In Which I Tell You I’m About to Disappear – #10Thankful

This is going to be tremendously short.

First, let me say that I most definitely do not enjoy writing my TToT posts on Sunday evenings. If I’m here on a Sunday evening with fingers to keys, it means either A) I had a hard time figuring out what to put on my list, B) I was out doing stuff all weekend and never saw my desk or keyboard, or C) I plain old just didn’t get to it.

Whichever answer is true – and this week it’s B – I still don’t enjoy the Sunday night write because it just feels so forced and deadline-ish.

But. I’m doing it still.

The tremendously short version of my list of thankfuls is that we’ve had a wonderful weekend enjoying the completely not-fall-like weather (mid 70s the last two days – bizarre) and taking a little weekend getaway that we love. Fun. So I’m thankful we were able to do that.

I’m thankful the port-a-johns at the farm where we visited a fall festival today were unbelievably clean. I kid you not. And I’m glad we got to enjoy a  nice very not-crowded afternoon with Zilla and a cousin at said fall festival. They had a good time.

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I’m tired as can be, but I’m glad for that, too, because it means my body can get up and move around fairly well and my muscles got used in good ways. I’m also pretty thankful for a little ibuprofen and some tea and a comfy bed on which to put up my feet and recover.

I’m pretty thankful that no one in this TToT crew is going to mind that this is short (although is it really at this point?) and haphazard because hey, whatever you do is fine and this crew does not judge.

Finally – this is the thankful where I finally get around to explaining my – I’m thankful to have a (sort-of) plan that may help me reach some of my personal and professional goals. I’m about to kind of disappear for the next month. See, I’ve decided to go ahead and give NaNoWriMo a try again. Last year I put a project in the system and got exactly nowhere. This year I have three projects in the works that I want to make significant progress with and so I’m doing it. I have all sorts of reservations about NaNoWriMo – the obligation versus desire factor where writing is concerned, the actual quality of anything banged out in a 30-day mad dash, the realistic potential to sit and write that volume every single day… But you know what? I need these three things out of my head and in any form of semi-half-baked completedness on screen and page.

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So this space may remain empty many days. It is my hope to continue posting semi-regularly. I may not get around to read or comment or share at anyone else’s page for a few weeks. It is my hope that I will because I love reading all of you. My house probably won’t get cleaned very often if I’m writing that intensely. It is my hope…. Pfft. Who’s kidding whom? I wasn’t going to clean anyway.

I may or may not “succeed” in producing anything for NaNo. But if I’m absent in the online world, let’s assume it’s because I’m getting something done. You know where to find me if you want or need me and I’ll pop in at least for a bit – you know that much is true.

Gina's Coffee and Books

And now I have to end this and move on, mostly because I’m falling asleep at the keyboard and it is time to go finish out my evening, put my kid to bed, and relax.

Pretend I left you with a snappy and entertaining close here.

See you soon!

~ XO <3

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Ten Things of Thankful
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Hardship

Let me tell you something about hardship.

You are never prepared for it.

You can tell yourself that you are. You can tell yourself that you’ve thought through all the possibilities that could befall you and can handle whatever life hurls at you. But no matter how much you think you’re prepared, when that moment comes – and I can assure you that it will come – the world will grow dark and it will bring you to your knees.

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You can believe your own half-humorous claims that your position in life is secure because they’ll never find another fool to do your job for what they pay you. But the truth is they will. Not only will they find someone to do your job, but they will find someone to do it for even less than they’re paying you.

Three and a half years ago, my Husband lost his job. We had no suspicion, no warning. There was only a seemingly sudden decision that his services would no longer be required. We were devastated. He had spent eleven years of his time, energy, and talent on that position – sometimes to the detriment of other aspects of our lives. He worked hard and cared about his work. But suddenly, circumstances beyond our control left us standing, mouths agape, utterly shocked. Continue reading “Hardship”

TToT – The Unexpected

I am not a fan of surprises.

Surprise parties, unannounced visitors, restaurant servers gathered around my table singing an unenthusiastic birthday song while I sit in my seat wearing a sombrero and smiling awkwardly at a cupcake holding a flaming sparkler? Not my thing.

But as I get older – and I hope wiser – I’m trying to embrace the beauty of unexpected things. You just never know when you might find a moment of fascinating and beautiful in the midst of the ordinary – like the sea turtle Zilla found living on the wood boards of the restroom at our hiking spot. Sometimes the unplanned and unexpected in life are the very things we never knew we wanted.

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For example, I can start here with my daughter, our Kidzilla. Before she was born, we were certain she would be a boy. We wanted to have a boy and we hoped for a boy, so we convinced ourselves that she was, indeed, a boy. As it turns, out she is a girl. A very pink, very sparkly girl. And we can’t imagine ever having wanted anything different.

In a million years, I never would have expected to decide that I wanted to work for myself, work from home, and want to make things like chaperoning field trips and volunteering in the school library the first items that go on my calendar. And yet, after Zilla was born, I found myself wanting that more and more.

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I never would have expected to choose to leave the “security” of a full-time benefits-included job and strike out on my own. Terrifying. And yet unexpectedly rewarding. I certainly did not expect to start taking sub-teacher days – and I definitely didn’t think I’d enjoy it. But I’ve been subbing a couple of days each week for the last couple of weeks and enjoying it quite a bit.

I did not expect the plans I had for my self-employed ventures to fall through. Nearly everything I expected and planned and attempted for the last year has somehow not gone as planned. But as it turns out, in retrospect, it’s very likely been for good reason and it seems has led to better opportunities.

For example, I most definitely did not expect to land three freelance contract in three days – but that’s exactly what happened this week. I’m still in a bit of shock. Of course I’ll continue to search and add more – such is the life of the freelance writer – but these are a very positive and encouraging start. And I expected my first few jobs to be, well, hateful. But these three are actually quite interesting and I’m excited about doing them.

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I’m sure I missed a memo or a posting or an invite somewhere this week because I most definitely did not expect my phone to ring with a video chat call on Friday evening. The next thing I knew, I was talking face-to-virtual-face with Clark and Lizzi and Kristi! That was an absolutely delightful surprise!

I never expected to find so many dear friends out there in so many places as a result of starting this blog. Nor did I expect the outpouring of good wishes, support, and encouragement that they provide in so many ways. I hope you all know who you are…I love you guys.

I didn’t expect my blood work to look all that great this week, but it’s quite good. Nor did I expect to buy jeans several sizes smaller than I thought I needed, or that I would drop (and keep off) ten pounds over the last couple of weeks, or that anyone would notice – ten pounds on a fat girl isn’t always that noticeable, you know? And yet all of those things have happened.

When asked what I do for a living, I never expected “I am a writer” to come out of my mouth. But it did. And oddly enough, mere hours after that utterance, I accepted my first contract. Coincidence? Who’s to say…?

20150902_125402I did not plant to have an impromptu girls slumber party last night with Kidzilla or expect that my Fab Hub would grab me in the garage for a good solid kiss this morning. Those happy surprises happened, too.

I didn’t expect to like the soup I’m eating right now, but it might be one of my new favorites.

And I certainly didn’t expect to go several days without Cat One making a fecal deposit somewhere unacceptable in the house, but it seems that even unexpected miracles do sometimes happen!

It’s a good day.

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Your turn: What unexpected things have made you happy and thankful lately? Do you like surprises or dread them? What is the greatest surprise you’ve had in life? 

You know the drill – share ’em or link ’em!

Ten Things of Thankful

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TToT – Finding My Groove…and Peace

Wow. Just wow.

Well, I muddled through OctPoWriMo – sorta. I somehow anticipated having more time, producing more words, posting more posts…then life happened. I even missed a TToT or two which I truly never do. And now, here we are a week into November and NaNoWriMo I’m feeling a bit like I’m trying to climb a very slippery slope. All good intentions fall to the wayside, unexpected things fall in my path…you know…things fall apart.

But it’s not bad … in fact, things are rather good, I think. I did get some poetry posts in for October. I am writing for NaNoWriMo, albeit slowly. I’m just having a very hard time finding my groove right now, in all respects. It will come. I will get there.

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In the meantime, I am just enjoying autumn (well except for this last week of ridiculously hot and muggy temps…ugh), continuing to find my way, and keeping my eyes focused on the path ahead. And even though the sun does not always shine through the trees, there is much for which I am thankful…

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Continue reading “TToT – Finding My Groove…and Peace”

TToT – My People

There’s a lot going on around here right now.

The in-real world is pretty stressful and demanding right now and I’d be lying if I said I’m handling with anything close to finesse. I’m not. I’m exhausted. I’m not sleeping. My eczema is springing up like crazy. I’m getting pimples – and that’s ridiculous. I didn’t even have them in puberty. Why now for crying out loud? I’m cranky and nervous and I’m driving my family insane. Even the Rotten Cats are kind of staying away…

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So, yeah. Finding the thankful this week was not at the top of my Things-I-Can’t-Wait-to-Do list this week. In fact, Christina mentioned on Facebook that she was kind of wondering how to get the TToT done when you’re really not feeling it. At that moment, I thought my list was going to be one of Clark’s hypo-gratitude type posts. I think most of us have been there at least once. Right?

Well I’m kind of there again.

But at some point on Saturday morning it occurred to me that even though I’m really having a tough time seeing what’s going well right now, there is a lot of good in my life. It comes in the form of the people I have around me.

For example… Continue reading “TToT – My People”

The Road to Starrdom – An Interview with Starr Bryson

Today I’m turning over my space to a new friend many of you already know – Starr Bryson. I met Starr recently through a pretty terrific bloggers group and the next thing I knew, I was helping out with blog tours for indie authors and loving every minute of it. 

As most of you know, I am in the process of reinventing myself in a number of ways so I decided to pick Starr’s brain a bit about her process of reinvention and how she arrived at the version of herself she is right now. 

What I love about Starr is that she is smart, funny, completely forthright, and delightfully easy to work with. Grab your coffee and listen in on our virtual sit-down…you’ll see what I mean.

Starr Bryson Blog Tour Interview April 7 2015

Tell us a little bit about your new business for those who may not know – what is it, why are you doing it, etc.? 

Starry Knight Word Slayers is the end result of the combination of two ideas. I have always wanted to have my own business (virtual and online) for my freelancing services. Something more than just a tab on my blog, an actual storefront to sell my wares, where I could keep a profile of my work and send my clients to.

Then I began doing book promotions and blog tours for local indie authors here in Pittsburgh, and I thought, “Now THIS needs a store!”

I love all things words. Writing. Reading. Sharing. I absolutely love helping authors to promote their books, it’s something I’m really passionate about.

What sort of career did you imagine for yourself when you were a child? In high school? College?

Oh, I always knew I’d be a New York Times bestselling author. *laughs* I did have stints where I wanted to be an actress and even a lawyer. But at the end of the day, I’ve always wanted to write.

This one has sort of an either/or to it – take either route. If your career IS what you imagined, what steps did you take along the way to arrive where you are today? If your career IS NOT what you imagined, what led you to end up where you are now?

My career is nothing at all like I imagined. I always thought I’d be writing novels. In this lofty dream of mine, I’d make a modest income. Fame is great, but I always said I’d be happy with just a handful of loyal readers. If I could make minimum wage writing books, I’d be happy with that.

Instead, I make more money than I ever thought I’d make tapping away at these keys, but I write everything ELSE. I write for other people, I write boring things. I can’t complain though, I do write for a living and I work from home.

This is why I really want to launch Starry Knight Word Slayers. I would be far happier and more satisfied if book promotions were my full time job. As it stands right now, I have a few clients, but not enough to hang up the freelancing hat.

The steps that led me to where I am are not happy ones. I’ve been through a lot of tragedies and made some really bad choices along the way, and sometimes even when I made the right choices, life dealt me some pretty hard blows. I sort of “fell into” the freelancing by accident after I had lost my job and started a blog.

What would you say is the most defining or important moment in your path to where you are in life right now?

As far as writing, I would say when my father brought me a typewriter home when I was 8 years old, and then paid for the typing classes to go with it. He always supported my craft.

The rest – well I’m not even where I want to be in life. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Would you say that you have reinvented yourself at any point in your life? What led you to do so?

I’ve had to reinvent myself many times, unfortunately. When my oldest son died, I had to reinvent my entire life and figure out how to live in a world without him in it. Then I got a divorce. Then I became a mother again. There was another divorce. I’ve moved across the country and started over five times in my life. I’ve lost both of my parents – my father was especially a blow I’m still reeling from.  I’m adjusting to being a partial custody parent – which IS NOT AT ALL where I ever wanted to be as a Mother.  I had children so I could be a Mother, and not only half of the time.

I’m still figuring it all out and trying to make my life what I want it to be. Silver linings, lemonade and all of that.

What is your most memorable/favorite job or assignment as a writer?

I would have to say my current ongoing gig, writing entertainment journalism for The Web Graffiti. I get paid to write about movies and comic books, it doesn’t get much better than that. We’ve been on a hiatus for a few months while the e-zine underwent some changes, but I’m happy to say I’m back at it.

 What is the one job or assignment you wish you could forget?

*laughs* I can’t say that here.

Is there someone you would name as particularly influential in your past, someone who helped shaped your career now?

My father. He always believed in me and supported my writing. I remember he would take stories or poems I wrote to work with him to show his employees. He was always so proud of whatever I wrote. I miss him so much, every day. I still write for him. A collection of letters I like to imagine he’s still reading.

What advice would you offer someone just starting out as a writer or freelancer?

Don’t quit your day job! I’m only partially joking. I was thrust into this world when I lost my job, but if I had it to do over again I would have saved up a substantial nest egg and built up a client list before delving in full time.

Be picky if you can afford it.  Nothing will burn you out faster than churning out articles that are so boring you’d rather stick screwdrivers in your eyes. I actually lost the ability to write creatively, and dare I say it, the love of writing for a short while. I burned myself out by taking on all the jobs, even those I couldn’t stand.

Also, just because you work from home does not mean you should work 12 hour days and weekends. Give yourself a break. Get away from the computer once in a while. Set a work schedule, just like in the “real world”, and stick to it.

What advice would you offer someone just starting their own business?

Don’t do it. Ha, I joke.

Again, unlike me, don’t stumble onto the most fantastic idea you’ve ever had and land yourself gigs doing something you KNOW will make a great business when you don’t have a ton of money saved up. I’m having to run a crowdfunding campaign just to help me launch and I’m still working full time freelancing so I can pay the bills. I’m running book promotions, freelancing, running this crowdfunding campaign, and attempting to launch a business, all at the same time. (Never mind that I would like to SOMEDAY finish a book. *laugh*)

And I’m tired. I’m strung out, stressed out, burned out, and not following any of my own advice from above.

With perseverance and hard work, comes the fruition of dreams. I’ll get there.

If you’d like to support the business, head over and check out the Indiegogo Campaign. Donations are always welcome, but if you can’t afford to invest, please share with friends.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Campaign LogoIndiegogo Campaign:  http://igg.me/at/starryknight
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/WordSlayers
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/starryknightwordslayers
Website:  www.starryknightwordslayers.com

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Bio Shot

Starr works from her home in Pittsburgh as a freelance writer.  Her professional work includes editing, Social Media marketing and management, ghost writing, content management and SEO for websites, entertainment journalism, and book promotion for self-published authors.  In the past, she has taught classes at writers’ conferences in Pittsburgh about freelancing as a career and the best practices for blogging and social media.

Starr’s creative writing ranges from humor laced snarkfests, gritty and painfully raw non-fiction all the way to the dark world of Erotica. The author behind The Insomniac’s Dream, she claims blogging was only the beginning of an amazing freelancing career.

In her spare time, Starr writes fiction and is working on a paranormal novel and companion serial.  In addition, she writes short stories and manages a local writing group.  When she’s not writing, Starr is kept busy by her two hilarious and fantastically disgusting boys.

Starr enjoys adult grape juice, reading in her non-existent spare time, the occasional Netflix binge, and connecting with other writers and her readers.  She loves Halloween, Zombies, and all things horror. She aspires to be a Vampire someday.

Her claim to fame is her caustic wit, copious swears, and an ongoing battle with insomnia.  You can catch up with Starr on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  You can see what Starr has published by visiting her Amazon Author Page.

Once Upon a Year or Two Ago

Sometimes it’s nice to take a look at where we’ve been.

Every now and then I take a look through photo albums, old letters, piles of filing in my office that need to be handled…but I haven’t done much backward observation here on my blog. Today’s as good a day as any, so come along with me and let’s visit the ghosts of blog posts past… Continue reading “Once Upon a Year or Two Ago”

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

In a million years, I never thought I would be part of something like this.

I was never a joiner. I didn’t belong to a whole lot of clubs in school. I didn’t run for student council. I was just sort of quietly part of my one or two things, did them with gusto, stayed out of the limelight and off of the bandwagon.

When my Daughter came along and it was time to do the Mommy thing, I did not hang out with other moms. The word playdate made me cringe. For the preschool classroom parties, I was the napkin mom. I did not bake and I most certainly did not volunteer in the classroom.

But people change. Or maybe we don’t really change so much as figure out who we were really meant to be in the first place. Either way, sometimes we find ourselves face to face with something too good, too right to not take part.

That’s what happened to me. Continue reading “1000 Voices Speak for Compassion”

TToT – A Dizzying Week

There is certainly no dearth of thankfulness this week!

So many things have happened – and happened well, at that. It’s been a good week all around. Kind of a head-spinning week, really. So while I have much to be thankful for, I found it sort of overwhelming to sort it all out, put it into words, and then put those words on screen. I’m late to the party again this week, but I have a stellar list to show for it!

Continue reading “TToT – A Dizzying Week”

The Open Door

I have tried for days to write this post.

I have wanted to write this post for months. I practiced it in my head. OK, I had one line down, but still. This should not have been the post that I struggled to write. It kind of bothers me because rarely, if ever, do I struggle to find words to say something. Why now?

I was thinking about it all wrong. I was trying to tell the story by looking behind me, explaining what has led to this moment, this decision, and focusing on the doors that have been closed. But none of that matters, really, because this isn’t about what came before. This is about what is yet to come.

Allow me to digress for a moment. It’s relevant, I promise. Continue reading “The Open Door”