Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's All A Matter Of Balance!

I'm having one of those days, in one of those weeks. You know, where you have writing projects that need attention and life keeps getting in the way? Wise use of time available insures some writing gets done. But let me back up here and set the stage...

First of all, I don't work outside the home, but I sure do work inside it. While I have given up a lot of other projects, I still have a big garden, and I have to at least make sure people get fed, dishes get done, and there is clean clothing to wear. Now and then, I take a layer off the dust, so that looks all freshly fallen again...

Knowing that weekends get chaotic around here, I spent most of last weekend blogging. I had just finished two deadline short story projects over the last several weeks, and then the first draft of a novel I've been picking away at since last October. Figuring I would be interrupted quite often, I put time into getting this blog set up. I got COMPANION DRAGONS TALES out of mothballs and refurbished, and then finally got something with pictures up on our hobby blog, IN MY "SPARE" TIME. Blogging is something I can easily leave and come back to later, if anything else pressing comes up, because it's not as dependent on that spur-of-the-moment muse input. As it turned out, other than a visit from family on Sunday and some 'in and out' folks while yard work was being done, I had most of the weekend to myself. It was still wisely spent time, as here on the blog, I can expound on whatever happens to be the topic-du-jour without hitting some sort of post length limit, or having what I write become lost in that carnival atmosphere of the social networking sites. It's hard to compete for attention span in between game requests, random status updates, and cute cat pictures with captions. Here, this is my show entirely.

So, since I have no budget for personal web space right now, blogging makes more sense than endlessly posting on Facebook, Twitter, or even G+. Oh sure, the social networking sites have their uses, because if you have an open public persona like I do, you can easily interact with readers and network with other writers and publishers. But to have the time and place to share more detailed ideas and info, you really need some web real estate of your own. Blogs are wonderful, because they are basically free sites where you can post all sorts of interesting things, and they're fairly simple to link together or with other sites online. When I put a new post here, I can tout it elsewhere. Win-win!

All part of that balance thing...

Writing time is a precious commodity, even in this all adult household. I used to have dreams of what being an empty-nester would be like, and they were not at all realistic. Life does get in the way at any age, and sometimes you just have to work around the interfering situation. Of course the more responsibilities you have, the more demands on your time, and you have to adjust the writing schedule accordingly. As long as you're clear on the fact that these are necessary things which must be dealt with, you're going to have to deal with them first and then squeeze writing time in wherever you can. But let's be honest—constant checking of Facebook and email, engaging in long-winded chats, or zoning out with online games are not interruptions. They are distractions. That's something you do to yourself to avoid sitting down to write. I've been guilty of a few of those too. It's a tough call sometimes, because I am a family person and I love my friends, and if someone wants to spend time with me, I'm likely to throw deadlines to the wind and go. So unlike all those articles that tell you '15 things published writers do right" I'm not going to preach to you. You're an adult, you should know where to draw the line. If you're always finding other things to do instead of writing, maybe you don't have the passion for this.

So how's the week been so far you ask?

Monday I was home alone with the dog, and had a bunch of vegetables that had to be dealt with. If you garden, that's going to happen. When I got done, it was late in the day, I was completely wiped out, and my back was nagging me relentlessly. The only writing I did was going over the final chapter of the book I just finished the first draft of. I was pleased that I got even that much done after such a long day. I was hoping to have the next day free to start from the top and begin my second pass. 

Yeah, right. Murphy's Law always trumps in when you make other plans.

Tuesday I had to run out and help my mother renew her health benefits. That was a necessity, and it required picking her up, going over forms, and her appearing in person with me at her side to answer whatever she didn't understand. While we were out, I did some shopping, because half the day was blown anyway, and gas is far too expensive to make multiple trips. I live in the country, everything is at least a 15 minute drive away. By the time we got home, I was burned out once more. After briefly catching up online, my back, right hip, and knee were screaming they had taken all the abuse they could that day. So I took a nap. Writing under those circumstances is not going to amount to much.

Tuesday night I got a manuscript back from one of the writers I edit for. That kind of set me up for the rest of this week. Wednesday I spent the majority of at my PC, first working at the guest manuscript and then starting my second pass on my own novel. I did take breaks for things like doing dishes and straightening up, because I'm not wealthy enough to be able to afford a housekeeper. Besides I need the exercise. Writing is sedentary work. I got 1/4 of each done, and felt like that was a pretty enough.

Today—more veggies. The back is better, the hip and knee are still unhappy, but they have to be dealt with, because produce doesn't keep. When I took my quick race around the web before settling down to work, I decided this blog needed another post. What better to write about than how tough it is to work writing in between all those other things life tosses your way? So I spent about half an hour getting some ideas down, saved and closed out, with the intention of coming back to this later in the day. Things did not go as quickly as I hoped, so I decided not to linger too long  elsewhere online this evening. After dinner and dishes, I sat down to finish this while the ballgame was on. I want tomorrow for more editing, so tonight I am putting in some overtime. An author site of any kind needs to be updated regularly to remain interesting. 

Now weekends here get crazy, and they often start before Saturday, because we have ongoing renovations worked around everyone's work schedule (except mine—GRUMBLE).
 Since my current 'office' is in one end of the dining room in an open floor plan ell, there are often noisy people trooping through. Sometimes I have my mother for most of the day, and because of her advancing age, memory loss, and frailty, I won't sit with my back to her, typing. Every moment we have now is precious. I have learned to use Monday through Wednesday are my most productive days, but I get what I can done the rest of the week. It varies a lot, but even this year when I have been ill a couple times and have another grandson due any day, I've written several short stories and turned in one novel-length anthology. I have another novel that will be heading to editing soon. I've had one novel and a children's book see print this year, as well as two short stories so far in different anthologies. I have also edited three books and a couple short stories for others. Admittedly, it's actually been a slow year for me, and some of my peers can write rings around that. It still more writing than some folks get to, and the year isn't over yet kiddies. 

Bottom line is, some writing is better than no writing at all. There are things outside the writing part of my life I can't or won't ignore, and at times they get priority. If you love what you're doing, like I love writing, you'll steal the time somewhere else. There's a lot of things I'd love to be doing tonight besides writing about writing, but this is important. Somewhere, out there, amongst my readers, is someone who needs a wake up call with a boost of inspiration. You can't buy that at Starbucks, but you can get it here. If I can get even one book done in a year, you can sit down and write a page a day and do the same thing. Just think about that...

You just have to find a way to balance things out in your life. You know best where that has to be. I can't always keep the schedule I set for myself. I don't let that discourage me, I just make up for it somewhere else. You can do the same.

Write on,

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Welcome to my author blog. I'm Nancy A. Hansen, and while my day job was homemaker and mom to my boys for many years, I also spent the last 24 of them learning how to write well. Over the past 3-1/2 years I've been working with independent publishers in the New Pulp/Action Adventure/Genre Fiction field. I write mostly sword & sorcery fantasy, but I have branched out into other genres. At this time I have 2 adult fiction novels and two anthologies published under my own imprint sponsored by Pro Se Press, and numerous short stories in collections with Pro Se, Airship 27, and Mechanoid Press. It's been a busy second half of life so far.

Believe me, there's a lot more to come too!

This is what the logo for my Pro Se Imprint, HANSEN'S WAY, looks like:

When you see that logo on a book, you know you have something I wrote that the world concept was over 20 years in the making. That's a long time to hang onto a dream! Thanks go to Pro Se wizard-at-large, Sean Ali, for the graphic work here. He makes us all look good! 

Below is a look at the covers to my books. I've wanted to lay my work out like this for quite some time, it's incentive for me to keep working when things get tough. Writing is not simply stringing a lot of words together and then... POOF! You have a story. It's fascinating, maddening, and takes up a good part of your day. Eventually it takes over your life. That's when the evil muse moves into your house and whispers little things to you at the most inopportune moments. That I've accomplished as much as I have is somewhat of a minor miracle, because life and time does not stop for deadlines or writers block. It's also a testament to my lackadaisical housekeeping skills, and my ability to inspire my loved ones to fend for themselves and pick up the slack where needed. 

Any of these tomes from Pro Se Press are available on in both paperback and Kindle, on Barnes and Noble online in both paperback and Nook, and Smashwords in just about any E-format you can think of. 

Mechanoid Press books are on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble for Nook. They do have a couple things on their website:

Airship 27 books are available on Amazon or through their website:

I will eventually have permanent badges and links up to everything, so bear with me. This is one of three blogs I have, along with active accounts on Facebook and Google+, which I hit regularly. There are email newsletters to read, and my languishing accounts on Twitter, Linked-In and Goodreads. Now and then, I need to write, eat, sleep, and say hello to family too.

Now here we go with the written stuff...

FORTUNE'S PAWN  and  PROPHECY'S GAMBIT are the the first two novels in a trilogy. The final book in the series, MASTER'S ENDGAME, should be out sometime next year. I'm just gearing up to put that one together now, since I have another novel I just finished the first draft on. These are published by Pro Se Press.

TALES OF THE VAGABOND BARDS and THE HUNTRESS OF GREENWOOD take place in the same world as the novels above, but they are both anthology collections of short stories. Reading them, you will recognize the setting backdrop and an occasional crossover characters. These are also Pro Se Press books.

SINBAD: THE NEW VOYAGES Volume 1 is a collection of short stories in which I shared space with two other writers. We each have one story in this love letter to the old Ray Harryhausen movies, with an updated, multi-ethnic cast. It's published by Airship 27.

MONSTER EARTH Volume 1 is another collection of short stories in which I share space with 6 other authors. This is an homage to Kaiju movies, in creating an alternate view of earth, where giant monsters instead of nuclear warheads become the weapon of choice. This one is from Mechanoid Press.

FANTASY AND FEAR was one of three initial magazines Pro Se Press offered. The other two were MASKED GUN MYSTERY and  PECULIAR ADVENTURES. I had one story in all three issues of F&F, and I became editor for PA. These magazines were originally printed by LULU, and were in a standard, slick size format.

The story in this one is THE SONG OF HEROES: Lori's Lament, and it was my first published piece of fiction.  It was written based on a vivid dream and was one of my two audition pieces for Pro Se. There were plans to make audio versions of the mags, but we changed formats. I have a courtesy copy of the audio version somewhere in my files. It sounds amazing!

The story I had in F&F #2 was MASQUERRA AND THE STORM LORD which was written to flesh out a story idea by writing pal Roger Stegman. This was my other audition piece for Pro Se. The interior art for the story, done by the very talented Dalton Carpenter, is an amazing piece that captured the heart of the story perfectly. It remains one of my favorite illustrations.

In F&F #3, I debuted the first Roshanna The Huntress story, OF KIN AND CLAN. That tale is now part of THE HUNTRESS OF GREENWOOD anthology, but it was updated for that volume. 

In August of 2011, Pro Se went to a digest size magazine on a monthly basis. That continued for 18 issues (it's now quarterly and has more pages). While I was writing novel length projects, I still managed to contribute short work now and then. Below are the issues I have stories in. 

My first SILVER PENTACLE story appeared in this issue. It is hard to find on Amazon in paperback format because of some kind of glitch. This is the correct cover for September 2011

THE SILVER PENTACLE: TO KINDLE A FIRE is the first in a series of stories about a post apocalyptic earth, where four elemental superbeings ally with a star traveling demigod on a cosmic treasure hunt. Along the way, they try to set things right so humanity will survive. This series is a real departure for me, because it's not pure fantasy.

In THE SEVEN KNIGHTLY VIRTUES, a strange young foundling with a particular talent offers the ultimate sacrifice when his beautiful little stepsister is kidnapped by fairy people. This magazine is the November 2011 issue. 

OF SAINTS AND ANGELS is a holiday tale of a lady of the open road whose checkered past is figuratively and literally catching up with her. My story has a wonderful interior illustration by that ever talented Sean Ali.
 THE KEENER EYE is my first foray into detective stories. It came about inn two ways. First of all, a challenge by Tommy Hancock, my publisher at Pro Se, who sent me a suggested paragraph opening to a PI story, likely hoping I'd set it in a classic era story and break out of my fantasy 'rut'. Secondly, in an email writers newsgroup I belong to, people were lamenting that in this digital age of cell phones and tweets, you can't use present time for a classic PI story. Contrary person that I am, I set out to prove that you can actually have a contemporary PI with all the modern gadgets, and still have a great read.

The June 2012 issue of Pro Se Presents featured my story THE WEB OF LIFE, which introduces Katherine Mary 'Kate' Keener and her close associates. She lives and works out of a fictional town in my home state of Connecticut. This is my very first Pro Se Presents cover BTW! I shared space in this issue with fellow Pro Se author and old online friend Kevin Rodgers. Sean Ali, Pro Se's mage of graphics and setup for the print books created that cover for me.

Lightning struck again the same year. I got another Pro Se Presents cover story for the December 2011 issue. Another Sean Ali cover, and he created that kewl little logo based on my story description of the one on the door to Kate Keener's office. I love it when the folks I work with are fans of what I do!

This issue is very special for me too, because it is completely devoted to my writing. My second Song of Heroes tale, DARK EYES OF NIGHT shares room with the above Keener Eye story. 

Now and then, writers have a chance to do something special for others with our talents. That was the case when I participated in a flash fiction challenge for work that would be donated to charity. The thirty best responses were collected into the first LOST CHILDREN ANTHOLOGY. All proceeds from the book go to charities that support neglected, abused, and exploited children. I'm very proud to have been part of this cause. 

This one is on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle, and you can find out more about it and the newest volume on their blog:

Words have power to do good or harm, and writers are the ones who understand that best.

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SEÑORITA SCORPION is the first of the Pro Se PULP OBSCURA project stories I've had published. Señorita Scorpion was a classic pulp character written by Les Savage, and the idea here was to continue her adventures while keeping with the classic feel of the old stories and capturing the original author's voice. My story in this one, THE BELLS OF ST. FERDINAND is the very first western tale I've ever written, and it's been well received. It likely won't be my last. 

This is the very latest release of mine from Pro Se, and it's something I'm extremely excited about! It's also the first action adventure book I have written that is primarily aimed at children, though I'm positive adults are going to enjoy it as well. The COMPANION DRAGONS TALES series is a joint venture with longtime writer friends Lee Houston Jr. and Roger Stegman. This is the first book in an ongoing series of stories about small dragons and the magical people they live with. Lots of interesting things going on inside with a bit of humor, some very bad puns, and the most mixed up mess of a universal setup you can imagine. Nothing and no one is sacred, and there's plenty of action and suspense to go around. A FAMILIAR NAME introduces the first of several little dragons and their human companions. Oh yes, there will be plenty more after this one! In fact, we have a brand new blog that is devoted to the series:

COMPANION DRAGONS TALES also launches Pro Se Press' YOUNG PULP imprint. I'm very proud and humbled to have one of our stories chosen for that honor.

Whew, that's a lot of work!

Now most of you who came here either followed a link or stumbled in by accident, and then got curious. What I want anyone who sees this page to understand is that while everything here was published in the last three years, I've spent almost half my life so far learning how to write well, perfecting my skills, and building up a file bursting with ideas and manuscripts in various stages of being finished. There's a level of dedication to craft involved when you willingly spend a big chunk of a couple decades writing, with only small success at being published. If not for my dear online friends, who encouraged me to keep at it, I probably would have lost my motivation long ago, when the rejection slips kept coming in and my pages sat in drawers waiting to be read. Writing can be a hobby or a vocation, but it's often maddening and regularly lonely work. We writers spend a lot of time all by ourselves, inventing imaginary lands filled with make-believe people who whisper to us. In some places, they lock you up for that. When people ask me how I got published, I tell them it's one part perseverance, and three parts stubborn denial.

So why is this blog called WRITING FROM HOME? Well there are a couple reasons. First of all, back in the days when I was a struggling, unpublished author networking with other folks online who were in the same boat, I accepted a position as a volunteer moderator for Prodigy Internet's BOOKS & WRITING BULLETIN BOARD, which was one of the Prodigy Online Communities. That is where I met Lee, Roger, Kevin, and a whole bunch of other talented people who loved reading and writing so much, we all banded together. Many of the characters in my imprint books were born on that BB. I was given an abandoned forum called HOUSEWIFE WRITERS and rechristened it WRITING FROM HOME. So when I was thinking up a title for this blog of mine devoted to my wordsmithing, I figured, why let a good name die?

And really, writing from home is what I do. I've had laptops on my knees in the bedroom at night while I sat in my PJs and typed. I've run out of the kitchen to get on the PC in the living room and tap out a few paragraphs while the casserole was in the oven. I've scribbled notes while gardening or helping kids with homework. I've had a home office that doubled as a spare bedroom. Right now, while my current home is under renovation, I have a crooked little desk built by a former owner in my dining room at the end of the ell, where I work and try not to get too distracted by the noise and the people coming in and out. Writing is not something I do only when I have quiet time in a secluded place, though that would be lovely for a change. LOL! Writing is a mindset that gets your butt planted in the chair, your fingers banging the keys, and your brain making images that come out in words on a page. You either do it, or you don't. I have to write from home, and I don't have an attic garret to fo hide in, so I do the best I can. 

If I haven't put you to sleep, I hope you come back again, to see what else I have to say. In the meantime, Ariel The Wonder Dog, my faithful sidekick, says, "Woof Woof!" I think that means goodbye, or maybe she's just sick of funny cat pictures with captions because they're too hard to chase. But if you buy Mommy's books, that way we can afford to give Ariel more treats with whipped cream on them, and lots of squeaky balls because she keeps losing them under the furniture.

Write On,