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!

Shopping Won Over Writing Today

Em came running with the book, “I HAVE to have this!” and then how could I resist a “no mess” coloring kit for the little one?

I should be writing. This week is a “light” week when it comes to cleaning houses. Just two of them, and both are relatively quick and easy.

I snapped these up in a hurry – vintage Coca Cola boxes – just $10 each! I also found a Rubbermaid dish drainer and Em asked for the marshmallows for the party.

So I should be writing.

This gallon of Soy Vay teriyaki sauce was just $2.50. How could I pass it up? I see a lot of stir fry and teriyaki chicken recipes in our future.

But the weather has been so nice. It seems wrong somehow to be hiding inside at my computer.

I’m not much of a martini person, but these enormous mixers were just ten cents apiece. TEN CENTS! Pomegranate martinis for all my friends!

Yesterday, Em and I swept most of the pathways and half of the sidewalks free of the maple helicopter seedlings. Am I the only one, or has it been a heck of a year for those things? What do the maple trees know that we don’t? They were laying down carpets of the damn things.

Churros and chorizo…it’s a thing.

In any case, today I decided to visit a dented can outlet. Ever since my favorite outlet, Discount Groceries and More shut down, I’ve been pining for a place to go find outrageous bargains. Well, I can pine no more, for I have found the mother lode…Dirty Don’s Bargain Center.

The Oyster sauce was four for one dollar. The 2-liter Shasta sodas were all 50 cents each!

Oh…my…goodness.

Em loved the bacon jerky, I annihilated the teriyaki and the Sriracha jerky is for Dave. They were all just $1.75 each.

By the end of it, the cart was full and Em was insisting we needed to leave. Let me say that again, the cart was FULL. I spent just under $100 on what I’m pretty sure was around $600-$800 worth of retail-priced food and household goods. Seriously, take a look at this haul!

“Mama, look! These boxes are only $1.00 each!”
Each box contains eight packages of gum, each package of gum contains 18 pieces. That’s a lot of gum, folks.

I covered the entire butcher block table in the kitchen with food and household goods. Nothing cost more than $3.00 and most of it was for far less.

There is a lovely Orange Chicken recipe that I’ve made that calls for an entire jar of orange marmalade. This marmalade was only 50 cents!

Food expiration dates are not set in stone. Folks often forget that, but it’s true. You often have years more to enjoy a product than what the expiration date indicates.

Made with real cane sugar! On the right, the bacon marmalade, we will be trying that this Saturday. I’m curious to see what it tastes like!

Now, be careful, obviously. If you buy canned goods, be sure that the cans have not begun to bulge or leak.

If you live in the area, go check out Dirty Don’s in Raytown. It’s very close to the stadiums. Next time I go, I’m going to investigate the coolers better. They had all kinds of frozen foods.

Creating Our Family Trust – I Feel Like a Responsible Adult Now!

I had been talking about getting a will together for several years now. With one, possibly two, minor children in our care, having some kind of will or trust was very important.

The doing of it stumped me, though, how could I make sure my wishes were carried out? How could I ensure that my daughter would have a safe home to go to, and that whatever real estate we had was cared for until she came of age and inherited it?

We knew who we didn’t want as a guardian, and who it would be too much of a burden to ask, and I built it up in my mind as harder than it had to be. In the end, it was ridiculously simple. So much so that I wish I had done it years ago.

Did you know that only 36% of Americans with minor children have wills? In fact, even the older Baby Boomer generation is seriously lacking when it comes to wills. Only 58% of them have wills.

Without a will, any property you own goes into probate and your heirs stand to lose a solid chunk of that. You might not think you have a lot, but if you own a home, even if you haven’t paid off the mortgage yet, you have a net worth that’s worth preserving and passing on.

I keep track of every transaction, every savings account, every debt through Quicken. I was dumbfounded to see what we are worth on paper… thanks to owning four homes. Once both of the Cottages are fixed up, we will be worth around $365k. Most of it might be sunk into these buildings, but as the years progress, that number will increase.

We settled on a living trust, which will grow with us as the years pass. It establishes the trust, names executors and guardians, and clearly lays out who inherits. An added bonus is that the lawyer worded it so that if we end up adopting our foster daughter, she will automatically become an heir with her sister.

Even my books, which my heirs retain the rights to until 70 years after my death, are included in this trust. We didn’t have to state who gets what, it will simply go to my daughter, to be disbursed on her 22nd and 30th birthdays in 50% increments. And if we adopt our daughter than of course she will receive an equal share.

Any property we purchase from here on out becomes a simple act of copying the verbiage on the other deeds, and filing it as transferable on death into the trust. Which means we can sell or buy new property any time, as long as we record the properties as transferable on death to the trust, nothing else needs to be done.

It cost us a total of $1400 and I highly recommend it for simple peace of mind. It was worth every penny!

Hired Gun Rollout

I am, at heart, an auto-didact (lifetime learner). And this has helped me weather some of the less than sterling reviews of Hired Gun. Despite some of the negative comments, I am maintaining a solid four-star average on reviews and currently have received 88 in total. Here are some of the things I have learned over the past three weeks since rolling out my latest book.

No Happily Ever After = No Romance

I didn’t know. I really didn’t. My only excuse on this is that it never occurred to me to Google the question “Is a book considered a romance if it doesn’t have a happily ever after?” until after a couple of negative reviews started rolling in.

I discuss finding the proper audience below, but it wasn’t as much of a catastrophe as I first thought it might be. There were plenty of romance readers who found my sexy thriller (NOT romantic thriller) interesting and worthy of reading.

I Need to Improve Writing POV

I remember when I first began writing creatively in high school. This was in the Dark Ages when personal computers were not readily available and most document writing took some advanced knowledge of computer programming to accomplish.

In other words, it was all hand-written!

I was incredibly lucky. I attended a small private high school and my teachers (whether it was because they were tired of my complaints, or possibly saw the logic in my argument for practicing instead of just learning theory) allowed me to write creatively instead of plodding through those horrible grammar books.

I say that they saved my life. They really did. I have never forgotten it and always been so grateful. I learned about paragraph breaks, writing dialogue, story construction, and so much more.

And I have continued to learn. While dangling participles still elude me, my lesson on this book was: Stick to one point of view!

After several comments, I realized I had a real problem. It is probably something I will fix soon, because that can be very confusing and distracting for readers.

Better Foreshadowing = Happier Readers

The book description did not explicitly say that there was no Happy Ever After ending, and I also neglected to say that this was the first in a series of seven books that were intertwined and that yes, eventually there might be a happy ending (or even more than one).

I have now changed the book description to read:

Lila Benoit has finally moved into a gorgeous loft and bought a new car. Her work as a data analyst for a prestigious real estate firm is her first “real job” since graduating college. Lila hasn’t broken the law, or witnessed a crime. She’s led a quiet, uneventful life. So why is someone trying to kill her?

Shane Ellis is a hired gun, determined to do his job, and keep his clients alive, no matter who is trying to kill them. Shane lives by and enforces The Code, a strict set of rules that have given his clients the highest survival rate – despite the dangers they have faced. Follow The Code and you stay alive.

But Shane isn’t prepared for Lila, sexy, stubborn, and determined to ignore his rules. And Lila isn’t prepared for what he will do when she breaks each and every one of them.

If you like sexy thrillers that don’t necessarily end in happily ever after…

If you prefer a wild ride filled with suspense, twists and action…

If you are into complicated plots and multiple book series…

Then you really need to start reading Book 1 of the Benton Security Services series today!

“All I can say is wow – what a thrill ride!” – Pamela Mitchell

“Smoking hot with lots of twists and turns.” – JM

“Shuck’s foray into a sexy thriller is long overdue” – Kerrie McLoughlin

Better With Every Book

I am learning and growing with every book I write. Thanks to personal feedback from readers and friends I am reminded to take my time with each book and not rush things. I won’t be doing any more pre-orders on books as a result. The book will be ready when the book is ready, and not a minute before.

Marketing = Finding MY Audience

I was listening to a great podcast the other day. The host was talking about marketing and he pointed out that marketing does not have to be a bad word. For most writers, all we want to do is write. We don’t want to write ad copy, or follow trends, or analyze sales data. We just want to write our stories and share them with others.

But the truth of the matter is, just as we don’t read everything, neither do others. We write (hopefully) what we would enjoy reading and the purpose of marketing is not necessarily to sell our books to everyone, it is to sell our books to those who will enjoy reading the books.

Thus, I continue working on writing ad copy that I would find interesting and want to read.

This is a good thing. If I find an audience who, like me, enjoys my stories, then I will have better reviews as a result. Instead of marketing to a romance audience, if I market to the thriller audience for Hired Gun, things will go smoother!

Back to Basics

With all of the audio rollout, the hours of listening to the words and suggesting changes on four of the five books, I haven’t gotten much writing done.

Couple with that my yearning to garden (I remain as much a gardener as I am a writer) now that the weather allows for such things, I have been thoroughly distracted.

Life is full of multiple priorities, and as usual I struggle with each change to our ever-changing schedule.

I also find myself making lists, and plans, and plotting world domination through massive book production that would only work if I were living alone on a mountaintop and doing nothing but writing, eating and sleeping. And perhaps going light on the eating and sleeping part.

I dream of the day in which I do have 20 or even 30 books published, but I also have to be realistic. And the truth of the matter is, when I focus on writing and producing to the exclusion of the rest of my duties, all I do is get myself stressed out. Nothing happens then – not writing, nor much of anything else.

So, back to the simple task of writing 500 words per day. Over the past three days, I’ve written around 1,300. Not bad when you consider that the first day, it was eight in the evening when I decided to jump back into it.

500 words a day. Every day. More if I want, less if life gets in the way, but the goal will be there – 500 words a day.

Things I’ve Learned and Earnings for 1st Quarter 2019

As always, I’ve learned plenty in the last couple of weeks and months. I want to share that with you along with my 1st Quarter earnings for 2019. Read on…

Be Flexible

In my newsletter, I promised I would write a short story called “Take the Shot” but despite all good intentions, each time I sit down to write it, my brain slides sideways. It tells me, “Nope, not going to happen right now.”

And as I tried to push it this morning, it rebelled and began to dig its heels in. Fine, I thought, a short story HAS to be written today. So if not Take the Shot, then what?

In Scrivener, I have a file called Kapalaran Universe (Kapalaran is the Filipino word for fate) in which I keep all of my short stories. Whether the short stories are associated with War’s End, G581, the Chronicles of Liv Rowan, or Hired Gun – they are all here under one roof. And as I scanned down the list, I found Secret to Survival – a short story set in G581’s universe.

As with most of my short stories, this adds to a storyline, giving details of a character or circumstance I mention in passing.

I’m working on it today, along with adding a couple of ideas to Smoke and Steel as I flesh out Book 2 of Benton Security Services. I will continue to flesh out and outline Book 2 as I work on Glass Forest, Book 1 of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan.

Back at It – Lessons Finished or Not

I’m learning to listen to my gut. When it tells me “stop” I stop. When it tells me “go” I try to go.

I still don’t feel like I have a handle on the whole marketing thing, but I’ve made some improvements. I’m currently compiling a new list of keywords to point my Amazon ads to for Hired Gun. I think they will pay off. I’ll continue to try to weave in some learning, but I could feel the need to write rising within me. It’s something I cannot ignore.

I think that, overall, the reviews I’ve received from the Hidden Gems ARC reviewers has really served to inspire me. I’m ready to dive back in and give them book 2, but that is firmly behind Glass Forest and then G581: Zarmina’s World.

Although, who knows, things change on a dime around here. My job is simply to flow with it, and get as much writing done as possible!

First Quarter 2019

I’m still learning, still struggling to keep advertising costs low and increase sales. I still have a long way to go. Here are the numbers. A whole mess of them!

January:

Income from eBook Sales: $     97.93
Income from Paperback Sales: $     238.85
KDP Pages Read Income: $      16.99
Total eBooks Sold34
Total paperbacks sold85
Avg Daily Income of: $       11.41
Total Gross Sales: $    353.77
Advertising Costs $    218.38
Net Profit: $    135.39
% of Profits Paid to Advertising:62%
% of $2k income goal:7%

February:

Income from eBook Sales: $     112.35
Income from Paperback Sales: $         84.28
KDP Pages Read Income: $         83.12
Total eBooks Sold37
Total paperbacks sold30
Avg Daily Income of: $          9.02
Total Gross Sales: $      279.75
Advertising Costs $      222.20
Net Profit: $        57.55
% of Profits Paid to Advertising:79%
% of $2k income goal:3%

March:

Income from eBook Sales: $        85.22
Income from Paperback Sales: $      114.63
KDP Pages Read Income: $       97.16
Total eBooks Sold24
Total paperbacks sold38
Avg Daily Income of: $         9.58
Total Gross Sales: $     297.01
Marketing Costs$ 145.08
Net Profit: $     151.93
% of Profits Paid to Advertising:49%
% of $2k income goal:8%

Net Income for 1st Quarter 2019: $344.87

Total # of ebooks sold: 95

Total # of paperbacks sold: 153

Percentage of sales by book:

  • Get Organized, Stay Organized: 87%
  • The Storm: 5%
  • A Brave New World: 3%
  • G581: The Departure: 2%
  • An Old Wives Tale: .03%
  • Hired Gun: 2% (pretty good when you consider it was only for sale on the last day of the quarter)
  • Schicksal Turnpike: 0%

In other words? Writing is not a get rich quick scheme.

Keep in mind these numbers do not reflect any costs for book covers, editing costs, narrator fees for turning five of my books into audiobooks, or ads or description (blurb) writing services.

Listing those would simply put me in a very deep hole income-wise.

I am not of the opinion that art is for art’s sake. Yes, writing is my passion. And I dearly love to hear from readers (seriously, email me, it will make my day). But I keep my eyes firmly on the prize. There will be a day when all of this pays off. I believe in it deeply. It can happen and I’m looking forward to that day and working hard to make it happen.

It will get better. I know it. And you will get the chance to see it from front-row seats. I hope you are enjoying watching the journey.

Up, Down, and All Around

Sorry, I THOUGHT it Was Romance

Romance.

Erotica.

Romantic suspense.

Sexy thriller.

Racy mystery.

Semantics have tripped me up yet again.

Around four or five years ago, I decided I really needed to get rich by writing erotica. That very quickly turned to, “Well, maybe I can hit it big with romance because erotica has no plot.”

At some point after that I settled on writing a sexy romantic thriller. Call it evolution if you like.

At first, I jumped into the sex. That earned me a head shake from my beta reader, so I stopped, set it aside, and worked on different projects while I let the story do a slow burn in the back of my brain. I finished Schicksal Turnpike and returned to Hired Gun, determined to finish it.

I googled words like erotica versus romance, erotic thriller, romantic suspense, and more. And despite reading a great deal of definitions I never once found the humdinger or rules.

Are you ready for it?

#1 Rule of Romance Writing – It MUST have a Happily Ever After

Well, shit, Skippy. Somehow, someway, I missed that.

My bad.

I adjusted the categories in Amazon and I have an order in for a new book description, one that I hope will properly convey the hot and sexy thriller, Book One of the series, out and ready for readers.

Romance readers will still enjoy the book. In fact, I’ve heard from quite a few that REALLY liked the book.

Try to please everyone. Please none. – Aesop

The audience that will enjoy Hired Gun is vast. I just need to put in the proper description, run the right ads, and help bring my book into their hands. So I’m now working on a description of my perfect reader. Here’s what I have so far…

  • Enjoys complicated plots and subplots
  • Is looking for a story arc series to dive into
  • Appreciates sexy scenes and the sizzle of attraction
  • Doesn’t require a Happily Ever After

It’s rather ironic. I had read some advice on sitting down and describing your target reader or audience and dismissed it as overthinking things, or just overly complicated, but it really does make sense.

I wrote a book I would enjoy first, but I know that I’m not the only one who will. I’m not in the business of pleasing everyone – just a specific set of people. I imagine that, if you are still reading, that’s you!

Website Nightmares

It’s a really long story, but the long and short of it is that, in the middle of rolling out Hired Gun, my websites both went belly up and began to smell just like a big black snake will do if you corner it.

This website flat out disappeared, replaced with my other website, The Cottages. And shortly after I spent an hour on the phone with Go Daddy fixing this one, The Cottages suddenly sprouted Arabic. I kid you not. ARABIC.

I’m probably on some watch list now.

Head Spinning, What’s Next?

I think I’m suffering from a split personality because I want to do four things at once…

  • Finish writing my first fantasy novel – Glass Forest
  • Write the sequel to G581: The Departure – Zarmina’s World
  • Keep the impetus moving forward with Book 2 of Benton Security Services – Steel and Smoke
  • Delve into a completely new genre of suspense/horror with Winter’s Child

I’ll figure it out. Heck, maybe I’ll just rotate between them in a big circle. Who knows?

Time for a Little Audio

No Greater Thrill

I have to say that it is truly thrilling to hear the words I have written spoken aloud. And Ellie Gossage, my narrator for Hired Gun, is doing a fabulous job of it. So are the other narrators, as they work through my books. I hope to offer five of my books in audiobook form within the next month.

There have been delays, but it looks like Hired Gun will be ready by mid-April at the latest.

Chapter One

For your listening pleasure, here is the first chapter of Hired Gun. Listen to it and let me know what you think. Interested in learning more? Stay tuned!

Chapter 1 – Blackmail Fail

Scrrritttchh!

Imagine the sound of a needle on vinyl. I know this might be hard for anyone under forty, but hopefully you’ll get the drift.

I’ve been doing it again. And the stress has been building as a result. I realized it yesterday as I thought, “How can I feel so overwhelmed when I’m doing LESS than before?”

Different Kinds of LESS

It’s true, I’m doing less. I no longer teach community education classes, my elderly father is gone so I don’t have him as a responsibility any longer. I’m unschooling the tween, which means she usually tells me what she will be studying for the day, and until recently, it had been winter, so no outside gardening duties.

I’m doing less, so why does it feel overwhelming?

Not Learning, Not Writing Side Projects

Over six months ago, I signed up for Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors. And because I didn’t have the $700 up front, I agreed to $75 payments over the course of twelve months. It’s a series of video courses, designed to be watched and implemented over the period of a few months. So far, the course has restarted at least twice since I signed up. I have watched only a few videos.

What do these videos teach me? Well, hopefully how to truly understand what the hell I’m doing with Amazon ads, Facebook ads, and more. And considering that my advertising on AMS has been averaging anywhere from 27% (that was really good) to 129% (yup, that means I’m operating in the negative) of my sales income, I really need to be doing better.

I Want it Right Now

I realized that I’m creating a nasty little trap for myself. I want to quit cleanings so bad that I’ve found myself in the “write more, more, MORE” loop.

It needs to be the “write smart” loop.

Write smart, work smart, and what I have in print RIGHT NOW could very possibly make all the difference in the world. And even if it doesn’t, with the education I will have the foundation I need to make the next book, or the next one after that, the success I need it to be to get what I want.

I found myself saying the same thing, “If I just write enough books…”

In the Indie world, there is certainly the mass production model. Crank out enough books over a short amount of time and you might very well make the dollars you need to succeed. There is also the learned model – one based on understanding ads, how they work, and using them and other devices (subscriber lists, online presence, book funnels, and more) to bring in readers and fans.

And I realized that I’ve tried to have a foot in each pool, without the learning that goes with it.

So…Scrrritttchh!

This is a record player (for all of you millennials who may have seen the arcane construction and wondered why the hell us old folks have it around still)

Priorities in order:

  • Finish Better Choices
  • Write enough short fiction to last me through the end of this year (8 stories, doled out on a one story a month basis)
  • Go through Mark Dawson’s course from beginning to end
  • Finish Dave Chesson’s course (that I started 8 months ago – that one was a freebie)
  • Read “Joy of Writing Sex”, “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy”, and at least two of the other four books on writing that I recently bought and have not read.
  • Go through the four courses I purchased on Udemy and have never taken and if they still apply, take them.
  • Return to my book writing

As I outlined my plan of action to my husband this morning, he had this to say:

This is what you do. You work like a madwoman on one task and are consumed with guilt over not doing the other thing, whatever that might be, while doing task one. It makes for a high level of dissatisfaction on a regular basis.

Well, yikes. When you say it like that…

Time Limit

I’m going to give it a month. The world will not fall apart if I stop for one month and get some learning done. Then, if it still feels appropriate, I’ll return to the production model – hopefully with a decent amount of knowledge under my belt.

Meanwhile…

I’m starting to receive the chapters of my books turned into audiobooks. It is a rather heady experience to hear someone else read something you have written. I can’t wait to share them with you!

Murphy’s Law

Who the Hell Was Murphy, Anyway?

That guy Murphy, was a real futurist. He could see it coming like no one else could.

I sort of hate him.

And every time I make plans, he’s there, just waiting to trip me up.

So Goeth Editing

When I assigned a week to edit 37 chapters by reading them aloud to my husband, I thought I was being conservative. But I forgot that we have children (how does one forget that???) and that he is also the president of our local neighborhood association (which means meetings upon meetings).

In any case, the editing has been going slowly. I have 14 chapters left to read out loud. I’m going to try my best to get seven done today and seven more tomorrow.

Writing…or Not

Writing seems to be problematic right along with editing. I need to finish Better Choices the short story I want to release along with Hired Gun and I’ve not been grabbing those opportunities to write as much as I should.

Today is Wednesday and typically a great day for writing since it is homeschool co-op and I’m normally in the Quiet Room typing away. However, today is my day to volunteer for door duty down at the entrance. Folks keep coming in and the door has to be opened by hand each time. I thought I would just have half an hour of work and then I would be scot-free the rest of the day.

Um…no.

Damn you, Murphy!

Somehow, some way, I need to finish Better Choices by the end of tomorrow because on Friday I must begin work on Glass Forest!

Audiobook Extravaganza and Teenagers

This week has unfolded into the following focal points:

  • Creating audiobooks
  • Dealing with hormonal teenagers
  • Beginning the official countdown
  • Juggling Airbnb renovations
  • House to-do’s?!

I will explain…

Audiobook Extravaganza

I’ve been bumbling about for years. This is well-known if you have read my blog posts for any time at all. But after years of slinging pasta at the wall, I know what I want. I want to write (and hopefully sell) lots of books. And after spending the past 18+ months listening to podcasts by Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Dave Chesson, and others, I know how important audiobooks can be for getting your books out there to all readers (and listeners) of books.

I logged onto Findaway Voices and honestly, the prices for narrators made me nearly pass out. So, not sure if I would do any better, I went to ACX.com to see if their prices were any better.

They have different income brackets you can choose: $0-$50 per finished hour, $50-$100 per finished hour, and up.

I chose the $50-$100 per finished hour, put five of my books up (Get Organized, the War’s End series, G581: The Departure, and Hired Gun) and opened them up for auditions.

I’ve made offers to three different narrators for four of the books at this point. Two have accepted, and I’m waiting on one other to respond. I offered them $75 per finished hour, which is mid-level, but means I’ll pay anywhere from around $450 for my organizing book to right around $1,000 or more for each of the longer fiction books.

It’s a huge investment, but I’m beginning to see it this way:

Book production costs include:

  • My time working out the basic details/storyline of the book (10 hrs @ $50/hr = $500)
  • My time writing the book (100 hrs @ $50/hr = $5000
  • Book cover creation ($400)
  • Editing/proofreading services ($500)
  • Reading aloud/final edit by me (10 hrs @ $50/hr = $500)
  • My time or a professional’s creating the back blurb and ad copy ($200)
  • Audiobook creation ($1,000)

Total cost: $8,100 (obviously this is estimated)

It’s the same as expecting to pay for a computer, for internet, or for word processing software. These things don’t come for free. And I refused to continue to half-ass it any longer.

Half-assing things means that you continue to have problems. I know this homeowner who cuts corners on EVERYTHING and as a result, has problems with EVERYTHING. Nothing works like it is supposed to, everything is a hassle, and all of the cheap repairs are costing them money every day that the property doesn’t work right.

My work will no longer be half-assed. I will take the time to do it right, to invest in the best book it can possibly be, and NOT accept a “well, it’s okay for now, I’ll fix it later.”

Miss Grumpypants studying math on Khan Academy

There’s a Lot of ‘Teening Going On Around Here

This morning. Whew. I’ll tell you, that 12-year-old of mine is really showing her hormonal side. We ended up having a long talk about how hormones affect not just our bodies, turning girls into women capable of bearing life, but also how those same hormones affect our emotions, or thought processes, and more.

I had to tell her that right now, her body and brain were dealing with a flood of hormones and that it would make her half-crazy, convinced everyone was either deliberately trying to drive her insane or else they were terminally stupid. Having dealt with it for 34 years until blissfully experiencing menopause at age 46, I had the wealth of my experiences behind me, aware of just how awful puberty and PMS in general can be.

“We pay a price for being able to bring life into the world,” I told her, “No one told me these things, no one helped me understand what was happening to my mind and body. I had to figure it all out on my own and it took decades before I figured it out.”

And it’s true. It wasn’t until my late 30s that I thought to chart my periods and figured out that Days 18-22 of my cycle were the worst emotionally. I wish I could go back and see if I ended up quitting jobs during those times, or lashing out at others. I also suspect that I had PMDD, a very extreme form of PMS. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure that one out until I had gone through menopause.

By the time we talked, and I described many of the emotions and thought processes I experienced in the throes of PMS or PMDD, Em nodded, understanding me better, as well as herself. She smiled then, relieved to have a better understanding of it.

Understanding it means she has better tools for recognizing it and handling it better next time.

This was yesterday…

It’s Official – 514 Days to Go

I finally pulled up a day/date calculator and input the following date: July 31st, 2020

That’s the day I want to stop cleaning houses and focus solely on writing and running our Airbnb properties.

I make approximately $2,000 per month cleaning houses right now. So I need to replace that income with book sales and page reads and audiobook sales to the tune of:

$111 per day in sales ($111 x 30 days x 60% (40% of income goes to advertising) = $1,998)

Currently I’m earning $15 per day in sales (so far this month), so I need to increase it by a multiple of at least 10, possibly 11. And I have 514 days left to do it in.

Otherwise, I’ll be 50 years old and still cleaning houses. And there’s nothing wrong with cleaning houses. Hell, I find aspects of it quite enjoyable and the work is rewarding, but I’d rather focus on other things. It’s time for a change.

Juggling Airbnb Renovations

We have a contractor working on Cottage West right now. He’s focusing on the gas right now, with the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC to follow. After that, we have an insulation guy and we are currently taking bids on drywall. The rest of it, painting, the bathroom floor, refinishing the bathtub and installing fixtures into the bathroom and kitchen will be on us.

We should be seeing drywall go in by late April and I’m hoping that we can be open for business by mid-June.

Meanwhile, at Cottage East, we should see new windows and the siding installed by late March, early April. After that, we will have the electric box put in by Mid-April, allowing us to install an alarm inside to ensure there are no break-ins until we have the funds to work on the project again next year. Although, if we can swing it, I think I would like to see the demo of the interior walls happen this year as well. It will depend on how we feel after we build a fence along the entire front of the property!

All the Rest

I have Hired Gun back from my proofreader and I’m reading it out loud to my husband and making corrections as I go. There’s nothing quite like reading the book out loud to catch those odd, not-so-obvious errors.

I’m also hoping to have Better Choices finished soon. That will be the freebie that only those who read Hired Gun and sign up for my newsletter will get to read.

And with all that…back to writing I go!