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… 😉

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. 😉

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.

Uncomfortable Epiphanies

I had a rather uncomfortable realization last week. One of those epiphanies when you realize that you just wasted (well, not wasted, exactly, but only if you tilt your head a bit and squint) a huge chunk of time working toward something you really don’t want, and never did, if you’re completely honest with yourself (and everyone else, which is another kind of discomfort altogether).

A few years back, I’m sure I mentioned that a friend asked if I’d be interested in writing a children’s series for his new small press. I really thought long and hard about it, and in the end I said yes, because while I really had no interest in writing a children’s book, I thought it would be a new challenge, a way to grow as a writer, and to be perfectly honest, I thought it might be a way to finally make money writing without having to do all the publishing and advertising work myself.

I wrote the book, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, for many reasons. I went through and edited it a little, and sent it off to the publisher, and since I’d planned a series for my young characters, I tried to start the next book. And it was still so very hard…often I couldn’t force myself to write at all. I worked on other things, but only half-heartedly, and then a whole bunch of stuff went wrong in my personal life and I stopped writing altogether.

Finally, a year after I sent the book off, I pulled it from the publisher (it still wasn’t published). I told myself it was because the process was taking too long, and because not having control was driving me nuts, but I think the truth is I was relieved it wasn’t published yet, and wanted to take back control, though I wasn’t sure exactly why at that point.

I told myself I’d polish it up, expand it a bit, and release it for Christmas, meanwhile getting that second book done. But the second book still isn’t done, and last week when I thought about going back and writing the expansions the first book needs and getting it ready to publish….that’s when it hit me.

I don’t want to publish a children’s book. I don’t want it to bomb, I don’t want it to do well, I just…don’t want to be a children’s author.

I know someone out there is probably thinking, “Hey – what’s wrong with writing children’s books?!” And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Nothing at all, and I think good children’s writers are vitally important and needed in society. It’s just not what I, personally, want to do or be.

And I knew that deep down when my friend asked the first time, and I should have just said, “Thanks for the opportunity, but not my thing.” I’d just turned down several other offers for different writing projects with the same basic phrase, and I think that’s part of why I said “yes” this time…I was just tired of saying no. And I was chasing money/fame too, which is never a good reason to write anything, in my opinion/experience.

So. Here I am a few years later with one finished draft I have no intention of publishing, another draft started in that series that will also go nowhere, and nothing new published under any of my various pen names in all that time. Not a great spot to be in for a writer. Kind of depressing, honestly, especially when I think of what I could have been working on, and could have had done and published by now. C’est la vie, I suppose. Thank goodness I don’t actually rely on writing for living income, or I’d have been screwed a long time ago.

In any case, now that I’ve finally admitted this to myself (and all of you), I’m taking a little break from writing (or trying to write) and working on proofreading/publishing a couple of books that I didn’t write (which is always more fun). Once I have those all set, I’ll get back to work writing what I love – romantic suspense and horror, with the occasional erotic short tossed in for variety. I still like the series concept I had for the kid’s books, so I’d like to revisit/rewrite that with a more adult cast and romantic suspense theme…a project I’m actually pretty excited about. Who knows? Maybe I’ll start working on that after I’ve finished the suspense/horror (not sure what it will end up as, honestly – I’m not far enough into it just yet) draft I’m working on now.

No where to go from here except up…or forward, at least. But I know what I want, and I’m back on the right track. That’s what matters.

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 Spectre 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. 🙂

Catchin’ Up

Well then. I kinda got behind on this whole blogging thing, didn’t I? I’m sure the few of you reading along out there were probably busy enough with your own Halloween celebrations (or hidey-hole stocking, for those who don’t participate) that you didn’t even notice I was gone. I should probably do something about that…you know, something to make my posts so charming, so poignant, so completely engrossing that people wait with bated breath until the next missive comes out, but…that just sounds like work.

Save it for fiction, I say. Not that my fiction is especially stunning just yet, but I like to think it’s improving.

On the costumes, hubby and I went to the party as Bob Ross and a Happy Little Tree. It went over very well, thank you very much. The party was a blast…really fun seeing what everyone else came up with. Can’t wait to go again next year!

bobntree

The yard haunt went really well too, though I haven’t had a chance to transfer the pics from my cell yet. But they’re all over Instagram & Facebook, if you’re so inclined to follow/friend me on either of those. Not many trick-or-treaters, but lots of friends dropped by to chat, which is always fun.

In any case, Halloween is over, the bodies are back in the basement (well, most of ’em), and we spent most of this weekend taking the yard haunt down and just cleaning house in general. I may have even had a brief dalliance with a dust rag…but I don’t think that particular relationship is going anywhere long-term.

My neighbors seem to be a little confused as to the season – most of ’em took down their Halloween stuff and put out Christmas wreaths and flowers and things. I put out a nice autumn leafy-wreath on the door, some faux leaves and squashes in the door basket-decor-thingy by the steps, and another leafy wreath and some fall-leaf garland in the front window. Because as far as I know, Thanksgiving still comes before Christmas, right? And it’s still fall, not winter…

This weekend was also “fall back” to Standard Time, and I love that. I wish we could just stay in standard time year-round, but I like the dark, and I have no problem at all with it getting dark early in the evening. Judging from my facebook feed, I’m in the minority on that one, but at least people are whining about something other than politics for a change.skullcameoroseandlace

I got the second part of my right forearm (outside) tattooed last week too – a bit of lace and a big rose that ties directly in with my skeleton cameo (inside forearm). It turned out just amazing. Once it heals, I’ll try to get a quick video of the full forearm piece. That’s the last tattoo for this year – I need to pay some bills and do some budgeting work, and I also need a break from the itchy-healing process. It’s a really nice one to end the year with though. And the last one that’s really visible on a daily basis, at least until I get a few smaller bees/moths on my other arm to sort of fill in little open spaces.

I have a couple of goals I need to meet before I can get my next tattoo…I’ve decided tattoos are an excellent incentive/reward for completing goals. For the next one, I need to pay off one line of credit (completely) and lose (and keep off) the 5lbs I’ve put on over the last month or so due to bad eating habits and blowing off yoga in the mornings (ironically, part of that was due to healing tattoos, but still…).

I think I can accomplish both of those by next February, so hopefully I’ll be getting my next tattoo then. We shall see…

In the meantime, my husband decided to do NaNoWriMo this year (National Novel Writing Month), and I couldn’t very well let him do it by himself, so I decided to jump in again too. I’m woefully behind on word count already, but I have three days off this next week (Tues and Fri are holidays, Weds I’m taking a vacation day), so hopefully I can make up some wordage during that time.

As to the story I’m writing – I got the idea from my skeleton cameo tattoo. About three days after I got her done, she started talking to me, telling me a story involving a woman on the run, a voodoo priestess, a guardian talisman and a mystery waiting to be solved. Incidentally, her name is Misty. So I’m writing the Mystery of Misty for NaNo this month, as well as trying to get The Time Stone (Book One of The Stone Scavengers – a young/middle-grade story) edited and formatted for release in December. Busy busy!

So then…I think we’re all caught up now. Next time, remind me to tell you about a very cool stamp app the USPS just released this summer. Hopefully by next week I’ll be caught up with my postcard exchange as well, which has been on hold (along with everything else) due to Halloween madness.


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Thoughts on Costumes

It’s so easy to decide what you want to be for Halloween when you’re a kid. Your favorite super hero or cartoon character. Whatever you want to be when you grow up. Whatever bright outfit that catches your eye and is cheap enough for mom to say “yes” too…or a lion, tiger or bear – oh my!

Then you grow up, and you start attaching way too much meaning to the whole concept of “dressing up” as someone other than yourself. Because as an adult, you actually *have* a sense of self, and that sense is naturally kind of weirded out by the fact that you want to be someone else for a night (or maybe that’s just me).

Plus, there are contests. Prizes to win. Other people to impress. It’s a thing. So much more than just school parties and trick-or-treating…and (again, this might just be me), when you get to a certain age, the “slutty-anything-you-can-think-of” costume no longer works with the not-so-beach-body you’re sporting. Besides, low-cut shirts and high-cut skirts are just cold and a pain in the butt, IMO. So basically, my lazy streak is showing again.

If you haven’t guessed by now, my husband and I are dressing up this year. Not for Halloween night – it’s too much to set up the yard haunt and get ourselves dressed in something other than jeans and haunt-watching clothes, normally. But we’re going to a masquerade party at one of our local art museums next Saturday night, and have been sort of agonizing over costumes ever since. There are prizes, of course – and prizes, and we’re totally overthinking it and probably won’t have our costumes sorted until next Friday.

Next Saturday before we go, we need to raise the walls on the infrastructure of our yard haunt, so…yeah. We’ve got this procrastination thing down to a science.

In any case, here are some of the ideas we’ve kicked around:

Alice & the Rabbit (or Mad Hatter)
Little Red Riding Hood & The Big Bad Wolf
American Gothic (the painting)
A Cloud & the Rain

Nothing is quite “gelling” just yet, but we’ll keep looking. It’s been several years since we had a party, and we always dressed up for those. We just need to figure out a personal “theme” of some sort. I lean towards movies and books, he’s leaning towards paintings.

Anyone got any ideas for us? Feel free to jump in…or better yet, tell me what you’re going to dress up as (or what you dressed up as the last time you wore a costume)!

A Writing Jump-Start Day

Happy Columbus or Indigenous People’s Day (whichever you prefer) to my US readers, and Happy Thanksgiving to our northern neighbors!

Whatever you call it, today is a federal holiday here in the states, which means I’m at home on my comfy couch (yes, Mica finally got up, for those of you who saw the pic I posted on social media sites this morning), and I fully plan to use the whole day for writing/writing-related “stuff”.

It’s unbelievably difficult to reclaim a daily writing habit once you let it drop. Or it has been for me, anyways. It’s been nearly a year since I wrote with any kind of regularity (or made much progress on any of my drafts, and I hate that. Nearly everything I’ve allowed to get in the way has been self-inflicted (aside from the dog health problems we had to deal with last year), and it’s time to just get out of my own way and get back to work.

I’ve decided that no matter what happens in the interim (lots of daily writing, hopefully), all remaining federal holidays this year (aside from the two that require family dinners) will be reserved expressly for writing. I suffer from a lot of self-doubt that I’ve allowed to seriously derail me for far too long, but the thing about being bad at something (or even perceiving you’re bad at something) is that the only way to get better is to…you know…work at it.

There was a line on a TV show I watched last night (won’t name the show, so as not to give spoilers) that really hit home for me with regards to writing fiction. I can’t quote it verbatim, but the basic gist is that a good story doesn’t need to tell people who they are – most people already have a decent idea of who they are. Rather, a good story shows people who they *could be*, if only for a little while, in an alternate universe. I’m still mulling over all the implications of that, but it’s a good thing to consider for any writer, methinks.

As for today’s plan, my morning will be dedicated to going through the first manuscript in a new kid’s series I’ve started (not published yet) and writing up a very rough outline plus some notes on character & storyline details so I can move on with the second book and have those notes to refer to in order to keep the timeline & details correct. More details on that process will be on tomorrow’s writing blog.

This afternoon will be all about new words. Probably not all in the same draft, but I’d like to get around 3k words in, which should be enough to get my head back into a few stories again so I can continue working on them throughout the week.

It’s gonna be a good day…


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