“The world is violent and mercurial…”

The world is violent and mercurial — it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love — love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.

– Tennessee Williams

Today it feels like the world is ending. The lightning strikes from the past weekend have left all of California burning and smoking. I ventured out at noon today to buy groceries; I earned a headache for my troubles. The air was gray and hazy or a menacing orange. The children are inside and restless despite their nanny’s attentions. Even the Beast is on edge.

I feel the baby thumping in my belly and I feel oddly calm. He was conceived in a pandemic, and now there is a firestorm, and God only knows where we’ll be by Christmastime, when he’ll come into this world. 

Despite all these horrors the path forward is clear: nourish this little person, give him birth, nurse and feed and nuzzle him, keep his brother and sister thriving. Put my faith in certain things: the love of my husband, the gentle, honest, funny attention of friends near and far, the quiet presence of God, like an immense whale swimming beneath my raft. 

For all its frustrations the quarantine has been restorative in unexpected ways. I find our marriage bond deepening. We are less troubled by things that don’t really matter (though I confess a certain blind optimism about our employment, to be sure, that other people do not enjoy). We enjoy having the children cuddle up in our bed in the mornings, watching them grow and chatter and play together. Before bedtime, they climb on him and squeal with delight as he bounces them. We talk about them before we go to sleep at night, laughing about CC’s escapades and HR’s sturdy charm.

I am getting on my (swollen) feet more and more. I bought a treadmill to go under my desk and I am stomping through my meetings to reach 10-14k steps a day (today I did twelve thousand). I am able to cook dinners again, both for myself and the family. Food still repulses me a little. I have a special affection for potatoes at the moment.

We have put together a list of things to take with us in case of evacuation. Tonight we’ll pack some of it. I hope it doesn’t happen, but I have a core of steel in me when it comes to disasters. If the house burns down, then it burns down. All I care about is these people I love, and making it through together. 

I was listening to my favorite piece of music while I was working today–Rachmaninoff’s Divine Liturgy. The communion hymn is so beautiful; to give a visual interpretation, it sounds like all these little streams of song flowing together. The communion of saints! It caught my attention and I paused to listen to the alleluias. 

However, my favorite hymn is the last one–Glory to the Father. The singing builds to a single high note, sustained for only two or three seconds, but it is a sublime moment. It has always pierced me through to the heart, and on occasion I’ve cried. I don’t know what the word or phrase is, but oh–it seizes me like nothing else.

Glory to God for all things.

“…the word identity was originally derived from the Latin words essentitas, which means being, and identidem, which means repeatedly. Your identity is literally your “repeated beingness.”

the word identity was originally derived from the Latin words essentitas, which means being, and identidem, which means repeatedly. Your identity is literally your “repeated beingness.”

Last night I finished a book called Atomic HabitsIt is a bit relentless with the anecdotal stories but the essence of the book was very useful. What is key is that habits are how we embody our identity, which means that we are indeed what we repeatedly do. It advises: decide the type of person you want to be; then prove it to yourself with small wins. Habits are not about having something. They are about becoming someone.

What I find challenging about this prospect is that you–and I–are never really done with becoming. Imagine winning a trophy for being A Good Mom, and then you can put it out of mind; but of course that is not possible. Motherhood is a state of being supported by process–by a trillion little actions. Nursing. Wiping butts. Explaining death, God, and the color wheel.

The impatient part of me wishes I could have my trophy and then be done, but that’s neither plausible nor truly desirable. We are becoming, always–perpetually leaning into the north wind, or the south wind, or something. We never really stay still.

So, habits are a system to support the kind of becoming I desire. The question is: in what direction do I want to grow?

Everything on pause

I am on pause. My life feels like it’s on pause, although I know intellectually that it isn’t. The children are growing like weeds and adding more words and ideas and questions to their arsenal daily. I cook most dinners; chicken and spaghetti and salads and rice. I am still tied to my laptop Monday through Friday, and paychecks are still being deposited in my bank account, and the days are passing–I am even interviewing for a new job!–but every hour bleeds into the next and it seems like time is standing still.

Perhaps it’s the repetitiveness of the days, coupled with the doom in the news. California seems to be holding its breath, waiting for the coronavirus to hit with the same force that it hit NYC and Italy. Everyday the children do the same thing, whether it’s Tuesday or Saturday. Get up; eat; play; nap; bath; bed. We do largely the same.

I can’t seem to rouse an interest in reading or drawing or writing. I’m not depressed; the recurring insomnia that was plaguing me for a while has disappeared. I can even take naps in the afternoon now without it bothering my sleep at night. Dreams are, however, exceptionally vivid. I am relaxed to the point of paralysis, it feels like. My mind is aimless, grasping at nothing, not even fear.

Once in a while, Carter and I get out to purchase groceries and it feels like we are teenagers let out of school. We went at sunset, just as the golden orange sun was shining through the windshield, blinding us. It feels like a date, I told him, while we were at the parking lot of the Super Target in Atwater. Like bad sex is still sex–this date is still a date. We were buying a little plastic slide for the backyard and cornstarch for slime, brownie mix for Grandma.

Everything feels so mundane and boring and yet we know that we are living through an exceptional circumstance. It feels very strange. I feel like aspic; a mote of coconut suspended in lychee jelly; an oversweet cherry floating in gelatin. What life will look like in a month’s time, we have no idea, except that in the meantime we will continue on in this sleepy Central Californian town, adding words to vocabularies and cooking chicken and drifting through the days.

“…for the growing good of the world…”

“..for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” -Middlemarch, George Eliot

Lately I have been thinking about rootedness and its opposite. Being a woman in midlife, with young children at her feet, this seems very important (all of a sudden).

The default human life is one of rootedness. Of one generation handing off the same fields, farms, traditions, foodways, pots and gods and dances to the next. For the whole of humanity’s existence, I would dare to guess that most (definitely not all) people lived and died not far from where they were born, with people who were much like them. Perhaps you moved a few days’ walk from your natal village. Obviously there were always upheavals–wars, migration, slavery, nomadic life–but most humans sought a permanent, settled existence.

Modern life is not like that at all. By my count, I’ve lived at eighteen addresses throughout my life–that’s a move every 2 years or so, scattered across three continents and on the east and west coasts of these United States. The upshot is that I have family and friends scattered everywhere, and nowhere.

These days I think a great deal about that nowhere. The internet and telephones have given us the illusion of their presence, but of course friends and family are not actually there in the flesh. We think the illusion is enough, we hope that it is, because what other choice is there?

Capitalism has reshuffled everything. It picks and chooses. The invisible hand pushes. It takes the workers that are ideal for its purposes and it gathers them in a few select places. The workers are necessarily unrooted. It is not economical or optimal to bring the entire extended family. Just that one prime person will do.

“Putting down roots” is an interesting phrase. It supposes that roots can grow anywhere. Supposing that they can–if you yank them out and replant them, the plant will always grow unevenly. Stunted. And–do roots mean anything on a human level if children and parents and dear friends and cousins and aunts and grandparents are separated? We are, I think, not so much rooted as intertwined.

The modern ethos touts mobility and choice as essential human goods. I’m beginning to disagree.

“4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.”

“Notes to myself on beginning a painting” by Richard Diebenkorn.

Ten days into the new year. An episode of vomiting from the baby took up most of the evening. Carter and I scurried around the house, washing rugs and herding toddlers to bed and doing laundry. He feels more spent than I do, with good reason (I put the children to bed while he scrubbed vomit out of rugs/clothes/toys), but we’re both in a pretty reasonable mood. I’m not sure why; pure rude optimism, I guess.

The other thing is that we both have been taking better care of our bodies, of late. He’s lost 30 pounds and has started the Couch to 5k program; I’ve been doing intermittent fasting with the hopes of warding off type 2 ‘beetus. The great mercy of gestational diabetes is putting the fear of God into me with regards to type 2. I feel more connected with my body; I’m abusing food less in order to feel better. I still eat plenty of rice and ice cream and chocolate, but more reasonable amounts. I am hoping against experience that this is a permanent change for me. When the body is healthy, other things–like recovering from a fountain of vomit spewing across the floor–seem more doable.

I saw the on-site therapist yesterday afternoon and that helped balance things out a little more in the mental department. I don’t know if I’ll go back for the same issue–although I have been thinking of talking to a therapist about how to think about food/eating going forward. Whatever changes I make, I want there to be permanent shifts in perspective to accompany them.

I know it’s just the beginning of the year and I am not trying to make any consumer-leaning resolutions, but I sure hope this body thing sticks.

“…it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.”

“That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.” -Joan Didion

Nevermind happy new year; happy new decade! What has happened in the last ten years?

In the fall of 2009 I had moved to the bay area from Los Angeles to begin work in earnest on my dissertation. I had just turned 26, and I was feeling morose to say the least–the academic job market was imploding, I’d broken up with a longtime boyfriend, and I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Up to this point I had (naively?) assumed I would get my PhD, enter the academic job market, and find a position somewhere as a professor and spend the rest of my life buried in books. I threw myself into writing a prospectus and dating, going on long winding evening walks with my roommate, and trying not to give in to the temptation of resurrecting old and dead things. I bought slightly damaged dresses from boutiques, lost weight, and started thinking about what I could do outside the Academy. I went on an embarrassingly awkward first date with a young patent agent who wore a nice sweater and tolerated my roommate-induced tardiness, and my sweatiness, and the fact that I yelled “fiasco” at him when I finally found the right café.

And then–things accelerated–

2010 – passed my comprehensive exams at the same time that I began sending out resumés for non-Academic jobs. Landed a position as a legal assistant at a fancy SF firm where my ears popped on the way up to my office every morning. Flew to NYC and TX for work. Pulled all-nighters for work. Promised young patent agent I was not avoiding him, but literally trapped in a windowless room in a NYC skyscraper.

2011 – Applied to in house legal jobs. Pondered the possibility of law school, with some distaste. Offered a job at tech co! Attended roomie/BF’s impromptu wedding. Moved into Carter’s one-bedroom apartment on Judah, which rattled everytime the Muni went by. Adopted Beast. Carter realized the apartment was too tiny for two people and a growing puppy, so bought a house in the cloudy Sunset. Another move; I don’t think I even unpacked my things from the first move.

2012 – Adapt to life at Tech Co. Attended Xine’s wedding in NY. Started taking art classes at CCSF (beginning drawing, intro to design). First inklings of writing for Side Venture. In early December, Carter proposed.

2013 – wedding planning–a great deal of wedding planning! Learned basic calligraphy; drew and letterpressed wedding invitations. Went to Disneyland. Turned thirty. Got married; honeymooned in France. Enjoyed my father’s visit from China for a month.

2014 – Carter considered law school. Studied for the bar. Applied for law school. He lost his appendix in June in a dramatic fashion. He accepted an offer from Davis. Thereafter we bought small but charming fixer home in Berkeley. Many renovations. Sale of old Sunset house (bless it, but the Sunset is gray and gloomy and depressing AF to live in). Start writing SV in earnest. Moved into Berkeley home in October; Carter began law school, living in Davis on weeknights and commuting home on weekends; conceived and lost first pregnancy in December.

2015 – many existential ponderings about fertility. I couldn’t talk about miscarriage without wanting to weep. More art classes. Spring break in Sonoma; vague attempts to conceive again. SV going well. Intermediate drawing class online (pastels). Fall pregnant with CC in July. Despite nausea, take head & hands drawing class online. Babymoon to Carmel and Big Sur.

2016 – continued to be pregnant. Last edit on SV story the day before I go into labor. Gave birth to CC; NICU; spiral into despair; recovery slow and steady and jagged. Mother’s group. A great deal of blurriness. Baba back to visit in August. A great deal of sorrow upon his leaving in Sept. Come to terms with what motherhood means very slowly. Return to work at Tech Co.

2017 – Created DBA. Wrote SF series. CC turned one. Walks, chatters, is a general delight. Down to San Diego for D’s wedding. Premiered SF pen name for SV; it did okay. Carter graduated law school, taking CC on stage with him to accept his diploma. Went on vacation in Portland for a wedding. Purchase house over the phone while in Portland. Carters tarts working in Big Law.

2018 – Continue writing SF but get pregnant in February. Or was it March? CC turned two. Got gestational diabetes diagnosis; despair briefly but grimly set to tracking food and exercise like never before. Too busy with mothering, pregnancy, working to write very much. Worst wildfires in California history in November, which is also when I gave birth to HR, a very sweet and healthy boy. A little surgery for me late in December. Renovations begin on our fixer upper. Carter is miserable at his firm. I wrote a book in the blurry aftermath of giving birth and publish it; I don’t remember now what I wrote. It did reasonably well, though.

2019 – my God, it passed by so quickly. Baba visited in January-February. I returned to work. CC turned three. Carter quit big law; took sabbatical to finish new house, take care of kids, pack up our things. Starts job at new firm in Oakland. Sold our sweet first home; moved into new house in the middle of the year. Unpack, survive. I write very little, draw almost nothing. I am busier at work than I have ever been in my life. I feel, frankly, that this is not sustainable. Carter and I begin to talk about other possibilities.

And here we are now. I am grateful for where I’ve landed. The greatest shift in the past decade was undoubtedly motherhood. Becoming someone’s wife is a change in perspective, sure, but motherhood is a paradigm shift. I am forced to respond to the needs of others, often over my own wants. Carter and I were watching Lisa’s Saxophone last night and it made both of us wet-eyed. It’s more meaningful now that we are parents, these stories of love and sacrifice for children.

I feel more and more centered in the understanding that relationships are at the core of human meaning and existence. I was rereading some old blog entries from over a decade ago last night, and I had to smile at how bumbleheaded and oblivious I was. I was very self-obsessed. Maybe it was the right mind for that age. I do miss the freedom–I don’t miss the lack of purpose.

Every human thing seems so much more precious and poignant now. Especially CC and HR–but Carter too. I don’t measure myself against other people as much as I used to. I’m a bit kinder, because I have wrestled with my own anxiety and insecurities. I love my body more. My hair is messier, and my wardrobe is blander. I’m chubbier than I’d like to be. I still like to cook. I am turning my face to God more than ever. I don’t think I can look away any more, like there’s no ignoring the sun when it fills the house in the morning.

I can’t (and won’t) guess at what lies ahead. One step at a time into this new decade.

“You were rushing to lick honey off a razor’s edge.”

“You were rushing to lick honey off a razor’s edge.”
― Haemin Sunim, Love for Imperfect Things

Happy new year! It’s 2020, and I am flopped on the couch in the dark while the babies snooze and the dog snores and the husband showers. I have a tradition of writing a journal entry on the last day of the year or the first; I mean to keep it up.

We have survived two weeks without preschool/daycare; I feel faintly dizzy for having made it. And thrived–I think! It was joyous to watch HR go from an unsteady wobble to a more confident waddle, and today to watch him throw himself down the slide at the park. He’s a more adventurous baby (gasp, toddler) than his sister was at the same age. Less cautious, at least when it comes to crawling/walking/running/throwing himself off the changing table.

As for CC she is ready to go back to preschool and be among her peers. It will be jarring for her to be back at preschool tomorrow, I suspect, but good for her and for us. I told her this morning that we were inviting one of her friends over to play this afternoon and she said, delighted, “I like that idea!”. She is four in only a few short months and I’m amazed at how much more mature her speech and ideas are.

As for Carter and I we have come to the end of 2019 in relative peace and good order–as much as that is possible at this stage in life. He sold some old furniture on Craigslist, emptied the house of moving boxes and holiday trash, baked chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon swirl bread. I fed us dumplings and tangyuan, walked the dog and tidied. Yesterday, on Dec 31, it was clear and not too cold. I worried that my period was late. We watched our neighbors across the street throw a new years party. We curled up on the couch and watched The Farewell, which made us both cry. It was peaceful. I haven’t felt that way in a long time.

When it comes to thinking about 2020 I feel reserved, compared to prior years. Normally I am sprinting out of the gate with plans, ideas, expectations, resolutions. I am perhaps finally old enough to appreciate that most of this is vanity and anxiety gussied up in sparkly wrapping paper.

I suppose that if I thought about it carefully, I hope that in 2020 I will do less. Family life at the forefront, naturally, and everything else trailing behind it. There are some big decisions ahead about family size, where we will live, careers, etc., on top of the usual weekly grind about meals, laundry, bills. I hope they will not overwhelm me, or us. I don’t have great plans or expectations this year, just small pearls of optimism that I’m keeping in my back pocket. I want to purchase fewer things. I would like to be more gentle, and less demanding of myself, Carter, the children, my job, and heck, even old Beast snoozing under the piano. The world asks a lot of us–especially mothers–and now I rather push back against it and ask why.

The answer is usually custom or capitalism. Neither of these two things are necessary or inevitable, though sometimes I feel like it’s all we can see, hear, and taste. There are so many musts and shoulds that have tortured me in the past year. It’s helpful to see them for what they are–someone else’s musts and shoulds. They are pure fuel for stress and anxiety, and I do not like it. I’m going to let it pass me by, as many times as I can.

So, 2020. Less. Quiet. Rest. Out of that, who knows what will come (perhaps more nothing, which would be welcome indeed).


“To love at all is to be vulnerable.”

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

– From a section on “Love and Courage” in C.S. Lewis on Love

Gosh, has it really been nearly two years since I last wrote here? I suppose it has! And what have I done in those two years? Well: conceived another baby and carried him, gave birth to him during the season of wildfires, and raised him to a sweet-eyed, toddling one-year-old. It has been easier this round. I am getting the hang of this baby nonsense. I wrote another book and started yet another, though these are not very good.

I have not much in the way of hobbies or little luxuries and am neck-deep in entanglements of all kinds. So many entanglements. Love stories are romantic and charming, but they really do not account for how love clobbers you over the head or bites you on the ankle–or breast–or drools into your mouth. Love has me watching the way lights from the cars on the street outside paint the living room walls for moments during the witching hours of the night.

I have written very little this year because I have been busy in love. Negotiating with a toddler, nursing a baby, shaking pasta into pots, burping a baby (and then feeling a stripe of milky vomit splash down my back), changing many many diapers and filling water bottles and walking the dog, whether it’s hot or cold or burning or raining. Moving to a new house two blocks away. Buying new rugs and shaking out old ones, packing and unpacking dozens of tiny onesies as baby fattens up. Pumping milk, thawing meat, mixing formula, buying graham crackers in bulk, shoving groceries into the freezer. It’s astonishing how quickly it blurs by.

Work-work is obviously absent from this list. I’m not in love with that, although there are people and bits about it that I like. Work-work is a means to an end. In years past I would have worried about work-work as a matter of pride, but that’s not where I am today. I try not to let work-work bother me all too much (although it does sometimes, I’ll admit), because it’s not all that important to my identity or purpose.

The things that trouble me nowadays are cares about the people that I love. Mostly: my children, husband, and home. Family and friends encircling that, and the world on which we all live. I trust that there is a grand design, and that I have my share of work in love still to do for a long while yet. There is nothing better than this.

Things I get a lot of: downy-silky baby hair, drool, “so many fings”, a growing tolerance for insomnia, a slowly blossoming love of meditation, laundry, meal plans.

Things I don’t get enough of: vegetables, solitude, sweat, order, focus, clarity, drawing time, piano practice, writing, certainty.

So, love has worn me down some these past two years. My pregnant body was briefly diabetic, then it was emptied, now it’s jiggly and salt & pepper-haired and my breasts are a little closer to the earth than they used to be. As for my brain–it seethes with strange and anxious lists, and goes flat with boredom some days. Lots of times, I’m not sure where it floats off to. I remind myself in difficult moments that it’s supposed to be hard, and that helps some. It feel worse if it was supposed to be easy.

Love is little and mighty and if I am lucky, it redeems all the things that I do, even when done in frustration or desperation or exhaustion.

“2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued – except as a stimulus for further moves.”

-Notes to myself on beginning a painting, by Richard Diebenkorn

Good morning compadres, it’s the second day of the year.

Yesterday was somewhat sedentary but we did still manage to vacuum the house, put away the Christmas tree, and pack away 99% of her 18 month and younger clothes. I relied heavily on premade stuff for meals (nuggets, gyoza, pizza and salad) but what is a vacation without unhealthy meals?

I also ordered Good Eggs everything for Carter’s birthday–a Moroccan chicken and couscous meal kit, chocolate strawberry organic cake, and some spicy giardiniera (plus some pre-cooked frozen chicken halves) for myself. Once upon a time I would have embraced a birthday as an opportunity to express my love by making everything from scratch and fiddling with plating and hand-picking flowers but I spent a good ten minutes patting myself on the back last night for figuring out his birthday arrangements in advance and having it all delivered to our doorstep and my general wifely excellence. No fuss, no muss.

Now, the big thing: Side Venture. I’ve been avoiding this a bit because I haven’t been as productive as I wanted to be over the break due to the sinus bug, perioding, and toddler-wrangling. But, I’ve run out of excuses now (having updated my expenses spreadsheet and all that jazz) and must begin again. It’s a quirk of human nature that we avoid painful things by making it more painful by ignoring it…but some sprints today will cure that little issue.

Summing up financially: $4835 made, $4045 spent.

Not all of this is SF; some of it is romance (esp. w/r/t profit). Much of the spending, especially towards the end of the year, has to do with prep for 2018’s books. I went on a wee bit of a spending spree on covers and ads-booking in order to avoid having to pay quarterly taxes in the new year, moreover. Nonetheless, I am in the black.

I was close, *so close* to the $5k goal I set at the beginning of the year. I suppose if I was being generous to myself and rounded it off, I hit the goal, but I also did not publish/write as much as I planned to and I think it’s worth being forthright with myself about that. 2017 was not a total failure, and not a total success–a definite mixed bag.

As cliched as it may sound, I *did* learn a lot through success and failure, and attracted a small group of dedicated readers for which I feel very grateful. I get itchy now if I go too many days without writing. I feel more confident about my technique and strategies. I embraced the sprint, and the outline.

2018 soft goals and objectives
1. Improve ads knowledge, especially of Facebook ads and AMS
2. Boost writing speed, wordcount production

2018 hard goals
1. Earn $10k total
2. Grow mailing list to 2500 people
3. Attempt rapid release schedule in summer with anthology project

2018’s tentative schedule:
Jan: publish book 3, write book 1 in anthology project
Feb: finish book 1, get it edited; start book 2
Mar: finish book 2, get it edited
Apr: start book 3
May: finish book 3, get it edited
June: book 1 published in anthology; write book 4 in old series
July: book 2 publish; finish book 4 in old series *or* standalone novel [depending on response to anthology project]
July-Aug: book 3 publish
Sept: finish book 4/standalone, have it edited, publish it
Oct: book 1 publish; start Kindle Scout campaign for standalone (30 days)
Nov: publish standalone (assuming I don’t get picked, which is the most likely scenario)
Dec: take a goddamn break.

4 novels is not *that* much more than 2 in the Indie world, so in an ideal world I’ll make time to write one more and do both the standalone and book 4, but that’s going to be a reach goal thanks to the wee one. I can count on the anthology project to force me to produce on schedule since I’m accountable to 7 other authors. I might really need a big break after 4, though. I’m only human, and there may be a pregnancy in the offing sometime this year (who knows when and how that affects the schedule?).

$10k seems really unlikely but it feels like the right hard goal at the same time.

Well, onwards.

“1. Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later.”

“1. Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.” -Notes to myself on beginning a painting, by Richard Diebenkorn

Today I’m taking a vacation day for purely arbitrary reasons. As I was eating my eggs and zucchini this morning I thought about how glorious this time of day is, when the rest of the day is just spread before me like a vast banquet. As I start eating, though, dishes start disappearing, and as I get full the less I can take in. If I eat the roast lamb there’s no room for the peking duck, and so on. By the end of the day I’m struggling to get through the rice pudding. I like food metaphors.

So, sometimes I feel a little loath to start the day because it means that I can’t have every dish on the banquet table. Especially sunny, chilly, quiet autumn days like today. But whether I eat or not, the dishes will fade away. In fact some of them have already started to disappear. Better start eating.

By the numbers, for both pen names:
Royalties earned to date: $4500 (approx)

Well, it’s not looking like I’ll hit my $5k goal for 2017. I’m guessing as to what kind of income I can rake in during November and December and I’ll most likely be a few hundred bucks short. I feel okay about it. My productivity was not where it should have been for a few months this year, but ya know…full time job, baby, husband, shockingly needy dog.

That said, this year is winding down in a positive way right now. I wrote 30,000 words in October, and most of it during the second half; I have been doing writing sprints and they’ve been giving my productivity a real shot in the arm. I plan to write 40,000 in November and be on track for publication come the new year. I’ve already booked the editor so I must stay on track. Deadlines, accountability, profit, YES.

2018’s tentative schedule:
Dec-Jan: publish book 3; finish writing book 1 in the Charlie trilogy by end of Jan
Feb-Mar: write Charlie book 2, have Charlie book 1 edited
Apr-May: write Charlie book 3, have Charlie book 2 edited
June: Charlie book 1 published in anthology
July: Charlie book 2 publish
July-Aug: Charlie book 3 publish; write book 4 to finish current SF series
Sept: finish book 4, have it edited, publish it
Oct: Charlie book 1 publish; start Kindle Scout campaign for standalone (30 days)
Nov: publish standalone (assuming I don’t get picked, which is most likely)
Dec: take a goddamn break. Maybe learn about ads, somewhere during the year?

That’s 6 releases. I’ve haven’t had a release schedule like that since…gosh, my romance days, and that was for novellas of 20k words max, not full length 70k word novels.

However, I’ve been averaging over 2k words a day on weekdays, which means about 44k words a month. As long as I don’t hit any major roadblocks, I should do fine. My sprints are really doing wonders and I am a better writer now than I was a year ago.

Also, I might be writing a few romance shorts for the ole dependable romance pen name. Just for fun, and to keep that income stream alive.

Sorry that this blog has just turned into my business planning blog. But I gotta do it somewhere.