Category Archives: musings

Glancing Back, but Moving Forward

2019 year pop art comic book text speech bubbleLike a lot of you, I’m ready to see the back of 2018. Sure, I had some great moments—buying a house, releasing a new novella and my first M/F story, taking some great trips, visiting with awesome friends—but overall, 2018 was one dumpster fire after another. I’m already side-eyeing 2019: you better behave yourself.

I had a list of things I wanted to do in 2018, but as it turned out, life had ideas of its own. I did get some things marked off the list. I bought a house and moved me and my parents into it. I upped the percentage of income I’m putting toward retirement. I paid off some debt. I attended three romance conferences (Spring Fling, RT, and RWA) and presented panels at two of them. I oversaw the Daily Dragon for Dragon Con. I submitted a partial and got a full request.

But some other things had to fall by the wayside. I didn’t finish the novel I wanted to finish (though I’m closing in on THE END). I cancelled two trips because I ran out of time. We still aren’t unpacked. So some things are definitely carrying over to the new year.

I’m not writing out a long list of resolutions or whatever this year. I just have a few goals:

  • Finish the novel that’s nearly done and submit the final.
  • Finish unpacking and getting settled into the new house.
  • Go to NECRWA and RWA.
  • Do the Dragon Con thing again.
  • Get into better writing habits in general.
  • Move more. I spent wayyyyy too much time sitting in front of a computer.

There we go: short and sweet. Looking forward to a better year in 2019 for everyone!

 

Tying Up a Loose End

I posted already on my Twitter and Facebook about this, but I’m going to be scarcer than usual for the next few months. I’ve just bought a house that needs a little work done, I’ll be moving myself and my parents (eep!), and I have two writing conferences to prep for and two stories I’m trying to finish. Not to mention the day job and the usual housekeeping/life requirements. The net result is that I’ll still be around, just less ubiquitously than I normally am.

Anyway, as part of sorting through and purging things for the move, I’ve been changing addresses on various online accounts (mostly financial) and deleting a few older accounts I no longer use. During that process, I found a couple of merchandise shops I set up that were no longer active. I’ve deleted those, but I also realized that I’d never made the promised donation for one of them, so now I’ve done that.

I’m posting the receipt here (legal name and address blacked out) as documentation. The total earnings were less than $10, so I kicked in enough to bring it up to $25, because Ali Forney Center is well deserving.

Back to my sea of cardboard boxes…

receipt

18 for 2018

Striped Blue Sky 2018 Cloud Sticker

I’m cheating a bit on this year’s “things to do” list. I have one REALLY BIG thing to start with, so I broke it up into some smaller pieces. So, here are the things I hope to accomplish in the coming year:

  1. Buy a house. EEP.
  2. Move.
  3. Move my parents in with me. MORE EEP.
  4. Actually get unpacked this time. For real. (Goal: by Memorial Day.) Hahahaha no. My parents hadn’t even moved in by then. New goal: Before Dragon Con.
  5. Pay off remaining hospital/doctor bills from my gall bladder issues.
  6. Pay off remaining credit card balance.
  7. Increase retirement savings. (Goal: 10% by end of 2018.) DONE (mid-September).
  8. Publish my fifth novel (February 20)!
  9. Write/finish and submit/publish three new stories. UPDATE: One story finished/submitted, two partial/proposal submissions!
  10. Start submitting to agents (carry over from 2017).
  11. Attend some Georgia Romance Writers meetings.
  12. Attend/present at the Spring Fling conference in Chicago.
  13. Attend/present at the RT Booklovers’ convention in Reno.
  14. Attend the Council of Science Editors meeting in New Orleans (for the day job). (Cancelled due to the whole move thing; too much time away from the office.)
  15. Attend the RWA conference in Denver.
  16. Plan and execute publication of the Daily Dragon for Dragon Con 2018.
  17. Go to NYC in October.
  18. Have a fabulous 50th birthday party in December!

Seventeen for 2017

2017image

Following up from the “Sixteen in 2016” post I did a year ago, I decided to go ahead and do the same for 2017, with a plus-one. So in no particular order, here are the things I hope to accomplish in the coming year:

  1. Pay off my remaining student loan. The last payment is scheduled for June, but the balance is so low that I’ll probably pay it off sooner.  DONE
  2. Pay off another credit card. I’m down to two with balances, so I might manage both. DONE
  3. Increase my retirement savings. I’m currently at 7% and want to be at least 10% by the end of the year. Increased to 9% in July; holding off on more until after home purchase.
  4. Set up monthly charitable donations, focusing on social justice/civil rights organizations. UPDATE: Never got this done, but I did to a dozen or more individual donations. 🙂
  5. Wean myself back off soda. I drink wayyyyy too much sugar these days. UPDATE: Still in progress.
  6. Do more major purging before I move, especially books, CDs, and DVDs that never leave their shelves. DONE
  7. Move. I’ll have my own place again for the first time in a decade! DONE
  8. Actually finish unpacking this time. Goal: by Memorial Day weekend (~2.5 months). UPDATE: Gave up because now I’m going to be packing to move again anyway!
  9. Take my parents to Walt Disney World (planned for February).
  10. Finish publishing Hands On novella set.
  11. Write/finish writing and submit/publish three new stories. UPDATE: Done! Graphite & Glitter, Falling Together, and Teaching Ben (coming February 2018).
  12. Start submitting to agents. UPDATE: Pushed back to 2018.
  13. Attend the RT Booklovers’ convention in Atlanta.
  14. Attend the Council of Science Editors meeting in San Diego (for the day job).
  15. Attend at least one other romance writing conference. UPDATE: Did not, but I have at least three scheduled for 2018.
  16. Plan and execute publication of the Daily Dragon for Dragon Con 2017.
  17. Finally get together the Seekrit Project I’ve been wanting to do for my mom for years. (Shhhhh!) UPDATE: This didn’t happen, but the moving will help with that because I can sort through necessary materials.

There. That ought to give me plenty to focus on. Happy New Year, everyone!

Out with the Old…

At the beginning of 2016, I posted a list of 16 goals of sorts for the year. Now that we’re coming up on New Year’s Eve, it’s time to check in and see how I did:

  1. Pay off at least two credit card balances. I’ve let these creep up after being free of credit card debt about five years ago. Two balances are low enough that I can pay them off quickly, though. DONE! Card #2 was paid off in August, and I’ve kept those cards paid off since.
  2. Stop adding to credit card balances. They’ve been mostly steady this year, but I’d like to get them all headed consistently toward zero. DONE! As of mid-December, still on track with the remaining balanaces.
  3. Set up an office space. I’m planning to buy a desk and chair this weekend, and getting those assembled and in place will be about 75% of this goal. Things kind of fell apart on this one later in the year, and now I’ll be moving soon, so I’d say this one was about 50% accomplished.
  4. Get a massage at least once a month. I have a monthly membership that I’m not using often enough. If I’m not going to, I should just cancel it—after I use up the extra credits! I’m calling this one DONE! I got a massage a month through October, when I put the account on suspension for a few months. I’ll probably still get one this week, which will be 11 out of 12 months.
  5. Start doing stretches/yoga regularly for my neck and back problems. More reliance on movement, less on painkillers and heating pads. I haven’t managed much of this, though I’m a little bit better at maintaining my posture and not slumping over the computer.
  6. Get a mammogram. I’m way overdue. DONE! Including follow-up ultrasound with an all-clear.
  7. Weed out and donate clothes/shoes I never wear. Pretty much everything that isn’t used is gone. I’ll get the rest as I pack to move.
  8. Buy new clothes, especially tops and dress pants. About a third of new clothes I buy end up not working when I actually start wearing them, so the wardrobe turnover is an ongoing issue. DONE! A few rounds of purchases means my wardrobe is in pretty good shape now. Until spring, that is!
  9. Finish unpacking and get the last boxes out of my space. I plan to accomplish a good part of this by getting rid of more stuff. How the heck did I end up with this much STUFF?? I made some progress here, and will make more before I move, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped.
  10. Finish and submit/publish three new stories. I’m shooting for three novels, but I do have a germ of an idea for a short novella for Christmas, so we’ll go with three total. DONE! I self-pubbed three novellas and have a fourth coming in early 2017.
  11. Republish two stories after rights reversions (and on more than just Amazon this time). DONE! Story #1 self-pubbed in August, story #2 published with Dreamspinner in September.
  12. Go to Walt Disney World. Planned for the week of the Dreamspinner author workshop. DONE! Went to Animal Kingdom for the first time in March, and hit the other three parks over Memorial Day weekend. 😀
  13. Attend the Dreamspinner author workshop. DONE!
  14. Attend the RT Booklovers’ Convention. DONE!
  15. Attend the Council of Science Editors meeting (for the day job). DONE!
  16. Plan and execute publication of the Daily Dragon for Dragon Con 2016. DONE!

So I’m at 13/16 complete for 2016, and progress on one of the others. Not too shabby. 🙂

Coming up this weekend: Seventeen for 2017!

Sixteen for 2016

HappyNewYear

I decided to make a resolutions/goals list this year. I don’t really expect to fulfill it all, but I figure having something to shoot for is better than wandering around lost and confused. I’m mixing up personal and professional goals because that’s how I roll.

  1. Pay off at least two credit card balances. I’ve let these creep up after being free of credit card debt about five years ago. Two balances are low enough that I can pay them off quickly, though. Update 8/14: Paid off card #2!
  2. Stop adding to credit card balances. They’ve been mostly steady this year, but I’d like to get them all headed consistently toward zero. Update 12/19: Balances continuing to drop. Go me. 😀
  3. Set up an office space. I’m planning to buy a desk and chair this weekend, and getting those assembled and in place will be about 75% of this goal. Update 12/19: Things kind of fell apart later in the year, and now I’ll be moving soon, so I’d say this one was about 50% accomplished.
  4. Get a massage at least once a month. I have a monthly membership that I’m not using often enough. If I’m not going to, I should just cancel it—after I use up the extra credits! Update 12/19: I managed this through October, when I put the account on suspension for a few months. I can still get a massage, though, and I’m planning on one more before the end of the year, which will be 11 out of 12 months.
  5. Start doing stretches/yoga regularly for my neck and back problems. More reliance on movement, less on painkillers and heating pads. Update 12/19: Haven’t managed much of this, though I’m a little bit better at maintaining my posture and not slumping over the computer.
  6. Get a mammogram. I’m way overdue.
  7. Weed out and donate clothes/shoes I never wear. Update 12/19: Pretty much everything that isn’t used is gone. I’ll get the rest as I pack to move.
  8. Buy new clothes, especially tops and dress pants. About a third of new clothes I buy end up not working when I actually start wearing them, so the wardrobe turnover is an ongoing issue. Update 12/19: I bought more new clothes in November, and I’m in pretty good shape now. Until spring, that is!
  9. Finish unpacking and get the last boxes out of my space. I plan to accomplish a good part of this by getting rid of more stuff. How the heck did I end up with this much STUFF?? Update 12/19: I made some progress here, and will make more before I move, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped. I never did get all my boxes taken care of.
  10. Finish and submit/publish three new stories. I’m shooting for three novels, but I do have a germ of an idea for a short novella for Christmas, so we’ll go with three total. Update 12/19: I self-pubbed three novellas and have a fourth coming in early 2017.
  11. Republish two stories after rights reversions (and on more than just Amazon this time). Update 10/4: Story #1 self-pubbed this month, on Amazon only so I can try KU. Story #2 published with Dreamspinner in September.
  12. Go to Walt Disney World. Planned for the week of the Dreamspinner author workshop. Update 6/19: Went to Animal Kingdom for the first time in March, and hit the other three parks over Memorial Day weekend. 😀
  13. Attend the Dreamspinner author workshop.
  14. Attend the RT Booklovers’ Convention.
  15. Attend the Council of Science Editors meeting (for the day job).
  16. Plan and execute publication of the Daily Dragon for Dragon Con 2016.

Computer Tools and Sites I Like

keyboardbed_sixninepixelsAfter not having the time and brain power at the same time for much too long, I have finally gotten my new laptop set up and have switched over from the old one. Man, what a difference! No hanging up! No lagtime! No sticky keys from where I spilled lemonade a week after I got the old one!

Wheeee!

Ahem.

Sooooo, anyway…

In the process of setting up and installing various things, I figured I’d give a tip of the hat to a few tools I find useful. Maybe you will too.

The biggest one is f.lux. This little bitty program does a wonderful thing, at least for people like me who stay on the computer late into the evening: it automatically (and gradually) shifts the color value of your screen from cool (blues) to warm (reds) as evening approaches. You’ve probably seen articles talking about how staring at a screen can affect your sleep, like this recent one? Well, f.lux is the fix. I know I noticed a definite change after I started using it, especially in finding it easier to fall asleep quickly.

Dropbox is a given, of course. I have an external hard drive and used that to back up the old computer completely before doing the transfer, but getting the bulk of my files moved over was as easy as installing Dropbox, signing in, and waiting for everything to sync. All my working files are right where I need them, with automatic online backup so I don’t even have to think about it. Huge help.

Browser of choice is Chrome, though why it imported bookmarks from my phone but not from the old laptop is a mystery. (And dammit, I forgot again to port them over when I was grabbing the last few files from the old machine. Sigh.)

My sister had already installed Office 365 when she got her new computer not long ago, so I’m using a second installation on mine. So far, so good. It looks somewhat different, but the basics are the same, and so far files are opening fine. There’s also cloud backup, and it’s the full Office suite, so if I want to do something crazy like build a database, I’m set. 😉

I haven’t set up Evernote yet because I’m going to try out OneNote first, but if I don’t like it, back to Evernote I’ll go.

I have not yet decided what to do about Adobe software. I had an old installation of Creative Suite 3, which was fine for my needs, so I might reinstall that and go with it. Creative Cloud is probably awesome, but the price is prohibitive for the small amount of use it would get. There’s a chance another project I work on might provide access, so I’ll probably just limp along without it until I know what’s going to happen there.

Things I immediately added to the quick launch bar and/or start menu: Word, Chrome, Spider Solitaire. Priorities: I haz them. 😉

And… I think that’s it. I’m going to add an ad blocker, and the computer came with a McAfee trial but I’ll probably switch back to TrendMicro when that expires. Otherwise? I seem to have a fully operational battlestation on my hands. I’ll try to resist firing the primary weapon in your direction. 😀

Image courtesy of sixninepixels / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looking Back, and Forward

newyearSo here’s a little of what happened in the world of Shae in 2014:

  • Attended the Dreamspinner Press Author Workshop
  • Set a goal to complete two novels and two short stories in the coming year
  • Promised Elizabeth a three-book series
  • Published “Clean-Up on Aisle Me!” in the Butt Ninjas from Hell anthology
  • Submitted “Ice Cream Dreams” for the All in a Day’s Work anthology
  • Attended Outlantacon with various other butt-thology authors
  • Agreed to not one, but TWO more butt-thology anthologies
  • Submitted Unfortunate Son (Sons Book 1)
  • Organized a writers’ retreat in the north Georgia mountains
  • Did a whoooooooooooooole bunch of editing for various Dragon Con projects
  • Submitted “The Half-Life of Pumpkin Pie” for the Butt Babes in Boyland anthology
  • Attended Dragon Con, working on the Daily Dragon, as usual
  • Attended that writers’ retreat in the north Georgia mountains
  • Published “Ice Cream Dreams” in the All in a Day’s Work anthology
  • Attended Atlanta Pride
  • Attended GayRomLit
  • Submitted Wayward Son (Sons Book 2)
  • Won a Rainbow Award for the Playing Ball anthology
  • Published “The Half-Life of Pumpkin Pie” in the Butt Babes in Boyland anthology
  • Submitted “Faux Cowboy” for the Butt Riders on the Range anthology
  • Bottom line: completed two novels and three short stories, for a total of 146,000 words submitted for publication

What’s on the horizon for 2015:

  • Publish Unfortunate Son
  • Attend the Dreamspinner Press Author Workshop
  • Complete and submit Nobody’s Son (Sons Book 3)
  • Publish “Faux Cowboy” in the Butt Riders on the Range anthology
  • Attend Outlantacon with other butt-thology authors (and probably plan another anthology)
  • Publish Wayward Son
  • Attend Animazement
  • Attend Romance Writers of America convention
  • Do a whoooooooooooooole bunch of editing for various Dragon Con projects
  • Attend Dragon Con, working on the Daily Dragon, as usual
  • Attend Georgia Romance Writers annual conference
  • Attend Atlanta Pride
  • Publish Nobody’s Son
  • Write two short stories/novellas
  • Write novel trilogy
  • Write at least one Christmas story (possibly a set of three)
  • Bottom line goal: complete at least two novels and two short stories/novellas (submitted/ready to submit for publication)

Any or all of the 2015 plans are subject to change, of course. For one thing, there’s a strong possibility that my sister will be getting married at some point, so that’ll throw a big monkey wrench into everything!

Thanksgiving for One

turkey_nongpimmyFor various reasons, I’m spending Thanksgiving weekend alone this year. I had offers, primarily to go to my parents’ and eat dinner with extended family. But my sister’s off with her boyfriend’s family, and we decided to do our turkey dinner at Christmas this year, so I made the choice to take the long weekend off. After everything that’s been going on the past few months, I think I’ve earned a break.

I did find myself with turkey dinner envy, though, so it looks like I’ll be cooking one anyway (and might even have a guest come over to help me eat it). Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite meal of the year. After years of experimentation, we’ve finally figured out how to roast a perfect turkey every time, and we have our list of traditional side dishes, both required and optional. Here’s how things usually go around Thankgiving at Casa de Shae…

Appetizers: Varies from year to year. Favorites: smoked egg dip with fresh veggies, cheese and crackers, cream cheese and olive dip, and sparkling grape juice. Just depends on how much trouble we want to go to, and whether or not we have an actual breakfast.

Turkey: Stuffed with wedges of citrus and onion, skin brushed with olive oil, and with chicken broth and ginger ale in the pan. The ginger ale adds a touch of sweetness, and the extra liquid keeps the meat moist.

Other meats: Mom usually insists on having ham. What usually happens is we have ham for dinner the night before and serve the leftovers with the turkey dinner.

Dressing/stuffing: We make both, though neither goes into the bird. Dressing is the Southern cornbread style, made from scratch by a recipe developed by my grandmother. It’s served with giblet gravy. The stuffing is Stove Top out of the box, preferred by my dad, who’s a damn Yankee (born in New Jersey).

Potatoes: Sweet, not white. We usually roast ours (in a pan with a little water in the bottom to keep them soft), but sometimes we’ll have sweet potato casserole, which is my sister’s favorite.

Other sides: These vary from year to year. My favorites are fresh green beans, collard greens, and creamed corn (homemade, not that stuff in a can). Mom likes those too, but she always wants to have an olive tray (black and green olives and sweet and dill pickles) and fruit salad, too. Dad likes creamed onions and creamed lima beans, and my sister’s a fan of green bean casserole.

Cranberry sauce: Jellied straight out of the can for us!

Breads: Crescent rolls, usually. My grandmother could have eaten her weight in those. Real butter, naturally.

Beverages: Iced tea and apple cider.

Desserts: Pumpkin and apple pies. Sometimes pecan too, because Mom likes it. Lots and lots of Cool Whip.

Post-dinner entertainment: Naps, usually. We aren’t football watchers. We do usually record the National Dog Show and watch that later, though!

Image courtesy of nongpimmy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Temporarily Flying Solo

Yesterday morning, I took my sister to the airport for her fifth annual trip to Cambodia. She goes each year with a mission group from her church to visit an orphanage there. (It’s not a proseltizing-type trip; the orphanage is attached to a church already.) They spend a lot of time with the kids, and near the end of the trip, they’ll go to Angkor Wat and some other touristy areas.

What this all means for me (because of course it’s all about ME) is that I have nine long, glorious days without a roommate.

*dances naked*

(Okay, not really.)

For much of my adult life, I’ve lived alone. I moved into my first apartment in 1991, and for most of the next 17 years, I didn’t have a roommate. Then my sister moved to Atlanta to go to graduate school, and she moved in with me to save money. We’ve been roomies ever since.

In the spring, we’ll be splitting up, in one form or another. Sister has a very serious boyfriend, and they’ll likely be getting married some time next year, so we’d been talking about getting separate places when our lease is up in March. I was just starting to think about the possibility of living alone again, and then my good friend J.P. Barnaby said she wanted to move to Atlanta and wondered if I might want to room together.

As it turns out, yes, I did. Sure, I lived alone for a long time and I liked that, but over the past 7 years, I’ve gotten used to having someone around. I’m mostly a homebody, but I like being social too, so having a roommate is the best of both worlds.

(Plus, J.P. says she’ll be in charge of emptying the dishwasher. I hate emptying the dishwasher.)

So over the next few months, I’ll be scoping out possible new places to live, my sister and I will be figuring up how to divide up our things (the fannish collections are going to be tough, man), and the new roomie and I will be deciding what we need to keep, toss, or buy. Spring cleaning will take on a whole new meaning when it consists of clearing out old spaces and settling into new ones.

But for the next week, I’ll enjoy having the place to myself. Maybe I’ll dance naked after all. Or maybe I’ll just drink milk straight from the carton and eat the last of the ice cream.

My life is just full of excitement, isn’t it?