Where’d You Go, Nicola?

You can see the subtle reference to Where’d You Go, Bernadette in the title. Because I’m clever that way.

I think I need to apologize to everyone who follows me, reads my books, and has supported me over the years for 2019. My output, or lack thereof, has been a big issue all year, and I’ve pretty much spent my time re-releasing books for which the rights have been returned to me.

So, why no new books this year? Well, it’s complicated, and some of it is personal, but the upshot of it is, I spent the first half of the year stressing over Ramón’s impending unemployment, and the second half of the year scrambling to cover bills while he looked for a new job and then getting a contract job of my own.

Let’s talk about the stress first. No matter what La Bohème or RENT would like you to believe, stress does not help your average creative type. In fact, it tends to shut us right the hell down. And knowing that 1) Ramón’s contract would end right on my birthday, and 2) he’s now of an age where the contract jobs–actually, the jobs full stop–are becoming thinner and thinner) made buckling down to work kinda difficult.

I mean, I tried. I got started on Uncertainty Principle, and King of Blades, and Shifter Woods: Claw, kept picking at the holiday romcom novella, and wrote down notes for a sorta-sequel to To My Muse. But bills kept piling up, and trying to juggle them and keep a roof over our heads and the J Crew fed with R’s impending unemployment staring us in the face made it difficult to focus. It didn’t help that I could make more money right away by creating jewelry, so I focused on that for much of the year.

And then in May, Ramón admitted that he was worried about the job situation, and as much as he hated it would I mind looking for a job? Not being a selfish asshole I said of course, brushed off my resume, and started hunting around on Linkedin and Indeed. It took a couple of months and one false start, but by mid-July I had signed a contract with my current employer to do specialized tech writing for them on a client-by-client basis.

When my birthday came, Ramón handed in his card and laptop, signed up for unemployment, and started job hunting with a vengeance. In the meantime I started work at the end of August, juggled our finances even faster because I wasn’t making as much as he had been, and prayed that he would find a job soon. As it turned out he didn’t find anything until October and didn’t start until mid-November, which made August through November … interesting. Yeah, let’s call it interesting.

But. My beloved is now gainfully employed for a year, with a company that is known for extending its contracts, and he’s building a good rep with his contract company so even if the client doesn’t extend his contract he should be able to find something else fairly quickly. In this year, while he pays the daily bills I plan on taking any contract jobs that come my way with an eye towards clearing off all of our outstanding bills (two have already been cleared and in the first half of next year I work on zeroing out our credit cards) and finally getting my bad knee replaced. Once that’s done, I’m going to sock away as much money as humanly possible in case his current contract isn’t extended or he can’t find another job soon afterwards. Because man, being broke over the holidays sucks ass.

That being said, having money again relieves a lot of stress, so I do intend to put out at least three titles in 2020 (for one thing, I have to take some time off after the knee surgery, so what better time to write?) And I want to thank everyone who has hung in there with me and waited for things to settle down to the point where I could get back to the keyboard and do what I do best. I adore you all to bits, and I really hope that you’ll enjoy what will be coming out from me next year.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is having a happy and safe December, and watch Ryan Reynolds’s new Aviation Gin commercial because that shit is hilarious.

Radio Silence and the Breaking Thereof

Hey all. I’m sorry about the radio silence these past few, well, months — I’ve been tackling a lot of contract tech writing since the end of August, and what with that and my laptop dying I’ve just been too tired to post much of anything here or elsewhere.

A writing update: I am still working on One Sweet Christmas and hope to get it out sometime in the next two weeks. I plan on using NaNoWriMo to finish King of Blades, and I should have the re-release of Breaker Zone ready to go by mid December. I suspect this will be known as the Year of Re-Releases for me, but hey, at least I’m getting them turned around and back out for purchase.

A fitness update: ha. Ha ha ha. But I did do 30 minutes on the treadmill yesterday (it helps that my sister called and distracted me for 23 of them) and I’ll try to do the same tonight. But this up-and-down weather North Texas has had for the last six weeks or so has been hitting my sinuses like a spiked baseball bat, and even with all the neti potting in the world they’re still gunked up and sore.

I promise, 2020 will be better when it comes to new stuff from me — this has been one hell of a tough, stressful year for everyone in Casa Cameron (as it has been in many households around the world), and despite rumors to the contrary difficult conditions do not make it easier for you to create good art. Kind of the opposite, in fact. But I have high hopes that things will get better very soon, and when that happens I’ll have the energy to churn out the long books again.

My Own, My Precioussssssssssssssss…

Ahem.

A little over a month or so ago, my laptop started karking up. There were at least three different periods where it was dead to the world for a week, until Ramón worked his magic and got it started again. After the third computer death, we decided that it was time to invest in a new MacBook, as the old one’s model had graphics card problems that were indeed shutting the whole damn thing down and it was only a matter of time before it died the True Death.

Ramón went back to our source for refurbed MacBooks and found this lovely mid-2012 model with no graphics card glitches and a 14% increase in speed over my existing model. As he is currently a gentleman of leisure searching for employment and I am performing contract instructional design on a somewhat uncertain schedule, having to splash out on a replacement laptop was not fun but I figure I’ll bust my ass to sell enough jewelry to cover the cost this month (and I have some spectacular new pieces on the bench that will be coming soon).

I told him to buy it, and it arrived today. He spent the afternoon testing the new chassis to make sure everything was working properly, then transferred over the brain. I have literally spent the evening updating EVERYTHING (including a new version of Scrivener, whee!), testing the graphics capability (DOUBLE WHEE), and generally getting everything ready for some frenzied writing in order to get my adorable holiday romance novella One Sweet Christmas (blurb: Take an unemployed PA stranded in a Colorado mountain town after her car breaks down, add a widowed baker with a young daughter and a sneaky father-in-law who’s also the town mechanic, toss in an emergency wedding cake for a social media princess, and top with some Christmas magic for one sweetly sexy holiday romance! Or as my editor put it, “It’s Kristin Bell and Robert Downey Junior bantering over cake pans”) done and out by mid-October.

That also means that Let’s Get Healthy will restart as well, beginning with a post later on tonight. I may not need to get on the treadmill tomorrow if my plan works out and I can lure Ramón to the Texas State Fair for a few hours. Granted, the benefits of walking around will probably be cancelled out by a Fletcher’s Corny Dog and whatever new fried treats they’re featuring this year, but hey, it’s good to get out in the fresh air once in a while.

Let’s Get Healthy: Day Eighty-nine through Ninety-six (AKA Hoo Boy, Redux)

Minutes on treadmill: 30
Resignation level: beyond reasonable belief

*sigh*

Okay, here’s the story. For the past eight days I was not only working ten hours a day, I was also making twelve mermaid doll bodies for a con that happened over the weekend (when I volunteered to run a “Decorate Your Own Mermaid Doll” demo I wasn’t aware that I’d be working a contract gig at the same time). I was literally finishing the day job, then shifting three feet over to my sewing machine and cranking out doll bodies.

Did I walk during that time? I tried to. I think I managed maybe ten, fifteen minutes a day, when I wasn’t doing an exhausted faceplant or having weird anxiety dreams about programming triggers in Storyline. I know I should have been doing the full thirty minutes. It just didn’t work out that way. I didn’t get much sleep last week as it was.

On the plus side, I don’t seem to have gained any weight, which is nice. Then again, I also wasn’t eating much during that time. I also wasn’t doing much of anything beyond working, sewing, feeding the cats, and grabbing a few hours of sleep before getting up to do it all again, which means I’ve lost some gains on mobility and endurance. Boo.

But it is Monday, things are back to normal, and that means yours truly was back on Chuck grinding out the time (and I have the sweaty hair to prove it). Even better, I have some new story ideas that came to me while I was sewing, and I’ll be inputting those into Uncertainty Principle and King of Blades, as well as the holiday novella that I WILL have done by the middle of October, come hell or high water.

Let’s Get Healthy: Day Seventy-nine through Eighty-eight (AKA Hoo Boy)

Okay, I didn’t stop this, honest — my laptop died and access to my blog was damn near impossible using my tablet so there it is.

In the last week I’ve had good days and bad days with regards to walking (didn’t do any on the 10th because I felt like crap), my actual period started on Wednesday and is progressing normally (which means I’ve bloated up like a sick camel), and today I spent fifteen minutes on the treadmill and 2-3 hours cleaning the upstairs bathroom that used to be Ramón’s baliwick but will be used by me as well from this point onwards because I’m working in my office and don’t want to keep going to the master bathroom when I have to pee.

And yes, it took that long. No, it’s not because the room was absolutely disgusting — he does tend to clean up after himself. But the light of my life is also a ginormous pack rat who tends to store stuff wherever he can find a flat surface, so much of the cleaning was me sorting through piles of printouts stacked haphazardly on the counter and trying to figure out where the hell a given item 1) was and 2) where it was actually supposed to reside.

But the bathroom is clean now, and it will stay clean from this point onward. It’s also the one with the non-functional tub (we replaced the drain earlier in the year and managed to crack the drain pipe in the process), so if all things go well on the job front the nasty old tub will be yanked sometime in November and replaced with a beautiful tiled shower stall. You’d better believe I’m collecting pictures of stalls and dreaming of subway tile and a lovely glass door.

Which reminds me, I have to clean the downstairs bathroom tomorrow. Oh, the glamorous life of a writer…

Let’s Get Healthy: Day Seventy-eight (AKA Improving Slowly)

Time on Treadmill: 10 minutes.
Pain level: Looking longingly at the ibuprofen but I don’t desperately need it

Yeah, I know — it looks like I’m going backwards. I’m still not sleeping all that great so I did ten minutes on the treadmill, then swept the dining room, kitchen, and library (cat hair gets everywhere) to get some more movement in because the thought of getting back on the treadmill made me want to cry. I think I’ll be back to normal by tomorrow, however, because tomorrow is Saturday and that means I can sleep as long as I like. So even if I do get a couple of pain flareups during the night I don’t have to get up at Oh Dark Thirty for work.

The ironic thing? There’s nothing in my contract that says I have to maintain business hours — I could work at night if I wanted to. But it’s easier to be up at 8 AM so that you can field any phone calls coming in from clients, so that’s what I do.

In more creative news, I plan on bingeing on jewelry and writing this weekend, since my dear friend Cinco sent me yet more sterling silver flatware handed down by her great-grandmother, just waiting to be turned into jewelry (I already have a design in mind for one spoon handle), plus matching earrings for that vintage 1920s art deco pendant, and a cool sterling silver piece set with malachite that I unfortunately killed by putting it in the pickle jar (live and learn. I also now have a LOT of copper-concentrated pickle that I need to evaporate before I can send the crystals off to the Hazardous Waste center. When I’m not doing that, I’ll be working on Shifter Woods: Growl and King of Blades, whee!

Let’s Get Healthy: Day Seventy-seven (AKA Still Ow)

Time on Treadmill: 20 minutes.
Pain level: Not quite at “I want to cut my leg off” levels anymore, but not fun

To be bluntly honest, I didn’t sleep last night, so I feel moderately horrible today. Every time I tried to move (and I toss and turn a lot), the leg would start screaming and wake me up so most of the night was spent dozing fitfully between moments of, “HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK?”

Gentle, slow walking helps and that’s why I managed to get twenty minutes done today, but by the end of the day my leg was hurting so badly that I couldn’t even bend down to slip on my gymshoes. That’s when I decided to heed my age and call it a night. That being said, the pain level is definitely improving, even if it’s still not fun, so I’m hoping to be back to normal by Monday.

Writing … yeah, no.

Let’s Get Healthy: Day Seventy-six (AKA Ow)

Time on Treadmill: 30 minutes.
Pain level: Oh fuck

Okay. I have a home office, but I use a Mac as my desktop and my current contract requires a PC so I’ve been using a PC laptop in the dining room. Which has wooden chairs, which I’ve just spent two days sitting on for a total of twenty hours. Yes, I took breaks and got on the treadmill, but by the time I’d wrapped up the work day the back of my left thigh was throbbing like a rotten tooth.

I know exactly what this is — I’ve done it before during marathon quilting sessions. I basically compressed the muscle and nerves back there. See the middle muscle in the triple bunches shown at left? It feels like someone has jammed a knife in there and is wiggling it back and forth. Bending/lifting the leg (as in going up and down stairs) or squatting to sit down hurts even more.

No, this isn’t deep vein thrombosis. I’m fully hydrated, I’m not showing any other signs, and I’ve had this before. Unfortunately, the only thing that will fix it is to not sit in the dining room anymore and tincture of time. I’m taking ibu, but it’s only dulling the top layer of pain. Looks like I’ll be working in the living room from my chair there for the rest of the week, and then I have got to sort out a work place in my office.

Let’s Get Healthy: Day Seventy-five (AKA That’s Better)

Time on Treadmill: 30 minutes.
Bio Breaks: Pretty much lived in the bathroom today.

Between the progesterone, the supplements, the walking time on the treadmill, and the Synthroid, both my bladder and my GI tract have been quite active today in getting rid of yesterday’s culinary adventure. Hoo boy.

Unfortunately there’s still a lot of crap in the air and it’s causing all the usual symptoms, plus a fair amount of coughing. The weather predictions said that temps were supposed to drop down into the low nineties this week, but now it seems that temps will be going back up to 99°F and thereabouts for Wednesday through Friday. Between the ozone and the ragweed, going outside is an adventure in testing my pulmonary limits.

Today was also my first 10-hour day on the current contract, which was topped off by a somewhat complicated dinner so no fiction writing went on today. Once I get on a regular schedule, that should change. I hope.

Let’s Get Healthy: Day Seventy-four (AKA Oh, Dear)

Time on Treadmill: 30 minutes.
Water retention: Off the charts

Because writers don’t actually get holidays, weekends, or vacations, my writer group met tonight to crit one of our member’s latest submissions. The only problem was, the restaurant where we usually meet was closed (“We’ve had lots of meetings there on Labor Day and it’s never been closed,” our glorious leader was heard to grouse).

Luckily, there was a restaurant around the corner of this strip mall that was open, so we met there. Well, I say “luckily.” Normally I adore this particular type of food, but today’s outing was easily one of the weirdest dining experiences I’ve ever had (there were two servers, both of them well over sixty, neither spoke English all that well, and submitting an order was an adventure. Getting silverware, for one thing, was ridiculously difficult. Getting the actual food was even more so. I can only assume that they were doing their best to chase us out so that they could close and go home). The food was also very, very spiced (and more than a little oversalted), and as a result I am retaining water like you would not believe. It’ll come off in a day or so, I know, but dang.