The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: life blather Page 1 of 8

Breaking the Ice

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash and has nothing to do with the post. I just like it.

It’s always hard to start again, or to know what to say, after a long break from the blog, especially an unplanned break. But I guess sometimes the best thing is to just dive in and start and let the words come as they may.

So, long story short, all our plans and projects got put on hold at the end of May when our landlords let us know they wanted to sell the house. Since then our lives have mostly centered around getting and keeping approval for financing, hunting (unsuccessfully, so far) for an affordable home that includes our nonnegotiables and also meets the extremely stringent standards of our financing program, and packing everything we don’t need to live. And let me tell you, this is not a good time to be shopping for a home. Especially when the only loan you could qualify for won’t cover manufactured homes or fixer-uppers and finding a move-in ready house within a budget you’re comfortable with is next to impossible. And every time we think we’ve discovered such a unicorn, it turns out to have some fatal flaw that disqualifies it.

And ’round and ’round we go.

Houses aren’t the only thing I’ve been hunting for. I’m also on the hunt for more freelance writing clients, so that we’ll be able to afford the monthly payments on this loan that keeps forcing us to increase our budget. Really, if I could find just one or two more big brand content marketing clients on the level of my current clientele, who could give me just a couple of assignments a month, we’d be set without me having to take on a ton of extra work. So that’s what I’m hoping for. But I’m also kicking around the idea of offering special rate packages for small biz/startups. I can see some benefits in going that route, such as a more consistent and predictable writing schedule instead of being handed assignments at random, but I can see a lot of potential drawbacks, too. So I’m reluctant to go that route if I don’t need to.

And I’m also trying to muster up the motivation to pitch articles to paying publications. I just really hate pitching and I don’t want to.

But that’s not all! What else am I on the hunt for?

An agent.

Yes, you read that right.

Being forced to step back from all my self-publishing plans for this year got me to reevaluate things. If you’ve been here long, then you may recall how a couple of years ago I had a bit of an existential crisis (didn’t we all?) around whether I even still wanted to be a fiction author, because while I still love the writing part, I kind of hate the author part and all that it entails. But I realized in these last months that it’s not so much a question of being an author, as it is being an indie author, which has been nothing but a struggle for me.

And as much as I had some issues with my previous traditional publishing experience, it definitely provided some benefits, not the least of which was that it provided structure and the external pressure of being contractually obligated to keep my deadlines. As much as I hated writing to someone else’s schedule, I realize now that I need that external pressure and accountability to keep me focused and motivated. As you’ve seen with all my delays trying to finish my Dominion trilogy, I’m terrible at keeping deadlines I set for myself. My brain just sees them as suggestions and feels free to ignore them.

Rude!

So I’ve decided to seek representation for my Christian romance novel. I’ve got my dream agent all picked out, and some backups in case she’s not interested, and I’m working on putting together my proposal. Currently I’m proofreading my manuscript and making notes on what to include in the synopsis, and then I’ll need to draft said synopsis. And then it will be ready to send. And when I think about sending it I panic a little and just want to go back to my self-publishing plan, but then I shake it off and press on.

Which is another reason I’m doing this. I realized that the biggest reason I decided to self-publish in the first place was because I was afraid of rejection. When I saw the shiny new tool called KDP that people were using to publish their books, I said, “You mean I can skip all of the pain and humiliation of submissions and just put my book out there where it can find its fans?” And my rejection-sensitive self said, “Woohoo! Sign me up!”

But in those days, self-publishing was much less competitive and it was easy to find fans and make a little money. But now in order to succeed, it takes a set of skills I don’t possess and can’t muster, like the ability to write and release a book a month and to be incredibly genre-savvy when it comes to covers and marketing.

I really struggle with genre-appropriate covers, and I’m never going to be a speed writer or rapid releaser.

Also, if I’m being completely honest with myself, being a self-published author was never Young Jean’s dream. That dream got hijacked by Tired, Anxiety-ridden, Rejection-sensitive, Middle-aged Jean. I think it’s time to get out of the way and give Young Jean her shot at her dream. Even if the publishing landscape has drastically changed since she had visions of (Stephen) King-sized royalty advance checks dancing in her head.

So I’m going for it, is what I’m saying. And if it doesn’t work out, KDP will still be there.

So that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to. But as all these hunts stretch on without bagging any game, to stretch the metaphor, I’m getting antsy. My brain is itching for some creative work, and it feels like it’s gearing up for something, but at the same time I feel overwhelmed and unmotivated. I’m feeling like it might be about time to start working on a novel, but I can’t decide which. The second romance I started in the spring? The urban fantasy horror I started in 2020 (…or was it 2019?) that I’ve been harping about for ages but lately I haven’t been feeling so inspired about? Or the YA gothic romance that’s been perking in my brain for the last several years, which kind of feels like it’s the one screaming the loudest for attention? The indecision is paralyzing me. See what I mean about needing structure and the external pressure of contractual obligations?

For now I’m not forcing anything, but I’ve been taking in a lot of productivity advice that’s specifically geared toward my ADHD brain and working on developing better systems that will help me stay on track. I’ve pretty much just relied on both my bullet journal and fitting work into the rhythms of my day for the last several years, and while that has worked well at times, there’ve been times (like this current season) where it hasn’t worked so well, and there’s definitely room for improvement.

So I’m giving some other tools a try. One of those is keeping a weekly calendar. I’ve always shied away from keeping a schedule or a calendar, because it makes me anxious when I don’t keep it perfectly, or feeling like I have to work on a certain thing at a certain time if my brain just doesn’t feel up to it or is inspired to work on something else. But I’m coming to realize a few things, which are probably super obvious to all of you:

1. My bujo is great for making plans, but not for visually displaying those plans where I can easily see it mapped out, which usually means my plan for the week derails after a couple of days because I forget what all I wanted to accomplish.

2. Calendars are for capturing and displaying a visual map of your plan that can help keep things on track.

3. Calendars — and plans — are changeable. Nothing is set in stone. A plan is an ideal, and a calendar reflects that ideal, but both are subject to reality, and as such, are flexible.

It’s that last item that was my biggest AHA! moment. I can change or move things around on my schedule, or erase them completely, just like I do in my bujo, and that’s okay. I don’t have to feel guilty about it. Putting a task on my schedule for Wednesday just means that Monday Jean thought it would be a good idea to tackle that task on that day, but Wednesday Jean is free to disagree.

More important than what I do on which day is that I’m trying to shift things around so that I can have two solid blocks of uninterrupted time each day to do deep work. But also recognizing that sometimes that deep work will look like just sitting and thinking or like taking in ideas and refueling, because I’ll burn out if I just try to do output all the time.

I think a more structured daily and weekly rhythm is what I’m going for. I’ll let you know how it goes.

So does any of this mean I’m going to be blogging regularly again? I don’t know. I would like to. But with so much uncertainty and upheaval in this season of my life, I’m not committing to anything. At some point, Lord willing, we’re going to find a house, and then we’ll have to finish packing and move and unpack and all the things. But as long as we’re stuck in house-hunting limbo, I might as well try to be productive at something and give my poor, neglected creative brain something to do before it atrophies from disuse.

I’ll let you know when I figure out what that something is.

Coffee Talk: It’s the Most Busy-full Time of the Year

Image by Melk Hagelslag from Pixabay

Hello there, Bloglandia. It’s been a little while. I just wanted to pop in and touch base and let everyone know I’m still plugging along. There’s not a lot to report. Freelance writing has been keeping me busy, and when I get breaks between articles I’ve been trying to keep up with behind-the-scenes book marketing tasks and housework, and also rest my tired brain. We both haven’t been sleeping so great, and winter is already zapping our energy, so we’re struggling a little to keep up with everything and oh so ready for the Christmas break.

But for all of that, I’ve still been diligent to get up early every weekday morning and work a little bit on my romance novel, which is about two-thirds of the way done. I may end up having to pare it down when all is said and done. I think it’s going to end up quite a bit longer than the typical fluffy romance read. But it’s turning out to not be all that fluffy. I keep tackling some heavy stuff. Stuff like narcissistic abuse, church hurt, C-PTSD, being upset with God… so much for writing a romantic comedy. At any rate, it’s coming along.

We did manage to put out some Christmas decorations, although we had to Dixie proof everything, and we didn’t even attempt to put up the pretty fake tree we bought last year. Instead we harvested a little juniper from our property and decorated it with our unbreakable ornaments.

Also, I’ve taken up playing the recorder. I’ve tried and tried over the years to make myself into a guitar player, but the truth is that I’m a woodwinds gal. In my heart of hearts, I want to replace my long-lost saxophone, but those are too expensive. I’ve been drawn to playing the Irish tin whistle as a cheap substitute. But I’ve got this recorder that Matt bought me years ago, so I pulled that out in the hopes that by playing it he’d be more inclined to let me get a set of tin whistles. I looked into some recorder lessons on YouTube and discovered that there’s a lot more to it than I thought. I don’t have as much time to practice as I’d like, but I’m having fun with it. I still want those tin whistles, though. And a saxophone. Some day…

Today is shaping up to be pretty and mild, so we’re going to make ourselves get outside and do some neglected chores. The chicken coop and pen are sorely in need of a cleaning. The plan is to muck it all out and transport all the poopy stuff to our garden bed area, where we’ll spread it around and cover it and let it go to work conditioning the soil through the winter. And we’ve still got a million leaves to rake, and we still need to gather and cut old deadwood for our second hugelkulture bed. Probably we won’t get all that done today, but if we can get the coop cleaned out I’ll be happy. Also, if I ever start a homesteading blog, I’m going to call it “Dirt, Sweat, and Chicken Poop,” and never will there have been a more aptly named blog.

Speaking of the chickens, ours will be old enough to switch from grower to layer feed soon, and we’ve been researching cost-effective ways to feed chickens. Because let me tell ya, commercial chicken feed is ‘spensive. If any of you reading this have tackled this problem and have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Aaand it’s just about time to head out and get to work. I’m hoping to be back soon with an end-of-year update, and hopes and plans for the new year. Because it’s already getting to be that time. Can you believe it?

Oh, and ICYMI, Desolation, Book One of my now-complete Dominion trilogy, is only 99 cents!

Until next time, Bloggy friends!

Coffee Talk: Where did October go? Also, upcoming plans, Halloween, and getting your mind blown by the Bible

Image by Irina Kuzmina from Pixabay

October is, theoretically, my favorite month of the year. The milder weather, the turning leaves, the Halloween candy and pumpkin spice, the combo of spooky and cozy vibes… I love it all. And every year I look forward to it like no other month.

And every year, it seems, the month gets crazy, and I barely get to enjoy it, and it’s over and gone before I know it.

I’m in a weird, conflicted place right now of mourning the fact that October is almost over already and lamenting how busy this month was while simultaneously being pleased with how productive it was and being excited that we’re only a few days away from Halloween and the start of holiday season.

And it was certainly productive. We finished building the chicken coop, almost completely from scrap materials that were lying around the property, and got the chicks moved in, where they’re doing great. Our landlords came for a few days and together we knocked down some giant piles of limbs that were waiting for the right conditions to be burned and also cleared a lot of junk out of the warehouse. And we accumulated enough leaves to finally fill our empty hugelkultur garden bed, so those can be composting until next spring (we’ve still got to gather old wood to pile on top of the leaves). That’s a lot of work right there, but if the way our tomatoes have taken off in our first hugelkultur bed are any indication, it’ll be well worth it.

Here’s the finished coop:

And all that’s just on the homestead front. It was also a productive writing month. I FINALLY finished, AND revised, AND published Revolution Part Two! I cannot even begin to convey what a relief it is to finally have that trilogy off my plate (except for the paperbacks I still need to format and create covers for). And that’s not all! I also added a couple of new chapters to my sweet romance WIP. And this week I updated both Eucha Falls and Weather Witch with new titles and covers — all while keeping up  with a steady stream of freelance writing gigs. Here are the new covers:

What I Did Not Get to Do This Month

I had so many plans for this here blog this month. I was going to have so much fun with it being spooky season. I was going to continue my examination of the Biblical supernatural worldview by taking a look at what the Bible says about ghosts, I was going to get into the Satanic Panic of the ’80s and ’90s and whether that was real and still going on (short answer: yes on both counts — do a DuckDuckGo search on the Finders cult if you want to go down that rabbit hole, but cover yourself in prayer first and guard your heart and mind if you do), and I was planning a big post on the true history and CHRISTIAN origins of Halloween to combat all the rampant misinformation that’s either guilting or terrifying so many clueless Christians into shunning their own holiday.

Alas, I didn’t have time for any of that. I’m still planning to tackle the ghosts and Satanic Panic topics at some point (and also revisit the topic of goat demons), if things ever slow down to a point where I can devote time to this blog again, but as for the Halloween origins, I had to settle for throwing together an Instagram story, which you can view by clicking here. Just click and hold your button down (or your finger if you’re on your phone) on each slide to pause and read.

If you don’t want to wait around for me to dig into these topics, then I highly, HIGHLY recommend checking out the Blurry Creatures podcast, which I have been binging like crazy for the last couple of weeks (one of the perks of doing a lot of outdoor work). It started out as a Bigfoot / cryptids podcast but quickly took a sharp turn and became about examining the origins of everything weird and strange in the universe and how it all ties back to Genesis, and the theological and historical implications thereof. Start with the latest episode and work your way back if you don’t care about Bigfoot (although he still comes up in every episode). I’m dubious about some of the claims and theories of some of the guests, but even so, this podcast will blow your mind and rock your worldview.

What’s Coming Up

I’m not going to set a timeline on any of this, because we’ve still got a lot to get done around the homestead before winter hits (that fence around the chicken yard isn’t going to build itself), and I’m promised a steady stream of freelance work between now and the end of the year. But I still need to merge both parts of Revolution into one volume and then set up paperbacks (and maybe hardbacks?) for that whole series. And I’m about to start edits on the sleep paralysis story I wrote last year, which I think I’m going to include in a collection that includes all of my short standalone stories — that will also get released as both a paperback and ebook.

I’ll keep plugging away each morning on the romance novel, which I think is a little more than halfway done, and which I’m hoping to have ready in time for a spring release. And once that’s done I’ll take a break before starting the next book in that series to finally get back to the urban fantasy series I started last year.

I’m really chomping at the bit to get back to that series, but I’m glad I put it off. While it will be marketed as fantasy, the truth is that it will be thoroughly grounded in a Biblical supernatural worldview, which is very real. And while it was always my intention with this series to highlight the angelic conflict that’s happening all around us, I started this back before I’d been exposed to Dr. Michael Heiser’s work, and since then my worldview has vastly expanded to include a wide range of possibilities. Binging Blurry Creatures is also doubling as research for this series. And I’m realizing that there’s so much more I can communicate about this stuff, so much more effectively, through fiction than through a blog or podcast. I can’t wait to get into it, but at the same time, I need more time to process all of it.

So that’s what all is on the horizon. Oh, and I’m also planning (or hoping) to get re-focused on building my mailing lists and participating in some more multi-author book giveaways over the next few months.

But first, I’m going to enjoy a long Halloween weekend, watch some old school scary movies and try not to OD on chocolate. I hope you and yours have a pleasant and safe All Hallow’s E’en/Reformation Day/Fall Harvest Festival/candy day/it’s just Sunday you satanically-inspired heretic.

Peace.

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.

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