Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Reading Tonight & Relaunching Life

Hi guys! I have a live reading tonight via YouTube. Stephen Graham Jones and Jeamus Wilkes will also be reading, and The Dollhouse Thieves will be performing. The theme is Ghostly Campfire Edition. You can CLICK HERE to go to the YouTube channel. It starts at 7 PM MT tonight. By the way, there's a Facebook page you can join if you want to know about upcoming readings. I think they're every month. There's a Hot for Teacher theme coming up soon. These are run by Amy Armstrong.

My husband and I celebrated our 24 year anniversary last week. We went out for a late night dinner on the patio of a local restaurant. Maybe next year we can take a little trip for our 25th. It's the first time I've worn makeup and dressy clothes in MONTHS! 

About a month ago, I put notice in at my day job. Friday was my last day, so I've officially embarked on a dedicated writing schedule. It's time I focus more on my writing and see what I can do right now while I get my health under control.

I've taken inspiration from Becky Clark, who wrote Eight Weeks to a Complete Novel: Write Faster, Write Better, Be More Organized. While I haven't read the book yet, I did take a half-day workshop she taught based on her book. The thing about Becky is that she's highly organized and she gets her words in. She mentioned the other day that she writes Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesdays she cleans her house and tends to chores, errands, and appointments. While she and I have very different writing methods, this particular idea will be incredibly helpful for a variety of reasons:

*With my ADHD, I tend to get overwhelmed if there's a lot to do, and I basically meltdown and get nothing whatsoever done, because it takes work to pare it down to what I should do right now. I've found lists and schedules to be helpful with this. Having a regular ongoing schedule and routine should help even more.*As a mom, I tend to feel guilty if I'm not tending to household things and spending some good time with my kids. This method of scheduling will ensure I don't give up writing until I've cleaned the house, that I get both of those things done, and that I have evenings and weekends to spend with the kids without having to feel guilty because I'm not writing.

The tweaks I'm doing to work on my health and ensure I don't overdo things, but that I get physical movement in (by the way, she does have a scheduling method in the book that includes getting exercise in) are:

1. Doing sun salutations before breakfast. To break back into yoga, which I think will ultimately help with the fibromyalgia and my other physical issues, I'm starting with the easy stuff to get in the habit and improve my flexibility. I used to be incredibly flexible before a chiropractor screwed up my neck and the rest of my spine.

2. Starting my day with breakfast and no restrictions on how I relax while having breakfast. A problem at the day job was that my sleep schedule is incredibly messed up, and I was constantly waking up with just enough time to get to work, which meant no breakfast, and usually no food until a late dinner. Since my job picked up during the pandemic and I was filling in as a server (my regular job was as a bookkeeper), I wasn't feeding my family until 9 at night, since I got off at about 8:30. This isn't helpful for someone with a permanent migraine (not eating protein steadily or hydrating well enough can lead to a major increase in the migraine). When I did have breakfast, I'd shove it down so fast and rush off. It's not healthy (and yes, I get a lot of people do this, and it's not healthy for any of them). So now I have no time limit, and I can peruse Facebook, read, play a game on my phone, or watch TV. 

3. Reading a craft book and spending some time outside. I'm currently reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. I've never read it before. Monday, my first day on the new schedule, I made myself chai with this new mix I found, and read the introduction to the book. I haven't just been outside in the sun this entire spring and summer. I thrive in the outdoors. I don't metabolize Vitamin D well. It's time for some sun! 

4. Setting a daily word count and writing until I meet it. Once I've read a chapter and had my time in the sun, it's writing time. Right now, I start on the back porch with my writing. My daily count is 2000 words. I have to reach that count before I stop for the day, but if I want to continue past those 2000 words, I can.

5. I haven't started this one yet, because I'm trying to establish the routine right now, but I intend to set a timer for every hour so I can get up and do about five minutes of exercise. When it's nice out, that will be a quick walk around the block. If it's not nice outside, it might be climbing the stairs, walking around the house, or finding a quick office workout video online.

6. Attending to writing business items once the word count is done. This includes my newsletter, blog, various updates on social media, record keeping, and anything else having to do with business. 

I'll work out the rest as I go. I'll also be adding a walk in the evenings come next week. And Sundays will soon be recording days for podcasts. We're hoping to launch in October, and we've got our first topic researched and ready to go. I do still have a volunteer job that takes time and creative energy, but that ends at the end of September. I could have waited until then, but I'd rather have all of this started before then. Saturdays are free time. I may actually get back to my photography and scrapbooking, and I want to take a weekly hike with my kids, weather permitting. Right now, we've been running in the 90s, so it's too hot for hikes, but we'll hit the sweet spot soon, and this being Colorado and high desert, there will be sporadic nice days throughout winter, too. I've downloaded an app that pulls up nearby trails and rates them by how hard they are, so hopefully I can discover some new trails I haven't already used. I already have a go-to for when time is limited, and I know how to make it the time I need it to be.

The thing about fibromyalgia is that you need to build yourself up to physical activity and get into better shape in order to get some relief, but you have to do it just right so you don't cause a flareup, which then sets you back however long that flareup lasts. This has been a nasty cycle for me for the last year and a half. The longer I'm forced to sit out, the worse shape I get into. Last winter I was walking everywhere, exercising regularly, and twenty pounds lighter. I've since had two flareups, the first massive, the second one not as bad, but that's the one I'm trying to pull myself out of. I'm incredibly excited to finally have the opportunity to focus on that instead of it being a peripheral hope.

So that's my big update right now. I figured I share it in case there are parts of it anyone else can use.

Recent Media


The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

This was a lusciously written book full of magic and romance, but also intrigue and grief. The author says she writes fairy tales, and I'd say that what's left behind in my mind. I'd been considering reading this for a while, but when a speaker quoted bits of it in a workshop, I decided I needed to read it sooner rather than later. Absolutely gorgeous book.

Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo

Someone at work loaned this to me. It's a lovely, relaxing, peaceful book, even if it doesn't all work for you. I can say there are things I'm not interested in trying, but there are other things I'm definitely going to try to use or to tweak so that they're usable for me. But honestly, she's just a such a sweet person, and it's a great back porch or beach read. She's all about bringing positive energy about.

Vegan Baking for Beginners: 75 Recipes for Sweet & Savory Treats, by J.L. Fields

My daughter is the only one who used this, so far, but she made the spiced sugar cookies then decorated them as characters from her favorite show Daganronpa. These cookies were so good! J.L. is a local vegan author, who does food shows and knows her stuff. She has several sets of recipe books for vegans. Though I'm not vegan, I am egg and dairy free, and I find it relaxing to be able to cook or bake something I know is safe. I also try to make vegetarian/vegan meals regularly.

TV Shows

In the Dark

This show is about a blind woman who finds her friend's body in an alley. By the time the police arrive, there's no body. They don't believe her. She sets out to not only prove her friend is dead, but to find his killer. She and her friends become embroiled in a situation they could never have imagined. This is my current binge watch. I'm often not a fan of self-damaging characters, but the emphasis on that was lessened as the show moved forward. But I will warn you that she is a very damaged character at the beginning, and self-destructive.

New Girl

I need something a bit fluffier to watch, too. This wasn't something I watched when it was originally out, but I decided to give it a second try. The things that irritated me the first time I tried it didn't bother me this time, though I get frustrated with characters who do stupid stuff all the time. Luckily, the stupid things they play for laughs aren't overdone (most of the time), and this show makes me laugh out loud, which is something I think we all need right now. It's about a set of immature roommates who bring in a new roommate: Jess. The manic pixie dreamgirl thing was being overdone with her at the time this show came out, which annoyed me at the time. Now I find her endearing.


Small Town Dicks

If you're familiar with The Simpsons, you'll know who Yeardley Smith is (or Herman's Head, for those few of you who also watched that along with me). She's teamed up with two detectives to discuss true crime in small towns. They bring on the detectives involved in each case, as well. There's something kind of fun about hearing Lisa Simpson talking about true crime.


Meh. Nothing exciting to put here.

Music Videos

That's all for today, folks! What are you watching? Reading? Listening to? What have you been doing to cope with things? What's your reading schedule?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

IWSG - Stumbling Into Short Stories

Hey, hey, hey, this week it's ACTUALLY time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG allows writers to express their insecurities and support each other. Anyone is welcome to join. Simply click on Alex's name and put your blog on the linky list. Then post the first Wednesday of each month and hop around to visit others.

Our exalted co-hosts this month are 

Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey!

The optional question this month asks: Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

Well, when I started out trying to be a professional writer, I first tried writing a couple novels. One I only researched (I'm probably on a watchlist because of it). It was back when the Hantavirus hit the news. It started on a reservation, and I had an idea for a mystery story in the Tony Hillerman-type style that involved the government releasing a test virus on the reservation. Considering the government's past, it wouldn't have been the first time they tested something on a minority population. I spent months researching government testing and biological warfare. Astoundingly, I found out how to make anthrax from one of the library books. I have no idea idea which book now, and I don't remember anything other than that it was shockingly easy to get what was needed.

Tony Hillerman ended up putting out a book that seemed to have a similar premise. I was upset, figured I'd never get a book published if he'd beat me to the punch (I was about 20), and I got a new job where I was working 9am to 2am all but one day per week, in which another manager opened and I closed. Zero days off, discouraged, overworked, exhausted, I gave up on the story. 

I started another book, but it felt more like a thriller short story to me, so I eventually hopped back into short stories, because I just didn't have time to do anything else. Two rejections (one from Aasimov's and one from Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, both via mail, both of which I still have!), and I set that all aside until years later as a new mom. I made money as a stay at home mom in writing a monetized blog on being the mom of a child conceived via IVF (2005) and eventually writing articles for an online periodical (2006) (and being a guide on ChaCha and kgb--I suck at not working). But I started slowly, but surely writing short stories and learning how to submit them, all while I also worked on another novel.

I thought being a novelist was the only way to break in, but then my short stories started selling. Then I started being invited to speak and to teach. Writing organizations and the library started treating me like a real author before I felt like one.

Short version: I created my career by accidentally happening into a different form than the one I thought was required to make it in the writing world!

On the flip side, I've had short stories end up clearly needing to be novels, and I'm working on two of those now. We'll see what happens there.

That turned out longer than I intended, so I'll save the rest of my post for next week (if I remember what I was going to say.)

If you missed my post last week, I had a new story come out that is FREE to read, plus I was interviewed, and one of my stories was read on a podcast, also free to listen to! Here's that post if you want the links: Horroraddicts, Dust Bunnies, & Novel Noctule.

Submission stat time! Each month I report the previous month's submission stats to keep myself accountable.


9 submissions

1 acceptance (YAY!!)

1 rejection

12 stories currently on submission

6 stories pending resubmission

Pikes Peak Writers continues with free online programming this month, so if you haven't been able to drop in, you're still welcome! We're likely looking at doing this for at least the rest of 2020. Write Brains are a two hour workshop, Writer's Night is for writing discussions (you can throw out a topic/question for all to discuss or just hang out and take part in the discussion), and Write Drunk, Edit Sober is a series of mini lessons with prompt writing between each lesson. There's also a free conference being put on this fall by three writing groups working together: Pikes Peak Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Northern Colorado Writers. Anyone can take part, all for completely free. Go the Pikes Peak Writers website for more information.

What's your answer to the IWSG question? What are your insecurities? How are you doing right now? Have you submitted anything? 

May you find your Muse!