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.

Bigger Goals (and small ones)

Blame it on Jack Canfield…I certainly am!

In my internet travels – down one wormhole and out another, I found myself signed up for another marketing webinar Tuesday evening.

I must say, I’m not a fan of webinars, but at least they saved the sales pitch for AFTER the tips/advice (such as they were).

I don’t think I’ll be springing forward with $497 for their seminars, but it did get me to thinking…

NYC Midnight – Once More, With Feeling

This actually occurred earlier in the day. NYC Midnight announced their Short Story Challenge for 2018 and I took advantage of the early bird price of $45.

The first round will begin January 26th.

You can find out more info about the contest here.

I participated in the contest once before and then convinced myself that “I can’t write with such arbitrary rules and time frames.” Which was bullshit and self-sabotaging, to be perfectly honest.

So I’m going to give it another go.

Project List – Less Daunting Than You Might Think

On Tuesday morning, I was mentally kicking myself over my obsessive checking of KU page reads and stats. Which was then followed by obsessive posting on Facebook book promo groups in order to continue to push my books.

This has led to a zero sum game when it comes to new writing and I went to my two cleanings for the day and mulled over the mess, trying to find a balance.

That resulted in two steps.

  1. Move marketing to the evenings ONLY. This is the time when my brain is shutting down and not creating new content. I’m a morning person, so evenings are great for basic non-thinking, copy and paste blurbs to a crap ton of FB promo groups.
  2. List out my projects, assess what they each need, estimate how long that will take, prioritize the list, and set dates for getting each project done.

What can I say, I’m a goal-oriented.

So here is what I came up with…


Priority Name Current Status? What Does It Need? Estimated Time to Completion? Date Uploaded & Available
1 Get Organized, Stay Organized 95% – In revision and edits Import this into Scrivener?
Fix Picture Organization section
Add more images?
Finish Financial Organization section
Streamline end of book info to match all of the others
1 week 11/28/2017
2 The War On Drugs: An Old Wives Tale 95% – In revision and edits Correct info on hemp and varietals
Add call to action and review of where we stand
(don’t spend a lot of time on this, it isn’t going to be a huge bestseller – fix it, publish it and move on)
1 week 12/5/2017
3 The Hired Gun 25% done, possibly a little more The outline is there, I know where I’m going, I just need to write it. 1 month to write, 1 month to edit 2/15/2018
4 Schicksal Turnpike 80% done Either needs to be shelved until CLR comes out, or at least two more chapters added to explain this other world. 2 weeks to write, 2 weeks to edit 3/15/2018
5 CLR – The Chronicles of Liv Rowan 30% done This needs a lot of work as well. It sounds girlish, I need to tighten the prose, dial in on the outline, and add detail. 6 months to write, 1-3 months to edit 1/1/2019
6 Quit Your Job, Change Your Life 75% done Not much more 2-3 weeks left of writing (if that) and a month to edit 3/15/2019
7 Start Your Own Housecleaning Biz 25% done? Plenty 1 month to write, 1 month to edit 6/1/2019
8 Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World Barely begun A hell of a lot Months – at least six, maybe more 1/1/2020
9 I Bought a House for $25 20% done This needs a lot of work. For one, neither project is done. This goes on the back shelf. Unimportant right now 6/1/2020
10 When God Laughs In progress A hell of a lot Months, possibly years

I obviously have plenty to keep me busy. This list is subject to change, but for now its a start.

$50 a Day is Nice, But…

If I had one takeaway from the Jack Canfield webinar, besides being unwilling to spend $497 on their proposed training class, it was that I’m setting my sights too low.

Fifty dollars a day is a low goal. And yes, I am aware that my daily income from writing is FAR below that right now, but I can’t look at that and be satisfied. So, instead, I looked at the big number – the one that keeps us not just getting by, but flourishing.

And that number is higher still. My new goal is to make $350 per day EVERY DAY on my writing.

“If I can make that,” I told my husband, “you wouldn’t have to work.”

He nodded thoughtfully.

“So, shall we go watch an episode of the Punisher on Netflix?” I went on to ask.

He shook his head. “No, honey, I really think you need to get on that earning $350 a day thing.”


One dollar at a time, folks, one dollar at a time.

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So Close!

After my prime writing time this morning was spent looking up faux stained glass techniques, and other sundry work avoidances, I took a look at my current manuscript.

Schicksal Turnpike currently has 37 chapters – most of them completed and is currently at 83,596 words. I think I’m looking at another 4,000 words at most.

I identified what chapters are an issue right now.

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

After I finish these, I will begin my basic read-through. I read each chapter aloud to my husband, stopping and starting as I catch grammatical errors and more.

Then it is off for the first round to an editor to look at.

So close!

I’m out of time for today. It’s 8 a.m., time for the kiddo to get up, me to fix breakfast for that old guy living in my front parlor, and a dozen errands, housecleaning and homeschooling to get done.


Throwing Pasta

I would love to say that being a writer pays off.

And when I say that, I know that it has, not always in money in hand, though.

The reality of life is that I don’t have the luxury of staying at home and not earning money. Even if I did, I really wonder if I would. There remains in me an incredibly independent streak – one that doesn’t feel as if I am “pulling my weight” if I’m not contributing monetary value to the family.

As usual, I’m slinging the metaphorical pasta at the wall. I thought of this earlier, while eating breakfast and thinking of a Zentangle book I would like to get published.

Years ago, riding the Muni in San Francisco, there were these quotes in the buses. I loved reading them and many stuck with me…”The way to a man’s stomach is through his esophagus,” and “Throw pasta on the wall, when it sticks, it’s done.”

Right now I’m struggling with:

  • Adding richness and detail to my writing (I tend to skim, rather than read every word, so it is actually very difficult for me to add that to my writing – but no worries, I’ll manage to get over it!)
  • Figuring out what writing pays.
  • Figuring out what writing within that “paying section” fits within my abilities and interests.

That last one is a biggie.

I recently discussed writing smut with all and sundry. I’m moving forward with it, but there are layers upon layers of smut. The erotica, all the way to the erotic romance, to the plain romance…there’s plenty of layers.

I’m learning at the moment what I can, and cannot, stand to do.

Super-kinky? Probably not for me. Heavy BDSM? Probably not.

I tend towards adventures and suspense. I tend towards strong women, good men (although bad boys work, especially those with a heart of gold), and relationships between two adults who know what they want and aren’t afraid to go for their goals – in the bedroom and out.

Back to that pasta on the wall thing…

Years ago, my husband said, “It’s like you keep throwing out ideas for income, kind of like pasta, and seeing what sticks.” And I’m still doing it.

What works?

Not just for producing income but for feeding my soul?

My friend Kerrie writes articles on parenting, kids, and more. She wrote a great book on how to write the articles and sell them, and their reprints, to local and national magazines. I tried it, and her strategy works but I quickly realized that I had no real interest in writing parenting articles. I have my blogs, and that works for me, but getting published in magazines not only doesn’t excite me, it feels like a bad fit. So I move on and try something different.

  • Writing and self-publishing the books I’ve got in my head
  • Trying out some erotic romance
  • Contacting a publisher about helping me create a Zentangle-inspired book

Yep, that will be something entirely new. Mainly because I cannot figure out how to do it self-published the usual way – Create Space (an Amazon subsidiary) doesn’t have the capability to handle an art book and I really want to do one.

So that’s another thing to do this week or next – put together a letter and send it out to some publishers who have worked with other Zentangle artists and see if I can get some interest. Who knows, maybe that will be the winning piece of pasta on the wall!

Thank You Elizabeth Gilbert

My mother sent me an email the other day and it was rather well-timed. She wrote,

“I have just found one of the best, most inspiring “interviews” ever!  You will both feel its relevance.  Enjoy, it is for every creative person.

YouTube Elizabeth Gilbert & Marie Forleo on Fear, Authenticity

Love, YOO”

Note: YOO, by the way is not a typo. It stands for Your One and Only. We typically sign our emails to each other this way – I am her only child and she is my only mother, thus…YOO.

I need to show my mom keyboard shortcuts so that she can learn how easy it is to click on the website address, hit Ctrl+C, then go over to an email and hit Ctrl+V. I’m kind of like Doug in the movie “Up” – every time I went to YouTube to attempt to find this I was distracted by people, emails, or just YouTube in general.


In any case, my eldest was kind enough to find it, and then send me the link. Because that’s what thoughtful daughters do, and she certainly qualifies. Here is the video by the way.

Around 19 minutes in is when it gets really REAL…

And again at 33 1/2 minutes…

And again at 38 minutes…

And this quote…

“There is no better thing to spend your life doing than saying yes to that invitation.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I have these intermittent crises of faith. They used to come far more often than they do now, but I still have them. Recently, I asked my husband to take a drive with me, that I wanted to talk about some things. And boy did we talk, about so many things, but one of them was my writing and my contribution to our monetary situation.

I don’t get to not work, that just isn’t in the cards. Recently however there have been some declines in income and I started to feel as if I wasn’t doing my part. It’s bad enough that I bring in only a part-time income, but with it sitting at just 1/4 of what my husband was bringing in, it didn’t feel like enough.

Dave cleared that up and made sure I knew how much he supports my writing. More on that in a moment…

What I found interesting is how honest Gilbert is. She doesn’t give any false promises about how if you spend the next 10,000 hours writing you will become the next Hemingway. She also points out that not everyone will write amazing, life changing stuff. Writing is not your baby, it isn’t the sum total of your life or unfailingly profound and epic and it will have mistakes.

And that is okay.

What it made me realize is this is absolutely the BEST time for me to dive into writing. After talking with my husband (may I add – my loving, sweet, and devoted husband who puts up with me and supports me SO MUCH) I realized that we could cut a few costs, and that having Danielle living with us meant MORE time for writing (because she cooks around five meals a week, I LOVE that) , so I really have absolutely no excuse.

It seems that, after years of floundering about, we have reached a sweet equilibrium of sorts, where I bring in some money, enough to make up the gap. Dave as the main wage-earner is bringing in good money. Enough that, if we cut back on money outlay (by canceling any major fix-it projects around the house) for a year or so – we will be a-okay and make ends meet while I write, and write, AND WRITE.

Where will this lead to?

Honestly, I have no idea. But I’m really excited about the next 15 months. REALLY excited.




Fan Fiction

A few weeks ago my eldest mentioned that she was going to write a fan fiction piece on the 80s movie, The Labyrinth.

She looked a little bit embarrassed about it and mentioned that it wasn’t considered serious writing by some.

I happened to disagree. Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of the Darkover series, published fans’ works that were set in her Darkover world. That was my biggest example, but there have been plenty more.

I myself have never written fan fiction. But it isn’t an elitist thing, far from it. I simply haven’t read a story or watched a movie and thought, “I know what should come next!” I have certainly had plenty of those moments after a particularly engaging book or movie of “I wonder what will happen next?!”

Perhaps it is that I have my hands full of my own stories that aren’t getting finished in an expedient manner. Perhaps I haven’t encountered the right story and had an answer to what comes next fall into my lap.

Writing is writing.

I’ve met some who only read non-fiction, or the classics, or pore over philosophical tomes. And if that is what floats your boat, then by all means, read that.

My fiction writing, to date, has been disconcertingly dystopian in form. I say disconcertingly because, well, I would prefer it wasn’t so dystopian. I fear I chase folks away before they have even given the book a chance!

My own literary tastes run from science fiction, to non-fiction, from fantasy to horror, from humor to autobiography.

I’ve never been particularly caught up in the classics, but I do enjoy collecting (and reading!) a large miscellany of fiction books written in the late 1800s.

So I guess if writing is writing, then reading is reading.

Best get to them both.

p.s. If you are interested (and you should be), you can find Dee’s fan fiction story here. It is quite good, I’m enjoying it immensely!


Changes, Schemes, and Grand Plans

I think out loud.

Actually, I think quietly to myself and then bounce ideas off of others. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Mainly I have solidified, finally at the ripe young age of 44 years, on exactly what I want to be when I grow up.

I want to write.

I want to teach and inspire others.

I’m doing this, but I’ve allowed myself to become distracted.

I’ve allowed my concerns about money to dictate what writing I chose to focus on above other options that would produce money, just not as immediately as writing for Bubblews has done for me. And I’ve spent hours each day writing for pennies. Granted, those are pennies that added up to around $25 average income per day. Which may sound like peanuts, but really, really helped that bank balance.

Bubblews stopping from paying regularly was a bit of a shock to the system. I had convinced myself I was under a charm, a protective spell, that others simply couldn’t seem to find. My payments came in, with only two exceptions, within days after they were promised. And when they suddenly stopped, in late September, right as I had committed to writing for publication (predominantly on Bubblews, but also magazine submissions on parenting, homeschool, and so much more) I was thrown for a loop.

However, I have dusted myself off, and re-assessed my situation.

I looked over our current budget, which is quite lean, and asked myself if I was willing to set aside some projects – like working on The Cottage, and focus on writing instead.

Whatever I write now and get accepted (when it gets accepted) will take months before I see any payout. Was I willing to commit to that uncertainty?

The answer was “yes.”

But it isn’t just my decision. I have a family, a husband, and a certain number of responsibilities. I HAVE to bring in income, and the more the better, but after explaining my thought processes and getting a “I support you fully” from my husband I’m jumping in now, with my eyes wide open and my heart committed.

I’m going to continue cleaning houses – we can’t give up that income. But I won’t be taking on any new clients. I will still teach classes, perhaps I will even expand my offerings, which are now at 46 different classes. Teaching, sharing knowledge and inspiring others has quickly become a “must do” that I don’t see abandoning anytime soon. And I will be promoting my books and continuing to maintain my three websites: The Deadly Nightshade, The Homeschool Advocate, and this website (of course!).

And I will be preparing articles and submitting them. I’m going to try and work my way up to five per week. Right now I’ve got two in process and more ideas popping up all the time. Like the classes I teach, these come from my own experiences, voice, and life. I hope I can find the right publications to fit those words into.

So in any case, comment away. Please. I get so much damn spam that I sometimes wonder if anyone is really reading these. And I really like that you do. Just so you know!

Here is Your Chance to Be Part of My Next Writing Adventure!


I need YOUR help with a small, but important, detail of my next book.

I’m writing a science fiction story next and it based partially on fact.

Here is the FACT part …

In 2010, American astronomer Steven Vogt announced that he had discovered Gliese 581g, a tidally locked super-earth with the potential for human habitation. There were doubts raised, and recently several articles have come out discounting the possibility of this planet even existing.

Ever since I heard about it I knew I had to write a story about it and I have pages of notes and some of the manuscript begun already. So imagine my dismay when I saw questions arising as to whether or not the planet ever existed. There went my story plot!

I could have begun the search for a new planet, but then I realized, no, this could still be real if there were a better, stronger telescope out there to find it.

I will include the articles debunking the existence of Gliese 581g saying that this planet was dismissed as imaginary but “with the installation of the [fill in the blank] telescope on the Mars colony Steven Vogt was vindicated in his discovery.”

So, now is your chance. What should the telescope and observatory be called? Should I place it on the Moon or on Mars and why?


This Life…What a Ride!


It hits me in unexpected moments – that realization that I have lived a rather interesting life.

Despite being an agnostic with atheist leanings (or perhaps because of that status), I find myself contemplating the lessons this life has given me, the strengths I have developed through adversity, and the deep happiness I find in sharing my knowledge and experience and empathy with others.

I’ve still got a long way to go. I figure I’m somewhere at the halfway point of my life, and I am fascinated at the thought of what another 43 years can or will teach me. Who will I be then? What turns will my life have taken?

I haven’t been to Europe yet, or even visited that many states east of Missouri, but my life has been full of learning opportunities. Perhaps it is in how we look at the events in our lives that dictates what they become as we leave them behind.

My first husband was a deadbeat, determined to control me through emotional abuse – from this I learned (albeit years later) that I was actually a good person inside, full of capability and love and potential.

My parents were at times functional and somewhat there for me – from this I learned to be functional ALWAYS and to be aware that, if I couldn’t be/do it all for my daughters, I could at least warn them of the down time coming.

My paternal grandmother Nana, who passed away nearly three years ago, just three days short of her 100th birthday, had a rather wavy moral compass. After my parents divorced, that moral compass became a little more skewed (she REALLY did not like my mother after that) and I got caught up in the middle – but I still learned so much from her – from her I learned to fight/scrap/get messy in order to strive for what I wanted in life. She was a spitfire and she put her indelible mark upon me.

My maternal grandmother was far from cuddly or warm, but she taught me frugality, imbued a strong DIY spirit in me, and gave me a love for gardening and home crafts.

My second husband taught me to trust my gut, ALWAYS. I stopped listening to others try to tell me what I wanted from a man after that relationship!

I’ve been homeless twice in my life – it taught me the importance of again, trusting my gut, working hard, and not letting others pull you down.

And along the way I have met so many people, full of flaws, full of hope, full of life…they have taught me patience, anger, fear, love, loyalty, kindness and so much more.

This life…what a ride it has been…what a ride I have left to go!

(This was originally posted on Bubblews at: http://www.bubblews.com/news/2176722-this-lifewhat-a-ride)

And She Rises…

Whether I wanted to admit it or not, I was in a holding pattern. Mainly this consisted of holding my breath, wondering if this job would ‘take’ for Dave and I could breathe a little easier. Nothing is worse for the creative spirit than wondering if you are going to lose your house and cars because you can’t pay for them.

It got down to the bare bones, and finally the first check came in. Last night as we settled in for the night I asked him, “How are things going? What’s your feel for this job?” He talked for a while and I felt like it was an appropriate time to say, “Great, ’cause I’m thinking of NOT trying to find more cleaning clients.”

The economic downturn has really put me in a position of clear understanding – in times of financial stress, people cut the non-essentials, and housecleaning is definitely a non-essential. Factor in two of my clients having financial troubles and another leaving the country in July, and I’m looking at 1/4 of my business each month being gone.


Housecleaning has always been a means to an end. I did it to make ends meet on my terms, not someone else’s. And really, where can you work for five hours each week and make half of what you did working full-time in an office?

This morning I am 42 years old. The clock is ticking. Half of my life has passed and somehow I feel the best is yet to come. Why? Because I finally understand what makes me happy, what moves me, and the impact I can have on the world. Through doing what I love.I write, I share my life, my interests and passions, my love for the world around me and it seems to return, kind of like a boomerang, slowly but surely, it is returning.

This morning I read a Facebook posting, it read, “Oh my sister!!! I love your blog:) Happy, Happy Birthday to you! We are more connected now than we ever knew back then. Enjoy your kids and your day!”

I’m not sure which blog she is referring to – The Deadly Nightshade or Homeschool Advocate – but that’s okay. It was very sweet to hear from her. Her mother had lived with my father – and together we had lived altogether for about six months before I left home at 17. That makes us sisters in one way or another.

All this is to say that, as we lay in bed last night Dave asked me, “Is the housecleaning biz an excuse to not get on with your writing?” The answer was no, but with a codicil…I have a hard time letting go of something that is obviously making me money to focus on something that, to date, is obviously not. It is a war between doing what I love, and making sure my family is taken care of, doing my part.

Yesterday evening I pulled out the Chronicles of Liv Rowan. It is an ambitious project, a projected twelve books in length, and I itched to begin. But I have a story that is unfinished – War’s End Book 2. And I am compelled to finish it before moving on. It is wrong to leave a story unfinished…and it will further center my writing and prepare me for the epic journey I must begin.

It’s time to begin…again.

And she rises…