The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Category: Uncategorized Page 2 of 39

Book sale aftermath and killing a significant number of darlings for the greater good.

So the big October sale is over and everything is back to regular price. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but it still gave me a boost in sales, and I gave away a respectable number of books that will hopefully translate to some loyal readers down the road.

One thing I learned is that putting everything on sale to coincide with my book launch was not a good idea. It drew attention away from the new book, which is the opposite of what you want to happen during a book launch week. So… won’t be doing that again.

As for my new WIP, Ghost of a Chance, this morning I trashed all but the first two scenes. The scenes I deleted were meandering all over the place, so I’m going to chalk that up as a discovery draft and example of why I’m not a good pantser. Now I’ve got a partial outline and a better idea of where I’m going and what needs to happen to get there.

If this were NaNoWriMo, I’d have just made some notes about what needed to happen and kept going from there as if I’d already written it that way, and waited until I finished the draft to go back and redo the beginning. But since I’m not (yet) racing to meet a crazy word quota by a certain deadline, going back and writing the correct scenes seemed more likely make the rest of the story flow better.

I will be attempting Nano this year, albeit I’ll be cheating by working on this WIP. I’m going to do my ever-lovin’ best to finish the first draft by the end of November, but a lot depends on my freelancing schedule and workload, so it’s hard to say how that will go. I wanted to try something new in an effort to carve more time out of my schedule for working on the draft. My plan was to keep the little laptop I write on by my bed, and read over what I wrote that day before I turn out my light, and then make myself wake up and start writing in bed when my husband gets up in the morning. But then this morning, which was supposed to be day one of this new endeavor, he woke up WAY too dang early, and I fell back to sleep before I could even remember that I was supposed to write. Then when he came in and woke me up it was time for us to do our morning Bible study together. So… maybe I’ll have better luck tomorrow morning.

Nanowrimo participant 2014

If you’re planning to do Nano this year, Kristen Lamb’s blog has several excellent posts on how to do well in that challenge. This post in particular is a must-read for anyone taking on creative endeavors in general.

And now I’m going to join my husband in an off-schedule weeknight cheat night, because the weekend was too short and we have way to much pumpkin and Halloween-related goodies and entertainment options that need to be consumed, and we were both really craving some pumpkin ale (as I write this I’m sipping on a positively delightful Red Hook pumpkin porter). I’m sure I’m going to regret this tomorrow.

Are you doing Nanowrimo this year? Are you playing by the rules or are you going to be a rebel? Let’s talk about your Nano plans in the comments!

Oh! And if you’d like to read occasional excerpts from the WIP, I’ll be posting them on Ello. Be sure to friend me if you’re there already. If not, I’ve got two invitations and nobody to give them to, so holler in the comments if you’d like one.

On coping with fear. And zombies.

I was planning to write something this week about clowns and why they’re so dang disturbing; but the truth is, I’m too distracted by real-life horrors this week to be much into the fun kind.

Yesterday, Matt and I learned of the passing of a Facebook friend, who was killed in a motor scooter accident. Apart from making us both really sad, it’s also made me hyper-aware of my own mortality and how there are no guarantees that we’ll reach old age. This is coming at a time when I’ve already been managing a certain amount of anxiety about the state of the world, which seems to be getting scarier by the minute.

The thing about living in Oklahoma is that all of the scariest threats seem far away. We’ve always felt insulated by virtue of the fact that we’re well inland and we’re a state that not many people outside of Oklahoma care about or even give much thought to. Of course, we have tornadoes, and those are scary, but that type of weather doesn’t occur here all year long. Tulsa has its fair share of violent crime, but we take reasonable precautions to help ensure that we won’t become victims. But when we watch things like terrorism and deadly epidemics on the news, we feel horrible for the people who are living with it, but also thankful that it’s all so far away an not part of our daily lives.

Except that these things have started to encroach on our own back yard. Recently, down in Moore, only about two hours away, a woman was beheaded by a recent convert to Islam. And now Ebola is starting to make the rounds down in Dallas, only a six-hour drive from here. And a 30-minute flight, which seems much more significant in light of the fact that the second nurse who’s been diagnosed with Ebola took a flight from Cleveland back to Dallas the day before she began showing symptoms. Dallas is a hub through which at least half of the flights from the Tulsa International Airport pass through, so there’s a high probability that there were people bound for Tulsa on that plane with her.

I’m not trying to scare-monger. My point is that these are anxiety-inducing times we live in, especially if you have an over-active imagination, as most writers tend to have. It’s important to have a way to deal with that anxiety and channel it in a healthy direction instead of becoming paralyzed with fear. One way I deal with it is to turn my focus to make-believe horrors. It’s much more fun to think about how I’d survive a zombie uprising than to think about how to avoid catching scary contagious diseases that make you bleed out of your face-holes.

Zombie plan

(via Infocult)

Of course, as a person of faith, the primary way I deal is to give it all to God. After confessing my fears and meditating on the promises of scripture, my anxiety invariably gives way to peace. But it’s easy to forget to do that, and to get wrapped up in the moment and fixated on what I could be doing to mitigate perceived threats. It’s also easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless in these moments. Ultimately, though, I trust that my life and the lives of those I love are in God’s hands, and that I don’t need to be afraid.

What about you, dear reader? What’s pushing your anxiety buttons lately? How do you manage anxiety and fear? Do you have a zombie plan? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I’ve been watching a lot of Ghost Adventures-type shows lately, partly for novel research and inspiration, but also because I just get a hankering for that sort of thing around this time of year. But I always have to stop watching them at some point because they tend to give me nightmares. I don’t really mind bad dreams that much; they often turn out to be great story fodder. But my husband definitely seems to mind my tendency to scream and shout in my sleep when I’m dreaming that something is out to get me, so for his sake, I stop watching.

The fact that I write about ghosts and the paranormal inevitably means that from time to time I get asked what I actually believe about this stuff. Since it’s Halloween (Halloween being a month-long event at my house), it seems like a good time to answer that question on the record.

On juggling acts, letting balls drop, and the power of No

I’m slowly coming to accept that I can’t be all things. For instance, I can’t be a best-selling author (okay, I have a long, long way to go to get there, but the climb up that ladder takes a lot of work), run multiple businesses AND be a first-rate housekeeper. I also can’t be an aspiring best-seller, run my businesses, be a sort-of-okay housekeeper (at least the laundry gets folded and put away and the dishes get cleaned), AND accept every invitation to join or attend every local writer’s group, business networking group, or author’s event that comes my way.

"What's that? One more ball to keep in the air? Sure, no problem!" Photo courtesy of Victoria Pickering via Flickr.

“What’s that? One more ball to keep in the air? Sure, no problem!” Photo courtesy of Victoria Pickering via Flickr Creative Commons.

There is only so much time in the day, and you have to pick your battles.

The Bible talks about two sisters named Mary and Martha (if you haven’t heard of them, they had a famous brother named Lazarus. You know, the guy Jesus resurrected after four days in the grave). Martha, the older sister, is a type A personality, very responsible and always trying to take care of everybody. Mary, the younger sister, is more laid back and makes time for the things she knows are truly important.

Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Luke tells us about a time when the sisters were hosting Jesus and (presumably) his disciples. As Jesus was preaching to those who had come to see him, Martha was busy in the kitchen, bustling around to make sure there was enough food and refreshments for all the guests. I can imagine that Martha’s last name was actually Stewart and that she was going to a lot of trouble to make sure everything was impressive and perfect.

Meanwhile, Mary was in the living room, camped out at the Lord’s feet and listening to his teachings.

When Martha saw this, she became full of anger and resentment. She felt overworked and overwhelmed and couldn’t believe Mary wasn’t getting off of her butt to help out.

As soon as she had an opportunity, Martha approached Jesus to voice her complaints. She revealed that her frustration wasn’t only directed at her sister, but also at the Lord himself. She pointed out that he saw how hard she was working to make all of the guests comfortable, and he never even said a word to Mary to suggest that maybe she should get up and go help.

Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t appreciate everything Martha was doing, but the fact is, no one asked her to go to so much trouble. Jesus knew that the time of his earthly ministry was running short, and Mary realized that hearing his teaching while she had the chance was way more important than serving an elaborate meal when a tray of cheese and crackers would’ve sufficed.

This reminds me of the time I put on a baby shower for one of my sisters. I went all out for that shower. Don’t get me wrong — I had fun doing it, and I don’t have any resentment about all the work I put into it. But I realize that I created a lot of extra work, not only for myself but also for those who’d volunteered to help out. I wasn’t satisfied with store-bought cake or cupcakes, or even using a mix — I had to make everything from scratch. I opted for an elaborate non-alcoholic Sangria recipe instead of a can of Fruit Punch. I even made most of the decorations myself. Of course, the shower was a big hit and everyone was duly impressed, but really, everyone would have been just as satisfied if I’d taken several shortcuts — they probably wouldn’t have even known the difference — and I and my helpers would’ve been a lot less stressed by the time my sister and the guests arrived.

I used to be more of a Mary. When I was younger, I was all about taking shortcuts, and it wasn’t that difficult for me to make time for the things that were truly important to me. But somewhere along the line I morphed into a Martha, always staying busy, creating unneeded work for myself as I tried to impress people with what a hard worker I am, always being available, trying to prove my reliability and strong work ethic.

Meanwhile, I was neglecting relationships and my own health, as well as my writing and the furtherance of my own dreams.

I’ve been trying lately to go back to being more like Mary. It’s not easy. It involves getting focused on what’s truly needed and letting a lot of things fall by the wayside. It also involves saying no a lot, which is always difficult. What if the person asking gets offended? What if they don’t understand? Should I explain all the reasons why this request will place undue hardship on my life? What if they get angry and don’t like me anymore?

For the record, I’ve learned that Oprah was right: “No” is a complete sentence (I’m not often in the habit of quoting Oprah, but she had a few gems). There’s no need to explain unless asked, and even then, I find that “It’s just a really bad time” is usually explanation enough. That covers a multitude of reasons, from financial difficulty to an overbooked schedule to needing time to rest to simply not wanting to do it.

So what about you? Are you more of a Mary or a Martha? How do you deal with being stretched too thin and saying no? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Goal Setting and an A-ha Moment

Since my last post, I’ve cut back some on bread and dairy, and I’m already feeling quite a bit better. Today I picked up some almond milk to see how I like it. We’ve still got bread and cheese in the house that we need to eat up so it doesn’t go to waste, then I’m going to do my very best to limit that stuff to the odd weekend cheat night and special occasions.

I’ve been working my way through Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World by Kristen Lamb — a book I HIGHLY recommend to any authors — any creatives, for that matter — in need of an effective audience-building platform. The first exercise is to take the time to write out your goals — 6-month goals, 1 year goals, 5 year, 10 year, etc. When you do this, you are encouraged to dream big and be specific. I found it to be an incredibly helpful exercise, not only for helping me to clarify what I want, what needs to happen with my career, and what I need to do to get there, but also for helping me realize that it’s not too late to achieve my biggest dreams. There’s still plenty of time, as long as I can stay focused and not let myself get sidetracked.

It also showed me how closely my dream of motherhood is linked to my dream of being a successful novelist. That might sound strange, but in my mind, our best bet for being able to afford the necessary medical treatments (and/or adoption fees, if it ever comes to that) — not to mention being able to afford to provide for a growing kid, letting me stay home and be a full-time mom, being able to home school and all that jazz — is me selling lots and lots of books.

This brings us back around to the dietary changes. And last night I had an epiphany. It dawned on me that I’m never going to achieve either dream if I don’t want it more than I want the temporary satisfaction of a cookie or a slice of pizza, or the convenience of a slice of toast. I have to want to succeed more than I want delicious food. If I don’t, my health issues will never improve and I’ll never be able to sustain the energy I need to accomplish my goals. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the realization that I’ve been giving food a higher priority than not only my health, but also my biggest lifelong dreams, was kind of astonishing to me. And also shaming.

I guess this is what some people might call one of those “A-ha moments.”

So tomorrow I’m going to make time to sit down and make a menu plan for the following week that doesn’t include any dairy, gluten or high-glycemic food. The biggest thing I’m stumbling over right now is a replacement for the toast I usually eat with my tuna or egg salad for lunch during the week. I checked out crackers at the health food store today, but couldn’t find any that were both gluten free AND low glycemic. I may compromise and try some rye bread. I think when it comes down to either/or, low-glycemic should probably win out. At any rate, maybe Pinterest will show me some decent alternatives. If you have any recommendations, I’d love it if you shared them in the comments!

PCOS, goal interference, and reluctant diet changes

Last week was just a bad week. I have those from time to time, and I’m growing more accepting of that fact — and better at extending grace to myself — now that I’m past 40. Still, it’s really annoying to have stuff that needs to get done and lack the energy or mental clarity to do it. On the bright side, spending last week feeling vaguely ill has finally helped to convince/motivate me to get my diet back under control, since probably at least 99% of what was wrong with me could be traced to not eating healthy enough.

Seriously, I’ve been doing some research on my various chronic ailments and diet, and basically I’m not supposed to be eating any of the stuff I’ve been living on lately. I already knew that PCOS causes issues with insulin resistance and that I should be eating a low glycemic-index diet and not nearly so much bread (I’ve been eating a ton of bread, y’all) or sugar (hello, Halloween candy!). But apparently the fact that I have both PCOS and hypothyroid means it’s highly likely that I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease that’s been linked to gluten intolerance. Yet more reasons for me to avoid bread. Excuse me while I cry into my pumpkin spice flavored English muffin.

And then this short podcast offered compelling reasons why dairy is also horrible for anyone with PCOS. The gist of it is that any animal-based milk contains natural growth hormones that stimulate androgen production and make PCOS symptoms worse. Also, despite the fact that dairy is considered a low-glycemic source of protein, it actually causes blood sugar to spike about as much as bread or sugar.

So lately, this is what my diet has looked like: for breakfast, an English muffin with peanut butter and a glass of milk; for lunch, tuna salad with cottage cheese mixed in on two slices of toast; a cup of yogurt in the afternoon; and something involving meat, veggies and some form of cheese for dinner.

Can you see a few problems there? No wonder I feel like crap half the time.

Of course, this is the worst time of year to try and start a new healthy eating regimen, with Halloween and the holidays right around the corner. And I’m actually dealing somewhat better with the idea of cutting out bread and sugar than I am with giving up cheese. But I’m really tired of not feeling well and it would be nice to actually have the energy to go after my goals.

I like that the podcast I linked above pointed out that it’s not like I have celiac disease or anything, so the occasional indulgence won’t kill me. That’s good to remember, because so many of my favorite things have either gluten or dairy or both. Off the top of my head, that list includes pizza, egg rolls, cookies, breakfast toast, beer, grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream. Sure, there are gluten-free alternatives to all that stuff, but it tends to cost twice as much and often tastes half as good as the real thing.

At any rate, I’m going to need to do some more researching and planning on all of this. If you follow me on Pinterest, don’t be surprised to see an influx of PCOS and health food related pins showing up on your home page.

I think I’m having a thought. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s a thought. Now I’m having a plan…

This has been a terribly off week. Despite a lovely, restful, craft-filled weekend, on Monday I woke up with a stomach ache and barely any energy, and my condition didn’t improve much throughout the day. Yesterday I felt better, but we needed to make a Target run in the morning, which threw off my routine, and by 4 PM my wrist was throbbing from tendonitis and I had to log off to let it rest.

I went to bed early last night, hoping for a good night’s sleep that would let me hit the ground running today and make up for the lost productivity of the last two days, but then I woke up around three o’clock this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep until almost six, only to be woken up again shortly after seven by my dog, who didn’t care about my sleep deprivation nearly as much as he cared about being fed and let out to pee.

So I’m a little on the zombified side today, and will most certainly require a nap before I even attempt any of my freelance work. Needless to say, it hasn’t been a good week for making progress on my fiction, although I did at least add quite a bit to the PANIC outline on Saturday.

One good thing, though — after I shut everything down yesterday afternoon, I decided to go for a walk. That isn’t the good part, although I did need the exercise.

I had a lot more written here about my freelancing journey over the years, but I was getting into overshare and way too much thinking out loud, so here’s the TL;DR version: I’ve been doing some soul-searching about what I really want to be doing for a day job (until my writing can become my day job), as opposed to basing my whole business model on “what can I do that people will give me money for?”

At the end of the day, the answer to that is that I want to take all of the knowledge and experience in writing and editing, web & graphic design, social media, marketing and branding, etc. that I’ve accumulated over the last several years and focus it all on helping other self-published authors succeed.

So the good thing that happened is that during yesterday’s walk I came up with some good ideas on how to go about doing that, as well as some inspiration for branding and promoting this new venture. So that’s going to add a whole lot of stuff to my To Do list that will probably take a while to bring to fruition, but even so, it’s nice to have a goal and a direction for my freelance biz beyond “what can I get people to pay me to do for them this week?”

And that, to me, is very exciting. Or at least it will be after I have my nap.

The craft room is finished! And the RESTLESS SPIRITS sequel is begun! Sort of.

Well, my friends, the cat room is a craft room once again.

I spent yesterday first sorting through my yarn and then emptying out the walk-in closet. The good news re: the yarn is that I had it stored in four different bags, only one of which got peed on, so the majority of my stash was just fine. The tee-shirt stash fared worse, but it still wasn’t as bad as I expected. Everything pee-scented went into the washer to soak overnight in vinegar and laundry soap (the yarn first went into pillow cases), and then this morning I ran that cycle, then ran it again with baking soda. After that, the shirts went in the dryer and the yarn went out on the back lawn to dry in the sun. The yarn is still drying outside, but the shirts passed the sniff-test, and are now folded and put away where those jerks sweet kitties can’t get to them.

As for the kitties, they’re much happier, and reluctant to leave the room, which is kind of nice. I fixed up the closet for them with their litter boxes and crates and plenty of places to hide and sleep and climb. Nibblet’s loving it, but so far Boudica prefers the top of what’s now the yarn and tee-shirt cabinet, a.k.a. my only work surface. I laid a fleece blanket up there for her to collect cat hair and protect the surface from her claws, and I can just move the blanket (and her) when I’m ready to get my craft on, so no big.

The only thing that’s missing in there is a good work surface. There’s a small table, but that’s wobbly, and the previously mentioned cabinet, but that’s not a large surface and it’s tall enough that I’ll have to stand. It’ll do for now, but some day I’d like to get a dedicated sewing table. A comfy chair for sitting and knitting would also be great. We’ve got an old rocking chair in there, but it’s not that comfortable, and I’d like to consign it to the back porch eventually.

I’m terrible about remembering to take pictures. If you want to see some, I’ll post some to my Instagram later.

I was hoping to be able to include a word count on the new novel in this post, but I’ve been kind of distracted all morning and couldn’t get my head in the right place for it. I guess I need to spend some time cleaning something else to give my brain a chance to develop the scene. Good thing I’m ready to straighten up the living room and bring out the fall decorations. Yes, I know it’s not technically fall yet, but the weather’s supposed to cool off later this week, and that’s good enough for me.

One thing I did do, though, writing-wise, is jotted down some notes on a proper sequel to Restless Spirits.  People have been bugging me (in the good way) about a sequel for years now, but I just haven’t been able to come up with the right story to justify one. But yesterday I streamed a few episodes of My Ghost Story while sorting through and detangling my yarn stash, and apparently these true haunting and paranormal investigator shows are my muse when it comes to this series (I guess it’s a series now), because something finally clicked. Now it’s going to be hard to make my brain focus on the Satanic Panic story instead of this. I wonder how insane I’d have to be to attempt writing two novels at once. We might be about to find out.

An Upate on Life

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks as we’ve been dealing with some health issues that my husband’s been having, running around juggling doctors’ appointments and deadlines. He’s on the mend now, and yesterday was a badly needed do-nothing day for us both. Today’s only slightly more productive as we make the house presentable for some company we’re having tonight, but it’s not like we’re deep cleaning anything. We’re both too pooped.

The capper on a perfectly stressful week? The screen on my laptop gave up the ghost Sunday morning. I have no idea when we’re going to be able to get that replaced. Probably not any time soon. We’re just going to have to make do with sharing the desktop for the time being, which is sure to cut way down on my extra-curricular Internet time, not to mention making finding the time to write fiction even more of a challenge than it already was. I think I might be able to get my laptop to work if I plug a monitor in it, but for now I don’t have the energy to dig back behind the desktop’s tower to find the monitor chord so I can test that theory. Plus, a new monitor’s not in the budget right now any more than a new computer.

Thankfully, all of my most important files were either stored in the cloud or in my public drive, so I can still get to them. The problem is, all of my graphic design software is on the laptop, and so is Scrivener, the program I use to write all my fiction and create my e-books. I guess I’m going to have to do some maintenance and clean up some memory on the desktop so I can install those programs here.

The laptop was also pretty much functioning as our TV, so… that sucks. Not that we don’t have an actual TV, but with no cable or satellite, or DVR, we relied a lot on Internet streaming to keep up with our shows. We can still watch them back here in the office, I guess. It just won’t be nearly as comfortable as snuggling up on the sofa with the laptop.

…and we’re back!

Thanks to a muchly appreciated last-minute rescue, the domain is saved! So I don’t have to move this or my freelance writing site or anything else. Yay!

While the site was down, I had a free Kindle giveaway of Restless Spirits that went swimmingly. It stayed at Number 1 Free in the Ghosts and Haunted Houses category for the full five-day run, was downloaded in multiple countries, and gave me a nice little boost in sales. It seems that the best way to keep sales steady is to do a sale or giveaway every six weeks or so, which judging from my Dominion giveaway is about how long it takes for the boost to run its course.

Hopefully, my next event six weeks from now will be to finally release that horror short collection I’ve been working on, if I can manage to make time to finish this last story I want to include. More on that later.

Page 2 of 39

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén