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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Musings on Bali - Susan Fox

Late in 2010, I spent three weeks in Bali, partly as a holiday and partly (of course!) with a view to setting a book there. Travel is always a learning experience, and I’d like to share a few impressions.


I went with expectations (we always do, don’t we?), and where did they come from? The book and movie Eat Pray Love. Yes, popular culture really does influence us.

Did I expect to meet a sexy Brazilian who looked like Javier Bardem? Nope, but I did expect serenity, with quiet country roads running through rice paddies. And they did exist – but more often the roads were clogged with traffic like I’d never seen before. Dozens of exhaust-belching vehicles compete for the same small patch of road. More than half those vehicles are small, buzzing motorbikes, many carrying three or four family members – who are often unhelmeted and barefoot. And, by the way, they drive on the opposite side of the road from at home. So one of my first Bali lessons was to not get too locked into my expectations, but be open to observing and learning.

Traffic’s different, scenery’s different, you can’t read any signs, almost every house has its own temple in the yard – and as a tourist from the West, you’re outside your comfort zone. But what’s wrong with that? In fact, most of us should seek more often to move outside our comfort zone, to push ourselves and expand our horizons, and our minds. (All the same, I really, really wanted to get helmets on all those little kids!)

As for those serene rice paddies – rice is big business in Bali and people work very hard at it. As an author, I have my own business and I long ago learned that it takes organizational skills, lots of hard work, and day-to-day discipline to succeed. I only hope that the books I produce give as much enjoyment to readers as the rice paddies in Bali gave me as I passed by.

Hard to say which was more lovely, the spectacular acres of green rice shoots, or the incredible flowers. Thank heavens for digital cameras, so I could take as many pics as I wanted.

Photography’s a hobby, but writing is my career, so I must tell you that today is release day for the third book in my Wild Ride to Love series, His, Unexpectedly. I’m thrilled that Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review. They called it “a contemporary love story sure to make readers go weak in the knees” and said, “Well-crafted story lines and richly observed characters bolster a strong erotic element in this delightful, memorable romance.”

Bali is a place many people visit in hopes of finding their own personal balance. Interestingly, Jenna and Mark in His, Unexpectedly are on a similar journey – though theirs takes them up the coast road from California to Vancouver rather than through Bali.

When it comes right down to it, isn’t life a continual process of trying to find your own balance as you juggle the many colored balls of work, play, family, friends, health, hobbies, spirituality, and everything else that makes up your life – while still taking time out to smell the flowers?

For me, the biggest challenge is managing my work life efficiently enough that I can take time away from it for the other things that matter to me. How about you? What balls do you juggle, and do you have any tips for maintaining your balance?

Someone who comments will win an autographed copy of His, Unexpectedly.


P.S. If you want to know more about me and my books, visit my web page [http://www.susanlyons.ca] where both of my writer personas, Susan Fox and Susan Lyons, hang out. You’ll also find more of my photography there. I’m also on Facebook [http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Susan-Lyons-Fox/134094693294553].


***Nas Dean is the winner of this contest!!  Congratulations, Nas!  Please email totebag@authorsoundrelations.com with your full mailing address so Susan can get the prize in the mail to you!  Thanks to everyone who left a comment!***

30 comments:

pageturner said...

Organisation - I keep a diary and write everything I need to do in it. And lots of bubble baths, to help you cope with everything. Add a book and some chocolate and I'm in heaven!

pageturner345@gmail.com

Linda Henderson said...

Since I'm not able to work anymore I don't have to worry about juggling at this point in my life. When I was raising my daughters, working, going to college and managing my kids busy schedules I met myself coming and going. Looking back on it now, I don't know how I managed.

seriousreader at live dot com

desere_steenberg said...

Organization is the name of the game for me , I have a very active 5 year old boy who simply loves sports so he is always involved with something. But I have a pretty huge workload as well so organizing time for work and making sure I have enough time to spend with him and some time to myself is the only way to go!

Keeping a diary of some sort and kind even if is just sitting down every evening and just planing the next 3 days so things can run as smoothly as possible helps alot.

I adore the book's cover thank you for the great post and thanks for the info on your website I had a look and I am loving it !!

All the best
Desere

runner10 said...

It is hard to balance work and family. When I work, I am totally focused on work. Time management is key. When I am with my family, I focus on them.

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Pageturner and Desere, I'm a great believer in planning ahead too, and making lists. Every Sunday evening or Monday morning I make a list for the week and print it out on turquoise paper so it'll stand out on my desk. I refer to it at least every day. (Of course it may get revised as the week goes by, but it's a great starting point for reminding me about everything that needs to get done, and my priorities.)

And yes, bubble baths with books and chocolates (wine's good too!) are fantastic.

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Pageturner and Desere, I'm a great believer in planning ahead too, and making lists. Every Sunday evening or Monday morning I make a list for the week and print it out on turquoise paper so it'll stand out on my desk. I refer to it at least every day. (Of course it may get revised as the week goes by, but it's a great starting point for reminding me about everything that needs to get done, and my priorities.)

And yes, bubble baths with books and chocolates (wine's good too!) are fantastic.

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Linda, I think we often feel that way as we look back on previous times in our lives - how on earth did I ever manage? But if we had to again, we'd figure out how. (Though you sure did have a lot on your plate!) I'm glad that you're enjoying a more relaxed time now.

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Runner10, I think you've mastered something very important. If you can focus on what you're doing now, rather than letting thoughts/worries about other things bleed over and distract you, you're so much more effective. It's also wonderful for the people you're with - be they colleagues or family members - to feel that you're the most important thing on their mind right now, rather than that you'd rather be off doing something else. I wish I was better at the focus thing myself.

Lisa McManus Lange said...

What an adventure and fantastic learning experience about 'expectations!' Love the pictures...congrats on your new release! Lisa

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Thanks, Lisa, and thanks for stopping by. Once I got started writing about Bali, I could have gone on forever!

Michele L. said...

Love the pictures Lisa! The cover of your book is gorgeous! Many congrats on your book! How exciting!

To focus and strive at doing well is sure hard sometimes! Especially when life is always interrupting us with this and that. Lists are good way to organize your thoughts and what is planned for the day/week. I use a lot of post-it notes and put them on my stereo. I have to walk past it to go out my front door. That way I see what I have to do or rather, not forget to do!

Fun blog Lisa! Happy New Year!

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Hi Michele. Uh, I'm not sure who Lisa is (LOL), but I'll respond anyhow.

The post-it notes are smart. I sometimes toss things on the floor where I have to walk to get to the door. I'm also a great believer in keeping things in sight, if I have any hope of actually doing them.

desere_steenberg said...

Thank you for the nice reply !All the best Desere

ps I like the idea that you use turquise paper to make it stand out I just use highlighters in my diary but I like your idea better ! Mind if I borrow it ?

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Desere, you are very welcome to use my turquoise paper idea. Enjoy!

desere_steenberg said...

Thank you so much that is very sweet of you and thanks again for the great post and your book really sounds amazing ! All the best Desere

traveler said...

When my boys were young and there was so much going on I had to be organized in the house and at work. I used to list in my journal and on the calendary each days priorities. I read about Bali and the horrendous traffic jams in a newsmagazine a few years ago.

Estella said...

I am retired so I don't have to juggle anymore.

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Thanks, Desere.

Traveler, I think setting priorities is really key. Otherwise it's so easy to let less important things get in the way of doing the things we really want/need to do.

Estella, that's one thing about being a writer. I'm not sure I'll ever retire - or at least not voluntarily. If people stop buying my books, that'll be another matter.

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

By the way, I forgot to mention my thrilling news. Publishers Weekly just came out with lists of top 10 books for spring. My book is in the top 10 for romance! How cool is that? I'm in there with Suzanne Brockman, Nalini Singh, Debbie Macomber, Mary Balogh, Sharon Sala, and other fabulous writers.

Leni said...

Lately, I've been having a time trying to fit a good exercise routine into my day. If I get a bit more organized I'll be back on track to managing time better.

lenikaye@yahoo.com

Pat Cochran said...

I juggle most of the same items
as others do: Honey, health issues,
home, children, grandchildren, our
church (where I have volunteered
for 37 years), siblings/families,
friends, blog friends, and READING!
Only tip I have is that one must
realize when to back off due to age!

Pat Cochran

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Leni, I'm having trouble squeezing in exercise as well, but it's so important. If we're in good shape, we have the energy to manage the other things in our lives - and with any luck, to do it free of pain.

Pat, how very sensible to realize when to back off. Just remember, reading is always good for you!

Nas Dean said...

I love the pictures! The cover of your book is gorgeous. Many congrats on your book. How exciting!

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Thanks, Nas. Yes, it's an exciting time!

Michele L. said...

Hi Susan,
How embarassing! I was reading the previous blog post and saw the name Lisa, I bet ya, and it stuck in my head.

Congratulations on your book making the top 10 for Spring! Woohoo! Way to go Susan!

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

No worries, Michele. I do that kind of thing myself all the time.

Kaelee said...

No hints on juggling as I am the most unorganized person going. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your pictures. I would have never thought about gladiolas being on Bali.

We - win said...

I hope u make Bali as a backgound in your next book. Harlequin in my fav reading. I always dream that oneday authors of harlequin write about bali. Im Indonesian and live in Java island ^^

hoping trafficjam don't make u upset about bali. its happen everywhere in indonesia. Lombok island is nice destination too if u visit indonesia nexttime :)

Love ur books...

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Thanks, Kaelee. The gladiolas surprised me too. They were growing along the walls of a very old temple. I loved the contrast between the delicate peach coloring of the glads and the ancient, very stained stone walls.

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Hi We-win. Wow, someone from Indonesia showed up here. Very cool! And no, the traffic didn't put me off Bali. It was just interesting - not what I expected. I've heard Lombok is lovely too. Maybe I'll be back one day, but it's a very long flight from where I am!