Zombie Fighters’ Guide to Balancing Process and Purpose by Janine Donoho

Hawk in flightIn the wild blue stratosphere of authorpreneurs, I suppose I’ve fledged. Not ready for the high thermals or gale forces yet, but I gained a few skills. What I’m struggling with? Finding a dynamic balance between purpose, which is to write new stories, and the process of social media success. I’m told this connects me with new readers.

I’m definitely better at the former. Yet as anyone who’s been employed knows,Zombie warrior process can crush your productivity—if you let it. Since this publishing blitz, I’ve virtually met virtual people that I’d love to talk with over an actual cuppa. That doesn’t get the story written, though, now does it?

In keeping with that, I’m relying on the essentials of zombie fighters everywhere:

ZombieGo brilliant with resilience – learn to adapt quickly to new adventures;

ZombieCommit to fit – dodge the body blows with daily strength and endurance workouts;

ZombieOust the doubt – dwell on the successes and treat yourself as you do your BFF;

ZombieCollude with food – eat what fuels you best and ditch the garbage;

ZombiePalm the calm – listen, reflect, meditate, and embrace the joy.

So as I teeter on the precipice with rudimentary flight muscles, I’m also embracing April as my shift from author back to writer. That means taming the blustery media whipping me to and fro. For in today’s world, we writers need to negotiate the elemental mix of air, earth, water, and fire that buffets our social media world. Let’s do so on our own terms.

How do you balance author with writer? Is participating in social media a heavier lift than writing? Or vice versa?Red-tailed hawk in flight

Grouse Eggs & Kestrels and Seedlings & Soil (as sung to ‘My Favorite Things’) by Janine Donoho

Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagitatta)

Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagitatta)

In this remote conservation area of Washington State, vernal equinox triggers messy chasms brimming with snowmelt. Summer’s alkaline dust transforms into muck capable of entombing my 4-wheel drive eco-diesel up to its wheel wells. Days collect into weeks of treacherous roads.

Glimpsing spring in the melt

Glimpses of spring in the melt

I wait to plant seeds until after mid-May, since hard frosts shrivel tender cotyledons. After years of starting seedlings indoors, I reverted to direct sowing into compost enriched soils. The hardening process for young plants is fickle, and planting seeds works just as well. To stave off  my untimely itch? I turn to my daily writing habit and coax my Earth Elemental into bloom.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Still the promise of spring causes me to excavate lighter clothing and bury the thick layers of winter. I begin to wake earlier with a curious lift to my spirits. Fragrant springtime starts me along this path.

When wild grasses poke through the drying crust of alkaline silt in this high desert, I move into the bliss zone. Yes, these are the same grasses that require vigorous slashing to maintain defensible space around our home as fire season roars into being. Yet at this stage, the verdant color and lush bouquet—well, it makes me ridiculously happy. I breathe more deeply.

Okanogan Highland Grouse - MaleSpring is also when the dusky blue grouse male begins to court his harem, drumming ‘oot, oot, oot’ from his air sacs while he struts his stuff. Not long afterward, his hens lay buff colored eggs beneath Ponderosa pines and sagebrush. Incubation takes almost a month before hatching in late May.

This is the sweet time, when my drip system is optional and yellow jackets aren’t dive-bombing me in the gardens. Native arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagitatta) splashes the steppes with festive yellows as raptors freewheel along Young Kestrelthermals. My particular favorite, the kestrel, sets up housekeeping in our nesting box. By late summer, the fledglings scream their fear and excitement as they take their first flight from one branch to another, then one pine to the next before departing to establish their own territories.

But today, it’s a scent and the promise of lush Mediterranean gardens while the quality of light fills me with hopefulness. Daylight hours have stretched from winter solstice’s threadbare eight to nearly twelve. By summer solstice we’ll enjoy sixteen hours of light. For now, I wander forests and sagebrush steppes, cherishing eggs tucked into grouse nests.Dusky Blue Grouse eggs

When a Writer Travels by Janine Donoho

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.Saint Augustine

Hiked along ancient Roman roads through Italy.

Hikes along ancient Roman roads through Italy.

My longest running mantra? Head down and get the job done. Yes, a great work ethic. Now I’m toiling to hone my playful aspect. Really, toiling, which holds too much truth to be as laughable as it should be.

You see, our latest relocation shifted from anticipation to body blow within days. Such is life when those around you insist on feuding like Hatfield and McCoy. My lifestyle choice? Cooperative humanitarian. So yes, trouble from the get-go.

Dragon in Marion Platzer Munchen

Dragon in Marion Platzer Munchen

To carry on, I embraced my fiercer tendencies, even slipping into grim determination at times. I wrote through isolation and completed more work, including Soundings: Water Elemental, all three novels in my Mistborn Chronicles, numerous short stories, and essays.

Productivity and a life well lived don’t necessarily equate and The Move occurred a decade ago. Imagine stunning natural beauty—balm to a conservation biologist’s soul. Then contrast that with irreplaceable friendships and few prospects ahead. See what I mean?

Just before The Move, Intrepid Guy and I returned from an extended journey through northern Africa with stopovers in Paris and then London. To get my groove back, I’m returning to my passion for grand vistas, historic art, and time-honored civilizations. Until plan can be put into action, I’m revisiting previous adventures—and you’re invited. This will be a multipart expedition and mostly pictorial.

So fasten your seatbelts. Our journey begins—now.

What does travel mean to you? How has experiencing diverse cultures changed your approach to life? Does it inform your writing?

Not so still life

Not so still life

BFFs and Paris in April by Janine Donoho

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.Confucius

Amalfi coast hike

Amalfi coast hike

Sacre Coeur in Paris

Sacre Coeur in Paris

Magical doesn’t begin to describe my first trip through Europe and here’s why:

Unity iconbest friends on vacation,

Unity iconfree upgrade to business class,

Unity iconflight out of Washington D.C. at sunset,

Unity iconHalley’s comet and Northern Lights on display from our plane’s windows, and

Unity iconParis at sunrise.

Then we embraced Paris—in April. Hello world…and good-bye comfort zones.

The Orient Express

The Orient Express

For a month’s travel, we committed to a backpack each and public transportation while staying at mom-and-pop lodging along our route. The only reservations we made beforehand were for Parisian arrival and departure sleepovers. That’s been my travel mode ever since.

Enjoy this pictorial view of our trip through Europe.

What was your first trip outside your comfort zone? How did that affect you? Do you still travel?

Venicia

Venicia

Day hike along the Cinque Terre

Day hike along the Cinque Terre

Crumbling goat trail along Cinque Terre.

Crumbling goat trail along Cinque Terre.

Hof Brauhaus Munchen

Hof Brauhaus Munchen

 

Laundry in Napoli

Laundry in Napoli

Blog Tour – Janine Donoho – Soundings: Water Elemental

Is there hope for a grieving mother’s heart?

Ecopsychologist Dr. Margo Updike loses herself in a shadow life after her daughter’s tragic death. When a century storm deposits a young girl on Maggie’s secluded beach in Puget Sound, a miraculous renewal begins. Then the apparent orphan exhibits signs of neglect and worse, prompting Maggie’s vow to protect and heal her—no matter the cost.

The arrival of a mysterious man claiming to be Sorcha’s father upends Maggie’s life. She finds Morrissey strangely irresistible even as her friend Sheriff Ajax Smith questions the man’s motives and odd behavior. As a serial killer’s victims begin surfacing in Seal Cove, Jax must curb his suspicions to enlist Maggie as a profiler.

Will Jax and Maggie find the murderer before he strikes again? With Morrissey’s secrets trapping Maggie on destructive shoals between reality and legend, can she grasp his true nature before losing her chance to rebuild a life worth living? To what depths—and heights—will she go for a daughter, a beloved man and, ultimately, her humanity?

 
Title: Soundings: Water Elemental
Author: Janine Donoho
Genre: adult paranormal suspense/thriller
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing
 

Excerpt from Soundings: Water Elemental –

Maggie leaned toward Kaci and, keeping her voice low,
said, “Let’s go out to the deck.”

They dressed for damp cold in the mudroom, and after checking
Sorcha and shushing the dogs, they let themselves out through the sliding door.
The friends headed for the covered space around the hot tub. With Kaci’s help, Maggie
removed the locked cover.

“Remember?” she asked Kaci.

“Your dad’s old tub? Of course, silly.” When they were
girls, for the important talks they gravitated toward Ephraim’s tub, then built
of cedar staves.

“Well, that old thing’s slated to be plumbed for a water
feature. This is Mom’s state-of-the-art spa. I think it’ll do.”

Peeking from the hoods of winter coats, they traded conspiratorial
looks before stepping out of their mules and clambering onto the top platform. With
a controlled slide, they occupied the dry space. Wriggling her wool-clad toes, Kaci
said, “Comfy, Mags. You could fit six adults in here easily.”

“I know. Mom wanted to modernize. She intended this for
scads of grandkids.”

“Oh, Mags.” Kaci reached a gloved hand toward Maggie,
who gripped it for comfort. “Now. Tell me what happened this morning.”

First Maggie told her friend about the early morning swim,
finishing with, “She didn’t even seem cold afterward. I was practically blue and
the dogs were exhausted. How can a four-, maybe five-year-old girl swim that far?”

Glancing through the glass doors toward the sleeping girl,
Kaci’s mouth formed a silent wow. She
said, “No wonder she’s tired. But kids have faster metabolisms than adults, don’t
they?”

“Well, yes, but Zoe certainly couldn’t have… Anyway
some other bizarre things are starting to surface.”

“Like?”

With a sense of relief, Maggie leaned forward and said,
“Kaci, she didn’t know how to use doorknobs. And the bathroom seems like foreign
territory. I caught her squatting in the mudroom before you came. She thinks it’s
a fine game when I set her on the toilet. Just laughs and giggles. And she hasn’t
put three words together.”

Kaci’s regard wandered over the quiescent girl. “She understands
you, though. And didn’t I hear an accent? Plus Sorcha’s not a common name. What
is it? Russian?”

Maggie said, “I’m thinking Celtic. But Kaci, everything seems foreign to her. She played
at opening and shutting cabinets and drawers until the salmon distracted her. I’ve
put the pots and pans away twice now—with her helping me. She’s so bright and aware,
I’m afraid that at the very least, she’s been secluded to the point of abuse.”

“No kidding. Some strange cult, you think?”

Maggie laughed then. “This from a woman who worships
the earth as Goddess and has tattoos covering nearly every inch of her body.”

Want more? Go to EVENTS to join the fun! Don’t be shy about commenting, since I always try to respond to all.

How I embraced the suck (and learned to love – er – respect social media) by Janine Donoho

Soundings Book Release BashWe had a day this last week: Soundings Release Day Book Bash. Or as I dubbed it, ‘The Great Be-Staunch-Launch.’ Three other illustrious authors participated and offered great content. Camela Thompson’s character sketches, Patricia Eddy’s studmuffin, Shay West’s woo-hoo face amplified our event, while I tacked the stiff breezes on this, my maiden voyage. There be dragons, indeed. To revive, I downed a home-brewed double shot Americano afterward. Then I stared at the ceiling late into the night as caffeine kicked my lagging system into overdrive.Social networking

Overall? Four hours gone in a flurry of connectivity. Early into this, I committed to sharing authentic content, which took a lot of prep. Yet, I discovered fun and excellent companions—virtually, yes, but it feels more substantial than that.

Would I rather share an Americano face-to-face? Of course. Yet as my exemplary publicist Vanya urges me into the social seas, I realize we go to launch with the vessel we have. Thank you to all who participated. I’d pit this team against Ellison’s Oracle Team USA anytime.

Now I’m going to indulge in being the shy woodland creature I am and read for an hour—or two.

What works for you in social media? How do you engage and still keep your daily page count high?Socializing

Selkies, Witches, and Dryads—oh, my! by Janine Donoho

Mountain lion in snow youngBefore this last thaw, a flash of tawny muscle caught my eye as a cougar stretched to full run and flowed down a ravine. This is why natural events and wild critters play such a central role in my stories. Life in these rural areas carries different risks than those experienced by urban dwellers. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARather than business schedules and public transportation timetables, organic and inorganic cycles govern. That flicker in my peripheral vision? Either a thing of beauty or a threat—or both.

My attention stays in the moment. Which means no walking while texting or talking on a Smartphone—and not because we have so little coverage in the outlands. Instead the focus settles upon spangled Fritillary butterflies, a colony of shaggy mane mushrooms, wild tiger lilies, a moose cow and calf. From there it’s not a Moose cow and calfgreat leap to slip into the ancestral viewpoint of those who created our rich mythologies, legends, and other origin stories. Our minds tend to build constructs in order to make sense of the greater world.

Since I don’t live as close to the edge as those ancestors, I dabble with the supernatural. That’s why my body of work grows to include selkies and sea life, coydogs and witches, at risk forests and dryads, cursed dragons and curio shops. And if there’s a basis of fact in those stories? Well, blame it an insatiable curiosity and my study of life.

Besides, nothing I create can possibly exceed the singular combinations found in nature.

How do your environs figure into your story? Or do they?

Baby coyote

True Sentiment versus Sentimentality by Janine Donoho

Trumpeter Swans fly through morning light streaming through clouds to silhouette Whitehorse mountainLast night I finally watched Hallmark’s prerecorded Away and Back. Don’t judge me. I resisted for a time because I intensely dislike attempted emotional coercion and that’s been Hallmark’s modus operandi for too long.

Still, trumpeter swans… Then appealing characters and storyline charmed me into staying. Gone the silly and soapy scrum of recent Hallmark movies in celebration of the return to story and true sentiment. Okay, a few glitches, but more on that later.

Flawlessly cast adult protagonists delivered on story as battered widower Jack Peterson and truculent swan conservationist Ginny Newsom. Empathetic and gritty 10-year-old Frankie emerged as the fictional daughter I’ll never have. And saving Cygnus buccinator—balm to a conservation biologist’s heart.

Trumpeter swan by Brian StevensThe cinematography stunned me to tears with trumpeters silhouetted against the sun or harvest moon. Sweeping scapes of other natural beauty and even a subtle message of hope amid the human interactions lifted me. Mostly.

Now a lesson for all of us conduits of story. Hallmark engaged me until the last twenty minutes, when they imploded into the black hole of clichéd sentimentality. At that point, I forgave them—this time.

The earlier glow carried me through this misstep. They dished up the real deal Soundings Cover Upgraded 1-23-2015for much of the movie and maybe next time around, they’ll persist with honest emotion and storytelling.

Until then? I’m reading and writing. Plus launching SOUNDINGS, WATER ELEMENTAL into the world—a novel brimming with story, impactful characters and yes, true sentiment. Or at least that was my intent.

How do you feel about sappiness and overt attempts to influence us? Where do you draw the line as viewer? As reader? As writer?Trumpeter Swans

Book Launch for SOUNDINGS, WATER ELEMENTAL

Soundings Cover Upgraded 1-23-2015

Consider yourself a natural phenomenon and Elemental to my writing. With my latest paranormal romantic thriller SOUNDINGS, WATER ELEMENTALscheduled to launch from Booktrope on February 27, 2015, I’d like to invite you into my worlds.

If you’d like to be an Elemental, please join my exclusive social marketing team. As a member, you’ll not only receive an e-copy of the book before it’s available to the public, but also gain special access to me and Team Janine via a private Facebook group. In return, all we ask is that if you like SOUNDINGS, you commit to FIVE things to help get the word out about SOUNDINGS:

  • Leave a short review on Amazon no later than 03/10/2015,
  • Share the release date and your feedback with everyone and anyone you may know,
  • Provide ideas via our private Facebook page on how to reach a wider audience,
  • Vote for SOUNDINGS on Goodreads Listopia or talk about it in one of your Goodreads groups and add it to your bookshelf.
  • Go to janinedonoho.com and signup for my newsletter, which only shares noteworthy mentions about the state of the author and her latest opus along with chances to win truly fantabulous stuff. You’ll immediately receive my free short story collection Boundary Crossings.

Interested? Send an email to vanyad@booktrope.com by 02/11/2015 with your name, email address, and a brief description of why you want to join Team Janine. Those selected will be notified via email on 02/12/2015 and receive their advance reader copy of SOUNDINGS.

Thank you in advance for your interest and time! Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27, 2015
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