Need a Kick in the Productivity Pants? Try Journaling

 This is Day 2 of my 31 Days of August Awesomeness posts. Click here for how it all started…

 Ask anyone who has known me for any length of time, and they will confirm what I am about to tell you: I am a lifelong procrastinator.  It is a crippling habit when paired with my other “p” weakness: perfectionism. What do you get accomplished when you are a perfectionist procrastinator?


I have had a bazillion false starts in my writing career. That’s why I spent 7 years working on the Edge of Shadows manuscript. That’s right: 7 YEARS! I wrote it, I edited it, I changed it, I got brave in 2009 and gave it to a bunch of beta readers, I edited it some more based on their feedback, I lost that version (whole other story), then I tweaked, moaned, and edited some more. It still wasn’t right. I felt like I still wasn’t ready, and so I shoved it away for another day.

Now that easily could have been the end of my story. Aspiring writer finds reality and trudges back to day job content to live out the rest of her life. 

Then quite by accident, I stumbled across a reference to a book on a writing blog called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. If you are an artist, not even a writer but any kind of creator of artistic work, and you are stuck, you must run (don’t walk!) to Amazon and buy this book. I’m absolutely serious- the book will change your life.

I’ll wait.

The single most important habit that book taught me, and a habit I continue today is to journal. I journal three long-handed pages almost everyday. I started the self-paced The Artist’s Way course in October 2011, and as you can see by the picture at the top of this post, I’m on my 5th journal.

Why do I consider this course and this habit life-changing? I got out of my own way.

Consider this. Prior to October 2011, I had written two 50,000 word manuscript drafts which were both collecting dust in a drawer. Fast forward ten months. One of those manuscripts I published (Edge of Shadows), and then I’ve written and published 4 more. Ageless is written and with my editor, so that’s really 4 1/2 by my count. And I’m well underway on the next book.

My writing has been taken to a whole new level. I’m not afraid to take risks. I’ve had my share of failures and lessons learned, but that is far outweighed by the massive burst of energy and productivity that I’m leveraging on a daily basis.

It all starts with my journaling. In it, I allow myself to be whiny. I allow myself to be self-deprecating and get down on myself. I nit-pick dumb things I’ve done. But I also plan out what I want to get accomplished each day. I pat myself on the back for every victory. And I have a fabulous record of my writing journey. I get shivers thinking about being able to come back and read my first entry in my first journal five or ten years from now.

It’s heady stuff, powerful stuff. And it’s addictive.

Journaling has opened up my mind and jumpstarted my productivity. It’s one of my awesome productivity secrets, and I’m delighted to be sharing it with you.

By the way, you may be thinking “Well sure, Cege, you’re a writer so journaling is easy for you.” I may have written in a diary a couple of times when I was a teenager, but this kind of structured writing has never been part of my writing routine. Finding the time and sticking with it was a challenge. But in the end, it became part of my day and it’s something I look forward to.

So if you are looking for a way to shake up your routine and find massive loads of inspiration? Try journaling. Plus, it’s a great excuse to go shopping at your local bookstore. 🙂

On Location with Edge of Shadows

My debut novel, Edge of Shadows, is set in the Uptown/Lakes District of Minneapolis, MN. It’s amazing how much inspiration that area proved for my writing of that story. 

Edge of Shadow’s main character, Ellie Coulter, lives and works in the neighborhood, and I thought she’d be the best person to tell us a little bit more about why she chose to settle there.  Ellie..take it away!

Ellie: Thanks Cege! Although I am a bit uncomfortable being in the spotlight like this, Cege told me it would be easy because all’s I had to do was share why I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but Uptown.

It all started when I had to make the decision about where to open my coffee shop. I lived in the burbs at the time, but in my exploration of the cities over time (I’ve lived here all my life), there was always something about Uptown that drew me in.

The first thing you notice is the architecture. In downtown Minneapolis, just a few short miles north, there are the usual massively tall buildings that are trying to touch the sky, but in Uptown it’s a mishmash of old and new buildings that are more hunkered down to the ground. Everything here centers around the Hennepin/Lagoon Ave intersection and builds out from there. I’ve watched lots of movies in the Uptown Theater on its single screen, and I actually prefer it to the modern cineplexes.

A block up from the Lagoon theater is Calhoun Square, which is the Uptown equivalent of a suburban mall. You’ll find shops, restaurants, bars, and even a gym there. Then spreading out from Calhoun Square, you’ll find more independent shops standing alongside some bigger name chain stores that we all know, but for some reason, it all works.

Because space is at a premium, parking is always a little bit of a challenge so a lot of people do their shopping and night life clubbing on foot. It’s just easier to get around. You’ll see all sorts of people on the streets: young and old, professional, hippie, artistic, and goth. They are all here and they all blend in together. For someone like me, who has never felt like I fit in anywhere, the “come-as-you-are” vibe immediately made me feel comfortable.

So I leased a small space not far from the Hennepin/Lagoon Ave intersection and set up my coffee shop. I worked hard to make the space welcoming for everyone and I feel really fortunate to have some regulars.

When I got divorced, it was natural for me to move closer to work, and I found a great little studio apartment in one of the old homes just a few blocks from my shop. There are lots of places like that here. The big old houses that were built around the turn of the last century don’t always make sense to keep as single family homes, so the owners subdivided them into smaller apartments. It’s quiet and I love it.

Adjacent to the Uptown commercial district are three recreational lakes: Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, and the Lake of the Isles. I walk my dog Skipper around Lake Calhoun almost every day.

It’s fun visiting with customers who come into the shop from out of town because they always say that when they think of Minnesota they immediately picture big snow drifts and hostile winters. Sure, winters are a bit more extreme here than other parts of the country, but Minnesotans don’t let a little thing like the weather keep them indoors. Regardless of season, there are always walkers and joggers taking advantage of the trails that follow the curves of the lakes. (And during the winters, the lakes freeze over and you can actually walk on them- I’ll admit that freaks me out.)

But one of my favorite parts of living here is the mansions over on the Lake of the Isles. Cege will tell you that I’m a bit of a daydreamer, and I love to just walk along the bike path and imagine what life would be like if I lived in one of those big houses. One of my employees, Linda Jordan, owns one of them. In Cege’s book, Edge of Shadows, I actually get to live in it for awhile, but things get pretty hairy pretty quickly.

History, art, theater, food, people, and fun. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Uptown, Ellie! Hopefully the next time someone visits Minneapolis, they’ll want to check it out.

Shadows Deep Is Here! Launch Madness Begins

I have to tell you, I am THRILLED to finally be able to say that the Edge of Shadows sequel, Shadows Deep is available! I am so appreciative of all of the support I’ve received since the release of EoS in November 2011, and it has been phenomenal to have one of the very first questions from fans be “When’s the next book coming out?” It created a lot of pressure too. 🙂

From the beginning, I’ve had the makings of 4 different book series in my mind. (You’ve seen the first book in three of them now.) I had to make a choice in March if I was going to work on the first book in the 4th series, or go back and revisit Ellie and crew to find out what happens next in her journey, so I created the book in physical and digital forms, using Sodapdf to edit the digital versions.

Well, it’s pretty clear which direction I went and I am so happy that I did. Creating a sequel was a lot more work than I was expecting, but at the same time it was like coming home. Ellie’s facing a whole new set of problems in Shadows Deep, and I can tell you that she’s finding out things about herself and her past that she never saw coming. And…it’s not over yet. I can now share that there will be a third installment of the Shadows series that you will likely see before the end of 2012.

Now for the Fun Stuff: Launch Goodies!!

May 15th is the “official” launch date for Shadows Deep, and I’ve got some fun stuff planned for everyone.

1) I want to give away some copies of Shadows Deep, of course! So 5 ebook copies (Kindle or Nook) are up for grabs. What do you have to do to be entered to win one? Either comment here on this post OR on my Facebook fan page and tell me who your favorite Edge of Shadows character was and why. I will pick 5 random winners and announce them on Friday, May 18th.

2) The Edge of Shadows Kindle book is on sale through June 30th, 2012 for only $0.99!  Grab your copy today or gift one to a friend.  On May 15th, you’ll even find it for FREE on Amazon.

3) If you like vampires and you haven’t tried my vampire series, I invite you to download Heiress of Lies for FREE on May 15th-May 16th. If it strikes your fancy, I’d love to hear from you.

4) I’ve started a Q&A group over on Goodreads entirely focused on discussing Shadows Deep. Join in the conversation and ask me anything you want as you are reading it.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far on this writing journey, and know I’ve got lots more planned for you this summer.

Happy Reading!

CG News: Shadows Deep (the Edge of Shadows sequel) is Coming!

I can’t tell you how happy I am when I have the chance to chat with Edge of Shadows fans.  While their questions sometimes surprise me, I am always delighted that I was able to create a story that intrigued them and got them excited.  And then the inevitable question always gets asked (cue dramatic music):

When will the sequel be ready?

Now if you’ve been hanging out with me for awhile, you may remember my very first post of 2012 where I said I was tentatively planning the Edge of Shadows sequel for June 2012. I stuck to my guns on that one for quite awhile, but in early March I found that as I started trying to write Purgatory, I got stuck.  And stuck I stayed, which for a writer isn’t good.

I finally admitted defeat: Ellie and crew were banging around in my head telling me that it was their turn again- to hell with those Purgatory upstarts!  So this new journey for them, Shadows Deep, began…and stalled after 10,000 words. (Just so you know, it isn’t that crazy to start a project and then have to rip it to shreds and start over. Sometimes you have to do that a few times to find the true story.)

I finalized the outline for Shadows Deep last night, and things are falling into place. I am totally jazzed to get this story written and share it with you, because it’s GOOD. 🙂  Lots of new plot twists, and some new faces too. (Honestly, I’ve got shivers- lol.)

In the meantime though, just for you, you can check out the teaser blurb on my Novels page. And to keep me honest, I’ve added a little progress bar for you! I figure the more you know about what’s going on “behind the curtain” the more excited you’ll get too.

Right now, I’m planning a launch date of May 15, 2012 for Shadows Deep. (I can’t believe I said it out loud.)  But please know that sometimes things happen, and that date may change. But I’ll let you know as soon as I do.  Thanks for all your support, and feel free to ping me in the comments with any questions.  If I know the answer, I’ll share.

Happy Easter!

Easter Freebies and a Makeover!

I am off work today and I bet many of you are as well. So to help ease us into the holiday weekend, I thought I’d share with you some books that are free now and throughout the weekend from my friends over in the Indie Author Group.  (Although I am including the free days here, be sure to check that before you click to the “buy” button.) Happy Reading!

Valerie Douglas –Dirty Politics , Song of the Fairy Queen , and Nike’s Wings  Thurs 5th – Sat 7th

Stephen H. King – Cataclysm: Return of the Gods– Friday and Saturday, April 6 and 7. Blog:

Kelly Rimmer – Suspending Reality – – Thursday 5th – Sunday 8th

Sarah Barnard – Earthlink: Impact –  (UK) (US) Free from Friday 6th April through Monday 9th April. Blog:

Elena DeRosa – The Valentine’s Day Curse Saturday, April 7th –

Candy Ann Little – The Unwilling Bride  – Saturday April 7th

And a special treat: Edge of Shadows is free TODAY ONLY as well in celebration of its makeover!  I am in love with this new cover and I think it really showcases better what Edge of Shadows is all about.  Pick up your copy here.