Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Tag: life blather Page 2 of 7

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.

The craft room is finished! And the RESTLESS SPIRITS sequel is begun! Sort of.

Well, my friends, the cat room is a craft room once again.

I spent yesterday first sorting through my yarn and then emptying out the walk-in closet. The good news re: the yarn is that I had it stored in four different bags, only one of which got peed on, so the majority of my stash was just fine. The tee-shirt stash fared worse, but it still wasn’t as bad as I expected. Everything pee-scented went into the washer to soak overnight in vinegar and laundry soap (the yarn first went into pillow cases), and then this morning I ran that cycle, then ran it again with baking soda. After that, the shirts went in the dryer and the yarn went out on the back lawn to dry in the sun. The yarn is still drying outside, but the shirts passed the sniff-test, and are now folded and put away where those jerks sweet kitties can’t get to them.

As for the kitties, they’re much happier, and reluctant to leave the room, which is kind of nice. I fixed up the closet for them with their litter boxes and crates and plenty of places to hide and sleep and climb. Nibblet’s loving it, but so far Boudica prefers the top of what’s now the yarn and tee-shirt cabinet, a.k.a. my only work surface. I laid a fleece blanket up there for her to collect cat hair and protect the surface from her claws, and I can just move the blanket (and her) when I’m ready to get my craft on, so no big.

The only thing that’s missing in there is a good work surface. There’s a small table, but that’s wobbly, and the previously mentioned cabinet, but that’s not a large surface and it’s tall enough that I’ll have to stand. It’ll do for now, but some day I’d like to get a dedicated sewing table. A comfy chair for sitting and knitting would also be great. We’ve got an old rocking chair in there, but it’s not that comfortable, and I’d like to consign it to the back porch eventually.

I’m terrible about remembering to take pictures. If you want to see some, I’ll post some to my Instagram later.

I was hoping to be able to include a word count on the new novel in this post, but I’ve been kind of distracted all morning and couldn’t get my head in the right place for it. I guess I need to spend some time cleaning something else to give my brain a chance to develop the scene. Good thing I’m ready to straighten up the living room and bring out the fall decorations. Yes, I know it’s not technically fall yet, but the weather’s supposed to cool off later this week, and that’s good enough for me.

One thing I did do, though, writing-wise, is jotted down some notes on a proper sequel to Restless Spirits.  People have been bugging me (in the good way) about a sequel for years now, but I just haven’t been able to come up with the right story to justify one. But yesterday I streamed a few episodes of My Ghost Story while sorting through and detangling my yarn stash, and apparently these true haunting and paranormal investigator shows are my muse when it comes to this series (I guess it’s a series now), because something finally clicked. Now it’s going to be hard to make my brain focus on the Satanic Panic story instead of this. I wonder how insane I’d have to be to attempt writing two novels at once. We might be about to find out.

Seeking beta readers, non-smelly yarn and time to veg.

This has been quite the busy week, what with doing a load of laundry AND working on the cat room every day, plus editing one book while outlining another, plus my freelance writing and marketing projects. I’m pooped. Thank God it’s Friday, indeed. I plan to plant myself on the couch tomorrow and avail myself of our free Prime membership trial and stream the heck out of Amazon videos.

But first, today I need to hurry and finish up my freelance writing for the week, after which I’ll hopefully have time to type up my edits for my story collection, MIDNIGHT SNACKS (I’m looking for beta readers, by the way. Holler in the comments if you’d like to be one). And then I’m going to try to finish up the room part of the cat room (saving the closet for next week) and sort through my yarn stash to see what can be saved.

Speaking of “saving mah yarnz,” this is the funniest post about cats peeing on yarn and trying to save it that you’ll probably ever read.

Progress All Around

The cat room is really starting to resemble a craft room again. I’ve only got one more corner to deal with, but I’ve been saving the worst for last, so that will probably take a day or two to conquer. Once that’s done, I should be able to set my sewing machine up in a permanent spot where my desk used to be (if I can find something sturdy enough to set it on, since Matt has co-opted our card table for the office), thus eliminating one of my (several) excuses for never sewing.

But then it will be time to tackle the walk-in closet, where I committed the error of trying to keep both the litter boxes and various craft supplies and other odds and ends. And despite having a perfectly good litter box right there, they still had to pee on a lot of what’s in there. I know I’ve got a basket of old tee-shirts in there that I was planning to do crafty things with at some point, so I’ll need to decide whether it’s worth it to try and salvage them. Really, most of what’s in that closet is old and broken things I’d planned to recycle into craft projects, so it won’t be the end of the world if I just toss it all so I can be done with it.

***

I’m already almost done with the first editing pass for the horror collection. I just need to type up my changes, then it will be ready for beta readers.

Also, working in the cat room without anything to listen to has indeed been conducive to developing the new novel. I now have several scenes mapped out, along with some snatches of dialogue written down, plus I now know the major beats of the story and how each act needs to end. This whole coming up with ideas while cleaning thing might end up being very good for my house.

I guess they don’t call it “Labor Day” for nothin’.

Happy Labor Day!

It’s my usual Labor Day tradition to spend the weekend getting some cleaning done. Usually this means cleaning my house, but we’ve actually been doing a pretty decent job lately of keeping the “public” areas presentable.

However, there is one room that I have put off tackling for far too long, because just thinking about having to clean it makes me feel so anxious and overwhelmed that I literally become nauseous. That is the room formerly known as my office/craft room, but in the past year and a half or so has come to be known as “the cat room.”

I think the devolution of this room really started when our kitty, Sasha, became sick last year. We already used that room to shut the cats up at night, and I’d been able to stay on top of their messes, but dealing with a loved one’s cancer, even when said loved one is a pet, takes a lot out of you, and I didn’t have the energy to keep battling our other two cats’ destructiveness. That only got worse after Sasha passed away — both their acting out and my inability to care what they were destroying — and shortly afterward I moved my desk into my husband’s office and pretty much gave that room over entirely to the remaining cats.

To know what we’re dealing with here, you should know that our oldest cat, Nibblet, is psychotic, and compulsively destructive. She has pica and eats or chews everything, and when she’s angry — which is pretty much her constant state — she deliberately knocks things off of shelves and breaks things. Our other cat, Boudica, isn’t so intentionally malevolent so much as just really clumsy, although she does have some chewing tendencies of her own.

So other than cleaning up their frequent bodily emissions, scooping their litter and occasionally vacuuming the small amount of carpet not taken up by stuff we’ve dumped in there because at some point we also started using that room as a big junk closet, we haven’t cleaned in there in well over a year, and it has become kind of a scary place.

So yesterday I decided to gird up my loins and finally start the long process of taking back my craft room from the cats.

Once I got started, it actually wasn’t quite as bad as I’d anticipated. One of the things that kept putting me off from tackling that room is that we’ve got a pretty bad brown recluse spider problem, and there are plenty of places in there for those things to hide. Generally, I have no problem with spiders, but as a rule I do have a huge problem with anything that can cause your flesh to rot. The good news is, while I did run into a few spiders, only one of them was a dreaded brown recluse.

The bad news, however, is that I discovered that one of the cats (or maybe both, but I suspect it was probably just Nibblet) peed all over both my yarn stash and my sewing fabric. So that’s going to be fun, detangling and re-winding all of that yarn after I’m forced to wash it.

At any rate, after a couple of hours in there yesterday, I got all of my knitting supplies safely cat-proofed inside my old TV cabinet turned craft cabinet, restored order to one of my book cases, removed a lot of things to the garage that can either be sold or given to charity, and threw away a lot of trash. And that was just one corner of the room. Still, it already looks a lot better in there. Y’know, if you stand at a certain angle and only look at that one corner.

My weekend wasn’t entirely about spiders and cat pee, thankfully. I did manage to make a little progress on my new novel outline, albeit not as much as I would have liked. I figured out the main character arc progressions for both of my protagonists, which is a good thing, but I’m still having a hard time envisioning more than a handful of scenes and figuring out the main story beats. I may just have to start writing and do an exploratory draft, but I need to focus on getting my short story collection ready for release before I start writing the new book in earnest.

Today, as predicted, I still have to write those short pieces for Fiverr. After those are done I’ll probably spend some more time working on the cat room until Matt’s ready to cook up some brats and break out the holiday beer.

So how are you guys spending the unofficial end of summer?

Links: What’s Steampunk, Sleepy Hollow preview, and more

I didn’t get all of my freelance work done before the weekend, so I’m having to work today. It’s mostly my own fault for not managing my time as well as I could have, but then again this was a pretty hectic week that involved more errands and more reasons to leave the house than usual (including a second trip to Bixby to pick up Pete’s meds from the vet because she didn’t have them stocked when we were there on Wednesday. Let me tell you, that is quite a long way to drive for such a simple errand), so I’ll go ahead and cut myself some slack.

The plan is to get this last article written before lunch, then I’ll be free the rest of the weekend. Except I also have a couple of short things I need to write for a Fiverr client by Monday evening. I’m still dithering on whether to buckle down and get those done today so I can take Labor Day off, or just wait and do them Monday so I can enjoy most of my Saturday. Considering that “enjoying” my Saturday involves laundry and vacuuming the house, I’ll probably hold off on the extra work until Monday.

Also on today’s agenda: trimming my unruly hair (still debating whether to give myself straight bangs or keep them longish and side swept, even though I usually regret straight bangs because they never lay down like I want them to, and yet I never seem to learn), fiddling with the outline for the new novel, and pulling my horror short story collection together for beta readers.

And now I’ll leave you with some links that are open in my browser that might be of interest to you:

Free at Last!

I have a laptop again! Thanks to my dear friend Erin Palette‘s quick thinking and organization efforts and the generosity of her Facebook network, I am now the proud owner of a 2005 HP tablet/notebook device. Yes, 2005, so it’s not exactly state-of-the-art, but it’s fine for writing, blogging, surfing, and light graphic design work. And it converts into a tablet — I think this was one of Microsoft’s early attempts to beat the iPad — so that’s fun. At any rate, it has liberated me from my husband’s desk and having to wait my turn on the desktop PC, so I am beyond thrilled and grateful.

And now I can get back to work on the whole author-publisher endeavor. Which I have already done by adding to the short story I’d begun before my old laptop’s screen burned out. And I also redid my Patreon page, where you can read said short story, which is a mash-up of a local ghost story and a terrifying dream I had a few months ago.

I’ve also been working on the outline and story world for the novel I talked about in my last post. I’ll start drafting it once this story is done — although I would like to write one more short piece for the collection I’m planning to publish around Halloween, so we’ll see how that goes. At any rate, pretty much everything I write from now on I plan to post as I go on my Patreon feed, and you can read it all for a measly $2 monthly pledge. Plus you’ll get other stuff too. Because I appreciate your willingness to toss a couple of bucks my way to help me do what I do, and I promise to make it worth your while.

In other news, Matt just had a birthday on Saturday. We spent it with my mom and her sister, who took us to a burger joint my mom used to frequent back in the 1950s. That was the best burger and onion rings and chocolate malt I’ve had in a very long time. Actually, it was the only burger and rings I’ve had in quite a while, and probably the first malt I’d had in about two decades. But it was delicious. At any rate, it was a lovely day.

An Upate on Life

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks as we’ve been dealing with some health issues that my husband’s been having, running around juggling doctors’ appointments and deadlines. He’s on the mend now, and yesterday was a badly needed do-nothing day for us both. Today’s only slightly more productive as we make the house presentable for some company we’re having tonight, but it’s not like we’re deep cleaning anything. We’re both too pooped.

The capper on a perfectly stressful week? The screen on my laptop gave up the ghost Sunday morning. I have no idea when we’re going to be able to get that replaced. Probably not any time soon. We’re just going to have to make do with sharing the desktop for the time being, which is sure to cut way down on my extra-curricular Internet time, not to mention making finding the time to write fiction even more of a challenge than it already was. I think I might be able to get my laptop to work if I plug a monitor in it, but for now I don’t have the energy to dig back behind the desktop’s tower to find the monitor chord so I can test that theory. Plus, a new monitor’s not in the budget right now any more than a new computer.

Thankfully, all of my most important files were either stored in the cloud or in my public drive, so I can still get to them. The problem is, all of my graphic design software is on the laptop, and so is Scrivener, the program I use to write all my fiction and create my e-books. I guess I’m going to have to do some maintenance and clean up some memory on the desktop so I can install those programs here.

The laptop was also pretty much functioning as our TV, so… that sucks. Not that we don’t have an actual TV, but with no cable or satellite, or DVR, we relied a lot on Internet streaming to keep up with our shows. We can still watch them back here in the office, I guess. It just won’t be nearly as comfortable as snuggling up on the sofa with the laptop.

On discipline — or the lack thereof.

Lately, I have been suffering from a lack of discipline in my life. And I do mean suffering. As if my sporadic attempts at growing my WIP’s word count weren’t bad enough, I also keep failing to do basic good-for-my-health things like establishing an exercise routine or eating enough vegetables or getting to bed at a reasonable hour. All of this failure is leaving me feeling run-down and foggy-brained and blah, and it’s certainly not making me want to write during my allotted writing times, so of course you can see how it’s a whole vicious cycle.

Just as I keep starting out the week with good writing intentions and some actual productivity, I also start every week with excellent health intentions and manage to make myself work out and eat salads and avoid sugar or too much caffeine. But then I blow it on the not staying up too late part, after which I’m too tired to exercise and I need extra caffeine and I start craving starches and sugar.

Ostensibly, when I stopped going to bed super-early with my husband and started keeping later hours, it was to give myself more time to write and work on writing- & publishing-adjacent  tasks, and also to read before I turned in. Originally, I set myself a strict 11:30 bedtime, and it was all working out pretty great. But then my night-owl proclivities started getting the better of me, and I started going to bed later and later.

Part of the problem is that I started catching up on my “just me” shows — the ones Matt has no interest in watching with me — after he turns in, instead of trying to cram them all in on the weekend. At least this shouldn’t be a problem much longer, what with the TV season winding down. Half the shows I watch are having their season finales next week, and the other half will wrap up the following week. Then maybe I’ll be able to get some work done in the evenings and get myself to bed on time. Unless I cave into temptation to start marathoning some new shows. Or some old ones. I’ve already got my eye on a summer re-watch of both Buffy and Farscape.

At any rate, today I worked out AND ate my vegetables AND added just short of 500 words to Radium Town. Except about half of that was recreating the part of yesterday’s word count that somehow got eaten by Scrivener. I’d post a snapshot, but Scrivener still keeps acting wonky and freezing things up, and besides, I’m still on the dinner party that doesn’t end, so I’ll wait until I have something more novel to post than Agent Blake’s sparkling dinner conversation.

Now I’m going to see if I can watch my shows (Warehouse 13 and Agents of SHIELD) and get myself to bed at a decent hour for a change.

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