I want it.

It’s art. No, it’s soap. No, it’s art?

My daughter just sent me this photo of her newest soap creation. I’m posting it because I’m flabbergasted. Seems a shame to call this soap! It’s art you can wash with. She told me it’s called “Cruise,” and smells like a sea breeze with coconut and orange.

Too bad, though–I can’t get any of this batch until it cures. That takes three or four weeks. I’ll wait.

By S.J. Driscoll

Epub number four

Ellie’s responsible for her job, her little boys and the old man she helps when she can. Until now, she’d never realized that her responsibilities are what make her strong.

Yesterday, I epubbed my fourth short ebook to Amazon and Smashwords. It’s a short story that originally appeared in Ellery Queen’s® Mystery Magazine under one of my previous names (I’ve had too many of them).

Last night I was hoping to epub another, but I’ll take the time to go over it once more. A few points can be developed to make it more fun to read.

There’s the temptation to submit it somewhere, but at this point I feel that would only hold me back. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that would be moving backwards, marking time, and I can’t do that anymore.

Having these five epubs available was one of my goals, and it’s almost done. Just in time, too, because I’m in Candace Havens’ comprehensive writing course and any minute now we’re going to #fastdraft. Time to clear the decks! I haven’t gotten as much done on my WIP as I’d wanted during this ROW80, but it is up to 30k. Surely I can get rid of it–I mean, finish it–in another two weeks if I don’t freeze up.

I refuse to grow old and die with all these stories trapped in my head! Isn’t that how ghosts are made?

By S.J. Driscoll

One day at a time

My third little ebook, a 3,600-word story called “Sleep,” was edited and then published to Amazon and Smashwords yesterday.

Like my story “Rage,” epubbed on Amazon and Smashwords last week, it’s in a genre I call “mommy noir.”

I find that one extra thing can get done per day. It might not be a very big thing, such as a few minutes spent on social media here and there during a brief break on a workday. More involved projects can get done during the weekend.

Yesterday I also set up my Amazon author page and did some social media. Today there’s this blog post.

This week is already filled, so I don’t know how much extra will get done. There’s an work deadline coming up, and a couple of meetings at the end of the week. On Thursday night a few of us from South Central Texas Authors are meeting in Wimberley, and on Friday night I’ll try to make it north to attend the digital authors subgroup of Austin Romance Writers of America.

Life is busy. Sometimes too busy. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not bored!

By S.J. Driscoll

Some failure, some success. Surprisingly, more success

Time to look back at my original real and fantasy goals. Some that I thought would be easy still seem impossible but, to my surprise, some of my fantasy goals are going strong. Some are turning out better than I’d anticipated, like the one on the left.

1) Real goal: Health: sleep (lights out at 10:30 p.m.), move (get up from desk every hour, spend at least 20 minutes outside morning or evening, gardening, walking or looking at forest).

Fail! I do get outside to water the garden, which counts as exercise since I haul the water in 5-gallon plastic buckets, but sleeping seems like a lost cause. If I want to do more, I have to sleep less. After I stop work, I go to work. If anything’s going to get done, that’s the way it has to be.

Some things to keep in mind: As long as I hold to a modified primal/paleo diet (modified to include unsweetened soymilk, which seems to do me good) and eat almost no grain, sugar or dairy, my strength holds up so I can maintain a strenuous schedule. I’m chafing right now because I found a new CrossFit gym ten minutes from home, and I yearn to try a stand-up paddleboard. My budget’s holding me back more than my lack of sleep.

2) Real goal: Work my job only 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 1 hour for lunch, no evening or weekend work. Fantasy goal: Maintain the quality of my science editing and other job obligations while meeting my deadlines and not stressing out. Continue reading

Interview: SJ Driscoll « Live Wonderstruck

Aside

Interview: SJ Driscoll « Live Wonderstruck.

Today S.M. Hutchins was kind enough to interview me for her Wonderstruck blog. Previous interviewees include writers Carrie Daws and Shay Fabbro.

If the interview were about someone else, I’d think it was excellent. If those accomplishments had been achieved by someone else, I’d be impressed. But this is me, so nothing I do is good enough. Why is that?

Maybe I’d better go back and reread some of Louise Behiel’s series about the coping strategies of children that carry over into adulthood.

Thank you, @smhutchins!

By S.J. Driscoll

Back from Dallas

Drove home from Dallas in four and a half hours. Had a great time at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Writers’ Conference. Learned so much, and now there’s so much to digest, plan and do. Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers, and all the people whose presentations I attended:

James Rollins      Jodi Thomas     Lori Wilde     Fred Campos, Jr.     Rusty Shelton      Candace Havens     Kristen Lamb     Roni Loren

Here’s proof that I was there: @alleypat caught me in a photo. At least, she caught my back. That’s me in the pink sweater.

May started out brutal, but it got better.

By S.J. Driscoll

Lizards, tea and pantslessness

Nothing extraordinary. Top o’ the world and bottom of a pit, as usual. It’s all movin’ along.

Let’s see, did anything interesting happen? A large lizard with a gray and tan diamond-patterned back now lives in the garden. I found him while watering. He tried to convince me he was a piece of rotted wood that got stuck in one of the tomato plants. Didn’t work.

He’s a much larger version of the lizards that live in my plastic garden box. I store some old newspapers in it and the lizards made themselves speckly gray to match the type.

They’re all welcome to stay since they’re carnivorous, not herbivorous. Something else carnivorous was sighted here a while ago: another mountain lion. Stay in the fenced garden, little lizards, and eat bugs.

I now hear Prudence MacLeod reiterating: “Gods, Sally, you have such an interesting life!” Continue reading

Wheelbarrows have no feet

This morning I mulched the vegetable garden again. That means I lugged four 5-gallon orange paint buckets out the gate, across the concrete path, over the foot-thick live oak limb, under the fig tree, over the stone wall (duck to avoid the branch in the eye), through the rocky gullies where the rain runs down to the creek, past the deer scat, over the limestone shaped like fingermarks dragged through wet clay, around the cactus, and past the twelve-foot spiderweb (which I did not walk into) built by the green and gray spider big as a Cadbury Creme Egg. Finally, I arrived at our waist-high pile of ground-up cedar trees.

After filling the buckets, I carried them back and heaped the cedar bits around the squash and tomatoes and blackberries and mulberries.

On my last trip, muscles taut, gut sucked in, Huck Finn straw hat damp with sweat, a neighbor driving to her retail job number two stopped her car and ran toward me. Continue reading

Da Voidick

On Monday I didn’t read. Instead, I carried around a clipboard and wrote longhand a bit at a time. On Tuesday and Wednesday I wrote like “work” and read during the in-between times of my job and meals.

The verdict? Two days with reading and with writing done during a specific period: about 250 words a day. One day without reading and with writing fit in here and there without any special effort: 650 words. That couldn’t be clearer. Continue reading

Killing Audrey II—again

Yesterday @DeidreKnight of The Knight Agency, literary agent and romance writer, held a Q&A session for Austin RWA. She was inspirational—at least I found her so. She approaches the business of running her agency in a way that’s both very creative and very directed. That’s what’s so inspirational.

Creative as well as directed… that’s what we all want to be, isn’t it?

So my question to myself this Sunday is whether I can be more creative and more directed. That’s why this time I’m assessing my goals in a different way. How do the goals affect each other? Am I letting my priorities have priority? Seems like I’m doing okay… but am I still approaching what I want to do in a self-defeating way? Continue reading

Mostly tooth

Yes, these last couple of days have been about a tooth. Nothing like visiting the dentist for a regular checkup and being told you need a crown. Immediately. So I got one. That was yesterday.

Not that this was unexpected. And my dentist is excellent. But having even an excellent dentist hammering away in your jaw for an hour could ruin your day, or your next couple of days. And that adrenaline rush that comes with the local anesthesia? I crash every time.

Lucky for me my goals were set up a couple of weeks ago. They’re just about habits by now, and I sure needed my new habits. No stressing about what to do next—I just look at the list. Continue reading

Goals equal happy

The strangest realization is that having and accomplishing my goals is making me happy.

I don’t have to stress anymore about what I should be doing and what I’m not doing. All that’s figured out. There’s no more beating myself up because of dithering. I have a list of what to do, it’s pointing in pretty much the right direction and, more or less, it’s getting done. What a relief.

On to specifics:

1) Health: Just because I get sleepy around 10 doesn’t mean that’s when I go to sleep! So, no, I’m back to not getting as much rest as I need. But at least I’m on a more healthy schedule. For example, I started typing this at 8:50 p.m., not 12:50 a.m. In other news, the deer ate the top off the new jujube tree though it was protected by a tomato cage, so I wound some chicken wire around it. The tomatoes and jalapenos got planted, and I’m still hitting the elliptical a reasonable amount. Continue reading

Magic how new habits take hold

1) My eyes now start to close as 10 p.m. approaches. Stayed awake in bed until 11:30 last night, though, playing with the new electronic toy. Made me remember reading LITTLE WOMEN by moonlight when I was little, while the rest of my family slept. Gorgeous weather and I’m not getting out as much as I’d like, but my office windows open onto our huge live oak so it almost counts as being outside. Still keeping up the garden and doing a few minutes on the elliptical, just not yesterday. Seems like I can do every other day. [Real goal: Health: sleep (lights out at 10:30 p.m.), move (get up from desk every hour, spend at least 20 minutes outside morning or evening, gardening, walking or looking at forest).

2) Worked about 24 hours in the last two days to make the monthly issue deadline while fitting in other work odds and ends. Surprisingly, that left little to do toward it this morning, though I thought I’d be jammed. Happy! Now to get a head start on the Continue reading

Goal check-in

Just a quick flyover since I’m already going to be late for bed.

These last few days haven’t been bad!

My new iPod Touch was delivered and I found an app that can be set to chime every hour. I used it on Friday and it did help me become more aware of time passing! Now I can also easily record what I eat.

On to my goals:

1) Going to sleep at a reasonable time is becoming more natural. I stayed up past 11:30 only once. I was testing whether a glass of wine with dinner would keep me awake. Looks like it does, since I couldn’t get to sleep after drinking only two ounces! Yesterday I did some heavy gardening and this morning I sat on the back stoop to write, so I have been getting outside more. I’ve also started to use Continue reading

Eleven Questions, Illustrated Edition

Prudence MacLeod (the Valkyrie) tagged me in the Eleven Questions game.

Thanks, Prudence!

I have to answer her 11 questions, then think up 11 new questions and invite 11 other people to answer them.

Here are her questions and my answers:

1) What is the greatest thing you’ve found under your sofa cushions? I don’t look. But I did notice that beneath the sofa is where crickets go to die. 
2) Who is your greatest hero? Harriet Tubman, since I was 7.
Second is Roald Amundsen