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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.


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On Plant Sharing and Habit Switching


Give It or Toss It?
That was the question weighing pretty heavily on my mind this weekend as I repotted and trimmed a couple of plants. Ironically, just two days before, someone was looking for moss on a local plant FB page, and I offered some up without too much hesitation.

But Sunday, as I cut off strands of my N’Joy pothos, divided my spider plant and took several runners with babies off that as well (I was repotting them both), I had a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, no one likes wasting good plant material, or just dumping living things (except duckweed – I don’t know anyone who doesn’t mind dumping that, preferably somewhere it will dry out and die). On the other, I didn’t want to use any of my own resources (soil, paper towels, water, etc) to keep those cuttings/baby plants alive until I could pass them on, much less the space it takes to simply store them until someone picks them up.


And then of course there’s the posting a notice online, connecting with actual people and coordinating times and days and all that jazz…sometimes, it’s nothing.


Sunday, it felt like too much.


So, after probably twenty minutes of going back and forth with myself, I finally just wrapped up all the extra plant material and tossed it in the garbage. After which I realized I should have just tossed it in the compost pile, of course, but it was so much work just deciding not to offer it up that I really don’t regret just getting rid of it.


Sometimes, that’s the right choice. I prefer to be generous and give things away when I can – not just plant material, but anything that’s still potentially useful and has some “life” left in it, but some days, I just can’t. And I think ultimately, that’s okay. While it’s good to share, and good to pass things along so someone else can continue to use or get joy from them, I think I need to be easier on myself about those times when I just can’t bring myself to go to the effort.

As long as it’s not every time. Because I do think passing things along and sharing what I don’t need anymore is an important part of participating in “community” as a whole.


Writing News
Last week, I sat down and really thought about why I was having trouble writing at night. I knew the problem with dictation is that I keep dropping the writing, so then it’s harder to pick up the thread if I try to dictate. But what was my problem with writing?


Paying attention to my current habits, I realized that my brain is trained for work – the day job. I work in IT, so when I sit down at a computer (any computer) the very first thing I do is check email. And I don’t write fiction at work, so I’m “trained” not to write on the computer. Which means I have a pretty steep battle when it comes to getting my mind to realize that my laptop at home is not my computer at work, but being a creature of habit and routine, my brain just doesn’t want to accept that, and will do anything it can to distract me from writing fiction at the computer. I can format books, do budgeting, do image manipulation, social media, even plotting – my brain is good with all that at a bright, color computer screen. Writing fiction? Not so much.


I have the tools to combat that, though, now that I know what’s going on. So the first thing I did was cleaned off my writing desk – which is a small rolltop (seen to your left below) that doesn’t even have space for my laptop or a normal monitor. It can’t be confused for a computer desk at all.


Then I charged up my Freewrite Traveler (on the rolltop above) which looks like a tiny laptop, but is really just a nice keyboard with a tiny e-ink screen. No backlighting, no application capabilities, no browsing, no email…it’s purely a word processor. That set the stage for *writing*…not work, not work or admin type projects.


The only thing left after that was to change my routine, which I did the next night. Instead of going into my office and immediately sitting at the computer, I went straight to the writing desk (which is right beside the computer desk, so it’s just a turn to the left, as you see above). With my reMarkable (e-ink tablet) at the side, I opened my Freewrite, opened a new document, and started typing. Fiction.


It was pretty weird and amazing how my brain got clued into the different environment so quickly. I didn’t have the urge to pick up my phone and check email, or anything like that. It was like my mind recognized the space and the reason we were there, and reacted accordingly. Which is pretty amazing, when you think about it.


After I finished that writing session, I closed the Freewrite, opened a new “scene journal” document on the reMarkable, and wrote a short paragraph summary of what I’d just written, so I could easily pick up the thread the next day (whether dictating or typing). I always wonder if it’s just going to be a “this worked one time, but never again” sort of thing, but it worked the next night and the next night too. And that’s how I ended up with a good half of my Christmas card short story done last week.


This week, I’m working dictation back into the mix. With any luck, by November I’ll be back in the daily writing habit, and will just need to speed up the word count!


Recommendation(s)
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of devices that do one thing well. The Freewrite Traveler is one of those devices, and I’d feel confident recommending the entire Freewrite line. If you’re a writer who’s used or still uses an AlphaSmart to write (I have a couple around here somewhere), the Freewrite crew is coming out with an updated version simply called “Alpha” here soon that I think is going to be cheaper than both the original Freewrite and the Traveler (which is what I have).


Anyways, check ’em out for distraction-free writing. The links are non-affiliate, as always.

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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Discipline, Habits and Sleep

I used to be in the habit of being disciplined, so to speak. I had my routines and followed them strictly, and got a lot done. Now it seems like I mostly just whine about how disciplined I used to be, while not actually taking the steps needed to…you know. Be disciplined again. Discipline is just prioritizing one thing over another throughout the day – it’s not rocket science.

So, no more whining about it. It’s time to just “do or do not” – but I’m determined to “do” this week. If I can be disciplined enough for long enough, then habits will form that don’t require as much discipline to maintain, and that is where I want to be.

Most of the habits I need to create are writing/publishing-related…but those have some dependencies on other habits like going to bed on time (willpower is often rest-dependent, I’ve found) and making sure the rest of my day stays on schedule so that my writing & editing times are “protected”. I can’t always do that (because, life), but I certainly can a majority of the time. It’s just little decisions here and there, like opening a game to play for “just a few minutes” at the wrong time, not having my laptop in the living room in the evening, or not starting my day with the right combination of things so that my head is in the right space for both work and taking advantage of commute times for dictation.

It’s really not nearly as difficult as I often make it. It’s more a matter of priorities and deciding what’s more important: a few minutes of escapism, or a few minutes of story. There’s time for both, of course, I just need to manage my time and routines more efficiently.

In light of that, I’ve made myself a new schedule, and set some boundaries, as well as some new goals and reminders. I feel good about this, mostly because I’ve set myself up to think about what I really want, both now and in the future. With my priorities straightened out, I think it will be easier to remember why I’m respecting those self-set boundaries, and why I’m reaching for those goals.

Interestingly enough, I think the majority of my success rests on the habit of going to bed on time. Getting enough sleep is vital to making good decisions and moving forward with my main priorities rather than just zoning out and telling myself, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” or “I’ll catch up later”. Being overly tired seems to be my kryptonite more than anything else, so that routine of going to bed on time and getting enough sleep is probably the most important one I need to establish.

Ironically, the reason I normally break it is because I get enough sleep, and then I feel good enough to press past the late-night fatigue to work longer the next day, and then I don’t get enough sleep, and I’m in that bad cycle of wanting/needing to catch up because I’m not working as fast or efficiently as I could be because I didn’t get enough sleep. It’s a ridiculous cycle to be caught in, all because I don’t respect the fact that my body needs 6 hours of sleep a night, even if I’m behind, or feel like I want to keep working to get ahead.

Of course the one day per week that throws me off the most is Tuesday, because I have to get up an hour earlier for work, which means I get less sleep than I need if I go to bed at my normal time, and I end up being overtired and making poor decisions. This is really the biggest issue I have for not getting enough rest, and I know what I need to do to “fix” it, I just…don’t want to. I need to go to bed earlier *every night* and get up earlier *every day*, so that my weekday sleep schedule is the same every day.

Of course that shifts my entire evening routine earlier, which makes it more difficult because I’m trying to get more done while the household is awake, rather than waiting until everyone is asleep to work. This hasn’t generally worked well for me in the past, but maybe it’s time to try again. Shifting everything up by half an hour in the evenings and getting up half an hour earlier Mon/Weds/Thurs/Fri, and half an hour later on Tuesdays would give me the “regular” schedule I need…as long as I can shorten my Tues morning routine to fit.

Life would be so much easier on us night owls if there weren’t so many morning people running things.

In any case, that’s the plan for this week. Shift some things around, respect boundaries and sleep requirements, and hopefully get more done since I’ll theoretically be awake/alert enough to follow my own schedule.

I think it’s gonna be a good week. Or enlightening, at the very least.


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