This collection of Twilight Zone-esque shorts includes flash fiction set in the Trilogy of the Damned universe, a short story that has been favorably compared to works by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King), and fan favorite Eucha Falls, my creepy pasta-inspired novelette about the haunted site of an abandoned amusement park.
Happy February! Groundhog day has already come and gone and while January seemed to drag on forever, now that it’s gone it’s like, wow, where did that month go?
I’m still struggling to get my rhythm back with any kind of consistency. A big reason is that we’re still getting used to having a larger-than-we’re-used-to home and property to care for, and figuring out how to juggle that with writing and everything involved in running an indie publishing business alongside a freelance business. It seems like something always crops up that needs to be taken care of now.
Case in point: some largish critter (like, larger than a rat) has been nesting inside our walls, and so we’ve been setting out a live trap every night in the hopes of catching and removing it. For the first couple of weeks the trap caught nothing, but it still required regular tending. And then this week we caught three(!) ‘possums.
The first two (shown) we relocated to a creek many miles from here, and then after the third (not shown) we had a talk about how we don’t want to get rid of all of the ‘possums on our property since they’re beneficial to have around (not to mention ridiculously cute), so we let the third one chill in the trap while we plugged up the hole where they’d been getting into the house (praying as we did that we weren’t trapping any inside), and then let that one go. But dealing with all of that ate up three mornings this week, which is the time of day that I do all of my fiction writing.
We’ve also got a ton of yard work to do. My husband’s been doing the bulk of that himself, bless him, but if we’re going to get the property cleared of leaves and limbs before mowing season starts, I’m going to have to step up and start helping. I spent an afternoon last week (in between ‘possum-relocation excursions) helping to rake and haul leaves and the next day I was so sore and exhausted I wasn’t good for anything.
So, basically, Real Life Makes Writing Hard. News at 11.
Actually, I wasn’t good for nothing during that recovery day. I used my time to revisit my author brand and ideal audience and all of that necessary marketing stuff. After a day of researching and thinking, I feel like it’s all starting to come together. I think these last several years have been mainly about figuring out who I am as an author and a writer, and now I’ve got a a better handle on that and have a lot more confidence to write the kinds of books I really want to write. And I think you’re going to be seeing that emerge over the course of the next year or so as I make some changes.
I know y’all don’t really care about changes to the web design or my visual branding, but that’s coming, eventually. More pertinent to your interests is the slightly new direction I’m taking with this horror novella series I’m currently writing. It might not be that wildly different, but it’s definitely got a harder edge than anything I’ve written before.
Ironically, though, this series is probably thematically also the most Christian story I’ve ever written. Not that that means it’s clean and safe. Far from it.
Anyway, there’s also the Southern Gothic YA novel that’s still simmering on my back burner, and I’m also ginning up ideas for the kind of spooky Middle Grade stories that I loved so much when I was a kid.
But those are mostly just seeds I’m sowing for the future. On a more immediate timeline, I’m also still thinking about how all of this applies to my newsletter, and how I want that to be a gift — something fun that you’ll look forward to every month — and not a sales tool. I had wanted to send out a new issue in January, but I feel like I need to put more thought into it first.
So this brings us full circle back to the problem of how to juggle all of this with the day-to-day responsibilities of living and care-taking a large property. As much as I thrive on rhythms and routines, I think I’m in a season where I’m going to have to release any expectations along those lines and just fit my work in where I can. As for example, it’s Sunday morning as I’m writing this post. I don’t normally do any work on Sunday mornings, but I’m squeezing this post in between a Bible study and the pre-spring cleaning I want to get done during this wonderful warm spell we’re having. And later today I may try to squeeze off a few paragraphs of the novella in between laundry and vacuuming.
Ultimately, I just need to suck it up and recognize that I’ve been spoiled and that having entire days and weeks to devote to my writing and business is a luxury and not actually a necessity. I just need to let go of the notion that certain tasks need to happen during a certain time of day.
I’ll let you know how that goes.
Meanwhile, I will be sending out the new-and-improved newsletter soon–and it will likely include the first peek at this novella I keep talking about. If you’re not signed up to get that in your inbox, you can remedy that by clicking here, or just enter your e-mail below.
How did your January go? Are you fully back in the swing of things or are you still struggling to find your way in this new year like I am?
My first new release of 2019 is out and available pretty much everywhere e-books are sold!
Women’s Work is a short story duo featuring two tough heroines that have captured my imagination, and I hope they’ll also capture yours. Here’s the official description:
A woman’s work is never done, and rarely is it easy — a sentiment that’s keenly felt in these two quick tales of urban fantasy and horror from Jean Marie Bauhaus.
In The Box, retired monster slayer turned single mom Keely Brewster hides out in a small town where she hopes to raise her little girl in peace. But leaving her old life behind proves harder than expected when a mysterious package shows up on her front step.
In Night Driving, Mae always loved driving at night. But this particular drive might be one of the most important of her life. And for her violent husband, it might be the last.
Enjoy these haunting creations from the mind that brought you Eucha Falls, Midnight Snacks and the Restless Spirits series.
My goal for the new year: become as relaxed and chill as this good boy.
Happy new year, folks! I hope you’ve managed to get off the post-holiday struggle bus and start getting back into the swing of things. As rarin’ to go as I thought I was for 2019 to get started, as far as actually getting off my butt, my new year didn’t really get started until this week. But so far, it’s going pretty well.
2018 really kicked my hinder. I talked some in my last post about how stressful and chaotic it was, but I don’t think I fully realized the toll it had taken on me, or just how burned out I was, until I had an opportunity to really slow down and rest during the last half of December. I was a complete emotional mess in the days leading up to Christmas. I spent a lot of my break just being lazy as h*ck and refusing to feel guilty about it. I did a lot of journaling, but other than that and the necessary stuff around the house, I allowed myself to do ZERO work–not even to think about it–until after New Year’s, and then I spent the first few days of January just thinking about what I want and hope for for 2019.
My word for the year is “Health.” I have some chronic health problems I need to address, and I need to get better at taking care of myself. Part of that means eating healthier. I’m not doing anything drastic like Whole 30 or anything crazy like that (if you’re doing Whole 30, more power to you, and I wish you success. I did it once, and once was enough), but simply trying to be more mindful about what I put in my body and making healthier choices on a day-by-day, meal-by-meal basis. One positive thing I got out of Whole 30 was the idea of stopping whenever I’m tempted to consider the impact what I eat will have on my health and on how I feel, and to ask myself if it’s worth it. Sometimes the answer is yes (with pizza and homemade baked goods the answer is always yes), but surprisingly often, the answer is no.
It also means moving more. I’m not going crazy with that, either, but I definitely feel better and tend to be in a happier mood when I fit some movement into my day. Currently that looks like doing yoga most mornings and occasionally before bedtime. I started doing yoga on my break, mainly because it seemed like a good way to settle my mind and my overwhelming emotions, and I kind of fell in love with it. By now I’ve been at it long enough that it’s starting to be a habit, and my day doesn’t feel complete without it. I’m also becoming bendier and less prone to carrying tension around in my muscles, which is helping a lot of my aches and pains.
It also means resting more. I thought I had a pretty good handle on slowing down and resting when I needed to, but I took this rest assessment and discovered that I actually suck at resting. Apparently just getting to bed on time (most nights) and letting myself be lazy on Saturdays isn’t as adequate as I thought. So I’m trying to fit more types of rest into my life. Yoga is part of that. I also got out my guitar and started practicing again, and I dug out my coloring books and pencils and started a new embroidery project, because it’s easier for me to be still and quiet and not let my thoughts spin out of control and wear me down if I can keep my hands busy and have something visual to concentrate on. And I’m trying to take advantage of this freakishly warm winter to get outside and into the woods more often. Oh, and I’m trying to spend less time on my phone, except for when I’m using it to read or listen to books or podcasts.
As far as my working life goes, this looks like being more gentle with myself and moving at a more relaxed pace. Last year, I let myself get sucked into this hustle mindset of trying to do all the things and get them done as quickly as possible, and I blame that for the burnout I was feeling by the end of the year. I’m just not made for hustle. I’m wired to be slow, thoughtful and methodical, and when I forget that, or try to force myself to be different, it’s always a recipe for pain and suffering. I also let myself get pushed into believing I had to be a lot more ambitious than I’m actually wired to be, to come up with a vision for my life that, when I snapped out of whatever spell I was under and really examined it, was sheer insanity and not the kind of life I want for myself AT ALL.
Side note: one thing I discovered about myself last year is that I’m an Enneagram 9 (head to the Lazy Genius’s Instagram and click on her Enneagram story highlight for a quick primer on the Enneagram, if you don’t know what that is), and 9’s have a tendency to “merge” with people we spend a lot of time around, meaning we tend to internalize their goals and ideals as our own. I realized I was spending a lot of time following influencers whose ideals and goals are great for them, but terrible for me. So I had to spend some time culling my feeds and eliminating all of the voices that were leading me down an unhealthy path, and I also had to spend some time just staying off of social media altogether and getting really quiet while I figured out what I actually want and what is actually best for me and my life. And going forward, I now know I need to be really careful about the voices and influences I allow into my life. But on the flip side, I can use this tendency for good by surrounding myself with people who are positive influences and will help steer me in the direction I want to go.
So I’m trying something new this year. I’m not setting any concrete goals for myself, I’m not going after any big dreams. I’m not actively investing in personal growth or trying to change myself in any big way. Instead, I’m just going to let myself relax this year and really get to know myself, and get used to being comfortable in my own skin. And I’m going to just enjoy my right-now life without trying so hard to change it. Because while it’s not perfect, it’s actually pretty good. I’ve already accomplished a lot of things and I’m living out the result of several dreams having already come true, but you wouldn’t know it, because instead of letting myself slow down and enjoy any of it I’m always looking ahead and chasing after the next big thing. But I have this theory that if I just relax and enjoy my life and just keep doing my work at a steady pace, it’s all going to work out the way it’s supposed to. So for now, I’m just going to allow my life and career to unfold one day at a time without trying to force anything to happen, and to be led by my own intuition and instincts instead of by the proclamations of gurus and experts.
What does that mean for my writing? It means I’m going to take a more relaxed approach, for one thing. This is the first time in three years that I don’t have any official deadlines or contractual obligations to fulfill, so I’m going to enjoy that freedom and follow the muse where it leads me. I’m going to allow myself to have multiple projects going at once, bouncing back and forth as inspiration leads me, instead of forcing myself to focus on one story from beginning to end. I’m going to work at a comfortable pace and not worry about a production schedule or setting arbitrary deadlines for myself. Stories will get done when they get done. Books will come out when they come out. And hopefully, I’ll rediscover the joy of creating for creation’s sake instead of focusing on what the end product will look like and how well it will sell.
Currently, I’m working on two novellas. One is a stand-alone. The other is the beginning of an experiment in serialization–I’m planning to release this story as a series of shorter novellas, and eventually bundle them together into one larger volume (or volumes, depending on how long it ends up being; I’m thinking this could turn into an ongoing series) a la what Hugh Howey did with Wool.
I started this new series this week on a whim, although it’s been percolating in the back of my mind for quite a while now. If you’re a longtime subscriber to my newsletter, then last year you got the chance to read a short story called “Night Driving,” which I’m getting ready to release in e-book form alongside another short I wrote last year. This new series will center around the main character of that story and pick up about six months after those events. I’ve got a couple of scenes in the can and I’m really in love with these characters and this story, which popped up more or less fully formed in my head over the weekend. I’m also really excited about the possibilities of where I can go with it. It’s a supernatural thriller, and it’s going to allow me to explore some themes and questions relating to my Christian worldview in ways that won’t be too explicit or preachy. So anyway, since that’s what I’m excited about, that’s what I’m focusing on right now.
The other novella–which might be more of a novelette–is a horror story inspired partly by my own experiences with sleep paralysis, and partly by all the murder documentary shows I watched last summer when we had free satellite and no streaming memberships and the only decent channel was Investigation Discovery. I’m not as excited about that one, but I’m having fun writing it.
I’m also still working on outlining and world building for the YA Southern Gothic I got inspired to write last year. And don’t worry, Dominion of the Damned Damned fans, that hasn’t fallen off my radar. Getting both the new version of Dominion and the sequel, Deliverance, published this year is still high on my priority list. I’m still awaiting the final six chapters of Dominion from my editor-slash-husband, but he also needed a break, and currently he’s distracted by trying to figure out what to do about some raccoons that have apparently invaded our walls and ceiling and keep waking him up in the middle of the night with their antics.
But I’m hoping to get Dominion back out there soon, and then I’ll turn my attention to revising Deliverance. As for writing the third book of the trilogy this year, though, I’ve decided to put that off until next year. For one thing, Deliverance is pretty harrowing and ends on kind of a bleak note, and my emotions need a break from that universe. For another, I truly have no idea how to get these characters out of the bind I left them in. I know the answer will come to me eventually, but it won’t do any good to try to force a solution. But knowing my tendency to think about stories other than the one I’m working on, there’s a really good chance that the answer will come to me while I’m writing something completely unrelated.
One thing I won’t be doing a lot of this year is marketing. Last year, I made book marketing a big goal and spent a lot of time and energy (and a little bit of money) trying a number of different tactics. And it made not one single whit of difference to my book sales. In fact, if anything, my overall sales went down. According to smart people who are a lot farther along in this journey than I am, active marketing is pretty useless unless you’ve already got a large back catalog of books, and at this stage of my career I’m better off putting all of that time and energy into writing and producing more books. So that’s what I’m going to do, which takes a whole slew of marketing-related projects and activities off my plate (as far as fiction goes, at any rate. I’ve got a nonfiction book coming out soon, and marketing tends to be more effective for nonfiction books, so I’m not entirely off the marketing hook, alas. But nonfiction marketing also tends to be way easier, so it should balance out).
One thing I’m still undecided about is my newsletter. Last fall, I had both decided and announced that I was going to move from a monthly to a quarterly newsletter. But I don’t think I really like waiting that long between issues, and also, that’s when I was viewing my newsletter as a marketing tool. But now I’m starting to look at it as a way to connect with my readers in a more personal way, and a way to share bits of my life and cool stuff I’ve discovered, rather than a way to say “Hey, here’s a new thing I wrote, please read it.” But (again) I’m also wondering whether it would be better to do that via newsletter or here on the blog. Right now, I’m considering moving to an every-other-month schedule and sending out a curated newsletter filled with stuff I think you’ll like. What do you think? Would you like that? Or do you already get enough of that sort of thing in your inbox?
Which finally brings me to this here blog. I know this sort of post is really old fashioned. This post is more Livejournal circa 2003 than 2019. This post assumes you’ve got a long attention span and, even more audaciously, that you actually might care about what’s going on with my life, and that you care to know not just what I’m working on, but why those projects. This is what blogging used to be, and why I got into it in the first place, and I miss it. From other grumblings I’ve been hearing, I know I’m not the only one. As people grow more and more weary and disconnected from social media, I have a feeling that this type of blogging might come back into vogue. I know that I certainly plan to do more of it in this space. Not real often, because, let’s not kid ourselves, this post is really long, and I’ll honestly be surprised if anyone is still reading by this point, and also because it’s taken me all morning to write. But once in a while, maybe, when I’m full of things I want to say.
What do you think? Do you miss this lengthier, more personal style of blogging? Would you like to see more of it from me? Or do you want me to stick to short, fluffy entertainment articles and announcements? I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you’d like to see here, and also in the newsletter. And I’d also love to hear how your new year is shaping up so far. So leave a comment below!
This year did not go as planned. I mean, they never do, do they? But this one really went off the rails, starting with my mother’s stroke back in January, one whole week into what until then I thought was shaping up to be a pretty good new year.
I thought that was a glitch and that I could get things back on track once she recovered. But it turns out that that event was simply the plunger being pulled back before sending us careening around the rest of 2018 like an Atomic Arcade pinball (’80s kids represent).
Here are a few of the highlights of our year:
We spent a month caring for my sick mom, and let me just say that I’m so deeply grateful that it was only a month and that she made such an incredible recovery in what is really practically no time at all where these things are concerned.
We moved. To a travel trailer. Way out in the country…
Which kicked off our 8-month experiment in living tiny–me, my husband, our dog, cat and two turtles crammed into a 25-foot trailer. Did I mention my husband and I both work at home? And are both introverts?
We got to chicken-sit–and rooster-wrestle–on multiple occasions. Chickens are stressful, y’all.
We looked at a lot of real estate, and made a lot of tentative plans, only to see them fall through.
Some relationships fell apart, and that’s all I’ll say about that. But we also made new friends and new family who we will always cherish.
We moved–AGAIN! To a whole ‘nother state this time, and to a fully house-sized house WAY, WAY out in the country–more precisely, in the middle of the Ozark wilderness.
And that is why we’re ending 2018 plum exhausted. And a bit mystified. If you had told us a year ago that we’d be living in the middle of the Arkansas woods on top of a small mountain by the end of the new year, we would have thought you’d done lost your mind. And yet, here we are–and I’m ridiculously grateful to be here, where it’s beautiful and calm and peaceful and I can hike and introvert to my heart’s content.
With all of that happening, it’s probably no surprise that so much of what I’d wanted to get done this year, particularly publishing both the new edition of Dominion of the Damned and the sequel, Deliverance of theDamned, ended up not getting done. But really, it’s amazing I got anything done at all–and I did. While it’s my usual tendency to focus on my failures and ignore my accomplishments, in the interest of being kinder to myself and focusing on the positive, here’s what actually got done this year:
I managed to get through three rounds of publisher’s edits on Bound Spirits despite all of the chaos in my life those first few months.
I managed a whole revision of Dominion AND made it through most of my editor’s edits.
I still feel disappointed that I didn’t get as much traction as I wanted on the Damned trilogy, but I realize that a sane person would think that’s a lot to accomplish in a single year, so I’m going to go ahead and let myself feel proud about that. And put Damned high on the priority list for 2019.
Because I am so worn out from living through 2018, I’m going to tie up some loose ends and then take some time off until after the start of the new year, when I’ll be back to tell you all about the plans I have for 2019. Or should I say hopes, because if there’s one thing this year taught me, it’s that it’s useless to make long-term plans.
How was your 2018? Tell me all about it in the comments.
KU subscribers and Amazon Prime members rejoice! Or at least give each other a high five. All of my short indie fiction is now back home on KU. Grab them all here.
“But wait, Jean,” longtime readers might be thinking, “didn’t you just take them all out of KU at the start of this year?”
Yes. Yes I did. But now I’ve moved them back, for reasons. If you want to know those reasons, you can read all about them right here, along with what I eventually plan to do for the benefit of non-Kindle readers. The short version is that after a year-long experiment with global publishing, I feel like Amazon and KU is the best home for my short fiction, at least for the time being. Which means I plan to publish more shorter works there in the near future, so if you like shorter fiction, and especially if you happen to like MY shorter fiction, that’s a good thing! High fives all around!
“But I don’t have a Kindle / I’m not enrolled in KU!”
You don’t have to be left out — you can install the free Kindle app on your smartphone, tablet or PC and read Kindle books to your heart’s content (true fact: I gave my actual Kindle device to my husband because I like the smartphone app better). And if you’re not in KU, you can purchase these books at the regular retail price (or if you’re a Prime member you can borrow them from the Prime Lending Library). Also, like I mentioned in the other post linked up there, eventually I’ll collect all of my shorts into a paperback edition. More high fives!
Hello readers, and greetings from the beautiful Arkansas Ozarks, which is where we live now! How we ended up here is a long story, and I may tell it some day, but I can tell you that this particular corner of North Arkansas is not somewhere either of us ever expected to end up. Be that as it may, I’m kind of loving it here.
Here is a modest home on nearly 40 acres, most of which consist of a heavily-wooded side of a small mountain (my husband, who has spent considerably more time in the Rockies and the California mountains, insists on calling the Ozarks hills, but whatever), miles and miles from civilization unless you count a tiny post office and volunteer fire station up the road. Since moving in we’ve seen about a dozen deer in our yard and about half as many wild turkey, as well as a ‘possum and a couple of chipmunks. We have NOT seen any bears, but they supposedly live around here, so we don’t go outside without pepper spray, and we don’t let our tiny dog roam off leash.
As for the great indoors, I’m back to having my very own office (and craft room) again. This week has been the first time I’ve had the mental wherewithal to actually put it to use getting any writing done, and so far so good. My hope is that living here will provide some badly-needed stability, especially following a crazy couple of years that included three moves, and I’ll be able to focus and get a ton of writing done.
Which would be great, especially seeing as how my writing projects have been on hold since we started prepping for this move. It’s hard to believe that was back in October. It feels like much longer. It feels like my last post here, which was on Halloween, was posted approximately 93 years ago, and it hasn’t even been a whole month.
At any rate, although the holidays aren’t making it easy, I’m slowly but surely getting my writing life back on track. I’m back at it going over my editor’s edits on Dominion, the new version of which I want to get published ASAP, and then I can get started on revising the sequel I wrote 350 years ago–or this summer, I guess, if the calendar isn’t lying to me.
I also wrote a non-fiction book and most of an e-course shortly before the move, so I’m juggling my fiction projects with those right now. The unpredictability of this year has made me wary of boldly stating my plans, or even my hopes, but I’m crossing my fingers and praying that 2019 will be free of major setbacks and I’ll be able to finally complete the Damned trilogy, as well as another short story collection, and also draft a YA gothic horror that’s eating my brain.
Of course, I’ve got to do all of this while helping my husband sloooowly unpack and maintain this house and property, and maybe possibly actually attempt some of the more domestic pursuits I keep pinning on Pinterest (like making soup, which I’ve actually done! Twice, even!), because somehow I’m not happy unless I’ve got too much to do and I’m driving myself insane.
In other news, the pets are adjusting well–our kitty, Boudicca, is probably the happiest of all of us to be out of the travel trailer we lived in for the last eight months. Pete, our Chihuahua, is also adjusting well, although he’s still being a little extra-needy. Thankfully, the stress of this move doesn’t seem to have placed any added strain on his health. We got him a full checkup shortly before we moved, and all things considered, he’s doing well. All of his meds are doing a good job of keeping his heart and lungs functioning properly. We still need to find a local–“local” in these parts being within a 50-mile radius–vet and get him established there in case of any emergencies, though.
This is a big adjustment for everyone, and I think it will take me a while to get used to the idea that I don’t live in Oklahoma anymore, for the first time ever. Does that make me an Ozarklahoman? I guess we won’t be official Arkansans until we get our driver’s licenses switched over. Is that how it works? Like I said, minus the last few weeks, I’ve lived my entire life in Oklahoma, so I don’t know what all is involved in setting up a new life in another state. Although I guess I’m gradually finding out.
Okay, confession: these treats are recycled. We’re in the middle of getting ready to move and I don’t have time to run to Target and pick up new bags of candy make new content. But these old treats are still yummy, I promise!
Here’s me last year doing a Halloween live reading of my short horror story, Snack Machine:
And here’s me narrating two creepy pieces of flash fiction:
These are all featured in my short story collection, Midnight Snacks. Click here to get your copy. It also includes my horror novella Eucha Falls, which is available as a free standalone wherever e-books are sold. And if you like those you’ll also like my creepy story about a witch’s ghost, Weather Witch. Get it here.
And finally, here’s a Halloween tip: If you’ve got more candy corn than you know what to do with, try mixing it into your popcorn. We tried this the other night and it was the perfect mix of sweet & salty — and I’m not even a fan of candy corn. But that was a big bag o’ deliciousness.
Happy Halloween, folks. I hope you’re enjoying it this year. As for me and mine, we’re going to take a break from packing and prepping to enjoy our favorite monster movies and candy. What Halloween traditions are you enjoying this year? Shout it out in the comments!
I’ve teamed up with a number of other authors on three different upcoming seasonal promotions, each of which are packed with e-book freebies. Whether you like paranormal romance, urban fantasy, dystopian, horror, thrillers or cozy romance, there should be something to your liking. This is a great way to discover new authors and get introduced to some fantastic book series!
Here are the details:
October 20th – November 10th – Otherworldly Romance – Choose from over two dozen free paranormal romance e-books and enter to win a $30 gift card!
October 26th – 28th – The Halloween Free Book Party – Giving away free e-books in the horror, thriller, dystopian and paranormal romance genres. You can also win other prizes and a $20 Amazon gift card!
As you may or may not be aware, Dominion of the Damned has been getting an update to bring it more in line with the writing of the sequels (because six years is a long time for one’s writing style to evolve), and the new revised edition will be back on virtual book store shelves very soon (in the meantime you can read the revised-but-not-actually-finalized version for free on Wattpad).
And it’s getting a new outside to go with it’s new insides.
Here’s your first look at the brand new cover for the new-and-improved Dominion of the Damned: