Moving right along

It’s been a little stressful the last couple of weeks. I’m changing day jobs, which is exciting, but it hasn’t been without challenges. There is training to do at the old job, although the crew is finally stable again. The new job is still developing and needs flexibility more than anything at this point. Since my personal motto is Sempre Gumby, I’m fine with that. With a little luck, in a couple weeks this will all be a thing of the past, and it’s fun to build it from the ground up. Plus it’s admin, close to home, comes with paid vacation, and I get to work with grown-ups!

The biggest downside of all of this is the impact it’s had on my writing. I’m very behind for the month and there isn’t a chance of catching up this week. Next week might be better. I suspect it’s going to be baby steps as I walk away from the old job and into the new.

I’d like to think this will be a blip, that I’ll be able to catch up and power through the first draft of the first book. Right now, it’s little drips here and there, like Chinese Water Torture. I’ve kept up the writing every day streak. Most days it’s only a couple hundred words. It’s hard to focus and figure out what comes next when I have all the other details begging for attention. Don’t even get me started on the size of my laundry pile. I’m going to have to pay attention to that just so I have something to wear to work next week.

Stay tuned for updates!

Just When You Thought You’d Seen It All

He came in toward the end of my shift, mid-week. He was pretty non-descript, blond with scruffy facial hair, 40-ish. He went right for the cups, so I figured he’d been in before. First timers usually look around and stare at the monitors behind the registers like they’re menu boards.

A few minutes later he came to the topping bar with a cup of Italian ice. I wasn’t paying too much attention, but from the corner of my eye I saw his hand come out of the bin with the gummy butterflies. His hand. A grown man, close to my age, ignored the tongs and reached in with his hand.

Pro tip #1: If you touch it, I have to throw the rest away. I can forgive that with little kids sometimes if the parents are trying to keep them under control and the kid gets impatient. It stops being cute when it’s done by someone older than 4.

My shock must have shown on my face because he looked at me and said, “There were hardly any left.”

I laughed. I knew he was right, and they were heading toward stale anyway. I picked up the bin, offered him more, and put it behind the counter when he said he had enough.

I weighed it. Fourteen ounces. It was nine bucks and change.

He looked at me like he hadn’t heard right. “Almost $10?”

“Yes, sir, you have fourteen ounces at fifty-nine cents an ounce.”

He pulled out a ten and handed it to me, sputtering the whole time about how expensive it was. He called it obscene.

Usually, I say something non-comital when that happens, but this guy touched gummies with his hands. I was already irritated. “That’s pretty standard in this industry. I even saw that price in Las Vegas.”

He scoffed. “Well, yeah, but you’re just talking about frozen yogurt, right?”

“Well, yes, because why am I going to compare fro yo to anything else?” Apples? Oranges?

“You could compare it to something, I don’t know, a tenth the price.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed and shook my head. Like a reasonable person would compare frozen yogurt to a frosty? (Yes, we get that a lot, actually.)

Pro tip #2: $0.59 an ounce is about what you should expect to pay at a fro yo shop. Italian ice is heavier than frozen yogurt. Toppings add even more weight. If you’re on a budget, don’t fill your cup, and ask if you can do a test weigh if you’re not sure. We do that all the time.

He was still muttering when he left. I don’t think he’ll be back. If I’d thought about it, I’d have implied I was going to charge him for the gummies I had to throw away. Lucky for both of us, he left before I did.

March Wrap Up

Wow, that month went fast. It’s been a ‘head down and gitter done’ kind of month. It wasn’t without disappointment, though. I realized yesterday if I pushed a little bit more, I could double my word count for the year. I tried. I stared at the screen, turned on some music, and pestered Walter The Muse, but there were no words. I finally saved everything I’d already done and walked away, planning to hit it again after dinner. It didn’t happen. I missed my goal by 895 words.

I’m actually not too broken up about it. It was a really good month despite the day job challenges. I continued my streak of writing every day, and put in nearly 57 hours. Total word count for the month was 27,443, bringing year to date to 55,781.

I also read quite a bit. Currently I’m reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield (I read it often and highly recommend it), and “The Story Equation” by Susan May Warren. I also read all of Susan May Warren’s Heiress Trilogy (“Heiress,” “Baroness,” and “Duchess”) again.

Based on my progress this month, I’m awfully glad I went to Deep Thinkers last month. It seems to be just what I needed to get things rolling. Here’s to April!

Balance

My day job hours are increasing a lot in the next two weeks. I have a coworker on vacation, and another who changed shifts suddenly, so the morning shifts were decimated. I’m training a new person this week, so it’s temporary, but it will eat a lot of my time short term.

As we walked into church on Sunday, I told Eric it seems like the two jobs never go well at the same time. If I have a lot of time to write, I freeze up and stare at the screen. When I’m on a roll, the day job explodes and eats my time.

As usual, that was me preaching to myself: It’s about balance. It’s about art and pay. If the art doesn’t pay, something else has to until it does. In the meantime, all you can to is the best you can do.

I wrote a few thousand extra words last week. It’s possible, although not probable, I could break 30k for the month. I’d be happy with 25k, which is entirely probable. The goal is to write every day. I’m not worried about word count right now. I have a streak going–I’ve worked every day since Feb. 7. I just need to keep the streak going, and the book will get done. The stubborn is still going strong.

Progress

So far, so good.

Last week I beat my word count goal by 369 words despite not making the minimum goal any day except Saturday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I was certain I wouldn’t make it, but I hit the right combination of coffee and music, and pushed it through the goal.

This week is shaping up to be similar, although I’m getting my butt kicking days in earlier. In a perfect world, I’ll get this week’s words in early and get about half of next week done, too. My day job hours spike next week, but part of them will be spent training the opener I just hired. The downside of that is I will likely not have time to write at work, hence my plan to start early. I’ll have the words done at the end of the month even if, on paper, I don’t make the goal next week.

As of this writing, the WIP is over 22,000 words. I’m to the point where I thought I would cut and paste from a short story, but it’s in the POV of the wrong character, so it will take heavy editing. Still, that should go faster than creating from whole cloth.

So it looks like I really do want this. Just don’t tell the universe. I don’t know if I can take any more surprises.

Game On

It’s been an interesting few days. Interesting in the Chinese curse sense.

I came home from Deep Thinkers with a writing and marketing plan for the first three Balphrahn books. I sat down and looked at what I have written and decided it was feasible to have the series done this year, and that I needed to aim for 780 words a day. Every day. That’s 780 book words and doesn’t include blogs. I did build in a month of time off for illness and/or travel.

It’s doable, if everyone cooperates.

They haven’t.

Last week, one of my openers sent out a group text that she needed to take care of her grandmother in the mornings and couldn’t open any more starting the next day. She had four open shifts a week. Of my other openers, one has another job, one can only work weekends, and one is in school. That leaves me.

My boss set up some interviews for Saturday so we could get some help on day shift. As I was getting ready for bed Friday night, I told Eric even though I had to work on Saturday, at least I didn’t have to be in uniform.

Saturday morning, I got up, poured my first cup of coffee, and turned on my iPad. I had a text message from my weekend opener that she couldn’t go to work and no one else could cover, so would I mind?

Yes. Yes, I did mind. She pulls double shifts on the weekends, and I had evening plans. In the end, I put on my uniform, my boss came in early to help me, and I got someone else to cover the night shift. (I still missed my evening plans.)

By the time I got to work, I felt very put out. I told my boss I felt like the universe looked over my shoulder at my lofty plans and said, “OK, kid, let’s see how bad you want this.” And if that’s how it wants to play, game on.

As soon as I said it, my whole attitude changed. I shifted from victim to warrior.

Long story short, the other girls have stepped up and I only have to cover 2 of the extra shifts. If it works out, I’ll go back to only doing paperwork on Monday, and have two mid-week shifts. It’s not as bad as it could be, or as bad as it has been.

The series is going to get done. I’m going to move hell and high water to finish it this year. I might have to make adjustments, but even if I miss the mark, I’ll still have more done this year than I did last year.

How bad do I want it? Game on.

There’s No Place Like Rainy England

 

Life has been busier than I’d like lately. One of my coworkers at the day job has had family issues, which means more shifts for some of us. It wouldn’t be as big a deal except I’m at a place in the story where I have to figure out logistics. I’ve never ridden a dragon. It’s been a couple decades since I last rode a horse. But Charlie needs to learn to ride dragons, so I have to figure out how they do that. There really isn’t a lot of research available on the topic.

I’ve found, when I come to a prickly spot I need to think through, it’s best to go someplace away from the house (and my needy cats) and work it out on paper. There’s a new coffee shop in town, and they make better coffee that the national chains we have around here, so I put on clothes and make-up and ventured forth. I snagged the last parking spot on the block and paid for an hour of parking.

The coffee shop was packed. And I’d paid for a whole hour of parking. You might think my luck ran out, but it didn’t! I had ear buds and Rain In England on my white noise generator phone app. My phone battery was even charged.

I cranked it up because the guy sitting two seats from me was nattering on about his invalid mother-in-law. Goodness, so much talking!

In the end, it was productive. I got three pages of notes and, as I was thinking of going home, Eric invited me to come have lunch with him. I was half a mile from the train station with enough time to catch in inbound train, so of course I went to lunch. Now I’m finally settling in to get started on the scenes I brainstormed in the rain at the coffee shop that (sadly) was not in England.