The Pursuit of Busyness

It’s a little weird right now not to have a contracted deadline. But that’s probably a good thing.

I took a bunch of time off from having book events and such in the last half of pregnancy, and after The Girl was born, and for the first year of her life, I didn’t do anything that involved tons of travel.

This year will be different. I’m doing more travel. The Husband is going with me to some events; and will stay home with the Kidlings for some events. I’m actually branching back out to some of my previous haunts, to Cleveland, to Indianapolis, to Louisville, and actually getting some travel time outside of a one hour radius from my house. I’m looking forward to it, and to be honest, I think the Husband is, as well. We haven’t had a weekend out of town together since well before The Girl was born. We will be using some of my book events to get some time for just us.

I’m also way behind where I wanted to be on the DEMON book. Mea culpa. This is the first night in a long time that I’ve had the Kidlings in bed, the Husband otherwise occupied (he’s working late some nights, working on some projects for sidework…even if he’s in the house, he’s occupied), and not ready to drop from exhaustion myself or working on deadlines for the side job. I did get a short story out, and it will be published in June.

IT IS RELATED TO THE DEMON BOOK.

If you’ve read my short story, “Welcome to New York”, you’ve heard of Andrew and Gregory. They are two characters in that short story, and they are also secondary characters in the DEMON book. In both that short story and the novel, they are adults, with careers and a propensity to get involved in demon fighting. (“Welcome to New York” has appeared in two different anthologies, please click on BIBLIOGRAPHY above to get the links).

The short story coming out, “The Dragon Made Me Do It” will be published in the Origins Game Fair anthology, entitled DRAGONS! on Father’s Day weekend. It’s a wicked fun story about Andrew and Gregory as pre-teen altar boys dealing with a demonic presence that takes the form of a dragon.

LOCAL PEEPS…YES it does take place in Urbana. I didn’t make it obvious in the short story. But it is Urbana, Ohio. AND THAT’S WHERE THE DEMON BOOK IS SET. If I ever get it done. And I plan to. It’s turning out awesome. No, seriously…I’m in what writers normally refer to as the saggy, soggy, middle of the novel, the point at which most writers think anything they are working on sucks…and I still think it seriously rocks. That’s weird. Most of my writer friends will totally get what I’m saying. I cannot wait to share it with you. But first I gotta finish it. And then I gotta sell it.

And the brain worms for the project I have AFTER that are also intruding. I always have a million and one ideas…but this one is starting to get insistent. Better get the DEMON book done, so I can write the CARAVAN book (Working title, THE CORPSE BEHIND THE CARAVAN).

So…even though you haven’t heard much from me because I’ve been in the sleep-deprived new mom stage, doesn’t mean that the wheels aren’t turning. The problem hasn’t been the ideas. It’s been the time, and the exhaustion level. But The Girl is now sleeping through the night (and she’s turning into a big fan of books, but more on the GOODNIGHT MOON level than on Mum Mum’s books level), which means that I get to be Writer Girl again from time to time.

Getting It All Done

I’ve laughed a lot here lately. I’m stupidly busy. I need to learn to say no more, but life is going like gangbusters on all GOOD cylinders. I’m not someone who finds it easy to say no to good things. I also end up on a lot of panels about Time Management for Writers and about Writing with a Day Job. So what all am I doing?

I do work a full time job. I’m a lawyer for a local government agency. I’m no longer doing involved trial work, but I’m in court regularly. It’s a 40 hour a week job, but it’s not one that comes with a ton of overtime.

I also work a part time job. I’m lucky enough to have found a part time legal writing job that, while there are deadlines, it’s a very flexible schedule, and generally involves a couple of evenings and maybe a Saturday morning every week. I’m starting to move some of this work to the hours after The Girl and The Boy go to bed at night.

I’m between book contracts at the moment. THE PERRAULT VOW will be out within the week (!) then my contracts for the GRIMM series are fulfilled. I’m working on a new novel, and while my goal is to have it completed in October, if not before, I do not have a contract for it, and do not have a deadline. In fact, I don’t have any writing deadlines at the moment. I generally write on my lunch break at the moment, and after The Girl goes to bed at night.

The Boy is in high school this fall. EEEK!! He’s on the high school soccer AND cross country teams. Which means that I’ll be there cheering him on as much as humanly possible.

The Girl is crawling. She, however, seems to be unhappy that she’s not making faster progress…she wants to stand and walk and run. She can pull herself up on furniture if it’s low enough to get hold of; otherwise, she keeps doing a very frustrated baby version of downward facing dog and getting ticked off that she’s not getting what she wants.

And The Husband and I are trying to eat healthier on a regular basis, eating out less and cooking at home more. The next step will be to add in exercise, but a lot of times that’s an issue of lack of time rather than lack of desire.

So people keep asking me how I’m getting it all done. To which, depending on the day, I either want to tell them that I’ve given up sleep for Lent (since it’s not Lent at the moment it’s fun to watch their faces as they realize this), or I want to tell them that I’m not getting it all done.

Truth is falling somewhere in between.

There’s a measure of planning required to have this kind of schedule and still be Mom. There’s a whole lot of tag-teaming going on between my husband and I as to getting The Girl fed/bathed/put to bed at night/packed for morning and getting The Boy fed/to practice/to games and matches/to team meetings.

My house is nowhere near where I would like it to be; but the level of cleanliness when I lived alone with one job, the writing, and a cat, is not something I can maintain with two jobs, the writing, four people (including a very active teenager), and the cat. The home improvement projects are coming along, though much slower than either of us would like, because of the aforementioned craziness in our schedule. And fall sports have just started this week.

And the writing is happening around deadlines for my part time job, on breaks and lunch hours at work, as well as after The Girl goes to bed at night. The other night, my husband and I were hunched over my laptop kicking around ideas for upping our game for our convention displays, and coming up with a more cohesive, professional look (not that it looks BAD per se…just how can we make it look BETTER). I’ve talked marketing on a phone call with a marketing consultant while spooning strawberry peach apple baby food puree into The Girl’s mouth one evening. Email marketing will be kicking off soon.

Now you see why I find it funny to be on these panels about Time Management. I swing wildly between wanting to say that if I can find time to write, others can too, and saying that if it’s important, a writer will find the time. And then I realize how condescending that sounds, and I don’t mean it that way. The reality is, however, that there’s some truth there. If you truly want to write, you will write after the kids go to bed, on the commuter train to work, on your lunch hour, or first thing in the morning before the rest of the family gets up for work. If it’s important to you, you will treat it as something important in your life.

Or you can just be me and totally lose my mind trying to do it all…and taking my husband to the funny farm with me…

 

Seeing Red

So someone repeated a statement to me today that’s got me a little perturbed. I’m not upset at the person who repeated it; I’m a bit frustrated that it was said at all. And my heart breaks a little that anyone thinks that way; this should be something that individual families decide for themselves.

I go back to work tomorrow, having been on maternity leave since my daughter was born in January.

Today the statement was repeated to me, “I thought Addie wanted that baby so badly, I’m surprised she’s going back to work.”

Cue the Donald Duck-style temper explosion in my head.

I made a comment about us needing my salary (we do), but there’s way more to it than that.

I’m the daughter of a working mom. My mother taught elementary school for thirty years. I can remember helping her set up her classroom and grade papers as I got older. I remember being proud of her when former students came up and told her how much they loved being in her class. I have many friends who have gone back to work after having kids.

I’m also friends with several stay at home moms. I know for a fact that they don’t sit around all day eating bon bons and watching Dr. Phil reruns. I didn’t on my maternity leave. Caring for small kids full time is a job and a half. I’m grateful to the stay at home mom who is going to be caring for my kid in her home while I work.

None of the working moms I know wanted their kids any less than the moms who were able and wanted to stay home.

I have enjoyed every minute of every day that I was home with The Girl. I’ve watched her grow from newborn to a nearly two month old baby while I was off. No matter the number of diaper blowouts, snot sucker drama, colic, reflux, getting peed on, getting pooped on, her spitting up while being burped, being an overstimulated baby refusing to nap, or any of the other more gory parts of new parenthood, I wouldn’t trade a moment of it. I’m glad that I was able to take a maternity leave with pay so that I could be home to experience all of it. I wish all moms could have that luxury.

I think all moms out there want to set an example for their kids. And we pick and choose what traits we model for them.

  • I want my daughter to know that she can have a career that fulfills her and still be a mom; and that sometimes having a fulfilling career can make you a better mom. 
  • I want my daughter to know caregivers other than mom, even though that breaks my heart a little. I want her to learn that there are loving people in this world that are outside of our home.
  • I want my daughter to know how good of a father she has because of how much he supports her mother in chasing her dreams; which would not be possible if I stayed home full time (we couldn’t afford some of the extra expenses I’ve incurred chasing this writing thing).
  • I want my daughter to know that she has value over and above being a mom; that she can contribute to the world more than just what she can give birth to.

And yes, we do need my salary. If I stayed home, I’d still have a mortgage and student loans and other bills to pay. And I have a stepson that will be in college in just four or five years. There’s no way we can afford to have me stay home.

Even if the money was there, I would still go back to work, because I need to, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. I’m not cut out to be a stay at home mom; I tip my hat respectfully to those who pull off that job. It’s one of the hardest jobs there is.

That’s not to denigrate stay at home moms. These are the things I’ve chosen to model for my kid. Others choose differently, based on their family and their circumstances. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Some of it is based on the individual moms and their desires, sometimes it’s based on the needs of their families.

BUT THAT CHOICE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW MUCH YOU WANT OR DON’T WANT YOUR KIDS!

I’ve seen moms with unexpected pregnancies who stayed home with the kids and loved every minute of it. I’ve seen moms with planned pregnancies who couldn’t handle a Mommy and Me sing a long without losing their minds, and Pinterest gave them hives.

Yes, I wanted The Girl with every breath of my being, and well, I’m so grateful to have her. But don’t feel bad for me working, or think I wanted her less just because I go back to work in the morning.

(Though leaving her tomorrow will probably still be one of the hardest things I ever do, so do have a kind thought for me in the morning, why don’tcha?)

 

This Year

Okay, so most of you know that I had a baby in January. I go back to work for the day job here in a couple of weeks, and I’ve been struggling to schedule author events and balance the day job, the part time job, The Boy’s activities and keeping in mind a baby (who will be known here as The Girl) who is still technically a newborn.

IMG_0684The Girl, contemplating another nap…

So I will say that I’m not scheduling much in the way of travel this year, and what is scheduled will likely not be terribly far from home, and will likely not start happening until June or so.

So far, I’m planning the following…

Origins                                       Columbus, Ohio            June 15-19, 2016

Art Affair on The Square      Urbana, Ohio                  July 16, 2016

Art on the Beach                     Indian Lake, Ohio         August 6-7, 2016

World Fantasy                         Columbus, Ohio            October 27-30, 2016

There are more on my list that might get added, but these are the ones I’ve committed to so far. I may (or may not) have The Girl with me; the Husband and The Boy may make appearances as well, as we do tend to combine writing events with family events when possible.

I may also be planning a couple of giveaways in the next year, so stay tuned for more information.

As for the writing?

Are you a fan of Bert, Janie, Aiden, Mia, Jonah and the rest? Book Five is headed for the publisher soon, wrapping up the series.

I will be diving into two projects when that is complete, the sequel to Shades of Gray and Girl versus Demon; Demon Deadly Sins. Both have been on the back burner for a while, and will be headed toward the front burner for completion this year.

I do have a short story coming out in the Origins conference anthology entitled “The Stupidest Robot”. It’s really cute, and I hope you check it out!

 

 

Travel and Details

I am very definitely the plan ahead traveler.

My husband is SOOOO not.

Well, I guess I shouldn’t totally say that. He’s got his own plan in his head, which generally involves getting a list together of what he needs to have when he throws it all in the suitcase at the last minute. He knows what he’s looking for when he’s hunting through the house the day before he leaves.

I cannot do that. 😉

I’ve been known to make actual paper lists of the outfits I’m taking so that I know I have all of the pieces of the outfit set aside for the trip. If I’m short a pair of socks, a pair of shoes, or something like that, then I know, in my head, what I need to shop for before leaving. I always have at least one outfit for each day, one extra pair of pants and one extra shirt in case of clutzy spillage, and a light jacket or sweatshirt or cardigan (depending on the level of dress code of the trip) in case of chilliness or over-cranked air conditioning. I take at least one pair of tennis shoes no matter what, so that I always have a comfy pair of shoes in case of lots of walking. And that’s just the clothing part of the packing. And I start doing this a week to a week and a half prior to the actual trip. If not sooner. Can you imagine the mental lists when it’s more than just a suitcase?

My husband looked at me in horror when he realized that I think this way. “But what if you need the stuff you’re setting out before you go?”

Well, then I know what needs run back through the laundry on high priority before the trip.

Yeah, I can be a little OCD when it comes to details.

Let me explain.

We are headed to Wizard World Cleveland in about a week. This is probably one of the biggest shows I’ve ever gone to for the books or as an author. Which means that I’m losing my mind making sure I’ve checked everything I can think of off my list as far in advance as possible.

Here’s my example…

Backdrop curtain/banner-sewn, tested, ironed, packed (thanks Mom for all the help!)

imageBOOKS! Organized and packed

Table covers, night covers, bookmarks organized and packed (thanks Mom for all the help!)

Me at a previous convention

Me at a previous convention

Promotional giveaways; pencils, suckers, business cards, temporary tattoos, GOT FROG? Buttons; attached to appropriate info cards and packed

Extra giveaways packed

Index cards and pens for filling out giveaway entries bought and packed

Containers for giveaways selected, packed

image

Artwork for price list and enter to win drawing (completed by Hubby, and way awesome by the way) framed and packed

Poster Ad framed and packed (again thanks to the Husband for helping me get this done without breaking glass or my fingers)

Giveaway/drawing box completed, decorated and packed

Snacks for at table, water bottles, drink mixes, breakfast-y items for morning, bought, packed (because convention food isn’t always good and is generally expensive. I always hope to be pleasantly surprised.)

Laundry/Packing clothing and personal effects

Housesitter/Cat Sitter/Mail picker upper; lined up

Cleaning the house (or at least the downstairs) before going on the trip

As you can see, I’m actually in pretty awesome shape at the moment. And yet, I’m still fussing about things that aren’t done. My husband is shaking his head at me, because we still have gobs of time to get it all done, and I’m fussing that we’re going to run out of time. He’s trying hard to get things done closer to my schedule, and I’m trying hard not to ask why it’s not done already. Ah, the joys of compromise in marriage!

We’re gonna have a blast. I’m looking forward to this so much. And I can’t wait to share it with him.

 

Progress Report January

On this, the third full week of January…where am I at on these goals for 2015?

Without further ado, and in no particular order…

  • Finish THE BUNYAN BARTER. Well, I am writing like a maniac and closing in on the end, but not done yet…good thing I’ve still got a week to go!
  • Edit SHADES OF GRAY. Not on my radar yet until after January. Have been discussing with Hubby the need for cover art, edits, and have been talking to another author about interior formatting. More as I figure this out.
  • Finish GIRL VERSUS DEMON: DEMON DEADLY SINS. Not on my radar yet until after January.
  • Research THE PERRAULT VOW. Not on my radar yet until after January.
  • SEKRIT PLAN #1. Working on it.
  • Blog at least once a week. This counts…so I’m still on it!
  • Work out on a regular basis. Hauling books into the house, taking inventory for 2015, reorganizing everything for upcoming appearances, and repacking the car, and then unloading and reloading for my first event of the year counts, doesn’t it?
  • Bathroom remodel. We are actually going this weekend to look at faucet fixtures or a light/vent fan combo. We’ll see what we see and see what prices we can find. Is it sad that date night is dinner and Home Depot?
  • Write at least two new short stories. Too many ideas popping up while on deadline for something else…needs to stay off my radar for me until after January.
  • Plant some roses. Where are my gardening gurus? I’d like pink or red flowers, possibly sweetheart roses. I’ve had roses in containers before, so I get that these aren’t the easiest, but what would you recommend for fairly low (relatively speaking) maintenance in a small yard?
  • SEKRIT PLAN #2. Will have to happen if #1 happens. And yes, this is another remodeling project in the house. We have the paint. That’s as far as we’ve gotten.
  • SEKRIT PUBLISHING NEWS AND THE WORK BEHIND IT. Will have to keep you updated as I can; this is not yet in stone, and is still in flux, but the work it will take to do this will be in the to do list.

So, it doesn’t seem to look like a lot of progress yet, but progress is being made. Once I get through January, you might see a bit more accomplished.

Until then, keep your hands and arms back, and provide the writer on deadline with a continuous IV of coffee!

Upcoming Events

I mentioned something to the Husband the other day that I felt like I wasn’t scheduling that much for this year for appearances and events.

He asked me what I was talking about.

I listed off the four events I’d absolutely committed to and the three local events I was planning to attend if I could. That’s seven appearances. That’s not a small amount of places to be.

Last year, I did eleven. Which is why it seems like it’s light this year. It’s really not. I have to remind myself of that. And, of course, I’m still in flux for appearances at the end of the year, and some of that will depend on the Sekrit Planz that are on my 2015 goals list; they could conceivably turn schedules upside down at that point. It’s making me nuts that I can’t commit to things just yet, but hey, that’s the way my life is these days.

The events I’m committed to are as follows;

BookFest at IceFest                        January 17, 2015 10 am-4 pm      Hamilton, Ohio (Ryan’s Tavern)

Wizard World Cleveland               February 20-22, 2015                     Cleveland, Ohio (Convention Center)

Cleveland Concoction                    March 13-15, 2015                           Cleveland, Ohio (Sheraton at Airport)

Origins Game Fair                            June 3-7, 2015                                Columbus, Ohio (Convention Center)

More to come as things start to firm up for the year; if I’ve done this right, I think I might have been able to schedule events such that I’ll have no events during The Boy’s spring soccer/track season.

Life’s going well, but busy, as my nose is totally to the grindstone working on THE BUNYAN BARTER. Not a lot of news to report, other than putting up schedule and seeing what’s going on.

 

Thank You All For an AWESOME Birthday!

WOOHOO!!!!!

Guys, you’ve made me soooooo happy by downloading lots and lots of copies of THE GRIMM LEGACY. Sales rankings looked pretty awesome. I hope you enjoy it. IF YOU DO…go get books two and three…I think you’ll like them too!

LOTS of people ask me at book events and conferences whether the book is safe for pre-teens. I will tell you that YES it is…depending on the pre-teen. The Boy read the first book at 12. At that point, he’d already seen The Hunger Games (movies, that is, he’s reading the book now), and I always tell people that there’s more violence in The Hunger Games than in my books. There might be a tad more kissing in the books, but it’s pretty limited. I’d say it’s pretty young adult safe. The characters are definitely more worried about the latest magical going-to-eat-their-faces-off-before-breakfast type of evil than their love lives, although there’s plenty of romance and drama there, too.

I’ve also ordered some promotional buttons. I’ve still got three appearances coming up this year. Will post a picture when I get them; I totally love them. THANK YOU to Kelly Shorten, the art director at Musa, for humoring my wild-hair idea and turning it into something pretty neat.

A lot of people asked me what I did to celebrate my birthday besides giving away a bunch of free books. I’ve put this on Facebook, but I’ll repeat here…

My husband brought me coffee in bed…which he does quite a lot! I got donuts and cookies from Schuler’s Bakery in Urbana from co-workers. YUM! I spent all day at work, and got home to find a DOZEN RED ROSES from my wonderful, loving, husband. HE ROCKS, and NO, I’m NOT sharing…he’s MINEMINEMINEMINEMINE!!! (LOL) He and The Boy had a card for me, there was one from my mother and father…I had phone calls wishing me a happy birthday from Mom and Grandma, text messages from my sister and my dad. We headed off to The Boy’s soccer game…and my in laws presented me with a cake with Cinderella and her pumpkin carriage on it! I’m not a girly girl…but I loved it!

So…I had a pumpkin cookie for breakfast and cake for dinner yesterday. Not exactly health food, but definitely a good day of celebrating. Need to get some vegetables and healthy stuff in here soon…

A friend took me out for lunch today for my birthday, and I get to go out for a girl’s night tonight with another friend…then a weekend with my guys…

I’d say that’s an awesome birthday.

Oh, and…hint hint hint…it’s still up there for free on Amazon.

Life, Our Universe, and Everything..including a FREEBIE!

I realized that I forgot to actually say that The Boy really enjoyed his stay at soccer camp this summer at Ohio Northern University. It’s my alma mater, so it was really interesting to go up there and see all the things that have changed. Silly me, I’ve been up there to judge mock trial competitions in Hill building and the law school building several times over the years, but I haven’t gotten past those buildings to see the rest of the campus in a long time. The trees in the Tundra are much much taller and the residence halls are soooo much nicer; they’ve done a lot of work on campus. It’s changed a lot since I was there. Some of those were good changes; some were changes that weren’t unexpected, but I was disappointed to see the change.

We’re heavily into fall already, even though it’s only August. The Boy is running cross country this year, as well as playing for the Springfield Thunder soccer club, and starting seventh grade, so we’re a little nuts running to All The Event Things. The Boy, on the other hand, is vacillating between “I’m too hot and tired to eat,” and “EAT ALL THE FOOD THINGS!” Even so, we wouldn’t change it a bit.

Hubby and I haven’t had the Model T out much this year, because my wonderful husband hurt his foot pretty bad at the beginning of summer, and hasn’t been able to drive it. (Handy tip…when playing soccer, one is supposed to land on the BOTTOM of one’s foot, not the TOP). We are hoping to get a bit of driving in before the weather makes it impossible to do so.

We’re crazy busy around here, but that hasn’t stopped us from going together to Fandom Fest in Louisville, KY, attending the Champaign County Fair, and getting The Boy ready for school. I’m constantly staring at a computer a lot, working the day job, the part time job, the private cases, and, of course, working on two different novel projects. AND…trying to blog more often. I need to get better at this, I know.

ALSO my birthday is TOMORROW….and for TOMORROW ONLY I’ve signed up with my publishers for a FREEBIE DAY. I’m giving YOU a present to celebrate my birthday. TOMORROW ONLY you can get THE GRIMM LEGACY in ebook for FREE!!

That’s right. FREE. Check it out. And then, once you’re totally in love with Bert, Janie, Aiden, Mia, and the rest, check out books two and three.

 

 

 

Convention Season is Here!

So…still have lots of plans hanging out in the air, but boy have I been busy!

I’m in the midst of edits on THE WONDERLAND WOES…due for release from Musa Publishing this year. This is book three of my series, that started with THE GRIMM LEGACY.

I’m also deep in the soggy middle (as every writer thinks of the middle of a manuscript) of a yet-to-be sold anywhere novel. More later…as I get the thing finished! I’ve been working on it off and on for a long time, but it keeps getting shunted aside as contracted deadlines always take precedence.

I’m working the full time job and the part time job.

And when not working…we are planning our garden for this year. The Boy and I have planted 144 plants in trays from seed, in order to try to grow a few vegetables and herbs and to save on the marigolds I buy every year (they help control the mosquitoes in the back yard, and when you have a goldfish pond, anything to cut down on the mosquitoes in the summer is a good thing!) The Boy is getting geared up for spring soccer, and we have been doing various home improvement project around the house. Husband is starting to itch to get his Model T out for the spring, but until the weather gets more consistent, it’s staying where its at.

But the biggest thing to explode is my schedule…and that’s not a bad thing! It’s time for conferences!

My first one of the year is Millenicon, which starts tomorrow.

My schedule is as follows;

Friday      9 pm   Fantasy vs. Dark Fantasy vs. Horror

Saturday 1 pm  Storytelling in Three Acts

Saturday  4 pm Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading

Sunday      12 noon Once Upon a Time in Millenicon

More appearances to come…as things get firmed up!