November this year brings a crisp morning chill, and the strange feeling that I’m forgetting something. Oh, right…I keep forgetting that I’m supposed to be taking a year off from Nanowrimo. You wouldn’t know it, but I really am taking this year off from the National Novel Writing Month. After fifteen years of participating, my writing clock still kicked in, and I find my fingers twitching for the keyboard. Although I’m not adhering to the Nanowrimo word count, I’ve been sitting down for regular writing session. As soon as the weather turned chilly, and the autumn sunrises took on a golden rosy hue…my internal programming triggered and story just had to happen. I’m not fighting it- I’m just going slow.
Taking it easy this year was a difficult decision. It was a much-needed slowdown and I’m really glad I’m not pushing myself to any breaking points on word count. That being said, with a lighter touch to the content caching I usually do in the month of November, I’ve been able to do some other projects and get caught up on a backlog of to-do items. Not to mention I was also able to spend some time outside, make a trip to Portland to see some of my Alaskan family, and put in some time at the sculpting table.
So, this month’s update is photo heavy. Here’s a gallery of goings on since my last update:
That’s all for the November 2019 mid-month update! See you next month, folks.
Well, it’s been a rough six weeks, but I’m back on my feet. It started out as a cold, then became a bronchial infection then walking pneumonia. Combined with external stressors it totally kicked my arse. Though I was down for the count for a full week of not being able to get out of bed at all, I was able to get some minor survival functions done on either side of that downtime.
Although I’m back up and moving, occasional coughing fits are still expelling demonic sludge from my lower lungs. Gross.
The good news is that I’m back to my regular schedule, and in the process of trying to get caught up on all the things I couldn’t stay on top of for the last month. The catch-up game sucks, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Today is the first day I’ve woken up feeling somewhat refreshed and human. And I can breathe!! I even made it through a shift yesterday without cough suppressant. Huzzah!
Anywhoo, enough about the slag.
While I was down for the count, I had plenty of time to think about my current predicaments. Narrowing survival down to one breath at a time will certainly put some things in perspective. Primarily, I kept wondering why I was trying so hard to fix problems that aren’t really my job to fix, and why I’ve somehow lost my creative perspective yet again.
Damnit all. How do I keep allowing my creative mission to be waylaid by minutia?
So I had a few days of being stuck in bed and grappling with the realization that I need to hand some things over to professionals and step back, then double down on my creative pursuits and get back to my healthy center and self.
What does all that mean?
In a nutshell, a re-org on my creative life, again. I do feel like each time I hit a refurbish and reorg point, I get a little closer to the nirvana of being a fully sustainable creativity engine. This time around I’m leveling up to a new support system. Simply having reached the point that I can no longer be an island of output—I need more of a team.
This is a massive development. A terrifying and big step in a growth direction.
Although I’m not sure what it will look like just yet, the probability of bringing on an intern or an assistant for my publishing and creative works is a real discussion.
Though the assistant conversation is bumping around in the noggin for the moment, there are more urgent needs to resolve first, such as getting fully healthy and back into the winter creative rhythm.
I wasn’t able to sit at my sculpting table very long the last few weeks, but I was able to pull my laptop in bed with me and knock out some work count. Almost fifty pages on the Xabien storyline made me realize the shift in weather is ratcheting up my writing urges. Sixteen years of settling in to bust out word count starting at the Autumn Equinox has developed an almost Pavlovian response to the autumn light change and the need to write feels pressing.
This brings me to a difficult decision: I will not be participating in Nanowrimo this year. It breaks a fifteen-year long streak, but I just don’t think I’m up to the stress and pressure of it this time around.
I’m still able to write and put out volume, but with everything on my plate—I just don’t think my health can take the strain. Too much going on this year.
Instead, I’ll be spending November getting caught up on editing and doing chapter splints on Plague of Gargoyles. I’ll be reading, resting, and getting my health back in line. I will likely still long into Nanowrimo.org and cheer on my peeps – but I won’t be going to write-ins or posting counts. Alas. It does make me a bit sad, but it just is what it is this year.
Since I’m not doing Nano, I did agree to participate one day at the Mooksville Book Festival in Tillamook, Oregon. The book fair is held annually at the Tillamook Museum. I'll be there November 16th, 2019. Stop by! I’ll see you there.
All in all, getting back to full-steam has been slow going, and to be totally honest, I don’t know if I want to be that level of full-steam anymore for a few months anyway. I’d kind of like my health and sanity to be a priority for a while. So, I’m making peace with the reality that this winter might not be as productive as my other winters. This might just be a slow, non-productive hibernation. Then when spring comes, I may need to hire help to level up and launch into a new creative platform. It’s food for thought, and I’ve got a few months to chew on that nugget.
I hope this mid-month update finds you all doing well, and enjoying the seasonal shift!
Summer has blown past like a train that missed the station, but here are some updates about the goings on in my little pocket universe.
Summer is the season I work my ass off at the restaurant so that I can take time off in the winter to write. So usually, there’s not a lot of writing time in the summer weeks. However, I have been burning the midnight hours (and lots of wine) on getting Plague of Gargoyles ready for beta. Somehow with all the mad crush of season, I was able to compile a working V.1. I can’t even express what a relief this is. Sure, it’s the dreck draft, but going into the writing season with a block draft will make this winter so much more productive. Hopefully, Plague of Gargoyles will go out to beta readers in November or December, so I can put Tangle of Mermaids on the V.1 track to beta by summer next year.
With all that being said, I also went a little nutty after a few glasses of wine and began remodeling my character files, and organizing my world notes. There’s something to be said about late nights of drunken casting, sifting through celebrity photos and rebuilding character sheets. So. Much. Fun.
I’m dearly looking forward to sharing my hopeful casting notes with prospective producers. Let’s just hope they understand my wine-laced vision board notes….
The Elder Glade Cottage Stead
Most of June and July were so unseasonably wet and muggy that the growing time for many of the garden plants just never got enough light or heat. The tomatoes are still about the same size as they were eight weeks ago. Other plants molded from the rain and gray. However, the roses loved it.
Mister Lincoln, the rose variety that features heavily in The Pillars of Dawn books, specifically in Murder of Crows, finally bloomed. Three years ago I’d decided to plant several of the roses that grow in Auntie Celeste’s garden, so I could bask in the inspiration that is her special zen. Mister Lincoln was one of the first roses I planted, but each season I was sure I’d killed him. He never really took off…until this year. Suddenly, as everything else was dying under the muggy gray sky, Mister Lincoln shot up five feet and declared one perfect flower, as if to say, “I’m here! Don’t give up on me!”.
And he was so worth the wait. It was like a little hello from Auntie Celeste, a nod and a smile and her voice saying, “Mr. Lincoln sends his regards.”
Also on the list of successful plantings were several quarts of raspberries, a pound of fresh rhubarb, and a mountain of herbs from pineapple sage, to mint, rosemary, and thyme, dill, and fennel. Still to be harvested, dried or frozen. I even managed a small harvest of baby potatoes, before the ducks destroyed the remainder of the plants (will put the potatoes in raised beds next year).
The black Cherokee corn, and the lilies are doing well. And in a week or so I will have the first blooms from a dahlia bulb that was a gift from my neighbor.
So, this mixed bag of summer growing output has been a good learning experience of what I need to alter to create a more vibrant landscape that can weather many climate variables. All the more delicate plants, the peppers, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, and peas all shriveled in the gray damp summer.
The new chicken coop has been framed. All the wood is old or was donated by friends and neighbors. I hope to get it done before the rains, but if not, I’ll be looking to re-home the birds, as I refuse to keep them in the small coop for the winter. That’s just not fair to them. If it comes to that, I’ll start over on a new flock in the spring.
Along with the wood donated for the coop, a friend has donated the lumber for me to create a bridge over the creek. I’m so excited about this! Once the rains come I’m not able to forge the water to the land on the other side, so nothing gets done to the property on the south bank until spring. Hopefully with a bridge, I’ll be able to do some work across the water on nice days in the winter.
All in all, it’s still baby steps, but finally after three years, the land is beginning to feel like it’s establishing itself. There are signs of flourishing, sporadic, and irregular—but there none the less.
Thank you for tuning into the mid-month update. Next month I hope to have photos of the grow site, and news on some upcoming sculpting projects scheduled for winter.
I will also update on the planning for upcoming creativity workshops.
The summer is half over and it doesn’t even feel like it’s begun. The rainy, overcast skies and slow start to the tourist season at the restaurant have been confusing. Much of my garden drowned in the constant rain, and when the sun comes out it’s muggy and damp so some of my shady low plants have developed a rot that slowly turned them gray.
On the bright side of all the rain and damp, the kiwis have gone nuts, and the grapes are loving the water for their second year of root establishment. When they’re at the age to begin fruiting, I don’t know if this much rain will be a good thing, but for now…it’s working.
We had a rare patch of light this week, so I got out with the camera to keep track of the changes. The humidity was insane, but it was lovely to have sunlight. The 13 year old apple tree that never fruited is bent over with an abundance of gala applets. This tree was a decade old when I moved in, and it never flowered in those three years. Last year I built the chicken run along side the fruit trees and piled chicken manure around the bases and root zones. I also tested the manure on one garden box, and one row of raspberries.
As I’d hoped, the apple tree came to life this year with hundreds of blooms, and what looks like it will be a great harvest. The raspberries are abundant, and the one raised bed I fertilized is rich with half a dozen herbs, yet more rhubarb, and new gladiola shoots.
I also had an unfortunate raccoon attack on the chicken coop last month that killed several of my chickens and ducks. This has necessitated a temporary cloistering in the small coop for the remaining animals (which is unfair and gross) and an emergency coop remodel. Because I hate keeping the birds trussed up in such a small space, I do allow them out to free range when I know I’ll be home by dark. The result has meant that the slug population in my garden is like, zilch. Which is awesome. Go ducks! More on the coop remodel soon.
The final update for the cottagestead for July is this: I’ve made a controversial decision this year to let my bee colony go partially feral. This is due to the more aggressive nature of this last hive, and partly due to time management issues for getting in and working the bees regularly. The positive effect of letting them go natural for a season is that they are far stronger and more active than any colony I’ve had before. They’re so heavily populated, maybe even crowded---which means, they will either swarm OR they will be able to easily defend themselves from a yellow-jacket invasion like the ones that killed both my hives late last summer (and more than half of the county’s club hives).
Writing and Publishing
I blogged about my decision to look back into traditional publishing earlier this month. I’m also checking into brand management teams and agencies, as well as talent management. In short, it’s time to do something differently, and I’m putting feelers out in lots of directions for data and feedback.
To be honest, I don’t know what I need for sure. I could easily employ an assistant with the volume of projects queued up for publishing and business management, and if I could use a full time assistant---it’s to the point I need to look into what a team might cost and what benefits that would provide. Is it worth it? I don’t know, but I’m looking at a bunch of ideas and angles I’ve never considered before. Especially now that the cannabis farming and grow model are beginning to merge and overlap with my publishing works…
We are no longer the smallest licensed grow in the state of Oregon! YAY! That being said, we still have lots of work to do. This week we got our scales certified, which was a big step. It was so nice to have an official visitor signed into the log. I’m sure he thought I was being ridiculous…but I was just so excited to have an official sign-in. It’s the little stuff, you know?
We’ll have our logo soon, which will help us feel a bit more legit when talking to folks, especially as we near the first round of product going into flower for harvest. In just a few short months I hope to be announcing our new line of designer boutique recreational cannabis offerings by their unique names and descriptors.
These designer strains will be built into our marketing and branding campaign over three business platforms, including my writing and fantasy worlds. More on that to come. The unlimited potential for introducing cannabis as an entertainment enhancer in the literary world is, well, mind-blowing and exhilarating. I owe much of this enthusiasm and encouragement to my business partners who suggested the crossover potential long before I could see it myself. Now that my creativity is latching onto the concepts and drawing them into my fantasy worlds—there will be smokable adventures on the very near horizon.
Spring brought a few weeks of heat, and a rush of blooms. I was able to get most of the garden planted, and about half of the exterior windows cleaned. More shifts at the restaurant means the beach season is about to get rolling full steam, so I’ll take the hours now so I can write later.
Scold of Jays has been on the market for a month. It was a sneaky release so I didn’t expect much notice. A couple of reviews have come in, but I’m not stressing too much about the low visibility. I’m already planning my winter of writing Plague of Gargoyles.
On an amazing note, my childhood friend, Rob, was inspired by Xabien’s melee and skinning blade, which he then made in real life. Rob’s a brilliant weapon maker and sculptor, and does an assortment of ulus. When he sent me Xabien’s ulu, I opened the box and just stared. This is such a spectacular work of art and craftsmanship that I couldn’t even find words. He just nailed the dragon Ryder King in all his weaponry glory.
I’ll be putting together a photo shoot as soon as I have the chance. More to come with pictures and props. In the meantime, you can see more of Rob’s work here, or visit his site. Yes, he does commissions!
I put my creative boosting sessions on hold this summer while the busy season at the restaurant is going. I hope this will also give me the chance to set up my website registration option for the autumn classes.
The autumn creative session will hopefully have a creativity workbook for students as well. The concepts I’ve been working on in writing my Innovation and Creativity manuscript will be tested on my workshops. So, I need the extra time to hopefully get that workbook laid out and ready for print. If I can’t make it in time for the autumn class, then definitely by winter class.
Stay tuned, new creative workshops are in the September 2019 queue.
The bees are installed and doing well. I’m still feeding them, and have put off cutting my grass and weeds just to have extra flowers available until the apples and blackberries come into full bloom. I’m going for the Wabi-Sabi look in the yard at the moment, which is to say it appears my cottage might be abandoned. Not the case, I assure. Just saving the dandelions and ground cover as long as possible for the bees to have a good head start this year.
Speaking of apple blooms, the trees are definitely beginning their bloom. I’ve been in this house for three springs, and the owner told me he’d planted the apple trees near the road ten years prior. The gala apple had two apples last year, and I never saw it blossom, though it had to have at least two blossoms last year—the tree has not “bloomed” since I’ve been here.
I’d tried fertilizer granules, then spikes, then pruning, and nothing would make the tree go into full bloom. So last summer I placed the chicken run beside the tree in hopes that they would fertilize all through the winter.
The gala apple in in full, massive bloom this year. I had no idea it could bloom so much! It’s beautiful. Even the small apple, the one that tilts, is putting out blooms and opening up. Finally, some food for the bees, and a chance at some apples this year.
I planted some flowers, an herb garden and some veggies. The rhubarb is bigger than my head and ready for early harvest. I just need some strawberries and I’ll have the makings of strawberry rhubarb crisp.
The chickens are thriving. They’re laying three to five eggs a day, and their addition to the garden beds over wintering has allowed for the rich beautiful color of the new shoots and the lush raspberry canes. The roses love it as well. In short, we’re off to a promising start.
All these little bits of mundane life are part of the long-term goal of being sustainable and creative. So, they may seem tedious and boring to many—it’s a huge part of drawing the web tighter to a center that will allow me greater creative freedom and output.
Also, who doesn’t love fresh honey and eggs? And a basket of fresh picked apples and a vase of garden roses?
There are many days when I think, “This was not the plan…” By now I was supposed to be traveling the world, writing at Parisian cafés and having whirlwind romances with beautiful, literate men, and walking through exotic cities, and taking pictures of all the fabulous architecture… not shoveling chicken manure into lopsided garden beds I built myself, and setting mouse traps by the feed bins, then going to work as a waitress.
Then I sit at my writing desk staring out over the creek and into the woods, I smile because I realize, “This is much better than my original plan….” I shrug. “I’ll get to all that other stuff eventually, for now I just want to write, and write, and write. Everything else doesn’t even matter anymore.”
Bliss is a funny thing. It rarely shows up in the packages you expect, and often in the packages you have intentionally avoided.
Scold of Jays appeared on shelves last week with little fanfare. Barely a notice. I’ll admit, by the time the launch date came I was so strapped for energy and cash, I did absolutely nothing to promote, market or celebrate. I was just that worn down. Still, I’m loving the soft launch approach versus the big events and huge energy drains of marketing and such. It’s been really nice to just push the “publish” button and go have a drink at the beach. It’s also been rewarding to see and know that longtime supporters are getting the book first and at the discounted digital rate before the big launch later this summer.
Small victories, I suppose.
In other news my new colony of bees arrives Saturday. I spent the morning yesterday re-positioning the hive bricks, and leveling the new location with sand. I’m not super thrilled about having the hive so close to the deck and rose garden walkway—but last year’s hives were in constant stress due to the other proximities of activity (dust from the road, falling trees, smoke from the burn pile, etc.) There’s just not a better place to keep them safe, so I’ll have to manage this year with the hive in a more protected spot—but closer than I’d like.
We’ll find the happy medium eventually. Still, the boxes have been cleaned, and the foundation leveled. Bees arrive this weekend, just in time for the salmon-berry and apple blossoms.
The garden is showing signs of early life. The raspberries, freshly pruned, are bursting with new leaves, and the blueberries have bright green new growth. The rhubarb is curling out of the winter layer of leaves, and my sprouting trays and cups are quickly outgrowing their nursery beginnings. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt.
The restaurant season is ramping up which means much of my writing and creativity work will be put on the third burner until autumn. I’ll be in summer season of tourism and working the grow site so my winter world of publishing will go dormant for a while. This always makes me a little sad, but there’s some relief in knowing I work hard during this season so I can afford to shut everything else down and focus solely on writing and creativity through the autumn and winter. It’s a trade off. It’s currently my only way to support the artist lifestyle—so forgive me if I’m less available than usual during the “make hay” months.
In all, I’m still in recovery from the last book and launch. I’m still struggling with a little bit of burnout and the need to transition the way I’m interacting with my daily events. More specifically, how much I’m investing in jobs and habits that don’t return in expectation or investment. It’s a work in progress.
In final news, I’ll mention again that I’ll be closing my Patreon account down next month. I just don’t want anyone to be surprised when it goes offline. It was a difficult choice, because I’ve really enjoyed being able to interact with supporters and patrons, and be connected. I’ll be working on a new supporter option with subscription-based patron tiers, and a portal for contact and interaction through my website. Hopefully this rotation won’t take too long, but it is entirely at the whim of access to the internet and time to sit and build out the site. In short, I’m closing the door on one method of interacting, and opening another soon.
Here’s to spring and the preparation for summer. Next time I check in, I’ll be knee-deep in gardening soil and hopefully recovered from the launch burnout.
Happy Spring, everyone!