What I’m working on this week

Working for myself means I get to decide what project I want to work on when — AND IT IS THE BEST. Just the other day, I tweeted about how reading Harry Potter totally counts as work for me this month.* Depending on what kind of blog content I have planned, I may need to be reading a non-fiction book for a review or working on a memory keeping project. I can be watching a video series on how to build my email list or reading a novel to provide edits to the author or journaling about when we bought our home for an example for a new product.

It’s the best.

This month is a combination of finishing projects started earlier this year and getting ready to start 2015 with a bang. Here’s what I’m working on this week, a look into what my to do list looks like ….

Editing my novel, working title Academy of Secrets

novel writing and editing

This will be my first completed and published novel (!). I would like to send it to my first round of beta readers this week (or, really, last week), so this is going to be the biggest chunk of my week. Throughout 2014 I dedicated A LOT of time to writing fiction, spent a lot of money on it and didn’t earn a penny. 2015 is going to be the opposite, hopefully, but the first thing to do is finish this novel. Tentative release the beginning of March. Sign-up here for first news!

Week in the Life album

witl2

This is the first memory keeping project I actually have attempted in 2014 and I really want to finish putting it together before the end of the year (especially considering the last time I did this project was 2011, and all those photos and journaling are still sitting on my harddrive). I have everything I need to finish, I just need to sit down and do it.

December Daily album

DecDaily2014-2

I love the holiday season and I love the idea of doing a December album, but if I don’t keep up with it semi-regularly I will never do it. So this week I am editing photos from last week and getting them printed. I’ll fill in some journaling and embellishments as I go. Little by little.

30 Days of Lists

To be honest, most of the WORK work is done for #30Lists. Which means I get to just spend some time in the Facebook group with the participants and keep 1 eye on email just in case. SUCH a fun project!

Blog party posts

January 1 will see 24 blog posts in 24 hours. That’s many weeks’ of content for Lemon and Raspberry, so I need to get started early. I begin with revisiting what I have done in the past (some post topics are great to use year after year), and then also brainstorm a bunch of more topics I could write about. I usually have about 30-40 post ideas ready and narrow them down to 24 by December 30 or 31.

Previous years I have spent most of the day December 31 (and even the morning of January 1) writing blog posts and I definitely don’t want to do that again! The earlier I start the better!

(I’m also accepting guest posts if you think you’d be a good fit!)

What are you working on this week?

*If you’re wondering how I am justifying that, remember that I am helping lead the Harry Potter book club, remember that I am launching a fiction-writing career. And every person in the Harry Potter book club is a super-passionate reader. What better way to find potential readers for my own books than get in front of and make friends with these readers? Therefore reading Harry Potter = marketing!

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5th annual blog party! Calling all guest posters

blog party 2015

GUESS WHAT!! The annual New Year’s Day L&R blog party is coming!

This is the FIFTH year in a row that I get to spend New Year’s Day with you all!

I start thinking about blog posts in … oh, September or so. 24 hours of blog posts. Every hour. On the hour. All day.

Also all day? Discounts and giveaways and it’s my favorite way to spend New Year’s Day! I hope you’ll join me!

I’m open to guest posts – email me by December 14 with your guest post pitch (and check out these tips first).

Mark your calendars!

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November Book Report

November was a slow month for reading ….

Axis of Aaron by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant: This is definitely the kind of book that needs to be read more than once. I do have some gripes — I don’t love the way the female characters are drawn, even if it is a deliberate device. I also don’t love how explainy the text is. I prefer to make connections and figure things out for myself and not have the writer wave a big red flag that says, ‘hey! did you get this symbolism I’m using?!’. But other than that I really liked it.

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest: The second in this alternative history, steampunk series. Really good, and I would recommend the series. Although, my library doesn’t have books 3 or 4 so I don’t know how I’m going to read more. This particular book is about a Confederate nurse (in a world where the Civil War has lasted ~30 years), taking a train west to Seattle and all that ensues (attacks! politics! more that would constitute spoilers!).

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger: Just came out the first week of November. Book 3 of I think 4 in this series. Just read what I said about books 1 and 2 here. The big conflict becomes more pointed in W&W so I’m looking forward to the conclusion. Whenever that is.

I also read the book I am writing about 4 times AND the rough draft of the sequel to The Dream Engine as part of Fiction Unboxed 1.5. And about half of a history book.

I’ve decided not to check out any library books for the rest of the year so I can A) re-read Harry Potter because obviously. And B ) catch-up on all the mountains of to-read piles already in my house.

P.S. I’ve started a tumblr that is going to be book-centric if you’d like to follow me over there too

Read anything good lately?

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Harry Potter group re-read-along for December

I have been thinking about re-reading Harry Potter for about six months. I think about re-reading Harry Potter all the time. ALL THE TIME. I only want to read it in cold weather, so in the middle of summer I day dream about curling up under a quilt with coffee and Harry.

I love these books. I love love them. I wrote my Master’s Thesis about them and these are really the first books that made me feel like maybe I could write fiction (counter intuitive since I can’t imagine ever writing something as good).

I love these books. I’ve been on a very busy treadmill of library books recently. But my t0-read piles of books I own are getting taller. So I’m starting fresh. As of today I have a couple library books to finish, and then I’m not going to check out any more until at least 2015.

On December 1 I am starting a Harry Potter re-read! My seventh or eighth probably. Maybe more. I’ve lost track.

AND YOU ARE INVITED TO JOIN ME!

harry potter_edited-1

My friends will be joining me and we will be taking over the NovelTea Book Club Facebook Group as a central hub.

You should know –

#1 — IT IS ASSUMED YOU HAVE READ THE BOOKS ALREADY.

No one is going to be precious about spoilers. Seriously, the books came out like almost 20 years ago. No sympathy. Don’t visit the Facebook group if you don’t want anything spoiled for you.

#2 — We don’t really have discussion questions planned. Something may come up organically, but this is more just a mutual love-of-HP-gush-fest.

#3 — Read as fast as you want. Read as slow as you want. There is absolutely no reason you need to finish these books on any set timetable (particularly by the end of the month)

#4 — We’re using #HPDec if you post about it on Instagram/Twitter/Tumblr/etc.

My Harry Potter re-read will likely be a big part of my December album (I’m looking for some good HP journaling card designs if you have any leads).

That’s it! No rules, just a fun group read-along.

I hope you’ll join us!

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Our story right now …

team schubertOur NINTH wedding anniversary is tomorrow. Our first kiss was April 2001. We’ve been together a (very) long time — not that far off from half my life, actually. We’ve been through a lot of different stages and life changes and challenges. Always together. Always Team Schubert.

Right now …

… Andrew is working ~90+ hours per week consistently (since at least March or so)

… He is legitimately (moderately) famous in his industry. With, like, fanboys. For real.

… I could not possibly be more proud of him, and I am so thrilled that he loves his career so much

… I feel guilty that I’m not bringing in more income so he can quit his day job

… He constantly insists he doesn’t want me to do anything other than I am already doing, which mostly is working on a novel

… Our major activities when we are together are either marathoning a TV show or doing work on the house.

… or playing with the cats. Their new favorite is chasing pennies around the wood floor.

… Andrew is always happy to help me with scrapbooking projects, like taking photos at his recording sessions or journaling for Week in the Life

… We have a couple mini-trips planned with friends and family in the next couple months, but I can’t wait til we have money to go on a proper long vacation just the two of us.

… Several nights each week I go to bed alone because he is still working. I don’t sleep very well when he’s gone and wake up regularly to check if he texted me that he’s on his way.

… I get a lot of texts that say things like ‘leaving soon,’ or ‘off the freeway’. When I wake up at 2am and don’t know where he is I worry and can’t get back to sleep. My brain is never rational in the middle of the night.

… For the first time in a long time we’re scheduling date nights. They are on our shared Google calendar. Because Andrew tends to over-book himself and is too generous with his time.

… I’ve been making chicken stock from scratch every other week or so because Andrew loves it so much. He has some in the mornings instead of coffee or even for lunch and dinner.

… He can’t wait to read the books I’m writing. Which simultaneously scares me out of my mind and really inspires me to finish.

… He’s my best friend. I’m his. And we tend to talk each other’s ears off when we do get to spend time together.

Next year we plan on taking proper, professional portraits for our anniversary. I’m very excited!

P.S. This is the family photo we took for last week’s Week in the Life. Andrew is the best about helping me with those kinds of projects.

What is your RIGHT NOW story?

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October Book Report

Scary stuff this month! Usually Andrew and I binge on horror movies during the month of October, but he was working too much. So we stuck to Walking Dead and I read some more Halloweeny books.

Read in October:

I am not a serial killer by Dan Wells: This was actually lower on my library list but I moved it up. Because Scary October, obviously. I loved this book! First person, 15-year-old boy narrator. He knows he’s a sociopath, is obsessed with serial killers and could easily become a serial killer himself but sets up rules for himself to make sure he never crosses the line. Until a serial killer begins murdering people in his small town and he’s sucked in. It’s the first in a trilogy, so I should get the others too. (full disclosure: I find serial killers fascinating, but I don’t think I’m a sociopath)

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest: Young Adult, alternate Civil War-era steampunk with zombies. First in a series. I enjoyed it, but i didn’t love it. I will probably read the next one in the series (again, I’m trying to get a grasp on steampunk, since that is allegedly what I am supposed to be writing). I did really love the premise and the zombie creation method (I love zombie stories), I think the whole world she has created is fascinating.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King: I think you must read Stephen King in October, right? It’s a rule? This book is billed as King’s first harboiled detective novel. He clearly loves detective novels, and adheres to many of the ‘rules’, but then departs from the formula so spectacularly, I’m not totally sure what to think. I didn’t love it. I can’t say more without spoiling it, but I loved the character of Jerome.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: Read as part of the NovelTeaBookClub. My first Gaiman, actually, but it didn’t put me under his spell. I’ll have to read another Gaiman to be sure. Good. Kind of sweet, actually. Made me want to go hang out in an old graveyard.

(Semi-related sidenote: On my list of ‘one day’ projects is to make a minibook of photos of all the graveyards we’ve visited. Andrew is obsessed.)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell: I love Rowell, and this was a fun, relationship, time-travely book. The crazy work schedule of the main character reminded me of Andrew, funnily enough. This was just a fun, bittersweet, quick read. I didn’t really feel like it had enough depth to require a re-read in the future.

 Threshold by Sean Platt and David Wright: Another paperback that was put in my hands so I am far more likely to read it than the ebook copy. A haunted house story, so perfect for Scary October (in which Andrew and I just watch a lot of scary movies). I found the premise slightly ridiculous and the ending even more ridiculous, but if you are suspending disbelief for the supernatural haunted house, you might as well expand into suspending disbelief for the rest too.

Read anything good lately?

P.S. I’ve missed reading history for the last month+.

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Memories and cravings triggered by fall

  • Scary movies and ghost hunting shows: I actually broke down this year and bought a ‘season pass’ to Ghost Adventures, Andrew will be recording the new season of Walking Dead at work, and we just immerse ourselves in the horror and thriller categories of Netflix.
  • cinnamon in my coffee: YES. Directly in the coffee pot with the grounds. So good. But special to fall.
  • cold mornings, hoodie sweatshirts and cardigans: love love love being cozy. I love when it is cold enough for layers.
  • Band of Brothers, LOTR appendices and Harry Potter: These are all ‘comfort’ movies, and for whatever reason I associate them with fall. I have lots and lots of photos to edit, so I’m hoping to relax with all of these over the next few weeks.
  • working from bed with the window open: We’ve got an enormous window in our bedroom, and with the weather cooler, this is the perfect place for me to spend all day. Laptop, coffee, cats and under the covers.
  • cats on my lap every second for the warmth: I run hot, and the cats have learned this. When it’s a little cold in the house I get piled upon.
  • apples and peanut butter: yum.

This is the time of year that the weather in SoCal shifts, and we get to keep our windows open all day and memories from previous falls pop into my head.

Fall is my very favorite time of year. I keep texting Andrew the weather forecasts with lots of exclamation points when the high is lower than 85 degrees! I get super giddy happy this time of year.

What is your favorite part about fall?

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October is for realizations

For the last few years, October has been a time of reflection and realizations. I’m not totally clear why, but I think it comes from a mix of the weather changing (and my favorite season really making me super happy) contrasted against all of the build of frustration elsewhere. It’s hard to describe:

In October 2010 I realized that I want to do work that matters and my day job at the time wasn’t it. I got a phone call at home, 6 hours before I was supposed to be there, about a comma. Completely unnecessary and very frustrating.

In October 2011 I was told my work schedule would change to Sunday – Thursday against my will. That was the only time I have ever cried at work and was seriously depressed. I realized I wanted to be some place where I’m not taken for granted and merit means something

In October 2012 I got physically ill (severe headache, dizzy and nausea) and then nearly immediately better after I called out sick. It’s incredibly powerful when you recognize how something negative in your life is really affecting you.

In October 2013 I decided to quit my long-time personal blog Those Crazy Schuberts, for many reasons. I freed up several hours of my week, and relaxed some of my personal anxiety by making that decision.

This year, October 2014 …. Feels like a sea change. For both Andrew and I — this October is for realizations for Team Schubert.

As I mentioned yesterday, Andrew’s work schedule has been ridiculous this year and we are starting to see what our lives can look like once all this hard work pays off. He is getting recording clients from literally all over the world. A band was just here from Oregon, but earlier in the year a band from Toronto came out to work with Andrew and a band from France hired him to mix a song.

That, combined with my projected new career as a fiction writer is going to change the entire structure of our lives.

It’s still far away; we both still have a lot (a lot) of work to do to make this new life pay our bills, but we are on this path together. We are each fully behind each other’s individual goals, as we work toward a better life together.

Having someone like Andrew on my team, supporting me spending hours (and hours) every day writing with nothing yet to show for it is the best. Knowing how I can help him work toward his goal of being 100% freelance has changed so much about how I spend my days.

This October has been hard, but so awesome so far. Can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

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planning the end of 2014

We have fewer than 100 days left of the year, so I’ve begun to plan. I’m a planner. I can’t help it. I like to know what direction I want to be headed. Even if my path ends up veering off, I like to know roughly where I want to end up. Knowing my big-picture priorities helps me establish my daily to-dos. There are things I want to finish, things I want to reassess and (yes) things for the future I want to plan.

This is the perfect time of year for me to review my tasks and my priorities, because I am beginning to feel overwhelmed. How did my year get so full?

Oh, that’s right. I said ‘yes’ to some amazing opportunities and didn’t quit anything else to make room. I remember now.

I just recently finished doing developmental editing for all 20+ stories in a short story anthology Beyond the Gate (releasing soon, for free). It was difficult and extremely time-consuming (one story alone took me 10 hours), but I loved it so much. I am hoping that it leads to more developmental editing clients, because good lord did I love it. Reading fiction, flexing my critical analysis master’s degree muscle, but also helping a writer to shape their story into its best form. LOVE IT.

I work part-time for a portrait photographer, and this time of year my work load doubles and triples. Already. Maggie was basically completely booked by last week, and now we are pushing her associate photographer. It will be like this until probably mid-December.

And then, on top of all of that, I am trying to write a book so it is ready to be published by March 1 (for larger world and marketing purposes). Complicating this are the facts that A) it is the first book of a series, so I need to do at least some big-picture plotting and B ) I didn’t actually know what happens in the book when I started writing it. As of the writing of this post I am still flailing a little, but certainly doing better.

It is all I can do to keep up with my self-imposed deadline. And I must keep that deadline if I want to produce something at least reasonably close to my own standards by March 1.

So, for the rest of 2014 I will be….

Keeping up with L&R: Blog posts, a couple more webinars, and creating a lot of content for my annual blog party on Jan 1 (email me if you want to pitch a guest post). I am being modest in my L&R-specific plans for now, since I’m not entirely sure how much time I will have to spend doing photographer-customer-service, or how much time getting a book ready to be published will take. Once I have a better handle on my schedule and limitations, I have tons of fun ideas for L&R (and US History Class and TravelScrap HQ and others)

Writing book 1: The goal is to have the first draft of book 1 done by October 31, and revised and ready for beta readers by Jan 1. Somewhere in there I also want to plot book 2, so I can start writing it on Jan 1. I also need to start marketing for this series (once I have a title and figure out what it is really about), source a cover design, etc. This is my fifth book (in first draft), but I have not actually finished one all the way to being published. All learning for me.

Fiction Unboxed 1.5: My friends at Sterling and Stone are writing a book live again, and I will be following along. Partly because I think it is fascinating, particularly their story meetings and brainstorming together. But also because I am writing in the same world, 20 years earlier. If they set specific world-building details (like, length of the prime minister’s term, for example) those are things I need to know for my own books. They are running it in conjunction with NaNoWriMo, so you can still sign up.

Date nights with Andrew: His freelance schedule has completely out of control since about May. Mostly because he is so good at what he does and so many people want to work with him, and he can’t say no. To the point where he sleeps at home only about once a week. True story. But, we are going to try to have Friday nights set aside just for us. He still might have his day job interfere, but he won’t be scheduling any sessions or concerts or anything on Friday nights. I’m so excited!

Read books: Because this is where my heart is. At least a few minutes every day. It’s really my only ‘hobby’ — everything else is work of some kind. I’m on track to read 100+ this year! Reading will always be a priority. It makes me sad all the writers who say things like, “I used to read, but now I just don’t have time.” I don’t want that to be me.

What direction are you headed in? What does the rest of your year look like?

SHIFT_free creativity guide

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September Book Report

Reading up on as much steampunk as I can get my hands on because I will be writing a book series in a steampunk-ish world. Any recommendations for me? Also watching Victorian-era movies and The Princess Diaries. SO fun!

Some reads from September:

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: This was a quick, adventurey, Young Adult read, recommended by Kam. The main character is 12, so the simple reading level of one of the first 2 Harry Potter books, and in fact Percy Jackson reminds me a bit of Harry (hot-headed, self-sacrificing, etc). I liked it. Not enough to buy it and obsess over it, but I plan on reading the rest of the series and trying out Riordan’s other 2 series as well. It’s nice to have easy YA books to read sometimes. Breaks up the U.S. History.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: I love this series. I believe Count Olaf was written for Jim Carrey. I love the unique voice. I love the tiny details thrown in. I love the side references to Snicket’s love for Beatrice. I love books with smart, capable kids.

Soulless by Gail Carriger: Fun but slightly ridiculous. Just an easy, quick supernatural steampunk … thriller romance? I don’t know exactly how I would categorize the genre. I get irritated with books that throw in sex just to have it there, and this book felt a *little* like that. Lord Maccon reminds me a bit of the hulking Rhett Butler. I’ll probably read the next in the series, but we’ll see. I enjoy the tone and humor either way.

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger: Hot pink book cover so you know it’s for women. God bless marketing. This is a Young Adult pre-quel to the Parasol Protectorate series (read as part of the NovelTeaBookClub). The main character Sophronia is enrolled in a finishing school where she learns things like poisoning and intelligence gathering in addition to proper curtsies. I liked this book more than Soulless. Probably because there was no love story to distract from the main plot. Probably because it gave me ideas for my own book series. It seemed less silly, somehow, than Soulless.

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger: The sequel to Etiquette & Espionage. Less world-building details (she is already at the school, after all) and deeper conspiracy. This book almost didn’t feel resolved — it is clearly just one step along the way to the bigger story. But I love the tone and the world details. The third book in this series comes out in a week or so and I’m looking forward to it.

The Dream Engine by Johnny B Truant and Sean Platt: This was a re-read. Kinda. I read the first draft as it was written in June, but this was my first read of the final, published version. The writing weekend I went to a few weeks ago was related to this book, so I re-read half of it in advance of going, and the other half when I got back (and had an autographed paperback in my hand). I will be writing a book series in this world, so I imagine I will be re-reading this book and its sequels a lot. During the writing weekend we started planning out future books in this series and it’s going to be fantastic!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: This was a re-read, started solely because I wanted a book to read on the plane to and in Austin that *goes with* the book I had in mind to write/brainstorm without being too close as to lead to unintentional plagiarism. And, lord almighty, I had forgotten just how beautiful the prose in this book is. This is one of those books that I just adore, the kind I have decided to call ‘literary fiction through a veil of fantasy’ (like the later Harry Potter books, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or The Magicians series). I love it. I can’t wait for Andrew to read it.

Read anything good lately?

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