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Blog Admin – New Post Topics, Schedule

I’m going to be trying out some new blog posting formats for the next few weeks, to see what feels “right” for the coming year. I planned on doing this in January, but in the personal chaos of the past two months, I just didn’t have the energy.

But, it’s time to get back in the swing of things. I was considering keeping everything on this blog, but people seem to prefer having everything all nice and neat on separate topical blogs. So I’m thinking a mixture of the two might work, and not be too onerous to keep up with.

This blog will remain largely personal, though the posts will be more topically-focused. Posts on writing will be at The Writing Desk, and my alter-ego will also have one post per week on her blog as well. Here’s the preliminary schedule for this week (subject to change, of course):

Monday: Home & Health (cooking, organization, exercise, etc) – starts next week
Tuesday: Writer’s Notes (excerpts, writing & editing discussion @ The Writer’s Desk)
Wednesday: Pet Corner
Thursday: The Dark Side @ Alex Westhaven
Friday: Just for Fun (books, TV, hobbies, outings, etc)
Sunday: Weekly Schedule & Roundup (post topics & spots for the week, quotes, links, videos, etc)

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged daily, but there’s something about the discipline of daily posting that seems to help me with the discipline of daily fiction writing as well, and I’ve been struggling to get my writing time in lately. It seems counter intuitive, but it’s worth a try, methinks.

Now to come up with some catchy topic titles for my various post days. Hmm…

Today, of course, is a federal holiday (President’s Day), so I’m enjoying a day off work and (hopefully) catching up on a bunch of things I’ve been neglecting lately. Scheduling is one of those things, obviously. And I plan to do some reorganizing as well.

Now, I need to go get some baked beans set up in the crockpot – my cooking experiment for the week. If it works out, I’ll share the basic recipe here next week (if not, we’ll never speak of it again).

I wish you a calm, relaxing President’s Day. Bonus points if you’re actually buying a mattress! ūüėČ

 

2016: The Year of Threes

I have a lot of things I want to accomplish and improve on in the next year. And when I first wrote out my list of resolutions, it was pretty long. I looked at it, and decided to distill everything down into three sections (personal, writing, and work), with just three goals each for the year. Anything I accomplish or change outside of that is just gravy, so to speak. And I have, in fact, already made some changes not on my lists that mean (among other things), that I had more time on Sunday to get this blog post written and scheduled.

I’ve also started changing my attitude towards certain aspects of my life – it’s a process, but since I’ve started that shift (with my vacation in mid-December), my head has been a lot more clear, and life in general has felt much less overwhelming. My main goal for 2016 is to keep it that way as much as possible.

Leaving out the work list (because it just doesn’t need to be public), here are my personal and writing resolutions for this year:

Personal
– Read *every day*, even if just for 10-15 minutes.
– Treat hobbies with the respect they deserve.
– Engage in more analog, tactile activities

Writing
– Write three novels in 2016 (I have them chosen)
– Write eight short stories: two per quarter for each pen name (just writing under two this year)
– Focus on just two drafts at any one time (one novel, one short)

Last year, I was so focused on meeting my writing obligations that when I was on vacation and tried to remember the last time I’d picked up a book, I couldn’t. Reading is my escape, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. It’s one of the few things that pulls me out of my own head, makes me stop thinking about my own life, and forces me to live in the mind and life of someone else for a little while. And I underestimated the importance of that to my mental well-being. Ever since my vacation, I’ve made a point to drop everything – even writing – by midnight and go to bed so I can read for half an hour before sleeping (the only time I’m guaranteed to get). And my mental state has improved significantly just by making that one little change.

One other thing I found I was doing was making hobbies into “mini-jobs”. Whether it was crochet/knitting, or comic books, or stamp collecting, I was getting to where I felt guilty for not making/finding time for them, but also guilty if I *did* indulge because I should be doing other things – stuff for the writing business, or writing, or housework, or whatever. So I felt like I “should” work on them, but always felt bad when I actually did. Not healthy.

This year, I’m going to engage in my hobbies guilt-free. It’s healthy to explore a variety of interests, and I don’t want to stifle that just because I feel guilty that something else has to wait. My hobbies will all have a weekly spot on my schedule where I can work on them if I want (or not, if I don’t feel like it that day). No obligation, and no guilt.

I should note that for priority purposes, my writing is going to “major hobby” status in my brain this year, rather than “second business”. I’m done feeling guilty for working on other things because I “should” be writing (or working on something regarding writing/publishing). My writing doesn’t have to pay the bills, and since I like my job, there’s no reason to saddle my writing with the responsibility of making money. It’s fun, and that’s why I want to do it. It’s okay to write as a hobby. It took me awhile to be okay with that attitude.

Writing does help to keep me mentally healthy though – I get a bit angsty/anxious when I don’t write. So writing is a higher priority hobby, and has a set spot in my schedule Monday through Friday. But business is not fun for me, it’s work, and worse, work I don’t want to do. Writing is great fun. I have no need to make writing pay, therefore I’m going to pay far more attention to what’s “fun” than what’s not.

My writing goals are there more to give myself limitations, rather than give myself deadlines. I love writing so much and have so many ideas that I tend to tackle way, way too many projects all at once, which is part of why I was in such a pickle with it last year. It ceased to be fun, and became just another obligation. My three resolutions are there to rein myself in, so I keep it fun, rather than trying to do too much.

As far as engaging in more analog/tactile activities – it all started with a pack of Harley Quinn cards my husband gave me last month. I decided to play a game of solitaire with them – and found it the most relaxing few minutes I’d spent in a long while. Played a game of solitaire on the computer to compare…and it wasn’t nearly as relaxing. Even though I have a touch screen, there’s still something about being physically engaged with an activity – turning over cards or puzzle pieces, turning pages, writing by hand – that is …well, just so much different than interacting with a computer for the same tasks.

While I have zero intentions of giving up my computers/gadgets/ebooks/computer-based job, I did notice a definite mental downshift when playing solitaire with an actual deck of cards on my ottoman, or working on a jigsaw puzzle laid out on our dining room table. There’s something about the tactile experience that forces me to focus, to engage more with the task, and to let go of all the other things swirling about in my head. Crochet/knitting are similar, along with my stamp collecting hobby, or reading print books/comic books.

More tactile activities seem to keep me out of that overclocked-overstimulated frame of mind that is so deadly to my daily outlook and attitude. So I plan to make a point of setting the screen aside more in the evenings/on weekends, and doing more analog/tactile tasks, even if I’m just “playing”. Good for the brain. Also, good for dexterity. Win-win!

There will be challenges this year, and things I don’t want to deal with, but I think sticking to these few basic “ground rules” will keep me on a mostly even keel no matter what I have to deal with. And that should provide a good basis for the other changes I want to make as I work my way through another calendar (and planner).

Of Newsletters, Future Plans & The Writer’s Desk

First, I should apologize for the lateness of the latest newsletter. I got more than a little backlogged this summer, and also a little too stubborn for my own good about how and when things should be done vs. when they could be done. It’s a bug, not a feature, and I’m working on it. In the meantime though, the next installment of Shadow in the Stacks is done, and should be in your inboxes by tomorrow morning. Thanks for being patient.

Part of avoiding issues like late newsletters and such is making better plans and sticking to them. Plans that leave me a lot of leeway to get things done and still live my life. I’ve been pushing too hard, and for what? I have no intention of leaving my job (because I like it, and steady paychecks), so my books don’t need to pay the bills, and aside from some audiobooks that I have an obligation to do what I can to sell, there isn’t anything that says I have to hurry up and write as many books as possible and make a bunch of money or build the biggest newsletter list or whatever. I am my own worst enemy here, and relieving the stress I’ve put on myself is really quite simple – I just need to slow down.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about what I write, and what I want to write. And my focus next year is going to be quite different than it has been. I’m going to take a break from contemporary romance and romantic suspense for awhile, and my erotic romance pen name will be stepping back as well. Instead, I’ll be focusing on a youth/young adult action/adventure series, the steampunk-style-fantasy novel I have in progress, and more work for my suspense alter-ego.

I’ll be writing just three books next year (as opposed to the 7 drafts I have in progress at the moment), and any leftover time I find myself with will be spent editing and doing the business-y stuff that comes with (or should come with) publishing and selling books. I’ve neglected the business side of things for too long, and that’s a source of stress as well, so I will leave myself plenty of time to work on that next year.

Just coming to that decision has been a major stress-reliever for me. I still have to finish the drafts I’m working on, but once they’re done, the pressure’s off (those drafts are what I’ll be editing/publishing next year). I feel good about that.

There are some other things I’m still waffling about, but I’m happy with this decision to slow down overall, and just focus on a few key genres.

The other thing I’m going to do, starting right away, is to update my writing journal every weeknight before I go to bed. I’m also going to go over my daily schedule/plans for the next day before bed, which is something I should be doing anyways, and I tend to be lazy about. My writing journal, for those who don’t know, is called The Writer’s Desk, and I’ll be starting the nightly updates late this evening (like, really late – between 11pm and midnight). I’ll be including my daily word count (or excuses), what I was working on, and whatever other notes I feel like sharing (quickly – they’ll be short entries). I already so this with a friend via email, but I think it’ll be interesting/handy to have it available as a public reference.

So…lots of changes coming, but good changes, for me anyways. Ironically, getting to bed by midnight for a reading session before sleep is one of those changes…and one I’ve failed at miserably just to get this blog post done (it’s just after 1am as I finish this up). Better planning/use of time next week, eh?


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Silk & Snail Mucus

“Oh man,” I can hear you thinking as you read that title. “She’s really gone off the deep end now…”

And you would be right, but that’s not what we’re discussing today. Although I have to admit, I nearly didn’t use this title on this post, because as soon as I typed it, I thought, “That would actually make a great book title…” I still might use it, actually. The deep end, indeed. Join me?

ANYways…

I was recently reading Jezebel (yeah, I know – judge all you want), and one of the regular features is a beauty box run-down. You know, those monthly delivery boxes that are all the rage these days? I have been getting a tea box that has just now been discontinued (sad, but I was having trouble making it through that much tea in a month – I’m seriously backlogged and I drink a *lot* of tea), and I still get a monthly yarn box from my favorite eco-friendly online fiber shop, Darn Good Yarn. Their claim to fame is recycled silk yarn…the factory remnants from making silk saris in India, and they also sell said saris as well as oddball yarns made from things like banana fiber (which is seriously soft and silky, let me tell you).

I’ll be honest, the yarn isn’t the easiest to work with, but it’s funky and fun and I love it. And I love getting that monthly “surprise” of sensory deliciousness too. For a not-so-touchy-feely-person, I cannot resist the feel of silky or fuzzy fiber across my fingers. Mmm, mmm, good.

I used to have a couple of real silk shirts (short-sleeved button-downs). I loved, loved, *loved* the feel and drape of them. Sadly, I am really not good at caring for things that require hand-washing…

In any case, back to Jezebel and the Beauty Boxes (sounds like a somewhat risque band, eh?). In this particular round-up, one of the things our intrepid blog reporter was most excited about was…snail mucus.

Apparently, it’s a “thing” over in Korea to collect the slime trail from snails (the snails are supposedly not harmed), and use it to make concoctions that are supposed to heal small wounds and blemishes faster – like pimples. According to said reporter and several people in the comments, this actually works. Who knew?

What I want to know (really!) is…who was it who thought it would be a good idea to put snail slime on your skin? On purpose, I mean. Did someone study the chemical composition of snail slime and think, “hey, this would work great for getting rid of pimples!” Or was someone just laying out in the garden (do they have gardens you can lay in in Korea?) when a snail crawled across their face and instead of jumping up and flinging the snail off and getting all grossed out (you know, like a normal person probably would – ohm…), they just stayed still and let the slime sink in, and then later realized, “OMG! My skin looks great! It must have been that snail that crawled across my face! I should tell everyone!”

Or was it one of those bets in a bar one night – you know, one of those “hold my Redd’s and watch this” sort of things (do they have Redd’s Apple Ale in Korea? Or hard apple cider? Things that make you go hmm…)?

“Bet you wouldn’t let this snail crawl across your face!”
“You’re on – gimme that!”
“Hey, your skin looks great! We should market this! Think if we eat the snail, it’ll cure tomorrow’s hangover, too?”
“I don’t know…any French people here we could ask?”

I’m gonna get crap for that one, aren’t I? Yes, Americans eat escargot too, but the word itself is French, so…

Yes, I know. Google could probably hook me up with the right answer on how snail-slime-as-beauty-treatment was discovered in a matter of milliseconds, but sometimes it’s still fun to ponder and pretend that we don’t have all the knowledge we could possibly ever want (and plenty we really don’t) at our fingertips. Don’t you think?

No, I’m not planning on trying snail mucus for my complexion (or anything else) anytime soon. And I’m not having escargot for dinner either – I have a pork roast in the crockpot, thanks. But I may sign up for one of those beauty boxes. Ironically, the one that appealed most to me was one mentioned in the comments – Goodebox. Because…goodies. In a box. What could go wrong?

Aside from snail mucus, I mean…


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On Genetics, Motivation & Habits…

In light of my Lucy-dog’s recent health issues, along with the news this past weekend that my dad’s lymphoma is back and worse than before (stage 3, tentatively diagnosed), I’ve been thinking about genetics. Aside from the fact that one was a lab and the other a German Shepherd, I have no idea what Lucy’s parent’s medical history is like, and I’m curious as to whether her parents had any of the problems she’s having. It’s not like you can really do anything to avoid having the pancreas stop working, and one side of hers stopped working 5 yrs ago when she wasn’t quite 3 yrs old. The other side stopped working this year, and no one quite knows why dogs get diabetes (and they almost always get type 1).

As for my dad, his mother got/developed Non-Hodgkins lymphoma presenting as a lump on her neck one week before her 50th birthday. They treated her with chemo, it came back every 5 yrs and she went another round of chemo, and finally after 15 yrs or so, it stopped coming back.

My dad developed the same thing presenting as…a lump on his neck one week before his 50th birthday (signals a very strong genetic component). It was treated by radiation (followed by hyperbaric chamber treatments to repair the damage to his jaw bone), and he’s been clear for…well, 10 yrs to this diagnosis, but certain symptoms point to the cancer maybe being present for a couple years prior.

My grandma was an oldest or only (can’t remember) child, my dad is the oldest in his family, and I’m the oldest in mine. Which means I have about 10 yrs left before we find out whether my mom’s genetics are strong enough to overpower my dad’s as far as this particular cancer goes, and if any of the healthy choices I’ve made and keep trying to make will have any effect at all on whether I end up with rebellious lymph cells or not.

Basically, it’s all a big crap-shoot.

Some days, it’s motivating. When I heard about my dad’s cancer coming back, my knee-jerk reaction was to review my diet & exercise and adjust accordingly for optimal health. I have been rather lax with both lately, and while I’m never going to be one of those people who completely eschews cookie dough and the occasional coke, I absolutely have some room for easy improvement. It would be stupid not to, really – I mean, I have ample warning about what could and may well happen to me when I hit 50, and even if I can’t stop my cells from going bonkers, I can make sure that I’m healthy enough to fight it if it does happen. There is no downside to living healthier.

But I also have those days we all do, when I just look at the genetic history and think to myself, “What’s the point? It’s gonna get me anyways, I might as well have that big plate of pasta or the too-big piece of cheesecake, or skip tonight’s workout.” Destructive thinking that is always a no-win situation, but we all indulge occasionally (thought-wise and physically).

The trick is, of course, to have more motivated days than destructive days – sometimes easier said than done, especially when there are other things going on in life. In the absence of motivation, of course, the second-best thing is habit – that thing that tells us to get up from our desks a few times a day, or get up off the couch every night whether we want to or not, just because “it’s what we do”.

I really need better habits. I’ve developed a morning yoga habit, and I keep up with that faithfully – I really enjoy starting my day that way. You wouldn’t think anything could possibly get in the way that early in the morning (I do it before my husband even gets up and the dogs go back to bed after breakfast), but last week, it got trickier with Lucy’s new insulin and blood testing needs. I still managed, but it was tight, and I might have to rework my morning routine a bit to give myself a little more breathing room. I’m determined to hang onto that habit though.

Break times at work, nightly treadmill and total gym sessions, drinking more water, making better carb choices for meals…all of that can be turned into a habit. And they should be, just like ordering iced tea in a restaurant instead of coke (even though I abhor restaurant tea – it’s still slightly more interesting than plain water).

No, I’m still not going to pass up the occasional root beer float, or pizza on Thursdays, or donuts on Sunday mornings. But the motivation to create these new habits won’t last forever (though it might be longer this time – looks like my dad’s got a lot of chemo ahead of him), so I need to get on it while the motivation is there, in order to keep the habits when the motivation fades.

I may not be able to beat genetics, but I have the opportunity to lesson the negative impact they could have on my life. Seems kind of stupid not to take advantage…


 

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On Jasmine, Change Cycles, & Spoiled Wine…

A couple of weeks ago, I found two jasmine vines at the grocery store (in the plant department, of course). I love jasmine, but I tend to have a hard time growing it as a houseplant. Most of the time, that stops me from buying, but there were only two, and it’s pretty rare to find it around here at all, and in a moment of weakness, I brought one home.

Jasmine_April2015

Jasmine plant with dying leaves & new shoots.

I wasn’t really all that surprised when leaves started to shrivel up and die, even though I paid pretty close attention to it and took care not to over-water it or let it dry out. I figured that would happen, but it did kind of bum me out that it happened so quickly. Still, I kept it, because sometimes plants go through an adjustment period where they act like they’re gonna die and then spring back to life just because their environment changed.

Sure enough, a couple days later, I spotted new vines coming up among the dying ones. And this week as I was doing my Sunday “plant check”, I noticed that the new vines don’t seem to be dying. Yet.

I don’t really consider this “pessimism” – more just “realism”. I’ve killed enough of these plants to know that the chances of keeping one alive long-term aren’t good. At the same time, my naturally optimistic nature really, really wants to believe that this time, this one will be “the one” that I grow into a beautiful, healthy, strong jasmine vine that will eventually bloom and set off my allergies like crazy (life tends to balance like that…).

The whole changing of the leaves/out with the old/in with the new is relevant in many ways to my life right now, from the day job, to the writing, and a bunch of matching internal philosophical upheaval. Things and thoughts evolving and sometimes even going in directions I didn’t really see coming. With the changes come many decisions to make and…”things” that must be dealt with. It’s normally a stressful time, and there’s really no way out but through.

This current cycle of change seems different though, somehow. It’s still a bit stressful and I’ve fallen way behind, but mentally I feel like I’m keeping things in better perspective, which is helping me to cope in a healthier, more “zen” manner. Yes, I still feel the stress, but there’s this underlying calm as well that keeps me focused on what could be if I can hang in there and get to the other side. Change will never be my friend…I love stability and routines far too much for that. But at this particular point in my life, I feel like I’m able to embrace this time for what it is: a period of transition that will eventually yield to a positive outcome.

Or so I hope, anyways.

Unlike the wine we bought a few weeks ago to restock our wine cooler. I left the box of several bottles on the dining room table, because I hadn’t gotten around to adding them to my stock list yet. I finally got them added and we opened one up last week and…it was horrible. Another and another and another and…you get the idea. All different wines and labels, all apparently ruined by sitting for a week in the hot sun that comes in my southern dining room window.

Mea culpa. Needless to say, we went and bought yet another “stock” for the cooler this weekend, and I got them cataloged and into the cooler post haste. Often my laziness leads to more efficient means of doing things, but in this case, it just led to a bunch of spoiled wine. A sad, somewhat expensive lesson to learn, but I won’t be lazy putting the wine away again!

I know I’ve been skimping on the blog posts lately, and it’s because every spare moment I get lately, I’ve been spending either recovering from a mentally exhausting day, or working on drafts (sometimes both). Things are settling down a bit though, and I’m hopeful that this week I’ll have more mental energy to spare, which will enable me to get back on the blogging wagon, so to speak. I hope. If that does happen, watch for a special announcement coming this Friday (if you don’t see it, you can safely assume I’m just brain-dead again this week – it’ll happen eventually!).


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On Problem Solving & The Magic of Showers…

Believe it or not, I’m glad it’s Monday (yes, it’s 12:30am as I write this, but still…Monday). I know, I know. It’s completely preposterous, but Mondays are actually rarely bad for me (Tuesdays are generally my “bad” day of the week), and I solved a programming problem in my head while in the shower on Sunday, and I’m excited to get back to work and see if my solution will hold up in a test. Excited, I tell you. It’s a most frustrating/perplexing problem I’ve been trying to solve.

The thing is, the solution was right there the whole time (as they generally are). Staring me right in the face and waiting for that “ah-ha!” moment to finally kick in (after which the solution laughs and points and makes fun of how long it took me to find it). But I’ve found that there are several things that have to be in place before that ah-ha moment can happen:

– The mind has to be relaxed
– The actual root of the problem must be discovered
– The problem has to be examined from all sides, not just one or two

In my case, I had to get away from my normal work environment (hence my mind chewing on it this weekend). It’s been a bit more stressful than usual lately, and I just needed to be away and without pressure for a little while. I also had to “lead” myself into finding the root of the problem. There were many symptoms masking it, but when I finally did find the actual root cause of my problems, that’s what pointed me toward the proper perspective to attack the problem from.

Once I switched perspectives, the solution I needed suddenly just popped right into my head. And it was so simple that I actually spent quite a bit of time thinking about all the potential reasons it wouldn’t work because it just seemed so easy.

We shall see after I’m able to set up a test, but I’m very, very optimistic.

The million dollar question here is: If I hadn’t taken a shower yesterday, how long would it have been before I came to this solution? Not that it really matters, but…I’m willing to contend that the shower was integral to finding the solution when and how I did.

Because showers are magical, of course.


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On Cold Care, DST, &…Um…

My husband’s cold finally caught me this weekend. I mean, I knew it was gaining on me last week, and then I got super-stressed due to some things at work not going the way they should have, and that seems to have been the final straw in my immune system, so to speak.

Stress kills, people. Not that I’m going to die from a cold, but you know what I mean. Om…

In any case, while we all know there’s not much you can do to get rid of a cold aside from letting the immune system do it’s thing, I’ve pretty much thrown as much “military aid” at my white-cell troops as I possibly can this weekend, including but not limited to: coconut oil, salt, citrus extract, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, honey, pineapple, chia seed, various teas/tisanes, blueberries and of course, wine/alcohol. Got some extra sleep too, despite the whole DST debacle (which is going to hurt a lot more when I have to get up for work in 6 hours or so).

Yes, I think it’s helping – I do feel better. No, I have no idea *what* is helping. That’s the thing about a scattershot approach – there’s really no way to tell. But honestly, I don’t care, as long as my soldiers have what they need to do their job and defeat the enemy as quickly as possible. ¬†I have things to do, people to hide from, books to write! And a stupid time change to recover from…

I hate Daylight Saving Time. It even sounds/looks stupid, which is why everyone adds an “s” to “Saving” without even thinking about it. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Believe it or not, I had a whole blog post planned out for this week that did not center around “things which may or may not help you recover from a cold”. It might have even been somewhat witty. And I’m pretty sure I was going to explain why my blogging for the rest of the week has been so lax lately.

But it’s midnight, and if I’m not asleep by 12:30am, there’s no way I’ll make it to work tomorrow, what with this cold and all. And with my eyes as they are, even if I wasn’t sick, shorting myself on sleep now seems to make the surface of my eyes feel like shards of glass when I blink. Not fun.

So, to bed, and I may or may not get any other blogging done this week, depending. Hopefully by next week I’ll feel better and can come up with something far, far more interesting to post about (shouldn’t be hard, eh?).

Be well, dear readers…


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Talkin’ Books: February 11, 2015

Books Finished:
None

Kindle Books In Progress:
The Indie Author Power Pack 

Print Books in Progress:
White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Comic Books:
None

Not much to report…again. *sigh* I have been working on¬†White Fire¬†quite a bit – it’s just one of those books that you pick up and think, “I’ll read one chapter before bed.” And then you look up again after the sixth chapter that night, realize you do actually have to get up in the morning, and reluctantly dog-ear the page before forcing yourself to put it down and turn out the light.

So…good book, in other words. And getting better by the page…

I’m also still working on¬†Write, Publish, Repeat¬†from the¬†The Indie Author Power Pack, and gaining a few nuggets of wisdom here and there.

What I’d most wanted to get to this week, and ended up having to¬†forgo¬†due to extra writing time needed and an impromptu aquarium swap, was my Harley Quinn comics. There are special Valentine’s Day Harley’s out this week, and I’m headed to the local comic shop on Saturday because they’re having a super-awesome sale, so I was hoping to get all caught up by then. Alas, I don’t think it’s gonna happen. But Valentine’s Day is a great day for reading anti-heroes, right? (Just nod & smile, nod & smile…)

Maybe if I get caught up with the writing, I can spend part of President’s Day (next Monday, and a federal holiday, so I’m off work) hunkered down with my comic book stack.

Now I think I’ll get this scheduled, and then head to bed for more¬†White Fire¬†goodness…


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2015 – The Resolutions Post

If you’ve been hanging with me long, you know I’m a pretty devout resolutionist (and if you didn’t, now you know). I don’t get all the backlash with regards to making resolutions…because resolving to do something is merely making a goal to do that thing, nothing more, nothing less. I’ll be successful with some of them, and some not so much, but even those I’m not successful at will give me something to think about at the end of the year, and help me to refine my goals going forward.

I spent the better part of December working on my list for 2015, mainly because I always over-reach, and while that’s fine, I wanted to really refine the list this year and only include things that are definitely doable. So I’ve been going back and forth among my daily/weekly to-do lists, my proposed writing/publishing schedule and my proposed resolutions, refining, re-organizing, paring back, and in some cases, adding in. It’s not something I take lightly – I ultimately want to give myself the best chance possible for success, and to do that, I need to make realistic goals that will fit with my schedule and the time/energy I have available.

At the same time, I do *want* to overreach a little, just to push myself and make it just a little challenging. If you’re not being challenged, you’re not growing…and stagnation is the enemy of life.

All that said, here’s the list I’ve come up with for this year, with a few explanatory notes added as to why/how I plan to work on certain items.


Personal 

– Journal¬†weekly:¬†To get anything I might be stressing/obsessing over out of my head, so I’m less distracted overall (mental health).
РMonthly mail exchange: To further my stamp collecting hobby, and rediscover the more personal connection of snail mail and short, hand-written notes.
РGo hiking (summer): For better health, and to broaden perspective/stay connected to the natural world.
– Dedicated weekly hobby time:¬†I’ve learned to do this over the past year, but with the higher emphasis on writing/publishing this year, it needs to be on the list so I don’t let that part of my life slide. Important for mental health.¬†

Writing

– Write better books:¬†By which I mean, keep working consciously to make my writing better with each draft I start (don’t let myself fall into a rut just because my writing schedule is quite challenging this year)
РMaintain a more disciplined writing/working habit: 2k words per day, 5 days per week, or at least 10k words per week, no matter how that shakes out (my normal output is around 800 Р1200 words per day now).
РRelease a book or collection every other month: I had very few releases in 2014, and my sales reflect that. One of the best ways to stay visible is to publish often. 

Publishing/Sales

– Monthly newsletters:¬†Often touted as the absolute best way to keep in touch with readers and keep book sales steady, this is something I’ve been incredibly lazy about, because I feel newsletters should have some content other than just “hey, I have a new book out – go buy it!”. Yes, this is perfectionism, but I think in this case, it has merit. So I’ve devised a plan to give newsletter subscribers new, original, exclusive content every month, which will add to my release list at the end of the year.
–¬†Weekly blog posts for author blogs & writing blog:¬†I’m already doing this for two of my author blogs (this one and my Alex alter-ego), but I’d like to get a weekly post going on the Trinity blog as well, and also at The Drafting Desk for writers/writing-related posts).
– Adopt the donation/patronage model for web site downloads for the whole of 2015:¬†All books except new releases will be available at the BSB site for whatever price the reader wants to donate, or nothing at all. This is a carrot, both to draw readers to the BSB site regularly, and also to give those who may not be able to afford regular price for my books a way to get them for what they can afford, even if that’s free. Also, to entice people to try my work in the hope that if they like it, they’ll pay for the next one. This will be the *only* place to get my books for free or discounted prices, and I’ll be revisiting my pricing structure through the other distribution sites (ie, prices will probably be going up on the other sites). I’ll revisit this at the end of the year to determine whether it was a successful experiment or not.¬†


If you peeked at¬†last year’s list¬†from yesterday’s post, you’ll see that this one is quite a bit smaller…and that’s by design. There are more things I’d like to work on throughout the year, but only those that I’ve given top priority are actually included as resolutions. I have a few day job resolutions too, but those aren’t relevant here (and don’t need to be online).

So those will be my priorities this year…and with any luck (okay, more just a lot of hard work and focus), my book sales will be on the rebound by this time next year, and I’ll be a better writer, as well as in good shape physically/mentally. A lofty goal, to be sure, but certainly worthwhile.

Are you a resolutionist, or do you prefer to just see where life takes you and call it good? If you do make goals/resolutions for the year, what is your biggest one for 2015?