The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

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Happy Halloween! Here are some link treats.

Happy Halloween!

It’s finally here! I still need to clean up our front walk and string up a giant yarn spider web on the front porch before popping out to pick up some last minute ingredients for Matt’s Halloween menu. Then it’ll be time to slaughter some pumpkins and kick off our festivities. Here’s wishing everyone a fun and safe Halloween. Here are some links to help you while away the hours until sundown.

And before I forget, congratulations to the winners of our Midnight Snacks/Dead Ends giveaway, which officially closed for entries last night. It turns out everyone who entered is a winner! You’ll be receiving notification and your free books soon, so watch your e-mail!

Now for the links…

  • I’ve been working a ghost-blogging gig for the Libib book app blog for a couple of months now, and my last several posts there have been Halloween-themed, including some last-minute costume ideas for book nerds and some of the nation’s most haunted libraries. Check them out!
  • Lex Wahl’s Anything Ghost podcast is always a special Halloween treat. He has a ton of real-life ghost stories and spooky encounters to share this year, so you’ll need to carve out a few hours to hear them all.
  • If you’re in more of a hurry to be scared, this short horror film, Lights Out, is completely terrifying and under three minutes.
  • Finally, this Horror Movie Kid Daycare video from College Humor is definitely worth a few minutes of your time (and an excellent antidote if the above video left you too petrified to get on with your day).

 

101 in 1001

101 in 1001In lieu of traditional resolutions this year, I’ve decided to put together a list of 101 things to accomplish in 1001 days. This is not an official 101 in 1001, partly because I’m not strictly adhering to the official rules, and partly because I don’t plan to track them publicly through the community website (although I will post updates and progress reports here). If you’d like more info on the official 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge, you can click here.

My version is mostly made up of things that need to get done that I keep putting off, although I didn’t completely neglect fun and personal growth. There are also a few goals that are about obtaining things rather than accomplishing tasks, but these are things that we need and/or will help accomplish some of the tasks on the list. Also, several things on the list won’t be doable unless/until our income picks back up, but with two and three-quarter years to get it done, I’m going to be optimistic.

So without further ado…

2013: Blessing In Disguise

I’m not going to beat around the bush: 2013 was not a good year. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say it had very little to offer in the way of high points and was filled with a lot of very low lows. Low-lights include losing one of my uncles and one of our cats, substantial freelance income loss and a whole lot of stress and frustration.

There was also a lot of blaming myself and beating myself up, feeling completely helpless and useless, and wondering why God was punishing us. What can I say? It’s hard to think healthy and helpful thoughts when you’re standing knee-deep in the doo. 

Joy and Peace Come to You

Isaiah9-6

 

We’ll be having a quiet, homemade Christmas at home, just the two of us and our pets and more food than two people should eat, relaxing in our jammies and watching Christmas movies (…what do you mean, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard aren’t Christmas movies?).

In the meantime, I invite you to listen to this special Christmas message from our pastor (MP3). It contains some new insight into the circumstances surrounding Christ’s birth that kind of blew my mind.

Here’s hoping you and yours have an equally peaceful and satisfying Christmas!

28 Frugal and Natural DIY Holiday Ideas (Link Roundup)

28 DIY Holiday IdeasIf you’re anything like me, you’ve grown weary of the rampant materialism of the Christmas season. You might also not have a lot to spend, so you couldn’t participate even if you wanted to.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ideas and possibilities for giving meaningful gifts that don’t cost a lot to make and, in a lot of cases, make use of stuff you already have. Whether you’re looking for gifts for loved ones, ideas for expanding your Christmas decorations without expanding your budget, or even some relaxing gifts you can give yourself to maintain your sanity this season, I’ve been collecting links along these lines all year (thanks to Pinterest), and I’ve rounded them up to share with you. 

Being Thankful in Difficult Times

Phillipians 4: 4,6I’m not gonna lie: this has not been an easy year. We’ve experienced a lot of loss — extended family loss, pet loss, employment and income loss — and not a lot of gain to make up for it. All of that grief and stress piled on like that can make it really difficult to be thankful, let alone to find the joy in each day. I confess, some days I cave in to thinking that it’s downright impossible.

But it’s not. Would my God command me to do something that isn’t possible? No, I don’t believe that He would.

The thing that I’m finally starting to figure out, though, is that, for me at least, it’s not possible apart from Him. I need help with it, and that’s okay. 

It’s a New Year, And That Means New Old Goals

Happy New Year!

We survived 2012, although I’ve got to admit, there were times when I thought a little wistfully about our supposed impending doom, because that would’ve been a great excuse to take a vacation. Between hauling hiney to get my book done and published before the end of the year, and then marketing it, and juggling all of that with both finding and doing freelance work, I was feeling pretty burned out by the end of the year.So it wasn’t too hard to force myself to take full advantage of the last two four-day weekends and recharge my batteries.

This last weekend was particularly restful. I stayed in, and caught up on sleep, and was totally lazy for most of it, and actually read a whole entire book just for fun (Cold Days, the lastest Dresden Files entry — it was good!). Then we spent yesterday the same way we’ve spent all New Year’s Days since we moved into this house — cleaning house and putting away Christmas decorations. Now I’m feeling quite a bit closer to normal and am actually able to think straight and have creative ideas and such once again, and I’m ready to tackle some goals for 2013.

Usually, before I set goals I spend a whole blog post reviewing the previous year. But there wasn’t a whole lot to 2012, really. I mean, on a national & historical scale, there was plenty. But on a personal scale, it was pretty uneventful. It wasn’t wholly without highlights, though: in addition to publishing my second novel, I also lost some more weight and made some brief forays back into Full Time Office Job territory, and got back into the practice of doing job interviews. Also, thanks to Un-Eff Your Habitat, I actually experienced having every room in my house clean at the same time, and even maintained that state for a while before everything became ridiculously hectic. Mostly, though, 2012 turned out to be one big hunt for paying work, which is boring, so that’s all I’ll say about that.

Looking ahead to the new year, instead of resolutions, I have some goals (yes, I’m one of those people), primary of which is to achieve some prosperity. We’re off to a good start, thanks to the fact that the Big Job/Gig Hunt of 2012 actually paid off, to the effect that here at the start of the year I have three steady, long-term freelance gigs and two short-term web dev projects, one of which could turn into a steady retainer. There’s also still the IT contract employment agency I signed on with back in November, although I have a feeling all of the positions they were considering me for are on hold until their client companies see what’s going to happen with this whole fiscal cliff thing. Honestly, this whole business is making me more thankful to be a freelancer than ever before, since I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’m going to lose my job in the next few weeks. And Matt has decided to take the semester off to work on his various business pursuits and help me with mine. So, we’re starting out the new year in a good place. Here’s hoping the work stays steady long enough to make some real headway.

Naturally, I have a weight-loss goal–I’m about five pounds away (according to my cheap bathroom scales, at any rate, so it’s probably more like 10 in reality) from achieving my ultimate goal weight, which will put me firmly in the middle of the healthy BMI range. So I’m going to focus on shedding those last several pounds, and also toning up and making my butt look unlike the butt of someone who sits at a computer all day. This will necessitate rebuilding my wardrobe, because everything in my closet will officially be one to three sizes too big, so that ties back into the first goal.

My other major goal for the new year is simply to keep making time to write, and to not let the hectic freelancing schedule deter me. I haven’t been writing lately — after scrambling to finish revising and polishing Dominion and then publicizing it to death, I needed a break. But I’m back in the saddle as of this morning, during which I wrote the next scene of Eucha Falls. I hope to finish that by next week. As for what I’ll write next, that’s not quite decided and it probably needs to be its own blog post, along with my publishing goals for the year.

I have smaller goals, too, which probably count more as resolutions: to get back into the UFYH habit, as mentioned above, although for the last six months I haven’t even had time to read that blog, let alone put any of it into practice; to make more leisure time for myself and spend it away from the Internet, doing things like going outside and reading books and playing my bass and actually making craft projects instead of just pinning them on Pinterest, to keep myself from getting so burned out again; and to take a real vacation this year, one where we actually leave the house, even if it’s just a long weekend camping at the lake.

Pretty much it all boils down to that I need to work on balancing things better this year, and on doing a better job of budgeting my time.

What about you guys? Did you have a good New Year’s weekend? Let’s hear about your big goals for 2013!

Friday Five – Thankfulness

I hope all of my readers here in the States had a happy Thanksgiving. I put so much food in my belly yesterday, I’m surprised I didn’t explode. I really thought I might at one point. Even though the holiday is over for another year and practically everyone I know has moved on to doing their Christmas shopping and putting up their trees and lights and whatnot, I thought I’d use my Friday Five to list a few of the many things for which I’m truly thankful.

1. My husband. We have our share of disagreements and times when we’re each just plain disagreeable, but the vast majority of the time, we truly enjoy each other’s company–which is a good thing, considering we both work at home and are up in each other’s business 24/7. But the rare times that we do spend apart, we miss each other and prefer to spend our time together. What can I say? He’s my best friend. We’ve traveled some really rocky ground together over the last few years, really testing out that whole “for worse” part, and it’s only made us closer and stronger. He always comes through for me, and I feel like I can face just about anything as long as I know he’s got my back. I love that man o’ mine, and I couldn’t be more grateful that he’s part of my life.

2. My mom. I’m so thankful that she’s here, and that she’s healthy, and I pray that she’ll stay that way for many, many more years. I’m thankful for all of our family and friends, and that each and every one of them is in relatively good health, and I’m thankful that everyone still lives close enough that we can gather together on the holidays.

3. My “frans” — my friends who are also fans of my work. They support me every way they can and help evangelize my work. They cheer me on and don’t let me get away with doubting myself or my abilities, something that I need way more often than I’d like to admit.

4. My dog. Of course I love all of our four-legged kids — we also have three cats and a box turtle — but our chihuahua, Pete, is such a little delight. His personality is about a hundred times bigger than his size, and he tends to be hilarious, not to mention so cute it hurts. In a lot of ways, he’s so childlike, and he goes a long way toward filling that particular void in our lives.

5. The talent God gave me. Without it… actually, if I didn’t have creative talent, I’d probably have an easier life. I would have made sure to get a practical degree in college, and I’d probably have a good job, and I’d put in my eight hours and then come home and watch TV or read and I’d be satisfied and so much less exhausted. And yet, I would still rather have the ability to spin stories out of whole cloth and write them down and occasionally have people tell me how my stories touched them, or made them just a little happier for a moment, or helped them through a rough patch. I am, quite honestly, terrible at speaking my thoughts, which makes me entirely grateful for the ability to write them down coherently. Also, having a writer’s imagination is a wonderful cure for boredom that I always have with me. So yes–I am tremendously thankful that God made me a writer.

What are you thankful for, dear reader? And did you have a good Thanksgiving?

Winning, Recovery and Other Odds & Ends

…or, “Where the *@%! Has Jean Been?!”

November was a heck of a month, y’all. As if NaNoWriMo wasn’t enough to keep me busy, about a week and a half into that my freelance business started to pick back up, and before I knew it I had more clients and projects than I knew what to do with. Not that I’m complaining. And then I got sick with the creeping crud, that annoying sickness that isn’t bad enough to give you a good excuse to curl up in bed and do nothing for a couple of days, but just bad enough to slow you down and make you miserable. I actually went about a week without writing anything for NaNoWriMo, because it was all I could do to keep up with my freelance workload before I ran out of steam and had to go fall into a Nyquil coma to get ready to do it all again the next day.

Which meant that I got to spend the last week of November writing my butt off. I almost didn’t bother. I came really close to dropping out of the race after that week I spent not writing. After all, by this point I had already finished my novel, and I still had another 25,000 words to go, and there it was Thanksgiving already. But CreateSpace would be giving the winners five free copies of their novels on top of a free proof, and I kept thinking of all of the promotions I could afford to do with five free paperback copies of Dominion at my disposal, and that was a big enough carrot to get me moving again. So somehow I managed to write another 25,000 words between Thanksgiving and November 30th and pull off a win. Don’t ask me how I did it because I don’t even know.

And yes, you read that right — I FINISHED Dominion of the Damned! Now I’m going to take the month of December off to let my brain recover and recharge while my husband and my BFF both give it a first read, then I’ll commence revisions in January. Allowing time for beta readers to read the second draft and another pass to fix any issues they come up with and take care of formatting, I’m hoping to have it available by March.

In the last few days since finishing Nano, I’ve been working on client projects and trying to catch up on sleep. My only big non-work-related goal right now is to clean my house and decorate it for Christmas. And continue catching up on sleep, because I’m not there yet.

How was your November? If you were doing NaNo, did you win? And how was your Thanksgiving?

Spooky Encounters: 320 South Boston

320 South Boston

Photo credit: the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.

In the run up to Halloween, I thought I’d share some of the spookier experiences I’ve had throughout my life. Apart from assuring you that I am not making this stuff up, these are submitted without comment — you can make up your own mind about what, exactly, it was that I encountered. Watch for more of these stories to appear over the weekend.

Back in the fall and winter of 2004-2005 I spent several months temping in this iconic downtown Tulsa building. It’s one of the oldest buildings downtown, built in 1917, and I believe it was considered Tulsa’s first skyscraper, although the tower section wasn’t added until 1929.

I was working for the building management office at the time, as a shared receptionist and operator for several different businesses in the building. If I recall correctly, the management’s headquarters were on the 9th floor (it might have been the 7th; either way, it was in the oldest part of the building), and they had a big office suite with a private lounge where I would often go to grab a nap on my lunch hour. Back by the lounge was a large private bathroom. The whole area was pretty secluded.

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