Re-Assess and Re-Evaluate

As a professional organizer I can tell you that spring and fall are the perfect times for organizing. As the changing of the seasons occur, there are also great changes happening within our homes (children or not). I’m having one of those as I struggle to add homeschooling to my daily regimen. Months of notice notwithstanding, I’m still struggling. It’s hard, and sometimes it feels as if my writing comes last.

I feel as if I’m constantly starting, stopping, and re-assessing. I’d stop to wonder why, but I’m too damned busy doing a half-dozen other things.

That last sentence was a joke, by the way.

The reality is, I’m not sure where I need to proceed or which project needs finishing. So, you get to come along for the ride. Here are my current projects and their status/problems that I need to overcome:

The Hired Gun 

Status: 33,650 words written, 14 out of 29 chapters completed.

Problem: I know where this story is going, I’m just on the fence as to whether to make it an erotic thriller or tone it down to a romantic thriller. (in other words, do I write full sex scenes or just the lead up to them?). Also, this is the first book in The Hired Gun series, so what I decide must hold for the following books. I’m finding myself more on the side of romantic thriller than I am on erotic thriller. This is also uncharted territory for me – so I’m feeling uncertain about each word I put on the page. I’m unwilling to walk away from it, however, because I think it (and the series) could be really good.

Plan for NowFigure it out, move forward, I’ve got a ton more to write.

The Chronicles of Liv Rowan

Status: 37,685 words written, approximately 40% complete.

Problem: There are several. 1) This is the first book in a twelve book series, so I’m concerned about not writing myself into a corner or creating a rule that I can’t live with later on, 2) It feels immature. This is probably due to when I began writing it (around 20 years ago now) and it lacks the full breadth of wording that fantasy books require. 3) I have most of the story mapped out, after all it is the first of twelve, but I need to make sure the plot twists make sense AND that the main plot is well laid out.

Plan for NowRe-visit this story regularly when I’m at an impasse with other projects. Keep working on it!

When God Laughs 

Status: 96,994 words written.

Problem: Most of those words are Facebook posts, which I have diligently copied into the chapter Facebook Posts. Also, I’m unsure where I’m going with this, or whether it has anything to really offer.

Plan for Now: Keep taking notes, this isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

The Kapalaran Chronicles 

Status: 36,035 words written, with 6 1/2 short stories completed so far.

Problem: These stories are first published on my website for my email subscribers only. That means they are limited to one per month. I plan to wait until I have 24 short stories before removing them from the website, editing and then publishing them in a short story anthology.

Plan for Now: Continue to write them. This only helps to flesh out the Kapalaran Universe and will be helpful later for those interested in my fiction works.

Start Your Own Housecleaning Biz

Status: 14,509 words written, about 20% complete

Problem: This is just at the beginning. I’m still trying to flesh out details on this manuscript because I want it to be a little different than the typical books out there. I want the reader to feel supported in those first few days, weeks and months when they start their business and avoid some of the learning pains I experienced.

Plan for Now: Continue to take notes and write when I can in this. Maybe take on a chapter or two per month?

Quit Your Job, Change Your Life

Status: 56,790 words written, around 2/3 completed.

Problem: I still struggle with Imposter Syndrome. I’m questioning who I am to write this book, and why folks should listen to me. I’m also challenged by writing more of an intro, a steady move from “something is wrong” to “let’s do something about it.” I think if I could just knuckle down, I could finish this in a month or so and have it ready for editing.

Plan for NowI really need to knuckle down and GET THIS DONE. I would love to have it done, edited, and available for sale by December 1st. It would be well-timed for New Year’s Resolutions.

Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World

Status: 11,638 words written, story not fleshed out yet, and it is just in the beginning stages.

Problem: I have vague ideas, but not a solid plan for this. A friend was surprised over this admission a few months ago. “I figured you had it all planned out!” Nope. But I have plenty of ideas on what I want to see happen, and the general flow of it.

Plan for NowFind time to focus on this. It’s sitting there, untold, and that’s not helping anyone.

I Wrote a Book, Now What?!

Status: 903 words, just the barest of a plan sketched out

Problem: There is no real hurry on this, mainly because I plan to take notes as I go and write details as I think of them. This is a long-term project.

Plan for NowContinue to take notes and write occasionally on the subject. Mainly, this book is meant for me. You would not believe the number of details that go into self-publishing! I try to write them down as they occur. Hopefully this will help others, but first I hope it will help ME!

There are at least two dozen more ideas/projects, but these are the more fully formed ones.

Where to Focus???

Then there are the other issues and challenges. Like my lack of progress on learning how to write ad copy, market my books, et cetera.

To make money on my books, I must spend money, and choosing where to spend the money seems to be the most difficult decision to make. I dabbled in Facebook ads and lost my shirt, AMS ads yield a tiny trickle of sales and I spend less than I make, so I continue with those. Recently, I made the decision to go wide instead of limiting my book offerings to Amazon – this means I will eventually see the KENP page reads go away, since those all come from KDP Select. I’m hoping to return to Facebook ads once I understand better how it all works, but that means actually taking the training I paid for, which means time away from other things.

Sometimes it all feels like a big round robin. If I didn’t have a foster child, if I didn’t have a homeschooled child, and if I didn’t have an elderly parent to care for – I could be focusing on these tasks better.

But I do have these things. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way, not even my dad, pain in the rear that he is. So somehow I need to make it work.

I’ve added Rescue Time to my laptop in order to see where I am spending my time. I highly suspect social media is to blame. The reality is this, if I want to get my books out, I need to write them. Nothing more, nothing less.



Rinse and repeat.

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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Juggling Priorities – Writing on Bubblews

I’m feeling good these days, although when I really get into the swing of things I feel like a world-class juggler.

So after some serious down time over the holidays – and fighting off depression – I emerged with some specific goals for the New Year.

I’m going to take them one post at a time…


Five posts a day. Five posts a day. I can do FIVE posts a day!

That’s my mantra these days. And it has worked okay for the past week. Now…we will see once we add in the OTHER part of the equation, which I will discuss tomorrow, or possibly the day after, my various book projects.

For now, writing on Bubblews with a goal of five posts a day seems doable and could hopefully make the difference between balancing our budget or NOT.

I’ve seen a lot of arguing/posts back and forth asking “what is the perfect number of posts” or “should I only do 1-2?” or “anyone who does more than three posts a day is just in it for the money!” – Every opinion, every inflammatory phrase they can think of.

At the risk of opening up a can of worms…what do YOU think? What is the perfect number of posts? Or is there?

Missed a post on Juggling Priorities? Here is the list of previous posts…

Homeschool –

Finished a chapter – “First Summer”

One of the decisions I made in my two months of waiting for data to be recovered was to slightly change up how I write each day.

First, my goal remains the same – to write each and every day

But where I found myself tripping up is that I would sit down to write on the fiction projects and find myself distracted by the blog posts. I would then rationalize to myself, “Well, I HAVE to do the blog posts, people are depending on me!” So I would do them first, and then it would be late and no time left to write on the fiction projects.

Excellent delaying/procrastination tactic, don’t you think?

In any case, I decided that I would make a rule. I must write on a fiction project, which obviously is War’s End Book 2 now that I have my files back, FIRST, before writing on the blog posts. It’s a delayed gratification. People read my blogs right away, they don’t necessarily see a book until weeks or months down the road. So its harder to write the fiction, there’s no one there clapping me on the back and telling me I’ve done a good job.

Well, except for me…and maybe Dave…[sigh]

Yesterday I had a horrid headache, there was also Storytime at the Library and a cleaning. So I got zero writing done. The problem with this? Well, I was supposed to have two blog posts written for Wednesday – one for TDN and one for HA, but I had nothing done. NOTHING at all!

Last night I also had to teach a class. By the time I returned from that, interacted with the family and had a bite to eat it was friggin’ 11pm at night. Little ‘ole me, who is usually peacefully snoozing by 9pm, was up way past my bedtime.

All night I tossed and turned, knowing I needed to get the blog posts done, but also quite clear that the fiction came first.

So I just finished writing the chapter “First Summer” in WE2. I’m up to 45,519 words now. So I just spent half an hour or so writing about 500 words. Not bad, and I learned an interesting twist to the story.

It is always interesting to see where a story leads you. Who knew that Jess was a writer? And best yet, the type of writer she is. But the details on that will wait…who says I can’t keep a reader in suspense?!

It is now 7:15. I’m going to grab some coffee, let the puppy out of her box, and then get to work on the two blogs.

I’m feeling damn good about myself!

Update @ 1:45: Up to 46,546 total words on Book 2. I’m making progress but I think I’m done for the day. I made another decision, one that I may change my mind on later, but, who knows? Basically, when I would get to a point where I felt ‘stuck’ I’d attach a little note on what I thought should happen in the chapter and then go on to the next one. “Young Love” was one such chapter that I did this with. After I finished “First Summer” I began paging through the manuscript and found myself at “Young Love” – I started to go past it and find something else ‘easier’ to write. But then I turned back and dove in. It is strange where the story leads you. It’s also oddly satisfying. I had to do just a touch of the obligatory review one does in sequels. It had been on my mind for a while, and something I was doing my best to talk myself out of, until I realized it would add to the depth of the characters, add to the backstory, if I simply did a little review and then moved forward in the chapter. It really worked.

So I’ve written well over 1,500 words today. Yippee! That’s satisfactory progress, indeed. And I’m plunging forward with the difficult to write (read that “I don’t know what happens, so I try to avoid it”) sections. Go me!

Organizing, Being Distracted, It’s All the Same Thing, Right?

Okay, so first an update on Book 2…

Current word count: 38,140

Number of chapters: 35 (Yeah…I added two more…SUE me)

Chapters Written: 12 (in other words, over 1/3 of the book has been written!)

Chapters in Progress: 4 (these have either been started, are almost done, or need some editing)

And don’t even get me started on the short stories I would like to write on the War’s End series and post here on the website under Snippets. Let’s just leave it at this – I’ve started a file with lots of notes, titles of stories, and a spot for ‘date completed’ when I finally get around to writing and posting it.

Now I’ve mentioned before the idea that I have several very different storylines and genres all connected within the same universe, right?

If we were to lay them all in order, they would look something like this…

  • Schicksal Turnpike – 1950’s through 1960’s
  • Chronicles of Liv Rowan – 1980 through 2010
  • War’s End – 2012 through 2030
  • Plague Tale – 2099 through 2128
  • Gliese 581 – 2130 through ???

It seems that for every word I type, a thousand more projects and side shoots spring up. It’s like a plant growing out of control!

Right now, I am going through the Master Character list, which is neither complete nor accurate, and adding new characters from the War’s End character list to the Master list. Why? Because it helps keep all of the dates and facts straight. There’s nothing I hate more than to be inaccurate, especially since I’ve advanced the timelines of several of my stories several times in order to accommodate War’s End and when it should start versus when it was published in the real world.


Try standing in my shoes.

Back to organizing…and writing.

Should I Break My Own Rules?

I woke up this morning thinking of War’s End. At 6:03 am, my eyes popped open (headache free for the first time in nearly a week) and I thought, I want to write on War’s End.

Now if you have been paying attention to the ‘rules’ –  that’s a little bit of a problem.

Sundays are the first day of my new weekly cycle. After all, I’ve got my readers to think about here, folks! On Monday, dozens of curious readers will go to TDN or HA to find out the latest and greatest in gardening and self-sufficiency or all about our latest homeschool escapade.

I will NOT let them down.

My ‘rule’ is to write all of the TDN and HA posts for the week and then spend the rest of the week working on fiction projects. Right now that means War’s End. I figure it makes good sense. Secure my ‘fan’ base, promote my writing daily, entertain many. That is, after all, what writing is all about, right? (Well it is that way for me at least!)

What concerns me is losing focus on either side – the daily nonfiction becoming humdrum or the fiction lacking that fire it needs.

I guess my compromise has to be, write at least one day ahead in my daily posts before writing in my fiction project.

If I look at it that way, I could get away with just sitting down and writing one post for HA, because I have already written posts on TDN for Monday and Friday.

On other news, I think that I have completed the outline of Book 2, complete with chapter titles, and now know where the book is going and how it is going to get there.

“What?” you say, “you didn’t already know?”

No, not really. There has been a clear beginning – Jess back in Warsend. There have been some clear middles – a main character falls in love, siblings must reunite. And a clear end – that Cooper bastard has got to get his comeuppance.

Other than that…nope.

To date, I have begun to write, or fully written, 14 chapters. There are a total of 32 chapters identified as needing to be written. Also, as of yesterday, I’ve written 28,045 words. I think I’m looking at another 100,000 word book.

So, with all of that said. I’m going to do another quick double-check on my calendar. If I have any crazy days coming up than I will try to write ahead for those as well. I guess I’m off to write at least one homeschool post, maybe two.

And then? WAR’S END!


Well, it’s 2pm and I’ve managed to complete seven of the ten assigned posts for the week. Hooray for me! And that was while also going shopping for groceries and household goods at three stores and running through two more loads of laundry (and some folding). I still have one more post for TDN and two more for HA to finish out the week. I think that, as a reward for such good behavior, I will give myself the choice tomorrow of writing fiction OR finishing some of the posts.

Go me!

Day 4 of NaNoWriMo

I didn’t get as early as start as I had hoped for. I started writing at 6am, but I did a bit of ‘story organization’ first. Mainly I listed the different story threads I want to cover.

So the starting word count for yesterday was 6,175 and I only wrote about 350 words yesterday.

Current Word Count: 7,687 – so wow, maybe 1,162 so far today? That doesn’t sound right. I think I must have written more yesterday. Maybe 1,000 or even 1,500 words. Let’s say I wrote 1,000 yesterday. So that would mean 7,175 starting word count for today and 512 words for today.

That means I’m behind goal for yesterday and today.

Not much time today, at least not until evening. In an hour we have to leave to get E’s vaccinations, then Dave’s one-on-one, (E and I will go grocery shopping during that) and then a quick dinner and back to see Amy for what is hopefully our last family counseling meeting EVER.

So…hopefully I’ll get an hour tonight to write. That and the next 45 minutes. Off I go!

7:15 – Current word count: 8,584 – so 1,409 words so far today? I’m running out of steam, so I’ll probably be short of goal again, but I think I can make up a lot tomorrow and this weekend.


Status Update: Book 1 – 28,313 words (nearly 1,000 words written today) and new file ‘CLR Series – Book Summaries’ created, currently @ 381 words.

I’m having difficulty. Part of it is fear that I don’t have enough of a word count, which is silly, I know it is. But part of it is also a lack of clarity. I have a main theme, but I really want to make this story complete, with plenty of subplots that will weave their way into the following books. So here I am, at less than 30% of goal, and already halfway through the story I’ve plotted out. Or am I?

In any case, this was the reason for the new file, which summarizes each book’s twists and turns in bullet format. So far, I’ve summarized 2/3 of the book written to date. I’m hoping it will help me gain clarity once I reach the uncharted (read unwritten) part of the book.

See…I know where the book is going and how it ends, but I’m concerned I don’t have enough for it to be a full-fledged book. My goal is that each book is approximately 100,000 words. I’ll be more than satisfied with 90,000 or even 80,000…hell, I might even be cool with 70,000. But here I am, at just under 30,000 and worried the book will wrap up at 50,000 words. It really needs to be novel-length.

All morning, as I stopped and started on the writing path, I found myself worrying over word counts. Which is stupid. It makes for bad storytelling when all you can think of is of how to thicken the soup. Eventually you’ll have a nice thick soup, without taste or substance.

In any case, I will just have to get back to it, although it will most likely be tomorrow. the princess will be off and away to my mom’s for a few days and I will get at least two days free to write in her absence. That will just have to do.

How It Works

First things first, here is a quick status update:

Book 1: 16,318 words (I’ve written about 1,500 words since last update)

Notes: 18,530 (no real change)

I am pleased to say that I have finally figured out my own writing style. Somehow, understanding how it works for me, is reassuring. It isn’t chaos, I have a plan, and it actually…works.

I wondered for a long time just how a writer went about writing a series. I mean, how do you keep track of all the details? The subplots?

Do you envision everything from the beginning to the end in one fell swoop or what?

Karen Moning wrote in an author’s note at the end of her most recent ‘Fever’ book that the Fever series came to her, complete. I guess that, to paraphrase that, I would say that she knew how it would begin and how it would end.

Here I am, with twelve books outlined (more or less) and ready to pump these babies out. So two answers come to mind.

Organizing a series – I currently have a binder titled “The Chronicles of Liv Rowan.” Within it I have the 37 pages of my Notes file printed out. It includes a Table of Contents. After that I have sections, complete with tabs with designations like: Maps, Creatures, Genealogies (printed from an Excel file), Structures, Characters (printed from my Characters file), Weapons & Artifacts, and Calendars (MS Outlook calendars I’ve printed out for the specific times each book occurs.

So that’s how I keep it organized so far.

As far as the details…

Well I take the main plot outline from the Notes file and plop each one into the individual book manuscript file and then break it up. A sentence here, a paragraph there, separated by chapters that I name as I begin to write. So with each chapter, as I begin to write, I have a short synopsis to work from sitting just a few lines below on the page. It looks something like this…

Liv dreams of Snerdoom attacking her and then the dream changes to that of the scene from the tunic, where man and Snerdoom get along.

Or something like this…

the girl Aine talks about this bedchamber where the Bishop Payne’s representative stayed recently. Aine shares the details of the visit with Liv

In other words, I don’t have a step-by-step “and then this will happen” level of detail. I discover a lot as I begin to write. And the story flexes and alters as time goes on. So for those wondering, that’s how it works for me. How about you?