Category Archives: Distractions

Tick Tock, With Copious Amounts of…

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

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

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

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

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!




The Big RESET

The Big RESET





resetbutton1

The new season of The Walking Dead premiered last Sunday. I have been an avid watcher of the show since its inception – just four episodes – that had me riveted, heart pounding with fear and dread, as the characters struggled to understand the world around them.

A few days before the season premiere, I tuned into NPR where they were discussing the popularity of the show. Why was it popular? What kept audiences coming back for more? 

Several opinions were put forth, but the ultimate reason was not. Perhaps it isn’t politically correct or acceptable for us to examine what I believe is the REAL reason so many people find The Walking Dead to be appealing (if that’s even the right word).

For me, and I think for many others, it is the ultimate reset. You push that big red RESET button and everything, EVERY THING, changes. The rules of the world we live in, with its laws, its courtesies, and its unspoken compromises simply ceases to exist.

My daughter Danielle has pointed out repeatedly that our primal minds can only really recognize a total of about 300 individuals. After that, all the rest simply become “those others.” In a world filled with seven billion souls, that’s a whole heck of a lot of “others.”

I grew up in the shadow of the Cold War. I was a teenager when the movie Red Dawn (the first rendition) came out. To my eyes, and to many others, this was not a far-fetched notion. We were just waiting for the other shoe to fall. The dismantling of the Berlin Wall in the late 80s gave only a brief respite before the first Gulf War, then the Twin Towers bombings and the second Gulf War that followed rapidly behind.

Our media focuses on crime and sensational headlines to sell air space and keep people reading online and in print. And my gut reaction to all of it has been to write dystopian fiction, to dream of the big reset, and wonder just when those streets will run red with blood.

We never imagine though that hitting that big reset button will probably kill us off. No, we think of “the others” and imagine ourselves walking through the post-apocalyptic, dystopian, zombie-ridden landscape – alive, fighting the good fight, surviving the best we can.

So there you go. My thoughts on the big RESET. Thoughts? Opinions? Disagreements?




Frame of Reference

Frame of Reference




 

Today would have been a great day to get some writing done on Gliese 581: The Departure. I had nearly four hours, alone with my thoughts, but despite several attempts, it simply was not happening.

That’s okay, I’ve got a fall-back…well…several.

I spent some time journaling. I try to do this every day, but usually manage about four entries per week. And then I decided to pick up a book I had barely delved into, The Circle by Dave Eggers.

After two hours of obsessive reading, I’m nearly halfway through the book and let me say, it’s giving me some serious mental shivers.

I am struck by how random events in our lives connect in the oddest of ways.

This has been a bit of a tough week for me – a family member had said some pretty hurtful things and it took me a couple of days to process it all. Truth be told, I’m still processing. Thin skin, by the way, is not a bad thing. I might feel a lot of emotion, but the opposite would be far worse. I would prefer to feel hurt, recognize it as a warning that I was around someone who is toxic, and allow it to help me establish boundaries where boundaries so obviously need to be laid.

My eldest and I have talked it over, this issue with the family member, and it has brought up some memories from more than 20 years ago, when she was young and I finally got the courage up to leave my first husband. There was no small amount of verbal and emotional manipulation in that relationship aimed towards me. Note on this for future reference – Be NICE to your meal ticket, not mean. Eventually, the meal ticket gets tired of being trod upon and goes away.

As I explained to my eldest, “I had no frame of reference, no differing opinions, only the one message – that I was the one who was flawed, I was the one who was failing – as a mother, a wife, a daughter, and as a human being.”

When you are surrounded by that message, when you have no other to go on, it is a very difficult thing to extricate yourself from the situation. You might entertain the sneaking suspicion of wrongness, but in the face of no other message to the contrary, what else can you believe? And I think that, given enough time in a situation like that, enough years of that kind of mental control or manipulation, you could spend the rest of your life wondering who is really at fault – you for failing to be the person your partner or family member expects you to be, or (again) you for allowing them to carve you into something you are not?

Dave Eggers is doing an excellent job weaving a “circle” around the protagonist Mae that mimics this very same experience. A Facebook friend recently directed me to the term “gaslighting” and its description isn’t too far off from what is occurring in the book, albeit under friendlier pretenses (so far).

Returning to my story for a moment – this same family member used the term sociopath to describe me on at least one occasion, and when I challenged it, the person craftily replied, “Well, I don’t know that you aren’t a sociopath.”

That messed with my head for a while. So much so that I mentioned it to a psychologist I was seeing at the time. He laughed at me. A lot. Note: Sometimes psychologists can be jerks. And when he finished laughing he explained, “The fact that you would even wonder if you were, or be concerned about it, is evidence that you are not. Sociopaths could care less about what others think.”

Whew, not a sociopath. Well, that’s one mental condition I don’t have to worry about suffering from!

Now back to the book. I’m very curious to see where this story leads, and how The Circle ends because it is Big Brother meets Facebook meets Social Design on steroids. It is creepy, unsettling, and a look at a plausible reality in the near future. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

And as for that family member? There comes a time when we can choose to spend time with the people we hold in high esteem, and avoid those who we do not…for our own personal, emotional well-being. And that is the route I am taking…for reals this time.




What We Do and Finding Time to Breathe

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:

http://aeon.co/magazine/psychology/once-upon-a-time-how-stories-change-hearts-and-brains/?utm_source=Aeon+newsletter&utm_campaign=96c8c57d9f-Daily_newsletter_January_12_20151_12_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-96c8c57d9f-68662081

Love,

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!

Sidelines, Distractions, Empowerment and More

Sidelines, Distractions, Empowerment and More

What a week, what a week…I’ve gotten distracted, sidelined by a week-long trial subscription to a wealth of old newspapers, attended a Women of Cannabis event, and so much more. It’s meant that not a lot of writing has taken place. As always, my world is not a simple “gee, I’ll write and do nothing else” kind of place. I’ve got a kid, a part-time cleaning biz, a crap ton of new classes coming up to teach, and so much more. I guess that makes me a writer extraordinaire.

nekchs book

Genealogy and More

On New Year’s Day, one of the heads of the Northeast Kansas City Historical Society was kind enough to drop by a book that we helped sponsor. Pay $50 instead of $40, wait a few months, and voila, our house and its history are featured on page 115 & 116!

But that started me thinking about history (of this house, The Cottage, and then of course both branches of my family as well as history of the inhabitants of these houses) and I got in touch with the historian who did research on my house, and was directed to newspapers.com, which is an awesome resource. I can’t tell you the thousands of articles my searches resulted in and that I sifted through. It was amazing and time-consuming. I was determined not to take on any additional projects (or money drains), so this foray was simply fro a trial subscription. I ended up canceling before the seven days were up but I fully intend to do this again at another time. I highly recommend the site.

Women of Cannabis

On Thursday evening, January 8th, I attended a Women of Cannabis event that was put on by Show-Me Cannabis. Now before you get the wrong idea, I’m not a pothead. Yes, I’ve tried it. Yes, I’ve often enjoyed the effects…BUT…I’m a Type A personality. From the moment I wake up, until the moment I close my eyes at night, I have a lineup of activities I want to accomplish. Getting high puts all of that in a wiggly little basket and incites me to regret ever bothering to touch the stuff. I’ve got waaaay too much to do, folks.

I support reform, however. Chalk it up to my libertarian nature. No one has the right to tell me what I can and cannot put into my body. And most certainly this applies to a PLANT. It is rather terrifying to me that we can be prescribed horrible drugs with body-killing side effects, addiction and more, but we cannot legally smoke or ingest a friggin’ weed that can grow without pesticides in just about every part of our country.

In any case, here I was in a room full of women. Amazing women. Smart, witty, entrepreneurial, go-getter type women. Mamas and sisters, and daughters and wives – they were awesome. Honestly they were. I will admit that I was really empowered by these women and seeing who they are and why they were there.

I was asked by one of the Show-Me Cannabis organizers to be a regular contributor to their blog, and I’m thinking about it. Honestly, I’ve never seen myself as an activist type. I’m the one who sits in the corner, says little, watches everything, and then writes a synopsis of it.

Then again, when I say it like that, perhaps I should be contributing to the blog. Huh…

I will say this…this supposed “war on drugs” needs to end. Not because I’m some tokin’ hippie that believes we should all run through a field holding hands, barefoot, and singing kumbaya. But because, it is a smokescreen (no pun intended) for the dark reality – this “war on drugs” is a war on people. It is a war on families, our culture, and our country. We are now imprison more of our citizens for non-violent drug offenses than CHINA and RUSSIA. Missouri has a strong chance for legalizing marijuana in 2016…and despite the fact that I am a sit in the corner and observe type, I am quickly realizing I need to step up and do my part. And I need to do what I do best…write. So, I guess I’m in.

Classes, Classes, Classes

As usual, I took a six week break from classes over the holidays. December and early January are filled with holidays and family-centric activities, so it was nice to take a break and not teach. However, I looked at the calendar with a mix of excitement and horror…I’ve got four classes in the last two weeks of January, three that I’ve never taught before! So I’ve got to prep for those, review info, finalize handouts, create supply lists, et cetera. Yet another thing that is distracting me from writing. And it isn’t just MY classes, but my little ones. Life is about to get very busy in our little homeschool world starting next week – KC-CIRCLE co-op, LEARN co-op, Harmony Project, acting lessons at The Coterie, and weekly visits to Science City. We are full of activities…and I’m hoping my laptop is good to travel to most of them!

Writing/Living Balance

Someone once said to my husband, “She writes a lot about writing.” And I do. Because, to some extent, the process of writing (or finding time to write) still amazes me. It is an ever-changing landscape. It is rarely as simple as sitting down and announcing, “I will write a book now.” But it also is simple at the same time. You have to start somewhere. You have to begin the process. You have to dive in and commit, even partially, to the journey.

So I’m here…and I’m not…and I’m working on it. Every day.

Marketing

Please buy my books. I won’t get rich, but I can’t tell you how important it is to me that if you are reading this, you would entertain the willingness to take it one step further. I don’t make much, but it makes my heart jump every time I see those sales reports. I know I suck at marketing, but I have to say, I write pretty damn good stories (and facts). Read them, leave reviews, give me a few “atta girls” – I need it more than you can know.

Look at Me, I’m Juggling!

Look at Me, I’m Juggling!

juggling

I’m trying desperately to keep all of these balls in the air. I really, truly am.

I realized it this morning, as I switched between reading the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) newsletter, to updating a book in progress, to checking my calendar for the day – that I had written much in the world of Bubblews. And not just that, but with two applications in to BlogHer for my two main website/blogs The Deadly Nightshade and The Homeschool Advocate – I really needed to get to writing on that as well!

BlogHer wants to see at least 2-3 posts per week in a blog. I have been…remiss.

This past weekend I roped my husband into helping me paint the utility room. This next weekend I want to paint the hallway (we already have the paint, it’s just sitting there waiting), and tonight he needs to hang two curtain rods for me.

What curtains I got done this fall and winter are already hanging, the rest will wait for next fall.

I have new classes to prepare for (I need to create handouts and Powerpoint presentations) and tomorrow night I’m hosting a book club so I kind of need to clean my house. Remember, I run a cleaning business, so not having a clean house of my own is bad for business – no matter how much I remind them that it is like being married to a plumber and never getting your own plumbing done!

And did I mention I’m writing/taking notes on two new books? Non-fiction – which really messes with my creative side and getting War’s End book 2 done. One book will be on how to self-publish and market successfully. I’ve found there is no better way to teach/write it, then to take detailed notes along the journey (I actually stopped in mid-sentence a moment ago and clicked over to it and added a section on “Staying Professional” while marketing the book.

And just now I did it again and added a section on proofreading your book before uploading it to be published.

Is it any wonder Book 2 of War’s End is NOT finished?