Winter Checklist 7

Lessee, what did I do today? I’m sure I must’ve done something to get to 14,129 steps and 67 active minutes.

1.  GOT UP EARLY. My doctor’s appointment was at 07:30. Getting there counts as an accomplishment. I know many people are at work before that hour of the AM every day, but I am not one of them. So I drank lot of extra Scottish Breakfast tea, and took advantage of being out & about during hours I would be sleeping to get a lot of errands run.

2.  What kind of errands? I bought all the things in the world. (Not really, but it felt like that and filled up my wee tiny car.)  At one point I sent Spouseman a text  saying, “At Target, waiting for Costco to open so I can do the pantry-foods restock. Not impulse-shopping tho.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Big lie. Is it possible to visit Target without impulse shopping? Not for me. No guilt though,  since I only impulse-shop sale items that are either shelf-stable consumables or already on a needs list. Still, I had to smile when the cashier went all poker-faced looking at my cart. A snow shovel, a Christmas sweater with a llama on it, drain cleaner, a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats, a pack of metallic Sharpies, Tostitos, cat treats, and a leather belt. Among other things.

(I am not listing all the errands I ran or things bought because oy. It was just groceries and etc, but…So. Much Etc.)

3.  Getting stuff is only half the battle. By the time I got home and carried All The Things in, unboxed & put everything away, cleaned up the debris, and finished all re-organization that goes along with seasonal Big Purchases Day, I was exhausted & hungry.

4.   So I made myself a festive, celebratory lunch of New Snack Foods & Fresh Fruits.

4.5 And a fresh pot of tea. See: point #1.

5. Performed some overdue authoring maintenance and posted “I sell books” reminders to social media. And thing happened that’s never happened before: it resulted in a sale.  (I mean, I’m sure sales sometimes happen as a result, but immediately?  For the title I promoted? That’s unprecedented. And a happy thing.)

5. I also did make an itsy-bitsy bit of progress in Ghost Town between lunch and library time. And based on past performance, I’ll finish the short-story verbing project tonight before bed.

6. Oh, by the way, if anyone is wondering why I waste time blogging instead of getting more writing done, welllllll. It’s simple. I can blog while dead tired & distracted by other activities, so it’s easy to dash these off in the half-hour or so while supper is cooking.  Writing while supper is cooking is a Bad Idea. That way lies ruined food and charred pots at best. Creative immersion is…not compatible with worldly attention. So that’s a thing I don’t do.

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures later this week.
(I meant to be a hermit all month long, but life has decided otherwise. Good times.)

 

Winter Checklist 6

It’s been a few days. I haven’t done many productive things, but I have done GOOD things, and HAPPY-MAKING things. (And a few not-so happy things too, because life.)

1.  Decorated the house. Holiday stuff takes up a lot of space in boxes, but it doesn’t fill up a lot of actual home. Hanging garland took the most time. Spouseman helped, and fun was had. We have room for more lots more lights on the walls, but the stores are already out of stock on the brands of LEDs with white cords I prefer. Noted on the October calendar for next year.

2. Ordered a new Christmas tree. We’ve been nursing along an old artificial tree for a couple of years, (I think it’s like 7 or 8 years old all told) and it’s time to accept that it’s long past the end of its life span. So to speak. (Dustier every year. Branches without needles. Broken branches. A Pisa-like list to one side…)

I’d love to have a “real” tree, but I’m a snot who only wants an actual fresh-cut one, not one that was harvested months ago then shipped dead and dry. We went with a company my Dad highly recommends. New toy tree will come pre-lit with MOAR LED LIGHTS IN MANY COLORS. That alone will be exciting.  I’ll report further once it’s delivered.

3. Had myself a downtown travel adventure day. Discovered a new pie place. This is excitement in my life. I also got fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and holiday gifts. Visited with a good friend, and met some neat new people.

4. I made a doctor appt for tomorrow morning. Go me, using the phone & everything. Why doctor? Because ugh, I’ve been doing the “watchful waiting” gig on a sinus infection for weeks, hoping it would clear on its own. But no. It gets a little better, then comes back worse. Headache, facial pain, sense of smell affected, and now I have pressure in my ears too.  Decongestants & antihistamines don’t touch it. I can’t fool myself any longer.

Bracing to be to told the usual bullshit about antibiotics being over-prescribed, probably viral, come back in 2-6 more weeks blah blah blah JUST GIVE ME SOME FERSHLUGGINER AMOXYCILLIN DAMMIT. Or Augmentin. Or even a Z-pack. *SIGH*

5. Got the last rejection for promotional ads I’d put in for Rough Passages. (Not shocked, the slots fill fast this time of year, and I was slow off the mark.) My dilemma now is, go still run a sale or not? It costs nothing to set up, but why bother when marketing is what gets me readers, not low prices?

That isn’t self-rejection. My personal reach is saturated. Reaching 30 pre-orders for Rough Passages took weeks of relentless, creative, well-shared social media work.  I have neither time nor spoons for that right now. I’d rather be writing.

6. So, because things #4 & #5 were not happy things, I am making comfort foods like crazy.  Today I have committed garlic bread & slow-cooked pepper chicken, plus more cherry cheater-cobbler. Yesterday there was bacon for breakfast. Bread is planned.

7. And part of the holiday prep involved going through the sticker/pin/lanyard collection I’ve been accumulating for a few years now. They’re sorted and the pins are on display. So shiny.  That’s another happy.

8. Also I have sorted loads of DVDs into binders. It’s my contribution to the Clear Out The Basement project. Tonight I start the last genre to be sorted: action/scifi-fantasy-horror/thrillers. Left that one for last because it’s the one most likely to result in distraction and viewing.

That’s it. This one turned into a bit of a rant-vent fest, but hey, that’s a thing I do sometimes too. So it’s valid.

Onward to tomorrow.

Winter Checklist Five

1. Haircut!  I did the usual “walk-over-to-the-nearby-salon-on-impulse” thing I do when I can’t deal with the stress of using the phone but also can’t stand my hair for one more moment. I go in expecting to make an appointment for the next day.

But lo, luck was with me! The wonderful stylist who used to cut my hair a zillion years ago is BACK. So my gray and mousy hair is buzzed short with perfect cowlicks, and I have a sample size of mauve temp color to play with. I will apply that in a week or two. There will be pics.

2. Researched & ordered accessories for my laptop, whose HDMI display connector gave up the ghost today. It’s over 5 years old, so not a shocker. Good thing I have other ports available. They aren’t HDMI ones, but hey, any port in a pinch, so to speak. I had to determine which adapters would be best and locate a source. And that’s DONE.

3. Laundry. ALL THE DIRTY CLOTHES OMG. Swear to gobs, it’s never-ending.

4. Paid bills. Yay, adulting win. So exciting.

5. Procrastinated the grocery shopping. I can live without yogurt until Saturday when I have to go out. But I made a list. Okay, sort of a list. I took pictures of the fridge & pantry shelves so I don’t buy what I already have. That counts, right?

6. Posted a picture of my festive holiday socks online. It will not be the last sockpost.

7. Did my strength & stretch exercises for hips and elbows even though OW DO NOT LIKE.

8. Read about historic architecture and modern off-grid living and the science of super-storms, because internet.

9. Gave the cat lots of attention and took his picture.

10. And yes, I wrote a little.  I would have written more, but for my screen going terrifyingly blank mid-sentence and then losing Too Much Time verifying that the fault lay in the computer port, not the cable or the monitor.

I’m taking the evening off from productivity anyway. Ghost Town and Sharp Edge will just have to be patient until tomorrow.

That’s two days in a row the list has had ten items. Coincidence? Well…yes, actually.

 

Random thoughts from today

Goldfinches announce every bite of seed they take from the feeder with loud cheerful chirps like bright peeps of sunshine. I will never stop enjoying the sound of them.

Still growing: the list of states in which at least one of my books is in at least one library. Woot!  Up to five. WA, CA, IL, WI, and OH.  There may be more I can’t see, because not all libraries use the same systems, but hey. That’s 10% of the states out there.

Open suggestion: when offering your name to someone who has to type it or write it down, please say it first as a whole word before you spell it out. It can’t hurt and often helps. Context improves accurate interpretation. Listening is hard.

I broke down and bought a second bird feeder today. So I have finches & mixed-species sparrow flocks in the front yard AND the back.

Sorry for the silly post title. I haven’t found a clever phrase that boils down to a good abbreviation or acronym. Random Thought Not Posted Elsewhere? Nah.  RTNPE still doesn’t roll off the tongue.

I’m an author, so it’s necessary to let people know about my work, but wow, I get tired of saying, BY THE WAY, I WRITE AWESOME BOOKS, YOU CAN BUY & READ THEM. It’s exhausting. Maybe a tee-shirt might be the way to go. Maybe “Ask me about my books,” on the front, and “Can I show you my books,” on the back?

My. Cat. Is. HOWLING. Again.

I’ve crossed 45k words in my Ghost Town WIP (Savvy Chicago detective & her great-great-great grandfather reconnect when she moves back home to become police chief of the small Illinois town he once governed. Tagline: she’s new, he’s dead, together they can solve any mystery.  It’s the first book I’ve figured out how to pitch before finishing it.

Still aiming for 70k by the end of the month. <falls over howling with laughter.> If I even get close it’ll be in large part because I impulse post here rather than elsewhere.

Movie night: Rampage. So much silly fun.

Annnnd, that’s a wrap.

Hello, it’s me.

(No, I don’t have a new kitten. I just like cat pictures.)

As soon as I got home from Dragon Con, I put my Facebook & Twitter passwords into the hands of my trusted Spouseman. If anyone noticed a drop in activity on Twitter or my near-total absence on Facebook (I doubt it, but I want to be thorough) that’s what’s up.  I’m getting a lot done offline these days. TONS. It feels great.

I’ve also been thinking a bit about my social media presence.

Fair warning to recent followers: I’m not good at “Maintaining a Social Media Presence” in the ways most book marketing gurus still recommend.

My feeds are not well-curated.  I put online whatever filters through the unreliable sieve of my impulses. I take loads of unmodified food, yard, and cat pictures, post moody observations about my writing fails and flails, log in whatever I’ve collected from pop culture, and indulge in random outbursts of joy, frustration, and/or existential angst.

My Personal Brand, such as it is, might best be described as Flaky Eclectic.

Yes, I have been asked the question, “Why spend time on social media at all, then, especially on a blog, if not to aid in your authorial endeavors?”

Simple answer: it’s what I do. I am a diarist. Not a regular nor a diligent one, perhaps, but the shoe fits. I think things, and I record them. I was blogging for years before I tackled the wacky task of publishing a novel.  This website blog is still more of a life record than a promotional tool.

I’ve been writing random notes to an invisible, possibly imaginary audience a lot longer than that–ever since the day I was living independently and nothing I wrote could be used against me (The potential for judgment horrified me–the idea of my ideas or my emotions being corrected was unbearable.)

ANYway. I’ve been over that fear for a long time. Pretty sure my dad reads my blog, even. (HI, DAD! LOVE YOU!)  My me-ness is well settled in ways that it wasn’t when I was younger. The field in which my fucks are sown is barren, etc, etc, and all that.

BUT I DIGRESS. As I do. Short form: I post stuff online because it’s my way of affirming my existence. No more, no less. I write, so a lot of my posts are about writing, but this is not and never will be a writing blog, nor will it be a pretty one full of promotional perkiness.

My life is not interesting. I rarely have vibrant insights. I won’t solicit much interaction online–too much social contact, even at a distance, even online, wears me out & leaves me paranoid even though I crave attention as much as any other creator. So I will come and go, flit and hermit, all quite unpredictably. (Contradictions-R-Us, hello.)

In short, and belatedly, you’ll be disappointed if you expect me to be entertaining. My books  are entertaining. They’re full of really cool people having exciting, amazing, occasionally painful adventures. Me? Not so much.

This brings us to the end of another mostly meandering post.  Next one will be all about media consumption. I’ve gotten loads of reading done!

 

 

 

 

Doing Author Things

I know you’re all dying to know my plans for the year. Here this the summary:  I’m going to attend a bunch of conventions! Mostly in the Midwest, but a few further afield.

The spring schedule got full quickly:

  • CapriCon 38 Wheeling IL February 15-18. Attending as an author. Panels & reading confirmed.
  • Deep Dish Science Fiction Reading: Thursday March 1 at Volumes BookCafe. I’m penciled in, I’ll share more details as soon I get them.
  • ConCoction Cleveland OH March 9-11 Attending as an author. Panels & reading confirmed.
  • C2E2 Chicago IL April 6-8. I’ll be there Friday & Sunday, possibly part of Saturday as well. Doing what? not sure yet. My pro application is being processed. If that doesn’t get accepted, I’ll still go, just as a fan.
  • Nebula Awards Conference Pittsburgh PA May 17-20. No, I’m still not a member of SFWA. This one’s all about learning & professional development. And the Nebula  Awards ceremony of course.

I wanted to do MiniCon and/or WisCon too…but neither of those is in the scheduling cards this year. Family first, finances second, timing third. I can’t make it work.

At some point in the next week I must decide WHAT AM I GOING TO READ AT THESE READINGS?  I need multiple 5-7 min excerpts from either published works or works-in-progress. At 130 words per minute, that’s about 900-1000 words each.  Suggestions welcomed. First chapters are the default, but from panels & classes I’ve taken, I  would be better off pulling other scenes I can voice better.

Why do I have to decide so soon? So I can practice. Not because I’m nervous, no.  I am the weird introvert who is infinitely more comfortable standing up in front of groups than talking face-to-face. I have to practice because once upon a time I did competitive public speaking, and I was drilled to never EVER stand up unprepared. Dramatic Interpretation (Duo) and Original Oratory both required me to memorize 5-8 minutes worth of words. Reading should be a comparative cakewalk once I work through the material a few times.

ANYway. More author stuff. After my packed spring comes summer.

I’m aiming to attend GenCon in Indianapolis IN  August 2-5 as a pro or a vendor, and I WILL be back at DragonCon in Atlanta GA again this year. That’s August 29-September 4. I’ll be working in the Armory for certain and hopefully doing panels and selling books too.

I could possibly fit in one more summer convention. Not sure what, where or when. Or if, frankly.  Budgetary concerns come into play. And time. And brainspace.

There are family visit plans in the squishy-maybe stages, I’m still ambivalent about aiming for some fall conventions. Might or might not do WindyCon again.  I’m open to other ideas. (although as you all know, I am all about asking for suggestions and then ignoring them) plus I am dying to get out to NY to visit the fabulous Camp Little Notch someday and autumn might be a beautiful time for that…

I dunno. That’s a long way off. I have February through April planned. That’s a big step for me. One scary leap at a time.

In other author things:

My cozy-mystery-with-family-ghost manuscript is moving along well, working title Ghost Town. (don’t get attached to it. That will NOT be its final title, just like “Carl Finally Gets Some Action” became Turning The Work) It’s well behind schedule but progress is steady in its tortoise-like way.

Heartwood is in revision and shaping up nicely. Also behind schedule, but I would rather be late & good than early but unpolished.

And that is that.

Habitica & Me

True confession part 1: I love productivity tools & time management toys. Daytimers, to-do lists, reminder programs, bullet journals, planners, calendars, I adore them all.

True confession part 2: I never use them. Every tool designed to get life organized requires its own maintenance. They all add layers of structure and labor atop the labor involved in completing the actual tasks, which is the last burden I need when I’m already struggling to Do The Work.

Purgatory is having “keep track of work” be its own job on top of all the other jobs. Not only do I have to feel guilty for not getting the bathroom cleaned (for example) but I have to feel guilty about either a) putting it on the list and failing to check it off,  b) failing to even get the task onto a list or c) losing the list AND not getting The Thing done.

Then there’s the hassle of going through all the work of making new lists that look just like the old lists, bulleting all the usual points over and over, copying last week’s reminders onto this week’s sheet…over and over again, day after week after month…

<weeps from sheer exhaustion>

Enter Habitica.com, the only productivity toy I’ve ever used longer than a week.  I love this thing. I love it with a full and overflowing heart, so much so that I recommend it to total strangers. It’s free, and it works. Yes, FREE.

What is it? It’s the gamification of getting things done, and for me, it’s the best reminder/planning/to-do thingie EVER. Mileage varies, always, but this is my space, so Imma tell you all about why I love it.

FULL DISCLAIMER: I do not use Habitica.com at anything like its full capacity.  I don’t even play the actual game part, (I haven’t played a video game since Spyro the Dragon was cool)  and there is a whole social media support element I avoid with every social avoidance bone in my body. They look really useful and fun, but they aren’t for me.

One of the things that makes Habitica special is that (unlike other similar apps) it does not penalize me for going my own way.  I can use the bits I like and ignore the rest, and it still works perfectly. It  does everything I need it to do and does it with style.

Basically I am the little old lady who drives back and forth to the grocery store in a Ferrari.

There’s a website plus phone & tablet apps, so you always have access to your toolkit and your lists and so on. The integration is seamless, and they all use a goofy, adorable 8-bit graphic interface.  It has all the game trappings that make a thing fun, from a cute avatar I can dress to demonstrating success by leveling up.

For me it works because it divides Things Needing Doing into three categories: Habits that I do a lot (or want to do a lot, or want to STOP doing a lot)  but not necessarily on a schedule, “Dailies,” meaning anything I should do on a regular, repeated basis–whether it’s changing a water filter once a month, vacuuming the house every 9 days, sending in a quarterly report,  or getting in 10k steps daily–and To-Dos with or without a specific due date.

Tasks I add to each of those categories are infinitely personalizable.   The set-up offers all the usual sub-categories like Work, Health, etc, but I created my own too (whimsy, f’rex) and I don’t have to use any of their starter ones. Then I assign each task as trivial/easy/medium/hard, which determines how much I gain for getting it done.

Completing tasks gets me gold, experience points, and magical mana, plus a random chance at things like hatchable pet eggs, potions, and foods for pets.  All those rewards are  designed for the game aspect, but I don’t care. Seeing a bar go up and hearing that alert chime is a lovely nerotransmitter hit. Plus I do enjoy hatching the pets and feeding them.

The best part? I never have to REDO or REMEMBER a regular task.  Dailies reset and keep track of themselves, and Habits sit there patiently to be clicked or not.  And you can change your mind on things, even the nature of a task. I recently created a Buy Food task in the Habit column  because I noticed I kept putting it in as a to-do once a week.

Habitica takes all the tedious, time-consuming bookkeeping out of my hands, and every day presents me with a tidy page of check boxes. No mess, no fuss, no worry about forgetting.  I’m outsourcing much of the time-management emotional labor and stressful physical upkeep to the app. Ahhhhhhh, freedom.

Not doing Dailies dings my health and mana, as does clicking on negative habits.  The task is color-coded too, based on how successful I’ve been at getting them done.   But I can buy magic healing potions as rewards with my gold–so getting credit for succeeding at ANY thing takes some of the sting out of failing a specific thing. It nicely reinforces the idea that I don’t have to be perfect to deserve goodness.

I can create rewards too — I put “check sales” and “peek at Facebook feed” down as bad habits but ALSO use them as rewards that cost a certain amount of gold so I can give myself a guilt-free treat for completing something else. It also means if I want to avoid recording a bad habit backslide, I can pay for the privilege. So to speak.

If I have a big project to monitor, I might make To-dos, Dailies AND Habits for it.  Thus, ‘open WIP” is on my Dailies, I get to click on a plus and earn points every time I work on it for at least an hour, and if I have a scene to complete or a particular goal I want to reach, I’ll add that as a To-Do.

In summary, I love Habitica. Did I mention it’s free?  (It’s FREE!)

Full disclosure, I eventually coughed up the cash for an annual subscription, but not because I was missing any features. Subscribing was just my way of showing pocketbook appreciation for all the hard work involved in developing and maintaining the program. I’m using it, I can afford to pay a reasonable fee, and so I did.

And yeah, I also got subscriber “gifts” and a stash of gems that let me buy treats for my pets. Because PETS AND POTIONS.

 


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on my website on this page 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn