Tuesday, October 7, 2014

G*veaway with Author Cecilia Dominic, talking Creativity vs. Business

Please welcome author Cecilia Dominic back to my blog! We are celebrating the release of her first book The Mountain's Shadow in paperback—which she is giving away to one lucky commentator today—(more info at the end of this post).  She has a most interesting day job occupation and gave her the three questions I have about creativity and business, please give her a rousing welcome!

Author Cecilia Dominic
CD: Thank you, M.V., for giving me this opportunity!

To give your readers some context, I'm a clinical psychologist with my own private practice. I am very lucky to have an awesome part-time admin/office manager, but I still handle a lot of the business myself because there are things that require the doctor or business owner's involvement that just cannot be delegated. As you can imagine, this infringes upon valuable writing time and, more importantly, energy. Add promotion to all that, and, well… That's why writers drink, right?
MVF: This is why I wanted you here—because of your very unique perspective!

How do you keep your creativity strong while dealing with the business side of writing?

CD: Nothing saps my mental energy like figuring out promotional stuff, especially when a new book is about to come out. There are just so many moving parts! As with my business, I budget time for promotion and social media, but sometimes it gets away from me. When I'm tired, there's nothing more soothing – or mind-numbing – than scrolling through Tweets or Facebook because of course all the people I follow are interesting, especially when I need to be doing something else. While I try to make drafting - actual writing - a priority, I'm gentle on myself if I can't quite meet those goals during a very busy promotional time. I also try to set my deadlines accordingly and get creative with time management – see below.
MVF: *nods* I like how you set aside time and know when to utilize moments to their best advantage.

When time is limited, how do you carve out time to get things done?

CD: The answer to this question came to me last week when one of my critique group partners was talking about how now that his child is a toddler with short naps, he can't get any meaningful writing done in a half hour or less. I used to only write when I had a long time to devote to it, too, but I've had to change and learn to write "in the corners."

Think about your day. You probably have things that take up large blocks of time like meetings, classes, or appointments, but there are little pieces of unclaimed time I think of as corners – time waiting in doctor's offices or that twenty minutes after lunch before my next appointment. Okay, sometimes I nap after lunch – self-employment does have its privileges. My preferred writing style is to have longer chunks of time to really dive into something, but I've found it useful to challenge myself to make use of those shorter blocks of time. For example, how many words can I get down in a half hour? They might not be great words, but they keep me moving forward.

Using the corners also helps with promotional activities that can build up into an overwhelming pile of "have to do's." For example, my first patient no-showed this morning, which left me with about forty-five unclaimed minutes. I already have drafting time scheduled for later today, so I decided to use this big corner for three things:  finishing this blog post (20 minutes), putting together some books and postcards to mail (15 minutes), and an email I've been needing to send (10 minutes since I had to find a document to enclose).

Also, when I'm super busy, whether it's with the practice or other things like our new kitten, my mantra becomes, "Something is better than nothing." So, even if it's just a couple hundred words a day, I try to get something down. I also give myself a break by allowing research time, which feels less effortful than writing. When I'm exhausted after a busy day, I can still manage to read and take notes on research materials. Making better use of my local library provides a motivating time frame for that because while it's an awesome place with lots of free books, they want them back after a while, so I have to do my research in an efficient way.
MVF: What I am seeing here—is not only do you strive for flexibility; in no way do you castigate yourself too much; you understand the demands in your life—and adjust. I like this. And I am learning from it. (and Libraries are funny like that—wanting their books back. *sigh*)

How do you get through or solve creative blocks?

CD: Most of the time my creative blocks occur when I don't trust myself to get the story right. In other words, that pesky inner editor jumps in with all kinds of non-supportive commentary like, "this is stupid," or, "that doesn't make sense!" I get through this in a couple of ways. First, I have an awesome critique group, and we have a pretty rigorous schedule of having to turn in 60 pages every ten weeks or so (there are five of us, and we meet twice per month). So I know I have to turn something in. Second, I remind myself that revisions are for sorting everything out, and a lot of the time, my brain does something with a story that I don't understand until it's referred to or comes up again later. It all comes down to trusting the process. Writing in the corners is also helpful because there is no time to argue with the editor, I just have to write in the time I have.

So that's it – find your corners. If you're not sure where they are, try dividing your day into 15-minute blocks and write what you're doing in those segments. You'll probably find times when you weren't doing anything intentionally, not even relaxing. Alternately, you can steal an exercise from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and challenge yourself not to read anything unnecessary for a week. That includes those email newsletters and, of course, social media that tends to suck our valuable time.

What are your favorite ways to sneak in writing during your day? One commenter will win a signed paperback copy of The Mountain's Shadow, the first Lycanthropy Files book.
MVF: I love your critique group how awesome! And you’re right the pesky inner editor is quite frustrating. Next time I have you on this blog—we’re going to talk about procrastination….
First in the Lycanthropy File Series

Here the blurb to The Mountain’s Shadow

Some mistakes can literally come back to bite you.

First it was ADD. Then pediatric bipolar. Now the hot behavioral disorder in children is CLS, or Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome. Public health researcher Joanie Fisher was closing in on the cause in hopes of finding a treatment until a lab fire and an affair with her boss left her without a job.

When her grandfather leaves her his multimillion-dollar estate in the Ozarks, though, she figures her luck is turning around. Except her inheritance comes with complications: town children who disappear during full moons, an irresistible butler, and a pack of werewolves who can’t seem to decide whether to frighten her or flirt with her.

Joanie’s research is the key to unraveling the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor.  However, resuming her work means facing painful truths about her childhood, which could result in the loss of love, friendship, and the only true family she has left.

Warning: Some sexy scenes, although nothing explicit, and adult language. Also alcohol consumption and food descriptions that may wreck your diet.

GIVEAWAY---if you want to win a copy of this fabulous book—then make a comment—(and give me *some* way to contact you).   A winner will be drawn on Saturday, October 11th-
I’ll post it in the comment section—and add it to this blog.

Author Bio: Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she's fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn't stop writing fiction. The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style. She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she's been told, is a good number of each.

You can find her at:
Web page:  www.ceciliadominic.com
Wine blog:  www.randomoenophile.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/CeciliaDominicAuthor
Twitter: @RandomOenophile
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/ceciliadominic/


  1. Thanks for having me today, M.V.! This was fun. And yes, we can definitely talk about procrastination at some point. I'm doing a talk at GRW in January, and I need to stop putting off writing it. ;-)

    1. I would love to talk about procrastination--*grin* I am going to see if I can make it to GRW I'd love to hear the talk. Thank you for being here---I always enjoy it! :)

  2. I wish I could learn to write in corners of time, too, Cecilia! I'll try your suggestion. I used to be committed to 100 words a day, but somewhere that fell by the wayside. I definitely need to get back to that. And you are so right--social media takes the day!!!Enjoyed the post!

    1. Thank you, Barbara! I'll be cheering on your 100 words/day. I bet once you get back to it, you'll find your writing corners, too.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. My apologies! I will posting the winner this evening--! No excuses. :)

  4. Barbara you are the winner of the book! Congratulations!!!!