The Snow Globe

I don’t actually own a snow globe at the moment, so for demonstrative purposes, here is my overly dramatic Begonia Ignita, “dying” of thirst.

Everyone’s probably had at least one week in their life when just about everything went sideways or topsy-turvy. It doesn’t happen to me often, but this past week was definitely one of those. Starting first thing Monday morning, things broke I had to fix, things I tried to fix wouldn’t mend, concerning announcements were made, schedules were thrown off, plans were derailed…

It was unsettling, in more ways than one.

But then Friday morning first thing, everything suddenly turned around. Deadlines were met, communications restored, projects that had been waiting on others got finished, good conversations were had, and while I didn’t really appreciate the timing because I was tired and I didn’t feel like putting in that much mental effort, a project that’s been hanging out a long time suddenly took off and got mostly finished, with just a little clean-up work to do Monday.

And just like that, the world flipped upside right again.

Which leaves me with one question:

Who shook up my personal snow globe this week, and would they please just leave it on the shelf for awhile now?

Begonia Ignita, recovered and happy.


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Refreshing

It’s that time again, when the seasons are on-again, off-again, on and so on, like a child flipping a light switch for fun. Snow, hail, sleet, rain, sun, wind, cold, hot…sometimes they trade in whole days, and other times, merely hours.

Isn’t it interesting how many of us humans feel the need to clean and dust and organize and purge major areas of our lives in the spring? For some, it’s almost a fanatical turn-over, a near-desperate need to renew our surroundings and sometimes deep swaths of our everyday lives.

For others, it’s a quieter thing, more of a shaking-out of winter into the backyard, sending the snow back to Old Man Winter and dusting the ennui of dark and cold into the bin for a good six months (hopefully).

Normally I fall into the latter category, quietly pruning the plants in the yard, maybe wiping down my kitchen cabinets, and thinking about all the things I should do now, while the weather isn’t actively trying to kill me. I enjoy watching the flowers pop up, the color gradually coming back, and being able to walk my dogs late without all the bulky layers and gloves needed in the colder months.

Spring always brings a bit of dread though, too. In the midst of all the renewal going on, there are still losses, and I’ve suffered enough of them in the spring that I’m somewhat on edge until summer sets in, wondering if there will be another casualty – one of my dogs, a friend, someone in the family. I try to ignore it as much as possible, but it’s always there in the back of my mind, until the weather gets hotter and the interminable heat of summer takes over.

This year, my husband decided to “refresh” our backyard. Once upon a time when we first moved in, we had a wild idea to put a dry riverbed through one side of the yard, and plant it with flowers. There was to be a tiny bridge to cross over it with, and a fountain at the end. And for a little while, all but the bridge existed.

But, grass seeds spread, weeds took over, and neither of us had the time or energy to stay on top of the maintenance. The fountain got covered over, the rocks started falling in, and the whole thing just got way, way out of control. We don’t work well in the heat, and weeds tend to grow great in the dead of summer, which is not a great combination of things to keep a neat-ish patch of yard.

So, the job being too big to handle ourselves, we decided to hire the landscaper who tore out our front lawn for us to come back and take care of the mess we’d made in the backyard. He’s been working all week, and a third of our yard has been torn up, and is in the process of being graded to fix a drainage problem (water in our basement), and to look much less wild than it did just a week ago. It will be rock and grass, easy maintenance (just mowing, no weeding), and I’m sure the neighbor who shares that fence line will find it refreshingly clean as well.

When the landscaper asked if I wanted him to “scrap” my handmade raised bed by the patio, I declined. It, too, needs a refresh, and I fear I’ve lost the roses in there, including my favorite Peace rose, which was over 20 years old. But I want to do that work myself. I want to finish those beds, fill them up with good soil, and replant them myself. I don’t want someone to do it for me – I want the satisfaction and ownership of doing it myself.

Sometimes, you have to just admit that the job is too big, and pay someone to get you back on track. Other times, it’s not necessarily about the finish line, but rather about continuing to work at it whether you ever crawl over that line or not.

I am looking forward to seeing our completed yard. And also to getting out and trimming up the front gardens where things have already begun to grow. I’ve started doing some spring-cleanup of routines and workflows, too, which feels good, and is already bearing some productive fruit (such as creating a dictation schedule again for writing).

With any luck, everything and everyone will keep springing up, rather than the alternative.

Are you spring-cleaning? Anything noteworthy this year?

That’s it for this week! If you have a favorite thing to share, or want to recommend a book, TV show, video or podcast, comment below, email me at jamie@jamiedebree.com, or catch up with me on Facebook or Instagram.


Support your author:

Buy directly from me at Brazen Snake Books, or:
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About the Big Black Spot…


…in my driveway, that is.


It was about a week ago that I noticed it. It had probably been there for a little while, given the size and the snow that kept falling and melting, but I really noticed one day when the snow was gone and I put the car in reverse and backed out of my driveway to go to work.


It was dark, and roundish, and obviously soaked into the concrete. But more than that, it was right underneath where the front of my car normally rests whenever I’m at home.


I went past curious pretty quickly, and got that feeling in the pit of my stomach we all get when we notice something that signals something isn’t right, and whatever that something is could potentially cost a lot of money.


Then I tried to ignore it. Tried to just assume it wasn’t an ongoing problem. Whatever happened had happened, and surely it would just be gone one day, and I probably wouldn’t even notice or remember it had been there.


Alas, it kept growing. Slowly, but it was definitely getting bigger. That’s when the paranoia set in.


Every time I parked, I watched the asphalt or concrete when I backed out of a spot. If I could drive through, even better, because then I couldn’t see anything. My parking spot at work was clear, nothing seemed to be dripping at the grocery store, or the pet store, or the drugstore, or the hardware store.


But the spot kept growing overnight, like a hex on our driveway, until finally my husband noticed too, and there was no denying it any longer. And when I really looked close, I couldn’t decide if I was seeing more of an iridescent sheen or neon green tint. Would the outcome of one be worse than the other? Hard to say.


Plans were made, cash shoved anxiously in my work bag, and I dropped the car off at the mechanic three blocks from where I work a few days later, handing over the keys with no small amount of trepidation and fear of what would come next.


I walked back to work, sat down at my desk, and waited, all sorts of dollar signs and numbers floating through my head. When the call came, I braced myself. Our car is 14 years old.


“Your car is ready!” The guy had a chirpy lilt to his voice. I figured it was all the dollar signs he’d be slapping me with shortly. Some people get off on torture.


“Great,” I said, trying to stay semi-optimistic. “What was wrong?”


“Just a loose oil filter.”


My whole body immediately felt lighter, and I walked over to get my car, enjoying the sunshine I’d ignored just a couple hours earlier. I finished my workday, and had a few errands to run on my way home. Two stops. Quick. Easy. Barely anything.


Just before turning into the second parking lot…my oil light came on. It hadn’t ever done that, even when that black spot had been growing in my driveway.


I got the things I needed to get, and my heart beat fast as I turned the key in the ignition.


No oil light.


Someday I’ll stop staring at that spot on the dashboard when I start up the engine.


Maybe.

That’s it for this week! If you have a favorite thing to share, or want to recommend a book, TV show, video or podcast, comment below, email me at jamie@jamiedebree.com, or catch up with me on Facebook or Instagram.


Support your author:
Order from me directly at Brazen Snake Books (ebooks & accessories so far)
or
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Google Play (digital) | Google Play (Audio)

The Makings of Places

Surprise! Not a post about the store, for once…yay! Though that is coming along nicely, now that I’m figuring out how to use the WooCommerce software. But I digress….

I’ve been thinking a lot about places lately. Settings, in writer-speak, but ultimately, how being in a place affects people, and how different places affect people in different ways.

Being mostly a “pantser” (wherein I write “by the seat of my pants” without hashing out a plot first), I often struggle with my settings. I don’t like to write about places that exist, because I don’t want to risk “getting it wrong”, or worse, (because my perspective will most certainly be different than the people who actually live there) malign someone else’s love of a place because of my markedly different and possibly negative perception.

I wasn’t really too worried about that last bit until I read a book set here in my hometown, by someone who moved here from elsewhere, and their perception of the place, valid as it is, really took away from the actual story for me. I spent the whole book focused on the things they didn’t like about the place I love (not that it’s perfect, but my perception of certain things didn’t match theirs, obviously), and constantly telling myself that it wasn’t something I should take personally (which I totally shouldn’t)…but just having to do that left a sour taste in my mouth for the book itself.

I don’t want to do that to someone else’s hometown.

I decided years ago to write in my own made-up places, and then a few years back, I decided to create a more concrete setting where I could place the majority of my stories, and not have to keep making up a new city or town every time I sat down to write. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if the place names I wanted already existed in those forms, and a lot of time looking at maps so I could situate my growing city and adjacent small “tourist-trap” town somewhere that nothing else was, and that the topography matched what I needed for a specific subset of my stories.

I’ll admit right now – this is far more work than trying to get the details right for an existing place (though less work, perhaps, here in Montana than it would be elsewhere, since we still have a lot of open space to play with). But I’m all in now, and some of my drafts are rooted in these places, so they are “real” in my head and these stories couldn’t happen anywhere else.

My most recent problems are visualization and growth over time. My ability to design the layouts of my settings in my head is very limited – I have severe tunnel vision when it comes to visualizing places. I’m not a cartographer, I’m not an architect or engineer, and while I can visualize individual houses and to a limited extent, streets, I have a very hard time visualizing an entire place in my head at once (even an existing place).

I recently decided (after repeatedly trying to draw rough sketches of what I thought my towns might look like and failing spectacularly because my drawing abilities are cave-painting at best) to see if Copilot (because it’s easy to access) could give me a reasonable visual representation of my made-up towns, and more than that, since my stories span generations, if I could get a visual of how those towns/spaces would possibly change over time as far as architecture, size and skyline go. I have to say, I was really pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to have an image created of what my made-up “spaces” might look like, and how they might evolve through the decades. I went back and forth a bit on details, and got them looking like a real small city and nearly abandoned tiny town, and worked on getting the topography to look how I needed it to, and…yeah.

Now I have working visuals I can refer to while writing, that will keep me from having to explain why the saloon is in one spot in one book, and an entirely different spot in the short story I wrote during the same time period (hint: in that case, it would be my inability to remember where things are, so, writer mistake). Super handy, super helpful, and it’s going to save a ton of time having those to refer to as I’m writing.

I’ve also been doing a lot of research on how towns were formed in the late 1800’s (when my saga is starting) – the whys, the hows, the whos…and it’s all very fascinating. This is all information that will go into the stories, but not directly. It’s more that all these things will imbue life into the characters and their backgrounds, which are inextricably linked to the history of these two settlements.

And of course, the people who settled there came from somewhere else – another important part of their general makeup.

So…Meadowlark and Magpie Montana. As far as I know and can find, they only exist in my head, but they’re becoming more and more real thanks to a lot of research, some map-peeping, and some AI rendering.

Fun stuff…I’m excited to keep writing these stories and see how they turn out!

If you feel like it, tell me about one of your favorite places. I’d love to read about how it sounds, smells, tastes, and feels to be standing in the middle of a place you dearly love!

That’s it for this week! If you have a favorite thing to share, or want to recommend a book, TV show, video or podcast, comment below, email me at jamie@jamiedebree.com, or catch up with me on Facebook or Instagram.


Support your author:
Order from me directly at Brazen Snake Books (ebooks & accessories so far)
or
This House of Books (my local bookstore!) | The Book Depository
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks | Audible
Google Play (digital) | Google Play (Audio)

New Store, New Perspective

In case you were wondering, setting up an online store from scratch is a pretty intensive and time-consuming process. I suppose if one uses Shopify or one of the big pre-packaged store builder services, it would be somewhat less so, but I did that when I first started selling books (in 2011), and ended up not making enough money to pay the rent, so to speak.


So this time, I decided to be smart, use my web developer skills, and set up a store (check it out on my BSB site here) that wouldn’t cost me more than it will possibly make back. If I eventually start making enough money on a regular basis, I’ll move to a “prettier” solution, but for now, it’s free WooCommerce and a few choice plugins. Plus PayPal as the sole processor, because they’re the only remotely affordable processor willing to process transactions for the more adult ebooks my Trinity alter-ego writes (if you’ve noticed her site was down, yes, I know – it was my mistake, and I’m working on it. It’s back online, but still needs some backend fixing.).

Yes, I know lots of people just ignore the Terms of Service, do what they want and hope for the best. I’m risk-averse, so I’d rather have permission before anything bad happens, thanks.

Anyways, that’s where all my blogging energy has gone lately. Setting up the store has required a lot of futzing and learning new things from taxes to shipping to order fulfillment and just managing to create and list products. Plus securing the store forms, and testing, testing, testing everything. And now that most of that (not all, but most) is out of the way, there’s the tedium of simply creating and listing all the books – and testing the delivery for each ebook to make sure it works. I’m trying to list at least two books per day (I have about an hour each night to work on this). Once I get all the ebooks up, then I’ll work on print.

In the meantime, I’m still writing, and I have several micro-fiction stories that I really want to make into bookmarks and story cards. I also have several little bits that need to be slotted into larger works-in-progress, and still more that will make very nice short stories and novellas as they’re expanded.

The new perspective I’m really trying to cultivate with all of these projects is one of not having to do everything “right now“. Being able to be okay with working on things in small chunks that don’t require a lot of focused brainpower for long periods of time. It’s very much a workflow and mental shift for me – all my life I’ve preferred to start and finish a project in as few “large chunks” of time as possible, and as quickly as possible, so this doling things out in a trickle is new and somewhat uncomfortable for me.

But that’s how we grow, isn’t it? By doing uncomfortable things, and allowing ourselves to change and flex depending on where we are in our lives at the moment.

I’m mostly just happy to be making the time to be creative. Even if it’s not as much time as I’d like, and it’s still somewhat frustrating to work in such small chunks, it’s better than being frustrated at not doing anything creative at all.

I’m also happy to be working on the business side of things again – something I haven’t done in a long time just because it was just too daunting, and often overwhelming to even try. If I wait until I “have time” to sit down and do the whole thing at once (whatever that “thing” happens to be at the moment), it won’t happen.

So I’m working on tiny pieces at a time, and accepting the fact that it’s not work that will ever actually be “finished”. It will just go on until I decide it’s time to stop.

Hopefully that won’t be anytime soon. Oh! I almost forgot. Smashwords is having their “Read a Book” week sale, and some of my books are on sale over there until Saturday. If you like cheap ebooks, check it out! You’re sure to find something interesting and entertaining!

Also, my apologies for having to add Captcha to the comments. The amount of spam written in Cyrillic was just seriously getting to be way, way too much to keep up with. And since most readers comment more on social media than here anyways…I figured it would affect a minority. Please do let me know if it gives you problems, and I’ll see what else I can figure out.


That’s it for this week! If you have a favorite thing to share, or want to recommend a book, TV show, video or podcast, comment below, email me at jamie@jamiedebree.com, or catch up with me on Facebook or Instagram.


Support your author:
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A Story of Adaptation


As I mentioned in my resolutions post, I’m focusing on short and micro-fiction so far this year. I’m also working on creating a daily writing habit, so 50 words per (week)day is my minimum. I’m quite enjoying it even though most of the daily words aren’t going anywhere, and others need to be fleshed out into longer short stories.

But I have written a few things that I really like as micro-stories, and those, I’m turning into exclusive bookmarks and cards for my new online shop. I wouldn’t sell them as just a single tiny story, of course, but packaged into a handy bookmark (I love the prototype I’ve been using) or a card to give to someone else? That seems like the perfect use for these bite-sized bits of fiction.

As a bonus, it allows me to explore my love of paper crafts and it’s starting to make me more excited about sharing my stories with the world again.

To start this endeavor, I used a little story I call “How it Ends/How it Ended” to create a batch of simple bookmarks with a cover, two pages, and a back cover bound by a grommet at the top that allows the pages to swing out for reading. It took a bit of finagling to get things formatted and positioned correctly, but I’m really quite pleased with how they turned out in the end, and I’ll be making more bookmarks with different micro-stories throughout the year.

While I was making those, I had an idea for a card to go with the story. I think we’ve all been in a position at one time or another of seeing or running into a person within our normal sphere of life that we never quite talk to or chat with, but it feels like we know…or should know them.

Well, “How it Ends” is one of those “missed connections” stories. So I’m creating cards that read “I Think We Should Meet” on the front, and then when you open the card, you’ll read that little story, and then under the story on the right side of the card, it simply says, “Hi”. A little gift to tell someone that they’re someone you’d like to know – or at least like to talk to once in your life.

I love this on several levels…it’s self-publishing at the smallest denominator, it allows me to create both a story and a physical, hand-crafted object, and it’s something I think some people might actually find both entertaining and useful. I’ll be playing with different types of bindings and formats over time, which will be a lot of fun.

It’s allowing me to write, finish, and publish on a micro-level, using the smaller bits of time and mental energy I have available after the intensity of the day job.

Adapt and change – that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? With my current day job, I simply don’t have the mental capacity to write and publish larger works on a regular basis (though I am still working on them when I do have more energy). By changing how I work and what I’m working on, I’m enabling myself to still do what I love, on a different scale, and when my circumstances change again (eventually I’ll be able to retire), I can change up my focus and processes again.

An important life-lesson for me to remember, as I tend to think that if I can’t do exactly what I want, how I want to do it, then I should just not do that thing.

I need to be more flexible, and this is a great step in the right direction, methinks.

Have you adapted a process in order to continue doing something when your circumstances changed, just in a different way? Share your story (here, on social media, or if you’re reading via email, feel free to hit “reply”)! I’d love to hear it!

Oh! And while we’re on the subject of change – the Brazen Snake Books site has a completely new look! I’m working on incorporating a store there, so there are several links that don’t work simply because I haven’t built the store out yet. But it’s coming! Check it out if you’d like, and let me know what you think (or if you run into anything that doesn’t seem to work).

That’s it for this week! If you have a favorite thing to share, or want to recommend a book, TV show, video or podcast, comment below, email me at jamie@jamiedebree.com, or catch up with me on Facebook or Instagram.


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Valentine’s Day Gift: That’s the Ticket!

I wrote a bit of short fiction for you today. Enjoy!

 

That’s the Ticket

Five years ago on Valentine’s Day, I met the man who would make all my dreams come true.


It had been raining all day, and the only color on main street were the pink and red splashes that lined most of the shop windows along the way. I felt as gray as the weather, walking alone in a dress I couldn’t afford and now, given its bedraggled state, couldn’t return. He stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb in our small town, rushing down the sidewalk with a pointless newspaper held over his head in that expensive suit soaking up moisture as fast as it fell from the sky.


I’ve never played football, but when he rammed into me shoulder-first, sending me flying a few feet back and right up against the thick trunk of a sturdy tree, I was pretty sure I knew what it was like to be tackled by a line-backer.


He did stop to make sure I was okay, though he was obviously perturbed at the delay. I was perturbed at being thrown into a tree, and received a very polite apology before he took off again.


I think about him every year on this day. I go stand on that corner, snap a selfie under that tree, and I wonder where he is and how he’s doing. My friends and I toss back a shot in his honor, knowing that he doesn’t know my name and probably has no memory of me or that brief encounter that changed my life forever.


I’m guessing he doesn’t remember the lottery ticket I lifted from his suit jacket, either.


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Digital Moves & New Routines

As you may have guessed, I’m still trying to get my new routines settled. This means that for the past two weeks, I’ve been doing my “50 words per day” during the times I’d normally be writing a blog post.

It takes awhile to establish new routines, so I expect (hope) this will get better going forward. I’m writing a lot more regularly now, and my “50” words often come in at 150 – 250 per day once I get going, which is exactly what I was hoping for with that resolution.

The other thing that took some time and focus last week was a site hosting issue. My old web host (A Small Orange) was bought years ago by one of the huge conglomerate services, and I’ve been wanting to move my sites to an independent host for several years now as the service and support through that big conglomerate has gotten increasingly worse. I’ve just been too lazy to pull the trigger, as I’m currently running four active and a couple inactive sites, plus email with special configuration for the majority of my domains. Needless to say, the thought of moving all that was a very daunting thing.

The old host gave me an annoying shove when they raised their price around $7 per month. I was already paying nearly $40 per month, so that was excellent motivation to find a new host. I spent several hours last week researching web hosting and potential hosts, going back and forth, and finally settled on GreekGeeks, which is an independent hosting company that seems to be proud of its independent status (so less likely to “sell out”, hopefully), and also had more good reviews than bad when it comes to customer service.

GreenGeeks isn’t the cheapest host out there, but I’m a “get what you pay for” believer, so I wasn’t looking for cheap, just less expensive. They have a good deal running right now, so I bought a year’s worth of hosting for $60, which is over $20 less than one more *month* would be with my old host. After that, it triples to right at $200 per year, but it’s still $300 less than I’d pay with the old host. Win!

The best part though (so far), is the free migration service. I requested it and figured they’d move one site, and I’d have to do the others plus my email accounts manually. But they have some sort of very cool tool, and one hour after I requested the migration, I got an email saying it was done, and telling me to repoint my nameservers. I did, and everything just…worked! I do use WordPress and cpanel, so obviously the tool is specific to that, but that saved me *hours* of work…had I known that was possible, I’d have switched hosting a long time ago.

So, here we are on the new host, the sites are running well, and now since I’m thinking about the technical bits, I’m thinking it’s a good time to update my templates. I have one picked out for my author blogs, and just need to purchase it. I was kind of at a loss for the main BSB site though, because I also want to install WooCommerce and set up my own web store, so I want a theme that will work well with that. Hmm.

Then while browsing the GreenGeeks blog, I found this article, specifically on WordPress themes for selling books! Huzzah! There are two of these I really like…can you guess which ones? Which one is your favorite?

I have vacation time that I need to use up from the day job (use it or lose it!), so I’ve scheduled one day off per week for the next four weeks, and I’ll be working on these template updates, the store setup, and some publishing tasks that should (if all goes well) result in some new stories coming out this quarter, as well as the newsletters picking up again.

So that’s what’s going on, and why blogging is kind of sporadic at the moment. There are good things to come though, methinks. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching, and making decisions on what I want to prioritize and spend time/focus on, and it’s time to get back to treating writing as a business, rather than a hobby.

In the past, I’ve thought I needed to have wide blocks of time in which to do things, and sometimes that’s still true (the template changes, for one), but increasingly I’ve been focusing on making the most of smaller blocks of time to get “a little bit” done every day. For right now, that’s working, so I’m rolling with it for more than just writing.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what I’ve been writing during my daily micro-sprints, and some of those have been for the Magpie stories. So that’s encouraging, and I’m excited to get some of these little bits polished up and available to buy in several formats, hopefully from my own store on my own site as well as everywhere else.

Thanks for staying tuned, so to speak!


Support your author:
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New Year, New Goals!


Don’t you just love the fresh feel of a new year? I’ve been a bit busy, hence the lateness of this post, but better late than never. And I have been making progress on my goals already, which is the important part.


January is probably my favorite month. It’s my birth month, which may have something to do with it, but it’s also a new start, and often cold and snowy, which means plenty of time to hole up inside with hot drinks and warm blankets.


I’ve had some rough starts in recent years, but this year feels different. Better. Like it actually *wants* to be a good year, rather than just another obstacle course of challenges (or at least a somewhat easier obstacle course, anyways).


Regardless, I’ve decided to take it easy on the goals this year, and while some are fairly lofty, they should all be attainable even if I fall off track here and there. Nothing too rigid, nothing too demanding, just things that will eventually get done if I’m even 75 percent solid with my routines.


If you’ve been here for a few years, you know that I make a decent sized list of goals, and then pick three to dub actual “Resolutions”. Resolutions are the top priority – they get the first pick on the daily/weekly/monthly schedules, and they get more of the focus than anything else.


All the other goals are just “goals”, and I work on them after I’ve gotten the Resolutions taken care of for the day/week/whatever.


This year, my big three are:


1. Improve my handwriting through daily practice
This one stems from my increasing inability to read my *own* handwriting, which has just gotten worse over the years as I’ve moved most of my documentation and communication online. I decided I should do something about it, and I have to say, I’ve actually been enjoying the daily practice sessions so far (and yes, my handwriting is improving, slowly).


2. Pay off as much debt as possible.
I am a spender, not a saver. My family was poor when I was young, but unlike a lot of people in that situation who tend to be very apprehensive about spending money later in life, I enjoy spending now that I have money, and I have a too-cavalier attitude about not having enough (mainly because I know I can deal with not having enough if need be, not that I particularly enjoy it). However, I also realize the value of living within one’s means, and of saving and investing as well. And while I make a good living now, I’ve overspent far past my own comfortable limit lately, plus I’m paying off medical bills, and I need a new pair of glasses (not cheap, even with my insurance). It’s time to be responsible and pay down my debt/build up some savings. *sigh* Boring, but necessary.


To that end, I’ve found a new budgeting/finance software – Moneydance – that is somewhat more sophisticated than what I’ve been using (but not too much), and will allow me to do my weekly balancing a bit easier, but also to get a good snapshot of all my debt and our investments in the same spot. While I’d rather not see all my debt in one spot (depressing!), I need to. Knowing it’s there and having to look at those balances every week is motivating to me to get it paid down. So, much like doing a weekly balance/budget was motivating to me as far as getting a handle on my finances, this is the next step.


3. Write a minimum of 50 fiction words per day.
Fifty words is only a good paragraph or two, but it’s the daily practice and repetition I’m going for here. For the past several years, I’ve had a hard time with longer fiction, because I often don’t have the mental capacity for it after working all day (the hazards of a job that requires a lot of troubleshooting and puzzle-solving). So I decided that this year, I’m going to focus on short form fiction. Fiction of a length that can fit on bookmarks and inside cards. And if I happen to get some work done on my longer drafts too, that will be great, but short is my focus for the year.


So far, I’ve written at least 50 words every weekday (though not the weekends yet – I’m still working on scheduling that), and most days, over a hundred words once I get going. I’ve got three micro-stories written and waiting to be put in cards, and another good start that may well end up as an actual story with a bit of editing.


This writing resolution goes with one of my lesser “goals” this year, which is to create cards and bookmarks for sending/selling. I’m still waiting on a bit of equipment to come in for that, but I’m excited, because I’ve wanted to get back into paper crafting for awhile now, and using it as a publication outlet for my micro-fiction is the perfect way to do that. Limited edition cards and stories – it feels like a nice artisan way to continue writing and publishing. I hope to have the first cards done by the end of the month.


So those are my big three resolutions for the year. If I can accomplish these, and hopefully some of my lesser goals as well, it really will be a year of creativity, art, and growth. I can’t really think of anything that would be better!


Do you have any specific goals to work toward this year? Or are you just going to wait and see what happens?


Either way, I hope your year is off to as good a start as mine, and that it will be a year of health, growth, and prosperity for us all!


Recommendation
I came across this video on YouTube last weekend, and while I’ve been doing artistic things for as long as I can remember, I found this interesting and relevant to this year’s creative goals. Check it out if you have some time, and let me know what you think:

That’s it for this week! If you have a favorite thing to share, or want to recommend a book, TV show, video or podcast, comment below, email me at jamie@jamiedebree.com, or catch up with me on Facebook or Instagram.


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Year in Review: 2023


Well That Was…Something.


You may want a snack and a beverage…it’s gonna be a long one. 🙂


This past year has been the weirdest and least productive I can remember in recent history. That includes 2020. Looking back at my resolutions and goals, it was mostly a bust, with pockets of unexpected and redefined success. But that’s not unsurprising considering how much of this past year revolved around medical procedures, including the anxiety leading up to them and various significant side effects after that added to my recovery times.


In many ways, it was a “lost” year as far as doing the things I want/like to do, but for the most part, the medical concerns that have been plaguing/distracting me for the past three years have been resolved and/or explained, which is good. I have some residual issues that will either heal or they won’t, but they’re things I can live with whether or not they improve, so I have zero plans to interact with medical personnel next year with the exception of my optometrist, because I really need a new pair of glasses, and my dentist for the normal preventative stuff (and that’s only ’cause I like and trust him…otherwise I’d be skipping that too, honestly).


On the other hand, I’ve experienced a few significant mental shifts as well, and those are really shaping my perception of the future and what direction I want to take things moving forward. One of my goals was to cultivate better impulse control, which I pretty much failed at. But I’m well aware of it and I’ll definitely be working harder at reigning that in for the long term.


The fact that I made a goal of 6 hours sleep per night is laughable – my sleep has been all sorts of messed up this year with over 12 weeks combined surgical recovery, and even now, some nights I can’t get comfortable. Add the absolute gem of menopause & hot flashes waking me up mid-sleep to the mix, and I’m doing really well to sleep a full 5 hours in any given night…and even luckier if I don’t pinch a nerve doing it.


Needless to say, I’ve given up on sleep goals. I gave up trying to get to bed before 1am as well, and now the “quiet time” I had scheduled for 11:30pm – 12:30am runs from around midnight to 1am. It’s working for me, and that’s a resolution I did successfully keep, which was to spend an hour every night planning for the next day and then reading before bed. So that’s a “loss-win” combo.


Speaking of reading – see that empty white rack in the photo above? That was overflowing with comic books at the beginning of the year. One of my goals (not resolutions) was to read a comic book every morning to get caught up with several year’s worth of back issues, and…that was a resounding success! The only unread comic books I have now are the larger graphic novel formats, a Spider-Man huge issue I plan to read this weekend, and then a few more Spider-Man and Venom issues that are now in my hall TBR rack. Which is where my new issues will all go from now on, because I am officially caught up! Huzzah!


I did not meet my goal of journaling daily, but I did start the year journaling, and I’m ending the year having discovered I like “art journaling” (a cross between traditional journal writing and scrapbooking, basically), and while I don’t have a definite schedule for it (yet), that will continue on into the new year with me.


My exercise goals were thrown way, way off track (and down a hill, as I couldn’t even do yoga for long stretches of time), so that was a complete bust, and I’m both heavier and more out of shape than I have been in quite awhile (currently rehabbing a wrist that atrophied more than I realized during “recoveries”, and then got strained when I started lifting weights again). Alas, there wasn’t really any way to avoid that, so…onward, with more movement in the new year.


As for my writing goals…I started out okay and then with everything else going on, I found myself trying and repeatedly failing every night during my allotted writing time. I just…couldn’t, mentally speaking. It sucked. I found myself seriously considering quitting for the first time in a long time – giving up the business name and packing it in.


Which is where one of the more significant mental shifts comes in, and I’ll talk about that more next week.


Financially, I’m not anywhere near where I wanted to be by now, but…medical expenses. Next year will be better. I also spent more than I should have on things like my rediscovered love of fishkeeping and plants, but I’m not going to feel guilty about that. This year wasn’t a good one, financially, and I’m just going to keep working on it and hopefully have better luck (and less medical issues) in the coming year.


All that said, this time last year, I was in a much worse place, constantly worrying about the near constant pain I was in, anxious about what would happen in the coming weeks, and feeling like a total failure for being unable to focus on anything productive and *yet again* having gone through another year without publishing anything.


This year, I’m in a far better place both physically and mentally, and I’m looking toward the next year with a healthy optimism and plans for making it much more productive. And even without any of the successes above, that would make this year a win.


Next week, my resolutions, goals and plans for 2024. I think I’m gonna need a (new) pair of shades. 😉


How was your year? Did you accomplish any goals you might have had, or learn something while missing them? What are your goals and/or plans for the next year?

That’s it for this week! If you have a favorite thing to share, or want to recommend a book, TV show, video or podcast, comment below, email me at jamie@jamiedebree.com, or catch up with me on Facebook or Instagram.


Support your author:
This House of Books (my local bookstore!) | The Book Depository
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