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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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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!


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Life Cycling


Photo of the Week


Our latest purchase from Facebook Marketplace:

 

Cycling and “Cycling”
Like most people, I go through cycles in life. I do or am interested in something for awhile, then my interest turns to something else or circumstances dictate that I change paths, or I cut my hair and keep it short for a decade and change and then decide to grow it long again.

I find it fascinating that I keep cycling around through the same basic interests (so, the more things change, the more they stay the same), but each cycle takes on a bit more nuanced and focused form. I learn more about what I like, what I’m capable of, and what I want, and I bring the focus in tighter the next time I cycle into that habit/routine/interest/whatever.

For example, when I had long hair before, it was just…long. And a lot. Now, I’m conscious about keeping it cut and styled certain ways. When I kept/collected houseplants before, I bought anything that I hadn’t tried before. Now I’m quite a bit more picky about what I want to try growing, and what I want to spend money on (hopefully I’ll be even pickier next time, as I’m well and truly out of plant space).

Another cycle I go through (and this is a “we” cycle with my husband), is going to the gym. We go for awhile, then decide to workout at home, then go back to the gym (or one of us might, and the other works out at home), or we take months at a time off (the worst part of the cycle). A couple years ago, I decided we should go back to the gym, so I bought us a gym membership and off we went…except shortly after, I fell walking the dogs and really bunged up my knee. We finally went back, and then I had eye surgery and was out for a couple weeks. Then winter came and neither of us wanted to leave the house after work in minus zero degrees. Then I had surgery, and just when I was getting back to the gym, had another one.


Needless to say, our gym attendance has been extremely sporadic this “cycle”.


So, we’ve canceled our membership again, and last weekend, we bought a used recumbent exercise bike off Facebook. Our “workout” last night was to rearrange the workout room downstairs to fit the bike in with the treadmill, the total gym and our weight set, and to make sure the TV still works so we can watch while we workout at night.


Moving a couch, table, exercise equipment and a bunch of zombie babies around is a pretty good workout, incidentally. Especially when your muscles have atrophied from nearly 6 months of inactivity.

We now have a nice place to workout at home, and as soon as the TV remote dries out (corroded batteries, etc), we’ll make sure the Fire Stick still works and have entertainment while we’re getting in shape. Cycling, in more ways than one. Hopefully this one sticks for awhile – I actually much prefer working out at home, even though the motivation is still just as difficult to find some days.


Writing News
The good news is, I’ve been writing. Steadily. Nightly. I’m getting a good 250-300 words a day, but the key is that I’m doing that on a very routine basis now, which is awesome. It’s not a good enough pace for NaNo, but it’s a start, and I feel good about it.

My goal is to bump that up to 500 words per day over the next week. Training, as it were. I’m working on a short story that I’d like to finish by the end of the month. I think I have a decent shot at it, if I can bump up the volume.


The bad news is, I’ve gotten nothing more done on the publication side of things, which means there’s no way my alter-ego’s DBV collection will be out in print in time for Halloween. Someday, I’m going to have all the bits and pieces falling into place at the same time, but…this is obviously not that time. Or point in the writing cycle, if you will.


Recommendation(s)
We have a very thick mattress, topped with a 4 inch mattress pad and even deep sheets don’t really stay on well. I finally ordered some elastic sheet clips a couple of weeks ago, and after looking at all sorts of them, I decided on the cheapest $6 clips from Sopito to try.

I wish I’d have done this sooner! They’re a little hard to get on due to our frame, but once they’re on, the sheets (and the mattress pad) stay put! Woohoo!

I got these from Amazon, but I’m sure they sell them elsewhere if you prefer. If you’ve been on the fence like me though, just do it! I haven’t been so excited about elastic and clips in…well, ever. LOL

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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Books, Branding & Writer Blogs

Check out the cool surprise box of books I bought this week! They’re all old, antique books, which I love, and I can’t wait to see what’s in there. The green book on top, The Hand in the Dark by Arthur J. Rees was included as a teaser for the types of books in this particular box, and I am greatly intrigued.

I’ll be doing a video unboxing later this week (or on the weekend, depending on my schedule). I’ll do that on YouTube, but I’ll include it here as well next week.

General Discussion – Branding

I’ve been thinking a lot about branding lately…business brands, personal brands, defining phrases, and all that jazz people either wholeheartedly embrace (anyone my age not know the tune that spells “b-o-l-o-g-n-a”?), or love to hate.

I’ve had my marketing hat on a lot lately, as I brainstorm ways to build my writing business into something self-sustaining over the next decade or so, and my two pen names have pretty clear brands (in fact, I’m rebranding one soon that will make it even more clear…and a lot of fun, IMO).

My own name as a writer? Not so much. It’s for a few different reasons – the first being, I always felt weird about fully embracing my “writerly side” online when I do have another full-time job that isn’t an insignificant part of my life.

The second is, when I started this blog/site, it wasn’t a “writer’s site”. It was my personal blog, where I could connect with people on different topics that I find interesting. Unfortunately, people tend to prefer “niche” blogs to personal blogs and have for awhile…I’ve just held out with this because…I’m rebellious that way.

And the third is that I don’t have a strong sense of my own “voice” when it comes to writing romantic suspense, romantic adventure…whatever you want to call it that I write under my “main” name (see? I don’t even fit neatly into a specific genre!), because I’m largely still trying to find it. I had this problem with one of my other pen names as well until just this week, when I was writing some bits of copy for rebooting that newsletter. I slipped into a particular voice, went with it, and liked it so much I’m co-opting it for the entire web site/blog redesign I need to do over there.

I gave my own name & writing some good thought this week, and I’m still confused. And I don’t want to be confused, but more importantly, I don’t want readers to be confused. And this site and blog now exist largely to serve my name as a writer, more than anything else.

So, I’m thinking. Trying to figure out what it is about my writing (under this name) that makes it uniquely mine, and what element(s) would be best to associate closely with my name as an author. It might be that I just have to keep writing to figure it out…and I’m okay with that. I figure lots of things out while writing – which is one of the main reasons I love doing it.

And honestly, I kind of think this is a good general personal exercise too, as it’s helping me clarify my goals for each writing name and each style of writing I pursue. It’s not easy, nor is it particularly comfortable, but I am glad I’m thinking about it, and distilling my goals and vision forward in my own mind, if nowhere else.

All this to say…I’m going to be making some changes to this blog and the site as a whole. But I think they’ll be for the better, and I hope they’ll make things more entertaining and more of a “writer’s site”.

Change isn’t always bad. I’m actually kind of looking forward to a new way of doing things.


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Variety News: January 18, 2022

Photo of the Week

There’s a 10-year photo challenge going around social media at the moment, so I figured I’d post mine here. Ironically, while I was dying my hair ten years ago, I was due for more dye, so I still had gray hair on the sides in that photo. I don’t look all that different, though I can’t say I’m fond of how short my pixie was there (I’m sure I’d just gotten it trimmed up again).

General Discussion
Did you see the “wolf moon” yesterday? I thought that was fitting, as yesterday was my birthday. I turned 47, and it was a good day, overall. I had the day off work (I have today off too, just because I felt like taking an extra day), so I spent the day playing with the pups, looking at pics of half-naked men (I need to update some of Trinity’s cover art), and went to dinner with my husband. It was bright and sunny and relaxed, for the most part. I appreciate birthdays like that.

Today, I’m reminding myself that it’s okay to feel a little hungry sometimes without immediately having to eat. And also that very few things take as long as I think they will. You’ll hear (see?) me repeat that often over the course of this year, because I’m trying to drum both of those into my brain, the latter as an anti-procrastination tool. I procrastinate a lot, and often for far longer than it would have taken me to just do whatever it is I don’t want to do. One of my bigger goals this year is to stop doing that. Get the big projects done rather than putting them off indefinitely just because I’m feeling lazy or overwhelmed.

Of course part of that is being organized, too, and my spiffy new organizational tools really aren’t working as well as the old ones did. So, I’m switching back to ToDoist and Cozi for now, and if something else jumps out as maybe working better, I’ll try that. I’m disappointed, but…gotta get things done, and I am definitely missing things with My Life Organized.

On a brighter note, my new late-night schedule is working great for getting writing/editing/reading done. I feel really good about that, and relieved that such a small change as giving myself an extra half-hour can make such a huge impact.

Currently Reading
On my kindle (app): Creative Self-Publishing by Orna A. Ross (non-fiction)
Print fiction: A Gambling Man by David Baldacci (thriller) – this isn’t really catching me…I’m liking the style, but the characters haven’t grabbed me yet. We’ll see.
A River of Words by Carol R. Ward – my book flood book of prompt stories from my buddy Carol. I love these, because they’re short and fun!

Video Highlight
I found this video helpful just in refining my own daily workflow. I use my reMarkable tablet like he uses Notion, because I prefer the handwriting aspect of planning out my daily agenda and projects (I remember things better when I write them out longhand, which means I don’t have to actually check the daily agenda so often), but I do use ToDoist in a similar manner, along with Cozi Calendar for scheduling. I found some interesting and insightful ideas in the comments as well.

Song of the Week
My dalliance with Spotify is over, simply because the app would never recognize my premium membership, and it screwed up my Stitcher app, which is what I prefer for podcasts (especially since the same podcasts have ads in them on Spotify when the app won’t recognize a premium membership *sigh*).

But, my song of the week is one of my favorites: Living Dead Girl by Rob Zombie, and also one that I need to move back onto my cell in a format my alarm app will read, because it’s currently broken and I *need* it for my Tuesday morning alarm sound. Check it out on YouTube, because the video is cool too:

Post Round-up
The Writer’s Desk (last updated: Jan. 18, 2022)


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Change and Patience

Words for the Week: Stress, exhaustion, bloom.

Changing routines is hard. I am trying rather valiantly to switch things up, with moderate success, but it’s slow going considering I have to rewrite neuro-pathways (essentially muscle-memory for the brain) and also actual muscle memory/kinetic energy. But! I was able to get back to the office at 11pm every night this past week, and after comparing the time it takes me to transcribe with the time it takes to just write, and the editing time required after each…I was able to determine that for me, writing the initial draft instead of dictating it, and then transcribing it later is definitely more efficient.

So, no more dictation, though I may use that just for capturing random thoughts to set the scene or details I want to include later. We’ll see.

It also means (given the editing component) that I have a lot of rewriting to do from last year. *sigh* But I can use my dictations as outlines of sorts, so all isn’t lost.

In other news, I’m trying to figure out how to motivate myself to keep up with daily/weekly chores so small issues don’t become big issues. Like the fact that I had to clean out my fridge yesterday and it was completely gross. Or that I routinely let non-dishwasher-safe dishes pile up in one of my sinks, and they sit there for weeks simply because I hate hand-washing dishes so I don’t do them right when they’re “generated”. And there’s the recycling that I don’t take out to the garage, so then I have empty cans and bottles piling up on my kitchen counters making it more difficult to cook.

Laziness is the only reason I don’t take care of these things right away, before that pack of celery becomes goo on a fridge shelf, or before there are so many cans on my counter I don’t have room for a cutting board. I know it needs to be done, I just choose not to take the 5 minutes to do it because I don’t feel like it, or I’m too tired, or just unmotivated.

I’m not sure how to motivate myself to do these things right away instead of waiting until they get to the point of no return (which then requires several hours of time to catch up rather than 5 minutes). I know routine is part of it, so that even when my brain doesn’t feel like it, kinetic energy and muscle memory just pull me into getting it done. I rely on that a lot for daily things, and it works well, once it’s coded into my brain. Re-coding though is…often problematic.

But I need to do something. Keeping up on these things gives me more time overall, and that is what I covet most…more time not doing housekeeping or cleaning chores. I also really hate cleaning veggie goo and moldy leftovers out of my refrigerator.

Am I trying to change up too much, too quickly, between the writing and household stuff? Possibly. I’m impatient with the fact that I can’t make quicker progress, mostly because I’m finally motivated to fix these problems, and it’s stressful going through the change. So I’m anxious to get through the transitional period and to the other side where this stuff just “happens” without so much mental effort.

Alas, “extra mental effort” seems to be the theme of the past 12 months and continues on. So I don’t know why I expect personal growth to be any different.

I did make some monthly goals for writing/publishing, and a plan for reaching those. I may have made them too late to hit this month, but it’s still a solid plan going forward. So there’s that.

I’ve been working on rehabbing my hip too, with good progress. Slow and steady with that…Friday was the first day I could do three sun salutation sets with zero pain. So this week, I start strength training for the muscles in and around my hips, in hopes of keeping any future damage to a minimum. Yet another change where patience is required (or a lot of damage could occur).

And my hair has hit another awkward point of growth…I really am going to have to find a new stylist soon, if only to even up the back and then sort of calm down the flippy-ness of the upper layers. That will be a February project, I guess.

Change and patience. Patience and change. Two things I am quite weary of at this point, but with enough patience and time, things will stabilize and get easier. It sometimes takes awhile, but they always do.

Eye on the prize, and all that. *sigh*


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