Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Phrase Your Response in the form of a Question

I’ll take Hermie and the Hermits for $1600.

     These are the only two things I have energy for at the moment.

What are home improvement and my job?

     Right. Go again.

Matt and I were up at Lowe’s the other night. Again. For what this time, you might ask? Oh, just bits and pieces of intermittent project stuff.

We’re trying to get a slow roll going on the laundry room completion. So far plumbing is done, insulation is done, dryer vent is installed. Drywall behind the appliances should happen Thursday night via Matt. I’ll be spackling Friday morning before our new appliances get here that afternoon.

Over this weekend framing goes up. Next weekend walls and door should be finished.

If we had weeks off to get this thing done, we’d just place the order for everything we need, have it forklifted into the garage and would likely already be halfway done with everything. Including the backyard.

But we both have day jobs so there are still swatches of paint gracing our master bathroom walls, lack of drywall in some places, and twenty some-odd cabinets in my living room still packed in cardboard just waiting to be installed.

Someday.

In good news, the book is really shaping up and I’m pretty excited to get this one into the hands of my beta readers then get her on the market. I have all kinds of new marketing strategies lined up to try after this book gets released and I’m kind of chomping at the bit.

Work is one thing going stellar right now. I feel like a garden hose with the spigot closed. Almost like I know that as soon as Reckless Mind is released there’s going to be a torrent of new work following. Now that I think about it, that is what’s going to happen. I actually have 2 titles in final stages of completion aside from Mind.

The fall is going to be very fun at work.

Thing is, all of this home “improvement” (<-- yes those are air quotes because I feel mixed about how much improvement comes with “improvement” sometimes) is a blessing and a curse.

Once everything is finished this is going to be the most functionally beautiful home either of us have ever lived in. But getting there is a huge challenge for me. Because I work in this chaos too.

Which, admittedly, has made my life a little bit tougher for the past few months. For a while I was still riding on the St. Lucia high of inspiration. I had no trouble writing through and not noticing all this stuff.

But the stuff is starting to overwhelm. Because its everywhere. And I’m stuck inside with every last zip-tie, floating piece of loose cellulose, and pile of stuff-to-yet-be-installed.

We’re heavy into Phoenix summer now, all I want to do is have a pool party and chill out, but there has to be somewhere to put people before we can invite them over.

Two kitchen’s worth of cabinets and temporary storage solutions that belong in the garage take up lots of space.

And that means they’re taking up mental space too. Time to wrap it up!

But then, of course, I come full circle to the day job thing.

We’re weekend warriors. But we’re weekday warriors too. Matt and I are the 100% into our job type of people. Work hard, play never ends up becoming the motto around here. We’re both exhausted.

But the way I see it, we’re on the home stretch.

By the end of August our lives will be a whole lot freer. My book will be out, the laundry room will be complete, and we should be putting finishing touches on our kitchen reno by then, too.

It might be 8/31/2016 but by god it will be August.

I’ve got our project managed in a details, budget, and cost spreadsheet. We know each step and cost before we get there. Hey, all those years working in/with construction and school for interior design are finally getting put to good use! This project is managed to the penny just like the last phase and so far we’re directly on track.

Just wish weekends could be 5 days long.

As for Reckless Mind, she’s almost there. Though it may not seem that way when I go back over the list of what still needs to be done.

Final red pen edits, beta readers, more edits, jacket copy, barcode, ISBN, copyright page, Library of Congress deposit, cover art approval, marketing blurbs, social media/online updates, amazon pre-order set up, final formatting, marketing, advertising, promotion…

So, yeah. The only energy I have left these days is for watching Jeopardy!

But we’re going to have the most kick-ass pool party in September.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Making Decisions, Maybe

I’m standing in my office, the time is just after 8:00 in the morning. For the first time in what feels like forever I have an entire day to do my job. No contractors. No household / domestic distractions. Just work.

Hell, I can’t even do laundry since the dryer isn’t hooked up yet. (I mean, I can but it takes ages to sort everything after the wash and hang it all on hangers from the shower curtain rod, laziness shall prevail.)

So, I’m in my office at my standing desk doing the one thing that allows me to procrastinate on my job without feeling too bad about shanking it on fiction editing:

Writing this blog post.

Hey, at least I’m still putting words on the page. Even if they aren’t the desired words.

I go through something similar to this every time I write a book. And I justify the break in momentum by calling it my “process” or that “stepping away is a good thing because I can come back refreshed.”

Please.

I’m writing this right now, aren’t I? So technically that means I don’t have to abandon writing in order to work within my process.

Calling it “the writing process” is really just a fancy way of saying “I just did a lot of work developing entire worlds, people, out of absolutely nothing so my brain needs a fucking vacation and no I really don’t care that I just took a vacation 6 weeks ago because I need this.”

Picture back of hand on forehead, woe is me, overdramatized pity party. Because apparently that’s exactly where I’m at right now.

But it’s high time that I get shit back in gear.

I typed ‘The End’ on draft 1 over 3 freaking weeks ago. Between construction madness, contractor chaos, and general life needs, I’ve managed to do everything other than work on my book for the past three weeks.

Either of my books.

You see, I wrapped draft 1 on two manuscripts this summer – Reckless Mind book 3 in my Shaw McLeary Mystery Series, and Carol + Chad 4-eva! Book 1 in my soon-to-be launched California Dreamin’ Series.

I wanted Reckless Mind to be released this past March. I even put it on business cards I ordered last fall that it would be out in March.

Oops.

Turns out, March was the time I needed to open a new document and start the entire manuscript over from word one because the thing just wasn’t working out.

And now the finished draft is doing its own version of tubing down the Salt River on some hot day in July. It is having too much damn fun getting drunk and sunburned, shirking responsibility, to realize it still has work to do.

Put down the beer, manuscript. We have a few more weeks to go before you get to just sit there doing nothing. That doesn’t happen until after I post you for sale on Amazon. Sheesh, learn the order of things would you?

This is the part where I always seem to struggle. I know I have to edit now. I know this is supposed to be the fun part. I also know this is the time to get excited because I’m so close to release.

But like any dedicated author knows this is also the dreaded time of conundrum.

As authors we tend to run around saying things like: “I can’t wait to get this book done and finally out there, I’m just too afraid it won’t be good enough so I’m not sure I want anyone to read it!”

Walking conflict. That’s a writer for you.

I wonder if this shit ever fades?

Like, does James Patterson sit around secretly trying to decide if the book is good enough? If the story has enough tooth to really feel enjoyable to the reader? Or does he write so fluidly, effortlessly, after all these years that he’s long since let go of that fear and releases books with little to no drama?

Honestly, I hope to find out someday. Which of course means I have to release the freaking books, right? I mean, hello? Without more books I can never release more books.

Ugh. Stupid process.

Sure, it would be easy to blame my lack of action on the fact I have 23 kitchen cabinet pieces sitting in my living room, that my laundry area has no drywall/walls, or that I have contractors by the dozen in and out of this house either bidding or doing work.

But if I let those things distract me from finalizing either of these books for the market then I’m just a chump. Because it isn’t like this is my first rodeo. In fact when Reckless Mind is released (someday) it will be the fifth book self-published with my name on it.

Fifth!

Reckless Abandon and Reckless Hearts are already out there not being read by anyone new since their release.

I even have Creative Writing Kickstart on the Amazon shelves, collecting dust after the one copy I sold since it was released.

So why am I so hesitant to just sit down and edit this damn thing? Get it done. Release the fucker and be done with it so I can move on to the next project then finish that too?

As an old friend used to say, what’s my glitch?

Truthfully? I have no idea this time.

In the past it was fear – fear of what people would say about my writing, or worse, fear that nobody would say anything at all.

I’m not afraid that nobody will read it. I have all 10 of my loyal and awesome readers ready (begging me to release this one). And I know all 10 of those phenomenal people will also review the book for me.

I’m not afraid of what people will say. In fact, saying anything, even that you hate the thing, helps me out. Not a lie. All press is good press, right?

Truth be told, I can’t sit here all day writing this blog post. And I’ve rambled on for way too long already. So long, in fact, I’ve moved my location to the living room since starting to write this thing.

It’s time to do my real job now. It’s time to get over the inner procrastinator, put this post up, and start editing Reckless Mind.

See you all next time I feel the need to procrastinate.

So, maybe, tomorrow?

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In My Estimation

Well, I did it. Finally.

The first draft (AKA: fast and loose version that needs MAJOR editing) of Reckless Mind is done. Finito! Complete!

As a matter of fact, lots of stuff has happened over in my little corner of the world since getting back from vacation. Hence the long-ass absence (and right after I said I’d be writing over here more frequently, of course).

Today I was supposed to celebrate and reward my hard work by taking my 40% off coupon and doing some shopping. So, obviously, I’m sitting here writing up a blog post.

I’ll get to the store eventually.

When we arrived back on U.S. soil, my fingers were so ready to start typing again. For months I’d been struggling with that book. I’d literally started and stopped three times before opening a blank Word doc back in March and rebooting the damn thing starting over from word 1.

Now the manuscript is written and falling at just under 33K words.

Since returning from our tropical beach paradise vacation in early May I’ve penned 42,989 words of fiction across two completed draft 1 manuscripts.

Can I get a fuck yeah?

Normally I’m not one to rah-rah myself but I am mother fudging proud of myself for the first time in a long time. Because, no matter how much this story was sucking when I first tried writing it, I wouldn’t let myself give up on finishing it. And that means more to me than just about anything else right now.

Last night Matt said I was doing my own version of NaNoWriMo and he was right. I got all those words out in roughly 18 days of typing.

What the whaaaaaaat?

To be honest I didn’t even realize just how incredible this accomplishment was until I started doing the math. And I’m shooting to have both books edited, completed, and out by July/September. Plus, I have 2 other half finished manuscripts I plan to get to ‘The End’ before the end of this year.

Because my dedication level to myself, my work, my career is through the roof right now and I couldn’t be happier!

I woke back up while we were away. Or, at least, my inspiration was revived after a very, very long slumber. Because I can’t seem to stop now that I’ve set myself on this path of completion.

Ideas and words are flowing as smooth as the water in my pipes.

Speaking of which, in the midst of all this real work I’m also meeting with contractors because Matt and I are getting our renovation on again this summer.

We’re bringing the laundry inside and out of the garage (finally), installing a whole house filtration system, rebuilding our covered patio as a screened in porch, renovating the kitchen (FINALLY!!!), a shit-ton of landscaping and other yard stuff, and anything else we can fit into the budget.

Something I’m discovering about AZ and contractors though? Very easy to get call backs, not so easy to get someone to show up.

Matt called landscapers and handymen – all kinds of excited to come out and bid the jobs – and after 2 missed appointments we’re moving on to new landscapers. The handyman? Eager to talk about the job then poof! Disappeared before even setting an appointment.

As a girl who grew up in the land of General Contractors, has a GC for a dad, ran a faux finishing business, this attitude mystifies me.

Back in Boston the guys always showed up to a least look at the job. It was common knowledge that if a contractor looked at the project and they found it would be too much for them, that they didn’t want the job for whatever reason, they’d quote some outrageous price to do the work. But they never, ever didn’t show up to bid.

At least in my experience.

But out here? Matt and I have asked for estimates from numerous contractors in various specialties and have been met with the returning sound of crickets.

I don’t get it. We’re not talking installing a garbage disposal here. I don’t want someone to trim my 1 palm tree. We’re talking thousands of dollars’ worth of work, possible referral business, possible future business.

And, nothing?

That lack of responsiveness makes us want to do most of the work ourselves. But, frankly, I have a life to live and a job of my own. That faux finishing business didn’t involve roof repairs, patio rebuilds, skylight installs or irrigation line digging. I want to pay someone to do their job so I can continue doing my own.

So why is it so damn hard to find a contractor worth a damn anymore?

You remember we had the plumbing debacle back in October 2013? Well those plumbers did such a good job we asked them to come back and quote on this new work.

So the same guy showed up the same day I called and came out to look over the job – move laundry water/gas lines, install slop sink, loop hot and cold water to run through a filtration system. He sent me the quote with 2 different options (a softening system, or, a conditioning system) within a few hours of coming out.

Matt and I did some research on installing the loop, how it would impact plants if it tied into irrigation, as well as the systems he’d indicated they could install.

We weren’t sold on the need for the loop or system at this time. We researched more. We found a filtration system with lots of great ratings for water in AZ. One that was listed at about ¼ of the price of the very specific model they quoted. The filter system was discounted during a Memorial Day weekend sale so we bought it.

The same day, I wrote the plumber to ask him to hold off on the loop and system, just quote the rest.

Sure, he said. The pricing for individual items could change due to not being a “package deal” anymore, he said. I’ll get that quote out in the next day or so, he said.

I’m still waiting for that follow up quote.

The one I’ll likely never see from Mr. Rooter. Because I undercut the initial job by probably $4000. So, what? The job isn’t “worth it” to quote anymore? Is that it?

He saw the job numbers shrink by a lot and apparently lost my email even though he’d been mister responsive before when our job ballparked in at $6000. (yes I’m using ballpark as a verb)

Funny thing is that if he’d just done his job and got me the new quote like he said he would, Matt and I would have considered talking to them about doing the master bathroom.

But he blew it.

And that job would have put you back up into the 6k range, probably would have garnered referrals and who knows what else.

New contractors have been called, appointments scheduled, and no feelings of ours were hurt in the process.

Now, can I edit my books and release them before we get someone to actually show up and do this work in our house?

The race is on.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.