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Early Summer Musings

The fact that it is already summer break just astounds me. It feels like it was only yesterday that it was Mother’s Day.

Me and my kiddos

May went by in a flurry of tornado warnings, band concerts and banquets, color guard contests, kids’ auditions or testing for various activities, and all the sayings of “goodbye” to people and places we’ve loved spending time with.

I started helping out the worship team at my local UU church, both developing services and speaking during services. I also agreed to serve as vice president of the church board next year.

My eldest child acquired a car, passing his old one to his younger brother, who just started driving solo, and just like that *snap* life changed overnight. I no longer have to drive anyone anywhere unless there’s an emergency.

I spent a couple weeks preparing for a speaking engagement for the Open Door Writing Group at the Tyler Public Library about writing lyrically. I read or re-read so many books on writing poetry. Two didn’t arrive on time, so I still have those to look forward to.

Unfortunately, all that activity sent my diseases into overdrive. I got a sinus infection, then my joints flared up and I spent the last half of the month in too much pain to think, let alone set down words. It took me an entire month to finish a short story that I’d had outlined and ready to go. *sigh*

Last week my father was in town, so we spent time indulging in watching “Only Murders in the Building” (while I did cross stitch, since my hands had finally returned to normal) and taking time to look over his house here and make lists of future maintenance needs.

He went back to his primary residence yesterday afternoon and now I am back at my writing desk today, updating all the social media things, preparing for my two speaking engagements that are coming up later this month, and trying to sneak in a few new words in my next novel. Hope all of y’all are having a wonderful start to your summer! Let me know in the comments if you plan to join me at any of my events this month.

Reflections on the one-year anniversary of being published

Last month marked the anniversary of my first published work. Well, my first published work in over two decades, I should say, not counting unpaid blog posts and articles for local area newsletters. I had a few small bits published right after college, but then I had children and did not get back into writing for many years. Even then, I was too scared to send anything off to see if it was good enough for publication. Two years ago, I finally had enough positive feedback from other writers to get my courage up, and I got the ball rolling on submitting and by May last year, I had pieces published in four anthologies.

It’s been a good year, all told. I’ve had the chance to experience an anthology being built from the ground up, worked with several personalities of editors, set up Amazon Author Central and Goodreads Author pages, met a lot of fantastic and helpful new people, learned thousands of things about writing and marketing, attended my first book festival, changed my logo, and also discovered what the difference between people who had my best interests at heart and those who didn’t looked like.

2023 has been a hard year for me, logistically speaking. A prodigious number of things have gone wrong between the two houses I help maintain, my little family has had some big trials I’d rather not mention here, people and pets I love have passed away, my best friend had her whole life overturned, and groups that I help run have all had their own wacky disasters as well.

My word count is still really high compared to most years. My connections to other writers have grown stronger, and the number of writing opportunities I’ve had have multiplied exponentially, but I’m still struggling with time management. There’s just not enough of me to go around dealing with all the disasters and to get all the writing related activities done (so many of which are not, in fact, actually writing). Which is why my number of published works remains low – I just haven’t had time to submit anything anywhere with everything else that’s been going on.

That changed this morning. Despite a looming writing deadline for a short story that’s going in the back of someone else’s book, I sat down and made sure that I’d submitted at least a few poems and stories for publication in literary journals, anthologies, and zines. Just that little effort was enough – I’m feeling positive about writing again for the first time in a couple months. I can’t wait to see where my pieces end up. I’m looking forward to a fruitful second year of publishing.

How fast the time goes

When I set out to change up how I blog this last year, I’d figured on blogging every two weeks, on my church’s off weeks, but the time in between goes so fast and is stuffed with so many things that I often arrive at my computer and am completely overwhelmed about what to post and what to keep private. Being a more professional writer has been such a learning curve!

Since I last wrote here, there’ve been a couple winter guard performances for my youngest kid, which I chaperoned, my midkid learned how to make pancakes (in a few hilarious attempts, which he live-texted me about), Indy has gotten incomprehensibly larger, I rearranged my fridge to be more ADHD friendly (veggies in the door so we can see them), and I attended the East Texas Book Fest!

I had a fantastic time! I sat in a little corner where most of the writers were from my local writers group, so I had support, advice, and fun. Everyone that came to my table was encouraging, and I both sold a book and got invited to speak at a library in a nearby town as well. Such a great experience!

Spring Break Catch-up

When I last posted, I was about to go see the orthopedic doctor, which the former health blogger in me insists was a whole experience that probably should have a post to itself. But since I’m not doing much of that these days, I will just show you my glorious new prescription shoes:

If you don’t know me, please know that a) I usually hate shoes, and b) pink is not normally my favorite thing. However, these shoes are like walking on bouncy marshmallow clouds and it turns out I love that! Also, they match my new color-shifting glasses, which brings me joy. ๐Ÿ™‚

For Spring Break, we spent half the week in town, doing generic house stuff and watching movies. The second half, we traveled (my youngest driving for the first time!) to College Station to visit my dad, sister, and other family. We repainted his outdoor statuary, had meals with the fam, and watched a lot of Ancient Aliens (which my dad is addicted to right now). On the way home, we stopped in a thrift store and bought me a practically brand new computer monitor, which I’m overjoyed with.

In writing news, I’ve been gearing up to attend the East Texas Book Fest next month. When I signed up, I’d hoped to have a book of my own available to sell, but that just hasn’t been a reality. But I’ll have copies of my anthologies available, and I’ve been working on how to dress up my little table. I’m super excited about the event and I hope to see y’all there! More info here: East Texas Book Fest

All the Appointments!

It’s Doctor Appointment Season! Since I have a billion and one health issues, I see a lot of specialists. One year I decided it would just be easier if I saw them all in February – who knows why at this point? Since they usually are 6 months or a year apart, I end up seeing at least one doctor every week through February and into March. So far I’ve seen the neurologist (my brain is apparently fine, even if it doesn’t feel like it), the ENT (my sinuses are still gross), and the rheumatologist (oh so much wrong with me). The rheumatologist referred me to the orthopedist (is that a word?), and I see him on Monday.

In between all that, I’ve been:

  • dog-sitting,
  • teaching lessons at Open Door Writing Group (who had a fantastic turnout this month!),
  • writing ALL THE VILLAIN SCENES for Caro’s Quest,
  • critiqued an entire paranormal romance novel for a friend (I’m so excited for that one to come out!),
  • drove my youngest to work and back about 30,000 times,
  • chaperoned a winter guard contest,

The awesome mascot statue at the winter guard contest

  • attended my kid’s pre-UIL concert
  • figured out that I’m way ahead on my word count compared to last year (thanks Sprint Club!),
  • painted the hallway bathroom, then painted the backs of the built-in bookcases the same color because I loved it so much,
  • got a fun haircut
  • started repotting plants and tidying up my yard for the spring,
  • and spent far too much time troubleshooting iPad woes.

That’s it for the end of February and early March.

What have y’all been up to? Let me know in the comments below. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s been a doozy of a year so far!

Y’all. I thought I was going to be so on track with my writing this year, having made a decent schedule, with lots of breaks for fun family times, illness, injury, and whatever. What I didn’t plan for was for all of that to happen in the first month of the year.

My year so far has included a totaled car, a busted dishwasher pump, mysteriously broken microwave, and wonky electrical system all in my house, plus a flooding under the kitchen floor, worn out electrical outlets that weren’t working, and a leaking hot water heater in the house my college kids live in, there was a major ice storm in my area, so we were without power for almost five days, and then the van we borrowed while we are looking for a new car had it’s battery die. So eight major crisis’s in a six week period.

Oh, and my college kid rescued a puppy that had been dumped in his friends yard, so there’s been puppy babysitting as well.

Obligatory puppy picture. Meet Indy! She’s sweet and feisty all at once.

Needless to say, I’m a little behind on my word count. I have, however, figured out all the plot holes in the current novel, have made a list of all the scenes needing to be written, and put it all into a handy-dandy word document that I can access from any device I own. So now I can write literally from anywhere. Which is good because the puppy cannot come here to my house, so I must go to hers. (It’s the puppy’s house now. Bwahahah.)

Also, Indy has been a welcome inclusion in my life because my current novel has a little dog in it, a puppy only a little bit older than her, so I’m using my time with her as inspiration for dog-related comic relief in bleaker parts of my story. ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus puppy kisses! Win-win!

Hope y’all are all doing well. Let me know in the comments below. ๐Ÿ™‚

Weird Projects that relate to Writing

Starting last Friday I finally had some time to myself again. I made a list of all the writing things I accomplished last year, which is below:

2022 In Review โ€“ Writing Life

  • Led Open Door Writing Group 16 times
  • Attended Open Door Writing Group 24 times
  • Led East Texas Writers Guild meetings 23 times
  • Attended writers conferences โ€“ 1 online and 2 in person
  • Attended one writing retreat
  • Submitted the first three chapters of my current novel to a respected writing coach in my genre and spent two sessions discussing my writing style, my writing flaws, my writing strengths, and potential plot holes for this particular novel
  • Worked with two critique groups, covering five months of the year
  • Worked with an accountability partner all year
  • Mentored a new-to-writing fantasy writer for 3 months
  • Created outlines for two full novels
  • Learned to set up newsletters and mailing lists
  • Set up my newsletter and mailing lists
  • Redesigned my website
  • Had professional portraits taken
  • Submitted five stories to magazines and journals
  • Wrote around 125,000 words total
  • Read 6 books on writing and implemented their suggestions
  • Started taking a marketing class
  • Wrote alternately on two different novels
  • Had 3 poems, 3 personal essays, and 1 short story published in anthologies

Whew! That’s a lot, especially considering how many health woes I had, moving three kids to different rooms (sometimes in a different house, painting, moving into my writing studio, a kid graduating high school and starting college, and all the family stuff.

I also updated all my reading lists from the last few years. I thought Amazon was automatically updating them for me when I purchased a book or read one as an e-book or listened on Audible, but it hadn’t been. So I went back through my paper lists, Library Elf and Circulation Desk emails, old blog and FB posts, etc and added books back in. I’m sure it’s still not all I read, but it’s much closer to reality now. Looking back, I realized that most years I read about a book a week, some years more than that, and a couple years way, way less than that. I re-read some old blog posts and realized that one of those years I was PTA President and had two part-time jobs, so that made sense and the other time I was just crafting all year long and I hadn’t discovered audio books yet. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was very informative to delve back into those lists of the books I loved or hated and see how they influenced the things I wrote those years. It was interesting to see the ebbs and flows of my interests, some years reading great swaths of neuroscience and other years mainly mysteries, but always, always a ton of fantasy and science fiction.

Now that I’ve processed all of that in my journal, I’m back on track with writing my own novels. I’ve got a schedule worked out for the rest of the month on what I’m writing for one and worldbuilding for another one. In the past, I’ve tried to plan out by quarters, but I’ve discovered that I get discouraged when one quarter bleeds over into a second one and that’s where I tend to fall down the rabbit hole. So I made a big general plan on what I hope to accomplish for the year, but I’m only doing detailed planning a month at a time and plan to regroup at the end of the month to rework the schedule for the next month. ๐Ÿ™‚

Working on two different projects helps my brain have something to bounce back and forth between when I get stuck on one, so this month, I hope to finish the Caro’s Quest re-write and flesh out new characters for a YA novel I’m working on in a friends universe.

What are y’all working on this year? Leave me a comment about it and I’ll start cheering you on! ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy New Year!

After slogging blearily through the end of 2022, I’m jazzed about all the new things coming in 2023! Today is the first day back at my writing desk and I’m sitting with my beautiful new Passion Planner and plotting out a schedule for all the stories I plan to write and penciling in all the submission deadlines for when to send them out and dates for the conferences and writing retreats I plan on attending this year. I’m all aquiver with excitement.

Tomorrow I have my first speaking engagement of the year at the Tyler Public Library. I’ll be talking about goal setting for writers at the Open Door Writing Group. I’ve already planned out all my topics for that group for the year, actually, so if you want to know when to find me there and what I’m speaking about, head over to my new Calendar page and you’ll find all that information (and more!) there.

November, November

So you’ll probably see two posts from me today because apparently I got busy and never hit “publish” on the last one. Thanks for being patient with me!

Let’s just start out with me saying that I did not win at NaNoWriMo this year. November was just a bit too full. What did I do in November instead?

Well, the first week was all about World Fantasy Con. I was supposed to actually go out to Louisiana in person, but a) I didn’t have anyone to share my room, which was part of how I was being able to afford to go, b) I didn’t know anyone else going, which makes for a lonely conference experience and c) I just can’t drive that far on my own these days, not with all the ongoing weird health issues. Since most of the conference was going to be online, I drove down and spent the weekend with my accountability partner and college BFF, Stephanie Leary. She had to work during parts of it, so she was up in her office, but the rest of the time, we got to lounge around, eat good food, take a really long walk, be silly, talk about writing, and listen to some spectacular writers talk about writing. It was a fantastic four days. ๐Ÿ™‚ I regret nothing.

I did get a few things done, writing-wise, that week, though. I wrote my President’s Corner column and several thousand words on Lady Air Pirates, plus some background bits for that story.

The second week of November was half ETWG work, half beta reading/critiquing for a friend. This was actually my second go at the beta reading, as computer issues the month before had caused a large chunk of my work not to save, which was horrifying. But a promise is a promise and I fulfilled it. I got pretty much zero of my own writing done, not even outlining work.

In the third week, I did organizing work for ODWG, mainly working on the calendar for speaking next year. I’m pretty much always the speaker the fourth week of the month next year and I have my entire speaking schedule filled out and outlines started for most of those planned lessons. I did some writing for memoir stuff, and prepared material for an extra Spiritual Discussion group that had been delayed during the summer and was finally finishing up. I wrote about 2000 words on Lady Air Pirates, and also met with the incoming ETWG president and told her about all the ups and downs and behind-the-scenes things from this year and let her ask questions about any of it. I also helped revise the ETWG survey that had confused some people the first time it went out. As a bonus, one of my kids found my 2006 Pregnancy Journal in a box somewhere, and after doing a dramatic reading from it in front of the other kids, handed it over to me so I could run away and die. (Instead I scanned it in, used Google Photos to transcribe it, and dumped it into my 2006 All Writing Scrivener File.)

The next week was Thanksgiving break, so I took my younger two kids down to visit my dad and sister and other assorted family. We got to tour my sister’s new house, wherein my midkid found a French horn and wandered around playing it for days afterwards. We watched movies and rearranged my dad’s entire book collection and put away all the vases that were still sitting around the edges of the dining room from two years ago. Then we drove back home and rearranged my writing studio so our Thanksgiving guests could stay here. The next day we got up and cleaned up our house, then checked on the big kids house (which is my dad’s, and where he stays when he visits) for cleanliness (they did great!), and then I collapsed into a heap of exhausted Lisa. I went to bed at like 6pm and didn’t wake up until 6am Thanksgiving morning. Thanksgiving was a whirlwind of people coming and going, or not (one set of potential guests got in a car accident on the way here – everyone that wasn’t the car was fine). I took a new friend on a tour of all the other Lisa H’s art because she liked it so much (this happens a lot when new friends visit) and showed her all my other BFF’s art as well (she doesn’t have a website for it, but does sell it from time to time, and now I feel like I need to prod her about it again, despite her not having time to set one up).

The last little bit of the month was equally chaotic – my youngest had training at his very first job on Sunday and we had to shop for slip-free shoes and fancy black shirts for that, my dad stayed through Monday, so we played a lot of games over at his house, got the holiday decor organized, etc, and then wanted to spend all Monday working on what he called a “scrapbook” for my mom (it was a binder with accordion-style sheet protectors that he put photos and cards and bits of her writing in). I spent Tuesday morning catching up on stuff for ETWG & doing research for my ODWG lesson, then spent the afternoon having tea and chatting with my writer friend Ilenya. That was lovely. Wednesday I spent writing lesson notes, a script, and some prompts for ODWG, then went and set up tables for that, since the library moved us downstairs for a couple weeks while they have a program up in our usual space. Then I ran around like a crazy person, getting my eldest a car battery, taking my youngest to find somewhere to change clothes and then over to his first official work day, then scooping up the midkid, talking to the eldest again about important things, etc. By evening I was feeling like I’d been hit with a truck and my spouse said I felt hot, so we checked and I was, indeed, feverish. Yesterday he woke up feeling unwell, so he stayed home and we both worked in separate rooms, him on engineering, and me in here writing my ETWG President’s Corner column, re-working my ODWG lesson as an article, and cleaning up an older poem for the ETWG newsletter. After lunch, I rested and snuggled cats, and talked again with my eldest, who came over looking for a package he’d inadvertently had sent here and got lured into cat snuggling. Woke up today less feverish, but feeling more run down. I’d intended to go lie down after my accountability time, but the coffee kicked in right then and I went over to look at my word counts from last month instead, realized I’d never posted about that, and I’ve been writing here ever since.

So, overall, not just Lady Air Pirates, but everything put together, I wrote about 30,000 words last month. If you count just the Lady Air Pirates draft and outlines, I’ve got about 15,000 words there. If you count just the draft, it’s down to about 7,500 words. Ah well, I tried. I’ve always said NaNoWriMo in November was a lousy idea. Why isn’t it in a quiet month like January, where nothing ever happens? I have always wondered that. If you know the answer, drop it in the comments below.

October Catch-up

I really don’t know how other people keep up with all the social media, blogging, etc, AND do actual writing. I can’t juggle that many things and still arrive sanely to the end of the month.

Here’s what October looked like:

Week 1: I took my midkid to the East Texas Fair and heard the TJC Jazz Bands play, spent many hours watching marketing videos with Marsha, screwed up my courage and went to the post office to mail things to my sister and my best friend, go set up to do business as Wee Little Dog Publishing with Marsha (more about that later) and got a post office box together so we can both have a non-home address for our newsletters, wrote a couple thousand words on Caro’s Quest, and did all the usual things I do (ETWG, ODWG, UUFT Spiritual Practices, driving kids everywhere.) Started working on NaNoWriMo Prep with my Lady Air Pirates story idea from a couple years ago (the one that I started outlining, but only got two scenes written for), and went to my youngest’s football game marching show on his birthday and took him out for ice cream afterward.

Week 2: Attended Writers in the Field, which deserves a post of its own. It was fantastic! ๐Ÿ™‚ Also went to the pulmonologist for lung testing, which after all the craziness turned out that my lungs are just fine. Started tearing all the romance out of Caro’s Quest because it just felt shoehorned in, no matter what I did, and I really hated it. Taught a class for Spiritual Practices, read “The Invisible Wall” for book club, added dangly sparkle lights to my writing studio, and added another couple thousand words to Caro’s Quest to make up for the scenes I’d taken out.

Week 3: I didn’t do too much writing. I made a Scrivener file for the marketing class notes, organized my ETWG files some more, and spent hours trying to re-outline Caro’s Quest now that the romance was gone and I could re-focus those portions of the story on more magical stuff. I wrote a bunch of magic related fluff for my files so I understand the magic rules better now, but none of that will go in the novel, so it doesn’t really count, right?

Week 4: I realize this was just last week, but my brain is gone and I can’t remember what I did yesterday, much less last week. I do have a spectacular bruise on my right forearm, though, from where the phlebotomy tech thought he knew my veins better than I did and he didn’t just blow my vein, but absolutely collapsed it. It’s about the size of a business card right now, but it keeps spreading, so we’ll see. (I was there for more lung testing, to see if I had hidden blood clots. I did not.) Honestly, I probably just worked on Lady Air Pirates, locating all my old files, which were everywhere because I’d done a little bit in Word, a little bit in Plottr, a little bit in yWriter, and a little bit in Scrivener. Oh, and the link dropped for the podcast that I was on over at Authorpreneur’s Unleashed. Click here to go have a listen.

Last little bit of October: Wrote about 1,000 words on Caro’s Quest, exported my church membership database into my personal address book, and talked about joining my church’s worship team because they need more people and I’m good at standing up and talking in front of people now. ๐Ÿ™‚

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and usually eats my brain, so at this point, I’ll probably just see you at the end of next month. Hope you have a happy November! ๐Ÿ™‚