Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ancestry DNA

Two of my daughters got me this for my birthday.  I've always wanted to do this but wouldn't spend the money on myself.

Positives - it is fascinating to read about the breakdown of my DNA into origins.  It confirmed some things.

Negatives - they give you a list of possible relatives but in order to see the trees you have to pay for a membership on ancestry.  There is a two week free trial but you still have to give them your credit card information.

I haven't read everything yet.  The document is 59 pages long but what I did read was interesting.  There were a couple of regions which surprised me as I've not traced my family back to them but we all know that people didn't just stick to their own regions - there was a lot of migration throughout history.

Next I have to decide if I have the time to spend doing research on Ancestry for the next six months so I get the most out of a membership.  If I make time for it, I would love to do the research but it means giving up on something else.

Don't misunderstand me, I love doing the research and looking for people to connect with my tree but the problem is I have so little actual free time, I'm afraid if I purchase it, I won't use it enough to make it worthwhile for purchasing.  Plus it is pricey.  I'll have to think about it and see what I think the next six months will bring.

Four Hours

When was the last time you had a four hour conversation where you walked away feeling better than when you started?  Mine ended about thirty seconds ago.

It was a long day at work, longer than normal and at the end of the day I was annoyed - tired mostly but just needed away from people.  I came home, talked to my husband, had supper and grumbled.

I talked to my sister while I distributed an email to family.  I needed a few emails.

My phone rang and it was my friend Laura.  Yep I'm naming names.  Laura and I came together years ago as we explored alternative beliefs.  I haven't spoken to her in at least eighteen months, probably longer than that.

She's been busy with school.  I've been busy with writing.  We see each other's posts in our blogs, on facebook.  We'd message each other, or leave comments but we haven't sat down to really dig into a conversation.

She called tonight - returning my call.  One of her messages on facebook prompted me to call.  We chatted about... EVERYTHING!!!

She calls me on my bullshit.  She helps me work through issues.  We laugh.  We cry - though not tonight.  We are ridiculous and serious together.  It's magical.  We covered topics from hey what have you been up to for the last two year to getting older to what to do with toxic friends to .... everything.

You would think four hours - my goodness how can you talk that long.  We did.  We just kept talking, laughing, connecting back with each other.  On my part - cause I can't speak for her - it felt like I'd come home to find a great friend and companion.

At 11:00 I said I should let her go so she could get to sleep - she's an early to bed person unlike me.  Still we talked on.  One topic led to another and another and another.  You would think after not speaking for so long, it would be awkward.  This is the best part - I felt like we picked up where we left off last time we talked.  There was no awkwardness, no coolness, no judgement.  It was just the two of us connecting, being friends, and enjoying each other.

So Laura - I'm sorry I kept you up past your bed time but I LOVED our conversation.  Thank you for reminding me how good friendship can be.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Good Story

I haven't written a lot in the way of stories in a while.  I was beginning to feel like I couldn't anymore.  I've been editing, writing patterns and so on but actually sitting down to write scene after scene, I haven't done in months.

Last night I got lost in the telling of my story.  I started out grumbling to myself about how tired I was and how I wasn't sure where I was going, and a variety of other things.  I had this whole mental dialog at the end of which I essentially told myself to quit whining.  I spent several hours writing and by the time I was done, I had written eight small scenes, about 4000 words.

As I was writing the flow just seemed to come to me.  I couldn't type fast enough, as I was finishing one scene the next would pop into my head.  I could almost see them play out in my head.

Being a responsible adult - which not as fun as kids think it is - I turned out the lights at 11:15 to go to bed so Monday wouldn't be MONDAY.  Instead of sleeping, I lay in the dark wondering if I had written good scenes, if they were too short, too back and forth.  Among a million other things, the book kept going through my head.

After a bad night's sleep and a long day at work, I'm back at my computer.  I reread the scenes and they are quick but I don't think too quick.  I think I've got the right mood, tone, and rhythm I want in them.  One or two of them might need to be fleshed out more with a bit of description but for the most part these are conversations so you get to know the characters better.

Wayfarer Expansion is out after I had my freak out about ten books in a series and thinking it was time to wrap it up or maybe not or .... I said it was a freak out.  I got in my own way with writing.  Granted I was doing a lot of crocheting and writing of patterns but still I got in my own way with story telling.  It doesn't matter if it is book 1 or 100 (wonder if I could make it that far with this series?) as long as I'm telling a good and complete story, that is all that matters.

Ultimately that is the goal - a good story.  I want it to be one which will make you laugh, cry, and hold your breath.  I want you to hate putting it down and hate waiting for the next one.  I want you to love the characters unless they are bad - then I want you to love hating them.  I know this is asking a lot of my readers but I'm asking it of myself first.

There are still parts of books when I go back to read them (yes my own) where I still cry, laugh and so on.  There are books I hate putting down from other authors - ones I will stay up all night reading even if I have to work the next day.  On my own, I'm not such a good judge on this criteria.  I think that's what makes a good story.   I think this is what keeps readers coming back - a couple of hours of escape into another world which involves you so much you forget about whatever is going on in your own life and focus solely on the story.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Weekend Work

After answering emails and doing a bit of work on the computer, I worked on organizing the craft room.  I got yarn put away, Vicki's yarn condensed into fewer containers, and shelves cleared so we could get the organizer in the closet.

Ken helped by putting together the organizer.  Then we had to try different things in the closet for the left over space from the organizer.  Eventually we settled on custom shelves which I'm happy to say we aren't going to pay anything for because Ken had all the material here he needed.

Our morning was all about getting the closet organized.  The afternoon we watched movies and I crocheted - sort of.  I napped a bit as well as crocheting.  After supper, I worked on the afghan I've been working on.  It took a while but I finished it.  Then I worked on sewing a coin purse to the clasp.  I remember how much I dislike doing this.  I quit at one point with frustration.  My hands hurt and I was struggling to get the needle through the holes.  Today I'll probably work on finishing that.

I was up late watching the last of the Harry Potter movies.  This is what I've been watching while I crochet.  Friday night I got a whole skein done (large 1 pound skein) and yesterday I finished off the last skein.  Today I'll be taking pictures and measurements to go with my pattern so I can publish.

If Ken gets my shelves done, I'm going to attempt to go through the craft room to work on the organizing part.  I'll have to see how the day goes.

I woke up with about four scenes in my head for the next Wayfarer book.  After Ken goes to bed, I'm hoping to get those added in.  I'm trying to decide what I want where for craft and pagan supplies and where it will all go.  I may shift some stuff in my office to bring in some of the pagan stuff but I have to see how the space goes in the craft room first I think.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Only the best scenes...

Yesterday I got another tentative acceptance.  I wrote a different take on the topic for an issue and the editor thought it was different and might fit in the issue.  She's holding it until then.  

Last night I was tired.  My energy level was in the basement.  I wanted to write but my brain was not having it.  I sat and watched the Harry Potter movies.  Now I say that but I didn't actually watch them all the way through.  I started the first one and watched my favorite scenes.  I did that for both the first and second one.  

While I was watching, I worked on a crochet project.  This is a graduation gift and I'm hoping to finish it soon.  This is a pattern of my own creation and a little different than I normally do.  At first I really doubted whether it was a good pattern but now as I'm about half done with it, I am really starting to like it.  It's different making it unique.  I'm hoping she will like it.  

This weekend I'm trying to talk Ken into working on the craft room closet.  I'd really like to get it organized and settled.  I'd love to be able to walk in there and just grab what I need or put back what I'm done with.  I'm hoping he will be willing to work on it but I just never know.

I've got three or four scenes in my head for Wayfarer 11.  It's a matter of getting them down on paper.  I had an "oh crap" moment yesterday when I realized I had one of my characters giving birth too early.  I tried breaking things up.  I tried rearranging.  I thought about rewriting but in the end I took the simple route and just added days to the contract day at the beginning of the chapter.  It solved the problem without causing major rewrites and had little effect on the story itself.

My plan is to do the closet and work on the crochet project this weekend.  If I can finish both, I'll consider it an excellent weekend.  Now I've put this out in the world, let's see what the universe throws back at me.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Number 10!

Wayfarer Expansion is the tenth is the series and it was published today!  I've finally got all of my ducks in a row and finished the edits and published.

My intention today was to clean my office.  I want to reorganize some drawers and shift things around so filing (which I hate doing) will be easier.  I figured if I finally got around to this, my office would be more work space than pig sty.  It's still a mess.

However, I finished the edits on the tenth novel this morning.  It took me all morning, much longer than I expected.  Then I read a book while I had lunch. It was very nice to just kick back and relax. This afternoon I started the publishing process and now it is done!  I'm very excited.

This means I'm going back to writing.  I have two crochet projects I HAVE to get done in the next month.  From there, I have one other project that has a deadline.  While I love the crocheting, I've finished watching the shows I was watching and now it's time to go back to some intensive writing - so long as the muse is willing.

Wayfarer Expansion is now available in ebook for $2.99 and in paper for $12.95.  Check it out at these sites

Sunday, March 20, 2016

More Crochet Projects Published!

Yesterday I worked on the computer for the morning - personal business, editing, and so on.  After spending a lot of time on the computer, I crashed on the couch only to be thrown out of the living room - sort of.  Ken wanted to rearrange.

This morning, Ken did the grocery shopping and saved over $14 in coupons and over $7 in rebates.  It may not seem like a lot but every little bit helps.

Today I worked on publishing crochet patterns.  Once I was back on my computer I realized I had more ready to go than I thought.  I got four of the five done.  The last one is going to take a little more refining before I can publish it.

While I was working on the computer, I updated some of the stuff on my web site as well.  In addition to adding these four patterns, I put in new pictures on the home page and changed the background color.

I posted these on today and already have likes on the site.  I'm thrilled by that.  Hopefully it will translate into sales.

I was hoping to get more done but my legs are bugging me so shortly I'll be hitting the recliner again.  The good thing is I got two sessions on the computer today and lots accomplished.

Tomorrow I'm off work and plan to be a bit mellow about the day.  I have a couple tasks I'd like to do but in addition I may take time out to read.  It depends on what I get accomplished.

I finished Stargate and Stargate Atlantis.  Now I have to look for a new show to watch.  Or I may just go back to writing every night.  I'll have to see how the mood takes me.  I do need to finish three projects fairly soon.  I might need a show to watch while I finish those off.

Having said that, I need to get back to marketing - like posting on twitter blurb for  my books.  I've been thinking about setting up a nightly schedule but I'm so not good at adhering to a schedule.

I can't decide if it would be better to say this night of the week, I'm doing marketing and this night I'm doing editing and so on.  Or if it would be better to do a little of each every night.  Marketing from 6:30 to 7:30, submissions from 7:30 to 8:00 and writing the rest of the night.  I'm not sure either technique will work for me but I need to figure out how to get more of this stuff done.

In the meanwhile, I keep plugging away.  These four patterns are proof of it.  They are available on Smashwords and Amazon.  You can find links on my web site 

Friday, March 18, 2016

End of the Week

Spring break is next week.  The past two weeks at my day job have been rough with the hectic pace of summer registration and advising going on.  This week in particular has felt like it was two weeks rolled into one.  I work most of next week and it should be nice and quiet at work.

Our weekends have been jam packed with stuff too.  We've either been doing things or we've been running errands.  This means I don't feel rested when I get back to work.  I'm hoping this weekend will be different.

I have a list - as always - of things I want to get done.  I've already crossed off the paying bills, submitting to publications, and a couple of other small things.  Next will be making a grocery list, doing coupons, and prepping for the grocery store.  I think I'll ask Ken if he wants to do the shopping on his own.

If he does, I will take tomorrow to work on publishing three crochet projects and editing Wayfarer 10.  If I can get all that done and still have energy to work at the computer, I will try to do some more submissions.  There are a couple of projects I want to work on as well so I'll see what Ken wants to do and how I can help.

I took Monday off work and I'll be hanging out at home alone.  I'm looking forward to not setting an alarm for the next three days.  I'll have to I suppose so I don't sleep too late but in theory no alarms.  I'm glad it's Friday and I have three days to do what I want to do with no commitments to anyone other than Ken.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Shopping on a Saturday

What was I thinking?  I hate shopping at the best of times but shopping in Walmart on Saturday.  Ugh!!  It was busy with lots of crying kids.  My husband got crankier with every purchase.  I had three app rebates to coordinate, prices to compare, and coupons to organize.  I saved $3.75 in coupons and $10.80 in rebates for my apps and .55 cents in another app.

Then we moved on to Farm and Fleet.  Ken got new shoes because they were on sale.  He went in by himself while I talked to Vicki on the phone and took pictures of receipts.  Our last stop was the new Firehouse Subs.  Ken went in by himself and got our lunch.  It was quite good.

Next I have to organize our route for the pop up libraries and getting the books organized.  We are going to try to hit as many as possible today put one or two books in each one we stop at.

Then I'm coming home and crashing.  I've had enough of people, shopping, and noise.  I want the peace and quiet of my house.  Hopefully I will have the energy to work on hand towels.  I'm going to try to finish them this weekend but I'll have to see how my energy level is tonight and tomorrow.

I'm trimming all the editing and publishing off my list for tomorrow because I need some down time with my feet up.  If my legs feel okay, I may have time to work on the computer but more likely, I'll just work on crocheting.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wishing for Two of Me

Tomorrow, Ken and I are going to work on a plan for the closet.  I'm hoping we can get a plan in place so the closet can be a more useful space than it currently is.  I'm also hoping we can spend as little as possible on the closet.

After lunch we are going to take a bunch of my books and drive around to pop up libraries.  I'm hoping this will be a good marketing tool.  I've got a flyer to go into each book which shows the books I have available.  We also have a family commitment in the afternoon.

My Saturday is shaping up to be busy.  This means I have a lot to get done on Sunday.  I'd love to get the edits entered on the computer for Wayfarer 10.  If I could get it done and start the publishing process that would be wonderful.  I have some crochet patterns I have to organize and put through the publishing process.  Though, I just got submission guidelines for a crochet publication, so I may look at those to see if I can submit anything there before I publish it independently.  I wrote a new article which I want to edit and get out there.  Last night when I couldn't sleep I turned on my app and recorded what may be part of that article, a blog post, or a new article.  I couldn't sleep and just spoke what was on my mind so I'll have to see about that.

I have several hand towels to make up.  Each one takes me about an hour to do just the crocheting on it.  The prep work is already done which was time consuming.  There are 16 left to do and I'm hoping I can finish them off this weekend.

Additionally, I have to make some phone calls, deal with the checkbook and a few other personal business things.  I'm hoping to get these tasks done today after work.  If we have the funds, there are a few things I want to pick up.  So I'm going to have to find the time to go shopping as well.

I was hoping for a quiet weekend but as I'm writing all this down, I realize it is going to be a crazy busy weekend again.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Submit or Else

This week I've submitted ten different articles / stories for publication.  Two have been rejected, one has been tentatively accepted, and the other seven I probably will never hear about again.  I wrote a rough draft for a new article I want to submit but I'll have to see if I have time to get it in before the deadline.

I have at least two more publications I want to submit to before I start looking at other projects.  However, I got an email from a publication which I would like to submit to for crocheting but I believe I would have to make the piece and send it in for this magazine so that may take a bit longer.

It feels good to get my work out there but I'm also prepping myself for the rejections that go with the submission process.  I've done a submission for some greeting cards and a regional poetry contest.  I've also submitted work to two other publications.

There's always the hope that any of these submissions will not only get published but that I might also get paid for it.  Income from publishing is rare and hard to come by but it is a rush of pleasure when I do get paid for my work.

I'd like to figure out the best way to track leads.  I get a bunch of them but I either forget about them until after the deadline or I don't get the piece done in time for the deadline.  It would be nice if I could figure out a way to track a lead, when stuff is due, what I submit, if it gets published and so on.  I've got a works list where I type in all the submissions I do but it doesn't really fit the bill.  I need to find the right tool which will help me be more efficient with getting my stuff out there for publication. I might have to create a One Note notebook to help me with this.  I'll have to think about it.

In the past I've had a paper copy of the articles with a post it on it to track when I submitted it.  This hasn't ever worked well.  I'll have to consider my options.

Midnight has hit.  I should probably head to bed as I have to go back to my day job tomorrow.  The writing bug has got me thinking about what I need to be a more efficient author though.  I guess I could sleep on it and see what my subconscious comes up with.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

No More Excuses

My big thing for not submitting more is I don't have time.  This is true.  Time is my most limited resource.  However, it's an excuse.  So this week I went out to some of the publications I know I want to submit to.  I didn't take time to research new ones because that eats up that precious commodity of time.  I got a list of what they are looking for and I started looking at my done pieces.

I found several that I've already written which I can submit to these publications.  I've been a bum this week.  I'm fighting a sinus infection/cold and mostly just want to sleep.  However, editing doesn't take that much effort.

I printed off several of my articles I think will work nicely for these publications.  I've gotten one edited.  In fact I was quite pleased because while I was trying to breath, I got an idea for a completely different opening which I like MUCH better.  In about 30 minutes, I made the edits.  It took me another 20 minutes on the computer but when I was done, I had the edits entered and the piece submitted.

Will it get published?  No idea.  I've got my fingers crossed and I hope so.  Next I'm going to go back to my pile of articles and work on the next piece.  I don't know if it will take as little time but if I can get several submitted maybe I'll get lucky and get another published item or two.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Birthday Weekend

Thursday I ran away from home and escaped for the weekend.  Really Ken loaded up my car and drove to Indiana to spend time with my middle daughter.  Friday her and I ran her errands and went to Joann's.  While she shopped in other stores, I sat in the car crocheting.  I finished off a fleece throw for her.

For the weekend, I finished a fleece throw and poncho, two hats, two scarves, two sets of wristers, and a clutch purse.  I also finished off a beret I'd experimented with and needed to make sure would fit her.  It was laid back and relaxed when it came to crafting.  I created a new pattern and finished another one for publishing.  I may think about creating a pattern for one of the sets I made - I haven't decided yet.

We watched the Good Witch movies, The Expendables, season six of Downton Abbey, and the two How to Train Your Dragon movies.  There were a couple of Penguin / zoo movies too.  We also checked out the Good Witch series.

It was calm, fun, relaxing.  We played Word Chaos on our phones together.  This meant she would start a game and when she got stuck she would pass it to me - or vice versa.  We are both now addicted to the game.

We stayed up late, slept late, and tortured the cats.  Saturday we went to Michael's and a couple of other stores.  Sunday she baked cookies, I helped by putting them on the cookie sheet.  By evening my car was packed up (mostly) and all we had to do in the morning was put the last couple things in.
Monday she went off to work and I came back to Wisconsin.  The drive was fine, traffic was good and road conditions were excellent.  By the time I got home, all I wanted was a nap so I took one.  I expected to not sleep last night but I did.

While I spent my birthday driving, the weekend before was fun, relaxing, and enjoyable.  I stayed long enough to annoy her without staying too long.  I got about a third of a container emptied so progress was made on the LARGE pile of yarn I've got for her.

It was a nice little retreat for me.  I hope it was for her as well.  We laughed, talked, spent time together crafting, and just being together.  It was a nice weekend and a nice break for me.

Back at the Grindstone

With nine days off, you would think I got a lot accomplished.  I did when it comes to spending time with my girls but off my to-do list?  No...