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Priorities & Forced Balance

Last week wasn’t nearly as bad as the week before in general, which is kind of odd since work was decidedly difficult. The difference is, I dealt with it much better, and while I didn’t stay caught up all the time, I did prioritize a lot better. It’s amazing how much just setting solid priorities can alleviate so much stress – and allow us to get more done than we might otherwise.

The poetry challenge was especially “challenging” this past week, but I managed to end Saturday caught up for the week (I’m behind a poem again as of right now, but I’ll catch up tonight). Poetry is all about “flow” and ironically, fitting it into my schedule has been exactly that. Looking for the proper flow, so I can slot it into each day at some point.

I think I mentioned that I was trying to use some of my nightly knitting/crochet/TV time to catch some of the overflow, and my body told me very quickly that it was just not going to happen. My eyes went downhill again, my brain refused to work, and pretty much every night sitting there with the computer on my lap, I eventually just gave up and shut it while I finished my hour-long TV show.

Incidentally, we’ve been watching Iron Fist and Wynonna Earp on Netflix. Iron Fist is entertaining, but I highly, highly recommend Wynonna Earp. So, so good!

In any case, that hour is very necessary down-time, and my body & brain were quick to correct me when I tried to use it for work. So…it would appear that time is just as sacrosanct as my writing time. This week, I’ll get the knitting back out while watching TV.

My neck is healing, but very slowly, and I’m kind of to the point where it feels like it just needs gentle stretching and then to build up the muscle around that nerve to protect it from being pinched again. I have to be careful, as it still won’t really “work” at several angles, but I’ve started doing light weight training in my shoulders/arms again. We’ll see how that goes, but hopefully it will be helpful. Stupid neck.

In any case, my writing output increased again last week, and no matter how much this poetry thing stresses me out, I am *loving* what it’s doing as far as just getting me back in the daily writing habit. That right there was worth the cost of the workshop (though I’m obviously learning so much more…).

And for those who have been following along weekly – yes, my taxes are done and will be in the mail on April 18th. I’m not efiling because I owe the feds money, and they can just wait for my check to get there, thank you very much. This coming Friday night, I’m adding some dedicated bookkeeping time to my weekly business hours.

I’ve been thinking lately of pulling a couple of shelved drafts out and reworking them for publication. The basic plot is sound enough, but they need revision/additions to work. I do believe that might be something to work on after poetry month is over. I’m excited at the prospect, and I hate revising with a passion. So there’s gotta be something there, right? We’ll see.

Serial story chapter coming Friday, and another week’s worth of poems Saturday. Stay tuned!

Challenges & Choices

I wasn’t actually sure I was going to survive last week. Everything that could go wrong pretty much did, and not just one or two days, but every day. On top of that, doing the poem-a-day workshop took up a lot of time I didn’t have, which means I didn’t get to bed on time any night last week (including this weekend). That means I didn’t get any reading time, or enough rest. Which put me behind today (Sunday, as I write this), because I slept late, and just a little bit ago I finally sat down to look at last year’s bookkeeping for the publishing business to see where I left off.

As far as I can tell, I started updating my financial program last year, decided I didn’t have enough time or energy or whatever, gave up, and just added up my sales reports for the total income & used my bank statements to calculate my expenditures. Which is absolutely fine/accurate for taxes, but now I’m two years and 2.5 months behind on bookkeeping for the business, and because I didn’t look at this earlier, I’m going to have to do the same thing this year. Which is way more work than actually clicking the button in the finance program to generate a sales/loss report for the year to plug into my tax program.

It’s also a lot more work than just keeping my finance books up to date once a month. Seriously.

Yet another thing in my life that I really need to just get control of and keep control of. It’s not hard, it’s not mysterious, it’s not something I need to “learn” how to do…I just need to do it. Because it will make my life exponentially easier, at least once a year.

I have no idea why I have such a mental block about taking care of finances, but there’s got to be a way to get past it and be more responsible in that area.

In other news, the poetry challenge has been both negative and positive. As I mentioned earlier, I really didn’t have time to do that, and I still don’t, and my sleep and reading/relaxing schedule was completely shot (not to mention any knitting/crochet time i the evenings). I really need to figure out some other way to keep up this week, because I can’t do a whole month like this…I’ll go insane.

On the other hand, I’ve discovered that poetry is a great warm-up for writing prose, and I’m actually enjoying writing poems far more than I thought I would. It has also increased my prose output just due to having that extra deadline hanging over my head, and I’m finally getting back to a reasonable per-night word count again. I think after the month is over, I’ll keep writing poetry…though at a much more moderate pace (say, one poem a week or so).

I’ve also discovered that I really like writing by hand on my cell and/or tablet. I have Samsung Note devices (cell & tablet) with the SNote program, which makes it easy, and I’ve found that handwriting first drafts and notes, and then typing the manuscript back in is a great editing tool.

Another boon is that it’s making me think more about word choice and sound in my prose, which is exactly what I was hoping it would do. So definitely worth it, if I can just regain some balance this week. Thankfully taxes aren’t due until the 18th this year, which gives me next Saturday to actually fill out the forms (yay TurboTax!), but I’ll have to calculate my profit/loss numbers working in the evenings this week. My eyes are already squinting at the thought of all that extra screen time.

This week is going to be all about collecting/calculating the business info I need for taxes, and also figuring out how to fit my poem-a-day in with my regular writing and still get to bed on time so I can read and recharge the brain before sleep (and getting enough sleep).

Next week, after my taxes are done and filed, it will be time to figure out how I’m going to get the bookkeeping all caught up, and keep it up to date from now on. *sigh*

And someday, maybe I’ll be rich enough to pay someone to do my accounting for me, right? (Don’t worry, I’m not holding my breath either.)

First Quarter Observations

Yes, this weekend I wrote & scheduled my first quarterly newsletter for BSB. I need to get my author newsletters going again too, but…babysteps. This year while I’ve been working to get back on track with the writing (with some success), I’ve also been working to get back on track with the business side of things. Stuff like updating the web site regularly, scheduling promotions, checking sales (my books actually sell better on iTunes than anywhere else – who knew? I do now!), keeping in touch with readers, posting writing samples on the site…and supposedly keeping my accounting up to date so I can get my taxes done (um…yeah. Babysteps, like I said.).

You know. Actually *running* the business, instead of just letting it limp along on its own until I need something from it. Novel (so to speak) idea, eh?

Time is an issue, as you’re aware, but the whole Friday late-night business hours thing is actually working really, really well. I kind of feel like Tim Ferriss (he’s the guy who wrote that 4-hour work week book, right?) would be proud. I start around 11pm, and work until around 3am, and that time is dedicated completely to taking care of business/BSB tasks. It’s not quite enough time, granted, because I still generally end up doing blog posts on Sunday night (just did that before hopping over here), and I don’t have a good workflow figured out yet, so I spend too much time deciding what to work on, instead of working. But that will come in time, and if I can eventually hook up with someone who’s marketing-graphics inclined, that will save me a bunch of time too (I currently make all of our marketing graphics – it’s very time-consuming). But…babysteps.

The cool thing is, stuff is getting done. Books are getting marketed (thanks to the marketing assistant working with me), updates are being done, things are moving forward.

And I’m writing regularly again too. Still need to work on priorities and time management, but Monday through Thursday nights, I am in my booth no later than 11pm, and working on a piece of fiction. I may get a few words in or a lot, but nearly always something. I will have at least one, and possibly two or three new books of my own to publish by the end of the year. That feels pretty darn good.

I’m also reading regularly again (at night, after I write and before sleep), and I’ve taken up archery (I did indeed buy a bow), and this past weekend we got a really good start at turning our backyard into a “lawn” again. It doesn’t sound like much, I know, but all of these things add up to good progress on the things that felt like they were just completely out of control and out of reach altogether just a few months ago (well, aside from the archery – that’s just a new hobby on a whim, but a good addition, methinks).

Things are good. Life is good. And I hope it will just keep the next curve ball to itself for a little while longer, because I’m really enjoying this little interlude from the conflict that tends to plague us all here and there.

Back with a New Groove

I have to say…last week was one of the best “staycations” I’ve ever had. I didn’t over-schedule myself, but I structured my days and the week as a whole, got a lot done, never felt any real “pressure” as far as time/deadlines go, and at the end I was relaxed and had a new, much better perspective on life in general.

I did a lot of thinking, planning and preparations for working on and sticking to my resolutions for the year. I did some cleaning that I never have time to do all at once on the weekends, which feels good because now I have a good chance at being able to maintain those areas of the house in less time. Without that extra prep time, it would have taken me quite a bit longer on the weekends for awhile just to catch up to a place where I could maintain, so I’m really glad I could get that done.

I also finished a project that’s been on my dining room table since October – a miniature haunted dollhouse that comes in 5 mailings with each mailing having not only pieces to the dollhouse, but also more clues to the mystery. That was a wonderful way to spend my birthday, even though I did give myself a serious kink in the neck working on it all day (still not healed, but worth the discomfort). It’s still on the table in need of finish work and a permanent home, but I have that all worked out too, I just need to take a Saturday afternoon and get it done.

I had several really good writing sessions, after the dogs had been walked (thank goodness for warmer weather!) and the house was completely still. By that time, I’d been away from work long enough that my head was clear and creative again, underscoring just how much of a drain my job is on my mental energy. It’s a good job, don’t get me wrong, and I love doing it, but it does seriously limit my creativity. I started thinking about some ways I could deal with that and make sure that I have time to rest mentally between the time I get off work, and the time I need to write. I have some things to try this week, so we’ll see how that goes.

Motivation has been an issue for me lately too, with the writing, I mean. So when several good book sales payments hit my account, I splurged and bought access to a “Motivation” lecture by Dean Wesley Smith. I’d watched the first video on YouTube (it’s free there), and decided that whenever I had a hard time sitting down and writing last week, I’d watch one of the videos in that lecture series to hopefully “motivate me”.

The first time I decided to watch, I got as far as video number three, and had an epiphany that forced me to stop right there and re-evaluate my writing time. For the curious, you can read about how I did that on my writing blog later this week. Suffice it to say, it involves some important realizations on my part, and some serious routine/chore shuffling. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the videos.

The BSB site rebuild is pretty well finished, the two February releases formatted and nearly ready to go, and a new blog posting schedule started over there on Mondays. My Friday night “office hours” are still going swimmingly. Hooray for that!

In other news, yes, I will finally be posting to the dog blog again next week. It’s the pictures that get me. That blog kind of needs them, and it’s extra time/effort to get pics, and then edit/upload them along with the post. But I think I’ve finally got that sorted out. Hopefully.

I’m kind of mystified at the fact that since January 1, a bunch of people have “liked” the Nail Art Tuesday Facebook page. Where did they all come from? Did they not notice that before last week, I hadn’t posted there for a couple of years? Is there a serious nail art trend happening right now that I’m just not aware of?

Regardless, it made me consider whether it might be worth posting to my Nail Art blog again. Not full “this is what I did and how I did it” tutorials like I used to do, but quick, weekly pics of my manicures wouldn’t kill me. Nor would bi-weekly pics of my pedicures, and occasional photos of my other body mods. Of course that would require changing the name of the blog to Nail & Body Art Tuesdays, I suppose. Doesn’t really have the same “ring” does it? But I have been getting more interested in expanding my jewelry collection since getting those new piercings last month, and there are two more piercings I’d like to get next weekend, if possible, which will give me even more jewelry options. It would be fun to have a spot to share those with people interested in that sort of thing…

I haven’t decided one way or another on that yet. No hurry, really. This week’s manicure went a little sideways anyways, so nothing postworthy just yet. People are still “liking” my Tea on Tap page too, but I don’t drink enough of a variety anymore to bring that back, and while I would love to do some gong-fu brewing, I’d have to really schedule that into a weekend slot, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Bummer, but until I retire, I have limited hours to work with. Such is life.

I tell you what…I already have so much to do in my retirement years that I’d probably better plan on not dying until I hit at least 100. It’s gonna take me that long to get through my “to do” list! πŸ™‚

So…great vacation, new perspective, and I’m ready to get back into the normal swing of things.

And away we go…

Goals Report & Vacation Days

The frustrating thing about goals is not being able to just jump in and get the changes done all at once.

That being said, I’ve taken some pretty big strides in working towards my resolutions in the past couple of weeks, and considering pretty much everything takes more time to organize the first time than it does to keep up, I think I’m doing pretty well.

Of course I’m behind on my normal stuff (*ahemthisblogandthedogblog*), but once I get the initial set-up done and the new routines in place, everything should go a lot more smoothly. I’m pretty confident in saying it will, actually. I’ve thought it through and broken it down so that I know exactly what steps I need to take for success, so the only thing standing in my way would be…me. As usual.

Sometimes this overclocked brain does come in handy. When it’s not driving me nuts, anyways.

In any case, I went nuclear on the Brazen Snake Books site a couple of weeks ago, and I just finished rebuilding all the book pages and getting the newsletter sign-up back online. With any luck, there will be a new blog post up over there later today as well, and I need to make some new graphics next for marketing. It’s not difficult, just time-consuming, and I’m organizing a couple of book launches for authors working with BSB as well, so there’s a lot to be done. But I’m happy to report that my Friday late-night office hours are really paying off, and I think it will be completely sustainable for the long run, which is a relief. There’s a lot of business-y stuff I’m behind on, so it will take awhile to catch up, but those dedicated hours every week are going to be a godsend. And they save me some free time on the weekends too, so I don’t have to stress over what BSB stuff I should be doing when I *need* to clean the house and have some down time. The BSB site will be easy enough to maintain after all this clean-up/reorganization, as long as I keep up with it. Which I’ll be able to with the Friday night scheduled hours. I wish I’d thought of that years ago.

As far as my other goals go, I plugged several new tasks into my weekend routines, and it’s going well. My feet have been pedicured twice now (and are in much, much better shape already), my makeup brushes are clean and soft for the first time in…well, longer than I care to admit, the inch-thick layer of makeup/dust has been removed from my makeup vanity, my kitchen sink is clean on one side, and my tea center is cleaner/more organized as well (and getting better maintenance). I’ve also started doing push-ups, sit-ups and squats just after my nightly cleaning time and before I sit down to write. This is a twofer, really, because I’m building muscle mass, and also waking my brain up just a bit, which makes it easier to write that late at night. Major win there!

I’m taking this week off from work – today is a federal holiday anyways, and tomorrow is my birthday (which I always take off, because why not?). And since I’ve already discovered that unstructured staycations do not work well for me, I’m planning my days out to get the rest of my “prep work” done for my resolutions so I can just move forward with the new routines from then on out. I’m also planning some extra writing sessions to jump-start the drafts I have in progress and get back into the daily writing “zone”. It’s gonna be a good week, and so far, it’s off to a great, relaxing start.

And yes, I have some hobby-stuff I plan to work on this week as well. Like finally finishing the Haunted Dollhouse miniature mystery I started before Christmas and never quite got back to. That will be my main project on Tuesday, and I can’t wait! Then there’s my TBR comic book pile, and the US Postal Service has a new cataloging app for stamps that I intend to download and start putting my US stamp inventory into. About time they came out with an app for that!

I got some new Smurfs for my birthday, so I need to do some organizing in the blue realm as well to find spots for them. We’ll see if I get to that or not.

I’m planning writing sessions in the afternoons as well as my normal late-night sessions in hopes of making great strides on my current fiction draft, which is pretty exciting too, and should also help me get that daily writing habit well established again.

So, lots to do, but all stuff I *want* to do, and rarely have time for. Onward!

New Year, New Resolutions

If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than a year, 1) hey thanks! and 2) you know I’m a pretty devout New Years resolutionist. I like goals and plans and being at least somewhat organized mentally as well as physically. Last week I went over last year’s resolution list and how I did with that, so this week, I’m sharing this year’s list, and a brief-ish breakdown of how I’ll go about making them happen.

I made 8 resolutions this year – 3 personal, 3 writing, and 2 work-related (which will not be listed here for what should be fairly obvious reasons). It was actually kind of hard writing these out this year, because I had trouble narrowing them down (I only allow myself 3 per category, max). It was also quite difficult making sure that none of them could reasonably be hijacked by outside forces (because if they can, then they don’t qualify as a resolution – only things I have complete control over qualify).

But, I managed, and while I may have cheated a bit and included more than one item in a couple of my goals, I think everything is very achievable and will add significant value to my life for the long run.

So then – jumping right in, here are the new goals:

Personal
– Finance: Pay off at least two major credit lines and get one month ahead on all utility/household bills.
– Physical Health: Add strength training to my weekday routines and a pedicure to my weekly routine.
– Household: Add weekly cleaning routines for kitchen, bathroom, jewelry and makeup table

Writing/Publishing
– Write three novels/novellas and three short stories.
– Use Friday late nights for “business hours” every week
– Get newsletters (quarterly, min.) going again.

As you can see, finance is one of the biggies for this year. I make decent money, but I’ve gotten pretty lax on managing it, and that is…well, not good. It’s time to get serious about paying off debt, not letting the utility bills pile up just because I don’t remember to pay them, and getting some savings built up. It’s going to require some serious buckling down, planning/budgeting, and self-control, but I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. And need to. So that’s highest priority for the year.

As for physical health, I really need to add some muscle mass to my frame. I do yoga most weekday mornings and when the weather cooperates, I walk the dogs every night. I also climb the stairs at work. But I’ve been neglecting the strength training side of things, and I need to work that back in for both a metabolism ramp-up and just because it’s healthier for both my immune system and my bone mass to keep my muscles strong.

My feet are kind of the bane of my existence The nails are hard to care for, both feet are callused and have dry patches, but my right foot is drier than the Sahara, and really needs some serious help. I don’t have a clue why it’s just my right foot and not my left, but bodies are weird. I’ve been avoiding pedicures because I do my nails late Sat. nights, and honestly, my feet get cold! I’m going to solve that by crocheting myself some open-toed socks. Then I can put thick salve on my feet, put on my socks to “marinate”, and take care of my stupid toenails. I really need to be putting Wool Wax on my heels every day, but once a week will be a start, at least.

On the household goals, I suck at cleaning. I mean, I *can* do it, but there are so many more exciting/interesting things to do on the weekends! Thing is, the cleanliness of the kitchen, bathroom, and my jewelry and makeup can directly affect our health. So I really should set some of my weekly cleaning time aside for those. It’s not even that it will take that much time – cleaning goes pretty quickly once you just start. Alas, I’m lazy. But I need to be a little less lazy this year.

Part of why I’m lazy with the housework is the thought that I should be working on my writing/publishing business. Things like blogs and web site updates, bookkeeping…all the boring things that come with running a micro-business. And I really do need to spend more time on that, but it’s difficult to find time when I need to be able to focus and not be interrupted for awhile. I tried doing morning sessions on the weekends, but I really do suck at mornings, and rarely got anything accomplished because I was just trying to keep my eyes open and wake up my brain. It didn’t last long, and that’s what happens when you fight your natural biorhythms.

So this year, I’ve set aside Friday late nights (time I’d normally be writing) for BSB business tasks. I started last week (why wait?!), and it went much better than any early morning session ever did. I think that because I’m already naturally awake at night, this will be something I can sustain over a long period of time. Since I don’t need to be up for anything Saturday mornings, if I get caught up in something I can stay up until it’s finished if need be. That’s the kind of freedom I need to get everything organized and moving forward again.

Taking writing time for that isn’t optimal, but there are only so many hours in the day, and not taking care of BSB business is stressful and also ruins my motivation for other things. So it needs to be done, and it’s a good time investment once a week, methinks. It will make it easier to do housework without guilt, and even though it’s less writing time, I think I’ll get more writing done.

My other two goals are pretty self-explanatory. I added up how many words I could potentially write in a week at my normal speed (around 800 words an hour), and it looks like I could comfortably write a book and a short story every four months. Which equals three novels/novellas and three short stories. That’s so much more than last year I’m giddy just thinking about it!

And newsletters, of course, are just smart for keeping in touch with readers. I’ve let mine go for way too long now, and it’s time to get them going again. Just quarterly…I think that’s often enough to stay in touch, and not so often as to be annoying. I hope.

There are a lot more things I want to do this year, both personally & writing-wise, but these are the ones that made The List. I’m hoping these won’t be too terribly difficult to implement fairly quickly, but no way to tell without just jumping in.

So…here’s to the new year, and new goals, and keeping things moving in a forwardly direction. I have a good feeling about 2017, and I’m gonna take advantage of that for as long as possible! Or at least long enough to set up some good new routines.

Are you a resolutionist? Care to share your number one goal for the year? Inquiring minds, and all that… πŸ˜‰

Holiday Tidings & Looking Back

Everyone have a merry/happy holiday this weekend (even if just celebrating “the weekend”)? If you’re reading this, you probably survived, at the very least, so congratulations to all of us on that!

As usual, I’m glad Christmas is over, and today I will be taking down our tree, putting ornaments away, and returning our house to it’s normal state. Maybe even cleaner, though that might have to wait until next weekend. I’m all about leaving the past in the past, and moving forward to whatever possibilities lie ahead, and that includes leaving Christmas in 2016, and having a nice calm, clean(ish) environment to bring in 2017.

It’s not Feng Shui, by any means, but it works for me.

I’ve been thinking about the past year (as I generally do this month), and while much of it can be summed up simply as “good riddance”, it was definitely a year of personal growth as well.

Last year, I distilled my resolutions into sections for Personal, Work, and Writing, and just three goals each. The goals I made public (ie, not work) are:

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
– 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)

I wasn’t perfect on any of these (naturally), but I did pretty well with the personal goals. I don’t perceive my hobbies as “second jobs” any longer, I’ve done a lot more analog/tactical things on the weekends, and some months have been better than others, but I do normally get some reading in at the end of each day. So I think we can call the personal goals a success.

The writing goals are a whole ‘nuther story. Pretty much all of those were a complete failure, and that’s because I was off in a totally wrong direction which pretty much killed any motivation I had to write. It sucked, put bluntly. I’m finally writing again, but only after getting to the point where I could drop the “wrong direction”, do a 180 degree about-face, and start over with writing things I actually *want* to write. It was a rough year in writing, but again, a learning experience. At least I’m writing again now, and that’s all that matters.

On my work goals, I managed to complete one (big) goal, I did well with another until half-way through the year, and the other one is still a work in progress. So…we’ll just call those a “draw”. Which isn’t bad, considering all the upheaval/change that went on in my workplace this past year.

So I got a win, a lose, and a draw for the year. Realistically speaking, I think that’s pretty good.

As far as personal growth goes…the whole writing debacle was a big learning experience. It’s difficult to distill it down into words (ironically enough), but I learned a lot about who I am, what I want to do with my writing, and what I don’t want to do, and I had to come at that from a creative/artistic headspace rather than a logical one (which is my default). Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but it does feel like a much different mindset to me.

Of course that means that the logical, business side of my writing suffered a bit, but I’ve had to admit that I just don’t have the time/energy to keep both the writing and the business moving forward by myself at this point in my life (when I retire from the day job, it will be a different story). So I hired some help, and I’ve learned to let go of control on a lot of things I would have taken care of myself before. That’s alleviated a lot of stress for me (granted, there’s stress involved in having someone else help out too, but not as much). I plan to continue doing that next year, and focus on the writing, rather than the business side of things.

One other major area of personal growth for me is in body modification (tattoos and piercings). I suppressed my desire for more tattoos and piercings (more than the well-hidden tattoos and piercings removed for professional perception) for many years for several reasons, and this year, I finally decided to stop “normalizing” myself and start indulging in the mods that make me happy and express outwardly who I am inside. I’ll do a longer post on this eventually, but it was a pretty major turning point for me – something I started a couple years ago, and finally had the “guts” to go all in with this year. Not everyone in my life is all that excited about it, but it makes me happy, and more importantly, it’s me being true to who I am and what I like no matter what others think. The whole world gives lip service to that from the time we’re young. It’s taken me awhile to work up the courage and confidence to actually start living it.

I had some major personal growth periods at work too – mainly in deciding and solidifying what direction I want my career to take, and what kind of work I do and don’t want to do. It was kind of a rough growth point because once again, I did the complete opposite of what nearly everyone close to me (and some not close) thought I should do, and it’s always hard to feel like you’re letting people down or turning down good opportunities. But hindsight/perspective is always clearer, and several months later, I’m 100 percent certain that I made the right decision, hard as it was at the time. I like my current job, I like what I do, and I like where I’m at in my career and the direction I’m going.

So…a very stressful, growth-filled year. I’m hoping that 2017 will be a little easier/less stressful all around – I could certainly use a little break, methinks.

Next week, I’ll share my goals/resolutions for the new year. I do love a nice, fresh starting point, and January 1 is a very convenient and “logical” one. πŸ˜‰

Not So Deep Year-End Thoughts

I can’t believe it’s December already…and also, I can’t wait until December is over. I’m not big on the holidays, though I do have quite a bit more holiday spirit this year than last. Not having to stress over decisions for a very sick special-needs dog helps a lot with the whole attitude thing. I may even get Christmas cards out this year (that’s the plan for next weekend, anyway, and I still have the box I bought last year unopened, so I don’t foresee anything derailing me from that).

I had this great idea for yard decorations this year involving our beloved skeletons, but I didn’t have the time or motivation to actually execute it, sadly. Ah well. Maybe next year. Considering some idiots went trashing Christmas decorations in a couple neighborhoods this weekend, it’s probably for the best. Our skeletons are tough, but I’d hate to have to replace them.

I’m nearly done proofreading one of the books I’m working on publishing, and it’s fabulous, and I can’t wait to read the last little bit late tomorrow night. Seriously…between that one and the short story I proofed last week…there’s some good reading coming your way, ladies & gents. I’m not sure when yet, as I’m still working on cover art for one, and the other has to be sent back to the author for final edits, but by January/February, for sure. Completely different stories, and yet each very unique and engaging in their own right. I’m really happy/honored that these writers are publishing under the BSB (Brazen Snake Books) umbrella.

It’s motivating, too – working on these two books. I have a marketing assistant (or BSB does, I should say). And she’s very good at what she does, including pointing out things I should clean up with regards to sales pages, books that are available here and not there, or in this format and not that, or whatever she happens to see that might look a bit “off” to her. She’s made about a ton of very logical, good suggestions, and I’ve not had time to actually put any of them to use. Which is on me, but still – I’d like to. And then the other night when she had me looking up some info on one of my earlier books, I realized that the BSB web site is more screwed up than I originally thought (I…was an idiot, and in a hurry, and installed an update without backing up first, and you should never, ever do that).

In any case, I have a list going of all the things I need to fix and/or work on with regards to my much neglected publishing business, and I’m going to start scheduling weekly calendar time to work on those problems (or in the case of that web site, an entire long weekend to just bomb the whole thing and start over). I need to get my book sales records in order for next year’s taxes anyways, so I need to establish regular weekend “business hours” like I was doing awhile back. Just…maybe not at 6am. Because I am not, and never will be a morning person, and there’s just no reason to get all masochistic on myself like that.

I also decided to change calendars/to-do list apps last week. I’ve been using ToDoist, but I really wanted a more “full-service” calendar/to do list/menu planner/grocery list type of program, instead of having separate apps/programs for each. I’d tried Cozi in the past, and it wasn’t robust enough as far as notifications and offline use as I needed it to be, but when I visited the site again last week, I noticed they’d improved all of that. So I downloaded the free version to my cell, and reset the password for my account on their site, tried it out, and I think it’s going to work for everything I need, finally. I’m trying out the “gold” version now, and will probably pay for a year of that in a week or so. It’s either that, or renew my ToDoist subscription, and Cozi is not only cheaper, but more robust. Cozi seems to be the clear winner for this next year, at least.

Which of course means I’m re-doing all my lists/routines…something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile now, and new software is a great reason/time to actually get that done.

So…a few little changes that could have a big, positive impact for the coming year. Here’s hoping, anyways.

Later this week…back to writing! Finally.

Odds n’ Ends

Oh look! Another odd week on the horizon. Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the States, so we work Mon-Weds, have Thursday off, and I’ll work Friday too. Which is fine…I actually like working Black Friday, because everyone else is either out shopping, or blurry-eyed from getting up early to shop before work. Either way, it tends to be a quiet work day, and a good one for getting things done.

Thursday should actually be a pretty quiet day too, since the hubby and I aren’t expected at my brother-in-law’s until around 5pm. Which is nice, because I spent a good couple hours this weekend cleaning off part of the dining room table specifically so I could explore a haunted-dollhouse-by-mail that I subscribed to back in October. There are five boxes/mailings total, and I have four, only one of which I’ve opened so far. So while I have some publishing-related things to do that day as well, I fully intend to open the rest of those boxes and start figuring out the mystery in miniature contained therein.

In entertainment news – we finally watched the movie SpectreΒ this weekend, and it was everything a Bond movie is supposed to be, of course. I’m bummed that Daniel Craig doesn’t want the part anymore, but I can understand too. I wonder who will take up the mantle now?

I also finished Season 2 of Vikings this weekend, and man…I tell you what. I finished the 8th episode while doing my nails Saturday night/early Sunday morning, and then Sunday evening I blew off a few things to watch the last couple episodes because I just *had* to know how that storyline was going to resolve. Ugh! I’m glad it ended the way it did, and next weekend I’l start on Season 3.

We’re working our way through the third season of Penny Dreadful as well, and man…that show is seriously intense. I love it. It’s a crazy ride, and just when I think it’s getting predictable, it takes another twist. Excellent writing, in my opinion.

I mentioned last week that I was going to start limiting my social media “scrolling” time…and toward the end of last week, I actually did. And it made a pretty big difference in my productivity (she says, surprising exactly no one). I got more done, I stayed more focused, and I realized just how addicted I am to simply watching people. Clearly, I missed my calling as a sociologist/anthropologist, eh? Alas, I need to quell the addiction, but it has served me well as far as understanding people in general.

Along with limiting screen time, I also picked up the paper planner again. And along with scheduling out my priorities and loosely scheduling my day in the morning before work, I also started writing a short synopsis of where I left off in whatever draft I plan to work on later that night. So all day long, my subconscious is chewing on that, and when I finally sit down to write at night, I have a good idea of where the story’s going next, and better yet, I’m excited to write it because it’s been in the back of my mind all day. I’ve only done it twice so far, but both times had the same result. I’m hoping to keep that up this next week…seems like an incredibly easy and useful “mental manipulation” to have in my personal toolbox…

I’m not 100% back up to speed just yet, but I feel like I’m finally on an upswing. Here’s hoping momentum continues in that direction…

Well Alrighty Then

It’s hard to know what to say after a week like last week. Here in the US, we elected a new president, and the results were rather…unexpected (even for the winner, methinks). There’s always some grumbling and complaining after an election, but this time, things are worse. Much worse. Which leads to a whole lot of ugliness that begets a whole lot more thinking and internal processing (or external, judging by my Facebook feed, but that tends to muddle things even more, from the looks of it. I’m not brave enough to check Twitter, which I hear is worse).

Humans can be incredibly cruel to each other. More cruel, I’d argue, than at least some of the fictional killers I’ve written about. But we also tend to be our own worst enemy (individually speaking), and therein lies the rub.

However, there are still plenty of good, decent, kind people out there, and I personally know several. So that gives me hope.

In any case, last week wasn’t really a great week for getting stuff done. In addition to all the election madness, I only worked two days, and while they were quite a bit more productive than my days off, it was still less than I’d wanted to accomplish.

Here’s hoping this week I can find a better groove. Though I will say that the Shinedown/Sixx:AM concert we went to last Weds night was stellar…

I am hopelessly behind on my NaNo novel, and the reason is pretty simple – I’m not making it a priority. And in order to make it a priority, I have to de-prioritize something else, and at present, I really just don’t want to. I need sleep, I still need a tiny bit of reading time, I need to exercise and cook dinner, I need to work (obviously)…and there are only so many hours in the day. Plus I have a novel to proof-read before publication (not mine – another BSB author) and get it off to the format-er, hopefully next week. And then there’s my children’s book that just needs to be edited, formatted, and covered before I release it…

So…there’s really no way I can “win” NaNo this year…and that’s okay. Priorities are made for a reason, and this year, mine just have to be different. I’m still writing regularly again, and that’s really the most important part. I’m keeping my normal writing time, so it’s not like I’m not writing, just…not pushing to get a certain amount of words done quickly.

After dealing with some back and ankle issues last week, I really need to re-prioritize my morning yoga too .I’ve been slacking on that, and it’s painfully (in the literal sense) obvious.

This week, it’s all back to normal – normal schedule, normal routine. I’m going to be cutting out a lot of my “idle” online time (ie, time scrolling aimlessly through social media feeds) because it’s time I could spend actually being productive (or resting, which is important too), and also because it’s hard on my eyes. I need to get back to scheduling days too…on paper, I mean. I’ve fallen away from that, and I really do think it helps.

So…lots of focus on getting myself back to where I need to be, mentally and physically this week. That’s never a bad place to start.

And I need to make Murphy-dog a coat, too. We’re expecting snow on Wednesday, and I, for one, am ready. πŸ™‚