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

Image by Christoph Schütz from Pixabay

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!

NaNoWriMo, an update on my dog, and a Bound Spirits progress report

Happy National Novel Writing Month to those who are participating this year! I’m not, because I’ve still got six-and-a-alf chapters left to write on Bound Spirits, but I’m hoping to tap into the collective creative energy that’s in the air this month to make that last push to the finish line. But if you’re in it and you could use some encouragement, here’s a pep talk I wrote last year.

As for Bound Spirits, like I said, it’s nearing the end. I’ve got two-and-a-half scenes/chapters left to go in the second act, and Act 3 only consists of three chapters, at least according to the outline, but these things can change. It’s also possible that I’m not drawing my act breaks correctly in the outline and I’m already in Act 3.

At any rate, the current word count stands at 47,392, not counting an additional 1300 or so words of the half-chapter that’s currently residing on my Alphasmart Neo, which would bring it closer to 49K. It’s shaping up to be on the shorter side — about the same length as Restless Spirits — unless I discover things that need to be fleshed out more on the next pass.

It’s getting really close to done. The thing that’s making it hard is the situation with our dog. Right now he’s requiring round-the-clock care, which means my husband and I are both losing sleep because we have to check on him throughout the night. We also have to drop whatever we’re doing to give him meds and also force feed him every so often throughout the day (yes, it takes two grown adults to force food and pills down the throat of a stubborn 6-pound Chihuahua). None of which exactly makes it easy to focus on writing.

And quite frankly, neither does knowing that even if he fully recovers from the infections we’re currently treating him for, he still has a terminal lung disease. It’s a pretty heartbreaking situation. Sometimes working on my book is a therapeutic escape, but mostly when I’m writing it just feels like I’m ignoring my dog who, barring some type of miracle, won’t be with me much longer. But it’s got to get done, so I’m just going to have to suck it up and find a way to do it.

The good news is, he does seem to be improving and is even showing signs of getting his appetite back, and his breathing has been good since we brought him home from his weekend in the oxygen tank. He’s got about two more weeks of antibiotics left to go for his infections, and he seems to be a little more alert and energetic each day. We just want to get him to a place where he can actually enjoy the rest of his life, however long that may be.

Next week I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things on this here Unblog with a post about the inspiration behind my heroine Chris Wilson and the introduction of a new regular feature in which I share my favorite ‘ships (as in relationship OTPs). But the book’s gotta come first, so we’ll have to wait and see how things go.

Fire bad. Tree pretty.

zNaNoWriMo Participant 2014This week did not go as planned. Matt and I ran all over town  running errands and stocking up on winter supplies. Wednesday was supposed to involve a quick morning run to Sprouts to stock up on produce and bulk dry goods, after which I was going to catch up on writing and freelance work. But just before we left, the insurance adjuster FINALLY returned our call (did I mention here that we were involved in an accident last week?).

We spent probably 45 minutes on the phone with him, asking and answering questions about our claim, and then he approved us for a rental car, so we had to go pick that up, which ate up another hour or so. By the time we finally made it to Sprouts it was noon already. Tuesday and Thursday were even more hectic. The upshot of which is, I haven’t added a single word to my NaNoWriMo word count since Monday.

This introverted homebody is completely worn out. But at least we’re ready if the winter weather that’s expected to hit this weekend turns into a big deal. Today was all about getting caught up on my freelancing so I don’t have to work through the weekend, so it hasn’t exactly been restful. My new plan is to spend Saturday vegging out and recharging my brain, and then Sunday, while Matt is distracted with football, I will make a valiant effort to catch up on my word count before deciding whether to throw in the towel on trying to win ‘WriMo this year. Unless ice knocks out our power, in which case my chances are pretty much screwed. But at least we’ll be well fed and we won’t freeze to death.

Here’s hoping next week is much calmer.

Bits & bobs, and a NaNoWriMo update

zNaNoWriMo Participant 2014We’re into week 2 of NaNoWriMo, and I’m currently at 14,191 words (that’s words written in November. The total manuscript word count currently stands at 20,714 — about a third of the way through the first draft. I think). I should be at 16,670 by the end of the day, which probably won’t happen. But if I can put in another 2K before I call it a day, I’ll be close enough for comfort. Which means I’d better keep this post short so I can get to writing.

As for what’s happening within the novel, the plot hung a sharp left the other day and now I have to solve a decades-old murder in addition to getting my two protagonists to make with the smoochies.

What else am I up to? Yesterday, I finally put away the Halloween decorations, but left up the fall decorations and added a crocheted horn of plenty that I still need to take a picture of. Today I changed out the dirt in Matilda the Box Turtle’s tank and took her out to get some sun on what may well be the last warm day of the year. And of course there’s the freelancing. Fiverr’s keeping me busy with editing and book formatting gigs, and I just wrote this post on romance novel and wine pairings for Libib.

The forecast is showing wintry weather this weekend. As unpredictable as that crud tends to be in these parts, the rest of this week is going to mostly be dedicated to prepping, to make sure we won’t starve or freeze if we get stuck here and the power goes out. Of course, the more prepared we are, the less of a big deal winter storms tend to be, so if the sky simply sneezes out a few flurries over Tulsa this weekend, you’ll have us to thank. 😉

Right, then. Time to write. How’s your NaNo novel coming? Or any big projects you’re tackling this month, as the case may be?

PCOS, goal interference, and reluctant diet changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now taking commission orders on Halloween knits, and other fall-related blather

Heads up: I’m currently taking orders for Halloween and the holidays for Marzipan Pie. There are a lot of great knit and crochet kid costume ideas on this Pinterest board, but you’re certainly not limited to those ideas. Or to stuff for kids, for that matter. Just let me know what you want and I’ll let you know if I can do it and quote you a price. And I promise not to use any of the yarn from the cat pee bag.

The new novel, which currently has the working title Panic, is still in the outline phase. The NEW new novel, i.e. the Restless Spirits sequel, is still in the germinating ideas and jotting down notes phase. And Midnight Snacks is still with the beta readers. I’m planning to do a cover reveal for that one soon, but I still need to move the cover file off of the old laptop, which is a PITA.

I’m currently working in my craft room, in the rocker which is more comfortable than I remembered (though not enough to make me change my mind about wanting to replace it). Lately it’s been easier to get the creative juices flowing in this room — another reason I’m glad I finally took it back from the cats.

This week, I’ve been working on decluttering the living room and putting out the fall decorations — of which I have pitifully few. But now that I’ve got my craft room back, I’ve got plenty of plans to make more. I’ve also started hanging pictures on walls — something we’ve done pathetically little of in the SIX years we’ve lived in this house — but my first go at that ended in tragedy when my attempts to straighten a picture holder I’d just hung caused it to fall and break a hand-painted ceramic egg commemorating our wedding that my aunt made for us. Don’t tell my Aunt Faye, it would break her heart. It certainly broke mine.

Anyway, there’s a stack of frames here in the craft room that either already have photos that I want to hang or that will be repurposed for photo collages and other crafty “art” so we can finally get stuff on the walls and look like we actually live here. There’s also a stack of awesome Serenity propaganda-style posters somewhere that I need to dig out and put up and stop waiting until we can afford to have them framed.

I’m hesitant to write this down lest I jinx it, but I think I have finally achieved a pretty good balance between freelance work/writing fiction/home care/self care/having a life. I’m at a point where I want to look for ways to “work smarter not harder,” i.e., finding more lucrative work instead of just more work. Of course, it would also help to be more diligent about marketing and selling my books, and sideline businesses like Marzipan Pie that help fund my yarn addiction certainly can’t hurt. To that end, I’m thinking about setting up a dedicated website for MP instead of just relying on the Facebook page (which needs a makeover, anyway).

I’m also thinking about ways to expand my fiction audience, like maybe getting audiobooks made, and submitting short stories to online markets. And, of course, writing more books. I really need to get around to finishing setting up my own book shop here on this site, too. Oh, and I also need to set up a separate website for my editing and publishing services, because just having a page for it here on this site isn’t working.

And that’s a lot of thinking “out loud” in that last paragraph. I need to remember that this is my most energetic time of year, and while I need to take advantage of it while I can, I also need to be careful not to write checks that my S.A.D.-afflicted future self won’t be able to cash.