Monday, May 14, 2018

The many moments in the month of May (so far)


A photo my son captured of Jozee 
while we were at the beach
Sometimes everything goes as planned, and sometimes they don't, but that's not always a bad thing.
I had planned to post on my blog over the weekend, but…it was Mother’s Day weekend so I took some time off to play. What I wanted for my Mother’s Day was at least one day at the beach, which did happen and turned out to be a great idea considering how perfect the weather was. If you are also from the PNW, you’ll understand my excitement about the fact that we actually had a nice day at the beach, and in the month of May!


While May is only half over, it has already provided me with a good feeling on how this next quarter will end. All I can say is, hooray! In addition to spending a lot of time on one of my writing projects, here’s what I’ve been up to:
I finally completed a business plan – why now, you say? I just kept putting it off, maybe because in the back of my mind I believed I didn’t really need it. But, writing is a business when you hope your efforts result in making a profit so, I finally forced myself to work one up. Right now I’m sticking with revising my business plan quarterly, so that I can focus on projects actually pending at this time, but I plan to work up to six-month plans once I move in to next year.

Session at Inspire:
Women's Business Conference

I attended a women’s conference the first week in May for business owners – again, thinking about writing beyond the craft and what I can do to focus on the business end of things so that what I’m accomplishing involves both my head and my heart.
The women’s conference was a nice day retreat for me since my days are usually spent by myself (unless you count my dogs and cats), I met some great women and business owners and from each session I learned some useful business sense tips.
I’ll enjoy attending more of these events if the business organization continues to offer them. 

I finally signed up to become a member of a local writer’s association. By “local” I mean Seattle, which is a horrible drive these days from my locale, so I won’t likely attend many of the monthly meetings, but I’ll be able to access the relevant meeting information online, as well as other member perks. I can’t honestly say why it’s taken me until now to do this…I enjoy attending conferences, and I attend them when I’m able (which takes actual physical effort), while the act of becoming a member of an association was such an easy task I could have completed a long time ago (um, can anyone say online registration?) but just kept putting it off. I can’t explain my delay, other than it must be that writer’s procrastination issue I hear so much about. 😊
I had some fun designing new business cards and bookmarks – time will tell whether I like the business cards more than my original design, but because my books now include a series and not just the first book (it’s been that long since I designed the first business card), I decided to make a change since the time to update them was long overdue.
I spent some time promoting my series the past two weeks, playing with the P.I. writing about a P.I. idea, then for Mother’s Day, and also for upcoming book events I have scheduled this month and next month. Speaking of which, for those who are local, I have the following author events coming up should you wish to attend where I’ll discuss my books and my writing and publishing process and sign books for those who have or will be purchasing them: 
The first event is this coming Saturday, May 19th from 1p to 3p at The Firs in Olympia (426 Lilly Rd NE)
The second event is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6th from 10:15a to 11:30a at the Olympia Center (222 Columbia St NW)
I'm looking forward to both events and in meeting new people, so if you’re in the area and can attend either they are both open to the public.
So, the month of May for me has been a productive one. I see the last half of the month following suit and I look forward to that!




Sunday, April 29, 2018

I’ve lost a bunch of hats, and my head feels funny!


If you had to come up with one word to describe yourself or your current situation in life, what would it be? I can imagine coming up with one word might actually prove to be very difficult.

If you are like most, you’re wearing any number of hats on any given day given your current situation…parent, spouse, employee, employer, entrepreneur, chauffeur of children, coach of your son or daughter’s team, caretaker of a child, a spouse or a parent…and the list goes on and on.

Those hats change every so often, and especially when you enter each new season in life. From being young parents, to middle-aged married beings with high school or college kids and very busy schedules, to empty nesters to retirees; each season can bring about change that is gradual or very swift, but regardless of either, it brings about a change in the hats we wear.


I’ve come to the conclusion that these past few months, while I’ve been tackling time management alongside puppy rearing and playtime, I’ve also been tackling something I hadn’t realized was even an obstacle. That obstacle was my inability to realize that my expectations in life were drawn from how I managed myself when I was wearing previous hats, in previous seasons, under previous situations.

I failed to realize that I was undergoing a transition.

In my last post I commented on warmer days or my next vacation and, honestly, those days were just right around the corner because I left only a week later for a vacation in a warmer state to celebrate my birthday. And this wasn’t just any birthday; it was a big one. One of those birthdays you say doesn’t really bother you, because your age is just a number, right? Honestly, it really didn’t bother me, until I got to thinking more seriously about it.

What got me thinking more seriously about it was the fact that I’ve entered a new season, but my mindset might not have caught up to the idea that my life has changed quite a bit. My life is not what it was before when I wore all those hats as a busy mom, wife and daughter, who also worked for someone else or for herself while running her own business. I’m not an empty nester yet, but it’s close, and while I enjoy spending time with my husband, and having a puppy feels like having a child again (pure understatement, really J), my schedule is not wrapped around what everyone else in the household is doing or what an employer requires of me.

My schedule is my own.

That one little fact in addition to the entry into a new decade has left me just a little breathless. All those hats I use to wear, which we all know can get a little heavy sometimes since women are so terrible at finding time to take them all off to care for themselves, have dwindled down to just a few. Imagine, rather than the idiom reference, if you wore one real hat every single day for a whole year, how would your head feel when you finally took it off? It may feel very much like what it is to suddenly not be so many things to so many other people.

While I have been more committed to self care the past year or so, I thought it was just because I had finally realized how absolutely necessary it was. However, it may have been my way of preparing for the upcoming transition I was going to go through. I just hadn’t realized it at the time.

Being so many things to so many people for awhile begins to feel normal, maybe because the constant pull in so many directions gives a false sense of feeling grounded. But when change occurs and you’re not pulled in all different directions, you may feel a little off balanced if some of the tugging suddenly stops. That’s how I visually see things when it comes to what some women must feel like when this sort of transition occurs.

Writing is one way that keeps me grounded, which may seem funny since my books are all fiction. I also have a number of ways to focus on self care, such as journaling, yoga, and so forth, but as with anything, I’ll learn as I go to determine what works best for me. A transition also means change or evolution, which also means progression and development. It means learning more about yourself and evolving as you continue to move forward. It also means, no matter what age you are, how many hats you wear or what season you’re in, what you learn about yourself will help you through each transition and hopefully as you move on into the next.

Whatever season you’re in, however many hats you wear, I hope you take time to focus on self care and find what also keeps you grounded so that when all the tugging suddenly stops, you don’t find yourself unbalanced and flat on your back.



Sunday, April 8, 2018

Quarterly check in: April showers, fur babies & serial killer?


As I sit at my desk contemplating what I might want to blog about today, I’m hearing the constant downpour on the rooftop just outside my office window. The forecast for today indicates 100% chance of rain, but I really don’t need a weather app to tell me that.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest means this much rain doesn’t faze me all that much. In fact, I find it kind of soothing. Of course, what I really mean is that I find it soothing when I can remain indoors, warm and dry. If I have to venture out and drive in it, I’m really not all that thrilled. And, to be honest, as much as I don’t mind the rain, I’ll admit I longingly look forward to warmer days when I can spend more time outside or when I can take part in a vacation to a warmer climate.

Until those warmer days or my next vacation, today is a day when I’m staying put so if Mother Nature wants to treat us to an excessive amount of rain, so be it.

Since rain does mean staying put on a Sunday afternoon, I’m taking time today to go through my writing tasks to get a sense of where I am with them, or how far behind I might be, in order to run through a quarterly review. I’m already aware of the fact that I’ve had good days and bad days when it came to staying on task the past few months, for various reasons, so the fact that I’m behind isn’t a surprise.

Koa & Kai - inseparable
Having a puppy and two kittens that constantly demand my attention is obviously one of the biggest reasons I’ve been distracted the past two months. 

From the kittens chewing or scratching up papers, to digging miniatures out of my dollhouse, to sitting on my desk right in front of my computer screen, and from Jozee needing regular potty breaks and chewing on shoes and walls and the kittens themselves, I’m up and out of my chair more times than I can count. If I had a dollar for every time I said the words, “no” or “stop that,” I’d be set for life! But then the kittens eventually settle down, Jozee does her best to behave, and I keep telling myself to just breathe…it’s temporary…it’s just temporary…eventually I’ll get back on a regular schedule. And at least I’m moving more regularly and keeping up a good step count. J




Jozee

January was a productive month, and I was able to complete the tasks necessary so that the fourth book in my series was finally published the first part of February. Just in time, too, since the beginning of February was primarily focused on Jozee. 

The rest of February and much of March were hit and miss when it came to making real headway on my projects, but between my young adult, another book in the series, and a short story, when I do find the time to work I have plenty to work on.

Between watching Jozee and the kittens to working on my books in between naps and play time (seriously!), here are just a few other notes with regard to my recent progress:

I shared in one of my last blog posts that I had started reading “The Artist’s Way” and that I was going to try to make use of the morning pages idea – that didn’t really pan out for me. I was too busy with Jozee first thing in the morning and by the time I was able to sit down to work on anything, I wanted to use my limited free time to work on my books. I’m probably going to try the idea again in another month or so.

I did, however, begin reading again “The Writer’s Workout” by Christina Katz. Right now this type of book is easier for me to stick with and the daily tips will continue to push me as I move forward and continue to adjust my new writing schedule around the daily distractions of fur babies and whatever else pops up.

I also shared in a past post about my attempt to start using a bullet journal – I’m finally getting the hang of it and I really enjoy it. It’s messy, compared to all the pretty examples I see others sharing, but it works for me and I love the freedom I have to make it my own so that it works for me.

I got our taxes done – have to celebrate that one! J

And, odd fact, I was running through and updating information on all the characters in my series – I found it interesting that I’ve killed off 12 characters so far. I’m a virtual serial killer. Not sure what to think about that!

Although I feel behind on some tasks, I’m still making progress as I’m able, and as long as I continue to do that, all will be well. Just like the little saying I have at the beginning of my bullet journal, “A little progress each day adds up to big results.”

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

My desire to inspire has no shelf life


I’ve been sharing blog posts for over six years now…ever since I decided to shed my fears and share with family, friends and the online world that I had a secret desire to write and that I had completed my first novel.

Sharing that news was probably the bravest, and scariest thing I have ever done.

Why? 

Because I was sharing a part of myself that I had kept locked away from everyone for a fairly long time, even my closest family members. Because I wasn’t sure how others would react to my passion to write and become a published author. Because I wanted to share my excitement in what I had accomplished and while I wasn’t in search of validation, I couldn’t deny my apprehension and how I might react should anyone decide to stomp on my dreams.

When my news began to spread, the response from both family and friends was amazing and encouraging. I realize I shouldn’t have expected anything less, but when you open yourself up in a way that makes you vulnerable, it’s going to cause some anxiety. Unless you don’t give a crap what anyone thinks or have the biggest ego of all time, you’re going to hope others will be happy for you and will share your excitement for what you have accomplished.

But what might have happened if I hadn’t received such a positive response to my news?

I would like to think that I would have plugged away, because writing is my passion and because I thoroughly believed in my story and wanted to share it with others.

But there’s also the chance that I might have lost all confidence in my dream and deflated like a balloon, only to go back to writing for myself and never sharing anything again.

I shudder to think of that possibility.

Except it does happen…how many people have a dream they would like to explore, only to be shut down by their closest family members or friends? How many people fear sharing that part of themselves because of that possibility so that they never even try?

I’m sure the number is too high.

When I was working through my reflections for 2017 and my intentions for 2018, there was one area I kept coming back to: it was my desire to inspire. Not only the desire to inspire others, but to constantly inspire myself, as well. Writers have issues, such as being creatively blocked, dealing with procrastination and ignoring their own inner critic. I deal with those issues and work though them the best I can and I’ve learned a lot from other authors who have already been through this process for many years. Based on what I’ve learned, I don’t believe it ever changes, the issues writers face, but knowing what to expect and finding ways to work through the difficult times will keep me inspired and on track.

When I first began this blog, it was my intent to share my writing journey where ever it may lead and my hope was that others would follow because they wanted to see where the journey would take me. But over the course of the past few years, even as I’ve dealt with some of the most difficult times in my life, I discovered that I had another desire. That desire has merged from sharing my thoughts as I continuously inspire myself while I write through the highs and lows of life, to the hope that I inspire others who may be dealing with their own issues while working on making their dreams a reality.

My desire to inspire will be a continued effort for as long as I carry on with writing and sharing my passion. So…

Cultivate your dreams.

Rediscover what boosts your motivation.

Find what energies your inspiration.

Be confident in yourself.

Continue to pursue your passion and be happy.


And have a great week!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Out like a lion, in like a lamb


We left February after getting quite a bit of snow and moved into March with some nice spring weather. Yesterday was no exception…it was beautiful, with temps in the high 60’s and today we apparently might hit 70 degrees. It makes me happy to have a laptop so that I can sit outside rather than having to choose between writing and enjoying a warm sunny day.

End of February
I don’t doubt that we’ll be back to normal Washington weather soon: rain, rain and more rain. It’s only March, after all, and we still have to get through “April showers bring May flowers.” It’s what makes the PNW so green and beautiful.

So we enjoy the weather when we’re treated to it, knowing that soon enough we’ll be stuck indoors again.

Even with easy access via my laptop, the past two weeks were not as focused on writing. I did complete some admin tasks with regard to updating information on various sites, narrowing down additional tasks and timelines for the projects I want to complete this year and I took part in a marketing webinar, which then added another project to my list that I want to begin when I can make time for it.

Beginning of March
Other than that, my writing focus slipped due to a number of personal tasks, each taking up space on my to-do list. However, the past two weeks were very productive when it came to finally checking off my list those tasks that have been hanging over my head for awhile. The benefit is that I will have more time to focus on my writing, which is a great thing because I feel very unsettled when I don’t get to spend regular time with my characters.

I’ll share one thing I was focused on the past two weeks…tidying up a few things with regard to my mother-in-law’s estate. It’s been long enough and I finally decided I just need to get it done. In addition, I’ve had boxes of photos and family documents to finish going through, and having those boxes sitting on the floor in my office has been, honestly, distracting. I have had a constant reminder of a task that I needed to complete, but usually I found I wasn’t emotionally prepared for. Going through a loved one’s personal items can be difficult if you aren’t ready.

But I’m glad I finally did, and that I was finally able to get through the material with more curiosity and less sadness.

Old school photo of my mother-in-law's
I found undeveloped film rolls and was pleased to discover photos of my in-laws that none of us had ever seen. I found old photos, birth certificates, death certificates, and school records from the 1950’s. I also found very old pages of family history typed up by a family member back in 1967 describing in great detail my father-in-law’s parent’s family history. I’m amazed any of these are in my hands, as they made it through a nasty flood we had in Chehalis back in 2007 (the original pages of the family history show proof of that fact), multiple moves throughout the years and even possibly a house fire the parents had many years ago. What’s even more amazing is that the family history dates back to the early 1800’s on his father’s side and the mid-1700’s on his mother’s side. It’s really a fantastic find and with the addition of little stories about some of the family members, the historic details about what some of the family members dealt with is really quite amazing.

As a reader and as an author, you can imagine how this type of find really peak my imagination!
So I begin this new week fresh and ready to get back to it as I imagine that maybe someday, many years from now, a distant relative will be reading details about me or my family’s history and what we made of ourselves.

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

What happened to February? Let’s call it, fur baby February.


January was a pretty productive month, while February was a completely different matter.  Okay, wait, back up. Now that I look at my calendar, where I track my WIP, I feel more accomplished than I thought I was entitled to feel. I was able to publish Cross My Heart, both in paperback and as an eBook, I took part in an online summit for work-at-home entrepreneurs, I worked on some marketing material for an upcoming book event, took part in a writing workshop, and was able to work on my young adult novel and also another book in progress.

So, maybe February wasn’t as unproductive as I first believed.

The month has flown by, admittedly, not only because it’s a short month, but because I had much more to focus on than just writing…a very small thing requiring a lot of attention.

What would require so much attention?
Jozee at 7 weeks

A puppy.

Yes, a puppy. I’m not sure what the heck I was thinking, except that I have missed Piper terribly and her sister, Mandy, has been lonely these past six months, so we finally decided to get a puppy.

It’s been three weeks since we brought little Jozee home, and I don’t think Mandy has quite forgiven me yet for upsetting her days so drastically. She’s an old lady who isn’t too fond of this little feisty fur ball, but my hope is that soon they’ll be best friends. After all, she finally tolerates the kittens and has forgiven me for radically changing her world with the introduction of new cats. J

It has been a long time since I’ve had a puppy. Mandy and Piper were born not quite ten years ago, and at that time I had their mom and was raising the whole litter (ten puppies!). It was crazy, but I had my private investigator business and was working out of the home so was able to find the time needed to care for them. Still, a decade can dull the memory, and I had forgotten what having a puppy was like. It’s like having a baby again! 

What it looks like to feed 10 puppies

Eventually we’ll get past the puppy stage, I know this, so I’m “going with the flow,” realizing it’s temporary, and getting work done as I’m able in between keeping an eye on her and what she might be in to (right now she’s napping).  

In the meantime, the benefits of bringing Jozee home far outweigh any doggy deeds for which I am constantly on alert. She has brought laughter and joy to our household, and she and the kittens (who are just over six months old), are becoming great playmates. She’s constant, unless she’s napping, and she keeps me hopping (I’m getting more than my fair share of steps in each day) but she also provides a gift I remember receiving from Mandy and Piper and also our boys when they were little. It’s the gift of taking in the moment, enjoying the little things, cuddling just because, feeling pleasure and wonder in something you might otherwise overlook because you are experiencing the moment from their first-time perspective.

Those reasons alone make February productive in its own way.

Well, my time is up – Jozee is awake and I’m on puppy patrol.

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Break out the confetti! Volume 4 in the series is now out!

Yes, I’m excited, if you aren’t able to tell from the title – the 4th book in the Jorja Matthews mystery series, Cross My Heart, is out and available on Amazon. It’s pretty early in the game and both the paperback and eBook may not yet be found on my Amazon author page, so I’ll provide the links for the paperback here and the eBook here.

The process last month and up to this point was more time consuming than I had expected, and I blame that on how long it took to receive my copies of the proofs in order to physically hold, review and note any issues with the paperback before allowing it to become available. The first proof copies took 10 days to get to me so that I could review it, then I provided copies to and waited for feedback from beta readers, made a few changes to the manuscript and decided not to take any chances so I ordered another proof copy to make sure those changes didn’t screw anything up with the formatting. I had to wait another 10 days before receiving that paperback copy. Seriously, I’ve become spoiled with Amazon, where I can order and receive almost any item in a matter of days. That makes it more difficult for me to remain patient when waiting on an item from another source, especially when it’s one of my own books!

Since the 4th book took me much longer to write and publish than the other books, my review of it was different than when I reviewed the other three books in the series. Mainly, I felt more removed from the story and could relate more as a reader, rather than a writer reviewing their own work. Even so, I don’t believe I’ll ever tire of what it feels like to read my own writing – it is extremely surreal to review paragraphs and pages of material that I’ve written, especially when I surprise myself at what I come up with. I think I could have added more to this book, especially when it comes to Jorja and a few issues she’s going to be dealing with, and also about Fritz’s past, but that didn’t happen, and I didn’t want to force it just to make it happen. I will let it come out organically when it feels right to do so, because as a writer, that’s just how I roll. J

If you’ve been waiting for the 4th book in the series, check it out and if you can remember, please leave a review on Amazon. It’s really one of the most important things you can do to help any author you enjoy reading!   

Happy Sunday and have a great week!