Saved by a list!

I’ve reached the point where I have so much to do I have no clue what to do next when I finish a task…

But never fear – I’ve made a new list! 🙂

I love lists – my mom says I made lists even as a little kid. We didn’t have spreadsheets back in the olden days, but if we had I’m sure I would have made lots of them – and they would all be colorful.

The new list is really just a simple to do list that contains what I have to do today, what I should work on next if I have time, and what I should work on tomorrow. Once I finish a task I delete it (well, I actually put it on another list that tracks what I’ve completed…), so I only see what I haven’t yet done.

The ‘tomorrow’ part is really helpful because I start each day with a plan rather than relying on my memory and my not-always-prioritized sense of what to do next. And the ‘nice-to-have’ section – which I’m intentionally keeping very short so it truly does contain things I could realistically work on if I had time – is helpful as well. I don’t get to many of the nice-to-haves, but having them listed there means I will (probably) work on them instead of wander off and do something less important if I get ahead for the day.

I’ve been posting author profiles on The Faerie Summer’s Facebook page, and timed putting these up around The SF&F Binge Reader Bundle, which ends on August 10th. The Faerie Summer is one of the 7 anthologies in this bundle – there are also 19 novels. I’ve never been a part of something this big before, and it’s really cool.

Just for fun, here’s a snippet from the private eye novel I’m apparently putting on my to-do list. This is from the first draft of the opening – Jack is a blue heeler aka Australian cattle dog. I’m cutting out the part where I introduce him, so to give you an idea of what he might look like here’s a picture of Lucy, a blue heeler who is one of our dear departed hounds. (Notice Lucy was playing with a pine cone in this photo…)

It was half past two on a Wednesday afternoon. I sat in my dingy office dressed to the nines in my charcoal gray suit, a white and gray pinstriped shirt, and a gray tie. I’d spent all my rent money on that outfit, hoping I might get more work if I looked a bit classier. The plan was not going well. My rent was due in less than a week, and so far no one had even stopped by my office to see just how classy and hirable I looked.

With Alda, just the fact that a dame like this showed up looking to hire me at all should have been the biggest clue. She gave a sharp rap on the door, then waltzed in like she owned the place. Jack gave a low, deep growl, the kind of sound that he normally made when my brother visited. That should have caught my attention, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the woman.

She wore a red dress that clung to every curve, and made me want to cling to them as well. A fuzzy white stole was draped over her bare shoulders, although it couldn’t possibly have done enough to keep her warm in the cool October air outside. Her long, blonde curls looked buoyant, as if they might float up in the air on their own.

“Mr. Gibson?” she asked. “Mr. Robert Gibson, Private Investigator?” Her lips were painted the same crimson shade as her dress, and her golden-brown eyes were framed with long, dark eyelashes that fluttered as she looked down at the small piece of paper she held in her delicate fingers. Her nails were the same color as her dress. She looked as out of place in my office as a Ming vase in a subway station.

“That’s me,” I said. I shot a glance at Jake. He glared at the woman from his perch on an old armchair I’d pulled out of someone’s trash last year. I’d thrown a flannel blanket over top of the chair to make it more comfortable for him, and for me when I had to spend the night in it with him, which happened more often than either of us liked. Jake glanced at me and flicked his pointed ears back, and then laid back down, his eyes fixed on the woman.

“Oh my,” she said. She raised one hand to her ample bosom and took a breath so deep I wondered if the fabric of her dress would hold. Unfortunately it did.

“That’s Jake,” I said. “He’s all bark and no bite.” That wasn’t actually true, but Jake had never bitten one of my clients. So far.

“I’m Alda Amriss,” she said. “I’d like to hire you to find a murder.” She tugged on the ends of her stole and sat down on the worn wooden chair that sat on the other side of my desk.

I forced my eyes to stay focused on hers instead of on the parts I really wanted to look at.

“A murderer?” I asked. “Isn’t that a job for the police?” Not that I couldn’t do the same thing that they would – and probably faster to boot, since I didn’t have to follow all the rules and process that slowed them down. But people who hired private eyes for cases like that usually did so because things were messy, and I didn’t feel like dealing with messy. At least not unless it paid well. Or, well, just paid at all.

Alda shook her head. “Not a murderer, a murder,” she said. “It hasn’t happened yet.”

~ ~ ~

I have no idea what happens next, so your guess is as good as mine. 🙂

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