I’m Back

Six weeks ago, we moved into our new house.

In a way, it’s been a long six weeks. In another way, it seems like it’s been no time at all.

The house wasn’t 100% finished when we moved in. We gave the builder a punch list when we were here on Labor Day weekend. They finished the things they needed to get a Certificate of Occupancy, but didn’t fix any paint dings, unevenly-hung doors, or things like that.

Nor did they clean (they wanted $3000 to do that, then came down to $1500. Plus the builder’s 15% fee. No thanks).

But the move finally happened three weeks later. We’re here, and slowly cleaning, fixing things, and unpacking.

But never mind all that. How about some pictures?

Even U-Haul’s biggest moving truck couldn’t fit all our stuff! DH has had to make several trips back to Ohio, mostly for garage stuff. Maybe we have too much?
The disaster that was my office after moving day
The kitchen and dining room three weeks later, after our daughter and her partner helped us clean. There were still boxes shoved against the island.
Husband and dogs napping in the family room
The view off our deck one foggy morning, with clouds layered between the mountains
After a couple weeks of constantly sweeping dog hair, we got a robot vacuum. Isis still isn’t sure what she thinks of it.
One day my husband kept hearing something going clunk… clunk… near his truck. Then he saw the legs underneath. I guess this wild turkey thought he found a new friend in the truck’s shiny, black door!
The front of the house, complete with junk still on the front porch.
The back of the house, with some grass growing now that we’re finally getting some rain!
Taking a walk down the driveway. The dogs love it out here!
The office is no longer a disaster! Isis approves.
…but there are still plenty of boxes to be unpacked, mostly books (does that surprise anyone?)

As you can guess, there hasn’t been much writing happening. Since early summer until this past week, I think I broke out the WIP twice, maybe three times. And those Big Hairy Audacious Goals I came up with back in January?

Um, yeah. Not happening.

But I’m now getting back into my WIP. This past week, I went to Las Vegas for Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Business Master Class for writers. Well worthwhile, though much of what I learned there is future oriented–as in, information I’m not ready to put to use right now, but that will be good to know for planning, ideas, and just knowing what’s possible.

I also got to meet some cool and interesting people, including Smith, creator and owner of Bookfunnel Damon Courtney, BundleRabbit creator and owner Chuck Heintzelman, Mark LeFebvre of Draft2Digital, and Allison Longuiera who runs WMG Publishing for Smith and Rusch. 

While the learning opportunity was great and met my expectations, the workshop helped me achieve my other main goals: 1) get my writing mojo back and 2) bust out of my comfort zone.

Granted, the whole move has been about the latter, especially given that I’ve been interviewed on TV twice since then! That was for our neighborhood group that continues to fight the business that’s trying to go in across the street from my house. They are trying some different tactics now (requesting a new mixed-use zoning designation instead of commercial), but so are we. All is still up in the air, though I highly doubt they’ll get to do as large an enterprise as they’re shooting for.

What I’ve Been Reading

Plenty! I have to read at least a little bit to go to sleep at night. But this is already going long, so I’ll go over some of those books next time.

What I’ve Been Writing


As noted above, not much! After I returned from Vegas, my goal was to simply open my WIP each night and just write something. I did that. Now it’s time to jump back into ROW80, “the Writing Challenge that Knows You Have a Life.” For those unfamiliar with the group, the year is broken up into four quarters, or “rounds.” They’re already well into Round 4, but what’s great about ROW80 is you can jump in any time, set goals that work for you, and get that accountability some of us need on their blog or Facebook page. 

I still have a lot to do in my office and around the house, so I’m going to keep this week’s goals modest: 100 words/day, for six days. Wish me luck! And visit other ROW80 members on the blog or on Facebook.

What have you been up to lately? I’ve tried to keep up with my blog reading this summer, but that too has been down a bit in the past few weeks, so let me know! Did you make any Big Hairy Audacious Goals at the beginning of the year? If so, how are you doing on them? Please share in the comments–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, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Land Ho

I missed blogging last week for a (in my opinion) very good reason: I was in Tennessee, looking at land. Our first scouting trip for our anticipated move sometime in the next few years. My husband was out of town on another trip, so I went with a friend who lived in the area for many years.

We looked at ten properties, and most were quite beautiful. I also learned a lot.

Too steep

Our car is at the bottom of that hill – and I’m only halfway up!

My husband has this fantasy of being able to go hunting on his own land, for which he needs (preferably) at least 40 acres. That means living out in the country, which I’m fine with to an extent, so that’s where I focused my efforts in looking at land. Closer in to Knoxville means out of our budget on something that size (and very few options to begin with).

But the main thing I learned is you can’t get a feel for distance, as in drive time, from maps. Not even Google Earth and Street View. You can see that the roads are curvy, but you can’t really see how curvy–or how narrow. Some of them were downright scary, going up into the mountains.

Too Steep

Pretty, isn’t it? But what’s not in the picture is the litter from neighbors who made this their 4-wheelin’ playground.

The other thing maps don’t do justice is the grade. Some of these places were up in the mountains, and although I could see that on Google, I couldn’t get a sense of how steep some of them were. Definitely not something to drive a Camaro up! So those properties are out.

But the biggest thing I learned is that I just don’t want to live out that far. A half-hour drive or more to restaurants, shopping, and health care is a big no–I’m talking it was a twenty-minute drive to the nearest carryout from most of these properties. So we’re going to have to re-evaluate what we want–perhaps a much smaller, closer-in lot that still has a country-like setting, and a separate property for him to hunt on. I have already found some very promising lots online, so I see another trip in the near future. The best part about this one? I had a great time with my friend, and some fun times with her friends in the area. So it was also a much-needed vacation!

I returned home to more excitement: we’re getting ready to begin work on our kitchen remodel! So I have tons of packing to do. Luckily, we have a good friend who works at a restaurant, and has supplied us with a plethora of boxes. I have about half packed up now, and DH is going to start demolition in a few days, so I need to hurry and get it done.

What I’ve been reading: I’m only halfway through the novel I’m currently reading, so I’ll discuss it next week, along with how our kitchen remodel is coming along!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: Last week, I knew I would be traveling and wouldn’t have much chance to write, so I set my goals low: 2 scenes edited. I made that goal, and set a higher goal for editing this week. But between packing and headaches (literal), not as much got accomplished. Part of the problem is this editing stuff just isn’t much fun–I want to get back to new writing. But I need to get through it first. So this week’s goal is one scene per day, for a total of seven.

What about you–ever find something to be much different than you expected? Do you have any big distractions going on in your life? (Hoping they’re good ones!) How are you doing on whatever goals you may have, whether writing or not? Please share in the comments–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, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Shaking Things Up

I tend to stick with things for a long time. I’ve been in my current job for over eight years (a really long time for a software developer). A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary. We’ve lived in the same house for that long, too.

Those are all good things. But being in a good rut is still being in a rut, and both my husband and I have been feeling a need for a while to shake things up.

My family is a real blessing, so we don’t want to shake that up. And my job has been good–I’m blessed to work with and for nice people, in a relatively low-stress environment, and it pays decently. It’s not always challenging and interesting, but it is enough of the time that it’s good.

But neither of us has ever lived outside of southwest Ohio. My husband has never even lived in a different city. It’s been a good place to live, aside from some crappy winter weather and presidential campaign seasons. But we’re feeling a need for change, so we’re looking to move south. Not any time soon, but probably in 5 years or so. Just because we feel we need something different.

He’s actually been talking about this for a couple years. It took me a while to come around, but gradually, I did. Now that I have, it’s exciting to think about. This is one reason why I’ve been particularly inspired by Patricia’s story of leaving California and following her and her husband’s dream to Mississippi, where they bought a bed and breakfast (that I definitely hope to visit sometime!).

The main reason for our timeframe is that we want to get our daughter through college and pay off the remaining debt on our rental properties. The other reason is the massive amount of decluttering this house needs. It needs a lot of little nitpicky repairs too, but the clutter has to go first.

So I’ve gotten back into Flylady. I joined Flylady back in 2002 when I was laid off for a couple of years because there were no software jobs around here. I wanted to get my house in order, and learn how to keep it that way.

It took a while (I honestly don’t remember how long), but I did pretty well. The only thing I didn’t get to was completing the closets, and the basement. And when I went back to work, a lot of the Flylady habits fell by the wayside.

Some I’ve kept up. I do have a morning and evening routine, and I relegate my bill-paying and bookkeeping to Monday evenings. But I now have a lot more motivation to get back into decluttering.

I normally spend only 15 minutes a day on this, as Flylady suggests. And it’s already made a noticeable difference! For example, I have a huge built-in bookcase in my office/study that’s three feet high, by about twelve feet long. The top of it was completely full of clutter! I spent fifteen minutes putting stuff away and throwing trash out, and it was DONE (the top, not the contents. That will come later). We didn’t have anything suitable for the giveaway bag, though normally that’s a part of my decluttering, too. This bookcase top was just one of those things we think will take a long time, but if we just do it, it doesn’t. I did the same thing with an occasional table in the dining room that seemed to have a sole purpose as a home for junk. Fifteen minutes was all it took! I can’t believe I forgot this basic truth. Even things that took more than one fifteen minute session to declutter were easier than I thought.

Having the additional motivation is a big part of it, I’m sure. Now I not only think, “Do I use this? Do I love it?” I also think “Would I want to move this?” If the answer to all three is No, out it goes!

What I’ve been reading: In the midst of all the decluttering, of course I still have time to read! That’s even more so now that I’m trying to establish a habit of walking at least 15 minutes every day. If the weather’s nice, Isis gets another walk. If not, I walk on the treadmill–and read! Right now, I’m reading an advance reader copy of an exciting science fiction novel. I’m about halfway through it, so should finish by next week. I’ll discuss it then.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I finished the revisions based on my beta readers’ comments! Part of this is because I decided to stop dawdling over those from one reader, whose suggestions for changes were quite extensive. I initially agreed with her comments, but the more I dug into the book with them, the slower the revision went, and the more I balked at making the changes at all. I finally realized that this was because those changes weren’t right for the book–they either would have deviated from my vision for the story, or they would have made it different, but no better. I did work in her more overall suggestions, so it’s still a stronger story. Now I’m having them look it over again, along with a third reader, because I want to make sure the changes make sense. For this week, I really need to buckle down and get the book description to my publisher, plus a cover comp. I also need to complete another cover for a Mythical Press client.

What about you–have you ever felt the need to shake something up? What did you do? Has clutter taken over your home, or are you good at keeping it under control? Have you tried Flylady’s system? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share in the comments–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, Kobo, iTunes, and more.