Some people are very J. Myers-Briggs, I’m talking. J is for Judging, but not for judgmental, if you’re not familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, a type of personality assessment.

J types would rather make a decision — any decision — rather than leave things hanging. P types, which stands for Perceiving, would rather get more information first. Even if they already have a lot of information, more is surely good, right? Just to be sure. Because a better option might come along, or a better decision might become clear.

J types tend to get impatient with P types, whom they see as never getting anything done. P types might point out that J types, in their determination to get stuff done, often make hasty decisions that create more work in the long run, because things have to be undone or redone.

Both tendencies have their strengths and weaknesses. But one downside of the Perceiving tendency is that, without a strong external deadline, things can be put off indefinitely.

You won’t be surprised to learn I’m a P, though I can function as a J when I have to. “Have to” being the operative term there. One of my challenges in daily life is to find better balance between P-ness (oh no I didn’t) and J-ness. The writing life doesn’t usually contain a lot of strong external deadlines, except on those occasions when they’re imposed by a publisher or editor (one advantage of traditional publishing for P types).

And part of writing is that the story has a life of its own, and can go off in unexpected directions. Whole sections, or entire books, can need to be rewritten if the characters reveal something about themselves that wasn’t clear at the outset. Or external factors can come into play. For instance, my WIP has a protagonist who was a coroner named Megan. Guess what? There’s a new show that just premiered last weekend that features a coroner named Megan. Whoops! Time for me to do some tinkering.

I set deadlines, but don’t always meet them because of the dynamics of the story. But daily goals are still very useful. My hope is that as I get more settled into my writing life, I’ll find a pattern that works for me, that lets me be consistently productive. For me, that will be freedom. Freedom to write, freedom from anxiety and guilt if I’m not getting enough done, freedom to enjoy my life and know that I’m doing well.

Where do you fall on the P-to-J spectrum? Are you more of a decider, or more of a wait-and-see person? And whatever you do in your life, reading or writing or parenting or 9-to-5-ing, how you do bring structure to your life? Where’s the balance that brings you that sense of freedom?

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Feeding the Muse: Music

Most of the time, I like writing to music. Early in the morning, when it’s quiet, I can go either way; but if there’s background noise like voices, tv, etc., I need to put in my earbuds and shut it out.

The question then becomes, which music? I have a bunch of Pandora stations, plus playlists I’ve made up of my own music (of which I had a lot more before a certain person, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, killed my external hard drive — ahem). If I’m using Freedom, no Pandora, but otherwise I tend to use it because it requires less thought on my part and has more variety.

I usually favor wordless music of various sorts. I have a J.S. Bach station, for instance, and a Chopin station, a Herbie Hancock station, some blues and folk — and now, thanks to St. Paddy’s Day, I have a Celtic station going that I really like.

Not that this is the music I listen to otherwise. When I’m in the car, I want driving music, with a good beat. Popular songs that are very familiar to me sometimes work for writing music. But most of the time, music with vocals is too distracting, because the lyrics interfere with the words in my head.

Writers, what about you? What’s your preferred writing environment? Quiet, noisy, isolated, or at a coffee shop? If you listen to music while you write, what music? Book lovers (which I hope is all of us), same questions for your ideal reading environment.

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What Zoe Said

Paranormal romance author Zoe Winters was one of the pioneers of e-book self-publishing, before Joe Konrath or Amanda Hocking or any of the other names you may have heard of. She was smart, and strategic — and worked really, really hard — and it’s paid off for her. She has a growing, loyal readership, and is making a living from her writing. I don’t do fangrrl, but if I did I’d probably be a Zoe fangrrl.

So when I heard that Zoe had done a guest post at All Indie Publishing on e-book pricing, I went to take a look. And, as is most often the case, I thought she made some really good points.

Besides just pointing you to the post and saying “What Zoe said,” I’m adding one other point of comparison on pricing. Downloading a single song generally costs 99 cents. That’s become the accepted price point.

But a book isn’t a song. A short story is like a song, maybe, but a book is more like an album. So, if you’re an indie author doing the 99 cent price on your books, ask yourself: does anyone expect musicians to price their albums at 99 cents? If you saw an album that cheap, would you think it was any good? The answer to the first question is certainly no, and I think for most of us the answer to the second question would be no too.

A plea to indie authors: do yourselves a favor. If you want to be taken seriously, as a purveyor of quality material, don’t price your books at 99 cents, unless it’s for a very short time, as a special promotional price. For a short story, sure, 99 cents is a fair price. But longer works are worth more, and should be priced accordingly.

Let’s not train readers to expect e-books to be permanently cheap. It does us all a disservice.

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Writing Update

So, people, I am excited. I have the premise for an entire PNR series, and am working on the first book. I’m a pretty hardcore pantser, so I’m also excited that I’ve done plotting! and family trees! and have a lot of the background details worked out.

My other book, which was about 5 different genres, is still there waiting, but I’m going to do something just a wee bit more focused first.

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Tap, Tap …

is this thing on?

*clears throat*

Hi. I’d like to thank you all for coming. I know, it’s been a while. First I took a Twacation, and then some offline events in my life have kept me very busy for the last several months.

But I’m glad to say that I’m finally climbing back into the writing saddle, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor. Good to see you all again.

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Brokeback Twitter

Hello, world. Yes, that’s me, over in the corner, wearing my dunce cap. *waves*

Over two months without a blog post; shameful. What’s my excuse? I blame Twitter.

Yes. Clearly (very clearly) one of the main challenges I face as a writer is time management. And the biggest timesuck in my world is Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter. I love following lots of writing and publishing people and hearing about new trends, ideas, techniques, and services. I love celebrating when an indie author releases a new book, or someone announces a book deal, or a release date. And the people I follow on Twitter are smart, fun, and fabulous.

But therein lies the problem: I don’t want to miss anything. If I’m not constantly refreshing my stream and obsessively reading it, I might not catch this conversation, or that new blog post, or the link to a timely article, or even the latest picture of a hottie who just might be the perfect model for one of my heroes.

No doubt there are people who can stay on top of all that and still be focused and productive in their writing lives. I, alas, have not yet reached that level of multi-tasking ninjaness, and perhaps I never will.

Technology is a wonderful thing, but I need to unplug, to quiet my mind and my world. The worlds and characters inside me are shy. They need encouragement to come out to play, and it’s hard to attend to them when the noise-to-signal ratio gets too high.

Twitter, I have to keep you at arm’s length, sparing you just a few precious moments out of my writing day. It’s not you, really, it’s me. But don’t worry, I’ll be around. I just can’t quit you.

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Happy Bloomsday!

Fans of James Joyce, if they’re fortunate enough to find themselves in Dublin today, can retrace Leopold Bloom’s steps through the city on June 16, 1904, as depicted in Joyce’s novel Ulysses.

For the rest of us, here’s Joyce himself reading an excerpt from his masterpiece.

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