The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: homesteading

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: Disappointment, Made Better by Sunshine

Remember those exciting decisions we made a few weeks back that I was looking forward to revealing this week?

Welp, things didn’t go as planned. But when do they ever, really?

Our first decision was to get some chickens. More specifically, we decided to put in an order for 15 buff orpington chicks (14 laying hens and one rooster), which were to arrive this week.  We placed the order and then went out and got everything we needed to raise them, and were all set to receive them this week. Instead, we received a notice that the USPS extended last week’s weather-induced embargo on live animal shipping to the end of this week, in order to let them catch up on undelivered mail.

So now we won’t be getting our chicks until April. Which means no eggs until next fall at the earliest. Le sigh.

On the plus side, this gives us more time to figure out our chicken coop/tractor design and what we’re going to do about predators, and also now we won’t have to house juvenile chickens inside until it’s warm enough to put them outside.

So that’s one disappointment. And that decision had led to our second decision, which was to be our solution to the predator problem: getting a livestock guardian dog. You guys, we had decided to get a puppy. Specifically, we were all set to get an Anatolian shepherd puppy.

But for a variety of reasons, that also ended up falling through. There were just too many obstacles that kept cropping up that ultimately convinced us that it’s not the right time yet, and also that perhaps that’s not the right breed. And while I can see now that it’s for the best that things didn’t work out, I was pretty torn up about it when it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen.

Not that we won’t be getting another dog, or perhaps even a puppy, at some point. We’re keeping an eye on the local shelters for something suitable, and we haven’t completely ruled out an Anatolian when another one becomes available. But it won’t be that sweet girl that we had our eye on and were all ready to bring home, and I’m sad about that.

Also, today marks three months since Pete’s passing, so there are mixed emotions. We still miss the heck out of him and, truth be told, we aren’t quite ready to move on to a new pup just yet. We’re trusting in God’s timing and praying that he’ll lead us to the right dog at the right time. He’s got an excellent track record of bringing us excellent dogs at just the right time, so we just need to be patient and trust that he’ll do it again.

Besides, Boudicca is enjoying the heck out of being an only furbaby for the time being. She’s getting spoiled rotten.

So it’s been a week full of disappointment, but there’s been cause for rejoicing, too. The weather thawed out, the last two days have been spring-like and full of sunshine, we got our well fixed and our water restored yesterday, and today I took my first shower in *mumblety* days.

In lieu of all the animal wrangling we thought we’d be doing this week, we’ve been cleaning and organizing, and I’ve been busy marketing myself and reaching out to potential clients. I’m still waiting for my newest client to start sending me work, and in the mean time I’ve been posting articles from my old freelance writing Substack to my Medium account. I finally signed up to the Medium Partner’s Program, which means my stories earn a little bit of money when paying members read them, so if you’ve got a paid Medium membership, spending some time reading my recent articles is an easy way you could help us out while we wait for new work to start coming in.

So is buying my books, if any of them look good to you. Most of them are also available on Overdrive through your local library (did you know indie authors get paid when you check out their books through the library? The more you know…).

Of course, we’re both also always grateful to be supported through prayer.

Maybe it’s just the weather turning that’s making me optimistic, but I have a feeling things are going to get back on track and start going our way again soon. I hope. At any rate, barring any other unforeseen catastrophes, I can look forward to getting fluffy baby chickens for my birthday, and there still may be a puppy in our near future. And we need to get busy starting seeds and getting our garden beds ready for spring planting. And I’ve still got a novel to finish. So it’s not like there’s not plenty to keep us busy while we wait for things to work out.

How are you faring in the aftermath of Winterpocalypse ’21? Are you recovering, or are you still dealing with yuck? And how can I pray for you?

Coffee Talk: Novel Progress, Job Hunt Progress, and Secrets Brewin’ Around the Homestead

Since these updates are coming more randomly now, let’s try a new title.

Wow, you guys, last week was kind of a crazy one, and this week also got off to an unexpected start.  I can’t tell y’all too much about it — or rather, I don’t want to just yet — but I can say that decisions were made regarding the ol’ homestead that left us neck-deep in research and that are going to make our lives here at the Bauhaushold a little topsey turvey for a while. What those decisions were, I’m going to leave for a surprise. Suffice to say, we’ve got a lot to do in the coming weeks to get ready.

really wish I could tell you where we went and what we did yesterday, but that would spoil the best surprise. I’ll be sure to “circle back” to it when the time is right. I can tell you that it involved getting to know some more good people from our area and spending more than an hour outdoors in the freezing drizzle with an insufficient number of layers, and that when we got back I was slightly damp, covered in hair, and I couldn’t feel my feet. But I was also very excited about the future.

We had planned to get busy this week with some of our preparations, but full-on winter weather kicked in here and it looks like it’s going to be hanging around a while. So I’m trying to take advantage of being stuck indoors to make some progress on the writing and freelance job hunting front. As far as the latter goes, I’ve got some great news! I’ve been invited to join the content team for Care Credit, so they should start sending work my way soon.

So with one new steady corporate client secured, the goals I’m focusing on now are to find one or two more clients of that caliber, and to break into writing for trade magazines. To that end, one thing I actually managed to get done last week was set up this landing page for my services.

As far as the novel goes, I’m making progress in small bites, committed to working on it at least twenty minutes a day. I know that sounds short, but I can usually do a couple of pages in that length of time. In those short but consistent bursts of time, I finished the epilogue and then went back and finished the big scene I’d left off on. Now I’ve just got several short, action-packed scenes leading up to the final confrontation.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this I realized a few things. One is that I’m not wired to be a fast and prolific novelist, and I’m okay with that. Also, that I enjoy novel writing so much more when I’m not putting pressure on it to become my primary career. I labored for years thinking that was The Dream, and being constantly frustrated and disappointed at that not working out.

But these days, my dreams are looking a lot more like making a living doing tangible things that involve working with my hands in the real world, far from a keyboard, and I’m growing more and more at ease with the idea of my novel writing being a side gig, something I do mostly for fun and relaxation with the added benefit of bringing in a little extra income each month.

And the third thing I realized is that I’m happiest when my life is full and I have a variety of things to do. I think by now, as I edge ever closer to the end of my fourth decade, I know myself well enough to know that even if I was making a full-time living from my novels, I still wouldn’t want to do that all day and I would still need some variety in my life. There are a number of labels for this — scanner personality, multi-passionate, renaissance soul, ADD — and I’m learning to embrace it. An that’s sure making my life a lot more enjoyable than fighting it.

See also: learning to let go, go with the flow, be flexible, and trust in God’s timing, doing what I can each day and trusting Him for the rest.

Anyway, I can’t wait to reveal the things we’re getting ready for. One of them will be here in a couple of weeks, Lord willing, but we’re going to have to wait more than a month for the second thing, and that’s going to be the hardest secret to keep. So stay tuned (but feel free to guess what they might be). In the meantime, I’ll continue to get writing things done in between all the preparations.

Friday Update

Friday Update: Homestead Chores, Catnip and Freelance Writing Goals

Welp, this was not a good week for the novel. Today was a warmish and pretty day, so I scrapped all my writing plans for today and we went outside and “did the things” around the homestead. Said things included some minor repairs around the property, and gathering materials for what will eventually be our garden beds.

It also included discovering catnip! I’ve long suspected that the weed growing underneath our pole barn might be just that, based on the way our tabby, Boudicca, goes nuts every time I walk through it and track some in on my shoes, but I kept forgetting to check and make sure. Today I remembered, and sure enough, it’s catnip.

I picked a bunch to dry and, after rinsing it, gave her a tiny nibble — and created a monster. I had to hide the rest of it to keep it away from her until she calmed down. But I’ve been meaning to get some decent quality catnip to put inside the kick pillow I made for her a while back, so once this stuff dries out that’s where it’s headed, and she’ll be happy again.

I also discovered that I’m out of shape. I haven’t been walking since winter started, and I’m going to have to make myself get out there and start doing that again, as the weather permits. I know it’s so much better for my mood and my health once I get over the hurdle of going out in the cold.

As far as the work search goes, this week was mostly about laying ground work and coming up with a solid plan. I updated my long-neglected portfolios and reworked my bio to take the emphasis off of pet writing. I did send out a letter of introduction and a query letter, both of which I’m still waiting to hear back on, and I wrote and submitted an article on spec, which was promptly rejected, with helpful feedback. I appreciate both the feedback and the promptness, and now that article will find a home on Medium, if I don’t decide to shop it around a bit more first.

As far as the game plan, I will bore you with the details, because it’s my blog and I can, but you don’t have to stick around if you don’t want to.

I’ve set four goals to focus on: one, to find two or three more steady corporate/big brand clients; two, to broaden out my niches to include business-to-business writing, as well as content writing in the areas of personal finance, health and nutrition for humans, and writing and freelancing; three, to pursue ghostwriting, something I’ve kicked around in the past but have never gone after full bore; and four, to expand my pet writing niche to pet trade magazines.

My first goal is primary, and if I can manage to replace my previous corporate clients, then I can pretty much stop there, because that will supply all the work I need, although this time around I’ll also keep pitching and writing in other niches to keep some diversity in my portfolio and bring in extra income.

At any rate, until I get some steady work coming in, my plan is to spend an afternoon each day of the week on a single goal– corporate on Monday, pitching in other niches on Tuesday, networking in ghostwriting circles on Wednesday, and researching and pitching trade mags on Thursday. And then setting Fridays aside for novel writing and book marketing.

So that’s the plan, and it’s helping everything to feel more manageable. That doesn’t cover everything, though. I still need to create some business writing samples, update my LinkedIn profile, and I’m debating on whether to just do a landing page on this site for my freelance work or set up a separate website. I was planning to do the former, but now I’m leaning toward the latter. I’ll take the weekend to think about it and let you know what I decide.

None of last weekend’s plans panned out — instead of watching our movie, husband and I ended up just talking while he made enchiladas, about which I have zero complaints, on either count. So maybe we’ll pick back up with the Ring Council tomorrow. All I know for sure is that I need a break from being on this laptop.

I hope you and yours have an excellent weekend!

New Mexico Dreamin’

New Mexico!My husband has had what you might call a “state-crush” on New Mexico for a while now. He has relatives there, and some fond memories of visiting them when he was growing up, and of how beautiful it is around the mountains there. He’s also a fan of Hatch peppers, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that those come from there. From time to time, he would talk about how great it would be if we could move there someday. I would nod and be like, “Sure, sweetie.”

A Safer Place: Planning To Bug Out Permanently

"little house on the prairie"In my last post where I outlined my 2012 preparedness goals, I mentioned my big hopes and dreams of acquiring some land at some point this year. With the state of our finances at the moment, this seems like an extremely remote possibility, and yet I can’t shake the sense of certainty and urgency telling me that we need to make this happen.

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