ROW80: Fourth Quarter Summary

This week has been all about holiday stuff and writing. There were two work parties, which were held during work–the best kind! On the home side, I still need to get stocking stuffers, but otherwise, my Christmas shopping is done, and the last of my gifts arrived from Amazon yesterday. So all I need to do now is wrap them.

I also got the Christmas cards out–hopefully in time for them to arrive on or before Christmas Eve (with the exception of one that goes overseas–they’ll understand). The cards arrived from Shutterfly last week, but I put off sending them because I wanted to do a holiday newsletter, which I haven’t done for the past couple of years.

 

It's hard to believe Isis looked like this when we got her in April--now she's over 80 lbs!

It’s hard to believe Isis looked like this when we got her in April–now she’s over 80 lbs!

I didn’t feel like I got a lot of writing done, at least in words added, because I was doing a lot of editing and deleting, to make the newer stuff fit in with older stuff. (I have new respect for writers who write out of order!) But when I added it up, the new words came out to over 4700! And that’s in addition to those that made up for the ones I cut, which is probably 1000 more.  Let’s not talk about what my house looks like at the moment. :D

MillionProdWhat I read this week: I wanted to pick up some nonfiction, so I read one of the books from the NaNoWriMo Story Bundle I got last month, Million Dollar Productivity by Kevin J. Anderson. This was fairly short–so you can get back to writing!–but had some good tips. I found it especially interesting how the author manages to write a half million words a year on his fiction while also editing anthologies, doing several cons and workshops a year, and he revises his fiction too. What he does is go on long hikes, and dictates his fiction, then sends it to a typing service,  at times to the tune of over 10,000 words/day!  8-O But most of his tips work for any process, no matter when and where you can write. Recommended!

I am close, but not finished with the novel, and it’s promising to have an exciting end, so I’ll come back to that next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: This week marks the end of ROW80 for Round 4, and for the year. Actually, the end falls on Christmas Day, but I normally only post on Sunday, so I’ll give my end-of-round update now. My primary goal was to finish my current WIP and get it to the beta readers. That has not happened, in large part because it just keeps growing larger and more complex. Just this week, I identified three more scenes that need to be added, one of which I wrote this past week, and started another (see note about about writers who write out of order!). My other goal was to write five days out of every week. There are 11-1/2 weeks in 80 days, and I hit this seven weeks. Looking at it monthly looks better: I wrote 21 days in October, 22 in November, and so far 17 in December (and haven’t written yet today as I tend to do more writing at night). I didn’t mention it in my blog, but I also wanted to establish a more regular writing routine and most of all, have more fun with my writing, and I consider both of those a success! So even though I didn’t meet my main objective this Round, I consider it to be one of “failing to success,” as Dean Wesley Smith likes to say. His discussion on that is very worth reading, especially if you want to increase your output and have more fun with your writing.

What about you–how’s your year-end shaping up? If you’re participating in ROW80, how did your round go? Your year? Or heck, even if you don’t do ROW80, how did you do with whatever goals you might have? Have you ever failed to meet a goal, yet still consider it a success? Please share–I’d love to hear from you! And if you celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful one!

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.

A Visit with Santa Paws

It’s been a busy week–that time of the year, of course!–so this update will be short.

We took Isis to see Santa, even though she’d been naughty last night. My husband figured she’d been trying to email Santa a letter preceding her meeting with him, and had a bit of trouble. Let’s just say we owe our daughter a Google Nexus 7 tablet or equivalent. At least they’ve come down in price!

But we’d planned to see Santa, so off to Pet Supplies Plus we went. While waiting her turn, Isis met an interesting furry friend:

Isis and Rabbit

Then, she got to see Santa. We don’t know what she asked for, but we spent enough money at PSP I can guess that she got it!

Isis and Santa

When we got home, some neighbors stopped by to introduce us to their new “baby.” Just wait until summer, and that baby will be bigger than Isis–she’s a Great Dane!

Isis and Jules

What I read this week: I started in on another novel, but am only halfway through that, so will discuss when I finish (or get close). I did get most of my Christmas shopping done! It helps that my family is small, and the friends I exchange gifts with, don’t do so until after Christmas. I got my cards from Shutterfly, although I still need to write up my note for friends I don’t correspond with all the time to catch them up, before sending them out. But that’s a big load off.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I also managed to hit my writing goal this week. I not only finished my scene, it clocked in at 4400 words! So quite happy with that. This week, I hope to get the next scene fixes done, and start in on writing the next new scene, which comes after that, to the tune of 1,000 words.

How about you–if you celebrate Christmas, do you have your shopping done, and cards sent out? Have you ever taken a pet to see Santa? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have this week–or the rest of this year, whether writing or otherwise? 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.

 

Be Kind to Yourself for the Holidays

The holidays are the most stressful time of year for many of us, with all of the extra things to do on top of our already too-full to-do lists, plus all those things we want to (or have to) tie up by year-end.

Adrenal fatigue is largely caused by stress, whether a single event, or more commonly, chronic overdoing it, so those of us who’ve reached this state need to be extra mindful when dealing with more stress. So, the best way to begin to heal from adrenal fatigue (or prevent it in the first place) is to avoid unnecessary stress whenever possible.

So to that end, here are some things I’m doing to be kind to myself–and reduce stress–for the holidays:

  • Decorating: stop worrying about outdoing or impressing anyone, and just put up those decorations that are meaningful to us and those we care for. Less is more!
  • Cooking: Nothing wrong with simplifying! Again, stick to those dishes that are particularly enjoyed, and skip the stuff we’ve been doing just because we’ve been doing it for years.
  • Parties: Go to the ones we enjoy, skip the ones we just feel obligated to attend when at all possible. And do we need to bring something? If not, don’t. If so (or if we really want to), get something easy we can just pick up. No need to bring a “famous” homemade dish that takes a lot of time and effort, unless it’s one of those things those we care about will really miss.
  • This year's Christmas card photo

    This year’s Christmas card photo

    Shopping: I hate crowds and traffic, so I do as much as possible online. And whether we go out or online, planning ahead helps us not only do the job faster and with less stress, but also helps us to spend less money we didn’t intend to (another source of stress).

  • Cards: This used to be one of the most stressful aspects of the holidays for me, because I used to design fancy, custom ones and printed my own. Invariably, the designing took far longer than necessary, and the printer would jam several times before I got them all printed, and maybe would run out of ink, too. I now just upload a few photos to Shutterfly and order them there. Not cheap, even with the special offers, but still uniquely ours and sooooo much easier.
  • Addressing cards: I buy Avery shipping labels (or similar) and use Word templates and a mail merge to fill ‘em in. Much easier than hand writing!
  • Gift wrapping: I still can’t stomach paying Amazon $3.49 to wrap a gift, but my wrapping has gotten much simpler over the years. When I was in school and had much less stress (not to mention no job), I loved to wrap fancy gifts with tons of extra ribbons and bows. Now they get wrapped, and maybe a bow, and about half just go into a gift bag. I remember one high school friend whose parents used to wrap each kid’s presents in a one specific paper. No gift tags; everyone knew which was theirs just from the paper. And it was the gift that mattered, not the wrapping job. Brilliant!
  • Treating yourself: I got a haircut this week. That may be no big deal to many of you, but I hadn’t taken the time to do this one simple thing for over six months! So I went to Square One Salon, where they include a mini-facial with the cut, which was so relaxing and worth it. I will not wait so long to go back.
  • And yes, I also spent plenty of time reading!

Speak of LoveWhat I read this week: I finished the novel Speak of Love by Linda Madl. This is a historical romance set in the 17th century Scottish isles. The characters were well-drawn, interesting, and believable for the time period while still sympathetic, but what I especially liked about this book was the real history that was worked in. This did not have a lot of steamy stuff in it, but was definitely not a “sweet” romance either–IMO the sensuality level was just right for the story, the characters, and the other things going on. If you enjoy historical romance, pick this one up!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I’m going to consider this week a “failing successfully” week. I was completely not thinking when I set a goal of making the big picture changes in the rest of my WIP. Turns out it needs two more scenes, which I realized as I reworked the last one, not to mention that making the big-picture changes is more of a job than I thought, given the scope of the major change introduced 3/4 through the first draft. So my goal for this week is to complete one of the new scenes, or 1500 words–a reasonable goal, as I also still need to finish Christmas shopping, and I have a party to attend that I am really looking forward to.

What about you–do you find yourself stressed over the holidays, or are you good at being kind to yourself? And in what was do you do that? Got any additional tips or ideas? How are you doing on whatever goals you might be working toward, whether writing-related or not? 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.

Traditions, Old and New

Holidays invariably evoke a sense of tradition, regardless of the form our family takes. That’s certainly the case with Thanksgiving, and probably more so with the upcoming Christmas (or whichever winter holiday you celebrate).

One thing nice about traditions is they make planning easy. For Thanksgiving every year, I know I’ll be cooking green beans (just like my grandma used to make them), biscuits, and gravy. My mom knows she’ll be bringing mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, vegetables, and cranberry.

But other traditions have changed. Some of that is due to family members no longer with us–for example, my Grandma Powell used to fix the things I now do–and some is due to shifts in kids growing up, marriages, or divorce. One person who’s soon to be an ex used to bring the desserts. My daughter has grown to love cooking and baking, so that’s now her contribution, along with stuffing balls. A cranberry salad recipe that my other grandma used to bring, seems to have passed on along with her. My mom couldn’t find it, so she tried a different one last year. Funny thing is, most of us like that one much better!

The turkey’s also gone through some changes. Mom used to get up early to get it in the oven every year. But about 15 years ago, a friend introduced my husband to deep fried turkey, and he’s refused to touch baked turkey since. For a while, we had two–my mom still baked one, since a fried turkey requires marinating, and all of the marinades seem to be Cajun spiced–and half our family can’t eat or doesn’t like spicy stuff. Then my husband tried injecting half the turkey with plain melted butter. It was a hit!

Some of my friends have gone even further in changing traditions–they’ve ordered their entire meal out! I wouldn’t mind this at all, especially the reduced cleanup. But for now, I do enjoy my family’s way–and knowing it can change when it needs to.

Probably the best current tradition, though, is having my daughter home for a few days. Isis seems to agree:

Isis Thanksgiving

book-smallWhat I read this week: The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, by Fawne Hansen and Dr. Eric Wood. Ms. Hansen emailed me a few weeks ago after seeing my blog, and offered me a free copy of her book. When I clicked over to her website, www.adrenalfatiguesolution.com, I recognized it as one I’d found several good articles on while researching adrenal fatigue earlier this year. This is one of the newer and more comprehensive books on the subject, and while much of the same information can be found in the earlier books, it’s put together in a clear form that’s easy to understand for someone who’s not a healthcare professional, and is also neatly tied together at the end to help the reader put together his/her own plan for recovery. Some of the other books I’ve read focus more on reducing stress, or on diet, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Many don’t even mention hormone replacement therapy, which is important because all of these systems work together, and may be the missing piece, particularly for people of a certain age. This book is nicely balanced, and what I really liked was its reasonable approach to exercise that recognizes that someone with adrenal fatigue is too tired to do much physical activity. This book gives a good baby-steps way to begin a workout routine that won’t overtax the adrenal glands, and even gives some simple deep-breathing starter exercises. Recommended for anyone who thinks they may be dealing with adrenal fatigue, or who simply wants to learn more about it.

I also am almost done with the novel, but this is getting long so I’ll share that next week. I’m still working on The Indie Author Power Pack, too, which is why the novel’s going so slowly.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I got almost halfway through my book in fixing the big-picture changes required by the big plot change I started 3/4 through. I don’t feel like I did much, but I did meet my goal. This week, I have to finally start shopping and doing holiday stuff, but I still am going to shoot for working the big-picture changes through the rest of it.

What about you–what are some of your holiday traditions, whether for Thanksgiving, or an upcoming holiday? Have you started your winter festivities preparations yet? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? 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.

Tying Up Loose Ends

This has been another week of closures, of varying types. We closed on our student rental house on Thursday, which was delightfully easy compared to the last purchase. Having to deal with one incompetent, ball-dropping person on the last one dragged out the process; luckily there was no one like that this time. So now we’re looking to see if we can find some short-term tenants to occupy the place until our next-school-year’s committed ones move in.

We celebrated with–wait for it–a trip to the pet store. We bought Isis a giant rawhide bone, which occupied her all evening. We were both tired afterward–my husband had run around doing errands all day, and I was my normal tired–and my husband decided it was the “best $20 we ever spent.” LOL!

"This is gonna take awhile..."

“This is gonna take awhile…”

Yesterday was somewhat of a beginning, for an end that came a couple weeks ago: the last meeting of my RWA chapter. We have no one qualified to run for president, so the November meeting was our last. We’re having a holiday party next month, then we’re done–at least as an RWA chapter. But there are other writing groups in the area, including a very small one my friend Jim Winter started a while back. We invited another of my writing friends yesterday, and for the first time ever (since I’ve attended at least), everyone was in attendance (well, except for the guy who moved to the west coast). Four professional writers and two relative beginners eager to learn, talking about writing and business and all sorts of nerdy stuff--great fun, as always.

What I read this week: Still going to wait on that, because I’m not much farther through any of it, and all is good and deserving of attention. I’m still working on The Indie Author’s Power Pack, and also started a new book on Adrenal Fatigue that the author offered to me for free after seeing my blog a couple weeks ago. That has some good info I haven’t seen before, so I will be discussing it when I finish. I’m still working on the same novel, too. Enjoying it, just slowly due to the nonfiction reading.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: The writing was also a finishing up of some loose ends–I completed not only the scene I was working on last week, but the next two as well (none were long scenes). My goal was to finish one of them and write at least 3,000 words; I exceeded that and wrote around 4,000. So a big win for me! However that brings me to a turning point. I have now finished all of the completely new scenes the book needs, and now need to go through and start working in changes elsewhere throughout the book. Some of this will be deletions, too. So my goal this week is to get through 1/4 of the book–at least marking where new sections go, if not actually writing them. I am hosting Thanksgiving, but my family is small and my mom, husband, and daughter share in the cooking, so it’s not stressful, and am hoping the time off will help.

What about you–have you tied up any loose ends lately? Or see any in your near future? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? What are you doing for Thanksgiving? 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.

Trying New and Old Things

Isis in computer room

Isis relaxing in the doorway of the computer room

This has been a week of catching up, on several fronts. I’ll hit the writing further down, but it’s also been a recovery of energy for me. Last weekend was such a busy one, it really took it out of me, energy-wise, so this week has been a lot of rest until yesterday. Fortunately, my energy levels had improved again by then, because my husband and I hosted a birthday dinner for one of my best friends from college and her partner.

This may not seem like a big deal to many people, but when you’re one of those not gifted with the hostess gene (I’m convinced there’s such a thing), it’s not trivial. Add fatigue to that, and a spouse who normally helps but is hindered by having the use of only one arm… well, let’s say I’m glad I know these friends well enough that I don’t worry that my house wasn’t spotless for them.

Which was great because that left my energy free for food preparation. My college friend went vegan about three years ago, so that involved a bit more planning as far as the menu went. Being vegan is something I can’t imagine doing–just getting enough protein is something many find difficult, but my friend is healthier and more active that she’s ever been in the 25+ years I’ve known her, so that doubles my interest in being supportive of her choice. Meanwhile, her partner, whose birthday was a week before my friend’s, was really looking forward to a good steak.

So while my husband was literally single-handedly grilling steaks, I was grilling Cilantro-Lime Tofu on the George Foreman grill. That’s definitely new to me, as neither me nor my husband like tofu, so we’ve never cooked it. I’d found the recipe a few days earlier and it sounded really good (even to me), so I figured I’d give it a try. My friend scarfed it, so it must’ve been good. :) I tried a bite, and indeed, it wasn’t bad at all. However, the rest of us enjoyed our steaks.

The other somewhat-new thing I fixed was roasted squash. My daughter introduced us to this a few weeks ago, last time she was home. She went to a farm market and bought a butternut squash, and an acorn squash, and fixed the former that night. Yum!  We still had the acorn squash, so I did the same with it. There wasn’t much of it, but what there was, was good.

For dessert, my husband had requested apple pie. He loves Mehaffie’s Pies, which are an old Dayton standard, but they don’t list ingredients on their website, and when I researched, I found that most store-bought pies and pie crusts contain lard, whey, or both. So to ensure our pie was vegan, I went back to another old standard–my grandma’s pie crust (aka Classic Crisco pie crust), and made it myself. It was a bit of work, but well worth it–the pie disappeared quickly!

IndiePowerPackWhat I read this week: I started The Indie Author Power Pack, by David Gaughran, Joanna Penn, Johnny B. Truant, and Sean Platt. I’m about halfway through the first book, Write, Publish, Repeat, by Truant and Platt, and have already picked up a ton of good ideas to put to use once I ramp up production and get more books out. I believe this is a limited edition, and is currently $.99. If you’re an author–regardless of publishing path–there is a lot of useful stuff in here. Highly recommended.

I’m also reading a novel, but am not far enough in to discuss, so leaving that for next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal last week was to go through my WIP to see what I have, where the new scenes fit in, and what’s still needed. That’s done, and a big relief to see I only need three more new scenes, unless something pops in and surprises me–which would not be a surprise. I also finished the scene I was working on, which only needed a few paragraphs. So this week, I want to get back on track with producing new words, and finish a new scene or 3000 words.

What about you–what new things have you tried lately? Any old favorites you’ve dug out after a long time? Read any good books lately? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, writing, ROW80, or otherwise? 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.

Life Comes Before Writing

Sometimes the rest of life keeps us from writing, or for those who aren’t writers, from doing the other things we want to do. Sometimes that sucks. Sometimes, it’s okay. Because sometimes, we just need a little break from our writing (or other pursuits), and the fact is, experiencing life is what informs our writing. hockeyThat was the kind of week I’ve had.

My writing had already ground to a halt because I need to go back and figure out where some of the newer material I’m adding to the novel fits in, and what else is needed. And by the time I started figuring it out, life got busy. Friday night, DH and I drove out to the daughter’s college town to take her winter coats to her, which she will very much need next week. We took her and a friend out to dinner, then went to a hockey game. A good time, and we won, but it put us home rather late.

Yesterday, I had my RWA chapter meeting–always fun to see my writer friends, but also a good chunk out of my day, as it’s an hour drive each way. fire

After that, I needed to help DH clean house, to prepare for having friends over to celebrate a long-time-coming milestone: the seventh anniversary of selling the bar we used to own. Why it’s a milestone is because it means we no longer have to keep any of the paperwork for tax purposes. So we had LOTS of paperwork to get rid of. Since we don’t own an industrial-grade paper shredder, the only remaining suitable way to get rid of it was to have a bonfire–or, since we’re in city limits, two approved-size fires. We had six shopping bags full of paperwork, and it took over three hours to burn it all! But it was worth it, and great fun too.

What I read this week: I am currently beta-reading a science fiction novella a long-time friend will soon publish. And wow is it fantastic! Some fascinating aliens with some rather interesting anatomy, not to mention cultures, politics, and war–and funny twists on some sci-fi tropes. Since it is not yet published, I won’t name the book or author, but when it becomes available, you can bet I’ll announce it here, especially since the author is planning to offer it for free as an introduction to his new series. ROW80Logo175

ROW80 update: This week has been pretty much a bust for writing. No matter; I’ll get back to it this week. But before I can really get into producing more words, I need to get the story more organized and figure out which scenes go where, and what’s still needed. People who write out of order as a matter of course–I don’t know how you do it, and I am in awe! So that’s this week’s goal. On the puppy front–yes, Isis is still a puppy, though now, no one would know it to look at her. She’s now eight months old, and weighs over 80 lbs.! She doesn’t seem to realize that, however, as evidenced by this pic of her being a lapdog: Isis lapdog What about you–do you sometimes find that life takes over your want-to-do activities? Are you okay with it? That’s something I’ve had to learn. How are you doing on whatever goals you might be working toward, writing or otherwise? 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.

A Blessedly Uneventful Week

Isis as Loli Rottie

Isis as Loli Rottie

Sometimes we all need one of those! I’m sure for many, it wasn’t uneventful, simply because Halloween was part of it. Me, I haven’t really gotten into Halloween much for many years. With our daughter away at school, neither me or my husband even thought about it much this year–to the point that, the day before, we realized we hadn’t even bought trick or treat candy! That was just as well, because buying it too soon = we eat half of it before trick or treat comes. So DH bought it on Friday, we had all of maybe 15-18 trick-or-treaters, then plenty of leftovers. :)

Isis did dress up a bit, however. We found this Sweet Lolita hat in our daughter’s room, and it was too perfect not to try on her.

It got cold here in Ohio this week! Taking Isis for a walk yesterday was quite chilly, and today, the Camaro gets its winter tires put on. I remembered to bring in the daughter’s potted roses, so now they are sitting beside my writing computer. They must like it there, too, because within days, they started sprouting tons of new leaves.

Smiths-Monthly-Cover-7-webWhat I read this week: The Slots of Saturn by Dean Wesley Smith. This is the full-length novel that’s in Smith’s Monthly #7, and is the origin story of his superhero character Poker Boy.  What’s interesting about the Poker Boy stories is how fun and entertaining they are to me, who has almost no interest in poker. That’s a testament to the worldbuilding and storytelling: Poker Boy’s superpowers relate to the skills he has that make him a champion poker player–his ability to read people, for instance–but there’s very little actual poker in the stories. And lots of details about the world of casinos that work with his powers that make the stories just plain fun.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goals were to write 5 out of 7 days this week, and to get 3,000 words down. I got the 3,000 words (barely!), but wrote every day. For some reason, it was a struggle to stay in the chair, even though writing is fun. Next week, I have a lot going on Saturday, so won’t be able to put much, if any, time in on the book that day. So it will be a push, but I’m shooting for the same goal.

What about you–do you enjoy Halloween? Do you dress up, or go to parties? How’s the weather been where you are? And 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.

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.