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The Great Ball of Foots is Nearly Here!

Why am I so excited about the Super Bowl? I don't even understand football, much less watch it. And the whole Kelce/Taylor Swift thing has me mooning like a schoolgirl or a proud motherly figure, I'm not sure which.

No matter. I guess excitement is in the air. And the Chiefs going to the Super Bowl really has everyone here tingling with excitement. I keep feeling a sense of pride, mainly for our city and communities, because despite an inordinate amount of drinking and partying down, folks don't seem to get too nuts...mostly.

As we count down to the big day, I'm also counting down until Tales of the Collapse is completely transformed into audiobook format. You know I'm excited when I have to map out the week ahead.

Most of this is what chapter to edit and upload, as there are only two chapters left to record. However, I have to shift any recording around incoming and outgoing guests since my recording studio is in the attic of my short-term rental.

Sure it can be a little inconvenient, but it's a lot quieter over there than it is in our main house!

Tomorrow I have two chapters to get edited, but one is short and easy. As I finish the editing and mastering, I upload them to the three major distributors - Audible, Findaway (which now includes Spotify) and Author's Republic. I will also upload them for direct sale on Payhip. This is a secure site and honestly is one of the best ways you can help little ole me out. They take the smallest percentage of the sale there and I've tried to keep the price lower than the others as a thank you. I'll be sure to post links to everything when I have them up and running.

Any time I narrate an audiobook, from now until eternity, they will have little gold stickers like the one on the audiobook above that read "Narrated by Author" - just so you can distinguish them from the others out there.

Every day that I can, I climb these narrow, steep stairs into the attic of Cottage West and carefully worm my way into my dark little blanket-covered recording studio to record the next part of the book. Before I head over, I usually finish the edits, mastering and upload of a previous chapter. I am just a couple behind right now. It's nice to have a few recorded and ready to go through so I don't run out of chapters to edit.

Spinning Plates - One Thing at a Time, Girl!

Like most women I know, I've got a stack of plates spinning at any one time. House, a writing business, a rental business, kids, husband with a man cold (oh yes, it is as awful as it sounds), the works. I found myself frustrated the other day that I wasn't keeping them all spinning at once. I'd focus on one thing, turn around, and realize the clutter was mounting, the floors needed vacuuming, and books weren't getting written. Shockingly, these kids expect to eat THREE times a day. At least. The boyo really loves to snack. I think he feels it is his responsibility, nay, his DUTY to make sure I'm kept busy feeding him spoonfuls of peanut butter, pickles, cheese, and yogurt in between meals. I'm pretty sure he was a hobbit in a former life. Anyway, I'd turn around and damned if one of the plates or more were dead still, not moving at all, and getting dusty with these little motes of cat hair rising up off of them. Which reminds me of a black sweater I wore the other day to my drumming class and kept noticing how many cat and dog hairs were stuck to it. Like, a LOT of hair.

This is all a big lead up to me saying, "Yeah, so, Zarmina's World? And all my other writing projects? They might be on hold for the rest of the year while I catch up and get these book in audio format. ALL OF THEM. It's a lot, you know? It reminds me of the other day when my 8-year-old saw this sign on my wall. She looked at it for a loooong time and then said, "That sign has a LOT of bad words in it." She's not wrong, there are a lot of bad words on my rules for success sign. But most of it is good solid advice, with plenty of f-bombs thrown in for good measure.

One of my favorites on the sign is Number 10 - "Stop being a people pleaser. It's fucking sad." It's one I'm trying to take to heart and in doing so, trying to give myself a little grace in the process.

Hence the delays on writing more books - which believe me, I HATE to do. I really, REALLY want it all - the ten books in audio and the three new books out this year. I'd also like my mortgage paid off, kids that never argue or misbehave, an all-expenses paid month long vacay to Europe, and a car that comfortably fits all five of us with room to spare, but that's not happening anytime soon! Hence my need to manage my expectations and yours.

You know what is going to be a super-cool side benefit about me getting all of these books in audio? It's going to be one hell of a challenge to find typos or grammatical mistakes in these books once I'm done. I don't have a ton, but I have been finding a small handful as I go along, and stopping and correcting them along the way. After I finish uploading the audio files, I'll go back and upload the corrected manuscripts to all of the platforms.

Spring is Nearly Here

I swear to you, I can smell spring in the air. This always sets me up for disappointment and betrayal, but right now it is 62 degrees out right now, and all I can think is, "Spring is coming! My favorite time of the year!" I can't help it, I think it is absolutely magical how the world comes back from the monochrome colors of winter and bursts onto the scene with greenery, babies, and flowers. It remains my favorite time of year. Today, I picked up a bunch of downed branches, sticks really, and added them to the firepit. Every day of the week, the Alexa in my office reminds me at 11 a.m. to "walk the yard" and today I did a short detour to the firepit and took in the general disarray that winter brings. The leaves and branches on the ground, a ton of yard work ready and waiting. I'm eager to get started, even as I remind myself there are other things that need doing.

Food for Thought

I read "Class" the other day. It's the sequel to "Maid" by Stephanie Land, and it is worth your time to read. It is an unflinching, honest look at poverty in America today. After I finished it, I found myself falling into the trap of judging her, despite knowing how hard, and how overwhelming it can be from first-hand experience.

"Well," I thought, "she sure has a lot of tattoos. Tattoos are expensive. Did she really need to get those?" I found myself examining her choice to have a second child even as she struggled to make ends meet and go to college.

And then I read something very interesting. A thoughtful review on "Class" that Stephanie herself came across and quoted in her most recent newsletter...

And it was a real "oh shit" moment for me, folks. I realized I was doing the same crap that so many others did to me.

Whether it was someone telling me to go back to my first husband, deriding me for getting my car towed when I didn't have the proper tags, angry that my WIC benefits were taking so long for the cashier to process, or even well-meaning strangers scaring the hell out of me by approaching me and asking if we had a home (something a mom of a child is NOT going to tell you the truth about because they are terrified of losing their child to Social Services). There was more, lots more, most of which I have deliberately forgotten. A life I have done my best to run in the opposite direction of and fight to ensure I never have to live that way again.

And I realized it didn't mean anything that she has tattoos, or that she chose to have a baby whether or not the timing was perfect or not. More importantly, it wasn't my business to pass any kind of judgment on her.

My memory of poverty is of a grinding, pervasive darkness. It remains one of the two most overwhelming and traumatic times in my life. It is also one that still haunts me and has for decades. I might not wake up every morning thinking, "Okay girl, today you are going to figure a way out of this. Today you will find a way to work harder, work smarter, make more money, something. You can do this, you will do this." And I might no longer go to sleep at night thinking, "This is it. This is my life and there is nothing I can do to make it better."

Instead, I wake up every day and think, "What can I do today to improve our lives? My life, my husband's, my kids'? How can I make our yard prettier, our house nicer, or get more books out there?" And when I fall asleep at night, it is usually with the thought that I've made progress, inched forward, just a little, or a hell of a lot. And maybe that's the way I'll be until my mind is too tired to think that way, and my body is too old to keep pushing itself. It's not a bad life, this life I have now, it's a damn good one. And it is far better than where I was over 30 years ago. Still, the vestiges of the trauma are there and they refuse to vanish, to disappear. The reminder of where I was a constant presence that affects every decision I make now, all these years later.

I also think that, when it comes to passing judgment, as a society, we seem to do it so easily. More so, now in the age of social media. We think it perfectly okay to tell someone what they should be doing with their life, a life we aren't living. Especially if that person is in poverty, with little choices and even less freedoms, than ourselves.

And perhaps that needs to stop. Just, food for thought.

Have a fantastic week, folks!

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