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.

Just the facts…

I was musing over a few “facts” recently. I won’t wax long and poetic today, I’ve got a foundation to work on and then I’m going out for drinks tonight. Here they are…

Fact: I Cannot Stop Buying Books

It’s a compulsion. And if I am faced with the author, it is absolutely impossible for me to say “no” to them. Unfortunately, other authors don’t seem to experience this same compulsion.

This is quite possibly the reason I spent $65 on books today and only sold $30 worth of my own. Eventually I will run out of space…

Then I’ll have to build more bookshelves!

Fact: I No Longer Read as Much as I Would Like

With all of these balls I keep juggling in the air, I’ve got almost zero time to write much less read. This is a problem. I LOVE books (see above) and the thought of not being able to read them all makes me quite sad. Somehow I need to find time to read more…seriously.

Fact: Writing Books is a Lot Like Living in an Old House

It’s a labor of love. It takes hard work and dedication, and you may never see any profit from it.

Today, at the local coffee club, someone came up and asked, “Selling lots of books?”

I looked down at the two $5 bills in front of me, testament of the two organizing books I had sold by that point. “Not yet…perhaps I need to write more.”

They laughed, but I was serious. Eventually I will wear people down through sheer volume and genre diversity.

Aaaand It Ends…At Least for Me

Whenever I decided “hey, I’m going to do this” and jump in and commit – the time frame is inevitably months ahead of schedule.

For example, NYC Midnight. I got the early bird special, paid my fee, and signed up way back in November. At that moment, I was wrapping up a heavy class schedule and looking forward to about six weeks of down time for classes over the holidays. The puppies had just been born and I had no idea how much my life and daily life would be affected in just a few months.

That’s excuse #1.

Excuse #2 is a tried and true one…I panic a bit when given restrictions.

So my prompts were Romantic Comedy, Cheap Motel, and Meteorologist. I managed about 200 words, none of it romantic comedy (cheesy love story, perhaps, but not comedy) and just…bogged down.

I didn’t bother submitting in time for the deadline.

So my excuses are flimsy. Realistically, if I had really, REALLY wanted to, I could have buckled down and made it happen. Even if it wasn’t “make to the next level” material, I would have gotten something out there.

I didn’t.

Lesson learned and a big thumbs up to the folks that did. It just isn’t my thing, I guess.

Sidelines, Distractions, Empowerment and More

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

nekchs book

Genealogy and More

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

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

Women of Cannabis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classes, Classes, Classes

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

Writing/Living Balance

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

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


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

Open Seas…

I spent most of this week writing at every free moment I could find…on the blogs, that is.

I’ve been watching the stats closely, as well. It’s very interesting to see what people tune into. My dad’s guest post on TDN brought in quite a few extra readers, and my post on HA about an aspect of the book NurtureShock and the Inverse Power of Praise was also a big draw.

In any case, I’ve cobbled together ten posts, five for TDN and five for HA for next week and dutifully scheduled them.

And now, it is open seas from now until Saturday morning for…fiction writing!

I woke this morning at 4:08, told myself it was too early and managed to fall back asleep until 4:58. My deal with myself is that, if it is 5 a.m. I can get up, but if it is earlier, I need to try and sleep. With just two minutes to go, I called it time to get up.

As I got my coffee and a slice of yummy banana bread and butter, I thought, I really really need to work on War’s End. But if I get to a point where I’m stuck, I will work on Gliese 581 or CLR or something rather than do nothing.

As I got myself comfortable and checked my emails I added, And NO writing on the blogs this week! If I think of a post I’ll add it to my Google Docs – Ongoing Blog Post file.

Yep, them’s the rules.

The coming week is a busy one….

Monday – big cleaning and possibly going to a Savers 50% off sale in the morning if my cleaning ends up being in the afternoon.

Tuesday – I’m teaching a class at the house, that means I need to clean the house

Wednesday – WIDE OPEN!

Thursday – big cleaning in morning

Friday – big cleaning in morning

So, let’s see, I’m calculating…

At least 14 hours of writing time. And that’s not counting today and tomorrow (I’m hoping to send kidkin off to stay at her grandmother’s for the night tonight). So…maybe 20 hours total? I’d best get to it!

Current word count on WE2: 36,194

Time to turn that number up and move the story along!

Update: Well, it is now 11am and I’ve managed to push that word count up to 36,526. I will admit, I went off on tangents that included how to make your own vinegar, whether or not hard-boiled eggs are shelf-stable or not, and ‘fixing’ issues with my Character Descriptions file.

I can spin my wheels with the best of them.

BUT…I figured out what to do with Scott Cooper, and believe me, that was a biggie. Where does Scott Cooper go after the disastrous failure of the raiding party/kidnapping of Liza? What does he do for the next 5-9 years?

Well folks, that is exactly what I figured out. And I had been struggling with it for quite a while.

Now it is time to write the chapter “The Face of Evil”