Monday, November 10, 2008


by Anna Campbell

If I'd been writing this a little over a month ago, that title would have been AAAAARRRRRGGGHHH as I shrieked with the pressure of getting my latest manuscript in. But right now, I'm taking a bit of a break. I'm still making an effort towards constructive activities, but I'm not stressing out. I'm taking my time, catching up on things like writing articles, answering emails that have dust on them and reading blogs and doing tax.

In between, I'm refilling the well. This is what a lot of writers call letting the mind wander, doing things that inspire, letting the emotions and the energy recover from the marathon effort of getting a book done to a deadline.

Because I write big, dark, passionate books, I always get to the end of a story feeling like a wrung-out rag. I go through all those tortured emotions with my characters! Many times as I write and rewrite!

In fact, I told a friend of mine I didn't have the energy to get out of the way of a charging bull if one was headed for me. Probably a slight exaggeration, but only slight! This period of recuperation and relaxation is necessary for me before I launch into the next Regency noir.

So what do I do to refill the well?

Writing is a fairly solitary occupation so after I finish a book, I try to see my friends and get out of the house to remind myself that there actually is a world away from my feverish imagination and my tortured characters. I also just spend time veging out doing nothing particularly constructive. One way I relax is to have a glass or two of red wine. I can feel all the troubles of the world drift away with that first sip.

I swim. I'm lucky with my deadline this year that the book finished and the summer arrived at the same time. I find drifting around in a swimming pool on a beautiful sunny day while the birds sing and the sky is a perfect blue dome above is ideal for relaxing the mind. By the way, sadly, this is NOT my swimming pool. It looks like something from a Harlequin Presents, doesn't it? I should alert my friend Annie West - I can see one of her Sheikhs powering up and down this pool!

And best of all, I've had a chance to catch up with some of the books weighing down my TBR pile. So far, there hasn't been a dud amongst them! On my website this month in My Favorite Things., I'm talking about some of the treasures I've found. So pop over and check it out if you get a chance - I'd recommend every single book I mention there!

Of course, the TBR pile still blocks out the moon. But I've learnt it always will. Once I take something off it, I put three more things on. It's so sad to be a reading addict!

So what do you do to relax?


Michelle Douglas said...

Ooh, red wine works for me, Anna!

Am glad you're having a bit of a breather and doing all you can to get through the tbr pile. Have fun!

P.S. If I had a pool like that I'm sure I'd find the time to do a few lazy laps. And you're right - it belongs in an Annie West Sheikh special

Helen said...

I am so glad you can relax and get out for a break I so enjoyed the talk you and Annie West did at The Guilford Library last month I really hope it becomes a regular break for you.

Love the pool I too love floating in a pool sadly I don't have one but my sister does and I love swimming in it when I get to go to her place. So for me picking up a book is my way of relaxing and I totally agree I read one and add 3 this month I orderd 8 and have bought another 2 already I need a new bookshelf for the TBR pile but as I say you can never have too many books and of course one that I am really dying to read is Tempt The Devil can't wait till it is released.

Have Fun

Gina said...

exercise and a good romance novel

Maureen said...

When my husband and I have time on the weekend to just hang around the house and get little things done I really enjoy it. I get to read between things and there is no rushing about.

PJ said...

Enjoy your time off, Anna. You've earned it! :)

I bake or create other goodies in the kitchen to relax. It's my favorite form of therapy. When I was in corporate life my staff loved stressful days because they all knew that meant I'd spend the evening in the kitchen and the next day they'd be the happy recipients of whatever I had made! lol

Jennie Lucas said...

Anna, I'm on deadline and looking forward to when I'm at the dreamy relaxing stage too!! (Although when I'm between books, I always seem to get bored then, and frustrated I haven't worked out the plot of my next book yet!)

Like Gina, I relax on the treadmill, watching some lovely travel show or All My Children or General Hospital. And I also love to bake in times of stress like PJ. I just made brownies last night--ha!

But if I'm really, really exhausted in the "I couldn't duck a charging bull" stage, I crash on the couch and watch cooking shows. I'm the worst cook in the world and will never cook any of the recipes, but somehow watching Paula Deen's bright, happy face as she whips up something fabulous makes me feel peaceful.

Plus, on cooking shows there's not a story arc. Cooking shows and sports are the only way to go on the days when you're just sick of words and a three-act structure.

Anna Campbell said...

Annie is the first person I thought of when I saw that pool! I can see Khalid working off some of his turmoil as he powers up and down that length! Thanks for popping by, Michelle! Hey, perhaps we should both relax over a red wine soon!

Helen, you didn't mention Tim Tams! I know they're what you like to have with a good book! Of course, this time of year is fatal to the credit card as a lot of really big releases are hitting the stands for the holidays. Thanks for coming to Guildford - it was a fun night, wasn't it? And I hope you enjoy Tempt the Devil when it's out at the end of December! Just in time for the Aussie Christmas holidays! For people overseas, our summer and Christmas coincide, so that tends to be our long holiday for the year. It's usually so hot, lying around and reading is about all I can get the energy up to do!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Gina, I suppose you could call floating in the pool exercise? Nuh? Oh, well, I thought I'd try... I definitely agree with you about the good romance novel. I live near the sea and I find walking along the waterfront really relaxing. Thanks for popping by!

Maureen, I know exactly what you mean. That's why these couple of weeks have been really enjoyable. I've done what I needed to get done but I haven't been in a lather about it. And as you say, it's always nice to leave time to pick up a book!

Anna Campbell said...

PJ, the rumors of your culinary skills have even reached as far as Australia! You're famous, gal! I used to bake when I had a day job too - as you say, it's wonderful therapy beating those eggs until they whimper ;-) Never was much chop at cakes but could do mean biscuits and slices. The people at work, most of whom were younger than me and NEVER cooked, used to look forward to the treats too. Mind you, another nice thing about baking is that generally people are so grateful for homecooked goodies. A win-win situation!

Anna Campbell said...

Jennie, do you know what I got addicted to in my dead stage (which lasted nearly a month - I really am a wreck once I finish a book!)? Judge Judy! I think you're right - it's the lack of three-act structure but I still get that drama. And how! Watched a lot of repeats of Law & Order too and the house renovation/real estate buying shows that seem to infest our lifestyle channel here. Mainly British. I kid myself that I'm researching locations as I watch Algernon Worsely-Smythe and his horrid horsey girlfriend Phoebe find a house in the Cotswolds with ten bedrooms! Cooking shows just make me hungry which is NOT a good thing! Whereas I'm yet to pick up a hammer after watching a renovation show.

Good luck with your deadline. We need more Jennie Lucas books! Whip! Whip!

Pam said...

I reread Anna Campbell books, (shameless sucking up, but true!), watch favorite movies, bake, even go out driving with the radio turned up! I'd love to swim, but in the desert, not a lot of water to be found.

However, if you do find the location to that wonderful pool, give me a call! Even if I can just lounge next to it and not swim--it looks that relaxing!

Lucky penny Pam
in Arizona

Louisa Cornell said...

I don't swim, but that pool would be a great place to lie on one of those rafts and just float my troubles away. Think I could persuade one of Annie's sheiks to stand as lifeguard, just in case?

I am on a killer deadline to finish my GH entry for this year, but I am looking forward to some heavy refilling once I get it in the mail. Rereading some old favorites and making a dent in the TRB stack while lounging in bed with a romance in the DVD player. Of course I can only do that on my two days off a week!

I'm also looking forward to taking some of my dogs on a run through the wooded part of my five acres. They love playing in the leaves.

After that it will be back to revisions on both of my manuscripts!!

Annie West said...

Anna, lovely post! I dream of that lovely time between books as a period with barely a care in the world. And you deserve the break, as I know how hard you've worked to bring us another marvellous, emotional, exciting story (says she who's read the ms!!!).

Love the pic of the pool. Absolutely gorgeous. I'm sure I can use that as inspiration for a book. Yes, I can see Khalid or Arik or Rafiq powering down that pool. Sigh, those shoulders... The image is enough to make you want to pick up a pen, isn't it?

BTW, Louisa, I'll gladly lend you one of my sheikhs to do lifesaver duty! (G).

Actually, Anna the reason I'm late to your blog is that I had an evening off. I came home very late but my son was celebrating the end of some major exams so we decided to have a relaxing night, just the two of us (others were elsewhere). So, like PJ, I headed to the kitchen (I cook in times of stress or to wind down). In this case it was just to cook a something special for dinner. Then we sat down to enjoy a new release comedy DVD which was a delight. And, like you, Anna, I had a glass of red to enjoy. Very relaxing.

Things like a day out and about somewhere out of the norm, or walking, reading or having a long bath with a good book are some of my favourite ways to relax.


Annie West said...


I have to concur with Anna, that Tim Tams are another excellent way to relax! It was terrific fun catching up in Guildford, wasn't it?


Avi J said...

Hi Anna, besides romance reading, three words for you
Pure Milk Chocolate the best way to relax

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Pam, my lucky penny friend! You know, it's still winking up at me from my writing desk and always gives me a smile! Hey, shamelessly plugging the new release, did you know there's a NEW Anna Campbell out on 30th December? That's only a month away! Isn't that pool gorgeous? I can definitely see us reading and drinking cocktails on loungers next to that while our sheikh powers up and down to keep us entertained. Or perhaps TWO sheikhs!

Anna Campbell said...

Hmm, I'm beginning to think we need a troupe of sheikhs! Everybody seems to want one. Yes, Miss Louisa, you can lounge while we get a sheikh on duty! Looking forward to the things we'll do in between books is a great way to spur ourselves on to finish a book, isn't it? Works for me! The TBR pile beckons with siren song! Good luck with your manuscript!

Hey, Annie, thanks for the kind words about Gideon and Charis. It was a fairly wrenching story, wasn't it? Honestly, I was like a dead bear when I finished it! The evening off sounds lovely - and I know how hard you've been working lately so you definitely deserved it! Now get back writing - I want more Annie West books!

Anna Campbell said...

Oooh, Avi, pure milk chocolate! Music to my ears! When I was in San Francisco, I made an absolute pig of myself on Ghirardelli. Man, is that good stuff!!!!

By the way, have you seen the lovely photo of us with Helen that Helen's using as her avatar over on Romance Bandits?

Always makes me smile!

Anna Campbell said...

That was meant to be, by the way, ANNIE... Sorry!

Pam said...

Anna--I'm going to be shameless plugging Tempt the Devil on my blog, maybe with a little help from one of my favorite authors?

Then a party at the pool--everybody come!

Anna Campbell said...

Pam, drop me an invite to the pool party to and I'll be there with bells on!

Helen Bianchin said...

I so identify with the rundown to deadline! Anna, love the cover of "Tempt the Devil". He's gorgeous!
Enjoy your time out. You deserve it.

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Helen! Always lovely to see you! He is a pretty boy on the cover, isn't he? Temptation in the flesh!

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Anna,

I just left you in the Lair!

My relaxation includes reading,
watching sports on TV, reading,
cooking shows on TV, reading,
watching my soaps,and much more
reading! Not the wine, though!
It's a cup of tea or hot chocolate
for me!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Pat, clearly you're going to be the designated driver for this party ;-) We promise to keep your hot chocolate pot well filled - and we'll even get a sheikh to do the honors! I'm enjoying Christine's post about the nursery rhymes. I'll pop back there now (we get well traveled in Romancelandia!).

Estella said...

I picke up a book and read!

Dina said...

Hi Anna,

I see you're traveling the blogs too, lol.

Nice to have you here too.

Anne Gracie said...

Hey, well done, Anna on getting that book in. Excellent, another fabulous read to look forward to in the pipeline.
I'm fantasizing about diving into the TBR pile very soon -- not to mention that pool! I have serious pool envy now. And yes, it's an Annie West sheikish pool if ever I saw one. ;)
And Helen, nice pic of you and Annie and Anna.

Anna Campbell said...

Estella, sounds like a great plan!

Dina, I'm here once a month. It's a cool place to hang out!

Anne, lovely to see you here! Yes, I had pool envy too when I saw that fabulous picture. Although I still think that pool has Annie West's name on it! Or at least one of her sheikh's!

Michele L. said...

Ok my favorite thing is to go shopping. Just to be out in the stores, looking at everything, is such a delight. When I get back home, I am all relaxed and back to normal again.

Next best thing is to take a long nice hot bath especially with candles lit, radio playing, and let my spa run to swish the water. Heavenly!