Monthly Archives: December 2014

A year of changes

2014 was definitely a transition year. We started it out by making an offer on a house in Enterprise and making a commitment toward…well, at least a lifestyle spent between Portland and Northeastern Oregon. A return to the roots of our marriage, so to say.

This was also the year that I walked away from teaching. Everyone else around me calls it “retirement.” I don’t call it that, not really. For one thing, I’m too damn young to be retiring, at fifty-seven. For another, it was something I had to do, not something that I planned for due to age and appropriate rewards and such. I made it to ten years, but the last four were a battle, and I’m angry about how and why it happened. Oh, I left in good standing. My last review was bad only because my kids didn’t make the test score goal I set, and I’m fully aware that it was a statistical game that could have been massaged and tweaked to show better results. I didn’t leave because I was forced out.

I left because I could no longer honestly collaborate in what we’re doing to our kids. I left because I could no longer condone the shell that special education is becoming. I left because I had no more strength to fight back, and to remain longer would take a further toll on my physical and emotional health.

I didn’t want to leave. But I almost stayed too long, for my own good. And I’m angry about it.

I still want to do something in education. But I won’t go out and get a doctorate, because I refuse to put myself through that level of torture for diminishing returns. I’d love to find some tutoring gigs, or consulting gigs, or something. However, the time hasn’t been right. I’ve needed time to rest and recover, and figure out where I’m going to be and how much time I’m going to commit to the education part of my life. That plan is going to be several years in the making.

Meanwhile, there’s the writing. This past fall, I suddenly (hmm, about midway through the semester, about conference time) switched from Teacher Brain to Retail Artisan Brain. After that oh shit I’m not ready for the season moment, I hustled, and I’m honestly proud of how quickly I brought things together. But it was hard, pounding work and I didn’t get a lot of immediate return on it. These things are a learning curve, though, and one thing I have planned to do–probably during my down time in Enterprise this weekend–is to sit down and plan out a publishing schedule for next year which takes into consideration Amazon Kindle Select schedules, holiday schedules, special event schedules, and so on. I used to do this for my jewelry. Now it’s time to put it together for my writing. Since I have a better idea of what’s what and how long it takes me to put something together, I think I can create a schedule which allows for both self-publication and outside submission deadlines. I need to get a handle on promotion as well (famous last words).

Look, I managed to figure out how to get on the Amazon Top 100 for two publications, one of which lasted dang near all of December. I’ve been a Writers of the Future SemiFinalist. I know I can take the writing to the next level. It’s time to get serious about it and lay out the projects and put down the words.

The big issue is time. Carving out time to write, carving out time to blog, carving out time to promote, carving out time to live.

I’ve also decided to get back into the craft world, so I’m going to be making more noise about creating and selling jewelry again. Part of my plans for the office in Enterprise incorporates a jewelry-making and sewing space. I don’t delude myself that I sew well enough to sell my work, but, then again, maybe so.

But I also want time to breathe mountain air, and exist on hillsides while gazing at stunning views. I want to ride my horse across rolling hillsides.

And I want to be able to create a nest that is all our own. I want all these things, but I want to be able to live, to breathe, to enjoy. To move the earth somehow, to change things for the better. To leave this world a little bit–or even a greater bit–better because of something I managed to do.

That’s what 2015 is going to be about.

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Quick link to the Stocking Your e-Reader 2014 sale

I planned to write more, but then tomorrow’s farrier appointment got moved up to today, so I was at the barn. Yeah. Probably best, due to weather.

But hey. I managed to get into a “Stocking Your E-Reader” sale–good until January 2.

Here’s the description, from the webpage:


The second annual STOCKING YOUR E-READER SALE is here!


More e-books than you can jingle a bell at, and all .99 or less! Pick the kind of books you want to read, then scroll to the bottom and enter to win some fantastic prizes. Like a Kindle FIRE 6″ in your choice of color with $50 Gift Card to stock it anyway you’d like–and other awesome things.


So. Go here to find all sorts of ebooks up for sale, including my Winter Shadows, Christmas Shadows, and Dahlia.

Now I’ve got to run. Have a short story to finish and get sent out, plus other stuff.

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A quiet Christmas

In past years, I’ve spent Christmas running around doing this or that. When the son was still in school, I was also active in the church and doing Christmas Eve mass liturgies, either as reader or singer. Then, when teaching, there was always the crazy buzzing around as we counted down from Thanksgiving until Christmas. We had to do productive work, but whatever unit I brought on line had to be quick, easy to do, and fun. I did like turning the Christmas/winter picture books into one act plays (Jan Brett books are great for this) as a class writing project, but as test scores became more important and I got sucked into doing more paperwork stuff and test prep stuff, the plays went into the trash heap. Too bad, because I think the kids enjoyed doing them. Oh well.

This year was definitely a transition year. Sometime in October I suddenly switched out of Teacher Brain and into Retail Artisan Brain, otherwise known as oh crap I have NOTHING READY FOR CHRISTMAS PROMOTION. So, um, I’ve been fixing that. I know I’ve commented on this before, but between urgent rush production stuff, scrambling to meet some anthology deadlines, bringing horse back into condition, and other stuff, I’ve–uh–been busy and not being paying a lot of attention to the house and to the season. Knowing it’s a transitional year is also an issue, plus, damn it, the snow levels are such that I’ve not wanted to go up skiing yet (and, in fact, there’s not been enough snow to contemplate skiing unless I really wanted to turn my skis into rock skis).

Last week I also did something incredibly stupid and bricked my phone. Then I panicked, and went to my cell phone provider to deal with it instead of Apple. Needless to say, I’ve learned that going direct to Apple is the wiser course these days, and had many thanks for my son who helped me recover from the idiocy. But that was a day and a half or so lost due to dealing with those issues.

And then last Saturday, with a holiday book reading, was kind of the end of the promotional year. I did put Christmas Shadows out as a separate story e-book,  put it into Kindle Unlimited, set it to go free on Christmas Eve, and I’m now mulling over the results. Very interesting. I did make it into the Amazon Top 100 Free Under One Hour Romance list–well, okay, on last look I was still there. I think my highest was 45 and last look was 59. Hmmm. Food for thought.

Meanwhile, a good friend shattered her heel while setting up an artisan shop. I’m trying to pop in and see her a couple of times a week and help out when I can. There’s other local friends with issues. Plus the remodeling at Farpoint is now kicking into high gear, and we’re probably going for the home stretch big finale now. I have many things to do, and I’m scattered between all of them. Things like making curtains, buying construction materials, etc.  Shoot, the “buying curtain fabric” stuff ended up taking about three hours and two trips, in the long run.

So yeah. This year was a quiet Christmas. Yesterday, hubby, the son, and I went out for breakfast. Then hubby and I went to the barn while the son went to do tech stuff for a friend. We gathered in the early evening and had dinner, presents, and veged out. More vegging today with a nice breakfast, pizza for lunch, and then Peacock Lane and leftovers for dinner. I worked on a story I have due to an editor (rough draft almost done, yay) until I’d thrashed that thing to death, then cut out curtains before going to Peacock Lane. I worked a little bit on a show ribbon wreath this evening, and I’m now fading.

The year heads on toward its conclusion. 2015 is going to bring in a new era. Damn, I hope I can pull some of this stuff off.

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Oh hey. Look what’s free just for Christmas week.

christmas shadows

Now free on Amazon for Kindle.

For the first time in years, Diana Landreth is looking forward to a quiet Christmas at home with her family. Or can she? Her mother, a leader in the new Third Force government, has become strangely uncommunicative. The random, disruptive attacks by rogue war machines on cities worldwide may call both Diana and her husband, Will, out to capture the machines. Then Diana learns that her mother’s ex-lover may be involved in the mechanisms that created the Disruptions.

It’s going to be one heck of a Christmas Eve dinner.

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Filed under Netwalk Sequence

A long and productive weekend

The latest run to Farpoint was quite productive, indeed. We had to negotiate a freezing rain travel window (both I-84 and Tollgate over the Blues were closed for a while on Thursday) as the weather transitioned from cold to warmer and wet. We did get to see some lovely views in the Gorge, and stopped at Multnomah Falls. Of course, my good camera was buried under luggage so the phone camera had to do.


The other challenge of this trip was that we took the new-to-us pickup with a load of vinyl tile. While the Dakota has four-wheel-drive and wide tires, it doesn’t have studless snows. Pickups can be a bit skittery in snow and ice, and we’ve not really played with this one in adverse conditions yet. Still haven’t, except for ice. Nonetheless, it performed quite nicely, chugging in a most workmanlike manner up Cabbage Hill with a load that weighed at least a half ton in pea soup fog. Gas mileage is not the greatest (a 1999 with a v-8 engine is not what you’re looking for when it comes to getting the good mileage) but it’s a quite satisfactory sturdy driving rig for hauling stuff.

Once we were at Farpoint, we set about Doing Stuff. One Stuff to be done was to drive down to Wallowa and pick up 30 packages of insulation batts. I ended up finding a better solution than spending the day driving, which meant I had more time to work on Other Stuff, such as…

rehabbing this corner.


When we first set eyes on the red thing, we thought it was an old-timey Coca-Cola cooler. But it was buried under old roofing, a toilet still in the boxes, and lots of other stuff. As we dug the corner out, we discovered that The Red Thing is a coal stoker hopper. It still had some coal in it, and I discovered the label–Fairbanks-Morse. We tried moving it around, but there’s still ash in the burner part and it’s pretty heavy even with the coal dug out. Not sure what we’re going to do with it, but eventually…


Coal in the hopper


Before cleaning. I mopped the walls and floor of this area (the former coal bin) and got about an inch of residue in the bucket when I was done (and disposed of it in a sacrifice area where we aren’t going to grow anything).

So yeah. Hubby and I got major basement cleaning done. The goal is to clean it out, paint the walls with a moisture lock paint, and start at least storing books down there.

We also got a dump run accomplished, to gorgeous views.


Nice view from the dump, hmm?

Even with rain and fog, we still had mountain views most of the days. I got windows measured for curtains, because hopefully the floors and kitchen will be done the next time we go up, so that we can hang curtains and start moving things in (we have not wanted to do much with it yet because the tile to be pulled up is asbestos and didn’t want to paint/clean until that was done).

The drive home yesterday was full of “so this is why we bought a place where we did.” Enterprise had sun. But as we drove north, down the valley, we encountered fog, but only at a certain elevation (which happened to include the towns of Lostine and Wallowa). Then we were out of it again, until Elgin. Up over Tollgate wasn’t bad, with sunshine, but we dropped into pea soup fog near Weston and felt our way along the highway with near-freezing temps in the fog until almost Pendleton. After that, things were clear at road level with heavy cloud cover.

Making the run with the pickup was fun, but it’s definitely not a regular long-drive vehicle, not when we have the Subaru handy. On the other hand, it’s a pretty good little working vehicle.

And now it’s back to writer life, and a lot of other stuff. Time to get the week going.

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December at Farpoint

Winding down after another day at Renovation/Remodeling World, Enterprise Version. Hey, we had mountains this morning, and then the fog moved in. But it was a high fog, and temps warmed above freezing, so with ski base layers and other stuff I could move around freely. We are within striking distance of getting the basement free of dust and stuff (old coal dust….we still have the old Fairbanks-Morse coal stoker in the old coal bin, and pulled out about ten pounds of coal. But still. Coal dust. Must go.).

Tried to write this morning but with the urgency of various errands to run around the County, including a 20 mile drive to Wallowa to pick up insulation, I got maybe about 300 words in. Doesn’t have the flow of the words I lost the other day, but oh well. Words got put down. Then it was drive down to Wallowa in the Dakota to pick up what I thought would be insulation rolls…but turned out to be batts. 30 packages of batts. 4 at a time in the Dakota. Luckily, I was able to figure out a way to keep from having to drive so far so many times and we got all 30 packages to the house. Then, after further Adventures in Basement Cleaning, we met with the contractor for Phase II (floors, porch and more windows). After that, between the two of us, we hoisted those 30 packages to the attic, for further work. Not me doing that, fortunately…just the hubby. But we got an oil delivery done, got the insulation on site, and are now down to mopping the basement. Getting there.

Meanwhile, I keep searching online for more information about that Fairbanks-Morse coal stoker and getting nowhere. It’s definitely a 1920s-1940s thing. Burgundy and cream, and when the tongue of the stoker was buried under junk, we thought it was possibly a Coca Cola cooler. Nope. It would be nice to find out if it’s worth anything, but unless there’s major $$$$$ involved, I’m not pulling it out of that corner now.

Since we don’t have TV service here, we went out to watch the Ducks game (seriously, this is not a place where rabbit ears or anything short of a subscription will get you even basic TV). Good grief, the team I grew up with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is now winning and is #2 in the country. Huh.

And now the publisher drama has escalated. Apparently they are “redefining their image” to be family friendly. Not sure what that means yet. Hoping that means they will be willing to release the fantasy novel that I absolutely don’t think will a.) meet their criteria and b.) is not something I want to revise to meet that criteria. Drama continues. Of course it all comes to a head when I’m out of town and have iffy Internet. Isn’t that the way it works? I can hardly wait to get reliable Internet access here. Right now I’m limited to cell phone connectivity, and that’s iffy. Tonight is an exception because I have access to regular Internet.

Thinking thinky thoughts about where I need to go as an independent writer. Somehow, I have to get past my usual trend of catching the wave just as it’s broken and not earning a good ride because of bad timing. Somehow, I’ve gotta figure out a way to balance family and myself so that I can catch that break at just the right time.

My gut tells me this next year may be crucial. But dear God, what obstacles lie in my way? So freaking tired of freaking obstacles, while watching others seem to glide on through with no problems. When will it be my turn?

Ah well. A brief moment of angst. Sooner or later it will happen…or not, as the case may be. It didn’t happen with horses, much as I wanted it, because I realized what I needed to do far too many years after I had the physical capabilities to do it. The recession and those fucking education reformers exploded my hopes and dreams for making a difference in special education work (my perception is that we’re going to have to fight to regain where we were in the late 90s, pre-No Child Left Behind). Damnit, one of these days I’ve gotta find something that works.

Or maybe not. Maybe I’m doomed to the same curse as my ancestors….coming to the end of my days with nothing more than a small ripple of effect on the world, my stories barely heard, my voice effectively silenced, despite years of raging and fighting and arguing against being silenced. Thirty years ago I was being silenced because I was young and cute and blond. Now…it’s because I’m old and female.

Damn it.

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Ruminations on a busy time

For some reason I seem to be finding myself busier than I was when I went to a part-time job every day. Not making any money, just busier. Well, okay. I guess I sold some books, so that’s income. With any luck I can turn that around in the coming year. The pieces of the teacher brain and teacher paralysis are fading away, finally. I could even go back to teaching next year in the proper situation and be able to bring a renewed energy to it (so maybe all I really did need was a sabbatical…uh, no, given what’s happening in special ed this year). So probably not.

But the contractor stuff for Phase II seems to be happening at last, and I have short stories to write before I can commit novel again. And figuring out promotional stuff, ai yi yi.

I started a perfectly lovely story today with a gender neutral alien and I started using a more systematic version (Spivak–ey, em, eir, etc) than the mix of he and she I used for “Live Free or Die”. Oh, it was a lovely three paragraphs, and a quite excellent piece of work, if I do say so. But then the tablet ate it, and those pixels dispersed into where ever it is that lost files disappear to (yes, I’ve searched out my file structure but the program is Polaris Office and occasionally it does this. It was my bad for swapping screens without saving first, even though I’ve done this times before with no problem. Then I sometimes do have problems…). So I will begin again, but oh, yes, it was a very interesting way to write an alien POV. Won’t work for this particular market, anyway (this is a targeted story), but I will keep this in mind for future reference. Or I may write it this way, anyway, to begin with. We shall see. Or I’ll write two stories.

This weekend is one of the serious house working weekends (unless things are totally borked at the place). Insulation into the attic and the delivery of flooring tile. I looked at highly expensive residential tile before I went to the commercial side and picked up a heavier vinyl tile that will stay cleaner…and cost less (we’re paying someone to do it anyway, so might as well take advantage of their skill to put in a more durable flooring). I can’t stand the look of the peel and stick stuff, and the one color I did like was so lightweight that it would be worn out in a few years. We’ll be picking up the insulation at a town twenty minutes away, and making three trips in the truck. It’s our first long distance drive in the pickup, and there’s going to be some weather going over, so it’s a good thing we’ve got tile to haul to give us a bit of weight. Though the pickup is nicely balanced, so it should be okay. But the seats suck. We’ll probably have to replace the driver’s seat because the previous owner apparently was a lot heavier than either of us, and broke it down. Oh well.

So while hubby will be doing insulation, I’ll be scrubbing walls in the basement, or else begging off to write.

Busy times ahead.

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