How NaNoWriMo can Hurt Your Health… and How to Avoid it

Regular readers of this blog (all three or four of you) might recall that for most of this year, I’ve been fighting adrenal fatigue. A quick recap for the rest of you, what this basically means is, I’m tired all the time, even after getting a good night’s sleep. And that’s something that’s also hard to come by, as insomnia is a symptom of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue also weakens our immune system, as the adrenal hormones are a key part of it, and when we get sick, it takes more out of us, and takes us longer to recover.

Adrenal fatigue is caused by stress, either acute (such as by being in an accident, injury or being ill) or long-term (stressful job, drawn-out divorce, you name it). Our adrenal glands produce cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone. It’s also the stress hormone, but we need a certain amount of it to function and have energy. In a normal person, cortisol spikes a couple of hours after rising, then gradually tapers off throughout the day. When I did the 24-hour hormone testing, my cortisol only went up in a very shallow curve.

Our adrenal glands can’t tell the difference between running from a tiger, or coping with a dozen clients all wanting their projects at once, or trying to get 1,667 words done late at night. Go on like this for too long, adrenal fatigue can result. Putting my writing off until the time I should have been going to bed, then forcing myself to get the words down anyway, was a big contributor to my adrenal fatigue.

The NaNoWriMo forums and blogs are full of references to sleep deprivation, drinking lots of coffee, and pulling all-nighters to get those words in, as if these things are some kind of badge of honor. (For the non-writers out there, NaNoWriMo is an international challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.) I’ve done NaNoWriMo three times, and won (i.e., completed 50,000 words in the month) three times. Doing the all-nighter once or twice, or staying up extra late now and then to get the words in is fine, but last year, I was doing the latter almost every day. I won, but it wasn’t worth it–especially because it shouldn’t have been necessary.

I could have avoided all the sleep deprivation if I’d just gotten back into one habit that got me my win the two other times I’d done it: do the writing first. In my case, that means as soon as I get home from work on the weekdays. But last year, I let fear and the inner editor keep me from even getting started until I had to start, or I wouldn’t get my words in at all.

There are tons of resources and blogs out there to help us quash fear and the inner editor while writing, so look those up if you need to. We need to remember to keep these evils at bay when we’re not writing, too, or they’ll keep us from writing at all–or until it’s way late in the day.

50,000 words in a month sounds like a lot. It’s not. When I can keep fear and the inner editor away, I can write that much in about an hour and a half, usually broken up into two or three sessions. Professional fiction writers write this much or more all the time. So if you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, here are my suggestions:

  • Do the writing first (whether that’s first thing in the day, or first after you get home from work)
  • Ask yourself what do you have to be afraid of? And see how silly most of our fears are.
  • Focus your fears instead on the dangers of not getting enough sleep, and get your writing done early.
  • Kick the inner editor to the curb.

My adrenal fatigue is finally improving. I caught a cold right after my husband broke his arm, so that slowed things a good bit. But he is getting better, and I’m finally starting to get a bit of energy. One thing we like to do is take Isis for a walk. There is a big drainage basin near our house, and when it’s dry, my husband has started taking Isis there to throw balls to her with the ball launcher. It is great exercise for her and she loves it! When she’s tired, she lies down and waits for us to start walking home.

Isis ball 1

Isis ball 2   Isis ball 3

Isis lying down

What I read this week: the short stories and serial portions in Dean Wesley Smith’s Smith’s Monthly #7. His story “A Bubble for a Minute” was absolutely fabulous and gave me chills–in a very good way. It was sort of a time travel thing where, when a certain song was played on a record player, a detail in the past changed. A character was trying to “fix” something in the past, with devastating consequences. This is the kind of thing I write in my Saturn Society stories, and this story reminded me why I love writing them. Worth the price of the magazine alone, but there are also some always fun and entertaining Poker Boy stories, as well as the serials which I’m really liking. I’m reading the novel in the magazine now, which I’ll discuss next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: Our offer on the student rental house was accepted–yay!–and at least for now, the paperwork done. I also finished getting the notes on Dean Wesley Smith’s Productivity workshop, so those are two big tasks done, and now I’m getting back to writing more. I did meet my goal this week of finishing the scene and started the next, which netted me about 2,000 words. I averaged 200 words for four days, and wrote about 1200 yesterday. Now it’s time to up the goals–I want to hit 500 words for four days, and get at least one 1,000-word day, for a total of 3,000 words, and write five days out of seven. Oh, and I want to finish the current scene, too. Hopefully I will do more than that.

What about you–have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Did you win? Whether or not you’re a writer, have you sacrificed sleep for a goal–and was it worth it? We are having some great fall weather here in Ohio for walking–how is it where you are? And what do you like to do for exercise? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

When Everything Falls Into Place

Well, everywhere but one. I’ll get to that in a moment. Last week, we went house hunting in our daughter’s college town, and found a house everyone really liked. It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, is in a great location close to campus, is in really great shape, and the kids all loved it. Oh, and the price was right, too–almost too good to be true (but not quite, so not enough to be a red flag). Well, after we got home, the more DH and I thought about it, the more we thought we might as well just put an offer on it, so we did. The seller’s agent says he thinks they will accept, so that ball is rolling.

Then I was looking at some numbers, and found out there is a patron saint of German majors. Well, not really, and I’m not even Catholic, but there should be. I was looking over our daughter’s account on the university’s web site, and found she’d been awarded a scholarship just last week. She is going to do a study-abroad program in Germany this summer, and mentioned that there are scholarships for that, so I assumed that was what it was for and sent her a text about it.

The scholarship was a complete surprise to her, too. I did some searching, and found it was from a man who’d graduated with a German major in 1935–and left a big endowment to the university in 2005, to be used for students of German. And it wasn’t for the trip–it’s for tuition. It’s as if all of this was meant to happen–and now. And no one is allowed to give our daughter a hard time a la “what are you going to do with a German major” any more. :)

My husband’s arm is getting better too. He can bend his elbow enough to touch the top of his head, but he’s still having trouble with rotating his wrist and hand. So we are continuing to hope and pray for that to improve as he works with an occupational therapist.

AbsenceofGraceWhat I read this week: Absence of Grace, by Ann Warner. I’m still not finished, but close, and really enjoying it. This is women’s fiction, with a good romance in it. Women’s fiction usually isn’t my thing, but Ann is such a good writer, it’s in one of my favorite settings (Alaska), and the romance is so realistic and well-woven throughout, it totally works for me. Ann was one of my very first critique partners over ten years ago, and I’ve always admired her lyrical style that really digs into the emotions without ever coming close to being melodramatic. Absence of Grace is available as a free ebook–more info on her site. Highly recommended!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: One thing that has not fallen into place is my writing. All this house stuff has meant that I did not get much writing done this week. There have been inspection reports to read over, paperwork to review and sign, and paperwork to collect for the loan. I did manage to meet my goal of writing–something, anything–five days out of the week, but not very much on any day, and fell far short of my other goal to either finish a scene or write 2,000 words. However, I did get a separate writing computer set up–no Internet, no games, just the writing software, on an old computer I had–so hopefully that will help. So I’m going to think positive and shoot for the same goal this week–write five days, and either finish the scene or 2,000 words.

Isis by turtle tankIsis likes to come in there with me while I’m writing. That can make it a challenge, because that usually means she wants to play. Of course, she does that at my Internet computer, too. That’s the new writing setup in the upper right of the picture. In the upper left is the turtle tank. The turtle is up above, basking. I’ll put a picture of her here sometime. She likes when I hang out in that room and write, but is much less intrusive than Isis. :)

What about you–what good things are happening in your life now? Do you have a special place to write, or craft, or whatever special project-type-of-thing you like to do? Have you read any good books lately? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

 

Hunting Lots of Things

This week has been all about hunting. For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking Dean Wesley Smith’s online workshop on writing Productivity, and a lot of that is about hunting down more time to spend on the writing, and hunting down ways to silence the inner editor so we can get more words out of the time we do spend. Only time will tell how successful a hunt this is. It’s helping so far, but this is one of those I expect to be ongoing.

And, after closing on the apartment building a couple weeks ago, we’re now looking for a student rental house in the town where our daughter goes to college, to rent to her and three friends. We drove out there to look at a few today, and took Isis, rather than leave her crated all day.

On the way out, we stopped at some farmland/wooded property a family member owns, where my husband likes to go deer hunting. He wanted to see if the deer blind he left there last year was still there. To our surprise, it was. So that was a successful hunting trip.

For the house hunting, we did find one we really liked, as did all four of the soon-to-be tenants. It’s still early in the game to tell whether that was a successful hunting trip. A couple of the houses were vacant, so Isis got to tour them with us. For the others, she stayed outside or in the truck with someone. She was popular when we went uptown and got a bite to eat at one of the restaurants that had a patio, and by the time we left, she was totally tuckered out! On the way home, we stopped by my brother’s place, and he and DH checked out something on our truck. Isis managed to find enough energy to try to help:

Working on truck

What I read this week: I started a new book that I’m really enjoying, but am less than halfway through it, so I’m going to wait until next week to discuss.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goals for this week’s writing were to write 5 days out of 7, which I did. I forgot to mention it in my goals, but I also wanted to write 1500 words or finish a scene. I did not finish the scene, but I did write 2,000 words, so that one is also a win. Going to stick with those same goals for this week.

What about you–have you gone hunting for anything recently? Was it successful? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have this week? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

In Closing…

No, not quitting the blog. I mean that more as a summary. Also another kind of closing, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

ROW80 is officially on hiatus this week, and will start up again tomorrow, Monday the 6th. I didn’t get near what I wanted on my goals, mostly due to “life happenings.” One of those was my husband breaking his arm, but my continued working on fatigue and my own productivity was in there as well. When life happens, you can’t beat yourself up over it, just dust yourself off, get up, and move on. Easy to say, not always so easy to do. One thing I learned was that even opening the file and saying, “just write 100 words” always adds up to much more than I expect, so that’s a tool I plan to use again when life happens.

The other happening was that DH and I bought another apartment building, and had our closing last week. That brings us up to three buildings. Managing them is DH’s job. Fortunately, much of that is talking on the phone, something that doesn’t require the use to two arms. This building is right next door to the first one we bought and have owned for over ten years, and we bought it from the real estate agents who handled the sale of the other two, and the price was right so it was a no-brainer. Where it became a life-happens event was that we somehow got saddled with a loan officer who was totally incompetent and dragged the process out much longer than it should have been, and caused me to keep having to dig up additional paperwork (sometimes the same thing more than once), when it should have been once and done. But it’s over now, so all is good. We went over there one evening and met the two tenants who’d lived there a while, both really nice people who seemed like the good kind you want–i.e., take care of the place and pay on time.

Smiths-Monthly-Cover-6-web-coverWhat I read this week: Kill Game, the novel in Smith’s Monthly #6. This is a cozy mystery, and I’m not quite done with it, but enjoying it very much! There is a nice bit of romance in it, common for cozy mysteries, and I like how this one is very genuine, not forced, and works perfectly with the characters and the story. I also like that the main characters are in their 50s and 60s–retired cops who play poker and solve very old, cold cases. This one has lots of fun twists and surprising things that weren’t discovered when the case was initially investigated, much due to advances in technology. While poker playing is what brings the characters together, there’s none of it in the book, which also suits me, since I don’t find it interesting and the actual play wouldn’t affect or impact the story. The novel should be out standalone in a couple months–a good, fun mystery read!

ROW80Logo175I didn’t get much writing done at all until last night, when I managed to get almost 1,000 words. It’s amazing how fast and easy the writing goes when you can kick the internal editor out of the way and keep them out. That is what I want to work on this coming ROW80–to kick the internal editor, critical voice out of my head and keep it out so I can get a lot more written this time.

Which leads me to this round’s goals, which I am again keeping simple: Finish the current WIP and get it to the beta readers. That’s it. I also like ROW80 founder Kait Nolan’s goal of writing 20 days out of 30, so I’m adopting something similar: I want to write–something, even if only 100 words–5 days out of every week. So we’ll see how that goes!

What about you–how are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or not? If you’re participating in ROW80, what are your goals for this round? And have you had any “closings” or openings recently? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

What Inspires You?

My husband’s arm is healing well, we found when he went to his first follow-up with the surgeon this week. He obviously still can’t use his arm, but can move it, and doesn’t have much pain unless he’s doing that a lot. So that’s good news! We also got to see for the first time what all the surgeon put in there. 8-O

Broken arm

A bendable, stainless steel plate, and ten pins, in case you’re curious.

Otherwise, not much going on this week until yesterday, one of my writing friends came over for some lessons in formatting ebooks. Or rather, her husband got the formatting walkthrough, while Stacy and I got some writing talk in. Then we went to dinner afterwards, with my husband. Always fun, and I always like helping other writers.

Smiths-Monthly-Cover-6-web-coverWhat I read this week: I finished Indentured Hearts on Sunday, and wow, what a finish! A truly villainous antagonist, a life-or-death situation, and an ending that lived up to the can’t-put-it down beginning and rest of the book. Then I started Smith’s Monthly #6, and read the short stories and serial segments. This is Dean Wesley Smith’s monthly magazine that contains around 80,000 words of fiction every month, including a new novel that he typically writes in about three weeks. One of the stories was written in another writer’s established world (with permission) that I wasn’t familiar with, so I didn’t get into that story. And another one seemed more like a sociological essay on something that might be possible, and while interesting, didn’t come across as much of a story to me. But there was also a new Poker Boy story, plus a Seeder’s Universe story, and those are always fun and entertaining. And in any case, it’s always interesting to read Dean’s work after reading his Writing in Public blogs where he discussed the writing of them.

ROW80Logo175ROW80/Writing Update: ROW80 Round 3 officially ended this past Thursday. Did I meet my quarterly goals? Nope, not even close. I wanted to have the current WIP finished, but it wasn’t having that, ending up being much longer and more complex than I’d planned (and grew like this several times from the short story it was supposed to be at the beginning). Also, life stuff. Still, I’m not disappointed–the book is shaping up nicely, and is still moving forward, despite the life stuff. This past week was another one where I felt like I got almost nothing done at all, but upon checking, I got 1500 words in, so yay! There are some more life things (fortunately, good ones) planned this week, so I don’t know how much I’ll get done. If I get another 1500 words in, I’ll be happy with that. Although more would be better. ROW80 starts up again next Monday (Oct. 6), so if you’re a writer and would like a nice accountability challenge that fits in with whatever goals you set (and you can change them), consider joining us!

Finally, What Inspires You? Karen McFarland asked this question on her blog a couple weeks ago, and tagged me as one of the folks to answer. Thanks, Karen! To answer that question, a lot of things inspire me. History, for sure, especially some of the amazing people from right here in my own backyard, like Orville and Wilbur Wright, Charles Kettering, and John H. Patterson. Beautiful places, especially the surprising ones that aren’t that far away, like Cumberland Gap National Park. And of course, the wonderful fiction I read. Like Karen, I find a lot of inspiration in music. And for me, the most inspiring, best writing music comes from Canadian electronic industrial band Front Line Assembly.

Most of their music has a very cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic feel, yet it somehow goes as well with my historic time travel books as it did with Hangar 18: Legacy. But even within that, their music is widely varied from album to album. Lately, my favorite, favorite is the instrumental Airmech soundtrack album. Yes, Airmech is a video game–but those who aren’t into gaming, don’t be fooled–this is not the game music of old. This is more like epic, symphonic movie music. The complexity and multi-layeredness of the title track is just stunning. Even my mom might like it! This video is really fantastic too, and captures that post-apocalyptic feel found in much of their music:

Another of my favorites, and probably more “typical” FLA (if there is such a thing) is “The Storm,” from their Artificial Soldier album. I love the retro movie and TV footage in this one!

 

Of course, my puppy Isis inspires me too! Yes, she’s close to 70 pounds now, and still a puppy at seven months old! She just discovered Goldfish TV this week:

Fishy TV

And how she can sleep in this position, I don’t know, but how can anyone resist?

Isis weird sleeping

So tell me, what inspires you? I’m not going to tag anyone, but would love to see from my other blog friends who haven’t already been tagged. If you participated in ROW80 this round, how did you do? Even if you didn’t do ROW80, or aren’t even a writer, how did you do on whatever goals you might have? How was your week? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Recovery

Last week was not a good one to say the least. This one, at least, is getting better.

My husband’s surgery on Tuesday went well. Many thanks for all the good wishes and prayers–it never hurts! It did take longer than the doctor estimated, which was making me anxious. Then we found out why: his arm and elbow were broken not in five places like we were originally told, but in eight! So glad he’s on the mend, and the very next day was taking much less of the painkillers than prescribed.

The pain’s still with him, but his biggest problem now is that he’s bored to death. He’s watched every movie on Netflix that interests him, and has gotten to the point of spending money to play Clash of Clans (he’s played for months without spending a penny). DH is not much of a reader–he’s dyslexic, and it takes him like, forever, to get through a novel. But now, he has plenty of time, so I offered to recommend a book to him, but he said he wouldn’t be able to read on the painkillers. But maybe now… hehe! I bet he’d like Holly Lisle’s Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood, or maybe something by Bob Mayer

On Friday, we went to visit his friend who had the stroke, and wow, I could not believe how much he had improved, given how bad it was to begin with. His speech was slurred, but mostly understandable, and he could move all limbs. He said he could walk with assistance, and his parents told us he’s being moved to a rehab facility this week. So very encouraging!

DH also had his very, very, brief follow-up visit with the plastic surgeon who stitched up the cut near his eye the morning after the accident, and the doctor was impressed with how well it had healed. So more good news. It helped that DH is well-acquainted with cuts and bruises from his years playing high school football, and knew how to take care of it (and was something he could do one-handed).

Our daughter was here to visit from the university last weekend, and the only downside all week was that she brought me home the “Miami Plague.” So I’ve had a nasty cold all week, but thankfully, it’s not like the awful flu I had back in March/April that took three weeks to recover from.

IndenturedHeartsWhat I read this week: a historical romance, Indentured Hearts, by Hannah Meredith. Usually, I find the books I read on blogs, and therefore, most are by authors I “know,” at least online. This one, I found on a mailing list, where they were discussing book covers. With my graphic design experience, I like to check them out sometimes, especially when someone who says they have no design experience created a great cover after taking one class. Sometimes that can happen; usually it doesn’t. In this case, This cover is decent for amateur work, but what really drew me was the product description: it was a colonial romance about an English noblewoman who winds up an indentured servant, to a man who once was the same. I was especially interested because my own WIP is set in the same time period (mid-1700s), although on the frontier. I downloaded the sample, and was immediately hooked. Writers, if you want to see an example of a fantastic opening, go get this now! The rest didn’t disappoint, either, and I had no trouble clicking the Buy Now link at the end of the sample. Historically accurate, with real chemistry between the characters, I’m 85% through the book–and still hooked! I hope the author writes more in this series soon.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I didn’t expect to get much done this week, writing-wise, with DH’s surgery and all–and that was before I got sick. But I surprised myself! While it’s not as much as I’d have liked, I was surprised to see that I wrote over 1300 words this week. I started out just shooting for 100 words a day, and didn’t even do anything for a couple of days when I felt really crappy. But those words added up! Still going to take it easy this week, and shoot for finishing this scene plus getting a start on the next.

How has your week gone? If you’re working toward goals–of any kind–how are you doing? Anything you need to recover from? And how do you find the books you read? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

When Life Imitates Art

It has been a crazy week. Two or three people might’ve noticed that I didn’t post a blog last week. Rather than wax lyrical, I’ll get right to the action: I was at the hospital with my husband, who broke his arm Saturday night.

The short version of how he did it is, he fell some ten-twenty feet or so down a ravine leaving a festival. I was with a couple of friends and had planned to meet him in the parking lot. He shouldn’t have gone into the dark, wooded area between the festival and parking area, and a rent-a-cop security guard definitely shouldn’t have directed him there, but that’s what happened. He came stumbling up out of the woods on the other side looking like he’d come out the wrong side of a UFC match, and his arm is broken in five places.

The creepy thing? In my second novel Time’s Fugitive, a guy fell down into a ravine because it was dark, and broke his arm. I wrote that probably eight years ago, but still… weird! At least there weren’t bad guys chasing my husband.

He is due to have surgery Tuesday–couldn’t have it last week, because his arm is scraped up and that needed to heal somewhat first. So I have been playing nurse and not getting much writing done.

It’s amazing how many things are difficult, if not impossible to do with only one arm. Opening a granola bar package. Getting toothpaste. Tightening a loose towel rack. All things he tried to do while I was at work, things most of us take for granted. But he’s doing OK, and he’s keeping a good attitude about it. We are grateful to have family and friends to help, too.

We are just thankful it wasn’t worse. To put things into perspective, one of my husband’s best friends had a major stroke a couple days earlier and most likely will never walk or speak clearly again. He’s only 51.

RevelationWhat I read this week (and last): Revelation, by Maria McKenzie. This is Book Three in the Unchained Trilogy, and mostly focused on Selina, the granddaughter of an escaped slave whose actress mother appeared white and “passed” as such. At the end of Book Two, Masquerade, she’d convinced Selina that life would be so much easier for her if she did the same and pretended her black relatives didn’t exist. Revelation takes Selina through the second, third, and fourth decades of the twentieth century, through marriage, motherhood, and reconnecting with her dark twin brother. Unlike her mother, Selina is a sympathetic character, for we see how she’s constantly torn by the choice she made, up to where the book ends with her great-grandchildren in 1998. A fantastic, enjoyable read and highly recommended!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: Before my husband’s injury, I finished a scene, and most of another, which I finished this past week. I hope to get another done this week between helping him, so we’ll see how that goes.

Do you have any examples of life imitating something you’re read (or written!) in a book? Have you read any good books lately? How are your goals going, whatever those may be? Please share–I’d love to hear from you! Also, any prayers and good thoughts for my husband and his friend are welcome!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Do Cheap and Free Books Kill Sales?

This has been one of those weeks where not much has happened–and I’m fine with that, although I wish more writing had happened. The weather has been hot, humid yuck–typical for Ohio in August, and something we’ve had much less of this summer than most. I think that’s contributed to this past week being a tired, headachey one.

I did have a follow-up appointment at the hormone therapy clinic, where the nurse practitioner upped my dosage on some of my supplements when I told her I’d seen some improvement in my adrenal fatigue, but not as much as I’d hoped. So we’ll see how that goes.

My husband and I also went to a friend’s for a cookout last night. Our friend asked us to bring Isis, since her kids had a blast playing with her the last time we were there. So we did, and we learned not hold our glasses near the floor, even after our hostess brought out a doggie water bowl.

Isis Drinking Wine

 

There has been a lot of discussion on one of my email lists about a small publisher that’s in financial difficulty right now due to depressed sales, and what the causes of that might be. Everyone agrees that this publisher’s ebooks are priced too high, but what’s the right price? Some say that the proliferation of free and $ .99 books have taught readers not to pay more, that there are enough free books on Amazon, why ever buy? Others disagree. Of course there are some readers who indeed only download freebies or buy $.99 books and bundles, but there are also those who want specific books and authors and are willing to pay for them–within reason. I definitely fall into the latter group. But it does underscore the importance of finding readers who really enjoy my work, and want to buy it.

This whole free book thing is even more of a consideration with the launch of Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited program, where readers can pay $9.99 a month and read as many books as they want, of those enrolled in the program. My science fiction romance Hangar 18: Legacy is in KU, so if you’re a subscriber, you can give it a try for free!

What I read this week: I finished Forbidden by Zoe Winters, and thoroughly enjoyed it! I started a new one the other night that was really good–one that pulled me in so much that, even after I couldn’t keep my eyes open and turned out the light (and the Kindle), I couldn’t sleep. And not in a good way–stuff in the book kept tumbling through my mind. So I started another one last night, but am not far enough in to discuss yet. Both are by authors I love, so I have no doubts I’ll finish them, but the first I’ll have to read earlier in the day, which I have difficulty finding time for. I also read a research book, The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America by Dale Taylor. Good stuff for my WIP.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I did not get as much done this week as I wanted. I got most of one scene written (might be able to finish tonight), but I’d hoped for two. Since tomorrow is a holiday, I’ll try for that again this week.

What about you–do you think the massive amounts of free and cheap ebooks available makes people less likely to buy? What’s the weather been like lately where you live–and does it affect your health? Whether or not you’re participating in ROW80, how are you doing with whatever goals you might be working toward this week? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Return to Routine

There is something about “back to school” time that gets people back into a frame of mind of getting things done that aren’t yard work/fixup type of tasks. Even those who don’t have kids in school–either theirs are past that, not there yet, or they don’t have any (or just have the four-legged kind)–seem to drift back into a regular routine way of thinking once the yellow school buses hit the road come August.

That is definitely true for writers, particularly those with kids. Dean Wesley Smith calls summer the “time of great forgetting” for writers–as in, they forget all those goals and great plans, and he has very few people signing up for workshops, fewer emailing or asking questions on his blog, etc. Having the kids home from school definitely slowed my accountability buddy. Easy to understand, as she’s a stay-home mom and her kids are young enough to need the extra attention. Mine is in college, so that wasn’t as much an issue for me (especially since she seemed to spend most of her time at friends’), and I managed to ramp up overall output (though not to what I’d like yet), and took a couple workshops too.

But we took the daughter back to college yesterday, and even I feel that sense of needing to get into a more solid routine. DH and I want to do more meal planning, something we’ve been really bad at lately, resulting in a lot of conversations like this:

Him: You hungry?

Me: A little. You?

Him: Yeah. Anything sound good to you?

Me: I can’t really think of anything. What about you?

Him: I don’t know.

Me: Well, what do we have? All I can think of is a bunch of frozen stuff.

Him: Yeah, me too. So what sounds good?

Me: I don’t know. Anything sound good to you?

Isis after bathSo we end up going out to eat far too often. That needs to stop.

The house already seems quieter with the daughter gone, even though she spent a lot of time away at friends’ places over the summer. I will admit I don’t miss her clutter, though. DH and I have enough of our own.

We kicked off the new routine by giving Isis a bath. She didn’t like that too much. No photos, because I was busy holding her while he hosed her down and washed, but she seemed none the worse afterward. :)

ForbiddenWhat I read this week: Forbidden, by Zoe Winters. This is the latest in her Preternaturals paranormal romance series, one I’ve enjoyed for a long time. Ms. Winters is excellent at pulling together couples who have tons of conflict between them–in this case, a vampire priest and an angel who was the vampire who turned him. Though I’m not yet finished with it, as expected, this book does not disappoint!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I spent the earlier half of the week reading Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and planning what scenes I need to add in to my WIP. It’s a book on screenwriting, but 90% of it applies to commercial fiction as well. Lots of good stuff there and already useful. My other goal was to get one of my new scenes written and I did, though it was a short one. Still a win! This week, I want to continue with the new scenes, and am shooting for two.

What about you–whether or not you have kids, do you feel ready to settle back into a routine once school’s back in session? Do you plan for dinner, or do you have conversations like me and my husband? Read any good books lately? And whether or not you’re participating in ROW80, how are you doing with whatever goals you may be working on? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

 

Characters We Love to Hate

Rainbow Layer CakeThe week started out last Sunday with a family birthday gathering. My daughter’s 19th birthday was the week before, and my brother’s was this past week, so we always celebrate them together. When I asked my daughter what kind of birthday cake she’d like, she said “something fruity–maybe one of those Jello cakes.” When I found this Rainbow Layer Cake online, I couldn’t resist, and since my brother also likes fruit-flavored cakes, I knew it would be perfect. Sure enough, it was easy to make, and a big hit after our cookout.

A couple days later, our daughter left for GenCon (a gaming convention, for those not in the know), so it’s been quiet around here. She leaves to go back to school next weekend, so time to get used to it. DH and I ate out several times, and he got a lot of work done in the garage, while I did a lot of reading–and a lot of writing.

MASQUERADEWhat I read this week: We’ve all seen them on TV, and maybe read them in books: the character who’s totally self-centered, manipulative, and who goes through life without a care for anyone but him/herself. There is nothing about this character we relate to or sympathize with. We love to watch to see this character get her come-uppance, or if a criminal, be brought to justice, and be triumphed over by the characters we do like and root for.

In my case, this is seldom a main character–I don’t want to spend that much time with someone I’d so despise in real life. That’s especially true for a novel, where we’re talking several hours, rather than 40 minutes or so (not counting commercials), or maybe two hours for a movie. But this week, it was exactly that kind of character that pulled me in, in Masquerade, by Maria McKenzie.

I don’t know why this book sat on my virtual to-be-read shelf for so longMasquerade is historical fiction and a family saga, set in my favorite time period, the turn of the twentieth century. I loved both of McKenzie’s prior books, one of which was Escape, the prequel to Masquerade. Maybe it was because Lavinia, the main character in Masquerade, was introduced in Escape, and we already saw how manipulative she was when she convinced a wealthy theater owner to marry her. He was smitten by her beauty, but she was only interested in his money and connections, to start the career she craved in acting.

I couldn’t find any sympathy for this woman. And I couldn’t put the book down. After thinking about it, I realized I found her so intriguing because she had a secret vulnerability: Lavinia was “passing”–meaning she appeared white, but had African ancestry (her mother was black, an escaped slave). This secret would destroy her career if found out. I’ve found it intriguing to learn that “passing” was not all that unusual in the early 20th century–a surprising number of yesteryear’s stars we always thought of as white actually had African or Asian ancestry, as noted on McKenzie’s blog–and fascinating fodder for her book. Revelation, the third installment of the trilogy, just came out a couple weeks ago, and I know this one won’t wait on my TBR pile for long!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal this week was to finish the ending scene for my work-in-progress, and I did! It ended up being much longer than I thought–actually, it was two scenes, to the tune of 4,300 words, more than I’ve written in one week in a long time. But most importantly, they both got written, so I’m very happy about that. One thing to note, I’m saying “finish the ending scene” rather than “finish the first draft” because I know there are several scenes to add in. Normally I write in order, but the romance plot just wasn’t gelling for me early on in the book, so I wrote around it. On the plane on the way to Puerto Rico in April, I realized what the romantic conflict was (the change I mentioned that would require massive work to implement, but would make the book so, so much better). So now it’s time to work that in. My goal: List the scenes, and write the first one, where the couple meet.

Fun fact about Isis: sometimes DH fluffs her pillow. No, our dog is not spoiled at all. :D

Fun fact about Isis: sometimes DH fluffs her pillow. No, our dog is not spoiled at all. :D

What about you–made any cool new recipes lately? Who are some characters you loved to hate, either in books or TV/movies? Were you familiar with the idea of “passing?” If you’re participating in ROW80–or even if you’re not, how are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.