Category Archives: Goals

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.

Taking Time for Learning

Taking Time for Learning

I listened to a great TED talk the other day by Eduardo Briceno. He was discussing how we tend to stagnate if all we are focusing on is performance and not taking time for learning or additional practice.

This hit close to home, especially since I’ve caught myself looking at all of the books on my shelf about writing and making the decision to not pick them up.

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Ignore the handful of business books in there!

Why?

I told myself, “You can either read about writing, or you can write. Choose one, because you don’t have time for both!”

After listening to the TED talk I realized that is not entirely correct.

Recently I’ve set down a lot of activities to focus on a few exclusively. Teaching was one of those activities I set down and I’m glad I did it.

Teaching classes took up a lot of brain space and time and it was often an emotional drain. I loved teaching, but it was a lot, and I was constantly having to change up my offerings, adapt to new ones, and shift with the seasons. It also meant time away from my family in the evenings and on weekends, the typical times that folks could attend my classes.

And most of my crafty, artsy, decorating stuff has fallen by the wayside as well. There will be time for it later. Perhaps between books when I’ve had it up to here with writing and editing. Or on the rare occasion that I am stuck in a car or waiting for someone.

As I look at those shelves of books on writing, on marketing, I can’t help but think I need to do something with them. The magazine markets book can go. I haven’t cracked that sucker in over two years. And I’ve got some business books in there – but I’ve also got some GREAT books that I should be reading. Books on marketing, but also on the art of writing, such as The Tao of Writing or The Artist’s Way. Even Robert’s Rules of Writing or [dear god in heaven, save me] the Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition books that have dogged my steps since high school…

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Ten or fifteen minutes a day. That’s it.

In any case, I urge you to check out the TED talk and listen to what he has to say.

And now I’m off to write again…or edit…or record…hell, I’m just going to READ!

 

Like a Taxicab Ride in Panama

Like a Taxicab Ride in Panama

As I write this, I am sitting in a rented room in Bethania, a section of Panama City, Panama, listening to my dad snore peacefully behind me.

And if you had told me two weeks ago that this is where I would be today, I would have told you that you were batshit crazy.

For a summary of the complete story, you can read And…I’m in Panama at my other blog The Deadly Nightshade.

And as for my writing projects, let’s just say that they now resemble something similar to a taxicab ride in Panama.

If you have not been to Panama then I will describe it. The taxis, as well as the rest of the cars, weave in and out of traffic in incomprehensible ways. The drivers laugh when I squeak in terror. They find it amusing. However, most of the cars I’ve been in are in varying states of damage, including one that had a spiderwebbed front windshield from an impact on the passenger side. Not terribly reassuring. It is also isn’t reassuring that THEY have seatbelts but I usually don’t.

But I was talking about writing projects, wasn’t I?

Sometimes your goals get to take a major weave and shift from what you planned. From the moment I answered that phone call on December 19th, I’ve been weaving in and out of shifting priorities in all facets of life.

In the end, I’ve found myself keeping a log of all of my Facebook updates as well as starting an actual manuscript that details this “beautiful mess.” (Thank you Jes, for that apt description). The manuscript is titled When God Laughs and I hope that it will serve first as memoir, but also as inspiration and even a cautionary tale.

I have called it this because, less than five hours after announcing, “Today is a WRITING day!” I received the call that would change all of our lives and send me 2,000 miles to the south, to my father’s side in the hospital. And ever since the saying, “Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans,” has been repeating in my head.

What would you do when faced with a terrifying challenge? I found myself tasked with leaving the USA for the first time in my life, traveling to a foreign country, and learning to get by without speaking more than maybe 30 words in Spanish. I had to find my father’s hospital, assess the situation, and then work on getting him back out of the country with an expired visa.

It has been a wild ride, believe me.

I’ve also been very, very lucky. Dad has good and generous friends here who have helped out in a myriad of ways. They have been lifesavers.

I have a couple of days left here in Panama. We fly out first thing on Sunday morning. And my dad is not well. He is frail, malnourished, and faced with multiple medical issues.

When God Laughs will be a story that nearly all of us can relate to. At some point our bodies will break down – either through natural use or abuse. There will be a time when we might not be able to do the most simplest of actions – cook for ourselves, clean ourselves, or maintain a house.

And what do we do? How do we structure our lives in a way that allows for a smooth transition from independence to dependence? What are our expectations for that day?

When God Laughs will detail our own journey – mine, Dad’s and our immediate family – as we learn our way, find our footing, and learn to thrive within this new paradigm.

And I’ll keep working on Shicksal Turnpike too.

For as long as I am able, my father will always have a place with us. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Edits and Free Days

Edits and Free Days
Edits and Free Days

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Free Days Start Tomorrow

I will be offering War’s End: The Storm for free Kindle download for the next three days. At this time, all of my books are part of Kindle Unlimited, so if you are a subscriber (just $9.95 per month!) you can always read my books for free.

However, if you are not a KU subscriber, then get the book while the getting is good!

If you have read Gliese 581 and are wondering what the references to The Collapse and the Second American Civil War are all about – War’s End: The Storm will explain it. Beginning in 2017, this book serves as witness to the socioeconomic collapse of the United States and the civil war that follows.

In the day after tomorrow, after the socioeconomic collapse of the United States, one young girl fights for survival. Violently ripped from her family, abused and now pregnant, Jess must somehow survive while fleeing those who pursue her. Jess must come to peace with the life growing inside her as she struggles to return home.

So get it while the getting is good – starting Wednesday and ending on Friday!

Kaplaran Universe

Schicksal Turnpike

Dee, my editor extraordinaire, has returned the first draft of Schicksal Turnpike to me. I’m reading through her suggestions now and will begin working on edits this week. My hope is to have the book done and on Amazon by early fall, but we will see what happens. Deadlines are flexible things.

Schicksal will serve as the prelude to The Chronicles of Liv Rowan, which is somewhat of a prequel to War’s End.

And for those of you chomping at the bit for a sequel to Gliese…all in good time, all in good time. There is a method to my madness.

It is still madness, but that’s okay, a writer is allowed some lunacy, don’t you think?

Project Funding

I am doing the last bit of prep on two different crowdfunding campaigns – Kiva and IndieGoGo. The reality of the matter is, I need to do something with The Cottage at the end of our property, and that means raising money. I mention it here simply because I’m mentioning it EVERYWHERE. I’m drumming up support and encouraging folks to contribute.

When it comes to Kiva, you get your money back, 100% of it.

With IndieGoGo, you are receiving perks in return for your contributions – everything from unique art to night’s stays at The Cottage once the renovations are completed.

So you aren’t sending money out into the abyss to never be seen again. I want to stress that because it is important to me that others understand I’m not looking for handouts. This won’t just help me and bring me income, it will also bring worth to my neighborhood and community.

Stay tuned!

3 AM Goals

3 AM Goals

I love to have our dogs sleep in our bed with us. Until they end up laying ON me, farting, or snoring – all of which they did last night. Which caused me to wake up at 1am, get up and put them in their kennels, and then try, unsuccessfully, to go back to sleep.

By 2:30, I had given up. I’ll sleep later, I guess.

Instead, my mind is full of goals. Damn those goals, I would have preferred to sleep! Here are some of the goals that popped into my brain as I lay there wishing I could go back to sleep:

Lose Weight, Gain Flexibility

I got on the scales yesterday for the first time in nearly a year. My weight fluctuates, and I only worry about it when I feel my clothes shrinking. I haven’t had to change clothing sizes in a long time and so I was rather surprised at the number on the scale.

231 pounds.

Considering that when you take in my bone structure and height I should weigh about 100 pounds less than that, I’m thinking I need to do something about it. Mainly that will consist of exercising a little more, in addition to my work in the garden, and making better food choices.

I have a ton of yoga videos I keep meaning to work out with. Maybe I’ll pull those out. They would sure help with the flexibility issues I’ve been having.

At Least One TED Talk Each Week

TED talks inevitably leave a smile on my face and a flash of inspiration. So I have (yet again) made it a goal to watch at least one TED talk each week. They keep my ideas flowing and my brain and heart in a healthy space.

Here is the one I’m listening to right now: The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers

“It’s about being the kind of person who takes the initiative to doubt the default and look for a better option.”

If you haven’t heard of TED talks, check out the main website here.

Write More

Again, Christine? Haven’t you said this a million times?

Shut up, you!

I keep coming back to the concept that, if I want to make money writing books I need to:

  • Write well
  • Write something others will want to read
  • Write MORE

That third item, that MORE part? It’s important. By sheer numbers of books (written with the first two salient points firmly in hand) will make a difference. Eventually, I can actually earn a living doing so.

As I was laying in bed, trying to sleep and my brain going a mile a minute, I thought of writing some “how to” crafts and cooking articles for local or regional magazines. I had limited myself before to just parenting, gardening and homeschool articles – but I think I could whip together some cool instructional articles as well.

One thing that I don’t want to do is let it take over all of my other writing projects. I tend to focus on chasing the money right now and putting off more long-term money making ideas.

Goals and Other Miscellany

Goals and Other Miscellany

50,000 Word Mark

I finally pushed past the 50,000 word mark on Gliese 581: The Departure. I’ll admit, it had me a little concerned. I consider a typical novel to be between 80,000-110,000 words and so far, at worst, I’ve ended up on the 80k side of things. My longest book was around 105,000.

Now don’t get me wrong, content is what matters most, but to properly tell a story, you really need to hit those marks if you are producing a book for people to read.

At least, in my mind, those are the rules!

In the industry, anything below 60,000 words is considered a novella. So I still have another 10k to go.

As Far As Content Goes

A habit I have fallen into is, once a story has progressed to a certain point, I begin putting in placeholders for the different details of the storyline. I know where its going and don’t want to lose the rhythm or the thought behind it, so I will create a chapter, title it, and then post a small summary of what is supposed to happen in the chapter. Then I go back to whatever I happened to be writing before the plot twist/inspiration struck.

So when you hear me say that I have “X chapters to go” – it simply is that. I’ve identified what needs to happen in the chapter, usually titled it and included a quote at the top, and all I need to do is write it all out. This often leads to more chapters being created, sometimes they don’t work or don’t fit and I delete them.

As I am heading into the final third or even the last quarter of the book, I do something else with regularity. I print off the Table of Contents and check off the chapters one by one.

  • Are they complete? Checkmark them.
  • Do they need a little/more/lot? Note that.

So I did that this morning. To date, I have:

  • Written 22 chapters that do not need anything additional
  • Written 10 more chapters that need a little additional detail to flesh them out
  • Written two more chapters that need more detail before they are complete
  • Started two chapters that need a lot of work to be complete
  • Identified four more chapters that I need to still write

So 40 chapters in all and from what I can tell I’ll come in at around 80k, maybe a little less.

I hope to be completely done with the first draft by mid-to-late September.

 

 

Goals? Maybe…

Goals? Maybe…

A few months ago, I was really wrestling with what to do. Let’s face it, balancing THREE different work/income earners into one day was simply too much. Especially along with unschooling the kiddo and general other house and home “gotta do’s.” Each time I considered trying to write more or teach more, I was wondering what I could focus my energies on and for just how long.

With the cleaning biz slowly fading away, I’ve gotten a little breathing room and incentive. NOT working is not a choice for me. So unless imbibing Mai Tais by the poolside begins to actually pay money (and then I would actually have to like going to the pool, much less drinking MaiTais), I have to work AND homeschool. At least now I can focus on the two career choices I have always preferred – teaching and writing – and perhaps, you know, actually make some income on the latter.

So I woke up thinking of goals…

  • built Twitter
  • write and submit at least three articles this week
  • work more on class prep – I have a “few” (15 or more)  Zendalas I need to get done
  • write 5,000 more words in Gliese 581 (I’m at 29k right now)

That’s just work. We are also juggling what to do with Dave’s Civic (fix it? replace it?), considering replacing some windows here in our house (or all of them, not sure yet), still working on quotes for The Cottage and deciding whether or not we can move forward this year, or next, with most of them.

I’ve begun reading Book 2: A Brave New World to Dave and Emily. Believe it or not, Dave has not read any of Book 2. Some of the parts are sure to be rather intense for Emily, but she is caught up in the story already, happy to be read to and excited to be listening to “Mama’s book.” Book 2 is far more tame than Book 1, so when we get to any of the intense sections I’ll probably abridge it for her.

Time to get some work done before the kiddo wakes up at nine.

Writing Update

Writing Update

I think it is time for a writing update.

That’s my excuse to step away from Gliese 581 for a moment and screw my head on straight. It isn’t easy killing off 99% of the world’s population with a virus, you know.

So Gliese 581: Departure is a hybrid dystopian/TOTWAWKI/sci-fi hybrid. Because, if you know me at all, I simply refuse to be defined by one genre alone. It simply isn’t in my nature.

In any case, if you haven’t read War’s End:The Storm and its sequel War’s End: A Brave New World, well, I really suggest you do that. Not just because they are good stories, but also because I write in one big ole shared universe. And I do love to further my favorite characters down through the ages. So while you might not see Jess or Chris, the main protagonists of both of the War’s End books, you will get to meet their children and grandchildren in the Gliese 581 series.

So I’m hard at work on Gliese 581: Departure – the first of two, possibly three books. And I’ve…

  • Identified 38 chapters (typically I title the chapters, write a brief description of what will happen in it and then move on, returning later to write the chapter)
  • Finished writing 17 chapters
  • Almost finished four more chapters
  • Started two more, but have significant work to do.

So…wow…I’m just over 50% done.

Nice.

I hope to have this book up and running (or ready for edits) by spring…

Yeah.

That is a big if. I’ve got a LOT of classes scheduled…as in over 50 for the first seven months of the year. But I would dearly love to get this done, edited and in print by summer.

You are going to buy a copy…right? Right?

Gliese 581 – I’m Back At It

Gliese 581 – I’m Back At It

Gliese 581

Just a quick post for those who were wondering (and asking), “So Christine, what’s next?”

What’s next is definitely Gliese 581, a science fiction series of at least two books, possibly three, we will see. At present, I’ve got about 17,000 words written and the first book completely outlined.

This series is set in the War’s End universe, so 80 years after the end of the Second American Civil War. Some of the main characters are descendant’s of folks you met in the War’s End books (Tina Farnsworth who went on to marry Joseph Perdue is the mother of Edith Sarah Hainey – Patient Zero in this new book)

And EcoNu is a new and re-branded Monsanto, up to no good in a new century – really is there any surprise there?

Throw in a spaceship, and a new planet, and maybe even a worldwide plague, and you will have a small snippet of the story to come. Stay tuned, I may throw out little bits and pieces as I go!

Writing Income and Goals

I’ve never been afraid of posting goals and income and I’m not going to stop now. As my involvement in writing for Bubblews is officially dead in the water, I took a few weeks to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. Part of me is gungho, “gotta follow the money and get myself established writing articles.” Another big part of me knows that if all I am doing is following the money, I will not be doing what I truly, truly love to do, which is write full and complete stories…books in particular. I get caught up in following the money, something I did with Bubblews, to the exclusion of all else.

If I had all day every day to write, it would be different. But I don’t. I have about one hour, maybe 90 minutes of writing, before I need to focus on kiddo needs and home needs and other things. So I took yet another look at things and decided I wanted to set a goal of selling $100 worth of articles per month starting with January 2015. And moving up to $200 per month by mid-2015. If I keep my goal small and easy to accomplish, I can also focus on my book writing. Because my goal there is to write at least one book a year. So far, I’ve averaged about four books in the past six years, and I know I can do better than that without sacrificing quality.

So for now, my goals for writing are:

  • Get Gliese 581: Departure done (I’m about 1/4 of the way there)
  • Write enough articles to earn $100-$200 per month
  • Continue to market/promote my books through Twitter and other social media sites

Enough for now, I’m off to write!

Goals – Gotta Have Them!

Goals – Gotta Have Them!

Exceeded Goals Last Week

So, I pleasantly surprised myself this past week. My goal of sending out queries – first set at 2-3 per week, is already at the ‘end goal’ of five queries per week.

Last week I submitted a total of SIX queries (counting from Monday through Sunday (yesterday). Today I submitted a new query, and that got me to thinking…perhaps I need to increase my query submissions. Perhaps I need to double them to TEN per week.

After all, I don’t have a ton of paying stuff out there, so I need to work twice as hard to get it going. Once I do, and the money begins to roll in, then I can take it a little easier. But for now, I have to try twice as hard until I make a name for myself.

At least, that’s my thought process.

In any case, my days are shaping up to be something like this:

5-6 a.m.   Wake up, check email, begin work

7 a.m.       Go downstairs with husband, eat breakfast, make coffee, talk for a bit, then upstairs to get back to work

7-9 a.m.    Work until kiddo wakes up, get her breakfasted, dressed and brushed (thankfully she can do all of this herself now) and either do some schooling, head to co-op, or go to a cleaning.

So really I have about 3-4 hours to work each day on writing. Afternoons I might get a chance, and sometimes at the LEARN co-ops as well. Weekends I also work for at least an hour or two each day if I can.

New Goals This Week

  • Submit at least two article/book queries per day (Monday-Friday)
  • Work on a book project (take your pick, I’ve got at least five to choose from!)
  • Begin going through all of my old Bubblews articles and turning them into articles
  • “Introduce myself” to at least three new potential magazines
  • Consider entering the next Writers of the Future contest

So I’m doubling my quota from five to 10 queries in a week. I hope to submit at least one book query this week – possibly the Quit Your Job, Change Your Life book that is 40% complete, or some other non-fiction project. Fiction books, unless you are well-known and established, typically need to be fully completed before shopping out to potential publishers.

And speaking of book projects, I need to review them, focus on one and continue adding to it. Perhaps QYJ, CYL, or perhaps one of the others. I won’t be sure until I dive into them.

I have a gold mine of ideas – bases for hundreds of articles – just in my Bubblews posts alone. So, I’m going to go through them, one by one, and see if there is something in them that moves me to write something spectacular and submit it.

Then I need to broaden my list of potential publishers. To date, I’ve submitted articles to five different magazine editors. I need to think BIGGER. I need to know multiple industries since I write in multiple genres – gardening, cooking, DIY, parenting, homeschooling, and more. I should know at least ten per genre, if not 30 or more. So again I find myself needing to stretch – I can’t just go with the ‘easy and familiar’ – I need to push out and find new people and make new contacts.

And lastly, I need to consider putting together a piece for the Writers of the Future contest. Either an offshoot story from the War’s End universe, something from the Chronicles of Liv Rowan (a rather intimidating 12-book series I will eventually get around to writing), or something entirely new.

Yeah, those goals should keep me busy for the week, don’t you think?