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 – 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 – 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. 🙂 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. 🙂

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! 🙂

Things I do when my spouse is traveling

My spouse and I have been together since 1997, so when he’s out of town it is deeply weird. This time he’s in Houston for a few days, then will be back for a couple, then gone again for a few more. I have lists of food I’ll make for dinner, things we will do in the evenings, but it’s never easy when 2/5 of our household is gone.

Nights like this, I tend to draw back into myself. I read a book (tonight’s is for the UU book club: Memoirs of a Geisha) and listen to my favorite female musicians (Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Indigo Girls, Jewel, Alanis Morisette, Juliana Hatfield, etc.) by candlelight while the children wander in and out, foraging for food or bidding for my attention in new and exciting ways.

Sometimes I indulge in long phone calls with old friends or family members. Tonight it was my birth family. I was trying to explain about my youngest wanting a piccolo for Christmas and how that was a wonderful thing. They said it would be so loud and off-putting, but to me, it’s music and comfort and safety because I can hear the melody and know exactly which kid it is playing and where my kid is and what they are doing. Their traumas are different than mine. I am terrified of not knowing what is happening to my children, of not being present, of moments unacknowledged. My goal as a parent is that my children never spend a moment wondering if they are loved or seen or acknowledged. I spend my days making sure that they know that they are welcomed and loved and seen for who they are, and that they know that however they may change, they are still loved. There is more about all that in the memoir I am writing, of course.

Tonight there was also a brief storm, so the youngest and I wandered outside and danced in the thunder and lightning, a tradition we’ve had since he was little. The rain drops were huge and we were quickly soaked, but it is what we do. We danced and sang and when we became too cold, we came inside and burrowed in blankets on the couch, listening to the midkid practice his French horn.

And now it is growing closer to bedtime, but I am unable to sleep. I never do when my spouse is gone. I will probably stay up and watch movies he would not enjoy, while listening to one of my kids sing his Region Band music, which is identical to music I and my friends played when we were in high school. It’s funny how things go around and come back to themselves.


good people share faith, love, intimacy

…  so trust the knowing in me

with effort, I metamorphosed myself…

synergy an interesting challenge…

into determined socializing.


and maybe eventually everywhere

the inevitable reward

my purpose:

i’m loved

our time is playful

so trust the knowing in me and maybe eventually everywhere the inevitable reward …


Inspirational web poem #2

Lisa Holcomb 2004



The Wind That Shakes The Barley

There’s music in my heart all day, 
     I hear it late and early, 
It comes from fields are far away, 
     The wind that shakes the barley. 

Above the uplands drenched with dew 
     The sky hangs soft and pearly, 
An emerald world is listening to 
     The wind that shakes the barley. 

Above the bluest mountain crest 
     The lark is singing rarely, 
It rocks the singer into rest, 
     The wind that shakes the barley. 

Oh, still through summers and through springs 
     It calls me late and early. 
Come home, come home, come home, it sings, 
     The wind that shakes the barley.


Katharine Tynan Hinkson


With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph


Who doesn’t love this poem? But honestly, I started the “weird” life early on. Why wait til I’m old?


NAPOMO, day two

phone call

licking panic off my lips

     uttering the

               swollen words I wish i’d said


when I talk

         to you

i’m always stiff as yesterday’s cake


I sit here and eat the


like sky and caramel


we’ve rotted in this embrace


and now you spend time

     cursing in the corner

         and looking up at the

                  ceiling as if it has all the answers


we’re sitting under this

           plague blanket

brick bruises on our hearts

                  refusing to say the words we mean

         and saying all the ones we don’t



Lisa Holcomb 1998

Books 2011

Books 1-5 posted about here.

There were a couple other books I read before the Kage Baker ones, but it’s been so long that a) I can’t remember and b) I’ve already returned that batch to Steph.  Smile  That’s the way it goes sometimes.


The Sons of Heaven (The Company): The Last Book.  Oh how I cried.  I was really sad to be finished with this series and it seemed to end so quickly in this book, all the pieces coming together beautifully.



Not Less Than Gods (The Company Series): I actually read this one last, as that was where it was in the pile.  It was a good book, but my heart wasn’t in it at that point.



The Anvil of the World: Kage Baker writes fantasy!  Who knew!?  I’ve had this book in my pile for ages, never realizing it was Kage Baker until Steph mentioned she had the rest of those books.  I was a bit confused at first because I really thought for a while that they were in space, not on land, but once I got over that I really enjoyed the characters and storylines in this book, although I did think it felt a bit more like a long line of short stories than one whole novel.



The House of the Stag: I really think this one should have been first in the series, though I did not enjoy it as much as Anvil.  It was harder to get into, with a lot more anguish and suffering than I usually enjoy in books, although I did come to enjoy the backstory of the world.



The Bird of the River: this book follows different characters than the two before it, but we get a few cameos and overall I liked it better than the first couple books.



Percy Jackson and the Olympians :
I read all five of the first series of Olympian books, plus the Demigod Files and the Ultimate Guide books all in one fail swoop, mainly because my eldest child was checking them out from the school library.  I read the first one ahead of him to make sure it was okay, then raced to keep up.  It was the first series we read at the same time together and we really enjoyed being able to share it.  I enjoyed what the author did with bringing the gods & goddesses up to modern day.  I think in some ways it would be much better to read the guide books first, though, so you know more about what the characters and creatures are first (and pronunciation guides for the kiddos, too, as David was mispronouncing things left and right.)


18. Mr. Chatworth (I think) – some weird book about a giant dog.  It looked interesting from the description, but once I found out that this menacing guy everyone was so scared of was a giant dog, I couldn’t read any further.


The Callahan Chronicals: I really enjoyed the first couple books in the Callahan series, but petered out after the second one.  Since I have the omnibus, I feel compelled to read the third one just for completions sake, but I’ll wait until I hit another book lull for that.  That being said, I did enjoy the first couple books.  I love the idea of Callahan’s Bar and it’s helpful band of sometimes-not-so-merry drinkers. 


The Time Travelers (The Gideon Trilogy): I really enjoyed this first book.  The story was interesting, the kids were realistic (which becomes drastically more important once you have kids), and I loved all the historic detail.



The Time Thief (The Gideon Trilogy): also a very enjoyable book, but there were a few problems with head-jumping pov’s.  I didn’t feel like there was quite the same level of historical detail in this one, either.  Still very interesting series and I love that the author pulls no punches with the characters.