Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Chapter 2

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….


Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 2

“You know, I don’t think a woman has ever actually thrown herself into my arms before. It’s flattering, I guess, but kind of hard on the back. You okay?”

Thankful for the darkness, Shelley felt her cheeks warming and probably going bright red. Embarrassed as she was, her current location was far better than the one she’d been headed for a few seconds earlier.

“Not as hard as it would have been on mine if you hadn’t caught me,” she said, not entirely sure how to extricate herself from his grasp. “I’m sorry if I hurt you, but thank you, for catching me. I truly don’t go around just throwing myself into strange men’s arms.”

He grinned, the expression lighting up his face.

“You’re calling me strange now, on top of all the other things you called me in there?” The arm around her tightened briefly while he helped her up onto her feet, which were still on the top step. Gaining her balance, she moved away enough to look back at him. Was that a flicker of interest she saw? Couldn’t be. It never was, with her. Not once she’d spoken, anyways – and she’d done plenty of that with this guy.

“Ha. You know what I meant. Are you okay? Did I really hurt you?” Her bag had fallen down the stairs ahead of her, and she stepped down, kneeling to gather her things. He knelt beside her, picking up a few items that had rolled his way.

“I’m tough,” he said, holding out her coin purse and a folded oriental-style fan she wasn’t sure why she carried around except that she liked the idea of it. “It would take a lot more than that to actually hurt me.”

Shelley put the two items in her purse, and reached out for one more item he’d picked up. His own business card. She took it, holding it up briefly before putting it back in her bag.

“Outdoor enthusiast – right. Obviously I was way off in there, but you really don’t look like the outdoorsy type. Where is Rattlesnake Falls, anyway?” She wasn’t sure why she kept talking…there was a nice, hot bubble bath and a cozy bed in her immediate future, and she’d probably never see this guy again. Having a conversation was probably a waste of time.

Still, she was interested in what he might say next. And in hearing that voice for a little while longer, too. It was deep, but quiet, and even though his gaze was intense, his presence was somehow calming.

“Head up towards Big Timber, and then just keep going. You’ll see the signs.” His tone was friendly and when he stood up and offered her a hand, she took it with a grin.

“Maybe I should. I’ve been told by at least three people lately that I need a vacation.” A nervous laugh slipped out as she stood and reluctantly let her hand slip out of his grasp. She wasn’t serious, of course. The vacation part was true. Her boss had actually said he didn’t want to see her back for two weeks and that she really should consider a vacation out of cell range, but those weren’t details one normally shared with a stranger. At least not intriguing strangers who might think that sort of thing was odd.

He nodded. “Well, if you call the number on that card, they can hook you up with a room. I know we’re not full this week and next, but after that we’re booked for the rest of the summer.” He eyed her up and down. “We do have some nicer cabins, but you would still have to bring a sleeping bag, I’m afraid. Maybe a quilt, too.”

Reaching up to tuck a few errant strands of hair behind her ear, Shelly laughed. Dillon quirked an eyebrow up at her.

“Did I say something funny?”

She shook her head and started walking – slowly – to her car. “It was just the look on your face,” she said, her heart beating fast as he followed. “You don’t think I can handle ‘roughing it’, do you?”

He shrugged, the sides of his mouth quirked up just a tad. “Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Won’t know until you show up and try, will we?”

“That sounds more like a challenge than an invitation.” She tilted her head to the side and smiled. Oh God. Was she actually flirting? She could never actually tell. Her smile wavered just a little and suddenly she needed to be in her car and heading toward the safety of home.

He turned away, looking back just far enough to wink over his shoulder. “Take it any way you want. You have a nice night now. It was…interesting meeting you, Shelley.”

“You’re an interesting man yourself, Mr. Riley. Maybe I’ll surprise you.”

“I get the feeling you’re full of surprises.” He laughed as he pulled open the door of his truck. “G’night, Ms.—”

“Frank. Without an ‘s’. Shelley Frank, that is. With an ‘s’, of course. Uh, I mean Shelley with an ‘s’, but Frank without one…” Shutupshutupshutup! Her face burned as he laughed again and held one hand up in mock surrender.

“Shelley Frank. With and without the ‘s’, respectively. Got it. I hope to see you up at the camp soon. We could use a bit of color this time of year.” With that, he climbed in his truck and drove off, waving one last time as he went by.

She opened her own door and stepped around it, her bag nearly getting caught on the edge as she watched him go, waving sheepishly and feeling ridiculous.

“Color?” She looked down at the black turtleneck and blue jeans she’d chosen for the night. Granted, her hair was a reddish-brown from the henna-based dye she preferred, but it certainly wasn’t bright, by any means.

“Just stop,” she murmured to herself. A handsome guy was no reason to go all hyper-analyst on every little thing he said or did.

“Especially not someone who lives half a state away and makes his living crawling around the mountains.” Nature was great and all, and she could handle a few nights of roughing it, but she really was partial to warm showers, late mornings and not checking her shoes for creepy things every morning before putting them on.

Shelley realized she was still standing half-in and half-out of her car, the door ajar, talking to herself.

Out loud.

She shook her head and slid behind the wheel, finally heading for home, a bubble bath and a big glass of wine.

Maybe a fantasy or two.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 3!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Chapter 1

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing! 


Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 1

It’s not easy being right all the time.

Shelley Frank watched the fourth guy of the night walk away and for a second, pretended to wonder what would happen if she just played “normal” with the next one. But she already knew. Guys were so predictable. Which made them boring, which made this whole evening a complete waste of time.

Maybe not a complete waste, she thought as that annoying bell rang and the next speed-dater approached. He wasn’t particularly interesting at first glance, other than the fact that he didn’t actually seem interested at all. Well, that and the five-o-clock shadow that darkened his jawline with a perfect amount of shade. He sat down across from her with a bored look that probably matched her own.

He met Shelley’s gaze with two startlingly-green eyes and she was surprised at the confident dismissal reflecting back.

“I don’t mean any offense, but I’m only here ‘cause my buddy needed backup and you don’t look like you’re any more into this than I am. So if it’s okay with you, we’ll just skip the whole getting-to-know-you bit, and I’ll get a little work done before the next switch. Is that cool?”

Shelley nodded, but didn’t figure he even saw it considering his smartphone was already in hand and his thumbs were moving a mile a minute. The vibe he gave off was clearly a don’t-talk-to-me one, and Shelley pondered that for a minute.

Was it a ploy to catch her interest by appearing to be uninterested? Or was he really not into this whole thing — and if that was the case, why didn’t he just leave? Then again, she was still here too. The clock was ticking, and considering he was the only challenge she’d seen all night, she decided it was worth the risk.

“Let me guess,” she started as she had with all the others. He was wearing worn, comfy-looking jeans and a semi-wrinkled teal button-down shirt casually untucked with just a hint of curly chest-hair showing in the vee at the top. His black hair was a little long and naturally wavy, and a few errant strands kept falling across his eye.

With those looks and that always-on attitude, it was hard to draw conclusions without knowing more, but she’d give it a try.

“You’re an IT geek with a boner for the latest gaming system and a God complex. A programmer, maybe, which gives you a sense of purpose and at the same time, takes away your ability to connect with other humans on any meaningful level.” Okay, maybe not that last part, Shelley thought. But if it got his attention…

He didn’t even look up from the small screen and his fingers never stuttered. Shelley figured he hadn’t even been listening, so her assessment was just wasted breath. By the time the bell rang again, she’d decided to call it a night and move to the other side of the bar while her cousin finished running the event.

Her partner for that round got to his feet before she could, and finally looked at her, a sharp, appraising gaze that made her want to take a step back.

“Bored, smart woman who somehow got roped into attending this thing against your better judgement, and you’re trying to make the best of it, but you’d rather be at home curled up on a couch with a book and your beloved…leopard gecko or something. Maybe a glass of wine. But you definitely don’t want anyone here taking a liking to you, because that would make him ‘not boring’, and that might make you think you have a chance for half-a-second. Which you don’t, of course, because you always push people away before they have a chance to do the same to you.”

He paused for a minute, started to say something, and then appeared to change his mind. He reached into a back pocket and pulled out a card, dropping it on the table.

“Just for the record – your first assessment was a little off. Might want to brush up on those people-reading skills.”

Shelley watched him walk away and grabbed the card, moving away from the table to avoid yet another round. Holding his card under one of the dim bar lights, she peered closely at the tiny print.

“Dillon Riley — Outdoor Enthusiast/Tour Guide/Owner at Rattlesnake Falls Lodge and Resort.” There was a PO Box listed in Big Timber, and a cell phone number she assumed was his. She had never heard of Rattlesnake Falls, but there were a few different camps up that way and it was beautiful country for it.

Brow furrowed, she looked up and scanned the room, trying to spot Dillon again. Outdoor enthusiast? Really? He didn’t look even remotely outdoorsy with that pale skin and slender frame. Did he have enough muscle to lift a hiking pack?

She knew she was being both unfair and bitchy, but she couldn’t seem to stop, and that was as good a cue as any to leave.

Slipping the card into her purse, she searched the crowd again – this time finding her target, and pushed through the people to where her cousin was holding court from a bar stool.

“Hey Tabby – I’m gonna head out. Do you need a ride?” She only asked to be polite. Her cousin never needed a ride, and rarely came home on nights like this anyway. Shelley wasn’t sure why Tabitha felt the need to drag her along. Tabby insisted it was to keep her company until the party ‘really got hoppin’, which took all of about ten minutes in any bar her cousin had ever set an insanely-high-heeled foot in.

Tabby shook her head. “You chased everyone off again, didn’t you?”

Shelley just shrugged and smiled. “I’ll see you in the morning,” she yelled over the jukebox and elbowed the ribs of a guy with roaming hands on her right. “Take care!”

“In the morning- sure…maybe!”

Tabby turned back to her adoring fans and Shelley pushed her way back through the crowd, somehow managing to find the door. A gust of cool air hit her face as she pushed it open, and she immediately lost her balance as the lower-but-still-substantial heel Tabitha had insisted Shelley borrow caught on a crack in the concrete just right.

Helpless against both gravity and momentum, she reached for the railing she knew was attached to each side of the three-steps down to the parking lot. Her fingers hit the cold metal and slid off just before her shoulder slammed into something warm and solid. She grabbed on for dear life, hoping whatever or whoever it was would at least slow her fall as the momentum kept carrying her sideways.

And right into a thick, steel band of an arm that encircled the center of her back as if she’d been meant to roll right there the whole time. Strong fingers wrapped around her ribs, and she gasped when the world finally stopped spinning and she found herself staring into the same startling green eyes she’d seen at the table inside.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 2…

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance

That Could Cause Cancer, You Know…

…and water is wet, and the sky is blue.

But we’ll get to my rant on supposedly well-intentioned cancer warnings in a minute. First, a bit of blog news:

If you were/are a fan of my blog serials, I have good news! I’m around 6 chapters into my next romantic suspense novel, and I’ve decided to serialize it again. One chapter every Friday, right here on the blog. Keeps me motivated and accountable, even if I know there are only two people reading. And since I rarely look at my stats (too lazy), I can pretend there are at least two people reading, which keeps me writing. Ignorance/fantasy is bliss, you know.

So, if you’re interested, stop back on Friday for Chapter 1 of…hmm. That’s a pickle. I should probably pick an actual title for this book, eh? I’ve been calling it Rattlesnake Falls Book 1, because the series will be Rattlesnake Falls, and this is the first one (I know, so logical). But I haven’t come up with an actual title for it yet. I’ll think on it, and hopefully have one by Friday.

I currently have subscription options for either “all posts” or “non-fiction only”. I’ll have a “fiction only” option as well by Friday, so those who prefer to get each chapter (but not these rambly weekly posts) via email can do so.


Alrighty then. Admin business done, now back to the rant o’ the week:

As I understand it, cancer isn’t really a disease so much as a cell mutation, and the things that turn it on/off are varied and individual to specific people depending on their own genetics and lifestyle. Cells mutate, and those mutated cells spread through the body and left unchecked, it will eventually kill us. Odds are incredibly good that a high percentage of us will eventually be killed by cell mutations (cancer) at some point (hopefully very late in life when our bodies are worn out, but that’s if we’re lucky).

Why am I thinking about this, you ask? Because I was challenged about my tattoos twice last week, and one of the arguments used was “tattoos can cause cancer, you know – and especially lymph node cancer”. The reason that last part was tacked on, obviously, is because Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma runs in my family, and it was an attempt at emotional manipulation. Scare tactics. Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate it, nor do I respond to such things all that well.

There are a *lot* of things out there that can cause (trigger, really) cancers. And we have a lot of warnings all over the place alerting us to that danger. The main cancer that runs in my family is genetic, and has a tendency to hit the same oldest (or only) child of the family in the same place on the body (lymph nodes at the side of the neck) at the same time in life (one week before a 50th birthday). It’s been very predictable for at least three generations on my dad’s side, and I’ve lived a great deal of my life knowing that one week before my 50th birthday, a lump will probably appear on the side of my neck, and it will be my turn to get radiated/chemo-ed/poisoned/whatever-the-current-treatment-happens-to-be in order to keep my body from killing me in the process of turning into a giant mass of monster-cells.

We humans are nothing if not hopeful, though, and to that end, I’ve done and continue to do a lot of things in order to reduce the risk of my genetic switch from “flipping”, or at least to prolong the process. With the occasional lapse, I workout fairly regularly and do my best to keep my weight under control (all previous generations where the cancer triggered, the “victims” were quite overweight). I eat as healthy as I can stand to, which is pretty healthy and includes a high-fiber, low carb diet, I stay away from most extra sugars, all artificial sweeteners, and I try to keep my indulgences to a minimum. I drink the equivalent of six cups of tea per day, no sugar added, and I do my best to get a proper amount of water for good hydration.

I read labels religiously, do my best to avoid potentially harmful chemicals in skin care, makeup, soaps/cleaners, household cleaning products, and personal care items. I use herbal-only hair dyes, and my nail polish is all “big-three-free” (which means it has less toxic chemicals, but it’s still not perfect). I don’t use plastic water bottles or storage containers if I can help it – everything is metal, glass or ceramic. I stay away from commercial drugs as much as possible, and use herbal/holistic remedies whenever I can.

You’d think I’d be confident in my ability to prolong or circumvent my family’s genetic curse, but honestly? I have no idea whether or not any of it will even help. And there’s a very good possibility that nothing I can do will stop that genetic mutation from triggering in my body in exactly the same way, at exactly the same time as my dad, and his mom, and her dad before that. Even if I can prolong it, there’s no guarantee that it won’t trigger differently, maybe at some other time, in some other place. That’s the thing about cancer. If the genetics are there, there’s no guarantee that anything we do differently will ever be able to stop it from actually manifesting.

I have tattoos. One of the few things I indulge in knowing full well that it isn’t the healthiest thing for my body, and that some of the pigment particles *will* settle in my lymph nodes. And I fully plan on getting more tattoos. Because I love them, and because no one can guarantee me that any of the things I do to keep my cells in line is actually going to work against my base genetics. I could live as pristine a life as possible, and still end up with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma one week before my 50th birthday. Or, the curse could mutate differently in me, and manifest as some different sort of cancer at some different time of my life too. Earlier, later…impossible to say. The potential is there, dormant (hopefully) for now. The possibility that something will eventually trigger it is high. If not my tattoos, it will be something else.

At some point, you have to just stop worrying so much, live your life, and deal with things as they come.

Well, you don’t have to, I guess, but it’s sure a lot more fun/less stressful than constantly worrying about every single thing that could go wrong and trying to control things that really are pretty much out of your control.

I’m keeping the tattoos and nail polish, thanks. My two main unhealthy vices, and the nail polish has been one since I was a young kid, way before they thought about things like avoiding toxic chemicals (nail polish is derived from automobile paint, you know, and then there’s polish remover, of course…), so I’ve certainly absorbed my fair share of those along with all the tattoo pigments.

Yes, I know tattoos could/may trigger cancer, thanks. I’ll take my chances.

People, Piercings, Painting and Sleep

Last week felt like a long week. Not that much went “wrong”, per se…it was just crazy busy and chaotic. Didn’t help that the week before I’d spent 5 blissful days in my own little “bubble”, and then last week had to jump back into being around *people* all day, every day. Kind of a shock to the system.

A lot of things moved forward though, which is kind of exciting, and this next week is going to be a very busy, people-y week as well. Such is life, I suppose. Unless one were to decide to go be a mountain person and get snowed in for several months out of every year. Sadly, I’m too lazy to be that person. I suppose it would be a good way to tap into those latent survival skills in a big hurry, eh?

In any case, Saturday after I paid yet another bill and went to the comic shop (had a gift cert from Christmas!), I went to my friendly local piercer, Becky Smith with Cin City Tattoo & Piercing. I give you her full name/shop because I like her, and I like the fact that she’s super quick, and no-nonsense, but will also talk jewelry and piercing placement all day. She’s also got some really nice tattoos…

In any case, I told her I wanted my rook pierced, and a helix piercing, and what I was planning to wear in them, jewelry-wise (curved barbell in the rook, ear cuff in the helix eventually but starting with just a stud). She talked me into hoops for the initial healing of both (couple of months), and while I wasn’t fond of the hoop in my rook to start with, it’s growing on me. She pointed out that the hoop would be easier to sleep with in my helix, and she was right, which is why she’s the expert, of course. Though I do have a “donut pillow” to sleep on that keeps my ear off the pillow and pressure off my piercings. Nifty little invention, that.

After I had those done, the hubby and I headed off to a local art studio (Candi’s Art & Party Studio), and took a Bob Ross painting class. Hubby really likes to paint, and of course we love Bob Ross, so that was fun. Much harder than it looks (painting is definitely not my forte), but it’s not something I’m dying to get good at. We were just having a good time and trying something new. It’s good to stretch your creative side into something you don’t normally do once in awhile.

When my mother saw the post about it on Facebook, she was crazy-curious about if we were taking a long class, and didn’t know I was interested in painting, etc. My mother, the perfectionist. She doesn’t do anything without the end goal being to perfect whatever it is she’s doing. I had to explain to her that it was just a one-off thing, and I really don’t have an interest in painting as a hobby. That’s a pretty foreign concept to her, but she was definitely more enthusiastic about that than she normally is about new piercings/tattoos, so there’s that.

As for my new writing plan, it went…okay. There will be more on that on the writing blog tomorrow (I know, I said that last week and obviously lied, but it’s happening this week), but I’m going to have to shift my long-term goals a bit because I just can’t make what I thought was going to work, work as far as writing time goes. Ce’st la vie, though. Live, learn and keep moving forward. I’m over the pouting, and ready to just keep swimming. Or writing, in this case.

One of the disappointing things is – I need more sleep than I used to, which means I need to get to bed half an hour earlier, which cuts into my already short writing time. I resent that more than I can tell you – the need to sleep when I could be doing other things I want to get done. But sleep is so tied into our health and mental/physical wellness…it’s just smarter, I think, to listen to the old(er) body and give it what it needs. *sigh*

And now, it’s that time, so off to bed I go. May your week be productive, but in the most fun way possible!

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! 🙂

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… 😉

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.