The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

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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: New Facebook, New Instagram, Novel & Coop Progress, and the Dangers of Making Plans

Photo by Mindspace Studio on Unsplash

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!

Let’s see. In my last Coffee Talk, I said I had a break from freelancing and made all kinds of personal writing and novel writing plans, didn’t I?

Reader, none of that happened.

Instead, the big client I signed on with last spring finally sent some work my way, which kept me busy for a solid two weeks. I’m not complaining and am in fact very grateful. But not a lot else got done in that time.

Well, not a lot… but not nothing, either. I launched a new Facebook Author Page, so please follow me there. I also revived my author Instagram account, partly because my personal account has gotten so heavy and serious and I need a space that’s just for fun. And I finished another chapter of Revelation Part 2. I think I’ve only got two chapters left to go. I wasn’t able to work on it at all last week, but later today I’m going to edit the new chapter and hopefully get a start on the next. I’m probably not going to finish it this month like I hoped, but I’m going to come very close.

Soon, y’all. Soon.

On the home front, we got the foundation of our chicken coop built. Or rather, Mr. B. did all the measuring and sawing and drilling while I held stuff. But it was a team effort. And now it just needs walls and a roof. And nesting boxes. And a place to roost. At any rate, it’s coming along. We put in an order for tiny baby chickies (eeee!), which are due to arrive mid September, so we’ve got some time yet.

Also, after being too busy for housework for two weeks, on Friday I sucked up five(!) Dyson canisters full of Dixie hair, and that’ll teach me to go that long without vacuuming again. Hashtag writinglife hashtag germanshepherdlife.

Speaking of Dixie, she’s not really growing like a weed anymore. At seven months I still expect her to grow a little more, but I think she’s getting close to her adult size. Here she is, sitting pretty (I had to bribe her with treats to get her to sit still for a few seconds):

As for what’s coming up, I hesitate to state any plans. A few weeks ago we watched the film Parasite, in which a character, rather cynically, warned his children against making plans. To loosely paraphrase, he said that plans always fail, so you’re better off never having a plan. I don’t know that I’d go that far, but he does have a point. I tend to do best when I take life one day at a time and hold my plans loosely, because rarely do things go according to plan.

I hope I’m going to finish my novel in the next few weeks, and get another long blog post up here later this week. But between the coop build, still needing to get our fall garden planted, it still being mowing season, and the unpredictability of my freelance work schedule, that’s about as ambitious as I’m ready to get right now on the writing front. In my ideal world, my books would take off and sell like hotcakes, I’d be able to retire from freelancing, and I’d blog here practically every day and probably have a podcast, too. But if wishes were horses, yada yada yada. Maybe someday. Until then, I novel 15 minutes at a time and blog when I can. Do what you can do, and leave the rest up to God.

Book talk: I gave up on Hero With a Thousand Faces. I probably would have appreciated it more when I was younger and more impressionable, but as much as the Hero’s Journey is a useful paradigm for storytelling, I mostly found the book to be a lot of secular-humanist pretension, especially in light of the Deuteronomy 32 worldview, and I was too irritated to continue. I’ll take Tolkien over Campbell any day. Ol’ J.R.R. knows what’s up.

I’m still reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes. I’d forgotten just how long those Outlander books are. Thank goodness for airplane mode on my Kindle that keeps the library from yanking it away after two weeks. I’m also wanting to re-read The Unseen Realm at some point, but that may wait until my novel’s finished.

Welp, I think we’re all caught up for now. Watch for a post here soon about conspiracy theories, if I don’t get led to write something else instead. Got a favorite conspiracy theory you’d like me to cover? Leave a request in the comments. Otherwise, how are things for you lately?

Coffee Talk: Life is Very Full and Very Mundane

Image by Tracia from Pixabay

I’ve been trying to write this post, or one like it, for two or three weeks now. Life has been so full and this is the first time in a while that my energy and focus are aligned with me actually having time to sit down and write an update. But even with everything going on, it’s all so mundane and ordinary that it hardly seems worth mentioning. Freelance work is continuing to come in, there’s lots and lots of mowing and weed-eating to be done, always, Dixie is still a lot of work, and I’m still trying to spend a good portion of my free time on focused Bible reading and study, or taking in good Bible teaching.

Last weekend we had our friends / pastor and his wife / landlady out and we all pitched in and got a lot of stuff done around the property, clearing a lot of limbs and cutting down the big pile we had set aside for our eventual hugelkultur garden. That right there was a huge help and a lot more progress in a much shorter amount of time than we could’ve made on our own. It was also nice to have some visitors and a chance to be social. It had been a good long while.

In other news on the homefront, we’re still trying to figure out our chicken situation. Our next-door neighbors got a small flock a month or two ago that they were allowing to free-range, a lot of which they were doing on our property, but then they shut them up after we found an egg in our barn and returned it to them. Now I miss seeing chickens everywhere. Hopefully we’ll get our coop built soon and get some chickens of our own.

Speaking of Dixie, she’ll turn six months old on Tuesday. She’s still a handful, but not as much as she used to be. We haven’t weighed her in a while, but I’m sure she’s over 50 pounds — small for a full-grown German shepherd, but awfully big for a puppy. I still have moments every day where I’m just like, I can’t believe this is our dog now. She’s got all her adult teeth in, which means instead of slicing and dicing our hands up, she now just bruises them with her bone-crushing jaws. Apparently GSDs don’t need to be trained to go for the arms and hands; it’s just a natural-born instinct. At any rate, she’s calmed down some, though she still seems to be dialed up to 11 most of the time, and she’s becoming more affectionate and obedient and growing up into a good dog. She’s still got a long way to go, but she’s already come a long way. There’s a lot about this age that’s fun, and we’re trying to enjoy it, but at the same time we can’t wait until she’s a couple of years old and calms the heck down.

She’s very difficult to photograph. But she sure is purdy.

Apart from all of that, not much has been going on. I’ve talked here before about how I struggle to have any desire to work on my fiction or continue to be an author, and the struggle is real. I’ve started praying about that, and I’m trying to get my head back in that space. This morning I transferred everything I had written on Revolution Part 2 from my AlphaSmart into Scrivener so I can just start editing. That’s my plan for now — to just spend a little bit of time each day editing what I’ve got so far and get my head back into that story. And then I can finally write the last few scenes (seriously, I’m so close to the end it’s ridiculous that any of this is hard for me) without so much editing work hanging over my head and making me feel overwhelmed and avoidy.

As inactive as I’ve been here, I’ve actually been a lot more active on my Instagram, especially in my stories, where I’m more apt to get a bit political and salty with my opinions. I’ve also been preaching a lot in that space. I’m still planning to do a big post here about how I’ve evolved spiritually over the past year or so, and I’m also still kicking around a couple of podcast ideas. It’s all a matter of finding time that coincides with having energy and focus. Really, though, I need to be a better steward of both my time and my energy, and maybe not spend so much time on Instagram, and definitely stop perusing headlines and going down conspiracy theory rabbit holes. Although that’s what one of my podcast ideas is about, so I’m not sure how that will work.

If you follow my Facebook page, you should know that it’s been hacked, and both Mr. B and I were booted from having administrative access. Facebook is no help at all — they literally said there’s nothing they can do. So if you follow me there, you should go ahead and unlike and unfollow that page. I’ll be getting a new page up and running at some point, but in the meantime you can follow my personal profile for updates. I try not to get on Facebook too often, though, so don’t expect me to suddenly become active there. I’m not too upset about it, because most of that page’s followers are people who know me IRL and just wanted to support me, which is appreciated but is actually no help at all when trying to figure out the demographics of my actual readership. So it’s good that I’ve got a reason to start over with a fresh page.

Oh! I’ve also been wanting to tell y’all about our latest escape. We generally try to avoid anything that’s coming out of Hollywood these days, so lately we’ve been watching a lot of anime. I know we’re woefully behind on this and if any of you reading this are anime fans you’re probably way ahead of us, but we’ve fallen completely in love with One Punch Man. At first glance I thought it was basically a Japanese version of The Tick, straight-up superhero satire, but it only took a few episodes to realize there’s a lot more going on. This show has a lot of heart and a lot to say about themes of heroism and character, and it does it all with humor and charm.

My reading lately has all been theological stuff, and I’m hoping to post some reviews at some point. I’m thinking I need to make some space for fiction to help get my head back in that space. I tried to get through an audiobook of Brave New World, but it was too disturbing and hit too close to home. I finally got my login issues with Libby and Overdrive straightened out, so maybe I can find something fun to read.

That’s about it for now, but keep the conversation going! Share your thoughts and tell me what you’re up to, and what you’re reading and/or watching in the comments.

And have a great weekend!

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Check out My New Site — Same as the Old Site (A Quick Coffee Talk)

Welp, I’ve successfully transitioned to my new web host. I kept it simple and kept the same theme, so everything mostly looks the same, which I realize is very boring and unexciting from your end, but trust me, on this end it’s all very exciting. I’m getting reacquainted with the power WordPress plugins to make your site do just about anything you want it to do. One of these days I may get the courage to open up the CSS file and tinker around and see how much I still remember (and how much I’ve forgotten, and how much has changed) since my bygone web designer and WordPress developer days.

But right now I’m typing this in the classic WordPress editor, thanks to one of those aforementioned plugins, and I’m happy as a clam in wet sand.

Otherwise, there’s not a lot to report. Our Resurrection Sunday was quiet and subdued, but a lot of Easter chocolate was consumed in the Bauhaushold over the weekend; my birthday came and went without a lot of fanfare, but there was cake! And it was delish; Dixie’s ears are both doing their level best to stand up straight and it’s making her look much less puppyish and much more doglike, which breaks my heart a little; yard work is still dominating our time; and I’ve had more freelance work sent my way, putting the kibosh on my plans to dig back into my novel this week.

I don’t have an update on my mom — last I heard, she had some appointments this week to discuss options with her cardiologist and to get more tests done, but I haven’t talked to her since those appointments have taken place. She did say she was starting to feel stronger the last time I spoke with her, though, so that’s something to be thankful for. I know I don’t need to ask those of you who pray to keep her lifted up, so I’ll just say that I appreciate your prayers so much, and I know she does, too.

Next week’s agenda includes finishing my freelance article, taking Dixie for her second round of booster shots, and hopefully getting our raised beds built. And hopefully also diving back into Revolution Part Two. I don’t really have any weekend plans, but with rain on tomorrow’s forecast, I’m hoping to make it a day of rest.

Life is very full, and I’m very blessed, and also very tired. But I know this full season will pass and summer will be here before we know it and we’ll be able to ease into some slower rhythms that will make it easier to get to the things on my plate that aren’t marked “urgent and time sensitive.” At least that’s my hope, Lord willing.

I’ll leave you with another Dixie pic to brighten your Friday:

Coffee Talk: Puppy Edition (Because This is Our Life Now)

Hiya, folks. It’s been a minute. March got swallowed up inside a Dixie-shaped vaccuum. I tell you what, we knew getting a puppy would be a challenge, but we didn’t know we were getting such a high-strung puppy. Apparently, there are two main types of German shepherds, a fact that didn’t turn up in our initial research. The show line GSDs are your more classic-looking, laid-back ones who excel at obedience and make good pets.

And then there’s working line. Which is what Dixie is. These are the extremely driven GSDs who make good police and protection dogs. Which is good, because we wanted a protection dog. Working line GSDs also tend to be hardier and less prone to hip problems. All cool. But did I mention the extremely driven, aka extremely ENERGETIC, part? She’s also extremely bitey, but we’ve been reassured that this is mostly a puppy thing that she’ll eventually outgrow, and until then I just need to wear gloves if I don’t want my hands shredded.

So we got off to a rocky start with our little zoomie, fur-covered crocodile. But thankfully, we found an excellent online trainer who specializes in working line breeds, and his guidance already has worked wonders. If you’ve got a dog who’s a handful, especially a large breed, I highly, highly recommend Robert Cabral. His membership site is worth every penny, and he also has a YouTube channel.

We’ve had Dixie about a month now, and we’re finally settling in and starting to enjoy each other. She’s already a whiz at some commands, but a work in progress with others. She’s starting to catch on to how fetch works and she’ll do just about anything for a treat. Best of all, she’s only needing one middle of the night potty break and is staying quiet in her crate (mostly) until we wake up in the morning. Praise hands!

I can’t get over how much she’s already grown and changed in the last month. She’s already looking like a miniature German shepherd. The bottom left pic above was taken last week. Those ears are trying so hard to stand up straight. As of this morning, one ear is standing straight up and the other is still drooping at the tip. It’s adorable and I need to be sure to get a picture before they change again. Before this pic was taken, she went through an awkward phase where one drooped forward and the other flopped sideways, and I’m heartbroken that I didn’t get a pic.

So last month, as I said, was pretty much consumed by our new puppy. I also squeezed in a couple of freelance assignments (hallelujah!), and we got out and got yard work done when Dixie was sleeping and it wasn’t raining. Also, my mom is dealing with some major health stuff that landed her in the hospital this week. She’s home now, but she’s got a leaky heart valve for which they’re still going over treatment options. They also suspect she somehow has liver disease, but they’re prioritizing dealing with her heart before they go down that avenue. In short, March was a stressful, exhausting month in which no unpaid writing happened, not counting the last post I did here early on.

But it’s a new month — my birthday month, no less — and it’s kicking off with a weekend that’s all about life triumphing over death, light overcoming darkness, and good utterly defeating evil. I’m going to take the weekend off to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord and Savior, as well as my birthday, and then next week I’m going to do my utter best to resurrect my novel-in-progress and get it finished. I don’t know how this will work between puppy training, walks, yard work, freelancing and prepping and planting our new garden beds (we ended up canceling our chicken order because that just felt like too much to deal with right now), but I’ll work it in somehow.

And on an administrative note, WordPress.com made some changes since my last post and took away the option to switch from their highly PITA block editor to their classic editor. My paid hosting account here is up for renewal, and I’ve been kicking around the idea of switching back to self-hosted WordPress. This development might push me over the edge into that decision. Which means there might be a brand new website coming soon! Stay tuned.

Here’s hoping to get back to posting regular updates!

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!

Monday Check-in: Hobbits, Writing Plans and Bracing for What’s Ahead

One of the problems with committing to blogging daily is coming up with something worthwhile to blog about eacy day. This problem is compounded when, immediately after making said commitment, you get handed a slew of articles to write. Not that I’m complaining about the paying work — far from it. But it’s kept me from being able to give as much thought to these here blog posts as I would have liked.

I’ve got one more article to finish, and then I’ll be able to put some real time and thought into these daily posts. Until then, I’m afraid you’re stuck with bland life blather, if you’re actually here to read this. Of course, if I wanted to start writing about politics and current events, I’d have a whole litany of things to say, but considering the current political climate, now doesn’t seem like a prudent time to start delving into all of that.

Anyway, I got the rest I needed this weekend, although I wasn’t able to keep myself away from the news as I’d intended. But I did get a lot of prayer in, and spent a lot of time in the book of 1 Peter, which I highly recommend if you’re a Christian who is worried about the state of the world, as it’s basically a field guide for Believers living in a hostile and perilous culture.

We also finished Battle of the Five Armies and then started Fellowship of the Ring. I’d never seen Five Armies, so it was nice to finally complete that trilogy. I also confess that I’ve also never actually read all of The Hobbit, which I’m sure loses me significant geek cred, but my husband tells me that the book and the movie trilogy have very few things in common. At any rate, I enjoyed Five Armies once it got past the middle lull following the (spoiler alert) death of Smaug and picked up again, and as endings go, I thought it had a stronger ending than Return of the King, although overall I think the original LotR trilogy is far superior to the prequels. In any case, I’ve moved The Hobbit up to the top of my TBR list for this year.

Now that we’re faced with another Monday, and life and work must both go on despite democracy dying in darkness, I’m turning my attention to what I hope to get done this week. That includes finishing and submitting the previously mentioned article and then turning my attention to this blog and coming up with some more thoughtful content. It also includes devoting more time each day to Revolution 2 and building momentum that will carry me through to the end. I may send out an update to my author mailing list later this week, and I’ve been wanting to sit down and come up with a plan for Facebook that will let me engage more there without it eating up too much of my time.

I’ve got just enough time in my work day to squeeze in a quick word sprint on the novel, so I’d best get to it. While I do, leave a comment and share what you’re tackling this week.

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!!!

Slowing My Roll

And I’m back!

I feel like a lot of things have happened since I announced my blog hiatus back in April, and yet also not much has happened at all. I didn’t get any of the things done that I said I was taking a hiatus to focus on. But a lot has taken place, nevertheless.

It turns out that deciding to take a break from blogging was just the beginning of what turned out to be a long, unplanned sabbatical from all but my most necessary work. At first I began to feel creatively blocked — more like creatively spent, used up and depleted — and realized I needed a break from writing and editing altogether, and also from everything involved in marketing and promotion. Then, as if to confirm just how badly I needed a rest, my chronic health issues (PCOS, hypothyroidism and all the fun stuff interlinked with those) took a bad turn and I found myself struggling with fatigue and brain fog, along with headaches, body aches and digestive issues. Fun, fun times.

So I gave myself permission not to worry about writing, publishing, marketing, or any of the projects I had in the works, or any other type of work that didn’t directly earn income or relate to maintaining our home (and I let as much of that go as I could, too). I basically quit everything I could quit in order to focus on healing and getting better.

 

A lot of that freed up time was spent learning about my conditions. It’s maddening how little traditional Western medicine doctors actually know or care to know about both PCOS and Hashimoto’s/hypothyroidism. With both illnesses, the typical response is to simply prescribe a pill (birth control in first case, Synthroid in the second) and call it a day.

There’s no investigation of root cause. No discussion of the way these conditions impact the endocrine system, digestive system, reproductive system and overall health. With PCOS you also get told to lose weight, but there’s no education about how to do that, or that what you eat has the potential to either heal you or make you sicker, and that what you should eat and how much you should move changes depending on whether your root cause is insulin resistance, inflammation, or something else. And in my case, there was never one single mention that my lack of thyroid function might be due to autoimmunity, which can also be helped via nutrition, despite the fact that this is the cause of 90 percent of cases of hypothyroidism, and the other causes are really freaking rare in this country. I never even heard the word Hashimoto’s until I started doing my own research on PCOS and discovered that they’re linked.

I’m ranting now. But this stuff makes me angry. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

At any rate, the more I learned, and the more I heard stories from other women who’ve had similar experiences of being woefully uneducated, unhelped and brushed off by their doctors, the more appalled and angry I became, and the more I realized I needed to basically be my own doctor, thanks to insurance not covering functional medicine practitioners and naturopaths, i.e. the people who actually study up on these conditions and inform their patients and tailor treatment to individuals.

This post went somewhere I didn’t intend, but seriously: GAH!

Anyway. Thankfully, I was led to some posts and podcasts that described my exact issues and helped me pinpoint the problem. Of course, without blood tests, which I still need and plan to do once we find a local GP, I’m only making educated guesses, but I made changes based on those guesses, and I started feeling better. Specifically, I discovered that I met the criteria for adrenal fatigue and low cortisol, and that I needed to adjust my workouts, cut back on caffeine and make getting enough sleep a top priority. I also learned that women with PCOS tend to leak electrolytes and minerals and need to add them back throughout the day, which I started doing simply by adding a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to my water throughout the day. Those changes, particularly that last one, were total game changers. I started feeling better almost immediately.

Of course, I also got serious about my nutrition. I think a big part of what led to my flareup was eating too much sugary, gluteny junk during April, which included both my birthday and Easter. I had also eased up on my dairy restrictions and was eating more cheese than was good for me. So about six or seven weeks ago I eliminated gluten, all A1 dairy (I still eat small amounts of goat cheese, which doesn’t give me any trouble) and added sugar from my diet. But then a couple weeks in we had a cheat night and I ate some flautas and drank some beer, and immediately my chronic inflammation went through the roof. But I got back on the wagon the next day, and tomorrow will mark 30 days without any of that inflammatory junk in my diet, and I am feeling worlds better as a result.

My intention is to go another 30 days, which will run out just in time to celebrate with a slice of cake on my husband’s birthday. I generally subscribe to the 80/20 rule — eating strictly healthy 80 percent of the time, but leaving that small margin to mindfully enjoy my favorite foods with no guilt or worry. I think right now, as I heal, I need to be strict and stick to my protocol 100 percent, but when I’m in that healthy place, my body can handle the occasional treat. And I know if I head into fall and the Halloween season and then the holidays aiming to stick to 100 percent I’m going to be grumpy and resentful and set myself up to fail.

All of my health adventures aside, that’s not even the point of this post, which is that in the midst of all of that, something else was happening inwardly. As I let go of so much to focus on health and self-care and doing things that are good for my mind and soul as well as my body, including spending a lot of time with my loved ones, I began to realize how little the things I let go of or set aside truly matter. For a while now, I’ve been kind of watching with curiosity and wonder as my values and priorities have been shifting, and things that seemed oh so important only three months ago are now barely on my radar.

I’m in a space right now where I’m not sure how my writing fits into that. I still identify as a writer. I’m still working on book revisions and edits, when I can make the time. I still have stories I want to tell. I still write online content for a living, even. But being an author — having my books widely read and adored, growing a fan base, being prolific, all that stuff — not only do I simply no longer care about any of that, but I’ve realized that it has actually sucked all of the joy out of writing. And right now I’m just sort of holding space for that realization and what it means for my career and all my plans. One thing I’m fairly certain of is that if letting go of my author identity and treating my writing as a hobby instead of a job will help me find joy in writing again, I’m really okay with that.

This doesn’t mean that I’m abandoning my planned book projects, only that I’m not going to hustle to get them done on a certain timeline, or produce a certain number of books a year, or try to make my books a dependable source of income.

Still, ironically, these last few weeks I’ve been feeling nudged to start blogging again. Not to fire up my author blog, but to start putting my story out there, to start using my words to minister again. I did that for awhile in a separate space, but that petered out because trying to run multiple blogs became exhausting. Years ago, when I first started dipping my toes into the author space, I was given advice to keep my personal blog, all my writing about my health and my faith and my life, separate. I took that advice to heart and I think it was a huge mistake. All these years, it’s made me feel a little schizoid, maintaining these separate identities, trying to compartmentalize parts of myself that are inextricably linked, and it’s also doubled my work. But I think the worst thing is that I felt like I couldn’t trust my audience to handle all of me, and I needed to hide parts of myself away and only reveal them in this safe space tucked away over here on this other blog.

Well, I’m not doing that anymore. As of today, this space is no longer my “author blog,” whatever that means. It’s just my blog, and it’s going to get a lot more honest and real. It’s taken me a lot of wrestling these last few weeks trying to decide whether to start my other blog back up, or start an entirely new blog to focus on these things I’m so passionate about these days, but when it occurred to me that I could just combine it all right here, under my own name, no separation, no hiding, that felt so right. And yet I continued to procrastinate because I kept blowing this first post up into something a lot bigger, harder and more complicated than it actually needed to be. But I finally realized that I needed to knock that off and just start. Just write something.

So here you go. This is my new start. I hope you’ll stick around for what’s to come, to see what this — and what I — will grow up to become.

Writing and Self-Awareness and General Adulting FTW

This picture has nothing to do with anything. I just want to show you my dog.

Last week was not a good week, y’all. Terrible weather, terribly unhealthy food choices and not nearly enough sleep all conspired together to leave me trapped in a morass of brain fog and lethargy. No writing got done, but I did manage to cobble together a potential cover for my Dominion sequel, so it wasn’t a complete loss. And the week before that I finished the first novella in my new supernatural horror series, so I didn’t feel too terrible about taking a writing break.

I mostly spent my time and what little brain power I could muster doing a deep-dive into the Enneagram, which was incredibly insightful. If you’ve never heard of the Enneagram and have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a personality framework that delves way deeper into your psyche than Myers-Briggs. Where MBTI focuses on how we take in and process information, the Enneagram gets down to the nitty-gritty of the core beliefs, fears and desires that drive our behavior. It’s a great tool for both increasing self-awareness and gaining a better understanding of the people we love, and I’m kind of obsessed with it right now.

If you’d like to check it out, it’s not as simple as taking an online quiz to find out your type. It takes a bit of reading. The Road Back to You is a great primer (and its available to read for free on Hoopla)–it’s faith-based, but full of great info. If you’re averse to reading about it but are still curious, prefer a more secular angle and are also NOT averse to foul-mouthed hostesses dropping F-bombs, I recommend the podcast Enneagram for Idiots. If you like the faith angle and don’t so much like the cussing, then the Typology podcast might be worth your while.

After a weekend of rest, sunshine, yard work and a couple of Benadryl-enhanced nights of sleep, I’m feeling back to normal this week, and managed to get a couple of pages of another WIP written this morning. This week is going to be mostly full of more yard work and fun grown-up chores like doing our taxes and insurance paperwork, but I’m determined to write at least a page or two on that WIP each day. And I’m also getting very close to finally being able to make an announcement about Dominion. So stay tuned!

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