Exhaling Slowly

Wow!  It has been way too long since my last post.

Life has been busy (though you might not know it by this blog), and after more than a year, I finally feel like I have a chance to take in a full breath.  I haven’t been posting much about my activities mainly because I was so entrenched in them.  It’s difficult to talk about something when you are so close to it.  But I’ve had a chance to gain some perspective so I thought I’d share a little about what I’ve been up to.

In March 2011 I volunteered to coordinate the 2012 Wisconsin RWA chapter Write Touch Conference.  WisRWA boasts a membership of approximately 150 and a solid percentage of this membership (along with a handful of non-members from surrounding states) attend our annual conference in late spring/early summer.  Coordinating this important weekend event was going to a big deal!  I knew this going in and committed myself to doing the best I could even though I had never planned anything of this sort before.

Now at that same time, I was about six months out from my wedding.  I thought planning a wedding took a lot of energy and organization, but I quickly learned that compared to planning a writer’s conference, the wedding was like apples to an apple tree.  My early morning “writing time” was gradually eaten up by alternating conference and wedding tasks.  I struggled to set aside at least a small portion of my mornings for writing, but would find myself going days then weeks without opening my WIP document.  Telling myself this was okay, that after the wedding I would have more time, I continued on.

Coordinating the conference easily consumed my waking thoughts.  As a true Capricorn, I thrived in the organization and prioritization of tasks, duties and schedules and spreadsheets.  “A place for everything and everything in its place” is one of my favorite sayings, and maybe a little oddly, one that I identify with on a personal level.  And that is how I approached conference planning.  Folders, spreadsheets, lists, schedules, more lists.  I am a great organizer and I’m not too modest to say so, but one thing I suck at … is delegating.  Volunteers were limited, but I did have some great people who took over the Publicity and our Raffle for Literacy and helped with our logo and registration brochure.  Huge thanks to them because without their help, I would have tried to do it all.  (I know, it’s a control thing. I’m working on it!)

Anyway… not long after the wedding (about five weeks actually) I discovered that my husband and I were going to be having another baby… due late June … a mere three weeks after conference.  Yikes!

BACKSTORY: My husband and I, though just married in September, have been together for more than twelve years now.  We have an eight year old daughter and a five year old son.  Although we had tossed around the idea of having another child, this pregnancy came as a bit of a surprise.

Having gone through two previous pregnancies and by now, having a taste for what it was going to take to complete all the conference preparations, I understood what the next several months were likely to look like.  But again, being a Capricorn (picture the mountain goat trudging up the impassable trail) I remained steadfastly determined to coordinate a successful conference.

By the holidays, the wedding was well behind me, the pregnancy was entering the second trimester and conference planning was in full swing.  My writing schedule was spotty at best, but I told myself that I would take a break through Christmas and make that New Year’s resolution to somehow get back to consistent writing schedule in the midst of conference planning.  And that was when I got The Call.

Yes, my first sale!

Contracts were signed in January and soon after I started to receive material from my editor.  Tip sheets, cover art forms, blurb requests, bio requests, and then the revisions.  I was suddenly back into the flow of writing, or rather revising.  It felt great!  And it prompted me to get back to my WIP as well.  I made sure to hit every deadline my editor gave me and thrilled at the final cover art design.  Here was my creation, a story I had tossed around in my head since high school, forming into a real novel right before my eyes.  Amazing!

Rogue Countess is scheduled to release in electronic format with Samhain Publishing on July 24th.  Check it out!

http://store.samhainpublishing.com/rogue-countess-p-6903.html#.T9CUXcPlx8Y.facebook

But still, always and continuously, there were conference tasks.  Every day I had emails to send, information to assemble, financials to update, time lines to create, or any other number of things to do.  And all of it in the morning before going to my “other job.”  The weekends were my biggest chance to get caught up on what I may not have been able to finish during the week.  Thank goodness this went on through winter when my family tends to hibernate.  My husband and the kids were content to occupy themselves while I closed myself off in my writing office… a tiny little room which was becoming more and more filled with boxes of conference stuff and goody bag donations and books that were delivered daily to my door.

Conference began to speed closer and closer while my pregnancy reached the final months and finally slowed me down.  No more time for writing.  Every spare minute was about conference.  And then, as if it snuck up on me, conference was here!  No more planning, no more organizing.  Time for doing!

I won’t shy away from saying that the weekend was challenging. Mentally and physically.  But I can say with full and complete honesty that it was all worth it!  And in spite of certain unexpected setbacks, I think it was a success.  That’s all I hoped for… to provide an experience that people came away from feeling motivated, inspired and filled up with the energy of romance writing.

Looking back, I am proud of what I accomplished with many of my fellow WisRWA members… not only those who helped me along the way, but those who stepped up during conference and donated their time in volunteer shifts and those who spontaneously took on additional tasks to give me a few much needed breaks when my big belly overwhelmed me and forced me to rest.  Most notable of all were the constant smiles and gracious attitudes of the attendees to accepted the last minute hiccups with understanding and pervasive positivity.  What a fabulous group of people we have in WisRWA!

There are still a handful of things that need to be wrapped up post-conference, but I am approaching these tasks with a bit more allowance for getting them done as I can.  With my baby due now in about a week, I am doing my best to turn my focus toward preparing for the birth and what comes after.  I have shortened my shifts at my “other job” and I am trying to get the rest I wouldn’t allow myself prior to conference. (I actually slept in until 6:30 this morning!)

It’s hard though, to slow down.  In the back of my mind is the drive and desire to immerse myself again in my WIP… a project that has been sorely neglected over the last year.  Not to mention everything I wish to do to promote the upcoming release of Rogue Countess.  But for the current moment I am taking the time to draw in a nice long breath and I intend to exhale it slowly.