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.

Accountability.

Work.

Rinse and repeat.

Income Report – 1st Quarter 2018

You are going to read these numbers and probably…

  • feel sorry for me
  • cluck your tongue and say, “Wow, that’s, um, that’s all?”
  • ask me why I bother
  • firmly commit to never quitting your day job in order to write books
  • ask why haven’t tried my luck with a publisher

The answer would be long, tedious, and possibly short-tempered on my part – for now, I’ll simply say this…

Someday, I’m going to look back at these numbers, smile, and pat myself on the back for my persistence. I’ll remind myself that, despite the frustration and despair I felt at times, and occasionally admitted to publicly, I have surpassed all of my own expectations.

It will happen.

So below is my income report for the first three months of this year. As a reminder, Amazon pays out nearly three full months after the sales. So these totals are for November and December 2017 and January 2018. They were paid out in January through March 2018.

January 2018 (sales from November 2017) gross income: $123.30

February 2018 (sales from December 2017) gross income: $203.91

March 2018 (sales from January 2018) gross income: $127.41

Total for 1st Quarter 2018: $454.62

At this point, I’m only tracking gross income. Why? Because what I’m spending on cover design, marketing, and ads campaigns is probably eradicating my profit margin and taking it down to almost zero.

I’m still learning the marketing side of things and hope to fine-tune it over this coming year.

Writing My Future Fund

At the end of January, I started a new bank account with Goldman Sachs. It’s online and highly convenient. I just add up all of the various payments from Amazon (they send one from each country and a separate one for my paperbacks POD in CreateSpace – typically I have four in total) and then transfer that amount into my savings account. It’s also earning 1.5% interest, better than any local bank.

When my income grows to at least $3,000 per month and it holds there for at least three months OR I have $6,000 in my Write My Future savings account, then I can quit cleanings and start writing full-time. Basically, I need to have a net income of $2,000 per month to stop running my cleaning biz on the side.

I’m following my dreams – but I’m doing it in a responsible (and realistic) manner.

So when you add the total for the quarter with interest earned on the savings account, it comes out to a total of $455.19. Divide that number by $6,000 and I’m 7 1/2% of the way towards my goal.

I’m hoping that will snowball soon as my sales slowly rise.

Writing is My Secret Weapon

The other day, as I cleaned two big cleanings, back-to-back, my mind kept replaying these words…

Writing is my secret weapon.

Well, maybe it isn’t a weapon. Nor is it secret, but, well, you get my drift. Or maybe you don’t, so I will explain better.

Writing is kind of like the last frontier of exploration.

  • My husband makes the most money he can make with the education he currently has
  • I clean as many houses as my body can possibly handle right now
  • I make a little more on the side by caring for my elderly father and occasionally teaching classes
  • We can’t make money on our rental houses until they are ready to be rented (another $50-60k in renovations – or approximately 2 1/2 years and 4 1/2 years respectively to completion)

In other words, if I want more money – I need to figure out how to make my writing pay.

My writing is my secret weapon. It’s been primed, well-oiled, and assembled. Now I just need to get it out there.

Word Count and Making Words Count

I promised monthly short stories beginning in January. And I have delivered. The last one I have finished is due to go out in a day or two in the April newsletter. But then I’m out of new material. The advance planner in me is panicked. I only have a month until the next short story is due!

So I’ll probably be stopping on the manuscripts long enough to write 3-4 stories, thus calming my obsessive over-wrought “I must deliver on time!” mind.

Meanwhile, I’ve been making progress in plotting out the story arc of Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World (the sequel to Gliese 581: The Departure).

My main emphasis for the past two weeks is The Hired Gun, book one of The Hired Gun series. And I’ve identified 29 chapters, have written ten, and I’m currently at 30k words. So the book is approximately 1/3 done.

Food for Thought

I have this book in the bathroom, The Little Zen Companion by David Schiller. It’s short and sweet, which is good because I’m not looking for an opus while sitting on the throne.

I read this quote this morning and thought of writing:

“Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.”

-Leonard Cohen-

Something to think about.

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Moseying Along

There are pros and cons to having my dad live in my front parlor.

I’m on a more regular schedule – it is strictly controlled by three meals a day, doctor’s appointments with a myriad of specialties, and other general care duties.

I’m more scheduled, but I’m also still trying to plug in all of the components. Homeschooling is a big one and my cleaning clients are increasing in a couple more weeks.

It’s also spring.

Okay, yes, I’m making excuses for why I haven’t finished Schicksal Turnpike yet. Some are good, others are rather…specious.

Current Projects

When God Laughs is at 51,569 words – 6,927 words written for the month

Schicksal Turnpike is at 80,466 words – 4,068 words written for the month

Mondays are remaining good writing days for me. The rest of the week is still under adjustment.

Dementia Sucks

For those of you who have not seen dementia in action, let me tell you, it sucks. It is small, odd little moments of suspicion, or confusion, and I have quickly realized that all I can do is let those moments pass by, and wait for my dad to regain the here and now.

I had hoped that if he had a healthy diet, proper medical care, and was here living with his family, that things might improve. And his health has certainly improved. But the cognitive impairment? Not so much.

It has forced me to examine what is important and what is not. What can wait, and what should not.

I’m trying to focus on the important and let the rest go. Sometimes that means I don’t write as much as I should. I’m sort of okay with that.

I’ll leave you with a quote to ponder on…

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

-Kahlil Gibran

What Book Should I Finish Writing This Summer?

There was a short-lived series by Mercedes Lackey – Diana Tregarde – in which the lead character was a writer. At one point in the story she is giving a speech at a school and describing her writing practice of having three projects in play at any one time – A book she is actively writing, one that she is editing, and another in the planning stages.

I have always wondered if that little bit wasn’t a bit autobiographical instead of simply fiction. In any case, it appealed to me. And when you consider my insanely high number of interests and projects that I have in play at any one time, it totally sounds like me!

So I’m finishing the final touches on War’s End: A Brave New World – the sequel that will finish the story I began with War’s End: The Storm. This is huge, especially when you consider how long ago I wrote the snippet that started this little literary odyssey – way back in 1993.

Since then I’ve started a lot of different stories and books. And there are several in various stages of completion. I’ve even started and finished other book projects, including two non-fiction books.

So which project do I choose to begin working on this summer? Or even earlier?

As I discussed in this post: www.bubblews.com/news/2824216-summer-planning-for-the-kiddo-and-me-too, I’m going to have some time built-in for writing.

I’ve got a lot of projects to choose from, but I’ve narrowed it down to three main possibilities. Here they are:

The Chronicles of Liv Rowan – This is a big series. An extremely ambitious one, if I do say so myself. I actually fleshed out the outlines for TWELVE books and I’ve written about 34,000 words so far in Book 1. I have a crapton of notes to go with it as well. This is a fantasy series focusing on a girl who suddenly finds herself in an alternate world, is hailed as a savior of sorts, and finds herself imbued with magical powers she does not understand. She is tasked with saving a village’s children, who are dying of a mysterious fever.

Gliese 581 and/or The Plague Tales – I’m not sure which one to tackle first, but these stories go hand-in-hand and include space travel on one side, with a world-wide devastating plague on the other. Again, I have copious notes, some 40+ pages of them, and have at least three books in mind, with one begun. It is currently at around 15,000 words.

Quit Your Job, Change Your Life: 40 Steps Towards a More Fulfilling Life – This is a non-fiction project I began working on when I was taking life coaching training three years ago. I think the title is pretty self-explanatory. I’ve written about half of it, and it currently stands at 50,000 words.

So what do YOU think? Which project should be on my summer writing goal list?

I’m BACK…in the Saddle Again…

I’ve officially got zero excuses to not get to work on writing…and finishing…Book 2 of War’s End.

As of 10am this morning the recovered drive and data was in our hands and I just returned from the grocery store to find…everything right where it should be.

It was amazing to see it there, in front of me, and it was the first file I opened. 43,979 words, 1/3 to 1/2 complete, with the full story line plotted out.

In some ways, having my data lost was a good thing.

Really, Christine? A good thing? You feeling okay?

For one, it gave me some time to do other things, and that isn’t such a bad thing. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in one thing, to the exclusion of all others.

For two, it was a reminder of just how much I have done, so far, with my life. That I have gotten to this place where I can honestly say, “This is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I want to live and write, create and write, garden and write, and love, and laugh, and exist, and share knowledge…and write. For the rest of my days. Until my fingers and brain tire of stringing words and thoughts together.”

How many times in your life have you thought, “I can’t do that, it would take so long, and there is so little time.”

I thought that about college, time and again, over the eleven years of on again off again schooling it took to attain my itty bitty little Associate’s degree. But I’m damned glad I did it. I even learned to enjoy Algebra…and that took some doing.

I thought that when I contemplated having a second child EIGHTEEN YEARS after my first, and only child was born. My two girls, so amazing, so special.

I thought that whenever I dreamed of War’s End, of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan yet to be written, and Gliese 581. But War’s End is in print, and WE2 is 1/3 to 1/2 of the way done (now that I have my files back).

In the end, all we have is time. How we use that time says volumes about us. I plan to use my time to create, live, inspire, and laugh…as much as is humanly possible.

How about you?

 

Update: It’s now 4:30 p.m. and I’ve written just over 1,000 words. Now its time to stop and prepare for my class tonight. First time teaching the Edible Landscaping class, and I’ve got no babysitter and Dave’s in class. So I’m hoping Emily is cooperative tonight!

 

Progress, Yes, It’s True

I’ve made it another 2,400 words in War’s End – Book 2. That means around 26,800 words now. Doing well. Wrote about one death, need to probably do another.

I’m chomping at the bit to get started on the Chronicles of Liv Rowan series, but I keep hitting that wall of guilt. “You haven’t finished the story of War’s End yet, Christine. People have read Book 1 and are ready for Book 2. How long are you going to keep them hanging?”

Ah, guilt, self-induced or externally supplied, it can be a wonderful and horrible thing.

Day 6 of NaNoWriMo

Starting word count: 9,975

Goal: 12,975 words total

So 3,000 words for today. It’s 5:30 am, I’ve got a coaching appointment at 8am, then UMKC Music club at 10, then up to Mom’s to drop off Emily. I also need to eat breakfast soon.

Let’s call it two hours before the coaching appointment and then the rest of the day (give or take a few hours) for writing once I return from up north.

It might be do-able!

7:45 am – current word count – 11,355

HELL, YES!!!! I’m well on my way to goal for the day!

9:20 am – 11,456 total word count – off to an event with Emily, then up to Mom’s to drop her off and get back here, eat lunch and get back to work

Day 5 of NaNoWriMo

Current word count: 9,806

Starting word count: 2,065

So…as of 5:05 pm on Day 5 I have written 7,741 words or an average of 1,548 words per day. Just 118 words per day short of NaNoWriMo goal.

Shit yeah, baby, I’m doing it!

I think I can pull ahead this weekend. I’m doing well so far, but I would like to pack it in this weekend and get some extra words in the ‘bank’.

Back to writing, back to Gliese 581: Departure

Day 3 of NaNoWriMo

Starting word count for day: 6,601

It’s 6:20 and I’ve written…oh hell, that’s confusing…I’m showing a total word count of 6,411 words. How did that happen?

I’ve written a couple of hundred words, but they seem to have gone away, or I wrote down the wrong total for yesterday. Huh…

6:25: Okay, well I went back and checked the starting total for yesterday. That was 4,736 and the actual starting word count for today is 6,175 and I’m currently 236 words in.

Onwards….

Day 2 of NaNoWriMo

I had to deal with business matters first thing this morning. This meant that I didn’t get much done before 7am, and then I had a coaching session with an internal ICA student until 8 am.

So…as of end of yesterday…4,736 words already in existence.

There was also Storytime at the library and lunch prep and then we voted. Emily’s got a movie, so now it’s 2pm and I’m at 5,788. Fuckin’ A, I’ve managed over 1,000 words so far! Pretty damned cool!

Back to work, back to work!

7:30 pm – current word count: 6,056

So…less than 700 words to go to make goal for day.

I had to go out and give a cleaning consult to a guy in Shawnee – 35 miles away, that’s a hell of a drive. Also took E to eat Chinese food. All alone in the house with a 4-year-old. I might make goal tonight, and I might not.