Category Archives: Personal

I’m Making an Executive Decision

I’m taking tomorrow off. And yes, I recognize the solemnity of Memorial Day so don’t @ me. It’s not like I’m throwing a pool party or getting hammered in Deep Ellum.

But it is a federal holiday and I need a day off. No, I deserve a day off. I’ve been working my ass off formatting books and getting them uploaded to Smashwords and Google Play, which is completely separate from the ad maintenance, record maintenance, writing, editing, cover design, and all the other tasks that come with being an indie author. Oh, and let’s not forget fulfilling various creative commissions, doing the food shopping, the cooking, the cleaning and laundry, looking after Ramón and the J Crew, checking in on various people who need it, and generally being Helpful Hannah to all and sundry.

I may not be able to afford a cruise right now, but I can damn well take one day off to rest, recharge, and see if I can recover just a smidgen of enthusiasm. So I am going to play around with my plasticine and investment and see if I can make this pair of amber and silver earrings I’ve wanted to take a crack at, then I’m going to catch up on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and then I may well crawl in bed early and read to my heart’s content. Luxury…

I Have The House To Myself

To my surprise I learned today that Ramón would be heading off to his D&D game today (since they started meeting in person again this has stopped being a weekly thing and now depends on the other players’ schedules).

So did I tear through the house like a Tasmanian Devil cleaning everything? Did I crank out 3K on Crystal Blade? Did I at least put the cross bars that have fallen off two of the back yard fence sections back up?

No. I went out to coffee with my editor like a civilized woman of a certain age, then came home and finished a jewelry commission (faceted golden rutilated quartz in a marquise cut, and I got to build my first double gallery and V prongs for it). Which turned out wonderfully. I’m very happy with that because I was sure I’d accidentally melt something or have a prong fall off.

Look, sometimes I need to step away from the computer and cross-train my creative side on something completely different. Kristine Kathryn Rusch just did a brilliant blog post about this very topic, and I agree with all of it. Making jewelry, quilts, or other crafts keeps me fresh and helps me with my writing, believe it or not. I’ve tried going cold turkey and doing nothing but writing before, and you know what happened? I would up with a massive case of writer’s block. Crafting is literally part of my writing process now because it acts as a space where I can mull over things while my hands are busy.

And if I can sell the results of those mulling sessions? Even better.

I Do Love a Productive Monday

  • Got Crystal Blade Episode 17: Loose Lips Sink Ships up at Vella
  • Finished editing Blade Episodes 21 and 22
  • Got them saved on Vella so I have a full two weeks’ worth of episodes to post every M-W-F
  • Started working on Blade Episode 23 and got a goodly chunk of it done
  • Did a very necessary food shop
  • Swept and vacuumed the downstairs
  • Finished shaping a double gallery setting—next up is building V-shaped prongs and attaching those and a bail
  • Made dinner
  • Updated both blogs (sorry about the delay with this one’s posts)

All in all, I feel like I successfully adulted today.

Don’t Do This

Bench injury story—feel free to skip if injuries squick you.

So I was sawing some swirls out of a sterling silver spoon today (really ornate silver spoons are 1) surprisingly cheap and 2) great sources for decorative bits that I can use on jewelry) and the saw blade broke.

Now, this happens regularly—jeweler’s saw blades are very fine, less than a millimeter wide and a tiny fraction of that in depth. Unfortunately, this time the blade broke while I was bringing the saw down and I drove the upper blade fragment through the nail on my left middle finger, right next to the cuticle. Ow.

Since I’ve injured myself at the bench before I knew what to do. I squeezed the fingertip gently to get the wound bleeding freely (this helps flush out anything that might have been driven into the nail bed), washed it thoroughly, put on some of the good antibiotic ointment I got last year at the hospital, and bandaged it. It’s making typing a bit of a challenge but I think it should be okay—none of the saw blade got left in the wound. If it swells or turns funny colors I’ll head into the doctor and get them to look at it.

And yes, I had a tetanus shot five years ago so I’m good on that. I was talking about it with Lyndon later on and he said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but to be honest I’m surprised you don’t have more injuries from making jewelry.” It helps that I’m careful and precise, but sometimes things slip and you wind up slicing open a thumb or stabbing a nail. *shrugs* It happens.

Nobody Ever Tells You How Much Paperwork There Is In Indie Publishing

Crystal Blade Episode 16: Children Are Our Most Valuable Resource is now available at Vella. Because maybe you’re not going out tonight and need something to read, I dunno.

I am also delighted to announce that people are starting to pay for Crystal Blade eps and not just read them using their free tokens, so I’ve got that going for me. Now if I could just rustle up some contract work and send Ramón home for two weeks things would be magic.

In other news I’ve got a weekend full of business work ahead of me (I need to start a business PayPal account so that I can sell books and jewelry through the website, start reading Zoe York’s books on the business side of indie romance publishing, update all of my income/expenses spreadsheets, and tweak my Amazon ads), plus I really need to do a big stock-up shop and give the bathrooms a deep clean.

I keep thinking that eventually I’ll have a weekend where I can just relax, read, watch TV, that sort of thing. I still remember a Sunday many years ago when the house was clean, I’d gotten all of my tasks done for the week, I didn’t have any jewelry projects on the go, and I spent the afternoon on the couch reading. It was freaking magical. I would like to experience that again.

Ever Wonder What $650 Worth of Handmade Sterling Jewelry Looks Like?

Now you know. I already sold the amethyst earrings and fossilized coral pendant so I’ll list everything that’s still available on my Belaurient Arts page. Once I have PayPal buttons I’ll add them, but in the meantime if you see something you like drop me an email and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice.

Mind you, at least four of those pendants are at least three years old (why they didn’t sell, I have no idea) and I redid the larimar pendant because it just wasn’t selling in its old setting. But I have hopes that many of these will sell in the next month or so and help me defray the costs of the HVAC repair. Not that I’m hinting or anything.

I also blocked out Act III of Crystal Blade while I was in the garage tonight so I have that going for me. Yes, I have an outline but it’s bare bones, just an indication of what should happen in each chapter. But now I have some scenes hammered out in my head, as well as a bunch of dialogue, and it was fun working out the big duel scene that serves as the climax. Well, come on, with a title like Crystal Blade and my history with the SFWA Musketeers (oh, wait, you probably didn’t know about that. Yeah, I fence along with all of my other activities), I had to put a sword fighting scene in the book. I do love swashbuckling, after all.

The Writer At Work In the Garage

Crystal Blade Episode 15: A Ball Is an Excellent Way To Make New Friends is now available at Vella. Go check it out.

As you know, Bob, when I’m not slaving over a hot computer during the day I’m usually out in the garage making jewelry, and I’m currently working on an exceptionally fun custom order. It’s a sterling pendant setting that will hold a large marquise cut (oval with pointed ends) rutilated quartz that’s been faceted. I get to use prongs for it and make my own double gallery setting with V-shaped prongs on each end to hold the points securely. It’s complex but the result should be gorgeous, plus this is excellent practice for me in using prong settings.

Which leads me to say that I would cheerfully shank someone for a real jeweler’s bench right now with the cutout and catch drawer because man, I am tired of dropping teeny things on the floor (like, oh, the bur container that came apart while I was bringing it down from a shelf and scattered the burs all over the floor. I still can’t find two of them and my curses are still ringing in Plano). Dropping things, BTW, is a regular occurrence in every silversmith’s life, which is why the cutout and the catch drawer/sling were developed in the first place. But my bench is a regular workbench from Harbor Freight with a particleboard top screwed into a metal frame so I can’t even make a cutout myself.

Oh, well. I can dream. And keep an eye on local sales groups to see if I can pick up a used one. In case anyone wants to buy me an early birthday present, this bench would be ideal. And in the meantime I’ll keep plugging away on my Harbor Freight table (and keep looking for those last two burs, goddammit…).

All the Adulting

Crystal Blade Episode 14: Get Into the Groove is now available at Vella. You know the drill.

The nice young man from the HVAC company got here around 10 AM, which was enough time for me to dust and spray a little air freshener (I vacuumed everything yesterday). He immediately got to work, and a half hour later we had a laundry list of things that needed to be fixed (which I already knew from the checkup visit back in March).

First and foremost, there was a leak in the downstairs unit’s condenser coil and it had lost coolant. Apparently coolant costs $675/three pounds and we needed 2.5 pounds. You do the math. In addition to that he was going to do a leak check and use leak sealant to (hopefully) seal any leaks, then blow out the drainage from the drip pans.

Which are apparently plumbed into our sewage system—the PVC pipes that lead outside are only emergency overflows. I had no idea. He wound up blowing out about two gallons of gunk and our master bath sink drain (which is where the downstairs unit’s drip pain drains into—I am so damn glad that I cleaned the master bath yesterday) is now clean as a whistle and will drain perfectly. We’d had problems with that line since we moved in and I’d snaked it out multiple times, but apparently there was a lot of buildup in the line leading from the drip pan. Bless his heart, that couldn’t have been pleasant.

And yes, he did indeed find a leak in the coil and applied sealant, then added the replacement coolant. I gritted my teeth and proffered a credit card for the total. Downstairs is now at a civilized temperature and the inside humidity (it was 60% this morning) is dropping like a rock, which is a goodness.

In related news I now have to sell a buttload of books, jewelry, and book covers, and will take any editing jobs going. But hey, at least we’re comfortable.

Off To the Urgent Care We Go

Let’s just say that I woke up with an issue today that made me go, “Hmm…” and prompted a visit to the local Urgent Care, Just To Make Sure. They confirmed my diagnosis and prescribed the meds that I would need to treat the issue, sending the scrips over to the pharmacist at my local Walgreens.

Who filled the scrips, sent me a text saying they were ready, and closed a minute later. Whee. To make matters even more fun the HVAC guys will be here tomorrow some time between 9 and 11 AM so I won’t be able to pick up said meds until they’re done.

Now, I will not die without these meds. I won’t even be majorly inconvenienced without them (mainly because I already had some on hand). But come on, don’t send a text saying “Yeah, you can come get your pills” and close up shop ONE MINUTE LATER. That’s just amateurish.

In the meantime I’m bracing myself for the repair costs that will be coming our way tomorrow. I’m hoping that it won’t be that bad, but we already know that this system is on its way out and there may be more things that have gone wrong than just a gunked-up drain line. Oh, well. We’ll pay for it somehow.

The End of the Month Is Approaching

I didn’t mention yesterday but Crystal Blade Episode 9: An Intimate Family Dinner was released yesterday on Vella. At least I finally got it into my head to call them episodes and not chapters.

I have to admit, I was really hoping to have Blade finished by now, but between various stressors and a couple of bouts of Not Feeling Well I just wasn’t able to get it done this month. Which is annoying because I would really like to publish something every month and have Amazon keep promoting me, but I’m starting to think that this may not be realistic for me.

At least, not at the moment. I’m tired. My last vacation was January 2017 and it has been go go go ever since then. I would dearly like to have one week where I didn’t have to do anything, cook or clean anything, or take care of anything. Basically, I want to go on a cruise. But to do that we not only need enough money to pay for the cruise itself but also for the week of time Ramón would need to take off from work (not having PTO really sucks). Which means I need to sell a lot of books. Which means I need to write more new books to keep myself in Amazon’s sweet spot. But I’m tired. You see my dilemma.

At least the sterling silver jewelry I’ve been making recently has been selling, which is something. Frankly, I’ve made almost as much from that as I’ve made from writing this month. Part of me thinks that’s sad, and part of me is just damned grateful that I have another income stream. And all of me knows that things could be so, so much worse so I should just shut up and be grateful for what I have.