Wednesdays are going to be my week in review, moving forward. It’s a good day to stop and take a look at the last week (Sunday through Saturday) and see what I’ve accomplished (or not accomplished).
Last week, I was sick, so this week in review is not going to be as long as some of them. I lost Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, AND Saturday to the ick that I’m suffering from, so there was no writing. However, I did finally figure out how to do the corner-to-corner crochet stitch, so I got three squares done for my first afghan for Hooking for the Homeless, which was good.
Writing-wise, I got … nothing. I wrote blog posts for the week, and that was about it. But that’s okay – sometimes you need to do that in order to recharge.
This week, I’ve got the following planned:
- Pitch a book to a publishing group
- Write blog posts for the upcoming week for both the Patreon and this blog
- More squares for the afghan
- Write the pitch for Well of Dreams
- Start the outline for Well of Dreams
We’ll see how I do in a week.
Ah, January. That wonderful time of the year where everyone wants to get healthy. And yeah, I’m totally one of them.
I really just decided that I wasn’t going to worry about more than getting through the holidays this year. I survived them. I didn’t go over my highest weight from last year, although I got close, and and I got through it. Now, it’s time to work on getting better again.
That means I’m quitting the soda (again), and making sure I take my medications, which to be perfectly honest, I’m terrible at. I’m using my bullet journal to help me keep track of that, and I’ll be updating on this once a month. This month, my goals are simple:
- Take all my meds for the rest of the month
Seriously, that’s it. I’m aiming for one goal a month, because I know from past experience if I try and do more than that, I get easily overwhelmed and say “Fuck it.” So the goal this month is meds.
What are you doing for your health goals this month?
It’s a new year. I’ve already started to do things a little differently – set up a new theme here on the blog, and added a button at the top of the page so you can follow me on Patreon if you’d like. There will be new stuff on the Patreon coming soon, as I’m planning on writing 3 new novels this year: the first Resonant Frequencies book, the first novel-length Pendragon Casefiles book, and the next Advent story for December. In addition, I’m going to start blogging regularly, both there and here, about my writing process, being a writer while having a day job, and anything else that happens to catch my fancy.
The goal is to blog here on Sundays and Wednesdays, and on the Patreon blog Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Patreon blogs will be set to Patrons only, so be aware that if you want to see those, it will cost you a minimum of $1 a month. But hey, that’s not a lot, and if you do, not only will you get the blog posts, but you’ll get new stories once a week! Because on Fridays, Patrons will get the next chapter of my new book.
I’m not abandoning this journal, so don’t worry about that. And the December Advent story will be held here as well. But it’s time for me to start expanding and taking this writing journey a bit more seriously, and that means getting organized. In fact, some of my first blog posts might be about that.
What are your plans for this year? Feel free to share in the comments!
Yes, I’ve gotta catch them all too. It’s fun, and I need some fun in my life. Besides, it’s something hubby and I can do together. And it’s good for us. I’m Team Yellow (aka Instinct) and if you want to find me, I’m CassieHobbes.
I’m also recommitting to writing (again). I’ve discovered that it’s just something that I need to regularly recommit to. So I’ll be in my writing studio, and hopefully I won’t get distracted by the Pokemon wandering around outside. (It’s so hard though!)
I’m starting to work on the rewrite of the second Advent story, now titled Winter’s Storm. And I’m outlining the sixth (!) Advent story for this year. This year, it’s going to be pretty interactive, so keep an eye out on the blog! And we’ve got the e-book and audio book of Winter’s Secrets that are coming! So much stuff!
Which is, of course, why my brain is suggesting a bizarre post-apocalyptic story. *headdesk*
Now, to allay any fears – I will still be posting here too. And the Advent Story will still be here in December every year. And every so often, I’ll drop story stuff in here. But if you really want to read regular fiction from me, come on over to Patreon. I mean, for $1 a month minimum, you get stories. And the first one is the first book in the Shanna series. (For more money, you get more stuff, of course)
I’m also getting ready to do a blog tour! And boy, do we have some interesting folks willing to host me! The tour starts May 16 and goes to June 16, and I’ll have a full list here as soon as I’m able.
Now, I gotta get writing!
I love this picture. I love the feel of the greenery, of the moving water, of the sheer potential it represents. To me, running water and the outdoors is happiness.
I haven’t been able to do much in the outdoors over the past couple of years, due to a lot of weight gain, injuries (in large part due to that weight gain) and illness. For someone who grew up outside (and yes, I loved the outside when I was younger, although I admit I usually was curled up someplace in it reading), this has been a hard couple of years, and I’m almost positive that being inside and not able to hike and swim and walk the way I want to has contributed to my depression.
In August 2015, I finally admitted I needed real help. Not just nutritionally, but a coach who would administer the tough love and unconditional support I needed to get my life healthy again. I was lucky enough to find that in my friend Shannon, who is a coach for Herbalife. If you’ve ever met me, you know I LOVE food. Like, seriously, LOVE food. The taste, the smell, the mouthfeel – yeah, I’m a bonafide foodie, and for years, I was resistant to having anything to do with meal replacement shakes. Of course, it didn’t help that the ones on the commercial market like Ensure and Boost are full of chemicals and SMELL like chemicals as soon as you open the bottle. So I was skeptical.
Trust me, I’m not trying to sell anyone anything. For one thing, I know that my path isn’t everyone’s. We’re all different. But let me tell you, without Shannon, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am. I’m walking again. I’m down nearly 30 lbs since August. And the shakes – well, to be perfectly honest, they’re amazing. I love them. (And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that I can have cookies and cream cheesecake for breakfast. Okay, well, maybe a little.) And the best part? It doesn’t smell chemically. When I open my vanilla protein powder, it smells like vanilla. My hubby and roomie loved the waffles I made with them (reminder to self, make more waffles.).
For another thing? It’s not cheap. Now, granted, in the long run, it’s cheaper than eating fast food all the time, and it’s cheaper than medical bills. But it does require some outlay of cash.
But for me, it’s been worth it. If you are interested in talking to my coach, you can hit Shannon up – her husband Tom is a coach as well, if you want a guy instead. I can personally vouch for both of them – they’re amazing, and I’m lucky to have them in my life. Because of them, I’m looking forward to hiking this summer, and maybe, just maybe, getting my bike out again.
Life has been complicated lately. Some things have ended, others have started, and I’m not quite sure how I’m handling all of it. I’m not going to discuss that, or what’s really going on yet. I’m going to talk about writing.
I know, shocking. But I’ve not really been writing lately, and I’ve realized that how I deal with the stresses life gives me goes down in quality when I don’t write. The problem is giving myself permission to take some time for me, and write. I need to get myself into that headspace, and even if it’s only 250 words, or a blog post, or a character sketch for the new book I want to write, I need to do it. So hopefully, you’ll be seeing more here.
I’m still working on the rewrite of Winter Secrets, which should hopefully be done soon. Today, I’m editing for a friend, who has a new book coming out in May that I think you guys will like (think CSI meets Fern Gully). And I’ll have some new stuff coming along – I’m playing with redesigning the website, and adding some more links. Considering a Patreon site as well. Maybe some guest blogs? And some tea stuff, because, well, tea.
And writing. Always writing. Because first and foremost, I am a writer.
I’m currently sitting in a comfy chair in an infusion room at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, with an IV in my arm, waiting for my next Remicade infusion. It’s raining outside, and as I’m on the 6th floor, I have a lovely view of the parking lot, and the rain. (Hey, at least it’s not snow. I don’t have to shovel rain.) Days like this, when I’m due for my medication and it’s grey, and I’ve had a very busy weekend, I’m usually NOT wanting to do anything. I want to just curl up in my chair and let the Benadryl take me away into dreams, but I’m still working on deadline, so no sleeping today.
I’ve also been re-reading The Artist’s Way – I am feeling…not blocked, precisely, but more unsatisfied. Like I know there is more I could be doing, but I’m stuck in the “don’t wanna” phase. I want to have this book done. I want to have the next book done. I just don’t want to write it.
At the same time, I don’t want to not write. I love writing. I love it when the words flow, and I love it when they don’t, and every page is a struggle, but it’s there and it’s blood and you can see it. It’s a tension within me, and the more days I go without writing, the more I hurt. And it’s a mental hurt, that slowly twists within me to a physical hurt. And I didn’t realize WHY, until I looked at The Artist’s Way and realized I haven’t been doing morning pages or artist dates or really anything other than slogging through life and work and BLEAH, as Snoopy would say. Not the way I want to live my life.
Part of this was what happened this weekend. Birka was this weekend, and it was a mixture of sad and happy things. The sad was going by the empty chair outside the merchant hall that someone had written “Uncle Olaf’s Chair” on, since Baron Olaf, who started the event and was almost always there, passed away suddenly in December. The happy was two-fold – I was feeling well enough that I didn’t need to “recover” so much from running around for two days straight, and I was inducted into the Order of the Silver Crescent, a service order in the Kingdom. My whole family showed up! It was awesome! And best of all, my mom passed along her medallion to me. I will cherish it.
But it showed me that life is fleeting, and that you can’t make excuses, or one day, there won’t be any more time. So morning pages are going to start again. I’m going to plan an artist’s date for myself, even if it’s something as simple as going to the library and browsing the books, or going to Gibson’s and coloring in one of my new coloring books by myself for an hour. It’s time to start refilling the well.
I start editing a new piece for a friend this week too, which I am SUPER excited about. And I’m putting together a website for another favorite project that I’ll be able to link to soon, I hope. I need to finish the Winter’s Secrets rewrite, and then it’s on to working on launching a Patreon project. I have plans, and I don’t intend to not work on them.
I don’t write fast any more. I think it’s because I’m more of the planner, and I don’t like rewrites, so I want things to be perfect (or as perfect as they can be in a first draft). But I’ve discovered that if I head to a coffee shop, or my studio, I seem to get more done lately. Which is why I love that I have a group of writers/artists that are willing to get together with me every Sunday at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord and write. If you’re in the area and want to join us, feel free. I get so much done.
Like today. I got 4454 words written in about 5 hours, which is excellent for me. Also, Gibson’s has an amazing coffee/tea bar, and the baristas are the best. I wish I could work here every day.
I’m making progress on Winter’s Secrets, and it WILL be launched at Balticon. In paperback and ebook. I’m also starting to make the outline for Advent #6 (wow, I can’t believe this will be the 6th year of this!) and the first full season of Pendragon. And I have to finish Resonant Frequencies. There’s so much to do, and only a finite amount of time.
But I’m doing it. This year is my year.
I love tea. It’s no secret that I love tea, and that I am a wee bit of a tea snob (yes, Molly totally gets it from me, except that I can’t afford to buy my personal blends all the time, so I do occasionally buy tea from the grocery store. But even then, it’s still the speciality teas. I just don’t like plain black tea anymore.) – but I used to have another habit as well. I used to live on soda.
It started in college, when I was on my own (yay!) and could make my own decisions about what to put in my body. It turns out I was woefully unprepared for such authority, which led to me living on caffeine, sugar, and about 4 hours of sleep a night. It was not a pretty sight.
In December this past year, I decided I was quitting soda again. Cold turkey. I’ve tried and failed to do this before – I’ve always cheated and then given up because “well, I’m just addicted and that’s it.” But this time, for whatever reason, it stuck.
I haven’t had a soda (barring mixed drinks) since December 3, really. I do not count ginger ale as soda, because I only drink it when I’m really not feeling well. But for those who used to know how to find me by following the trail of Pepsi cans, this is a huge thing. I’ve replaced the soda with iced tea and hot tea, and even occasionally with water. I still like bubbles, but I can get those with seltzer.
It hasn’t been easy. I still crave them, but I remind myself that tea is better (I drink mine unsweetened, so the savings in calories alone has been huge), and that soda bothers my stomach. That soda has a ton of processed garbage in it. That I have better things to drink.
That said, you will pry my rum and Coke with lime out of my cold, dead fingers. So if you see me with a soda, rest assured, there’s probably booze in it.
It’s the beginning of a new year, and one I’m hoping is better than last year. No, one I will MAKE better than next year.
I’m recommitting to several things – my goal to get healthy; my writing; and myself. Yes, I’m going to be enforcing my time to get better. I can’t take care of others at the expense of myself. I need to remember that.
Work is going to be VERY busy in the next month – my day job is in the financial sector, and it’s the tax season. Which means I need to be healthy, so I can work the hours I need to. In addition, I’m getting ready to publish Winter Secrets, which means I’ll be writing a lot, because well, I need to finish the rewrite by January 31. I’m also going to be doing at least weekly updates here (more if I can, but I’m only committing to weekly) so that I can keep all you lovely folks in the loop!
I’m not doing resolutions this year, but I have made out my business plan for the year, and I have three books to write:
- The rewrite of Winter Secrets, which will be published in May
- The first draft of Deep Waters, the first Pendragon novel
- The first draft of Resonant Frequencies
I’ll have more on that later. I’m also going to be at ConCarolinas and Balticon in the early summer, and some others maybe later in the year.
I’ve been thinking a lot about knowledge lately, in the aftermath of the attacks in Kenya, Paris, Lebanon, and Mali, among others. I’ve been listening to all the calls for war, for peace, for understanding, for hatred, and I’ve been trying to sort out what I know and what I don’t.
I know that not all people are terrorists, no matter their religion. I know most people of the world decry these actions, and want to see peace in their lifetime. But I don’t KNOW about the religions/philosophies they follow. Not as much as I want to.
So I’ve set a goal for myself for the next 13 months. I’m going to read all the religious/philosophical books I can get my hands on. I’m going to educate myself. And I’ll probably be commenting on the blog here as I do. I’m still trying to decide what to start with – it will either be the Bible, the Koran, or the Torah (as I’ve got copies of them all on my Kindle). This is the rest of my list so far:
– The Books of Mormon
– The Havamal
– The White Goddess
– The Bhagavita Gita
– The Art of Peace
– The Tao te Ching
– The IChing
– The Tipitaka
– A Course of Miracles
Anything else I should read? Any suggestions? Want to join me?
I can’t believe it’s nearly November. This year has flown by. You know what else I can’t believe?
I’m going to try and write two novels in November. Yes, I’m probably insane. But, well, what are goals for if not to inspire us, right?
I’ve started going to the studio first thing in the morning (6:30 am is an EVIL, EVIL time) and writing before work. I have a blessed studio mate who makes sure I’m fed and not bumping into walls, and so far, it seems to be working. I’ve got the first outline for Nano done (the Advent story, which is going to be awesome, you guys), and this week, I’m working on the second one (for Resonant Frequencies). I’ve got the edits back for Winter’s Secrets as well, and although I won’t make a December 1 deadline for getting that published, I do promise you it will be coming. I just want it to be perfect, and it’s not yet.
I’m hoping this helps combat some of the SAD that I know is coming. As the days get shorter, and the air gets crisp and cold, I can feel it creeping in at the edges of my mind, sinking icy fingers into my heart and turning everything pale and cold. I don’t like feeling that way, and in the past, writing has helped me stave it off. I’m hoping to repeat that success. Wish me luck.
Well, in a way it is. I’m in my favorite sweat pants and my DKP teeshirt, and I have no intention of changing. I’m going to move at a pace that still gets things done, but doesn’t wear me out. I’m getting my next Remicade treatment on Wednesday, and I’m still nurturing a cold (which needs to get the fuck out, because they won’t give me my meds if I have a cold), so it’s going to be a slow, steady mosey all day. And I can do a lot of it sitting down.
In writing news, I have the edits back from the lovely Sue Baiman for Winter’s Secret, so I can get working on those this week. Yay, this book is getting closer to being real! I also need to get cracking on the last of my beta read for Ripley Patton and get those back to her (omg, you guys, this book is SOOOOO good and she is amazing and you should go buy Ghost Hand now so you can start catching up). And of course, NaNoWriMo is coming, and I need to get moving on the outline for Advent #5.
In non-writing news, I’m holding on to an 18-lb weight loss in two months, and looking forward to doing more. I’ve gotten rid of my YMCA membership and started a membership at my work’s gym. No excuses! Also, Herbalife is awesome.
Well, the laundry isn’t going to fold itself, sadly. Time to get moving!
Of course, this could be titled “Why can’t Val do anything on a regular basis?” I seem to have issues with regularity, and I wonder why.
It could be that somewhere in my dim, distant past, something linked “a regular routine” with “boring” and I HATE boring with a fiery passion. And yes, I know that routine doesn’t have to be boring. I just don’t seem to be able to stick with it.
However, I am not a quitter, and so I’m trying again. With some differences, of course – if it hasn’t worked before, why would I try the same thing? Also, see boring, above. This time, I’m leaving my laptop at the studio, forcing myself to go in. And I’ll be doing my blog updates at the same time as my writing – they may not be long, but dammit, I’m going to update! Starting today.
I’m on the tail-end of pneumonia (yeah, in the summer. I’m talented, what can I say?), and I’m coming off a low that is partly sickness, partly sadness, and partly frustration. My new goal is 250 words a day. I’m on the Magic Spreadsheet again, and I’ve got a couple of projects that I’m working on. I have an editor for Winter’s Secrets, and one of the projects in the queue is the wedding of the summer – Molly and Drew are getting married on July 25, and they hope you’ll be there for it! There’s a 6-day Summer Advent story that will be going on, and there will be at least one prize (come on, you want one of their wedding favors, don’t you?), so keep a look out for that!
Okay, I’ve got a lot to do today, so off to the word mines!
This is where I wish I was. Sadly, instead, the pollen is falling like snow outside. I’m assuming that’s why I feel awful. I really, really hope it isn’t con crud. Really.
Balticon was amazing. It was the first time I’d been a fan, rather than a guest, and because I wasn’t on panels, I had the time to hang out, talk to people, enjoy some other panels that I might not have gotten to, and just soak in the atmosphere. And there was so much creativity in the atmosphere.
I love Balticon. I love the fact that it’s four days long, and that it brings together so many people from all over. Thank you, Paul, Nutty, Viv, Laura, Chooch, Tee, Pip, Scott, Dave, Sue, Dave, and so many more, for just being you. For being so very amazing. For being so creative. For reminding me what a family I’ve found, and how lucky I am to be a part of it.
So now that I have recovered from working the day after we drove back (yeah, that wasn’t smart, Val, seriously), I am recommitting to writing. Every day. 250 words is my minimum. I will be heading to the studio to write after work. I will be putting things out. I will be sending Winter’s Secrets to my awesome editor Sue and I will be working on some novel pitches to send out. This weekend reminded me that nothing is promised. We don’t always get a tomorrow. We don’t have all the time in the world.
It’s time to start writing.
On March 1, I said I wanted to lose 6 lbs by the end of the month. In the first week, I went to my Remicade treatment, and the scale read 310 lbs. So I needed 10 lbs to get under 300, which was my first weight loss goal of the season.
Today, I stepped on the scale and it said 298.8 lbs. Goal achieved.
Now, time for the next goal. I’ve decided that I’m doing 10 lbs at a time, and giving myself a month to do so. So by April 30, 2015, I want to lose 10 more lbs, which would put me under 290 for the first time in a long time.
I can do it. I WILL do it.
I know, it’s still a long way until spring, but seriously, I feel like I’m trapped in George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones world. Between the depression and the SAD and the god-awful snow (seriously, there’s been like 60 inches of snow in the past month!), I feel like I’m smothered in cotton. So what have I done?
I have totally been sleeping when I haven’t been at work, and eating all the foods that aren’t good for me (darn it, gluten! Why are you in all my comfort foods?) and not writing. Well, not really writing. I did get some words in February, but I didn’t finish Secrets, and I haven’t finished the first draft of Deep Waters, both of which I wanted to do. I haven’t lost any weight. I didn’t make it to the gym.
But that’s in the past. And I can’t change the past.
What I can do is focus on the future. The days are getting longer (finally), and spring is coming. I now have trackers that work for my sneakers, and I have my FitBit, which lets me see how I’m doing. I have a new desk at work, and dammit, I have a birthday coming up. I don’t want to be unhealthy any more.
I know it’s hard. I know I’ll backslide sometimes (movie theatre popcorn, you are my kryptonite!), but going forward, I’m going to keep myself accountable here on the blog, on Twitter (I’m @vg_ford there), and on Facebook. I’ve got modest goals for March:
1. 250 words a day
Not just on the blog, but on actual stories. I need to keep writing every day.
2. 8 hours of sleep
Seriously. I’m sleeping more, so that on the weekends I don’t spend until noon in bed. And I’m going to try and stick to my weekday sleep schedule on the weekends, so I don’t screw everything up. End result: if you see me online after 11 pm and I’m not out somewhere, tell me to go to bed!
3. 6 lbs gone
That’s the physical goal. 6 lbs will bring me under 300 lbs, and that’s my first goal. I can do this. No more soda, no more gluten, no more crap. It’s going to be interesting, as my gut is not happy with raw veggies and fruits right now, but I’m going to try some smoothies, and more steamed/cooked veggies. And real food, not processed food. And water. And tea. (Glorious tea)
So there’s that. I’m off now, to get my 250 words (at least), and then over to Mom and Dad’s for a roast lamb dinner. I’ll see you all tomorrow!
I just got back from Brigadoon – I mean, Balticon. (Please don’t tell me that you don’t get the reference, because then I’ll feel REALLY old. Just go with it.) The best place in the world to spend Memorial Day weekend is Hunt Valley, Maryland, at the best con in the world. No matter how down I’m feeling about my writing, Balticon picks me up and infuses me with all sorts of new creative juice.
I love the panels, where you can talk with people about all sorts of things writerly, nerdly and/or gamerly. I love randomly running into people in the hall that I haven’t seen in five or more years, and being able to pick up our conversation right where we left off the last time. I love the fact that no matter where you go, people are having amazing conversations about all sorts of things. I love the live podcasts, the readings and the chance to find all sorts of new books (so many new books!) and authors. Most of all, I love the chance to meet new friends and absorb all of the creative energy that infuses the entire weekend.
One of my panels this year was a reading, and I went out on a limb and read a scene from Into Thin Air. It was really well received, which thrilled me, and I got a lot of questions about when it would be coming out. I also got some ideas for the new book, and even got some words down! Yay!
I hate it when I don’t write. I feel stuffed up, like I have a horrible cold that nothing can help, and I get very grumpy. My cats hide from me. My husband asks me if I’m going to go up and write. My work mates throw chocolate and stay out of my way. It’s ugly.
But at the same time, if I’m writing crap, I’m also not happy. Just throwing words on the page doesn’t work. I need to be doing something that will be good. So to have the impetus to write, and to get good content out of it, makes me very happy.
I need to keep this blog up. So much is going on, so much is changing, that I need to keep this up. A lot of the changes are good. Most I can’t talk about right now. But as I’m able to talk about them, I will.
And I will be writing. Always writing.