finally able to share the burden he has carried for decades. The feeling is pure magic, the flawless slide from the stories of the past to the present day retelling is, in and of itself haunting and romantic.” — Tome Tender Book Blog

But that’s not all! As part of the tour, I am giving away one signed paperback of Cursed and 2 kindle copies to lucky winners. I am eagerly, and a bit anxiously, awaiting the other nine reviews expected this week. You can follow along and check the reviews by visiting the Review Page.

Also, since a lot of the book Cursed is set in the holiday season, Cursed is listed with StoryFinds with a first chapter to check out tomorrow, December 10, as part of their Holiday Theme Week.  And, if you like the cover, they have a cover contest that Cursed is entered into for the following week – December 15-21.

winter2013short2Last, but certainly not least, I am part of the Night Owl Reviews Winter Scavenger Hunt where you can play along with a selection of authors, fill in the blanks to be entered into a drawing and each author is offering gift baskets to lucky winners.  You can learn more about the NOR Scavenger hunt by visiting my website.

If you decide to get involved with any of these fun holiday promotions for Cursed, or download the holiday short Yankee Swap, I hope you enjoy, wish you good luck with the contests, and, dear reader . . .

Happy reading and happy holidays!

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Free Kindle Short Story Dec 9 only: Yankee Swap

As the show and ice mix descends on the Boston area, Yankee Swap – my holiday short story – goes FREE for the day on Amazon Kindle.


Yankee Swap is a short contemporary romance that features Claire Singleton, a woman on hiatus from men after another bad break up.  Claire is not feeling the Christmas spirit this year and not looking forward to the company Yankee Swap.  After being dragged to the holiday party by her colleagues, Claire says just a little too much to the wrong guy.

A fun romance for the holidays ~ download today before it returns to $0.99!

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