Organization and the untrained eye

I continue to be completely thrilled with my virtual assistant, Adriel. Not only is she taking over tasks that I can do—if I want to do them instead of write, but she’s also super organized, which is so awesome!!!

If you saw my office—which at the moment I’d call “reasonably tidy”—you might question my organizational abilities, and perhaps chuckle if I mentioned that I consider organizing one of my superpowers. 🙂 I’m organized in swaths, so I have very detailed (and colorful!) spreadsheets, my file cabinets are organized, and my books are ordered on the shelves. (Okay, so I have more books than shelves…but still.) I tend to take on too many things, or to procrastinate on a project I know will be a lot of work. For example, one of my projects is to scan piles and piles of paperwork so I can get rid of the hard copies. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of paper, but I’ve been working on this for I don’t know how many months. 🙂 And, of course, I only have so much time available, since in addition to writing and my publishing business I have a day job and two cute, fluffy border collies to entertain.

At the end of the day, while I may not appear super organized to the untrained eye, I actually am—at least in spots. 🙂 So seeing how organized Adriel is has not only made me happy, it’s also making it a lot easier to turn over tasks to her because I feel really comfortable with her. Yay!!!

Having an assistant is a time-saver, but it also means that I have to organize my files even more and write up how-tos for things where I have a specific approach I’d like followed. So there is a fair bit of time and effort on my part right now which is taking time away from other projects, but it’s a one-time investment, and is totally worthwhile.

Speaking of other projects, I just had a story accepted for the second issue of Vagabond Magazine, which is edited by Chuck Anderson and Jim LeMay of Mad Cow Press. 🙂 I wrote the first draft of this story about five years ago and have wanted to finish it ever since, but there was always another project that was higher priority. When Chuck and Jim said they were putting together an issue with an apocalypse theme, I got super excited, and I’m so happy I had an excuse to finally finish the edits on this story! I realize writing a post-apocalyptic story doesn’t sound like me, but hey—I’m full of surprises! 🙂

In addition to editing, writing how-to documents, and finishing yet another jigsaw puzzle (I think this is my 8th of the year…but it could be the 9th…), I’m studying Japanese! I’m going on a trip to Tokyo for my day job, which seems crazy, but there it is. I figured if I’m going to be in Japan for a week, I can at least learn how to ask questions that I won’t understand the answers to. 🙂 So far the most interesting thing has been that I’ve recognized some words and phrases as having been used in the television series The Man in the High Castle. This was quite a surprise because I didn’t know what the words meant when I last watched the show, and had no idea that they’d stuck enough in my memory enough for me to recognize them months afterward.

And last: in dog news, Jasper is getting massages and acupuncture on alternating weeks, and he’s been feeling his oats! An extra special thanks to our vet Lacey Jones (Jasper’s acupuncturist) and Mary Kennedy (Jasper’s massage therapist) for helping him feel so much better!!!

 
 

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Cats and luck!

I’m very, very pleased to report that my taxes are done! Hooray! For the first time ever I put most of the information together in December, so the final bit was extremely easy. The end was even easier since my super awesome accountant did the hard work, at least from my perspective. 🙂 I’d like to say I learned a valuable lesson, and will be this organized (or even more!) going forward. We’ll see if my good intentions last…

While I am, sadly, going on ten long years of being catless, I write the occasional cat-themed story, and each time I think about how happy I’ll be when I have cats again. Notice I said cats plural—because why have just one? 🙂 Three of my catty short stories are in the Cat Tales bundle series, which is curated by Steve Vernon. Steve is a wonderful writer—he’s had stories in several collections I’ve organized so far, and I hope to continue working with him for many, many more years. He’s also a cat lover, hence the Cat Tales series!

Steve also put together the Weird Wild West bundle, which contains my novel With Perfect Clarity as well as three other novels and eight short stories.

I’m working on several anthologies, have ten or so short stories to write before the end of the year, have committed to make a round of edits on my next novel and deliver it to my editor by July 1st, and plan on writing at least one more novel (actually three, but we’ll see how that goes…) by the end of the year. And yes, I still have a day job, make time for my friends and my dogs, and all that…so my life is obviously a time management nightmare. 🙂 But things are getting better, because I recently hired an assistant—and she’s awesome!!!

I learned about Adriel Wiggins from another author I know, Andrea Pearson. (Andrea is also awesome!) About two weeks ago I decided to email Adriel and see if she had any room for another client. Fortunately I hadn’t yet listened to the interview Mark Lefebvre did with Adriel in which she said she wasn’t taking on new clients. 🙂 Completely by accident I managed to email her at just the right time, so I snuck in—and now she’s back to not taking on more clients.

Even though we just started working together last week, Adriel has already saved me gobs of time. Plus she’s super organized, detailed, and very easy to communicate. I am spending a lot of time right now documenting things and cleaning up my existing files, but the time investment on my part is totally worth it. I am SO happy to be working with her! Now I’ll just need to stay focused and take advantage of the extra time I have to write!

 
 

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I finished two new things!

I recently finished editing a new short story, and sent it off for review! I think the editors for this collection will like it, but you never know. Or they might like it but feel it’s not a good fit for this particular collection. Having put together a bunch of collections myself, I’ve learned that a story can be fantastic, but if it doesn’t fit the theme, or if it doesn’t mesh well with the other stories, then it’s not a good fit for the collection as a whole. But in this particular case, I can say that my mom likes it, so that’s a win! 🙂

This new story is actually one that I started writing in 2014. I had a full draft, but I’d never made the final editing pass because I always had other projects that had deadlines and homes, whereas I wasn’t quite sure where to submit this one. It’s a post-apocalyptic story, set in our contemporary world, but after a virus has wiped out most of the world’s population. I wanted to focus on what life might be like for someone who’d survived the pandemic—but I also wanted to give the story a more positive spin. We’ll see what the editors of this collection think!

I also recently wrote a historical fantasy story, “The Tommys,” which is in Beasties, the latest issue of the Uncollected Anthology. I had several ideas, and I liked them all, but I just kept feeling like they weren’t quite right for this collection even though they all fit the theme. I finally decided to write a new story using a character I’m considering using for a novel series at some point (in my copious free time…). That was totally the right decision, but it’s a historical fantasy story, and any time I write historical fiction I end up spending a lot of time doing research to get facts right (or at least as right as I’m able to). So the new story took way, way longer to write. 🙂 I really like the end result, though!

 

 

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