Winning, Recovery and Other Odds & Ends

…or, “Where the *@%! Has Jean Been?!”

November was a heck of a month, y’all. As if NaNoWriMo wasn’t enough to keep me busy, about a week and a half into that my freelance business started to pick back up, and before I knew it I had more clients and projects than I knew what to do with. Not that I’m complaining. And then I got sick with the creeping crud, that annoying sickness that isn’t bad enough to give you a good excuse to curl up in bed and do nothing for a couple of days, but just bad enough to slow you down and make you miserable. I actually went about a week without writing anything for NaNoWriMo, because it was all I could do to keep up with my freelance workload before I ran out of steam and had to go fall into a Nyquil coma to get ready to do it all again the next day.

Which meant that I got to spend the last week of November writing my butt off. I almost didn’t bother. I came really close to dropping out of the race after that week I spent not writing. After all, by this point I had already finished my novel, and I still had another 25,000 words to go, and there it was Thanksgiving already. But CreateSpace would be giving the winners five free copies of their novels on top of a free proof, and I kept thinking of all of the promotions I could afford to do with five free paperback copies of Dominion at my disposal, and that was a big enough carrot to get me moving again. So somehow I managed to write another 25,000 words between Thanksgiving and November 30th and pull off a win. Don’t ask me how I did it because I don’t even know.

And yes, you read that right — I FINISHED Dominion of the Damned! Now I’m going to take the month of December off to let my brain recover and recharge while my husband and my BFF both give it a first read, then I’ll commence revisions in January. Allowing time for beta readers to read the second draft and another pass to fix any issues they come up with and take care of formatting, I’m hoping to have it available by March.

In the last few days since finishing Nano, I’ve been working on client projects and trying to catch up on sleep. My only big non-work-related goal right now is to clean my house and decorate it for Christmas. And continue catching up on sleep, because I’m not there yet.

How was your November? If you were doing NaNo, did you win? And how was your Thanksgiving?

Early Birds

I have a confession: I haven't written anything on Dominion in over a week. There's really no excuse, other than that my mojo has been seriously off since my dog had a seizure last Sunday night and we rushed him to the animal ER. Pete's fine (though possibly epileptic), but that event set off a chain-reaction wherein we had to get up early (oh SO early) on Monday morning to pick him up from the hospital and take him to his regular vet, which took up half the day, and recovering from sleep deprivation took up the rest of it, and meanwhile my husband decided that this was a perfect opportunity to turn our night-owl habits around and start getting up earlier EVERY day.

Y'all. We had night-owl habits because WE ARE NIGHT OWLS. This comes naturally to us, and I don't see any reason to fight nature, especially since neither of us has the kind of job that forces us to do so. But Matt's determined, and he keeps waking up earlier, and when he wakes up, Pete wakes up, and then Pete has to be sure to wake ME up. And as much as I have fantasized about what it would be like to be a morning person and get up early and knock all of my work out and have the rest of the day to relax and do fun stuff, the fact is that I am just not wired that way. It certainly doesn't help that now I'm forced to take a Benadryl every night to help me doze off in time to get a decent night's sleep.

So I'm still trying to adjust to our new schedule, and figure out how my writing fits into it. You'd think that I could simply do my usual routine in the same order, except earlier, and that this would not be a big deal. But for some reason it hasn't been working out that way. But maybe that's just because I spent the bulk of last week feeling foggy and unfocused and pretty much useless. Now it's a new week, and I'm starting to feel normal again, so hopefully I'll get my new writing routine figured out. I guess I need to do the 250 Words A Day Challenge again to get myself going.

In other news, if you're following my blog tour, in the last two weeks I've been interviewed at QuirkyGurl Media, and I answered a drabble prompt for Helmy Kusuma's blog.

And now I’m going to make myself write 250 words and then go do yard work. IN 75 DEGREE WEATHER, Y’ALL! ??? Fall ???

Long overdue for an update

Hello, Livejournal Land. Sorry I’ve been so quiet over here. For those of you who don’t follow my other blog, I’m still looking for work. Paid work, I should specify; I never have any shortage of work to do around here–just not the kind that pays for my house. We’re not in dire straits yet, though. Between Husband’s student loans and my unemployment benefits, we’ve got a while yet before it’s time to hit the panic button.

In other news, I finished my copy editing course, and I’m making some good contacts and beginning to pad my resume in that area. Pretty soon I’ll have enough work samples to feel confident in sending my resume out to the local papers. But that’s still down the road a little way.

Meanwhile, I’ve been writing. I finished a short story last week, which I’ll be posting here shortly (friends-locked, natch) for your perusal and feedback. If you guys approve, then I’ll shop it around the paying markets. I’m also revising This Old Haunt, my 2007 NaNoWriMo novel. It needs a lot of clean-up, and some plot holes filled in here and there, but overall, I’m pretty happy with it, and I think it has a lot of commercial potential. So I’m feeling good about that.

Finally, I meant to thank y’all for your feedback on the chapbook idea. I definitely want to do that, as soon as I find the time. Of course, I’m probably overthinking it–I suppose I could just throw all of my flash fiction into a PDF and call it a day, but I want to put some thought into the design. I’m still getting the hang of GIMP, though, and that’s slowing me down. It’s not quite as intuitive as Photoshop.

Oh, and speaking of design and of selling things: Husband and I have opened up a Cafe Press shop to showcase the snarky curmudgeon slogans we come up with sometimes when we’re bored. The shop needs to be prettied up, and right now we have the free account, so we can only feature one slogan at a time. The current design says “INFP (Please Go Away)”. The plan is to switch it up with a new slogan every couple of weeks. So please take a look at Common Sense Curmudgeon Tee-shirts & More and see if anything strikes your fancy.

I am trying really, really, REALLY hard to create some semblance of structure and a regular schedule for myself. But in a house with two unemployed, online-class-taking, ADD adults and only one computer, that’s proving to be quite the challenge. I miss you guys, though, and am going to do my best to be around more.

Friday jabber

I did not finish the novel yesterday. Or today, either. Morale at the office has just been too low to be able to focus on it. But there is still the weekend, wherein it will get finished. Oh yes, it will.

I’m hoping to get Husband to take a break long enough, either tonight or tomorrow, to go Christmas tree shopping. He has finals coming up next week, though, so that might not be too likely. Especially since my mom’s coming for dinner tomorrow and he’s cooking. Oh well, at least maybe I can get her to go tree-stand and light shopping with me tomorrow night, so that all Husband will have to do is come with me to the garden center and point at a tree. Although if we picked it out before my mom got there, I’d have somebody to help me unload it off the truck and carry it in, which would be nice. If not, I’m sure Husband will figure out a way to help me, though. He’s usually good at that.

I’d like to start blogging again next week — real blogging, on actual blogs, not rambling away about whatever like I do here–which means I’d like to squeeze in time to tweak my blog designs. Sparkle Motion could stand to be cleaned up and streamlined, and I’m still contemplating a name change. And The Bauhaushold Report needs a full-on re-design, which I probably won’t have time for until my vacation (in two weeks! Yay!). Then again, I’ve still got a ton of knitting to do, and with the cheapskate setting that our thermostat is usually set on, my cold, sluggish fingers are taking longer to get it done than I would like. Since that actually has a deadline, I guess it ought to take precedence over the blog tweaking.

And now I’ve killed enough time that I can duck out of here and head home. Have a great weekend, everybody.

Up and down and around and around

I’m being run through a bit of an emotional wringer today. It started this morning with a terribly upsetting dream about my mom, the details of which I don’t even want to revisit except to say that I had to call her after just to hear her voice and make sure she’s okay. I still won’t be totally over it until I get to hug my mommy.

The middle of the day zoomed to the top of the roller coaster (I’m mixing my metaphors, I’m so wrung out! Except that I usually mix them all up anyway) with a former reader writing and offering to do something really nice for me, just because she enjoyed my little fan fictions. I also did a little self-promotion for …which hasn’t attracted any new readers yet, but hopefully word of mouth will spread once I’ve posted a few chapters.

And then. And then, the benefits meeting. It literally made me cry. Raised premiums, raised copays, $10 copay on generic drugs (whereas currently we don’t have one), and that alone is enough to break us. I also learned that we don’t get paid maternity leave, which may or may not ever be relevant to us, but it still sucks to have to consider that when making the decision. I’m a bit at a loss right now as to what we’re going to do, other than what we usually do, which is to hang in there and hope that it will somehow work out and we’ll be okay.

At least I still HAVE a job with benefits, right?

Things I am thankful for right now

Because what is Thanksgiving without a thankfulness list?

♥ My job, because I need it.

♥ My husband, who is awesome and sweet and handsome and a fantastic cook and who texts me love notes and updates on the pets all day.

♥ Last week’s Survivor, which featured the best Tribal Council EVAR that is still keeping me amused and satisfied almost an entire week later.

♥ Shirtless Sylar scenes (it’s my list. I’m allowed to be shallow).

♥ Being thisclose to finished with my novel OMG!

♥ My mom, who not only gave birth to me, but is also being very patient about me moving my remaining things out of her house.

♥ My mom-in-law, who not only gave birth to the love of my life, but will also feed me some of the finest cornbread stuffing I’ve ever tasted tomorrow.

♥ My house that I can still afford to pay for.

♥ The organic food coop we joined, which turned out to be one of our smarter choices.

♥ Hand lotion.

♥ Having my Christmas shopping list locked up.

♥ Free coffee (even if it is usually awful) and pain relievers and allergy meds at work.

♥ Sanity pills, focus pills, and deep sleep granting pills, even if I do hate taking all those gorram pills.

♥ All of my family and friends, each of whom are wonderful in their own ways.

♥ Our fur-babies, and the fact that Speedy Pete the Wonder Pup is recovering from his surgery nicely, even if he does have to wear a cone on his wee head.

♥ The fact that the cone somehow makes him even cuter.

♥ The abundance of babies in my family, both already here and on the way.

♥ All of the new TV to look forward to next year (Dollhouse! BSG! LOST!).

♥ All of the movies to look forward to next year (Watchmen! Trek! HP!).

♥ My closet full of clothes (and too many shoes), that I need to remember how blessed I am to have when I get depressed about having nothing new to wear.

♥ Home Depot’s 12 month, 0 interest, 0 payments special introductory plan, without which we would have no appliances, and the New Home Buyer’s tax credit that will allow us to pay for them before the year is up. Awesome.

♥ Our new car. It’s the reason we’re stretched so thin right now, but we needed it, and I kind of adore it even without any bells and whistles, and that tax credit will let us pay off the rest of it so we won’t have a car payment anymore. Double-plus awesome.

♥ The internets, without which my life would be very different, and probably not for the better.

You guys. Seriously. I don’t have an abundance of friends, but the ones I do have are tried and true. Some of you guys got me through some really tough times and made me realize the importance of sincere friendship. Your encouragement always means the world to me, even if I don’t always remember to say so, because see previous posts re: my flaky nature. Give yourselves a big ol’ hug for me, please, because you’re too far away for me to do it myself. I love you.

Please have a fantastic Ritual Sacrifice With Pie. And if you’re in Canada, pretend I wrote this last month.

Lamentations & Blatherations

If I don’t learn to make better use of the time I’m given, I’ll never amount to anything.

If I don’t learn to do a better job of making time for the people in my life, eventually I won’t have any people in my life.

To say that we’re one missed paycheck away from homelessness is an exaggeration, but not by much. I need to bring back Personal Finance Blogger Jean. She knew how to stay on top of things.

I haven’t written today, and I kinda don’t think I’m going to.

Writing this was supposed to inspire me to get in gear, but instead it has depressed the bujeezus out of me.

It’s not all that bad.

I had a nice weekend. I did great at Thursday night’s write-in, and ended the day with over 2,000 new words and only 7 scenes left to go. No writing happened Friday, but after taking my puppy to the vet and Pet Smart and picking up our co-op food and coming home to clean house before meeting with a life insurance agent and then going back out to buy groceries, I hung curtains in the living room. I did it by myself, and I really should have waited until Husband got home from band practice because I hung them too low and drilled too many unnecessary new holes in the wall in the process; but since they were already up, I figured I might as well go ahead and de-wrinkle them, which took all the rest of the evening just to do most of one panel, because I had to steam them, because I left the iron at my mom’s house. But the end result is that we have curtains to close over our massive patio doors and keep at least some of the cold out, and that’s the main thing.

It was adoption day that day at Pet Smart, which I didn’t know, and it was very dangerous, and I came thisclose to coming home with a wee orange kitteh in my pocket. You guys, he was seriously the cutest, sweetest kitten I have ever seen. His name was Chevy because he hitched a ride on a Chevy truck and rode about 60 miles before anybody noticed. The only thing that kept me from picking him up and calling him mine, and also George, was Sasha, who is just beginning to get over her puppy shock. If he’s there again next weekend, though, we just might cave, and the Delicate Princess will just have to adjust.

Saturday was slightly less busy. I went with BFF to see The Rat Pack, which I enjoyed more than I expected to. Since BFF’s Mom and a friend got season tickets this year to the same time slot we did, we all went out to eat after, and that was a nice time. BFF’s Mom’s Friend seemed pretty fun, and now we’re all planning a movie night together, and I’m excited for a girl’s night out.

There was another write-in planned for that night, but I ended up not going, because I was stuffed too full of Tilapia and angel hair pasta and tiramisu. But I still wrote, and finished another scene before settling in to knit and watch Serenity. 6 more to go.

Then there was Sunday, aka the most relaxing day I’ve had in a while, which involved light housekeeping and cat box cleaning and two loads of laundry, but also involved sitting around and knitting on Christmas presents for much of the day. I also wrote a bit–just a short scene that I realized I needed from the villain’s POV and typed up before I forgot all about it. So there are still 6 more to go.

And now it’s Monday. Day one of a three-day work week, which is something to be thankful for in and of itself. Pete had to go back to the vet this morning to join the ranks of the testosterone-challenged. They just called to tell me he’s out of surgery and doing great (as great as anyone who just had his boys snipped off can be doing, at any rate), and I bet he’ll be starving when his grogginess wears off.

Now I’m going to distract myself from wanting to go get him and take him home right now by working on a plan to address the first half of this post. I hope the rest of you had weekends that were just as pleasant.

Sniff and sneeze

It’s an incredibly slow day at the office, which would be perfect for running up my word count, except that my allergies are making me absolutely miserable, and that’s all I can seem to think about. So maybe if I let myself whine here a little I’ll be able to suck it up and get to writing. Except, what is there to say about allergy headaches and burning eyeballs other than, “Owww! Please stop!”

Seriously, please? I’d have taken a sick day today if I didn’t already get majorly sick twice last month. There’s no way they’d have believed I wasn’t playing hooky, especially with this being a Friday-off week. So here I am, trying to muster the energy and mental clarity to write and talking myself out of clearing space from under my desk to lie down.

I also talked myself out of going to Starbucks on my lunch hour. The coffee here just isn’t doing anything for me, and Starbucks always perks me up. I don’t know whether it’s the coffee, the exposure to fresh air and daylight, the sugar I always forget to ask them to leave out, or all three combined, but on days like this a Starbucks run usually helps me feel better. But I thought of the expense, both money-wise and calorie-wise, and talked myself out of it, and settled for a diet Dr. Pepper from the 25-cent vending machine downstairs instead, and patted myself on the back for my responsible frugality. And now I’m regretting it, because I still feel like bleah.

Now that that’s off my chest, maybe I can get to work. Write-in’s tonight, and I want to have my word count built up some more before I get there. Besides, it’s stupid to be sitting here clicking refresh on my Google Reader and Friends page when I’m so close to the end. Get it done, Jean, and then get to editing!

Yes ma’am, bossy-pants self. I’ll get on that right now.

A Solid Plan B

We live in scary times, yo. It seems like every day I’m hearing another sad story about someone losing their job, and those stories are beginning to have fewer degrees of separation. The circle is closing in, going from affecting total strangers, to people I kinda-sorta know, to people I know quite well and have worked with until very recently, and while my department isn’t directly threatened, it’s still feeling like time to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst.

My employer has already completely shut down an entire branch office and downsized two departments, and told two more departments that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to brush up on their resumes and networking contacts. The admin staff, meanwhile, was told not to worry, that we would be the last on the chopping block, that it will probably never come to that, that if it did part-timers and temps would be the ones to go, and that the full-timers are safe. Probably. I guess we’re not quite as replaceable as they tried to tell us we were, huh?

I mostly believe them. We’re the least expensive employees, for one. We’re also pretty necessary. We might not be this company’s reason for being, but we are its backbone, and without us everyone else would flail around in a panic, not knowing where to find anything or how to do any of the mundane behind-the-scenes necessities that keep things running smoothly. But then again, stuff happens, and it wouldn’t be the first time I went from being told I was too necessary to be cut to holding a pink slip and trying to figure out how long I could live off of my severance package.

So this time, a little more wizened, I’m not trusting their assurances. This time, if the worst happens, I’ll have a plan to put into action immediately instead of sitting around, dazed and depressed, wondering what the heck I’m going to do next. As soon as my novel’s finished, these are the things I will do to prepare for the possible storm:

1. Sign up for that copyediting course, while I’m still in a position to have the company pay for it.

2. Update my resume.

3. Apply for disability (actually, that’s Husband’s job), and get a plan in place to appeal if his claim is denied.

4. Think of things he could potentially do to bring in money if the disability doesn’t work out for some crazy reason, like maybe they’ve handed out too much money already this year for people with depression or bad backs to be able to help out the guy with one leg (not to disparage anyone with crippling depression or back pain).

5. Hope that Husband’s band is successful and they get lots and lots of paying gigs and sell a lot of CDs and get a record contract and become rich rock stars.

6. Hope that my novel is so successful online that it gets discovered and bought before I even finish editing last year’s NaNo to try to sell.

7. Stop dreaming and start blogging for money again.

8. And stocking my Etsy shop.

9. And culling my stuff for more things to eBay.

10. And writing shorter things to try to sell.

11. Get very familiar with the Virtual Assistant industry.

12. Get very familiar with the freelance networking sites.

13. Get in touch with my contacts at my old temp agencies.

14. Brush up on obscure Word and Excel functions that I never use in case I have to take an Office test again.

15. Pray. A lot.

Oh yeah, my husband’s in a band now.

It’s a Christian rock band. Well, it’s more a rock band made up of Christians, and not so much a band that’s out to write and perform “Christian Rock,” because let’s face it, “Christian Rock” is, for the most part, not good art. They’re not out to evangelize with their music. Rather, they want to make good music with a positive message and an eye toward not causing people to stumble with their lyrics. At any rate, it’s full of talented people who met for the first time only a few weeks ago, and already they’ve written a radio-worthy song. Even so, it’s too soon to tell whether this will ever be anything more than a group of talented people sitting around and jamming together for fun (although with all of the Christian coffee shops and mega churches around here, it shouldn’t be too hard for them to get a gig). Either way, I’m very proud of my rock star husband, even if I don’t get to play bass in his band (darn that total lack of time for practice).

I haven’t written today.

Boo on me. I have a headache, though. I didn’t write in the morning, when I felt fine, because lately the late afternoon has been my most focused and creative time of day. But now my head hurts and I can’t focus on the story and I’m just biding my time until I can go home and lie down. Tomorrow night, though, I’ll attend a write-in, and then I’ll have a long weekend to work on it. A busy weekend, mind–I have appointments and errands all day Friday, and tickets to see a show with BFF on Saturday. But if she has family plans for after the show, as is often the case, then I’ll have another write-in that I can go to while Husband’s at band practice. I hope she can hang out, though. We don’t do nearly enough of that since I got married.

And now it’s close enough to 5:00 that I can go home and crash. See ya.

NaNoNoWriMuchMo

Well, I’m far enough behind that I need to write a little over 2,100 words a day to make 50,000, and so far today’s a wash. I think it’s the weather making me unable to concentrate. I mean that in both a literal and figurative sense, because the political climate change is hard to tear my attention away from for too long. Also, it’s rainy, and I’m sleepy. Yawn.

I’m not getting too stressed about being behind. For one thing, it’s early yet, and last year I didn’t even get started until the second week. For another, I was pointed to Write or Die, of which the Kamikaze setting is truly motivating. It won’t actually kill you, but it will kill your words, which is almost just as bad. I don’t think it’s a good idea to use that setting if I’m writing at the office, though; too many interruptions.

Thursday night I went to a write-in at one of the local universities’ libraries. I almost didn’t make it, because it turned out to be game night (basketball), and Okies tend to be fanatical about their college sports, so the campus was packed with cars and security not letting anybody into parking lots if they didn’t have game tickets. I finally got a security team to let me park near the library, but the way to the library from there was under construction. Another NaNoer pulled in and parked right as I did, so together we ducked under string and stumbled over stray wood and chunks of concrete and wet gravel and hit one dead-end after another, before we FINALLY ran into yet another NaNoer who knew where the aych she was going. She’s probably the reason I wrote that night, because I was thisclose to going back to my car and going home to watch Supernatural.

But thanks to her I found my way into the library, and we were escorted to the very top floor and a room that reminded me enough of the Sunnydale High library that I was very happy to be writing there. Except that instead of writing I wanted to pour through all of the old books lining the shelves to identify which demon tore up the path from the parking lot. Nobody else was up for that, though, so I hushed up and wrote, and had a pretty decent output before were all kicked out. I found a much more sensible way back to the parking lot, but the campus was kind of deserted at that point (and my parking buddy from before had already left for work) and kind of spooky. I, being already in a Buffy frame of mind (as if I’m ever NOT), distracted myself by pretending to be a Slayer patrolling the campus for vampires. Except with a can of pepper spray instead of a stake. But no vampires (or muggers) got between me and my car, and I made it home safely.

I managed just a little over 1,200 words over the weekend, but I also put together a microwave cart and organized my kitchen and my living room chachkes and awesomely rocked this recipe, so I will cut myself some slack.

Today, however, work is almost over, and then I’m going to the gym, and then I know all I’ll want to do at home is watch Terminator and Heroes, even though I know perfectly well I could wait for the weekend to watch Heroes online and I wouldn’t really miss it; and then it will be time to get ready for bed. So now I’m going to force myself to end this post that I totally started just to procrastinate on the other kind of writing, and go do that other, and not leave the office until I’ve hammered out at least half of my quota. Scout’s honor (not really).