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  • Christine Shuck

Fall Is Growing On Me

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

Wowza! Where has the year gone?! As we move into the final quarter of 2021, an array of projects and plans align behind (and ahead) of me. Read on to see all things writing (and non-writing) currently on my docket...


Almost Time for Audio?

Any day now, the heat will subside. Yep. Any day now. But not today. Oh no, it's going to hit the high 80s by this evening. Until I can work without an a/c unit droning in the background in the afternoon, I can't record. There is simply too much noise. When it finally breaks, though, I'll be tackling recording a long list of books after I finish with my required 1,500+ words each day.


I hope to start with War's End: Tales of the Collapse, the third and final book in the War's End series and then...

  • G581: Mars

  • Smoke and Steel

  • G581: Earth

  • Fate's Highway

By the time I work my way through that list, I'll likely have two more to add to it, if not more. We will see. I'm still uncertain as to my ability to not only record, but edit, my audio files. I'm sure I'll get there, but learning curves are scary sometimes.


Kids Are in School

Former homeschooler here, yet I'm breathing a sigh of relief that I have set aside the mantle of educator. A few reasons for this. The first and most dominant, my teenager was ready and more than willing to go to school. Now, while she wanted it mostly for the social aspect, I knew that the older she got, the less I was going to be able to teach her, so this is a good thing. She is around others, which her outgoing personality needs so much, and she has the solid background of a home education and emotional well-being I had wanted to see before tackling school. Besides, while she is not attending a private school, it is a charter school that has the feel of a private institution.


Our little one is now Kindergarten age and, as a foster child who was recently diagnosed with ADHD, that little girl needs the patience that an experienced educator can give her.


It is lovely and quiet here in the mornings and they are both doing well - first in a month of Jumpstart and now a week after the official first week.

Release of G581: Earth

Look at that! My 3rd in the Gliese 581 series, G581: Earth, released on September 1st! The book had its delays. I had hoped to release it by the end of June, but it was delayed by our Airstream project. Once our second short-term rental was in place, and we went on vacation in mid-July, it just made sense to schedule it for September.


If you think the story of Earth was over with just a population-decimating virus, think again. Full of poignant, character-driven stories,G581: Earth takes the reader back from the outbreak of the ESH virus and the sabotage that unfolded on Calypso in G581: The Departure, and from the Mars colony in G581: Mars, and returns to Earth, where President Madeline Chen struggles to find a way to save the human race from complete annihilation.


It's emotional, and has whispers of influences from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Arthur C. Clarke's The Hammer of God.


There are two more books planned in this series. I hope to have at least one, if not both out by the end of 2022.

New Project: Winter's Child

I think it might have been 2019 when we attended a mandatory class on adoption preparation. We are foster parents, and we hope to adopt our little girl, she's been with us for over 3 1/2 years now. How time flies!


In any case, it was there in the class that the idea for Winter's Child came to me. An adoption story gone wrong, if you will, one in which a couple adopt a beautiful child, or should I say children? In essence, four different girls reside in one body, each emerging in their season - spring, summer, fall and winter. And when winter's child emerges, look out.


This is yet another genre hop for me. I blame my blatant consumption of psychological thrillers for this. At first, I was calling it a paranormal thriller, but this was set straight for me by none other than Michael Anderle, of 20Booksto50k who suggested it might even be horror. The jury is still out on what genre to call it, but the book is over the 2/3 completion mark and, at 63k words, officially out of novella and into novel stage. I expect to finish it by the end of the month, possibly sooner. If I do, I'll release it on Halloween and then move on to my 3rd in the Benton Security Services series of romances.


I'll just keep rotating between genres. It keeps me interested, and it keeps the books coming out, the rest will work itself out eventually.

It's a Dog's Life, Really

In my last post, my sweet min-pit, Honey Nut Cheerios had returned. It's been five weeks now, and I am still so grateful to have her back. It was an adjustment period for her, for our big pit boy, and, well everyone, That said, she is settling in and has taken no guff from Dunkin' Donuts, who can be a ridiculous dummy at times and tries his best to run the other dogs, whether he deserves to or not.

I can't tell you how happy my heart is to have her back. She has a gentleness about her. She is quiet, reticent even, but devoted. Most days, she is in my office, lying on the floor near my feet or napping on the lounge. In the evening, she watches me as I wrap things up and head for bed, and she walks up the stairs with me, and cuddles close in bed. Sometimes too close, but after two long years away from her, I don't really mind a bit, I really don't. She and her brother will be seven years old in just a couple of months. Time has flown by.


Eventually, I'll get to have my dream of a collie pup. But that time isn't now. And that is perfectly okay. Honey is worth a dream deferred.


Wearing My Landlord Hat

Learning curves - being a landlord is definitely one of those learning curves. After nearly 9 years, I've only had three rental experiences. Of that number, the second renters of our "Cottage South" home in Belton are the only good ones. Renter #3 was a hot mess of being constantly late on rent, and making up any and every excuse he could along the way.


After he told me he would be late again, for the 8th time in ten months, I gave him thirty day's notice to vacate the premises. I was tired of dealing with it. I'm glad I did, because in just ten months, the level of filth in the property was rather epic for just two people living there.


I think the biggest thing I need to get over is my wish to get along with others. I'm willing to compromise, to put up with far too much, month in and month out, and that is not only unrealistic in a business like this, but a detriment. I'm learning to clearly state what I am willing to do, and what I'm not. I'm learning to draw the line at what are clearly iffy propositions. No, I'm not willing to have a tenant take 2-3 months to pay a security deposit of $2,000. Nope, not happening. No, I'm not willing to endure late monthly payments - I have a mortgage to pay and I'm not going to be late on that, no way, no how.


I'm also learning to read between the lines and to question a prospective tenant. Because at this point, nearly every one of them makes the claim that the landlord never fixed anything. And I surely cannot be the ONLY landlord that does.


On that note, the evicted tenant is trying to claim that we didn't replace the water heater after he turned us away at the door. Mm, good luck with that. Court on the 22nd should be fun!


p.s. I HATE going to court. It sucks. It is always this nerve-wracking, "go ahead and pull my fingernails out because that would feel better" feeling. BUT, if that is what it takes for the tenant to out and his record permanently show an eviction, so be it.

Always Improving

I have a number of painting projects set up for this fall. One is well underway - soon the Hedy Lamarr Airstream deck will be red! This will include the posts and support beams as well. Here it is with just one coat done. I blasted through the gallon of outdoor porch paint and have another to begin applying today - hopefully before it gets too warm.


After I'm done with the coats of red, I'll be adding a stencil in cream to the top. It's going to look absolutely lovely when it is all done.

I'm learning to embrace my love of color. Instead of trying to use colors I think others will like, I'm choosing the ones that I want. Yes, even in the short and long-term rentals. If folks don't like them, then they don't have to stay there.


As a recent podcast interviewee said, "Those aren't my people." I've spent an inordinate amount of my life trying to please others. It doesn't work. Not with lovers, not with your children, not with your friends and family. Compromise, working it out, talking, all those are fine - to a limit. And I've finally found mine. It took fifty years to get here, but I'm happy to embrace a far more colorful side of life.


And back to topic - I also have a wraparound front porch floor and balusters to paint, as well as the front porch of Cottage West. They will stay the same colors, it's just time to paint them and keep them in good repair.


And when the weather cools, I'm determined to finally finish the interior hallway painting in our own house that I started over eight years ago. It's long overdue.

20Booksto50k Road Trip!

Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle, the founders of 20Booksto50k decided to road trip across the United States and stop in and see a bunch of the 20Books fans and members. One of their stops was a dinner at Jack Stack this past Saturday and my husband and I attended.

I often think I'm alone in this writing biz. No one I know personally around the Kansas City area is a writer - or at least that was true until Saturday night. I'm excited because I've made at least one writer friend who lives close, in Kansas City, Kansas, and I have talked to more who live within an hour (or three) drive of Kansas City. I wish I had gotten a chance to talk to more people, but there was only so much time. I hope to reach out to others and hopefully meet more often with them, form friendships, and connect with others. I know it will help to learn from others, and to share my limited experience as well.

Goals Assessment

At the beginning of this year, I set a rather hefty goal for myself. I hoped to write six books. So how have I done so far?

2/15: Published G581: Mars

4/15: Published Smoke and Steel

9/1: Published G581: Earth


I know I'll have Winter's Child out, likely at the end of October. I'd love for it to be sooner, but I doubt that's possible. And Broken Code, my next project, hasn't even been started. That said, I think it will certainly be finished by the end of this year. That brings me to a total of five books written, but only four published for the year. And honestly? That's phenomenal. I'm proud of myself! I went from writing one book every two years, to one per year (twice in a row) to at least three, most likely four in a year in print. I'm excited! I might not have made that hefty goal, but I've not been slacking, not at all.


I'm finding this year that planning it out is key to being productive and not losing focus. Imposter syndrome still strikes regularly, especially in the 11th hour of writing, but I'm recovering faster and maintaining my focus.


More than that, I feel as if my writing abilities are improving. Like anything else, it's a learning curve, one that I want to constantly improve at. I am seeing less of the passive voice that was so prevalent in my earlier works, less repetitive words, and also my big fear - that I'm not descriptive enough - is slowly fading.


No one wakes up one day and is able to write perfect prose. Few of us have an innate grasp on the intricacies of the English language, perfect grammar, and the ability to write a book that thousands, if not millions, will want to read. But those things can be learned. And I'm determined to do it. I hope you will stick with me on my journey. It's heartfelt, and it's my life's dream. Not just to write books, but to have others read them. It's a worthwhile dream, and I have a lot of words still left in me. Now back to work I go!


Find Me on Facebook

Join my group General Malcontent's Grumbles and Scribbles on Facebook and get plenty of weird memes, the opportunity to read my newest releases for free, pics of the family, and other author news. I look forward to seeing you there!


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