Archive for December, 2013

Several of my friends have written a blog post recapping 2013. I almost didn’t, but I think I’m going to.

This year has been a pretty bad year for me. Hubby and I have both had health problems, his much worse than mine. The health problems contributed to financial problems, which would have been much worse if not for the generosity of others. I don’t think I can blame that for my lack of writing, though. I can’t really find a good excuse for not publishing anything (except a short story for an anthology) in all of 2013. I haven’t published since December 2012. That’s the longest I’ve ever gone without having a new novel or novella out there. I think I just wasn’t motivated enough. Book sales have been down, and that’s discouraging. But I’m SURE not going to sell anything if I DON’T get it out there. If I could have gotten my last book out this month, I could have said I published a book in 2013, but alas….

Anyway, I didn’t meet too many goals this year. I lost 25 lbs, so that was good, but I wanted to lose more. I’ve kept up with my exercise, so that’s a positive. My eating habits have slipped, so I need to fix that. My writing goals were NOT met. This is going to change in 2014, but that’s a post for tomorrow.

Now I want to count my blessings in 2013.

1) Hubby is still alive.
2) I’m still alive.
3) I have two wonderful, healthy sons, and I love them and their families SO much.
4) My mom is still around, and she’s the best mom in the world
5) I have awesome friends, both in real life and online.
6) I met even MORE awesome friends online this year.
7) I got to read a lot of books.
8) My church family is awesome, and I love them.
9) I have a job that I like, and I love my co-workers.
10)I may not have everything I want, but right now I have everything I need,

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and I’ll talk to you guys next year. I’m getting ready to go to a party/singing at church in a little while. Love you all!


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I’ve been promising updates. I checked my previous posts and realized I had already told you guys more than I thought. I was actually sleep deprived when I wrote my last update, so that’s why I probably don’t remember much about it. LOL

Anyway, to recap. Hubby hurt his foot at work. Then he had a heart cath done, they found a blockage, and put in a stent. His heart function (the part where it pumps out the blood) is bad, so he’s on a bunch of different medications and is wearing a “Life Vest” which is an external defibrillator. He’s a pretty sick guy, and he’s stir crazy right now.

That brings me to the part I didn’t want to mention. Mostly, because I didn’t want people to worry about us or feel sorry for us. Of course, I DO want prayers and thoughts! Anyway, hubby will be out of work at LEAST a month. Maybe longer. The doctor would have let him go back to work with restrictions, but the company he works for won’t let him because he couldn’t do the job he has with those restrictions. Plus, he probably couldn’t work with his hurt foot anyway (I’m getting a sense of deja vu on that one). I just keep hoping one of my books will someday break out enough that it will give us an income cushion when stuff like this happens.

Here’s what I’m doing to try to make up for lost income. My salary alone won’t even pay our BILLS, but hubby is eligible for short term disability, and that’s about 60% of his pay. It just takes a couple of weeks for it to get started. We can make this work.

1. I’m not eating out except for a couple of times a week, and that’s only really cheap places. (sometimes that’s cheaper than buying groceries). Also, if I bring my lunch to work, I don’t have to use the gas to go somewhere to eat.

2. We’re cutting our church contribution in half. This is the hardest thing for me on the list. But the Bible says: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by in store, as God has prospered him….” 1 Cor. 16:2. We are prospering about half of what we were, so I think we are doing the right thing.

3. I’m planning on calling Directv and cancelling our premium channels.

4. This one is hard. I’m not buying any books until this is over. I have LOTS already on my Kindle…enough to feed my addiction.

5. I’m going to stop taking the expensive natural vitamins I’ve been taking and start taking cheaper ones.

6. I’m canceling my gym membership. I have weights at home. I’ve just got to use them.

7. I’m going to pay only the minimum on my credit card bills for right now.

8. This one is bad, but we might have no choice…I’m going to use a credit card when I HAVE to.

That’s all I can think of right this minute. If any of you have suggestions on how to save money, I’m all ears. Even if you have suggestions that are just jokes rather than real suggestions, I could also use a laugh. LOL

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I FINALLY finished the first read through of Hearts of Evil. Yes, I have a title! I added a scene between the prologue and the current first chapter. If the beta readers think the scene adds to the story, it will become the first chapter. I found a few errors, but not as many as I thought. I sent the story to two of my beta readers today. I had already sent a non-edited copy to another one. I have one more to send it to. My two major beta readers are very thorough and always have a lot of suggestions for edits. I hope they will be gentle. LOL. I have a few concerns about this story, and I hope the betas can help me address those concerns. I have no cover art yet, but Anya is working on that.

There is a lot going on with my husband right now, and I’ve purposely withheld a lot of it for a couple of reasons. 1) It’s the holidays, and I just didn’t want to bring anyone down with all of this. I also tried to forget a lot of it, and I managed to enjoy Christmas with family and friends. 2) I don’t want anyone to think I’m whining or trying to get sympathy. When I’m ready to share, I’ll do it because I feel close to all of you and WANT to share. But after the holidays. We are going to enjoy these holidays all the way through the New Year.

Next year, I’m going to set deadlines for myself. I let myself get very lax with my writing this year, and because of that, it took me a whole year to get my latest book done. I’m used to publishing more than that, so this didn’t feel good to me. I’m going to be stricter with myself in 2014, but I’m going to make sure I allow for possible setbacks that might be beyond my control.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas (if you celebrate it) and let’s all have a fun New Year’s Eve.

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Sometimes I feel like if I hear the word “genre” one more time, my head will explode. I know it’s a legitimate word about a legitimate thing, but it’s so frustrating sometimes to try to figure out where my book fits. I’ve worked on my latest book for many months. During that time, I’ve tried my best to figure out what genre to put it in. Because, you know, you HAVE to. It has to go somewhere. So, is it… Horror? Paranormal? Paranormal romance? Thriller? Murder mystery? Supernatural thriller? Ack! I really hope my beta readers will be able to help me with this, because this is the first time I’ve never had a clue.

So now we segue into pen names and new directions…which also involves genre. I can’t get away from this word! Anyway, almost two years ago, I started what I was going to call a Christian Romance. And I was going to write this book under my real name instead of my pen name. I wanted something I could actually let my church friends read. I abandoned that idea after only writing about 15% of it because I was afraid it would take time away from my Lauralynn Elliott books. Today, I was thinking about a couple of things. First, I wonder if I should abandon the idea of writing Christian Romance and write “Sweet Romance”. I think there might be a bigger readership if that’s how I market it. I could get the Christian romance readers because they know there won’t be graphic sex in it, but also maybe get readers that don’t necessarily want to read books with the word Christian in them. I would have to rework a little bit in this book so it won’t sound so “judgy” in places. The second issue is the fact that it could push back publication of my other books. I’ve never been able to write two books at the same time. But I know others that do it, so it CAN be done. If I set aside certain times or certain days for each of the books, maybe I could pull it off. And it might be helpful if I’m stuck on one to be able to work on the other.

So what do you all think? How do you feel about genres? Have you ever had problems figuring out where your books fit? Do you write in different genres? Do you use more than one pen name?

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So my husband limped (see previous post) into the hospital to have his heart cath done. It turns out he DID have a blockage and they had to put in a stent. Not only that, his heart function isn’t very good (it doesn’t pump well enough), and it looks like it might be due to a couple of heart attacks he’s had in the last 5-6 years…that we didn’t know about until recently. So they sent him home with a “Life Vest” which is basically an external defibrillator. The vest itself is bad enough, but it’s attached to a monitor which is kind of heavy, and he has to wear that part clipped to his belt or on a belt wrapped around his waist. Needless to say, hubby is NOT a happy camper. They will determine in a few months whether or not he will have to have a defibrillator implanted. The doc said his heart function could improve with all the medications he will be taking.

I’m not too happy right now, either, because I don’t function well without sleep. Sunday night I didn’t sleep much or well because I had to get up at 4:00 am to get us to the hospital on time. And I didn’t sleep well last night because there’s nothing comfortable about a chair that converts to a bed. There are SEAMS in it and they aren’t comfy. I kept waking up. So between the two nights, I might have gotten 5-6 hours of sleep. Maybe.

I know there are people who are worse off than we are. I KNOW this, but sometimes knowing doesn’t help ME feel better. But I’m trying to be thankful for all the good things in my life. And you all are part of that! 🙂

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I’ve edited about half of my book. I wanted a Christmas release, but that’s not going to happen. So…sometime in January.

Now the bad news…I was so looking forward to a great Christmas. I’ve been so happy about the holidays, looking forward to time with family and friends. But hubby came home from work with an injured foot. It’s probably broken. It’s not the same one he broke earlier in the year. It was a scary thing for him. His foot got caught in machinery and it dragged him. There are reasons he’s not going to the doctor right now, but I’m not going to go into that. This is just all too much for me right now, and I’ve sat here and cried. He’s supposed to go in the morning to the hospital to have a heart cath done (a test where they check for blocked arteries, and they are also checking the valves), so now he’s going to go in there limping or on crutches. I keep thinking there are so many people in this world that are much worse off than we are. But it’s so hard to think that way when things are happening. We need prayers and/or good vibes sent our way.

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Since my husband has had to work so much lately (last week he worked 7 days!), we were late getting a tree. I actually went by myself to get the tree this year. I got it Sunday, and until today, there wasn’t an ornament on it except for the one I got at the ornament party on Friday.

Hubby has always been the one to put on the lights. I’m terrible at that, so he does the lights, I do the ornaments. This year, we could only afford a small tree, not much taller than my 5’3″ (and that’s stretching it) height. I was actually able to do the lights myself, and I’m thinking I might just like having the smaller tree.

The first ornaments that went on today were a set of Mickey Mouse ornaments that used to belong to my best friend who died in May 2011. Not too long after her death, her mother, her sister, and I traveled 500 miles to help her husband sort out her things and decide what to do with them. Her family was SO generous in what they let me take, and these ornaments were part of that. I didn’t even ask for them, but her family knew that the love of all things Disney was something she and I had shared. So I got all her Disney stuff. When I put those ornaments on the tree, I felt like I was honoring her in some way. It’s a mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy because we had so many good times, so many wonderful memories. Sorrow because I miss her so very much. More than I can explain with words. I have tears as I write this.

Last year was such a whirlwind of bad stuff. I lost my father on Thanksgiving Day. I found out I had diabetes in December, on the same day of the Sandy Hook shooting. Hubby and I just decided we would buy cheap ornaments and not even try to get the good ones down. Our cats were still young enough that I thought they would destroy the tree anyway, which they really didn’t. So last year was a bust with Christmas decorations.

So this year, even though we are doing it late, I’m determined to make the most of decorating, enjoy doing it, and enjoy the results. The holidays are going to be great this year. They HAVE to be. And it’s all starting with those beautiful Mickey Mouse ornaments that remind me of a person who always had joy in her heart and mischief in her mind. I’m thinking of you, my friend who resides in Paradise. I know you laugh at me every day for the silly things I do. I miss your sarcasm, your unrestrained laugh, and your kind soul. You are always in my heart.

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Ack! That is how I feel right now. So many parties, Christmas shopping, house cleaning to get READY for it all. I had fully intended to do some editing on my book during lunch yesterday. THEN I remembered…during lunch I had to 1)Buy a sweater or sweatshirt for the ugly sweater contest at the party I had to attend last night, 2) Purchase ugly things to put on said sweater/sweatshirt, 3) Purchase food for the party (I forgot to make anything), 4) Actually put ugly things on the sweatshirt. My lunch hour was shot. I got back home too late from the party to do any editing. Tonight is church night, so editing might happen, but only a little. Why do we finish up books this time of year? I really, really wanted a Christmas release. I could probably get the first round of editing done, but I can’t expect my beta readers to drop everything this time of year to read my book. I happen to know one of them is extremely busy right now, and the others probably are, too. I think I’ve actually probably lost one beta reader due to the fact she’s so busy all the time.

I don’t believe I’m going to have a Christmas release. The upside to this is that most of my book sales have always been in January and February, because people are finding books to download on their shiny new Kindles, Nooks, iPads, etc. The downside is that most people already own a reading device now, so there aren’t as many new ones, therefore, not so many downloads. It’s not like 2011 when I had GREAT sales in those two months, and one of my books got up to 134 in the Kindle store. There are too many writers publishing now. It’s hard to get noticed. And, I’m totally rambling and getting off-topic. Where was I? Oh, yeah.

So, do you feel like it’s a huge challenge to write or edit during the holidays? How do you handle this? Do you try to schedule some time for it, or do you just throw up your hands and decide to wait until after the holidays?

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Is anyone else getting excited about Christmas? I am! Last year, I lost my father on Thanksgiving day. Then, in mid-December, I found out I had diabetes…the same day the Sandy Hook shooting occurred. Not a great holiday season last year, huh? But it’s a new year, and I have my blood sugar under control with one insulin shot a day plus some pills. Not ideal, but life is good. I intend to ENJOY my holidays this year.

So onto the report.

Writing: I finished my WIP on November 30, and I didn’t touch it until yesterday. I edited five chapters yesterday. So far, so good. I only found a few little things where I thought I should word some things differently. The manuscript is actually 900+ words short of what I shot for. Also, though, I realized there was a scene that might work between the prologue and the current first chapter. I’m going to talk to my beta readers about it and get their input when I’m ready to send it to them.

Exercise: Mostly, this has gone well. I did my three days at the gym. I have an extra incentive not to skip workouts since my insurance will now pay for it if I go 12 times in a month. I skipped a couple of days on the treadmill because 1) I had to get up at 4:00 on Thursday, and 2) I overslept on Friday (probably because of #1).

FlyLady: I’ve done so-so on housekeeping and organization. Now that the last exporting class for work is over, my stress is now lower. I nailed our presentation at that class, by the way. WIN! 🙂 So I’m ready to embrace all three of my goals with gusto! The rest of December is going to be awesome!

Let’s all get excited together, okay? It can be contagious!

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It’s been a decent week, I think. I had a good Thanksgiving with great food (if I do say so myself),but most of all, great family times. Unfortunately, my oldest son was sick, so he and his wife couldn’t make it. But we might get to see them next weekend.

So here’s the deal:

Writing: My goal was to finish my WIP by November 30. This has nothing to do with NaNo, it’s just the date I picked for a deadline. I’m happy to say I typed THE END yesterday. I’m not so happy to say that I don’t really like the ending. I kind of let my corny sense of humor get the better of me in the epilogue, and a lot of people probably won’t be amused. I’m going to need a lot of help from my beta readers with it. I’m going to start editing and proofing next week before sending it out to be criticized critiqued. 🙂

Exercise: I was off from work for the holidays starting Wednesday. I didn’t get on the treadmill for three days. Grrr. But I got back on Saturday morning and walked a little extra to make up for some of it. I’ve bumped my speed up a bit. This is a big deal for someone with short legs.

FlyLady: The housekeeping and organization with the FlyLady method is going well. Not perfect, but good enough. Because FlyLady says we have to let go of our perfectionism. 🙂

How about the rest of you? Who did NaNo? Who WON NaNo? Who is glad they didn’t do NaNo? *raises hand* Good luck to everyone this week!

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