Thirty-one days

That’s all that’s left of this year. Thirty-one days.

2016 has been a ridiculous year. I moved into a new house. Got divorced. Lost my job.

A year ago, I declared that 2016 would be the year of me. And you know, those three things I just listed that sound pretty terrible on the surface? Those things are part of the year of me.

They are, by far, the hardest things about the year of me, though. Moving into my own place was difficult. And expensive. Getting divorced was really hard. And expensive. And as much as I wanted a new job, losing my job without something else lined up was extremely difficult. And wow…finances suck.

There have been bright spots. Four amazing bright spots.

  1. This kid, for all that it’s been a hard year for him, is fantastic. He’s four and a half, so that makes him willful, independent, and boundary-testing. He’s also sweet, kind, and generally and happy little guy. He frustrates me and exhausts me and makes my heart grow three sizes every time he tells me how much he loves me.

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"I will take our selfie, Mommy."

“I will take our selfie, Mommy.”

 

  1. This guy. The beer guy I’ve referenced once or twice. He has definitely been a bright spot in my universe this year. I honestly don’t know how I would’ve gotten through the year without his support. It’s really been a fantastic journey and one that I’m looking forward to continuing, hopefully with much less stress at some point.

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  1. This trip. My solo trip to Iceland, while also very expensive, was amazing. I really went a long ways out of my comfort zone, was wracked with nerves leading up to it, and ended up having an even better time than I’d imagined. There are definitely pros to traveling with someone (someone to talk to and with whom you can take turns driving are two that come to mind), but now that I’ve done this, I know I can do just about anything.

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  1. This job. It’s been a good writing year. I maybe haven’t been as productive as I would’ve liked, but I wrote two full length novels this year, have 1/2 of an Eleanor Morgan world novella done, finished initial edits of a book, hired a cover artist, hired an editor, and am getting close to finishing the BIG edit for that book. I’m hoping to have my first book ready for publication by my 40th birthday (if not before). It’s scary/exciting/terrifying/a little awesome.

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So, while overall, my feelings about 2016 can be summed up in one meme:

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I wouldn’t change anything.

Well, maybe one thing.

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I am, however, very much looking forward to 2017. I don’t know why the one-day difference between 12/31/16 and 1/1/17 will be a game changer, but I need something to pin my hopes on!

2017 – new job, new book, new home (again), and so many exciting new experiences to look forward to. My kidlet will start Kindergarten (!!!!), provided the new job is a decent paying job, I have plans to go to Romania (!!), I’ll get Eleanor Morgan #2 published mid-year (!!!), and I’ll turn 40, which I’m assuming means I’m entering my Awesome Period (!).

Best of luck to everyone out there just trying to make it through this one last month. Thirty-one days. We’ve got this.

Turn faster, dammit!

Turn faster, dammit!

 

Motivational Blogging

Motivational in that I’m trying to motivate myself. I got the first round of edits back from my editor yesterday and although I don’t disagree with a damn thing she said – and in fact – told her when I sent the MS to her that I needed help with the problems she pointed out (this is a content edit, not a line edit or proofread), for some reason when she agreed  with me and offered said suggestions that I had explicitly asked for, it hurt my feels.

That doesn’t even begin to make sense, does it?

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I guess my delusional secret self was really hoping she’d write back and say, “Holy Odin, Amy! This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read. The only thing I’d change is to maybe make it…longer. MORE WORDS! YOU HAVE THE BEST WORDS! MAYBE MAKE THEM YUGER! BIGLY WORDS!” or something. I’m not even sure.

The problems that she explicitly pointed out have two main causes:

  1. This is the very first full-length novel that I will admit to having finished. It was a learning process and I wrote too many words. My first draft was 149K words. That’s two books. My final draft that I sent it was a good deal shorter, but not short enough but I’d gotten to the point where I couldn’t see anything to cut anymore and knew that the first 1/3 of the book could stand some major fat trimming.
  2. Going back to the whole “my first time” issue – I am a much tighter writer (hee – that rhymes! maybe I should become a poet instead) now. Much. I am more skilled at both crafting a story and telling it efficiently.

So, now I have a major rewrite coming. This is not a process I anticipate needing as much with all subsequent books in the series as they are already in much better shape.

This makes me feel a little bit like just quitting. Deleting all the files. Burning my hard drives. Erasing the cloud. Making it rain or something. I don’t really know how the cloud works.

I know that’s ridiculous and the fact that the editor opened with some really nice things to say about my plot, characters, and overall style probably should hold more weight than the ache I feel at not being perfect 100% of the time, especially on my first go, but emotions are not logical, no matter how much I wish they were.

So today is regrouping. Planning. Scheduling.

Tomorrow starts my month of getting shit done. If Hillary Clinton can campaign with pneumonia and become the first female president of the United States (just putting it out there), I can simultaneously write the 50,000 words I need to finish my current WIP (be my NaNoWriMo buddy!), edit this other book so that I can prep it for publication by the end of the year and finally show everyone the gorgeous cover, and find a damn job so that I don’t have to live in a box starting 12/1.

Right? RIGHT!?

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Three Things Thursday – Writerly Edition

  1. OMG OMG OMG OMG! You guys! I have a cover for my book! A real cover! AND IT’S SO PRETTY! And I’m not going to share it. Yet. I’m still waiting for my first round of edits to come back, and once that happens, I’ll have a better idea of publishing timelines…but you know what’s the best part of this whole thing? THE COVER HAS MY NAME ON IT!
SAY MY NAME, BITCHES!

SAY MY NAME, BITCHES!

 

  1. I am trying to finalize my blurb today. It’s nearly there. This is much, much harder than writing a whole bunch of books, by the way. I have my official version that I’m going to send to the cover artist so she can mostly finalize the paperback wrap, and then the much better version that I workshopped with a friend last Friday.
I edited out the name of my correspondent to protect the guilty, but she's welcome to out herself if she wants!

I edited out my friend’s name to protect the guilty, but she’s welcome to out herself if she wants.

 

  1. NaNoWriMo…I have done this every year since my dad died (excepting the first year) because we were NaNo buddies and this is one of the ways in which I honor him. I’m planning on doing it again this year, but am unsure if I’m going to just get my 50K of my current WIP (technically against the rules, as you’re supposed to start something new, but RULES ARE FOR SUCKERS!) or start one of the other couple projects I have brewing in my head. I just wish my dad was around so I could share my cover art and my blurb and tell him to DEFINITELY NOT READ the sexy bits of my book. I miss him always, of course, but there are things that definitely hit harder – and seeing him in my NaNo “friends” page every year is one of those things…

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40 Before 40 – Update the Eighth

Eighth is a weird word. It’s not autocorrecting, so I must be spelling it right. But weird, right?

ANYWAY – we’re reaching the home stretch. Due to  my current unemployment and my desire to not live in a box, some of the things are going to be postponed until I have more disposable income. But still – I have made a bit more progress.

Things that I did in the last month…

I went to the local nude beach. I did a volunteer cleanup there. I saw lots of naked people and too many snakes to make me want to be one of those naked people. BUT – because I love you, I bring you photographic evidence. Boobs and pussy.

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Heh. It’s a cat.

 

I made jam. Lots of jam. I’ve been cooking more, too (yay for the instant pot!). So, the DIY stuff is coming along nicely.

All the fig jam...

All the fig jam…

I also climbed a tree. A fig tree. To make fig jam. It was a little scary, but it’s done! (Sorry – no photos of this!)

That takes me to 17 of 40 things finished…but there are some things that will be done!

  1. [Redacted]
  2. Photo framing – just need to shell out the $$ to get that done
  3. Cheese trying – this is currently on hold (fortunately, I’d probably tried nearly 12 cheeses in the first 7 months, so I can probably declare this a win…).
  4. Publish my first book – I have the cover art mockup – just need to finalize fonts; and I should get first edits back from my editor at the end of this week.
  5. Perfect pie crust – I made pie earlier this week, and although it was good, it wasn’t perfect. Yet. I’ll try a new crust recipe for the second go.
  6. Meet three computer friends IRL. DAMMIT, Cat! Just come visit for the weekend. Mel – wanna go cheese shopping or something? I’d buy you a beer.
  7. Ice skating. I will go. I will fall down. People will laugh, but it will be done.
  8. Regular exercise.
  9. Self care (I’m mostly sleeping better and I’m starting to eat a little better now, too…)
Pecan pie. I served it with whiskey hard sauce. It was amazing.

Pecan pie. I served it with whiskey hard sauce. It was amazing.

 

 

Fifty-four (54!) months with Alvie Bean

Dearest Bean,

I kinda think I might need to demand a maternity test. Although there are times when I’m positive you’re my kid (your favorite food is a grilled cheese sandwich and you tripped and did a header into a shelf of wine, breaking 11 bottles with your skull), there are other times I’m just not so sure.

Last weekend, we were cleaning your room and I said you needed to pick five things to put in the give away box.

You chose five books. Four of which were Caldecott Medal winners (I would’ve chosen the airplane book clearly written for a much younger child or the random book on Greek festivals that is not only for someone much older, but also extremely out of date and poorly written). You also told me you’re not going to learn how to read because “it takes too much time.”

It's no wonder when these are the books I give him, right? (Oct 2014)

It’s no wonder when these are the books I give him, right? (Oct 2014)

This is deeply disturbing. You may not know this about me, but I read. I like reading. It’s my favorite hobby. I’ve been reading to you since before you were born, and every night before bed we read a story. (We used to read three, but your books are much longer now that we’ve graduated from Boynton.) The only nights you don’t get stories are the nights you either fall asleep unexpectedly soon or the nights you’re possessed by sloth demons and can’t get yourself ready for bed in a reasonable amount of time. (That second happens so seldomly – I think only when you forgets that mama never makes threats she doesn’t intend to keep and story skipping is definitely my last resort.)

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The only thing in the universe that matters now is Pokemon. I know a lot more about Pokemon than I ever thought possible.

 

This morning, you disowned me because I wouldn’t let you watch Pokemon before going to school. You seemed shocked that I didn’t immediately capitulate. I told you that since I was no longer your mother, that meant I didn’t have to share my tv, or my internet, or my cheese with you anymore. There were tears. I won ex-mom of the year. (I have since been brought back into the family.)

Weirdest family ever.

Weirdest family ever.

You are four and a half. Other than the reading part (and the part where you’re four and a half, which OMG! Why doesn’t the quest for independence and the strong personality development happen the second you leave for college? Can’t you just be agreeable and pliable and do everything I ask until you move out and need to think for yourself?) you’re really a great kid. You’re so kind to others – especially those smaller than yourself and you love helping.

He is a shockingly good carrot peeler.

He is a shockingly good carrot peeler.

You’re affectionate and smart and funny (although maybe not quite as funny as you think you are). You never, ever stop talking. Ever. EVER.

Well, maybe occasionally.

Well, maybe occasionally.

You’re stubborn and charming and determined. You are easily frustrated when things aren’t easy and I fear this will be the biggest challenge you face as a developing human, because DUDE! I feel you. (And seriously, socks can be difficult.)

You have the capability of making me seethe with anger like no one else and can make my heart feel too full seconds later when you look at me and say, “I love you to the sun and the moon and back, mommy. I will love you until you die. And then I will still love you when you’re dead.”

"I'm dead, mommy. I don't have to go to bed tonight."

“I’m dead, mommy. I don’t have to go to bed tonight.”

You’ve been waking up in the middle of the night and wanting to crawl into bed with me. I probably allow it more often than I should, because I’m tired, too, and it’s the path of least resistance. I’d like you to start sleeping through the night again, though. Every night. That would be great.

I document a lot of sleeping to remind myself that it really does happen.

I document a lot of sleeping to remind myself that it really does happen.

You are a bundle of heart and feelings (and dirt) and I am so thankful that you’re mine. You challenge me constantly (and sometimes literally – we have a lot of weaponry about). You make me want to be a better person so I can be the best mom for you.

"I will take our selfie, Mommy."

“I will take our selfie, Mommy.”

Love you to the sun and the moon and back forever and two days.

Mommy.