Back to School, Back to Work

This whole summer was one big logistical nightmare. We got the kids all moved, got my writing studio space all finished, and I mostly sat around and tried to breathe like a normal human being. I couldn’t, so I started seeing all the doctors and having x-rays and heart testing procedures. I ended up not doing any teaching at the library at all and quit a couple of other volunteer board positions that I just couldn’t physically handle as well.

I spent a lot of time just sitting and scanning or taking photos of my old journals, digging through and purging old files of art and school notes from when the kids were in elementary school, and making Scrivener files for all of the random writing I found within every stack of paper I touched. It was all very interesting to me from a “I’m always writing something, even when I shouldn’t be” perspective. I enjoyed that project a lot, even though my family got sick of me asking them to lug boxes around or to take another stack of papers to the recycle bin or “Can you read this thing that I wrote a decade ago that I can’t quite make out?” In the end, I counted 76 used notebooks and planners, plus two giant 3 inch binders full of loose-leaf paper and page upon page of stuff written on the backside of something else.

The floor plan of the house for one of my stories written on the backside of a page of PTA notes from 2013.

Summer band started a month ago and I’ve spent all of my time either taking two kids back and forth and back again between high school and college campuses for band practices and student orientations or in doctor’s offices letting them take yet more of my blood or more pictures of inconceivable places inside my body.

Now everyone’s back to school. My youngest started his sophomore year in high school last Monday and I thought to myself “Oh, I’ll get so much done!” But our black cat had other plans. I ended up taking him back and forth to the regular vet and then the emergency vet and then his regular vet again. Once he was better, my youngest slipped on the band field and had to go to Urgent Care for a sprained ankle. So this very wet Monday morning my midkid started his freshman year of college, but I was walking my youngest into school, carrying his enormous amounts of stuff while he swung in on crutches. My eldest took the midkid to his first day of college. I did get a “first day of college” selfie via text, so there’s that.

After that, I had nearly four hours to myself. I checked in with my Accountability Partner, and then I got to work. I made myself a more reasonable schedule of writing and writing related work (for those non-writers among us: finding short story and poetry markets, matching already written work to those submission guidelines, editing those pieces to fit word counts or to play up a theme, then writing cover letters and packaging my work so I can send them off, communicating with publishers and/or editors, doing edits for the places that bought my work, looking over proofs before things go to print, making images for new things and updating my webpage – hahaha – and my social media with images and links to the new books that have my work in them, etc.). I put everything into my Google calendar and Tasks list, but also wrote them into my paper planner, which helps me remember things better than the online stuff does (but the online versions keep me from getting too paranoid about losing a planner again, like what happened 5 years ago).

The Goals corkboard above my writing desk. I have two corkboards, but the other one is filled with things I like to look at, which I do not own the rights to for posting purposes, so we’ll leave that one just for me. 🙂

All of the planning now out of the way, I can get started with the first goal on my list: make a list of markets currently buying the kinds of stories I write. Off I go!

I also worked out weekly goals for the last six weeks of this quarter and all of the final quarter of the year. I’m hoping that I added in enough rest and recuperative time. I basically doubled the amount of time that I gave myself for similar things last year. We’ll see how that goes.

My new office space…

We have finally come to a stopping point. The midkid’s room and the youngest kid’s room are both finally painted and set up. I am having some ongoing health issues, so we chose not to repaint the space that’s become my office because I cannot handle the lingering paint fumes at the moment.

So while I’m not done, exactly, we’ve come to a bit of a standstill. Here’s a sneak peak of the space so far.

Looking into a small home office space from a doorway. There is a window in the center of the frame. to the left is a dark wooden desk with nine drawers. It has a laptop with an extra monitor on top, plus a tiffany style lamp on the left side. In front of the desk is a teal fabric chair. On the wall above the desk is a couple of small square corkboards and some small card-sized pieces of art with fairies and dragons. To the right of the window is a three foot tall, narrow bookshelf filled with small spiral notebooks. Sitting on top of it is two small white vases filles with greenery and a large watercolor painting of a pineapple. To the left of the shelf is a twin size bed draped in a white blanket with blue, green, and teal paisley. The sheet and pillows on the bed are navy. Above the bed are four white, floating shelves, which have dragons, pineapples, a writer's block emergency kit, and a many pointed star lamp.
Looking in from the doorway
In front of a mint green wall, a three foot tall by four foot wide golden wood bookcase is sitting on top of something draped in gold and blue fabric. The bookshelf is filled every which way with books. A small orange fairy, a small black typewriter, and a stack of books sit on the fabric. To the right of the bookcase, on the wall, a decorative black branch with many leaves and gold paint hangs above a yellow ceramic star-shaped light switch cover. Below that sits a three-tier corner shelf that has been painted turquoise. On the top shelf is a dolphin oil lamp. The second shelf contains a red square box and a box of tissues. The bottom shelf holds many different colored binders.
To the Right of the door.
There is a six foot wide closet without doors. It has purple curtains pulled back to the sides. Inside the closet is a small black desk with yellow magazine holders on the shelves below. Leaving against the wall above the desk is a mirror with several panes that look like a window. To the right of the desk is a black metal bookshelf filled with paperback books and a couple of brightly colored full-page hole punches. On a shelf above the desk, there is a small white castle, a wire paper tray, and a blue/black/white storage cube. In the foreground, ther is a desk chair covered in a beige crocheted shawl, some more magazine holders, and a small, but deep golden wood shelving unit with a teal file box on each of it's two shelves.
To the left of the door.

The room is currently furnished with things found around the house. The twin sized bed is staying in case we have overnight guests (it will be replaced with a wire framed trundle bed soon). I have a different tall bookcase that I may be picking up this weekend (or maybe not – one of my kids just got diagnosed with Covid) to replace the big one in the room.

I have a plan to take out one of the closet shelves so there is more light shining on the desk. That’s my project desk, which I can leave things out on and just close the curtains on if I am having people over.

I’m so excited about this little space. It’s been nearly two decades since I’ve had a room of my own to work in. I’m hoping it will up my productivity level in the days to come. 🙂

Two books for sale, one to go!

I honestly wasn’t expecting all the pieces I sold last year to come out all in the same week. They originally had publication dates that gave me a few weeks of breathing room in between each one, but one came out later and another one sooner and BAM, here they all are. So thank you for being patient with all my posts being about these books for sale. And thank you for supporting me and my writing for so long. Y’all are the best!

Now on to the books. One came out earlier last week and one came out today and the last one will be out tomorrow, but I was just too excited to wait. Here are links for the first two, along with a little description of what to expect from my piece in each book:

https://amzn.to/36qEyjY

This book has my poem “Last Family Vacation” on page 116, which is a peek into the heart of a mom with a kid in his senior year of high school. 🙂

https://amzn.to/3OvLLAF

This book has my essay “Revealing Rainbows” on page 74, which is a more in depth personal look at encouraging not just my sons to be themselves, but all the other boys they know as well.

Next Chapters Unleashed available now for pre-order

https://books2read.com/nextchapters

I am so excited to announce that my first published short story is available as of today as a pre-order. You can click the link above to order from any of those fine establishments right now. Seeing the book here was really nice and pretty and I clicked each one of those links to see the book in each of the stores, because I’m extra like that.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60422120-next-chapters-unleashed

This is the image that made me cry. I have been shelving books I read into Goodreads for 15 years now. Read a book, shelve it. Read a book, shelve it. All this time I’ve been scribbling away all these little stories of my own in the background, but I was too scared to do anything with them. Last year I decided that I wasn’t going to hide my words any more. And now one of my stories is there on Goodreads. Goodreads! I’m crying again, y’all. It is a wonderful feeling.

Boy Mom anthology news

Last year was a kind of a banner year for me because I finally took charge of my very large folder full of unpublished writing and started submitting my work various places. I’d never done it before and it was hard and scary to get over just the fear factor of it all. The banner part came because publishers started accepting my works.

This morning I head back from the Boy Mom anthology people, who accepted my memoir-style essay about raising my boys sometime last fall. They revealed the cover and told us that it will be going out for sale in time for Mother’s Day!

I’ll let y’all know when I know more, of course. But for now, rejoicing! 🙂

Here’s the silly mock-up I made for myself one day. The photo really encompasses the essay I wrote for the anthology.

The Last Day of 2021

I’ve spent literally every day in December feverishly trying to finish a) writing the time travel short story for the Unleashing the Next Chapter Anthology, b) editing some poetry for the Moms Who Write Anthology, and c) writing a new end for Caro’s Quest, which is why you haven’t seen me around here much. Everything is due tomorrow or the next day. To say I’m stressed is an understatement. I have slept, ate, wandered through words, and hugged my family, and that’s about it this month. Hope y’all have had a wonderful end of 2021! See you in 2022.

This week isn’t going how I thought it would

Tuesday, I got up and was so hopeful. Sure, I had my Spiritual Practices class that evening, but I had all day to write, so it was going to be great!

Nope. Due to some not-quite-disclosable things that are in the works, I got caught up in not one, but two different side projects. One is writing adjacent and in the end won’t require as much of my time as some of the things I’m doing now, but there was a wrapping up of one set of things in order to hand them off to someone else so I’d be ready for the next thing. I know how vague that sounds, but that’s the way life is sometimes, right?

The other thing is not writing adjacent, except in that I am writing up minutes for a group that I had thought I wasn’t taking part in any more. So there was catching up for that group’s information and making sure I still had access to all the notebooks and cloud storage that I need to do that work.

By the time I completed both things, it was time to hit the gym. On Friday, I rejoined the one that is walking distance from my house, instead of the one that I only go near on the way back from taking kids to school in the morning (which isn’t a good time for me to write, due to my ADHD meds timing). I went and learned where all the new stuff was, which machines I could still comfortably use, and which ones are still out of my happiness zone. It was a good workout, and I felt better for having done it.

The rest of the night zoomed by (literally haha!). Wednesday I had two meetings scheduled, so I knew I’d have to make the most of my in-between times for writing. Unfortunately, by the time I’d gotten home from the first one and eaten lunch, a problem had sprung up.

My kids school had a potential shooting threat. They informed parents right at the same time the 504 coordinator called to ask me if we could postpone our meeting for that afternoon. Because of the way our high school sends out alerts (first in the form of a phone call from the school’s main phone line wherein a computer voice reads the entire body of the message, including the URL’s – letter by letter; then almost immediately as an identical text message, an identical email, and then as a link to an identical letter in our district app), and the fact that 90% of the more than five a week they send are either about buying football tickets or that the PTA is selling Chik-fil-a at lunch on Friday, I have stopped answering calls from the school. So I missed that phone call and drove directly to the school. It was a madhouse. Literally hundreds of parents had driven there to take their kids out of school. Since there’s only one way in and out not on lockdown, they were all in the same foyer I needed to check into in order to get to my appointment on time. I was speaking to the woman guarding the door about my having an appointment “Honey, everyone is saying that,” when the 504 coordinator called me again. Since I was already there and the coordinator was meeting me at the inner door, I was ushered right inside. I heard the scoop on everything potentially threatening that was going on, had my kids 504 meeting, and offered to take the kids home anyways, even though it sounded like there was nothing actually going on other than the parental mayhem out front. Both my kids declined. One didn’t want an unexcused absence and the other wanted to go to Writing Club (oh my heart!).

They both wanted me to keep close “on standby,” so I ended up hitting the nearby stores and doing some early Christmas shopping to keep busy, since I had no computers or iPad on me to write with in the parking lot (the notebook I’d brought for the meeting literally had two pages left and I used them during the meeting). Scooped up the first kid out, then sat in the car waiting for the second kid for almost an hour.

I was exhausted, physically and mentally, by the time I got home. I ate dinner and was just heading to bed, when a kid -the one that has never in his life sat still for a movie – begged me to watch a silly Disney movie (Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge) with them. Of course I had to.

Today was an early-to-school day for the kiddos, but I had all the chores I hadn’t gotten done Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to get to work on, plus grocery shopping, so I did those things first. Then I had critiques to do for the Pineywoods Critique Group (which has a new website with a forum and blog here), along with hitting the gym again so I don’t turn into a stiff blob like I was all last year). I also needed to finish one last bit of an old transcribing project that I had promised someone ages and ages ago.

All of this is a long way of saying: it’s late Thursday and I’m still at 684 words for NaNoWriMo. *sigh*

NaNoWriMo 2021, Day One

I am doing NaNoWriMo as a rebel this year. I am working on adding about 35000 words to the second draft of my current novel, writing a 3500 word short story, and restarting what I’d quit working on during last year’s NaNoWriMo. You can find my profile for NaNoWriMo here.

Today I felt exhausted after a super busy weekend chaperoning my kids band at Area Marching Contest and the whole Halloween extravaganza. I didn’t think I’d get much done.

I only opened the first file for editing just to let myself stare at it while I finished my tea. Then I was going to get up and reheat my breakfast burrito. I noticed a couple things to fix, then a couple more. Next thing I knew, my tea was gone, so I took my burrito out to warm it up and when I glanced at the clock on the microwave it was three hours later.

I ate some lunch with my husband, who came home about five minutes later and told him about my magical morning. Then I told him about my plan to go to the gym in the afternoon. He left for work and I went back to the bedroom (which is also my office) to use the restroom. While in there, the computer made a weird noise, so I stopped to investigate for a moment before leaving for the gym.

Next thing I knew, it was 3:30pm and time to pick my kids up from school. So I stopped to do that and went back to writing while they were working on homework.

In all, I wrote 2,200 words on the current WIP. Of course, I also edited out about 1500 not so great ones. So I’m at 684 for the day. This is the last editing day this week, so I should still be able to make it up with just a hundred extra words a day this week.

It was a good start to National Novel Writing Month.