Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Tag: writing life (Page 1 of 2)

The craft room is finished! And the RESTLESS SPIRITS sequel is begun! Sort of.

Well, my friends, the cat room is a craft room once again.

I spent yesterday first sorting through my yarn and then emptying out the walk-in closet. The good news re: the yarn is that I had it stored in four different bags, only one of which got peed on, so the majority of my stash was just fine. The tee-shirt stash fared worse, but it still wasn’t as bad as I expected. Everything pee-scented went into the washer to soak overnight in vinegar and laundry soap (the yarn first went into pillow cases), and then this morning I ran that cycle, then ran it again with baking soda. After that, the shirts went in the dryer and the yarn went out on the back lawn to dry in the sun. The yarn is still drying outside, but the shirts passed the sniff-test, and are now folded and put away where those jerks sweet kitties can’t get to them.

As for the kitties, they’re much happier, and reluctant to leave the room, which is kind of nice. I fixed up the closet for them with their litter boxes and crates and plenty of places to hide and sleep and climb. Nibblet’s loving it, but so far Boudica prefers the top of what’s now the yarn and tee-shirt cabinet, a.k.a. my only work surface. I laid a fleece blanket up there for her to collect cat hair and protect the surface from her claws, and I can just move the blanket (and her) when I’m ready to get my craft on, so no big.

The only thing that’s missing in there is a good work surface. There’s a small table, but that’s wobbly, and the previously mentioned cabinet, but that’s not a large surface and it’s tall enough that I’ll have to stand. It’ll do for now, but some day I’d like to get a dedicated sewing table. A comfy chair for sitting and knitting would also be great. We’ve got an old rocking chair in there, but it’s not that comfortable, and I’d like to consign it to the back porch eventually.

I’m terrible about remembering to take pictures. If you want to see some, I’ll post some to my Instagram later.

I was hoping to be able to include a word count on the new novel in this post, but I’ve been kind of distracted all morning and couldn’t get my head in the right place for it. I guess I need to spend some time cleaning something else to give my brain a chance to develop the scene. Good thing I’m ready to straighten up the living room and bring out the fall decorations. Yes, I know it’s not technically fall yet, but the weather’s supposed to cool off later this week, and that’s good enough for me.

One thing I did do, though, writing-wise, is jotted down some notes on a proper sequel to Restless Spirits.¬† People have been bugging me (in the good way) about a sequel for years now, but I just haven’t been able to come up with the right story to justify one. But yesterday I streamed a few episodes of My Ghost Story while sorting through and detangling my yarn stash, and apparently these true haunting and paranormal investigator shows are my muse when it comes to this series (I guess it’s a series now), because something finally clicked. Now it’s going to be hard to make my brain focus on the Satanic Panic story instead of this. I wonder how insane I’d have to be to attempt writing two novels at once. We might be about to find out.

On the Versatility of Spaghetti Squash. And Some Minor Publishing Plans.

Today is groceries & Bible class day, so no time for writing. The grocery shopping’s done, and I stocked up on vegetables in an attempt to get myself back on the low GI wagon. I bought a big spaghetti squash to stand in for all the noodles I’ve been eating lately, and I actually picked out some recipes from my Low GI board in Pinterest and lined up a menu for the week.

I’m mostly looking forward to making (and eating) this Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai (or at least, my own version of it). For the leftover squash I picked up some pesto mix and I’ll just toss it with that and some chicken and Parmesan and pretend it’s pasta. This avacodo, cucumber and tomato salad is on the lunch menu. Hopefully this week will remind me that vegetables can actually be delicious and cleanse all that starch and sugar out of my system so I’ll stop craving it so much. Of course, not looking at Pinterest so often would also help with that.

Later: lunch, then client projects, then Bible class and giving Sasha the rest of her meds. Then we’ll get in bed and watch Justified. We started the first season last night. So far it looks like a keeper.

Weekend plans: I need to give my current book listings some attention and make sure all my author profiles everywhere are up to date, and I need to add some content to the pages of this here blog. I might do a new cover for Restless Spirits, since my graphic design skills have improved so much since the last cover, and also because I’ve been told by male readers that they loved it but were reluctant to read it because the cover is too “romancey.” I’m also thinking about experimenting with changing my pen name from my full name to just J. M. Bauhaus to see if that helps to lure in more male readers (and isn’t it a shame that that’s even something I have to consider in this day and age? Sigh. Boys.), but that might cause me to lose my reviews on Amazon, so we’ll see.

Loosely Held Together

I’m astounded whenever I get a comment — which happens more often than you’d think — from someone saying how impressed they are that I’ve got everything so together, or that I’ve got things figured out. I am, frankly, astonished that I ever even manage to give anyone this impression, considering how so much of my blogging and tweeting and Facebooking is just me flailing about and waving my hands,¬†chronicling one failed experiment after another, aiming for goals that I always somehow manage to miss.

I suppose if there is anything to admire, it’s the way I keep going, keep trying, keep making goals, instead of admitting defeat and giving up and going to lie down and/or have a stiff drink. But I’m not sure whether that’s admirable or just the definition of insanity. And the truth is that I don’t know anything. I’m 28 days away from turning 40 and I know NOTHING. I just make it all up as I go, being an adult, being a wife, being a writer, being a freelancer, hell, just BEING and it’s just one long series of throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, cleaning up the ensuing mess and moving on to the next boiling pot of life spaghetti and wondering if I’ll ever get good at cooking any of this stuff.

It’s really quite exhausting.

And then there are days like today, when the hormones explode and the self-doubt creeps in and the mean voices whisper that it’s no good, that I’ll never amount to anything, never achieve my dreams, and maybe I really should just quit and go lie down and have a nap and a drink and then look for a less complicated way to make a steady living and spend all my free time just watching TV, because hey, I love TV, and that just sounds so much more relaxing, and why am I doing this to myself, exactly?

But I seem to be pathologically incapable of giving up for good. Again, not sure whether that’s admirable or insane. Or just stupid.

And since this is supposed to be my author blog and I write to a secular audience and try to make everyone feel welcome, I try to avoid getting religious or political (as I wish most other writers and entertainers would do, but that’s a topic for another post), it does bear pointing out that the reason I don’t give up, the reason I have the strength to keep going, the only reason I ever manage to give any kind of impression of having it all together, is because of my faith in and my relationship with God, my belief in His promises in scripture and that He is a trustworthy God who keeps His promises. And one of those promises is that I CAN do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength, which I cling to and remind myself of daily, because without that strength I really would be completely useless.

So there you have it. If I’m together, I’m held that way by faith and determination and duct tape and spit. Don’t have any illusions to the contrary.

This disemboguing of forthrightness and brutal honesty is brought to you today by the letters P, M and S.

Early Birds

I have a confession: I haven't written anything on Dominion in over a week. There's really no excuse, other than that my mojo has been seriously off since my dog had a seizure last Sunday night and we rushed him to the animal ER. Pete's fine (though possibly epileptic), but that event set off a chain-reaction wherein we had to get up early (oh SO early) on Monday morning to pick him up from the hospital and take him to his regular vet, which took up half the day, and recovering from sleep deprivation took up the rest of it, and meanwhile my husband decided that this was a perfect opportunity to turn our night-owl habits around and start getting up earlier EVERY day.

Y'all. We had night-owl habits because WE ARE NIGHT OWLS. This comes naturally to us, and I don't see any reason to fight nature, especially since neither of us has the kind of job that forces us to do so. But Matt's determined, and he keeps waking up earlier, and when he wakes up, Pete wakes up, and then Pete has to be sure to wake ME up. And as much as I have fantasized about what it would be like to be a morning person and get up early and knock all of my work out and have the rest of the day to relax and do fun stuff, the fact is that I am just not wired that way. It certainly doesn't help that now I'm forced to take a Benadryl every night to help me doze off in time to get a decent night's sleep.

So I'm still trying to adjust to our new schedule, and figure out how my writing fits into it. You'd think that I could simply do my usual routine in the same order, except earlier, and that this would not be a big deal. But for some reason it hasn't been working out that way. But maybe that's just because I spent the bulk of last week feeling foggy and unfocused and pretty much useless. Now it's a new week, and I'm starting to feel normal again, so hopefully I'll get my new writing routine figured out. I guess I need to do the 250 Words A Day Challenge again to get myself going.

In other news, if you're following my blog tour, in the last two weeks I've been interviewed at QuirkyGurl Media, and I answered a drabble prompt for Helmy Kusuma's blog.

And now I’m going to make myself write 250 words and then go do yard work. IN 75 DEGREE WEATHER, Y’ALL! ??? Fall ???

I’m in a good place again, which is nice, because I haven’t been for quite a little while now. Even before I got sick I was tired and moody and blue and generally no fun to be around. A number of things contributed to snapping me out of it, not the least of which were getting back into a gym routine and going to bed earlier (because if I take care of my physical health, my mental health will follow; I know this. So why do I always need to be reminded?). But what really helped was Saturday. And what happened Saturday? Not a blessed thing.

We had planned to go to my mom’s to do some cleaning and retrieve some stuff we left there, but both of us started the day out feeling completely wiped. Must have been something in the air, because even Speedy Pete was more Sleepy Pete that day; although I’m sure all of the errand-running I’d done the day before, coupled with dinner and a night at the opera with Tess (La Boheme, which shall henceforth be known in my house as “Boring Italian Rent,” because that’s pretty much what it is, and I gotta say, I prefer the Catchy English Rent; I am so not high-brow), had something to do with it.

So I declared it an official Lazy Day, and we both proceeded to ignore the messy kitchen and living room and all of the boxes that still need to be unpacked and instead sped the day alternating between napping and vegging. The most productive thing I did all day was read a magazine. And man, I cannot tell you now much I needed a day like that. Even when I was sick, I puttered around between naps trying to get things done around the house. It had been so long since I’d had a DO NOTHING day that I wasn’t sure I remembered how to do them.

Sunday was a different story altogether. I had energy, I had motivation, I had a new magnetic To Do List pad on the fridge that I was rarin’ to put to use, and let me tell you, things in my house got DONE. The kitchen and living room got cleaned, the recycling got sorted, the bathroom shelves got assembled and installed, the bathroom got cleaned and organized, a puppy sweater got halfway knitted, and I was a domestic DIVA. I finished a new scene for the novel, too. I RULE.

Or at least, I ruled yesterday. Today, not so much with the ruling. But for now I’m content to rest on my laurels.

So in an effort to both restore sanity around here and maintain it through NaNo and the holiday season, hopefully avoiding becoming burned out and spending Christmas in a rum-scented, nutmeg-garnished funk, I’m abandoning the ridiculous notion of having Hero Factor both finished and ready to start posting this year. This doesn’t make me a flake. There are SO MANY OTHER things that make me a flake. This only adds more weight to the accusation. But I am a flake who knows her limits. Sometimes I forget them, and bite off more than I can chew, and then remember said limits when I choke and almost die. But anyway.

So, for now I’m writing, a little bit each night before bedtime, a little in the mornings before work (on the days I don’t hit the gym), a little on weekends. And I’m editing the earlier chapters when I get time. I still want to finish the manuscript before NaNo. Maybe that’ll happen. Maybe it won’t. Either way, I’m not going to make myself crazy trying to get it done.

But I WILL get it done. That’s the important thing.

UPDATE: Y’know, it only just now occurred to me that NaNo is optional, and that the truly sane thing would be to skip it this year. I could still play along, unofficially, by trying to finish THF by the end of November. But I have this novel to finish, and I still have last year’s NaNo project to rewrite, so…why am I wanting to dive in and hammer out a third novel right now, exactly?

I need to examine this question. And somebody needs to examine my head.

Jean is Emo

Today is trying its very best to make me go emo. It already made me cry once, the big bully–that would be this morning, when I received a rejection e-mail for “Mamie’s Pie Shop.” I like to think that if I was getting proper sleep and not hormonal and suffering cramps I’d have taken it better. I’m probably wrong, because the truth is that I’m a big ol’ thin-skinned wuss-bag. But I still like to think it.

Also, I don’t like my hair. That’s not making me emo, specifically–I really am not THAT shallow, I promise–but I’ve been gathering pics of possible future ‘dos to take with me to a stylist. Somewhere out there, floating aimlessly around the internets, is a picture of me from way back during the Chicago Buffycon in ’03 in which I had pretty good hair; but when I went searching for it all I found were old ghosts that want me to put on thick kohl eyeliner and cut myself and write bad, self-involved poetry using my own blood as the ink and then make a video of myself reading it that I can post on YouTube for the world to share my pain and try to understand the fathomless depths of my blackened soul. Or possibly just to make me cry again. Sniffle.

I need some Pamprin and a hug. And lots and lots of sleep. I ate a spoonful of peanut butter a while ago, and that made me feel a little better, until it made me want to beat myself up for using food for comfort, but I didn’t, because I mean, come on. It’s just one spoonful. It’s not like I shoved three consecutive Reese’s Pumpkins in my mouth (that was last night, and dad-gum, those things are yummy).

I’m going to spend an hour cleaning off my desk and making things orderly (to regain my sense of control, obvs), and then I’m going to edit a new scene that I wrote the other day for THF and post it for the Beautiful Beta Babes. And them I’m going to try to finish a short story I started for this before I research other markets for “Mamie’s.” And by the end of this week, I’m going to nail down a posting schedule for , and start gearing up for the launch. All because if I stay busy, I won’t have time to convince myself that one person deciding my story’s not right for their web site must mean that I’m not good enough and will only ever be a mediocre hack. Because that’s what you do when rejection happens: you pick yourself up and get back on the bike and pedal as fast and hard as you can.

Moving experiences

Y’know, I really had no clue just how worn out this whole moving thing would make me. I took a sick day yesterday to allow myself some recovery time, but then spent most of the day doing housework and putting things away, so that didn’t work out so well. But at least we now have a computer (a desktop; I couldn’t convince Husband that we should go ahead and get separate laptops and a wireless home network. I figured, as long as we’re already being spendy and burying ourselves deeper in debt, but then he figured, if we can get spendy on laptops then he ought to be able to get spendy on a thousand dollar guitar he’s been coveting, and I was all, “But I need the laptop for my writing!” and then he was all, “Well, I need a better guitar for my music! And a better amp, while we’re at it” and then it was down to an argument over who’s hobby was more likely to become a career someday, and so: Desktop.), and it is sleek and shiny and powerful and looks very small on the big honkin’ computer desk. Monday, Cox is coming to install the internet, and then all of my writing plans will be good to go. Except, I can’t get YWriter to work on it. It’s supposed to be Vista-compatible, so I don’t know what that’s all about.

Anyway, we’re moved. All of our appliances have been delivered and installed and we love having an actual kitchen and living in town and being so close to everything, and we’re very, very tired, but life is good. And Tuesday was our second anniversary, too. The house–and all of the spendy things we’re filling it with–is our anniversary present to each other, and possibly will be for the next five years.

Speaking of anniversaries, there’s this one, today. Everybody has their stories to tell about this day, everybody has their memories of how they were affected when it all went down. For me, there’s the memory of horror and disbelief, and sadness for all that was lost that day; but on a more personal, more selfish level, I’m remembering the long-distance friendships that were so close that day, so strong as we all went through it together, online, waiting for our friends in NYC to join us in chat or just check in and let us know they were okay. Those friendships never seemed more real–those friends never more appreciated–than on that day. That those friendships–or at least, my part in them–are no more is what’s gnawing at my gut today. But the friendships that have since grown in their place are no less meaningful, and I’m no less grateful to have them. Today is a day to remember what we lost; but it’s also a day to be grateful for what we still have, and for what we’ve gained since that terrible, awful day.

THF Progress Report and How to Write a Novel in 30 Days

Almost finished rewriting Chapter 2. I should be able to post it for the beta readers tomorrow.

How to Write a Novel In 30 Days, according to Catherynne M. Valente, has inspired me to get off my duff and pick up speed on this novel. Her advice differs from that of NaNoWriMo in that she advocates using your time to create the opposite of crap. Of course, this isn’t so much advice as it is pointing out what people should expect to have to deal with if they attempt such a feat, but her description of her paper writing habits in college sang to me, because they were my habits, too, and it made me remember that I can produce quality writing in a short amount of time. I used to do it all the time. I just need to get back in touch with that part of me that was a little more reckless and willing to take those risks. Hopefully I haven’t left her behind with age.

Why I’m So Lame

Marjorie Liu has a post on “Writer’s Inhibition” that, I think, is right on the money. This is exactly what I suffer from, and what usually keeps me from writing when I have the time to do it. It’s not block, exactly. I know what needs to happen next, usually. I just can’t get my head into a space where I can see how it happens, and I freeze up. And the longer I sit there, frozen, the louder my voices of insecurity become.

My voices of insecurity are screechy and annoying, and they really need to shut up.

The really stupid thing is, that nine times out of ten, if I just ignore it all and start writing, even if I just type a sentence over an over (all work and no play makes Jean a psychopat–um, I mean, the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog), just getting my fingers moving engages the part of my brain where the story is trapped, and I thaw, and warm up, and pretty soon I’m on fire. And writing a lot of cliches that I’ll have to go back and edit later. But at least I’m writing.

Knowing this, I don’t know why it’s such a constant battle. I don’t understand why I let myself freeze up so often, when I know where the defrost button is. I just don’t GET me, man! I guess it all comes back to insecurity–fear that if I start typing, the story WON’T come, or that if it does, it will be crap, and I won’t be able to make it better on the next draft. Stupid fear. Stupid me.

Writer’s Inhibition. That’s an excellent name for it. And I’m the second most inhibited person I know.

By the way, if you haven’t checked out Ms. Liu’s novel The Iron Hunt, you need to do so right now.

It’s a working vacation, apparently.

I’m on vacation the rest of this week, so there won’t be any updates here, unless something writing-related happens that is so amazing or tragic that I must wade through dial-up molasses to post it, which is pretty doubtful.

Originally, we were supposed to go camping this week, and then get back in time for us to go house hunting and for me to go see Phantom with Tess. The house hunt and Phantom are both still on, but with this weather, the camping’s probably off. I don’t want to say definitely, because I’m not sure how dead set my husband is on making the trip anyway, but I don’t think he’s any keener about sleeping on wet ground in a lightning and hail storm than I am, so probability of cancellation is running pretty high.

If we don’t go camping, as tempted as I am to convince Husband to let us go check into a local B&B for a few days, we’ll most likely decide to save our money and stay home, in which case I ought to be able to hole up for long stretches of time and write. It’s even possible that I could finish the first draft, or at least come very close to it. I hope so. That would be oh, so good for my weary soul. Not quite as good as a couple of days spent lounging ’round the swimmin’ hole whilst the menfolk catch fish and grill it up and then we can eat it with buttery grilled corn on the cob and potato salad and baked beans and then roast marshmallows in the camp fire. But close.

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