71 Days

There is only so much time. Each day has the same twenty-four hours; we just have to decide how we are going to use them. I saw a quiz (or maybe it was an app) on several friends’ Facebook pages this week. Apparently, the gizmo calculates how much time you spent on Facebook over the past year. I don’t think that any of the “totals” I saw were less than 1700 hours. *reaches for calculator* Uhhhhhh…that comes out to nearly SEVENTY-ONE DAYS on Facebook. Seriously. Seventy-one freakin’ days…nothing but Facebook. Now, honestly, who knows how accurate the thing is; but still, it made me think about how I spend my time.

There are a lot of things that simply have to be done each day, whether we like it or not. Life is full of time suckers. There is the commute to work (for me, that kills nearly 1.5 each day). I try to make use of that commute time, though—most days that becomes my Talk Time. I call my parents and talk about my day, their day, the kids, their health. And I consider that time well spent. I’m getting older which, of course, means they are, too. I want to make sure that I get in all the talks I can…while I can. *knock wood*

I also try to spend a bit of time each weekday on Twitter and Facebook connecting with friends, and readers, and people that will become friends and might someday read my stories. (Weekends I try to stay off social media, because, you know, Family Time.) And, like my parental talk time, this is precious, too. Some of my dearest friends are those I have never met in person, but when my husband had his heart attack they rallied around me. They are important.

Credit: hhttp://cristianmihai.net/2013/10/17/are-you-ready-for-nanowrimo-2/
Credit: hhttp://cristianmihai.net/2013/10/17/are-you-ready-for-nanowrimo-2/

I spend most lunch hours writing, but it isn’t enough—not nearly enough. I have been contemplating doing NaNoWriMo this year. If you haven’t heard, November is National Novel Writing Month. And, if you weren’t aware, yours truly is writing a novel. It is unlike anything I’ve written before, and if I can somehow coax All The Things In My Head onto the page then maybe I can do the story justice. But first, I need to finish the first draft. This is where NaNoWriMo comes in.

Apparently, I need deadlines (I also really need to win the lottery, but that’s another post). When left to my own devices, I meander and wander and lollygag. I need a firm end point in order to get things done. Yes, I know, NaNoWriMo is an artificial, self-imposed deadline. The world will not end if I don’t finish the first draft, no one will be sad or let down…except me. So if fake deadlines will make it happen, fake deadlines I shall have.

There are twenty four hours in the day, and I am squandering them. I am letting far too many hours slip through my fingers, and I can’t get that time back. But I can try to make the most of my time from here on out.

I can’t blame having young kids, or needing to cook or clean, or having to work full time, or having familial health issues—plenty of people have had all of these Real Life Things to contend with and STILL managed to write best sellers, or Science the Heck Out of Things, or write music, or…whatever. The difference is that they made their Thing a priority. That squeezed in a few minutes here, a few minutes there. They got up earlier, or went to bed later, or made story notes on the back of their grocery list while waiting in line, or at their kids’ bus stop, or on the sidelines at football practice.

There is always a good reason to NOT do The Thing You Love. There is always an excuse for why it has to take a backseat to All The Other Things. But the thing is, when all is said and done, I don’t want to have another excuse. I want to have another story (hopefully well told) to share.

So, starting today, I am going to “mind my moments” and try to use them to the best effect. And *nervous sigh* I am going to commit to NaNoWriMo. I might even share some of my daily words here…if I am feeling particularly brave (or masochistic, depending how you look at it).

Wish me luck.

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Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!

The year is winding down, and I survived (*knocking on wood*).  I survived Thanksgiving, and the mad dash to prepare for Christmas, and the holiday parties, and Christmas Eve with my in-laws, and Christmas Day with more extended family and other in-laws.  There was a not-unheard-of amount of drama, and mess, and stress.  Then there was the quiet.

house  A few days after Christmas things tend to get…still.  I think it this happens as a sort of recharging, or as self-preservation, or perhaps from mere exhaustion.  This year, nature must have sensed the need, too, because it cooperated.  A cold front descended, a bit of snow fell…the fireplace roared, candles were lit, and a dram or two of whisky helped to keep the chill at bay while friends came to visit and we all talked long into the night.  And amid all the hustle and bustle of the season, a moment of quiet was found.

As the last few days of the year dwindle down, I tend to get more reflective and perhaps a bit maudlin.  Each year tends to have a bit of a theme that becomes clear as the year draws to a close.  2012 was The Year of Writing.  2013 was The Year of the Move.  2014 seemed to have been The Year of Medical Drama.  Three (Four? Five?) Familial Hospitalizations (one of which resulted in Five Fewer Bodily Organs), one eye surgery, and untold visits to doctors, urgent care, and pharmacies later, I think this year has earned its moniker.

I have no idea what 2015 will bring, but I start each year with good intentions, and aspirations, and hope.  I hope that 2015 will bring health, and love, and good stories, and enough.  Food enough to fill our stomachs, warmth enough to keep the chill at bay, money enough to provide for my family and friends (and a bit more to help those whose faces I may not know but whose needs are real).

I want to read more, and write more, and spend more time with my family.  I want to feel more comfortable in my own skin, to learn a new language, to figure out how to knit more than just the one type of stitch.  I want to put in a bigger garden, and cook healthier, and walk/run more.  I want to let go of things I don’t need (be it the boxes of extra things in the attic, those couple of holiday pounds that crept up on me while I was making merry, my sometimes paralyzing writer’s doubt, or the dull ache of mom-guilt).  I want to hug more, worry less, try harder, and laugh louder.

New Year’s Eve will be here soon.  My husband and I have decided to claim this as our holiday.  Unlike Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July, no other family members have a claim on this day.  There are no familial obligations tethering us to anyone else’s expectations, traditions, or demands.  We don’t have to go anywhere or do anything.  No one’s feelings will be hurt by our absence or alternate arrangements.  It is ours.  So, as we see the backside of 2014, there will be candles, and a peat fire in which to throw the remains of doubt, dread, and regret so that we don’t carry them with us into the new year.  (Likewise, before New Year’s Day, Christmas will be carefully packed away so as to not carry the remains of the last year into the new one.)

boozeAs the last hours of 2014 dwindle down there will be a toast to whatever is to come, followed by strict adherence to the plethora of superstitions to ensure a prosperous new year (first footing at midnight and, after the new year dawns, there will be black eyed peas, something green and something gold, and finally–on Twelfth Night– the burning of the greens).

But until then, I’ll revel in the last of the turkey, and the glow of the Christmas lights, and the familiar comfort of a year well lived.  Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!

All Hallow’s Read (and free books)

raven_all_hallows_read_poster_by_blablover5-d7xwiid

There are simply not enough book giving holidays.  There, I said it.  I am perfectly aware that you can give books for Christmas, and perhaps a romantic tome for Valentine’s Day.  A book for a birthday is always welcome.  Personally, I have never received a book for St. Patrick’s Day, or Thanksgiving, or even President’s Day (although I would welcome a book for any holiday.)  Perhaps this is why I was so pleased when Neil Gaiman opined that Halloween should be christened All Hallow’s Read.  Along with candies, trick-or-treaters should be plied with books, lots of books, free books!  What’s not to like?  And, in keeping with the holiday, it is even better if the books are creepy, spooky, or down right scary.

reflection_all_hallows_read_poster_by_blablover5-d7xwiqjSince not everyone can make it to my house for me to personally hand them a free book for Halloween (and, frankly, I have some trick-or-treating of my own to do, too), I thought it would be more expedient if I simply offered “The Collector” for free download from October 29th – 31st. 

“The Collector” is creepy, in that Southern Gothic kind of way, and it is the perfect length to read while waiting for the next round of trick-or-treaters to descend on your house demanding sweets.

Reading is a good way to get away from the stress of the season.  Like most holidays, I ache for it, I look forward to it, and then…I freak out because it snuck up on me.  Of my three children, only one is currently certain of what they want to dress up as for Halloween.  One child is still undecided.  The other one is still deciding whether Halloween or the local football game will win out this year.

graveyard_all_hallows_read_by_blablover5-d7xwj4bI am planning a little reward for getting through Halloween without turning into a witch myself.  Once the kids have all succumbed to their sugar coma, I am going to download the next Outlander book on my To Be Read List (An Echo in the Bone), make a hot mug of tea with a generous splash of Laphroaig (…unless it is a particularly trying evening, then I might skip the tea and stick with just a mug of Laphroaig), and raid the kids’ Halloween stash (I consider this to be my fee for their last-minute costume drama, for walking them around the neighborhood, and for picking up enough candy wrappers to wallpaper our living room).

Sigh.  Wish me luck.

The House on H Street

If your Kindle is hungry, or if you just need a little Back to School treat to read while waiting at the bus stop, or stuck in the insanely long school pick-up line, download The House on H Street.  It is FREE on Amazon, and this creepy urban fantasy will help scare away those Back to School Blues!

“The Collector” is FREE on Amazon this Weekend

The CollectorJust a reminder that “The Collector” is FREE on Amazon this weekend.  If you are a fan of horror or Southern Gothic fiction, you should go download it now.  It has been described as what you would get if Stephen King and Flannery O’Connor birthed a short story.  But don’t take my word for it, check out what others have said or, better yet, go download it yourself and let me know what you think!

If you like what you read, check out my other stories and don’t forget to leave a review!

Happy Birthday to “The Collector”

Since we are coming up on the one year anniversary of my short story “The Collector” being available on Amazon, I thought it would be a good time to make it available for FREE!  Download your FREE copy July 18, 19, and 20th. 

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle for PC app or the Kindle for iPhone app for free!  If you have already downloaded your copy, you can still download a free copy as a gift and email it to a friend for them to add to their e-reader! 

And, as always, once you have had time to read it, please take a moment let me know what you think!