A Wild and Woolly Third Quarter

It’s been a wild and woolly third quarter. Emotionally and professionally, life challenged me. It was also a three-month period of growth and of promise for the future.

A wild and woolly third quarter represented by the image of a dart board with a yellow dart just outside the inner ring.

If you’re a long time reader of this blog you know that I set Intentions not goals (though that’s mostly semantics). You’ll also recall that I divide my things to do into four buckets: Making, Managing, Marketing, and Home. And I analyze each month and quarter in terms of hits and misses.


In the making or creating bucket, I edited thirty-two chapters of If I Should Die. That includes a baker’s dozen NEW chapters. I made another trip to Subtropolis to refresh sensory details and learned that I’d mistakenly put a does-not-exist cool detail into the manuscript. Then I had to figure out how to take that cool detail out and keep the story intact. And I did. *Smile*

September was the first month I posted three times a week in the past eight months. But my blog posts received a lot of attention and some comments from you all. Your comments are the best part of blogging.


The managing bucket has been more difficult for me to accomplish during this time. (If you don’t know why, see a grievous loss and new life journey.)

However, this quarter I made improvements to my internet and zoom connections, revised book blurbs, learned more about marketing (one of my goals for this year), and made some connections online and in person.

I read a critiqued a novella and Mars One by Jonathan Maberry. I enjoyed Mars One. The story is one take on the Mars One Mission I’ve mentioned in past blog posts.

There are exciting (for me at least) things afoot. You’ll hear about one of those things in a couple of weeks.


I chose not to do any in-person marketing during the third quarter of 2021 for several reasons: emotionally I’m not in a place to socialize much, despite being vaccinated the surge in COVID cases gave me pause, and a planned trip to a conference for writers is coming up in the fourth quarter.

Online marketing is ongoing. I continue to learn more about this formerly foreign-to-me aspect of being an independently published author.


It was an especially wild and woolly third quarter in the “home” bucket of activities and goals. Grief is the biggest influence on my ability to accomplish things. Triggers are many but are of varying intensity instead of always extremely high.

Friends are helping me organize, sell, and give away the tons of supplies and products from my husband’s business. This means I can see a small section of the garage floor again.

Last Year

Comparing this quarter to last year’s third quarter is difficult. This time last year I changed the things I track. Looking back, I can see that it needed to change. The changes create a more accurate glimpse of what I accomplish.

Beyond that, my circumstances have changed so much that it’s difficult to make meaningful comparisons.

What I Learned

I’ve known about and studied resilience for a long time. So it’s not that I learned more about it but I re-learned from an emotional place rather than an intellectual one.

Resilience is more than bouncing back. It’s a combination of giving oneself grace and recognizing one’s strength despite overwhelming emotions. It’s having support systems in place. Knowing when to push through and when to sit with the uncomfortable feelings is also a large part of resilience.

Finally, resilience is unique to each person. Some of us are reeds that bend in the wind and bounce back. Some of us lose weak limbs in the storm but continue to blossom. It will reshape others. Neither our scars nor our differences make us less. We are weathering the fierce storms called life.

Going Forward

For my wild and woolly third quarter and the transition to the fourth quarter this is Image of a long road across a high desert to distant blue mountains with a quote from Julia Cameron "Progress, not perfection, is what we should be asking of ourselves."

While I didn’t finish If I Should Die in September, I am certain I will in October. By the end of this month, I will proofread it and send it out to first readers. By the end of the year, it will go to my editor. Look for publication during the first quarter of 2022.

Opportunities are coming my way that will help me grow and serve my readers better. Sorry, I can’t say more yet.

I am ever grateful for my small group of really wonderful, supportive friends and family.

Redefining my home, my work, my life has created a wild and woolly third quarter. Rearranging of my life and work will continue for a long while. Bending, not breaking, isn’t easy, but I am more like a reed that bends than a tree that breaks in the wind. I grieve, but I am also excited about the future.

Progress is Invisible Unless You Track It

Making progress is invisible unless you track it. Especially when you’re a slow writer or working on a long-term project, you need to track your progress. Evaluating your progress is essential to learning how to improve your processes. And making my monthly reports to you keeps me on task.

Image of a black and white target with a red dart perfectly centered on the red bull's eye but how do you know when you've hit a project's target? For long-term projects, progress is invisible unless you track it.

How To Track Progress

My way involves a calendar journal and spreadsheets. Breaking a task, like writing a novel, down into its smallest parts helps keep the creator from being overwhelmed. Focusing only on the small parts can make the creator feel as if they work and work without making progress. 

The way I combat the disillusionment of I’m-not-getting-anything-done, is to track my time, word counts, and project “steps.” You can use your calendar, a tally sheet, or a day planner. Anything that helps you keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what you need to do next will work. The Write Practice has a basic post about tracking progress for writers.

Intentions vs. Goals

I use intentions rather than goals. Intentions allow business to give way to life and life to give way to business. I also use three broad baskets to describe what I do: Making (anything creative), Managing (any non-writing and non-marketing duties), Marketing (from creating ads to attending marketing events), and Home (all activities not related to creating or selling books—from appointments to yard care).


I’m delighted to report progress! More words, more chapters revised, and more time on the making and creating side of business. I have not finished If I Should Die. SIGH. I’m seeing a glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel. I doubt I’ll finish it next month but am hopeful I will finish this draft and send it to beta readers at the end of September or first of October.


No power outages this month, thank goodness. I’ve made progress in this area too. In the managing area particularly, making progress is invisible unless you track it. Thanks to my spreadsheet, I can see that I’ve caught up on several tasks. Not totally caught up, but I was nearly a year behind so there’s a lot of little things to get done.

One thing I’ve added back into my day is listening to podcasts about writing and marketing and history. Feels good to do that again.


Fortunately, it takes very little effort to keep Amazon ads running. New ads on Amazon take a time and work. I’ve met my intentions in the Marketing area. And I’ve benefited from making a few tweaks I learned about in a podcast.


Photograph of the living room of an old, abandoned house--a pedal driven sewing machine, a dining table, and upholstered chairs are thick with dust--progress is invisible unless you track it--in this place, I think it might be visible.

There’s even been progress on the home front. This has been the most neglected area during the past five months, so any progress is progress. My vertigo has lessened significantly. I am experiencing more and more time when I have no vertigo. Yay!

After a half-day of mini-drama, they delivered my new washing machine. Miracle of miracles, I can complete all my laundry in a single day. Guess I needed one more than I knew. *Smile*

I spent half-a-day with two different couples I hadn’t seen in—gosh, a long time. We are all vaccinated and quite isolated. Visiting in person with them was a real treat.

Not only did I get some more of my husband’s things sorted, I gave some items to appropriate persons/organizations. So the house is a bit neater. While no one would say my house is neat and clean, the health department won’t kick me out… yet. (I haven’t reached the level of dust in the house pictured above.)


Felt good enough I attended my weekly write in group and critique group two or three times this month.I also attended a dozen online classes focused on the writing business. 

Last Month & Last Year

I came extremely close to doubling my word count over last month. Yet, I’m still woefully behind in words written compared to July 2020. 

Between all that’s happened the first six months of this year and the fact that I’m revising, I’m counting this month as a win. Higher word counts will come in time, and will soar when I draft book three.

What I Learned

I started reading Robert McKee’s Dialogue: the Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, and Screen. McKee has an interesting take on what functions as dialogue in a story. His view is that all parts of a story are dialogue. I have to agree in that all parts of a story are at least a dialogue with the reader. I’m eager to delve deeper into his insights.

At the beginning of the month I struggled with “the next chapter.” No matter what I wrote, it wasn’t as compelling as I want my stories to be. It took a few days, but I finally remembered to stop and go deeper into the viewpoint character’s mind and heart. Once I did that, the writing flowed.

Going Forward

Creative work comes first. That’s my focus. If I’m not putting story words on paper, I’m not myself. Off my game, I am morose and certain I’m spiraling in a negative direction. Tracking it, evaluating it monthly keeps me mindful of what I do. Reporting here keeps me honest about it. In many creative endeavors, making progress is invisible unless you track it. Do you track the progress of your creative endeavors?

A Never Give Up-Never Surrender Attitude

It’s the end of June and time to evaluate progress for the first half of 2021. These have been among the top five most difficult months of my life. I’ve always had a never give up-never surrender attitude. That has kept me moving forward, though at a much slower pace than normal.

Photo of a dart board with darts in the second ring--not one bulls eye but a never give up-never surrender attitude keeps me going.


Instead of goals or resolutions, I use intentions. You can miss a goal. You probably break most resolutions. But an intention is a focus. When life gets in the way of your plan, take care of that event or disturbance intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention.


I started working on the second draft of the last half of the book at the end of January.

As of today, day 188 of the year 2021, I’ve averaged 2.6 house per day for 125 days working on If I Should Die. The number of words produced are slightly less than half the number I produced the first half of last year.

The last half of my first draft is always full of plot holes and snags and snarls. In five months, I’ve rearranged chapters and plugged holes, untangled snarls, and smoothed snags—at least in the outline. Much of that work is behind the scenes, so to speak. The reader will never see it. And that re-visioning always requires adjusting details in many early chapters.

It’s taken half the year and I’ve only gotten a quarter of the way through the second half of the book. Disappointing, but under the circumstances, I’m trying to be satisfied with having any progress at all.


image of a white non-gendered figure juggling bowling pins.

Many my intentions for managing my writing business have fallen undone.

I revised the blurb for My Soul to Keep and sales have slightly improved. Thanks to all you who’ve reviewed the book. And a special thanks to those who help promote it. (I see you!)


My small efforts to market my books have continued. Those efforts have given me information I hope to use to good effect when book two comes out.


colorful image of child-like drawings of houses and trees.

Life happens. That’s why I use intentions rather than goals.

It has been 140 days since my husband died. Forty-five of those days I’ve had vertigo. The symptoms were severe at first and are slowly improving. My physical therapist says I’m one of the “lucky ones” whose case is “stubborn.” I wouldn’t call it lucky. Both those events have affected impacted my concentration and energy levels. SIGH.

Four unexpected problems surfaced this month. Two separate plumbing issues took my time and lots of money. Two separate power outages reduced my computer time.

In an attempt to focus on my writing, the bare minimum has been accomplished in the area of intentions for home. I’m surprisingly okay with that.

My immunity day (the day when my COVID-19 vaccinations were fully effective) was April 14th. I managed to get out a couple of times before the vertigo hit. I hope to do so again soon. But until all COVID variants are gone, I will be using social distancing and masks in crowds or with unvaccinated people.


If you wish to know more about the biggest event during the last six months, read my grievous loss or my first ninety days. You can also read a little about my vertigo.

I did manage to participate in two panels for our local science fiction convention, ConQuest, which was virtual this year.

In the past month, the area gas company replaced the gas line from the main line to inside my house. When they turned the gas back on, my clothes dryer would not work. Since it (and my washer) was about twenty years old, I took the opportunity and bought a new appliances. And now, I can finish laundry in a timely manner.

Last Month & Last Year

Typically, I like to compare my progress to past progress. But the past six months have been unlike any other six months in my life. Therefore, a comparison isn’t helpful.

What I Learned

I’m learning to give myself permission not to do it all—and trying to be okay with that.

Joslyn Chase introduced me to Euphonics for Writers by Rayne Hall. It focuses on choosing words with sounds that support the mood, tension, and or character trait the writer wishes to express.

My friend, Dora Furlong, uses Scrivener in ways that hadn’t occurred to me. I now have a Fellowship Dystopia Series Bible in a Scrivener file and a collection of tips for writing in a Scrivener file. Those two files took time to collate, but have saved me bundles of time since then.

Looking Forward

I will finish If I Should Die. Look for future posts about some of my research and eventually a cover reveal. 

I still have a lot of my husband’s things to sort, store, or sell. Many items will find new homes through the Vietnam Veterans of America organization.

A never give up-never surrender attitude will continue to help me move forward. If you use that phrase and attitude, remember it doesn’t mean ignore yourself. And it doesn’t mean be perfect. Persevere, plod onward, follow your own pace…the journey is as important (more perhaps) than the destination. How has the first half of 2021 been for you?

My Month Shock and Relief on Repeat

My month of shock and relief on repeat is almost a continuation of our 2020 trials and tribulations. But not quite. While shocks came, relief came soon after. Of course, the insurgency at the Capitol was an enormous shock. It remains the top shocking and horrifying event for the month. But there were personal shocks as well. And enough relief that I made some progress on my monthly intentions.

image of open laptop with pen and journal, cup of coffee and a smart phone. Ready to write despite my month of shock and relief on repeat.


Wish I could say I made substantial progress this month. I wrote a lot of words. I cut even more words, hopefully improving the manuscript. The second draft has reached the midpoint. Finally. *Smile*

I improved both the number of words written and the time spent on writing over January 2020, but my husband was in rehab a year ago.

I published twelve blog posts this month. Even gained a few new subscribers. Hello and Welcome! **Waves**

Editorial calendars are great tools, I’m told. But I have struggled to use one for my blog. This month I had a lightbulb moment that may be my way of using an editorial calendar. I won’t say more about this until my first quarter progress report. It’s not truly a success unless I can repeat it for three months. (Something that has not happened for me in the past nine years.)


image of a cartoonish tree with bubbles instead of leaves and the bubbles are labeled goals, ideas, strategy, marketing, etc.  My goals or intentions met a month of shock and relief on repeat.

This is a vast grouping of activities that I spend the least amount of time. I need to improve my focus on these things but am not yet in a position where I can.

That means I’m continuing not to be on social media much. I’m also not reading as much as I wish.


In my role of marketing my books, I learned a lot this month. Mostly I learned how impatient I am. *Rueful smile*

Analyzing my book, sales markets, and my ad campaigns is finally making sense to me. In part because I have had mentors who’ve pointed me toward meaningful data. Plus, I’ve had more meaningful data to analyze.


Image of the Christmas tree in my living room still--it's been my month of shock and relief on repeat.

Optimism is my middle name. While watching the U.S. Presidential inauguration this month, my emotions took me by surprise. My optimism was shaken more thoroughly than I’d realized. Relief? You betcha.

Besides the events in D.C., we had a couple of scares here at home. For a few days, we thought my husband would need surgery again soon. Fortunately, it’s not nearly as serious as it sounded at first. It’ll be a wait and see situation. Shock and relief.

My son was exposed to COVID-19 at work. He had to quarantine for two weeks. Fortunately, the exposure was minimal. His employer was being extra cautious. My son is healthy and back to work. Shock and relief.

Is it any surprise that I got very little done on my intentions list under Home? Sigh. My Christmas tree is still up. And my poor dogs have shorter hair on only parts of their bodies. Yes, I didn’t finish grooming them. They look very strange, but cute.

What I Learned

What I learned is that while toward the end of last year I started scheduling some personal down time, it wasn’t enough. Like everyone else, I need time to process the events that affect me.

Marie Forleo reminded me that when I believe I’m not getting enough done to tweak my approach to scheduling—not to goal making. “Simplify to amplify.” Thanks, Marie.

Intentions for Next Month

Making: Much will remain the same. I hope to get the second draft of the next section of If I Should Die done. Publishing a blog post three times a week remains an intention.

Managing: I’ll be moving forward on some early book production items.

Marketing: Hopefully, I’ll continue to get meaningful data and learn how I can tweak my approach to advertising my books.

Home: I’ll finally get the Christmas tree down and finish grooming the dogs. And I’ll schedule regular me time to reflect and recharge.

Shock and Relief on Repeat

Hopefully, the rest of the year we’ll have nothing but more relief for everyone. COVID-19 will stick around for many more months, which means I’ll remain in self-quarantine. I’m supposed to hear from the county health department soon about receiving our vaccines. I hope each of you are remaining safe—wearing a mask and social distancing and washing your hands. Please get a vaccine as soon as you can.

Even though this has been a month of shock and relief on repeat, it’s ending on a strong relief note. How has your month been? What are you proud to have accomplished? What do you have planned for February?

A Quiet Busy Month

December is typically a hectic month. I’m often a last-minute shopper. There are celebrations—three birthdays, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. And it’s a three-in-one business-wise: end of the month, end of the quarter, and end of the year. Yup, tons of statistics, gathering statistics, and reviewing the year. This pandemic year it was a quiet busy month.

black and white image of bare trees on a snowy night--symbolic of a quiet busy month


Revising If I Should Die continues. Slowly. But you know what? I’m really pleased with changes I’ve made. Rearranged the order of some scenes and it works well. A first reader said she really enjoyed the story so far. She also made some brilliant suggestions for improvements.

image of text with red ink corrections--editing my manuscript continued during this quiet busy month

Eleven blog posts appeared here. (More to come)

I wrote a draft of a newsletter. Now I just need to format it and send it.


Every day I record the hours I work on a project or task. And I record word counts. 

Every week I review what I’ve accomplished and try to plan for the next week. Sometimes the plan works, other times not so much. 

My analysis of this month’s activities revealed a time period that I could use better. And while I’ve only recently changed the way I do things, I already see better productivity.

Learning how to write effective blurbs is a task I’ve set for myself. I did not spend as much time on this as I had planned.

Finally, I enjoyed attending a zoom write in with some writer friends every Wednesday except the week of Christmas. (There wasn’t one that week).


I missed my goal because I underestimated the time it would take. Not sure why I did that since I have the records that show how long it takes. Christmas brain maybe?


image of a colorful, lit Christmas tree in Lynette's living room during this quiet busy month

The beginning of the month was unseasonably warm. I took advantage of that and raked the last of the leaves out of the front yard. Well, not every one of them, but five bags full. 

A large branch fell during a day of powerful winds and broke a basement window.

Birthdays were celebrated remotely.

I put up the tree and decorated it. Got the Christmas shopping done. Wrapped gifts. Delivered gifts to family.

Took my hubby to four different in-person medical appointments. Fortunately, quarantine has been good for him. He’s enjoyed the best health he’s had in the past seven years.

And my electric clothes dryer quit drying. Took me a while to figure that one out. I kept thinking I must have forgotten to turn the thing on. Lol. But this means I’m doing some line drying inside the basement.

I saw and photographed the convergence. It’s not a great photo, but my location wasn’t great either.

Image of the convergence seen between the branches of a fir tree.

Going Forward

Hopefully, going forward there will be another busy quiet month. I definitely don’t want to have another turkey of a month.

Writing, rather revising, will continue. I’ve gotten to the midpoint and, of course, have to go back to the beginning again. Hopefully, that will make revising the last half faster. (Who am I kidding here?)

Blog posts will happen. I have not decided upon the categories I’ll explore next year. If you have any suggestions for topics you’d like me to cover, speak up.

I’ll do a review of my quarter and of the year. And I’ll gather receipts and records in preparation of filing taxes.

And I’ll do my best to make a realistic list of intentions for 2021. It will overestimate what I can accomplish. As a caregiver for someone with multiple chronic illnesses, my days never go quite as planned. And that’s okay. Flexible productivity is my phrase for 2021. 

A Peaceful Productive Month

A quiet busy month is a pleasant month. Not a typical December at all, but I got a lot of intentions checked off. How was your month?