What Stands In The Way?

What stands in the way of me getting my writing done?

Simply put – ME.

I’ve been struggling with getting my writing done in some kind of orderly fashion for a while now, and as I read further into Tim Grahl’s book Running Down a Dream I’m reading some powerful truths.

Here is one of them…

“The problem [is], a decision doesn’t actually fix anything. Only our actions do.” – Tim Grahl

And right after that, he shared a great lesson – that of cutting out the nonessentials.

It made me think about what I do repetitively, obsessively even, on a day-to-day basis.

  • Check my FB feed and see who has Liked or Commented on my posts or comment on others
  • Check my sales stats (I’m trying desperately to limit it to twice, even once per day) multiple times in a day
  • Check the news
  • Review my massive (and incredibly detailed) budget in Excel that includes details like debt reduction, funds for the renovations we are planning, and savings projections. Dude, I have different budgets stretching 20+ years into the future. I’ve spent hours anticipating major life events!
  • Check for emails
  • Open the mail, reconcile whatever statement or bill has come in, pay it, and then spend more time obsessing over that Excel spreadsheet.
  • Look up info on the pergola I plan on building next to the Airstream (in the next two years or so)
  • Stare at the story I need to write and then fall down an internet rabbit hole (by the way, there are a ton of them)
  • Check my email for the tenth time today…or the 20th…

I’m committing to some changes right now that are doable and will bring me immediate benefit…

  1. I’m creating an Incoming Mailbox in my office and will be addressing all financials ONCE per week. I double-checked my Quicken balances against the bank balances online and there is absolutely no reason for me to even look at Quicken (or my bank balances online) until Sunday. This will free up at least two hours from my week.
  2. I’m going to check my sales ONCE per day – at the end of the day before I go to sleep. That’s enough, checking it more than that is nothing more than wasted time.
  3. I’m sending my dad to senior daycare. Betcha didn’t see that one coming, did you?! The fact is that having him in the house watching those disgusting shows like Jerry Spring and Paternity Court has me beyond frustrated and bitter and no one needs that. I’d ask him to wear wireless headphones, but he’d have to be wearing them 15 hours a day and I doubt I could convince him. I need my sanctuary back, at least for a few hours a day, along with peace and quiet for me and my favorite tween to go down to the homeschool room and create art and learn.
  4. I will be checking my email a maximum of three times a day. It’s too much of a time suck and if I can get it down to once per day, that might be even better. I might curate the list – instead of reading each email I’ll do a quick perusal of what’s come in first thing in the morning and only read what I absolutely have to.

I’m sure there will be more changes, but those will be a great start. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Schicksal Delayed

I had really hoped to get Schicksal Turnpike finished and published by the beginning of this month. Obviously, that has not happened. The reasons for this are two-fold:

  • Edits are taking longer than I had hoped
  • I need a very specific cover photo for the book – which means waiting until spring

As far as the edits go, I’ve been looking at the timeline of the chapters and realizing I was rushing through some areas. I need to add more detail and slow things down a bit, explain parts better. And when you combine this with my ridiculous daily schedule that is filled with:

  • Homeschooling the kiddo
  • Keeping house (making all meals etc)
  • Running my housecleaning biz (b/c writing still doesn’t pay the bills)
  • Identifying/preparing/teaching new classes (b/c writing still doesn’t pay the bills)
  • Renovating The Cottage (mainly on the weekends, but still)

It doesn’t leave much of a window for writing. At the moment, I’m limited to around one hour per day, although I’m looking at ways to increase that to at least two hours per day.

I’m one of those weird birds who wakes up early in the morning. Lately it has been at the late hour of six a.m. because of menopause-induced night sweats, but I’m hoping to get on a more even keel soon. Five a.m. is often some of the best writing time for me. Weird but true!

As for the photo of the book – I need it to be Cliff Drive, at night, in the rain, in the springtime. And no, I’ve seen zero photos that fill that requirement. So guess who will be up at Cliff Drive with camera in hand, some future rainy spring evening? My heart is set on it and nothing else will do.

But that’s fine. I will finish the edits on Schicksal, which include writing at least two more chapters and editing the other half of the book. I will probably send it through a couple of beta-readers after that, allowing for any errors my proofreaders and myself missed, and when spring comes, shoot the perfect picture and publish the book on Amazon.

I hope to follow it with the first book from the Chronicles of Liv Rowan shortly after that, possibly by August at the latest.

The plans of mice and men…

Which reminds me of the quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

Here’s to a very literary year in 2017!

An Update on Gliese 581: Departure

I’m starting to get my daily schedule back under control. Let me tell you, there have been some changes around here!

My eldest is back after nine years of living in California and Nevada and we are all getting used to the change. My schedule then became a running challenge of teaching a large number of classes, getting ready for the Urban Grown Tour, and spending some quality time with my eldest.

So today I had a clear schedule. Well, a relatively clear schedule.

The kiddo needed supervising with her homeschool studies, and today is our 9th wedding anniversary, but I really, really wanted to get some writing done on Gliese 581: Departure.

There were a lot of distractions, but I have managed about 1,200 words today. That brings my total word count to 38,400 and I finished a chapter (as well as worked on others). I’ve got a couple of books on order to fill in the medical and space knowledge gaps. I’m not shooting for 100% accuracy, but still, I want it believable!

I’m not ruling out writing two books this year, but it will be a stretch if I do. Stay tuned!

What We Do and Finding Time to Breathe

What We Do

My dad recently sent me an email with “what we do” in the subject line. He wrote…

Hi Junior,

A friend pointed out this article to me. Basically, it explains the power the storyteller has for causing real physical, mental and emotional changes in others. It is very thought provoking and credible look into the effect stories have on listeners and readers:



D a d

I read the article and immediately thought of Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss. It was my favorite story as a small child. I cannot imagine how many hundreds of times we read it. And the message that I have carried with me in my life came from that book, “do what you say you are going to do, be faithful, be dependable, be responsible.”

If you have not read the story, I recommend that you do. No matter your age. There is a lesson here in perseverance, loyalty, love and more.

I will not lie and say that I have always been this. Horton is my hero, someone I aspire to be every day. But I fall short, like anyone else, I’m human after all.

But I have to go back to this article and say, that yes, as a storyteller I am trying to change the world in my own small way.

I want people to read the two War’s End books and feel the fear and pain, but also revel in the healing that can come from the love of family and friends. I want people to read it and walk away with the understanding that no matter our family unit, when we find and create love, when we commit to and rely on others, that is when we can choose to truly live our lives and make the most of the situations we find ourselves in.

Finding Time to Breathe

Sometimes, all of the priorities that are warring for my time and attention are just way too much. Lately, it seems that everywhere I turn, there is a mess. Or something I must do, have to do, besides writing. The dining room table is covered with stuff, the kitchen is a mess, there is laundry to wash, fold and put away. I don’t even want to think about the catastrophe that is our homeschool room or my front bedroom (spare room/sewing room and the closet door which houses all of our medicines).

So as usual, I’ve got the familiar refrain of “I’ve got so much to do around here I can’t even think about writing!”

It just seems like there is this unending list of crap that needs to be done…now.

I’m going to take a day or two to try and get on top of the pile before tackling my writing projects again. Homeschool room, here i come!

Juggling Those Priorities – Finishing Book Projects


I’m feeling good these days, although when I really get into the swing of things I feel like a world-class juggler.
So after some serious down time over the holidays – and fighting off depression – I emerged with some specific goals for the New Year.

I’m going to take them one post at a time…


I’ve got a large number of book projects. I’ll list the main, well-fleshed out projects here…

War’s End Book 2 – The first book was published in 2011 and this sequel will finish the series. Think post-apocalyptic/survivalist/people story. I started writing War’s End far too long ago to admit and am finally at the spot where I have about six chapters left to write (out of a total of 35 chapters in Book 2).

Gliese 581/The Plague Tales – These are two inter-related series – best described as science fiction – world-wide plague, a spaceship plagued by an unknown saboteur, and a brand-new world to be explored. My notes are pretty extensive for Gliese 581. I’ve written several chapters of the book so far and I have also written a short story set in the Plague Tale side of thing on Earth in the early part of next century. This series needs a lot of work.

Quit Your Job, Change Your Life – non-fiction obviously. This project is about 45% complete, with the rest clearly marked out and good to go. I haven’t touched it in well over a year, possibly two. Really need to get to that.

Chronicles of Liv Rowan – This series is so big, so detailed and in depth it simply robs me of the ability to full form words. I’ve identified TWELVE books in this series, all centering around one central character. If I ever get it together enough to take the 40+ pages of notes, the several chapters written, and fuse all of that planning and info into a series of books, it will be absolutely phenomenal.

I’m still struggling to figure out just HOW I’m going to incorporate these book projects into my day to day life. I WANT to do it, but I’m trying desperately to figure out how to make about $300 per month more right now because we NEED it, desperately.

That need for money is really interfering with my ability to write.

Perhaps if I can take all of my energy and focus and use the Wednesday homeschool LEARN classes and the 1-3 hours I will have each Friday in between cleanings and P.E. being in Waldorf classes and use those exclusively for fiction writing, I might get some chunks of it knocked out.

Missed a post on Juggling Priorities? Here is the list of previous posts…

Homeschool – www.bubblews.com/news/2067735-juggling-those-priorities-homeschool
Writing on Bubblews – www.bubblews.com/news/2075944-juggling-those-priorities-writing-on-bubblews

(This post was originally published on Bubblews at: http://www.bubblews.com/news/2093116-juggling-those-priorities-finishing-book-projects)

Focus On…What?

Every few months or so, I get completely and totally stressed out. All of a sudden, all that I am doing seems to overwhelm me and I lose the ability to even talk about it, much less do anything about it.

It hit on Monday, then escalated to a peak frenzy on Tuesday. So yesterday, I wrote it all down on my new blackboard wall…

I literally had to break out Home and Lawn & Garden into two sections because there is so much there.

What’s particularly bugging me is my duties to E as her “learning facilitator” (I don’t think of myself as her teacher, honestly) in the Homeschool section and my need to write – something I have been doing far too little of, yet again.

I can’t see a way out of working – we need my income – and it would be the same if we still lived in the house in Belton. So it isn’t the act of moving into an old Victorian that necessitates this income, our costs have actually gone down a small amount.

I really struggle with a schedule – for my writing and Emily’s education in particular – and that is really pushing things into a realm I cannot seem to control. How do I juggle it all?

Yesterday, Dave stayed home, absolutely miserable until mid-afternoon from some sawdust he managed to get in his eye. His presence, which he likens to the dog and cheetah, IS calming to me. Although considering he is a cat person and I am a dog person, being told I’m a cheetah doesn’t seem to sit completely right!

We were able to knock off “Finish Planting” from the list of priorities. And we worked some more on the fence that evening. Two important steps towards projects that have been needling at my subconscious.

I guess my biggest problem is this – I don’t see anything on the list of priorities that I can dismiss, or hand off. I have to do them. I have to find time, and I have to do them, because they are all important.

So I guess my goal for each day is to focus on at least one aspect of my list (or a small handful) and stop sweating the rest of them. Easier said than done…but I’ll just keep working on them.

Tomorrow I’ll be 43 years old. Part of me is completely boondoggled at that number. I guess I’m surprised – I’ve done a lot of living in those 43 years, but it is still completely unreal to me. How different my life has been at different stages, how much I have changed (mostly for the good), and how much living I still have left to do.

I’m Already Over It

The BS…the crap…the noses held high in the air…the whole damned enchilada.

If I never make a dime.

If I never get picked up by a publisher.


I’ll be true to myself and not abase myself or cower and tremble before anyone who claims to be an editor, writer, agent, publisher or lit-er-ary whozit.

I say this because it is a conundrum to me that agents or publishers have made themselves so unapproachable. A guy in the newspaper world that my dad knows agreed to look at my book “War’s End.” I immediately sent him two copies. He wrote back saying he didn’t know if the book was publishable, asked if I had an editor to “tighten things up” and gave me the name of an agent, all the while explaining to me how to NOT say the author he knew had sent me through the agent because that could be trouble.


So the agent might get annoyed with the author who this guy knew, if she thought I had been sent by her. In other words, I’m either a horrible writer, or agents now occupy some lofty little writer’s perch in the heavens, far above little peons such as me.

I thanked him for his time and got this back in reply:

“I’m happy to help in whatever way. I’m still looking but it is difficult to find agents who are approachable cold.”

And then, just yesterday I ran across a blog post from the author of Flat Out Love – she had written and published five books before she decided to become a self-published author (mainly because no one would take her book on, despite liking it a lot).


The author, Jessica Park wrote in her blog post:

It turns out that I was entirely wrong. I was missing what I really wanted. One of the major reasons that I write is to connect with readers, not publishers. The truth is that I couldn’t care less whether New York editors and publishers like me. I don’t want to write for them. I want to write for you. The other undeniable truth is that readers could care less that my books aren’t put out by a big publisher. They read for the content, not the publishing house emblem.

And I realized that I think of agents, publishers – practically all of the “literary corporates” – in just about the same way as I do bankruptcy lawyers, teachers, or real estate agents. They are all…extraneous.

How they will strive to make you think otherwise, though! After all, don’t you need to have someone tell you how to stage your house for sale? That takes lots of training you know…or simple common sense. But you have to have a teacher to teach you how to think and learn – its a fucking miracle we learned to talk on our own! And bankruptcy lawyers? “Hand me $4,000 to fill out a bunch of paperwork on your behalf. After all, the system is a very complicated one.” No, no it isn’t. It cost me less than $200 in filing fees to wipe out $75,000 worth of debt. I didn’t need a lawyer at any point in that journey, not at all.

Would I like to see my books on bookshelves in bookstores around the country? Hell yes, I would!

Will I settle for ebooks on Amazon, Lulu, and others? Absolutely.

You don’t become a writer by dreaming of wealth and power. You become a writer because words captivate you. They suck you in, turn you around, and you lose yourself in the rhythm of them. You write because it is that or explode with the thoughts, like music, that run loose inside your head.

It is an argument you can’t help but make, a scene you can’t help but share, and a story that is imperative for you to tell.

So why would there be so many obstacles in a writer’s path?

I’m not hearing how I can be a better writer – I’m hearing how the agents and publishers are simply unapproachable, taking no new clients, and guarding their entrances as if the barbarians are at their gates.

So I’ve got a solution. Screw ’em. I’ll write, I’ll self-publish, and I’ll dedicate myself to writing better books with each installment. I’ve never liked games, never been good at playing them, and simply do not see the point in engaging in pissing matches or abasing myself before a stranger just so I can at some point call myself an author.

I am an author.

I am a writer.

Something that will be quite obvious once you read what I’ve written.

So…get to it, folks.

Well Darn…no Mega Millions for Us

At about 2:30 a.m., the puppy decided that sleeping at our feet on the bed was just not enough. She crept up between us and pressed her overly warm little puppy body against me. When I woke up, she bathed me in adorable doggy kisses and by the time she had settled down, I was thinking of Mega Millions and couldn’t sleep.

No worries, after an hour of tossing and turning, I gave up and went into my office to my computer. Since I don’t live in Maryland I can pretty much rest assured that my life will not change in any drastic way from its current existence. And honestly, I wish the winner well, they are in an unenviable position.

If I had that much money, I would definitely not be cleaning houses anymore, or teaching classes, but I certainly would continue writing. Perhaps I would create my own publishing company and then put my books into mainstream stores, without the hassle of agents and more. Go straight to my root audience and see if I didn’t get people reading what I’d written then, damnitall.

And then there is the permaculture/sustainable living institute that Dave and I have dreamed of…

Oh well, back to reality, right?

I fell off the writing wagon this week. One of the problems with having as many interests and priorities as I do is that I get distracted and things get backed up, or my brain is overtaxed with other stuff. Like having to spend THREE HOURS re-creating my financials for the past three months for our main checking account. What can I say? It was easier taking the old file we had recovered and then adding in every transaction that has occurred since.

Despite falling off of the writing wagon, I’m now up to 48,598 words in Book 2. Still on the chapter “Young Love” and hoping I can wrap it up soon. That will leave me with just 14 chapters to write, plus editing/finishing six more.

If I get my poop in a pile, I could get this finished by the end of April, edit it for one month, and then publish through Lulu by end of May, beginning of June!

And that would then free me up to begin writing on Gliese 581 OR Chronicles of Liv Rowan.


It is now 4 a.m. and I might as well get started…

The Price of “Free”

Years ago, my dad taught me about TANSTAAFL. Never heard it before? It stands for There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

“Free” always comes with a price.

Most of the time, that’s not a bad thing. We got a crap load of free hive bodies and frames the day after Thanksgiving. It will take probably 40 hours of scraping, cleaning, melting the wax, straining the wax, re-melting it, straining again, and eventually painting everything in white to get the hives ready to use. We’re up to it, the ‘price’ was right.

Two years ago, I read about how if you get an energy audit and some weatherization, then the utility companies will give you a credit on your utility bills. I was so damned excited at the thought.

One small problem, it would be about $500 for the energy audit, plus possible thousands for the weatherization. After all that, I sure as hell hope they would give us a credit!

My husband was unemployed, unemployment had almost ran out, and we were facing bankruptcy as I struggled to continue to pay the mortgage. It was tough, real tough. Then I read about how families who were below a certain income level (read, dirt poor) could qualify for free weatherization. I jumped on it. A few months later and we were approved, my heart sank with the words that came next, “They are a little backed up right now, it will be at least a year.”

I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing that we continued to qualify each quarter for the services. That meant we were dirt poor, along with the bankruptcy that went through just over 15 months ago, and after re-qualifying over and over, past the ‘year’ I was frustrated as hell. It isn’t easy to swallow your pride and submit to such intrusive questions and provide details of just how poor you really are over and over, but I did it.

And a month ago, all of that paid off. Or did it?

It turns out we had a furnace that was leaking dangerous, toxic levels of CO2 into our home. It was probably a good reason for the massive number of headaches I experienced each winter, especially when the temps dropped precipitously. They replaced our furnace, blew in more insulation in our attic, and even replaced an old window in our master bathroom that would have a solid layer of ice on the inside every winter, all winter.

And for a month, things have been much better. The master bathroom isn’t as chilly as it once was and the furnace has worked like a dream. Until this past Saturday…

At 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, I was up and awake, typing away at my computer when I smelled this burning smell. It was followed by a sound reminiscent of the TARDIS in Doctor Who. With the door to my office closed, I wasn’t sure if it was Dave snoring (sorry, honey) or what. But the burning smell drove me to open the door and when I did, I could then feel the floor shaking from the regular whumping sound of a furnace in distress.

I shook Dave awake and we figured out how to shut the thing down. Afterwards, I called a phone number on the venting. But that turned out to be the installers of the original furnace who asked me what the brand was that had been installed. When I told them, the man said, “Ma’am, I’ve very sorry, but I’m sure it wasn’t us that installed your furnace. We would never install that brand.”

And with that, all I could think was, “Oh, shit. Here is the price of free.”

So it’s now Monday morning. We have one space heater and it’s doing a pretty darn good job. Our temps on Saturday morning were in the mid-60’s when we turned off the furnace and currently it is 61 degrees inside our house. Which isn’t bad, not at all. This morning will be filled with panicked calls to the community action agency who paid for this gem of a furnace, and it is covered under warranty for two years. I imagine we will be replacing the damned thing in about that time, so I’d best start saving up.

Update: After close to a billion frenzied calls and finally hearing back (they had been given the wrong number and were calling someone with a 216 area code and getting no answer) they finally came by at about 3pm. He checked the amp draw, and a host of other things, and concluded that the furnace filter had gotten too close to the motor, impeding its movement, thus the burning smell and sound of a TARDIS in distress. They installed a filter rail, and that will make it easier to change the filter, keep it in its place, and it started up again like a dream.

Here I am, in Crown Center waiting while the princess takes an acting class and realizing, to my chagrin, that the house will be boiling at 75 degrees by the time I return. We kept turning up the temperature so that the heater would kick in and they could check that there was heat and no more problems. I left in such a hurry that I forgot to turn it back down!

Obsessive Book Ordering

And my latest order from Better World Books just arrived…

Yeah…like I’ve got to time to read with all of my writing projects…and homeschool…and the cleaning biz…and all the other assorted crap that life keeps throwing my way.

Did I mention that I’m secretly plotting to get rid of this…

Which once held fish, until it became the tank of DEATH. And replace it with more of this…

You know…to hold all of the extra books I obsessively buy and don’t have time to read.