Jean Marie Bauhaus

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 33)

Level Up: Adult

When I was in my 20s, I thought maybe once I reached 30 some kind of magical adult switch would get flipped and then I’d have it all together. When I reached 30 and that didn’t happen, I thought maybe it would happen at 35. At 36, still having trouble with the whole adulting thing, I thought, surely, it must be 40. Everybody figures out how to adult by the time they’re 40. Right?

I turned 41 on Sunday, and if you’re wondering if 40 is indeed the magic number, I’m sorry to tell you that it is not. While I have more days where I’m able to pull myself together and get stuff done than I did ten years ago, those days are still outnumbered by the days wherein just brushing my teeth feels like a monumental responsibility that I’m just not sure I can handle.

I’m beginning to suspect that there is no switch. There is no magic number. And as cohorts show the same signs of struggling I do, I’m also beginning to suspect that the entire idea that there is this achievable level called “adulthood” where one levels up and gets some sort of power pack that causes things to come easily like organization and punctuality and meeting responsibilities and obligations and having a perfect home and always knowing what’s up and never flailing about wondering if one should thaw something out for dinner or maybe just eat ice cream and you need to do laundry and yard work and work work and you’re not sure which should come first but really you just want to lie down or watch TV because that’s about all you have energy for and hey who needs pants if you don’t plan to leave the house anyway? That idea, I’m fairly certain, is a myth.

I’m beginning instead to suspect that what learning how to adult really means is to give yourself grace and accept that there will always be areas of struggle in your life. That being an adult is really about having your priorities straight and being able to get the things done that really need to be done and to let go of worrying or feeling guilty about the things that don’t really matter. To accept that you might never be a perfect housekeeper and your home will never look like it should be featured in Better Homes and Gardens, but as long as you can keep it from looking like it should be on Clean House or Hoarders then you’re doing okay. Or to make peace with the fact that you’ll never be a time management or organizational whiz, but you’ve got your system that works for you most of the time and who cares if nobody will ever want to feature it on Lifehacker as long as you manage to meet your deadlines.

If that’s what it really means to be an adult, then I think I might have finally unlocked that achievement.

How To Help Me Write Faster

Note: This post is a bit long, but if you consider yourself at all to be a fan of my books, please read to the end. Thanks.

I’d been kicking around the idea of doing a Kickstarter to fund the finishing and production of Intruder. At the rate I’m currently going on it, managing to squeeze in between 500 and 1000 words per week (on a good week), my thinking was that a Kickstarter, if successfully funded, would allow me to set aside some time every day to work on it without losing income, so I could actually get the book written this year. I also hoped to raise enough to have it properly edited and formatted by a pro, along with a professional cover design for both Intruder and Restless Spirits. However, I don’t think I have a large enough fanbase to come anywhere near the funding I’d need to pull that off.

So in researching other options, I took a deeper look at Patreon. If you don’t know what that is, Patreon is a crowdfunding site based on the old model of artist patronage. It allows fans to subscribe and contribute small amounts — as little as a dollar — on a regular basis to help support content creators and ongoing projects. I didn’t give it too much consideration at first because it seemed to be aimed primarily at YouTubers, podcasters and web comic creators, but quite a few writers are experimenting with it to fund their creative writing. Creators can either set it up as a tip jar, or they can set up a subscription model to accept payments in return for regular content and perks.

The latter model seems like a good compromise. I’m not really comfortable with the tip jar model, which would feel too much like living on charity. But a subscription model would be an exchange of money for goods. It would fill in the income gaps and allow me to set aside an hour or two each day to work on noveling. Not only that, but it would obligate me to do so — I’d not just be able to, but have to give my creative writing the same priority that I give to client projects.

But how does a subscription model work with writing a novel? I actually have several novels in my To Be Written queue — enough to keep me busy for years, even if I’m writing full time. So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to serialize all of them for Patreon. If you decide to become a patron — which, again, you can do for as little as a dollar per installment (and you can put a cap on how many installments you’re willing to fund each month) — you’ll have access to each installment as I write them. You’ll also be rewarded with an e-book of the finalized book once it’s ready to publish. Higher levels of support will get you additional perks, including steep discounts on signed paperbacks and the opportunity to vote on which project you’d like me to write next. You can check out my Patreon page here to get all of the details, or just click the big shiny button below:

Become my patron on Patreon

If this takes off, I’ll figure out some more exciting rewards. For one thing, I’d like to be able to offer Google hangouts, but for that to happen I need to replace my computer with one that has a working webcam. But I hope to keep the lines of communication open with my patrons to figure out what they want so I can do my best to deliver.

And one more thing — even if you can’t (or just don’t want to) support my fiction in this way right now, some of the best support you can give me is word of mouth. Spreading the word about my Patreon page — and about my writing in general — will make you a Big Damn Hero in my book.

Thanks for reading. :)

Let’s Make 2014 Awesome!

shiny copyLet me get this out of the way first: I have a problem with referring to my readers as “fans.” Maybe this is a confidence problem, and I need to get over it and learn to embrace the word. After all, I don’t have any problem whatsoever with proudly referring to myself as a fan of the things that I love, and that’s exactly what I need to cultivate: a community of people who love and are enthusiastic about my fiction. Still, though, calling devotees of my own work “fans” makes me break out in mental hives. It just feels so egotistical and, well, unearned.

But here’s the thing: I’m willing to earn it. And with all of that said, let’s get to the actual point of this post:

Do you consider yourself a devotee, or even a fan, of my fiction? Are you enthusiastic enough about my writing to help spread the word? Are you impatient for me to write more books, and willing to do what you can to help make it possible for me to write more?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then this post is for you.

I’ve finally figured out what to do with my mailing list. I’ve decided to turn it into a sort of “reader appreciation club” whose members will receive the following:

  • Be the first to read my latest short story, Shiny: A Clockwork Fairytale, which you can preview right here
  • Exclusive sneak peeks and previews
  • Opportunities to beta-read new manuscripts and provide feedback
  • Opportunities to receive advance review copies of completed books
  • Be the first to know about release dates, cover reveals and other big news
  • Discounts on new releases
  • Have a chance to weigh in on decisions like which book I should write next
  • One-on-one communication with the author (that’s me)
  • And eventually, I hope to do exclusive giveaways and free swag, although that’s not in the budget currently

In return, I’ll occasionally ask you to do what fans do — be enthusiastic and tell people about my work.

So how does this help make 2014 awesome? Well, in theory, this will help generate some good word-of-mouth, which will help sell more books, which will in turn allow me to spend less time on paid freelance projects and more time on writing new books, and then we all win. Also, hopefully, organizing my reader base like this will help me keep tabs on how large my audience is and will also provide me with a muchly needed source for feedback so I’m not just shooting in the dark guessing about what my readers want.

Sound good? Well then, just enter your e-mail below to join the club!




Nanowri-NOPE!

A few things…

  • Nanowrimo’s not happening for me. There’s just too much on my plate right now for me to be able to make it a priority.
  • Relatedly, I think I need to take a semi-hiatus from this blog until things settle down and I figure out exactly what I want to be doing with it. I’ll still post if there’s news, but for the time being I won’t be posting just for the sake of putting content out there.
  • Since my freelance writing resume page imploded, I FINALLY made time to reconstruct it. Except instead of a page on this blog I set up a whole website for it. If you happen to know anyone who could use a freelance writer or content development coach, you can point them to my credentials here: Jean Marie Bauhaus – Writer for Hire

  • I am really, really glad it’s Friday.

NaNoWriMo Prep and a Cover Reveal

shiny_web_copyI managed to accomplished two (TWO!) writing/publishing-related things last weekend: I broke through my block and figured out the main plot arc of the next book in the Damned series (and also what book three is about, and that it’s up to four books now instead of being a trilogy); and I came up with a cover for Shiny, my steampunk cyborg fairy story (previewed here), that I’m (mostly) happy with. This is probably not the final final version (I’m not 100% sold on the main font, thanks to the “y” looking too much like a “g”), but it’s close. At any rate, I’m aiming to have it ready for release in December, after Nano is out of the way.

Speaking of Nanowrimo, I had originally planned to do a series of posts throughout this month covering the whys and hows and wherefores of participation in the month-long writing marathon, but I’ve been too preoccupied and overwhelmed with getting my web design and marketing business back off the ground and, frankly, I just don’t have a lot of steam left. What little steam I do have, I should probably save for writing my novel.

The short version is, for those who still question the sanity of Nanowrimo and whether or not they should give it a try, is that I recommend doing it at least once, if you have any book-length writing ambition whatsoever. The primary reason I recommend it is because it’s basically boot camp for learning how to keep a deadline. It forces you to learn how to make yourself write when you just have a few free minutes here and there. If you’re someone who thinks you can’t possibly write unless you have a big, solid block of uninterrupted time to “get your head in the zone” and “find your inspiration,” much like I used to be, this is a valuable and necessary lesson to learn.

2013-Participant-Vertical-BannerAs for me, I still need to relearn that lesson from time to time, which is why this is going to be my seventh year (it would have been my 8th, but I took last year off). After so many attempts–some of which were successful, some of which gave me books that were eventually good enough to publish, some of which produced manuscripts that are best left forgotten at the back of my hard drive–I’ve also figured out that the way Nano works best for me is to use it to write a discovery draft, a “draft zero” that’s somewhere between an expanded outline and a full-blown manuscript. That’s why I’m not going in with a detailed outline. As mentioned above, I do have the main arc worked out, so I’ll know what direction I need to move in, but I’ll basically be pantsing it and figuring out the details as I go.

I am a little doubtful of my chances for success this year, because as I said, I’m not running on a full tank of gas and my day job is still pretty busy. But being that it’s a sequel, I already know the characters, so I don’t have to spend time figuring them out and trying to find their voices. That should help things flow more smoothly. At any rate, I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself to “win.” As long as I get a good start on my next novel, regardless of whether I reach 50,000 words, I’m going to consider it time and effort well spent. And I’ll probably be working on this manuscript for the next six to 12 months, regardless of how far I get in November.

At any rate, it’s only two days away! Which means that Halloween is tomorrow! Which means that my big Halloween book sale is about to draw to a close! Which means you should totally go snag all of my books for 99 cents each before the price goes back up at the close of October 31st (or when I remember to go raise the prices back up on Friday)! So go now!

Kerplooie

That’s the sound I imagine my blog making on Friday when it imploded and all of the content disappeared. Although I suppose “kerplooie’ is more of an explosion than an implosion. At any rate, that happened.

The best part is that the site went down RIGHT after I sent out several freelance job applications with links to the freelance writing CV I’d spent two hours putting together on Thursday. For several hours after that, this blog, and every other WordPress site on our account, including our business blog and both of Matt’s websites, became completely inaccessible. When they finally came back up, all the other sites were fine, but this here blog?

Kerplooie.

No, wait: the ACTUAL best part was when I asked my web host’s tech support for help restoring the content, and they waited until the next day to respond, and their response was to tell me, basically, to buy their backup and restore tool and fix it myself. Funnily enough, after openly ranting at them about it on Twitter, suddenly they were able to get it restored post-haste. Never underestimate the power of airing your customer service grievances on Twitter. The name of my web host, by the by, is iPage, who offers dirt-cheap hosting, and let this be a lesson to all that with web hosting it’s especially true that you get what you pay for.

Okay, no, hold up. The really, REALLY best part is that, after all of that, the page with the freelance writing CV — you know, the one I’d spent two hours putting together the night before, the link to which I sent out to several job prospects on Friday right before the crash, and also the one of which I foolishly failed to make a backup copy — was not included in the site restore. So I’m going to have to track down all of those writing sample links and compile the whole thing all over again.

At any rate, I’m just grateful the site is finally back up and that I don’t have to restore everything myself. I’m also grateful that that would have been a possibility, and the one silver lining I kept clinging to was that if one of our sites had to get wiped, at least it was mine, since I mirror all of the posts to my Livejournal. Would restoring all of the content from LJ have been a pain? Yes. But at least it would have been doable, which is more than I could say for any of our other sites.

Oh, and here’s another lesson we can all learn from this: back up your websites and your WordPress databases regularly, folks. Don’t leave it up to your web host.

Surrender

God has really been at work in me lately. He’s been patiently pulling me through a rather painful and difficult process of learning to let things go, to stop being led by my ego and my stubborn desires and to submit my will to His.

I confess that we haven’t been happy lately. Pretty much the opposite, really. Not with each other, I should clarify — our marriage is the one great thing we’ve got going. Well, and our dog. He’s pretty great, too. He makes us laugh when we really don’t feel like laughing. But everything we’ve been working on and toward has ground to a halt. For a little while there it seemed like the freelance biz was starting to pick up and maybe head toward success, but it’s floundering again, and while we’re still managing to scrape by, home repairs are piling up, and other little emergencies keep cropping up, and things have been overwhelming and we’ve just kind of been drifting, directionless, not knowing where to go next or what to do. It’s like God suddenly said, “NOPE! This isn’t the direction I want for you guys.” And for a while, instead of humbling ourselves and praying for Him to show us the right direction, we (I, mostly) kept stubbornly butting our heads against the wall trying to make it move.

I’ve done a lot of crying out to the Lord in my frustration in the last couple of months. I’ve done a lot of casting about for something or someone (other than myself) to blame. But I’ve also been digging deeper into scripture and realizing that I’m the one who needs to change. I need to surrender my pride and my ego and humble myself to God’s will. I need to surrender all of my desires and give God rein over my life. I need to stop seeking my own pleasure and start seeking His. I need to stop trying to wrestle everything into submission to my own will and start trusting in Him to care for us. And I need to stop putting him in the back seat in certain areas of my life.

These are of course hard lessons for any Christian, but I think they might be especially hard for those who, like me, were raised in faith and grew up taking God and Christ and salvation and faith and etc. for granted. It’s hard to fully understand passages of scripture that talk about putting off the old man when you were only five years old when you got saved. It’s too tempting to think that you don’t have an old man to put off.

So now, at 40 years old, I’m just now beginning to grasp what it means to present myself a living sacrifice. I’m finally starting to understand that in letting myself be broken down like this I’m giving God material to work with so He can build me back up, and He’ll build me into something better than I ever could have imagined for myself.

Since I’ve come to that realization, things are starting to turn around. Doors are starting to open for us again. Matt and I had a heart-to-heart the other day about re-examining and re-defining our priorities and what changes we need to make to ensure that we’re walking in God’s will. Part of that is that we both need to start looking for work outside of the home, because God clearly hasn’t blessed our home business. We have to accept that maybe that’s not something He wants for us right now. Maybe it’s not something He wants for us ever. And that’s okay, because whatever He has for us will be better. At any rate, I have my peace back, and I’m full of hope for the first time in a long time.

Last year, we got to a point where business died down, and out of sheer desperation I started looking for a full-time job. I did so grudgingly. I cried a lot. I was resentful. I didn’t put my all into the search. Somehow, I still managed to find a job, but it was a terrible job and I only lasted there about six weeks, and I cried almost every day that I worked there. I came out of it resolved to make our business work no matter what.

But now, there are two differences. For one thing, we’re not desperate. We’ve still got some work coming in, plus content mill writing (which isn’t my favorite, but I’m grateful for it regardless), and while it’s not enough to prosper, it’s enough to make ends meet while I take the time to find the right job — the right job being one that meets all of our needs and is well-suited to my personality and abilities.

The other, biggest difference is that this time I have total and utter peace and contentment about going back to full-time employment. I’m even a little excited about it. And as we make our plans, I trust that the Lord will order our steps. I look forwarding to seeing where He leads us.

Hell, or Oklahoma? (I think that question might get asked a lot.)

So last week was… well, not Hell. But it was Oklahoma in the summertime without air conditioning, which can be easy to confuse for that other place. At any rate, it was one of the most difficult weeks in recent memory, speaking on a purely physical basis, and not much got done that wasn’t taking cold showers and giving the dog cold baths and sipping cold drinks and watching DIY air condenser repair videos on YouTube and generally hating life.

We first noticed that the condenser fan had stopped running toward the end of the previous week. At that point the temps weren’t so bad, so we didn’t panic. We were able to jerry-rig a screen on our patio door (which doesn’t have one built in), open some windows and turn on all the ceiling fans, and between the low-90s temps and the steady breezes, we were comfortable enough that Matt thought maybe he could take the time to learn how to fix it himself. I give him an A for effort and an A+ for tenacity, and I do believe he learned a lot. But by the time Thursday rolled around and it still didn’t work, the breezes all died away and the heat index ratcheted up to 111, he was ready to throw in the towel and call in my brother, who repairs ACs for a living.

Now I’m sure you’re asking, “Jean, if you have a brother who is an AC repairman, why on earth did you suffer with a broken AC for an entire week before calling him?” And there is an answer for that, albeit a lame one, and it is that we were afraid it would be awkward. See, in all the time we’ve lived here we’ve never had him over, and we both hated the thought that the first time we ever invited him over was to fix our air conditioner. Now, in our defense, we don’t know where he lives or what his place looks like, either. I guess we’re not really all that close. We usually see each other at Mom’s house on holidays and other occasions, and we text each other on occasion, and that’s usually enough.

Still, it felt awkward enough that we put it off for as long as we could. Of course, in true big brother fashion, he was happy to take time out of his Saturday to come take care of it. He replaced the capacitor and did some rewiring and got it running again, much to our relief. We paid him in pie and a promise to have him and my SIL over soon to feed them dinner and not ask him to do any manual labor. And thus endeth our week of pain.

But like I said, for the most part, it wasn’t that terrible. We spent a lot of time out on the patio, and on the worst day I took my laptop to the library to get some work done. Poor Matt, though, had to stay home to make sure the pets didn’t overheat. That was our biggest challenge, especially keeping Pete cooled off, because he was really having a hard time with it. Basically, we kept him wet pretty constantly and fed him a lot of ice. Toward the end, I rigged up a bandanna with a pocket to hold an ice cube that he could wear around his neck, which seemed to help.

But that was a week of lost productivity immediately following another week of productivity loss due to me simply feeling like crud all week. So I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I made up a lot of ground yesterday by doing all of the laundry, plus some mending, and vacuuming and other house work. Now I need to get some articles written and finished up while there’s still enough daylight left to do some yard work. After a weekend off, though, I’m having trouble getting the writing gears fired up again, so hopefully writing this post will give them a bit of grease and get me going.

Speaking of writing, it’s been two weeks since I’ve even attempted fiction or thought about the direction I want to go there. Once I’m caught up, I need to sit down and do some serious thinking in that regard. At any rate, I think it’s pretty much a given at this point that I won’t be doing the July session of Camp Nano. But good luck and happy writing to any campers who are.

Around and About

Sorry for the blog slowdown, folks. It’s been a general writing slowdown, really, while I’ve been taking care of business re: my health. I hesitate to go into detail here, since that’s not really what this space is for, but since a lot of women deal with this and don’t even know it, because it’s grossly underdiagnosed (seriously, I told probably five different doctors about my symptoms before one of them pinged on the right diagnosis), and someone might actually be helped with this info, I will mention that part of what’s been keeping me busy-distracted-busy is developing a plan to manage my PCOS. I blog in detail about that and other health issues at my personal blog, which is rapidly evolving into a PCOS-management blog (Livejournal followers, you can find it syndicated here).

And as long as I’m telling you about other places you can find me, here are a few more:

- I created a Facebook page for commissioning knit/crochet hats. For a few years now I’ve been making cute novelty hats for my nieces and nephews for their birthdays, and every time one of these hat presents gets opened, somebody invariably tells me that I need to be selling that stuff on Etsy. The problem with that is that I lack the budget to buy enough yarn and materials to build up inventory, and my yarn stash has been whittled down to really impractical novelty yarns that are terrible for hat-making. Also, I failed to take decent pictures of each hat I made before giving it away. So the hope here is that I’ll get enough commissions for made-to-order hats to be able to build my stash back up and make a lot of hats and open a proper shop on Etsy, eventually. And it’s not just novelty hats on the menu. I can do regular grown-up pretty hats, too. And bags. And fingerless mitts, and scarves and blankets and… basically, when you see something on Pinterest that makes you wish you could knit or crochet so you could make it for yourself? You can hire me to make it for you. So check that out.

- I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned this or not, but my Tumblr is active again after lying inert for over a year. It’s basically a catch-all that includes the feed for this blog, my Instagram pics and whatever I feel compelled to reblog from my Tumblr dashboard, usually geeky and fannish sorts of things, and occasionally inspiring things about writing. And of course the odd cute animal GIF.

- Due to an increase in activity from both trolls and creepers on my personal Facebook profile, I finally made that friends-only, and I’m only accepting friend-requests from people I know or with whom I have some degree of connection.  I have an official author page specifically for interaction with my readers, and I’m doing my very best to be more active there. So if we don’t actually know each other but you’d like to talk to me or ask me questions, either that page or this blog is probably the best place to reach out. You can also chat with me on my Twitter, but I’m not on there very consistently so I might be slow (like, taking days)  to respond.

#PrayForOklahoma: It Matters

thingsBeing on Facebook and Twitter immediately following the Boston Marathon bombing, I saw a lot of prayer pledges being sent over the network streams. I sent a few myself. I’m assuming all of the others I saw were as sincere as mine, that, like me, those sending them actually dropped what they were doing to pray for the bombing victims. It was the only thing most of us could do.

In the days and weeks following the bombings, I also saw a lot of criticism of those prayers from atheist and agnostic commentators who feel like such expressions are a waste of time, or an exercise in futility, or complete and utter nonsense, a waste of words and breath meant only to make useless people feel useful but doing nothing that actually matters or makes a difference.

Well, if I may be so bold as to speak on behalf of Oklahoma, I’m here to tell you: it does make a difference.

Of course, there are exceptions, and those for whom it doesn’t matter. Although we’re a thoroughly red state and a major notch in the Bible Belt, we’re still a pretty diverse state and there are those who call Oklahoma their home who don’t believe in or understand prayer. But those folks are the minority here.

By and large, the people of Oklahoma believe in the power of prayer. We believe it can result in miracles, and for those who missed their miracles, it can result in peace and healing and the strength to stand up under the weight of overwhelming grief and loss.

When that massive tornado first showed up on the news yesterday, still in progress and bearing down on Moore, people all across the nation stopped what they were doing and lifted up Oklahoma in prayer. And let me tell you, while that storm raged a second storm cell was making its way through my neck of the woods, across several small towns north of Tulsa. That storm carried with it a tornado warning and showed all the signs of being as potentially deadly as the one in central Oklahoma. But before it could gather full strength, the nation started praying for us, and that storm didn’t turn out nearly as bad as it threatened to become. I fully believe that without those prayers, the devastation in Oklahoma yesterday might have been much more widespread.

And look at the miraculous reports coming out of Moore today. The death toll was downgraded by more than half. Over a hundred people were found alive and rescued after being given up for dead. This lady found her dog in the rubble after believing it had perished. And the outpouring of love and support from both within the state and without is awesome to behold. Hospitals and rescue organizations are having to turn away volunteers because so many people are showing up to help. People who have lost their own homes are focused on helping their neighbors. Oklahoma is doing what it does best: pulling together, reminding us that, even in the midst of devastation and tragedy, we are truly a blessed state.

If you believe prayer has nothing to do with any of that, then you and I are on completely different wavelengths.

But if you were one of the ones praying yesterday, I can tell you this: Oklahomans, by and large, are grateful for every single word of prayer sent up on our behalf. It’s not useless, and it most definitely makes a difference. Sometimes it’s all you can do. And sometimes it’s the most important thing you can do.

But if you’d like to do more than pray, my friend Rebekah Loper has put together a list of resources for how you can help support the people of Moore in their recovery.

UPDATE Re: the photo accompanying this post: “My nephew, Heath Alan Dodd, never would have thought his picture would have gone viral like it did. He wants doesn’t want to profit monetarily from the picture and so would like to ask that if the picture Moves You, to please donate to RedCross.org or $10 by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999. Our hearts are with the victims of the 2013 Moore Tornado. Any help in sharing this photo and helping to get the information about donations to the Red Cross would be greatly appreciated!”

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