The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: #amwriting

Coffee Talk: More Chick Chat, WIP Progress and a Sneak Peek!

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

Coffee Talks are where I chat with you as though we were sitting down together over coffee, updating you on my life, my work, and what’s been on my mind lately. I’d love to hear what’s been going on with you, as well, so keep the conversation going in the comments!

Welp, another week, and still no conspiracy post. I swear, you guys. Maybe Somebody’s trying to tell me I shouldn’t post that thing and get myself in trouble. But between a batch of freelance assignments and the new chicks, there just wasn’t time. I don’t really have time for this post, either, so I’mma try to keep it short.

Sadly, we lost the tiniest of our tiny babies, the rest of whom are getting less tiny by the day. One of our little speckled Sussex (naturally, the breed of which they only sent us three of the five we ordered) struggled from the start, and seemed to be underdeveloped compared to the rest. We isolated her enough to let her get plenty of food and water without any competition, and rest from getting knocked around and run over, and she seemed to be growing stronger, enough so that we were getting our hopes up that she’d make it. But sadly, those hopes were dashed by noon on Tuesday when I found her lying on her side in the brooder, having passed away after a morning of fooling us into thinking she was doing well.

The rest of the chicks are doing great, though–healthy, strong and growing like weeds. They’re already flapping their wings and trying to reach the top of the tub, so we’ll have to transition them to the big brooding box soon. Their individual personalities are starting to come out, too. They’re so much fun. If someone had told us that chicks were this fun and therapeutic, we’d have gotten some a long time ago.

Click here to see them in action.

As I said up top, my freelance writing picked up this week, but that hasn’t interfered with writing my novel, which I dare say is going great. This morning I had to stop midway between the big (spoiler alert) showdown between Hannah and Esme, but there’s not much of that scene left to go, and then I just need to write the denouement, and then it will be finished, save for typing up and revising all these handwritten scenes. Barring some major life circumstance stealing all my energy and focus, I really think I’ll reach the end by next week.

Making myself write first thing in the morning (well, first thing after letting Dixie pee and then making coffee) is really making all the difference. And it’s having a trickle-down effect, too, revving me up for the day and making me more productive in other areas. I really hope I can keep this momentum going.

With that in mind, I’m rethinking my previously stated plans to take an extended writing break starting in November, and just continuing on in the early mornings with my next project (though I may take a week or so to write up some of the longer blog posts I’ve had in mind first) so I don’t lose that momentum and then have to spend a lot of my energy getting started again. I guess I’ll play it by ear, and if I feel like I need a break, or I just end up not writing, I won’t beat myself up about it and I’ll just take a dadgum break.

Although last weekend ended up being more hectic than I’d expected, what with wrangling with tech support over losing access to my website and having to seize the good weather to get out there and work on the chicken coop, I did manage to get some time to strategize the next phase of my writing career and plan out my future projects. Although the Mae Bishop urban fantasy series I started early last year is calling to me, I think first I’m going to turn my focus to my sweet romance series and spend some time building up that pen name — mainly because I think it will be more marketable and stand a better chance of generating some significant income.

But probably what I’ll end up doing is alternating between them, writing and releasing a Mae Bishop novela in between each of my sweet romance books, and keeping both of those series going as long as I can. And then maybe, hopefully, on the side I can work on one of my stand-alone YA passion projects that have been brewing in my brain for a good long time. As grateful as I am for my freelance writing work and the income it brings in, I really, really hope I can finally get a handle on making my books work for me and replace that freelance income with publishing revenue so I’ll have more time freed up to write all the stories in my head. And also to focus more on growing our little starter homestead into a full-fledged dairy and fiber farm.

All of this is quite the one-eighty from a couple of months ago when I was saying I didn’t even want to write or be an author anymore, isn’t it? If you’ll recall, I prayed a lot about that, asking God to restore that desire and drive if that’s what He really wanted me to be doing with my life, and, welp, here we are. I saw this quote the other day, which I posted on my author instagram, and I’ll share it here, because it’s been true of me pretty much my entire life.

Oh, and while I’m sharing things here that I shared on IG, here also is a little sneak peek at Revolution Part Two:

Okie-doke, I’ve still got an article to write, so I’d best get to it. I don’t know how my weekend will shape up, but if it doesn’t rain too much, I’m guessing it will involve more coop building (we’ve got three sides up! We just need to install the nesting box partitions and roosting poles, then we can put the front and roof on).

Talk to me, Goose. How are things with you? (Bonus points if you can name that movie.)

Coffee Talk: Baby Chicks Doo Doo Do Doo! Also, Revolution Progress and Writer Self-Discovery

Coffee Talks are where I chat with you as though we were sitting down together over coffee, updating you on my life, my work, and what’s been on my mind lately. I’d love to hear what’s been going on with you, as well, so keep the conversation going in the comments!

Note: I wrote this post on Friday, but lost connection to my web host right as I was ready to post it. So that’s why you’re getting a rare Saturday post, following a lot of back and forth with tech support to fix the issue.

Happy September! So it’s basically fall now and also already Halloween. Yes, yes, the equinox is still weeks away and temps are still in the high 80s and 90s, but that’s a minor detail. Bring on them pumpkins and candy!

(Also, just so you know, Christmas this year begins on November 1st, so you should probably prepare.)

And now for our big news: THE CHICKS ARE HERE YOU GUYS!!!

And I’m going to be spamming all my feeds with unsolicited chick pics from here on out, so be warned.

Thankfully, they only had to travel from Missouri, and the weather stayed nice and mild for their trip, and they all arrived safe and sound. We’ve got three Speckled Sussex and six each of Buff Orpingtons and Easter Eggers (aka Americaunas — they lay blue and green eggs). We actually ordered five of each, but they were short on Sussex and substituted one each of the other breeds, which is fine.

We also ordered all hens, but I’m hoping a rooster made it into the mix. With fifteen birds, we figured there was a good chance that might happen, so we didn’t order a roo. But I’ve read that it can be hard to get an established flock to accept a new rooster, and we would really like to breed them and have a sustainable flock, so I’m a little apprehensive about that decision, and crossing my fingers that at least one of our new babies is a boy.

For now we’ve set up a brooder for them in our master bathtub, one of those extra-wide and deep garden tubs that come standard in double-wides that we never use. It’s working great. When they outgrow that we’ll move them out to a transitional brooder in the warehouse until they’re big enough for the coop–which we’ve now got a definite deadline to finish building.

Oh! I got so excited about the chicks that I forgot to mention that Mr. B. and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this week. The chicks were something of an anniversary present for us both. I shared on my personal Instagram about what I’ve learned in all these years about keeping a marriage strong — you can read that here.

Moving on to writing news, I’ve found my groove again, and the last half of Revolution is chugging along. This week was the first week in I can’t even remember how long that I’ve written every day. I switched things up by going to pen and paper and also shifting things around so I can write first thing in the morning, and those two simple changes have made all the difference. This morning I brainstormed and plotted out the remaining scenes, which are four in number. The end is so very nigh, y’all!

I’d love to finish it next week, but even if I don’t, I’m on track to finish it this month. I would also love to release it in time for Halloween, and since I’ve been editing as I go, I think that might actually be a realistic goal. I’ve already got the cover ready so all I’ll have to do is format it, which is mostly a matter of pasting it into a template, and then proofread, and then it’s done! Yay!

Speaking of figuring out what works for me, this week I discovered The Quitcast by Becca Syme. Well, “discovered” isn’t really the right word, because Becca’s been on my radar for over a year now. But I finally got around to checking out her podcast, and now I’m kicking myself for not doing so a year ago. She’s a writing and self-publishing coach who centers everything around the Clifton Strengthsfinder, which is less of a personality test and more of a strength and aptitude test that’s based on actual science, and can tell you a lot about how your brain is wired.

I’ve taken the test before, some time ago when it was free, which is no longer the case. Out of curiosity, I took this free knockoff earlier this week, and my top five matched my Strengthsfinder results, which are Strategy, Empathy, Ideation, Intellection and Belief (Communication, Relator, Futuristic, Context and Consistency round out my top 10). Becca helps put all that information into the context of what it means for you as a writer, how you function, why writing advice does or doesn’t work for you, how to figure out what actually does work for the way you’re wired, etc.

While I’m sure her coaching delves a lot deeper into figuring these things out on an individual basis, her podcast has been giving me a lot of insights into my own writing habits, successes and failings. And while it hasn’t exactly taught me anything about myself I wasn’t already aware of, it has helped me come to terms with and accept that there are things about the way I operate as a writer that are never going to change. I’m never going to be the kind of writer that churns out several novels a year, and I’m only going to burn myself out if I try to work at that pace. I need LOTS of time and space to think and process, and I need a lot of time between big projects to recover my energy.

It’s also helped me understand that, as someone who has a high degree of empathy and is also future-focused and doesn’t cope well with uncertainty, these crazy times we’re living in are extremely draining for me. I’m spending tons of energy just coping with the way the world is right now, and that’s why I’ve been so ridiculously tired lately and why it’s been such a struggle to find the mental energy and the will to write. So that’s helpful. I think that’s why moving my writing to first thing in the morning, before I get on social media or get exposed to any news, has made such a big difference. And I’m going to spend the weekend thinking about ways to protect my energy from all the insanity and stress without entirely sticking my head in the sand.

Another thing it’s helped me realize is that I’m prone to magical thinking about the future–thinking things like, “Okay, that didn’t work, but next time will be different”–and that I need to learn from the past and adapt my behavior accordingly. For starters, I’m going to accept the fact that I never get any novel writing done from about mid-November until January 2nd. And instead of making plans to start a new novel during that time and then beating myself up over neglecting it, this year I’m going to be intentional about taking a break from writing during those weeks, and instead focus on other tasks that I’m more likely to actually do. For one thing, I’ll focus on ways I can repackage my Dominion trilogy, since it will be done by then — like finally getting the paperbacks done and putting together an electronic boxed set. And I’m thinking that would also be a good chance to finally migrate my mailing list from Mailchimp to MailerLite and create a new series of autoresponders. I’ll probably take part in some giveaways, too. And already, just thinking about not having to worry about writing during the holidays and getting to focus on these things I’ve been putting off for so long is getting me jazzed about the season.

That might be too much of a look at how the sausage is made for your taste. But even so, I highly, highly recommend checking out Becca’s work and her YouTube channel. She’s got a series of books for writers, too that are going on my wishlist (that’s an affiliate link, btw — if you use that link to make an Amazon purchase I’ll receive a small commission at no cost to you, which I have to tell you because the FTC is extremely concerned that you don’t know how affiliate links work).

Before I sign off, I want to say one thing regarding current events. I think everyone who leans toward being apolitical or moderate or who prefers to stay out of the political debate has a threshold where they feel compelled to get off the fence and choose a side. While I haven’t exactly been moderate for a long time, I did generally avoid voicing my political opinions online for far too long. My threshold was crossed last year, and I found my voice and my courage to start using it to speak out against evil and stand up for righteousness and liberty.

I don’t know where your threshold is, friend. But if the recent actions of the current administration haven’t been enough to push you past your limit and compel you to choose a side, then I don’t know what it will take, and by the time you reach your limit, at this point, it might well be too late for it to make a difference. I’m not saying everybody’s got to start going to rallies or become keyboard activists. But if you haven’t already, now is a real good time to look around at what’s happening, at who is doing what, and make up your mind about where you stand, and what you stand for. Because in the immortal words of somebody famous and probably dead, “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”

And that’s all I’ll say about that in this space, although I’ve got plenty more to say in my personal Instagram stories if you’re interested.

And now, I’m going to sign off and start my weekend. I’m going to take a break from writing and let these last four scenes percolate in my head while I spend time with our new baby chicks and watch a scary movie or two.

Have you taken the Strengthsfinder (or something like it)? If so, what are your Top 5?

Oh, and PS – I’m still working on that conspiracy theory post, which is seeming more relevant by the day. Watch for that sometime next week!

Coffee Talk: So Winter. Much Brrr.

When I sat down last Sunday with my bullet journal to plan my week, I knew I was going to be dealing with a high degree of unpredictability. Instead of listing out my usual weekly to do list, I instead listed out a few goals that I hoped I’d be able to get around to, along with an overriding goal: “Be Flexible!”

That willingness to be flexible and hold my goals loosely turned out to be a real asset in a week full of misadventures that included (thankfully brief) power outages, learning to use our kerosene heater (which didn’t come with a manual), exploding Pyrex, 2 AM hikes through the snow in sub-zero temperatures, getting lunged at by our new neighbor’s cranky, arthritic old pit bull, not a lot of sleep, and becoming reliant on baby wipes and dry shampoo. But despite all of that, we were a lot better off this week than a lot of people, so I have no complaints.

By the way, I’m praying for you, Texas. ♥

I did manage to get around to a few of my goals this week, including pitching another potential client, updating my pet blog, posting some articles to my Medium account, and applying to write for a publication there. As for the pet blog, I wrote a detailed content marketing and SEO guide for pet businesses, but the advice applies to any type of business (and to writing for the internet in general), so if that’s something you might be able to use, be sure to check it out.

As for making progress on the novel, that didn’t happen this week. A general rule for me and the way I’m wired is that novel writing just doesn’t happen when I’m in survival mode, and this week was primarily about surviving with all of our digits and our sanity intact. There were some touch-and-go times when losing said sanity was a greater danger than frostbite, but we managed to keep it along with all our fingers and toes.

As I write this, it’s a balmy 30 degrees outside, and melting snow is dripping from the roof. We’re in for one more night of single-digit temps, and then it’s supposed to start thawing out tomorrow. To say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement. I’ll just say I’m so, so very glad to live where this sort of cold is an anomaly (and Lord willing it will stay that way) and, when it does happen, it’s usually short-lived. Somebody remind me that I said this when it’s 100 degrees in July and I’m tempted to complain about the southern humidity.

Next week is bound to be another week requiring a high degree of flexibility, for reasons pertaining to one of those decisions I mentioned last week (if not to both of them). Probably not a lot of writing will get done, but I’ll give it a valiant effort. Hopefully, though, you can look forward to a big reveal by this time next week.

How are you coping with this week (or was it business as usual where you live)?

Photo by Alex on Unsplash
Friday Update

Friday Update: Surviving Inauguration Day, Looking for Work, and Novel Progress, Such as it Is

Happy Friday, gang!

Regardless of your feelings about the new administration, can we all just breathe a big sigh of relief now that we’re on the other side of the inauguration and all of the media hysterics about violent protests turned out to be a big nothing burger? To say nothing of all of the Q-conspiracists’ talk about 4D chess and insurrection acts and EMP/cyber attacks and last minute military coups.

While I’d be lying if I said I’m optimistic about things, or that the unity they keep claiming they want is actually possible at this point, I do feel like a load’s been taken off now that we’ve had a peaceful transition.

On a related note, on Wednesday I posted an article about narcissistic projection that nobody seems to have read. Maybe because I gave it a bad title. At any rate, I’m mentioning it again because I think this is important information. So as long as you’re here, take a few minutes to give it a read.

I didn’t get a lot of writing done this week, mostly because I’ve been prioritizing prayer above everything else this week, and also we had a lot to get done around the house. I did finally take a few minutes this morning to add a few hundred words to the epilogue I started on Monday. Or rather, that I ended on Monday. Today I went back and wrote the beginning of it.

I haven’t been very organized with my time lately (if by “lately” you mean since this whole pandemic started ten months ago) and that really needs to change. This may be the last week I can realistically keep up with my daily blog challenge (I didn’t blog here yesterday, but I sent out a newsletter, and that counts). Last night, I learned that my only remaining steady writing client is going to be drastically reducing their assignment volume, so I’m going to have to start hustling to round up some new clients, and that’s going to keep me busy. Marketing and looking for new work is even more of a full-time job than having work. The silver lining in all of this is that it’s the kick in the pants I needed to finally break into business-to-business writing, which pays a lot better than the business-to-consumer content I’ve been writing these past seven or eight years. Say a prayer for me and wish me luck.

But with all that in mind, if I only have time for a little bit of writing on the side each day and it’s a choice between the blog or the novel, I’m going to prioritize the novel. I’m still going to aim for at least two or three updates here a week, though, so it’s not like I’m going away, just scaling back a bit.

So that’s been my week, in a nutshell. My weekend plans include avoiding the news and watching another hour or two of Fellowship (it’s the extended edition, in case you haven’t guessed–last time we left off right as the members of the Fellowship arrived for Elrond’s council meeting) and brushing up on my article pitching knowledge. Oh, and maybe also taking down the Christmas decorations. I was determined to leave it up all winter as a symbol of defiant hope, but we need to clear some space and so we need to pack it all up and put it in storage to make some room for a couple of projects.

It’s going to be sad to take it down, though, not the least of which is because Pete was still with us when we put it all up. Putting it all away is going to make his passing seem all the more final. I really miss my dog, y’all. It’ll be two whole months on Sunday and we’re both still struggling to adjust to his absence.

I hope everyone reading this has a blessed and restful weekend. ♥

Revolution: Dominion of the Damned by Jean Marie Bauhaus

October Surprise

I have to admit, I had some doubts we’d get this far into the year, but we made it to October, y’all. And there was much rejoicing.

And much pumpkin-flavored confection consuming. This morning, to celebrate, I had Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice coffee in my Boo mug, and my husband broke into the Halloween candy and we both enjoyed a Reese’s pumpkin.

The “surprise” is that I’m bringing back the blog. I said in the final issue of my weekly newsletter that I probably would eventually, so it’s not really that much of a surprise. But here we are. We’re going to keep it casual, not sticking to a schedule, posting when I’m inspired and/or have time. History has borne out that this won’t work any other way. So be sure to subscribe if you actually enjoy my occasional ramblings.

So what’s up? For starters, yesterday I put the finishing touches on Revolution Part One: Survival of the Fittest and uploaded it to KDP, so it’s all set to release on October 11 as promised. There’s still time to pre-order it for 99 cents — and if you already pre-ordered it at a higher price, don’t worry. You’ll be charged the lower price when the book ships to your Kindle.

The onset of fall has brought with it two developments that are highly conducive to getting writing done: one, the end of my better half and I having to mow and weed-eat this property like it’s our part-time job (which, it kind of is), and two, the return of my creative energy. So now I’m back in WRITE ALL THE THINGS! mode and the challenge is to not take on too many projects at once and spread myself too thin.

I’ve started another blog to promote my freelance pet writing (and also to hopefully serve as a source of passive affiliate income), but I have no plans of treating that like a job. It’s primary goal is to GET me jobs, not BE my job.

I’ve also started another secret side project that I’m having a lot of fun with and that is restoring the joy of writing. My main priority now that Rev. Part 1 is off my plate is to finish and publish Rev. Part 2 as soon as possible, but here’s the thing: I’ve realized that, in our current national and global predicament, the last thing I want to do is spend my time mucking about in a post-apocalyptic landscape. This side project is turning out to be just the antidote for that. It’s lighthearted and wholesome and fun, and my plan is to reward myself by spending time on that after I’ve put in my word quota on Rev 2 for the day.

I’m sorry, I know I’m kind of a jerk for being cagey about this other project, but I have good reasons. All I’ll say is that if sweet romance is your jam, leave a comment or drop me a line and I’ll add you to a list of people I’ll reveal this project to once it’s further along in development. But ONLY if you actually read sweet romance. The reason I’m being secretive is because I plan to keep a HARD line of separation between these brands so as not to confuse the Amazon algorithms.

Relatedly, watch this space for a future post about how rushing in to support the authors in your life by buying their books even if you don’t normally read those genres can actually do more harm than good (and don’t feel bad if this is you — this is something I’ve only recently discovered myself). And I’m not even sure if this is true about all booksellers, but it definitely applies to Amazon.

In other news, our Chihuahua, Pete, is hanging in there. We started him on a new drug that’s keeping him stable, for the most part. He’s definitely slowing down, but he’s still got some pep and plenty of zest for life. Hopefully he’ll stay that way for a good long while yet.

Now that you’ve been sufficiently updated on my writing life, I’m going to sign off and get to work on those novel projects. Hopefully it’s as beautiful outside today wherever you are as it is here, and hopefully, both you and I will get some time to get out and enjoy it.

Happy October!!!

Salvation of the Damned is finished and coming soon to a Kindle near you!

So this weekend (around 5PM on Saturday, to be somewhat more precise), this happened:

And there was so very much rejoicing.

The final word count came in at just under 72K, which is shorter than I thought it would be, but it took a turn toward the end that I think is much better than what I’d originally planned (note: just because you outline doesn’t mean your books won’t surprise you), and it felt right to end it where I did, with enough resolution to tide the reader over while leaving plenty to anticipate for Book 3.

But it still has to go through revisions, and while there’s no doubt some stuff will get cut, there’s also a good chance some stuff will get added, so who knows what the final word count will be.

Although I’d originally hoped to have it ready in time for Halloween, in order to leave plenty of time for proper editing, the release date is getting pushed back to December. But considering last week was July 4th and it’s already Labor Day and Halloween is practically next Tuesday, December will be here before we know what hit us.

In the mean time, there’s still plenty of time to read Book One, Dominion of the Damned, during its limited free run on Wattpad, and to get your friends hooked on this series!

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