Doing What I Love Takes the Sting Out

Doing what I love takes the sting out. Much of it anyway. Not all. The death of my husband overwhelmed me and impacted what I have accomplished so far this year. It’s been messy. I’ve not met many of my intentions. But tracking what I have accomplished and reporting on it here reminds me of what I have accomplished. Takes the focus off what I haven’t done.

Do what you love, and do it well – that’s much more meaningful than any metric.

Kevin Systrom


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 impedes your plan, take care of that event or disturbance, intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention.


I didn’t finish the revision on my work-in-progress as soon as I had hoped. But I finished the first set of revisions on If I Should Die. The book is out to my Beta Readers. 

Beta readers are voluntary. They understand that this is not a polished draft. They comb the manuscript for inconsistencies, slow pacing, or other story problems. I usually give my beta readers a 3-4 week window to read and get their comments back to me. When I have all their comments, I review the comments. I consider all comments carefully, especially if more than one person made similar comments. After a week of brainstorming how to use those comments to improve the story, I revise the manuscript. 

This is doing what I love. I love writing, but unlike many authors, I also love revisions. It’s exciting and satisfying to shape the story into the best reader experience I can make it.


Busy, busy, busy. Attending the 20Books Conference in Vegas kept me running most of the month. I learned a lot of best practices, tips and tricks and small but significant details of publishing. I’ve spent a large portion of time since my return making plans based on what I learned.

I made calls. Sent emails. And I bought software and tech stuff that will (I hope) improve my productivity and health in this very sedentary life. (More about those later.)

I posted my second blog post on the Writers in the Storm blog. Those posts seemed to increase visits to my blog. 

Posts on my own blog have slowed considerably this month. I planned not to blog while in Vegas, but other days were unplanned misses.

Due to all the extra activities, I also missed most of my virtual write in meetings and my critique group meetings. 


I’m continuing to refine my marketing efforts on Amazon. These efforts have increased impressions received on those ads. Hopefully, more sales will follow.


This area of intentions has also been crazy busy. Cleaning and reorganizing, selling and donating, and strolling down memory lane are a large part of my non-writing time.

Of course, I still enjoy time with my grandson every week. 

Mea culpa. I completely ignored the fact that during the last few years of my husband’s illness and then the pandemic, my poor dogs had only ridden too and from the dreaded vet’s office. SIGH. They have forgotten the joy of riding in the car.


I’ve already blogged about Las Vegas. 

My son and daughter-in-law hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year. I ate too much. And I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed game time with the family. (The toddler made a game of running in and out of the room where we were playing.) It was a low-key affair and just what I needed this year.

What I Learned

Oh my. I could fill a book with what I learned during this month. No, I won’t bore you with the details. However, in the months ahead, you will notice a few changes around here.

This is part of doing what I love. I love to learn new things, try new things, experience new things. Between the pandemic and my grief, I haven’t experienced the lift of doing what I love as much as usual. 

Intentions for Next Month

I could fill a book… Yeah. I bite off way more than I can chew. Unfortunately, as an independent author, there are things that are time sensitive. And many pieces of writing and publishing must happen in a certain order.

Intentions for Making in December include drafting an outline for book 3 in the Fellowship Dystopia Series, revising my website and, at long last, republishing my books with new covers. 

I am hosting on the Writers in the Storm blog this month. 

And besides the two major holidays, I have a trip to Memphis planned, and three birthdays to celebrate. Oh, and the trip means I’m taking short drives with the dogs to help them remember car trips can be fun.

Yup. It’s going to be another busy-bee month. I’ve got big intentions and I know that most of my intentions will extend into 2022.

I am Grateful

It’s the end of November. Thanksgiving is over, but my cup of gratitude is overflowing. I’m grateful to be doing what I love. And my gratitude to my readers, my friends, and my family is unending. You all have enriched my life. Thank you.

What are you most grateful for at the end of this month?

What intentions do you have for next month?

Image Credits

Top Image by 3844328 from  Pixabay 

Middle Photo by Marije Woudsma on Unsplash

Last Photo by Ephraim Mayrena on Unsplash

Coming Out of the Storm

It’s the end of the month and time for me to come clean with how productive (or not) I’ve been. Fairly recently I had a friend compliment me on this regular feature of my blog. She said it was a courageous way of making myself accountable. I suppose it seems courageous to some. It’s definitely a way to keep myself on track, but I hope readers enjoy the glimpse into the messy life of a creative too. A creative’s progress on any project will be messy, like a storm is messy. Storms stir up all kinds of good and bad stuff and strew things randomly across streets and yards. Creativity is like that. Sometimes it’s a raging storm. Sometimes it’s deadly quiet, like the eye of a hurricane. Even before my husband died, sometimes finishing a project felt like coming out of the storm.

Photograph of dark storm clouds over a green wheat field with lighter clouds visible in the distance and the words "Coming out of the storm or heading into it" written across the image

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember you how made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what the storm’s all about.

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore


It’s been a while since I’ve explained this. 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 interferes your plan, take care of life, then return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention. Want to know more? Read A New Year and New Intentions.

I put my intentions in four buckets or areas: Making (writing, blogging, outlining, etc.), Managing (noncreative stuff like correspondence, budgets, planning, etc.), Marketing (activities related to ad creation, management, or other actions to sell my books), and Home (everything else.)


The big news in the Making bucket is that I am on track to finish the revision draft of If I Should Die by the end of the month. Yay!

My word counts across all areas of Making are lower than previous months. I am not disappointed because this phase of the revision draft doesn’t call for a lot of rewriting. This phase is more about smoothing and doing a little polish here and there.

I can’t overlook the second piece of big news. My first blog post for Writers in the Storm went up this month, and it went well. Thanks to you all for checking it out! And a special thanks to Jenny Hansen and the WITS gang for inviting me to be a part of their group and for a very warm welcome.

While there were some misses this month, overall this month has been successful in the Making area.


Image says coming soon! Fellowship has a new look with a peek at the new cover showing a shadow against a light brown image on a dark brown background.

Managing and Marketing mixed it up a bit this month. I’ve created new business cards, done a bit of correspondence, and a lot of pre-production work for the re-release of Fellowship coming up next month.

I also had an interesting thing happen on the website. Apparently, there are bots out there that make fake pages for some websites. Yeah. I had no clue, but one showed up on the reports I view weekly. I reached out to my awesome web host, TechSurgeons, who investigated and assured me it was a fake and needed no intervention. Yay, I think.


It’s been an interesting month for Marketing. As mentioned above, there’s been some with book production work. I also spent some time tweaking ads on Amazon and analyzing what happens. Some of what I’ve done has been successful, some I need more data to understand what impact the changes made.

Home and Me

This is the area of intentions that has been crazy busy the last two months, particularly this month. My friends have sold a lot of inventory from my husband’s former business. (It was a very niche business and requires specialized knowledge that I don’t have.)

I got my flu shot and my COVID-19 booster. Had my regular checkup. Besides my own exercise program, my doctor added some physical therapy. Don’t worry, I’m all right. My head isn’t spinning any more. But several months of being physically inactive because of grief, followed by four months of being as sedentary as possible because of vertigo, have taken their toll. I need a little extra help to get muscles and joints back to doing what they’re supposed to.

…and a New Car

Photograph of me standing by my new dark blue Honda CR-V just outside of the Jay Wolfe Honda showroom.

At the end of September, I sold my husband’s van and my car. That left me with a 2017 Toyota Wheelchair van. So, I started looking for a new car during the last week of September. I put a deposit down on a vehicle that was being shipped to the dealer. It arrived in town the first of this month and I bought a 2022 Honda CR-V. My first brand new car in a very long time. I’d forgotten how much paperwork accompanied selling and buying cars.

My wonderful son helped me rearrange the garage (which is still very full). He did such a fantastic job, that my new car fits. This is the first time I’ve been able to get my car in the garage for more than ten years!

Oh, and I got my haircut.

Selfie of me with much shorter hair styled in a Lob (long bob).


We celebrated a birthday, and I played with two grandkids while their parents celebrated an anniversary. I enjoyed lunch out with a friend and texts and phone calls with friends.

Photograph of thirteen year old grandson C lying on a sofa watching the game on his phone while  2 year old grandson J plays a game with toys on the other sofa.

What I Learned

I am a lifelong learner. But my lessons these days have more to do with re-learning who I am, what my goals are, and how I can best go about reaching those goals.

I miss my husband every day. Grief doesn’t go away, you just learn to live with it, to go on despite it.

I love the quote above. Not because it speaks of a storm, but because you walk out of the storm. Changed, not the same, but that is what the storm is about, what life is about. Change can be painful, but it isn’t inherently bad. Sometimes it’s exciting.

Going Forward

Next month has new challenges. I’ll be offline for a week, attending a writer’s conference. But I’ll return invigorated by new information, new acquaintances, and an infusion of energy. (Yes, masks are mandatory at the event.)

I may start an outline, but I don’t expect to get a lot of fiction words written. Beta readers reading If I Should Die won’t submit their feedback until the end of the month.

Mid-month, I will put a new blog post on the Writer’s in the Storm site and I will reveal the new cover for Fellowship.

Of course, Thanksgiving will be here in the US. There will be family gatherings and food. Lots of food.

I’m coming out of the storm only to head into another one or two or three. That’s okay. Storms make a mess, but they also clear the air for something new.

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.

One Step Back and Two Forward

It is August 31, 2021 as I write this and time for a progress report. Adapting to change is never easy. So things progress in an irregular pattern. This month has been a one step back and two forward kind of experience. But I’m happy to report some progress.

Image of one way signs fanned in a circle so they point every which direction. Following them I took one step back and two forward.


I was having trouble writing the last couple of scenes in Act II, so I drove out to the actual physical location where this portion of the story takes place. And drat it all, I learned that a cool detail I used doesn’t exist in real-life. So I took a step back and two steps forward. It took a couple of days to revisit chapters that used that cool detail and wrote it out of the story. The good news is that visit filled in some details that worked really well.

The middle of the story is my nemesis. I find all kinds of plot holes and illogical moves. But I believe I’ve repaired all of those and I have finally—at long last—moved on to Act III.

One, maybe two more months and I will share the manuscript with first readers. Hopefully, they’ll find all the silly slips and cut-and-paste errors I’ve made. Then I’ll be rewriting again (but faster I hope!)


A writer wears many hats. The managing hat encompasses everything that isn’t creating fiction or blog posts or marketing.

Even in managing I took a step back and two forward. I stepped back to review my brand strategy. Forward steps included listening to some of my favorite podcasts and reading. I read Mars One by Jonathan Maberry. It’s the first book I’ve been able to read since the beginning of the pandemic. (Tell me I’m not the only one having trouble reading during this.)


My marketing efforts remain fairly small, but they are gaining some traction. This month was mostly a tweak here and there, then sit back and watch what happens.


I love spending time with my grandsons. We celebrated my youngest grandson’s second birthday, and I had some extra time with him this month. I also visited with some friends. (We’re all vaccinated against COVID and taking precautions.)

Change is happening in my home life as I am adjusting to being single. Exploring new recipes and rearranging some things and selling other things have been a large part of my activities this month.


Life is full of small but important events like my grandson’s birthday and C going to middle school. Thanks to COVID, no travel and not much time outside of my home. Though, I am in the early planning stages for some travel late this fall.

What I Learned

Small steps are the theme of my learning this month. There are small steps I’ve taken with Amazon ads, small steps in creating blurbs, and small steps in improving my brand. Yes, I’m being vague. Most of you don’t really care about those details and those of you who do will be on the lookout for more information in the future.

Intentions for Making

Next month I intend to increase the time I spend writing. I’d love to finish the book in the next month. But I’ve got a few knots between first draft and current draft to smooth out. So I’m making my intention to get 2/3rds of the way through Act III by the end of the month.

Intentions for Marketing

I won’t change my marketing plans as I still need to gather more data on the changes I made this month.

Intentions for Managing

In the Managing area, revising front and back matter is a priority for next month. One project I have going on is a slight rearrangement of my office to improve my workspace and workflow. Cleaning and preparing walls for paint are also top intentions.

Intentions for Home

stack of square signs of colored circles with white letters saying Do It Your Way.

In the Home area, change is continuing. There are many things to sort out. Since there’s no rush to get those things done, my intentions in this area are to continue and get done what I can.

Going Forward

Beyond finishing this book before the end of the year, I do not know what changes I’ll make in the next few months. What I know is that I will probably have a few more months of one step backward and two forward. I’m doing it my way. And I’m okay with that.

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?