Waiting for the Tide to Rise

Waiting for the Tide to Rise

The urge to write, it comes in waves, a lot like a rising tide. I can feel it, slowly rising inside of me, impatient for me to take the words, images and dreams out of my head and into some form of physical being.

There is little point in ordering it to appear, or even wishing for the tide to rise. It rises when the moment is right.

I wait for it, and when I feel the rise and swell, I pull out a pen or my computer and I get to work.

Sure, I could force it. I’ve done that at times – pushing, shoving, taxing my gray matter to provide me with something, anything, and to make progress.

But there are other battles to fight – a house to paint, children to raise, and so much more.

I’ll wait. The tide will rise again. Hell, it could start to rise tonight for all I can tell.

I Need a Bigger Space

As I wedged myself into the tiny closet, which really barely qualifies as a closet, I realized just how small it was. I gave it a try, I really did, but it is stifling in there. I really just need to create a recording studio in the attic and use it during temperate times (like right now).

I hope to start on this project next weekend by re-organizing our attic, asking our bat resident as politely as possible to get the hell out, and then create a recording box I can comfortably sit in.

The sooner I can get this done, the sooner I can get the books recorded and available for sale.

The more and more I think about it, and listen to Joanna Penn’s podcast, the more certain I am that audiobook versions of my books could really make a difference in my future earning potential. After all, my husband is an auditory learner, he loves audiobooks! And the number of audiobook “readers” continues to grow each year.

Studying Away

As I continue to run my housecleaning business, I listen to my top 3 podcasts that include writing, publishing and marketing advice. Here they are if you want to check them out yourself:

Between these three I’m learning a great deal about a variety of subjects. Recently I listened to an interview with a sweet romance author and how she is making five figures a month. Yowza!

And while, for now, I’m not pumping out four books a year (or more) like some of these folks, I am listening to their ideas and learning from their experiences.

I hope to be able to attend a writer’s conference in either 2019 or 2020 at the latest. I’m looking especially at the Indie writer’s conferences – 20 Books to 50K is having a conference this November and is already sold out. I’m marking my calendar for next year and I hope I can make it then.

A New Business Opportunity

When our neighbor asked me if I would be interested in managing his Airbnb, I immediately said “yes.”

After all, that is what I’m moving towards with our two houses – Cottage East and Cottage West – in two and four years from now, they should be ready to rent out. And having the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the business now is invaluable.

Soon it might be several Airbnb’s, not just one, that I would be managing. And if I can get a handle on the process, I could possibly sell the idea of being an Airbnb manager to the owners of the two apartment buildings across from me as well.

The way I see it – the additional income will go straight into renovating the Cottages and we will have them done even quicker.

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.

Running Down A Dream

I began reading a new book recently. Running Down a Dream by Tim Grahl. I haven’t made it far, just over ten percent of the book so far, but I’m seeing echoes of me in his words.

Tim talks about working a side business that has grown steadily, so well in fact that he can quit his 9 to 5 and focus on his business. But when he does, suddenly he isn’t meeting deadlines, his clients are less than pleased, and money becomes horrendously tight.

As he examines his days and tries to figure out where all of the time is going – he realizes it is being spent on coffee with a buddy down the hall, video games, and other time sucks.

Damn, but that resonated with me. How often have I checked Facebook, checked my book sales (at least 3-10 times a day!), or found my thoughts wandering to fashion projects that are sometimes years away – all instead of writing the chapter I have due on my website in two days.

I was alarmed to realize just this past Thursday that I had a deadline looming. I had promised a chapter a week for The Hired Gun, and the chapter was half-written and needed serious improvement before it was ready to go live on the website.

And not just that, but then the next Monday following that I had not just another chapter due, but also the second half of my short story Not Quite Human. And not a word written in it!

Jeez, Christine, you talk a lot about writing. How about you just, you know, WRITE?!

There are a thousand excuses. Really, there are. Unlike Tim Grahl’s life, mine is full of twice as much work – I run a housecleaning biz, I am spearheading this entire renovation plan on the two cottages, I’m a foster mom of one active (and demanding) toddler, I make sure the house runs smoothly and the bills are paid, and we resume homeschooling in just a few weeks.

Tim Grahl, you’ve got nothing on me.

That said, I am using all of those things to avoid doing the very thing I keep saying that I want to do. As in, I wanna be a writer full time and get paid for putting words on the page.

And that’s ridiculous.

Whether it is imposter syndrome or Grahl’s evil specter Resistance raising its ugly face, it matters not. The writing is not getting done.

So I’m going to keep hobbling along and try and read Grahl’s book as quickly as possible. Here is hoping it can help get my eyes focused back on the prize again.

Reporting In…

That New Schedule, Yeah…

So on the 11th, I announced I was going to try a new schedule. Basically an Assignment of the Week (AotW). One chapter from The Hired Gun or one short story in the Kapalaran Universe, starting Monday and hopefully finished before the end of Sunday.

Yeah…

Well. I did it, sort of.

The good news is that I managed to integrate one-on-one time with my darling girl, newly back from a trip to see her grandparents in San Francisco. We went to a local park with some of her friends, then swimming and also saw the Avengers: Infinity War.

I also had five cleanings as well as yard work (check out my post on that here), and I managed to write (in between all of this darting about) over 5,000 words on Not Quite Human – a short story for my email subscribers that will eventually be put into the Kapalaran Universe Anthology.

And as I closed in on 5,700 words, I realized I wasn’t done with this story, not even close, and I had run out of time.

My blog, my rules, right? So I’m posting it for July’s short story, but it is now  Not Quite Human – Part One.

And I dust my hands off and declare my first weekly assignment complete!

I’m looking at the rest of the summer and thinking, “I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.”

But you know WHY? Because I spend far too much time on Facebook, checking my stats on Amazon KDP, and obsessing over how to best spend the money we are setting aside for renovations to the future rental houses.

In other words, until I stop doing that crap, I’ll fall behind in my writing.

So next week? If you hear from me and I’ve got a ton of excuses? You’ll know why. It’ll be because someone is not taking her job seriously enough.

Earnings for the Month

But here is what I do know. I’ve been muddling about, trying to learn about AMS ads (Amazon Marketing Services) and how to write ad copy, book excerpts, and generally understand what makes my potential readers click that Buy button.

And while I’m far from understanding it, I have been absolutely delighted to watch my KDP report recently. This month is shaping up to be an amazing month. I’m currently at the third highest amount I have had since beginning to actively market my books back in November. And I’m only halfway through the month!

It’s a drop in the bucket compared to other authors and what they are doing, but check this out:

  • Books sold so far this month: 28
  • Highest ranking on Amazon: 13,734 (that’s out of MILLIONS of books) for Get Organized, Stay Organized
  • Income to date: approximately $135 (page reads fluctuate in worth, and some of the books sold are not showing up in my earnings yet)

I’m excited. Things are moving forward, moving up, and that means I really need to write more, learn more, and market more. I’m getting there, slowly but surely!

 

Broken Brain and a Hard Left

Congratulations, You’re Certified

Maybe that should read certifiable. Yeah, that would be more appropriate.

Seven months ago I decided I wasn’t done. Wasn’t done with what, Christine?

Wasn’t done having/raising kids. I had felt that way for a while, but it really hit hard last year.

In truth, I’m just past the halfway mark with Em. At eleven, nearly twelve, she is itching to dive into the angst of her teen years. And I’m also post-menopausal at the early age of 47 (okay, okay, I’m almost 48), so I am pretty sure I will not be giving birth to any more kiddos.

That said, I wasn’t ready to be done with child-rearing and we set off on the adventure of becoming foster parents. Lots of paperwork, rectal exams (kidding, but only sort of) more paperwork, background checks, more paperwork, in-depth interviews, training where the instructor told us they would pee in our shoes, destroy everything we loved, kill our beloved dogs, and set fire to the house, and finally MORE paperwork.

I’m NOT kidding.

The process started in early October and ended with us signing on the dotted line with the state at the end of the first week of April. And exactly one week later, Little Miss entered our lives.

It’s been three weeks now and, whooee, what a ride it has been!

Baby Brain – It’s REAL

I have…

  • Lost sleep
  • Lost weight
  • Gained weight
  • Lost it again
  • Run over a traffic cone and dragged it two blocks before it thankfully came out from under my van
  • Forgotten how many breakables I had in my house (and still have, only now they are teetering precariously feet above toddler-sized hands)
  • Forgotten how many drawers, plants, and water features can be screwed with in my house
  • Installed latches on insides and outsides of most of our doors
  • Discovered that Little Miss is disproportionate – wearing 12-month size bottoms and 2T tops
  • Remembered how awful tantrums can be
  • Discovered that loose eyeshadow does not vacuum out of the mattress but damn, it looks great on cocoa colored skin – she glowed!
  • Been befuddled by WHY a child would not want a poopy diaper changed (she is getting better about this, though)

We have finally, FINALLY settled into a reasonable pattern of sleeping, eating and existing. However, just looking at the little tyke can be exhausting. She moves so fast!

Back on Track

Week 1 was upheaval, pure and simple. Week 2 was filled with cleanings I had no time for in the three days I struggled to get her to the required doctor’s and WIC appointments. Week 3 saw a wash over of several appointments I still didn’t have time for and now, I’m finally looking at a reasonable schedule again.

Five glorious mornings to devote to writing!

Next week is almost as good and my goals are to work on The Hired Gun and get it done. I hope to have it done by the end of summer, fingers crossed!

Chapter 2 of The Hired Gun

In case you didn’t sign up for notifications (click here it’s painless) or see it on Facebook. Chapter 2 of The Hired Gun is up and ready for your reading pleasure. I’m going to (hopefully) be posting a chapter a week and getting this sucker DONE.

At the end of it, I’m going to ask you, my loyal readers, to consider leaving a review of the book on Amazon. Tell others what you thought of it!

Close One Door, Open the Other

I’m taking the advice of friends and family and closing the door on a person who has been in my life for nearly 30 years. I have finally recognized that truth is not something she is interested in or seems capable of. Instead, she spreads her paranoid version of reality and intentionally inflicts pain. The love that I have felt for her is not returned. That is toxic – and not just to me.

No one needs that. I see no need to ever open that door again. I mourn the grandchildren I may never see but know also from reading her rhetoric that they would be poisoned from the first time she spoke of me. I have fought enough uphill battles in my day. Let them believe her or not, it is not my place nor my duty mission to fix it.

We are in agreement, none of us wants anything to do with the other. And like my ex-husband, I am profoundly relieved at the thought of never, ever having to interact with her again for any reason.

When there is nothing but pain – on either side – then that is a dead-end relationship.

But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens.

In the midst of a migraine and back pain and just misery over the situation, I realized something important…

I have a beautiful life.

I was reminded of it yesterday evening as I lay down on a yoga mat outside on my back porch. Zoe Keating’s “Into the Trees” played on my laptop.

In the five years that I have lived here, I’ve never done that. I’ve rarely gone onto the back porch, but it felt so nice, so peaceful.

The sun had slipped below the horizon, the temperature was perfect, the air was fresh and cool on my skin. I could hear the sounds of the city, the steady hum of the highway, and voices of others enjoying the beautiful weather. My husband came out and ran through a martial arts form as I stretched and breathed, the trees danced in the slight breeze and the bats flew overhead searching for insects.

I realized how lucky I am. I have a devoted, loving husband, I have a daughter who makes me proud every day, and who is truly loved by friends and family. Two amazing people who love me as much as I love them. I have an adorable human being in my life, a little foster daughter who will turn 2 1/2 years old on my birthday. She has the most beautiful shade of chocolate skin and a bright happy smile. Her middle name is my first name and she is left-handed, just like me!

How long we will have her, we do not know, but I have opened my arms and heart to her and have been rewarded by her smiles and sweet baby kisses and hugs. She and Emily remind me every day how fascinating the learning process in children can be.

I look forward to returning to homeschooling, but I also look forward to keeping in touch with a small army of her teachers who have truly made this year of public school so enjoyable.

I don’t have a perfect life. I challenge you to find one who does. But I have one that brings me happiness hand in hand with sorrow. I try to let go of the sorrow and focus on the beauty – it is what makes life worth living.

 

Tick Tock, With Copious Amounts of…

So I’ve been experiencing no small amount of pain recently. I clean houses four days per week – writing doesn’t pay like cleaning houses does, so until it does…

Anyway, it has been building for a while.

Back pain, hip pain, knees and joints and what I have surmised is plantar fasciitis in one foot.

I’m a hot mess.

This, combined with the onset of planting and working outside weather, led to a dearth in writing.

But I hope that is about to change.

I’ve been tackling this in phases:

  • Phase One – Change my diet to a diabetic-friendly one

This has meant learning plenty about how starchy vegetables and high-carb foods affect my blood sugars, altering total serving amounts, and more. It also has included, take a moment to mourn with me here, removing most sources of sweets from my home.

  • Phase Two – Less is More

Reducing the amounts of food I eat, eating slower, and drinking plenty of water. I’m a “go, go, go” person – so I tend to inhale my food quickly and then look for more. Food has always been a form of solace for me, so giving up the two big bowls of homemade ice cream has been a tough one. That said, I’m still working on this phase, still attempting to slow my eating down, and eat less.

  • Phase Three – Body Care

All of this is body care, it really is, but I have made the commitment to seek medical care in the form of Direct Primary Care with Dr. Allison Edwards of Kansas City Direct Primary Care. I met with her yesterday and will see her again next Wednesday. I’m going to get the necessary labs so we can ascertain where I’m at – am I diabetic or still pre-diabetic – is my cholesterol still high?

I’ve also bought several massage packages. Thanks to messing up my knee quite effectively when I was young, my entire body seems misaligned and some days are worse than others. Recently, they have been pretty bad. Muscles are overly tight and sleeping or waking, I’m in a significant amount of discomfort.

  • Phase Four – Sweat (and Hopefully LOSE SOME WEIGHT)

As if I don’t sweat enough cleaning houses or dealing with hot flashes and night sweats, my ass needs to be on a treadmill, moving, for at least 30 minutes a day, preferably 60. I hope to also incorporate some yoga/flexibility poses into all of this. I can’t stand walking on a treadmill with nothing else to do, so thankfully I have a “treadmill desk” that Dave built me years ago. I set the laptop on it and do my best to type away while walking at a steady pace.

At nearly 220 pounds, I need to lose around 40-60 pounds to be at a “healthy” weight. I don’t buy into those ridiculous standards that say a woman of my height needs to be no more than 130 pounds – that’s fucking nuts – but I do need to weight less than 200, by a long shot.

So I’m hoping that the exercise, combined with the exercise I get when cleaning, combined with better food choices, combined with LESS food, all lead to a significant weight loss. So far? Nada. But a girl can dream.

And that leads me back to writing. Because in case anyone is confused at this point, IS the point of this particular blog.

Last post I outlined what still needed to happen:

Chapter 17-Breathe You In – Still need to write this entire chapter

Chapter 18-Painful Memories – I have some significant fixes to make here as well

Chapter 29-What Has Gotten Into You – Needs minor fleshing out

Chapter 34-Welcome to Amsterdam – Is around 2/3 complete

And I have now begun in earnest on Breathe You In. While walking on a fucking treadmill. While hurting and feeling grumpy and overly warm.

Feel for me here.

Which is all a longish, roundabout way of saying, “Due to other pressing issues, I haven’t been writing as much as I would have liked.” Which is, unfortunately, the story of my life.

Time for Radio (and Net) Silence





I hate feeling guilty. I find it rather…counterproductive.

Lately I’ve been wrapped up in work (cleaning houses, meh), several decorating projects (drapes/portieres – all hand sewn) and too much time watching television. Well, listening to television as I sewed away.

And it is Christmas, we are hosting a party on Saturday, and all of that other nonsense.

Yet, despite understanding that there will be times when I’m not writing, not updating my three blogs, et cetera – still I found myself filled with guilt as I walked downstairs to get my morning coffee.

The internal dialogue was pretty intense, and filled with the idea that so much television in the past two weeks has killed the creative process.

This is why I’m not publishing more books, folks. It isn’t just the fact that I’m going in a dozen directions at once, is that I waste my time feeling guilty about it. That internal voice says, “You aren’t really a writer, otherwise you would be able to write simultaneously while juggling all of your other projects and NOT watching TV.”

My family thinks that I’m intense and driven as it is – if they heard some of the crap my internal voice was saying to me on a daily business they would thank their lucky stars that I wasn’t THAT person.

Anyway, the whole point in this is to say that I’m taking the next two weeks off. No weekly newsletters, probably little or no blog posts, and come the new year I’ll jump back on the riding horse and give it a couple of good kicks in the side.

I really want to write books – and publish them – in the new year. So I’ll be making goals, and hopefully sticking to them. More on that later.

/rant on

p.s. I’ve been writing this on my laptop and I have to voice a word of complaint. I HATE the touchpad and disable it as soon as I can on any laptop I own. If I don’t then I’ll be typing merrily away and then suddenly POOF! whatever I have written has gone apeshit and disappeared, moved or levitated off of the screen when a finger accidentally brushes the touchpad.

This laptop apparently thinks it is being helpful, or maybe Microsoft thinks it is being helpful, but shortly after ANY Microsoft Windows 10 update I have to go in and RE-disable the touchpad which has magically turned back on. I despise this.

It is the equivalent to someone coming up and shoving a pen into my right hand and telling me to use the proper hand to write with. I’m fucking left-handed, you moronic computer! Now leave the touchpad OFF!

/rant off



Neil Gaiman is Right





I’ve written nothing for well over a week, possibly two. Instead, I’ve created more house projects (or worked on the dozens already begun), scheduled a holidays party for the 19th, and watched an egregious amount of television (Continuum and Hemlock Grove, to be specific) and felt the beginnings of full-blown panic over my writing, or lack thereof.

And as I was further practicing avoidance this morning, surfing Facebook and checking emails, I ran across this article from the Huffington Post with Neil Gaiman which addressed whether writer’s block is real or not.

“I don’t really believe in writer’s block, but I absolutely believe in getting stuck,” Gaiman told HuffPost Live on Monday. “The difference is one is imposed on you by the gods, and one is your own damn fault.”

Yup. I’m right there with him.

“If you turn around and go, ‘I am blocked,’ this is just something writers say because we’re really clever. It sounds like it has nothing to do with you: ‘I would love to write today, but I am blocked. The gods have done it to me,'” he said. “And it’s not true. Cellists don’t have cellist block. Gardeners don’t have gardener’s block. TV hosts do not have have TV host block. But writers have claimed all the blocks, and we think it’s a real thing.”

So completely and totally agree.

The kicker was when he shared his strategy for getting past a stuck spot:

“I always like to have another story, another introduction, another work, and I’ll just go and work on that, while somewhere in the back of my mind I’m churning over why I’m stuck and what went wrong and figuring out how to go forward,” he said.

This was a vindication of sorts. I have so many friggin’ projects going at one time it isn’t funny, but it is a coping mechanism. If I feel stuck on one, I move to the next. And the next. And the next.

Sometimes however, it just feels like too much. As if all of the “I don’t know how to proceed with this” catch up to me and I can’t stand to look at another one. That’s been these past two weeks.

Narrowing My Focus




At the beginning of the week I tend to focus on blog posts. By Wednesday I have accrued enough, typically, that I can finish putting together the weekly newsletter and setting it in the queue to deliver at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning.

At this point, I look at my week and think, “Well, I’ve got Thursday and Friday, and time on the weekend to get some serious writing done.

Thursday rolls around and I sit there…

I squirm…

I click on Quicken and review bank balances and stress over looming shortages…

I manage to type a few lines in a story, some story, before…

Well, crap, what happens next? I need to actually have some details here and more storyline would help.

I stop, frustrated, and visit [fill in blank with time-sucking computer location – Facebook/Pinterest/News sites/etc]

I manage to write a couple more lines and obsessively check my word count. i realize I have a looongg way to go and suppress the urge to gnash my teeth and wail at the injustice of the manuscript not writing itself. I think of my daily house zone, today was dining room and art room, and mentally beat myself up for not having it cleaned already.

I do a little “research” and find myself paging through Facebook…AGAIN.

I’m taking Facebook, Candy Crush, and email off of my list of open programs on the computer or my cell phone…

Maybe that will help me focus. And then again, maybe it won’t.

I need to give up the stuff that is taking too much of my time away from writing.

I need to narrow my focus even more than I already have.

Somehow…




Oh look, I’m out of water. Time to go fill up my cup…

Learning Curve With Scrivener





Scrivener Learning Curve

So I made the plunge into Scrivener the other day. I found the idea of it rather appealing – instead of scrolling through a manuscript each time I want to edit a certain section – instead I just go to the section.

It is sort of like a database for writers. You can add all of your files…Excel, Word docs, et cetera…into it for one stop editing and writing. And when your manuscript is ready to go, just hit Compile and it will put it in the correct format for uploading to Kindle, or as a manuscript for editing, et cetera.

It is, however, taking up vast swaths of hours as I import, adjust, and learn the ropes. As a result, I’ve done little or no writing in blogs or manuscripts.

Juggling of Projects? 

I envy one-trick ponies…I really do. At the moment I am in discussions on a possible non-fiction book project with an individual who recently received international news coverage. I can’t say too much more at this time other than, I would really like to work with this person and tell their story. I’ve sent a copy of my book The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale and hope to do a book that is part memoir/part call to action. One last tidbit…it would shed light on the prison industry in our country.

In addition, I’ve been chewing over the idea of writing smut for a while. I’m diving in, in a matter of speaking, and have set up a website and more as I work through ideas and more. Smut sells, folks, and I would love to make more than a latte’s worth of income on a monthly basis. More on this as things develop.

Lastly, now that I’ve finished my main learning curve with Scrivener, it is time to finish G5D (Gliese 581: The Departure). Yeah…working on that…sort of…

Interview With Unblocked

I meant to write a full post about my interview with Unblocked – a new podcast on writers. Charlie, who I have known for years through homeschool co-op interactions, interviewed me as her first guest. I was quite impressed by her list of questions – having been interviewed before by a variety of podcasters and on the Walt Bodine Show back in 2008, I can tell you that Charlie is definitely up there. She was well prepared, thoughtful, and sparked conversation on some great topics. You can find her website here, and listen to my interview as well as others.

Thanks Charlie for having me on your show!