Doing It Now

one day

One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now. -Paulo Coelho

Today is significant.  I’ve made it a goal not to be sad or closed-off emotionally on this day…because I know she wouldn’t want that from me.

One year ago today I woke up and had to accept that there wouldn’t be any more time to do or say anything with my mother.  Our window of time together grew narrower and narrower until just fifteen minutes into a new day, which happened to fall on the seventeenth day of May in the year 2015 it disappeared altogether.

This is normal and happens to all of us eventually.  The state of being alive, insures each and every one of us at some point in time, will die.  Some of us get a longer time to “do things” than others get, but the part that equalizes us all is that one small detail about not knowing WHEN it will happen for us.  We just don’t know how much time is left for ourselves, or for anyone. The older I get the more this plays out around me. With family. With friends. With beloved pets.

I don’t have regrets about my mother’s passing at all.  I made use of the time we were given, and said and did all the things I wanted to say and do.  The hardest part for me is accepting the fact it is permanent. I still have conversations with her, can hear her voice in my head, feel her familiar embrace, and see her influences in the decisions I make. For that reason, I have decided to embrace “Doing It Now” rather than waiting for later. My mother was my biggest fan and supporter, as only a mother can be, but she truly carried so much pride for my success as a writer. Even at her frailest, when death was literally tapping at her door, she still asked me about my latest book and how it was going.

I miss that simple inquiry from her most of all.

Today I am using her fierce belief in me to kick my arse (as Ethan would say) back into the game.  I’ve been gone, you see. Oh, I didn’t delete any of my social media, but I have been pretty much absent from actual writing for a long time. I’m talking about daily production of word counts–the incremental building of a story, scene by scene and chapter by chapter–which must happen each and every day in order for me to make a book become a reality. I can’t give an opinion on how it works for other writers, but for me it worked only if I wrote every single day.

Every.  Single.  Day.

original notebookIn the early days, the act of not writing actually hurt me. I carried around one of those black and white lined journals from the Dollar Store and scribbled notes in it during the day while I was teaching. Any idea had to be put down into words or I would have lost my mind. Here is an original page from when Naked was being born in a notebook with a pen, circa 2012. Everything on that page made it into the book.

But somehow, through the knock-downs and missteps of life, I lost my way and stopped writing. At first it was necessary for me to have time to grieve, and to take care of those things that needed to be done when a loved one dies, and I’d done the whole process only a short year earlier when my beloved father died. All normal and expected, yes. But then some other things happened on the heels of Mom’s death that really rocked my confidence, and my belief in myself as a writer, my love for my characters, my ability to create, my financial future…to the point I became paralyzed and stopped writing.


I stopped writing, and soon the process of “not writing” became habit forming.  I evolved into a writer-who-didn’t-write-anymore. I allowed some really shitty circumstances (events beyond and totally unrelated to my mother’s death) the power to steal my joy and my love for WRITING. I allowed it to the point that I forgot what it felt like to write. This spiraled on until I couldn’t seem to remember how to do it at all. That really hurt. It was scary. I was terrified I couldn’t write another book again. Or if I did manage to write a new book, people would hate it because it was crap. I had no optimism about things ever improving. I just accepted “not-writing” as my new reality…and I was miserable.

I was allowing extraneous information to bombard my creative output to the point of complete and total distraction. Like an ADHD squirrel hopped up on so many acorns he will never find where he’s stashed them all–my ideas for writing were my acorns–I was no different. I dashed from one thing to the next aimlessly trying to: chase the latest gossipy news in the author community, follow the hot new genres making a killing on Amazon, look into some new marketing trend, read a new series, study what successful authors did with their books, implement a new promotional strategy, do new [insert whatever you want here]. Basically everything except for Raine Miller writing another book. I was an educator for 23 years. I know very well what distraction does to creativity and output. I knew better than to allow myself to be  distracted, but I let it happen anyway. I was worse than some of my former First Graders who struggled to pay attention in class or get their work done in time for recess.

This is a painful admission for me, but I’ve known it was a task that needed doing for a long time. I’ve also known the actual date I would need to share my truth for my own emotional wellness. Today is that day. It has been over a year since my last “blog” post, which was the one about visiting Chatsworth in April of 2015–a place Jane Austen herself knew and admired. I even stopped writing my blog! That’s just crazy when I think about it. There have been other posts recently from brave authors in my community baring their struggles to find a rhythm in this business. A world where they not only function, but thrive as they once did. I’ve ached to find that rhythm in the past year-and-a-half. Ached. There has been no easy answer, nor did I discover a magic solution for solving my “writer’s block” or “dry spell” or “lack of new books” other than to just start writing again.

non-writing writerStarting to write again is much harder than it sounds. I cannot say why it was so hard for me, but it’s sitting right up there at the top of my “difficult-shit-I-must-do-or-else-list.” I had to get back to my writerly roots and return to scribbling ideas down in a notebook. I had to make myself bleed out a few hundred words even if I chucked every word of it the next day. I had to turn off Facebook and my email notifications. I had to power off my phone. I had to stop trying to explain to curious readers who demanded to know when the next book was arriving (most very nice about it, but some not so nice, and a few, downright nasty). I had to stop looking at what everyone else was doing and go back to that place in time when I never questioned what I was writing, or why I was writing it, or if it was going to sell, or if it was going to make lists, or any of a myriad of other irrelevant concerns…I just wrote. I had to get myself back to that place in my head.

At first it was simply jotting down ideas and plots in another Dollar Store journal. Then it was writing a synopsis for a new book and going through the entire plot with a rough outline. Maybe it was just one sentence that day–only ten words or so–but it was writing. I could stop working for the day and know I was making progress no matter how incremental. As I began to get back into it I realized I didn’t lose my skills at all. Everything I’d learned was still there in my head, I just hadn’t been utilizing much of it. I had allowed extraneous “input” to bombard my creative output to the point of complete and total distraction which led to no new books.

So, the purpose of this post today isn’t any big revelation or announcement about my books or my publishing schedule, it’s more about my need to be honest about my experience on my writing journey. That last highlighted bit is important. My journey. I know others have had to help their parents along the path into death. I know others have children who grow up and leave the nest when you don’t know how you will do without them. I know others have had legal matters complicate their lives and take up their valuable time and energy until a resolution comes. I know others have had fears and worries about their future in a competitive business that just seems to get more competitive by the day. I know other people have these things on their plate, too. The only difference was in how I chose to deal with what had landed on my plate. I knew what I needed to do to make the miserable feeling go away, and even though it took me over a year to get there, I finally managed it.

writeI am happy to share that I am back to being a WRITING WRITER again. I’ve written a whole new book, and am halfway into a second one now. I like what I’ve written. I think it’s good writing. I see books that people will enjoy and recommend to their friends. If you are interested in knowing more about my new series you can check out the Pinterest board for Filthy Rich and can find the Amazon pre-order link there, too.

Filthy Rich is being published by Montlake Romance, and will only be available on Kindle if you read ebooks. Again, the purpose of this post today is not promotional. Plenty of time for that later because there’s a lot more coming from me in the next months. You’ll see. Did I mention I am back to being a WRITING WRITER? Well, yeah…that. And it is the most wonderful feeling of all.

Before I sign off, I just want to reach out and say thank you to my supporters. Those of you who have continued to show their love and caring for me personally, as well as for my books. It hasn’t gone unnoticed, nor has it been disregarded. Your patient kindness and outpouring of love over the past year has kept me alive. Truly. I am so grateful for everything I have, the people in my life, the friendships, the wonderful humans and the non-human fur babies who have touched me in wondrous ways I could never express adequately my thanks if I had one hundred years of time to attempt it.

If you take anything at all from my ramblings today, I’d love for you to think about the advice of Mr. Coelho at the top of this post…

“Do It Now.”

I am.