Lamentations and Ecclesiastes


Breast Cancer awareness ribbons

Have you ever hit that point where you feel everything in your life is meaningless? The goals that you set for yourself seem like chasing the wind? Have you ever wondered what’s the point, when for all of your hard work, anxiety, stress, and aggravation that finish line seems elusive or when you cross it, it’s a day late and a dollar short? There has to be more to life than this, right?

I tip my hat to those men and women who continue in their daily roles after getting the diagnosis of cancer. The initial shock hit me hard. Making the decision for surgery seemed like a no brainer to me, I mean if there is cancer in my body – then get it out!

My blood pressure was the highest it has ever been the day I went in for surgery. I had never had a surgery before minus oral surgery which isn’t the same at all. Of course, Mother Nature thought it was funny to have major flooding in the area to cut off the major highways between us and the hospital. That had its own share of aggravation, but we managed it. It did mean, however, the day of the surgery I had one person in my corner to be there with me through all of it. My husband is a saint! He has been amazing through all of this, has been encouraging, loving, supportive and has been my champion every day.

It makes sense, of course, we are partners in life. When we took those vows years ago. . . we promised for better or for worse, through sickness and in health. . .

Funny how when you are young and in love, you never really think about the worse or sickness. Maybe it’s just me,  but there was a certain amount of moon-eyed happily ever after when I said my vows.

Honestly, I’d be in worse shape without him in my life. I know this for an absolute certainty. This wasn’t meant to be a “sing the hubby’s praises” post, but it needs to be said.

For all of his help and support, he can’t fix what’s inside my head. OH, that I wish he could. It has been a whirlwind of tests, needles, doctors, more needles, surgery, more doctors, back to the tests, the dreaded needles, and now radiation.  While I am thrilled beyond measure that I am not having to go through chemotherapy, I am trying to cope with the current radiation and oral medications.

Everyone around me keeps encouraging me and telling me how brave I am, how strong I am. . . not feeling it. At some point every day I feel exhaustion, fatigue, nausea, and that doesn’t even begin to get into the mental battles: the continued struggle to lose weight, the dietary restrictions because of cancer, the fear that cancer will be found somewhere else, the sense of failure as I slip further behind on my goals. At times the weight of it gets the better of me.

I think that one is the hardest for me. I can tough it out when I don’t feel great, but can still manage. I see my author friends cranking out one project after another and I get more discouraged. I know I’ve suffered from a lack of focus with too many projects in my queue. I’ve allowed criticism to derail me when I had a full head of steam working towards completion. I’ve  allowed the poison words of certain individuals to affect my mental state to the point that I quit working on particular projects.

You want to know what is really sad?  I have volumes of stories mostly written. For example, I was diligently working on Valkyrie’s Curse. I had the first draft completed, was 78% finished with second draft revisions when I realized that the story didn’t end at my ending. The overall story spans five more books which I outlined and have key scenes written for them.  I was excited, I was on a roll. I  can see the destination over the far horizon then the white haired witch rose up before me, hissing and flailing in wild gestations spouting words of her own self-righteousness, singing her own praises and that my methods and styles were wrong because they aren’t like hers. She was right, I’m nothing like her. I don’t want to be. After three rounds of being put off to review the manuscript, I got discouraged and set it aside. I will get back to it,  but I have been working on getting Roxy ready for her debut. I had my manuscript for VC ready to go,  had the second book first draft completed, so I needed something else to work on. In all honesty, I’ve had a dozen new ideas since then with a brief intro or scene written, enough to remind myself what the idea for that story is.

I sent my revised story of Roxy to a fabulous lady, who is an awesome author and mentor. She pointed out – very nicely I might add – plot holes and glaring errors. Hmmm, this wouldn’t do. I had to make it a story that I was proud of and that readers would want to read. I rolled up my sleeves and got busy. Very little of the original story remains, but  I think it’s by far better. So what’s the problem?

Finishing it.  I have nearly 60K words on this story. I’m adding in some transition scenes as well as some other scenes to take it to the final destination. I was on a roll right up to April 12th, when my world came crashing down around me. It galls me to admit that I can’t get it out by the deadline that I wanted. If that was the case it would have been published at the beginning of May.

There have been more than a few days since my surgery that I didn’t even get online. I didn’t crack my computer open. I didn’t have the mental energy to write a few hundred words. Now I am struggling to allocate my daily limited energy to what is important. I feel like a huge weeny because I  don’t have the energy to be superwoman – having my house immaculate, serving healthy nutritious and tasty meals to my family – five star restaurant quality because I am the overachiever, keep up with my day job – because I have medical bills to pay, this one has to go to the top of the list, writing, blogging, exercise, mental health activities.  Pick a day, any day and at least three of those things fall by the wayside. Care to venture which ones?

Most often the taking care of me part has been at the bottom of my priorities. Maybe it’s a mom thing or a woman thing but either way, I can’t do that anymore. I want to live to see my next several birthdays so I have to learn to make myself a priority. Why does this make me so emotional???  You’d think it was a good thing. I see people all of the time taking time for themselves, doing things for themselves, pampering themselves, yet I struggle to allow myself downtime to cope with cancer.

I will finish my books and get them published because that is a goal I have set for myself. The deadlines have been erased and pushed out even further. (I swear, if I were employing me I’d fire me to get a different content writer.) I may be in turtle mode, but by darn, I will get there.

So what doe this have to do with Ecclesiastes and Lamentations?  In the book of Lamentations, it was basically David crying out – lamenting his sorrows. Sometimes we want to vent or get it off of our chest. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon,  astute observations and conclusions about life. Let me

Let me briefly summarize: Life sucks. It is like a wild rollercoaster ride that didn’t pass safety inspections and no one tells you when the dangerous curves or broken tracks will appear. We make the best of it, lick our wounds, recover, get stronger, and go on. We all die eventually and when we do, what will you have to show for your legacy? What will be your lasting mark on this world you’ve left behind? What of value have you contributed to this world? Or have you lived a self-serving existence that didn’t impact any other living soul in a positive way?

(This is by no means a church sanctioned summarization. For exact interpretation go read it for yourself.)

I know this is far from my usual uplifting encouraging post and I apologize for that. This is where I am.  I have been trying to remain positive, but there are days when I fail.

Tomorrow is another day and here’s hoping that it’s a better day!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

Suddenly


Hey, everyone!

How to write the post I need to write . . .  there is no real clever way so with all the tact I can muster, I’m going to plunge in.

With the A to Z Challenge, I left off with the letter O. I have a new word, that inadvertently has everything to do with my own writing right now –

ONCOLOGY

On March 28, I had my annual OBGYN visit. I shared some concerns with her about the girl parts, namely issues that indicate menopause.  She sent me to the Imaging center for a pelvic sonogram, and the annual mammogram. I expected some news on the lower region but not the tatas.

A scheduled date for a routine procedure for the girl parts was made. Later that day, I got a call saying I needed to return for an additional mammogram and breast ultrasound because I had some areas of concern. OK, that’s a bit disconcerting but no biggie, right? I figured fibrocystic breast syndrome because the girls aren’t exactly smooth like a muscle,  they are kind of like a well-used pillow. NO, I’m not going into detail on that but after nursing two babies, being a ‘mature’ woman I’m grateful they don’t drag the floor.

April 6th I go back for these additional tests and the Dr. that oversees the imaging center came in and told me that it’s cancerous. BUT, don’t worry, most of the time it’s benign.  He had one of those plastic forced smiles that is used to break bad news. I instantly don’t trust him.

April 12th, I have a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy. Don’t let anyone fool you – it hurts. “Oh, you’ll just feel some pressure and hear a click” LIARS!!! 

IT HURT!  IT HURT FOR DAYS AFTER!  IT still hurts as the bruised area changes from purple to greenish yellow.

I wait for the verdict phone call which was supposed to happen either last Tuesday or Wednesday that never came. On one hand, no news is good news.  If they don’t call it can’t be too urgent right?

WRONG!

I called on Thursday because I suck at waiting patiently.

STAGE 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.

Yeah, that’s something you want to hear when you are in the office alone. I mean, literally alone. There wasn’t another breathing soul in the office complex.

The only time I’ve ever known doctors to act fast is when it’s serious so it didn’t alleve my fears when they called back to confirm an appointment with an oncology surgeon for the next day. Friday the 21st was a marathon. I would gladly attempt a running marathon as opposed to my day. The doctor explained completely with drawing little illustrations to emphasize the points. My options were presented to me, initial treatment assessment was discussed, and then it was off to the labs for more tests.

Bloodwork – one of my big fears about this whole thing is the needles. I have small veins, they are deep (being fat isn’t the only reason for this) and they roll. When I get blood drawn they use a child’s butterfly needle. What is going to happen if I have to go through chemotherapy and they blow my veins? I don’t have enough time to build my cardio level to have super veins like my husband. He makes a fist and the veins just pop out. Of course, that would look bad on me as a female.

Chest x-ray, EKG, new mammogram, additional close up mammogram slides, 3D Ultrasound – I was there from 8 in the morning until almost 5 at night.

I’ve had the weekend to digest all of this.  I’ve shared with close family what the diagnosis is and the plan for treatment, and have even shared on my Facebook account.  I was almost at a place of peace about accepting this. Nobody wants to go through this. Nobody chooses cancer.

Then, I get another call. Just a few minutes ago actually. I have to go back for an MRI and a second biopsy of additional spots that they found. This may determine whether or not I can have a lumpectomy or have to have the full mastectomy.

I’m not sharing to gain your sympathy. I’m not sharing because I overshare – if anything I hear from people that I don’t let others in, don’t share what’s really going on.

This isn’t about writing yet it is.  I write with passion. My passion. Passion for life, passion about love relationships, passion about the emotions we go through. My plan for today was to share some more from Roxy, a segment that I’ve recently tackled – one that was very difficult to tackle and I had to be in the right headspace to do. Ironically I had to draw on the raw emotions of my own mother’s funeral to write this. I’d put it off for weeks, but finally tackled it and was quite proud of myself for not only tackling it,  I think I did a pretty good job on it as well.

Then I get this news.  Well hell!  Oh trust me, I could write the emotional scene now. I could pour my heart out on the pages and nobody is the wiser that it was me going through this emotional tidal wave with the diagnosis of ‘You have breast cancer’.

Ironically, Roxy’s mother died after a long battle with breast cancer. Should I wait and experience first hand and rewrite? Should I proceed with it as scheduled? I know that women dying from breast cancer is rare, it’s usually when it’s metastasized beyond the breast and invaded other organs. Ultimately it started with breast cancer, and Roxy’s mother was a woman that put off her own medical treatment until it became critical.

For me, they caught it early with the mammogram. Of that I am grateful. Ladies, don’t put it off.  I still can’t feel any lumps even knowing that it’s there. I don’t have a family history of it. I don’t have the usual symptoms that indicate cancer.  In all of my regular doctor’s comments about concerns for being overweight he never said cancer was one of them. Now as I am reading the material provided to me by the breast cancer center, obesity can lead to cancer. Heart disease and diabetes were on my mind, not cancer. Never cancer.We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey.

We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey. April 20th is a day of demarcation for me. My life as I knew it ended that day, so tears were to be expected. Tears of grieving for what was,  what dreams may die, all of the changes that have to be made and tears to face the great unknown.  A little encouragement for saving the woman would be appreciated.

I’ll try to stay away from the pity parties but from time to time I will be sharing my struggles in this battle. I’m not looking forward to the needles. Not looking forward to losing part of my breast or the full breast or breasts depending on what they find. Not looking forward to possibly losing my hair. Not looking forward to much of any of this,  but it’s the path I’ve been put on and I’ll make the best of a bad situation.  I come from good stock and I am my mother’s daughter. My mother was ” a tough old bird”. I hope I have half as much chutzpah as she did.

I plan to continue writing, still pushing for my delayed deadline and praying that I don’t have to push it back further. The A to Z challenge . . . I don’t have the energy to continue that now. I thought about making a video, but I didn’t think I could get through it without an ugly cry and who needs to see that?

Hope you stick around to see me come out the other end of this!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

Fine Tuning the Plan


Today is a day of evaluation. It’s not a day of beginnings, but rather a day of continuance. Toady is one of those stuck in the murky middle days.

Have you ever started off with great gusto to find yourself sidelined and wondering what in the world happened? Have you gotten off course? Lost your way? Taken the wrong detour? Well, I have. I’ve done it often, and today is my “correcting my course” day.

I don’t know if any of you are like me, if so you may recognize some of what I’m about to share. If not, you may be amused or sympathetic or you might even be able to offer some insight. Grab your favorite beverage, some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

Back in January,  I was all gung-ho – this is going to be my best year! YAY! Enter the sickness. Seriously –  it was like I alerted the universe and invited all the plagues, disease, and infirmities to pay me a visit. I posted on here, so proud of myself for making a plan that I could stick to and not fail. You can read that here: The Master Plan.

I swear it was the next day that I was hit with the sick wand. UGH, it’s been a battle just to stay healthy. However, I’m not here to lament that. I’m here to discuss why I’m evaluating my lack of progress and making my quarterly adjustments to get me back on track.

My first point in the Master Plan is Be Your best every day.  I had to reread it in order to remind myself to STOP berating myself for not being able to run at 90 to nothing full throttle every single day. Let me tell you what happens when I start down that path. It’s ugly so consider this your “viewer discretion” advisory.

I’m feeling great, life is good, I can do all the things, throw sparkly glitter all around! The big bad sickness ogre sees this as a clear invitation to mess with Sasquatch aka Ellie. I get in a funk. I start the mental lashings. I continue down the berating trail eventually  botoming out in a pit of despairm feeling like an ultimate failure, ready to throw in the towel on everything. Life just can’t get any worse. This sucks. I suck. My writing sucks. When nobody comes along to help me out of my muck, I scrape off the glop, wipe my tears and go clean myself up, scrubbing until my skin and nerves are raw and flayed. Overcompensating, I push myself with new vigor and determination. It doesn’t take long for cracks to appear and the spiral downward begins anew. It’s a horrible cycle and I am tired of it. I don’t want to continue in this any longer.

Quick reminder of point 1:

  1. Be your best every day.  No matter what you do, do your very best at it.  If your best for that day is to say thanks to the person caring for you, like if you have the flu and they are bringing you hot tea then be thankful. If your best is running a marathon that day, then run like your life depends on it and give it 100%. Your best fluctuates from day to day. There are days we are unstoppable. There are days when it’s a trial to get from one minute to the next. Whatever your best is, do it. Know that it is your best. If you can’t with a clear conscious say inside your heart that you gave your best effort then do more. If you are running the marathon and you gave 100% and didn’t win then be at peace with yourself that you gave your all. If you only exerted 85% effort,  then evaluate and learn from it,  and know that you are capable of more so that the next time you will know that what you thought was 100% was only at 85%. Are you with me?

OK, I seriously need to take my own advice! Learning to function overall when those days of not being at full capacity happen, and they seem to happen a lot more as I’ve gotten older, I need to learn that ‘be at peace’ part so badly. I’m working on it. I had a good self-talk yesterday after mentally berating myself for not hitting my self-imposed deadlines, then alternately berating myself for making too lofty of goals for myself. Honestly, if this was fifteen years ago then my self-imposed deadlines and goals would be a piece of cake. It’s not fifteen years ago however, it’s now – today -and I’m older. That sucks, but I don’t have to let it suck as much as it has been. I need to come to terms with what I can and can’t do and realize that I’m not where I want to be, but that I can change that with steady progress. AAAAAAANNND  we come full circle to the crux of what set me on this quarterly check. Lack of steady progress.

Why? Because I’ve let the days that I couldn’t do my best from yesterday affect my ability to accept that my best today was the best I could manage and let it go. Then there are those days when I know I didn’t give my best, and in fact, I wasted hours sulking, or playing games, or lost in “research” down the internet rabbit hole. From this point, all I can do is count those as a loss and do my best to make every day count or at least a good 80%.

My second obvious mistake – again I should take my own advice – is not following number 2 on my master list – Make your goals crystalline. I’ve discovered that my bullet journal has a massive flaw. Yes, the same bullet journal that I’ve been singing praises of. The bullet journal that keeps my butt in line and on track.

What on earth could be such a massive flaw in a near perfect tool? Operator error.

I’m the one who enters everything into my handy dandy little book of life order. I haven’t been precise. Looking over the past three months worth of entries I notice a distinct pattern. An important part of my bullet journal is my daily todo list. Which often looks like this:

  • writing 1 hour
  • editing 2 hours
  • housework
  • resale
  • scheduled appointments, webinar, etc.
  • miscellaneous items such as groceries, get oil changed, etc.

The problem is that I need to be specific on the first two entries. I need to write specifics like 1 hour writing on chapter 12 of Roxy: scene 15,16,17. On editing I need to be specific about the book I am editing like: Malevolent Mind – chapters 12 – 15.

For someone who has been   made aware multiple times of the importance to have SMART goals, why didn’t I see  this before?

I’m disappointed in myself in the setbacks for completing this manuscript, however given the changes that I am making to it, I’m OK with this. Being behind on my plan even after the changes due to lack of focus I am not OK with.

Tools are only effective if you are using them correctly. You wouldn’t take a chainsaw to cut a couple of one by sixes to make shelves, likewise you wouldn’t use a table saw to cut down a rotten tree. The botom line I suppose is that I am once again fine tuning my bullet journal for my personal adaptation.

The objective is not to have the perfect bullet journal, my objective is to utilize my bullet journal in being a more focused and productive author. I might add,  it’s a good thing to do an occasional check to see where you are on your goals instead of hitting the end of the year and say “well, I failed that one”.  Even if I don’t hit the final mark like losing 75 pounds this year,  I will  make progress in that direction.

Have you evaluated where you are on your path to reaching your goals? If you take time now to do that, you can make some adjustments to make it possible to reach.

While you ponder what your take away for yourself is,  stop over at AuthorShout where my cover is up for vote for best cover. GO VOTE FOR RED WINE & ROSES!

Write on my friends, write on.

Ellie

 

 

Phase 1 – Master Plan


Quotidiandose does not own this image. All rights reserved to the original artist.

Quotidiandose does not own this image. All rights reserved to the original artist.

Welcome to Operation Rockstar.

2017 is going to be my banner year. How do I know that? Because I am going to make IT happen!

If you are anything like me, you’ve got your goals written down. Writing down your goals is an important step towards getting them accomplished. But, how do you move them from written down to actually accomplishing them? It starts with planning.  By making a plan, then working the plan, you can move items from your to-do list to checking them off and moving onto the next item. In order to do that, though, you need to take your goal, or goals and make a plan of action.

Let’s back up a bit for a moment and take a peek at the Master List. The Master List to make 2017 the year you become the rockstar!

  1. Be your best every day.  No matter what you do, do your very best at it.  If your best for that day is to say thanks to the person caring for you, like if you have the flu and they are bringing you hot tea then be thankful. If your best is running a marathon that day, then run like your life depends on it and give it 100%. Your best fluctuates from day to day. There are days we are unstoppable. There are days when it’s a trial to get from one minute to the next. Whatever your best is, do it. Know that it is your best. If you can’t with a clear conscious say inside your heart that you gave your best effort then do more. If you are running the marathon and you gave 100% and didn’t win then be at peace with yourself that you gave your all. If you only exerted 85% effort,  then evaluate and learn from it,  and know that you are capable of more so that the next time you will know that what you thought was 100% was only at 85%. Are you with me?
  2. Make your goals crystalline. For some, this means one goal. Just one. For me,  it means a few. You know, an overachiever and all. I’ve narrowed it down to just a few. A few years back, I had 50 goals. Yeah, who was I kidding?  I did manage to accomplish a few of those things but for the most part, they were on the wish list, not the master list. This is where you write them down. Post them on your fridge, on your bulletin board, wherever it is visible for you to be reminded often.
  3. Become a Rockstar! Become amazing. Become the best version of you that you can be. Become the you that you want to be. Become the you that you want to see in the mirror.  How?  Small steps. That is how we get from the not so hot mess to the total rockstar that everyone is going to take notice of. Look, I don’t expect to be on par with Gina Carrano, or Sophia Vergara. Those women are hot! Those women are amazing but I’m not them. I am ME. You are you. That sounds like a duh moment but if you think about it,  it’s a profound revelation. My job is to be the best ME I can be. Your job is to be the best YOU. Each of us is a one of a kind original masterpiece. Don’t be a copycat of someone else when the starring role of YOU needs to be filled! Take a few moments every day to contemplate your life,  what your hopes and dreams are, who are you?
  4. Get it done! Take your master list, and break each item down into bite size steps. For instance, a top priority goal for me is to lose 50 pounds. How am I going to get there? It seems like an insurmountable task when it has been such a  problem for me. How? I am going to take steps to do that. 1. I am going to follow a healthy, portion controlled, carb controlled diet plan. 2. I will increase my physical activity for improved cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health. (Say that 3 times fast!) 3. I will use daily meditations, prayer, and motivational material to improve my mental state of being because the battle is in my mind. 4. I will break it down to smaller increments of ten pounds with nonfood rewards when I reach those smaller goals. 5. Work those steps until the goal is completed.
  5. Work the Plan! You have to stick to it.  It gets hard. It gets dull. It gets tedious, but don’t give up. This is where a vision board might help you. I am creating myself a vision board this weekend. A vision board can be a very personal thing. It is what motivates you. The point is to make your dreams visible in order to achieve those dreams and make them your reality.  If anyone is interested in me sharing the vision board, leave me a message and I will take a photo of it to share. I haven’t done one in a few years,  but it really did help when I did it. It also helps to have an accountability partner. Work with someone that will encourage you, that will celebrate your wins, give you the pep talk when you are in the pits,  scream at you like a drill sergeant when you’ve been a slacker,  someone who will call you on your bull! Just for the record, an accountability partner is not someone who is simply going to be your cheerleader.It’s the coach making you drop and give him twenty, the drill sergeant that sends you out for a five mile run to clear your head, it’s the personal trainer that pushes you to do more than you FEEL like doing because our feelings are liars. It’s the person that knows when you are honestly sick and should rest for two days, then gets you back on track for 363 days to achieve your goals.

There you have the master plan. 5 easy steps to make this year a great year!

NANO Prep or Panic?


November is National Novel Writing Month.  The goal is to write a 50,000 word book in 30 days.

30 days and nights of literary abandon. 

The date is rapidly approaching. Are you preparing or are you panicking?

I have been planning. A story idea that I have been mulling over in my mind for some time now is the project that I’m going to tackle.  I’ve been itching to get started on this one.  While the muse is jumping up and down over in the corner to get my attention with this story,  I have been trying  to discipline myself to focus on ONE thing while working out some things towards this story.

Does anyone fully grasp the  difficulty of that? ME? focus on just one thing? I’m like the queen of ADHD, iron in the fire juggling, and new shinies!

The list of projects keeps growing. There are times that I feel like throwing my hands up and conceding defeat but  I keep going. I’ve been really trying to focus my efforts on one project at a time. Of course,  the fates have decided that  practical jokes in my life are to be the thing right now. Irony and Chaos have teamed up to make my plans seem unimportant.

Each of us has to manage our time  and prioritize what we spend our 24 hours on. Then fate comes along and decides – nope!   It’s a good thing that I have been working from home and that I’m not on the clock for anyone else because my schedule is currently thrown out of the window. Yes, the one that I toiled over for three day to make sure I fit in my workout time,  meals that I often are prone to skip and then overeat later, writing time, editing time, our home business,  all disrupted because  a good portion of my time is now spent as a taxi driver.  NO,  not for checkered cab company but for my children.

We are currently down to one car between three adults. Instead of  being stuck her without a car,  I have opted to drive my kids to their school/jobs so that I can have a car when I need it.  Call it the privilege of ownership. OF course,  doing that means that a good chunk of my day is then spent driving. *SIGH*

Back to NANO prep. In order to maximize my time that is available for writing,  I am preparing.  I make outlines, but this time I am trying a new method that learned. I’ve spent the last week and a half in developing my characters and laying out the plot and subplots. I have never spent this much time on my characters before, so I really hope that it pays off.

When the stroke of midnight hits,  I will be sound asleep. I hope. Anyway, when I can write I will.  One of the things I really like about NANO  is the challenge of hitting the daily word count goal. There are days when that is easy peasy,  then there are days when 100 words seems  unattainable. It’s an exciting, stressful, demanding, insane time –  but I love it!

Of course I want to win. I don’t enter  things like this planning to fail.  That competitive part of me  is cued and  ready to go.  The practical part of me is saying what are you thinking? Yeah, it’s crazy in there. I accept it and move on. What else am I going to do? Live, laugh, have some wine!

NANO  is an opportunity to push yourself. NANO is a time to embrace the creative ideas that flood my brain. The goal is to WRITE! No editing, no revising,  no research – just WRITE! It’s kind of freeing but it’s kind of scary as well.

I have a plan. I have broken my scenes/chapters into 30 day segments. This is  a modified version of Lazette’s when she shared on my blog before. When you see a method that someone shares that is different from your own, examine it, scrutinize it,  dissect it. Take the parts that work for you and disregard the rest. Eventually you come up with a  method that is uniquely yours that fits you.  I think I’ve found that method for myself and I’m excited to  give it  a test run. That’s also part of what NANO is for me.

Do you NANO? Which side are you on,  prep or panic?

I’m prepped and ready to go. Just a case of pre-race jitters at the moment!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

Unceasing


It’s been a while since I’ve made one of my Monday Mojo posts. I’ve thought about it,  debated over it, let the time pass me by, but it’s come down to a case of necessity.

Maybe it’s just me,  maybe it’s  a common thing, I really don’t know. What I do know is this: vacation time is a necessity. I’ve said before that I thought vacation time was essential and I’ve even made my case for it. However, coming off of the backside of vacation the necessity is crystalline.

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This was my morning view for a week. Coffee,  my bullet journal, notebooks, and  ocean waves. The stress and strain slowly melted away. It didn’t happen the first day.  I was up at 5 am, not by choice.  Hotel mattresses aren’t the best and my back was hurting, so . . . up at 5 am  it was.  YES, on vacation. It sucks. Sort of.

So, up at 5 against my will, I started the coffee pot and donned the sweat jacket. Most mornings I was out on the balcony before sunrise. I never thought I’d ever say that. Sitting in a hard plastic chair, with a hot cup of joe, staring out at the ocean under  moonlight and listening to the waves caress the beach in its rhythmic cycle worked its magic in chipping off the stress that had built up over the past year.

The pressure builds slowly,  so slowly that it doesn’t register with us until it’s relieved. That’s how I was.  That’s how most of us are.  Maybe if you are an adrenaline junkie and you go do wild and crazy things on the weekends like base jumping,  then you don’t have that built up pressure. For the less adventurous of us, we work on a regular schedule,  knuckling through the day/week/month over and over not even realizing that it’s building.

Life has stress. Family gives us stress. Relationships give us stress. Our jobs give us stress.

I had been looking forward to a vacation, because it’s always nice to get away. I couldn’t even think about anything before Penned Con was over. My husband couldn’t take off before now because of production deadlines at his work. As adults, we don’t always get to do what we want when we want to do them. Sometimes we have to do unpleasant things because they are the responsible things to do and we have people depending on us.  Then, we get the chance to get away and somewhere between the first day and the trip back home,  you realize just how wound up and stressed out you’ve been.

Clarity –  it’s one of the side effects of being refreshed. 

During those early morning sessions on the balcony, yes it happened every morning except one, I breathed in deeply and exhaled the stale air of daily living. I shook off the tension that had built up over time and had been weighing me down. I have pages and pages  in both my bullet journal and story notebook that I logged in those early morning hours.

Time. Time to think, examine, search, ask questions. I realize that I am probably the last one in the boat on this but bear with me. In the words of Ferris Beuller, life moves pretty fast. Sometimes you get carried along life’s highway and find yourself at a spot where you aren’t really clear how exactly you got there, if you want to get back to point A or move onto point C, D, or Xeta.

I know for a fact that I don’t want to continue with how things have been in my life prior to this time away. My fitness level is at an all time low,  my self-esteem falling rapidly back to a low spot, my confidence withering, and the  home environment has not been a place of peace.

When you reach those types of crossroads,  you can either accept  life status quo or make changes towards the direction of your dreams.

I was at a point of feeling like why am I bothering trying to make a career of writing. I had someone close to me say just before penned con that it was a ‘glorified ego trip’, an expensive hobby. They quickly apologized for expressing it so bluntly but  things like that don’t come out of your mouth unless that is what they are thinking.  It always starts with a thought.

Are they right? Am I chasing a dream that I don’t have the talent to achieve? That was something else they said a few years ago.

Sitting on that balcony alone before the world began to stir, I asked myself questions. What if they are right? What if I never try? What if they are wrong? What do I WANT to do? 

I have to admit, and this is no secret to anyone that knows me or tunes in here very often.  I struggle with time management,  I struggle to stay on task with a project.  I have multiple books in my files that haven’t been published. One canceled contract,  another withdrawn contract, and very soon a contract ending. Maybe they are right. But my best work isn’t out there.

I feel good about some of the things I’ve written.  The Faere Warrior,  does anyone remember that one? It is actually book 2 of a Fae series, set aside to work on book 1.  I got discouraged and set it aside.  Kiss of the Dragon, remember that one?  I worked my butt off writing that and even had part of the second one, Embrace the Dragon written, then some critical comments and a withdrawn contract and I shelved it. Valkyrie’s Curse, started as a serial on Storytime Trysts.  I expanded it, revised it, and it became a series, planned for six books. Then there were differences with the publisher, it was put off,  pushed back and I shelved it.

Do I just give up too easy?  Do I not have the right stuff?  

The waves continued against the shore. Some crashed against the sand, others rolled in gently, some curled back outward to meet the next one.

Why do I push myself to write, then give up on myself?

I have this self-sabotaging cycle that I seem to be caught in.

On the third day of vacation, we were sitting on the deck of the hotel, overlooking the ocean. The waves were gentle, the water became crystal clear. Just like that,  you could see the shells and fish in the water from 100 yards away. In that moment, clarity also came to my mind. The waves have not ceased, they still came in, but they were gentle. Unceasing, never ending, relentless.

What did I want out of this life?

For me. What goals do I have for just me, not my marriage, not my kids,  not my parents or friends,  but for myself?  It’s not wrong to have aspirations.  It’s not wrong to have ambitions.

Why did I want to write?

Because I feel that it is something I can do and do well.  I want to inspire someone else the way that Tolkien inspired me.  I want someone to connect the way Twain did for me.  I want someone to be entertained and laugh the way that Louise Rennison made me laugh.  I want to inspire, encourage, entertain others.  I am an encourager.  Inspiring or entertaining others is part of being an encourager. I’m your biggest cheerleader and my own worst enemy.

Then why would I consider giving up my dream?

Words that someone else says to me? NO

Their fear or lack of confidence in me? NO

Because it’s too hard? NO

I had no good reason to give up but I had every reason in the world to keep at it,  to relentlessly, unendingly, unceasingly pursue my dreams.

I may fail but I’d rather try and fail than to never try at all. At least I will know that I gave it my best effort.

My best effort –  well that was a different matter. My best was far from what I’ve been doing lately.  There needs to be several changes occur in order for me to do my best.

That’s where I start. Get my house in order,  clear out the clutter of our house and my mind.

I don’t expect everyone to get aboard my dream train. In fact,  I rather expect some resistance and maybe even some sabotage.

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The plan is simple. That’s part of the clarity.  I need simple in my life.

Step 1 – WRITE! Step 2- See step 1.

Write on my friends, write on. I know I will.

Ellie

 

 

 

 

Success in September


Ah September!

There’s a promise of cooler weather, at least some of the days. I am looking forward to fall fests! Our local town will be holding  an Octoberfestus, (Town name is Festus –  I thought it was cute) which is the end of September and beginning of October. Penned Con is coming up fast!

As usual, my to-do list for the month is lengthy. I know, none of you are surprised.

Before I get to the point of  what I wanted to say, I’m going to  take a little side trip. A bit about the to-do list and  the  over scheduling – I went to a training class this past week where we had to do a personality quiz, (yeah, I’ve done those many times and crazy thing – they always come out the same)  and surprise,  I am an overachiever. Was I supposed to be surprised? I mean come on, I could have told them the results before  I ever had to take that stupid quiz. Let’s see on one test – I am

Was I supposed to be surprised? I mean come on, I could have told them the results before  I ever had to take that stupid quiz. Let’s see on one test – I am a choleric/sanguine. On another, the Myer-Briggs I am ENTP,  and on this one – called a DISC test I am a D/I which al translate basically to the same thing –  Type A overachiever.   I’m going to address this again maybe next week,  but for now . . . I was just aggravated that 1. I was required to attend this stupid training class which I have already done before a few years ago and am only required to attend because the director revamped  the courses, but the content is basically the same. Why do I and many of the others have to redo these stupid courses because he feels the need to micromanage and has to redo everything repeatedly? This is the types of things that stress me out. Someone else’s stupidity shouldn’t become a crisis for others. But that’s what happens when you  get a spoiled toddler in charge of things, they get upset and take their ball home when they don’t’ get their way. Or else they make ridiculous requirements for others. Not that I have strong opinions  or anything.

Back to the main point – Success in September.

Part of succeeding at something is planning to succeed.  I am a firm believer in planning. I don’t always follow through, sometimes I change the plans midstream, and other times I toss out the plan altogether.  The point is,  it’s a compass heading.  I have a rough map and a direction to head in.

My success plan for this month is mainly focused on health and fitness. I focused on getting back in my daily habit of writing last month. I plan to continue that while adding another ball in the juggling mix.  Getting myself back to a healthy lifestyle. How in the world did I get so far off track? Oh gosh, who knows! One slight deviation here, a wrong turn there, then  continuing on that path and I find myself miles away from my intended destination. I’m not doing any crazy diet or extreme fitness program.

I shared on Monday with my cover reveal that I get my rights back for my first book in November. I have many many books that are backlogged to be released. Which means I have a lot of work to do to clean them up and  make them presentable to the world. I can’t do that if I am running on empty. The past several months have been  draining for me. Stress has been a constant from various  sources.

Not focusing on the  ” it’s been a bad several months” part, I’ trying to turn things around for the good.  I need to get back to being in charge of myself and my life. I am going to be the captain of Steamship Mack and I am going to need some fuel in the tank.  I have  just a couple points I am going to focus on.

  1. Eating healthy foods in appropriate portions.
  2. Daily movement. Starting off  with just ten minutes of movement,  by the end of the month I plan to be active for thirty minutes a day.

Sounds simple enough right? Well the overachiever part of me has already been fighting my beginning point. ” You should be able to do at least fifteen minutes starting off.” I had to remind myself of the  guidance in a medical journal that stated, to START SLOW in order to avoid injury. I tend to ignore that voice and I’ve injured myself by pushing too far too fast.

I’m not ignoring  that guidance this time. I can’t afford the downtime for injury. Besides, it will give me more chances for stars in my bullet journal!

What are your goals for the month? What area are you focusing on?

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

30 Days of Sass


"Times past count I done the Tell. But it weren't me that tumbled Walker. 
It was Savannah. So it's only right that she take the Tell."
"This ain't one body's story. It's the story of us all. We got it mouth-to-mouth.
You got to listen it and 'member.'Cause what you hears today you got to tell 
the birthed tomorrow.

I'm looking behind us now. . . across the count of time. . .down the long haul,
into history back. I sees the end what were the start. It's Pox-Eclipse, full of 
pain! . . . but some had got the luck, and it leads them here. . . Time counts 
and keeps counting.

And they does the pictures so they'd'member all the knowing that they lost. 

'Member this?" (dialog excerpt from 'The tell of Captain Walker; Mad Max Beyond 
Thunderdome.)
14123536_10155172587680031_1888954358_o (2)'Member when I said I was so excited I could hardly 
wait to share?
30 Days

Well, today I get to share! WOOHOO!

The countdown is ticking towards hitting my 500th post! Can you believe it?  Wow! That seems nearly impossible. This is a good example though of how a little each day adds up. Which is a good lesson to keep in mind for the overwhelming task of making a full-length

Can you believe it?  Wow! That seems nearly impossible. This is a good example though, of how a little each day adds up. Which is a good lesson to keep in mind for the overwhelming task of making a full-length novel.

pennedcon (1)

Penned Con is  coming up as well, September 23rd and 24th. I wanted  to have something new, something fresh. Many of you know that I have multiple irons in the fire. First, I had to decide which project I was going to focus on. Valkyrie’s Curse was waiting to be read by Eclectic Bard Books. As I had listed that as the next book to follow Red Wine & Roses,  I had to focus on that one. I am not good at waiting.

So . . . news on that front, as of November 18, 2016 I will no longer be with Eclectic Bard Books.

What does that mean?

First off,  all rights to Red Wine & Roses will revert to me  on that date. Eclectic Bard Books has relinquished their first rights to any of my future work as of November 18, 2016. Valkyrie’s is mine. Kiss of the Dragon is mine. Faere Warrior is MINE!

Secondly, I wanted to do something to  benefit Action for Autism, the charitable organization that Penned Con supports. After much urging on my husband’s part and encouragement from  several others, I took their strong urgings to pursue this project, which is more like the opinion column I used to write for the local newspaper, Suburban Journal. Apparently, there are some people that appreciate my delicate sense of smartassness.  My sagacious wit is what landed me the gig on the column years ago, and seems to be one of the reasons that many come back to read my posts on here.

Sometimes our talents take is in a different direction than what we intend. I  envisioned myself as writing a series of romance novels but my writing is less about romance and more about other things.

So here it is . . . . drumroll . . .

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TADA!

Quotidiandose: 30 Days of Sass is now available.

This collection of daily musings combines edgy, funny, practical, everyday reality with a dose of personal sass. There are life-lessons in the words that are applicable for everyone. I hope they will put a smile on your face and brighten your day!

Genre: Nonfiction, humor, encouragement.

This collection is taken from the top 50 posts on ‘Quotidiandose, revised and expanded with additional commentary and . . . well I’m not going to candy coat it, a lot more sass. *shrugs*

A portion of all print copy sales will go towards Action for Autism.

In addition,  I have 4 tickets available for Penned Con! These tickets cover the 2-day event and includes:  signing rooms, panels, & keynote speakers. Travel, hotel, & meals are NOT included.

If you are thinking about going, which I highly recommend, or are in the area and want to swing over for a day of author madness…inbox me on my Facebook account! Ellie Mack Author 

First come first serve!

Thank you to every one of my followers for reading my words of wit and wisdom, or sarcasm as the case may be more appropriately stated. Thank  you for encouraging me!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

Trailblazing on the Wine Trail!


Girl Wearing Walking Boots Hiking Up A Mountain

I mentioned last year some time that I was working on a wine tour  tie in for a book tour.  For those that don’t know, Missouri has some of the best wineries! There are several wine trails, numerous wineries,  and wonderful locations to visit.

Fall is just around the corner, can you believe it? I’m looking forward to the cooler weather for certain!

Our local town is having an Oktoberfest celebration. That centers around beer,  but we may have to participate in it anyway.

These celebrations and special events at the wineries are lining up during the cooler fall months,  which  holds a great deal of potential for possibilities. This is where my planner comes in. Just when you thought I had set aside the bullet journal, it resurfaces.

If it weren’t for my bullet journal I’d be drowning by now with numerous balls dropped. Sadly I had to admit I dropped a few even with the planner but that was because of my own overachiever tendencies. I”m juggling as fast as I can. I have made myself a promise that I can’t add any new balls to the  act until the others are taken out of rotation either by completion or being dropped. I hate to drop them. I really hate to drop them. I am doing better about not taking on new projects.

Thanks to my morning writing buddy, she has encouraged me to focus on one project at a time.  In doing so, I have been breaking down the tasks in my planner. This is really working well for me. It’s more than a to-do list.  using the calendar to schedule dates that I should accomplish specific tasks from the overall project have helped me progress forward. Ideally, I should be able to just do it but that isn’t the case. Left to my own I find  creative time-wasting activities that do not help in progressing me towards my goals.

I would think that the older I get, the more second nature these things would be but it seems to be the opposite. I can’t wing it like I used to. I have to make myself a list or I forget. I must have a list to keep myself on task when my mind is wanting to do anything else.

Yesterday I sort of spilled the beans about my latest project. In working on this, it has  rekindled the fires that I had nearly let go out.  Renewed, invigorated, and  reminded how I’ve let myself become derailed. No problem, set a new course! The only problem is I find myself in a situation akin to my first encounter of orienteering. For those of you who don’t know, orienteering is a sort of race where you are given a compass and a map and you find your way to the specific markers in a specific order in a timed event. Picture this, a fourteen year old girl, her stodgy teacher, a compass shared between us and a map. I got the map. I didn’t care about the compass. I understood maps. A topographic map of the park where the event was held with a trail marked on the map. Easy peasy right? WRONG!

Things look different at ground level than from a bird’s-eye view. We found ourselves in a thicket of brambles that blocked the direct path (a short cut because I was a newbie and we had taken a long time to find the first marker) to the second marker. No problem. We’d simply go around. Going around involved climbing up  a six-foot embankment, crossing a shallow creek then ascending the embankment on the opposite side. The opposite side was muddy. It was slippery and  we ended up going further upstream to climb up,  where the water had deepened in the small creek to about ten feet across, maybe six feet at the deepest point.. We managed to climb out of the creek bed and find the path at the top. It was a short distance to where the marker was. YAY! I ran in my enthusiasm towards it,  not hearing the yells of the teacher until it was too late and my head banged into a low hanging hornet’s nest. Literally a hornet’s nest! They were instantly pissed and on the attack. We ran back towards the creek, basically taking a flying leap from the top of the embankment. We waited out the hornets but not before several got us both. We still had three more markers to find and we were way behind schedule.

Let me just say, I have learned to listen to my teachers since then. We were soaking wet, with several hornet stings, and our map was now useless as it deteriorated in the water.  Just before dark,  the group had sent out a search party for us. My teacher had twisted his ankle climbing back up from the creek, so we were moving slower than ever. I never went back for a second attempt, I was too embarrassed at my failure.  I was fourteen. Today I would take the map and compass and find my way through their stupid maze and be done.

So how is it similar? So glad you asked.  That point where we found ourselves faced with a hedge of brambles blocking our path, then having to detour around. . . yup I’m right back there again. Well, I was.  LIke I said, in working on this project, I’ve rekindled the fires.

YOu don’t realize the fire is dwindling until you are left with just embers that are about to die out. I have to retrace some steps and find a new route. I can do this. You can do the same in your own life. It’s never to late to make changes unless you are si feet under. We aren’t there yet so there is still time to do some trail blazing!

Any day above ground is a good day!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

Life’s A Beach


A beach that I can’t seem to get to.

Hello, everyone! It’s ridiculously sweltering here in the armpit of Satan, I mean the midwest.

I get to take a breather for a few before diving back in. Unfortunately, it’s not diving into any form of water. The past few weeks  have had me buried under editing, beta reading, revisions, and our resale business.  I will be the first to admit, I don’t need any more irons in the fire.

Two edit jobs are off my desk! Whew!

Revisions for my next project are completed! Double Whew!

Secret project will be revealed soon –  I am stoked! Initially, I had thought to offer this for free. However, Penned Con in St. Louis is coming up rapidly! I wanted to do something to help their charitable cause for Action for Autism. That’s when I got this idea.

I want to tell you.  I want to shout it from the rooftops but I can’t. Not yet.

Therefore, as my 500th post approaches, my project is going through the meat grinder and I wait. Impatiently I might add.  My fingers are crossed for this one!

I have a secret project that I am dying to tell you but I can’t share yet.  You know I am terrible at keeping secretes right? Argghhhh!

Meanwhile,  I dream of getting away to the beach. That won’t happen until these details are addressed. I haven’t been avoiding my blog family and followers, I’ve been busy busy busy trying to  finish this idea! Plus, it keeps me from spilling the beans prematurely.

Keep watching! Stay tuned. It’s coming.

Write on my friends, write on!