Tag Archives: frustration

Monday Time Management Tips: How to avoid going insane when the computer packs up

RainbowWheelOfDoomAll of us have had that experience of being deeply immersed with something on the Web, when suddenly, the computer slows to a crawl.

It is very frustrating.

What to do? I use the time to get up and stretch. If it persists, I move around my office and do some chore that I’ve put off. If it’s been ten minutes, and still nothing is happening, the screen has frozen, or you have the Rainbow Wheel of Doom or the Blue Screen of Death, then it’s time to either do a hard boot or call the IT department.

What you should avoid doing is

(a)pressing a key repeatedly hoping to get some response,

(b) pressing lots of different keys, or giving the computer lots of different commands, or trying to open different windows or browsers simultaneously, as that just slows the system down,

(c) taking your frustration out on your computer.

Instead, force yourself to get up from your chair and walk away. Take a coffee break. Go for a walk, or go talk to a colleague. Most times, when you return, that rainbow wheel will have stopped turning, and the computer will be ready to work again.

Have a fabulous week!


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THE BIRTH OF VENUS by Sarah Dunant

This is a story of an artist of considerable talent, whose dedication to the craft should have ensured greatness. Unfortunately, the artist was born in 1477, and was a woman.

Set during the turbulent years of Savonarola’s stranglehold over Florence (1494-1498), this a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl, who marries a much older man so that she can pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

Needless to say, life does not go according to plan.

I’m not spoiling things by telling you that Sarah Dunant takes us on a journey that explains how a fiery, rebellious teenage artist ends up in a convent, because she provides a frame at the beginning of the novel, that is one of the most tantalizing beginnings I have read in a long time.

This novel is filled with vivid imagery of life in Florence during the 1490s. But what Ms. Dunant does so well is to convey the frustration felt by a young woman of talent who was not allowed to develop her craft because she was the ‘wrong’ sex.

I highly recommend it, especially for those of you interested in Florentine politics of the 1490s.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN  is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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I get rejected by an agent and participate in another webinar

As I said in a recent post, I was awaiting a verdict from yet another agent on ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED, who promised me she’d get back to me after holidays. I finally heard from her January 8. She passed. She told me that it wasn’t right for her because “she didn’t love the writing.”

If you are an unpublished novelist, you know how frustrating this is. There you are, working so hard on your art, faced with an agent who is demanding an exclusive. You give it to them, and honorably keep your side of the bargain so that no other agent sees it, while they take their sweet time. Then you get dismissed with a one-liner.

What did I do? I swallowed my bile, wrote to the agent, and thanked her. Then I signed up for another webinar given by Writers Digest. These webinars are not cheap (they cost $89), enough so that I nearly didn’t sign up. But I was very pleased with the quality of the first one, so I decided to sign up for this one, entitled HOW TO HOOK AN AGENT WITH YOUR FIRST PAGES. The speaker was a newish agent who was actively seeking new work. Here are 4 tips that I thought were important:

  1. Be careful with the quality of writing in your query letter, because the agent will take it as an accurate representation of the quality of writing in your novel.
  2. Prologues are a real turnoff, so don’t do one unless you have a very good reason for it.
  3. Readers hate data dumps, so when introducing your characters, go lightly on descriptions. Instead, focus on their thoughts and actions.
  4. Perhaps the most important, if you’re having trouble getting your novel off the ground, write down what the inciting incident is and start over. What is an inciting incident? In ONE SEED it’s Cecily’s betrothal to Richard, Duke of York. In SOMEONE it is Mr. Rossi’s moving to Georgetown to study at Georgetown University. In THE HEIR it is when Count von Lietzow hears that Grace has moved back to Berlin. You get the idea.

To find out more about Writers Digest webinars, click here.

Next: I get a free critique of the first 3 pages of SOMEONE.

–Cynthia Haggard writes novels.  She is currently seeking representation for ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED, the Richard III story told from the point of view of his mother. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.


Filed under About Cynthia, Agents, How to Publish Your Novel