SAD Like Me

Today I am sitting in my newly de-cluttered and reorganized study. I can actually see the tops of both desks (AND the carpet!). My laptop is in its proper place, center stage on the writing desk. I can actually walk from one wall to its opposite (a distance of about 12 feet) without tripping over something. The WGH actually complimented me on a bit of d├ęcor I've employed to hold some of the books that are overflowing from the two barrister bookcases (aren't they adorable?):

What inspired this sudden urge to get my little life back in order? Sunshine and a guilty conscience.

At some point in the last three or four years, we discovered that I have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For those of you who think it's not a real thing, you can scoff and go your merry way, and more power to your constant happiness. And a loud raspberry to see you off. For those of you who sympathize - and there are probably more of you than not - SAD is a form of depression that is ... oh, so real. From about the middle of November until sometime in late January (or later, in some cases), I become fairly nonfunctional. I get irritable with people who ask me if I'm ready for Christmas in October. My snappy response is, "No. I have to take my holidays one at a time." It's the truth - because of this disorder, I have to concentrate on getting through, not necessarily a day at a time, but a week or so at a time, which can be a stretch. I have to concentrate on my home and my family; consequently, my career suffers. I don't write. I don't edit. I don't blog. I don't do much of anything. Even the TBR pile isn't a draw. And that's not like me at all.

This year has been a little bit better. Mainly because I've been prodded, from several sides, to get out of the house and do something besides suffer in the silent shadows of my dark and dismal depression. The WGH and I took a week-long vacation for our 25th anniversary, renting a cabin in the mountains near Gatlinburg. Relaxed and rejuvenated, and even ventured out for a walk through town, once the weather warmed up. A couple of weekends ago I rode down to the Coffee County Manchester Public Library Author Signing event with J.T. Ellison, met some of the nicest people, and was even graciously brought into the fold by the sweet ladies of the library who were in charge of the event. And last Thursday evening was spent in the company of some great folks at Literary Libations, a monthly "gathering of writers, journalists, poets, agents, publicists, book sellers, publishers, creatives, librarians, book readers and lovers of the written word", the brain child of J.T. and River Jordan that has been going strong now for nearly 2-1/2 years.

With these recent sojourns into the sunshine, my outlook on life has vastly improved. Motivation has started to creep back in, and this side of Monday isn't nearly as scary as it used to be.

The moral of the story is, I've decided that I can't use my diagnosis as an excuse. I can name (but won't, for the sake of privacy) at least four writers I know who were diagnosed in the not too distant past with some form of cancer. All are now in remission. All are still writing. So what's my problem? I have a manageable illness. I don't have to undergo surgery, or chemotherapy, or any of the other unpleasant things my friends had to endure. The most effective treatment for SAD is phototherapy - light, and lots of it. So I've rearranged the lighting in my study to achieve maximum benefit. The blinds are open. And here I sit, with a lovely view of the front garden and driveway and - you guessed it - the sunshine, and I'm writing. True, it's just a blog post, and it's certainly not going to burn like a comet across cyberspace (I have no illusions about my popularity). But still, I wrote it. I shared. There are several hundred more words that have been shifted from my sluggish brain to some form of permanency as a result, and even if only one other person in the world reads it, then I can say I've accomplished something.

No excuses.

Music of the Moment: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone soundtrack. The "boom box" is back in play (pardon the pun) as well.

On the Nightstand: I'm in the middle of several different books, each of which I've begun reading at intervals over the past several weeks - my reading goal for 2014 now in full swing. Among my collections of the best of such authors as Robert Louis Stevenson and William Shakespeare is a rather hefty volume of the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Celebrated Cases of Sherlock Holmes, which I was prompted to read after finishing Laurie R. King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I'm also reading Drums of Autumn, fourth in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, and a new ebook recently purchased after meeting author Kim Law at Manchester, Ex on the Beach. I'm treating this as another sign that I'm coming out of the funk - reading for pleasure and actually getting pleasure out of it. Maybe there's hope for me - after all, haven't I always said reading a book is good for you? So, what's your excuse?


Hello, NaNo ...

November is National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). And I'm doing it. Yup, 50,000 words in 30 days. Hoo, boy, what am I getting myself into? But I need to do this. In addition to polishing up the next eBook-to-be (scheduled to be released around the 1st of December), I need to write something NEW. It's just time. And I'm taking advantage of the NaNoWriMo push to do just that.

Believe it or not, I'm off to a good start - 1150 words already this morning, and in the mere span of an hour. I was in the ZONE! I'd forgotten that once I get started the words sort of start to write themselves ... now, that's not to say I won't slam into the proverbial brick wall at some point in the not too distant future, but as I said, I'm off to a good start. It is only the 2nd. We'll see how the rest of the month goes.

I'll try to post word count updates periodically throughout the month, but if you don't see me for a while, don't worry - I'm still here. I'm simply doing what we writers do on occasion - getting lost in our own little worlds, only coming up for air (and coffee) on rare occasions. Until I return, read a book! It's good for you.

Going back to the zone now.


The Saturday Shelf

Nothing to do but ...
All week I've been looking forward to today, with this notion in my head of, "I have nothing to do but ..." well, as it turns out, lots of things. In this day and age of the hurry-up-get-it-done-yesterday, be-on-the-go-24/7, brainwashed mindset, I don't think I will live another day that I truly have nothing I have to do.*

My sometimes misguided, always optimistic brain finished the original thought above with "... work on the book." Reality finishes the thought with


Houston, we have a problem ...

Years ago, my lovely friend and fellow writer Susan McBride (have you read any of Susan's books yet? why not?) wrote a post about how she wasn't the only Susan McBride on the block. She'll have to refresh my memory about whether she was the only one who was a writer.

Well, I have discovered - you guessed it - that I am not the only Jennifer Brooks. In addition, I am not the only Jennifer Brooks who writes.


The Big Announcement

Friends and fans, it's time to make THE announcement.

I'm so proud and excited to share the news that my first novel, No Evil Lost, will be available for purchase as an ebook (Kindle or Nook) this Thursday, September 5, 2013!

Isn't it gorgeous?? My terrific cover artist did a fantastic job, in my humble but honest opinion. =)

Now, a little about the book:


The Domino Effect

Ah, yes, the dreaded rewrite. Groan with me, fellow scribes ...

My invaluable first reader and I had a brainstorming session over the current WIP, and we agreed on a few changes that would make the book stronger, the flow better, and the story hold together more coherently, beginning to end. That accomplished, I've been working on the rewrite for most of the weekend, and I've discovered something.

The domino effect.


To think or not to think ...

No need to think. There's a line in the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that's not in the book (given: one of many); after Professor Umbridge instructs the students that there will be no need to talk while they read their lesson, Hermione mutters under her breath, "No need to think's more like it."

No need to think. How great would it be if we could get away with that, if only for a few hours at a time? No need to think. No need to dwell on the pressures of our daily lives, the stressors, the worries -


For Book Lovers Only

It's an unusually sunny January Saturday here in the mid-state ... we've had so much drear the past few weeks that I actually forgot what sunshine looked like. Cold, still - it is January, after all - but a lovely day to lounge and read. Especially since the WGH did all the laundry yesterday and I don't have to do anything today but go grocery shopping. And that's a maybe.

According to Goodreads, I'm 2 books behind on my 2013 Reading Challenge, so I'm off to the recliner for some quality time with Jamie and Claire. I'll leave you with some reading material to peruse from some of my favorite literary peeps ...


(Cracked) Reflections on A Year in the Life

It's either apologies or homage I must pay to my good friend Robin, who writes a blog called Cracked Reflections on a(n) (ab)Normal Life. I'm stealing her theme here for just a moment ...

Year in Review. I write an annual "update letter" to send out with our Christmas cards. This year I started it with the following disclaimer:


Getting There

I have a couple of whiteboards in my study, on which I write various and sundry things meant to inspire me. It's not there any more, but I'd once written the following quote:
Success is a journey, not a destination.
I didn't have the attribution for it, but according to The Quotations Page where I looked today, Arthur Ashe said it.

The quote brings to mind the old saying, "Getting there is half the fun." Lately my journey hasn't been nearly as much fun as I'd hoped.