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A Kick in the Head

Things that have happened since I last posted:

– I’ve established a daily writing habit before work (I know, I’m as surprised as anyone to be writing productively in the *morning*)
– I have a fairly extensive mask wardrobe
– Two new tote bags that are lighter than my leather bag was, and I think it’s affecting my shoulder/neck issues for the better
– I’ve actually finished a draft, and started a new one
– I’ve been reading before bed again – finished two books and am working on another

I’ve written a bunch of posts since the “Toast” one, and deemed all of them unfit for whatever reason. Mostly because I felt like posting about mundane stuff might appear tone deaf or inappropriate given the state of things and all the civil unrest. I’ve been “escaping” in Animal Crossing and walking the dogs in the evenings, and generally just staying in my own little work/life “bubble”. Think of that what you will. It’s how I’ve been dealing.

But it’s time to get moving again, and my “kick in the head” came from a rather unexpected invitation by our local bookstore to do a virtual author interview. I agreed, and in prepping for the experience, I realized something important about my writing and myself that made me want to get out of my fog and back into productivity in my writing life (work life has been incredibly productive all year, but also incredibly draining, which hasn’t helped the writing life thing).

The thing I needed most was confidence. I got that – just a little shot, and it’s enough, I think, to get me moving again.

My main focus this week is figuring out the time aspect. I need time to update covers, update social media pages, update blogs, and do various publishing & maintenance tasks. But more than anything, I need time to edit and revise. I have several drafts in the edit/revise phase, and they’re “stuck” there due to my lack of making time to work on them. I could release all of those drafts as finished manuscripts within the next six months if I could just set aside some time for “marking up” and time for “typing in”.

So, that’s my goal for the week. Find two 20-minute time slots that can be “set” for each weekday and dedicated for mark-ups and type-ins. It’s really not all that easy, because I need quiet and headspace for those time slots. But, I’m determined. There has to be a way.

If I can do that early enough in the week, then my secondary goal is to set aside one more time slot for writing blog posts. Will I be successful?

You’ll find out next week!


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Tools, Motivation & Forward Progress

I got my new laptop the week of Thanksgiving, and spent several days setting it up. It is *so* much better than my old one. We’re talking leaps and bounds. The bigger screen is nicer than I thought it would be, it’s quick and clean and “roomy”, and best of all, it has a true mechanical keyboard that is clicking happily (and audibly) along as I type this post.

The right tools really do make all the difference, and honestly, I *want* to use this laptop. I want to have it with me in the living room, where it’s in easy reach to work on a web site update or make some cover art, edit part of a story or even write a blog post (*ahem*).

Needless to say, having the right tool(s) is paramount, and this laptop is definitely a game-changer for me. Why did I not get this post done/up last week, you might ask? Well, it’s because I finally got motivated to actually start getting things done.

I’ve had a lot of outstanding projects going on lately, and while I still do, I decided it was time to quit letting those feelings of being overwhelmed de-motivate me.

You know how sometimes you have so much going on at home, at work, and everywhere, and every time you even think about making some progress on *something* (even just one tiny little thing), you get interrupted or derailed or…whatever, and more things keep piling up and not getting finished, until you just sort of hit that point where your brain shuts down and states that if you can’t even finish one simple little thing, there’s no point in even trying to do anything at all?

Yeah. That’s kind of where I’ve been for awhile now. Drowning in “things” that need to be done, things I want to do, and being constantly interrupted and derailed at every single freaking turn. It’s the most annoying thing ever in life, and I got to the point where I just sort of shut down and quit trying.

Then I went ahead and got this new laptop against my better judgement, and I decided to *take* the time to get one thing off my plate. Just one minor side project that I’d been working on for awhile now, and only had just a little bit left to do on it. If I could have focused, it would have taken me an hour, 90 minutes tops. As my life is at the moment, it took me several hours and a lot of irritation at interruptions, plus a later bedtime than normal (which actually turned out to be pretty normal for last week, unfortunately), but I got it done.

Finishing that project was a major turning point for me. I finished something! Anything! Done, complete, off my plate! I tell you what, it was such a relief just being able to finish *something* that I was downright giddy (at 1am, that happens quietly, but it does happen). I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need to prove to myself that I am capable of focusing and finishing things, especially when it’s been a long time since I’ve actually…you know…finished something.

Completing that project was the “re-proof” I needed, apparently, because I actually managed to get some larger projects off my plate last week, which felt phenomenal. And there are a couple more that I’m on track to finish this week as well.

Granted, I have had to be very focused, and sometimes very insistent with others that I needed time to work. I hate having to do that, only because I feel like people should just automatically leave me alone when I’m clearly busy. That never happens, but it would be nice if it did. I’ve also been giving up some sleep too…compromising between the 6 hours I want and the 4.5 hours I can’t really function well on anymore for around 5 hours instead. It’s not optimal, but honestly? The better mental outlook because I’m finishing stuff is worth a little less sleep. At least for awhile, until I figure out how to sneak the sleep back in too.

In my continuing quest to “get stuff done”, I have two smaller writing projects I’m finishing this week – one a story for an advent calendar (it’s actually done now, and yes, the calendar is late, but better late than never and one of the projects hanging over my head), and one a story for my Christmas cards this year. My writing projects have been suffering just as much as anything else, but I think I’ve found the (mental) problem, and I’m working on “fixing” that as well. More on that later.

I don’t actually know if any of this would have happened without the new laptop. Having a tool you *want* to use is so much more productive than having one that frustrates you every time you need it.

Like magic, of a sort.


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Guilty Motivation & Ebook Sale

Doing my taxes this year made me feel guilty. I took a loss on my business, and I hate doing that. Normally if I only claim web hosting fees, I can at least break even, but like so many others, my sales fell off a virtual cliff this summer and were never able to drag themselves back up.

I need to publish, and I need to do some gentle promotion, and I haven’t been making time for any of that. I have gotten into a better writing habit, and I’m slowly finding a few bits and pieces of time here and there that I can allocate to writing as well. So I should have something new *to* publish by the end of the year, if not sooner.

I need to turn a profit this year, no matter how small. Mostly just to prove to myself that I can. I’ve been working on my writing style, trying to be more descriptive and move a little slower through my various “worlds” so as not to leave things out. I think I’m getting better as a writer, but now I need to get back to that pesky habit of actually finishing stories and publishing them.

I also need to do some clean-up work on my older books. Smashwords says my covers are too small on all the first books I published, so those need new covers. They also need new, better blurbs, and I’ve been studying blurbs for awhile now, and have a better idea of how to craft them. Again, something that just takes time, and time on my butt, at that.

It’s a little overwhelming to think about, but I need to just pick an “update” project and work on it alongside my writing drafts until it’s done. I need to update the formatting on The Time Stone (the chapters are screwed up), so maybe I should do that first.

The reason I keep putting these off? Because I’m afraid of how much time it will take. Thing is, pretty much everything takes less time than I think it will – it’s just getting started that’s hard.

So…time to just do it.

Did you know that it’s “Read an Ebook Week”? In honor of that, all my ebooks are marked off 25 percent at Smashwords for the week. Yes, that means a couple of them are even free. If you’d like to take a peek, click on the Smashwords link below. Or if you want to check out my alter-egos (they’re on sale too), use this link.

Are you reading an ebook this week? Which one?


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Magnesium, Muscles & Motivation

For those (few) of you who were waiting anxiously (ha!) for this week’s post, my apologies for being late. We had a mild family crisis of sorts Monday night, which pre-empted my writing this. Crisis averted, so…back to normal.

Last week, I was talking about supplements. After some trial, error, research, and really uncomfortable hormonal shifts, I figured out that it was the magnesium bringing me mental clarity, and the calcium/mag combo had to go. I ordered some Magnesium/B vitamin supplements, got off the calcium, cut back the vitamins to half dose, and my head is clear and focused. All is mostly right with my world, or will be after a few weeks of adjustment. Magnesium is amazing, and also very easy to find information on. Google it, read bunches of stuff, and try it, if you’re so inclined.

The mental space and focus…man. Awesome. And as a nice little side “perk”, I’m finding it far easier to resist things that used to be very tempting to me, like donuts, cookies and breads of any kind. Even a week ago, I was drooling over muffins. This week? Saying “no” is no problem, really.

Which means I’m also sticking to my diet plan better, and between that and being motivated to work out, and work out hard, with weight training (which is really the only exercise my body has ever responded well to), the weight is starting to slowly lose it’s grip on my poor, tired hips.

I fell in love with weight training back in college, when I’d head down to the free weight room at the Y between lifeguard shifts and lift while I oogled the big burly guys. Weight training just feels good to me – the pressure on my muscles, pushing them to fatigue, and then getting that little adrenaline rush and kick of dopamine when you wonder if you’re going to be able to pull out that last rep and then you…just do it.

I’ve trained since then, but not often, and never with enough true stress to actually make much of a difference. My body tends to respond well to heavy stimulus, but not light – so while yoga in the morning keeps me limber, I will never build muscle. Same with pilates or cardio or any of that. It’s incredibly difficult to get my heart rate up enough for cardio to do any good.

So, just after the first of the year, we bought a set of dumbbells at Costco (really nice set). Last week, I went downstairs and between the dumbbells, the Total Gym (yes, the Chuck Norris thingy – it’s actually awesome as far as bodyweight trainers go), and running upstairs and back down between sets to check on Murphy, it was a fabulous workout, and also hard enough that I felt it for the first time in a long time.

And it felt good. Really good.

I think my muscles needed to be reminded of just how good it feels to work, and work hard. I was really looking forward to Monday night’s workout, and ended up skipping, so Tuesday night I finally got to workout again, and it felt awesome. Again. Better yet, I wanted to do the workout, and I felt motivated to do it. And that is something I haven’t felt in a very long time.

Motivation paired with focus is a magnificent thing.

So, less cravings, more focus, more motivation…fabulous.

During the first workout, there was lots of clicking and popping of joints while I went through my sets. By the second workout, just a few little token pops here and they subsided as the workout went on. I’m not lifting too heavy ( just 15 and 20lbs on shoulder raises), so they should strengthen fairly quickly.

Now if I could just convince myself to get a full 6 hours of sleep every night for the rest of the week, that would be pretty great.

On that note, I’m off to bed. Next week, maybe we’ll discuss budgeting. I’ve been doing that too lately. It’s both annoying and gratifying at the same time. Mostly annoying, but I don’t have an overdrawn bank account anymore, so there’s that…