Chores First, Marketing Second, and Then…

Chores First

They aren’t really chores. Writing isn’t a chore for me, but a freedom of expression.

Okay, all bullshit aside, sometimes it is a chore. But not in this case.

Pre-planning me, I need to feel like I have at least 6-12 months of short stories in the can and ready. So I’ve been working on those.

As you may recall, these short stories are for my email subscribers only. I am rolling out one of these short stories each month. So far I have written Forward Reach (January), 99 Problems (February), Reek of Bone (March), and I’m currently working on Incident in Philly (April).

All of these little stories provide back stories on the fiction books – from the War’s End series, Gliese, and the upcoming Chronicles of Liv Rowan series.

Marketing Second

I’ve seen my page reads flatline in the past week and that has me concerned. I wasn’t making a lot of money with Kindle Unlimited page reads, but it was at least some money.

As is my way, I went through the typical “What am I doing? This writing thing isn’t working, I’m a failure!” This happens with regularity. That said, it happens less often than it used to. I imagine that most people deal with a fear of failure and on a regular basis. Imagine if we didn’t. Imagine if we weren’t shackled by fear, insecurities, and even a healthy dose of self-loathing.

I’ve spent far too much time in that realm and I have no intention of returning.

I bought a book on Amazon – Mastering Amazon Ads, it arrived today and I’ve already read the first three chapters and created my initial ads which are currently pending review. I heard about it on The Creative Penn’s podcast and thought “I must have this book!” You can find the specific episode here.

Every time I think I’ve got it together and understand all of the ins and outs of being a creative entrepreneur, I’m smacked on the nose and reminded that I still have a way to go.

As for the Rest

As soon as I can possibly get through this learning curve, I want to return to writing. I’m battling a cold and a calendar full of appointments, but I hope that the dam breaks this weekend and I can refocus on writing.

I’ll wrap up  Incident in Philly and get ready for NYC Midnight’s Short Story Challenge to start on the 26th. There’s always plenty to do around here!

1/10 of the Way There

This past November, I began marketing my books in earnest.

And I saw results. Not earth-shattering, quit-your-job-because-you-are-an-official-writer-now results, but still. Results.

So for the entire year of 2017, I earned $2.32.

And so far this year, I expect that I will be paid $114.77 for November’s earnings in late January and $180.59 for December’s earnings in late February.

And I have to say, that is rather exciting!

Right now, I earn around $1,800 per month cleaning houses. I could make more, but I limit myself to one cleaning per day, and that is quite enough for this aging body, let me tell you!

The BIG GOAL is to replace my monthly income of cleaning houses with a monthly income from writing books. So, according to December’s earnings, I’m 1/10 of the way there.

I broke it down the other day and figured that my earnings in December had increased over November by 156%. And that if I could sustain that amount of increase, I would be able to say “Mission Accomplished” by July of this year. But instead, recognizing that the rate of growth I might hope for is not necessarily the one that I will see, my monthly earnings goals for this year are as follows:

$315 for January earnings

$450 for February earnings

$585 for March earnings

$720 for April earnings

$855 for May earnings

$990 for June earnings

$1,125 for July earnings

$1,260 for August earnings

$1,395 for September earnings

$1,530 for October earnings

$1,665 for November earnings

$1,800 for December earnings

Is it possible?

Could it happen sooner?

All Into a Special Savings Account

When my first payment of the year comes in from Amazon, I’ll open a new savings account. I’ll call it my FFCH (Freedom From Cleaning Houses) account!

I’m planning on putting every penny I earn this year into this special savings account. I figure that, before I can stop cleaning houses, I need at least three months worth of income ($5,400) AND at least $1,350 (3/4 of my current cleaning income) monthly earnings coming in from writing. That would give me a full year of savings to tap on a monthly basis if needed to make up any shortfall.

So that’s the goal. It’s on the board so it has to be real!

REALLY Big Goals

Obviously, $1,800 per month is not my ultimate goal. I would love to make more and I think I can, by doing the following:

  • Continue to produce content that readers will enjoy by:
    • Publishing a new book this year
    • Monthly short stories for my email subscribers only
  • Broaden my readership by:
    • increasing my email subscriber list through marketing and word-of-mouth
    • submitting short fiction to sci-fi magazine markets
    • participating in one or more short story contests
    • increasing my book distribution to other markets
    • marketing my writing through social media
  • Dialing down on marketing that works
    • giveaways and special price promotions
    • social media posts
    • getting my work promoted through book bloggers, radio interviews, et cetera
    • educating myself through podcasts and reading

I’ll be updating you on my progress as the months go by.

Big Day Today!

I woke up this morning to learn that the last day of November was my most profitable (in Kindle Unlimited page reads) yet. And I also made over $6 since midnight while I was still snoozing.

That’s super cool, folks. I look forward to doing the work to make that number grow and grow.

Dishing Sci-Fi on the Radio!

I’m excited to announce that I will be on the radio today talking with Gina Kauffman, the host of KCUR’s Central Standard to talk about writing sci-fi.

If you are a wannabe sci-fi writer, a reader, or just think sci-fi is cool, then tune in!

Tune in between 10 and 11 a.m. to 89.3 FM here in the Kansas City area or go to their website and click on Listen Live to hear it in real time. I should be appearing during the Arts segment of the show, between 10:25 and 10:40 a.m.

Update: Here is the link to the show. My segment starts about 15 minutes in…

Every Dollar Counts

At the beginning of this month, I made a teeny tiny goal – I wanted to earn $1 per day on my writing. I made that goal and then proceeded to nearly quadruple it. Here is a snapshot of my earnings for November.

And while it isn’t enough to retire from my “day job” of running a cleaning business, it is enough to inspire me to greater heights.

Get Your Free Copy TODAY (12/1) and TOMORROW (12/2) Only!

My first fiction book, War’s End: The Storm is available for FREE download today and tomorrow on Amazon.

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.

Reviewers have said…

“A great story. This felt like it was written by the hand of someone who actually was there. The book moved me from tears to hope. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.”

“This story is different. To me, it is unforgettable (although I would like to forget some of the parts portrayed). It is a heartbreaking, but uplifting story of a group of young children who are thrust into a very grown up and scary World, and how they deal with the grief and savagery around them. It is also about love, and finding family where you least expect.”

“This very compelling book follows Jess, a young girl whose parents did not prepare. They are killed and she is left to fend for herself. What follows is a great deal of pain and sadness. Be prepared to cry—I did. But in the end, Jess and her rag-tag collection of young fellow survivors live on to become an example for all of the strength of the human spirit facing adversity. It is a bit tough sledding during the darkest part, but inspirational in the end. Bravo!”

Download it today!

Subscribers Rewarded

I’ll say this clearly – I’m NOT SELLING YOU ANYTHING. I’m only asking you to let me give you something free to read.

What do I mean by that?

It’s simple. If you add yourself to my subscriber email list, you will ONE email per month. Inside of it will be my newsletter that will provide the following:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my already existing fictional works)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

I promise to NEVER share or sell your email address and you can unsubscribe safely and easily at any time.

Have a fabulous day, folks!

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.”

lol…

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

Email Newsletter

I write about everything from gardening to community, education, the writing process, DIY, and more. I maintain four blogs, write fiction and non-fiction books, and I am a community educator.

Click here to join the email list and receive ONE monthly newsletter that will provide you will all of the links to my blogs, updates on my writing projects as well as book promotions and special pricing.

Your email will NEVER be sold or shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Look Ma! It’s Working!

I have approximately 48 hours left in Facebook jail to go. As the hours and days of my six day sentence have ticked by I’ve spent much of that time writing in my blogs, reading about marketing tips and tricks, crafting tweets on Twitter, and obsessively (oh yes, OBSESSIVELY) checking my stats on Kindle Unlimited.

I have to say that, for me, Kindle Unlimited appears to be the way to go. To be able to offer your book for sale through KU, you have to check that box for KDP Select and agree to not market your book elsewhere.*

*Don’t try to be sneaky and get around it, they WILL find out and then ban you from selling on Amazon.

Every morning (and sometimes multiple times during the day) I have been checking the reports section. It looks like this:

The top graph is actual ebooks delivered. See the blue lines? Those indicate free books. I gave away over 1,400 in five days, so that massive number dominates and you can’t actually see the ebooks sold in the days since. I only sold four, but that has netted me $7.87 in royalties.

Let’s talk about that little number for a moment. I am charging $2.99 for the ebook and getting a 70% royalty for it from Amazon due to exclusivity. If I published through a traditional publisher, the most I would get on any paperback sale would be around 90 cents to one dollar. Instead, I’m getting twice that.

The second graph is Kindle Unlimited page reads. Readers sign up and pay $9.99 per month to be able to read “all you can eat” of the thousands of books in the KU section. Amazon pays authors $.00488 per page read, so my Gliese book is approximately 310 pages long or $1.51 once it is read cover to cover.

Write a shitty book that no one finishes? You will make little or no money. I say little or no because I believe that the reader has to make it to at least the 25th page before Amazon will begin crediting the pages read so far. So if you write an unbelievably shitty book and 90% of folks make it to page ten and quit, you get ZERO for those folks and only get paid for that last ten percent. And did those folks like it? Will they write a nice review? Or even finish it?

In any case, you get my point.

And being that I’m obsessive, especially about money and where it is going and how much is coming in, I created this little chart in Excel that I can update daily…

You will notice that folks started reading the book through the KU program on Day 2 of my free giveaway for Gliese 581: The Departure. I ran the free book giveaway from 11/1 through 11/5. On 11/6 through 11/9 I was promoting both Gliese and War’s End: The Storm. On the 10th, early in the morning, is when I managed to land myself in Facebook jail by posting 70 links to  War’s End: The Storm in a rather quick manner (just under an hour).

Now the sequel to  War’s End: The Storm – War’s End: A Brave New World has not been marketed at all – and yet is has page views. Here is a view of just that book…

So, $2.03 in page reads. Income grown organically by writing a book that someone found compelling enough to read the sequel to immediately after finishing the first.

All in all, my tiny little simple goal of making $1 per day for this month looks like it will be exceeded if things keep going the way they are. I have two more days left to serve before I can return to marketing my books through the promo groups on Facebook.

Two more days to craft at least four different book blurbs for each of my books. Two more days to Tweet away and plan my next promo days. And possibly, if I can fit it in, actually write during that time as well.

As I reach the halfway point in the month, my goals for November are:

  • Reach and exceed an average income of $1 per day on my writing
  • Build my Twitter, Facebook page, author website and newsletter audience
  • Market daily
  • Write daily

What are yours?!

Email Newsletter

I write about everything from gardening to community, education, the writing process, DIY, and more. I maintain four blogs, write fiction and non-fiction books, and I am a community educator.

Click here to join the email list and receive ONE monthly newsletter that will provide you will all of the links to my blogs, updates on my writing projects as well as book promotions and special pricing.

Your email will NEVER be sold or shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Income Goals

These Dreams

As soon as I typed those two words, I suddenly had Heart’s lyrics running through my head…

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside

But the reality is, I’m excited. It feels as if I woke up finally. I have FIVE books on Amazon. FIVE. Why am I not promoting the hell out of them?

And with just a few minutes a day of marketing on the Facebook groups, I’m seeing results. And that is just from ONE of those books I’ve written.

Now granted, according to everyone who has read it and reported back to me, Gliese 581: The Departure is probably my best book yet. However, letting the others sit out there, languishing, is silly. And now that I see that, I’m making some changes around here!

One Dollar a Day

“For just one dollar a day, your donation can feed a starving child in Africa…”

Apparently, lyrics aren’t the only thing bubbling out of my brain when I write subtitles.

But seriously, I need to start somewhere, right?

My huge short-term goal is to replace the income I make cleaning houses (currently anywhere from $1300 – $1650 per month) with income from my writing. But I have no idea how long that will take – weeks, months, years?

So I am starting with a far more simpler goal – I want to make $1 per day on my writing.

Kindle Unlimited to the Rescue!

Halfway through the free book giveaway on Gliese 581: The Departure, I noticed that that second line on the picture above, which indicates pages read through Kindle Unlimited had suddenly shown movement. Someone who was a member of Kindle Unlimited must have seen my book and instead of clicking on the Read Book for Free button, had instead simply began reading it under the Kindle Unlimited section.

This meant income for me.

How much income?

Well, not a huge amount in the bigger scheme of things – around $.004 per page. Yep, four tenths of a cent per page. But that has added up. In fact, it has added up to over $1.00 per day so far in November.

In the past 20 minutes I watched today’s number of pages read jump from 168 to 184 – so someone is reading Gliese 581: The Departure at this very moment, somewhere in the world.

And here is where I think I’m going to make my money.

The Nitty Gritty

I’ve already put it in the budget – so that means it exists as an expectation, a goal, and a driving force to get that marketing done every day. I’ve got a list of 368 Facebook pages I can promote in. Not all of them apply, some are for specific genres, some only allow book promotions on certain days or a certain number per day or week, so it isn’t me flooding the FB groups, all 368 of them, each day. More like 20-40 per day. And it takes about 20 minutes to do. I’ve got it down to a science of copying, pasting, updating my files and moving on.

And that’s just Facebook. I’m also reading up on other angles of attack to see what else I can get into. Podcasts focusing on authors, that’s going to be a big one.

Bigger Goals

One dollar a day is just the start. It’s a goal that I can accomplish in a short amount of time and it will also give me an idea of how quickly I can accomplish Goal #2 – Five dollars per day ($150/month), which I have set in my future budget as beginning in April 2018.

I guess another way to look at it would be that I will be trying to add another $1 per day on to my income each month. December $2/day, January $3/day, February $4/day, March $5/day – with at least a month of leeway in case things don’t move that quickly.

Goal #3 then expects $10 per day ($300/month) by October of next year and then Goal #4 would be $50 per day ($1,500/month). I don’t have a date expectation on that last one, but it will coincide with me stepping away from cleaning houses and instead focusing entirely on writing for my monthly income.

The end goal would obviously be a much higher amount than just $1500 per month in writing income, but I like to keep my short-term goals small and achievable. After all, I’m talking about taking my current income of $1 per day to $50 per day in a rather short timespan, maybe less than two years.

In short, I think that it is achievable and rather exciting to finally be turning my sights onto writing for a living!

Email Newsletter

I write about everything from gardening to community, education, the writing process, DIY, and more. I maintain four blogs, write fiction and non-fiction books, and I am a community educator.

Click here to join the email list and receive ONE monthly newsletter that will provide you will all of the links to my blogs, updates on my writing projects as well as book promotions and special pricing.

Your email will NEVER be sold or shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Dreams Deferred?

In amongst cleanings, my dad’s 71st birthday, and other busyness, here is the latest and greatest…

Notes and More Notes

Slowly, the plot, along with many details, are unpacking and taking up residence in my brain for Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World. It will take time, I’ve only managed to write 1,785 words so far in the manuscript.

I’m busy listening to science podcasts as I clean houses. I take notes along the way. Yesterday’s notes included:

  • Cassini’s descent doesn’t include images (a short story in the making)
  • Supply freighter to Mars or one of its moons (for additional supplies necessary to continue life there)
  • Radiation exposure in space and in the Habs (something I need to address in my story)
  • Need to exercise more (due to lower gravity, cardiovascular difficulties can increase if there isn’t more exercise) – *brainstorm – colonists watch movies and tv and “power” it (i.e. keep it going) with peddle power

After my day’s cleaning, I take the notes home and add them to my research file.

It will be a while, but I’ve at least begun on the sequel to Gliese 581: The Departure. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read it and want to, drop me an email, I’ll be happy to send you a free electronic copy in exchange for an honest review or you can always pick it up in the Kindle Store or purchase a paperback on Amazon.

Waiting to Hear

I’m waiting to hear from my beta readers on what they think of Schicksal Turnpike. Because it is a prequel, I’m wondering if NOW is the time to publish it. After all, prequels are often written long after a series has begun and serve to fill out a story, or its missing info and back story, after the fact.

One of my main questions to my beta readers is, “Does this make sense enough to stand on its own?”

If the consensus is that it does, then off to an editor it goes for further editing and then I’ll publish it on Amazon. If it does not, then I’ll shelve it until I’ve written a couple of books in The Chronicles of Liv Rowan.

Dreams Deferred?

My writing is intrinsically entwined with my projects and my life, so I can place this next bit of news here without a great deal of debate about whether it belongs in one of my other blogs or not.

For now, in the light of recent budget hits (refrigerators gone bad, real estate investments, and more), my original budget of $200 per month for a trip to Europe, and the plan to go on my 50th birthday in May 2020, has been deferred.

It is far more important to me that I set into place the basic foundation of our future. If my dad’s presence in our lives has taught me anything, it is to plan for your financial future and take care of your body, neither of which he has been very successful at.

I’m tackling both objectives head-on – I’m eating a diabetic diet and losing weight, and I’m investing in real estate with the goal of renting it out through Airbnb or straight long-term rentals.

Those two goals take precedence over a trip to Europe, even if I have been dreaming of going for most of my life. I know too that it might be incredibly difficult to go if Dad is still with us then. So for now, I’m putting it off, while still setting aside a fraction of my original planned amount. It will slowly grow in a savings account and be waiting for me to access when the time is right.

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

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.

IMG_0974 (1)

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

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.