Category Archives: year end review

Welcome 2021…and 2020 writing metrics

2020 tried to go out like it came in, with me dealing with a gut bug. Fortunately, unlike the bug that made the 2019-2020 transition miserable, this one was easily tossed back, but I was still pretty tired out. Today, it’s all about allergies acting up. No idea what is going on unless the ol’ bod is taking me through a retrospective tour of the Bugs of 2020.

Meanwhile, I finished the last preliminary edits of The Heritage of Michael Martiniere. Now it’s waiting for the editor’s comments. When I finished this pass of Heritage on the 30th, that was pretty much it for the world of the Martinieres. I know it is now because it just feels different. Instead of Ruby, Gabe, and Mike haunting me, the characters from the next set of books (which will be set in the Goddess’s Honor world) started speaking up. Oh sure, I could write more about the Martinieres and I might just do that in the future. But for now, that world is done, save for the final touches on Heritage. It’s been productive.

I didn’t keep details of the exact number of words I wrote in 2020, but it’s easy enough to figure out by looking at the books.

Each volume of the Legacy came out at around 90,000 words each, so roughly 180,000 words on the base Martiniere Legacy story.

Heritage is right around 114,000 words.

First Meetings, That Martiniere Look, First Christmas Together, and A Belated Christmas Honeymoon add about 20,000 words to the total, maybe a little more. Add in another 6,000 word Martiniere story out on submission and that’s 26,000 words of Martiniere short stories.

Overall, that’s roughly 294,000 words of novel.

26,000 words of short stories.

Roughly 320,000 words in all. Perhaps another 10,000 in stories that got started but dropped, or were story sketches.

Eh, so I guess I’ll claim roughly 330,000 words written this year, not counting the blogging. I would say that speaks of a productive year. Then again, except for two trips to Portland and RadCon, I didn’t go anywhere.

I published Judgment of Honor, Inheritance, Ascendant, and Realization this year. No short story releases that I can remember.

This was the year I also decided to step off of the short story treadmill after realizing this summer that I could either be a short story writer vying to get my work published by others, or else I could focus on novels and promotion of novels. I simply lack the energy to do both at age sixty-three. The Martiniere books are some of the best I’ve written, and I think it is because I just threw the short story stuff out the door instead of trying to juggle books and short stories. That said, the Martiniere short stories also rank amongst some of the better shorts I’ve written, at least in my opinion (especially That Martiniere Look and First Christmas Together).

One of the reasons for stepping off of the short story treadmill is that it’s a numbers game. In order to be selling regularly, one has to have something like 15-20 stories written and circulating. My best sales happened when I had that much inventory. Just like having an extensive back catalog helps with selling books, having a lot of shorts available makes sales much more likely. I’d fallen off of writing short stories and had something like nine in circulation.

I looked at the numbers and decided that I’d much rather focus on novel series, and working on short stories tied to the books. For one thing, writing a short story outtake is really helpful when I’m trying to figure out some character dynamics. For another, short stories tied to a series sell books. They serve as an easy introduction to the characters and the series with less investment.

What am I going to do with the unpublished short stories I still have in inventory? Well, some may just molder in the trunk. Others may end up being self-published (for example, Moving On, a climate change dystopian story told in letters). Still others may be fleshed out in more detail or revised as needed. And if I see an appropriate anthology call, I’ll pull them out.

Making that decision was actually a bit of a relief, really.

So what lies ahead? Well, besides finishing off Heritage edits and production work, I’m going to revise the first two books of The Netwalk Sequence. Both Netwalk and Netwalker Uprising are not up to current formatting standards, and I find them difficult to read as a result. Plus there’s a bit of revision needed for series continuity and tech updates. Those two reflect the reality that one is ten years old and the other not much younger. Additionally, I have three separate cover artists in that series and it just doesn’t work. They’ll be the Author Preferred 2021 Series and I plan to rerelease them in September.

The new writing will be a trilogy set in the Goddess’s Honor world. I already knew this was going to be a thing because while I’d finished the series arc, there were still storytelling situations left in that world. The new series is going to pick up those threads. Witmara has to wrestle with all the problems that Chatain left her in Daran. Her mother Katerin ends up leading the coalition of nations that make up the Free Nations of Varen–and has to deal with the Divine Confederation and the Outcast God to the East. She appoints Heinmyets to be Varen’s ambassador to Daran. Betsona helps Witmara, then is attracted to Heinmyets–and discovers a new source of strength. Meanwhile, Rekaré is learning how to be a Goddess.

But there’s also some tiny bits of discovery, such as the Headwoman of Wickmasa, Imnari, being much, much more than she first appeared to be. Oh yessss, this world is starting to talk to me again. Worldbuilding starts in earnest soon.

Meanwhile, I’ve also decided that I need to develop more visibility this year. To that end I’m going to try to be more active on Substack, Instagram, Goodreads, and yes, Twitter. I took a couple of Jane Friedman classes on platform and social media, and they pretty much confirmed what I’ve been doing so far and where I need to go next. I have the two papers I wrote on the early development of the New Christian Right back in 1980-81 that I’m going to put up on Substack, and will probably summarize a bunch of my files of right-wing movements in the Portland area during the late 80s-90s over there as well. Substack is probably where most of my political writing will end up, as well as my professional writing work.

I have a crapton of photos that will probably start going up on Instagram. Mostly landscapes and wildlife, but they’re connected to my various writing worlds.

I need to figure out how to link this blog to Goodreads so that it automatically crossposts, just like it does to my Amazon Central page.

I actually worked out a schedule and everything yesterday–a general schedule. This next week is going to be all about plotting out the specifics now that I have the general framework set up.

Not that many years left. I need to kick out the jams and make whatever splash I can–and 2021 needs to be that damn turnaround year.

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Well. That was 2018.

This is going to be one of those yearly summary posts–some good, some bad, some whatever. 2018 has been another one of Those Years. You know, the sort where you’re flailing about at everything, trying to get things going and stuff just keeps happening…and happening…and happening. I made some book sales, found some cool new fans as well as kept up contacts with old fans, did stuff with the horse, and etc.

Not that it’s been a particularly bad year…it’s just been one of Those Years. Crappy moments and shining moments, all wrapped up together.

Part of the reason (besides politics which is absolutely horrific, horrible, crappy, ick, and I’m totally back in fretting about apocalyptic scenarios–well hey! I’m writing an apocalyptic book right now and the next fantasy book will also be apocalyptic in tone so I’m right on track here!) is that I think I really started kind of feeling my age this year. The area that has suffered the most has been this blog. Writing-wise, I’ve been chugging along, though not as faithfully as I would like. I think the sales of Pledges of Honor are finally slowing down…but I’m not going to gripe, because it has been selling steadily over the past three years, ever since I published it back in 2015. Sales still occasionally pop up for the Netwalk Sequence series, though no one really seems to go too far with it. I…have plans to do something about that.

Pledges did earn itself a Semifinalist position in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. I had hopes for higher, but c’est la vie. A review is supposed to come out for it next week from one of the reviewers.

So let’s look at Joyce’s Year in Writing, Horses, and Health.


I published two books and edited an anthology, for starters.

Challenges of Honor, the second book in the Goddess’s Honor series, came out in the spring. It hasn’t sold as well as the first book, but you know, things can change.

Blurb and linkage for Amazon here.

Linkage for Books2Read here. (Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc)

Klone’s Stronghold, a contemporary fantasy featuring a mix of supernaturals, cryptids, and family issues in the isolated Bucket Mountains of NE Oregon, came out in the summer. It’s not done as well as I had hoped; nonetheless I’ve got some ideas for a sequel to it.

Blurb and linkage for Amazon here.

Linkage for Books2Read (Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc) here.

I’m currently working on a rewrite of a previously published novella, Seeking Shelter at the End of the World. The new title is Beating the Apocalypse. It’s not going to look much like the original. I’ve added two viewpoint characters, eliminated at least one and maybe two deaths in the course of the book (though I do kill others), am at about 20k additional words, and am making it a MUCH more complex book.

I also edited a themed anthology, Pulling Up Stakes, (includes my Oregon Country story “To Plant or Pull Up Stakes”) and am working on a second one, Whimsical Beasts (which will include my story “The Wisdom of Robins”).

Pulling Up Stakes Amazon details here.

Short stories also happened this year. I wrote the following Goddess’s Honor tie-in shorts:

Return to Wickmasa (post-Pledges of Honor) B2R (includes Amazon), Cleaning House (post Challenges of Honor) B2R (includes Amazon), and Unexpected Alliances, B2R (includes Amazon). I’ve decided not to mess with loading short stories directly to Kindle but will load them into Kindle via Draft2Digital.

I wrote Going Gently for the Netwalk Sequence universe. B2R (includes Amazon).

“The Cow at the End of the World” came out in Well, It’s Your Cow, edited by Frog Jones. Amazon.

I have two new stories in circulation (“A Quilter’s Stellar Sandwich” and “My Woman Left Me, My Dog Hates Me, and There Goes My Truck”). I’m also marketing a novella, Bearing Witness, which is a weird alt-Western set in a universe I’m now calling the Vortex Worlds. I was originally going to self-publish it but decided to try my luck with the trad pub market so far. I’m underwhelmed, so it may go on the publishing schedule this spring.

Then I started playing around with Medium. I’m not very diligent about posting essays there yet, but I do have a few up. I’m also toying with writing a poem a week and posting it on a separate blog page. I plan to switch hosts in this coming year, and have temporarily set up a site on I’ll be transferring the whole domain at some point here. Just works better for me than what I’ve been doing.


Mocha turned 18 this year, and is fully a mature, opinionated mare. But we achieved a bucket list goal by winning a show series buckle in the local show series in the Ranch Horse division. So I now sport a genuine, honestly-won, silver belt buckle.

She was pastured up by the east moraine of Wallowa Lake this summer, so we spent some time riding the moraine and doing Real Trail Horse stuff. She loves it. One day she was edgy and energetic so I sent her straight up the side of the moraine (actually a fairly steep climb), with plans to sidehill it if she encountered problems. She didn’t.

She went into the winter looking the best I’ve seen her in a long time, her back completely filled out around the spine and minimal sign of rib. Nonetheless, she’s getting up there in years so I’m not pushing her. She’s let me know that she really, really likes the idea of gaming as opposed to rail classes but OKAY WE WILL DEAL WITH STUPID RAIL STUFF IF THERE’S GAMING (keyhole and barrels are her favorites). As long as she enjoys the notion of “turn and burn” we’ll keep doing it. We did our first winter lope under saddle a couple of days ago (it’s been a not-so-good winter for riding outside) and she was full of energy, ready to go, and everything you want to feel with a mature horse living outside 24/7.

Health and Other Stuff:

This is the year that the teaching stuff has pretty much gone away. I substitute occasionally, and will be teaching a writing class in February, but otherwise–my long-term substitute gig abruptly ended at the end of the semester in January, and I’ve not been actively drumming up anything other than writing coaching business. I think it’s time to move away from K-12 teaching–I’m ready.

This year I feel like I’m really starting to get with it in quilting. I’ve made two small quilts and a bigger one as well as several small wall hangings. I think I will start working toward art quilt wall hangings for the science fiction and fantasy market. Other craft work is “meh”. I do have a few fans of my jewelry but not enough to put much energy into it outside of the occasional bazaar. Well…I might start trying the science fiction art show circuit again.

Health-wise, I had a real wakeup call in the fall of 2017 when I had problems hiking because my hips were too tight and I had issues. Plus I was having leg spasms bad enough that I could watch them go in waves down my right leg at their worst. Things were not good. I hurt a lot. Not the earth-shaking, major pain-killer pain, but that dragging soft-tissue coupled with arthritic pain that no traditional doctor takes seriously in a woman, especially if you can’t/won’t handle muscle-relaxants for the soft tissue stuff. And then there was the persistent shoulder issues.

Then I discovered a shiatsu massage pillow. That led to acupuncture and chiropractic work in addition to my regular massages because I realized part of the relief I was feeling came from adhesions getting broken loose. I also got smart about living in the world of ice/snow and bought hiking sticks and Yaktrak shoe chains to reduce the risk of falling (still happens but not as much). I started using a neck pillow for any drives over two hours. Additionally, I started using CBD and THC topicals, as well as oral CBD. Things aren’t perfect, but I can move again. There’s one troublesome spot in my right hip which has plagued me for thirty-eight-some years, thanks to a fall while jogging, but it’s much improved from what it’s been over the last ten years. What’s even more encouraging is that I have the urge to move again. I want to work out. My muscles are tight on a three-day cycle, but it is absolutely not the same sort of thing as I was experiencing before.

I’ve also gone back to using moisturizer and makeup. Part of it is that I have an excellent source of mineral-based makeup here in Enterprise–Wild Carrot Herbals has their company store here (as well as their warehouse/manufacturing headquarters) and they carry a nice line of makeup. I went back to my favorite Elizabeth Arden Ceramide-based moisturizers and foundation. It really does make a difference, and the moisturizer holds up to a lot of winter weather. I do need to find something different for hot summer days, though….

In any case, it’s been a year. I’m hoping to be more energized in 2019–if anything, that’s my goal for the year ahead. I want to advance my writing, perhaps expand my craft work into art shows, and otherwise.

I’ll probably put up another post about 2019 goals tomorrow. We’ll see.


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2017…was a year. Summary and publication notes

Well. That was 2017. Not as nasty a year as I dreaded it could become, but still fugly in many ways. One of the big dramas happened when my old email address abruptly died due to…oh, there are different stories, but the shortest version is that the previous ISP owner died. The new owner mucked things up and continues to muck things up. The [email protected] address is no longer valid. It’s sad because I had that email address since the mid-90s, and I’m still updating. Fortunately, email was the only thing I did with SpiritOne and I had been contemplating moving on to cut expenses, but dreaded the work involved. My hand was forced. But still…sigh.

One of the bright spots of the year was Mocha’s continuing to become healthier and stronger. As near as we can tell, she is now pain-free and has filled out/muscled up along her topline and butt. Early in June I realized that she was in sufficiently good enough condition to take to the local show, and so we went. Didn’t earn any blue ribbons but we weren’t last in most of our classes. She spent part of the summer being Auntie to two young fillies (whose dams were very, very happy to have a babysitter in the pasture with them) and one of those fillies is still pretty attached to her now. Our road rides extended from 3-5 miles to 5-9 miles, depending on the day and route. Flying changes started becoming possible again this fall, along with light collection. I felt the strength coming back and you know, that’s pretty darn cool. Moving her to Wallowa County was the best thing we could have done for her. She is now a happy herd horse, outside 24/7, going into her 18th year.

Teaching–well, I’m still doing the long-term sub online gig, and substituting occasionally.

Writing. Sigh. I started the year with ambitious plans, but for various reasons including the general nastiness of the political climate, the summer heat just doing a number on me, and other things, did not achieve many of my goals. On the other hand, sales of the various parts of the Goddess’s Honor series continue to sell. Even more encouraging, I’m discovering that apparently people are picking up one of the short stories–Birth of Sorrow, The Goddess’s Choice, Exile’s Honor–and then going to pick up Pledges of Honor, Beyond Honor, or both. Overall, my writing income was higher than it has been. That said, it was still in three figures…..

Another reason I struggled with writing this year was a choice this summer to work on two books simultaneously. That worked for only a short time. Then I started having problems, including hitting the wall and burning out. The other challenge was that, frankly, I’d forgotten that writing a full-length Goddess’s Honor novel takes longer than writing a full-length Netwalk Sequence novel. I wrote two full-length Netwalk Sequence books after Pledges, and both those books and the shorter Beyond Honor in Goddess’s Honor took much less time to compose and publish. Fantasy just takes longer than thriller sf, both in writing and in the pacing. Still, the rough draft of Challenges of Honor is complete and I hope to have it out by April or May of 2018.

The Netwalk Sequence series is complete with the publication of Netwalking Space and Learning in Space, except perhaps for some short pieces I might come up with that are tied into the series. I will be releasing a new version of Netwalk’s Children because I have a lovely new cover for it and perhaps that will make it more appealing.

All the same, when I look at what I’ve accomplished this year…well, okay, it’s not too shabby.

Books published:

Netwalking Space

Shadow Harvest (new cover, blurb, targeted toward Western Science Fiction with the blurb of “A ranch war in the future…” because it IS a classic Western ranch war story)

Learning in Space: Bess and Alex (compilation of the Bess and Alex stories, all three which earned various levels of contest placements).

Short stories published by others:

“Teacher of Dragons” in Steam. And Dragons, edited by Leah Cutter

“Meeting with Dragons” in Steam. And Dragons, as “Lena Myrtle,” edited by Leah Cutter.

“The Notice” in Children of a Different Sky, edited by Alma Alexander.

Short stories published:

Breakthrough: A Transformational Urban Fantasy Short Story (republication of a short story previously published).

Exile’s Honor (Goddess’s Honor short story)

Inconvenient Truths (Netwalk Sequence short story)

Slow Dancing in 3/4 Zombie Time: A Post Apocalypse Survival Short Story (republication of a short story previously published)

I’m hoping to get much more done in 2018.

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2016 in summary–writing, day jobbe, horse stuff, garden

2016 was a rough year. Good things happened, but several tough things that are still working themselves out also happened, personally and politically. The son got sick and we are still working through all that stuff (deep sigh), including things that are really difficult, and 2017 is going to be a pivotal year there. The Trump election brought us back to 1980 and the Reagan Revolution, and while I can see where this might bring about some changes that will upend what 1980 brought, that’s a long-term view that overlooks the very real suffering that is going to happen to far too many people in the short term. If the idiocy that seems to be taking over internationally doesn’t lead us all into a really awful war, that is. Sometimes I think I’m watching the real life development of aspects of my Netwalk Sequence series. That’s a scary thing for a writer to contemplate, but Netwalk has always been a series that anticipates the future we’re heading into. Except for the Gizmo, that is. If we get a malevolent piece of alien technology attacking cities, then I’ll REALLY get worried.

But…on the positive side, this was the year that I sold the most books ever. Pledges of Honor has sold around 100 copies, both ebook and in hard copy, since its release in December of 2015. I’ve spent under $50 in promoting it, and got it out on some review sites. I didn’t do a lot of publicity with it and I wonder what would have happened with more. I released a novella prequel to Pledges, Beyond Honor, that has sold about 20 copies. Not surprising as it’s not as compelling a story, plus it is part of the process of ramping up to write the next book in the series, Challenges to Honor. Two short stories in the Goddess’s Honor series, Birth of Sorrow and The Goddess’s Choice, are selling in bits and pieces. This makes me happy that I took the rights back from eTreasures publishing, and has me making raspberries at those publishers who did reject the book before eTreasures. If little ol’ indie me could make these sales on my own without a lot of publicity, then what could have happened with publisher support? Oh well, no publisher is getting their hands on this one until the series is complete. Then I might talk.

The Netwalk Sequence series has been disappointing in sales this year. I released Netwalk’s Children in November 2015 and it went nowhere. Because I wanted to finish the series, I went ahead and wrote Netwalking Space, and it is on track for a late January/February release. That wraps up the series as I can’t afford to spend any more time writing Netwalk’s Descendants with that poor a return on Children, and I’ve made Space as standalone as I can. I did get the amazing David Rivet back to do this final cover, which thrills me to no end. It feels strange to not be thinking about what’s next in Netwalk, but such is the way of things. There will be a far future sequel but that is at least a year off, because I have other projects I want to develop. I will also reissue three novelettes in the Sequence in an omnibus edition sometime this year. Maybe I’ll write the rest of the Disruption Chronicles subseries short stories, but it’s unlikely at this time, unless Space really takes off.


I did also have short stories come out this year. I have one story, “Glorianna,” in the NIWA anthology, Artifact, available here. I also have a story, “Tricksters, Horses, and Beer,” in How Beer Saved the World 2. My short story “Witch Trails” came out in Allegory and is available here.

I’ve already got a couple of pieces in the upcoming Campcon anthology, Steam. And Dragons, which will have preorders available in February and be on sale in March. One is with a pseudonym I’m going to play with a little bit. I’m also hoping for some other sales of the short stories I have on hand and are circulating, but not holding my breath. As the sales of “Witch Trails” and “Glorianna” show, it seems like my short stories need to age for about ten years before they find a home if I’m selling them cold, with no links to the publisher.

I have yet to sit down and draft my writing plan for the year yet, but tentatively, I’m going to be releasing the sequel to Pledges of Honor, Challenges to Honor, this year. I have a side project that I plan to develop and send out to select small press publishers before publishing it myself. I also have loose notes and a running start at a Weird West novella, Bearing Witness and notes on an alternate history Weird West featuring the Pacific Northwest becoming its own country in the 1820s-1840s (maybe later), with an alliance of former fur trappers and Native peoples against the British, US, and Spanish. There’s also a rodeo-themed far future space opera with lizard aliens, Converted horses, and duels between human riders and sentient horses that are threatened by the rise of a plasmoid-based species seeking to take over the Universe. I’m thinking that this year I am going to sit down with these projects and create packets for each that resemble submission query packets–that is, full synopses, worldbuilding, and perhaps even the first three chapters–so that I can just pull up a project and get to work on it. Given that the amount of snow and cold this winter is bringing is going to limit my horseback time, and given that I still can’t wrench my ski boots on over my bum ankle, I’ve got plenty of time to get things together.

Moving on from the writing, 2016 brought me back into regular teaching. I got a call from my old district to come back and do special education academic eligibility testing, and that also led to my current online gig teaching online PE and Health (cue jokes). I also renewed my license for five more years, and have substituted here in Enterprise. I’d still like to find a sped consulting gig, but Portland is full of people like me, and there’s not much of a call for it here in NE Oregon that I can see so far. Still, I’m happy to have my hand back in the game at this level. I don’t know that I would want to be back in the classroom full time again, but we’ll see.

I also may have found my bazaar home in Enterprise. I spent two weekends at the Jingle through Joseph bazaar and did reasonably well, all things considered. I am easing back into doing crafts and arts for sale, including jewelry. I’m making further plans for connections in that world.

This was also the year that Mocha got healthy and made the transition to being a ranch horse. She still does the occasional goofy stuff like jumping into an ice-covered creek thinking it was solid, but for the most part she has adapted to being part of a herd on pasture and seems to prefer that to being penned or stalled, even in the coldest subzero weather. I spent the summer turning her into a steady road horse, and by fall, we were doing seven mile rides on a loose rein. She showed signs of lameness whenever I’d ride her in the arena, but if I rode her in the field or on the road, she was sound. By the end of fall, before the first snowfall, however, she was ready to go back into the arena and work. We did get out on a couple of trail rides and that is going to be our next year’s priority.

The garden in Clatskanie really took off this year. We are still harvesting carrots and beets from it, still have some winter squash, had potatoes that lasted through December, lots of dried and frozen peppers, and cabbage in storage. We’ve frozen corn and carrots, and I made both zucchini and corn relish. The Gravenstein in Portland produced a bumper crop and we made applesauce plus froze apples for cooking. It’s hard to get used to needing to buy some veggies now!

Enough blathering. I have a horse to see and plans to write.

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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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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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Looking back at 2013

I’m lagging a bit behind other folks this year in looking at what’s been going on in 2013, and, well, I guess that’s just the way things are these days.

So. 2013. A lot of stuff happened in 2013.

Professionally, I continue to see what it takes to recover in a school setting after several years of poor management. It takes a long time for a school community to renew itself after these circumstances, but it can happen. I took some interesting literacy classes focusing on the work of a major theorist in the field (Regie Routman) and found further support for the integration of neuroscience and education. Primarily, such linkages don’t come from “brain-based learning” techniques but through right brain resonances between teacher-student and student-student. I’ve also come to the conclusion that a certain degree of grammar understanding is key to developing higher level comprehension skills.

I’ve also developed a passionate dislike for high-stakes assessment and what prioritizing that does to a community of learners. Make no mistake, I think a single assessment and standards are necessary. But prioritizing tests and test-taking as the highest priority to the exclusion of the acquisition of other, necessary learning crashes and burns horribly. We are losing huge chunks of kids as a result of this test-driven culture. And that’s a rant in and of itself.

On the writing front, I’ve had some mixed successes. Several anthologies I’ve been in are doing reasonably well. I sold two books, a full length novel and a novella, to a small press. I brought out two independently published books and am working on more in that series. But I’ve not had the time to more aggressively pursue writing to the degree I want to do it. Emotions around the day jobbe, the fatigue of not only the day jobbe but the commute (80+ miles round trip each day) and the inability to keep on burning the candle at both ends have all interfered.

Mocha did spectacularly well (in my opinion) at this year’s show in September. She placed well and showed that she is particularly strong in Trail classes. Right now, though, she’s sidelined with a mild lameness that is tied into neck and shoulder muscle spasms. Light work seems to be helping, along with some massage techniques.

Skiing–um, well, no snow so far this year. I’m not enthused about skiing in low snow conditions and so the snow dances continue.

Personally–well, we’re looking at some huge changes ahead. Good changes, but scary, dramatic, and they’ve involved a lot of planning and worrying and agonizing. More on that later.

At least I seem to be reasonably healthy at the moment. It took most of the year to regain my flexibility from a hip muscle strain. My gut is still cranky but it’s settling, enough to give me hope that these upcoming changes will make it even happier. It’s amazing what ten minutes of yoga a day will do. My knees are making creaky and stiff noises at me, but I’m beginning to think that’s a sign that one particular pair of shoes have reached the end of their useful life, or else that I need to do something different for urban sidewalk hikes.

And so I march slowly into 2014, cautiously hoping that good things are coming. Just not sure about that.

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Farewell 2012, welcome 2013

2012 was a very tough year in many ways.  We got clobbered by a lot of medical stuff and I got to know Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital faaaar too well.  But we also lost a dear friend, and other friends died, and bad stuff kept on happening to people, and, and, and….

Yeah.  On the good side, I got a new principal at school and that is working well.  Downside is that I am also now aware that I am tired of commuting the distance I do for the small amount of hours that I officially work.  That issue got obscured by poor administration the past few years, and it’s really only been this year that I’ve been able to confirm this feeling.  This is not news to the union or my superiors, I’ve been pretty honest with them about it.  On the good side, for the first time in years, I feel like I have an administrator that I can collaborate with, work with, and actually talk about effective teaching strategies.  I have ideas that kind of excite me…but I’m also wiped out.  I have to fight technology to do some of the things I want to do.  But….

Meanwhile, the writing work has gone nowhere in 2012.  Some of that was due to spending too damn much time in rewrites, but rewrites got slowed down by a sequence of nasty life rolls.  On the other hand, the River anthology is up for an Epic Award, so hey, coolness!  Nonetheless, 2013 is going to be about a resumption of The Discipline.  I am going to finish the Netwalk Sequence then, and move on to other work.  Pledges of Honor is going to go into aggressive marketing mode.  And I am going to write three new stories in rough draft before I go back to working on novel stuff.  I have all three of these stories roughly sketched out; it’s time to write them.

Mocha did well this year with no significant lameness spells.  I appear to be hitting on the right balance of work, juju and schooling to keep her going.  But we shall see.  I’d like to do at least one show with her this coming year, and do better at reining.  I want to get her comfortable with countercanter and into reliable tempi changes, as well as half-pass at the canter.  It’d also be nice if we could manage some trail rides…

I slacked off too much on physical conditioning this year.  Some of this is due to a protracted spell of back muscle pain which has affected some things I do…other parts are just due to the fact that I hurt all over.  I’m planning to start addressing this through acupuncture and taking some Pilates classes this winter (both already scheduled).I’m also going to get my boot liners checked to make sure I haven’t packed them all in–I’ve got 150-200 runs or so in on them.  Probably time to redo them.  I also need to lose 10 pounds that I appear to have gained over the past year.

So.  For 2013, I need to find a new job that’s closer to home.  That could take a while but I’m determined to do it.

I am going to continue with a consistent schooling program with Mocha.

I’m also going to stay on top of conditioning this year.

When it comes to writing, I’m going to reestablish keeping accountability metrics such as word counts going.  I think I need that to keep me honest and writing.  In fact, when I finish this post, I’m off to Excel to set it up.

I’ve set up a fairly ambitious writing and publishing plan for this year, involving republishing some old nonfiction work from the 90s, indie publishing a quirky novella, publishing the rest of the Netwalk Sequence, and writing entirely new short stories and maybe even a novel.  I want to pursue indie publishing and traditional publishing simultaneously, with the indie being for my quirkier stuff that’s harder to market and sell.  But I still plan to keep on working the traditional publishing side of things as well, because hey, one never knows when the lightning will strike but it won’t strike if you aren’t out there.

Day job is a harder call.  I’m spread way too thin.  As it is, I know the next few months will be horrific and difficult.  I don’t see any way around it.  IEP and eligibility schedules are pretty much cast in stone.  I also have to keep on learning a new curriculum and program, and that’s a challenge.  At least one day in the week ahead of me is going to be spent preparing for the teaching side of my job, so the special ed case manager can spend all her time doing her paperwork and testing and scheduling for the next two months and….oh dear god, I still have papers to grade.  Sigh.  But on the other hand, I want to play with new technologies and acquire the skills to work with people over Skype–did a little bit of this in tutoring this fall and I liked it.  I also want to eventually get to the point where I can run PowerPoint-based intros to the classes for the day and get the kids rolling that way.  As my current setup is structured, I’m not in a good position for an entry task in my Social Studies and I really do miss it.  Gotta figure out how to get it in (for nonteachers, the entry task is something you train the students to automatically start work on the minute they get into the classroom.  It can be writing something, it can be a math problem…whatever it is, it creates the expectation of getting to work immediately while giving you time to set up, take roll, deal with stragglers, etc).  I have entry routines for the two classes in my own classroom.  But the class I share with another teacher, where I come in as she finishes, and the kids stay in the room…I haven’t gotten an entry task to work yet.  Still figuring it out).

I guess that with the day job, my priority is going to be to remain sane and balanced.  And be looking for something to reduce the commute distance.

I do want to finish off the Interpersonal Neurobiology certificate program.  But right now that has to take a back burner to day job  re-inventing and the writing career.  Winter term is just too crazy.  But will there ever be a time when that isn’t the case?

Miscellaneous stuff–I want to start doing handwork again, whether it is embroidery or jewelry.  I need to read more (as a result, I’m now posting stuff on Goodreads as I finish reading a book).  I need to watch more movies.  More, more, more.

Oh well.  2012 is almost over here in PDX, and it’s about time to sign off, enjoy my candles and woodstove, and crack open the bubbly.  I plan to greet the New Year’s by spinning my lighted poi in the front yard.  Maybe there’ll be snowflakes as well.

Happy New Year, everyone.  May 2013 be wonderful.

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The dreaded year-end review

2011 was definitely the year of ups and downs.  Ups and downs throughout my life and career, ups and downs that are still reverberating through my days.

The down part is definitely the Day Jobbe.  Not a lot of details for public consumption, just that there’s a lot not going the way it should there, and it could get worse.  On the other hand, eight years in one place is a good thing and perhaps it is time to move on and do something new.  The next three months should (I hope!) tell the tale.

Mocha spent a good portion of the year being off in her right shoulder, off and on until the very end of the year when she started stabilizing.  Good pieces from that part of the life is that she’s moving better, more effectively, and we’re able to do a heck of a lot more than I thought we could.  Show plans may very definitely lie ahead of us for the summer and fall.

2011 was a very good writing year.  I sold six short stories, two of which will be coming out soon and one which is due to be reprinted in a collection featuring the “Monthly Bests” from that publisher’s magazines.  I also sold a political essay with a picture.  Additionally, Netwalk is now live as an indie-published e-book and more stories in the sequence will be coming up soon.  I have three short stories unrelated to The Netwalk Sequence to get written and sent out, plus at least one novella and probably more Netwalk Sequence pieces to put up.  We’ll see where all this takes me.

Personal life is good, health is decent (but with one cloud hanging over me right now).  DH and I went to a lot of music shows this year and ended out the year in San Francisco at the Furthur show.  The New Year’s Eve show was quite the spectacle, climaxing with a huge dragon cruising around the venue.  Good stuff.

2012 looks to be a year of changes.  Here’s hoping they’re all good ones.

No resolutions, save to maintain my current weight, advance in my writing career, and find some new way to tweak/maximize/expand my special ed teaching career.   Oh, and have horse ready to show.

That should keep me busy.

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