Category Archives: indie

Never Enough Sleep

"Hands up if you didn't get enough SLEEP ... LAST NIGHT" -Funny MedicinesMy fur clan was so thrilled to see me after I got home from the airport last night they had to check on me every hour or two all through the night. I missed them, too, but a randomized mix of nose nudges, kisses, and whines don’t put me in the best mood when it’s 6:30 and it’s the 5th time it’s happened. This, after a week of indulging my night owl tendencies and going to bed between 3-4AM… and getting up before noon. I’m feeling pretty wiped out today. Doesn’t help that I forgot to take my immune support nutraceuticals before spending the day on the planes so picked up a little bit of a cold.

So one of my new-find Facebook funnies pages came through with exactly the right image to sum up my life lately. Last week, too, there was widespread coverage about how much better off everyone would be if they slept longer and started their days later. I’m totally down with that, and have been lucky to have had a string of employers who allow me the flexibility of living a work schedule that more accurately reflects my natural (apparently genetically determined) circadian rhythm of sleep.

As anticipated, while visiting Gayla, I did less than half a mile a day of walking (around stores, for little things we regularly forgot, or around the horse barns taking care of horses), but I managed to cross off two major goals: I completed revisions and edits for both books 1 and 2 of my Red Slaves series and migrated the new files to distribution through Draft2Digital. If you’re an indie author and haven’t yet looked into them, they are AWESOME. Their text import/formatting for both .mobi and .epub files far outstrips what’s available at Smashwords in terms of ease of use and fidelity to the original, and in the three months since I’ve made the switch for all my other books, I’ve seen increased sales for my back catalog that have already outstripped what I had sold on Smashwords in three YEARS. Since my experience reflects Gayla’s as well, we both assume there’s something about the way Smashwords does its distribution that does not favor the visibility of books distributed via that catalog. I would be curious to hear whether anyone else has had a contrasting experience.

For my “what in the world are they thinking” files, the news this week that scientists are reviving a 30,000-year-old giant virus… Seems to me those guys might want to brush up on their scifi/fantasy reading, for object lessons from Jurassic Park, any zombiepocalypse stories, or even the slowpocalypse story by Tam Linsey I got to crit this spring, which is now through all its edits and available for sale.

I also began work on book 3. Incorporating crit partner feedback (and dealing with plot holes that became obvious after re-reading/editing the first 2 books) takes time. I don’t think I’m going to make the goal of finishing writing (& revising) book 3 by September 24th, which is the end of this year’s round 3 of ROW80, but I’m glad I’m at least back in the saddle with this story and making decent progress. I’m even over 300 words to the plus despite various cuts I’ve made in my latest draft. Now that all my travels are done (at least until next month when we return to WI for a family wedding), my schedule shouldn’t be such a mess that I can’t log the time to write. I’d certainly love to finally complete the story arc I started 3.5 years ago. Or 5 years ago, depending on whether you’re counting publish date or start-writing date.

Time on the various airplanes means I have a backlog of book reviews to write as well… But I’m putting those on hold in favor of my fiction for the moment. I don’t want to lose my little bit of momentum.


Until next week, then, I’ll be getting used to regular walks and a reliable writing schedule; in the meantime, see how my ROW80 cohorts are doing with their goals.

Far, Far Away

Physically, I'm here. Mentally, I'm far, far away.Once again I’m blessed to be checking in from Gayla’s. It’s strange to be here without having school assignments due. On the other hand, I can only blame myself for having offered to keep checking in with the office while I’m here… It’s oddly guilt-inducing for me to take a vacation two weeks after starting a new job, so I may be overcompensating.


On the other hand, I’m now a third of the way through my re-edit of book 1. I may actually finish this process while I’m here. So my head is somewhere in Russia with Anne and her dragons even though I’m enjoying similar kinds of interesting conversations with my normally long-distance friends to what I have experienced here before. It’s also very hot in Texas and we’re spending a lot of time on the porch, so I feel like I’m in a perpetual sauna on this vacation.


The walking hasn’t happened much this week, though hubs and I did manage a good, long one last Sunday for 2.9 miles before my travel schedule hit the second half of crazy. My phone tells me I’m averaging 1.7 miles per day this week just by wandering through town. On the other hand, I got to ride a horse for the first time this week without anyone holding the bridle for me … for two hours. I’m still recovering my sit bones and leg muscles, but we saw the most beautiful sunset, complete with sundogs. We went cross-country through farmland and rural roads and the apparently shocking rustle of corn husks… I got an unintended jog trot as my mount had to react to another horse deciding to shy after having successfully navigated 150 yards of said obstacle. Horses make for some interesting entertainment. At least my first outing didn’t have me eating the dirt at all. And Harriet will now always have a warm spot in my heart for having been an excellent introduction to horseback riding.

While I’ve been having fun, hubs is home with the furbabies, and still sending me interesting links. The latest, in honor of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s passing last week, had the following nugget:

My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than I used to be.

It’s a useful perspective as I wince at some of the things I’m correcting in my book… while wondering how the number of “a little”s made it through all the previous layers of editing. So I’ll be focused on finishing that task this week, letting all my other tasks slide. Meantime you can keep track of how my fellow ROW80ers are doing, and I’ll check back in next week from home.

Asking for Company

"How beautiful it is to find someone who asks for nothing but your company."Even though I planned ahead, last Sunday night didn’t result in nearly enough sleep to kick off my long week: Santino was determined to remind me he was In The House… ending at 1AM and starting up again at 5AM. So I started my new job with four hours of sleep, then ran off to the airport for a week of Death By PowerPoint. And Acronyms. Still, the project is interesting and my new colleagues fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a new set of professionals, as well as the strangely squeaky sand of Florida’s northern Gulf coast. It didn’t make me miss hubs or the furbabies any less, though, so when I saw today’s quote (typo and all), it reminded me of how blessed I am… I seem to be surrounded by people who really want to share time with me.

Best of all of them, my best best friend, my hubs. Who was more offended than I was when one of my fellow conference attendees mistook me for the wife of one of the participants. This particular gathering reflected truly the nature of women working in tech: Of 50 participants, 5 were women. On one level, I’m used to living this disparity. On another, I have to wonder at its pervasiveness. Two articles this week reflected on the issue from an historic perspective. The first, on BBC, spoke of ancient Sumerian times, when women were fully empowered. The second showed that fully half of all Vikings buried with swords and shields were women. Then there was the female author whose work was ripped off by an MRA idiot. (FYI – that last link is NSFW, and still worth the read.) It’s a whole new spectrum of and direction for “you’ve come a long way, baby,” and makes me wonder what my nieces will face when they enter the work force in the next ten years. I hope it’s not like what Sioux Indian Chief Standing Bear said sometime around the turn of the 20th century:

Civilization has been thrust upon me… and it has not added one whit to my love for truth, honesty, and generosity.

As for the writing and exercise components of my goals… Well. My phone says I averaged 2.14 miles walking/running (and my calves certainly felt the difference of walking in sand as opposed to doing so on concrete), but I only took two of those walks with hubs and Huskies this week. Because of that, I’m not sure exactly how many miles I clocked on the four actual/intentional walks I took. I also had even less alone time than I anticipated, since we went out for dinner as a group and stayed out late chit-chatting and becoming acquainted. So I didn’t even have my revision document open this week.

My reward for my long week away from home? A stay-at-home date night with hubs. We watched “About Time,” a film by Richard Curtis–of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually fame. It was moving and deceptively deep, and confirmed Curtis’ status in my book as a must-watch writer/director. He has the power to craft characters who are quirky and relatable, and I suspect I will be rewatching this multiple times to understand how his understated characters so thoroughly wormed their way under my skin. I will absolutely be working to implement the underlying message of the story, too: Live every day as if you have all the time in the world to enjoy even the littlest moments. “I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.” Or… “There’s a song by Baz Luhrmann called Sunscreen. He says worrying about the future is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life will always be things that never crossed your worried mind.”

This week will be as busy, but in an entirely different way. Monday through Wednesday morning will be work-related, with another overnight in a different state and a long day at a project kick-off conference. Wednesday night, then, I arrive at Gayla’s for 10 days of writers’ retreat fun. So I may actually make progress on my words later this week. I expect a reduction in the miles walked, too, since that’s just not how they roll in Texas.


Either way, I’ll report in again next Sunday, and hope you’ll visit my ROW80 buddies to see how they’re progressing.

The Value of Six Letters

"And suddenly you know: It's time to start something and trust the magic of beginnings." -Meister EckhartTomorrow my new adventure begins. Naturally, that means this past week was spent in the whirl of emotions of saying godspeed to trusted and admired colleagues–while my stomach kept yelling “what have you done?!” It turns out, I’ve never before turned in a letter of resignation, and I had the unanticipated, subconscious self-judgment that I was quitting/copping out just when my team needed me most. Since I’m NOT a quitter, this was the worst of the negative emotions associated with what is truly a thrilling opportunity for me. On the more positive end, it’s given me time to wax philosophical about the nature of the qualifications I’ve worked so hard to achieve over the past three years. In my heart, I feel like I could have done my new job five years ago; in my head, I know that credentials are an important element of proving fortitude for and commitment to a given path. As is the nature of such realizations, I gave one of my junior staffers the condensed version of the advice this boils down to: “Look at the people you trust in the positions you would like to someday hold, and pursue the certifications they currently have.” And then I overheard someone else say something very similar in an entirely unrelated industry. It seems that it’s not just government contracts that mandate a specific baseline of expertise to make people eligible to hold key positions in the pursuit of certain work.

So I’m building a grudging respect even for my MBA.


But it occurs to me, since I’m all about symbols, that six letters can stand in for an awful lot of effort. My MBA took me more than 2 full calendar years. I studied for the PMP exam for about six months, and had to have both a bachelor’s degree and 3 years of documented experience as a project manager to be able to even apply to sit for the certification. All told, those six letters then represent about 10 years of skill-building. When you look at it that way, it’s no wonder the certifications command a significant salary and an understandable level of pride. Even more, I’m feeling strength in modeling for other women what it looks like to work at a higher level in an organizational hierarchy–even though I know it’s not unusual, per se. (And it’s TOTALLY worth reading that article about the nature of female participation in EVERYTHING across the ages. It made a deep impression on me this week and I’ve been sending it to all and sundry…)


And because I look for symbols in my everyday life, I’m happy to report that the moon on tonight’s walk reflected a rainbow in the light clouds that surrounded it, AND I saw a long-lived shooting star–both of which have been happy portents in my past. I have every confidence that my new job is a positive move for me and my family. On the topic of walks, we started building up slowly, and went for six of the seven days, for a total of 10.7 miles. Since I’m out of town all this week, now, I’ll get to see how much less exciting walking a treadmill is as opposed to walking the huskies… But I think I may also look slightly less bruised an battered by the experience.


Being away for the week also lets me escape the fact that my computer has finally, forever bitten the dust. Hubs will be taking my brand new hard drive to get the data extracted, and then I’ll say goodbye to my desktop. If anyone has any specific recommendations, I’m open to replacement suggestions.

With all that going on… it’s not surprising hubs and I are showing signs of adrenal fatigue. Luckily hubs has access to resources that educate us on how to address that bone-deep weariness naturally. He also sends articles like this one about Lao Tzu and the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching to help me focus on the contradictions inherent in our lives and how to navigate the middle path.

Or get upset after the fact that Patrick Stewart could have been fired for how poorly written the early ST:TNG shows were. My geek life would have a very different complexion without him being the background for a whole host of family dinner discussions when I was in high school.

Obviously, there was no writing or editing with all that going on. This week, my writing results after being sequestered at the beach for a conference that runs 8-5 every day may only be slightly better… So I suggest you check out how my fellow ROW80ers are doing with their goals this round, and come back next week for my latest report.

Something Bigger, Better, More

"Don't get comfortable where you are. There is something bigger, something better, something more rewarding in front of you."It’s been a thrilling week for me: I was offered the opportunity to take the next step in my project management career by becoming a portfolio manager. Of course, this kind of big change brings up a host of emotions–not the least of which is sadness at no longer working with the excellent crew of folks I’ve gotten to know in the past year and a half at my current job. It also coincided with one of my Twitter buddies posting a reminder of the differences between good bosses and bad ones, and hubs forwarding a link to the list of reasons people could be institutionalized for in the late 1800s. The first came as the kind of heads-up that tells me I’m on the right track. The second… well. Mental Excitement? Periodic Fits? Brain Fever? Asthma? Apparently I’m a bedlamite already.


This should be nicely helped along by the travel schedule introduced by my new job: I’ll be in Florida the week of the 24th. I’ll be in Maryland for a day the week after that… And then it’s time for my annual visit to Gayla, in Texas. Hubs-the-ever-helpful found a link to 27 game-changing frequent flyer hacks, though $85 for the TSA pre-check clearance seems a racket from this vantage point. I think I will take hubs’ recommendation of a home spa bath when I get back, though.

With all that hubbub, and since we’re building up slowly from the injury situation from a week ago, we didn’t walk as much as I normally like: We went on 6 of 7 days, for a total of 7.65 miles. There was no stay-at-home date night this week either, since we got a last-minute invitation to spend some time with our neighbors. That turned into a late night of fun conversations, and I’m grateful once more for having found a congenial neighborhood for us to land in.

Taking care of the various details to make sure this professional change flows without hitches meant no time or attention for any kind of return to writing work. But hubs and I were introduced to a dramatic new healing modality: KST. We’re ready to sign him up to be certified to add this technique to his practice later this fall after the results we’ve already seen on ourselves.

None of this is to say there aren’t still an abundance of story ideas out there for me to pursue. (Hubs sent me a list of 13 freaky coincidences, any one of which could be the hook to a great story.) I know I need to finish all of my Red Slaves story (or stories, depending on how you’re counting) first, but I also need to find my new rhythm with all these changes. We’ll see how long it takes me this time. At least I found useful information about re-establishing a working login to my home desktop computer after the Windows 10 upgrade failure last week. It wasn’t even that painful, though I did have to redo all my preferences again. I don’t know that I’ll try that upgrade for a while again–at least until I hear of people who’ve managed it without issues.

Until next week, I’ll be thinking about packing, and you can check in with all my other ROW80 cohorts.

Knocked Over

"When life knocks you down, roll over and look at the stars."Between unanticipated family and work drama… I haven’t had much more energy than dragging myself through the week this week. Interspersed with finding fictional distractions. I’d never heard of Issa Rae before I read a New York Times interview with her Wednesday, but then I binge-watched all of season 1. Having more than a passing acquaintance with awkward, I spent a lot of time sympathy laughing with the main character, J. Lucky for me, tonight and tomorrow night are the height of the Perseid meteor showers–though from what we can see so far, it will be more cloud watching than searching for shooting stars.

It may take a few more days to re-sort myself and find my energy again.

Especially since we had to take it easy on the walks this week, too. Hubs got caught in an explosion of Husky out the front door that had him tangled in the door handle, wrecked the storm door, and badly strained some of his intercostal muscles. We took a couple of short (less than half a mile) walks I didn’t record, and two long ones I did, for a total of 5.7 miles for the week. Tonight we got back on the walking train, and I’ll be feeling it tomorrow.

I’m also dealing with computer issues once again. I followed the Microsoft recommendation to update to Windows 10 Thursday… only to end up with another Blue Screen Of Death. The computer has been off since then as I marshal the intestinal fortitude to deal with that complication.

This week also saw me revisiting the Hugo award controversy with a colleague, who had pointed out the widely reported news that a female author’s attempt at finding an agent was significantly boosted when she used a man’s name. Which then reminded me of the older SFWA hullaballoo about the Nebulas. I don’t know what prompted it, but this all happened on the same day there was a trending Twitter topic of #womenwrite. I’m so grateful to have found a community of women writers who are mutually supportive–they will continue to have my thanks by their presence in the perma-links in the right rail of my blog. Sometimes, though… these stories just reinforce how tired I am. Luckily, I mostly write my stories to find out how they end (and… I will never get over the journalist’s addiction of seeing my own byline), so it’s easy enough for me to get past the issue. I just worry for those who either are more deterred by others’ nastiness, or those who aren’t blessed with the support network I have. So I will send out {{virtual hugs}} for anyone who needs them and lend a cheerleader’s enthusiasm for anyone struggling with why they have to tolerate those mean spirited, misdirected souls who feel the need to tear down someone else’s achievement.

Hubs, of course, sent more links along those lines, too. Socrates was on point with an answer to the misogyny outlined above:

“The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world, is to be in reality what we would appear to be; and if we observe, we shall find, that all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice of them.” ~ Socrates

So I’ll be trying to strengthen my practice of writing and taking care of myself this week to regain momentum for this round. In the meantime, I suggest checking out how the other ROW80 participants are doing. I’ll be back next week to report on my progress.

Angels Walking

"Angels walk among us. Sometimes they are unseen and have wings; sometimes they pant and lick our faces." -Jonathan BrooksIt’s been another doggie death in the family week. Freya was only eight, but that Histiocytosis diagnosis I wrote about two weeks ago… it’s a crazy-fast killer, horrifying to watch as your baby just wastes away. What’s truly devastating is that that makes three unrelated cancer deaths in that house in the past five months. I know when we lost two of ours in six months in 2010, it was almost more than we could bear, so my heart aches in sympathy. (To say nothing of our loss of Kyra not even a year ago.)

It’s also the one-year anniversary of the Move From Hell. Somehow it felt like we revisited a cellular memory of how exhausted we were by the end of that travail. I was dreaming equal parts of mysterious paperwork (a job I don’t have, shifting piles of paper I hadn’t worked on), and odd nightmares, so felt massively un-rested by Friday. Even getting the dogs back to Affectionate for a day of play wasn’t the relief it might have been, since we had glass replacement appointments several days this week… meaning more running around and schedule disruption.

So I lost track of days a bit, and didn’t get as much revision done as I’d hoped. I have four pages remaining on chapter three, which marks the end of this latest round of beta reader feedback for book 1. I’m thinking things should go faster once I’m past that and can just tweak per earlier changes and suggestions, but it means the process will stretch out at least another couple weeks.

I figure so long as I’m getting back in the groove of sitting at the keyboard 3-4 nights per week, I’m at least headed in the right direction.


For our newest show (AKA stay-at-home date night), we’ve picked up “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.” In the set dressing and general manner I am somehow reminded of the magic in Harry Potter’s world, but the characters play more like the stiff upper lip and class and station consciousness of Pride and Prejudice. It’s an interesting contrast of protagonists, each strong individuals, but no clear antagonist one episode in. The prophesy that the two magicians are enemies–and even the spell that shows the newcomer magician the established magician as his enemy–seems a false tension at this point. Each man seems to me to be his own stumbling block. Nonetheless, it’s a unique take on a low fantasy world, and engaging in its own right.

As for walking, we went every night, again, though a few nights we kept the distance shorter in deference to the high humidity and heat. Still, we went for 14.6 miles over the course of the week, and my phone is showing that I’m carrying it around for a daily average of more than 3 miles, so I’m definitely on a better health track as far as activity is concerned.

Hubs is also keeping me well-supplied with supportive articles. For one: why people feel like they don’t fit in. I liked the 33 Emerson quotes, and in particular:

“Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Finally, two sets of historic head-scratchers: 10 mysteries caught on film and the world’s biggest plot holes.

I’m down to one month to go before I get to see Gayla again. She’s been hard at work at both starting up a new series as well as home renovations, so I’m trying not to get caught in comparison mind about how many words she’s written versus my very slow progress, but I’m seriously looking forward to my visit. For now, I’ll be planning on at least another week of hard-core revising before I start handing off my work for another copy edit. We’ll see where I am next week, then, but in the meantime, check out how my fellow ROW80ers are doing with their goals and I’ll check in again in seven days.

Expect the Unexpected

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science." -Albert EinsteinI’m finally back to writing–if only on 3 days of the past 7 because of several night-time work commitments. I’ve recast the first chapter of Dust to Blood so the inciting incident is no longer off-page, and am working to bring forward the driving conflict for the story so readers don’t have to be patient with the story coming to a slow boil. So far I’m about halfway through what I need to do in the first chapter, then I’ll need to mesh up with the following chapters so there’s no unintended redundancy. If I can get through the first five chapters this week… I may even be able to proceed with the re-release next week.


I’m again grateful for the writer’s workshop this spring for having raised the questions and possibilities that let me see how to best advance the story and get me in the proper mindset to finish the series. I’ll be glad to finally bring to completion something that has been in my head for so many years now. It’s all of a sudden unexpected to have reached this point. But it will be nice to have one less thing on my plate.

The walking bit… well, the weather was still mostly miserably hot and humid. Natasha is definitely showing her Wisconsin roots, and though she’s in the best shape she’s been in, the heavy weather wears her out more than the two younger ones. And she’s uncharacteristically avoiding going outside if she can. Still, we again managed 14.3 miles, even if we broke up those walks to much shorter versions than our normal treks.

Instead of a stay-at-home date night, this week we actually went out. We watched Ant Man at a local theater where you can eat dinner while watching the movie, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Once again I wholly agree with Carrie Vaughn’s movie review, and have to echo how much fun this movie is. I love the idea that Marvel is creating a super-show, with one or two new “episodes” per year, each of which is feature length and ties in seamlessly with the rest of the world they’ve built. I love the minor and recurring characters, and hubs and I have been quoting Louis and Dr. Pym to each other for the past two days.

The interesting reflection of that unexpected fun is that I’ve seen links to several happy couple habits articles this week. Hubs found one at the Huffington Post outlining 10 habits, and Kait Nolan tweeted a link to 7 things happy couples do that added to that list. It’s nice to find such consistent validation for the choices we’ve come to on our own.

The truly unexpected of the week came this evening, though. Both of us were happily ensconced in our offices and being productive when we heard a very loud pop. After resettling our nerves, we discovered that the downstairs sliding glass door inner pane had decided to disintegrate. With nobody in the room and for no real reason. We have small glass slivers on the floor in front of it, but haven’t been able to get in touch with any maintenance help yet, so we’re half expecting to find a pile of glass shards after the next strong wind or big storm. We’ll see how long it takes to get this fixed, but in the meantime, none of us will be using that door–or even going anywhere near it–for the foreseeable future. At least KouKi is FINALLY past her heat period this week, so we can take the pups back to Affectionate to run off all the extra steam they’ve built up in the past three weeks.

We’ll see whether that helps me cement my progress toward a regular writing habit this week, but in the meantime, I suggest checking out the other ROW80 participants’ reports. I’ll be back again next week to let you know how I do.


"Before you complain about me being a nuisance, remember you destroyed my habitat to build your own."As long-time readers will know, I count three Huskies as my babies. They make life exciting and irritating by turns. Especially when they engage stealth hunting mode. While on leash. I’m not sure whether it was a fox, or a raccoon, or some other local wildlife making do in the cracks of nature available in our neighborhood, but whatever it was inspired Santino to chase around me as if I were a tree… and fell me in similar manner. I have the road rash and bruises to prove it, and my battle scars are enough to have kept me stiff and uncomfortable for most of the week.

The super-hot, super-humid weather hasn’t been my friend in this either.

I just discovered, though, looking back at my tracking app… we still managed to walk every night. We totaled 14.92 miles over the course of the week. And my tracking app emailed me a congratulatory note that last night’s walk was the 400th workout I had logged that way.

I suppose, though, the real distraction those wounds offered was an aversion to resting my scraped, bruised wrist on the mouse pad to do much productive computing. It didn’t help, either, that hubs decided (and friends conspired to support him) to continue celebrating my birthday throughout the week.

So we’ve been watching more episodes of Sherlock. The writing and layers of storytelling in that show are provocative and smart, and the unsentimental depiction of a deep friendship that acknowledges the warts of each personality but nonetheless cherishes each partner for his strengths is instructive for any fiction writer. We’ve even been watching some of the making-of shorts, which explore the ways this series is bringing the Conan Doyle cannon into the modern day. There was one about the women in the series that I found particularly interesting, precisely because it illustrated how small, character-driven choices can make big changes in the overall flavor of a story. That this incarnation of Mrs. Hudson is an older woman exploring the misplaced mothering inclinations is a subtle departure from the “long-suffering” woman portrayed by Conan Doyle. Yet it speaks to how interpreting words on a page can vary across time and in different minds.

This week, again, I heard horrible news from both a friend and a relative about two different dogs. One who’d been killed by getting run over, and the other who was diagnosed with Histiocytosis last week. It seems fortuitous that hubs found an article outlining the steps to recover from personal trauma this week, so I’m sharing it for anyone else who’s been bowled over by emotional pain. And sending warm fuzzies (from T. A. for Tots, for those of you who are in my generation) and healing energy to those who might need it. Similarly, 33 quotes from Lao Tzu might help remind us all that life is beset with difficulties, and finding our way toward equilibrium is an ongoing challenge.

I will be looking for that equilibrium myself, this week, as we return to a more normal schedule. I’m planning on actual word production for once, and intend for next week to include progress on that front. In the meantime, check out how my ROW80 compatriots are doing with their goals.

Another Year Older

"The length of childhood should not be measured by years but by attitude..." -Zen to ZanyIt’s that time of year again when the acceleration of time once again slaps me in the face. My birthday last year was in the midst of the crazy to get everything packed into two small trucks to drive across country with all our belongings. It had already been a series of long, difficult years with little time for anything other than studying and working, so the move compounded all the stress. A year on, and I finally feel like I’m a crocus in spring, carefully poking my head out of the hibernation of just surviving into the sunshine of an interesting world. I’ve had the joy of discovering our back porch is an idyllic place to recline and watch birds dive-bomb each other while the clouds scud by. For the first time in ages, I could take a weekend for myself and stay up until 4am finishing a book that caught my fancy without worrying about crunching for a deadline because of it.

In other words… I’m a kid again. Indulging my bookaholic tendencies and finding more time for zen togetherness and happy cuddles.

Of course, that means I’m shirking my manuscripts… Though today I had an idea for how to handle my revisions that was more energizing than daunting, so maybe I’ll get on track soon. I’ve said it often enough that it rings hollow to me, but in the wake of a weekend with a massage and facial… my brain is starting to feel uncramped enough to kick into writing. Plus, I found a BuzzFeed post with happy-making doggie gifs that still makes me smile.

We also had a great week of walking: Every night, at least two miles, for a total of 14.7 miles. Of course, part of that was driven by the fact that our youngest pup (now 9.5 months) started her first heat cycle… meaning we couldn’t take them for their normal burn-off-the-excess-steam day at Affectionate… and KouKi spent several nights waking us at 2-hour intervals to see whether it was finally time to GO! Without at least some kind of work-out… I think we would count more than a rug, some toys, and two of our recliners as “creatively rearranged” by teenaged naughtiness. Our at-home date night was watching another episode of Sherlock and having the minor epiphany that I may have the heart of a mystery writer buried in my paranormal/urban fantasy inclinations. Which went hand in hand with my brainwave today about revisions.

I also get a day off tomorrow and am really looking forward to one of my birthday presents. Hubs has written me a song and has been hard at work polishing a mini-concert just for me. Since he’s played to hundreds before (and this week found an archived article in the Washington Post about his band), this is no small thing… and is another step closer to the recording I’ve requested. I’m blessed with someone who values creativity as much as I do, has the talent to create a ballad for me–and more, WANTS to do so. He found a list of 45 life lesson quotes this week that included the admonishment to recognize that EVERY day is special. I’m happy to say we have found that path together.

With all his plans for celebration, we’ll see whether I find time to be productive, though I’d really like to support Malala’s #booksnotbullets campaign with a review this week in any case. In the meantime, the other ROW80ers are documenting their progress, and I’ll be back next week once again to share mine.

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