Transitions

Emily at Apple Camp on The Plaza this summer

“I think I might want to go to school this year.”

It took me by surprise.

A few minutes later and my mind was reeling. I had been in the middle of homeschool planning, a host of nonfiction history books for middle schoolers were already in the mail, my membership with our homeschool co-op had been paid for just that morning, and I had a list of documentaries I wanted to focus on for monthly viewing.

I had hit that high that I get as the ideas of what to teach and what to cover start to energize me and I begin to look forward to what we will learn in the school year to come.

The feeling pretty quickly fades. I’m good at some aspects of teaching, but I suck at others. And while it might seem strange, the subjects that I am good at (English, Writing, Spelling), I think I’m pretty terrible at teaching – and the subjects I suck at (Math, History), I’m actually pretty good at teaching.

Experimenting with her latest concoction in the Art Room

Yet still.

I sat for a moment feeling bereft and Em saw it and asked if I was okay with it. “We can homeschool, if you really want to.” She said it with a worried look on her face.

“No, baby,” I told her and smiled, my heart expanding in my chest. “Just give me a few minutes to adjust, and I’ll be okay. I love you and if this is what makes you happy then we should absolutely do it.”

I got up from bed where I had been browsing Netflix, sat down at my desk, and dug in. I didn’t just want to send her to public school, I wanted to send her somewhere where she could continue to blossom, a charter school, that focused on areas she was interested in.

Hogwarts Camp this summer

It took about an hour for me to find some decent contenders…

  • Crossroads Middle School
  • Citizen of the World
  • Kipp Preparatory Academy

As I whittled it down to just two (Citizen of the World unfortunately only goes up to 6th grade this year), I began to get excited. My sadness vanished as I imagined her going to either Kipp or Crossroads, especially Crossroads, and meeting new friends, and even walking back to my husband’s work each day after school since she will only be a couple of blocks away.

I imagined what my days would be like, especially once the Airbnb income replaces the need for me to clean houses, and I found myself smiling at the thought of the three other members of my family departing the house at the same time in the morning and returning together in the afternoon. How nice that would be to have hours to write, handle housework, and manage the Airbnb properties.

It was one thing I didn’t have to put off – the writing – in order to be present and available for Em during the weekdays. I wouldn’t have to try to balance enough schooling with sneaking in some writing time.

When I became pregnant with Em, I was in the middle of my first semester at UMKC. The first, and only, semester.

I have zero regrets over dropping out of college to have her, and stay with her, these past 12, almost 13 years. She is an amazing girl who is loved by so many, and, even in the throes of adolescence, is full of confidence, kindness, and is well-grounded.

I look at our little family and know that having an intact household, with a mom and a dad who love her, having all the wonderful things we have in our lives, and in this past year a younger sister, has all helped make her into the wonderful person that she is.

Goofy kid!

The sadness of her wanting to go to school was momentary, fleeting, and it turned into happiness at the thought that she was able to verbalize the request and that I was able to hear it not as a rebuke or vote of no confidence, but as a reminder that she is growing and is capable of going out into the bigger world.

The applications are in, and now we wait for one of the schools to contact us. Until then we are doing “homeschool lite.” I hope it is Crossroads. It would be perfect – location-wise, curriculum, and even the athletics department. Above all, I want her to be happy. When I told her that, she laughed.

“Mama, you don’t want me to be ‘just happy’ – because if that were true, I’d never have to clean my room.”

Em with her latest baby, a kitten we named Spice (we have what we believe is her older sister, Sugar, aged 2 years as well)

Okay, kid. You got me there. I want you mostly happy. With a clean room to go along with it!

Me, after Little Miss added a hat that is a little bit on the small side!

Everything is On Hold…and that’s A-OK!

Do you ever get to the point where you just stop and think, “Why am I doing it this way? It’s making everything way harder!”

That realization struck me in two different moments this week.

Example #1: Nope, We Don’t Need an Extra Loan

As we have edged closer and closer to finishing the project of turning a 900 square foot bungalow into a welcoming and safe Airbnb for guests, we have had unexpected expenses.

Life is like that, after all. Just when you think you had covered all the bases, something rears its ugly head to divert you from your straight line. In this case, it was a 100+ year old cottonwood tree, the last cottonwood on our property and the biggest. It is at least 80 feet tall and sits in back of Cottage West.

One day, I was working at Cottage West shortly after a spate of rainy days and noticed that it seemed…dark…and overly green in the back of the house. It turned out that a HUGE limb and broken off and landed on the roof. We were suddenly faced with the fact that we needed that giant cottonwood out of there, and it was going to cost a pretty penny.

I was so used to paying off our credit cards each month in full and mega-paying towards other debts so that we didn’t have to pay finance charges, that it never even occurred to me that perhaps, I could just pay less on the credit cards (oh no, a little bit of interest instead of 0% interest!) and afford it.

Example #2: Stop Writing, Focus on Finishing Cottage West

The second lesson hit yesterday as I sat down in front of my computer and stared at the screen. After all, my short story for August was almost done. I had already written 7,000+ words. I knew where it was going, I just needed to finish it.

But as I read the words on the screen and tried to type, my mind filled with the following…

I wonder how long each of the tasks we listed in our “to do” list will take?

I need to find some seating for the nook in the attic.

Should I add paneling to the sides of the attic stairwell going up?

And so on.

Finally, I stood up and accepted reality. This too can wait. It can wait for one month until Cottage West is finished and up and available on Airbnb.

It can wait.

We are in the home stretch. The colors of the walls in the different rooms make me smile. I feel a fierce joy run through me. Pride, a sense of accomplishment, and the realization that, together with my husband, I am making my dream of restoring a sad and neglected house to one of functionality and joy is almost here.

Five years. Hard work. Scrimping. Saving. Dealing with unscrupulous contractors. Mistakes. Learning curves. And a hell of a lot of sweat.

Cottage West is coming soon and I have a “to do” list today that consists of:

  • Go by Dirty Don’s and find some deals for Cottage West and our house
  • Floors Direct – purchase hexagon tile and grout for bathroom
  • Clean and then paint clawfoot bathtub
  • Clean and paint molding in house (I won’t get it all done today, but I’ll make significant progress
  • )
  • Work on decorating the old windows in order to hang them in the west exposure windows (so folks don’t have to look at the decrepit house next door)
  • Find a pedestal sink on FB Marketplace
  • Find vintage metal chairs to spray paint and put on back and front porches

The writing is on hold, and that’s a-okay. Because by the time I’m done, I’m going to have a masterpiece that will be earning us money like nobody’s business. Stay tuned!

p.s. Here is my master “to do” list, along with the estimated hours to complete. Because I’m THAT kind of planner!

To Do’sEst. time to complete (in hours)
Finish painting ceilings in all areas of the house2
Install Beadboard (walls and ceiling) back porch3
Paint back porch2
Install flooring in bathroom6
Clean and paint tub and feet3
Put tub and fixtures in2
Have Robert finish plumbing in bathroom0
Paint cabinets and doors6
Install bead board inside of backs of built-ins and
paint interior
3
Refinish floors24
Hang/install lights8
Install washer and dryer1
Paint molding20
Install molding throughout house6
Install kitchen cabinets & appliances8
Install wall box in living room for burglar alarm3
Furnish & decorate8
Add molding to exterior door in back2
Add vinyl lattice to front deck1
Paint sections of front porch roof white1
Install new door knob sets on bedrooms,
bathroom, and sunroom doors
8
Add keyless entry to front door2
Add cabinets, “built- in” bookshelves, and bead
board rest of attic (walls and ceiling)
10
Install beadboard in stairwell to attic?3
Remove door alarm from door that leads to
back porch
0.5
Total Hours:132.5

Bad Facebook! No Money for You!

Short and sweet – Facebook is acting like an angry parent and I’m absolutely boondoggled.

Yesterday, while reading Help! My Facebook Ads Suck!, the author advised that I NOT post an image of my book cover, but instead post an image that is evocative of the book yet eye-catching.

This month’s marketing assignment is to sell more copies of Hired Gun using Facebook ads and so I’ve been mucking along doing okay, but not great using the book’s cover as my ad image.

So I decided to take the book’s advice and see if I couldn’t pull in more sales with a couple of different ads.

The first one looks like this:

That one, with all the cleavage and the dollar slot? That was approved.

Here’s #2…

This one was denied. I appealed and they stated, “This ad isn’t running because it can’t promote adult products or services that highlight sexual pleasure.”

Um, seriously? Because, if you look at the photo. SHE HAS CLOTHES ON!!!!!

“Dear Prude, remove stick from ass and approve ad.”

Oh wait, that might get me banned. Okay, I’ll just re-submit the ad and use this picture…

Learning to Accept “Not Right Now”

There are so many things I want to do. Places I want to visit, experiences I want to have. There are books I want to write, a life I hope to have.

But there is also that big ole reality check. Reality check says, “Sure, you can go to Europe, once you have the money.”

Aw crap, just sunk another $20k into house renovations so that Cottage West will be another step closer to finished.

I’ve been learning to accept “not right now” for a long time. All my life, really.

But it is that delicate balance between “not right now” and “not ever.”

“Not right now” is planting the iris and waiting for the plants to emerge, to multiply, and eventually spill from their borders.

“Not right now” is planting that stick and waiting for it to turn into a tree.

“Not right now” is putting on a new roof, and windows because then it won’t leak. It’s not earning money, but it isn’t costing me additionally in damages through weather and raccoon infestations.

I wanted this year to be the year I broke out and started writing full-time. I wanted it to be “the end to cleaning houses is in sight” year.

I wanted this year to be the “I wrote three books in one year!”

The reality is that in the next few weeks, I’m going to be so busy painting, hanging cabinets, re-installing molding, hanging curtains, refinishing an old door, and countless other things, that writing two more books this year is not going to happen.

Instead, I’m going to focus on:

  • My health – getting this damned A1C down to a normal level, stretching, yoga, meditation, and regular cardio exercise in order to lose weight
  • Short stories – I have nine of them I need to write – six to finish out the rest of the year and three more for next year’s monthly newsletters
  • Cottage West – I need it up and running and earning us money. Who knows? If it succeeds fantastically, it might make the difference between me having to clean houses and just running the Airbnb properties!
  • Yard/Home – I’ve got a couple of art projects (Van Gogh bathroom ceiling and decorative windows) and also a section of the yard I hope to develop into a orderly (and expansive) herb garden next year. I’ve also begun studying landscaping, but I’ll really dive in next year with more and more perennial varieties I haven’t ever seen before.
  • Family – It’s summer, and it is time to go to the water parks, the pools, and more. Maybe we will go on hikes, explore more of Cliff Drive, and just get out and about more. I want to spend time with my daughters
  • Marketing – Continue to learn how to market my books effectively and in a financially savvy way.

That’s a heck of a list, folks. I’m going to continue to plan, plot, and tease those future books out of my brain and onto paper, but this will not be the “I wrote three books this year” year.

Maybe next year.

The Death of Toast (and other sad tales)

Last September, I had health insurance and finally was able to schedule an appointment with a new doctor – a full physical. She looked at my A1C numbers and said, “You are dangerously pre-diabetic. You need to lose weight, change your diet, start taking Metformin – if you don’t you are looking at full-blown Type 2 diabetes.”

I started on the smallest dose of Metformin, 500 mg, made some effort to go towards a keto diet and marched back in three months later, sure that my A1C would be back down into the acceptable range.

It wasn’t.

It remained at the same number – 6.2

We doubled my dose of Metformin, which has played hell on my bowels, and then my dad was moved to a nursing home and I, well, I fell off the keto bandwagon hard. Hell, I had missed eating carbs, and my homemade ice cream. I had hated having to hide the junk food so Dad couldn’t find it.

But with a doubled dose of Metformin, surely that would bring my A1C levels down, right? At least, that is what I reasoned. My hopes were dashed today as my doc shook her head.

“Your A1C level is 6.1”

No more toast for me. Worse, no more rice. No more sweets. Not at all. I mentioned that I made my own ice cream and used half sugar, half xylitol in it. “I’ll make it with all xylitol from now on.”

She shook her head. “You need to eradicate all sugar from your diet. That includes the artificial sweeteners,” she said. “You need to get your body to NOT be used to sweets.”

Cue the gif of Snoopy wailing here.

No more ice cream?

No more toast?

No more homemade bread?

I read somewhere recently, perhaps in The Obesity Code by Jason Fung, that you can look at consuming sugar like a big jar. When you are born, the jar is empty. Every time you eat sugar, it adds up in the jar, and once it is full, that’s it, no more sugar! Any time you do consume it, it’s spilling over and causing havoc.

And that is what my sugar is doing. Spilling over.

I had asked the doc if at the level I’m at now, 6.2 or 6.1, if that number is causing damage to my organs. She thought about it for a moment and nodded, “Yes, it is.”

So the friggin’ sugar jar is full. If I don’t want to continue to damage my body, if I don’t want to end up with vascular dementia from a crapload of mini-strokes like my dad, or fatty liver disease (another side effect of diabetes and I’ve had some higher than normal numbers here as well), then I need to do something drastic.

  • Lose weight
  • Eliminate sugar and carbs
  • Exercise

And I need to do it now.

When in Doubt…

Sometimes it feels like life is a constant start/stop of projects, ideas, and more. I feel so wishy washy, can’t I just settle on ONE plan and be done with it?

But life isn’t linear. Just when I have a good groove going with winter, spring pops up. And the gardener in me, cannot sit still and write. Instead, I’m out in the garden, dreaming of landscaping, flowers, paths, fences and more.

I fall down internet rabbit holes and spend hours paging through plants, birdbath options, and ideas for ponds.

And then, as summer edges in, and the heat starts (it will be 92 today, thank you very much!), I come back to myself and realize…

That this is NOT going to happen unless I get my crap together.

So I listed out the problems:

And then came up with some possible solutions…

I’ve also put myself on a spending freeze. I’m addicted to Facebook Marketplace, and I’m always finding gorgeous pieces of furniture, an old-fashioned mailbox I wanted for Cottage West, and so much more. That has to stop. I have to focus on what is important – getting more books out there, and marketing the ones I currently have out effectively.

A compromise. At this point, committing to write 1,000 words per day seems like too much. But writing 500 seems almost too little. Therefore, 750 words is a good in between number of words.

So, when in doubt, list it out.

The updated due dates

And hey, I’ll be 49 tomorrow! I’m entering the half-century mark of my existence on Earth. My oh my, how time does fly!

Shopping Won Over Writing Today

Em came running with the book, “I HAVE to have this!” and then how could I resist a “no mess” coloring kit for the little one?

I should be writing. This week is a “light” week when it comes to cleaning houses. Just two of them, and both are relatively quick and easy.

I snapped these up in a hurry – vintage Coca Cola boxes – just $10 each! I also found a Rubbermaid dish drainer and Em asked for the marshmallows for the party.

So I should be writing.

This gallon of Soy Vay teriyaki sauce was just $2.50. How could I pass it up? I see a lot of stir fry and teriyaki chicken recipes in our future.

But the weather has been so nice. It seems wrong somehow to be hiding inside at my computer.

I’m not much of a martini person, but these enormous mixers were just ten cents apiece. TEN CENTS! Pomegranate martinis for all my friends!

Yesterday, Em and I swept most of the pathways and half of the sidewalks free of the maple helicopter seedlings. Am I the only one, or has it been a heck of a year for those things? What do the maple trees know that we don’t? They were laying down carpets of the damn things.

Churros and chorizo…it’s a thing.

In any case, today I decided to visit a dented can outlet. Ever since my favorite outlet, Discount Groceries and More shut down, I’ve been pining for a place to go find outrageous bargains. Well, I can pine no more, for I have found the mother lode…Dirty Don’s Bargain Center.

The Oyster sauce was four for one dollar. The 2-liter Shasta sodas were all 50 cents each!

Oh…my…goodness.

Em loved the bacon jerky, I annihilated the teriyaki and the Sriracha jerky is for Dave. They were all just $1.75 each.

By the end of it, the cart was full and Em was insisting we needed to leave. Let me say that again, the cart was FULL. I spent just under $100 on what I’m pretty sure was around $600-$800 worth of retail-priced food and household goods. Seriously, take a look at this haul!

“Mama, look! These boxes are only $1.00 each!”
Each box contains eight packages of gum, each package of gum contains 18 pieces. That’s a lot of gum, folks.

I covered the entire butcher block table in the kitchen with food and household goods. Nothing cost more than $3.00 and most of it was for far less.

There is a lovely Orange Chicken recipe that I’ve made that calls for an entire jar of orange marmalade. This marmalade was only 50 cents!

Food expiration dates are not set in stone. Folks often forget that, but it’s true. You often have years more to enjoy a product than what the expiration date indicates.

Made with real cane sugar! On the right, the bacon marmalade, we will be trying that this Saturday. I’m curious to see what it tastes like!

Now, be careful, obviously. If you buy canned goods, be sure that the cans have not begun to bulge or leak.

If you live in the area, go check out Dirty Don’s in Raytown. It’s very close to the stadiums. Next time I go, I’m going to investigate the coolers better. They had all kinds of frozen foods.

Creating Our Family Trust – I Feel Like a Responsible Adult Now!

I had been talking about getting a will together for several years now. With one, possibly two, minor children in our care, having some kind of will or trust was very important.

The doing of it stumped me, though, how could I make sure my wishes were carried out? How could I ensure that my daughter would have a safe home to go to, and that whatever real estate we had was cared for until she came of age and inherited it?

We knew who we didn’t want as a guardian, and who it would be too much of a burden to ask, and I built it up in my mind as harder than it had to be. In the end, it was ridiculously simple. So much so that I wish I had done it years ago.

Did you know that only 36% of Americans with minor children have wills? In fact, even the older Baby Boomer generation is seriously lacking when it comes to wills. Only 58% of them have wills.

Without a will, any property you own goes into probate and your heirs stand to lose a solid chunk of that. You might not think you have a lot, but if you own a home, even if you haven’t paid off the mortgage yet, you have a net worth that’s worth preserving and passing on.

I keep track of every transaction, every savings account, every debt through Quicken. I was dumbfounded to see what we are worth on paper… thanks to owning four homes. Once both of the Cottages are fixed up, we will be worth around $365k. Most of it might be sunk into these buildings, but as the years progress, that number will increase.

We settled on a living trust, which will grow with us as the years pass. It establishes the trust, names executors and guardians, and clearly lays out who inherits. An added bonus is that the lawyer worded it so that if we end up adopting our foster daughter, she will automatically become an heir with her sister.

Even my books, which my heirs retain the rights to until 70 years after my death, are included in this trust. We didn’t have to state who gets what, it will simply go to my daughter, to be disbursed on her 22nd and 30th birthdays in 50% increments. And if we adopt our daughter than of course she will receive an equal share.

Any property we purchase from here on out becomes a simple act of copying the verbiage on the other deeds, and filing it as transferable on death into the trust. Which means we can sell or buy new property any time, as long as we record the properties as transferable on death to the trust, nothing else needs to be done.

It cost us a total of $1400 and I highly recommend it for simple peace of mind. It was worth every penny!

Hired Gun Rollout

I am, at heart, an auto-didact (lifetime learner). And this has helped me weather some of the less than sterling reviews of Hired Gun. Despite some of the negative comments, I am maintaining a solid four-star average on reviews and currently have received 88 in total. Here are some of the things I have learned over the past three weeks since rolling out my latest book.

No Happily Ever After = No Romance

I didn’t know. I really didn’t. My only excuse on this is that it never occurred to me to Google the question “Is a book considered a romance if it doesn’t have a happily ever after?” until after a couple of negative reviews started rolling in.

I discuss finding the proper audience below, but it wasn’t as much of a catastrophe as I first thought it might be. There were plenty of romance readers who found my sexy thriller (NOT romantic thriller) interesting and worthy of reading.

I Need to Improve Writing POV

I remember when I first began writing creatively in high school. This was in the Dark Ages when personal computers were not readily available and most document writing took some advanced knowledge of computer programming to accomplish.

In other words, it was all hand-written!

I was incredibly lucky. I attended a small private high school and my teachers (whether it was because they were tired of my complaints, or possibly saw the logic in my argument for practicing instead of just learning theory) allowed me to write creatively instead of plodding through those horrible grammar books.

I say that they saved my life. They really did. I have never forgotten it and always been so grateful. I learned about paragraph breaks, writing dialogue, story construction, and so much more.

And I have continued to learn. While dangling participles still elude me, my lesson on this book was: Stick to one point of view!

After several comments, I realized I had a real problem. It is probably something I will fix soon, because that can be very confusing and distracting for readers.

Better Foreshadowing = Happier Readers

The book description did not explicitly say that there was no Happy Ever After ending, and I also neglected to say that this was the first in a series of seven books that were intertwined and that yes, eventually there might be a happy ending (or even more than one).

I have now changed the book description to read:

Lila Benoit has finally moved into a gorgeous loft and bought a new car. Her work as a data analyst for a prestigious real estate firm is her first “real job” since graduating college. Lila hasn’t broken the law, or witnessed a crime. She’s led a quiet, uneventful life. So why is someone trying to kill her?

Shane Ellis is a hired gun, determined to do his job, and keep his clients alive, no matter who is trying to kill them. Shane lives by and enforces The Code, a strict set of rules that have given his clients the highest survival rate – despite the dangers they have faced. Follow The Code and you stay alive.

But Shane isn’t prepared for Lila, sexy, stubborn, and determined to ignore his rules. And Lila isn’t prepared for what he will do when she breaks each and every one of them.

If you like sexy thrillers that don’t necessarily end in happily ever after…

If you prefer a wild ride filled with suspense, twists and action…

If you are into complicated plots and multiple book series…

Then you really need to start reading Book 1 of the Benton Security Services series today!

“All I can say is wow – what a thrill ride!” – Pamela Mitchell

“Smoking hot with lots of twists and turns.” – JM

“Shuck’s foray into a sexy thriller is long overdue” – Kerrie McLoughlin

Better With Every Book

I am learning and growing with every book I write. Thanks to personal feedback from readers and friends I am reminded to take my time with each book and not rush things. I won’t be doing any more pre-orders on books as a result. The book will be ready when the book is ready, and not a minute before.

Marketing = Finding MY Audience

I was listening to a great podcast the other day. The host was talking about marketing and he pointed out that marketing does not have to be a bad word. For most writers, all we want to do is write. We don’t want to write ad copy, or follow trends, or analyze sales data. We just want to write our stories and share them with others.

But the truth of the matter is, just as we don’t read everything, neither do others. We write (hopefully) what we would enjoy reading and the purpose of marketing is not necessarily to sell our books to everyone, it is to sell our books to those who will enjoy reading the books.

Thus, I continue working on writing ad copy that I would find interesting and want to read.

This is a good thing. If I find an audience who, like me, enjoys my stories, then I will have better reviews as a result. Instead of marketing to a romance audience, if I market to the thriller audience for Hired Gun, things will go smoother!

Back to Basics

With all of the audio rollout, the hours of listening to the words and suggesting changes on four of the five books, I haven’t gotten much writing done.

Couple with that my yearning to garden (I remain as much a gardener as I am a writer) now that the weather allows for such things, I have been thoroughly distracted.

Life is full of multiple priorities, and as usual I struggle with each change to our ever-changing schedule.

I also find myself making lists, and plans, and plotting world domination through massive book production that would only work if I were living alone on a mountaintop and doing nothing but writing, eating and sleeping. And perhaps going light on the eating and sleeping part.

I dream of the day in which I do have 20 or even 30 books published, but I also have to be realistic. And the truth of the matter is, when I focus on writing and producing to the exclusion of the rest of my duties, all I do is get myself stressed out. Nothing happens then – not writing, nor much of anything else.

So, back to the simple task of writing 500 words per day. Over the past three days, I’ve written around 1,300. Not bad when you consider that the first day, it was eight in the evening when I decided to jump back into it.

500 words a day. Every day. More if I want, less if life gets in the way, but the goal will be there – 500 words a day.

Murphy’s Law

Who the Hell Was Murphy, Anyway?

That guy Murphy, was a real futurist. He could see it coming like no one else could.

I sort of hate him.

And every time I make plans, he’s there, just waiting to trip me up.

So Goeth Editing

When I assigned a week to edit 37 chapters by reading them aloud to my husband, I thought I was being conservative. But I forgot that we have children (how does one forget that???) and that he is also the president of our local neighborhood association (which means meetings upon meetings).

In any case, the editing has been going slowly. I have 14 chapters left to read out loud. I’m going to try my best to get seven done today and seven more tomorrow.

Writing…or Not

Writing seems to be problematic right along with editing. I need to finish Better Choices the short story I want to release along with Hired Gun and I’ve not been grabbing those opportunities to write as much as I should.

Today is Wednesday and typically a great day for writing since it is homeschool co-op and I’m normally in the Quiet Room typing away. However, today is my day to volunteer for door duty down at the entrance. Folks keep coming in and the door has to be opened by hand each time. I thought I would just have half an hour of work and then I would be scot-free the rest of the day.

Um…no.

Damn you, Murphy!

Somehow, some way, I need to finish Better Choices by the end of tomorrow because on Friday I must begin work on Glass Forest!