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  • Christine Shuck

Git 'Er Done, Girl!

Come Hell or High Water

This is the week I will complete Winter's Child. Enough dithering around.


My perfectionist side has been squawking, loudly, telling me it isn't good enough. My pragmatist side has been grumping, just as loudly, that I need to get the hell over it and get it done. And I'm stuck in between listening to both equally loud voices in my head.


I looked at my calendar and realized I have a Hidden Gems review group scheduled for Winter's Child on April 24th. What does this mean? It means that, on that date, well, actually a couple of days before, I need to have the manuscript DONE. And not just that, but edited, and uploaded to Amazon so that any reviewers who sign up for a free book to read through Hidden Gems will be able to leave a review.


Which means that Winter's Child will be LIVE and ready for purchase no later than 4/24/2022. Six days earlier than my currently scheduled release date.


The pressure is ON. The cover is complete. The designer is waiting for a page count, and I'm under the gun to get it done!


I'm close, real close. Maybe... 2,000 words to go? This morning I avoided writing by opening up the book in ProWritingAid. The first twenty chapters are written, and I figured I could edit them while sifting through the last of the tough scenes I need to write.


Speaking of ProWritingAid...(see how I changed the subject there?!) let me tell you all about it...


ProWritingAid Has Improved My Writing

I'm in love with this app. It is seriously the best $110 I ever spent.


The app is easy to use. You can open up a Word or Scrivener project inside of the app, open up your first chapter, and then click on Summary to get started. Here is how the second chapter of Winter's Child looked in the summary...

When I first started using it, my passive voice usage was insanely high. Now, not so much. Even that small amount listed, I'll go through and take a look at.


I will tackle first the grammar score, and get it to 100%, and then the style score. The spelling score might be a matter of weird names and actually be 100%, we'll see.


Another area I've significantly improved is in reducing the lengths of sentences. I blame this entirely on my love of antique books in my youth. A sentence a hundred years ago is equivalent to a paragraph today. Run-on sentences were the bane of my existence for YEARS. I have also loved the feature where if you use the same word at the beginning of a sentence more than two sentences in a row, it will let you know. That has helped me avoid repetitious words.


If you are a writer - even if it is reports or business letters - I highly recommend ProWritingAid. It has absolutely taken my writing to a higher level!


Projects, Projects, Projects

Which project should I focus on?

  • Finish the floor refinishing? We still have a hallway and one small room to do.

  • Demo Cottage East?

  • Plant 500+ strawberry plants? (yes, I really did order that many and no, they haven't come in yet)

  • Finish painting the kitchen cabinets? I have a weird two-tone thing going on in my kitchen - half flat blue and half glossy midnight blue. It's a mess.

  • Strip the paint off of the molding in the living room?

  • Finish out the stairs closet to include an under stairs alcove for the cat box?

  • Install sliding barn doors on the Airstream deck?

  • Add another 40' of gravel to the gravel drive the short-term rental guests use?

  • Install the back fence on Cottage East to stop the locals from walking through our property constantly?

  • Build and install the gazebo we've had sitting in the yard for two years?

  • Cut lengths of pipe and install solar lighting along the path to the Airstream?

  • Finish the bottom half of the pond?

  • Plant the Airstream surround with vining plants and aromatic flowers?

  • Finish the Airstream deck in a nice stenciled design?

The choices are all circling in my head. There isn't time for everything. Not unless I want marital discord and quarreling, but there's plenty to do. And as the social, financial, and project director of the household I can tell you that scheduling it all is not a simple task. Decisions, decisions, decisions!

A Return to Art

One of the things that has put me off from my writing goals is the singlemindedness of the goals themselves. I've been so hellbent on "writing 20 books so I can earn some money" that I've been falling out of love with the writing process itself.


I found myself staring at the old windows I have assembled in a corner, waiting to be painted and otherwise decorated. Waiting for my priorities to stop being entirely centered on writing enough books that I can someday make a living on.


There are a ton of reasons for my focus - traumatic ones - that have always prioritized work that brings in income (however short-sighted or short-lived) over work that doesn't. I don't talk about it a lot, but let's just say I married poorly the first time round. And with an early marriage, teenage pregnancy, homelessness, and then divorce and single parenthood without any financial resources or support - it left its mark. Financial security has long been a major stressor for me, especially in the wake of an equally disastrous second marriage where I am absolutely sure my husband was hiding/mismanaging money.


With our goal of renovating Cottage East, and the accelerated repayment schedule on any mortgages thereafter, my financial figurings show that we will finally have enough to comfortably live on, and retire on, in another eleven years. And with that knowledge, comes the space to breathe, and to create, without the fear that we MUST have income from my writing.


I doubt I'll ever be completely relaxed about it. The trauma of those early years still keeps my finger firmly on our financial pulse, and hyper-aware of the potential for disaster. I know that health emergencies, accidents, and more can easily push us off-kilter. As they can for anyone and everyone.


That all said, I've begun to try and re-integrate art into my daily life again. Yesterday, I added to Liv Rowan's Book of Shadows. I'm considering this a long-term work in progress. It is a combination of fictional journal for the main character of a planned 12-book series, along with a grimoire of sorts. It will include sketches of architecture, her studies, beasts that she encounters in her travels to the other world, and more.

When I create an entry, it gives me such a sense of satisfaction, and joy. I have a vision for this series of books, and this Book of Shadows in particular that will take years to see to fruition, but it gives me all the feels while I'm working up to it.


I hope too, to connect with my youngest daughter, our 6 year old, through art as well. She wandered into my room last night as I was practicing some other sketching and was immediately intrigued. It made me realize we need to make a better place for her to create art than she currently does, and I need to be sitting with her for some of it.

To Short-Term Rental Like Never Before

I put a lot of ME into my short-term rentals. From the books, to the art, to the colors on the walls and even the fabric choices. I don't want the "same old, same old" - I want color, comfort, art, entertainment, and a feeling of home. I mix thrift and old-fashioned hospitality with under-promising and over-delivering.

I also believe in keeping the prices a little below the average. Folks book looking for a deal and then I do my best to exceed expectations in every way. Yes, it's a relatively inexpensive place to rest your head for the night, and it is also a place you want to return to, as you can see from the conversation above. That's from a current guest, by the way.


And although I put Cottage West into service more than two years ago, and have over 400 positive reviews, I continue to think of ways to improve it. I was recently browsing Pinterest, and reviewing some of my thousands of pins over the years, for some ideas on what to do next with the property as I take it up a notch.


One of my ideas? It will look something like this...

I will add Zentangle designs to the slices of wood, though. I think I'll put it in the back porch.


I'm toying with the idea of covering the walls with art - with some of it even available for sale. But more than anything - I want to enjoy the process. I'll post more details as they occur to me.

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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