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With a huge sigh of relief, I can finally announce that I have completed Broken Code! This makes a total of fifteen books "in the can" and the edits are done, formatting is complete, and the book uploaded to all the major distribution sites in time for its release on September 22nd!

I have to admit something.

I wanted so much to make sure the readers of Hired Gun knew that the book wasn't a one-shot deal, or even a two-shot deal, that I over-extended myself by setting in motion a pre-order I had no chance of finishing without abandoning other parts of my life entirely. Namely gardening.

Now, if there are any neighbors reading this, they will probably have a nice good laugh, because when the real heat rolled in by mid-July, I wilted, and ran inside. The yard is looking a bit... overgrown. That said, I did a LOT of gardening in April, May and June.

I always feel so damn schizophrenic by mid-April. My body is itching to dig in the dirt, and my brain is telling me to "just finish this effing project NOW." It is an impossible situation. There is no good answer, no satisfaction in either quadrant. Either I feel guilt over not getting my writing done, or I feel guilt over my yard suffering.

My favorite time of the year is spring. That said, with so much push/pull on my time, energy and focus, I'm beginning to really appreciate fall. The onus to "do something with this large yard" falls away for a few months and life becomes far simpler!

I had hoped to finish the second short story Learning to Speak today, but other obligations, and the looooong process it takes to upload a Large Print (well, any book) to Ingram Spark slowed me down. Tomorrow, however, looks like a great day to do that. Learning to Speak will join Better Choices, the two short stories that I am adding to the Benton Security Services Omnibus. I'll have a link up soon for that.

Hopefully I will be done with all of the uploading business by the end of the week and on to return to writing G581: Zarmina's World. I'm looking forward to it. Along the way, I'll be taking notes because I'm planning one more book in that series. Another short story anthology. After that, I'll likely move on to other projects and consider the Gliese 581g series complete.

Fifteen Years

It's kind of hard to believe that it has been fifteen years since my first book came out. I took a local community education class on writing a non-fiction book you could then sell from the back of the classroom to students. I had already proposed, and was teaching, a Get Organized class, so it wasn't a huge leap. I sat down, figured out some of the topics I wanted to discuss in detail, wrote an outline (if my high school teachers are reading this they might die of shock - me? Write an outline?), and when I was picking up my check for the last class I had taught, I told the class host I would have a book out that fall and we would need to raise the price for the class to include a $15 book.

She was so excited and immediately wanted to go over the class description to include verbiage that noted a book would be included. Meanwhile, I found myself in a self-induced panic attack. I'm pretty sure she didn't suspect, but by the time I walked out of the door to my car, I was pretty sure I was having a heart attack. What had I done?! Me, the person who spent decades claiming I couldn't, and wouldn't, read non-fiction books because my brain just could not handle it.

Four weeks later, I had the manuscript done. Six weeks after that, I had finished the edits. It is my smallest book. Originally it was around 37,000 words. It's undergone two major edits, one in 2018, another in 2022. The second edit added around 6,000 more words.

I'm realizing, though, that for fifteen years, I've not really taken this whole writing thing as seriously as I should. Yes, I have fifteen books in print in fifteen years. No, I didn't average a book a year, more like one book every two years until 2021. Covid changed my world, but my brain has still been stuck in "Well, maybe someday I'll make a living on writing, or, you know, be able to go on a nice vacation someday."

I keep putting it off. I keep telling myself, "Let me line my basket with other eggs. Get the rentals going, improve the properties we own." I collect children and throw myself into mama life. I forecast financials and spend hours looking at schematics for the renovations we have planned.

But if there is any big takeaway I've got from fifteen years of writing and losing more than I'm making (with the exception of this year) it is this...

No one is going to step up and hand me a golden ticket full of fame, fortune, and a bestseller list status. I'm not Andy Weir (author of The Martian), I'm not Brandon Sanderson (oh, how I wish I was). But just because I don't get a golden ticket, doesn't mean I can't be successful.

Whether I like it or not, if I want to make a living as an author, I need to master the art of marketing. I need to put myself out there. I need to write my books. I need to position them. I need to promote them. And I need to sell them.

The Next Fifteen Years

While I will likely post more at the end of the year about my goals for 2024 and beyond. I'm hoping to write another 45 books in the next 15 years. Hold me to that, will you?

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I just ran across a memory on Facebook. It's a good one, so I'll post it here...

Someone in our neighborhood who I know more on FB than anywhere else recently reached out and said they wanted to give something to Little Miss, Mr. Fartypants, and even Em. In the case of Em, it was a request to find something within a reasonable price point on Amazon.
It was weird the emotions that ran through me at this kind offering. We aren't in need, even though we aren't doing as well as I could hope, but I thought of telling this person, "It's okay, really, you don't need to do that."
And then I realized something. It wasn't about me. It was about someone wanting to give my children something. It made them feel good and the kids will love it - even if Mr. Fartypants is just a baby - but you get my drift.
And it made me think about my attitude and how hard it has been for me to accept gifts, or even handouts when I was desperately poor. Our culture does not encourage it. Instead, it tells us we are somehow lacking when someone else comes along and gives us something for no other reason than that they want to and that it makes them happy and hopefully the receiver happy as well.
I can remember living in a shop space with no hot water, no place to bathe. I would heat up a bucket of water in the microwave for ten minutes, sponge my body down with half of it, and use the second half to wash my hair. I remember when I cut myself while working in a warehouse boxing orders and my co-workers noticed that I wore the same band-aid for three days straight. Band-aids were expensive, and besides it meant two different bus rides and two hours of my life to reach the nearest pharmacy.
It's not like that anymore. But I felt that twinge of guilt, of shame, when this person reached out. It was totally on me, there was no judgment or assumption on the other person's part, but some huge part of me was like, "Am I not a good mom? Am I not taking care of my kids?"
It came in a couple of surges and then I stopped and recognized the truth, that we do what we can for others. And in the best of moments, it is without any agenda other than love and kindness.
But it's stuck with me all day. I told the kiddo to find something on Amazon and she did, looking a little puzzled at first, but in the end was blase, because in her world, one that has never known poverty or homelessness, it is a simple thing to accept a gift and be thankful.
I guess this is all to say that there is good and bad in the world. I choose to seek the good and I am often gently surprised to find even more waiting for me when I least expect it.

That's it for now, folks. Thanks for reading. Thanks for being here. I appreciate you more than you know.

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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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