London Calling

I’m going to London! I’m going to London!

I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl.

The Airbnb is booked.

The airline tickets are purchased.

I only have to wait 171 days to get on that plane.

The one and only time I have left the United States is to go to Panama in late 2016 and it was not a happy trip. I was there to bring my ill father back to the United States and it was filled with nursing duties, along with desperate trips to the U.S. Embassy and Immigration to deal with my dad’s expired visa.

This trip will be FANTASTIC.

As I was cleaning a client’s house on Friday, I decided to listen to back episodes of the Self Publishing Show and when the host said that they were going forward with a one-day writer’s conference in London on March 9th and only charging 30 pounds per ticket, I knew I had to go.

I bought a ticket to the conference and began scouting Airbnb’s as well as plane tickets. At first, I was focused on bringing the whole family, hang the expense – me, my husband, and our two daughters, one of which is still our foster daughter (although we hope to adopt her soon).

Friends, and my husband, all talked me out of it. The hubs wanted a romantic getaway for two, and my friends asked me, “Think about how long that flight is. She’ll be four and bored out of her mind.”

Good point.

And then I thought of the other trip I want to take in 2020 – a two-week affair that includes swinging by family in Seattle as well as San Francisco in our Airstream. I’m sure we could find other fun places to stop at along the way.

If just my hubby and I go in March, then we would have more than enough funds to do the two-week trip in the fall 2020, with both the girls, right before school started.

The conference is for one day, and we will be there for a full week. Plenty of time to get a ton of sightseeing in, along with a delight of foods to feast upon.

London is calling…and I have answered with a “Hell, yes!”

All Hail the Ticking Clock

I thought I was done with biological clocks when menopause set in. It had been loud, insistent, and overwhelming at times. At the age of 46, almost 47, the biological ticking clock had silenced, and in a lot of ways, I didn’t miss it at all.

But in its place came another clock.

Retrieving my dad from Panama when he fell ill, and bringing home to live with us for two plus years before transferring him to a nursing home, was a huge change for all of us.

It was also an enormous wake-up call for me.

I had always considered my dad to be quite intelligent, so I was dumbfounded by his lack of planning. He had no savings to speak of, was dependent on his only source of income, a meager amount from the Social Security Administration, and he was incapable of caring for himself any longer.

It struck me, hard, especially as I realized that my own health was at risk. I was edging closer and closer to Type 2 diabetes, and I could see firsthand what ignoring those risks had done to him. I needed to lose weight, get my blood sugar under control, and above all, get a plan in place for years and decades left in front of me.

My biological clock had been replaced with the “you’re going to get old and die” clock. And this bitch was a loud metronome, ticking down the moments of my life like the hand of doom had been set firmly on my shoulder. I began to ask myself, sometimes daily, what vision I had for the future. What would my life be like in five years? In ten? In twenty?

We had little or no savings, no real retirement plan, and at some point, my body will fail me – so cleaning houses would not always be something I could do, even if I did want to do it for years and years, which I really don’t. It has been a wonderful opportunity to make good money and dictate my own schedule. Frankly, I could double my income quite easily if I wanted, but instead, I’ve kept my client list low and turned away work so that I could instead have time to homeschool my daughter and write my books.

My dreams of making solid money writing books were constantly being interrupted and delayed by the housecleaning business, but the savings weren’t growing as fast as I would like.

Coincidentally, a few years back, a neighbor started running an Airbnb out of part of his large old house. I was fascinated by the idea, and Cottage West (which we had purchased in 2014) was the perfect place for us to create a short term rental.

The plan has taken many twists and turns, but I’m excited because the last month of hard, HARD work has taken us most of the last leg of the journey. This morning, after waking up still hazy from a bit too much wine (I rarely drink, so it really hits me hard when I do), there in one of the newly appointed bedrooms of Cottage West, I realized a couple of things.

  1. That ticking clock might have been loud, but more than anything, it has been effective. I’ve lost ten pounds in the past two months.
  2. My vision of a home revitalized from a decrepit house with raccoons as nightly guests has become instead, a beautiful, welcoming home for future guests.
  3. Just because I can’t do it all myself, doesn’t lessen the fact that I had the vision in the first place, and that’s a powerful thing.
  4. This is just the beginning. We have finish work to do to make the house ready for guests, and that will take a couple of weeks at most, but then I want to focus on several more areas (see below). My dream is far from complete, but it is well thought out.
  5. I’ve achieved a decent balance – I set aside all writing priorities in August, and honestly, I’ll probably do the same for September. I need to get the income flowing in. Once I have a decent rhythm in place, I want to sink back into my writing, dig my toes into it, and return to creating. The Airbnb income will give me that freedom. And if I handle it right, it might just give me the freedom to also stop cleaning houses and just focus on managing the Airbnb’s and writing!

The ticking clock in my head requires, nay, demands that I acknowledge my mortality. At the age of 49 years, the chance that I have already lived more than half of my years is a distinct possibility. Now I must focus on what the quality of the next half of my life will be like. It has felt like a race up until now, but I am hoping that as Cottage West begins to function smoothly as an Airbnb (and bring in good money) that I will be able to slow down a little.

I talked to my husband and said, “I see what we need to do so clearly, but I don’t want this to be a punishing race like the last three months have been (first building the front fence and then putting every minute we could spare into Cottage West). How about we discuss objectives for each month so that we have a project, one that moves us forward, but it isn’t an all-consuming ‘git er done’ kind of thing?”

He agreed, and so we continue, in approximately this order:

  1. Finish the main level of Cottage West and place it on Airbnb, VRBO, et cetera.
  2. Have contractor run PEX lines up to attic for a half bath (toilet and sink).
  3. Get Airstream into refurbisher and get it ready to Airbnb
  4. Re-do front entry pathway, side path, fire pit circle, and pathway to Airstream all in brick and mortar.
  5. Open Airstream up for rent on Airbnb and VRBO, et cetera.
  6. Finish out the attic in Cottage West to turn into a 3rd bedroom and half bath for guests. Rent it out on Airbnb, VRBO, et cetera.
  7. Clear out Cottage West basement and seal it so it is dry and not musty. Run electrical, plumbing and create a one bedroom, one bath, living/kitchen layout. Once a path to the back has been laid, open it up as a separate Airbnb.
  8. Begin work on Cottage East to create a four bedroom, 3 1/2 bath Airbnb on the main/upstairs levels that will have two full ensuites along with two bedrooms that share a bathroom. Also work on creating a basement ensuite with a separate entrance.

This is a long-term plan and we won’t be done with everything until around mid-2022. And these plans aren’t all about making money. It is also about creating our future. We are putting into place a legacy for our daughter Em (and our foster daughter if we are able to adopt her). I know too that if we have regular income coming in, where only basic management is needed, that I can finally relax, stop worrying about the ticking clock and our cash flow and instead focus on writing.

Heck, eventually, I hope to hand over the management of the Airbnb’s to someone else so that I can fully focus on writing and life here at home. A business that, with little effort or time from us, will run itself.

The other day I asked myself what it would be like if all I had to do was write – no more homeschool, no more cleaning houses (except, possibly, the ones I own).

I imagined waking up each morning and practicing yoga, meditating, and then filling my day with bouts of writing interspersed with house and home and regular exercise. It felt kind of perfect, to be honest. A future hard-won, but well worth living.

Also, when we are older, do we really want to live in this big old house and deal with stairs every day? Or would it be better to live on one level, in Cottage West, and even have a possible live-in help situation where someone with nursing experience could live in the basement apartment?

I refuse to ignore the future and I hope to plan for it as best as I possibly can. I don’t want to be a burden to my daughter, or blithely go about with no concern about where I will end up. That is a recipe for disaster – one that my father has to live with each day.

The future I dream of includes writing and publishing many more books. Of that I am sure.

Here’s hoping that once we have Cottage West in action, the ticking clock will quiet down a little. I’m ready for a little more peace and quiet!

Transitions

Emily at Apple Camp on The Plaza this summer

“I think I might want to go to school this year.”

It took me by surprise.

A few minutes later and my mind was reeling. I had been in the middle of homeschool planning, a host of nonfiction history books for middle schoolers were already in the mail, my membership with our homeschool co-op had been paid for just that morning, and I had a list of documentaries I wanted to focus on for monthly viewing.

I had hit that high that I get as the ideas of what to teach and what to cover start to energize me and I begin to look forward to what we will learn in the school year to come.

The feeling pretty quickly fades. I’m good at some aspects of teaching, but I suck at others. And while it might seem strange, the subjects that I am good at (English, Writing, Spelling), I think I’m pretty terrible at teaching – and the subjects I suck at (Math, History), I’m actually pretty good at teaching.

Experimenting with her latest concoction in the Art Room

Yet still.

I sat for a moment feeling bereft and Em saw it and asked if I was okay with it. “We can homeschool, if you really want to.” She said it with a worried look on her face.

“No, baby,” I told her and smiled, my heart expanding in my chest. “Just give me a few minutes to adjust, and I’ll be okay. I love you and if this is what makes you happy then we should absolutely do it.”

I got up from bed where I had been browsing Netflix, sat down at my desk, and dug in. I didn’t just want to send her to public school, I wanted to send her somewhere where she could continue to blossom, a charter school, that focused on areas she was interested in.

Hogwarts Camp this summer

It took about an hour for me to find some decent contenders…

  • Crossroads Middle School
  • Citizen of the World
  • Kipp Preparatory Academy

As I whittled it down to just two (Citizen of the World unfortunately only goes up to 6th grade this year), I began to get excited. My sadness vanished as I imagined her going to either Kipp or Crossroads, especially Crossroads, and meeting new friends, and even walking back to my husband’s work each day after school since she will only be a couple of blocks away.

I imagined what my days would be like, especially once the Airbnb income replaces the need for me to clean houses, and I found myself smiling at the thought of the three other members of my family departing the house at the same time in the morning and returning together in the afternoon. How nice that would be to have hours to write, handle housework, and manage the Airbnb properties.

It was one thing I didn’t have to put off – the writing – in order to be present and available for Em during the weekdays. I wouldn’t have to try to balance enough schooling with sneaking in some writing time.

When I became pregnant with Em, I was in the middle of my first semester at UMKC. The first, and only, semester.

I have zero regrets over dropping out of college to have her, and stay with her, these past 12, almost 13 years. She is an amazing girl who is loved by so many, and, even in the throes of adolescence, is full of confidence, kindness, and is well-grounded.

I look at our little family and know that having an intact household, with a mom and a dad who love her, having all the wonderful things we have in our lives, and in this past year a younger sister, has all helped make her into the wonderful person that she is.

Goofy kid!

The sadness of her wanting to go to school was momentary, fleeting, and it turned into happiness at the thought that she was able to verbalize the request and that I was able to hear it not as a rebuke or vote of no confidence, but as a reminder that she is growing and is capable of going out into the bigger world.

The applications are in, and now we wait for one of the schools to contact us. Until then we are doing “homeschool lite.” I hope it is Crossroads. It would be perfect – location-wise, curriculum, and even the athletics department. Above all, I want her to be happy. When I told her that, she laughed.

“Mama, you don’t want me to be ‘just happy’ – because if that were true, I’d never have to clean my room.”

Em with her latest baby, a kitten we named Spice (we have what we believe is her older sister, Sugar, aged 2 years as well)

Okay, kid. You got me there. I want you mostly happy. With a clean room to go along with it!

Me, after Little Miss added a hat that is a little bit on the small side!

Everything is On Hold…and that’s A-OK!

Do you ever get to the point where you just stop and think, “Why am I doing it this way? It’s making everything way harder!”

That realization struck me in two different moments this week.

Example #1: Nope, We Don’t Need an Extra Loan

As we have edged closer and closer to finishing the project of turning a 900 square foot bungalow into a welcoming and safe Airbnb for guests, we have had unexpected expenses.

Life is like that, after all. Just when you think you had covered all the bases, something rears its ugly head to divert you from your straight line. In this case, it was a 100+ year old cottonwood tree, the last cottonwood on our property and the biggest. It is at least 80 feet tall and sits in back of Cottage West.

One day, I was working at Cottage West shortly after a spate of rainy days and noticed that it seemed…dark…and overly green in the back of the house. It turned out that a HUGE limb and broken off and landed on the roof. We were suddenly faced with the fact that we needed that giant cottonwood out of there, and it was going to cost a pretty penny.

I was so used to paying off our credit cards each month in full and mega-paying towards other debts so that we didn’t have to pay finance charges, that it never even occurred to me that perhaps, I could just pay less on the credit cards (oh no, a little bit of interest instead of 0% interest!) and afford it.

Example #2: Stop Writing, Focus on Finishing Cottage West

The second lesson hit yesterday as I sat down in front of my computer and stared at the screen. After all, my short story for August was almost done. I had already written 7,000+ words. I knew where it was going, I just needed to finish it.

But as I read the words on the screen and tried to type, my mind filled with the following…

I wonder how long each of the tasks we listed in our “to do” list will take?

I need to find some seating for the nook in the attic.

Should I add paneling to the sides of the attic stairwell going up?

And so on.

Finally, I stood up and accepted reality. This too can wait. It can wait for one month until Cottage West is finished and up and available on Airbnb.

It can wait.

We are in the home stretch. The colors of the walls in the different rooms make me smile. I feel a fierce joy run through me. Pride, a sense of accomplishment, and the realization that, together with my husband, I am making my dream of restoring a sad and neglected house to one of functionality and joy is almost here.

Five years. Hard work. Scrimping. Saving. Dealing with unscrupulous contractors. Mistakes. Learning curves. And a hell of a lot of sweat.

Cottage West is coming soon and I have a “to do” list today that consists of:

  • Go by Dirty Don’s and find some deals for Cottage West and our house
  • Floors Direct – purchase hexagon tile and grout for bathroom
  • Clean and then paint clawfoot bathtub
  • Clean and paint molding in house (I won’t get it all done today, but I’ll make significant progress
  • )
  • Work on decorating the old windows in order to hang them in the west exposure windows (so folks don’t have to look at the decrepit house next door)
  • Find a pedestal sink on FB Marketplace
  • Find vintage metal chairs to spray paint and put on back and front porches

The writing is on hold, and that’s a-okay. Because by the time I’m done, I’m going to have a masterpiece that will be earning us money like nobody’s business. Stay tuned!

p.s. Here is my master “to do” list, along with the estimated hours to complete. Because I’m THAT kind of planner!

To Do’sEst. time to complete (in hours)
Finish painting ceilings in all areas of the house2
Install Beadboard (walls and ceiling) back porch3
Paint back porch2
Install flooring in bathroom6
Clean and paint tub and feet3
Put tub and fixtures in2
Have Robert finish plumbing in bathroom0
Paint cabinets and doors6
Install bead board inside of backs of built-ins and
paint interior
3
Refinish floors24
Hang/install lights8
Install washer and dryer1
Paint molding20
Install molding throughout house6
Install kitchen cabinets & appliances8
Install wall box in living room for burglar alarm3
Furnish & decorate8
Add molding to exterior door in back2
Add vinyl lattice to front deck1
Paint sections of front porch roof white1
Install new door knob sets on bedrooms,
bathroom, and sunroom doors
8
Add keyless entry to front door2
Add cabinets, “built- in” bookshelves, and bead
board rest of attic (walls and ceiling)
10
Install beadboard in stairwell to attic?3
Remove door alarm from door that leads to
back porch
0.5
Total Hours:132.5

Bad Facebook! No Money for You!

Short and sweet – Facebook is acting like an angry parent and I’m absolutely boondoggled.

Yesterday, while reading Help! My Facebook Ads Suck!, the author advised that I NOT post an image of my book cover, but instead post an image that is evocative of the book yet eye-catching.

This month’s marketing assignment is to sell more copies of Hired Gun using Facebook ads and so I’ve been mucking along doing okay, but not great using the book’s cover as my ad image.

So I decided to take the book’s advice and see if I couldn’t pull in more sales with a couple of different ads.

The first one looks like this:

That one, with all the cleavage and the dollar slot? That was approved.

Here’s #2…

This one was denied. I appealed and they stated, “This ad isn’t running because it can’t promote adult products or services that highlight sexual pleasure.”

Um, seriously? Because, if you look at the photo. SHE HAS CLOTHES ON!!!!!

“Dear Prude, remove stick from ass and approve ad.”

Oh wait, that might get me banned. Okay, I’ll just re-submit the ad and use this picture…

Traditions That Carry On

FD stands for Feather Drop, a male fairy who is an adventurer (according to Em)

Traditions can be something you look forward to, or simply endure. Holiday meals are often the latter, but the tradition I’m going to tell you about today is one that anyone can get behind and look forward to.

Years ago, over 20 now, I moved with my eldest child from California, where she had lived all of her eight years, to Missouri. It was a huge change – one that meant she didn’t see her dad regularly. A new school, new friends, new everything. I worried about her, a lot.

While I heaved a huge sigh of relief that he was no longer in my life, doing his best to sabotage the mother-daughter relationship, I knew that she couldn’t see his manipulations for what they were, mean-hearted and selfish and hurtful, she only knew that she missed him.

There are many ways in which you can help your kids through hard times. I made it a point to take her on dates where we would go to the movies and eat dinner at a restaurant, just the two of us. And I talked to her, asked her questions, and did what I could to help her through the challenges of 4th grade in a new school and both of us living with my mom.

The idea of creating an alter ego, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Why not create a magical creature who could make my girl smile, go on adventures, and feel super-special, all at once?

So I invented Iliana Llorena Elfling. And not just any elfling, but one that lived with her mother, her grumpy uncle and annoying cousin. Iliana’s world was very different from my daughter’s, and yet had striking similarities. She missed her dad, loved nature, and had a great sense of humor.

We corresponded on and off for around five years. My goal had been to connect with my child on a level that was different from our daily mother/daughter relationship. To that end, I think I succeeded. And while we didn’t delve very deeply into the more painful issues, the life and dad she had left behind, we did indulge in a very special world, where drums are made of snakeskin, elflings and fairies are real, and life has a little magic in it.

Those days are long gone. But around 3-4 years ago, Em discovered the journal that we had written in and asked if she too could have someone special like that. She knew it was me, just as her sister had, and yet she still wanted it.

I created Whip, Snap, and Per – a trio of fairies who were living in our new yard near downtown Kansas City. We didn’t correspond as much as my eldest and I had, but Em’s needs were not what her sister’s were. She has a whole family with dedicated, loving parents. And while she did get uprooted, moving from Belton to Kansas City at the age of 6 1/2 years, her life is very different from what her sister’s was.

And then we decided that we would have “just one more” – only with me being post-menopausal, that meant fostering and, hopefully, adoption. And for the past 15 months, we have shared our lives with a lovely, and challenging toddler. Now three-and-a-half years old, the age of creativity is upon us.

Last weekend, when it was raining and generally impossible to work outside on the front fence my husband and I have been building, I instead focused on our Art Room, a small room off of the dining room on our main level. I rearranged it, and created three different workstations, one for each of the girls and one for myself. And the girls have LOVED it. This also prompted Em to resurrect what is now, indubitably, a family tradition.

By creating Feather Drop, she has cemented fully the tradition of creativity, dreams, and magic into our family. This included finding a special box to put fairy treasures in, and organizing a scavenger hunt in the garden for her little sister.

Where will this family tradition lead us?

Hopefully to love. Whether it is at the beginning or the end, it is all that really matters.

Learning to Accept “Not Right Now”

There are so many things I want to do. Places I want to visit, experiences I want to have. There are books I want to write, a life I hope to have.

But there is also that big ole reality check. Reality check says, “Sure, you can go to Europe, once you have the money.”

Aw crap, just sunk another $20k into house renovations so that Cottage West will be another step closer to finished.

I’ve been learning to accept “not right now” for a long time. All my life, really.

But it is that delicate balance between “not right now” and “not ever.”

“Not right now” is planting the iris and waiting for the plants to emerge, to multiply, and eventually spill from their borders.

“Not right now” is planting that stick and waiting for it to turn into a tree.

“Not right now” is putting on a new roof, and windows because then it won’t leak. It’s not earning money, but it isn’t costing me additionally in damages through weather and raccoon infestations.

I wanted this year to be the year I broke out and started writing full-time. I wanted it to be “the end to cleaning houses is in sight” year.

I wanted this year to be the “I wrote three books in one year!”

The reality is that in the next few weeks, I’m going to be so busy painting, hanging cabinets, re-installing molding, hanging curtains, refinishing an old door, and countless other things, that writing two more books this year is not going to happen.

Instead, I’m going to focus on:

  • My health – getting this damned A1C down to a normal level, stretching, yoga, meditation, and regular cardio exercise in order to lose weight
  • Short stories – I have nine of them I need to write – six to finish out the rest of the year and three more for next year’s monthly newsletters
  • Cottage West – I need it up and running and earning us money. Who knows? If it succeeds fantastically, it might make the difference between me having to clean houses and just running the Airbnb properties!
  • Yard/Home – I’ve got a couple of art projects (Van Gogh bathroom ceiling and decorative windows) and also a section of the yard I hope to develop into a orderly (and expansive) herb garden next year. I’ve also begun studying landscaping, but I’ll really dive in next year with more and more perennial varieties I haven’t ever seen before.
  • Family – It’s summer, and it is time to go to the water parks, the pools, and more. Maybe we will go on hikes, explore more of Cliff Drive, and just get out and about more. I want to spend time with my daughters
  • Marketing – Continue to learn how to market my books effectively and in a financially savvy way.

That’s a heck of a list, folks. I’m going to continue to plan, plot, and tease those future books out of my brain and onto paper, but this will not be the “I wrote three books this year” year.

Maybe next year.

The Death of Toast (and other sad tales)

Last September, I had health insurance and finally was able to schedule an appointment with a new doctor – a full physical. She looked at my A1C numbers and said, “You are dangerously pre-diabetic. You need to lose weight, change your diet, start taking Metformin – if you don’t you are looking at full-blown Type 2 diabetes.”

I started on the smallest dose of Metformin, 500 mg, made some effort to go towards a keto diet and marched back in three months later, sure that my A1C would be back down into the acceptable range.

It wasn’t.

It remained at the same number – 6.2

We doubled my dose of Metformin, which has played hell on my bowels, and then my dad was moved to a nursing home and I, well, I fell off the keto bandwagon hard. Hell, I had missed eating carbs, and my homemade ice cream. I had hated having to hide the junk food so Dad couldn’t find it.

But with a doubled dose of Metformin, surely that would bring my A1C levels down, right? At least, that is what I reasoned. My hopes were dashed today as my doc shook her head.

“Your A1C level is 6.1”

No more toast for me. Worse, no more rice. No more sweets. Not at all. I mentioned that I made my own ice cream and used half sugar, half xylitol in it. “I’ll make it with all xylitol from now on.”

She shook her head. “You need to eradicate all sugar from your diet. That includes the artificial sweeteners,” she said. “You need to get your body to NOT be used to sweets.”

Cue the gif of Snoopy wailing here.

No more ice cream?

No more toast?

No more homemade bread?

I read somewhere recently, perhaps in The Obesity Code by Jason Fung, that you can look at consuming sugar like a big jar. When you are born, the jar is empty. Every time you eat sugar, it adds up in the jar, and once it is full, that’s it, no more sugar! Any time you do consume it, it’s spilling over and causing havoc.

And that is what my sugar is doing. Spilling over.

I had asked the doc if at the level I’m at now, 6.2 or 6.1, if that number is causing damage to my organs. She thought about it for a moment and nodded, “Yes, it is.”

So the friggin’ sugar jar is full. If I don’t want to continue to damage my body, if I don’t want to end up with vascular dementia from a crapload of mini-strokes like my dad, or fatty liver disease (another side effect of diabetes and I’ve had some higher than normal numbers here as well), then I need to do something drastic.

  • Lose weight
  • Eliminate sugar and carbs
  • Exercise

And I need to do it now.

Weird Headspace + Multiple Projects = ???

I think that is the weirdest headline I’ve ever written. But my brain is busy trying to figure something out, perhaps multiple things out, so…

Weight Loss

Around six months ago or so, I mentioned we were going keto. We did it for a few months, but it just never really took with me. So I’ve stopped, especially since my dad is now in a nursing home and I’m not having to hide food and watch every carb that goes into the grocery basket.

The other day I listened to a very interesting TED Talk by Peter Attia, which then led me to his website and podcast The Drive, which, as things do, led me to buying The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung.

To make a long story short, I skipped to the sections of the book where he tackles what to eat and when to eat and read quite a bit about fasting. I had been mis-labeling my husband’s approach to weight loss as “starvation” when it really was fasting. During the weekdays, he fasts for two out of three meals. On the weekends, he eats 2-3 meals per day. Dr. Fung really explained this well, along with some widespread myths that I had clung to my entire life.

As a result, I’m making the following changes to my daily routine:

  • Eliminating as much processed/refined sugar as humanly possible
  • Reducing and eventually eliminating as many artificial sweeteners as possible too (I already use stevia, but he gave some good arguments for discontinuing this as well)
  • Fasting by skipping breakfast and, on days I think I can handle it, lunch as well
  • Limiting my carbs intake

Today, for example, I hope to make it to dinner time with just a coffee, a big cup of chai tea, and water. We’ll see how it goes.

Something is Wrong

I’ve been putzing along, NOT writing 750 words, and barely progressing in the first book of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan. My goal to move it from 3rd person to 1st is almost done, but it’s hanging in at just under 50k word count, which is NOT a full book, merely a novella at this point.

Something is wrong with it. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but it’s definitely throwing me off my game. Every time I sit down to write, I get the “something is wrong” feeling and cannot seem to progress.

Is it the dreaded Resistance rearing its head to stop me from progressing?

Is there something abysmally wrong with the story?

I don’t know.

I’ll figure it out, but having it not flow, having those weird unsettling feelings does not lend itself to forward momentum. Perhaps I should write in something else, I’m not sure.

All the Rest That Pulls at Me

Right now, it isn’t hot. It’s wonderful out. These regular rainfalls have allowed me to transplant a moat of mint against the east wall of my house, something that became rather immediately necessary when I discovered we had been invaded by ants. Ants hate mint, and the mint was already growing in the wrong place, so it made sense to gently tug it out of the ground and move it (in large handfuls) to the wall that is in the dog yard.

I absolutely love working in my yard right now. It is the perfect time to be moving plants, laying brick pathways, and pulling weeds. After we finish hauling off at least one more load of brush and then another of junk to the dump, we will be ready to build a fence along the front of the property.

And then there is Cottage West – with the insulation done yesterday and the drywall guy due soon, our project is quickly approaching a time when I will need to spend every waking moment over there – painting, hanging cabinets, laying tile, refinishing the wood floors, decorating, and putting the finishing touches on it so we can begin offering it as an Airbnb. The sooner it is in use, the sooner we can begin planning/saving for the Hight House in Belton’s upgrade in Summer 2020 or finishing the work on Cottage East.

My head isn’t in the writing game. As much as I try to bend it that way, it just isn’t. I’m trying, but there is so much, so much, SO MUCH. All of it important.

I find myself wondering if I’m really a writer. Maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m still just a hobbyist.

Somehow, I’ll make it all work out.

When in Doubt…

Sometimes it feels like life is a constant start/stop of projects, ideas, and more. I feel so wishy washy, can’t I just settle on ONE plan and be done with it?

But life isn’t linear. Just when I have a good groove going with winter, spring pops up. And the gardener in me, cannot sit still and write. Instead, I’m out in the garden, dreaming of landscaping, flowers, paths, fences and more.

I fall down internet rabbit holes and spend hours paging through plants, birdbath options, and ideas for ponds.

And then, as summer edges in, and the heat starts (it will be 92 today, thank you very much!), I come back to myself and realize…

That this is NOT going to happen unless I get my crap together.

So I listed out the problems:

And then came up with some possible solutions…

I’ve also put myself on a spending freeze. I’m addicted to Facebook Marketplace, and I’m always finding gorgeous pieces of furniture, an old-fashioned mailbox I wanted for Cottage West, and so much more. That has to stop. I have to focus on what is important – getting more books out there, and marketing the ones I currently have out effectively.

A compromise. At this point, committing to write 1,000 words per day seems like too much. But writing 500 seems almost too little. Therefore, 750 words is a good in between number of words.

So, when in doubt, list it out.

The updated due dates

And hey, I’ll be 49 tomorrow! I’m entering the half-century mark of my existence on Earth. My oh my, how time does fly!