Of Rats and Newborn Koalas

Yesterday was release day for RAT RACE (yay!)

But I’ll tell you, I never thought it would get here. Not because I was wiggly with excitement like I usually am for a new release, but because I honestly wasn’t sure I could make it happen.

I’m sure you heard—because I whined about it incessantly and melodramatically—that I was sick for almost 8 weeks. And not with anything interesting … just a stupid cold! But I guess because I hadn’t been sick in so long, I have the immune system of a newborn koala* and it took its toll.

And—not to whine incessantly and melodramatically—it wasn’t just any stupid cold. It rendered me helpless … like a newborn—never mind. But I couldn’t work. Couldn’t function hardly at all.

The only thing I could do was wallow around like a newborn ko and think about all my work that wasn’t getting done.

Along with RAT RACE in March, I’m launching BOOKED in April, PLOTTED in May, and BOUND in June. I had a meticulous and perhaps overzealous writing and production schedule that suddenly had a rather dramatic eight-week gap in it. Egad.

But when I began feeling human again, a weird thing happened. Instead of bouncing up and diving into the task at hand to get back on track, I became paralyzed. Couldn’t do anything. Didn’t know what to do or where to start.

But more alarming, I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

You regulars here at Chicks probably know me well enough by now to know that I am the sunniest of optimists. Nothing gets me down. My glass is not just half-full, it’s overflowing with the elixir of happiness and Ghost-of-Christmas-Present-good-cheer.

This was a little bit scary to me, but oh well, I still had BOUND to write. So I shoved all that ickiness down deep and started typing until I got to a serviceable ending to the draft.

But then, it all bubbled up again.

Don’t wanna.
Why am I doing this?
This is a ridiculous endeavor.

I did a bit of soul-searching and finally had an epiphany … this is what burnout looks (and feels) like!

That changed everything.

I clicked away the manuscript. (I almost said I put it in a drawer, but c’mon, I’m not some eighteenth-century scribe sharpening the nub on my quill pen.)

And I quit thinking about the writing and started focusing on the producing.

I made this cool graphics hub for my Review Crew and other rabid fans. I formatted the manuscripts I’d finished. I set up preorders. I revamped my welcome sequence when people subscribe to my mailing list to give them even more freebies (squee!). I brainstormed keywords. I agonized over blurbs (which you’ll find hilarious if you go to the preorder pages for BOOKED, PLOTTED, and BOUND). I rewrote procedures for my Review Crew so I wouldn’t sound like such a maniacal taskmaster when it was time to send them ARCs. I dealt with the US Copyright Office and lived to tell the tale.

In short, I engaged an entirely different area of my brain.

And guess what? I snapped out of it! It energized me in a way the drafting of the manuscript hadn’t.

And guess what else? I still met my launch date goal for RAT RACE, and I truly believe I’ll hit the marks for the next three books. (Although, just to hedge my bets and not put undue pressure on my delicate self, I did make the pre-order dates for all three of those December 1st. I’ll change them when I’m sure. Girl can’t be too careful with her newfound epiphany, eh?)

So, I’m happy and relieved that RAT RACE is out in the world, and the next three in the series are up for preorder and falling into place quite nicely.

I think I’ll reward myself with some eucalyptus leaves.

*no idea if newborn koalas have delicate immune systems but it has truthiness to it so I’m leaving it

How ‘bout you? Have you ever become stymied by something you never even thought about before? Did a change of scenery—mental or physical—do the trick for you too? Do you think of me as a helpless and delicate newborn koala? Are you afraid that the tiniest whisper of wind will knock me from my eucalyptus tree?

26 thoughts on “Of Rats and Newborn Koalas

  1. Becky, so glad you are feeling better and are back to your old, or should I say NEW self! Best of luck with the new series! I can’t wait to read them all!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so sorry about your extended cold, Becky! It’s the absolute worst when they drag on and on and on like that.
      My last burnout episode was in September, after I finished my third manuscript of the year. I took a break and didn’t write for 6 weeks and it was glorious. Like you said, a much-needed break for that part of my brain.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m glad you got your mojo back too, JC! It’s still a bit weird to me, though. How can we burn out doing something we enjoy and are compelled to do? The brain is a mysterious thing. I guess it’s like exercise. I don’t just do bicep curls every day. I rotate in leg day and core day and back day and yoga and cardio days. And, of course, I never miss a rest day. And I hula hoop because it’s fun. I guess it’s the same thing with the brain. *runs off to jot down this insight and post it where I can refer to it every day*

        Liked by 4 people

    1. You’re so much smarter than I am, Liz! You figure it out before it gets bad. You probably protect yourself from 8-week long colds, too. Will you pleeeeze be my guardian angel and protect me from myself? Pleeeeeeeeeze?

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Becky, congratulations!!!! You did it!!! And I’m not going to think of you as a koala, because I hear they (and those adorable kangaroos) are a bit…pugilistic. My son spent a year in Australia and informed me those are 2 creatures you really don’t want to run into in the wild. (I was more concerned with, say, snakes.) But I am truly in awe–kicking off a 15-novella series is a huge accomplishment, sick or not. Here’s to continued success and wellness, and cheers to you and the Sugar Mill Marketplace Mysteries!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Lisa! You know, now that you mention it, I recently heard something rather unflattering about koalas recently. Maybe that’s why they were on my mind. I guess it’s good that you don’t think of me that way! Here’s to us ALL staying healthy! *clinks champagne glasses because we’re fancy like that*

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Congrats, Becky!! (Despite Lisa’s comment above, I’d like to think of you as a baby koala because they’re soooo cute.)

    I got in a slump with my most recent manuscript. Not sure what helped me the most: encouraging words from my friends, remembering that I’ve actually written complete manuscripts before, or checking out book-related swag for the future!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Jen, and I hear you about the power of encouraging friends! Worth their weight in gold, I tells ya. I have to have a little pep talk with myself before I start every manuscript: “you’ve done it before, you can do it again.” Repeated until I believe it. And, you’re right, swag is always fun!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Is there something even stronger than “awe”? Amazed awe? Because you are truly a force of nature, Becky, to not only plan and then execute….uh, carry out such a grand plan, but to do so whilst languishing on your fainting couch! My, oh, my! Koalas got nothin’ on you, girl. Congratulations!!! (And so glad you’re finally feeling better!)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. WOW! I envy your productivity. I had pneumonia in December and bronchitis in January when I was supposed to be writing Twin Cities Mystery 4 and launching Mystery 3. Not much happened, and I may have also been guilty of routine procrastination. But your writing and spirit are amazing. Stay healthy!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Ellen. Isn’t it crazy that no matter how many times we sit down to start a book it’s like we’ve never done it before?? Luckily it comes back pretty quick!


  6. Becky! First: huge congrats on Rat (Race)! Second: Your multi-series writing and prolific nature have me in constant awe. Third: I very much enjoyed your use of “nub.”

    I think changing scenery (which sometimes means tasks) is such a great way to handle burnout. I’ve been known to empty the dishwasher or scrub the toilet for a “fun break.” And it helps!

    Glad you’re feeling good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kathy! I actually had to go back to see how I used nub. Maybe I AM and 18th century scribe! If you’re ever feeling like you need to change it up, my toilets almost always need scrubbing and that dishwasher is NOT emptying itself ….


  7. Becky, I’m so glad you are healthy and got your mojo back! Hubs and I have been moving from one illness to the next this winter. Still not as energetic as we’d like, but I’ll settle for being able to breathe through both nostrils at this point! Congrats on the new book. Excited that your new series has finally launched!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Vickie. I’m so sorry you and hubs are fighting cooties so much lately. What is going on this year, anyway?? Hopefully we have a multi-year reprieve coming up!


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